Nick Gravenites

Nick Gravenites It's not so easy to introduce Nick Gravenites because the man has done so many things that one can easily write a book or build a web site only dedicated to Gravenites who is singer, songwriter, guitarist, and producer in one person. Subsequently everything found on this page concerning Nick can only be described as incomplete. Nevertheless let's start with a short introduction Taxim Records added to one of their Bay Area Blues Sampler 'More Bay Area Blues' which contains the song 'Hard Thing' by Nick. 

'Nick Gravenites grew up on the southside of Chicago hanging out in the mid-50's with a coterie of misfit white kids - Elvin Bishop, Paul Butterfield, Michael Bloomfield - who went on to form that protean powerhouse of watershed white blues, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Learning their lessons first-hand from the southside greats - Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Howlin' Wolf, Jimmy Reed, Otis Rush - Gravenites & Co. burst open the seams of the scene with a feverish intensity and undeniable authenticity, redefining the blues with as much impact as the introduction of electric instrumentation had 15 years earlier. From the late 50's through the mid 60's, Gravenites gravitated between Chicago and San Francisco, establishing himself in the Bay Area in 1965. In addition to authoring the classic "Born In Chicago" and the groundbreaking "East West" for Butterfield, Gravenites scribed hits for Janis Joplin and has his songs recorded by Big Brother and the Holding Company, Michael Bloomfield, the Electric Flag (of which Gravenites was a founding member), Pure Prairie League, Tracy Nelson, Roy Buchana, Jimmy Witherspoon as well as blues giants Howlin' Wolf, Otis Rush, and James Cotton. He has a couple of solo albums and has scored and played on the soundtracks for "The Trip", "Medium Cool", and "Steelyard Blues". He has appeared on some 40 albums as singer, songwriter, guitarist, and producer.
For more info write to him at: P.O.Box 564, Occidental, CA 95465'

Other bands: He formed the short lived Blue Gravy and joined Big Brother And The Holding Company early in 1969 staying until early 1972. He was involved with the Taj Mahal/Mike Bloomfield live album, and again in 1973 with "Steelyard Blues". He also formed the Nick Gravenites Band which became Nick Gravenites Blues in 1978 and in the summer of 78 he joined Huey Lewis' Monday Nite Live sessions but by the end of the year that too had disbanded.

Nick also worked a lot with John Cipollina, a connection that started with Nick producing the first Quicksilver Messenger Service albums. Later they built the Nick Gravenites-John Cipollina Band which toured a lot in Europe and their record label Line being based in Germany. One of the band's drummers was former Clover drummer Marcus David - who later recorded his solo album 'Greates Hits' on Line Records in 1980. Nick Gravenites himself recorded 'Bluestar' which was also released on Line in 1980 as a solo album but it already had John Cipollina on guitar. Harmonica player on this blues album was Huey Lewis - at that time being something of a session cat who, after Clover's demise, played harp also on albums by Phil Lynott, Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds and City Boy. Nick and John
John and Nick

Nick Gravenites & Doug Kilmer @ JJ's Blues Cafe 1988 (Picture courtesy of Mike Somavilla)
Gravenites & Kilmer @ JJ's Blues Cafe 1988
 The next album "Monkey Medicine" was recorded in Germany after Nick and John finished their European tour in Germany. Under very primitive conditions but with a lot of heart they recorded this album in Hamburg accompanied by Marcus David on drums and Al Staehely on bass/vocals.

In late 1984 Gravenites was again a member of one of John Cipollina's many projects - Thunder and Lightning - in San Francisco.

During the last few years Gravenites regularly played the psychedelic blues in a small club called the Bodega Bay Grange, Marin County - joined by Doug Kilmer (bass), Mark Adams (harp) and Roy Blumenfeld (drums). The German Taxim label released one of these concerts (rec. Jan. 1994) on CD in 1996.

1999 saw the release of yet another Gravenites' solo album on which Huey Lewis plays harmonica again.


Nick Gravenites Discography:

  • 1969 My Labours (Columbia 9899)
  • 1973 Steelyard Blues OST (with Bloomfield; Warner)
  • 1980 Bluestar (with H. Lewis, J. Cipollina; Line LLP5039)
  • 1981 Funkyard In Malibu (Line 6 24264)
  • 1982 Monkey Medicine (with J. Cipollina; Line/Legend 1994)
  • 1991 Live In Athens At The Rodon (M.B.I. 40421)
  • 1996 Don't Feed The Animals (Taxim TX 1020-2 TA))
  • 1999 Kill My Brain (2Burn1 5001)

    My LaboursMy Labours
    (Columbia 1969)
    Killing My Love -- Gypsy Good Time -- Holy Moly -- Moon Tune -- My Labours -- Throw Your Dog A Bone -- As Good As You've Been To This World -- Wintry Country Side

    The albums Sony 2001 re-release has three bonus tracks taken from 'Live At Bill Graham's Filmore West' (Columbia 1969):

    It Takes Time -- Blues On A Westside -- It's About Time

    Musicians: Nick Gravenites, Michael Bloomfield, Mark Naftalin, Ira Kamin, John Kahn, Bob Jones, Dino Andino, Noel Jewkis, Gerald Oshita, Snooky Flowers, John Wilmeth and 'anonymous friends'

    Steel Yard BluesSteel Yard Blues OST
    (Warner Brothers 1973)
    Swing With It -- Brand New Family -- Woman's Love -- Make The Headlines -- Georgia Blues -- My Bag (The Oysters) -- Common Ground -- Being Different -- I've Been Searching -- Do I Care -- Lonesome Star Blues -- Here I Come (There She Goes) -- If You Cared -- Theme From Steel Yard Blues (Drive Again).

    Album produced by Nick Gravenites. All songs written by Gravenites, Bloomfield and/or Muldaur.

    (Line Records 1980)
    Junkyard In Malibu -- Bye Bye -- I'm A Bluesman -- Dekalb Blues -- Blues Back Off -- Who's Out There -- Down In The Bottom -- I'm A Dancing Fool -- The Sister Song -- My Party -- Southside

    Musicians: Nick Gravenites, Pete Sears, Joey Covington, Huey Lewis, Greg Douglass, Willy Toast, John Cipollina, Roger Troy, Marla Hunt, Diane Hursh

    Monkey MedicineMonkey Medicine
    (Line Records 1982)
    Blues In The Bottle -- Six Weeks In Reno -- I'll Pull The Trigger -- Trust Me -- Buried Alive In The Blues -- Bad Luck Baby -- Signs Of Live -- Pride Of Man -- Hot Rods And Cool Women

    The albums 1994 re-release on Legend Music has two bonus tracks:

    Born In Chicago -- Small Walk-In Box

    Musicians: Nick Gravenites, John Cipollina, Marcus David, Al Stahley

    Live At The RodonLive At The Rodon
    (Music Box 1991)
    Walkin Blues -- Funky News -- Anna -- Get Together -- Born In Chicago -- Small Walk-In Box -- Four Floors Or Forty -- You Can't Hurt Me No More

    Musicians: Nick Gravenites, John Cipollina, Doug Kilmer, Tony Johnson

    Recorded live at the Rodon Club, Athens, Greece.

    Don't Feed The AnimalsDon't Feed The Animals
    (Taxim 1996)
    You Can't Hurt Me -- Gypsy Good Time -- Big Bad Etta -- Funky News -- Wintry Country Side -- Blue Highway -- My Party -- Key To The Highway -- Six Weeks in Reno -- Southside -- Buried Alive In The Blues

    Musicians: Nick Gravenites, Doug Kilmer, Mark Adams, Roy Blumenfeld

    Recorded live at Bodega Bay Grange, Bodega Bay, California, January 15, 1994.

    Kill My BrainKill My Brain
    (2Burn1 Records 1999)
    Kill My Brain -- Ran Out West -- Highway One -- Bad Talking Blues -- Didn't You Used To Be Somebody -- Four Floors Or Forty -- Your Heart Is In The Wrong Place -- There's No Heaven -- Get Together -- I'm Gone

    Musicians: Nick Gravenites, Doug Kilmer, Pete Sears, Roy Blumenfeld, Sammy Hagar, Huey Lewis, Boots Rolf Hughston, Alex Murzyn, Tom Poole, Rusty Gauthier, Annie Sampson, Jennifer Hall, Dalice, Jeanette Sartain


    Further Links:

  • Nick Gravenites
       Official Website

  • Nick Gravenites @ Wikipedia

  • Bad Talkin' Bluesman
       Nick Gravenites autobiographical column from Blues Revue magazine!

  • Interview with Nick Gravenites
       Interview with Nick from 1994.


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