Sunday, May 30, 2010

Initial Shock Performance List 1967-69 (Work In Progress)

(a poster for the Steppenwolf/Ace Of Cups/Initial Shock concert at the Sound Factory, Sacremento, CA on July 12-13, 1968. h/t Ross for the scan)

The Initial Shock were one of many bands who moved to San Francisco in 1967, but were more or less alone insofar as having been the only band who moved from Montana. Apparently the group was from Missoula, MT and featured members of local groups The Chosen Few and Mojos Mark IV, and at least one member was assigned to an Air Force base in the area. When the Air Force commitment was over, the band decided to move to San Francisco to be where the action was.

The  Initial Shock released two singles, but no albums.  The first, "Mind Disaster"/"Its Not Easy" (BFD 036), was recorded in Montana and released in 1966. The second, rarer single "You Been A Long Time Comin'"/I Once Asked" (BFD 2022) was released in 1967. I know nothing about the record label nor details of the recordings.

The Initial Shock was well regarded by those who were there at the time, although unfortunately the only live recorded evidence that circulates (to my knowledge) is an excellent 4-song piece of an Avalon Ballroom concert from 1968. It reveals a driving, bluesy sound, but its hard to know how representative of their material it might be. Members of the group were

George Wallace-lead guitar
William "Mojo" Collins-guitar, vocals
Steve Garr-bass
Brian Knaff-drums, vocals

While relatively little is known about the Initial Shock, they played a number of interesting shows in the Bay Area from 1967-69. I gather from various signs and portents that a journal of great importance (in my tiny Universe) will be doing an extensive article on the Initial Shock, so it seemed like a good time to begin trying to determine a list of Bay Area performance for The Initial Shock. As with most groups, it is easiest to find the most high profile shows, where posters or other evidence survives, and that may be only a small portion of a band's performances. Nonetheless, here is the information I have so far. Anyone who has additions, corrections, insights or recovered memories (real or imagined) about Initial Shock performances in the Bay Area is encouraged to Comment or email me.

Initial Shock Performance List 1967-69

September 24, 1967 Provo Park, Berkeley: Initial Shock
Free Sunday concerts in Provo Park (on Grove and Allston downtown) were a regular occurrence in Berkeley, and provided a good opportunity for new or newly-arrived bands to get heard.

October 4, 1967 Straight Theater, San Francisco: Mad River/Mount Rushmore/Anonymous Artists of America/Initial Shock
October 5, 1967 Straight Theater, San Francisco: Sopwith Camel/Black Swan/Hair/Frumious Bandersnatch/Don Garrett/Initial Shock
This was a benefit for the Haight Ashbury Medical Center.  Various poets, dancers and other performers were also part of the show.

October 7, 1967 Western Front, San Francisco:  Sons of Champlin/Frumious Bandersnatch/Initial Shock
The Western Front was one of many attempts to open a psychedelic ballroom in San Francisco. The venue, at 895 O'Farrell (at Polk), never managed to find its footing.

Although I can find no Initial Shock shows until December, I assume they were playing around various places--I just haven't figured out where.

December 1-3, 1967 Western Front, San Francisco: Youngbloods/Wildflower/Initial Shock
The Initial Shock returned to The Western Front, although its my belief that there were different promoters at this point.

December 19, 1967-January 15, 1968: Northwest Holiday Tour
Ross Hannan found a remarkable ad in the Berkeley Barb of December 22, 1967, announcing that the Initial Shock would be returning to San Francisco on January 16, "After 28 Consecutive One Night Stands."

I don't know where or how the band played 28 straight nights, including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. If this is true and not hyperbole, I have to assume they played ski resorts in places like Idaho. Given the band's Montana background, they may have gone as far afield as Montana as well.

I assume that Initial Shock had shows booked when they returned to San Francisco, but we have yet to uncover them.

March 16, 1968  Straight Theater, San Francisco: Flamin Groovies/Initial Shock

May 12, 1968 Civic Center Plaza, San Francisco: Kaleidoscope/Initial Shock/Country Weather/AB Skhy Blues Band
This was a daytime show.  It was a benefit for Haight-Ashbury Free Medical Clinic.

May 28, 1968  Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco: Crystal Syphon/Phoenix/Indian Head Band/Mint Tattoo/Initial Shock/Loading Zone
“Spring Medicine Show” Benefit for The Haight Ashbury Free Medical Clinic

June 28-30, 1968 Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco: Steve Miller Band/Buddy Guy/Initial Shock 
This show was advertised (a poster exists) but did not take place.

July 3, 1968 Straight Theater, San Francisco: Initial Shock/Allmen Joy/Indian Head Band/Phoenix

July 12, 1968 Cow Palace, Daly City: Iron Butterfly/Creedence Clearwater Revival/Vanilla Fudge/Kai Moore/Canned Heat/Sweet Rush/West/Sandy Bull  
Harmony Benefit  
A variant poster has Sandy Bull, Canned Heat, Vanilla Fudge, Iron Butterfly, West, Initial Shock, Wedge and Phoenix. Of course, Initial Shock was booked in Sacramento (below), but given that its less than two hours from San Francisco to Sacramento, they could easily have played both shows. However, since absolutely nothing is known about this Benefit, I have no idea who actually played.

July 12-13, 1968 Sound Factory, Sacramento: Steppenwolf/Ace of Cups/Initial Shock
The Sound Factory, at 1817 Alhambra, was a newly-opened venue run by Whitey Davis, the former proprietor of Portland's Crystal Ballroom as well as a critical figure at the Avalon Ballroom. This was one of the earliest shows at the Sound Factory (it appears to have opened on June 28--the July 12-13 poster is up top).

July 14, 1968 Balconades Ballroom, San Jose: Initial Shock/Womb/Phoenix/Freedom Highway/Rejoice/Day Blindness/Fritz Rabyne/Marble Gardens/Pure Funk/Uncut Balloon
The Balconades was on an upper floor of The Lyndon Building (built 1882), at 181 W. Santa Clara St. After time as a printing press for a newspapers, it had been turned into a ballroom (probably in the 1920s). It had been part of a Country and Western circuit for performers like Hank Williams and Bob Wills, back when San Jose was an agricultural center and the biggest radio station (KEEN 1370 AM) played country music.  There were a few rock shows at Balconades in 1968, although this appears to be one of the last ones.

Most of the groups at this Sunday event were club bands that played around, but weren't yet at the Avalon level. "Fritz Rabyne" was probably the Fritz Rabyne Memorial Band, a Menlo Park band that featured former Menlo-Atherton High School students Lindsay Buckingham and Stephanie (Stevie) Nicks.

July 26-27, 1968 New Orleans House, Berkeley: Initial Shock/Shiva’s Head Band
The New Orleans House, at 1505 San Pablo Avenue, was Berkeley's premier club for rock bands that played original music.

August 16-17, 1968 Sound Factory, Sacramento: Pink Floyd/Initial Shock/AB Skhy Blues Band
Road manager George Crowe (see his Comment) recalls opening for Pink Floyd in Sacramento.

August 2-4, 1968 Fillmore West, San Francisco: Iron Butterfly/Canned Heat/Initial Shock 

 (the Roger Weil poster for FD135, August 29-31 at the Avalon. h/t Ross for the scan)
August 29-31, 1968 Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco: Youngbloods/It’s A Beautiful Day/Initial Shock

October 18-20, 1968 Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco: Velvet Underground/Charley Musselwhite/Initial Shock

October 31-November 2, 1968 The Ark, Sausalito Initial Shock/Devil's Kitchen/White Lightning
A flyer recently turned up on eBay. The flyer says "Boogie--Ball." Perhaps the Marin band Boogie was on the bill, or perhaps it was just an invocation. Devil's Kitchen were recently arrived from Carbondale, IL.

The Ark was a grounded steamer docked on Gate 6 in Sausalito. It was a hippie rock club and hangout, mostly open on weekends (Halloween was a Thursday this year).

November 8-9, 1968 New Orleans House, Berkeley: Initial Shock/Orion

November 28-30, 1968 Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco: Quicksilver Messenger Service/Sons of Champlin/Initial Shock
The Avalon Ballroom had one more show after these that was still under Chet Helm's aegis, when Big Brother headlined (December 1, 1968), but Helms had to give up the lease on the Avalon due to financial difficulties and a struggle to get a Dance Permit.

The Avalon would reopen in March 1969, and members of Initial Shock were apparently part of the Avalon management team. This is just one of many tantalizing bits of history that makes their definitive story so worth looking forward to. 


December 5, 1968 New Committee Theatre, San Francisco: Initial Shock/Aum/Notes From The Underground
December 6, 1968 New Committee Theatre, San Francisco: Initial Shock/Devils Kitchen/Sanpaku
December 7, 1968 New Committee Theatre, San Francisco: Initial Shock/Notes From The Underground/Sanpaku

The New Committee Theatre was at 836 Montgomery. The Committee (an improvisational comedy troupe) was the main performer there, but various rock shows were held as well.

December 20-21, 1968  Sound Factory, Sacramento: Initial Shock/Salloom Sinclair & Mama Bear

Although I recognize that I have only been capturing highlights of the Initial Shock's bookings in 1967 and '68, the trail runs pretty dry in 1969. Given that some members of the group--perhaps all--were involved in the management of the Avalon Ballroom when it re-opened on March 21, 1969, perhaps that had an effect, but the revised Avalon only lasted until April 6, so the final year of the Initial Shock remains vague. I have to assume there were many more shows than are listed here.

January 17-18, 1969 The Matrix, San Francisco: Initial Shock

February 28-March 1, 1969 New Orleans House, Berkeley: Initial Shock/Welliver Fields

March 26-30, 1969 Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco 
Jef Jaisun and the Slow Truck, Santana, AAA, It's A Beautiful Day, All Men Joy, Youngbloods, Country Weather, Welliver Fields, Initial Shock, AB Skhy, Linn County, Conqueroo, Frumious Bandersnatch, Fourth Way, Melting Pot, Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band, Clover, Shades of Joy, Alice Cooper, Pure Funk
The poster lists all the bands who will play over four nights, so I assume Initial Shock played some but not all of the shows, but I do not know for certain.

May 15-17, 1969 New Orleans House, Berkeley: Ace Of Cups/Initial Shock
The trail runs cold after this point, and future published revelations will be welcome.

Lead guitarist George Wallace apparently went on to work with Janis Joplin. Lead singer and guitarist Bill "Mojo" Collins went on to play in the group Sawbuck with Ronnie Montrose (they helped close the Fillmore West on June 29, 1971), but he relocated to Coastal North Carolina in late 1971. He remains an active and successful performer in the greater Wilmington area today.

This is a work in progress. Anyone with additional information about Initial Shock performances is encouraged to Comment or email me.

30 comments:

  1. Hey Corry: My name is George A, Crowe and I was friends with the band and prior bands that the members were in. I was like the fifth Beatle and was the road managerfor IS. I was a very close friend with George Wallace for over 50 years right up until his death in 2004. You should know that Steve Garr passed last year. George Wallace , Myself and Brian Knaff went on to form the band Yellowstone after the break up of Initial Shock. And after that George and I formed The Invaders which led to a rockin album with Jerry roslie from the Sonics and we released Sonics 80's which has become a classic record. I am in contact with Brian and Mojo on a regular basis and we are doing an interview with Ugly Things Magazine currently. Only Mojo and I are actively playing music and Brian is a multi millionaire Talent Booking Agent who owns his own company in Las Vegas and Minneapolis.

    One concert you forgot was playing at the Sound Factory in Sacremento with Pink Floyd and we played the Matrix many times too. We played in golden Gate Park lots of times with the Airplane and Janis. I think that the one band we played with more than anybody was the Youngbloods and Janis. My email address is montanaredneck2002@yahoo.com if you want to email me and I will give you Brian's contacts and Mojo's too.

    Best,

    George A. Crowe

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  3. 1) AB Skhy Blues Band was also billed with IA and Pink Floyd at the Sound Factory on August 16-17, 1968

    2) Initial Shock was from Missoula not from
    Butte (the latter is only the city were they recorded their first single in 1966).

    3) Steve Garr (real name: George Garr) was member of The Chosen Few (with George A. Crowe) while Wallace, Collins and Knaff was members of the Mojo's Mark IV.

    4) George A. Crowe join them in San Francisco in 1968.

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  4. I can confirm January 16 and 17, 1969 as suggested by George and I would be really interested in any more Matrix dates. Somewhere I have a publicity poster which I recall has the band on one side and simply a giant IS on the other. I should be able to find some more shows when time allows. Ross

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  5. Bruno, thanks for the heads up about Missoula vs Butte. Missoula is more of a college town, so it makes sense.

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  6. I have a couple of big IS newsprint posters with blank backs, maybe they were made to be used that way?

    Oh, and I'm the guy writing the piece for UT.

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  7. Erik, I'm looking forward to the Initial Shock article in Ugly Things. What little I know about IS always seemed intriguing, and UT is the best possible forum.

    It seemed like a good time to make a show list. Thanks for checking in.

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  8. And I can account for 28 additional, and consecutive, "one night stands" in December 1967 and January 1968. A nifty little ad appears in the Barb saying that the band will be returning to San Francisco from their "Northwest Holiday Tour" on January 16. A copy is in the post. Erik - as ever I am looking forward to your article. Ross

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  9. This just in from Gene Sculatti...

    "Believe I saw Initial Shock at a one-off Palace of Fine Arts show in SF... Used to have this metallic-mirrored poster for that event, which was an unusual show for that venue; they had some arts exhibit and a couple of rock bands. Wish I could remember who else was on the bill. My guess is it was 1969 or '70. Maybe as early as '68."

    Another show? George?

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  10. Must be this. Brian Knaff told me they played any chance they could so lots of benefits...

    "Palace of Fine Arts Festival, 8/30-9/2/68, Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco (benefit for Haight Ashbury Free Medical Clinic and The Athaneum Arts Foundation. This was one of those big S.F. events where everybody who was anybody played. The poster is 13.5" x 24" and is printed on silver foil paper with a collage of various images of the classical columns at the Palace of Fine Arts. Unfortunately, the bands and other performers are not listed on the poster, but they printed separate handbills for each day of the show and these handbills do list the performers who include Grateful Dead, Big Brother, Quicksilver, Santana, Steve Miller, Kaleidoscope, and the Sons of Champlin, to name only a few. Three of the 4 individual handbills are illustrated in The Art of Rock, pl. 2.237, 2.238, and 2.239. "

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  11. That would make sense. Initial Shock wasn't listed on the poster, but the actual bands who played were quite different than what was on the poster anyway.

    The last day was canceled, as many of the scheduled participants were heading up to Seattle for the first Sky River Rock Festival.

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  13. September 24, 1967: Frumious Bandersnatch also played using Initial Shock's PA System.

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  14. October 31-November 2, 1968: Boogie was the band. There is a list of performers on the newspaper 'San Francisco Examiner'(Oct. 31, 1968).

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  15. New show:

    Fall 1969: Adams Field House, University of Montana, Missoula, MT with Canned Heat

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  16. Hi, I have a concert poster by Rick Griffin (a version of the Aoxomoxoa cover for the Avalon Ballroom, Janaury (sic)24/25/26 1969 featuring the Grateful Dead, Sons of Champlin and Initial Shock. It was published in London in 1976 to accompany an exhibition of Griffin's artwork at The Roundhouse (where the Doors and Airplane played in '68).
    If the Avalon was closed in January 1969 maybe the concert was booked but never took place.
    If you'd like a jpeg of the poster email me on gren.nation@gmail.com.
    All the best
    Gren Nation, Brighton UK.

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  17. Gren - The shows did indeed take place at the Avalon Ballroom (although they are not Family Dog shows) and they are missing off the list. I also see that the March 21-23 Avalon shows featuring Santana, Sons of Champlin and Dancing Food & Entertainment also seem to have slipped under the rada. At that time, the new managers of tha Avalon were Brian Knapp (of the Initial Shock) and Bob Simmons & Gary Scanalin (of the old Family Dog). I remember the Roundhouse Exhibition well with Rick Griffin signing the set of four posters for me. Ross

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  18. Knaff told me he was more of a silent partner. He procured funds to reopen the Avalon but didn't have any say in managing or booking per se.

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  19. I found some information about Initial Shock's activity during the March-April '68 period. In his Chronicle column of April 12, 1968, Ralph Gleason writes "The Initial Shock has just come back from a series of engagements in the East and returns there April 25 for appearances at The Cheetah in New York."

    Other information in Gleason's columns around that time suggests that Initial Shock was booked at a benefit concert at the Palace Of Fine Arts in San Francisco on Sunday, April 14, 1968, headlined by Big Brother and Quicksilver. I think the concert was never actually played.

    Initial Shock was also booked at the Lion's Share in Sausalito (not San Anselmo) from Sunday Apr 14 through Saturday April 20. Thus for this period it appears the list is

    late March-early April 68: Easter tour
    April 14, 1968: Palace of Fine Arts (canceled)
    April 14-20: Lion's Share, San Anselmo
    April 25>: The Cheetah, NYC

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  20. Corry,

    In April 14, 1968 Initial Shock played at the Carousel Ballroom with Big Brother and The Holding Company, Quicksilver Messenger Service and Gospal Singers also on the bill. This was a "Haight-Ashbury Clinic Benefit".

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  21. The Initial Shock is indeed a Missoula, Montana band, since all of the members lived there. In my late teens and early 20's, many a mystical night was spent listening to the band live at the University of Montana, usually at the student union. The band backed The Raiders and many other well known bands that played at the U, and for the period that I was going with lead guitar George Wallace's little sister, Susan, it was my fortune to meet many of them at after parties (I've kept to myself and close friends some funny stories about many!). The band returned to play at the U after having spent some time in SF backing varies bands, including the Spoonful whose influence on George was obvious when he appeared wearing round glasses and playing the autoharp so well that we wondered if it was actually Sebastian.

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  22. An additional IS show:
    December 17, 1967: Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA Country Joe and The Fish, Phoenix, Mt Rushmore, Mad River, Initial Shock (Agit-Pop)

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  23. Bruno refers to a Fall 1969 show with Canned Heat at University of Montana. I think by the they had broken up. I have a listing for a Yellowstone (George Wallace, George Crowe & Brian Knaff) show at the New Decorating Experience in Billings on Saturday October 11, 1969.

    I do have a listing for Initial Shock with Canned Heat on Friday May 23, 1969 and with Brown Sugar on Saturday May 24, 1969 in Missoula at the University of Montana Adams Field House

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  24. You're right Greg (aka TourArchive) about the exact date of Initial Shock and Canned Heat show at the University of Montana. Thanks for this new info, I correct my "Canned Heat Shows List" accordingly.

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  25. Re the October 31-November 2, 1968 show. George Crowe mentioned his brother was in a band called White Lightning. Not sure if this was the group. Or if George's brother was in the Colorado White Lightnin'. Or...

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    1. It wasn't George's bro at these shows.

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  26. Re the Palace of Fine Arts show. I've seen a photo of IS posing at the Palace, but not on stage. The band remembers playing the gig though and Gene Sculatti told me he remembers seeing them there for the first time, describing them as "punky" and "Yardbirds-ish."

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  27. In the 11-11-12 issue of The Missoulian, the Initial Shock is pictured in one of their promotional photos from back in the day....There is a two full page feature in the Territory section regarding Montana bands from the 50's to the 70's...Nice to see the Initial Shock front and center and being given the credit they deserve as pioneers of a new direction in music....An aside ...There was another Montana band that made the journey to San Francisco..Barry and the Jaywalkers ...Their story was cut short when Barry was nearly killed in a horrific car crash...By the time he had healed,the scene was over (Altamont) and he returned to Montana,and lives in Missoula...He still has some of his music and hearing it brings one back to a place and time we can only dream about...I also have a Montana friend who went to S.F.and played in the pH Factor Jug Band,but he went down there by himself...

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  28. I have a poster advertising performances by Initial Shock and Brown Sugar on May 29, 30 & 31, 1969...the poster has a background of marijuana and joints spelling out 'Montana Tea Party'...the venues were 29-Grand Avenue Billings, 30-Montana State Univ., Bozeman and 31-Butte Civic Center...it is a San Andreas Fault poster printed by San Francisco's famous Bindweed Press

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  29. Though you can barely read the word "Initial" spelled out in bombs, "Shock" is obvious in a poster for the Sound Factory also advertising the Hourglass and Curley Cook on the weekend of 9/13-14 and 1968. The non-profit Sacramento Rock and Radio Museum is looking for a copy of this poster, as all we have now is a small jpeg of the original art. www.sacrockmuseum.org

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