Although he only recently recorded his first nationally distributed full-length album, Los Angeles-based singer and songwriter Finis Tasby is no spring chicken in the blues world. Tasby has been singing in the Los Angeles area for years, and for years before that in Dallas.
Tasby was born in Dallas, Texas in 1940. He formed a band called the Thunderbirds in Dallas in 1962. While working with the Thunderbirds, Tasby played bass and sang backup vocals behind legendary blues singer-songwriter Z.Z. Hill. Hill eventually secured a recording contract, as did Hill's replacement, Joe Simon. From the mid-1960s, Tasby led the band, delivering lead vocals and playing bass. When not touring under their own name, the Thunderbirds backed up the likes of Clarence Carter, Lowell Fulson and Freddie King, touring regionally throughout Texas and Oklahoma.
Tasby recorded several singles in the 1970s and '80s: "Get Drunk and Be Somebody," in 1978, and "Blues Mechanic," a 1985 release for Ace Records. Tasby also landed an acting role in the film Sharkey's Machine with Burt Reynolds, all the while playing regularly around L.A. blues clubs with his own Finis Tasby Band. Most recently, three of Tasby's songs from his Shanachie Records debut, People Don't Care (1995), were featured in the mid-1990s film The Babysitter. While his singles are surely collectors' items, his 1995 Shanachie release is still readily available. Accompanying Tasby on People Don't Care are some world class talents: Lowell Fulson, Elvin Bishop, Mick Taylor and Vernon Reid, formerly of the rock group Living Colour. While some tracks on the album are less appealing, urban contemporary pop-blues, other tracks reveal Tasby's authentic Texas blues roots.
Tasby, a prolific songwriter, has many more good albums in his notebooks. Let's hope circumstances allow him to record and tour a lot more outside of Los Angeles. ~ Richard Skelly