Wednesday, December 23, 2009

York Farm, Poynette, WI April 24-26, 1970 Sound Storm: Grateful Dead/Illinois Speed Press/Mason Profitt/others

Sound Storm was a rock festival held on the York Farm in Poynette, WI on the weekend of April 24-26, 1970, and attended by about 30,000 people. Poynette is a small community 30 miles North of Madison and 100 miles West of Milwaukee. Although the "hippie invasion" was not welcomed by the community, greeted with great trepidation by the police and subject to numerous risky variables like the weather, in fact the whole weekend was a relaxed celebration of Woodstock Nation in its day.  I have written recently on the Grateful Dead's participation in this event, but the entire story of Sound Storm will be forthcoming in the Wisconsin Magazine of History's March 2010 issue, in a scholarly article by Michael Edmonds.

As an adjunct to Edmonds's forthcoming article, the Wisconsin Historical Society has posted numerous hitherto unpublished photos by co-organizer Bob Pulling of many of the bands who played Sound Storm. In honor of that, I thought I would list what is known about the bands who played Sound Storm. I am not familiar with most of the local bands, but I do know something about the regional bands. I have provided links to the Pulling's photos where available. There are many unidentified performers, so if you would recognize some of the bands who played--like for example it was your band--take a look in the Unidentified Performers pages.

According to the poster (above), the scheduled performers for Sound Storm were

Grateful Dead/Ken Kesey/Crow/Illinois Speed Press/Rotary Connection/Mason Profitt/Fuse/Baby Huey/Soup/The Sorry Muthas/Spectre Inc./Captain Billy's Whiz Bang/Django/Bowery Boys/U.S. Pure/The Soul Asylum/Bliss/Brown Sugar/Ox/Northern Comfort/Tayles/Sargasso/Wheezer Lockinger/Manitoba Hugger/Wingfield/Tounge/Groove/Woodbine/Strophe/Ice/Omaha/Staph/Hope/Fly-By-Night Blues Band/Mother Blues/Don Gibson/Wilderness Road
A different ad also lists Biff Rose, Soup and Bethlehem Boogie Band. What follows are some brief comments on the bands known to me.

The Grateful Dead were, in fact, the Grateful Dead, and I have written elsewhere about their participation .

Ken Kesey, although a friend of organizer Peter Obranovich, was not in fact present. I suspect that his name was a sort of code for "Acid Test," which was not misunderstood by those attending.

Crow were a hard rock band from Minneapolis. Their 1969 debut album Crow Music (on Amaret) included a modest hit single, "Evil Woman (Don't Play Your Games With Me)," later covered by Black Sabbath.

Illinois Speed Press were a Chicago band, but they were signed by CBS and moved to Southern California along with another band, the Chicago Transit Authority. The ISP featured guitarists Paul Cotton and Kal David, and they released two excellent if little-noticed albums. Cotton went on to some fame in Poco, and Kal David was in the excellent Fabulous Rhinestones.

Rotary Connection were a Chicago "psychedelic soul" band on Cadet Records, Chess Records rock imprint. They featured lead singer Minnie Ripperton, who achieved fame as a solo artist in the seventies. Sometime in 1970, Rotary Connection had released their fifth album Dinner.

Mason Profitt was led by two brothers John Micheal and Terry Talbot, originally from Indianapolis, but based in Chicago by 1969. The first of their five albums, Wanted, had been released in 1969.

Fuse was a band from Rockford, IL, featuring guitarist Rick Nielsen and bassist Tom Peterson. They released one self-titled, poorly produced album for Epic in 1968. The band broke up in 1971, and Nielsen and Peterson went on to form Cheap Trick.

Baby Huey and The Babysitters were a legendary soul-rock band from Chicago, somewhat in the mold of Sly And The Family Stone. Lead singer "Baby Huey" (James Ramey) was reputedly a dynamic performer, but he had many health problems and he died in October 1970.

Luther Allison, not on the poster, but appearing in Pulling's photos, was a Chicago blues guitarist who had played in Howlin Wolf's band.

Ox were a Milwaukee band that featured guitarist Bob Metzger. Metzger has had a lengthy professional career, and is currently playing guitar for Leonard Cohen.

Captain Billy's Whiz Bang (with a G), according to bassist Michael Pontecorvo,
were a blues/rock 'n roll band out of Madison and played on the Library steps (first Earth Day) on Saturday and then at Sound Storm  Sunday morning.  It was Bob Schmitdke (Guitar), Michael Pontecorvo(Bass-myself), Larry Robertson(Organ) and god help me I can't remember our drummer's name.
Hopefully the drummer will surface soon (thanks to Michael for writing in).

Biff Rose (if he played) was a comedian and songwriter, somewhat different than most of the rock bands on the bill.

The rest of the bands are unknown to me, although there are photos of Northern Comfort, Bowery Boys and Wheezer Lockinger. Anyone with information about the other bands, particularly if they are in  the Unidentified Performers photos, please contact me or mention them in the Comments.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

January 29, 1967 Glide Memorial Church, San Francisco (Taylor & Ellis) Gallery Opening

Part of San Francisco's schizophrenia about the Summer of Love is easily viewed in the 1967 San Francisco Chronicle. While the news sections were full of almost daily reports about LSD freakouts, drug busts and runaways, the Arts and Entertainment section cheerily reported the doings of the San Francisco psychedelic underground. The major San Francisco rock bands were definitely Art and Entertainment, and worthy of the paper's attention, even if the News section implicitly scolded their fans for being menaces to society.

This brief listing from the January 27, 1967 edition of the Chronicle offers a tantalizing taste of something that would be quite valuable now. Many of the members of SF rock bands saw themselves generally as Artists, with music being just one part of their self-expression. Glide Memorial Church, with its forward looking minister, the Rev. Cecil Williams, was always sympathetic to the hippies, so its not surprising that the church temporarily became an art gallery. The article reports
A showing of painting and photography by members of San Francisco rock bands is now open to the public at Glide Memorial Church, Taylor and Ellis.
The exhibition, open to 6:30 pm, includes works by members of the Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and The Holding Company, the Sopwith Camel, the Quicksilver Messenger Service and The Loading Zone.
My limited knowledge in this area suggests that the likely artistes from those groups would include Grace Slick from the Airplane and James Gurley (RIP) from Big Brother. I don't know who the artists might have been in the other groups. While not exactly lost vase paintings from the city of Troy, to whatever extent they may have been great art in their own right, I'll bet all of it would fetch a pretty penny now--here's to hoping that one way or another all the artifacts did indeed do so, and the band members or their family members are enjoying the fruits of that.

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

I have written earlier about how while rock music was becoming "serious" at the Fillmore and Avalon, it was still just teen entertainment elsewhere in the Bay Area. The best example of this was Sunnyvale's Wayne Manor, a rock and soul nightclub modeled on the very popular Batman TV show starring Adam West. Inside Wayne Manor, apparently, it was got up like the Bat Cave, and the staff was dressed in various costumes. For a long time, the house band was a Fremont band called The Gotham City Crimefighters, and they wore capes and tights.

Besides the Crimefighters, Wayne Manor also featured live touring bands, who generally played several nights a week, at least according to the ads. Different groups cycled through the club, and were advertised in the papers. The ad featuring The Thunderbirds ("Direct from Reno") was from the October 21, 1966 San Mateo Times.  More interesting to me is the presence of Bobby Taylor and The Vancouvers, who played Wayne Manor from January 22, 1967 through at least February 19. They were advertised every week in the San Francisco Chronicle (the above is from Saturday, February 4), so they were definitely seen as an attraction.

Lead singer Bobby Taylor had been born in North Carolina, but raised in Washington State. In the early 1960s, his band (The Four Pharaohs) met another group (Little Daddy And The Bachelors) while they were in San Francisco, and they merged. They relocated to Canada, and in Calgary they were known as the Four Shades in reference to their multi-racial band members. By 1965 they were based in Vancouver, and mostly performed Motown covers, which is how they came to the attention of Motown Records, who signed them. I'm not sure if they had been signed to Motown by early 1967, but by 1968 they had a modest hit on Motown with "Does Your Mama Know About Me," which reached #29, and their sole album cracked the top 100 (#85).

Still, the history of a modestly popular soul band from Canada isn't the point of this post. Musicians are usually pretty hip, even if their band plays mainstream music, and their home base of Vancouver was a happening place in many ways. If the Vancouvers spent a month in San Francisco playing most nights of the week, they must have spent some time hanging out in hip San Francisco, Berkeley or Santa Cruz. It must have been pretty weird to go hear far out, free thinking stuff with light shows and LSD, and then go back the next night to a club modeled on a TV show with a house band of teenagers dressed like Batman and Robin. It can hardly have been clearer that music was changing, even if they were making good money.

Because I am in the precise age bracket that thought Cheech And Chong was the funniest thing a 14-year old had ever heard ("Dave's not here, man"), I am always interested in Bobby Taylor and The Vancouvers because the band's rhythm guitarist was Tommy Chong. I guess if he did a comedy routine where he said "we played in this club, man, where it was like the Bat Cave, and the waitresses dressed like Bat Girl," everyone would have thought it was just a drug-fueled fantasy. The idea that the Vancouvers had really done that, for a month, and got paid for it, would have been beyond my thinking at the time.

There are actually many interesting things about Bobby Taylor, not least that the Jackson 5 opened for them in Chicago in July 1968, and Taylor was so impressed he brought them to Motown for an audition. The Vancouvers broke up shortly afterwards, and Taylor ended up producing much of the first Jackson 5 album. As for the Gotham City Crimefighters, they ultimately returned to Fremont, dropped their uniforms and changed their name to The Motowns, and subsequently became Tower Of Power. Yet for all that, I am still stuck in 1972, thinking how Cheech and Chong's stoner musings were actually more conventional than what Chong, at least, had actually done as a musician.

Friday, December 18, 2009

49 Wentworth Alley, San Francisco Drag'on A' Go-Go January-February 1967

Rock music in the 1950s and 1960s was essential in creating a distinct category of American human called "Teenager." Up until the mid-1960s, rock was seen as fun to dance to, but too trivial for adult attention. The Beatles, Bob Dylan and the San Francisco changed that, but even into 1967 many rock clubs were still directed exclusively at teenagers. The Drag'on A' Go-Go was in San Francisco's Chinatown, at 49 Wentworth Alley near the intersection of Grant and Washington.

Although Chinatown was a genuine and long-standing community of immigrant Chinese and Chinese-Americans, commercially Chinatown was geared towards tourists. In the 1960s, Chinese restaurants were not common in most places, and good ones were even less common, so Chinatown made San Francisco an exotic and attractive destination. Since Chinatown was in walking distance of both the Financial District and North Beach (if you don't mind a few hills), it was accessible to the majority of San Francisco visitors. Chinatown was an appealing destination for families from the suburbs looking to spend a fun evening in the City, because it was exotic and fun, but easy to get to.

The Drag'on A' Go Go seems to have been open from about 1965 to 1967, at the height of both teen clubs and "Go Go" clubs. As far as I can tell, the Drag'on pushed cokes and hot dogs, and the like, although it may have sold beer, to, and directed itself at the 18-20 year old segment. For a couple of years it seemed to make money, too. While no truly legendary bands played the Drag'on, a few good groups appear to have played there, including the Beau Brummels and The Frantics (who evolved into Luminous Marsh Gas and then Moby Grape). The club's name (spelled Dragon) comes up in various chronologies of Bay Area rock.

The Liverpool Five were actually from England, though not from Liverpool, and had two albums on RCA in 1966 and 1967. They toured America pretty steadily and were apparently a pretty good live band. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, from which the above ad comes, the Liverpool Five engagement had started on January 17, and continued at least through February 26, so they must have been packing them in. Drag'on owner Lou Chin was quoted in the Chronicle as saying they had to turn people away, and while that may be hyperbole, they would not have been extended for nothing.

I do not know how long the Drag'on A' Go-Go lasted, but I doubt it made it to 1968. Go-Go music  seemed pretty unhip to teenagers by '68, when they were listening to FM radio and going to the Fillmore and Avalon. In any case, Wentworth Alley (known as Salty Fish Alley in the early 20th century) was at a central location for restaurants, and it would have been a desirable place for many establishments, so once they stopped turning people away I assume it must have become another restaurant. I am unable to determine the current use of the building.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

150 Bleecker Street, New York, NY The Infinite Poster Company (1967)

The San Francisco underground rock scene that began at the Fillmore and The Avalon in 1966 had ramifications far beyond the scene itself. Like all underground phenomenons, its status as legend superseded its status as music. Many of the famous groups were legends before they had albums, and many of the albums were hardly hits, and with little or no FM radio can hardly have been widely heard. Yet young people all over the country had heard of the Fillmore and the Avalon, and it helped define 60s rock even for people who had never been there and hardly heard the music.

One of the reasons that the legend of the Fillmore spread so far was the ubiquity of the famous posters by Mouse and Kelly, Wes Wilson, Victor Moscoso and the rest of the fine San Francisco artists. Just one of those posters on a dormitory wall in a cold winter might act as a beacon to the entire floor, as they gathered in the room to amuse themselves in appropriately 60s fashion. Seeing known and unknown bands on posters, with wild colors and weird found art, and the promise of light shows and strange occurrences made San Francisco a place of promise and mystery.

It is not widely known today by non-collectors that the San Francisco rock posters had a distribution well beyond telephone poles and store windows in The City. This ad (from the September 9, 1967 Village Voice) for a store called The Infinite Poster Company, on 150 Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village (next door to the Cafe Au Go Go), includes the following offers
  • San Francicso Fillmore Auditorium (F Series 20 Different Posters 14 x 22 in full color [reg. $1.25] now 75 cents each
  • San Francisco Avalon Ballroom (T Series 20 Different Posters 14 x 20 in full color [reg $1.25], now 75 cents each
  • Cafe Au Go Go (60 cents)
  • L20 Mothers
  • L24 Blues Project
  • L30 Dave Van Ronk
  • L33 Gordon Lightfoot
  • L34 Grateful Dead
  • L38 Butterfield Blues Band

The store also sold numerous travel, auto racing and other posters. While the Avalon and Fillmore posters were reprints, and not originals, and thus worth less today from a collectable point of view, from the point of view of someone at SUNY Binghamton buying a poster for his dorm room, they would have looked just as good.

The history of the Filmore and Avalon posters is well known amongst those who collect and analyze such items. Ross has found the history of the Avalon reprints on-line, for those interested in the exact history.

The Cafe Au Go Go posters are less known, at least to me. The Grateful Dead poster is accessible on-line. Interestingly, the dates are actually wrong, as the poster has the band playing June 1-10, when in fact it was June 1-11. This has been discussed at length elsewhere, so it leaves open to speculation why the poster was incorrect. One possibility is that the Cafe Au Go Go posters listed in the ad were made up after the fact to commemorate famous groups that had played the Au Go Go. Certainly, given the numbering system in the ad, it shares nothing with the chronology of shows at the club (I have an exact and complete list). Also, the known poster has no information about show times, the club address or anything else, not typical of posters used to advertise real events.

This is just speculation on my part, but while this ad shows at the minimum that underground rock artifacts were already commodities, it may be that as early as 1967 venues were making up mementos of recently past events in order to have something to commodify.  Now, of course, commemorative posters are a common business, but I had no inkling that it may have started this early.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Convocation Center, Ohio University, Athens, OH May 19, 1969 Junior Prom Jose Feliciano/Led Zeppelin

This event is well documented in the history of Led Zeppelin, but its still striking to come across the article. In the 1960s, most American colleges and Universities had substantial budgets for student entertainment, and major entertainers performed regularly. Outside of the two coasts, many schools still had "Prom" dances, just like High School. Ohio University in Athens, OH is a major public University, so their Junior Class dance would have been a fairly large event. The headline in the April 29, 1969 edition of the local Athens Messenger says "Jose Feliciano Heads OU's J-Prom Concert." The first paragraph cheerily begins
The 1969 J-Prom Concert at Ohio University will feature singer-guitarist Jose Feliciano and Led Zeppelin, a British rock group.
Jose Feliciano was a popular artist, in what today would be called a "crossover" style. He was popular in Las Vegas type places, but he also had some radio hits, including a sort of Brazilian version of The Doors "Light My Fire." He would have appealed to a broad swath of the Midwestern student body, talented enough for the hipsters, but catchy enough for everyone else.

This show was probably booked in March or so, if not earlier, and Led Zeppelin's first album was only released in January 1969. The thinking of the booking agent was probably to have an enjoyable artist for everyone, supported by someone a bit louder for the hip kids. Led Zeppelin was booked as an opening act on most dates of their first American tour from December 68 through May 69, and this was no exception. There were various English bands touring around America at the time, trying to build an audience: Ten Years After, Family, The Nice, John Mayall, Savoy Brown and so on. Some made it, and some didn't.

None of them were Led Zeppelin however. Its well worth a read of the concert memories on the Zep concert site. By May, everyone had memorized the first Zeppelin album, and they charged the stage while Zeppelin showed everyone that the first album was just a taste of the metal madness that awaited. They blew everyone's brains out, and much of the crowd simply split, leaving Jose Feliciano to play to a half-empty hall.

I've got to think 1970's Junior Prom Concert was kind of a letdown.

(oh yes: Has The Monster Returned? refers to the so-called Mason County Monster, supposedly a giant bird that ate pets. Its not a Led Zeppelin reference, but perhaps it ought to be)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

26220 Moody Road, Los Altos, CA Adobe Creek Lodge June 24-25, 1967 Sopwith Camel/The Wildflower

This tantalizing poster has piqued my curiosity over the years, mainly as a talisman of what might have been. The venue site was remarkable, and the South Bay was ripe in 1967 for a viable venue, and the superior weather of the South Bay would have made an outdoor venue appealing indeed. All my research came up dry, however. Eventually, I discovered that "Sopwith Camel Productions" was the business identity of Camel manager Yuri Toporov. A Fremont band called The Wakefield Loop, about whom I have written extensively, were also Toporov clients, and according to some band members the Camel were on the verge of splitting with Toporov around this time, so I think this show never actually occurred. Since The Wildflower don't recall it either, I think its simply a case of what might have been.

Nonetheless, the venue site was very intriguing. The South Bay in the 1960s featured prosperous suburbs, but prior to Silicon Valley it was not a gold mine, so there were plenty of unused land in the hills behind the various towns. Initially just a Summer Resort, Los Altos is just Southwest of Palo Alto, and the town had only incorporated in 1952, primarily to prevent annexation from larger towns. Foothill Junior College (birthplace of The Chocolate Watch Band) had opened its new campus in 1961, but the town was still undefined in the mid-1960s.

The Adobe Creek Lodge, at 26220 Moody Road, had originally been built as the summer estate for San Francisco industrialist Milton Haas in 1934. The Lodge was located above what is now Foothill College (El Monte Road turns into Moody Road), and even today is quite a rugged, inaccessible area. It included not only a substantial mansion but cottages for the 27 servants in residence. In the 1940s and 50s, the Lodge became a commercial resort, with a restaurant and summer camp. It was a place to “see and be seen” in the wealthy South Bay hills. Big Band stalwarts like Harry James and Jimmy Dorsey performed under the stars on the grounds, and major corporations sponsored huge corporate picnics for thousands of employees.

By the 1960s, the Lodge had become The Los Altos Hills Country Club, and at its peak in the late 60s the club had 1,000 memberships. Many South Bay “society” events featured local rock bands (the Dead played Bob Weir’s sister’s Debutante Ball, for example), often alternating with a big band for the older members, so rock groups were not unknown in Peninsula Society. Nonetheless, the June, 1967 event, which advertises “To The Woods: Dancing Amongst The Trees, Grass and Colored Lights and Moons” appears to be a fully commercial event.

The weekend of June 24-25, 1967 was the week after the Monterey Pop Festival, and it featured many great rock shows all over the Bay Area (Jimi Hendrix and Jefferson Airplane at the Fillmore and the 13th Floor Elevators at The Avalon among the most prominent) and—quite a rarity—direct competition in Palo Alto itself. The Palo Alto Be-In was on Saturday,  and Country Joe and The Fish had just played at Gunn High School (on Thursday June 23)  just a few miles down from Foothill. Whether the show was canceled due to weak ticket sales or because of a dispute between Sopwith Camel and their manager isn't clear, but in either case the result seems the same. No one recalls the event because it probably didn't occur.

The Adobe Creek Lodge show appears to have been lost in the shuffle, and a fascinating potential rock venue was never used again. The city of Los Altos Hills ended up taking over the property in the late 1970s, and eventually the mansion and many of the grounds were incorporated into a private residence.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

3626 Doniphan, El Paso, TX The Kingsmen Lounge May 9-10, 1969 Deep Green

Cultural information did not travel as quickly in days of yore as it does now. The famous Humbead's Map Of The World, which suggested that Berkeley, CA and Cambridge, MA were right next door to each other, was not so far wrong. Anyone not in that nexus got their information a little bit later.

This ad is from the El Paso Herald-Post of Friday, May 9, 1969, advertises the Deep Green at the Kingsmen Lounge. They are described as "fabulous" exponents of "The San Francisco Steppenwolf Sound." It is easy to look at this from the perspective of San Francisco or Chicago and chuckle at the naivete of local rubes who didn't realize that Steppenwolf were a bunch of Canadians who lived in Los Angeles, who only had a peripheral connection to the so-called "San Francisco Sound," which in any case was some years prior when the band was called The Sparrow.

El Paso wasn't a place for hippies, and the Deep Green were probably the most hip guys in town, with all the latest records and hot licks to boot (Texas doesn't take kindly to second rate musicians in any genre). Its not their fault that the club they played at needed to push the latest California band to make them sound cool. They probably played a smoking version of "Don't Step On The Grass, Sam," which was pretty dangerous stuff for 1960s Texas.

The location of the venue at 3626 Doniphan Drive (at the intersection of Racetrack Dr), is just between Interstate 10 and the Texas-New Mexico border. At the same time, it is just about two miles from the Mexican border, near Jaurez. At the time, it was probably a hopping joint. According to the Google Satellite photo, no buildings are currently visible at the site.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

"Where Its At" TV show, Vancouver, BC late 1960s

All of the interesting rock scenes of the 1960s were fundamentally underground scenes. While some of the more famous groups ultimately had substantial recording careers, the initial scenes all stemmed from word of mouth, as a few hipsters would see a local band, and in turn tell a few of their friends, and the word would pass from person to person. Bands were only popular in their local scenes, because they had no recorded output and they were never heard on the radio. The famous psychedelic posters (of varying artistic qualities) would appear on local telephone poles, perhaps spreading a name around town, but even well-known San Francisco bands like Quicksilver Messenger Service were just a rumor to each person until they saw them in person. By the 1970s, DIY cassettes were a feature of underground scenes (like Punk), but in the 60s bands had to survive on reputation alone. If you couldn't find out where a show was, and go down and see it yourself, you had no way of knowing what a group sounded like, much less if they were any good. Every 60s scene had various legendary local bands, which all but a few people ever heard in their nascent form.

There was one startling exception to the history of psychedelic music: Vancouver, British Columbia. Vancouver was an important part of the West Coast "Circuit" of psychedelic ballrooms, from the Cheetah and the Kaleidoscope in Southern California, to the Fillmore and Avalon in San Francisco, the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, to Eagles Auditorium in Seattle and finally to the Retinal Circus in Vancouver, along with many smaller or temporary venues in every city. The recorded history of all the Vancouver bands was very minimal, just a few singles for the most part. The welcome explosion of archival releases has meant that many of the Retinal Circus bands have released cds featuring some of their 60s work, usually live or demos: groups like the United Empire Loyalists, My Indole Ring, Papa Bear's Medicine Show and Mock Duck can now be heard by modern audiences. Yet the burst of archival releases is not what set the Vancouver scene apart from the rest of the West Coast.

Throughout 1967 and 1968, once a week, initially on Fridays and later on Wednesdays, at 5:30 pm the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation had a half-hour show called Where Its At, and every Vancouver psychedelic band appeared on the show many times. The show was broadcast across the country, so every single Canadian teenager who wanted to hear Vancouver underground bands simply tuned in Fridays at 5:30. None of these groups had recording contracts initially, and few of them released albums in their bands lifetimes, yet each of them appeared many times on National TV.

The clipping above is from Alberta's  Lethbridge Herald on Wednesday June 26, 1968: we can see that Tom Northcutt, My Indole Ring, The Collectors, The Poppy Family, Papa Bear's Medicine Show, The Northwest Company, Wiggy Symphony and Jason Hoover and The Epics, just about all of them underground Vancouver psychedelic bands, were playing on that night's episode. Although the shows were videotaped, the performances were live. The "house band" had been a group called The Classics, who evolved into The Collectors (and later Chilliwack) and they provided backing for any solo performers like Tom Northcutt. At this time, to my knowledge only Northcutt had an album and a Canadian hit (a cover of a Donovan song called "Sunny Goodge Street"). The rest were simply local bands. As far as I know, this was a typical episode.

Most of my information about this startling feature of Canadian music comes from a 2005 Guess Who cd called Lets Go. Where Its At was actually part of a nightly CBC series called Music Hop, had begun during the British Invasion in the mid-1960s, and which broadcast from a different region of Canada each night. By 1967, the lineup looked like this:

Mondays-Halifax, Nova Scotia Frank's Bandstand
Tuesdays-Montreal, Quebec
Wednesdays-Toronto, Ontario
Thursdays-Winnipeg, Manitoba Let's Go
Fridays-Vancouver, British Columbia Where Its At

All sorts of Canadian figures appeared on the shows. The Guess Who were the house band at Winnipeg's Thursday night feature, playing hits of the day, backing visiting singers and playing their own material (the basis of the cd). Anne Murray was a regular in Halifax, Alex Trebek had been the original host in Toronto, and so on: every figure in Canadian rock seems to have appeared on TV at 5:30, some of them numerous times. Seemingly every underground Vancouver band was on TV constantly, playing just a song or two perhaps, but nonetheless it insured that Vancouver teenagers knew what they were getting if they went to the Retinal Circus or anywhere else. Would that American underground scenes (then or now) would have such support, although it does cause me to rethink my definition of "underground" somewhat.

A diligent historian could go through the TV listings for Canada throughout 1967 and 1968 and document the appearance dates of every Vancouver psychedelic band. It won't be me, however. According to John Einarson's excellent liner notes on the Lets Go album, while a producer saved copies of the Music Hop shows with the Guess Who from 1967 and 1968, in general all copies of all shows were taped over by the CBC. This was standard television practice at the time, as videotape was expensive and bulky, and in any case who cared about recordings of soon-to-be-forgotten longhairs?

I can't bring myself to document a whole history of fascinating shows that I know have been lost. Nonetheless it is just one of many fascinating aspects of the Vancouver scene that most of the obscure bands whose names are on Retinal Circus posters performed live on Canadian Television, some many times. Fans of the music of other regions no doubt would be just as fascinated by the different performers of other regions, but save for some of the Music Hop shows in 67-68, they too are lost. Nothing would make me happier to find that some of them survived in some form, but I think that is too much to hope for.

Sic Transit Gloria Psychedelia, as the Romans would say.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Firehouse, 3767 Sacramento Street, San Francisco, CA

Located north of the Haight-Ashbury district on Sacramento Street and the home of number 10 fire truck and number 26 fire engine from 1910 to 1956, the Firehouse was operated as a concert venue for an all too short period of time in the early spring of 1966.
The building was owned by George Eby and his dog Potpan and had been known as the Theater for the World prior to The Firehouse. Eby and Potpan let the upper floor for rehearsals to the newly formed Sopwith Camel who were breaking in new bass player Martin Beard. The Firehouse was notable for showcasing a number of local bands in addition to the Sopwith Camel and for featuring some of the very first light shows to be performed in the city.

12 February 1966: The Amazing Charlatans, Sopwith Camel
Advertised as Lincoln's Birthday Party. After a month of rehearsals and much of the time living in the Firehouse, the Sopwith Camel made their debut performance backing The Charlatans for the Lincoln's birthday bash. Entry was a mere $2 donation and shows were from 9 to whenever. The Charlatans had already established their place in history following their six week run at the red Dog Saloon in Virginia City the previous summer. By the time of this show, the Charlatans’ set was beginning to come together and they had put a failed Autumn Records audition behind them as they prepared to sign with Kama Sutra Records.

19 February 1966: The Wildflower, Sopwith Camel
It was from the handbill that advertised this show that we know that the Firehouse was once the home of number 10 fire truck and number 26 fire engine. For this evening’s events the Sopwith Camel are joined by The Wildflower in the first of their three performances at the Firehouse. In late 1965, The Wildflower began at California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland with Stephen Ehret on rhythm guitar, Tom Ellis on drums, John Jennings on bass, Teddy Schneider played percussion, Lee Chandler played guitar and the whole band sang. Stephen wrote the songs for the band and also collaborated with poets, Michael McClure and Michael McCausland. Lee Chandler soon left, probably around the time of this show, to pursue an acting career and Michael Brown joined on lead guitar. The band was soon playing venues all around the Bay Area and has recently released the album that should have hoisted them to fame in the 1960s.

26 February 1966:
I have never been able to find any record of a show taking place on February 26.

05 March 1966: Jesse Fuller One Man Band, The Amazing Charlatans, The Wildflower
Most of the shows were advertised by large format handbills, each containing humorous notations, such as the March 5 handbill which entices attendees by promising Sensual Titillations and Mind Diddlers with the extra added attraction of the Lately Painted Lady. March 5 sees the return of Firehouse Jesse Fuller who was playing regularly in the Bay Area coffee shops and clubs. A week before Fuller’s seventieth birthday, he crossed the bridge from his Oakland home and brought his fotdella and unique style of San Francisco Bay Blues to the Firehouse.

12 March 1966: The Charlatans, Sopwith Camel, Duncans Blue Boy and His Cosmic Yo-YoBy all accounts the Alligator Clip welcome all heads of state for this show. The Charlatans and the Sopwith Camel return, but the intriguing thing about the boxing style handbill is the third act on the bill – Duncans Blue Boy and His Cosmic Yo-Yo (I know there is a missing apostrophe by the way). Anyway – the only known show by Duncans Blue Boy – was it a briefly used name of another band, was it a joke? I don't know.

19 March 1966: Big Brother and the Holding Company, A Moving Violation, Movies Projections by Elias Romero, Assorted Effects by Ray Andersen
Big Brother and the Holding Company need no introduction here – they had been playing regularly for a couple of months and had established themselves at the Fillmore and Matrix. Jim Gurley, Sam Andrew and Peter Albin had just been joined by drummer Dave Getz. The arrival of Janis Joplin was still three months away although there is a chance that this was one of the performances where Ed Bogas joined the band on violin. I know nothing of A Moving Violation, but the poster is annotated a discover in Movement and Light For Them and you and us which leads me to believe that they were possibly a dance troupe accompanying the in house light show – a multi-media extravaganza so to speak. The light shows at the Firehouse featured Elias Romero and Ray Andersen (who was also the manager of The Matrix at the time). Although he never went on to work the ballrooms, Romero was a long-time light artist with his own distinct approach utilising a unique, all-liquid show. Andersen went on to form the Holy See Light Show and to feature prominently at San Francisco ballrooms, such as the Fillmore. Since the late 1990s, Andersen has run Grooves Vinyl Attractions on Market Street in San Francisco.

26 March 1966: The Outfit, Great Society
The Outfit were formed in San Francisco during late 1965 as the Four Letter Outfit and the line-up at the time of this show, which is perhaps their first, included Johnny Ciambotti, Steve Bonuccelli, Cousin Robert Ressner and a female guitarist called Judy playing her only show. The group played regularly at Bay Area venues through 1966 despite several changes in personnel. They would go on to become part of the tangled staory that is the overlapping history of The Outfit, The Tiny Hearing Aid Company, The Flying Circus and Clover. I have plans for a family tree at some point. Support acts for this show remain unknown.

02 April 1966: The Wildflower, Ale Extrom and His Conceptina, Movies [Final Show]
Seven shows had been held each Saturday through to April 2, 1966 when The Firehouse presented The Wildflower supported by Ale Extrom and His Conceptina at The Wreckers Ball. Advertised as For our parting event, we present ... see this grand old firehouse in its last days before it becomes a parking lot …. Ale Extrom was a purveyor of sea shanties and had appeared at the Jabberwock and Cedar Alley Coffee House. Ale remains a water-bound neighbor of Wildflower member Stephen Ehret to this day.

Sadly George Eby's dog Potpan is no longer with us.

Friday, November 20, 2009

4742 Mission Blvd, San Francisco The Rock Garden 1967 Sunday Dinner Shows

This intriguing clipping from the entertainment column in the San Mateo Times of December 8, 1967, has the following intriguing quote
Making a big hit with the early Sunday evening dancing crowd is the special $1.25 dinner at the Rock Garden on Mission near Ocean Avenue, in San Francisco.  The dinner and dancing to the great Tracy Brothers combo begins at 6 p.m., with minors welcome. Talent auditions for recording contracts are another popular Sunday Rock Garden feature
Although the location is not precise, this is almost certainly the same Rock Garden that was briefly a psychedelic rock venue for several weeks in March and April 1967, featuring Big Brother, The Grateful Dead and the Buffalo Springfield, among others. An April show featuring Country Joe and The Fish seems to have been canceled, and nothing surfaced afterwards about the club. Further research revealed that it turned into a club called The Ghetto, featuring Soul and Latin music, and that it was a foundational venue for the Latin Rock explosion in San Francisco that culminated with Santana and Malo breaking out onto the National scene.

When I wrote about the venue earlier, I made the point that when a Use Permit is in force, its easier for a promoter to use an existing entertainment venue rather than create a new one. Whoever the owners or promoters behind the original Rock Garden might have been, the club seems to have had a post-psychedelic period before it became The Ghetto. The Tracy Brothers are unknown to me--I wonder if anyone got a recording contract from the auditions? I am still searching for who might have been performing at The Rock Garden on nights other than Sunday.

While the San Mateo Times was a suburban newspaper, the Rock Garden was more accessible to much of the South Bay suburbs than it was to downtown San Francisco. The South Bay's main "strip," El Camino Real, turned into Mission Boulevard in San Francisco. A South Bay resident could drive up El Camino to Mission without having to go over the substantial hills between the Excelsior District and Downtown, so it makes sense that the interregnum Rock Garden was aiming for a suburban appeal.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

2850 19th Avenue, San Francisco, CA September 10, 1966 The Mothers/Oxford Circle

The Scottish Rites (Masonic) Temple at 2850 19th Avenue in San Francisco is the least known of all Bill Graham's 1960s San Francisco venues. It was only used once for a rock concert, to my knowledge, and I know nothing about the event itself. Nonetheless this building is always forgotten in chronicles of the 1960s in San Francisco, so I thought I would address what little is known about it.

Bill Graham's famous Fillmore Auditorium on 1805 Geary Blvd (at Fillmore Street) was next door to a Synagogue. I have written about the peculiar place in rock history of Temple Beth Israel (at 1839 Geary Blvd) elsewhere. Suffice to say, Bill Graham faced various political problems with his new underground rock venture, and one of them was a rabbi who was not sympathetic to Graham's desire to have weekly rock concerts. Honoring the concerns of his neighbors, Graham moved two Saturday night concerts in 1966. The April 16, 1966 show with the Jefferson Airplane and Butterfield Blues Band was moved to Harmon Gym at UC Berkeley, while the Friday and Sunday shows remained at the Fillmore. Similarly, on the weekend of September 9 and 10 in 1966, with a bill of The Mothers and Oxford Circle, Graham moved the bill across town on Saturday (September 10) to the Scottish Rites Temple at 2850 19th Avenue, near Sloat Boulevard and Stern Grove.

19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard is very far from the Fillmore District, almost as far from the Fillmore as one could get and remain in San Francisco. For those familiar with San Francisco geography, it is near Stern Grove and San Francisco State University, between the Sunset District and West Portal. This interesting experiment was not repeated, suggesting that it was not a worthwhile location for a rock performance at the time. While San Francisco State had many rock fans, many of the hippest ones lived in the Haight Ashbury, so they were nearer the Fillmore than the College. No record survives of the show itself, whether as a tape, a review or an eyewitness account.

The Concert
By September of 1966 The Mothers had released their groundbreaking debut album Freak Out. However, it was their nervous record company (MGM) that had added "Of Invention" to their name. The group had been playing the San Francisco Bay Area with some regularity since late 1965, and they were known by their original name, The Mothers, which is how they were billed on the poster (BG27).

It is difficult to determine for certain the membership of the Mothers for these shows, as the band’s personnel was in flux.  The poster shows 7 people, but the poster probably came from a Verve promo photo and some of them aren't even band members, so it doesn't really represent anything about the band's lineup.  I am reliably informed that the Mothers at this time were Zappa and Elliot Ingbar on guitars, Ray Collins on vocals, Roy Estrada on bass and Billy Mundi and Jimmy Carl Black (The Indian of the group) both on drums. While the other members had been on Freak Out, Mundi had recently joined, having recently played as part of a group called Mastin And Brewer (featuring Michael Brewer, later of Brewer and Shipley) and then briefly in Lamp Of Childhood.

The Oxford Circle, the most exciting band in Davis, CA at the time, were a hard rocking quartet styled on the Yardbirds. Although the band released very little during its existence, 1997 saw the release of a great live cd recorded around this time (Live At The Avalon Ballroom 1966, on Big Beat), so we know how they sounded. Members of Oxford Circle went on to join Blue Cheer and Kak, among other groups.

The Venue
It is difficult to find out much about the venue. It does appear that the venue is still there. I suspect it is unlikely that a new building has replace the old one, but it is plain that the auditorium itself has been remodeled in the intervening years. It does appear that the capacity was smaller than the Fillmore Auditorium, though not by that much. The Free Masons have a long history in California, dating back to the mid-19th century, but that is well outside the scope of the blog here.

It does appear that the Scottish Rites Temple at 19th and Sloat was a much more recent building than other Masonic Temples in San Francisco. There were Masonic Temples right next to both the Fillmore and The Avalon--conspiracy theorists take note--but both of them (at 1859 Geary, dating to the 19th century, near the Fillmore, and 1300 Sutter, next to the Avalon) had long since been devoted to other uses by the 1960s. There was also a Masonic Auditorium on Nob Hill (at 1111 California) but that was a large (3200 capacity) and fairly conventional theater.

The building appears to be in active use today, and the auditorium remains available for rental.

1839 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA July 29-30, 1977 Theatre 1839 Jerry Garcia Band

Most scholarly Deadheads are aware that the Jerry Garcia Band played two shows at Theatre 1839 in San Francisco on July 29 and 30, 1977, not least because a fine double-cd set was released from those shows. I attended the second show on July 30, and it was a truly wonderful performance in an inspiring venue. I was sorry that Jerry never played there again. It was only later when I found out some of the interesting historical aspects of the building, and I thought I would pass those on.

There were three significant buildings on the South (odd numbered) 1800 block of Geary Boulevard. The most famous to rock fans is of course the Fillmore Auditorium at 1805 Geary, on the corner of Fillmore and Geary, built in 1912 (as The Majestic Hall and Dancing Academy) and still operating today. Next door was the former site of the synagogue for Temple Beth Israel, an early Jewish congregation in San Francisco, founded around 1860, which began constructing its fifth building at 1839 Geary in 1905, although its completion was interrupted by the April 1906 earthquake .  Next to the synagogue was the Scottish Rites (Masonic) Temple Building, known as the Alfred Pike Memorial Temple, at 1859 Geary, which dated back to the 19th century. A remarkable photo exists from right after the 1906 San Francisco  earthquake, showing a damaged Beth Israel synagogue and the equally damaged Masonic Temple, with an empty lot where the future Fillmore would be built a few years later. Although there were a number of different addresses on the block, these three buildings were the main structures on the block until the 1980s.

I have written an extensive post about The Geary Temple (1859 Geary) elsewhere, but 1839 Geary deserves some attention of its own.  A striking photograph from 1964 of Temple Beth Israel can be seen at the San Francisco Public Library site. The edge of the Fillmore Auditorium is visible just to the left (East) of the building. It is a striking and beautiful building, which in 1964 would have been 58 years old (it was completed in 1906, after the earthquake). In 1964 the Fillmore Auditorium, after some time as a roller skating rink, had become an important venue for African-American music, promoted by Charles Sullivan, who was one of the principal promoters of black music on the West Coast.

When Charles Sullivan retired at the end of 1965, after renting the facility a few times, Bill Graham took over the lease of the Fillmore Auditorium, starting on February 1, 1966. The venue was an immediate success, but Graham was not without troubles. In particular, he had particular difficulty with the status of his "Dance Hall Permit," a left over bit of bureaucracy from the post-Prohibition era. While initially Graham had used Sullivan's license, he had considerable trouble procuring a license from the City of San Francisco, and at one point was even arrested. This made Graham particularly susceptible to challenges from the community.

Apparently the rabbi at Temple Beth Israel was not a fan of Graham's use of the Fillmore (whether he appreciated Sullivan's promotions is unknown). Graham took a bitter relish in relaying the story of how the rabbi accused him of not knowing the suffering of the Jews, in response to which Graham pulled up his sleeve and showed the rabbi the number the Nazis had tattooed on his arm as a child (I heard Graham tell this story in person at a lecture in 1976, and he was still angry at the rabbi). Twice in 1966, Graham moved events at the Fillmore to other venues to accommodate Jewish religious celebrations: on April 16, 1966 the Jefferson Airplane/Butterfield Blues Band show was moved from the Fillmore to Harmon Gym at UC Berkeley, and on September 10, 1966 the Mothers Of Invention/Oxford Circle show was moved to the Scottish Rites Temple across town (at 2850 19th Avenue and Sloat Blvd).

Graham eventually received a Dance Hall Permit, and apparently by 1967 conflicts with the neighboring Synagogue were no longer an issue. Whether Graham was no longer concerned with political pressure, whether he moved key dates to Winterland or there was some other solution is not clear to me (I have not been able to determine which would have been the relevant dates in 1967). In any case, Graham was so successful he looked to move out of the Fillmore to the Fillmore West, and by mid-summer 1968 Graham had moved to Market and Van Ness.

Temple Beth Israel was on the move as well, as its Congregation merged with another Congregation, becoming Congregation Beth Israel-Judea in 1969. The Congregation moved to 625 Brotherhood Way in San Francisco, where it remains today. The Temple at 1839 Geary seems to have been temporarily used for other functions and then sold around 1971, as near as I can tell. The building's history from 1971 to 1977 is obscure to me.

Theatre 1839
Ads for the shows above abruptly appeared in 1977. The promoters were unknown to me. Older folks must have recognized the building, but all I knew at the time was that it was near Winterland (at Post and Steiner), then the principal rock and roll concert venue in the Bay Area. I knew the Fillmore Auditorium had been somewhere around there, but when we went to see Jerry Garcia (hi Geoff) at Theatre 1839, we had no idea that the fully intact Fillmore was right next door. Although the venue had "festival seating" for the most part, probably different than its synagogue functions, the elegant ceilings and decorations were intact, and it was not only a beautiful building but beautiful sounding as well.

The Garcia Band show on July 30, 1977 was fantastic, and when I later acquired tapes of that night and the night before I learned that I had not imagined it. The Hot Tuna show on August 5 was used for the 1978 Hot Tuna live album Double Dose, so all the shows at Theatre 1839 were turned into live albums. I talked to someone who went to the Hot Tuna show, and he confirmed my feeling that it was a wonderful venue.Whatever the finances behind the Theatre, however, it was not used for another show in that incarnation, and more's the pity for that.

Right next door, however, was the converted Alfred Pike Memorial Scottish Rites Temple, which by this time was the headquarters of Jim Jones's infamous Peoples Temple. Jones and his followers left for Jonestown, Guyana and their tragic mass suicide took place on November 18, 1978. While Theatre 1839 was not directly connected to those events, it did add to the strange mojo of the block.

Temple Beautiful
Theatre 1839 did arise as a performance venue, however, known as Temple Beautiful in early 1979 and hosting a number of punk rock shows. The Clash in particular played a warmly remembered gig there, as well as many more local bands. While this is outside the scope of this blog, it is worth noting that once a Use Permit has been defined, venues are more likely to remain in use. Once again, I do not know the finances behind the concerts, nor why the building stopped being used for music after about 1980. At some point the building became "The Duquette Pavilion," hosting the work of artist Anthony Duquette.

The Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 damaged the Fillmore Auditorium, Temple Beautiful (1839) and the former People's Temple (1859), and all the buildings were damaged by fire. The Fillmore was fully refurbished, but the two other buildings were torn down. After some time as vacant lots, the 1859 Geary address is now a newly constructed Post Office, and I do not know the fate of the lot at 1839.

Cross posted at Lost Live Dead

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Springhill Road, Lafayette, CA July 22, 1967: Casa Loma Swim Club "Fantastic Flight Of The Mystic Balloon"

(update: some photos turned up that appear to be from this show)

The Summer of 1967 in the Bay Area offered a peculiar paradox for aspiring rock promoters. On one hand, it was plain to anyone who wasn't completely deaf and blind that the San Francisco rock scene was the coolest thing happening in the country. On top of that, not only were there numerous Bay Area bands, musicians were flocking from all over to start or join bands, and there weren't enough gigs at the Fillmore and the Avalon to go around. As for the audiences, kids outside of San Francisco, Berkeley and San Jose were dying to see happening rock shows, as many as they could. The only problem in the way was the absence of suitable rock venues, and the resentment and suspicion with which hippies and their music were greeted by the so-called "older generation."

This article from the July 26, 1967 edition of the Oakland Tribune describes a long-forgotten, ambitious and somewhat unsuccessful event, the "Fantastic Flight of The Mystic Balloon," a planned 12-hour Happening with a dozen bands, outdoors at the private Casa Loma Swim Club in suburban Lafayette, just over the hill from Berkeley. While Lafayette today is a somewhat upscale suburb, in the 1960s it was considerably emptier and less wealthy (though hardly poor). On the other hand, the community had more of a small town sensibility than that of a town full of urban commuters. According to the article, producer Eric Town expected to draw 6000 people (at $3 a head) to his extravaganza, to see the following bands:

Country Joe and The Fish/Steve Miller Blues Band/New Salvation Army Band/Roger Collins/Majestic Sound/Don Holland/Clark Miller Trio/Maggie’s Farm/The Virtues/Blue Union/Frumious Bandersnatch/Opus Three

The Casa Loma Swim Club had six open acres land at the deadend of Springhill Road. However, according to article, a residential group, the Springhill Improvement Association, voted to encourage District Attorney John Nejedly in declaring the promoter and the bands a "Public Nuisance," alleging a violation of zoning ordinances. A judge filed a temporary injunction,  but the show went on as planned. Nonetheless, according to the promoter, the show was "ruined," and only six of the twelve scheduled bands performed. The District Attorney and the homeowners prevailed in preventing a follow up event the next Saturday (July 29).

While complaints were alleged about excessive noise--probably with some justification--the principal issue seemed to be the threat of the "hippie element." The paper interviews one homeowner--

Alan Stanley, 33, a county engineer who lives near the club at 1200 Martino Road, said the residents were not concerned about hippies attracted to the music, but were concerned about safety.
He conceded some residents were "jumping up and down" about the hippie element. He said there were "an awful lot of psuedo-hippies, you know, kids who were trying to act like hippies." He said only about ten percent of the crowd could be considered hippies.

Its hard to parse these comments without feeling that the homeowner was trying awfully hard to find a way to explain that he feared hippies near his property, like they were some sort of species of marauding wildlife, but everyone is free to draw their own conclusions. In any case, the next weekend's shows were canceled, and Lafayette returned to its quiet sylvan state. I could find no trace of the Casa Loma Swim Club on the satellite map.

Notes On The Bands
Country Joe and The Fish were Berkeley's leading rock band. At this time, they had released their successful first album Electric Music For The Mind And Body (Vanguard) and were regular Fillmore and Avalon headliners.
Steve Miller Blues Band were a popular local group, but a year away from their first album. Steve Miller had come from Madison (via Chicago) and imported friends from there in order to start his band. At this time, Boz Scaggs was about to join the group, or may have already, as original guitarist Curly Cook had fallen ill.
New Salvation Army were a San Francisco band. They released two albums under the name Salvation, as the actual Salvation Army objected to their name.
Roger Collins was an East Bay soul singer who had some minor local hits.
Majestic Sound are unknown to me
Don Holland was a popular lounge act, probably in an R&B style. They may have backed Collins.
Clark Miller Trio are unknown to me.
Maggie's Farm appear to have been a Pleasant Hill garage band. At some point they had a keyboard player from Berkeley (Mark Batterman, formerly of Haymarket Riot), but they seem to have been a Contra Costa band.
The Virtues featured guitarist Greg Douglas (who co-wrote "Jungle Love" for Steve Miller many years later). This group evolved into Country Weather.
Blue Union are unknown to me.
Frumious Bandersnatch arose from a band called All Night Flight, founded at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill. This was the first lineup, featuring drummer/vocalist Jack King, guitarists George Tickner and Brett Wilmot, bassist Brian Hough and singer Kaja Doria. This lineup broke up after their equipment was stolen in late 1967 from an Oakland warehouse. King reformed the group in 1968 and went on to play with Steve Miller in the 1970s. Tickner was a founding member of Journey, and is now apparently a doctor.
Opus Three are unknown to me.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

316 Congress Avenue, Austin, TX: Vulcan Gas Company Performance List 1969 (Austin III)

The Vulcan Gas Company was the most memorable psychedelic venue in Austin, Texas. Texas and particularly Austin has a rich rock history, featuring rock bands with light shows in late 1965, contemporary to events in San Francisco. The history of the Vulcan Gas Company is not hard to retrieve, and the posters are very nice and eminently collectible. Nonetheless, from the very narrow perspective of rock prosopography, there is no list of concert performances at the Vulcan.

I am posting this list as an aid to prosopographical scholarship. I am not attempting to write another history of the Vulcan, as that seems to have been covered in various sources, just a list of concerts. I compiled this list almost exclusively from the posters. This means that some weekends may be missing, and other performances may be different than what was actually advertised. I have included events promoted by the Vulcan Gas Company itself even when other venues were used. Anyone with additional information or corrections please put it in the Comments or email me.

Part I-1967

Part II-1968

Part III-1969

January 17-18, 1969   Big Joe Williams
All shows were at the Vulcan Gas Company venue at 316 Congress Avenue in Austin, TX unless otherwise noted.

January 30-31, February 1, 1969  John Lee Hooker/Shiva’s Head Band

February 21-22, 1969  The Fugs/Shiva’s Head Band

February 28-March 1, 1969   Texas

March 7-8, 1969 New Atlantis/Untouchables/Texas Rangers

March 14-15, 1969  Jimmy Reed/Onion Creek
 The calendar is very hard to read in the tiny reproduction.

March 21-22, 1969  Big Mama Thornton/New Atlantis

March 28-29, April 4-5, 1969  Mustangs/Georgetown Medical Band

April 11-12, 1969  Shiva’s Head Band/Sunnyland Special

April 18-19, 1969   Fred McDowell/Texas Rangers

April 25-26, 1969 Muddy Waters/Sunnyland Special

May 2-3, 1969 Shiva’s Head Band/Sherwood

May 8, 1969 Shiva’s Head Band/Sunnyland Special/Mustangs
 Benefit for the Vulcan Gas Company

May 9-10, 1969  Mance Lipscomb/Onion Creek

May 16-17, 1969 Georgetown Medical Band/Sherwood
 The poster says “If you toke, don’t tote,” a sign the venue was under significant pressure from the police.

May 23-24, 1969  Shiva’s Head Band/Texas Rangers

May 30-31, 1969  Big Joe Williams/Georgetown Medical Band

June 13-14-15, 1969 Texas/Fat Emma/Shiva’s Head Band

June 20-21, 1969  Shiva’s Head Band/Georgetown Medical Band/Ramon Ramon and The Daddy-O’s
To my knowledge, this was the last show at the Vulcan Gas Company at 316 Congress Avenue.

This completes my working list of shows at (or promoted by) Austin's Vulcan Gas Company. Anyone who can add additional dates or correct information about which bands played on which nights (as opposed to who might have been advertised) please Comment or email me.

316 Congress Avenue, Austin, TX: Vulcan Gas Company Performance List 1968 (Austin II)

The Vulcan Gas Company was the most memorable psychedelic venue in Austin, Texas. Texas and particularly Austin has a rich rock history, featuring rock bands with light shows in late 1965, contemporary to events in San Francisco. The history of the Vulcan Gas Company is not hard to retrieve, and the posters are very nice and eminently collectible. Nonetheless, from the very narrow perspective of rock prosopography, there is no list of concert performances at the Vulcan.

I am posting this list as an aid to prosopographical scholarship. I am not attempting to write another history of the Vulcan, as that seems to have been covered in various sources, just a list of concerts. I compiled this list almost exclusively from the posters. This means that some weekends may be missing, and other performances may be different than what was actually advertised. I have included events promoted by the Vulcan Gas Company itself even when other venues were used. Anyone with additional information or corrections please put it in the Comments or email me.

Part I-1967

Part II-1968

January 5-6, 1968  Lord August and The Visions of Life/Georgetown Medical Band
All shows were at The Vulcan Gas Company venue at 316 Congress Avenue in Austin, TX unless otherwise noted.

January 12-13, 1968  Shiva’s Head Band/The Lost and Found

(January 16, 23, 30 and February 6, 1968)  movies

January 19-20, 1968  Mance Lipscomb/Conqueroo

January 26-27, 1968  Shiva’s Head Band/Afro Caravan and the Strawberry Shoemaker

February 1-2-3, 9-10, 1968  Shiva’s Head Band/Conqueroo/Lost and Found/Georgetown Medical Band
 The tiny reproductions of the posters make it hard to tell exactly which groups play which shows on the two-weekend posters.

February 14, 1968   Conqueroo/Shiva’s Head Band

February 16, 1968   Texas & Pacific/New Atlantis/Shepherd’s Head/Good Humor
"Benefit for Oleo Strut, A Radical Coffeehouse for G.I.s at Fort Hood” (afternoon show?)

February 16-17, 23-24, 1968   Shiva’s Head Band/Conqueroo/Rubaiyat/Lightning Hopkins

February 22, 1968 Shiva’s Head Band/Conqueroo/Georgetown Medical Band
 “Bust Benefit Dance”

March 1-2, 8-9, 1968    Shiva’s Head Band/Big Joe Williams/Conqueroo/Rubayyat

March 10, 1968  Rubayyat/Austin Suburban Loan Co. 
 “Bust Benefit”

March 15-16, 22-23, 1968  Shiva’s Headband/Space American Eagle Squadron/Conqueroo/Lost and Found

March 29-30, April 4-5-6, 1968   Conqueroo/Bubble Puppy/Shiva’s Head Band/Blues Bag

April 12-13, 19-20, 1968   Shiva’s Head Band/Rubaiyat/Conqueroo/Sleepy John Estes

April 25, 1968  Angela Lewis and The Fabulous Rockets

April 26-27, May 3-4, 1968  Shiva’s Head Band/Bubble Puppy/Angela Lewis and The Fabulous Rockets/Wild Chicken

May 10-11, 1968  Shiva’s Head Band/Canned Heat/Conqueroo

May 13, 1968  Bubble Puppy

May 16, 1968    Conqueroo “Free Gig”

May 17-18, 24-25, 1968  Shiva’s Head Band/Zig Zag Quartet/Liquid Marble/Wild Chickens

May 19, 1968  Zilker Park, Austin, TX Shiva’s Head Band/Stone Axe/Angela Lewis 
 “Gathering of Ye Olde Tribe”
 The handbill, drawn by Gilbert Shelton, includes two of his Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.

May 24-25, 1968  Moby Grape/Shiva’s Head Band/Angela Lewis
 This conflicts with the previous poster.

May 31-June 1, 1968  Conqueroo/Bubble Puppy

June 21-22, 1968  Conqueroo/Bubble Puppy

June 27-28-29, 1968   Conqueroo/Bubble Puppy

July 5-6, 1968  Johnny Winter/Bubble Puppy

July 7, 1968   Conqueroo/Winter/Shiva’s Head Band
 Winter was Johnny Winter’s trio.

July 26-27, 1968  New Atlantis/Grits 

August 2-3, 1968   Muddy Waters/Winter

August 16, 1968 Winter/New Atlantis/Zackary Thacks/1948

August 29-30-31, 1968   Stacy and The 13th Floor Elevators/New Atlantis

September 6-7-8, 1968  Bubble Puppy/Zig-Zag Quartet

September 12-13-14, 1968  New Atlantis/Gritz

September 20-21, 1968  Winter/Endel St. Cloud

September 27-28, 1968   Big Joe Williams/Sky Blues

September 29, 1968 Woolridge Park, Austin, TX  New Atlantis/Lavender Hill Express
Although this was not a Vulcan Gas event, they appear to have some involvement. Vulcan Gas artist and Jim Franklin included his first Armadillo on the handbill, later to become legendary at his Armadillo World Headquarters in the 1970s.

October 10-11-12, 1968 New Atlantis/Winter

October 13, 1968 Theater For The Performing Arts, Hemisfair Arena, San Antonio, TX Steppenwolf/Johnny Winter/New Atlantis
 Not a Vulcan Gas event, but Vulcan Gas artist Gilbert Shelton did the poster.

October 17-18-19, 1968  Shiva’s Head Band/Winter

October 31, November 1-2, 1968   Shiva’s Head Band/Grits

November 8-9, 1968   Steve Miller Band/New Atlantis

November 14, 1968   Texas Pacific/Blues Bag  
“Bail Bund Benefit”
 Texas was a dangerous place for pot smokers in the 60s, as indicated by the number of benefits for raising bail.

November 15-16, 1968   Freddie King/Winter 

November 21, 1968 Theater For The Performing Arts, Hemisfair Arena, San Antonio, TX Big Brother and The Holding Company/Winter/Shiva's Headband 
A Vulcan Gas show at a theater in San Antonio. Janis Joplin would leave Big Brother shortly after this.

November 22-23, 1968 Mance Lipscomb/Shiva’s Head Band

November 28-29, 1968 The Children/New Atlantis

December 6-7, 1968  Shiva’s Head Band/Bubble Puppy

December 13-14, 1968  New Atlantis/Texas Pacific

December 20-21, 1968  Winter/New Atlantis

December 31, 1968   Shiva’s Head Band/Winter

Part III-1969

316 Congress Avenue, Austin, TX: Vulcan Gas Company Performance List 1967 (Austin I)

The Vulcan Gas Company was the most memorable psychedelic venue in Austin, Texas. Texas and particularly Austin has a rich rock history, featuring rock bands with light shows in late 1965, contemporary to events in San Francisco. The history of the Vulcan Gas Company is not hard to retrieve, and the posters are very nice and eminently collectible. Nonetheless, from the very narrow perspective of rock prosopography, there is no list of concert performances at the Vulcan.

I am posting this list as an aid to prosopographical scholarship. I am not attempting to write another history of the Vulcan, as that seems to have been covered in various sources, just a list of concerts. I compiled this list almost exclusively from the posters. This means that some weekends may be missing, and other performances may be different than what was actually advertised. I have included events promoted by the Vulcan Gas Company itself even when other venues were used. Anyone with additional information or corrections please put it in the Comments or email me.

Part I-1967

January 7, 1967  Doris Miller Auditorium, Austin, TX 13th Floor Elevators/Conqueroo/Jomo 
Electric Grandmother Presents
Electric Grandmother was a production company that preceded Vulcan Gas.

February 10, 1967 City Coliseum, Austin, TX  13th Floor Elevators/Conqueroo
 Electric Grandmother Presents

February 18, 1967 Houston Music Theater, Houston, TX 13th Floor Elevators/Conqueroo/Jomo Disaster
 Electric Grandmother Presents

April 22, 1967 Doris Miller Auditorium, Austin, TX  Conqueroo/Rachel’s Children
 Vulcan Gas Company Presents

May 6, 1967 Doris Miller Auditorium, Austin, TX Conqueroo/Rachel’s Children
 Vulcan Gas Company Presents

September 24, 1967  “Love-In”, Zilker Park, Austin, TX Shiva’s Headband/Thingies/Circus Maximus/Conqueroo/Black Lace
 Vulcan Gas Company was among the promoters

October 27-28, 1967 Vulcan Gas Company, Austin, TX Conqueroo/Shiva’s Headband
The first Vulcan Gas show at 316 Congress, with a poster by Gilbert Shelton (later of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers). All shows from here on were at 316 Congress Avenue unless otherwise events.

November 3-4, 1967  13th Floor Elevators/Conqueroo/Shiva’s Head Band

November 10-11, 1967  Conqueroo/Swiss Movement

November 17-18, 1967  Thingies/South Canadian Overlflow/Shiva’s Head Band

November 24-25, 1967   Thingies/Golden Dawn

December 1-2, 1967  Lightnin Hopkins/Conqueroo

December 8-9-10, 1967  13th Floor Elevators/Shiva’s Headband/Swiss Movement/South Canadian Overflow

December 15-16, 1967  Shiva’s Headband/Lost and Found

December 17, 1967   Conqueroo/Shiva’s Head Band

December 22-23, 30-31, 1967  Conqueroo/Afro Caravan/Golden Dawn/Shiva’s Head Band

Part II-1968
Part III-1969

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

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

The Matrix, at 3138 Fillmore Street in San Francisco, was the original hippie hangout, even before there were hippies. Founded by Marty Balin and his father, the club provided a place to play for the newly-formed Jefferson Airplane on August 13, 1965. Numerous other groups either debuted or made their San Francisco debut there, such as Big Brother and The Holding Company (on January 10, 1966). The Matrix was also a clubhouse and hangout for what few underground pothead musicians were around at the time. As the scene expanded, and the Fillmore and Avalon became major venues, the Matrix became as a hangout as much as a club. Although The Matrix only served beer and pizza, hippies were very much not welcome at many establishments, and in any case it took a while for rock music to become the dominant form of music in San Francisco nightclubs, so the Matrix was the best small place in the City for rock.

A tiny place that only seated 100, by 1969 it was a place for new bands in town to get heard or for local heavyweights to try out different configurations in a casual setting. The actual billing for February 19, 1969 (according to a newspaper listing, I believe in the San Francisco Chronicle) was   for Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady with Weird Herald (for many years, it was believed that Jerry Garcia and High Country played The Matrix on February 19, but it seems definitive that the Dead played Fillmore West that night. I discuss the Garcia/High Country Matrix tape elsewhere).

Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady started Hot Tuna--whom I saw just a few months ago, only 40 years later--because they played together so much in hotel rooms they thought it would be fun to continue it on stage when the Jefferson Airplane weren't playing. This booking at the Matrix is the first known public booking of the pair. Did Jorma and Jack play or plan to play acoustic, or electric? My guess would be acoustic, since subsequent electric gigs at the Matrix in 1969 (such as April 13, 1969) were billed as "Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady and Joey Covington." Still, this would have been the duo's first night, so its hard to say what was planned.

Weird Herald is even more mysterious, but all the more interesting for that. Jorma Kaukonen had gotten his start in the South Bay folk scene, where he was friends with Garcia, Nelson and all the rest. Among his San Jose pals were guitarists Paul Ziegler and Billy Dean Andrus. Andrus, a transplant from Mississippi, was reputed to be one of the hot pickers in the South Bay. Weird Herald was the 1968-69 folk rock band started by Ziegler and Andrus. They played many "underground" gigs in San Jose, but little is known about them save for one 45, featuring some spacey acoustic fingerpicking. Supposedly Weird Herald recorded an unreleased album (for Onyx Records) but I don't know what it might have sounded like. Did Weird Herald even have a drummer? Were they planning to play an acoustic gig without a band? Were Jorma and Jack going to join in with Weird Herald? Ziegler was the guitarist with Hot Tuna in 1970, so that isn't such a stretch.

Unlike Jorma and Jack, Billy Dean Andrus remains an unheard legend. After Weird Herald broke up, Andrus joined a San Jose group called Pachuco, featuring the even more legendary Skip Spence, and finally a Santa Cruz Mountains band called Mountain Current. In early November 1970, Andrus died of a drug overdose, supposedly after  a three-day party at a notorious biker hangout in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Jorma Kaukonen wrote "Ode To Billy Dean" (on Burgers) and still plays it to this day. One of Andrus's San Jose pals, Pat Simmons, had joined a band called The Doobie Brothers, and later dedicated the song "Black Water" to him, so Andrus's presence still resides with his friends.

The Matrix owners recorded every show, although they did not preserve every tape due to the cost of recording tape at the time. We can only hope that some piece of Weird Herald's performance is still accessible.

a photo of Weird Herald, purportedly from late 1967
I am happy to report that my fishhook in the ocean about Weird Herald has gotten some real bites. Two surviving members of the band,  drummer Patrick McIntire and bassist Cecil Bollinger can both be seen in the Comments, and I have been in touch with a wide variety of people regarding the band. An album was recorded in San Francisco in 1968 and the recordings still exist--I have heard a little bit and they really were some band--but it remains to be seen whether the surviving recording is releasable.

I am attaching a photo--unfortunately tiny--sent by a mysterious stranger (hey, the band wasn't called "Normal Herald"). This correspondent said that he was Weird Herald's manager in late 1967, that they recorded a now-lost 4-song demo, and he almost took the band to Australia. He included this promotional photo. I'm putting it on this post in the hopes that other correspondents may recognize the photo, the setting, or anything else.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mammoth Gardens, Denver, CO Performance List April-October 1970

The various corporate mergers of LiveNation and SFX has led to a national "re-branding" of small rock concert venues around the country as "Fillmores." While some venues with the name Fillmore have little in the way of rock history, the Denver Fillmore at 1510 Clarkson Street, which opened in 1999, actually has a somewhat interesting history of rock concerts for a brief period in 1970. While it is not hard to find out a brief history of the building, I could not find a record of 1970 rock performances at the venue, so I will rectify that as best I can.

Briefy, the building opened in 1907 as a skating rink, then became a manufacturing site for electric cars and car batteries. From 1935 to 1962 it was the Mammoth Gardens, an all-purpose sports arena. After several years as a warehouse, it was purchased by Stuart Green with the express purpose of emulating Bill Graham's Fillmore. Chet Helms had opened a branch of his Family Dog in 1967, but constant police harassment had led to its financial demise. Nonetheless, due to its location on I-70 and near I-80, Denver remained an important stop on the rock circuit. Green opened for business in the Spring of 1970.

What follows is my working list of Mammoth Gardens shows. There are many gaps, and I do not know if there are missing shows of if the venue was dark for certain weekends. Anyone with knowledge of additional shows please Comment or email me.

Mammoth Gardens 1970 Performances

April 11-12, 1970  Spirit/Van Morrison (canceled show)
April 17-18, 1970  Clouds/Zephyr
This was the opening night of Mammoth Gardens. Zephyr featured guitarist Tommy Bolin, and was the the leading band from Boulder, Colorado.

April 24-25, 1970 Grateful Dead/John Hammond
April 28, 1970 Joe Cocker and Mad Dogs and Englishmen
May 15-16, 1970 Mountain/Shocking Blue/Blues Image
May 22-23, 1970 Eric Burdon & War/Fever Tree
May 29-30, 1970 John Sebastian/Poco/Ballin Jack
Headliner Grand Funk Railroad canceled.

June 5-6, 1970 Spirit/Pentangle/Gypsy
June 9-10, 1970 The Who
June 26-27, 1970 Iron Butterfly/Black Oak Arkansas
July 3-4, 1970 60,000,00 Buffalo/Deep Rock/Jasmine and Mystic Moods
 “Audition Night” Presumably these were local bands.

July 10-11, 1970 Terry Reid/Jerry Hahn Brotherhood
July 17, 1970 Leon Russell/Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
July 29, 1970  Procol Harum
I am missing a large block of dates here.

September 12, 1970 Johnny Winter/Brownsville Station
September 16-17, 1970 Santana/Country Joe McDonald/Bread
October 2-3, 1970 Flash Cadillac and The Continental Kids/Illusion
October 6, 1970 Van Morrison/Sugarloaf/John Mayall
October 9, 1970 Spirit
October 17, 1970 Linda Ronstadt/Black Oak Arkansas
October 23, 1970 Leon Russell/Clouds
October 31, 1970 Steve Miller Band

 I am not certain that this last concert was played.

November 11, 1970 Derek and The Dominoes (canceled)
The city of Denver blamed the concert venue for the general decline of the neighborhood. The venue closed and the building was apparently boarded up by this time. 

After various uses, the venue re-opened as a concert site in 1986. In 1999 the building's name was changed from Mammoth Gardens to The Fillmore Auditorium, Denver.