1997 Tamines bootleg given mainstream release

Lester Butler is back — sort of — on the above-board release of the long-bootlegged Tamines show from Aug. 29, 1997, at the 7th South Blues Festival in Belgium.

Live at Tamines 1997The two-disc set “Lester Butler featuring 13 Live at Tamines 1997” comes from RockBeat Records, the same folks who reissued “13 featuring Lester Butler” more than four years ago, with bonus tracks from the Tamines festival, clearly taken from the bootleg that had been circulating for a decade by then.

Here’s the back-cover info from the new release:

Lester Butler was a brilliant harmonica player. He rejuvenated the LA blues scene with his group The Red Devils. After they disbanded, Lester formed a group on Hightone Records featuring a back up band he called 13. The live intensity of this show demonstrates how adept he was singing and playing the blues. He died not long after this show from 1997. The blues was hot and Lester was on fire.

Though Amazon shows a release date of Oct. 2, our copy is already on backorder.

So though we don’t have the physical package in hand just yet, there are a few things we know already:

  • The record is available for download from Amazon and is also streaming on Spotify.
  • The band is Alex Schultz on guitar, Mike Hightower on bass and Eddie Clark on drums.
  • The front cover is not from the Tamines show, but instead is a well known picture of Butler fronting The Red Devils at the Paradiso in Amsterdam four years earlier, in May 1993. The photo is credited to Luuk Denekamp. We have reached out to Denekamp about this and other photos in the past, but have never heard from him.
  • One odd cut, the last, is “Automatic,” taken from the 1998 Moulin Blues Festival, or “Lester’s Legendary Last Gig.”
  • This project’s producer is James Austin, who handled those duties on the “13” reissue.
  • We spoke with Austin back in 2011. On the Tamines tracks, he said that because “the concert was recorded during the contract period for 13, we were able to use the songs as bonus tracks.”

    He also suggested RockBeat Records was interested in offering more “credible reissues” of Butler’s material. This seems to be the fruit of that wish.

    We’ll hold off on a full review until the disc arrives.

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