Tuesday, September 22, 2009
700 M Street, Fresno, CA: Selland Arena, Big Brother And The Holding Company/Mint Tattoo April 19, 1968
The student promoters of this concert at Fresno's main Civic Arena (built in 1966), Baba Love, had also promoted a Grateful Dead show on February 17 (with Country Joe and The Fish). According to the Fresno Bee articles, the stated purpose of both the Grateful Dead concert and the Big Brother concert were to raise funds to finance publication of Meher Baba's writings. Make of this what you will.
At the time, Big Brother and The Holding Company were underground legends, but their only release was the first album on Mainstream. They had played Fresno before, but the promoters would have had to depend on word-of-mouth for their to be a good show. Their probably wasn't a significant FM rock radio station in Fresno at this time. Thus an absurd gimmick like allowing 35-year olds in for free got the concert free press, and probably served its purpose. I have no information on whether anyone took them up on the offer.
The group Mint Tattoo featured Sacramento guitarist Bruce Stephens and organist/bassist Burns Kellogg. They had been in the Berkeley group Melvyn Q Watchpocket, and after Mint Tattoo's sole album release in 1968, both members would join Blue Cheer for their third album (1969's New! Improved!), although Bruce Stephens only played on half of it. Burns Kellogg (1946-2003) remained in Blue Cheer for three more albums, and eventually became well known both as an engineer and producer at his own Radio Tokyo Studios and also as a Hurdy Gurdy player. I saw him open for David Lindley once, playing the Hurdy Gurdy.
I'd love to know the identity of the "Fresno Group [promoter] Golway says "is so new they don't even have a name yet."