Paul Butterfield - Mystery Train - Classic Blues Videos
with The Band in 1976
Blues harmonica master Paul Butterfield performs "Mystery Train" with The Band as part of the famous concert The Last Waltz at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco, California in 1976.
Paul Butterfield (17 December 1942 – 4 May 1987) was an American blues vocalist and harmonica player, who founded the Paul Butterfield Blues Band in the early 1960s and performed at the original Woodstock Festival.
The son of a lawyer, Paul Butterfield was born and raised in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood, where he attended the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, a private school associated with the University of Chicago. After studying classical flute with Walfrid Kujala of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as a teenager, he developed a love for the blues harmonica, and hooked up with white, blues-loving, University of Chicago physics student Elvin Bishop ("Fooled Around and Fell in Love"). The pair started hanging around black blues musicians such as Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter and Otis Rush. Butterfield and Bishop soon formed a band with Jerome Arnold and Sam Lay (both of Howlin' Wolf's band). In 1963, the racially mixed ensemble was made the house band at Big John's, a folk music club in the Old Town district on Chicago's north side. Butterfield was still underage (as was guitarist Mike Bloomfield.)
Butterfield played and endorsed (as noted in the liner notes for his first album) Hohner harmonicas, in particular the diatonic ten-hole 'Marine Band' model. He played using an unconventional technique, holding the harmonica upside-down (with the low notes to the righthand side). His primary playing style was in the second position, also known as cross-harp, but he also was adept in the third position, notably on the track East-West from the album of the same name, and the track 'Highway 28' from the "Better Days" album.
Seldom venturing higher than the sixth hole on the harmonica, Butterfield nevertheless managed to create a variety of original sounds and melodic runs. His live tonal stylings were accomplished using a Shure 545 Unidyne III hand-held microphone connected to one or more Fender amplifiers, often then additionally boosted through the venue's public address (PA) system. This allowed Butterfield to achieve the same extremes of volume as the various notable sidemen in his band.
Butterfield also at times played a mixture of acoustic and amplified style by playing into a microphone mounted on a stand, allowing him to perform on the harmonica using both hands to get a muted, Wah-wah effect, as well as various vibratos. This was usually done on a quieter, slower tune.
"I guess if you stay around long enough, they can't get rid of you."