One of the most popular blues bands to emerge from the Pacific Northwest, Too Slim & the Taildraggers play a potent mix of blues and rock & roll, built around the guitar work of leader Tim "Too Slim" Langford.
Favoring a lean, muscular sound that leaves plenty of room for Langford's guitar work, the group's approach is informed by blues-influenced rockers such as ZZ Top and Robin Trower as much as guitar heroes Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Too Slim & the Taildraggers first earned a loyal regional following in the state of Washington thanks to energetic live shows and albums such as 1995's Swamp Opera and 1997's Blues for EB. As the group's reputation grew, they won fans across the United States and Europe, and eventually relocated to Nashville, where albums such as 2011's Shiver and 2016's Blood Moon made clear Langford's muse came along for the trip.
Tim Langford was born and raised in Spokane, Washington, and had an older cousin who introduced him to rock music, sharing such favorites as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Cream. After seeing ZZ Top in concert, Langford decided he wanted to be a musician, and at the age of 13, he started to learn the guitar. When Langford's guitar teacher told him that the cheap acoustic he was playing needed to be replaced, his mother bought him a Fender Stratocaster, and he started learning rock licks before he even had an amp. In high school, Langford traded the Strat for a Gibson ES-175 when he joined the school's jazz band, but after seeing Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, and Charlie Musselwhite play at a venue in Spokane, his interests turned to the blues. After spending some time with a rockabilly band called the Studebakers, in 1986 Langford formed Too Slim & the Taildraggers, with the group's name borrowed from a song by Howlin' Wolf. The group started as a quartet, with bassist Tom Brimm, drummer Bill Bancroft, and sax player Greg Pendleton, as they appeared on 1988's Swingin' in the Underworld. But by the time they cut 1990's Rock 'Em Dead, Langford had pared the group down to a trio, with Langford joined by bassist Brimm and drummer John "Midnight" Cage. While a long succession of bassists and drummers would work with Langford over the years, the trio format stuck, and eventually the band began winning a steady following. In 1995, the Spokane-based Inland Empire Blues Society named Too Slim & the Taildraggers the year's Best Blues Band, and they would win the same honor for the next three years. The same organization would give the group album of the year honors twice, for 1995's Swamp Opera and 1997's Blues for EB. Another Northwest blues society, the Cascade Blues Association also named the Taildraggers "Best Regional Band" in 1995, and they would hold the honor for five straight years.
With the studio albums like King Size Troublemakers (2000) and Tales of Sin and Redemption (2003), word continued to spread about the Taildraggers, and the trio enjoyed a breakthrough with 2007's The Fortune Teller, which was their first album to make the national Blues Album charts, peaking at number nine. (The group also released several live discs during this period, including 2002's Goin' Public, 2005's Beer & Barbeque Chips, and 2007's Time to Live.) 2005's Free Your Mind was an even greater success, hitting number seven on the same chart, and by this time Langford and his sidemen were regularly touring abroad as well in North America, finding especially strong fan bases in Belgium and Norway. After the release of Shiver in 2011, Too Slim & the Taildraggers decided they needed a new base of operations, and relocated to Nashville, Tennessee. Their next recording project after the move, 2013's Blue Heart, rose to number three on the Blues Albums chart, and made it to number 37 on the Heatseekers charts, which primarily focuses on acts on the rise. In late 2014, Langford's life and career took an unexpected detour when he was diagnosed with cancer. While undergoing treatment, he began writing material that reflected his blue mood as he struggled with the disease, and those songs formed the basis of 2016's Blood Moon, which once again placed high in the Blues charts, rising to number six. A healthier and more upbeat Too Slim soon returned to the studio with the Taildraggers to cut 2018's High Desert Heat, which hit number four on the Blues charts and included a revved-up cover of the Chambers Brothers' "The Time Has Come Today." ~ Mark Deming