If you go
What: Trance Blues Jam Festival
When: Friday, Nov. 1 and Saturday, Nov. 2
Where: eTown Hall, 1535 Spruce St., Boulder, 303-443-8696; Boulder Boulder Outlook Hotel, 800 28th St., Boulder, 303-443-3322
More info: trancebluesfestival.com
The third annual Trance Blues Jam Festival might very well buzz with the sounds of wax paper.
On his way to Denver and on the phone with a reporter, Boulder blues legend Otis Taylor decided that he wants to pick up a whole bunch of kazoos for his festival on Nov. 1 and 2.
Was he joking? Hard to tell. The workshops encourage people of all skill levels to bring any instrument, and Taylor thinks this year should feature some breath on wax paper.
"Hey, I love a couple kazoos," he said. "I used to like to play kazoos when I was a kid. I could have been the Kazoo King if I had kept it up."
Kazoos wouldn't be totally strange, considering that someone brought a theremin to last year's workshops. So far, the most unexpected instrument this year will be the sousaphone, courtesy of Todd Edmunds, one of the professionals slated to perform and jam. He'll be joined by vocalists Merrian Johnson, G' Jai, Erica Brown and Jessica Rogalski, jazz cornet player Ron Miles, guitarists Taylor Scott and Cathy Richardson, fiddler Anne Harris, drummers Larry Thompson and Vieux Traore, bassists Paul Rogalski, 16-year-old pianist Jack Gaffney and Cassie Taylor, daughter of Otis.
"It really is kind of cool, but it's so hard to explain. It's like sitting around the campfire on the beach everyone has instruments," Taylor said. "We have great players coming."
The festival starts Nov. 1 with a performance from all of those musicians. They'll jam in the trance blues vein — that's a blues sound infused with some psych and Appalachian country — together at the Boulder Outlook Hotel from 8 to 11 p.m. They reconvene for another performance at eTown Hall, from 7 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, and Taylor will invite some musicians from the day's workshops to play. Those workshops take place from 10 a.m. to noon, then 2 to 5 p.m. at eTown Hall.
"I want people from 5 years old to 90 years old. It's very family-oriented," Taylor said. "People come out with a good feeling and they learn something and have fun. You'll have a professional guitar player sitting next to a kid learning to play. It's a sharing situation. No one's there to show off or audition."
A communal experience is really what the Trance Blues Jam Festival is about. Taylor's own shows often feature as many as eight other musicians on stage with him, and he said that can spark a lot of creativity. Jamming with a group can lead a song somewhere it might not have gone with a soloist, and in the case of the festival workshops, it can build confidence in amateur players.
"It's fun. You know when you're a kid in a choir in school, the choir sounds good even though you know there are some bad singers in there. If you're not a pro you can still say, 'Hey we sound great,'" Taylor said.
In fact, you don't need to have any musical experience at all. Taylor wants even total newbies to join in — maybe newbies will find a kazoo waiting for them.
"I'm so pumped on the kazoo thing you have no idea right now," he said. "It'll be the attack of the giant kazoo orchestra ... That should be a rock band."