An Interview with Tim "Too Slim" Langford - have created an eclectic style of Blues and Rock with his own sound

"Life will always throw you some song writing material. You get everything just by living , happy, sad good and bad!"

Tim "Too Slim" Langford: Star-Spangled Blues

Timothy Lee Langford, with his band the Taildraggers, have created an eclectic style of Blues and Rock, that has become a genre all its own. Too Slim‘s ever evolving musical direction cannot be classified into any box or category. The eclectic nature of the band allows Too Slim and the Taildraggers to easily cross-over and appeal to audiences of various musical tastes.Experiencing a Too Slim and the Taildragger concert is like taking a journey through the history of American music.

Too Slim’s music style ranges from down home blues, funky blues rock, Americana, southern swamp rock, and instrumental guitar styles. Too Slim and the Taildraggers have multiple awards from various Reader’s Polls and Blues Societies for Best Band and Best Album. Founding member Tim "Too Slim" Langford has won multiple individual awards as Best Guitarists, Best Slide Guitarist, and Best Songwriter. Too Slim and the Taildraggers are in the Hall of Fame in three NW Blues Societies. Too Slim and the Taildraggers music was also featured in two MTV series "Road Rules" and the "Real World".
Too Slim and the Taildraggers are headliners at theaters, festivals, and concert stages. The band has shared the stage with the likes of Pat Benatar, Lucinda Williams, Bo Diddley, Brian Setzer, Johnny Lang, Kenny Wayne Sheperd, .38 Special, Robert Cray, Otis Rush, Jeff Healey, Ted Nugent, Los Lobos, Lonnie Mack, Blue Oyster Cult, Junior Brown, Gatemouth Brown, Delbert McClinton, Blues Traveler, Steppenwolf, Johnny and Edgar Winter, just to name a few. Broken Halo (2012) was a solo acoustic release by BMA nominee Tim "Too Slim" Langford. Too Slim's release Pint Store Blues (1999) received rave reviews. Broken Halo contains 11 original tunes by Tim "Too Slim" Langford and features a fusion of Blues, Folk, and Americana influences. Too Slim and the Taildraggers’ 2011 album Shiver was nominated for 2012 Rock Blues album of the year by the Blues Foundations BMA Awards in Memphis TN. Anthology (2014) is the new 2 CD set by Too Slim and the Taildraggers, a collection of songs from the Underworld Records catalog featuring songs from the last decade of recordings and features 3 new songs.


Interview by Michael Limnios               

Promo Photo by Dean Davis / Album cover art by Nancy Davis Langford

 

Tim, when was your first desire to become involved in the blues & who were your first idols?
I first became interested in playing blues right after I started playing guitar at age 14. My first blues idols were BB King, Duane Allman, Robert Johnson, Otis Rush, Freddie King, Albert Collins, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, John Mayall, Elvin Bishop, ZZ Top, George Thorogood, Lynyrd Skynyrd.

"Too Slim was a moniker given to me by Curtis Graham the lead singer in a band I had called the Studebakers. He thought I resembled the bass player in Rider's in the Sky. I always wore a cowboy hat so he dubbed me Too Slim. I was a skinny little shit as well so it stuck."

What was the first gig you ever went to & what were the first songs you learned?
What inspired me to play guitar was seeing ZZ Top Live. I was mesmerized by their energy and the sound. The first Band I saw live in a bar was Robert Cray and they were fantastic. I learned a lot by watching that band. Curtis Salgado was in the band then as well. I remember learning Lynyrd Skynyrd and Creedence Clearwater tunes. I tried to figure out Robert Johnson stuff early on, but it took me a while to figure out the open tunings. I used to jam along with my BB King and Otis Rush albums.

 

What does the BLUES mean to you & what does Blues offered you?
The Blues to me represents American roots music. It's reality and it has offered me a way to express myself and a way to tap into my own emotions. I am a naturally shy person and it allows me to express myself in a way I probably otherwise would not have been able to had I not been introduced to this music.

 

Cool nickname "Too Slim". How did you come up with it?
Too Slim was a moniker given to me by Curtis Graham the lead singer in a band I had called the Studebakers. He thought I resembled the bass player in Rider's in the Sky. I always wore a cowboy hat so he dubbed me Too Slim. I was a skinny little shit as well so it stuck.

"Nancy my wife turns me on!! I don't have any hobbies other than music. I do like our dogs and like to stay in shape with my yoga practice."

What characterize Tim Langford’s sound and blues philosophy?
I guess my songwriting may distinguish me from other blues players. I always try to push it outside the boundaries of tradition.

 

What experiences in your life make you a GOOD musician and songwriter?
I guess I'm a good musician because I work hard at it. Same with the songwriting. You have to work hard at your craft just like anything other trade. Life will always throw you some song writing material. You get everything just by living , happy, sad good and bad!!

 

Tell me about the beginning of Taildraggers. How did you choose the name and where did it start?
I started Too Slim and the Taildraggers to play original Blues Based music. I never liked playing other peoples music too much, so I started writing my own, and it had to have a blues element to it. I like all kinds of music and you can probably hear other influences in my music if you listen. The name came from an old Howlin' Wolf song called "I'm a Taildragger". We were just sitting around drinking and it sounded good. I just wanted to call it the Taildraggers, but others convinced me I should add the Too Slim part.

 

How do you describe Taildraggers music and progress?
I would describe the music as Blues Americana. I write all the music, so I am constantly trying to keep the music fresh and evolving, incorporating new influences. I don't see that ever coming to an end unless I get lazy.

"Robert Johnson and Lightnin' Hopkins would be the ones I would like to meet. I bet they got some tales to tell!"

Do you have any amusing tales to tell of your gigs, jams and recording time with the band?
I have a million amusing and not so amusing tales to tell about being on the road and recording. It would take up a lot of space here so I'll save it for another day. One great memory I can share is when I first met Charlie Musselwhite. I opened for him in the early days of the band and the next day he called me to say how much he liked the band and that I could use him for a reference. I could not believe that he actually took the time to call me; it made me feel real good. Charlie is a very sweet man and I would categorize him as Blues Legend.

 

Tell me a few things about your experience with Bo Diddley, Robert Cray, Otis Rush, Jeff Healey, Lonnie Mack, RL Burnside, which gigs have been the biggest experiences for you?
Robert Cray was such a huge inspiration to me. A very sweet man and one hell of a talent. He was always very good to me. Bo Diddley was great; I got to back him up many times and was always in awe that I was standing on the stage with him. He could really whip the crowd into a frenzy. Lonnie Mack was very cool too. I got to play his Flying V. I also really liked Jeff Healey. I spent an hour chatting with Otis Rush in a trailer at a festival in Alaska of all places. It was a thrill because he was one of my biggest influences. RL Burnside offered me some whiskey from his flask once and I let him borrow my guitar at a festival because his guitar got broken.

 

"I guess I'm a good musician because I work hard at it. Same with the songwriting. You have to work hard at your craft just like anything other trade."

How would you describe your contact to people when you are on stage?
I try to connect with the people who come to our shows on a personal level. If they were not there I would not be there either.

 

Are there any memories from the road with the blues, which you’d like to share with us?
One time I was at Buddy Guys club and Buddy Guy and Magic Slim were at the bar drinking whiskey. I was playing with Buddy's backup band for a benefit to raise money for a funeral for a local Chicago blues legend. Magic Slim was going to play and I really wanted to jam with him. I asked if he would let me sit in with him. He's a very big man he looked me up and down and said "OK, but don't you try pulling no shit on me". I agreed that I would not of course not quite sure what he meant, but it was a thrill to pay with him.

 

Some music styles can be fads but the blues is always with us. Why do think that is? Give one wish for the BLUES
The blues stays with us because the music is real and there's always a new generation of kids who think they have discovered this music that no one else knows about!! I was one of those kids once, so was Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn and Joe Bonamassa. My wish for the blues is that it has another resurgence like it seems to have every 20 years or so. Some kid will come along and give it a whole new attitude and we will have a new generation of blues lovers and they will all work their way back and rediscover all the people who have kept the music alive for 100 plus years!!

 

"The Blues to me represents American roots music. It's reality and it has offered me a way to express myself and a way to tap into my own emotions."

Do you know why the sound of the slide guitar is connected to the blues? What are the secrets of slide guitar?
The slide is like someone singing, it's very expressive. That's why it has been used in blues music so much, it can sound like someone crying or moaning or rejoicing. Dampening the guitar strings is the key to playing good slide.

 

What is the best advice a bluesman ever gave you? From whom have you have learned the most secrets about the blues music?
I had several say the same thing to me which was 'Don't ever give up, just keep doing what your doing" Robert Cray is probably the person I learned the most from.

 

Which was the best moment of your career and which was the worst?
There are so many little things along the way that are great moments that I can remember but getting nominated for a BMA (Blues Music Award) by the Blues Foundation was a big moment for me. It goes the same with the worst moments, they don't call it the blues for nothing. Being broke down on the highway is not my idea of a good time.

 

From the musical point of view is there any difference between downhome, funky, Americana, Southern and blues?
They are all different flavors of the same ice cream cone!

"I guess my songwriting may distinguish me from other blues players. I always try to push it outside the boundaries of tradition."

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I miss the fact that a bands individuality was embraced by the music industry, I feel that the music industry today is looking for something that sounds like something else that was successful. The music industry today is so much different. I hope that independent artists continue to take control of their own destiny and I fear that the corporate giants will do there best to make sure that it won't happen. I also fear that music in general will be devalued especially on the songwriter level in the radio and internet radio world. Songwriters deserve to be paid for their work a fair rate.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

I would like to see independent artists get their fair share of the pie.

Which memory from B. O. C, Gatemouth Brown, Steppenwolf, and Johnny Winter makes you smile?

I remember buying B.O.C. first album and listening to it the first time and how I was excited by it. My memory of Gatemouth Brown is seeing him sell his own Merchandise and Tobacco at the Waterfront Blues Festival. They were going to make him pay 30% on his sales so he walked to the other side of the fence and sold to people from there. With Steppenwolf, I once delivered John Kay Room Service when I was a teenager and working at a hotel. When he answered the door he had his sunglasses on and was very kind to me. I also got to do some shows with them in Norway later on in life. I remember seeing Johnny Winter live many times as a teenager and then we got to do a tour with him about 2008 and he was super nice.

"I hope that independent artists continue to take control of their own destiny and I fear that the corporate giants will do there best to make sure that it won't happen."

What are the ties that connect the Blues with Americana, and continue to Funky and Southern Swamp Rock?

If you take Muddy Waters and mix it with the Allman Brothers, then add some Neville Brothers with a touch of Tony Joe White, that's what you get..

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go for a whole day..?

I'd Travel back in time with my wife Nancy and we would go see the Allman Brothers when they closed down the Fillmore and made the greatest Live album of all time!! Live at the Fillmore!

Which of historical blues personalities would you like to meet?

Robert Johnson and Lightnin' Hopkins would be the ones I would like to meet. I bet they got some tales to tell!

 

Would you like to tell something about making “Broken Halo”, how that came about?
Broken Halo was a very easy record to make. I did the whole thing in 5 days. Nancy who is my manager and wife encouraged me to do it, in fact she demanded I do it!!

 

What turns you on? Do you have any hobbies, which do not have anything to do with music?
Nancy my wife turns me on!! I don't have any hobbies other than music. I do like our dogs and like to stay in shape with my yoga practice.


Too Slim & the Taildraggers website

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