Thursday, March 11, 2021

2504 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA: The Long Branch Saloon 1971 Performance List (and Building History--Long Branch I)


2504 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, as it appeared in August 2011. The building was the former site of the Cabale Creamery, The Good Buddy, Caverns West, the Questing Beast, Tito's, Babylon and The Long Branch Saloon. All were music venues in the 1960s or 70s.

2504 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA: Building History
2504 San Pablo Avenue (at Dwight Way) is almost two miles West and South of the UC Berkley campus. Back during World War 2, with the Oakland and Richmond shipyards full of workers on three shifts, San Pablo Avenue had been called "Music Row." There had been nightclubs and saloons all along the East Bay, as tired workers with their pockets full relaxed with some live music. Many musicians had relocated from the South or Southwest to the West Coast, since that was where all the work was. Many other musicians had migrated for factory work, only to find playing music more lucrative (and probably more fun). Even into the 1970s, there were still several nightclubs along the San Pablo Avenue corridor, a final hint of the booming war years.

2504 San Pablo Avenue itself was a seminal address in Berkeley '60s music history. It is a fact of zoning that use permits tend to persist, so a venue with a license to allow music will generally continue to offer music. It is far easier for a new proprietor to lease a building with an existing permit than lobby for a new one, so clubs often change names, owners and musical styles, but not addresses. In the early 1960s, 2504 San Pablo had been the site of The Cabale, later The Cabale Creamery, an essential stop on the early 60s folk circuit. In 1965 it briefly became The Good Buddy and then Caverns West, and in November of that year it became the pre-psychedelic Questing Beast. It was at the Questing Beast where local folksingers Joe McDonald and Barry Melton got some friends and "plugged in" to become Country Joe And The Fish.

The Questing Beast had closed in May 1966, and 2504 became Tito's, which featured live music but was mostly a dance club. In late 1969, the club was re-named Babylon, and featured local bands playing original music. In 1971, new owner Malcolm Williams doubled the capacity of the room from about 175 to around 350, and renamed the club The Long Branch Saloon. The Long Branch featured original music, too, but it paid a little better, with a correspondingly higher quality of performers.

Location and Memory
Sometime in the late 1980s or early 90s, Jerry Garcia was asked about his opinions of different venues around the country. By that time, the Grateful Dead had played every venue, some of them many times. Garcia admitted, however, that when he didn't remember names of venues--for one thing, they often changed--and in any case he was just driven there in a van. When he got on stage at the soundcheck, though, he admitted he would look around, and often recognize that he had played there before, thinking "oh yeah, this place, I've been here!"

Although few musicians have had the vast experience of Garcia, any rock fans who have lived in an area for a long time can recall that happening on occasion. You get tickets for a new club, and you get there, and park, and get inside, and look at the stage, and think--"hey wait a minute, this is where I saw the So-And-Sos." Musicians must play a lot of live shows must have this experience regularly, getting on stage and recognizing the view, realizing they had played the club with a different band when it had another name, or had seen their friends play there.

For musicians who played around the East Bay in the 60s and 70s one of those addresses would have been 2504 San Pablo Avenue. To illustrate this, I am going to point out the experiences of Jerry Garcia and Barry Melton, whose notoriety extends far enough that we know their history. The important point here, however, is that numerous patrons and musicians would have had multiple experiences at 2504 San Pablo, recognizing it every time, even if belatedly.

A calendar for Berkeley's Cabale, for December, 1963.

Cabale (Creamery) January 1963-April 1965
Sandy Rothman, a Berkeley bluegrass musician from way back, recalled Berkeley's Cabale (in a reflection no longer accessible on the internet)

It was on San Pablo Avenue, a main north-south thoroughfare parallel to Telegraph on the opposite (west) side of town, at the southwest corner of Dwight Way and San Pablo. I don't recall how "Creamery" got attached to it -- maybe from the steamed milk that was in the cappuccinos and lattes? The name "Cabale" was taken from "Cabala," a medieval system of Jewish mysticism. (Other dictionary definitions are: "a traditional, esoteric, occult, or secret matter" and "an esoteric doctrine or mysterious art." Do any of those terms resonate with bluegrass, nearly a cult in itself?! Hahaha.)

In the early 1960s, there was a ‘folk circuit’ that emphasized serious folk music like Doc Watson and Mississippi John Hurt (as opposed to the more popular Kingston Trio-style of folk music).  The Cabale was one of the anchors of the circuit, along with Club 47 in Cambridge, many clubs in Greenwich Village (such as the Gaslight and Folk City), the Ark in Ann Arbor and the Ash Grove in Los Angeles.  The story of this circuit is well told in Jim Rooney and Eric Von Schmidt’s fine book Baby Let Me Follow You Down (U-Mass Press, 1979).

The Cabale, at 2504 San Pablo Avenue (at Dwight), was a folk club founded in late 1962 by Rolf Cahn and Debbie Green (two Cambridge, MA folkies), along with Howard Ziehm and Red Dog alum Chandler A. Laughlin III (later known as Travus T. Hipp).  Cahn, a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany, had served in the US Army during the war and also played and taught classical, flamenco, and folk guitar. Cahn had also founded the Blind Lemon in 1958 (at 2362 San Pablo), the first Berkeley coffee house to feature folk music. 

The Cabale had opened on January 4, 1963 and ran until mid-1965, when the folk action moved to the Jabberwock.  Somewhere along the way Carroll Peery, manager of the Chambers Brothers and Big Mama Thornton, happened to acquire a majority interest in the Cabale.  The name of the venue was changed to the Cabale Creamery in August of 1964. (As a side issue, the one-time notoriety of the Cabale/Cabale Creamery coffee house led the local vice squad and FBI to ban the licensing of any business under the name "Cabale" in the future. However, the late Chan Laughlin retained Cabale News Service as his business cover). Physically, per Sandy Rothman and others, the Cabale was a fairly small, long and narrow, dark room with the ambience of a '50s Beat coffeehouse. Coffee drinks were made at the far end of the room. Initially, the stage was against the long wall on the north side of the room (the right side as you walked in); later, it was on the short wall just inside and to the right of the entrance.

The usual entertainment at the Cabale included local musicians and quite a few traveling "folk individuals" from the more developed Cambridge folk scene. Bluegrass was scheduled only occasionally at the Cabale, but on the other hand, it was the only club in Berkeley where it was presented at all during that period (1963-4). Thus, for musicians like Sandy Rothman or Jerry Garcia, the Cabale was a destination when someone like the Kentucky Colonels were playing. 

Jim Kweskin and The Jug Band (Unblushing Brassiness), Vanguard Records, December 1963 (Bruno Wolfe, Bob Siggins, Fritz Richmond, Jim Kweskin, Geoff Muldaur)

On March 11, 1964, the Jim Kweskin Jug Band played the Cabale. Jerry Garcia and his wife, plus some friends, made a pilgrimage to Berkeley to see them. The Kweskin Jug Band were an important band from the Cambridge folk scene, and had released their debut album on Vanguard in December of 1963. For young players like Jerry Garcia (in Palo Alto) or David Grisman (in Hackensack, NJ), it's hard to overstate the importance of this album. For one thing, Jug Band music was unknown prior to this album. Abruptly, every young hipster in America realized that they could form a band with their friends, and use any combination of instruments, whether played well or poorly.

Garcia, then newly married, was teaching music in Palo Alto and trying to start a music career. Famously, the self-absorbed Garcia was practicing banjo in the store on New Year's Eve '63, not reflecting why none of his students had shown up. A teenager heard the music and knocked on the door. When Garcia told the 15-year old from nearby Atherton that he wanted to form a jug band, young Bob Weir said "I'm in." And so it began. When the Kweskin band played a one-nighter, Garcia had to go (Weir was probably in exile at Boarding School). 

For Garcia, the striking thing about the Kweskin Jug Band was not the music, which was great. Unlike literally ever other group at the time, the Kweskin Band were not "entertainers." Even the Beatles, creative as they were, wore matching suits, had a structured show and had bits of showbiz patter between songs. The Kweskin crew wore what they liked, casually bantered with the audience and each other, played requests--if they felt like it--and enjoyed themselves. That was what folk music was like when you played it in your living room. The Kweskin Band was just inviting everybody in to join them. That, right there, was the model for the Grateful Dead: play what you want, enjoy yourself, and invite along anyone who thinks that it would be fun. 

Garcia was also friendly with the Kentucky Colonels and their great guitarist Clarence White. The Colonels played the Cabale a number of times, and Garcia surely went to see them any time he could. The Cabale didn't book bluegrass that often, but no other club booked bluegrass at all. So even though he lived in Palo Alto, Garcia made the trips to Berkeley when it was important. For such a tiny, unassuming place, the Cabale is remembered fondly by many Berkeley musicians.

Just as a sample, in January, 1964, the Cabale booked, among others
Bob Neuwirth-Cambridge folksinger who was famous as Bob Dylan's running mate
Pat Kilroy-Berkeley folk singer who founded the band New Age
Perry Lederman-obscure but influential Berkeley guitarist (later he did something-or-other for some Owsley character)
Danny Kalb-a few years later, lead guitarist for The Blues Project
Reverend Gary Davis-"If I Had My Way," "Death Don't Have No Mercy," and many more
Jesse Fuller-one-man band from Oakland ("San Francisco Bay Blues," "Beat It On Down The Line")

The name was amended from simply "the Cabale" to the Cabale Creamery in August 1964.  The club folded around May, 1965.

A calendar for the Questing Beast in May, 1966. In fact, most of these gigs were never played, since the City of Berkeley pulled the club's cabaret license. The final musical performers were Country Joe and The Fish on May 7, 1966

The Questing Beast November 19, 1965-May 9, 1966
When the Cabale finally folded, probably sometime in the Spring of 1965, the 2504 San Pablo premises briefly became The Good Buddy (a poster survives from May 1965), and then Caverns West. Ultimately it was taken over by Terry Sullivan and Tony Sage, and re-opened as the Questing Beast on November 19, 1965. For another endeavour, we looked at the history of The Questing Beast in some detail (for a more complete saga, including a list of known performances, see our page on the Questing Beast).

The Questing Beast was primarily a folk coffeehouse and hosted similar acts to the Jabberwock on Telegraph Avenue. It booked mostly Folk, but with a fair amount of flamenco, bluegrass and classical guitar playing thrown in. By all accounts it never managed to turn a profit. Still, there was a hint of electricity in the there, making the Beast a somewhat different animal than prior folk clubs. For one thing, some rock bands were booked. Not from out-of-town, maybe not even good, but they were plugged in. Also, the walls of the club were covered with an elaborate psychedelic mural, although no pictures of it have endured. 

The famous Mr. Owsley lived not far away, on Berkeley Way (roughly near Hearst and McGee, for those who know Berkeley geography), and he was reputed to hang out at the Questing Beast. A long-ago Grateful Dead tape from early 1966 was labeled "rehearsal-Questing Beast Feb 12 '66." The location was spurious, as the Dead never rehearsed there--the tape was probably made at Owsley's house--but there was still a psychedelic association with the Questing Beast, befitting its name.

Among the tiny number of folk musicians in Berkeley at the time were Navy veteran Joe McDonald and Brooklyn transplant Barry Melton. In Fall 1965, The duo had made an anti-war 45 rpm single called "Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag" in a friend's living room, only for sale at one used bookstore near the campus (Moe's Books). For the single, the duo was named Country Joe and The Fish, which reflected jokes about Marxist ideology. Around October 1965, the pair had taken the bus and then hitchhiked around Oregon and Seattle, playing at anti-war gatherings. In February of 1966, however, they saw the Butterfield Blues Band at the Fillmore, and they began to see things differently--although the mysterious Mr. Owsley may have indirectly assisted.

One night around March, Joe and Barry were booked to play folk music at the Questing Beast. This time, however, they brought along a few friends. Barry brought an electric guitar, and some other friends (probably Bruce Barthol and Paul Armstrong) played amplified guitar and bass, and another friend, John Francis Gunning, played some drums, while Joe sang and blew some harmonica. They did some blues, and some instrumentals, and an original song about smoking pot, which would end up being known as "Bass Strings" (with a then-racy introduction where Joe sang "Hey partner/Won't you pass that reefer around"). 

From then on, when Country Joe and The Fish played Questing Beast, they had some friends and some amplifiers. The band--now it was a band--would release their own EP in late 1966, passing that reefer around the world, well beyond the confines of Berkeley. Vanguard Records signed them, but only on the condition that they wouldn't sell their own record any more.

Unfortunately, by May 1966, The Beast had been slain, with its downfall well documented in the May 6 (Vol 2, Number 18) and May 13 (Vol 2, Number 19) issues of the Barb. A hastily arranged three day benefit was arranged with Solomon (Feldthouse – later of eclectic LA band Kaleidoscope) with the Holiday Dancers, Country Joe and The Fish, John Paul, Dave Cohen, Dan Paik and The Gospel Tonics (who had originally been scheduled) appearing.

The very last musical performances at the Questing Beast were Country Joe and The Fish on May 6 and 7 (see the calendar above), getting ready to spread Berkeley to the outside world. Sunday and Monday (May 8 and 9) saw The Questing Beast host Jerry Abrams’ Berkeley Cinematheque (something they had done each Sunday since March 20) and the doors closed for the final time on May 9, 1966. The city of Berkeley had grounds (albeit thin ones) to deny the Beast its Cabaret license, and so they wouldn't have been able to pay performers.


Tito's 1967-June 1969
Somewhere around early 1967, 2504 San Pablo Avenue re-opened as a place called Tito's. It sold beer and pizza, and it had music for dancing on weekends. Tito's didn't buy ads, nor list their bands in the local papers, so it seems to have just had bands playing dance music. Still, once in a while, a local band would print up their own flyer, so we have some traces of the club's existence (The Drongos, above, were a local Berkeley band). 


A flyer for Babylon, from March 13, 1970

Babylon July 1969-April 1971
In the Summer of 1969, Tito's became Babylon. Babylon featured original electric rock bands. A colleague looked into the bookings from July 1969 through November 1970, and they were all local Berkeley bands. The only name that stands out today is Purple Earthquake, a band of former Berkeley High students who would evolve into the band Earth Quake. Earth Quake released several albums in the 1970s, and they would also rule the Long Branch for five years.

A few flyers and artefacts from Babylon survive. The flyer above was from March 13, 1970. The notations "18 and Over Welcome" and "Food" meant that it was a restaurant, technically, with a cabaret license. Minors were allowed in if they were over 18, but they couldn't buy beer (although I bet they drank some). I think the nightly audiences for the Babylon weren't much older than 21, and probably lived relatively near to San Pablo Avenue.

By the Spring of 1971, the Babylon was owned by one Malcolm Williams. I don't know how long Williams had run or owned Babylon, but he decided to expand the club and rename it.

A flyer for Sopwith Camel at Berkeley's Long Branch, playing July 29, 1971

The Long Branch May 28, 1971-November 1976
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. 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.

A rock fan in his 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 in San Francisco, but taking a date to a club where you could drink beer and dance was starting to seem like a viable idea.

At the same time, UC 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 had been oriented towards the Fillmore West and other big dance halls, but now nightclubs were starting to book original bands, too. 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. Malcolm Williams ran Babylon, but he had big plans, too.

A May 23, 1971 article in the San Francisco Chronicle about Bay Area rock nightclubs had an interview with Malcolm Williams. Williams had hired some of the staff from the old Avalon Ballroom, and he was planning to upgrade Babylon by doubling its capacity, from about 175 to around 350. A bigger club meant better acts, not just local bands who probably lived nearby. Certainly, the Bay Area did not want for good local bands, but they were all trying to make a living. 

As for the name change, at the time it was a fairly obvious choice. The Long Branch Saloon was the name of a famous watering hole in the Wild West town of Dodge City, KS, back in the 1870s. More importantly, Gunsmoke had been a top-rated TV show since 1955, with James Arness as Marshall Matt Dillon. Bars all over the country were named "The Long Branch." Everyone immediately recognized the symbolism, the joint where everyone went, where everything exciting happened.

Ad in the October 1, 1971 Berkeley Barb promotes the New Riders of the ole' Purple Sage and High Country at Long Branch Saloon (2500 [sic] San Pablo) $2.00

Long Branch, Berkeley, CA Performance List May -December 1971

The May 23, 1971 San Francisco Examiner/Chronicle (Sunday edition) interviews Malcolm Williams, who says that the Long Branch is "in the process of expanding." At the time, most Bay Area rock clubs were smallish--The Keystone Korner in the City held 250-300, The Lion's Share in San Anselmo was 250-300, the New Orleans House in Berkeley held about 250. Nearby Mandrake's, at 10th and University, probably only held 200. When the Long Branch completed its expansion to around 350, it would be one of the bigger rock clubs in the Bay Area.

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 Long Branch, at 2504 San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley, sometime in the 1970s

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.

The May 28, 1971 Berkeley Barb lists the Grand Opening of the Longbranch [sic], formerly the Babylon with Country Weather, Wayne The Harp, the Earthquake [sic]. 8pm-2am, $2, refund at door for bridge receipts

May 28, 1971 The Long Branch, Berkeley Country Weather/Wayne The Harp/Earth Quake Grand Opening
The Long Branch promoted its "Grand Opening" on Friday, May 28, 1971. There had been no bookings listed at Babylon for over a month, so I think the Long Branch was closed for renovations. The Chronicle article had said that the Long Branch was "in the process" of doubling its capacity. Based on peripheral evidence, I think those renovations took place over two periods. 2504 San Pablo was closed for about a month before it opened, and then apparently closed again for the month of November. I don't know if the club had fully expanded its capacity by May, or did the expansion in pieces. In any case, based on the quality of bookings, the Long Branch was already a bigger club than Babylon when it opened in May.

The Long Branch didn't really advertise. The club seemed to have made sure that their best weekend bookings were listed in the Berkeley Barb and the San Francisco papers, but there were rarely listings for the weekdays. There were probably flyers around town (common in Berkeley), but none have survived from 1971. Also, FM rock radio stations usually announced an "entertainment calendar" in the afternoons and evenings, where they would run down all the club bookings ("tonight, at the Lion's Share, The Sons, and at Keytstone Korner, Elvin Bishop Group," and so on). No doubt the Long Branch made sure that KSAN and the other stations had their weekend bookings, at least.

The Long Branch had three bands on their opening night, all three of which could have been the headliner on their own. The listings in the Barb and Examiner also said "$2 refund if Bridge receipt." This was to encourage fans from San Francisco (using the Bay Bridge) or Marin (using the Richmond Bridge) or even the Peninsula (using the San Mateo or Dumbarton Bridges). I don't know how many patrons actually took them up, but it was a marker of a club trying to expand its weekend audience beyond its own neighborhood.

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, along 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. 

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.

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

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 power trio called Purple Earthquake. By 1971, they were a quartet, with Robbie Dunbar on lead guitar, lead vocalist John Doukas, bassist Stan Miller and drummer Steve Nelson. Earth Quake would release their debut album on A&M Records sometime this year. 

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

I can't find any reference about who played Saturday night, although I suspect it was one of these three bands. For the balance of this post, I am only noting bands where I have been able to find a listing. In general, the same bands played the Long Branch over and over, so missing nights might not likely reveal other bands.  The Long Branch was generally open from Tuesday through Sunday. Wednesday was "audition" nights, with unknown bands. Most other clubs had "audition night" on Monday, so the Long Branch was smart to choose another night.

June 4, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Grootna (Friday)
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.

June 18-19, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Wayne The Harp/Flying Circus (Friday-Saturday)
Flying Circus were a Marin band. Some form of the band had existed since about 1966. Flying Circus shared equipment and a rehearsal space with the band Clover. Flying Circus lead guitarist Bob McFee was the brother of Clover lead guitarist John McFee. Bassist John Hapaala was the only member who was in both the 60s and 70s versions of Flying Circus. The band had self-released a single in 1970, as a promotional tool, but I have never heard it. To my knowledge, Flying Circus fell broadly into the Marin country-rock category, something like Clover. 

June 20, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Charlie Musselwhite/Cookin' Mama (Sunday)
Charlie Musselwhite had been born in Mississippi and moved to Memphis, and then ultimately to Chicago.  He was one of a small number of white musicians in Chicago (including Nick Gravenites, Paul Butterfield, Mike Bloomfield, Elvin Bishop and a few others) who had stumbled onto the blues scene by themselves.

A Chicago club regular, Musselwhite eventually recorded an album for Vanguard in 1967 called Stand Back, which had started to receive airplay on San Francisco’s new underground FM station, KMPX-fm. Friendly with the Chicago crowd who had moved to San Francisco, his band was offered a month of work in San Francisco in mid-1967, so Musselwhite took a month’s leave from his day job and stayed for a couple of decades.

By 1971, blues weren't as interesting to major labels. Musselwhite's 1971 album was Takin' My Time, on Arhoolie Records. Musselwhite's backing group on the album included Robben Ford, a great young guitarist from Ukiah. By mid-71, I think Ford (and his brother, drummer Patrick Ford) had left Musselwhite to form their own band, but it's not impossible that Robben played the Long Branch with him.

Cookin' Mama was a local band fronted by Sherry Fox, who had been in RJ Fox. They were a big, eight-piece band with horns. Pat Thrall was the lead guitarist. Cookin' Mama would release a 1972 album called New Day.

July 2-3, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Elvin Bishop Group/Linx (Friday-Saturday)
Elvin Bishop had moved to the Bay Area from Chicago in Spring 1968. By 1969 he had a band and was regularly playing The Keystone Korner. Bishop was signed to Bill Graham's San Francisco label, distributed by Columbia, and he had released two albums. After a 1969 debut, the Elvin Bishop Group had released Feel It! in mid-1970. Elvin's band featured Stephen Miller on organ (from the band Linn County) and singer Jo Baker. Baker, Bishop and Miller all shared vocals.  

Linx played the Long Branch regularly, as well as other Berkeley clubs, but I don't know anything else about them.

Alice Stuart's 1970 album Full Time Woman, on Berkeley's Arhoolie Records

July 4, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Alice Stuart/Clover
On July 4, Bill Graham closed the Fillmore West. The concert industry was getting too large for the 2500-capacity ballroom. Graham moved the action to the much larger Winterland (5400) or Berkeley Community Theater (3500). Fillmore West wasn't a club, but it was a place that many local rock fans went to on a Friday or Saturday night just because it was "the Fillmore." It's closing left room on weekend nights for rock nightclubs all around the Bay Area. 

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. Stuart had released the album Full Time Woman in 1970, on the small label American Records. It was a fairly introspective album. By 1971, Stuart was leading an electric trio called Snake, with Karl Sevareid on bass Bob Jones on drums (and vocals), and they would record for Fantasy in 1972.

Clover's members were also Marin County natives. Clover had formed in late 1967, out of a band called The Tiny Hearing Aid Company. Fantasy Records, flush with Creedence money, had signed Clover. The band released two poorly-produced but pretty good albums, their self-titled debut in 1970, followed by Fourty-Niner in 1971. Clover was a four-piece band, with lead and pedal steel guitarist John McFee, lead singer and guitarist Alex Call, bassist John Ciambotti and drummer Mitch Howie (McFee, Call and Howie had been in Tiny Hearing Aid). Clover worked out of Mill Valley.

By the end of '71, Fantasy seemed to have dropped Clover. Clover kept plugging along, playing Monday nights in Berkeley, even after two albums. The proximity of Mill Valley to downtown Berkeley made this a sensible gig for Clover.

July ?, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen
I could find almost no listings for July, but I don't read much into that. Newspapers published listings on a space-available basis, and sometimes lesser clubs like the Long Branch weren't mentioned in the paper due to lack of space. In other cases, no one from the club may have remembered to call the paper with the week's bookings.

Berkeley's very own Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen had moved out to California from Ann Arbor, MI in the Summer of '69. They had set 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. The band had been signed to Paramount Records, and at this time they were recording their debut (Lost In The Ozone would come out in November). We can infer this Commander Cody date, however, since we know that the band was recording live at the Long Branch and the New Monk in July (as it says so on the back of the album).  On the album, the songs "What's The Matter, Now" and "20 Flight Rock" were recorded live, but whether either (or both) were recorded at the Long Branch isn't clear.

July 29, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Sopwith Camel/Jabo Stokes (Thursday)
The Sopwith Camel was an original San Francisco psychedelic band, with roots going back to the Red Dog Saloon in Virginia City, NV and 1090 Page Street. The Sopwith Camel had been one of the first Fillmore bands to sign a recording contract, and they had one of the first hit singles of the scene, as well, with "Hello Hello" in February 1967. That record was in the Lovin' Spoonful jugband style, which has hot at the time (and the Camel were produced by Spoonful producer Erik Jacobsen). The Camel had to face the grumblings of locals who felt that they had "sold out." The band had ground to a halt in late 1967.

However, Sopwith Camel had reformed in 1971. Their first gig seems to have been at the Matrix on March 5. The re-formed group had 4 of the 5 original members. The original songwriting partnership of guitarists Peter Kraemer and Terry MacNeil was intact, along with bassist Martin Beard and drummer Norman Mayell. In the meantime, Beard and Mayell had played on the hit single "Spirit In The Sky" with Petaluma's Norman Greenbaum.  

Jabo Stokes is unknown to me.

August 6-7, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen/The Crabs (Friday-Saturday)
The Crabs were a popular Berkeley club band, although they didn't ever break out of the club circuit. They played in a style that would now be called "Roots-Rock" or "Americana" today, but those terms didn't yet exist. The author Charles Reich, who published a huge bestseller in 1970 called The Greening Of America, was a huge fan of The Crabs, and mentioned them a number of times in his book (Reich also interviewed Jerry Garcia for Rolling Stone, and it was published as a book called A Signpost To New Space). 

August 17, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Driver (Tuesday)
Driver are unknown to me. If a Bay Area band from this period is unknown to me, they are officially obscure. Driver very well may have been a fine band, in fact, but bands booked at the Long Branch on a Tuesday night didn't have any local following.

The August 27, 1971 Berkeley Barb lists Rew Riders [sic]/High Country, Long Branch Saloon (2505 [sic] San Pablo, Brk) $2.50

August 27-28, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: New Riders of The Purple Sage/High Country
The New Riders Of The Purple Sage headlined the weekend at the Long Branch, so Jerry Garcia returned to where he had been originally inspired by the Jim Kweskin Jug Band. While of course Garcia was quite famous, as I have said I think his experience was quite common for musicians on this list. 2504 San Pablo Avenue had been a venue for several years, and by it's nature, Berkeley is a place where interesting things happen, for good or ill. Many musicians must have had a burst of recognition when they drove up to their gig at the Long Branch for the first time.

The New Riders Of The Purple Sage were Jerry Garcia's vehicle for letting him play pedal steel guitar in a live band. Since John Dawson wrote and sang the songs, and Garcia's old pal David Nelson played guitar, Garcia could just concentrate on the steep learning curve of the pedal steel, with no vocal or front-man duties. By this time, the Riders had completed the recording of their debut album NRPS, which would come out in September. Garcia himself had found the pedal steel too daunting, and had already made plans to cede the chair to the great Canadian steel guitarist Buddy Cage (who had been playing with Ian and Sylvia Tyson's Great Speckled Bird).

Not only was Cage a far better steel player than Garcia, if the band did not have a full-time player in the steel slot, the band could never play enough to make a living. The Grateful Dead had managed to climb out of some severe debt incurred in 1970 (their manager had absconded with $150K), but the Riders were still just trying to break even. A good paying gig on the weekend would help the band cover its expenses until the album made them nationally popular.

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)

Butch Waller had surely been to the Cabale many times, as had Nelson, so they too probably had that burst of recognition when they got there.

August 29, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Charles Ford Blues Band (Sunday)
The Charles Ford Blues Band was a fine blues band that featured three brothers from Ukiah, CA up in Mendocino County. Guitarist Robben Ford, drummer Pat Ford and harmonica man Mark Ford played modern, uptempo blues. It was rooted in tradition, but jazzy and flowing as well. Namesake Charles Ford was their father. They would release a fine album on Arhoolie in 1972 (Charles Ford Band). Robben Ford would go on to well-deserved fame, playing with the LA Express, George Harrison, Joni Mitchell, Miles Davis and many others.

August 30-31, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Tower Of Power (Monday-Tuesday)
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). Ultimately, Atlantic's sister label Warner Brothers would pick up Tower. Tower's immortal second album, Bump City, would be released in early 1972, presaging an era where the A's, Raiders and Golden State Warriors were making all things Oakland ascendant.

The core of Tower Of Power had been together since 1968. Their unique horn section sound had been honed in Oakland clubs since 1969. Tower Of Power played both rock clubs and R&B dance clubs, dominating both of them with aplomb. At this time, they were just a hard working band, filling in empty nights on their calendar. I think the Long Branch was open on a Monday (and publicizing the booking) just because Tower was available.   

September 1, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Ongood/Wormwood Star (Wednesday)
Ongood and Wormwood Star are both unknown to me. Wednesday was audition night.

September 2, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Pendergrass (Thursday)
Pendergrass is unknown to me. 

September 3-4, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Loading Zone/Staton Brothers (Friday-Saturday)
The Loading Zone, from Oakland, had played the original Trips Festival back in 1966. By 1971, 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 Hass on vocals Tom Coster on organ, Doug Rauch on bass, Tony Smith on drums and Bruce Conte on guitar. The Zone shared management and a rehearsal space with Tower Of Power, and they, too, played both R&B and rock clubs.

The Staton Brothers were an East Bay band from Hayward who had been signed by the Monkees' management around 1967. Jeff and Mike Staton were both singing guitarists, broadly in the style of Buffalo Springfield. The band had toured with the Springfield and others in the 1960s. In late 1972, the Staton Brothers would release an album on Epic, but there was a problem with distributors, so the album did not sell. Ultimately both Staton brothers worked with Stephen Bishop and many others as guitarists and songwriters, mostly based in Nashville. Since "Staton" was often misunderstood, and just an adopted name anyway, they used different names.

September 8, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Loading Zone/Mike Finnegan (Wednesday)
Organist and singer Mike Finnegan was from Wichita, KS. Unlike most 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 singer Jerry Wood, and he worked with the re-activated Big Brother and The Holding Company as well.

For club gigs, Finnegan pretty much played blues. He was a powerful vocalist as well as a great organ player, so he could play with any combination of musicians. Some of his "friends" might have been had notable musical pedigrees and would definitely have been good players.

Cold Blood's second album, Sisyphus, released on Bill Graham's San Francisco record label (distributed by Atlantic), released in 1970

September 10, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Cold Blood
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 Generation. The Generation were known as the first Bay Area band to merge a horn section with a rock band. The Generation had 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'." [note: a Commenter suggests Stoneground did not play, and was replaced by Bittersweet]

September 11, 1971 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. However, Alembic sound had to honor their part of the contract, so the Dead had stayed home and recorded American Beauty with Stephen Barncard, because Bob Matthews and Betty Cantor had gone on the road with Stoneground.

Stoneground had just released their self-titled debut album on Warner Brothers.  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 probably been replaced by Cory Lerios by September.

September 13-14 , 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Tower Of Power (Monday-Tuesday)
Clearly the two night booking for Tower Of Power on a Monday and Tuesday was a success, since they returned a few weeks later. 

September 15, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Entity/Driver (Wednesday)
Entity is unknown to me.

September 16, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Bittersweet (Thursday)
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. 

Barry Melton's 1970 album on Vanguard, Bright Sun Is Shining

September 17, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Barry Melton and Fish (Friday)

According to Joe McDonald and Barry Melton, "Country Joe and The Fish" was a duo featuring the two of them, with or without additional band members. That's not how the music world saw it, however. Country Joe and The Fish had called it a day in early Summer 1970, and both leaders had gone solo. Still, when Barry Melton played live with a band, it was usually called Barry Melton and The Fish, to give listeners a hint that it was electric Melton backed by a group.

I don't know how reflective Barry Melton might have been about his own history. But the entire Country Joe and The Fish saga, including playing Anti-War protests, hit albums, Woodstock, European tours and all the rest had pretty much got its start when Joe and Barry had plugged in at the Questing Beast in March, 1966. Now, here was Barry Melton, back at 2504 San Pablo Avenue.

Melton, who had moved from Berkeley to Marin by this time, had released a solo album on Vanguard in 1970 called Bright Sun Is Shining. It had been recorded in Chicago and New York with veteran session pros like Phil Upchurch, rather than with Fillmore West guys. The album had mostly been covers of blues and old R&B songs. This was actually quite consistent with Melton's musical history, but it may not have been entirely expected by 60s fans who were used to songs about politics and drugs. I don't know who was in Melton's live band at this time.

September 19, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Crabs (Sunday)

September 20-21, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Tower Of Power (Monday-Tuesday)

September 23-25, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Grootna/Mike Finnegan (Wednesday-Friday)

September 26, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Bittersweet (Sunday)

September 29, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Road House/Wormwood Star (Wednesday)
Road House is unknown to me. 

NRPS, the debut album of the New Riders Of The Purple Sage, was released by Columbia in September, 1971. Jerry Garcia played pedal steel guitar on the album, and toured with the New Riders through October, in order to promote the band.

October 1-3, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: New Riders of The Purple Sage/High Country
The New Riders' August weekend must have been a good payday, since they returned for a three-night stand in October. The NRPS album had been released by Columbia in mid-September. Although it was already agreed that Buddy Cage would permanently replace Jerry Garcia, Garcia was going to play on the first leg of the Grateful Dead/NRPS tour in order to promote the band. A number of the shows were broadcast on FM radio, so entire Metro areas would get to hear Garcia play with the Riders. The Fall tour would commence on October 19, 1971, in Minneapolis. Garcia's last show with the Riders as their steel guitarist was October 31 in Cincinnati (Cage took over in Atlanta on November 11).

By this time, High Country had probably released their self-titled album on Raccoon Records.  The Youngbloods had become so successful behind "Get Together" that Warners had given them their own label. Banana (Lowell Levenger) was a bluegrass banjo player from way back, so he recorded High Country at his home studio, and got the album released on the Youngbloods' imprint.

October 5, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Charlie Musselwhite/Charles Ford Blues Band (Tuesday)
Charlie Musselwhite was billed with the band featuring Robben and Pat Ford, two former band members. It's not impossible that Musselwhite just sat in with the Charles Ford Band, instead of bringing his own group. 

October 7, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Charlie Musselwhite/Frank Biner Band (Thursday)
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.

October 8-9, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen/Asleep At The Wheel (Friday-Saturday)
Asleep At The Wheel were based in 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. This booking was probably one of the first (if not the first) performances by the Wheel in the Bay Area. The Airmen were on the verge of releasing their debut album, and they could pack the Long Branch, so plenty of fans were going to hear Asleep At The Wheel.

October 10, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Earth Quake/Bittersweet (Sunday)

October 12, 1971 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.

October 14, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Vertek (Thursday)
Vertek was probably a power trio from Red Bluff, CA, called Vertrek. They had played the Fillmore West audition night in May of 1969.

October 22-23, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Frank Biner/Clover (Friday-Saturday)
Although Clover had been dropped by Fantasy Records, they had soldiered on. The quartet had added two new members, keyboard player Sean Hopper and singer/harmonica player Hugh Cregg. The new six-piece band leaned a little more toward funk than country, in a Marin County kind of way. Cregg's band nickname was "Huey Louie," generally spelled "Huey Louis." About 8 years later, Cregg and Hopper would form a new band, Huey Lewis and The News.

October 24, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Frank Biner/Bittersweet (Sunday)

The lone album by Shanti, released by Atlantic Records in 1971

November 6, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Shanti/Osceola
Shanti was a conscious attempt to fuse rock music with Indian music. Zakir Hussain, the son of tabla master Ustad Allah Rakha, and himself a brilliant tabla player, was a Marin resident. Along with Sarod player Aashish Khan  and tabla player Pranesh Khan, they combined with some conventional rock musicians to form an "electric" Indian/Rock fusion ensemble. Guitarist Neal Seidel was joined by singer/guitarist Steve Haehl, bassist Steve Leach and drummer Francisco Lupica. In the 60s, Lupica had played with Lee Michaels and had been in bands like The Travel Agency and the Loading Zone (where he used the name Frank Davis).

Shanti put out an album on Atlantic in 1971, recorded at Pacific High Recorders in San Francisco (PHR was probably actually Alembic Studios by this time, but they seemed to prefer to use the outdated name in some instances).  I don't know when the Shanti album was released, but I believe it was actually in the Summer of 1971 (there was an event that seemed to be related to the album release at Mickey Hart's ranch in August). I have not heard the album, but descriptions of it suggest an intriguing experiment that didn't entirely succeed, a mixture of psychedelic rock songs with Indian embellishment, along with genuine efforts to merge electric rock and Indian music in an amplified setting.

Shanti played around the Bay Area until they broke up some time in 1972. Some of the Shanti members went on to have interesting careers, and many of them were Grateful Dead-adjacent. Zakir Hussain was a key figure in the Ali Akbar Khan School Of Music, which had moved to Marin in 1971. An offshoot of the school was the Diga Rhythm Band, a percussion group that included Mickey Hart, who produced their album for Round Records in 1975. Diga Rhythm Band played a few public shows, and Jerry Garcia came and played at one in Golden Gate Park (on May 30, 1975). Francisco Lupica was the inventor of The Beam, and Mickey Hart and Dan Healy adopted the concept as part of the Grateful Dead's concert setup. Guitarist Neil Seidel seems to have had a substantial music career, although I think it was mostly in soundtrack work. Bassist Steve Leach became somewhat known as a producer, as Steven Wold, and in the 21st century, as a performer, as Seasick Steve. 

Osceola was a band from Florida, who had moved to San Francisco around 1969. They had played around at places like The Family Dog on the Great Highway, and other clubs, but they never got to a higher tier.

November 7, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Osceola/Bittersweet (Sunday)
Osceola returned to headline Sunday night. This appears to be the last show at the Long Branch until the first weekend in December. By triangulation, I am assuming that the full expansion to 350 patron capacity was completed in November.

December 3-4, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Country Weather/The Dogs (Friday-Saturday)
The Long Branch returned to business on the first weekend of December. Country Weather were the headliners, as they had been in May. The Dogs are unknown to me.

December 5, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Hades/Grayson Street (Sunday)
The actual Grayson Street was a short street a few blocks from the Long Branch. The band Grayson Street were a sort of roots-rock band from the East Bay. This gig was probably one of their first shows.The band was co-led by harmonica player Rick Kellogg and tenor saxophonist Terry Hanck, both of whom sang. Grayson Street never recorded, but many of its members ended up working with Elvin Bishop, Coke Escovedo, Tower Of Power and others. Grayson Street played the Long Branch as much or more than any band, including Earth Quake. 

December 6, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Hades/Fluid Drive (Monday)
Fluid Drive are unknown to me.

December 8, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Knee Deep/Grayson Street (Wednesday)
Knee Deep are unknown to me.

December 9, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Beefy Red/Linx (Thursday)
Beefy Red was a Marin band, a 10-piece ensemble somewhat in the mold of the Sons Of Champlin, with a horn section and jazzy solos. Band members included trumpeter Mark Isham, guitarist Barry Finnerty and drummer Jim Preston.

December 10, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Asleep At The Wheel/Linx (Friday)
We don't need a review of Asleep At The Wheel's appearances with Commander Cody in October to know how they went down. Here they were two months later, headlining Friday night. The Wheel surely had the whole club up and dancing, and a lot of beer got sold. 

Grootna's album was released by Columbia in December, 1971

December 11, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Grootna/Sopwith Camel
By the time of this show, Grootna's album had been released by Columbia. 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.

Lost In The Ozone, the epic debut album by Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, released on Paramount Records in November 1971

December 17, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen/Clover
December 18, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen/Around and Around
Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen returned to headline a weekend at the newly-expanded Long Branch Saloon. In November, Paramount Records had released the Airmen's epic debut album, Lost In The Ozone. The album was instantly popular in the Bay Area. Even more remarkably, the song "Hot Rod Lincoln" got airplay not only on FM radio, but Top 40 AM radio as well. Thanks to that Hot Rod Lincoln, the Airmen went from being just a popular Berkeley band to a draw all over the Bay Area.

Around and Around are unknown to me.

December 25 , 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Linx/Frank Biner (Saturday)
It's surprising that the Long Branch had a Christmas night show booked, but the Long Branch was a neighborhood joint. A lot of people in Berkeley were from somewhere else, and it's not like they could all FaceTime with their family.

December 29 , 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Hades/Mojo Hand (Wednesday)

December 30, 1971 Long Branch Around and Around/Mojo Hand (Thursday)
I'm sure that the Long Branch had a Friday night New Year's Eve show, but I don't know who was booked. I assume it was some of the many bands that played the club regularly.

If anyone has additional information, corrections or insights about bands that played the Long Branch during this period, please put them in the Comments.

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.

Another regular band, The Rockets, started playing the Long Branch in 1972. Lead singer Eddie Mahoney (1949-2019), a former New York City police trainee, started calling himself "Eddie Money" in 1974. By July, 1974, they were Eddie Money and The Rockets, and then just Eddie Money. Eddie Money was picked up by the Bill Graham organization, and he went on huge success as a singer, selling millions of records. Songs like "Two Tickets To Paradise" and "Baby Hold On To Me" are very familiar to listeners of a certain age.

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. But maybe when a Barry Melton or a Huey Lewis drops by for some upscale comfort food, they pull up and think, "hey I know this joint..."

For subsequent posts in the 70s Rock Nightclubs series, see here.




Thursday, January 14, 2021

Loading Zone Performance List 1970 (Loading Zone cont. I)


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

The Loading Zone-Performance List 1970
The Loading Zone, while obscure, are a uniquely important group in Bay Area music history. The Zone had 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. While they had played the original Trips Festival and many dates at the Fillmore and Avalon, they also played many dances and 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 am beginning 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. This post will focus on all the known performances of the Loading Zone from 1970. 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 mix 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)

The Loading Zone-Performance History 1970
At the beginning of 1970, the lineup of the Loading Zone was
Steve Busfield-guitar
Ron Taormina-tenor sax
Pat O'Hara-trombone
Paul Fauerso-Hammond organ, vocals
Mike Eggleston-bass
George Marsh-drums

The Loading Zone was trying to find a middle ground between their established funky sound and their jazzier leanings. In fact, once again, the Loading Zone were running a train down a track that had not been finished. In the 1970s, plenty of bands would try and straddle the line between making fun, danceable music that was sophisticated, including Santana, The Crusaders, Earth Wind and Fire and many others, but the Loading Zone created that problem first, even if they didn't rise to the heights of those other bands. In early 1970, Loading Zone released their second album, One For All.  It was on Umbrella Records, and was essentially self-released, another ahead-of-their-time innovation. 

January 2-3, 1970 Mandrakes, Berkeley, CA: Loading Zone/Hell and High Water (Friday-Saturday)
Mandrake's had been open since about 1965. Initially it had booked blues and jazz, but rapidly expanded to include rock when that music became prominent around 1967. The little club was on at the corner of San Pablo Avenue and University Avenue (at 1048 University), a faint trace of when San Pablo had been "Music Row," serving WW2 factory workers with money in their pockets. The Loading Zone had played Mandrake's many times.

I only have what must be a tiny portion of the Loading Zone's bookings for 1970. Many of the dance clubs they played would not have advertised in the newspaper (nor in ones that have since been digitized). So we only have the outlines of the band's gigging schedule.

January 23-24, 1970 Mandrakes, Berkeley, CA: Loading Zone/Geno Skaggs (Friday-Saturday)
The fact that Loading Zone kept returning to the same clubs, though making for dull reading, was a sign that they had built an audience and that clubs found it worthwhile to book them repeatedly.

February 11-12, 1970 Keystone Korner, San Francisco, CA: Loading Zone (Wednesday-Thursday)
The Keystone Korner, in San Francisco at 750 Vallejo (at Powell), was just off Broadway. The club booked blues and bluesy rock acts, for the most part. I'm not certain if this was the first time the Zone had been booked there (probably they had played before), but in any case they would play there repeatedly, so it must have gone well.

February 13-14, 1970 New Orleans House, Berkeley, CA: Loading Zone/Tangen and Friedman (Friday-Saturday)
The New Orleans House was also on San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley, about a mile North of Mandrake's (at 1505 San Pablo, at Delaware St). It had been booking rock acts since late 1966, and had been one of the first Bay Area nightclubs (as opposed to ballrooms) booking original rock bands. The New Orleans House was fairly eclectic, booking some rock, songwriters, blues, jazz and folk, but the hybrid Loading Zone would have fit in nicely. Jan Tangen and Dave Friedman were a folk guitar duo.

February 20, 1970 Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Loading Zone (Friday)
The Lion's Share was at 60 Red Hill Avenue in San Anselmo, about 10 minutes West of downtown San Rafael. It held about 250, and served beer, wine and some food. It was sort of a local musicians hangout, but since so many musicians lived in Marin, it was oddly significant for that. For a band like the Loading Zone, it made a good gig, and probably a bunch of their musician friends came to see them, too. The Zone probably played on Saturday and maybe even Sunday night as well.

By March of 1970, there were some changes to the Loading Zone. Drummer George Marsh had left to join the Jerry Hahn Brotherhood, a Columbia band built around guitarist Hahn and organist/vocalist Mike Finnegan (they would release an excellent, if obscure, album later in the year). I do not know who replaced Marsh in the Loading Zone drum chair. More importantly, Linda Tillery had been dropped by Columbia, and returned as lead vocalist of the Loading Zone.

In March of 1970, the new lineup of the Loading Zone was

Linda Tillery-vocals
Steve Busfield-guitar
Ron Taormina-tenor sax
Pat O'Hara-trombone
Paul Fauerso-Hammond organ, vocals
Mike Eggleston-bass

I know of no recordings from this era. Somehow, the Loading Zone would have had to reconcile the soulful power of Tillery's vocals with the jazz leanings of the rest of the band. Just to be clear--this could have been really, really great. Fauerso wasn't a bad singer, either, so the chance to have dual vocals could have added a lot to the band, as well.

March 13-14, 1970 Mandrakes, Berkeley, CA: Loading Zone (Friday-Saturday)
The reconfigured Loading Zone unveiled themselves at The New Orleans House. Again, the fact that they were regularly booked at the club was a sign that their past shows had been well-attended.

March 19-22, 1970 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA: Chuck Berry/It's A Beautiful Day/Loading Zone (Thursday-Sunday)
Back in September '69, the Loading Zone had opened for Chuck Berry at Fillmore West, and Bill Graham had hired them as Berry's backing band. We know this because there is a tape on Wolfgang's Vault, and the Zone sounded pretty good. There's every reason to think the Loading Zone backed Chuck on this weekend as well, even if we don't have a tape.

March 27-28, 1970 New Orleans House, Berkeley, CA: Loading Zone/Slo Loris (Friday-Saturday) 

April 2, 1970 Civic Auditorium, Stockton, CA: Youngbloods/Loading Zone/Staton Brothers (Thursday)
"Fillmore" was a golden name outside of San Francisco. The Youngbloods were established ballroom headliners, and they had increased in popularity since 'Get Together" had become a surprise hit in 1969. As for the Loading Zone, while their music was largely unknown, even by 1970 dorm rooms all over the country were full of colorful Fillmore posters, whether authentic or reprinted. So "Loading Zone" was a familiar name, even if fans weren't sure what they sounded like. 

Stockton , CA was about 75 miles West of Oakland, on the San Joaquin River. It was an important agricultural town for the Central Valley, and it was the entertainment center for the rural areas surrounding it. The Stockton Civic Auditorium, at 525 N. Center Street, had opened in 1925, and had a capacity of 5000. Its unlikely to have been filled by this booking, but the show could have been very successful with just a portion of the number. Rock fans in the Central Valley were used to getting Fillmore bands on school nights, and this would have been an appealing event to Stockton fans.

The Staton Brothers were an East Bay band from Hayward who had been signed by the Monkees' management around 1967. Jeff and Mike Staton were both singing guitarists, broadly in the style of Buffalo Springfield. The band had toured with the Springfield and others in the 1960s. In late 1972, the Staton Brothers would release an album on Epic, but there was a problem with distributors, so the album did not sell. Ultimately both Staton brothers worked with Stephen Bishop and many others as guitarists and songwriters, mostly based in Nashville. Since "Staton" was often misunderstood, and just an adopted name anyway, they used different names for their LA and Nashville work.

April 4, 1970 Quad, Irvington High School, Fremont, CA: Elvin Bishop Group/Loading Zone/Staton Brothers (Saturday)
Bill Graham's booking agency, the Millard Agency, specialized in bringing Fillmore West rock bands to the Bay Area suburbs around Northern California. Millard groups like Santana, the Elvin Bishop Group and Cold Blood were familiar from Fillmore posters, even if their music was barely known. In the suburbs, or Lake Tahoe, a flyer advertising "direct from San Francisco" was appealing to a lot of kids. Many rock fans were teenagers, and for many of them in the suburbs, the Fillmore West was off-limits. Some of them had a car, or a friend with a car, but their parents weren't going to let them drive to big, bad San Francisco at night. This probably went double for suburban daughters.

Fremont CA was a largely working class suburb at the time, the center of local agriculture, and anchored by a GM factory (now the Tesla plant). Fremont was in Southern Alameda County, right next to San Jose, half an hour from Oakland and 45 minutes from San Francisco. While Fremont parents may have been uneasy about San Francisco at night, a Saturday afternoon at the local High School would have been just fine. Irvington High (at 41800 Blacow Road) was a big public high school, and would have had plenty of young rock fans. This show would have been a good payday and allowed Elvin Bishop, the Zone and the Staton Brothers (another local group) to build an audience, too. Loading Zone was not booked by Millard, as far as I know, but Zone manager Ron Barnett had been working with Bill Graham since 1966.

April 10, 1970  Tea Room, Mills College Tea, Oakland, CA: Loading Zone and Sweet Linda Devine (Friday)
Mills College was a highly regarded women's college in the Oakland Hills. It was at 5000 MacArthur Blvd and Seminary Avenue, just above the Oakland Coliseum (Seminary is 59th Ave, and the Coliseum is at 66th). Mills College had been established in 1871, as the first Women's College West of the Rockies. A band like the Loading Zone would make good money playing college dances, so this would have been a good gig. Linda Tillery may not have been thrilled to be promoted as "Sweet Linda Devine" but that was probably just business.

April 11, 1970 South Cafeteria, College of San Mateo, San Mateo, CA:  Loading Zone/The Dusters/ Backyard Mamas (Saturday)
The College of San Mateo was a junior college in the hills above San Mateo, at 1700 W. Hillsdale Blvd. The size of the student body was probably huge, although most of the students were probably part-time commuters. Back then, even junior colleges would have had entertainment budgets that would help support dances and other fun cultural events for the students. On a Saturday night, the student cafeteria would have been available, because the gym would have been in use for a sports event. California public school policy at the time (and no doubt still) was that any profits from an event would have to be donated, so the event was a benefit for the Peninsula Association for Retarded Children and Adults.

A promotional photo from the April 10, 1970 San Mateo Times shows a six-piece Loading Zone with Linda Tillery. This implicitly suggests that one of the horn players had left, but I can't tell for sure. 

A listing in the April 23-30 Berkeley Barb announces a benefit concert at the Fillmore West (or Winterland) on Wednesday April 29, 1970.

April 29, 1970 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA: Charlie Musselwhite/AB Skhy/Loading Zone
Benefit for Berkeley Defense fund (Wednesday)
Bill Graham would let organizations rent the Fillmore West on weeknights. In this case, the Barb advertised that this was a benefit for a Berkeley Defense Fund. It said "17 still in Santa Rita" (Santa Rita Jail, in Livermore,was the state lockup for those who had just been arrested). The ad also says "Fillmore West or Winterland." There's no telling if this actually took place.

Tower Of Power
Back in 1968, the Loading Zone had expanded to include a horn section. Initially, it featured tenor saxophonist Todd Anderson and trombonist Todd O'Hara. Sometimes, if there was room on the stage, and minors were allowed, teenage roadie Steve Kupka would join in on baritone sax. Kupka's father was a doctor, so he was nicknamed "Doc." On Saturday, July 13, 1968 the Loading Zone headlined the dance concert for the last night of the Alameda County Fair out in Pleasanton. Also on the bill were two local bands, the Lovestreet Offramp and The Motowns. The Lovestreet Offramp are unknown to me.  But we know about The Motowns.

Alto saxophonist Emilio Castillo's family was from Detroit, but they lived in Fremont. By 1968, Castillo had been a working musician since his high school days. In 1966, he had been led a band called The Gotham City Crimefighters, who played at a place called Wayne Manor in Sunnyvale (what, you've forgotten "Who Stole The Batmobile"?). When the Batman craze faded, although still in High School (Kennedy HS in Fremont), Castillo and his friends got more into soul music. They formed a group called The Extension Five. The Extension Five had turned into The Motowns, playing dances and clubs (when minors were allowed, or allowed to sneak in) in Southern Alameda County. Member included Castillo, his brother Jack on drums, Jody Lopez on guitar, Rocco Prestia on bass and Greg Adams on trumpet. By 1968, Skip Mesquite was probably on tenor sax. 

At the Alameda County Fair, Doc Kupka met the Motowns, a bunch of East Bay kids his age, playing soul music. Now, Loading Zone were barely in their twenties, but there was still some gap between them and Kupka, and the Zone had a psychedelic edge to them. The Motowns invited Kupka to jam with them, and he went over to a rehearsal with them at Castillo's house. Something happened--something really good. Doc Kupka joined The Motowns. By 1970, they were the Tower Of Power.

In 1969 and '70, Tower Of Power were regularly playing clubs in Oakland, mostly on Broadway (such as King Richard). The ABC cracked down on underage performers at one point, which cut down on their gigs, but the band just rehearsed more. Tower Of Power's big break came when they played the Tuesday Night Auditions at Fillmore West (an interesting story in its own right). Bill Graham used the auditions not only to find opening acts at Fillmore West, but also to find clients for his booking agency, management company and record label. 

Tower first played the Fillmore West around January of 1970, and Graham and his producers liked what they heard, but they told Emilio Castillo that he had to get a new guitarist and a new drummer. The guitarist was an old pal, and the drummer was his brother, but Castillo and the band made the change. Tower Of Power returned to the Tuesday night auditions on April 21, 1970, with Willie Fulton on guitar and the great Dave Garibaldi on drums, and that sealed the deal: Graham signed the band to his San Francisco Records label, distributed by Atlantic.

Once Tower Of Power was signed up with Graham, they weren't just a bunch of kids anymore, and they needed a manager. It's not surprising to find out that Tower signed up with Loading Zone manager Ron Barnett, since they already had a connection through Doc Kupka. I don't believe that Tower Of Power were booked by Graham's Millard Agency, but Barnett had been working with Graham since 1966, so there was a long history of cooperation.

An ad in the October 24, 1969 Oakland Tribune, for the Kings X at 4401 Piedmont (at Pleasant Valley)

As far as I know, Tower Of Power and Loading Zone shared a rehearsal hall in Oakland somewhere, and would end up sharing some musicians as well. They also played many gigs together. Ironically, if justly, it was Loading Zone that opened the door to hybrid soul-rock bands playing the Fillmores, but it was Tower Of Power who took Oakland soul to the National stage (with the Pointer Sisters close behind, I might add). In the 1970 period, many of Loading Zone and Tower Of Power's bookings were not rock gigs at all, but gigs in dance clubs in the East Bay, probably from Richmond to Fremont. Those clubs didn't advertise in the hippie underground or mainstream papers, so we have almost no traces of those shows.

In a fascinating interview with researcher Jake Feinberg, Paul Fauerso described sharing many gigs with Tower Of Power. One place he specifically mentioned was alternating sets all night with Tower at The King's X in Oakland. The King's X, at 4401 Piedmont Avenue, just across 51st Street, right near the Chapel Of Memories (old Oaklanders know what I mean), was a wonderful little restaurant at the edge of the commercial district, but near the Mountain View Cemetery. I used to go there regularly in the 1980s, but it no longer had bands any more. I miss the Kings X these days--and I didn't even get to see Tower and The Zone funking out until closing time.



May 16, 1970 Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Santa Rosa, CA: Loading Zone with Linda Tillery/Charlie Musselwhite/Mose (Saturday) 

June 17-18, 1970 Keystone Korner, San Francisco, CA: Loading Zone (Wednesday-Thursday)
Two weeknights at the Keystone Korner seemed to be the end of the line for this configuration of the Loading Zone. Fauerso, after slugging it out as a professional musician for at least 6 years, dropped out of the music business. In the Feinberg interview, Fauerso mentioned getting a call around this time that Janis Joplin was putting a new band together. This group would become her Full Tilt Boogie band. Now, of course, an invitation was not a guarantee of employment, but the fact that he got a call was in indication of his standing in the San Francisco music scene. But Fauerso chose to focus on lecturing and writing about the then-new subject of Transcendental Meditation, and Loading Zone seemed to disintegrate.  

An ad for King Richards, at 310 Broadway in Oakland, from the April 21, 1969 Oakland Tribune. Jules Broussard, Al & Tom Coster had a residency on Monday and Tuesday nights

While it appeared that the Loading Zone would disappear with the departure of founder Paul Fauerso, the July 4, 1970 Chronicle mentioned that the Loading Zone has been "reorganized." Linda Tillery, the most recognizable person in the band, had in effect formed a new group using the Loading Zone name. Now, no doubt, they did some of the same songs, and roughly played in the same soul/jazz mode, so it wasn't misleading, but it was still a new group.

The reorganized Loading Zone in July 1970 had the following lineup:

Linda Tillery-vocals
Tom Coster-Hammond organ
Mike Eggleston-bass
Al Coster-drums

Tom and Al Coster had extensive jazz backgrounds. In the prior year, they had mostly been playing in a trio with saxophonist Jules Broussard. In 1969, I know they had a Monday/Tuesday residency at an Oakland club on 3rd and Broadway called King Richard (see the ad above). Tower Of Power would play regularly at that club later. The Coster brothers were probably personally well-known to the Loading Zone crew.

July 10, 1970  St. Elizabeth’s High School, Oakland, CA: Loading Zone with Linda Tillery/American Canyon (Friday)
The new-model Loading Zone made their debut at a dance at St. Elizabeth's, a Catholic School in the Fruitvale District (at 1516 33rd Avenue). Now, back in the 1960s, most Bay Area High Schools had the occasional Fillmore band play a dance or some event, but for some reason St. Elizabeth's dances in the 60s read like a Fillmore poster. I don't specifically know why so many good bands played there. In any case, Loading Zone was just one of many bands with Fillmore pedigrees who had played a dance there. For some of the private schools, their dances often allowed in students from other high schools (with student IDs), so there was a certain amount of publicity to encourage it.

At this point, being billed as "Loading Zone with Linda Tillery" was not just sound business, it was really true, as the band had been re-formed around her. American Canyon was a community near Napa, but it was also the name of a local band (probably from American Canyon).

July 16, 1970 Civic Auditorium, San Jose, CA: BB King/Loading Zone (Thursday)
The San Jose Civic Auditorium, at 135 W. San Carlos Avenue, had been built in 1934. The 3000-capacity auditorium was the South Bay's biggest rock venue for many years, and lots of classic bands played the building. There could hardly be a more classic act than BB King. The King's most recent album would have been Completely Well, released on Bluesway/ABC in December 1969. The album featured BB's biggest ever pop hit "The Thrill Is Gone" which reached #15 on the Billboard pop charts.

July 17-18, 1970  New Orleans House, Berkeley, CA: Loading Zone/The Crabs (Friday-Saturday)
The more public debut of the band was the next weekend at The New Orleans House, where they were billed as "The New Loading Zone." Also on the bill were The Crabs, a Berkeley "roots-rock" band (although that term was not yet in use).  

July 31-August 2, 1970 Mandrakes, Berkeley, CA: Loading Zone (Friday-Sunday)
The Loading Zone also returned for a weekend at another old standby, Mandrake's. Since the new Loading Zone was booked at all their old venues, and then re-booked regularly, they must have gone over pretty well. My own guess is that Linda Tillery backed by the Costers was more straightforward than the six or seven-piece band with some advanced jazz leanings. Now, Tom Coster was a pretty interesting organ player, and the music must have been extremely high quality, but it would have been less dense than it would be with numerous soloists.

August 7, 1970 The Odyssey, San Mateo, CA: Loading Zone (Friday)
The Odyssey was at 1606 El Camino Real in San Mateo (at 16th Avenue, near CA-92 and the San Mateo Bridge). They booked local rock bands for a few months this Summer, and sent in their listing to the Berkeley Barb. I don't know anything else about the club.

August 14, 1970  Peninsula YMCA, San Mateo, CA: Loading Zone (Friday)
The Peninsula YMCA, at 240 El Camino Real in San Mateo, was often for rent for events on Friday and Saturday night. Some local club was probably putting on a dance, and rented the gym. I presume the Loading Zone played numerous such weekend events in their time, but we only have trace evidence of them.

August 20, 1970 Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Loading Zone/Nazgul (Thursday)

August 21-22, 1970 New Orleans House, Berkeley, CA: Loading Zone/Pig Newton and the Wizards From Kansas (Friday-Saturday)
The Loading Zone had a return weekend at the New Orleans House, so the new band must have gone over well. The peculiarly-named Pig Newton and The Wizards From Kansas suggests a one-time ensemble featuring expatriate Kansas musicians, who may have included Mike Finnegan and Jerry Hahn, among others.

August 26, 1970 Football Field, Shasta College, Redding, CA: Loading Zone/People/Bittersweet/Crystal Axe/Rosey Bones/Seventh Dawn/Silver Hill/Trike (Wednesday)
Redding is about 200 miles North of Oakland, near Mt. Shasta. Far Northern California is very beautiful but thinly populated. The Junior College had been founded in 1950, but by 1965 it had expanded so much that it moved to a new, expansive campus at 11555 Oregon Trail, where it thrives today (incidentally, its likely that the road really did follow the track of the Oregon Trail). This seven-band event included two "big city" bands, including Oakland's Loading Zone and San Jose's People. Bittersweet was a band from Chico, and presumably the other bands were local. School wouldn't likely have been in session, so this was probably just a fun end-of-summer events. City rock bands didn't play Redding much, and there wasn't that much local entertainment, so the event was probably pretty well attended.

The Lion's Share, at 60 Red Hill Avenue in San Anselmo, sometime in the 1970s

August 28-30, 1970 Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Loading Zone/Cookin' Mama
The Loading Zone returned for an entire weekend at The Lion's Share, another sign the new band was a success. Cookin' Mama was a big horn band featuring vocalist Sherry Fox and guitarist Pat Thrall.

September 4-6, 1970 Frenchy's, Hayward, CA:  Cold Blood/Loading Zone/Charlie Musselwhite (Friday-Sunday)
Although it was in Southern Alameda County, Hayward was not the upscale, upper-middle-class commuter town that it is today. As noted above, much of the area East of Mission Boulevard was unincorporated farm land, and the biggest employer was the GM factory in Fremont. Frenchy's, way out on Mission Boulevard (at 29097 Mission, near Tennyson Rd), had been a big nightclub since the 1960s. Frenchy's had been through every fad, Go-Go dancers, topless, the British Invasion and all sorts of things. At different times, Frank Zappa and Sly and The Family Stone had played there. The club sold a lot of drinks and was one of the primary destinations for that part of the County.

September 17-19, 1970 Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Loading Zone/Sea Train (Thursday-Saturday)
Sea Train (aka Seatrain) had arisen out of the ashes of the Blues Project, who for convoluted reasons had reformed in San Francisco in 1968, even though the band had been founded in Greenwich Village in 1965. By 1970, Sea Train had moved from A&M Records (where they had released their debut album Sea Train) to Capitol, where they had released their album Seatrain. Their membership had changed in the meantime. By 1970, Seatrain featured guitarist/singer/songwriter Peter Rowan, keyboardist/singer/songwriter Lloyd Baskin and electric violinist Richard Greene. As before, bassist (and flautist) Andy Kulberg and drummer Roy Blumenfield remained. Since Greene and Rowan had wintered in Marin the previous year, the band had numerous pals in town. This was probably sort of a homecoming gig for Seatrain.

September 24-26, 1970 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA: Chuck Berry/Buddy Miles/Loading Zone (Thursday-Saturday)
The Loading Zone played yet another weekend at the Fillmore West, once again opening for Chuck Berry. It seems plausible that the Zone backed Berry, as they had before. If they did, only bassist Mike Eggleston would have actually had prior experience with it (having done it at least once, and possibly as many as four times). Tom and Al Coster were both jazz guys, so while I'm sure they could play rock and roll--I have seen Tom Coster live, I assure you he can play anything--it would have been somewhat out of character. Graham could have hired another local band to back Berry, of course, but it was usually simpler to let one of the opening acts do it.

October 2-4, 1970 Mandrakes, Berkeley, CA: Bill Evans Trio/Loading Zone (Friday-Sunday)
The newspaper listings are a little ambiguous (as they often are), but based on the past history of Mandrake's, it seems likely that the Bill Evans Trio and Loading Zone were probably separate admissions, at least on Friday and Saturday night. It would have been well worth it, however, great jazz from an iconic pianist, and then dancing away the evening with Linda Tillery and the Costers.

October 27-28, 1970 Keystone Korner, San Francisco, CA: Vince Guaraldi/Loading Zone (Tuesday-Wednesday)
A few weeks later, The Loading Zone played two weeknights at Keystone Korner with another jazz great, Vince Guaraldi. Because it wasn't the weekend, there wouldn't have been separate admissions. Guaraldi, unlike almost all jazz musicians, had steady income from the Peanuts soundtracks, so he could play when he wanted to. Guaraldi loved performing but not touring, so he played clubs constantly around the San Francisco area, yet rarely left town.

At this time, the Keystone Korner was a blues and rock club, rather than a jazz club (which it became in Summer '72). According to definitive Guaraldi biographer Derrick Bang, however (whose book Vince Guaraldi At The Piano is a must-read for anyone interested in West Coast Jazz), it was a little-known fact that Guaraldi liked playing electric keyboards. So while he Guaraldi would play grand piano with his groups in traditional jazz venues, in some more "rock" oriented clubs he might be more likely to play a Fender Rhodes, with a big amplifier. Guaraldi often used Mike Clark as a drummer during this period (per Bang), so there could be some big sounds indeed coming from the bandstand.

October 30, 1970  Salesian High School, Richmond, CA: Loading Zone (Friday)
Salesian High School was a Catholic High School in Richmond, at 2851 Salesian Avenue. It had opened as a Seminary in 1927, but started admitting High School boys in 1960. This was probably a school dance.

October 31, 1970  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 Zone played the Montclair Rec Center the next week, and then a few times after that, so it must have gone well.

November 4-5, 1970 Mandrakes, Berkeley, CA: Loading Zone (Wednesday-Thursday)

November 7, 1970 Montclair Recreation Center, Oakland, CA: Loading Zone (Saturday)
There is a bit of uncertainty about whether the Zone played this date.

November 13-14, 1970 Basin Street West, San Francisco, CA: Aum/Loading Zone (Breakfast shows 2:30am Friday and Saturday)
Basin Street West was a jazz club at 401 Broadway in San Francisco. The Broadway district had been the Bay Area's nightlife district, between North Beach, the Financial District and the Bay Bridge. In the mid-60s, the clubs were mostly topless, and by 1970 the area was pretty unseemly. It wasn't such a good place for a music club, since parking was difficult and the atmosphere could be grimy. Still, Basin Street West had the occasional rock act.

Although the advertising in the SF Chronicle is confusing, it appears that AUM and Loading Zone were booked to do Friday and Saturday night "Breakfast Shows" from 2:30am-6:30am. Since bars closed at 2:00am, these shows were often musician hangouts. Officially, drinks were not served, although I'll be alcohol was available somehow. Due to some peculiarities in the SF Chronicle Datebook "Pink Section," this Breakfast Show booking was advertised every week through February. For reasons too granular to get into here, there is no reason to believe them to be accurate. I suspect that AUM and the Zone did play a month of Breakfast shows, however, or something like that. Breakfast shows did not interfere with other lucrative weekend bookings, and musicians often stay up all night anyway.

November 17-18, 1970 Keystone Korner, San Francisco, CA: Cold Blood/Loading Zone (Tuesday-Wednesday)
Cold Blood was booked by the Millard Agency, and even had an album. On weeknights, however, they were on par with the Loading Zone, so they were sharing a booking at Keystone Korner.

December 4-6, 1970  Frenchy's, Hayward, CA: Righteous Brothers/Loading Zone (Friday-Sunday) The Righteous Brothers, "blue-eyed soul" singers Bobby Hatfield and Bill Medley, had been huge in the 60s, with hits like "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" and "Little Latin Lupe Lu." They had split up in 1968, but periodically got back together. The Frenchy's crowd had money, but wasn't a Fillmore audience--the Righteous Brothers would have fit the bill, and the Loading Zone would have kept everyone sweaty and dancing.

December 7, 1970 Club Francisco, San Francisco, CA: Jam Session (Monday)
In the December 8, 1970 Oakland Tribune, jazz writer Russ Wilson mentioned that local guitarist Eddie Duran had played the Monday night jam session with his new quartet (it may have been November 30). It included Tom and Al Coster (and bassist Peter Marshall). Obviously, with the Loading Zone obligations, the Costers could only play part-time with Duran. Still they probably played some weeknights with him around and about.

December 9-10, 1970 Mandrakes, Berkeley, CA: Loading Zone (Wednesday-Thursday) 

December 17, 1970 Keystone Korner, San Francisco, CA: Loading Zone/Beefy Red (Thursday)
The last 1970 gig I can find for the Loading Zone was at the Keystone Korner on a Thursday night. The opening act was a Marin band called Beefy Red. Beefy Red was a big, jazzy group with a horn section. They never recorded, but they had a few members who went on to musical success: Barry Finnerty on guitar, Jim Preston on drums and Mark Isham on trumpet.