Horn From The Heart: The Paul Butterfield Story

An interesting documentary streaming on Amazon Prime.
Yes...thank you, @mtbrider.

Paul Butterfield's blues band - the "first" electric band to back Dylan live.

PB doesn't seem get enough love 'round these here parts.  


I had a self-imposed rule of not buying any of the current Woodstock' bands 50th releases on vinyl but the Paul Butterfield set being released on RunOutGroove has me questioning that?
Hmm...might have to look for more info about that one @slaw .

Vinyl only or CD too?
@ghosthouse ,

RunOutGroove only releases albums never before released on vinyl, on vinyl.

While bands like The Yardbirds, Cream, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, John Mayall, and finally Led Zeppelin (except for Hendrix himself, all British fellas) are given credit for the "Blues revival of the late-60’s", it was actually The Paul Butterfield Blues Band (along with Charlie Musselwhite) who did so.

A Butterfield song was included on the 1966 Elektra Records sampler album entitled What’s Shakin’, and every good musician I knew had his head blown off by Paul and his band (which included Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop on guitars, and drummer Sam Lay and bassist Jerome Arnold, hired away from Howlin’ Wolf!), after which we all bought Butterfield’s 1965 debut album.

When Sonny Boy Williamson met and jammed with The Hawks (later known as The Band, of course) in 1965, he had just returned from a UK tour. For that tour, the promoter provided Williamson with local backup bands, one of which was The Yardbirds (of which Eric Clapton was at that time still a member). Sonny Boy told The Hawks: "They (the English musicians) want to play the Blues SO bad. And that’s just how they play them." ;-) But it isn't just English guys who can be faulted: for a great example of how NOT to play Blues, watch the Canned Heat's performance at Woodstock. Dreadful! If you're a glutton for punishment, follow that with Ten Years After's set. Oy!  

Just for the record, it was not the entire Butterfield Band who backed Dylan at Newport, only Bloomfield and drummer Sam Lay. The bassist was Harvey Brooks, later in The Electric Flag with Bloomfield, keyboardist Mark Naftalin (another Bloomfield band member), and the mighty Buddy Miles.

thanks, I saw Paul B. live a handful of times....one of my all time favorites and who I "tried" to emulate when playing blues harp

@tuberist, if you want to discover a really, really good though relatively unknown (outside of Northern California) harp player, look for a copy of Up The Line by The Gary Smith Blues Band. His tone is insane, as good as I've ever heard, which is based on Little Walter and Musselwhite, with whom Gary studied.

Gary is a well-known fixture in the Bay Area Blues scene, and always has a great band backing him. I played with him briefly, right after he switched from drums to harp. He's a monster, and Up The Line is a very good pure Blues album.

For the record, Naftalin was another PBBB member (played on the first 5 PBBB albums according to Wiki) though actually joining in Sept, a few weeks after the July 1965 show(s) in Newport .  Maybe more important than how much of Butterfield's band backed Dylan was the fact that the band's high energy, knock-out, "folkie-shocking" performance was witnessed by Dylan and (as per the NPR piece linked above) served as the inspiration for him deciding to perform electric later at the same Newport festival (he already was electric in the studio).  If you'll pardon the hyperbole, one might argue PBBB was the catalyst that created "Judas" but maybe only sooner rather than later, since based on his studio work Dylan seems to have already begun that transformation.  

All good points @ghosthouse. The purist Folkies didn't know it, but in High School Dylan played in a Rock 'n' Roll band, doing Little Richard type material. He had ambitions far beyond Folk music itself, using the genre as his launching pad due to it's current cultural significance.

When Dylan spent all of 1967 tutoring The Hawks on American music (which they already had a good working knowledge of) in the Big Pink house basement, he displayed his vast familiarity with music in ALL genres.

@tomic601, the Gary Smith Blues Band album came out on Messaround Records in '91, and can be found on Amazon. Well worth looking for, trust me! 

Cool @slaw, but I have to warn you, the album was never available on LP. Don't let that stop you from getting it! CD's aren't THAT bad. ;-)
I got religion when I heard The eponymous PBBB and read Pete Welding’s notes, then checking out Little Walter, James Cotton, Junior Wells, etc.  Went to Gerde’s Folk City and bought my first of many harps. While there I found What’s Shakin’ and the Beano Bluesbreakers album. 50+ years later, this is still the music echoing in my mind from the Wee Wee Hours until Blue Midnight. 

I hear ya @crustycool. One of my High School bands played "The Stumble", learning it off John Mayall’s 2nd album, with Peter Green taking Clapton’s place on guitar (Fleetwood Mac’s John McVie was at the time Mayall’s bass player). We hadn’t yet learned it was a Freddie King song. I never managed to see Freddie live, but I did Albert, who was fanf*ckingtastic!

Speaking of Little Walter, he’s still my Gold Standard, and Gary Smith’s as well. James Cotton lived and performed in the Bay Area for quite a while, drawn there by the healthy blues scene and audience. Musselwhite did too, but Butterfield moved to Woodstock, working with Levon Helm quite a bit.

Speakin of Peter Green, I just got his second solo lp after Fleetwood Mac on the Music on Vinyl label, “From the Skies”...played it once so far, never heard it before. It is great! 
Just watched the Butterfield movie and highly recommend it if that music is your cup of tea. Paul was a mega-talent IMO and performed during interesting times.

Peter Green’s first solo album (The End Of The Game) came out in late 1970 on Reprise Records (at that time the coolest label in the world, having an amazing roster of artists), and in spite of the album being only three long extended jam songs per LP side---music I usually don’t care for---I remember liking it quite a bit. I haven’t heard it in years, but iirc it is an album of purely instrumental music, no vocals or lyrics.

Have you heard what B.B. King said about Green? "He’s the only white guitarist who makes me sweat." I assume that’s a compliment. ;-)

Another guitarist story: Mike Bloomfield and The Band's Robbie Robertson had become acquainted through John Hammond Jr., with whom Bloomfield had been working. Robbie was invited to a JHJ recording session in NYC, and upon arriving went out into the studio and strapped on his Telecaster as Bloomfield strapped on his Les Paul Jr. Robbie began playing along with Hammond, and after hearing Robbie play, Mike took off his guitar and switched to piano. ;-)

Hammond ended up hearing Robertson and the entire Hawks band live, and hired them for some gigs. His manager was Albert Grossman, also Dylan's manager. Grossman's secretary heard The Hawks backing Hammond on a live gig, and told Dylan he HAD to hear this band. Shortly thereafter Bob did, and hired The Hawks right out from under Hammond! 

@mtbrider, I watched Horn from the Heart last night. Very good. Thank you for the heads up. 
Yes, very good.  Thanks!

One of the seldom mentioned factoids about Butterfield is that his band served as an important “training ground” for a saxophone player who would go on to become the most emulated Rock and Pop saxophone stylist of the last several decades.  A very young Dave Sanborn was in Butterfield’s band’s horn section for several years and developed a style that owes a whole lot to Butterfield’s own style on harp.  Easy to hear and understand once the connection is made.  Sanborn would go on to become a star and one the most emulated alto saxophone players in recent years.  Ironically, that gritty and soulful style of saxophone playing would be bastardized and became, in a caricaturish kind of way, one of the defining sounds of a lot of the dreck that is “Smooth Jazz”; but that’s another story.

Thanks for bringing up Mr. Sanborn, he's a great player.  Here's a link to a television music show that Sanborn hosted.  Check out the house band -- Marcus Miller, Robben Ford, etc.  Sanborn would frequently play with various guest artist.  I believe it was John Lurie who told a story about appearing on the show and being wary of Sanborn.  He only thought of Sanborn as the smooth jazz guy.  He immediately realized his mistake and characterized Sanborn as one the most open, friendly and generous musicians he had ever worked with.  Sanborn would play with anybody and his genius is that he could play with anybody.

Here's a clip from the show.  Notice how Sanborn knows when not to play.

Ah @onhwy61, when not to play. Related is the axiom of "The notes you don't play are as important as those you do." I've seen that quote attributed to Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Miles Davis. Whomever said it first, I'm sure they are concurred with the sentiment.

Sanborn had his own TV show for a while, one night having NRBQ as a guest. He introduced them as "The best Rock 'n' Roll band in the world", a sentiment shared by quite a few musicians I know. Drummer Tom Ardolino died a while back, bassist Joey Spampinato (Keith Richards' favorite, invited to replace the departing Bill Wyman in The Stones but electing to stay in NRBQ!) is quite sick and no longer playing, guitarist Al Anderson left the band to focus on songwriting, relocating to Nashville. That leaves only keyboardist Terry Adams, who now has three new members helping him keep the band alive.