July 13, 2013 Update
Michelle Talor and the Blues Junkies will perform on the Main Stage of the Mill Creek Festival on Sunday, July 14th at 1:30 pm.
By Elizabeth Griffin
Michelle Taylor is known by many in the Pacific Northwest because of her six-year gig with the Top-40 cover band, Expertease. As lead singer for the band, she quickly gathered a loyal fan base due to her outgoing personality, energetic stage presence, and loyalty to fans.
In six years, she rarely missed a performance, even singing through the final months of her pregnancy. Soon after giving birth to her son, Taylor began to look for new ground with her music. “I wanted to do something different vocally, to express myself more than I could when singing traditional top 40 tunes,” she said. “My voice has more of a blues sound, so I wanted to explore that.”
Inspired by vocalists Beth Hart and Susan Tedeschi, Taylor sings with a similar passion and power, and her voice holds the same gritty quality of Tedeschi. Like them, she is not afraid to push the boundaries of definition, and even come up with her own, when she finds it necessary.
Michelle Taylor and the Blues Junkies “walks a fine line of blues, right up to the edge of rock,” according to Taylor. “We do mostly covers, but some originals too. We put a blues spin on a variety of songs that most blues groups play,” she said. “But we are not your traditional 1-4-5 blues band. We’re very upbeat, very high energy. We will play some Top 40, some Elvis Presley, blues and country – a wide range of genres with a blues feel to it.”
The band was formed last year by Taylor and her fiancé, Justin Dean. It began as a foursome and quickly Michelle Taylor and the Blues Junkies grew to six members in order to play bigger venues.
It was recently nominated for Best New Band by the Washington Blues Society.
“Justin and I picked our crew and started out playing at local clubs, and we grew pretty fast,” Taylor said. In addition to Taylor and Dean, the band includes Jim Shull on bass, Tommy Cook on drums, Jim Barnes on keyboard, and Angelo Ortiz on percussion. Cook and Ortiz are well known in the blues community, and Barnes has performed for his entire life.
“We definitely are very family oriented as a band,” Taylor said, “We have great communication and we’re just all on the same page, which can be kind of rare in a band.”
With each of the band members employed full time in other professions, the group doesn’t have a lot of time to rehearse. Taylor said it’s a good thing they are so in sync. “Everybody just makes suggestions for songs and the arrangements, we rehearse them individually and then together once or twice, and it comes together,” she explained. “We perform so often that those become our rehearsals in a way. We are very fortunate to know each other well enough to click when we get together and just play.”
Audiences can expect a high energy show at the Mill Creek Festival. Taylor loves to go wireless and get out into the audience, and so does Dean. “We both have very outgoing personalities and we love to get the audience involved in the show,” she said, clearly loving to have fun with the music.
“The show is very entertaining. We get new followers every time we play.”
Michelle Taylor and the Blues Junkies will be traveling a lot this summer to blues festivals in Montana, Oregon and Washington. Look for them at outdoor festivals, and be sure to catch them in Mill Creek.
For more information, visit www. michelletaylorandthebluesjunkies.
This article has been reprinted with permission from GA Publications NW.