Danny Kalb, who led the downtown blues scene in New York during the 1960s and 1970s as a guitarist with his band the Blues Project, died Saturday at a nursing home in Brooklyn where he lived. He was 80. His death was confirmed by his brother, Jonathan.
The Blues Project was never a big name nationally, but worked steadily in various incarnations into the 21st century. Its mix of blue standards was augmented by folk, pop, soul and jazz along the way.
Kalb lent his vocals to the blues songs, and his groups were respected by musicians on the scene for their penchant to experiment with new forms.
Daniel Ira Kalb was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Mount Vernon, N.Y. He attended the University of Wisconsin and met Bob Dylan, who was passing through on his way to New York.
“Dylan crashed with me for a few weeks in Madison on his way from Hibbing, Minnesota, to New York,” Mr. Kalb told AM New York in 2013. “We had so much fun, I dropped out and followed him.”
Kalb soon immersed himself in the thriving Greenwich Village music scene, playing with Dave Van Ronk, Pete Seeger, Judy Collins, Jimmy Witherspoon and others in the 1960s, and accompanied Phil Ochs throughout his 1964 debut album, “All the News That’s Fit to Sing.” He was one of eight Greenwich Village regulars collected on a 1964 Elektra Records anthology, “The Blues Project: A Compendium of the Very Best on the Urban Blues Scene.”
The Blues Project played extended residencies at the Cafe Au Go Go in Greenwich Village from late 1965 into 1967. It released its debut album, “Live at the Cafe Au Go Go,” recorded in 1965.
The original Blues Project released its only studio album, “Projections,” in 1966.
A bad drug experience sidelined Kalb until 1969, when he returned with the album “Crosscurrents.” Kalb toured under the Blues Project name as late as 2012.
His brother Jonathan is his only survivor.