James Michael Taylor came to my attention at an open mic night 20 years ago, and his lyrics blew me away. I liked his maverick nature, too. (Rather than dodge the draft during the Vietnam War, Taylor went to basic training but refused to participate and was incarcerated at Leavenworth Prison.) Taylor is well read and intelligent, and his knowledge spills out in the most creative ways musically. He’s an odd duck, but I like offbeat characters. Before I knew him, Taylor was frontman for Texas Water, a popular trio that included his ex-wife Barbara on bass and his then-wife Peggy on guitar. After that group disbanded, Taylor began churning out solo albums at his home studio. I listened to quite a few and became a fan. In 2005, I asked Taylor to produce my first solo album (Hey Love!), which was a lot of fun to make. In 2010, I began teaching guitar lessons on Wednesday afternoons at an after-school program, and the classes ended just as rush-hour traffic began. Taylor lived across the street from the school, and I asked if I could come over and co-write music with him until traffic died down. I figured I could learn plenty from him, and I did. Bassist John Murphy lived nearby and started attending our sessions, and by 2012 the three of us had recorded enough songs for an album. We called ourselves Fontanelle and released ONE. Reviewer Matthew McGowan described the album as “brim with quirk and often deep – almost alarming – sadness.” We had just begun working on a second batch of songs when Murphy disappeared without a word. I did his bass parts, and Taylor and I renamed the band Ghost of John Murphy. I’m biased, but the resulting album — Voices — is freaking awesome. Local writer/musician Carey Wolff described it as “wild,” “haunting,” “heartbreakingly beautiful,” “vulnerable,” and “exceedingly well crafted” and said it “tries to worm its way into your mind, seeking out the tuning knob to the subconscious.” Ghost of John Murphy created two more albums before taking a break in 2015. Ever since I’ve known Taylor, he’s been an advocate for the hornytoad. He decorates his house with hornytoad novelties and hands out hornytoad hatpins to people he likes. Recently, I called Taylor to suggest we end our five-year sabbatical and co-write a song about hornytoads for Toast & Jam. Thank you, Taylor, for being a Texas original, badass songwriter, unapologetic eccentric, and a friend to me and hornytoads everywhere. — Jeff Prince