of his success. There are still royalty checks for album sales, as well as a growing demand him as session musician. His name alone is capable of selling albums for any artist willing to pay for his time, and with the possible exception of Nashville's Charlie McCoy, the Paul Butterfield sound is the most recognizable harmonica in the world. Looking at the names of the artists he is recording with during the seventies, you can see he is contributing to projects by some of the Young Turks of the roots movement: Jesse Winchester, Stella Parton (yes Dolly's sister), Hungry Chuck, the Fabulous Rhinestones, Nick Jameson, Hoyt Axton, Happy and Artie Traum, Peter Yarrow, Geoff and Maria Muldaur, Eric Von Schmidt, Tim Hardin, Bobby Charles, Bonnie Raitt, Shel Silverstein to name a few. However, session work alone will not pay for his new lifestyle, and Grossman's business is dependent on his artists generating revenue. So, in spite of his resentment toward Grossman, he knows that building a new band, and getting back on the road will be essential to his survival.
he demands that his name is not given mention in the name of his new band. Geoff Muldaur comes up the band name Success, and with Butterfield's approval they even have his Kathy Butterfield do the promotional stills, but Grossman scuttles the idea. He and his assistant manager Paul Fishkin insist the name must change. They see the Butterfield name as marketing tool, and naturally want to capitalize on this fact. Grossman then asserts his authority, by informing Butterfield that in addition to the band name change, there is a stipulation of his own regarding the quarter million advance from Warner. He tells him that under no circumstances can he divide the money between his band members. Grossman's position is that he does not represent the band, he represents Paul Butterfield. It is yet another confrontation with his manager that Butterfield loses. He doesn't take instruction easily, and is now being told, not asked, by his boss to buckle under, and adapt to company policy. So, in the end, the new band will include the Butterfield name, he will not share his advance, and he will do as requested. It is another possible trigger that sets Butterfield in different more self destructive direction.
become strategically withdrawn from the front lines. He assigns the Butterfield account to his young business associate, Paul Fishkin which irks Butterfield even more. What happens next can be interpreted as an act of inexperience on Fishkin's part, or an indirect assertion of authority from the boss, either way, what happens next will serve as yet another possible trigger for Butterfield to choose a more self-destructive path, With the album finished, the group embarked on a punishing sixty-date tour of the states that confused many promoters: Was this the Paul Butterfield they knew or a totally new entity? Or What? That whole thing was the worst of Albert, says Paul Fishkin. He managed them, but he wanted to show Butter that he could be Albert. So he did his classic thing of forcing the promoters to pay high guarantees. He pissed off everybody, and he did it because was Albert. Regardless who is at fault back at head office, the decision to put Better Days out on a grueling tour not respectful treatment of an artist with Butterfield's age and profile. However, he will reluctantly rise to the occasion, proving to his boss that he can still be an earner.
naturally appeals to listeners with big ears. Geoff Muldaur recalls the first tour , it was a real different crowd for me, we had a bit of the Dylan problem in that I'd always played for the folkies, and Paul's group was the wine and reds set. And we played for a lot more of Paul's crowd, and sometimes the music was little confusing to them. It was the only time in my life a chick in the audience would get up and take her clothes off! Butterfield loves to perform on stage, so the tour is an opportunity for him to temporarily forget about his pent up resentments toward Grossman, and the industry in general, but he is growing tired of the expectations on him.
Even bands that claim they are democratic organizations usually defer the role of leader to one member, (the Band does this with Robertson). Butterfield tells everyone, including Grossman that Better Days to be a more egalitarian group, but he is the obvious leader. As Chris Parker tells Butterfield chronicler Tom Ellis in '95 We would talk about the feel of songs endlessly. On a lot the trips the band would fly, but Paul and I would drive, sometimes with Geoff, and 'the feel' of a song was always the topic of conversation or the backdrop to our conversations. Getting to the real feel, the heart of the song, the groove of the song. Paul used to say, 'You've got to take it to the bottom with it.' He was always playing things for me, at his house or mine, too. He was looking the emotional essence of a song, the point it really went to your heart, picked you up by the throat and grabbed you. Geoff was like this too.
but also because of his stage experience. Remember, at the Woodstock festival, he performs in front of half million people, no one in Better Days has this kind of experience. The larger audiences and more focused media attention requires a public calm which Butterfield has earned, but for everyone else in the band each show is a learning experience.
American entertainment industry, that position is rapidly shifting to California, and more specifically, Los Angeles. So, the fact that the industry is embracing Better Days is quite an endorsement. Also, judging by the local reviews of the day, California audiences really do love Paul Butterfield's Better Days! The band is popular enough that they appear on the new internationally syndicated musical variety television show Burt Sugarman's: the Midnight Special. The September 28th 1973 episode is hosted by pop artists Seals and Crofts (Summer Breeze), and Better Days performs New Walkin' Blues/ Broke My Baby's Heart. Then they appear on multiple Emmy Award winning Merv Griffin Show. Finally, the crowning achievement for any artist, and in particular a blues band, is to have your own television special. In the spring of '73 the PBS affiliate in L.A. hires, young producer/director Taylor Hackford to present The Paul Butterfield / Bonnie Raitt Show on KCET. These gigs can be interpreted as Paul Butterfield's unofficial arrival in mainstream pop music.
Stay tuned for part three....