Although advertised as a Joe McDonald show, evidence points to this being the first true Country Joe and The Fish show as a band. Country Joe McDonald, Barry Melton, Paul Armstrong, David Cohen, John Francis Gunning and Bruce Barthol played "Bass Strings" and other songs. There is a chance that David Cohen, who was also still playing regular solo shows, was not present on this occasion.
In Joel Selvin's book San Francisco: The Musical History Tour, Selvin discusses an Instant Action Jug Band show in late 1965 that took place at the Cabale Creamery. By his account McDonald, Melton and Barthol played "Bass Strings". If this were correct then it would date it to well before late 1965 as the Cabale had been closed since the Spring. After November 19, 1965 the 2504 San Pablo location was home to the Questing Beast - the venue having also been called The Good Buddy and Caverns West since it was the Cabale Creamery. Therefore either the date is wildly incorrect, or (much more probably in my view) the location correct (2504 San Pablo) but the venue name and date incorrect. Furthermore, in an interview with Mojo Navigator (Issue 10), John Francis Gunning states that the first Country Joe and The Fish show was at the Questing Beast. The implication is that earlier shows had either been Instant Action Jug Band shows or Country Joe and The Fish as the McDonald/Melton duo - with augmentation by others – typically the Jabberwock irregulars.
The first steady line-up of Country Joe and The Fish featured Joe McDonald and Barry Melton (The Fish – or Blind Ebbets Field), Bruce Barthol, David Cohen, John Francis Gunning and Paul Armstrong. Armstrong would stay until the June of 1966 when he would be unable to sustain his commitment to the band.
At the time of this performance, the band would still have been very much an acoustic set up.
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