Marin Civic Auditorium in San Rafael, CA
This one takes a little bit of patience, but is well worth the 11 minutes. Butterfield is leading a band on September 29, 1984 at the Marin Civic Auditorium in San Rafael, CA. The concert was staged by Bill Graham. The backup band included Butterfield’s old friend and bandmate, Elvin Bishop, as well as Carlos Santana, and Rick Danko, lately of The Band, and an excellent horn section called the Tower of Power.
From Butterfield’s first 3-note trill at the 6-second mark, 2-draw, 3-draw bent, 4-draw slightly extended, you can see who is in charge here. That trill is not answered on his harp, but by one of the guitarists almost 6 minutes later. You will hear it and recognize it. During the first half of the video, guitarists and horn blowers play freely, with musicians grabbing solos in turn, almost at will. Watch what happens at the 6:00 mark, however: Butterfield takes charge, changes the rhythm and pace, and launches into a hard version of “New Walkin’ Blues,” blowing on the harp then taking the vocals for himself. Stunning. Yes, this song is an updated version of Robert Johnson's classic "Walkin' Blues," and you will not find a better rendition of it anywhere. And if you can stop yourself from bopping and rolling in your chair as you watch Butterfield establish then dig into that pulsing beat, good for you, ‘cause I can’t.