Glenn Taylor

Glenn Taylor

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, which has never been a hotbed of country music, and frankly I never payed much attention to C&W. I played trumpet, flute, and then drums in high school marching band, dabbled in some banjo, and thought I would like to take up the dobro. But then I spotted an ad for pedal steel guitar lessons. That sounded more like the whole deal to me. I had heard pedal steel in the country-rock bands that were somewhat popular at the time--The Grateful Dead, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Poco, Pure Prairie League, Flying Burrito Bros., etc. I phoned the teacher who was advertising the lessons (none other than Joe Goldmark), and he told me what to look for in a pedal steel, and I was off and running. I bought a pedal steel, and I started paying attention to country music. And I never did learn to play dobro or lap steel--nowadays when I try to play a non-pedal guitar my left foot has a fit trying to push the nonexistent pedals.

I played in a handful of bands before moving to Colorado in 1980. Within a few months I was playing country music 4-7 nights a week in bars and clubs in Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming. Plenty of second-hand smoke. Around the same time I attended some classes at Naropa Institute including one called 'Creative Improvisation' taught by Fred Hess. Shortly thereafter Fred asked me to play in his Boulder Creative Music Ensemble, playing free music with some outstanding jazz musicians and discovering the joys of playing outside the box.

In the mid-1980s I heard some African pop music and immediately got hooked on the relentlessly infectious rhythms and guitar lines. I started Orchestra King Mama, and later Monkey Siren to play African dance music. I was lucky enough to play with great musicans in both bands, and we enjoyed some local success and certainly filled some dance floors. There's nothing like hundreds of sweaty gyrating bodies moving to your music.

And through the years I've contunued playing country music (or at least my version of it) in a succession of bands including Slim Cessna's Auto Club, The Railbenders, and lately The Panhandle Daddyz. I also recently played a 5-week run of Always, Patsy Cline.

We’ve all heard pedal steel—that intriguing and/or irritatingly whiny instrument in country music. The instrument is only occasionally heard in other genres. I enjoy taking pedal steel into new territories, fitting in with whatever music is happening in the moment. Pedal steel guitar is an instrument and not a musical style

I am designer, builder, and purveyor of Moyo pedal steel guitars. At present I don't have any pedal steel guitars that I didn't build.

Now I'm composing for my own band, the Glenn Taylor Orchestra. What genre of music is it? I think it would fit under the large umbrella of 'jazz'--there are saxophones and there are improvisational sections. There are also elements of African pop, Americana, electronic music and rock. Again I am blessed to be playing with some great musicians who bring so much to the table. And they put up with me! Who could ask for more?


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