Steve Katz, a founding member of the Grammy-winning band Blood Sweat & Tears, will offer a program of acoustic songs and stories at the Phippsburg Congregational Church on Saturday, May 5 at 7:30 p.m. In addition to being a member of the chart-topping group that won three Grammys and sold millions of albums, Katz was also a co-founder of other bands including The Blues Project, and was a producer for rock legend Lou Reed.
Katz broke through during Greenwich Village’s great folk revival of the 1960s. At 15, he studied guitar with folk icon Dave Van Ronk and bluesman Rev. Gary Davis. Finding himself falling into the role of part-time road manager to Davis, Katz met many of the great “rediscovered” blues men of an earlier era including Son House, Skip James and Mississippi John Hurt.
Once settled in Greenwich Village, Katz joined the Even Dozen Jug Band, which also included The Lovin’ Spoonful’s John Sebastian, and rising performers like Maria Muldaur, David Grisman, and Stefan Grossman. Shortly thereafter, Katz co-founded the blues-rock band The Blues Project and played the Monterey Pop Festival. After the band dissolved, in 1967 he joined forces with several other Village musicians and Blues Project bandmate Al Kooper, who was fresh from playing the organ on Bob Dylan’s game-changing classic “Like A Rolling Stone”, to launch Blood Sweat & Tears. He recorded five albums with the group and performed at iconic venues like the Fillmore East and at the most famous rock festival of them all: Woodstock.
The band’s second album sold six million copies worldwide and fostered three number one singles. Katz continued with Blood, Sweat & Tears for six years, during which time the group received a large number of accolades. In addition to their three Grammys, including one for Album of the Year, they were voted best band by the Playboy Jazz and Pop Poll two years in a row, and won three major Downbeat awards. Katz wrote many songs during his tenure with BS&T, including his popular “Sometimes in Winter”.
He would go on to produce two albums for Lou Reed, before forming another band, American Flyer, with performers from The Velvet Underground and Pure Prairie League. The first of their two albums was produced by Beatles-producer George Martin.
Katz later became a vice-president for Mercury Records, and opted to spend much of his time in Ireland where he produced the popular Irish group The Horslips, but passed on a young group called U2 - to his everlasting regret. His love of Irish music led to him becoming Managing Director of Green Linnet Records, the foremost label of traditional Irish music in America.
His memoir Blood, Sweat, and My Rock ‘n’ Roll Years: Is Steve Katz a Rock Star? was published in 2015.
The show, which surveys his rich slice of musical history in song and story, will be performed at the historic 1802 Phippsburg Congregational Church, 10 Church Lane (at Parker Head Rd.) in Phippsburg. Tickets are $18 at the door; $16 advance tickets available at BrownPaperTickets.com Doors open at 7 p.m. For more information, call 389-1770.
As always, if you wish to bring a refreshment for our intermission table, it makes our gathering all the merrier!