Danny Kalb
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Danny Kalb

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE
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ARTIST: Danny Kalb and friends

ALBUM: Moving In Blue

(Sojourn Records)

Renowned blues guitarist Danny Kalb not only has a new album, but it’s a double album in which he gets to explore the many sides and facets of the blues. A founding member of Blues Project in 1965 (which also included future Blood Sweat and Tears members Al Kooper and Steve Katz), Kalb is a fine guitarist with a deep understanding of the blues.

This mighty collection kicks off with his own composition “Feel Just Like Goin’ Hom,e” a somewhat generic up-tempo blues rocker. It reveals Kalb’s capable voice and workmanlike skills on the guitar, but it’s the next song where the magic starts. “Death Comes Creeping” far better suits Kalb’s gritty voice, and his hypnotic droning finger picking seems to be more his strong suit. This down-home riverside blues is pure pleasure and downright eerie when he sings “God told Nicodemus, ‘You must be born again.’”

Other traditional covers include haunting acoustic rides through “Got My Mojo Working,” “Can’t Be Satisfied” and “In My Time Of Dying.” Then he goes in a slightly different direction with “Black Coffee,” lush and luxurious in a T Bone Walker way. Kalb also offers a distinctly Chicago take on Big Joe Williams’ “Baby Please Don’t Go” and John Lee Hooker’s “Louise.”

Dylan’s “It Takes a Lot To Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry” and “Make You Feel My Love” are given good updates, while Hank Williams’ “(I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle” shows that early country wasn’t far away from old blues. Originals like “Waitress At the Troubadour,” “Feel Just Like Goin’ Home” and “Mournin’ At Midday” are well-done, but the absolute highlight might be his stunning rendition of Son House’s “Death Letter Blues.” It’s dark, darker than black.

This could actually be broken down into two records: An electric one and an acoustic based one. Eeleased in this manner, howeverm the double CD album offers variety and diversity, showing the many ways you can use three chords and the truth — and Kalb’s singular, masterful take on it.

Kalb plays the Bearsville Theatre on Saturday with the Blues Project.

David Malachowski is a guitarist, producer and freelance journalist living in the Hudson Valley. - Daily Freeman


THE BLUES PROJECT FAMILY TREE - SHOWS LIST
This story is the work of Bruno Ceriotti. Help in putting this together has been provided by Danny Kalb, Steve Katz, Jonathan Kalb, Dave Callow, Christopher Hjort, John Platt, Deena Canale, Dag Warner, David Bennett Cohen, Anne B. Barnard, Doug Scott and H. Nat Stevens, to whom I'm most grateful.


THE DANNY KALB QUARTET (MAR 1965 - JUN 1965)
1) Danny Kalb vocals, lead guitar
2) Andy Kulberg bass, flute
3) Roy Blumenfeld drums
4) Artie Traum rhythm guitar


April 3, 1965: Empire Hotel, Broadway at 63rd Street, New York City, NY with John Hammond Jr, Judy Roderick "Free Speech Hoot"
The band first gig. The show was a benefit for striking students from Bloomington, Ohio.

May 6-20, 1965: Gaslight Cafe, 116 MacDougal Street, Greenwich Village, New York City, NY with Doc Watson
The shows were usually wrongly advertised as solo gigs by 'Danny Kalb'.


THE BLUES PROJECT #1 (OCT 2, 1965 - OCT 2?, 1965)
1) Danny Kalb
2) Andy Kulberg
3) Roy Blumenfeld
4) Tom 'Tommy' Flanders lead vocals, harmonica
5) Steve Katz rhythm guitar, harmonica


October 7-9, 1965: Night Owl Cafe, 118 West 3rd Street, New York City, NY with The Magicians
The band's first gigs. Initially the Night Owl's marquee billed the band as 'The Danny Kalb Quartet featuring Tom Jones' ("Tom Jones" was Tom Flanders' old stage name), but after they changed their name to The Blues Project, they were finally advertised as 'Blues Project featuring Danny Kalb, Tom Flanders'.

October 2?, 1965: unknown bar, Boston, MA

October 2?, 1965 (approximate date): Wesleyan University, 45 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown, CT "fraternity house party"


THE BLUES PROJECT #2 (OCT 2?, 1965 - JAN 1966)
1) Danny Kalb
2) Andy Kulberg
3) Roy Blumenfeld
4) Tommy Flanders
5) Steve Katz
6) Alan Peter Kuperschmidt (aka Al 'Koop' Kooper) vocals, organ


November 9-21, 1965: Cafe Au Go Go, 152 Bleecker Street, Greenwich Village, New York City, NY with Richard Pryor (comedian)
The band was billed as 'The Blues Project with Danny Kalb and Tommy Flanders' on the flyer. Al Kooper's first gigs with the band.

November 24, 1965: Village Theatre, 105 2nd Avenue, New York City, NY with Chuck Berry, The Undercurrents, Jack Walker (MC)
The band also backed up Chuck Berry tonight.

November 24-27, 1965: Cafe Au Go Go, 152 Bleecker Street, Greenwich Village, New York City, NY with Big Joe Williams, Judy Roderick, David Blue, Son House, Bukka White, Skip James, Eric Andersen, John Hammond, John Lee Hooker, Geoff Muldaur, Seventh Sons, T. Bone Walker, Al Kooper, Tommy Flanders, Buzz Linhart, Izzy Young M.C. and great Surprise Guests (Harvey Brooks, Fred Neil, Barbara Dane, New York Public Library and many more) "Blues Bag"
The shows were recorded by 'Verve Records' and some tracks were later released on their debut album: 'Live At The Cafe Au Go Go Featuring Tommy Flanders' (1966), and some other tracks were later released posthumous in their anthology album: 'The Blues Project Anthology' (1997).

December 1-2, 1965: Cafe Au Go Go, 152 Bleecker Street, Greenwich Village, New York City, NY "Workshop"

December 17-26, 1965: Cafe Au Go Go, 152 Bleecker Street, Greenwich Village, New York City, NY with David Blue, The Fugs

January 3-5, 1966: Beverly Hilton Hotel, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, CA "Annual MGM Records Convention"


THE BLUES PROJECT #3 (JAN 1966 - APR 14, 1966)
1) Danny Kalb
2) Andy Kulberg
3) Roy Blumenfeld
4) Steve Katz
5) Al Kooper


January 29-30, 1966: Cafe Au Go Go, 152 Bleecker Street, Greenwich Village, New York City, NY with Oscar Brown Jr.
The shows were recorded by 'Verve Records' and some tracks were later released on their debut album: 'Live At The Cafe Au Go Go Featuring Tommy Flanders' (1966), and some other tracks were later released posthumous in their anthology album: 'The Blues Project Anthology' (1997).

January 31 - February 13, 1966: Cafe Au Go Go, 152 Bleecker Street, Greenwich Village, New York City, NY with Fred Neil (31-13), Judy Roderick (1-6), Richie Havens (7-13)

February 3, 1966: 'The Lloyd Thaxton Show', KCOP Channel 13, KCOP Television Studios, Hollywood, CA with Del Shannon (broadcast date....the show was filmed in January with Tommy Flanders still in the band)
The band perform: 'Hoochie Coochie Men' and 'Back Door Man'.

February ?? or March ?, 1966: unknown venue, Pittsburgh, PA with Stan Getz

March 4, 1966: Clothier Hall, Swarthmore College campus, 500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, PA "1st Annual Swarthmore College Rock Festival"

March 5, 1966: Antioch College, Antioch, OH

March 15-27 and April 1-11, 1966: Cafe Au Go Go, 152 Bleecker Street, Greenwich Village, New York City, NY with Richie Havens (15-27, 1-11), The Myddle Class - Rock Prospopography 102


Danny Kalb and Friends, Moving in Blue. Even if Danny Kalb's seminal '60s band the Blues Project (featuring founder Al Kooper, fellow Morton Report columnist extraordinaire) wasn't really a blues band, the guitarist would still have to be considered one of that decade's musical linchpins. His playing crossed blues with folk, rock, country and even jazz over the course of their albums, and before that he was one of the young white bluesmen who found nirvana in the music of Robert Johnson, Mississippi John Hurt, Lightnin' Hopkins and other originators, and honored their creation with dedication and deep spirit. When the Blues Project recorded songs like "Flute Thing" and "Violets of Dawn" right alongside Jimmy Reed and Chuck Berry burners, they really were inventing something brand new. That it didn't last long is beside the point now, because what the band accomplished spread waves far and wide. Danny Kalb hit a rough patch but came back strong and his solo albums always appear like stepping stones to a sound only he could come up with. He's become an intriguing vocalist over the years, and never wastes a note on guitar. He learned all his lessons well 50 years ago and isn't about to forget them now. This double disc extends in a lot of directions, and lets listeners discover every side of Kalb's wondrous talents. Whether he's playing a Muddy Waters staple or a Tim Hardin gem, leave it to Kalb to find an inner beauty in everything he touches. Part of this album started as a partial Blues Project reunion but eventually became something else entirely. Producer Mark Ambrosino brought together the new recordings with 15 others recorded between 1995 and 2007 to show the entire spectrum of an American treasure. Danny Kalb might move in blue, but his real home is the musical rainbow inside us all. - The Morton Report


If you came of age in the rock and roll years of the 1960s and were into music you knew of Danny Kalb and the band he created The Blues Project. Often referred to as New York City’s “Jewish Beatles,” the group was at first managed by Sid Bernstein, the same man who ran the Fab Four’s New York City tours. You might have heard them at the Paramount Theater in Times Square, where a new group, Eric Clapton and Cream, opened for them. Or you might have heard them play at Palisades Park Amusement Park, at one of Murray the K’s (the most well-known NYC DJ) weekend programs at the park. Most likely, however, you went to hear them at the Café Au Go Go in Greenwich Village, the place for folk, rock and blues.


Now, after years of living in the shadows, Kalb has come out with a masterful two-disc of his most recent work, and is starting to receive major reviews. The latest for his new album Moving in Blue appears in The Morton Report, a major pop-culture review, and is written by its music critic, Bill Bentley. Calling Kalb “one of that decade’s musical linchpins,” Bentley writes that,

“his playing crossed blues with folk, rock, country and even jazz over the course of their albums, and before that he was one of the young white bluesmen who found nirvana in the music of Robert Johnson, Mississippi John Hurt, Lightnin’ Hopkins and other originators, and honored their creation with dedication and deep spirit.”

“The Blues Project,” he says, “spread waves far and wide.” In the new album, Kalb sets out to let you hear all the various musical directions he has absorbed into one unique style. You will hear songs by Muddy Waters, Tim Hardin, Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, a few of his own compositions, and some glorious blues licks and the kind of incredible, finger-picking magic on the guitar of which only he is capable. Kalb finds, as Bentley writes, an “inner beauty in everything he touches.” His home, he concludes, “is a musical rainbow inside us all.”

Another additional treat is the insightful and beautifully written liner notes by historian and musicologist Sean Wilentz — yes, that same Wilentz who is a historian at Princeton University, most well-known for his books on American history, as well as his meditation on our greatest singer-songwriter, Bob Dylan in America. Kalb, whom he says “looks like a Jewish lumberjack Buddha,” is “more like Mandrake” once he starts playing. He says that Kalb stomps with “soulful joy through one genre after another.” He plays such tunes as Son House’s “Death Letter Blues,” the Muddy Waters classic “I Got My Mojo Working,” Leadbelly’s “Leaving Blues,” John Lee Hooker’s “Louise,” and Big Joe Williams “Baby Please Don’t Go.” Many will agree with Wilentz that his version of the traditional “Death Comes Creeping,” sung by many from Dylan to Mance Lipscomb, is done alone on acoustic guitar “more movingly” than interpretations by other past singers.

Accompanying Kalb on the album: his brother Jonathan (himself a fine blues musician) on slide guitar and harmonica, his drummer from The Blues Project Roy Blumenfeld, bass player Jesse Williams and Lenny Nelson, and Sojourn Records co-founder, the label of Kalb’s CD, drummer Mark Ambrosino. There is, as listeners will find, some incredible keyboard and organ work by someone whose name does not appear, but who aficionados will think sounds suspiciously like the famous Blues Project keyboard man, founder of “Blood, Sweat and Tears,” and sideman for most of Dylan’s earlier hits, Al Kooper. The absence of any credit for whomever is playing those awesome keyboards on the CD is rather, I must say, inexplicable. The man deserves credit!

So, go take a break from the TV, stop fretting over the world situation, and enjoy some heartfelt powerful music. Bring some joy into your life. You deserve it, and Danny Kalb deserves to be heard and listened to. - PJ Media


Life hasn't always been kind to overlooked blues guitar legend Danny Kalb. After an all-too-brief burst of fame in the '60s as founder of the Blues Project, Kalb found himself out of the spotlight. He continued to make music, but failed to achieve the high-profile recognition of, say, his friend Bob Dylan or even his former Blues Project bandmate, Steve Katz of Blood, Sweat & Tears. But now, at almost 70 years old, Kalb is gearing up for a comeback, which includes a tour stop at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival. When the blues is your life, why let something like a recent stroke get in the way?

"God has been good to me," Kalb says over the phone from his home in Brooklyn. Three months ago, he wasn't sure what his post-stroke future looked like. Now he's almost fully recovered. "It's a funny thing when you think the worst has happened, that your career is over, or that you're never going to be happy, or not going to play again, and it's the opposite."

Kalb's faith — in himself, his music, and God — has been a guiding principle that's helped him navigate years of uncertainty.

"I believe that you have to try," he says. "I think that the universe wants everyone to be happy and giving. When I was given the gift of guitar playing, I felt wonderful. Later on, when there was a lot of trouble in my life, I kept playing the guitar and I got through. I've been through a lot of hard stuff, but so has everybody else. One way or another, we get through ... Beauty reigns."

Not that Kalb was always able to identify the beauty right away.

"I had my moment of fame as a rock 'n' roll musician with the Blues Project," he recalls. "That was a wonderful time, but then it fell apart. It was a difficult time for years, but I kept playing the guitar, and I went through some more stuff, but it didn't kill me. I've always played the guitar through good times and bad, and I believe it was God's gift to me to keep me going. You don't even have to call it God, you can call it will to live."

Kalb eventually elaborates on the mental challenges that threatened to derail him. "I "It's a lot of effort, a lot of therapy, which I recommend."

In fact, Kalb partly credits blues music with showing him how that change is possible, and it continues to play a starring role in his life. It brought the Blues Project together almost four decades ago, and now it's helped heal Kalb's relationships with his former bandmates. He recently reunited with Blues Project bandmates Al Kooper and Roy Blumenfeld, coming full circle to record together again for Kalb's forthcoming album, Moving in Blue.

"There had been some falling outs, but love is powerful," Kalb says. "The blues is our basic coming together point. It's not a sad music — it's a triumph music, gettin' past anything. Also, when you get older, you realize disagreements are not forever. If you're a person of faith, you realize reconciliation is the name of the game. Even if you're not formally religious or any of that stuff, you know, if you're a grandfather for instance, you know that babies are being born and maybe there'll be transcendence with that son that you didn't get along with. There are so many ways to get back to the garden, as Joni Mitchell would say. There are so many ways to actualize the good and find peace."
- Charleston City Paper


Danny Kalb was the bluesiest member of the Blues Project, the seminal Greenwich Village band of the mid-'60s that helped usher in the blues-rock era. A stunning guitarist, he was among the first to apply the hallmarks of then-emerging psychedelia to American roots music, alternately reeling off demonically speedy, blood-curdling, razor sharp electric solos and deeply penetrating, gutbucket Delta licks that could have come from the masters themselves — if they'd come of age in New York City in the '60s rather than Mississippi in the '30s. He also masterfully incorporated elements of jazz, folk, and soul but Kalb barely had a chance to stake his claim as an innovator when the core band split up after three albums, and he was largely forgotten except by a small hardcore group of admirers. In the ensuing decades Kalb's output has been minimal but I'm Gonna Live the Life I Sing About offers ample proof that his talent and love for the blues remain intact. Naturally, it's not as electrically charged as the Blues Project was, and it doesn't try to be as eclectic. This is more subtle and no-frills, Danny Kalb simply doing what he loves to do and does best: playing and singing classic blues. While there are a few original tunes here, and they are fine efforts, it's his remakes of staples like the opening "I Wish You Would" (Billy Boy Arnold), "You Can't Judge a Book by the Cover" (Willie Dixon), "Samson & Delilah" "If I Had My Way" (Rev. Gary Davis), and "Shake Sugaree" (Elizabeth Cotten) that provide the key moments here. Alternating between acoustic and electric guitars, and working primarily with bassist Bob Jones and drummer Mark Ambrosino, Kalb's playing and singing is enthusiastic and refined, straightforward but still quite inventive. His vocals are arguably better than they were in his younger days. And he still has vision: the title track, a gospel tune by Thomas A. Dorsey, is given a slow blues treatment that may remind old fans of the Blues Project's take on "Two Trains Running," while Little Richard's rocking "Slippin' and Slidin'," a highlight of the album, is toned down and converted into an acoustic shuffle that casts a whole new light on it. Danny Kalb may never receive the historical due he is truly owed, but this set leaves no doubt that the guy's still got it.
- Allmusic


There are only a handful of guitarists from the 60s who influenced what came later. Maybe they didn't achieve huge commercial success or mainstream fame, but in ways that counted far behind those fleeting indicators these musicians made a real difference. Danny Kalb is one of those creators. He co-founded the Blues Project in the mid-60s, and brought together elements of rock, folk and blues in a way that really had not been done, applying huge doses of lyricism and innovative technique to art forms that had existed for a hundred years, taking those sounds into the modern world to inspire others. The singer-guitarist had an uncanny way of injecting modern blues with the softer strains of folk music, at the same time adding volumes of electricity to the mix exactly when needed to amp the excitement level up to eleven.

With keyboardist Al Kooper, the Project became instant Greenwich Village mainstays, and while they didn't have the gritty power of Chicago's Butterfield Blues Band, the New Yorkers were still able to carve out their own space in the burgeoning psychedelic-rock explosion. The band's second album, Projections, stands as a generational high point, and has proven prescient in its amalgamation of styles. Kalb went on to have a few rough years, but came out the other side whole.

I'm Gonna Live The Life I Sing About is a major testament of soul, the kind of album where a man shows what he's made of. Performing songs by everyone from Little Richard to Thomas A. Dorsey along with several moving originals, Kalb demonstrates when someone dedicates their life to music, there really is no turning back. His voice has a weathered sweetness that speaks of the long years and lasting love of the blues, and his guitar tells secrets that could easily come from the spirit world. Just as Mississippi John Hurt and Son House found new fire in the second half of their lives, so does Danny Kalb enter the golden zone with all his gifts ablaze. What a joy.

- Bill Bentley (1/30/09)
- Sonicboomers Review


A mentoree of the great Dave Van Ronk, Danny Kalb first came to attention in the 1960s when he was kicking around the Greenwich Village folk and blues revival with a great cast of characters (Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Pete Seeger, among others), and is best known for founding The Blues Project in 1965. A highly eclectic band that burned out by 1967 because of too many cooks stirring the musical pot, not to mention too many drugs, its ranks included Steve Katz and Al Kooper, and their immense influence, particularly on the jam band scene, is often overlooked. Kalb's career ducked out of the light since then, with relatively minimal studio output and long periods of silence. Occasional appearances on stage over the years for Blues Project reunions and more recent solo and trio group shows are coveted occasions. Although Danny Kalb's artistry and legacy as a guitarist is well respected, he seems somewhat destined to stay the stuff of whispered legend rather than household name. I'm Gonna Live the Life I Sing About (Sojourn) is then the resounding voice of a blues guitar sage, netted from sessions recorded in 2006 and 2007, as well as other cuts stretching back to the late 1990s, with Kalb backed only by bass and drums on most tracks. The juicy, choice covers and three classic-sounding originals ("Gotta Get Goin' Again", "Crazy Girl" and the lilting "Lazy Afternoon") are all played with love and delivered straight up, no chasers. Opening two-shot of Billy Boy Arnold's "I Wish You Would" and a slinky acoustic take on Little Richard's "Slippin' and Slidin'" both come on strong, with the first twirling around on a toe-tapping, head-bobbing rhythm that's begging for a dance floor twitch. My personal favorite track, if I had to pick, is a cover of Elizabeth Cotten's "Shake Sugaree." Lovely and harmonica-steeped, it reels out over imaginary end credits. Throughout the album, Kalb's matter-of-fact voice, weathered by life's joys and sorrows, compliments the undiluted aesthetic. Switching between acoustic and electric guitars, his playing is lustrous and full of life and breath, but never slick or fussy. The notes don't need to beg for attention. Kalb instead infuses each one with an inner glow and you know you are hearing the real, honest deal as you listen to him move.

- - JamBase


Danny has finally released the album that should have followed the breakup of The Blues Project over 40 years ago. His baritone voice is rich and strong. His guitar playing, both acoustic and electric is mesmerizing...The album treads the familiar ground of Little Richard, Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker Reverend Gary Davis and Jimmy Reed, but Danny Kalb honors each songwriter by making each song his own. If you have ever questioned a white man's right to sing the blues you will never hear a more authentic blues man than Danny Kalb and this album is a testament to that fact. To hear him live in a small room is pure magic and this album captures that feeling.
-Stan Beinstein/WDST-FM (Woodstock, NY)
- WDST-FM - Stan Beinstein


A guitar god in the pre-Jimi Hendrix, early 1960s, when he played on albums by Phil Ochs, Bob Dylan, and Judy Collins and founded the influential Blues Project. Danny Kalb continues to show his instrumental mastery. Kalb's second album, All Together Now, following a nearly three decade absence from the studio, is a text-book of six-string wizardry. Performing mostly solo, Kalb rewrites folk, blues and jazz standards, Christmas tunes and originals -- including a heartfelt tribute to the late Dave Van Ronk -- with his highly proficient playing. (CH)

C. 2004 Dirty Linen. Used with permission. - Dirty Linen


Born in Brooklyn on September 9, 1942, Danny Kalb was one of the most innovative guitarists of the ’60s. He began playing acoustic guitar at age 13, and, five years later, had enough country-blues cred to tour with John Lee Hooker, as well as accompany folk legends such as Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, and Judy Collins.

Kalb switched to electric guitar around 1964, and developed a unique, staccato style that separated him from the countless B.B. King imitators of the era. He formed the revolutionary Blues Project with Al Kooper and other eclectic “New York intellectuals” in 1965. The band’s debut, Live at the Cafe Au Go Go, demonstrated its determination to jam, culminating in the following year’s Projections, which included the epic “Two Trains Running” and Kooper’s jazzy “Flute Thing”—both of which showcased Kalb’s prowess as a progressive blues guitarist. Kalb went solo when the band folded in 1967, and his current trio work reveals a mature musician who has lost none of his fierce individuality.

How has the blues changed since you began?
It has deteriorated [laughs]. In the widening cultural divide of identity politics, whites have gotten whiter, and blacks have gotten blacker, and they don’t seem to be intermixing in the black music of the blues anymore. It seems like the white kids do an imitation of the blues. The real blues of Tim Hardin, Dave Van Ronk, and groups such as the Blues Project and Paul Butterfield—who listened to Muddy Waters—became something original through black music. This is what has been lost.

Do you employ different conceptual app- roaches to your electric and acoustic playing?
The acoustic guitar to me is “mother,” because that’s where I came from, and it’s also my child, because I create something new from it. The electric guitar is my thrust into the world with a band to make people rock and roll.

Who are your acoustic influences?
The model for my trio is Josh White and his record Josh at Midnight, from 1955. Unfortunately, he is forgotten now. People should also check out Big Bill Broonzy, Eddie Lang, and Lonnie Johnson.

Do you use modes?
No. I go with what is in my head, and I try to play free. The pentatonic scale is very elastic at implying other scales. I’m inspired by Thelonious Monk’s piano playing, and I try to go in that direction. What I would like to do as a blues artist is take it into abstraction without making it jazz guitar.

What is your current gear setup?
I have a Gibson J-200 that I’ve used since 1962. It’s strung with John Pearce Phosphor Bronze strings, gauged .012, .016, .024w, .032, .042, .053. I also have an Ibanez Artist electric that’s strung with D’Addario strings, gauged .010, .013, .017, .026w, .036, .046.
- Guitar Player


Kalb's instrumental performance is consistently top notch. He makes that guitar sing, wail, plead, and cry. He carefully annunciates the lyrics so that their full meanings clearly come through for full effect. Kalb understands the dance between the words and the strings that give the acoustic music power to knock the listener out without the need for volume. He projects the blues by carefully attending to its meanings and nuances.
-Steve orowitz - Popmatters


Blues Project founder Danny Kalb returns with a new disc of mainly acoustic blues standards on Sojourn
Records’ I’m Gonna Live The Life I Sing About. Kalb is backed on the collection by bassists Lenny Nelson
and drummer and producer Mark Ambrosino with an occasional appearance by his brother Jonathan
Kalb on slide guitar and harmonica. Kalb describes the project as “the record I’ve always wanted to do,”
and it’s evident that these are many of the songs that inspired a young, white kid from Mt. Vernon, New
York, to take up guitar and pay tribute to the folk and blues legends of the day back in the mid-60s.
Although the CD booklet’s photos show a man that’s not been immune to the passing of time, these
songs exhibit an infinite quality when handled by Kalb.
Kalb’s choice in material will not come as a surprise to dabblers in the blues or even rock music fans that
have studied the inspirations of their heroes. One of Kalb’s best choices is Tim Hardin’s “Danville
Dame.” With its “Who’s gonna be the man to put a ring on your hand” refrain, Kalb lays down the basic
track with both acoustic and electric guitar backing voices and gives himself plenty of room to concoct
some wicked solos and fills in between verses. His mastery of his instrument has only improved over
what was already celebrated 40-some years ago. His vocal command pays respect to Hardin, but injects
Kalb’s own blues-drenched delivery and results in a version that feels as if it was always intended to
sound this way. Spend a few minutes listening to Kalb’s reading of Jimmy Reed’s “Shame, Shame, Shame,”
and you’ll know why Reed moved into electric blues rather than acoustic to present his folksy, Chicago
brand of music back in the ’50s. Kalb’s time machine showed him exactly what Reed attempted to do,
and we now have the result available to us as well.
Kalb’s roots in folk and the blues may be best presented on his version of Willie Dixon’s “You Can’t Judge
A Book By Looking At The Cover.” Everybody and their mother has done a version of this song, but
Kalb alters the phrasing just enough to serve as a nod to all that has gone before. This song is an
imbedded part of American culture, and Kalb’s treatment both celebrates that fact and offers up the
respect that Dixon deserves. The artist’s decision not to record an electric guitar part for the piece
shows a discipline and respect that younger students would not have conquered.
I could rave on all day about this record. From the blistering bursts on the opener, Billy Boy Arnold’s “I
Wish You Would” to the stripped-back take on John Lee Hooker’s “I’m In The Mood,” Kalb shows us why
this is the record he’s always wanted to make. He could stop right now and leave us with the perfect
statement on why he’s loved this music for decades. Instead it’s serving as a jumping-off point for Kalb
to enter into his own phase as a well respected master of uniquely American classics.
- Mark Polzin - ClassicRockRevisted.com


Danny Kalb has a lot of musical miles under his belt. He rose to fame as the founder of the legendary group, The Blues Project. Kalb, along with band mates Steve Katz and Al Kooper, formed an early rock and blues fusion band. They were also adept at improvisation during their live performances, similar to The Grateful Dead.

While the original group would only issued three albums, they would leave a lasting influence on music. They have reunited a number of times through the years and Kalb continues to play with them upon occasion. If you would like to hear The Blues Project at their best, seek out a copy of Live At The Café Au Go-Go.

Danny Kalb would remain active in music but release few albums on his own. He would continue to tour with a small trio but also played in support of such artists as Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Judy Collins, and Pete Seeger.

2008 finds Kalb releasing I’m Gonna Live The Life I Sing About. It is a classic blues album with maybe two of the fourteen tracks leaning toward a folk sound. He keeps the music basic. He plays either acoustic or electric guitar with just a bass, drums, and an occasional harmonica in support. In addition to three original compositions he covers songs by the likes of Willie Dixon, Billy Boy Arnold, Jimmy Reed, Joe Williams, and John Lee Hooker. If you like the blues, this is an album for you.

“I Wish You Would” quickly establishes his sound and guitar virtuosity. It is basic electric blues with a boogie beat. His short improvisations within the song’s structure are creative and excellent. His interpretation of the old Little Richard track “Slippin’ and Slidin’” is brilliant. He slows the melody way down and presents the song acoustically. The phrasing is straight blues which enables the lyrics to take on new meaning.

The Willie Dixon tune “You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover” is presented in a frenetic acoustic style. The clarity of his guitar sound is extraordinary and his hand speed remains top notch. “I’m In The Mood,” originally done by John Lee Hooker, retains its ominous feel through both the vocal and guitar sound.

The eleventh and twelfth songs have a different feel. They are lighter in content and move Kalb in a folk direction. “Shake Sugaree” uses a harmonica as a lead instrument to create a lonesome sound. Kalb gives one of his smoothest vocals on this track. “Samson & Delilah (If I Had My Way)” is an old Rev. Gary Davis tune that Kalb updates in a modern folk direction.

I’m Gonna Live The Life I Sing About proves that Danny Kalb is one of the best practitioners of the blues in music today. He has a long, if under the radar legacy, and it’s good to hear him at his best. This album should be a definite buy.

- Blogcritics.com


My heart skipped a beat when I pulled this one out of the mailer. One of my fave old groups was the Blues Project, which Kalb co-founded with Al Kooper and Steve Katz. What a group!! I still frequently listen to the six LPs I have and thought never to hear from Kalb again, as he faded between '68 and '96 (when Kooper got together a BP reunion). The 90s saw a bit of activity and, in 2007, Danny got together with Katz and Stefan Grossman for some picking 'n grinnin', but finding that out led me to Kalb's website, where a small handful of recent live and studio CDs are featured, so the guy's been active again in the last few years, which can be nothing but good.

Here, he displays a larger fidelity to down home stylings than was the case with his work with Blues Project, where the fretbender wielded a mean psych-blues axe always surprising for tripped-out interpretations and betcha-didn't-figure-on-that surprises, delicious as hell. Duos, trios, and quartets are the element in I'm Gonna Live, though, and they give Danny plenty of room to stretch out, sometimes hopping back to the glory days (you really can't sit on that great style), sometimes as gritty as a Harlem back alley, and other times a cross between the two. All but three of the cuts are standards, the remaining trio written by Kalb and sounding as if they too were every inch hallowed oldies.

The vocals are a bit rough around the edges at times, but that's standard for the genre. Overall, especially in cuts like Danville Dame, they fit the mode perfectly, but, really, what the fans will come to this disc for is the great guitar playing, and, sweet Jesus, can Kalb hit the zone like a man possessed! This means that followers of the modernized acoustic style will be more than satisfied with killer updates (check out Shame, Shame, Shame) while lovers of old school will salivate over preternatural licks and vibes, and even aficionados of the Slop 'N Grace Academy (a la prime Faces) will find much to embrace. Then lay an ear to Crazy Girl, a ballad drenched in 60s balladry, revealing why Phil Ochs, Dave van Ronk, and Pete Seeger, among others, readily hired him back in the day. Of all the cuts, however, my fave is Kalb's version of Baby Please Don't Go, an unusually mellow reading immensely pleasing in its radical departure from the customary barnburning normally accorded the legendary song, converting everything beautifully to an entirely new incarnation. Dan never ceases to sieve everything through an innovative eye and dexterous hand, and we can only hope that this new spate of activity and releases is the crossroads of a renewed old pro…because master he was, master he is, and, the Fates willing, master he will continue to be for years to come.

- Acoustic Music.com


Discography

Danny Kalb - Discography

2012 - Danny Kalb and Friends - Moving in Blue
Sojourn Records

2009 - I'm Going to Live the Life I Sing About
Sojourn Records

2006- Live In Brooklyn
Self Released (out of print)

2003 - All Together, Now
Re-released - Sojourn Records 2013

1996 - Chronicles (anthology) Polygram

1995 - Soul Of a Man: Al Kooper Live (w/Al Kooper) MusicMasters

1995 - The Prestige/Folklore Years
(4 CDs) Fantasy

1995 - Livin' With the Blues (Solo)
Relix

1989 - Best of the Blues Project (w/ Blues Project) Rhino

1973 - Reunion in Central Park (w/ Blues Project) MCA

1972 - The Blues Project (w/ Blues Project) Capitol

1971 - Lazarus (w/ Blues Project) Capitol

1968 - Crosscurrents (w/Stefan Grossman) Cotillion/Atlantic

1967 - Live at Town Hall (w/ Blues Project) Verve/Forecast

1966 - Projections (w/ Blues Project) Verve/Folkways

1966 - Live at the Cafe Au Go Go (w/ Blues Project) Verve/Folkways

1964 - The Folk Stringers (w/Barry Kornfeld) Prestige

1964 - The New Strangers (w/Sam Charters) Prestige/Folklore


Additional Recordings:

1963 - True Endeavor Jug Band (w/Sam Charters, Artie Traum) Prestige/Folklore
1964 - Ragtime Jug Stompers (w/Dave Van Ronk) Mercury
1964 - All the News That's Fit To Sing (by Phil Ochs) Elektra
1965 - The Fifth Album (by Judy Collins) Elektra
1966 - Waist Deep in the Big Muddy (w/Pete Seeger) Columbia

Photos

Bio

Danny Kalb will release Moving In Blue on Sojourn Records nationally via NAIL Distribution May 13, 2013. Delayed to health setbacks and expansion, the release is a sprawling 25-track double CD of recordings spanning over a decade.

With the release of Moving In Blue, Kalb deeply mines the cannon of the American songbook, mixing traditional folk, blues and gospel standards (“Baby Please Don’t Go”, “Got My Mojo Working”, “I’ll Fly Away”), and some early rock ‘n’ roll (“Sally Go ‘Round The Roses” by The Jaynetts and later Tim Buckley and Pentangle) with lesser known treasures (“God’s Radar” as performed by Dixie Hummingbirds, “Black Coffee” a performed by Sarah Vaughn, “So Doggone Lonesome” by Johnny Cash). There are two Dylan covers from two different eras (“It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry” and “Make You Feel My Love” ). Reoccurring themes include love and longing (“Can’t Be Satisfied”, “Waitress”), religion and mortality (“Death Creeping”, “Goin’ Down Slow”), and transportation (“Lonesome Whistle”, “Yellow Cab”). Kalb’s self penned numbers opens disc 1 with a sort, sprightly 2-minute rock number (“Feel Just Like Going Home”) and closes disc 2 with “Yellow Sky”, a ballad which wouldn’t sound out of place on the Johnny Cash’s later sessions produced by Rick Rubin.

Appearing musicians on the CD are friends from Danny’s past (Al Kooper, Roy Blumenfeld) and present (Mark Ambrosino). Culled from nearly a decade of formal and informal recordings at The Madhouse, the flagship Queens studio of Ambrosino and his label Sojourn Records, Moving In Blue embodies the perfection of a great, labored work, lovingly recorded, mixed and mastered over years of time.

Kalb has been on the mend from a minor stroke, delaying the release of Moving in Blue. Fortunately, Kalb has been quickly able to return to the stage with voice and guitar chops intact, and has been able to play dates in the Northeast and the South over the first half of this year, culminating in a triumphant appearance at the Piccolo Spoleto festival in Charleston, SC last June as well as a series of small Northeast theater dates last November with a reformed Blues Project.

In 2009 Kalb recorded a fully realized studio “comeback” record for Sojourn Records with studio session drummer and label president Mark Ambrosino entitled I’m Going To Live The Life I Sing About. The album was released to critical acclaim featuring subtle, no-frills covers of classic blues and early rock ‘n’ roll by artists such as Elizabeth Cotton, Willie Dixon, Rev. Gary Davis and Little Richard.

At 70 years of age, Danny Kalb has a recording history dating back to the early 60’s. Starting as a peer of Dave Van Ronk in the Greenwich Village acoustic folk-blues scene (including an early radio appearance with a very young Bob Dylan), Kalb appeared on such early folk releases as The True Endeavor Jug Band (1963), The New Strangers (1964), The Folk Stringers (1964) and The Rag Time Jug Stompers with Dave Van Ronk (1964). He appeared on Elektra Records Blues Project compilation album (1964) covering that scene, as well as session work for Phil Ochs’ All The News That’s Fit To Sing (1964) and Judy Collins 5th Album (1965). Kalb also performed session work on Pete Seeger’s’ Waist Deep in The Big Muddy and Other Love Songs (1967) and Jimmy Witherspoon’s Blues Singer (1969).

Kalb came into legendary blues pioneer status with the formation of the Blues Project in 1965, being among the first blues-rock hybrid guitarists. The group’s classic period with Al Kooper, Steve Katz, Andy Kulberg and Roy Blumenfeld includes Live at the Café Au Go Go (1966), Projections (1966), and The Blues Project Live at Town Hall (1967) as well as their only Billboard charting single “No Time Like The Right Time” (1967). Kalb left the band with Katz, prior to Planned Obsolescence (1968), which was released by the remaining members under the Blues Project moniker at the insistence of Verve before they became Seatrain. Kalb returned with the reformed Blues Project with Lazarus (1971) and The Blues Project (1972), The Blues Project disbanded in 1972 with their final recording. The Original Blues Project Live At Central Park issued in 1973.

Kalb returned to releasing music in mid-90’s, recording for Relix Records with Livin' With The Blues (1995), and rejoined Katz and Grossman for Played A Little Fiddle (2006).

Kalb self-issued an acoustic title, All Together, Now (2003) as well as two live titles: Live in Princeton (2003) and Live In Brooklyn (2006).