Otis Taylor’s Trance Blues Festival & Jam Workshop

  • When: November 9, 2019 Time: 10:00 am - 9:00 pm
  • Where: eTOWN HALL / 1535 Spruce Street, Boulder, CO 80302
  • Cost: $35 - 85 (Plus Applicable Service Fees)
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Children under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

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Want to play with a legend? Join international blues artist Otis Taylor in his home town of Boulder, Colorado—the city nestled between the mountains and reality—for the extraordinary Trance Blues Jam Festival. Unlike traditional music festivals where the audience is mostly passive, you are the rock star at the Trance Blues Jam Festival (TBJF). TBJF encourages and inspires people to be active participants. The point is to create music together. Led by Taylor’s infectious mastery, fed by his band’s passion, and wed with your musical expression, the trance jam is where you get to live your musical dreams.

The TBJF is designed for players of all types, all ages, and all ability levels to join in. It’s all about creating music together, not someone showing how well they can shred the guitar. It doesn’t matter what you play. Last year’s festival included vocalists, guitars, harmonicas, oboes, banjos, flutes, cellos, drums, violins, recorders, tambourines, maracas, mandolins and more.

The festival kicks off with a professional jam on Saturday, November 11th,  with workshops during the day leading up to the Grand Jam in the evening. Fans and spectators are welcome at all events (with the purchase of a ticket, of course!).


All Saturday events are held at eTown Hall in Downtown Boulder (1535 Spruce Street).

Saturday Morning and Afternoon Workshop: 10am-4pm

Doors for the Workshop: 9am

Workshop: 10am - 4pm

Workshop participants will join with Mr. Taylor and the Visiting Artists for both the morning and afternoon sessions. The evening performance will feature the Visiting Artists. Participants will find a wide variety of dining options available for lunch and dinner in Downtown Boulder.

Saturday Night:

Evening Performance with Otis Taylor the Visiting Artists and Select Participants 7pm - 9pm

Doors: 6pm

Show: 7pm - 9pm

The highlight of the weekend will begin at 7PM as Mr. Taylor, the Visiting Artists and select participants take the stage at eTown Hall for the evening performance. Evening-only passes include audience admission to the performance. During the workshops, Mr. Taylor will invite some participants to bring their instruments and join him on stage during the evening performance. All workshop participants will be admitted to eTown Hall for the performance.


Otis Taylor

Otis Taylor - Trance Blues Festival - eTown

With Otis Taylor, it’s best to expect the unexpected. While his music, an amalgamation of roots styles in their rawest form, discusses heavyweight issues like murder, homelessness, tyranny, and injustice, his personal style is lighthearted. “I’m good at dark, but I’m not a particularly unhappy person,” he says. “I’d just like to make enough money to buy a Porsche.”

Part of Taylor’s appeal is his contrasting character traits. But it is precisely this element of surprise that makes him one of the most compelling artists to emerge in recent years. In fact, Guitar Player magazine writes, “Otis Taylor is arguably the most relevant blues artist of our time.” Whether it’s his unique instrumentation (he fancies banjo and cello), or it’s the sudden sound of a female vocal, or a seemingly upbeat optimistic song takes a turn for the forlorn, what remains consistent is poignant storytelling based in truth and history. Taylor’s latest release, Contraband, was selected as the 2012 Blues Album of the Year by Downbeat Magazine.

Otis Mark Taylor was born in Chicago in 1948. After his uncle was shot to death, his family moved to Denver where an adolescent’s interest in blues and folk was cultivated. Both his parents were big music fans; “I was raised with jazz musicians,” Taylor relates. “My dad worked for the railroad and knew a lot of jazz people. He was a socialist and real bebopper.” His mother, Sarah, a tough as nails woman with liberal leanings, had a penchant for Etta James and Pat Boone. Young Otis spent time at the Denver Folklore Center where he bought his first instrument, a banjo. He used to play it while riding his unicycle to high school. The Folklore Center was also the place where he first heard Mississippi John Hurt and country blues. He learned to play guitar and harmonica and by his mid-teens, he formed his first groups’ the Butterscotch Fire Department Blues Band and later the Otis Taylor Blues Band. He ventured overseas to London where he performed for a brief time until he returned to the U.S. in the late 60s. His next project became the T&O Short Line with legendary Deep Purple singer/guitarist Tommy Bolin. Stints with the 4-Nikators and Zephyr followed before he decided to take a hiatus from the music business in 1977.

If Taylor ‘s first two recordings cast a spell on the music world, listeners were officially entranced by White African (2001, NorthernBlues Music), his most direct and personal statement about the experiences of African-Americans. With this disc Taylor was officially blazing a trail. He earned four W.C. Handy nominations and won the award for “Best New Artist Debut.” White African was barely in record stores when he began writing the songs that would comprise Respect The Dead. Released in 2002, it made him a contender for two Handys in 2003; “Best Acoustic Artist” and “Contemporary Blues Album.” With the following record, Truth Is Not Fiction, Taylor took a decidedly electric, almost psychedelic path forging a sound which he describes as “trance-blues.” Music critics were indeed captivated as the disc received lavish praise from USA Today, New York Times, Washington Post, NPR and a nod from the Downbeat Critics Poll for “Blues Album of the Year.”

He quickly followed up Truth with Double V, which marked his entrance as a producer and a collaboration with his daughter Cassie, who sings and plays bass. The album scored him a Downbeat Critics Poll win for an unheard-of second consecutive year, while Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, Blender, and CNN all gave their thumbs-up. But perhaps the most meaningful accolade came from Living Blues Reader’s Poll, which awarded Taylor (along with Etta James) with the “Best Blues Entertainer” title in 2004.

And if the brilliant songwriting and the haunting voice weren’t enough to turn the heads of audiences and critics alike, Taylor has also proven his instrumental chops with three Blues Music Awards nominations (2005, 2006 and 2012) for Best Instrumentalist in the banjo category.


Mato Nanji

Mato Nanji - Trance Blues Festival - eTown

Born and raised on the Yankton Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, Indigenous front man Mato Nanji (Ma-TOE NON-gee) dedicates his latest release Time Is Coming (on Blues Bureau International) to the indigenous youth and all young people on the indigenous reservations.

Mato Nanji’s father, the late Greg Zephier, Sr., was a well-known and highly respected spiritual advisor and spokesperson for the International Indian Treaty Council. In addition to this leadership role, he was an accomplished musician and a member of the musical group, The Vanishing Americans. Formed by Greg and his brothers in the ‘60’s, The Vanishing Americans toured nationally and shared bills with such legends as Bonnie Raitt. Besides being heavily influenced by the music his father and uncles were making, Mato was exposed to Greg’s vast collection of blues records by legendary artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan and B.B. King. Consequently, Mato embraced and began utilizing his own musical talent at a young age. With the experience, love and wisdom of their father to guide them, Mato, his brother, sister and cousin formed the band Indigenous while in their late teens.


Alvin Youngblood Hart

Hart’s praises have been sung by everyone from Bob Dylan to guitar gods Eric Clapton & Mick Taylor. Mr. Hart was born in Oakland, California in 1963 to a family of post WWII Mississippi transplants. After a couple false starts, he began to play the guitar, in earnest, in 1977.

“By that time, it had become an obsessive competition among us teenage boys. The guitar was the video game of our day,” Hart says.

The Hart family was never one to stay put. Spending his formative years on the West Coast, in the Midwest and the Mid-South surely influenced Alvin’s wide ranging musical perspective. “It really taught me to appreciate music for what it was…. not because it was this or that genre. I have a great disdain for genre segregation. I try to avoid that practice.”

Along with his 40 years of playing comes a nuts and bolts passion for the hardware of the trade. “I’ve been a guitar tinker since day one. I can recall my parents buying me a new guitar, and I would have every screw out of it by bedtime.”


Cassie Taylor

Cassie Taylor - Trance Blues Festival - eTown

Cassie Taylor, the oldest daughter of Otis, provided backup vocals on White African when she was only twelve years old. She also appears on Respect The Dead and Truth Is Not Fiction. She continues to perform with the Otis Taylor Band, playing bass and singing backup vocals.

Cassie Taylor hails from Colorado and arrived on the music scene of Memphis is 2009. Combining a compelling mix of music, theater, fashion and modeling into her repertoire, Cassie is an ambassador of blending the arts. Cassie is the daughter of renowned bluesman Otis Taylor and toured in his band for seven years as bassist and backup vocalist. She takes her passion for the blues seriously by serving on the board of directors of The Blues Foundation. Staking a claim as a musician in her own right, her songwriting is a new kind of blues which explores the trials and tribulations of a twenty-something woman. Using pop vocals and deeply-rooted blues bass lines, Cassie is leading the new generation of blues artists.


Luis Barberia

A founding member of the legendary Cuban collective Habana Abierta, Luis Barbería is known for his intricate guitar work and reinterpretations of classic Cuban genres, such as bolero and rumba. As a solo artist, he has produced three albums. The second, A Full, one best record in the fusion category in Cuba’s national music awards, Cubadisco. His most recent album, Fuerza y Luz, was released in October 2018.


Guy Davis

Guy Davis once said, “I like antiques and old things, old places, that still have the dust of those who’ve gone before us lying upon them.” Blowing that dust off just enough to see its beauty is something Guy has excelled at for over twenty years of songwriting and performing. It’s no wonder his reverence for the music of the Blues Masters who’ve gone before him has been evident in every album he’s ever recorded or concert he’s given.
Guy has had his musical storytelling influenced by artists like Blind Willie McTell and Big Bill Broonzy, and his musicality from artists as diverse as Lightnin’ Hopkins and Babatunde Olatunji. However, there’s one man that Guy most credits for his harmonica techniques, by stealing and crediting from him everything that he could, and that man is the legendary Sonny Terry.

Guy’s new album, Sonny & Brownie’s Last Train – A Look Back at Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry, is an homage to these two hugely influential artists, not only on Guy’s career, but to thousands of musicians around the world. One such artist is the Italian harmonica ace, Fabrizio Poggi, who collaborates with and produced this recording.