Tim "Too Slim" Langford: A Journey Through American Music
“ When I was learning to play guitar I absorbed everything I could....Now I just want to write and play music based on everything I like. ”
Listening to Too Slim and The Taildraggers is, as one reviewer put it, .".. like taking a journey through the history of American music." Absorbing everything he could at first, Tim "Too Slim" Langford, lead guitarist and vocalist for the group, today plays what he likes. Although his focus at first may have been blues, today what Langford likes may encompass everything from down home blues, to funky blues rock, Americana, southern swamp rock and instrumental guitar styles.
This works for him, as Too Slim and The Taildraggers have been headliners at theaters, festivals and concert stages, and the broad varieties of styles has enabled them to share the stage with everyone from Bo Diddley, Brian Setzer, Johnny Lang, Robert Cray, Ted Nugent, Los Lobos, Blue Oyster Cult, Travis Tritt, Neil McCoy, Blues Traveler, and other notables.
The band's last CD The Fortune Teller, charted as high as #9 on the Billboard magazine "Top Blues Album" sales chart in 2007 and 2008. This release was also nominated for "Best Contemporary Blues Album" at the 2008 "Blues Blast Music Awards" in Chicago.
This award winning band has been voted "Best Regional Act" 11 times by the Cascade Blues Association, the largest organization of its kind in the USA. Founding member Langford has won multiple individual awards as "Best Guitarist," "Best Slide Guitarist" and "Best Songwriter." Too Slim and The Taildraggers are also in the Hall of Fame of three North West blues societies. Their devoted fan base has grown over the years into a national and international following.
All About Jazz: Describe your sound for us.
Tim "Too Slim" Langford: I would describe Too Slim and The Taildraggers sound as Rootsyamericanabluesrock.
Reviewers and people who are fans of the band often mention that they hear influences such as Creedence Clearwater Revival, Tom Petty, ZZ Top, Johnny Winter, George Thorogood, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. The younger crowd often makes comparisons to Drive-by Truckers, North Mississippi Allstars, and James McMurtry.
I learned to play guitar by listening to blues and rock. My main influences are B.B. King, Freddie King, Otis Rush, The Allman Brothers, ZZ Top, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, and Eric Clapton. As far as the older generation of Blues players I would list, Lightnin' Hopkins ,Robert Johnson ,Son House, Muddy Waters and T-Bone Walker as influences. Kenny Burrell, Charlie Christian, and Wes Montgomery would be my jazz influences.
When I was learning to play guitar I absorbed everything I could. I learned from rock, blues, jazz and country players. I even studied classical guitar. All these factors come into play in the music I write. I performed with the Spokane Jazz Orchestra when I was in college. At the same time I was playing in a country band on weekends as well as a rockabilly band.
When I started Too Slim and The Taildraggers I wanted to play blues. Now I just want to write and play music based on everything I like.
AAJ: You will soon release a new CD entitled, Free Your Mind. It features eleven songs and was written on a touring hiatus. Tell us about this release.
TL: Our new CD, Free Your Mind, which will be released on March 17, 2009, is the end result of writing and playing music for music sake. I had no preconceived notions on how it should sound as I was writing the songs. I just let it flow from my heart. My manager and wife, Nancy, encouraged me to woodshed and take time off to concentrate on the music. We had discussions about how I had never just sat down and concentrated on writing songs.
My previous albums were all done in bits and pieces of songwriting from my travels on the road. Then when I had enough songs I would go in the studio. I tried to fine tune the songs from Free Your Mind and ended up rewriting and rearranging the songs till I felt they were the best they could be. I also believe that an album should only have 11 or 12 songs maximum. I don't like CDs that have too many songs on them. I am old school that way as I grew up listening to records on vinyl.
AAJ: This CD was recorded in your studio which, from what we understand, is in the middle of an interesting setting. Tell us about your recording studio and where it is located.
TL: Actually, I did all my demo's in my home studio. The actual record was done at a studio called The Groves, in Santa Paula, California, owned by producer Todd Smallwood. The studio is located in an avocado grove so it is a very peaceful environment to record in. The sun was always shining, which was nice, since being from Seattle and all the rain we get!
.After I had my demos ready I sent the rhythm tracks to the band to learn. I didn't even let them hear the whole song. I wanted them to focus on the groove I was trying to get for each song. The band didn't even know how the songs sounded with the vocals or what they were about until Todd and I finished it in the studio in California.
Todd is a fantastic producer and musician. We saw eye-to-eye on most things as we were recording. I respect his talent and opinion and I feel he got the best out of our performances. Todd ended up playing Hammond B-3 and 12-string electric on several songs on the album.