I've had a number of people ask me about different guitar accessories I use. I've made a list of the ones I'm using now. If I made a comprehensive list it would be long enough for a website of its own. You can see my list here: Franklin Taggart Guitar Accessories
I got my first guitar in 1975. Love at first strum. Played my first paid professional gigs in 1979. Ever since then I've played pretty much anywhere that would have me, from living rooms to the Kennedy Center. Currently I play all over Northern Colorado and Southeast Wyoming in breweries, clubs, farmers markets, private parties, art openings, poetry gatherings, churches and more. You can catch me solo, or in my favorite duo, Taggart & Silas, or as lead guitarist in Paul Chet and the Whiskey Chickens, and sitting in with those friends who will still tolerate a few mistakes in exchange for cold beer.
|City Star Brewing, Berthoud, CO 12/2015|
|Taggart & Silas, Avo's 5/2015|
I do appreciate the support of those who listen to and love live, local music. You've given me a reason to do this for a good long time and I don't get tired of playing for you. I hope to see you all soon...
|Paul Chet and the Whiskey Chickens, Avo's 5/2015|
“As for Taggart, his release "Falling All the Way," has a more rootsy and jaunty sound, flavored by guitars, mandolin, banjo and dobro...Taggart is a smart, economical songwriter. He also has a knack for getting right to the troubled heart of a matter, as the CD's title track and "What Tomorrow Will Be Missing" reveal. All is not sorrow and anguish, though. In a calm, somewhat husky voice that occasionally brings John Hartford to mind, Taggart conjures other moods as well, with a thoroughly smitten love song ("County Fair/Apple Blossom") and a vivid portrait of a first and lasting impression ("Missing You All My Life)."”
After flash in the pan experiences with learning the piano and trumpet, my parents weren't keen to get me a guitar of my own. For at least two years I'd drop hints, circling guitars in the Sears Christmas Catalog, making them slow down to notice the guitar sale at Duncan's Music in Evanston, Wyoming when we were driving to the Safeway. They were firm in their refusal.
Finally, for Christmas in 1975 I wouldn't let them off the hook. It was a guitar or nothing. On Christmas morning I received a cheap acoustic guitar, a Mel Bay Guitar Method Book 1, a John Denver Songbook, and six lessons at the music store in downtown Greeley, Colorado. I never looked back.
The guitar was my constant obsession for the next 10 years, practicing hours every day. I learned hoe to read music early, but to really learn how to play popular songs I had to learn how to play by ear. I spent hours dropping the needle on my parent's old record player learning bass lines first, then figuring out chords from there. Songs by everyone from the Carpenters to Alice Cooper - I wanted to know everything.
I jammed with friends in high school, but the first group playing opportunities I had were playing in school jazz groups. There were a lot of chord names that were foreign to me, and the melodies and rhythms were much more complex than anything else I'd learned, but I had to know how to play this music.
Other than the first six lessons I'd gotten for that first guitar Christmas, I hadn't taken any lessons. In my junior high school year I met and started taking lessons from the guy I still consider my main guitar guru, the late, great Tracy Pfau. Tracy was a world class jazz guitarist who for some reason never saw fit to take his talent outside of Caper, Wyoming, but to this day he's one of the finest players and persons that I've known. He got me started with the Mickey Baker Jazz Guitar Method where I learned how to play every kind of chord shape up and down the neck. For the next years, jazz guitar would be my passion.
I'd written some songs and melodies in my younger years, and had to write a composition for jazz combo my senior year in high school, but I'd never really written songs, and I had a horrible time learning how to play guitar and sing at the same time. In college I got to start playing more popular acoustic music in bars to make some extra money, along with the occasional jazz gig. For the bar gigs I'd play with duo partners who could handle the lead singing while I could handle the more complex guitar parts and mumble out some background vocals.
I remember being frustrated when asked at social gatherings to share a song that I couldn't sing a song for people from beginning to end. I had tried to learn how to sing and play together for as long as I'd been playing, but finally I had to stop trying to learn how to do this with popular songs and start writing my own songs that I could learn from the ground up. My earliest songs featured a prominent bass line melody that I could sing along with. I found that the easiest way to be able to accomplish both. You can still hear this technique in some of my later songs like Climb That Mountain.
Over time I became able to sing not only my songs, but songs by other performers. In my early thirties I started playing solo acoustic gigs and making my way into the singer-songwriter circles that I'm still a part of. I held onto a lot of different day jobs while I figured out how to carve out my career. Finally in the mid 90s I decided to jump all the way in and I left my last official full time day job and moved to Nashville, ready to become the next big songwriter in a song loving town.
It took six months to lose everything. Completely broke, I resorted to joining a carpet and flooring installation crew to eke out what small amount of money I could make. After a year of this I finally came to the realization that my songwriting dream wasn't quite ready to be a reality.
I met a woman on America Online who was connected to the music scene in Washington, DC. She invited me there for a visit over a weekend. In that weekend I was offered a job at the House of Musical Traditions, a world renowned folk music Mecca where all the folk musicians in the US would wander through. Also in that weekend I was offered two gigs with other singer songwriters playing lead guitar and singing backup, and I was offered a place to stay rent free in exchange for helping with some remodeling. I made the move permanent a few weeks later.
My connections at HMT and the other writers I was working with led to several happy years of playing in the Mid-Atlantic region and East Coast. At HMT I met Tom Espinola who would go on to produce my first and only full length CD, Falling All the Way. I also played with Mary Sue Twohy, Liberty Dawne and the Overhaulers, Dulcie Taylor, and a few traditional instrumental bands. I also started teaching guitar lessons. While I loved writing and performing, when I found teaching I found a vocation that really matched up with some of my strongest talents. In the 13 years I lived in the DC area I taught over 600 students, mostly adult beginners who were finally ready to make good on their teenage dreams.
My performing career was interrupted between 2003 and 2011 with some personal tragedy, a horribly painful case of tendinitis in both arms, and finally a long term serious illness. During those years I had reached the point where I thought I'd never play again. In 2011 I was healthy enough to take the stage at the Washington Folk Festival and begin recovering my ability to perform.
In 2011 my family and I also decided to make the move back west, ultimately settling in Northern Colorado. During my interruption years I had started a few non-musical businesses, online marketing and coaching other people who wanted to plan and make a go of their creative careers. I continued to run those businesses when we moved. Since the move to Colorado my perfomances have been sporadic with the exception of a few years playing with my pal Todd Silas on upright bass, and in 2015 joining country singer Paul Chet's band.
In 2014 I was offered the job of music director at Unity of Fort Collins. When Todd moved back to Montana in 2018 I decided to partially retire, maintaining my music role at the church and playing on the occasions that Paul's band would play. There are two breweries in Northern Colorado where I still show up a couple of times a year and it's only because their owners feel like family. Otherwise I'm not seeking out any solo opportunities.
Now here we are in 2020 with a pandemic and entering a time of social and political uncertainty. The economic scene is unpredictable at best and I'm starting to think that I'm ready to make music a passionate pastime for the rest of my time here. For the majority of my adult life I've cobbled together some kind of living by stringing together four or five part time jobs. My body has let me know that I can no longer put it through that. For the most part I'm ready to devote my time to one full time job and to my family.
All that said, I will still take the occasional gig and I have 20 years of songs that haven't been recorded yet. I'm not all the way finished, but I'm nearly done. I'll post here on the rare occasion I have something to share. I thank all of you who have encouraged me along the way by kicking my butt, showing up to gigs, buying my music and sharing it with friends. Your support has kept me going through it all.
I'll see you around...