It’s six o’clock Monday morning. The sun is up and the kids are clearing out, going back to their jobs, schools, worried parents. Some are just wiped out from a long weekend of too much music, rain, and dope, and too little food.
Regardless, the crowd is clearing out, which is a goddamned shame because the Paul Butterfield Blues Band is about to kick some ass.
Paul Butterfield was no blue-eyed blues wannabee. Raised in Chicago, Butterfield had access to the likes of Muddy Waters, Little Walter, and Howlin’ Wolf. Along with his buddy, Elvin Bishop, Butterfield learned Chicago Blues at the feet of giants.
The first incarnation of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band included a couple of Howlin’ Wolf’s guys, Bishop, Butterfield, and guitar legend Mike Bloomfield. By 1969 Butterfield was the only original member, so it was a new Butterfield Blues Band that played Woodstock — no Elvin Bishop or Mike Bloomfield, but future saxophone superstar David Sanborn was in the brass section. They were touring behind the album Keep On Moving, which accounts for three of the seven songs in their set.
I’m not sure why none of their set found its way into Wadleigh’s documentary or the original soundtrack. Butterfield was signed to Elektra – a Warner Brothers subsidiary — so their omission probably wasn’t a label issue. Some Woodstock observers contend that their performance as not one of their best, so that’s a possibility. I don’t know, I like their set.
If I had to guess (and I don’t, but I will) I’d say that the Paul Butterfield Blues Band didn’t make the cut because they didn’t really stand out. They weren’t huge names like The Who or Hendrix, nor were they flamboyant like Sly and the Family Stone — just rock solid Chicago blues served up at 6 a.m. on a Monday.
Paul Butterfield survived the sixties, but in 1987 at age 44 his drug use finally caught up with him. A few years ago his family formed the Paul Butterfield Fund and Society in his honor, which both protects his legacy and does some educational work. You can find the PBFS on both MySpace and Facebook.
Here’s the Paul Butterfield Blues Band’s complete Woodstock set list and where you can find official (and not so official) recordings:
- Born Under a Bad Sign
- No Amount of Loving (Woodstock 40 Years On: Back to Yasgur’s Farm (CD)
- Driftin’ Blues (Youtube)
- Morning Sunrise (Woodstock: The Ultimate Director’s Cut, Ultimate Collector’s Edition (DVD))
- All in a Day
- Love March (Woodstock 40 Years On: Back to Yasgur’s Farm (CD))
- Everything’s Gonna Be Alright (Woodstock 40 Years On: Back to Yasgur’s Farm (CD)
Your official (and bootleg) Woodstock soundtrack song count to date: 194