VIBRATIONS IN THE VALLEY
There's a worthwhile happening at the Phoenix Travelodge Theater tomorrow night. James C. Pagni of San Diego is bringing in a couple of acts that ought to bring glee to the hearts of all dedicated followers of fashion. The lineup will consist of of San Francisco's pride and joy, the Grateful Dead, England's Ten Years After, and last, if not least, our own Thackeray Rocke.
The Dead are probably the most unappreciated group around these days. While their music has had a tremendous influence on the modern rock scene, their popularity among the pop population has not been a reflection of it. They remain as sort of musician's musicians. A major reason for this may be the Dead's out-and-out rejection of the commercial system. (The Maharishi once tried to persuade them to get on the bandwagon and change their name to Everlasting Life. They couldn't dig it.)
On stage the Grateful Dead are something else. They combine a funky rock with some hard core blues and manage to come up with new exciting sounds. You get the feeling that while the Jefferson Airplane was so busy "loving you" the Dead were spending their time in rehearsal.
Ten Years After is another case of a fabulous group that is literally unknown in the States. (Promoter Pagni has another way of putting it, "I bought them too soon.") Their album has been at the top of the British charts for some time and lead guitar player Alvin Lee is finding himself thrust into that tight circle of such trendsetters as Hendrix, Clapton and Bloomfield.
The action will begin at 8.
(by Jon Sargent, from the Arizona Republic, Phoenix, 21 June 1968)
Jon Sargent also wrote a very brief follow-up review in his "Vibrations in the Valley" column in the 6/30/68 Arizona Republic:
Last weekend's Grateful Dead concert was a smash. Too bad not everyone knew it. The further the Dead got into their music the quicker some people got out to their cars.
I wish Sargent had written more about the show, but his announcement is pretty interesting. He was clearly a Dead fan and had seen them live (though they hadn't played in Arizona before), and liked them more than the Airplane. He says their shows are "something else" and "a smash," but admits that they're "unappreciated" and not very popular - they're "musicians' musicians," non-commercial but still "a tremendous influence on the modern rock scene." (I wonder who in particular he thought they'd influenced?)ReplyDelete
The theater was actually called the Star Theatre, but when rock shows were presented there it was called the Travelodge Theater in the Round. (It had a rotating circular stage in the middle of the audience.) Cream also played there in March 1968. But the promoter who ran the theater generally put on musicals, popular singers, and comics, and did not like rock music - in 1971 hard rock shows were banned there. (But "folk music, soft rock or western music" were still OK.)
In the '68 photos, the theater looks like a soulless place to play, with the house lights turned on during the show, giving it the charm of a school cafeteria! Notice the seats in back are empty, too - the Dead must not have been big in Phoenix yet, so the stage probably wasn't rotating for this show. (As the reporter says, people weren't too anxious to see them, and were leaving during the show!) For their return to the theater in 1970, the place would be a lot more packed and wild, with the audience surging over the stage by the end.
I couldn't find a review of the 3/8/70 show.
Ten Years After had one album out at the time and, as the article says, were "unknown in the States." A couple months later they'd release a live album, Undead.
As for the Maharishi....an article from October 1, 1966 (I don't know what paper) reported:
"Maharishi Yogi has advised the Grateful Dead to change their name - in a hurry. The Maharishi says that all grateful people are already in heaven and, therefore, suggests the Dead switch their name to the Eternal Lives. So far, the Dead are remaining noncommittal."
McNally (p.231) places the meeting in the Dead's November '67 trip to Los Angeles: "The band lost all respect when the time came for them to be given the secret mantra and the Maharishi spoke only to the band, relegating the rest of the entourage to an assistant."