Wednesday, November 27, 2013

# 5 Paul Butterfield @ Newport July 25th 1965

Tearing it up at Newport 1965
    It must have been exciting for Paul, his band and extended entourage, to pack up the Econoline van in Chicago for the trip to Newport, Rhode Island. They had been a steady draw for the Near North Side's bohemian club, Big John's, but to play Newport must have been considered a huge break!

   When I think about it now, it's a testament to musicianship of Butterfield, Bishop and Bloomfield. Remember, they are all in their early twenties in 1965, and yet, each had his own distinctive sound and approach to the interpretation of standard blues songs of the day. All this young talent floating on the seasoned Arnold, Lay rhythm section, what a combination! If you compare this incarnation of the Butterfield band with any of the young blues bands of the day, you can sense, they deserved to play the prestigious event.
Newport Folk Festival, July 1965
   They weren't a headliner at Newport, but the
gig was an important foot in the door for all of them. Very few people outside Chicago had even heard of them, yet seen them perform live. So, playing Newport was a great opportunity to advertise their talent during a performance on opening night where festival patrons could see the band as they entered the grounds, and then again during two lengthy workshops over the weekend.

   You can see in the photo below that the band was unknown enough that festival organizers placed them on a stage too small to accommodate the whole band. However, the much appreciated and deserved opportunities were thanks to the intuition and initiative of A & R man, Paul Rothschild. He was the one who boasted about his discovery to Albert Grossman, and Jac Holzman. It is his business connections in New York which should be given the credit for getting Butterfield the gig. However, with all that confidence came expectations, and that must have created a powerful pressure on the confidence of the band.

The Butterfield Band playing on opening night.
    I'm not naive enough to think that Butterfield stole the show at Newport, Dylan did that, but he certainly made enough of an impact both on the festival patrons and industry people that he was rewarded with a recording contract with the premier folk label, Elektra, and in addition, they also secured representation with the successful manager Albert Grossman. Even if you subtract the business achievements, Paul Butterfield and his band made history in popular music at Newport.

      During that weekend in 1965, the Butterfield Band introduced authentic electric Chicago blues to an enthusiastic audience. There are countless interviews with artists and audience members who still speak of the excitement the band created. While both Dylan and Butterfield occupy the history books because of their performances, it was pretty much serendipitous. Dylan wanted to perform an electric set, and there were no other electric musicians available to serve his purpose, so really, Paul’s band were the first and only choice.

   Unfortunately, a recording of the complete Butterfield set does not seem to be available anywhere.
Juke, the Little Walter hit instrumental, Blues for Ruth, (probably a tribute to Butterfield’s former girlfriend who died of cancer in the early sixties), Why Don’t You All Quit It, Elvin’s Blues, But That’s Alright  (Nick Gravenites of vocals), It’s Time About Time (Nick on vocals) , and The Cannonball Adderley instrumental Work Song. None of these performances seem to have made it to commercial release. If you ever come across them, please let me know.
The original set list included:

   However, the Newport version of Born in Chicago, Look Over Yonder's Wall, Blues With A Feelin’ and Mellow Down Easy show up on a few Newport and Butterfield compilations as do the Dylan/Butterfield Band tracks: Maggie’s Farm, Like a Rollin’ Stone, with Al Kooper on organ. (Mark Naftalin had not joined the band yet.)
   There is another factor to consider when you listen to performances that are available. Contrary to what many critics of Butterfield have asserted, his band was doing their own arrangements of  the standards, they weren't just "aping" the originals. For example, Blues with a Feeling, Look Over Yonders Wall, and Mellow Down Easy are easily distinguished from other versions with journeymen Little Walter and Elmore James. Even Butterfield's version of Juke has a different tone and tempo to Little Walter's.

     As a little piece of Butterfield trivia, in addition to introducing electric blues played at rock tempo to the largely acoustic folk world, Butterfield also holds a unique title in the history of a generation's popular music. He is the only artist to play all the important concerts of an era: Newport 1965, Monterey 1967, Woodstock 1969, and then the Last Waltz 1975.

   Personally, I've never been a big fan of the Newport recordings. It's probably because I was spoiled by the energy conveyed by the first album versions.  Still, the available Newport set is pretty good in sound quality and performance. Most of all, I wish I had been there that weekend in July of 1965

   Have a look at the video below. It is a clip from Murray Lerner's Festival and shows Butterfield playing Juke

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

# 4 Festival Documentary

    The original 97 minute documentary, Festival, was released in 1967, and covered various performances at The Newport Folk Festival from 1963 to 1965. It faded into history for a number of years; at some point, I concluded it was lost forever. However, after communicating with numerous collectors all over the world I managed to acquire a multi-generation VHS copy. The day I received that tape in the mail, I was one happy Butterfield fan! The image was terrible, and it took some serious concentration to see the Butterfield performance of Juke, but I was grateful. Fortunately, a few years ago, some kind soul at Eagle Rock Entertainment took the initiative to release it on DVD.

    It's in black and white, and for the most part you never actually see a full performance by many of the artists. I don't know if it was a legal issue at the time of original production, or maybe it was Albert Grossman's insistence. It seems like such a strange attitude for a businessman to have even in the 60s, but I have read that he was adverse to having his any of artists show up in films, fearing the record buying public would not buy his artist's records.

   Anyway, Festival is significant in that it puts Butterfield's original musical contributions to history in a clearer context.  The Folk Music Revival of the late fifties and sixties was originally about rejecting the mainstream commercialism of pop music by reviving the folk music tradition in the United States. However, many of the self appointed instigators of the revival became a little too zealous, and seem to have forgotten that folk music is a living breathing art form, and consequently does not adhere to stagnation. I've read and heard many interviews with these revivalists, to me, they come across as a little too rigid in their thinking.

   These Folk Nazis' would profess that in order for folk music to be authentic, it had to be acoustic and preferably old . Consequently, any artist who breached that inflexible ideal, had sold out to commercialism. Consequently, they were labeled as an enemy of the movement. In retrospect, it all seems so short sighted. Folk music isn't some dead language like Latin, it doesn't belong in a museum.

   Festival does document some memorable performances by several folk artists of the day, but for me, the the highlight of the documentary is the 1965 segment when the Butterfield band does Little Walter's Juke. After that, Dylan's performance of Maggie's Farm, backed by the Butter Band, is stellar! It's not just because I am a fan of both artists, but because they both made history on that day. Thank God Murray Lerner was contracted to recorded it! You'll notice in the documentary that all of the music presented was acoustic, so you can imagine the storm of controversy when Butterfield's band turn on the amps. The folk intelligentsia must have shuttered at the impending runination of their social engineering fantasy.

    There was another silly argument being made during this period: white people can't sing blues, because you guessed it, they haven't had the same experiences as the black man. There might be a small element of truth in the position, but I think the subtext is more a form of reverse racism. I mean, would they say, someone from Boston can't learn to play authentic jigs and reels because they aren't from Ireland, or a woman can't sing Opera because she didn't grow up in Italy? So, for some of the folkies, the thought of some middle class, white kids from Chicago, playing music from their home town was a heresy. Then to complicate matters, Butterfield had a black rhythm section, electric instruments, and they could really play them! It must have thrown many into a state of cultural confusion.
   Dylan saw through this facade though. He knew the times were changing, and hired Paul's band for his set on closing night. His performance with the Butterfield Blues Band is at least mentioned in every history of the era. Many of the folkies were so out of touch with the real world. They didn't seem to realize that blues and country musicians were using electric instruments since the forties. The Rolling Stones had commercial success with Willie Dixon's Little Red Rooster as did other rock bands. Kids wanted to hear authentic electric blues, and it they found it in Butterfield's interpretations.

   After all, most musicians had to make a living with their craft and they knew that making a living in music is an act of commercialism. I guess by this point you can tell I am not a fan of nativity demonstrated by some members in the folk movement. I understand the political statement of rejecting the commercialism of art in an effort to preserve its "purity", but artists need to make a living like everyone else. All of that said, the Butterfield band offered up some pretty convincing interpretations of authentic Chicago Blues which is what they were suppose to do and the audience got it.

     Also included in this documentary is an interview with Mike Bloomfield and Son House at the festival. I'll post that in the next blog as it will be about the Butterfield performances.

     Below, is a video of Elektra records founder, Jac Holtzman. He is a pretty important part of the success of many of the folk artists of the day including the Butterfield Blues Band. He has some interesting things to say about that day.


Friday, November 15, 2013

# 3 An Offer You Can't Refuse

   Too often we take our own local artists for granted, and it takes outsiders to keep the memory of their work alive. This is probably true of many great musicians in almost every culture; it's certainly true of American music. \For example, Europeans have a long history of preserving both American Jazz and Blues through literature, and with recordings. 

   When Swedish sound technician, and Chicago Blues enthusiast Olle Helander makes his journey to the Sutherland Hotel at 4569 Drexel Avenue in Chicago on May 22nd of 1964, he does it as an historian. At the time, he is thinking about the immediate benefit of recording some of the cities blues artists for his employer, but he does not know that he is making an important contribution to the history of a music unique to the U.S.. 
    So, armed with a Nagra tape recorder, and 4 channel mixer (state of the art technology in 1964), over a period of about a week Helander records a whole roster of little known South Side blues acts on behalf of the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation.

    During his visit he records Big Walter Horton, Eddie Boyd, Mike Bloomfield (before he joins the Butterfield band), Sunnyland Slim, Willie Mabon, among others, but the tracks by a 22 year old Paul Butterfield are what interests us in this post. When Helander returns to Sweden, the sets are edited, and then broadcast on Swedish radio under the title of Blueskvarter (At The Bluesquarters) volume 1 and 2. All of these remastered recordings are still available online through Amazon.

    Originally, Helander records the set with Butterfield on May 21st, but the Sutherland is under construction causing annoying noise to leak into the recordings, so they reschedule to the 22nd. It should be mentioned here that these tracks are advertised as Butterfield tracks, but they are really recordings of Paul Butterfield as a side man with The Smokey Smothers Blues Band, not the other way around. According to Smothers, while driving down the street one day he happens to hear a young Butterfield playing his harmonica and he asks him to join his band.                                  

    Often these tracks are sold under different titles, the most common one being the 1972, Red Lightning release An Offer You Can't Refuse. The liner notes of this official release says the tracks are from the summer of 1963, Big John's, but they are in fact part of the Sutherland Hotel recordings.

    These same tracks have been hawked by bootleggers for years under such titles as: Droppin' Out with The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and include tracks from Newport Folk Festival, July 25th 1965, with some tracks from a tape Bill Graham makes of the band when they play the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco. They recordings also show up as Sutherland Hotel Tapes (also a bootleg). Don't be fooled, they all originate from the Helander recordings.

   One way you can determine what you are buying is to remember that during the Sutherland Hotel session, these were the tracks captured: Everything's Gonna Be Alright, Poor Boy, Got My Mojo Workin;, Last Night, Loaded, and One room Country Shack, all other purported tracks from this session are from other sources.

   So, are these tracks worth the purchase? As a harmonica player, and devoted fan of Butterfield's style I think these tracks are an important part of any collection. However, when I first bought this set on vinyl as An Offer You Can't Refuse  the experience was disappointing. I remember  expecting more of the energy I heard on his later material, and thinking, it isn't here.

   Of course, the sound quality is victim of the technology of the early sixties, and consequently, doesn't carry as much punch as say the Paul Butterfield Blues Band conveys. The vocal track is a bit muffled and doesn't really showcase Butterfield's skill as a blues singer.

    However, considering Butterfield is only about 22 years old at this time, his playing is amazing! He demonstrates such a strong command of the harmonica, and vocal interpretation! 

   The composers of blues songs are a fairly small group in the early '60's, so, the fact that Butterfield is writing in the genre at twenty-two is significant. Latin rhythms are a trend in the 50s and 60s mainstream pop, so, he is trying to tap into that trend. For these reasons the stand out track in the whole set is Loaded

    In the end, all Butterfield fans owe a lot to the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation for sending Helander to Chicago to record Butterfield, even if he is a sideman at the time.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

# 2 Paul Butterfield and Rare Chicago Blues

    Fans of Post-war blues often don't realize that they are in fact listening to an urban folk music rooted in a the oppression created by a slave economy. It's a very humble beginning for a music which will become powerful enough to spawn the most important music of 20th century Western Culture.

    However, in spite of its international profile, blues is to all folk music in that it is created by a community of people with stories to tell in an effort to as Art Blakley says, to help settle the dust of the day. After all, authentic folk music, not the music manufactured in an advertisers office, breathes.

   Unfortunately, it seems that cultural movements, including folk music, become a victim of capitalism. It happens with Dixieland in the 20's, again with Rock 'n' Roll in the 50's and is happening now with Rap, and Hip Hop. During the 50's. the music industry is eager to capitalize on the popularity of Rock 'n' Roll naively over sell the music the mainstream audience and in the process a lose a an emerging group of baby boomers who are coming of age, The result is that millions of young fans are suspicious of the squeaky clean fun of Elvis, Pat Boone, and Jay and the Americans and listen for something new.  Traditional folk music will become their logical choice for some fresh and authentic.

   Their reaction is to turn away from the mainstream pop music of the day, and seek out music which they feel expresses something more authentic. During their quest, they reach back into the archives of their folk music heritage, and adopt some of it as their own.  In their quest for discovering their past they breath new life into hundreds of forgotten artists and their songs.

   By the late '50's the folk music fad becomes a movement, the audience grows, so does the commercialism of the movement. Recorded versions of old songs are bought, and being played in homes throughout the Western World.  Then, young folk singers begin appearing on television, radio, and in films, creating stars of kids who can play a couple of chords on a guitar and sing simple harmony. Once this market is established, a folk music festival circuit springs up across several countries and an official folk music revival is born.

    While hobbyists collect rare recorded performances, the real enthusiasts emulate the Lomax's, and literally track down long forgotten folksingers, documenting their lives. Many real fans are kind enough to invite artists into their homes, feed them, and then offer employment in local Coffee Houses.

    Some enthusiasts turn folk music into an academic venture, and engage in long circular discussions about genuineness of songs which often evolves into heated exchanges, and on occasion physical confrontations. Most of these young devotees are white, liberal educated, very middle class, and for many, the folk revival was just another form of cultural tourism.

    Paul Butterfield, and many other like minded kids in Chicago are drawn into this folk revival too. Folk music has become hip! Experiencing "authentic", "real" music is the de rigueur of the day, and they want to be part of that scene. So, it isn't unusual for a University of Chicago student like Norman Dayron to get involved in the local campus folk boom, and then venture into the culture of the South Side looking to record real creators of the art form.

     In the '40's, Chicago is a hub of the post war industrial migration of Afro-Americans, and the South Side is where most of them land. So, it is a community rich in the resource of a living folk music, called Post War Chicago Blues. It must seem like a gold mine for these young university students to realize they are only blocks away from such a resource. Butterfield, and a few other adventurous young people are rewarded for making the journey and end up with front row seats to see and hear some of the greatest blues singers of all time.

   Which leads us to the focus of this post. To be honest, when I first buy  Rare Chicago Blues, 1962 - 1968  in 1995, it's only because of the Butterfield tracks. I have heard of some of the other artists, but never entertain much interest in their work. However, I discover that most of the other music is pretty good too. It is also a great historical document for what was going on locally in Chicago and it is really well produced. I am happy to say, it has manages to remain one of my favourite Chicago Blues albums.

    Butterfield plays on three of the twenty tracks and as we are only interested in the Butterfield contributions, let's look at what he does on those tracks:

# 8 Diggin’ My Potatoes: Butterfield's playing is featured along with James Cotton on vocals, and Elvin Bishop, guitar. Butterfield's acoustic harp work is stunning when you consider he is only around 20 years of age. He has such a full, confident tone and already wailing in his own distinctive diatonic harmonica  voice. Keep in mind that James Cotton is a veteran bluesman by this point, and Butterfield the newbie. However, the listener will hear Butterfield as an equal not a novice.

 # 15 Big Joe Williams - Wild Cow Moan, You can hear Butterfield's  signature clucking single note tone and clean fast runs. Even his powerful vibrato is evident on this track. I am pretty sure he is using a harmonica in C.

#17  Three Harp Boogie(instrumental). James Cotton, (Muddy's former harp player), and a solo act by this time, and Billy Boy Arnold who is already a successful recording artist with a 1955 Veejay hit I Wish You Would . Butterfield's future bass player, Jerome Arnold is Billy Boy's brother.  Another point that should be mentioned about this track is how impressive it is that both Butterfield, and Elvin Bishop demonstrate that they can hold their own with established blues artists. This is quite a feat for guys who could not have been playing very long.

     If you are a fan of Butterfield's harmonica style this is a great place to start. These tracks are probably his first known recordings. It is inaccurate to think you will witness his playing in its infancy because at 20 years of age, he is advanced. He definitely capable of sitting in with these two veteran harp players.


Friday, November 1, 2013

# 1 In His Own Dream

    #1 In His Own Dream

Music is unique because it appeals to our emotions more than our intellect. It is this quality that makes it a tool used by political groups when they are attempting to socially engineer the masses. In the 1930s Hitler uses Wagner's operas to glorify Germanic legends to motivate the populous toward oppression, and in 1999 New Jersey's Bruce Springsteen performs his American Skin (41 Shots) to protest the killing of unarmed Guinean immigrant by NYC police. Every generation is falls prey to its power; the dynamic is always the same, oppressors and the oppressed use music to unify the converted, and entice the undecided.        
You might consider that the composer of music is the most important person, but this isn't always the case. Most often it is the performance that makes the piece resonate with the listener, not the composer.  Therefore, while every genre has its performing artists who are proficient at their craft, there are artists who go beyond all expectations, and define a new genre of music. The only thing that seems to keep the music of these artists alive is that their work resonates with an audience, and that is more important than any other aspect of the creation process. An example of this scenario is the 1960s sixties singer/songwriter and instrumentalist, Paul Butterfield.
Historian who do not apply their research skills enough often label Butterfield as only a singer who popularized Chicago blues during the nineteen sixties, but this description lacks research and insight. Closer examination shows that he is an artist with a vision of a music that does not fit neatly into any genre, and yet it still resonates with a large international audience. It is possible that this is one reason that the music industry waits twenty-eight years after his death in 1987 to induct him into the coveted Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Paul Butterfield's career as an artist shows that while his contributions to popular music of the nineteen sixties, and seventies are not always clearly defined, they are indeed important. There are very few performers who fit into this category, so his contributions warrant closer examination. Similar to so many other periods of social unrest, the 60s is a decade where the music acts as an indispensible bridge between the call of several groups for a change in the status quo. The efforts of these groups begin twenty years before, and only converge when they tap into the consciousness of the mainstream population. It is a movement which wants to act as mostly a passive aggressive participants, but this goal does not always prove to be practical. It will be the music that serves as the emotional glue and become the soundtrack of the movement.     
Several decades after the fact, most of Paul Butterfield's music still sells, but to fully appreciate his contribution it is useful to put his work in a historical context. His music grows out of a conflict between an oppressor (the social conservatives), and the oppressed (left leaning young adults). This confrontation will begin in the United States during the 1940s, and over the next two decades spread to most countries in the Western world. While the young people are figuratively and literally out-gunned in this confrontation, they do have two important weapons at their disposal, idealism and music. It is here, before he is even born, that the seeds of his music will begin to germinate.    
There are five central groups working in the leftist camp during the 40s and 50s,  they are: the folk revivalist, the beats or beat generation, bebop jazz, the record collectors, and the traditional-jazz fans. These social groups will use music as the rallying cry.
Firstly, just after the second world war there is an innocent square dancing and folk dancing craze developing among young people in New York City. As we will see, it will grow into a social trend, and then explode into a powerful social movement. Twenty years later it will help to catapult Paul Butterfield's music into the international spotlight. Naturally, the music used in this dance craze is folk music, and that should be the end of the story, but it is only the beginning. The performers of this folk music are also artists who are rebelling against current mainstream social values. They hold pro-union, anti-war, left-wing, communist views, and are passively waging  a war with folk music as the weapon of choice. The dancing fad fade, but the music, and its message turns into a new trend; then evolves into a social movement strong enough to cause social conservatives to feel threatened. The core of this group is made up of  people such as  Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Josh White, Burl Ives, Pete Seeger, and the centre piece of the movement, the Weavers. It is when they achieve significant commercial success in 1950 that American folk revival is officially a force for social change.   
The Weavers first hit record will be a simple folk song, Lead Belly's Good Night Irene, then even more success with Woody Guthrie's Kisses Sweeter than Wine. These two hits will begin a string of mainstream hits for the next five years. As this folk revival gains popularity in the mainstream radio market, many of the left leaning politicians see an opportunity for votes, and attach themselves to the movement. However, the rise of these communist sympathizers frightens the right wing politicians who launch a counter attack.
In the early 50s, the cold war is on, and a second Red Scare is instituted by anti-leftist proponents. They tell the FBI that the Pete Seeger of the Weavers is a communist, then speculate that most of the other folksingers are also communists. This anti-left group insist that these artists be subject to blacklisting.(blacklisting is not reserved just for folksingers, but ruins the careers of many entertainers in the 50s) The assault on the reputations of the folksingers removes all their national television, radio and other high profile work opportunities, and  most are financially crippled with unemployable. This attack on the voices of the folk revival should be the end of the movement, but the right wing tactic does not work.  
Out of work, many of the musicians migrate to cheaper rents, and friendlier neighbor in the bohemian neighborhood of  lower Manhattan's Greenwich Village. It is here that they congregate in coffee houses, house parties, hootenannies, other venues open to their ideas. This is where the folk revival, and its leftist agenda will regain strength, spread to almost every university, artist community across the nation, travel north throughout Canada, and then branch out to most countries in the western world. It will also will give birth to the singer songwriter, and become the soundtrack for the protest movements such as , the anti war movement, the American civil rights movement, women's movement to name only a few.   
The folk revival also gives birth to Paul Butterfield's music. He grows up in the cosmopolitan, middle class neighbourhood of Chicago's Hyde Park which surrounds the University of Chicago, and like so many other university neighborhoods across the country, the message of folk revival is very prominent in the community. However, for Butterfield, and many of the other young Chicago musicians there is a conflict with some of the artistic demands made by the folkies. The revival is fairly strong at this point, and it has its self appointed leaders; they expect folk music to be played acoustically using traditional instruments. These self appointed curators are called folk purists (folk Nazis in some circles), and they do not approve of electric instrumentation. However, Butterfield is most interested in the electric blues played in the ghetto clubs of Chicago's Southside. It is here that he learns to play authentic blues from the masters of the genre, forms an electric blues band, and hones his performing skills.
So, when Butterfield and his band make their debut at 1965s chapter of the Newport Folk Festival, the supreme leaders of the folk revival are outraged. Many of the board members will shutter, and go to great lengths to block Butterfield's appearance at the festival. ( it will be fellow folk singer Peter Yarrow who will sway the board.)  Then, after his outrageous performance, the darling of the acoustic folk revival, Bob Dylan, borrows Butterfield's electric band, and continues the assault on tradition. These memorable performances will place Butterfield in the history books, and catapult him into the international limelight as the person who successfully bridges the gap between folk, blues and rock. Folk music will never be the same after the  July weekend in 1965. Bob Dylan's electric performance tends to get the most press, but many eye witness' still claim that Butterfield's performance at Newport is still considered as the highlight of the festival. Most of the songs Butterfield's band perform at the festival are standard blues, but it is the energy and sincerity of the performances that resonates with the audience. It  also sends a signal to the older folk purists that the music is moving in a new direction.   
The Newport performances also establish Butterfield as a young progressive artist, open to ideas from a variety of sources; so, it isn't surprising that he adapts the sensibly of the second group to  his music. In the 40s, a group of young Columbia University students gather with the explicit intention of launching their own attack on the what they view as the hypocrisy of mainstream American values. Their weapon will not be simple folk songs, but rather the written word. The core members of this group are Herbert Huncke, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, and Jack Kerouac; they will launch a social movement which is still active today. Kerouac will name their group the beats, (later the beat generation), they will create a very detailed list of social changes they want realized.
The beats reject the standard narrative of values set by the corporate elite, they believe in: maintaining a spiritual quest, pursuing and exploring American and Eastern religions, rejecting materialism, promoting the explicit portrayals of the human condition, supporting experimentation with psychedelic drugs, and promoting sexual liberation. Ironically, in spite of the fact that the members are students at Columbia University, they are also anti-academic too. The mainstream of the late 1940s and 50s consider these demands not only leftist, but also blatantly immoral. Similar to members of the folk revival, the beats will seek refuge in the security of Greenwich Village too. It is here that they will develop their message, gain followers and launch the beat generation.   
By the late 50s, the beat movement is evolving into an important social force, not just in the United States, but in several western countries. The social right label them a bunch of bohemian hedonists, but hip young people love their message. Some examples of  the beat influence are: The Beatles name themselves after the beats (Les Beats), rock artists like Jim Morrison, John Lennon and Bono acknowledge them as major influences on their music; movies will be made about them; beatniks will become a name for a cheap corporate stereotype found in everything from Saturday morning cartoons to prime time television comedies, and of course they will act as the fathers of the 1960s hippie movement. Butterfield feels their influence, adopting  many of their attitudes through his use of language, stage closes, stage demeanor, and his urban hillbilly haircut. However, the biggest influence the beats have on Paul Butterfield is their choice of music, bebop.
The soundtrack to the beat generation isn't folk, but jazz, and more specifically, bebop jazz.  The bebop musicians too have an axe to grind with the establishment, but it doesn't have the same social scope of the beats. In the 1940s, young jazz musicians Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, and few others are weary of the creative stagnation within mainstream big band swing, and they set out to create an alternative to that artistic establishment. They conclude that music must not be restrained by the artistic confines of danceable commercial tunes created by big swing bands; they call their new music bebop. Their new music will allow musicians the freedom to:  play faster tempos, explore advanced harmonies and complex syncopation, use altered chords and chord substitutions, use asymmetrical phrasing, or intricate melodies, and free them to reduce the instruments in a band to saxophone trumpet, piano, double bass and drums. When the beats hear this bebop philosophy they see it as a perfect fit for their own initiative, and attach their movement to the music. In fact, they are so enthralled with bebop that they write novels in the style of bebop solos. Some examples of this style can be found in: Allen Ginsberg's, Howl (1956) , William S. Burroughs' Naked Lunch (1959), and Jack Kerouac's On the Road (1957).
Paul Butterfield has a dream of a new music too, one that does not recognize racial barriers or musical boundaries, so the combination of the beat philosophy, and the bebop approach to music will have the biggest influence on his own work in the 60s. It will inspire him to write, perform and record music which is predicated on experimentation; his band will write and perform the centre piece of the psychedelic movement, East/West. He will also thumb his nose at the quest for mainstream approval by not obsessing over the two minute pop single, and concentrate on improvised bebop based music. He will also hire several talented jazz musicians who will become important members of the music community for several decades. In addition, when Butterfield arrives on the 1960s music scene, no one before has used a diatonic harmonica as lead instrument in a horn based band. He will be the first musician to perform, and record the  bebop influenced music on the tiny instrument. As a result of his approach to music in the 60s, he and several musicians from his band will set the benchmark for musicianship in blues, folk and rock during the 60s, 70s, and 80s. In retrospect, these may seem quaint accomplishments, but in the context of the period, they are subversive and results have been incredibly influential.
As many parents will attest, young people of modest means can be very resourceful in their quest to challenge authority. As an example, the fourth group to influence Paul Butterfield's music are the record collectors. They too are rebelling against the mainstream values, and will use recordings of  African-American blues as their weapon of choice. Recorded music on vinyl discs is not new in the late 50s, vinyl LPs (long play) first appear in the 1940s, but those discs are in mono format. Stereophonic sound makes its debut to the mainstream market in 1958, and immediately becomes very popular with coming of age baby boomers. Record labels recognize the social dynamic so they develop a marketing strategy which will focus on releasing reissues of old blues records. The plethora of reissues entices young people to start collecting, and then a minority of these people see their own opportunity and use records to further their cause.     
Many of these collectors are artists who live, or congregate in and around  Greenwich Village, and they develop an obsession with record collecting the way some people might collect stamps and insects.  They already have a passion for blues, more specifically old blues from the early decades of the century, so the new hobby is a good fit.  In the late 50s, the key person in this trend is white blues singer/guitarist, Dave Von Ronk. His spirit, music, and ability to lead becomes so influential in the neighborhood that New York music critic bestows upon him the very prestigious title of the musical mayor of MacDougal Street.  
Von Ronk  his fellow collectors reason: if an artist's obscurity is a product of an unfair mainstream corporate establishment, then he is deserving of some long overdue recognition. For example, Jack Kerouac's manuscript On the Road is rejected by publishers, and therefore warrants attention, Van Gogh does not sell any paintings during his life time, he too warrants attention. When this attitude is applied to blues music, artists such as: Mississippi John Hurt, Skip James, Reverend Gary Davis, Son House, Fred McDowell, will be offered a second chance at a career with a unexpected audience. This attitude toward African-American blues, and the recording establishment will spread throughout western countries during the 60s, influencing many careers in the process. It is a passive aggressive anti-establishment initiative that will permeate the sensibility of rebellious young adults during the late 50s, and 60s, and remain active well into the 70s.
This trend of searching out over looked artists, and bringing their music to a new audience in an effort to offer them a second chance is very prominent in the 1960s folk festival circuit.  Folk festivals advertize new finds, and more established artists make their own influences known, and publically endorse older artists, for example, Van Morrison (John Lee Hooker), Bonnie Raitt (Fred McDowell), Eric Clapton (Robert Johnson), and many others show regular support for the often forgotten singers of the past. The trend also gives Paul Butterfield an opportunity to acknowledge his teachers too. He spends his whole career promoting mentors like Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Chuck Berry, Smokie Smothers, and Bo Diddley, by recording and performing with them. While the trend does seem to have calculated element to it, many interpret it as a sincere act of giving back to the people who inspire you to choose your career. It is a trend which is still very active in 2015 as Joe Bonamassa recently released a tribute album to Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. 
The final social group to have a major influence on Paul Butterfield's music comes from an unlikely source, young conformists in Great Britain. The traditional jazz group or trad-jazz people are similar to the purists in the American folk revival movement because they are consumed with the idea of tradition, but that is where their similarity ends. Ironically, they will be unlikely instigators of the loud, aggressive 1960s blues revival, and inadvertently help catapult Paul Butterfield onto the international stage. These trad-jazz people think of  jazz and blues as originating in New Orleans. In their minds the fathers of this music are artists such as King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong, and because of geography, they possess a blatantly naive image the African-American bluesman. They will paint an image of blues and the people who interpret it that survives to this day.
The beginning of their influence is 1950s London where there are active trad-jazz musicians like Roy Barber and Lonnie Donegan. They play jazz and blues in around London and on the side, promote tours of  American blues singers like Big Bill Broonzy, Terry and McGee, Muddy Waters. In the late 50s, Donegan scores a hit record with Lead Belly's Rock Island Line, and he leaves Barber's outfit to pursue a solo career. (Donegan will pioneer music which influences bands like the Beatles; it's called Skiffle.)
When Donegan leaves Barber's band, he is replaced by Alexis  Korner. As the amplified sounds of rock 'n' roll invade the mainstream airwaves, Korner changes the name of his band to Blues Incorporated and replaces band members with younger musicians, most of whom will become rock royalty in the 60s. For our purposes, the important additions to Korner's band are Charlie Watts on drums, Mick Jagger on vocals, Brian Jones on guitar and harmonica, Bill Wyman on bass, and finally Keith Richards on guitar. Together they form an electric blues band with a near obsessive interest in music from Chess records in Chicago. They will name their band after a Muddy Waters song, Rolling Stone, and the Rolling Stones are born. Many historians point to the Rolling Stones as the key band of the 1960s blues revival.
The Rolling Stones and specifically Jagger and Richards do deserve recognition for ushering in both a new era of white blues artists, but they also promote a very naive image of the music and the people who perform it. Unfortunately, Jagger and Richards see the image of the African-American bluesman as: male, surrounded in sex, drugs, he has a prickly personality, is often violent, passionate, wild, angry and he plays outlaw music. Notice two things, firstly the gender, they do not think of blues as a female art form, and secondly, they introduce the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll philosophy. It may seem like a calculated promotion on their part, but unlike Butterfield and his Chicago peers, they are probably just victims of their own fantasies.   
The main reason Jagger and Richards are given any broad attention is because of their success in the mainstream pop music world. When they arrive in America in 1964, their popularity with white middle class teenagers affords them a massive platform to promote their own romantic idea of the blues, and they take full advantage of the opportunity. They are obsessed with the artists, the romantic culture of blues that they will tell anyone willing to listen of their undivided love for it.  It is their promotion of the music that will set in motion the 1960s blues revival by taking the music from the periphery of American society to the middle of mainstream American culture. This is where Paul Butterfield and most other American blues singers benefit the most.
Paul Butterfield, and Mike Bloomfield are similar to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards in that they are similar in age, socio-economic background, and love for blues, but as interpreters of the genre, they are very different.  As mentioned above, Butterfield and Bloomfield don't learn to play blues from old records, but rather, as native Chicagoans, they travel to the ghetto bars on the Southside of Chicago, where blues is part of the daily social fabric. While there, they become close enough with some of the most respected interpreters of genre that they are afforded personalize lessons from artists like Muddy Waters and Little Walter.  Jagger and Richards share none of that important experience, and consequently know little of the cultural nuances that Butterfield and Bloomfield understand.  It is this important education that allows Butterfield and Bloomfield to take the genre of  Chicago blues to its next logical position in history. Bloomfield will hold the title of America's first guitar idol, and Butterfield will go on to be the most commercially successful, respected white blues interpreter of 60s. If it were not for efforts of the Rolling Stones to bring American blues into the mainstream, audiences may never recognized the authenticity in Paul Butterfield's performances.
Contrary to popular myth, by the mid-60s, African-American blues has lost much of its native audience. The civil rights movement is in full swing, and many African-Americans view blues as part of their painful past. Also, there are younger African-American R. & B. artists like Ray Charles who are catering to a growing middle class, so blues is dying out in most communities. Art like language must keep changing to stay alive, and while the well intentioned folk revival goes to great pains to preserve the art form, it inadvertently does not encourage a natural growth. Paul Butterfield and a handful of other white, middle class American musicians  show the folk purists, and the racist mainstream music industry that blues is very much alive. No other white artist of his generation has been able to demonstrate the ability to bridge all cultural expectations, and prove that race does not have to be a barrier to create great music.
Music is just a collection of sounds, even when those sounds are organized, it doesn't always tap into our emotions; it's the performance that resonates with us the most. It is during our coming of age years, when our emotions tend to be most vulnerable, and our ears are their biggest, that the music becomes part of our identity. The decade between 1965 and 1975 is a time of tremendous social and political unrest and when music acts as an important bridge between the various groups fighting for these changes. However, it is most often the performers who play the biggest roles in this music. The coming blogs will look how Paul Butterfield's music became an important part of that soundtrack.