Oct 17, 2020

October 30, 1971: Taft Auditorium, Cincinnati OH

The Grateful Dead is a musical family. They are not rock stars - rather they are simple folk playing genuine, honest rock and roll. 
The Dead are playing with a sweet country flavor at present. Songs like "Sugar Magnolia" and "Candyman" are a pleasant transition from their earlier pennings. 
But, the Dead are at their optimum (and I like them best) when they freely improvise around a basic rock pattern. They ended their recent set in Cincinnati with an old Crickets tune, "Not Fade Away", and if you were fortunate enough to have a tape of their performance (it was broadcast live and the reproduction was excellent) listen to "Not Fade Away". 
Here the Dead improvise the way they used to. Complex, interwoven passages that border on the cosmic. 
I miss the "Dark Star", "Turn On Your Love Lite" Dead and hope that they are merely going through a stage. 
All the Dead were at the concert with the exception of Pigpen who is ailing with liver and ulcer problems. On the tour Keith Godcheaux is sitting in on keyboards and vocals as a replacement. 
At Taft Auditorium they played a lot of new songs. The Dead are in a constant musical evolution. A song never sounds the same twice and Godcheaux added a distinctive personal touch that was flavorsome indeed - but it wasn't Pigpen. 
A brief word about the audience - DISGUSTING. Between songs and even before songs ended a certain few would bark out their favorite Dead tunes. They got so obnoxious that at one point Garcia said, "Hey, are you trying to play cop?" 
One yokel kept screaming for the Dead to play "Truckin". Garcia once again, "Hey man, you may dig 'Truckin' but what about those who don't?" 
I got to the concert too late to see the Purple Sage and apparently the audience didn't see them either. 
(by Mike Kelly, from the Journal-News, Hamilton OH, 9 November 1971) 
* * * 
Somehow a concert by the Grateful Dead can end up being gloomy. Not even helium-filled balloons with "The Grateful Dead" printed on them could cut through the feeling of depression at Saturday night's concert at Taft Auditorium. 
Perhaps it was the drugs. I had the feeling even the drinking fountain was laced. 
Or maybe it was people's clothes. Both performers and audience could have been dressed in khakis and looked just as cheerful. 
But most of all I think it was the steady, pounding beat of The Grateful Dead. Their performance was sturdy, and well executed, but the music tended to lumber and bear down on the listener. 
The rock group is made up of five men playing three electric guitars, piano and drums. But instead of using the tone colors of the individual instruments, they stick to one basic sound that has neither very much color or originality. 
I wish the whole concert could have been performed by the warm-up group. I have never heard better country music. 
The New Riders of the Purple Sage use three electric guitars, a slide guitar and drums - very close to the Grateful Dead instrumentation. But whereas the Dead were dreary, the New Riders were rhythmically sophisticated, glorious in their mellowness, and thoughtful to the point of having good counterpoint. 
From the tearful "The Last Lonely Eagle" to the rocking "Louisiana Lady" they were original and constantly engaging. The orchestra pit was full of people bouncing up and down in time to their music. 
The concert was an instant sell-out, largely, I guess, due to the Dead's reputation. 
(by Rob Cook, from the Cincinnati Enquirer, 31 October 1971)  

Thanks to Dave Davis.

Oct 14, 2020

October 29, 1971: Allen Theatre, Cleveland OH

BEAT BELKIN  [excerpt
A large amount of criticism directed at the UUSG Concerts Committee has been drifting through the student body in the last few weeks. Generally the complaints have been that 1) our concerts are not featuring big-name groups, and 2) they are not making any money, or breaking even, for that matter. . . . 
The crux of the matter is that we do not have successful concerts because of a promoter named Jules Belkin. . . . [He] has succeeded in destroying one concert last semester and our entire fall program this year. 
[A list follows of Belkin concerts scheduled at the same times as CWRU concerts of less popular bands, which were "financial disasters."] 
[He is] booking the top rock group in the country [the Grateful Dead] for the same night as our Fall Weekend concert featuring "Joy of Cooking." 
The last action was an out-and-out attempt to wipe out the CWRU Concert series. The Grateful Dead will be performing in a smaller hall than Emerson Gym. Belkin is going ahead with this even though he has been offered the use of our gym, which seats several hundred more people and has a lower rent fee. He is obviously more concerned with destroying us than making a large profit on the concert (he always makes a profit). . . . 
We will have to continue to book top-rate talent which is about to blossom and use good planning to break even. An effort must be made to convince the high school students in the area that WNCR [FM radio station], which merely pays lip service to Mr. Belkin, is more concerned with green stuff in the wallet than their musical enjoyment. 
And above all, the students of this university must support their own concerts, or they will continue to buy Cadillacs for Jules Belkin.
(by Kenneth Nagleberg, from the CWRU Observer, 24 September 1971) 
* * *  


Rock concerts are an area of constant anger, frustration, and disappointment. Groups may not show up or they may put on a lousy performance. The criticism for this is usually directed at the producer and not at the groups. 
Recently much criticism has been directed at Belkin Productions for their hand in local concerts. . . . 
Terry Godbolt, chairman of the UUSG Concerts Committee . . . [says] "I'm really interested in finding out why Belkin wants to screw up our homecoming concert. I question his business ethics. 
"Belkin's motivation is to make money; the Concerts Committee is here to provide music for the campus. Since the Concerts Committee doesn't have to make a profit, we can charge less." . . . Godbolt feels that . . . "Belkin is trying to force us out of business." 
[Belkin denies the charges, saying that he sometimes takes a loss on concerts, is not trying to hurt the CWRU committee, and books bands independently before CWRU schedules theirs: "I book my concerts when I can get the hall. There's always a negative feeling about people who book concerts." And touring bands call him first due to his relationships with them: "We get calls before any act will come to Cleveland."] 
The last charge was that Belkin booked the Grateful Dead for the same weekend as CWRU's fall weekend, and that when approached by the concerts committee he would not move the concert to Emerson Gym [from] the Allen Theatre. "Sam Cutler, the road manager of the Dead, came to Cleveland on August 28. At that time he looked at a number of places to hold the concert. One of these places was the Allen Theatre. Cutler decided that the Allen Theatre was perfect. I am presenting this concert not for a profit, because I won't make any, but for the Dead fans in Cleveland. I can't go back and tell the Dead that I am going to move them from the Allen Theatre to a gym." 
Goldbolt said that "Joy of Cooking" who will be here fall weekend was confirmed on July 20, well before the date that Belkin mentioned for the Dead. . . . 
[Roger Abramson, a rival promoter in the area, says:] "One good thing is that [the controversy] has forced the Belkins to promote their concerts at a competitive price... [Belkins' Traffic show for $3.50 is the same price that CWRU is charging for Hot Tuna.] Since most of the groups have already played for Belkin Productions before, they are unwilling to switch." . . . 
It appears that the Belkins are not putting their concerts on the same weekends as others on purpose. Before there were other people doing concerts, the Belkins were promoting concerts almost every weekend. Of course there are going to be conflicts if other people start promoting concerts. 
If people don't like the way Belkin Productions operates then they should stop going to their concerts! The same people who criticize him show up at a lot of Belkin's concerts. . . . 
Could CWRU concerts go through the Belkins? Belkin seems to think so. "We would be glad to promote concerts at CWRU or have a CWRU concert at the Music Hall."

(by Steven Limentani, from the CWRU Observer, 1 October 1971) 

* * * 

[Some arrangement was reached in October, for the student Concerts Committee started selling tickets for the Dead show as part of the Fall Weekend.] 

Fall Weekend this year will feature three days of diverse activities including films, music, theatre, fireworks, and a giant Halloween party. The full schedule of events can be found in the special supplement to the Observer. 
Of major interest are the Friday night concerts. The date is October 29, and the music will be provided by the Grateful Dead at the Allen Theatre and by Joy of Cooking, Leo Kottke, and Joyous Noise at Emerson Gym. 
[Fall weekend ticket prices are $6-7.00 including the Joy of Cooking concert, but only $4-5.00 "if you are going to the Dead concert instead of the Joy of Cooking concert." Tickets provide admittance to all activities.] 
If you are going to the Dead concert, bring your Dead ticket [to have it stamped] when purchasing your Fall Weekend ticket. Tickets are good for all events held during Fall Weekend, and are good for ONE person. . . .
The Grateful Dead concert will begin at 7:30 PM. Buses will go there from the Student Union, and you must be ON THIS BUS by 6:30. Buses will also be coming back from the show. . . . 
[The rest of the article praises Joy of Cooking & Leo Kottke.] 
(by Dan Cook, from the CWRU Observer, 15 October 1971)  

[The Oct. 26 Observer also carried a FALL WEEKEND schedule by Dan Cook, with more details:]

Little needs to be said anymore about the Grateful Dead. They are undoubtedly THE most popular among college students. If you have not heard them live, then by all means make the pilgrimage to the Allen Theatre on the 29th. 
Let it also be known that Terry Godbolt is taking students to the concert only because he is aware of the Dead's popularity. The head of the Concerts Committee is trying to arrange Fall Weekend so that everyone can enjoy themselves and do what interests them the most, so he has hired the buses for the Dead even though the UUSG's concert is the same night. Tickets are $4.50 and can be purchased at the Union. 
If you have heard the Dead before, or if by chance you are not a Dead fan, then the alternative concert should be considered. Three performers are on the bill, and it should be quite an exciting evening of music. . . . 
[More praise for Leo Kottke & Joy of Cooking. Then on Saturday after the football game, "Fanny, an all-girl rock & roll group, will play their hearts out at Adelbert Gym. A light show [by Pig Light Show] will accompany the band."] 

* * * 
[A show preview from the Cleveland alt-weekly The Scene:] 
THE DEAD are the most homespun "local" band in America. At times I think that they'd be happier back in Frisco with familiar faces nodding to familiar tunes. Some of you may remember them as the "communal band" during the "flower in your hair" era in California. Others may be familiar with them as a legendary "bad" bunch of guys spoken of in HAIR ("but not for lack of bread..."). And perhaps most of you don't really know where to put them in terms of categorising; they don't fit anywhere but why should they? 
As of now, The Grateful Dead are a quintet without "the other" drummer (Mickey Hart - several bad scenes with his old man, their manager etc.). Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, and Bill Kreutzmann are all original members and have maintained the basic group through many changes in style. 
Among the various musical adventures pursued by Dead members, THE NEW RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE is the most outstanding. Consisting of John "Marmaduke" Dawson (long time Dead Friend) on vocals, Jerry Garcia on Pedal Steel, Spencer Dryden (ex-Jefferson Airplane drummer), Dave Nelson, and Dave Torbert, this sub-set of The Dead is enjoying great success without any effort to "perform." (Yes, Jack, they do play back porch music.) 
So it is, THE GRATEFUL DEAD and THE NEW RIDERS will play the ALLEN THEATRE on October 29th at 7:30. Tickets are $4.50 in advance and $5.00 the day of the show. WNCR and Belkin Productions are the sponsors.
(by Jim Girard, from the Scene (Cleveland), 21 October 1971) 
* * *

The Grateful Dead have long been an institution in rock music. They were the first underground band to make it big nationally. But this was not an easy road for the band. 
It all started back at the turn of the sixties with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. This was a group of people who had been turned on to acid by Dr. Timothy Leary. They bought buses and struck out cross-country on a mercy mission to the youths of America. 
Whenever they got the urge, the Merry Pranksters would all take up residence in the next town on the road, have a free concert by the Dead, and pass out acid to the crowd. Needless to say, it was a unique experience. 
After the Merry Pranksters disbanded, the Grateful Dead adopted San Francisco as their home. They immediately began to make a name for themselves. They soon became synonymous with the drug movement and were hailed as the prophets of the hip generation. Jerry Garcia was unofficially christened "Captain Trips" by the California freaks. 
With this fantastic local success pushing them onward, they recorded their first album, THE GRATEFUL DEAD. It was a hard driving blues album. Most of the songs are old numbers given new life by the Dead. Side One is a collection of short songs done in a standard arrangement of two verses/solo interlude/last verse. Side Two gets looser. It starts out tight with "Morning Dew" and progresses into the material they used at their free concerts in San Francisco. 
"Viola Lee" is a jam with Garcia wailing away for nine minutes on guitar. A song very similar is "New Minglewood" in that it is a hard rock number based on an old blues progression. These songs prove the statement that Garcia is the fastest guitarist in the U.S., and also pave the way for the next album which is completely experimental. 
With the success of the first album the Dead decided that it was now deemed necessary for a bold, new path to be taken. "ANTHEM OF THE SUN" came out carrying a sound stranger than that of a demented vacuum cleaner. The disc was revolutionary. They attempted to command amplifier feedback and combine it with gongs, cymbals, and synthesizers. The commercial popularity was not nearly so great as that of the previous release. They began to sink into the oblivion that surrounds avant garde bands. 
Seeing that this disaster was approaching quickly, the Dead quickly recorded and released AXAOMOAXA. Although there are still two cuts reminiscent of ANTHEM, the major part of the album is generally straight. Instead of featuring a freaky selection like "Alligator" off ANTHEM, AXAOMOAXA starts the record off with "Saint Steven," one of the best cuts ever recorded by the Grateful Dead. 
It was during the release of this disc that the Dead started touring again. As soon as the tours started, the popularity revived. As a result of this, it was decided to release a live album. And so LIVE DEAD made its entrance into the record stores. 
LIVE DEAD is a very good example of what occurs in a Dead concert. There are short songs and extended jams. Also included are some feedback numbers remaining from the past experiments. It is evident that they are very interested in that form of music, but that they can't sell it. Ergo, there is maybe one song of that type done in concert. 
At this point, the group was blown over by those sweet sounds coming out of Nashville and they immersed themselves in that field. WORKINGMAN'S DEAD was the album and country music was their bag. 
This style continued into AMERICAN BEAUTY. The sound changed slightly to encompass a little more folk and a little less country, but the mood was still there. The most amazing revelation that hits the listeners is that the Grateful Dead are using four part harmonies.

(by Chris Cook, from the CWRU Observer, 26 October 1971) 

[The issue also included articles on Leo Kottke & Joy of Cooking.]

* * * 
. . . Concerts had the spotlight Friday night, with both the Grateful Dead and Joy Wagon shows getting good audience response. The New Riders of the Purple Sage performed with the Dead, and their hour-and-a-half show was every bit as enjoyable as the Dead's three hour gig. 
The Joy Wagon provided an interesting evening too. Biggest hits were the folk sounds of Leo Kottke and Joyous Noise. Kottke was called back four times by the folk-loving crowd. Joy of Cooking played well, but did suffer from the lack of a strong lead instrument. . . . 
(by Dan Cook, from the CWRU Observer, 2 November 1971) 
[Garcia apparently also had time in his Cleveland visit to appear on a radio show on WRUW-FM, the student-run college radio station at CWRU. The WRUW schedule for Thursday, Nov. 4 included "3 pm THE SAME OLD PLACE with Eric Lamm featuring Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead."] 
* * * 


For the country blues and boogie fans, Friday night at the Allen Theatre in downtown Cleveland was the place to be. 
The Grateful Dead played for a packed house until close to 2 a.m., making it one of the liveliest concerts ever to come to the Cleveland area. 
The sold-out concert also was broadcast in its entirety over rock station WNCR-FM, also a first for any major concert. 
The show began at 7:30 p.m. with the back-up group - The New Ryders of the Purple Sage - an offshoot of the Grateful Dead. 
The Ryders played fine soothing country music - a smooth soulful sound. 
Their hits, "Henry" and "Louisiana Lady," were especially notable. 
The five-member group gave a fine display of down-to-earth guitar "picken." 
The Grateful Dead came out on stage about 10 p.m. and continued the country tunes, starting with their old favorite, "Truckin'." 
The five-man group, complete with shorter than usual hair, and button-down-collared shirts, started back in Haight-Ashbury in 1965 when they gave free concerts. 
Led by Jerry Garcia, the group has recently begun a public relations campaign with gimmicks like Grateful Dead Month and "Dead" sweatshirts. 
The Dead sounds are easy going and natural. 
On the whole, the concert was a unique one. 
It had everything - from flames shooting up on the side of the stage, to audience members dancing in the aisles. 
A very worthwhile show to see.
(by Jack Masterson, from the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram, OH, 2 November 1971) 

* * * 
The Grateful Dead were twice as lively last night as any group that ever hit Cleveland. 
Their sold-out Allen Theater concert was broadcast in stereo over progressive rock station WNCR-FM. This was a Cleveland first for any major concert. The group was expected to play until 2 a.m., perhaps another first for a regularly scheduled show. 
"I don't know why other people haven't done this before," said Grateful Dead manager Jon McIntire. "We've done it in six cities. Now we're even planning quadrophonic - that's two FM stations and a live color television broadcast." 
"Pig Pen" (Ron McKernan) was ill and couldn't make it but this concert had just about everything else. Everything from flames shooting up on the stage to rock players in button-down shirts and short hair. 
The San Francisco five-pack came on with the old favorite "Truckin'." Even a Hell's Angel was dancing a few steps in the back of the theater. 
The Grateful Dead got it all started back in Haight-Ashbury in 1965 when they played free concerts. Their audiences have never forgotten those friendly outpourings of friendly music. The group is as natural and easy going as it was in those predrug days. 
"I'm really in it to play happy music," said drummer Bill Kreutzmann, 25. "But when I get up there, I'm so into it I don't see the audience." 
Lead vocalist Jerry Garcia looked like an executioner with his bushy beard. Bob Weir on rhythm guitar had a short soft-blond bob and an ordinary shirt. Sil Lesh on electric bass wore his hair pulled straight back in a pony tail. Keith Godcheaux was Pig Pen's replacement and played piano and organ. 
"I was playing music in a bar when I hooked up with their group," said Keith. 
Beginning the show was a group called The New Riders of the Purple Sage, no relation to Zane Grey. Their country-flavored rock had the audience on its feet demanding two encores. Drummer with the group is Spencer Dryden, formerly with the Jefferson Airplane. 
Garcia of the Dead played steel guitar with the Riders. 
The Hell's Angels had a brief confrontation with police before the concert started. They had parked eight motorcycles in front of the theater in a no parking zone. After a few remarks, they removed the cycles.
(by Jane Scott, from the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 30 October 1971) 
Thanks to Dave Davis. 
* * * 

They changed more dreams of the past...
When I enjoy someone enough and relate to them in any way, I want to talk to them. Sometimes I get lucky and, as in the case of The New Riders of The Purple Sage, can get close enough to express myself. (Last Friday, October 29th - The Dead concert.) 
Sitting in the WNCR lobby, feeling a part of nothing in particular, I waited for whichever members of The New Riders that the Columbia promotion man would bring. I was to sit in on a taping of an interview, plus spend some time just learning how The New Riders' machine works. I was there of my own volition; I simply liked The Riders. 
In strolled Spencer Dryden (drums, ex-Airplane) and John Dawson (vocals, guitar, "Marmaduke") and Marty Mooney from Columbia. The interview itself was rather general, but the post-interview conversation was relaxing and natural. Marmaduke talked about the non-functionality of large concerts and the good atmosphere of small clubs in the Bay Area on The Coast. Spencer shared my respect for James and the Good Brothers and that group's first Lp. And when asked about his old group, Spence said that he and Jerry Garcia have just finished doing some recording with Grace and Paul in California. After a short tour of WNCR's studios, the four of us left for The Keg and Quarter, where they were staying. There was still time before they had to head for The Allen for a soundcheck and last minute adjustments. 
Once in manager John McIntire's room, the quiet and relaxed conversation turned to less musical subjects. Looking out from the fourth floor window, adult bookstores, smokestacks and that ubiquitous dingy air made up the greatest part of the scenery. Smoking an extremely small "pipe" with great intensity while McIntire was calling their office on The Coast, Marmaduke (which is what the group calls him) asked if this was the city of Mayor Stokes. We talked at some length about voting and mayoral black-white alternatives. 
"If two men with very close goals and similar qualifications were running; I think I'd vote for the black man. It's just that there has been too many years of injustice. It should be equalized." Those were his comments, and, for the first time, he didn't attempt to smile; almost realizing the idealism he possessed. He just looked and said "Where did Spencer go?" Indeed, Dryden had quietly left to get a coke, but returned to the room about twenty minutes later with it. 
Jane Scott, of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, came to the door to get itinerary and names of the group members. John McIntire, being rather quaint and amiable, gave her the needed material, then proceeded to call for clients. Marty Mooney was getting restless, and went downstairs to the bar. 
Minutes later, new Dead keyboard man Keith Godcheaux (NOT a replacement for Pig Pen, but a PERMANENT ADDITION) and myself shared an elevator with Spencer and Jane Scott. In the lobby, a group of "familiar faces" were checking in at the desk. I guess we were supposed to be impressed, but Grand Funk seemed neither energetic nor friendly. After all, it's not easy leading a generation (cough! cough!). 
A general knowledge of cross cultural temperaments enabled me to detect a glare in the eyes of other guests observing Grand Funk and Dead-Rider members wandering in the lobby. Silently, they seemed to be saying "Screwin' up da cultcha." With quiet disdain they stared at the other America with which they so obviously contrasted. They knew it wasn't a barber's convention, a fashion show or a circus; so it had to be musicians. 
Aside from feelings of displacement, things were fairly quiet and I thought I should leave. The most vital part of the day was yet to happen. The concert was almost three hours away. 

Coinciding with the WNCR "simulcast," THE NEW RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE stood amidst literally three tons of sound equipment and waited for their cue. When Sam Cutler (Dead road manager and veteran of Altamont and other less salient happenings) announced them, the smell of more than smoke rose to the senses and another show was on its way. 
While Jules Belkin attempted to seat (properly) the persons occupying the front section, a number of Riders' songs were half heard and/or ignored. I honestly doubt if Cleveland will ever get it together enough to have a really harmonious concert. Merle Haggard, Charlie Pride songs and other country standards were passed off with little attentiveness, but a lot of applause - an insult. 
In case any of you read the "PD" review of the concert, allow me to correct some things. They did not do any encores. They played for an hour and forty-five minutes and went down very well. All of their album tunes except "Garden of Eden" were played and the people were often familiar with them. There was clapping to "Glendale Train," and the beautiful "Last Lonely Eagle" left my eyes a bit moist and my throat dry. 
I looked around as Marmaduke sang with restraint; "Where most of the people just think that they're free." Being a desperate song written after a lot of changes (natural and chemical), Marmaduke meant it. Most people were too wrapped up in their own world to notice ("Pass the joint, man."). 
With a change in pace, "Hand Jive" drove them wild. Dave Torbert sang lead and another side of The New Riders was apparent. After showing this harder and more driving side, there was no turning back. To subdue screams of "...get it on, man," they did an unrehearsed and sloppy version of "Honky Tonk Woman." Garcia seemed appalled at the bad taste of the crowd when they stood and yelled for more.
Well, that part of the evening was over and after pleas for an encore, the lights went on and The Riders went off. The Grateful Dead were to appear after two of the three tons were rearranged. They did.
Garcia on guitar, Phil Lesh on bass and Beatle hair cut, Bob Weir on guitar and hair pulled back, new keyboard man Keith Godcheaux and drummer Bill Kreutzmann were doing it right and trying like hell to 'cook.' Pig Pen's songs, which were a large part of their sets, were omitted and more varied things were substituted. They leaned heavily on the new double album material and impromptu techniques to kill the crowd. It worked! Even with all of the confusion and cheering, I don't think The Dead were very impressed or enjoying it like they used to. Completely oblivious to the reality, the audience screamed and absorbed it all; "Truckin'" and flames, 1967 and the noble weed.

Remembering what Marmaduke had told me about Pig Pen, I felt sorry about the whole situation. You see, Ron McKearnen (alias, Pig) had burned himself out touring, drinking and dope. [sic] To the members of the group entourage it was a sad and sorry lesson to learn. I knew that they had changed even more than their music indicated. I don't think we'll ever see any more of those six to eight hour marathon jams they were famous for. And yesterday's gone... 
It was a moving and educational experience that reminded me of too many personal things; the whole day that is. As I left the Allen with my lady, I couldn't help but be glad that it happened. 
Being hit with the news that Duane Allman had been killed, I wondered about the continuous tragedy that always prevails with greatness. 
Yes, I've seen that movie. And as I looked back at the Allen and the PINK FLOYD flyers on the street, I knew that too much of it was so unreal. Yet, for them, Cincinnati and Columbus were only hours away. There was no time for pity. They went their way, we all went ours; as it should be.

(by Jim Girard, from the Scene (Cleveland), 4 November 1971)

Oct 9, 2020

October 1968: The Matrix

If you're going to run a hippie night club, you're going to do it hippie-style, damn the profits, but pay some dues - right? 
Wrong. Or, at least at the outset, owners of the Matrix pushed the profit motive as far as they could. 
But, to their credit, the pursuit was hip all the way from the introductions of the Jefferson Airplane and the Steve Miller Band. through upsets both financial and legal, up to a police bust last October (too noisy) and continuous threats of more shut-downs until the club's owners (new ones, by then) finally threw in the towel in March. 
Today, the Matrix has reopened at its old Marina residence, 3138 Fillmore St. Its owners are freshly prepped on the business side of night club operations and they've soundproofed all four walls with six-and-a-half inches of absorbent fiberglass and sheetrock. 
The walls were amply tested in a pre-opening benefit in June. Big Brother, Steve Miller, the Charlatans, Sandy Bull, and the Santana Blues Band provided sky-high decibels as a newly-acquired rent-a-cop, posted outside, smiled the fuzz away. 
Club owners are Pete Abram and Gary Jackson, a pair of UC Berkeley graduates who took control nine months before it closed last March. Abram had established himself at the club a year earlier with his tape recordings of booked groups, chief among them the Great Society (represented by two vacuous LPs on Columbia) and Canada's Sparrow (now Dunhill Records' successful Steppenwolf). 

Because of the nature of the business, small night clubs have slim chances of succeeding financially. Abram and Jackson are trying out a new idea: To attract top bands, they are offering 95 per cent of the door money to the musicians. Cover charge is $2.50 with a legal capacity of 104. Five per cent of the door goes to the person who handles booking. In a normal night club operation that would leave them only the proceeds from drinks, etc, to pay upkeep and turn a profit. 
They hope to make a profit from recordings of Matrix performances. 
Abram scored substantially last year when Columbia laid out $20,000 for his Great Society tapes, despite the doubtful audio quality of Abram's $200 recorder and $13 mikes. 
Now equipped with a mini-studio setup (Magnacord recorder mixer and a slew of professional mikes), Abram and Jackson plan to make money by selling demonstration tapes to forming groups who need demos for prospective angels (financial backers) and record companies. 
Tapes of groups which are already contracted by recording companies could be sold only by arrangement with the recording company and/or the groups or their agents. Some of these groups might want tapes, however, for their own use. 
Abram is negotiating with a major record label which would provide professional recording equipment in return for the first right of refusal on uncontracted performers. 
Abram and Jackson also hope that the Matrix can again be a springboard for good new bands. 

The original Matrix owners opened in August of 1965 - on the first great tidal wave of "hippies" - with just that in mind. 
"Marty Balin (Jefferson Airplane co-pilot) was a part owner of the club," Abram recalled, "and he was with a folk group, the Town Criers, before the club opened." Early plans called for the Matrix to be just another body exchange - "something like the Drinking Gourd," Abram said. But before the doors opened, Balin and friends plugged in, became the Airplane, and needed only a hangar. The Matrix was it. 
Before long, with the rise of the Haight-Ashbury, the ballroom light show-Oracle-posters-Aquarian Age scene, and [the] continually growing distinction of "The San Francisco Sound," the Matrix was a starting point. 
Among the beginning groups were Blue Cheer, Great Society, Sopwith Camel, Country Joe and the Fish, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Steve Miller, and the Charlatans, not to mention among others, the first local appearances of the Chambers Brothers, the Electric Flag, the Blues Project, and the Doors. 
The full list, without making any kind of understatement, reads like a Who's Who of post-hip rock. 

The club, set amid several niteries in upper Fillmore, in a district zoned for everything from bowling alleys to little old lady residents, soon drew the organized wrath of a trio of LOL's Abram blithely refers to as "the Carrie Nations of Cow Hollow." 
Their complaints about noise were aimed at three or four clubs in the immediate area. The Matrix was the first casualty. A Big Brother appearance was scratched after warning of a big bust from City Hall-paid Big Brothers. Then an actual bust occurred last October during an audition session, with Abram getting a $250 fine plus probation and suspended sentence. 
After that, threats came more regularly than some of the club's best customers. Abram and Jackson closed the room in March. 
Returnees will find a mammoth 6x24 stage where the bar used to be, a beer-and-wine policy, and entertainment bills boasting one headliner, one newer band, and periodic surprise jams. Its first-week bill last month was Steve Miller, Crome Syrcus from Seattle, a guest set by the Anonymous Artists of America, and some jamming by Harvey Mandel (late of Barry Goldberg Reunion and Paul Butterfield Blues Band) and his new group. 
Last Monday, Jerry Garcia, freaky lead guitarist of the Grateful Dead, dropped by to jam with three or four friends, and the club made its usual closed night an admission-free affair. 

One small - but important - irritation: Unless the Matrix gets rich quick, audiences can expect a bum air conditioner. 
It's not Auschwitz-bad, but, as Abram himself said, tongue and a few strands of his long black hair in cheek, "Right now our only problem is getting the wine to the customers before it evaporates."
(by Ben Fong-Torres, from the San Francisco Bay Guardian, 1 November 1968) 
Thanks to jgmf.blogspot.com  
See also: 

Picture caption: In the early days, The Jefferson Airplane at the Matrix. Today, a 24-foot-long stage dominates the left side wall, once a bar. Photo by Jim Marshall
For more early Matrix history, see JGBP & Wiki
For Matrix show lists, see COAU & Examiner listings
And for a glimpse at the pre-'68 Matrix, this news clip of a rehearsal from Feb '67: https://diva.sfsu.edu/collections/sfbatv/bundles/210748

Oct 7, 2020

November 20, 1970: Palestra, University of Rochester, NY

Airplane Drops In

San Francisco's Grateful Dead played to an enthusiastic, near capacity audience in the Palestra two weeks ago. In the longest concert since last year's Buddy Guy-Luther Allison affair, the Dead rocked the Palestra until 3:30 am. And after that people were still screaming for more. 
The Dead first made their appearance on the rock scene in the late sixties, and along with the Jefferson Airplane and the Quicksilver Messenger Service, produced the well-known San Francisco sound. Since then, the group has adopted a more easy-going country style. It is the mixture of these two sounds that makes the Grateful Dead concert the exciting event it is. 
The evening's first set featured the New Riders of the Purple Sage, a group that formed this past spring. The Riders have been touring with the Dead, and feature the latter's Jerry Garcia on pedal steel guitar and Pig Pen on harmonica. Their music is country rock and when they started to get it together, the result was a good, solid, folky sound. They started off innocently enough, though, doing a collection of old standards such as "I Walk the Line," "Why, Oh Why," and "Portland Woman " - good, but nothing any second rate Nashville band couldn't have done. This became apparent during "Lodi," a song made popular by Creedence. It reeked of mediocrity. 
Then the band started to jell, and the feeling that seemed so distant in earlier numbers began to fill the Palestra. The set ended with a stirring rendition of "The Weight" which finally convinced me that someone knows what the words to the song actually mean. 
But even this was just a preview of what was to come. When the Dead finally appeared as a group to do part two of the concert, it was easy to see why they are considered one of today's top rock bands. Together for about six years, they have always been recognized as a fine instrumental group. Recently, they have incorporated three-part vocal harmonies in their sound and have established themselves as a talented vocal group, as well. 
Their selections reached as far back as their first album, from which they did "Cold Rain and Snow." But the bulk of their music came from later compositions, including a number of songs from their latest record, such as "Trucking," "Friend of the Devil," and "Candyman." One of the highlights of the evening was an inspired medley including "Saint Stephan," "Not Fade Away," and an interesting percussion solo featuring Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart. The solo thrived on a variety of rhythms and was able to come off as well as it did because both men seemed so very together. 
The Dead's second set ended with "Casey Jones," and those not high on cocaine were certainly high on something else - the Grateful Dead. But just to add a little icing to the cake, it was announced during intermission that some "friends from 'cross town" were coming down, and people were hugging each other over the prospect of the Jefferson Airplane showing up. 
The Dead returned to do a few more numbers, and by the time they were finishing up with "Uncle John's Band," it became apparent that a jam session really would take place, as Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Cassidy of the Airplane were seen backstage. 
Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir, on guitar, and Phil Lesh on bass, had been outstanding throughout the concert, but their talents were featured to an even greater extent during the ensuing jam. Jack Casady and Grace Slick, who were both present, never did get to perform. 
But by then, nobody really cared. Garcia, Kaukonen, and company were still amazing the UR's rock fanatics and no end was in sight. The session reached its high with "Reelin' and Rockin'," an old favorite, and kept up until early Saturday morning.

(by Jeff Newcorn, from the Campus-Times, University of Rochester, 4 December 1970) 

Jul 24, 2020

September 25, 1970: Pasadena Civic Auditorium, CA


It was a nice night for chucking out to the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. The evening air was nice and warm, and the headliners at the concert were none other than the Grateful Dead. I had heard all sorts of fascinating stories about the Dead, so it was with awe and wonderment that I approached the auditorium.
I have never attended a concert at the Pasadena Civic before, and I must say that the promoters of the show have found themselves a nice little place. The seating is comfortable; the stage is easily visible; and its acoustics are pretty good. There seemed to be a slight inconvenience for mutual ticket holders in that they had to wait in rather lengthy lines in order to exchange said slips of paper for the real thing. However, once inside everything was smooth, quiet and controlled.
This was the case as the first group of the evening performed. They were the New Riders of the Purple Sage, who are a group of lads who hang around and jam with the Dead. Performing with them was Jerry Garcia on pedal steel guitar. The set, which lasted for about an hour, was slow and unimpressive. And the band members were all so listless that I half expected them to crash right on stage any minute.
Musically, the Sages travel deep into Country and Western territory with an occasional stopover in Monotony. The only times that they managed to excite the audience to any appreciable extent was during their last two numbers, which were "The Wait" and "Honky Tonk Women." Instrumentally, they were loose and lazy with Garcia's slide work being the only sound that was comfortable to listen to.
Following their performance, there was a brief intermission wherein the audience milled about, met their neighbors, got stoned and above all, anxiously awaited the arrival of the Dead. After a few moments, the lights dimmed and the M.C. (a bearded pipe smoking freak) appropriately introduced the Dead as rockdom's most outrageous group.
The spotlights came on to reveal the Dead in all their grace and splendor. Jerry Garcia, the figurehead of the group, stepped forward and spoke to the audience. He was warm and friendly, which is surprising when one considers that his appearance closely resembles that of a grizzly bear wearing work clothes. This, of course, is due to the mass of black frizzy hair which covers his head and face except for his eyes and nose. As spokesman and lead guitarist for the group he is perfect.
After the opening remarks, they started off their set [with] "Casey Jones" which let the audience know right off that the Dead were in good shape tonight.
Following their first song, there was a slight delay during which time Garcia got the houselights turned up and the spotlights turned down so that the group and the audience could see one another. From then on, the show was out in the audience as well as on stage, because most of the crowd was up and dancing in the aisles as soon as the second number started.
It nearly goes without saying that the efforts of the crowds did not go unrewarded, for the Dead went on to play some of the finest San Francisco type music to be heard in a long time. As usual, almost all of the faster material broke into those long instrumental jams for which the Dead are famous. It was during these jams that Garcia displayed his talents on the guitar which have made him one of the most popular figures in the music scene. He plays with such apparent ease that he makes those long, high pitched leads of his look like child's play.
That evening, the Dead went on to play cuts that were representative of their past album efforts. The set also included a large dose of the Dead's new country material. The crowd loved all, although [--line missing--] slower material as they were with the faster stuff. This is due to the fact that when people come to a Grateful Dead concert, they are coming to move to the music, to dance to the music and not just listen to it. That is why everyone really went berserk during "Good Love" and "Mona," even though they aren't typical Dead material.
One can't really blame an audience for getting so excited during the Dead's performance because the mood and the tempo and the feeling of the music is just begging you to "get your hands out of your pockets" and freak, especially during a tune like the fast-paced "Good Love," which - besides being a rocker - was a vehicle for [a] double drum solo between Hart and Kreutzman. Other tunes that were performed that evening to the delight and enjoyment of all present were "Dark Star," "Easy Wind," and a slowed down rendition of "Candy Man."
But the highlight of the evening came when "Mona" trailed off and then turned into "Turn on Your Lovelight" which has got to be the most requested and favored Dead song of all time. Even the most stoned out downer freaks were up and dancing to this one. And why not? Garcia's riffs were high, flawless and clear, the drumming was tight, and the rest of the group's backing efforts were smooth and well integrated.
After "Lovelight," the Dead left the stage to the sound of an insatiable horde that could have listened to the Dead play all night. As it turned out, they only played for a measly hour and forty minutes.

(by Jacob Wiesel, from the Los Angeles Free Press, 2 October 1970)

Alas, no tape!

June 14, 1968: Fillmore East

British Pop Singers Delight Fillmore East Audience

They were standing and cheering for a new British pop group last night at the Fillmore East. The American debut of the Jeff Beck Group promises much heated enthusiasm for the quartet in its six-week American tour.
Mr. Beck is a young Londoner who distinguished himself for a year and a half as the lead guitarist of the Yardbirds. He was seen, if not really heard, in a sequence of the film "Blow-Up" and has generally earned a reputation as a highly polished and adroit blues guitarist. He and his band deal in the blues mainly, but with an urgency and sweep that is quite hard to resist.
The group's principal format is the interaction of Mr. Beck's wild and visionary guitar against the hoarse and insistent shouting of Rod Stewart, with gutsy backing on drums and bass.
Their dialogues were lean and laconic, the verbal Ping-Pong of a musical Pinter play.
The climaxes were primal, bringing the "big beat" of the English rock school forward.
But there were whimsy and invention and modernist games thrown in, in "Beck's Boogie" and variations on "Bolero." All told, an auspicious beginning for an exciting group.
The British group upstaged, for one listener, at least, the featured performers, the Grateful Dead of San Francisco. This two-drummer sextet was settling into its elaborate and discursive arrangements in a musically psychedelic vein when the deadline came. The band sounded more cohesive and disciplined than past outings here and was warmly received.
A rather aimless performance by a trio called The Seventh Sons opened the evening wanly. Perhaps it was an off-night for the group or perhaps they were totally overwhelmed by the rest of the bill.

(by Robert Shelton, from the New York Times, 15 June 1968)

See also:


Jul 22, 2020

1967: San Francisco Ballrooms

Hippies 'Super Children' 

San Francisco electric rock is not so much soul music as it is stomach.
There's something about 300 watts of amplified guitars, drums, harmonicas, and organ that grabs your lower intestinal region and turns it into a private, pulsating baffle. How much you enjoy the concert may depend on how much you enjoyed your last meal.
Actually, it doesn't really matter whether you enjoy the music or not; it will have accomplished its purpose - to suck you in, to make you totally involved with what's happening.
This basically is what the hippie creative renaissance is all about, a sort of sensual extremism that runs through their music, their light shows, their costumes and psychedelic posters.
Renaissance headquarters is San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district, the West Coast's music center for the bombarding arts. But the Haight-Ashbury influence - and this is important - can be observed at every teen-age gathering and on every teen-age radio station around the country.

"What we're trying to create is a total environment kind of thing. We're getting the kids aged 16 to 25," explained Bob Cohen, 29-year-old co-manager of the Family Dog, a hippie production agency at 639 Gough St.
He said the Family Dog's main job is sponsoring the wild, weekly weekend teen-age dances in San Francisco's Avalon Ballroom, fluorescent balls that regularly draw thousands of costumed youngsters from the bay area per night.
With his long, receding hair, Cohen is one of the few hippies in Ben Franklin glasses who actually looks something like Ben Franklin. He quit his electronic engineering job and joined show business after discovering the electricity of rock and roll.
"The groups we book all have the 'San Francisco sound,'" he said. "It has to be experienced in person. I've taped every group that has appeared at the Avalon; they're strange tapes, they can only be played at full volume."
After joining the Family Dog, Cohen's first job was to build the entire Avalon sound system. "It's one of the best systems in the country. It cost $4,000. It'll put out 126 decibels at 100 feet, and that's only for the voice."
Most groups use their own sound systems for the instruments, he explained, and if it weren't for the Avalon system, beautiful rock lyrics would be drowned out.
"We match the groups by energy levels," said Cohen. "We try to book two high energy groups and one low energy per show. Certain blues groups, say, are low energy groups. Then you get groups like the Grateful Dead or the Quicksilver Messenger Service - they're high energy. When they're on, you can't talk anywhere in the building."
Not that the youths do much talking anyway at the Avalon. Mostly it's a lot of dancing, a lot of staring, some rolling on the floor, some flaking out, and occasionally a freak-out or two.
"We only have a few rules," Cohen said. "You can't wander in and out of the building. You can't take your clothes off - it would be nice if you could, but the police are against it. There is no physical violence and no narcotics."
"It doesn't matter," Cohen added. "Everybody's high when they come in, some have trouble getting up the stairs.
"We've had a few acid freak-outs. See, there's these pillows and rugs in front of the bandstand where the kids can lie down if they don't want to dance. Well, when the dance is over at 2 a.m., some of the kids won't leave. We have to go around and wake 'em up.
"A few are so turned on we have to bring them down with tranquilizers. We have a doctor on hand at all times, and we always see that the kids get home or to a hospital."

One's first visit to the Avalon Ballroom can be an exhilarating or shattering experience, depending on how long one stays and his threshold of pain. The following description of what happened there two Saturdays ago may or may not be fully accurate; it was written without the benefit of drugs.
They start lining up an hour before the doors open. They are two kinds: the hippies, the freaks and flower children of the entire Bay Area, dressed in every fabric of their expanded imagination and decorated by all the beaded symbols of the world; and the frat boys, the conservatively coat-and-tied and clean-faced youngsters who have come mainly to dance and see what's happening.
The dance floor itself is bathed in ultraviolet light which makes even the frat boys, in their bright white shirts and teeth, glow like zombie visions.
A giant projection screen hides three of the four walls. It is covered with blood; no wait, honey; no wait, oil and ink and alcohol, all the vibrating ingredients of a liquid light show, operated from an upstairs booth by six men with rotating glass dishes.
Everything keeps time to the music, the lights, the slides, the abstract films, the dancers, even a mad black-light puppet show near the snack bar upstairs.
In one corner of the dance floor a stroboscopic flood light turns giggling hippies into spastic silent actors. They toss a balloon into the air and watch it jerk and act funny. The strobe attacks their peripheral vision, and soon the whole room darts from left to right to left. Nothing is fastened anymore.
In another area, kids play with fluorescent toys, a fluorescent ball and boat and rubber elephant. An electric orange go-cart whizzes by. Surrounded by dancers playing ring-around-a-rosy, someone in a sailor suit is drawing with fluorescent chalk. He applies chalk to the floor, then his hands, then his face and hair, and finally over all his shoes and clothes.
This is not the Avalon; it is a fantastic, turned-on nursery of super children. In its own way it is the Haight-Ashbury and the entire hippie world.
Which raises two question: When is the dance going to end? And when and if it ends, who is going to wake up the kids and send them to their homes and to their hospitals?
Perhaps that is the wrong attitude. At the Avalon a dancer is dancing by himself. He is jumping and laughing and waving a fluorescent tambourine. When asked why he is dancing alone, the tambourine man shouts:
"I'm not. I'm dancing with everybody, I'm dancing with everybody. Think positive, man."

End of a series.

(by Dave Felton, from the Los Angeles Times, 13 April 1967)

* * *

'Haight - It's Love'

Haight-Ashbury -- Last in a Series.

Editor's Note: Stater reporter Jim Toms, on a recent trip to San Francisco, spent considerable time in Haight-Ashbury, new "hippie hub of the world."

SAN FRANCISCO -- Three walls of the huge auditorium are smothered with psychedelic colors and patterns - and the ultraviolet lights in the ceiling blink in perfect time with the deafening band on stage.
Except for the flashing patterns and moving globs of color, the scene could be any modern rock 'n roll dance - but the difference is that no one dances.
The band playing calls themselves the Jefferson Airplane, and although they're not in concert this night, the audience sits on the floor and just watches - enthralled.
Fillmore Auditorium, located in the heart of the Negro section of San Francisco, fills to capacity every time the Jefferson Airplane makes an appearance. The group began its career here, and now that it has "made it" with a national hit single, kids from all over the Frisco area come to identify.
The big auditorium seats about 1,000, and at three bucks a head you have to figure the proprietors are making out pretty well.
The cop at the door told us, "Sure, three bucks is a lot of moolah to most of these kids, but they come up with it night after night. We're keeping 'em off the streets aren't we? That's got to be considered a service."
There are no alcoholic beverages served in Fillmore Auditorium - only soft drinks. The kids all sit politely in rows, their legs crossed and heads bowed. No one makes trouble - they're all having too good a time.
Jefferson Airplane is the alltime winning band at Fillmore, which means they can return whenever they want. Three bands compete each night, and the winner comes back for another try. The audience rates the band by applause, the night we visited a group called "The Grateful Dead" stole the show. Others competing were the "Paupers" and "Collage."

The Fillmore district is where some racial rioting took place last summer, and city officials were skeptical as to what will happen this year with an influx of 30,000 hippies to nearby Haight-Ashbury. They're hoping things stay as they have been - nice and peaceful.
Shop owners in Haight are facing the expected invasion of hippies this summer with equanimity.
"These will be the amateur hippies on vacation from school," one owner told us. "They'll pretend they don't have any money, but many of them will have a nice packet of travelers checks provided by mommy and daddy." The owner was probably right.
Any way you look at it, a stay in Haight-Ashbury is an experience never to be forgotten. But as one editor so aptly put it: "Haight's a wonderful place to visit, but I'll be damned if I'd want my kid living there."

(by Jim Toms, from the Daily Kent Stater, OH, 19 May 1967)

* * *

San Francisco Scene

Although Billy Graham and Emmett Grogan do not have much in common, they both play vital roles in keeping the perpetual San Francisco hippy carnival rolling. Graham (not the evangelist) provides the circuses and Grogan (of the Diggers) the free food.
Each weekend, Graham, who runs the famous psychedelic Fillmore Auditorium, coordinates a concert, complete with noise (rock and roll bands) at a painful decibel level, strobe lights, light shows, and day-glo paint. San Francisco has more than one modern coliseum, and if the Fillmore becomes a drag, the Avalon isn't far away. But it is just as far out as the Fillmore.
San Francisco is nurturing a sound-oriented culture and the developments there in rock and roll are months ahead of the rest of the country. The Jefferson Airplane, for example, which piloted the San Francisco sound at the beginning of the hippy boom last fall, is suffering a popularity nosedive now that they have started doing commercials for white Levis.
They are being replaced by new groups like the Grateful Dead, the Quicksilver Messenger Service, Moby Grape, the Chocolate Watchband, and the Sopwith Camel, all of whose multiamplified music in the San Francisco auditoriums has not yet reverberated to the east coast.
On April Fool's night, the Byrds were at Winterland. Billy Graham also runs Winterland, a converted ice skating rink, but saves it for the big concerts. Knowledgeable sources claim that the acoustics and light shows at Winterland are real "bummers" (not as good as at the Fillmore or Avalon).
Nevertheless, what may have been just another normal, or even worse than normal concert to a Bay Area veteran, was an earful awakening to a New Yorker brought up on the printed word and the movie screen.
Apparently Billy Graham is attempting to shatter the sense barrier. The sights and sounds at Winterland merge into a new artform based on transforming the environment into an unbearable medium. Yet the few thousand hippies who packed the Winterland until 2 a.m. seem to thrive on the pain. Only the few tourists who strayed from the Greyhound bus could not make the Winterland trip.
But the uniqueness of the experience and the realization that everyone else was in a euphoric state nullified the pain. By obliterating the outside world of sense perceptions, the synthetic environment of Winterland became a whole new "reality" to be experienced and possibly enjoyed:
Six hippies sit cross-legged lettering "love" and "peace" in luminescent day-glo paint on the floor, on themselves, on others. Strobe lights blink on and off 120 times a minute fracturing all motion into a rapid series of dissociated actions.
Each person exists and ceases to exist 120 times a minute. Reality is dead. Time and space collapse into a slow progression of people spectrally floating by. Dizziness, but no nausea.
Just another concert to sate the hippy masses. And it goes on every week. But these masses are not satisfied by rock and roll alone. Music is just their outlet of expression. The common denominator and creative food for all hippies is dope and acid. Not only do drugs give them a passive personal self-experience, but they provide them with a new type of communication and community spirit. This spirit is perhaps the most striking aspect of the hippy community in Haight-Ashbury (better known as Hashbury). A crude type of communism underlies the community, and possessions, whether a place to stay for a night, or food, are freely shared.
The San Francisco Bay Area hippy community lives together, eats together, and trips together. The pulse of the synthetic Winterland environment is the pulse of a community vibrating between reality and what is to them a more meaningful psychedelic world - of a community that has dropped out and is looking for a place to land.

(by Robert Friedman, from the Columbia Daily Spectator, NY, 12 April 1967)

* * *


SAN FRANCISCO (UPI) - Sixty years ago this city was rocked by an earthquake. It wasn't the place to be.
Today San Francisco is quaking with vibrations of a different sort - the music of the 1960s called rock. And this is where it's at.
The vibrations come from amplifiers blaring sounds of electric guitars, rim shots on a snare drum, and wailing from a long-haired and wildly dressed singer.
The San Francisco sound, synonymous with the "turned-on" world of psychedelic happenings, is being felt in popular music quarters across the country.
Some local writers prefer to call San Francisco "The Liverpool of the United States." Liverpool is, of course, where the sound of the Beatles was born.
There are a number of reasons why San Francisco is, as young sound maker put it, "the holy city of music." It has hippies, a strong tradition of jazz, freedom of social expression, and large halls for dancing. Then, there's the aesthetic beauty, too.
The so-called "tribes" seem to blend easily. Those of the barefoot-and-bells set can "groove out" in the same dance hall with the Establishment in its costume of suit and tie, skirt and heels.
"People found out here that music is fun," said Jim Murray, 25, from Philadelphia. "Everybody wants to be themselves in this city and the music is part of it."
Murray plays guitar with a quintet called the Quicksilver Messenger Service. Quicksilver and a number of other groups such as the Jefferson Airplane, Steve Miller Blues Band, and the Grateful Dead have taken the local sound to other places by recordings and concerts.
The San Francisco sound - many musicians testify that there is such a thing - is a combination of electronics, visual effects, freedom, and the chance to play original pieces.
The widespread usage of LSD, marijuana, and other drugs is part of the scene, influencing the titles of songs, musicians' jargon, and the sounds themselves.
One band manager said he felt that "95% of the musicians in town have taken LSD." But musicians from the Dixieland, swing, and bop eras also used drugs.
It has been estimated that 2,000 groups are in the San Francisco Bay area, but not all of them can work regularly, or record.
Basically the sounds are the same, except for some soloists or electronic gimmicks. The musicians dress similarly, in outfits the "straight" world calls costumes.
New groups are born every week. You can hear rock bands playing in garages and apartments in the Haight-Ashbury district - the center of the hippie movement of the United States. [ . . . ]
Musicians emphasized that playing San Francisco happenings offers a chance to play original music. [ . . .]
Two of the "big rooms" for the new sounds, former dance halls of a near-forgotten music era, are the Avalon Ballroom and Fillmore Auditorium. On weekends, hundreds of persons wait in line to get in - and many never make it.
Avalon manager Chet Helms, 24, labels his dance-light show "Environmental Participatory Theater" and feels a responsibility toward the groups which play there.
Helms is more identified with the Hippies than Bill Graham, 35, who runs the Fillmore, in a predominantly Negro area skirting the Haight-Ashbury.
Graham has stated he is not a Hippie but a salesman of "talent and environment."
An evening in these halls means total assault of the senses. The music is loud. Abstract light patterns and psychedelic images with art films superimposed on them are projected on the walls. It is like looking at a moving colored slide under a microscope in a biology class.
There is often the smell of incense. Many dancers paint designs on their bodies and clothes in glowing paint, giving an eerie effect in strobe lights.
San Francisco has a solid history of contemporary music. The Barbary Coast of pre-earthquake days was a Dixieland center. Downtown, King Oliver played on Market Street before Chicago heard his Creole Jazz Band.
The Barbary Coast is now North Beach, where the mode is topless dancers. There isn't much work here for rock bands which want to experiment and express themselves to appreciative audiences. 
There's a line from a popular song that Hippies and their followers like to quote. It applies to the music scene, too.
"Something's happening here."

(by Mitchell Hider, United Press International, from the Nashville Tennessean, 19 June 1967)

* * *

Here's one account of an outdoor show from an English reporter visiting Haight-Ashbury... 

THE HIPPIES  [excerpt]

. . . That day there was a love-in, at least that is what the newspapers called it, although it did not seem to me to live up to quite so exotic a name.
At two o-clock on Saturday afternoon, the hippies set up a platform in one of San Francisco's parks, a narrow strip about 200 yards wide called the Panhandle. For eight hours through blaring loudspeakers a succession of bands beat out the loudest music I have ever heard.
Long-haired and bearded the hippies danced. As I went into the crowd the first thing which struck me was the overpowering reek of marijuana smoke.
And yet it was fun. This was the hippies not on their mystical beat but what they called the joyful thing. Mothers danced with babies strapped to their backs. Children danced. Lovers lay on the grass kissing.
One group after another played the wild-sounding music of the hippies. Music forms an important part of their lives.
The more famous groups have exotic names like Big Brother and the Holding Company, Jefferson Airplane, and the most famous of all - The Grateful Dead. This last group, led by an enormous wild figure known only as Pigpen, produces music which Paul McCartney regards as a threat to British groups. These were not the best groups, but their beat and electronic Indian whine stirred the crowd.
Two girls, as hippy girls are prone to do, took off all their clothes. No one among the crowd looked worried, but the police did.
Sirens, shrieks. The traffic was cut off from either side of the park. The girls were taken away. But it never occurred even to the police to disband the rest of the crowd.
I went away and came back at dusk. A new note had crept into affairs. Mingled with the hippies were people drinking from beer cans. The hippies were stoned but some others were drunk.
As the last band was finishing and packing up their instruments, Michael Bowen, the organiser of the love-in, appealed to the crowd to clean up the park before they left. Obediently the hippies set out to pick up the paper, the bottles, the detritus of the day.
Then a drunk threw a bottle at the stand. Michael Bowen came down to talk to me.
"You see it is going to be spoiled. Alcohol. That is the trouble in the world. What harm do we do? But drunks, they kill."
As I left the park I saw a girl lying writhing on the ground. From her mouth trickled yellow saliva. She was having what I had come to recognise as a bad LSD trip.
The next morning was the last that I spent in Haight-Ashbury.
For a time I had been beguiled by the hippies' gentleness, their generosity, their openness. Now I was depressed by their lethargy, their woolliness, their totally ineffectual way of life. [ . . . ]
In three months nearly a quarter of a million kids from all over the country...would come down to San Francisco, bed down where they might, and lose themselves in a mish-mash of aimless, pseudo-mystical drifting.
They would be kids disenchanted with the war, with the path which the American dream has taken. Lost, lonely, afraid.
California would seem a haven! LSD an alluring illusion. The music would entrance them. [ . . . ] And they would follow the new leaders. Leaders who might be almost as perverting of their minds as LSD.

(by Quentin Crewe, from the Sunday Mirror, UK, 4 June 1967

Thanks to Dave Davis

* * *

And from later in the year, an interview with Bill Graham...


The small neon sign on the dilapidated corner building reads simply "Fillmore Auditorium," and aside from the sight of a few couples walking up the wide stairs to the second-floor hall, there is little on the outside to suggest that this is where the action is in San Francisco.
Once inside, however, there is plenty of action - incredibly loud music, crazily flashing lights and slides, and a mass of people watching, listening, and absorbing the floor's vibrations.
Here, in a Negro slum district far from San Francisco's tourist attractions, is the original psychedelic dance hall, where the attraction of rock groups and bizarre light shows first achieved fame nearly two years ago.
Now, imitations of the Fillmore Auditorium are springing up all over the country. New York has the Electric Circus, Los Angeles the Kaleidoscope, Washington the Ambassador Theater. Even Chicago has its version of the Cheetah.
In the midst of this, The Fillmore, the father of them all, is doing its best to maintain its own identity. Its manager, 35-year-old Bill Graham, rejects the others as mere money-making ventures, describing his own Fillmore in such terms as "free art form" and "mixing of the media."

The Fillmore rocks, blinks, and shakes every weekend to the sounds of a variety of Bay Area groups, including the Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, Big Brother, Mother Earth, the Flaming Groovies, and a host of others. It attracts an average crowd of 1,000, sometimes as many as its capacity of 1,500. In addition to the best of San Francisco's rock groups, it presents well-known out-of-town performers, a skillfully composed light show, art shows, poetry readings, and free apples.
The apples, placed in baskets outside the dance hall, represent to Graham as much of the atmosphere of the Fillmore as does the music and light show. He gave them out free at first because he thought it would be a nice gesture. He keeps giving them out, partly as a tradition, but also because he feels they serve a practical purpose.
He compares the offering of free apples to offering house guests a drink. "It breaks down the subconscious tightness of some people," he says. "When they start to munch on something, it lessens inhibitions. It loosens them up."

For 12 years before it came under Graham's direction, in January, 1966, the Fillmore shook to the sounds of Negro bands playing for Negro audiences.
Since taking over, Graham has spent a considerable amount of time and energy molding the Fillmore to his liking. He has installed overhead projectors, liquid projectors, 16-mm cameras, strobe lights, fluorescent lights, and others - all of which are operated by four experts working together during performances.
The result is a light show that, through the skillful use of all the equipment, is tailored to the mood and rhythm of the music being played. Slides of ancient and modern art, famous personalities, motorcycles, and psychedelic cars are flashed on the side walls along with silent film shorts. All the while, enormous, colored, liquidy blobs grow and shrink on the wall in back of the performers in rhythm to their music.
On the third floor is a balcony where those with headaches and eyestrain can retreat for soft drinks and a snack (no liquor is served) and to watch the activity below. Throughout the building are the personality and pop art posters that have become a fad.

Graham, a long-haired, mod-dressed man, also manages the Jefferson Airplane, currently the most popular rock group to come out of San Francisco. He came to the United States in 1942, fleeing from Nazi Germany, where both his parents died in concentration camps. He says he has done everything. "From truck-driving to huckstering." He has a degree in business administration from City College in New York, and before coming to the Fillmore, he was producer for the satirical San Francisco Mime Troupe.
As the first place of its kind, the Fillmore had some difficulties winning community acceptance, most notably from the San Francisco Police Department.
In the early days, there were problems in obtaining a dance permit, and the police raided the hall. Graham fought back, insisting that there had never been a fight on the premises since he had taken charge.
At the time of the troubles, San Francisco Chronicle critic John L. Wasserman described Graham as "...ambitious, aggressive, imaginative, responsible, hard-working, opinionated, impatient, and the best entrepreneur of public entertainment in San Francisco."

In the interests of "free art form" and "mixing of the media," Graham has had at the Fillmore such people as poet Allen Ginsberg, folksinger Joan Baez, Muddy Waters, Stokely Carmichael, and jazzman Charles Lloyd.
Graham estimates he has given the Fillmore over to benefit performances more than 50 times since he opened. "That's what differentiates San Francisco rock and roll from others," observes Graham. "They'll play for nothing."
In fact, the success of the Fillmore stems in large part from its location in San Francisco, according to Graham. "The great thing we have going here is the people. They're sensitive, warm, and passionate. They're here to have a good time and that's about all.
"San Francisco, as far as the arts are concerned, is made up of a lot of rejects. They're from the theater, they're musicians, and they're writers. You add to that the up-and-comers and professionals. It's also a very romantic city. You get an emotional breed that comes here. You've got kinetics, action-reaction."
Graham becomes incensed when the Fillmore is referred to as a "hippie haven." "I want the shirt-and-tie to come here as well as the hippie. It's for everybody," he insists.
Nevertheless, he estimates that probably 60 per cent of each audience is of "the hippie movement." Most of those at the Fillmore who consider themselves hippies might probably more accurately be termed "establishment hippies" or "respectable hippies," mostly because they can afford the price of admission ($3 per single ticket) to the Fillmore.
With the "hippie haven" reputation naturally goes the marijuana-LSD reputation, Graham answers the implication by pointing out that he has had neither legal trouble not unpleasant personal experiences with drug users. He feels that these people have too much respect for the Fillmore and the service it performs to put its existence in danger by bringing drugs along when they come.
"If I were to tell you that nobody comes here glassy-eyed, I'd probably be lying," he concedes. "But if they do, they don't cause any trouble."

A quick, incisive man, Graham sees the Fillmore as the most uninhibited place of its kind. "Above all," he says, "the Fillmore doesn't stop being what it was. Success doesn't keep us from changing the way it does a lot of places. We're always trying to improve."
As for the future of the Fillmore, Graham believes it will still lead the way in setting rock music trends. "We're going through cycles," he observes. "We've had a blues cycle, a jazz cycle, and now we're going through an English cycle. I hope we'll grow instead of shrink. Above all, I hope that the dollar will remain secondary, and if it doesn't, then I hope they run over me."

David Gumpert is a University of Chicago student who is making his second appearance in Panorama. 

(by David Gumpert, from the Chicago Daily News, 25 November 1967) 

November 1965: Bending Your Mind


... Pete Rowan, guitarist from Boston, has joined the Bill Monroe group ... Scotty Stoneman is playing with the Kentucky Colonels ... Dave Grisman found the Warlocks to be the best rock-and-roll group he heard in California. He especially liked a song written by their lead guitarist, Jerry Garcia, titled "Bending Your Mind." ... Eric Andersen is writing a 35-minute song for the opening sequence of Andy Warhol's eight- or ten-hour movie to be called Poor Little Rich Girl ...

(by Israel Young, from Sing Out! magazine, November 1965)

Jul 5, 2020

May 17-18, 1968: Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles


The Moby Grape, the real Moby Grape, as the ads said, since the San Francisco quintet had recently been impersonated at another club, attracted a sizable audience for a weekend appearance at the Kaleidoscope.
Although their albums and single record releases have met with relatively little commercial success, the group has a devout following because of the quality of the material and their live performances.
They are fun to watch, fun to listen to, and danceable. Some of their songs - "Sitting By the Window," "8:05," and "Omaha" - are among the best products of San Francisco combos.
The Moby Grape projects a vigorous sound through four synchronized guitars and a vocal flexibility matched by few groups.
Despite their abilities with blues, ballads, and straight rock, however, the quintet has just enough humdrum material to prevent them from being great.

Meanwhile, over at the Shrine Exposition Hall, the Grateful Dead pummelled several thousand persons with their long improvisational rock music in a show sponsored by the Pinnacle.
The sound of the San Francisco sextet is heavily dependent on lead guitarist Jerry Garcia, whose brilliant playing makes it hard to realize that he is surrounded by routine musicians.
They have two average drummers instead of one good one. Pigpen's organ is generally barely audible and his voice, the best in the group, is mediocre.
Garcia, however, led the group through some exciting blues-based music which roused the Shrine crowd into fervid demonstrations of appreciation.

(by Pete Johnson, from the Los Angeles Times, 20 May 1968)

Alas, no tape!

Pete Johnson also reviewed these Dead shows: