Iain Matthews, member of Fairport Convention and a singer-songwriter in his own right, has produced Eric' second album, Eric Taylor,released by Watermelon Records in 1995. Iain has written this text at my request for this website. Iain's page is located here .
Thank you again, Iain.
To Eric's Complete discography
I first met and experienced Eric Taylor in late 1992, He was playing at a place I'd never heard of called Anderson Fair. A funky, humid little club tucked away in downtown Houston. Texas. A mutual friend had driven the both of us the 180 miles from Austin to Houston, all the way, priming me with cassettes and wild stories about the man. At one point warning me that Eric either liked you, or wrote you off at first sight, an ordeal, I wasn't sure I was quite ready for. As it turned out, he wasn't quite that brutal, seeming to neither like, or dislike me that night, but keeping a cool distance with what seemed like an amused bewilderment at my very presense.
Unless you're familiar with the intricate Texas singer/songwriter jigsaw puzzle, it's highly unlikely you'd know much about Eric. He hasn't "made it" the way Townes, or Lyle, or Guy Clark have. In fact all I knew was that he'd made a self released album several years back, then quit the business in disgust, to become a counsellor of some kind. Oh yeah, and at one point, he'd been married to Nanci Griffith. Of course, this scant information was only a snowflake on the tip of the Taylor iceberg.
Apparently he still wasn't performing very often and when he did, it was considered a reason to celebrate, a social occasion and sure enough, we arrived to find the room packed and humming with anticipation.
Eric is a tall man, maybe 6'-4" 6'-5", quiet and reserved around strangers, but loud and funny amongst his friends. It should be said, that once you become a Taylor fanatic, it gives one immense joy and pride to be able to enlighten others to the man's work, as though he were a special reward, presented only on intimate occasions, to a deserving few. That's the effect he has on me.
He's converted this tight, unwaivering circle of supporters who feel that no distance is too great to travel for a night of Eric and will do it walking backwards, through tornado and forest fire to be there.
Judging by the meet and greet going on both front and back stage, a large percentage were there to buoy him along that night.
The opening act was this strange little Hispanic guy named David Rodriguez, who shambled around the place with the aid of a walking stick. I'd never heard of the man at that point.
He delivered a sloppy hour long set of growly, bluesy, semi-melodic, self penned material, that left me feeling ambivalent and wondering if maybe I'd missed something!. But what the hell, he's a friend of Eric's, he must be good. Someone told me later that he was actually a lawyer/performer, who sometimes thought of himself as a performer/lawyer, which for me, said it all.
Senses dulled by the Rodriguez set, I still hadn't refocused when Taylor took the stage for his performance. I wasn't ready for the awesome craftsmanship and the all consuming power of his songs, I wasn't ready for the intensity of his deliveries. I wasn't ready for the deep state of concentration you involuntarily withdrew into. I certainly wasn't ready for the mans intense uneasiness at being displayed in front of an audience, friends, or not. In fact, at one point, maybe 3 songs into his set, he actually excused himself to go backstage and throw up, honest!
Accompanied throughout his set by a smiling conga player he referred to simply as James and half of the time by vocalist Denise Franke, who I'm proud to say, also became a good friend and who's gorgeous unconventional vocal excursions, weaving through and around Eric's delivery, pinned me to the wall.
Let's face it, I flat was not ready! But how does one prepare for a storyteller such as Eric!
He played for what seemed like thirty minutes, but was actually an hour and a half and during which time, I remained riveted to my seat. It should be said at this point that not only is Eric a Brahma songwriter, he is also a stunning acoustic guitar player. Mostly in a D tuning, he finger picks his way into your psyche. With a fine sense of time he creates clouds of tumbling dischords and riffs I can only ever dream of forming. Delivering song after marvelous song, he finally ended the set with a very cool blues, he claimed to play every show, in homage to the writer. Picking up the pace with every verse, he brought the show to its indisputably climactic finish.
After the show I was dragged backstage, where, unless I'm the one performing, I've always felt extremely uncomfortable and intrusive, tonight was no exception. After stammering my way through a nervous, self-conscious, incoherent congratulatory outpouring, I quickly excused myself, found the dressing room door and beat a hasty retreat to the bar, were, for the next thirty minutes, I must have seemed like some mumbling, weirdo alcoholic, sitting there, Kaliber in hand, silently berating myself for acting like such a fucking Gumby in the presence on the man.
© Iain Matthews, 2000