Friday, August 11, 2023

2504 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA: The Long Branch Saloon, January-June 1972 Performers List (Long Branch II)

The former site of The Long Branch Saloon in Berkeley, as it appeared in 2009
2504 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA: The Long Branch Saloon, January-June 1972 Performers List
By 1971, the live rock music market was evolving, and lots of entrepreneurs were noticing. Rock music had always been the province of teenagers, of course. But 60s rock music, with the likes of the Beatles, Bob Dylan and Cream, had raised the ante. Rock music fans didn't just "move on" when they turned 18. Those kids who were 15 when the Beatles had played Ed Sullivan in 1964 were past drinking age by 1971. They were still listening to rock music, and they took it seriously. And while every rock fan wanted to see the most popular bands when they came to town, their options were expanding.

Rock fans in their 20s probably had a job, and a few more dollars than when they were teenagers. They also didn't have parents constraining them, and they could drink. They weren't going to go to the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, but going on a date to a club where you could drink beer and dance was starting to seem like a viable idea.

In 1971, the University of California at Berkeley was expanding. It had never been a small school, but in the early 70s they added more and more students. California parents realized their kids could get a prestigious Ivy League-quality degree for the bargain price of around $212.50 a quarter. When those students graduated, many of them stuck around Berkeley. Rock music in the 60s had been oriented towards the Fillmore West and other big dance halls, but by the early 70s nightclubs were starting to book original bands, too. The city of Berkeley had lots of young people, a town that didn't object to long-haired hippies, and a generally central location. 

There had been music clubs in Berkeley since World War 2, of course. But as the 70s dawned, the various music clubs in Berkeley started to evolve. The New Monk, near campus at University and Shattuck, shifted from being a fraternity hangout to a rock nightclub, and by the next year it would become the Keystone Berkeley. 2 miles South and West of the New Monk, Malcolm Williams ran Babylon, but he had big plans, too. In May, 1971, Williams doubled the size of Babylon, and re-opened it as The Long Branch.

The Long Branch had a capacity of about 350. Ironically, the biggest club in the Bay Area would be the Keystone Berkeley, just 2 miles from the Long Branch. The New Monk, at 2119 University, mainly a frat beer joint, would be taken over in 1972 by Freddie Herrera and become the Keystone Berkeley. The Keystone Berkeley officially held 476, but it was widely felt that more people were regularly crammed in. Thanks to regular performances throughout the 70s by Jerry Garcia, Tower Of Power, Elvin Bishop and others, the Keystone Berkeley became the premier nightclub gig in the Bay Area until about 1977. 

The back of a Long Branch flyer, October '73 (thanks to Lydia Frazier Bosley), encouraging patrons to hang out at the club

Bands would build a following at the Long Branch, and the bands that headlined weekends at the Branch would play weeknights at the Keystone Berkeley, with a built-in audience. Although it's hard to be sure, I think the Long Branch crowd lived relatively near the club, and was in the just-over-21 bracket. The Long Branch was definitely a hard-rocking club, with loud bands and patrons who liked to dance, with less of the University overlay that was included in the Keystone Berkeley audience. The Keystone was right near campus, so it's audience was broader but to some extent more snobby. The Long Branch was in West Berkeley, and less pretentious.

As a result, the Long Branch ended up being a sort of farm team for the Keystone Berkeley. That wasn't a bad thing, necessarily, for the bands themselves. Keystone Berkeley and Long Branch didn't have identical crowds. The Keystone was nearer to campus, and at least on weekends drew people from Alameda, Contra Costa and Marin counties. The Long Branch had a little bit younger crowd who just liked to go out, and probably mostly lived around Berkeley. 

At the Long Branch, mostly the same bands played the club over and over. If a band could build an audience at Long Branch, the expectation was that their own regulars would see the band over and over. Earth Quake, for example, the archetype for a Long Branch band, could play a wide variety of exotic British Invasion cover songs, so that their regular fans didn't hear the exact same set every time.

In a previous post, I looked at all the known bookings for the Long Branch in it's opening year of 1971. This post will look at bookings at the Long Branch for the first half of 1972. If anyone has any updates, corrections, insights or interesting speculation, please included them in the Comments.

The Scenedrome listing in each week's Berkeley Barb was my main source for Long Branch bookings

January 1, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Linx/Frank Biner Band
The Long Branch was generally open from Wednesday through Sunday, with bands every night. Wednesday was usually "audition night," with local bands that were hoping to build a following. The Long Branch did not advertise in the local papers. There may have been some flyers around town (common in Berkeley at the time), but none from this period have surfaced. The entertainment listings for the Berkeley Barb or the San Francisco papers would usually include the weekend bookings for the Long  Branch.

I have only noted dates where I could find a listing. Bands played the Long Branch over and over, so while some dates are missing, I have likely captured the weekend bands. The weeknights would have just featured local bands, for the most part, although a few of them would go on to success.

Linx played the Long Branch regularly, as well as other Berkeley clubs. They featured the teenage saxophonist Lenny Pickett, later to become well-known in Tower Of Power and then leading the Saturday Night Live band. Also in the group was Jonathan Waxman, who became a well-known chef in Manhattan.

Frank Biner was a popular local soul singer. Over the course of the 70s, Tower Of Power recorded a few of his songs, and he put out a few albums as a bandleader, but back in '71 Biner was just another guy working the clubs. Biner was originally from Chicago, where he had recorded a few singles, but he had moved to the East Bay in the late 60s.

January 7-8, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Yogi Phlegm/Frank Biner (Friday-Saturday)
Yogi Phlegm was the new name for the Sons Of Champlin. At the time, the Sons were not sure they had the rights to their name, and they also wanted to distinguish their newer music from their past sounds. Yogi Phlegm emphasized jamming, sometimes in pretty far-out formulations. Now, they were still funky, and you could still dance to them, but there was more jazz and less R&B than the 60s lineup of the Sons.

The name "Yogi Phlegm" was a joke about Indian gurus. No one got it. Everyone hated it, particularly Bill Graham. Most club owners would advertise "Yogi Phlegm--formerly The Sons" anyway. The band reverted to being the Sons Of Champlin by the next year. 

The Yogi Phlegm lineup had the old front line of Bill Champlin on vocals, organ and guitar, Geoff Palmer on keyboards and vibes and Terry Haggerty on lead guitar. The bassist was old Marin pal Dave Schallock, and the drummer was Bill Vitt. The band had dispensed with any horn players, leaving them more freedom to jam.

January 9, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Dennis Geyer Band/Hunun Dean (Sunday)
Dennis Geyer had been the guitarist and singer in a Wisconsin band called The New Blues. In 1968, they had relocated to San Francisco and added organ player Howard Wales. They changed their name to AB Skhy Blues Band, and had released an album on MGM. Wales and then Geyer had left AB Skhy, to be replaced by other players. Geyer continued to play around the Bay Area. 

Hunun Dean is unknown to me.

January 13-14, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Wayne The Harp (Thursday-Friday)
Wayne The Harp was guitarist Wayne Ceballos. Ceballos had led the Bay Area trio AUM (pronounced "Ohm") in the sixties. AUM had released two albums, and opened at both Fillmores as well. Ceballos still played the same kind of hard-driving blues guitar in his new group. 

January 15, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Stoneground (Saturday)

Stoneground had been put together by KSAN impresario Tom Donahue in 1970 for an intended movie about a "traveling Woodstock" called Medicine Ball Caravan. The Grateful Dead were booked for the  movie, but backed out at the last minute. Stoneground had released their self-titled debut album on Warner Brothers in 1971, and then its followup, Family Album, later in that year.  Among the key members of Stoneground were singers Sal Valentino, Lynne Hughes, Annie Sampson and Deirdre LaPorte. Guitarist Tim Barnes also sang. Pete Sears had been the pianist for the album, although he had  been replaced by Cory Lerios by this time.

January 21-22, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Grootna/Knee Deep (Friday-Saturday)
Grootna was a Berkeley band that had arisen out of a 60s Berkeley band called Sky Blue. Guitarist Vic Smith and singer (and sometime drummer) Anna Rizzo had teamed up with guitarist/writer Allan "Slim Chance" Silverman. Drummer Greg Dewey (from Mad River) was also in the band, along with a few others. The band played a batch of songs written by Silverman and his songwriting partner Austin DeLone. DeLone, however, was playing pubs in London with the band Eggs Over Easy. Everybody in Grootna had many links to numerous Berkeley ensembles.

Grootna's album had been released by Columbia in December 1971. Now, it's probably true that not that many people had heard it, but in those days that had an album was a "real" band, implicitly above other groups playing the clubs. Many of the songs on the album were written by the team of Alan Silverman (Slim Chance) and Audie DeLong (Austin DeLone). However, since Silverman was only listed as "Slim Chance" with no reference to his real name, and DeLong wasn't in the band, the "Siverman/DeLone" credits were confusing at the time.

Knee Deep is largely unknown to me. In 1973, they would change their name to The Titans.

Eddie Money, former lead singer of The Rockets, released his debut solo album on Columbia in 1977

January 23, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Asleep At The Wheel/Rockets
Asleep At The Wheel were from Paw-Paw, WV, and played Western Swing music with a rock beat. They generally gigged around the greater Washington, DC area. In 1971, they had opened for Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, and the Cody crew encouraged them to move to the East Bay. Asleep At The Wheel relocated to Oakland, and started playing regularly at local nightclubs. In October of 1971, Asleep At The Wheel had opened a weekend at the Long Branch for the Airmen. Within six weeks, The Wheel were headlining the Long Branch themselves. 

This booking appears to be the first time The Rockets were booked on a weekend at the Long Branch, although that implicitly suggests they had played a weeknight earlier. Probably the Rockets had played a Wednesday audition, had sounded good, and had played some other weeknights, and done well enough to be second-billed on a Sunday night. That was the usual pattern for local bands playing the Long Branch, without a record company or agency support. With respect to the history of the Long Branch, however, the Rockets weren't just another band.

The lead singer of the Rockets was a transplanted New Yorker, a former NYPD trainee cop named Eddie Mahoney. Also in the band was guitarist Dan Alexander, bassist Chris Sohlberg and drummer John Cuniberti. The Rockets would rise to be regular weekend headliners at the Long Branch, along with Grayson Street, Earth Quake and others. In mid-1974, Mahoney would change his stage name to Eddie Money, and the band evolved into Eddie Money and The Rockets, and later just the Eddie Money Band. In 1975, the Bill Graham organization started managing Money, and by 1977 he had released his debut album on Columbia. "Two Tickets To Paradise" and "Baby Hold On To Me" were huge hits. Mahoney (1949-2019) suffered a variety of health issues and has passed on, but thanks to television commercials and oldies, Eddie Money is far and away the biggest act ever to come out of the Long Branch.

January 25, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Hades (Tuesday)
Hades, sometimes billed as the Hades Blues Band, or Hades Blues Works, was a local band. They had played the club back when it was called Babylon.

In the late 60s, guitarist Jimmy Thorsen, bassist Steve Wright and drummer John Cuniberti had been in a band called Traumatic Experience. With the addition of guitarist Craig Ferreira, they became Hades. Steve Wright would go on to play in the Greg Kihn Band, and John Cuniberti became an important engineer and producer, particularly for Bay Area punk rock acts. At some point, Cuniberti joined The Rockets (see above), so I think Hades was near the end of the line here.

 I think the Long Branch wasn't regularly open on Tuesdays, but without listings it's hard to be sure.

January 27, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Copperhead/Jesse, Wolff and Whings (Thursday)
Copperhead was the relatively new band formed by former Quicksilver Messenger Service lead guitarist John Cippolina. Membership was always somewhat fluid. At this time, the band probably had Cippolina and Jimmy Murray (himself ex-QMS ca. 1967) on guitars, Jim McPherson on bass, Pete Sears on keyboards and probably David Weber on drums. Copperhead would go on to release a 1973 album on Columbia. They were promising, but never seemed organized.

Jesse, Wolff and Whings released one album on Leon Russell's Shelter label, distributed by Capitol. The group featured lead singer Jesse Barish, lead guitarist Bill Wolff, bassist Kevin Kaufmann and drummer Kevin Kelley, among other members. The group was supposed to be called Wings, but Capitol had Paul McCartney's Wings, so they had to change the spelling.

Jesse Barish, per his bio, apparently played a little bit with the all-instrumental Orkustra (I think he played flute), back in the 60s. Bill Wolff was in a later version of the Peanut Butter Conspiracy. Kevin Kelly had been in The Rising Sons and The Byrds, among other bands, and both Kelly and Kevin Kaufmann had backed Phil Ochs.

When Jesse, Wolff and Whings fell apart, Jesse Barish went on to work with Marty Balin and Grunt Records. Barish ended up co-writing many songs with Balin, and as a result he has many songwriting credits on Jefferson Starship albums, such as "Count On Me."

As a point of comparison, Copperhead had headlined the Keystone Berkeley on Friday, January 7, and  Whings had opened the following weekend (January 14-15, for the HooDoo Rhythm Devils).

(note: I am missing any listings for the weekend of January 28-29)

February 1-2, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Joe Crane and The HooDoo Rhythm Devils (Tuesday-Wednesday)
The HooDoo Rhythm Devils, led by singer Joe Crane, had arisen out of a local blues-rock band called P, G &E. The HooDoos had released an album on Capitol in 1971, Rack Jobbers Rule. By 1972, they would switch to Blue Thumb, where their next album Barbeque of Deville, came out later in the year.

February 3-4, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Flamin Groovies/Hades (Thursday-Friday)
The Flamin' Groovies were an original San Francisco band, having formed as The Chosen Few in 1965. The Groovies, however, stuck to the Rolling Stones' sound when the rest of the city's bands went psychedelic, and they did not particularly thrive during the Fillmore era. Along with their manager, the Flamin' Groovies had rented the old Fillmore and put on shows with various bands in 1969 and '70. Thus they stayed in the public eye, even if not many fans had heard them yet.

Still, by 1969 the Flamin Groovies had released their debut album on Epic, Supersnazz. Subsequently they released Flamingo (1970) and Teenage Head (1971) on Kama Sutra. Neither record sold well, and the band had were dropped by Kama Sutra. Lead singer Roy Loney left the band, leaving singer/guitarist Cyril Jordan as the principal driving force. Later in 1972, the Groovies would move to England, where their "Power Pop" sound would be less of an anomaly. At this time, however, the Groovies were without a label, and without much of a following in their home territory.

Earth Quake's 1971 debut album on A&M Records

February 5, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Earth Quake/Fluid Drive
Earth Quake, from Berkeley, were the ultimate Long Branch band, and it's fitting that they played opening night. Originally, they had been a Berkeley High band called Purple Earthquake. By early 1972, they were a quintet, with Robbie Dunbar on lead guitar, Gary Phillips on rhythm guitar, lead vocalist John Doukas, bassist Stan Miller and drummer Steve Nelson. Earth Quake had released their debut album on A&M Records sometime in 1971

Earth Quake would play the Long Branch at least every month for five years, and in many months every Friday night. Earth Quake, with their vast trove of cover versions, always had a loyal audience at the club

Fluid Drive is unknown to me. 

February 6, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Jabo Stokes (Sunday)
Jabo Stokes is unknown to me.

February 9, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Bittersweet (Wednesday)
Bittersweet was a rock band from Chico, CA, who moved to the East Bay. Rock historian Bruno Cerriotti has a detailed history of their adventures.  

February 10, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Bittersweet/Full Moon (Thursday)
Full Moon is unknown to me, although it's possible they were formerly known as Womb.

February 11 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Stoneground/Country Weather (Friday)
Country Weather were a Walnut Creek (Contra Costa County) group, from just over the Berkeley Hills. They had originally been called The Virtues, but soon after lead guitarist Greg Douglass joined, they changed their name to Country Weather. Country Weather never released a record when they were together from 1967-73.  Since the group was familiar from many posters from 1968 onward, Country Weather became one of the great lost San Francisco groups of the 1960s.  Ultimately, the group reformed in the 21st century and still performs occasionally. RD Records released some of their 60s demos and live performances, alonmg with some 21st century recordings.

Greg Douglass became a successful guitarist in the Bay Area, best known for co-writing “Jungle Love” for Steve Miller, with whom he played for many years. Douglass was also a member of Hot Tuna for one brief, sensational tour in Spring 1975.

The Doobie Brothers, ca 1971

February 12, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Doobie Brothers/Nipple
In early 1972, the Doobie Brothers were another unknown band climbing the ladder. The Doobies were from the San Jose area, and they had built a following in the South Bay. They were largely unknown in the East Bay, however. Throughout January, they had played every Thursday night at The New Monk, just 2 miles up the road at University and Shattuck (and later the Keystone Berkeley).

The Doobie Brothers had released their first, self-titled album on Warner Brothers, back in April, 1971. It hadn't done well. Although the Doobies had gone on a National tour (with Mother Earth), they were mostly just slugging it out in the local clubs. Still, Warner Brothers was behind them. In January, the Doobie Brothers had played live on KSAN-fm (at Pacific High Recorders on January 16), which meant that Warners had coughed up the ad dollars to subsidize the broadcast. At this time, the Doobies had just replaced original bassist Dave Shogren with Tiran Porter, and they had added Michael Hossack as a second drummer (along with John Hartmann). Guitarists Tom Johnston and Pat Simmons were the lead singers. 

Nipple is unknown to me.

February 13, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Country Weather (Sunday)

February 16-17, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Dr Hook And The Medicine Show (Wednesday-Thursday)
Dr Hook and The Medicine Show were a somewhat comic country-rock act, produced by Shel Silverstein. Their debut album would have just been released on Columbia. They would soon hit it big with "Silvia's Mother" and "Cover Of The Rolling Stone."

February 18, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Linx/Frank Biner Band (Friday)

February 19, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Linx/Runnin Easy (Saturday)
Runnin' Easy is unknown to me, although I recognize their name from various bookings.

February 20, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Dennis Geyer Band (Sunday)

I am missing any listings for the weekend of February 25-28. 

February 29, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Asleep At The Wheel (Tuesday)

March 1, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Orisha/Free And Easy (Tuesday)
Both Orisha and Free And Easy are unknown to me. The New Monk opened as the Keystone Berkeley this night.

March 3-4, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Wayne The Harp (Friday-Saturday)

March 5, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Loading Zone/Dennis Geyer Band (Sunday)
The Loading Zone, from Oakland, had played the original Trips Festival back in 1966. By 1972, they had been through many different iterations. By this time, although they still broadly featured the mix of rock and soul as when they had started, they had no original members. They were good, though: Linda Tillery and Wendy Haas on vocals, Tom Coster on organ, Doug Rauch on bass, Tony Smith on drums and Bruce Conte on guitar. 

March 10, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Cold Blood/Linx
Cold Blood are generally associated with the East Bay funk sound of bands like Tower Of Power. The East Bay association was appropriate musically, but in fact Cold Blood had its roots in the South Bay. Lead singer Lydia Pense, from San Mateo, and bassist Rod Ellicott had been in a Peninsula Band in 1966 called the New Invaders, who had evolved into The Generation. The Generation were known as the first Bay Area band to merge a horn section with a rock band. The Generation evolved into Cold Blood, and they were signed  to Bill Graham's San Francisco label (distributed by Atlantic).  

Cold Blood  released two albums on San Francisco, their self-titled debut (1969) and Sisyphus (1970), which spawned a modest local hit with a remake of "You Got Me Hummin'."After Graham's labels folded, Cold Blood ended up on Reprise. In 1972, they would release First Taste Of Sin. Lydia Pense was a powerful singer, and Cold Blood was a tight band, so the group was very popular in night clubs and at local dances. In retrospect, however, they sound as if they were trying a bit too hard, instead of just playing the music they liked. 

March 11, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Stoneground/Linx (Saturday)

March 15, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Cesar's Combo (Wednesday)
The Examiner lists this as "Latin Jazz." I assume Cesar's Combo was a version of the house band at Cesar Ascarrunuz's 830 Club, led by Luis Gasca. To my knowledge, they played in a Latin jazz-rock vein, sort of like Malo.

March 18, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Copperhead/The Ducks (Saturday)
I believe The Ducks were a Marin band featuring guitarist and songwriter Kent Housman.

March 19, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Grootna/Jabo Stokes

March 24, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen/Asleep At The Wheel
The headliners were Berkeley's very own Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen. Cody and the Airmen had moved out to California in Summer '69, setting up shop in a rambling house in nearby Emeryville. The band played "hippie honky-tonk," a strange brew of Western Swing, traditional country, old-time rock and roll and Berkeley sensibilities. Their November 1971 debut album, Lost In The Ozone, had spawned the local hit single "Hot Rod Lincoln."

The Airmen had been regular headliners at the Long Branch since it had opened in May, 1971. One or two tracks on the debut album had even been recorded live at the Long Branch back in July. The Airmen were regionally popular now, thanks to "Hot Rod Lincoln," and touring around. But I'm sure they could still pack a Friday night house on San Pablo Avenue.

March 25-26, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Earth Quake/The Rockets (Saturday-Sunday)

April 4, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Asleep At The Wheel/Alice Stuart (Tuesday)
Alice Stuart was a fine blues guitarist and singer. Although she was from Seattle, she had been playing in the Bay Area since about 1964. Stuart had performed and recorded in a variety of settings. At one point in late 1969, she had even been the temporary bass player for the Lost Planet Airmen. In 1972 she led a trio named Snake, and they recorded for Fantasy Records.

April 5, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Cesar's Combo (Wednesday)

April 7, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Copperhead/Big Brother and The Holding Company
Big Brother and The Holding Company had reformed in late 1969, although of course without Janis Joplin. They had put out two fairly good but poorly-received albums on Columbia (1970's Be A Brother and '71's How Hard It Is). Initially, all the original members had been part of the reformation, but by 1972 the band was being held together by guitarist Sam Andrews. Kathi McDonald, a veteran singer from Seattle (and a former Ikette, despite being blonde), had the somewhat thankless task of being the lead singer. McDonald was an excellent singer, in fact, but Janis was an icon, not just a singer.

Five years earlier, Quicksilver Messenger Service and Big Brother had been in two of the Fillmore's biggest, most exciting bands. Now Cippolina and Andrews were sharing a bill at a 350-capacity club on San Pablo Avenue. Phil Elwood reviewed the show and had high praise for Copperhead. He identified Gary Phillipet (guitar) and Jim McPherson (bass) as the singers, and mentioned Pete Sears' fine piano, along with Cippolina. Elwood also said that Big Brother sounded good, but he added no details.

April 8, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Linx/Little John (Saturday)
Little John was a local blues band, but I don't know anything else about them.

April 9, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Rockets/Jack Frost (Sunday)
Jack Frost is unknown to me. 

April 12, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Clover (Wednesday) 

April 13, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Saving Grace/Ducks (Thursday)
Saving Grace and Ducks are unknown to me.

April 15, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Mike Finnegan and Jerry Wood/Clover (Friday)
Organist and singer Mike Finnegan was from Wichita, KS. Unlike typical musicians, the 6'6" Finnegan had gotten a basketball scholarship to the University of Kansas. He had moved to the Bay Area around 1969, and he had been a member of The Jerry Hahn Brotherhood, who had put out a highly regarded 1970 album on Columbia. Unfortunately, the album went nowhere, and Finnegan had left the band. At this time, Finnegan had another band with guitarist Jerry Wood, and he worked with the re-activated Big Brother and The Holding Company as well. Finnegan and Wood released the album Crazed Hipsters on Blue Thumb in 1972.

April 21, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Earth Quake/Modern Lovers (Friday)
It's easy to make fun of Berkeley--I for one never tire of it--but you have to give the town its due. Yes, Berkeley is pretentious and sniffs at the provinciality of every other town, ever. But it also means that Berkeley is often ahead of other places, often way ahead. Johnathan Richman and the Modern Lovers were an underground cult sensation in Berkeley around 1975, long before anywhere else had heard of him. And yet, three years earlier--three years!--The Modern Lovers had played at the Long Branch. At the time, the Modern Lovers were fairly self-consciously modeled on the Velvet Underground. At the time, the VU were all but forgotten, and frontman Lou Reed was just an obscure solo artist in New York. Nobody cared about Reed or the Velvets, much less an unrecorded Boston band carrying on their obscure tradition. Warner Brothers had signed the Modern Lovers, and flown them out to Los Angeles to record demos with John Cale. The band also played a few live gigs, including this booking at the Long Branch.

When Beserkeley Records released Richman's sunny takes in 1975, "Road Runner" and "New Teller" were a ray of sunshine on FM radio, when they got played. Yet shortly after, the earlier, darker demos recorded back in '72 with John Cale behind the board revealed a much grimmer version of the Modern Lovers. In 1976, Beserkeley released the demos (the release was known as "The Black Album"). It featured a darker, organ-driven version of "Roadrunner," and the bleak, hilarious "Pablo Picasso" ("Some people walk down the street/Get called an asshole/That never happened to/Pablo Picasso"). The dark, '72 Modern Lovers had opened at the Long Branch for their future label-mates Earth Quake, and someone had the foresight to record it. You have to love Berkeley for that.

The Modern Lovers probably did not go over that well. Besides Richman on electric guitar and vocals, the band had future Talking Head Jerry Harrison on organ and future Car drummer David Robinson, plus bassist Ernie Brooks. In 1998, the Long Branch show was released as part of a vinyl double-LP, Modern Lovers Live At The Longbranch And More.

April 22, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Grootna/Fletcher Brothers
Note that bands like Grootna or Copperhead, with recordings to their name (in Copperhead's case, via Cippolina) were playing the Long Branch about once a month.

The Fletcher Brothers played local Bay Area clubs during this period, but I don't know anything else about them.

April 23, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Bobby Hutcherson (Sunday)
Bobby Hutcherson was an exceptional vibes player from Los Angeles. He had moved to New York, and had recorded for Blue Note as early as 1963. Hutcherson returned to California in 1967, and mostly played on the West Coast thereafter. While Hutcherson was a forward-thinking music, his music was quieter and more acoustic than some of his peers at the time. Since there were no jazz clubs in the East Bay, Hutcherson often played rock clubs on weeknights. Although jazz was a rarity at the Long Branch, Berkeley has always been amenable to eclectic bookings. 

April 25, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Boogie Brothers/Sober and Sorry (Tuesday)
Boogie Brothers and Sober and Sorry are both unknown to me.

April 27, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Linx/The Rockets (Thursday)

April 28, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Linx/Bitterweet (Friday)

April 29, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Earth Quake/Knee Deep (Saturday)

April 30, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Osceola (Sunday)
Osceola was a band from Florida that had relocated to San Francisco around 1969, and played around the Bay Area for a few years.

May 5, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Linx/Knee Deep (Friday)

May 6, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Dennis Geyer Band/Bittersweet (Saturday)

May 10, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Street Band (Tuesday)
The Street Band is unknown to me.

I am missing listings for the weekend of May 12-14.

May 16, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Mike Finnegan and Jerry Wood (Tuesday)

May 19, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Grootna/Rockets (Friday)

May 20, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Linx/Frank Biner (Saturday)

May 21, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Fluid Drive/Jango (Sunday)
Jango is unknown to me.

May 23, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Asleep At The Wheel/High Country (Tuesday)
Asleep At The Wheel tried to work as many nights as possible. From this point on, it appears they played most Tuesday nights at the Long Branch. 

High Country were a Berkeley bluegrass band led by mandolinist Butch Waller. High Country were regulars at Berkeley's already-legendary folk club, the Freight And Salvage (a half-mile North, at 1827 San Pablo). Waller had been pals with Garcia and David Nelson, both former bluegrassers, since 1963. Waller and David Nelson had been in a bluegrass band together in 1964 (the Pine Valley Boys), and in '69, Nelson had even played a little with High Country. One time, High Country's banjo player wasn't available, and Jerry Garcia filled in (June 19, 1969--of course, there's a tape). High Country had released an album on Raccoon, the Youngbloods' label.

May 24, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Is/The Street Band (Wednesday)
Is is unknown to me. 

 May 25, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Loading Zone/Linx (Thursday)
The Loading Zone were still grinding it out. One of their vocalists, Wendy Haas, had left to join Azteca, but they still had Linda Tillery. 

May 26 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Earth Quake (Friday)

May 27, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Loading Zone/Linx (Saturday)

Sophomoric, the second album by the Congress Of Wonders comedy duo, was released on Fantasy Records in 1972

May 28, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Congress Of Wonders/Blue Mountain/Fluid Drive
Benefit for George McGovern (Sunday)
George McGovern was the Anti-War candidate for the Democratic Party Presidential nomination, so there were many benefits for him in college towns like Berkeley.

Congress Of Wonders was a hip comedy duo. Congress of Wonders were a comedy duo from Berkeley, initially from the UC Berkeley drama department and later part of Berkeley’s Open Theater on College Avenue, a prime spot for what were called “Happenings” (now ‘Performance Art’).  The group performed at the Avalon and other rock venues.

Karl Truckload (Howard Kerr) and Winslow Thrill (Richard Rollins) created two Congress of Wonders albums on Fantasy Records (Revolting and Sophomoric). Their pieces “Pigeon Park” and “Star Trip”, although charmingly dated now, were staples of San Francisco underground radio at the time. 


Blue Mountain was a band from Palo Alto.

May 30, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Asleep At The Wheel/Knee Deep (Tuesday)

May 31, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: The Street Band (Wednesday)

June 2, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Tower Of Power
Tower Of Power, though originally from Fremont, were the pride of Oakland. They had been discovered by Bill Graham at the Tuesday night Fillmore West auditions, and their first album East Bay Grease had been released on Graham's San Francisco label (distributed by Atlantic). By 1972, the label was gone, but Atlantic's sister label Warner Brothers had picked up Tower. Tower's immortal second album, Bump City, had been released in the Spring, just as the Oakland A's, Raiders and Golden State Warriors were making all things Oakland ascendant.

Tower Of Power had graduated beyond the Long Branch by this time, but they were the sort of band who preferred to fill up the gig sheet on any empty night.

June 3, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Frank Biner/Full Moon (Saturday)

June 4, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Fluid Drive/The Tubes (Sunday) McGovern Benefit
The Tubes had only formed around March, 1972. Most of the band members were from Phoenix, AZ. Initially, guitarist Bill Spooner, keyboard player Vince Welnick and bassist Rick Andersen had been in a popular Phoenix band called The Beans. The Beans had moved to San Francisco in Fall 1970. They had played numerous local gigs, but hadn't really made much headway. After some band members left the Beans, it had turned out that another popular Phoenix band had lost some members, so guitarist Roger Steen and drummer Prairie Prince had relocated to San Francisco to join The Beans. Their roadie John "Fiji" Waldo was added as lead singer, and The Tubes were born.

The Tubes played a sort of progressive rock rather than modified blues. They also had a fairly elaborate stage show, which was pretty much unheard of at the time. Initially, of course, their props were just cardboard and confetti, but they were a performing band from the beginning.

June 6, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Asleep At The Wheel/Boogie Brothers (Tuesday)

Juice Newton's 1981 debut lp, several years after she was in the folk-rock band Dixie Peach

June 7, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Linx/Dixie Peach
Dixie Peach was a folk rock band that featured singer Judy Newton and guitarist and songwriter Robert Otha Young. The two had started performing together when Newton was a student at Foothill College in Los Altos. Bassist Cecil Bollinger, formerly of the great South Bay group Weird Herald, was also a member.

Although Dixie Peach was just another local band on the Bay Area scene, Judy Newton would go on to become far better known in the 80s as country singer Juice Newton. Otha Young (1943- 2009) was her principal songwriter as well, so the two had a fruitful musical partnership well into the 21st century. 

June 8, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Linx/Loading Zone (Thursday)

June 9, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Elvin Bishop Group/Django (Friday)
June 10, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Elvin Bishop Group/Fluid Drive (Saturday)
Elvin Bishop had been a regular performer in Bay Area rock nightclubs since he had arrived in San Francisco in 1968, having just left the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. From 1969 onwards, his main gig had been at Freddie Herrera's Keystone Korner in San Francisco, but he played all over. The Elvin Bishop Group had been signed to Bill Graham's Fillmore Records (distributed by Columbia), and had released two albums (the 1969 debut and 1970's Feel It!). By 1972, Fillmore Records had folded, but Bishop had been picked up by Epic, a Columbia subsidiary (he would release Rock My Soul later in '72).

The Elvin Bishop Group had played regularly at the Long Branch in 1971.  In March of '72, however, Freddie Herrera had taken over the New Monk and changed it to the Keystone Berkeley, so Bishop's principal allegiance was just up the road. Still, while Keystone Berkeley and Long Branch were competitors, they weren't enemies, so here was the Elvin Bishop headlining a weekend. At this time, the Elvin Bishop Group featured Stephen Miller on organ (ex-Linn County), and vocals by Miller, Bishop and singer Jo Baker.

June 14, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Tower Of Power (Wednesday)

June 16, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Fluid Drive/Osceola (Friday)

June 17, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Blue Mountain/Linx (Saturday)

June 20, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Asleep At The Wheel/Clover (Tuesday)

June 21, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  The Street Band/Blue Moon (Wednesday)

June 24, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Earth Quake/Grayson Street (Saturday)

June 27, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Asleep At The Wheel/El Rancho Cowboys (Tuesday)
The El Rancho Cowboys were a country band from the San Jose suburb of Cupertino, CA. Guitarist Cornell Hurd would end up leading the Texas "Dance Hall" band--albeit from Cupertino--known as Cornell Hurd and His Mondo Hot Pants Orchestra. Hurd had met Asleep At The Wheel (whether at this show or before isn't clear) and they were hugely influential in his future musical career.

June 28, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Street Band (Wednesday)

June 29, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Loading Zone/Frank Biner (Thursday)
By this time, Loading Zone organist Tom Coster and bassist Doug Rauch had been recording with Santana, for the album that would become Caravanserai. By September, Coster and Rauch would go out on tour with Santana, and Loading Zone finally broke up. Drummer Tony Smith had gone on to play for Malo, and guitarist Bruce Conte would join Tower Of Power (Tower and the Zone shared a manager and a rehearsal space). Linda Tillery would go on to a substantial career as a solo artist.  This booking likely featured the final lineup of Loading Zone, with Tillery (vocals) and Conte (guitar) supported by Steve Funk (keyboards), Paul Jackson (bass), Mike Clark (drums) and Pat O'Hara (trombone).

June 30-July 1, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA:  Blue Mountain/Rockets (Friday-Saturday)
The Rockets, slowly climbing the ladder, were now co-headlining on the weekend.

The Long Branch, 2504 San Pablo, Berkeley, some time in the 1970s

The Long Branch Saloon: May 1971-November 1976

The Long Branch lasted a little over five years, and closed around November 1976. It was mostly a thriving club during that period. Berkeley's population grew enormously, and the students lived farther and farther from campus, driving up rents all over Berkeley, Albany and North Oakland. The Keystone Berkeley opened in March, 1972, and the much larger club got the premier bookings. In particular, acts like Jerry Garcia, Elvin Bishop, Tower Of Power and Commander Cody found time to regularly play the Keystone, and rarely if ever played the Long Branch. So Keystone periodically got big draws, even on weeknights, while Long Branch had to depend on its regulars. Earth Quake and Grayson Street were regular performers at the Long Branch throughout most of the 5-year period it was open. Earth Quake in particular held down almost every Friday night for long periods.

The Long Branch didn't look like this in 1971.

The Long Branch briefly re-opened as a music venue around November 1978. The club was run by the former proprietor of the Berkeley club Jerry's Stop Sign (yet another story) and used the name The Branch. It wasn't open for long.

For many years, 2504 San Pablo Avenue was a store called Good Vibrations. It wasn't a music store, but it was scandalous enough to live up to the Cabale history (don't google it at work). Eventually, as Berkeley got more and more wealthy, gentrification finally got all the way down to Dwight Way and San Pablo Avenue. The building was completely remodeled, and re-opened as a restaurant. The new address is 2512 San Pablo Avenue, but it's the same location. The first restaurant I am aware of was called Sea Salt, which opened about 2009 or so. Sea Salt closed, though, and a new restaurant opened on November 11, 2014.

The Long Branch Saloon, at 2512 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, ca. 2019

The name of the new restaurant? The Long Branch Saloon. It says "Upscale comfort food is served in a stylish setting with open rafters & butcher-block tables." Given the turnover in Berkeley's population, it's likely that the locals think the Long Branch is just a reference to Dodge City--which it is--and don't see the nod to a hard-rockin' past.




Friday, May 12, 2023

Loading Zone Performance List 1972 (Loading Zone cont III)


The debut album of The Loading Zone was released by RCA in June, 1968

The Loading Zone-Performance List 1972
The Loading Zone, while obscure, are a uniquely important group in Bay Area music history. The Zone have a singly dizzying history. Loading Zone had initially been formed out of the ashes of a Berkeley group called The Marbles (who played the first Family Dog Longshoreman’s Hall Dance on October 16, 1965). The two guitarists from The Marbles then joined with organist/vocalist Paul Fauerso (formerly of Oakland’s Tom Paul Trio, a jazz combo) and played a hitherto unheard mixture of psychedelic blues and funky R&B.

Loading Zone were based out of Oakland, in a house on West 14th Street, and while they had played the original Trips Festival and many dates at the Fillmore and Avalon, they also played many soul clubs in the East Bay. They added horns, and after some false starts, a powerhouse vocalist named Linda Tillery, and released an under-rehearsed album on RCA in 1968. The band also had a brief national tour, and played all the clubs in the Bay Area.

The Loading Zone thus laid the blueprint for the progressive soul music of Bay Area bands like Sly and The Family Stone and Tower of Power. Indeed, a Zone roadie, high school student Steve Kupka, played baritone sax with the band’s horn section, when there was room on stage and he was allowed in the club. At one such gig, he met a Fremont band called The Motowns, and they joined forces to create Tower Of Power.

The Loading Zone, ca. 1968

The unique status of the Loading Zone led to a major research project on their history. Besides creating a log of all known performances, based on the information available to us at that time, Ross created a spectacular Loading Zone Family Tree. The Tree gives a well-articulated picture of how the band was formed, and what it created. In retrospect, we did a really good job on the 1960s Loading Zone. Our information on the band in the early 1970s, however, was very limited, and some of it was actually incorrect.

With new information sources easily available, I have now completed a series of posts about the performance history of the Loading Zone from 1970 through their breakup in September 1972. The logging of the band's gigs, large and small, also acts as a survey of the different types of bookings available to a working rock band in the Bay Area at the time. I have previously published a post on all the known performances of the Loading Zone during 1970. In a subsequent post, I reviewed all the known information about every show that the Loading Zone had played during 1971. In this post, I will review all the known information about every show that the Loading Zone played during 1972, after which they broke up (well, save for the occasional reunion).

Anyone with updates, corrections, insights, recovered memories or flashbacks with respect to the Loading Zone is heartily encouraged to put them in the Comments.


Loading Zone guitarist Pete Shapiro on the front porch of the Loading Zone house on 14th Street in West Oakland, sometime around 1967 (the house was identified by Shapiro's then-girlfriend)

The Loading Zone-1960s
1966-The Loading Zone were formed out of the ashes of the Tom Paul Jazz Trio and The Marbles, a British Invasion-styled rock band. They debuted on January 14, 1966. The band pioneered a blend of rhythm and blues with psychedelic guitar solos, showing that the blend worked in both hippie ballrooms and regular R&B dance gigs. The Loading Zone played the Trips Festival and many other foundational ballroom events, while playing dance clubs at the same time.

1967-The Loading Zone expanded their membership, experimenting with a female vocalist, and adding a horn section on occasion. The band played gigs all over the Bay Area, particularly in the East Bay.

1968-In early 1968, the Loading Zone added the dynamic young vocalist Linda Tillery. Female lead vocalists for San Francisco bands were hot, and the Zone was signed to RCA. The band recorded their debut album, probably too soon, and went on a National tour when the album was released around June. The band continued to improve and got better and better notices, although the album did not reflect that (for a good representation of the '68 Loading Zone, here is a mis-dated tape from September '68).

1969-At the end of 1968, Linda Tillery was signed to a solo contract by Columbia Records. The Loading Zone marched on, with Paul Fauerso taking over the lead vocals from the organ chair. In May '69, some original members left the band and the group was reorganized around Fauerso. The new members had more sophisticated jazz backgrounds. The mid-69 model of the Zone mixed the original funky drive of the band with some advanced jazz sounds. Tillery, meanwhile, released the Sweet Linda Devine album on Columbia, produced by Al Kooper in mid-July. She toured around the Bay Area with a trio.

The Loading Zone's second album, One For All (Umbrella Records early 1970)

1970-1970 was a year of change for the Loading Zone. The band had taken on a much jazzier approach by the end of 1969. Yet Linda Tillery, despite her talent, had been dropped by Columbia and had returned to the Zone in early 1970. In June, however, founder and organist Paul Fauerso dropped out of the music business, and the Loading Zone disintegrated. Shortly afterwards, however, Linda Tillery and some new band members reorganized the band. Tillery was the voice and face of the band, and they probably played much of the same material, so it wasn't invalid. Still, it was a new band. Only bassist Mike Eggleston remained from any earlier incarnations.

1971-In 1971, the Loading Zone was still an evolving ensemble. They began the year as a quartet, with Linda Tillery on vocals, supported by Tom Coster on organ, Mike Eggleston on bass and Al Coster on drums. By year's end, Bruce Conte, from Fresno, had joined on guitar. At some point near the end of the year, bassist Dougie Rauch replaced Mike Eggleston. Details about the group are so murky, it's hard to be certain. Rauch had been the bassist for a New York group called Voices Of East Harlem, and he had become friends with drummer Mike Shrieve when they had opened for Santana. Rauch took Shrieve up on his recommendation to move to the Bay Area.

In 1971, the Loading Zone still played all the rock club circuit they had played since the 1960s, emphasizing their own material and arrangements. They also played various dance clubs around the area. At this time, more information is available about clubs booking rock music (like Berkeley's New Orleans House or Cotati's Inn Of The Beginning) than dance clubs, although the dance clubs were probably better paying gigs. Since the Loading Zone jammed on a lot of songs, their material may not have been that different at either kind of venue, but dance clubs were almost never reviewed in local papers, so it's hard to say.

Loading Zone Performance History 1972
In this post, I will review all the known information about every show that the Loading Zone played during 1972, after which they broke up. Because of the current limits on available information, I have far more details about original rock clubs than dance venues, but I am certain that the Loading Zone was a regular working band throughout the first 9 months of 1972, even if we don't have details on many of their bookings.

To the best of my knowledge, the Loading Zone at the beginning of 1972 was

Linda Tillery-vocals
Wendy Haas-vocals, piano
Bruce Conte-guitar
Tom Coster-organ, keyboards
Dougie Rauch-bass
Tony Smith-drums

There had been some turnover in Loading Zone between the middle and end of 1971, and I have no markers to say when precisely that occurred. I will summarize the background of the 1972 band members here:

Linda Tillery-vocals Linda Tillery, from San Francisco, had been the lead vocalist for Loading Zone in 1968, had left for an unsatisfying solo career in 1969 (she released an Al Kooper-produced album as Sweet Linda Devine) and returned to the Zone in 1970. She was also a pretty good drummer, but I'm not sure if she ever played drums or percussion on stage with the band.

Wendy Haas-vocals, piano: Wendy Haas had been the bass player in the Freudian Slips in 1966, a Peninsula  "all-girl" band who had gotten their picture in Life magazine (Haas, later: "we weren't very tight"). They had broken up when some members of the band went on to college. Haas had become the lead singer in an R&B band called Western Addition. Haas is a good piano player, but I don't know how much or even if she played piano on stage with the Zone. Haas and Tillery must have killed it together as singers.

Bruce Conte-guitar: Conte was from Fresno, and had been reasonably successful in a band called The Road Runners. Moving up to Loading Zone was tapping into the San Francisco mainstream. He had joined the Loading Zone by May, 1971 (based on promo photos). 

Tom Coster-organ, keyboards: organist Tom Coster had an extensive jazz background. He had been playing in Oakland clubs in the late 60s, often in a trio with saxophonist Jules Broussard and his brother, drummer Al Coster. Loading Zone had broken up, sort of, in 1970, but Linda Tillery had reformed it around the Coster brothers (along with bassist Mike Eggleston). Coster also played jazz gigs when he had the opportunity. I know he periodically backed guitarist Gabor Szabo, which is how Carlos Santana first heard Coster's playing.

Dougie Rauch-bass: At some point in late 1971, Santana drummer Michael Shrieve had invited his friend, New York bassist Dougie Rauch, to move to California. Rauch (1950-79), the son of an opera singer, had played with numerous bands. He was part of a group called Voices Of East Harlem, a choir of mostly school kids singing over a funky rock band. The Voices had opened for Santana a few times, and Shrieve and Rauch were friends. Now, the Santana band had serious problems at this time--at one point in 1971, Carlos himself had actually quit the band--and among other things were looking for a new bass player, so Shrieve probably had it in mind to get Rauch into Santana, which he ultimately did (along with Tom Coster).

By early 1972, Dougie Rauch had joined Loading Zone as their bass player, replacing Mike Eggleston. I do not actually know when Rauch joined the Loading Zone. I am still searching for evidence as to exactly when Rauch moved to California and joined the Zone. Rauch also worked with Coster when he backed Gabor Szabo.

Tony Smith-drums: Drummer Tony Smith replaced Al Coster sometime at the end of 1971 or beginning of 1972, replacing Al Coster. Smith had a stellar career after the Loading Zone--as many musicians did--but I don't know what pedigree he had before that.

Loading Zone Performance History: 1972
Our knowledge of the performance history of the Loading Zone in the early 70s is somewhat skewed. The Zone played in both original rock clubs and dance clubs. The band had always played a certain number of covers, and while they were regular jammers, they always had a good groove going on. They might have varied their sets slightly in dance clubs, perhaps adding a few more covers, but in general there's good reason to think that the Loading Zone could thrive in both an original club and a 'Top 40" dance club.

The skew in our historical record comes from the fact that we have access to listings of bands who played original rock clubs. The local clubs that booked original bands advertised in local daily and weekly papers, and also submitted their press releases for "Entertainment Listings." Conversely, "dance clubs" were more oriented toward the bar, and did not regularly list their acts in the paper. The audience for a dance club was looking to have a good time on a Friday night, not circling their calendars in order to catch the So-and-Sos. 

Some local dance clubs may have had flyers, but they have rarely been preserved. The likely reason is that the flyers for original rock clubs, like the Keystone Berkeley, often had famous names on them, like Jerry Garcia or Van Morrison. Thus fans preserved at least some of those flyers from the beginning. Dance clubs did not obviously have historical material on them, so any local flyers have disappeared. 

I have collected information on every Loading Zone performance from 1972 for which I can find evidence. The record leans almost exclusively to the local rock clubs that presented original music. The Loading Zone probably worked almost every weekend and many weeknights at various dance clubs, but we don't have a historical trail. Based on information from 1971, it's likely that they would play residencies where they would play a given night of the week at a club for a month at a time (like every Tuesday in March, or something similar). I just haven't been able to find that evidence yet. Anyone who recalls anything, or can point to some links, please Comment.

The building at 8201 Old Redwood Highway in Cotati that housed the Inn Of The Beginning. In this 2010 photo, the name of the club is still visible on the upper part of the building (the club had closed many years earlier)

January 6, 1972 Inn Of The Beginning, Cotati, CA: Loading Zone
To illustrate the above point, the Loading Zone was playing a Thursday night at the Inn Of The Beginning, a small club that booked original music. It seems likely that they would have had a dance club gig booked for the weekend.

The Inn Of The Beginning, at 8201 Old Redwood Highway in Cotati, had opened in 1968. It only held about 200, but most Bay Area bands liked to play there to fill in the gig sheet. Calling Cotati, in Sonoma County, just "bucolic" does it a disservice. Since Sonoma State College had opened in nearby Rohnert Park in 1966, the area was starting to move from purely agriculture to a broader community.

January 28-29, 1972 Bo Jangles, San Francisco, CA: Loading Zone/Is (Friday-Saturday)
Bo Jangles also booked original music. The club was in the Tenderloin district in San Francisco, at 709 Larkin (near Ellis), and had opened in late 1971. It was near to the site of what would become the Great American Music Hall (at 859 O'Farrell). 

The group Is was a local San Francisco area band, but I don't know anything else about them.

January 31, 1972 The Boathouse, Sausalito, CA: Loading Zone/Abel (Monday)
Sausalito is on the tip of San Francisco bay, the nearest Marin town to the city. Up until the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1937, it had been an important transit hub. Railroads brought lumber and crops to Sausalito, and ferries took them over to San Francisco (along with some passengers). Because of the peculiar geography of Sausalito, being very near to San Francisco yet still isolated, the little town was reputedly a thriving drop-off point for bootleggers during Prohibition. After Prohibition, and the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito "de-industrialized" and became more of a bohemian artist's hangout, which it remains to this day. 

There was (and still is) a boat ramp in Sausalito. The Boathouse was at 300 Turney (at Bridgeway) I believe the Boathouse was the bar and restaurant right next to the ramp (right now it is a beer hall called The Joinery). Abel may have been blues guitarist Abel Zarate, who had gone from his band Naked Lunch to Malo. Perhaps this was a solo gig for him. 

February 4-5, 1972 On Broadway Theater, San Francisco, CA: Sylvester and His Hot Band/Loading Zone
The On Broadway was right in the heart of North Beach's entertainment district, on Broadway. In the late 1950s and early '60s, North Beach had been at the center of a thriving Latin Jazz scene, and a bohemian hangout. Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights Bookstore was a central nighttime attraction. By the mid-60s, however, Broadway was dominated by topless clubs, and few clubs booked music without dancers. Still, the On Broadway was an exception to the trend.

The building, at 435 Broadway (between Kearny and Montgomery) dated from 1919, and was originally an Italian men's social club called Garibaldi Hall. The upstairs held boxing matches and other sporting events. In 1945 the building was sold to the Caballeros de Dimas Alang, a Masonic-style Filipino fraternal organization. They called it the Dimas-Alang Temple. The On Broadway had opened as a theater in 1962. It seated about 400. It mostly had musical revues and the like, and its North Beach location allowed some racier productions. Oh Calcutta, for example, was first presented in San Francisco at the On Broadway, in 1969.

Sylvester and The Hot Band would release their debut album on Blue Thumb in 1973

The weekend headliner was Sylvester and His Hot Band. Sylvester was a powerful R&B singer, in a contemporary vein, but with a gay sensibility and a very high-pitched vocal style.  A handsome black man, Sylvester appeared on stage in thrift-store sequined dresses and heavy makeup. Sylvester had a following in gay clubs in San Francisco at the time. Performers could make good money playing gay clubs in SF (Bette Midler was doing so at the time) but they needed to be heard in "regular" nightclubs to get signed.  While much of Sylvester's audience was probably gay men who lived in the city, by playing the On Broadway, "regular" fans could get a chance to see him (read that how you like--it was 1972). I think that by putting a "real" rock band like the Zone on the bill, it made Sylvester and His Hot Band seem more like a serious band (which they were) and not a novelty act.

Sylvester (Sylvester James Jr), had a background in church music. He had moved to San Francisco in 1970 and joined an infamous San Francisco performance troupe called The Cockettes. James had gone with the Cockettes to New York City, but ultimately returned to SF. Sylvester and The Hot Band played what would be called "Heavy Soul," although Sylvester's stage appearance was not mainstream.

Sylvester would go on to release two albums on Blue Thumb in 1973 and '74, and then he would break up The Hot Band. Sylvester went on to have a successful disco recording career in the late 70s. 

In the basement of the On Broadway was a Filipino restaurant called The Mabuhay Gardens. A few years later, when the "New Wave" hit San Francisco, the Mabuhay (known by punks as the "Fab Mab") put on  punk rock shows after the restaurant had finished serving dinner. Both the Mabuhay (with an address of 443 Broadway) and the On Broadway were important venues in the punk/New Wave history of San Francisco from the late 70s through the early 1980s.

February 11, 1972 Alameda County Fairgrounds, Pleasanton, CA: Tower Of Power/Loading Zone/Snakeroot (Friday)
The Alameda County Fairgrounds was at the Southeastern edge of the county, in Pleasanton (at 4501 Pleasanton Avenue, near where I-580 meets I-680). Although now suburban and well-to-do, at the time, that end of Alameda county was more rural, and residents from that direction were more likely to attend the County Fair than those in suburban Oakland. At this time in 1972. Tower Of Power and Loading Zone shared management and a rehearsal hall. 

The July 13, 1968 Oakland Tribune previews the last weekend of the Alameda County Fair. Opening act The Motowns would evolve into Tower Of Power once they added Loading Zone roadie Steve "Doc" Kupka on baritone sax.

Back on July 13, 1968, the Loading Zone had been the headliners for the dance on the final Saturday night of the Alameda County Fair, and they had a new album on RCA. One of the openers was a Fremont band called The Motowns. At the time, one of the roadies for the Zone was high school student Steve Kupka, known as "Doc" (his father was a doctor). Kupka also played baritone sax with the Zone, when there was room on the stage and if he was allowed to get into the club. Kupka hit it off with the Motowns, and ended up joining them. By 1970, they were the Tower Of Power, signed to Bill Graham's record label and booked by his Millard Agency, so they had also signed up with Loading Zone manager Ron Barnett. 

By 1972, however, and the return of the two bands, Tower Of Power had released their debut album East Bay Grease, on Fillmore Records (distributed by Atlantic). A second album (the immortal Bump City) was in the works. The Loading Zone, had no record contract, and none seemed to be on the horizon. Here in February 1972, the two bands were again playing the Country Fairground together, but this time Tower were the headliners.

February 12, 1972 Inn Of The Beginning, Cotati, CA: Loading Zone (Saturday)
Although we have only the scantest of information about the Loading Zone in 1972, the fact that they regularly returned to the same venues is a sign that they put on a good show, and people would come out to see them. 

February 18, 1972 [Gym], Napa High School, Napa, CA: Loading Zone (Friday)

The Napa Register noted that the Loading Zone would be playing the High School dance. The fact that the Zone had appeared in San Francisco with major names carried clout out in the countryside (at this time, Napa was largely agricultural, not yet the tourist destination it would become).

SF Examiner, February 24, 1972

February 24-March 4, 1972 El Matador, San Francisco, CA: Gabor Szabo
Gabor Szabo was a legendary Hungarian jazz guitarist who had played with Chico Hamilton and many other fine players. His latest combo had more of a rock orientation. The El Matador, at 492 Broadway, had been a topless club, but it turned into a full-time jazz club at the end of 1970. Szabo's lineup at this booking had Tom Bryant on guitar, Spider Rice on drums, Tom Coster on organ and Doug Rauch on bass.

Per an Examiner writer some months later, Carlos Santana dropped in a few nights to jam. With flux in the Santana band at this time, the opportunity was there for Coster and Rauch to start recording with Carlos. In the meantime, Coster and Rauch would continue to perform and tour with Szabo.

February 25, 1972 North Beach Revival, San Francisco, CA: Loading Zone/Is (Friday)
I don't know much about the club North Beach Revival. The club was 1024 Kearny Street, between Broadway and Columbus. It had been open since at least 1964. The club started to book rock shows around this time, but those bookings did not continue much beyond '72.  The booking may have been canceled or changed, however, since Rauch and Coster were playing with Gabor Szabo. 

February 25, 1972 The Sextant, San Francisco, CA: Loading Zone/Is (Friday)
The Sextant was at 2215 Powell. I don't know how this fit in with the Gabor Szabo gig, nor North Beach Revival.

February 26, 1972 Redding Civic Auditorium, Redding, CA: Cold Blood/Loading Zone/Syndicate Of Sound
In contrast to the Sextant gig, the Redding show would have paid better than the El Matador. Redding was in far Northern California, 2i5 miles North of San Francisco, and "real" Fillmore rock bands could draw a crowd. I have no idea whether it was Szabo or the Zone who had substitutes.

San Jose's Syndicate Of Sound had broken up around 1967 when most of the members went on to college. Some members reformed and played a little bit a few years later (presumably after graduating).

Berkeley's Long Branch Saloon at 2504 San Pablo, as it appeared in 2009

March 5, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Loading Zone/Dennis Geyer Band
The Long Branch was at 2504 San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley, about 2 miles West and South of the UC Campus. The location had been a music venue since the early 1960s. As the Cabale Creamery, It had been an important stop on the "folk circuit," back in the days when espresso coffee was an exotic commodity By the end of 1965, it had become The Questing Beast, and it was there that Country Joe McDonald and Barry Melton had first "gone electric." At the time, the room probably held 150-200 people at most.

The venue went through some more incarnations (Tito's, Babylon) before becoming The Long Branch in May, 1971. New owner Malcolm Williams had doubled the size of the room to around 350, and they sold lots of beer. The club booked original rock bands, most of them from the East Bay. It was aimed at regular patrons who probably lived nearby and came to the club on a regular basis. The Loading Zone had played the Long Branch a few times in 1971, and their return in 1972 indicated that things must have gone well enough. 

Dennis Geyer had been the guitarist in the original incarnation of the AB Skhy Blues Band.

March 23, 1972 Inn Of The Beginning, Cotati, CA: Loading Zone (Thursday)

March 28, 1972  Yuba-Sutter County Fairgrounds, Yuba City, CA: Tower Of Power/Country Weather/Loading Zone
Yuba City was about an hour North of Sacramento.

March 30-April 1, 1972 North Beach Revival, San Francisco, CA: Loading Zone/Is (Thursday-Sunday)

The Recreation Center at 6300 Moraga Way in the Montclair district in Oakland. Rock shows were held here on Saturday nights from September 1970 through April 1972.

April 8, 1972 Montclair Recreation Center, Oakland, CA: Loading Zone (Saturday)
As the 1970s dawned, many Bay Area parents didn't really object to rock music, but weren't necessarily enamored of the idea of their children traveling to San Francisco or Berkeley at night just to see rock bands. In the Fall of 1970, the parents in the Montclair district of Oakland arranged to have rock shows on Saturday night at the local recreation center. The idea was to give kids something fun to do in their own neighborhood. There were rock shows most Friday nights for the next year. The bands were local, but they were good ones. Many of them had played the Fillmore West, and a few of them even had albums.

The Montclair Recreation Center was at 6300 Moraga Way, on the main road through Montclair, but just outside the district shopping area. The Rec Center was just above a Fire Station, and there was even a light show. The shows were listed in the Oakland Tribune, and supposedly there were flyers as well (although I've never seen them). The shows seem to have started on September 19, 1970 and the Loading Zone played five weeks later.

The Loading Zone played the Montclair Recreation Center several times during the 1970-72 period when rock shows were being produced there, so things must have gone well. This booking was one of the last shows, as the rock business had regionalized. Teenagers were interested in seeing larger rock shows at bigger places, rather than dancing locally. 

April 8-11, 1972 Mandrake's, Berkeley, CA: Gabor Szabo
Mandrake's, at 1048 University in Berkeley, was a jazz and blues club. The Loading Zone had played there many times over the years. In this case, Gabor Szabo had a four-night booking. We know for sure that Coster and Rauch were in the band because Chronicle writer Dennis Hunt enthusiastically described the gig. 

At some point, Coster and Rauch toured nationally with Szabo, and a new configuration of Loading Zone was formed. I have somewhat arbitrarily placed that in June 1972 (see below), but it could have been much earlier. Montclair isn't that far from University and San Pablo, so Loading Zone likely could have played the Oakland dance on Friday night, and then Coster and Rauch would have zipped down to play with Szabo. Conversely, Coster and Rauch could have left the Zone already.

April 20, 1972 Bo Jangles, San Francisco, CA: Loading Zone/Full Moon (Thursday)

The marquee of Keystone Berkeley, at 2119 University Avenue, as it appeared ca 1982

April 22, 1972 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Loading Zone/Linx
The Keystone Berkeley, at 2119 University Avenue, at a central corner in downtown Berkley (at University and Shattuck Avenues) was Berkeley's premier rock club throughout the 1970s. It was just a few blocks from campus, but (at least In The Day) there was adequate parking at night, so fans could come from not only Berkeley and Oakland, but Marin and San Francisco as well. The club had been known as the New Monk since about 1968, mostly presenting bands on weekends, and generally being a fraternity beer joint during the week. In mid-1971, Frediie Herrera, the owner of the San Francisco rock club Keystone Korner,  took over the booking, and ultimately the club itself. Herrera opened the club as the Keystone Berkeley on March 1, 1972. It booked original rock bands most nights of the week, some well-known and some not so much (I discussed the first year of the Keystone Berkeley at great length in this post).

Herrera had been booking the Loading Zone at the Keystone Korner for some time, so they were a known commodity. Herrera surely knew that the Zone could put on a great show, keep people dancing and sell a lot of beer. Still, although the Loading Zone were a "known" band, they hadn't released an album since 1970, and they weren't as high profile as they had been before.

Linx was a local band, probably based in the East Bay. They regularly played East Bay clubs like the Long Branch and the Keystone Berkeley, even if mostly as an opening act. 

April 26-28, 1972 In Your Ear, Palo Alto, CA: Loading Zone (Monday-Wednesday)
Downtown Palo Alto had had a little music scene in the 50s and early 60s, and the Kingston Trio and some early 60s folkies--like Jerry Garcia, Janis Joplin and Jorma Kaukonen had arisen from it. University Avenue was right across the train tracks from Stanford University, so there was a sort of built-in audience for young people's music. 'The Sixties" got to Palo Alto early, thanks to the Beatles and Ken Kesay, and a little rock scene had developed on University Avenue. Besides regular free concerts, the main club had a been a place on the corner of University and High (at 135 University Avenue) called The Poppycock. The Loading Zone had headlined at the Poppycock a number of times throughout 1968 and '69.

The Poppycock, which only held about 250 patrons,  had closed by Spring, 1970, sized out by larger clubs in the booming Bay Area rock scene. The venue had re-opened as In Your Ear in May, 1971, with a novel booking policy. In Your Ear was more of a jazz club, but with generous helpings of blues and some kinds of rock, too. The basic assumption of In Your Ear was that a jazz audience wasn't hostile to electric rock music, but wanted something to listen to rather than just to dance. In that respect, In Your Ear anticipated the booking policy of San Francisco's much larger Great American Music Hall by a few years. The Loading Zone were a good fit for In Your Ear, in that they played pretty sophisticated music, even while they kept up a nice groove.

May 12, 1972 Sand Castle, Los Altos, CA: Loading Zone/3rd Street Annex Band
An ad in the Stanford Daily (May 11) promoted the Zone at a place called the Sand Castle, in Los Altos. The club was at 2nd and San Antonio, just across the Palo Alto border and down near the freeway. Such places rarely advertised in the Daily.

An SF Examiner ad (Sunday May 14 '72) for bands playing North Beach Revival at 1024 Kearny St. Note that The Beans have just changed their name to The Tubes.

May 16, 1972 North Beach Revival, San Francisco, CA: Loading Zone/Blue Mountain
May 17-18, 1972 North Beach Revival, San Francisco, CA: Tower of Power/Loading Zone
Blue Mountain was a Palo Alto band. 

May 19, 1972 Redding Civic Auditorium, Redding, CA: Stoneground/Norman Greenbaum/Loading Zone
Stoneground were on Warner Brothers, and Norman Greenbaum had scored a big hit single ("Spirit In The Sky"). This triple bill counted for something in Redding.

May 20, 1972 The Orphanage, San Francisco, CA: Loading Zone (Saturday)
The Orphanage was at 807 Montgomery, between North Beach and the Financial District. The site had been clubs of various types over the years, but it had recently opened as a rock club. Based on its advertising, the Orphanage seems to have had a slightly different business model than some other clubs. It was near enough to the well-heeled Financial District that it served lunch and happy hour, and also put on rock concerts at night, so night-time rock shows were not its only source of revenue. The Orphanage mostly booked Bay Area bands, but it was a relatively high-profile club.  

May 25, 27 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Loading Zone/Linx (Thursday, Saturday)
The missing Friday night here (May 26) is a hint that Loading Zone had plenty of bookings that I can't track down. Now, granted, the Friday night booking at the Long Branch was Earth Quake, who pretty well played every Friday night there and packed the house. Still, you have to figure the Zone was booked somewhere. 

May 28, 1972 In Your Ear, Palo Alto, CA: Loading Zone (Sunday)

June 8, 1972 Napa County Fairgrounds, Napa, CA: Tower Of Power/Loading Zone (Thursday)
Napa County was (and remains) a primarily agricultural area. The County Fair would have been a big event, even if grapes had as much prominence as cows. I assume that this booking was part of the County Fair, or a similar event. The County Fair would have been a week or two long, with music bookings several nights a week. Tower and the Zone probably played what is now called Chardonnay Hall, with a capacity of about 1000, but that's just a guess. The Napa County Fairgrounds are in the town of Napa, at 575 3rd St.

Somewhere around this time, the Loading Zone disintegrated, as many of its members went on to more successful groups. After touring with Gabor Szabo, organist Tom Coster and bassist Dougie Rauch joined the reconstituted Santana. The Santana band had been having personnel upheaval for the previous 18 months. After firing original bassist David Brown, the group had borrowed a jazz friend of drummer Michael Shrieve. Tom Rutley had played bass with Shrieve in the College Of San Mateo big band. Rutley seems to have only been temporary. Sometime in 1971, Shrieve had invited Rauch to California, no doubt with an eye for him to join Santana. As Santana wasn't working at the time, Rauch seems to have gotten a gig with the Loading Zone.

Rauch had also joined Tom Coster when he would back guitarist Gabor Szabo. Supposedly, Carlos Santana first heard Coster with Szabo. Carlos would have already been familiar with Rauch. When Gregg Rolie finally left--or more precisely, did not choose to return to tour with--Santana, that left open an organ chair. Both Coster and Rauch started recording with Santana on the album Caravanserai, and began touring in September 1972.

There were many social and musical connections between Santana and Loading Zone, a sign of the high esteem in which the Zone were held by their peers. Wendy Haas joined the new group Azteca around June 1972, mainly as a singer. Azteca, organized by the Escovedo brothers (Pete and Coke), was a forward-looking band that merged Latin, jazz and rock music in a huge 15-piece ensemble. Drummer Tony Smith, meanwhile, joined the group Malo, which included guitarist Jorge Santana (Carlos' brother). Both Azteca and Malo had management and record company ties to the Santana band.

June 8, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA; Loading Zone/Linx (Thursday)
Presumably, the Zone played in the afternoon in Napa and later that evening in Berkeley.

The great Oakland drummer Mike Clark joined The Loading Zone in late 1972

June 22, 1972 The Boathouse, Sausalito, CA: Loading Zone
Nonetheless, the Loading Zone did not entirely disappear. Very recently, I read an excerpt from a 2019 Jake Feinberg interview with guitarist Bruce Conte (RIP), who mentioned that there was a final version of the Loading Zone with an entirely different lineup. I have somewhat arbitrarily assumed that the last version of the Loading Zone played from this Sausalito date until the band's demise in September, but that is just an educated guess on my part.  

The new lineup, per Conte, was
Linda Tillery-vocals
Bruce Conte-guitar
Pat O'Hara-trombone
Steve Funk-keyboards
Paul Jackson-bass
Mike Clark-drums

Paul Jackson and Mike Clark were roommates, and also heavy hitters in the Oakland jazz scene. They would become very well known in musical circles within a few years as members of Herbie Hancock's amazing funky jazz ensemble the Headhunters. Trombonist Pat O'Hara had been in the Loading Zone in the 60s. Conte did not mention a saxophonist, although having a trombone as the only horn would be an intriguing sound. O'Hara was an established Bay Area jazz and session man. Keyboardist Steve Funk was another experienced studio hand, best known for being in the band Southern Comfort (who had released a Columbia album in 1970). I'm sure this lineup just jammed out on some well-known songs, but with all this talent they probably sounded great.  

June 26, 1972 In Your Ear, Palo Alto, CA: Loading Zone (Monday)

June 27, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Loading Zone (Tuesday)
David Kramer-Smyth also found a June 26-27 listing for The Boathouse in Sausalito. 

June 29, 1972 Inn Of The Beginning, Cotati, CA: Loading Zone (Thursday)

July 14, 1972 Inn Of The Beginning, Cotati, CA: Loading Zone (Friday)

July 15, 1972 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Loading Zone/Frank Biner (Saturday)

July 28-29, 1972 El Rancho Club, Palo Alto, CA: Loading Zone/Bishop Mayfield Revue (Friday-Saturday)
The El Rancho club was at 3901 El Camino Real in Palo Alto, well South of downtown, amongst the hotels.

The marquee at Keystone Korner in San Francisco, at 750 Vallejo Street (probably from the early 70s)
 August 16-17, 1972 Keystone Korner, San Francisco, CA: Loading Zone with Linda Tillery (Wednesday-Thursday)
The Keystone Korner, at 750 Vallejo Street, had been one of the first clubs in San Francisco to exclusively book original rock music when it had opened in late 1968. Still, the club was too small (around 250-300 patrons) and too far from the suburbs to really thrive in the booming rock market. Owner Freddie Herrera had taken over the much larger New Monk and re-named it the Keystone Berkeley. In August of '72, Herrera sold the Keystone Korner to Todd Barkan. Barkan kept the name but turned it into San Francisco's premier jazz club.

The Loading Zone played the Keystone Korner shortly after Barkan officially took over. While Barkan made the Keystone Korner a club focused on jazz, part of its appeal was it's broad-mindedness. Funky groovers like the Loading Zone certainly counted as jazz.

August 25-26, 1972 Inn Of The Beginning, Cotati, CA: Loading Zone (Friday-Saturday) 

August 27, 1972 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Loading Zone (Sunday)
Loading Zone seems to have replaced Cold Blood, who had been listed in earlier ads. 

September 6, 1972 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Loading Zone/Kimberly (Wednesday)
Kimberly was a soft-rock band associated with Santana management.

September 9, 1972 Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, CA: Ray Charles/The Impressions/New Birth-Nighliters/Aaron and Freddie/Taj Mahal/Gary Bartz/Loading Zone/Black Light Sound/Bayette (Saturday) Black Expo 72: 2nd night of 3
The end of the line seems to have come at San Francisco's Civic Auditorium (now the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium), at 90 Grove Street (near Market St). There was a three-day event called Black Expo '72, with concerts every night. Loading Zone was booked on the middle evening, under an impressive bill that included Ray Charles and the Impressions. If the Zone even played this show, they probably played much earlier in the afternoon. 

Oakland Tribune, Friday, September 29, 1972

September 30, 1972 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Loading Zone
I can find no trace of any Loading Zone bookings after this Keystone gig, if the Zone even played it. Bruce Conte moved over to Tower Of Power--remember, they shared a rehearsal hall--and Linda Tillery went solo. Paul Jackson got into Herbie Hancock's Headhunters, and (when Harvey Mason couldn't tour) got his roommate Clark in on it. O'Hara returned to the studio, but I've found no trace of Steve Funk after this.
The Loading Zone only released two albums while they were an active band, their 1968 debut and their independently released '69 album. Yet there were an important band, the first one to bridge the gap between psychedelia, jazz and soul music. They kicked open the door, long before other bands even knew there was a hallway. Groups like Sly and The Family Stone, Santana and Tower of Power were the ones who walked through, while the Loading Zone stayed stuck at the entrance.
Excellent musicians went through the Loading Zone. Tom Coster and Doug Rauch were anchors of the Santana band at one of its peak periods. Players like Paul Fauerso, Frank Lupica (aka Davis), Steve Kupka, George Marsh, Wendy Haas, Bruce Conte, Tony Smith, Paul Jackson and Mike Clark are highly regarded by their fellow musicians, with armloads of credits. I have done my best to capture what could be recovered from the Loading Zone's early 70s period, but I have only managed to produce a fragmentary picture. Anyone with additional information, insights, corrections or speculations should include them in the Comments.

And yet the Loading Zone did not quite disappear after 1972. They reformed at least twice, that I am aware of. Around 2000, late 60s Zone drummer George Marsh was teaching at UC Santa Cruz. He reformed the Loading Zone with organist Paul Fauerso and bassist Mike Eggleston. They played one gig at UCSC, at least--I don't know if there were other shows.

In 2005, Fauerso, Marsh and Eggleston did some recording. They released a few tracks, along with some tracks from the 1969 album, as the album Blue Flame. It was released on the (appropriately named) Elder Funk label in 2008. By that time, the Loading Zone were over 40 years old, and were like a form of traditional music from the Oakland of our childhood.

August 14, 2008 Freight And Salvage, Berkeley, CA: Loading Zone (Thursday)
What better place to perform traditional music than Berkeley's venerable Freight And Salvage club, which had been celebrating folk traditions since its 1968 opening? In this case, the tradition was from around West 7th Street rather than Appalachia, but it was still tradition. Flautist Matt Eakle (part of the David Grisman Quintet) joined the Loading Zone for their Thursday night performance at the Addison Street club.