37: John Hammond

The Blues have always been John Hammond’s musical passion. Throughout his career he has explored all facets of The Blues from primitive solo acoustic to sophisticated urban played with a who’s who of stellar accompanist. He started in his hometown of New York City as a member of the folk revival but his emphasis was on the blues always leading the pack with his deep knowledge, ability, taste and charisma. He was performing Robert Johnson and incorporating electric accompaniment long before anyone else. He has always performed live throughout his career and generously shares great stories of his life both as a performer and recording artist. In this Sidetrack Liner Notes podcast (the first of 2) we trace his career by exploring his LP s in chronological order. It is with a small amount of pride that we note the John Hammond performed at The Sidetrack Coffee House in 1965. 

Special Thanks to Thomas Goldsmith for saving this original poster from 1965

How Badass could you be in 1964?

Only his 2nd LP for Vanguard and already he was raiding the Chess Catalogue for electric blues. Great cover photo by Barry Finestein husband of Mary Travers.

History made here. Full on electric blues using his friends from Toronto Garth, Levon and Robbie (of The Hawks soon to become The Band) and a few Chicago pals, Mike Bloomfield and Charlie Musselwhite. Who was hanging out at this session getting ideas about “going electric”? None other than his Village friend Bob Dylan.

Most of us first heard about blues legend Robert Johnson from the work of John Hammond. This new book recommended by John goes a long way to clearing up some of the myth and legend without diminishing the the music.

Another must read is this new book about the A&R men of early American roots music recordings. John Hammond’s Father the important Columbia Records executive is given justifiable praise in this book

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