Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Rhythm Devils, Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium, San Rafael, CA February 13-14, 1981

In honor of JGMF's post about early Phil Lesh dates--and they are early--it seemed like a good opportunity to throw in my contribution to forgotten Dead spin-off dates.

February 13-14, 1981 Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium, San Rafael, CA The Rhythm Devils
Mickey Hart-percussion
Bill Kreutzmann-percussion
Mike Hinton-marimbas, percusssion
Airto Moreira-percussion
Flora Purim-vocals, percussion
Phil Lesh-electric bass, fretless bass, percussion
 plus various guests

Francis Ford Coppola spent many years making his great movie Apocalypse Now, released in 1979. He commissioned Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann to assemble a team of players to improvise soundtrack music to the footage, only parts of which were used in the movie. According to legend, Coppola and Jerry Garcia worked on the sound mix for the movie for an extended period of time.

in 1980, Passport Records released the album The Rhythm Devils Play River Music, an LP of music recorded for the soundtrack to Apocalypse Now. To promote the album, Mickey and Billy assembled a group that performed at the Marin Vets for two nights. I talked to someone who went, and it was apparently a very cool, laid back evening, kind of like an endless Rhythm Devils set. Phil Lesh was on stage most of the night, playing electric bass and--interestingly--fretless bass, and generally grooving along with everyone else.

In later years, as Mickey Hart became rightly recognized as an important figure in World percussion, such events occurred regularly, but this was the first one to my knowledge, and the only one with Phil Lesh onstage all night, both nights.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

September 6-7, 1969 Family Dog At The Great Highway, San Francisco Jefferson Airplane/Grateful Dead

I recently wrote an extensive review of the Grateful Dead's touring itinerary for July and August 1969. However, the first weekend in September of 1969 offers up some peculiar mysteries about the Grateful Dead's performing schedule that have not, to my knowledge, ever been addressed.

September 6, 1969 Family Dog At The Great Highway Grateful Dead/Jefferson Airplane
The September 6, 1969 Grateful Dead show is known from a circulating tape. There is also a circulating Jefferson Airplane tape with the same date, where Garcia and Hart join in for some jamming. This has led everyone to assert that The Grateful Dead and The Jefferson Airplane played The Family Dog at The Great Highway on Saturday, September 6, 1969. I am inclined towards that view, too, but it still begs a number of questions that have never been addressed.
  • Most bookings at The Family Dog, and most ballrooms, were for Friday and Saturday--did the Dead also play Friday night (Sep 5)?
  • If the Dead were playing on Sep 6 (and possibly Sep 5), why wasn't it mentioned on the August 29-30 poster, when the Dead headlined Friday and Saturday nights?
  • The Jefferson Airplane did not have an extensive professional relationship with Chet Helms--they only played the Avalon one weekend in 1966--so why would they play a stealth show at The Family Dog?
  • There is no known flyer of any type for the Family Dog this weekend. Given the drawing power of the Airplane and The Dead (the Airplane were much bigger at the time), they could easily sell the place out by word of mouth, but why?
I know of no eyewitness accounts, reviews or even second hand accounts of this show, so at this point all of my questions remain unanswered. What follows is some speculation about these shows--I don't know any more than anyone else, which is close to nothing, but most Bay Area Dead shows from the 60s have a wide variety of historical ephemera, like posters, reviews or eyewitness accounts, and this show has none.

There are a couple of things to consider about the Bay Area rock scene at the time, and particularly about Chet Helms. There was a lot of hostility in 1969 San Francisco between those who still thought music should be free, and those who were benefiting from the big business that rock music had become. Bill Graham was the symbol of commercialized rock music, and Chet Helms was the flag bearer for music as a benefit for the community. Helms Avalon Ballroom, fondly remembered though it was, had been a mess as a business and Helms had given it up at the end of 1968.

Helms had opened a new Family Dog operation out on Ocean Beach, called the Family Dog At The Great Highway (the address was 660 Great Highway). It was smaller than Fillmore West, and quite a few miles from downtown. It only arguably even competed with the Fillmore West, which was probably why Bill Graham was one of the people loaning Helms money to get the venture started. The venture had opened with great fanfare on June 13, 1969, with a concert featuring the Jefferson Airplane. The San Francisco rock scene was actually a lot like High School, and the Airplane and Helms were not particularly close. The Airplane only played the Avalon a single weekend (July 22-23, 1966), and as the Airplane were always associated with Bill Graham, they had no cause to play for Helms.

The fact that the Airplane played the opening of the Family Dog At The Great Highway was a clear implication that Bill Graham had indirectly blessed Chet Helms venue. My own belief is that Graham feared a major promoter from Los Angeles or New York backing Helms at Winterland, a much larger hall. Helms's savvy combined with competent financial controls would have made a formidable competitor for Fillmore West. However, Chet Helms in a modest sized venue some miles from downtown and freeway access offered little threat to Fillmore West or larger shows promoted by Graham in the East Bay. If Helms succeeded, Graham would have simply called in his loans. In any case, The Family Dog at The Great Highway offered some opportunities for bands on their way up, and if they were good then Graham could always book them at the Fillmore, just as he had done with the Avalon back in the early days.

By August of 1969, however, Helms financial situation at the FDGH was precarious, and he had had a significant falling out with Bill Graham. The Spring and Summer of 1969 was the time of great outdoor rock festivals, and the big San Francisco Rock Festival was supposed to be a giant free concert held in Golden Gate Park on August 22 and 23. The event collapsed under its own weight, with acrimony on all sides. Bill Graham was seen as the bad guy, insisting that a certain amount of money was required for the show to be safe and successful. At the same time, an effort by Light Show operators (led by Jerry Abrams) to unionize had led to more bad blood, including a picket line at a Grateful Dead show at the Family Dog on Friday August 1. The financial disaster that followed the thinly attended weekend, combined with Bill Graham withdrawing financial backing, nearly undermined the Family Dog operation entirely.

It was in this financial context that the Grateful Dead headlined another weekend at the Family Dog at the end of August. On Thursday, August 28 there appears to have been some sort of jam with Jerry Garcia and Howard Wales (the Bear cassette is labeled "Hartbeats") and the Dead headlined Friday and Saturday night (August 29 and 30) over The New Riders of The Purple Sage, Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen and The Rubber Duck Company, all making their San Francisco concert debuts (although all three had done a few low-key club gigs).

Thus it begs a series of questions: assuming the dating on the Dead and Airplane tapes to be correct (and there's no reason to doubt them), what were the Dead and Airplane doing playing an unadvertised show on a Saturday night, the weekend after the Dead had played the same venue? I know of no other scheduled show at the Family Dog that weekend, so the performance is plausible within both bands' timelines, but its still a strange event. With that in mind, here are my proposed answers.

  • There is no known flyer of any type for the Family Dog this weekend. Given the drawing power of the Airplane and The Dead (the Airplane were much bigger at the time), they could easily sell the place out by word of mouth, but why?
Most major concert promoters had a contractual requirement that bands could not play advertised shows within a certain amount of time and distance of a booked performance, like 60 days and 50 miles. It was understood that musicians would play on the fly, but the shows couldn't be advertised. The Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead were booked by Bill Graham for two nights at Winterland on October 24 and 25, and neither band would have wanted to wreck their relationship with their best paying customer.

Since the show could not be advertised, it cut down on Chet Helms overhead--no poster artist, no radio ads--thus making it a more profitable show.
  • The Jefferson Airplane did not have an extensive professional relationship with Chet Helms--they only played the Avalon one weekend in 1966--so why would they play a stealth show at The Family Dog?
Helms Family Dog may not have been the direct beneficiary. The sources of funding for Helms post-Avalon ventures have always been obscure, but it all seems to have been borrowed money. The scenario that makes the most sense here is that Helms owed someone (or several someones) money that were friends of the Dead and the Airplane, and the concert helped settle his debts. The Airplane weren't close to Helms, but they had plenty of mutual friends.
  • Most bookings at The Family Dog, and most ballrooms, were for Friday and Saturday--did the Dead also play Friday night (Sep 5)?
  • If the Dead were playing on Sep 6 (and possibly Sep 5), why wasn't it mentioned on the August 29-30 poster, when the Dead headlined Friday and Saturday nights?
If my thesis is correct, its clear why the Family Dog poster from the week before couldn't mention the secret Dead/Airplane show. But what benefit would there have been for Helms to keep his venue dark on a Friday night? I don't think the Dead and the Airplane played, but I wouldn't be surprised if there was some sort of jam session type event. Since the most determined jammers in San Francisco were Jerry Garcia, Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady, it seems like a good bet. If we ever find out anything about this weekend, I wouldn't be surprised to find some sort of event on Friday night as well, if a considerably less dramatic one.

September 7, 1969 Family Dog At The Great Highway
This show too is only known from a tape. Its about an hour of rock and roll oldies, from an ad-hoc group that appears to include Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady, Joey Covington along with Garcia and another drummer. I see two likely possibilities:
  • the tape is really from the end of the night before (Sep 6), but was dated September 7 since it was after hours
  • the bands left their equipment there and had a Sunday afternoon jam, a not uncommon event earlier in the Fillmore era. It makes sense that the players who were regular at The Matrix were the ones who showed up.
If you accept the second hypothesis (and that is the one I am most inclined to), I can't imagine a show just an hour long. Given the players present, I would have to expect a Hot Tuna set (although they did not use that name yet) and some sort of Garcia/Hartbeats type of configuration too (presumably with Garcia, Jack Casady and some drummers). The extant tape has a sort of "encore" type feel to it, and despite its raggedness would make sense as punctuation to a couple of hours of blues and jamming.

Of course this is all speculation on my part. However, I would point out that no one has anything else to offer that I am aware of. If anyone has any new ideas, distant memories or hard evidence they are eagerly invited to Comment.

Grateful Dead/Jerry Garcia Tour Itinerary July-August 1969

I have been constructing tour itenararies 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, from July and August 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. 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 or 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, and 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.

July 3, 1969 Reeds Ranch, Colorado Springs, CO Grateful Dead/Alice Cooper/Zephyr/others
Many fledlging promoters tried to put on rock festivals in the Summer of 1969, the most famous of which was of course Woodstock. But there were numerous other such events around the country. Colorado Springs is in a flatter, less freewheeling part of Colorado than the Denver/Boulder area. The Grateful Dead, always intrepid, headlined over a variety of local bands and one other California band, a strangely unpopular Los Angeles group that had been signed by Frank Zappa.

Amongst the many regional acts on the bill were Zephyr, the best and best known band on the Boulder scene,  featuring the great Tommy Bolin on guitar.

July 4-5, 1969 Kinetic Playground, Chicago, IL Grateful Dead/Buddy Miles Express
The Kinetic Playground, at 4812 N. Clark St, had originally been called the Electric Theater, but had to change its name due to a lawsuit from a similarly named New York City establishment (The Electric Circus).

July 7, 1969 Piedmont Park, Atlanta, GA Grateful Dead/Chicago Transit Authority/Delaney & Bonnie & Friends/Allman Brothers Band
The Grateful Dead played a Monday afternoon free concert at an outdoor park in Atlanta. I have to assume that this was primarily for publicity purposes, since the Dead had no real following in the Southeast. This event was put on by the promoters of the Atlanta Pop Festival (h/t sawgrassbooks for the link). One thing I find curious is not that the Dead played for free, as that was part of their "business model," to the extent they had one; the odd part is that they had to fly to Atlanta to do it, at a time when money was tight. I see a few possibilities:
  • Warner Bros helped pay for the band to go to Atlanta, or
  • The promoters of the Atlanta Pop Festival (held July 3-4-5) footed the bill, or
  • The Dead played Atlanta or somewhere in the Southeast on Sunday July 6
The recently formed Allman Brothers Band had regularly played free concerts in Piedmont Park. The Dead arrived somewhat late and did not begin performing until 8:00 pm.  As a result, although the Dead and the Allman Brothers met at this concert, the Dead did not hear the Allman Brothers Band play, and they would not hear them live until the famous February 11, 1970 show at Fillmore East. However, eyewitnesses report that an after show jam (that started near midnight) featured Jerry Garcia and Duane Allman among many other players.

July 8, 1969 The Rock Pile, Toronto, ON Grateful Dead
The Rock Pile was Toronto's version of The Fillmore, although I don't think it was a large venue. I do not know if Mel Slirrup hosted the show.

July 10, 1969 Evergreen Estate, Norwalk, CT The Grateful  Dead
This show is listed on Dead.net as a Hells Angels Party. I have no idea if the event actually occurred, but I fervently hope it did. The Evergreen Estate (now Cranbury Park) was the grounds of a large mansion that had been taken over by the City of Norwalk in 1965. While the odds today on an outdoor concert by the Grateful Dead, sponsored by the Hells Angels, anywhere near the city of Norwalk border on zero, it might just have been possible in 1969.

July 10 would have been a Thursday, between a Tuesday show in Toronto and a weekend stand in Queens. A tape circulates with this date, but apparently it is just a pastiche of other shows. However, paradoxically I find this date so unlikely that I am actually inclined to believe it. Anyone with any further proof or even hints of this show is encouraged to put them in the Comments. [not on Deadlists]

July 11-12, 1969 New York State Pavilion, Flushing Meadows Park, Queens Grateful Dead/Joe Cocker And The Grease Band/Tribe
The Dead played two big days outdoors at the site of the 1964 World's Fair, near Shea Stadium and LaGuardia Airport. Joe Cocker and The Grease Band were on their first American tour.

July 16, 1969 Longshoreman's Hall, San Francisco Grateful Dead/Cleveland Wrecking Company/Ice
This show was a Wednesday night Hells Angels Party, also a sort of wake for an apparently deceased Angel. There was a poster, and the public was welcome, although I suspect that attending a Hells Angels wake was not for the faint. Its not surprising that I'm not aware of a review or a tape.

Cleveland Wrecking Company was a jazz-rock band who were popular on the local dance circuit. They played original music, but never recorded. Ice was a local band associated with Quicksilver Messenger Service manager Ron Polte.

The most interesting fact about this show was the report from Blair Jackson (in outtakes from his fine Garcia biography) that this show featured the debut of The New Riders Of The Purple Sage, although they were not yet known by that name. Apparently, according to the late John Dawson, their set was marred by equipment problems with Bear's sound system.

There are no Grateful Dead performances on the weekends of either July 18-19 or July 25-26. The Dead were not recording to my knowledge, but I have no accounts of their activities during this time. Dennis McNally does mention (p. 322) that the band went to Garcia's house on Sunday July 20 to watch the moon landing (only Jerry had a TV), so we know they were in town that day, but otherwise these two weeks are a mystery.

August 1, 1969 Bear's Lair, UC Berkeley Jerry Garcia, Marmaduke and Friends
This show was billed as "Jerry Garcia, Marmaduke and Friends," the name the band used before Hunter coined the name New Riders Of The Purple Sage. The group played at The Bear's Lair, a coffee shop in the basement of the Student Union building on Bancroft (Pauley Ballroom was two floors above it). This was supposedly the only show where Bob Matthews played bass with the Riders. The subject of the New Riders 1969 bass player is worthy of a post in itself, but according to Robert Hunter, both Hunter and Matthews rehearsed as bassist, but Phil Lesh played all the gigs.

More interesting to me is the booking of the date itself. A look at the poster (below) for the weekend's shows at The Family Dog At The Great Highway lists the Dead playing on August 1, 2 and 3 (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). There was a labor dispute going on in San Francisco at the time, involving light shows trying to unionize, and there were plans to picket the Family Dog. Dennis McNally describes the Friday, August 1 confrontation in some detail (p.324), with an unhappy Garcia feeling put upon but still unwilling to cross a picket line.

Eventually the dust settled, and peace of some kind was made, but Garcia had left the scene. There was a show of some kind at the Family Dog on this night, and some Dead members (apparently Bob Weir and Bill Kreutzmann) participated in some kind of jam, but Garcia was long gone and all in all it was a strange night for the San Francisco scene.

How then, does this jibe with the scheduled show at The Bear's Lair? The show was advertised, so that date is not in dispute, and John Dawson mentioned it as the Riders first "real" show, so it happened. But when? Did Garcia book another date, planning to bail on the Family Dog event no matter what?  There is something very hard to reconcile about these dates. The only way the narrative makes sense is if Garcia planned to avoid confrontation all along and simply booked another gig.

August 2-3, 1969 Family Dog At The Great Highway, San Francisco Grateful Dead/Ballet Afro-Haiti/Albert Collins
Although the Friday night light show "strike" (on August 1) was fraught with confrontation, but the dust seems to have settled somewhat by the next day, and the Light Show operators seemed to have overplayed their hands in any case. Fans enjoyed light shows, but they were paying for the music and the operators had little leverage. In any case, the Dead played the Family Dog both Saturday (Aug 2) and Sunday (Aug 3). On August 3, the Dead were joined by a a flautist, a tenor saxophonist and an electric violinist. I have suggested that Charles Lloyd was the flute player, also probably the tenor player--unless it was John Handy--and Michael White the violinist.

August ? 1969 Lion's Share, San Anselmo New Riders Of The Purple Sage 
The Lions Share was a tiny club in San Anselmo that mainly catered to local musicians (at 60 Red Hill Drive), and it had just opened. It has recently come to light that the New Riders were one of the first performers at the club, and it was one of their first performances as well. Research continues on this matter, and I will put in a link when more details get locked down. [not on TheJerrySite]


August 6-9, 1969 The Matrix, San Francisco New Riders Of The Purple Sage
A New Riders tape from the Matrix dated August 7, 1969 has circulated for many years. I recently confirmed that these were the first gigs under the name New Riders of The Purple Sage. They definitely played two nights (Wednesday Aug 6 and Thursday Aug 7), and I think they played Friday and Saturday also.

The band was billed in the SF Chronicle as The New Riders of The Purple Sage with Jerry Garcia and Mickey Hart. Although Phil Lesh actually performed with the group, he seems not to have been considered a regular member. [not on TheJerrySite]

August 13, 1969  Family Dog On The Great Highway, San Francisco New Lost City Ramblers/New Riders of The Purple Sage "Hoe Down"
This hitherto unknown show was mentioned in the Berkeley Tribe newspaper (August 22-29). [not on TheJerrySite]

update: it appears that old South Bay pal Pete Grant sat in with the New Riders on banjo for a few numbers. Not surprisingly, Garcia and Nelson were very excited to play on the same bill with the New Lost City Ramblers, and at the end of the show members of both bands played a few tunes together.

August 16, 1969 Max Yasgur's Farm, Woodstock Music and Arts Fair, Bethel, NY
The Grateful Dead played a miserable set under difficult circumstances at Woodstock. There is little to add to all that has been written about the festival, so I will only wonder how stoned must the band have been in order to need Country Joe McDonald--not exactly an advertisement for being straight himself--to come on stage during the Dead's set and warn people about the brown acid.

August 19, 1969 Family Dog At The Great Highway New Riders Of The Purple Sage
Dennis McNally listed this date without comment on his initial list of Garcia performances. My reaction for many years was that a Tuesday night Riders show between Woodstock and Seattle made no sense at all, and dismissed it. I have since re-thought my views.

The New Riders of The Purple Sage were about to embark on a brief Northwestern tour with the Dead, trying out their idea of bringing an opening act (with its attendant fee) while only bringing two extra people (John  Dawson and David Nelson). Given the problems the Riders had at Longshoreman's Hall, I would not be surprised if this was a rehearsal on the Dead's equipment, in anticipation of the Seattle show. I assume the event would have been open to the public--why not sell a few tickets?--but there wouldn't have been much publicity.

My theory, while interesting, falls into the category of "not proven." [not on TheJerrySite]
Update: Jerry Garcia was definitely at a meeting at the Dog on August 19, as it was mentioned in the Berkeley Tribe, but there's no evidence he actually played.

August 20, 1969 El Roach Tavern, Ballard, WA Grateful Dead
The Dead, The New Riders of The Purple Sage and a group called Sanpaku were scheduled to play an outdoor venue in Seattle. They got rained out, so the Dead played a scary biker bar in Seattle called El Roach. I have written about this at length.[not on Deadlists]

August 21, 1969 Aqua Theatre, Seattle, WA Grateful Dead/New Riders of The Purple Sage/Sanpaku
After the rainout, the Dead and their support acts came back and played Seattle's Aquatheatre, joined by Sanpaku flautist Gary Larkey. This was the last performance at the unique outdoor venue, and I have written about it as well.

On Friday, August 22, the Grateful Dead  were scheduled to play the Wild West Festival at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco. However, the event was canceled the week before, so I assume the Dead stayed in the Pacific Northwest.

August 23, 1969 Bullfrog 2 Festival, Pelletier Farm, St Helens, OR Grateful Dead/Taj Mahal/Portland Zoo/Sabatic Goat/River/Sand/Notary Sojac/Searchin Soul/The Weeds/New Colony/Chapter Five/Trilogy/Bill Feldman/Don Ross/Mixed Blood/Ron Bruce
The Grateful Dead headlined a rock festival in Oregon.   This festival was originally scheduled for the Columbia County Fairgrounds in St. Helens, Oregon, about 30 miles North of Portland, but a local judge voided the promoters contract.  The festival was moved to private property nearby.

The festival ran three days (August 21-22-23). I assume Taj Mahal headlined Friday night (Aug 22) and the Dead headlined Saturday. The rest of the groups were Oregon bands. An eyewitness once reported (in a letter to an Oregon newspaper) that the New Riders (and Country Joe) played the show also, and I find that plausible since we know that Nelson, Dawson and their equipment were with the band.

August 24, 1969 Paradise Valley Resort, Squamish, BC Grateful Dead
This was the Vancouver Pop Festival, at a Resort about 40 miles North of Vancouver, BC. Dozens of name acts were listed on the poster, but its unclear which bands played on the same day as the Dead. In any case, the Festival definitely happened, albeit in the jumbled messy way of 1969 rock festivals, although I know nothing of the Dead's performance, or if they truly made it to the stage.

August 28, 1969 Family Dog At The Great Highway Mickey And The Hartbeats
Chet Helms had opened his Family Dog at The Great Highway operation (at 660 Great Highway) to great fanfare in June. Helms was a clever promoter, but a poor financial manager, and despite financial support from Bill Graham (of all people), the Family Dog was in dire financial straits by August, not least because of the bizarre debacle involving light shows (see August 1).The Dead had close ties to Helms, however, and in particular the Dead's manager Lenny Hart seemed to be closely connected as well, perhaps accounting for this run of peculiar shows.

This show is only known from a cassette master, labeled by Bear with the date and the word "Hartbeats." The tape features Garcia, Lesh, Hart, Kreutzmann and Howard Wales on organ. Wales was the organist for a group called AB Skhy, who had relocated to San Francisco from Milwaukee the previous Summer. Wales was a unique player, and Garcia would begin jamming with him regularly at The Matrix in early 1970, and later play with Wales on his Hooteroll? album. I believe this is the first known performance of Garcia and Wales together.

Nothing else is known of this show--I do not know of any publicity or flyer, so I have no idea if other acts played, possibly including the Dead or New Riders. I suspect this was sort of a public jam, of the sort of thing Garcia had tried various times at The Carousel (in May and June 68) and The Matrix (in October 68 and various later times into 1971). The existence of this tape is one of the reasons I am inclined to find the August 19 New Riders date (above) plausible.

Update: there is good reason to think that this show was indeed a public jam, held in the afternoon. An unknown flautist sat in as well.

August 29-30, 1969 Family Dog At The Great Highway Grateful Dead/Commander Cody/New Riders Of The Purple Sage/Rubber Duck Company
The Grateful Dead headlined two shows at The Family Dog, and tapes survive. The New Riders of The Purple Sage were listed on the poster, the first confirmed time that name appeared on a poster in San Francisco (we do not know how or if some of the earlier shows were advertised, if at all).

Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen were recently arrived from Ann Arbor, MI. These shows would have been among their earliest gigs in the Bay Area. The Rubber Duck Company were a rock group that backed a mime. The band, whose membership probably fluctuated mostly featured Berkeley musicians. Grateful Dead organist Tom Constanten would end up joining the group the next year, when they would change their name to Touchstone (update: a Commenter says that Phoenix replaces Rubber Duck at least one night, and probably both)

September 1, 1969 New Orleans Pop Festival, Baton Rouge Speedway, Prairieville, LA
The New Orleans Pop Festival was held at a tiny racetrack outside of Baton Rouge. It was a two day Festival and the Dead appear to have played on the last day. Numerous major acts performed to a crowd of about 50,000, which apparently included 116 undercover cops looking to arrest people for drugs.

The ad (right) is from the Panama City, FL News, from August 22, 1969. Note that the band name is "Greatful Dead."





The open dates of interest in this time period are

Sunday July 6 [Atlanta or the Southeast]
Friday, July 18
Saturday, July 19
Friday, July 25
Saturday, July 26

I do not expect that all of these dates have undiscovered shows, but I'll bet some of them do. It is also possible that some very low key New Riders of The Purple Sage gigs (under various names) occurred during this time at well, most likely on weeknights.

Anybody with corrections, insights or suggestions please Comment.

Friday, January 29, 2010

August 21, 1969 Aqua Theatre, Seattle, WA (Revisited)

Earlier I wrote about the Grateful Dead's appearance at the Greenlake Aquatheatre in Seattle in August 1969. This event, originally scheduled for Wednesday, August 20, was rained out and rescheduled for Thursday, August 21. The Grateful Dead and the other acts on the bill took the night of August 20 to make a suprise appearance at a local bar, which intrepid research revealed to be a place called El Roach at 5419 Ballard Avenue.

The Aquatheatre show was interesting for any number of reasons, including the guest appearance of Sanpaku flautist Gary Larkey, the fact that it was the last performance at the Aquatheatre, and the peculiar physical setup of the Aquatheatre itself. Thanks to the intrepid photojournalism of blog reader Ron, we have been provided with some remarkable contemporary photos of the site. The site of the old Aquatheatre (5900 W. Green Lake Way N, Seattle, WA 98103) is now a public park, and Ron took some fantastic photos which he shared with me.

The Grateful Dead advertisement above is from the Seattle underground paper The Helix. It is a framed display at the site, which also includes information about a legendary Led Zeppelin show earlier that year. This poster is interesting not least because it may be the first formal publicity for the New Riders Of The Purple Sage. Their name had definitely not appeared on a poster or ad outside of San Francisco at this time, and may not have appeared in the Bay Area either (we are still working on that detail).
 
This photo by Ron shows a piece of the grandstand. The performers played on an extended sort of "pier,' separated by a small body of water, facing the grandstand.


Here is another view. I think the performers played on the pier peeling off to the left of the photo. The grandstands were considerably larger, as the venue had 5582 seats, but even now these photos give an interesting perspective on the long gone Aquatheatre. Many Deadheads have seen the band in numerous venues, but inevitably they tend to be a laundry list of municipal auditoriums, "sheds" (like Shoreline Amphitheatre) and converted movie theatres. I cannot say if the Grateful Dead ever played another venue where they backed onto a lake and had water between themselves and the audience, but if they did I don't know about it. Every Grateful Dead show was different in its own right, but this one had to have been a lot more different than most of them.

Update
For those who have been following the saga of these two days in Seattle, Ron has also provided great current photos of the site of El Roach at 5419 Ballard Avenue, where the Dead played a surprise Wednesday night gig as a result of the Aquatheatre rainout. For those photos, see the bottom of the post here.

Thanks once again to Ron for his amazing photos.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

August 20, 1969 El Roach, Ballard, WA (updated)

Earlier I had written two posts about the Grateful Dead's performance at the Aqua Theatre in Seattle, WA on August 21 , 1969. The Aqua Theatre was scheduled for August 20 and rained out, and the three acts on the bill, The Grateful Dead, The New Riders of The Purple Sage and San Paku, all performed the next night. During the August 21 show, the Dead were joined by a flute player, which most sources have generally listed as Charles Lloyd. Much as I love Charles Lloyd, I have always found his presence in Seattle in 1969 unlikely. I posited that the guest flute player might have been a member of the opening group San Paku.

Fortunately, the former road manager of San Paku saw the post and helped resolve the mystery. Apparently, San Paku reed man Gary Larkey was indeed the guest flautist with the Grateful Dead. More importantly, Larkey recalls the name of the Seattle club where the Dead made a guest appearance: Larkey recalled it as The Roach, but following Ross's insightful research in the Comments, I am assuming it was an apparently notorious establishment called El Roach, in Ballard, a suburb just Southwest of Seattle. The exact address was 5419 Ballard Avenue NW, between 24th NW and 25th NW Avenue (not precisely McNally's "15th Street," but not far off). The tavern was a regular music venue just 2.8 miles from the site of the Aqua Theatre, so it seems like a perfect fit.

Anyone from Seattle who can weigh in with more information about El Roach are eagerly welcomed in the Comments.

I am looking forward to more memories from the Grateful Dead's surprise guest appearance in Seattle, but this seemed interesting enough to post immediately.

5419 Ballard Avenue, Seattle, WA Today
Intrepid reader and photojournalist Ron was gracious enough to go the outdoor clothing outlet called Kavu that now occupies the former site of El Roach and photograph the site. He also pointed out that the town of Ballard was merged into Seattle proper in1907, so Seattle is more like a District than an actual municipality.  Here are Ron's great photos--granted, there has been some upgrading of the facility from a dive bar to a clothing store, but note the size of the place. Imagine the 1969 Grateful Dead (and the New Riders and Sanpaku) jammed onto a tiny stage in the back, blowing the house down...
 
This is a front view.


Here is a rear view. Ron observed that the rear of a building always undergoes fewer changes than the front, and this is probably pretty close to how 5419 Ballard Avenue looked in 1969.


This photo is from the inside of Kavu, and appears to be from the front of the site looking backwards. The stage was presumably against the huge windows, which I suspect were not there at the time. Any old Ballardites who recall anything (anything at all) are encouraged to weigh in on the Comments.

Update: Here is an additional photo, from the front on the opposite side



Thanks to Ron for taking these photos (on January 29, 2010). In the strangest of places if you look at it right...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

May-June 1967 Grateful Dead Itinerary Overview

I posted a list of known Grateful Dead shows from January to April 1967, both as a navigational guide and in order to make a few points. I am continuing the process with a review of known Grateful Dead shows for May and June 1967. As a point of comparison I have indicated what can be found in Deadlists, but I realize different shows are accessible on different lists (Deadbase, Dead.net, etc). Rather than focus on the status of different lists, I am trying to summarize known information and provide an opportunity for comment and speculation. Previously established gigs can be analyzed in Deadlists or elsewhere, and stand with little comment (I have linked to existing posters where possible). Any remarks I have are usually in addition to the relevant posts, which I have linked to.

The general focus of this list is on the idea that the Dead, while underground legends, were living hand to mouth and looking for gigs. At the same time, almost all gigs were still on weekends, so my analytical goal is to try and fill in gaps on Fridays and Saturdays. Any insights, knowledge or corrections are eagerly welcomed.


January-April 1967 Grateful Dead Itinerary Overview 
May-June 1967 Grateful Dead Itinerary Overview

May 1, 1967 Rendezvous Inn, San Francisco Grateful Dead
In May of 1967, The Dead, largely holidaying and rehearsing at the Russian River, had a regular Monday night gig at The Rendezvous Inn. The Rendezvous was a gay bar on Sutter Street, just above Powell, near Union Square. I don't know for certain the exact days, but McNally says they began "a brief series of Monday nights" (p.193) and the dates listed here are the first four Mondays in May. The band had a gig on May 29 in Napa, so I have assumed they played the first four Mondays in May.

There had been gay bars in San Francisco since at least the 1950s, though they kept a much lower profile than they did subsequently.[not on Deadlists]

May 5-7, 1967 Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco Grateful Dead/Paupers/Collage
The Grateful Dead were established Fillmore headliners, but their first album had been released in March. At this time, radio was quite regional, and the San Francisco bands' singles got airplay on local Am radio.   The Grateful Dead’s single “Golden Road” received local airplay on KFRC (610).  It went on to KFRC’s ‘Big 30’ chart on April 3, 1967, and peaked at #4 on May 10.

The Paupers were the hottest band in Toronto. After blowing away the Jefferson Airplane at the CafĂ© Au Go Go in March, Albert Grossman had signed them.  The Paupers lineup at this time was founder Skip Propop on drums, super bassist Denny Gerrard, lead guitarist Chuck Beal and guitarist/vocalist Adam Mitchell. The Paupers played very well at the Fillmore, only to bomb a month later at Monterey.  The band continued on for some years, with various personnel changes, but never lived up to their original promise.

Although the poster is ambiguous, the San Francisco Chronicle was very clear that there was a Sunday afternoon show.

May 8, 1967 Rendezvous Inn, San Francisco Grateful Dead

May 12, 1967 Marigold Ballroom, Fresno, CA Grateful Dead/The Road Runners
(Two shows 9:45 and 11:15)
For some reason the show has been historically noted as May 11, but in fact it was on Friday May 12, a much more logical night for an out-of-town show. I do think we have to look for a Saturday May 13 show somewhere in Central California.

May 15, 1967 Rendezvous Inn, San Francisco Grateful Dead

May 18, 1967 Awalt High School, Mountain View Grateful Dead (3:15 pm show)

Randy Groenke, a former banjo student of Jerry Garcia's, persuaded the Dead to play Awalt High School in Mountain View on a Thursday afteroon, where he was then a Senior. The listing above (with the High School name misspelled) is from Ralph Gleason's May 17 San Francisco Chronicle column. Although a friend of Randy Groenke's explained the connection to me (he too was a former student of Jerry's) I do not know the exact reason or occasion for this event. The young and wild Grateful Dead at a school full of willing and innocent teenagers was fraught with potential. [not on Deadlists]

May 20, 1967 Continental Ballroom, Santa Clara Grateful Dead/Real Thing/Autumn People
The Continental Ballroom, at 1600 Martin Avenue in Santa Clara, near San Jose, was the South Bay's principal concert venue. It did not have a single operator like Bill Graham or Chet Helms, so it is somewhat less legendary, but every great Bay Area group played there, some many times (the building is still visible from Google Satellite, although I believe it is just a warehouse now).

Since the Dead played Thursday afternoon at a High School and Saturday afternoon in the South Bay, I am looking for a Friday night gig (May 19) somewhere in or near the Bay Area.

May 22, 1967 Rendezvous Inn, San Francisco Grateful Dead

I find it surprising that the Grateful Dead had no paying gig at all this weekend, so I am looking for gigs on Friday and Saturday, May 26 and 27. We know they returned to San Francisco by Sunday afternoon (see below) so it can't have been too far away. 

May 28, 1967 Panhandle, San Francisco Grateful Dead
The Panhandle is a strip of grass between Oak and Fell Streets in San Francisco, bordered by Stanyan and Baker (and bisected by Masonic). Although it abuts the Western border of Golden Gate Park, San Franciscans are very firm about the fact that it is not Golden Gate Park proper. The Dead played their first free concert on this tiny strip on October 6, 1966, to mark the fact that LSD was now illegal in the State of California. The October 6 concert was a seminal event for too many reasons to discuss here, not all of them related to the Grateful Dead.

Since the Panhandle was a two-block walk from the Dead's headquarters at 710 Ashbury, free concerts in the Panhandle have been mythologized all out of proportion. I am largely alone in holding the belief that there were actually very few Grateful Dead concerts in the Panhandle and we know about almost all of them. This too is another topic, but I will say that most assertions for regular Grateful Dead concerts at the Panhandle are simply wishful thinking, supported only by the vaguest assertions that disintegrate under scrutiny.

With all that being said, here is a description of the Grateful Dead playing for free in the Panhandle on May 28, 1967, and I find the date quite convincing. Peter Vincent moved to San Francisco in late May 1967 and very thoughtfully (from my perspective) kept a diary.

May 29, 1967 Napa County Fairgrounds, Napa, CA Grateful Dead/Project Hope
Some Napa High School students helped book this show on a Monday night. The building appears to have been the one that is now known as Chardonnay Hall.

May 30, 1967 Winterland, San Francisco Jefferson Airplane/Big Brother and The Holding Company/Grateful Dead/Quicksilver Messenger Service/The Charlatans HALO Benefit
The Haight Ashbury Legal Organization was run out of 715 Ashbury by lawyer Brian Rohan, and mainly defended hippies busted for marijuana. This Tuesday night benefit featuring all the major San Francisco rock bands also featured a tape-delayed broadcast on KMPX-fm, which I believe is the first such event for a rock band. The Quicksilver Messenger Service and Jefferson Airplane tapes circulate.

Based on emcee Tom Donahue's comments on the broadcast when he introduces Quicksilver, I have asserted that at least one and possibly two of the groups on the poster did not show up. Leaving aside the Charlatans, either the Grateful Dead or Big Brother doesn't seem likely to me to have played. There was no contemporary review by Ralph Gleason or anyone else in the Chronicle, and I'm not aware of a Berkeley Barb review either, so this question remains unanswered.

Ralph Gleason does mention that the Grateful Dead were scheduled to leave for New York on May 31.

June 1, 1967 Tompkins Square Park, New York, NY Grateful Dead/Group Image
I have written extensively elsewhere about the Grateful Dead's first trip to New York City. They kicked off their stand in Greenwich Village with a free concert in nearby Tompkins Square Park.

June 1-11, 1967 Cafe Au Go Go, New York, NY Grateful Dead
The comment thread to the Tompkins Square post includes some interesting discussion of the Au Go Go stand. For more about the Cafe Au Go Go, see here. Incidentally, the poster for the Au Go Go stand was printed later, and the dates are inaccurate; the Dead played through Sunday June 11, although the poster says June 10. Since the poster was a commemorative item printed for sale,  and after the fact, the incorrect dates didn't matter.

June 3, 1967 [venue], SUNY Stony Brook, Stony Brook, NY Grateful Dead
The Dead had their traveling money stolen out of their hotel rooms as soon as they arrived, so after borrowing a little money from the club, they put on a sort of stealth fundraiser at SUNY Stony Brook  in Long Island. Since the event wasn't exactly University approved, it was not publicized in the campus newspaper, and I do not believe it was held in the Gym, although its possible.

June 8, 1967 Central Park Bandshell, New York, NY Grateful Dead
The Grateful Dead played another free afternoon gig in Central Park. The Cafe Au Go Go was impressed at how free concerts in the park generated fans at the club, an important lesson in San Francisco rock and roll economics. [not on Deadlists]

June 12, 1967 The Cheetah, New York, NY Grateful Dead/Group Image
At the close of their Cafe Au Go Go run,  the Dead played a Sunday night event at a discoteque on 53rd and Broadway called The Cheetah Club. The Cheetah had opened in Times Square in April of 1966, and was the first sensory-overload-pull-out-the-stops 60s disco in NYC. I cannot do it justice in a brief entry, but for a fascinating analysis see the article at Its The Streets You Crossed Not So Long Ago. 

The Group Image was a sort of collective of hippies, and they included a rock band, a light show and a production company. This event was sort of like an Acid Test, with a huge guest list, so many of the people at this event got in for free. [not on Deadlists]

June 15, 1967 Straight Theater, San Francisco Private Party
The Haight Ashbury community was trying to open their own neighborhood Dance Hall at the Straight Theater, on 1702 Haight. The remodeling was now complete, but the backers were still battling with the City of San Francisco over a Dance Hall permit. To celebrate the completion of the facility, a huge private party was held at the venue, supposedly visited by many rock luminaries in town for the Monterey Pop Festival, including Jimi Hendrix. [not on Deadlists]

The Grateful Dead were supposedly the entertainment, or among the entertainers. Anything could have happened--a few members could have jammed, the whole band could have played a brief or endless set, or anything in between. No one who was there will recall anything, of course. However, it has been somewhat definitively determined that Jimi Hendrix never jammed with Jerry Garcia or the Grateful Dead, so that delicious possibility can sadly be dismissed.

June 16, 1967 The Cheetah, Santa Monica, CA Grateful Dead
Rock Scully booked the Dead into a club in Southern California the night before Monterey. I have assumed they returned to the Cheetah Club in Santa Monica, which was affiliated with the Cheetah in New York City.  They flew to Monterey from Los Angeles, so I assume they flew to Los Angeles the morning after the Straight Theater party. [not on Deadlists]

June 17-18, 1967 athletic field, Monterey Peninsula College, Monterey, CA
The Los Angeles organizers of the Monterey Pop Festival needed the San Francisco bands to make it hip, but they also needed everyone to play for free. The Grateful Dead, among others, thought that if they were playing for free that the entire festival should be free, a view not shared by the promoters. A compromise was ultimately struck, and campgrounds and a stage were set up at the athletic field(s) at the nearby Junior College. Interestingly, this was announced in the Chronicle some weeks earlier, so it was not a spur-of-the-moment decision.

The Grateful Dead, Quicksilver and other bands apparently played on the free stage on Saturday and Sunday. Robert Christgau has a good piece about seeing Peter Townshend backing Eric Burdon on "House Of The Rising Sun" at 4:00 am, so all sorts of bands and players participated, not just the Dead. [not on Deadlists]

June 18, 1967 Horse Show Arena, Monterey County Fairgrounds, Monterey,  CA Monterey Pop Festival
The Mamas And The Papas with Scott McKenzie/The Jimi Hendrix Experience/Grateful Dead/The Who/Buffalo Springfield/The Group With No Name/Big Brother and The Holding Company/Blues Project
So much has been written about the Monterey Pop Festival that I won't belabor it here. The Dead played on Sunday, the Festival's closing night, unfortunately sandwiched between The Who and Jimi Hendrix. They played a half hour set, typical of almost every festival performer.

Big Brother and The Holding Company had played the day before, bringing down the house, and had come to regret their refusal to allow themselves to be filmed. Uber-manager Albert Grossman managed to get them on the bill again Sunday night, and they performed one song, the version of "Ball And Chain" seen in the Monterey Pop movie.

June 21, 1967 Polo Grounds, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco Summer Solstice "Do-In"
Grateful Dead/Quicksilver Messenger Service/Mad River
The Grateful Dead and their crew "liberated" some of the equipment rented for the Monterey Pop Festival and played a few free concerts. This event, styled as a "Do-In" rather than a "Be-In," took place on the Summer Solstice and featured two stages at opposite ends of the Polo Grounds. I believe the Dead shared a stage with Quicksilver and Mad River, while Big Brother, The Jefferson Airplane and The Phoenix were across the way, but I may have the combinations of bands wrong.

June 24, 1967 El Camino Park, Palo Alto, CA Palo Alto Be-In Grateful Dead/Big Brother and The Holding Company/Sons Of Champlin/Anonymous Artists Of America
I have managed to determine the exact date of the Palo Alto Be-In, and I wrote about it at some length. For the record, I attended this show (I was nine years old). 

June 28, 1967 Oakland Auditorium Arena, Oakland, CA The Young Rascals/Country Joe and The Fish/Sons of Champlin/The Sparrow/The Grass Roots 
The Grateful Dead were added to this Wednesday night Bill Quarry (Teens N Twenties) production at the last minute. Its my belief they were added to replace The Sparrow, who were probably on the verge of breaking up and had probably already moved to Los Angeles.

This was the first of what I believe to be 58 performances at this venue (including its post-remodeling name of the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center).

I am looking for some performances on the weekend of June 30-July 1.

As I learn more information, I hope to update and re-publish this post periodically. The current "open" Friday and Saturday dates where I am fishing for possible performances are
  • Saturday, May 13 1967
  • Friday, May 19, 1967
  • Friday, May 26, 1967
  • Saturday, May 27, 1967
  • Friday, June 23, 1967
  • Friday, June 30, 1967
  • Saturday, July 1, 1967

I do not think every one of these dates has a gig, but I'll bet some of them do.

Please put any insights, suggestions, corrections or speculation into the comments.

Monday, January 11, 2010

January-April 1967 Grateful Dead Itinerary Overview

I have had a number of posts about Grateful Dead shows in the Spring of 1967, and I thought I would summarize them, both as a navigational guide and in order to make a few points. What follows is a list of known or possible Grateful Dead performances from January to April 1967. Previously established gigs can be analyzed in Deadlists or elsewhere, and stand without comment (I have linked to existing posters where possible). Any remarks I have are usually in addition to the relevant posts, which I have linked to.

The general focus of this list is on the idea that the Dead, while underground legends, were living hand to mouth and looking for gigs. At the same time, almost all gigs were still on weekends, so my analytical goal is to try and fill in gaps on Fridays and Saturdays. Any insights, knowledge or corrections are eagerly welcomed.


January 1, 1967 Panhandle, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco Grateful Dead/Big Brother and The Holding Company   free concert

January 6, 1967 Freeborn Hall, UC Davis Grateful Dead/Big Mama Thornton
This was a Friday night show, probably a Winter Quarter "kickoff" dance at UC Davis. Normally I would look for a corresponding Saturday night gig, but this near to New Year's there may have been nothing much going on in the Bay Area.

January 13, 1967 Berkeley Community Theater The Mamas and The Papas/Grateful Dead/Canadian Fuzz (early show) 
January 13-14-15, 1967 Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco Grateful Dead/The Doors/Junior Wells Chicago Blues Band
January 14, 1967 Polo Grounds, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco Human Be-In
I have written about this weekend at some length.

January 20, 1967 Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica Grateful Dead
It is surprising to see a Friday night (20) gig without a corresponding Saturday gig, but I am assuming that they were in Los Angeles to work on their album and their schedule may have been different. This was also an odd event because the Dead played on the same bill with Timothy Leary, and at least some of the time probably jammed while he gave a dull speech. Given the peculiarity of this event, I don't think this falls into the normal touring pattern, so I'm not assuming a Saturday night (21) Southern California show, although its still possible.

January 27-28, 1967 Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco Grateful Dead/Quicksilver Messenger Service
January 29, 1967 Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco Grateful Dead/Big Brother and The Holding Company/Moby Grape "Mantra Rock Dance" Krishna Consciousness Comes West
The general pattern for the major San Francisco rock bands in early 1967 was that they looked for paying gigs on Fridays and Saturdays (such as Jan 27-28), including Sunday afternoon at the Fillmore, and then played benefits or fun gigs on Sunday nights.

February 5, 1967 Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco Benefit for the US Strike Committee
Jefferson Airplane/Quicksilver Messenger Service/Dino Valente/New Delhi River Band/Loading Zone/Country Joe and The Fish/Grateful Dead
This possible show was a new discovery. Ralph Gleason's February 3, 1967 Chronicle column lists the performers at the Sunday night benefit and says that the Grateful Dead will join them "if they're back recording from L.A." [not on Deadlists]

February 10, 1967 Santa Venetia Armory, San Rafael Grateful Dead/Blue House Basement/Baltimore Steam Packet
The Sopwith Camel were originally scheduled to play this Friday night Ralph and Al Pepe production at the Armory. However, the Camel ended up having East Coast obligations and the Dead took their place.

It may be that the Dead did not want to commit to gigs in case they were not finished recording, but after the speed with which they recorded the first album they were then free to look for gigs. With that in mind, I am looking around for a possible gig on Saturday night (February 11), most likely outside of San Francisco in a place like Merced or Stockton.

February 12, 1967 Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco Abe Lincoln's Birthday 
Grateful Dead/Moby Grape/Sly and The Family Stone/New Salvation Army Banned/Notes From The Underground Council For Civic Unity Benefit

I am looking for possible gigs on Friday and Saturday, February 17-18.

February 24-26, 1967 Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco Grateful Dead/Otis Rush and His Chicago Blues Band/Canned Heat Blues Band

March 3, 1967 Winterland, San Francisco The First Annual Love Circus
Grateful Dead/Moby Grape/Loading Zone/Blue Crumb Truck Factory
This controversial gig took place on a Friday night, and I am looking for a Saturday night (March 4) gig outside of San Francisco. I talk about some of the issues surrounding it here.

March 5, 1967 Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco Moby Grape/Country Joe and The Fish/Big Brother and The Holding Company/The Sparrow/The Grateful Dead
This was a benefit for the Straight Theater. The poster (by B. Kliban) is well known, but per the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dead seem to have been added at the last minute. [not on Deadlists]


March 10-12, 14-15, 1967 Whiskey A Go Go, San Francisco Grateful Dead
I have written at length about this obscure satellite of the famed West Hollywood Whisky A Go Go, and I wrote about whether or not the Dead played there. At that time I felt they likely did not play, but I have since revised my opinion and think they played the shows. I will publish all this later--for now I think we can book the Dead as having played the San Francisco Whisky on March 10-12 (Friday-Sunday) and March 14-15 (Tuesday-Wednesday).

The tiny article and the first ad (mentioning the Escovedo Brothers) are from the Monday, March 13 SF Chronicle; the last ad (mentioning the Coasters) is from the Wednesday, March 15. Although there is an inherent contradiction over which day the Dead ended, and its possible that the "Last Times Tonight" is a misprint (note the grammatical inaccuracy), and the band closed Thursday, for now I will assume the Dead closed out their Whisky gig on Wednesday March 15.

March 17-18, 1967 Winterland, San Francisco
March 19, 1967 Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco
Chuck Berry/Grateful Dead/Johnny Talbot And De Thangs

March 20, 1967 Fugazi Hall, San Francisco 'The Grateful Dead'Album Release Party
The Dead played their Warner Brothers album release party at a tiny North Beach hall on 678 Green Street on a Monday night. They only played a few numbers before they lost power. This was a known event (it appears in The Illustrated Trip ) but it wasn't known until now if the band played.

March 24-25, 1967 Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco Grateful Dead/Johnny Hammond and His Screaming Nighthawks/Robert Baker
March 26, 1967 Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco The Grateful Dead/Quicksilver Messenger Service/Johnny Hammond and His Screaming Nighthawks/Robert Baker
This well known event does not appear in Deadlists, but it appears in other chronologies, so it seems to just be an oversight. On Sunday night, Eric Burdon and The Animals showed up and played a few numbers on the Grateful Dead's equipment.

March 26, 1967 Griffith Park, Los Angeles "Love-In"
There was an outdoor Be-In at Griffith Park, and some sources place the Grateful Dead there, while others do not, and still others recall nothing whatsoever. The band would have had to fly to LA, play the gig, and fly home to the Avalon, but with SF/LA airline tickets only about $19 one-way (not a lot of money even then) its well within the realm of the possible.



March 28-April 2, 1967 The Rock Garden, San Francisco Grateful Dead/Charles Lloyd Quartet/Mystery Trend
I have found out more about this mysterious venue, which I will write about in Rock Prosopography,  but not much more about the Grateful Dead's performance. The short version is that a Prankster persuaded a successful North Beach operator to open a rock club on the Southern edge of the City, but the venue was too far from both the Haight Ashbury and the suburbs, and at the time psychedelic bands drew more of an underage crowd, so the bar was more of a hindrance than a source of revenue (hence the adage "Never Trust A Prankster').

Although the Dead went to Southern California later in the month, its still odd that they had no paying gigs on April 7-8 and April 21-22.  Its not like they were recording. What were they doing? I have to think some gigs are missing, possibly including some in Southern California on April 21-22.


April 9, 1967 Panhandle, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco Grateful Dead

Charles Perry (in his book Haight Ashbury: A History) lists the Dead as playing the Panhandle on this Sunday afternoon. [not on Deadlists]

April 9, 1967 Longshoreman's Hall, San Francisco Week Of The Angry Arts West
Grateful Dead/Quicksilver Messenger Service/Sopwith Camel/Country Joe and The Fish/Big Brother and The Holding Company
"Spring Mobilization To End The War In Vietnam/Benefit Dance"
The poster for this event is well-known, but does not include the Grateful Dead. Ralph Gleason reported that they were scheduled to perform. That's not a guarantee they did in fact perform, but its at least a likely possibility [not on Deadlists]

April 11, 1967 outside San Quentin Prison, Marin Country Joe and The Fish/Grateful Dead/others
This has been hard to pin down, but it appears that all of Country Joe and The Fish and some or all of the Dead played a free concert at San Quentin as part of a demonstration and protest against the execution of one Aaron Mitchell. [not on Deadlists]


April 12, 1967 Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco Mime Troupe Benefit
Jefferson Airplane/Grateful Dead/Quicksilver Messenger Service/Moby Grape/Andrew Staples/Loading Zone
A Wednesday night benefit to raise money for the SF Mime Troupe's legal expenses.

April 14-15-16, 1967 The Kaleidoscope, Hollywood Jefferson Airplane/Grateful Dead/Canned Heat
The Kaleidoscope was a venture by Canned Heat's managers (Skip Taylor and John Hartmann) to open a Fillmore-style venue in Los Angeles. This original weekend was supposed to be at a building on 1228 Vine Street, but a last second injunction stopped the show.

For the weekend the show was moved to the Embassy Ballroom in the Ambassador Hotel, at 3400 Wilshire, which also housed the legendary Coconut Grove Ballroom. The Kaleidoscope then had a few gigs at Ciro's (at 8433 Sunset Blvd, now The Comedy Store), and reopened in 1968 at 6230 Sunset Blvd (yet another story). [not on Deadlists, but a known date]

April 17, 1967 Banana Grove at The Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles Grateful Dead
The Banana Grove was the nickname for the Embassy Ballroom at the Ambassador Hotel. Why did the Dead play a Monday night after playing the whole weekend? I have to assume this was a Warner Bros album release party, similar to the March 20 event at Fugazi Hall in San Francisco, also on a Monday. [not on Deadlists]

April 28, 1967 Stockton Ballroom, Stockton, CA Grateful Dead
Historically there has been some doubt about this show because there were questions about the provenance of the circulating poster. While I am unqualified to comment on the history of the poster, a recently discovered quote from Jerry Garcia suggests that the Dead did indeed play Stockton on this Friday night.

Ralph Gleason has a column on Sunday, May 14 Chronicle (above) about the rising popularity of San Francisco rock bands across the nation. Garcia is definitely referring to the Saturday show in Santa Barbara (below), and the context suggests they played Stockton that weekend as well, so I am following my own premises and asserting that the band filled their Friday night with a gig in Stockton.

There is a modest amount of information about the Stockton scene, such as it was, on the Brotherhood Of Light website. Assuming that the current Stockton Ballroom is the same as the old one, the address would be 9650 Thornton Road, Stockton, CA 95209 [not on Deadlists]

April 29, 1967 Earl Warren Showgrounds, Santa Barbara County Fairgrounds The Grateful Dead/The Doors/UFO/Captain Speed
A fairly substantial Saturday gig in Santa Barbara.

April 30, 1967 The Cheetah, Santa Monica Grateful Dead/Yellow Balloon/New Generation
There were two shows at 3:00 and 8:00 pm (it was a Sunday). The Cheetah was part of a sort of chain of Cheetahs which included venues in Chicago and Manhattan. The Santa Monica Cheetah was the former Aragon Ballroom, at 1 Navy Pier on the water. [not on Deadlists, but a known date]

As I learn more information, I hope to update and re-publish this post periodically. The current "open" dates where I am fishing for possible gigs are
  • Saturday, January 7, 1967
  • Saturday, February 11, 1967
  • Friday, February 17, 1967
  • Saturday, February 18, 1967
  • Saturday, March 4, 1967
  • Friday, April 7, 1967
  • Saturday, April 8, 1967
  • Friday, April 21, 1967
  • Saturday, April 22, 1967
I do not think every one of these dates has a gig, but I'll bet some of them do. Open dates in January and early February can be presumed to have been taken up with recording-related activity, but otherwise the band had to work to survive.

In the meantime, please put any insights, thoughts or corrections into the Comments.

For a similar overview of May-June 1967 known Grateful Dead performances, see here

Sunday, January 10, 2010

October 11-12, 1975 Keystone Berkeley Jerry Garcia Band w/Nicky Hopkins--Tim Hensley, electric piano

I have had to change this post since my theory that "Tim Hensley" was Los Angeles session man "Tom Hensley" has been disproven. We are still left with the question of who Tim Hensley might be, and why he might have played with the Jerry Garcia Band for one weekend

One of the appealing things about Jerry Garcia's non-Grateful Dead endeavors in the 1970s is the flexible approach he took to performance. Although clearly Jerry was thoughtful about finding high quality musicians to perform with, he seemed comfortable and even eager to capitalize on the casualness of his gigs by having all sorts of guests and substitutions. Most Bay Area Garcia shows in the 1970s had no advance tickets, and were often added, canceled or changed with little notice. Thus a casual substitution in his band at the last minute made little difference, as there were few direct expectations. Various times I saw the Jerry Garcia Band with Phil Lesh or Bill Kreutzmann in the band (not at the same time), no doubt to cover conflicts of one kind or another. In the 1970s, at least, guest appearances seem to be equally casual, as the number of trumpet players alone seems to be surprisingly large.

Thanks to The Jerry Site and numerous accessible tapes, Deadheads can take these facts as a given and enjoy the music. However, one thing I am interested in pursuing is where exactly musicians connected with Jerry Garcia, and how they came to play with him. More high profile musicians like David Grisman have been interviewed many times about this subject, but some of the less prominent ones open up numerous questions. One that I am interested in pursuing is the October 11-12, 1975 Keystone Berkeley performance of the then-new Jerry Garcia Band. On both nights, the Garcia/Nicky Hopkins/John Kahn/Ron Tutt quartet is joined by electric piano player Tim Hensley. Hopkins even introduces him as a member of the band. Who was Tom Hensley? Where did he come from? Why was he a member of the group? Why did he drop out after one weekend's gigs? (note--I am aware that "Mike Godman" is listed as playing guitar with the JGB on October 11 but not October 12, and I address that in the appendix below).

Chronology
In a different post, I have taken the stance that the first shows billed as "Jerry Garcia Band" were actually Keith and Donna Band shows with Jerry sitting in. My theory was that John Kahn was busy, and Garcia just wanted to play, so he sat in with Keith and Donna a few times until his band was available. With that in mind the first Garcia/Hopkins shows were
  • September 18, 1975 Sophie's, Palo Alto (later Keystone Palo Alto)
  • September 19, 1975 Crabshaw Corner, Sacramento
  • September 20, 1975 River City, Fairfax
  • September 21, 1975 River City, Fairfax
  • October 8, 1975 Del Mar Theater, Santa Cruz (early and late show)
  • October 10, 1975 Flint Center, De Anza College, Cupertino
  • October 11, 1975 Keystone Berkeley
  • October 12, 1975 Keystone Berkeley
  • October 17, 1975 Concord Pavilion, Concord (w/Kingfish, Keith & Donna)
On a circulating October 11, 1975 tape, Nicky Hopkins introduces Tim Hensley and says its his "first gig with the band." Given that introduction, and since Hensley played the next night, its hard not to draw the conclusion that Hensley was considered a band member and not just a guest, if only for the weekend. A friend of mine attended the Flint Center show, and the band was definitely a quartet, and I myself attended the Concord Pavilion show, so Hensley's tenure lasted exactly that weekend.

The question for me is not why Tim Hensley didn't continue with the band, as I think (in my own nostalgically prejudiced mind) that he wasn't needed, but why he even played one weekend with the Jerry Garcia Band.

The Jerry Garcia Band, 1975

Its never been adequately explained why Jerry Garcia decided to stop playing with Merl Saunders (their last gig was July 6, 1975), but apparently Garcia felt that it was time to move on. One has to presume that he started quietly sniffing around for other keyboard players. One thing that it can be hard to remember from this vantage point is that Jerry Garcia spin-off bands had peculiar economics. While the Grateful Dead were on touring "hiatus" at the time, they had a new album coming out (Blues For Allah), and Garcia had and would be spending substantial time editing their forthcoming movie as well. Since the Dead's return to performing in the Spring (March 23, 1975) and Summer (June 17 and August 13, 1975) it was plain that despite his penchant for performing, Garcia's professional (as opposed to musical) commitment to his own endeavors would likely be constricted. There was good money to be made touring with Jerry Garcia, but that could be interrupted by Grateful Dead commitments at any time.

Both Ron Tutt and John Kahn were established session musicians, with Kahn more on the production side, so Garcia was not their exclusive source of income. Over time, that may have changed for Kahn, but in the mid-1970s Kahn was part of a busy San Francisco studio scene, and also working with girlfriend Maria Muldaur as well. Tutt, of course, like all great drummers, had more work than he could possibly handle in one lifetime. Garcia must have seen the advantages to musical partnerships with a keyboard player who didn't exclusively rely on him for income.

Nicky Hopkins
The Nicky Hopkins story is worthy of a book, not just a blog post, but I can at least illustrate a few highlights. A classically trained pianist who discovered rock and roll as a teenager, the perpetually sickly Hopkins had to drop out of touring in the early British rock and roll scene. The ironic result was that he became the "first call" session piano player in London, and in the latter 60s and early 70s played with The Beatles ("Revolution," the single), The Rolling Stones (the Beggars Banquet album), The Kinks ("Sunny Afternoon"), The Who (Who's Next), John Lennon ("Jealous Guy") and numerous others. Ray Davies even wrote a song about him ("Session Man"). 

When Hopkins felt able to tour in March 1969, and went out with the now-legendary Jeff Beck Group (with Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood), it seems all the more remarkable because he had turned down Jimmy Page's offer to join the fledgling Led Zeppelin the previous Fall. Hopkins ended up in San Francisco, where he joined Quicksilver Messenger Service for a year, played Woodstock with the Jefferson Airplane, and toured America with the Rolling Stones in 1969 and '72. His status rose in the 1970s, amazingly enough, and he continued as a top-of-the-line player for rock's royalty. For whatever reasons, he seems to have returned to the Bay Area in 1975, and its not surprising that Garcia would be interested in playing with him. Hopkins's health precluded permanent membership in any group, so a gig with the part-time Garcia Band seemed perfect.

Why Tim Hensley?-Speculation
Since I have no idea who Tim Hensley was, its hard to say what is introduction to Garcia might have been. The big question is why Hensley sat in with the Jerry Garcia Band at all. I have always found the Garcia/Hopkins/Kahn/Tutt ensemble to be a band of musical equals who left a lot of space for exploration, and to my ears Hopkins was the only one of Garcia's keyboard partners (except perhaps Howard Wales) who was his musical equal. I recognize that Hopkins health and his apparently excessive drinking (which was obvious from the audience) caused a variety of practical problems. I also heard, sometime after he departed, that the mundane fact of an Englishman without a driver's license in California was a problem as well, so I realize that Hopkins was not likely to last as a Garcia partner. But given the quality of his playing, why did Garcia even bother to allow a second keyboard player into the mix?

All I can do is speculate. Here are a variety of propositions, not at all necessarily exclusive. The first question to consider needs to be Why might the Jerry Garcia Band have added Tim Hensley as a second keyboard player, after playing seven shows without him?
  • Garcia was looking for a twin keyboard sound, like The Band or Procol Harum: This isn't far-fetched; the Garcia Band (1981) and the Grateful Dead (1990-91) had double keyboard lineups
  • Nicky Hopkins had a potential commitment, and they wanted to have a substitute in place: Hopkins was the ultimate "first-call" session man, and with a big National tour beginning October 22, Garcia would have needed to have a Plan B if Hopkin expected a call from the likes of The Rolling Stones or George Harrison.
  • There was fear about Nicky Hopkins health. Hopkins was drinking way too much, and he had always had a myriad of other health problems. There may have been fear about an urgent operation or other health demand that would have stood in the way of a National tour
  • Tim Hensley was owed a gig as sort of a payday. The August/September Garcia Band schedule is odd, with shows at Keystone Berkeley being billed as Jerry Garcia Band, only to have Jerry playing with Keith & Donna. Hopkins may have arrived later than expected, and Hensley may have been lined up (through Ronnie Tutt) as a reserve. Letting him sit in for two gigs paid him a little money, which may have justified some other inconvenience imposed on him.
The second question than becomes Why did Tim Hensley play with the band for a weekend, and then disappear from the Garcia Band orbit?
  • Some expected or feared event did not transpire: if Hopkins had a prior commitment to a Beatle, or a pending operation, it did not happen, and the contingency was no longer necessary
  • Tim Hensley had a prior commitment: We don't know who Tim Hensley was, so its impossible to say what his other obligations might have been
  • Tim Hensley didn't like the Dead scene: The Dead scene could come off very unattractively to an outsider. Hopkins was drinking heavily, by his own admission, and Jerry Garcia and John Kahn were not exactly hymns to healthy living.
  • Garcia didn't like the sound: Jerry was ultimately about music, and Hensley may not have worked out the way he expected. In particular, Garcia may have had an idea for a double keyboard sound, with Hensley playing an organ-like electric piano, which is how he sounds on the tapes. The synergy of the wide-open spaces between Garcia and Hopkins may have been so promising, however, that Garcia may have gone back on his original idea and stuck with the quartet.
In fact, every single proposition here on both sides of the coin may have some truth to it. Nonetheless it remains odd that a Garcia Band lineup with a world-class keyboard player invited another player to sit in for two days.  I quite liked the double keyboard sound on the October 11 and 12, 1975 tapes, but then I liked the quartet sound even better, so its hard to say what was the motive. I look forward to further insights.

Appendix: Mike Godman on guitar, October 11, 1975
According to The Jerry Site, the October 11, 1975 Keystone show features "Tim Hensley on keyboards and Mike Godman on guitar," though October 12 features just Hensley. Hensley is audibly announced by Nicky Hopkins.
 
Contrastingly, I can't hear a second guitar on any of the October 11 tape, Mike Godman does not appear to be announced, and I haven't a clue to who Mike Godman might be. This points to some lesser, if still interesting, facets of Grateful Dead spin-off groups in the 1970s:
  • It was common if you saw Garcia or Weir with his own band in a Bay Area place like the Keystone for some band friend to sit in for a few songs on some supporting instrument like rhythm guitar, trumpet, harmonica or congas. Sometime you might recognize a Matt Kelly or something, and sometimes you might hear about the name of a guy sitting in, but often it was just a complete mystery. I assume Mike Godman was just a band friend who played semi-audible rhythm guitar for a few songs, a not-unheard of event in that decade
  • It is striking that there is enough a manuscript tradition in Jerry Garcia history that however the name of Mike Godman came to be known--assuming it even to be accurate--it has continued to be passed down for decades.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

March 20, 1967 Club Fugazi, 678 Green Street, San Francisco, CA Grateful Dead (album release)


It has been established for some time that Warner Brothers Records had an album release party for the Grateful Dead's first album at a North Beach venue called Fugazi Hall, at 678 Green Street. Up until this time, I had been unable to uncover any other information about it. However, Ralph Gleason of the San Francisco Chronicle attended the Monday night party, and wrote about it in his March 22, 1967 column
In Antonioni's Blow-Up there's a wonderful moment in a rock club scene when guitarist Jeff Beck first belts the amplifier and then wrecks his guitar at the frustration at the problems of electronics.
Monday night's part [sic] for the Grateful Dead was aborted when the power failed and the set was chopped short. So everything you see in the movies isn't fantasy.
Whatever the cultural dynamics of the 1967 Grateful Dead playing in a tiny hall for a weird mixture of record company promotional staff and a few lucky hippies might have been, it seems to have been cut short.

Club Fugazi
Club Fugazi is a theater in a building that was called Fugazi Hall. It was originally an Italian social club. Its construction was financed by John Fugazi, one of the founders of the Transamerica Corporation insurance company. In the 1950s and early 60s, Club Fugazi was a common venue for readings by Beat Poets, and it was even mentioned in Allen Ginsberg's poem "Howl."

For the last few decades, Club Fugazi has been the home of a long-running San Francisco stage show called Beach Blanket Babylon. This show is impossible to explain to non-residents, so I will skip it. Suffice to say, the section of the street in front of the theater has formally been named Beach Blanket Babylon Boulevard, so the address is now technically 678 Beach Blanket Babylon Boulevard.