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“BONTAJ ROULET”

Bonnie Raitt & Taj Mahal on Tour

By Lynn N. Capri

This summer, Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal ~ two driving forces of modern blues ~ are joining forces for their first-ever tour together. The “BonTaj Roulet” tour will be a coast-to-coast, 30-date adventure during August and September, including appearances at such celebrated venues as Wolf Trap, Ravinia, Red Rocks, and the Greek Theater in Los Angeles. These shows will feature Bonnie and Taj on stage both alone and together. Bonnie, backed by her always-dazzling group, and Taj, with the six-piece, Grammy-winning Phantom Blues Band, will play full sets separately before closing each night with a collaborative, blow-out performance.

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bonnie Raitt is an institution in American music-a best-selling artist, respected guitarist, expressive singer, and accomplished songwriter. The nine-time Grammy winner’s most recent studio album was her eighteenth release, 2005’s Souls Alike, followed up with a DVD/ CD, VH1 Classic Decades Rock Live! Presents Bonnie Raitt and Friends, released in 2006.

In May, composer, multi-instrumentalist, and vocalist Taj Mahal will be inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. His work-including last year’s studio album, Maestro, which featured such guest stars as Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, and Ziggy Marley- incorporates music from around the globe, from West Africa and the Caribbean to Latin America, the Hawaiian Islands, and so much more.

Bonnie and Taj first met in the early 1970s, when she opened for him at a concert at Skidmore College. In 1973, Taj co-produced Bonnie’s third album, Takin’ My Time. “I watched her develop under the tutelage of people like Fred MacDowell and Sippie Wallace,” says Taj. “She got right in there and stomped it down. She wasn’t afraid to play for real.”

“It’s like we’re cousins,” says Bonnie. “We’re both blessed that we knew those old blues guys, we love the same kinds of music-we have a common language. This tour is just what the doctor ordered. Taj and I have so much in common, but there’s so much unexplored territory between us. It’s been a long time coming, and now is the right time.”

“We’ve been like ships passing in the night,” adds Taj. “Some of my musicians used to play with Bonnie, we have so many of the same friends-this is really an opportunity to combine some forces and play some great music.”

In addition to sharing their talents with audiences across the US, these two socially conscious artists will also be using the tour to make a difference. The BonTaj Collective Action Fund will utilize several initiatives to raise money for a variety of causes. In conjunction with ticketing agencies like Ticketmaster, Live Nation Ticketing and Musictoday, plus some venues and promoters, the concertgoers and artists will all come together with the goal of raising $1 for charity per ticket sold on The BonTaj Roulet Tour.

At every concert, too, Bonnie and Taj are making available ACTION FUND VIP PACKAGES offering premium seats and an opportunity for a limited number of concertgoers to come backstage for an artist meet-and-greet after the show. All funds raised will go into the BonTaj Collective Action Fund.

Concertgoers are encouraged to vote on which causes to support at the BonTaj.com website. Proceeds will be distributed in proportion to overall votes tallied, to benefit organizations that work on the following issues: Safe and Sustainable Energy; Environmental Protection; Social Justice and Human Rights; and Blues/Music Education. For more information, to vote on causes for the Action Fund to support and to buy special premium seating, visit www.bontaj.com/thecollective.

As for their nightly jam sessions on the “BonTaj Roulet” tour, both artists sound like they’re raring to go. “There’s gonna be a lot of fireworks, because it’s so fresh,” says Bonnie. “I think about it before I go to sleep, toying with the possibilities, and it feels like having an extra slice of pie, getting both of these bands to play together like this. There’s so much potential to what we can do.”

“At these times,” says Taj, “peoples’ money is short, there’s lots of pressure and distractions, and this is when our job comes deep into focus and we really need to get on the stick. So I don’t know about anybody else, but I know I’m gonna have some fun.”

The BonTaj Roulet Tour comes to the East Coast on the following dates:

Sun, Aug 9, in Wallingford, CT at the Chevrolet Theatre

Wed, Aug 14, in Hyannis, MA at the Cape Cod Melody Tent

Sat, Aug 15, in Boston at the Bank of America Pavilion

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