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Saturday, September 18, 2010

GSCBF4: Greenbriar Boys (a.k.a. "Frank Wakefield"): Sunday, April 28, 1974, ca. 15:00

updated 9/18/2010

Part of a series of back-of-the-napkin thoughts about the Golden State Country Bluegrass Festival (GSCBF), held in San Rafael, CA from Friday, April 26th through Sunday, April 28, 1974.

Previous installments:

The last post discussed the Sunday afternoon schedule, doing a poor job of laying out an idea that I am about 99% sure about, which is that the "Debbie reels" run more or less continuously across that part of the festival, from a ca. 3:30 p.m. set by "Frank Wakefield" 3:00 p.m. set by the Greenbriar Boys all the way through to the OAITW set that closed the proceedings.

Here I will lay out my notes for the "Frank Wakefield" Greenbriar Boys set from the Debbie reels.

Let me first address the billing. This is not "Frank Wakefield", as the circulating recordings are labeled, but The Greenbriar Boys (with Frank Wakefield). So, contrary to what I might have said elsewhere and/or in earlier drafts, Wakefield didn't play unbilled. He was billed and played with his band at the time.

According to wikipedia's Greenbriar Boys entry, the players would have been the following at this time:

·       John Herald (guitar, vocals)
·       Bob Yellin (banjo)
·       Frank Wakefield (mandolin)
·       Jim Buchanan (fiddle)
·       ??? (bass)

There's a bass present, but that site doesn't say who it might have been. One of the players that is not Wakefield (update: John Herald, I think) does most of the talking. Feedback welcomed on these personnel issues.

By the way, the Greenbriar Boys were scheduled for 3 p.m., after Jim & Jesse and before Mac Wiseman. The recording makes it clear that the schedule went straight from GB to Jimmy Martin and the Sunny Mountain Boys. I can only speculate as to whether Mac Wiseman played on Sunday (he was scheduled for all three days). Perhaps his set was moved or canceled, I just don't know.

Recording, setlist and such follow. More information would be appreciated! I am sure that someone knowledgeable could identify the two songs that I couldn’t.

The Greenbriar Boys
Sunday, April 28, 1974 ca. 15:00

Source: "Frank Wakefield; Debbie reel 4/27/74, CD 1 of 4"
Provenance: unknown sbd recording (?maybe MSC > C?) > reel
Transfer: AKAI GX 636 playback > Apogee mini ME @ 24/96 > Apogee Mini DAC (monitoring/mastering) > lynx one soundcard > wavelab 5.0 > FLAC, by Matt Smith.

(16 tracks, 37:41)

GSCBF-1974-04-28-1500-Greenbriar-t01. talk (1) & tuning [1:16]
GSCBF-1974-04-28-1500-Greenbriar-t02. unknown Wakefield 19740428-1 [1:44]
GSCBF-1974-04-28-1500-Greenbriar-t03. talk (2), Jack Elliott [4:37]
GSCBF-1974-04-28-1500-Greenbriar-t04. song introduction [0:53]
GSCBF-1974-04-28-1500-Greenbriar-t05. Jesus Loves His Mandolin Picker #16 [3:24]
GSCBF-1974-04-28-1500-Greenbriar-t06. Chicken [2:47]
GSCBF-1974-04-28-1500-Greenbriar-t07. talk (3)
GSCBF-1974-04-28-1500-Greenbriar-t08. Sleepy-Eyed John [2:55]
GSCBF-1974-04-28-1500-Greenbriar-t09. song introduction [0:41]
GSCBF-1974-04-28-1500-Greenbriar-t10. Passenger Pigeons [3:25]
GSCBF-1974-04-28-1500-Greenbriar-t11. introduction of Jerry Garcia and Vassar Clements [1:10]
--w/ Jerry Garcia (banjo), Vassar Clements (fiddle), ??female backing vocalist, possibly Maria Muldaur or Donna???--
GSCBF-1974-04-28-1500-Greenbriar-t12. That's Alright, Mama [3:15] (4)
GSCBF-1974-04-28-1500-Greenbriar-t13. unknown Wakefield 19740428-2 (5), encore calls (6) [4:22]
GSCBF-1974-04-28-1500-Greenbriar-t14. Heartbreak Hotel [2:20] ->
GSCBF-1974-04-28-1500-Greenbriar-t15. Orange Blossom Special [3:56]
GSCBF-1974-04-28-1500-Greenbriar-t16: Acknowledgement of Vassar (7) [0:09]

! The second unknown tune and Heartbreak Hotel -> Orange Blossom Special also circulates from the WB reels and on the fileset circulated by Rob Berger from Jerry Moore's reels.
! GSCBF-1974-04-28-1500-Greenbriar-t01: (1) "We're gonna tease you for a few songs here before Jerry comes out"
! GSCBF-1974-04-28-1500-Greenbriar-t03: (2) pre-song talk that Elliott is backstage confirms that this is same day as Elliott set. Since that's connected to continuous tape and can be definitely dated, so can this.
! GSCBF-1974-04-28-1500-Greenbriar-t07: (3) "we want to really thank Judy Lammers for putting this festival on"
! GSCBF-1974-04-28-1500-Greenbriar-t12: (4) after song, from stage to sound guy: "We gotta hear Vassar"
! GSCBF-1974-04-28-1500-Greenbriar-t13: (5) may be "Jesus Loves His Mandolin Player #6", since speaker says "Number 6" just as the number starts. But that could be a mic/monitor check as well.
! GSCBF-1974-04-28-1500-Greenbriar-t13: (6) the continuous tape is great here, showing that "Heartbreak Hotel" -> "Orange Blossom Special" is the encore of the Wakefield set.
! GSCBF-1974-04-28-1500-Greenbriar-t16: (7) "how about Vassar Clements, the man this festival is dedicated to"

<--Jimmy Martin and the Sunny Mountain Boys follow-->


  1. The Greenbriar Boys were the first "Northern" bluegrass band to make a record, and as such were very influential to suburban bluegrass players like Garcia.

    Supposedly an early publicity photo of The Wildwood Boys was posed just like the cover of the Greenbriar Boys album. I don't know if the photo survived, however. In any case, it was probably quite a big deal for Garcia to come on stage with John Herald and The Greenbriar Boys.

  2. Nelson in Dead Relix ("DR") v3 n1 (1976), posted by Jerry Garcia's Brokendown Palaces:
    D.R.: When did the Good Ol’ Boys begin?
    Dave: It started at the Vasser Clements California Bluegrass Festival, put on by Judy Lammers, at the Marin County Fairgrounds. The real biggies that were there were Jim and Jesse McReynolds, the Virginia Boys, Frank Wakefield, Vasser, Doc Watson, Ralph Stanley, Jimmy Martin, Maria Muhdaur, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and Doug Dillard.

    So, the Good Old Boys were born out of the GSCBF. Nice!

  3. The GSCBF is turning out to be more and more of a watershed event.

  4. Sandy Rothman has told me he played with the Greenbriar Boys at this event.

  5. Thanks for sharing that: wonderful!

    Does Sandy know who might have been the guys who formed, that one day only, the "Wild Eyed Hippie Stompers"?


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