Posts Tagged ‘Michael Bloomfield’

In 2008 Willie Nelson released a 4 CD Box set entitled “One Hell Of A Ride”.  It’s a great historical perspective of Willie Nelson’s writing, choice of covers, recording career, etc…  Mickey Raphael can be heard on a lot of it and contributed to the liner notes.  He’s played with Willie Nelson for 39 years.  Personally I love his playing and I always look forward to hearing him whenever a Willie Nelson album comes out.

In this Rockonomics Interview, I’m thrilled to be able to feature a Q & A with Mickey…

Q:  Michael Bloomfield said something like “even if Paul Butterfield was a tuna fish sandwich he could still play the blues”…   In other words, it didn’t matter what color he was or what his background was, Butterfield was a blues player.  I’m a huge fan of those early Paul Butterfield albums…  Growing up, what player knocked your socks off and is there a story that goes with it?

A: I always loved Paul Butterfield. His tone and phrasing were like nobody I’ve ever heard. In the mid 80s I was spending a lot of time in LA and Leon Russell took me to see Paul play at the Roxy. Paul was doing a gig with Gary Busey and Rick Danko. 

He was amazing and I finally got to meet one of my idols.

A year or so after that I was in new York and Paul called me up and wanted me to come downtown and hang out. I ended up taking him to Miles Davis’s 60th birthday party and after we just cruised the streets of New York jamming on the harmonica with the notes just bouncing off the tall buildings till wee hours of the night.

Q:  You’re heard on Motley Crue’s “Smoking In The Boys Room” and you’ve played with artists like Neil Young, Waylon Jennings, Billy Joe Shaver, Emmylou Harris, just to name a few.  Is there anyone living or dead that you’d like to collaborate with?

A:  I’d love to do something with Paul Simon. I played a couple of songs with him at the Ryman in Nashville last June. It was an amazing experience and we have kept in touch since then.

Q:  What was the most challenging album you recorded with Willie Nelson?

A:  We recorded Teatro with Daniel Lanois and he said everyone pick an instrument that’s not your main one. I used the bass harmonica which I dont play all the time so it was a challenge.

Q:  What’s the secret to playing with Willie Nelson this long?

A:  Can’t hit a moving target

Q:  I know your schedule keeps you busy, but it’s been years since you released a solo album…  Do you plan to release another one sometime soon and who have you been recording with lately? 

A:  I’ve been writing a little with Joey Burns from Calexico. We have 5 tunes half finished. I carry the hard drive with me on the road and when I run into muso friends I have them play on it. Bill Evans who played soprano with miles just played on one tune.

Q:  You seem very involved with the Willie Nelson Catalog.  Your efforts on the box set and your involvement with the Naked Willie album, where you “unproduced” some of the early RCA recordings from the

late 60’s are two recent examples…  What other projects might fans hear?

A:  We are searching for live recordings of the Highwaymen  which might turn into a future project.

Q:  Do you have any Bob Dylan stories from the Willie Nelson / Bob Dylan Ballpark tour?  

I’m such a fan of Bob and his harp playing. While we were on tour he loaned me a bunch of DVDs of some of the old blues greats. Little Walter, sonny boy Williamson  , howling wolf and a copy of the tv game show ” to tell the truth” with Paul Butterfield as a guest.

Bob was also a great inspiration for me.


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“Becoming Jimi Hendrix”

When I read in the recent Rolling Stone that Brad Schreiber had just written a book with my friend Steve Roby about the early years of Hendrix, I clicked the BUY button on Amazon and purchased “Becoming Jimi Hendrix”. Then I reached out to Steve to see if the authors would participate in a Rockonomics Q&A.  But first, I want to mention that I know Steve Roby from my early days at Rhino Records.  We worked on a compilation of Jimi Hendrix’s early recordings as a session player that we had hoped Rhino would license and make available.  These recordings showcased Hendrix’s back-up work with Rosa Lee Brooks, Little Richard, The Isley Brothers, etc…  Although it was never released, it was a great idea, and really put the evolution of Hendrix’s guitar playing into context.

Q:  Steve It seems as though Jimi Hendrix was very determined to be successful, doing whatever it took to get his break.  He backed up lots of famous musicians, was there one in particular that championed his playing?

A: King Curtis. When I interviewed Cornell Dupree, he said Curtis gave Jimi two or three songs to spotlight his playing during the regular nightly sets they did in 1966. Jimi would always launch into an Elmore James blues number, and the crowd loved it. Curtis really wanted to be a guitarist, and I gather he liked his unique style.

But like the many other regimented R&B bands he played with, Jimi had to adhere to a strict dress code or face fines, or even termination. It was not uncommon for backing musicians at the time to polish their shoes with Vaseline for the ultimate shine, but more importantly to keep the nagging leader off their backs. While Jimi was with King Curtis, it was a case of showing up at a gig, and not wearing a tuxedo. Curtis not only fired him, but humiliated him on stage in front of his fellow musicians and the audience.

Brad, please see this quote below…

Michael Bloomfield was quoted in Guitar Player, August 1971  Jimi Hendrix

“Sound was his thing. He played the guitar, but he could get any sound in the world through it, and sound was what he was looking for. I think that he was the most advanced. There was no one near him in any way. He had everything: speed, control, and on and on. The cat was the most amazing guitarist I had ever met in my life. I think his work will be studied for years and years.”

Q:  In a few sentences what makes Jimi Hendrix so “studied” today?

A: No one would deny Jimi’s unparalleled ability to get a stunning variety of sounds

out of the electric guitar. But he loved all kinds of music and showed a willingness to explore each genre, be it rhythm and blues, rock ballads, acid rock, fusion, jazz and so on. He could listen to a silly pop song and hear the one section that was truly sonically interesting and catalog it in his head.

Q:  Steve, as I mentioned I ordered “Becoming Jimi Hendrix” but I’m a huge fan…  If I were just an average fan, please tell me why I’d be interested…

A: Jimi’s life story has been covered in several biographies. Some emphasis has been given to his early career, but the main goal for most authors was to document the familiar years with the Jimi Hendrix Experience. In Becoming Jimi Hendrix, however, we show how and where he developed that “hellish and robust sound,” as one reporter called it.  For example, listen to “Fire,” and that classic R&B riff. Where did that come from?

Success would have never happened for the often-shy guitarist if he’d given up early and returned to Seattle, settling for a job at a brewery or at Boeing, like many of his classmates did. Jimi had this amazing fortitude, and tolerance. He was determined to play his style no matter what others told him to do. He’d rather starve.

We interviewed his friends, lovers, and band mates, and developed this extraordinary story of Jimi’s rocky journey on the R&B circuit, discovery of LSD, and for those that relish information, there’s a complete tour listing and sessionography that spans the various groups he played with from 1962 to 1966. It took about four years of research to compile this book, and I know even the average fan will walk away with a different impression of the Hendrix they thought they knew.

Q:  One last question for Brad, who were a few of Jimi’s influences?  And was there someone in particular he tried to seek out and perform with while backing bands up?

A: Jimi, during his development in R&B, met and paid careful attention to players like B.B. King, Albert King, Albert Collins and Curtis Mayfield. But what is important to remember is that Jimi loved all kinds of music and utilized the blues of an Elmore James as much as he did the surf guitar of Dick Dale. He was an alchemist of sounds and of all genres.

Click Here For More Information

Becoming Jimi Hendrix: From Southern Crossroads to Psychedelic London, the Untold Story of a Musical Genius [Paperback]

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For the most part, I always felt the bands the Supersuckers toured with were a good fit.   Some obviously more than others.  And some just downright amazing and fun like Zeke, Hangmen, Danko Jones, Mydols, Throw Rag, Railbenders, and Trainwreck.

I hope to feature more interviews here in my ongoing series “Rockonomics Field Recordings” that shed light and share insight.

I’m not one to force people into seeing shows these days, although I do encourage everyone I know to learn about and listen to Michael Bloomfield, but go and see Trainwreck…  They’re fun, entertaining, great players, and bring it.

Tell them I said hello.  And a special thanks to, Hal BrigishMike A and Brian Baltazar.

More Field Recordings coming soon…

Trainwreck Tour Dates Below… Don’t Be Late!

Sept. 4th – Long Beach, CA – Dipiazza’s

Sept. 15th – Foxborough, MA – Showcase Live

Sept. 16th – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge

Sept. 17th – Buffalo, NY – Mohawk Place

Sept. 18th – Albany, NY – Jillian’s Of Albany

Sept. 20th – Baltimore, MD – Bourbon Street

Sept. 21st – Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Bowl

Sept. 23rd – Toledo, OH – Frankie’s Inner City

Sept. 24th – Bowling Green, OH – Howard’s Club H

Sept. 25th – Chicago, IL – Beat Kitchen

Sept. 27th – Minneapolis, MN – 400 Bar

Sept. 28th – Sioux Falls, SD – Nutty’s North

Sept. 30th – Denver, CO – Cervante’s Ballroom

Oct. 1st – Fort Collins, CO – Hodis Half Note

Oct. 2nd – Colorado Springs, CO – Triple Nickel Tavern

Oct. 4th – Aspen, CO – Belly Up Tavern

Oct. 5th – Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge

Oct. 6th – Reno, NV – Tonic Bar

Oct. 8th – Eureka, CA – Red Fox Tavern

Oct. 9th – Oakland, CA – The New Parish

Oct. 10th – Bakersfield, CA – Fishlip’s

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