Music » Critics' Picks

Taj Mahal Trio

Friday, July 30; Gateway Arch Stage on the St. Louis Riverfront


Taj Mahal has taken the blues on quite a journey over his 40 years in music. He first gained fame in the late '60s for putting an updated spin on country blues, but as his career has progressed, Mahal has stretched the borders of the familiar American style to include sounds from all over the world, infusing his music with reggae rhythms and collaborating at various times with Indian classical musicians, Hawaiian "slack key" guitarists and an African kora master.

Though a small group playing intimate music might seem an odd choice for a heavily hyped midsummer outdoor-concert series, Mahal doesn't need explosive pyrotechnics or outsize arena-rock stage moves to entertain an audience. His distinctive voice, huge repertoire of original compositions and covers, and engaging personality are more than enough to fill the vast space on the riverfront with music, humor and warmth.