|The Blues Project 1967|
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Biography: One of the first album-oriented, "underground" groups in the United States, the Blues Project offered an electric brew of rock, blues, folk, pop, and even some jazz, classical, and psychedelia during their brief heyday in the mid-'60s. It's not quite accurate to categorize them as a blues-rock group, although they did plenty of that kind of material; they were more like a Jewish-American equivalent to British bands like the Yardbirds, who used a blues and R&B base to explore any music that interested them. Erratic songwriting talent and a lack of a truly outstanding vocalist prevented them from rising to the front line of '60s bands, but they recorded plenty of interesting material over the course of their first three albums, before the departure of their most creative members took its toll.
|The Blues Project 1966|
The eclectic résumés of the musicians, who came from folk, jazz, blues, and rock backgrounds, was reflected in their choice of material. Blues by Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry tunes ran alongside covers of contemporary folk-rock songs by Eric Anderson and Patrick Sky, as well as the group's own originals. These were usually penned by Kooper, who had already built songwriting credentials as the co-writer of Gary Lewis' huge smash "This Diamond Ring," and established a reputation as a major folk-rock shaker with his contributions to Dylan's mid-'60s records. Kooper also provided the band's instrumental highlights with his glowing organ riffs.
|Blues Project Article Billboard Magazine December, 1966|
Projections The live debut sounds rather tame and derivative; the group truly hit their stride on Projections (late 1966), which was, disappointingly, their only full-length studio recording. While they went through straight blues numbers with respectable energy, they really shone best on the folk and jazz-influenced tracks, like "Fly Away," Katz's lilting "Steve's Song," Kooper's jazz instrumental "Flute Thing" (an underground radio standard that's probably their most famous track), and Kooper's fierce adaptation of an old Blind Willie Johnson number, "I Can't Keep from Crying." A non-LP single from this era, the pop-psychedelic "No Time Like the Right Time," was their greatest achievement and one of the best "great hit singles that never were" of the decade.
|The Blues Project - US Single 1966|
Kooper got to fulfill his ambitions for soulful horn rock as the leader of the original Blood, Sweat & Tears, although he left that band after their first album; BS&T also included Katz (who stayed onboard for a long time). Blumenfeld and Kulberg kept the Blues Project going for a fourth album before forming Seatrain, and the group re-formed in the early '70s with various lineups, Kooper rejoining for a live 1973 album, Reunion in Central Park. The first three albums from the Kooper days are the only ones that count, though; the best material from these is on Rhino's best-of compilation. [AMG]
|The Blues Project - 1966|
In 1964, Elektra Records produced a compilation album of various artists entitled, The Blues Project, which featured several white musicians from the Greenwich Village area who played acoustic blues music in the style of black musicians. One of the featured artists on the album was a young guitarist named Danny Kalb, who was paid $75 for his two songs. Not long after the album's release, however, Kalb gave up his acoustic guitar for an electric one. The Beatles' arrival in the United States earlier in the year signified the end of the folk and acoustic blues movement that had swept the US in the early 1960s.
Kalb's first rock and roll band was formed in the spring of 1965, playing under various names at first, until finally settling on the Blues Project moniker as an allusion to Kalb's first foray on record. After a brief hiatus in the summer of 1965 during which Kalb was visiting Europe, the band reformed in September 1965 and were almost immediately a top draw in Greenwich Village. By this time, the band included Danny Kalb on guitar, Steve Katz (having recently departed the Even Dozen Jug Band) also on guitar, Andy Kulberg on bass and flute, Roy Blumenfeld on drums and Tommy Flanders on vocals.
|The Blues Project - Australian Single 1966|
Entitled Live at The Cafe Au Go Go the album was finished with another week of recordings in January 1966. By that time, Flanders had left the band and, as a result, he appeared on only a few of the songs on this album.
The album was a moderate success and the band toured the US to promote it. While in San Francisco, California in April 1966, the Blues Project played at the Fillmore Auditorium to rave reviews. Seemingly New York's answer to the Grateful Dead, even members of the Grateful Dead who saw them play were impressed with their improvisational abilities.(Source: Rock Family Trees - television program)
|The Blues Project - Avalon Ballroom|
Soon after the album was completed, though, the band began to fall apart. Kooper quit the band in the spring of 1967, and the band without him completed a third album, Live At Town Hall. Despite the name, only one song was recorded live at Town Hall, while the rest was made up of live recordings from other venues, or of studio outtakes with overdubbed applause to feign a live sound. One song in the latter category, Kooper's "No Time Like the Right Time," would be the band's only charting single.
The Blues Project's last hurrah was at the Monterey International Pop Festival held in Monterey, California, in June 1967. By this time, however, half the original line-up was gone. Kooper had formed his own band and played at the festival as well. Katz left soon thereafter, followed by Kalb. A fourth album, 1968's Planned Obsolescence, featured only Blumenfeld and Kulberg from the original lineup, but was released under the Blues Project name at Verve's insistence. Future recordings by this lineup would be released under a new band name, Seatrain.
|The Blues Project - UK Single 1967|
The Blues Project, with a modified line-up, reformed briefly in the early 1970s, releasing three further albums: 1971's Lazarus, 1972's The Blues Project, and 1973's The Original Blues Project Reunion In Central Park (which featured Kooper but not Flanders). These albums did little to excite the public and since then, the group's activity has been confined to a few sporadic reunion concerts, such as when the Blues Project played a fundraising concert at Valley Stream Central High School in New York, promoted by Bruce Blakeman with the proceeds going to the Youth Council and the US Olympic Committee.
In the period between 2001 and 2007, Roy Blumenfeld drummed in the Barry Melton Band (Melton of Country Joe & the Fish fame). [Wikipedia]
Studio & live albums:
♦ Live at The Cafe Au Go Go (1966)
♦ Projections (1966)
♦ Live at Town Hall (1967)
♦ Planned Obsolescence (1968)
♦ Lazarus (1971)
♦ Blues Project (1972)
♦ Reunion in Central Park (1973)
• Tommy Flanders - vocals (born circa 1944) (1965-1966, 1972-1973, -present)
• Danny Kalb - guitar (born September 19, 1942, Brooklyn, New York) (1965-1967, 1969-present)
• Steve Katz - guitar, harmonica, vocals (born May 9, 1945, New York City) (1965-1967, 1973-present)
• Al Kooper - keyboards, vocals (born February 5, 1944, Brooklyn, New York) (1965-1967, 1973-present)
• Andy Kulberg - bass guitar, flute (April 30, 1944, Buffalo, New York – January 28, 2002, California) (1965-1967, 1973-2002)
• Roy Blumenfeld - drums (born May 11, 1944, Bronx, New York) (1965-1967, 1969-?)
"The Blues Project
Bonds International Casino, NYC
March 17,1981 FM"
02. GOIN' DOWN LOUISIANA
03. STEVE'S SONG
04. THAT'S ALRIGHT MAMA
06. YOU CAN'T CATCH ME
07. CATCH THE WIND
08. FLY AWAY
09. RED HOUSE
10. NEW INSTRUMENTAL
12. I LOVE YOU MORE THAN YOU'LL EVER KNOW
02. I CAN'T KEEP FROM CRYING
03. JELLY JELLY BLUES
04. CHERYL'S GOING HOME
05. YOU GO AND I'LL GO WITH YOU
06. NO TIME LIKE THE RIGHT TIME
07. FLUTE THING
08. TWO TRAINS RUNNING
09. WAKE ME SHAKE ME
10. WAKE ME SHAKE ME REPRISE
Part 1: Blues Project
Part 2: Blues Project
Part 1: Blues Project
Part 2: Blues Project
|The Blues Project - Avalon Ballroom 1966|