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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Great American String Band: June 12-14, 1974 (update)

**update 20140823 - definitely Lion's Share 6/12/74 and Keystone 6/13-14/74, per Elwood 1974. Thanks to Blair for providing the raw materials!**

So, awhile back I posted on the mid-June 1974 recordings of the Great American Music Band / Great American String Band. I have to leave the name issue alone for now, but for the purposes of this post let me refer to it as the Great American String Band (GASB). My purpose here is to come back to the conclusions I drew in that post, on the basis of new information reflected in Robert Castelli's audience recordings of some of these shows.

Let me start by reiterating what I had previously concluded:
In sum, regarding the mid-June 1974 GASB/GAMB gigs:

  1. despite what appears to be lots of confused and conflicting information on the tapes, I think we have evidence for three separate shows’ worth of music;
  2. despite what’s on the tape labels, I think there were shows at the Lion’s Share on 6/12 and at Keystone Berkeley on 6/13-14.
As I now understand it, I was half-right.

#1 was, effectively, wrong. Until the last month or so, circulating tapes came from only two shows. Serendipitously, Robert Castelli's recordings have recently come into the light thanks to him, Bob Menke and the crew at Mouth of the Beast. Thank you Robert, Bob and MOTB crew for bringing these forward! With these new recordings, there are indeed three distinct nights/pieces in circulation.

This gets me to point #2, which I believe to be correct. I am  99% now 100% sure there were GASB shows at the Keystone, Berkeley on Thursday June 13 and Friday, June 14, 1974. I am about 75%  100% sure there was a gig on June 12, 1974 and that it was at the Lion's Share.

This is what we now have in terms of recordings:
  1. Low-gen soundboard of Wednesday, 6/12/74, "Keystone, Berkeley" (shnid 7331). I now believe that this is a single two-set show (I had previously thought it might be separately billed early and late shows, or different dates entirely).
  2. "Louis Falanga master" audience tape from Jerry Moore's 1st gen reels of "6/12/74, Keystone, Berkeley" (shnid 83232), transferred and shared by Rob Berger. This is a different performance from the identically-dated sbd one just-above;
  3. Low-gen soundboard tape of Thursday, 6/13/74, Keystone, Berkeley (shnid 13768);
  4. Robert Castelli master audience tape of Thursday, 6/13/74, Keystone, Berkeley (1644-shnid 110663, 2496-shnid 110798)
  5. Robert Castelli master audience tape of Friday, June 14, 1974, Keystone, Berkeley, set I (shnid 110664);

First, most narrowly, the "Louis Falanga" tape of "6/12/74" is actually a tape of 6/13/74. The material is the same material going under that date in both sbd and, now, from Robert Castelli's master audience cassettes. Indeed, the Castelli is the same underlying recording as the "Falanga"; whether Louis was patched out of Castelli's setup, or vice versa, or whether one or the other is a copy of the other or the one, remains a mystery to me. Anyway, this stuff is 6/13/74. The other two tapes of this material, from separate sources but with the same dates, trump whatever was written on tape labels at some point in history.

Second, we now see that there are three distinct pieces: 6/12/74 (two sets) from the soundboard, 6/13/74 (two sets) from soundboard and the Castelli/Falanga audience tape(2), and set I of 6/14/74 from the Castelli audience tape.

Third, there shouldn't be much doubt about the Thursday-Friday, June 13-14 shows at Keystone. Here's the ad I posted earlier:

Castelli's tapes have pretty clear provenance and capture these shows, including the Good Old Boys sets. Not sure why he didn't get set II of the Friday night (6/14) show. Anyway, there shouldn't be any doubt about 6/13-14 at the Keystone, Berkeley. TJS should eventually be updated to reflect the 6/14/74 gig.

Fourth point, while I think the date is probably right, I have some questions about the venue on 6/12/74. The tapes say Keystone, and when I poked around these dates I didn't see any contradictory listings:

I didn't get anything listed at the Lion's Share from this timeframe, either:

I had said in my earlier posting that Richard Greene's datebooks showed him at the Lion's Share on 6/12/74, and this was my main reasoning for believing in this date. But now I can't find any notes on that and I am doubting myself. If I can reconfirm that detail, that would persuade me to list this material as from the Share. Barring that, and for now, all we have to go on, really, is the tape. Nothing contradicts it, but nothing else supports it. Update: Elwood 1974 confirms it was the Share on 6/12.

There are other bits and pieces relevant to all of this that would come from a more detailed reporting of the tapes, but let me follow up, first, by just posting some listening notes with scattered analysis. I'll try to round it all up afterword (no promises).

Eventually, I'll get to the name. I think I am just going to have to live with some non-linearity with that one, so I am pre-mourning the loss of the modern dream.


  1. The thing that interests me about the Keystone Berkeley ad is the opening act: The Good Ol' Boys. By 1975, that usually meant Frank Wakefield, David Nelson and friends playing bluegrass. Did they play as early as the weekend of June 13-14, 1974?

    Well, let's see. I don't know of an NRPS gig that weekend, and the weekend before (Sat Jun 8), NRPS opened for the Dead at Oakland Stadium. A reliable eyewitness--me--recalls Frank Wakefield coming on stage to play "Teardrops In My Eyes" with the Riders. So Wakefield and Nelson may have been playing some bluegrass to open the GASB shows.

    Hey, any banjo players in the house?

  2. GOB played. Robert Castelli taped their sets on 6/13-14. I don't know the personnel and haven't heard the tapes yet, but hope to pretty soon.

  3. Copied: from .txt file:

    Great American String Band
    Keystone; Berkeley, CA
    Notes (from The Jerry Site):
    Show with Buell Neidlinger on bass. Band is introduced by
    Richard Greene after My Plastic Banana. Although this has
    a similar setlist to 6/13/74, there were indeed two
    different shows.

  4. Right. Ryan is not asserting there that there were just two shows. He's asserting that the circulating sbd tapes identified as 6/12/74 and 6/13/74, while showing identical setlists, are indeed two separate performances. That's right, and there are more performances in this window, as well, which is what I am trying to establish.


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