The Ford Blues Band

The Ford Blues Band
The Butterfield/Bloomfield Concert

Blue Rock‘It Records BRCD 141

By Karen Nugent
March 2007

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The great blues West Coast-based partnership of Michael Bloomfield and Paul Butterfield, who were originally from Chicago, is sometimes overshadowed by earlier Chicago, Texas and Delta bluesmen, so it’s about time somebody brought the duo back to the forefront

The likewise California-based Ford band has released a crisp, faithful tribute to Butter and Bloom. The eight-track (no, not that kind of eight-track!) disc bears an uncanny likeness to their psychedelic-laced performances, although it takes three guitarists (Chris Cain, Robben Ford, and Volker Strifler) to reproduce the hallowed Bloomfield licks. But that’s understandable.

They are joined by Robben’s brother Patrick Ford on drums, along with Andy Just who, in fact, does justice to Butterfield on harp. The band is rounded out by bassist Dewayne Pate, Tony Lufrano on keyboards, Tom Poole on trumpet, and Michael Pelequin on saxophone. Robben Ford does the singing. Patrick Ford produced the disc.

The Ford brothers are no blues newcomers. Patrick and Robben, along with a third bro, Mark, formed a band in the 70s, and backed the likes of Charlie Musselwhite and Jimmy Witherspoon. They starting their own Blue Rock’It label in the 80s, with Musselwhite and harp legend Brownie McGhee as two of their first recording artists.

Guitarist Strifler has a new release of his own, The Dance Goes On, also on Blue Rock ‘It.

This live Butterfield-Bloomfield Concert album follows the successes of two earlier releases, one dedicated to Bloomfield, and one a tribute to Butterfield. All were recorded without rehearsals, in, appropriately enough, an upstairs room in the Sierra Nevada Brewery in Chico, California.

The live disc starts out with a fast, but still traditional, version of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor,” featuring powerful sax and trumpet by Poole and Pelequin.

The recording also includes three other blues songs: the slow and wonderful, “I Got a Mind to Give Up Living,” a decent version of “Lovin’ Cup,” and a little-too-fast- and-jittery “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl.”

One of the best tracks on the disc is the dreamy and flowing, “East/West Redux.” Much of the guitar work on the long instrumental sounds like Carlos Santana, with a long bluesy bridge that brings you right back to the acid-inspired 60s and 70s.

Another of my favorite tracks is the last song, “Blues for MB” (Michael Bloomfield, I presume), which showcases the kind of emotional, slow blues that Bloomfield loved to play. The song incorporates tremendous harp and guitar solos, and some wailing, wah-wah.

Two most definitely non-blues songs are “Groovin’ Is Easy” and “Peter’s Trip.” But they take you right back to Butter and Bloom’s era.

Groovy, man.

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