Hiss Golden Messenger’s Folksy Concert at Gramps, Miami

The relaxed, down-to-earth tones of Hiss Golden Messenger may lead one to assume a strong correlation with acoustic folk legends like Neil Young. However, the band’s founder, M.C. Taylor, asserts a surprising influence – early hip-hop.”Despite my music not sharing audible similarities, it’s the rhythm of that genre that inspires me,” reveals Taylor during an interview with New Times. He names music icons Eric B. & Rakim, Brand Nubians, and Public Enemy as key influencers. Taylor’s childhood was surrounded by music, often hearing his father play the guitar and sing at home. The young Taylor took up the guitar at 13, learning a few chords from his father before embarking on a self-taught journey. A love for literature and poetry guided Taylor’s songwriting, his passion for words taking precedence over melodies.

Taylor played in multiple punk bands before finding stable footing in the indie-rock band, the Court & Spark. Following the group’s disbandment in 2007, Taylor recognized his yearning for independent creation.”I enjoy the romanticism of bands, but I prefer a non-democratic music-making process. I wanted something of my own, where I could take on the boss’s role,” he said.

Shifting his base to North Carolina, Taylor launched Hiss Royal Messenger in 2007. His goal was to compose songs that pay homage to the craft of American roots music while simultaneously extending to diverse genres. “The essence of Hiss is to create raw, vulnerable music. The moments I achieve that, it feels extraordinary,” declares Taylor.

Taylor’s song creation technique for Hiss Golden Messenger, which boasts 15 albums under its belt, is an organically evolving process. Scribbling in a notebook with an instrument by his side, Taylor immerses himself in unfamiliar locales, indulging in books and music while staying open to influence from surrounding artists. Taylor isolates the kernel of the song, recording a prototype by himself before involving others to refine it. The latest album, Jump for Joy, focusing on the concept of joy, released in August.

Performing with his quartet at Gramps, Miami, on Thursday, February 29, this marks Hiss Golden Messenger’s debut in South Florida since performing alongside Mumford & Sons at the then-known American Airlines Arena in 2017. “Be prepared for melodic tunes, improvisations, and a fantastic band,” Taylor anticipates.

In addition to touring, 2024 holds manifold opportunities for Taylor. “I’ll be exploring a medley of initiatives, music-related or otherwise. I enjoy painting, writing, and harbor aspirations of penning a book or two, even a collection of poems,” said Taylor.
Hiss Golden Messenger. With Color Green. 8 p.m. Thursday, February 29, at Gramps 176 NW 24th St., Miami; Tickets are available for $31 via