Wednesday, June 16, 2010

June 21, 1970 Pauley Ballroom, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA Grateful Dead/New Riders/others

Ross unearthed a clip from the Berkeley Barb that sheds some light on a hitherto very obscure event. A tape endures of the Grateful Dead at UC Berkeley's Pauley Ballroom from June 21, 1970, but other than the vague assertion that it was an "American Indian Benefit," I knew nothing about it. The tape is quite short, about an hour, and Deadlists speculates that the show may be longer. However, given the reality of the concert, it now seems that the tape is probably complete save for a song or two. The listing for the show would be

June 21, 1970 Pauley Ballroom, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA Grateful Dead/New Riders of The Purple Sage/Osceola/Sandy Bull/The Hog Farm/Indian Puddin and Pipe/Fananang
Benefit for The Pit River Indian Legal Defense Fund

The Barb clipping has a picture of a guitar player, and the caption suggests that it is Jerry Garcia. Although the photo is grainy, it doesn't look like Jerry to me. Any ideas on who it might be? Harvey Mandel, maybe? The photo caption says
JERRY GARCIA and The Grateful Dead will join half a dozen other bands and performing groups in a benefit this Sunday (June 21) at 8:30 pm for the Legal Defense Fund of the Pit River Indians who are fighting to regain their lands in the Shasta area and have been arrested trying to reclaim camp grounds now being trespassed upon by P, G & E. The contribute-what-you-can benefit sponsored by The Hog Farm and Native American Studies will be held at UC Berkeley's Pauley Ballroom. Groups lined up each day (and more are coming in each day) include The Dead, the New Riders of The Purple Sage, Osceola, The Hog Farm, Sandy Bull, Indian Pudding And Pipe and Fananang.
An intriguing remark on the Review thread for the audience tape on the Archive says
I'm trying to find out, if this show was opened by Sandy Bull, and The New Riders of the Purple Sage. someone was handing out lsd and doobies at the door. Wavy Gravy was the m.c. If it was, I was there, and sat and rapped with Jerry, outside, on the veranda. Please, help me here, as my memory is a little jaded, and dates are vague to me! Doctor R.O'C.
Doctor R.O'C surely attended this show, and its not surprising that Wavy Gravy was the MC, if "The Hog Farm" were listed as "performers." Wavy was probably the connection to the Grateful Dead, also. At this time, I don't think Wavy and the Dead were particularly connected, and this may have been one of their first of many collaborations. I'm sure that Hugh Romney (Wavy) and the band had met, but Garcia had said in the past that most of the benefits they did were because they met someone with whom they got along, rather than a devotion to specific causes. 

Pauley Ballroom, UC Berkeley

This photo from March 12, 2009 shows the ASUC Building at the back of Lower Sproul Plaza. Pauley Ballroom fills the rear (nearest to the camera) half of the second floor, with the 30-foot windows. The Bear's Lair coffee shop is in the basement. The ASUC Building was built in the mid-1960s, and its basic layout remains the same today as it was then. Pauley Ballroom is a 9000 square foot ballroom, used by the University of California for a variety of events (for internal pictures, see here; in a concert configuration, the shades would be drawn, and I'm not certain where the stage had been located). The university rates it as a capacity of 999, so probably a few more than that could be squeezed in.

The Grateful Dead had played Pauley Ballroom once before, on December 2, 1966, sharing the stage with Country Joe and The Fish. However, both such groups had long since outgrown this relatively modest venue. I have not tried to do an exact analysis, but other than unadvertised "stealth' shows, such as at The Matrix or Great American Music Hall, the Pauley Ballroom was not only the smallest venue they had played in some time, but the Dead never played an advertised show at a venue this small ever again. Even if we can find an exception, the band was long past such modest venues. Wavy Gravy must have given a heck of a pitch for the band to go for it.

I'm intrigued also by the phrase "contribute-what-you-can benefit." Did this mean people could get in for free if they wanted to? Wavy snuck a fastball past the University of California if that was the case. The co-sponsors of the event along with the Hog Farm was the Native American Studies department. A University organization would have been required to get access to the building, but the University would not want to sanction an almost-free concert by a Fillmore West headliner. My suspicion is that the concert was booked in advance, but the Dead were added relatively late, which would account for the tone of the caption in the ad.

The Concert
Whatever the caption may say, I'm inclined to believe Doctor R. O'C. and think that only the Grateful Dead, The New Riders of The Purple Sage and Sandy Bull performed. Its possible that Doctor R.O'C. arrived late and other acts had already played, but I don't think so. According to the caption, the benefit began at 8:30 pm, and a Sunday night Campus event had to end at 11:00 pm (I'm sure that's still true today). An opening set by Sandy Bull, followed by the New Riders and then an hour or so by the Dead would put the concert at around 2 1/2 hours.

There's an equipment issue as well. I can't even figure out how the Dead got their 1970 rig into Pauley Ballroom in the first place. However, Sandy Bull was a solo performer (albeit with multiple guitars and electronic effects) and the New Riders and the Dead would have used the same rig. Thus however difficult it was to muscle the Dead's equipment into Pauley, Sandy Bull could set up in front of it, play his set and then the Riders could step up, followed by the Dead. If there were a couple of other bands, I don't see how their equipment could have fit in, even if there was time.

For what its worth, Osceola was a familiar band at the Family Dog, although I know nothing else abut them,  and Indian Puddin and Pipe and Fanangang (usually spelled Phanangang) were from Seattle and Boston respectively, and were associated with former Moby Grape manager Matthew Katz.

12 comments:

  1. Well, I have basically nothing to add except this tiny tidbit. In an interview given by the very grouchy Garcia on, I have determined, 6/22/70 and published in Hard Road v1 n1, Garcia is asked how things have changed since 1966. Garcia responds: "Well, remember last night? Know how last night was? Were you guys at that show last night?" A: No. JG: "Over in Berkeley. Well, that was a pretty good example of how it was three or four years ago. And any weekend at the Fillmore is how it is now."

    I guess I take that to mean that it had a looser vibe and all that.

    That's all I have to say about that.

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  2. On the "when did Wavy meet the Dead" matter, the Watts Acid Test is a decent bet. Tape of the Dead playing that date exists and it includes the "Who Cares" rap identified both by Tom Wolfe and Wavy in their books as coming from that event. How much they stayed in touch after that is an open question. They were, of course, both at Woodstock. Another possible intersection is that Jerry could have crossed paths with Hugh Romney in SF in the late beat era.

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  3. Yes, Watts Acid Test, I forgot that one. So Wavy and the Dead were certainly well acquainted. I wonder if this Berkeley show was the first time the band played a Benefit that Wavy helped organize? I can't think of an earlier one.

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  4. It wouldn't surprise me if this is the first Wavy benefit the Dead played. Wavy's first book is best on his activities in this era, and its been a while since I read it. However, IIRC, he didn't really spend all that much time in the Bay Area in the mid to late 60's - the location of the vast majority of Dead benefits. Also I don't think he got that much into the concert biz until after the 69-70 festival circuit, where the Hog Farm often worked in various capacities. Fortunately, he's kept at it. I'll be seeing him next week at the Kate Wolf Festival.

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  5. I have a foggy idea that Wavy was working with a Light Show in the Santa Barbara area in the late 1960s, possibly called something like Dry Paint. I'm not sure if I'm conflating someone else's story, however.

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  6. That's very possible. He mentions doing light shows in 1966 in Something Good for a Change.

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  7. I think the Dead & Wavy Gravy were very close acquaintances by this point.
    The Hog Farm may have traveled with the Dead on part of the May '70 tour - I've seen references from audience members that the Hog Farm was part of the festivities at the 5/2 and 5/3/70 shows. 5/2: "the Hog Farm came off the day-glow buses to do their light show (on overhead projectors with colored water)." (Another witness also remembers, "the Hog Farm denizens including Ken Kesey were in attendance.") 5/3: "the Hog Farm was there providing food for everyone."

    Of course these might be mistaken memories, but this is a point needing further research!

    And the Hog Farm also went with the Medicine Ball Caravan in August '70 - presumably in June that was already in the planning stages, with the Dead still thinking of going?

    So when Wavy Gravy convinced the Dead to play this tiny Berkeley benefit in-between the 6/19 Memphis and 6/24 Port Chester shows, I'm pretty sure they had a close connection with him!

    Anyway, this adds an extra hint to Garcia's comment that the 6/21/70 show was a lot like a 1966 show - presumably due to the Prankster crowd? (And the small room...)

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  8. I went to this show and the circulating tape is most likely the complete show. The band definitely only played one set. I don't remember anything about the opening acts but remember the Dead's set clearly. Fun gig.

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  10. There's a brief mention of this show in the Chronicle, in one of John Wasserman's first columns in the "On the Town" chair:

    "There will be a benefit for the Pit River Indians at 8:30 p.m. Sunday night at Pauley Ballroom, University of California. Among those scheduled are the Grateful Dead-New Riders of the Purple Sage, Wavy Gravy (formerly Hugh Romney) and the Hog Farmers, Stewart Brand (the Whole Earth Catalog), Sandy Bull, Indian Puddin' and Pipe, Osceola, The East Bay Sharks, and Phananganang. Wavy, who was been suffering from back troubles, announced that he will tap-dance."

    Wasserman, John L. 1970. On the Town: The Who Is--Just Staggering. San Francisco Chronicle, June 17, 1970, p. 47.

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  11. In the Creem GD interview from November 1970, Phil Lesh mentioned this as one of their "righteous" benefits:
    "The things that we consider righteous are like the Pit River Indians who are having their land taken away from them."

    Sherry Smith's book "Hippies, Indians, and the Fight for Red Power" has a long account of the Pit River Indians' struggle for their land. Wavy Gravy & the Hog Farm had joined the Indians in response to a call for "back-up from friendly freaks or anyone else who wanted to help." After a number of Indians were arrested:
    "The Hog Farm returned to San Francisco and, in partnership with the Native American studies program at the University of California, organized a Summer Solstice fundraiser for the Pit River defendants. The Grateful Dead, the New Riders of the Purple Sage, Osceola, and a new band called Indian Puddin' and Pipe provided free entertainment. On "Summer Solstice evening," Wavy Gravy later remembered, "it seemed all San Francisco was there, movin' perfectly, flowin' like water." A light-show and a door prize (an actual decorated door) kept the crowd engaged and, in between musical acts, Pit River council members explained their grievances. Most of the proceeds went to the Pit River arrestees' defence." (p.168)
    So that provides a little background to Garcia's comment that the show "was a pretty good example of how it was three or four years ago."

    In the end, though, the land was not returned to the Indians.

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