Wednesday, September 30, 2009

November 15, 1968 Coliseum, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR: Grateful Dead/Mint Tattoo/City Blue

I was looking at a poster site and discovered an unknown Dead show. The link is here.

The poster advertises The Grateful Dead with Mint Tattoo and City Blue at the Oregon State University Coliseum, in Corvallis, Oregon on Friday, November 15, 1968. The dead were scheduled for Vancouver on Saturday, November 16 and then Eagles Auditorium in Seattle on Sunday, November 17. Most San Francisco bands like to play dates in two or three of the Northwest cities on a weekend, as it made sense to stop in Oregon on the way to Seattle or Vancouver. I do not see this show listed in Deadlists or Dead.net, and up until now knew nothing about it.

According to Deadlists, the Vancouver show on Saturday the 16th was canceled, but the Dead played two shows in Seattle, one an afternoon benefit. I wouldn't be surprised if the afternoon show was only possible because the Saturday show in British Columbia had been canceled. The Moody Blues were playing Eagles on Friday and Saturday, so they couldn't add a show there on Saturday night.

This begs a couple of questions:

was the Corvallis show canceled, along with Vancouver? My guess is that it was not, because it may not have been financially viable to do only one paying gig in Seattle for the entire trip.

was there a stealth show in Oregon or Seattle on Saturday night? This is intriguing, because if you were in a rock band and had a free Saturday night in the Northwest, what would you do? We need to keep our eyes open for unexpected Dead sightings in the Northwest on November 16, 1968, because they might be true.

Mint Tattoo was a Bay Area based band featuring Sacramento musicians, guitarist Bruce Stephens and organist/bassist Burns Kellogg (plus drummer Gregg Thomas). Mint Tattoo released an album on Dot in 1968, and then Stephens and Kellogg joined Blue Cheer in 1969. I don't know anything about City Blue; presumably they were a Corvallis band.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Keith and Donna Band, Tour History 1975

Keith and Donna Godchaux led their own band for about 8 months in 1975, while the Grateful Dead were on hiatus. The duo recorded an album that was released on Round Records in March 1975. Keith and Donna played intermittently around Bay Area clubs, and then did one tour of the Northeast. Keith and Donna then joined the Jerry Garcia Band in early 1976, bringing their time as bandleaders to a close until after they left the Dead.

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
Donna Godchaux-vocals
Keith Godchuax-Yamaha electric grand piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano, vocals
Ray Scott-guitar
Stephen Schuster-tenor sax, flute, congas
Michael Larscheid-bass
Bill Kreutzmann-drums

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.

Tour History

April 17, 1975  Lion's Share, San Anselmo Keith and Donna
Someone emailed me about this once, and I have lost the reference. The show was taped, but the performance was so ragged the taper erased it. 
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
May 11, 1975 Kresge Town Hall, UCSC, Santa Cruz, CA 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 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 stranger
I 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.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

San Quentin Show (1967)


I am travelling today but just wanted to throw a little something in to the ring for you all to mull over.

Jeff Gold has unearthed a Communications Company handbill for a jam outside of San Quentin featuring members of both the Grateful Dead and Country Joe and The Fish. The facts as I understand them:

- The handbill is from the collection of Ralph J Gleason - so is credible.
- I have such a Country Joe and The Fish and Grateful Dead (plus possibly) Jefferson Airplane show listed for Thursday February 15, 1968
- I have a listing for the Grateful Dead performance at San Quentin on Thursday March 7, 1968 - but Country Joe and The Fish were in New York at this time.
- The handbill refers to the performance being on a Tuesday.
- And the real stinger - The Communications Company only operated between January and August 1967.

I have no time to check through the Barbs to reconfirm any dates. So. any thoughts? I do know that Joe McDonald and others have performed outside San Quentin in protest on the day of executions.

Friday, September 18, 2009

April 27, 1973, Keystone Berkeley: Old And In The Way (new date)



The Jerry Site correctly places Old and In The Way at Keystone Berkeley on Saturday, April 28, 1973. However, it seems based on both the Oakland Tribune of April 26 (article) and Hayward Daily Review of April 20 (Keystone Berkeley listings), the band also played Keystone Berkeley on Friday, April 27.

These are among the earliest shows by Old And In The Way. At the time, it was utterly mysterious that guitar hero Jerry Garcia would play banjo in a bluegrass band. Many fans, myself included, had only the foggiest notion of what bluegrass even sounded like. The group debuted on the radio, on KSAN-fm, on March 2, so some people (probably including me) had already heard them, but it was still a surprise. Thanks to Old And In The Way, all Deadheads are acutely aware of Jerry Garcia's prior incarnation as a bluegrass banjo player, but at the time this was largely unknown, since most interviewers at the time just asked Jerry about either the Dead's newest album or drugs.



This listing from the March 2, 1973 Hayward Daily Review for The Lions Share (a Marin County musicians hangout at 60 Redhill Avenue in San Anselmo) says 
Friday and Saturday March 2 and 3 Old And In The Way (making their debut) and The Rowan Brothers
Thus we can date exactly Old And In The Way's formal debut in front of an audience. The KSAN broadcast was earlier in the day from The Record Plant in Sausalito. The lineup for this show would have been Peter Rowan (guitar), Jerry Garcia (banjo), David Grisman (mandolin), John Kahn (bass) and Richard Greene (fiddle). Greene played with the group when he was available, which is why he needed to be replaced, fortunately by the great Vassar Clements.

The Rowan Brothers would have been Chris and Lorin Rowan, not Peter. I do not know if they were still playing with a band or playing as a duo. I would suspect the latter, as it fits better with bluegrass. One can't help but wonder if any of Old And In The Way guested, since they all had musical and social ties, and must have known the songs.

 

Old And In The Way also played The Orphanage, a North Beach club at 807 Montgomery, on Monday April 23 and Monday April 30, also with the Rowan Brothers (the listing above is from the April 20, 1973 Fremont Argus). The Orphanage was usually either closed on Mondays, or open only for drinks, but obviously if Jerry Garcia was available than that was a different matter, but the Monday booking suggests that it was a last minute booking.

The Jerry Site also lists a March 4, 1973 date from Homers Warehouse in Palo Alto. I believe that to be a spurious date. Since the original source of most of Deadbase's original Jerry Garcia list (in Deadbase IX) was me, I am not worried about contradicting anyone. Without taking anyone through the boring story of how I made that mistake, I recalled hearing the group from Homer's Warehouse on the radio and conflated some existing tapes (the KZSU-fm broadcast of Old And In The Way was actually July 24, 1973).

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

January 21-22-23, 1966: Longshoreman's Hall, San Francisco, CA "Trips Festival"

 
The above article is from the Theater section of The Oakland Tribune for Friday, January 21, 1966. It starts "A mammoth three day "trips festival," or electronic show, will be held this weekend at the huge  San Francisco Longshoreman's Hall." It goes on to say

Tonight's affair will feature members of Berkeley's Open Theater, slides, movies, rock and roll music, jazz, American Indians, poetry, readings and revelations.

One of the slide shows was Stewart Brand's "America Needs Indians", the rock and roll was The Loading Zone, the jazz was Ian Underwood's trio with Tom Glass, The Jazz Mice (The revelations reverberated around the world). The next paragraph says

On Saturday's bill are The San Francisco Tape Music Center, Dancer's Workshop, a rock and roll group with 50 flashlights, thunder sculpture, a psychedelic symphony, movies and Hell's Angels.

The Grateful Dead and Big Brother and The Holding Company were the two rock bands--I wonder which had 50 flashlights and which was the psychedelic symphony?

The likely reason that the LSD-inspired Trips Festival was promoted in the Oakland Tribune was that the Trib's theater section regularly (and enthusiastically) reported on the doings of Berkeley's Open Theater, at 2976 Telegraph Avenue. The Open Theater was an important underground outpost. Mostly they put on avant-garde theater, but the previous weekend both Loading Zone (Friday Jan 14) and Big Brother (Saturday Jan 15) had made their public debuts there.

[the clip below is from the Entertainment Listings of The Oakland Tribune, January 16, 1966]

August 1, 1969 Bear's Lair, UC Berkeley: Jerry Garcia backing Marmaduke


This concert at the Bear's Lair Coffee House on the UC Berkeley Campus (at Bancroft and Telegraph, in the basement of the ASUC building) was apparently the first 'true' concert of the New Riders of The Purple Sage. John "Marmaduke" Dawson, Jerry Garcia and David Nelson had played a Hofbrau in Menlo Park in May, and had done a few songs at various concerts around town. They attempted to perform two weeks earlier at a Grateful Dead appearance at a Hells Angels Party at Longshoreman's Hall, but equipment problems scuttled that performance.

The story goes that Garcia was asked the name of the band for this gig and replied, "The Murdering Punks!" True or not, it was after this that Robert Hunter was assigned to come up with a name for the band. The first actual appearance of the name "New Riders Of The Purple Sage" appears later in the month, at a concert at The Family Dog (unless you are confident that the Seattle poster with their name on it is original).

In a 2009 interview with Blair Jackson, David Nelson suggests that Grateful Dead Bob Matthews played bass with the New Riders for these gigs. If that is the case, then these would probably be his only performances with the band. Both Robert Hunter and Bob Matthews rehearsed with the New Riders, but Hunter never actually performed with them, and Hunter implied that Matthews did not either. In any case--besides the fact that an under-rehearsed Phil Lesh is better than most anyone else, anyway--Bob Matthews was the Grateful Dead's soundman, and could hardly have left his post to go play with the Riders, so any gigs had to be very intermittent.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

North To San Francisco: The Warlocks in The South Bay, 1965


View Warlocks-Grateful Dead: South Bay 1965 in a larger map

The Warlocks formed out of the remnants of Mother McRee's Uptown Jug Band in Palo Alto, and played their first gigs in Menlo Park on May 5 of that year. By December of 1965, they had changed their name to the Grateful Dead and played the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco. Any band that forms in the suburbs has plans to make it big in "The City," but The Warlocks actually pulled it off. This post views the early Warlocks gigs as a geographical procession towards San Francisco. I have made a few concessions (which I will acknowledge) to illustrate my point, but it is a fair analysis to say that the stakes get bigger for bands as they get nearer the center of the action, and The Dead met the challenge.

Very little information survives about the Warlock's earliest gigs. Dennis McNally and Blair Jackson have done the best work in ferreting out memories of their earliest days, but actual details--dates, setlists, and so forth--are hard to come by. Some of the venues that The Warlocks played at are known, however, and some sense of the Warlocks development can be discerned from considering the standing of these forgotten outposts. For those not intimately familiar with South Bay geography, I have included a Google Map (above) marking the Dead's progress up The Peninsula. The map itself shows a steady Northward progression from Palo Alto, then a sleepy college town, to increasingly busy clubs near San Francisco International Airport, and finally to San Francisco itself, a geographic actualization of the Dead's musical and cultural transformation as they moved from Palo Alto to The City.

This post represents the best distillation of the limited information available to me at the time. Anyone with additonal facts, insights, corrections or recovered memories (real or imagined) please include them in the comments or email me.

The Top Of The Tangent, 117 University Avenue, Palo Alto

Downtown Palo Alto in 1965, where The Warlocks formed, had become a tiny bohemian outpost because it was kind of empty. The nearby Stanford Shopping Center had sucked the life out of downtown,  so housing was cheap and businesses few. As folkies, some members of The Warlocks had played a few of the coffee houses, but the main port of call for Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Band Champions was The Top Of The Tangent, at 117 University. The Tangent was a pizza parlor, and The Top Of The Tangent was a coffee shop on the top floor where folk musicians played and hung out. Mother McCree's debuted there in about June 1964, and most of their gigs were probably there.

Peninsula YMCA, 240 El Camino Real, Redwood City (January 16, 1965)

The Jug Band definitely played a few other places, such as The Off Stage in San Jose, but one of their last gigs was at a  "Hootenanny" at the Peninsula YMCA in Redwood City, on January 16, 1965 (there is a chance they played one final gig a few weeks later at College Of San Mateo). Redwood City was a few miles up the road on El Camino Real, the main "Strip" of the South Bay Peninsula.

El Camino Real (literally "The King's Road") was an extension of Mission Boulevard in San Francisco, and it went through the center of every town from South San Francisco to Santa Clara (originally a trail connecting Mission San Francisco to Mission Santa Clara). As a result, the El Camino Real was the main commercial strip for every town along the way. By day, stores on El Camino sold washing machines, automobiles or insurance; by night people went to movies, restaurants, bars and nightclubs there. Each town on the Peninsula had its differences from the others, but all of them looked somewhat similar from the vantage point of El Camino Real.

Magoo's Pizza, 635 Santa Cruz Avenue, Menlo Park (May 5, 12, 19 & 26, 1965)

The Warlocks formed in early 1965 because Mother McRee's had run out of gigs--Jug Bands seemed to be "over" in the South Bay, but electric blues and R&B, like The Rolling Stones played, was starting to come to life. The very first gig the Warlocks played was on May 5, 1965 at Magoo's pizza parlor in Menlo Park, at 635 Santa Cruz Avenue, just off the El Camino. The Warlocks played every Wednesday night in May at Magoo's. Most of the audience were High School students from nearby Menlo-Atherton High, or junior college students from equally near Menlo College. Santa Cruz Avenue was near Kepler's Books, a local bohemian hangout, and just a long walk from downtown Palo Alto, but a bunch of local High School and College kids were a lot more than had seen the Jug Band.

Frenchy's, 29027 Mission Boulevard, Hayward (June 18, 1965)

The Warlocks replaced their bass player, Dana Morgan Jr, with Phil Lesh, and played a gig on June 18 at Frenchy's, in Hayward. I have discussed this previously. This gig did not go well, and they were terminated after a day. The Warlocks seemed to have retreated to rehearse and lick their wounds. Since Dana Morgan Jr's father owned the music store that they borrowed equipment from, Garcia and Weir got jobs instead at Guitars Unlimited in Menlo Park, also on El Camino Real.

[This one known deviation from the Warlocks march up El Camino Real has been left off my map, because it made the map hard to read. I don't think this is a major point (crypto-Hegelians should email me for a detailed exposition on Hayward as Antithesis), but I wanted to acknowledge that I am aware I left something off]

Cinnamon Tree, 900 American Way, San Carlos (August 1965)

In August, The Warlocks renewed their assault on the world, this time with more success, although it may not have seemed that way at the time.They had a booking agent, Al King, who booked numerous acts into El Camino Real clubs, so even though the band was low on the totem pole, at least they had started to climb it.

The Cinnamon Tree opened in July 1965 as a "teen" club, with no liquor served (though no doubt plenty was consumed). The idea was to give teenagers something to do, particularly on weekends. The club was located on an industrial road between El Camino and the Bayshore Freeway. Since it featured teen audiences, one of the popular bills was a "Battle Of The Bands" were numerous groups played a song or two, hoping to win a cash prize (thus insuring that each band's friends came to the show). The Illustrated Trip places Warlocks gig(s) at The Cinnamon Tree in August.

Blair Jackson (in his fine 1999 book Garcia: An American Life) quotes Mike Shapiro, lead guitarist for a South Bay band called William Penn And His Pals, who says "we used to Battle Of The Bands with [The Warlocks] at The Cinnamon Tree...we actually lost to them and I thought they were the sh*ts"(p.70). Its not clear from Shapiro's context if they played one or several Battles with The Warlocks, but its clear they played. While "Battle Of The Bands" judging was notoriously suspect, for The Warlocks to win, it must have meant that rowdy, raggedy blues had some incipient following on the Peninsula.

Big Al's Gashouse, 4301 El Camino Real, San Mateo (August 1965)
Big Al's Gashouse was a pizza-and-beer joint, affiliated with similarly named places in North Beach and around the Bay Area (there really was a "Big Al"). Big Al's was another pizza place, like The Tangent or Magoo's, but at least it was connected to the City, if not really part of it. The exact date of the Warlocks gig (or gigs) is unknown, but McNally and Jackson (in The Illustrated Trip) place it in August.

Big Al's Gashouse burned down in January 1966. It was eventually replaced by a suburban hipster bar called The Trip, which opened in November 1966, but by that time the Warlocks were very far past that road.

There was also a Big Al's Gashouse in Palo Alto, at 4335 El Camino Real (next to the bowling alley). I know that live bands performed there, but it was a pizza and beer joint, not a topless place. It closed around 1968. I'm not sure which Big Al's The Warlocks may have played in--possibly both of them.

Fireside Lounge, 2322 El Camino Real, San Mateo (August 1965)

The Fireside Lounge was run more on the Las Vegas model, if without the gambling. There was dinner and drinks to go with the dancing, sometimes a floor show, or topless dancers late at night. The object for a band was to keep people dancing so that they would buy drinks. I have written about the Fireside Lounge elsewhere, albeit with respect to another band.

According to McNally and Jackson in The Illustrated Trip, The Warlocks played one or a few gigs at The Fireside Lounge in August of 1965. It was probably a sort of "audition" gig, but the band didn't return there, to my knowledge.

The In Room, El Camino Real, Belmont (mid-September to late October 1965)

The In Room was a popular nightclub in Belmont, although I have not yet been able to identify the exact location (on the map, I located it El Camino Real and Ralston Avenue, a principal intersection the business strip, and The In Room was certainly near there). McNally describes it as
a heavy hitting divorcee's pick-up joint, the sort of swinging bar where real-estate salesmen chased stewardesses and single women got plenty of free drinks. Dark, with red and black as the color scheme, it was the kind of place that sold almost nothing but hard liquor (p.88)
The Warlocks were booked at the In Room for six weeks, from mid-September until late October of 1965. They played five 50-minute sets a night, five nights a week. 150 sets later, The Warlocks were a real band. The first week they had backed The Coasters for a set each night, but for the balance of the run they covered the gig themselves. They would start out playing almost straight-up, but as they got higher and the night got looser, their playing got more "barbaric." Oddly enough, they started to build their own audience of nascent freaks, who would show up for the later sets, distinctly different than the hard-drinking pick up crowd. One night, for example, a band of Tacoma transplants called The Frantics ended up hanging out there, which is how Moby Grape guitarist Jerry Miller and Jerry Garcia first met.

The In Room was in Belmont, half way between Palo Alto and San Francisco. The Warlocks had played a little further up the El Camino (The Fireside and Big Al's), but the In Room stood for a mid-point. The Warlocks were a real band making real money (if not a lot), but they were still doing their own thing and finding their own audience, so they were half way there.

[There is some general talk that The Warlocks played some High School dances in the South Bay in Fall 1965. It is possible, but its important to remember that in the 60s and 70s everybody in the South Bay had a Grateful Dead/Jerry Garcia story, and most of them were wishful thinking. Every High School had a story about how the Dead played there back in the day, or Jerry Garcia went there, and they can't all of been true. Supposedly the Warlocks played Palo Alto High School on September 19, 1965, but it has been impossible to confirm this]

Pierre's, Broadway at Columbus, San Francisco (early November 1965)

At some point, The Warlocks made Phil Lesh's former roommate, Hank Harrison, into their manager. Harrison did very little for the group in his brief tenure. One gig he did get them was playing at a topless joint on North Beach called Pierre's. Pierre's, on the corner of Broadway in Columbus, the same corner as City Lights Bookstore, had been a popular Latin Jazz nightspot in the early 1960s. As topless joints took over Broadway, Pierre's went topless as well, but the club was fading.

Topless dancing in the 1960s was considerably tamer than strip clubs today. The Warlocks had at least intermittently backed topless dancers at The In Room. Club owners didn't care what weirdness a band played as long as they kept the beat going, so topless clubs were a chance for fledgling bands to work on  their chops.

The Warlocks played a brief and unsuccessful stint at Pierre's in early November of 1965. A friend of the band wandered in (I believe it was Peter Albin) and found them playing to a nearly empty house. The Warlocks had made it to San Francisco, but they were in a club that was past its prime, where music wasn't even the main attraction.

The gig wasn't a complete bust, however. While in San Francisco, they made a demo on November 3, 1965, for Autumn Records, San Francisco's leading independent label. At this time, the band was worried that there were other bands called The Warlocks, and was experimenting with different names, and the demo is colloquially known by the name The Emergency Crew. The material was eventually released on Birth Of The Dead in 2003.

Parallel to the commercial fortunes of The Warlocks, the band had been hanging out with Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters. In their new incarnation as The Grateful Dead, they had begun playing Acid Tests with the Pranksters (remember, LSD was legal until October 6, 1966). The band was unbilled, since The Acid Tests themselves were only cryptically advertised. I have not dwelt on the underground side of the story, since it has been so well covered by Tom Wolfe and others. During this period, however, after some band members attended a private event in Soquel (at Ken Babbs's spread), the band played an Acid Test at a house in San Jose on December 4 (near downtown).

Fillmore Auditorium, 1805 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco (December 10, 1965)

By early December, The Warlocks were officially The Grateful Dead, although they were still known as The Warlocks. On December 10, 1965, they played the second Mime Troupe Benefit, which was the second Bill Graham production and the first Bill Graham event at the Fillmore. On the bill were two of the leading San Francisco "underground" bands, The Jefferson Airplane and The Great Society (with Grace Slick). The Warlocks presence was acknowledged by Chronicle columnist Ralph Gleason and by night's end the Grateful Dead were part of that scene for good.

The Grateful Dead's first appearance on a poster was at the January 14, 1966 Fillmore show. The fact that Bill Graham made sure the poster said "Grateful Dead-formerly The Warlocks" suggests that the Warlocks had enough of a following that it was worth mentioning. This suggests there were many more Warlocks gigs than we currently know about. At this point, however, we only have this telling but fragmentary smattering of performances, leading The Warlocks up El Camino Real in their journey to San Francisco and transforming themselves into The Grateful Dead.

The Big Beat, 998 San Antonio Road, Palo Alto (December 18, 1965)

The Grateful Dead had played San Francisco, and after an acid test in the wilds of Western Marin (Muir Beach Dec 11, 1965), in a symbolic moment they returned to Palo Alto for an Acid Test. The Big Beat was Palo Alto's first rock club, but Prankster Page Browning rented it the Saturday night before it opened. Although The Big Beat was in South Palo Alto, far from the bohemian downtown, it was ironic that Palo Alto got its first rock club just as Palo Alto's most famous rock export had graduated.

After playing at The Big Beat Acid Test, the band was now playing in a different league, briefly journeying to Los Angeles with Owsley in February of 1966, but returning to San Francisco, not Palo Alto, and ultimately to Marin. They did play nearby Stanford University numerous times over the years, as part of regular rock band touring, but the scruffy Warlocks had made the journey up El Camino Real and become something different in the process. The Grateful Dead only played Palo Alto itself one more time, at the free Palo Alto Be-In on June 24, 1967, and only the tiniest traces remain of their peculiar 1965 oddysey up The King's Road.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

June 18, 1965, Frenchy's, Hayward, CA: Lords Of London


The first gig of The Warlocks was May 5, 1965 at Magoo's Pizza in Menlo Park. They played every subsequent Wednesday in May. It rapidly became clear to other band members that bassist Dana Morgan, Jr had to go, and Jerry Garcia invited his friend Phil Lesh to join as bassist. Lesh saw the band at Magoo's (probably May 26), and he was in. Never mind that Lesh didn't play bass--Garcia showed him the notes, and Lesh figured out the rest.

The first gig of The Warlocks with Phil Lesh--the original Grateful Dead quintet of Garcia, Lesh, Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann and Ron "Pigpen" McKernan--was at a Hayward club called Frenchy's. Frenchy's (at 29027 Mission Blvd in Hayward) was an oddity, the hippest club in an unhip area, which I have written about elsewhere. According to legend (Dennis McNally and Phil Lesh tell the same story), the fledgling Warlocks were hired for a three-day engagement at Frenchy's, and after a night of weird, stiff rhythm and blues they came back the next evening to discover they had been replaced by an accordion-and-clarinet duo (McNally, p.84). The Warlocks retreated to rehearse and lick their wounds, and began their assault on the Peninsula and the World in August, 1965.

I had hoped that I would find some trace evidence in the local papers of The Warlocks gig, but so far I have found none. This ad is from the June 18, 1965 edition of The Hayward Daily Review, the main local paper, in which Frenchy's had a prominent ad every week. As you can see, the featured act is a group called Lords Of London. Given that Frenchy's was the sort of venue that was open early and late, my guess is that The Warlocks and the "accordion-and-clarinet duo" were in effect opening acts. As a practical matter, they may have alternated sets or something with the headliner, but an unknown band from Palo Alto probably did not ad any value to the marquee, and in any case may have been added too late to promote.

I do not know who the Lords Of London might have been. There was a somewhat popular Canadian band called Lords Of London, who had a 1967 Canadian hit "Cornflakes And Ice Cream." Based on the biography, however, the band broke up before they could tour California. The members later morphed into Nucleus and then A Foot In Coldwater, who had a few Canadian hits in the early 1970s. The group would still have been in High School in Ontario in 1965, and a stealth tour would seem out of the question.