Friday, April 16, 2010

Grateful Dead/Jerry Garcia Tour Itinerary November 1969

I have been constructing tour itineraries for the Grateful Dead for brief periods of their history. There is so much information circulating on websites and blogs (including my own) that go beyond published lists on Deadlists and Dead.net that these posts make useful forums for discussing what is known and missing during each period. So far I have reviewed
Rather than go in strictly chronological order, I am focusing on periods where recent research has been done by myself or others. Over time I hope to have the entire 1965-70 period. My principal focus here is on identifying which dates have Grateful Dead shows, which dates might have Grateful Dead shows, and which dates are in dispute or may be of interest. Where relevant, I am focusing on live appearances by other members--mostly Jerry Garcia, as a practical matter--in order to get an accurate timeline.

What follows is a list of known Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia dates, including The New Riders Of The Purple Sage, for November 1969. I am focused on which performances occurred when, rather than the performances themselves. For known performances, I have assumed that they are easy to assess on Deadlists, The Archive and elsewhere, and have made little comment. As a point of comparison, I am comparing my list to Deadlists and The Jerry Site (for Garcia dates), but I realize that different databases may include or exclude different dates (I am not considering recording dates, interviews or Television and radio broadcast dates in this context).

My working assumption is that the Grateful Dead, while already a legendary rock band in 1969, were living hand to mouth and scrambling to find paying gigs. Even by 1969, most paying performances were on Friday and Saturday nights, so I am particularly interested  in Friday and Saturday nights where no Grateful Dead performances were scheduled or known.

I have linked to existing posters where available.

November 1-2, 1969 Family Dog On The Great Highway Grateful Dead/Danny Cox/Golden Toad
The Grateful Dead headlined Saturday and Sunday at the Family Dog, while playing Friday night--which was Halloween--at San Jose State. Its my belief that the Dead were effectively promoting the Family Dog shows themselves, and both wanted to insure that they didn't compete with themselves (thus playing a small venue in San Jose) while insuring some sort of payday (since there was no guarantee of a profit at the Family Dog).

After the Summer debacles of the Light Show Strike and The Wild West cancellation, Chet Helms's Family Dog was in dire financial straits. It appears from various flyers that many of the shows at the Family Dog for the back half of 1969 were put on by different promoters, who would rent the Dog and its equipment. I think the Dead were effectively co-promoters of this show, although I can't prove it. Then-manager Lenny Hart was working closely with Chet Helms at the time, accounting for many of the performances at the Dog by the band.

The only handbill for this show, while elegant, seems to be very simply put together and was probably cheap and easy to produce, a sign of a low-budget program. My assumption is that the Dog show could not be advertised until the Winterland shows were complete. The fact that there was a different show on Friday night, without the Grateful Dead, indicates that there was no late change of plans involving the San Jose State show.

Danny Cox was an African-American folk singer from Kansas City, friendly with Brewer & Shipley, who later put out a 1971 solo album (produced by Nick Gravenites) on which both Merl Saunders and John Kahn played (Birth Announcement on Dunhill). The Golden Toad played Medieval and Renaissance music on traditional instruments, and were well known for playing the Renaissance Faire in Marin (and elsewhere). Golden Toad leader Bob Thomas was an old friend of Owsley's, and among many other accomplishments created the Grateful Dead's 'Lightning Bolt' logo, as well as the covers to the albums Live/Dead and Bear's Choice.

November 3-4, 1969 The Matrix, San Francisco New Riders Of The Purple Sage
According to Ralph Gleason's column in the San Francisco Chronicle, the New Riders played on both Monday (Nov 3) and Tuesday (4) (the clip is from the November 3 Chronicle). [not on TheJerrySite]

November 6, 1969 Inn Of The Beginning, Cotati New Riders Of The Purple Sage
Garcia and the New Riders played a Thursday night show at the tiny Inn Of The Begining in Cotati (the clip is from Ralph Gleason's column in the November 5 Chronicle). [not on TheJerrySite]

November 7-8, 1969 The New Old Fillmore, San Francisco Grateful Dead/South Bay Experimental Flash/Alligator
The captioned photo from the November 5 San Francisco Chronicle says "The Grateful Dead will play the Fillmore Auditorium this weekend--the first "big name" rock band to appear at the Fillmore since it was taken over by Al Kramer and the Flamin' Groovies."

In early 1968, the Grateful Dead and other San Francisco bands had decided that they were tired of playing for other people (Bill Graham and Chet Helms, mainly), and opened their own venue at the Carousel Ballroom (1545 Market at Van Ness). The well-intentioned venue, mainly run by the Dead, foundered financially. Bill Graham then moved from the Fillmore (on 1805 Geary) to the Fillmore West (the former Carousel) in July 1968. He had snatched the lease on the Carousel Ballroom out from under the Grateful Dead (and the other bands) and expanded his empire and trumped his competitors in one fell swoop. The Grateful Dead returned to working for Bill Graham, if somewhat grudgingly. The November 8 concert was released on Dick's Picks Vol. 16 in 2000.

As the month of November shows, however, the Dead weren't fully on board with the Graham empire, even though they apparently quite liked Bill personally. They regularly played for Chet Helms at the Family Dog, and now they were the first major band to play for the promoters who had taken over the original Fillmore. The Flamin' Groovies, who did not have that much of a following at the time, had been around for some years and knew everyone on the scene.

The South Bay Experimental Flash were from Richmond in the East Bay. The band Alligator is unknown to me.

November 13, 1969 The Poppycock, Palo Alto New Riders Of The Purple Sage
The Poppycock, at 135 University Avenue (at High Street) in Palo Alto, was a fish and chips/beer joint that was also Palo Alto's first regular rock venue. I have written about this elsewhere--suffice to say this would have been Jerry Garcia's first paying gig in Palo Alto since before the Warlocks were formed. 

Ralph Gleason did not mention the New Riders playing the Poppycock on Thursday November 13, in itself not typical but not significant. However, Gleason does mention the New Riders playing on the next Thursday (November 20-see below). The poster does seem to imply that the New Riders will be playing multiple Thursdays.

November 15, 1969 Lanai Theater, Crockett Grateful Dead/Black Diamond Blues Band
The Chronicle notice (right) says
The Grateful Dead will be featured for a "Moratorium Day Gathering" from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. tonight at the Lanai Theater, Second and Starr streets, Crockett.
The Black Diamond Blues Band and the Dr. Zarkoff light show will complete the bill. Crockett is located 10 miles north of Richmond on Highway 80.
The Moratorium was part of a Nationwide anti-Vietnam War protest. Many events on that day were "Moratorium" events. I don't doubt the Grateful Dead were opposed to the Vietnam War, but so many events were pegged as Moratorium events, it probably meant less than it may appear.

From scattered information, I believe that Quicksilver manager Ron Polte was part of a group promoting the Lanai Theater as a concert venue, although I am not certain of that. There were a series of concerts there throughout November of 1969, and once again the Dead were leading the way in trying to establish new venues in new places, even in the Bay Area.

I have been to Crockett, although not recently, but it is a small out of the way place even now, and it must have been quite remote in 1969. The town is on the Northeast corner of the San Pablo Bay, on the Carquinez Straight. Second Avenue and Starr Street is right on the Carquinez Straight, just East of the Carquinez Bridge and Highway 80. Crockett, despite being unincorporated Contra Costa County, has always been the corporate headquarters of C&H Sugar, so the area around Crockett was always an important commercial area. Perhaps the Lanai Theater served to entertain the local workers, maybe during WW2 or earlier, but I know nothing about the venue (update: thanks to reader Peter for sending in a great handbill from the Crockett show)
A handbill for the Nov 15 '69 Crockett show [h/t Peter]
Today, Crockett has a population of about 3200, and the corner of Second and Starr seems to be a new housing development. I see no trace of the Lanai Theater, whatever it was. The Black Diamond Blues Band is also unknown to me.

November 18, 1969 Family Dog On The Great Highway, San Francisco New Riders Of The Purple Sage/David LaFlamme "Square Dance"
The Family Dog was always in dire financial straits, but Chet Helms always had a sharp ear to the ground. Often on Tuesday nights, the Family Dog would spread hay bales around and have a country rock show, some years before that became popular. It would be interesting to know if David LaFlamme played with the New Riders or had his own group (other than Its A Beautiful Day), or both. LaFlamme was friendly with Garcia, so he probably played with the Riders at least a little bit. [not on TheJerrySite]

November 19, 1969 Fillmore West, San Francisco New Riders Of The Purple Sage/Big Brother and The Holding Company/Barry McGuire & The Doctor Naut Family
Although the Family Dog's benefit was originally advertised for Winterland (see the Berkeley Barb ad above), the show was moved to Fillmore West. Ralph Gleason in the Chronicle comments (above) on the unlikeliness of Bill Graham helping out the Family Dog by letting them use the Fillmore West instead of Winterland. I take this as a sign that Graham no longer considered Chet Helms a threat, and preferred to have him struggling along in the relative isolation of the Great Highway.

I believe--I have no proof--that Graham's professional fear was that a deep pocketed competitor (such as Concerts West) would engage Helms's expertise while leasing Winterland. Graham was not threatened by out-of-town operations without local knowledge, nor threatened by Helms's un-business like ways, but I think he feared an alliance. Thus a weak Helms on the edge of San Francisco served Graham's competitive interests.

The funny booking of Big Brother was because the band had not really played yet since Janis Joplin had left the group, and they were trying out their revised act (revised in the sense that it was their original configuration). Barry "Eve Of Destruction" McGuire was playing the Matrix this week. Note that Steve Miller Band appears to have dropped out of the show.

November 20, 1969 The Poppycock, Palo Alto New Riders Of The Purple Sage
According to Ralph Gleason's Chronicle column of November 19, 1969, the New Riders played the Poppycock on Thursday, November 20. It appears that the New Riders were playing multiple dates at The Poppycock. [not on TheJerrySite]

November 21, 1969 Cal Expo Building "A", Sacramento Grateful Dead/Country Weather/AB Skhy/Commander Cody/Wildwood KZAP Birthday Party
KZAP-fm was the progressive FM station in the Sacramento area. This show was probably the station's second "birthday." The Cal Expo was part of the California State Fairgrounds.

AB Skhy featured Howard Wales on organ. Wales and Garcia had already jammed publicly, at the Family Dog on August 28, 1969, but I'm not aware of a time that AB Skhy had played on a bill with the Grateful Dead.

November 22-23, 1969 Family Dog On The Great Highway, San Francisco New Riders Of The Purple Sage/Anonymous Artists Of America/Devil's Kitchen
Crack research staff found this date, advertised in the Berkeley Tribe. 

November 23, 1969 Boston Music Hall, Boston, MA: Grateful Dead/Country Joe And The Fish/Pacific Gas & Electric (two shows: likely canceled)
A handbill for this event recently surfaced. I think this booking was canceled, which I explain in another post.

November 27, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway New Riders Of The Purple Sage/Lamb/Cleveland Wrecking Company/Deacon and The Suprelles/Rafael Garrett Circus
This was part of a multi-media extravaganza including stage performers and films (whom I have not listed). This was probably an all-day community event to celebrate Thanksgiving. San Francisco has always been full of people from somewhere else, so the only family they have for Thanksgiving is their friends.

Rafael Garrett, by the way, was almost certainly a jazz musician otherwise known as Don Garrett (he regularly played The Matrix). He played bass with Archie Shepp, and bass clarinet with John Coltrane, and was a pioneer in what would now be called "World Music."

This one has been on Ross's list all along, and I never noticed it--whoops. [not on TheJerrySite]

November 28-29, 1969 Inn Of The Beginning, Cotati New Riders Of The Purple Sage
The New Riders returned to Cotati for yet another show, this time apparently for a full weekend. Its possible that the Riders played Friday (28) and that Joy Of Cooking played Saturday (29), but I will take Gleason at his word here, even though his hastily-typed Ad Lib section often had typos or casually elided certain bills. Nonetheless, although two bands was uncommon at the Inn Of The Beginning, it was a weekend. Although Joy Of Cooking became quite popular, releasing a few fine albums on Capitol. at this time they were hardly known outside of San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley (where they gigged regularly at Mandrake's, the New Orleans House and The Freight and Salvage). [not on TheJerrySite]

Rather surprisingly, the New Riders seem to have played 10 shows throughout the month of November, along with 6 Grateful Dead shows. While the rest of the Grateful Dead seems to have had a casual month on the home front, Garcia, Phil Lesh and Mickey Hart kept up a fairly busy schedule. The only truly unaccounted for weekend nights were Friday, November 14 and Saturday, November 22 (update: The New Riders played the Family Dog). While I don't see any active reason that that those dates have to have been filled, given Garcia's frantic activity level, who knows what else we might find?

9 comments:

  1. re: the 11/15/69 Lanai Theatre show, there's a GD press release for this show at dead.net

    http://www.dead.net/sites/deadbeta.rhino.com/files/images/19691115_0377.jpg

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  2. I think that all of these NRPS gigs are now at TJS. What incredible work, as always ... thank you!

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  3. Hey, welcome back!

    I had assumed I would find an extra gig or two, but I didn't realize that the New Riders had so many shows in November. Its too bad there are no tapes from this era, because they were probably a much tighter band than I would have originally thought.

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  4. Hello there,

    I just want to thank you. For YEARS I've been looking for music from the day I was born, 19 november 1969. And there's very little out there. the only thing I've ever heard is the Miles Davis session that includes "Great Expectations".

    Then today I found myself reading this article, quite by chance. I'm SO happy to learn that Garcia and the New Riders played when I was born. It may seem crazy, but that means a lot to me. so thanks very much for your research.

    On a general note, I love this blog. Very well-informed, stylish, literate, and just very enjoyable.

    Rob (born in Ireland, 19 nov 1969)

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  5. Rob, glad to be of service! It sounds like the Family Dog had a pretty fun party in your honor, even if they didn't quite know it.

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  6. Yes indeed, haybales and all! Just to be really OCD about it, I reckon they were actually playing at the very moment of my birth, since 6.30am on the 19th in Ireland is 10.30pm on the 18th in California. My own original research :-)

    Once more, I love this blog! Am reading the long fascinating discussion about Ned Lagin right now while streaming the uncut 21 sept Seastones from Dead.net.
    All the best...Rob

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  7. I need help with a handbill I have of the dead at the 70 show. There is little written about the moratorium show and I have a handout with the art of a woman on a horse. trying to find out who did the art

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  8. I love to put my two cents in on these sort of things. Can you send me a scan at corrarnold at gmail.com?

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  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

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