A True Rolling Stone: Darrell Taylor

Recently I spoke with Darrell Taylor, your class act 21st century wandering troubadour of blues and soul. We caught up on everyday musician topics, long nights on city sidewalks entertaining passer-byes, Oshkosh and Appleton from outside eyes and also logged some session hours in my makeshift studio. A recording is available towards the tail end of this feature.

Stage name:
Darrell Taylor and the Floorwalkers, Hunting for Elephants in America (Darrell, Rob, Clarke)

Places of Residence and Regular Visits: Appleton, Oshkosh, Florida, New Orleans, San Diego, Phoenix and Georgia.

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Describe your #style in 140 characters or less.
Well first off I’m more of a singer than guitar player. I’m an old soul so I’m bluesy jazzy with a splash of folk and punk but I still stay relevant and still get phone numbers handed to me from time to time from females and other musicians.

Explain the Floorwalkers (7) and what separates your group gigs from your solo efforts.
The Floorwalkers are more of a jazz/punk sound and as far as myself I try and dabble in a lit bit of everything. I don’t like to put myself in a box. I like to play whatever my soul feels at the moment.

What’s your typical audience:
Friends/family, pedestrians, coffee shop customers, bar goers are usually my biggest onlookers. It’s nice to have everyday people support with constructive criticism.

Local musicians too, everyday people, pretty well-rounded, a little bit of everybody, parents walking with their kids. Appleton, Oshkosh, oh everywhere on Main, a lot of friends that I see out there playing. Kyle Menga, The Hookup, Stephanie Hall.

Inspirations, past and present:
My biggest past influences were and still continue to be Otis Redding, Bill Withers, Van Morrison, Sly and the Family Stone, Al Green, the Seeds, Jimi Hendrix and Sam Cooke. My present inspirations are Alabama Shakes, Bruno Mars, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Nightsweats, the Makeup, Kyle Megna and the Monsoons, Stephanie Hall, The Heavy and Gary Clark Jr.

As for getting started in the first place Darrell says:
When I was 5 yrs. old I had Michael Jackson cassettes that I’d play and have those Mickey Mouse sing along tapes.” Darrell would mimic the videos. Then he says he got to thinking. . . “what if we took miles davis and merged them with the sex pistols. Not be like netflix ‘if you love this then you’ll really love this’”

I gather that the main outlet for these energies has been making impromptu performances spaces become memorable for listeners. Let’s talk street performing. Tell us about what experiences you may have from playing outside in public.
I’ve had many experiences good and bad which is common with any street performer with the worst being no one comes around to watch or drunks heckling you and taking away from the experience and as far as best I’d have to say drawing a big crowd singing along dance and just enjoying themselves also when a parent comes up with their kid and says my son/daughter wants to be like you it’s great to feel as if you’ve inspired someone or touched someone’s soul. . . I always wanted to be a doctor but my grades were never good enough but in my mind making music is just like being a doctor because it makes people feel good and let’s people put their worries and problems on the shelf for a bit and relax. . .

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Darrell and his jam friends have a Summer street date in Oshkosh coming up with the Downtown Farmer’s Market as a part of the 4th annual Main Street Music Festival. The Summer is not just the best but in some ways the only time to make something out of busking in an area like the Fox Valley.

Tip culture varies over the setting, be it to a restaurant, bar, Uber driver or a musician at an Open Mic that can change over the seasons. An Uber ride through the snow warrants a higher gratuity the same way a complimentary coffee on a cold day at a restaurant makes leaving a few extra dollars less of a strain.

As for free music on the street? Well, no one asked them to play, why pay? At least they are getting their music heard. This is not the soap box for the starving artist but us readers have a good idea about what makes a day out on the front lines worthwhile and what can make it not so great. Not getting haggled or having to surrender to conversations being too loud, getting a business card with information for a possible gig, impromptu collaborators joining in on a song, video getting taken and shared on Facebook all have their place in making our day.

Getting ignored by person after person  scared to look you in the eye in fear of getting judged for not stopping to listen or drop a dime. . .that can be frustrating. Not only that, but a performer has to stay in one spot for quite some time to make even a modest profit. Darrell, tell us a little about your experiences:

I’ve had many experiences good and bad which is common with any street performer with the worst being no one comes around to watch or drunks heckling you and taking away from the experience and as far as best I’d have to say drawing a big crowd singing along dance and just enjoying themselves also when a parent comes up with their kid and says my son/daughter wants to be like you it’s great to feel as if you’ve inspired someone or touched someone’s soul. . . I always wanted to be a doctor but my grades were never good enough but in my mind making music is just like being a doctor because it makes people feel good and let’s people put their worries and problems on the shelf for a bit and relax. . .

That’s a great message. What’s the longest block of time you’ve had to spend to make a satisfying amount of tips? The shortest?
As far as how long I’ve sat in one spot to make decent tips I’d say about 4-6 hours with the shortest being a half hour – forty five minutes. . .

What are you rocking right now for your hollow body? How long have you had it with you?Currently I play a Hohner International acoustic guitar that was given to me by a close friend after my 1972 Gibson was stolen.

Let’s try an impromptu lyric session. I say “she’s a real go-getter, keeps her boyfriend’s sweaters, never really cared for the Varsity letters. . .”
it’s his mind it’s his soul that keeps her around, she fell in love with the boy when he was jammin’ downtown.”

Great! I feel that. We just collaborated right there. Speaking of which. . .

Tell us about some musicians you’ve enjoyed playing with over the last year.
The Hookup, Swamp Water Boogie, Pam the Bear and Eargasm. As far as locations I’ve performed in Appleton, Oshkosh, New Orleans, Pensacola Florida and San Diego. . . different vibe in each city.

Words of encouragement for newbies?
I’d have to say enjoy your craft, keep an open mind and always appreciate the ones who take time to listen. . . stay relevant and as much as you put into your craft is what you get in return. 
It gets better. Grind it out. Always try to keep a regular job on the side. Music is a pretty expensive hobby right now.

For Darrell it’s roofing.

Where can we most likely catch you playing?
You can catch me playing in the Appleton/Oshkosh area as well as in New Orleans and Florida. . .to be honest wherever I lay my hat is where I’m jamming . . .I’m truly what you would call a rolling stone.

With traveling, Darrell mentions time spent in LA, getting familiar with Capitol records, was once offered a contract and spent time making decisions about what is important. Things seem plenty interesting these days.

“I was playing at the house last night, someone brought out a xylophone, piano, bass”

Darrell mentioned a member of a favorite local band too at the party. He had a few to plug as his favorites as well:

Kyle Menga and the Monsoons, Jordin Bass, The Hookup, Stephanie Hall, Tyler McConnell, Unity the Band, RockSteady, Mike Rumans and anyone in his clique

Thoughts on the Oshkosh music scene?
There are lots of musicians in Oshkosh, hope more get together and play, the summertime will let people branch out. Playing outside is pretty cool, in a college town. I’ll come home with a pocket full of numbers.

There are plenty of varieties of styles and textures that seem to stay forever timeless, others may be overlooked. What is your favorite instrument to observe?
Mandolin, you don’t see it too much. Especially hip-hop and mandolin, coolest things since when Kanye came out with that Kacy Hill girl.

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For a separate session Darrell brought in a trio of jam buddies under the name of Hunting for Elephants in America and we recorded two tracks for mandolin, guitar and vocals. I got a better idea of what Darrell meant by liking the mandolin. The first track we recorded featured the mandolin and the lyrics sounded familiar. I remember months prior when I met Darrell he was just starting to put the words together. We were having a late night ad lib session and “Patience and Cigarettes” received its full writing treatment in the meantime. The second song we recorded was with the same instrumentation. Please enjoy a taste of what our afternoon sounded like: 

RECORDING – Patience & Cigarettes

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