Monday, January 6, 2014

# 18 The Matrix

    As I write about the recorded performances Paul Butterfield makes during his career, I'm realize just how much great blues/rock music is being performed in very small, almost invisible clubs during the sixties. It reminds me of the era when the folk singer/songwriters hold court in Greenwich Village. Tiny venues like The Gaslight, Cafe Wha?, and Gerties Folk City showcase artists who will go on to change the direction of popular music.

   By the mid-sixties, there are small music venues in every city, catering to fans of young artists who are blending folk, country and blues with the electric volume and energy found in rock. When Bill Graham starts promoting concerts at The Fillmore in 1965, the size of the venue is an enormous coup for so many unheard artists, but there is still a growth in the smaller clubs.

   As an example, not far from The Fillmore Auditorium is The Matrix at 3130 Fillmore Street. It is a 50 by 80 foot, renovated pizza shop with a 10 foot ceiling at the front of the room which graduates to 20 feet at the back. One wall has a huge mural of The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, all of them carrying musical instruments, and the back wall has a little window which leads to a galley kitchen for the preparation of snacks. The Matrix is so tiny, it's difficult to imagine how the owners manage to fit some tables with chairs, and also include a dance floor. If you are concluding that the stage must be tiny, you are correct.

   In spite of the size of the venue, a huge list of soon to be famous artists make their public debut at The Matrix. The Jefferson Airplane are one of the first band's to work the nightclub. They even feature the inside of the place on their 1967 release, Surrealistic Pillow. In addition, The Grateful Dead, Howlin' Wolf, The Doors, Hot Tuna, Santana are among the many other bands who play the club, some even record albums there.

   Of course, when touring the West Coast, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band plays The Matrix too. Fortunately for us, in December of 1966, someone records the band performing an excellent set, some songs familiar to fans, and others are more obscure. The band is definitely moving away from playing standard Chicago Blues and experimenting with a hybrid of Rhythm and Blues material. The sound quality is fair to good, but the performances are excellent! I notice that Butterfield is in pretty good spirits during this performance as he engages the audience in  some of his wry humour.

1) This is a standard shuffle featuring keyboard work from Naftalin - Excellent solo!
2) This is a standard slow instrumental blues featuring intense guitar solo from Elvin Bishop.
3) This is another shuffle featuring Bishop. No sign of Butterfield or Bloomfield yet.
4) Butterfield arrives, and introduces I feel So Bad. Butterfield on vocals, No harmonica. Sound is a little       rough.
5) Driftin' Blues. This will become a standard for the band, but this version is a very different format than the others. Butterfield performs with a strong vocals, and uses acoustic harp.
6) This is the track which I include below, 300 Pounds of Heavenly Joy dedicated to Louis Myers. Butterfield on vocals, no harmonica. Probably one of the stronger tracks.
7) Reconsider Baby, No Butterfield on this track. Elvin Bishop on vocals and blistering guitar solo by Bloomfield.
8) I don't know what the title of this track is so I call it Elvin's Blues. Slow blues, Bloomfield on guitar,
9) Get Out of My Life Woman, Butterfield on vocals.
10) One More Heartache, No harmonica solo on this version. I think it's the first Butterfield version I've heard with no harmonica solo.
11) Midnight Hour, unknown vocalist, not Bishop or Butterfield. It might be Arnold?? The band does backing vocals and Bloomfield provides the guitar solo.
12) Walkin' By Myself, Butterfield plays some great fluid harp, and vocals!
13) Born in Chicago, Butterfield cracks the joke as he is introducing the song written by the "great" Nick Gravenites, and then says Born in Sonora. More up tempo than the studio version, and Bloomfield is really playing well tonight!
14) Mojo Workin' , Butterfield wryly introduces the song as Melancholy Baby, but then they swing into a very up tempo and funky version of I Got My Mojo Workin.



No comments: