Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Welcome!

Welcome to our space for your comments and questions regarding Michael Bloomfield, his life and work.

I'll do my best to field your questions and share my love and experiences with Michael. I hope you will feel free join me in this adventure.

So please write me and enjoy this moment.

Sincerely,
Allen Bloomfield

27 comments:

BluesLover said...

Allen:

I'm looking forward to reading the Blog, great way to tell a great story.

Best Wishes!
Eric M.

Peg said...

Hi Allen!!
It's so nice to see the recent activity on the site. I'm excited about this blog and look forward to learning more about Michael. He's my hero!!

Wish you the best always!!

Peg

Allen Bloomfield said...

Dear Eric,
It is a pleasure to hear from you.
Your a joy to know.
Very Best,
Allen B.kzhlv

Allen Bloomfield said...

Hello Peg,
Thank you for your encouragement. Please ask any question you may have about Michael and I will try to field it. You say Michael is your hero. In what ways? How has he influenced your life? In general when did you really start listening to music? Do you play an instrument? God I'm getting a little pushy, your my second blog and I am a little excited. Answer whatever you want or ask me some stuff.
Good cheer,
Allen B.

Peg said...

I don’t play an instrument but have been a music lover all my life. Most of the rock bands I listened to in the 70’s were blues based (i.e. Allman Bros, Rolling Stones, Canned Heat, etc) and when my husband died in 2001, blues music was the only thing that could soothe my soul. I’ve become a blues aficionado since then. That is when I re-discovered Michael Bloomfield.

I love the way Michael lived life on his own terms and never wore a fa├žade like most people do. His music touches me on the deepest level because of his passion. I feel it every time I listen. I think his contribution to music was HUGE and and have become a crusader in the fight to keep his memory alive. Mike Bloomfield has become a household name at my house. My 19 yr old daughter even listens to him. My collection of magazine articles has recently been added to David Dann's wonderful site.

I do have a question that I’m almost afraid to know the answer. Is there any video of Michael in Wolfgang’s Vault?

Peg

Kevin said...

Hi Allen:
Thanks for putting together your blog and for the opportunity to have interaction with you about Michael. I lived recently for a time where Michael did in California and became a fan of his music and am a blues guitarist as well. I wished I'd had the chance to see him play in person.
I look forward to your observations now and in the future.
Thanks and all the best
Kevin

Allen Bloomfield said...

Dear Peg,
When Michael passed on B.B. King sent the family a telegram short an eloquent, "It is a sad, sad day." Later at the funeral we played Michael's interpretation of "Mood Indigo." I really understand the comfort that music can provide. Wolfgang Vault does have videos of Mike playing with Butterfield, The Electric Flag, Al Kooper and Friends. The hitch is these were recorded without releases and the legal exposure is too great to assume. I am still exploring this but at this point I go to youtube for live action.
As to Michael's journey it was the road less traveled and he did live it on his own terms.
Thanks for the response.
Allen B.

Allen Bloomfield said...

Hi Kevin,
Welcome. I am glad you are enjoying the site. So you play blues guitar, Michael made a record called, If You Love These Blues, Play Them as You Please it is available on CD. Of all his work he was most proud of this teaching album. He plays a wide variety of styles as they were played by the greats. This work was nominated for a Grammy. I hope you already have it or can get it.
I appreciate your thopughts.
Regards,
Allen B.

Peg said...

Allen!
Oh my!! All those videos and no way to release them. Makes me crazy to think about it. God bless Bill Graham! If there's anything AT ALL I can do to help, I would welcome the opportunity!

I've notified our Bloomfools Yahoo group about your blog to come and ask questions. In the meantime, here's another one. Aside from the obvious (B.B. King, Albert King, Muddy Waters, etc) who were some of Michael's favorite musicians and/or albums?

Thanks!
Peggy

Allen Bloomfield said...

Hi Peg,
Regarding Wolfgang the legal implications and their fee structure makes this very difficult.I am really hesitant to open this up.
Michael loved Big Joe Williams, Django Rhinehart, Chet Atkins, John Campbell,Josh White, Ry Cooder,Roy Buchanan, Segovia, Montoya, Les Paul, John Coletrain,
Magic Sam, to name just a few. He did a gospel song caalled "Altar Song" and lists in dedication those artists he admired.
Thank you very much for helping expand this blog.
Sincerely,
Allen B

Allen Bloomfield said...

David Dann produced a four hour radio show on the life and work of Michael Bloomfield. There are many musical selections that are rare and mostly unheard. Also oral commentary from friends. If you pull up wwwmikebloomfield.com you will find the links to the show.
Share your thoughts and impressions with me.
Allen B.

JohnInNJ said...

Hi Allen,

This is such a great idea, bringing many of Mike's fans to one place where we can share our thoughts of Mike, the musician and the person. Having a close family member like yourself host the procedings makes it feel as if he still is with us.

And I'm sure he's looking over our shoulders asking why are we bestowing so much adulation on him - Hey Mike! Its because your music and your life's story touched so many of your era and so many more now who might not have ever heard of you! Don't be shy about it!

Best wishes,

John

Allen Bloomfield said...

Dear John,
thank you for your kind thoughts. I was becoming concerned that nobody wanted to write. You made my day.

My plumber just arrived so I will finish this a little later.
Allen

Peg said...

Hi Allen!
My good friend from Denmark is having difficulty posting to this blog. He asked me to post this message for him.

Peg

Hi Allen Bloomfield!
This was a nice surprise! Dear Peggy pointed it out for me. Your brother certainly deserves to be remembered and there are several people out there doing their best to keep his name up front.
I have been a Michael Bloomfield fan since the second Butterfield LP (I don't think the first one got out over here until later) so it's more than 40 years - most of my life.
I have taken one of Michael's sound bites (yes, that's what it would have been called today!) and made it my own:
In his last interview he said:
The music you listen to, becomes the soundtrack of your life.
I love that. It's true, it's simple and it's from a guitar hero. Can it be better? (No, I don't play any instrument myself, I can't even sing in key, but I love music, and collect records galore.)
I have spent many, many, hours - con amore - to compile THE ULTIMATE COMPLETE MICHAEL BLOOMFIELD DISCOGRAPHY, with help from loyal fans, and I have offered it to you before if you can use it (for the upcoming box set!).
I hope you got the DVDs with pictures that I sent some years back now. They were from Michael's first recording session with THE GROUP Dec. 7, 1964. Taken by the late Mike Shea and donated to me by his son Patrick.
I will keep an eye on your blog, and for sure I will find questions to you ;-) (Box set?)
All the best to you, your family and all Michael Bloomfield fans out there in Bluesland.

Rene
Denmark

Allen Bloomfield said...

Hi John,
Halloween is around the corner, leaves are turning and fall is in the air. I was reminded of the "old days" when Michael and I were still living in Chicago around 1953. Halloween was upon us and our nanny/housekeeper who was a gifted artist, and our mother a beautiful actress dressed us up. Michael went as Aunt Jemima
replete with red hair scarf, black face, ruby red lips, white top and skirt with heavy apron covering a pillow and large ceramic bowl and wooden spoon. I was dressed as a bum, light cork on my face, hobo hanky, torn clothing and a double sign, "Eat At Joe's." We lived in a high rise and started at the top and worked down some fifteen floors. Once we reached our floor we were told to wait for Doris (the nanny) who had a surprise for us. She took us downstairs and told the taxi driver to take us to a Chinese restaurant we all liked.
After dinner she took us by the hand, we had no idea where we were going, and from a block away we saw a movie house loaded with kids outside all wearing black caps with a yellow rubber hand directly on the top. What was this? We approached the marquee and the movie we were going to see was "Five Hundred Fingers Of Doctor T' a surreal film with Hans Conrad starring as a mad piano teacher. Dory bought us hats and treated us to the first of many science fiction films. It was a wonderful innocent time, my brother and I adored that moment.

Best wishes to all,
Allen Bloomfield

Allen Bloomfield said...

Dear Peg and Rene,
Sorry you had trouble getting on this blog, I will look into it.
The quote you refer to has always impressed me with Michael's depth of perception. I think he conclude with..."it is the backdrop of your existence."

I welcome your discography, and apologize for not acknowledging the items you sent, but I am not sure that I remember receiving them.

The box set seems to be on hold. Sony and in particular Legacy are having a tough time right now and a
book set is a very low priority. I would suggest that the four hour radio show produced by David Dann is exceptional as a retrospective and can be accessed through the mikebloomfield.com site under news. Perhaps Peg can help you pick this up.

I noodle around with keyboard and harp but I am no player. I use to play the harp to Michael on the phone. He aws always supportive even though at that time all I could play was, "Michael Row Your Boat A Shore" and "The Streets Of Laredo."
Welcome Rene and keep in touch.
Warmly,
Allen Bloomfield

Allen Bloomfield said...

I have two corrections.
1. The movie was 5,000 Fingers of Doctor T.
2. Michael's influences. George Jones and Ray Charles.
My bad.
Allen B.

Nicole said...

way to go dad! I'm so glad you got this blog going, about time! - you're loving rat daughter

Allen Bloomfield said...

Dear Nicole aka Ratty,
Because you most remind me of Michael in temperment and intellect
I am delighted you checked in.

I think it fair to say you were force fed the blues at home. What I would like to know from anyone is what influences led you to the blues and Michael in particular?

All my love,
Pappy

Allen Bloomfield said...

Dear Nicole aka Ratty,
Because you most remind me of Michael in temperment and intellect
I am delighted you checked in.

I think it fair to say you were force fed the blues at home. What I would like to know from anyone is what influences led you to the blues and Michael in particular?

All my love,
Pappy

tylerfriedman said...

Allen,
I've been meaning to write for the past week, but have had difficulty finding myself at a computer when I had both the time to write and the emotional openness to write honestly. The generosity with which you invited everyone to contact you and the avidity with which you responded to previous posts stirred my empathy and made me want to reach out and connect with you by means of your brother and the impact he has had and continues to have on my life journey.
I was first introduced to Michael's music several years ago by the father of a good friend. I was a naive high school student (I'm still naive, but now as a college student) and a fledgling guitarist. My friend's father was a long time Michael fanatic whose Michael-influenced guitar prowess won him the nickname "Bloomers" when he was the fledgling high school guitarist decades ago. He turned our cadre of friends onto the first two Butterfield Blues Band albums, Long Time Comin', and Live Adventures. Though I didn't yet have the ear and musical maturity to really grasp the brilliance of Michael's playing, there was a visceral response that enamored me and kept the albums in continual rotation. My friends and I would would create our own renderings of "Mary Ann", "Born In Chicago", and "59th Street Bridge Song" after prefacing each song with a Bloomfield-esque introduction a la Live Adventures.
My passion for Mike's playing led me to learn about the man behind the music, thus extending and enriching his influence. I found that not only did I want to reach Mike's level of musical realization, but he was also the type of person I wanted to be: passionate, talented, fiercely and unapologetically individual, kind, accepting, and honest. I strove to be like Michael; not to imitate his lifestyle and musical style, but to find my own styles through the direction of the characteristics that Michael embodied. I have always felt a magnetism to "special people" (though our kindergarden teachers rightly tell us that we're all special in our own way) and Michael is one of my core guiding "special people" along with Harry Smith, Friedrich Nietzsche, John Coltrane, and John Fahey.
Michael also led me (along with Fahey, Harry Smith, and Ry Cooder) to discover the roots of American music. I quickly developed a passion for the music of Muddy, Wolf, the three Kings, Reverend Gary Davis, Blind Blake, Mississippi John Hurt, and oh-so-many more. My love of this music developed into an interest in ethnomusicology which was manifested in my role and founding member and vice-president of the Miami University Ethnomusicology Club.
Even with its extensive length this post is still unable to adequately express how much Michael and his music have meant to me - just as I'm sure that recordings, books, and articles fail to adequately express the totality of Michael as a human being. But I'm thankful, and lucky, to have the slightest intimation of who your brother was and who he continues to be as he lives on in the music he generously bequeathed to posterity. In moments of preternatural insight and reflection I look at myself and my current situation as a twenty-one year old philosophy major at Miami University and I am able to see quite clearly the resounding influence that Michael has had on who I am and what I do. Since I can't directly give thanks to him let me thank you for being his brother and helping him become the person he was - who helped me become who I am.
Now perhaps a question for you (and anyone else who may have an answer): where can I find audio interviews of MIchael? Are they floating around in the vast informational abyss of the Internet?
With utmost sincerity,
Tyler

Allen Bloomfield said...

Dear Tyler,
I appreciate the clarity of your words. Michael saw himself as a journeyman of the blues. Both of you explored the legends of the past and the greats of today. The most important direction given is the finding of one's own voice. He said I am just like you and he believed it.
As for audio interviews only two were made and are not in circulation. The film Festival now on DVD depicts Michael counter pointing Son House. "If You Love These Blues" By Jan Wolkin and Bill Keenom and "Me and Big Joe" by
Michael Bloomfield are oral histories about his life. It is not so much what he said, but how he said it. I wish you well.
Allen Bloomfield

halfpear said...

Hi Allen,

So glad you have this blog site in memory of your brother Michael.

I have been a fan of his playing since I was about twelve, when the first Electric Flag album came out. His tone and phrasing spoke to me even then. There has never been a time that I didn't listen to him for inspiration, even though my own long musical path has diverged from strictly blues. And there has never been another guitar player who has consistently meant as much in my life as Michael Bloomfield. I'm still discovering elements of his playing in 2008, a testament to his brilliance. And since I'll never get to say that to him, I'll say it to you.

Keep up the good work here.

Sincerely,
Peter Holsapple

Allen Bloomfield said...

Hello Peter,
If I could, I would pass on your kind thoughts to Michael.
Michael was very modest about his musical talents and it seems always the case that upon retrospection what he accomplished was really remarkable.
Thank you so very much.
Allen Bloomfield

John said...

Allen

Thanks.

I am wondering what you might remember in regard to some things that might seem mundanely physical to some . . . and I realize there is an old saying that if you remember the 60s, you weren't there and that it perhaps applies to some things beyond just that decade . . . I fully understand that there are things that are so in the moment there might not be much recollection.

I suppose Michael's playing could be viewed from vantage points of piano playing, slide playing, fingerpicking and non-fingerpicking. And a lot of what Michael seemed to be about as a player involved touch as opposed to effects pedals . . .

Do you remember anything about what Michael would use as a slide and what finger he would put it on?

If he was doing fingerpicking, that is the Reverend Gary Davis or Piedmont type playing that is sometimes almost pianistic, did he use bare fingers or picks on the thumb or on the thumb and individual fingertips? And by asking about fingerpicking, I am not thinking of the thing of just playing with the thumb and fingers like Wes Montgomery did, where Wes would be doing single notes, octaves and chords but using the bare thumb and finger to contact the strings . . .

Is there anything you remember when he was playing electric as far as using or not using a pick and if he did both, any observations as to that, and whether he flicked the pickup switch to go from accompaniment to solo or turned the knob or just bore down more, that is played a bit harder?

There is a little bit of Michael on youtube but it often is cutting back and forth between him and other players or a singer. I once wrote a story in sort of an Jorge Luis Borges style pretending that when Shakespeare was alive he was actually better known as a juggler but that this talent became eclipsed due to how the technology of the time tended to preserve the moment in writing . . . and although anyone's memory of Michael would be personally subjective and of a given moment, I am wondering if there are things you might remember along the lines of what I am asking above.

Thanks.

John

Frank Macias said...

Hi John,

With the Butter Band and Electric Flag Mike played strictly with a pick. Those runs were too fast to play bare fingers. In his later years he played electric guitar with his bare finger(s). You can tell by the way the runs are slowed and the style changed somewhat. He himself said the fingers sounded more natural to him than the pick.

He is the first guy I saw who fiddled with the knobs and pickup switch constantly while he was playing. Sometimes in the middle of a solo. It seemed he was always searching for that perfect tone for a particular run. He would usually find it.

That is one of the things I love about the Les Paul. You can change its personality on the stage like no other.

He mostly played on the rhythm pickup for everything and thats why the fiddling with the tone and volume controls. He would do it so fast I couldn't tell what the hell he was doing. I think he used the
guitar control knobs for what many other "famed" players were doing with their many foot pedals. As a player I change these knobs quite a bit during a tune. There are many an varied reasons for doing so. Some are different sounding rooms, the tone you're on my not be pleasing to the ear at the moment, tone not matching with vocals gosh any number of things.

The important thing to know is picks is that it doesn't matter. The pick will give you more speed and less pain but if you use fingers they eventually turn into picks anyway due to callous formation. If you use all fingers you can gain the lost speed. It's all merely a matter of preference and style. Not one is better than the other.

Freddy King used a thumb pick for his playing and Albert Collins didn't use any thing. They were both great.

Acoustic guitar can be played either or. Again, a matter of preference and comfort. It's whatever you get used to that's important.

Hope that helps.

Sorry for barging in Allen.

John said...

Thanks, Frank.

Well, and what Michael was doing is perhaps especially interesting due to the fact that he was not big on effects pedals etc. like a lot of people became . . .

I understand there are many ways and that sometimes a tool or method is related to what we want as a result, etc. And sometimes I am surprised, I thought fingers got certain results and was surprised to find that Hubert Sumlin used his fingers. I leaned towards fingers but thought maybe "Wheels" had to be played with a pick and then heard Muriel Anderson do it with her fingers . . . guitars and the human spirit are seemingly wonderful inexhaustible things.

Did you know there is a Frank Macias school about 18 miles from Butterfield, Texas?