In a town that loves singer/songwriters, Livingston Taylor should feel at home. Having visited and played in Key West multiple times in his five-decade career, he’s happy to be returning to the Key West Theater Nov. 16. Taylor is a part of the Taylor music dynasty, including brother James, Hugh, Alex and Kate and also ex-in-law Carly Simon, that has ruled a genre of soulful folk music crafted over decades of experience. Still going strong, Taylor will liven up the stage and our sentimental hearts for one night only.
With his 16th album, “Safe Home,” released last year, Taylor is the essence of quality and craft when it comes to music making. “I like to surprise people with an incredible range of things,” said Taylor, who has been known to cover classics from Paul McCartney, the Everly Brothers and Rodgers and Hammerstein to yes, even his brother James’s music.
“I let the music drift into interesting places,” said Taylor about his off the cuff concerts. His career started back in the ’60s by opening for greats like Joni Mitchell and Linda Ronstadt which led to his own Top-40 hits in the 70s that include “I Will Be in Love with You” and “I’ll Come Running,” to “I Can Dream of You” and “Boatman.” Taylor is proud that he has been making a living as a musician since he was 16 years old, having learned the guitar at 13.
“I am a bit of a contrarian and tend to mix it up,” said Taylor. His day job is at the Berklee College of Music in Boston for the past 28 years; he says his students describe him as quirky and enthusiastic. “I bring that to the stage so we can have a good time together. The music allows me to be in the presence of my audience and when I am not around them, I miss them.” Some of his more famous students have included Gavin DeGraw, John Mayer, Charlie Puth, and blues singer-guitarist Susan Tedeschi.
As a professor, Taylor is outspoken about music today and keeping his students away from influences like social media and machines when it comes to making music. “It’s a problem for kids today not to craft something without the help of a machine and then if they get a few likes on social media, they think it’s good,” says the wise old musician. Last year, the documentary “Life is Good” was released about Taylor’s epic career and the bits of wisdom he shares with his students.
“A vision requires real skill and craft,” said Taylor, who has proved it with his music and then some.
Key West Theater
Nov. 16, 8 p.m.