Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia in Santa Cruz County (Revised)

[this is a substantial revision of an earlier post]

On April 24, 2008, the Grateful Dead announced the gift of their archives to the University of California at Santa Cruz Special Collections Library. The archive includes all the non-musical material accumulated by the Dead over the years, from contracts to fan letters, and it will not only provide a major insight into an important California cultural phenomenon in the second half of the 20th century, it will end up being really helpful to the likes of me. Rotating displays of some of the material will apparently be regularly on display at McHenry Library at UCSC.

The Grateful Dead and UC Santa Cruz were always like minded entities, despite a lack of formal connection. Wikipedia summarizes the pre-history of UCSC by saying "the formal design process of the campus began in the late 1950s, culminating in the Long Range Development Plan of 1963." The same might be said of The Grateful Dead. Since the Dead and UCSC were both founded in 1965, they have both been devoted to different ways of doing things, whether dispensing with grades (which UCSC did not give until 1997) or refusing to play a song the same way twice. In honor of the Archive, this post will trace the limited appearances of The Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia and other Grateful Dead members in Santa Cruz County.

The City of Santa Cruz and its University are isolated from the rest of the Bay Area by mountains, cliffs and the Pacific Ocean. Thus it had remained economically isolated until the last few decades, and part of Santa Cruz's charm was its insularity. This meant, however, that major rock shows were few and far between.

The Grateful Dead in Santa Cruz County
The Grateful Dead were booked in Santa Cruz County twice, and they were definitely in Santa Cruz County at least twice, but whether they played twice remains obscure.

November 27, 1965 Ken Babbs Ranch, Soquel: Acid Test
There was an Acid Test at Ken Babbs' house in the Santa Cruz Mountains, written about in Tom Wolfe's book The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test. By all accounts, the Grateful Dead-who were still probably called The Warlocks, depending on who you believe--were there but did not perform, unless they did. So, to summarize, the Grateful Dead or The Warlocks were there and did or did not perform, probably.

(the poster for the Grateful Dead concert at Cabrillo College Stadium, Aptos, CA on September 2, 1967. Thanks to Ross for the scan. The show most likely did not take place)

September 2, 1967 Cabrillo College Football Field, Cabrillo Junior College, Aptos, CA
Benefit for SCA Santa Cruz
Grateful Dead/Canned Heat/The Leaves/Andrew Staples/Sons of Champlain (sic)/New Delhi River Band/Second Coming/New Breed/BFD Blues Band/Gross Exaggeration/Yajahla/Tingle Guild/People/Jaguars/Art Collection/Morning Glory/Ben Frank’s Electric Band/New Frontier/Chocolate Watch Band/The Other Side/E-Types/Mourning Reign/Imperial Mange Remedy/Omens/Ragged Staff/Talon Wedge & Others.

This two-day Festival (Saturday and Sunday September 2-3) over Labor Day weekend, with music from 3-12 pm each day, is widely known because the poster for it appeared in Paul Grushkin's book The Art Of Rock. The "beneficiary", SCA Santa Cruz, is now unknown to me, but the wording suggests that this was a campus sponsored event (which had to be not-for-profit). The bands listed above were spread out over the two days. The Dead would have been booked to play on Saturday September 2, as they had another gig (at Rio Nido Dance Hall) on September 3. The Dead, Canned Heat,  and San Jose's own Chocolate Watch Band were the big names. The other booked acts were an interesting mixture of mostly South Bay bands, including David Nelson and The New Delhi River Band.

However, intriguing as all this sounded, I looked into it at some length and I don't believe the event ever took place. I talked to a number of old South Bay types, none of whom recalled it. While it's impossible to prove a negative, one member of a band booked at the event (the E-Types) did not recall it either, and he played Cabrillo many times back in the day, so I think this is one of those events that was planned but never happened. 

Cabrillo College (at 6500 Soquel Drive in Aptos) was just 9.1 driving miles from the UCSC Campus Entrance, and Cabrillo is definitely in the UCSC zone, but I have a feeling that this event was planned and then scuttled by whatever powers-that-be were able to do so. More's the pity. Anyone with additional information is encouraged to Comment or email me.

September 24, 1983 Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds, Watsonville, CA: Grateful Dead
During this period, the Grateful Dead and Bill Graham Presents were experimenting with different venues around California. While the site was pleasant, and the afternoon weather was great as always, the facility lacked the parking to manage thousands of Deadheads arriving at once, and the venue was somewhat overwhelmed, in the genial pleasant way that Deadheads used to do such things. Still, the band played well, and that's what matters. Nonetheless, I do not recall this venue being used for a major act again, I think mainly due to the parking situation.

The Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds in Watsonville (at 2601 East Lake Avenue) are about 21 miles from the entrance to the UCSC campus. As far as I know, this is as near as the Grateful Dead performed to UCSC, unless someone can make a clear-headed case for the Acid Test (good luck with that).

The Barn, Scotts Valley-no, sorry
Due to a 1999 article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, there is a suggestion floating around the internet that the Grateful Dead played The Barn in Scotts Valley between 1966 and 1968. The Barn was Santa Cruz County's unique link to psychedelic culture, linked to the Pranksters and many other interesting people. Sad to say, fascinating as the history of The Barn actually is, the Grateful Dead never played there (for the record, the article says bands like the Dead, Quicksilver and Big Brother played there, but only the last two actually did).

Jerry Garcia and other Grateful Dead Members in Santa Cruz County
As Jerry Garcia increased his extra curricular activities outside of the Grateful Dead in the 1970s and 80s, he came to play Santa Cruz a few times. This coincided with the rise in Santa Cruz's population and economic profile, because of the University and its proximity to Silicon Valley. On a smaller scale, the same process occurred with other Grateful Dead members.

The Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium at 307 Church Street, as it appeared in 2011
October 5, 1973 Civic Auditorium, Santa Cruz: Old And In The Way/Ramblin' Jack Elliott/Bruce Frye
Old And In The Way was a bluegrass band in which Jerry Garcia played banjo and sang. It was not "his" band, but he was so much more famous than the other musicians that Old And In The Way are remembered as Jerry Garcia's bluegrass band. This show was one of their last, and the other band members were Peter Rowan, David Grisman, Vassar Clements and John Kahn.

An old list compiled by Dennis McNally had a projected show at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium on Friday, October 5. The band was also scheduled to play outdoors at Sonoma State College in Humboldt two days later (Oct 7). The Sonoma show was canceled, due to bad weather, but a show in San Francisco at The Boarding House was held the night after (October 8), and recorded for the band's groundbreaking 1975 album.  For various reasons the Civic show had dropped on and off various lists; I know the whole story, but its very wonky and boring to explain the whole thing, so I'm sparing everyone. However, you can now read the account of an eyewitness, who not only has a copy of the flyer,  but recalls that the show was broadcast on KUSP-fm .

The Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium at, 307 Church Street, is an excellent Art Deco style building that was completed in 1940. As Santa Cruz rose in importance, more and more performers started using the friendly little 2,000 capacity hall for warm up shows, or shows on off nights. Garcia played the venue several times in later years. The Civic is just 2.1  miles to the UCSC Campus Entrance, and that is as close as Garcia got to performing on the UCSC campus.

February 16, 1975 Margarita's, Santa Cruz: Kingfish
Margarita's was a new rock club in Santa Cruz, which was starting to show signs of growth from the University and the early impact of Silicon Valley. Margarita's was at 1685 Commercial Way, near Highway 1, where Soquel Drive turns into Soquel Avenue, near where Moe's Alley is today. Margarita's was about 5.7 miles from the entrance to UCSC. Bob Weir and Kingfish opened the club in a low-key fashion on a Sunday night. 

February 21, 1975 Margarita's, Santa Cruz: Good Ole Boys
This show had been a mystery for many years. David Nelson and Frank Wakefield had a bluegrass group, and Garcia produced their album (Pistol Packin Mama).  I learned about this date from Dennis McNally's list, but it seemed an oddity, and I doubted its provenance. However, a fellow blogger not only recalled Margarita's, he attended the show and describes it in some detail.

For this show, the Good Ole Boys were a quartet, with David Nelson on guitar, Frank Wakefield on mandolin, Garcia on banjo and Pat Campbell on bass. Garcia sang no lead vocals. There was a sparse crowd.  In 1975, while Garcia and the Dead were extremely popular in Santa Cruz, the city itself was still far enough from the Bay Area mainstream that Garcia could play a stealth gig without the club being swarmed.

March 7, 1975 Crown College Dining Commons, UCSC, Santa Cruz: Kingfish
I recently learned that the first performance of an active member of the Grateful Dead on the UCSC campus was Bob Weir and Kingfish performing at the Crown College Dining Commons on March 7, 1975. My source is a sure thing--he booked the show--and he promises to Reveal All, so I will link to the revelations when they appear.

A long lost poster for Keith & Donna & Friends at Kresge Town Hall, Kresge College, University of California at Santa Cruz, on May 11, 1975. (scan courtesy of JGBP; recconstruction thanks to JGMF)
May 11, 1975, Kresge Town Hall, UCSC, Santa Cruz: Keith and Donna and Friends/Eric Andersen
Another recent discovery was an early performance by Keith and Donna Godchaux's band at Kresge College a few months after Kingfish's appearance at Crown. This was an early lineup of the Keith and Donna band, with Tom Donlinger on drums instead of Bill Kreutzmann. Folk-rocker Eric Andersen was Bob Weir's neighbor, which is how he came to write some lyrics for "Weather Report."

I have written about the implications of this booking elsewhere. In any case, following on the Kingfish appearance, Keith and Donna were the other active members of the Dead to play on the UC Santa Cruz campus itself.

June 7, 1975 Margarita's, Santa Cruz, CA: Kingfish

An ad for Keith and Donna at Margarita's (h/t CryptDev)
June 20-21, 1975, Margarita's, Santa Cruz: Keith and Donna
Bill Kreutzmann had joined the Keith And Donna band by this time.

The poster for the Jerry Garcia Band shows at the Del Mar Theater in Santa Cruz on October 8, 1975
October 8, 1975 Del Mar Theatre, Santa Cruz: Jerry Garcia Band with Nicky Hopkins
The Del Mar Theatre is at 1124 Pacific Avenue. The theater opened on August 14, 1936. By the 1970s the theater was not in great shape, and the operators started filling out weekends with rock shows. Quite a few good shows were held there in the 1970s. The theater probably seated about 900.

This was one of the earliest shows by the newly organized Jerry Garcia Band, with the great pianist Nicky Hopkins joining stalwart bassist John Kahn and drummer Ron Tutt. Tutt also drummed for Elvis Presley, and the Garcia Band's touring schedule was limited to dates when Elvis Presley and The Grateful Dead were not performing. Due to the small size of the venue, the group played both early and late shows without an opening act.

The Jerry Garcia Band played the Del Mar Theatre twice more before it became a multiplex in 1978. The venue (still a movie theater, now refurbished), is 2.3 miles from the UCSC Campus Entrance.

The Del Mar Theater on 1124 Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz, as it appeared in 2011
February 26, 1976 Del Mar Theatre, Santa Cruz: Jerry Garcia Band
Grateful Dead pianist Keith Godchaux had replaced Hopkins, and his wife Donna had joined as vocalist.

Spring 1976, New Riverside Szechuan Restuarant, Santa Cruz: Robert Hunter and Roadhog
The New Riverside, opened in the early 70s,  introduced Szechuan cuisine to Santa Cruz. It was on the site of the Riverside hotel at 600 Riverside Avenue. There were sometimes performances in the "Back Room," and an eyewitness recalls a three-set show by Robert Hunter and Roadhog, including Hunter dancing on a table.

(Santa Cruz artist Jim Phillips's poster for the Del Mar August 19, 1976 shows)
August 19, 1976 Del Mar Theater, Santa Cruz: Jerry Garcia Band
Link Wray apparently opened one of the Del Mar shows, but I'm not sure which one.

December 16-17, 1977 Crossroads Inn, Santa Cruz: Robert Hunter and Comfort
The Crossroads Inn was at the Old Sash Mill complex, the site of a long ago sawmill at 303 Potrero. The Old Sash Mill was at the intersection of Highway 9 and Highway 1 (River and Mission for you locals), hence the name 'Crossroads.' I don't know exactly when it opened or closed, but I do know that Neil Young's mystery band The Ducks played there during this period. To some extent, the Crossorads may have tried to pick up the slack caused by the disappearance of Margarita's as a venue.

I don't know which building in the Old Sash Mill the Crossroads may have been in. Anyone researching this critical issue is advised to stop in to the excellent Storrs Winery Tasting Room in the same complex. The Old Sash Mill is about 2.5 miles from the entrance to the UCSC campus.

Robert Hunter and the band Comfort were in the process of recording an album that was never released. They were an excellent live band with excellent original material, and its a shame the wide world never got a better look at them.

February 19, 1978 Civic Auditorium, Santa Cruz: Jerry Garcia Band/Robert Hunter and Comfort
Parts of this concert were recently released as part of the archival live cd Jerry Garcia Band: Bay Area 1978 on Grateful Dead Records.  Robert Hunter and Comfort opened the show.

The Catalyst, at 1011 Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz, as it appeared in 2011
March 30-31, 1979 The Catalyst, Santa Cruz: Reconstruction
Reconstruction was Jerry Garcia's jazz-funk excursion with Merl Saunders. From 1979 onwards, Jerry Garcia regularly played a circuit of larger Bay Area nightclubs, and The Catalyst in Santa Cruz became a regular stop. The Catalyst had opened somewhat earlier, as a coffee shop in the St. George Hotel at 833 Front, but it didn't start booking rock bands until it moved down the street in late 1978 to a converted bowling alley. The Catalyst, at 1011 Pacific Avenue, was the site of many fine Garcia shows for the next decade.  The Catalyst is 2.3 miles from the UCSC Campus Entrance.

Jerry Garcia played Santa Cruz 13 more times. For complete notes, see The Jerry Site.
May 27, 1979 The Catalyst, Santa Cruz: Reconstruction
February 7, 1980 The Catalyst, Santa Cruz: Jerry Garcia Band
January 18, 1981 The Catalyst, Santa Cruz: Jerry Garcia Band
January 29, 1981 The Catalyst, Santa Cruz: Jerry Garcia Band
April 21, 1981 The Catalyst, Santa Cruz: Jerry Garcia Band
June 25, 1981 Civic Auditorium, Santa Cruz: Jerry Garcia Band with Phil Lesh
February 2-3, 1982 The Catalyst, Santa Cruz: Jerry Garcia Band
October 13, 1982 The Catalyst, Santa Cruz: Jerry Garcia Band
January 18, 1983 The Catalyst, Santa Cruz: Jerry Garcia Band
March 5, 1983 Civic Auditorium, Santa Cruz: Jerry Garcia Band
October 16, 1985 The Catalyst, Santa Cruz: Jerry Garcia and John Kahn (early and late shows)
February 24, 1987 Civic Auditorium, Santa Cruz: Jerry Garcia Band

Appendix: Other Performances
September 18, 1980 The Catalyst, Santa Cruz: Bobby And The Midnites
Bob Weir and Bobby and The Midnites made their Bay Area debut at the Catalyst on September 18, 1980. I have written about that run of shows elsewhere, as well as about the history of Bobby And The Midnites. Bobby And The Midnites also played the Catalyst on August 10, 1983 and August 11, 1984.

May 20, 1983 Dining Commons, Porter College, UCSC: The Dinosaurs
From 1982 through 1984, Robert Hunter was a member of The Dinosaurs. Other members of the band were John Cipollina (ex-Quicksilver), Barry "The Fish" Melton, Peter Albin (ex- and future Big Brother) and Spencer Dryden (ex-Airplane, ex-NRPS). Without trying, the group sounded like an old San Francisco psychedelic band, because that was who they were. Hunter was with the group when they played the Dining Commons at Porter College (College V for old-time Banana Slugs) on the UCSC Campus. There may have been a poster for this event. (Hunter and The Dinosaurs also played three shows at The Catalyst: Oct 14 '83, Feb 4 '84 and May 26 '84).

Jefferson Airplane Footnote
The Jefferson Airplane don't have an archive, to my knowledge, and it wouldn't be as interesting as the Grateful Dead's in any case. Nonetheless, just in case, the Jefferson Airplane played the UCSC "Spring Thing" dance two years in a row: first at the Cocoanut Grove on May 14, 1966, and then on May 11, 1967 at the  Cowell-Stevenson dining hall, right before a show at the Civic.

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  1. September 18, 1980 Bob Weir Band, I was at this show...I'm looking at a master audience cassette, it says Brent Mydland, Matt Kelly, Bobby Cochran, Tim Bogert, Billy Cobham and Bob Weir.

    set one

    Poison Ivy
    Bombs Away
    Minglewood Blues
    Easy To Slip>
    Lazy Lightnin'
    Big Iron
    Salt Lake City
    Shade Of Grey
    Promised Land

    set two
    CC Ryder
    Bye and Bye
    might be tune in here
    Heaven Help The Fool
    I'll Be Doggone>
    Wrong Way Feelin'

    first encore
    Around and around
    second encore

  2. Wasn't sure where to inquire about this, but I found it quite intriguing that Blair Jackson's recent (Dec 2012) Golden Road Blog trivia posting mentions Terry Haggerty playing in the Phil Lesh spinoff Too Loose Ta Truck in 1975, reference to which I could not find on this site. It does, however, appear in the PhilZone — — and here:

    Now, I've read Phil's book twice, which portrays this period as an alcoholic fog for him, but it's still surprising that he might've played in a band off and on for a year, but it wouldn't warrant mention?

  3. You're not the first person to ask me when I'm going to get around to this. Too Loose Ta Truck (spelled various ways) played some Marin bars and the Keystone Berkeley in 1975. The other members of the group besides guitarist Terry Haggerty (from The Sons Of Champlin) were John Allair (organ) and John Mitchell (drums), both from Van Morrison's band.

    Before I ever heard a tape, I had talked to someone who had seen them at the Keystone Berkeley, who told me "they tuned up for three hours, and then it turned out that was the show." He was exaggerating, but by less than you might think. They were loose, indeed, and no trucking took place.

    To the extent there were songs, they were covers sung by John Allair. The only exception was Phil's vocal turn on Dylan's "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues," where he changed the last line to "I'm going back to San Anselmo/I do believe I've had enough," to the audible cheers of the dozens in the bar.

    The record, such as it is, remains confused by the fact that Phil may not play on some of the tapes purported to be TLTT, or only plays on parts of them. It's not surprising he doesn't recall the gigs, or doesn't want to.

    I'll take this as an indication that I need to start working on a post on Too Loose Ta Truck.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. I also remember dancing to Weir and Kingfish at the Riverside in the late 70', what about the Coconut Grove ?...I saw Jerry with Grismann a couple of times there I believe

    1. Weir and Kingfish at the Riverside makes a lot of sense. If one Dead spinoff was booked at a place, other ones usually played too.

      I'm not aware of any Garcia/Grisman shows at Coconut Grove. For that matter, I'm aware of very few live performances at the Coconut Grove after the 1960s that featured bands that actually recorded (as opposed to dance bands).

      Garcia/Grisman was very well documented, and I don't think stealth shows in Santa Cruz would have gone unnoticed. More's the pity. If you could confirm it that would be great, but I'm not aware of any supporting evidence.

  6. I was at the coconut Grove show too….Old and in the Way…also saw the shows with Kingfish at the Riverside and I remember Neil Young there too with the Ducks I believe….

    1. So, this was 1973? Was there a fiddle player?