Berkeley and East Bay Concerts, October-December 1966
At the beginning of 1966, concerts at the Fillmore Auditorium and Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco transformed live rock shows and the music business itself. Rock concerts went from mere personal appearances by entertainers popular with teenagers to full expressions of art, music and culture. The live rock concert business exploded. What we understand as a rock concert today can be traced directly to those early 1966 concerts at the Fillmore and Avalon.
The Fillmore and Avalon had concerts every weekend in 1966, but they weren't large venues. The Fillmore held about 1500, and the Avalon somewhat less. Yet the shows were generally crowded, even though few of the bands had made a record, much less scored a hit. It was a true underground rock scene, that rarest of birds in the rock sky. Not all of the fans came from just the Haight-Ashbury, either. Many came from the Peninsula, and many came from surrounding colleges and universities. No school could have had more Fillmore rock fans than the University of California at Berkeley, since the school was so large, and transbay access to the ballrooms was so easy. The Bay Bridge, following the path of the old Key System, took patrons straight from downtown Berkeley to downtown San Francisco, just a quick sprint away from the Fillmore district.
With so many rock fans in the city of Berkeley, it's no surprise that even in 1966 there was a growing rock scene. The City and University were already centers of protest, long hair and rebellion, anyway--why not add some loud rock and roll to the mix? Yet live rock concerts had great difficulty taking hold in Berkeley, or anywhere nearby. But it wasn't for lack of trying. Some years ago--fourteen, actually--I began working up a list of concerts in Berkeley, Oakland and the rest of Alameda County. I published four parts, covering from September 1965 through September 1966 (see below for links). This post will continue the list, covering concerts in Berkeley and the East Bay from October through December 1966. Anyone with any recollections, corrections, insights or clever speculation should include them in the Comments. Flashbacks actively encouraged.
|Pauley Ballroom on the UC Berkeley campus, as it looked in 2010. The Ballroom was on the 2nd floor of the Student Union building, and could hold about 1000 patrons.
Berkeley Rock Scene, Status Report: October 1966
Berkeley was a prosperous college town with a huge State University. Up until the Beatles, however, Berkeley was the kind of place that casually turned up its nose at rock and roll, implying that it was "kid stuff" for unlettered teenagers. Berkeley had some folk clubs, and there was some jazz, and both went well with protest, which was practically a spectator sport. Some students followed the California Golden Bears football or basketball team, but that was considered kid stuff, too.
The biggest venue in town was the Berkeley Community Theater, a 3500 seat auditorium on Grove Street (now Martin Luther King Jr Blvd), at Allston. The Theater was the city auditorium, but it was also on the campus of Berkeley High School. Not only was it really too large for the rock market, but because it was on a campus, it often wasn't available on school nights. There were some venues on the UC Campus, like Harmon Gym or the new Pauley Ballroom, but they, too were restricted by the institution. In any case, neither UC Berkeley nor Berkeley High needed the money that came from booking shows, so it was tough for would-be promoters.
The only sort-of rock club, The Questing Beast (at 2504 San Pablo Avenue, 2 miles West of campus), had closed in June 1966. A folk club, The Jabberwock, at 2901 Telegraph (at Russell, across from the Co-Op market), sometimes booked rock bands, but they were mostly folk musicians who had bought an amplifier. The best known of those were Country Joe and The Fish, made up of former Jabberwock folkies. Since we have covered the history of both those venues, and Joe and The Fish, in great detail elsewhere, this chronicle will focus on the somewhat-larger-but-not-very venues where concerts were booked. In the East Bay, there were plenty of rock fans. The struggle was finding a venue for the type of concerts that people wanted to see, like they did at the Fillmore or the Avalon.
October 1, 1966 Greek Theatre, Berkeley, CA: Jim Kweskin Jug Band/Jesse Fuller/Robin Goodfellow/Merritt Herring/Barry Olivier/Country Joe & The Fish/Dev Singh (Saturday) Fireside Folk Festival
One of the major events on the Berkeley music calendar was the Berkeley Folk Festival, held across a summer weekend in late June every year since 1958. There were smaller events in campus buildings, including workshops and lectures, usually an outdoor concert in "Faculty Glade" and then finally a Sunday afternoon concert with all the performers. The Sunday afternoon show was held at the Hearst Greek Theatre, a large outdoor venue at 2001 Gayley Road, just above the campus. Built in 1903 and modeled on the ancient Greek theater of Epidaurus, it held up to 8,500 people. Huge rows of stone seats extended upwards in a giant bowl. The University used it for graduation and high profile speeches. UC Berkeley, being UC Berkeley, explicitly spelled it English-style as "Theatre" rather than the Americanized "Theater."
|A bonfire lights up the stage at Berkeley's Fireside Folk Festival, September 25, 1966
1966 was about the high water mark for the crossover between rock and folk. The 1966 Berkeley Folk Festival had been headlined by a group of former folkies calling themselves Jefferson Airplane. All the electric bands that were plugging in at the Fillmore and Avalon called themselves "folk-rock" bands. For another year or two, at least on the West Coast, folk and rock were still aligned. The Fireside Folk Festival was held on two Saturdays at the Greek Theatre. The first date was September 25, and the culmination was October 1. I don't know if there were smaller campus events in between, but I doubt it. The concerts were organized by Barry Olivier, who was the organizer of the Summer Berkeley Folk Festival. In the sandy bowl between the stage and the stone grandstand, a huge bonfire was built, apparently to simulate singing folk songs around the campfire. Deadheads who saw the band at the Greek many times--I saw 16, I think--can only imagine what that might have been like.
The second weekend leaned more towards a rock orientation. The Jim Kweskin Jug Band were the headliners. The Kweskin band had more or less single-handedly re-introduced Jug Band music to the folk community with their 1963 debut album. It had a profound effect. On one hand, Jug Band music was truly part of the folk tradition, as authentic and revealing as bluegrass, string band or Appalachian ballads. On the other hand, Jug Band music was easy and fun to play, and didn't require great technical facility (like bluegrass) or powerful singing (like Appalachian music). In an era when even folk performers wore matching outfits and had stage "patter" between songs, the Kweskin band wore their street clothes, bantered with the audience and played what they felt like.
When Jerry Garcia saw the Jim Kweskin Jug Band in Berkeley (at the Cabale on March 11, 1964) he saw the blueprint for the Grateful Dead, even if he didn't realize how loud he was eventually going to play. After the Greek, the Jim Kweskin Jug Band would be headlining the next weekend at the Avalon Ballroom (October 7-8), above Janis Joplin and Big Brother. The Kweskin Band went on to have a long, complicated, important history, but brace yourself if you google it. In any case, one of the singers was a pretty teenager named Maria D'Amato, who would marry the other singer, Geoff Muldaur, and go on to legendary status herself.
The Fireside Folk Festival also featured Country Joe & The Fish, and this was no small thing. Joe McDonald and Barry Melton had been young folkies and anti-war activists in Berkeley, and had invented their name to memorialize their duo. They had released an obscure "talking magazine" called Rag Baby that included a version of "Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag" in 1965. It would become well-known a few years later when it was released on an album, and infamous when it was part of the Woodstock movie in 1970. Country Joe and The Fish were the first Berkeley folk ensemble to "go electric," which they did at The Questing Beast in March, 1966, soon after Joe and Barry had seen the Butterfield Blues Band at the Fillmore. A September 30 Berkeley Gazette preview of the Festival mentioned that the band was one of the "new style" folk-rock bands.
In June 1966 Country Joe and The Fish recorded a three-song EP, which they had released themselves later that month. The group was way ahead of the industry, releasing their own record and selling it at the popular Moe's Books in Berkeley and other hip outlets. They sold 15,000 copies. When they signed with Vanguard later in the year, they re-recorded the songs, and Vanguard insisted they stop selling their own record. The EP was the first "psychedelic" record that many underground bohemians had ever heard, in places far from Berkeley. When "Bass Strings" started and Joe sang "Hey partner won't you pass that reefer around," he was calling out around the world.
By October, Country Joe and The Fish had already played at the Fillmore (August 27 and September 4), and were regulars at The Matrix, so they were the rising stars in the Berkeley folk-rock firmament. Another act on the bill were Jesse Fuller, a "one-man band" from Oakland who had written "San Francisco Bay Blues." He also wrote two songs later played by the Grateful Dead ("Beat It On Down The Line" and "Monkey And Engineer"). Also on board was pennywhistler Robin Goodfellow. Merritt Herring, Dev Singh and Barry Olivier were solo folk singers. Olivier also acted as MC for both Saturdays.
The Fireside Folk Festival was a typical mid-sixties folk festival, folk music mixed with some forward looking folk-rock sounds. But the seeds of change were being sown. Northwestern University has a great archive for the Berkeley Folk Festival, based on Barry Olivier's archives, and it has some great material about the Fireside Folk Festival. Some planning notes from Olivier are revealing. He includes a list of possible artists to contact, some of whom actually ended up playing the festival. Besides Country Joe and The Fish, however, it also includes guitarist Perry Lederman, a player who influenced Garcia--he was also Owsley's Berkeley "sales rep." The Berkeley bluegrass band Pine Valley Boys played the prior Saturday (September 25), and leader Butch Waller was famously was the first person to drop acid with Jerry. Also playing was guitarist Alice Stuart, already a former member of The Mothers Of Invention. Change was coming.
In Fall '66, the Berkeley rock concert market could absorb about a concert a week. No one had a plan, but a weekly event was what the market could muster. Pauley Ballroom was a low-ceilinged room in the second floor of the Student Union, holding about 1000. It had been built as part of the new Student Union in 1965. While Pauley well-situated, the room was designed for visiting lecturers, and the low ceilings ensured horrible sound for electric music. Student groups could rent the room, so bands and promoters teamed up with student groups to put on weekend shows.
The top act this weekend was Quicksilver Messenger Service, who had already made a name for themselves at the Fillmore and Avalon. Quicksilver had been formed with the idea of backing folksinger Dino Valenti, but he had been in prison for violating probation in late '65, so the band got together without him. As the flyer above shows, 1966 Quicksilver was a quintet, with guitarist Jim Murray. The rest of the band was the quartet that would become famous two years later, when their debut album was released by Capitol. Joining Murray on guitar were John Cipollina and Gary Duncan, with David Freiberg on bass and Greg Elmore on drums. Murray, Cipollina and Duncan sang, and Murray played harmonica, too. While 1966 QMS played similar material to the later, famous version, it had shorter songs and 3-part harmonies, and far less jamming.
The Only Alternative, often billed as "The Only Alternative And Their Other Possibility," featured singer Mimi Farina. Farina was a local folk singer, famous for being Joan Baez's sister, but a fine singer herself. Farina didn't play every show with the Only Alternative, and sometimes they also played with a different female singer (Sunshine MacNichol). Circus Maximus was from Los Angeles, and featured an electric violinist. They were not the Greenwich Village band of the same name, who would release two albums on Vanguard in 1967 and '68 (and feature no less than pre-Outlaw Jerry Jeff Walker under a different name).
Despite the obscurity of this event, we actually know a fair amount about it. Faren Miller (1950-2022) was a Berkeley teenager whose parents liked rock music. They took her to local concerts, and Faren thankfully wrote about the shows she saw in careful detail. Some time in the 1990s, Miller typed up the musical portions of her old diaries, and posted them on a Yahoo group, do the delight of rock prosopographers everywhere. So we have her detailed account of the Pauley show. Quicksilver’s set included “Dino’s Song”, “Susie Q”, “Runaway”, “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” and “Acapulco Gold and Silver.’ The bands played just one set each, as Pauley was a University venue and couldn't run late. Circus Maximus were from LA, and featured a black, female lead singer and an electric violinist, but Miller roundly criticized them.
October 14, 1966 Finnish Brotherhood Hall, Berkeley, CA: Second Coming (Friday)
The struggle for Berkeley rock concerts was to find a regular venue. The Finnish Brotherhood Hall , built in 1932, was near Downtown on 1970 Chestnut Street, just off University Avenue. It was available for rent, and had already been used a few times for concerts. It was a nice little place, but it was just too small for the exploding rock concert industry.
Second Coming were one of the first underground rock bands (not counting High School bands) in Berkeley, following Country Joe & The Fish. The band was led by guitarist Vic Smith and organist Mike Lafferty. Also in the band at this time were guitarist David Lieberman, drummer Paul Tillman-Smith and bassist Lonnie Turner. Vic Smith would go on to lead the Berkeley bands Sky Blue, and Grootna. The Oakland-born Tillman-Smith would move to New York in 1967, playing with many jazz musicians and finding success as a producer. Lonnie Turner would join the Steve Miller Band in early 1967, and ultimately co-wrote Miller's massive hit single "Jungle Love" (with Greg Douglass).
October 15, 1966 Maple Hall, San Pablo, CA: The Group/Purple Earthquake/Just V/The Dimension (Saturday) Presented by Malcolm Williams, Jr
Events near the UC Campus were focused on college students, whether they were rock concerts, poetry readings or protests. Berkeley High School had a thriving rock scene of it's own, however, explored in astonishing detail by Alec Palao in the second issue of Cream Puff War. For the most parts, the High School bands performed in little "teen" venues that were directed at other High School students. Nonetheless, the High School rockers did put on some shows intentionally directed at more than just Berkeley High. Throughout 1966 and 1967, many shows were booked at tiny Maple Hall in the East Bay town of San Pablo.
San Pablo, CA is 10 miles and 20 minutes North of downtown Berkeley. It is a tiny city almost entirely surrounded by the much larger city of Richmond. In 1966, San Pablo would have had a population of about 18,000. Most Berkeley residents, much less college students, have no idea San Pablo even exists. Driving North on San Pablo Avenue--which Berkeley college students never did anyway--the little city of San Pablo just seems to be part of Richmond. Maple Hall was part of San Pablo's city hall complex. The original Maple Hall had burned down in 1946, but prior to that it had hosted many performers, as it was a significant venue for the "Music Row" that had entertained Richmond shipyard workers during WW2. Bob Wills and many others had played there. The address was probably 13381 San Pablo Avenue, although Maple Hall apparently faced Church Lane.
Maple Hall had been rebuilt by 1950, and returned to hosting music shows. The Berkeley High crowd discovered they could rent it, and started putting on shows there. College students didn't apparently attend Maple Hall shows, but the local Richmond residents did show up (in the Cream Puff War article, they are referred to as "greasers"). This October show was promoted by Malcolm Williams, who would go on to take over the Babylon club, at 2504 San Pablo, site of the Cabale. In May, 1971 Williams would re-open the venue as The Long Branch, which would play a big role in Berkeley rock in the early 1970s.
|Purple Earthquake guitarist Robbie Dunbar, at the Drop In Teen Center in the Berkeley Hills in 1966. Dunbar was a member of Earth Quake throughout the 60s and 70s. The photo is from Cream Puff War #2 (February '93).
Of the groups playing this night at Maple Hall, Purple Earthquake was the most notable. Then a Berkeley High quintet, Purple Earthquake would evolve into the band Earth Quake. Earth Quake would release two albums on A&M in the early 1970s, and later start their own record label. Beserkeley Records scored hits with Johnathan Richman and Greg Kihn. At this time, guitarist Robbie Dunbar and bassist Stan Miller were already in Purple Earthquake, and they would remain in the band throughout the entire 1970s.
|A poster for the Teens 'N Twenties show at San Leandro's Rollarena featuring The Byrds on Saturday, October 21, 1966
October 21, 1966 Rollarena, San Leandro, CA: The Byrds/Peter Wheat & The Breadmen/The Baytovens/Jack and The Rippers (Friday) TNT Presents
The biggest regular rock venue in the Bay Area was actually in suburban San Leandro, about 16 miles Southeast of Berkeley. Most of the week the Rollarena was a skating rink, but on many Friday nights it was a home for rock and roll. A Rollarena concert could hold 2000 patrons, and that was more than the 1500 Bill Graham could fit in the Fillmore, much less than 1200 or so Chet Helms could get at the Avalon. The Rollarena promoter was Bill Quarry, who had been putting on shows continuously since 1964 in smaller halls. Quarry had moved to the Rollarena on New Year's Eve 1965, and had booked many Friday nights since then.
Quarry's "Teens 'N' Twenties" (TNT) promotions mostly featured East Bay bands, whether he was booking the Rollarena or smaller places. The bands were fairly professional, for young rock and rollers, but they weren't hippies. Some of the local bands had even released singles, but they were mostly playing covers for kids to dance. San Leandro had a big cruising scene on East 14th Street, just like in American Graffiti. The Rollarena was at 15721 East 14th St, at the edge of the huge Bay Fair Shopping Center. Bay Fair had built in the late 1950s on the site of the old Oakland Speedway. TNT shows were all about High School, or young men who had a job at the Fremont Ford plant, not the underground college crowd on Telegraph Avenue.
Still, Quarry often bought in touring headliners for his Rollarena shows. Some of them had even played the Fillmore. Jefferson Airplane had headlined once, and Them had headlined, too. Before that show, out behind the Rollarena, Van Morrison had met San Leandro native Janet (Planet) Rigsbee, his future wife and the world's Brown-Eyed Girl. This weekend's show was headlined by The Byrds. The Byrds had scored two number one singles in 1965 ("Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Turn, Turn, Turn"), and their big hit off their new album (5th Dimension) was "Eight Miles High." The original Byrds quintet was still intact, with David Crosby and Gene Clark.
Interestingly, great as they were on record, The Byrds were a lousy live band. Their equipment was inadequate, they never rehearsed, and their headline sets were typically about half an hour. Their long-time road manager, Jimmi Seiter, said that in this era record companies and bands considered concerts to be like "personal appearances," not performances. Movie stars often appeared at shopping center openings and the like, smiling and shaking hands, but not really expected to perform. The Fillmore changed that equation for rock music--and for each Byrd as individual musicians.
As for the opening acts, Peter Wheat & The Breadmen were from Oakland, and the Baytovens were from San Leandro. Both had released singles that have been released on "Garage Rock" compilations. Jack And The Rippers were from Vallejo. All of these bands were aspiring to be the Rolling Stones, more or less. The Rollarena shows were held many Fridays through mid-'67. Eventually, the San Leandro kids wanted to go the Fillmore or larger places to see bands they were hearing on the radio, rather than dance to local groups, and Quarry ceased putting on shows there (for a list of Rollarena shows during this period, see below).
|The October 18, 1966 Berkeley Gazette had a promotional photo of The Association
October 22, 1966 Greek Theatre, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Association/Love (Saturday)
The Association headlined a concert at the Greek Theatre. The note in the Berkeley Gazette (above) called it a "Benefit" because all concerts in University facilities had to be not-or-profit, with the proceeds directed somewhere. Of course, the bands would have been paid, the promoter and stagehands would have been paid, and so on, so most of it was really not charitable, not like a benefit for People's Park protesters.
The Association were a six-man pop group from Southern California. They had smooth vocal harmonies supported by a modest rock beat. The band had released their debut album And Then...Along Comes The Association in July of 1966. It would reach #5 on Billboard, and went Gold. It's success was driven by two huge hit singles, "Along Comes Mary," released in March '66, which reached #2, and "Cherish," from August, which would reach #1. The Association had a reputation of being a good live band, playing their own instruments and hitting their notes when they sang, which many 60s pop groups could not manage. The band played a lot of college campuses, as they were the kind of band where you could take a nice girl out on a date.
The Association would only get bigger, with their 1967 smash "Windy." They even played the Monterey Pop Festival, where absolutely nobody remembered them, amidst a weekend full of the likes of Janis Joplin, Otis Redding and Jimi Hendrix. In Fall '66, however, they were big enough to headline an 8500 seat venue on the Berkeley campus.
|Love's debut album on Elektra Records, released March 1966
Opening the show was the legendary Los Angeles underground band Love. Led by singer and guitarist Arthur Lee, Love was one of the first bands to arise from West Hollywood's Sunset Strip. Lee was a fashion icon in his way, influencing Hednrix's psychedelic look, and the band was a musical influence on The Byrds and others. Love's showstopper was a cover of "Hey Joe," although The Leaves, The Byrds and Hendrix actually recorded it before them. Love had released their debut album on Elektra in March 1966.
The original Love never performed outside of California, and they remain a fixation to collectors and music historians. Arthur Lee was notoriously unreliable, and could be brilliant, terrible or just not show up. At this time, newspapers did not take rock music seriously, so while the Berkeley Gazette ran a promotional photo (above). there was no mention of the show in any Oakland, Berkeley or San Francisco papers. I have no idea if the show was sold out, how Love went over, or if Arthur Lee even performed.
November 4, 1966 Pauley Ballroom, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Country Joe & The Fish/Second Coming (Friday)
Country Joe and The Fish were Berkeley's leading home-grown rock band, so it's no surprise they were booked at Pauley Ballroom. Interestingly, in an interview in the legendary Mojo Navigator fanzine ( issue 11), Country Joe and The Fish suggested that while the students who worked dances at Pauley Ballroom were friendly enough, they darkly asserted that “the people who run the building are creeps.” While much of Berkeley proper was sympathetic to the progressive musical and political agenda of Country Joe & The Fish, plenty of people in positions of authority were suspicious of the long-haired hippies.
November 5, 1966 Hearst Gym, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Country Joe and The Fish/Blackburn & Snow (Saturday) “Vietnam Day Committee Peace Rock”
UC Berkeley was Ground Zero for protesting American involvement in the Vietnam War. It was no small thing that Country Joe & The Fish were explicit, committed anti-war activists, regularly performing at protests and playing benefit concerts to support the cause. "Vietnam Day" was a national day of protest against the War, and the band was headlining a concert on campus. Hearst Gym was the smaller Women’s gym on Bancroft (near Bowditch). Ultimately, this show was moved to Pauley Ballroom (about 1000 yards West).
|(Jeff) Blackburn and (Sherrie) Snow, in a 1965 Trident Productions publicity photo
Jeff Blackburn and Sherrie Snow had met as San Jose State students, and had a sort of folk duo. In late 1965, they had been signed by Frank Werber, who had produced the Kingston Trio and the We Five. His Trident Records label released two singles by Blackburn & Snow. Sessions were completed for an album, but they broke up (musically and personally) before it was released. Ultimately the material was released on CD in 1999. Blackburn & Snow were regular performers in the East Bay and San Francisco in 1966. They usually performed with other musicians, including on occasion Carlos Santana on lead guitar.
November 11, 1966 Maple Hall, San Pablo, CA: The Justice League/The Group/The Fuzz/The Chosen Four (Friday)
On occasion, the rock shows at Maple Hall featured a headliner that wasn't a Berkeley High group. In this case the show featured the band Justice League, who were part of Frank Werber's Trident Productions stable. Trident's acts included the Sons Of Champlin and Blackburn & Snow, among others. Justice League featured guitarist Ron Cornelius. Cornelius was later in the band West. Ultimately he moved to Nashville, played on a Bob Dylan album, and had success as a session man and producer.
The poster included the caption “The Biggest thing to hit Richmond since they caught Aunt Audrey Blowing Pot" (the city of Richmond was just North of the tiny town of San Pablo).
November 25, 1966 Maple Hall, San Pablo, CA: 13th Floor Elevators/The Group/Chosen For (Friday)
The 13th Floor Elevators were from Austin, TX. Being a long-haired marijuana-smoking dropout was an adventure in California or Greenwich Village, but it was genuinely dangerous in Texas. It's no surprise that the Elevators had a dangerous edge not found amongst their relaxed compatriots in San Francisco or Los Angeles. For a few months in late 1966, the 13th Floor Elevators moved to the Bay Area. My understanding, however, is that they lived in hilly, suburban San Bruno, rather than the Haight-Ashbury or Berkeley (they also brought along Curly Jim Stalarow, but that's another story).
The Elevators had a modest radio hit with "You're Gonna Miss Me," so they played the more teenage gigs rather than the underground ones. They did not play the Fillmore and were blocked for some reason from playing the Avalon. Still, they played steadily around the Bay Area, including headlining this Maple Hall show. They returned to Texas shortly after this.
The old Maple Hall was torn down in 1974, and a few years later, the
city of San Pablo replaced the old Maple Hall with a new one. The new one was only a block away from the old one, but has a new address.
December 2, 1966 Pauley Ballroom, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Grateful Dead/Country Joe & The Fish/Notes From Underground (Friday) “Danse Macabre” Presented by Junior Class of The University of California
The Grateful Dead and Country Joe and The Fish were booked together at Pauley Ballroom. One note about this show was that the infamous Chesley Millikin, then working in Berkeley, attended the show and became friends with Rock Scully and the Dead. Millikin was one of the most influential "behind-the-scenes" guys in rock history, a tale I will tell elsewhere. After this show, both headliners grew far beyond the confines of the little campus ballroom.
Notes From Underground were not on the poster, but a band member recalls opening the show. It doesn't seem like something he would have mistaken for another event, so I'm confident of the memory. They were local folkies who "went electric," like everyone else, and they released an album on Vanguard in 1968.
|A flyer for a Blackburn & Snow concert at the Longfellow School in Berkeley, December 10 1966
December 10, 1966 Gym, Longfellow School, Berkeley, CA: Blackburn & Snow/Pat Kilroy and The New Age (Saturday) A BBC Benefit
The Longfellow school was at California and Ward, about a mile from the Jabberwock club. I do not now know the reference to "BBC," for whom the benefit was held. It seems fair to assume it wasn't the British Broadcasting Corporation.
Both Blackburn & Snow and The New Age were popular performers at the Jabberwock (on Telegraph and Russell). The New Age was a trio that played ethereal, improvised acoustic psychedelic music. Pat Kilroy sang and played acoustic guitar, joined by Susan Graubard on flute and koto (a Japanese stringed instrument) and Jeffrey Stewart on congas. A guitar/koto-flute/congas trio may seem like "typical New Age music" to modern ears. It's important to remember, however, that no such genre existed at the time. I am able to make the case that Berkeley's New Age trio pretty much invented "New Age" music, even if in a somewhat unheralded way.
Pat Kilroy had released a 1966 solo album on Elektra, Light Of Day. The New Age went on to record an album in 1967. It was shelved when Pat Kilroy died of Hodgkin's Lymphoma on Christmas 1967. A cd was ultimately released in 2007.
Jeff Blackburn and Sherrie Snow broke up in 1967, musically and personally. Sherrie Snow was a founding member of Dan Hicks and The Hot Licks in 1969, but dropped out of music and moved out of the Bay Area for another decade. Jeff Blackburn was in various bands, including Moby Grape, and played in The Ducks with Neil Young. He co-wrote "My My, Hey Hey" with him. Jeff Blackburn died in 2023 at the age of 77.
Berkeley Concert Scene: Status Report, End of 1966
The rock concert industry was booming in San Francisco, and the East Bay was trying to keep up. Country Joe & The Fish was Berkeley's leading rock export. Concerts at UC Berkeley were a regular thing, but University venues were either too large or too small, and not always available. There were teenage rock shows, too, but college and high school tastes weren't the same yet. In 1967, there would be a more focused effort to have rock shows in Berkeley.
For the next post in this series (Berkeley and East Bay Concerts, January-March 1967), see here [forthcoming]
The Rollarena (at 15721 E. 14th St, near Bay Fair shopping center) held rock shows most Friday nights. There were rarely newspaper ads, so flyers were the only trace of them. We only have flyers for certain days, so it's impossible to know if there were shows at the Rollarena on the "missing" Fridays. See here for some surviving Rollarena flyers.
October 7, 1966 Rollarena, San Leandro, CA: Psychadilic Circuit/The Weeds/San Andreas Fault Finders (Friday)
The Generation was a San Mateo band featuring Lydia Pense on vocals. They evolved into Cold Blood.
October 21, 1966 Rollarena, San Leandro, CA: The Byrds/Peter Wheat & The Breadman/Baytovens/Jack and The Rippers (Friday)
November 11, 1966 Rollarena, San Leandro, CA: Harbinger Complex/The Spyders (Friday)
November 18, 1966 Rollarena, San Leandro, CA: Beau Brummels (Friday)
December 9, 1966 Rollarena, San Leandro, CA:Music Machine/Hypnotist Collector (Friday)
Other Posts in the East Bay Concert Series