European Reviews - Live At The Red Shack


live record • retrospective record • celebration of friends

Northern Sky (UK),  Maverick (UK), Rootstime (BE), Johnny’s Garden, Alt Country (NL),D la Repubblica (Italy) and Buscadero (Italy)

produced by Susan Lindfors Taylor


Live At The Red Shack Review (UK)

Northern Sky – 3 November 2011

by Allan Wilkinson

Album Review:  Eric Taylor – Live At The Red Shack (Blue Ruby)

I've shamelessly waxed lyrical about Eric Taylor for many years now, based upon the times I've met him, the times I've attended his shows and the times I've popped onto the player any one of the half a dozen studio albums the Texan singer-songwriter has produced over his thirty-year recording career thus far. Not the most prolific recording artist in the history of music by any means but that hardly seems to matter, not when you consider the gems this Houston-based songwriter has written over the years. The mention of Nanci Griffith, Lyle Lovett, Guy Clark, Steve Earle and the late Townes Van Zandt would be incomplete without mentioning Eric Taylor in the same breath. An extraordinary storyteller, Taylor takes us on a journey with each of his live performances, comprising engaging stories interspersed with outstanding songs such as Deadwood for instance, the story of the cruel death of Crazy Horse as relayed from a daily newspaper in a sleepy Dakota bar, where the old ones told lies about whiskey on a woman's breath.

For this live album Taylor has assembled a few old friends to help out during an intimate performance, recorded over two nights at the Red Shack, a recording studio in Houston, its walls stained with the 'tit, sweat and balls of all the guitar ghosts that have been coming and going for so many years.' The recording, which runs for a generous 73 minutes, includes songs, stories and monologues, each effectively shaping the American landscape before our very ears, a landscape inhabited by characters real or imagined from Jack Kerouac's Dean Moriarty and the Oglala Lakota chief Crazy Horse to the colourful carnival folks Jim and Jean, the fickle friends, the dearly beloved and the dearly departed; each story told in Taylor's inimitable gravel voice, accompanied by his assured yet delicately picked guitar.

The song introductions are almost as important as the songs themselves. Taylor leads us into his world with a natural yet mesmerising, almost poetic flow of speech that is equally tender and sympathetic yet forceful and determined at the same time; you tend to believe every word. The introduction to Dean Moriarty is probably the album's defining moment.

With contributions from both the former Mrs Eric Taylor Nanci Griffith, as well as the current Mrs Susan Lindfors Taylor, together with Lyle Lovett and Denice Franke, each lending their distinctive voices, Marco Python Fecchio provides some tasteful electric guitar whilst James Gilmer takes to the drum seat. The Susan Lindfors Taylor produced album provides an astonishingly accurate record of an Eric Taylor performance, which will leave you both spellbound and captivated, providing you allow your imagination to take you there. Go on, treat yourself to an hour or so in the company of Eric Taylor and friends; you will feel like you'd been there.

Allan Wilkinson

Northern Sky


Live At The Red Shack Review (UK)

Maverick review – October 2011 – Issue 111

by Arthur Wood


Eric Taylor & Friends


Blue Ruby Music


Taylor and some buddies take a backward glance at his simply stunning catalogue of music


    During late May the irreplaceable Eric Taylor (lead vocal, acoustic guitar) was joined at Rock Romano’s Red Shack, a recording studio in The Heights of Houston, Texas, by a small, hand picked audience and a coterie of long-time musical associates including, in order of aural appearance Marco Python Fecchio (electric guitar) and James Gilmer (percussion), along with vocalists Lyle Lovett, Denice Franke, Nanci Griffith and his wife Susan Lindfors Taylor. The music business at times is akin to a circus, so it’s appropriate that this good old Georgia boy should open with his travelling carney song, Carnival Jim And Jean – in recent years the launch pad staple of Eric’s live shows. Texas, Texas follows. All you need to know of the latter is that: ‘ Texas, Texas is a good ’ol girl man, I think I’ll love her ’til I leave.’ To all intents a Texan, following a four-decade residency, Taylor ain’t gonna ‘leave her’ any time soon.

    Joined by Lyle Lovett they open with Memphis Midnight Memphis Morning one of three Taylor originals that appeared on THROUGH THE DARK NIGHTLY (1976) a compilation released by Fair Retail Records. As in the legendary, still functioning Houston music venue whose presence – as we’ll see – is woven into the very fabric of this collection. Lovett covered the latter title on his tribute collection STEP INSIDE THIS HOUSE (1998). They follow with Tractor Song and Visitors From Indiana, a segue that appeared in precisely that order on Eric’s self-titled sophomore disc. Taylor is a storyteller without equal and these are two of his finest – the former recalls a truly enterprising American president and an entrepreneur who mobilized a nation during wartime, while the latter portrays a family who just happened to be in Dallas on a certain fateful day in late November 1963.

    Anderson Fair, the building, plays host to the Blue Piano on which Eric is joined by Denice Franke. There’s no need to expand on the Jack Kerouac / ON THE ROAD connection, suffice to say Dean Moriarty is another classic tale that has grown in stature since appearing on ERIC TAYLOR (1995). Here, the writer wrings every molecule of emotion and nuance out of this timeless gem. A fifteen-year plus favourite, my jaw still hits the ground hearing it. Taylor’s next guest is one-time spouse, Nanci Griffith, and they vocalize on a quartet of titles. Griffith was vocalist on Peter Cooper’s rendition of Mission Door on his 2008 album of the same name, covered Dollar Matinee on her solo debut THERE’S A LIGHT BEYOND THESE WOODS (1978) and included Deadwood on the live in Houston release ONE FAIR SUMMER EVENING (1988). All’s Fair here! This is the first occasion that Dollar Matinee has appeared on a Taylor recording, and joined by Franke and Susan Lindfors Taylor, they close with Prison Movie – replete with a delightfully layered vocal outro. Part live recording, catalogue retrospective and musical celebration with friends, this disc draws to a close with Good Times Fickle Friend a previously unheard back catalogue nugget that doubtless Taylor will air on his forthcoming UK tour.

Arthur Wood

Live At The Red Shack Review (Belgium)

by Freddy Celis, September 2011

For two consecutive nights in the month of May the Red Shack studio in Houston Texas – where his album "The Great Divide" was recorded – was the scene for a splendid live recording by Eric Taylor. He was accompanied by some of his musical friends. Ex-partner Nanci Griffith stopped by, as did Lyle Lovett, both artists who have covered some of Eric's songs on their own albums.

His present partner, Susan Lindfors Taylor, also the producer of the album, and Denice Franke took care of the vocal harmonies. The, for me, unknown but great slide guitar player Marco Python Fecchio, added some extra beauty with his great guitar parts that somehow broke the sober vulnerable spirit of the album and lifted it up to a higher level. We can indeed speak of a higher level. The few witnesses who were invited to the little shack enjoyed an intimate concert of a very high standard. Master songwriter and narrator Eric Taylor, with his characteristic voice, opens with "Carnival Jim & Jean", a bulls-eye version, you'll listen breathlessly to his poetry drenched songs. No better moment than after finishing a powerful version of "Texas, Texas" is to call Lyle Lovett on stage, an artist that has made a tribute to the state of Texas in a number of his own songs. A great duo version of “Memphis Midnight, Memphis Morning” follows. The climax for us comes halfway through the set: after a long intro half sung, half spoken, accompanied by atmospheric guitar lines from Marco Python Fecchio, the song “Dean Moriarty” starts, a high-carat diamond, based on Jack Kerouac's novel On The Road. A very poetic track, underlined by low-profile slide guitar from Marco, who is also featured in the stunning versions of “Deadwood” and “Prison Movie.” Eric and Nanci call him the best guitar player ever and they're right.

On “Mission Door” and “Prison Movie” Nanci Griffith appears, and on the last track Eric’s old friend James Gilmer. The sound quality is crystal clear, as engineer Rocky Romano did a wonderful job. Unbelievable, keeping in mind that there was only one day available for preparations and that the album was recorded in only two days. The recording of Eric Taylor's fragile songs need the right approach, one by one each song requires the ultimate first take. Rocky Romano passed the exams. Never before have we heard a more intimate recording of a singer songwriter, which we will enjoy track by track for a very long time.

Live At The Red Shack Review (The Netherlands)

by Rein van den Berg, September 2011

Artiest:                     ERIC TAYLOR & Friends

Album:                     Live at the Red Shack




This is not Eric's first album recorded in The Red Shack. It is the first one recorded there in front of a small audience. In addition to his wife Susan, he's accompanied by friends who have colored his life, more than only in a musical sense; Lyle Lovett, Nanci Griffith, Denice Franke, Marco Python Fecchio and James Gilmer. Besides the ghosts of musicians from the past, that, as they say, are still present at The Red Shack, Rock Romano is highly responsible for the spirit of the album. Also this time he engineered the album. Susan Lindfors Taylor produced it and made the impossible possible. Only one day was available for preparations, and the recording was finished after two days.

Eric's music needs the right approach. Minor disorders can cause a huge negative influence on the intimacy that his music needs.

The Dutch fans who have followed Eric over the years know that the details are absolutely essential. Although he is humorous from time to time, we can't consider him a party animal, he often doesn't speak very much. As a child he spent a lot time on his own and from his music you can tell that he needed a lot of time for himself. An introspective person with a few very good friends, who can enjoy music and a good whiskey. On Live at the Red Shack they let us taste that kind of intimacy.

In my opinion, a great live album. A very accurate recording of spirit and intimacy. Some versions of Taylor's older songs are really outstanding. The version of “Deadwood” on this album is absolutely stunning. The vocals of Taylor and Griffith sound like the old days. Personally I am not so keen on new recordings of older material but this album could turn out to be the best of his career. I was looking forward to a new Eric Taylor album, and with this one we're satisfied for the next few years.

Live At The Red Shack Review (UK)

Alt Country Forum

September 2011

A few acoustic and electric guitars, some percussion, a bunch of talented friends, voices that come together easily, an intimate recording studio with 20 personally invited guests and a couple of pictoral songs that sound like musical stories by Raymond Carver. On Live At The Red Shack Eric Taylor shows that he doesn't need more than that to entertain his audience for more than an hour.

Taylor's songs sound their best when the lyrics are not distracted by the use of too many instruments or other technical novelties. In that respect you can also compare him with Carver, a writer who's known for his stylistic nudity, no extravagance at all. This is shown best by the song “Dean Moriarty,” a track about the main character from On The Road, an epic novel by Jack Kerouac about his search for freedom and independence. Taylor starts the song with a half-spoken half-sung intro that not only offers pure literature for four and a half minutes, but also reflects perfectly the year 1957, the same year when On The Road was published, when it was all about freedom and big black shiny American cars in the United States of America.

Then Taylor starts “Dean Moriarty,” a song as sharp as a new razor blade – “Maybe he should call her, he just ain't got the dough/Maybe he'll slip on outside and check the radio/ It's playin' her song but it just ain't his/Man like him's got no business with a wife and the kids." Accompanied only by his acoustic guitar, the electric guitar of the fantastic Marco Python Fecchio and the precise percussion of James Gilmer, Taylor calls on sounds and images that remind me of Tom Waits' “The Heart Of Saturday Night” without copying it in any way.

In addition to the musicians already mentioned, Taylors's old friends Lyle Lovett (“Memphis Midnight, Memphis Morning”), Nanci Griffith (“Deadwood”), Denice Franke and Susan Lindfors make their much appreciated appearance at the Red Shack studio. Their efforts and the friendly personality of Eric Taylor guarantees an exceptional high quality live album.

Newcastle Evening Chronicle

by Alan Nichol




Live At The Red Shack - article (Italy)

Buscadero - October 2011

Live At The Red Shack - article (Italy)

D La Repubblica - October 2011

"There is no sense that Taylor is an imitator. This is a man whose larger-than-life talent sets the agenda, rather than following it...and holds his audience entranced."-- The Press and Journal