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Entrepreneur Extraordinaire-Fred Taylor by A.J. Wachtel

by GFats on April 4, 2012

Entrepreneur Extraordinaire



By A.J. Wachtel





Fred Taylor has worn many hats during his long and legendary career in the New England Blues world. From owning Paul’s Mall and The Jazz Workshop back in the beginning to being the head honcho at Sculler’s today; he has long been an instrumental force in bringing top artists of the past 5 decades to town. Countless performances in his small, intimate clubs: and the stories he has could fill volumes; here’s a start.





BOSTON BLUES SOCIETY: Is it more difficult to run a club in 2012 than it was in 1972?



FRED TAYLOR: More than ever, transportation costs are a big expense and a huge factor in booking national acts. If your club isn’t routed in their tour it adds a cost that might make it uneconomical to do it. Hotel costs are also big. You have to have access to a room or rooms otherwise it gets so expensive that the travelling costs might not fit the club’s budget.



BBS: What kind of music do you book at your club these days?



FT: At Sculler’s we have diversity but we try to keep blues and r & b as an ongoing feature. We’re not a Blues club per se, and we have Jazz. Latin and Brazilian acts also, but we try to keep Blues in view all the time.



BBS: Can you tell me some of the many great artists you’ve hosted over the years? Who was the most difficult and why?



FT: Nancy Wilson. Lou Rawls. Joe Williams, George Schering, Count Basie. James Cotton, Ronnie Earl, Freddie King, J. Geils, Oh. so many others too. The most difficult? Ha. I’ll tell you TWO funny stories. Bobby Vinton came in on a Monday and disappeared on a Tuesday. He didn’t think enough people showed up, I guess. It was the FREAKIEST thing. And Joan Rivers. She opened on a Monday and went into Beth Israel on Tuesday with a “tubular pregnancy”.



BBS: How about a good Muddy Waters story?



FT: Muddy at Paul’s Mall. B.B. dropped in and he had an axe. Muddy called him up and they started remembering about places and then they’d play for each other while the audience watched. It was very personal and private, and man do i wish I had a camera or a tape THAT night. One of the most heartfelt episodes EVER.



BBS: Who was your favorite King. B.B., Freddie, or Albert?



FT: (Laughs) I’d have to say B.B because he closed Paul’s Mall in April 1978; he ALWAYS remembers that when we see each other too.



BBS: Is r&b still big in Boston?



FT: Sure, r&b is still big. The Manhattans come up here every year. Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes. Betty LaVette. Boston people LOVE classic r & b.  I’ve got Ben E. King in this week. Remember “Stand By Me”?

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