Before he emerged as the bassist with the Blues Project
, virtually all of Andy Kulberg's performing experience consisted of playing in polka bands in his native Buffalo, NY. A classically trained flautist, Kulberg was good enough on the bass to rate a place in the fledgling Greenwich Village-based group, alongside Al Kooper
, Danny Kalb
, Steve Katz
, Roy Blumenfeld
, and Tommy Flanders
. He and Blumenfeld
had previously played with Kooper
on a quartet of tracks on Elektra Records' What's Shakin'
album, but otherwise the Blues Project
was new territory for all concerned as, arguably, the first rock group -- as opposed to rock roll group -- ever to emerge from New York City. The band had come together in 1965 with the help of producer Tom Wilson
, and for the next year built up its audience with a wildly eclectic repertory of blues, folk, and rock roll, all played with lots of articulation and amplification. Kulberg's articulate, powerful bass playing was part of the band's core sound, but in 1966 he got a gift from Al Kooper
in the form of an instrumental track, Flute Thing, that allowed him, at last, a featured spot on his original instrument. Flute Thing became a highlight of the group's shows and one of the most popular tracks off of the Projections
album, and got regular FM radio play into the 1970s.
The group enjoyed 18 months of varying success before conflicts between Danny Kalb and Al Kooper caused the latter to leave the band. Subsequent lineup and label changes ended their string of success on a descending path. Kulberg and Roy Blumenfeld subsequently formed the band Seatrain. He also played with New Grass Revival and such notables as David Grisman and Stephane Grappelli, as well as with Kooper. During the 1990s, he remained active working with people like Sylvia McNair. Kulberg was well-known enough in the music community to remain active for much of the 1990s, though -- as with all of the Blues Project alumni other than Al Kooper -- his public recognition was centered around New York. He had been ill during the late '90s, and died of lymphoma in early 2002. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi