Friday, February 26, 2010

NRPS Tour Itinerary October 1969 (Grateful Dead/Jerry Garcia Oct 69 Tour Itinerary Updated)

I recently wrote an extensive post detailing known information about Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia performances in September and October 1969. I have found some new information, so I thought I would create a separate post (I will update the previous post, too, in order to maintain continuity). This post only addresses New Riders of The Purple Sage performances for October 1969.
 
October 9, 1969 Inn Of The Beginning, Cotati, CA New Riders Of The Purple Sage
In the previous post I discussed the New Riders appearance at the tiny Inn Of The Beginning, at 8201 Old Redwood Highway in the college town of Cotati, on Thursday, September 18, 1969. That show was known from a surviving tape, and I confirmed it with a listing in Ralph Gleason's SF Chronicle column. I speculated that there were likely to be more New Riders shows at the Inn Of The Beginning, and I found one for Thursday, October 9 (the admittedly hard-to-read listing is from Gleason's Chronicle column of Wednesday, October 8).

From what I have been able to determine, during late 1969 The Inn Of The Beginning had relatively well-known club bands on Friday and Saturday nights (on the order of, say, Dan Hicks And The Hot Licks or The Bronze Hog). I have to assume they had lesser known local bands or solo performers on other nights. Thus it makes sense that Garcia and company could quietly book a Thursday night, probably with relatively little notice, because they weren't disrupting the club or changing another band's plans. 

October 14-16, 1969 Mandrake's, Berkeley New Riders Of The Purple Sage
I discussed the band's 3-night stand at this little Berkeley pool hall (at 1048 University) in the previous post. 



October 17, 1969  Student Union Ballroom, San Jose State College, San Jose New Riders Of The Purple Sage/The Fourth Way
In the previous post I speculated on the idea that this vague date represented a New Riders performance rather than a Grateful Dead show. This listing from Gleason's column on Friday, October 17 confirms it. I had assumed that where Gleason says "Student Union Ballroom" he is referring to the Loma Prieta Room, where the Grateful Dead would perform exactly two weeks later. However, Michael Parrish explained that the Student Union Ballroom (now called the Ron Barrett Ballroom) was a larger configuration of the room that included the Loma Prieta Room. The Student Union Ballroom had a capacity of only 728 (officially), so it means the New Riders actually played a larger venue (or a larger configuration of the venue) than the Dead would just two weeks later (Loma Prieta Room officially holds 588).

Another interesting note here is the opening act, The Fourth Way. The Fourth Way were an electric jazz rock band, originally formed to back John Handy. When Handy was unable to work with them, the band chose to continue on their own. The group were regulars at The New Orleans House in Berkeley, and ultimately released three albums on Capitol. The band consisted of New Zealander (via Boston) Mike Nock on electric piano, Ron McClure on bass, Eddie Marshall on drums and Micheal White on electric violin. In another post I had posited that White had joined the Dead for a few numbers at the Family Dog on August 3, 1969. The Fourth Way's presence at this San Jose show a few months later proves exactly nothing, but its the kind of tenuous link I find intriguing nonetheless. 


October 22, 1969 Family Dog on the Great Highway, San Francisco "Ecological Ball" with Lazarus/Garden Of Delights/Heavy Water/New Riders Of The Purple Sage and films
This show had been known from an obscure flyer, but this listing in the Wednesday, October 22 Chronicle sheds slightly more light on the event. Only the Riders and Lazarus were rock bands, as Garden Of Delights and Heavy Water were light shows. The evening sounds like what today would be called a "multi-media" event. The Riders probably played one set.

Lazarus was a popular Berkeley band, although they were not well known outside of the East Bay.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Grateful Dead/Jerry Garcia Tour Itinerary September-October 1969

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

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

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

I have linked to existing posters where available.

September 1, 1969 New Orleans Pop Festival, Baton Rouge Speedway, Prairieville, LA
1969 was the Summer of outdoor Rock Festivals, and the Grateful Dead started September by completing a long run of Festivals, including Woodstock, Oregon, British Columbia and finally Louisiana.

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

update: According to Tom Constanten, the Jefferson Airplane sat in with the Dead at this show. The existing tape cuts off in the middle of "Lovelight"--perhaps the Airplane (or some of them, at any rate) joined in after that. 


September 7, 1969 Hyde Park, London, England Crosby, Stills and Nash/Jefferson Airplane/Grateful Dead/Joni Mitchell (canceled)
As if San Francisco's Wild West Festival fiasco wasn't enough, just a few days later (August 27) Ralph Gleason announced (above) plans for the Grateful Dead to join Crosby Stills and Nash, The Jefferson Airplane and Joni Mitchell to play a free concert in London for a Granada TV Special.

I have no idea how close this event actually came to fruition. It appears to have been enough of a plan, however, that the Dead and the Airplane had an empty weekend on their tour schedule. I do know that Graham Nash had throat problems around this time, and some CSN gigs were curtailed, but I have no idea if that was a factor.

September 6, 1969 Family Dog On The Great Highway Jefferson Airplane/Grateful Dead
I speculated on this mysterious show on a previous post, supported in turn by an epic Comment thread. I managed to get all tied up in knots, but it now appears that Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead played a show at The Family Dog On The Great Highway with little or no publicity. This may have been because they were booked at Winterland later in the month, and were not allowed to advertise (per their contract with Bill Graham) or it may have simply been that since they could sell out the show they didn't bother to advertise. I now realize that both bands were available because a (perhaps hare-brained) scheme to go to London had fallen through.

The Airplane were a significantly bigger band than the Dead at this point, so they closed the show. Excellent Owsley tapes survive of both sets, and his consistently accurate dating ultimately persuaded me that this show really occurred. Jerry Garcia and Mickey Hart jammed a little with the Airplane at the end of their set.

Its possible that either Hot Tuna or The New Riders of The Purple Sage played, but I have not yet been able to determine that. One interesting thing that remains undiscussed is what the Grateful Dead may have been doing on Friday September 5, as weekends were the most likely nights for gigs, and the Dead perpetually needed money.

September 7, 1969 Family Dog On The Great Highway Jam Session?
A tape also exists of a sort of oldies jam session between Jerry Garcia, Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady, drummer Joey Covington and some others (possibly Mickey Hart or Bill Kreutzmann). The reel is dated September 7. I do not know if this was
  • a late night jam from the Saturday (Sep 6) show, dated September 7
  • a Sunday afternoon "jam" show featuring whichever band members felt like showing up
  • an indication of another show by both bands on Sunday, September 7
I am personally inclined towards the middle choice, a Sunday afternoon jam, but I have no direct evidence (there was no mention of a weekend Dog show in Ralph Gleason's Chronicle column, before or after the event). Note that the guys who like to play the most (Jerry, Jorma, Jack) are the ones playing. If this supposition is correct, I would wonder if perhaps either Hot Tuna or the New Riders played the Sunday show, even if they didn't play Saturday night.

September 11, 1969 Family Dog On The Great Highway jam
I have since changed my tune on the September 11 show. Whatever the peculiar provenance of the tape, a nice audience recording of a single tune, "Easy Wind," with an early, simple arrangement, and a guest slide guitarist, I am now inclined to believe that some or most members of the Grateful Dead were at the Family Dog on this date. However, my current line of reasoning is that Chet Helms was holding an afternoon jam for musicians, so this event would not have been advertised. It was probably more like a Mickey And The Hartbeats show, where anything went, rather than a Dead show. I would speculate that the slide guitarist was Robbie Stokes, from the Family Dog houseband, Devil's Kitchen.
The activities of The Grateful Dead and its members are mostly unknown to me from September 7 to September 25 (I know there is a one-song tape dated September 11, 1969, but I find that spurious). In particular, I am looking for Dead or New Riders shows for the weekends of September 12-13 and September 19-20. I have looked through every San Francisco Chronicle for this period, and no shows or other activities are listed save the one below (Gleason's Chronicle column, Sep 17).

September 18, 1969 Inn Of The Beginning, Cotati New Riders Of The Purple Sage
I am assuming that throughout the months of September and October 1969, there were a number of low key shows by the New Riders Of The Purple Sage, many possibly on weeknights. One show we do know about, thanks to a surviving tape, is on Thursday, September 18 at the Inn Of The Beginning in Cotati.

Iconoclastic Cotati, CA was the "college town" associated with the then newly-opened (1966) Sonoma State College. Before wineries priced Cotati out of the range of regular people, the town was a bucolic hippie dream, a relaxed agricultural area, next to a college and still an easy drive to San Francisco. The Inn Of The Beginning, a sort of coffee house with music at 8201 Old Redwood Highway, opened on September 28, 1968 with the band Bronze Hog. The Bronze Hog still live in Cotati, and still periodically played The Inn Of The Beginning until it closed a few years ago, which nicely sums up the many charms of Cotati (and I'll bet they're not unknown at the Irish Bar which replaced it).

Cotati was a friendly out-of-the-way place for the New Riders to work on their material. One unique thing about the surviving tape is that Garcia sings more on this show than all his other Riders shows put together. While he takes no lead vocals, he duets with John Dawson on the choruses of all the covers (such as "Games People Play" and "Mighty Quinn"), and he isn't just humming along, either. Its an interesting insight into the way the Riders could have sounded, and another interesting peek at Garcia's willingness to experiment on stage. Of course, its very difficult to sing and play pedal steel at the same time, which is why no one does it, and presumably why Garcia didn't continue the experiment. Still, its a reminder that many unheralded Dead or Garcia shows were full of surprises.

I believe there were other New Riders shows at the Inn Of The Beginning around this time. At one point on the club website, it said words to the effect that "the Dead used to play every Tuesday for a year." While that is self-evidently incorrect, it does imply more than one Garcia show, at least, and I wouldn't be surprised to find more NRPS shows here between August 69 and Spring 1970, if I could ever figure out how to track them down.

September 26-27, 1969 Fillmore East Country Joe and The Fish/Grateful Dead/Sha-Na-Na
The Grateful Dead then embarked on a brief Eastern tour. Looking at the Fillmore East flyer, it is notable to remember that Country Joe and The Fish were billed over the Dead because they were a much more popular band. Although the Dead were growing in popularity on the East Coast, the band was still playing the Fillmore East under the conventional set-up of early and late shows both nights, so a bill had to sell out four shows. Once Live/Dead and then Workingman's Dead were released, the Grateful Dead could headline Fillmore East on their own, but at this time they still required a co-headliner.

Although the Dead were suitably legendary, in fact Country Joe and The Fish's first two albums (Electric Music For The Mind And Body and Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin-To-Die, both on Vanguard) had sold considerably more than the first two Dead albums.

At this time, Sha-Na-Na were apparently mostly still Columbia University students, and the band was still somewhat of a lark.

September 29-October 1, 1969 Cafe Au Go Go, New York, NY Grateful Dead
The Cafe Au Go Go had been an important venue in Greenwich Village, during the transition from the folk era to the rock era. Many great bands had appeared there from 1964-69 (for a complete list of performers, see here; for the history of the venue itself, see here). The Grateful Dead had introduced themselves to Manhattan with an infamous 11-day stand there, from June 1-11, 1967.

While the Dead had long since outgrown the 400-seat Au Go Go, owner Howard Solomon had closed the club, and sold it to new operators. There seemed to be a distinct San Francisco connection to acts that played the Cafe Au Go Go when it re-opened in July 1969. The link was probably former Au Go Go booker Barry Imhoff, now working for Bill Graham's Millard Agency in San Francisco. It seems that the Dead played a few shows at Cafe Au Go Go, after the Fillmore East shows, on Monday thru Wednesday, in order to make a little money while they waited for their Boston weekend to start.

I'm not certain who the new owners of the Cafe Au Go Go were, but the club was not the right size for the growing rock market, and it closed for good at the end of October 1969.

October 2-4, 1969 Boston Tea Party, Boston, MA Grateful Dead/Bonzo Dog Band
The Boston Tea Party was Boston's version of The Fillmore. A legendary venue in its own right, it too was too small to compete in the booming rock concert market. Because of a fire at the original site (at 53 Berkeley Street), the Tea Party had moved into the site of its competitor The Ark, at 15 Landsdowne Street. Thus, the Dead had played the venue before, on April 21-23, 1969, when it was called The Ark. The Dead played Thursday thru Saturday, a common booking at Boston Tea Party.

The Bonzo Dog Band were a very English, very hard to explain, comic theatrical rock band with a uniquely skewed view of the world. Americans, as yet untutored by Monty Python (with whom the Bonzos were friends) were not ready for their strange performances and humor, as they pondered the question "Can Blue Men Sing The Whites?"

October 5, 1969 Sam Houston Coliseum, Houston, TX Jefferson Airplane/Grateful Dead/The Byrds/Poco
Sam Houston Coliseum, at 801 Bagby Street (near Downtown) was an indoor arena built in 1937. It had a capacity of 9200 and was one of Houston's main concert venues. Elvis Presley (Oct 14, 1956), The Beatles (Aug 19, 1965) and Jimi Hendrix (June 6, 1970) all played there. The venue was torn down in 1998.

This show was billed as a "Rock Jubilee" and scheduled from 1-6 pm. According to Christopher Hjort's excellent Byrds chronology (So You Want To Be A Rock 'N' Roll Star, Jawbone Books 2008), the show was delayed some hours due to equipment problems, and eventually the plug was pulled on the Airplane at 10pm. The Byrds played a shortened set, and presumably the Grateful Dead did also.

October 6, 1969 Family Dog On The Great Highway, San Francisco (doubtful)
This listing has appeared in various editions of Deadbase and elsewhere, but I don't think it happened. The source of it appears to be one of Dennis McNally's lists, where it appeared without comment. Notwithstanding that the Dead had just returned from a tour the night before, October 6 was a Monday, and Monday night shows were very rare for rock bands in the Bay Area at the time. I think this was just a mistaken listing, from somewhere (perhaps from September 6?) that got picked up.

If there was an event, it might have been the New Riders but that too is unlikely. The Grateful Dead would have arrived back from Houston on Monday morning, and rather than returning to their Novato warehouse, the crew goes to the Family Dog instead? I find it hard to fathom, but I am including it here in the remote chance that there might be a grain of truth to it.

There is no known Grateful Dead activity between October 6 and the October 24 show at Winterland. This is a surprisingly long time for a working band, particularly in October. Granted, their contract with Bill Graham may have precluded any Bay Area shows, but combined with the blank weeks in September (above), it suggests that one or some band members had something else going on--a health issue, a family obligation or a legal requirement--that might have interfered with the Dead scheduling weekend shows like they usually did. Of course, if my theory is correct, it wouldn't include any band members in the New Riders, since they played a number of gigs.

The weekend of October 10 (Friday) and October 11 (Saturday) once again shows no Grateful Dead or New Riders activity. There are lists that include Garcia shows from the Matrix, but as was pointed out in the comments, those are misdated from 1968.

 
October 9, 1969 Inn Of The Beginning, Cotati, CA New Riders Of The Purple Sage
I speculated that there were likely to be more New Riders shows at the Inn Of The Beginning, and I found one on Thursday, October 9 (the admittedly hard-to-read listing is from Gleason's Chronicle column of Wednesday, October 8).

From what I have been able to determine, during late 1969 The Inn Of The Beginning had relatively well-known club bands on Friday and Saturday nights (on the order of, say, Dan Hicks And The Hot Licks or The Bronze Hog). I have to assume they had lesser known local bands or solo performers on other nights. Thus it makes sense that Garcia and company could quietly book a Thursday night, probably with relatively little notice, because they weren't disrupting the club or changing another band's plans.

October 14-16, 1969 Mandrake's, Berkeley New Riders of The Purple Sage
Mandrake's was a pool hall in Berkeley on 1048 University Avenue, near the intersection of 10th Street and San Pablo Avenue. It had presented music since at least 1965, but when it was taken over in mid-1968 by Mary Moore, the wife of a jazz musician (Willie Moore), the club became much more serious about booking bands. Mandrake's tended to lean towards blues and rock acts, what today would be called "Roots" music. Thus the New Riders were a good fit for the club's bookings.

Mandrake's closed about 1973, and subsequently became Jerry's Stop Sign. 1048 University now appears to be a pet hospital.

October 17, 1969 unknown venue, San Jose (see below)
This date appeared on one of Dennis McNally's lists, with no explanation, and due to its appearance in Deadbase has taken on a life of its own. I doubt that any of the places it is referenced has more information than I do, which is close to none. In that respect it is similar to the phantom October 6, 1969 date at Family Dog (above).

That being said, however, I think there is a grain of truth to it. I am confident that this was not a Grateful Dead show, but I have good reason to think it was a New Riders show, although I don't know where. Due to the restrictions on advertised Grateful Dead performances prior to the Winterland show, I would find it very unlikely that the Dead would play a stealth gig in advance of their own show in San Jose two weeks later (see below).

However, since the New Riders were playing all week, and in general seemed to be "touring" the Bay Area, a Friday night show in San Jose seems very plausible indeed. I don't think there was much of a hippie club scene in San Jose, except around the campus, but Garcia still had plenty of ties to the old San Jose State crowd that had run the Off Stage. Peter Grant, who was almost a member of the New Riders, was an integral part of the San Jose folk scene. My own guess, based on little more than plausible speculation, is that the New Riders played a campus event sponsored by a San Jose State student group, as student groups got cheap and easy access to buildings.

Anyone from San Jose with any half-remembered rumors or speculation on this matter is urged to Comment (for various reasons, I don't think NRPS played the Jonah's Wail Coffee House, although it would be neat if they had).

Update: Found it.
 
October 17, 1969 Loma Prieta Room, Student Union, San Jose State College, San Jose New Riders Of The Purple Sage/The Fourth Way
 This listing from Gleason's column on Friday, October 17 confirms my hypothesis. I have assumed that where Gleason said "Student Union Ballroom" he was referring to the Loma Prieta Room, where the Grateful Dead would perform exactly two weeks later.

Another interesting note here is the opening act, The Fourth Way. The Fourth Way were an electric jazz rock band, originally formed to back John Handy. When Handy was unable to work with them, the band chose to continue on their own. The group were regulars at The New Orleans House in Berkeley, and ultimately released three albums on Capitol. The band consisted of New Zealander (via Boston) Mike Nock on electric piano, Ron McClure on bass, Eddie Marshall on drums and Micheal White on electric violin. In another post I had posited that White had joined the Dead for a few numbers at the Family Dog on August 3, 1969. The Fourth Way's presence at this San Jose show a few months later proves exactly nothing, but its the kind of tenuous link I find intriguing nonetheless.



October 22, 1969 Family Dog On The Great Highway, San Francisco New Riders Of The Purple Sage/Lazarus
At this juncture, the Family Dog put on a lot of modest shows on weeknights. There was a flyer for this event, and the clipping above is from that day's Chronicle. October 22 was a Wednesday, and it fits in with the pattern of the Riders playing around the Bay Area.

For more discussion of the New Riders in October of 1969, see here

October 24-26, 1969 Winterland Jefferson Airplane/Grateful Dead/Sons of Champlin/Doug Kershaw
Winterland, capacity 5400, was over twice the size of Fillmore West, so this was a substantial show, which is why the Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead were co-billed. The poster advertises two nights (Friday and Saturday October 24-25), and the third night (Sunday Oct 26) was added when ticket sales justified it. I'm sure this is how Bill Graham had it planned all along, but this is a relatively early instance of this strategy, which he would employ many times in subsequent decades.

Note that the New Riders of The Purple Sage did not open the show. Their seems to be an implicit assumption (whether by Graham or the band isn't clear) that the group wasn't quite read for prime time, which Winterland surely represented.

Parts of the Dead shows were recorded (in mono, I think) and broadcast later on KPFA-fm (Berkeley). This was part of a regular KPFA program (Sunday nights at 7:00 pm) that created a lot of fine 60s tapes that were among the first high quality tapes to circulate (of many bands) for years. On Saturday, October 25, Stephen Stills plugged in for a memorable "Turn On Your Lovelight." Apparently, Stills and David Crosby played some music as an acoustic duet between Dead and Airplane sets as well.

October 31, 1969 Loma Prieta Room, Student Union, San Jose State College, San Jose Grateful Dead
The poster for this show indicates that this was a campus event, since students can get tickets more cheaply than civilians. The show was not in the Gym (as is commonly assumed), but in the tiny Loma Prieta Ballroom in the Student Union, which has a capacity of only 588 (see for yourself).

I believe this show woulud not have been advertised until after the completion of the Winterland shows. However, a few flyers around the San Jose State campus and the tiny hall would have quickly sold out. Since it was some kind of student event, the economics were somewhat different than a regular rock concert.

Campus events usually have curfews and other limitations, so I would be surprised if the New Riders played at this show, although its possible.

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

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

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

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

Open Weekend Dates, September-October 1969
For the period of September and October 1969, there seems to be quite a few weekend dates without a performance by either the Grateful Dead or Jerry Garcia. I am not aware of any recording occurring at this time, although perhaps the band was mixing Live/Dead. Nonetheless, while I do not think all the dates below will feature missing shows, I suspect some of them will.
  • Friday, September 5, 1969
  • Friday, September 12, 1969
  • Saturday, September 13, 1969
  • Friday, September 19, 1969
  • Saturday, September 20, 1969
  • Friday, October 10, 1969
  • Saturday, October 11, 1969
  • Saturday, October 18, 1969
Anyone with additional information, ideas or speculation about any of the performances during these two months, please put them in the Comments. As new information arises, I will update this post.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

August 6-9, 1969 The Matrix, San Francisco New Riders Of The Purple Sage

I recently reviewed the performance chronology of Jerry Garcia and The Grateful Dead for August, 1969. While a live tape from San Francisco's Matrix nightclub has circulated for decades, dated August 7, 1969, I had not been able to confirm the date. As part of my analysis, I pointed out that I knew of no gigs for Garcia or the Dead on the weekend of August 8-9 (Friday and Saturday). However, new research has resolved both of those issues.

The (admittedly poor quality) clip above is from Ralph J. Gleason's Ad Lib section in his San Francisco Chronicle column for Wednesday, August 6. As always, he lists rock and jazz highlights around the Bay Area for the next two nights (his Friday column discussed the weekend). It says
at The Matrix tonight and tomorrow night New Riders of the Purple Sage (W. Jerry Garcia). The Matrix had its sound equipment and tapes stolen last weekend, incidentally
This listing confirms that The New Riders of The Purple Sage played The Matrix both Wednesday and Thursday nights, August 6 and 7, and in my mind locks in the accuracy of the August 7 New Riders tape.

More interestingly, I am confident that this is the first appearance of the name "New Riders Of The Purple Sage" in the press, and probably anywhere. At their previous gig, on August 1, they were billed as Marmaduke, Jerry Garcia and Friends. In the intervening time, Robert Hunter seems to have made up their new name, and they are promoted as such. More distressingly, it suggests that some tapes were stolen from the Matrix.
 
The Datebook section of the Chronicle had a daily box featuring acts under the heading "Opening Tonight." Performers would be listed if they were opening a run at a club or venue, whether they were playing one night or several. The above is from the Friday, August 8 section. Under The Matrix it lists The New Riders of The Purple Sage, with Jerry Garcia and Mickey Hart.

It is slightly contradictory that the New Riders opened on Wednesday August 6 and are listed on Friday August 8 as opening tonight. However, the Friday listings were probably typeset sometime in advance, and its possible that the Wednesday and Thursday shows mentioned by Gleason were added later, as he had a shorter time frame. Knowing, however, that neither Garcia nor the Dead had a known gig on the weekend of August 8 and 9 makes me believe that the New Riders played from Wednesday to Saturday. For the record, Gleason doesn't mention a Matrix performer in his Friday column, but its hard to draw a conclusion one way or another based on that alone.

The Matrix generally had the same performer on Friday and Saturday, so if you accept my hypothesis, than the Saturday night (Aug 9) seems as likely as the Friday. Besides breaking in the new band, Garcia was probably looking to do the Matrix a favor if they had just a bunch of sound equipment stolen. If anyone has another theory about how the weekend shows may have played out, please suggest them in the Comments, but for now I am going with the New Riders for 4 nights at The Matrix from August 6 through 9.

Some Notes
The billing on Friday says The New Riders of The Purple Sage with Jerry Garcia and Mickey Hart, but not Phil Lesh. This leads me to think that Mickey Hart considered himself a member of the band, just like Garcia, but that Phil Lesh was just a temp. Both Bob Matthews and Robert Hunter rehearsed with the group, though they didn't perform much or at all, and Dave Torbert joined in Spring 1970, so perhaps Lesh's status was understood from the beginning. Hart played drums for the Riders until late in 1970 (I believe Hart's last show was November 29, 1970 in Cleveland).

Sunny Land is probably an act called Sunnyland Special, who opened a number of rock club gigs around this time. Whether its the name of a group or singer isn't clear to me.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

March 5, 1971 Oakland Auditorium, Oakland, CA Huey Newton Birthday Celebration with The Grateful Dead

Oakland Auditorium Arena, at 10 10th Street right near Downtown, looms large in Grateful Dead history. After Winterland closed in 1978, the Auditorium became the Grateful Dead's "Home Court," and there were many great shows there. The building was remodeled and renamed the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, and much improved, but the Dead were still its most memorable tenant throughout the 1980s. In many ways the Grateful Dead can get credit for showing that the venue was a viable concert venue after all, since it was hardly used for rock music between 1967 and 1979, and the city of Oakland was the beneficiary.

One Grateful Dead show at the old Auditorium that is generally missing from most chronologies (including Deadlists) was the band's appearance at a Black Panther Benefit celebrating Huey Newton's birthday, among various other things. The Black Panther Party were a crucial cause celebre in the East Bay and throughout the Nation, and Oakland Auditorium was about a mile from the Panthers birthplace just across the Grove Shafter freeway. The story of the Black Panthers and their complicated relationship with hippies and liberals is well outside the scope of this blog, but suffice to say that the normally non-political Grateful Dead could feel comfortable supporting the Panthers since they were seen as trans-political: supporting the Panthers at the time was like opposing the Vietnam War or being pro-Ecology, a moral position that superseded any immediate political issues.

I do not know what the social connection between the Grateful Dead and The Black Panthers might have been. Nonetheless, there they are on the flyer, effectively headlining the party. The Black Panthers were always under heavy police pressure, and they responded to it by being heavily armed. For most white hippies, even the most liberal, a trip into Oakland to attend a Panther event would have been daunting indeed. Its not surprising there are no audience tapes or reviews of the event, to my knowledge. Given the number of speakers and the 4 hour running time, the Dead would not likely have played a full show.

The only thing I ever heard about this show, 10 years later and about fourth hand, was that "it was strange" (I'll bet) and "some member of the Dead didn't show up." I later realized that Mickey Hart had just left the band in New York, so a fan who showed up at the Oakland show would simply have perceived at as Mickey not being present. I realize there was apparently a Fillmore West show two days earlier, and Mickey wouldn't have played there either, but without an Internet it took a long time for that kind of information to circulate widely.

Friday, February 12, 2010

March 18, 1968 Green and Embarcadero Streets, San Francisco: Traffic with Jerry Garcia

I have been vaguely aware for some time that Traffic played a free concert in downtown San Francisco in March of 1968, and I had seen a grainy photo of Jerry Garcia playing with Traffic outdoors. I had always assumed that meant that Garcia had played with them, but I was unable to pin much down. Thanks to modern technology, however, I am able to put all the pieces together. On a new Facebook page devoted to the Grateful Dead Archives at UC Santa Cruz, one Andrew Wong has posted a series of photos of Garcia playing with Traffic. They are not my photos to post, so I have refrained from doing so, but they are well worth a click through for anyone interested in this sort of thing. What follows is the facts as I have been able to piece them together.

Traffic's First American Tour, March-April 1968
Traffic had formed in 1967, led by budding superstar Steve Winwood, already famous for his fantastic vocal, songwriting, guitar and keyboard performances in The Spencer Davis Group ("Gimme Some Lovin'" and "I'm A Man" were among the highlights). Although Winwood shone the brightest, the other group members (Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood and Dave Mason) shared a variety of songwriting and instrumental duties. In particular, Traffic was one of the first groups to grasp the breadth of studio recordings, so while they played every instrument themselves every track sounded different. Their late 1967 debut album Mr Fantasy was a huge hit in the UK and in the US underground.

Dave Mason left the band in early 1968, starting a pattern of leaving and joining the band that would continue throughout the group's existence. When Traffic set out on their first American tour in Spring 1968, they were a trio, and it was a tribute to their talents that they could play such complex music as a trio without a bass player. Winwood generally played organ or guitar and played bass with his feet on the organ, Capaldi played drums, and Wood played saxophone and flute except when he played organ or bass.

Traffic's American tour began in San Francisco with two weekends at the Fillmore and Winterland. On March 14-15-16 they headlined over HP Lovecraft, Blue Cheer, Mother Earth and Penny Nichols, and on March 21-22-23 they were second on a bill that featured Moby Grape/Traffic/Lemon Pipers/Spirit. The fact that the weekend shows (15-16 and 22-23) were at Winterland was a sign of their drawing power, a fact due exclusively to the emergence of KMPX-fm in San Francisco.

KMPX-fm
The FM radio dial was barely touched prior to the 1960s. Disc jockey Larry Miller took over the midnight-to-six am slot on KMPX-fm in San Francisco (106.9) on February 12, 1967 and played folk rock album cuts, the first known commercial station to do so. The rest of the programming was in foreign languages. A popular local DJ, Tom Donahue, took over the 8pm-midnight slot on April 7, 1967. As the foreign language contracts expired, Donahue took over the all the programming, and by August 6, 1967 KMPX-fm was the first "free-form" rock station in the world. Donahue and his staff played album cuts and demo tapes, talked like normal hippies, interviewed musicians (including Garcia and Phil Lesh in April 1967) and created modern rock radio as we know it. Ratings soared. The newest, hippest albums got played immediately, and often every track was featured. A group like Traffic got little airplay in the rest of the country, but they were huge on KMPX and thus already stars when they arrived in San Francisco to begin their first American tour.

Traffic and The Grateful Dead
The world of psychedelic rock bands was so small that there was a general assumption that they were all kindred spirits. That wasn't far wrong. According to Jim Capaldi, in anticipation of Traffic's American tour, the Grateful Dead had made contact (presumably by sending a hand-written letter--imagine that) and met Traffic at SFO, dosing them with Owsley acid immediately (with the band's enthusiastic assent). Traffic apparently spent a fair amount of time hanging out with the Dead, accounting for the long standing friendships between the various band members. Part of the psychology of the San Francisco bands was to test out visiting groups, particularly from England, to see if they were "kindred spirits" (meaning "took LSD") and to see if they were good enough to jam with the locals, like visiting gunslingers. Traffic passed with flying colors, apparently.

There has been a vague rumor over the years that Garcia jammed with Traffic at the Fillmore and Winterland, and its distinctly possible, and even likely, but I've never been able to confirm or deny it one way or another.

The KMPX Strike
Tom Donahue and his staff had made KMPX-fm tremendously successful, but the owners were sharing none of the fruits of their success. Ultimately, Donahue and the staff went on strike, supported wholeheartedly by the San Francisco bands. The strike began at midnight on Monday, March 18 at midnight (effectively Sunday night). The KMPX studios were in a large office building with many tenants at 50 Green Street, at the corner of Green and Front. Acording to legend, a flatbed truck was set up near the picket line and the San Francisco bands took turns providing entertainment to the strikers. Creedence Clearwater Revival take tremendous pride in claiming to be the first band on at Midnight.

I have assumed with good reason that Traffic's performance was at the KMPX strike, because
  • Traffic were hanging out with the Dead
  • KMPX and Tom Donahue were essential in making the band big stars in San Francisco
  • Bill Graham knew perfectly well that a free concert by Traffic would improve ticket sales the next weekend
Andrew Wong's remarkable photos more or less confirm all this. Although I am no expert on the exact configuration of the area in the 1960s, it appears to be somewhere near the Embarcadero, which was just one block from Green and Front, so I have reasonably assumed that the stage (ie the flatbed truck) was on Embarcadero and Green. San Francisco had been a big Union town for decades, so the police would not have interfered with an event supporting a a strike, even if it was a wee bit different than the usual Longshoreman' s even (update: I have since learned that the stage was nearby at Pier 10, near Washington and Embarcadero).

Photo Index
From what I can tell, Traffic appears to have played a set, and Jerry Garcia and a few others seemed to have joined in for "Dear Mr Fantasy." It looks like a cold, gray morning in San Francisco, which (speaking as someone who worked in Downtown San Francisco for 15 years) was like every other morning in San Francisco. Andrew Wong describes himself as an art student at CCSF who had the foresight to bring his camera, and he mentions the performance of "Dear Mr Fantasy." Presumably Traffic was one of a series of bands, if rumors are to be believed. Here is a list of the photos--all of them are worth a look.

anyone who can identify anyone else in the picture, or who actually attended this, is encouraged to Comment (for the Archive page photos, see here). 

Afterword
At various times, I have seen it mentioned that the Grateful Dead played the KMPX strike stage, and perhaps they did. By the same token, the fact that Garcia was present would be enough to create the story that the Dead played. At the very least, it is incontrovertible that Garcia played with Traffic--see for yourself--and that is why I find it fairly plausible that Garcia may have sat in at some point during Traffic's two weekend stand at Winterland and the Fillmore. Since the Dead were around town, probably working on Anthem Of The Sun, Jerry must have needed to get out and play at least one night.

There were also KMPX Strike Fund Benefits at the Avalon (March 20) and Winterland (April 3) and the Grateful Dead apparently played them both. Tom Donahue and the staff of KMPX-fm moved to KSAN-fm (94.5, the "Jive 95") and achieved even more legendary status.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

New Riders Of The Purple Sage, Peninsula School, 920 Peninsula Way, Menlo Park, CA April 28, 1970

 
David Nelson and Jerry Garcia play at Peninsula School in Menlo Park on April 28, 1970. 
Photo by Michael Parrish

I have written recently about the Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia's unexplored relationship to Menlo Park. In particular, New Riders of The Purple Sage songwriter John Dawson had graduated 8th grade from a progressive (and still thriving) establishment called Peninsula School, founded in 1925, and still located at 920 Peninsula Way, and as a result the New Riders played the school 3 times. Palo Alto resident Michael Parrish attended the second of these shows, on Tuesday April  28, 1970. He was kind of enough to send along a photo for my previous post, and he has been even more gracious to send some additional photos. 

In April 1970, the New Riders of The Purple Sage had existed in some form or other since May of 1969, but had been confined to occasional Bay Area club performances when the Grateful Dead were not performing. The sole exception to that had been a few shows in the Pacific Northwest in August of 1969, where the Dead seemed to have tested the concept of bringing their opening act with them. In May of 1970 the Grateful Dead set off on a famous tour of Eastern Colleges, and the New Riders would open most Dead shows for the next 18 months. 

Update: we have now determined that the show was Tuesday, May 19, 1970, thanks to a note in the Stanford Daily newspaper. I have left the language here intact, however, as save for the date it is generally correct.


Mickey Hart and David Torbert play at Peninsula School in Menlo Park on April 28, 1970. 
Photo by Michael Parrish

By the time of the National debut of the New Riders, while Dead drummer Mickey Hart remained on drums, Dead bassist Phil Lesh had been permanently replaced by Dave Torbert. Torbert had played with Nelson in the New Delhi River Band from 1966 to 68. Dead lyricist Robert Hunter and soundman Bob Matthews had rehearsed with the Riders in the meantime, but were apparently never considered as regular members.

The New Riders played the Peninsula School afternoon show on Tuesday, April 28 and then played The Matrix in San Francisco two nights later (April 30). The Dead/NRPS tour began in Alfred, New York on May 1. I am assuming that the Riders played this casual gig--apparently some sort of benefit, according to Parrish, but I can't read the sign behind them--as a sort of dress rehearsal for their upcoming tour.
 
Mickey Hart and John "Marmakuke" Dawson play at Peninsula School in Menlo Park on April 28, 1970. Photo by Michael Parrish

I used this photo in my previous post. However, viewed as a set, these three photos illustrate what a casual, fun gig the New Riders were for Jerry Garcia. Although the Grateful Dead were in dire financial straits in Spring 1970 (as they usually were), they were still legitimate rock stars. They had a huge, Owsley-designed sound system (even if Bear's travel with the band was restricted), a substantial road crew, and every show had the usual assortment of hangers-on, wannabes and would-be groupies. Yet while I am no expert on equipment, it looks to me to be a pretty casual setup. Mickey Hart seems to have no drum mikes whatsoever, and it appears there is nothing for amplification except the guitarist's amps. The Riders seem to have a "classic rock" set-up: Fender pedal steel and amps for Garcia, Fender Telecaster and Marshall for Nelson, and some sort of Fender bass for Torbert and an unidentifiable (to me--Blair J, are you out there?) bass cabinet. Presumably John Dawson's (miked) acoustic guitar and vocal mic are run through one of the speakers. Note also that we can see no other mikes for the harmonies, and Nelson and Torbert probably just stepped up to Dawson's mike like they were in a bluegrass band.

A sunny Tuesday afternoon in April, the Dead ready to leave on a National tour two days later. John Dawson agrees to a gig at his old school, and the band shows up with their rehearsal equipment. A few awed teenagers are around (one taking the photos, another visibile stage left behind Garcia), but otherwise just another nice Spring day in California, long ago. 

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Jerry Garcia, The New Riders Of The Purple Sage and Peninsula School 1961-71

(John "Marmaduke" Dawson and Mickey Hart at Peninsula School, Menlo Park, around April 28, 1970. Photo: Michael Parrish)

In my extensive post about the history of Jerry Garcia and The Grateful Dead from the point of view of Menlo Park, the town just North of Palo Alto, I mentioned that the New Riders of The Purple Sage had played Peninsula School in Menlo Park in 1969 and 1971. A Commenter informed me that the Riders had also played around May, 1970, and to prove it he sent in a remarkable photo of Mickey Hart and Marmaduke playing outdoors. Palo Alto resident Michael Parrish was a Cubberley High School student at the time, who took the opportunity to go to this Tuesday afternoon benefit show. He knows it was on a Tuesday between the April and June 1970 Grateful Dead Fillmore West shows, and so far it appears that April 28, 1970 is the most likely date.

This seemed like a perfect opportunity to explore the intersection between the Grateful Dead and Peninsula School.

Peninsula School, 925 Peninsula Way, Menlo Park, CA
Peninsula School was a K-8 school founded in 1925 and by all indications is still going strong. It was always a place for forward looking, free-thinking people, and by the 1950s it was the private school of choice for the progressive, ban-the-bomb, anti-McCarthy type parents who were common in the South Bay (if few other places). This isn't speculation on my part--my Mother was offered a teaching job at Peninsula School in the early 1950s, thus escaping Long Island and allowing her to marry my Father, leading directly to (among other things) this blog.

In the 1960s, while Peninsula parents were somewhat older than the Beatniks and proto-hippies who would make up the Grateful Dead, they weren't scared of them. Students who attended the school included John "Marmaduke" Dawson, writer Greil Marcus and me (albeit not at the same time). When the New Riders played Peninsula, Dawson alluded to the fact that Bob Weir had briefly attended the school as well (Weir apparently attended many schools briefly). Dawson would have completed 8th grade around 1961, and Weir's timing would have had to have been similar.

Given the tiny world of those of an open mind in the South Bay, its not surprising that there were many connections between the Grateful Dead and Peninsula school.

1961: Bob and Jerry
Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia were attempting to be a folk duo, and there first gig was at Peninsula School. Supposedly they received 50 dollars for a performance, a startling amount for the time.

1960s: Sara Ruppenthal Garcia
It is my understanding that Jerry's wife Sara was a music teacher at Peninsula. It was common at Peninsula for there to be a lot of part time music, art or what-have-you instructors, the wife, daughter or brother of someone connected to the school. Peninsula was the type of school where "music class" consisted of singing Woody Guthrie songs instead of "God Bless America," heady stuff indeed for the 1960s.

Since I attended Peninsula School from Nursery School through the 1st grade (approximately 1962-65), it is at least remotely possible that Sara came into my class and led the sing alongs. I have no way of confirming any of this, but its fun to think it might have happened.

June 3 1969: Jerry Garcia and John Dawson
John Dawson had written some songs, Jerry Garcia had a new pedal steel guitar and David Nelson didn't have a band. Garcia and Nelson decided to sit in with Dawson at his Wednesday night gig at a place called The Underground Hofbrau on El Camino Real in Menlo Park, starting May 7, 1969.

Outside of The Underground, the first public gig of the future New Riders--at the time unnamed--was at Peninsula School. Dead biographer Dennis McNally alludes to this event, and by triangulating I can approximate the date, but it could be any weeknight around that time. Banjoist Peter Grant had probably joined the trio, and possibly other players as well.

I had moved on to Public School by this time, but a friend of mine, then aged 11, went to the school and recalled the show (although its possible he was recalling the 1970 show). He and his friend snuck into the equipment room and someone knocked on the door. Since they weren't supposed to be there, they refused to let the person in. He plaintively said "but you have to let me in, I'm Jerry Garcia." Scared of their Moms, however, they remained silent until Jerry left and they could sneak away.

April  28, 1970 New Riders of The Purple Sage
As we can see from the photo, the New Riders played a Tuesday afternoon outdoor benefit at Peninsula School. Notwithstanding Dawson's ties to the school, the New Riders were about to join the Grateful Dead on their first National tour (starting on May 1), so they were probably looking for a gig to work out the kinks. At the time, the New Riders consisted of John Dawson on acoustic guitar and lead vocals, David Nelson on lead guitar and harmony vocals, Dave Torbert (ex New Delhi River Band, as was Nelson) on bass and harmonies, Garcia on pedal steel and Mickey Hart on drums.

May 28, 1971 New Riders Of the Purple Sage
The New Riders played another afternoon show at Peninsula, another sign of John Dawson's close ties to the school. The Grateful Dead and The New Riders had a huge show at Winterland that night, but they had squeezed an afternoon show in anyway. Michael Parrish also attended this show, and was quite surprised when he arrived to find no Garica. The normally reliable Garcia was so sick that the Winterland show was canceled (and rescheduled for May 30). The Riders played the gig as a quartet, however, the only known time that they played without Jerry during his tenure in the band.

The history of The Grateful Dead, The New Riders and Peninsula School seems to end at this point. The New Riders album was released a few months later, and they too became a successful touring band, much too big to play relaxed afternoon benefits in Menlo Park without causing a ruckus.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Grateful Dead and Menlo Park

Palo Alto, California, for a town of under 60,000, has a surprisingly high profile. Founded to accommodate Stanford University, the town has achieved renown as the incubator of Silicon Valley, The Grateful Dead and Google, just to name a few major icons. On the other hand, while Palo Alto deserves its place as an interesting matrix of ideas, South Bay residents know that much of Palo Alto's notoriety comes from the tendency of its residents to re-write history so that Palo Alto is at the center of every story. Palo Alto has a notoriously smug reputation (which, just to be clear, this Palo Alto native is quite proud of), looking down on the towns around it as insufficiently tasteful or cutting-edge.

Nothing illustrates Palo-centrism so clearly as the narrative of the early Grateful Dead. The story is regularly told of how Jerry Garcia, Robert Hunter and others were struggling folk musicians and beatniks in Palo Alto, met Ken Kesey and The Merry Pranksters and formed The Warlocks, participated in the Acid Tests, changed their name to the Grateful Dead and moved to San Francisco to change the world. However, surprisingly few of the seminal events took place in Palo Alto proper, and many of the important places in early Grateful Dead history actually took place in Menlo Park, the town just North of Palo Alto. While I have relatively little to add to the story of the early Grateful Dead, I am going to retell the key events from the point of view of Menlo Park, with a chronology of important Grateful Dead pre-historical and historical events that took place in Menlo Park.

1961 Peninsula School, 920 Peninsula Way: Jerry and Bob
Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter's first paying gig as a folk duo in the South Bay was at Peninsula School in Menlo Park. Peninsula School, at 920 Peninsula Way, was founded in 1925 and is still there. Greil Marcus, John Dawson and me all went there, though not at the same time.

1961-65 Kepler's Books 935 El Camino Real
Roy Kepler founded his famous bookstore at 935 El Camino Real in 1955, and it was the first bookstore  in the South Bay that allowed patrons to sit and read, drink coffee, hang out or play music, perfect for the budding bohemians who would become San Francisco's psychedelic rockers. All sorts of key events took place at Kepler's, such as Peter Albin (later in Big Brother) meeting Jerry Garcia for the first time, when Jerry was holding court in the back of Kepler's with a guitar. Jerry Garcia probably met his first wife (Sara Ruppenthal) here as well, though she was from Palo Alto.

Kepler's Books has since moved across the street (to 1010 El Camino Real). The site of the original store is currently a Leather Furniture Store

1961-63 The Chateau 2100 Santa Cruz Avenue
Jerry Garcia, David Nelson, Bob Hunter and many others lived in a rambling house near the Southern end of Santa Cruz Avenue called "The Chateau." It was a true hangout, with dozens of rooms and a party in all of them. Most stories about hanging out with Jerry in the old days generally refer to The Chateau. For various reasons, some people think that The Chateau was in Palo Alto, but that was actually the purple house on Waverley Street (at Channing) where Jerry and Sara Garcia moved in 1965. The address, near Sand Hill Avenue and Sharon Heights, is now a subdivision (note: I had previously thought the address was 838 Santa Cruz, which had been published elsewhere, but better information has come to light).
update:
The front yard at 2100 Santa Cruz Avenue, Menlo Park, CA, previously known as The Chateua, back in the mid-70s (thanks to Robert for the photo)


1962-65 Ken Kesey's House on Perry Lane (updated)
Tom Wolfe immortalized Ken Kesey's house on Perry Lane in his book The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test. According to no less of an authority than the Archivist at the Palo Alto Historical Association, Kesey's Perry Lane house was on the site of today's current Perry Avenue. At the time, the area was in unincorporated San Mateo County, with a mailing addresses of Menlo Park, although it may have since been incorporated into Menlo Park.  The houses that were associated with Kesey's activities have long since been torn down and replaced by newer structures, but the current Perry Avenue is the site of Perry Lane in Kesey mythology (I had thought for many years that the nearby Oak Creek Apartments were actually the site of Perry Lane, but the Archivist pointed out that were actually they were actually built on Stanford land in Palo Alto proper, before the original Perry Lane structures were torn down).

Update: Menlo Park's leading blog, InMenlo, has discovered the exact address of Kesey's cottage: 9 Perry Lane. The whole story is here, including an interview with Kesey's neighbor and friend (at 13 Perry).

The somewhat younger members of the future Grateful Dead used to go to Perry Lane parties, possibly uninvited. This led to both the introduction of the young Warlocks as the house band for Kesey's infamous "Acid Tests"--don't forget, LSD was legal in California until October 6, 1966--and the initial connection between Jerry Garcia and his future (second) wife, Carolyn "Mountain Girl" Adams.

Magoo's Pizza, 635 Santa Cruz Avenue
In 1965, Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Pigpen and many others had a jug band, but the band had almost no gigs other than poorly paying ones at Palo Alto's only folk club, The Tangent. Pigpen urged Garcia to form an electric blues band, and the Warlocks were born. Garcia and Weir worked at a music store in Dowtown Palo Alto called Dana Morgan's (at 536 Ramona). Since the son of the owner (Dana Morgan Jr) was The Warlocks bass player, the band could borrow equipment from the store and practice there as well, with the grudging acquiescence of the owner.

However, there were no gigs to be had in Palo Alto. Thus the first Warlocks gig was in Menlo Park, at a pizza parlor in Menlo Park. Magoo's Pizza was either at 635 Santa Cruz Avenue or at 639, as near as I can determine. 635 Santa Cruz is a restaurant called The Left Bank, and 639 is a furniture store. Any Menlo Park residents who can shed some light on the original location of Magoo's are encouraged to Comment or email me.

The Warlocks first played Magoo's on Wednesday May 5, 1965, and they played every Wednesday in May. The club was packed with students from Menlo Atherton High School, thanks to shrewd campaigning by the group's first fans. However, despite the promising start to the young band, bassist Dana Morgan was not cutting it. Garcia's friend Phil Lesh saw the last Wednesday night gig (on May 26), and Garcia invited him to replace Morgan (Garcia had to teach Lesh to play bass, as Phil only played trumpet, piano and violin).

Guitars Unlimited, El Camino Real
Since Dana Morgan Jr had been fired from the Warlocks, the band was not welcome to use equipment from the store, nor were Garcia and Weir wanted as guitar instructors. Both Garcia and Weir got jobs at a music store called Guitars Unlimited on El Camino Real, right near Santa Cruz Avenue. Both of them brought their own guitar students with them, an attactive proposition even though Garcia in particular had what was perceived as a "menacing" demeanor. Of course, the band promptly borrowed equipment from Guitars Unlimited.

Throughout the balance of 1965, The Warlocks struggled with trying to make it like a normal South Bay band, mostly playing up and down the El Camino Real. Things started to change at the end of the year, however, as they began to play Kesey's Acid Tests. While the band played at the infamous Big Beat Acid Test in South Palo Alto, they still had not yet had a paying gig in Palo Alto. By 1966, things were developing at a rapid pace, and in February the newly-named Grateful Dead took off to Los Angeles with their patron Owsley Stanley, to help put on Acid Tests in Southern California. Of course, the band took all their equipment from Guitars Unlimited. Whether the band eventually paid for them is not clear.

The story of the Grateful Dead and Menlo Park ends in February 1966. The group did play a Be-In at Palo Alto's El Camino Park on June 24, 1967, which was an easy walk from Magoo's, Kepler's or Guitars Unlimited. [update: I have since learned that the address of Guitars Unlimited was 1035 El Camino Real, in Menlo Park, now the site of the Su Hong restaurant]

The Underground, El Camino Real May-June 1969
The story of Jerry Garcia and Menlo Park was not quite over, however. In April 1969, while on tour in Colorado, Garcia bought a pedal steel guitar. Looking for an opportunity to play the instrument, he discovered that old Los Altos pal John Dawson was performing his own songs at a Hofbrau in Menlo Park called The Underground, somewhere on El Camino Real in Menlo Park. Another old South Bay friend, David Nelson, without a band at the time, joined in playing electric guitar.

Dawson, Nelson and Garcia would go on to found the New Riders of The Purple Sage, although they would not be known by that name until August. The trio played most Wednesday nights at The Underground, however starting May 7 (probably May 14, May 21 and June 4 also, and possibly June 18). Their last gig at The Underground was probably June 25. It is a little-remarked fact that the first gigs of both the future Grateful Dead and the future New Riders took place within walking distance of each other in downtown Menlo Park.

Thanks to a Commenter, I know the approximate location of The Underground, but not precisely. It appears that 1029 El Camino Real would be the approximate location of The Underground. That is currently The Oak City Bar And Grill, but I do not know for a fact whether the buildings have been remodeled or if The Underground was at the same place.

Peninsula School, 920 Peninsula Way June 3 1969: Jerry Garcia and John Dawson
Outside of The Underground Hofbrau in Menlo Park, the first public gig of the future New Riders--at the time unnamed--was at Peninsula School. Dead biographer Dennis McNally alludes to this event, and by triangulating I can approximate the date, but it could be any weeknight around that time. Banjoist Peter Grant had probably joined the trio, and possibly other players as well.

I had moved on to Public School by this time, but a friend of mine, then aged 11, went to the school and recalled the show (although its possible he was recalling the 1970 show). He and his friend snuck into the equipment room and someone knocked on the door. Since they weren't supposed to be there, they refused to let the person in. He plaintively said "but you have to let me in, I'm Jerry Garcia." Scared of their Moms, however, they remained silent until Jerry left and they could sneak away. Many years later, my friend's Mom moved to The Oak Creek Apartments, but those sort of imaginary "coincidences" were common in the then-insular South Bay.

The New Riders would go on to play two more shows at Peninsula School, one around May 1970, and another on May 28, 1971. The May 28 show was odd because a very ill Jerry Garcia could not make the show, and The Riders played as a quartet. 

Conclusion
The Grateful Dead saw themselves as a Palo Alto band, and rightly so. Without Palo Alto, there would have been no Grateful Dead. The cool parts of Menlo Park, like Kepler's or The Chateau, to some extent depended on being near to downtown Palo Alto while being cheaper. Nonetheless, without Menlo Park there wasn't necessarily a Grateful Dead either. Palo Alto has a right to be at the center of a lot of stories--Joan Baez, Stanford Shopping Center, Silicon Valley, The Homebrew Computer Club, Yahoo, Google and Facebook to name just a few--but it doesn't exist in a vacuum, however much we natives try and suck up all the air around us. There's a Grateful Dead walking tour of Menlo Park ready to be made, if someone could just find the addresses of the long-gone establishments.

117 University Avenue, Palo Alto, CA The Top Of The Tangent (circa 2006)

 

The Tangent looms large in Grateful Dead history. In 1962, two bored doctors at Stanford Hospital had decided to open a folk club in Palo Alto. Dennis McNally tells the story in some detail (p47). The  young doctors, Stu Goldstein and David Schoenstadt, decided to open a folk music club based on a Pete Seeger book called How To Make A Hootenanny. An establishment called The Palo Alto Deli, at 117 University (owned by Max and Bertha Feldman), had an extra room upstairs, and that turned into The Tangent. If I understand correctly, The Tangent was a sort of pizza parlor, and the room above it was "The Top Of The Tangent," the little folk music place. It apparently seated about 75 people.

The club opened in January 1963, and it instantly became the Folk Music hangout for Palo Alto bohemian folkies. Jerry Garcia and The Wildwood Boys were known to have played there as early as February 23, 1963, although no doubt Jerry had already played there by then, at hoots if nothing else. The club was also the birthplace of Mother McRee's Uptown Jugband Champions. By 1965, Garcia and Bob Weir worked a few blocks away at Dana Morgan Music (on Ramona), and Bill Kreutzmann worked at Swain's (on Hamilton).

In March 2006 I was in Palo Alto and I took a picture of the building as it stood, and more or less stands as recently as last year. The building housed a pub named Rudy's, as well as a German restaurant called Elbe. Elbe has sinced closed, and seems to have become an adjunct to Rudy's. Downtown Palo Alto since the 1960s has become an extraordinarily upscale dining Disneyland, and apparently Rudy's remains one of the last "dive bars" in Palo Alto, where non-rich people can hoist a few and have a burger.

The building to the right of 117 University is 135 University, which used to be the home of Palo Alto's second and last "psychedelic" venue, The Poppycock. I have written about The Poppycock elsewhere. The Tangent remained an active folk club until at least 1969, possibly later, although it may have changed its name to The Trip Room. The room was not without history after Garcia went electric, however. A local engineer named Chris Lunn started a series of open mike songwriter's workshops at The Tangent. The best of these players played around Bay Area clubs under the name Folk And Blues Workshop. Lunn ultimately moved to Tacoma, WA, where he continued his program, which ultimately lead to a long running organization called Victory Music.

The Poppycock burned down in early 1971, and the building was substantially remodeled. I have to imagine that the building housing The Tangent was remodeled too. I do not know (nor recall) what was in 117 University between then and the 21st Century. Nonetheless, this photo gives a glimpse at the tiny size of The Top Of The Tangent, a little acorn where a mighty oak would grow.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

March 10, 1983 Perkins Palace, Pasadena, CA Bob Weir and Friends with Nicky Hopkins

Continuing my theme of "lost" Grateful Dead spin-off shows, here is one that I wrote down off the Hot Line at the time and yet know nothing about.  The Hot Line advertised

Benefit for Medical Aid To El Salvador
Bob Weir and Friends with Nicky Hopkins
Perkins Palace, Los Angeles
March 10, 1983

Bob Weir-guitar, vocals
Bobby Cochran-lead guitar
Nicky Hopkins-piano
Tim Bogert-bass
Gregg Errico-drums

I was very interested in this show at the time, but living in Northern California, I had to hope I would get to read about it later. No such luck. I spent years wondering about it. I think sometime in the last several years I saw a set list or something, but I still know very little about it. At the time, Weir and Cochran had been playing with Bobby And The Midnites for a while, but despite the enormous musical talents of the band, I found them more ultra-competent than impressive. I had loved Hopkins with the Jerry Garcia Band, and I thought this might shake up Weir's approach and provide something different. Whatever happened at the show, it seems never to have been repeated.

Update: Thanks to a kindly Commenter, I now know that part of this was broadcast on David Gans 2006 KPFA Marathon. I originally posted this under the date of March 18, 1983, but it seems my 25 year old notes were incorrect, and I am much more confident of David Gans's date. The circulating tape has

d1t01 Minglewood
d1t02 Big Iron
dit03 Feel So Bad
d1t04 CC Rider
d1t05 Dance On Baby
d1t06 Youngblood
d1t07 Brother Bill
d1t08 Easy To Slip
d1t09 Book Of Rules
d1t10 I Found Love
d1t11 Women Are Smarter -> Drums//
d1t12 Josephine

The lineup apparently was
Bob Weir - Guitar, Vocals
Bobby Cochran - Guitar, Vocals
Nicky Hopkins - Piano
Dave Garland - Keys, Sax
Tim Bogert - Bass
Gregg Errico - Drums
Graham Smith - Harp
Freebo - Tuba
Mike Rogers - Steel Drums

Perkins Palace, 129 N. Raymond Ave, Pasadena
The Perkins Palace, formerly The Raymond Theater, was opened in 1921 and had been one of the last remaining Vaudeville houses in the United States. It was known as The Crown Theater from 1948 to 1976. At some point (probably between 1976 and 78), the Beaux Arts building was Van Halen's rehearsal hall, before they became famous. In the late 1970s, partners Marc and Jim Perkins and Marc Geragos bought the theater and promoted shows there (Geragos, then a Loyola law student, has since become a high-profile defense lawyer). Because the theater was just 15 minutes from Hollywood, Perkins Palace was regularly used for TV broadcasts and industry events. Although many acts played there, after 1985 the theater was sold to developers, and after a 20-year battle it appears to have been torn down.

Bob Weir And Friends
In 1983, besides The Grateful Dead, Bob Weir had a working band called Bobby And The Midnites. They had released a 1981 album on Arista, and they would release another in 1984 (Where The Beat Meets The Street, on Columbia). They performed regularly when the Dead were not touring.

Midnites lead guitarist Bobby Cochran had been working with Weir since 1978, and to some extent was Weir's partner in non-Dead activities, playing a similar role to the one John Kahn played for Jerry Garcia. Cochran, the nephew of rock legend Eddie Cochran, had been in a variety of rock groups including Steppenwolf and The Flying Burrito Brothers (who were called Sierra at the time he recorded with them).

Bassist Tim Bogert had been in Vanilla Fudge, Cactus, Beck, Bogert and Appice and worked with many high profile artist. His professional connection with Bob Weir had come through Ibanez instruments. Both Weir and Bogert used Ibanez guitars. Bogert had been in the initial version of Bobby And The Midnites in Fall 1980, ultimately replaced by Alphonso Johnson (who in turn was replaced by Little Feat's Ken Gradney).

Drummer Gregg Errico had been in Sly And The Family Stone and Weather Report, among other high profile gigs. A friend of Mickey Hart's from before Hart was in the Dead, Errico had participated in all sorts of casual performances with various members of the Dead, including at least one stint as drummer of The Jerry Garcia Band.

Pianist Nicky Hopkins was a true rock legend, whose ill health in the 1960s "forced" him to stay in London, where he recorded with The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Who and every other important London band. He turned down opportunities to join the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin--think about that for a minute--and came to California with the Jeff Beck Group. He joined Quicksilver Messenger Service for a while. After further adventures he ended up in the first Jerry Garcia Band in 1975. Despite some fantastic music, Hopkins's personal instability made him untenable for the band. He had jammed with Weir (via Jerry) on various occasions, but this seems to have been the only occasion of the pair playing together on a formal basis.

Although this was probably just an under-rehearsed benefit, its still a star-studded lineup. Does anyone have a link to a setlist or a stream?