Friday, March 30, 2012

May 11, 1975, Town Hall, Kresge College, UCSC, Santa Cruz, CA; Keith And Donna And Friends

A long lost poster for Keith & Donna & Friends at Kresge Town Hall, Kresge College, University of California at Santa Cruz, on May 11, 1975. (scan courtesy of JGBP; recconstruction thanks to JGMF)
One of America's leading investigators recently sent me a scan of a mysterious and long-lost poster of a Keith And Donna Godchaux performance at the University of California at Santa Cruz on May 11, 1975. I had been aware that Keith and Donna had performed on the campus, but I had most of the details wrong. Not only does the poster set the facts straight, it raises a host of other interesting questions. I am the only person who has attempted any kind of detailed history of the Keith And Donna Band, and in so doing I have been keeping up a concert history of the band during the eight months that it existed. This poster, however, suggests that some of my assumptions about the beginning of the Keith And Donna band may have been somewhat mistaken.

This post will try and place the Keith and Donna Godchaux performance at UCSC on May 11, 1975 into some kind of context. This will be hard to do, since I only have a few sketchy eyewitness accounts, but there are still some important pieces of information that can be discerned. I will also reconsider my assumptions about the early history of the Keith And Donna band it light of what we will see, and make some different assertions in the hopes that someone can shed some light on the formation of the Keith And Donna band.

The Poster
The poster advertises
Kresge College Presents
From The Grateful Dead
Keith And Donna And Friends
Keith Godchaux-keyboards
Donna Godchaux-vocals
Royce Scott-guitar
Jellyroll-bass
Hoddy-horns
Steve Schuster-reeds
Tom Dollager-drums
special guest-Eric Andersen
2 shows May 11, 7:30, 10:30
Kresge Town Hall, UCSC
There is ticket information, and the finer print identifies Sunseeker Productions,  and the poster is signed "Bob Whitmire '75." First, let's parse out some of this information.

Kresge College: UCSC had been founded in 1965, but it was structured to have colleges within the University, like Oxford or Cambridge. Although students could take classes from any college, in the early years of Santa Cruz students identified strongly with their colleges socially and personally, and felt that each college had personalities (Cowell College was the first college, for example, and they looked down on other colleges, who in turn thought Cowell was full of snobs). Kresge was the sixth UCSC college, founded in 1971, and  "it was designed with the concept of participatory democracy as a means of encouraging a strong sense of community." The "Town Hall" was the dining commons/multi-purpose area in the dorms, where student events could be held.

Keith And Donna And Friends: The May 11 show would be the second Keith And Donna show that I am aware of. The first was at River City in Fairfax on April 17, about which more later. However, we do not have any idea how the River City show was billed. I'm not sure why "And Friends" was added. The big question to me was whether "And Friends" was just to indicate that their would be a band, or whether it meant, in Grateful Dead-speak, "this isn't precisely the real Keith And Donna band," which would be a strange thing for a band's second show.
  • Royce Scott-guitar: This would have been Ray Scott, a regular member of Keith And Donna.
  • Jellyroll-bass: This would have bassist Roger "Jellyroll" Troy, a regular member of Mike Bloomfield's band, among many others. He had been an old playing partner of Howard Wales in the midwest in the 60s, and had played with Wales on his brief tour with Jerry Garcia in 1972. Troy had sat in occasionally with the Garcia-Saunders band as well.
  • Hoddy-horns: This would have been trumpeter Hadi Al-Saddoon. I don't know much about him, but he has played with many Marin ensembles over the years.
  • Steve Schuster-reeds. Schuster was also a regular member of Keith And Donna. 
  • Tom Dollager: All but certainly, this was drummer Tom Donlinger. Donlinger, from Chicago, had relocated to Marin in 1970 to work with the band Lovecraft. He was later in Aorta, and he played on many albums in the 1970s. His brother was Jim Vincent (actually Jim Donlinger), who had also been a member of Lovecraft and Aorta, and who had also played with Howard Wales, Jerry Garcia and Roger Troy on the 1972 East Coast tour. I checked on Tom Donlinger's website, and he mentions playing with Keith and Donna Godchaux, so I'm pretty confident of my assumption here. Some of the odd spelling errors lead me to think the information for the poster was transmitted over the phone, with no time for a proof of the artwork (it's not like they could email a scan in advance).
  • Special Guest-Eric Andersen: Besides being an old Greenwich Village folkie and an established recording artist, Eric Andersen had also been Bob Weir's next-door neighbor, which is how he came to write the lyrics to "Weather Report-Part 1."
Two Shows, 7:30 and 10:30: I think this was a somewhat commercial event. Many universities had student events where civilians were still allowed to buy tickets, but this event has two admissions and tickets available downtown (at Odyssey Records, for example). I don't see a discount for student ID, either. The presenter appears to be "Sunseeker Productions," rather than an explicit student group. All of this points to using a University facility for a relatively commercial event. While the event had to be University sanctioned or it would not have occurred, I do not think it was University funded. Of course, the putative artist, Bob Whitmire, might have plenty of insights, but we will have to hope that he will surface.

Early History of The Keith And Donna Band
Some time ago, I tried to piece together the early history of the Keith And Donna band. Their debut seems to have been at a tiny club in Fairfax (Marin County) called River City, on April 17, 1975. The show was somewhat ragged. I have heard the tape, and read the reminiscence of the taper, and its unclear who was in the band that night. Everyone, including me, has assumed that the Keith And Donna band had a relatively static membership for it's entire existence from April 17 through December 20, 1975. In particular, I had assumed that Bill Kreutzmann was always the drummer, and Wisconsin musician Mike Larsheid was the bassist. I had known that a trumpeter had sat in with Keith And Donna on occasion, and there was an indication that Hadi Al-Sadoon was that player.

My new perspective is that everyone, particularly me, noted that Bill Kreutzmann started being advertised as the Keith And Donna band's drummer about June 1975, and assumed that he had always been so, and that Mike Larsheid had always been the bassist. I'm now thinking that the original lineup was considerably more fluid. That doesn't mean that Keith And Donna had a fixed lineup at first, or that Kreutzmann couldn't have played a gig here and there, but perhaps things were considerably less fixed. Consider the sketchy information we have on early Keith And Donna shows:
  • April 17, 1975: River City, Fairfax, CA
  • May 11, 1975: Kresge Town Hall, UCSC, Santa Cruz, CA
  • May 12, 1975: Yellow Brick Road, San Francisco, CA
  • May 15, 1975: The Longbranch, Berkeley, CA
  • May 23-24, 1975: Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA (opening for NRPS)
  • June 6, 1975: River City, Fairfax, CA
  • June 7, 1975: The Longbranch, Berkeley, CA
  • June 12, 1975: The Bodega, Campbell, CA
  • June 13-14, 1975: Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
The June 1975 Keystone Berkeley calendar
I have a copy of the Keystone Calendar for June, 1975, and Kreutzmann is listed as a member of Keith And Donna (above). It seems likely he played the shows the week before (Fairfax, Longbranch and Campbell), just to get warmed up prior to a relatively high profile headline date at the Keystones. However, given that we know the putative lineup for May 11 (from the poster), it seems unlikely that the band would be rehearsed for just one show. It seems more likely that the lineup that played Kresge also played the other dates in May. Presumably the mesh wasn't perfect, or the money wasn't right, or something, and a different rhythm section was put in place. In any case, both Tom Donlinger and Roger Troy had numerous other obligations, and the Keith And Donna band may not have fit them for entirely non-musical reasons.

As for Hadi Al-Sadoon, I think he was not a guest, but a full time member of the band until the Fall of 1975. Ironically, it was the Fall '75 Eastern tour that garnered the most attention for the Keith And Donna band, so Sadoon's absence practically wrote him out of the band. However, what tapes, eyewitness accounts and poster evidence that exist from before that always mention a trumpet player, and I now think that Sadoon played every date with Keith and Donna until October 1975.

Keith And Donna, unknown venue, Santa Cruz, CA June 20-21, 1975
A BASS tickets ad listed Keith and Donna in Santa Cruz on June 20-21, 1975, and I had always been at a loss to figure out what it was. Someone mentioned on my blog that they had seen Keith and Donna at Kresge, so I had assumed that was it. I had wondered why they played two nights at the college, and why they played after the quarter was probably over, but I was happy for the information. This poster caused me to rethink this. Keith And Donna definitely played Kresge, so my Commenter's memory was correct, but it looks like it was May 11, not in June. Where did Keith and Donna play in June? Campus would have been largely deserted, and there were no real rock nightclubs in Santa Cruz at the time (the Catalyst was just a coffee shop then, with folk performers, and I don't think the Crow's Nest booked rock bands in those days either). Also, whether Keith And Donna actually ended up playing Santa Cruz or not in June, the planned event had to be high profile enough to get mentioned in the BASS ad, rather than just being in the back room of some Chinese restaurant (Robert Hunter played such a show). So the June 20-21 booking retreats into the mystery category.

The Grateful Dead Archive, UC Santa Crux
As everyone who reads this blog must know, the Grateful Dead Archive is housed at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Pinning down a performance on campus by a sitting member of the Grateful Dead seems pretty historic. I had thought that Keith And Donna's appearance at Kresge was the first and only performance by a Dead member at UCSC. UC Santa Cruz's college loyalties are nothing if not firm, however. A graduate of a different college has assured me that Bob Weir and Kingfish played his college some months earlier, and has promised to reveal all the details shortly. Nonetheless, Keith And Donna's little noted appearance at Kresge College suggests that there are some interesting stories yet to be heard about the show, and if any Banana Slugs have any sudden flashbacks, hopefully they can share them in the Comments. Just because your memory is fuzzy doesn't mean it's not real.

1 comment:

  1. June 20-21 1975 Keith & Donna played at Margarita's a watering hole/restaurant featuring live music that opened in February 1975 at 1685 Commercial Way (near present day Moes Alley). http://cryptdev.blogspot.com/2012_06_01_archive.html

    ReplyDelete