Larry Joe Taylor
b. 31 July 1950, Texas, USA. After studying business at Tarleton State University Taylor worked at various jobs in commerce, agriculture and industry. He also was deeply interested in rodeo until an injury forced him to stop riding. Meanwhile, he taught himself to play guitar and in his spare time sang in bars, sometimes writing his own material. Taylor formed bands and thus maintained his links to music. Over the years, his attachment to the traditional, earthier aspects of rural music, which later spawned ‘outlaw’ music, developed to the point where he decided to launch his own music festival. Until this point, Taylor’s singing and composing had been appreciated mainly by fellow musicians, such as Gary P. Nunn, with whom he composed some songs. Audiences were indifferent, indeed his first festival, in Mingus in 1989, was poorly attended with less than 100 people turning up. He persisted, however, and the following year four times that number arrived. Gradually, audiences grew, attracted by word-of-mouth praise and by the interest shown in his work by musicians. The location changed too, eventually settling in Meridian in 1998. In time, Taylor’s festival and its significance in the Lone Star sound became an integral part of Texas’ role in country music.
The down-home nature of Taylor’s festival is indicated by its title: Texas Music Festival & Chili Cookoff. Among artists who have performed there are Ray Wylie Hubbard and Rusty Wier, both of whom credit the festival and Taylor with helping regenerate their careers. Among other artists who appeared there early in their careers and this gaining a timely boost are Charlie Robison and Pat Green. Taylor still sings, and has made occasional records and although his singing voice is rough and ready, none can doubt the integrity of his sound, which matches his directness and honesty as an individual.