Monday, February 16, 2009

Michael Bloomfield July 28, 1943 - February 15, 1981


And death shall have no dominion.
Dead men naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall raise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no domimion.

And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan't crack;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.

Dylan Thomas (1936)


Julie said...

Dear Allen:
Michael was a Beauty – it must have been so hard carrying that big old heavy soul around (could explain the duck walk?). Thank God every now and then people like him come along to remind us of what it is to be a human being; to try and bring us all back home to that. I think it was the greatest thing about him and what he strove for in his music.
You see, I want a lot.
Perhaps I want everything
the darkness that comes with every infinite fall
and the shivering blaze of every step up.

So many live on and want nothing
and are raised to the rank of prince
by the slippery ease of their light judgements.

But what you love to see are faces
that do work and feel thirst.
You love most of all those who need you
as they need a crowbar or a hoe.
You have not grown old, and it is not too late
to dive into your increasing depths
where life calmly gives out its own secret.

- Rainer Maria Rilke

Thank you for this site.

Allen Bloomfield said...

Dear Julie,
Thank you for your sensitivity and insight into Michael. Perhaps it was Michael's "big old heavy Soul" that carried him around. Without the qualities of humanity that he possessed his music would not have been all that compelling.
In the poem you selected the third stanza speaks of the faces that do work and feel thirst. I am reminded that Michael was most expressive through his face. I have a series of baby pictures of Michael at the age of three and he never lost the wonder and delight of these expressions through out his life. They truly animate the Being with in.
I am delighted you like the site.
Allen B.

Julie said...

ha ha, perhaps. well I sure do wish he was carried around a little while longer then...

It's interesting you mention Michael's facial expressions because it's the only reason I know his name. Really. I had rented Scorsese's "No Direction Home" (to see what all the fuss was about) and there was a quick clip of Michael playing with the Flag at Monterey. To me, he seemed like some sort of mythical creature the earth had just spat out. I could see a whole world in those expressions and remember thinking "Who the %($#@* IS this guy?". Anyway, I was toast after that.

It has been a wonderful experience researching him (thanks to David Dann and Peggy McVickar as well). Michael Bloomfield was my introduction to the Blues and why my left fingertips are calloused today.

All the best Allen,

Allen Bloomfield said...

Hi Julie,
Michael had some earthy root like
qualities. His blue eyes were the most compelling feature to me. They reflected so many emotions.
Compassion, humor, anger, innocence, intelligence,delight,
patience, loneliness, sorrow, and mischievousness.
Connecting to David and Peggy was your good fortune, both are treasures in their own right.
I am glad to hear that you are playing we need more woman in the blues.
Best wishes Julie,
Allen B.

Julie said...

Hi again Allen:

I woke up this morning and the first part of my last comment was on my mind - in a bad way. I hope I did not offend.

I love reading about Soul (Carl Jung, James Hillman, Thomas Moore, I even tried reading Marsilio Ficino). I do not pretend to know what it is but am thankful when I can recogize its quality; as I did in Michael.

If I seemed flippant about his death then I do apologize. I did not mean to be cheeky.

Okay, now I feel better...


Allen Bloomfield said...

I never took anything the vwrong way and your far from cheeky. I have read the letters from Marsilio Ficino to Lorenzo Medici,
Ficino was the Spiritual counsel
to Medici.
Let me reccomend a book that is available through Amazon "The Book Of Mirdad" by Mikhail Naimy.

Please let me know what you think of the book.

Allen B.

Julie said...

aah, you're a gooder Allen! I will for sure get that book and get back to you.

thank you so much,

Allen Bloomfield said...

I await your reply.

Frank Macias said...

Hi Allen: So glad to see you back in business. The D Thomas poem you included in the beginning is one of my favorites. I also like, "Do Not Go Gently....".

Last time we spoke you wanted a tape or CD of some of my work. I am working on a CD with some fine musicians. I have posted one of my favorite Butter/Bloomfield tunes on This is the only tune I tried to keep as close to the original as possible in honor of your brother. I did re-arrange it a bit. Give a listen tell me what you think.

Augie Meyers is on keyboards. Last recording session he told me he knew Mike very well from their days in the bay area. Augie was Doug Sahm's keyboard player. Mike may have played his last jam with Augie and Doug Sahm at a club in Northern CA.

The things you and Julie exchange about Mike is great. He may have carried an "old, heavy, ancient soul" but he brought light out of all that came in contact with.

Frank Macias

Allen Bloomfield said...

Hello Frank,
Good to hear from you. I listened to your recording of "I Got A Mind To Give Up Living," and was very impressed by the tone of your guitar. The arrangement was interesting in that it took on the feeling of a New Orleans funeral dirge. The pauses in between verses seemed too long. Having said all that your interpretation still conveys the power of the song.
Thanks for thinking of us,
Best wishes,
Allen B.

Frank Macias said...

Yeah, I do work on my tone alot.

What you heard is a rough mix. I always thought those stops were way too long. Maybe not even needed. I'll work on it on the final mix. Thank you so much for the critique. Means alot!

Allen Bloomfield said...

I admire you willingness to re-listen to that work.
That openness really matters.
Allen B.

A. Penman said...

Hello Allen,

Your blog here is something really special for all of us not fortunate enough to have had a chance to meet Michael.
I was born too late (1987) to be able to have seen him play live, but both his guitar playing and his approach to music and life are incredibly inspirational to me. It's such a treat to be able to read your insights about Michael and the stories that continue to reveal such wonderful things about him as a person.
I have a song recorded called "Michael's Blues Part II" as a tribute to Michael that I'd love to be able to send along to you somehow. Its an acoustic slide number in the manner of Michael's duets from the end of the If You Love These Blues... record. I always do my best to draw inspiration from his style, but every single day I'm astounded at his level of talent.

Anyway, I'd just like to thank you again so much for keeping up this website and offering such beautifully human recollections of Michael, it really means a lot to me and I'm sure everyone else who reads this site!

All my best,
Alex Wernquest

Allen Bloomfield said...

Dear Alex,
We at the site are so grateful that you understand it's intent. I hoped we would be able to convey the quality of my brother not just as a unique talent, but also as a person complex and brilliant in his whole form.Because he was my older brother I had the benefit of sharing a life with him prior to his rise of stardom. This keeps it real for me, I loved him from in front. I would love to hear your tribute and ask you to write attn: webmaster for my address.
I sincerely appreciate your comments and encouragement.
Allen Bloomfield

Julie said...

Hi Allen:
Just finished reading The Book of Mirdad. Thank you. It was a remembering of sorts and offered much needed perspective and space to think.
This whole “Michael Bloomfield thing” has been a strange journey. Why would a blues guitarist from the 60s come across my path? It just didn’t make any sense. After I read the biographies (Ward and Wolkin/Keenom ) I was so upset, not crying upset but sobbing upset. The strange thing was the sadness quickly turned to anger. It was more than just, “Hey, why you gotta take this guy!?! Do you know how many Assholes there are in this world!?!” You know that dell’Arca sculpture Lamentation? Well I was the girl on the far right except I wanted to breathe fire – tear down walls, burn buildings angry...
There was so much I thought I understood and could relate to: the absence of the father, out making something of himself (i.e. making money), and the cost of that to the family. The photo of your family sitting down to dinner at Michael’s bar mitzvah – man, it’s like a belt tightening around my chest to look at it. And Michael, holding your hand...always reaching out. So warm. The not wanting to swallow what society spoon feeds you and the resulting isolation which follows from the choice of the non-conformist. The inability to focus and the constant daydreaming – and the frustration and anger it brings out in others - the accusations of disrespect. The medical model and psychiatry’s drugs - where an hour conversation gets you a bottle of ritalin or lithium. And the wanting to be tough, to compensate or hide a sensitive and vulnerable nature. (I used to pride myself on my toughness; only to realize later that all I was developing was an amazing capacity to swallow bullshit; mostly my own. Maybe it’s different for men.) And oh that paradox: able to give so generously, with such love, compassion and understanding yet seem to be unable (for whatever reason) to give the same to yourself.
For a long time I thought Michael’s story was about the “refusal of the call” – you know, of the life that has been laid out for you or intended. But I don’t know anymore – maybe he just heeded a different call – one that few are able to take on, “going down deeper, coming up dirtier” than most could ever dare. Fearless. They say that when you make that kind of journey, it’s so hard to return. Kind of like that Indian tale (retold by Joseph Campbell) where a little goat makes the discovery that he’s not actually a goat but really a tiger. And so he goes back to his “kin” (goats) to tell them this wonderful news – and well, he doesn’t get over too well – and this hurts him tremendously. So, maybe it wasn’t so much the “refusal of the call” but not knowing how to make the journey back. I'm okay with not having the answer to why. The most important thing to remember though was that Michael was of his Time.
The book reminded me of something else too, a quote re: symbols and metaphors. It kind of warns us to “not mistake a finger pointing at the moon for the moon itself”. And then it dawned on me, that I had forgotten this where Michael was concerned. It’s what his life points toward that’s important – like any guide, religion, symbol, or metaphor. It’s what they all point toward that’s the gift, the real message.

Sorry for the long babble – but I’ve been wanting to shed this skin for some time. To you, Michael was more than this, a brother and above all an amazing human being. Real. To me, he’s a Guide, a way-shower. So thank you again Allen, for creating this space. I’ve enjoyed being here. Well, better get back out there...out into that “Mean Old World” – ha.
I wish you and your family all things good.

Allen Bloomfield said...

Dear Julie,
I applaud you for reading the books. The biography of Michael depicts events in his life and associations from a subjective personal perspective. That is one way of viewing my brother. By the very nature of that form associations to your own experiences arise easily. Mirdad on the other hand addresses the working of the creation. Removing the obstacle's of miss perception so the Real self can be acknowledged.
As you noted the Michael I know and love lives within me in the simplest memory. The Essence of the Michael I love is my universal Self. It is through the first perception that I cross over to the larger truth. The Little Prince loves his Rose just as I love Michael. It is that act of Love which unites me to it all.
Why this particular Being affected you so deeply must be seen as part of the grand design. Probing the "Why" of that really serves no purpose. Be thankful that your affinity and perception was illuminated and use this to explore the wonders of this creation. No better guide can show you the way.

Thank you and know that you are loved.
Allen B.

markcauble said...

Murray Lerner must have filmed an entire concert of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band with Mike Bloomfield at the Newport Folk Festival. His film "Festival" had a clip of the Band and an interview with Mike Bloomfield. I saw another clip from the concert with a great solo by Mike Bloomfield in a PBS series about the history of rock'n'roll entitled "Rock'N'Roll."Further, I heard several tunes from the Band on Lerner's CD's from the Festivals. It would be wonderful if you could get a DVD release of the concert! We have so little "live" footage of Mike playing and this would be a terrific addition.

Allen Bloomfield said...

Dear Markcauble,
Your absolutely correct. I wish the process was not steep in legalities. This is my understanding regarding the film Festival. It was shoot as a feature length documentary and all who appeared agreed to the terms for that form. Many years later with the improved video format and then the DVD the original contracts were not inclusive as to these newer products. Releases had to be secured and with the passing of time this meant dealing with the estates for those who had passed away. That was no easy task. Once to embark on any project that includes band members and estates the greed factor comes into play. This is in my opinion the sole reason this material is not released. Our site is not driven by financial gain. It is intent on honoring Michael as best as is possible. If it were economically feasible to make more material available we would jump at the opportunity with the understanding that it's intent is to further the aims of the site.
Thank you for the suggestion and know we are committed to exploring Michael in as many ways possible.
Allen B.

Julie said...

Dear Allen:

Just finished reading The Little Prince - I had never heard of it before!

I get it. I got it. I'm on it.

You know, you truly are your "brother's keeper".

your pal,

Allen Bloomfield said...

Dear Julie,
I am super delighted to have shared that with you. Please keep in touch, you are so worth knowing.
Your friend,

Julie said...

Oh for sure I will Allen. Hey, I meant to tell you that I just bought a bunch of blues records and noticed that my copy of Otis Rush's Cold Day in Hell is actually signed by him. Thought that was pretty cool.
happy trails,

Whatever one loves, one finds everywhere, and everywhere sees resemblances and analogies to it. The greater one's love, the vaster and more meaningful is this analogous world. My beloved is the abbreviation of the universe, the universe an elongation, an extrapolation of my beloved. The knowledgeable friend offers all flowers and gifts to his beloved.
- Novalis

Allen Bloomfield said...

Now your talkin Mama!!!