Friday, November 9, 2012

Go Ahead with Brent Mydland and Bill Kreutzmann Tour History 1986 (Brent Mydland II)

The poster for the Go Ahead show at The Omni in Oakland, on December 19, 1986 (from GD Archives)
Brent Mydland was always in the shadow of the other members of the Grateful Dead, because he was always "the new guy." One of the many interesting aspects of the Grateful Dead was that fans could see the musical interests and abilities of the individual musicians in their various side projects, and then see how those sounds were integrated or excluded from the Dead's sounds. Most Deadheads, however--and I am certainly including myself--paid little attention to Brent's individual activities outside the band because they were too busy following Garcia or Weir.

Certainly, if you were a Bay Area resident, and you had a chance to see Jerry Garcia or Brent Mydland in a club, you would generally pick Jerry. Also, like most Dead fans I liked many kinds of music, and being fortunate enough to see the Grateful Dead regularly, I made a point of seeing other groups rather than the spinoff bands. As a result, Brent Mydland projects tended to be somewhat off the radar. In the Summer of 1985, Brent had ventured East in the band Kokomo (along with guitarist Kevin Russell, ex-Santana bassist David Margen and Bill Kreutzmann). By all accounts, they were just a bar band, but a very good one.

The enterprise must have been promising, however, since another version of the band reconstituted itself the next year. Go Ahead toured a surprising amount in the Fall of 1986, mainly because Jerry Garcia's illness canceled a lot of Grateful Dead dates. Fortunately, Go Ahead was a pretty good band as cover groups go, and they filled a lot of people's need for a Dead substitute, while presumably making a little money for the players as well. This post will attempt to identify all the Go Ahead performances for 1986.

The Kreutzmann-Margen Band
Go Ahead was presaged with a few dates in the Summer of 1986 by the Kreutzmann-Margen Band. It is generally forgotten now that for much of the early 80s, Kreutzmann regularly played shows around the Bay Area and sometimes toured elsewhere as well. Besides filling in with the Jerry Garcia Band, he played with the Healy-Treece Band, and the even more obscure Bill Kreutzmann's All-Stars. In 1984 and '85 he played with a reconstituted version of Kingfish. Bob Weir was a regular guest with Kingfish, and Brent Mydland even sat in a few times (Jan 21-24, 1985). However, after a dispute between Kreutzmann and Matt Kelly, Kreutzmann left Kingfish around March of 1985.

Kreutzmann and Mydland turned up in the Summer of 1985 with Kokomo, but the band did not survive the year. Kreutzmann must have enjoyed playing bars, however, and probably needed the money, since he played a few East Coast dates in the Summer of 1986 with yet another band.  No one but me seems to recall the Kreutzmann-Margen Band, despite a few obscure tapes, but they generally sounded a lot like Go Ahead. The group's lineup was:
  • Jerry Cortez-lead guitar
  • Alex Ligterwood-guitar, vocals
  • Nate Ginsberg-keyboards
  • David Margen-bass
  • Bill Kreutzmann-drums
Bassist David Margen, who had played with Kreutzmann in Kingfish and Kokomo, had been in a 70s lineup of Santana. A fellow member of that group was singer/rhythm guitarist Alex Ligterwood. Ligterwood, a Scotsman, had come to San Francisco around 1976 with Brian Auger and The Oblivion Express (a truly great band), and he had ended up joining Santana. Ligterwood had been the lead vocalist on such Santana hits as "Well All Right" and "Winning" in the late 70s and early 80s.

Jerry Cortez had been playing lead guitar with Jesse Colin Young and also with the revived version of the Youngbloods. Keyboardist Nate Ginsberg was a veteran of many Bay Area bands, including Larry Graham and Graham Central Station, Herbie Hancock, Cold Blood, Steve Miller Band and many others. I only know of a few East Coast dates for the Kreutzmann-Margen Band. A few tapes have surfaced, from July 27 at the Lone Star and July 29 in Chicago. Anyone who attended the shows or has additional information is encouraged to Comment.

July 25-27, 1986: Lone Star Cafe, New York, NY: Kreutzmann-Margen Band
July 28, 1986; The Tide, Beachhaven, NJ: Kreutzmann-Margen Band
July 29-30, 1986: Carol's, Chicago, IL: Kreutzmann-Margen Band

Go Ahead
In July of 1986, Jerry Garcia slipped into a diabetic coma, and the Grateful Dead world was turned upside down. A lot of concerts were canceled, and the Dead at the time had no other meaningful source of income. During the Summer, no one knew how long it would take Jerry to recover, nor when touring could possibly recommence. It is not surprising that Kreutzmann and Mydland, the two band members with the least income from recording royalties, apparently made plans to start touring. Fans in the Bay Area were somewhat inured to appearances by Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir, so shows featuring other band members were hardly events. In the rest of the country, however, any appearance by a Grateful Dead member, much less two, was at least a mini-event. Mydland replaced Ginsberg, and Go Ahead looked like this
  • Jerry Cortez-lead guitar
  • Alex Ligterwood-guitar, vocals
  • Brent Mydland-keyboards, vocals
  • David Margen-bass
  • Bill Kreutzmann-drums
From the point of view of nightclub owners, a band whose fans came early and stayed a long time were always desirable, so there seems to have been a fair amount of interest and the clubs that Go Ahead played were fairly large. In any case, there had to have been a lot of fans who were looking forward to seeing the Grateful Dead who must have been happy just to see a part of them.

With two current members of the Grateful Dead and two former members of Santana, Go Ahead roughly fell into the territory shared by the two groups. Go Ahead played extended versions of various rock cover songs, some of them made famous by one or the other band (like "Women Are Smarter" or "Well All Right"). The band played jammed out version of some of the more straightforward Weir second set numbers, some more rock Santana material and some classic rock covers (like Traffic's "Medicated Goo"). There was a lot of nice jamming, but none of it got too outside. Brent sang a few of his own ballads, and some of the material associated with the Dead, but most of the lead vocals were handled by Alex Ligterwood (including "Iko Iko"). 

Go Ahead was not an earthshaking band, just some excellent nightclub fun, but when taken in that light they were well worth the price of admission. Kreutzmann in particular is a great rock drummer in a conventional context, which can be easy to forget. It's also informative to listen to them--certainly I would have enjoyed it if members of The E Street Band or The Heartbreakers had played rock covers in nightclubs, but only Dead members seem to have had the energy (or poor judgment) to do so. Fortunately, there are a fair number of nicely recorded audience tapes floating around on Sugarmegs and elsewhere, and you can decide for yourself.

Because of Garcia's illness, instead of just playing a few quick dates, Go Ahead made a more substantial tour of the East than most Dead spinoff groups. Since they played a lot, by the end of the tour they sounded pretty tight, and some of the jamming sounds quite good. I think I have most of the dates, but I could be missing some. I am certainly missing some opening acts. Anyone with corrections, insights or observations is encouraged to mention them in the Comments. I am particularly interested in what acts might have opened for Go Ahead.

Go Ahead Performance List, Fall 1986
September 25, 1986: Lupo's, Providence, RI: Go Ahead

September 26, 1986: The Ritz, New York, NY: Go Ahead/Robert Hunter
Robert Hunter had a solo tour on the East Coast around this time, and he opened for Go Ahead in a few of the larger venues.

September 27, 1986: The Boathouse, Norfolk, VA; Go Ahead

September 28, 1986: The Bayou, Washington, DC: Go Ahead
Kokomo had played The Bayou the previous Summer, so I take that as a sign that the club owner had been happy with the turnout.

September 30, 1986: Toad's, New Haven, CT: Go Ahead

Ticket stub from the Go Ahead show at The Channel in Boston on October 1 1986
October 1, 1986: The Channel, Boston, MA: Go Ahead/Robert Hunter
There are some interesting comments in passing about this show, from a page where someone has collected all his ticket stubs. It gives a good perspective on how Go Ahead was a welcome diversion in the absence of a Dead tour.

October 2, 1986: Hunt's, Burlington, VT: Go Ahead

October 4, 1986: The Stone Pony, Asbury Park, NJ: Go Ahead/Robert Hunter

October 5, 1986: West 165th, Hartford, CT: Go Ahead/Robert Hunter/Max Creek
The venue was formerly known as The Agora.

updateCommenter Tony has some additional information
Max Creek played a four song set before Hunter at the 10/5 West Hartford Show. Creek were regulars at the Agora, and as it happens, had played as the sole act for the three nights prior to this gig. I have a tape of the Max Creek set, and I'm quite sure there exists tape of the full Hunter and Go Ahead sets. I recall Hunter played the UConn fight song. (
Hunter had lived in Connecticut for a few years in High School.

October 6, 1986: Stone Balloon, Newark, DE: Go Ahead

October 7, 1986: Trocadero, Philadelphia, PA: Go Ahead/Robert Hunter

October 8, 1986: USA Sam's, North Syracuse, NY: Go Ahead

October 10, 1986: Trafalmadore Cafe, Buffalo, NY: Go Ahead

October 11, 1986: The Warehouse, Rochester, NY: Go Ahead
[update] Thanks to correspondent Mike, we know that Max Creek played here regularly during this time. The venue, at 204 N. Water Street, is currently called The Water Street Music Hall.

October 12, 1986: My Father's Place, Roslyn, NY: Go Ahead
The band appears to have taken a two week break after this show, although it's possible I'm just missing some dates.

October 23, 1986: The Cabooze, Minneapolis, MN: Go Ahead
Starting on Oct 23, Go Ahead had a Midwestern swing.
October 24, 1986: [venue], University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI: Go Ahead

October 26, 1986: Cabaret Metro, Chicago, IL: Go Ahead

October 29, 1986: Graffiti, Pittsburgh, PA: Go Ahead
There is a nice tape circulating from this show, and the band gets into some good jamming to end the second show.

October 31, 1986; Capitol Theater, Passaic, NJ: Hot Tuna/Go Ahead
This show at the Capitol was the only opening performance by Go Ahead that I know of. The band returned home to the West Coast after this show.

November 30, 1986: Concord Palace, Concord, CA: Go Ahead
The fact that Go Ahead played a few California dates after their Eastern tour was a clear sign that the band had enjoyed itself. By this time, Garcia's recovery was assured, so Go Ahead was just playing because they liked it. I don't know anything about the Concord Palace. I believe that Brent Mydland was raised in Concord, but I don't know if there was a personal connection to the show.

December 2, 1986: Wood Lake Hotel, Sacramento, CA: Go Ahead

December 6, 1986: The Country Club, Reseda, CA: Go Ahead
Go Ahead also played two shows in Southern California.

December 8, 1986: Coach House, San Juan Capistrano, CA: Go Ahead

December 19, 1986: The Omni, Oakland, CA: Go Ahead/Dreamspeak
Go Ahead's final show of the year was at The Omni in Oakland. As a long-time Oakland resident, it was depressing to me that Oakland's newest rock club at the time turned out to be such a dump that I wouldn't go to a show there (and remember, I liked the Keystone Berkeley). The Omni was at 4799 Shattuck (at 48th Street), formerly known as Ligure Hall. It had been built in 1938 as an Italian American Social Club. It was owned by John Nady, who had made a fortune inventing wireless guitar pickups, and spent it on a rock nightclub that mostly presented heavy metal.

Go Ahead's one piece of local press coverage came when it was reported (I think in the Chronicle) that Jerry was in attendance at the show, even though he did not perform. Of course, the Dead had just finished three nights at the Oakland Coliseum Arena (Dec 15-17), so Garcia's recovery wasn't at issue, but this was the start of renewed attention to Jerry's importance and mortality.

Go Ahead 1987 and 1988
Although Go Ahead's touring schedule was considerably reduced in 1987, for the pleasant reason that Jerry Garcia was back in the saddle, Go Ahead continued onwards through 1988. At the end of 1987, the band also became a vehicle for Bob Weir as well as Brent and Bill, but all that will be addressed in the next post in this series.


  1. 4799 Shattuck Ave would be at the intersection of 48th, not 40th.

  2. whoops, Anon,how right you are about my geography. Fixed it

  3. Max Creek played a four song set before Hunter at the 10/5 West Hartford Show. Creek were regulars at the Agora, and as it happens, had played as the sole act for the three nights prior to this gig. I have a tape of the Max Creek set, and I'm quite sure there exists tape of the full Hunter and Go Ahead sets. I recall Hunter played the UConn fight song.

    1. I was there that night. Hunter was great. Everyone was. Great vibe.

    2. Hey, I was at this show! Have dreamed of finding a copy of this show for a long, long (loooong) time! Especially Hunter and Go Ahead. It's a very fond, melty memory. I was right up front and that's exactly what Hunter's face was doing :) I remember he had a big ass belt buckle on, too.
      Did anyone ever find it?

    3. Still dying for a copy of this :)

    4. How about now?

  4. Thanks Tony. I added your memories to the main post. The UConn fight song memory is pretty funny.

  5. Unfortunately, I never attended a Go Ahead show. I was in school in Philly for this 86 run and I believe unaware of the Trocadero show at the time. I came across the 10/5 tapes when I was home for fall break a couple of weeks later.

    I checked my tapes and I do have a copy of the Go Ahead set for 10/5. Setlist was;

    NFA, Far From Me, Black Magic Woman, Well Alright, Women Are Smarter, Medicated Goo, Hey Jude> Mr Fantasy> Hey Jude, Pockey Way> Drums> Bass Solo> Aiko> Good Lovin, Lovelight.

    I must not have copied the Hunter set at that time. A taste not yet acquired.

    1. It's nice to know someone was taping. I updated the update slightly. Thanks for all this information.

    2. Hey, how can I get a copy of this! I would quite possibly literally kill for it :)

    3. Hey, how can I get a copy of this! I would quite possibly literally kill for it :)
      (sorry for double post- hit wrong reply)

    4. Hey, still dying for a copy of this :)

    5. Still... dying...

  6. I have a flyer for/and went to Go Ahead at Peabody's Down Under, Cleveland, OH 10/28/1986 w/Oroboros

    1. Actuall it is Jim Miller of Oroboros as opening act....I am digitizing the SBD cassette as I type....

  7. Isnt this band where the Dear Mr. Fantasy Hey Jude coupling came from ?

    1. Anon, I had not thought of this, but I think you very well may be correct.

    2. Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper put them together on their 68 album "The Live Adventures Of" recorded at the Fillmore West (although credited to the Fillmore Auditorium) 1968-09-26>28.

      Hey Jude is instrumental and uncredited.

      John Kahn played bass at these shows and Rock Scully had loaned them the Dead's rehearsal facilities for two days beforehand so there's an early Kahn/Dead juxtaposition. The Dead were at Pacific Recording in San Mateo at the time working on Aoxomoxoa so it's unlikely they had the time to drop by and catch the rehearsals.

      I'm sure they heard the album when it was released, it was pretty popular.

    3. Yes, this is where the Fantasy > Jude segue emerged.

  8. Thank you for all your amazing research and memories, I find this blog an invaluable resource and companion to my listening adventures. Did you ever do the post about the Go Ahead lineup with Weir?

    1. Mickey, thanks for the kind words. I have written the third part of this series, but it needs some editing. At my pace, it will probably appear in mid-June.

    2. 11/30/87 Bob Weir, Go Ahead, Bacchanal, San Diego, CA
      This small club is gone now, but that night was a very good show. We sat with Bob Weir at the bar, and took David Margen to Rosarita Beach the day after.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. My first date with my wife Regina was at the Lone Star gig on July 25th.
    If I remember correctly, it was advertised in the Village Voice as "The Rhythm Section of Santana".
    Great things that happened that night.
    1. I got to see Billy Kreutzman break down his own kit.
    2. Either Steve Winwood himself, or David Palmer sat in and sang Dear Mr. Fantasy and another Traffic song. But I could be wrong. It might have been Alex Ligterwood.
    3. I ended up marrying my date and we had a wonderful kid. She is a musician and her name is Miranda Scott.

    Thank you so much Corry342, for writing and posting this great info.
    Here is a link to the recording of the 7/27/86 Lone Star Cafe show NYC

  11. Thank you for this. I saw the show at the Concord Palace, which was a country & western bar, redplush carpet, small dancefloor, fotos full length larger than life on either side of John Wayne and Rhett Butler in Gone With The Wind, there were about 70 of us there, max, and the band set up on the dancefloor so you could stand on the same level with Billy and watch him work from really close up. Go Ahead, like all Billy's side bands, was just fantastic. I also saw them at the Omni show and at a show in Roseland near Sacramento in a County Fairgrounds even hall in 87, with Bobby acoustic opening & sitting in. Another excellent show. I also caught the Bill Kreutzman Allstars at Keystone Berkeley in the early 80s -- 82? and Kokomo at Wolfgangs in maybe 84? Go Billy! Jim Powell

    1. I forgot to say that I heard the reason they booked the Concord Pavillion show was Brent wanted to play a gig in his own neighborhood.

    2. Also, I thought that the Kokomo guitarist was out of his depth -- when Billy and Brent and Margen went off he seemed out of it, lost. Jerry Cortez was a major improvement. JP

    3. And one more comment. I thought the Omni was a beautiful space. The ballroom has a huge skylight that opens. I also saw a benefit for Jaco Pastorius there that featured Bobby, Herbie Hancock, Santana and an amazing East Coast guitarist Hirum Bullock. Jerry did show up at the Go Ahead concert with a lady friend from the Hog Farm and took a table right on the dancefloor -- it was amazing to come back to the ballroom from the bar before the show and find him sitting there. He was plainly in good spirits and was pleasant to people who went up and said hi but people gave him plenty of space -- a very hip crowd. And a great show. So I don't think the Omni was or probably still is anything like a dump. It's a really nice space. But I completely agree about its booking history in following years. One big problem was that its neighborhood became the center of crack wars so that you couldn't park down there without having your car trashed by some crackhead. Between that and the heavy metal bookings, it died. Oh, I also saw Neil Young's blues band with horns do its two identical set show there. JP

    4. JP, thanks for all the comments, and for illuminating some long lost pieces of history, particularly the mysterious Concord Palace.

      I was probably too harsh on The Omni, the old building was quite nice but really sleazy when I went there. Of course, the only show I saw was Devo (of all things), about 1990, and it was a weird tacky place by that time. The neighborhood surely didn't help. It has been fixed up nicely, and could have been a nice place, and it seems like it was so, back in '86.

  12. in the 'labels' list on the right, could correct the spelling of the last name?

    > Brent Mydlland (2)

    it should have one 'l'.

    feel free to delete this comment when done.

    I-) ihor

  13. I'm the guy who recorded and circulated the Graffiti Pittsburgh show (and the Robert hunter show there) - the club owner would let me get the bands I liked and I would trade him for other tapes. Yay Graffiti!

    1. Hey! I worked there in '88/89 I would lovelovelove to see your archives!

  14. I saw Go Ahead twice at Reseda Country Club, I think it was 87. The shows were not back to back - my memory tells me it was something like 2- to 6-weeks between shows.
    These shows were so awesome, and I am really trying to find a copy of one, or both of them. please let me know if you can help...
    I still remember the opening song - the guitar riff that Jerry Cortez had at the start.... So incredible!! Brent Mydland...!!

    1. Here's part of the 12/6/86 show. I saw it also and have the flyer.


  15. Go Ahead Performance List, Fall 1986
    September 25, 1986: Lupo's, Providence, RI: Go Ahead

    Thanks for confirming the date. I was there-freshman at Providence College and heard about it via a poster at Lupos. Had started to hit the weekly Creek shows and the regular crew were there, so I have always wondered why a tape never surfaced. This may be the set list (found on the cover of one of my college notebooks)

    set 1

    She's Not There
    Far From Me
    Easy to Love You
    Black Magic Woman
    Woman are Smarter

    set 2

    Tons of Steel
    Don't Need Love
    Good Time Blues
    Hey Jude>
    Dear Mr. Fantasy>
    Hey Jude
    Good Lovin'

    1. thanks unk. Youngsters, this is why you save your college notebooks...

  16., not sure why unknown came up.
    All circulating Go Ahead can be found at Lossless Legs!

  17. I saw Go Ahead at the Cabooze in Minneapolis on Oct 23, 1986. I expected a great show and was not disappointed. I do have my ticket stub and am willing to scan it if you are interested

  18. Although tapes and setlists are outside the scope of this blog, the wonderful Dylanstubs site not only has all the known performance dates for Go Ahead and other Brent Mydland shows, but setlists and links to tapes as well.

    1. Damn, looks like it's gone

    2. The address has moved:

  19. On 9/30/86, Max Creek opened.

  20. Not sure of the date but didn't see it listed here but Go Ahead also Played at Rockefellare's in Houston in '86 with Bobby Keys driving in from Austin to sit in on the whole second set. Highlight of that was Tequila!!!!!

    1. Billy, thanks for the interesting detail. Go Ahead did play Rockefeller's in Houston on March 12, 1987 (see here:

      Did they play Rockefeller's before that? In any case, the great Bobby Keys, wow