The next time you’re playing the music edition of Trivial Pursuit, prepare yourself for this question: What member of Blood, Sweat & Tears collaborated with musicians from the Velvet Underground?
The answer is Steve Katz, who will be performing at Live at the Ludlow Garage on Saturday, April 9. If you sift through his discography you’ll find a sweet spot where it seemed like all he could do was contribute to classic albums.
After leaving the Blues Project, Katz was the guitarist (and sometimes vocalist and songwriter) for the early jazz-rock band Blood, Sweat & Tears. Their first album, Child is Father to the Man, impressed the critics while their eponymous second album was a commercial success and then some.
About the time BS&T was losing steam Katz collaborated with Lou Reed, producing Reed’s great live album Rock ’N’ Roll Animal and the studio follow-up Sally Can’t Dance. Suddenly Lou Reed was a commercial success instead of a genius who deserved a larger audience.
In the 70s Katz also formed the band American Flyer with Doug Yule from a later incarnation of the Velvet Underground.
More evidence that Katz had a habit of being in the right place at the right time: he also performed at the two most famous music festivals from the 1960s, Monterey Pop (as part of the Blues Project) and Woodstock (with BS&T).
On April 9 Katz will be performing in a venue that’s much more intimate but that also has a rich history, the Ludlow Garage. It’s a good bet that you know some of the songs Katz has either played on or produced, and if you’re familiar with the second album by Blood, Sweat & Tears—the really famous one, that sold millions of copies and won three Grammy Awards—then you’ve heard this song that Katz wrote and sang, complete with a haunting melody, melancholy lyrics, and luscious harmonies: