Sunday, June 29, 2014

# 51 Eric Von Schmidt and Paul Butterfield

    During the early sixties Butterfield has a small group of followers on who hang out at Chicago's Near North Side's bohemian club Big John's, but he isn't much more than a passing fancy in the South Side clubs. Even after he becomes a national artist, very few talk about him in the South Side blues clubs.

   This lack of recognition on the South Side is fine with Butterfield though; he doesn't feel any real attachment to the scene anyway. To be honest, I didn't think that much of the whole Chicago scene back then. I was just interested in learning how to play. (Muretich)

    However, he does have a loyal following on the East Coast, mostly among the Cambridge Folk Scene. A couple of years later he will develop a following among the counter culture Rock movement growing out of San Francisco, and then during the '70's become a fixture in the Woodstock artist community, but it is Cambridge that serves his artistic development best. He will record with a few artists from the area, one of whom is Eric Von Schmidt.

    Von Schmidt has two careers, one as a singer/songwriter and another as an acclaimed artist. During the sixties he collects, writes, and performs traditional folk songs. During his artistic journey he influences several other young artists, Tom Rush, and Bob Dylan are only a couple.

    He is also credited, although erroneously, with writing the Dylan staple Baby, Let Me Follow Down, but according to Von Schmidt, he only adapted the song from a Blind Boy Fuller composition, and he credits three quarters of that song to Reverend Gary Davis. However, in partnership with author, and influential music producer, Jim Rooney, he is credited as the co-author of the really excellent history of the Cambridge Folk Scene, Baby, Let Me Follow You Down.

   He will go on to create paintings for the album covers of Joan Baez, Cisco Huston, Reverend Gary Davis, and Geoff and Maria Muldaur. He will also earn a Grammy for his Anthology of American Folk Music, Vol. 1-3. In addition, Butterfield will record his brooding blues Rule the Road on his first Better Days album.

   Eric Von Schmidt's sixth album release is 2nd Right 3rd Row, it features great stylists such as Amos Garrett on a number of string instruments, including bird calls, Garth Hudson on organ, liner notes by Bob Dylan, and some very soulful harmonica by Paul Butterfield.


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