Review and photographs by Rudy Lu
Paul Butterfield and Mike Bloomfield – two pioneers of modern-day blues and rock have been long gone. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band (with Mike Bloomfield on lead guitar) performed at the traditionally acoustic Newport Folk Festival back in 1965 and blew the doors down with their raucous, amplified, Chicago-style blues. Of course, members of the band also memorably backed Bob Dylan’s electric debut at the fest.
The PBBB evolved to eventually include a horn section (including a young saxman named David Sanborn) and play at the big 1969 Woodstock fest. Bloomfield went on to play with the Electric Flag, as well as with Al Kooper on “Super Session.”
The spirit and the memory of their music is one of the projects of the Ed Palermo Big Band. Palermo’s band is primarily known for its interpretations of the music of Frank Zappa, and the big band has released three CDs of Zappa’s music. But their project of performing the music of Butterfield and Bloomfield has yet to be recorded.
Rob Paparozzi fronts this blues-based version of the band on harp and vocal. The band also features George Naha on guitar.
At the Falcon in Marlboro last weekend, Paparozzi and band opened by tearing through their version of “Walking Blues,” seguing into “Killing Floor.” The other selections in both sets were played with the same enthusiasm and sense of fun as the opening numbers.
Paparozzi sang like he meant it and played with the same passion as Butterfield, but he added his own nuances to the swooning, swooping sounds of his amplified harp. Naha, meanwhile, played blazing leads with that clear tone that Bloomfield was known for.
The rhythm section of bassist Paul Adamy and drummer Ray Marchica was always in the pocket, making the music danceable and clappable (Wish there was a dance floor). The first set wrapped up in true party fashion with a sing-along for the R&B standard “Wine.”
The dual keyboards of Ted Kooshian and Bob Quaranta added complexity to the sound, while the horn section boosted the power and sheer joy of the music. There was also plenty of outstanding solo work, including Barb Cifelli’s baritone sax (in spite of some technical problems with her microphone), Bill Straub and Joe Meo’s tenor, Cliff Lyons on alto, Phil Chester on soprano and Joe Fiedler on trombone.
The encore was John Lee Hooker’s signature song “Boom, Boom.”
Ed asked the question in the first set,” Should we record these tunes?” The audience’s answer was a resounding yes!!!!
P.S.: The Falcon is located in the tiny hamlet of Marlboro, just north of Newburgh, NY. It is an old factory building that has been converted into a club. It is becoming a favorite out-of-town place for NYC jazz, blues, rock and folk musicians to perform, as well as drawing from the many musicians of the Hudson Valley. There is outdoor dining when the weather allows, overlooking a beautiful waterfall. It is well worth the road trip.
ED PALMERO BIG BAND SET LIST
You Didn’t Realize
In My Own Dreams
Walkin By Myself
One More Heartache
It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry
Everything’s Gonna Be Alright
NOTE: On Friday, July 13, the Bearsville Theater in Woodstock is also hosting a tribute to the music of Paul Butterfield, led by his eldest son, Gabriel Butterfield.