Listening to Tim “Too Slim” Langford play slide guitar makes you ponder his musical roots. In an interview with Blues Access magazine, he claimed to be really into the Beatles during his youth. But the first time he went to a concert, a ZZ Top show, Too Slim says with a laugh, “God called me up and said, ‘You must play!’”
For sure, trying to categorize Too Slim and the Taildraggers, the Spokane trio that Langford fronts today, is a futile effort. They’ve managed to stymie critics and fans from putting them into any musical box. “We’re kind of a schizophrenic band,” said Langford in an interview with the Spokesman Review. “It seems like everyone wants to pigeonhole everything. It’s like you’re a blues band and you’ve got to play 14 shuffles and slow blues. It’s getting old. We’re not really the definition of a blues band. We don’t play shuffles and we have a harmonica guy.” And how do they categorize their music? “Hank meets Hendrix.”
Still, that hasn’t kept the blues establishment from acknowledging that they’ve paid their dues. They have been honored by nearly every blues society. They have won over 40 awards—including entry into the Cascade and Inland Empire Blues Associations’ Hall of Fame. With Tim “Too Slim” Langford on guitar/vocals, Tom “The Stomp” Brimm on bass, and John “Midnight” Cage on drums, the trio has transcended regional status with their diversity of sound and more than 250 gigs a year. They’ve shared the stage with Bo Diddley, Robert Cray, .38 Special, and the Fabulous Thunderbirds.
King Size Troublemakers, their most recent 12-track release, is the band’s seventh album. It stays the course of the trio’s musical bearing with its capricious blend of blues and other genres like surf, polka, and cajun. Segueing through the trio’s powerhouse swamp boogie blues is the special guest harmonica of Mark Hummel.
While it is difficult to file this band under any one genre, guessing some of their influences is not. The guitar work brings to mind Stevie Ray Vaughn and Robert Cray. Their sound bears resemblance to the Fabulous Thunderbirds, George Thorogood and the Destroyers, and Lynryd Skynyrd. Too Slim’s vocals frequently sound like an angst-ridden Lyle Lovett on speed.
Having just played to a 400-plus crowd in Hawaii a few weeks back, Too Slim and the Taildraggers are bound to please concert-goers with their two live 60-minute blues sets. As Too Slim told an interviewer recently, “I’ve met some musicians that are not sociable; I hate that attitude! It’s not just about the music, it’s about the fans, too! If it wasn’t for the fans, you wouldn’t be able to play music for a living. I like connecting with them!”
Connect with Too Slim and the Taildraggers in a concert/dance at Down The Hatch, Friday, Dec. 15 and Thursday, Dec. 14 at the Sportsman in Columbia Falls. Showtime begins at 8 p.m., with a special set by local Polson band Raindog. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door.