Wednesday, September 23, 2009

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

Some mysteries are probably destined to remain mysteries. This ad comes from the Oakland Tribune entertainment section of November 7, 1969. The Trib was Oakland's main paper, and the establishments that advertised in the Friday section were relatively well established destinations. Steakhouses, downtown nightclubs and Nevada Lounges (in Reno and Tahoe) all had regular ads. Certainly some out of town clubs would advertise, but they were larger clubs like Frenchy's, who featured larger acts and appealed to patrons as an evening's destination. For a bar or club, an ad in the Friday Trib was a genuine expense, and some of the smaller clubs only advertised when they had a major attraction.

Ann's New Mo advertised most weeks in 1969, featuring a variety of groups I never heard of. My favorite is this band, The Naturally Stoned. Who were they? What is the semiology of the dancing girl? Is that hip, funky, black, white, what? Who is it supposed to appeal to? Bored businessmen? 20-somethings looking for fun? And what does "Mo" mean? Momentum? Mode? There's a Wednesday jam session, but what do they play? Jazz? Blues?

3101 East 14th Street (now 3101 International Boulevard) is over in the Fruitvale District (near what is now the Fruitvale BART Station at International and Fruitvale Avenue). Presumably the ads were to encourage Trib readers to make the trip down East 14th, but its 4 miles East of downtown, not really on the way to anything. Of course, that's why a club advertises, but the ad seems to be speaking in a language I don't understand.

Its easy to imagine that the coded language is something delicious and exciting, speaking to some kind of musical, ethnic or sexual subculture, but those kind of clubs didn't advertise in the Friday Tribune, since they didn't want squares dropping by unprepared for what they were getting. This ad has to appeal to someone who would read the Friday Trib, looking for things to do and willing to drive a few miles for the experience. "Naturally Stoned" is a clue, sort of, but by 1969 the iconography of drugs was fairly common, and in any case "stoned" still meant "drunk" to a lot of people in the 60s.

I remain perplexed.


  1. Actor Chuck Woolery's group the Avant-Garde had a top 40 hit with "Naturally Stoned" in '68. It's a pretty innocuous, "grown up" pop psych affair, maybe they were referencing that?

  2. You know, that's a pretty good idea. It still makes me wonder what The Naturally Stoned sounded like

  3. From 1970-1972 the house band played Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights.At that time period the band was one in which I was the bass player "The Banbury Cross, which later in '71 changed their name to "Dusty Roads".
    As far as the music being played I can give an account of my experience for the band I was in.
    For the majority of material it was democratically picked by "Steven Innis" who was the main Singer, writer, band leader.He chose songs from the juke box that the patrons liked and danced to.
    We also promoted our originals since that was our main dream as we had a recording arrangement with Wally Heiders recorders in SanFrancisco.Since many of the bands at the times played from 9pm to 1pm a lot of musical ground had to be covered and so a considerable amount of covers were being played,and the local Musicians Union would become involved for BMI, this was the case at almost all venues.
    As far as the clientèle goes, let me give a very brief background as to the economics of the time.
    Oakland had light to heavy industry along with the port and was located close to the Alameda Naval Air station.
    Clubber's came from the factory worker neighbor hoods in Oakland and the Alameda neigborhoods located across the "High St" bridge which was close to 3100block and east 14th.
    What I can tell you abut the name is that
    Ann's was owned by an Asian business woman called "Ann".
    Well about 10 years ago I was nearby in Alameda and ventured over the bridge to see what things looked like and the "New Mo" was no longer there, just an empty lot.
    That's it for now.If anyone sees this blog and remembers,please drop me a note

  4. Thanks so much for this fascinating snapshot of the nighttime economy of a very different Oakland. Did that part of E. 14th have a whole whole entertainment district for industrial Oakland and Alameda, with restaurants and clubs, or was Ann's New Mo kind of by itself?

  5. Ann's was only the destination for a factory worker or someone looking to score.It did have its scene but it was one that was being repeated across the county in dives that catered to the seedier side of life.I did meet some people that, as I look back realize were just trying to find a life for themselves.
    Around the block there was another club, I think it was called "Players" which had a non-white clientèle, was probably all black but I'm not sure as I wasn't even 18 when I started playing clubs and couldn't go in.I knew the bassist that played at the club and would go stand at the door and try to understand the scene.Looking back I realize that Paul had given me, a young white teenager a glimpse into a culture that I had not been raised in.Mr Jackson was and probably still is a very progressive individual.He no longer resides in the U.S. but lives in Japan.
    There was a late night restaurant on East 14th and I don't recall the name but after work at 2am we as a band would go across the street and have a dinner of egg omelets before heading home.
    A few blocks further east and down south a bit was a Latino club that had after hrs music and you could go see Shela E or may even Carlos Santana show for a jam.
    Now there was also north of Oakland the town of Berkeley which had the Claremont.I've never been inside but they would have bigger band names displayed on the marque.This was a more sophisticated crowd being entertained,definitely not a rock and roll crowd.More along the lines of big band and jazz.

  6. The bassist Paul Jackson who was at the Players Club--was that the Paul Jackson who was a foundational member of Herbie Hancock's Headhunters? He's one of Oakland's all-time heavyweight players.