Sunday, October 25, 2009

Honolulu International Center, Honolulu, HI July 1968 (canceled)

A note in the August 10, 1968 issue of Billboard (accessible on Google Books) says

The Grateful Dead, Warner Bros-Seven Arts artists, bowed out of a late July stint at the HIC. An early 1969 date now looms.

None of this turned out to be so, and the Grateful Dead did not play Hawaii until January 23-24, 1970. I do not know if Honolulu International Center (HIC) was the same as Honolulu Civic Auditorium, but I suspect it is so.

This at least partially explains the absence of late July 1968 dates, after Kings Beach Bowl on July 13 (the next gig is August 2 in San Diego at The Hippodrome).

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.

Monday, October 12, 2009

December 19-20, 1969 – New Old Fillmore, San Francisco, CA: Grateful Dead, Osceola, Rhythm Dukes, Jef Jaisun, Lightyear

A run of the mill pair of shows – nothing obviously notable except the support acts. My Grateful Dead list (and I guess we all have one of those) also shows a performance at the same venue on December 21, the Sunday. But without the means to check (given I am writing this from 38,000 feet over Canada), I am assuming that this was an entirely separate event.

I want to concentrate on a couple of the support acts, but following Corry’s template I shall briefly review all of the performers.

Grateful Dead: From what little evidence exists, they were a popular music combo based in San Francisco. By all accounts they had quite a keen following.

Osceola: Sometimes found as Oceola – a Family Dog at the Beach (660 on The Great Highway) favourite that first appeared around October 1969. I should probably know way more off the top of my head, but sadly don’t.

Rhythm Dukes: This really is off the top of my head, but as I recall: (a) Matthew Katz laid claim to the name Moby Grape and the remnants of the band took on the name Rhythm Dukes, (b) at some point they pulled in John “Fuzzy” Oxendine and John Barrett from local “filler” band Boogie, (c) they played the Second Sky River Festival, and (d) Oxendine kept on working with Jerry Miller in later years.

Jef Jaisun: Ah, El Jefe. Multitalented Jef Jaisun – artist, lover, pop singer, journalist, photographer, memory man – first showed up at the Jabberwock on June 3, 1966. Jef’s real claim to fame is that Richie Unterberger accused him of being the janitor at the good old ‘Wock – and that may be how he goes down in history. But we know better. I would like to quote now from those nice folk at www.chickenonaunicycle.com: This is the night that twenty year old aspiring musician and photographer Jef Jaisun first walks in to the Jabberwock. It was 1:45 am and Perry Lederman is playing a guest set which consists of a half-hour raga like piece on electric guitar. Lederman, though little known now, was widely regarded by local musicians at the time. He was a solo guitarist somewhat in the John Fahey mode, but more influenced by Indian music. His only known recording was on an Arhoolie sampler. He was also a seeker-out of vintage 3/4-size Martin guitars, which he continued to favour throughout his life. Lederman died at the age of 52 in 1995. Jaisun will become immortal in the Bay Area for producing the much-played and fondly remembered record “Friendly Neighborhood Narco Agent”. This record, independently released as a 33 RPM EP by Jaisun in 1969, was later picked up Dr Demento, and the song reached an audience outside the Bay Area. See http://www.eljefe.net/fnnafaq.html for the hilarious and unbelievable story of this song. Jef recalls "The entire package was patterned after Country Joe's Rag Baby EPs, right down to using Sierra Sound as the recording studio. I figured if it worked for him, well... not to mention that people in the Bay Area, and Berkeley in particular, had become accustomed to that type of EP packaging, thanks mostly to Joe. Several other folkies released similar EPs about the same time". Jef also has another significant link to the Grateful Dead as he was later a member of Phoenix – who with their co-conspirators and predecessors (Universal Parking Lot, Bluehouse Basement and Mount Rushmore) appear as support to the Dead on many occasions. This is a show probably of transition. We saw a year or so gap between the last Phoenix show and a flurry of shows in San Francisco. The “imposter” Phoenix (who had a couple of albums on ABC) were unlikely to have been responsible for these shows, but the mid decline appearance of a JJ show sort of hints that the efforts made to figure out the history of Phoenix were probably correct.

For his great sense of humour, fabulous recollections and for being an all around good egg, Jef remains on the good guy list to this day. I dropped the ball over completing the Phoenix/Mt Rushmore tree (due to work commitments) and then went off at a tangent – but by the end of the year we will be back on track.

Lightyear: The clue for me here is in the poster. I don’t know of Lightyear at all but the poster is credited to Lightyear Studios. I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that Lightyear were a lightshow/art group. Little has been written to recognise the light shows and the work they did – eventually receiving billing and payment in line with some of the bands. So (a) we should perhaps make a little more effort in documenting the light shows, and (b) we would be really appreciative of knowing more about Lightyear.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

August 24, 1975 Trenton Speedway, New Jersey State Fairgrounds, Hamilton, NJ: Aerosmith/Kingfish/Poco/others



Continued research into the touring history of Bob Weir and Kingfish has uncovered a hitherto forgotten outdoor concert in the Summer of 1975 featuring the band opening for rising stars Aerosmith at an auto racing venue in New Jersey. The actual listing would be

August 24, 1975 Trenton Speedway, New Jersey State Fairgrounds, Hamilton Township New Jersey
Aerosmith/Kingfish/Poco/Slade/Nils Lofgren/Mohagany Rush/Hootchie Kootch

The concert was a Sunday afternoon event beginning at 1:00 pm. Trenton Speedway was a 1.5 mile oval track (IndyCar/NASCAR) inside the New Jersey State Fairgrounds. Hamilton Township is the town right next to the capital city of Trenton, so both the Fairgrounds and and the Speedway were usually referred to as in Trenton. The ad prior to the concert is from the Bucks County Courier Times of August 15, 1975. Promoters Hollow Moon Productions apparently insisted that only 8000 people would be allowed inside the bowl of the oval track of the concert.

The promoters seemed to have underestimated the appeal of Aerosmith, whose album Toys In The Attic had been released in April and was steadily climbing the charts. The first single from the album, "Sweet Emotion," was climbing the charts, and "Walk This Way" would follow later in 1975. By the next year, an earlier single, "Dream On" had re-entered the charts, and Aerosmith was one of American's biggest rock bands. Hollow Moon productions correctly anticipated that Aerosmith could headline an 8000-ticket event, but even they must have been caught by surprise at the turnout.



As the post-mortem review from the Bucks County Courier Times on Monday (August 25, 1975) revealed (above), the concert rapidly gotten out of hand. A huge crowd stormed the chain link fence, and despite the best efforts of baseball bat wielding security staff, eventually everyone was let in for free. The problems at this concert were still being mentioned in the Courier Times the next Summer, and seem to have put a damper on big outdoor events at the State Fairgounds.

Notes on the bands
Aerosmith: Toys In The Attic, released April 1975, was Aerosmith's third album. They remain major concert headliners to this day.
Kingfish: Kingfish, with Bob Weir of The Grateful Dead and Dave Torbert of the New Riders, had come together after the Dead went on a touring hiatus in late 1974. Up until this show, save for one show in Reno, the band had not played outside of California.
Poco: Poco, an excellent if not quite headlining band, was now a four-piece, featuring guitarists Paul Cotton and Rusty Young, bassist Tim Schmidt and drummer George Grantham (everyone sang). Their current album Head Over Heels (ABC Records, July 75) had just been released.
Slade: Slade was an English "Glam" hard rock group, managed by former Animals bassist and Hendrix manager Chas Chandler. Hugely popular in England, their mass appeal never translated to the United States. Nonetheless, Gene Simmons of Kiss cited them as a big influence, and Quiet Riot had huge hits with remakes of some Slade songs in the 1990s. However, the Courier Times reviewer singled out their music as "typical of...all the poorer aspects of rock music," which was a standard American response to the band.
Nils Lofgren: Guitarist/singer Nils Lofgren had played around the Northeast with his band Grin from 1969 to 1974, and he had also worked with Crazy Horse and Neil Young. He had just released his first solo album (on A&M).
Mahogany Rush: Mahogany Rush was a Canadian power trio led by guitarist Frank Marino. I saw them a few months before this (at Winterland), and I can assert that despite all protestation to the country, Marino sounded like a Hendrix knock-off. That being said, it was pretty enjoyable. Their current album was probably Strange Universe.
Hootchie Kootch: Hootchie Kootch was a local band.
note: the excellent Poco site has an ad featuring Ambrosia instead of Mahogany Rush.

Notes on the venue
Auto races at the New Jersey State Fairgrounds near Trenton had been held as early as 1900, and continuous racing began in 1912. A new oval dirt track was opened in 1946, and it was paved in 1957. It was a regular stop on the Indy Car circuit in the 1960s, where stars like AJ Foyt and Parnelli Jones raced (Jim Clark drove Indy Cars there in 1963 and 1964). NASCAR raced there with some regularity from 1967 to 1974, and Richard Petty won three Grand National Events.

The Allman Brothers Band headlined a huge show on October 7, 1973. Apparently over 60,000 attended and the concert security was completely overwhelmed, ending outdoor concerts there until the Aerosmith event.

The race track closed in 1980, and the Fairgrounds closed three years later. The site is now a huge outdoor museum called Grounds For Sculpture.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

August 7, 1976: Wembley Stadium, London, England – Grateful Dead, Santana, New Riders of the Purple Sage (Cancelled)

Bill Graham had lined up England’s national soccer stadium (capacity 80,000 plus) to lay on an outdoor show at Wembley called “Greetings from San Francisco”.

The Dead were booked, Santana were booked and the NRPS were keen to hit London. The bands had been lined up to fly in on August 5 from JFK to London Heathrow. Wembley had been sold out the previous summer for an all day event featuring Elton John, The Eagles, Joe Walsh, Beach Boys (with Chicago’s horn section) and Rufus. However, it seems that Bill Graham was overambitious to think that he would be able to fill Wembley for his San Francisco show. Although tickets were issued, the show ended up being cancelled. The Dead would not return to England again until the Rainbow Theatre shows in March 1981.

July 19-20, Los Angeles Coliseum Stadium: Eric Clapton/Grateful Dead (didn't happen)


The very end of the weekly rock column "Rock Talk From KG" in the Hayward Daily Review always included a few notes about upcoming shows, some of that not yet final or advertised. This is the final paragraph of the May 17, 1974 column, with the tantalizing note that Eric Clapton and The Grateful Dead would play together at the giant Los Angeles Coliseum, with a capacity of about 80,000. Needless to say, it didn't happen.

The idea wasn't as far fetched as it might seem. Eric Clapton had just returned to touring after a four year layoff, and his tour was a huge event. Stadium concerts were "in", at the time, a chance to see major acts in a venue with refreshments and bathrooms, as opposed to a muddy field. The Grateful Dead had a new, expensive sound system, and they needed high paying gigs. While the Dead were never as popular in Los Angeles as they could have been, even in 1974 it was well known that Deadheads would travel in large numbers, given the incentive. OK, the LA Coliseum was an old dump, and the area around it wasn't exactly hippie central, but a 4-hour Dead show followed by a couple of hours of Clapton would make it all worthwhile, right? And then we could do it all again the next day? Oh, well.

Eric Clapton did indeed play Los Angeles on July 19 and 20, but he played at the much smaller Long Beach Arena. The Grateful Dead played Selland Arena in Fresno on July 19.

As to the CSNY/Allman Brothers/Beach Boys/Marshal Tucker gig at the LA Coliseum, it didn't happen either, but it almost did. CSNY were just starting their titanic National tour, mostly in Stadiums, but the Bill Graham produced show was scrapped, and they did not open until July 9 in Seattle.  The Beach Boys were on the CSNY tour, and they too opened in Seattle with them. The Allman Brothers tour seems to have been between Tulsa (July 5) and St. Paul (July 8) during these dates.

I'm listening to "Dark Star">"Have You Ever Loved A Woman">"Not Fade Away" in my mind's ear.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bob Weir and Kingfish Tour History, August-December 1975 (Kingfish III)

After the Grateful Dead "retired" from performing in October 1974, Bob Weir started to play some gigs with his friend Matt Kelly and former New Rider Dave Torbert in their band Kingfish. After a few late 1974 gigs, Weir became a member of the band, and the group started to learn new material and gig seriously around the Bay Area. This post covers the period from August to December 1975. The Grateful Dead were working on the album in Weir's home studio that would become Blues For Allah, but save for a few stealth dates they were not a performing entity. Weir and Kingfish performed steadily however, and I suspect the dates listed here are only partially complete.

Kingfish 1974-76
Robbie Hoddinott-lead guitar
Matt Kelly-harmonica, guitar
Bob Weir-rhythm guitar, vocals
Dave Torbert-bass, vocals
Chris Herold-drums

This is the third installment on Kingfish's performance history (for the first two, see here and here). The sources from my dates include Deadbase IX (to which I was an initial contributor), the fine Weirworks site, some contemporary newspaper archives and a few other sources. I believe there are still many dates to add to this list. If you know of one from this period, please Comment or contact me, and I will add them to the list.
(note: dates added to the original post are shown as added).

August 9, 1975 Frost Amphitheatre, Stanford University Eric Clapton/Kingfish
I am aware of no Kingfish gigs between June 20 and August 9, and there are almost no Jerry Garcia gigs for that period also. I have to assume Garcia and Weir were focused on finishing off Blues For Allah. Although Kingfish had its own throwback sound, they communicated well as a conventional rock band, and opened a number of big shows around the Bay Area. Stanford University, after some bad experiences with Frost Amphitheatre in the early seventies, still alllowed the occasional rock show. Eric Clapton had only returned to performing the year before, and this was a very big deal of a show.

I attended this show, and Kingfish absolutely knocked me out. I had seen the Dead a few times, and I understood they weren't the Dead, but Kingfish managed to get a lot of motion out of a very few notes. Weir and Torbert's experience in larger venues really showed. Torbert was a terrific presence, too, for those who weren't lucky enough to see him, and his Cowboy Surfer cool made a nice contrast to Weir's dynamic presence (I'm pretty sure the girls really liked him too).

Clapton and his band were great, and Carlos Santana showed up to jam on the encore, but that's for another blog.

August 14, 1975 Fox Theater, Venice, CA Kingfish
The Fox in Venice was a converted movie theater. Commenter RD reports there were two shows this night.

There are probably a number of gigs I am missing from this period.

August 15, 1975 La Paloma Theater, Encinitas, CA Kingfish
A commenter recalls this show quite clearly (added).

August 24, 1975 Trenton Speedway, New Jersey State Fairgrounds, Hamilton Township, NJ Aerosmith/Kingfish/Poco/Slade/Nils Lofgren/Mahogany Rush/Hootchie Kootch
14,000 people attended this outdoor event at a race track in New Jersey, for Kingfish's first journey away from the West Coast. I have written about it extensively elsewhere. [added]

September 13, 1975 Stanford Music Hall, Palo Alto Kingfish/Link Wray/Barry Melton
Kingfish returned to the Stanford Music Hall, where they had played the previous New Year's Eve. This was the second time I saw them, and they played a lengthy, dynamic show. It is easy to listen to old Kingfish tapes and shrug that their playing seems rather simplistic, but it had a very powerful effect in concert.

Barry Melton was added to the bill at the last minute, and opened the show with a solo performance.

October 4, 1975 Winterland Kingfish/Sons of Champlin/Keith and Donna
Kingfish was a terrific live band, but many California Deadheads had seen them a number of times by now. One friend of mine who attended the concert said that while Keith and Donna and The Sons were great, he felt that Kingfish wasn't playing anything new. In that respect Kingfish was acting like a normal rock band, but Deadheads were used to constant variation, even at the cost of sloppinesss.

October 17, 1975 Concord Pavilion Jerry Garcia Band/Kingfish/Keith and Donna
I attended this show, and once again Kingfish played great, although even I noticed that I was starting to become awfully familiar with Kingfish's material on only my third show. Even though Jerry Garcia was the advertised headliner (the ad above is from the October 5, 1975 Oakland Tribune), Kingfish closed the show. In the Bay Area, at least, when Kingfish and the Garcia Band shared the bill, Kingfish usually closed.

Although the show was well attended, it was nowhere near sold out. Garcia and Weir were so omnipresent in the Bay Area that there wasn't an air of specialness to their performances. For Bay Area fans, that lead to a relaxed atmosphere at local shows.

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

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
Kingfish returns to Trenton. The small auditorium is only two-thirds full (per a review), but that's pretty good for a Monday night. A Commenter reports that there was an early and a late show. [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.

November ?, 1975 Ballroom, U. Mass, Amherst, MA Kingfish/Keith and Donna
Facebook contributors have very specific recollections of a show at U. Mass somewhere on this tour.

November 18, 1975 My Father's Place, Roslyn, NY Kingfish
Two shows. Keith and Donna probably didn't play this club date.

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. 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.

December 2, 1975 Lisner Auditorium, GWU, Washington, DC Kingfish/Keith and Donna

December 5, 1975  Capitol Theater, Passaic, NJ Kingfish/Keith and Donna

December 6, 1975 My Father's Place, Roslyn, NY Kingfish
I assume we are missing numerous dates from the East Coast tour.

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 19 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"). Keith and Donna played a brief but excellent set, joined by Matt Kelly of Kingfish on harmonica for the set closing "Scarlet Begonias." After a great set by the Jerry Garcia Band, Kingfish closed the show. For the final number, Keith Godchaux and Nicky Hopkins sat at the same piano, while saxophonist Stephen Schuster played along as well.

Kingfish continued to tour throughout 1976, and they also recorded an album at Weir's studio, released on Round/UA in March of 1976. However, once the Dead returned to action, it was clear that Weir's role in Kingfish was part time at best. Weir stayed with Kingfish until August of 1976, when his Grateful Dead schedule took over permanently. Weir would continue to guest periodically with Kingfish over the next few decades.


Until I complete my research on 1976 Kingfish dates, the best source is Weirworks, which I have not yet been able to improve on.

Bob Weir and Kingfish Tour History, January-June 1975 (Kingfish II)


After the Grateful Dead "retired" from performing in October 1974, Bob Weir started to play some gigs with his friend Matt Kelly and former New Rider Dave Torbert in their band Kingfish. After a few late 1974 gigs, Weir became a member of the band, and the group started to learn new material and gig seriously around the Bay Area. This post covers the period from January to June 1975. The Grateful Dead were working on the album in Weir's home studio that would become Blues For Allah, but save for a few stealth dates they were not a performing entity. Weir and Kingfish performed steadily however, and I suspect the dates listed here are only partially complete.

Kingfish 1974-76
Robbie Hoddinott-lead guitar
Matt Kelly-harmonica, guitar
Bob Weir-rhythm guitar, vocals
Dave Torbert-bass
Chris Herold-drums

This is the second installment on Kingfish's performance history (for the first, see here). The sources from my dates include Deadbase IX (to which I was an initial contributor), the fine Weirworks site, some contemporary newspaper archives and a few other sources. I believe there are still many dates to add to this list. If you know of one from this period, please Comment or contact me.

January 3-4, 1975 Chateau Liberte, Los Gatos, CA Kingfish
At the time, Kingfish was playing regular shows at this tiny joint in the Santa Cruz Mountains, between Santa Cruz and San Jose

January 14,1975 Winterland Kingfish/Valley Boys/Little Roger
Bill Graham had begun presenting local bands at Winterland on Tuesday nights for just $2.00, calling it "Sounds Of the City." This was an attempt to make Winterland into a competitor to local nightclubs, a strategy he had employed with Tuesday nights at The Fillmore West and Fillmore East. Generally there was a fairly popular local club headliner, and some lesser known bands. Kingfish fit nicely, as Weir and Torbert were well known but Kingfish was not.

Buddy Cage of the New Riders of The Purple Sage sat in for most of the show, and he sounded great. Interestingly, Kingfish played two songs with Cage that I am not aware of them playing any other time, both sung by Torbert: Buck Owens "A11" ("Don't play A11 on the jukebox") and Dolly Parton's "My Blue Tears." They also played "Groupie," a Torbert song from the Riders Panama Red album. I suspect that these numbers were leftovers from the pre-Weir incarnation of the band.

Little Roger and The Goosebumps were a local band featuring Roger Clark and Dick Bright. They became infamous with their song "Stairway To Gilligan's Isle" (The Gilligan's Island theme done to the tune of "Stairway To Heaven." I saw them do it once at Winterland, and they brought down the house).

January 18, 1975 Longbranch, Berkeley Kingfish
The Longbranch, at 2504 San Pablo Avenue, mostly featured local bands on the way up.

January 24-25, 1975 Keystone Berkeley Kingfish/James And The Mercedes
A tape survives of Friday, January 24. Kingfish has begun doing Weir's blues version of "CC Rider," which will ultimately be adopted by the Dead. They have also begun closing shows with "One More Saturday Night, " the one original Weir Grateful Dead song that Kingfish will do, as a concession to Weir's fan base. The second night is known from a newspaper listing.

James And The Mercedes was fronted by James Ackroyd, formerly of James And The Good Brothers. I believe Bob Weir's girlfriend Frankie was a backup singer for James And The Mercedes.

January 26, 1975 Chateau Liberte, Los Gatos, CA Kingfish/James And The Mercedes
For a great eyewitness account of this show, complete with pictures, see Cryptdev's great blog post.

February 14-15, 1975 Keystone Berkeley Kingfish/Grayson Street

February 16, 1975 Margarita's, Santa Cruz, CA Kingfish
Margarita's was a new rock club in Santa Cruz, at 1685 Commercial Way. Kingfish opened the club on a Sunday night.

February 19, 1975 The Gold Rush, Sacramento, CA Kingfish
[update] Originally known from Weirworks, where the show was listed as "River City, Fairfax." River City was a tiny watering hole in Marin County, where Phil Lesh was a regular, but a Kingfish gig seemed unlikely. A terrific board tape has surfaced, however, and the show was actually in Sacramento. The "River City" was a 19th century nickname for Sacramento, so the transposition wasn't implausible.

February 23, 1975 Golden Bear, Huntington Beach, CA Kingfish
A tape survives from February 23, which is how we know the date. That was a Sunday, and I have to assume the band did a couple of nights at the intimate Golden Bear. Weekend gigs (Feb 21-22-23) seem logical, but that's just speculation.

February 28, 1975 Keystone Berkeley Kingfish
Known from a newspaper listing.

March 2, 1975 Winterland Kingfish/Alice Stuart/West
Kingfish headlined another Tuesday night "Sounds Of The City." At one of the Winterland gigs, New Riders pedal steel player Buddy Cage sat in with Kingfish again. The BGP list has Terry and The Pirates instead of Alice Stuart, but a contemporary newspaper listing has her, and I am inclined to that. West featured guitarist Ron Cornelius.

March 7, 1975 Crown College Dining Commons, UCSC, Santa Cruz, CA Kingfish
[update] An intrepid UCSC student managed to hire Kingfish to play at the school. For the complete, unexpurgated story, see cryptdev's blog here.

March 14, 1975 East Gym, Humboldt State College, Arcata, CA
Known from Weirworks.

March 20-21, 1975 Keystone Berkeley Kingfish/Soundhole
The dates are from a contemporary newspaper listing in the Hayward Daily Review. Soundhole was a popular Marin band who had worked with Van Morrison.

March 22-23, 1975 Pitschell Players Cabaret, Los Angeles Kingfish
This date has circulated for awhile as March 21, based on a tape. However, it conflicts with the Keystone date, which I have seen listed.Thanks to Commenter RD, we know that Kingfish played Pitschell Players Cabaret on both March 22 and 23, with two shows each night.

April 19, 1975 Palomino Club, North Hollywood Kingfish 
The Palomino was a country club in North Hollywood, although by the mid-1970s it was more like a Cowboy bar. This gig has a unique setlist. Dave Torbert and Robbie Hoddinott apparently had some sort of altercation with the law and were not present. Doug Sahm, a Grateful Dead associate of many years, played bass on an emergency basis. A person who attended the show described it as "almost a Weir solo show." The setlist includes a number of songs not associated with Kingfish, like "El Paso," "Big River" and "Me and Bobby McGee." I'm not aware of Weir or Kelly ever speaking about the circumstances.

April 20, 1975 County Bowl, Santa Barbara Jackson Browne/Phoebe Snow/Kingfish
Unlike Jerry Garcia's various aggregations, Kingfish functioned quite well as a normal rock band, and Weir seemed to enjoy playing in regular concert settings. Santa Barbara County Bowl was a small stadium (by football standards), used for medium sized events.

April 25, 1975 Union Ballroom, U. of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT Kingfish/Smolder Bros
The Grateful Dead had played this venue in April 1969.

April 27, 1975 Gym, U. Nevada-Reno Kingfish/Sutro Sympathy Orchestra
Reno is only about a five hour drive from the Bay Area. The listing for the show is above, from the Reno Evening Gazette of April 26, 1975. Sutro Sympathy Orchestra was a Reno band.

April 30, 1975 Sophie’s, Palo Alto Kingfish
Sophie's was at 260 South California Avenue in Palo Alto. It was later better known to Deadheads as the Keystone Palo Alto. The listing above is from the Hayward Daily Review of April 25, 1975.

May 3-4, 1975 Keystone Berkeley Kingfish
Known from a newspaper listing.

May 8, 1975 Inn Of The Beginning, Cotati Kingfish
From a flyer. Discovered thanks to other scholarly work.

May 26, 1975 County Bowl, Santa Barbara Jefferson Starship/Kingfish
Kingfish opened for Jefferson Starship at Santa Barbara County's modest stadium.

May 29, 1975 Oakland Coliseum Doobie Brothers/Eagles/Commander Cody/Kingfish
Once again, Kingfish was willing to open a major Bay Area rock concert. This was a huge "Day On The Green" at the Oakland stadium.

May 29-30, June 1, 1975 Roxy Theatre, Los Angeles Kingfish
Kingfish opened the daytime Oakland show, and seems to have made it down to Los Angeles for the Roxy show. The Roxy was a high profile rock club in Hollywood.

June 7, 1975 Margarita's, Santa Cruz, CA Kingfish

June 8, 1975 El Camino Park, Palo Alto Garcia-Saunders/Kingfish/Rowan Brothers
In their first co-billing, Garcia-Saunders and Kingfish play a Sunday afternoon benefit at El Camino Park in Palo Alto. The park, at 100 El Camino Real,  was an easy walk from both the site of The Tangent and Kesey's Perry Lane haunts (by then redeveloped). It was also the site of the 1967 Palo Alto Be-In.

June 17, 1975 Winterland Jerry Garcia and Friends/Kingfish/Keith and Donna/Mirrors
The Grateful Dead did a benefit for the recently deceased poster artist Bob Fried, the famous "Bob Fried Memorial Boogie." Kingfish played two sets, prior to the Dead's huge set.

June 19, 1975 Keystone Berkeley Kingfish/Heroes
June 20, 1975 Keystone Berkeley Kingfish/Paul Pena
Heroes was a local band connected to the Dead indirectly. Leader Bill Cutler was an engineer and the older brother of future Dead soundman John Cutler. Paul Pena, although a solo performer, wrote the song "Jet Airliner" that was later a huge hit for the Steve Miller Band.

There are no further Kingfish concerts until early August. Given that Jerry Garcia does not perform either during this period, I have to assume that Garcia and Weir were focused on finishing Blues For Allah, which would be released in September of 1975.

update: not quite true. An eyewitness reports on a couple of Kingfish shows in July.
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 ?, 1975 Alpine Meadows Ski Area, Lake Tahoe, CA: Boz Scaggs & Orchestra/Kingfish
Kevin Hamm here.Yes,Kingfish played at least a couple of shows in july of 75.On July 4 at Sonora fairgrounds I saw Kieth and Donna Band,Stoneground,Kingfish and Commander Cody.A couple of weeks later I saw Kingfish open for Boz Scaggs and his orchestra at Alpine meadows ski resort.Not only did I tape the show on a cheap cassette player,but I caught Bob Weir in the parking lot and he gave me a little interview.I still have the tape! 


Next: Kingfish perfmance history from August through December 1975.

Bob Weir and Kingfish Tour History, 1974 (Kingfish I)

Kingfish was a popular rock band from 1974 through the end of the 20th century, but never more so than when it included Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir. Since the early period of Weir's involvement with Kingfish, starting in 1974, mostly consisted of local Bay Area gigs, it has been hard to track the history of the band. Also, the inevitable result of focus on Jerry Garcia has made Kingfish easier to dismiss, particularly at the time. Having seen Weir and Kingfish four times, I can assert that they were an exceptional live rock band in concert. While they tended to similar performances that do not lend themselves to obsessive tape collection--most of the arrangements of the songs never changed--they were a swinging band, and the dynamic of Weir and the great Dave Torbert as front man made them a great bar band who also sounded good in larger places. This post is the first of three attempting to chronicle the known performance history of Weir and Kingfish in 1974-1975.

Kingfish Pre-History

Kingfish was founded by harmonica player Matthew Kelly in 1974. There is some chance he had performed under the name as early as 1973, but the band officially formed in 1974. Kelly formed the band with former New Riders of The Purple Sage bassist Dave Torbert. Torbert had left the Riders at the end of 1973, for reasons that have never been made clear to me, just as the band was starting to taste some real National success. The original lineup was

Robbie Hoddinott-lead guitar
Matt Kelly-harmonica, guitar
Mick Ward-piano
Dave Torbert-bass, vocals
Chris Herold-drums

All of the band members had many past connections. Torbert and drummer Chris Herold had been in a legendary Palo Alto blues band called The New Delhi River Band (with David Nelson), from 1966 to 1968. In early 1968, Kelly joined NDRB, and after a few personnel changes (Nelson left, for one thing) the group changed its name to Shango. After modest success in the South Bay, Shango was signed by White Whale Records. White Whale changed the band's name to Horses, and after more personnel changes, a very obscure album was released in late 1968 (since re-released on cd).

After Horses disintegrated, Herold's drumming career was constricted by obligations caused by his Conscientious Objector Status (he avoided the draft by driving a hospital truck). Kelly went to England, where he joined a band called Gospel Oak, while Torbert went to Hawaii. On his way from Hawaii to England to rejoin Kelly, Torbert stopped in California and got a fateful call from old pal David Nelson, who invited him to join the New Riders of The Purple Sage, which Torbert did around Spring 1970 (replacing Phil Lesh, who was always a temp).

When Kelly returned to the Bay Area, he worked with a songwriter called David Rea, and performed in Rea's band Slewfoot, along with Herold. Bob Weir, a childhood friend of Kelly's, produced the album, and many of the Riders and the Dead performed on the record (also called Slewfoot). In the meantime, Kelly and Herold intermittently worked with a sort of "Top-40 Jazz Fusion" band--whatever that means--in the Santa Cruz Mountains, called Lonesome Janet. Englishman Mick Ward (possibly "Nick", not Mick, I have heard both) was the pianist, and Robbie Hoddinott was the guitarist and Patti Cathcart (later half of Tuck & Patti) was the vocalist.

In 1973, Matt Kelly was working on a harmonica instruction album with many Bay Area musicians (released finally in 1987 as A Wing And A Prayer). Kingfish apparently arose out of that project, after Torbert left the Riders. Kingfish played one show at the Foothill College Gym in Los Altos in late Spring 1974 (I recall it being advertised as Torbert's new band), and then went to Alaska for the Summer. Alaska, particularly then, was the Wild West, and there was a lot of oil money, weed and 23-hour days, so the band played numerous gigs and got really comfortable with each other. Kingfish returned home after the Summer ready to conquer, but Ward abruptly died in an auto accident.

Fall 1974: Bob Weir Joins Kingfish

According to numerous interviews I have read over the years, mostly in Relix, Kingfish continued to play without Ward, and Weir began to sit in. Weir and Kelly had been childhood friends, but up until the early 1970s they had not played music together, only sports. Kingfish's sound had been designed around having a piano player anchoring the middle, and Weir's unique rhythm guitar style was a perfect fit. What few Kingfish gigs there were must have been pretty low key and probably confined to Marin. In any case, once the Grateful Dead "retired" from performing after their October 1974 Winterland gigs, Weir needed something to do, and Kingfish seemed to fit perfectly. The new band lineup was

Robbie Hoddinott-lead guitar
Matt Kelly-harmonica, guitar
Bob Weir-rhythm guitar, vocals
Dave Torbert-bass, vocals
Chris Herold-drums

November 8, 1974 Boots And Saddle, La Honda, CA Kingfish
[update] It appears that the first public performance by Bob Weir with Kingfish was at a legendary Santa Cruz Mountain hangout called The Boots And Saddle, at 1829 La Honda Road. I only recently discovered this date, on a thread about a long-ago band from that area called Timber Creek (nee Mose). The venue has since burned down.

November 19, 1974 The Lions Share, San Anselmo, CA Kingfish
Prior to my discovery of the Boots And Saddle show, the earliest known Weir performance with Kingfish was not coincidentally the earliest known Kingfish tape. The Lions Share was a musicians hangout at 60 Redhill Drive in San Anselmo. The setlist (available at the fine Weirworks site) shows that no Weir songs were performed, suggesting that Weir was just sitting in. 

Kingfish's style mixed Chicago Blues, rockabilly and Bakersfield country, and included many songs known only to people with long memories or big record collections, such as Johnny Horton's "Battle Of New Orleans."  Torbert sang a few originals, but they came from Horses ("Asia Minor" and "Jump For Joy") and Lonesome Janet ("Hypnotize"). Lead guitarist Robbie Hoddinott sometimes sang lead on Junior Walker's "Shake And Fingerpop." With Hoddinott's stinging Telecaster solos, Weir's drive in the middle, the swinging, bluesy feel of Torbert and Herold, along with Kelly's harmonica and guitar colors, Kingfish played in a style that would be called 'Roots Rock' today, but at the time was just called "Rock and Roll."

November ?, 1974 Alpine Hills Country Club, Portola Valley, CA Kingfish
[update] In a post for a nostalgic Facebook group about Palo Alto, a member recalls that Bob Weir played with Kingfish at his wedding reception at the Alpine Hills Country Club in Portola Valley. There is every reason to believe the post. According to him (an old Palo Altan himself), Kingfish rehearsed in a house in Palo Alto on Ramona Street, near the old Palo Alto Times building (at the corner of Hamilton and Ramona). Torbert and Kingfish soundman Tim Hovey lived in the house at the time. Portola Valley was a wealthy community, so the country club was probably a pretty nice place for the reception. 

November 29, 1974 Chateau Liberte, Los Gatos, CA Kingfish/Timbercreek
Chateau Liberte was a legendary joint in the Santa Cruz Mountains, hard to find and harder to get to (at 22700 Old Santa Cruz Highway in Los Gatos). It was known as a biker gang hangout (supposedly the Gypsy Jokers), and was apparently not for the faint, but all who recall it think of it fondly. The Doobie Brothers got their start as the house band there around 1970. A flyer survives for this show, also advertising Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders the next night (the ad above is from the weekly newsaper). The Chateau Liberte show must be the first gig where Weir is an advertised member of Kingfish.

Thanks to a kindly soundman who let people plug into the board, a setlist survives. Weir and Torbert share the lead vocals now, with Weir singing songs like "Mona, " Big Iron" and "Youngblood." The only whiffs of Grateful Dead material are covers of Chuck Berry's "Promised Land," and "Around and Around," both of which fit well into Kingfish's style.

Timbercreek was a Santa Cruz Mountains band who had previously been known as Mose. They have an interesting site, for those people interested in the long gone rock and roll scene in the Santa Cruz Mountains back in the day (note the ads for showings of the Sunshine Daydream movie).

December 13-14, 1974 Chateau Liberte, Los Gatos, CA Kingfish
Kingfish, still working out their sound, returned for a weekend at the Chateau.

December 29, 1974 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA Kingfish
The Keystone Berkeley was one of the Bay Area's premier rock clubs (I still miss the sawdust filled dump), so a Sunday night performance there was a sign that Weir and Kingfish were serious about their partnership. The clipping above is from the December 27, 1974 edition of The Hayward Daily Review.

December 31, 1974 Stanford Music Hall, Palo Alto, CA Kingfish/Osiris
This show was heavily advertised around Palo Alto (I wish I still had the flyer). The Stanford Music Hall was a movie theater built in 1925 that was refurbished as a kind of mini-rock palace. It was a nice place to see a show (I saw Kingfish there a year later), but too small to make money for a place that did not have a bar. Interestingly, The Stanford Music Hall was at 221 University Avenue, just a few blocks from Dana Morgan Music (at 536 Ramona), where Garcia and Weir met, and two blocks from the Top Of The Tangent (at 117 University) where Mother McRee's Uptown Jug Band Champions evolved into The Warlocks. This show would have been Weir's first paying gig in downtown Palo Alto since those days.

Osiris was a Palo Alto band featuring Kevin McKernan, Pigpen's younger brother. He looked eerily like Pig--once he passed me by on his bicycle, and a friend pointed him out, and it was like seeing an album photo come to life.

next: Kingfish performance history from January through June of 1975

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.

December 12-13, 1974: The Boarding House, San Francisco Garcia and Saunders (canceled)


Deadbase and The Jerry Site list Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders as playing The Boarding House in San Francisco on December 12 and 13, 1974 (Thursday and Friday), just prior to a weekend trip to Oregon for gigs in Portland (June 14) and Eugene (June 15). The Boarding House was an intimate theater on 960 Bush Street (near Taylor), a lovely venue that mostly featured acoustic or songwriter type acts rather than loud rock. Old And In The Way, for example, performed there in 1973 and the tracks were used for their album. Rock wasn't unknown: Garcia-Saunders played there regularly in 1973, and I saw The Tubes play some memorable gigs there in 1975, and I saw Carlene Carter play with The Rumour in 1978 and Clover in 1979. However the ambiance of the little theater was more oriented towards listening than rocking.

The top listing, from the music section of the December 6, 1974 Hayward Daily Review, however, showing Maria Muldaur and The Great American Music Band playing the Boarding House from Thursday December 12 through Sunday the 15th insures that Garcia-Saunders did not play. Maria Muldaur was a more typical act for The Boarding House, and she had a hit single ("Midnight At The Oasis") and could have easily sold the place out, so there would have been no need or point for Garcia-Saunders to make a surprise appearance.

Nonetheless, given the naming of her band as "The Great American Music Band," and the fact that Maria Muldaur made a guest appearance with the Great American String Band, featuring Jerry Garcia and others, on April 20, 1974 (at The Pilgrimage Theater in Los Angeles), it is deeply tempting to suggest that Garcia showed up to the Boarding House anyway. John Kahn was Maria's boyfriend, after all, and she even ended up as a temporary member of The Jerry Garcia Band in 1978. Much as I wish to be able to list "December 12-13, 1974/Boarding House/JG guests on banjo with Maria Muldaur," I don't think the facts support it.

The original source of the date was almost certainly Dennis McNally's list (which he kindly passed on to me in the 1980s). Many of his listings came from Musicians Union records or advertisements, and while they are often the only reference, they are surprisingly accurate. Nonetheless, for obvious reasons Garcia and Saunders changed their local schedule around often, and a tentative booking for a gig could easily have been replaced by a more lucrative gig for the bass player's girlfriend. The fact that the listing exists at all is the sole hope that Garcia made some kind of appearance.

More telling is the bottom listing, from the Hayward Daily Review of November 8, 1974, featuring a November 14 night at The Great American Music Hall, with a double bill of Byron Berline and Country Gazette and Richard Greene and The Great American Music Band. While I feel confident that The Great American Music Band bore some relation to the Great American String Band, it is plain that it was a stand-alone aggregation, and its presence at a gig was no guarantee that Jerry Garcia (or anyone) was going to show up. On the night of November 14, Jerry Garcia was in Boston, so it is certain that the GAMH gig had no connection to Garcia.

With all that being said, knowing that Garcia wasn't playing, it seems pretty plausible that he did show up to see his bass player's girlfriend strut her stuff on one of those nights--wouldn't you, particularly if your bass player was dating Maria Muldaur?--but I suspect he just hung out rather than played. Outside of the context of this blog, there does seem to be some interesting continuity between The Great American String Band, a group formed by David Grisman, David Nichtern and others to do for all American music what Old And In The Way had done for bluegrass, and the Great American Music Band, but that is a topic for a different blog.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

October 3, 1970 Washoe County Fairgrounds, Reno, NV Grateful Dead/Hot Tuna





This falls into the category of "In The Strangest Places If You Look At It Right"

The above is part of an article on the experiences of Miss Nevada 1970, Vicky Jo Todd of Sparks, and her experiences in Atlantic City at the Miss America Pageant. The article is in what appears to be the "Women's" section of Reno's Nevada State Journal, for Friday, September 25, 1970. Leaving aside the breathless explanation of Miss Todd's experiences (she shared quarters with Misses Nebraska, New Hampshire and New Jersey!), there is a rather interesting postscript. During the interview, some organizers for a "Run For Peace" event gave her a ticket for a concert at the nearby Washoe County Fairgrounds planned for "Saturday Night," featuring the Grateful Dead and Hot Tuna.

Now, given that the date of the article is Friday, September 25, this would seem to imply that the date in question was September 26. However, we know the Dead played Salt Lake City that night. On the other hand, I doubt the Society columnist for a Reno newspaper was losing sleep over the exact chronology, and in any case he or she may not have known the exact day his article was running. Following that logic, the date referred to would be Saturday, October 3. That is an open date on the calendar of both the Dead and Hot Tuna. More intriguingly, they played Winterland on Sunday October 4, and as a rule of thumb working bands do not play Sunday unless they are playing the rest of the weekend.

This is hardly definitive, but its at least worth further consideration. If the Dead weren't going to work at all that weekend, then they wouldn't play Winterland, and if they were, where were they playing Saturday night, and for that matter Friday? Reno is an easy drive for a roadie, so the band's equipment could get up for the show on Saturday and be back by Sunday's Winterland show without difficulty.