Saturday, November 28, 2020

Febraury 25, 1975 Berkeley or Fairfax--Good Old Boys (Stealth Jerry?)

The Tuesday February 25, 1975 San Francisco Examiner entertainment listings include "Country Rock Dance--The Good Old Boys and Soundhole, at Keystone Berkeley, 2119 University Ave 9pm"
Jerry Garcia is one of the most thoroughly researched popular musicians in the late 20th century. For the sheer volume of analysis, Garcia's career is like those of Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley or John Lennon. Fans, journalists and scholars have attempted to leave no stone unturned. And yet it is remarkable that 25 years after Garcia's passing, we can still find undiscovered landscapes. I am going to make a case here for a missing Jerry Garcia performance from 1975, possibly two. Not only was Garcia already a substantial rock star by this time, but the show or shows were listed in the press under a familiar band name, and yet no one seems to have noticed.

Garcia scholars now know that Jerry, Frank Wakefield and David Nelson played two shows at a club called Margarita's in Santa Cruz, on the weekend of February 20 and 21, 1975. We know this not only because a fellow blogger was an eyewitness who recalled the events clearly, but because a fine double-cd was released of the performances in 2019. At the end of January 1975, Garcia and Nelson had recorded the All-Star bluegrass album with Wakefield, fiddler Chubby Wise and banjo player Don Reno. The album Pistol Packin' Mama was not released until January 1976, and the band was called The Good Old Boys. Yet The Good Old Boys had played Margarita's in February of 1975, with Garcia playing banjo in place of Don Reno. Reno and Chubby Wise had left town, so Garcia had surely practiced his banjo to get ready to stand in.

Guess what? Three days later, on Tuesday, February 25, the listing in the day's San Francisco Examiner noted "Country Rock Dance: The Good Old Boys and Soundhole at Keystone Berkeley, 2119 University Avenue, 9pm." Garcia, per the golden source of Jerrybase, was known to have played Keystone Berkeley 242 times. I'm going to argue that Garcia didn't work up his banjo chops just for a weekend in Santa Cruz, and make the case for 243.

From the Feb 21-28 Berkeley Barb Scenedrome entertainment listings. For Tuesday, February 25, the Good Ol' Boys are listed at the Sleeping Lady Cafe
Once I discovered the Examiner listing, like any competent scholar I looked for corroboration, in this case in the relevant week of Entertainment Listings (aka Scenedrome) of the Berkeley Barb. Guess what? There was a listing for the Good Ol' Boys on that Tuesday, but at a tiny hippie hangout in Marin County. So that sure points to a Garcia plan to play with the Good Old Boys after the Santa Cruz weekend. Which place was it? I'm going to make the case that Garcia played both--Keystone Berkeley on Tuesday, February 25, and the Sleeping Lady in Fairfax on the day before (February 24) or after (February 26).

Let's review.

Drink Up And Go Home, an archival double cd on RockBeat Records, released in 2019. Featuring Jerry Garcia, Frank Wakefield and David Nelson, recorded in Santa Cruz, CA on February 20& 21, 1975

February 25, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Good Old Boys/Soundhole "Country Rock Dance" (Tuesday)
While the Keystone Berkeley was generally a thriving nightclub throughout the 1970s, as far as I can tell, it wasn't flying as high in 1975 as it had a few years earlier. The Keystone had a Fillmore West feel to it, a lot of people on their feet, a lot of blues, a lot of guitar solos. In retrospect, we look back and see Jerry Garcia, Elvin Bishop and John Lee Hooker, and it sounds pretty cool. And it surely was. But in 1975, it wasn't forward looking. Hippies weren't unhip yet, as that would happen when punk and New Wave arrived in Berkeley two years later, but they were a bit passe. Very few touring acts played Keystone Berkeley at this time, save for blues acts who had fewer venues than ever. The bands were mostly local, even though some of them (like Garcia or Bishop) were substantial locals with albums.

Still, Keystone Berkeley sold beer, lots and lots of beer, so it was a hangout as well as a destination. Keystone Berkeley was at Shattuck and University, right below the UC Berkeley Campus and right downtown. Plenty of students and former students lived within walking distance of Keystone, and enough of them would have been over 21. There were almost no music bars on Shattuck Avenue at the time, and frankly almost no bars either. So if you liked to spend a weeknight with a cold one and some loud guitar, Keystone Berkeley was about your only choice near campus. Most nights of the week save Tuesday, Keystone Berkeley was open, and mostly for $1.00 or no cover at all, with a local band playing. It was the Bay Area--often the local bands were pretty good. Sunday and Monday were for local bands for a $1.00, and Tuesdays and sometimes Wednesdays were dark unless there was something unique to book.

On Monday, February 24, Keystone Berkeley had booked Soundhole. Soundhole was Marin County band that had formed around 1973. In 1974, Soundhole had hired on as Van Morrison's backing band, so they had a certain status around the Bay Area, even if they had never made an album. Soundhole played rock with some jazz and soul edges, appropriately enough in the style of mid-70s Van Morrison. Soundhole never did make an album (you can find a Nov 26 '74 Winterland tape if you poke around Wolfgang's Vault), but most of the band members went on to bigger things. Guitarist Brian Marnell was in SVT, with Jack Casady, organist John Farey was in Zero, and saxophonist Johnny Colla, bassist Mario Cipollina and drummer Bill Gibson would go on to Huey Lewis and The News (tenor saxophonist Brian Hogan was the other member). Soundhole were good, the type of band who would be booked for $1.00 on a Monday night at Keystone Berkeley. University and Shattuck was just an hour from San Rafael, and what else would Soundhole have been doing? Have a little fun, maybe make some coin.

But here's what--Soundhole were Marin funky, like the Sons Of Champlin. They don't play country rock. So why does the Examiner listing say "Country Rock Dance?" Keep in mind, the Examiner was San Francisco's afternoon paper (the larger Chronicle was the morning paper). A club could get a listing added to the paper the day before, and possibly that same day if they called at the beginning of the day. Here's what I think--the Good Old Boys enjoyed their weekend gig in Santa Cruz. I think they decided to keep playing, so someone in the Dead office made some calls.

Soundhole was booked for Monday, February 24. On Wednesday, Keystone had a relatively big show with a touring band--the great Welsh band Man, with Deke Leonard--so that left Tuesday, usually a dark night. I think Freddie Herrera told Soundhole they should stick around, and booked Garcia and the Good Old Boys on the fly. Keystone staff would have called the Examiner on Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning, which was too late for the Tuesday Chronicle deadline.

We know that Garcia would have been sensitive to being advertised at a place like Keystone when he wasn't going to be playing electric guitar and covering Motown and Dylan songs, so I think he didn't want his name on the booking. But Keystone saying "country rock dance" even when the band was the funky Soundhole was code for Herrera letting people who had heard a rumor about Garcia think "this might be him..." I think they played. My guess is Good Old Boys played a set or two of bluegrass, and Soundhole plugged in and funked out until well after midnight.

The Reggae Rock band Tazmanian Devils played The Sleeping Lady in Fairfax some time in the late 70s or early 80s. Most flyers for bands at the Sleeping Lady don't even include the address, since all the locals knew the place, and Fairfax was tiny.

The Good Old Boys at The Sleeping Lady Cafe, Fairfax, CA
The Berkeley Barb for the week of February 21-28, 1975 has a listing for the Good Old Boys at the Sleeping Lady Cafe in Fairfax for Tuesday, February 25. This conflicts with the Keystone date. The deadline for the Barb would have been the week before (probably Tuesday February 18), so I'm confident that the Tuesday Examiner listing at the Keystone supersedes the Sleeping Lady. Still, I think the band played there, probably on Monday or Wednesday.

The Sleeping Lady Cafe was at 58 Bolinas Avenue in Fairfax, in Marin County. Fairfax is a tiny town, just 2.2 square miles, incorporated in 1931. It is 3 miles Northwest of San Rafael, and at the time had a population of about 7,500 (as it does now). As for the Sleeping Lady itself, it was the first vegetarian restaurant in Marin County, and the first restaurant in Marin to ban smoking indoors. So that made it a hippie hangout from its inception. It had singers and bands from the beginning, and the performers were local, as in "lived down the street" local. For a long time in the mid-70s, the Sleeping Lady hosted a band called the Fairfax Street Choir, a full rock band with a dozen singers. This quixotic enterprise had numerous Marin connections (e.g. Donna Jean Godchaux's future husband was the bass player, and so on), but was financially impossible. The Sleeping Lady was just a hangout for hippies who liked music.

It sounds to me like The Good Old Boys booked a gig there, and when Keystone Berkeley called, they bumped it. Makes sense. There is one extremely intriguing piece of evidence, however, that makes me think the Good Old Boys actually played the Sleeping Lady. Garcia scholars may know of Michelle McFee, a wonderful person with whom I have not been in touch with in a while (wherever you are, Michelle, I hope you are well). Michelle McFee, who lived in Kentfield, was among many other things the Office Manager for the New Riders of The Purple Sage, and as connected as one could be to the Marin County music scene. For many years, her on-line handle was "Pistol Packin' Mama" (and in other contexts, "MizShely"). So she identified with the Good Old Boys (and remember, she knew them all).

A google search of The Sleeping Lady and the Good Old Boys, rather surprisingly, turns up a stale website called Marin Nostalgia. Under the header, "Memories of The Sleeping Lady" what do we find? Well, well, Michelle---

Was a hideous ugly place in the 70s…small and somewhat scary, my fondest memory of the place was one night The Good Old Boys were playing and Peter Sheridan went to sitting in a chair and sat right on through it, thuddng on to the floor. In the immortal words of one of Bette Davis’ characters, “WHAT a dump…”  — Michelle McFee

Yes, it's possible that Michelle McFee was referring to seeing later versions of The Good Old Boys, without Garcia (most Wakefield ensembles since have been called "The Good Old Boys"). But since Michelle thought it was a scary dump, why would she go? The answer, to me, was that Garcia was playing. Remember, she worked for and with David Nelson at the time, so she would have known. 

So I think the Good Old Boys weekend in Santa Cruz went well, and they called Freddie Herrera, who offered them Tuesday. The boys told the Sleeping Lady that they would play a different day, probably Monday February 24, and they did. A few friends of the band, like Michelle McFee, dropped by, and some Bolinas locals dropped in.

Comments, Wayback Machine searches, and any rank speculation widely encouraged. For now, I'm going with this:
February 25, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Good Old Boys/Soundhole "Country Rock Dance" (Tuesday)
February 24 or 26, 1975 Sleeping Lady Cafe, Bolinas, CA: Good Old Boys (Monday or Wednesday)



Friday, November 13, 2020

Week of May 2, 1970 SUNY Binghamton, Binghamton, NY (The Whole Story)

The Binghamton Press and Sun Bulletin, Saturday April 18, 1970

The Grateful Dead's performance at SUNY Binghamton on May 2, 1970 is the stuff of legend, even for a band with a lengthy history of such events. Not only was the show seven hours of music, not only was it all broadcast on FM radio several weeks later and not only was it widely bootlegged and finally released as Dick's Picks Vol. 8. The show epitomized the expansion of the Grateful Dead from a cultish phenomenon in San Francisco and Manhattan to an extended community throughout the United States and beyond. I would argue that no show did more than Binghamton to expand the band's legend, since it was broadcast, circulated on bootleg lps, circulated on tape and then finally released, so Heads of every era absorbed it as their own.

Given how well most of us know the music, from the haunting acoustic "I Know You Rider" to Phil Lesh's awesome bass bombs that open the solos on "Dancing In The Street," it's hard not to have imagined yourself there. A college student in a city somewhat distant from big cities, probably a long, cold winter, typical of that part of New York State, and that it was followed by a spectacular Spring. What better way to celebrate Spring and the end of Winter Semester with an entire Saturday Evening With The Grateful Dead? What a night it would have been, were any of us lucky enough to be there.

And yet--Saturday night with the Grateful Dead wouldn't have been the whole story, indeed, it appears to have been about a quarter of it. Let's go back and try and piece together the rock and roll week of May 1, 1970 at SUNY  Binghamton.

An early 70s Grateful Dead bootleg lp recorded from the Binghamton show

The listing on page 25 of The Binghamton Press and Sun Bulletin from Saturday April 18, 1970, posted above has some interesting information about upcoming events at SUNY Binghamton:
Four leading pop groups are scheduled to perform at State University at Binghamton. The lineup:
May 1: Pentangle and Paul Butterfield Blues Band
May 2: Grateful Dead with Riders of The Purple Sage
May 5: Incredible String Band
May 8 or 9: James Taylor, country singer Sweet Baby James

What? Four rock shows at the College? In the same week? Now, it's hard to recall that State Universities cost about $50 a semester in those days, not a lot of money even then, and the schools provided all sorts of benefits. One of those benefits was an entertainment budget to bring acts to distant colleges, for no other reason than to make undergraduate life broader and better. So every college back then had a rock show each semester, and some of them had more than one. It made a good payday for touring bands, and rock audiences were largely college-age at the time. But four in a week? All with albums, not just local yokels, and indeed, three of them had played Woodstock the Summer before. The week of May 1 at SUNY Binghamton was booked like a week at Fillmore East.

Why didn't we hear about this? It seems we have far fewer eyewitnesses from Binghamton than I thought, because this week of rock shows seems like an all-timer. Indeed, the only eyewitness account I am  aware of the review from the student paper that appeared in Dick's Picks Volume 8.

Basket Of Light, the classic Pentangle album released in October 1969 (Warners)

An Hypothesis

I have a theory. I can't prove it, yet, it's just some logical deduction. If anyone out there has any information, recollections, flashbacks or irrational speculation, please include them in the Comments. There has to be a story. But here's my speculation.

Every College and University  in those days had an "Entertainment Budget," designed to bring cultural enrichment and fun to undergraduate (or graduate) lives. The budget paid for Dance Troupes, and jazz musicians, and helped support the Performing Arts in any number of ways. This was particularly true for campuses that were far from big cities, and even more so for places with dreary winters (UC Santa Barbara was a little different). If there was someone playing on campus, and it was Friday night and snowy, almost anything seemed interesting, and a lot of students discovered some Art that they might not have attended in the big city. 

Of course, although any Entertainment Budget was controlled by College administrators, there was always a student-led "Entertainment Committee" that decided on the acts coming to campus. They may not have had a interest in say, Dance Troupes, but when it came to music, the students had a lot to say, and a lot of sway. It was a famous trope of the 60s and 70s that a bunch of hippies would take over the Entertainment Committee and conspire to get Fillmore East bands to play. The Grateful Dead benefited from this effect many times--how do you think the Dead came to play a free concert at Vanderbilt University as late as 1972?

It doesn't take a genius to see that some students with hip tastes were the driving forces on the Entertainment Committee. Don't forget, the Grateful Dead, though legendary, were still very much underground, as were Pentangle and Incredible String Band. The Butterfield Blues Band were an established act, but James Taylor was brand new. Somebody knew something. Whatever you think of the Binghamton area--I was only there once, and it seemed nice--basic demography suggests that there would have been plenty of students from big cities, whether Syracuse, Manhattan, Brooklyn or elsewhere. It wasn't all a bunch of innocent countryside folk. They knew what they wanted.

All of the six acts listed, however, seem to have been connected to the same record company. While I don't think the record companies themselves were directly involved, it does suggest the same talent agent. Talent agents were the ones who booked tours, and while they worked with all record companies, some synergy was inevitable. I think some hippies took over the Entertainment Committee, and some sharp talent agent offered them a package of multiple shows, and the students took it all. It would have made more sense to spread out four shows throughout the semester, but somehow they all happened in a week. Someone made a proposal, the students persuaded the Administrators to say yes, and the talent agent must have hit the bid and booked the shows.

Imagine The Week
Let's set our Wayback Machine and think what kind of week a young music fan could have had that week.

Keep On Moving, the fifth album by the Butterfield Blues Band (Elektra Oct '69)

Friday, May 1, 1970: Paul Butterfield Blues Band/Pentangle

We don't know the venue, since we only have the newspaper listing, but I think it was the same gym that the Dead played (West Gym). The Paul Butterfield Blues were better known than the Grateful Dead, and would have qualified as a genuine headliner on either coast. If the gym was going to be set up for a rock concert, it would make sensed to do it two nights in a row.

Now, in fact, by 1970 the Butterfield Blues Band had already crested from their peak, since guitarists Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop had both moved on some years earlier. Still, Butter was still an exceptional blues harpist, and they were a "name" band. The lineup was probably pretty close to the lineup that Buttterfield had used at Woodstock, which included Buzzy Feiten on lead guitar, Dave Sanborn leading the horn section on alto sax, and a tough rhythm section of Philip Wilson on drums and Rod Hicks on bass (Deadheads will note that Rod Hicks beat out one John Kahn for the bass slot). The Butterfield Blues Band's current album was their fifth lp on Elektra Records, Keep On Moving. It had been released in October 1969.

Pentangle opening for the Grateful Dead at Fillmore West, March 1, 1969 (photo by and courtesy of Michael Parrish)

Pentangle, however, were not only in their prime, but one of the great bands of the 60s. I know how dramatic that sounds, but go listen to them--if you like the Grateful Dead, you'll very likely love Pentangle. If my recommendation isn't enough, how about Jerry Garcia's?

Pentangle, who only existed in their original form from 1967 to '73, is mostly forgotten these days by all but their fervent fans--of whom there are quite a few--and in any case they are fairly or unfairly lumped together with English folk-rock bands like Fairport Convention or Steeleye Span. Much as I love the Fairports, Pentangle doesn't sound like them or anyone else. However, the band's relevance to the Grateful Dead is that they apparently dramatically influenced Jerry Garcia and the Dead's interest in performing acoustic music live. Pentangle had a unique lineup for the time, with two phenomenal acoustic guitarists and an amplified rhythm section, underlying the brilliant vocals of singer Jacqui McShee. Pentangle played disciplined arrangements and yet improvised freely, seamlessly merged numerous styles of music, performed brilliant originals and surprisingly arranged cover versions--does this sound like a band we like?--and did it all sitting down, with two acoustic guitarists. 

Pentangle had opened for the Grateful Dead at Fillmore West for four nights in February and March, 1969. The Dead were in the midst of recording Live/Dead, but somehow Garcia found time to watch some or all of eight sets by Pentangle. Many years later, in a 1985 interview (in Frets, an acoustic guitar magazine), Garcia said his inspiration for the acoustic Dead configuration in 1970 and 1980 was Pentangle: two acoustic guitars and a rhythm section. By 1970, Pentangle was even better than they were in 1969. Their current album was the fantastic Basket Of Light, released in the US on Warner Brothers Records in October 1969. They still had their classic lineup of Jacqui McShee on vocals, Bert Jansch and John Renbourn on guitars, Danny Thompson on upright bass and Terry Cox on drums. 

Another early 70s Grateful Dead bootleg from Binghamton. Side 2 was a (terrible) recording of the New Riders from that show, for many years the only evidence that they had played

Saturday, May 2, 1970 West Gym Grateful Dead/New Riders of The Purple Sage

The Dead and the Riders played Saturday night. The "acoustic Dead" opened, modeled on Pentangle, who had just played the night before. I wonder if any Dead fans noticed the similarity? The New Riders of the Purple Sage followed, and then two incredible sets of electric Grateful Dead, apparently going on well past 2am. I would note in passing that the newspaper listing above may be the first public note of the New Riders of The Purple Sage outside of the West Coast (yo).

The Grateful Dead would have been booked at Binghamton around March of 1970. At that time, their current album would have been Live/Dead, released by Warner Brothers in November 1969. It was a popular album, in a cultish sort of way, well-reviewed in Rolling Stone, but it wasn't exactly hit material. I don't even know if there was an FM rock station in the Binghamton area. I'll bet "St. Stephen" was getting played on WABC and WNEW in New York city, and some students were from there, but Live/Dead would have had to have been a hit in the dorms, rather than the radio, for anyone to have heard it.

Workingman's Dead would not be officially released until June 14, 1970, so much of the countrified material would have been a complete surprise to any Grateful Dead fans from the dorms. The Pacifica Radio broadcast of the Binghamton show did not happen until (as far as I know), June 21, which makes sense considering it would have been promoting Workingman's. The Dead pioneered live broadcasts as promotions, but it wasn't just luck. How many young hippies heard the Binghamton broadcast on KPFA or WBAI and went out and bought Workingman's Dead the next day?

I Looked Up, by The Incredible String Band, released April 1970 on Elektra

Tuesday, May 4 Incredible Sting Band

The Incredible String Band were another variation on "English Folk-Rock." They have not aged as well as Pentangle or Fairport, but in any case they were always sort of an acquired taste. The Incredibles stood out for borrowing from numerous world-wide folk traditions and stringed instruments, not being beholden to any kind of specific genre. Originally a trio, by 1970 they had released their sixth album on Elektra, I Looked Up.

Founders Mike Heron and Robin Williamson sang, wrote and played guitars and other instruments. They were supported on stage by their girlfriends, Licorice McKechnie and Rose Simpson (on vocals, bass and various instruments). Fairport drummer Dave Mattacks had played on the record, but I don't believe they toured with a drummer. Legendary producer Joe Boyd ("See Emily Play," Fairport Convention, Nick Drake, etc) had produced the album, as always.

Incredible Sting Band had played Woodstock, and they had a following, but they weren't a band that would have sounded good in a gym, nor sold that many tickets. I suspect they played in a theater on campus, hopefully one with good sound  (as a footnote, Tom Constanten would briefly join the Incredibles in early 1971, through his Scientology connection).

Sweet Baby James, by James Taylor, released in February 1970 on Warner Brothers Records

Friday, May 8 James Taylor

Huge as James Taylor would shortly become, I highly doubt he played the gym. He probably played the same theater where Incredible String Band had played. I don't know this for a fact, of course--it just seems reasonably likely (I did confirm from a newspaper search that Taylor played Friday, not Saturday).

James Taylor had released his debut album on Apple Records in 1968, to no acclaim. His effective debut was his second album, Sweet Baby James, released on Warner Brothers in February, 1970. After the hard rocking acid jams of Cream, Led Zeppelin and the like had dominated 60s music, James Taylor would usher in the 70s with his gentle and memorable songs, simply performed but deeply personal. Sweet Baby James would spawn a massive hit single, "Fire And Rain," which would peak at #3 on the Billboard charts in October 1971. These days, the title track is just as well known. But that was all in the future for the young James Taylor.

It's true that the kind of dorm hipster who wanted to see the Grateful Dead, Pentangle and Paul Butterfield might not be so excited about seeing James Taylor. Still, consider the fact that many of the students at SUNY Binghamton must have been from the New York Metro area. Let's face it--when James Taylor got huge by early '71, every one of those dorm groovers (I was definitely one, let's be clear) would have enjoyed saying "oh yeah, James Taylor, I saw him last year at a tiny hall in my school." 

Of the six bands booked here, the connecting tissue is that all of them were on either Warner Brothers or Elektra Records. Warners and Elektra were separate companies, but they shared distribution through a company called WEA (for Warner-Elektra-Atlantic). Since there were corporate ties between the companies, they probably shared a lot of other services, like promotion. That meant that any booking agents who worked with any of the bands found it easier to work with other bands in the corporate stable.

It's still surprising that some talent agent, or consortium of them (talent agents often worked together) got SUNY Binghamton to book four rock concerts in a week. There must have been some sort of deal--maybe WEA was running some kind of promotion. Still in all, epic as the Grateful Dead show in the West Gym must have been, it seems to have been part of an amazing musical week that was of Fillmore East quality, out in the friendly hinterlands. Here's to hoping we can find out more about this whole week.

Update: Esteemed scholar LightIntoAshes is all over it (and has been since 2012!). Here's the story

The reason for so many bands in one weekend was "Spring Weekend" at Harpur. The music schedule:
Friday May 1 -
Pentangle 8:00, men's gym
Paul Butterfield 10:30, women's gym
Sat May 2 -
Grateful Dead with light show 8:30, men's gym
Dance featuring the "Jam Factory" 11:30, women's gym

The April 17 Colonial News clarified the Spring Weekend schedule:
"Friday, May 1 at 8:15 pm, Pentangle will be featured in a concert in the men's gym. This will be followed by a dance-concert given by Paul Butterfield in the women's gym.
On Saturday, the Grateful Dead will perform at 8:30 pm in the men's gym. There will be none of the usual seating arrangement. At 11:30, the Jam Factory will play for a dance to be held in the women's gym.
Tickets for the above events will go on sale Saturday, April 25. Prices will be: Pentangle $1.00, Paul Butterfield $1.00, The Grateful Dead $1.50, Jam Factory $.50.
...Because the Grateful Dead concert will have no seats and Paul Butterfield is a dance concert, only Pentangle will have reserved seats."

The Incredible String Band played in the Women's Gym on Tuesday May 5. James Taylor also played the Women's Gym on Friday May 8. These shows were presented by the Convocations Committee. Tickets had gone on sale at the end of April, and they were unconnected to Spring Weekend. (Tickets were $1.00 each.)

On May 6, by the way, the university went on strike. While James Taylor played, there was a mass meeting going on in the Men's Gym. Classes ceased, and the student paper stopped printing the following week as the campus emptied. Needless to say there were no reviews of the final concerts.

I also added another article on the Spring Weekend schedule at Dead Sources. The newspaper itself seems surprised at how many bands were appearing that week. The student events group (called the Convocations Committee) was flush with cash: the committee told the paper it had met its budget even after spending $17,000 on all these bands, was "able to forego profit necessities," and was even thinking of putting on a concert every month.
As a result, Harpur students could go see six separate concerts that week at a total cost of $6.00. 

Here's to The Jam Factory, whoever they might have been--presumably a local band--starting their dance in the Women's Gym at 11:30 pm, while the Dead were still probably wailing through their first electric set, with hours to go.

The Grateful Dead at SUNY Binghamton (from my post on the Grateful Dead in Upstate and Central New York, 1969-79)

May 2, 1970 West Gym, Harpur College, SUNY Binghamton, Binghamton, NY: Grateful Dead/New Riders Of The Purple Sage (Saturday)
The Grateful Dead had another paying college gig on Saturday, May 2, and this one was another legendary show. The band was playing at the State University of New York at Binghamton, in Binghamton, NY. Up until 1965, the school had been known as Harpur College, until it was absorbed by the SUNY system. The school currently has 17,000+ students. While it surely had fewer students in 1970, it wasn't tiny.

Binghamton, NY doesn't resonate with most people, but IBM got started nearby, and General Electric and Alcoa had big operations there. Binghamton is near the Pennsylvania border, at the confluence of the Susquehanna and Chenango Rivers. Binghamton had been a main stop on the Chenango Canal (now NY Highway 12). The Chenango Canal connected the Susquehanna River to the Erie Canal, which made the city into a manufacturing hub. The canal was replaced by the Erie Railroad (later the Erie Lackawanna, which was the parent of NJ Transit's Morristown Line), but the town retained its importance. GE, IBM and others continued to make the area economically prosperous from the 1950s through the 80s.

As we all know, what was remarkable about the Binghamton show was that the entire 7-hour extravaganza was recorded and broadcast on the Pacifica Radio network (including KPFA in Berkeley and WBAI in New York). Although the show was not simulcast, to my knowledge, but rather broadcast sometime in June (probably June 21), nonetheless much of the country got several hours of the real, live 1970 Grateful Dead. No wonder the show was bootlegged and taped so widely. From a Grateful Dead touring point of view, however, it was just another gig that paid, if a good one.






Saturday, September 19, 2020

GD Spinoff Bands (non-JG) Overview and Navigation

Kingfish rocking it at Alpine Meadows, near Lake Tahoe, CA August 31 1975 (l-r Hoddinott, Weir, Torbert, Chris Herold hidden)

Over time, I have made an effort to document many of the bands related to the Grateful Dead. In particular, I have tried to document the personnel and recording history of many such bands that did not feature Jerry Garcia. Garcia himself, and his numerous musical ventures, are well-covered over at Jerrybase. Ensembles that didn't feature Jerry Garcia, however, are rather harder to find out about. 

I have assembled all my posts about such groups here. In some cases, I have included posts that are not complete, so readers can see what is planned. Here and there, I have included some groups with Garcia, just because they are needed to clarify the arc of the different musicians. All of these posts are accessible on my main Navigation post, but this post is easier to navigate when trying to answer specific questions. Since I needed to build this for myself, I decided to share it.

David Nelson>Dave Torbert>Matt Kelly>Bob Weir Performance History Posts
I have an ongoing project to sort out the histories of the various Grateful Dead spin-off bands that played multiple shows but did not include Garcia. Some of these posts have complete lists of shows, and others just emphasize the personnel changes and time frames. In this list, I have not included posts about individual shows or events that feature some of these bands.

Dave Torbert at Alpine Meadows Aug 31 1975

The Good News Performance History 1966

The Good News were from Redwood City, CA, and featured Dave Torbert and Chris Herold.

The New Delhi River Band opened for Them in August 1966, at Losers South in San Jose. Their name was often spelled differently on different posters (here it is New Dalie River Band)

New Delhi River Band Performane History Summer 1966 (David Nelson I)

Palo Alto's second psychedelic blues band, The New Delhi River Band, featured David Nelson, Dave Torbert and Chris Herold

New Delhi River Band Performance History Fall 1966 (David Nelson II)  

New Delhi River Band Performance History January-June 1967 (David Nelson III) 

New Delhi River Band Performance History July 1967-February 1968 (David Nelson IV)

David Nelson Musical Activities February 1969-May 1969 (David Nelson V)
After the demise of The New Delhi River Band, David Nelson lays fairly low
I have written numerous posts about the New Riders of The Purple Sage, and they are outside the scope of this Navigation post. In order to keep the Nelson/Torbert straight, some NRPS chronology is required, so I have included these posts (other NRPS posts can be found on the main Navigation post).

New Riders Of The Purple Sage Personnel 1969-81
This post has a complete list of their personnel changes from 1969-1981. Jerry Garcia's last performance as a member of the New Riders was on October 31, 1971.

Riders Of The Purple Sage: Old, New and Resurrected (Who Was Bobby Ace?)
2019 archival releases for the New Riders tell us not only about the genesis and evolution of the band, but give us a glimpse of some other plans that may have been afoot.
New Riders Of The Purple Sage Tour History May 1969-April 1970 (NRPS Itinerary I)
Includes existing setlists from the Owsley Stanley Foundation, plus other supporting information.

Matthew Kelly and Bob Weir with Kingfish, August 31 '75 at Alpine Meadows

Shango, Horses and Matt Kelly 1968 (Matt Kelly I)

The backstory to Matt Kelly's links to the Grateful Dead start with his band Shango, with Torbert and Herold, back in 1968.

Gospel Oak/Mountain Current/33 1969-73 (Matt Kelly II)
The Matt Kelly story goes to England, the Santa Cruz Mountains and throughout the United States.
Bob Weir produced an album for guitarist David Rea, and it featured numerous members of the Grateful Dead family. This album triggered the reunion of childhood pals Matt Kelly and Bob Weir. Rea formed the band Slewfoot afterwards.

Lonesome Janet>Kingfish Performance History 1973-74 (Matt Kelly III, Kingfish 0) [in development]
Matt Kelly returns to the Santa Cruz Mountains with the predecessor to Kingfish, and then Dave Torbert joins up in early 1974

Bob Weir and Kingfish Tour History Fall 1974 (Kingfish I, Matt Kelly IV)-Bob Weir joins Kingfish, as the Dead have stopped performing
Kingfish Performance History 1977-82 (Kingfish V, Matt Kelly VIII)  [in development]
--after Weir's departure, and until his return, Kingfish had a strange, complicated history

Heaven Help The Fool, Bob Weir's second solo album, released on Arista Records Jan '78

Formation of The Bob Weir Band Fall 1977 (Enter Brent)

Brent Mydland joined the Bob Weir Band, and then the Grateful Dead. But how did he even get there? No one has looked into it, so I did
An overview of the connections between the Bob Weir Band and Bobby And The Midnites
Kingfish with Bob Weir 1984-87 (Kingfish VI, Matt Kelly IX)
Weir began to re-appear regularly, though not permanently, with Kingfish in late 1984

In the interests of completeness, here are the other spinoff group posts:


Sunday, July 26, 2020

The Grateful Dead at The Oakland Coliseum Arena and Stadium (1974-95)

Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Stadium, 7000 Coliseum Way, Oakland, CA 94621
now: Coliseum
First Grateful Dead show: June 8, 1974
Last Grateful Dead show: May 27, 1989 (5 shows)
Also: Bob Weir and Kingfish (June 29, 1975, opening for Doobie Bros/Eagles), and Nelson Mandela (June 30 '90, Mickey Hart part of drum procession)

The Oakland Coliseum Stadium always shared a parking lot with the indoor basketball arena. It was part of the thrust for "multi-use" stadiums that were popular in the 1970s. As such, it housed both the Raiders (from 1966-81, then from 1995-2019) and the Oakland Athletics (since 1968). Amazingly, although the Raiders finally departed last year, it still houses the A's. Once, the Coliseum was a gleaming new cement palace that was superior to cold Candlestick across the bay. Now, it's a rundown cement block that pales before PacBell Park or Levi's Stadium. The strange return of the Raiders in 1995 caused new centerfield bleachers (known colloquially as "Mt Davis") to be constructed, ruining the pleasant view of the Oakland hills. Nonetheless, the stadium perseveres, even if its tenants perpetually threaten to move.

The Coliseum Stadium was the primary spot for most of the huge outdoor rock shows in the Bay Area in the 20th century, save for the Beatles appearance at Candlestick (August 29 1966), which preceded the stadium. The few subsequent Candlestick rock concerts were only held there, grudgingly, because the A's or Raiders had prior bookings at the Coliseum,

The Dead played five shows at the Stadium, all pretty legendary. They headlined over The Beach Boys on June 8, 1974, they were double-billed with The Who on October 9-10, 1976, they played with Bob Dylan on July 24, 1987 and they headlined over John Fogerty (who was backed by Jerry and Bob, among others) on May 27, 1989. It's kind of like the A's: the Coliseum itself isn't that memorable, but what happened there remains etched in your mind long after you have departed.

Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena, 7000 Coliseum Way, Oakland, CA 94621
replaced by: Oracle Arena (re-opened 1997), now the Oakland Arena (re-named 2019)
First Grateful Dead show: February 17, 1979
Last Grateful Dead show: February 26, 1995 (66 shows)
Also: Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir, Dec 4 '88 (Bridge Concert), Jerry Garcia Band Oct 31 '92

Ask a veteran Deadhead, perhaps yourself: what building did the Grateful Dead play the most? Go ahead, look it up on Deadlists. The Fillmore East (43 shows)? The original Fillmore Auditorium (51)? Madison Square Garden (52)? The Philadelphia Spectrum (53)? Winterland (60)? 1545 Market Street, the location of both the Carousel Ballroom (16) and Fillmore West (46--total=62)?

What building did the Grateful Dead play most often? The answer turns out to be the mostly unloved Oakland Coliseum Arena, which the Grateful Dead played 66 times between 1979 and 1995. The Coliseum complex, with the indoor arena and the outdoor stadium, was built in 1966 to house the Oakland Raiders and tempt the (at the time) San Francisco Warriors and Kansas City Athletics. It did just that. No one really loved the Coliseum, but it had and has a spectacularly central location, right off Highway 880. It had its own BART stop, it was near the Airport, you could get there easily from every Bay Area county, but it was just sort of--there.

As a result, the 15,000+-capacity Coliseum Arena was the prime spot for top rock acts in the Bay Area from the late 60s through the 90s. Initially, the Arena was too big for rock acts, but when bands like Cream, Blind Faith and the Rolling Stones had their most famous tours, the Coliseum was not only the biggest venue, but also the best located. Thus the roster of bands that have played the Coliseum Arena is like a Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction list. Even when Shoreline Amphitheatre came along in 1986 and superseded the Coliseum as the flagship Bay Area venue, the Coliseum still handled all the Fall and Winter shows, so everybody still played the venue regularly.

Most long-tenured Deadheads, myself included, have seen some Dead shows at the Arena. Some of them were pretty good, too. But they don't have the sense of place that the Oakland Auditorium had. Maybe it was the size, or the nondescript architecture of the building. Maybe it was just because I went to the Coliseum so many times, and have so many great memories, that the Dead are just one of many (Back in the early 80s, I saw 6'4 Adrian Dantley of the Utah Jazz drop 46 on the Warriors one night, mostly from the paint, and it was a thing to behold. Come to think of it, I saw Swen Nater do the same--don't get me started on Joe Barry Carroll's defense...Which just shows you that I don't even think of the Dead first at the Coliseum). There were actually a number of social connections between the Grateful Dead and the popular but usually underperforming Golden State Warriors. The most famous of these was the Dead's contributions to the 1992 Lithuanian Olympic Team (captured in the movie The Other Dream Team).

After the 1996-97 NBA season, the Coliseum Arena was fully remodeled into a much larger configuration, and now can seat just over 20,000 for basketball. It spent a decade as the Oracle Arena,  the home of the unexpectedly mighty Golden State Warriors. The Warriors, too, have now moved on, leaving just the A's. The answer hasn't changed, though--the building the Grateful Dead played the most was the Oakland Coliseum Arena.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Merl Saunders: Late 60s Highlights (Stairway To Jerry)

Soul Grooving, by the Merl Saunders Trio and Big Band, released on Galaxy Records in 1968

Merl Saunders (1934-2008) is now well-known for his famous association with Jerry Garcia, playing with Garcia and other members of the Dead in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. Once Saunders became part of the extended Garciaverse, Deadheads kept track of his musical doings. But Merl Saunders had an extensive career prior to Garcia. He would occasionally allude to it, but most interviewers wanted to turn the story back to Jerry, so all we got were bits and pieces. I am trying to put together Merl Saunders' pre-Jerry arc here, so we can see the components of Saunders music before the inflection point.

Merl Saunders, born Merl Washington, was San Francisco born and raised. I don't know exactly where he lived, but I'm pretty sure it was in the Haight-Ashbury or the Western Addition (which included the Fillmore district). Saunders went to San Francisco Polytechnic High ("Poly"), which was at 710 Frederick Street, just across from Kezar Stadium. All we really know is that Saunders had a band in high school, because he was the first one to offer singer Johnny Mathis a gig (Mathis went to Washington High, but I think they knew each other from sports). [update: Fellow scholar and regular Commenter Bill sends over an interview he did with Merl on KZFR-fm in Chico in 1999: Merl's high school band in the late 40s was called the Educated Men Of Music. It included singers Jean Turner (later with Stan Kenton) and Mathis, plus flute player Freddie Gene Smith (later with Smokey Robinson].[update II: fellow scholar JGMF reports that Mathis lived a few blocks from the Saunders family in the Haight-Ashbury].

Saunders was in the US Air Force from 1953 to 1957. Since getting drafted was all but inevitable, a four-year hitch often let the recruit choose his specialization, instead of just being a grunt. Since the US had a true citizen army in the 50s, I wouldn't be surprised if Merl spent much of his Army time playing music (certainly Mickey Hart did that in the US Air Force)[update: the KZFR interview confirms that Merl mainly played music in the Service]. After the Air Force, Saunders seems to have become a musical professional. I know that Saunders was a postman in San Francisco at some point, perhaps the early 60s, but many aspiring musicians (ok, well, not Jerry Garcia) take regular day jobs when they have to.

Since Saunders was an organ player, he most likely played more extended gigs at various places, rather than one-nighters. It's hard to lug a Hammond organ around, and it makes more sense to leave it in one place for a week or more. Organ trios were a distinctly African-American musical style from the late 50s onwards, based on the style of the great Jimmy Smith [update: the KZFR interview confirms that Merl toured organ lounges coast-to-coast on the "Chitlin Circuit." He hung out and played a little with Jimmy Smith as well].

There was a circuit of those kinds of clubs around the Bay Area back then, like Jack's (at 1601 Fillmore, across from the Fillmore Auditorium) or Minnie's-Can-Do Club (at 1915 Fillmore) in the Fillmore. Jack's, originally Jack's Tavern, and later Jack's On Sutter (it was at 1931 Sutter), had been one of the first and most important jazz clubs in the Fillmore district back in the 1940s. One of the house bands at Jack's was led by Saunders King, whose presence was so powerful that young Merl Washington changed his stage name to Merl Saunders. It had to be a kick for Merl to play Jack's himself, even if the club had moved to the new location at Fillmore Street (which is now The Boom Boom Room).

An article in the October 18, 1967 Oakland Tribune notes a performance by Merl Saunders at the Jazz Workshop in San Francisco
In the October 18, 1967 Oakland Tribune, jazz critic Russ Wilson gave a good review of the Merl Saunders Trio's appearance at San Francisco's Jazz Workshop. The trio included Jimmy Daniels on guitar and drummer Eddie Moore. Moore was Merl Saunders' first cousin. From the description, it sounds like the trio was a quality band, but pretty much in the typical groove of organ trios of the time, jazzing up popular songs.

Wilson mentions some of the bookings for the Saunders Trio, including The Trident in Sausalito, Harvey's Wagon Wheel in Lake Tahoe, Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas and a gig in Chicago. So Saunders was definitely getting around by this time.

Russ Wilson reviewed the Merl Saunders Trio appearance at The Trident in the May 24, 1968 Oakland Tribune. Saunders was filling in for Vince Guaraldi

May 21-June 9, 1968 The Trident, Sausalito, CA: Merl Saunders Trio
Sausalito was once a fishing village on the opposite side of the bay from San Francisco. Ultimately it became a Ferry terminus to the North Pacific Coast Railroad. However, when the Golden Gate Bridge opened in 1937, Sausalito's waterfront declined rapidly. Sausalito had always had a colorful history, with bootleggers, rum runners and bordellos, and that aspect of the community was ascendant for some years. By the 1960s, however, the seedy history of Sausalito had made it a desirable bohemian enclave.

The Trident was owned by one Frank Werber, who had made a fair amount of money as the producer of The Kingston Trio. Under his Trident Productions banner, he produced a variety of other acts as well. In the mid-60s, he dipped his toes in the folk-rock waters, signing and producing Bay Area acts like Blackburn & Snow and The Sons Of Champlin.  In 1966, Werber and the Kingston Trio opened up The Trident Restaurant on the water (at 558 Bridgewater), which also regularly featured jazz. It instantly became the in place for upscale downsiders and downscalers with an upside.

In 1967 Frank Werber gave up the record business, a rare man who took his money out of the biz before he lost it. He kept The Trident, however. As the San Francisco bohemian underground became rock and roll royalty, The Trident was a main hangout for record company people, Bill Graham, rock stars, film stars and other cool people. The Trident was famous for having spectacularly beautiful waitresses, all reputedly braless. The Trident also booked jazz five or six nights a week, an interesting paradox in a club that celebrated the rock and roll life. Nonetheless, the quality of jazz performers at The Trident was uniformly high, whether local performers or recruited from out of town.

According to Russ Wilson's review in the Oakland Tribune, the Merl Saunders Trio was engaged when, per Wilson, "oddly enough... pianist Vince Guaraldi sprained a finger Saturday night getting off an airplane, and notified the club he couldn't keep his booking for the following Tuesday, according to club manager Lou Ganapoler" (Vince Guaraldi scholars take note). The peculiar tone of Wilson's explanation suggests that there was more to Guaraldi's sprained finger than he is saying, but no matter: Merl and his trio were on board. Apparently Saunders had filled in for a few days the previous year (1967) when another headliner had been unable to make it, so they weren't a complete unknown to The Trident.

Wilson names a few songs that the Saunders trio played, such as "Up, Up And Away," "You Better Love Me," "Little Bird" and "Sometimes I'm Happy." Wilson praises Saunders as "an organist who knows his stops as well as his keyboards, and who builds on this foundation with musicality, taste and a strong ability to swing..."[Saunders] perceptive use of these basics often makes his output superior to that of widely known jazz organists." The critic does add that "there are times when Saunders and his cohorts fall into a dismal swamp, as they did with the current pop tune "Up, Up And Away." These two points fairly sum up Saunders ability as a keyboard player: he is versatile, sticks to the basic and knows how to swing, while sometimes falling into unneeded noodling.

It is interesting also to read Wilson's comments about guitarist Jimmy Daniels. He says "on appropriate numbers he utilizes a blues vibrato that gets into the nitty-gritty and on ballads he plays with a full melodic sound that enhances the tune." A few years later, Saunders would play with another guitarist who would utilize even more blues vibrato and play with a full melodic sound, as well.  It is interesting to see that Merl Saunders's sound was well established prior to playing with Jerry Garcia and John Kahn in 1970.

From Russ Wilson's July 28, 1968 column in the Oakland Tribune

This brief listing in Russ Wilson's Jazz column in the Oakland Tribune of July 28, 1968, gives an insight into Saunders true breadth, and serves as a reminder to one of the forgotten markets of sixties music. The notice says

Organist Merl Saunders' trio is on a Far Eastern tour that has included Bangkok, Manila and Tokyo, where the group now is playing club and TV engagements.
While I would love to know more about this tour, it's a reminder that up to 500,000 American soldiers were in Vietnam, which meant that at any given time a lot of soldiers were in Manila, Bangkok and Tokyo. The perennial presence of American soldiers had in turn given Asian nations a taste of American music,  too, so there were many opportunities to tour Asia. Many groups toured Vietnam, too, under some quite weird conditions (for example, rock bands were always told not to play The Animals song "We've Gotta Get Out Of This Place").

Merl Saunders was interviewed many times, but of course almost all those interviews were Jerry, Jerry, Jerry, so I don't recall ever hearing about a Far Eastern tour. Whether Merl's trio played venues that attracted servicemen, locals or both, it had to be an odd experience to play American music in Asia at the height of the Cold War. Saunders himself was a veteran, so that too may have added a different perspective. It certainly puts playing the Keystone Berkeley for a bunch of hippies in a different light.

An ad for Meile Saunders Trio (sic) at the EXIT in Palo Alto, from the January 24, 1969 Stanford Daily

January 24-25, 1969 the Exit, Palo Alto, CA: Smoke/Merle Saunders Trio
By 1969, Palo Alto actually had a groovy little rock scene downtown. But it wasn't much of a jazz town. In the January 24, 1969 Stanford Daily there is an ad for an apparently new club called the EXIT. There had been a juke joint over the county line in East Palo Alto called The Exit Inn, but I don't know if they played organ music. In any case, Exit is a typical sort of hipster club name, and may have had no connection to the East Palo Alto place. 3489 El Camino Real was way south of downtown, not far from a lengthy strip of motels. So there would have been plenty of potential patrons, but it wasn't any part of the downtown bohemian scene that had been pioneered by young folkies like Jerry Garcia.

Although I don't know when Merl's Soul Grooving album had been released, it was sometime in 1968. In 1968, just having an album, even if no one had really heard it, was an important credential for a working jazz musician. Galaxy Records was a subsidiary of Fantasy Records, apparently created for musicians who were in the union. In the 60s, Fantasy Studios were in Oakland, on 30th Street and Peralta, near the Emeryville border. Creedence Clearwater recorded their early, famous albums there, and Merl became friends with the band. Thus when Tom Fogerty left Creedence in late 1970, he was already friendly with Merl, so it was a natural fit to join Jerry Garcia, Merl and John Kahn in their casual pickup band.

The cover of Soul Grooving is also the only photo I have seen of Merl prior to meeting Jerry. Merl has said he went from being a snappy looking dude in a suit to a casual guy with a beard and tennis shoes, just one of the many ways that Garcia influenced Saunders.

The Playbill for "Big Time Buck White," starring Muhammad Ali, with Merl Saunders as musical director. The show lasted a week.
November 15-December 6, 1969 George Abbott Theater, 152 W. 54th St, New York, NY
"Big Time Buck White"
First Preview: November 15, 1969 (16 preview performances)
Performances: December 2-6, 1969 (5 performances)
"Big Time Buck White" was a musical about a black labor organizer. Based on a play by Joseph Dolan Tuotti, it had been adapted as a musical by Oscar Brown, Jr. Although I don't know the exact origins of the show, Brown had starred in a San Francisco production for quite some time, at The Commitee Theater on 836 Montgomery, starting about February, 1969. At some point, Merl Saunders had become the musical director of the San Francisco production[update: JGMF sent over some remarkably detailed information, and Saunders seems to have been the musical director of the SF production from its beginning in February '69].

When the production moved to "Off-Broadway" in New York, however, it had a new star: none other than Muhammad Ali. Ali was banned from boxing at the time, so he tried his hands at, of all things, musical theater. Per the New York Times review, Ali had a real stage presence, and wasn't a bad singer.

The musicians roster from the 1969 Playbill for "Big Time Buck White." Merl Saunders played organ and piano and led the 10-piece band. Billy Cobham was the drummer.
I don't know whether Merl Saunders had played New York before, but what a way to debut. Saunders led a 10-piece band. The most memorable name was none other than Billy Cobham on drums.

Nonetheless, the show closed quickly, after just a week. Sometime shortly after that, Merl Saunders opened for Miles Davis for a week or two at a Manhattan jazz club--I think the Village Vanguard. Most likely, it was the same band from the show. Since "Buck White" closed quickly, and the band was in New York anyway, it made sense for them to play a club. When they were rehearsing one afternoon, Miles came by and listened, and apparently briefly sat in, a benediction for any musician

There isn't a Miles Davis concert history online, surprisingly, but I know Miles was touring in Europe in November and recording in Manhattan in December, so the timeline fits.

The debut album by Danny Cox, released in 1971 on ABC/Dunhill Records, produced by Nick Gravenites. Musicians on the album include Merl Saunders, John Kahn, Bill Vitt, Chepito Areas and the Tower Of Power horns.

By 1970, Merl Saunders was back in San Francisco. He was writing and recording "jingles for cigarette commercials" (his description) and playing some organ gigs around town. Thanks to the Fillmore rock explosion, however, San Francisco had a thriving recording studio team. Record companies were not only signing the local bands, they were sending in players from out of town to catch some of the vibe. One of the new producers was Nick Gravenites, songwriter, former lead singer of the Electric Flag and general all-around character. ABC/Dunhill Records hired Gravenites to produce the debut album for Kansas City-based folksinger Danny Cox, and booked Wally Heider Studios.

In those days, producers often recorded a "demo" version of the album first, with just basic tracks, so the record company could see what they were getting. Gravenites had hired John Kahn to play bass, whom he knew well from working with Mike Bloomfield. Merl Saunders was hired to play organ. I think Kahn knew Merl from seeing him at places like Jack's. In any case, Gravenites probably knew Merl as well. Bill Vitt, another Gravenites regular, was on drums, and future Stonegrounder Tim Barnes was on lead guitar.

Kahn had a casual weeknight gig at The Matrix, playing bass with Vitt, organist Howard Wales and Jerry Garcia. Garcia was around Wally Heider Studios a lot in those days, working on albums with Paul Kantner and others. So that was how Garcia and Merl Saunders met, in the hallway at Wally Heider, while Merl and John were working on the Danny Cox album. When Howard Wales decided he didn't always want to show up to Matrix gigs, Kahn suggested calling Merl, and Jerry assented. And so it began.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

March 17, 1969 Winterland, San Francisco, CA: Members of the Airplane, Dead and Sons "Monster Jam For Olompali"

An article from the March 17, 1969 Berkeley Barb, describing the planned "Super Jam" at Winterland to raise money for the former residents of Rancho Olompali

March 17, 1969 Winterland, San Francisco, CA: "Super Jam" with members of Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead and Sons Of Champlin" Benefit for Rancho Olompali (Monday)
About a decade ago, I had found a reference to this show and speculated that a 1969 Benefit Jam for Olompali might include members of the Grateful Dead or Jefferson Airplane. Expert research by Ross turned up the goods, namely an article from the March 17, 1969 Berkeley Barb (above) promising that members of the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Sons of Champlin and others would perform. The article says
A "Superjam" dance and concert will be thrown at Winterland this Monday, St. Patrick's Nite, to benefit the Chosen Family that was busted and burned out at Rancho Olompali in Novato.

Featured will be musicians from the leading Bay Area rock groups, according to Bob McKendrick from Olompali, the Airplane, the Dead, and Sons of Champlin are expected to show up; also jamming will be the Garden of Delights, and a blues-rock group new to San Francisco, Red Mountain. Glen McKay's Headlights will provide enlightenment for all. The Superjam is for a good cause . . . something like 18 to 20 people from Olompali haven't the bread to pay their attorney's fees, and they are all homeless, as Burdell Mansion on Olompall burned down after the bust.

The Benefit is being sponsored by the Deja Vu Foundation, Inc., in association with Crinkle Productions, and will happen at Winterland, Post and Sterner Streets in The City. That's Monday, March 17th, from 8:30 pm till 1 am; donation asked at the door will be $3.00 . . .for some beautiful people.
Rancho Olompali was the Marin County retreat for the Grateful Dead in Spring 1966, before they moved to 710 Ashbury (via Western Marin) in September.  It was owned by Don McCoy, who later lived across the street at 715 Ashbury. In 1967, McCoy started a commune called The Chosen Family. A fire caused by faulty wiring burned down the mansion, possibly connected to a drug bust at the same time.

Most San Francisco bands didn't work Monday nights, so a benefit for friends was somewhat easier to put together. Some will recognize Bob McKendrick (the Olompali resident quoted in the article) as a promoter of San Francisco rock shows in 1966 and 1967. Mind you, calling the event "Super Jam" and not mentioning the groups by name means that its not an absolute guarantee that the complete Dead or Airplane showed up. The show could very well have featured some combination of Hot Tuna and/or Mickey and The Hartbeats instead, although to me that makes the show even more intriguing.

Rancho Olompali, and the mansion on it, had a long and complicated history dating back to 1843, General Vallejo and Mexican California. The property had ended up in the hands of the University of San Francisco by the 1950s. In the 1960s, they attempted to sell it various times, but when various buyers defaulted, the property kept reverting back to USF. I assume Don McCoy gave up on the property as well. In 1977, the State of California purchased the property from USF, and turned it into Olompali Historic State Park. The address of the park is 8901 Old Redwood Highway, 3.5 miles East of Novato, CA.

Rancho Olompali had been an important way station for the fledgling Grateful Dead. In early Summer 1966, they had lived there for a month or two, throwing epic parties. Garcia recalled (in Signpost To New Space, via LIA:
It was a great place. It had a swimming pool and barns and that sort of thing… We didn’t have that place very long, only about eight weeks. It was incredibly intense for everybody… Novato was completely comfortable, wide open, high as you wanted to get, run around naked if you wanted to, fall in the pool, completely open scenes. And I think it was the way they went down and the way people responded to that kind of situation. Everything was just super-groovy. It was a model of how things could really be good. If they really wanted to be. All that was a firming up of the whole social world of rock and roll around here…all the musicians in the Bay Area, most of them are from around here, they’ve known each other for a really long time in one scene or another – and that whole thing was shored up…at those parties. The guys in Jefferson Airplane would get together with Quicksilver and different guys, 81 different players, would get together and get high and get loose and have some fun… That was when we started getting tight with Quicksilver… They came and hung out at our place in Novato when we had our parties. And a lot of people like the various filmmakers and writers and dope dealers. All the people who were into doing stuff. People who had seen each other at rock and roll shows…in that first year. Those parties were like a chance to move the whole thing closer, so to speak. It was good times – unselfconscious and totally free. After that we moved back into San Francisco.

In 1968-69, the members of the Dead were all over the North Bay, but they still hung out at Olompali. They regularly held jams outdoors there, with the likes of Jack Casady. Fellow scholar LightIntoAshes has a fascinating article detailing the complicated connection of the Grateful Dead to Olompali, with photos and eyewitness accounts. Most fascinatingly, the back cover photo of Aoxomoxoa was taken there, in early 1969. Besides the Dead, there are all sort of Chosen Family members, band friends and girlfriends, and even pianist Vince Guaraldi (a pal of the Dead's at the time) (no, Courtney Love is not in the photo). So the Grateful Dead in particular were very connected to the land and the residents, and it must have been no small thing when it burned down after a drug bust.

Ralph Gleason mentioned the benefit in his Monday night column of March 17, 1969

Ultimately, in the way of the Long Tail, an eyewitness turned up. "Terry Nails" said
As someone who was living at Olompali at the time of this concert I have vague memories of this gig. Most of the members of both the Airplane and the Dead showed up to play as well as Elvin Bishop and some of the member of It's a Beautiful Day and others. It was a good gig though not as successful monetarily as was hoped and the ranch was sadly closed not too long afterwards due to the drowning of 2 of the ranch's resident children in the unattended swimming pool...
Here's to hoping something good came of a bad event. Maybe someone else out there might realize the strange flashback they keep having really actually happened...

Sunday, May 3, 2020

New Riders of The Purple Sage Tour History May 1969>April 1970 (NRPS Itinerary I)

The December 2019 release by the Owsley Stanley Foundation of the 5cd box set Dawn Of The New Riders of The Purple Sage opened up new vistas in Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia history
The recent release by the Owsley Stanley Foundation of the 5cd box set Dawn Of The New Riders Of The Purple Sage was a revelation. Not only was a new window opened wide onto the music of the early New Riders, but the intricate evolution of the music of Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir played with the Grateful Dead could be woven into the tapestry of both bands.

The Owsley box shed some light in the much larger role played by Weir in the formative New Riders. Since May 1970 would bring forth "An Evening With The Grateful Dead," where the band would do sets as the "Acoustic Dead," then the New Riders of The Purple Sage and finally the full electric Dead, the reaffirmation of country and folk music for Garcia and Weir in 1969 informs the music in the following year. I made the case, perhaps somewhat too affirmatively, that what would become the Acoustic Dead was originally conceived of as a country revue called Bobby Ace And The Cards Off The Bottom.

You can read my argument for yourself and decide to what extent the Cards Off The Bottom were an inside joke or a serious proposition. But now, thanks to Hawk of the Owsley Stanley Foundation, we have a lot of new information here, beyond what was just in the box set. Again, everybody gets to decide for themselves what it all means, but Hawk was kind enough to include all the available setlists from the Foundation tapes.

Combined with other information that I have gathered, here is a new and improved concert chronology for the New Riders of The Purple Sage from 1969 through Spring 1970. For the bigger picture of the New Riders genesis, and how Garcia and Dawson connected in the first place, see the prior post.

For songs that I haven't heard, I have made reasonable guesses as to what they were. I identified the most famous performer associated with the songs, rather than seeking out the publishing details, which are easily googlable in any case. I am trying to guess which versions Garcia, Weir and Dawson might have heard, rather than pursuing the vinyl details. Even a cursory glance shows the prevalence of George Jones and Buck Owens songs, even if most of them dropped away in subsequent years. Tracks released on Dawn Of The New Riders are in bold. Please note inaccuracies in the Comments.

Insights, corrections, additions, speculation eagerly welcomed in the Comment section. Thanks again to Hawk for the new information.

Gilded Palace Of Sin, the first album by The Flying Burrito Brothers, was released on A&M Records in 1969. Sneaky Pete Kleinow played pedal steel guitar
April 4-6, 1969 Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, CA: Grateful Dead/Flying Burrito Brothers/AUM/Sanpaku
Jerry Garcia hears Sneaky Pete Kleinow playing pedal steel guitar on Owsley's sound system. The next week he bought his second pedal steel guitar, a Zane Beck Double 10. He had owned and sold a Fender pedal steel around 1967, but it had been too hard to tune.

The site of Don Edwards' Guitar City in Lakewood, CO, a famous steel guitar emporium (I think the photo is actually from the later 1970s). Jerry Garcia bought his ZB10 pedal steel here on April 13 or 14, 1969.
April 13 or 14, 1969 Don Edwards Guitar City, Lakewood, CO
Jerry Garcia buys a pedal steel guitar from a well-known steel shop in Colorado.

May 7, 1969 The Underground, Menlo Park, CA: John Dawson
This was probably the first Wednesday night that Garcia sat in with Dawson. At the time, Dawson was alternating sets with a Flamenco guitarist named Daniel Crisman. If this was the first night, and Crisman was still on the bill, I wonder how it felt when Dawson got on stage with a genuine rock star?

The Menlo Hub restaurant, at 1029 El Camino Real in Menlo Park, as it appeared in 2012. It was probably the site of The Underground hofbrau, where Jerry Garcia first performed with John Dawson in May, 1969. Next door at 1035 El Camino (Su Hong) was the location of Guitars Unlimited, where Garcia and Bob Weir worked briefly in late 1965.
May 14, 1969 The Underground, Menlo Park, CA: John Dawson
Dawson and Garcia played, for certain, because the Owsley Foundation has a tape. Nelson had not yet joined. There are three reels of tape, so it's reasonable to assume the duo played at least three sets.
  1. A-11 (Buck Owens-1964)
  2. If You Hear Me When I'm Leaving
  3. Whatcha Gonna Do
  4. To Have the Hurting End
  5. The Lady Came From Baltimore (written Tim Hardin, released Bobby Darin-1967, later recorded by Joan Baez-1967)
  6. I've Got a Tiger By the Tail (Buck Owens-1965)
  7. Together Again (Buck Owens-1964--per Peter Grant, Tom Brumley's pedal steel ride on this song inspired both Grant and Garcia to want to play the instrument)
  8. Six Days On the Road
  9. I Shall Be Released (Dylan/The Band-1969)
  10. Crossover
  11. Hello Trouble (Buck Owens-1964)
  12. Garden of Eden
  13. Whatcha Gonna Do
  14. Sweet Lovin' One
  15. Superman
  16. Hey Melinda
  17. Just Like a Fool
  18. Jailbait (per Hawk, this appears to be a John Dawson original about being careful about underage women, sometimes called "Jailbait Gets You Busted." Unsettling as this sounds, there wais a California country tradition of songs like "San Quentin Quail" which never get covered anymore)
  19. Don't Take Any Chances
  20. Delilah
  21. I Still Miss Someone (Johnny Cash-1958)
  22. All I Ever Wanted
  23. I Don't Know You
  24. The Weight (The Band-1968)
  25. I'll Be Your Baby Tonight (Bob Dylan, from John Wesley Harding-1968)
  26. Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line (Waylon Jennings-1968)
  27. Long Black Veil (Lefty Frizzel-1959)
The Country Gentlemen's 1960 debut album Country Songs Old & New. The Gentlemen were from Washington, DC, not the Appalachians, and their approach to bluegrass was hugely influential on the likes of Jerry Garcia
Marmaduke & Jerry, Rehearsal, "Home" May 17, 1969
The tape box (per Hawk) apparently says "Home." Whose home? Jerry's? Owsley's? I'm more inclined to think it was Owsley's, at 6024 Ascot Drive in the Oakland Hills, but of course it's hard to be sure. 
  1. If you Hear Me When I'm Leaving (take 1)
  2. If you Hear Me When I'm Leaving (take 2)  
  3. Delilah (take 1)
  4. Delilah (take 2)
  5. The Lady Came From Baltimore
  6. I Still Miss Someone
  7. Sweet Lovin' One
  8. Roving Gambler (Country Gentlemen-1960))
  9. Whatcha Gonna Do
  10. All I Ever Wanted
  11. To Have the Hurting End
  12. Handsome Molly (this folk song goes back to the 19th century, but it was a well-known bluegrass song played by the Country Gentleman and many others)
  13. Unknown J. Dawson original 
  14. Superman
  15. Don't Take Any Chances
  16. Hey Melinda
  17. Crossover
  18. Somebody Loves You 
  19. The Next In Line (presumably Johnny Cash-1957)
  20. Jailbait
In summer 1969, Owsley Stanley lived in a house in the Oakland Hills at 6024 Ascot Drive (shown here in a 21st century real estate listing)
Marmaduke, Jerry, & Mickey, "Home" May 18, 1969
  1. Roving Gambler
  2. Stagger Lee (I wonder which version?)
  3. Fair Chance to Know
  4. Garden of Eden
  5. Whatcha Gonna Do
  6. Sweet Lovin' One
  7. The Next In Line
  8. Hey Melinda
  9. Crossover
  10. The Lady Came From Baltimore
  11. Truck Drivin' Man (Terry Fell-1954, a hit again for Buck Owens-1965)
  12. If You Hear Me When I'm Leaving
An SF Chronicle listing from January 6, 1969, advertising Peter Albin and David Getz hosting a "Jam" at Monday night at the Matrix. David Nelson played this gig, along with a few others, in anticipation of a reformed Big Brother and The Holding Company. Peter Albin and Nelson had been best friends in Carlmont High in Belmont, and Peter's older brother Rodney has introduced Nelson to both bluegrass and Jerry Garcia.
May 21, 1969 The Underground, Menlo Park, CA: John Dawson
Likely another night that Garcia backed Dawson (the Dead were booked May 28), without Nelson.

(update: JGMF reminds us that Jerry Garcia and Friends were booked at The Matrix on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 20-21). I had forgot about this. But as my own comments on the post say, I'm pretty sure I have an eyewitness. (To recap: Jerry Garcia and Friends/Sanpaku played Matrix Tues/Wed May 20-21. Sanpaku's road manager told a story about playing in front of Owsley and Garcia and trying to impress them and melting down, thanks to--ahem--Mr. Owsley). I'm assuming that to have been Tuesday May 20. Garcia and Dawson could have had a Menlo Park Hofbrau gig on Wednesday (May 21) and Garcia still could have made the Wednesday Matrix show. Presumably, Garcia and Friends was some sort of Hartbeats jam thing, but that remains mysterious (and my eyewitness can't help, of course).

Also, there is another twist to the David Nelson story, namely that he was more or less a member of Big Brother and The Holding Company at this time. During at least some of May, he was (per himself, via Gans) recording in Los Angeles with Sam Andrews and others, probably Peter Albin, drummer Dave Getz and singer Kathi McDonald. So Nelson may not have even been in town when Dawson and Garcia played together the first few times.

Another scholar spoke with Peter Albin of Big Brother about that band's timeline. Around Christmas 1968, Albin asked Nelson to join a reformed Big Brother. At the time, Nelson was staying in Big Brother's rehearsal warehouse in San Francisco. Albin and Nelson were close friends from their days going to school together at Carlmont High in San Carlos, just south of San Francisco. Indeed, Peter's older brother Rodney had introduced Nelson to both bluegrass and Jerry Garcia.

Although the putative Big Brother played at least one gig at the Matrix (Jan 6 '69), plans for a reactivation were put on hold when Albin and Getz toured with Country Joe and The Fish throughout Europe in March and April of that year. The recording started in May (for the album which would become the underrated Be A Brother), but Big Brother didn't have much going on. Per Peter Albin, Nelson took the opportunity to join the New Riders instead, because they had more momentum. Still, we don't know when Nelson joined Garcia and Dawson, and I'm starting to think it wasn't until June.
May 1969 GD/Garcia Tour Itinerary

June 3 or 4 (?), 1969 Peninsula School, Menlo Park, CA: unbilled benefit
Although undetermined, the most likely date for the gig described in Blair Jackson's book is during this week. The lineup was apparently Dawson, Garcia, David Nelson and Phil Lesh (per Jackson). So Nelson must finally have been involved, and somehow Lesh had gotten in the picture as well.

Peninsula School was a "progressive" K-8 school for the Ban The Bomb crowd in the South Bay, located at 925 Peninsula Way in Menlo Park, near Willow Road. Bob Weir and Bob Matthews had attended, as had John Dawson. Future GDTS operator Steve Marcus had grown up nearby, and probably attended this show. Jerry Garcia had a long history of playing at the school. His daughter Heather was probably a student, and his ex-wife Sara may have been a music instructor at the time. It's likely that the proceeds from the show offset Heather's tuition (as the New Riders would play the next few years as well).

My general theory, unproven, is that Garcia played the Peninsula date on the afternoon that he had a date at the Underground.

June 4, 1969 The Underground, Menlo Park, CA: John Dawson
I have indirect confirmation of this date. It's plausible to think that the Peninsula School gig was in the afternoon, and the club in the evening. There was a Bay Area rock group called Southern Comfort who had a show at Palo Alto's only real rock club, The Poppycock. The band's drummer, Bob Jones (who played with John Kahn, Mike Bloomfield and many others) told me in an email that he recalled that he had heard that members of the Dead were playing nearby, so they left the club prior to going on stage. They were immediately busted by the Palo Alto police, who took their weed but did not arrest them, which--I assure you--is very Palo Alto. Jones didn't recall the exact date or where they were heading, exactly. but the pieces fit.

June 11, 1969 California Hall, San Francisco, CA: Bobby Ace and The Cards Off The Bottom Of The Deck
Recently I posted a lengthy theory that Garcia and the Grateful Dead were considering expanding the performing Dead into a sort of revue, like a touring C&W band. Your mileage may vary with regards to my proposal. The New Riders of The Purple Sage would have been one leg, and an ensemble called Bobby Ace And The Cards Off The Bottom might have been the other. The "Bobby Ace" name had not been applied to Weir prior to June 1969, even casually.

The Cards Off The Bottom name was only used a few times, and this June 11, 1969 benefit seems to have been a sort of experiment (ignore the Scientology Benefit side-story, which is tangential).Thanks to McNally (p.321), we know the band consisted of Garcia, Weir, TC, Phil, Hart, Peter Grant, Nelson and Dawson.

The only other time that Bobby Ace And The Cards Off The Bottom name was used again on a bill was when the band debuted the "acoustic Dead" in April 1970. The "Revue" idea seems to have been reduced somewhat, but the band toured while playing up to 4 sets of music with three different ensembles. McNally also found a setlist (not a tape), which consists of the typical covers performed by the "Acoustic Dead" in 1970. A tantalizing clue to any future plans, whatever you choose to make of it.

Set One
  1. Let It Be Me (Everly Brothers-1960)
  2. Silver Threads and Golden Needles (Wanda Jackson-1956, and numerous other recordings)
  3. Mama Tried (Merle Haggard-1968)
  4. Cathy's Clown (Everly Brothers 1960)
  5. Me and My Uncle (John Phillips via Jim Stalarow-1964)
  6. Slewfoot (Johnny Horton '61, Porter Wagoner '68)
  7. Dire Wolf
  8. Games People Play (Joe South-1968)
  9. The Race Is On (George Jones-1965)
  10. Green Green Grass Of Home (Porter Wagoner-1968)
Set Two
  1. Tiger By The Tail
  2. I've Just Seen A Face (Beatles, from Rubber Soul-1965)
  3. All I Have To Do Is Dream (Everly Brothers-1958)
  4. Wabash Cannonball (Trad, Roy Acuff-1936 and Carter Family-1932 made famous)
  5. Railroading Across The Great Divide (Carter Family ca. 1932)

June 18, 1969 The Underground, Menlo Park, CA: John Dawson
Impossible so far to confirm, but presumably the trio played the Underground this Wednesday as well.

June 25, 1969 The Underground, Menlo Park, CA: John Dawson
Fascinatingly, McNally uncovered a setlist from Judy Dawson (no relation to John), a serious fan who kept such things. Until the Owsley foundation released the May 14 setlist (above), this was our only insight into what the trio played in Menlo Park:
  1. Tiger By The Tail
  2. Fair Chance To Know
  3. Mama Tried 
  4. The Next In Line
  5. I'm In Love With You
  6. Stagger Lee
  7. Coat Of Many Colors (not sure of this one--the Dolly Parton song was released in April 1971)
  8. Whatcha Gonna Do
  9. Truck Drivin' Man
  10. If You Hear Me When I'm Leaving
  11. The Race Is On (George Jones-1964)
  12. Six Days On The Road (Dave Dudley-1963)
  13. Jailbait Gets You Busted
  14. Close Up The Honky Tonks (Buck Owens-1964)
  15. Last Lonely Eagle
  16. For What It's Worth (Buffalo Springfield-1966)
  17. I Still Miss Someone
  18. Together Again 
  19. Superman
  20. Lay Lady Lay (Bob Dylan, from Nashville Skyline-1969)
  21. If You Want To Run (not sure if this was a Dawson original or not)
  22. Buckaroo (Buck Owens instrumental-1965, regularly played live by Clarence White and The Byrds)
  23. Long Black Veil
  24. Me & My Uncle
  25. Delilah
June 1969 GD/Garcia Tour Itinerary

June 27-28, 1969 Veterans Memorial Hall, Santa Rosa, CA: Grateful Dead/Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady and Joey Covington/Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band
The Grateful Dead played Friday and Saturday nights in Santa Rosa, supported by a proto-version of electric Hot Tuna and the Berkeley group Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band. CGSB had originally been a sort of hip skiffle band--essentially New Orleans string band music--but had electrified somewhat and were now a sort of swinging country band with a drummer.

On the first night, Mickey Hart was late, and CGSB drummer Tom Ralston was invited to sit in for him. Obviously, Kreutzmann could have handled it, so I assume the band was just poking Mickey, hinting that he could be replaced by someone else. Ralston played the first six songs or so, before Hart showed up.

On the second night (Saturday, June 28), as a "thank you" or just for fun, Jerry Garcia sat in on pedal steel guitar. Hawk reports that Owsley taped Garcia joining CGSB on Buck Owens' "A11," a regular number for CGSB. He may have played on a few other numbers, but I'm not sure. The band certainly recalled the weekend clearly, in any case.

Also on Saturday, for "Me And My Uncle," Peter Grant played electrified banjo, and John Dawson sang along with Weir. This adds another data point for my theory, however speculative, that Garcia and the Dead were at least considering some kind of expanded country ensemble.

June 29, 1969 The Barn, Rio Nido, CA: Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady/Jerry Garcia and Friends
The Owsley Foundation release of Jorma Kaukonen/Jack Casady/Joey Covington Before We Were Them was recorded on June 28, At the end, the announcer mentions a "jam" at Rio Nido and says that "Jerry Garcia and a friend" will be playing. This is all but certainly Garcia and Dawson, most likely with David Nelson as well.
June 1969 GD/Garcia Tour Itinerary

The cover of Holly Harman's photomemoir, Inside A Hippie Commune, from 2013
Summer 1969 Pacific High Recorders, San Francisco, CA: Cloud Brothers session "Strange Way"
Perhaps the most obscure release featuring Jerry Garcia was a cd called Inside A Hippie Commune: Music Soundtrack. Author Holly Harman wrote a sort of coffee table book about her 60s Santa Cruz Mountains commune, called Inside A Hippie Commune. She also created a DVD documentary from some surviving footage. Her husband Eric Levin did the soundtrack music. It was released privately, but officially, on cd in 2015, as Inside A Hippie Commune: Music Soundtrack.

Here's the short version, and it's not even short:  Eric Levin was a Santa Cruz hippie guitarist in a band called Spirits (whom you'll see on ancient Bay Area posters). His wife (then girlfriend) Holly Harman was and is an extremely interesting source for Santa Cruz Bay Area hippiedom, as she was a teenager back then. She's one of my principal and best sources on The Barn, the core text for my research. Harman was full of other interesting details, too--she's the one who tipped me to the fact that the Curly Jim who taught Bob Weir "Me And My Uncle" wasn't Curly Cooke of the Steve Miller Band (and she even emailed Curly Cooke, whom she knew, to confirm it--a researcher's dream). There's lots more to say about Harman, but leave that aside for now.

Most of the tracks were recorded by Eric Levin around 2009, with his bar band, who played a local Sonoma brewpub. Their music is okay, and some tracks include the bass player for Blue Cheer (Dickie Petersen) in the band. However, there are a few tracks from 1969 by The Cloud Brothers, recorded at Pacific High Recorders. The Cloud Brothers were Levin and a guy named David Russek on guitars and vocals. On one track, "Strange Way" Curly Jim Stalarow plays rhythm guitar, and Jerry Garcia plays pedal steel. This was in mid-69, sometime, and per Holly Harman, Garcia did the session in return for weed. I assume the engineer was Dan Healy, but that information is uncertain. This may have been Garcia's first session as a steel player.

Garcia basically plays a scale, as far as I can tell. But whatever. It's Garcia's first pedal steel studio session, and he plays with the guy who taught Bob "Me And My Uncle."

A flyer for a Hells Angels Benefit at Longshoreman's Hall in San Francisco on Wednesday, July 16, 1969. Besides the Grateful Dead, Cleveland Wrecking Company and Ice, the future New Riders made their debut with a brief, messy set.
July 16, 1969 Longshoreman's Hall, San Francisco, CA: Grateful Dead/Cleveland Wrecking Company/Ice Hell's Angels Benefit
Unbilled, the soon-to-be Riders opened for the Dead. They came on late, due to equipment problems apparently caused by Owsley. The band played briefly, and per Blair Jackson's eyewitnesses, shambollically. Presumably Matthews and Hart debuted. Given that the Dead had toured much of early July, there can't have been much rehearsal.

Albert "Ice Man" Collins legendary 1965 album The Cool Sound of Albert Collins was re-released by Blue Thumb Records in 1969 as Truckin' ith Albert Collins
July 24-29 (?), 1969 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Albert Collins 
As part of the research into Big Brother history, Peter Albin mentioned that he backed blues guitarist Albert "The Iceman" Collins for a week at The Matrix and then a weekend at the Family Dog. Remarkably, the band was Albin (presumably on guitar), Big Brother drummer Dave Getz, David Nelson, and most surprisingly, Dave Torbert. Torbert was based in Hawaii at the time, but his parents still lived in Redwood City, so he could have been visiting them.

Bookings advertised at The Matrix for the week were
Wed July 22 -Lonnie Mack/Marvin Gardens (probably Tues-Thurs July 21-23)
Sat 25 July-Southern Comfort/Dementia (theater troupe) (probably Sat July 24 as well)
Wed 29 July-Linn County /Terry Dolan (probably Thurs Jul 30 as well)
Matrix bookings weren't set in stone, and Albert Collins could have been added or substituted to any of the nights. The shows were probably like rehearsals, setting them up for the weekend gig. Thanks to Bob Hite of Canned Heat, Collins had just been signed in 1968 by Imperial Records, and he had moved to Palo Alto (of all places) by November 1968. We'll have to guess which days Collins may have played at the Matrix. Collins famous 1965 album (The Cool Sound Of Albert Collins) had been re-released as Truckin' With Albert Collins in 1969.

The Berkeley Barb listed "Jerry Garcia backing Marmaduke" at the Bear's Lair. $1.50, two shows.
August 1, 1969 Bear's Lair, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Jerry Garcia and Marmaduke
The band plays two sets, starting at 10:30pm, at the tiny, newly-opened beer joint on the Berkeley campus. Confusingly, the Dead were booked at the Family Dog this night, but did not play. A union of light show workers were striking, and Garcia--union-born through his mother--would never cross a picket line. It's telling that in a non-confrontational Garcia move, he simply booked another gig and clearly had no intention of participating in any dramatic showdown at the Family Dog event.

Garcia did eventually turn up, later that night, when some of the dust had settled. The strike fizzled out, since Graham had correctly sussed out that rock fans weren't really paying to see light shows.

Set 1

    1. The Next In Line
    2. Truck Drivin' Man
    3. A-11
    4. I Don't Know You
    5. Garden of Eden
    6. Hello Trouble
    7. Mama Tried
    8. Superman
    9. Big Fool of the Year
    10. The Weight
    11. Last Lonely Eagle
    12. Whatcha Gonna Do

      Set 2:

          1.    Six Days On The Road
          2.    Henry
          3.    What Made Milwaukee Famous
       (Jerry Lee Lewis-1968)
          4.    I’ve Got A Tiger By The Tail
          5.    Don’t Take Any Chances
          6.    Connection
          7.    Delilah

          8.    Zebra Dun (Traditional) (this may have been the start of the 3rd set)
          9.    [Jerry explains his instrument]
          10.    Kaw-Liga (Hank Williams-1953)
          11.    Sweet Lovin' One

          12.    Fair Chance To Know
          13.    Long Black Limousine
      (Glen Campbell-1964, Elvis Presley-1969, among many)
          14.    All I Ever Wanted
          15.    Truck Drivin' Man
          16.    The Lady Came From Baltimore
          17.    Games People Play
          18.    [introducing the "Murdering Punks"]

          19.    To Have the Hurting End
          20.    I Am Your Man
          21.    Henry 

      Note that "Henry" was played twice in the second set--there may have been three sets.
        August 1-2-3 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Grateful Dead/Albert Collins/Ballet Afro-Haiti
        These shows have been written about at great length. Most famously, the Light Show artists were unionizing and striking, and Bill Graham was dead-set against them. Chet Helms was trying to thread the needle, and there was a picket line at the Friday night (Aug 1) Family Dog show. Negotiations stalled the show, and the Dead never played, although a few members probably jammed. Decide for yourself if Garcia booked a conflicting gig on this night on purpose, or not. He ceratainly never did this again, in any case.

        The interesting tidbits here are that it seems that David Nelson had a gig as well, with Albert Collins, and he too missed the action. More interestingly, Nelson seems to have sat in with the Dead on both Saturday (August 2) and Sunday (August 3). At least it sure sounds like Nelson and his distinctive "B-Bender" on "Mama Tried" both nights. It makes a lot more sense if Nelson was already at the show, with his guitar and amp.

        The New Riders of The Purple Sage name first appeared in print in Ralph J Gleason's column in the San Francisco Chronicle on August 6, 1969. The listing announced the band's appearance at The Matrix "tonight and tomorrow" (Aug 6 and 7)
         August 6-9, 1969 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: New Riders of The Purple Sage
        The New Riders of The Purple Sage name first appears in print in the San Francisco Chronicle, when the band plays Wednesday thru Saturday night at The Matrix in the Marina District. We have a tape from Thursday (August 7, sometimes dated differently). For decades, this was one of only two existing live 1969 New Riders tapes (September 18 was the other).

        NRPS August 7, 1969-The Matrix
        1. Kaw-liga
        2. If You Hear Me When I'm Leaving
        3. Superman
        4. Mama Tried
        5. Games People Play
        6. Truck Drivin' Man
        7. Me & My Uncle
        8. Delilah
        9. Long Black Veil
        10. All I Ever Wanted
        11. Henry
        12. Don't Take Chances
        13. Last Lonely Eagle
        14. Six Days On The Road

        August 12 or 13, 1969  Family Dog On The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: New Lost City Ramblers/New Riders of The Purple Sage "Hoe Down"
        This hitherto unknown show was mentioned in the Berkeley Tribe newspaper (August 22-29).

        It appears that old South Bay pal Pete Grant sat in with the New Riders on banjo for a few numbers. Not surprisingly, Garcia and Nelson were very excited to play on the same bill with the New Lost City Ramblers, and at the end of the show members of both bands played a few tunes together.

        As a side note, it appears that either the Grateful Dead or Mickey and The Harbeats played at the Family Dog on Thursday, August 14 (1969). The diary of (New Lost City Rambler) John Cohen  mentions his attendance. Cohen wouldn't have known or cared about the difference, but it suggests that there were more Thursday night Family Dog "jam shows" than we thought.

        August 19, 1969 Family Dog At The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: New Riders Of The Purple Sage
        Although this date had been listed in the Berkeley Barb, I had doubted the likelihood of it actually having been played. This was a Tuesday night, and the Grateful Dead set at Woodstock had ended Saturday midnight, and they had to be in Seattle on Wednesday. Nonetheless, the Owsley Foundation has a tape, so Garcia and Hart got home, and it happened.
        1. The Next In Line
        2. The Mighty Quinn (Bob Dylan Basement Tapes, via Manfred Mann-1968)
        3. Fair Chance to Know
        4. Last Lonely Eagle
        5. The Lady Came From Baltimore
        6. Henry
        7. Six Days On the Road
        8. All I Ever Wanted
        9. Whatcha Gonna Do
        10. Truck Drivin' Man
        The former site of El Roach Tavern, at 5419 Ballard Avenue in outer Seattle. When the Dead were rained out of the Agua Theaater on August 20, they decamped to the El Roach, which was supposedly a "Biker Bar." They played, too. Musta been some night. By 2010, when seen here, it was a sporting good store called Kavu.
        August 20, 1969 El Roach Tavern, Ballard, WA Grateful Dead
        The Dead, The New Riders of The Purple Sage and a group called Sanpaku were scheduled to play an outdoor venue in Seattle. They got rained out, so the Dead played a scary biker bar in Seattle called El Roach. I have written about this at length.Possibly the New Riders played as well, or at least joined in the fun.

        The Aqua Theater in Seattle was an outdoor performance venue. Led Zeppelin played there on May 11,1969, but the Grateful Dead played the last show there on August 21. The stage was in the lake. The theater was torn down in 1970, but a piece of the grandstand remains, in a park commemorating the venue (5900 W. Green Lake Way N)
        August 21, 1969 Aqua Theatre, Seattle, WA Grateful Dead/New Riders of The Purple Sage/Sanpaku
        After the rainout, the Dead and their support acts came back and played Seattle's Aquatheatre, joined by Sanpaku flautist Gary Larkey. This was the last performance at the unique outdoor venue, and I have written about it as well. This booking was the first time the New Riders were billed as opening for The Grateful Dead. As a side note, its a relevant point that Bob Matthews was still the bassist, because the NRPS origin myth talks about Phil Lesh going out on the road as their bassist. It never actually happened. What few gigs Phil played were around the Bay Area.
        1. Truck Drivin' Man
        2. To Have the Hurting End
        3. Games People Play
        4. Long Black Veil
        5. Garden of Eden
        6. The Mighty Quinn
        7. I Am Your Man
        8. The Lady Came From Baltimore
        9. Six Days on the Road
        10. Last Lonely Eagle
        11. The Weight

        August 23, 1969 Bullfrog 2 Festival, Pelletier Farm, St Helens, OR Grateful Dead/Taj Mahal/Portland Zoo/Sabatic Goat/River/Sand/Notary Sojac/Searchin Soul/The Weeds/New Colony/Chapter Five/Trilogy/Bill Feldman/Don Ross/Mixed Blood/Ron Bruce
        The Grateful Dead headlined a rock festival in Oregon.   This festival was originally scheduled for the Columbia County Fairgrounds in St. Helens, Oregon, about 30 miles North of Portland, but a local judge voided the promoters contract.  The festival was moved to private property nearby.

        The festival ran three days (August 21-22-23). I assume Taj Mahal headlined Friday night (Aug 22) and the Dead headlined Saturday. The rest of the groups were Oregon bands. An eyewitness once reported (in a letter to an Oregon newspaper) that the New Riders (and Country Joe) played the show also, and I find that plausible since we know that Nelson, Dawson and their equipment were with the band.

        As a side note, I don't believe in biographical criticism as a key to meaning in Art. Comparing the lives of artists with their creative works can be misleading. I, for one, do not think that Johnny Cash shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die. But if you do believe in biographical research as a research method, its worth noting that this weekend would be the only one where John Dawson could have met him a Portland woman.

        [update: Fellow scholar RunOnGuinness reports an eyewitness account that says the New Riders played on Friday night August 22:
        An attendee reports that the New Riders played Bullfrog 2 on Friday 1969-08-22 and the Dead on Saturday 1969-08-23.

        Terry Smith "I went to the Bullfrog festival when I was 15 years old. I don't remember ever seeing Taj Mahal. Friday night, the NRPS played on a very dark flat bed trailer. There was only one or two light bulbs for lighting. The next night the Dead played on two flat bed trailers.They started very late and heated up the cold night air. The next morning, they were gone. I walked through they're campground and found an ounce of weed and a sword."

        From an OSF 2020-04-13 comment

        August 28, 1969 Family Dog at The Great Highway: Mickey and The Hartbeats/New Riders of The Purple Sage
        August 29-30, 1969 Family Dog at The Great Highway: Grateful Dead/Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen/New Riders of The Purple Sage/Phoenix (replaced Rubber Duck Company)
        Thanks to the Owsley box, we have music from this weekend. The Thursday night "Hartbeats" set was a jam, it's not clear if the Dead proper actually played. The event was promoted via handbill and was probably more like a public rehearsal. Commander Cody's band had only recently relocated from Ann Arbor, MI to Emeryville.
        NRPS, August 28, 1969, Family Dog
        1. Six Days On The Road
        2. I Am Your Man
        3. Last Lonely Eagle
        4. Whatcha Gonna Do
        5. [introducing the famous Bobby Ace]
        6. Mama Tried (w/Bob Weir)
        7. Cathy's Clown (w/Bob Weir)
        8. Old, Old House (w/Bob Weir) (George Jones-1965)
        9. Me And My Uncle (w/Bob Weir) 
        10. Seasons Of The Heart (w/Bob Weir) (George Jones-1965)
        11. Slewfoot (w/Bob Weir)

        NRPS, August 29, 1969, Family Dog
        1. To Have the Hurting End
        2. Games People Play
        3. All I ever Wanted
        4. Connection (Rolling Stones, from Between The Buttons-1967)
        5. Mama Tried (w/Bob Weir)
        6. Cathy's Clown (w/Bob Weir...and Mickey on cowbell)
        7. Fair Chance to Know
        8. Seasons of My Heart (w/Bob Weir)

        NRPS, August 30, 1969, Family Dog
        1. Superman
        2. Henry
        3. All I Ever Wanted
        4. Last Lonely Eagle
        5. Six Days on the Road
        6. Saw Mill (w/ Bob Weir) (Buck Owens-1963)
        7. Whatcha Gonna Do
        8. Cathy's Clown (w/Bob Weir)
        9. Mama Tried (w/Bob Weir)
        The NRPS are mentioned playing at The Inn Of The Begining in Cotati in Ralph Gleason's column in the September 17, 1969 SF Chronicle.
        September 18, 1969 Inn Of The Beginning, Cotati, CA: New Riders of The Purple Sage
        Bob Matthews last gig as the New Riders bass player (per himself) was at this tiny bar in Sonoma County, which had opened only the year before. Matthews hung his taping rig over a roof beam. The Dead promptly went on tour on the East Coast.

        Thanks to the Dawn of The New Riders box, however, we know that Matthews played more gigs with the Riders, since he was on the Mandrake's tape from October. Did that mean his last show was in Cotati, but not this date? Or that he simply misremembered the whole thing? Another interesting thing is that Matthews tape may have circulated over the years, it's about six songs long, but Owsley appears to have taped the whole show.
        GD/Garcia tour itinerary September 1969 
        1. The Next in Line
        2. Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line
        3. Superman
        4. Me & My Uncle
        5. All I Ever Wanted
        6. Truck Drivin' Man
        7. Zebra Dun
        8. What's Made Milwaukee Famous
        9. Last Lonely Eagle
        10. If You Hear Me When I'm Leaving
        11. Whatcha Gonna Do
        12. I Don't Know You
        13. Garden of Eden
        14. Six Days On the Road
        15. I Still Miss Someone
        16. Jailbait
        17. Fair Chance to Know
        18. Long Black Limousine
        19. Connection
        20. To Have the Hurting End
        21. Games People Play
        22. Hello Trouble
        23. Quinn the Eskimo
        24. Delilah
        25. Death & Destruction (this Dawson song was not released by NRPS until 1972's Gypsy Cowboy)
        26. The Lady Came From Baltimore
        27. Henry
        28. The Weight
        29. Mama Tried
        Once again, Ralph Gleason's column announces another Thursday show at Cotati's Inn Of The Beginning (Oct 8 '69 SF Chronicle)
        October 9, 1969 Inn Of The Beginning, Cotati, CA: New Riders of The Purple Sage
        I thought this was Phil Lesh's debut as the New Riders' bass player. But it wasn't, or wasn't likely to have been, since Matthews played with the band at Mandrake's the next week.

        The site of Mandrake's, at 1048 University and Tenth Street, as it appeared in 2009.
        October 14-16, 1969 Mandrake's, Berkeley, CA New Riders Of The Purple Sage
        Some of this material was released on Dawn Of The New Riders of The Purple Sage. Now that he knows the songs, Matthews bass playing has improved considerably. The band was advertised as playing three nights (Tuesday through Thursday). Owsley appears to have only taped the first two.

        NRPS, October 14, 1969, Mandrake's (set 1)
        1. Death & Destruction
        2. The Lady Came From Baltimore
        3. Lodi (Creedence Clearwater Revival, single released April 1969)
        4. I Am Your Man
        5. Henry
        6. All I Ever Wanted
        NRPS, October 14, 1969, Mandrake's (set 2)

        1. Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line
        2. Fair Chance To Know
        3. Mama Tried
        4. I Still Miss Someone
        5.  Crossover
        6. The Weight
        NRPS, October 15, 1969, Mandrake's
        1. Next In Line
        2. The Mighty Quinn
        3. Long Black Limousine
        4. Six Days On the Road
        5. To Have the Hurting End
        6. Henry
        7. Superman
        8. Whatcha Gonna Do
        9. Lodi
        10. The Lady Came From Baltimore
        11. Me & My Uncle
        12. Connection
        13. Mama Tried
        14. Last Lonely Eagle
        15. Garden of Eden
        16. Games People Play
        17. I Still Miss Someone
        18. Long Black Veil
        19. I Am Your Man
        20. Death & Destruction
        21. Fair Chance To Know

        A listing for the NRPS show at the (then) San Jose State College Student Ballroom (Gleason column, SF Chronicle Oct 17 '69)
        October 17, 1969  Student Union Ballroom, San Jose State College, San Jose,CA New Riders Of The Purple Sage/The Fourth Way
        This may have been the very first rock concert at the newly opened ballroom (soon known as The Loma Prieta Room). The Grateful Dead would return to headline two weeks later. The Owsley Foundation has the tape.
        1. Crossover
        2. Hello Trouble
        3. Long Black Limousine
        4. Six Days on the Road
        5. Next In Line
        6. Games People Play
        7. To Have the Hurting End
        8. Whatcha Gonna Do
        9. The Race Is On (w/Bob Weir)
        10. Cathy's Clown (w/Bob Weir)
        11. Saw Mill (w/Bob Weir)
        12. Mama Tried (w/Bob Weir)
        13. Me & My Uncle (w/Bob Weir)
        14. Fair Chance to Know

        A listing in the October 22, 1969 SF Chronicle Datebook section of the Ecological Ball "Happening" at the Family Dog
        October 22, 1969 Family Dog on the Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: "Ecological Ball" with Lazarus/Garden Of Delights/Heavy Water/New Riders Of The Purple Sage and films
        This show had been known from an obscure flyer, but this listing in the Wednesday, October 22 Chronicle sheds slightly more light on the event. Only the Riders and Lazarus were rock bands, as Garden Of Delights and Heavy Water were light shows. The evening sounds like what today would be called a "multi-media" event. The Riders probably played one set.

        NRPS Tour Itinerary October 1969

        November 3-4, 1969 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA New Riders Of The Purple Sage
        The New Riders returned to the Matrix for Monday and Tuesday shows. Maybe this was a sort of rehearsal for the demo sessions, since they hardly would have gotten paid.

        Before Time Began, the 1986 Relix Records album by the New Riders, featured four songs recorded in November 1969 at Pacifid High Recorders.
        November 1969: Pacific High Recorders, San Francisco, CA New Riders demo
        The four-song New Riders demo was taped at Pacific High Recorders in San Francisco sometime in November, with Phil Lesh on bass. Bob Matthews was the engineer. The tracks were later released on the 1986 Relix album Before Time Began. These demos got played on KSAN, on occasion.
        1. Henry
        2. All I Ever Wanted
        3. Last Lonely Eagle
        4. Cecilia

        The Inn Of The Begining, at 8201 Old Redwood Highway in Cotati, as it appeared in 2010. It was another establishment by then, but the IOTB sign was still there
        November 6, 1969 Inn Of The Beginning, Cotati, CA: New Riders Of The Purple Sage
        Was Lesh the bass player by this time? There is still no firm evidence one way or the other.

        The Poppycock, at 135 University Avenue in Palo Alto, was one of the steady rock clubs around the Bay Area in 1969. This flyer is for November 8, 1969 and following.
        November 13, 1969 The Poppycock, Palo Alto, CA: New Riders Of The Purple Sage
        The Poppycock, at 135 University Avenue (at High Street) in Palo Alto, was a fish and chips/beer joint that was also Palo Alto's first regular rock venue.

        Ads from the Berkeley Barb. The Winterland benefit for The Dog was moved to Fillmore West. Mumble, Fumble, Jumble, Dumble were Big Brother, not ready to go fully public.
        November 18, 1969 Family Dog On The Great Highway, San Francisco New Riders Of The Purple Sage/David LaFlamme "Square Dance"
        LaFlamme likely sat in with the New Riders.

        November 19, 1969 Fillmore West, San Francisco New Riders Of The Purple Sage/Big Brother and The Holding Company/Barry McGuire & The Doctor Naut Family
        A Family Dog benefit was originally advertised for Winterland, but the show was moved to Fillmore West. The Dog was never on firm ground financially after 1967

        Gleason column from SF Chronicle (Nov 19 '69)
        November 20, 1969 The Poppycock, Palo Alto, CA: New Riders Of The Purple Sage
        NRPS played a few Wednesdays in a row at the Poppycock.

        November 22-23, 1969 Family Dog On The Great Highway, San Francisco< CA: New Riders Of The Purple Sage/Anonymous Artists Of America/Devil's Kitchen
        The second night, and possibly the first night as well, was likely canceled due to a Grateful Dead show in Boston on November 23.

        November 26, 1969 The Poppycock, Palo Alto, CA: New Riders of The Purple Sage
        JGMF found this listed in the Berkeley Tribe. Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the third week in a row that the Riders were booked at the Poppycock
        November 27, 1969 Family Dog on The Great Highway New Riders Of The Purple Sage/Lamb/Cleveland Wrecking Company/Deacon and The Suprelles/Rafael Garrett Circus
        This was part of a multi-media extravaganza including stage performers and films (whom I have not listed).Kind of a strange booking for Thanksgiving Thursday. Still, there may have been a lot of hippies far from home with nothing to do.

        A clip from Ralph Gleason's SF Chronicle Ad Lib column on Nov 28 '69
        November 28-29, 1969 Inn Of The Beginning, Cotati, CA: New Riders Of The Purple Sage
        The New Riders returned to Cotati for yet another show, this time apparently for a full weekend. Its possible that the Riders played Friday (28) and that Joy Of Cooking played Saturday (29), but I will take Gleason at his word here, even though his hastily-typed Ad Lib section often had typos or casually elided certain bills.

        The IOTB show had to have been Phil Lesh's last show with the New Riders in 1969, and possibly ever.
        GD/Jerry Garcia tour itinerary November 1969

        January 19, 1970 Pauley Ballroom, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: New Riders of The Purple Sage Benefit
        This benefit show was advertised. It's not clear if it happened, or if the New Riders played at it if it did.

        Keep in mind that the Dead had a crazy touring schedule, thanks to Lenny Hart: early January at Fillmore East, Oregon in the middle, then Hawaii. If the Riders played Pauley, it would have been the Monday after a weekend in the Pacific Northwest.

        February 7, 1970 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA: Grateful Dead/Taj Mahal/Big Foot
        I am no expert on tape lineage, but some old circulating audience tapes had John Dawson singing with the Dead (I think on "Together Again"). The old tapes were compilations of some sort, and could have been mis-dated.

        The absence of New Riders activity also makes sense considering the Dead's frantic schedule. After firing Lenny Hart, the band was busted in New Orleans, played St Louis, the Family Dog and Fillmore West, laid down rehearsal tracks for Workingman's Dead and then toured Texas and played the Family Dog again.

        March 12, 1970 Inn Of The Beginning, Cotati, CA: New Riders of The Purple Sage
        Booked, but the Riders canceled (check out the great Comment Thread).

        March 13-14, 1970 New Orleans House, Berkeley, CA: New Riders of The Purple Sage
        Once again, the Riders canceled, because they either had no bass player or Phil simply wasn't interested.  The reformed Big Brother took up the dates, it seems.

        The Dead were recording Workingman's Dead during this week, anyway (March 9-16, most likely), so NRPS gigs would have gotten in the way.
        This photo from p.4 of Tapers Compendium V1 shows tapes in the Grateful Dead Vault, probably ca. 2004. If you blow it up and look on far right of the upper shelf, you can see several tapes marked "3/18/70 Hot Tuna" and "3/18/70 NR," in Owsley's handwriting. So some recording of the night was made. Investigations continue (thanks JJ and DM for the photo)

        March 18, 1970 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady/New Riders of The Purple Sage
        For many years I thought it was impossible that the Riders played this date, since the Dead were between Buffalo (Mar 17) and Port Chester (Mar 20-21). Incredibly, however, there is a photograph of the tape boxes. (Hawk adds that the labels are all Owsley's handwriting, too). Maybe Garcia, Lesh and Hart flew home to help mix Workingman's Dead? I hope the Owsley Foundation still has this...was it Phil's last gig as a New Rider?

        April 17-19, 1970 Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco, CA: Mickey Hart and His Heartbeats/Bobby Ace And The Cards Off The Bottom Of The Deck/New Riders of The Purple Sage/Charlie Musselwhite
        The formal debut of the Acoustic Dead, all but certainly the debut of Dave Torbert as the New Riders bass player, and the last glimpse of the Cards Off The Bottom Of The Deck.
        Bobby Ace? April 18, 1970-Family Dog
        1. I Know You Rider (Traditional, ca. 1930s)
        2. Don’t Ease Me In (Henry Thomas, others ca. 1930s)
        3. Silver Threads and Golden Needles
        4. Friend of the Devil
        5. Deep Elem Blues(Georgia Crackers-1923)
        6. Wake Up Little Susie (m)
        7. Candyman
        8. Cumberland Blues
        9. New Speedway Boogie
        10. Me and My Uncle
        11. Mama Tried
        12. Katie Mae [Pigpen solo]
        13. Ain't It Crazy (The Rub) [Pigpen solo]
        14. Roberta [Pigpen solo]
        15. Bring Me My Shotgun [Pigpen solo]
        16. The Mighty Flood [Pigpen solo]
        17. Black Snake [Pigpen solo]
        Keep in mind, that as Jerry Garcia was working to integrate Dave Torbert into the New Riders, he was also touring frantically with the Grateful Dead, as Sam Cutler was working on rescuing the band from bankruptcy by touring hard. As if that wasn't enough, Garcia was regularly dropping in to the Matrix on Monday nights, to jam with organist Howard Wales and drummer Bill Vitt, along with a bassist pal of Vitt's named John Kahn.

        We are fortunate to have a tape of the acoustic set from the middle night at the Family Dog (April 18), but we don't have an eyewitness account. I assume the Riders played, but was their an electric Dead set as well? How were the acoustic Dead introduced? As the Grateful Dead, or as Bobby Ace And The Cards Off The Bottom? Still, as more information surfaces, perhaps more old memories will be rebooted back into service, and the mysteries will continue to unravel.