Paul Butterfield was indisputably one of the titans of blues harmonica. His energetic, fluid and melodic style bridged the gap between classic Chicago Blues and rock music. He bought a whole new audience to the blues, as well as stretching and redefining what blues could be.
Even more importantly, by proudly and unapologetically taking his interracial band on the road he confronted and broke down regressive cultural barriers and helped normalise mixed-race bands generally. Astonishing this should still have been an issue in the ’60s but there you go.
Horn from the Heart is the long-awaited documentary on his life and music. It’s been doing the rounds at film festivals for what seems like forever, and collecting positive notices as it goes. Today it’s finally available as a rental from iTunes (presumably it’ll widen to more platforms in time).
Essential viewing. Here’s a trailer.