Wednesday, October 7, 2009

December 31, 1974 Keystone Berkeley Garcia-Saunders (confirmed)

Note: I am leaving my reasoning here intact, in the interests of honesty, but I have since determined that Lucky Strike appears to be Keystone Berkeley code for "Jerry Garcia's playing." So I now retract my theory that the show didn't occur, intriguing as it was.

Dennis McNally's original research into Jerry Garcia's performances, which he was kind enough to pass on to me in the 1980s, included a listing for Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders at the Keystone Berkeley on December 31, 1974. He also indicated that it was tentative. It now appears that Garcia and Saunders did not appear at Keystone Berkeley, and probably not anywhere on New Year's Eve 1974-75.

The above are listings for Keystone Berkeley from the December 27, 1974 edition of The Hayward Daily Review and from an ad in the December 29, 1974 Oakland Tribune. The shows listed are

  • Friday and Saturday, December 27-28: John Lee Hooker, Lightning Hopkins
  • Sunday, December 29: King Fish with Bobby Weir, David Torbert, James and The Mercedes
  • Monday  December 30: Van Morrison with Soundhole, Elvin Bishop, John Lee Hooker
  • Tuesday, December 31: Lucky Strike
  • Friday and Saturday, January 3-4: Cold Blood, Caledonia Express

There's no sign of Garcia-Saunders on New Year's Eve. It is tempting to say that they made a surprise guest appearance, but I highly doubt it. Startling as it was to East Coast visitors to San Francisco, a Jerry Garcia club appearance was not that big a deal, so shows needed to be advertised if they were going to sell out. They would sell out, yes; but only if they were advertised. If Garcia-Saunders were playing New Years at Keystone Berkeley, I would find it highly likely that it would be listed the week before. I had always found it odd that there was no tape, artifact or recollection of a Garcia-Saunders NYE show, which adds to the likelihood that there was no such show.

I always remain hopeful, of course, but for now I have to consider the show as a tentative Garcia appearance that did not happen (as noted above, I have now changed my mind and think it did occur).

Note: more on Kingfish in a subsequent post. This would have been one of their earliest gigs, apparently their first at Keystone Berkeley, and the spelling of the group's name may not have been clear.


  1. Good analysis. Would you think that the absence of a listing justifies removing the show from the record? (Actually, The Jerry Site needs to form a separate or separable list of canceled, mislabeled, etc. shows.)

    I am always a little reluctant to pull something based on the absence of evidence, rather than on positive evidence.

  2. I'm not saying that you should withdraw the listing by any means, but it definitely deserves to be in an "unconfirmed" state. Part of the reason I wrote the post the way I did was in the hopes that some old hippie will offer me convincing evidence that it really happened.

    At this point, I think the source for the show's listing is me, through McNally, and I have no idea what his source might have been.

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