Friday, January 21, 2022

July 4-6, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, 660 Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Big Mama Thornton/Flying Burrito Brothers/Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band (FDGH '69 IV)


The Family Dog on The Great Highway, at 660 Great Highway, ca. 1969

The Family Dog on The Great Highway, 660 Great Highway, San Francisco, CA
The Family Dog was a foundation stone in the rise of San Francisco rock, and it was in operation in various forms from Fall 1965 through the Summer of 1970. For sound historical reasons, most of the focus on the Family Dog has been on the original 4-person collective who organized the first San Francisco Dance Concerts in late 1965, and on their successor Chet Helms. Helms took over the Family Dog in early 1966, and after a brief partnership with Bill Graham at the Fillmore, promoted memorable concerts at the Avalon Ballroom from Spring 1966 through December 1968. The posters, music and foggy memories of the Avalon are what made the Family Dog a legendary 60s rock icon.

In the Summer of 1969, however, with San Francisco as one of the fulcrums of the rock music explosion, Chet Helms opened another venue. The Family Dog on The Great Highway, at 660 Great Highway, on the Western edge of San Francisco, was only open for 14 months and was not a success. Yet numerous interesting bands played there, and remarkable events took place, and they are only documented in a scattered form. This series of posts will undertake a systematic review of every musical event at the Family Dog on The Great Highway. In general, each post will represent a week of musical events at the venue, although that may vary slightly depending on the bookings.

If anyone has memories, reflections, insights, corrections or flashbacks about shows at the Family Dog on the Great Highway, please post them in the Comments.

660 Great Highway in San Francisco in 1967, when it was the ModelCar Raceway, a slot car track

The Edgewater Ballroom, 660 Great Highway, San Francisco, CA

As early as 1913, there were rides and concessions at Ocean Beach in San Francisco, near the Richmond District. By 1926, they had been consolidated as Playland-At-The-Beach. The Ocean Beach area included attractions such as the Sutro Baths and the Cliff House. The San Francisco Zoo was just south of Playland, having opened in the 1930s. One of the attractions at Playland was a restaurant called Topsy's Roost. The restaurant had closed in 1930, and the room became the Edgewater Ballroom. The Ballroom eventually closed, and Playland went into decline when its owner died in 1958. By the 1960s, the former Edgewater was a slot car raceway. In early 1969, Chet Helms took over the lease of the old Edgewater.
One of the only photos of the interior of the Family Dog on The Great Highway (from a Stephen Gaskin "Monday Night Class" ca. October 1969)

The Family Dog On The Great Highway

The Great Highway was a four-lane road that ran along the Western edge of San Francisco, right next to Ocean Beach. Downtown San Francisco faced the Bay, but beyond Golden Gate Park was the Pacific Ocean. The aptly named Ocean Beach is dramatic and beautiful, but it is mostly windy and foggy. Much of the West Coast of San Francisco is not even a beach, but rocky cliffs. There are no roads in San Francisco West of the Great Highway, so "660 Great Highway" was ample for directions (for reference, it is near the intersection of Balboa Street and 48th Avenue). The tag-line "Edge Of The Western World" was not an exaggeration, at least in American terms.

The Family Dog on The Great Highway was smaller than the Bill Graham's old Fillmore Auditorium. It could hold up to 1500, but the official capacity was probably closer to 1000. Unlike the comparatively centrally located Fillmore West, the FDGH was far from downtown, far from the Peninsula suburbs, and not particularly easy to get to from the freeway. For East Bay or Marin residents, the Great Highway was a formidable trip. The little ballroom was very appealing, but if you didn't live way out in the Avenues, you had to drive. As a result, FDGH didn't get a huge number of casual drop-ins, and that didn't help its fortunes. Most of the locals referred to the venue as "Playland."

A notice in the July 3, 1969 SF Examiner describes the upcoming weekend of shows at the Family Dog, as well as optimistic plans for a free concert at the venue
July 4-6, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, 660 Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Big Mama Thornton/Flying Burrito Brothers/Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band (Friday-Sunday)
For the July 4th weekend, The Family Dog booked acts that seem very attractive today. At the time, however, they weren't particularly well known. The more interesting notice is the description in the July 3 San Francisco Examiner (above) that "free rock concerts will be held tomorrow [Friday July 4] from 1 to 5 pm and a free-style kite fly will take place on the beach opposite." This intriguing proposition marks the Family Dog as very different from the Fillmore West. Nothing was free at Fillmore West, nor was there a beach opposite. At this time, the Sunset district (nearest to Playland) was full of families, and there would have been plenty of teenagers. Daly City, too, wasn't that far away, and there would have been plenty of teenagers there as well. A free concert and some fun on the beach is a unique way to build a rock scene, a sign of Chet Helms' perceptiveness at recognizing that 60s rock was as much about community as music.


Still, those people who have never been to Ocean Beach might not realize the limitations here. The world thinks of beautiful people relaxing on sunny California beaches, but that's a Southern California trope. The Bay Area isn't like that, really, and Ocean Beach really isn't like that. I have posted the Examiner weather report for July 4, 1969. While inland--which to a true San Franciscan, starts at Berkeley--will have highs in the upper 80s to low 90s, the coast will have no such weather. It predicts "Fair through Saturday except patchy fog and low clouds near coast this afternoon...[high temperatures will be] in the mid-60s..Northwest wind 10 to 20 mph becoming westerly 12 to 25 mph Saturday afternoon." 

So July 4 weather at Ocean Beach will never get higher than 60ish, with fog into the afternoon, and windy. Great for kite flying, but not bikini weather. Of course, every day at Ocean Beach has always been like this, and every local teenager would have known it. But that's why the free concert will be indoors, because it will be too cold to hang out on the beach for long, even in July. Of course, we have no idea who might have played on Friday afternoon. My guess would be local bands like Devil's Kitchen, as the Flying Burrito Brothers weren't going to be playing any lunchtime gigs. I'm not aware of Helms trying this idea again, so it must not have worked. Building audiences through free concerts was a proven San Francisco tradition, but the unique location of Ocean Beach made that hard to pull off.

A rare print ad for the Family Dog. The SF Good Times (July 3 '69) advertises the upcoming Big Mama/Flying Burritos/Cleanliness and Godliness triple bill over the holiday weekend

As for the regular concerts, Big Mama Thornton (1926-1984) had been a popular and important blues singer since the early 1950s. She originally recorded “Hound Dog” in 1952, years before Elvis Presley, and her 1968 version of “Ball And Chain” was a huge influence on Janis Joplin, who did the more famous cover version. However, Thornton’s popular records did not lead to her own financial success, and despite being a fine performer she was notoriously difficult to work with. Big Mama had played a number of weekends at the Fillmore in 1966, including opening for both the Jefferson Airplane (October 1966) and the Grateful Dead (December 1966). Unlike many blues artists who played the Fillmore, she had not reappeared. There's no explanation as to why she hadn't been seen at rock venues since.

Big Mama was booked at the Family Dog this weekend, and she would play a week at the Poppycock in Palo Alto in October 1969. From today's perspective, Big Mama Thornton seems like a very interesting performer, and no doubt she was, but in 1969, to the mostly teenage audience, she would have just seemed old (of course, in 1969 she would have been just 42).


The Flying Burrito Brothers had just released their now-legendary debut album The Gilded Palace Of Sin in February of 1969. The initial Burritos lineup had been fronted by Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman, supported by pedal steel guitarist Sneaky Pete Kleinow, bassist Chris Etheridge and ex-Byrd drummer Michael Clarke. Although the Burritos are legends today, and rightly so, they were initially a sloppy and under-rehearsed live band. The group had played the Avalon in April, opening for the Grateful Dead (Chet Helms was not running it at the time), and the sound of Sneaky Pete Kleinow over Owsley's sound system inspired Jerry Garcia to buy himself a pedal steel guitar the very next week. So there's no doubt about the impact of the Burritos on those who listened.

The fact was, however, that country rock wasn't yet popular. A few major acts like Bob Dylan (Nashville Skyline) or The Byrds (Sweetheart Of The Rodeo) had succeeded with countrified albums, but in general hippies saw country music as antithetical to their values. No one really bought Gilded Palace Of Sin until many years later, when the world caught up to it. We know what the Burritos sounded like back then (their April Avalon shows were released, and a Seattle show in July '69 can be obtained), and for all its sloppiness, it's country rock in its seminal form. Unfortunately, San Francisco hippies weren't ready for that. I doubt many of them showed up at the Family Dog to see the Flying Burrito Brothers, even though in retrospect they might have regretted missing them.


Berkeley's Cleanliness And Godliness Skiffle Band opened the shows. The CGSB had formed out of the same community of musicians that had given rise to Country Joe and The Fish. Initially, the CGSB did actually play skiffle music, which was a sort of New Orleans Jug Band style. By 1969, they were playing a sort of swinging country rock, no longer acoustic but not fully electrified either. They released one album in 1968 on Vanguard, The Cleanliness And Godliness Skiffle Band's Greatest Hits (back when such a title for a debut album was still clever).

The CGSB had been playing around Berkeley since 1966, but they hadn't gotten beyond local success. They would fade away in early 1970. Infamously, the CGSB were the primary musicians for an album called The Masked Marauders. In October 1969, two Rolling Stone writers would write an obviously fake review of a "Supergroup" album called Masked Marauders. When people started calling record stores, they rushed into a Berkeley studio, and the CGSB and some friends mimicked the review, recording songs like the touching "I Can't Get No Nookie." A strange legacy for a band.

For a link to the next post (July 7, 1969 with Joan Baez), see here

Thursday, January 13, 2022

June 27-29, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, 660 Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Barry Melton and The Fish/Kaleidoscope/Los Flamencos de la Santa Lucia (FDGH '69 III)


The Family Dog on The Great Highway, at 660 Great Highway, ca. 1969

The Family Dog on The Great Highway, 660 Great Highway, San Francisco, CA
The Family Dog was a foundation stone in the rise of San Francisco rock, and it was in operation in various forms from Fall 1965 through the Summer of 1970. For sound historical reasons, most of the focus on the Family Dog has been on the original 4-person collective who organized the first San Francisco Dance Concerts in late 1965, and on their successor Chet Helms. Helms took over the Family Dog in early 1966, and after a brief partnership with Bill Graham at the Fillmore, promoted memorable concerts at the Avalon Ballroom from Spring 1966 through December 1968. The posters, music and foggy memories of the Avalon are what made the Family Dog a legendary 60s rock icon.

In the Summer of 1969, however, with San Francisco as one of the fulcrums of the rock music explosion, Chet Helms opened another venue. The Family Dog on The Great Highway, at 660 Great Highway, on the Western edge of San Francisco, was only open for 14 months and was not a success. Yet numerous interesting bands played there, and remarkable events took place, and they are only documented in a scattered form. This series of posts will undertake a systematic review of every musical event at the Family Dog on The Great Highway. In general, each post will represent a week of musical events at the venue, although that may vary slightly depending on the bookings.

If anyone has memories, reflections, insights, corrections or flashbacks about shows at the Family Dog on the Great Highway, please post them in the Comments.

660 Great Highway in San Francisco in 1967, when it was the ModelCar Raceway, a slot car track

The Edgewater Ballroom, 660 Great Highway, San Francisco, CA

As early as 1913, there were rides and concessions at Ocean Beach in San Francisco, near the Richmond District. By 1926, they had been consolidated as Playland-At-The-Beach. The Ocean Beach area included attractions such as the Sutro Baths and the Cliff House. The San Francisco Zoo was just south of Playland, having opened in the 1930s. One of the attractions at Playland was a restaurant called Topsy's Roost. The restaurant had closed in 1930, and the room became the Edgewater Ballroom. The Ballroom eventually closed, and Playland went into decline when its owner died in 1958. By the 1960s, the former Edgewater was a slot car raceway. In early 1969, Chet Helms took over the lease of the old Edgewater.
One of the only photos of the interior of the Family Dog on The Great Highway (from a Stephen Gaskin "Monday Night Class" ca. October 1969)

The Family Dog On The Great Highway

The Great Highway was a four-lane road that ran along the Western edge of San Francisco, right next to Ocean Beach. Downtown San Francisco faced the Bay, but beyond Golden Gate Park was the Pacific Ocean. The aptly named Ocean Beach is dramatic and beautiful, but it is mostly windy and foggy. Much of the West Coast of San Francisco is not even a beach, but rocky cliffs. There are no roads in San Francisco West of the Great Highway, so "660 Great Highway" was ample for directions (for reference, it is near the intersection of Balboa Street and 48th Avenue). The tag-line "Edge Of The Western World" was not an exaggeration, at least in American terms.

The Family Dog on The Great Highway was smaller than the Bill Graham's old Fillmore Auditorium. It could hold up to 1500, but the official capacity was probably closer to 1000. Unlike the comparatively centrally located Fillmore West, the FDGH was far from downtown, far from the Peninsula suburbs, and not particularly easy to get to from the freeway. For East Bay or Marin residents, the Great Highway was a formidable trip. The little ballroom was very appealing, but if you didn't live way out in the Avenues, you had to drive. As a result, FDGH didn't get a huge number of casual drop-ins, and that didn't help its fortunes. Most of the locals referred to the venue as "Playland."

 


June 27-29, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, 660 Great Highway, San Francisco, CA:  Barry Melton and The Fish/Kaleidoscope/Los Flamencos de las Santa Lucia (Friday-Sunday)
Barry "The Fish" Melton had been playing for Chet Helms since October 21, 1966, when Country Joe and The Fish had first opened for Seattle's Daily Flash at the Avalon. The band had played there many times since. Back in Fall '66, they had been an underground Berkeley band with a self-released EP available at a few Berkeley shops. By Summer '69, Country Joe and The Fish were nationally known, with two best-selling albums on Vanguard that were staples of FM radio and college dorms nationwide.

Country Joe and The Fish had a new album, too, their third for Vanguard, Here We Are Again. The official release date was July, but the record had already been reviewed in the SF Chronicle and was probably available in stores. So, why, with a new album, was Barry Melton headlining the Family Dog without Joe McDonald? While the exact details aren't known, it's pretty likely that Country Joe and The Fish did not really exist as a functioning band in June, 1969, even with a new album.

Now, in fact, Joe McDonald and Barry Melton had always considered themselves a duo, not a band. The advice they were given in late 1966, however, when they signed with Vanguard, had made the other members of the group (David Cohen, Bruce Barthol and Gary "Chicken" Hirsh) equal partners. When Joe and Barry wanted to move on early in 1969, they had to buy out the other three. Joe and Barry would find new people to play with them live, but Country Joe and The Fish was a duo that had an electric supporting cast. No fans knew this at the time, nor would they have probably cared. As far as fans were concerned, Country Joe and The Fish were a band.

The last tour of the "original" Country Joe and The Fish had ended January 12, 1969 at Fillmore West. All their friends showed up to jam--Jerry Garcia, Mickey Hart, Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady and Steve Miller--and it even got recorded (and released in 1994). A new English band called Led Zeppelin had opened for them, however, so no one really recalled the event. In March 1969, Country Joe and The Fish had toured Europe with a new lineup. Peter Albin and Dave Getz, formerly of Big Brother, were on bass and drums, respectively. The new keyboard player was East Coaster Mark Kapner (how Kapner had hooked up with the duo isn't quite clear). That lineup toured the States in April and early May, but it was a one-time thing, as Big Brother had their own plans to reform.

Country Joe and The Fish would kick off their Summer tour a few weeks later, on July 18, 1969 at Fillmore West, with Joe Cocker and The Grease Band opening. By mid-August, the new lineup would be playing Woodstock. As far as I know, however, that band did not exist in June. The Woodstock lineup would be

  • Country Joe McDonald-vocals, guitar, harmonica
  • Barry "The Fish" Melton-lead guitar, vocals
  • Mark Kapner-organ, keyboards
  • Doug Metzner-bass
  • Greg Dewey-drums

Metzner was from the Greenwich Village band Group Image. Greg Dewey had been in the Berkeley band Mad River, who had only recently broken up. So who was playing at The Family Dog? We don't actually know--there isn't a review, there isn't a picture or a tape, and I'm not aware of eyewitness accounts. 

Joe McDonald and Barry Melton periodically played separately. The band had nearly broken up in late 1967. Joe had gone solo, and considered hiring a Vancouver band (the United Empire Loyalists). Melton, meanwhile, had toured with the other three members as "The Incredible Fish." In the nomenclature of local rock billing, if Melton was appearing as with "The Fish" it meant he would be playing electric, but without Country Joe. I think the Family Dog was a warmup gig for the new Fish lineup, and I suspect that Melton played with Kapner, Metzner and Dewey. 

Did Country Joe show up? Very likely not. McDonald had a two-week engagement with a satirical performance troupe called The Pitschel Players. He was appearing as part of their revue at The Intersection on Union Street, and it was widely advertised. As if that wasn't enough, on Sunday afternoon (June 29), Country Joe was headlining a show at the Frost Amphitheater in Stanford. So Joe was booked, and The Fish would be swimming without him. 


The Kaleidoscope w
ere from Los Angeles, and they were decades ahead of their time. They pretty much invented World Music, and pretty much no one was ready for it. In June 1969, the band had released their third album on Epic, Incredible! Kaleidoscope. It lived up to its name. While the band was still fronted by guitarist/multi-instrumentalist David Lindley, multi-instrumentalist Solomon Feldthouse and organist/multi-instrumentalist Chester Crill, they had a new rhythm section. Paul Lagos was the drummer and Stuart Brotman played bass. Anyone who ever saw the band live was lucky.

The Avalon had a reputation for finding cool bands before anyone else. If Helms booked a band at the Avalon, and they got good notices, Bill Graham wasn't far behind, offering them more money and a higher profile. Kaleidoscope had played the Avalon various times since early '67, and while they were too far ahead of their time for most listeners, other musicians just about lost their minds. When Kaleidoscope had played the Avalon on May 24-26, 1968 (booked between the Youngbloods and the Hour Glass, with Duane and Gregg Allman), the Yardbirds were booked at the Fillmore West the same weekend. Jimmy Page has told the story of taking time out between sets to walk the 12 blocks over to the Avalon just to catch the Kaleidoscope, and then walking the 12 blocks back to play his late night set with the Yardbirds.

In August 1968, the Kaleidoscope had finally played the Fillmore West, opening for the Grateful Dead (August 20-22), but they had never gotten over the hump. The hippie rock world--nor anywhere else--was just not ready for them. By 1969, they were back with Chet Helms, second on the bill at the Family Dog. David Lindley and Solomon Feldthouse had played the Jabberwock club in Berkeley, back in 1966, when Country Joe and The Fish were getting their start--Brooklynite Melton would play solo gigs as "Blind Ebbets Field"--so I wouldn't be surprised if some jamming took place. But we have no record of these shows, so we don't know.

Los Flamencos de Las Santa Lucias were a troupe of local Flamenco performers, but beyond recognizing their name I know nothing about the group.

For a link to the next post (July 4-6, 1969 Flying Burrito Brothers), see here

 

Friday, January 7, 2022

June 20-22, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, 660 Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Sons Of Champlin/Congress Of Wonders/Elvin Bishop Group (FDGH '69 II)

 

The Family Dog on The Great Highway, at 660 Great Highway, ca. 1969

The Family Dog on The Great Highway, 660 Great Highway, San Francisco, CA
The Family Dog was a foundation stone in the rise of San Francisco rock, and it was in operation in various forms from Fall 1965 through the Summer of 1970. For sound historical reasons, most of the focus on the Family Dog has been on the original 4-person collective who organized the first San Francisco Dance Concerts in late 1965, and on their successor Chet Helms. Helms took over the Family Dog in early 1966, and after a brief partnership with Bill Graham at the Fillmore, promoted memorable concerts at the Avalon Ballroom from Spring 1966 through December 1968. The posters, music and foggy memories of the Avalon are what made the Family Dog a legendary 60s rock icon.

In the Summer of 1969, however, with San Francisco as one of the fulcrums of the rock music explosion, Chet Helms opened another venue. The Family Dog on The Great Highway, at 660 Great Highway, on the Western edge of San Francisco, was only open for 14 months and was not a success. Yet numerous interesting bands played there, and remarkable events took place, and they are only documented in a scattered form. This series of posts will undertake a systematic review of every musical event at the Family Dog on The Great Highway. In general, each post will represent a week of musical events at the venue, although that may vary slightly depending on the bookings.

If anyone has memories, reflections, insights, corrections or flashbacks about shows at the Family Dog on the Great Highway, please post them in the Comments.

660 Great Highway in San Francisco in 1967, when it was the ModelCar Raceway, a slot car track

The Edgewater Ballroom, 660 Great Highway, San Francisco, CA

As early as 1913, there were rides and concessions at Ocean Beach in San Francisco, near the Richmond District. By 1926, they had been consolidated as Playland-At-The-Beach. The Ocean Beach area included attractions such as the Sutro Baths and the Cliff House. The San Francisco Zoo was just south of Playland, having opened in the 1930s. One of the attractions at Playland was a restaurant called Topsy's Roost. The restaurant had closed in 1930, and the room became the Edgewater Ballroom. The Ballroom eventually closed, and Playland went into decline when its owner died in 1958. By the 1960s, the former Edgewater was a slot car raceway. In early 1969, Chet Helms took over the lease of the old Edgewater.
One of the only photos of the interior of the Family Dog on The Great Highway (from a Stephen Gaskin "Monday Night Class" ca. October 1969)

The Family Dog On The Great Highway

The Great Highway was a four-lane road that ran along the Western edge of San Francisco, right next to Ocean Beach. Downtown San Francisco faced the Bay, but beyond Golden Gate Park was the Pacific Ocean. The aptly named Ocean Beach is dramatic and beautiful, but it is mostly windy and foggy. Much of the West Coast of San Francisco is not even a beach, but rocky cliffs. There are no roads in San Francisco West of the Great Highway, so "660 Great Highway" was ample for directions (for reference, it is near the intersection of Balboa Street and 48th Avenue). The tag-line "Edge Of The Western World" was not an exaggeration, at least in American terms.

The Family Dog on The Great Highway was smaller than the Bill Graham's old Fillmore Auditorium. It could hold up to 1500, but the official capacity was probably closer to 1000. Unlike the comparatively centrally located Fillmore West, the FDGH was far from downtown, far from the Peninsula suburbs, and not particularly easy to get to from the freeway. For East Bay or Marin residents, the Great Highway was a formidable trip. The little ballroom was very appealing, but if you didn't live way out in the Avenues, you had to drive. As a result, FDGH didn't get a huge number of casual drop-ins, and that didn't help its fortunes. Most of the locals referred to the venue as "Playland."

June 20-22, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Sons Of Champlin/Elvin Bishop/Congress Of Wonders
(Friday-Sunday)
After the very successful opening weekend with the Jefferson Airplane, the Family Dog settled back to more conventional fare. Unlike the Avalon or the Fillmore West, the Family Dog on the Great Highway did not have posters for each show. I believe some hand-drawn flyers have circulated, but I have not been able to find very many examples. In any case, to my knowledge they were neither large nor artistically interesting, so they didn't get tacked up on dormitory walls. Truthfully, the rock market had changed, and by 1969 posters were more about what we now call "Branding." Most Fillmore and Avalon posters had been immediately pulled off telephone poles and shop windows as soon as they were put up. Both Graham and Helms made good money selling reprints of the posters, which was fine, but other than in the early days, the posters weren't really intended to directly entice patrons to the next show.

In 1969 San Francisco, live music was mainstream enough that fans expected to see upcoming shows listed in the two daily papers, the morning San Francisco Chronicle and the afternoon Examiner (as well as the Oakland Tribune). Rock fans also looked in the weekly Berkeley Barb, and when colleges were in session, there would be ads or notices in the student papers. The role of a promoter was to make sure that all the papers had notice of upcoming shows, since the papers in turn wanted the events listed--without charge--in the entertainment section. Publishers knew that young people would read a paper to see who was playing live (as well as for movie times, tv schedules and sports events), so advertising was only necessary for bigger events. Helms almost never advertised the FDGH shows, partially out of shrewd recognition that it wasn't required, and partially because the venue was run on a shoestring.

The key to live success for a rock band in San Francisco, or any city, was radio airplay. KSAN-fm was the dominant music station in the Bay Area, and djs could play what they wanted. If the djs liked the bands, and played the records, people would come. Every night, certainly every weekend, KSAN djs would announce who was playing at the different venues. One reason that posters for big rock shows dropped away after the Fillmore and Avalon was that they were a needless expense that did not improve attendance. Radio ads and announcements were critical, with newspaper listings and ads a close second. I don't know if Helms ever advertised the FDGH on KSAN. My guess is not (any insights or Comments welcome).


The Sons Of Champlin
had played the Avalon for Chet Helms many times, going back to 1966. In the intervening years, they had been signed by Capitol Records. Their debut, the double album Loosen Up Naturally, had been released in May 1969. The Sons were finally looking to get the reward for having played all over the Bay Area for the previous three years. They were a great live band, and they had built a solid local following. Their current lineup was

  • Bill Champlin-Hammond organ, guitar, lead vocals
  • Terry Haggerty-lead guitar
  • Tim Cain-tenor sax
  • Geoff Palmer-piano, Hammond organ, vibes, baritone sax
  • Al Strong-bass
  • Bill Bowen-drums

All of the members, save for Palmer, had been in the Sons since the band had formed in mid-66. Palmer had joined in 1967, so he was a band veteran by this time as well. Trumpeter Jim Beem had been a member of the band, and still may have had some involvement, but he had some health issues. During the 1969 period, the Sons also had a second drummer (John "Fuzzy" Oxendine), but he only lasted about 4 gigs, and no one quite recalls which ones they were.

At this time, the Sons live set was pretty much the contents of Loosen Up Naturally, along with a few choice covers. The Sons had played so many dances that they knew all the classic James Brown songs, and "Turn On Your Lovelight, " and so on. There's every reason to think that the Sons Of Champlin put on great shows on the second weekend at the Family Dog, but we don't have any accounts. 


Elvin Bishop
, from Tulsa by way of Chicago, had joined the Butterfield Blues Band in the early 60s. Bishop had initially shared guitar duties with Michael Bloomfield on the bands' first album. Bishop had graduated from wingman to lead soloist for the next two Butterfield albums (1967's Resurrection Of Pigboy Crabshaw and '68's In My Own Dream), and then left the band to move to San Francisco in 1968. He had been leading his own group in the Bay Area since early 1969. The likely lineup of the Elvin Bishop Group at the time was

  • Elvin Bishop-lead guitar, vocals
  • Applejack (Jack Walroth)-harmonica, vocals
  • (Stephen Miller-organ, vocals) when available
  • Art Stavro-bass
  • John Chambers-drums, vocals

Organist Stephen Miller (not the more famous guitarist) was a full time member of the band Linn County, who had relocated to the Bay Area from Cedar Rapids, IA. Linn County recorded for Mercury, but Miller played gigs with Bishop when he could (he would join the Elvin Bishop Group permanently when Linn County broke up in 1970). On this weekend, Linn County was playing the Poppycock in Palo Alto on Friday and Saturday, so Miller probably only sat in on Sunday night. Bishop was signed to Bill Graham's new Fillmore Records label, distributed by Columbia. Bishop would release his own debut album Elvin Bishop Group sometime later in 1969.


Congress of Wonders
were a comedy trio 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.

Ultimately a duo, 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 ("Pigeon Park" is from their 1970 debut album Revolting). The duo was one of a number of comedy troupes to take advantage of the recording studio, overdubbing voices and sound effects in stereo, to enhance the comedy.


For some photos of The Congress of Wonders, see here (Earl Pillow (actually Wesley Hind) was the original third member) and here.  

 

For the next post in the series (June 27-29, 1969), see here. 








Saturday, January 1, 2022

June 13-15, 1969 Family Dog On The Great Highway, 660 Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Jefferson Airplane/Charlatans/Pulse/Devil's Kitchen (FDGH '69 I)

The Family Dog on The Great Highway, at 660 Great Highway, ca. 1969

The Family Dog on The Great Highway, 660 Great Highway, San Francisco, CA
The Family Dog was a foundation stone in the rise of San Francisco rock, and it was in operation in various forms from Fall 1965 through the Summer of 1970. For sound historical reasons, most of the focus on the Family Dog has been on the original 4-person collective who organized the first San Francisco Dance Concerts in late 1965, and on their successor Chet Helms. Helms took over the Family Dog in early 1966, and after a brief partnership with Bill Graham at the Fillmore, promoted memorable concerts at the Avalon Ballroom from Spring 1966 through December 1968. The posters, music and foggy memories of the Avalon are what made the Family Dog a legendary 60s rock icon.

In the Summer of 1969, however, with San Francisco as one of the fulcrums of the rock music explosion, Chet Helms opened another venue. The Family Dog on The Great Highway, at 660 Great Highway, on the Western edge of San Francisco, was only open for 14 months and was not a success. Yet numerous interesting bands played there, and remarkable events took place, and they are only documented in a scattered form. This series of posts will undertake a systematic review of every musical event at the Family Dog on The Great Highway. In general, each post will represent a week of musical events at the venue, although that may vary slightly depending on the bookings.

If anyone has memories, reflections, insights, corrections or flashbacks about shows at the Family Dog on the Great Highway, please post them in the Comments.

660 Great Highway in San Francisco in 1967, when it was the ModelCar Raceway, a slot car track

The Edgewater Ballroom, 660 Great Highway, San Francisco, CA

As early as 1913, there were rides and concessions at Ocean Beach in San Francisco, near the Richmond District. By 1926, they had been consolidated as Playland-At-The-Beach. The Ocean Beach area included attractions such as the Sutro Baths and the Cliff House. The San Francisco Zoo was just south of Playland, having opened in the 1930s. One of the attractions at Playland was a restaurant called Topsy's Roost. The restaurant had closed in 1930, and the room became the Edgewater Ballroom. The Ballroom eventually closed, and Playland went into decline when its owner died in 1958. By the 1960s, the former Edgewater was a slot car raceway. In early 1969, Chet Helms took over the lease of the old Edgewater.

One of the only photos of the interior of the Family Dog on The Great Highway (from a Stephen Gaskin "Monday Night Class" ca. October 1969)

The Family Dog On The Great Highway

The Great Highway was a four-lane road that ran along the Western edge of San Francisco, right next to Ocean Beach. Downtown San Francisco faced the Bay, but beyond Golden Gate Park was the Pacific Ocean. The aptly named Ocean Beach is dramatic and beautiful, but it is mostly windy and foggy. Much of the West Coast of San Francisco is not even a beach, but rocky cliffs. There are no roads in San Francisco West of the Great Highway, so "660 Great Highway" was ample for directions (for reference, it is near the intersection of Balboa Street and 48th Avenue). The tag-line "Edge Of The Western World" was not an exaggeration, at least in American terms.

The Family Dog on The Great Highway was smaller than the Bill Graham's old Fillmore Auditorium. It could hold up to 1500, but the official capacity was probably closer to 1000. Unlike the comparatively centrally located Fillmore West, the FDGH was far from downtown, far from the Peninsula suburbs, and not particularly easy to get to from the freeway. For East Bay or Marin residents, the Great Highway was a formidable trip. The little ballroom was very appealing, but if you didn't live way out in the Avenues, you had to drive. As a result, FDGH didn't get a huge number of casual drop-ins, and that didn't help its fortunes. Most of the locals referred to the venue as "Playland."


June 13-14, 1969 Family Dog On The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Jefferson Airplane/Charlatans/Pulse/Devil's Kitchen/Jim Rinehart
(Friday-Saturday)
June 15, 1969 Family Dog On The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Charlatans/Pulse/Devil's Kitchen/Jim Rinehart
(Sunday)
Chet Helms opened his new Family Dog venue with the first two San Francisco psychedelic bands, the Jefferson Airplane and The Charlatans. The two bands had played the very first Family Dog dance at Longshoreman's Hall on October 16, 1965. Of course, Helms was not part of the Family Dog at the time, as he did not take over until January, 1966. And while the Jefferson Airplane were now one of the most popular, hip rock bands in the country by 1969, the truth is they had not played much for Chet Helms. They had played the Fillmore for him once (February 22, 1966), a weekend at the Avalon (July 22-23, 1966) and a weekend at the Denver Family Dog (November 7-8, 1967), but that had been it. I don't believe Helms liked dealing with their former manager Matthew Katz, and Katz of course had been replaced by Bill Graham, who was hardly looking to book them at the Avalon. It was San Francisco, though, so everyone was still friends.

At this time, the current Jefferson Airplane album was their live record, Bless Its Pointed Little Head, recorded at Fillmores East and West in late 1968. It had reached #17 on the Billboard charts. Their most recent studio album had been Crown Of Creation, released in September 1968, and reaching #6. The band had just finished recording their Volunteers album. It would be released in November, and would go on to become an iconic classic for the band. The Airplane had their most famous lineup, too, with Grace Slick, Marty Balin and Paul Kantner on vocals, Jorma Kaukonen on lead guitar, Jack Casady on bass and Spencer Dryden on drums. The band could be unreliable in performance, but when they hit their marks they were formidable indeed, and Grace Slick had as much star power as any rock figure. It was only appropriate that an important new San Francisco rock venue would be opened with San Francisco's most important rock band.

The Charlatans had the almost precisely opposite arc to the Airplane. The Charlatans were an original San Francisco band, arguably the original San Francisco psychedelic band. The group got noticed in the Summer of 1965, playing at a hotel called the Red Dog Saloon, in the deserted Silver mining town of Virginia City, NV. Only about 5 hours from San Francisco, the Charlatans spent several weeks playing there. Many of the folks who attended were from the city. The Charlatans dressed in cheap Edwardian clothes they got from thrift shops, they jammed the blues while tripping on LSD (which was legal) and there was a light show behind them. This was the model for the first San Francisco Family Dog dances. The Charlatans even popularized colorful, mysterious posters promoting their shows. 

By 1969, the Charlatans had been eclipsed by every band they inspired. They had broken up, reformed, never released an album and undergone numerous personnel changes. Former drummer Dan Hicks had switched to guitar and was now the lead singer. Lead guitarist Michael Wilhelm and bassist Richard Olsen were still in the band, but the other members (drummer Terry Wilson and pianist Darrel DeVore) were new. The Charlatans were a legendary San Francisco underground rock name, but few had actually heard their music, and by 1969 they weren't that exceptional.

Pulse was a unique solo act featuring one Brent Lewis playing congas and other drums, which in turn triggered strobe lights and other effects. It might have been entertaining in concert, but it wasn't a lasting model.

Devil's Kitchen was a band from Carbondale, IL, that had relocated to San Francisco in the Spring of 1968. They would become a sort of house band at the Family Dog, whatever exactly that meant. I think it meant that Devil's Kitchen kept their equipment at the venue, and played a lot of gigs there when they weren't officially on the bill.

Jim Rinehart was a juggler.

SF Examiner headline for Phil Elwood's review in the Saturday June 14, 1969 edition

The opening night was a huge success. Phil Elwood reviewed the show in the Saturday (June 14) Examiner. He said that 1500 were packed into the hall, and nearly as many were outside and couldn't get in. He also mentioned that the hall was smaller than the old Fillmore, which had an official capacity of 1500, so that means the FDGH must have had an even smaller official (Fire Dept approved) capacity.

The Family Dog on The Great Highway was an opening night success. Unfortunately, the venue never got beyond its initial peak. I don't know anything about the following night. Given that it was Saturday, and the Airplane were headlining, I'm sure it did well, and probably sold out. But for the FDGH to succeed, its location required that it had to be a destination. Without the high flying Jefferson Airplane, that was rarely the case. Elwood reported that the Airplane began their set in a rather ragged fashion, which was common for them. He left at 12:30 am, as the Airplane started their third number, but he acknowledged that they seemed to be finding their mojo.

I am fairly certain that the Airplane set was broadcast live on KSAN-fm, the city's leading rock station. Since Airplane tapes are not documented like Grateful Dead tapes, I can't say that with absolute assurance. This too, was an anomaly--there was never another live FM broadcast from the Family Dog on The Great Highway. Nothing is known about the Sunday night show, with just the Charlatans topping the bill. Given that it was Sunday night, it was likely very thinly attended.

Next Week's bookings:
June 20-22, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Sons Of Champlin/Congress Of Wonders/Elvin Bishop Group (Friday-Sunday)

Friday, December 31, 2021

Family Dog on The Great Highway Navigation and Post Tracker (1969-70)


The Family Dog on The Great Highway, at 660 Great Highway, ca. 1969

The Family Dog on The Great Highway, 660 Great Highway, San Francisco, CA
The Family Dog was a foundation stone in the rise of San Francisco rock, and it was in operation in various forms from Fall 1965 through the Summer of 1970. For sound historical reasons, most of the focus on the Family Dog has been on the original 4-person collective who organized the first San Francisco Dance Concerts in late 1965, and on their successor Chet Helms. Helms took over the Family Dog in early 1966, and after a brief partnership with Bill Graham at the Fillmore, promoted memorable concerts at the Avalon Ballroom from Spring 1966 through December 1968. The posters, music and foggy memories of the Avalon are what made the Family Dog a legendary 60s rock icon.

In the Summer of 1969, however, with San Francisco as one of the fulcrums of the rock music explosion, Chet Helms opened another venue. The Family Dog on The Great Highway, at 660 Great Highway, on the Western edge of San Francisco, was only open for 14 months and was not a success. Yet numerous interesting bands played there, and remarkable events took place, and they are only documented in a scattered form. This series of posts will undertake a systematic review of every musical event at the Family Dog on The Great Highway. In general, each post will represent a week of musical events at the venue, although that may vary slightly depending on the bookings.

This post will act as a Tracker for the series. The titles and links of each post are included as they are put on to the blog. The titles of forthcoming posts will also be listed, and linked when they are published. Some Grateful Dead events were covered in both my Grateful Dead blogs and also as part of this series. I will include links to both.

At the bottom of the list, I am including earlier posts about the Family Dog from my other blogs.  The information from those posts will be interpolated into the new posts, but some of them have different visual materials and interesting Comment Threads.

For a complete list of Family Dog shows (including FDGH), see here

June 13-15, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Jefferson Airplane/The Charlatans/Pulse/Devil's Kitchen (Friday-Sunday) [FDGH '69 I)

June 20-22, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Sons Of Champlin/Congress Of Wonders/Elvin Bishop Group (Friday-Sunday) [FDGH '69 II]

June 27-29, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Barry "The Fish" Melton/Kaleidoscope/Los Flamencos de la Santa Lucia (Friday-Sunday) [FDGH '69 III]

July 4-6, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Big Mama Thornton/Flying Burrito Brothers/Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band (Friday-Sunday) [FDGH '69 IV]
There was also a free concert scheduled at the Dog on Friday afternoon (July 4), but it's unknown who played.

July 7, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Joan Baez/It's A Beautiful Day/West (Monday) [FDGH '69 V]
This was a fundraising concert for the (ultimately canceled) Wild West Festival scheduled for Kezar Stadium in late August. The Family Dog also produced a show at Fillmore West the same night, also discussed in this post:

July 7, 1969 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA: Jefferson Airplane/Ace Of Cups/Fourth Way/Phoenix (Monday) Wild West Festival Fundraiser Family Dog Productions 

July 11-13, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Youngbloods/Lamb/Rubber Duck/Mother Bear (Friday-Sunday) [FDGH '69 VI]

July 18-20, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Sir Douglas Quintet/Shades of Joy/Bycycle/Prince Albert and The Cans (Friday-Sunday) [FDGH '69 VII]

July 25-27, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Charlie Musselwhite/Poco/Zoot Money (Friday-Sunday) [FDGH '69 VIII]
Includes the Tuesday July 22 show with Cleanliness Godliness Skiffle Band/Congress of Wonders

August 1, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Light Show Strike [Grateful Dead canceled] (Friday) [FDGH '69 IX]

August 2-3, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Grateful Dead/Albert Collins/Ballet Afro-Haiti (Saturday-Sunday) [FDGH '69 X]

August 8-10, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Country Joe and The Fish/Tongue and Groove/Tyrannosaurus Rex (Friday-Sunday) [FDGH '69 XI]
Includes the August 7 Tony Pigg Sock-Hop

August 12 or 13, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: New Lost City Ramblers/New Riders of The Purple Sage (Tuesday or Wednesday) [FDGH '69 XII]
Includes the August 14 jam with the New Lost City Ramblers and Mickey Hart and The Hartbeats

August 15-16, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Mike Bloomfield and Nick Gravenites/Southern Comfort/Devil's Kitchen (Friday-Saturday) [FDGH '69 XIII]
Includes the Sunday August 17 show headlined by Taj Mahal 

August 19, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: New Riders of The Purple Sage (Tuesday) [FDGH '69 XIV]

August 22-24, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Wild West Festival "Makeup shows" (Friday-Sunday) [FDGH '69 XV]
Includes the Fillmore West Wild West Festival "Makeup Shows" August 22-24, 1969 Fillmore West 

August 22, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Freedom Highway/Seatrain/Congress of Wonders/Flamin Groovies/Phoenix/Rubber Duck Co (Friday) 7pm

August 23, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Tree Of Life/Phananganang/Marble Farm/Joe Tate's Desperate Skuffle Band/Lazarus/Flying Circus/Sebastian Moon/Bicycle (Saturday) noon

August 23, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Quicksilver Messenger Service/Mt Rushmore/Sons of Champlin/Jimmy Witherspoon/Devil's Kitchen/Hindu Folk Band/Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen (Saturday) 8pm

August 24, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Faun/Cold Turkey/Nazgul/Alice Stuart and Minx/Mendelbaum/Mother Bear/Transatlantic Railroad (Sunday) noon

August 24, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Its A Beautiful Day/South Bay Experimental Flash/Youngbloods/Shag/Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band/Buddy Miles Express (Sunday) 7pm

Fillmore West Wild West Makeup Shows, August 22-24, 1969 

August 22, 1969 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA: Quicksilver Messenger Service/Youngbloods/The Committee/Ace Of Cups/West (Friday)

August 23, 1969 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA: Jefferson Airplane/AUM/Los Flamencos de la Santa Lucia/Sanpaku/Marvin and The Uptights (Saturday)

August 24, 1969 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA: Country Joe and The Fish/Sons Of Champlin/Elvin Bishop/Freedom Highway/Fast Bucks (Sunday)

August 26, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: The Great SF Light Show Jam [FDGH '69 XVI] 

August 26, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: The Great SF Light Show Jam (Vintage Dead: Found and Lost)
This is the Grateful Dead entry.

August 28, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Grateful Dead/Mickey Hart and The Hartbeats/New Riders of The Purple Sage (Thursday) [FDGH '69 XVII]

August 28-30, 1969, Family Dog at The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Grateful Dead/Hartbeats/New Riders of The Purple Sage/Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen/Rubber Duck (Archaeology) [FDGH II]
This is the more recent Grateful Dead entry for the weekend.

August 29-30, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Grateful Dead/New Riders of The Purple Sage/Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen/Rubber Duck (Friday-Saturday) [FDGH '69 XVIII]

Includes
August 31, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Gravity/Transatlantic Railroad/Devil's Kitchen/SF Radical Lab (Sunday)

September 6, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Jefferson Airplane/Grateful Dead (Saturday) [FDGH '69 XIX]

includes
September 1, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Monday Night class
September 2, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Theater of The Absurd Costume Ball (Tuesday)
September 3, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Latin Night (Wednesday)
September 4, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Carnival Coronation Ball for Miss Playland 1969 with Devil's Kitchen/Flying Circus (Thursday)
September 7, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: jam

September 6, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Jefferson Airplane/Grateful Dead (What Do We Know?) [FDGH IV]
This was the Grateful Dead entry.

September 12-14, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: It's A Beautiful Day/Sons Of Champlin/Fourth Way (Friday-Sunday) [FDGH '69 XX]

includes
September 9, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Sufi Dervish Dancing, Pakistani Fashion Show, Phoenix (Tuesday)
September 10, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA:
Latin Rock w/Kwane and The Kwanditos/Los Flamencos de la Santa Lucia (Wednesday)
September 11, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Purple Earthquake/Johnny Mars Blues Band/Wisdom Fingers/Osceola
(Thursday)
September 15-26, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: various bookings [FDGH '69 XXI]
includes
September 15, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Monday Night class
September 16, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA:
In Search of America (Tuesday)
September 17, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Film and Light Spectacular
(Wednesday)
September 18, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Richmond Symphony
(Thursday)
September 19-21, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Circus Of The Absurd Costume Ball: Carlos Carvajal/Moog Synthesizer of the SF Radical Laboratories/Shag/Devil's Kitchen
(Friday-Sunday)
September 22, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA:
Monday Night class
September 23, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA:
Unbirthday Party (Tuesday)
September 24, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA:
Games Night (Wednesday)
September 25, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Light Show
(Thursday)
September 26-28 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA:Rhythm Dukes w/Jerry Miller/Floating Bridge/surprise group
(Friday-Sunday)

October 3-5, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Kaleidoscope/Clover/Charlie Musselwhite/Congress Of Wonders/Bycycle (Friday-Saturday)[FDGH '69 XXII]

October 7-8-9, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Holy Man Jam [FDGH '69 XXIII]
Includes

October 7-9, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Holy Man Jam (Tuesday-Thursday)
  • Tuesday, October 7: Stephen Gaskin
  • Wednesday, October 8: Malachi, Alan Watts, Michael Larimer, Rev. Hensley, Alan Noonan
  • Thursday, October 9: Timothy Leary
  • With the following groups during the three nights:
  • Jerry Abrams Headlights, Dr. Zarkov, Holy See, Rainbow Jam, Sweet Misery, Sebastian Moon, Mayflower, Lazarus, Phoenix, Master Choy, Shlomo Carlabach, Golden Toad, Chirhanjeez, Osceola, It's A Beautiful Day, Garden Of Delights
October 10-12, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Sons Of Champlin/A.B. Skhy Blues Band/Brewer and Shipley (Friday-Sunday)
October 13, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Stephen Gaskin
(Monday)
October 14, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Stephen Gaskin/Chinese People/Jim Kimmel/Canterbury Fair/Cloud
(Tuesday)
October 15, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway,
San Francisco, CA:  Garden Of Delights/Horror Flicks (Wednesday)

October 16, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA:Anonymous Artists of America (Thursday) San Francisco, CA:  Garden Of Delights/Horror Flicks (Wednesday)

October 17-30, Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: various bookings (FDGH '69 XXIV]
Includes
October 17-19, 1969 Family Dog at The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Malachi/Floating Lotus Opera Company/Golden Toad (Friday-Sunday) Saturday (October 18) only plus Alan Watts

October 20, 1969 Family Dog on the Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Monday Night Class with Stephen Gaskin
 
October 21, 1969 Family Dog on the Great Highway, San Francisco, CA:
A Night of Guitar and Dance, Classical Flamenco, Folk and Rock (Tuesday)

October 22, 1969 Family Dog on the Great Highway, San Francisco, CA New Riders of the Purple Sage/Lazarus 
(Wednesday) Ecological Ball

October 23, 1969 Family Dog on the Great Highway, San Francisco, CA
Acoustic Stringed Instrument Night (Thursday)

October 24-26, 1969 Family Dog on the Great Highway, San Francisco, CA Osceola/Barry McGuire & the Doctor/Shag/Clover
(Sat only replaces Shag) (Friday-Sunday)

October 27, 1969 Family Dog on the Great Highway, San Francisco, CA Osceola/Occultist/Phoenix/ Heavy Water/Beefy Red "Peoples Night" 
(Monday) Cusp Party of Libra and Scorpio

October 29, 1969 Family Dog on the Great Highway, San Francisco, CA Johnny Mars Blues Band/The Womb "American Indian Well Baby Clinic"
[Celebration of the Mended Spirit] (Wednesday)

October 30, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: "Minstrel Night" Golden Toad/Dr Humbead's New Tranquility String Band
(Thursday)

November 1-2, 1969, Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Grateful Dead/Danny Cox/Golden Toad [FDGH '69 XXV]

Includes

October 31, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Danny Cox/Alan Watts/Golden Toad/Hells Angels Own Band (Friday)

November 1-2, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Grateful Dead/Danny Cox/Golden Toad (Saturday-Sunday)

November 4, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Workshop with Family Circus/Rainbow Jam Sky/music by children of Mu (Tuesday)

November 5, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Family of Man-Family of God (Wednesday)

November 6, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Acoustic Strings Night/Pup Fisher/All God's Children (Thursday

November 7-9, Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Velvet Underground/Danny Cox/Maximum Speed Limit [FDGH '69 XXVI]

Includes:

November 7-9, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Velvet Underground/Danny Cox/John Adams (Sat-Sun only)/Maximum Speed Limit (Friday-Sunday) 

November 11, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Mellotime Review (Tuesday)

November 12, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Anonymous Artists of America "own axe night" (Wednesday)

November 19, Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA: Steve Miller Band/New Riders of The Purple Sage/Big Brother and The Holding Company Benefit for the Family Dog [FDGH '69 XXVII]

Includes

November 14-16, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Apple Jam/Osceola/Canterbury Fair (Friday-Sunday)

November 18, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: New Riders of The Purple Sage (Tuesday)

November 19, 1969 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA: Family Dog Benefit with Steve Miller Band/New Riders of The Purple Sage/Barry McGuire and The Doctor/Humble, Mumble, Fumble and Dumble (formerly Big Brother and The Holding Company) (Wednesday)

November 20, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: It's A Beautiful Day/Richmond Symphony/New Tranquility String Band (Thursday)

November 21, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Anonymous Artists of America/Devil's Kitchen (Friday)
November 22-23, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: New Riders of The Purple Sage/Anonymous Artists of America/Devil's Kitchen
(Saturday-Sunday)

November 25, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Conspiracy Of Media (Tuesday)

November 26, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Film Orgy (Wednesday)

November 27, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Cleveland Wrecking Company/New Riders of The Purple Sage/Lamb/Deacon and The Suprelles/East Bay Sharks/Pitschell Players/Morning Glory Theater Free City Puppet Ball (Thursday)

November 28-30, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks/Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen (Friday)/Floating Bridge (Saturday-Sunday)/Dr. Humbead's New Tranquility String Band/Vern & Ray (Friday-Sunday)

December 1969, Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Canned Heat and Lonnie Mack [FDGH '69 XXVIII]

includes
December 12-14, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Canned Heat/Rhythm Dukes/Bob McPharlin (Friday-Sunday)

December 26-28, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Lonnie Mack/Osceola/AB Skhy/Lambert & Nuttycombe (Friday-Sunday)

January 9-10, 1970 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Chambers Brothers and Friends  [FDGH '70 I]

includes

January 2-4, 1970, Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Osceola/Cleveland Wrecking Company/Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen (Fri-Sat)/Devil's Kitchen/Mendelbaum (Sun only) (Friday-Sunday)
January 5, 1970 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Monday Night Class
January 8, 1970
audition (Thursday)
January 11, 1970 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Jam with 5 bands
(Sunday)

January 30-31, Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Jefferson Airplane/Osceola  [FDGH '70 II]

January 30-31, 1970: Grateful Dead/Family Dog Merger (Not To Be) [FDGH VI]

February 3, 1970 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Jefferson Airplane/Grateful Dead (Lost and Found) [FDGH VII]

February 4, 1970 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Jefferson Airplane/Grateful Dead/Santana/Kimberly "A Night At The Family Dog" [FDGH '70 III]

February 6-7, 1970 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Quicksilver Messenger Service/Mike Seeger/Freedom Highway [FDGH '70 IV]
includes Monday February 9-Stephen Gaskin  (from Feb 15 onwards, Gaskin moves to the Cliff House)

February 13-14, 1970 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Steve Miller Band/Elvin Bishop Group [FDGH '70 V]

February 20-21, 1970 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Big Brother and The Holding Company with Nick Gravenites/Cat Mother and The All-Night Newsboys [FDGH '70 VI]

February 27-March 1, 1970 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Grateful Dead/Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen [FDGH '70 VII]

March 6-8, 1970 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Lee Michaels/Rhythm Dukes/Robert Savage [FDGH '70 VIII]

March 13-15, 1970 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Country Joe and The Fish/Joy Of Cooking [FDGH '70 IX]

March 18, 1970 Family Dog on the Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Rolling Thunder/Hot Tuna/New Riders of the Purple Sage  [Benefit for the Sons of Thunder] [FDGH '70 X]

March 20-22, 1970 Family Dog on the Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Big Brother & the Holding Company/Kaleidoscope/Devil's Kitchen [FDGH '70 XI]

March 27-29, 1970 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Youngbloods/Jeffrey Cain/Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen [FDGH '70 XII]

April 3-5, 1970 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Eric Burdon and War/Ballin' Jack/Chet Nichols [FDGH '70 XIII]

includes

April 10-12, 1970 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Albert Collins/Rhythm Dukes/AB Skhy

April 17-19, 1970 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Mickey Hart and The Hartbeats/Bobby Ace and The Cards Off The Bottom of The Deck/New Riders of The Purple Sage/Charlie Musselwhite [FDGH '70 XIV]

April 24-26, 1970 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Quicksilver Messenger Service/Osceola/Robert Savage Group [FDGH '70 XV]

May 1-24, 1970 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: various shows [FDGH '70 XVI]

includes

May 1-3, 1970 Family Dog on the Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Big Brother and the Holding Company/Aum/Back Yard Mamas/Lambert & Nuttycombe (Friday-Sunday)

May 8-10, 1970 Family Dog on the Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen/Osceola/Southern Comfort (Friday-Sunday)   

May 15-16, 1970 Family Dog on the Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Big Mama Thornton/Sandy Bull/Mendlebaum/Doug McKecnenie and His Moog Synthesizer (Friday-Saturday)

May 22-24, 1970 Family Dog on the Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Shorty Featuring Georgie Fame,/Jerry Hahn Brotherhood/Fourth Way (Friday-Sunday)

May 29-June 27, 1970 Family Dog on The Great Highway, 660 Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Various shows [FDGH '70 XVII]

includes

May 29-31, 1970 Family Dog on the Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Indian Music Festival featuring Ali Akbar Khan, Indranil Bhattacharya, Zakir Hussain (Friday-Sunday)

June 7, 1970 Family Dog on the Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: The One Festival (Sunday)

June 13, 1970 Family Dog on the Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: First Anniversary at the Beach Party (Saturday)

June 17, 1970 Family Dog on the Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Michael Bloomfield & Marin Music Band/Charles Musselwhite Blues Band/Sandy Bull  St Jacques Benefit for the Porcupine Family Inc drug treatment program (Wednesday)

June 19-21, 1970 Family Dog on the Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Flying Burrito Brothers/Cat Mother & the All Night Newsboys/Rhythm Dukes with Bill Champlin and Jerry Miller  (Friday-Sunday)

June 23-25, 1970 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: 12 bands (Tuesday-Thursday)

June 27, 1970 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Krishna festival dinner (Sunday) 

June 30-July 1, 1970 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: The Kinks/Osceola [FDGH XVIII]

includes 

July 2, 1970 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: The Kinks/Beggars Opera (Thursday)

July 14-15, 1970 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Terry Reid/Cat Mother and The All Night Newsboys/Ace Of Cups [FDGH '70 XIX]

July 24-August 2, 1970 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: various shows [GDGH '70 XX]

includes

July 24-26, 1970 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Indian Puddin' & Pipe/Tripsichord/Phanangawang (Friday-Sunday)

July 27, 1970 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: AC Bhaktivendanta Swami (Monday)

July 31-August 2, 1970 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Youngbloods/Joy Of Cooking/Jeffery Cain (Friday-Sunday) 

August 14-August 22, 1970 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: The Edge Of The Western World--Journey's End [FDGH '70 XXI]

includes

August 14-16, 1970 Family Dog on The Great highway, San Francisco, CA: It's A Beautiful Day/Elvin Bishop Group/Sawbuck (Friday-Sunday)

August 21-22, 1970 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Quicksilver Messenger Service/Robert Savage Group/Backyard Mamas (Friday-Saturday)


Previously Published Posts
Some of these posts are over a decade old, but a few have Comment threads worth reading (particularly the Grateful Dead ones)

660 Great Highway, San Francisco Family Dog On The Great Highway July 25-27, 1969 Zoot Money/Poco/Charley Musselwhite  

August 3, 1969 Family Dog On The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Grateful Dead/Ballet Afro-Haiti/Albert Collins

August 13, 1969 Family Dog On The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: New Riders Of The Purple Sage/New Lost City Ramblers
There's a chance this was either actually August 12 or August 19, but that is discussed above.

August 22-23-24, 1969 Fillmore West/Family Dog, San Francisco--Wild West 'Makeup' Shows  

660 Great Highway, San Francisco August 26, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway: Great SF Light Show Jam  

August 28, 1969 Family Dog On The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Mickey Hart and The Hartbeats

660 Great Highway, San Francisco September 4, 1969 The Playland Girls Of 1969 

September 6-7, 1969 Family Dog On The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Jefferson Airplane/Grateful Dead 

660 Great Highway, San Francisco Family Dog On The Great Highway: December 12-14, 1969 Canned Heat/Rhythm Dukes (w/Jerry Miller)/Bob McPharlin 

660 Great Highway, San Francisco Family Dog On The Great Highway January 30-31, 1970: Jefferson Airplane/Osceola 

February 4, 1970 Family Dog On The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Jefferson Airplane/Grateful Dead/Santana/Kimberly
A KQED-tv special is filmed on a Wednesday night at the Dog.

April 17-19, 1970 Family Dog On The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Mickey Hart and The Hartbeats/Bobby Ace And The Cards Off The Bottom Of The Deck/Charlie Musselwhite/New Riders Of The Purple Sage
Some reflections on the context of a (then) newly discovered acoustic Dead tape.