By Douglas W. Motley
“I do it for the love of music,” exclaimed Crestline musician and record store owner Steven Taylor during an exclusive interview with The Alpine Mountaineer. Taylor, who owns and operates Mystic Mountain Records, located adjacent to California Bank and Trust on Lake Drive, is also a professional musician and recording artist.
Most recently, on Saturday, July 16, Taylor’s band, TCB, performed on the outdoor stage at The Stockade Grub & Whiskey restaurant in Crestline and put in a solo appearance last Friday at Crestline’s Friday Market Night on the south shore of Lake Gregory. He also performs solo, with his guitar and keyboard, on Thursday nights at Lake Arrowhead Resort’s Bin 189 restaurant and at the Lakefront Tap Room in Lake Arrowhead Village on Friday evenings.
TCB bandmates include John Button on bass and Kyle Crane on drums, with other local musicians such as guitarist Ty Lasher and vocalist April Sweeney participating from time to time.
Influenced by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Nick Drake and Joni Mitchell, Taylor has played as a singer, keyboardist and guitarist with an incredibly diverse range of collaborators, including members of The Grateful Dead, Guns N’ Roses, The Edward Hawkins Singers and Deathcab for Cutie. He describes his musical style as “cinematic, impressionistic psych folk with rich vocal harmonies, inspired by progressive rock, Laurel Canyon folk and Brill Building classics.”
Taylor declined to give his exact age – “Let’s just say I’m thirtyish.” He grew up in Sacramento where, at age 7, his parents bought him a nylon string guitar and he began taking lessons. “I was always drawn to music and worked hard on it,” he said, adding that he taught himself to play the piano and electronic keyboard.
Taylor has toured extensively throughout California and Texas, including West Hollywood’s Troubadour, Hollywood’s El Rey Theater, Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown near Yucca Valley, The Chive and The Westin, both in San Antonio, The Echo and The Hotel Café in L.A., The Fillmore in San Francisco, Phil Lesh’s (Grateful Dead guitarist) Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael and The Hope and Anchor in London.
Asked what inspired him to open a record store, Taylor responded, “I wanted to get more music and culture happening here in the mountains. Mystic Mountain Music harkens back to the 60s and 70s when vinyl record outlets were the primary source for recorded music. Nowadays, they are few and far between, following the advent of compact discs, which were the major source of recorded music throughout the 70s, 80s, 90s and early 2000s.”
“Steve Taylor’s dreamy, folky, solo songs,” according to iTunes, “recall a long-lost time, resonate with sun-flared AM radio gold of the early 70s as vintage tones warble from an old Wurlitzer while acoustic six-strings intertwine with the watery notes of a lazy electric slide guitar under Taylor crooning like a young Graham Nash.”
Mystic Mountain Music, which is open on weekends and occasional weekdays, is well stocked with every major genre of music, ranging from jazz, oldies, folk music and classic rock to alternative, indie, electronic, soul, R&B, showtunes and funk. He also stocks some CDs, as well as music industry posters and phonograph accessories, all at very reasonable prices. Taylor also stocks copies of his own original recordings, “The Land of Milk and Honey,” “Sitting” and “Waiting on a Friend, “which are available on both vinyl and CD format.
His proudest moment, Taylor said, “was when I got a five-star rating from Yelp.” Then he added, “I’m stoked to see people coming into my record store and getting excited about music, and it’s great to see young people excited about records.”
Coming up on Saturday, Aug. 6, TCB with Steven Taylor will be performing, from 3 to 8 p.m., at Crestline’s Corks & Hops wine and beer walk on the main stage in the Arrowhead Credit Union parking lot. Then, on Sunday, Aug. 7, he will be at The Stockade, opening for Mohama Saz, a Mediterranean psych rock ensemble, who are on tour from Spain. Admission is free.
“I believe in the power of music,” Taylor said. “It is a healing force and a celebratory force.”