The Keith and Donna Band was apparently a somewhat ragged group at the beginning, but I did see them at the end of their tenure, and they were pretty good. Not earthshaking, but way better than the average bar band. At the time, there was both an understandable if unfair comparison to the Garcia/Saunders group and Kingfish, and also some unreasonable hostility towards Keith and Donna. It seemed to be a fate of Dead keyboard players to be unpopular with many folks until after they had departed, so Keith's performances were complained about endlessly, and I felt irrationally, while he was in the band. Once Brent Mydland joined the band, Keith was revered, a process that seemed to repeat itself with Vince Welnick. As for Donna, she had monitor problems with the Dead that caused her to be offkey at times, but criticism of her often seemed more like the usual grumbling when women appear in all-male enclaves. As a result, although the Keith and Donna band were not the best Dead spinoff, they have never gotten any kind of consideration from obsessive Dead historians, so I will attempt to rectify that now with a brief concert history.
This concert history comes from various sources that are available, including East Bay newspapers in 1975 that have yielded up numerous obscure club dates. However, Bay Area nightclubs only publicized their shows intermittently in the papers, so there are probably many more dates to be found, particularly in Marin County. My information about the Northeast tour is also limited, and I'm sure there are more dates to be found there. However, with no other lists accessible, I thought I would present my information as it currently stands (note: shows added to the original post are shown as added).
KEITH AND DONNA
Keith Godchuax-Yamaha electric grand piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano, vocals
Stephen Schuster-tenor sax, flute, congas
Both times I saw Keith and Donna, Keith was playing the Yamaha Electric Grand as well as the Fender Rhodes. Up until 1974, he had played a full size Yamaha Grand. As a practical matter, a nightclub band had a hard time with a Grand Piano, so the Electric Grand (a sort of hybrid electro-acoustic piano) made more sense. Keith continued playing the Electric Grand throughout his tenure with the Dead.
Stephen Schuster had been the equipment manager for Quicksilver Messenger Service, played a little bit on their first album, and jammed onstage with them many times. He is still a working musician in the Bay Area.
Mike Larscheid had come from Green Bay, Wisconsin, and he played with many Wisconsin musicians in the Bay Area, including Jim Krueger and Dennis Geyer.
Ray Scott's career is otherwise unknown to me, but he was an active guitarist well into the 1990s, with Martin Fierro and others in Marin County.
April 17, 1975 Lion's Share, San Anselmo Keith and Donna
Update: It turns out that the taper did erase one of the Master Reels, but not before it was copied, so the whole tape has survived and has recently been re-circulated. Besides the regular band members, there was also a trumpeter. The most likely suspect would seem to be Hadi Al-Saadoon, but I don't have a way of confirming that yet. The taper reported that the show was ragged, but not as messy as he remembered. Listening to the tape today bears out his recollection.
|May 11, 1975, Kresge Town Hall, UCSC, Keith and Donna and Friends|
Keith and Donna played two shows on the UCSC campus. The town hall had a capacity of 616. The poster lists Tom Donlinger as the drummer, rather than Kreutzmann. I have to assume that Donlinger played a number of May gigs as well, though I don't know for sure. Perhaps Kreutzmann didn't join until June. I have speculated about this show at some length elsewhere.
May 12, 1975 Yellow Brick Road, San Francisco Keith and Donna
The Yellow Brick Road, at 2215 Powell Street, was more oriented towards soul and jazz music. A Monday night gig was probably a chance for the group to get their feet wet (added).
May 15, 1975 The Longbranch, Berkeley Keith and Donna
The Longbranch, at 2504 San Pablo, was a small club for bands on the way up. Presumably the band wanted to try themselves out in a low-pressure scenario, and in any case with Garcia and Bob Weir playing the clubs regularly, Keith and Donna were not an inherent attraction. The listing above is from the Hayward Daily Review of May 9, 1975.
May 23-24, 1975 Great American Music Hall, San Francisco New Riders of The Purple Sage/Keith and Donna
I wonder if Keith or Donna sat in with the Riders? They certainly had done so before.
June 6, 1975 River City, Fairfax Keith and Donna
June 7, 1975 The Longbranch, Berkeley Keith and Donna
June 12, 1975 The Bodega, Campell Keith and Donna
The Bodega, at 30 South Central Avenue in Campbell (just West of San Jose), was a South Bay saloon that mostly featured local bands.
June 13-14, 1975 Keystone Berkeley Keith and Donna/Heroes (13)/Osiris (14)
The Keystone Berkeley, at 2119 University Avenue (at Shattuck), was one of the Bay Area's premier rock clubs. Jerry Garcia played there regularly from 1971 to 1985. These two shows were Friday and Saturday nights, so these were sort of a coming out party for Keith and Donna.
Heroes (opening on Friday June 13) featured guitarist/vocalist Bill Cutler, along with Scott Quik (Horses, Sammy Hagar), Austin DeLone (too numerous to mention), Pat Campbell (Good Old Boys) and drummer Carl Tassi.
Osiris (opening Saturday June 14) was a Palo Alto band that featured lead singer Kevin McKernan, Pigpen's younger brother, who looked very much like him.
June 17, 1975 Winterland Jerry Garcia and Friends/Kingfish/Keith and Donna/Mirrors
This was the famous Bob Fried Memorial Boogie, where The Grateful Dead played their new Blues For Allah material. I believe Mickey Hart sat in with Keith and Donna as percussionist, and Kingfish played two full sets prior to the Dead. The Mirrors were a local group featuring singers Trish Robbins and Jill Bergman.
June 20-21, Margarita's, Santa Cruz Keith and Donna
Margarita's was a new rock club in Santa Cruz, at 1685 Commercial Way. They had a very exciting booking policy for their first year, but the area wasn't really big enough to sustain the club. (added).
June 27-28, 1975 Lions Share, San Anselmo Keith and Donna
The Lions Share at 60 Redhill Avenue was a well-known Marin musicians hangout.
July 4, 1975, Toulomne County Fairgrounds, Sonora, CA: Kingfish/Commander Cody and The Lost Planet Airmen/Stoneground/Keith And Donna
An eyewitness reported seeing this show. Sounded like a good time.
July 11-12, 1975 Inn Of The Beginning, Cotati, CA Keith and Donna/Maltese Turkey
The Inn Of The Beginning, at 8201 Old Redwood Road in Cotati, was a tiny musicians hangout near Sonoma State College. Maltese Turkey featured James Ackroyd, an old pal who had been in the group James and The Good Brothers. Research has revealed that the Keith and Donna band's agreement was for 70% of the door plus five pitchers of beer.
Trumpeter Hadi Al-Sadoon was listed as a member of the band.
August 4, 1975 Odyssey Room, Sunnyvale Keith and Donna
The Odyssey Room, at 799 El Camino Real in Sunnyvale, was another South Bay saloon, a jumping place that featured local bands and probably sold a lot of drinks. I wonder if Garcia played with them (see notes below)?
August 5, 1975 Keystone Berkeley Jerry Garcia Band
This listing for The Jerry Garcia Band comes from Deadbase, without attribution. Deadbase's source was me. Based on my long ago notes, it appears that this date was from a list compiled by Dennis McNally. For the reasons described below (see August 20-21), I think this was a Keith and Donna show with Jerry Garcia playing lead guitar and singing a few songs.
August 18, 1975 Keystone Berkeley Keith and Donna
This show was listed in the Hayward Daily Review as a Keith and Donna show. Since it was a Monday night, I don't think that it was a Garcia show, or else they would have listed it as such in order to sell out a Monday. This wouldn't have' precluded Jerry from just showing up anyway, however.
August 20-21, 1975 Great American Music Hall, San Francisco Jerry Garcia Band
The Hayward Daily Review lists these Wednesday and Thursday shows at the Great American Music Hall (859 O'Farrell, and still going strong) as The Jerry Garcia Band. In fact, we have a lovely tape of August 20 (I think it is a Betty Board), and Jerry Garcia joins Keith and Donna. He plays lead guitar on all their songs, as well as singing 'Tough Mama" and "How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You." I have to assume the next night was the same configuration. Although the tape is incomplete, the entire group sounds great, and Jerry of course puts it over the top.
The last performance of Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders was July 6 at Keystone Berkeley. Why Garcia stopped playing with Merl has never adequately been explained, although presumably Jerry just wanted a change. The Jerry Garcia Band with Nicky Hopkins does not start playing until September 18. My own theory is that John Kahn was simply busy, and Jerry just wanted to play, so he sat in with Keith and Donna for August. That is why I think the August 5 show was Jerry with Keith and Donna, and the August 18 show may have been as well.
Both the August 20 and August 30 show (below) feature an unnamed trumpeter. Numerous Garcia tapes in the 1970s feature trumpet players, all unnamed--I wonder if they were the same one? One could postulate the usual Marin suspects--Luis Gasca, Bill Atwood, and so on, but I really don't know. Many of Garcia's band mates are no longer with us, either, so its hard to think who we could ask about that.
August 29-30, 1975 The Orphanage, San Francisco Keith and Donna with Jerry Garcia
The Orphanage, at 807 Montgomery, had been a happening North Beach club about 1973, and was now less so. Still, this was a comparatively high profile gig, compared to The Odyssey Room. Fortunately, a tremendous tape survives. Jerry sings some Dylan songs, and may have been trying out his Travis Bean guitar as well.
Update: A commenter has discovered a listing for two shows at The Orphanage, for August 29 and 30, so it appears that Garcia played two shows with Keith and Donna (on Friday and Saturday).
September 12, 1975 Inn Of The Beginning, Cotati, CA Keith and Donna/J.C. Burriss
September 29, 1975 Keystone Berkeley Keith and Donna
This Monday night gig at the Keystone seems like a warm up gig for the more high profile gigs that would follow.
October 4, 1975 Winterland Kingfish/Sons of Champlin/Keith and Donna
A friend attended this show (hi Mitch) and said that Keith and Donna played great.
October 12, 1975 "Oktoberfest" Hidden Valley Park, Hayward Keith and Donna/David LaFlamme/Collected Works/Ron Thompson/Scott Hall
This was a two-day outdoor weekend event (The Sons headlined the day before). I can't identify the exact location, but the listing says "off Mission Blvd, behind Weibel Winery."
October 17, 1975 Concord Pavilion Jerry Garcia Band/Kingfish/Keith and Donna
I attended this show, and I can attest to the fact that Keith and Donna played great. Bill Kreutzmann is a tremendous drummer, and the straight ahead style of the Keith and Donna Band really showed how powerful a drummer he can be in a conventional rock context. Stephen Schuster played lively solos on tenor sax and flute, and he wasn't a joke on congas, either. Donna's voice sounded great. Keith's singing was a bit weak, probably the weakest link in the band.
November 6, 1975 Elting Gym, SUNY, New Paltz, NY Kingfish/Keith and Donna
Kingfish and Keith and Donna toured the East Coast in November. In the Bay Area, with Jerry Garcia a regular in nightclubs since 1970, Deadheads were very casual about the opportunity to see Grateful Dead spinoffs. In the East, however, the chance to see 4 members of The Dead (Weir, Kreutzmann, Keith and Donna) plus an ex-New Rider (Dave Torbert) in the same night was somewhat of a big deal. The Kingfish/Keith and Donna bill played medium sized theaters that neither band could have played at home. I have to presume that the bands also only used one crew and one sound system, another efficiency.
November 7, 1975 Beacon Theater, New York, NY Kingfish/Keith and Donna (early and late)
November 9, 1975 Pritchard Gym, SUNY, Stony Brook, NY Kingfish/Keith and Donna
We only have scattered dates from the East Coast tour, mostly based on what tapes have survived. The Beacon show was on a Friday, and the Stony Brook show was on a Sunday. I have to believe the bill played somewhere in the Tri-State Areaon Saturday night. I don't think the tour played every night, but most tours make sure they fill in their weekends.
November 10, 1975 War Memorial Auditorium, Trenton, NJ Kingfish/Keith and Donna
The small auditorium was about 2/3 full, not bad for a Monday night in New Jersey in November. [added]
November 14, 1975 Brooklyn College, New York, NY Kingfish/Keith and Donna
Again, this show was a Friday night, and I'm sure the bands played somewhere Saturday night. Kingfish played My Father's Place in Long Island on Tuesday, November 18 (a tape survives of both shows) but I don't know if Keith and Donna would have played with them in a club.
November 21, 1975 Loews Theatre, Syracuse, NY Kingfish/Keith and Donna
November 22, 1975 Masonic Temple, Scranton, PA Kingfish/Keith and Donna
I do know a Scranton native who attended this show, and it was a very big deal for any Grateful Dead related bands to play in Scranton. He had nothing much to compare it to, but he thought it was a terrific show (and he went to Harvard).
November 23, 1975 Orpheum Theatre, Boston, MA Kingfish/Keith and Donna
November 24, 1975 Palace Theater, Albany, NY Kingfish/Keith and Donna
This was a Monday night show, which suggests that the tour played a lot more than just weekends.
November 28?, 1975 Thiel College, Greenville, PA Kingfish/Keith and Donna
A commenter writes
Somewhere between Nov 22-29, 1975, Kingfish & Keith & Donna played a small college (Thiel Coll) in rural western PA. And for our little coterie of Deadheads adrift in northeast Ohio at the time, it WAS A BIG DEAL! We showed up expecting a Dead show type crowd experience but instead were greeted by a practically deserted sleepy college town and equally sparsely populated theatre! We have an amazing story surrounding this adventure, perhaps for another time...It DOES get strangerI have assumed that the date was Friday, November 28, although I don't know that for certain [update: I now believe the date was Tuesday, November 25] A correspondent adds
The show was in a (small) theater, probably in the student center (it definitely was not in a gym). I'm not sure if the Passavant Center on campus was there in 1975 (2,000 seat) but if it was the venue, it would have been (way) less than 1/4 filled for that show.This hitherto forgotten event serves as a nice reminder that when a band featuring a member of the Grateful Dead came to a smaller city or a more out of the way place, it was still a memorable event for those in attendance. Deadheads lucky enough to live in the Bay Area or New York City could be casual about regular Deadheads and accessible Garcia appearances, but part of the Dead's magic was their relentless journeying to unconquered territory (added).
November 29, 1975 Tower Theater, Upper Darby, PA Kingfish/Keith and Donna
This was the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Once again, a Friday show somewhere seems likely, so I have assumed it was at Thiel College.
December 2, 1975 Lisner Auditorium, GWU, Washington, DC Kingfish/Keith and Donna
December 5, 1975 Capitol Theater, Passaic, NJ Kingfish/Keith and Donna
The tour appears to end on a Friday night at John Scher's Capitol Theater in Passaic, New Jersey. Bob Weir and Kingfish played Saturday night at My Father's Place in Long Island (December 6), but once again I am not certain that Keith and Donna played with them.
The Northeastern tour is the biggest gap in the Keith and Donna concert history. We must be missing numerous dates.
December 19-20, 1975 Winterland Jerry Garcia Band/Kingfish/Keith and Donna/Clover
A Poco/Kingfish/Keith and Donna bill scheduled for Winterland on December 18 was converted to a Garcia Band/Kingfish/Keith and Donna bill for two nights. I attended the first night. Marin stalwarts Clover opened the show (Clover guitarist John McFee had played pedal steel on "Pride Of Cucamonga"). Ray Scott was not a member of the Keith and Donna band, and the group played without a guitarist. The band played a brief but excellent set, joined by Matt Kelly of Kingfish on harmonica for the set closing "Scarlet Begonias."
On the second night, for the last performance of the Keith and Donna band, Jerry Garcia joined them for their set. For the very last song, Garcia sang "Scarlet Begonias' to a rapturous reception from the crowd. The Keith and Donna band showed their chops by cruising along nicely with Garcia on an extremely difficult song, showing how musical they really were.
At the end of January of 1976, Keith and Donna joined the Jerry Garcia Band, replacing the departed Nicky Hopkins. If there were any plans to reactivate the Keith and Donna band, they were put aside with both the Garcia Band and the return to performance of the Grateful Dead.
Anyone with additional information about missing or inaccurate tour dates is actively encouraged to list them in the comments or contact me.