Thursday, March 8, 2012

August 21, 1971: Mickey Hart's Ranch, Novato, CA: New Riders Of The Purple Sage/Shanti (TV Show)

The cover image from the New Riders of The Purple Sage 1971 debut album on Columbia
The original purpose of this blog was to investigate and illuminate Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia and other Dead member performances that were hitherto unknown or rarely analyzed. For the most part, my emphasis has been on using various historical approaches to consider shows about which little more is known than a date and a venue. Once in a while, however, my research turns up something not only hitherto unknown, but genuinely tantalizing. It seems that on the afternoon of August 21, 1971, the New Riders of The Purple Sage performed outdoors at Mickey Hart's ranch in Novato. More importantly, the performance was recorded for a KQED-tv public television program, so there might even be not only audio but professionally shot video of this event. Of course, there has been no trace of any such recordings since then, but we can't know to look for something unless we know it was missing in the first place. This post will consider this long (and still) lost New Riders show, and speculate on whether it was ever broadcast, and where any copies of the video or audio might be hiding.

[update!: the lead guitarist of Shanti says that the performance was broadcast live. For a picture from his website, see below]

August 21, 1971 Mickey Hart's Barn, Novato, CA
The Jerry Site references a circulating tape of a jam at Mickey Hart's barn in Novato on August 21, 1971, featuring Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, David Crosby, Bob Weir and John Cipollina. Yet what were all those fine players doing there? Although the great guitarist John Cipollina died far too early in 1989, his personal and musical impact was so widespread that his musical career has been very well documented. When looking up the history of the August 21 jam on the Cipollina site, a comment from correspondent "Rick" explains the history of how the barn jam tape was made. My focus here is not on the barn jam, but on what the players were doing there in the first place. Note my bolded text in the following quote from 'Rick.'
The New Riders of the Purple Sage were going to be taped by KQED (PBS) at Mickey Hart's Ranch in Novato and a friend asked me if I wanted to go (thanks Michael!). When we arrived, a stage was setup outside and there were lots of familiar San Francisco music scene people and their families present. The vibes were hip, and good, to say the least. The opening group was Shanti, followed by the New Riders. When the taping was finished some musicians meandered into Mickey's barn where he had a modest recording studio set up. When I walked in Jerry Garcia and David Crosby were trying some things out (Fresh Green Grass). I turned on my cassette recorder, lashed my mic to an open mic stand, and sat down to enjoy a remarkable early evening of music. Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart, Bob Weir, John Cipollina and others floated in and out of the lineup. At some point Crosby left, then Garcia. John had come in and had picked up a Rickenbacker slide guitar* that he detailed with his characteristic Quicksilver sound. He went to his car for his ax and came back to do his part in this recipe for jam. I taped until they all stopped, we all said good-bye and left.. Enjoy this recording of a spontaneous day. Recorded on a Sony TC-24 with supplied Sony stereo mic**. Not a bad unit for the day.
Thus it seems that KQED-tv, the Public Television station for San Francisco (Channel 9) was recording a performance of the New Riders. Hart's Novato ranch was not a concert venue, so the public would not have been invited. The implication seems to have been that Grateful Dead families and friends acted as the audience. This would not have happened by accident. TV equipment in the seventies was quite bulky, so any pro-shot video would have been a major production. I know of no trace of an audio or video recording of this event, and I have never seen the date listed on any NRPS concert or performance list. What might be the context of this event, and where might there be a trace of it?

View Larger Map
 New Riders of The Purple Sage, August, 1971
The New Riders of The Purple Sage were booked at The Inn Of The Beginning in Cotati on the weekend of August 20 and 21, 1971. These dates were only recently discovered. More intriguingly, it appears that NRPS would have played Friday night (Aug 20), lugged their equipment back to Novato, played in the afternoon for the cameras, and then Jerry jammed the afternoon away in the barn until returning to Cotati. At the time, the Riders did not have a lot of equipment, and Cotati and Novato are not too far from each other (around 20 miles, per the map above), so while it would have been hard work for the crew, it would not have been insurmountable.

More importantly, however, the discovery of the Cotati dates locks in the events nicely. Since the Riders were booked at Cotati, we know they were in town, and the date for the Barn jam is confirmed by the context as well. It remains remarkable to me how compulsive Jerry Garcia was about performing. With a TV special on tap, Garcia not only bracketed the show with performances both nights, he spent the balance of the day in the studio. Yet none of these activities were for his main band, for whom Garcia kept up a truly full-time schedule.

In August of 1971, the New Riders would have completed the recording of their debut album NRPS for Columbia Records. They may have still been working on final mixes as well as other peripheral matters, but the release of the album was imminent. It makes sense that an opportunity to appear on a Public Television program would be very attractive to a band about to release their first record. I have to assume that the Novato event was not any kind of remote broadcast, as the technology for live TV remote concerts was in its infancy, but rather it was a taping for something that would have been shown later. Given that it would have taken a couple of months, at least, to edit and produce something for broadcast, the timing would have been very appealing. Since the NRPS album was released in the September timeframe, and the big tour behind the album began in October, whatever was planned for the broadcast would have presumably been available in the Fall of 1971, just when the Columbia's promotional push would have been at its peak.

What Was The Broadcast?
I am not aware of a 1971-era Public Television show featuring Jerry Garcia playing outdoors with the New Riders of The Purple Sage. It is possible, even likely, that the show was never broadcast. However, because I'm me, I am going to make a case that it's still not impossible that the show was broadcast, and somewhat more likely, if hardly certain, that the video and audio footage was at least edited into a rough cut that might still exist somewhere. I will consider various possibilities below. Neither of these speculations are exclusive of each other.

A "Magazine" Show
PBS in general, and certainly KQED, had a lot of shows that had a general theme, with the content varied each week. Thus there may have been a series with a relatively innocuous title, like "World Scape" or something, and the New Riders/Shanti concert was just part of it. Thus the show may have been broadcast, but unless the TV listings were complete, and you read them very carefully, you would miss the fact that the New Riders were on the show. This might be how the general Deadhead populace missed out on it the first time.

If the New Riders and Shanti did perform on a magazine show, they might have been only one half or one third of the TV show. Thus the show may have only broadcast a song or two of the New Riders, possibly not even complete. From my point of view, I would be more fascinated by the background footage and seeing the Riders equipment, and so on, so it would be fine with me, but we have to remember that for a magazine show, we would get a snapshot of the New Riders, nothing like a whole concert.

A PBS Special
Public Television stations in each area often acted as producers of shows which were in turn broadcast nationwide on the various PBS affiliates. A good example of this would be A Night At The Family Dog, recorded on February 4, 1970, and broadcast in late April of the same year. That show, produced by journalist Ralph Gleason and KQED's Bob Zagone, made an hour-long special out of sets by Santana, the Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Airplane sets at the Dog that night. From the tiny amount we know about the Novato concert, a specially staged outdoor event with two rock bands in the afternoon looks more like a planned television special rather than a magazine show. The afternoon would be particularly conducive to television, since the lighting would be superior to an indoor venue.

On one hand, an hour long TV special is more intriguing than a magazine, since it suggests that we might be looking at a half hour or more of vintage New Riders with Garcia. On the other hand, the show would have been promoted as such, and the fact that we so far know of no trace of it points towards the fact that the special was likely never broadcast. However, if the show was indeed a special, then some producer may have at least edited a rough cut of the video, so it may yet exist. I know that Gleason and Zagone hired Bob Matthews and Alembic to record the Family Dog special, so good audio may have been available to go with it. While it is possible that no trace remains of the probably unseen show, I can make an argument that the video may still yet exist.

Record Company Involvement
Columbia Records was planning to push the New Riders debut album fairly hard when it was released, which in they did. Thus the possibility of a PBS special featuring the New Riders that might have been broadcast in the Fall would have been very attractive to the company. Shanti, a peculiar fusion of Indian music and electric rock, had also released a 1971 album on Atlantic, although exactly when is unclear. Atlantic Records would also have been interested in promoting their own band. Since Shanti included a few friends of Mickey Hart (see the Appendix below), its not so far fetched that the musicians encouraged the record companies to support this event.

KQED was Public Television, and not necessarily particularly well-funded. An outdoor event at Mickey Hart's ranch would have incurred a certain amount of expense: building a stage, renting generators, providing refreshments and water, renting a truck or two, and so on. If Columbia and Atlantic would have been willing to finance some of these peripheral expenses, it would have made the TV special a lot more viable economically. I suspect that the KQED producer, whomever he might have been, tried to finance this event on a shoestring, and the record companies probably helped. A few thousand bucks for a stage, some generators and some supplies was an easily recouped or written off expense from the point of view of Columbia or Atlantic.

I would be very surprised if a KQED special featuring the 1971 New Riders and Ashanti was actually broadcast. My suspicion would be that a producer tried to put something together and got a little record company support through the bands, but couldn't get his project onto the screen, so it was never shown. I do know that in the early 1970s, the expense of videotape was so great--bizarre, isn't it?--that any unused footage was bulk-erased. However, a producer with a nascent project would have least edited the initial footage into a rough-cut "draft" version. The rough-cut would have been used to try and persuade KQED to move forward on the project, and fund final editing and syncing with the audio.

However, if Columbia, and maybe Atlantic, put some money into the production, I would bet one or both of the companies have copies of their audio and video. Columbia, according to my theory, would have the original audio and the rough cut video of 1971 New Riders outdoors at Mickey Hart's ranch. Thus both video and audio of the August 21, 1971 event may be resting quietly in a climate controlled Columbia Records vault.

I am sorry to report that major record companies are divisions of multinational corporations--Columbia belongs to Sony--and historically they have shown no interest in granting vault access to independent record labels, scholars or journalists. Major record company have only been interested in projects that might make substantial amounts of money. The few thousand copies of a download of an old New Riders video that might be sold would just be a rounding error for Columbia. A major label like Warners, who owns Rhino, might gain access to Columbia's vaults on a quid pro quo basis, since Columbia projects (such as boxed sets) might need Warners access. However, Jerry Garcia and the New Riders are not under the Warners/Rhino umbrella.

As of right now, it appears to me that the New Riders archive is a very low-key operation, and the Jerry Garcia estate seems to be taking a very casual approach to releasing old Garcia material. I know there is a Garcia vault, and I assume there is a New Riders one, but neither of them seem to have the motives or resources to persuade Columbia to let them poke around. On the other hand, the music industry is changing daily, and sooner than we think record companies may see ways to monetize resources they had kept hidden for many decades. Here's to hoping there's some pro video and Bob Matthews audio of Jerry Garcia and the New Riders of The Purple Sage, playing outdoors on the sunny Saturday of August 21, 1971, waiting quietly in tape boxes for us.

According to Shanti lead guitarist Neal Seidel (rear), this photo was taken at Hart's ranch on the day of the concert, which he says was broadcast. The photo is from his website.
Update
Shanti lead guitarist, interviewed in depth on the Jake Feinberg Show, said that the concert was broadcast. He doesn't say precisely on what channel, but I have to assume that it was on KQED-tv and KQED-fm, because there weren't many other choices. According to Neil Seidel (via Jake Feinberg), it was a KSAN broadcast, and he doesn't recall video. However, why would they set up a stage during the day if they weren't going to film? In any case, if there was a broadcast, even just of Shanti, there could be a tape, and maybe a video tape, too of the Riders--go to it.

Indian-rock fusion band Shanti released their only album on Atlantic Records in 1917
Appendix: Shanti
Shanti appears to have been an Indian/rock 'fusion' band, who released an album on Atlantic Records in 1971. Zakir Hussain, one of India's finest tabla players, had moved to Marin County in the late 1960s, and he began working with Mickey Hart. Hart and Hussain would later go on to work together in Diga Rhythm Band and many other projects. I had no idea that Hussain had tried his hand at a fusion-type rock band.

Although I know very little about Indian music, I know that Aashish Khan is a widely esteemed master of the Sarod. Thus the discovery that on the Shanti record he is "featured playing the acoustic Sarode sometimes through a fender guitar amplifier with vibrato effect" is pretty surprising. I suspect this is a little like finding out that Yehudi Menuhin played electric violin on a Hot Tuna album.

Drummer Frank Lupica seems to be an interesting character, based on what I could find out about him. In the 60s, using the name Frank Davis, he had drummed with a variety of rock bands. Around 1966, he had played with Los Angeles groups like Lee Michaels and The Travel Agency, and then he seems to have relocated to San Francisco by early 1968, playing with groups like Loading Zone and Cold Blood. At some point in the early 70s, he starts using the name Frank (or Francisco) Lupica and getting involved  in some advanced percussion experiments. Lupica, and two other members of Shanti (I'm not sure which ones) had apparently all been in the group The Travel Agency.

Lupica may have been one of the original inventors of "The Beam," the giant percussion platform that Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann used for many years. I'm not quite versed enough to say exactly what his role might have been, or whether his "Beam" was the same as the Dead's, but it appears to be the case. According to the eyewitness ('Rick,' above), Lupica was also one of the drummers in the afternoon jam in the barn that currently circulates.

I did find a description of the Shanti album:
From San Francisco, this Californian-meets-India group played a very relaxed mystic blend of music, alternating instrumental cuts with vocal songs. Adding instruments such as sarod, dholak and tablas to their regular guitar/bass/drums line-up Shanti created an exotic, rootsy aura, never mind the spiritual lyrics. Ustad Zakir Hussein in one of his earliest recordings.

Shanti Lineup
Steve Haehl / guitars, lead vocals

Neil Seidel / guitar

Aashish Khan / Sarod

Pranesh Khan / tabla
Zakir Hussain / tabla

Steve Leach / vocals, bass guitar
Frank Lupica / drums

Shanti (Atlantic Records 1971)
Side A:

1. We Want To Be Free (3:13)
2. Innocence (10:45)

3. Out Of Nowhere (3:27)
4. Lord I'm Comin' Round (3:02)
Side B: 

1. Good Inside (3:13)

2. Shanti (14:46)

3. I Do Believe (1:29)



21 comments:

  1. Oh man oh man, that footage would be sweet. A friend who spent a lot of time there took me to the space where Mickey's barn stood last September. I am not quite sure where a stage etc. would have gone, though I have a vague sense. Beautiful Marin county scenery, for sure.

    Great find, thanks for sharing!

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  2. The odds on the footage having survived, much less ever being seen by any civilians, are really really small. However, they are greater than zero...

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  3. Interesting context for the 'barn jam.' This must be one of the only occasions where we have not the public performance, but the backstage jam instead.

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  4. I got to chat with Mickey Hart on the radio today. I asked him about this event. He just had a vague memory of it occurring, and has no idea what happened to the recordings. I didn't get a chance to ask whether it was shot on film or video, but I'm sure it would have been film.

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  5. Thanks for asking that. What a neat opportunity to try to get it from the horse's mouth. I bet Nelson would remember this.

    More on Shanti: Staska, Kathie, and George Mangrum. 1971. Rock Talk by KG: Shanti getting rave reviews in Bay Area appearances. Hayward Daily Review, November 4, 1971, p. 40.

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  6. First I really enjoy your blog. It is always a fun read and I always appreciate new and different avenues of GD history research.

    In any event, somewhere in the clutter of my life are my GD posters. One poster in particular graced my apartment wall 30 years ago and is a group shot of the GD, the NRPS and others posed on hay bales outside a barn. I have long wondered where this photo was taken. It is clear the photo was taken in the early 1970s and now after reading this blog entry it seems to me that it is Mickey's Barn and likely taken August 21, 1971. How often would both bands be together at Mickey's Barn? Anyway food for thought.

    FWIW, my brother and I watched A Night at the Family Dog together back in what must have been 1970 on WQED in Pittsburgh, KQED's sister station. We saw many cool music programs over the years. I can't say I saw the NRPS on WQED but back then Public TV was a faunt of many hip shows and a show featuring the NRPS live would not seem out of the ordinary.

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  7. Lee, thank you very much for the kind words. I think I know of the photo you are suggesting, or at the very least one very much like it, and I think your reasoning is very likely correct.

    Your point about PBS having hip shows is relevant too. Whether or not the show was actually broadcast--I suspect it actually wasn't, sadly--it was definitely the sort of thing that PBS would try and do. Kind of a nature show, in a way: the Grateful Dead in their native habitat, sort of.

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  8. About the GD/NRPS on the hay bales - I haven't seen the poster, but I suspect it's quite unlikely for it to have been shot on 8/21/71.
    The GD & NRPS were probably at Mickey's ranch constantly from late '69 through '70 (though the Barn studio itself would not have been built yet).
    McNally's book has a photo of the GD & NRPS sitting on hay bales at the ranch, which is dated late 1970. Mickey's in the picture, of course, being an active member of both groups - which he wasn't in mid-1971.

    Jackson's Garcia bio also has a picture of the NRPS (Nelson/Garcia/Dawson/Hart/Torbert) standing by a fence, which was apparently taken the same day as they're wearing the same clothes.
    This lineup of the band only existed between April & November 1970.

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  9. Well I was way off base on my photo date. I found the picture in the dead dot archive section and it dates to 1970. It was promotional photo for American Beauty. There is also a promotional photo of the NRPS which includes Mickey which also dates it to 1970. My bad.

    Hopefully the footage exists and will see the light of day someday.

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  10. Lee, you still raised an interesting point. It got me to thinking: some kind of television special, a party at Mickey Hart's ranch, family and friends invited, NRPS and Shanti playing--there had to be a photographer.

    Even if we were wrong about the hay bales photo, I'm going to pay attention to any undated photos from around this period that might fit. Somebody had to have a camera.

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  11. I always took the hay bale photos (there's a whole series of them) to be from late '69 - early 1970.

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  12. Hi Corey --

    Always enjoy your blog! Have you inquired about this with Alex Cherian at the San Francisco State University Television Archives? As you point out, much of the KQED materials vanished or (sacre bleu!) was recorded over due to the expense of tape and film stock, but Alex is an amazing resource on these matters.

    I've been on the hunt for any of the KQED footage of the 1967, 1968, and 1970 Berkeley Folk Music Festivals, which did in fact air on KQED and other PBS channels around the country. If you or anyone else has any leads, please do let me know! As you so well put it: "we can't know to look for something unless we know it was missing in the first place."

    Michael

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  13. Michael, thank you very much for the praise. My method so far has been to just put things out there and see where they lead. As for now, I'm convinced that the most likely repository for any surviving copy of this would be the Columbia Records "vault," but I don't know how we get in there.

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  14. Corry -- Apologies...I misspelled your name in previous post. Such things happen when trying to talk to my 4 year old son and post a comment at the same time! Please keep putting your research out there, I say. As you've written about to me before, you are pursuing some fascinating ideas about the relationship of touring and venues to the developing culture of the rock scene in the 60s and 70s. It continues to amaze...you are the Braudel of acid rock! If it strikes your fancy, please feel free to follow along with my undergraduate course this spring...we'll be studying the 1968 Berkeley Folk Music Festival using the archive of the festival, which now lives at Northwestern...I have to keep the student projects behind a firewall for copyright and teaching reasons, but I post about the course on www.issuesindigitalhistory.net. Can't wait to read about your next findings. Let me know if I can ever be of help. -- Michael

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  15. Ok, according to Shanti lead guitarist Neal Seidel, the concert was broadcast (!!!). So there could be a recording out there, and possibly even a video.

    I have included some details at the end of the post.

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  16. There's much more on percussionist Lupica and his Cosmic Beam Experience (and "beast") now. Here's an older article with pictures:

    http://www.virtualvenice.info/music/francisco.htm

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  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  18. Here's "Ghost Riders In The Sky Jam" from that day, with the legend, John Cipollina

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezZn8YiMIqo

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  19. You mention a single Shanti LP. I saw another in the possession of my older brother. It may have been an unreleased album. My brother lived in Novato, and would pull out this album and play some cuts from it for me. He would lament that Shanti was a unnoticed band that never got air-play. He said he'd wished he could have managed them. The album cover is sky-blue themed and either featured a barn or a train or neither. (Alas, the memory!) But I don't have to rely on my memory for the music. I have one cut dubbed from that album, and can post it somewhere for ya'll to hear it. I have it posted on discogs requesting info (no hits yet) my discogs user is bobbybuntrock.

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  20. Sorry, I didn't have message notifications turned on. There was a reply. The tune in question was not Shanti but "The New One" by Gravy Train. Thanks for playing. All other bets are off.

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  21. Great blog. Culture Rover is right, the San Francisco Bay Area Television Archives as SF State is probably the best place to look. They have vast collections from the Bay Area's news stations and I agree that this may have been part of a larger show but the words "The New Riders" may not be on the film label. I searched SFBATA's catalog and could find nothing on the Riders but just maybe. . .
    Here is a link the archive - there is some Dead-related stuff to be found on there digital collection:
    http://www.library.sfsu.edu/about/collections/sfbatv/

    Only 4% or so of the entire collection has been digitized.

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