Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal helped me celebrate my 19th birthday. No, really. New to the Emerald City, without needing a fake ID, I was thrilled at the sophistication of Jazz Alley, which to me seemed the very height of 1940s Hollywood nightclub glamour. Onstage, singing tunes with the slow beauty of molasses in a voice like gravel, was the Grammy-winning bluesman. I was smitten, and I soon permanently “borrowed” my parents’ record player so I could play Mahal LPs--reliving his live show in its raw, undigitized glory. But Mahal isn’t just a man who plays to the nostalgia-prone in dark bars. He wants everyone to love his music as much as he does. Long a Seattle favorite, he’s launching the ZooTunes concert series (through August 27), the remaining dates of which are selling out fast. Delta blues great Keb’ Mo’ opens both tonight’s and Wednesday’s shows. Woodland Park Zoo, 601 N. 59th St., 548-2500, www.zoo.org. $28. 6 p.m. LAURA ONSTOT

Tue., June 24, 6 p.m.; Wed., June 25, 6 p.m., 2008

 
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