Please make yourself at home! Check some tags, do some reading, leave a comment.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

NRPS: June 2-3, 1970, Mandrake's, Berkeley, CA

So, the Mandrake's ad from the Berkeley Tribe v2 n21 (issue 47) (May 29 - June 5, 1970), p. 16, lists the following for Tuesday & Wednesday, June 2-3, 1970: "The Rubber Duck Mime Band and Jerry Garcia." It looks to me like there was some last-minute rough resetting of the listing. I am going to assume that this is the New Riders of the Purple Sage, probably warming up for the big Fillmore West gigs that would run June 4-7, 1970. That would be the first hometown appearance of the "An Evening with the Grateful Dead" format, and I am guessing they wanted everything to be Just Exactly Perfect (i.e., rehearsed/warmed up). Since COAU doesn't list this, I thought it should be added to our various lsits.


  1. Good find!

    But I really don't think it's NRPS, that's quite a jump. The rough typesetting is not that much of a clue (the following date also has it).

    Also, the COAU page DOES list the Rubber Duck Company at Mandrake's that month (although it doesn't give a specific date, since the entire month of June was omitted from that list).
    The COAU list also coyly conceals with the initials "TC" the fact that Tom Constanten played piano in this group.
    Tom Constanten also lists the RDC as playing at Mandrake's in his performance list (though, again, he doesn't give a specific date).

    Also, the Rubber Duck Company opened for the Dead's Euphoria Ballroom shows in July.

    This is an exciting find, as I think it's the only example of Garcia playing with one of TC's post-Dead groups?

  2. I hadn't even thought of that. That would be exciting!

    I always try to stick close to the evidence, not just assume things such as that this must have been a NRPS gig. You've reminded me why I'd like to maintain that priority - this very well may or may not have been NRPS. I do still like and buy the theory that this is a NRPS warmup for the FW shows, but of course that's pure speculation.

  3. This is quite fascinating, but I think the odds are overwhelming that its a NRPS show. That doesn't rule out Jerry sitting in with TC, but I think its the New Riders.

    I think NRPS was showing off at Fillmore West for record companies, and they wanted it to look good.

  4. I have to ask - if we have an ad for the Rubber Duck band, why are the odds "overwhelming" that it was actually NRPS?
    Have other Mandrake's ads of that month been checked?

  5. Well, Garcia is known to have played 100+ shows with NRPS and none with Rubber Duck. There's a studio tape that's rumored to be Jerry with Touchstone (the successor band to Rubber Duck), but I can't say for sure what it is (I have it somewhere--its inconclusive). Jerry didn't have a major social connection to TC or anyone in Rubber Duck, nor did they play his type of music (little or no improvisation). None of the pieces fit.

    Also, Mandrake's wouldn't distinguish much between advertising "Jerry Garcia" and "NRPS with Jerry Garcia," and it looks like the ad was type-set late, with a last minute addition. So Occam's Razor leads us to NRPS.

    With all that being said, its still possible Garcia played with Rubber Duck, or sat in with them even though NRPS "headlined." Stranger things have turned out to be true.

    1. Jerry Garcia is listed on the playbill as a sometimes guest. I just turned the original over to a friend, who was also at this show.

    2. Jerry did play with my band on many occasions. I was "The Rubber Duck". You are historically incorrect.

  6. Yeah, gotta be NRPS.

    And BTW, look at this week. With Howard at the Matrix on Monday June 1st, two nights at Mandrake's with the New Riders Tuesday-Wednesday, GD-NRPS for four high-profile nights, then with Howard again on Monday!

    Man oh man, what a workaholic, and what range!

    Remember, this was the Bay Area debut of the "Evening With the Grateful Dead" format, with a record contract on the line. I think a vaguely- and tardily-announced warmup at an out-of-the-way place makes great sense, even on its own. But given everything else we know about the context, I'd say a NRPS gig is absolutely the most likely thing.

    I, for one, am confident listing this as New Riders.

  7. Corry said:

    Well, Garcia is known to have played 100+ shows with NRPS and none with Rubber Duck. There's a studio tape that's rumored to be Jerry with Touchstone (the successor band to Rubber Duck), but I can't say for sure what it is (I have it somewhere--its inconclusive). Jerry didn't have a major social connection to TC or anyone in Rubber Duck, nor did they play his type of music (little or no improvisation). None of the pieces fit.

    What do we know about Garcia's involvement with "Tarot"? Almost nothing, that's what we know. The thin empirical record gives very little to go on.

    1. You are Dead wrong. I worked with Jerry for quite a while. Your investigation is not complete Corry.
      My name is Joseph Lennon McCord aka Rubber Duck, & Dolphin the Mime. I wrote, starred, & Directed Tarot.

    2. ha ha ha, I love it! I can vouch for this, I was there, and sent Joe my ticket stub. And I had an original playbill.

  8. According to deaddisc, the Tarot album just had players from the regular Rubber Duck (aka Touchstone) band on it.
    Listening to the outtakes, the guitar does have a lilting Jerry-esque style in spots; but it's very composed music, and I really doubt it's Jerry (or Phil, or Mickey) on any tracks. Another tape-myth slain!

  9. There's some freshly seeded Tarot music posted on Lossless legs today. 4 tracks, perhaps new to the digital sphere? When reading the forum posts discussing the music, one member interestingly states -

    "Interesting - Tarot was one of the first Dead off-shoot projects I traded for back in 1972-73.
    I was told that Tarot was a TC project with Jerry and Mickey sitting in. The fragment I had was a soundboard purported to be recorded from a live gig in Berkeley..."

    Of course, a lot of stories are told regarding the origin of tapes, but this one seems to jive with this gig.

  10. Well here it is! I was the Rubber Duck & my band was the Rubber band. Jerry did play with us on many occasions. I personally toured with the Dead as their opening act. Jerry, & Mickey Hart,& Tom Constantin, joined with my band to fill it out. Jerry also played with my play:" TAROT" first in Berkley, & later in the Academy of Music, Brooklyn & the Circle In The Square in New York. This is a fact of musical history.
    I am getting ready to do a cable network pilot of a music talk show. It's my own show. My name is Joseph Lennon McCord aka Rubber Duck, & Dolphin the mime. My talk show is called " THE JOE DADDY SHOW.

    1. Dude, people really need to remember you, the mime who opened for the Grateful Dead, does that jog their memories? Also, a great song writer, I know, we did a few things together, you the lyrics, I did the music way back in the seventies in Hollywood. Too bad it was never professionally recorded! Remember "See You In The Wind"?

  11. Listening to the new Tarot music from LL, it is indeed new to me, and different from the previous "Tarot outtakes" that circulated.

    It is so different in style, in fact, that I wonder if it is the same musicians. While there is indeed pedal steel & piano (which never play at the same time!), it does not sound like either Constanten or Garcia.
    The notes list the players as: Garcia, Lesh, Constanten, Hart, Greene - but the bass can't be Lesh; and there's not much drumming. Could be Richard Greene on violin (as the LL notes hint), but I don't know; the acoustic guitar could be anybody.

    The instrumentation is very different from the previous Tarot outtakes, which had a couple guitars (acoustic & electric) playing in a different style, and a whole classical string section, along with very TC-like keyboards. The musical style of these new instrumentals is quite different, without the classical feel. This might not be Tarot material at all; other ears will have to judge - I've never heard the actual Tarot album so I'm listening from unfamiliarity.
    I still feel Garcia was not on the old Tarot outtakes tape, and I'm dubious about his being the pedal-steel player in the new instrumentals. Could be mistaken though! - other people more attuned to his pedal-steel style can tell more accurately.
    That's not to say he didn't play with Rubber Duck sometime; just that we may not have tapes of it.

  12. Joe, this is amazing information about Jerry Garcia and "The Rubber Duck." Do you recall whether Jerry played pedal steel or six-string, or both?

    Long ago and far away, I was friendly with your one-time bass player Tom Glass, a great guy and fine bassist (and excellent graphic artist as well), which is how I first got onto the whole Rubber Duck/Tarot story back in the 80s.

    1. Jerry played both Pedal Steel & 6 string. This is Joseph Lennon McCord aka Rubber Duck.

  13. Jerry played both pedal & guitar with me corry342.
    I also opened for them at the Hollywood Bowl. Not certain of the date. If anyone was there, do you have any photos or film, video etc. of that glorious occasion? Deadheads gave me a warm welcome.

  14. Joe, that's fascinating. Based on the dates, I would think that would have been June 17, 1972--do you recall who was in your band that time?

    The other Hollywood venue the Dead played was the indoor Hollywood Palladium. The band played there Aug 5-6, 1971 and September 9-10, 1972.

  15. The date and line up for the June or July 1970 Mandrakes’ performances are something I was meaning to get around to looking in to.
    In addition to the June 2 and 3 “Rubber Duck Mime Band and Jerry Garcia” performances I suspect that there may have been additional “Rubber Duck Company” performances at Mandrakes during the same period. Later (October 1970) we have “Rubber Band” appearances at The Babylon, New Orleans House and (December 1970/January 1971) the original Tarot shows in New York, before a shift toward using the new name of Touchstone.
    Tom Constanten has kept fabulous records of his performances but the notes for the Mandrakes period are not so convincing - seeming to identify performers with all instruments duplicated – and no mention of Jerry Garcia.
    I understand that Gary Hirsch (Chicken) sat in at some point with the band at Mandrakes. TC identifies the performers at Mandrakes as mime Joe McCord; Glen Frendel (who had produced the music for the movie "Death of Alex Litsky" and was likely involved with Canyon Cinema in Berkeley (Ben Van Meter, Robert Nelson, Lenny Lipton et al) and a story that needs to be told at some point); Tom Glass; Jim Byers; David Garthwaite or Wes Steele on bass; Gary Hirsch and Ron Wilson on drums (was this the Surfari's Ron Wilson?); Art Fayer and Naomi Ruth Eisenberg on violin; and Tom Constanten himself. I look at the line up and it seems to me that we have a mix of two bands or two variants of the Rubber Duck Company.
    We probably need to find copies of the Berkeley Tribe for this June/July 1970 window. To unravel the rest of the story, but I suspect there were more shows than the two at the start of June. If I get time I will try a timeline/family tree to see how it hangs together. Perhaps Joe and TC could help us out. Ross

    1. This is Joe McCord. I can help you out. My number is 818-300-4421

  16. Yes there were many more bay area gigs & on the road. All the people you mentioned were part of the ever changing Rubber Band, Ross. I went on to collaborate with Van Morrisons band. Naomi went on to work with Dan Hicks, as a Hot Lick. David & Ron wilson were from the Joy Of Cooking. I also worked with Terry Garthwaite. When Mickey Hart was fired from the Dead, He joined my band, until he was asked to come back.

  17. Thank you Joe, and all, for an illuminating discussion! With Ross's permission, I am posting his list of Rubber Band billings and such. Joe, can you say anything about these dates, and/or fill in the blanks?

    November 11, 1966: Trip Room, Sacramento, CA Big Brother and The Holding Company, Rubber Band

    July 11-13, 1969: Family Dog on the Great Highway, San Francisco, CA Rubber Duck, Youngbloods, Lamb, Mother Bear

    29 August 1969: Family Dog on the Great Highway, San Francisco, CA Grateful Dead, Commander Cody, New Riders Of The Purple Sage, Phoenix (replacing Rubber Duck Company)

    02 June 1970: Mandrakes, Berkeley, CA Rubber Duck Mime Band and Jerry Garcia

    03 June 1970: Mandrakes, Berkeley, CA Rubber Duck Mime Band and Jerry Garcia

    June or July 1970: Mandrakes, Berkeley, CA I am pretty sure there were other Rubber Duck Company appearances with TC but without Jerry Garcia.

    14 July 1970: Euphoria Ballroom, San Rafael, CA New Riders of The Purple Sage, Rubber Duck Company (with TC)

    16 July 1970: Euphoria Ballroom, San Rafael, CA New Riders of The Purple Sage, Rubber Duck Company (with TC)

    07 October 1970: Babylon, Berkeley, CA Rubber Band

    08 October 1970: New Orleans House, Berkeley, CA Fox, Rubber Band

    December 12-20, 1970: "Tarot" at Chelsea Theater, Brooklyn, NY.

    Of course, if you have any old datebooks or diaries I would be most interested to learn more.

    Thanks so much!

    1. Played with Jerry & Mickey in "The Boston Tea Party & Cafe Au gogo in New York, as well.

    2. This is wonderful, Joseph, thanks for sharing it.

      Can I ask three specific questions? I never expect the people who were there to remember, necessarily, but I always like to try.

      1. Was it always structured as Garcia, TC, Hart and yourself?

      2. Was there a prior composition involved, or was it strictly of-the-moment?

      3. Did this occur on all the nights in Boston and at the Cafe Au Go Go,? I ask because it looks like there was an opener, the Bonzo Dog Band, on the bill in Boston, and of course Country Joe and the Fish in NYC.

  18. Well here's some more info:
    I collaborated with SEA TRAIN with Richard Green & Peter Rowan. Also with the ROWAN BROTHERS. I don't know the dates. The art form I called PANTOZIQUE.
    The Marriage, & Synchronization Of Mime, Music, & Satire. I worked with the Dead & opened for them at the Hollywood Bowl. Sure am glad they rented binoculars. I worked with Van Morrison for 2 years. A very interesting story as to how that came about. I also did a gig with THE PINK FLOYD & GENESIS. Etc. etc.

  19. By the way, After every performance of the Play TAROT, we had a jam with any musician in New York. Some of them who showed up was, Michael Bloomfield, Rick Derringer, Jeff Beck, & Edger, & Johnny Winter.

  20. 02 June 1970: Mandrakes, Berkeley, CA Rubber Duck Mime Band and Jerry Garcia

    ...according to TJS Jerry played at The Matrix with Howard Wales on this date. It says that it's based on a newspaper advertisement but the advertisement is not listed on TJS. Neither is whoever put that info there...

  21. That info might have come from Joey Newlander, but I assume it's erroneous since there's a listing for a Monday night gig on 6/1. I wonder if Joey found the "Jerry Garcia" ad for 6/2 and assumed it was Garcia/Wales, passing that info onto TJS ...

  22. Or, it could be that it was Garcia/Wales. I doubt it (as evidenced by my assumption that these listings are for NRPS), but it's possible. I don't know any other evidence than the Tribe ad I list above for anything on 6/2.

  23. A recollection from the Boston Tea Party, October 2 or 3, 1969:

    "I ... remember that between sets there was a mime/music improv that involved a mime (I do not know who he was) with Jerry, Mickey and TC doing improv music behind him. It was different, strange and weirdly engaging."

    Mr. McCord, does this ring any bells?

  24. Good find! Seems like whenever we look in any dark corner in the early GD world, there's more side-music getting played somewhere.... This almost sounds like a '69 version of Seastones!

  25. That recollection from the BTP in Oct '69 does seem to match McCord's new statement above that he played with Jerry & Mickey there.
    They played at the Cafe au Go Go the same week, so perhaps he was on the road with them.

  26. Circus magazine interviewed Garcia in NYC, November 1970 (printed in March '71). The article states: "Recently Jerry has been playing music for a play called Tarot presented by the Chelsea Theatre Company in Brooklyn, taking time out to play with the Dead who have been touring the East Coast on and off for the past few months."

    Unfortunately they didn't ask him about it, so it's hard to say how they got this info - was he spotted at the Chelsea with the Rubber Duck group between Dead shows, or did someone just see a handbill mentioning him as a Tarot composer and/or guest? Nonetheless, it is contemporary evidence, however scanty.

  27. Right, that's the maddening thing - there is no specificity as to his role, anywhere, ever.

  28. I have written a whole post about Garcia's role in the Rubber Duck Company & the Tarot project - lots of new info, but still lots of questions:


!Thank you for joining the conversation!