When he was 10 or 11, Hughes Taylor said he heard Keith Williams perform at a restaurant in Payne City.
He said, one day he went up and expressed an interest in guitar and Williams showed him a couple of things and drew a guitar chord on a napkin for him to take home and practice.
It was a “G” chord, he said.
The next week, Taylor came back and Williams did the same.
“Keith mentored me,” Taylor said. “He taught me and one day even brought me on stage. I loved it. Why do I love guitar and music? I guess it goes back to that. He brought me up and I thought, ‘I’m going to do music the rest of my life.’”
Taylor said he grew up in Macon, but lives in Dahlonega now where he stayed after finishing a marketing degree at the University of North Georgia two years ago.
He plays solo gigs at restaurants and clubs and works as often as possible with the band throughout Georgia. He’s recorded three albums, the last called “Good Blues Fast.”
On the horizon, the group is looking at a U.K. tour.
“Yeah,” Taylor said. “That’s the huge, huge thing we’ve got coming up in January. Heather Findlay offered us the opening slot on her next tour there. She’s an established U.K. artist who we met in the U.S. when she played at the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) show in Nashville.”
Taylor said he and his manager helped take care of logistics and got a backup band together for Findlay. Then they got to know her really well.
“Now, the big thing is we have a fund going to finance the trip over. It’s exciting to get to play to a new audience in a new country plus I’ll be playing where so many of my influences are from,” he said.
He said those include Eric Clapton, Cream, Jimi Hendrix (who is American but whose rise to fame is associated with touring England), Jimmy Page and Pink Floyd.
But one of his biggest influences is Austin, Texas bluesman/guitar-slinger Stevie Ray Vaughn.
Such influences come through Taylor’s playing both blistering and soothing melding directly or indirectly in tunes like “Crossroads,” “Pride and Joy,” Voodoo Joe” or “Promise.”
It may sound old school for a 24-year-old, but Taylor comes by it honestly.
“My dad, Sam Kitchens, played classic rock from the ‘70s and the Allman Brothers in our house all the time. A friend of his, Norris Tapley, introduced me to Stevie Ray and gave me concert DVDs. I spent a lot of formative years watching, re-watching and watching again how he played and tried to get his licks down. Then when I was about 16, I started writing my own songs and getting my own style. I still love it. It’s been quite a journey, but it’s really just getting started.”
When Taylor comes back to Macon and the Society Garden, he’ll be bringing Samantha.
“I name all my guitars and Samantha is my number one,” Taylor said of the Fender Stratocaster style electric he built. “I hardly ever put that guitar down. It’s named after my niece who died when she was about 2, right when I was building the guitar. I carry a second one, Scarlet, but Samantha is number one. It’s really special.”
Contact Michael W. Pannell at email@example.com.
“Hughes Taylor Band”
Where: The Society Garden, 2389 Ingleside Ave.
When: 8:30 p.m., Nov. 1
Cost $5 cover starts at 7 p.m