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samedi 7 novembre 2020


AMERICAN FOLK BLUES FESTIVAL 1965/ The Complete Sessions



Although it occurred 55 years ago (!), I vividly remember this show that I attended at the Salle Pleyel in Paris. The Salle Pleyel was a famous concert hall where mostly classical concerts were shown. For most of the artists featured on the American Folk Blues Festival 1965, the European experience was their very first and they were quite shy before an audience that certainly didn’t react the same way than on Chicago clubs, Mississippi juke joints or even a Newport Folk Festival. A very young Buddy Guy was particularly nervous although he played great guitar licks during all the show. J.B. Lenoir, coached by Willie Dixon, came as an acoustic solo act. But if in 1962, the French audiences (mostly then coming from the jazz circles) booed sometimes a T-Bone Walker whom they found too histrionic, too electric and too flashy for the idea they had of the “real” blues, the 1965 audiences were certainly not still in that mood. In three years, largely thanks to those AFBF tours, a growing number of hardcore blues fans formed a large amount of the audience and they had now records and fanzines exclusively dealing with the blues. And the poor J.B. Lenoir playing a restrained (and to my ears very emotional) country blues instead of the flashy Chicago, sax-lead, of his Chess records was booed by some! The great Eddie Boyd buried behind his too large piano seemed somewhat lost on this wide concert hall. Of course, a John Lee Hooker who was already a familiar figure on those shores and who had enjoyed a smash hit in France with his record of “Shake it baby” from the AFBF 1962 (I remember this 45 was on all the jukeboxes for years), handled very well the audience, playing solo and then backed by the band. And Big Mama took the audience by storm with a rocking set.


Well, 55 years after, the records made during this tour stand as pure classics by true blues greats and their music is the real blues of the 1950’s-60’s, before any rock-influence would somewhat change the beat and the solos as well as the music altogether.

            I don’t know why – in contrary to the other years – those tracks were recorded in studio instead of live in concert although I know for sure all the live performances – at least in France but I suppose almost everywhere in Europe as well – were recorded and broadcasted on French radio stations like Europe1. I heard them during those times. In which vaults those sessions are buried? It’s pretty sure that they still exist somewhere and maybe some hard researchers will find them and issue on records like it has been done by the Fremeaux label for the AFBF Paris sessions some years ago.

            I have tried to gather all the known tracks recorded in October 1965 by those fine bluesmen (and woman). Thanks a lot to Xyros for his help.

                                                                        Gérard HERZHAFT


All tracks recorded 7 october 1965, Hamburg, Germany.

J.B. Lenoir, vcl/g.

01. Everybody crying about Vietnam

02. If I get lucky

J.B. Lenoir, vcl/g; Fred Below, dms.

03. I feel so good

04. Down in Mississippi

J.B. Lenoir, vcl/g; Big Walter Horton, hca.

05. Slow down

Big Walter Horton, vcl/hca; Buddy Guy, g; Jimmy Lee Robinson, bs; Fred Below, dms.

06. Blues harp shuffle

07. Christine

08. Walter’s blues

Fred Mc Dowell, vcl/g.

09. Highway 61

10. Going down the river

11. Got a letter this morning

Roosevelt Sykes, vcl/pno; Buddy Guy, g; Jimmy Lee Robinson, bs; Fred Below, dms.

12. Come on back home

13. Sail on

Eddie Boyd, vcl/pno; Buddy Guy, g; Jimmy Lee Robinson, bs; Fred Below, dms.

14. Five long years

15. Five more long years

16. The big question

Jimmy Lee Robinson, g; Buddy Guy, bs; Fred Below, dms.

17. Rosalie

John Lee Hooker, vcl/g; Buddy Guy, bs; Fred Below, dms.

18. Della May

19. Della Mae

20. King of the world

Buddy Guy, vcl/g; Jimmy Lee Robinson, bs; Fred Below, dms.

21. First time I met the blues

22. Southside jump

Big Mama Thornton, vcl; Buddy Guy, g; Jimmy Lee Robinson, bs; Fred Below, dms.

23. Hound dog n°1

24. Hound dog n°2

Doctor Isaiah Ross, vcl/g/hca/dms.

25. Farewell baby

26. My black name is ringing

Everybody: Big Walter Horton, hca; Big Mama Thornton, hca; Dr Ross, hca; John Lee Hooker, hca; J.B. Lenoir, hca; Eddie Boyd, pno; Roosevelt Sykes, pno; Buddy Guy, g; Jimmy Lee Robinson, bs; Fred Below, dms.

27. Down home shakedown

16 commentaires:

  1. AFBF 1965/ The Complete Sessions

    OK? And don't be shy to send comments

  2. Very nice - some excellent music and musicians here. TYVM Gerard.

  3. As always greatly appreciate all that you do, Gerard!

  4. Thanks for this Gerard. We never got any AFBF tours to Australia, it must have been wonderful to have seen so many legends in one evening.

  5. Salut Gerard,
    d'abord 'bon anniversaire';merci pour le nouveau post;bon weekend et garde-toi bien mon ami.

  6. Thanks Gerard. I had AFBF 1963 and 1964 so this is a very welcome addition.

  7. Thank you, Gerard, for this AFBF series!

    I have always loved them and when I discovered them, I collected all that I could find The artwork was also wonderful, I dream of winning the lottery and decorating my house with all of the original tour posters. I discovered the AFBF recordings when they were released on the L+R label in the US and had somehow all ended up in the discount bin by the time I was aware of their existence, which was fortunate for me. I scoured local National Record Marts (our main local record store chain at the time) until I found them all. They're still like a holy grail of blues for me.

    It was probably around this time that I realized the irony of the fact that European blues fans, promoters, labels, etc. were more aware of and had more respect for and helped these mostly-overlooked gems of American blues more than they got at home in America. And that labels in Europe like L+R, Bear Family (especially!), Black Magic, Black & Blue, Storyville, JSP, Big Bear, etc. etc. etc. did much more for American blues artists and had consistently fantastic blues releases.

    Also, when the FILMS of the AFBF came out, I was in 7th heaven!

    Because Lippmann & Rau, the AFBF organizers & promoters seemed to have such wonderful insight & foresight to record and release these annual AFBF recordings, I dream that in their archive they at least recorded audio of every show on the AFBF tours (...and hopefully more professionally recorded film/video also, as there's a good amount on YouTube at least that I don't think is or has ever been available commercially). Let's find and mine this archive goldmine. :-)

  8. Incredible job of compiling these great performances, thank you!

  9. Merci beaucoup, Gerard!
    By the way, also the three fantastic tunes by Big Mama Thornton with Fred McDowell (released on Arhoolie) I think they belongs to these very same dates/places, aren't?

  10. The whole Arhholie album was recorded during this 1965 European tour. I didn't include it here because the Arhoolie album is still easily available. But all the tracks come from those weeks when Big Mama was touring with great names like Big Walter, Buddy Guy, Mc Dowell, Eddie Boyd... She was very fascinated by Fred, saying he reminded her her childhood years in the country, and I guess she insisted to record only with him.