On Jan. 24-25-26 the Avalon will reopen under new management with an opening bill consisting of the Grateful Dead, Sons of Champlin, and Initial Shock.
(from the San Francisco Examiner, 14 January 1969)
MUFFLED AVALON ROCKS AGAIN
After a month and a half of eerie quiet, the Avalon Ballroom will rock again tonight to the same bands whose sounds caused police to close the place down last month.
Presumably to convince neighbors it won't be that bad this time, the promoters of the new rock dances have fitted themselves with the promising name of Soundproof Productions.
The name is in striking contrast with Chet Helm's Family Dog, the outfit whose dance license was taken away because of the barking and all.
Soundproof Productions was formed by several former employees of the Family Dog. Helms himself wasn't asked to join.
The new company will stage its shows with the benefit of the dance license of John Whooley, who has the master lease on the Avalon.
Though Whooley said "a lot of work" has been done to make Soundproof Productions live up to its name, he can't promise that some of the sound generated inside won't be audible outside.
If necessary, more money than has been spent already will be poured into making the Avalon as sound proof as it will ever be, he vowed, adding:
"If it isn't perfect this weekend, it will be next weekend."
To supervise the crowds and make sure they behave inside and outside, Whooley and Soundproof Productions have hired eight special police officers.
A full time janitor, who'll sweep up in front of the Avalon after the shows, is also on the payroll.
The Avalon's bill tonight includes the Grateful Dead, Sons of Champlin, and Initial Shock. The light show is by the Garden of Delight.
It all starts at 9 p.m. at Van Ness Avenue.
(from the San Francisco Examiner, 24 January 1969)
It's a dog-eat-dog world. Two former partners in Chet Helms' Family Dog are proving their pedigrees at the old and new Avalon Ballroom which reopened last night.
Bob Simmons and Gary Scanlon left the Family Dog when, in their own words, "it looked like everything was over." The trio had been together since student days at the University of Texas. Simmons and Scanlon call their new Avalon operation Sound Proof Productions. The neighbors fervently hope so.
Equipped with the landlord's good will and his dance permit, they began with the Grateful Dead, Sons of Champlin, the Initial Shock, and a bit more soundproofing.
"We plan to bring bigger acts than ever to the Avalon," they said, naming stars like Ike and Tina Turner, Lee Michaels, and the Youngbloods.
How does Chet Helms feel about the break? Bitter, disillusioned, but undaunted, he believed things will work out for him at Playland where he plans to open using the Family Dog name.
Both ventures will bring needed competition in that phase of the music business back in the Bay Area. Nobody should corner the market.
(from Tom Campbell's "Pop Scene" column, "The Sound of Competition," San Francisco Examiner, 25 January 1969)
AVALON REOPENS TO SLIM CROWD
The rains came and, buffeted by the winds, the small line of rock fans huddled under umbrellas in front of 1268 Sutter.
In contrast to the long queues that ran four abreast around the corner and up Polk Street several months ago, it appeared the reopening of the Avalon Ballroom was a bust.
But inside, past the security guards, the line Saturday night streamed up to the dance area, where it appeared all sweetness and light.
This was the new look and softer sound promised at the reopening of the controversial rock and strobe light mecca for the hippie set.
The saxes honked and the electric guitars blared while the Garden of Delight played its lighting against the walls. The Grateful Dead was on the bandstand and the floor was packed with the long-hairs, the unisex, the gay trappings associated with the hippie element.
To the uninitiated, it would seem to be a huge Halloween costume ball. A young man walked by, and somewhere in that mass of hair there was a face.
Soundproof Productions was making the scene. Everyone was being careful not to create the unwholesome atmosphere that resulted in [the] closing of the Avalon for a month and a half.
But, outside, in addition to the record rain that was flailing the Bay Area, there were other storm clouds gathering. Neighbors, who complained in October that the Avalon element created filth, loud noises, and such indecent incidents as urinating in doorways, were adopting a "watch and wait" attitude, like the lull in the eye of a hurricane.
Deputy Police Chief Al Nelder revoked in October the license of Chet Helms, who operated the Avalon under the name of The Family Dog. The revocation was subsequently upheld by the Permit Appeals Board.
John Whooley, who has leased the ballroom the past ten years, reopened it Friday in conjunction with Gary Scanlan, 26, and Bob Simmons, 28, both lately of Austin, Tex.
Whooley has said a lot has been done to make Soundproof Productions live up to its name. "If it isn't perfect this weekend, it will be next."
But has the noise been kept down?
Not so, says Mrs. Catherine McLean, operator of the nearby Madison Hotel and one of the complainants against the Family Dog.
"You can still hear the noise," said she, "maybe not quite as loud but still noisy." Two of her tenants complained about the noise this weekend and are going to move out, she added.
"I don't know what I am going to do, I have to make a living."
George Kaplanis and Fran Scarpulla are two other neighbors who are adopting a wait and see attitude. Kaplanis, owner of the Via Vai cocktail lounge on Polk, said burglaries and crimes pick up when the hippies are around.
Scarpulla, who owns and operates The Tortola restaurant at 1237 Polk, said he was concerned with "the way the street has deteriorated" but feels the situation can be controlled.
Jean Maunas, partner with Mrs. McLean in the Madison, said the music is still loud and "you can't even go through the alleys because of the cars."
He complained about "hippies" congregating in the lobby Saturday night and throwing cigaret butts and candy papers around.
Whooley and Soundproof Productions have hired eight special police officers to control the crowds. Scanlan and Simmons said there were no problems Friday and Saturday nights.
The Avalon is permitted a 950 capacity at a time and no one under 18 is allowed in the place. Kids under 18 can get in if they have a letter of authorization from their families, Scanlan added.
The weekend storms kept the queues down on Sutter and up Polk. Whooley, Scanlan, and Simmons say they are keeping the noise down and controlling the crowds. The neighbors are marking time.
Next weekend may have some answers.
(by Dick Alexander, from the San Francisco Examiner, 27 January 1969)
More on Soundproof here.