Sunday, July 12, 2009

June 28, 1969 Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Santa Rosa, CA: Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band with Jerry Garcia

A widely circulated poster features The Grateful Dead headlining three nights over “Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady and Joey Covington” and the Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band. The first two nights (Friday and Saturday June 27-28, 1969)were scheduled for the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, and the last night (Sunday June 29, 1969) at The Barn in Rio Nido. Rio Nido is a small community near Guerneville, in the remote Northwest corner of Sonoma County. The Rio Nido Barn is often confused with The Barn in Scotts Valley (near Santa Cruz), but I believe it was a tiny place previously known as The Rio Nido Dance Hall.

Jorma and Jack did not yet use the name Hot Tuna for their local gigs, and this gig with Covington was an early, electric iteration ot Tuna. The Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band were a locally popular Berkeley band, who had released one album on Vanguard in 1968. I have written extensively about their history elsewhere. As part of that research, CGSB harmonica player Brian Voorheis recalls these gigs very clearly, for a variety of memorable reasons.

After a memorable first night, where CGSB drummer Tom Ralston sat in with the Dead for a few numbers, Jerry Garcia returned the favor by sitting in on pedal steel guitar with the Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band for most of their set. Garcia had just purchased the steel guitar at a music store in Boulder, CO on April 13, and only recently begun playing in public with John Dawson, David Nelson and a few others, starting in May. He was still looking for opportunities to perform. CGSB harmonica man Brian Voorheis (in a personal email) doesn’t recall the precise set list, but he does remember some of the the country styled songs they were playing, some of which Jerry would have sat in on:

Who Will Buy The Wine (from Skiffle album), A-11 (a Buck Owens tune about a jukebox selection that makes him cry ), How High's The Water, Mama? (a Johnny Cash classic sung by Gary), County Fair (a Gary Salzman original ),and I may have done Johnny Cash's There You Go - can't remember if I was doin it yet. There could also have been Gary's other originals, (It's Hard To Keep Your Head Above The) Waterline, and I Couldn't Marry Juana (Cause I Couldn't Get Her Out Of Mexico).

For notes on the final night of the weekend, see here.

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