One night in Winterland in 1977--sorry, even I don't recall when--I was talking to some guy about the Jerry Garcia Band. I mentioned how much I liked seeing Garcia with Nicky Hopkins, even though at times Hopkins seemed a bit out of it. He told me about seeing Garcia and Hopkins in San Diego at a theater in San Diego which he called "Paloma Blanca." He said that after a few numbers, Hopkins just collapsed, seeming to burst into tears. Garcia went over and talked to Nicky, and then after a while Jerry came to the microphone and told everyone that the show was canceled and they could get their money back.
Over the years, as Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia scholarship has improved, little pieces of the puzzle started to fall into place. The Jerry Site lists Jerry Garcia Band shows on December 27-28, 1975 at La Paloma Theater in Encinitas (at 471 1st Street), a few miles North of San Diego. La Paloma Theater in Encinitas is close enough to "Paloma Blanca" that I reasonably assumed it was the event in question, but I have waited in vain for any more information.
I do notice that there were no tapes, set lists or reviews for either night in 1975 at La Paloma, however. Maybe my acquaintance' story was true, and there are no set lists or tapes because the shows weren't played, beyond a few numbers the first night. Garcia only played one more show with Hopkins, on New Year's Eve, and perhaps Hopkins's breakdown was the last straw. Garcia epitomizes the sort of player who will go on stage with a myriad of personal, financial or health problems and still focus on his playing, so as a musician Jerry can't have been willing to keep working with someone who couldn't get through a show.
The Garcia Band returned to La Paloma Theater in Encinitas just two months later, on February 21 and 22, 1976. The band played double shows (early and late) on two nights, and tapes confirm that the shows did indeed happen. La Paloma Theater had not been part of any regular rotation of Garcia shows. Could the return engagement in February with Keith and Donna Godchaux have been a makeup show for the abortive December shows with Hopkins? It's possible.
This exhausts my knowledge of the December 27-28, 1975 Jerry Garcia Band shows with Nicky Hopkins at the La Paloma Theater in Encinitas--a casual conversation on the floor at Winterland, some time in 1977. But I have lots of other memories, too, like a guy who told me in December 1977 that the Dead had played an unforgettable show in Binghampton the month before, and he turned out to be right, even if it took me many years to finally hear the tape, so I'm not dismissing it yet. I would be delighted to find out that Garcia and Hopkins played a few shows between Winterland (Dec 19-20, 1975) and Keystone Berkeley (Dec 31, 1975), but I need to hear from some Southern Californians whether the La Paloma Theater shows happened or not.
- Did the Jerry Garcia Band interrupt themselves and cancel a show because Nicky Hopkins couldn't play?
- How many shows were canceled? If the first show on the first night was canceled, as many as four shows could have been canceled?