Friday, March 30, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 23, 2012

Fillmore: The Last Days (LP and movie, 1972)

Fillmore: The Last Days lp, released June 1972
Part of the Grateful Dead legend came from their presence at many of the seminal events of the 1960s and early 70s: the Human Be-In, Monterey Pop, Woodstock, Altamont and Watkins Glen, just to name a few. There were many more festivals and special events around the country during that era, which while lacking a national profile, were often legendary or infamous events to fans in those regions. The Dead played at plenty of those, as well: the Sound Storm in Poynette, WI, a free concert in Piedmont Park in Atlanta after the Atlanta Pop Festival and so on. Along with the Jefferson Airplane, the Dead's presence was an imprimatur that an event was hip and happening, and anyone who lived to tell the tale--who could remember it--would have something to recall their youth by.

The Sixties were a very self-conscious generation, with the participants constantly testifying to the importance of events even as they were happening. Indeed, what are perceived today as the major rock events of the 1960s are largely seen that way because of documents left behind. When bands had released considerably fewer albums, and cassette decks, much less YouTube and the Internet, were just a sort of dream, movies and albums like Monterey Pop, Woodstock and Gimme Shelter went a long way towards defining the world's perception of seminal 60s music events. More people have surely seen Jimi Hendrix's performance in the Monterey Pop movie than ever saw Hendrix, and bands like Ten Years After and Joe Cocker had their careers made by the Woodstock movie and album. You can try it yourself: find a crowd of people--probably not at work--and shout "Gimme an F!" Everybody knows what comes next, even if they've never heard of Country Joe and The Fish.

The Grateful Dead were attendant at many of the largest and most important 60s musical events, and yet they left no contemporary musical or visual evidence of their presence. The 1967 Monterey Pop Festival was filmed for a projected ABC-TV special, which was never aired, but instead turned into a sort of 'Art House' movie. Most of the artists in the Monterey Pop movie (Jimi Hendrix Experience,  Jefferrson Airplane and Janis Joplin among them) were even bigger by the time the movie was released in 1969, so the movie has had a wide following over the years. The Grateful Dead, however, refused to be filmed or recorded, so they don't appear on any of the subsequent extended releases of the movie and concert album (released in the 1990s).

Similarly, the Dead refused to be filmed for the Woodstock movie. Now, we know they played terribly, but they insured that they would never benefit the way Joe Cocker or Country Joe did even if they had played well. Garcia does appear uncredited on the Woodstock album, saying "Exhibit A" (in the movie, he is holding up a joint), but that was an inside joke. Of course, the Dead didn't get to play at all at Altamont. According to my cousin, Bill Graham's plans to make a movie of the Watkins Glen festival, at that time the largest outdoor rock concert ever, were thwarted when the Dead refused to agree to being filmed. However, knowing that the Grateful Dead's staunch resistance to allowing themselves to be filmed, despite the implicit damper it would put on their career, it makes it all the more significant that the Dead allowed themselves to be filmed and recorded for their concert at the final week of Fillmore West, preserved in the 1972 Fillmore movie and the June, 1972 Columbia album Fillmore: The Last Days.

The Closing Of The Fillmore West
The Grateful Dead had first played for Bill Graham at the old Fillmore Auditorium, on 1805 Geary Blvd on December 10, 1965. However, the Dead had always had a contested professional relationship with Graham, and the band had opened a larger competing venue, the Carousel Ballroom. The Carousel was about a mile away, at 1545 Market Street (at Van Ness). However, the Dead's naive mismanagement of the venue allowed Graham to take it over and rename it the Fillmore West. Nonetheless, despite  having been bested, the Dead still played both the Fillmore East and Fillmore West many times for Bill Graham. However, by 1971 both venues were too small for the booming rock market, and the Fillmore West building had been sold to the Howard Johnson's hotel chain, so Graham decided to close both places. The Fillmore East had its final concert on June 27, 1971, and the Fillmore West closed the next week.

There were six nights of concerts during the final week of Fillmore West, from June 29 through July 4, 1971, most of them broadcast on KSFX-fm. Bill Graham was always a great self-promoter, so a big hullabaloo was made about the concerts. Graham was an aspiring mogul, as well, so he arranged to have a movie made and an album recorded. The Woodstock movie and album had been huge successes on a mammoth scale, and the promoters of Woodstock never had to work again. Graham was looking for a similar gold strike. However complex and contested the Grateful Dead's relationship with Bill Graham may have been, for his sake the band made their only exception to being filmed by outsiders. As a result, there are two Grateful Dead songs on the Fillmore: The Last Days triple album ("Casey Jones" and "Johnny B. Goode" from the July 2, 1971 Fillmore West show). The album also featured the first officially released live recording of the New Riders Of The Purple Sage, with Jerry Garcia on pedal steel guitar, performing "Henry." The Dead's performance of "Johnny B. Goode" was in the Fillmore movie, along with some scenes of Garcia tuning his pedal steel during a basketball game. Apparently, he was tuning his guitar for the Rowan Brothers set, but that wasn't plain at the time.

The Fillmore DVD cover
Fillmore and Fillmore: The Last Days
Bill Graham obviously conceived of the Fillmore movie as an homage to himself and the San Francisco rock scene of the 60s, with the Fillmore: The Last Days album as the soundtrack. Much as I personally enjoy the movies and the album, that view was not widely shared by the public at large. San Francisco had been perhaps the most important rock "scene" in the 60s, but it was feeling kind of tired by 1971. Janis Joplin was gone, having died the previous October. The Jefferson Airplane were off the road, with new mom Grace Slick taking a hiatus. Quicksilver Messenger Service was sounding very strained, with John Cipollina having left, and the group dominated by the nasally vocals of Dino Valenti. Sly And The Family  Stone were hugely popular, but they had long since graduated from the Fillmore West. Creedence Clearwater Revival was happy to headline the final night, but for whatever reasons, probably related to their record company, they were not willing to be on film or on the album. Santana was the one relatively recent arrival who shone at the closing of the Fillmore West, although their performance was the last of the classic Abraxas lineup.

Fairly or not, the Fillmore album sounded kind of anemic in 1972. The Dead's two tracks, ably mixed by Steven Barncard, were simply an addendum to their then current album (Grateful Dead, aka 'Skull & Roses'). One of the songs, "Johnny B. Goode," had even been on that album. The other song, "Casey Jones," while classic and enjoyable, was hardly seminal. Much as I love Hot Tuna, the rest of America must have thought an extended blues jam on "Keep Your Lamps Trimmed And Burning" was a far cry from Grace and Marty soaring on "Volunteers." Quicksilver, once the pride of the Fillmore, by any objective standard sounded just terrible by 1971. Only Santana really stands out, with "Incident At Neshabur" and a unique version of Miles Davis's "In A Silent Way."

The rest of the album featured San Francisco bands, mostly with just an album or two under their belt. A few years earlier, up and coming San Francisco bands would have been the shape of things to come, but now they didn't really have an impact. Now, speaking personally, I am a huge fan of San Francisco music, so I love hearing Elvin Bishop or The Sons of Champlin, but that feeling wasn't shared nationally. Ironically enough, the two most forward looking performances on the record, by Malo and Tower Of Power, were simply too early for the rest of the country. Both of those groups would be hugely popular and influential worldwide, but their impact would not be felt for some time. Boz Scaggs and Elvin Bishop would go onto considerable success as well, but not in the specific incarnations on the Fillmore album. A few other groups, like It's A Beautiful Day, Cold Blood, Stoneground and Lamb, just sound like second tier groups today, and the record buying public didn't disagree.

The final night of Fillmore West, on July 4, 1971, featured Creedence, Santana and Tower Of Power, the two of the most popular bands from San Francisco (Creedence and Santana) and two of the most influential (Santana and Tower), and the evening ended with a couple of hours of epic if formless jamming, some of it broadcast on KSFX-fm. However, the Fillmore album merely included some rather uninspired blues jamming from an earlier show in the week (with Elvin Bishop and Taj Mahal). I don't doubt that contracts prevented the final night's jam from being released, but it was a mistake to fill up the record with some dull blues. It suggested that the legacy of the Fillmore was just some overrated shuffles in major keys, with nothing that merited a second listen, playing into the prejudices of early 70s fans who thought the Fillmore was just for stoners. Fillmore: The Last Days was not much of a success, and the Fillmore movie bombed. It was a few years too late, so nobody even noticed that it was the Grateful Dead's only contribution to the industry of commemorative festival movies and soundtrack albums.

I'm aware that the Grateful Dead contributed an amazing recording of "Dark Star," from April 8, 1972 at Wembley, to the Glastonbury Fayre album. Remarkable as that was, the Glastonbury Fayre album was a different sort of project, very much a hippie non-profit thing. Even though an unexpected hit single came off that record (Hawkwind's "Silver Machine"), the enterprise wasn't designed as a showcase for mass market appeal, and the release was a relatively limited edition (not surprising for a triple-lp with a do-it-yourself pyramid insert).

The Grateful Dead At Fillmore West, July 2, 1971
Ironically, while the Dead's performances at Monterey Pop and Woodstock were unmemorable and dreadful, respectively, and they didn't play at all at Altamont, they actually played pretty well at the closing of the Fillmore West. While much of the material from their Fillmore set was featured on the Skull & Roses album, they could have hinted at their power by allowing a very different version of one of those songs to be released. On July 2, they also performed a 17+ minute version of "Good Lovin'"--that would have been something to remember Fillmore West by. And yet, they released a basic version of their most popular song, and a fairly dumb cover of a rock standard, which in turn had just been released on their own record. What could they have been thinking?

Over the years, the principal concern about live releases of the Grateful Dead has always been sound. With professional recording gear and Steve Barncard mixing, I don't think the Dead would have been that concerned what was chosen. Warner Brothers Records, their label, would also have been fairly flexible in this instance. For one thing, all record labels had seen that the Woodstock album had made a lot of careers, and would have been open minded about allowing one of their acts to release a live track. The Woodstock album had been on an Atlantic affiliate (Cotillion), but numerous acts on other labels had benefited enormously by allowing their music to be licensed (examples included Joe Cocker on A&M, The Who on Decca and Santana on Columbia, to name just a few). In any case, Warners was trying to get the Grateful Dead to re-sign with them, and would not have wanted to alienate them by refusing to let them license a track to Bill Graham's album project, even though it was being released on Columbia.

My own belief is that out of long-standing personal friendship with Bill Graham, and despite their complex business history, the Grateful Dead made an exception to their own preferences and allowed themselves to be filmed and recorded for his Fillmore project. I also believe that they would have been willing to let Graham use whatever he wanted from their performance. Sure, they would have objected if there was a technical problem with a track (or Garcia was out-of-tune, or something), but in general, I think having given permission the Dead would likely have agreed to any reasonable suggestion by Graham and his Columbia producers, Jeffrey Cohen and Bruce Good.

However, I think Graham and his producers thought small and picked the wrong tracks. While I hardly think the week of June 29-July 4, 1971 was the best week of San Francisco music, there was plenty of fine music played. I'm not guessing--almost all of it circulates on tape in one form or another. With the exception of Santana and arguably a few other tracks, I think the producers made very poor choices. They consistently chose the simplest and most accessible songs by each artist, and for the angular nature of Fillmore music that was not a good criteria.

In the case of the Dead, a Chuck Berry song and a popular FM song with a catchy hook may seem like good choices, but both tracks tire quickly, even to hard core Deadheads. Conversely, if the Fillmore lp had included 17 minutes of "Good Lovin,'" in an era when almost no tapes existed, the effect would have been very different indeed. Certainly, a professionally shot Pigpen rap would be truly memorable today. As a point of comparison, Ten Years After's career was made by the inclusion of their rave-up on "I'm Going Home" being included in its entirety in the Woodstock movie and album, and in retrospect it was not an obvious choice. Yet I can remember seeing Woodstock in a midnight movie (at the Varsity Theater in Palo Alto in about 1972) and being absolutely mesmerized by "I'm Going Home", even though I had heard it already on the album. If Graham's producers had included "Good Lovin,'", or "Not Fade Away">"Going Down The Road">"Not Fade Away," it might have been truly stunning, but they thought small.

Everyone, including me at the time, took for granted that the Grateful Dead would be included in the Fillmore album and movie, and never paid attention to it. In fact, the movie and album became mere footnotes, and as more and more Grateful Dead material became available formally and informally, the two tracks that were actually released became less important. I have to think that the Dead must have only conceded to allow the tracks due to their long standing friendship with Graham, and when the album and movie bombed, they felt free to return to their policy of refusing all such proposals. While we don't lack for recorded Grateful Dead, professionally filmed Dead music has been very hard to come by from the early days, and the one moment when it could have happened seems to have been frittered away on "Johnny B. Goode."

Friday, March 16, 2012

Old And In The Way/Muleskinner/Great American String Band personnel 1973-74

The cover of the Old And In The Way album, recorded in October 1973, but not released until February 1975
There has been so much interesting information uncovered about the matrix of bluegrass bands featuring David Grisman, Jerry Garcia and others in the 1973-74 period that I have found it hard to keep track of. This post is intended as a research aide, primarily for me. There is almost no new information here, but I have tried to sort it in a useful way. This post lists the different lineups of Old And In The Way, "Muleskinner" and the Great American String Band, with first and last performance dates for each. I am only sketching out the barest of prosopographical information for each lineup, or else the post would be unreadable. Readers who are interested in a specific twist or turn in the story can follow the links to the appropriate source. The naming conventions and the numbering system is arbitrary, and only intended to facilitate dialogue about the post. Anyone with corrections, additions, insights or interesting speculation is encouraged to post them in the Comments.

OLD AND IN THE WAY prototype
First show- March 2, 1973 The Record Plant, Sausalito, CA  
Peter Rowan-guitar, vocals
David Grisman-mandolin, vocals
Jerry Garcia-banjo, vocals
John Kahn-bass
Peter Rowan and David Grisman started to play bluegrass with Jerry Garcia at each other's houses in late 1972. Garcia recruited John Kahn to play bass, and these four were the core of Old And In The Way throughout its brief existence. It's not impossible that the band played the occasional club show as a quartet, when a fiddler was not available (Update: A Commenter reports that the first several shows of Old And In The Way were as a quartet)

First show-late March 1973
Last show-May 25, 1973 Bimbo's 365 Club, San Francisco
Peter Rowan-guitar, vocals
David Grisman-mandolin, vocals
Richard Greene-fiddle
Jerry Garcia-banjo, vocals
John Kahn-bass
Richard Greene initially joined Old And In The Way as the fiddler. He had other obligations, however, and may not have even been based in Northern California at the time. John Hartford (see OAITW #2) below took over at some point, but its ambiguous as to exactly when. The last confirmed show with Greene was April 21, 1973. I don't actually know who played fiddle on May 25, but I feel confident that Hartford didn't, and it's possible that no one did, 

The cover of the 'Mulekinner' album, released in 1974
First show-February 13, 1973 KCET-TV studios, Los Angeles
Last show-March 27, 1973 The Ash Grove, Los Angeles
Clarence White-lead guitar, vocals
Peter Rowan-guitar, vocals
Richard Greene-fiddle
David Grisman-mandolin, vocals
Bill Keith-banjo, vocals
Stuart Schulman-bass
This group was never known as 'Muleskinner' during its brief lifetime, but everyone calls it that retroactively so I have maintained the convention. Briefly, Bill Monroe was supposed to do a live Los Angeles public television special on February 13, 1973, and a one-off band of long-haired bluegrass musicians was put together to provide some sort of "old-and-new" contrast for the TV show. Monroe's bus broke down, and the band ended up doing the entire hour. The results were so good, the members--all old friends--decided to perform for a week at The Ash Grove the next month. There is some ambiguity as to whether Keith played any or all of the Ash Grove shows (the original TV broadcast was ultimately released as a cd).

With Jerry Garcia on tour with the Grateful Dead, Rowan and Grisman led the band for the March 23-27 engagement at the Ash Grove, apparently billed as The Bluegrass Dropouts. Again pleased with the results, they invited John Kahn down South and recorded an album from March 27-April 14. The sound was a sort of electrified bluegrass hybrid, not at all a purist record. I have always thought that Rowan and Grisman were looking to create a band that could function when Old And In The Way could not tour due to Garcia's obligations. Sadly, Clarence White was run over by a drunk driver in Palmdale, CA on July 15, 1973. The Muleskinner-A Potpourri Of Bluegrass Jam album was released a year later, but any enthusiasm for the project seems to ended with Clarence White's death.

Probably late April 1973
Peter Rowan-guitar, vocals
David Grisman-mandolin, vocals
John Hartford-fiddle
Jerry Garcia-banjo, vocals
John Kahn-bass
John Hartford was definitely a member of Old And In The Way, according to both David Grisman and Richard Loren (Jerry Garcia's manager), but as to exactly when remains a mystery. I have argued that Hartford played some shows in April, but I have not been able to confirm anything. 

The cover of Old And In The Way's cd That High Lonesome Sound, recorded in October 1973 and finally released in 1996
First show-June 5, 1973 Orpheum Theater, Boston, MA
Last show-November 4, 1973 Sonoma State College Gym, Cotati, CA
Encore performance-April 28, 1974, Marin County Fairgrounds
Peter Rowan-guitar, vocals
David Grisman-mandolin, vocals
Vassar Clements-fiddle
Jerry Garcia-banjo, vocals
John Kahn-bass
With an Eastern tour looming and no fiddler, Grisman and Rowan drafted the great Vassar Clements. This lineup played the balance of the Old And In The Way shows, including the October shows at The Boarding House that were recorded by Owsley, and ultimately released. The band was supposed to end in October, but a rain-out in Sonoma had to be made up in November. Since all the members of the band were present at the Golden Stage Bluegrass Festival at the Marin County Fairgrounds in April of 1974, Old And In The Way had a final reunion show.

The Old And In The Way album, recorded in October 1973 at The Boarding House, was not released until February 1975, long after the band had departed. However, the world was finally ready for progressive hippie bluegrass, and the album was profoundly influential. By all accounts, for many years it was the best-selling bluegrass album of all time (no doubt long since eclipsed by Alison Krauss and Ricky Skaggs). The legend was cemented by two more cds from The Boarding House, released on David Grisman's Acoustic Disc label: High Lonesome Sound (1996) and Breakdown (1997). By that time, Grisman and Vassar Clements were legendary too, and Old And In The Way's place in the acoustic music firmament was permanently enshrined.

First show-March 9, 1974 Great American Music Hall
Last show-June 14, 1974 Keystone Berkeley
David Nichtern-guitar, vocals
David Grisman-mandolin, vocals
Richard Greene-violin
Jerry Garcia-banjo, vocals (did not play March 9--first JG show March 10)
Buell Neudlinger-bass
>Taj Mahal-bass (some shows)
plus Vassar Clements-fiddle (double fiddles on one show only, March 10, 1974 at GAMH)
plus various guests for a song or two at many shows
It appears that like many bluegrass bands, Old And In The Way was only organized around a project, namely some touring and an album. When the band ended in late 1973, it was not as if the band "broke up"--it's time was simply done. However, having revolutionized bluegrass music, Garcia and Grisman seem to have decided to upend all American acoustic music next. Why think small?

Organized by Grisman, the Great American String Band was intended to be an ensemble that played all types of American music on acoustic instruments: bluegrass, old-time, jazz, blues, New Orleans and anything else. From the beginning, it was more high concept than collective. It seems to have been assumed from the beginning that the membership might vary slightly from booking to booking. Their very first show at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco (March 9) did not feature Garcia, but determined research by JGMF has shown for certain that Garcia was present at the second (March 10).

By a coincidence, Vassar Clements was the opening act for the March shows, backed by local musicians (a group called Skunk Cabbage) and Vassar was added to the GASB for the second night as well. As a further link, according to an eyewitness in a blog Comment, Peter Rowan (and Jack Bonus [Stephen Schuster]) made guest appearances at the May 5, 1974 GASB show at Keystone Berkeley, performing "Midnight Moonlight" and "Hobo Song" and thus closing the loop somewhat on Garcia and Grisman's acoustic endeavors in the 70s.

Although Garcia dropped out of the GASB after June of 1974, the band continued on without him, more or less as it was intended to. At times the group used the name Great American Music Band, also appropriately. Ultimately, the concept and musicians evolved into the David Grisman Quintet, which is still expanding boundaries today. Vassar Clements rejoined the Quintet at one point (I saw them--they were great), and later Garcia and Grisman re-activated their partnership in 1990 and made great music along with a couple of members of Grisman's quintet.

After Garcia's death, Old And In The Way had a final reunion at The Warfield on March 24, 1996. The lineup was
Peter Rowan-guitar, vocals
David Grisman-mandolin, vocals
Vassar Clements-fiddle
Herb Pedersen-banjo, vocals
John Kahn-bass
Herb Pedersen was an old Berkeley friend of both Garcia and Grisman. Pedersen had been friends with Garcia since the early 60s, and he had been in a band with David Nelson (The Pine Valley Boys) in 1964. Pedersen had then joined the Smoky Grass Boys (wink wink) with David Grisman and Rick Shubb from 1965-67. They were joined at the Warfield show by Maria Muldaur and John Sebastian (both old pals of Grisman's). Kahn died later that year, and Old And In The Way retired with him. Rowan, Grisman and Vassar continued to tour in subsequent years as Old And In The Gray, playing fine music in the bluegrass tradition they themselves had helped pioneer.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Phil Lesh-Slide Bass (Henry J Kaiser Auditorium, February 20, 1985)

My notes for the Grateful Dead shows from February 18, 19 & 20, 1985
Around 1980 I realized I couldn't remember everything about every concert I had been to so I started writing everything down. Without an internet, or Deadbase, or anything, if you didn't write it down, it was probably gone forever. I wasn't enough of a dweeb to actually take notes during a show, because it wasn't as much fun, but whenever I got home, before I went to bed, I wrote down every detail I could remember. As time went on, more information became available, and some of the things I wrote down are easily accessible now, but here and there I still find some odd nuggets of information that I would otherwise have lost track of.

Looking at my notes for February 18, 19 and 20, 1985, I see that I wrote down that Phil Lesh played "slide bass" on February 20. I distinctly recall this. Of course, distinct as this memory may be, I recall that he played slide during "Minglewood," and of course they didn't play "Minglewood" that night. I didn't see fit to write down which song it was, but knowing how my memory works it was probably "West LA Fadeaway."

By 1980, I had been going to rock concerts for quite a while (at the time, 8 years and counting, as it happens) and once I had discovered the sound of a bottleneck guitar I had always wondered why no one ever used a bottleneck on a bass guitar. I was generally about 50 feet from the stage, so I was really excited when I saw Phil slip on a bottleneck during a song and play a little slide while Jerry soloed away.

Of course, I promptly found out why no one played slide bass: you can't hear it. Something about the sonic properties of a bass guitar insure that the swoopy low notes caused by the slide are lost in the general rumble of the band. The Grateful Dead had as good a sound system as their was, and if you couldn't hear it on their system, you couldn't hear it. But it didn't matter--I had seen someone play slide bass guitar, and I could check that off my list.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Excalibur-Tom Fogerty (Jerry Garcia-guitar)

Tom Fogerty's 1972 Fantasy Records album Excalibur, featuring Jerry Garcia
Tom Fogerty's second solo album Excalibur, recorded and released in 1972, is hardly a major album, or even a particularly memorable one. Nonetheless, it is a studio recording where Fogerty is supported by Merl Saunders, John Kahn, Bill Vitt and Jerry Garcia. Based on my analysis of the timing of the record, Tom Fogerty seems to have become a de facto member of the Garcia-Saunders band after the album was recorded. With that in mind, this post will review Tom Fogerty's background, the chronology of the recording of Excalibur and an overview of his time playing with Jerry Garcia

Tom Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater Revival
Tom Fogerty (November 9, 1941 – September 6, 1990) had formed a band of El Cerrito High School mates in the early 60s. Tom Fogerty was the lead singer, his younger brother John played guitar along with Tom, and the group was rounded out by friends Stu Cook on bass and Doug Clifford on drums. They were initially known as Tommy And The Blue Velvets and later as The Golliwogs. The band had some success around the Bay Area, and recorded some singles for Oakland's Fantasy Records. However, all four members had various kinds of military obligations (Coast Guard, National Guard, Army Reserves) and the band members could not go all-in during the first explosion of San Francisco rock in 1966.

In 1968, with John Fogerty's commitment to the Army Reserves coming to the end, and with the others already unencumbered, the Golliwogs changed their name to Creedence Clearwater Revival and became full-time musicians. Tom Fogerty had a family and a stable job with the gas company, but he quit it to make a go of Creedence. The band's first regular booking was a Monday night residency at a little club at 750 Vallejo Street called DenoCarlo's, later to become the Keystone Korner. Creedence Clearwater released their first album on Fantasy in July, 1968. Creedence was an engaging mixture of Buck Owens, Soul music and the New Orleans swamp, even though the only bayou the band knew was the Emeryville Mud Flats. The debut album got great play on KSAN, and the song "Suzie Q" (an old Dale Hawkins number) got some good AM airplay.

However, in early 1969 Creedence released their second album, Bayou Country. Songs like 'Born On The Bayou" and especially "Proud Mary" were true rock anthems. Creedence's albums and singles shot straight to the top of the charts, and the band kept cranking out hit after hit: "Bad Moon Rising," "Down On The Corner," "Fortunate Son" and dozens of others. Creeedence Clearwater Revival was probably the best selling band to come out of the Bay Area. John Fogerty's exceptional singing and songwriting carried Creedence's rootsy music all over America, Europe and Vietnam.

However, while Creedence seemed to have come from nowhere to rock fans, in fact by 1970 the band had been together for nearly a decade. After the band' sixth album, Pendulum, was released in December, 1970, Tom Fogerty left the group. By that time, there was a lot of bad blood between John Fogerty and the other members of the band, including his brother Tom, and John's relationship with Fantasy had become strained as well. The story is complex and bitter, and none of the parties will speak to each other to this day, one of the reasons that Tom simply stepped away from the band.

Merl Saunders 1973 Fantasy album Fire Up, featuring Jerry Garcia and Tom Fogerty
Tom Fogerty's Post-Creedence Career
Tom Fogerty lay fairly low when he left Creedence. He had a fair amount of money, far less than his brother, but apparently enough. Nonetheless, he was still interested in making music. Tom Fogerty had been part of Fantasy Records for many years, going back to its days at 30th and Peralta in Oakland. As a result, he was good friends with another Fantasy artist, Merl Saunders. Merl's first album, Soul Grooving, by Merl Saunders Trio And Big Band, had been released in 1968 on Galaxy, a subsidiary of Fantasy. "Proud Mary" changed everything, however, and Fantasy Records moved to a slick new studio on Tenth and Parker Streets in Berkeley. It was the house that Creedence built.

Merl Saunders recorded his first solo album, Heavy Turbulence, at Fantasy Studios in 1971. Jerry Garcia played lead guitar, and John Kahn and Bill Vitt played bass and drums on most tracks. Tom Fogerty co-produced the record with Saunders, and played rhythm guitar on many tracks. Fogerty was a pretty basic player, but he knew how to play tasty (as The Good Rats would say). As near as I can tell, Heavy Turbulence was recorded in late 1971, and released in early 1972.

Tom Fogerty seems to have recorded his first solo album (entitled Tom Fogerty) early in 1972. Saunders played keyboards, and Kahn and Vitt played bass and drums. Lead guitar was handled by Russ Gary, however, rather than Garcia. I think that Garcia's absence had more to do with availability than anything else. Tom Fogerty was released in June 1972 to no great acclaim. I have never heard the record. Tom Fogerty only played one gig that I know about in the 71-72 period, two nights at the Keystone Korner, ironically enough, on October 15-16, 1971, with Saunders, Kahn, Dave Getz (drums) and Nick Gravenites. He did not tour to support his first solo album, as far as I can tell.

Since Excalibur was released in October 1972, I think the basic tracks were recorded in about June or July 1972. Since Kahn and Saunders play on the record, it is easier to guess the period of the recording. In mid-'72, Kahn had moved to Woodstock, NY to work with Paul Butterfield, and invited Saunders to join him. However, both of them returned to San Francisco to play some dates with Jerry Garcia between June 30 and July 15. I have to assume that the core of the recording of Excalibur was done during that period. There  are 10 tracks on the album, and Garcia plays on 7 or 8 of them. Tom Fogerty wrote 8 of the 10 songs. They are roughly in the Creedence vein, but a little more Merle Haggard style and less of the swampy bayou boogie that characterized Creedence. There's nothing wrong with the songs or the music, but nothing really stands out about the record.

Garcia, Saunders and Fogerty
The Garcia-Saunders band wasn't really a band at this point, just a loose aggregation of players. As I have discussed elsewhere, in mid-1972 Kahn had moved to Woodstock to join Paul Butterfield, and enticed Merl to join him. However, financial concerns caused them to return to San Francisco, so Garcia was able to continue playing with them. It does seem, however, that Tom Fogerty's participation in the band dates from the mid-Summer of 1972, so that fits with when Excalibur was recorded.

The first confirmed sighting we have of Tom Fogerty with Garcia-Saunders was on July 1, 1972 at the San Jose Civic Auditorium. Fogerty seems to have played on most of the shows through the balance of 1972. In the fall of 1972, Merl Saunders also recorded his Fire Up album, and Garcia, Fogerty, Kahn and Vitt all played big roles on that record as well. Since Fogerty was still a 'name' in the Bay Area, as Creedence were as huge as ever, Fogerty was often billed along with Garcia and Saunders. While Fogerty only played rhythm guitar, and just sang a few songs with the band, he fattened up their sound. My own opinion is that Garcia lacked experience and confidence as a rhythm guitarist before he started playing with Merl, and Fogerty gave him a certain level of comfort. Once Garcia's rhythm playing improved, Fogerty wasn't necessary.

Tom Fogerty seems to have stopped playing with Garcia and Saunders in 1973. Fogerty was actually billed at a January 1973 show at the Boarding House, but we know he didn't play. I don't believe their was any acrimony or problem with Fogerty or any of the band members. However, he wanted to concentrate on his own career, and playing in a part-time cover band, even a really good one, was not going to further that. Tom Fogerty went on to put out a variety of solo albums in the next several years.

Creedence Clearwater Revival had a few moments of rapprochement, when they agreed to go on stage together at Tom Fogerty's wedding in 1980 and then at their El Cerrito High School 20 Year Reunion in 1982. However, the lawsuits and acrimony continued unabated afterwards. Tom Fogerty became very ill, and while he and his brother John reconciled personally, no other issues could ever be resolved. Tom Fogerty died in 1990.

Appendix: Excalibur Track Notes
All songs written by Tom Fogerty, except as noted. Merl Saunders-piano except as noted.
"Forty Years": the album's opening track is its best, a melodic Buck Owens-style country tune. Jerry Garcia plays a nice, melodic pedal steel ride
"Black Jack Jenny": Garcia plays lead guitar on this conventional rocker
"Rocky Road Blues" (Bill Monroe): This bluegrass standard is done as an actual slow blues. Garcia plays a nice, if brief, fuzz-tone blues solo
"Faces, Places, People": This rather tendentious slow song has an interesting Garcia part reminiscent of "Dirty Business." Presumably Garcia plays pedal steel
"Get Funky": This brief (1:50) funk shuffle has no lead guitar, with Merl playing both organ and piano. This was not a song, just a studio jam with a vocal over it
"Sick And Tired" (Chris Kenner-Dave Bartholomew): A bluesy, uptempo cover of the old Fats Domino hit. With Merl on organ and Garcia playing old-school rock guitar, reminiscent of his playing on "Money Honey," this is the only track that really sounds like the Garcia-Saunders band
"Sign Of The Devil": no Garcia. Merl plays synthesizer as well as piano.
"Straight And Narrow": A country shuffle. Garcia, or someone, plays lead on a Hawaiian steel guitar or a dobro. It may not be Jerry, in fact.
"Next In Line": Garcia plays a twangy, James Burton style lead on this country styled song.
"(Hold On) Annie Mae": Clearly a studio jam with a vocal added, Garcia plays some hot bluesy licks as the track fades out