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Sunday, July 24, 2011

OAITW 19730305 Inn of the Beginning, Cotati, CA

Sharp-eyed readers who checked out the March 1973 Inn of the Beginning flyer in my post about Jerry Garcia/Merl Saunders 1/15/73 and Sarah Fulcher may have looked to the top-left, and seen this:

Here we have listings for two Monday, March 5, 1973 shows (9pm and 11 pm) by Old And In The Way (OAITW) at the Inn of the Beginning, 8201 Old Redwood Hwy, Cotati, CA 94931. The named players are David Diadem, Jerry Garcia and Peter Rowan. The Rowan Brothers are set to open. As a factual note, the March 1973 IOTB ledger page says the early show was at 8pm, and I think that’s the “correct” time for the early show.

Fascinating on so many levels.

First, some calendar context.

Garcia's performance calendar, March 2-7, 1973.
The early show would be the third OAITW gig before a live audience. If you continue the timeline forward, you have Pigpen’s death on March 8 and then the wake and funeral, an off-night gig with Merl (March 11), blow off some steam, and three off-night gigs with OAITW (Monday March 12 and Tuesday March 13 at Keystone, Wednesday at the Share). Then the GD are on tour all the way through early April, followed by what must have been a relatively long-booked weekend chez Freddie (Keystone) with Merl. By my reckoning, OAITW wouldn’t play a weekend until April 20-21, 1973, by which time they had Richard Greene. So it seems to me like they really needed a fiddle player, and that, among other of its complicated aspects, OAITW fell prey to the vicissitudes of Garcia’s schedule, and some odd circumstance. The man was just fundamentally a workaholic and had too many irons in the fire. What’s more, the fact that OAITW would have this “false start” of sorts in March, then have to begin anew in April, must have been frustrating to Rowan and Grisman. (I have recently written about the transition through what I might now call the "third phase" of OAITW, the Vassar Clements period.)

Anyway, it’s always neat to recover a date and put it into its calendar context, so there you have it.

Second observation, smaller: David Diadem. This was the nom-de-freak that David Grisman was using at this time, as far as I can tell for reasons known only to him. He was a highly spaced-out dude at this time, from what I can tell, but a mind-blowing player, composer and eventually band-leader who was just about ready to carve his own channel of genius through the world, and then walk it, strongly. We should all be blessed with such strengths and opportunities!

Third, aside on the Mark Braunstein collection. The March 1973 IOTB calendar was the front page of the Inn of the Beginning Flyer. I didn’t take careful notes on the evolution of the flyer itself, but roughly it began as a single calendar sheet and evolved into at least an 8-page Flyer, a newsletter of sorts that was mailed out to folks on the Inn’s list. And it is a rich, rich source of information. I was able only to scan the calendar pages and selected other pages, as well as the handwritten “ledger” of bands and arrangements compiled at the end of each month. So there are countless pages of amazing narratives on the bands, the scene, stuff going on in Cotati, Sonoma and beyond, etc. I hope someday some museum will take these materials and catalog them fully. They deserve it. And thanks, Mark, for letting me go through this amazing stuff!

Fourth, a business aspect or two. The IOTB had calendared this as a “Special Show” and run the blurb above right at the top left of the inside cover (p.1 of the Inn of the Beginning Flyer proper). As ever, Being Jerry Garcia involves not being able to escape on a Monday night to pick some banjo, but having to be part of a “Special Show”, with Your Name In Lights. An insider reminds me that there’s ego involved here, and Garcia was as subject to that kind of motivation as anyone else. So I don’t want to pluck the harp strings for him here. It might be “having to do this”, but it’s also “choosing to do this”. But it might also be just a little bit of a drag, dontcha think? Maybe a reflection of a constrained choice-set rather than some underlying preference to be on the marquee? Pigpen is laying in his bed and dying, Garcia has to help launch a new band, on top of being Jerry Garcia Of The Grateful Dead (“Let’s start a record company!”) and headlining with Merl. (Aside: no wonder he had John Kahn manage band decisions for him! With Sarah, and George Ticker, and Martin, and Tom Fogerty, and Vitt and Kreutzmann, and mystery rhythm guitar players (at least once, no, at least twice) and mystery harmonica players and mystery trumpet players and all that, Garcia/Saunders alone should have been a full-time job. Have John do it!)

I nearly left out the most interesting business aspect that these IOTB materials reveal. On the back of the February 1973 ledger there is a handwritten note, written and circled with palpable excitement, that says "Jerry Garcia | new group: "Old And In The Way" | Peter Rowan guitar, David Diadem mando, JG banjo" and maps out the contours of the night with the Rowan Bros opener, the percentages, a note to "turn house" (i.e., have separately ticketed/charged early and late shows), etc. It's great to see such rich contextual evidence for the fact that a band with Garcia was a relatively "big deal" and a sure money maker in Cotati. We "knew" this, but now I feel like I "know" it in a fuller way.

Anyway, I am sure everyone did well this night. Tickets are two bucks. The ledger shows the band’s guarantee as $500 or 80%. I am betting the place was packed to the damn rafters, because insofar as I understand it the capacity might have been 250 or so. So they might have sold $1,000 or more of tickets, depending on how crowded they let it get. So be it. Be Jerry Garcia. Grab your banjo, go out there and put one guy’s kid brothers on first, make some bread ($800 four ways, not bad!), pick some bluegrass, maybe start a band and cut a best-selling record.

Do y’thing, mang.


  1. Fantastic stuff. I think David Grisman had a contractual relationship stemming from being a member of Earth Opera in 1969 (they were on Elektra, I think). He may not have been able to record under his own name, or may have thought he was unable, so he simply used a different name.

    This wasn't so uncommon in the 1960s. Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman had a bitter lawsuit against their record company (White Whale) from when they led The Turtles ("Happy Together" etc), and as a result they were unable to perform using their own names from 1970 onwards. Thus they joined Frank Zappa's Mothers Of Invention under fake names (The Phlorescent Leech and Eddie). Of course, Zappa worked it into his schtick and made it seem like it was a plan, and in fact they are better known today as Flo and Eddie.

    If Grisman had signed a 5-year deal with Elektra in 1968, it may have taken until mid-73 to expire, or something like that. Or at least, Grisman had legal advice that told him to avoid conflicts that way.

  2. Here's a little piece of confirmatory color regarding the handwritten notes on the back of the February ledger, from another somewhat out-of-the way gig, Homer's Warehouse in Palo Alto. Employee: "I just got a call from Sam Cutler ... He's now booking gigs for Jerry, who's got a new acoustic bluegrass band called Old And In The Way. Sam wanted to bring him down for one night, so I gave him March fourth" (Bernstein 2013, 113). What are the odds that it was Sam who called Mark B. at the Inn? Pretty good, I'd speculate. Not that there's anything important about it, but just nice when independent evidence converges.

    Bernstein, Andrew J. 2013. California Slim: The Music, the Magic, and the Madness. Xlibris LLC.

  3. "A few days later, Rollie rushed out of the office with some important news.
    'I just got a call from Sam Cutler.
    'The guy from Altamont?'
    'Yep. He's now booking side gigs for Jerry, who's got a new acoustic bluegrass band called Old and in the Way. Sam wanted to bring him down for one night, so I gave him March fourth.'
    'Goddamn that's good news, Rollie! Well done. With that bill, we'll be able to turn two houses and sell a helluva lotta beer!'
    A little later, I called Jake to get his butt over to the club to plan the
    poster. We had just over ten days to prepare." (Bernstein 2013, 113).

    What's so great about this is how perfectly this conveys the fell that jumped off the page of the IOTB ledgers, for the very next night. Totally orthogonal streams of evidence don't converge to cleanly as this that often, not as often as I'd like - messy world. Anyway, OAITW was a great "get" for these clubs - Jerry's got them ol' Midas Blues.

    1. So interesting, it's worth saying twice, seven months apart.

  4. "This would be a homecoming of sorts for Jerry. He'd not been around Palo Alto for a while, and we wanted him to feel comfortable. Perhaps he would return for more appearances if it felt right to him. We knew this was a great opportunity to make a splash. All fingers and toes were crossed" (Bernstein 2013, 114).


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