Friday, September 30, 2011

Southern Gas takes a breaker to Deptford's new pavements

Remember all those weeks of inconvenience we suffered when the pavements just north of Douglas Way were being renovated? Well this morning it felt like a bit of a deja vu moment as I walked down the high street to find more bloody barriers blocking the pavements and some chap with a jack-hammer carelessly breaking up all the brand new paving stones outside the Vietnamese cafe.

I'll admit I was a little surprised to witness the level of destruction being let loose - why they couldn't just lever up the paving stones and set them aside for the reinstatement work I don't know. It seemed like an awful lot of noise and brute force for such a task.

Utilities companies are in fact required to reinstate anything they dig up to the same standard and quality of work as it was before, in a reasonable timescale. They are supposed to use materials of similar, or better, quality. I trust that Lewisham Council is going to inspect the reinstatement work, when it actually happens, and ensure that it meets these criteria.

So Southern Gas if you are reading this, that means you can't just dump some asphalt in the hole and run over it a few times with a roller. Although I'm sure you're not entertaining any such notions...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Launceston - March 10-11, 2012

We're pleased to announce that we will be playing at another big festival inTasmania over the 10th -11th March long weekend 2012. We are joining the line-up of The Breath Of Life Festival featuring Icehouse, Eskimo Joe, and Grinspoon and the cream of Australian and international DJs. There will also be workshops, interactive events, an abundance of food, two licensed bar areas, themed marquees, and plenty of amenities at the venue  - Inversk Park, Launceston. The Breath Of Life Festival will provide the Australian Lung Foundation with the opportunity to connect with music lovers, young and old, and raise awareness about the importance of lung health as an early prevention for lung disease.

September 1965, Dining Hall, Menlo College, Menlo Park, CA

The Warlocks played Menlo College in Atherton, CA around September 1965
I was recently fortunate enough to have a lengthy conversation with someone who was one of the very first fans of The Warlocks. I quizzed her about some hitherto mysterious legends about the performing history of The Warlocks and received some surprisingly specific answers. The Warlocks history is usually treated like a "Creation Myth" rather than as the actions of actual people, and I have been anxious to pin down some very vague rumors. Rock Scully, who did not even meet the band until several months later, had alluded to a performance at Menlo College in his autobiography, but since he described the band as "debuting" at Menlo College it seemed impossible.  My source knew perfectly well that the Warlocks had debuted at Magoo's Pizza, since she was there. However, she could confirm the Menlo College performance as well, since she was there also. Thus, we now have an eyewitness account of The Warlocks performance at Menlo College, and I will pass on what I have pieced together.

Early Warlocks
My source was one of the first two Warlocks fans. The internet being what it is, I won't identify her by name, although she may choose to reveal herself in the Comments (some scholars will figure it out anyway). In any case, she was a Palo Alto High School student (class of '66) who saw the Warlocks at Magoo's, Frenchy's and numerous other places where she was able to get in the door. She distinctly recalls seeing The Warlocks at Menlo College. She remembers that it was in some sort of dining hall or "rec room," and that numerous tables had to be pushed against a wall to allow everybody to dance. Her memory was that the purpose of the show was probably to encourage Menlo College students to recommend The Warlocks for paying gigs at school dances.

The performing history of The Warlocks remains murky. They played every Wednesday in May, 1965 at Magoo's Pizza, at 635 Santa Cruz Avenue in Menlo Park, but at the end of that run Phil Lesh replaced Dana Morgan Jr as the band's bass player. Apparently, however, the Warlocks raucous fans violated a local ban on dancing, and the shows at Magoo's had to end. Lesh debuted when The Warlocks played at Frenchy's in Hayward, on June 18, 1965, but they were fired after the first night of a three night engagement. Up until recently, the band's activities for the balance of the Summer had remained a mystery, but my source recalls that the Warlocks regularly played The Top Of The Tangent on a regular, if informal basis.

My source doesn't recall when the band played Menlo College. However, given the California school year, it seems pretty likely that the Menlo performance must have been at the beginning of the next school year, around September of 1965. The school would not have had student events in the Summer, and an informal event in a dining hall seems like a beginning-of-term event. By the end of the Fall session, the Warlocks would have more likely been looking farther North than school dances in Menlo Park. As a result, I am marking the Menlo show as September, 1965, although I am open to any recovered memories anyone may have.

Menlo College
Menlo College was a very peculiar institution for the West Coast, as it was an East Coast style Prep School located in the West, far from its native habitat. The Menlo School for Boys, at 50 Valparaiso Street in Atherton, had been formed in 1924, taking over a Military Academy on the same site. In 1927, the Menlo School for Boys also formed Menlo College, which was a sort of junior college that prepared students to go straight into the upper division. Menlo College was and still is located at 1000 El Camino Real in Atherton. Thus, the Warlocks appearance at Menlo fits in with the band's slow march up El Camino Real towards San Francisco.

Atherton, a very wealthy Peninsula town, was literally across the street from the town of Menlo Park, so the name was appropriate. Menlo students were given a program where they would be prepared for college, and then spend the first two years of college in their Prep School itself, transferring straight into their junior year at their chosen University. Menlo School always had close ties to Stanford University, and the programs were generally designed to get students directly into Stanford as juniors.

The public schools in the South Bay generally had a very good reputation, so private schools had to fill certain niches. By the 1960s, and certainly into the 1970s, Menlo School filled a very specific niche. There was a certain kind of South Bay teenager--one lived across the street from me--who were pretty bright but not very academically motivated, and who did not necessarily do well in the public schools full of  the children of college professors and the like. Menlo was a place where--for a price--they could get more attention and do the first two years of college, thus setting the table for their transfer to Stanford or a similar school, which is what their parents desired. Many of the Menlo students, besides being smart but not academic, were also very good at sports, a fact not lost on colleges looking for transfer students.

Thus the boys who went to Menlo School or College--remember, you could go to Menlo from 9th Grade until your Sophomore year of College--were often well off, good at sports and slackers, a clear recipe for fun. Yet where would these handsome lads find girlfriends? The nearby private girls school of Castilleja, in Palo Alto, was one possibility, and the former Grace Wing (later Slick) had gone there, so that wasn't nothing, but really the best bet was the public school girls at the public high school of Menlo-Atherton, located just a mile away (at 555 Middlefield). Menlo was in the Menlo-Atherton district limits, so the Menlo boys had to know who the prettiest girls at M-A were, and the M-A girls had to know there were some real catches at Menlo. Bob Weir, along with Bob Matthews, Matt Kelly (and later Steve Marcus, Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks) all went to M-A, but the real money would have been at Menlo.

Warlocks Plans, 1965
Magoo's Pizza, where the Warlocks had played there first shows, was in the Menlo Atherton district, but there's no way the buzz hadn't gotten over to Menlo College. Indeed, Menlo School was full of boarders, some from quite far away, and Magoo's was just a block away from the school (Menlo was up on El Camino).  There's no way some of the Menlo boys didn't walk over to Magoo's on those Wednesday nights. Warlocks fans from M-A looking to drum up business for the band would have definitely found a way to get them in at Menlo School. The story about pushing aside tables in a dining hall leads me to suspect that the band played an informal sort of sock-hop early in the school year, hoping to get hired on for Proms or Formals later in the season. Of course, by the time the big events at Menlo College rolled around, the Warlocks were playing the Acid Tests, the Trips Festival and the Fillmore, so they weren't so concerned about the missed opportunities.

Still, we can now confirm that some Menlo boys with ambitious parents found themselves at a sock hop event in their school cafeteria in about September, 1965. They were probably hoping for some pretty girls from Menlo Atherton High School, and they probably found some. They also found a strange, noisy band of barbarians playing something they had only heard on car radios in the middle of the night on the wrong side of town, but as long as the girls wanted to dance, it probably didn't matter to them who the strange guys were that were playing that weird, dangerous music.

A picture sleeve for the Rolling Stones "Little Red Rooster"/"Off The Hook" single
Off The Hook
My source had one other, peculiar, unique memory about the Warlocks playing Menlo College. She and a friend had the duty of writing down the lyrics to songs that the band wanted to learn, many of them Rolling Stones songs. One thing she recalled about the Menlo gig was that the band had learned the Rolling Stones song "Off The Hook"  (released in the US in February 1965 on the album The Rolling Stones Now). My source had carefully explained to Jerry Garcia that when Mick Jagger sang the lyrics "it's off the hook, " Jagger had mimed holding a telephone to his ear. Whether she knew that from having seen the Stones, or from some television appearance isn't quite clear.

Nonetheless, my source recalled Jerry not only singing "It's Off The Hook," but miming the telephone bit. He even smiled at her when he did it, to show he'd learned his part. How often the Warlocks played "Off The Hook" after that remains unknown, and I doubt Jerry mimed the phone much. But he did it once, at least, even if the Menlo boys had their eyes somewhere else.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Homebake - December 3

We will be at Homebake 2011 bringing some classic RocKwiz action with Julia, Brian, The Orkestra and our very special mystery musical guests. We're also looking for people to play so if you want to get up on stage and play along, check this page out and join the competition

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Community garden planning meeting

Public engagement is rife in Deptford at the moment, where we are proving that we don't need expensive consultants or government quangos to encourage us to 'engage with local issues' and 'get involved' with improving our environment.

As well as the ongoing campaigning being carried out by Deptford is.. against plans for Convoy's Wharf, another group of local residents is holding a meeting next with the intention of establishing an organisation to set up and run a community garden on the land that Thames Water wants to use for a shaft for its Thames Tunnel project. The group has already been given a modest grant by the Evelyn Local Assembly to print publicity material, and is hoping the meeting will give more people the opportunity to get involved in the process of establishing and maintaining the garden.

Date: Tuesday 4th October
Place: St Paul's Church, Deptford High Street.
Time: 7.30pm

At the meeting they intend to consider the following:

Establish a steering group to oversee the preparation of the garden in the short term.
Discuss the long term aims and ambitions of the garden and the kind of organisation that will support it into the future.
Briefly gather some ideas for the garden's name.
Consider the best use of the funding they have received and consider other ways of supporting the garden (eg Seeking further funding? Asking for plant and material donations? Looking for sponsorship?)

Gather practical ideas about the form and function of the garden to put to 'Roundfield' (landscape architects) who will use this information to inform the initial garden design.
Consider how to organise volunteer labour for preparing and maintaining the garden - possibly finding mentors with some gardening experience to lead this.
Consider a timeline for beginning the garden before the next Thames Tunnel consultation on 15th November.

Gather ideas for engaging the community - (website, contacting groups that might like to use the garden, gathering enough volunteers to the make the garden happen).

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pyramid Rock - December 29

For all those heading to Phillip Island for the Pyramid Rock New Years Eve Festival, RocKwiz will be providing the entertainment on the Thursday 29th December for the early campers  by staging another rocking Festival show. Brian, Julia, Dugald, the Orkestra and a selection of fabulous mystery musical guests. Tickets available here

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Talking walls project

Right opposite where Peter Anderson's new mural is being painstakingly applied to the wall of Douglas Square, a contrasting mural was today having its finishing touches applied on the side of the Albany.

This eye-catching bit of whimsy is not painted directly on the wall, it's on chipboard which will be fixed to the wall for a few months, and it's part of a project called Talking Walls which is the brainchild of a Goldsmith's student. There's a website under development here.*

It's the third in the series - there is also one fixed to the wall round the back of the Deptford Project, and the first mural which was painted directly onto the wall of one of the buildings on the Goldsmiths campus. We sought it out today after directions from the team working on the Albany wall.

We chatted to the student leading the project for a while but I regret I didn't get her name (blame it on Deptford X/caffeine overload). I do hope someone can add this information in the comments box so that I can give her due credit.

*the website is now up, revealing the student leading the project to be Tessa Lawer

alba and the world (part one: europe)

in the beginning (when our alba was only a tiny growing flower) we travelled over seas and continents to the city of love. i was shooting the next billabong campaign and m was making a short film. i was only nine weeks and tired, my belly hadn't begun to swell yet so i hardly believed i was growing a person inside there. there was so much happening around me that at that moment i couldn't take it in.

when we arrived in paris it was fĂȘte de la musique (the day of music). the streets were overcrowded with delirious french youth, swaying and singing along to the musicians in the parks, the instruments with minds of their own. it was wild and every person was an animal. unthinking, free. m and i sat with the models and the u.s billabong team in a little restaurant on a street corner. i ate strawberries and cherries for dinner because all i craved was fruit. we shot, we filmed and in the morning we left early to fly to biarritz. we only had that single night in paris, but the living flurry of the music and young streetlight-lit faces will always come to mind when i think of it.

parisian street

lindsay on the train

models stretching

we visited the french seaside town of biarritz next. we shot from the moment the sun rose until all the light had gone and sometimes beyond. sleep was short and dreamless and when i closed my eyes i felt my fingers tight around the body of my camera; i watched the day's memories through a viewfinder. 

m was selfless and slept even less than i did. he'd stay up very late; clearing cards, charging batteries, selecting images and packing for the next day of shooting so me and baby could sleep. it felt endless, my camera was an extension of myself and i ached for it. it felt good though, pushing myself and letting my passion get the better of me. this is who i am after all.

there were three models, all around my own age. two were californian musicians. they'd put on impromptu concerts in stations waiting for trains, by the beach in-between shots and in their hotel room when the day was out. it's what i adore, music for the love of music, completely unabashed. they were so interesting to learn from and to photograph. you can get right into someone's soul photographing them, so much quicker than befriending them. it's a connection that's difficult to explain until you feel it.

biarritz beach (by m)

bare feet and thrown sand

the three models and i, checking shots (by m)

balconies overlooking the beach

me hiding from mandy (oracle fox) (by m)

we were only in biarritz for a few sun-soaked summer days before getting a night train to another town (here is where i lose the names, as we shoot in a new town each day or two). but i remember that night train well. the narrow, barely lit corridors, foreign whispers and men asleep against the carriage walls. i was exhausted to my bones and so sick. everything frightened me. m held my hand, the warmth of love filled me and somehow i fell asleep slumped against the cabin door.

when i woke there was shouting and rushing, suitcases dragged over my feet. suddenly m was helping me off the train into blindingly bright platform lights and a world thick with cigarette smoke. a derelict, concrete station where we had a vending machine dinner and waited for our next train. my next memory is piling out of a taxi onto an empty road before a hotel somewhere in italy, falling in and out of sleep on the couches at reception.

every night the whole team would eat at beautiful restaurants. anything and everything we liked, the most wonderful european food. with sleepy goodnights, we'd go back to our hotel room and m would run a hot bath for us to sink into. we'd talk about shooting, about our child and about the beauty of whichever european city we were in that day. on the cool hotel sheets we'd cuddle all warm-skinned and clean and i'd fall straight to sleep, holding my growing belly. it was these precious things that kept me sane through the long days of shooting.

tired me at a nowhere train station (by m)

passing fields of sunflowers

sunflowers at a market in provence

dessert and candles

passing oceans

coming into italy (by m)

italy shined even more brilliantly than france. when i photographed strangers here they didn't yell and swear at me, they just smiled. in monterosso, cinque terre our hotel balcony overlooked the endless beach with rocks rising from the sea like creatures and bright-colored umbrellas like growing flowers from the gold sand. everything was the picture of summer.

one midday when we had time away from shooting, matt and i bought gelato (quickly melting down our fingers) while walking down the beach collecting stones. i sat in front of the water and wrote in alba's journal that the prettiest would be hers and that i would collect things from all of our travels for her. the water reached up and swallowed my feet and i laughed and felt so connected to this little being inside me, who i would one day introduce to the ocean.

my sleeping love

arriving in monterosso

(by m)

growing alba and i, 10 weeks (by m)

girl lying in a yellow slide in the sea

me, watching the sunset at dinner (by m)

(by m)

me, catherine and the roses m bought us all.

one day we hired a handsome boat to shoot on. for a while i sat on the bow, my toes skimming the surface of the sea, entirely bliss. we'd pass all of the old, hillside towns that made up cinque terre with their tall houses turned pastel from paint faded by hundreds of years of sun. i saw an old steam train billowing cloud disappear behind a hill and felt everything in my life fall away. all there was was the moment and the immense beauty of it.

the rest of italy was standing on a red roof in firenze city, street ballet at night, laughing in candle-lit restaurants, boutique hotels, chasing light with the models and recognising the colossal sculptures in awe through the taxi windows. the old world.

italian girl by the boats

jocelyn and the camera she lost

view from the bow, towns of cinque terre

italian flag (by m)

m making me laugh

grandpa pushing a boy around town in a wheelbarrow

cinque terre hike (by m)

young girl photographing a man with a bouquet of roses

unwillingly photographed youth

red roofs in the city of florence

the town through taxi windows (by m)

the flight home was long and i fell sick. the sickness welled up where i imagined my little one laying and i prayed she wasn't feeling any hurt. i put my palms over her and i sent her all my love and warmth. i imagined the day i would hold her and look into her eyes and it made me cry. she was mine and i'd do anything to keep her from hurt.

on the long train ride back to the mountains i fell asleep with m holding his hand over our alba. i dreamt of the places we'd take her when she was born, and kept imagining long after we'd arrived. i can't wait to show you the world, baby.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

John Kahn Live Performance History 1971 (John Kahn V)

John Kahn played bass for Brewer & Shipley's appearance at Carnegie Hall
Jerry Garcia's musical history outside of the Grateful Dead is remarkable for its breadth and longevity. Notwithstanding the Grateful Dead's extensive touring schedule throughout its 30-year history, Garcia played a remarkable number of shows with his own aggregations for 25 of those years. Garcia's principal right hand man for his own endeavors from 1970-1995 was bassist John Kahn, who besides playing exceptional electric and acoustic bass also took care of the musical business of the Jerry Garcia Band. Kahn hired and fired musicians, organized rehearsals and often helped choose material. Although Jerry approved every move, of course, without Kahn's oversight Garcia could not have participated in the Jerry Garcia Band. In many respects, the Jerry Garcia Band (under various names) was to some extent the Jerry Garcia and John Kahn Band; if Garcia had not met Kahn he would have had to be invented.

Most Deadheads are at least generally aware of Kahn's importance to Garcia's non-Dead music. However, Kahn is usually viewed through the filter of Jerry Garcia and his music. For this series of posts, I am looking at Jerry Garcia through the filter of John Kahn. In particular, I am looking at John Kahn's performance history without Garcia. Kahn's extensive studio career has been largely documented on the Deaddisc's site, so I don't need to recap it beyond some specific references. The posts so far have been:
This post will focus on John Kahn's live performance history for the year 1971.

John Kahn, Early 1971
In early 1971, John Kahn had the unique status of being the bass player for the part-time nightclub bands of not one, but two legendary guitarists, Mike Bloomfield and Jerry Garcia. One of many special features of the Bay Area rock scene at the time was how the City's resident rock stars regularly played around Bay Area nightclubs in different configurations. Bloomfield, Garcia and Jorma Kaukonen were among the best known guitarists in San Francisco, and yet they could be found on weeknights in local clubs, jamming away with their own little ensembles. No other city had such a scene at the time.

However, by early 1971, Mike Bloomfield had lost some of his taste for playing nightclubs. The always mercurial Bloomfield never wanted to be predictable, and once he became an expected commodity at the Keystone Korner, he started to play fewer gigs. Also, the extremely casual Bloomfield band also used a lot of substitutes, like a jazz group, and on occasion Doug Kilmer played bass instead of Kahn. The San Francisco studio scene was still booming in early 1971, so Kahn worked on a fair number of sessions, and he played in Los Angeles studios as well. Kahn was still close to his family, who lived in Los Angeles.

Kahn's friends recall that he would go to Los Angeles for weeks at a time, playing a few sessions but mostly just hanging out at home. While Kahn lived like a hand-to-mouth hippie like all his other musician friends in Forest Knolls, it was clear that his mother (an extremely successful Hollywood talent agent, like Kahn's late father) must have helped him out with money from time to time. This allowed Kahn to focus on making the music he wanted to, whether in the studio or on stage, rather than having to take some lucrative but dull Top-40 gig.

Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders
Up through 1969, Garcia had been a regular attendee at jam sessions around San Francisco. Starting with the New Riders of The Purple Sage, however, Garcia seems to have become more interested in developing his music with regular ensembles. His appearances at Howard Wales's Monday night jam sessions in March 1970 had led to his introduction to Kahn and Bill Vitt, and when Wales was replaced by Merl Saunders, Garcia had himself a little band, even if they initially only played the Matrix.

In early 1971, the unnamed Garcia/Saunders aggregation had a little crisis, in that The Matrix closed. As a result, they began to play regularly at the Keystone Korner in San Francisco. I have to think that Kahn's regular appearances with the Bloomfield band at the club made him suggest it to Garcia. It was a fruitful partnership, since Garcia and Kahn would go on to play for Keystone owner Freddie Herrera an incredible 400 times over the next 16 years.

The Garcia/Saunders group still didn't play that many shows, as much of Garcia's excess time was taken up with his pedal steel guitar duties for the New Riders. However, knowing what we now know, there is good evidence that Garcia was thinking about making the Garcia/Saunders band his primary side project. We know that when Garcia met Buddy Cage in Canada in the Summer of 1970, he proposed Cage as his replacement. Garcia had recorded the NRPS debut album, which was released in October 1971. Garcia continued to play with the New Riders for most of the Grateful Dead's fall tour. The Riders (and the Dead) were broadcast live in every city that the band played, and Garcia's presence helped publicize the group.

However, we know that Buddy Cage had been rehearsing with the New Riders since September 1971, and although it may have been a surprise to the audience when Cage took over the chair (on October 31, 1971), it had been planned all along. Looking at the arc of Garcia's career, however, it seems that as he stepped aside from the New Riders he already had his next project up and running, even if the band did not begin to step out until 1972.

Tom Fogerty

Although it can be difficult to track exactly when Tom Fogerty played with the Garcia/Saunders group, his first appearance as rhythm guitarist seems to have been August 11, 1971. While I am not certain that Fogerty played every subsequent Garcia/Saunders show, he does seem to have become a regular member of the group. Fogerty, of course, had been a member of the hugely successful Creedence Clearwater Revival. However, various conflicts between his older brother John and the other band members caused him to leave the group, which broke up by the end of 1970 anyway. Tom Fogerty was a solo artist on Fantasy Records, and as a result he was friendly with his label-mate Merl Saunders. Fogerty played Stax-style rhythm guitar and sang the occasional lead vocal, and as a result the group was less focused on Garcia.

Brewer and Shipley
Brewer and Shipley were a folk rock duo out of Kansas City, via Los Angeles. They were on Kama Sutra Records, and Nick Gravenites had produced two successful albums for them at Wally Heider's  Studio in San Francisco. Gravenites used his stock studio players, who included Kahn on bass and Bill Vitt and Bob Jones on drums. "One Toke Over The Line," one of the tracks from the duo's Tarkio Road album, had become a substantial Top 40 hit. The song spent 10 weeks on the Billboard charts Peaking at #10 on March 13, 1971. A top 10 single in those days represented substantial sales, and the terrific Tarkio Road  probably got significant FM airplay in many cities. Kahn had played bass on every track of the album, so he must have heard his own work on the radio many times.

While Brewer and Shipley usually toured as an acoustic duo, for at least a few dates on their December 1971 East Coast tour, they had a band with them. In his Golden Road interview, Kahn alluded to having played Carnegie Hall with Brewer and Shipley in 1971, and I have been able to track the date to December 3, 1971. I assume there were a few other dates, but I don't know what they were.

I would presume that Brewer and Shipley still would have done some of their songs as a duo, as they usually did, and then brought out a band for some numbers. I assume that Bill Vitt was the drummer, because I know Bob Jones didn't go on the tour, but it may also have been Billy Mundi, a Los Angeles drummer with old connections to Mike Brewer (see below). I have to assume that there was a pianist and a guitarist as well, most likely Mark Naftalin and Fred Burton, although I don't actually know. It is interesting to contemplate the idea that while The Grateful Dead were playing Boston (Dec 1&2) and New York (Dec 4&5), Jerry Garcia's rhythm section was touring around the East Coast as well. Indeed, Garcia was free the night that Kahn played Carnegie Hall, and on his way to New York--too bad he didn't show up and sit in, but Carnegie Hall wasn't the Keystone Korner.

[Update: correspondent Randal G found this remarkable information on the Brewer and Shipley website, about Kahn's appearance with the duo on The Tonight Show, April 21, 1971]

Joey Bishop guest hosted the night we appeared.  John Kahn flew out to New York from the West coast and joined on bass but the show didn't want to pay to show John.  Also, they neglected to turn on his microphone, so he was there and he played, but couldn’t be seen or heard. To add insult to injury Tom's wallet was stolen out of his hotel room that was furnished by The Tonight Show. Ah, showbiz!

Other guests: Shelly Berman, Abe Drazed, Ashley Montagu, Romina Power

Richard "Zippy" Loren
Richard Loren, a former talent agent, was David Grisman's production partner. On September 20, 1970, they visited the Fillmore East to talk to Garcia about what city they should use to break their act, the Rowan Brothers (Chris and Lorin, not Peter). Garcia encouraged them to move to San Francisco, and by 1971 Grisman, Loren and the two younger Rowans had moved to San Francisco. By Fall 1971, Richard Loren had also become Jerry Garcia's manager for his non-Grateful Dead projects.

Up until this time, if Garcia had had a plan for his other musical endeavors, he hadn't told anyone and would barely have had time to execute it. With his own manager, however, Garcia had someone to book shows, negotiate contracts and make plans for him. Garcia's non-Dead career rested on the triangular pillars of Jerry, John Kahn and Richard Loren, who was known (on album liner notes at least) as "Zippy."

Garcia had a lot of obligations at the end of 1971, but he also seemed to be in a position where he was getting to do some things that he wanted to do. He recorded a solo album in July of 1971, he finished the New Riders album and toured with them, even though his hand picked substitute (Buddy Cage) was waiting on deck, all amidst the usual furious schedule of Grateful Dead concerts. Garcia's decision to have his own manager was a commitment to engage in real projects on his own, rather than just tagging along in jams or as a sideman. Although the relationship between John Kahn and Richard Loren is rarely discussed directly, without both of them all the various Jerry Garcia enterprises that followed after 1971 w0uld likely have never happened to the extent that they did.

Annotated John Kahn 1971 Performance List
February 2-3, 1971: The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders
Garcia had a busy Winter, recording with Paul Kantner and probably the New Riders as well. Between the recording projects and occasional Dead gigs, there weren't a lot of free nights for Garcia/Saunders gigs. At this juncture, Kahn probably mainly saw playing with Garcia as a fun part-time thing, rather than a career. 

February 12-13, 1971: The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders

February 19, 1971: Swing Auditorium, San Bernardino, CA: Mike Bloomfield & Friends
The activities of Bloomfield were always murky, and a number of gigs may have featured Doug Kilmer on bass rather than Kahn. During this period, however, Bloomfield did play a few larger gigs. This show featured Kahn on bass along with future Reconstruction member Ron Stallings on tenor sax. A tape circulates, and it's quite a good show.

A listing from the Oakland Tribune Teen Age section from February 27, 1971
March 2-3, 1971: The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders
Originally Garcia and Saunders were booked for March 2 and 3, but the Grateful Dead played the Airwaves Benefit at Fillmore West on March 3. This doesn't rule out the possibility that Saunders, Kahn and Vitt played the Matrix anyway on the second night, possibly with another guitarist, such as Nick Gravenites or Tom Fogerty. 

April 1, 1971: Keystone Korner, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders
This show would have marked the first performance by Garcia and Kahn at the Keystone Korner. Keystone Korner, at 750 Vallejo, was owned by Freddie Herrera. Herrera (with various partners) would go on to own the Keystone Berkeley, Keystone Palo Alto and The Stone, and Garcia would play for him over 400 times. 

April 8, 1971: Civic Center, Long Beach, CA: John Mayall/Mike Bloomfield & Friends-Chicago Slim
With the Grateful Dead on tour, John Kahn was free to tour with Bloomfield.  Chicago Slim was a friend of Bloomfield's named Noel Schiff. John Mayall's band at the time featured Harvey Mandel 9guitar), Sugarcane Harris (electric violin), Larry Taylor (bass) and Paul Lagos (drums).

April 16, 18, 19: The Ash Grove, Los Angeles, CA: Mike Bloomfield
The Bloomfield history site knows about the booking, but there is no certainty as to who played. Of course, with Garcia on tour with the Dead and his family in Los Angeles, a few stray SoCal gigs for Kahn make plenty of sense.

April 21, 1971: NBC Studios, New York, NY: The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson: Brewer And Shipley
Brewer And Shipley were booked for The Tonight Show, and John Kahn was flown out to accompany them. As described above, Kahn was neither shown nor miked.

April 29-May 2, 1971: Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA: Mike Bloomfield-Chicago Slim/Bola Sete/Mike Finnegan
Bloomfield was still a big enough name to headline at Fillmore West, but he was uncomfortable with his stature. From this point onwards, Kahn plays fewer and fewer gigs with Bloomfield, with Doug Kilmer taking over the primary bass duties. The strange nature of working with Bloomfield, however, meant that Kahn probably still subbed occasionally for Kilmer, just as Kilmer originally subbed for him. The Bloomfield history site has done an exceptional job of documenting his career, but it's impossible to say which band members played a Bloomfield gig during this period without a photograph, tape or review, since substitutions were common.

May 11, 1971: The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders
I'm not certain of this date.  The Matrix was on its last legs and the club may have closed before the show was played. A brief tape does circulate with this date (a 19 minute version of "Save Mother Earth"), but I have no reason to believe either that the date or the venue are correct.

May 14-16, 1971; Golden Bear, Huntington Beach, CA: Mike Bloomfield & Mark Naftalin
The Bloomfield history site lists Kahn as the bass player for these shows.

May 20-22, 1971: Keystone Korner, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders
From this point onwards, the Keystone Korner becomes the principal venue for the Garcia/Saunders group, as the Matrix has closed. 

May 26, 1971: Keystone Korner, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders

June 4-5, 1971: New Monk, Berkeley, CA: Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders
These shows were Jerry Garcia's first at 2119 University Avenue (at Shattuck), the site of the future Keystone Berkeley.  During this period, it appeared that Freddie Herrera was helping with booking the New Monk, and he would buy the club later in the year and change its name. Thus, while Jerry Garcia played 2119 University over 200 times (206 by my count), John Kahn had played there even more than that.

June 15-16, 1971: Keystone Korner, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders

June 26-27, 1971: New Monk, Berkeley, CA: Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders

July 10-11, 1971: Keystone Korner, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders
Jerry Garcia recorded his solo album at Wally Heider's in July of 1971, playing all the instruments himself, except for drums. Afterwards, I don't believe he used anyone other than John Kahn as a bassist in the studio for his solo work, save for some 90s recordings with David Grisman.

July 18, 1971: Marx Meadow, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA: Mike Bloomfield & Friends

July 23-25, 1971; Golden Bear, Huntington Beach, CA: Mike Bloomfield & Mark Naftalin

August 11-12, 1971: Keystone Korner, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders
Tom Fogerty was advertised at these shows, so I am marking his presence as having started here. There's no reason not to think he had already jammed with them on stage somewhere, as there would have been no comment or documentation of it in the press. I'm not certain Fogerty played every show in 1971, but I think he was a regular presence from this point until December 1972.

August 17-18, 1971: Keystone Korner, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders

August 29-30, 1971: New Monk, Berkeley, CA: Van Morrison/Mike Bloomfield & Friends/John Lee Hooker
Van Morrison was working with John Lee Hooker during this period, so if Kahn really played these nights it would have been a pretty memorable evening of the blues.

August 31-September 1, 1971: Keystone Korner, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders

September 10, 1971: Harding Theater, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders
The Dead seemed to be experimenting with the Harding Theater, on 616 Divisadero. There was an apparent September Dead date--maybe--and a poorly attended New Riders show (September 23) as well as this performance, about which nothing is known save a newspaper listing. If the show really happened, it would have been the first "concert" performance of the Garcia/Saunders band, outside of the few hip clubs they had played up until this time. If the show happened, it was well below the radar.

September 16, 1971: Keystone Korner, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders

September 17-19, 1971; Golden Bear, Huntington Beach, CA: Mike Bloomfield & Mark Naftalin
If Kahn in fact played all the shows at The Golden Bear, it fits in with his friends' assertion that he liked going to Los Angeles to visit his family and play the odd session.

September 24-25, 1971: Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders/Jerry Corbitt, Billy Cox and Charlie Daniels
The Lion's Share was a well-known musicians watering hole in Marin County. It was a tiny place, too, and it appears that there were early and late shows both nights, in order to turn over the house. For these shows, Bill Kreutzmann replaced Bill Vitt on drums. The truth is that we have very little idea how regularly Vitt and Kahn played with Garcia. Perhaps there were substitutes all the time, or perhaps this was the first time. We actually have almost nothing to go on besides newspaper ads that would have been prepared some time in advance. Ironically, tapes survive of both the early and late shows, so the earliest tape of the Garcia/Saunders ensemble features a substitute drummer (I'm not counting the uncertainly-dated May 11 tape).

The billing gives me good reason to think that the Garcia/Saunders booking was added at the last minute. Since Garcia could easily pack the Lion's Share, there would have been no need for an opening act, beyond perhaps a folk singer to keep people amused between sets. However, there was another act booked, featuring artists with actual albums in the stores. That band would not have booked if Garcia had already been signed on. I think the other act was scheduled, and when Garcia asked to be put on, the owner agreed and simply left the original act on the bill.

The other band was actually the original version of what became the Charlie Daniels Band. At the time, Daniels was a Nashville session man and producer who had released a solo album on Capitol in 1971. Daniels also produced Jerry Corbitt, who had been the guitarist in the Youngbloods, whom Daniels had also produced (Daniels played violin on "Darkness, Darkness" by the way). Corbitt and Daniels decided to team up, and added Billy Cox on bass (from Jimi Hendrix and Band of Gypsies), Jeff Myers on drums and Taz De Gregorio on drums. The story is very complicated, but in the end Daniels and De Gregorio went on to form the Charlie Daniels Band and they are still playing together today.

>September 24-25, 1971: Pepperland, San Rafael, CA: Mike Bloomfield & Friends/Stoneground/Clover
The Bloomfield history site lists John Kahn as Bloomfield's bassist for these Pepperland shows, along with Buddy Miles on drums, but in this instance we happen to know that Kahn was playing with Garcia and Saunders at the Lion's Share. Or do we? Do we know for a fact that Kahn played bass at the Lion's Share? Was he announced from the stage?

The opposite scenario is also possible: Kahn may have been booked to play with Bloomfield for some weekend shows with Bloomfield and Buddy Miles at Pepperland, and Bloomfield backed out of the booking (a common enough event). Garcia and Kahn might have put together a gig quickly, which was how they ended up at the Lion's Share on a weekend when another band was booked.

October 3, 1971: Frost Amphitheater, Stanford U., Palo Alto, CA: Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders/Bobby Hutcherson-Harold Land Quintet/Big Black
This show was in some ways the public debut of the Garcia/Saunders band, as hitherto they had only played nightclubs in San Francisco and Berkeley. Stanford had banned rock concerts from Frost Amphitheater at this point, but the show was billed as a jazz concert, and Garcia/Saunders seems to have qualified. JGMF wrote an interesting post about this show. 

October 8-9, 1971: Keystone Korner, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders

October 15-16, 1971: Keystone Korner, San Francisco, CA: Nick Gravenites, Merl Saunders, Tom Fogerty, John Kahn, Dave Getz
JGMF first noticed this show, and pointed out that Garcia was otherwise unnocupied this weekend, so may have shown up anyway. Regardless, I think the most revealing thing about this booking is how it reveals the working lives of the musicians. Nick Gravenites, Merl Saunders and Tom Fogerty all had solo careers of some kind, but no real working band. So they teamed up for the weekend with some players they knew: Kahn had worked with Gravenites in the Bloomfield band, and drummer Dave Getz had played with Gravenites in Big Brother in the previous year as well. In this context, to Merl and Kahn the weekend's gig would have been no different a booking than playing with Jerry Garcia, making a few bucks playing good music with your friends when you had nothing else going on.

December 3, 1971: Carnegie Hall, New York, NY: Brewer & Shipley/Steve Goodman
As discussed above, Brewer and Shipley were playing more substantial dates on the East Coast due to the success of "One Toke Over Line," and Kahn recalls playing with them at Carnegie Hall. It's possible that Bill Vitt was in the band, but it may have been Billy Mundi on drums, and probably a pianist and guitarist as well. I have to assume there were a few more East Coast dates for Kahn, but I haven't been able to track any down.

Opening act Steve Goodman would go on to write many great songs ("City Of New Orleans," "You Never Even Called Me By My Name") before his untimely death in 1984 (the ad at the top of the post is from the Village Voice, November 18, 1974, h/t All The Streets You Crossed).

December 10-11, 1971: Fenway Theater, Boston, MA: Mike Bloomfield-Paul Butterfield
Mike Bloomfield and Paul Butterfield had a weekend reunion show of sorts in Boston. The Bloomfield history site lists Kahn as the bassist, along with Mark Naftalin on piano and Billy Mundi on drums. This is why I think Naftalin was also playing with Brewer and Shipley, and it's not impossible that Mundi (an old B&S friend from Los Angeles, formerly in the group Lamp Of Childhood as well as the Mothers of Invention) played with them too, rather than Vitt . However, knowing that Kahn was in New York City the weekend before makes it plausible that Bloomfield would use him in Boston the next weekend. Bloomfield stopped playing Bay Area clubs for some time after this, and save for a concert at Winterland in 1973, I don't believe Kahn and Bloomfield played together again on stage.

Geoff Muldaur also sang a song with the band on December 11, a minor point but one that would have significant implications for John Kahn's future career (but not in the way you think). Update: I now think John Kahn recorded with Geoff and Maria Muldaur in Woodstock in December, 1971 during the time surrounding the brief Brewer and Shipley tour and the Butterfield weekend in Boston. Bloomfield was well-connected to the Muldaurs, and must have recommended Kahn as the bass player, probably part of a package to get Kahn to come East for a little while. The full importance of this session will be explained in the 1972 entry, and it has almost nothing to do with Maria.

December 23, 1971: Little Theater, Berkeley, CA: Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders
The Little Theater was a small auditorium associated with Berkeley High School, a sort of adjunct to the Berkeley Community Theater.

Barclays Premier League Matches LIVE:

Today's BPL 3.00pm Kick-offs:

Arsenal vs Bolton Wanderers LIVE
Chelsea vs Swansea City LIVE
Liverpool vs Wolverhampton Wanderers LIVE
Newcastle United vs Blackburn Rovers LIVE
West Bromwich Albion vs Fulham LIVE
Wigan Athletic vs Tottenham Hotspur LIVE

Manchester United vs Stoke City LIVE from 5:30pm

Manchester City vs Everton LIVE from 12:45pm

Team News

Manchester City:
Hart, Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy, Nasri, Barry, Yaya Toure, Aguero, Dzeko, Silva.
Subs: Tevez, Balotelli, Savic, Milner, Zabaleta, Kolarov, Pantilimon.
Howard, Hibbert, Jakielka, Distin, Rodwell, Fellani, Osman, Baines, Coleman, Cahil.
Subs: Mucha, Heitinga, Saha, Drenthe, Vellios, Stracqualursi, Bilyaletdinov. 

Under 5 minutes left until the early kick-off in the Premier League.

Carling Cup 4th Round Draw:

Arsenal vs Bolton Wanderers
Chelsea vs Everton
Aldershot vs Manchester United
Cardiff vs Burnley
Stoke City vs Liverpool
Newcastle United vs Blackburn Rovers
Crystal Palace vs Southampton

Ties to be played on the week commencing 24th October..

Manchester City vs Everton:
8: Still goaless here at the Ethiad Stadium.
9: Everton FOUL: Jack Rodwell fouls David Silva. Free-kick to Manchester City.
12: Throw-in by Everton defender Tony Hibbert.
12: Manchester City have had a chance.... Dzeko loses the ball infront of goal.
18: Shot by Sergio Aguero.... JUST OVER THE BAR!
20: Everton FOUL: Jack Rodwell fouls David Silva. Yellow card. Free-kick to City.
25: Everton FOUL: Phil Nevile fouls David Silva. Yellow card. Free-kick to City.
28: Everton FOUL: Leon Osman fouls Micah Richards.... Yellow card. Free-kick to City. *I see a pattern growing....* Everton's midfielders need to be careful are they will have the same fate as rivals Liverpool did last week against Tottenham Hotspur.

31: Manchester City FOUL: Yaya Toure fouls Seamus Coleman.. Was nowhere near the ball. Yellow card. Free-kick to Everton.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

February 2, 1974, Keystone Berkeley: New Riders of The Purple Sage with Jerry Garcia (Home, Home On The Road)

An ad for the 1974 NRPS album Brujo celebrates the band's popularity in NYC
I am not someone who keeps track of tapes, since there are so many people who do that so well. Recently, however, a tape surfaced on Sugarmegs that shed new light on a very obscure Jerry Garcia appearance. The Jerry Moore recording is worth hearing in its own right, but it also caused me to reflect on the little remarked fact that Jerry Garcia produced the 5th New Riders of The Purple Sage album on Columbia Records, the live album Home, Home On The Road. I can't recall any interviews or serious discussion about that fact at the time or since. Nonetheless, I think it marked the end of an era for Garcia and the Riders, and it was fitting that it took place at the Keystone Berkeley, the venue Garcia played most in his career. This post will consider both Garcia's guest appearance on six string electric guitar with the New Riders during most of their second set at the Keystone Berkeley on February 2, 1974, and attempt to frame it in the context of interlocking careers of Jerry Garcia and the New Riders.

The New Riders Of The Purple Sage, February 2, 1974
Columbia Records had signed The New Riders of The Purple Sage in 1970 on the strength of John Dawson's songs and their association with Jerry Garcia. Although Columbia label chief Clive Davis was unable to snag Garcia for his label until several years later (with Arista), his skills as a "record man" were legendary, and the New Riders were proof of that. I don't think that the Riders got a huge advance, but in the early 70s they sold a heck of a lot of albums. They weren't necessarily candidates for gold records, but a record company could make money on an album long before the artists did, so Columbia made plenty on the New Riders.

By the release of the New Riders fourth album, The Adventures Of Panama Red, in mid-1973, the New Riders seemed extraordinarily well placed in the record industry. The Grateful Dead, with whom the Riders would always be associated with, were more popular than ever. More importantly, "Country Rock" and "Outlaw Country" (essentially Country Music for longhairs) were growing in popularity. Artists like The Eagles, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson seemed to point towards a convergence of music styles, and the New Riders seemed hip enough for the outlaws while melodic enough for the radio. They also played great live shows, with lengthy and varied sets in the style of the Dead. With three singers and two writers, and a great soloist in pedal steel guitarist Buddy Cage, the Riders seemed primed to break out of the middle levels and hit the big time.

The only fly in this ointment was the unexpected departure of bassist/vocalist David Torbert at the end of 1973. John Dawson had written a huge batch of songs prior to the first album, and they had made up the bulk of his contributions for the first three albums (NRPS, Powerglide and Gypsy Cowboy), so Dawson was initially the de facto lead singer. However, by mid-73 Dawson was contributing fewer songs to the band. Although Torbert seems to have been initially recruited as just a  bassist and harmony singer, it turned out that he was an excellent singer and writer, and a nice contrast to Dawson. When Dawson and Torbert's contrasting styles were mixed with the sound of David Nelson singing old and new honky tonk music, the New Riders seemed to cover the whole spectrum of country rock. Torbert's handsome, laconic surfer look was an appealing counterpoint to Dawson's Cosmic Cowboy persona.

Thus when Torbert left the rising New Riders at the end of 1973 for unstated "opportunities," it cast a quizzical note on what had so far been a steady rise on the band's fortunes. As a replacement, the New Riders signed up veteran bassist and singer Skip Battin. Battin (1934-2003) a few years older than the rest of the band, who had once had some AM hits with the duo "Skip And Flip" (along with Gary Paxton), when other members of the New Riders were just finishing High School. After various other endeavors, Battin had ended up becoming the bassist for The Byrds from 1969 through 1972.

Although the New Riders were headlining mid-size halls throughout the country, and had just headlined Winterland the prior December (Torbert's last show had been at Winterland on December 15, 1973), the band seemed to want to break in Battin with some safe club gigs. According to the NRPS site, Battin's first show would have been January 29, 1974 at the Lion's Share in San Anselmo, a famous Marin musician's hangout. This show was followed by shows on February 1 and 2 at the Keystone Berkeley. The Friday and Saturday night shows were probably lightly advertised but sound packed to the gills.

The Second Set
Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA February 2, 1974
A pretty good audience tape endures of the New Riders' Saturday night show at the Keystone, thanks to the great taper Jerry Moore. According to the tape notes, Garcia joins the band for the entire second set, but I don't hear him until mid-set. I also have to add that the audience is pretty prominent between songs, and I don't hear the usual shouts of "Jerry!" and "Casey Jones" for the first few numbers. I also wonder how he got on the stage without being noticed, since the Keystone had no 'backstage' as such, and performers simply had to walk through the audience. It's a striking image in my mind to think of dancing, stoned New Riders fans grooving between the tables on the Keystone floor, while Garcia casually maneuvers between them on his way to the stage.

Garcia may join the New Riders for the instrumental "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy," a Joe Zawinul tune made famous by Cannonball Adderley, the fifth song of the set. He's definitely on board for "Truck Drivin' Man," "Glendale Train," "You Should Have Seen Me Running," "Crooked Judge," "LA Lady" and "Take A Letter Maria."  Jerry lays back on some tunes, but he lets it fly on "Truck Driving Man," "Crooked Judge" and "Take A Letter Maria." It's particularly interesting to hear Garcia go at it on "Crooked Judge," the only known instance where he performed this Hunter song (amusingly, Nelson introduces the song by saying "the old crank himself wrote this," probably as much for Garcia's benefit as anyone else).

While some of the numbers may seem surprising for Garcia to have joined in on, I only recently realized that Garcia would have just finished mixing Home, Home On The Road, and would have been completely familiar with the band's entire repertoire. While I find it unlikely that Garcia actually rehearsed with the Riders, if he knew the material he would have no problem fitting in, and that's plain when you hear him rip through "Crooked Judge" with Nelson and Cage at full speed. I have always insisted that the sound of the pedal steel guitar, rather than the notes themselves, was one of the principal attractions to Garcia. When you hear him rock through New Riders material on (no doubt) his Doug Irwin Tiger, there's no doubt that Garcia could have played six string on all the New Riders songs and the music would have been just as distinctive.

The cover of the 1974 NRPS album Home, Home On The Road
Home, Home On The Road
The New Riders were slowly climbing in popularity, but had not yet consolidated their following outside of the East and West Coasts. In the 1970s, one standard record company practice for a band with a couple of good albums under their belt was to record a sort of "Greatest Hits Live" album, with a few covers or unreleased songs thrown in for the hard core fans. The most famous example of this strategy was A&M's release of Peter Frampton's Frampton Comes Alive, recorded in 1975, but the practice had been around for years. In fact, Live/Dead would have been a signpost for many record executives of how a band could make an exciting live album to allow FM radio to "catch up" to a group.

Whether Columbia and the New Riders had made the decision to release Home, Home On The Road before Torbert gave notice isn't clear, but certainly once he left a live album allowed the band to tread water while they worked in their new bass player. When the album came out, Jerry Garcia's presence as the producer didn't seem too surprising, but following the Spring 74 release of the album the New Riders started to spin out of each other's orbit somewhat, so in that respect Garcia's production work and final live guest appearance with the band on February 2 were a sort of swan song to Garcia's close relationship to the band, even if that wasn't entirely seen at the time.

Producing a live album is less of a time commitment than producing a studio album. The producer's job would generally be to listen to all the material, select the best tracks and mix them down. In some cases, producers would also overdub additional instruments or vocals onto "live" albums--the Grateful Dead did that a few times--but I doubt that Garcia did that with the New Riders. As far as I know, Columbia professionally recorded two New Riders shows at the Academy of Music in New York City on November 23 and 24, 1973, and those were the shows that Garcia would have chosen the album from.

Producers were usually paid fairly well for their work, and my guess is that the Riders wanted a friendly comrade, but only Garcia had the clout to actually get a paycheck from Clive Davis. Put another way, Bob Matthews and Betty Cantor might have done the job just as well, but a New York label would not have trusted them as much as a big rock star. Keep in mind that in late 1973, the Grateful Dead were complete free agents, having turned down Warners and Columbia to start their own record company. It was a sign of Clive Davis long running courtship of Garcia that Garcia was hired to produce the Riders live album. As a footnote, remember also that producers usually get royalties for their work, so potentially at least if the album had been a big hit, Garcia would have had a continual stream of income.

New Riders Management
Home, Home On The Road represented a high water mark for the New Riders. A live album after a hugely successful studio album, particularly if produced by a famous friend, would have been intended as a place holder for the band's next big splash. However, the following album, Brujo, was kind of a letdown, and the last Columbia album, 1975's Oh, What A Mighty Time, seems like contractual filler, as the band was leaving Columbia after seven albums in five years. The New Riders signed a no doubt lucrative contract with MCA Records. Frank Zappa, it should be noted, always referred to MCA as "The Music Cemetery Of America" and the label's attempt to make the New Riders more Nashville-like was never successful. The band had a variety of ups and downs for several years, but they finally ground to a halt around 1982.

One factor that seems to have gotten lost in the New Riders history was that somewhere around 1973 or '74 the group changed management. The credits for Panama Red, recorded and released in mid-1973, list Jon McIntire (Uncle John himself) as the band's manager. By 1975, however, I know that the Riders were managed by one Joe Kerr, who also managed Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen. I'm not sure when the transition occurred, but I think it was late '73/early '74. The Garcia produced live album appears to also be the last Riders album that was part of the Grateful Dead managed universe, whether or not they had fully made the switch to Joe Kerr.

Kerr was a college friend of George "Cody" Frayne, and Frayne regretfully says now that Kerr stole most of the Cody band's money. I have to think that the New Riders did not escape unscathed. Although I don't know why Torbert left when he did--I have never found his minimal explanations convincing--when someone quits a rising band, money is never far from the hierarchy of motives. Either Torbert was not happy with the NRPS partnership, whatever it was, or he had some doubts about the recent or impending participation of Joe Kerr,  Torbert's departure presaged the long decline of the band.

Fortunately, however, David Nelson and Buddy Cage, with a little help from Robert Hunter, have revived the New Riders for the 21st century, honoring the band's past while upgrading them for the present. The band began touring again in 2005, just thirty-one years after Garcia got on stage with them at the Keystone Berkeley one night in 1974, ready to jam because he knew all the songs.

New Riders Of The Purple Sage with Jerry Garcia
Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 
February 2, 1974

Second Set (57 minutes)
01 - Hi Hello How Are You
02 - Dim Lights, Thick Smoke
03 - Parson Brown
04 - Linda
05 - Mercy Mercy Mercy
06 - Truck Drivin' Man*
07 - Glendale Train *
08 - You Should've Seen My Runnin' *
09 - Crooked Judge *
10 - L.A. Lady *
11 - Take A Letter Maria
12 - On The Amazon

The New Riders of The Purple Sage
Buddy Cage-pedal steel guitar
David Nelson-lead guitar-vocals
John Dawson-guitar, vocals
Skip Battin-bass, vocals'
Spencer Dryden-drums
  *Jerry Garcia-lead guitar (tracks 6-11)
  unknown-piano (track 12)

notes: it's not impossible that Garcia plays on "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" and "On The Amazon." The last number, a Skip Battin song, is rather hurried and Dawson quickly announces that they've run out of time and have to shut down, so it may not have been planned as the last song.