He picked up the guitar at the age of 13 and hasn’t put it down since. He attended the University of Wisconsin but couldn’t resist the pull of Greenwich Village which was in the midst of a musical explosion boasting the likes of Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Richie Havens, Eric Anderson and Odetta. Blues guitarist, composer, and singer/songwriter Danny Kalb has been around Brooklyn so long that he runs the risk of being nicknamed "the mayor of Brooklyn." (Kalb's mentor, the late folk-blues singer and guitarist Dave Van Ronk, was so associated with certain Lower Manhattan basket houses that he was often referred to as "the mayor of MacDougal Street.") Kalb has enjoyed a successful solo career in the ensuing years, but he is perhaps still best known for founding the Blues Project, a groundbreaking 1960s blues-rock group, in 1965. As he continued to develop his chops on acoustic and electric guitars, Kalb realized that electric rock & roll music would soon eclipse the folk and blues renaissance that had been going on in the first half of the 1960s, so in 1965 he formed the Blues Project with some peers from Mount Vernon and New York City. The fact that Kalb founded the Blues Project in 1965 puts him alongside other white pioneers in the world of blues music, people like John Hammond in the U.S.
and a host of others in England, including Long John Baldry, Eric Burdon, Rod Stewart, Mick Fleetwood, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and literally dozens of other now-prominent rock musicians. Kalb was a big part of the 1960s renaissance of blues and folk music, which involved blues becoming hugely popular among white suburban audiences for the first time, as they were exposed to classic bluesmen like Mississippi John Hurt, Skip James, and others at folk festivals. African-American bluesmen and women like John Lee Hooker, Hurt, James, Rev. Gary Davis, Muddy Waters, Big Bill Broonzy, and Big Mama Thornton, who lacked much formal education, found validation, new identities, and new audiences as white folks packed theaters and outdoor folk festivals to see them perform.
A protege of the great Dave Van Ronk, Danny established himself on this seminal folk and blues revival scene, first as a solo performer and session player with Phil Ochs, Pete Seeger and others, and later in his own right and in The New Strangers, his duo with Sam Charters. He absorbed the scene, jamming with blues greats Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker. Kalb co-founded the Blues Project in 1965 with several other Brooklynites, including Al Kooper, who later went on to a successful solo career. Along with Steve Katz, Andy Kulberg, and Roy Blumenfeld, original founding members also included Artie Traum and Tommy Flanders.
The Blues Project's first album, Live at the Café Au Go Go, sold in excess of 100,000 copies the year it was released, signaling that Kalb and Kooper's instincts were correct about blues-rock eclipsing acoustic blues and folk music. The group played to sold-out crowds in San Francisco and played three massive Central Park concerts in New York City in 1966. In recent years, a two-CD retrospective set of the Blues Project's music has been released on Polygram/Chronicles. The box set is a good introductory point for listeners wanting to know more about them, since many of their vinyl albums are now long out of print.
After the Blues Project had pretty much run their course as a group by 1972 or so, Kalb began to establish a career as a solo artist. His live shows include some of the Blues Project songs that have always been part of his repertoire, and he typically works with a trio that includes drummer Mark Ambrosino and bassist Bob Jones. In the years that followed, he formed other bands and spent several years in retreat, living mainly in California. During this time, he continued to perfect his art and perform for his loyal following. He also contributed to recordings by Judy Collins, Phil Ochs and Dave Van Ronk among others.
In addition to playing all dimensions of the blues guitar — both electric and traditional — he explored other genres of guitar composition: modern atonal and open tunings. Danny is also a teacher and has taught seminars and clinics. Danny has performed as a solo artist and in trio settings up and down the East Coast in recent years, and this is the part of his career that’s inspired I’m Gonna Live The Life I Sing About. Gritty blues, originals, and standards, his touch on the guitar is as exciting and individual as ever.
From folk to blues to jazz, Danny’s experimental mindset and talent played significant part in redefining musical genres and boundaries and he is still an influence, as ahead now as he was when he began. Danny Kalb is also on Last.fm here: Danny Kalb & Friends Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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