The first great concert of 2009 will be Danny Kalb’s show at Jalopy in Red Hook next Saturday night.
Kalb may have been a founding member of the Blues Project in the 1960s, but he’s still banging out standards on his trusty six-string and belting them out with a rusty voice that sounds as comfortable as a flannel workshirt.
His shows at Barbes in Park Slope are the stuff of legend, as Kalb, working with Bob Jones and drummer Mark Ambrosino, spins yarns in an intimate setting.
“That’s what it’s all about, baby,” Kalb said by phone from his Park Slope apartment. “There is so much music out there that is not warm, but if you make it intimate, you can make that human connections. I try to reach their insides to show that life is worth living.”
With the blues?
“Blues is a happy form,” he said. “It articlates the deepest emotions with humor, with survival stories. It is the opposite of what some white people think the blues is. You’ll leave this show with a smile on your face, I can guarantee that.”
Kalb has the hashmarks to back that up. This is a guy, after all, who let a then-unknown Bob Dylan sleep on his couch in Madison, Wisconsin in 1960 (true story!).
“I had met [legendary blues man] John Lee Hooker, and he asked me to come on the road with him, but I went to college [in Madison] instead,” Kalb said, recalling that fateful decision to seek higher education.
“One day, this guy comes in — a traveling folk singer — and we let him sleep on our couch for two weeks. He wouldn’t take any money, but he did take food. That was the traveling folk ethic back then.”
The two wouldn’t cross paths for another year or so, when Kalb and Dylan performed in a radio show gig to promote a folk festival — Kalb on guitar and Dylan on harmonica.
He went on to form the Blues Project with soon-to-become legends Al Kooper and Roy Blumenthal, a groundbreaking psychedelic blues-folk-rock. The band’s first LP, “Live at the Cafe au Go-Go” (1966) established the group as the New York answer to the Haight-Ashbury sound.
Kalb has been the answer ever since — a living artist, not a novelty act.
Indeed, he even has a new solo album out. “I’m Going to Live the Life I Sing About” is packed with uptempo “sex blues,” as Kalb calls them, like “I Wish You Would,” plus world-wise standards like Willie Dixon’s “You Can’t Just a Book By the Cover” and Rev. Gary Davis’s “Samson & Delilah.”
Sure, it’s mostly covers, but who says an old dog needs new tricks?
Danny Kalb Trio at Jalopy [315 Columbia St., between Hamilton Avenue and Woodhull Street, (718) 395-3214], 9 pm. Jan. 3. Cover, $10. For info, visit www.dannykalb.net.