Wednesday, August 27, 2008


In the summer of 1967, I spent a lot of time hanging around with Wick Beavers listening to music at his house in Watch Hill. At that time, Wick (check him out at was just a little hipper than the rest of the summer gang and his taste in music reflected it. Growing up in New York City will do that to the average 15 year old.

Projections by the short-lived band called The Blues Project was the featured album at Club Beavers that summer. I like the sound and ended up buying a copy before heading back to school. That fall, while incarcerated at the juvenile facility in Pottstown, PA, I played Projections repeatedly. In fact, before John Wesley Harding was released in December, it was my album of choice.

Projections was a good album for young ears for two reasons. First, the Blues Project was a band of very talented musicians. Second, the song selection on the album was an eclectic mix of blues, jazz, psychedelia and even folk rock. It was a taste of everything that was not being played on AM Radio at the time.

This album was my second introduction to the music of Al Kooper, who was a major force behind the Blues Project. My first real introduction was hearing the song This Diamond Ring which he wrote for Gary Lewis and the Playboys. It was an number one hit in 1965.

As most music fans know, Al Kooper was a Brill Building boy prodigy who wrote that hit song when he was 15 years old. He also was in the studio for the Highway 61 Revisited sessions, where he created the signature organ riff on Like a Rolling Stone. His experiences with Dylan and Mike Bloomfield (see my post from August 24) on the Highway 61 sessions are an oft-repeated story, which is described first hand in Kooper's book, Back Stage Passes and Back Stabbing Bastards. (Highly recommended and available from Amazon) He also played some of Dylan's earliest electric gigs, including The Newport Folk Festival and Forest Hills.

After the work with Dylan and the brief stint with the Blues Project, Kooper formed Blood Sweat and Tears and was largely reponsible for their successful first album, Child is  Father to the Man. Next, he played with Mike Bloomfield on the Super Session albums. He has played on hundreds of other best selling records. He also discovered Lynyrd Skynyrd and produced their first three albums.

Kooper was back in Dylan's touring band when I saw Bob play in Houston, Texas in 1980. This was the tour after Bob came back from the all Christian period and started playing his old material. It was great to see him on the bandstand and it was an excellent show.

Al Kooper has made a huge contribution to modern music. He has a great website that is worth checking out. As mentioned above, his book is fascinating reading. You should pick it up.


  1. Hey Willie:
    waddya mean." at that time..."?
    cool post.
    A Blues Project addendum:
    The year or two before I graduated from St Paul's, the senior dance committee signed up the Blues Project to play for the spring dance, spring of '68?
    The band drove up to Concord, NH and lost their way to the gym, so they walked into the old traditional hallowed dining hall where it is exactly 10 demerits to arrive without your necktie on and every child, man and wombat (kitchen staffer used colloquially by the well to do "in attendance") literally dropped what they were doing- a total hush- then a huge prep school cheer. Rah Rah! The band was knocked out and didn't know where they'd landed. How weird the band must have thought we were! I remember Danny's Flute song and Al shaking Morraccas to Wake Me Shake Me made out of bud cans mounted on sticks, amped up to the sound gear. It was about then puberty struck, my hair stuck up and I dreamed of never cutting it again... No ivy league for this lad. And that's mostly why I dropped acid and went to Berkeley.

  2. Wick, thanks for your comments. According to my research, the band played at St Pauls in the spring of 1966. Not sure if this is the show you saw. Didn't think you were at the school that year, but maybe you were or they played another date later.

    Great to hear from you.

  3. Whoa, heaven's door! gotta make it in two time.
    Nope, I was there fall 66 to spring 70 and know what I seen.
    Your source is wrong on the date. I can only claim with certainty they were up there when I was.
    I used all my fingers and toes thrice.
    Was Bloomfield in the band then? I used to know a guitar player named Bob Greenspan ( in Jackson that went to school and played with him in chicago and who still plays some mean blues guitar around the greater rockies area and otherwise quiet campsite fires from Yosemite to the Tetons.

  4. Hi William

    I received an e-mail recently from Wick Beavrs, and he mentioned that he thought that the Blues Project show was in spring 1967, but he had absolutely no memorabilia from that time. I was wondering if you had any memorabilia that would help me pin down the date of the show. The listing on my web site is from a visitor to my site who e-mailed me with his best knowledge of that time. But obviously, when he listed that show as spring 1966, he didn't have anything in front of him to confirm the show date.


    Chrome Oxide

  5. Swarthy Bob Greenspan is alive and well and still kickin out the blues - old style - from Moab to Jackson Hole. Best to catch him around a campfire in the Utah wilderness, though.