Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Although much ink and passion has been spilled over English white boys playing the blues in the Sixties (from senior statesman John Mayall through Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Jeff Beck, Mick Taylor to the Rolling Stones etc), that rather ignores the fact white Americans (and mixed race groups) were also discovering and playing this music, albeit recording it just a little later.
The difference might be that American groups like the Paul Butterfield Blues Band out of Chicago didn't ride a wave of indigenous pop music to take them to wider recognition.
But the Butterfield Band -- lead by singer/harmonic aplayer Butterfield who died in '87 -- had a mainline into the tough sound of the windy city, and in their ranks boasted the great guitarist Mike Bloomfield (who, along with Band members drummer Sam Lay and bassist Jerome Arnold played with newly-electric Dylan at Newport in '65) and rhythm player Elvin Bishop (who later took over lead then launched his own successful band).
They later had saxophonist David Sanborn (joining for their third album Ressurection of Pigboy Crabshaw in '67) who went on to a hugely successful jazz career, as did guitarist/keyboard player Buzz Feiten (later of the Rascals and a lengthy sessionman career) who came in for the fifth album Keep on Moving in '69.
The Butterfield Band covered blues classics (Shake Your Money Maker, Blues with a Feeling, Mojo Working, Mellow Down Easy and Mystery Train were all on their self-titled debut album) but the various band members also contributed originals in the style, sometimes with a jazz-improv twist.
Although these days their albums like East West ('66) and In My Own Dream ('68) aren't spoken of in the same breath as anything by Mayall or Clapton in this period, the band carved out a distinctive path -- they played both Monterey and Woodstock -- and were in many ways the forefathers to people like George Thorogood.