Song of the Day: Blues Project, “Fly Away”

Jim has a great theme today: “A song by a band that you wish were still together.”

The Blues Project got its start in New York City in the early ’60’s. with a 1964 album on Elektra Records called The Blues Project. One of the musicians on that album was Danny Kalb, an acoustic guitarist. He was influenced, as were many at the time, by The Beatles, and traded in his acoustic guitar for an electric, forming The Danny Kalb Quartet in early 1965 with guitarist Artie Traum, bassist Andy Kuhlberg, and drummer Roy Blumenfeld. Traum decided to spend the summer in Europe, so Kalb found guitarist Steve Katz (who also played harmonica) as a temporary, then permanent replacement. They brought singer Tommy Flanders on later that year and changed the name of the group to The Blues Project.

They auditioned for Columbia Records late that year, and the producer on the session, Tom Wilson, brought in session keyboardist Al Kooper to supplement the band. Columbia didn’t sign them, so Wilson signed them to Verve/Folkways Records. Their first album was recorded in November 1965 with a live performance at the Cafe Au Go Go. The album was named, surprisingly enough, The Blues Project Live at The Cafe Au Go Go.

In all, the band released four albums before first Kooper, then Katz and Kalb left. Kooper and Katz started Blood Sweat & Tears, Kuhlberg and Blumenfeld formed Seatrain from the wreckage of the Blues Project, and Kalb went back to the acoustic guitar. The band reunited for a concert in Central Park in 1973 called, surprisingly, Reunion In Central Park, which was the first I heard of them. Being the sort of compulsive person I can be, I couldn’t get enough.

They did straight-ahead blues, blues-rock, and folk-rock. “Fly Away,” written by Al Kooper, is an example of the latter. This is from their 1966 album Projections.

Deep within your heart you’re sick
The feelin’s gone – the road’s too slick
Your face has changed – it’s rearranged
There’s no way out you cry

But I know better than ya do
The lies ya tell – they all are true
About your trips through paper clips
You’re hung up on the sky

Oh and though it’s not for me to say
About the thoughts you thought today
I can only promise you that everything I said is true
There’s nothin left for you to do but fly….

Fly away and hope the sky enfolds you
Fly away don’t say I never told you

The clothes you wore you’ve burned them all
And naked now it’s hard to crawl
To find relief from pseudo-grief
The table’s turnin’ fast

While tears of joy have turned to blood
You’re sinkin deeper in the mud
And the more ya scream it’s just a dream
The darkness comes at last

Oh and though it’s not for me to say
About the thoughts you thought today
I can only promise you that everything I said is true
There’s nothin left for you to do but fly….

Fly away and hope the sky enfolds you
Fly away don’t say I never told you

Source: Genius

Actually, in a way, my wish has come true: Steve Katz and Roy Blumenfeld have joined with Chris Morrison on lead guitar, Scott Petito on bass, and Ken Clark on keyboards and vocals to form a new vesion of the band. Actually, if you read their bio on Wikipedia, the band has never really split up. Is this version of the band as good as the original lineup? You tell me…

You can hear all the songs recorded in this session (“Don Odell’s Legends”) here. I miss the original members (Kalb and Kooper are still with us, while Kuhlberg passed in 2008), but this is a darn good band, and Lord knows I learned a lot about playing harmonica by listening to Steve Katz, who doesn’t seem to have lost anything.

Anyway, that’s Song Lyric Sunday (and Song of the Day) for October 16, 2022.

21 thoughts on “Song of the Day: Blues Project, “Fly Away”

  1. Very nice music which is all new to me. Fly Away did not sound like a Blues song, except for the harmonica part, but it is really nice. You Go, I’ll Go With You was much more Bluesy and it is a great song, thanks for introducing me to this band John.


  2. I’m ashamed to say I’ve never heard of this band! I guess their sound didn’t travel across the pond to us, which is a little surprising as they sound like other bands of that era who did. I think I would have liked them back then 😊


    1. I think sometimes they didn’t get their name out of New York City. I didn’t know of them until I happened to see an article about Al Kooper where he talked about them. Then I had to have everything they did.

      Liked by 1 person

          1. That’s much closer to what we had here. Among the main acts here were John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac (before PG left and they went AOR soft rock).


  3. Hi John – I’ve enjoyed listening to both of them … I just so enjoy being here and seeing what you’ve selected … and also reading the snippets … cheers Hilary


  4. I remember the band, but I didn’t know their music well. I think I had an 8 track cartridge version of one of their albums, but that disappeared decades ago.

    Arlee Bird
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