It is no secret that the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, especially Michael Bloomfield's inventive approach to blues guitar, had a major impact on Robben Fords so it not surprising that the Fords Blues Band would pay homage to the blues legend who passed away in 1987 from a drug overdose.
Formed in the late 60's with brothers Patrick and Robben Ford at the core. Originally named the Charles Ford Band (after their father) with harmonica player Gary Smith, the band toured with Charlie Musselwhite. After leaving Musselwhite, bassist Stan Poplin and younger brother Mark Ford were recruited to form the Real Charles Ford Band. The band was known for their jazz explorations - often jamming up to 30 minutes on a John Coltrane composition. However, blues was always the bands base. The group would go on to record three studio albums ranging from 1972 to 1996 under this name and another six studio albums under the name the Fords Blues Band. At the same time, Robben was making a name for himself as a jazz/fusion/blues player in his own right.
With the 2002 release of A Tribute To Paul Butterfield under the name Robben Ford and the Ford Blues Band marks Robben's twelfth record prior to Blue Moon. With many guest musicians A Tribute… is a comprehensive and straight ahead blues record with fat horn arrangements, smokin' guitar and Butterfield-esc harp. In fact, parts of this collection sound so much like a Paul Butterfield record, it's almost eerie. Harmonica and vocal duties are split down the middle between Mark Ford and Andy Just. While this is a tribute recording and the band does cover such Butterfield classics as "Screamin'", "Last Hope Is Gone" and "No Amount of Loving ", it is more an acknowledgment of the late blues mans influence. In addition to covers of "One More Heartache" and Sonny Boy's "Good Morning Little School Girl", the Fords inject three originals.
The Ford Blues Band chose to record selections from the first seven Butterfield albums to demonstrate both the style and diversity of the blues pioneer. While the group stays fairly close to the original arrangements, there is some room for creative liberties which gives the tunes a distinct freshness. A great tribute record for a great Blues artist who helped brings blues to the masses.
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