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The Boston Globe

Music

For Taj Mahal, the blues were just the beginning

Even as a young man in the 1960s, Taj Mahal sounded like a seasoned blues veteran. As he sang in a deep, soulful voice about moving to the country and painting a mailbox blue, listeners probably wouldn’t have guessed that he’d been reared in Western Massachusetts. On his self-titled debut album, Mahal sounded like a contemporary of the Southern blues icons he celebrated: Sleepy John Estes, Sonny Boy Williamson, and Robert Johnson.

“I’m sure there are some kids who think he was part of the first wave,” says Berklee College of Music professor Dan Bowden, who uses Mahal’s 1968 recording of “Statesboro Blues” to teach slide-guitar technique to his guitar students.

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