The Blues Project iTunes Tracks

The Blues Project

Formed in the hub of the folk movement in 1965 around Greenwich Village, NY; by guitarist Danny Kalb and drummer Roy Blumenfeld, The BLUES PROJECT were almost immediately joined by singer Tommy Flanders and guitarist Steve Katz (a refugee from The EVEN DOZEN JUG BAND who replaced short-lived member ARTIE TRAUM) and last in the door, bassist/flautist Andy Kulberg. Up and coming session hustler Al Kooper (straight from recording organ licks with DYLAN on his `Highway 61 Revisited’ set) rounded off a line-up which eventually inked a deal with Verve Folkways, after sessions at Columbia Records proved fruitless.
The self-descriptive LIVE AT THE CAFÉ AU GO GO (1966) {*6} was a unique release. And having let go of Flanders during its recording, the band were required to take up lead vocal positions, although the aforesaid singer himself appeared. With only two proper folk ditties on show (DONOVAN’s `Catch The Wind’ and ERIC ANDERSEN’s `Violets Of Dawn’), the record was indeed a “Blues Project” after all; the tracks in evidence re-treads from MUDDY WATERS, WILLIE DIXON, HOWLIN’ WOLF, CHUCK BERRY, BO DIDDLEY and Kulberg’s sole original, `The Way My Baby Walks’.
More representative of the band’s talent was the sophomore, Tom Wilson-produced studio set, PROJECTIONS (1966) {*8}, an ambitious album drawing aural inspiration from country-blues, jazz and folk. Featuring the dual vocals of Katz and Kooper, the record stayed in the album charts for around nine months (peaking at No.52). By and large it was a tasty piece of aural history spawning great stuff such as the psych-folk `Flute Thing’, BOB LIND’s `Cheryl’s Goin’ Home’, CHUCK BERRY’s `You Can’t Catch Me’ and two organ-laden Kooper classics, `I Can’t Keep From Crying’ and `Wake Me, Shake Me’.
Due to the imminent departure of the legendary Al Kooper (who formed the mighty soul/jazz-fusion act, BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS), the rush-released third set, …LIVE AT TOWN HALL (1967) {*5}, was an underwhelming effort marred by overdubbed applause (on studio outtakes), an indication that the band’s musical eclecticism was taking them in opposing directions rather than galvanising their sound.
The inevitable split came in 1968; BS&T-bound Katz had returned to the fold on a temp basis after going awol for a few months. Dead but not quite buried, The BLUES PROJECT – with the addition of guitarist John Gregory and ex-JIM KWESKIN JUG BAND violinist Richard Greene – salvaged something, if not pride, via studio set number two, PLANNED OBSOLESCENCE (1968) {*4}; check out their takes of JOEY REYNOLDS’ `Endless Sleep’ and Rudy Clarke’s `If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody’.
Fully resurrected in the early 70s by founding members Kulberg and Blumenfeld, the new BLUES PROJECT – with Don Kretmar – delivered the equally dismal LAZARUS (1971) {*4} as their comeback set for Capitol Records; the aforementioned pair subsequently taking off to form SEATRAIN. Alongside Kalb and Blumenfeld, Flanders – plus other temps – was then invited back to take up the slack for the following year’s eponymous effort, THE BLUES PROJECT {*3}, which precipitating a second split. Incredibly, the band thought it was worth one more effort and even hooked up with Kooper once more to bring us The ORIGINAL BLUES PROJECT’s REUNION AT CENTRAL PARK (1973) {*5}; not too bad in fact, although a tad out of time and place.
© MC Strong 2000-2010/GRD-GFD // rev-up MCS Jun2017-Aug2019

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