Singing cowboy has local roots
Jesse Taylor is authentically dressed in cowboy boots and a well-worn hat, the shine from his rodeo belt buckle paired with faded jeans that have graced many a saddle. With a genuine smile and clear eyes, the young Arlington man isn’t pretending to be a cowboy. He lives the life, and he sings about his experiences and observations with an equally authentic tone.
Taylor grew up in Arlington, the son of a rodeo team roper and musician, and graduated from Arlington High School in 2005. His father, Jody Taylor, introduced Jesse to the rodeo lifestyle along with the tradition of singing around the campfire. Jesse began roping when he was 3, and picked up the guitar at age 4. The first song he learned to play was George Strait’s “Amarillo by Morning.”
When he was 16, Jesse Taylor began writing his own songs and a few years later he recorded his first CD, “One Chance to Win,” in his mother’s kitchen. His influences included Strait and the quintessential rodeo singer, Chris Ledoux.
“In 2009 my life took a big turn due to some random events,” said Taylor. “I got laid off my job, but I had the CD so I packed up my truck and just took off, playing gigs along the way. I was playing this Montana dive bar—I had two CDs left, so I was hoping to sell them for gas money to get home—and a woman asked for my contact information.”
It turned out that the woman’s husband ran a trail ride business in Hawaii, on the small island of Lana’I, and Jesse was soon making his way to paradise to work as a “singing cowboy.”
“The island is small, only about 3,000 people live there, but they have an international tourist trade,” said Taylor. “I’d lead trail rides, sing two or three songs.”
Celebrities vacationing on the quiet island were sometimes his trail ride customers, including Patrick Dempsey and William Shatner.
In the evenings Taylor would often perform at the Four Seasons Lodge at Ko’ele, and it was there that he met his girlfriend Lindsey, the front desk manager whose home was in Buffalo, New York. Another twist of fate, perhaps.
The resort was also where Taylor caught the attention of U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Troy M. Shoemaker, commander of Carrier Strike Group 3 stationed in the Arabian Gulf. The admiral invited Taylor to Dubai in March to entertain the sailors during a scheduled port visit.
Taylor has returned to his Snohomish County roots with a newly-released Nashville-produced CD under his belt, “Out Here in the Country,” and with his band the Rainy Day Devils—several of whom are also AHS graduates--he’s managing a busy performance schedule.
He has several performances booked in Ellensburg and Winthrop, and he’ll also play shows at Edgar’s Sports Grill in Stanwood on June 1. On August 10 Taylor has a show at the Tulalip Casino, and the following day, August 11, he’ll be at the Stillaguamish Festival of the River.
“June, July and August are a cowboy’s Christmas,” said Taylor with a smile. “That’s rodeo season, and I follow the rodeo.”