Making a Scene Presents an Interview with Taylor Scott
For Taylor Scott, nothing is black and white. He operates in the grey areas between genres, creating his own colorful hybrid of roots-rock, funk, soul, and troubadour-style Americana. It’s a sound that’s as diverse as its creator, whipped into sharp shape by a musician who’s equal parts guitar hero and singer/songwriter craftsman. He embraces the full range of those roles with The Hang, the third album from the Taylor Scott Band.
Produced by longtime Los Lobos member Steve Berlin, The Hang shines new light on a songwriter who has spent much of his life onstage and on the road. Raised in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Taylor Scott grew up beneath the wide skies of the rural American West, where a childhood appreciation for country music — whose twangy textures seemed to reflect his surroundings — soon gave way to an obsession with rebellious, guitar-driven rock & roll. By 16 years old, he’d found a new love: old-school blues music. It was a genre that suited his soulful vocals and hotshot guitar skills, and Scott began playing regional festivals while still a high school student. Shortly after graduation, he was recruited by Otis Taylor to join the blues legend’s band. What followed was a whirlwind of international tour dates, with Scott spending four years as Taylor’s guitarist.
“It changed my trajectory,” he remembers. “Otis was a blues artist who defied and disregarded blues purism. He didn’t see himself as belonging to one genre; he just saw himself as a songwriter, and that had a big impact on me.”
Scott funneled those lessons into his own music, crafting original songs that nodded to his influences while simultaneously reaching beyond them. Schooled in the classic songwriting of Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, and Jerry Jeff Walker, he combined a lyric-driven approach with the fiery fretwork of an instrumentalist who’d experienced his coming-of-age while touring the world. This wasn’t the blues. It wasn’t funk, rock, or jam-band music, either. Instead, it was all of those things: a sound that was diverse and singular at the same time.
A Closer Look, a Second Glance marked Scott’s solo debut in 2016, while 2019’s All We Have — his first collaboration with Steve Berlin — helped expand his audience far beyond his adopted hometown of Denver. Scott even began playing with Los Lobos on occasion, appearing onstage to jam with a group of musicians who, like himself, obliterated genre boundaries. For a young songwriter, playing with such a legendary band wasn’t just a vote of confidence; it was an inspiration, too.
“Their music is so deep, so wide, and so impossible to put into a box,” Taylor says. “It’s like you’re watching a movie, where each song is a new scene and each album is a whole new world. The grooves, the Latin influence, the way the band mates play whatever inspires them — it all rubbed off on me.”
Taylor Scott Band began earning a reputation as a must-see live act, with explorative performances that stretched Scott’s songs to new lengths. Released in 2020, Live at the Belly Up captured Scott onstage, leading his band through an incendiary mix of Gibson guitar grit, swirling organ, and cathartic melodies. When the Covid-19 pandemic brought the group’s touring schedule to a standstill, though, he went back to the drawing board, writing a new batch of songs that examined the contradictions and dualities of the modern moment.
The result is 2022’s The Hang. It’s an album that peeks into dark corners without losing sight of the light. A nuanced album that’s introspective one moment and community-minded the next. Most importantly, it’s an album about finding happiness — with oneself, with others, and with a world that’s sometimes challenging and chaotic.
Kick-starting the record with pulsing percussion and heartland hooks, “Leaning Tree” finds Scott looking for stability while always on the move. “Shade Tree American Dream” takes a more lighthearted approach, its sunny melodies flanked by vocal harmonies and a cyclical guitar pattern, while “Dance All Night” brews up a moody backdrop of western guitars and barreling drums. “It’s about the battle between me and the outside world, or maybe just between me and myself,” Scott says of the latter track. “It’s about finding the light through the dark. That’s how we live — me and my wider community — and it’s fun to reflect that perspective in the music.”
Community is the key word. A leading light in Denver’s music scene, Scott enlists help from a number of his friends, turning The Hang into the musical embodiment of the album title itself. Longtime band mate Jon Wirtz adds plenty of B3 organ and atmospheric keyboard textures. Eric Benny Bloom, the trumpet player of Lettuce, lends his horn to the nostalgic soul of “Throwback Grooves.” Relying on instinct, intuition, and chemistry, The Taylor Scott Band even tackles a handful of songs completely live, including a fiery cover of Bash & Pop’s “Aim to Please,” with Scott Berlin providing first-rate guidance along the way.
“With my band, it’s never just about business,” Scott explains. “It’s about the hang. It’s about spending time with people you love, and creating an ever-widening community. That’s one of my favorite things, not only in music, but in life, too. So much of my music is about being present, and The Hang embodies that spirit.”
Taylor Scott has every reason to be present. With The Hang, though, he builds his way toward an even brighter future.
Find our Podcasts on these outlets