Mike Bloomfield – A Retrospective (1983)

FrontCover1Michael Bloomfield was one of America’s first great white blues guitarists, earning his reputation on the strength of his work in the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. His expressive, fluid solo lines and prodigious technique graced many other projects — most notably Bob Dylan’s earliest electric forays — and he also pursued a solo career, with variable results. Uncomfortable with the reverential treatment afforded a guitar hero, Bloomfield tended to shy away from the spotlight after spending just a few years in it; he maintained a lower-visibility career during the ’70s due to his distaste for fame and his worsening drug problems, which claimed his life in 1981.

Michael Bernard Bloomfield was born July 28, 1943, into a well-off Jewish family on Chicago’s North Side. A shy, awkward loner as a child, he became interested in music through the Southern radio stations he was able to pick up at night, which gave him a regular source for rockabilly, R&B, and blues. He received his first guitar at his bar mitzvah and he and his friends began sneaking out to hear electric blues on the South Side’s fertile club scene (with the help of their families’ maids). The young Bloomfield sometimes jumped on-stage to jam with the musicians and the novelty of such a spectacle soon made him a prominent scenester. Dismayed with the turn his education was taking, his parents sent him to a private boarding school on the East Coast in 1958 and he eventually graduated from a Chicago school for troubled youth. By this time, he’d embraced the beatnik subculture, frequenting hangout spots near the University of Chicago. He got a job managing a folk club and frequently booked veteran acoustic bluesmen; in the meantime, he was also playing guitar as a session man and around the Chicago club scene with several different bands.

Bloomfield01In 1964, Bloomfield was discovered through his session work by the legendary John Hammond, who signed him to CBS; however, several recordings from 1964 went unreleased as the label wasn’t sure how to market a white American blues guitarist. In early 1965, Bloomfield joined several associates in the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, a racially integrated outfit with a storming, rock-tinged take on Chicago’s urban electric blues sound. The group’s self-titled debut for Elektra, released later that year, made them a sensation in the blues community and helped introduce white audiences to a less watered-down version of the blues. Individually, Bloomfield’s lead guitar work was acclaimed as a perfectly logical bridge between Chicago blues and contemporary rock. Later, in 1965, Bloomfield was recruited for Bob Dylan’s new electrified backing band; he was a prominent presence on the groundbreaking classic Highway 61 Revisited and he was also part of Dylan’s epochal plugged-in performance at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. In the meantime, Bloomfield was developing an interest in Eastern music, particularly the Indian raga form, and his preoccupation exerted a major influence on the next Butterfield album, 1966’s East-West. Driven by Bloomfield’s jaw-dropping extended solos on his instrumental title cut, East-West merged blues, jazz, world music, and psychedelic rock in an unprecedented fashion. The Butterfield band became a favorite live act on the emerging San Francisco music scene and in 1967, Bloomfield quit the group to permanently relocate there and pursue new projects.

Charlie Musselwhite, Michael Bloomfield, Paul Butterfield (1964)

Bloomfield quickly formed a new band called the Electric Flag with longtime Chicago cohort Nick Gravenites on vocals. The Electric Flag was supposed to build on the innovations of East-West and accordingly featured an expanded lineup complete with a horn section, which allowed the group to add soul music to their laundry list of influences. The Electric Flag debuted at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival and issued a proper debut album, A Long Time Comin’, in 1968. Critics complimented the group’s distinctive, intriguing sound, but found the record itself somewhat uneven. Unfortunately, the band was already disintegrating; rivalries between members and shortsighted management — not to mention heroin abuse — all took their toll. Bloomfield himself left the band he’d formed before their album was even released. He next hooked up with organist Al Kooper, whom he’d played with in the Dylan band, and cut Super Session, a jam-oriented record that spotlighted his own guitar skills on one half and those of Stephen Stills on the other. Issued in 1968, it received excellent reviews and moreover became the best-selling album of Bloomfield’s career. Super Session’s success led to a sequel, The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper, which was recorded over three shows at the Fillmore West in 1968 and released the following year; it featured Bloomfield’s on-record singing debut.


Bloomfield, however, was wary of his commercial success and growing disenchanted with fame. He was also tired of touring and after recording the second album with Kooper, he effectively retired for a while, at least from high-profile activities. He did, however, continue to work as a session guitarist and producer, and also began writing and playing on movie soundtracks (including some pornographic films by the Mitchell Brothers). He played locally and occasionally toured with Bloomfield and Friends, which included Nick Gravenites and ex-Butterfield mate Mark Naftalin.

Additionally, he returned to the studio in 1973 for a session with John Hammond and New Orleans pianist Dr. John; the result, Triumvirate, was released on Columbia, but didn’t make much of a splash. Neither did Bloomfield’s 1974 reunion with Electric Flag and neither did KGB, a short-lived supergroup with Barry Goldberg, Rik Grech (Traffic), and Carmine Appice that recorded for MCA in 1976. During the late ’70s, Bloomfield recorded for several smaller labels (including Takoma), usually in predominantly acoustic settings; through Guitar Player magazine, he also put out an instructional album with a vast array of blues guitar styles, titled If You Love These Blues, Play ‘Em as You Please.

Bloomfield04Unfortunately, Bloomfield was also plagued by alcoholism and heroin addiction for much of the ’70s, which made him an unreliable concert presence and slowly cost him some of his longtime musical associations (as well as his marriage).

By 1980, he had seemingly recovered enough to tour in Europe; that November, he also appeared on-stage in San Francisco with Bob Dylan for a rendition of “Like a Rolling Stone.” However, on February 15, 1981, Bloomfield was found dead in his car of a drug overdose; he was only 37.

And this much more than a great compilation of his work (including unreleased material) …

This is a wonderful collection of tracks from the great blues musician, interspersed with interview segments


01. Mike Bloomfield: I’ve Got My Mojo Working (Foster) 2.30
02. Mike Bloomfield: Interview Segment 0.45
03. Newport Folk Festival Introduction (by Peter Yarrow) 1.05
04. Paul Butterfield Blues Band: Born in Chicago (Gravenites) 4.00
05. Electric Flag: Texas  (Bloomfield/Miles) 4.48
06. Mike Bloomfield:: Interview Segment 1.45
07. Electric Flag: Groovin’ Easy (Polte) 3.00
08. Electric Flag:  Killing Floor (Burnett) 4.11
09. Electric Flag: You Don’t Realize (Bloomfield) 4.48
10. Electric Flag: Wine (Traditional) 3.15
11. Mike Bloomfield: Interview Segment 0.44
12. Mike Bloomfield & Al Kooper: Albert’s Shuffle (Bloomfield/Kooper) 6.43
13. Mike Bloomfield & Al Kooper: Stop (Ragavoy/Shuman) 4.13
14. Mike Bloomfield & Al Kooper: I Wonder Who (Charles) 6.06
15. Mike Bloomfield: Interview Segment 0.21
16. Nick Gravenites: You’re Killing My Love (Gravenites) 5.09
17. Mike Bloomfield: Goofers (Bloomfield) 1.48
18. Mike Bloomfield, John P. Hammond & Dr. John: It Hurts Me Too (London) 3.45
19. Mike Bloomfield:  Relaxin’ Blues : Blues for Jimmy Yancey, Sunnyland Slim and Otis Spann (Bloomfield) 5.40
20. Mike Bloomfield: Woodyard Street (Blommfield)  3.07
21. Mike Bloomfield: Midnight on My Radio (Bloomfield)  2.54
22. Mike Bloomfield: Why Lord Why? (Bloomfield) 2.46
23. Mike Bloomfield: Easy Rider (Tradtional)  0.51

** (coming soon)


Mike Bloomfield performs with his quartet on stage at the Rivoli Theater in Indianapolis on June 2, 1973. In later years, Bloomfield preferred to work with a small group in unassuming places like the Rivoli, Catalyst and My Father’s Place. The following piece captures Mike in two exceptional performances at the latter clubs. Photo by Steve Rusin


Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper & Steve Stills – Super Sessions (1968)

FrontCover1Super Session is an album conceived by Al Kooper and featuring the work of guitarists Mike Bloomfield and Stephen Stills, released on Columbia Records in 1968, CS 9701. Bloomfield and Stills do not play together on the album, with tracks including Bloomfield on side one, and those including Stills on side two. It peaked at #12 on the Billboard 200, and has been certified a gold record by the RIAA.

Kooper and Bloomfield had previously worked together on the sessions for the ground-breaking classic Highway 61 Revisited by Bob Dylan, as well as playing in support of his controversial appearance at the Newport Folk Festival in July 1965. Kooper had recently left Blood, Sweat & Tears after recording their debut album with them, and was now working as an A&R man for Columbia. Bloomfield was about to leave Electric Flag, and at relative loose ends. Kooper telephoned Bloomfield to see if he was free to come down to the studio and jam; Bloomfield agreed, leaving Kooper to handle the arrangements.

Kooper booked two days of studio time in May 1968, and recruited keyboardist Barry Goldberg and bassist Harvey Brooks, both members of the Electric Flag, along with well-known session drummer “Fast” Eddie Hoh. On the first day, the quintet recorded a group of mostly blues-based instrumental tracks, including a modal excursion “His Holy Modal Majesty”, a tribute to the late John Coltrane that was also reminiscent of “East-West” from the second Butterfield Blues Band album. On the second day, with the tapes ready to roll, Bloomfield did not show up.


Needing to have something to show for the second day of sessions, to sit in for Bloomfield, Kooper hastily called upon Stephen Stills, also in the process of leaving his band Buffalo Springfield. Regrouping behind Stills, Kooper’s session men cut mostly vocal tracks, including “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry” from Highway 61 and a lengthy and atmospheric take of “Season of the Witch” by Donovan.

Some overdubbed horns were later added while the album was being mixed, and sales worth a gold record award were garnered from an album which cost just $13,000 to make. The success of this record opened the door for the “supergroup” concept of the late 1960s and 1970s — Blind Faith, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and the like. Kooper forgave Bloomfield, and the two of them made several concert appearances after the album was released. The results of one of those became the album The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper.

On April 8, 2003, Legacy Records reissued the album for compact disc with four bonus tracks, including both an outtake and a live track with Bloomfield, and two with the horn overdubs mixed out. (by wikipedia)


As the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) had done a year earlier, Super Session (1968) initially ushered in several new phases in rock & roll’s concurrent transformation. In the space of months, the soundscape of rock shifted radically from short, danceable pop songs to comparatively longer works with more attention to technical and musical subtleties. Enter the unlikely all-star triumvirate of Al Kooper (piano/organ/ondioline/vocals/guitars), Mike Bloomfield (guitar), and Stephen Stills (guitar) — all of whom were concurrently “on hiatus” from their most recent engagements. Kooper had just split after masterminding the groundbreaking Child Is Father to the Man (1968) version of Blood, Sweat & Tears. Bloomfield was fresh from a stint with the likewise brass-driven Electric Flag, while Stills was late of Buffalo Springfield and still a few weeks away from a full-time commitment to David Crosby and Graham Nash. Although the trio never actually performed together, the long-player was notable for idiosyncratically featuring one side led by the team of Kooper/Bloomfield and the other by Kooper/Stills. The band is fleshed out with the powerful rhythm section of Harvey Brooks (bass) and Eddie Hoh (drums) as well as Barry Goldberg (electric piano) on “Albert’s Shuffle” and “Stop.”

KooperStillsThe Chicago blues contingency of Bloomfield, Brooks, and Goldberg provide a perfect outlet for the three Kooper/Bloomfield originals — the first of which commences the project with the languid and groovy “Albert’s Shuffle.” The guitarist’s thin tone cascades with empathetic fluidity over the propelling rhythms. Kooper’s frisky organ solo alternately bops and scats along as he nudges the melody forward. The same can be said of the interpretation of “Stop,” which had originally been a minor R&B hit for Howard Tate. Curtis Mayfield’s “Man’s Temptation” is given a soulful reading that might have worked equally well as a Blood, Sweat & Tears cover. At over nine minutes, “His Holy Modal Majesty” is a fun trippy waltz and includes one of the most extended jams on the Kooper/Bloomfield side. The track also features the hurdy-gurdy and Eastern-influenced sound of Kooper’s electric ondioline, which has a slightly atonal and reedy timbre much like that of John Coltrane’s tenor sax. Because of some health issues, Bloomfield was unable to complete the recording sessions and Kooper contacted Stills. Immediately his decidedly West Coast sound — which alternated from a chiming Rickenbacker intonation to a faux pedal steel — can be heard on the upbeat version of Bob Dylan’s “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry.” One of the album’s highlights is the scintillating cover of “Season of the Witch.” There is an undeniable synergy between Kooper and Stills, whose energies seems to aurally drive the other into providing some inspired interaction. Updating the blues standard “You Don’t Love Me” allows Stills to sport some heavily distorted licks, which come off sounding like Jimi Hendrix. This is one of those albums that seems to get better with age and that gets the full reissue treatment every time a new audio format comes out. This is a super session indeed. (by Lindsay Planer)


Mike Bloomfield (guitar on 01. – 05., 10., 12. + 13.)
Harvey Brooks (bass)
Eddie Hoh (drums, percussion)
Al Kooper (vocals, keyboards, guitar)
Stephen Stills (guitar on 06. – 09. + 11.)
Barry Goldberg (piano on 01. + 02.)
unknown horn section (arranged by Al Kooper and Joe Scott)


01. Albert’s Shuffle (Kooper/Bloomfield) 6.54
02. Stop (Ragovoy/Shuman) 4.23
03. Man’s Temptation (Mayfield) 3.24
04. His Holy Modal Majesty (Kooper/Bloomfield) 9.16
05. Really (Kooper/Bloomfield) 5.30
06. It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry (Dylan) 3.30
07. Season Of The Witch (Leitch) 11.07
08. You Don’t Love Me (Cobbs) 4.11
09. Harvey’s Tune (Brooks) 2.07
10. Albert’s Shuffle (remix without horns) (Kooper/Bloomfield) 6.58
11. Season Of The Witch (remix without horns) (Leitch) 11.07
12. Blues For Nothing (outtake) (Kooper) 4.15
13. Fat Grey Cloud (in concert at the Fillmore West) (Kooper/Bloomfield) 4.38



Al Kooper & Mike Bloomfield

Mike Bloomfield – Live In Italy (1980)

CDFrontCover1In the summer of 1980, Harris proposed that the trio do a European tour. Michael, never comfortable when he was away from home, viewed the junket with decided trepidation. But Christie agreed to go along and Bloomfield was convinced to do it. The foursome flew to Italy in September for a tour that would include Mascheroni, Firenze, Naples, Verona and several other cities. Right away anxiety kept Michael from sleeping, and soon his imbibing began to affect his performances. Fans would challenge him to drinking contests – often using a potent local brew called grappa – and he soon would be in no shape to play.

There was another problem, too. Italian fans, excited by the prospect of seeing one of America’s great blues/rock guitarists in person, packed the houses for each show. But when a solitary figure appeared on stage, sat down at a piano and began banging out “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” many were confused. Where was the mighty Mike Bloomfield of the Butterfield Band and Super Session? After a few numbers, the pianist would switch to acoustic guitar and it would suddenly dawn on the audience – this was indeed the legendary Bloomfield. But – as was the case with most audiences in America – the Italians only knew Michael through his recordings with Butterfield and Kooper. They were expecting stinging electric leads and lengthy, psychedelic jams, not folkloric recreations of traditional blues and gospel tunes they’d never heard before.


Forty-five minutes into Michael’s set, cat calls could be heard from the increasingly restless audience. Bloomfield would shush the hecklers in his pigeon Italian and press on, seemingly oblivious to what was happening. By the time Harris and Edmondson would join him, the disconnect between the stage and the audience was palpable.

And that would be the moment Michael would attempt a sing along.

Needless to say, the tour was a near disaster. Bloomfield and Harris faithfully recreated their duets from the Kicking Mule release, and sometimes they were well received. But just as often there were cries of “Super Session!” and “Season of the
Witch!” It wasn’t long before Michael was pleading with Christie to go home. But the group was scheduled to spend a week doing shows in Sweden and there was a contract to honor, so Bloomfield traveled to Stockholm.


Once there, however, he went on a drinking binge that exceeded anything he’d done previously, despite the fact that alcohol was a restricted commodity and difficult to get. The Swedish audiences were more accepting of Michael’s traditional blues and gospel repertory, but by the time the tour had concluded he was in terrible shape. When he arrived back in New York, Bloomfield abandoned his instruments at the airport and spent $300 on a cab ride to a friend’s home in Connecticut. There he recuperated enough to join Woody at the Bitter End for a few nights before heading back to San Francisco. (from the official Mike Bloomfield biography)

So, here´s the late und unlucky Mike Bloomfield … but he was still a very good musisican !


Michael Bloomfield (guitar, piano, vocals)

on the acoustic side:
Maggie Edmondson (cello, vocals on 03. + 04.)
Woody Harris (guitar on 03. + 04.)

on the electric side:
The Treves Blues Band:
Dave Baker (drums)
Claudio Bazzari (slide guitar)
Silvano Borgatta (piano)
Tino Cappelletti (bass)
Chuck Fryers (guitar)
Fabio Treves (harmonica)



Acoustic Side:
01. Dark Road Blues (Johnson) 3.10
02. Prison Bound Blues Carr) 4.20
03. Knocking Myself Out (Traditional) 4.30
04. Gonna Need Somebody On Your Bond (Traditional) 4.34

Electric Side:
05. Shake, Rattle & Roll (Turner) 4.10
06. Five Long Years (Boyd) 4.38
07. Don’t You Lie To Me (Domino/Bartholomew) 4.16
08. Junkie Blues (Dupree) 4.00





Michael Bloomfield – Same (1978)

This self-titled effort found Bloomfield reaching back to his nightclub roots, following forays into acoustic music (Analine), sleazy R&B-derived rock (Count Talent & the Originals), instructional albums (If You Love These Blues Play ‘Em As You Please), and gospel guitar duets (Bloomfield/Harris). Six of the eight tracks here are blues standards that Bloomfield tailored to his aggressive and in-your-face guitar style. The sound mirrors Count Talent’s barroom lurch, only with a smaller cast. This time, the bedrock is drummer-vocalist Bob Jones and bassist “Gashouse Dave” Shorey, with Bloomfield shouldering the multi-instrumental load. Bloomfield adds some deft touches, such as lead acoustic guitar and six-string banjo on “Knockin’ Myself Out,” a darkly humorous look at self-destruction. “Sloppy Drunk” sketches the alcoholic’s life from a lighter standpoint, while “Women Loving Each Other” is a frank examination of lesbianism, from the jilted man’s side. (Pianist Ira Kamin and bassist Doug Kilmer make crucial contributions on the latter two songs.) Bloomfield and friends also nod to their roots on a haunting rendition of “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean,” which glows from his accordion, piano, and acoustic slide guitar. The funky “My Children, My Children” gives matters a more contemporary sheen, as does “The Gospel Truth,” an instrumental by producer Norman Dayron where Bloomfield’s guitar gets plenty of flying time. Having long abandoned the major-label rat race, independent labels became Bloomfield’s major professional outlet, ensuring that his work remained relatively low profile (like the man himself). This album is among his most consistent efforts; needless to say, it’s also extremely scarce, so snatch it up before another knowledgeable person gets there first. (by Ralph Heibutzki)

Michael Bloomfield (guitar, keyboards, vocals)
Bob Jones (drums, vocals)
Ira Kamin (keyboards)
Kraig Kilby (trombone)
Doug Kilmer (bass)
David Shorey (bass, vocals)

01. Guitar King (Traditional) 4.09
02. Knockin’ Myself Out (Green)
03. My Children, My Children (Hill/Rubenack)
04. Women Lovin’ Each Other (Traditional)
05. Sloppy Drunk (Traditional)
06. You Took My Money (Traditional)
07. See That My Grave Is Kept Clean (A,Carter/M-Carter/S.Carter)
08. The Gospel Truth (Dayron)


Michael Bloomfield – Analine (1977)

FrontCover1By 1977 Michael Bloomfield was well past his glory days as a stellar sessioneer on Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited and as one half of the Butterfield Blues Band’s fearsome two-pronged guitar attack with Elvin Bishop. Disillusioned by the guitar-star pressure resulting from the Fillmore supersessions with Al Kooper and his brief tenure as figurehead of the crazily over-hyped Electric Flag, and succumbing to increasing depression and substance abuse, he’d drawn in his horns and largely retired to his San Fran home, emerging occasionally to record low-key albums with friends including John Hammond Jr, Barry Goldberg and Dr John, or to play low-profile gigs with pickup bands in the Bay area. After a prolonged spell of not playing at all due to the effects of heroin, psychological disturbances and arthritis, Bloomfield re-emerged in ’77 to cut a series of four albums over three years for John Fahey’s Takoma label, in which he returned largely to the pure Chicago blues of his formative years, now leavened with soul, gospel and jazz influences.

The first Takoma album, Analine, finds Bloomfield stretching out in leisurely fashion alone in the studio, playing all the instruments himself on a selection of self-penned tunes and covers in enough styles to delight any Ry Cooder aficionado, and airing a tenor voice with a slightly cracked heroin edge and a wicked and very necessary sense of humour on the opening “Peepin’ An’ A-Moanin’ Blues” and on “Big ‘C’ Blues” whose decidedly non-PC lyrics deal with sexual perversions and cancer respectively, and on a wonderful ragtime rendition of the ancient murder ballad “Frankie And Johnny”. Most of the guitars are acoustic and sublimely played, with nods to Django Reinhardt on the swinging twelve-bar “Mr Johnson And Mr Dunn” (on which Bloomfield’s jazzy rhythm comping is a delight), to Stefan Grossman on the effortless Scott Joplin-syle “Effinonna Rag”, and to Cooder on the beautiful Tejano “Hilo Waltz”, forefronting Dobro and tiple. Bloomfield also offers an effective bluesy piano, an instrument with which he’s not usually associated, on the sombre gospel instrumental “At The Cross” and on a maudlin but stylish reading of Ellington’s “Mood Indigo”.

BloomfieldGravenitesMike Bloomfield + Nick Gravenites (1977)

The only disappointments are that he lets rip only once in his legendary electric blues style, on “Big ‘C’ Blues”, and that his expeditions on electric slide guitar tend to be a bit weedy and undisciplined, as on “At The Cross” and on the concluding, soulful, title track. The latter is the only cut to feature other musicians, including old supersession colleague Nick Gravenites on vocal, and is a pointer to the following albums which would be recorded in a band milieu.(by Len)

Michael Bloomfield (guitar, vocals, banjo, bass, drums, piano)
+ on “Analine” (09.):
Nick Gravenites (guitar, vocals)
Bob Jones (bass, vocals)
Mark Naftalin (piano, accordeon)
Anne Rizzo (background vocals)
Marcia Ann Taylor (background vocals)
Roger Troy (bass)

01. Peepin’ An A Moanin Blues (Bloomfield) 2.38
02. Mr. Johnson And Mr. Dunn (Bloomfield) 2.52
03. Frankie And Johnny (Traditional) 4.06
04. At The Cross (Jeter/Johnson) 4.34
05. Big “C” Blues (Bloomfield) 3.52
06. Hilo Waltz (Bloomfield) 4.05
07. Effinonna Rag (Bloomfield) 4.29
08. Mood Indigo (Ellington/Mills/Bigard) 5.18
09. Analine (Gravenites) 5.34


Mike Bloomfield – Between The Hard Place & The Ground (1979)

FrontCover1Despite a few high-profile 70s outings (KGB, the Electric Flag reunion), Michael Bloomfield had no interest in living up to the unseemly mythology surrounding his guitar-hero past, whether with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61” recording sessions, the Electric Flag, or his collaboration with Al Kooper and Stephen Stills’ Super Session. And he’d had it with the dog and pony show of the music biz.

“I don’t know. I just don’t know. I just can’t do it,” he told Rolling Stone in 1970. “The whole commercial music scene really has me down … People put down three, four dollars to see you, and they want something positive. If I’m playing shitty and they stand up and applaud and go crazy, there’s a paradox in it that’s insane.”

Content to anchor near his Mill Valley, California home, Bloomfield retreated: playing out when he felt like it, scoring the occasional porno film for pocket money, and teaching music at nearby Stanford University, he flummoxed the star system with a proto-punk, dropped-out, devil-may-care stance.

His ad hoc group Michael Bloomfield and Friends – often including notables like pianists Barry Goldberg and Mark Naftalin, singer Nick Gravenites, and guitarist Woody Harris, among many others – operated as living bar-band folklore, playing a wide cross-section of American music, from traditional tunes, to 50s rock’n’roll, to funky New Orleans R&B, to hallowed blues gems. Holding forth at such clubs as Santa Cruz’s Catalyst and San Francisco’s Old Waldorf, where “Between A Hard Place & The Ground” was taped, the group preferred improv to polish, grit to slick.

A liberating, raucous, to-hell-with-all-expectations vibe permeates the live 1979 “Hard Place” sessions – music played without guile, simply for the sheer joy of it. (by Tom Luke)

MikeBloomfield2Mike Bloomfield and friends have always been able to get it together on record, and this effort is one more example of seasoned pros putting out music that appears to magically flow from them. “Big Chief from New Orleans” and “Lights Out” show Bloomfield in a lighter frame of mind. Of course, by this time, the public was generally ignoring his output, which is a shame, because Between a Hard Place and the Ground is well worth seeking out to experience Bloomfield in the later stages of his career. (by James Chrispell)

Recorded in 1977 At The Old Waldorf, San Francisco

Mike Bloomfield (guitar, vocals)
Barry Goldberg (keyboards)
Bob Jones (drums)
Roger Troy (bass, vocals on 07.)
Mark Adams (harmonica on 05.)
Ira Kamin (keyboards on 01., 03. + 04.)
Doug Kilmer (bass on 04. + 04.)
Mark Naftalin (piano on 02., 05. – 07.)
The Originals (saxophones on 01.)

01. Lights Out (Rebenack/David) 1.44
02. Between The Hard Place And The Ground (King/David) 3.37
03. Big Chief From New Orleans (Byrd) 6.15
04. Kid Man Blues (Estes) 4.50
05. Orphan’s Blues (Brown) 5.06
06. Juke Joint (Turner) 7.00
07, Your Friends (Malone) 6.45

LabeB1* (coming soon)