After the Grateful Dead "retired" from performing in October 1974, Bob Weir started to play some gigs with his friend Matt Kelly and former New Rider Dave Torbert in their band Kingfish. After a few late 1974 gigs, Weir became a member of the band, and the group started to learn new material and gig seriously around the Bay Area. This post covers the period from January to June 1975. The Grateful Dead were working on the album in Weir's home studio that would become Blues For Allah, but save for a few stealth dates they were not a performing entity. Weir and Kingfish performed steadily however, and I suspect the dates listed here are only partially complete.
Robbie Hoddinott-lead guitar
Matt Kelly-harmonica, guitar
Bob Weir-rhythm guitar, vocals
This is the second installment on Kingfish's performance history (for the first, see here). The sources from my dates include Deadbase IX (to which I was an initial contributor), the fine Weirworks site, some contemporary newspaper archives and a few other sources. I believe there are still many dates to add to this list. If you know of one from this period, please Comment or contact me.
January 3-4, 1975 Chateau Liberte, Los Gatos, CA Kingfish
At the time, Kingfish was playing regular shows at this tiny joint in the Santa Cruz Mountains, between Santa Cruz and San Jose.
January 14,1975 Winterland Kingfish/Valley Boys/Little Roger
Bill Graham had begun presenting local bands at Winterland on Tuesday nights for just $2.00, calling it "Sounds Of the City." This was an attempt to make Winterland into a competitor to local nightclubs, a strategy he had employed with Tuesday nights at The Fillmore West and Fillmore East. Generally there was a fairly popular local club headliner, and some lesser known bands. Kingfish fit nicely, as Weir and Torbert were well known but Kingfish was not.
Buddy Cage of the New Riders of The Purple Sage sat in for most of the show, and he sounded great. Interestingly, Kingfish played two songs with Cage that I am not aware of them playing any other time, both sung by Torbert: Buck Owens "A11" ("Don't play A11 on the jukebox") and Dolly Parton's "My Blue Tears." They also played "Groupie," a Torbert song from the Riders Panama Red album. I suspect that these numbers were leftovers from the pre-Weir incarnation of the band.
Little Roger and The Goosebumps were a local band featuring Roger Clark and Dick Bright. They became infamous with their song "Stairway To Gilligan's Isle" (The Gilligan's Island theme done to the tune of "Stairway To Heaven." I saw them do it once at Winterland, and they brought down the house).
January 15, 1975 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA Kingfish
[update] Sophie's was at 260 S. California Avenue, in the older "Mayfield" section of Palo Alto. At the time, Sophie's was run by Ken Rominger, who also managed the Bodega, in Campbell (near San Jose). Two years later, the venue would become the Keystone Palo Alto.
January 18, 1975 Longbranch, Berkeley Kingfish
The Longbranch, at 2504 San Pablo Avenue, mostly featured local bands on the way up.
January 24-25, 1975 Keystone Berkeley Kingfish/James And The Mercedes
A tape survives of Friday, January 24. Kingfish has begun doing Weir's blues version of "CC Rider," which will ultimately be adopted by the Dead. They have also begun closing shows with "One More Saturday Night, " the one original Weir Grateful Dead song that Kingfish will do, as a concession to Weir's fan base. The second night is known from a newspaper listing.
James And The Mercedes was fronted by James Ackroyd, formerly of James And The Good Brothers. I believe Bob Weir's girlfriend Frankie was a backup singer for James And The Mercedes.
January 26, 1975 Chateau Liberte, Los Gatos, CA Kingfish/James And The Mercedes
For a great eyewitness account of this show, complete with pictures, see Cryptdev's great blog post.
The Gold Rush was a club in Walnut Creek, then a sleepy middle class town in Contra Costa. There were still a lot of walnut trees in the city limits at this time.
February 8, 1975 King's Castle, Incline Village, NV; Kingfish (two shows)
February 14-15, 1975 Keystone Berkeley Kingfish/Grayson Street
February 16, 1975 Margarita's, Santa Cruz, CA Kingfish
Margarita's was a new rock club in Santa Cruz, at 1685 Commercial Way. Kingfish opened the club on a Sunday night.
February 19, 1975 The Gold Rush, Sacramento, CA Kingfish
[update] Originally known from Weirworks, where the show was listed as "River City, Fairfax." River City was a tiny watering hole in Marin County, where Phil Lesh was a regular, but a Kingfish gig seemed unlikely. A terrific board tape has surfaced, however, and the show was actually in Sacramento. The "River City" was a 19th century nickname for Sacramento, so the transposition wasn't implausible.
[update 2]: a Commenter suggests that Kingfish played the Gold Rush in Walnut Creek (in Contra Costa County, East of Berkeley). They were booked this night, and some other nights.
February 21-23, 1975 Golden Bear, Huntington Beach, CA Kingfish
A tape survives from February 23, which is how we initially knew the date. The band played the entire weekend.
February 28, 1975 Keystone Berkeley Kingfish
Known from a newspaper listing.
March 2, 1975 Winterland Kingfish/Alice Stuart/West
Kingfish headlined another Tuesday night "Sounds Of The City." At one of the Winterland gigs, New Riders pedal steel player Buddy Cage sat in with Kingfish again. The BGP list has Terry and The Pirates instead of Alice Stuart, but a contemporary newspaper listing has her, and I am inclined to that. West featured guitarist Ron Cornelius.
March 7, 1975 Crown College Dining Commons, UCSC, Santa Cruz, CA Kingfish
[update] An intrepid UCSC student managed to hire Kingfish to play at the school. For the complete, unexpurgated story, see cryptdev's blog here.
March 8, 1975 The Gold Rush, Walnut Creek, CA Kingfish
Kingfish was also booked on March 7 at the Gold Rush, but we are certain of the UCSC show (above), so I am assuming they just played on March 8.
March 14, 1975 East Gym, Humboldt State College, Arcata, CA
Known from Weirworks.
March 20-21, 1975 Keystone Berkeley Kingfish/Soundhole
The dates are from a contemporary newspaper listing in the Hayward Daily Review. Soundhole was a popular Marin band who had worked with Van Morrison.
March 22-23, 1975 Pitschell Players Cabaret, Los Angeles Kingfish
This date has circulated for awhile as March 21, based on a tape. However, it conflicts with the Keystone date, which I have seen listed.Thanks to Commenter RD, we know that Kingfish played Pitschell Players Cabaret on both March 22 and 23, with two shows each night.
April 4, 1975 The Gold Rush, Walnut Creek, CA Kingfish
April 5, 1975 Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, CA Kingfish
[update] Hot Tuna was at their peak as a draw, and at a musical peak as well, with Greg Douglass added on slide guitar.
[update 2] JGMF figured out the details from a Melody Maker column by local correspondent Todd Tolces. Kingfish headlined an afternoon show at the Civic, and Hot Tuna headlined the Civic later that night (I have the Tuna tape, by the way, and it's absolutely killer, with Greg Douglas on slide guitar).
April 7, 1975 Odyssey Room, Sunnyvale Kingfish
The Odyssey Room was a popular beer joint in the South Bay, at 799 E. El Camino Real in Sunnyvale. Sunnyvale was between Palo Alto and San Jose. On weeknights, the club sometimes had "name" Bay Area bands (with records). On weekends, it was just jammed with beer drinking Silicon Valley factory workers.
The Lucky Lion was a big bar across the freeway from the Oakland Coliseum, perched on the San Francisco Bay. The previous year, the Grateful Dead had headlined a Day On The Green at the Coliseum Stadium (June 8, 1974), and now Weir was playing at the bar.
April 18, 1975 Swing Auditorium, San Bernardino, CA: Joe Walsh/Average White Band/Kingfish
The Palomino was a country club in North Hollywood, although by the mid-1970s it was more like a Cowboy bar. This gig has a unique setlist. Dave Torbert and Robbie Hoddinott apparently had some sort of altercation with the law and were not present. Doug Sahm, a Grateful Dead associate of many years, played bass on an emergency basis. A person who attended the show described it as "almost a Weir solo show." The setlist includes a number of songs not associated with Kingfish, like "El Paso," "Big River" and "Me and Bobby McGee." I'm not aware of Weir or Kelly ever speaking about the circumstances.
April 20, 1975 County Bowl, Santa Barbara Joe Walsh/Kingfish
Unlike Jerry Garcia's various aggregations, Kingfish functioned quite well as a normal rock band, and Weir seemed to enjoy playing in regular concert settings. Santa Barbara County Bowl was a small stadium (by football standards), used for medium sized events.
April 25, 1975 Union Ballroom, U. of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT Kingfish/Smolder Bros
The Grateful Dead had played this venue in April 1969.
April 27, 1975 Gym, U. Nevada-Reno Kingfish/Sutro Sympathy Orchestra
Reno is only about a five hour drive from the Bay Area. The listing for the show is above, from the Reno Evening Gazette of April 26, 1975. Sutro Sympathy Orchestra was a Reno band.
April 30-May 1, 1975 Sophie’s, Palo Alto Kingfish
Sophie's was at 260 South California Avenue in Palo Alto. It was later better known to Deadheads as the Keystone Palo Alto. The listing above is from the Hayward Daily Review of April 25, 1975.
May 3-4, 1975 Keystone Berkeley Kingfish
Known from a newspaper listing.
May 8, 1975 Inn Of The Beginning, Cotati Kingfish
From a flyer. Discovered thanks to other scholarly work.
May 14, 1975 Lane County Fairgrounds, Eugene, OR Kingfish
Kingfish began a tour of the Pacific Northwest, playing some familiar places (thanks to scholar David for figuring out the OR/WA dates). The tour commenced on a Wednesday
May 15, 1975 [unknown venue], Seattle, WA Kingfish
Possibly Friday, May 16 (which would change the Portland date at Reed, below)
May 16, 1975 [venue], Reed College, Portland, OR KingfishMay 17, 1975 Quad, U. of Oregon, Eugene, OR Kingfish daytime free concert
The band played a free concert to "make up for the bad sound at the Fairgounds" [on the 14th]. Date confirmed by eyewitness.
May 17, 1975 Gill Coliseum, Oregon State U., Corvallis, OR: Kingfish
Intrepid scholar David found this one. He can't pin down the date precisely, but this one seems the most likely. The remarkable thing was that he found a picture in the OSU Yearbook, which complained about excessive smoking.
May 18, 1975 [venue], Pendleton, OR Kingfish
Kingfish road manager Rex Jackson was from Pendleton. There is a chance that this show was on Tuesday May 13.
May 24, 1975 Chateau Liberte, Los Gatos, CA: Kingfish
May 25, 1975 T-Car Speedway, Carson City, NV: Kingfish/Cold Blood/Country Joe McDonald/Booker T/Stoneground Memorial Weekend Spring Rock Festival
Carson City is in between Lake Tahoe and Reno. This all-day event began at 10am on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. At this time, Booker T Jones was based in the Bay Area, so this was all San Francisco acts.
May 26, 1975 County Bowl, Santa Barbara Jefferson Starship/Kingfish
Kingfish opened for Jefferson Starship at Santa Barbara County's modest stadium.
May 29-30, June 1, 1975 Roxy Theatre, Los Angeles Kingfish/Beau Brummels
The Roxy was a high profile rock club in Hollywood. It's a bit uncertain if Kingfish played on Saturday, May 31 (Beau Brummels definitely did). There's also a chance there was an afternoon show in Orange County earlier in the week (possibly May 29).
June 6, 1975 Gold Rush, Walnut Creek, CA: Kingfish
June 7, 1975 Margarita's, Santa Cruz, CA Kingfish
June 8, 1975 El Camino Park, Palo Alto Garcia-Saunders/Kingfish/Rowan Brothers
In their first co-billing, Garcia-Saunders and Kingfish play a Sunday afternoon benefit at El Camino Park in Palo Alto. The park, at 100 El Camino Real, was an easy walk from both the site of The Tangent and Kesey's Perry Lane haunts (by then redeveloped). It was also the site of the 1967 Palo Alto Be-In.
June 13, 1975 The Gold Rush, Walnut Creek, CA Kingfish
June 14, 1975 [Sonora County Fairgrounds?], Sonora, CA: Kingfish
This somewhat annual event was an all-day Sunday affair in the Sierras. Note Boz and Jesse Colin Young headlining over Peter Frampton. Frampton, always popular in San Francisco, had already recorded Comes Alive at Winterland, but the album would not be released until the next year. Kingfish was scheduled to open the concert at the un-rock-and-roll hour of 10am.
June 17, 1975 Winterland Jerry Garcia and Friends/Kingfish/Keith and Donna/Mirrors
The Grateful Dead did a benefit for the recently deceased poster artist Bob Fried, the famous "Bob Fried Memorial Boogie." Kingfish played two sets, prior to the Dead's huge set.
June 19, 1975 Keystone Berkeley Kingfish/Heroes
June 20, 1975 Keystone Berkeley Kingfish/Paul Pena
Heroes was a local band connected to the Dead indirectly. Leader Bill Cutler was an engineer and the older brother of future Dead soundman John Cutler. Paul Pena, although a solo performer, wrote the song "Jet Airliner" that was later a huge hit for the Steve Miller Band.
June 29, 1975 Oakland Coliseum Doobie Brothers/Eagles/Commander Cody/Kingfish
Once again, Kingfish was willing to open a major Bay Area rock concert. This was a huge "Day On The Green" at the Oakland stadium. Elton John joined the Doobie Brothers for a few numbers.
There are no further Kingfish concerts until early August. Given that Jerry Garcia does not perform either during this period, I have to assume that Garcia and Weir were focused on finishing Blues For Allah, which would be released in September of 1975.
update: not quite true. An eyewitness reports on a couple of Kingfish shows in July.
July 4, 1975, Toulomne County Fairgrounds, Sonora, CA: Kingfish/Commander Cody and The Lost Planet Airmen/Stoneground/Keith And Donna
An eyewitness reported seeing this show. Sounded like a good time.