Paul Butterfield, Blues-Rock Pioneer: Documentary

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Paul Butterfield

Horn From The Heart: The Paul Butterfield Story is the title of a new feature-length documentary about the life and career of blues-rock musician Paul Butterfield. The film has been screening at various film festivals and will be shown starting this weekend on July 29, through Aug. 5, in Cape Cod, Mass., at the 26th annual Woods Hole Film Festival.

The film includes appearances by David Sanborn, Elvin Bishop, Bonnie Raitt, B.B. King, Maria Muldaur, Jac Holzman, Sam Lay, Mark Naftalin, Marshall Chess, Michael Bloomfield, Nick Gravenites, Buzz Feiten, Jim Kweskin, Geoff Muldaur, Happy Traum, Al Kooper, Clydie King, Corky Siegel, Barry Goldberg, Trevor Lawrence, Paul Shaffer, Joe Boyd, Cindy Cashdollar, Todd Rundgren, Steve Madaio, Anton Fig, Jim Rooney, James Montgomery, Jimmy Vivino and Bob Dylan.

The documentary, directed and produced by John Anderson (nominated for a Grammy for Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE), received the award for Outstanding Achievement In Filmmaking: Editing at the Newport Beach Film Festival.

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band

The film’s web page offers a description: “ A white, teenage harmonica player from Chicago’s south side, Paul learned the blues from the original black masters performing nightly in his own back yard. Muddy Waters was Paul’s mentor and lifelong friend, happy to share his wisdom and expertise with such a gifted young acolyte.

“The interracial Paul Butterfield Blues Band, featuring the twin guitar sound of Michael Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop, the rhythm section of Sam Lay and Jerome Arnold and the keyboards of Mark Naftalin, added a rock edge to the Chicago blues, bringing an authenticity to its sound that struck a chord with the vast white rock audience and rejuvenated worldwide interest in the blues. The band’s first LP, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band released on Elektra Records in 1965, was named “#11 Blues Album of All Time” by Downbeat.

Related: Dylan changes rock music at Newport, 1965

“The only artist to perform at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and Woodstock in 1969, Paul would continue to break new ground in the blues and to stand up for racial equality until his death at age 44 in 1987 of a drug overdose. Through his music and words, along with first-hand accounts of his family, his bandmates and those closest to him, Horn From The Heart: The Paul Butterfield Story tells the complex story of a man many call the greatest harmonica player of all time.”

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The Paul Butterfield Blues Band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.

Watch the trailer for Horn From the Heart

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