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Nick Gravenites David LaFlamme Band Video


Nick Gravenites & David La Flamme

Nick Gravenites, David La Flamme & Roy Blumenfeld.

Nick Gravenites David LaFlamme Band

Nick Gravenites, singer, songwriter, guitarist extraordinaire.  David "White Bird" LaFlamme, electric violinist.  Roy Blumenfeld, drummer of choice, originally from Al Cooper's Blues Project.  John Beckwith, bass guitar and backbone of the band.

Since getting together in January, 2007, these oldtimers have been cookin' with new fire.

Nick Gravenites, singer, songwriter, guitarist;

 Nick The Greek' 'Born in Chicago' Gravenites is a living legend.  A survivor of the tough Southside of Chicago and heady late sixties music scene.  Through all the years he never stopped playing and continues to delight audiences today with his original Chicago blues, San Francisco rock and roots music.  Nick Gravenites performs solo, as part of the Chicago Blues Reunion, with the re-formed Electric Flag, and whenever possible with his old friend electric violinist David LaFlamme.

 FORTY-FIVE years ago in San Francisco, bluesman Nick Gravenites wrote the song "Born in Chicago," the first big hit for the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. It was a song that vocalist Gravenites first sang in a folk duo with the late blues guitar-wizard Mike Bloomfield. "It was a fluke that it became a hit," says Gravenites.  The song got recorded because harmonica-great Butterfield asked Bloomfield to join his band, and Bloomfield insisted on recording the Gravenites classic. Smitten by the blues, Gravenites was a bold kid back in his native Chicago. He wasn't afraid to explore the tough Southside clubs and joints where legends like Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf were lighting up the town. That's where Gravenites developed his raunchy, "blue-collar" vocal and guitar style, which drips of that Southside grit and soul. "Nick was a real link to Chicago," says Tom Mazzolini, founder of the San Francisco Blues Festival. "He saw it firsthand, and is a remaining member of that era." Often called "The Greek," for his heritage, Gravenites had another original song he played with Bloomfield that borrowed from the Greek music he listened to as a kid. It became the foundation for the Butterfield Blues Band classic "East/West," which featured the mystical, peaking lead guitar of Bloomfield.

The blues and an eye-opening reading of Jack Kerouac's "On the Road" drove Gravenites to hit the highway for San Francisco, where white Chicago blues greats of the'60s including Charlie Musselwhite, Elvin Bishop, Bloomfield, Harvey Mandel and others eventually moved. It was in the early'60s in San Francisco when Gravenites first met Janis Joplin, then a struggling folksinger. Janis eventually recorded two songs he wrote.  The last song he wrote for her was "Buried Alive in the Blues." The song was released as an instrumental on Joplin's "Pearl" album. But it wasn't meant to be an instrumental. Joplin died the night before she was supposed to record the vocals. "It was a fitting song," says Gravenites, who now lives in west Sonoma County. In those days, he says, "I was surviving on my wits" in San Francisco, which then was an artist's paradise with plenty of cheap hotels, apartments and food. "I was a beatnik, hitchhiker who slept on people's floors," says Gravenites, 70, a once roly-poly kid whose father owned a candy store. Gravenites had a crazy streak. He played loud, mixing in the acoustic folk chords with electric blues. He wore dark sunglasses, drank whiskey and cussed. "I was the original Blues Brother," he said. "I thought John Belushi was doing me." In 1967, in Marin County, Gravenites started the psychedelic blues band Electric Flag with his old buddy Bloomfield and keyboardist Barry Goldberg. The experimental band, with the emotional Gravenites singing songs like "Wine, Wine, Wine," was a fast hit, but soon broke up. In the late'60s, Gravenites played around local clubs as part of Mike Bloomfield and Friends, helping legitimize the growing Bay Area blues scene.

Although Gravenites' prowess on the stage has been well-documented, many people are unaware of his skills as a producer. He produced blues great Otis Rush's 1970 album, "Right Place, Wrong Time," which was nominated for a Grammy for blues album of the year. He also produced Bloomfield's first solo album, "It's Not Killing Me," as well as some early Quicksilver Messenger Service albums.

These days, Gravenites has been performing as part of the Chicago Blues Reunion, a stunning collaboration of Windy City music vets. The band released an album last July that's a rich tribute to the home of the electric blues. The album and band feature Gravenites singing many of his originals with a hot lineup, including blues-and-psychedelic guitarist Harvey "The Snake" Mandel; harp player Corky Siegel from the Siegel-Schwall band; funky keyboardist Goldberg, who played with Muddy Waters and Bob Dylan when he went electric at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival; and super drummer Sam Lay, who played with Howlin' Wolf and other masters as well as with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Tracy Nelson of the band Mother Earth also sings in the group. "We're talking history here," said Gravenites. "This reunion is giving us a chance to explore something." - To explore deep Chicago blues.

The re-formed Electric Flag features among others, Gravenites, original keyboardist Barry Goldberg, drummer Roy Blumenfeld, John Beckwith on bass and the Tower of Power horn section.  They stole the show at the big Monterey Pop festival in 2007. 

The Gravenites LaFlamme Band happened when David LaFlamme moved up to Sonoma County from the LA area recently and bumped into Nick while playing golf.  They'd known each other since the Haight Ashbury days in '66.  David ended up sitting in at Nick's regular gig playing with Blumenfeld and Beckwith at Negri's restaurant and bar in Occidental.  The results were so sensational the customers were stepping outside to call their friends and tell them to get down there because Nick and David were on fire.  They continue to cook whenever they can get together.

City: Occidental
State: CA
Phone number: Booking Info: 707.291.0885
E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Nick Gravenites David LaFlamme Band Map

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