Best Blues Throwdown: The Paul Butterfield Blues Band Tribute
For surviving members of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, playing the group's electric fare still feels as comfortable as an old pair of blue jeans. Guitarist Elvin Bishop took the notion literally: Throwing a black-tie dress code to the breeze, the 72-year-old took the stage in overalls and a green plaid shirt.
But no wardrobe choices could distract from the significance of the late Butterfield's sonic and boundary-breaking social contributions to the blues. A graying Bishop, who performed the Muddy Waters track "Got My Mojo Working" with drummer Sam Lay and keyboardist Mark Nataflin, explained, "We kind of set an example, which was badly needed in those days, that people of different races could work together."
With J. Geils Band singer Peter Wolf offering the band's induction speech (Butterfield died at age 44 in 1987 of a drug overdose; he and deceased guitarist Mike Bloomfield both were recognized), the tribute also featured Zac Brown and Tom Morello on fierce dueling guitars during a hot cover of the Butterfield standard "Going to Chicago." Amid a night of pomp and flash, the skillful Windy City bluesmen — and four-time Rock Hall nominees — displayed their continued model of modesty. "They were musicians first, stars second," Morello, a longtime Butterfield fan, told Rolling Stone backstage.