High Noon was a Bay Area club band featuring Merl Saunders, Norton Buffalo and Mickey Hart. Their first appearance, under the name “Norton Buffalo and Merl Saunders” was at a benefit on May 22, 1981 at the Fox-Warfield Theatre, in San Francisco. That performance was discussed at length here. In the interests of completeness, here are the balance of their shows.
Mike Hinton-electric guitar
Jim McPherson-guitar, keyboards, percussion, vocals
Norton Buffalo-harmonica, vocals
Merl Saunders-organ, synthesizer, grand piano, vocals
Bobby Vega-electric bass
Vicki Randle-congas, percussion, vocals
Update: Since this post was originally written, a posthumous cd of Jim McPherson's music has been released. High Noon was formed partially as a vehicle for McPherson's songs, but since McPherson died an untimely death in 1985, the material languished for some decades. The cd is called A Promise Kept. Two of the songs on the cd, "Left Out In The Cold" and "Cross The Bridge," feature High Noon.
McPherson was a talented musician from the South Bay who played and recorded with a number of groups, including The Trolls, Stained Glass, Christian Rapid, Copperhead (with John Cipollina), Roadhog (with Robert Hunter) and the Merl Saunders band. For more about Jim McPherson and his music, see here; for Blair Jackson's appreciation of McPherson's music, see his article here.
June 25, 1981 Civic Auditorium, Santa Cruz
Jerry Garcia Band/High Noon
June 26, 1981 Fox-Warfield Theatre, San Francisco
Jerry Garcia Band/High Noon/Mike Henderson
July ?, 1981 "San Quentin Bike Show"
High Noon with Joan Baez
Lead guitarist Mike Hinton recalled this intriguing sounding event in the Comments, although I don't know exactly what it was. He recalls a number of other shows, as well. Due to gaps in the Grateful Dead's touring schedule, I have located them in July, but they could have been spread out at various times around the Summer of 1981.
July ?, 1981 The Oasis, Sacramento
July ?, 1981 Cabo's, Chico
July ?, 1981 The Golden Bear, Huntington Beach
July ?, 1981 The Country Club, Reseda
High Noon/John Lee Hooker and The Coast To Coast Blues Band
July ?, 1981 The Belly-Up Tavern, Solana Beach
July 25, 1981 Phoenix Theater, Petaluma
July 28, 1981 The Stone, San Francisco
Joan Baez sang “Diamonds and Rust”. I have a low quality audience tape.
July 29, 1981 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley
July 30, 1981 Keystone Palo Alto, Palo Alto
A good audience tape circulates. Joan Baez sings several numbers.
August 6, 1981 Napa County Fairgrounds, Napa
Jefferson Starship/High Noon
August 9, 1981 Old Waldorf, San Francisco
Joan Baez also performed at this show.
December 12, 1981 Fiesta Hall, San Mateo County Fairgrounds, San Mateo
Grateful Dead/Joan Baez/High Noon
High Noon had a different lineup for this show:
Mike Hinton-lead guitar
Jim McPherson-guitar, organ, vocals
Merl Saunders-organ, electric piano, piano, vocals
with Bill Kreutzmann-percussion
Chuck Rainey is a famous and excellent session musician. After a few numbers, Joan Baez and Bill Kreutzmann came out and the band backed her for a few of her well-known numbers. Later, Joan would be backed by the Grateful Dead, but that’s another post.
December 17, 1982 Pyramid Pins, Garberville
Mickey And The Daylights
This was a one-off, but it seemed to feature the High Noon crowd:
Barry Melton-lead guitar, vocals
Mike Hinton-lead guitar
Merl Saunders-keyboards, vocals
As an odd footnote, the group seems to have begun working with Country Joe and ended working with Barry Melton.