Tag Archives: October Music et al

Robert Hall Bob Weir

Robert Hall Bob Weir

Happy birthday to you…

October 16, 1947

Jimmy come lately

I quickly admit that I was not much of a Dead fan until my brother-in-law George directed me to the Internet Archives site [Internet Archive Grateful Dead] with its hundreds, no, thousands of Dead recordings. I learned the letters SBD (soundboard), AUD (audience), Matrix (someone’s incredible mixing of both a SBD and and AUD), and BB (a Betty Board as in Betty Cantor-Jackson, onetime soundboard tech for the Dead).

I also learned that, and this was the tipping point for this penurious person, I could download any file I wanted for free. That generosity did not last. Today, only the audience recordings are still available for free download. Many of those are simply outstanding recordings. The soundboards are available to listen to, but not to download.

Robert Hall Bob Weir

Get to the point

I didn’t get the Dead because I was familiar only with the Dead’s studio work, which didn’t do much for me. Yes their two 1970 masterpieces, Workingman Dead and American Beauty, both made my 8-track collection, but by 1971 I was married, by 1973 a father, and working two or three jobs. Concerts were rarely part of the budget.

Robert Hall Bob Weir

Bob Weir

When the Dead began to play in 1965, Bob Weir was just 17. Even by the counterculture’s egalitarian standards, Weir was still a kid.

The kid had not been a good student. His behavior defined the then American education’s definition of the poorly performing student: a lazy misfit. Fortunately, while in the system he met John Perry Barlow. Fortunately, Weir knew enough to get kicked out of the system and back to his hometown of San Francisco.

And fortunately, he met Jerry Garcia, too. Instruments in hand, they morphed from Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions into the electric Warlocks, and quickly tripped from there into the Grateful Dead.

Faced with the daunting task of playing beside the genius guitar playing of Garcia, Bob became one of rock’s best rhythm guitarists. He became the co-lead-vocalist with Garcia, and with old school friend Barlow wrote many of the Dead’s best songs such as…

  • Black-Throated Wind
  • Cassidy
  • Looks Like Rain
  • Lost Sailor
  • Mexicali blues
  • The Music Never Stopped
  • Saint of Circumstance
Robert Hall Bob Weir

Keeps on truckin’

Following the demise of the original Dead after Garcia’s death in 1995, Weir continued to play music: sometimes with other Dead band mates, sometimes with others.

In 2016, Weir released Blue Mountain. 

The Pitchfork site had this to say about it: As Weir’s sixth studio full-length outside the Grateful Dead, Blue Mountain functionally serves as a reboot for the guitarist, whose solo sensibility long ago veered far from Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter’s cosmic Americana and into the AOR waters of 1978’s Heaven Help the Fool (made with Fleetwood Mac producer Keith Olsen), the pastel fusion of Bobby and the Midnites in the ’80s, and the dense jam-jazz of Ratdog in the ’90s. With an ambient C&W production that often subsumes lead guitar into the reverb swirl (and occasionally swallows Weir), Blue Mountain will likewise probably prove inseparable from the historical period in which it was recorded. But, unlike Weir’s previous albums, Blue Mountain also finally seems like the right album at the right time for Weir. Quietly adventurous, wise, and a welcome late-career turn, Blue Mountain builds an ethereal home for a rhythm guitarist who was tempered in the chaos-friendly environs of Dead.

Don’t just read about it, though. I’m listening to it as I write this and it is sounds are smooth and soothing.

And he’s still out there performing.

Robert Hall Bob Weir

Paul Butterfield Blues Band album

Paul Butterfield Blues Band album

released October 1965

Paul Butterfield Blues Band album

In October 1965, future Woodstock Music and Art Fair performers the Paul Butterfield Blues Band released their first album: The Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Paul Butterfield was 23; Mike Bloomfield was 22; Elvin Bishop was 23; Mark Naftalin was 21; Jerome Arnold was 28; and Sam Lay was 30. (only Butterfield himself would be in the Woodstock line up.)

Lining two walls in downstairs hallway of the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts are pictures and brief bios of each band and its members who performed at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. When I watch or listen to guests visiting the Museum, the usual artists they hover over or speak about are Jimi Hendrix, the Band, Janis Joplin, the Who, or other so-called “big names.”

I cannot remember any guest hovering at the Paul Butterfield  Blues Band.

They should be.

Paul Butterfield Blues Band album

Paul Butterfield Blues Band

Rock and Rolls’ roots are obviously from rhythm and blues whose roots are simply the blues. Jimi, Robbie, Janis, and Pete would all acknowledge and tip their hats to a Paul Butterfield for so brilliantly playing those blues.

The band’s first album is an excellent example of the style and strength the various band line-ups presented over its time.

All Music’s Mike DeGagne says this about the first album:

…a wonderfully messy and boisterous display of American-styled blues, with intensity and pure passion derived from every bent note. In front of all these instruments is Butterfield’s harmonica, beautifully dictating a mood and a genuine feel that is no longer existent, even in today’s blues music. Each song captures the essence of Chicago blues in a different way, from the back-alley feel of “Born in Chicago” to the melting ease of Willie Dixon’s “Mellow Down Easy” to the authentic devotion that emanates from Bishop and Butterfield’s “Our Love Is Drifting.” “Shake Your Money Maker,” “Blues With a Feeling,” and “I Got My Mojo Working” (with Lay on vocals) are all equally moving pieces performed with a raw adoration for blues music. Best of all, the music that pours from this album is unfiltered…blared, clamored, and let loose, like blues music is supposed to be released.”

You should give it a listen, again I hope, but if not for the first of what will likely be many times.

Paul Butterfield Blues Band album