A band is playing on Saturday night in a college cafeteria to maybe 700 people. Pretty nice band. Their name is Traffic. There's this guy with carrot hair and a sweet smiley face doing whatever he wants on acoustic and lead guitar. Pretty nice voice. His name is Dave Mason. Dave Mason playing his farewell gig with Traffic (again). What with Stevie Winwood as right and fast on guitar as ever, stretching vocals and pushing changes at the organ, Chris Wood blowing sax and lyric flute, and the addition of Jim Gordan at drums and Rebop on congas and bongos freeing Jim Capaldi to shake and shout and bang his tambourine as Ric Grech burbles away on bass back at the amps, Traffic, with Mason, is maybe the best band in britain this summer.
So naturally, it's breaking up.
Traffic's album, parts of which are very free, some very rehearsed, should be out by September to coincide with their American tour for October-November. (Fairport Covention will also be on the tour with them.) And Eric Clapton, according to representative, would like to play as little as possible in public and just use selected people on his sessions. Steve reports that Eric is handling bass himself, Rosetta Hightower reports that Eric was just dying to play on her session the other day. To complete the news of the original trio: Jack Bruce has just recorded a new solo album, this time with Chris Spedding and John Marshall of Nucleus. It will be called Harmony Row, after a nearby street to Jack's old Glasgow home. And, you know, they're all so far from home.
That was the winter of 1968, when the success of Cream had everybody talking about "supergroups." Stevie was recruited that spring for a heavily-hyped organization called Blind Faith, which included two rock stars, Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker, and one rock clod, Rick Gretch. The promoters were so eager to market the band that they never allowed them time enough to get together. Blind Faith was tossed into Hyde Park to give a 'public rehearsal" (which drew 150,000 people); then they were locked up in a London recording studio to turn out in a single week, working every day from midnight to 9 AM., a hit album. I watched them one night through the aquarium window of the control booth. They worked in total darkness and tried for a sound like a cool, mysterious underground river. They wanted to trace sensitively oriental patterns and trip out to Marrakesh.