Sunday, September 13, 2009

May 23-24-25, 1969, 10th and Alma, San Jose, CA: Aquarian Family Festival Band List

May 23-24-25, 1969 practice field, San Jose State College
      Aquarian Family Festival

Ace of Cups/All Men Joy/Birth/Beggars Opera/Boz Skaggs/Crabs/Crow/
Cleanliness And Godliness Skiffle Band/Devine Madness/Denver/Scratch/Elgin Marble/Flaming Groovies/Frumious Bandersnatch/Gentle Dance/Greater Carmichael Traveling Street Band/ Glass Mountain/High Country/Jefferson Airplane/Joy of Cooking/Last Mile/Libras/Lamb/Living Color/Linn County/Mother Ball/ Morning Glory/Mad River/Mt. Rushmore/Nymbus/Old Davis/Red Grass, Green Smoke/Rubber Maze/ Rising Tide/Rejoice/Sunrise/Sable/Sons of Champlin/Sounds Unlimited Blues Band/ Sandy Bull/The Steve Miller Band/ Stoned Fox/South Bay Experimental Flash/Throckmorton/Tree of Life/Weird Herald/Womb/Warren Purcell/Zephyr Grove

The Aquarian Family Festival, a three day free concert held at a Football practice field across from San Jose State's Spartan Stadium, was a remarkable event held in conjunction with and in contrast to the Second Annual Northern California Folk Rock Festival at The Santa Clara County Fairgrounds at the same time. I have written about this event elsewhere. This post is an extensive footnote, listing the bands who played the Festival, to the extent that I know who they were.

The Aquarian Family Festival was a free concert, and all the bands played for free. Apparently the organizers simply called every band they knew, and a lot of them showed up. The agreement with the College stipulated that people could only be present when music was playing, so bands played continuously for the entire 72 hours. A specially constructed stage allowed one band to set up while another played. Apparently, bands simply showed up at the site and signed up, like signing up for a tennis court. Its uncertain exactly who played, and I'm not certain where the organizers got a list of who actually played. I wonder if that sign-up sheet survived? 

Even the organizers suggest that their list is only partial. Besides hippie solidarity, playing a free concert was a good way for a local band in the Bay Area to get known. Somewhere between 20,000 and 80,000 people attended the Festival, and for many of these groups this would have been the biggest crowd they had played for. Anyone with further information about who played (particularly if it was yourself), please Comment or email me.



Ace of Cups: The Ace of Cups were a fine band based in Marin, who are primarily remembered for being the only all-women psychedelic band. In fact, they were an excellent group, and much more disciplined than many of their peers, but we had to wait 36 years for their cd to be released.


All Men Joy: All Men Joy, despite what you may read, did not feature Duane and Gregg Allman (Duane and Gregg did have a band by that name in 1966 in Nashville, but by this time they had formed the Allman Brothers and moved to Macon, GA). All Men Joy was a San Francisco band featuring keyboardist Lu Stephens, and they were regulars at the Avalon Ballroom and Straight Theater. 


Birth: The group is unknown to me.


Beggars Opera: Beggars Opera were a Lafayette (Contra Costa County) band. As a result, they played a lot of gigs with Frumious Bandersnatch, but otherwise I know little about them.


Boz Scaggs: Boz Scaggs had left The Steve Miller Band at the end of 1968, but had not started playing around town. I doubt he had a band. I assume somebody recalls him playing (he was fairly well known locally), so I assume he sat in with another group.


The Crabs: The Crabs were a Berkeley band, regulars at The New Orleans House. They played in a style that would be called "roots-rock" today (the term did not exist at the time).


Crow: The group is unknown to me.
Cleanliness And Godliness Skiffle Band: The Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band were a group that had formed at Berkeley's Jabberwock. They played electrified skiffle music, a sort of old-timey New Orleans rock sound. They had an album on Vanguard. 


Devine Madness: The group is unknown to me.


Denver: The group is unknown to me.


Scratch: The AFF site lists the Doobie Brothers as playing the festival, but the band had not yet formed. I have assumed that Pat Simmons's group Scratch was the one who actually played.


Elgin Marble: Apparently a San Jose band, but I have been unable to find out anything about them.


Flamin' Groovies: The Flamin Groovies were a "British Invasion" (Rolling Stones/Who/Yardbirds) style band from San Francisco. They did not find a big following in San Francisco until after the 1960s.


Frumious Bandersnatch: Frumious Bandersnatch were from Lafayette (Contra Costa County), and featured three guitarists. They were managed by the Millard Agency (part of Bill Graham's Fillmore operation) and played on many bills on the Fillmore West and elsewhere. They were a very popular local band, but no albums were released until well after they broke up. Most of the members of Frumious Bandersnatch ended up in the Steve Miller Band at some time or another, and one (bassist Ross Valory) ended up in Journey. Bandersnatch road manager Walter "Herbie" Herbert ended up as road manager of Santana and the manager of Journey


Gentle Dance: The group is unknown to me.


Greater Carmichael Traveling Street Band: The group is unknown to me.


Glass Mountain: The group is unknown to me.


High Country: High Country was a bluegrass band from Berkeley, regulars at Berkeley's Freight and Salvage. Their was some fluidity in their membership, but the founding members were Butch Waller and Rich Wilber. High Country has played continuously since 1968.


Jefferson Airplane: Jefferson Airplane were one of the headliners at the huge (paying) festival at the Fairgrounds, a mile away. True to their Haight-Ashbury roots, they came over and played a set at the free event as well.


Joy of Cooking: The Joy of Cooking were a newly formed band that had a regular gig at a club called Mandrake's in Berkeley. The group was fronted by two women, guitarist Terry Garthwaite and pianist Toni Brown. While both women sang and wrote, Joy Of Cooking defied expectations by being a very musical band that played extended jams, rather than falling into the cliche of sensitive girl singers. At this time, the band was very new. They would release several albums on Capitol, and occasionally they reform.


Last Mile: The group is unknown to me.


Libras: The group is unknown to me.


Lamb: Lamb was originally a duet featuring Bob Swanson on guitar and Barbara Mauritz on piano. Later they expanded to a full group, and they released an album on Fillmore Records and two more on Warners.


Living Color: The group is unknown to me.


Linn County: Linn County was a fine group originally from Cedar Rapids, IA. After some success in Chicago, they moved to San Francisco in mid-1968. They released two underrated albums on Mercury. Lead vocalist and organist Stephen Miller (1942-2003), perpetually confused with the guitar playing Steve Miller, had an extensive career with Elvin Bishop, Grinderswitch and other bands.


Mother Ball: The group is unknown to me.


Morning Glory: Morning Glory was a Marin band featuring singer Gini Graybeal and guitarist Danny Nudalman. They released the album Two Suns Worth on Fontana.


Mad River: Mad River were a remarkable band from Yellow Springs, OH. They moved to the Bay Area in 1967, but even San Francisco was not quite ready for them. Prophets before their time, both their albums became collector's items that were re-released to much acclaim. This show would have been one of their very last gigs.


Mt. Rushmore: Mt. Rushmore was a San Francisco band who released two albums on Dot. They played the Fillmore and the Avalon many times, and were regular performers in the Bay Area.


Nymbus: The group is unknown to me.


Old Davis: Old Davis was a South Bay band that had been together since at least 1968. In 1970, their guitarist was a teenage sensation named Neal Schon, who promptly joined Santana (after turning down Eric Clapton), but Schon would not have been in the band at this time.


Red Grass, Green Smoke: The group is unknown to me.


Rubber Maze: The group is unknown to me.

Rising Tide: The group is unknown to me.

Rejoice: The group is unknown to me, although I have some their name on other handbills. 

Sunrise: The group is unknown to me.

Sable: The group is unknown to me.

Sons of Champlin: The Sons of Champlin were one of Marin's finest bands, who had already released two albums on Capitol. However, the world wasn't quite ready for the swinging, ultra-musical Sons, and they did not have the following they might have had later. The group has intermittently broken up and gotten back together, but fortunately they have remained active since the late 1990s. Lead singer/organist Bill Champlin was a member of Chicago from 1981-2009.


Sounds Unlimited Blues Band: The Sounds Unlimited Blues Band was a San Francisco group that featured singer Robert Lazaneo and lead guitarist Jorge Santana (Carlos's younger brother). Jorge left at the end of 1969 and went on to success with the group Malo.


Sandy Bull: Sandy Bull (1941-2001) was a unique musician, playing guitar and other stringed instruments in a style that would have been called "World Music" if the term had been invented. He was a very influential guitarist in the early 1960s, not least because he was one of the first to overdub numerous guitars (and other instruments) to create unique compositions. Bull generally performed solo, but with tapes and loop effects that gave him a different sound.


The Steve Miller Band: The Steve Miller Band were regular headliners at The Fillmore West, and had played at the Folk Rock Festival at the Fairgrounds. Miller and his band (bassist Lonnie Turner and drummer Tim Davis) dropped by the free festival to play some blues.


Stoned Fox: The group is unknown to me.


South Bay Experimental Flash: The South Bay Experimental Flash were a funky jazz-rock band from Richmond. They, too, were regulars at Berkeley's New Orleans House. Some members of the group ended up in Norton Buffalo's Stampede, as Buffalo (also from Richmond) made his stage debut at The New Orleans House at age 17, sitting in with the band.


Throckmorton: Throckmorton were a San Jose band. Lead singer Chris Mosher was also instrumental in helping to put on the festival.


Tree Of Life: The group is unknown to me, but they appear to be a San Jose area band.


Weird Herald: Weird Herald was a psychedelic folk rock band from San Jose, featuring guitarists Billy Dean Andrus and Paul Ziegler. They put out a 45 on Onyx Records in 1968 ("Saratoga James"/"Just Yesterday"). After the demise of Weird Herald, guitarist Paul Ziegler, an old pal of Jorma Kaukonen's, was in an early version of Hot Tuna, around 1970. Guitarist and vocalist Billy Dean Andrus had worked with Pat Simmons (and later with Skip Spence in a band called Pachuco), but he died in 1970.  Both the Doobie Brothers "Black Water" and Hot Tuna's "Ode To Billy Dean" are tributes to him.


Womb: Womb was a jazzy psychedelic band whose lengthy compositions bordered on progressive rock. They released two albums on Dot in 1969. Lead singer Rory Butcher had been in The Hedds.


Warren Purcell: Thanks to a Commenter, we know that Warren Purcell was a country singer from San Jose. He performed at the Grand Ole Opry, and also played with a Las Vegas-based touring band. He passed away in 2002.


San Jose had a substantial country music scene that dated back before World War 2, and continued on through the 1960s, and there was a popular San Jose country music station (KEEN-AM 1370, which opened in 1947). There were many fine players in that circuit, although they tended not to be famous outside of the region. By the 1970s, when some of the more agricultural communities around the Bay Area were converted to suburbs, the musical audience evolved as well towards more rock and soul orientations. Purcell's performance at the Aquarian Festival was a rare known instance of a San Jose country performer appearing at a hippie rock event.


Zephyr Grove: The group is unknown to me.


Honorable Mention-Jimi Hendrix: Jimi Hendrix didn't play the Aquarian Family Festival, but not for lack of trying. Hendrix headlined the huge Folk Rock Festival at the Fairgrounds, and as such came on last on Sunday afternoon (May 25) to close the show. After his set, he brought his guitar over to the Aquarian stage, hoping to jam, only to find that the stage was being broken down and the generator unplugged. 


Given that there was 72 hours of continuous music, this can not have been all the performers who played. Anyone who recalls other performers, or performed themselves, should contact me or Comment.

24 comments:

  1. I've seen a scan of a poster that has a group called Rubber Maze opening for the Doors and Iron Butterfly at the Santa Monica Civic July 3 , 1967? 8?

    ReplyDelete
  2. What I love about the Internet is that we will figure it all out eventually

    ReplyDelete
  3. For Erik: the year of the Santa Monica Civic gig is 1967.

    For Corry: Rubber Maze was a West Texas quartet with one single released: 'Mrs. Griffiths / Won't See Me Down' (Ruff 1098,99) 1968.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Birth: The band supported Paul Butterfield & Michael Bloomfield at the Fillmore West on March 27-30, 1969

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks Bruno.

    Also, Rejoice is probably the group with the album Rejoice! on Dunhill led by Tom and Nancy Brown from somewhere in Marin. I found this on the Dunhill discography site a while back...

    "My name is Michael Patrick Moore. I was the original drummer for Rejoice. We were signed by Jay Lasker, president of the Dunhill label at the time, and we originally went into the studio with Terry Melcher as producer. That was April 1968. While in the middle of our third or fourth song, Terry's father passed away and Terry was gone for about a week. Eventually, we went back to Marin County. Months later, Tom and Nancy Brown, the singers and main songwriters, went back to L.A. with Steve Barri as producer and completed the Rejoice album using studio musicians: Hal Blaine (drums), Joe Osborne (bass) and Larry Knechtel (piano)"

    ReplyDelete
  6. About Rejoice you're right Erik! The album was released on January 1969 and the song 'Golden Gate Park' hit #96 for one week in Billboard!

    ReplyDelete
  7. This from Warren Purcell's daughter in Texas...

    "That would be my dad. He was from San Jose California. He was a hell of a country singer. He passed away in 2002 in Eastern Nevada at the age of 68."

    Warren apparently played the Grand 'Ol Opry and later with "with one of the top touring country/rock bands" in Las Vegas.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Erik, that's some fantastic research. I updated the post accordingly. There was a huge country music scene in San Jose, and its gone largely undocumented--its great to see the crossover.

    Thanks for the comments. Like I said further up the thread, we're going to figure it all out eventually.

    ReplyDelete
  9. "Purcell's performance at the Aquarian Festival was a rare known instance of a San Jose country performer appearing at a hippie rock event."

    Love these comments on the SJ country scene and the issue of crossover. I only really think about it based on JGB's performance at the Saddle Rack in 1982, an encounter of alternative worlds that seems to have generated some interesting stories.

    ReplyDelete
  10. San Jose and Fremont were the centers of two big agricultural communities (plus they are next to each other), and WW2 defense work bought a lot of Southerners and Southwesterns to the South Bay as well. Did you know that Bob Wills lived in California in the 40s, as there was so much work in both SoCal and NorCal?

    I'd forgotten about Garcia at the Saddlerack. I'd love to hear some of the stories. The other big San Jose Country/SF Rock connection was through Commander Cody--their steel guitarist Bobby Black, was a mainstay in SJ Country bands throughout the 1960s.

    ReplyDelete
  11. From a friend who grew up with them...

    "Nymbus were a trio from Hayward and featured Joel Anderson on lead guitar and Mike Faloon on bass. They played original music and Joel was our local Jeff Beck or Jimmy Page. He had that British Blues rock thing down. I remember when I first heard Led Zeppelin I thought Page sounded like Joel. They were at their peak around 1968/69 and played regularly at the dances at the Rec Hall at George Weeks Park. They did some small festivals and east bay gigs. Joel later was a part of a group called "The Awesome Light Band." I remember seeing their picture in early issues of "BAM.""


    There's also a little info in Bruce Tahsler's book...

    "In 68 Tennyson High classmates Filloon and Mikes formed Nymbus. Some of their first gigs were at Weeks Park, several hs dances, and the IDES Hall with the Staton Bros. They also performed at the New Monk which became the Keystone. The band used a vacant farmhouse in Union City for rehearsals.

    In 1969 the group moved to Berkeley where they lived in an apt. above the Monkey's Paw Bar. Later that year they performed at the Santa Clara Pop Festival. "

    Anderson apparently joined Maze later on...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Erik, my name is Brian Miller. Joel, Mike & I formed Nymbus. I was the drummer. I left the band a couple of months before Nymbus broke up. During that time, Darrell Miles played drums. Joel & I in 1971 formed a band with Jim Riddle on bass and Cecil Wells on guitar and lead vocals & decided to use the name Nymbus again. Bruce Tahsler interviewed Joel regarding Nymbus for his book but got some of the names & dates confused. Unfortunately, he never gave Joel a copy of what he had written to proof, prior to publishing it. When Cecil left, Joel & I formed The Awesome Light Band.

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Brian (and Erik).
      I've been wondering about Mike Faloon (is that the correct spelling?) for years.
      Before he joined Nymbus, switching to bass, I heard him play guitar with a band of Sunset High guys named the Fleshtones - who might not have even had a name yet. This was when I was 14 or 15, about '68/'69.
      He was fantastic - had all that Clapton and Peter Green stuff down. He rejoined some of the Fleshtone members (post Nymbus departure) in a band called Whammy Douglas, named after drummer Walt Jachec's nickname. Walt and Fleshtones singer/guitarist Dave Nelson were in Times 5.
      Does anyone know where Faloon is today and if he's still musically active?
      Thanks,
      Dan Forte

      Delete
  12. Zephyr Grove was Christian rocker Randy Stonehill's early band. He was from San Jose and palled around with Larry Norman of People...

    Found this online....

    "While going to Leigh High School in San Jose (California) in his junior year, Randy Stonehill (pre Born-Again) formed a rather impressive musical act named ZEPHYR GROVE. Randy's musical genius was the basis of their sound that featured Stonehill originals among cover songs of the day by artists such as The Beatles, The Band, Odetta, Simon & Garfunkel, Buffalo Springfield, Neil Young...and Randy's rock favorites, Led Zeppelin among many others. With Randy on his nylon stringed classic guitar (brand name GOYA) flourishing polyrhythmic lead lines with a percussive accompaniment, rhythm guitarist (acoustic steel string) and sometime- violinist David West counter pointed and syncopated with his finger-picking technique and offered harmony vocals. The supporting foundation was provided by upright bass viol journeyman and Falcon wagon driver, Peter Manley, bass vocal accompaniest and, like West, a year Senior to Stonehill. Now the best element of this irreverent, iconic acoustic aggregation was the angelic Karen Weichardt playing flute, ocarina and Turkish oud (until it became illegal). Karen was also an accomplished sound effects artist providing a memorable rendition of a shovel-head Harley Davidson for the song "Motorcycle Irene" by Moby Grape. "

    ReplyDelete
  13. The Tree of Life may have been David Ladd Anderson's band. Says he was kicked out of People! in '66 and started a group called Tree of Life. He also says he was in groups called The Cavaliers, The Black Watch, and South Bay Experimental Flash while at San Jose State. Later did music for the Winchester Mystery House!

    http://scw.tearn.com/2010/01/getting-to-know-david-ladd-anderson.html
    http://www.davidladdmusic.com/allstars.html


    "Dave Anderson, came from a home with liberal Socialistic roots and he helped run his family's poultry farm in Morgan Hill. Good looking Dave Anderson was stage manager and announcer for San Jose's most influential and hip folk club The Offstage. He would regularly introduce nationally know touring folk acts and local Bay Area folk acts like Janis Joplin, Jerry Garcia, Paul Kauntner,David Frieberg, and Jorma Kaukonen who had not become International Rock Stars yet and were at that time playing acoustic music. He also managed a famous folk club near La Honda, and while there he had met Ken Kesey and other wild members of his bus troupe acid testers who lived nearby. Connected, cool,and amazingly the right man at the right place, Dave was a man of integrity and knew exactly what his personal musical direction would be. What he artisticly aspired to had a social consiousness perspective along the musical lines of Bob Dylan, P.F. Sloan, or the Jefferson Airplane."

    ReplyDelete
  14. Erik, you've solved an interesting mystery for me. The South Bay Experimental Flash were based in Richmond, and I never understood why an East Bay band was called "The South Bay Experimental Flash." But of course if they were formed in San Jose, it makes perfect sense.

    I also knew that David Ladd's flute playing was a big influence on Richmond teenager Norton Buffalo (he would jam with SBEF), but I never could figure out how David Ladd sort of disappeared. But of course that isn't his real name, its David Anderson. Great research!

    ReplyDelete
  15. The South Bay Experimental Flash played regularly in the San Jose area in 1969. They opened for the Dead on Halloween in the Loma Prieta Room in the San Jose State College (as it was called at the time) Student Union , and then played the new old Fillmore with them a week later. According to the SJSU Spartan Daily, both bands played in front of silent screenings of two Halloween themed films, Billy the Kid vs. Dracula and Godzilla vs. the Thing.

    Regarding Zephyr Grove - I believe David West is the same guy who became a mainstay of the bluegrass based Cache Valley Drifters and who now accompanies Moby Grape's Peter Lewis on his 'solo' gigs.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Here it says a group called Devine Madness played with Mixed Company Coffee and New Buffalo Springfield at the Eureka Municipal Auditorium May 31, '69. Maybe NBS met them in San Jose when they played the Teen Expo at SC Fairgrounds a couple months before?

    http://issuu.com/rokpool/docs/buffalo_springfield_folkrock

    ReplyDelete
  17. Corry

    Nymbus - East Bay area group power trio formed in 1968 then became a four piece in 1970. You can read about them here: http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=TpmJhh2jTJ8C&pg=PA63&lpg=PA63&dq=Nymbus+group+1970&source=bl&ots=GXnnwUpa6n&sig=Zu7oBLfVDybXrgKP6wzeLoDW7sw&hl=en#v=onepage&q&f=true just scroll down through the book. And .... more importantly you can hear them here: http://vimeo.com/34981094 and I think they sound bloody great ! Thank our mate Gray Newell for finding that last link.

    Regards

    Anthony Harland

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Erik, my name is Brian Miller. Joel, Mike & I formed Nymbus. I was the drummer. I left the band a couple of months before Nymbus broke up. During that time, Darrell Miles played drums. Joel & I in 1971 formed a band with Jim Riddle on bass and Cecil Wells on guitar and lead vocals & decided to use the name Nymbus again. Bruce Tahsler interviewed Joel regarding Nymbus for his book but got some of the names & dates confused. Unfortunately, he never gave Joel a copy of what he had written to proof, prior to publishing it. When Cecil left, Joel & I formed The Awesome Light Band. Thanks for posting the link to the recently released Nymbus Live at the Livermore Veterans Hall 1970 record. Glad that you liked it. A cd of the performance with more songs is planned for release in the next few months. There are also two songs on iTunes available to download.

      Delete
  18. Sorry Anthony. I copied what I had written to Erik and forgot to change his name to yours.

    ReplyDelete
  19. i was at the gig in late may 1969..i came up from la to go to the commercial gig at the fair grounds...i heard about the free gig sponsered by dirt cheap dozen...therefore i divided my time between both events..i still recall the jefferson airplane's late night set at the free gig

    ReplyDelete
  20. David Anderson from San Jose's Offstage and the Humans can be found at http://www.the-moon.com/

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hi. I was a young kid at the time and remember the event. My dad Jerome Lackner was the doctor on staff. Does anyone out there have any photos from the festival? I'd love to see if my dad is in any of them.

    ReplyDelete