Tuesday, 28 December 2010

2727 Milvia Street, Berkeley, CA, Iceland Skating Rink September 13, 1968: Sky Blue/Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band

(the poster for the Sky Blue/CGSB show on September 13, 1968 at Berkeley's Iceland Skating Rink. Poster by Jeannie O'Hara. h/t Brian for the photo)

The 60s were a time of new possibilities and new ideas, particularly in Berkeley. However, not all those ideas worked out as intended. Bands were always looking for new places to play, in the hopes of expanding their audience and making a little money. The manager of the Berkeley band Sky Blue got the clever idea of putting on a rock concert at Berkeley's ice skating rink, Iceland. Friday night was date night there, to some extent, and it seemed like a good idea to make an event out of it. It was a good idea, perhaps, but it still didn't work out.

Iceland was Berkeley's first skating rink. In some parts of the country, ponds would freeze over in the Winter and skating was a regular part of the Winter, but in balmy Coastal California that never happened. Ice skating, then, was an exotic activity imported from a foreign land, practiced only by the specially initiated and the very curious. Nothing says "Berkeley" like "imported from a foreign land" and "specially initiated," so Berkeley's Iceland was opened in 1940.

Iceland was at 2727 Milvia, between Derby and Ward. It was a few blocks below Telegraph, and about six blocks West of the Jabberwock. It was in between residential and commercial neighborhoods, a good location for a skating rink, but it was also near where a lot of hippies lived as well. Skating rinks were a comparative rarity on the West Coast, so Iceland had a bit of history to it: the National Ice Skating Championships were held there in 1947, 1957 and 1966, so famous skaters like Dick Button and Peggy Fleming had competed there. By the 60s, the rink was owned by the Zamboni family (Frank Zamboni had invented the Zamboni ice resurfacing machine). No one had considered Iceland as a venue for rock concerts, however.

Allen Silverman and Sky Blue
Allen Silverman had been a songwriter in Los Angeles, with his partner Audie DeLong. De Long and Silverman had had some modest success, placing a song on a Stone Poneys album, among other things, but by 1968 they had moved to Berkeley. Silverman ended up living on Warring Street with the band Sky Blue, a group who was popular in Berkeley but had not yet managed to get any traction outside the city. Silverman became Sky Blue's manager and helped to arrange shows for them. The poster was created by the bass player's girlfriend.

The Iceland show was put on by "Buried Treasure Productions," but that was just Silverman and Sky Blue. The Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band were a fellow Berkeley band, a little more successful than Sky Blue at this point, since they had been signed to Vanguard Records. It seemed like a very clever idea to put on a rock concert at the Ice rink, since a lot of hippies lived within walking distance, it was a chance for couples and groups to go out together, and it would have seemed like a fun thing to do while stoned.

Brian Voorheis of the CGSB reports that after all these years he remembers the gig well, since he's never played a concert for ice skating couples since then. The fact that the event was never repeated suggests that it was not a financial success. A couple of possible reasons come to mind:
  • West Coast people mostly don't know how to skate. If someone had invited me to a skating rock concert at Iceland (I lived in the area in the late 70s and 80s) I wouldn't have wanted to embarrass myself, so I wouldn't have gone. I can't have been the only person who thought that way
  • Even in the warm October of Northern California, it's cold inside an ice rink. Voorheis recalls that his then girlfriend wore a sun dress and nearly froze to death. She was probably a Californian, and most of us had never set foot in a skating rink, so as a result we wouldn't know to bring a jacket. His girlfriend probably didn't tell everyone the next day that she had a really great time, and she probably wasn't the only chilly Californian there
The Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band released their album on Vanguard, and then led the recording of the Masked Marauders album, along with some members of Sky Blue, but CGSB ground to a halt in early 1970.

Sky Blue never released an album, although two members of the group (Vic Smith and Anna Rizzo) joined forces with Allen 'Slim Chance' Silverman to form the band Grootna, who did release an album, but they too did not grab the brass ring. Silverman, however, became successful as a manufacturer of guitar picks.

Iceland soldiered on for another 40 years, finally closing in 2007, as the aging structure and changing economics of Berkeley finally forced it's demise. It is remembered fondly by many skaters, but it's very brief history as a rock concert venue has gone unremarked until now.

Monday, 27 December 2010

UFO Leads Diggers to Be-In Site

Berkeley Barb: April 1967

The Digger Be-In, begun last weekend with modest success is still, in progress, and has taken-on a new twist.

Three nature-loving Diggers have staked a claim to an abandoned mine in Malakoff State Park and, according to park authorities, “are in no violation of the law”.

The trio, who have billed themselves as an advance party of a vanguard of thousands of disenchanted city hippies, has set up camp inside the cave and has been living among me trees for more than a week.

The choice of Malakoff Diggings as a Be-In site, one Digger head told a radio station, was the result of the trio's “encounter with a UFO earlier this month”.

The three were driving from Nevada City when they sighted the object.

The bright oval hovered over their car for a few moments then began cruising in the direction of the park. They followed and it very soon disappeared - over a nearby hill. When-the three reached the crest of the hill, they claimed, they found a burned out circle of grass about 200 feet in diameter, with glowing rocks on the ground nearby. The rocks were later analyzed at a UC lab as containing a high degree of radiation. They regard the incident as “a message” a Digger stated.

New tribes will be gathering at the Free Store, 901 Cole, next Wednesday from 7 to lOam, to join those already at the diggings.

The campsite, is located 160 miles north off Highway 99, about twenty .minutes out of Nevada City.

Diggers urge - that those equipped the leave as soon as possible.More information and road of maps of Mars can be obtained at the Free Store

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Fish For First Hip Fair

Happiness is a Porpoise Mouth. The First Annual Hippy Fair, and Dance-Festival will be held 8 pm Saturday evening in Hearst Gym on the Cal Campus, the sponsoring Pretentious Folk Front announces.

No problems are anticipated from university authorities despite the controversial nature of several of the featured attractions. The event will provide the campus community a chance to see what the hip artists are currently up to.

The Festival is a benefit for Country Joe and the Fish who have lost two weeks work because alcoholic club owners have cancelled their engagements. Fear of risking the Fish's performances was the reason given.

Selections will be screened from the group's in-progress film "How I Stopped the War", a documentary of their triumphant progress from Market Street to Pax Pisces during the recent Peace Demonstrations. Country Joe will perform.

The SF Mime Troupe, itself involved in socially provocative events lately, will bring their bodies east of the Bay for dancing and skits of social interest. Individual improvisers of choreography will also perform, as will the Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood Agit-Prop Truck Theatre.

Early in the evening Berkeley's own Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band will do some takes by arrangement with the Jabberwock. Several films will be shown, a former Fug will construct a six-foot gods-eye on stage, and the first campus showing of the paintings of the controversial Russian artist Gershon Ikovsky Gershovitz will be opened.

All hip, craftsmen, artists, and artisans are invited to display their work, bringing blankets or whatever showcase they feel suitable. If you are one of the above and wish to participate contact the Front Festival Committee at their temporary office phone 548-1513. Donations at the door, $2.

The Cleanliness & Godliness Skiffle Band in 1967

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Love and Peace Weekend - Part II

September 28-29, 1968 Live Oak Park, Berkeley
From the Berkeley Barb Issue 163:

Love and Peace Fest Bummed by Fuzz

Berkeley's Festival of Love and Peace last Sunday ended as an Exercise in Law and Order.
While hundreds of diverse people strolled through Live Oak Park gazing at sculpture, painting, photography and unnamed art forms, Carl Worth, director of the city's official art center, was spending much of his time on the phone, trying to keep the heat off.
Police arrived Sunday afternoon, gesturing a stack of complaints several inches thick. A call to City Manager William Hanley kept the festival open. When a group described by one observer as "members of the Geritol set" complained that they couldn't use the park, the test nevertheless went on.

Hanley's support was withdrawn Sunday at 10 p.m., the hour Berkeley's sound ordinance goes into force. Police arrived promptly to squelch the noise emanating from the Art Center's small in door theatre.
The noise was a Rock Mass being offered by the Free Church, sponsor of the weekend festival. According to people outside the building at the time, the sound of the band was far from loud, even near by.
Despite the efforts of Carl Worth and Free Church Reverend Dick York, the police insisted that the sound must cease. Hanley and Worth did succeed for two days in fending off those who objected to the display of "street culture" throughout the park and in its Art Center gallery.
Just before the 10 p.m. crack down Sunday, the Floating Lotus Magic Opera Company completed its ceremony-drama, the Quest for the Inner Eye of Truth. Costumes, gestures, music and words woven by the Floating Lotus led a procession of spectators into a spontaneous dance. That dancing mood, at a slower tempo, seemed to be reflected in the eyes of most of the thousands of people who wandered among the artworks during the two days. Many were heard to remark on the good quality of the work. Even the rock bands did not pack the people too tight together, but there always seemed to be a crowd.
Unlike many of the classic Be-Ins, at the Live Oak festival a weary body had room to lie on the grass without encountering stray feet.
Although many street people expressed bitterness that The Man ended the arts test on a harsh note, several are still working on a project to develop an Arts Center for the Telegraph Avenue community. They invite interested persons to attend a meeting for that purpose at the Berkeley City Hall on Friday, October 4, at 1:30 pm.

Love and Peace Weekend - Part I

September 28-29, 1968 Live Oak Park, Berkeley

From the Berkeley Barb Issue 163:

The Festival of Love and Peace happens this Saturday and Sunday, at Live Oak Park in Berkeley.
Artists in all media have been invited to exhibit their work, starting from noon on both days.
Pegboard panels will be provided for hanging paintings photographs, prints, posters, etc. Weavers, potters, leather and jewelry makers are also welcome.
Performances and happenings have been planned for both nights. Saturday from 6 to 10 pm local, poets/writers will give readings of their work. They include Charles Bordin, John Thomson, Hal Razavi. Richard Krech, J.Q.Adams, and John Oliver Simon.
Also scheduled for this program is a jazz concert by the New Jazz Improvizational Group, a light show by Environmental Dynamics, and films by Herb de Grasse.
Led by the Floating Lotus Magic Opera Company, people at park at 8 pm Sunday will experience The Quest for the Inner Eye of Truth. This processional will break through the physical restrictions normally placed by a theater setting.
The Quest will culminate at 9.30 at the park's theater in a Free Church Celebration planned as a liturgy.
Bands will play in the northwest corner of the park. On Saturday bands will be: Milkwood, Lazarus Hmmmm, Dancing Food and Entertainment, and the Crabs.
On Sunday groups playing include Sky Blue, the Purple Earthquake, Friend, and the Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band.
The Gallery at the park will be filled with an environment of painting prints, wall hangings, etc. The garden behind the building will be devoted to sculpture. The Free Church is sponsoring the event. They suggest bringing a musical instrument and something to share. And also respect for the pounds. The park is being turned over to the people Berkeley for the weekend, it belongs to you anyway, so treat it with care.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Kaahwump! And Crowd Says Aaah

Piano Drop: Duvall, Washington - April 28, 1968

Oooooh!—Kaahwump!—Aah!" Those are the sounds a crowd and an uptight piano' make when a helicopter dumps the piano from a height of 200 feet.

More than 3,000 people, many of them flowered, beaded and longhaired hippies paid $1 and gathered in an isolated grassy ravine near here underneath sunny and warm Sunday skies to watch "the piano drop."

A musical underground group called Country Joe and the Fish, provided music while the crowd waited for the helicopter.

When the time came, spectators, children and several dogs were shooed back from the area where the piano would drop.

The helicopter soared overhead. The piano dropped, the crowd went 'Oooooh!", the piano went "Kaahwhumpl", shattered and the crowd went "Aaah!."

The whole thing was a benefit for a listener-sponsored FM radio station, KRAB, in Seattle, 40 miles west of the "piano drop" area.

Piano dropped from helicopter in Duvall and thousands turn out to see it on April 28, 1968

On April 28, 1968, nearly 3,000 spectators flock to Larry Van Over's farm in Duvall to see (hear?) a piano drop from a helicopter. Duvall is located in King County northeast of Seattle.
Van Over, better known as "Jug" for his musicianship as a member of the Willowdale Handcar jug band, had recently heard a recording on KRAB-FM of a piano being destroyed by sledge hammers. Finding the aural experience disappointing led to the speculation (most likely fueled by certain psychoactive chemicals) about dropping a piano from a building, or better yet, a helicopter, and what that drop might sound like.

Van Over enlisted the aid of Paul Dorpat (b. 1938) at Helix. A benefit "Media Mash," co-sponsored by KRAB and Helix, had already been scheduled for April 21, with performances by Country Joe and the Fish among others. The Piano Drop was hooked on as a free premium the following Sunday.

Larry tracked down an old upright piano, moved it to his farm, and contracted a helicopter service out of Boeing Field. The pilot didn't quite get the point, but he had moved pianos with his helicopter before. Having successfully not dropped pianos, he saw no special problem in doing the opposite. As Larry later recalled, "There were a number of Newton's laws that the pilot neglected to consider."

Assured of the feasibility of musical strategic bombing, Larry calmly dropped acid on Sunday afternoon and climbed into the helicopter to guide the pilot out to his farm in Duvall. It was sunny and clear. As the helicopter passed Woodinville, Larry and the pilot noticed that the traffic below was getting heavier and heavier. "Gee, there are a lot of people out today," Larry commented over the engine's roar.

By the turnoff to Larry's farm, he and the pilot realized that they had not been observing mere Sunday drivers. The roads around the farm were a parking lot - and then they saw a wall-to-wall carpet of humanity covering the drop zone. Instead of the 300 participants he expected, the pilot estimated at least 10 times as many people filled the countryside below. At that moment, Larry got that special, tinny taste in his mouth indicating that his mental altimeter had exceeded the helicopter's.

"No way, no way, no way," the pilot muttered with mounting conviction as he set the helicopter down next to the awaiting piano. "What exactly is your apprehension here?" Larry asked innocently.

"They're not going to get out of the way," the pilot explained.

"They'll move, man, they'll move," Larry pleaded with that persuasive power only true evangelists and zonked-out lunatics can muster. "Trust me, man, it'll be like the Red Sea all over again!"

For whatever reason -- curiosity, fear of not getting paid, or a contact high -- the pilot relented. "Okay, but they gotta give me plenty of room, or no drop."

The pilot hitched the piano to a special harness and lifted off. He approached the target, a platform of logs, from an altitude of at least 150 feet. The machine hove into view and the crowd, as Larry had predicted, parted and retreated to a respectful distance.

The pilot brought his machine to a halt mid-air, but bodies in motion tend to remain in motion, and the 500-pound piano dragged the helicopter forward. The pilot panicked and hit the harness release, but nothing happened. He then hit the emergency cable release, and the piano snapped free.

It described a lazy arc through the bright spring sky, overshot the target by several yards, struck the soft earth, and imploded with a singularly unmusical whump. "A piano flop," Paul Dorpat later dubbed it.

The crowd was not disappointed and let loose a collective "Far out!" as it surged toward the remains of the piano. By the time Larry pushed his way to the piano's impact crater, not a stick, wire, ivory, or scrap of felt remained. "They devoured it," he recalled. The last he saw of the instrument was its steel harp being loaded into a VW microbus by two hippies.

As Country Joe and the Fish fired up their amplifiers, somebody said, "Hey, let's do that again," and so was born the idea for the Sky River Rock Festival and Lighter Than Air Fair, which took place later that year.

AP Article “Piano Drop”
Walt Crowley, Rites of Passage: A Memoir of the Sixties in Seattle (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1995), 110-112, 255.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Solon Faces Banana Treat

The following article first appeared in the Berkeley Barb Volume 4, Number 10 (Issue 91, May 12-18, 1967).

(Mr. Thompson of New Jersey asked and was given permission to extend his remarks at this point in the Record and to include extraneous matter.)

Mr. Thompson of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently launched an investigation or banana peel smoking.

This was very good news to me, since I have been extremely concerned over the serious increase in the use of hallucinogenics of youngsters. Apparently, it was not enough for this generation of thrill seekers to use illicit LSD, marijuana, and airplane glue. They have now invaded the fruit stand.

The implications are quite clear. From bananas it is a short but shocking step to other fruits. Today the cry is "Burn, Banana, Burn." Tomorrow we may face strawberry smoking, dried apricot inhaling or prune puffing.

What can Congress do in this time of crisis? A high official in. the FDA has declared: Forbidding the smoking of material from banana peels would require congressional legislation. As a legislator, I feel it my duty to respond to this call for action. I ask Congress to give thoughtful consideration to legislation entitled, appropriately, the Banana and Other Odd Fruit Disclosure and Reporting Act of 1967. The target is those banana smoking beatniks who seek a make believe land, "the land of Honalee," as it is described in the peel puffers' secret psychedelic marching song, "Puff, The Magic Dragon."

Part of the problem is, with bananas at 10 cents a pound, these beatniks can afford to take a hallucinogenic trip each and every day. Not even the New York City subway system, which advertises the longest ride for the cheapest price, can claim for pennies a day to send its passengers out of this world.

Unfortunately, many people have not yet sensed the seriousness of this hallucinogenic trip taking. Bananas may help explain the trancelike quality of much of the 90th Congress proceedings. Just yesterday I saw on the luncheon menu of the Capitol dining room a breast of chicken Waikiki entry topped with, of all things, fried bananas.

An official of the United Fruit Co. daring to treat this banana crisis with levity, recently said: The only trip you can take with a banana is when you slip on the peel.

But I am wary of United Fruit and their ilk, because, as the New York Times pointed out, “United stands to reap large profits if the banana smoking wave catches on."

United has good reason to encourage us to fly high on psychedelic trips. And consequently, I think twice every time I hear that TV commercial: "fly the friendly skies of United."

But let me get back to what Congress must do. We must move quickly to stop the sinister spread of banana smoking. Those of my colleagues who occasionally smoke a cigarette of tobacco would probably agree with the English statesman who wrote: The man who smokes, thinks like a sage and acts like a Samaritan.

But the banana smoker is a different breed. He is a driven man who cannot get the banana off his back.

Driven by his need for bananas, he may take to cultivating bananas in his own backyard. The character of this country depends on our ability, above all else, to prevent the growing of bananas here. Ralph Waldo Emerson gave us proper warning: Where the banana. grows, man is ... cruel.

The final results are not yet in, however, on the extent of the banana threat. An FDA official has said that. .judging from the four years of research needed to discover peyote's contents; it will probably take years to determine scientifically the hallucinogenic contents of the banana. We cannot wait years, particularly when the world's most avid banana eater, the monkey, provides an immediate answer.

We can use the monkey as a laboratory, seeing what effects bananas have on him. The FDA says it cannot tell if a monkey has hallucinogenic kicks; they think not. The problem, I feel, is seeing the monkey munch in its natural habitat. To solve this dilemma, I propose the Peel Corps, necessarily a swinging set of young Americans capable of following the monkey as he moves through the forest leaping from limb to limb.

On the home front, I am requesting the President to direct the Surgeon General to update his landmark report on smoking and health to include a chapter on banana peels. In the meantime Congress has a responsibility to give the public immediate warning. As you know, because of our decisive action with respect to tobacco, cigarette smoking in the United States is almost at a standstill. This is because every package of cigarettes that is sold now carries a warning message on its side.

Therefore, I propose the Banana. Labeling Act of 1967, a bill to require that every banana bear the following stamp, "Caution: Banana Peel Smoking May Be Injurious to Your Health. Never Put Bananas in the Refrigerator."

There is, of course, one practical problem with this legislation: banana peels turn black with age. At that point, the warning sign becomes unreadable. It may be necessary, as a consequence, to provide for a peel depository, carefully guarded to protect the public from aged peels. I am now requesting of the Secretary of the Treasury that, given the imbalance of the gold flow, some of the empty room at Fort Knox be given over to such a peel depository.

As with any revolutionary reform movement, I expect the forces of opposition to be quite strong. One only has to look at the total lack of Federal law or regulation relating to bananas to realize the banana lobby's power. We have regulations on avocados, dates, figs. oranges, lemons, pears, peaches, plums and raisins. But bananas have slipped by unscathed.

What we need across the length and breadth of this great land is a grassroots move to ban the banana, to repeal the peel. Howard Johnson's can survive with only 27 flavors. And what is wrong with an avocado split? I will only breathe easier when this country, this land we love, can declare, "Yes, we have no bananas; we have no bananas today."


Saturday, 18 September 2010

Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen Performance List 1969: Berkeley Beginnings

(A flyer for the Grateful Dead show at the Family Dog on The Great Highway, August 29-30, 1969, representing the first known appearance of Commander Cody on a Bay Area rock artifact)

COMMANDER CODY Performance List 1969
Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen were the second group from Berkeley to have a successful rock and roll music career, after Country Joe and The Fish. Of course, the members of both bands have considerably fuzzier memories and fewer dollars than fans might think appropriate to genuine legends, but such was rock music stardom in the 1960s. However, the ubiquity of the band’s 1972 hit was so great that people of a certain age who grew up in the Bay Area, whether or not they recall the name Commander Cody, know that Pappy said son, you’re gonna drive me to drinking, if you don’t stop driving that Hot—Rod—Lincoln.

Of course, quite a number of successful Bay Area bands had roots in the East Bay. Creedence Clearwater Revival was one of the biggest bands of the 1960s, and they were very much an East Bay band. Their label, Fantasy Records, was on 10th Street (at Parker) in Berkeley, and John Fogerty took guitar lessons in Berkeley, among many other Berkeley connections. However, Creedence could more fairly be termed an “East Bay” band, which certainly included Berkeley, but they were not an exclusively Berkeley band. The group was actually formed in El Cerrito, and the band members lived around various cities in the East Bay as the band evolved. Tower of Power were the pride of Oakland, and they played Berkeley many times, but they were not Berkeley centered in the manner of Country Joe and The Fish and Commander Cody And His Lost Planet Airmen.

Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen were also interesting in that the key members of the band moved to the Bay Area in order to succeed, as did many 60s bands, but Cody and company actually achieved their goal. Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen’s mixture of honky tonk, rock and roll and Texas swing, with a twist of hip self-consciousness, made them a Berkeley band, playing modified versions of strains of popular music little known to middle-class suburbanites.

Cody and the Airmen were from Ann Arbor, MI, but Berkeley and Ann Arbor have always had a symbiotic relationship. In the late 20th century, the Universities of Michigan and California (at Berkeley) were the top public schools in the nation, and the traffic back and forth was thick with scholars, activists and musicians.

There are two very entertaining accounts of the founding of the Airmen on the web, a story in George (Cody) Frayne’s own words and an old Ed Ward article from Rolling Stone. Both of these stories, while hugely entertaining, are full of various amusing exaggerations. Neither is very helpful with respect to the timeline of the early days of the band in the Bay Area (Cody’s story actually gets the year wrong), so I am rectifying that here. What follows is a chronology of the first six months in the East Bay for Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen. This chronicle is based on the best information available to me at this time. Anyone with additional insights, corrections or recovered memories (real or imagined) should Comment or email me.

Ann Arbor 1967-69
University of Michigan graduate students George Frayne (Fine Arts, piano) and John Tichy (Physics, guitar) had formed the group in Ann Arbor in 1967 as Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, as an homage to an obscure movie serial (actually called Kommando Kody). The group was a loose aggregation of local musicians, and was a continuation of a band that Frayne and Tichy had begun as undergraduates. Although the story gets changed and embellished with each telling, it does seem that the band chose the name and then had to “decide” who was “Commander Cody,” since people kept asking. For reasons that change periodically with each retelling, George Frayne was designated as Commander Cody.

George Frayne received his MFA in Spring 1968 and got a position teaching Art at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh (the main campus was at Madison—Oshkosh was a satellite). The Commander Cody band continued on with various members throughout the 1968-69 school year. Frayne did come home to play with Commander Cody on weekends, but ultimately the band “fired” him in order to be able to play more gigs. The Commander Cody band was particularly interested in playing “honky tonk” country music, in a Bakersfield style that was distinct from the fashion popular in Nashville, as well as rocked up versions of Texas Swing music, all of which was largely lost on the R&B oriented fans in Michigan. The band finally ground to a halt in the Spring of 1969 when guitarist Bill Kirchen headed out West to California.

Bill Kirchen had been in the Detroit psychedelic blues band The Seventh Seal, but he had also been a part-time member of the Cody outfit. The Seventh Seal ended sometime in late 1968, and in early 1969 Kirchen left the Kody band and headed out for the West Coast. Around the same time, Cody singer Billy C Farlow, a member of the Detroit band Billy C And The Sunshine Band, had joined the group of Chicago blues drummer Sam Lay for a tour. However, Lay’s band folded out on the West Coast, and Farlow and Kirchen joined forces.

Farlow and Kirchen had put together a band called The Ozones and found a regular booking at a "Hillbilly bar" on Mission Street in San Francisco called Harris’s Town Pump. In June of 1969, with the academic year ending, Kirchen called Frayne and John Tichy, and persuaded them both to put their academic careers on hold and try music in the Bay Area. Frayne was already tired of college teaching after just one year, and Tichy was willing to put his graduate career in physics on hold. Kirchen reported that no bands in the Bay Area were playing what they were, so the Coast was clear. In any case, there had always been such a regular transit between Berkeley and Ann Arbor than any U. of Michigan student who moved to Berkeley did not even have to make new friends (I’m not exaggerating).

June 1969: Harris’s Town Pump, San Francisco, CA: The Ozones
The story of The Ozones residency at Harris’s Town Pump is mostly known from the Ed Ward article a year later. Apparently, it was a Hillbilly dive on Mission Street at 18th, not too far from Dolores Park (a picture is here). During the Ozones' time there, the club seems to have been sold to Samoan proprietors and the bar seems to have undergone a transformation. In any case, it remains a mystery to this day who else was in The Ozones besides George Frayne (piano), Bill Kirchen (lead guitar, vocals), Billy C Farlow (vocals, harmonica) and John Tichy (guitar, vocals).

While the band seems to have been playing their unique brand of hippie honky-tonk several nights a week at Harris’s Town Pump, they also seem to have been making plans to become a real band, using the name Commander Cody and The Lost Planet Airmen. The numerous amusing tales told by Frayne and others about their early days in San Francisco—while likely true—mask a complete seriousness to give up potentially paying jobs in teaching or music in order to perform their own style of music, which was years ahead of its time.

July 4, 1969: outside Cody’s Books, Haste St and Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley, CA: Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen
According to George Frayne’s own version of the saga, the first official performance of the band was an acoustic performance on Telegraph Avenue outside of Berkeley’s popular Cody’s Bookstore (just down the block from Moe’s, and three blocks up from campus). Frayne played accordian, and Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band drummer Tom Ralston (an old friend from Michigan) played a little percussion, so the performance seems to have been of great ceremonial importance to the band. It’s unlikely many or any other people recall it however—in true 1969 Berkeley fashion, the performance was interrupted by a full blown riot, complete with tear gas.

What little evidence that can be gleaned suggests that throughout the Summer Frayne, Tichy, Kirchen and Farlow were putting together the West Coast version of Commander Cody and The Lost Planet Airmen. The band members found a house in Emeryville, a tiny town on the bay near the Oakland/Berkeley border, and that became the “band house” that is a foundational myth in many band stories. Emeryville, once an important transportation hub, had a lengthy history of drinkin’, gamblin’, sinnin’ and good times, perfect for the Commnander Cody persona (indeed the only other Emeryville band I know of was the notorious Country P*rn, with Chinga Chavin).

I think the Berkeley performance on July 4 was an event of importance to the band members, even though they did not yet have a rhythm section. However, they seem to have been in the process of putting one together. By mid-Summer, the initial lineup of the group seems to have been
  • Billy C Farlow-vocals, harmonica
  • Bill Kirchen-lead guitar, trombone, vocals
  • John Tichy-guitar, vocals
  • Steve “West Virginia Creeper” Davis-pedal steel guitar
  • Andy Stein-fiddle, tenor sax
  • George “Commander Cody” Frayne-piano
  • Lance Dickerson-drums
  • Gene Tortora-bass
Steve Davis had been the bass player in one of the early bands formed by Tichy and Frayne back in the mid-60s, and among many other things he had been the State Trampoline champion. One of the many forgotten peculiarities about the refreshing persona of Cody and the Airmen was that for Berkeley hippies, they had a distinctly “jock” persona, in that they were all huge sports fans, independent of their commitment to revolution and weed (until this century, Michigan has always had a great football program, and Berkeley has always been indifferent, and this one was one of the few profound differences between Ann Arbor and Berkeley). Since his undergraduate days, Davis had learned to play pedal steel guitar. According to Cody legend, Davis had wanted to be “Commander Cody,” but was outvoted by other band members, and was given the name “West Virginia Creeper” instead.

Andy Stein was a classically trained violinist who also played bluegrass and country fiddle, not to mention tenor saxophone. Stein’s ability to switch from fiddle to saxophone gave the Airmen their distinct stylistic versatility. Stein was from New York, although I’m not certain if he knew Frayne from High School (Frayne grew up in Long Island). In any case, Stein played with the band on occasion in Michigan, and seems to have come out to Berkeley to join the Airmen. One of the more concrete bits of evidence about the band’s genesis turns out to be that Andy Stein played fiddle in High Country, Berkeley’s finest bluegrass band, throughout the Summer of 1969 while waiting for Cody and the Airmen to start performing regularly (this information courtesy bassist George Inskeep). Stein, too, was putting aside considerable training to throw in his lot with Cody, so for all the band’s bravado it was a very serious enterprise.

Lance Dickerson had been the drummer for Charlie Musselwhite in early 1969, which is how he met Billy C Farlow, who at the time was on tour with Sam Lay’s band. When Musselwhite’s aggregation stopped playing, Dickerson was available to join the fledgling Airmen.

August 11, 1969: Mandrake’s, Berkeley: Audition Night: Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen
According to the Ward article, Cody and The Airmen debuted at audition night at a Berkeley club called Mandrake’s, at 1048 University (near San Pablo Avenue). Mandrake’s was a little beer joint that generally featured blues and danceable rock. The Cody crew had so many friends from Ann Arbor that they managed to pack the place on a weeknight, so they were immediately booked. While the Cody band was a terrific outfit, it was a fact that Ann Arborites moved to Berkeley with their social life intact, so Cody already had a built in fanbase in Berkeley.

The Airmen's integration into Berkeley was so seamless that their audition show at Mandrake's was reviewed in the next week's Berkeley Barb. Clearly written by a friend of the band, the article included a photo of the group (above) and the headline "Real Country Rock." However, a waitress who worked at Madrake's at the time thinks that the photo was not from the club, although she recognizes Cody and the Airmen circa 1969. We have assumed the photo was taken in Michigan, and given to the Barb writer for publication, but I would love to know exactly where it was taken.

August 23, 1969: Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco: Quicksilver Messenger Service/Sons of Champlin with Jimmy Witherspoon/Anonymous Artists of America
1969 was the Summer of Rock Festivals, and San Francisco was going to have its own on the weekend of August 22, called The Wild West Festival. Ultimately the grand three-day event in Golden Gate Park was canceled, leaving numerous bands without a gig and the organizers holding many debts. A number of last second events were held at Fillmore West and The Family Dog, which I have written about elsewhere.

According to the Ward article, Cody and the Airmen opened for Quicksilver and “only two people attended the show.” Quicksilver played Saturday night at the Dog, and Ralph Gleason reviewed the show, and a lot more than two people were there. However, its reasonable to assume that Cody played early and few people were there when they played. The group was not listed in any of the last-second publicity. 

August 25, 1969: Jewish Community Center, San Francisco: Larry Hanks/Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen/many others “Golf Festival”
San Francisco Chronicle columnist Ralph Gleason gave Commander Cody their first mention in the Monday, August 25, 1969 edition (above). Larry Hanks and Cody were playing a “Golf Festival” at the Jewish Community Center. What was this? Was anyone there ready to be “Lookin At The World Through A Windshield” and dancing to some hippie honky tonk?

Although the official name of the group was Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, the band was often billed as just “Commander Cody” or “Commander Cody and The Lost Planet Airmen.” This confusion has continued into the present day.

August 28-30, 1969:  Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco: Grateful Dead/New Riders of The Purple Sage/Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen/Rubber Duck Company
The first real exposure for Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen was third on the bill at Chet Helms’s Family Dog on The Great Highway, behind The Grateful Dead and The New Riders of The Purple Sage. While Commander Cody’s swinging honky tonk may sound comfortable to our ears, it was odd stuff in late 1969, and a Grateful Dead concert was as good a place as any for them to be heard (poster up top).

Keep in mind, however, that in late 1969 the Dead’s current album was the psychedelic Aoxomoxoa, and while the Dead had started to play the more countrified material later found on Workingman’s Dead, their audience wasn’t yet assimilated to the Buck Owens sound. This weekend was also a very early performance for the New Riders of The Purple Sage, who were often tied together with the Airmen throughout the early 1970s. At one point, in fact, the Riders and Cody had the same management. The New Riders, however, played in a much more melodic style, with greater focus on songwriting, while Cody and the Airmen were a more swinging, danceable aggregation.

The poster advertised shows on Friday (29) and Saturday (30), but it appears that all the bands played on Thursday August 28 as well.

September 2-4, 1969: Mandrake’s, Berkeley: Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen
Cody and The Airmen played Tuesday through Thursday at Mandrake’s, presumably the result of their successful audition somewhat earlier.

September 9, 1969: Mandrake’s, Berkeley: Commander Cody and HIs Lost Planet Airmen 

September 12, 1969: Freight and Salvage, Berkeley: Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen
The Freight and Salvage was Berkeley’s premier folk club (and still is). There cannot have been much financial benefit for an 8-piece band playing the 87-seat Freight and Salvage, but the Airmen played the Freight regularly, presumably because it was near their house, it was a fun gig and it provided an opportunity to work on new material. The Freight lacked a liquor license, nor did it allow smoking—a first for a nightclub as far as I know—so its an indication of the sincerity of Cody and The Airmen that they regular played the Freight under such restrictions (that is, they had to go across the street to The Albatross to drink and smoke).

Nonetheless, this Friday night appearance at the Freight appears to have been the first weekend headline booking in the Bay Area for Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen.

September 19-20, 1969: Freight and Salvage, Berkeley: Alice Stuart/Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen
The Freight calendar just has Alice Stuart on the 19th, and the Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band on the 20th, whereas The Berkeley Barb has Stuart and Commander Cody for both nights. It does seem possible that it was one or the other, but Alice Stuart was close friends with the Cody crew (a 1969 tape circulates with her standing in on bass with the Airmen), so perhaps they did play together. In any case, it is uncertain who actually played bass with the Airmen at this time, and maybe she was temporarily part of the group.

September 30, 1969:  Family Dog on The Great Highway, San Francisco: Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen/Flying Circus/Deluxe/Clover
This event was presented by the 13th Tribe. It was  a Tuesday night event featuring local bands.
October 3-4, 1969: New Orleans House, Berkeley, CA AB Skhy/Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen
The New Orleans House, at 1505 San Pablo Avenue, was a little farther up Berkeley’s rock and roll food chain. Cody and the Airmen played a weekend booking with AB Skhy, a Wisconsin band who had moved to the Bay Area the previous year and developed a solid following.

October 5, 1969: Freight and Salvage, Berkeley: Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen

October 7, 1969:  Fillmore West, San Francisco: Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen/Gods Country/Sunday
The Fillmore West had a Tuesday night audition series, largely obscured by history, that I have written about extensively. The $1.00 admission shows gave bands a chance to showcase themselves for both Bill Graham’s organization and local talent agents and record company staff. No posters or flyers advertised the show; press releases that got mentioned in local papers are one of the few ways we have to trace these events.

Given the date, this must have been how the group made themselves known to the Bill Graham organization, who seemed to have hired them to back Doug Kershaw a few weeks later (see October 24-26 below). There were many Bay Area country bands who could have backed Kershaw, but they were not part of the Bill Graham Presents universe at the time, and Cody’s timely audition must have fit nicely with the need for them.

October 10-11, 1969: The New Old Fillmore, San Francisco: Flamin Groovies/Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen/Phoenix
The Flamin Groovies (a San Francisco band) had taken over the booking of the original Fillmore (at 1805 Geary) after Graham had decamped to the Fillmore West (the old Carousel). Ancient posters reveal a bunch of cool bands who played the venue in the Fall of ‘69, but by all accounts the “New Old Fillmore” was thinly attended.

October 23-25, 1969 UC Berkeley Folk Festival
>October 23, 1969:  Pauley Ballroom(evening) Dance: Country Joe and The Fish/Youngbloods/Vern and Ray/Janet Smith/ Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen /Jeffrey Cain/Dan Hicks and The Hot Licks
>October 24, 1969:  Pauley Ballroom (afternoon) Panel: Sam Hinton, Arthur Crudup, Alice Stewart, Charles Seeger, Charley Marshall, Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry, Commander Cody.
>October 24, 1969:  Pauley Ballroom  (evening) Dance: Arthur Crudup/Charley Marshall/John Fahey/Opelousas Playboys/Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen/Joy of Cooking/Billy Joe Becoat
>October 25, 1969:  Greek Theatre (afternoon) All performers.

Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen had been “discovered” by Barry Olivier, playing for free outside of Cody’s Books. Exactly when Olivier discovered them isn’t precise, but he booked them for Berkeley’s Folk Festival in the Fall. The Folk Festival—or more accurately—the rock concert at the Folk Festival—was where Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen first got widely heard in Berkeley. There were numerous events throughout the campus on that weekend, and I have only listed the ones where the band was scheduled to play.

Bassist Buffalo Bruce Barlow, previously in Magic Sam’s blues band, joined the Airmen for this show, replacing Gene Tortora.  Barlow stayed in the band for a decade. Barlow apparently had met the group at the New Orleans House.

October 24-26, 1969: Winterland, San Francisco Jefferson Airplane/Grateful Dead/Sons Of Champlin/Doug Kershaw
According to a reliable eyewitness, Commander Cody and the Airmen backed Doug Kershaw. Kershaw was from Louisiana but was based in Nashville, and he played a sort of Cajun/Country hybrid style of music. Kershaw had been a popular Country artist throughout the early 60s, and his biggest hits were “Louisiana Man” and “Diggy Diggy Lo.” During this period, Warner Brothers (Kershaw’s new record company) was trying to break Kershaw out to rock audiences, but rather than have a regular band he worked with local combos, a common practice in Country music. Presumably, the Bill Graham Presents staff discovered Cody and The Airmen at their October 7 Fillmore West audition, and signed them up to back Kershaw. The band probably knew many of Kershaw’s hits already—certainly they knew (and later even released) “Diggy Diggy Lo.”

This weekend’s bill was quite famous, as not only did the Airplane and the Dead play together at Winterland, but Crosby, Stills and Nash appeared during the weekend as well. Kershaw probably played a single early set on each night (Friday through Saturday). This would have given the Cody band a chance to rush back and forth from Berkeley on Friday (Oct 24), when they appeared at both afternoon and evening events at the Folk Festival.

Update: A KSAN "Fillmore West Retrospective" broadcast from 1972 has surfaced (in my house), and it includes three songs from Doug Kershaw at Fillmore West on Oct 24 or 25. Since Kershaw was backed by members of the Lost Planet Airmen, it is the earliest snapshot of the band (the songs are "Louisiana Man," "Battle Of New Orleans" and "Orange Blossom Special").

October 31, 1969: Mandrake’s, Berkeley: Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen /Joy Of Cooking/Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band
A Mandrake's employee recalls Commander Cody's performance at this Halloween show. A theater troupe (The Magic Theater) performed their regular Friday night show, starting at 7:00pm, and then the club closed and reopened (with a new admission) for music. The Lost Planet Airmen's performance was filmed by local station KQED-tv, and parts of it may have been broadcast later as part of a news or documentary show. Its extremely unlikely that any footage survives, but its at least remotely possible.

Mandrake's was one of the first places where Commander Cody and The Lost Planet Airmen had a following, probably due to the many Michiganders in Berkeley. The same employee recalled some amusing scenes from early Cody performances at Mandrake's
The people who came to see Commander Cody would throw their beer glasses against the wall at the beginning of a favorite tune, like faux rednecks, resulting in much breakage, and were sometimes encouraged by the band onstage to do this. Don got miffed after awhile and added the cost of new barware to the band's tab at the end of the night
November 1, 1969: The New Old Fillmore, San Francisco: Flamin Groovies/Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen/Joy of Cooking/Canterbury Fair/Gold
The poster for this event suggests that Commander Cody played both Friday (October 31) and Saturday (November 1), but based on what we know about Mandrake's, I am assuming that Cody (and Joy Of Cooking) played Friday at Mandrake's and Saturday at Fillmore.

November 2, 1969:  New Orleans House, Berkeley: Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen/Congress of Wonders/The Fourth Way/Paul Arnoldi/Mendelbaum

November 13, 1969: Inn Of The Beginning, Cotati: Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen
Cotati was a hippie enclave about an hour North of San Francisco, near Sonoma State College. San Francisco and East Bay bands often played The Inn Of The Beginning. This booking was on a Thursday night. It seems to represent Cody and The Airmen’s first show outside of San Francisco or Berkeley.

November ?, 1969: Canterbury House, Ann Arbor, MI: Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen
Cody and the Airmen returned to Ann Arbor for what appears to be three dates. Amazingly, fairly decent sounding board tapes of two of these shows survive in their entirety. Although they represent the only early snapshot of Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, circa 1969, its quite revealing nonetheless. The band’s trademark honky tonk swing sound and comical swagger is already in place. Some of the original material recorded on their 1971 debut album is also present (like “Lost In The Ozone” or “Down To Seeds and Stems Again Blues”), so even as early as 1969, Cody and The Airmen were a fully formed entity.

Oddly enough, John Tichy is not present on the two surviving tapes. Why he did not come with the group when they returned to Ann Arbor remains a mystery. Whether he was temporarily not a member of the band or simply unavailable for some reason remains completely unclear. An article in the December 15, 1969 San Francisco Examiner suggests the group is a six-piece, without John Tichy, and with Andy Stein "joining the group soon," so perhaps Tichy was not part of the band for some period.

Alice Stuart plays bass on the two recordings, and sings a couple of songs herself each night. Supposedly Bruce Barlow had already joined by this time, but perhaps he had obligations that did not allow him to come to Michigan. Stuart’s presence suggests that she was quite familiar with the band’s repertoire, only adding to the mystery of the bass player prior to Barlow’s joining the group.

November ?, 1969: [venue], U. of Michigan?, Ann Arbor, MI: Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen
This tape is often called the “Hill Auditorium” tape, because as the show begins, a band member says “Welcome to the Hill Auditorium,” and some people in the small audience laugh and clap. Hill Auditorium was the largest and most prestigious venue on the University of Michigan campus, with a capacity of a few thousand. Cody and the Airmen were returning from the Coast, and clearly they were joking about playing the biggest venue in town, but it was a self-evident joke that they were not playing there.

On both tapes, band members allude to “three nights in Michigan,” so I take it to mean that there was a third show somewhere.

November 22-23, 1969: Mandrake’s, Berkeley: Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen/Magic Theatre (22nd)

November 28&30, 1969:  Family Dog at The Great Highway, San Francisco:  Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks/Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen/Vern and Ray/Dr. Humbead’s New Tranquility String Band
Cody and The Airmen played Friday and Sunday night at the Family Dog on The Great Highway, but they were repelaced on Saturday night by Seattle’s Floating Bridge.

December 3, 1969: Fillmore West, San Francisco: Creedence Clearwater Revival/Billy Joe Becoat/Gary Wagner Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen /Flamin Groovies KPFA Benefit
This Wednesday night show was a benefit for KPFA-fm radio in Berkeley, so the acts had a distinctly Berkeley flavor. El Cerrito’s finest, Creedence Clearwater Revival headlined the show. Billy Jo Becoat and Gary Wagner were both on Berkeley’s Fantasy Records, as were Creedence, and Cody and the Airmen added to the Berkeley flavor.

Earlier listings had different opening acts that did not include Cody, but like many benefits the bill changed before the show actually happened.

December 5-6, 1969: The Lion’s Share, San Anselmo: Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen/Jeffrey Cain/Lambert and Nuttycombe
The Lion’s Share was a tiny musician’s hangout in Marin, but headlining a weekend there was yet another sign that Cody and the Airmen were slowly expanding their horizons.

December 7, 1969: Freight and Salvage, Berkeley: Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen

December 17, 1969: Union Ballroom, San Jose State College, San Jose: Lee Michaels/Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen
San Jose State College represented a good out of town booking for San Francisco and Berkeley bands. The San Jose area still had a strong agricultural component and a big country scene, so while the San Jose State crowd was probably a bunch of hippie students, the South Bay was still a fruitful area for expansion for Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, so the band’s first six months in the Bay Area ended on an optimistic note.

I have to think the band had some sort of New Year’s booking, but I have been so far unable to find it. I am certain that there are numerous performance dates from 1969 that I have been unable to uncover, so this remains a work in progress.

1970 and Beyond
Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen were well ahead of their time, and moving to Berkeley allowed them to survive and thrive when they would have been too country for most hippies and too long haired for most country music fans. Country rock was starting to thrive in late 1969, but most proponents emphasized melody, songwriting and harmonies (like The Flying Burrito Brothers or The New Riders of The Purple Sage) rather than the raucous dance music of The Airmen. Nonetheless, the band was signed by ABC Paramount and released their classic first album Lost In The Ozone in 1971. Their hit “Hot Rod Lincoln” (a remake of a 1960 Johnny Bond country hit) went as high as #9 in 1972, and was ubiquitous on Bay Area AM radio.

Cody and the Airmen continued to tour successfully until about 1976, but despite some fine albums and many great shows, they never managed to cross over to lasting financial success. A 1975 incarnation of Commander Cody And His Lost Planet Airmen was analyzed in detail in Geoffrey Stokes’s 1976 book Starmaking Machinery. Just about all the members of the 1969 incarnation have continued on in successful music careers (although drummer Lance Dickerson sadly passed away in 2004), and their have been occasional partial or full reunions over the years—I saw a fine one in Berkeley’s Provo Park on April 2, 1978.

Only guitarist John Tichy dropped out of professional music. He left the band in 1974, and—presumably with few other professional options-- ended up becoming Professor of the Mechanical, Aerospace and Nuclear Engineering Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, with a long list of distinguished publications (one of his current research interests is “to develop continuum rheological models for lubricant and granular flows from molecular simulations and apply them to realistic engineering surface configurations”).

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Freight and Salvage 1968-69 Performers Update: George Inskeep

We have previously published an extensive list of performers at Berkeley's Freight and Salvage during 1968 and 1969, covering the first 18 months of the club's existence, as part of our ongoing Berkeley 60s Music project. When the Freight and Salvage opened, it was housed in a building at 1827 San Pablo Avenue (now Berkeley Auto Body). The Freight since has moved, first to 1111 Addison (the "Middle Freight") and now to a brand new venue.

Despite our best efforts, we were not able to identify every performer, and we published a list of performers unknown to us. Many correspondents wrote in--some of them the "unknown" performers themselves--and I published the information in previous posts. Due to the magic of the Internet, I have some more information about an hitherto unknown performer, plus some other remarkable details about music at the Freight during this period, and I will share it here. Our Freight and Salvage list had the following notation for June 1, 1969:

June 1, 1969 Freight and Salvage, Berkeley: Bluegrass Music with Sandy Rothman, Butch Waller, Hank Bradley, Mayne Smith, George Inskeep
The June, 1969 Freight and Salvage lists these five musicians but does not name them as a group. Most likely, they were simply performing songs they all knew and were not a group, as such. George Inskeep is unfamiliar to me, but the other musicians appear all over this chronology. 
It's always better to be lucky than good. Another correspondent had suggested that George Inskeep was a pilot who played bass an occasion, but his musical history was unraveled when Mr. Inskeep sent me a very nice email. He not only explained his own musical history, but had some interesting insights and details about music at the Freight and Salvage during this period and beyond. Thus (with his permission) I am publishing most of his email (save for salutations and some personal notes).

George Inskeep, bass
I spent a good deal of time at the Freight during that period both as an observer and performer, and will try to provide a few corrections and fill in a few blanks.

I am mentioned for the first and only time on June 1, 1969 as the person the author had never heard of.  I (George Inskeep) had learned banjo from Sandy Rothman a couple of years earlier, and since there was no shortage of banjoists in those days gravitated to the string bass.  Sandy was kind enough to give me a gig with this particular pick-up group, and I went on to perform with a number of the groups mentioned.  I knew most of the musicians fairly well.  I was the odd man out in that company as I had recently gotten out of the Navy and was flying for the airlines, so was pretty much the only one there with short hair and who didn’t do drugs of some sort.  Didn’t seem to really matter to most people.

I’ll try to go down the schedule chronologically and throw in some comments as they occur to me.

The first mention of High Country was in November of ’68 as “two man bluegrass.”  The second man in the group was Myles Sonka (correct spelling), a red headed guitar player with a nice voice who sang Hank Williams songs a lot.  I played with both Myles and High Country, although not at the same time.  I joined High Country shortly after the June gig with Sandy and Mayne.  At that time the group consisted of Butch, Rich Wilbun (correct spelling, although everyone wants to spell it Wilbur), myself, Pete Wernick on banjo (on summer vacation from Columbia U), and Andy Stein on fiddle.  Andy, along with Billy C Farlow, came out from the University of Michigan to join Commander Cody and he played with us until the fall when Cody started playing seriously.  (Andy has been a regular for years now with Garrison Keillor on Prairie Home Companion.)  We participated in the Old Time Fiddler’s Convention mentioned on June 21 of that year.  We won a prize, but I don’t recall any rutabagas being involved.

In July Vern Williams and Ray Park returned to California from Nashville.  They needed a banjo and bass, and Pete Wernick and I got recruited.  We played together until the fall, at which time Pete had to return to Columbia to school.  (Pete, of course, later formed Hot Rize with Tim O’Brian).  After that our banjoist was Rick Shubb for most of the gigs, although for several months we had John Hedgecock or Bill Amatneek.

I am admittedly prejudiced, but many professional bluegrass musicians share my opinion that they were the best bluegrass performers of their time in California, and one of the best in the country.  We played to sold-out houses at the Freight every month, the Fillmore, the Family Dog, the Great American Music Hall, the Berkeley Folk Festival in 1969, and several venues in southern California including the Ash Grove, where we had a couple of dates on our own and once opening for the Byrds.  We, along with Commander Cody, opened for Merle Haggard at the Oakland Coliseum in December 1969.   Vern and Ray  were the inspiration for many players who came along later, and were definitely one of the all-time great bluegrass duets.  Vern played mandolin and sang tenor with a voice that, as Pat Enright was heard to remark, could “cut hard cheese at 10 paces.”  Ray sang lead, played a really solid rhythm guitar and was the California state champion fiddler that year.

I played with them until moving out of state in 1972, at which point Rick’s wife Markie Shubb took over at bass.  They continued as a group for about a year after that, at which point Vern left to form his own band with his son Delbert.  Vern made several records with the band, including three with Rose Maddox.  Ray moved to LA to do studio work and cut a couple of albums also, one with Byron Berline.  There were several reunions over the years, including one in 1989 in Grass Valley that I was able to play with them and Herb Pedersen.  Sorry to digress, but those were some of my fondest memories.  A lot of other players sat in with us from time to time, including Clarence Van Hook, Doug Kershaw, Richard Greene and others.

Getting back to the Freight schedule, the correct spelling of the Scottish balladeer is Alan MacLeod.  Alan is to this day a good friend, in fact I’m playing a gig with him in Sonoma this coming weekend at Murphy’s Pub along with Hugh Shacklett, who with John Brandeburg was also a fixture at the Freight in the ‘70s as the Perfect Crime.  Alan is a terrific guy, and hasn’t lost a beat.

I was also quite good friends with Campbell Coe.  We spent a lot of time together.  He was a genuine character.  He played electric guitar in the Charlie Christian style, although I never saw him perform on stage.  He, Sandy Rothman and I would jam at my house from time to time.  He had this little hole-in-the-wall shop near the University.  He could take an instrument apart faster than anyone I ever saw.  He’d have the whole thing in pieces in under an hour.  I cannot recall, though, ever having seen one that he’d put back together.  He continually had a camera around his neck and was constantly taking photos of everything everywhere, but, again, I never saw a developed picture.  It was the common consensus that he never put film in it.

Other trivia – When Ingrid and Bob Fowler (Styx River Ferry) separated, and later divorced, Ingrid went back to her maiden name of Herman.  She was, indeed, Woody Herman’s daughter, and just before he died they appeared together on KPFA, the local public radio station.  She moved to the Seattle area quite a while ago, as did Hank Bradley.
Thanks very much to George Inskeep for sharing his memories and insights.
Remaining "Unknown" Performers from The Freight and Salvage 1968-69
Below is a list of performers from the first 18 months of the Freight who are not known to us. They are known to someone, however, and hopefully we will find out more. Anyone with further information about who these performers might have been, where they where from, and anything about their music is urged to Comment or contact me.

Please note: this entire post makes little sense unless you have looked at the original Performances list. Listed below are the performers, as spelled in the Calendar or Berkeley Barb, their first scheduled performance date, and any identifying information about their style of music.

Dementia 8.2.68: improvisational theatre troupe
Don Copeland  8.5.68
John Dillon 8.11.68
The Maelstrom 8.11.68
Bryson Collins  8.12.68: “Crayon Encounter”
Kazz 8.18.68
Neo Passe String Band 8.26.68
Mike Scott 8.27.68
Fowler, Krech Paul X 9.10.68: Poets Theater Workshop
Bob Georgio 9.10.68
Quarter Dozen String Band 9.21.68
Ken Carter 10.18.68
Gil Turner 11.24.68
New York Slew 12.6.68
Jim Lynch 12.26.68: Country and Western
Tim Ryan 2.3.69
Joe Friedman and Barry Aiken 2.5.69: Classical Blues
Julie Meredith 2.13.69
Dallas Williams 2.14.69
Tom Maddox 3.17.69
Genny Haley 3.20.69
Kevin Barry 4.7.69
Rusty Elliot: 5.19.69
Bob Parsons 6.4.69
Gary Solaman 7.16.69
Steve Young 10.17.69
Tim Williams 10.22.69
Solari and Carr 11.13.69: “hip vaudeville”
Renaissance Catch Singers 12.10.69

Monday, 6 September 2010


Not for the first time Country Joe and The Fish needed some funds to keep themselves in business. The Pretentious Folk Front had been created in the fall of 1965 by ED Denson and others for the sole purpose of getting access to a University venue, using bassist Richard Saunders (then a student) as a front man.

It is interesting to see that two weeks work had recently been lost due to "alcoholic club owners". The week of April 18 to 23 had seen a cancelled series of shows at the Rock Garden with planned support from Larry Younger and The Epics. No other shows had been known to have been scheduled between the 24th and the 28th when Country Joe and The Fish and The Fugs played a free show in Golden Gate Park's Panhandle (with $180 raised by passing the hat).

HAPPINESS IS A PORPOISE MOUTH. The First Annual Hippy Fair and Dance Festival will be held 8 pm Saturday evening in Hearst Gym on the Cal. Campus, the sponsoring Pretentious Folk Front announces.

No problems are anticipated from university authorities despite the controversial, nature of several of the featured attractions. The event will provide the campus community a chance to see what the hip artists are currently up to.

The Festival is a benefit for Country Joe and the Fish who have lost two weeks work because alcoholic club owners have cancelled their engagements. Fear of risking the Fish's performances was the reason given.

Selections will be screened from the group's in-progress film "How I Stopped the War", a documentary of their triumphant progress from Market Street to Pax Pisces during the recent Peace Demonstrations. Country Joe will perform.

The S.F. Mime Troupe, itself involved in socially provocative events lately, will bring their bodies east of the Bay for dancing and skits of social interest. Individual improvisers of choreography will also perform, as will the Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood Agit-Prop Truck Theatre.

Early in the evening Berkeley's own Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band will do some takes by arrangement with the Jabberwock. Several films will be shown, a former Fug will construct a six-foot godseye on stage, and the first campus showing of the paintings of the controversial Russian artist Gershon Ikovsky Gershovitz will be opened.

All hip craftsmen, artists, and artisans are invited to display their work, bringing blankets or whatever showcase they feel suitable. If you are one of the above and wish to participate contact the Front Festival Committee at their temporary office phone 548-1513. Donations at the door, $2.

Berkeley Barb Volume 4, No 17 - Issue 89 (April 28, 1967 to May 4, 1967)

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Provo Park, Berkeley Concerts 1967-69

(this is a substantial update of an earlier post about Provo Park concerts in the late 1960s)

Provo Park in Berkeley, originally named Constitution Park, lies in the center of town, near City Hall and Berkeley High School. It is bounded by Allston Way, Martin Luther King Junior Way (called Grove Street in the 1960s) and Center Street. In the mid-1960s, Berkeleyites started calling Constitution Park "Provo Park" in support of the Dutch Provos (I had thought it was the IRA, but I was mistaken), and the name stuck. This is typical Berkeley politics, and almost no one living there later recalled why the park was called Provo Park.

When free concerts in the Golden Gate Park Panhandle became commonplace, many Berkeley rock bands looked to extend the idea to Provo Park. It was fun, it was cool and anyway it was good publicity for the bands. The first Panhandle show was October 6, 1966, the day LSD was declared illegal, and when The Grateful Dead, Big Brother, Wildlower and Orkustra played an unauthorized event there. By Spring 1967 the idea had spread to Berkeley, and there were apparently almost weekly shows, mostly during weekend afternoons. While many of the performers were simply aspiring local folk musicians or Berkeley High School rock bands, many larger events took place there too.

Provo Park remains fairly similar to how it looked in the day, although the buildings around have changed considerably. I took the top photos on August 11, 2009. Its vantage point is from near Center Street (Stage Right), looking across towards Allston. The Berkeley Community Theatre looms in the background, on the grounds of the High School.
The 60s musical history of Provo Park is considerably less celebrated than that of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, but in fact Provo played a key role in expanding the Berkeley music scene, because local fans had a chance to see groups for free, so a good group didn't have to be well known to become popular in the San Pablo Avenue clubs. This sort of promotion is a microcosm of modern Internet style marketing, but without the Internet, just one of the many ways in which Berkeley was ahead of its time.
It would be impossible to compile a complete list of Provo Park shows in the 1960s, as many of the performances were casual. Nonetheless, I am making an effort here to make a list of scheduled performances at Provo Park, that were publicized in the newspaper or with local flyers, an effort that has been considerably improved by Ross. Anyone with additional memories, additions, insights or corrections is encouraged to Comment.

January 15, 1967 Loading Zone, Ulysses S. Crockett, Drongos
Bands like the Loading Zone were playing for free in Sproul Plaza at anti-war protests, so the idea was extended to the stage at Constitution Park. While this event wasn't exactly sanctioned, it was mentioned in Ralph Gleason's San Francisco Chronicle column of January 13, 1967 (above). Note that Gleason still calls it "Berkeley City Park."

The Oakland-based Loading Zone were one of Berkeley's popular hippie bands, one of the first groups to mix psychedelic rock with R&B. They were well connected to the Underground, having played many seminal events like the Trips Festival. This was a portentous weekend in the Bay Area, as among many other events the Human Be-In had taken place in Golden Gate Park the day before.

Ulysses Crockett and The Afro-Blue Persuasion were a funky modern jazz group who were regular performers in the East Bay and San Francisco. Law student Crockett played vibes and flute, and the bassist at this time was probably Phil Marsh of The Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band. The Drongos were a Berkeley High School band.

January 29, 1967  Loading Zone, New Delhi River Band
The New Delhi River Band were Palo Alto’s leading psychedelic blues band, and featured David Nelson and Dave Torbert, both future members of The New Riders Of The Purple Sage. NDRB were popular in the South Bay, due mainly to having been the house band at The Barn in Scotts Valley, near Santa Cruz. They were looking to expand their horizons, and a free concert in Berkeley was the perfect opportunity to introduce themselves to a different audience.

March 5, 1967  Loading Zone, New Delhi River Band, Motor
The group Motor, while familiar from many handbills, is unknown to me.

March 11, 1967 Mineral Springs, Tilden Park, Berkeley
The Reversal of Planet Earthquake Picnic
After the Human Be-In in San Francisco (Jan 14), similar events were held all over the West Coast and the rest of the country. Ralph Gleason described the peculiar Berkeley landscape in his Friday column (March 10):
Tomorrow, the Berkeley Provos, who are modeled on the Dutch Provos and are similar to the Haight Ashbury Diggers, The Los Angeles Diggers and a new group in Cleveland called the Cleveland Prunes, are having a Berkeley Be-In.
The affair will begin at noon in Tilden Park at the Mineral Springs area. The Provos are organizing a car pool for those without wheels which will leave Constitution Park at 11am. There will be free food and lots of music.
Among the groups which will appear at the Berkeley event--which is being officially called the Reversal Of The Earthquake Picnic--are:
The Loading Zone, The New Delhi River Band, The Junior Teachers Band, Soul Purpose, Motor and Blue Cheer.
Given the basic political orientation of Berkeley, as opposed to the basic non-political orientation of the Haight/Ashbury, this affair ought to be different and even more interesting. It might even achieve the Yellow Submarine (remember, Mellow Yellow!) community envisioned by some who hope to see the two merge.
As it happened, the event was rained out, and re-scheduled for the following Sunday at Constitution (Provo) Park.

March 19, 1967  Loading Zone, New Delhi River Band, Motor, Blue Cheer, Soul Purpose, Haymarket Riot, Ulysses S. Crockett and The Afro-Blues Persuasion
The Reversal of Planet Earthquake Picnic
This event had been planned for the Mineral Springs area of Tilden Park the previous Saturday (March 11), but the event was rained out. The event was held eight days later, with a slightly different set of groups scheduled.

Blue Cheer had formed only recently, and had rarely ventured beyond The Matrix at this point.

April 9, 1967 Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley Loading Zone/others
An unscheduled "Happening" on Telegraph Avenue drew several thousand participants. Telegraph Avenue led straight into the Berkeley Campus, and the street was blocked off, which did not make the City comfortable.

April 30, 1967  Loading Zone, New Delhi River Band, Motor, Notes From The Underground
As a result of the friendly but unscheduled “happening” on Telegraph Avenue (a few blocks from the Park) on 9 April, the city agreed with Loading Zone manager Ron Barnett (quoted in an April 21 Tribune article) that the band just wanted a place to play. As a result, the city agreed to regular concerts in Provo Park, thus sanctioning what was already occurring. The first show was scheduled for Sunday April 23.
However, there was extensive rain on Sunday the 23rd, and the show was rescheduled for the next Sunday (Apr 30).

May 7, 1967    Loading Zone, SF Mime Troupe

May 28, 1967  Loading Zone, Steve Miller Blues Band, Mad River, Purple Earthquake

May 30, 1967 New Delhi River Band, Motor, Purple Earthquake 
Purple Earthquake were a Berkeley High School band, regular performers in Provo Park, who would later evolve into the band Earthquake, who had a number of albums on A&M and Berserkely in the 1970s (h/t Ross for all the Provo scans).

This was a Tuesday event, probably related to Memorial Day.

June 25, 1967   Loading Zone, Steve Miller Blues Band, Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band, Motor
Although the Steve Miller Blues Band were some ways away from their first album, they were a popular group locally. Later in the week they would appear second on the bill to Chuck Berry at the Fillmore, and they backed him on stage (part of it was released on the 1967 Chuck Berry album Live At The Fillmore on Mercury).

[update] a correspondent writes
at one of the Provo Park concerts I attended, the Steve Miller Blues Band was supposed to play, but they didn't show. I'm guessing that it was June 25, 1967, because I would have gone to see Dynamite Annie perform, and it stayed light well into the evening. After the other bands had finished playing, everyone (hundreds were there) went home. The only people left were myself and three other guys playing Frisbee. After a while, a van pulled up and Steve and his band emerged and began to unload their equipment. We went over and told them that since there were only four of us, they didn't need to perform. Steve responded, "We're going to play." And play they did. Eventually, passers-by heard the music and a decent crowd developed, but for 15 minutes or so, the four of us had a free personal concert from Steve Miller. Only in Berkeley in the 60's could stuff like this happen.
July 9, 1967 Country Joe and The Fish, Notes From The Underground, Second Coming, Haymarket Riot
Country Joe and The Fish were established rock stars by this time, regular Fillmore and Avalon headliners with a popular debut album (Electric Music For The Mind And Body). Nonetheless, they played Provo Park for free, too, just as the Dead played in Golden Gate Park as a statement of purpose.

September 17, 1967  Mad River, Notes From The Underground, Savage Resurrection, Hades Blues Works
Savage Resurrection were from Richmond.

September 24, 1967 Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band, New Delhi River Band, Strawberry Window
Strawberry Window were from San Leandro.

September 24, 1967 Initial Shock
Initial Shock was newly arrived from Montana. Guitarist Bill ‘Mojo’ Collins had been assigned to an Air Force base there, and had stayed to play lucrative bar gigs for a while. The band eventually left Montana for warmer weather and a chance to make it bigger.

October 8, 1967 Second Coming, Zuckerman Clavichord, Liquid Blues Band
The photo was taken on August 11, 2009, about half way back on the lawn from the Martin Luther King Jr Way side (Grove Street), looking at the whole stage

April 14, 1968 Country Joe and The Fish, Mad River, Loading Zone, SF Mime Troupe
This would have been a fairly substantial event. Country Joe and The Fish were huge, relatively speaking, and Mad River, Loading Zone and the Mime Troupe all had local followings as well.

April 28, 1968 Charlie Musselwhite, Frumious Bandersnatch, Crome Syrcus
Charlie Musselwhite was a blues harmonica player who had relocated from Chicago to San Francisco in 1967. Frumious Bandersnatch were from Lafayette. Crome Syrcus were from Seattle, although they spent a fair amount of time in the Bay Area

May 5, 1968 Steve Miller Band, Ace Of Cups, Indian Headband
Steve Miller had relocated from Chicago in late 1966. After some scuffling, he became a hit at the Avalon and Fillmore and signed with Capitol. He hadn't forgotten his Berkeley cred, however, and still played this free show. Ace Of Cups were a popular all-women band based in Marin. Indian Headband was an interesting improvisational band that featured guitarist Hal Wagenet, later in Its A Beautiful Day. 

May 12, 1968 Phoenix, Martha’s Laundry, Creative Arts Guild Improvisational Ensemble
Phoenix and Martha's Laundry were both San Francisco based groups. The fact that they were playing for free in Berkeley meant that bands recognized the adage that playing for free was a good way to get known.

May 19, 1968 Mad River, The Circus, Crystal Syphon
Crystal Syphon were from Merced. The Circus may have been The Flying Circus, from Mill Valley.

June 8, 1968 35th Annual Berkeley Old-Time Fiddlers Convention
The Finger of Scorn, The Golden Toad, Jose’s Appliances, Dr. Humbead’s New Tranquility String Band and Medicine Show, Styx River Ferry, Stayton Family, Diesel Ducks, others, Fiddle Contest, Banjo Contest 
Back when Berkeley was actually subversive, the idea was fairly inspired. In the liner notes to the Berkeley Farms lp on Folkways, Rita Weill explains the genesis of the event, which was:
Conceived in the back of a Volkswagen bus, on the way to a party in Marin County, by a group of people who wanted to retain the good music and interplay they’d witnessed at Southern fiddle-banjo contests, without the competition and corruption extant there.
In true deconstructionist Berkeley style, bribes and drunkenness were encouraged, and performers were judged on unfair criteria that were never explained. Since first prize was 3 pounds of rutabagas (second prize was 6 pounds of rutabagas), no one cared. Second prize was awarded to someone who wasn’t there, so the rutabagas were thrown into the crowd. A hilarious eyewitness description is provided by banjoist Winnie Winston, newly arrived from the East Coast, startled to see Berkeley hippies smoking joints while the policemen watched placidly.
The local enthusiasm for this event was instrumental--so to speak--in the foundation of The Freight And Salvage, Berkeley's long-running club for traditional folk music (and other cool stuff).

June 9, 1968 Charlie Musselwhite, Linn County, Lazarus
Linn County were a blues band who had relocated from Cedar Rapids, IA. Lazarus was a Berkeley band.

July 10, 1968 Big Brother and The Holding Company, Phoenix, Lazarus
This was a Benefit for Balloon, who provided free food in Provo Park (similar to The Diggers). How a free concert functioned as a Benefit isn't quite clear--I assume they asked for donations.

Big Brother and The Holding Company were already a popular Bay Area headliner, but when Cheap Thrills was released shortly after this, they promptly went global, and free concerts in Berkeley would have overwhelmed the park.

July 21, 1968 Sky Blue, Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band, Crome Syrcus
Crome Syrcus were from Seattle, and had an album. The fact that they played for free meant that at least the hipper parts of the industry recognized that Provo Park was a valuable place to get known.

July 28, 1968 Silver Apples

August 10, 1968 All Men Joy, Mad River, Immaculate Contraption 
"GI Teach-In"
All Men Joy was a San Francisco band (Duane and Gregg Allman had been in a different group in Los Angeles, called The Hour Glasss).

October 6, 1968 Youngbloods, Santana, Sons of Champlin, Frumious Bandersnatch
This too must have been a major event. The Youngbloods had moved to the Bay Area the previous year, and they were a headline act by this time. Santana was still a year away from their debut album, but they were a popular local band, as were The Sons of Champlin and Lafayette's Frumious Bandersnatch.

November 4, 1968 Notes From The Underground, Mad River, Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band, Sky Blue, Country Weather
Rain is almost never a threat in the Bay Area, and the temperatures are always mild, so outdoor concerts in November were a perfectly reasonable proposition.

March 2, 1969 LeConte School, Berkeley Loading Zone, Lazarus, Purple Earthquake, Dementia
An article in the Berkeley Barb (Feb 28 1969) says that this show was an effort to move the “Provo Park” scene indoors, and suggests that this was the first of five shows. However, I've never been able to identify any of the other events, if there were any.

March 23, 1969 MC5

April 6, 1969 Sons of Champlin, Lamb, Frumious Bandersnatch, Ace of Cups, All Spice Rhythm Band
This may have been the show when Berkeley guitarist Charlie Cockey (ex Melvyn Q Watchpocket) sat in as an Ace because one member of Ace Of Cups was late.

April 13, 1969 Crabs, Lazarus, Mungo's Forest

April 20, 1969 Joy of Cooking/Clover/Flying Circus/Metropolitan Sound Company
Joy Of Cooking were a newly-formed Berkeley band, holding down a popular weeknight residency at Mandrake's (at 10th and University near San Pablo Ave). Clover and Flying Circus were popular Marin bands, and Metropolitan Sound Company was a Hendrix-style "soul rock" band from Oakland.

May 4, 1969 Loading Zone, All Spice Rhythm Band, This Ole World, Gentle Dance

June 21, 1969 17th Annual Old Time Fiddler's Convention
The 17th Annual Old Time Fiddlers Convention, held that day in Provo Park downtown (several blocks away from the Freight) was actually Berkeley’s second. The first, held the previous year, was the 35th Annual Old Time Fiddler’s Convention (see June 6, 1968 above).

The second event was named the 17th Annual contest, and similar lunacy ensued, with a sort of after-party that night at the Freight And Salvage. Note that the proceedings were broadcast live on KPFA--I wonder if anyone thought to tape it?

The contest lasted one more year, and then became too formal and successful, thus defeating its purpose. However, after a brief 34-year hiatus the Festival and Contest were reactivated in 2004 as a multi day event.

September 7, 1969 Lazarus, Syriatuscan, Hades Bluesworks, Eddie's Blues Group, Backwater Rising
"Bahai Fiath Gathering"

September 21, 1969 Maximum Speed Limit, Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band, The Crabs
This event was organized by Judy Jackson as a showcase for the local group Maximum Speed Limit.

September 28, 1969 The Tunnel, Sunny Street Blues Band, Purple Earthquake, Brother Brown's Band, Syndicate
"Celebration Of The Solstice"

October 12, 1969 Septentrionalis, Purple Earthquake, Lazarus, Floating Bridge
Floating Bridge were from Seattle, and their twin-guitar act is fondly remembered by those lucky enough to see them. The group had just finished a week at Berkeley's New Orleans House

November 23, 1969 KiddAfrica, Lazarus, Scrapple

Berkeley continued to have free concerts at Provo Park, and to my knowledge continues to have them to this day, albeit on a somewhat smaller scale and much more occasionally. However, the taste for free concerts waned over the years, as the crowds got potentially bigger and the expectations higher. We do know of a few additional dates:
  • April 11 1970-Festival of Toads
  • April 18, 1970-Kentucky Suckers, Rhythm Aces, Artichoke Jones, Emily
  • May 19, 1970-Youngbloods (partially released on their album Rock Festival)
  • July 5, 1970-Osceola
  • August 8, 1971-Mike Finnegan, Pendergrass, Dry Creek, Your Own Backyard
  • April 2, 1972-Country Joe McDonald, Joy of Cooking, Commander Cody
  • July 30, 1972-Country Joe McDonald, Banana and The Bunch, Asleep At The Wheel
For Berkeley's 100th Anniversary in April 2, 1978, Country Joe McDonald headlined at Provo Park over reformed-for-the-day Joy Of Cooking and Commander Cody And His Lost Planet Airmen, and all the acts mentioned from the stage that it was good to be back in Provo Park. Provo Park is quieter now, and a significant free concert would cause a major parking problem, but it remains largely unchanged from its days as a concert venue. Its easy to stand on the field and stare at the modest stage, thinking about weekend afternoons long ago.