Home | CDs | Videos | Archives | Order

[Mark Naftalin | Bio | Credits | Discography]

Mark Naftalin

photo by Ellen Naftalin

    "...A brilliant pianist who puts a touch of genius in his blues...""
      --Joel Selvin, San Francisco Chronicle
    "Over the years Naftalin [has] fused the best of blues influences from every era...As dedicated as ever to tradition, but forward-looking in his rhythmic drive and harmonic imagination, he remains one of the most vital bluesmen of his generation."
      --David Whiteis, Chicago Reader
    "...The emotion in his solo material was beautiful. He ran through an hour of music that really took you on a journey...All I can say is it was beautiful. He was all over the piano..."
      -- Peter Cahill, New England Blues Spectrum, reviewing
      Mark Naftalin's concert at the Manchester Public Library, Manchester, New Hampshire, February 12, 2000
  • Biography

  • Calendar of Events

  • Concert and Radio Productions

  • Credits -- Performance & Recording

  • Discography

  • Interviews

  • And now, here's...Nafty (publicity photo)

  • Mark Naftalin Calendar Of Events
    updated: May 24, 2018


    Mark Naftalin's Blue Wednesday Party
    Hosted by Mark Naftalin


    The Blue Wednesday Band featuring Chance Browne
    and a special guest star on each show


    The first and third Wednesdays of every month


    7:30 p.m.

    Upcoming shows:

    Wednesday, June 6 / special guest: Crispin Cioe
    Wednesday, June 20 / special guest: George Baker




    323 Bar & Restaurant
    323 Main Street
    Westport, Connecticut


    The Mark Naftalin Show
    on WPKN-FM Bridgeport, Connecticut
    and streaming on wpkn.org

    The second Wednesday of every month / 4-7 p.m. Eastern

    airs on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 / 4-7 p.m. Eastern

    WPKN 89.5 FM
    serves Fairfield, New Haven and Litchfield Counties (CT), and Suffolk County (NY).

    please click on wpkn.org and select "Listen Now" on the homepage.


    Mark Naftalin Show #2 / February 10, 2016

    Mark Naftalin Show #3 / March 9, 2016

    Mark Naftalin Show #5 / May 11, 2016

    Mark Naftalin Show #7 / July 13, 2016

    Mark Naftalin Show #8 / August 10, 2016

    Mark Naftalin Show #9 / September 14, 2016

    Mark Naftalin Show #18 / June 14, 2017

    Playlists for all episodes
    January, 2016, through the present


    After 993 broadcasts (not including re-plays)
    Mark Naftalin's Blues Power Hour
    on KALW (91.7 FM San Francisco) and kalw.org
    is now in its "Legacy Phase."

    Occasional future broadcasts will be announced here.

    To hear a Blues Power Hour on the KALW website now...
    please click here and select Blues Power Hour

    Currently on the website:
    Blues Power Hour #966 / A Gospel Show
    airdate: December 28, 2011

    Music by Rev. C.L. Franklin, The Harmonizing Four, The Swan Silvertones, The Soul Stirrers,
    Bessie Griffin, The Gay Sisters, Albertina Walker with James Cleveland,
    The Institutional Church Of God In Christ Choir, Aretha Franklin, The Stanley Brothers,
    The Staple Singers, Fred McDowell, Lightnin' Hopkins, and The O'Neal Twins.

    There is also a piano solo by Mark Naftalin.

    To see Mark Naftalin's "Producer Page" on the KALW website,
    please click here

    About the Blues Power Hour
    by Mark Naftalin

                 In the winter of 1979, on February 22, to be exact, I initiated the weekly blues show and dance, Mark Naftalin's Blue Monday Party, at the Sleeping Lady Cafe in Fairfax, California. As part of advertising the event, I made drop-by appearances on San Rafael's KTIM, which is now defunct but was then a last bastion of free-form radio on the commercial side of the Bay Area dial. My host was the late Paul Boucher, who made me most welcome. My first guest appearance with him, which I referred to as the Blue Monday Party Of The Airwaves, was on March 26, 1979. After a couple of weeks of this, the management of the station invited me to pre-record an hour for broadcast on Monday evenings. I continued to use the name Blue Monday Party Of The Airwaves for about five months; then I switched over to Mark Naftalin's Blues Power Hour. I thank Paul Boucher for bringing me into the world of radio.

               In 1982, after three years of weekly Blues Power Hour broadcasts and Blue Monday Party dance-concerts, production director Dennis Hale and I developed another Monday-night broadcast for KTIM. Airing from 9 to 10 p.m. and followed by the pre-recorded Blues Power Hour, this new radio show emanated from our weekly event at the Sleeping Lady Cafe and was also called Mark Naftalin's Blue Monday Party. The Blues Power Hour and the Blue Monday Party, along with all the rest of KTIM's free-form or specialty programming, went off the air in the fall of 1983 when the station changed ownership.

               On June 25, 1984, the Blues Power Hour began what turned out to be a very long run as a weekly broadcast on non-commercial KALW-FM, which is an NPR outlet in San Francisco. The show aired on Monday nights until April, 2007, when it moved to Wednesdays. On KALW, as I did on KTIM, I program blues of all stripes from the 'twenties on forward, along with music from the overlapping realms of gospel, soul, R&B, zydeco, rock'n'roll, country and jazz.

               From February, 1987, through January, 1990, I also presented the Blues Power Hour on commercial KFOG, San Francisco's powerful pop-music station. My show was part of the "Adventure Hour," which was the creation of Dave Logan, the KFOG program director at that time. The "Adventure Hour" was an umbrella for various specialty shows, such as a Grateful Dead hour, a reggae hour, and so forth, all airing at a given time (first it was 9, then 11) on weeknights (my night was Thursday). I tried to tailor my programming to a stereotypical notion of the "KFOG listener." In other words, I leaned more on the guitar-heavy blues, stayed away for the most part from country blues or blues from before the 'fifties, and never played gospel. The show seemed to be well-received and the station asked me to produce two 18-hour blues marathons, which they said were very successful. When Dave Logan moved on to a New York City station, a new program director came in who cleansed the KFOG airwaves of the Blues Power Hour and all the rest of the "Adventure Hour" shows. And so the adventure ended. Such are the ways of commercial radio. I thank Dave Logan for hiring me at KFOG, for his encouragement, and for his programming creativity .

               In 1992, the Blues Power Hour, then in its eighth season on KALW, received the Tom Donahue Radio Award for best program on a non-commercial station.

               In 2002, my wife, Ellen, and I moved from California to Connecticut. At first, I produced my shows in real time onto a CD, which I sent back to the station. In early 2006 I started the transition from real-time production to hard-drive-based production.

               On December 28, 2011, the Blues Power Hour completed a twenty-seven-and-a-half-years-long run of continuous broadcasts.

               Please note:

               The Blues Power Hour continues to air on KALW from time to time. Following broadcast, the show resides for awhile on the station's website: www.kalw.org. To listen, please click here and select "Blues Power Hour."

               Blues Power Hour showcount as of June 15, 2016 (original shows, not including re-plays):

                          KTIM 239
                          KFOG 145
                          KALW 993

                          Total: 1,377

    There are playlists for all shows.

    Mark Naftalin's Blue Monday Party

                 Mark Naftalin's Blue Monday Party was a weekly rhythm & blues show and dance held at two San Francisco Bay Area nightclubs — the Sleeping Lady Cafe in Fairfax and (for the last half year or so) Uncle Charlie's in Corte Madera — between March, 1979, and September, 1983. Stars of the 237 Blue Monday Party dance-concerts included Buddy Ace, Carey Bell, Boogie Jake, Mel Brown, Roy Brown, Cool Papa, Big Joe Duskin, John Lee Hooker, Dottie Ivory, Lady Bianca, Frankie Lee, Little Joe Blue, J.J. Malone, Maurice McKinnies, Sonny Rhodes, Freddie Roulette, Luther Tucker...and many others (there were over 60 featured artists and groups altogether).

               From February, 1982, to September, 1983, the first hour of each week's show was broadcast live and heard throughout the Bay Area on KTIM-FM (San Rafael). The live broadcast (also called Mark Naftalin's Blue Monday Party) was part of a two-hour package that included, as a pre-recorded follow-up, Mark Naftalin's Blues Power Hour. Stars of the 86 Blue Monday Party broadcasts included Albert Collins, Johnny Copeland, James Cotton, Pee Wee Crayton, Sugarpie DeSantos, Lowell Fulson, Johnny Littlejohn, Percy Mayfield, Jimmy McCracklin, Charlie Musselwhite, Queen Ida, Al Rapone, Eddie Taylor, Irma Thomas, Ron Thompson, Mississippi Johnny Waters...and many others.

               The Blue Monday Party radio broadcast was developed by Mark Naftalin, who booked the performers and functioned as producer, host, and bandleader-pianist; and Dennis Hale, who was the announcer and production director. Sound was mixed for the air by Nancy King, and Tim Crane acted as line engineer. The show was honored with the Billboard Radio Award for best locally-oriented special programming, 1982.

               So far two albums have been released from Blue Monday Party performances: Percy Mayfield Live and Ron Thompson's Just Like A Devil (both on Winner).

               The Blue Monday Party was also the scene of three 30-minute television specials, produced by Michael Prussian for Videotunes: Frankie Lee & Charles Houff (1980); Lowell Fulson & Percy Mayfield (1981); John Lee Hooker & Charlie Musselwhite (1981). The 1981 shows are available on Winner home video in VHS and DVD.

    The Mark Naftalin Story

                 MARK Naftalin was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he lived until his mid-'teens, gaining an early outlet for his blues piano style with area favorites Johnny & The Galaxies.

               MOVING to Chicago in 1961 and enrolling at the University of Chicago, Naftalin continued his pursuit of blues piano by sitting in (from time to time) at the campus "twist parties," where the resident bandleader was blues singer and harmonica player Paul Butterfield, whose band featured guitarist Elvin Bishop.

               AFTER graduating from the University of Chicago in 1964, Naftalin moved to New York City for a year of study at the Mannes College of Music. On September 9, 1965, at a midtown-Manhattan recording studio, he sat in with Paul Butterfield and his band again — playing organ, this time, and sharing solos with Paul and the group's new lead guitarist, Michael Bloomfield, on a session warm-up song. As the session continued, Naftalin was invited to keep playing, and then to join the band, with whom he toured for two-and-a-half years and recorded four albums, including the classic East-West. The results of that fateful session — including the warm-up song, "Thank You Mr. Poobah" — are on the Elektra album The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, which was the group's first album release.

               AFTER his stint with the Butterfield Band, Naftalin settled in the San Francisco Bay Area and embarked on a career which has included playing with and leading bands; solo concertizing; playing on blues and rock recording sessions (more than one hundred albums); producing festivals, concerts and radio shows; co-founding a non-profit cultural organization; songwriting and composing; and producing records for his own label.

               FROM the late 'sixties through the mid-'seventies, Naftalin played in the Bay Area and around the country (and on a number of recordings) with Michael Bloomfield, sometimes as a duo, but most often as a band called Mike Bloomfield And Friends.

               IN 1979, after producing several short blues concert series (starting at the Boarding House in San Francisco), Naftalin initiated Mark Naftalin's Blue Monday Party, a weekly blues show which ran for four-and-a-half years in two Marin County nightclubs, featured over sixty blues artists and groups, and was the scene of 86 live radio broadcasts and three television specials. Two of these specials (one with John Lee Hooker and Charlie Musselwhite, the other with Percy Mayfield and Lowell Fulson) have been broadcast on PBS stations in major markets and released as videos. The Blue Monday Party radio broadcast was honored with the Billboard Radio Award for best locally-oriented special programming, 1982.

               AS the Blue Monday Party grew, Naftalin developed his Rhythm & Blues Revue and his weekly Blues Power Hour radio show. Winner of the Bay Area Music Award (BAMMIE) for best blues/ethnic/gospel group of 1980, the Mark Naftalin Rhythm Rhythm & Blues Revue has played festivals and clubs on both coasts. On San Francisco's KALW-FM since 1984, Mark Naftalin's Blues Power Hour is the winner of the 1992 Tom Donahue Radio Award for the best program on a non-commercial station and has run on two commercial stations in the Bay Area: KTIM-FM (1979-1983) and KFOG-FM (1987-1990).

               FROM 1981 to 2000, Naftalin produced the annual Marin County Blues Festival. For eighteen of those twenty years, the festival was a special feature of the Marin County Fair in San Rafael, California. In 1985 and 1986, the festival took place at the Dominican College, which is also in San Rafael. Festival stars included Charles Brown, Nappy Brown, Dr. John, Mable John, Albert King, Nellie Lutcher, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Brownie McGhee, The Johnny Otis Show, Sonny Rhodes, the original Soul Stirrers, Rufus Thomas, Jimmy Witherspoon...and many more.

               FROM 1982 through 1992, Naftalin programmed blues for the Monterey Jazz Festival, where he earned the title of Associate Producer of the Blues Afternoon, and where the artists he chose include Bo Diddley, Ruth Brown, Albert Collins, Pee Wee Crayton, Lowell Fulson, Lloyd Glenn, Buddy Guy, Johnny Heartsman, John Lee Hooker, Etta James, B.B. King, Little Milton, Percy Mayfield, Jimmy McCracklin, Charlie Musselwhite, Yank Rachell, Carla Thomas, Irma Thomas, Henry Townsend, Luther Tucker, Katie Webster, Junior Wells...and many more.

               NAFTALIN'S other concert productions include blues festivals or shows at the San Mateo, Alameda and Sonoma County Fairs (all in California) and the Westport Blues Festival (1993-94) in Westport, Connecticut.

               IN 1982, Naftalin acted as interviewer and pianist in the video-documentary Percy Mayfield — Poet Laureate Of The Blues, the 1985 recipient of the Blues Foundation's Keeping The Blues Alive award in visual broadcast. This 30-minute video features blues poet Percy Mayfield singing his famous compositions with Naftalin on piano, along with interview segments, songs recorded onstage at the Blue Monday Party and testimonials from Ray Charles and B.B. King.

               IN 1983, Naftalin and Blue Monday Party production director Dennis Hale founded the Blue Monday Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to furthering the appreciation and understanding of indigenous American music. The foundation has supported the Marin County Blues Festival, presented free community concerts and produced more than fifty historical shows sponsored by Anheuser-Busch, Inc. Naftalin has served as the organization's executive director and board president.

               IN 1988, Naftalin established Winner Producing Company and entered the record business with the independent label, Winner Records. Winner releases include two albums of live Paul Butterfield Blues Band nightclub recordings collected by Naftalin during his travels with the group (East-West Live and Strawberry Jam), and two albums recorded during Blue Monday Party radio broadcasts (Just Like A Devil by slide guitar virtuoso Ron Thompson and Percy Mayfield Live, Mayfield's only authorized live recording).

               RECORDINGS of Naftalin's compositions include the instrumental "Strawberry Jam" on the Butterfield Band's Strawberry Jam album (Winner); "Lonely Song," sung by Buddy Miles on the Electric Flag's album The Band Kept Playing (Atlantic); "Blues For Special Friends," played by Naftalin and an ensemble featuring guitarist Bobby Murray on the Bay Area anthology The Usual Suspects (Tomistoma); "I Just Can't Stay" sung by Sonny Rhodes in two versions (on The Blues Is My Best Friend (Kingsnake) and on Won't Rain In California, which was recorded in France for the Album label; and the Winner 45 "Treehouse Blues," a piano solo, backed by "Honest & True" (a.k.a. "Theme From The Blues Power Hour"), on which Naftalin plays all five instruments.

               FOR his multi-faceted work as a musician and producer, Naftalin's reward has been friendship and professional connection with a host of musical greats, including — in addition to those mentioned above — Roy Brown, Francis Clay, Cool Papa, James Cotton, Nick Gravenites, John Hammond, Dottie Ivory, Little Joe Blue, J.J. Malone, Maurice McKinnies, Fenton Robinson, Otis Rush, Big Mama Thornton, Big Joe Turner, and Mississippi Johnny Waters, among others.

               See also: Credits and Discography.

    [Mark Naftalin | Bio | Credits | Discography]

    Home | CDs | Videos | Archives | Order