Too Slim & the Taildraggers are a hit on several continents, but at home in the Washington state city of Spokane, they're a little like the Rodney Dangerfield of blues bands. Despite the band's release of more than half-a-dozen CDs and numerous national and international tours, many citizens, when first meeting the band's frontman and leader, Spokane native Tim "Too Slim" Langford, scratch their heads in non-recognition and ask what his profession is. Upon finding out that he's a blues musician, the next question is usually an inquiry concerning where the band performs. The situation is a far cry from what the band experienced on a trip to Belgium, where everyone they met requested an autograph and owned their CDs. All in all, it sure isn't anything at all like the recognition received by many other musicians in their hometowns, like Bruce Springsteen in his home base of Asbury Park. There, everyone knows that "The Boss" goes to the Stone Pony. If all this wasn't enough to make Langford and the Taildraggers feel like they get no respect, the next anecdote might be. One night in a parking lot, as Langford was leaving a gig in the city, a stranger pressed something into his neck from behind, something that felt suspiciously like a gun. His assailant, a woman, told him to fork over that night's pay, adding injury to insult. Still, for all of the drawbacks, Langford and his band intend to remain in Spokane between tours that take them to Norway, Belgium, and throughout Europe. Because their hometown is also home to an incredible number of extremely talented musicians, it's where Langford intends to base the Taildraggers for a long time to come.
Times haven't been all bad in Spokane for Too Slim & the Taildraggers, to be sure. The fan base they have built up since the band's formation in 1986 is a loyal and strong one. The band has had the opportunity to perform with a long list of heavyweight artists that includes Buddy Guy, Bo Diddley, and Robert Cray (the latter has long been a major influence on Langford and the band). Other main influences include Elmore James and Duane Allman. The Cascade Blues Association named Too Slim & the Taildraggers Best Regional Band for five consecutive years, beginning in 1995. The Inland Empire Blues Society dubbed them Best Blues Band for four straight years, from 1995 through 1998. The same blues society honored the CD Blues for EB as Best Album in 1998, and gave the same honor to the CD Swamp Opera two years earlier. Their 2000 release King Size Troublemakers featured guests Mark Hummel on harmonica, Lightnin' Hopkins on guitar, and Dave Cebert on piano, while their 2003 release Tales of Sin & Redemption featured the single "Mississippi Moon." Their 2007 release, The Fortune Teller, focused on more of a swampy Americana sound, while their tenth album, 2009's Free Your Mind, added a dash of gospel. Blues singer Duffy Bishop made a guest appearance on the title track of 2011's Shiver, the band's last studio effort before relocating to Nashville, Tennessee. Their first effort after settling in, 2013's Blue Heart, rose to number three on Billboard's Top Blues Album Chart. ~ Linda Seida