Nick Gravenites – Rogue Blues


Nick Gravenites is cool. For his intuition for locating the second, notably again within the Sixties, I’d liken him to Neal Cassady,* the counter-culture icon who was taken into the beatnik fold in Nineteen Fifties New York by Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg (the character Dean Moriarty in Kerouac’s On the Street was stated to be primarily based on him, and he additionally featured in a number of of Ginsberg’s poems) and later one way or the other discovered his strategy to the West Coast the place he drove the bus for Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters within the Sixties.

Like Cassady, Gravenites managed emigrate from one avant-garde motion to a different. After turning into enamored with the Chicago blues scene together with gifted younger white musicians like Paul Butterfield, Elvin Bishop, Michael Bloomfield, Charlie Musselwhite and Steve Miller whereas nonetheless a pupil on the College of Chicago within the early Sixties, Gravenites made his strategy to his strategy to San Francisco, the place he grew to become accustomed to the Haight-Ashbury scene and based a band, Electrical Flag with Bloomfield.

Whereas in Chicago, Gravenites wrote “Born in Chicago,” which grew to become a staple of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and with Bloomfield penned “East-West,” the title tune of the Butterfield band’s second album. He collaborated ceaselessly with Bloomfield earlier than forming Electrical Flag with him, as Bloomfield was in search of an edgier sound than the Butterfield band supplied.

All through the late Sixties and 70s, Gravenites grew to become a well-liked studio fixture and tune author, producing for such artists as Brewer & Shipley (“One Toke Over the Line”) and writing songs for the likes of Janis Joplin, Howlin’ Wolf, James Cotton, Roy Buchanan, Tracy Nelson, and Pure Prairie League. He has continued to play regionally in northern California.

Now, at 85, Gravenites remains to be making nice music. Rogue Blues, which groups Gravenites up with Musselwhite, Pete Sears, Jimmy Vivino, Barry Sless, Wally Ingram and Lester Graham, is a stripped down, easy EP with six songs written by Gravenites and one by Howlin’ Wolf, “Poor Boy,” for which Gravenites wrote extra verses for Wolf’s London Howlin’ Wolf Classes (which featured Eric Clapton. Steve Winwood and others). The picks of the litter, for me, are “Poor Boy” and “Blues Again Off of Me.” It’s a terrific EP to get pleasure from whereas driving the California Zephyr between Chicago and San Francisco – or possibly simply in your morning drive to work.

*Be aware, in my 2011 evaluate of John Prine’s The Singing Mailman Delivers, I posited that “if Mark Twain was a singer-songerwriter, he would have sounded one thing like John Prine.” That quote was picked up, and correctly attributed, by the Prine Shrine, however, finally, publications calling Prine the “Mark Twain of singer-songwriters” began popping up throughout with out crediting Twangville. Effectively, right here’s my warning that should you describe Nick Gravenites because the Neal Cassady of blues-rock with out crediting Twangville, nothing will occur to you at first. Nevertheless, you’ll be consumed by guilt and, finally, really feel unhappy. Additionally, should you ever present yer face in these right here elements, the posse will spherical you up and drive ya’ll out of city.

Concerning the writer:  Invoice Wilcox is a roots music fanatic lately relocated from the Washington, DC space to Philadelphia, PA and again once more.


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