The Electric Flag Live in Concert November 1967
Updated: Mar 20
by James Pagliasotti text copyright 2023
Michael Bloomfield credit: Don's Tunes
Mike Bloomfield left a successful stint with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band to start a band that played "American music." The Electric Flag had a brief but important success playing the sounds Bloomfield intended, a mix of blues, soul, jazz, and rhythm & blues. They were among the first of that era to add horns to what was essentially a rock band venturing into a fusion of musical styles.
Personality conflicts among the band's collection of strong personalities at a time of extensive drug use and the pressures of touring drove Bloomfield away before long, and various combinations of personnel under the leadership of drummer Buddy Miles began a period of deterioration and eventual collapse. Once Bloomfield and singer-songwriter Nick Gravenites departed, the band was hallowed out and uninspired.
Bloomfield had played on Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited, and later joined the Paul Butterfield Blue Band, which featured jams between Bloomfield and guitarist Elvin Bishop that had a huge influence on what came to be the San Francisco sound of the latter half of the Sixties. They also were the band that backed Dylan when he went electric at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival.
Bloomfield was tremendously influential on guitarists of that time, a fluent and versatile player who drove simple blues into hard driving rock tunes and moved easily into the jazz-rock fusion that was just emerging at the time. His playing in this concert, which was recorded shortly after the band was formed around a soundtrack for Peter Fonda's movie The Trip, is Bloomfield really bringing it. The band is rough in places, still finding its way, but Michael Bloomfield for a brief period of time was playing the music he'd always wanted to play. We're very fortunate to have a tape of him at his best.
You can hear it HERE.
Mike Bloomfield — lead guitars, vocals
Barry Goldberg — keyboards
Harvey Brooks — bass
Buddy Miles — drums, vocals
Nick Gravenites — rhythm guitars, vocals
Peter Strazza — saxophone
Marcus Doubleday — trumpet
Michael Fonfara — keyboards
Herbie Rich — keyboards, saxophone (
And here's a more detailed look at the band and its history that just arrived in our inbox last night: HERE