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Otis Taylor - Friend of the DFC

Otis Taylor has developed a reputation as a premier blues musician and an inventive composer and performer.  His physical roots are in Denver though he traces his musical roots to his birthplace, Chicago.  Otis spent quite a bit of time at the Denver Folklore Center while growing up.  Harry’s Tuft, the founder of DFC, tells the story this way.

“In the early 1960s, Otis would come to the store riding a unicycle, which was unique, and at the time he probably was the only person of color in the store. He made friends with some of the teachers when the store was on 17th and Pearl. I had established a school and among the teachers were Mike Kropp that Otis was kind of bugging to show him how to play the banjo. He was also learning to play the harmonica, traded the banjo in for the guitar and played blues at the hootenannies we held on Friday nights.

Otis took his musical skills to London, and almost had a career there, and returned to Denver where he developed an interest in high-end antiques. I had lost touch with him at that time when he was in London, but our friendship was rekindled once he was back in Denver.

Otis spoke to me about re-starting his musical career, even though he was in his early 50s. I do feel good about encouraging him to take the plunge. There is a Jewish saying - 'if not now when'. That was my advice to Otis. I think Otis’ friends were encouraging to restart his musical career and the rest is history. 

I feel really good about whatever small part the Folklore Center played in Otis’ musical career and I’m proud to call him my friend.”

Otis is still a regular at the Folklore Center, coming by to visit and have us restring his guitars, banjos and other instruments.  He continues to perform and annually hosts the Trance Blues Festival in Boulder where he has lived since 1967. Taylor was inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame in 2019.