Having enjoyed a handful of great Canadian music festivals over the summer, Team GDW became exposed to several new artists previously unknown to us.  It was at the inaugural Sawdust City Music Festival last August when we first encountered The Julian Taylor Band.  With their unique blend of rock-soul-reggae influences, their music captivated us and we knew that a future date with this eight-piece Toronto based band was a must.

Imagine our delight when we discovered that all eight members of the JTB would be performing live on a Saturday night at Mills Hardware in Hamilton, ON.  Now double that delight when learning that this was an open Saturday on our calendar, meaning tickets were purchased immediately, and we were ready to hear more of this amazing music.

Fast forward to this last weekend, when Team GDW and some good friends would arrive bright and early at the venue in anticipation of this show.  After a brief set from the highly energetic, British Columbia-based opener Daysormay, Julian and his full band would rise to the challenge of fitting everybody on the Mills Hardware stage.  With perhaps just enough room to move a few elbows, Julian would introduce himself to the room before kicking off a fifteen-track set of music from both his most recent “Desert Star” and “Tech Noir” albums.  Julian would also perform a brand new track, and end with a well-received cover version of a Van Morrison classic.

Launching immediately into “You Say” (the opening track from “Tech Noir”), Julian would stick to the album sequence for the first three songs, following up with “No Guns” and the always popular “Do You Remember.”  Having promptly earned the full attention of the room, the band refused to ease off the gas pedal for the remainder of the evening, and we were not complaining.

The emphasis quickly shifted to a selection of the latest material from “Desert Star,” with four tracks played in succession.  With the Motown beats of “Set Me Free,” the old soul sounds of “Fever,” and the bona-fide reggae track “The Belly of the Underman,” Julian and his band kept the tunes fresh and ‘different’ throughout the set.  I was certainly grateful of the opportunity to hear the likes of “Just a Little Bit” and one of my personal favorites, “Bobbi Champagne” (complete with the mood setting opening guitar solo).

Julian Taylor would shift back to “Tech Noir” midway through the set, offering up the powerful and moving “Carry Me Home;” a track dedicated to the memory of his late (and very much loved) grandfather.  Stepping away from this album for one brief moment, the band would treat the Mills Hardware faithful to a brand new composition, “Give Us A Sign.”  Old-school soul vibes would quickly return with the moving “Be Good To Your Woman,” and the night would end on a high with the incredibly up-beat grooves laid down on “Zero to Eleven.”  With calls for one more song, all eight band members would return after a brief hiatus to close with their fantastic cover of Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic.”

Speaking with a gentlemen seated next to me prior to the show, he was surprised to learn that we had driven all the way from southern PA for this show.  When he (natural reaction) asked why, I simply explained that he would find out for himself once Julian Taylor hit the stage.  Midway through the show, the same gentleman gave me a big thumbs up, stating that he now completely understood and was blown away by the infectious music emanating from the stage beside him.

We were grateful for the opportunity to meet with Julian himself after the show, and thank him for a fantastic evening.  With our copy of “Desert Star” graciously autographed by the artist himself, we can spin this one many times at home to enjoy these rock-soul-reggae tunes for many years to come.  This really does not need to be stated, BUT, if you have the opportunity to catch The Julian Taylor Band in a town near you, do not pass up on the chance.  You will NOT be disappointed.  Taylor offers up some timeless ‘feel-good’ music that allows you to lose yourself in some great company for a couple of hours.

Julian Taylor Band Set List:

  1. You Say
  2. No Guns
  3. Do You Remember?
  4. Set Me Free
  5. Fever
  6. Belly Of The Underman
  7. Just A Little Bit
  8. Never Gonna Give You Up
  9. Bobbi Champagne
  10. Carry Me Home
  11. Give Us A Sign
  12. Be Good To Your Woman
  13. Why Would You Do That?
  14. Zero To Eleven

Encore:

  1. Into The Mystic (Van Morrison Cover)

~ M

Visit The Julian Taylor Band’s website.

Listen to “Desert Star” on Spotify.