Thursday, October 15, 2009

Kokomo with Brent Mydland and Bill Kreutzmann Tour History-Summer 1985

(h/t Michael for the poster scan)

Brent Mydland was always in the shadow of the other members of the Grateful Dead, because he was always "the new guy." One of the many interesting aspects of the Grateful Dead was that fans could see the musical interests and abilities of the individual musicians in their various side projects, and then see how those sounds were integrated or excluded from the Dead's sounds. Most Deadheads, however--and I am certainly including myself--paid little attention to Brent's individual activities outside the band because they were too busy following Garcia or Weir.

Certainly, if you were a Bay Area resident, and you had a chance to see Jerry Garcia or Brent Mydland in a club, you would generally pick Jerry. Also, like most Dead fans I liked many kinds of music, and being fortunate enough to see the Grateful Dead regularly, I made a point of seeing other groups rather than the spinoff bands. As a result, Brent Mydland projects tended to be quite obscure. Kokomo was a group that only existed for the Summer of 1985. Although all the players are recognizable, I know of no circulating tapes, no reviews, don't know anyone who saw the band and can only guess exactly what they played. I'm not suggesting that the band was world changing, or even any more than a solid bar band, but one of the purposes of this blog is to document little known performances of the Grateful Dead and its members.

Kokomo
Kevin Russell-guitar, vocals
Brent Mydland-keyboards, vocals
David Margen-bass, vocals
Bill Kreutzmann-drums

Kevin Russell had been in an "arena rock" band called 707 from 1977-83. They had a hit called "I Could Be Good For You" on Casablanca Records, and three albums on Casablanca and Boardwalk. Despite some success on tour opening for larger acts like REO Speedwagon, the band broke up in 1983. Kevin Rusell, originally from Detroit, had moved from Southern California to Marin County during his time in the band.

David Margen was a Berkeley musician had played bass for Santana for several years (1977-82), as well as playing bass in a variety of other groups.

Performance List
All the dates come from contemporary newspapers or the Grateful Dead hotline recorded messages.

July 26, 1985: River Theater, Guerneville, CA
July 27, 1985: Keystone Palo Alto, Palo Alto, CA w/Zero
July 30, 1985: Wolfgang's, San Francisco, CA w/Zero
July 31, 1985: Cabaret Cotati, Cotati, CA
August 1, 1985: New George's, San Rafael, CA

August 5, 1985: Toad's Place, New Haven, CT
August 6, 1985: The Casablanca, Rochester, NY
A Commenter writes:
I was at that show! - the venue was called The Casablanca - it was a small nightclub on East Henrietta Rd. - there is now a T.G.I.Fridays in that location ;)

I met Brent briefly in the parking lot before that show. I had a "Hot F***ing Jorma" sticker with me (Hot Tuna was also on the bill that night), and he signed it on the back, asking "you're not gonna just stick this somewhere and throw away the backing, are you?" I assured him I wouldn't (and haven't) - I think I got fellow bandmembers Billy Kreutzmann and Santana bassist David Margen to sign it also, not sure, since that sticker is in a box somewhere in the house!
 And true to his word, here it is (front and back)
Brent, Billy and David Margen signed the back of the Jorma sticker

August 8, 1985: The Living Room, Providence, RI
August 9, 1985: The Chatterbox, Seaside Heights, NJ
August 10, 1985: The Metro, New Brunswick, NJ
August 11, 1985: The Bayou, Washington, DC
August 13, 1985: Paradise Club, Boston, MA
August 14, 1985: Club Casino, Hampton Beach, VA
August 15, 1985: The Ritz, New York, NY
August 18, 1985: [venue], Norfolk, VA
August 19, 1985: Chestnut Cabaret, Philadelphia, PA

September 13, 1985: Major Pond's, San Francisco, CA
September 19, 1985: New George's, San Rafael, CA w/Zero
My notes (now twenty-three years old) say Bob Weir and Merl Saunders played with them.

September 28, 1985: River Theater, Guerneville, CA

If anyone can direct me to an online tape, or has a setlist, or went to a show, or knows someone who went to a Kokomo show and recalls the description, please put them in the comments.

In the next Summer and Fall, with Jerry Garcia out of commission, band members played a lot of shows in local clubs. Kreutzmann and Margen started The Kreutzmann/Margen band, which involved into Go Ahead, which will be the subject of future posts.

15 comments:

  1. I did see the Toad's show and it was outstanding. I've always loved that room and the band was just so hot that night. The highlight that comes to mind is Clapton's "Let It Rain". The band did not sing the refrain (the lyric "rain" held and repeated over the outro solos) - but the crowd did. It was definately one of "those" moments.

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  2. Curious to see more about Go Ahead. Saw them in . . . 86? At the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix AZ, with Bob W. solo acoustic as an opener.
    Actually it was: some shitty comic who was booed off, Go Ahead with Billy and Brent, Alex Litgerwood, and . . ? Then Bob acoustic, then Go Ahead with Bob. A fun night, show ran a good four hours maybe.

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  3. Interesting...although I have not gotten around to the Go Ahead post, I dont have an Arizona date for them. However, Bob Weir and Go Ahead played some dates in the Southwest in November 1987 (Long Beach, Reseda, San Diego, Sacramento) and March 1988 (Rosevelle, Reno, SLC), so it would have been easy to stick in an Arizona date.

    The March 1988 shows have a bunch of open days, and it would make sense that it fit in there. I have heard some Weir/Go Ahead tapes,and while it wasn't awesome, they were a pretty good band.

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  4. Hey Now!

    I was at the Celebrity Theatre Go Ahead/Bob Weir gig! It was in February of 1988. My brother won tickets on the radio (2nd Row!) and I remember the spinning stage : Billy K. loved it as he was able to joke/accept drinks from fans in the first few rows! Musically I remember a great "Dear Mr. Fantasy->Hey Jude" as well as the "La Bamba/Good Lovin'" that they'd broken out on the recent fall tour ('87).
    I downloaded a recording of the show many moons ago and have it on a DVDR somewhere in the archives with the correct date.

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  5. August 6, 1985: [venue], Rochester, NY

    I was at that show! - the venue was called The Casablanca - it was a small nightclub on East Henrietta Rd. - there is now a T.G.I.Fridays in that location ;)

    I met Brent briefly in the parking lot before that show. I had a "Hot F***ing Jorma" sticker with me (Hot Tuna was also on the bill that night), and he signed it on the back, asking "you're not gonna just stick this somewhere and throw away the backing, are you?" I assured him I wouldn't (and haven't) - I think I got fellow bandmembers Billy Kreutzmann and Santana bassist David Margen to sign it also, not sure, since that sticker is in a box somewhere in the house!

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    3. Mike, I posted these. Thanks so much!

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  6. Mike, thanks, I updated the post with the venue info.

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  7. '85 was a very special year for me, being a Head since 1976 Dead/Who shows I had the very special chance to meet Billy & Brent at the River Theater. I was the Mgr. of the theater, making sure everything was set up and ready to go for the shows. Kokomo arrived mid afternoon for set up and sound check at which time I had a very friendly conversation with Brent sitting with him at the soundboard. Billy was very friendly as I got both their autographs in the first blank page of "Playing in the band" book. I told Billy that I was also a drummer haha. He called me his drummer buddy after that, how cool. Don't remember much of the show, i know they played Not Fade Away and a couple of Brent songs, Far From Me? Hey Jude? I think.. All I know for sure, it was a fantastic show with a nice audience response.
    The Band I played in OAYB got a gig a couple of months later at Susanna & D. McNally's wedding in SF. We walked in a couple of hours before the doors opened to set up our gear. Sitting by the pool watching a 49er game was Billy. I walked up to him and said hi and if he remembered me, Yes your my drummer buddy, he said. I was floored. Wavy gave the ceremony, Jerry gave the Bride away and Billy was best man. After that we played in the bar area and dance floor, about half way through our set Billy walked up and sat down next to me (two drum kits) and we played. Wow, I was blown away. Also to look down from the stage we saw R. Hunter and T.C. standing there listening and watching. What a rush that was playing GD tunes, etc.. Later in the year and again in '86 we had Jerry and John K. at the River theater where I also got their autographs. Also in we had Kingfish w/Bobby, also got his autograph on the Playin' in the Band book 1st page. I will never forget those moments in time.. G. Scott

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  8. From Jim Powell's Dark Star Document:

    "Kokomo (Billy & Brent's band from the mid-80s) played Dark Star at least twice:

    Unknown Venue 8/19/84 12:35 AUD
    Casino Club, Hampton Beach 85-86: 10:16# AUD breaks off before conclusion.

    Identification of the unknown venue & unknown date would be much appreciated."

    I can't vouch for the accuracy, but I guess this means there are tapes.

    I know of one circulating Kokomo audience tape, from the Metro, New Brunswick, NJ 8/10/85, with this setlist:

    Girl Like You
    Is It Silver Or Gold
    Tons Of Steel >
    Up In Smoke
    Never Trust A Woman
    Tell Me No Lies ?
    Love Me Right
    Not Fade Away
    For You
    Dear Mr Fantasy > Hey Jude (refrain) > Dear Mr Fantasy
    Keep On Growin'
    Jam > Dark Star >
    Drums >
    Jam
    Look Over Yonders Wall
    Maybe You Know How I'm Feelin'
    ~Encore~
    Casey Jones
    Let It Rain

    Etree also lists the early show from the Casablanca Nightclub, Rochester NY 8/6/85, with basically the same songs.

    I hasten to say, I haven't heard these tapes, and am somewhat horrified that I'm even posting about them...

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  9. There's some Kokomo material in the Fall 1985 Golden Road (no. 8). Page 42 mentions the 9/19/85 gig at New George's with Bob sitting in (no mention of Merl). He helped them on Johhny B. Goode and Casey Jones.

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  10. I was at the show at the Keystone. That summer I lived in Palo Alto on College Ave and all I had to do was hop my back fence and walk across the street.

    Saw a lot of great shows that summer.

    Anyway, I remember the show but I don't remember anything they played. I do remember having a great time and the fact that the Keystone seemed only about half full.

    Sorry I couldn't be of any help but I appreciate your attempting to make a chronicle of these obscure shows. Thanks.

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  11. Michael, thanks for the interesting comment. You make a very good point, namely that if the opportunity was there, Kokomo was a lot of fun. For the record--as a former Palo Altan--do you mean California Avenue (Keystone was on 260 S. California) or College Terrace (just across El Camino)?

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  12. Hey Corey,

    Thanks for the reply and for this blog. I've been enjoying the reading. College Ave is parallel to California Ave, to the north.

    A few side notes:

    I grew up in Seattle and enjoyed hanging out at the Aqua Park long before the tore the majority of the grandstand down. It really would have been an amazing place to see a show. As a kid, I heard that Elvis performed there long before Zeppelin and the Dead.

    These probably aren't obscure shows but I remember seeing Weir and Garcia at the Haight Street Fair in '85 and the Gift Center in '89.

    The most amazing "surprise" or bar show I ever saw was at The Saloon in North Beach in January or February of '89. John Cipollina was dying and his buddies played with him there. I remember Melton being there but the rest is a little hazy. What I do remember is that John didn't seem to be doing to well and he remained seated throughout the night.

    And he melted the place. Incredibly beautiful and touching.

    Thanks again for this really cool blog.

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