Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fillmore East April 12-13, 1968: Butterfield Blues Band/Charles Lloyd/Tom Rush

 (this post is part of a series cataloging every show at The Fillmore East)

April 12-13, 1968  Butterfield Blues Band/Charles Lloyd/Tom Rush

The Butterfield Blues Band had come out of Chicago in late 1965 as America’s premier white blues band.  They featured guitarists Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop.  Bloomfield had moved to San Francisco and started the Electric Flag by this time, but Bishop was still in Butterfield’s group. The group had just released The Resurrection of Pigboy Crabshaw (Elektra Feb 68) heralding Bishop’s newly-prominent role. However, rather than the guitar-oriented Chicago style blues of the first two albums, Butterfield’s new sound was closer to soul, with a three-piece horn section.

Elvin Bishop would leave the Butterfield band within two months of this show, and he too would move to the Bay Area and start his own band. Mark Naftalin, the group's original keyboard player, was also still with the band, but he too would leave shortly after this and move to the Bay Area. The other members of the group were probably Bugsy Maugh on bass, Philip Wilson on drums and Gene Dinwiddie (tenor sax) and Keith Johnson (trumpet) on horns, possibly with Dave Sanborn (alto). Sanborn had toured with the group in late 1967 and early 1968, but I don't know how long he stayed.

The Butterfield Blues Band already had a lengthy and fruitful relationship with Bill Graham at the Fillmore, but it is worth noting that this is the third act managed by Albert Grossman that headlined the theater in  its first six weeks of operation. That being said, the original powerhouse Butterfield Blues Band, with Mike Bloomfield in his prime, had played some seminal shows at the original Fillmore, helping to make both the venue and the band, so they were a great choice to help establish the Fillmore East.

Charles Lloyd, a tenor sax player, was a regular at the SF Fillmore.  His group, playing undiluted modern jazz in the style of Miles Davis, may still have included Keith Jarrett, Ron McClure and Jack DeJohnette. Lloyd was the first jazz act to become a regular in the hippie ballrooms around the country, and while his jazz remain undiminished he found himself a whole new audience that served him well. He even recorded an album at The Fillmore, a fine record called Love-In, released in January 1967. His current album was In Europe (Atlantic 1968).

Tom Rush was a popular Cambridge, MA folkie.  He had signed to Elektra and started to make folk-rock albums  His 6th album, The Circle Game (Elektra 1968) featured two songs by Joni Mitchell as well as songs by then-unknowns Jackson Browne and James Taylor.  Although he is largely forgotten today, Rush was instrumental in bringing attention to these writers. Kostelanetz reports that the light show was halted for ‘serious’ folk performers like Tom Rush or Richie Havens.

next: April 19-20, Mothers of Invention/James Cotton Blues Band

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