Anyone who has ever seen Livingston Taylor in concert can attest to the fact that he is thoroughly at home on any stage, from a classroom to a music club to a grand concert hall. Celebrating his 51st year as a professional entertainer, Taylor is a master of crafting sweet melodic songs and delivering them in a honey-tinged voice. His warm and exuberant personality shines through from the first number.
Taylor will be appearing with special guest Karla Bonoff at the Emerson Center in Vero Beach on Friday, January 12th at 7 p.m. Over the next three months the Emerson Center stage will be presenting nine concerts-- an eclectic mix of nostalgia, country rock, celebrated song-writers and musicians as well as a trio of top-flight tribute bands. This year marks Emerson's fifth season.
"Our artists connect with a wide range of ages and musical tastes,” says concert promoter Rusty Young of the not-for-profit MusicWorks, Inc. "Local businesses and our non-profit partner the Cultural Council enjoy the opportunity to reach our audience, sharing their information and the calendar of events. This is a win-win for many.”
Early on in a home chock-full of talented musicians, Livingston Taylor discovered the knack of making people laugh. Born in Boston and raised in North Carolina, Taylor's father Isaac was a physician and dean of the medical school at the University of North Carolina. A lyric soprano, his mother Trudy trained at the Music Conservancy in Boston. He is the younger brother of legendary James Taylor, the fourth child in the Taylor brood that also included Alex, Kate, and Hugh.
A superb finger-style guitar player and accomplished songwriter-- he released his 19th album, “Safe Home” in 2017-- Taylor views songwriting as intricate puzzles that need to be solved. In concert he peppers the audience with antics and anecdotes, quizzical gazes and playful humor that connect him to fans while performing on acoustic guitar, piano and banjo.
“I'm a pop musician and entertainer, and I’m here to entertain,” says Taylor, 67. “For some reason I’m funny. I don't really work at it. I'm very comfortable in the presence of an audience. If I'm relaxed, they're relaxed. It's an incredible gift and I'm so joyful to have it. I like making people feel good.”
Being the younger brother of a pop music icon is a road that few have navigated well. To his credit, Livingston has worked hard to carve out his own identity. He recorded his first album at the age of 18 and has continued to create well crafted, introspective, and original songs that have earned him listeners worldwide. One of his classic numbers is “Railroad Bill,” the fictional character who refuses (with dire consequences) to follow his creator’s story.
“I love taking time with my songs,” relates the lanky musician. “I never try and force my writing. I practice my music and am writing new stuff all the time so I can bring fresh material on stage. It makes me quite enthusiastic. I love having a good time on stage.”
Taylor's natural, relaxed on-stage presence belies the depth of his musical knowledge. He is equally at home with a range of musical genres-- folk, pop, gospel and jazz-- from upbeat storytelling and touching ballads to full orchestra performances. At his concerts fans often might be treated to a classic Gershwin tune or something from the best of Broadway.
A full professor at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Taylor has taught a Stage Performance Techniques course since 1989. It is consistently voted the most popular course at the College.
"I love teaching, it's very fulfilling," Taylor says. "Teaching thousands of students, and critiquing tens of thousands of performances, you really get a sense as to how to be on stage, what to do onstage, and how to be in the moment. I offer helpful tips that can improve their performances. Each person is different so there are different approaches and advice I offer."
John Mayer, Susan Tedeschi and Liz Longley are a few of his pupils who have garnered award-winning musical careers.
"The the course I explain that losing yourself in your music is no excuse for loding interest in your audience," he relates. "It's not about you, it's about them."
Taylor is a resident of both Boston and Martha's Vineyard where he has spent nearly every summer of his life. A putterer, he enjoys fixing lawn mowers and tractors, working on his motorcycles. Taylor flies his own Cessna 204 plane from Boston to the Vineyard to beat the congested highways.
"My brain works in a very mechanical way," explains Taylor explains. "I'm able to understand a specific system and how it works. In some ways, it's quite similar to playing music."
Taylor's highly engaging performance at the Emerson Center is sure to delight old and new fans alike.
MusicWorks and Paris Productions present the concerts at Emerson Center located at 1590 27th Ave., Vero Beach. For tickets to Livingston Taylor and all nine shows in 2018, visit www.musicworksconcerts.com or call (800) 595-4849.