Feb 20, 2014

January 30, 1970: The Warehouse, New Orleans


Unless you can feel it, live rock music is pretty useless. Barely seeing (and not hearing) four dots in Shea Stadium, no matter how fab those four dots may be, is not music. Shudder you must; vibrations and maybe even pain should pass through your body and the whole experience should be physical, carnal. And that can only happen in a concert hall small enough so you can feel the sound and large enough so the amps can be turned up.
A 100-year-old coffee and cotton warehouse on Tchoupitoulas St. is now a concert hall, run not by ridiculous old men with sideburns but by young and apparently sincere people (Bill Johnston and his friends). It hasn't settled into itself yet but it will - and what is good now will get better.
The Flock, Fleetwood Mac and the Grateful Dead bands played at the Warehouse's first concert Friday night. The emcee was Richard Shanks of WJMR-FM. The show was to have started at eight and the warehouse was full by then; full of "freaks (the long hairs)," a few bikers (motorcycle hippies), and college students and their dates. But nothing ever starts on time, so Joe Cocker records were used to get things going.
Shanks came on at eight-thirty. Peering out into the low-ceilinged room, dotted with red and blue lights, Shanks thanked us all for being so groovy; thanked Johnston and his friends for being so groovy; warned us not to smoke any dope there, and announced that Mayor-elect Landrieu thought that the warehouse is a good idea. He also said that Moon had wanted to come but that a meeting in Washington had made a visit impossible. Anyway, he sent his regrets and wished the place good luck. Shanks then told the audience that hizzoner had "good ideas" and that freaks should like him because he's a liberal or something. Had he shown up, who knows? Visions of Lindsay in the Mets' locker room. Shanks then finally introduced the Flock.

The Flock, "direct from Chicago's 'Kinetic Playground,'" (Boston once had a "Psychedelic Supermarket") traipsed onto the stage. Two saxophones, trumpet, guitar, bass, drums, and a girl violin player. She wore faded blue jeans with peace symbols painted on her knees, and that was the only thing about the band that impressed me - and that by its pretension. The Flock never came together, and even if they had it would only have amounted to ersatz Blood, Sweat and Tears anyhow. When the real thing ain't too good... They played one of the longest hour sets I've ever heard.
After the Flock finished doing whatever it was that they did, half an hour ensued before Fleetwood Mac arrived. During the delay, emcee Shanks led the assemblage in a WJMR station break chant (recorded supposedly for future use on the radio) that didn't quite make it.

Fleetwood Mac came on about ten and played a really fine set; old blues songs and their own material. They ended with "Great Balls of Fire." Goodness gracious! When called back, they played "Shake" for another fifteen minutes or so. The lead guitarist is a chap named Peter Green, once the guitarist for John Mayall. Green followed Eric Clapton on the Bluesbreaker assembly line and was preferred by the master: Clapton was lead guitarist no. 33 and Green no. 34. Mayall is now up to no. 712. A clean guitarist without too much flash is Peter Green, and Fleetwood Mac was greatly appreciated.
Now it was 12:30 p.m. and the college students who did show up were starting to leave so their dates could make their dorm curfews. The Dead came on.

The Grateful Dead is an up and down band; at Woodstock they were awful beyond belief, but their New Year's Eve gig in Boston was simply beyond belief. After a mediocre half hour they played "Good Loving" - a turning point of sorts; the Rascals were never better plagiarized.
Soon thereafter they were The Dead, throwing everything out and putting it back together again; starting something, letting it turn into something else; then coming back half an hour later to finish what they had started. Jerry Garcia quietly but happily playing his guitar and Bob Weir forcefully playing his, Pigpen being Pigpen. The Grateful Dead, for over two hours, being the Grateful Dead.
The Dead played until a quarter of three. At 3:30 they were arrested at their hotel by the "friendly" local narcs - who had obviously waited for hours, licking their chops in joyous anticipation of their impending haul. Good work, boys! Don't worry about the Mafia's heroin, you've got more important things to do.
Sunday evening, Feb. 1, Fleetwood Mac and the Grateful Dead played a benefit concert at the Warehouse in order to raise funds for legal fees for the Dead and other bands apprehended by New Orleans' Finest.

(by Paul Droesch; newspaper/date unknown)


* * *


NEW ORLEANS (UPI) -- Police arrested 19 persons, including members of the California rock band "The Grateful Dead" in a raid on a French Quarter motel before dawn today.
One of those arrested was Owsley Stanley, 35, of San Francisco, whom police said identified himself as "The King of Acid" and as a technician with the band.
Officers said they seized marijuana, LSD, barbiturates, and dangerous narcotic and non-narcotic drugs in the raid on several of the motel rooms.
The list of those arrested also included John McIntire, 28, who identified himself as leader of the band.
Three New Orleans girls were also included among the 19 arrested.

(from the Baton Rouge State Times, January 31 1970)   

For more detail on the bust, see:


  1. This review gives us a look at how the whole evening progressed. The Flock had opened for the Dead before (in the December '69 Fillmore West run), and Fleetwood Mac were already well-acquainted with the Dead from their previous visits to San Francisco.
    Those interested in how Fleetwood Mac sounded at this time should check out the Live in Boston set, recorded at the Boston Tea Party just a week later, February 5-7, 1970. (Peter Green gets faint praise in this review.)

    Note that just when the Dead were coming on, "the college students...were starting to leave so their dates could make their dorm curfews"!
    The reviewer knows about the Dead's "up and down" live sets, having seen them at Boston just a month earlier. Here he says the show had a mediocre start, but turned around with Good Lovin'.
    On our tape, the only thing after Good Lovin' is the Cryptical suite, and Cosmic Charlie cuts off. We're missing the end of the show - the Vault tape is 35 minutes longer - so presumably they closed the show with Lovelight. I think it's the Cryptical>Other One the reviewer refers to as the highlight - they were "starting something, letting it turn into something else; then coming back half an hour later to finish what they had started."

    This was Tom Constanten's last show.

  2. Oh, and for those keen on the subtext of the times - note that it's the "dates," not the "college students," who have to make the dorm curfews. And in the second piece, it's "three New Orleans girls" who were arrested with the Dead (cue gasps of horror), while the several boys arrested are unmentioned.