Friday, June 4, 2021

February 6-7, 1970 Red Ram, 444 E Williams St, San Jose, CA: Bronze Hog (Lost Horizons 1970 II)

A listing in the Berkeley Barb for the Red Ram, a pizza and beer joint in San Jose. Cotati band Bronze Hog were booked for the weekend of February 6-7, 1970
Recently I have been focusing my research on rock shows in the Bay Area in the early 1970s, focusing particularly on the lower tiers. With patience, I have done good research on the Matrix, the Keystone Berkeley, the Long Branch and a few other clubs. Yet I consistently come across tantalizing details of other venues, different untold stories and an insight into the unexplained. Without further information, I am often stuck with just the hint, not anything like the actual story.

My research method focuses on finding dates and venues where bands have performed, and constructing a narrative based on available sources. It sounds simple, but it reaps many benefits. Rather than assume what the motives and goals of different bands or promoters might be, I can let the evidence of actual performances tell me what is desired and what has resulted. The limits of this method, ultimately, are constrained by the limits of my available sources. From the 1960s and '70s, we don't always have that much evidence, so it can be hard to figure out the story. Not all old sources have been digitized, and in many cases a lot of shows were not advertised in any paper. If no local flyers were preserved, or there aren't other sources we can be left with very little. 

Lost Horizons, 1970
The Lost Horizons posts are a series of posts that I can't complete. In some cases I wish someone else would write the post, in other cases I'm hoping someone else has already written it, and in some others I am hoping for more information so I can try and take them on. There's no real connection between any of these topics, save for the device that there was a live performance in 1970 that intrigued my interest. My blogs have an explicitly rock and roll orientation, but my methodological approach veers off in different directions. Fernand Braudel, Reynar Banham, Marcy (emptywheel) Wheeler--it's still rock and roll to me. I'm hoping that the magic of the Internet and eternal Comment Threads will yield up information hitherto unknown to me. If you have any insights, corrections or entertaining speculation, please Comment.


The Berkeley Barb
The Berkeley Barb had been founded by Max Scherr in 1965. The weekly paper made a point of documenting the local counterculture. The readership was distinct from anyone subscribing to the local daily papers (the San Fransisco Chronicle or Examiner, the Oakland Tribune or the Berkeley Gazette). The Barb reported on protests, pot busts, sexual freedom and local rock shows. The ads were for organic foods, head shops or local crafts. The Barb was an alternative paper for an alternative audience. It was sold by hippies to other hippies for a dime or a quarter.  I don't know if the Berkeley Barb was the first such "underground" paper, but it was one of them, and it was a model for such papers all over the country.

By 1970, the Barb was being read all over the Bay Area. I don't know the exact details, but I believe that even outside of Berkeley the paper was available in Head Shops, espresso joints and other hip places throughout the Bay Area. At the back of every issue of the Barb was "Scenedrome," a summary of upcoming and ongoing events in the next week that might be of interest to its readers. While that would always include shows at Fillmore West, for example, it also included performers at Telegraph Avenue coffee shops, foreign movies, political meetings, self-help groups and all sorts of other gatherings. Getting listed in Scenedrome any week was free--someone just had to call the Barb by Tuesday at noon. So for hippie events that were on a shoestring, or just free, calling the Scenedrome was the cheapest way to get publicity. 

While Berkeley events had always been posted in Scenedrome every week since 1965, by 1970 it was plain that the rest of the Bay Area was paying attention as well. The Friday and Saturday listings in Scenedrome went well beyond Berkeley, a clear indicator that the Barb had a broader readership beyond central Berkeley. So we get tantalizing hints of what was going on around the Bay Area, without really knowing exactly what it was. Most of my notices below come from little more than the barest of listings in the appropriate issue of the Berkeley Barb, with occasional supplements from other sources.

Capitol Records released the debut album by the Bay Area jazz-rock quartet The Fourth Way in 1969

February 6-7, 1970 Red Ram, San Jose, CA: Bronze Hog (Friday-Saturday)
February 13-14, 1970 Red Ram, San Jose, CA: Fourth Way
(Friday-Saturday)
For two issues of the Barb in February, 1970, Scenedrome included listings for a club in San Jose called the Red Ram. Since listings in Scenedrome were free, it just meant that someone from the club had called the Barb prior to the deadline (Tuesday noon). Since the club was in San Jose, not Berkeley, and no such listings appeared before or after, we have to reflect on what this might have implied. 

The Red Ram was at 444 E. William Avenue, between South 9th and 10th Streets. It was a few blocks from the San Jose State campus. The unexpected appearance of the club in the Barb listings sent me over to the San Jose State newspaper archive (The Spartan Daily), and I got a clearer picture of the story. In the case of the Red Ram, it turns out, I could figure out the whole arc and while it's worthy of a few paragraphs, it's just a kind of footnote.

Per the Spartan Daily, the Red Ram seemed to be a typical pizza-and-beer joint near campus. Starting in January, they had begun booking "name" acts on weekends. Now, in this case, "name" just meant they were professional bands playing original music, and they were familiar from clubs like the New Orleans House. The weekend acts in January at the Red Ram included the Fourth Way and Charley Musselwhite. The fact that someone at the Red Ram called Scenedrome in February indicates that the Barb must have been available around the San Jose State campus, which isn't surprising. 

After the February 13 Barb, the Red Ram wasn't listed in Scenedrome again. To some extent, that's just a sign that no one called the Barb again. The Red Ram ad in the next weekend's Spartan Daily had the band Mt Rushmore (who had two albums on Dot Records), and intermittent listings through April. By September, the Red Ram was still advertising in the Spartan Daily, but with no mention of bands. The experiment with professional bands seemed to have ended, with the Barb listings one of the few clues to the fledgling plan (see the appendix below for some more detail).

Appendix: The Red Ram, 444 East Williams St, San Jose, CA: Live Performances 1970
Having been intrigued by the listings in the Barb, I did some research in the Spartan Daily, and put together a brief summary of the history of original rock at the Red Ram. This list is hardly definitive. Anyone with additional information (or flashbacks, speculation etc) please mention them in the Comments.

January 9-10, 1970 Red Ram, San Jose, CA: Fourth Way (Friday-Saturday) [Spartan Daily ad Jan 7]
The Fourth Way were an electric jazz quartet based in the Bay Area. Broadly speaking, they were playing "jazz-rock," but their sound was more introspective than the more frantic East Coast fusion style of Miles Davis. New Zealand expatriate Mike Nock played electric keyboards, and Michael White (ex-John Handy) played electric violin. Veteran bassist Ron McClure (ex-Charles Lloyd Quartet) and drummer Eddie Marshall rounded out the band. The Fourth Way had released their debut on Capitol in 1969, and would go on to release two more albums on Harvest.


January 16-17, 1970 Red Ram, San Jose, CA: Charley Musselwhite
(Friday-Saturday) [Spartan Daily Jan 14]
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 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.

Musselwhite had released his second album on Vanguard, Stone Blues, in 1968. Sometime in 1969, Vanguard released Tennessee Woman. Musselwhite was a regular on the Bay Area club scene, and had played the Fillmore and Avalon as well. In Chicago, Musselwhite was just one of many fine blues acts, but in the Bay Area he stood out. Sometime in early 1970, teenage Ukiah guitarist Robben Ford joined the Musselwhite band. Ford would go on to great success, playing with the LA Express, George Harrison, Miles Davis and many others.

Hey! by The Bronze Hog was recorded in 1978 at the Inn Of The Beginning in Cotati

February 6-7, 1970 Red Ram, San Jose, CA: Bronze Hog (Friday-Saturday) [Barb Feb 6]
The Bronze Hog were a power trio from bucolic Cotati, in Sonoma County. Their home base was the Inn Of The Beginning, at 8201 Old Redwood Highway. Guitarist Frank Haycock would lead Bronze Hog for a couple of decades, but in 1968 they were one of many rising bands in the Bay Area struggling to get a wider audience. In 1978, Bronze Hog had a privately released live album, recorded (of course) at the Inn Of The Beginning.

February 13-14, 1970 Red Ram, San Jose, CA: Fourth Way (Friday-Saturday) [Barb Feb 13, also Spartan Daily Feb 13]


February 20-21, 1970 Red Ram, San Jose, CA: Mount Rushmore (Friday-Saturday) [Spartan Daily Feb 20]
Mt. Rushmore was a San Francisco band who had released two albums on Dot Records. The band had a complicated history, and was intricately connected to the band Phoenix (we have sorted it all out). The group did not last much past 1970.

February 24-25, 1970 Red Ram, San Jose, CA: South Bay Experimental Flash (Tuesday-Wednesday) [Spartan Daily Feb 20]
The Friday, February 20 Spartan Daily not only mentioned Mt Rushmore's weekend booking, but also advertised the local band South Bay Experimental Flash on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Experimental Flash were a San Jose based quintet, playing a sophisticated form of jazz-rock, fronted by saxophonist David Ladd. Although--ironically--the band members had moved to Richmond in the East Bay by this time, the group would have been known in the South Bay.

The mid-week listing suggests that the Red Ram was expanding its music booking, but the opposite appears to have been case. The Red Ram continued to advertise in the Spartan Daily, and while some ads through April mentioned "live music," no bands were named. This tells us that lower profile bands were being booked. By September, there was no mention of live music at the Red Ram. At this time, there were no night clubs in the San Jose metropolitan area booking original rock music.


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

January 24, 1970 Live Oak Park, Berkeley, CA: Floating Lotus Magic Opera Company (Lost Horizons 1970 I)

A flyer for a performance of Walls Of Blood, by the Floating Lotus Magic Opera Company, at John Hinkel Park in Berkeley, ca. 1968

Recently I have been focusing my research on rock shows in the Bay Area in the early 1970s, focusing particularly on the lower tiers. With patience, I have done good research on the Matrix, the Keystone Berkeley, the Long Branch and a few other clubs. Yet I consistently come across tantalizing details of other venues, different untold stories and an insight into the unexplained. Without further information, I am often stuck with just the hint, not anything like the actual story.

My research method focuses on finding dates and venues where bands have performed, and constructing a narrative based on available sources. It sounds simple, but it reaps many benefits. Rather than assume what the motives and goals of different bands or promoters might be, I can let the evidence of actual performances tell me what is desired and what has resulted. The limits of this method, ultimately, are constrained by the limits of my available sources. From the 1960s and '70s, we don't always have that much evidence, so it can be hard to figure out the story. Not all old sources have been digitized, and in many cases a lot of shows were not advertised in any paper. If no local flyers were preserved, or there aren't other sources we can be left with very little. 

Lost Horizons, 1970
The Lost Horizons posts are a series of posts that I can't complete. In some cases I wish someone else would write the post, in other cases I'm hoping someone else has already written it, and in some others I am hoping for more information so I can try and take them on. There's no real connection between any of these topics, save for the device that there was a live performance in 1970 that intrigued my interest. My blogs have an explicitly rock and roll orientation, but my methodological approach veers off in different directions. Fernand Braudel, Reynar Banham, Marcy (emptywheel) Wheeler--it's still rock and roll to me. I'm hoping that the magic of the Internet and eternal Comment Threads will yield up information hitherto unknown to me. If you have any insights, corrections or entertaining speculation, please Comment.


The Berkeley Barb
The Berkeley Barb had been founded by Max Scherr in 1965. The weekly paper made a point of documenting the local counterculture. The readership was distinct from anyone subscribing to the local daily papers (the San Fransisco Chronicle or Examiner, the Oakland Tribune or the Berkeley Gazette). The Barb reported on protests, pot busts, sexual freedom and local rock shows. The ads were for organic foods, head shops or local crafts. The Barb was an alternative paper for an alternative audience. It was sold by hippies to other hippies for a dime or a quarter.  I don't know if the Berkeley Barb was the first such "underground" paper, but it was one of them, and it was a model for such papers all over the country.

By 1970, the Barb was being read well beyond Berkeley. I don't know the exact details, but I believe that even outside of Berkeley the paper was available in Head Shops, espresso joints and other hip places throughout the Bay Area. At the back of every issue of the Barb was "Scenedrome," a summary of upcoming and ongoing events in the next week that might be of interest to its readers. While that would always include shows at Fillmore West, for example, it also included performers at Telegraph Avenue coffee shops, foreign movies, political meetings, self-help groups and all sorts of other gatherings. Getting listed in Scenedrome any week was free--someone just had to call the Barb by Tuesday at noon. So for hippie events that were on a shoestring, or just free, calling the Scenedrome was the cheapest way to get publicity. 

While Berkeley events had always been posted in Scenedrome every week since 1965, by 1970 it was plain that the rest of the Bay Area was paying attention as well. The Friday and Saturday listings in Scenedrome went well beyond Berkeley, a clear indicator that the Barb had a broader readership beyond central Berkeley. So we get tantalizing hints of what was going on around the Bay Area, without really knowing exactly what it was. Most of my notices below come from little more than the barest of listings in the appropriate issue of the Berkeley Barb, with occasional supplements from other sources.

A photo from the Floating Lotus Magic Opera "Bliss Apocalypse"

January 24, 1970 Live Oak Park, Berkeley, CA: Floating Lotus Magic Opera Company
(Saturday-1 pm)
The Floating Lotus Magic Opera Company is one of those only-in-Berkeley stories, all but unbelievable to to people who never lived in Berkeley, yet hardly even a standard deviation for those who have. Berkeley was some place in the late 60s: demonstrations on campus, riots on Telegraph Avenue, psychedelic rock bands for free in Provo Park or at night at the New Orleans House, blues at Mandrake's, Serious Folk at the Freight And Salvage. Oh yeah--and every Saturday, at John Hinkel Park, at 41 Somerset Place, near Arlington Circle, The Floating Lotus Magic Opera Company performing a really-hard-to-explain theater show with ritual chanting, costumes and music.

Unlike some lost events, there are plenty of descriptions of the Floating Lotus Magic Opera Company, from inside and from the outside. There's a script of one of the "Operas" (called Walls Of Blood). Around late '68, Floating Lotus even got a good write-up in Rolling Stone magazine.


The above listing for January 24, 1970 seems to be just about the last gasp of the Floating Lotus. Founder Daniel Moore had been putting shows on at the Amphitheater in John Hinkel Park since 1968, but I don't know if they were weekly, monthly, seasonal or what. John Hinkel Park is in the lower Berkeley Hills, off Arlington Avenue, near Marin Avenue (and "The Circle," for those who know Berkeley), but not all the way up to Tilden Park (the actual address is 41 Somerset Place). 

Berkeley Barb (Jan 23 edition) listing the Floating Lotus Magic Opera Co at Berkeley's Live Oak Park on Saturday, January 24, 1970

At least in late 1969, the Opera also performed at the Family Dog on The Great Highway, so they were definitely associating themselves with the hippie rock scene, even if the Opera itself had nothing musically to do with rock. At the very end, they switched to the larger Live Oak Park, further down the hill and closer to campus, at 1301 Shattuck (between Shattuck Avenue and Oxford Street). I learned about the Floating Lotus Magic Opera Company from a regular participant (flautist Susan Graubard, formerly with the group New Age), and I have been trying to figure it out ever since, but I still can't. 

I do know that the Floating Lotus Opera Company was not without resonance. Among other things, there were numerous people involved, and costumes and stage sets. I know that around 1970, many of the sets and costumes made their way over to San Francisco and became part of The Cockettes stage show. Now, even I know that the Cockettes were important, but I'm not knowledgeable enough to say how, really, much less whether the Floating Lotus was influential or just a source of stage gear. 

I'm really good at some kinds of rabbit holes, like psychedelic rock and roll, minor league baseball or World War 2. But I'm really no good at trans-cultural, reflective performing arts. So I've never gotten a handle on it. Someone has to write a post about it, but it can't be me. But there's a longer, better post here somewhere--I hope someone writes it. 

60s and 70s Rock Nightclub Navigation and Tracker



Saturday, April 17, 2021

60s and 70s Rock Nightclub History Navigation and Tracker

The Keystone Berkeley, at 2119 University Avenue (at Shattuck), some time in the early 80s
 

60s and 70s Rock Nightclub History Navigation and Tracker
Over the years, I have done detailed research into the performance histories of various rock music nightclubs in the 1960s and 70s. The goal has always been to identify an exact record of every musical performer at a club over a given period. Due to the paucity of sources, sometimes the chronicle may be incomplete, but not for lack of effort. In some cases, for less well-documented clubs, the goal is to identify every performer, even if the exact nights of their performances can't be nailed down.

60s rock found its footing in psychedelic ballrooms, and moved on up to civic auditoriums and basketball arenas. By the 1970s, the big business of rock touring took away many of the regional differences. If you saw the Grateful Dead, or Mott The Hoople or the Doobie Brothers in San Francisco, Des Moines or Boston, it was probably pretty much the same in each city. As the biggest bands moved up to the auditoriums, however, the rock audience got older and found that they liked a drink while watching music. 

Rock nightclubs, rare in the 60s, were common in the 1970s. Unlike the big arenas, there were distinct differences between regions. There were even differences between parts of the Bay Area. The demographics of parking, FM radio and economies made each club distinct from its competitors, at least for a while. I have not used a precise definition of what makes a "rock nightclub," but the general criteria are:

  • Original live rock music (with some exceptions, perhaps)
  • Liquor (at least beer)
  • Tables and chairs (at least some of the time)

This excludes rock venues with a bar in the back, or coffee shops. There isn't a size limit to my analysis, but my goal is to look at the middle tier of 60s and 70s rock.

By identifying a complete list, the club histories skew away from impressionistic memories that can be clouded by nostalgia. Seeing who was actually booked, the status of that performer at the time--as opposed to how important they would become later--gives a clear picture of the economic forces of any club, and in turn can be revealing about the city and the regional rock scene at the time.

I would not have been able to complete all this work without the assistance of co-conspirators. The Chicken On A Unicycle website has been a joint effort. As to the blogs, the Comment Threads are filled with detailed updates from known and unknown participants, greatly enhancing the scholarship.

This tracker has links to various associated pages on Chicken and specific blog posts. Here and there I also link to a few other posts by others that fulfill my needs. Some forthcoming posts are listed (without links yet, of course) in anticipation of the future.

 A Tom Weller flyer for Country Joe and The Fish at Berkeley's Jabberwock, November 1-3, 1966

Berkeley Rock Nightclubs

The Jabberwock, 2901 Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley, CA 1964-67
The Jabberwock was a folk club, but it gave birth to Country Joe and The Fish.

List of Jabberwock Performances 1964-July 8, 1967

Jabberwock Poster Art

The Questing Beast, 2504 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA: Performance History 1965-66
County Joe and The Fish got started at the Jabberwock, but they went electric at the Questing Beast.

New Orleans House, 1505 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA Performance Listing 1966-1970
The New Orleans, opened as a home for New Orleans-style jazz, rapidly became a rock club by 1966. It was the primary nightclub for original rock music in Berkeley throughout the 1960s. We attempt to identify every performer from 1967 to 1969, and its an excellent survey of original California rock bands just one tier below the Fillmore and Avalon.

Freight and Salvage, 1827 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA Performance Listing 1968-70
The Freight and Salvage was really a folk club, but it was founded by Berkeley hippies in 1968, and it was part of the rock music community, in it own way. We attempt to identify every performer at the Freight and Salvage in 1968 and '69, and its a primer on American music over the next 50 years.

Mandrake's, 1048 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA Performance List 1965-1973
Mandrake's, a converted pool hall on University and San Pablo, mainly presented blues and jazz, but by the end of the 1960s, it presented a lot of rock as well.
 
The Babylon, 2504 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA Performance Listings 1969-70
The Babylon featured original rock music, almost all from local East Bay bands.

The Long Branch, 2504 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA Performers Listing May-December 1971
The Long Branch, at the infamous Berkeley music address of 2504 San Pablo, expanded the building and replaced the Babylon in May 1971. This post is a detailed discussion of every performer who was known to have played the Long Branch in 1971, even if some dates are uncertain.

Keystone Berkeley, 2119 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA Performance Listings 1972
The Keystone Berkeley replaced the New Monk, going from a fraternity beer joint to Berkeley's primary rock club throughout the 1970s. This post is a detailed discussion of every performer who played Keystone Berkeley in 1972.

2119 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA: The Keystone Berkeley
Jerry Garcia played the Keystone Berkeley at least 243 times. His relationship to Keystone Berkeley was unique to Garcia's career, and an essential lynchpin of the club.

Bay Area Survey Rock Nightclub Survey, January-April 1974 Performance Listings
A snapshot of East Bay rock nightclubs in 1974, including analysis of performers for Keystone Berkeley (January), the Long Branch (February), Bill Graham Presents (March, at Winterland and Berkeley Community Theater) and the Freight and Salvage (April).


San Francisco Rock Nightclubs

The Matrix, 3138 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA Performance Listing 1965-70
The Matrix was San Francisco's first, and for a while only, hippie rock night club. This page is a list of performers at the Matrix, to the best of our knowledge.

The Matrix, 3138 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA: Performer Listing January-June 1970 (Matrix I)
This post provides a detailed  analysis of all the known performers at the Matrix during the first half of 1970. As the tiny Matrix became a less lucrative gig, the club turned into a musician's hangout and the music played was pretty interesting. Not least--besides Bruce Springsteen dropping in--Jerry Garcia began his long collaboration with bassist John Kahn.

The Matrix, 3138 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA: Performer Listing July-September 1970 (Matrix II)
Continued analysis of performers at the Matrix in 1970. Merl Saunders joins Garcia and Kahn. 

The Matrix, 3138 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA: Performer Listing October-December 1970 (Matrix III)
The Matrix is in decline a club, but it is all the more fascinating for having become Jerry Garcia's hangout.


Whisky A Go-Go, San Francisco, 568 Sacramento St, San Francisco, CA: March 11, 1967

The West Hollywood Whisky A-Go-Go had a long forgotten San Francisco branch. I obtained a photo of the Grateful Dead's performance there on March 11, 1967. I discuss what little is known about the club, with some links to other posts.

2629 Bayshore Blvd, San Francisco, CA The Moonrose Forest (formerly George's Log Cabin) November 1969

Bay Area Rock Nightclub Survey, May-September 1974
A snapshot of Bay Area rock nightclubs in 1974, including analysis of performers at The Great American Music Hall (May), the Boarding House (June), the Orphanage (July), the Inn Of The Beginning in Cotati (August) and the Lion's Share in San Anselmo (September).


Palo Alto Rock Nightclubs

Palo Alto Psychedelic Rock Shows, 1965-66 (Palo Alto I)
Palo Alto, to hear Palo Altans tell it, was the birthplace of psychedelic rock. Palo Alto's first rock nightclub was The Big Beat, at 998 San Antonio Road. Right before it opened, the club was rented by The Merry Pranksters for the Palo Alto Acid Test on December 18, 1965, with the Grateful Dead providing the music. The Big Beat was never that interesting again.

Palo Alto Psychedelic Rock Shows, 1967 (Palo Alto II)
In April, 1967, The Poppycock opened in downtown Palo Alto, at 135 University Avenue. It presented original rock bands, and downtown Palo Alto slowly came to life. I list what is known about performers at The Poppycock this year (and elsewhere in Palo Alto).

Palo Alto Psychedelic Rock Shows, 1968 (Palo Alto III)
In 1968, the modest Poppycock books a lot of good Bay Area rock bands. I review the status of all the known performers from the year.

Palo Alto Psychedelic Rock Shows, January-June 1969 (Palo Alto IV)
Rock music is exploding in the Bay Area, and some really good bands play the Poppycock. The club is starting to seem on the small side, however. This post identifies all the Poppycock performers from the first half of 1969.

Palo Alto Psychedelic Rock Shows, July-December 1969 (Palo Alto V)
In the second half of 1969, the Poppycock has become too small to compete with other venues. Some really good bands play the club on weeknights, some that really interest us today, but the club was wearing out its welcome in downtown Palo Alto. It would close quietly in mid-1970.

In Your Ear, 135 University Avenue, Palo Alto, CA: Performer Listing, May 1971-December 1972
In Your Ear opened at the site of the Poppycock (135 University). Nominally, it was a jazz club, but it had a broad booking policy that included jazz, blues and rock. A fire on New Year's Eve 1972 closed the club. Fellow scholar CryptDev has the details of all the known performers.

Homer's Warehouse, 79 Homer Lane, Palo Alto, CA: Performer Listing 1971-73
Quiet Palo Alto did not like the noisy rock of the Poppycock downtown. A few blocks away, and quite literally across the railroad tracks, Homer's Warehouse booked bands in a quonset hut that was formerly a warehouse. The fun lasted until 1973. CryptDev has what details survive of the known performers.

Sophie's, 260 S. California Avenue, Palo Alto, CA: Performer Listing 1976
After a quiet period, rock music returned to Palo Alto. This time, however, it wasn't downtown, but rather on the main street of what was formerly Mayfield, the rowdy predecessor to Palo Alto. Sophie's opened in 1975. I review the performers in 1976, when the club was migrating from just being a Top 40 dance bar to an original music club (Sophie's would become the Keystone Palo Alto in 1977).

Palo Alto Rock History Navigation
I have a page listing all my Palo Alto and South Bay posts, including Night Clubs, other venues and some bands.

The Leaves, opening the Whisky A-Go-Go in Sunnyvale, August 1965

Bay Area Rock Nightclubs

These are some pages and posts to assorted rock nightclubs around the Bay Area

Whisky A-Go-Go, Washington and Murphy, Sunnyvale, CA: Fall 1965
Briefly, there was a franchise of West Hollywood's legendary Whisky A-Go-Go in suburban Sunnyvale, between San Jose and Palo Alto. It only lasted a few months--but we have photos.

Wayne Manor, Washington and Murphy, Sunnyvale, CA: 1966-68
The Sunnyvale Whisky closed, and then re-opened as Wayne Manor, a Batman-themed club. At the time, the comic book was a popular TV show.

Frenchy's, Hayward, CA: Performance Listings, January-June 1966
There were very few rock clubs booking original music in the Bay Area in early 1966, but Frenchy's, at 29907 Mission Boulevard in Hayward, was one of them. Far more interesting than you might think.

Inn Of The Beginning, 8201 Redwood Highway, Cotati, CA: Performance Listings 1968-75
A complete list of performers at the Inn Of The Beginning from 1968-75, albeit without commentary.

Chateau Liberte, 22700 Old Santa Cruz Highway, Los Gatos, CA
The Chateau Liberte was a legendary early 1970s nightclub, but I have been unable to find a consistent source for bookings. This post is a meditation on the peculiar economics of the club itself (with a picture of the Zig Zag Man swimming pool). 

The Red Ram, 444 E William St, San Jose, CA
I know very little about this place, except that the pizza joint near San Jose State booked rock bands for a few months in 1970. At this time (early 1970), there were no nightclubs in San Jose booking original rock bands.

Lion's Share, 60 Red Hill Avenue, San Anselmo, CA: Performance Listings April-June 1971
The Lion's Share was just a local musicians hangout, but since it was in Marin County, it was a happening place for a while. 


West Hollywood Rock Nightclubs

Whisky A-Go-Go, West Hollywood, CA: Performance List 1966-70
The Whisky A-Go-Go in West Hollywood started as a dance club, but it became America's first high profile rock club. Local bands and touring bands wanted to play the tiny Whisky in the 60s, just to see and be seen.

Whisky A-Go-Go, West Hollywood, CA: Performance List 1971-75

The Trip, West Hollywood, CA: Performers List 1965-66
Elmer Valentine, the proprietor of the Whisky A-Go-Go, had another West Hollywood club, The Trip (at 8572 W. Sunset). The Trip was more attuned to the psychedelic era, and the Valentine migrated the booking policy of The Trip over to the Whisky.

Thee Experience, 7551 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA: Performance List March-December 1969
Thee Experience was an intriguing competitor for The Whisky A-Go-Go, but it was only open for several months in 1969.

Thee Club, 8409 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA: August 1970
Thee Experience proprietor opened an "upscale" rock club called Thee Experience, and the club opened with the acoustic Grateful Dead. The club was ahead of its time, but didn't last.


The Troubadour, West Hollywood, CA Performance List January-April 1970 (Troubadour I)

The Troubadour had been open (in some form) since 1957, and while generally a folk club, it took on critical importance in the early 1970s. If rising singer-songwriters wanted to make it big, they had to play the Troubadour.

The Troubadour, West Hollywood and San Francisco, CA: Performance List May-August 1970 (Troubadour II)
The Troubadour expanded its footprint beyond Hollywood and opened a branch at 960 Bush Street in San Francisco.

The Troubadour, West Hollywood and San Francisco, CA: Performance List September-December 1970 (Troubadour III)
The San Francisco Troubadour closed with barely a trace, while the West Hollywood club continued to thrive.


Elsewhere

Cafe Au Go Go, 152 Bleecker St, New York, NY Performance List 1965 (Au Go Go I)
The Cafe Au Go Go was Greenwich Village's main rock club from 1965 through 1969.

Cafe Au Go Go, 152 Bleecker St, New York, NY Performance List January-June 1966 (Au Go Go II)

Cafe Au Go Go, 152 Bleecker St, New York, NY Performance List July-December 1967 (Au Go Go III)

Cafe Au Go Go, 152 Bleecker St, New York, NY Performance List January-June 1967 (Au Go Go IV)

Cafe Au Go Go, 152 Bleecker St, New York, NY Performance List July-December 1967 (Au Go Go V)

Cafe Au Go Go, 152 Bleecker St, New York, NY Performance List January-June 1968 (Au Go Go VI)

Cafe Au Go Go, 152 Bleecker St, New York, NY Performance List July-December 1968 (Au Go Go VII)

Cafe Au Go Go, 152 Bleecker St, New York, NY Performance List January-June 1969 (Au Go Go VII)

Cafe Au Go Go, 152 Bleecker St, New York, NY Performance List July-October 1969 (Au Go Go IX)

Cafe Au Go Go, 152 Bleecker St, New York, NY Performance List 1964-1965 (Au Go Go pre-rock)

Oakland's Loading Zone, ca 1968

Band Performance Histories

The performance history of some smaller bands gives us a good snapshot of  Bay Area venues at the time, including the various clubs.

Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band 

Phoenix/Mt Rushmore
There was a tangle of related bands, the Vipers, Universal Parking Lot, Blue House Basement, Phoenix, Mt. Rushmore and Potter's Wheel. We sort them out. 

Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, Performance List 1969
Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen migrated from Ann Arbor, MI to Berkeley in the Summer of 1969, and played every gig in town.

Loading Zone 1966-69

Loading Zone Performance List 1970 (Loading Zone I)

Loading Zone Performance List 1971 (Loading Zone II)

Lost Horizons
The Lost Horizons series are intriguing bits of research where the story remains just out of reach.

January 24, 1970 Live Oak Park, Berkeley, CA: Floating Lotus Magic Opera Company (Lost Horizons I)

February 6-7, 1970, Red Ram, 444 E Williams St, San Jose, CA: Bronze Hog (Lost Horizons II)

998 San Antonio Road, site of the Big Beat and the Palo Alto Acid Test (as of 2009)

Nightclub Events

These posts are about specific events at (mostly) Bay Area nightclubs. Included for completeness.

December 18, 1965: The Big Beat, 998 San Antionio Road, Palo Alto--Lost and Found 

3138 Fillmore Street, San Francisco The Matrix pre-opening 

November 28-December 1, 1966: The Matrix: Grateful Dead/Jerry Pond 

3138 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA The Matrix, January 6, 1969: Open Jam with Peter Albin and Dave Getz

The Matrix, San Francisco, CA February 19, 1969 Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady/Weird Herald 

The Matrix, San Francisco February 1969 High Country with Jerry Garcia and David Nelson  

August 6-9, 1969 The Matrix, San Francisco New Riders Of The Purple Sage  

December 15, 1970: The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia and Friends with David Crosby 

April 1965, Whisky A-Go-Go, San Francisco, CA: Johnny Rivers

Whisky A-Go-Go, San Francisco 1965-67

Whisky A-Go-Go, San Francisco 1965-67

January 23, 1966 Whisky-A-Go-Go, San Francisco, CA: The Hedds

Washington and Murphy, Sunnyvale, CA Whisky A Go Go, August 1965 The Leaves  

Washington at Murphy, Sunnyvale, CA: Wayne Manor 1966-67  

Washington at Murphy, Sunnyvale, CA Wayne Manor January 22-February 19, 1967 Bobby Taylor and The Vancouvers 

Questing Beast, 2504 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA
The demise of the Questing Beast.

North To San Francisco: The Warlocks in The South Bay, 1965

November 12, 1965: Tiger A Go Go, San Francisco Airport Hilton, Burlingame 

1836 El Camino Real, Redwood City, CA-The Nu Beat (later The Spectrum)   

4301 El Camino Real, San Mateo, CA: The Trip November 1966-Spring 68 

234 S. Brand Blvd, Glendale, CA: The Ice House Captain Beefheart/Nitty Gritty Dirt Band June 28-July 3, 1966  

June 18, 1965, Frenchy's, Hayward, CA: Lords Of London 

April 15-21, 1966, Frenchy's, Hayward, CA: Peter Lewis with Peter and The Wolves 

May 21, 1966, Frenchy’s, Hayward, CA: Neil Diamond/The Mothers  

September 30-October 1, 1967: Frenchy's, Hayward, CA: Sly and The Family Stone plus T-Bone Walker  

29097 Mission Blvd, Hayward, CA: Charlie Musselwhite at Frenchy's November 7, 1969 

807 Montgomery, San Francisco-Roaring 20s May 1967

Varni’s Roaring Twenties and the New Salvation Army Banned 

October 27, 1967: The Napoleon Five featuring Napoleon Murphy Brock, Fireside Lounge, San Mateo, CA 

4742 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA: The Rock Garden (1967)>The Ghetto Club (1967>1971)

1106 Solano Avenue (901 San Pablo Avenue), Albany, CA--The Lucky 13  

1048 University Avenue, Berkeley-Mandrake's
527 comments in the thread, read them all (really) 

8201 Old Redwood Highway, Cotati, CA The Inn Of The Beginning, Cotati, CA 1969 

345 Broadway, San Francisco August 1-2-3, 1969 Headhunters Amusement Park: Phanangang/Indian Puddin' 'N' Pipe/Quicksilver 

1275 Pine Street, Walnut Creek, CA The Hawks's Nest: The Socialites November 6-December 4, 1969

November 7-8, 1969 Mr. D's, 412 Broadway, San Francisco, CA: Three Dog Night/Hoyt Axton

3101 E. 14th Street, Oakland, CA: Ann's New Mo-The Naturally Stoned, November 7, 1969

3101 E. 14th Street, Oakland, CA: Ann's New Mo-Skull's May 10-11, 1968 

March 5, 1970 Freight and Salvage, Berkeley, CA: Peter Rowan and Richard Greene

April 10, 1974 Freight and Salvage, Berkeley: David Grisman and David Nichtern 

September 1-6, 1970 The Troubadour, 960 Bush Street San Francisco, CA: Elton John  

September 9, 1971 Gold St Club, San Francisco: Pigpen 

The Matrix, San Francisco, CA (412 Broadway): 1973 Shows

February 2, 1974, Keystone Berkeley: New Riders of The Purple Sage with Jerry Garcia (Home, Home On The Road) 

October 11-12, 1975 Keystone Berkeley Jerry Garcia Band w/Nicky Hopkins--Tim Hensley, electric piano

December 21-22, 1976, Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Jerry Garcia Band (Who Is John Rich?)

Jerry Garcia and Keystone Shows Overview

January 9-10, 1976: Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: The Jerry Garcia Band with James Booker 

December 5, 1977: Keystone Palo Alto, Palo Alto, CA Robert Hunter and Comfort (Alligator Moon-FM XIV)

January 9-10, 1976: Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: The Jerry Garcia Band with James Booker

"So What" The Jerry Garcia Band: Keystone Palo Alto, Palo Alto, CA November 3, 1978

May 19, 1979: The Old Waldorf, San Francisco, CA: Reconstruction/Horslips




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
(Friday)
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
(Sunday)
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
(Friday-Saturday)
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
(Friday)
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
(Friday-Sunday)
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
(Saturday)
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
(Saturday)
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
(Friday)
December 18, 1971 Long Branch, Berkeley, CA: Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen/Around and Around
(Saturday)
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.

Afterwards
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.