Most Deadheads are at least generally aware of Kahn's importance to Garcia's non-Dead music. However, Kahn is usually viewed through the filter of Jerry Garcia and his music. For this series of posts, I am looking at Jerry Garcia through the filter of John Kahn. In particular, I am looking at John Kahn's performance history without Garcia. Kahn's extensive studio career has been largely documented on the Deaddisc's site, so I don't need to recap it beyond some specific references. The posts so far have been:
- John Kahn I: Performance History 1967-68: A review of John Kahn's migration to San Francisco, his transformation from an acoustic jazz bassist to an electric R&B bass player and some history of his early live work.
- John Kahn II: Performance History 1967-68-T&A R&B Band and Memory Pain: A closer look at the history of Kahn's two original bands during this period
- John Kahn III: Performance History 1969: An analysis of John Kahn's participation in the somewhat casual Mike Bloomfield Band, with Nick Gravenites and others, who played regularly at Keystone Korner.
John Kahn, Early 1970
1970 was a critical year in John Kahn's musical history, because that was the year he started playing with Jerry Garcia. Despite many mutual acquaintances, Garcia and Kahn apparently had not met until they played together with Howard Wales. Appropriately, they seem to have met on stage.
In early 1970, John Kahn was a regular member of the Mike Bloomfield Band, who played more or less every other weekend at Keystone Korner. He also recorded with Bloomfield, and worked regularly with producer Nick Gravenites. As the record industry had moved into San Francisco, Gravenites found himself in demand as a producer. Gravenites produced Bloomfield (he was also Bloomfield's lead singer) and he also produced other acts, such as Brewer And Shipley. However, for John Kahn's career, the most important act that Gravenites produced turned out to be a San Francisco band called Southern Comfort. Although Southern Comfort's 1970 debut album was Kahn's first production credit, shared with Gravenites, the importance of Southern Comfort was of an entirely different nature.
Up until 1970, Kahn's principal musical partner had been drummer Bob Jones. Jones and Kahn were also close friends. Kahn had played bass and Jones had played guitar in the T&A R&B Band in 1967. When that group broke up, Kahn persuaded Jones to play drums at jam sessions, because the untrained Jones had a great feel and didn't overplay. Jones had gone along with it as a courtesy to his friend, but in fact once other musicians heard Jones play drums, he was very much in demand, and his career was made. Jones has summed up his career as "Kahned into drumming." Jones and Kahn had put together a group in 1968 called Memory Pain, but after it faded away both of them became Mike Bloomfield's rhythm section in early 1969.
In mid-1969, Bob Jones and Memory Pain guitarist Fred Burton formed the band Southern Comfort. I do not know why John Kahn did not join the group, but I suspect it was because Kahn had no interest in being a member of a "regular" band. Although Kahn had moved from Mill Valley to the Forest Knolls/Lagunitas area by late 1969, Kahn and Jones still got together regularly to write, jam and hang out, so Kahn was part of the social circle of Southern Comfort, even if he wasn't in the band. Southern Comfort wanted to play rock in a sort of Stax/Volt style, but they also had a plan to be San Francisco's "House Rhythm Section." similar to the role of Booker T and The MGs at Stax in Memphis. Southern Comfort's lineup was:
- Fred Burton-lead guitar
- Ron Stallings-tenor sax, vocals (later in Reconstruction)
- John Wilmeth-trumpet
- Steve Funk-keyboards
- Bob Huberman-bass (later replaced by Art Stavro, then Karl Severeid)
- Bob Jones-drums, vocals
National record companies had moved into San Francisco in a big way, and many acts were sent to San Francisco to record. Nick Gravenites, a fine singer and songwriter in his own right, had established himself as a producer who worked well with musicians, sharpening up their songs and getting the best performances out of them. John Kahn worked with Gravenites, not only adding his excellent bass playing, but writing and arranging horn and string parts, a role that Gravenites background in a Chicago steel mill had not prepared him for.
In the late 1969/early 1970 period, Gravenites was producing an album for the songwriting duo of Brewer And Shipley, released later in 1970 on Kama Sutra Records as Weeds. All of Southern Comfort and the Bloomfield Band play on the album, along with a few other San Francisco regulars like Nicky Hopkins and Richard Greene (confusingly, Fred Burton was a Nom Du Rock: earlier albums credit him by his real name, Fred Olson). Meanwhile, Columbia had signed Southern Comfort in late 1969, and Gravenites was contracted to produce them as well. Kahn and Gravenites ended up sharing production credits on Southern Comfort's 1970 debut album. I don't know the actual history, but I assume the somewhat overcommitted Gravenites let Kahn do a lot of work on the Southern Comfort album, so he shared the credit with him. Kahn also co-wrote some songs on the album, and played a little piano as well, so he was an important part of the Southern Comfort album.
While Kahn's first co-production credit was an important professional milestone for him, the most important factor for Kahn's career turned out to be Bob Jones's advance for the album. All the Southern Comfort band members received modest advances, but for hand-to-mouth hippie musicians, 5 figures was real money. Jones's parents persuaded him that rather than buy a cool car or a bunch of gear--typical musician stuff--he should really buy a house. Jones took his parents' advice and bought a modest two-story house in Fairfax. Since Jones was single at the time, he needed a tenant. Thus thanks to his Southern Comfort advance and his parents' advice, Bob Jones ended up renting the downstairs of his house to fellow drummer Bill Vitt.
Bill Vitt was from the state of Washington, and had been in various bands in the Seattle area. Good drummers always work, and Vitt was apparently a busy studio musician in Los Angeles during the 1967-69 period, but for whatever reasons Vitt chose to relocate to the Bay Area in late 1969. I don't know the exact timing, but I know that Vitt was Bob Jones's tenant in early 1970. Vitt and Jones have different styles, but they are both excellent drummers who can play well in a wide variety of settings. Although in fact the upstairs and downstairs were effectively different units, two of the most in-demand session drummers in the Bay Area lived at the same address.
When Jones had a conflict with a Bloomfield gig, usually due to Southern Comfort, Vitt played the show in his place. Vitt and Jones apparently more or less alternated sessions for Gravenites projects like Brewer And Shipley, with Kahn holding down the bass chair, so both the Kahn/Jones and Kahn/Vitt combos were steady as a rock. Vitt was a jazzier, trained drummer, and Jones played simply and with great feeling, but they were both fine players.
Like most musicians, however, Vitt liked to play for his own sake. He seems to have worked steadily in the studio, but in order to have some fun on the side, he started playing regularly at the Monday night jam sessions at The Matrix. Monday night was the traditional musician's night off, and The Matrix had been San Francisco's hippie hangout since the day it opened (August 13, 1965), so The Matrix was the obvious place for musicians to jam. A few people would show up and the players would split the take, generally enough for cigarettes and gas, but jamming was its own reward. Generally the Matrix "billed" someone to lead the jam, but different musicians showed up. Certainly Jerry Garcia had showed up regularly, if only intermittently over the years. In early 1970, Howard Wales took over the role as bandleader for the Monday night Matrix jams, probably on February 16, 1970.
(a typical Chronicle listing for a Monday night jam at The Matrix. This one is from March 16, 1970. Howard Wales had taken over the jam by then, and Garcia may have already started to drop in)
Monday Night Jams At The Matrix, February-April 1970
Initially the Monday night jam was just Howard Wales on organ and Bill Vitt on drums. This may sound sparse, but in fact the organ/drums combo was a nightclub tradition. A true genius like Wales can fill a lot of space with a Hammond organ, and Vitt was a very interesting player when given the freedom. At some point, Wales seems to have invited Jerry Garcia to join in. Garcia had played the Monday night jams various times over the years, and he had jammed with Wales before (we have a record of the August 28, 1969 jam at the Family Dog), so it was a good choice. March 2 and/or March 9, 1970 seem like likely possibilities for Garcia guest appearances, and March 16 and March 23 less so, based on the Dead's touring schedule. Garcia would not have been billed at the Matrix, as he simply would have shown up at Wales's invitation.
Keep in mind that in March 1970, Garcia was finishing Workingman's Dead, touring frantically with the Grateful Dead, trying to find a bass player for the New Riders and dealing with the fallout of firing Lenny Hart. Its revealing that in what had to be his only spare time, Garcia chose to spend a Monday night or two at the Matrix jamming his brains out. It's easy to fret over Garcia's various habits, but its a working schedule like Spring 1970 that reminds you that the man was All Music, All The Time.
Wales and Vitt invited a symphony bass player named Richard Favis to sit in with them on at least one of the Monday nights. According to Blair Jackson, however (p. 186) it did not work out. Vitt then had the idea of inviting John Kahn. Vitt had played with Kahn in the Bloomfield band, and had played with him in the studio. Also, although most musicians were off Monday night anyway, and the Bloomfield band was irregular, Vitt must have known that Kahn would have been steadily available. Vitt was right. Vitt, Wales, Kahn and Garcia made a sympathetic band, if a somewhat avant one, and Kahn and Garcia's path were inextricably linked.
Garcia's first advertised billing at The Matrix in this period was Monday, April 20, 1970. I have to assume that Garcia had played at least some of the previous Mondays in order to figure out that he would make a permanent go of it. Thus the first musical meeting of Kahn and Garcia would probably have been March 30, April 6 or April 13.
I should note here that in 1990s interviews discussing Howard Wales, both Garcia and Kahn completely garble the timeline of their meeting. Garcia says that he and Kahn had played with Wales "for a year" before they talked to each other, and Kahn says that they were playing with Wales "back in like, 1968." I don' fault them for forgetting some dates from twenty-something years previously, but I have done a lot of research on this, and the memories of both of them were simply off the mark in these cases.
Garcia, Kahn and Vitt played most Monday nights for the next several weeks. Some of the music from the May 18, 1970 show was released on the 1998 Jerry Garcia/Howard Wales album Side Trips, and it is strange music indeed. In a 1991 interview, Garcia told David Gans
About half the set I'd be whispering to John, I'd be saying, 'Hey, man, what key are we in?' Howard didn't have tunings or anything, he just played. Sometimes he would do these things that were so outside that you just couldn't - unless you knew where it was going, you had no idea where to start.Although weird jamming was one of the Grateful Dead's calling cards, it was pretty far from the straight ahead blues of the Bloomfield Band, so it must have been an enjoyable stretch for Kahn as well.
The Mike Bloomfield Band had stopped their biweekly residence at the Keystone Korner by the Spring of 1970. Although Bloomfield very much enjoyed the Keystone Korner, he was never comfortable with settling into too much of a routine. The group still played occasional shows in the Summer, but the Bloomfield band members were left to their own devices. Jones had Southern Comfort, and Kahn was spending more time in the studio with Nick Gravenites's various projects. I know that Kahn had met Merl Saunders in the studio, and I know it had to be in the Spring or Summer of 1970, but I'm not precisely sure which project it was.
Saunders had been an organ player in the Bay Area for some time. His organ trio had been popular in the area around 1968, and they toured Japan and Asia that year as well. He had spent time on Broadway in New York, working with singer Jon Hendricks.
(a scan of the credits for Danny Cox's self titled 1971 ABC-Dunhill album)
I think that Kahn and Saunders met playing demos for an album by Danny Cox. Cox was an African American folk singer from Kansas City, and he shared management with Brewer And Shipley. Kahn had actually played a little on Cox's 1970 debut album Birth Announcement, but Kahn, Vitt and Saunders all played on Cox's 1971 album. Given the timeline, I think that the three of them were doing demos for Cox's album in 1970, whether as album preparation or to show a record company, I'm not sure. Demo sessions were quick run throughs of songs, with few or no overdubs, just to give an artist, an agent or a record company an idea of what the material sounded like. While Kahn and Vitt were the "A-team," presumably Mark Naftalin or Nicky Hopkins were unavailable, so Merl must have gotten the call instead.
In the Summer of 1970, Nick Gravenites was producing the Brewer And Shipley album that would be released as Tarkio (a great album, by the way). Kahn was the regular bassist, while Jones and Vitt alternated drum duties. The album was recorded at Wally Heider's in San Francisco during the famous PERRO sessions, with the Airplane, the Dead and others regularly in residence. Indeed, when Brewer And Shipley needed a pedal steel guitar player, they went down the hall and asked Garcia, who obliged them on August 21, 1970 by playing on two tracks ("Oh Mommy" and "Fifty States Of Freedom"). The recording of the two songs would have been the first time Garcia and Kahn appeared on a track together, although they were not likely to have been in the studio at the same time (only Garcia's part on "Oh Mommy" was used).
Merl Saunders has said that he first met Garcia at Wally Heider's while playing on a Danny Cox album. Since Cox shared management with Brewer And Shipley, I think Gravenites was producing both artists, and sharing studio time in some way. I think Saunders met Kahn on the demo sessions for the Cox album, and through Kahn, Garcia met Saunders.
Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders At The Matrix
According to Jerry Garcia, Howard Wales was not comfortable with success, and when people started to show up at the Matrix to see the Monday night jam sessions, he started to become uncomfortable. Also, as we have discussed at length elsewhere, somewhere around June of 1970 Alan Douglas of Columbia Records came around looking to sign up Howard Wales in order to get access to Garcia. In any case, Howard Wales dropped out of the Matrix shows with Garcia by the end of the Summer, as the last booked performance was August 24, 1970.
Garcia and Kahn were enjoying themselves, however. Although the Dead were touring as furiously as ever, and Garcia was in the New Riders as well, not to mention hanging out all day at Wally Heider's, finishing American Beauty and a hundred other things, Garcia still wanted a weeknight bar band. Kahn suggested Merl Saunders, and since Garcia had apparently already met him, the shows must have started up pretty quickly. Some detailed research has suggested that the first Garcia/Saunders show, with Kahn and Vitt on board, was at The Matrix on September 7, 1970. By October, Garcia and Saunders have gone beyond Monday nights, and the Garcia/Kahn partnership is underway, although it must not have seemed so prominent at the time.
Jerry Garcia and John Kahn
By the end of 1970, John Kahn was a member of two part time groups, the Mike Bloomfield Band and Garcia/Saunders. Both of them only worked according to the schedule and interests of their star lead guitarists, both of whom had a distinct interest in playing imaginative cover versions in San Francisco bars. Neither group even had an official "name," and neither had any formal recording plans. At the same time, Kahn was a first call bassist in the San Francisco recording scene, even playing the occasional Los Angeles date, and he had his first production credit on the Southern Comfort album.
According to Kahn's friend Bob Jones, while Kahn and Garcia were like-minded in many ways--well read, inquisitive, sociable--one thing that he thinks the two found particularly intriguing about each other was their knowledge about music that the other was interested in. Garcia loved jazz and blues, but had never played it, except in a Grateful Dead context, whereas Kahn had knowledge and experience of both. Conversely, Kahn enjoyed and was interested in bluegrass, which he had heard through Mike Bloomfield (Bloomers tastes ran wide indeed), but he hadn't known anyone who had really played it. Thus a life changing partnership for both men was formed out of The Matrix and Wally Heider's, but at the time it appeared to just be part of the exciting mix of the time.
Annotated John Kahn 1970 Performance List
|Ralph Gleason column, Chronicle, January 23, 1970|
The band was usually Mike Bloomfield (ld gtr), Nick Gravenites (gtr, vcls), Ira Kamin (organ), Mark Naftalin (piano), John Kahn (bs), Bob Jones (dr, vcls). Anyone, including Bloomfield, sometimes missed a show. If Jones was booked, then Bill Vitt took over on drums. If Kahn was unavailable, Doug Killmer (from Crowfoot) played the date. Other members weren't generally substituted for, and friends and guests often sat in.
January 30-31, 1970: New Orleans House, Berkeley, CA: Mike Bloomfield-Nick Gravenites/Big Joe Williams
I wonder if the group backed Joe Williams? It's possible.
February 6-7, 1970: Keystone Korner, San Francisco, CA: Mike Bloomfield-Nick Gravenites
February 11, 1970: Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA: Paul Butterfield/Elvin Bishop/Mike Bloomfield-Nick Gravenites/Charlie Musselwhite Magic Sam Benefit
Chicago blues guitarist Magic Sam had died unexpectedly, and this Wednesday night benefit was held for his family. Butterfield, Bishop and Bloomfield jammed at the end of the evening, reprising the classic lineup of the Butterfield Blues Band. I don't know if Kahn played for the jam.
February 21, 1970: Keystone Korner, San Francisco, CA: Mike Bloomfield
February 28, 1970: Keystone Korner, San Francisco, CA: Mike Bloomfield-Nick Gravenites
March 27-28, 1970: Keystone Korner, San Francisco, CA: Mike Bloomfield-Nick Gravenites
March 29, 1970: Old Stable Grounds, Mill Valley, CA: Quicksilver Messenger Service/Mike Bloomfield & Friends
This was a casual outdoor show in Marin.
March 30, April 6 or April 13, 1970: The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Monday Night Jam with Howard Wales and Bill Vitt
Wales and Vitt had been leading the Monday night Matrix jams since mid-February. Retellings are murky, but it appears that Garcia dropped in, and then became a regular, joined by Richard Favis and then John Kahn. Whether this happened over two Mondays or several is uncertain. Garcia could have appeared in early March, and then come back in late March (the Dead were on tour mid-month), or may not have played until April. Kahn could have played the Matrix as early as March 30 or as late as April 27. My own guess--speculation only--was that Garcia dropped in on March 30, Favis was tried on April 6 and then Kahn on April 13. I am assuming that Garcia was actually billed on April 20 because he had decided the Wales sessions were worth pursuing as an ongoing enterprise.
April 4, 1970: Exhibition Hall, Fresno, CA: Mike Bloomfield & Friends
There may have been other Southern California shows for Bloomfield around this time.
April 10, 1970: Gym, Mt Tam High School, San Rafael, CA: Mike Bloomfield & Friends
|SF Chronicle April 20, 1970|
April 20, 1970: The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia and Howard Wales
This was the first date that Garcia was actually billed on a Monday night at The Matrix, although he had already dropped in numerous times over the years.
April 27, 1970: The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia and Howard Wales
Kahn had to be part of the ensemble by this time.
May 18, 1970: The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia and Howard Wales
Some of this evening's performance was released on the fascinating 1998 Side Trips cd.
May 25, 1970: The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia and Howard Wales
June 1, 1970: The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia and Howard Wales
>June 4-7, 1970: Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA: Grateful Dead/New Riders Of The Purple Sage/Southern Comfort
No one seems to have remembered to ask John Kahn when he first saw the Grateful Dead. However, at this Thursday-thru-Sunday stand at Fillmore West, not only was Kahn newly linked to Garcia, but Southern Comfort, the band he had co-produced, was opening the shows. I have to think Kahn was there at least one of the nights.
June 8, 1970: The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia, Howard Wales & Friends
June 15, 1970: The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia, Howard Wales & Friends
June 19-20, 1970: Honolulu Civic Auditorium, Honolulu, HI: Mike Bloomfield & Friends/John Lee Hooker/Elvin Bishop/Boz Scaggs
I assume that John Kahn played bass for these Mike Bloomfield-headlined shows in Hawaii, but I can't yet confirm that.
June 22, 1970: The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia, Howard Wales & Friends
Update: We now know that Howard Wales did not appear to have played this Monday night show. This must have been when he started to get nervous about the number of people who were showing up. How do we know this? Well, Bill Champlin (of The Sons) recalls being invited to come play guitar by Bill Vitt, because Garcia spent so much time fooling with a new effects pedal that things got too loose, so Bil brought his Gibson and an amp.
Champlin was surprised to find out when he got to the Matrix that jazz great Vince Guaraldi was the keyboard player for the night. At the time, Guaraldi liked to play electric keyboards in a loud fusion style, and Garcia made a great foil. Other guests that night included soprano saxophonist Vince Dehnam and guitarist Curley Cooke.
June 29, 1970: The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Monday Night Jam
The Garcia-centric research associated with Howard Wales and the Matrix (I'm the most guilty) has paid no attention so far to the fact that Wales seems to have had the date even without Jerry. I have to assume Kahn and Vitt played along with Wales, just as a trio or perhaps with guests.
|Listing from the June 29, 1970 SF Chronicle|
June 29, 1970: The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Howard Wales, Terry Haggerty and Friends
June 30-July 2: The Matrix, San Francicsco, CA: Howard Wales and Harvey Mandel
It seems pretty likely that Kahn played with Haggerty and Wales, since he played with them six months later at Pepperland. At this time, the Sons Of Champlin were on hiatus. It's more speculative to assume that Kahn was also the bass player when Harvey Mandel was there, but it's still a reasonable proposition. Mandel would have been on a break from Canned Heat, or perhaps he had just left the band, but in any case it's unlikely he had his own band, so somebody would have sat in on bass--why not Kahn?
July 5, 1970: Brown's Hall, Mill Valley, CA: Mike Bloomfield & Friends
Once the Bloomfield band stopped appearing on weekends at the Keystone Korner, live shows were more infrequent. Brown's Hall was a small local auditorium.
July 6, 1970: The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia & Howard Wales
July 13, 1970: The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Monday Night Jam
July 20, 1970: The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Howard Wales & Friends
Howard Wales was actually booked on this date, so I assume that Kahn was there. Intriguingly, on Monday July 27 (and July 28) The Matrix advertised Mickey Hart And The Hartbeats with Jerry Garcia. I wonder who that was (surely a good subject for a different blog post)?
August 3 and 10, 1970: The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Monday Night Jam
At this point, I'm no longer certain that Wales had the Monday night gig, but no one else seems to have been named (Monday August 17 was a benefit show).
August 24, 1970: The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia & Howard Wales
I have a feeling that this show was the one where lots of people showed up at the Matrix to see Jerry Garcia, and Wales apparently got uncomfortable. Keep in mind that while the Dead had been on tour, KSAN and other stations would have been playing the heck out of Workingman's Dead, and interest in Garcia had probably increased exponentially.
September 7, 1970: The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia & Friends
Extensive research has suggested that this is the night Merl Saunders first played with Garcia, Kahn and Vitt. It would be a perfect touch if they hadn't rehearsed, which seems likely for a Monday night at the Matrix.
September 14, 1970: The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia & Friends
>September 20, 1970: Fillmore East, New York, NY: Grateful Dead
While not a John Kahn date per se, this is still important to the story. Garcia's old friend David Grisman had visited San Francisco in the Summer (and played on American Beauty), and Grisman and his producing partner Richard Loren came back stage to see Jerry at the Fillmore East. Grisman ended up on stage during the Dead's acoustic set, but more interestingly, Loren and Garcia had hit it off. Both Grisman and Loren would move West, and by Fall '71, Loren would become the manager of Garcia's non-Dead endeavours. Grisman, Loren and Kahn were the key participants in defining the parameters of Garcia's own music for the next 25 years.
October 12-14, 1970: The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia, Merl Saunders & Friends
Garcia, Saunders, Kahn and Vitt played a Monday through Wednesday booking at the Matrix, a clear sign that Garcia saw the group differently than the Howard Wales Monday night jam-fest.
October 19, 1970: The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia, Merl Saunders & Friends
This Monday night show was advertised in the Berkeley Barb, and hitherto we have dismissed it on the grounds that the Dead were touring the East Coast. I wouldn't be so quick to rule it out. Garcia seemed to be flying home every week, so it's possible the date was played.
October 26, 1970: The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia & Friends
This Monday night show appears to have been with Howard Wales, rather than Saunders. It was related to the recording that Garcia and Wales (and Kahn, Vitt and others) were doing for the Hooteroll album. It's not impossible the other players from the album (Curley Cooke, Ken Balzall, Martin Fiero) played this date as well.
November 2, 1970: Harding Theater, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia & Friends
The Grateful Dead seem to have flown home from the East Coast for Janis Joplin's wake. Garcia was billed as a performer at this two-day benefit for the nearby Both/And jazz club (at 350 Divisader--the Harding was at 616 Divis). If Garcia played, which he very well may have, Kahn would have been on board.
November 3, 1970: The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders
December 21, 1970: Pepperland, San Rafael, CA: Grateful Dead with David Crosby/New Riders of The Purple Sage/Howard Wales/others
The last live sighting of John Kahn in 1970 is also one of the most mysterious. The Grateful Dead headlined a show at San Rafael's Pepperland (a great story in itself). A reliable eyewitness reports that among the opening acts were an acoustic duo featuring Kahn and a bluesy guitarist. I have to presume this was someone Kahn was working with in the studio, but it's a mystery as to who he might have been (Howard Wales apparently did not play).