That was yesterday. I am now rethinking the whole concept. Maybe the shows never took place at all, so my logical deductions about the New Riders bass player had a foundation in empty air. First, the new evidence, via Ross:
The weekly Berkeley Barb display ad for the New Orleans House (for the week of March 6-12, 1970) shows the New Riders as appearing on Friday and Saturday, as has been advertised for some time.
However, Ross also sent a clip from the Barb entertainment listings of the same week, and it shows Big Brother as appearing at the New Orleans House. Now, the display ads were often prepared some time in advance, not surprisingly, but the Scenedrome entertainment listings were much more current, often updated by phone. Its hard not to draw the conclusion that Big Brother seems to have replaced the New Riders at the Boarding House.
Whatever the story--and I'll speculate on that in a minute--Big Brother and The Grateful Dead had been good friends for many years, and David Nelson and Peter Albin were even better friends, so the substitution seems likely. During this period, Big Brother was getting back into performing without Janis Joplin, so headlining a small venue (or a large club, depending on your point of view) like The New Orleans House made business sense. Ross reminded me of another New Riders booking:
However, the new evidence from Ross and the Comment thread on the March 12, 1970 post has led me to re-think my entire view of the evolution of the New Riders in Spring 1970. In contravention of everything I wrote yesterday, I am going to suggest that
- The New Riders never played March 12 in Cotati, March 13-14 in Berkeley or March 18 in San Francisco
- Dave Torbert was not a member of the New Riders until April of 1970, begging the question of who the March 1970 was supposed to be
- Tom Constanten was fired after the January 23 show in Hawaii, not to be replaced.
- The Dead were busted down on Bourbon Street on January 31, 1970. While it was the usual setup, pot busts were never a casual matter back then.
- At the same time the Dead were getting busted on tour, Dead manager Lenny Hart was trying to move the Dead offices from Novato to the Family Dog in San Francisco, where he would become the manager of the concert venue as well as the Dead.
- In early February, however, Lenny Hart refused to show Family Dog impresario Chet Helms his account books, and Chet refused to go through with the merger. Helms kept back-of-the-envelope type accounts himself, so he might not have been bothered by a bit of sloppiness, but he had to have pretty serious suspicions to cancel on what could have been a venue-saving merger. Lenny Hart scuttled back to Novato before the Dead returned from tour after February 23.
- Jerry Garcia and Mountain Girl were on the verge of losing their house and were desperate for cash to buy the house they lived in (it was for sale). Garcia was owed a check from MGM for working on the Zabriskie Point soundtrack, and Lenny appeared to have absconded with it. Garcia and MG had to move, and this precipitated a crisis. Ramrod ultimately told the band "it's him or me," and Garcia told Lenny "we know we can't do without him."
- When Lenny was pushed aside, investigation showed that he had stolen at least $155,000 from the band, effectively bankrupting them.
- The Dead installed a new management troika, with John McIntire handling the record company, Sam Cutler handling the road and Rock Scully handling promotion.
- Between January 30 (New Orleans) and March 8 (Phoenix), the Grateful Dead played 22 nights in concert, in an insane schedule (New Orleans>St. Louis>SF>NYC>Texas>SF>Santa Monica>Phoenix).
- With non-stop madness swirling around the Grateful Dead throughout February and March, somehow the band found the light to rehearse and record Workingman's Dead at Wally Heider Studios in San Francisco. Deeply in debt, the band focused on rehearsing and recording a simple album of songs that could be made cheaply. They succeeded and found a huge new audience as well.
My old reason for rejecting the New Riders date on March 18 was thinking that since the Dead were in Buffalo the night before, it seemed unlikely that Garcia and Hart would fly back for a benefit. Ironically, I actually think Garcia may have flown back anyway, in order to mix Workingman's Dead. However, McNally dates the Dead's discovery of Lenny Hart's perfidy to early March, and I think a big barrier to any New Riders shows was asking Mickey Hart to play. Mickey couldn't not play Dead dates, as the band needed the money too desperately, but the New Riders shows were a different proposition. A few New Riders dates had been booked, but the turmoil surrounding the Dead meant that the shows were never played.
The Dave Torbert Question
Despite my clever line of reasoning in my prior post about the March shows, I had wondered how the Riders had found time to rehearse Dave Torbert enough to get through three nights as a headliner. Looking at Garcia and the Dead's activity level and problems for February and March, I don't think it would have been possible. I think Phil Lesh was still on board as the New Riders bass player, as the band would have had no time to rehearse. The only alternative was that Robert Hunter was going to make his live debut as the Riders bassist, and since these shows were never played, it never occurred.
Whatever Garcia, Nelson and Marmaduke's plans for the New Riders in March 1970--an interesting if only hypothetical question--they were thrown over by chaos in the Dead organization. Thus Dave Torbert's hiring probably did not take place until April of 1970. That would suggest that the first Torbert show as April 17, 1970 at The Family Dog on The Great Highway, presumably after some intensive rehearsal.