Monday, October 8, 2012

Hall of Fame Nominee--The Paul Butterfield Blues Band

     Paul Butterfield was born and raised in Chicago and grew up studying classical flute, but discovered blues harmonica and the blues. Paul and fellow student Elvin Bishop (guitar) began hanging around the blues houses in the city, rubbing elbows with greats like Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. By 1963, they had teamed with Jerome Arnold (bass) and Sam Lay (drums) to form the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.
     The were signed to Electra records in 1965 which also was the year of their first release. By this time they added Mike Bloomfield as a second guitarist and Mark Naftalin on the organ. It was a great album, showing the band learning the lessons taught by the Chicago masters earlier that decade. It was the 1966 release however, "East-West" that broke ground in the blues that are still being learned. It was a jazzier album, but it was the influence of Indian raga that not only set it apart, but pointed the way for a new direction for the blues.
     Their next album, "The Resurrection of Pigboy Crabshaw" (1967) lost Bloomfield, but added larger ensemble including horns (including a young David Sanborn on Alto Sax) and continued into a jazzier sound. Three more albums would come, and band members shuffling in and out before Butterfield broke the band up in 1971. The group had taken their blues base and explored eastern music, psychedelic, jazz, and soul in their 6 years together. The band also found themselves at the crossroads of the major events of the 60's musically. In 65' the several members were included in Bob Dylan's backing band at the Newport Folk Festival where the folk community had been shocked by the performance being done electric. They also were on the bill at Monterrey and at Woodstock.



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