Friday, December 13, 2013

Gospel Oak/Mountain Current/33 1969-72 (Matt Kelly II)

The great guitarist T-Bone Walker, in his prime
Matt Kelly, 1969
Matt Kelly had had a pretty good run as a musician in 1968. He had joined the embers of The New Delhi River Band, and along with bassist Dave Torbert and drummer Chris Herold, two members of the NDRB, that group had morphed into Shango. Shango played a few interesting gigs, and ultimately evolved into the group Horses. Horses was produced by the team of John Carter, Tim Gilbert and Dave Diamond, and they had already had produced some hits with "Acapulco Gold" by The Rainy Daze and "Incense And Peppermints"  by the Strawberry Alarm Clock. Yet, despite a not-terrible album on White Whale Records, Horses went nowhere. The producers moved on to greener pastures, and Torbert, Herold and Matt Kelly retreated to the Bay Area to lick their wounds.

Both Torbert and Kelly took a hiatus from their professional music careers, albeit in different ways. Torbert took off for Maui at the end of 1968, and spent most of the next 16 months or so surfing. I'm not sure what else Torbert did in Maui--probably not much, since there wasn't that much to do--but as far as I know he was a true Surf Bum at a time when surfing in Maui was truly like surfing in paradise, as long as you weren't into civilization.

Herold, meanwhile, was a Conscientious Objector from the draft. He accepted alternative service, which in his case was driving a hospital truck. So from 1969 through 1971, Herold drove a hospital truck, and only played music on weekends. As a result, Herold played in a somewhat legendary but still part-time Santa Cruz Mountains band called Mountain Current. As far as I know, Mountain Current was a sort of prototype jam band, playing improvised, danceable music without a lot of structure. While never a major group, even in Santa Clara County, they would still turn out to play a significant part in the Kingfish saga, though not for a few more years.

Matt Kelly, meanwhile, was left without much to do in 1969. He had started being a professional musician around 1967, but by the end of 1968 he didn't even have a band. He'd played a fair amount of gigs around and about with the bands he'd been in, but he was just another harmonica player and rhythm guitarist on the Bay Area scene. Kelly loved the blues, but he was a suburban white boy who'd learned the music from records. However, although 1969 began inauspiciously for Kelly, the next few years would turn out to be pretty interesting. Kelly had an opportunity to really learn about the blues from the source, and then he made a record in England of all places. As a result, Kelly ended up playing a critical, though, unexpected role in the career of Dave Torbert and the history of the New Riders Of The Purple Sage.

The Blues
Guitarist Mel Brown's I'd Rather Suck My Thumb album on Impulse! Records, recorded in Los Angeles in 1969 with Matt Kelly, and released in 1970.
The blues were very popular amongst young white rock musicians, but most of them had learned about it from records. Bands like The Butterfield Blues Band and Cream had made the likes of Muddy Waters, B.B. and Albert King popular, and those groups had started to play the Fillmore circuit regularly. So an aspiring blues player like Kelly had certainly seen some of the great bluesmen in concert by 1969. While I'm not exactly certain who Kelly got to see, it's plain he had seen some fine Chicago blues harmonica players. However, he hadn't really had any chance to learn blues music from the inside.

I'm not aware of Kelly working in any band in 1969, and I think he was just hanging out in the South Bay. As a result, one night in the Summer of 1969, Kelly and some friends went to a funky blues club in East Palo Alto called The Exit. At the club (and possibly on stage) was guitarist and singer Mel Brown. Brown wasn't a major figure on the white Fillmore circuit, but he was popular in the black West Coast blues scene. Kelly:

I was pretty mellow [but] I had a few drinks and my friends and I went to an all-black nightclub, an after hours club, where all the black musicians would go to play. We were the only white people in the club, we had a few drinks, and got a little loose, and quite to my own surprise I found myself walking towards the stage right in the middle of a song. I jumped right up and started playing along, which is not the kind of thing one does in a club like this; it was really kind of rough you could get yourself killed. In my case it worked to my advantage because Mel really liked my playing and saw potential in me. Mel basically said I’m doing a record in LA, I’m driving down the day after tomorrow, why don’t you come down with me? We did, we drove down in his Caddy. He lived in Watts, and in between sessions we would go to these blues clubs in LA and he would introduce me. He was a hero to the black community. I got to meet all these great blues players like T- Bone [Walker] and Jimmy Witherspoon. It ended up being a truly life changing experience for me. Aside from getting on Mel’s record that was how I made all my contacts with that world. 
Impulse! was mainly known as a jazz label, and its most prominent artist was John Coltrane. Nonetheless, the label released an album by Mel Brown.

I'd Rather Suck My Thumb-Mel Brown (Impulse 1970)
Mel Brown - guitar, vocals
Matthew Kelly - harmonica
Clifford Coulter - organ, electric piano
Johnny Carswell - organ
Bob West - electric bass
Gregg Ferber - drums
Recorded July, August, October '69Rapp (RIP) -- vocals, bass, rhythm guitar (1971)
Matt Kelly seems to have spent the Summer and Fall of 1969 getting a chance to hang out with Mel Brown and play with real blues musicians. Within two years, Kelly would end up forming a band that backed touring blues musicians, so Kelly plainly soaked up all the knowledge he could from Mel Brown about playing the blues and working as a blues musician. However, I have not been able to track down any actual performances by Kelly during this period, although I'm sure there must have been a few.



Gospel Oak's sole album, released in 1970 on Kapp Records
Somehow, Matt Kelly went to England at the end of 1969. Why, exactly, Kelly went there remains obscure. I don't know how he afforded it, since he was hardly working, but clearly he found a way. However, I do know that after the rise of The Beatles, numerous American musicians and bands moved to England, hoping to make it in Swinging London. Here and there a few of them ultimately even "made it," for those of you who recall the likes of Carl Douglas ("Kung Fu Fighting") or Gary Wright (in Spooky Tooth and later "Dream Weaver"). Most others, like The Misunderstood (from Riverside) or Chris Rowan (who went and returned in 1969), came back with little to show for it. Kelly's experience was more of the latter.

Kelly's few comments about his sojourn in England are very vague. This is not surprising, since it was some time ago, and no one save me is really concerned about the details. However, it seems that Kelly fell in with an American group called Gospel Oak. According to Kelly:
Actually what happened was I ended up going to England. I was playing in a band called Gospel Oak over there. The name came from a debunked underground station (tube station).  I met up with these guys from Indiana who had a record deal with MCA Their manager was one of the publicists for the Beatles so it sounded like a really good deal. 
Just as musicians from all over went to San Francisco to emulate the Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Airplane, musicians went to London to emulate the Beatles.

Gospel Oak released an album on Kapp, an American MCA subsidiary. I have never heard the album, but supposedly it's OK. The band on the album was:
GOSPEL OAK (Kapp Records 1970)
Bob LeGate-lead guitar, vocals
Matt Kelly-harmonica, guitar
Cliff Hall-keyboards
John Rapp-bass, vocals
Kerry Gaines-drums
plus Gordon Huntley-pedal steel guitar
Gordon Huntley was not a member of the group. He was one of the very few pedal steel guitarists in England, and as a result played on many English recordings (Elton John's "Country Comfort" is probably the most well-known).

I'm not aware of any performances by Gospel Oak in England. However, there must have been some record company support, so perhaps the band members got a weekly wage (a typical arrangement), and didn't need to gig. In any case, it seems that the record company must have been willing to pay to fly someone over, because it appears that Gospel Oak needed an extra member. This is how the otherwise obscure Yanks-In-England band played a part in the Grateful Dead saga. Kelly:
I wrote to Torbert, who was in Hawaii, and we sent him money for a plane ticket. He was going to fly over and join the band. From Hawaii, he stopped at his parents for two days to pick up a few things and fly to London from there. While he was there at his parents he got a phone call from David Nelson of the New Riders of the Purple Sage who said:  'we have this new band with Jerry Garcia on pedal steel and we would really like for you to play bass.’ David had a difficult time with this so he called me up and told me the situation and I said ‘yeah. Go for it. Do it.’ 
Like many parts of the New Riders saga, this story has been repeated so many times by all the participants that it is universally accepted at face value. I myself have never entirely bought it. David Gans kindly took up my request to ask David Nelson about it, and Nelson conceded that it was no coincidence that Torbert got a call at his parents house on his way to England.

Think about this for a minute. David Nelson and Dave Torbert were in a band together for years, and John Dawson was a good friend of Torbert's as well. Torbert had been in Maui since late 1968, far from civilization, and he gets a surprise letter from Matt Kelly, followed by a plane ticket to London to join his band. Do you think that Nelson or Dawson just happened to be calling Torbert's parents in Redwood City on the day that Torbert dropped by (I have heard this version of the story)?

Garcia had been playing with Nelson and Dawson since May of 1969. By early 1970, as I have obsessively documented, the New Riders were on an enforced hiatus since they had no bass player. Phil Lesh had lost interest, and rehearsal bassist Robert Hunter was never actually invited to join the group. It seems obvious that Nelson and Dawson knew exactly when Torbert would be coming through town. So it's clear to me, at least, that they let Matt Kelly's record company send Torbert a ticket to get back to San Francisco--the 1970 Grateful Dead were effectively bankrupt--and then pitched Torbert the chance to join the New Riders.

Was Dave Torbert surprised to arrive at his parents' house in April 1970 and get offered the bassist's job in the New Riders Of The Purple Sage? Probably, he was surprised, but it wasn't a coincidence. Nelson and Dawson knew when he was coming, because clearly Torbert had told them. By pitching him over the phone, Torbert was legitimately able to present it as a surprise to Kelly. Kelly, to his credit, recognized what a good opportunity it was for his friend, and told Torbert to take the offer. Kelly:
This worked to my advantage later on because Gospel Oak ended up breaking up and when I came back from London, I started sitting in and playing with the New Riders. Out of that and some recording sessions that I had been working on, David quit New Riders and we started Kingfish together. That was in 1973.
The close friendship between Kelly and Torbert was confirmed by Kelly's willingness to let Torbert try for the brass ring when he had the chance. So when Kelly and Torbert decided to form a band in 1974, Torbert knew he had a loyal partner. In any case, Kelly's UK work permit apparently expired at the end of 1970, and he would have had to return to the States anyway.

Mountain Current
Matt Kelly's musical activities in 1972 have to be assumed somewhat. I have determined that Kelly's reconnection with Bob Weir took place during the recording of an album by David Rea, produced by Weir, recorded in late 1972. Rea's Slewfoot album will be the next post in this series, but it's clear that Kelly was not really hooked up with the Dead/New Riders crowd until '72. Kelly was thanked on the back of the late '72 New Riders album Gypsy Cowboy, so he was part of that scene from then on. However, while I'm sure Kelly hung with Torbert a bit, he wasn't yet really part of the Riders crowd in 1971.

Back in the Bay Area, former New Delhi River Band, Shango and Horses drummer Chris Herold was coming to the end of his mandated service as a Conscientious Objector. From 1969 through 1971 Herold had driven a hospital truck, so he had only been able to play music on weekends. Herold's primary, and perhaps sole, musical endeavor was to play drums for a band called Mountain Current.

Mountain Current does have a sort of famous or infamous status in the Santa Cruz Mountains from back in the day. They appear to have been a sort of "jam band," in a 60s kind of way. They may have had a somewhat floating membership, too. I have read a few descriptions of their music, and apparently they played danceable, free floating jam music, probably in the Fillmore style of open-ended blues. I don't think Mountain Current played many songs per se, or only used them as jumping off points.

Herold was the drummer in Mountain Current from 1969 through 1971. In the middle of that time, of course, Dave Torbert returned to California and joined the New Riders Of The Purple Sage. By the end of 1970, Mickey Hart stepped down from the drum chair of the New Riders. Whether or not Hart had intended to be a permanent member--probably not--he was apparently becoming increasingly stressed out from having brought his father Lenny in as the Grateful Dead's manager, even if the band themselves forgave him. In December 1970, the New Riders signed up Spencer Dryden as their new drummer, as Spencer had left the Airplane nearly a year earlier. I have to think that Nelson and Torbert would have wanted Herold as a replacement for Mickey Hart in the New Riders, but with Herold's obligation that would have been impossible.

The only other member of Mountain Current that I know was a temporary one, legendary South Bay guitarist Billy Dean Andrus. Andrus was the frontman for the popular San Jose band Weird Herald, fondly remembered by all who saw them (and by those lucky enough to have heard anything from their unreleased album on Onyx). Andrus was some character, however, and at one point around 1970 he was fired from Weird Herald, who temporarily replaced him with old Garcia pal Peter Grant. Andrus played with Mountain Current for about six weeks. Andrus liked to jam, and the suggestion was that he just plugged in and roared with Mountain Current.

How legendary was Billy Dean Andrus? He died in November of 1970, apparently after a wild party, and it hit all his friends hard, particularly those who were musicians. Jorma Kaukonen, one of his closest friends, wrote "Ode To Billy Dean," and Hot Tuna not only started playing the song by the end of that month, they still play it to this day. In 1970, Hot Tuna had played alternate weekends at a club called the Chateau Liberte, and Andrus would often sit in and jam. Hot Tuna had alternated with Hot Tuna at The Chateau with a then-unknown band called The Doobie Brothers. Doobie Brothers' guitarist Pat Simmons also wrote a song for Billy Dean, called "Black Water" ("Oh black water/Keep on rollin''/Mississippi Moon, won't you keep on shining on me"), and it became a worldwide hit that everyone recognizes. Pat Simmons still plays that song, too.

Other than Andrus and Herold, I have not been able to determine any other members of Mountain Current. However, I feel confident that Kelly must have sat in with them at the very least. Mountain Current evolved into a group called Lonesome Janet, led by Kelly and Herold, so it stands to reason that Kelly at least hung out and jammed, not least because Kelly didn't have many other rock music outlets in the Bay Area.

[update: Matthew Kelly himself was kind enough to give me some detail about Mountain Current. The band had a sort of floating membership, but Kelly did indeed perform with them regularly in late 1970. Besides Herold on drums, regular members at that time were singer Sweet John Tomasi, from The New Delhi River Band, electric pianist Mick Ward, "Bob The Bass Player," who may have been Bob Dugan, and Andrus on guitar. Different players came and went, and Kelly regularly played harmonica with them.]

Matt Kelly On The Chitlin Circuit
Gospel Oak ground to a halt in mid-1970, and Matt Kelly was left in London with no gig. Up until recently, Kelly's musical history for the next few years has been very vague. Recently, however, Kelly had a remarkable interview with scholar and dj Jake Feinberg, and Kelly spooled out the rather remarkable story of his career between the end of Gospel Oak and his permanent relocation to the Bay Area in 1973.

When Gospel Oak broke up, Kelly hooked up with New Orleans blues singer Champion Jack Dupree, who had been based in Europe since 1960 for a number of years, who was based in England at the time. Kelly played a few shows with Dupree, and must have hit it off, because Dupree wanted Kelly to come tour Europe with him, but Kelly could not get a work permit. As a result, Kelly returned to California later in 1970.

However, once Kelly returned to California, rather than finding another rock band, Kelly pursued his connection to the blues. He capitalized on the time spent with Mel Brown in Watts, and started working with organist Johnny Carswell, backing traveling blues musicians on the so-called "Chitlin Circuit." The Chitlin Circuit referred to the string of venues in the East, Southeast and Midwest that were wiling to book African-American performers, and more generally to the string of venues that featured black R&B performers throughout the country. By the early 70s, many of the bigger performers on the old circuit, such as B.B. King, were playing white rock venues as well. The circuit definitely tended toward older theaters in traditionally black neighborhoods--The Fillmore Auditorium had been a major stop on the Chitlin Circuit before Bill Graham took it over in 1966--and until then it was still a world removed from the white rock industry.

Carswell, Kelly and their band backed various touring blues musicians, with and without Mel Brown. The most famous of those was guitarist Aaron Thibodeux "T-Bone" Walker. Even this blog does not have enough space for a tangent on T-Bone, but suffice to say he was a fundamental influence on B.B. King, Chuck Berry and Jimi Hendrix, just for starters, so calling him monumental is almost modest. Due to his age and declining health, Walker never really had a chance to play for white audiences in the late 60s, but with his health improving in the early 70s it seemed like he could come back. If he had, Kelly might have gotten some real recognition. Kelly recalled
I ended up playing with T-Bone later on, right up until he passed away, which was really unfortunate because we were just getting ready to go into the studio and do a record. There are some live tapes floating around of stuff I did with T-Bone but they got lost somewhere over the years. If there is a guy out there named Red and you’ve got those tapes…boy I would be forever in your debt!
Kelly has some amazing reminiscences in the Feinberg interview, recalling being backstage with B.B. King, who told him that he owed his whole career to T-Bone Walker, or hearing Bobby "Blue" Bland tell Kelly his life story while killing time, waiting for his band to show up. For a typical suburban musician who had initially learned the blues from records he enjoyed, this was a remarkable opportunity for Kelly to become a part of the music that meant so much to him.

In 1973, it seemed like T-Bone Walker was primed for a comeback, and Kelly was expecting to go record with him down in Los Angeles. Just before that, however, KPFA-fm helped sponsor a big concert at the Berkeley Community Theater in June (1973), which Kelly recalled being dubbed "Night Of The Guitar." Besides great jazz players like Herb Ellis, T-Bone Walker represented the blues along with Shuggie Otis. Kelly and Johnny Carswell had put together a top-flight band to back T-Bone.

By 1973, Kelly's group was called "33," and they also featured local singer Patti Cathcart. My guess is that 33 sometimes just backed players on Bay Area dates, and sometimes they probably went on tour, as well. I'm not sure who else was in the band. In the Feinberg interview, Kelly alluded to "a drummer from the Doobie Brothers" being in 33, but whether that was a then-current (Michael Hossack) or future (Keith Knudsen) Doobie is unclear. Different players must have been in the group at different times, and I think Chris Herold drummed on occasion. Herold's Alternative Service would have been over by 1972, so he would have been more available (other possible members might have been Tom Richards on guitar and Bob Dugan on bass, but I haven't confirmed them).

Kelly described how 33 had worked up a popular rhythm and blues set, and then the star of the show--whether T-Bone Walker or someone else--would come out and do their set. Cathcart, well-known today as half of the duo Tuck And Patti, was probably the main lead singer for 33's set, and provided vocal support for T-Bone or anyone else. On her website, she recalls "my band "33" became T-Bone Walker's backup band in the last years of his life."

Although the "Night Of The Guitar" was apparently a big success, according to Kelly the show was stolen by a young gunslinger named Robben Ford, soon to become quite well-known himself (see here for a picture of Ford with T-Bone and Shuggie Otis at Berkeley in '73). The tide was rising again for T-Bone, and Matt Kelly was looking to rise up with it. Tragically, however, T-Bone Walker became very ill and never performed after the middle of 1973. Walker actually lived a bit longer--I think he died in 1975--but he stopped performing, and Kelly was left with no recordings or even photos of his time on tour with one of the greatest electric guitarists of all time. Still, Kelly probably played with T-Bone the last time he did "Stormy Monday," and that's a great legacy by any standard.

Matt Kelly was thanked by name on the back of the New Riders Of The Purple Sage album Gypsy Cowboy, released in December 1972 on Columbia, so he was definitely hanging with Dave Torbert by then
Back In Rockville
According to Kelly, he had started to cut back on touring the Chitlin Circuit by 1973 in any case. The money would have been less, the theaters would have been more run down, and the old R&B circuit was shrinking. Obviously, a chance to participate in the triumphal return of T-Bone Walker would have been very special, but T-Bone's illness seems to have ended Kelly's run of playing with original bluesmen, for the most part. As a result, the second part of 1973 saw Kelly's return to the Bay Area rock music scene, which he had left back in 1968.

I assume Kelly must have looked up his old friend Dave Torbert when both were in town. Kelly is thanked by name on the back of the New Riders Of The Purple Sage album Gypsy Cowboy, released in December 1972, so we know that they were at least hanging out by the Fall of that year. Kelly would play on the next Riders album, Panama Red, recorded in the Spring of '73, so he was definitely working his way back into the rock scene.  By the end of 1973, Kelly would be in another band, Slewfoot, and on the heels of that a band called Lonesome Janet, both of which would ultimately lead to Kingfish in 1974, but all that will have to wait for the next post.




Friday, October 11, 2013

Richard Greene-violin (career snapshot 1964-1974)

A Dixon Smith photo of Bill Monroe and The Bluegrass Boys performing in 1966. (L-R) Richard Greene, Lamar Grier, Bill Monroe, Peter Rowan, James Monroe.
Violinist Richard Greene is rightly regarded as a giant in American acoustic music of the last few decades. Greene started playing professionally in 1964, and the first decade of his career had some critical intersections with Jerry Garcia. Greene and Garcia had met back in 1964, and in 1973 Greene was invited to join the seminal bluegrass group Old And In The Way. Greene left the group for financial reasons, but the next year he and David Grisman began the Great American String Band. Jerry Garcia was the group's initial banjo player, and that band evolved into the David Grisman Quintet, a seminal ensemble in American acoustic music. Richard Greene isn't usually seen as a major contributor to Jerry Garcia's acoustic music, but he deserves a bigger place than he is usually accorded.

Greene's career has been full of so many recordings and performances that it has been hard to get a handle on it. Greene's role in Old And In The Way is usually glossed over as well, since his place was taken by the great Vassar Clements, and Vassar played on the group's seminal album. However, a recent interview with Richard Greene by scholar and radio personality Jake Feinberg unravels some interesting threads in the Greene story, particularly in his first ten years as a performer. Thus, with accurate information from Greene himself, it's possible to put his career with Old And In The Way and The Great American String Band in its proper context. This post will look at Richard Greene's musical history from 1964 to 1974, with a special emphasis on Greene's musical connections to Jerry Garcia during that time.

In the Feinberg interview, Greene says that he was asked to join Old And In The Way because Jerry Garcia wanted him in the band. Of course, it's most likely that Greene's old pal Peter Rowan recommended him, but Garcia had known Greene back in his bluegrass days. What is intriguing about Richard Greene's early career was not his formidable bluegrass experience, but the fact that an historic stint with Bill Monroe was followed by jug band, jazz and rock groups. In that respect, Greene had more or less replicated Garcia's experience of having been grounded in bluegrass and using that discipline to play a wide variety of music.

Richard Greene On The Jake Feinberg Show
Jake Feinberg, formerly the play-by-play man for the Knoxville Tenneseeans AA baseball team, has a unique show on 1330 KWFN-am in Tucson. Feinberg has weekly interviews with interesting musicians, mostly from the 1960s and 70s. His interviews are up to 2 hours long, and he focuses on the intersection of jazz, rock and world music during that time, particularly in Northern California. Feinberg focuses on the type of musicians who worked with a wide variety of players, often crossing over various genres. The names are not always huge, but they are very familiar to anyone who has spent time looking at the backs of albums--George Duke, Ron McClure, Bob Jones, Emil Richards, Mike Clark, The Jazz Crusaders and Gary Bartz, to name just a few. There are many names that are familiar to Deadheads, too: Howard Wales, Bill Vitt, Melvin Seals, Tony Saunders and Bobby Cochran, for example.

Feinberg has a particular ability to get musicians to talk about their approach to music, and a particular interest in who they played with back in the day. Feinberg's persistence in asking each subject where and with whom they played back in their professional beginnings is invaluable to the likes of me. The Richard Greene interview goes on for nearly two hours (here and here), and is well worth the time to listen to. My quotes from the interview are rather casual transcriptions from my notes.


The Coast Mountain Ramblers (Ken Frankel, Richard Greene and Dave Pollack) at the Ash Grove in 1963
Richard Greene, 1964
The typical thumbnail sketch of Richard Greene has been that he was a classically trained violinist who discovered bluegrass, and his classical training gave him a huge advantage over more casual players.  Greene himself considers the story an exaggeration. According to him, he had taken violin lessons but did not consider himself "trained." Now, I think Greene is being a bit modest--he got so good so fast as a bluegrass player that he was obviously pretty talented, but I take his point that he was no prodigy as a teenager.

Greene discovered bluegrass and old-time fiddle more or less by accident. The guilty party was Ken Frankel. Some readers may recognize the name, as Frankel played bluegrass with Jerry Garcia, David Nelson and others off and on from 1962-1964. The story from Ken Frankel:

Coast Mountain Ramblers - Old Timey Band with Dave Pollack and Richard Greene

I had played music in high school with Dave, who is as good a musician as I have ever met. In 1960 we were undergraduates at Berkeley, and were trying to put together an old-timey group. We put a few notices up looking for a third person, but couldn't find anyone. Richard was an excellent classical violinist from our high school, living in the same place as Dave (the co-op). Out of desperation, we decided to try to teach Richard how to play fiddle. He was a little resistant in the beginning, and made fun of the music. We put a few songs together and played them on a folk radio show (the Midnight Special on KPFA). Much to our surprise, and especially to Richard's surprise, everyone went crazy for us. All of a sudden, Richard was hooked. In the early 1960's, we played on the Midnight Special radio show often, and in small concerts and clubs. In 1963 we won the Ash Grove talent contest, which was a year long event. (Ry Cooder came in second). Our prize was to play for a week at the Ash Grove. We were so successful they held us over for a second week. Shortly after that, Dave and I graduated from Berkeley and went on to other types of endeavors. Richard made fiddle his career, which was a good thing for his many fans.
Feinberg's interview picks up the story in late '63 or so. Greene's breakthrough experience came when he dropped out of college around that time (alluded to in Frankel's story above). Greene had taken a job at a real estate agency. Across the street was The Ash Grove, the legendary folk club at 8162 Melrose Avenue (now The Improv, a comedy club). One day on his lunch break, Greene went over to the Ash Grove. Legendary fiddler Scotty Stoneman was playing for a very few people in the club. Solo fiddle performances are rare, but Stoneman was a rare fiddler indeed. Greene was transfixed hearing Stoneman play what amounted to an endless fiddle solo, hearing the High Lonesome Sound in one of its purest and most imaginative forms.

A Stoneman Family album from the 1960s
Scotty Stoneman had been the fiddler in the Stoneman Family band, and according to Greene he had gotten fired for excessive drinking, and thus was apparently more or less stranded in Los Angeles. Think for a moment how drunk he had to have been to be fired and left behind by his own family? (Although the actual story seems far more complex). Nonetheless, Stoneman was a phenomenal player. According to Greene, he was so transfixed by Stoneman's playing that Greene invited him back to stay at Greene's apartment. Greene effectively took bluegrass fiddle lessons from Stoneman for the next several weeks, although Greene said that the term "lessons" was misleading, since the very un-sober Stoneman just sat around Greene's apartment and played. How influential was Scotty Stoneman's fiddle playing for other musicians? Let Jerry Garcia tell the story (via Blair Jackson's biography)
I get my improvisational approach from Scotty Stoneman, the fiddle player. [He's] the guy who first set me on fire — where I just stood there and I don’t remember breathing. He was just an incredible fiddler. He was a total alcoholic wreck by the time I heard him, in his early thirties, playing with the Kentucky Colonels… They did a medium-tempo fiddle tune like ‘Eighth of January’ and it’s going along, and pretty soon Scotty starts taking these longer and longer phrases — ten bars, fourteen bars, seventeen bars — and the guys in the band are just watching him! They’re barely playing — going ding, ding, ding — while he’s burning. The place was transfixed. They played this tune for like twenty minutes, which is unheard of in bluegrass. I’d never heard anything like it. I asked him later, ‘How do you do that?’ and he said, ‘Man, I just play lonesome.’  
Soon after Greene rescued Stoneman, Stoneman hooked up with Clarence White and the Kentucky Colonels. Garcia was already friends with Clarence and his brothers, so he would have heard Stoneman play many times. Indeed, there is a famous Kentucky Colonels live album recorded in 1964 (Living In The Past, originally released in 1976 on Sierra Records), where Garcia introduces the band during a Palo Alto performance (November 15, 1964 at the Comedia Del'larte Theater on Emerson Street).

The combination of having had fun in college with the Coast Mountain Ramblers and hearing the musical possibilities of bluegrass fiddle from Scotty Stoneman seems to have set Richard Greene on a new musical path. He wasn't interested in college, nor in real estate, but he got serious about bluegrass. Since he was based in Southern California, he played a little with the Pine Valley Boys, a Berkeley bluegrass band who had relocated South. At the time, the Pine Valley Boys included David Nelson on guitar. Greene had probably already met Garcia from his Berkeley days, but if not, he would have likely met him in 1964, through either the Pine Valley Boys or the Kentucky Colonels, as the California bluegrass world was quite tiny[update: Commenter Nick found an interview with Greene which says he met and played with Garcia around 1964].

In the second half of 1964, Greene was also a member of another band, The Dry City Scat Band. Bluegrass bands aren't like rock bands, in that much of the material was and is traditional and shared, so it isn't so hard to be a member of more than one bluegrass band. Also, there isn't much work for bluegrass bands, so conflicts are sadly rare. The Dry City Scat Band had evolved out of a Claremont, CA group called The Mad Mountain Ramblers, whose main gig in 1963-64 had been at the "Mine Train" in Disneyland, dressed in Old West gear (one of the few paying bookings for string bands).

The Mad Mountain Ramblers evolved into The Dry City Scat Band, who played mostly bluegrass with the occasional old-time string band number, a good match for Greene's experience. Dry City featured two other players besides Greene who went on to have substantial careers, namely banjoist David Lindley and mandolinist Chris Darrow, who both went on to have significant professional careers in the Los Angeles studios. Greene's easy transition into the studio scene in the 1970s was probably eased by having played with such established players many years earlier. The Dry City Scat Band mostly just played the Ash Grove, particularly two long runs: June 30-July 19 and September 22-October 11, 1964. Yet out of these thin connections, Greene somehow became a member of the first and most important bluegrass band, Bill Monroe And His Bluegrass Boys.

Bill Monroe And His Bluegrass Boys
Bill Monroe was a popular country singer prior to 1940, often performing as a duo with his brother Charlie. However, late in 1940 he made a conscious effort to create a new style of music, an effort that succeeded completely. At a time when music was moving forward but rural life in the South was changing, Monroe invented bluegrass, a style that had traditional harmonies and acoustic instruments like "old-time" music, but played at a breakneck pace in a sophisticated style, like be-bop. Bluegrass became a popular style, appealing particularly to people from the Appalachians who had relocated to big cities for factory work.

There were many other bluegrass bands besides the Bluegrass Boys, but Bill Monroe was the godfather. He also became a regular performer on the Grand Ole Opry. However, by the late 1950s, while Monroe remained a country music legend, he was no longer a popular artist on the radio, and he was reduced to being able to tour only by using a pickup band of local musicians. They would know his material--it was famous--but they wouldn't be rehearsed and they weren't his band. What saved Bill Monroe and bluegrass was the folk revival. Young kids in the suburbs, like David Grisman (Hackensack, NJ) and Jerry Garcia (Menlo Park, CA) went from hearing Joan Baez and the Kingston Trio to hearing bluegrass, and they were hooked. Monroe's star rose again, and he started having a regular band, tight and rehearsed in his trademark High Lonesome sound.

By the early 1960s, thanks to the folk revival, a new breed of suburban teenager had gotten interested in Bill Monroe and bluegrass, and Monroe had started playing for suburban "folk" audiences as well as his traditional Southern fans. In 1962, Monroe had his first "Northern" band member. Bill Keith was a banjo player from Amherst, MA, and had initially learned bluegrass from records. Keith was a phenomenal, revolutionary, banjo player, however, and a huge influence on the likes of Jerry Garcia. No small part of Keith's impact on the likes of Garcia was the fact that he had come from a suburban college town, just like Garcia had.

The cover of Bill Monroe's 1967 MCA album Bluegrass Time, when Richard Greene and Peter Rowan were members of the Bluegrass Boys
Bill Monroe And The Bluegrass Boys, 1964-1967
Although Monroe had a more fluid approach to bands than some performers, since his arrangements were fairly fixed, he still generally had a core band that he worked with. From the end of 1964 until the middle of 1967, Monroe had a quintet that was largely "Northern" save for himself and his son
Bill Monroe-mandolin
Peter Rowan-guitar [Wayland, MA]
Richard Greene-fiddle [Los Angeles, CA]
Lamar Grier-banjo [suburban Maryland]
James Monroe-bass
Peter Rowan had been a folk musician in the Martha's Vineyard area in Massachusetts, but he too had discovered bluegrass. Rowan is well-known to Deadheads, of course, but Rowan and Greene started playing together in late '64 in the Bluegrass Boys. I am not sure how Greene got hooked up with Monroe. It is interesting that the Summer of '64 is when Jerry Garcia and Sandy Rothman made their pilgrimage to the bluegrass festival in Brown County, IN, in the hopes of getting into Monroe's band. Garcia supposedly hovered around Monroe, waiting for an opportunity to meet him, in the hopes of becoming his banjo player, but no such opportunity arose. Ironically, some months later Rothman ended up in Monroe's band for a few weeks. Had either of them stuck around, they might have connected with Rowan and Greene in the Bluegrass Boys lineup that was to follow.

The Rowan/Greene/Grier configuration of the Bluegrass Boys worked on one contemporary album, Bluegrass Time, released on Decca Records in 1967, after Greene and Rowan had left the band. Greene and Rowan also appear on a few tracks on some archival live material. Rowan jumped ship to form a rock band called Earth Opera in Cambridge, MA with another young, suburban bluegrasser from Hackensack, NJ, mandolinist David Grisman. (This topic will be the subject of another post entirely). Richard Greene, meanwhile, seems to have stayed on the East Coast, eager to expand his musical horizons.

The August, 1967 Reprise album Garden Of Joy, by The Jim Kweskin Jug Band. Richard Greene had joined the Cambridge, MA based group by the end of the band's tenure.
Jim Kweskin Jug Band
The Jim Kweskin Jug Band had been a popular act on Vanguard Records since 1963. In fact, Garcia and others had gone to see the Kweskin band in Berkeley (at the Cabale on March 11, 1964), since they had already formed a jug band, and the Kweskin crew were the leading practitioners. By 1967, the Kweskin Jug Band had been through a number of personnel changes, but while sounding a bit outdated they were still a draw. They were based in Cambridge, MA, and Greene and banjoist Bill Keith played on their final album, Garden Of Joy, released on Reprise in August of 1967. Geoff and Maria Muldaur were the singers (joined by Kweskin on guitar and Fritz Richmond on bass). The disintegration of the Kweskin band is too strange to discuss here (google "Mel Lyman"), but suffice to say Greene and the others had to move on.

The back cover of Planned Obsolecsence by The Blues Project, originally released on Verve in 1968 (this is actually the cd released on One Way in 1996)
The Blues Project, 1968
The Blues Project had been founded in Greenwich Village in 1965, and they had been a seminal band on the early psychedelic circuit. The Blues Project had shown that a bunch of white suburban guys could play funky blues in an imaginative way. They put out some great albums on Verve Records and were influential everywhere they played, not least in San Francisco. When the group had disintegrated in mid-1967, organist Al Kooper and guitarist Steve Katz had gone on to form Blood, Sweat and Tears, who had become hugely successful. Kooper had then in turn split from BS&T, but he had gone on to fame as a producer and performer in his own right, so the Blues Project name definitely had some hip cred.

Two members of the Blues Project, bassist Andy Kulberg (b.1944-d.2002) and drummer Roy Blumenfield, had moved to the Bay Area by early '68. They formed a new band, and they called themselves The Blues Project, presumably because it helped them get gigs. The other members of the group were guitarist John Gregory and saxophonist Don Kretmar, both San Francisco musicians. However, Kulberg and Blumenfield seemed to have realized that trying to live up to the first Blues Project was never going to be a winning proposition, and they evolved into a band called Seatrain. Richard Greene, no doubt friends with Kulberg and Blumenfield from the East Coast folk scene, returned to California to join the group.

However, it appeared that the former members of the Blues Project still owed an album to Verve, so they couldn't record as Seatrain. Thus the members of Seatrain, including Greene, made an album called Planned Obsolescence, credited to the Blues Project, which was released on Verve in 1968. The same band members then recorded the first Seatrain album for A&M, which was released later in 1968. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the Planned Obsolescence album had little to do with the original Blues Project, and that only the most trivial material was used for the album. Such was the 60s. It was hardly the strangest thing in the recording history of the Blues Project, who would go on to reform and release various albums over the years.

A Berkeley Barb ad from February 14, 1969 for Berkeley's Freight And Salvage. High Country was booked for Thursday February 20. Richard Greene may have played with the band (David Nelson definitely did).
High Country, 1969
Greene had returned to California in 1968, apparently to play in an electric rock band in Marin County. Nonetheless, he found some time to play a little bluegrass on the side, while still playing with Seatrain. Thus Greene was a sort of adjunct member of a Berkeley bluegrass band in early '69. Butch Waller, formerly of the Pine Valley Boys, had returned to the North and he had formed High Country in 1968, initially as a duo. Their home base was Berkeley's Freight And Salvage. Various members came and went throughout 1969. When Greene did play with High Country, he often played with David Nelson, another old pal of Waller's (I have addressed this murky subject elsewhere).

The first Seatrain album, released on A&M Records in 1969
Seatrain, 1969
Sometime in early 1969--or possibly in late 1968--A&M Records released the first Seatrain album, called Seatrain, according to the practices of the time. Seatrain included all the five players who had been on the Planned Obsolescence album (Gregory, Kretmar, Greene, Kulberg and Blumenfield). However, lyricist Jim Roberts, Kulberg's songwriting partner, was also listed as a full member. The album wasn't bad, and a lot of care had been taken in the writing and recording of the songs, but the first Seatrain album had a sort of stiff, baroque feel. It appears that in the Spring of '69, Seatrain relocated again, this time from Marin County to Cambridge, MA. 

The 1969 Gary Burton lp Throb, on Atlantic Records, with Richard Greene guest starring on electric violin
Throb-Gary Burton
When Seatrain relocated, it gave Richard Greene a chance to play some real jazz with Gary Burton. Gary Burton is too fascinating a tangent to go into here, but--just to give you a taste--Burton was a groundbreaking vibraphonist who grew up in Nashville, TN, enjoying country and rock along with jazz. The first Gary Burton Quartet, with Larry Coryell on electric guitar, formed in New York in 1967, was a crucially important jazz-rock fusion band. The Quartet could play the Fillmore as well as the Village Vanguard, and shined in both places.

By 1969, Jerry Hahn had taken over the guitar role from Coryell, but the Gary Burton Quartet was still a great band. Greene played amplified violin with them on occasion. When Gary Burton recorded an album at the Newport Jazz Festival on July 20, 1969, in Newport, RI, Greene sat in. As a result, Greene appeared on the album Throb, along with Burton, Hahn, Bob Moses (drums) and Steve Swallow (bass). It's a terrific album, but it has never been released on cd, so it is hard to hear [update: a commenter tells me Throb was released as extra tracks on the Keith Jarrett/Gary Burton cd]. In any case, Seatrain went on tour right after the festival, and Hahn left the group, so although Burton continued (and continues) to have a stellar jazz career, the jazz side of Greene's violin career was left by the wayside.

The second Seatrain album (1970), but the first on Capitol, also called Seatrain, like the one on A&M. Peter Rowan had joined up with old bandmate Richard Greene for this one.
Peter Rowan and Seatrain, 1969-70
When Seatrain returned to the East Coast, they underwent a variety of personnel changes, not all of which I am certain of (and in any case too tangential even for this post). However, the principal change was that Peter Rowan joined the group on guitar and vocals, replacing John Gregory. With Rowan and new keyboard player Lloyd Baskin joining Greene, Kulberg and a drummer, Seatrain's sound became less baroque and more soulful country. However, as an East Coast band, they did not fall into the country rock bag of the Flying Burrito Brothers and The Grateful Dead, even if they shared some musical roots.

Richard Greene and Peter "Panama Red" Rowan at the Freight And Salvage on February 18, 1970
Panama Red with Richard Greene
It seems that Seatrain returned to Marin County for the Fall of 1969 and the Winter of 1970. Besides regular rock gigs, however, some of the members of Seatrain played some bluegrass shows at the Freight And Salvage with various Berkeley musicians. In February, March and April 1970, Peter Rowan and Richard Greene played three shows at the Freight under the billing "Panama Red and Richard Greene." The ad for one month actually indicated that Rowan was 'Panama Red', so it wasn't particularly a secret. Nonetheless, it is very interesting to see that the Rowan's Panama Red persona was in place as early as 1970, even if it seems that the song was probably not written until later.

I would love to know what songs Rowan and Greene did as a duo, and what it sounded like. I assume it was a forum for Rowan's own songs and some choice covers, but it would be intriguing indeed if a tape or even a setlist turned up.

The 1971 Capitol album Marblehead Messenger, by Seatrain
Seatrain, 1970-71
After April 1970, there were no more weeknight bluegrass gigs at the Freight for any members of Seatrain. All signs point to the band having relocated the East Coast again. Capitol laid it on pretty thick, a clear sign that the company had high hopes for the band. The 70-71 lineup was the "classic" lineup of Seatrain that everyone remembers:
Peter Rowan-guitar, vocals
Richard Greene-electric violin
Lloyd Baskin-keyboards, vocals
Andy Kulberg-bass, flute, vocals
Larry Autamanik-drums
Jim Roberts-lyrics
Seatrain carved out an interesting niche. They sang in a country rock style, with a little bit of R&B overtones. Yet they had no lead guitarist, so most of the lead lines were played by Greene on the electric violin. With his classical training, bluegrass chops and jazz experience, Greene was uniquely positioned to be a lead player, even if he played "lead violin" rather than lead guitar.

In the Feinberg interview, Greened describes himself as having been heavily influenced by Jimi Hendrix. He used a wah-wah pedal on stage, probably one of, if not the, first electric violinists to do so. In that respect, Greene followed something like Garcia' arc, taking the music and discipline he learned from bluegrass, electrifying it, and playing at high volume in a rock band. Greene describes himself as "the first electric violinist" in rock. That isn't quite true (I think a guy named Eddie Drennon was first, who played in Bo Diddley's band, and members of the group Kaleidoscope also played electric violin from 1966 onwards), but it's certainly true that Greene was playing electric violin with no road map, and was blazing new trails as he did so.

Seatrain recorded two albums for Capitol in 1970 and 1971, Seatrain and Marblehead Messenger. Both were recorded in London with George Martin. The first Seatrain album on Capitol, released in 1970--rather unfathomably also called Seatrain, just like the '69 A&M album--was the first album George Martin had produced since The Beatles. Capitol would not have sent Seatrain to London to record with Martin if they had not rated them highly.

There is some nice material on the two Capitol albums, and they are very well recorded, but the albums are not exceptional. Seatrain has a nice cover of Lowell George's "Willin'," and Marblehead Messenger has a nice version of Rowan's "Mississippi Moon," but there were no classic FM tracks. Some live Seatrain tapes circulate, on Wolfgang's Vault and elsewhere, and Greene's unique role as lead violinist is well represented. Seatrain opened for a lot of famous bands, at the Fillmore East and elsewhere, and seems to have acquitted themselves well. Greene and Rowan did not lose touch with their bluegrass roots, as their typical show closer was a rocking version of "Orange Blossom Special."

By mid-72 or so, however, Seatrain seemed to have kind of run its course. A fourth Seatrain album, Watch, was released by Capitol in 1973, but it seemed to be made up of old tracks. Rowan played on a few of them, and Greene co-wrote one song, but the album was an afterthought. Rowan, with few options on the table, moved to Marin County, where his brothers were making a record with David Grisman and Richard Loren. Richard Greene appears to have returned to Southern California.

A 1998 cd of the original live broadcast of the impromptu bluegrass group that became known as "Muleskinner."
"Muleskinner" 1972-1973
On February 13, 1973, a KCET-TV program was scheduled to feature Bill Monroe and The Bluegrass Boys. The hour long program planned to feature a live half-hour of Monroe, with an opening live "tribute" set by younger musicians. The group assembled became the basis of what is now known as the "Muleskinner" group (because of the 1974 album), but they didn't actually use the name Muleskinner. As it happened, Monroe's bus broke down in Stockton, and the openers played the entire hour instead. The band for this show was
  • Peter Rowan-guitar, vocals
  • Clarence White-lead guitar
  • David Grisman-mandolin, vocals
  • Richard Greene-violin
  • Bill Keith-banjo
  • Stuart Schulman-bass
Its important to recognize that the musicians went to great lengths to perform at this show. Clarence White was a member of The Byrds at this time, and according to Christopher Hjort's definitive chronology (So You Want To Be A Rock And Roll Star, Jawbone 2008), The Byrds were at Cornell University on February 10 and Rockland Community College in Suffern, NY on February 16. so  White had to log some serious air miles to make the broadcast. Grisman and Rowan lived in Northern California, as probably did Greene, and they would have had to drive down. Keith usually lived on the East Coast, so he most likely had to make a special effort as well. Its a sign of how much respect they had for Bill Monroe and each other that they all made that effort.

The impromptu performance was so satisfying that the musicians played a week at The Ash Grove (March 17-22), the very same club where Greene had first heard Scotty Stoneman. They also made plans to record an album. According to Greene (in the Feinberg interview), the plan was that this ensemble would co-exist with Old And In The Way. An album was recorded, with the idea that it would be a sort of rock-bluegrass hybrid, and John Kahn played bass, with John Guerin on drums. The album Muleskinner-A Potpourri Of Bluegrass Jam was released in 1974, but after Clarence White's death on July 29, 1973, any serious plans for the group were dropped.

Part of the March, 1973 Keystone Berkeley calendar, showing Old And In The Way playing March 12 and 13.
Old And In The Way, 1973
I have also written at length about the genesis of Old And In The Way and Muleskinner, so I won't recap it all. Suffice to say, Jerry Garcia was living at the top of the hill in Stinson Beach, and David Grisman and Peter Rowan were living at the bottom of the hill, and they started to play bluegrass together. Garcia got his long-dormant banjo chops together, John Kahn was added on bass, and in March of 1973 the quartet started playing some bluegrass gigs at rock clubs (and possibly at some tiny place in Stinson Beach). There is a whiff that John Hartford was tried out as a member, but he played few, if any shows, possibly only working on a still-unreleased recording, but I have to assume Hartford's schedule did not allow him to be a member of a part-time band.

Greene's first performance as a member of Old And In The Way was on April 12, 1973, at the Granada Theater in Santa Barbara. Greene went on to play fiddle at most, though not all, of the Old And In The Way shows for April and May. At the time, the band was just a curiousity: Garcia had surprised the rock world by playing as a sideman in the New Riders Of The Purple Sage on a secondary instrument (pedal steel guitar), and here he was doing it again on yet another instrument. Very few California rock fans even knew what bluegrass was. FM broadcasts of Old And In The Way were often the first bluegrass fans that many rock fans had ever heard.

Old And In The Way helped re-invigorate bluegrass in many ways. The most important way, of course, was the fact that Jerry Garcia's presence caused people to actually listen to it. Peter Rowan's original songs made bluegrass sound contemporary, instead of like a museum piece. Finally, unlike most typical bluegrass bands, Old And In The Way had relatively lengthy instrumental breaks that flirted with jazz. This was directly modeled on the style of Scotty Stoneman. Stoneman had influenced Garcia's guitar playing, and now Garcia had a bluegrass band with a fiddler who had actually taken lessons--of a sort--from Stoneman himself.

The free-flowing style of Old And In The Way owed a lot to Richard Greene. Ironically enough, when Greene had to leave the band, Greene was replaced by the even more incredible Vassar Clements, himself a true legend. Clements took flight in Old And In The Way's format, and the other musicians in the band all thought that Vassar was the best soloist in the band. Greene had established the template, however, and it was the critical need to replace him with someone good that caused the band to seek out Clements.

Loggins And Messina, 1973-76
Why did Richard Greene leave Old And In The Way? He was playing great music with friends, and he was able to merge bluegrass with jazz, and the band was rising in popularity. Greene explained the answer in the Feinberg interview: he got offered serious money to go on tour with Loggins And Messina. Old And In The Way gigs paid a little bit, by bluegrass standards, but they were only going to play occasional shows around the Grateful Dead and Garcia/Saunders touring schedule. Old And In The Way wasn't really going to pay Greene's way, and Loggins And Messina would.

Jim Messina had originally been Kenny Loggins' producer, but their initial collaboration went so well that they became a duo. By 1973, they had hit singles and were becoming hugely popular. Loggins And Messina would go on to sell something like 15 million albums in six years. Loggins And Messina were a pop group, but a very musical one. One of the cornerstones of their success was a country music sensibility without all the twangs and songs about trains. They already had a fiddle player in the band, Al Garth, but he also played saxophone and flute. By bringing in Richard Greene, it allowed Loggins And Messina to have a sort of Western Swing sound on stage, with either twin fiddles or fiddle and saxophone.

Interestingly, Greene's connection to Loggins And Messina was through Seatrain. Seatrain had played a number of shows with Poco, back in 1970 when Jim Messina was their lead guitarist. Although apparently they hardly spoke at the time, Messina was definitely listening, and when they needed a versatile violinist, Greene got the call.

According to Greene, Loggins And Messina made so much money touring, they traveled in not one but two jets. One was for Loggins and Messina, and the other was for the band. Obviously, Greene was getting a pretty good wage besides. Greene toured with Loggins And Messina for three years, until the duo finally broke up in 1976, while they were both still friends. Greene may not have played on every tour, but I think he played on most of them. He appears on some tracks on the 'posthumous' Loggins And Messina live album, Finale, releases in 1977. (Unfortunately, as far as I know, Loggins and Messina never did the slow version of "Friend Of The Devil" after '72, so Greene never got to play it).

An ad from the Sunday, May 5, 1974 Oakland Tribune, listing the Great American String Band's upcoming performance at the Keystone Berkeley that night
Great American String Band, 1974
In 1974, although Greene was making his living by touring with Loggins And Messina, he still had time for other music when they were off the road. David Grisman had precipitated the end of Old And In The Way because he wanted to go in a different direction than Peter Rowan. I'm not sure that Greene and Grisman had really played together prior to the 'Muleskinner' show in February 1973, and then Old And In The Way a few months later. Certainly, most of the younger bluegrass players all knew each other, so Greene and Grisman had surely picked a little, but they hadn't been in a band with each other.

By March of 1974, Grisman and Greene had hatched a new band, called The Great American String Band. It was initially based at San Francisco's Great American Music Hall. The goal of the Great American String Band was to play all American music on acoustic instruments. Not just bluegrass, but jazz, folk, blues, swing and pretty much anything else, sometimes all at once. This was a pretty audacious goal, but the remarkable thing about the band was that it ultimately succeeded, and in so doing helped revolutionize American music. Whether you read about "New Acoustic" music, or see a couple of guys in a pizza parlor doing a swinging version of a blues song on mandolin and guitar, that can be traced back directly to the Great American String Band.

The Great American String Band debuted at the Great American Music Hall on March 9-10, 1974. The first night's lineup was Grisman, Greene, David Nichtern on guitar and Buell Niedlinger on bass. For the second night, Jerry Garcia joined them on banjo. Although there were some occasional adjustments to the lineup, Garcia and Greene were in the GASB  through June of 1974. Garcia stopped playing with them after June, mainly due to having too many other commitments. Greene and Grisman continued to play in the GASB through the Fall of '74 (the band was sometimes billed as The Great American Music Band).

However, the Great American String Band ultimately stopped playing, I believe because Greene had too many commitments with Loggins And Messina. The Great American String Band evolved into the David Grisman Quintet, and it was the DGQ that really opened everyone's ears to the possibilities of acoustic music. It did not hurt that the Old And In The Way album was released in February 1975--a mere 16 months after it was recorded--and David Grisman's name became better known in Deadhead circles.

If Richard Greene had been on the Old And In The Way album, it would have been his name that was associated with progressive bluegrass fiddle and the Grateful Dead. If he had stuck with the Great American String Band, then the David Grisman Quintet (under whatever name) would have had two former members of OAITW. Whether that would have been good and bad would be impossible to say, but the fact was that Greene had to make a living, and making Loggins And Messina swing a little on stage was a pretty musical way to make a living, if hardly revolutionary.

Richard Greene's presence in Old And In The Way was not accidental, even if it was only for six weeks or so. Greene represented a straight line from Scotty Stoneman, and he had played with Bill Monroe, so his bluegrass pedigree was all that Jerry Garcia could ask for. And yet in the years before Old And In The Way, Greene had played old-time music, in a jug band, electric jazz and high volume rock and roll.  In that respect, Greene came back to bluegrass in a very similar way that Jerry Garcia did, proud of the tradition and steeped in it, yet eager to enrich it with other kinds of music. Greene's breadth was essential to the foundation of The Great American String Band as well, and yet he departed both seminal groups long before they became famous.

Happily, many years later, the music world has caught up with Richard Greene and he is rightly revered as a master of violin and fiddle, crossing boundaries in a wide variety of ensembles. He may not be using a wah-wah pedal any more, but Greene's wide tastes inform his music in a variety of powerful ways. His presence in Old And In The Way and The Great American String Band was no accident, even though it took several more years for everyone to catch up with what Jerry Garcia and David Grisman already knew.


Richard Greene Discography 1967-76
[this discography is limited to bands where Richard Greene was a member]
Bluegrass Time-Bill Monroe (Decca Spring '67)
Garden Of Joy-Jim Kweskin Jug Band (Reprise August '67)
Planned Obsolescence-Blues Project (Verve 1968)
Seatrain (A&M 1969)
Throb-Gary Burton (1969)
Seatrain (Capitol 1970)
Marblehead Messenger (Capitol 1971)
A Potpourri Of Bluegrass Jam-Muleskinner (Sierra 1974, recorded 1973)
Old And In The Way (Round 1975,  recorded Oct 8 '73)
Finale-Loggins And Messina (Columbia 1977, recorded live mid-70s)
Muleskinner Live: Original Television Soundtrack (Micro Werks 1998, recorded Feb 13 '73)
[For a more complete discography of Greene's work, including many of his session appearances, see the page on his own site]


Friday, August 9, 2013

Jerry Garcia Concert Attendance 1961-90

Palo Alto High School, at 50 Embarcadero Road, as it looks today, where Jerry Garcia saw Joan Baez in concert in 1961 in the auditorium. The old auditorium has long since been replaced.
One of Jerry Garcia's most enduring traits was that he chose playing music over everything else. The Grateful Dead played more shows than almost any band of their era, and yet Garcia had a massive performing career separate from the Dead. He recorded numerous studio albums, played sessions, recorded film soundtracks and generally found a way to make music for as many of his waking hours as he could manage. Although Garcia was famously sociable to those who met him, the truth was his preference was to have a guitar in his hand--or a banjo or anything else--and to be actively making music.

Like any great musician, Garcia had giant ears, and he learned from numerous musicians and recording artists throughout his career. Yet most of the live music he heard was played by musicians on the same bill with him. Early in his career, Garcia had very little money, and as he attained a level of success, he worked so much that he rarely had the time to go out. When the Grateful Dead achieved a certain level of economic success, Garcia responded by forming other groups--the New Riders, Garcia/Saunders, Old And In The Way, and so on--so he still had little time to see other artists.

Because Jerry Garcia's live appearances have been so carefully studied, just about all the times that Garcia has sat in with a band as a guest artist have been documented. However, Garcia was so forthcoming about his interests, and his performing history has been so well known, that we are generally aware when seeing another performer has influenced Garcia's music. At different times, for example, Garcia had mentioned how seeing a Pentangle or a Miles Davis when they shared a bill with the Dead had influenced his music.

Yet there is a short but important list of concerts and performers that Garcia was known to have seen that appears not to have been written out. Garcia liked to perform, and didn't like to hang out, so the number of times Garcia saw a show without playing is surprisingly few. Particularly in later years, I think Garcia attracted an extraordinary amount of attention, and going backstage or sitting in regular seats was probably not a relaxing experience for him. Nonetheless, Garcia did get out once in a while. This post attempts to document every known performance where Jerry Garcia attended the show, but did not perform, nor was scheduled. The emphasis is on different performers, rather than specific dates, although of course I am tremendously interested in actual dates where they are known. Anyone with additions, corrections, insights or entertaining speculation on this subject is encouraged to Comment or email me.

[update] Numerous readers have Commented or emailed me, and the entire Comment thread is at least as interesting as the post itself, and well worth a read. I have updated the post accordingly. Thanks to Light Into Ashes, Jesse, JGMF, ChicoArchivist, Nick, Legs Lambert and the ever-present Anonymous

[update] For a fascinating companion piece to this list, see this amazing post on Jerry Garcia's Record Collection.

ca. 1959, Fillmore, San Francisco and Roseland, Oakland, CA: Rhythm & Blues shows
[update] Tireless scholar and fellow blogger Light Into Ashes seems to have uncovered the earliest concerts that Garcia attended:
In the late 50s, round the time Garcia was going to the School of Fine Arts in SF, he was also going to see R&B shows: "Me and a couple of friends used to go out to black shows, not only at the Fillmore, but also at Roseland over in Oakland. I'd usually hear about the shows on the radio." (Troy, Captain Trips p.14) No bands named.

Joan Baez, circa 1961
1961, Palo Alto High School Auditorium, Palo Alto, CA: Joan Baez
Jerry Garcia was a struggling musician and former GI in 1961. However, he saw Joan Baez at the Palo Alto High School Auditorium and was instantly struck--this was something he could do. Joan Baez had gone to Palo Alto High School, but she hadn't graduated, as her academic father had moved the family to Boston for her senior year. However, she was still a local girl made good, and that had to give some inspiration to Garcia as well.

Both Pigpen and Bill Kreutzmann went to Paly High. Pigpen was probably a student at the time, although he was expelled and did not graduate. Kreutzmann did graduate from Paly (as did I, somewhat later). Paly High (as we all called it) was Palo Alto's first high school, opened in 1898. The old auditorium was replaced in the early 70s (and has probably been replaced again). Paly was not impossibly far from either downtown Palo Alto or Santa Cruz Avenue in Menlo Park, so for a mostly-carless bohemian like the model 1961 Garcia, the fact that he could have walked there if he had to must have made it a relatively attractive event.

[update]: LIA:
Charlotte Daigle also remembered the Joan Baez show at Palo Alto High School in summer 1961:
"Jerry wanted to go to the Joan Baez concert and sit in the front row so he could watch her. He watched her intently, commenting, 'This is great, I can out-guitar her.' Jerry wanted to see what kind of musician she was...he was terribly excited that she was well-known and he was as good on guitar or better." (Troy p.30)
September 1961, Monterey County Fairgrounds, Monterey, CA: Monterey Jazz Festival, with Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Brubeck, John Coltrane with Wes Montgomery, and many others
[update] LIA
In September 1961, Garcia went to the Monterey Jazz Festival. Charlotte Daigle recalled: "It was Jerry's idea to go to the festival. He bought the tickets for us, and we went two days. We had reserved seats, and Jerry took it very seriously. Jazz fans were very formal at the time, and other people were dressed up. Our crowd from Palo Alto was very beatnik-looking, and we stood out from the rest of the audience. It created something of a stir." (Troy p.34)
1962, Fox And Hounds, San Francisco, CA: Peter Stampfel
[update] In a recent and yet-to-be published interview, original Holy Modal Rounder Peter Stampfel says that Garcia told Stampfel he saw him play at the Fox And Hounds, a San Francisco folk coffee house. LIA also found a Garcia quote about that time
"'61 or '62, I started playing coffeehouses, and the guys who were playing around then up in San Francisco at the Fox and Hounds, Nick Gravenites was around then - Nick the Greek they called him - Pete Stampfel from the Holy Modal Rounders, he was playing around there then. A real nice San Francisco guitar player named Tom Hobson that nobody knows about...
I am not aware of any other performers that Garcia saw between 1961 and '64, other than nights he was performing. The Top Of The Tangent opened in early 1963, and a fair number of folk performers must have passed through. I would be very interested to know how many of them Garcia actually saw, outside of the nights he was performing. Garcia was married and living hand-to-mouth in 1963-64, and would not have been able to afford to go out much. [update: there are some interesting points in the Comments about this subject].

[update]: As ever, LIA was able to shed some light
David Nelson recalled Garcia taking him to see Jorma Kaukonen at the Tangent around the summer of 1962 [sic--it actually had to be 1963, The Tangent did not open until January '63]
"Garcia grabbed me and said, 'You gotta hear this guy.' I said, 'Who is he?' Garcia said, 'Jerry Kaukonen, he plays that Reverend Gary Davis and Blind Boy Fuller stuff, he does it right.' I remember going to the Tangent and peering out from the back room, which is where we put our instruments, and hearing him play and looking at Garcia who is looking at me, and we're just going 'Wow!'" (Troy p.39)

1963 or '64, unknown venue, San Jose, CA: New Lost City Ramblers
[update] LIA
One of Garcia's guitar students at Dana Morgan's in 1963/64, Dexter Johnson, recalled, "He turned me on to Mike Seeger and the New Lost City Ramblers. I remember once coming to a lesson and he wasn't there, and on the music stand was a note: 'Gone to New Lost City Ramblers concert in San Jose. See you next week.'" (Greenfield p.41)
Hard to say when Garcia would have first seen the Ramblers - he was already enough of a fan to do songs from their albums in his shows in 1962, so he wouldn't hesitate to go see them if they were anywhere in driving distance. As his folkie friend Marshall Leicester said, "In those days we all wanted to be Mike Seeger."

The first Jim Kweskin Jug Band album, released on Vanguard in 1963, which in its own way spawned a tiny revolution.
March 11, 1964, The Cabale, Berkeley, CA: Jim Kweskin Jug Band
The Cabale, at 2504 San Pablo Avenue, was not Berkeley's first folk club (that was The Blind Lemon), but it was the first important one. Although a tiny little cavern of a place, all the important early 60s folk acts played there. The city of Berkeley was very suspicious, and to this day it is illegal to have a business in Berkeley named "Cabale."

The Jim Kweskin Jug Band had released an album on Vanguard in late 1963, and their unexpected popularity all but single-handedly made jug band music popular. Mother McRee's Uptown Jug Band Champions followed shortly afterwards. Jerry and Sara Garcia and others made a pilgrimage to Berkeley to see them, and it triggered a lot of excitement about the possibilities of making music your own way.

Kweskin Jug Band singer Geoff Muldaur, later a good friend of John Kahn's and an occasional guest with Garcia/Saunders, reflected in a recent interview with Jake Feinberg about the importance of The Jim Kweskin Jug Band for folk musician in general and Garcia in particular. Up until then, even folk performers had "acts:" they dressed a certain way, they had onstage "patter" and a somewhat fixed set. The Jim Kweskin Jug Band was none of those things. The Jug Band wore whatever they happened to be wearing that day, bantered with the audience and generally did the music they felt like playing at that moment. In so doing, Garcia saw the nascent possibility of the existence of the Grateful Dead, even if it wasn't clear to him at the time.

Bluegrass legends Jim and Jesse McReynolds
May 1964, unknown venue, Dothan, AL Jim And Jesse
Sandy Rothman and Jerry Garcia took a trip across America in Garcia's white 1961 Corvair, and it was perhaps the only time in his life that Garcia was more music fan than musician. The principal purpose of the trip was to tape bluegrass musicians. After a stop in Bloomington, IN, to see old friend Neil Rosenberg and visit the "Mr. Tapes" of Bloomington (TV repairman Marvin Wollensak), Jerry and Sandy drove to visit old friend Scott Hambly at an Air Force base in Panama City, FL. Garcia in fact played his first out-of-California gig at an Officer's Club at Tyndall Air Force Base.

In any case, Jerry and Sandy's next stop was Dothan, AL, where they saw and recorded Jim And Jesse. Jim and Jesse McReynolds were one of the great brother duos of bluegrass, and for this week, anyway, Jerry was like the rest of us, hitting the road for the next gig so that he could come back with a good tape.

May 24 1964, Brown County Jamboree, Bean Blossom, IN Bill Monroe and The Bluegrass Boys/other artists
Garcia and Rothman returned to Bloomington for Bill Monroe's annual bluegrass festival, the Gathering Of The Vibes for that crowd. Apparently their tape was ruined, per McNally, and of course Garcia was too shy to approach Bill Monroe for an audition, but it was a great day of bluegrass, and Garcia was just a fan like everyone else that day.

late May 1964, White Sands Bar, Dayton, OH  Osborne Brothers
Garcia and Rothman's next stop was Dayton, where McNally says they got a great tape of the Osborne Brothers. I wonder if copies of these tapes have survived?

early June 1964, Bluegrass Festival, Union Grove, PA
Near the end of their little trip, Garcia and Rothman went to another famous bluegrass festival, in Union Grove, Pennsylvania (near Lancaster). This was where Garcia met David Grisman, so the event would have been historic in any case, but after struggling to hear real bluegrass on the West Coast, Garcia must have enjoyed hearing the real thing in prodigious quantities.

The posthumous 1975 live album of the Kentucky Colonels, Livin' In The Past, recorded November 15, 1964 at the Comedia Theater in Palo Alto, CA
November 15, 1964, Comedia Theater, Palo Alto, CA Kentucky Colonels
We know for a fact that Jerry Garcia saw the Kentucky Colonels at the Comedia Theater in Palo Alto. We know that because an excellent album was released featuring recordings from that show, and on that album we hear the band introduced by Jerry. It's not impossible one of Garcia's bands opened the show, but for now we will treat it as belonging on this list.

The Comedia was a tiny theater on Emerson Street. I think it may have become the Aquarius Movie Theater later in the 60s (for any of you old Palo Altans). Garcia had done the lights there at one point in 1961 (apparently for "Damn Yankees"), and that was where he first met Robert Hunter.

Buck Owens and The Buckaroos, outside of Carnegie Hall, presumably when they performed there on March 25, 1966. The Buck Owens album Carnegie Hall Concert was released on Capitol in July 1966
1964/65, Foresters Hall, Redwood City, CA: Buck Owens and The Buckaroos
According to writer John Einarson, Garcia went with Herb Pedersen and David Nelson, among others, to see Buck Owens and The Buckaroos at the Foresters Hall in Redwood City. The Foresters Hall is at 1204 Middlefield (at Main), and it is still there.The concert was around 1964-65, but I don't know an exact date.

Buck Owens and The Buckaroos were hugely popular, particularly in the West. They were proponents of "The Bakersfield Sound," a more swinging, rock-oriented approach to country music. Although some of the early 60s corniness of their music grates to modern ears, the Buckaroos are as good as a band ever got. Lead guitarist Don Rich and pedal steel guitarist Tom Brumley were hugely influential for rock and country music. Indeed, the Eagles and most of modern (Garth Brooks era) country music owes more to Buck Owens and The Buckaroos than they do to any other band. Even the Beatles had a hit with the Buck Owens song "Act Naturally."

1965, The Ash Grove, Los Angeles, CA: The Kentucky Colonels
[update] Intrepid scholar and Commenter Light Into Ashes reports that Blair Jackson writes, "On a couple of occasions in 1965 he traveled down to the Ash Grove in Los Angeles to see his friends the Kentucky Colonels." (Garcia p.75). The Ash Grove was the legendary folk club at 8162 Melrose Avenue (now The Improv, a comedy club), which was the hub for serious Southern California folk musicians. Garcia also probably saw the Colonels at the Cabale in Berkeley in 1964.

The hugely popular first album on Kama Sutra by The Lovin' Spoonful, called Do You Believe In Magic after the hit single of the same nam
August 4, 1965, Mothers, San Francisco, CA: Lovin' Spoonful
Mother's was Tom Donahue's night club in North Beach, at 430 Broadway, near the future site of The Stone (at 412 Broadway, then called The Galaxie). It was the first avowedly psychedelic night club, although its version of psychedelia was somewhat different than what would follow. The Lovin' Spoonful had a big hit with "Do You Believe In Magic," and the Spoonful played a week or two at Mother's. the Warlocks scrounged up enough money to go.The Warlocks were so impressed that they started playing "Do You Believe In Magic" (McNally p.86).

A poster for the second Family Dog dance, " A Tribute To Sparkle Plenty," held at San Francisco's Longshoreman's Hall on October 24, 1965
October 24, 1965, Longshoreman's Hall, San Francisco, CA: Lovin' Spoonful/The Charlatans
According to McNally (p.96), Lesh, Garcia and other members of The Warlocks went to Marin in the afternoon and then San Francisco. After a meal at Clown Alley, they went to Longshoreman's for the second Family Dog show. Midway through, Phil Lesh grabbed promoter Luria Castell and said "Lady, what this little seance needs is us!" He was right.

LIA (of course), found some great quotes from Garcia about the Family Dog show:
 We ended up going into that rock and roll dance and it was just really fine to see that whole scene - where there was just nobody there but heads and this strange rock & roll music playing in this weird building. It was just what we wanted to see... We began to see that vision of a truly fantastic thing. It became clear to us that working in bars was not going to be right for us to be able to expand into this new idea." (Signpost p.20-21)

And, talking to Ralph Gleason in March '67, he looked at the show from a technical perspective:
"We went to the very first Family Dog show stoned on acid, or maybe it was the second one, the one where the Lovin' Spoonful were... We'd been playing out in these clubs - and we went in there and we heard the thing. And from the back of the hall you couldn't hear anything. You could hear maybe the harmonica. As you moved around you could hear a little of something, a little of something else, but you could never hear the whole band, unless you were right in front of it, and in that case you couldn't hear the vocal. So in our expanding consciousness we thought, the thing to do obviously, when you play in a big hall, is to make it so that you can hear everything everywhere. How do we go about this, we thought? And the most obvious thing was, we just turn up real loud. But that's not exactly where it is... It's more important that it be clear than loud." (GD Reader p.28-29)

July 4, 1966 Greek Theatre, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Jefferson Airplane/Greenbriar Boys/others
[update] The UC Berkeley Folk Festival was an annual weekend extravaganza from 1958-70. In later years many rock bands played. On the final afternoon concert of the 1966 Festival, the headliners were the Jefferson Airplane, who at the time considered themselves "Folk-Rock." Also on the bill were the Greenbriar Boys, probably featuring Frank Wakefield, which likely explains why there is a photo of Jerry Garcia hanging out backstage with Jorma Kaukonen and Marty Balin (yes I have seen it). Jerry saw the Airplane all the time, but the Greenbriar Boys would have been special.

July 26, 1966, Cow Palace, Daly City, CA: Rolling Stones/Standells/McCoys/Trade Winds/Jefferson Airplane/Sopwith Camel
Jerry Garcia attended the Rolling Stones Cow Palace show as a roadie for the Jefferson Airplane, apparently the only way he could afford to see the Stones.

October 6, 1966, Basketball Pavilion, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA: Butterfield Blues Band/Jefferson Airplane
Anonymous
The Airplane and Butterfield played at Stanford on October 6, 1966, the day acid became illegal in California. They split a $2,500 fee. Garcia sat right behind me.
The Butterfield Blues Band and the Jefferson Airplane headlined three memorable weekends at the Fillmore and Winterland in October of 1966. They had different opening acts on the bill, and on the middle weekend the Dead were booked. On Thursday, October 6, however, Butter and the 'Plane were at the Stanford basketball pavilion. This was the old gym at Serra and Galvez, now called Burnham Pavilion. The facility is currently used for other sports, as the Men's Basketball team plays at nearby Roscoe Maples Pavilion, which opened in 1969.

October 6, 1966, was quite a day. As the Commenter says, LSD was declared illegal in California. The Grateful Dead played a free concert in the Golden Gate Park Panhandle for thousands of people, and the entire hip, long-haired community in the Bay Area found out that there were a lot more of themselves than they had thought. Since October 6 was a Thursday, Butter and the Airplane could play Stanford, but Garcia would have been done by the afternoon, and would have been available to see the show. Legend has it that Mike Bloomfield borrowed Jorma's guitar that night.

Garcia's presence at the Stanford show may have been no coincidence. I know that Ken Kesey was at the Panhandle show. I have heard reliably that there was a free midnight concert scheduled for the San Francisco State campus, with the Dead, Airplane and Butterfield, effectively an Acid Test, if now an illegal one. Supposedly the police were very concerned with security, and Kesey and the bands agreed to cancel the event. Strange as this may sound, on the previous weekend the police had killed a young black man, and there had been riots in the Fillmore district, so the atmosphere in San Francisco that week was hardly peaceful.

June 1967, Garrick Theater, New York, NY: The Mothers Of Invention
[update] LIA:  
Lesh wrote in his book that he took Garcia, Weir & Kreutzmann to see Frank Zappa & the Mothers at the Garrick, upstairs from the Cafe au Go Go in June '67. He says it was the day before they started their Cafe au Go Go run - but that would make it the evening of May 31, the day the Dead arrived in NY?
The Grateful Dead's first beachhead in Manhattan was a two-week run at the Cafe Au Go Go in Greenwich Village. At the very same time, Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention had a summer long residency at the tiny Garrick Theater, above the Au Go Go. The marquee said "Absolutely Free." The lineup in June of 1967 would have been the classic early Mothers, with Ray Collins on vocals, Bunk and Buzz Gardner on horns, along with Motorhead Sherwood, Don Preston on keyboards, Roy Estrada on bass, and Billy Mundi and Jimmy Carl Black (the Indian of the group) on drums. I doubt Ian Underwood or Artie Tripp had joined yet. 

My cousin actually attended a Garrick show on July 18, his 13th birthday (his notoriously cheap father thought the show would be free). To open the show, the quite unattractive Mothers came out in dresses and did a Supremes medley. Then it got progressively weirder. So whichever night he went, Garcia probably saw a pretty way-out show. A reasonable facsimile (albeit with Underwood on board) would be the album Tis The Season To Be Jelly, recorded on September 20, 1967 in Stockholm.

Ramrod and some other crew members would apparently participate in some of the madness with the Mothers when the Dead were not playing. According to the memory of Dead manager Rock Scully (in his book Living With The Dead), Frank Zappa’s enmity for the Dead partially stems from these two weeks when The Mothers were playing upstairs at The Garrick while the Dead played in the basement at the Au Go Go. The perpetually anti-drug Zappa resented that the Mothers would sneak downstairs to get high with the Dead. The Mothers were deathly afraid of being caught by Zappa, knowing that the punishment was more rehearsal.


August 22, 23, 24 or 25, 1967, Fillmore, San Francisco, CA: Butterfield Blues Band/Cream/Southside Sound System
August 29,30, 31 or September 1, 1967, Fillmore, San Francisco, CA: Cream/Electric Flag/Gary Burton Quartet
[update]  LIA reports
Garcia definitely saw Cream at the Fillmore in September 1967, apparently more than once; he lavished praise on Cream's shows in an interview later that month. Cream played at the Fillmore from August 22-September 3, 1967 - the Dead were out of town for a couple weekends, but Garcia would have had ample opportunities to see Cream during the week.
The Dead played Lake Tahoe on August 19 and August 25-26, and, somewhat amazingly, the hotel was so tacky that Garcia and Mountain Girl camped for a day or two. However, LIA has found a strong suggestion that Garcia saw Cream both weeks, suggesting that he zipped back to San Francisco for a few days.
"I would say the Cream are damn near the best group there is... Their music is really strong. I mean, really strong... They're much better musicians than Jimi Hendrix... You should have seen them at the Fillmore...cause they played with a lot of very heavy bands. They played with Gary Burton's band. They played with the Electric Flag. They played with Paul Butterfield's band and with Charlie Musselwhite's band. And they made them all sound pretty old-fashioned..."
So he lists all of the bands who played with Cream in the two-week run, and they all came up short... That's what makes me think he saw Cream in both those weeks.
Cream's incredible two-week stand at the Fillmore made them. Already popular from the first free-form FM rock station, KMPX-fm, the format of two hour-long sets induced Cream to jam out their songs, since they had so few. The results were sensational, for the band, the audience and the music industry as a whole. The Gary Burton Quartet, with Larry Coryell on guitar, was also a brilliant, groundbreaking group. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band were still powerful, featuring Elvin Bishop on guitar and David Sanborn on alto sax, and Harvey Mandel and Charlie Musselwhite led the Southside Sound System, so it was a truly impressive weekend at the Fillmore. The Electric Flag, with Mike Bloomfield and Nick Gravenites, were very talented, but notoriously erratic live.

December 1967, Carnegie Hall, New York, NY: American Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leopold Stokowski perform Charles Ives' 4th Symphony
[update] LIA has another remarkable addition
It's not rock, but Phil mentions that he & the rest of the band went to see a performance of Charles Ives' 4th Symphony when they were in New York in December 1967 (at Carnegie Hall, the American Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leopold Stokowski) - this was a key influence on the Anthem album.


Cream's immortal Wheels Of Fire album, released on Atco Records in August 1968. The live half of this double album was recorded March 7, 8 and 10 at the Fillmore and Winterland in San Francisco

March 1 or 2, 1968; Winterland, San Francisco, CA: Cream/Big Black/Loading Zone or
March 10, 1968: Winterland, San Francisco, CA: Cream/James Cotton/Blood, Sweat & Tears
Cream was the biggest and most exciting touring live act in 1968, and the band that really cemented the synergy between FM airplay and live performance as a pathway to huge record sales, all without benefit of a conventional hit. We know for a fact that Garcia saw Cream during the historic run in 1968 when they recorded the live parts of Wheels Of Fire over two weekends at the Fillmore and Winterland. We know that because Mickey Hart talked about it.  The indispensable Deadessays blog has a complete account, but the key quote is this one, from Mickey Hart in a 1981 interview in the great English fanzine Comstock Lode:
"Ginger Baker did it for me once at the Winterland with Cream, we'd just finished mixing Aoxomoxoa or one of those [sic-it was actually Anthem Of The Sun], and we walked in just as he was getting into his solo. It was amazing. I turned to Jerry and said, 'They have to be the best band in the world,' and he said, 'Tonight they are the best band in the world.' They were that night. 
It's hard to be certain of the exact date that Garcia saw Cream, and it's not impossible he saw them more than once. Cream played two weekends at Winterland, with some shows at the Fillmore as well. Cream played Friday and Saturday March 1-2 and then again on March 8-9-10 (they played Fillmore on Sunday March 3 and Thursday March 7). Since the Grateful Dead played the Melodyland Theater at Disneyland on March 8 and 9, we know that Garcia and Hart couldn't have seen those shows. There's also a photo of Garcia and Eric Clapton hanging out in Sausalito on the afternoon of March 10 (Cream was staying in Sausalito), so that seems to add to the likelihood of Garcia going to Winterland on Sunday, March 10, and maybe he did.

However, I would like to submit the possibility that Garcia and Hart saw Cream at Winterland on Friday March 1 or Saturday March 2. Most analysts routinely assume that the Grateful Dead were playing that weekend, since Deadlists shows them performing at the mysterious Looking Glass in Walnut Creek. In fact, JGMF has looked into this, and there is no sign that those shows ever took place, whatever The Looking Glass may have been, if it even existed. Whatever may have been scheduled and canceled in Walnut Creek, I think the Dead preferred to work on Anthem Of The Sun that weekend, rather than scramble to find another gig. Thus, when the night's work was over, Garcia and Hart would have been free to check out Cream. Anthem was being remixed at Columbus Recorders, at 906 Kearny Street (at Jackson), just 2 miles from Winterland (at Post and Steiner), so dropping by after work was done would have been easy.

A poster for the Bill Graham-produced Ornette Colenan show at Fillmore West on August 5, 1968
August 5, 1968, Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA: Ornette Coleman
In the recent book Owsley And Me: My LSD Family (by Rhoney Gissen Stanley and Tom Davis, Monkfish Press, 2013), Rhoney Gissen says that Garcia and other members of the Grateful Dead "family" attended the Ornette Coleman show at Fillmore West.

This Monday night jazz show at Fillmore West does not usually appear on Fillmore West lists (excepting the best one, of course), because those lists are mostly lists of posters, not concerts. However, Graham promoted this show, and even printed a poster, but it was not part of the collectible rock series, so the event has been obscured. I have no idea how many people attended the show.

Ralph Gleason's column in the SF Chronicle from Sunday, November 9, 1969
November 9, 1969, Oakland Coliseum Arena, Oakland, CA: Rolling Stones/Ike & Tina Turner/Terry Reid (early and late shows)
The Rolling Stones played two shows at the Oakland Coliseum, an event described in detail by Sam Cutler in his book You Can't Always Get What You Want (2010: ECW Press). Keith Richards blew his amp during the first show, so the second show was delayed while the Grateful Dead's crew raced back to Novato to get Garcia's rig as a replacement. The late show was immortalized on a legendary bootleg called Liver Than You'll Ever Be.

The Byrds Untitled album was released in September 1970
August 21-23 , 1970, Ash Grove, Los Angeles, CA: Freddie King/The Byrds
I read in a Wolfgang's Vault comment thread that I can't recover that Garcia dropped in to see The Byrds when they played The Ash Grove. I'd love to get confirmation of this. Freddie King had an extended booking there that week, and The Byrds were added at the last minute. The Byrds were too big to "need" to play an LA club date, but sometimes they did such things, to work on new material or just have some fun. According to Christopher Hjort's indispensable Byrds chronology So You Want To Be A Rock And Roll Star (2008: Jawbone Books), the Byrds were supposed to have played "Fiesta Da Vida" in Anza, CA, in Riverside County. It was apparently supposed to be held at the Cahuilla Indian Reservation, but the Riverside County Sheriff blocked it at the last minute, so the Byrds were available.

The Kentucky Colonels had been good friends with Jerry Garcia and Sandy Rothman since 1964, and indeed they had driven across much of the country together. Clarence White, a true guitar giant on both electric and acoustic guitar, was a significant influence on Garcia as well. White played some amazing electric guitar with The Byrds--if you haven't heard live Byrds from 1969-73 with Clarence, you're missing out--and if this sighting was accurate, it's nice that on one of his rare "nights out" Jerry went to check in with his old friend. I don't know what Garcia would have been doing in Los Angeles, but perhaps he had business with Warner Brothers. Certainly the Dead were not booked, since their sound system was on tour with the Medicine Ball Caravan. In any case, the Dead did play an acoustic show in Los Angeles the next weekend, so Garcia's presence isn't so far-fetched.

[update] LIA found the link to the Wolfgang's Vault Comment
I was at this show. Freddie was the opening act for the Byrds! Jerry Garcia was in the audience. One of the most memorable shows I had the good luck to be at. Freddie tore the place down. Hot pink satin suit, white frilly shirt with French cuffs. He took his coat off after the first song and ripped! I never saw anyone sweat so much. just BURNIN!

1970 or '71, The Crossroads, Bladensburg, MD: Roy Buchanan
[update] Guitarist Roy Buchanan had been a legendary guitarist in the 50s and early 60s with Ronnie Hawkins and others, but by the late 60s he was a family man. He pretty much only played at one bar in suburban Washington, DC. Over time, visiting rock musicians, particularly English guitarists, passed the word around, and many guitarists made a pilgrimage to see Buchanan when they were in town. Eventually, Buchanan became such a legend that PBS made a documentary about him. LIA reports
Garcia apparently saw Roy Buchanan at the Crossroads nightclub in Bladensburg, Maryland sometime in 1970-71.
Garcia appeared in a TV documentary on Buchanan that aired in November 1971, saying, "He's probably just the most original country-style rock & roll guitar player, a Fender guitar player. He has the nicest tone, the most amazing chops technically, super fast. And much neglected."
The thing is, Buchanan didn't have any albums out yet. He'd been playing in the houseband at the Crossroads since summer/fall 1970 - I'm not sure when Garcia could have been in Maryland in 1971, but possibly he made a trip during the Dead's fall 1970 east-coast tour. (At that point Buchanan was an unknown, but word-of-mouth about him was going around the Washington DC area - the Washington Post ran an article on him in Dec 1970 - and some folks were even traveling from New York to see him.)
Kenny Burrell's classic album Midnight Blue, released on Blue Note in 1963
1971, El Matador, San Francisco, CA: Kenny Burrell
Tony Saunders was interviewed by journalist and scholar Jake Feinberg, and he had a variety of interesting revelations (continued here). One of the interesting details was that when Garcia found out that Merl Saunders knew Kenny Burrell, Jerry and Merl went to see Burrell play live in San Francisco, and hung out with him either before or after the show. The El Matador was the upscale jazz club in North Beach, at 492 Broadway, from back when jazz was popular music. They still had fine music, however, if not always particularly far out.

Kenny Burrell is one of the deans of jazz guitar, inevitably funky and sophisticated, but in a cool, laid back way, where the notes he doesn't play are as important as the ones he does. Garcia's playing in the earliest incarnations of the Garcia-Saunders band seems to owe something to Burrell, and it seems it was not a coincidence.

[update] LIA found the quote from Merl Saunders, in Robert Greenfield's oral biography of Garcia:
I found more details on the early-70s Kenny Burrell show, from Merl Saunders:
"One night, Jerry called me. 'Merl, you know Kenny Burrell?' I said, 'Yeah, I know Kenny Burrell, he's at the El Matador. Why don't we go see him?' After the show was over, Jerry wanted to meet Kenny Burrell. He asked him questions, and Kenny didn't know who in the hell Jerry was until after I talked to Kenny the next day." (Greenfield p.139)
October 14 or 15, 1971, Berkeley Community Theater, Berkeley, CA: Crosby And Nash
[update] LIA: in the Signpost to New Space interview (p.49, my edition), Garcia says, "I saw Mickey last night, he was at the Crosby & Nash concert."

"Killing Me Softly With His Song" was a big hit for Roberta Flack in early 1973
October 1, 1972, Civic Center, Springfield, MA: Roberta Flack
This one is a little different. The Grateful Dead were between gigs--September 30 in Washington, DC and October 2 at Springfield Civic. On the night off, however, and the night before the Dead's Springfield gig, Roberta Flack was playing there. The sound man was an old pal of the Dead's, former Fleetwood Mac sound wizard Stuart 'Dinky' Dawson, who by this time had his own sound company in Boston.

Garcia and Owsley sat at the mixing board with Dinky, checking out his state-of-the-art system, thinking about how they could build their own, research that would lead to The Wall Of Sound. Roberta Flack is a fine singer and had a great band, so even if Garcia was there for the PA, he probably enjoyed the music (there is a tape of it on Wolfgang's Vault). I have a post about this night, drawing from Dinky Dawson's description of the night from his fine book Life On The Road (for the record, Dawson's biggest problem was that he was very thirsty, since he refused to drink any liquid with Owsley around).

October 1973, The New Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Bob Marley And The Wailers
[update] Garcia was apparently intrigued enough by Bob Marley and The Wailers to check them out at the New Matrix, where they played several shows in October of 1973 (17, 18, 19, 20, 29 and 30). The Matrix had closed in 1971, but it reopened in 1973 on 412 Broadway, an address that Garcia and his fans would come to know well some years later when it became The Stone.

Planet Waves, by Bob Dylan and The Band, was released on Asylum Records in January 1974
January 14, 1974, Oakland Coliseum Arena, Oakland, CA: Bob Dylan And The Band
Joel Selvin of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that every San Francisco luminary was at the two 1974 Bob Dylan concerts in Oakland (early and late shows), although I no longer recall if he explicitly mentioned the Dead. So Garcia's presence is unconfirmed for now, but I would be pretty surprised if he didn't make it. I posited the idea that Garcia's presence at the show caused him to bring back "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" a few times in 1974.

May 29, 1976, Paramount Theater, Oakland, CA: Bob Marley And The Wailers
[update] JGMF: There are also eyewitness accounts to Garcia seeing BMW at the Paramount in Oakland in, I think, May 1976.

The Paramount, built in the 30s, was restored in the mid-70s, and Bill Graham put on a fair number of shows there for a while. Its a beautiful theater, but the sound isn't great, and deserved or not, downtown Oakland wasn't an appealing destination for many suburban fans. Nonetheless, seeing a show at the Paramount remains a treat. Marley and The Wailers did two shows. Garcia would have been rehearsing with the Dead over at the Orpheum, so he probably caught the late show.


The Last Waltz, by The Band, was a triple album commemorating their "final" concert at Winterland on November 25, 1976
November 25, 1976, Winterland, San Francisco, CA: The Last Waltz with The Band
The Last Waltz was the can't miss rock event of 1976 in San Francisco. Once again, Selvin reported that "everybody" was there, although I'm fairly certain he mentioned the Grateful Dead this time. Once again, I'd be surprised if even the homebound Garcia missed this one, but I don't have confirmation.

April 1, 1979, Old Waldorf, San Francisco, CA: Dire Straits
[update] LIA found an interesting quote from Garcia, in the 1985 Jas Obrecht article
Q: Any bands you'd go out of your way to see?
Garcia: "There are a few, yeah. Let's see - the last band I went to see is Dire Straits. That was the last band I went to see live, a couple of years ago. There are others that I would, but most of the time I'm out working and stuff. So I don't really get a chance. But there are more that I would go to see if I were in a situation where I wasn't working nights so much. I would go out more. But yeah, there's actually a lot of music that I would go to see. It's just the opportunity doesn't present itself that often. That's the problem. Time and space, you know."
I'm guessing a little bit about the date, but Dire Straits did not play the Bay Area very much. They played The Old Waldorf on March 31/April 1, and Reconstruction had a show the first night, so that points towards April 1. At the time, "Sultans Of Swing" was hitting, and Dire Straits was already a kind of retro sensation. For that initial tour, the Straits were just a simple four-piece.

The River, by Bruce Springsteen, released in 1980
August 20-24, 1981? Sports Arena, Los Angeles, CA: Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band
I have never gotten confirmation on this. The San Francisco Chronicle used to have a great column called Question Man, and in one 1982 edition, backstage at The Bammies, she asked various musicians who was the best performer today. Jerry Garcia said the best performer today (in 1982) was Bruce Springsteen. I had the yellowed clipping for years, but I can't find it now.

This raises the question of when, or even if, Jerry saw a Bruce show. For years I had assumed he had seen one of Oakland shows on The River tour (October 27-28, 1980), but in fact the Dead were at Radio City Music Hall. Bruce did not play the Bay Area until 1984, so when did Jerry see him, if he did? The Dead were in Southern California in August 1981, so maybe Garcia saw one of the Sports Arena shows, right before the Dead's Long Beach show. Given how few concerts Garcia saw from this point on, I really hope Garcia got to see Bruce and the E Street Band in their prime.

[update] Given that we have learned that by 1985 Garcia had not seen anybody since Dire Straits, when did Garcia see Bruce? Maybe he just saw a video or something, and drew his opinion from that. Too bad, if it was the case.

July 28, 1981, The Stone, San Francisco, CA: High Noon
 A commenter on a different post noted
Michael Hinton posted this little vignette at Facebook: "Played all 3 [Keystone family] venues in 1981 w/Mickey Hart's band High Noon. Most memorable was when Jerry Garcia came backstage and shook my hand at The Stone. Mickey said "we actually got Jerry to leave his house!"" Based on your list, this had to have been 7/28/81.
Mickey Hart put together a little band called High Noon, which I have written about them extensively elsewhere. High Noon mostly featured the original songs of Jim McPherson, who also played piano and guitar. Other band members included Merl Saunders, guitarist Michael Hinton, bassist Bobby Vega, harmonicat Norton Buffalo and percussionist Vicki Randle, with almost everyone singing.

June 1985, Opera House, San Francisco, CA: Wagner's Ring Cycle
[update} LIA
Also, in June 1985, Phil persuaded Garcia & others in the Dead to see Wagner's Ring opera done by the San Francisco Opera, even canceling some Dead shows in Sacramento to do so. Garcia didn't make it through the whole series though, even falling asleep during the performance on the third night: "In the end Jerry didn't make it back for the final opera of the cycle, having made previous plans to take his daughter Annabelle to see Phil Collins at the Oakland Coliseum. 'What?' I asked when he told me. 'You're going to pass up 'Twilight of the Gods' for Phil Collins?' 'If it was just me - but I promised Annabelle.'"  (Phil's book p.273-74)
McNally mentions that 'Ride of the Valkyries' started popping up in Dead rehearsals... 

No Jacket Required, Phil Collins third album, released in 1985. Although Collins had already been successful, and he was the singer and drummer for the very popular Genesis, this album made him a mega-star
June 7, 8 or 9, 1985, Oakland Coliseum Arena, Oakland, CA: Phil Collins
In a unique occurrence, Garcia used his status to take his daughter to see Phil Collins at the Coliseum on his No Jacket Required world tour. Although Collins' music was far from Garcia's normal fare, Collins is an excellent musician who had a top-flight band (anchored by Darryl Steurmer, Pete Robinson, Leland Sklar and Chester Thompson), so there's no doubt Garcia could at least appreciate the professionalism.

December 19, 1986, The Omni, Oakland, CA: Go Ahead
In July of 1986, Jerry Garcia had a very close brush with the other side, but he returned. By December 19, he had already performed with both the Jerry Garcia Band and the Grateful Dead. Yet, perhaps in a different frame of mind, he made a rare trip outside to see Go Ahead, the new band with Brent Mydland and Bill Kreutzmann (for the complete Go Ahead story see here).

The Omni, formerly an Italian-American social club built in 1938 as Ligure Hall, was on 48th and Shattuck in Oakland. The owner was John Nady, who had made a fortune inventing wireless guitar pickups. He decided to use the money to open a rock club, and more importantly, a rock club near my apartment at the time. Unfortunately, The Omni was a terrible dump and mostly featured metal bands. I'm not surprised Jerry never set foot in it a second time.

September 1987, unknown venue, New York, NY: Suzanne Vega
[update] Per JGMF, Garcia caught Suzanne Vega while the Dead were in New York for their Rainforest benefit.

September 23, 1988, Oakland Coliseum Stadium, Oakland, CA: Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band/Peter Gabriel/Tracy Chapman/Youssou N'Dour/Joan Baez Amnesty International Benefit
[update] Chico Archivist: Some people I knew saw Jerry at the Peter Gabriel show at the Oakland Coliseum Arena [sic] Sept 23, 1988. Supposedly Jerry liked the show enough to ask around if anybody had taped it.
Bruce Springsteen, Peter Gabriel and Sting played several stadium shows in support of Amnesty International, although Sting had to miss the Bay Area show. I wonder if Jerry got his tape?
[update] The Dead were playing MSG this night, so Jerry couldn't have been at this specific show.

March 14, 1989, Oakland Coliseum Arena, Oakland, CA: REM/Robyn Hitchcock and The Egyptians
[update] This was confirmed by a couple of correspondents. Supposedly, when Jerry and Bob entered through backstage, a security guard who did not recognize Jerry told him to put out his joint. I saw this show, and it was great. So I can say that Jerry, Bob, me and my sister saw REM together.

March 15, 1989, Fox-Warfield Theater, San Francisco, CA: Gipsy Kings
[update] Legs Lambert: Jerry and Bob Weir attended a show by the Gipsy Kings at the Warfield in San Francisco (I'm told Bill Kreutzmann was there as well, but I did not see him).
During this period, Garcia seems to have gotten out to a relatively large number of shows. I believe it was the period when he was living with Manasha Matheson.

August 5, 1990, Concord Pavilion, Concord, CA;  Bruce Hornsby And The Range
According to McNally, shortly after Brent Mydland's unfortunate death, Phil Lesh and Jerry Garcia went to a Bruce Hornsby concert "in the Bay Area" to offer him the Dead's keyboard chair. Garcia had played that afternoon at the Greek Theatre, and I'm not even sure if he stuck around for the concert.

May 11, 1994, Zellerbach Auditorium, Berkeley, CA
[update] various people pointed out that Jerry showed up to watch Phil Lesh guest-conduct the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra in two selections - the Infernal Dance from Stravinsky's "The Firebird" and Elliott Carter's "A Celebration of Some 100 x 150 Notes,"

Coda
In the 19 years after The Last Waltz, Garcia seems only to have gone to see music five times: he saws Bruce Springsteen once--if he actually saw him--went to a Phil Collins concert with his daughter, and went out three times to see "family" members, one of those times strictly a business trip to try and line up a keyboard player. 
Thanks to all the Commenters, we know that Garcia got out a little more often to hear music than I had originally feared. However, it seems to have been largely confined to a relatively brief period from 1987-90, and then he retreated into isolation. Although Garcia himself preferred playing over watching, it's still a telling sign that Garcia could not simply go out and enjoy some artist he would like without attracting a ruckus. In the larger picture of Garcia's life and career, it's not a big thing, but it's still a clear sign of how isolated Garcia had become once the Grateful Dead became truly iconic.