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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!


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Showing posts with label Mike Bloomfield. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mike Bloomfield. Show all posts

Monday, July 21, 2014

Audio Fidelity To Release 5.1 Multichannel Hybrid SACD of Mike Bloomfield - Al Kooper - Steve Stills 'Super Session' Mixed By Legendary Al Kooper!


Audio Fidelity To Release 5.1 Multichannel Hybrid SACD of Mike Bloomfield - Al Kooper - Steve Stills 'Super Session' Album Mixed By Legendary Al Kooper!

"...one of those albums that seems to get better with age...a super session indeed!"

Camarillo, CA – Marshall Blonstein's Audio Fidelity will be releasing a limited numbered edition 5.1 Multichannel Hybrid SACD of the legendary Mike Bloomfield - Al Kooper - Steve Stills 'Super Session' album! Al Kooper was an A&R executive with Columbia Records in the early 1960's after leaving the group Blood, Sweat & Tears. The Super Session album was conceived as a jam session with Kooper on keyboards and former Paul Butterfield Blues Band member Mike Bloomfield on lead guitar along with veteran studio musician and Wrecking Crew member "Fast" Eddie Hoh on drums and Barry Goldberg, also on keyboards. Bloomfield was available during the first day of recording for Side 1 of the LP (tracks 1-5). For the second day of recording, Kooper brought in former Buffalo Springfield guitarist Steven Stills to perform on the music that became Side 2 of the LP (tracks 6-9). Recorded on a shoestring budget over a 2-day period in Los Angeles, Super Session went on to become a rock classic and earned the trio a gold record for sales of over one million copies.

"I always wanted to mix this in 5.1. I finished it in 2006, and it's been sitting there until Audio Fidelity released it from captivity. It's the first album I ever mixed in 5.1 I hope everyone enjoys it. Surround Sound allows the listener to get up close to each musician and hear details you can't hear in stereo. Hope ya like details - I DO!" - Al Kooper

The package includes new liner notes written by Al Kooper that tells the story of the Super Session album and the new 5.1 Multichannel mix. The 5.1 mix by Al Kooper with mastering by Bob Ludwig was never released and yet it has acquired some fame from industry insiders familiar with the Multichannel mix with comments like "excellent" and "it deserves to be heard." The new mastering of the Stereo layer of tracks for new SACD Stereo and CD Stereo audio are by mastering engineer Steve Hoffman.

"...some truly spectacular, not to mention, historical rock'n'roll moments."

Tracks:
1. Albert's Shuffle
2. Stop
3. Man's Temptation
4. His Holy Modal Majesty
5. Really
6. It Takes A Lot to Laugh, It Takes A Train to Cry
7. Season of the Witch
8. You Don't Love Me
9. Harvey's Tune

Produced by Al Kooper
Stereo CD and SACD mastering: Steve Hoffman at Stephen Marsh Mastering
Multichannel SACD 5.1 mix: Al Kooper
Multichannel SACD 5.1 mastering: Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering Studios

Al Kooper official website: http://alkooper.com/

Press inquiries: Glass Onyon PR, PH: 828-350-8158, glassonyonpr@gmail.com

The 2-Channel CD Stereo can be played on all standard CD players. The SACD Stereo requires a SACD player. SACD Surround Sound requires a Multichannel SACD player and system.

Monday, January 20, 2014

New Mike Bloomfield Multi-Disc Retrospective

Mark Pucci Media             



I was privileged to hear an advance of the wonderful new 3 CD/1 DVD Michael Bloomfield set, "From His Head to His Heart to His Hands," coming out Feb. 4 from Sony/Legacy Recordings. Lovingly produced by Mike's longtime friend & cohort, Al Kooper, this new set is a treasure trove of all the great Bloomfield music we remember, and a lot we've never heard before, including his "audition" for then-Columbia Records A&R head John Hammond Sr., plus many previously unreleased cuts, including a live track from the 1980 Bob Dylan concert in San Francisco. In between, there's all the great music Bloomfield gave us on his solo albums, with the Butterfield Blues Band, Electric Flag, Super Sessions & tracks with Muddy Waters, Janis Joplin, etc. The DVD gives great insight into what made Bloomfield tick, and why he was so special. I got a chance to see/hear him play live twice: in 1968 at the Fillmore East in NYC with the "Flag;" and in the late '70s at the Great Southeast Music Hall in Atlanta with one of his later bands. Back in the late '60s/early '70s there were three kings of the guitar: Hendrix, Clapton & Bloomfield. This retrospective brings that greatness home. I have no stake in this project, but as a huge fan, take it from me: this is one album you need to have.


Friday, November 30, 2012

Robert Nighthawk interviewed by Mike Bloomfield

Robert Lee McCollum (30 November 1909–5 November 1967) was an American bluesman who played and recorded under the names Robert Lee McCoy and Robert Nighthawk. Born in Helena, Arkansas, he left home at an early age to become a busking musician, and after a period wandering through southern Mississippi settled for a time in Memphis, Tennessee. There he played with local orchestras and musicians, such as the Memphis Jug Band. A particular influence was Houston Stackhouse, from whom he learnt to play slide guitar, and with whom he appeared on the radio in Jackson, Mississippi. After further travels through Mississippi, he found it advisable to take his mother’s name, and as Robert Lee McCoy he moved to St. Louis, Missouri. Local musicians with whom he played included Henry Townsend, Big Joe Williams, and Sonny Boy Williamson. This led to two recording dates in 1937, the four musicians recording together at the Victor Records studio in Aurora, Illinois, as well as recordings under his own name, including “Prowling Night-Hawk” (recorded 5 May 1937), from which he was take his later pseudonym. These sessions led to Chicago careers for the other musicians, but not for McCoy, who simply continued his rambling life, playing and recording (for Victor/Bluebird and Decca) solo and with various musicians, under various names. He also became a familiar voice on local radio stations. Then Robert Lee McCoy disappeared. Within a few years he reappeared as the electric slide-guitarist Robert Nighthawk, and began recording for Chess Records. This was also Muddy Waters’ label; the two men’s styles were close enough that they were in competition for promotional activity — and as Waters was the more saleable commodity, being more reliable and a more confident stage communicator, he received the attention. Though Nighthawk continued to perform and to record, he failed to achieve any great commercial success. In 1963, some ten years later, Nighthawk was discovered busking in Chicago, and this led to further recording sessions and club dates, and to his return to Arkansas, where he appeared on the King Biscuit Time radio programme. He had a stroke, followed by a heart attack, and died at his home in Helena. Recordings Robert Nighthawk: Prowling with the Nighthawk (Document) — twenty-six sides (1937–1952) recorded for Bluebird, Decca, Aristocrat, and United. Ramblin’ Bob (Saga) — twenty-four sides (1937–1952) recorded for Victor, Decca, Chess, and United. If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, ”LIKE” ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorite band!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Newport - Paul Butterfield Blues Band


Paul Butterfield (17 December 1942 – 4 May 1987) was an American blues vocalist and harmonica player, who founded the Paul Butterfield Blues Band in the early 1960s and performed at the original Woodstock Festival. He died of drug-related heart failure.
The son of a lawyer, Paul Butterfield was born in Chicago, Illinois and raised in the city's Hyde Park neighborhood. He attended the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, a private school associated with the University of Chicago. After studying classical flute with Walfrid Kujala of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as a teenager, he developed a love for the blues harmonica, and hooked up with white, blues-loving, University of Chicago physics student Elvin Bishop. The pair started hanging around black blues musicians such as Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter and Otis Rush. Butterfield and Bishop soon formed a band with Jerome Arnold and Sam Lay, both hired away from the touring band of Howlin' Wolf. In 1963, the racially mixed quartet was made the house band at Big John's, a folk club in the Old Town district on Chicago's north side. Butterfield was still underage (as was guitarist Mike Bloomfield.)
Paul Butterfield died of peritonitis due to drug use and heavy drinking on May 4, 1987 Los Angeles, California. Before then, Butterfield tenor sax player Ruben Riera had taken him to Bellevue Hospital in New York City for emergency surgery for perforated intestine. He died at his home in North Hollywood, California. A month earlier, he was featured on B.B. King & Friends, a filmed concert that also included Albert King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Etta James, Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan and Eric Clapton. Its subsequent release was dedicated to Butterfield in memoriam.

In 2005, the Paul Butterfield Fund and Society was founded. It petitions for Butterfield's inclusion in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mike Bloomfields Guitars Part II

Michael Bloomfield's Guitars
A Brief History
Page 2

The guitar most associated with Michael Bloomfield is a 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard. With it, Bloomfield recorded his most successful records and developed his trademark "fat" tone. Photo illustration by D. Rowling

1967-69

The Legendary '59

Michael had heard guitarist Eric Clapton's work with Powerhouse, the Yardbirds and with John Mayall, and was eager to meet the British guitarist when the Butterfield Band arrived in London at the end of October 1966. He was particularly taken with Eric's sound on Mayall's "Bluesbreakers" LP, a record which had just been released that July. Clapton had recorded it with a newly-purchased Gibson Les Paul Standard, a model that Gibson had discontinued in 1960 because of poor sales. It differed from the more common Goldtop and Custom models in that it had been given the more traditional orange-and-brown color scheme – a look that became known as the "Sunburst."

Michael knew that model Les Paul well because John Sebastian of the Loving Spoonful had one and Bloomfield had frequently played it when the Butterfield Band was in New York in 1965. The Spoonful used rehearsal space at the Albert Hotel and Butterfield and company roomed there when they were in town, so the two musicians saw each other frequently. Sebastian was also a close friend of producer Paul Rothchild's and was often in the studio at Elektra when Butterfield was recording. So Bloomfield had ample opportunity to try the Sunburst and he very much wanted one for himself.

While in England, Michael recruited guitarist Albert Lee's aid in locating a Sunburst like those that Sebastian and Clapton had. Lee was playing with Chris Farlowe's band, the group that headed the tour that the Butterfield Band was part of for the first two weeks of its four-week stay. Lee knew someone who might be willing to sell his Sunburst to Michael, but he unfortunately couldn't locate him before Bloomfield's departure on November 20.

It's interesting to note that the Butterfield Band's equipment was delayed in arriving in London at the start of their tour, and both Michael and Elvin Bishop were given Gibson SGs to use for their first few weeks of performances. Reports are that they weren't very happy with the substitute equipment. Bishop later recalled wryly that they sold those instruments when their own equipment arrived because American instruments were difficult to get in England and fetched premium prices. In addition to his Goldtop, Michael later used a Gibson 355 while in London – a guitar that most likely belonged to Lee.

Back in the States, Michael continued to ask around for an available Sunburst. It may have been on a stopover in Detroit in late December that Bloomfield first encountered the Les Paul Standard that would eventually become his.

Dan Erlewine, a young guitarist from Ann Arbor, had befriended Bloomfield in 1965 when the Butterfield Band frequently performed in Detroit. He fell in love with Michael's Goldtop sound and eventually got a Les Paul of his own. He was using it with his group, the Prime Movers, in the winter of 1966 when the Butterfield Band came through the city. Michael was astonished to see that his young protégé was sporting a 1959 Les Paul – and that it was a Sunburst! He probably asked Dan to sell it to him, but Dan refused.

Michael called Erlewine again in the spring of 1967. By that time, he had left the Butterfield Blues Band and was starting his own group. Bloomfield pressed Dan again to sell him the Sunburst, and to sweeten the deal he offered cash and his Goldtop in trade. This time the answer was yes.

The Sunburst arrived via Railway Express in San Francisco, probably in late April 1967. To improve its tuning, Erlewine had installed Grover-brand tuners. But before shipping the guitar, he removed them and replaced them with the original Kluson machines because he had realized he'd put the Grovers on upside down. He probably included them in the shipment, with the advice that Michael have them reinstalled properly. It was a common belief at the time that Grovers were better at holding string tuning – and Bloomfield often had tuning issues – so in July or August 1967 Michael did have the high-end machines put back on the Sunburst.

Michael debuted his new guitar at the historic Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967, a debut for his new band, the Electric Flag, as well. The band's rocking performance of "Wine" – caught on film by D.A. Pennebaker – features Bloomfield's animated solo on the Sunburst, even though he had played part of the set on his '66 Telecaster.

In 1969, Michael composed and recorded the soundtrack for a second film, a movie called "Medium Cool" that was directed by his cousin, Haskell Wexler. One essay on the film reported that Bloomfield used a Gretsch guitar to create the music, though there is no other evidence that he ever owned or used one.

1970-74

The Early '70s

Bloomfield continued to play the Sunburst throughout the next seven years, using it to record the Flag's first release, "A Long Time Comin'," his jam album with Al Kooper called "Super Session," and many other recordings. In his 1971 interview with Michael Brooks he also said he had a Gibson SG, though there is no photographic evidence of this. His amplifier of choice during this period was most often a Fender Twin Reverb or Super Reverb, sometimes both. Occasionally he would use his old Fender Bassman from his early days in Chicago, and for large gigs – up until 1971 – Michael would plug into a heavy-duty Acoustic amp.

In 1972, Bloomfield began occasionally using the Telecaster onstage again. It would eventually become known as the "Blue Telecaster" after the daughter of a friend painted it for him during a visit to Chicago in June 1973.

The disappearance of Bloomfield's fabled '59 Les Paul Standard is the stuff of legend. Accounts vary from teller to teller, but the most likely scenario was recalled by Mark Naftalin. Michael had been hired by a Vancouver club for a week-long gig with Michael Bloomfield & Friends. Naftalin said in an interview for Wolkin & Keenom's "If You Love These Blues ..." that Bloomfield played the first few shows and then left, leaving one of his terse notes of apology behind. The club owner kept Michael's guitar as compensation for his losses, and Bloomfield did nothing to try to get it back. Mark could offer no reason for Michael's abrupt departure.

One scenario for the Les Paul's disappearance takes place in the winter of 1974. It's possible that Michael abandoned his prize instrument during a five-day run from November 12-16, 1974, at an upscale night club in Vancouver called The Cave. The venue was an odd choice for Bloomfield's loosely structured, blues-based repertoire (the performer who appeared the following week was Playboy Bunny Barbi Benton), and Michael may have been put off by the reception the band received from the Cave's patrons. He may also have wanted to see the PBS Soundstage tribute to Muddy Waters that he had recorded in Chicago in July; it was set to air the second week in November but was not being carried by Canadian television.

In an article in the June 2011 issue of Vintage Guitar, guitarist and researcher John Picard confirms that The Cave was indeed the club where Bloomfield ditched the '59 and the rest of his equipment. Club owner Steve Grozina kept the instrument when Michael quit, and a week later sold the Les Paul for $980 to Canadian guitarist Chris Okey. Okey used it in performance for several years before selling it to a Canadian collector. That person had much-needed repair work done on it and eventually sold it to a third party who reportedly brought it back to the United States.

Since that time the Sunburst's provenance is uncertain. A guitar collector reported having the opportunity to buy the Bloomfield Sunburst from the second owner in Toronto in 1980 for $4,000. He later regretted passing up the chance to acquire a formidable piece of American music history, but did confirm that the eventual purchaser brought the guitar back to the States. Some sources say a collector in Florida has it, while others claim a woman in Chicago now owns it.

The year of the '59's loss also remains in question. While 1974 seems the likely date, producer Toby Byron, who was living with Michael at the time, recalls that the '59 Sunburst was not gone until sometime after the fall of 1975. He can't say precisely when it disappeared, but he is certain Michael had it for much of 1975.

Whatever the date for the guitar's abandonment, after the winter of 1974-75 the '59 Sunburst was never to be seen again. And, interestingly enough, not only the Sunburst was lost when Michael failed to fulfill his gig contract, but the Blue Telecaster as well. Where that guitar is today is anyone's guess.

1975-81

The Later Years

In mid-'70s, Bloomfield occasionally used a hollow-body Gibson ES-355 – B.B. King's "Lucille" – for recording sessions and gigs. It's not known if he actually owned the guitar or if it was a loaner from a repair shop while his Tele or Sunburst were being worked on. He also bought a Fender Stratocaster in the mid-'70s, and began using that for his electric gigs almost exclusively after 1975. For some reason, Michael was dissatisfied with its finish and repainted it black himself using modeler's spray paint. The late bassist and author Dave Shorey told Bill Keenom that the Strat was actually a rare 12-string body combined with a standard neck. This was the guitar that Bloomfield used in 1976 and '77 when he frequently performed at the Old Waldorf in San Francisco. He also briefly used a Gibson Marauder, a double-cutaway model that Gibson gave him in 1976. He used one during a performance at McCabe's Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, CA, and at his appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival in New York. The Gibson company had contracted with Bloomfield around that time to have him endorse Epiphone guitars, and in exchange for his doing radio ads and symposiums for them, they gave him a number of Gibson instruments including the Marauder and a 1976 Gibson Les Paul Custom. Michael reportedly disliked the Custom and rarely if ever used it on gigs, even though he is pictured with it on the cover of the April 1979 edition of Guitar Player magazine.

Michael also returned to playing acoustically in later years and acquired an arsenal of older parlor guitars, banjoes, mandolins, a Kay f-hole archtop and even a Hilo Hawaiian guitar. These he played on a variety of small label record releases. In performance, he used a modified Western-style acoustic guitar with a cutaway that he had rigged up with a pickup held in place with electrical tape. He frequently paired that with a vintage Fender Tweed amp.

From 1979 until his death in 1981, Bloomfield often played solo – or in duet with guitarist Woody Harris – on acoustic guitar and piano. His repertoire tended toward traditional blues and ragtime tunes, and especially gospel pieces.

After Michael's untimely passing, some of his instruments were lost or went unaccounted for. Some sources credit Carlos Santana with purchasing the Les Paul Custom, and the black Stratocaster was sold privately in a Los Angeles music shop. Many of Michael's other guitars went to friends and relatives.


Thanks to Toby Byron, Jan Mark Wolkin, Bill Keenom, John Picard, Dan Erlewine, David Fletcher and Nick Nicolaisen for providing information for this article.



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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Michael Bloomfield's Guitars - A Brief History Part I • By David Dann


In the spring of 1967, Mike Bloomfield acquired a 1959 Les Paul Standard, a model produced by Gibson between 1958 and 1960 with distinctive "sunburst" orange-and-brown coloring. Discontinued by Gibson after 1960, the guitar became hugely popular once Bloomfield began using one. Photo illustration by D. Rowling

While many great guitar players were very particular – almost fastidious – about the instruments they played, Michael Bloomfield was different. He regarded his guitar as a tool, something that he could use to express himself, a means to an end. While he did favor certain makes and models over others, he was as likely to play a guitar found in a corner of a studio where he was recording as to use one of his more familiar instruments. He also had little regard for the care and maintenance of his increasingly valuable guitars, often schlepping his Les Paul or Telecaster to a gig without bothering to put it in its case. There are reports of Michael taking a bus to an evening's performance, his guitar in his lap with its cord dangling on the floor.

This casual attitude is inadvertently documented in the progression of photos taken of Michael over the years in various studios and onstage during innumerable gigs. In those images, one can trace the damages done and the repairs made, almost as though the Bloomfield guitars were living things whose health and well-being ebbed and flowed. Knobs went missing; they were replaced. Binding disappeared; it miraculously reappeared. Cracks at first were wrapped in electrical tape, and then were glued – maybe. Scratches and chips increased with every new performance. They culminated in the mysterious and oft-debated discoloration behind the tailstock of the '59 Les Paul, a growing scar that seemed to embody Michael's disregard for the condition of his "tools." And then there was the overall grime ...

In a discussion of Bloomfield's guitars, the amateur historian faces a challenge posed in large part by this attitude. What did Michael play when? Michael wasn't talking, or – when he did later in his career – the story wasn't always the same. And though in photos two guitars look nearly identical, do their minor differences mean that they're actually two distinct instruments? It can be maddeningly difficult to parse these traces in the historical record, so the reader is advised to peruse the chronology that follows with that in mind.

Michael, of course, would have thought an exercise like this wholly beside the point – it's the music that really matters. And he would be entirely right. That said, though, it is ironic that Bloomfield's music and artistry are largely responsible for the almost fanatical devotion to and speculation in certain makes of classic electric guitars.

There is postscript to the Bloomfield guitar story, however. The Michael Bloomfield Estate and Gibson Guitars have announced that a number of Michael Bloomfield 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard Signature Model Sunbursts is now available through Gibson Custom products. The guitar prototype was shown at the 2009 NAMM show in January to great acclaim. It has Michael's guitar's characteristic defects – the mismatched knobs, the famed tailbar scratch – and will be available in a very limited edition. Visit the official Mike Bloomfield site for more information.


1954-60

The Early Days

Michael Bloomfield began playing guitar at age 12 or 13, probably on a parlor-model Harmony acoustic, after seeing the resonator guitar that his cousin, Charles Bloomfield, had been given. He studied briefly with his mother's hairdresser, Tony Carmen, where he learned the rudiments of technique playing show tunes and standards. Carmen had a black Les Paul, an early edition of that guitar called the "Fretless Wonder," that he occasionally let Michael use.

Sometime later, probably around 1956 or '57, Michael acquired an electric guitar. It's likely that it came from Uncle Max's, his grandfather's pawn shop on Clark Street on Chicago's near North Side, where later Michael worked on weekends. The make and model of this instrument (or instruments) is not known, but Bloomfield used it to perform with his own little band playing rock 'n' roll around his North Shore neighborhood, and later with rockabilly artist Hayden Thompson in nearby Highwood, IL.

The blues had become central in Bloomfield's musical life by the late '50s, and by 1960 he was a frequent guest performer at many Southside Chicago blues venues. He would bring his electric guitar and amp and sit in with greats like Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Sunnyland Slim and many others.

Michael also occasionally played at impromptu twist parties held at the University of Chicago. At one such gathering, he met future Butterfield Band keyboardist, Mark Naftalin. Naftalin later recalled that he sold a small Harmony electric guitar and attache-case style amplifier to a friend who in turn sold it to Bloomfield, probably in 1963.

1961-64

Going Acoustic

In the early 1960s, folk music was becoming popular on college campuses and in urban clubs around the country. One of the first "folk scenes" centered around the University of Chicago on that city's South Side, where an annual folk festival brought in authentic singers and players from around the country. Classic blues was a large part the music presented, and Bloomfield got caught up in the fascination many young performers were developing for earlier styles of guitar playing. In 1961, he put aside his electric guitar and began an in-depth study of acoustic finger-picking techniques – bluegrass, country, delta blues and other traditional styles.

It's not precisely known what instruments Michael used during his acoustic period, but a photo from 1963 shows him playing a 12-string of indeterminate make, and in another from 1964 he can be seen playing a Martin, perhaps a classic D-28. He told Guitar Player magazine's Michael Brooks in 1971 that he did indeed have a Martin at the time. The D-28 may have been purchased from the Fret Shop in Chicago's Hyde Park, a near-Southside hang-out for University of Chicago students, folkies and guitar aficionados in the early '60s.

Bloomfield participated in a number of recording sessions on acoustic during this period, most notably with Yank Rachell in 1963 and with Sleepy John Estes in 1964. In the spring of 1963, he began producing concerts with older, obscure blues musicians at the Fickle Pickle, a Chicago coffee house, and then started performing with Big Joe Williams – on piano – at Big John's in that city's Old Town. During that period Michael also occasionally went on junkets to New York City, sitting in at the various folk venues around Greenwich Village.

It wasn't until the fall of 1964 that Michael again picked up an electric guitar.

1965-66

Plugging in Again

In 1964, two things happened that got Michael Bloomfield playing an electric instrument once more.

In the summer of that year, during a visit to New York City, Bloomfield's manager, Joel Harlib, made a cold call on impresario and producer John Hammond Sr. Harlib had with him several acoustic blues recordings Michael had made with his friend Norman Dayron, and Joel got Hammond to listen to them right there in the office. The producer was impressed enough that he wanted to meet this Michael Bloomfield and he wanted to hear him play in person – with a band.

Hammond's son, blues singer John Hammond Jr., was also in New York City in the summer of 1964. In June he was scheduled to record what would be the first authentic electric blues album by a white artist. Hammond knew Michael from his visits to Chicago, and when he heard that Bloomfield was in town, he asked the Chicagoan to play on the session. When Michael arrived at the Vanguard studios, he was greeted by several other musicians who knew him from Chicago. They were Levon Helm and Robbie Robertson, both members of the Hawks, a Canadian R&B band that had lately been working with singer Ronnie Hawkins. The Hawks were acting as Hammond's back-up group for the date, with Robertson playing electric guitar.

Bloomfield opted to play piano for the session, probably because he hadn't played electric in a few years and because he had no electric guitar with him. He was also likely intimidated by Robertson's aggressiveness and skill as a blues rhythm player.

These two incidents – Hammond Sr. wanting to see him perform with a band, and Robertson getting the better of him on Hammond Jr.'s recording date – got Michael to pick up his electric again. By the fall of 1964, he had cobbled together a band and was performing at Big John's in Chicago. The instrument he was using cost him all of about $23 and may have come from his grandfather's store (it couldn't have come from the Fret Shop as they only sold acoustic instruments). It was a forerunner of Fender's budget-line Mustang guitar, and was called the Duosonic. A nearly worn-out veteran of approximately 1956 vintage, Michael later described the instrument as "rotten."

At Big John's, Bloomfield played the Duosonic through a white Fender Bassman head and cabinet combination, or through an Epiphone Futura amp with four 10" speakers. In the studio, recording his first demo for Hammond, Michael used a much smaller Ampeg Guitaramp, an obscure piece of equipment that he also probably found at Uncle Max's.

Getting a Really Good Guitar

Once Hammond Sr. had heard him and had signed him to a contract, Michael decided he needed a decent instrument. In the early months of 1965, he purchased a new 1964 Fender Telecaster, probably from a retailer in Chicago. It would be the first of three Telecasters that Bloomfield is known to have owned. He bought just the guitar – he couldn't afford a case.

It was the caseless Telecaster that he took to New York along with the Guitaramp for his second demo session for Hammond Sr. He also used that rig when jamming with Hammond Jr. at the Cafe Au Go-Go.

Producer Paul Rothchild had his new star, blues player Paul Butterfield, use Michael to play some slide on sessions the Butterfield Band was doing for Elektra. Bloomfield may have used the Telecaster on these winter 1964-65 dates, or – having not acquired the Fender yet – he might have used a studio Hagstrom, as Rothchild recalled.

In the early summer of 1965, Michael was back in Chicago when he received a call from someone he'd first met in 1963 and then again at John Hammond Jr.'s recording date the following year. Bob Dylan was looking for a guitar player to help him create a new sound – the unlikely combination of folk and rock – and he'd decided to use Michael. Bloomfield packed up his Telecaster and hopped a bus east, eventually making his way to Dylan's Woodstock, NY home, where the two rehearsed the tunes for what would become Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited."

In Columbia's New York studios in June and then again in July, Michael played his Telecaster through an Ampeg Gemini I, a studio amp, while he, Dylan, Al Kooper and a number of studio musicians laid down tracks. He also may have recorded one or two tunes using Dylan's black Fender Stratocaster.

Joining Butterfield

Paul Butterfield's manager, Albert Grossman, arranged for the band to appear at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, and Butterfield asked Bloomfield to come along as his lead guitarist. Michael used his Telecaster and played through his Epiphone Futura amp at the festival. He also brought along a 1963 Guild Thunderbird amp, a model that was briefly offered by Guild. This would be the amplifier that Bloomfield would use for much of the first Butterfield Blues Band record.

On the final night of the festival, Bloomfield joined Dylan onstage for a recreation of their Columbia studio session from a month earlier. His Telecaster/Epiphone combination dominated the performance and all but drowned out Dylan's words, drawing the ire of the Newport folk establishment. Despite the controversy, though, musical history had been made that evening, due in no small part to Michael's pyrotechnic playing.

After Newport, Michael and Paul agreed that he would join the Butterfield Band as its lead guitarist. Bloomfield probably continued to use the Epiphone for the first few months with the band, and may have even briefly used a Vox Super Beatle, but soon he and the rest of the group were outfitted with brand new Fender amplifiers. Michael had both a Twin Reverb and a Super Reverb – and he frequently daisy-chained them together for live performances.

He continued to use his Telecaster, but at some point in the fall of 1965 Bloomfield also acquired a 1956 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop. Guitarists Freddy King, Chuck Berry, Johnny Littlejohn, John Lee Hooker and Michael's mentor, Muddy Waters, all had Goldtops, and Michael must have been very pleased to get one. According to some, it came from Howlin' Wolf's guitarist, Hubert Sumlin. But in an interview with Steve Rosen, Michael himself said that he traded his Telecaster to guitarist John Nuese for the Goldtop when the Butterfield Band was in Boston (Nuese was soon to form the International Submarine Band with Gram Parsons and later would be a member of the Flying Burrito Brothers). Photographic evidence reveals that Michael was still using a Telecaster after acquiring the Gibson, and this was a second Tele – a 1966 model – that he must have picked up around the time the band got its Fender amps.

Guitarist Nick Nicolaisen confirms that Michael got the Les Paul from Nuese in the winter of 1965. It was apparently not in great shape when the trade took place – its jack plate appears in pictures to be held on with tape – and in the hands of Michael it soon was in worse shape.

Bloomfield used the Goldtop as his primary instrument but kept the new Telecaster handy during gigs, probably for slide work. These were his guitars throughout his tenure with Butterfield. It was the Goldtop paired with a Gibson Falcon amplifier that Michael used to record the landmark Butterfield album "East-West."

At the end of February 1967, Bloomfield left the Butterfield Band and, after a month of freelancing around New York, set to work forming his own band. By late April, he had created the Electric Flag and was soon in Los Angeles recording music for the soundtrack to "The Trip." Since his Goldtop may have been unplayable because it was in such poor condition, Michael used another guitar to record a good portion of the soundtrack. Surprisingly, it was a hollow-body Gibson Byrdland, a guitar Michael had probably seen Wes Montgomery use in performance that spring in Chicago. The Byrdland was a top-of-the-line Gibson, and was likely a borrowed instrument.

In the spring of 1967, just as he was organizing the Flag, Bloomfield acquired a guitar he'd been looking for since the Butterfield Band's trip to England the previous year.



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Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Michael Bloomfield Story - Final Chapter


IN CELEBRATION OF Michael Bloomfield's 67th birthday anniversary, mikebloomfieldamericanmusic.com offers a video biography of the legendary guitarist, detailing his remarkable career with images, interview clips and music. Created by filmmakers Nick Lerman and Alex Wernquest, and site manager David Dann, this 10-part narrative begins with Bloomfield as a young, up-and-coming guitarist recording for John Hammond Sr., playing with Bob Dylan and joining the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. It then follows Michael as he creates the Electric Flag and performs to standing ovations at Monterey, records "Super Session" with Al Kooper and then pursues a career playing music on his own terms. Included are excerpts from previously unheard Bloomfield recordings as well as rare and seldom-seen photos of the guitarist.

Please note that this video should not be confused with, and is not associated with, the soon to be completed feature documentary, "If You Love These Blues: The Life and Music of Mike Bloomfield," a Ravin' Films production. It is expected to be released in 2012.
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Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Mike Bloomfield Story - part 9


Michael Bernard "Mike" Bloomfield (July 28, 1943 – February 15, 1981) was an American musician, guitarist, and composer, born in Chicago, Illinois, who became one of the first popular music superstars of the 1960s to earn his reputation almost entirely on his instrumental prowess, since he rarely sung before 1969-70. Respected for his fluid guitar playing, Bloomfield knew and played with many of Chicago's blues legends even before he achieved his own fame, was one of the primary influences on the mid-to-late 1960s revival of classic Chicago and other styles of blues music. In 2003 he was ranked at number 22 on Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time".
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Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Mike Bloomfield Story - part 8


Michael Bernard "Mike" Bloomfield (July 28, 1943 – February 15, 1981) was an American musician, guitarist, and composer, born in Chicago, Illinois, who became one of the first popular music superstars of the 1960s to earn his reputation almost entirely on his instrumental prowess, since he rarely sung before 1969-70. Respected for his fluid guitar playing, Bloomfield knew and played with many of Chicago's blues legends even before he achieved his own fame, was one of the primary influences on the mid-to-late 1960s revival of classic Chicago and other styles of blues music. In 2003 he was ranked at number 22 on Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time".

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Mike Bloomfield Story - part 8


Michael Bernard "Mike" Bloomfield (July 28, 1943 – February 15, 1981) was an American musician, guitarist, and composer, born in Chicago, Illinois, who became one of the first popular music superstars of the 1960s to earn his reputation almost entirely on his instrumental prowess, since he rarely sung before 1969-70. Respected for his fluid guitar playing, Bloomfield knew and played with many of Chicago's blues legends even before he achieved his own fame, was one of the primary influences on the mid-to-late 1960s revival of classic Chicago and other styles of blues music. In 2003 he was ranked at number 22 on Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time".
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Monday, June 20, 2011

The Mike Bloomfield Story - part 7


Michael Bernard "Mike" Bloomfield (July 28, 1943 – February 15, 1981) was an American musician, guitarist, and composer, born in Chicago, Illinois, who became one of the first popular music superstars of the 1960s to earn his reputation almost entirely on his instrumental prowess, since he rarely sung before 1969-70. Respected for his fluid guitar playing, Bloomfield knew and played with many of Chicago's blues legends even before he achieved his own fame, was one of the primary influences on the mid-to-late 1960s revival of classic Chicago and other styles of blues music. In 2003 he was ranked at number 22 on Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time".
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Friday, June 17, 2011

The Michael Bloomfield Story - part 6


Michael Bernard "Mike" Bloomfield (July 28, 1943 – February 15, 1981) was an American musician, guitarist, and composer, born in Chicago, Illinois, who became one of the first popular music superstars of the 1960s to earn his reputation almost entirely on his instrumental prowess, since he rarely sung before 1969-70. Respected for his fluid guitar playing, Bloomfield knew and played with many of Chicago's blues legends even before he achieved his own fame, was one of the primary influences on the mid-to-late 1960s revival of classic Chicago and other styles of blues music. In 2003 he was ranked at number 22 on Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time".
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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Michael Bloomfield Story - part 5


Michael Bernard "Mike" Bloomfield (July 28, 1943 – February 15, 1981) was an American musician, guitarist, and composer, born in Chicago, Illinois, who became one of the first popular music superstars of the 1960s to earn his reputation almost entirely on his instrumental prowess, since he rarely sung before 1969-70. Respected for his fluid guitar playing, Bloomfield knew and played with many of Chicago's blues legends even before he achieved his own fame, was one of the primary influences on the mid-to-late 1960s revival of classic Chicago and other styles of blues music. In 2003 he was ranked at number 22 on Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time".
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Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Michael Bloomfield Story - part 4


Michael Bernard "Mike" Bloomfield (July 28, 1943 – February 15, 1981) was an American musician, guitarist, and composer, born in Chicago, Illinois, who became one of the first popular music superstars of the 1960s to earn his reputation almost entirely on his instrumental prowess, since he rarely sung before 1969-70. Respected for his fluid guitar playing, Bloomfield knew and played with many of Chicago's blues legends even before he achieved his own fame, was one of the primary influences on the mid-to-late 1960s revival of classic Chicago and other styles of blues music. In 2003 he was ranked at number 22 on Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time".
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Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Michael Bloomfield Story - part 3


Michael Bernard "Mike" Bloomfield (July 28, 1943 – February 15, 1981) was an American musician, guitarist, and composer, born in Chicago, Illinois, who became one of the first popular music superstars of the 1960s to earn his reputation almost entirely on his instrumental prowess, since he rarely sung before 1969-70. Respected for his fluid guitar playing, Bloomfield knew and played with many of Chicago's blues legends even before he achieved his own fame, was one of the primary influences on the mid-to-late 1960s revival of classic Chicago and other styles of blues music. In 2003 he was ranked at number 22 on Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time".
Get Facebook support for your favorite band or venue - click HERE


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Michael Bloomfield Story - part 2


Michael Bernard "Mike" Bloomfield (July 28, 1943 – February 15, 1981) was an American musician, guitarist, and composer, born in Chicago, Illinois, who became one of the first popular music superstars of the 1960s to earn his reputation almost entirely on his instrumental prowess, since he rarely sung before 1969-70. Respected for his fluid guitar playing, Bloomfield knew and played with many of Chicago's blues legends even before he achieved his own fame, was one of the primary influences on the mid-to-late 1960s revival of classic Chicago and other styles of blues music. In 2003 he was ranked at number 22 on Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time".

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Michael Bloomfield Story - part 2


Michael Bernard "Mike" Bloomfield (July 28, 1943 – February 15, 1981) was an American musician, guitarist, and composer, born in Chicago, Illinois, who became one of the first popular music superstars of the 1960s to earn his reputation almost entirely on his instrumental prowess, since he rarely sung before 1969-70. Respected for his fluid guitar playing, Bloomfield knew and played with many of Chicago's blues legends even before he achieved his own fame, was one of the primary influences on the mid-to-late 1960s revival of classic Chicago and other styles of blues music. In 2003 he was ranked at number 22 on Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time".
Get Facebook support for your favorite band or venue - click HERE


Friday, June 3, 2011

The Michael Bloomfield Story - part 1


Michael Bernard "Mike" Bloomfield (July 28, 1943 – February 15, 1981) was an American musician, guitarist, and composer, born in Chicago, Illinois, who became one of the first popular music superstars of the 1960s to earn his reputation almost entirely on his instrumental prowess, since he rarely sung before 1969-70. Respected for his fluid guitar playing, Bloomfield knew and played with many of Chicago's blues legends even before he achieved his own fame, was one of the primary influences on the mid-to-late 1960s revival of classic Chicago and other styles of blues music. In 2003 he was ranked at number 22 on Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time"
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.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mike Bloomfield Interview


The disappearance of Bloomfield's fabled '59 Les Paul Standard is the stuff of legend. Accounts vary from teller to teller, but the most likely scenario was recalled by Mark Naftalin. Michael had been hired by a Vancouver club for a week-long gig with Michael Bloomfield & Friends. Naftalin said in an interview for Wolkin & Keenom's "If You Love These Blues ..." that Bloomfield played the first few shows and then left, leaving one of his terse notes of apology behind. The club owner kept Michael's guitar as compensation for his losses, and Bloomfield did nothing to try to get it back. Mark could offer no reason for Michael's abrupt departure.

One scenario for the Les Paul's disappearance takes place in the winter of 1974. It's possible that Michael abandoned his prize instrument during a five-day run from November 12-16, 1974, at an upscale night club in Vancouver called The Cave. The venue was an odd choice for Bloomfield's loosely structured, blues-based repertoire (the performer who appeared the following week was Playboy Bunny Barbi Benton), and Michael may have been put off by the reception the band received from the Cave's patrons. He may also have wanted to see the PBS Soundstage tribute to Muddy Waters that he had recorded in Chicago in July; it was set to air the second week in November but was not being carried by Canadian television.

In an article in the June 2011 issue of Vintage Guitar, guitarist and researcher John Picard confirms that The Cave was indeed the club where Bloomfield ditched the '59 and the rest of his equipment. Club owner Steve Grozina kept the instrument when Michael quit, and a week later sold the Les Paul for $980 to Canadian guitarist Chris Okey. Okey used it in performance for several years before selling it to a Canadian collector. That person had much-needed repair work done on it and eventually sold it to a third party who reportedly brought it back to the United States.

Since that time the Sunburst's provenance is uncertain. A guitar collector reported having the opportunity to buy the Bloomfield Sunburst from the second owner in Toronto in 1980 for $4,000. He later regretted passing up the chance to acquire a formidable piece of American music history, but did confirm that the eventual purchaser brought the guitar back to the States. Some sources say a collector in Florida has it, while others claim a woman in Chicago now owns it.


The year of the '59's loss also remains in question. While 1974 seems the likely date, producer Toby Byron, who was living with Michael at the time, recalls that the '59 Sunburst was not gone until sometime after the fall of 1975. He can't say precisely when it disappeared, but he is certain Michael had it for much of 1975.
Whatever the date for the guitar's abandonment, after the winter of 1974-75 the '59 Sunburst was never to be seen again. And, interestingly enough, not only the Sunburst was lost when Michael failed to fulfill his gig contract, but the Blue Telecaster as well. Where that guitar is today is anyone's guess.




Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Stop - Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield


Ah Yes!!! Here it is! You gotta check out the disc. It's nice to see these out takes but the cd is the real deal... of particular note are Don't Throw your love on me so strong and No More Lonely Nights.