Elvin Bishop - vocals, lead guitar; Fly Brooks - bass; Bill Slais - keyboards; Johnny Vernazza - guitar; Donny Baldwin - drums, vocals; Reni Slais - backing vocals; Mickey Thomas - vocals
Elvin Bishop was first introduced to the world music scene as a guitarist in the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. He remained in that group for the better part of the 1960s, before launching a solo career in the early 1970s. Based in the Bay Area, Bishop soon became a staple on the San Francisco blues scene, playing a number of clubs throughout the west coast. After connecting with the Allman Brothers, he was introduced to Record Company prexy Phil Walden, who signed him to his successful Capricorn label (home of the Allmans and other Southern Rock giants such as Sea Level and Wet Willie). Once he made the transition to country blues, Bishop's solo career started to take off, and by the time he recorded this radio broadcast in 1975, he already had several charting songs.
Bishop was born and raised in Tulsa, where he grew up listening to Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf records. At age 18, he received a scholarship to the University of Chicago. It was the early 1960s, and he soon became obsessed with the Windy City's thriving blues scene. In 1963, Bishop met up with a young, unknown white harmonica player named Paul Butterfield, and another aspiring white guitarist named Mike Bloomfield. The group formed around an all-black rhythm section, and became one of the first interracial acts to tour the U.S. during tumultuous civil rights era.
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, with Elvin Bishop, did several albums on Elektra Records, in addition to a classic performance at the Newport Folk and Blues Festival the same year Bob Dylan plugged-in and got booed. After a number of albums on Epic with his own group, Bishop struggled with his musical identity until he was taken under the watchful eye of Walden, who had built a musical empire around the best Southern Rock acts in the country. He was willing to put the financial and creative support that Bishop needed to take his music in a new direction. "Travelin' Shoes" was his first hit off 1974's Let It Flow, and "Struttin' My Stuff," another hit, would also become a concert staple.
This show was done as part of the "Live At The Record Plant" radio concert series in 1975, and it would be another year before Bishop would take this group to the top of the charts with a country-rock pop ditty called "Fooled Around And Fell In Love." Still, it was clear from this recording, the band was moving in a more commercial direction. In addition to soaring vocals of the then-unknown Mickey Thomas and the steady kick of drummer Donny Baldwin (both would later emerge in the hit-packed late '70s version of Starship), the band features guitarist extraordinaire, Johnny Vernazza, who was crucial to the drive behind Bishop's ensemble.