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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Maria Muldaur: July 21, 1974, Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood, CA


We know that the world is generating more data than we can handle, and what we need are better aggregators and synthesizers. A case in point would be recollections attached to historical events such as, say, oh, I dunno, rock concerts. At various message boards, torrent sites, discussion groups, etc. (to say nothing of Facebook), people are leaving often-valuable little bits and pieces of memory and other information. Part of the obsessive nature of the whole thing, then, is trying to be a better aggregator, knowing you'll never get there, but having a blast trying.

Enough of that. As I was poking around for my listening notes of the JGMS “7/21/74” Keystone Berkeley recording, I was working at dead.net. It has a list of every GD show (though it's not intuitive to get to the one you are looking for), has created space for people to comment, post images, etc., and probably has lots of eyeballs opening to lots of brains full of lots of interesting data poking around everyday (certainly more than the five eyeballs that hit JGMF). So, anyway, I visit the page for the Grateful Dead show at Hollywood Bowl on July 21, 1974:http://dead.net/show/july-21-1974. Commander Cody and Maria Muldaur opened. Maria Muldaur's backing band included Garcia sidekick John Kahn. Kahn and Muldaur would at some point be a couple, though the dates are unclear to me. I have it that things were basically over by 1979-1980. I have never quite known when they started. So, back to interesting data floating around in the ether. At dead.net, attendee ‘jacksondownunda’ offers the following recollection:

Maria [Muldaur] seemed delightfully ripped this day, leaning backwards to plant kisses on John Kahn (great Walkin' One And Only and Paul Butterfield dropped by to blow harp).

Maria Muldaur Band, Hollywood Bowl, July 21, 1974. Copyright ultomatt

Why do I quote this?

First, someone interested in documenting John Kahn’s career might just like the Butterfield guest shot datum, if he hadn’t already codified back in July of ’74 itself (or any time since).

Second, it suggests to me that John and Maria were cooking by July 1974. I have no idea if that’s right (could have just been the flirtatious stage thing). I also have no idea if that’s superfluous, since maybe one of you knows when they started and ended. But it’s certainly something that needs to be considered, because of the centrality of Kahn to Garcia On The Side (“if John Kahn hadn’t existed, Jerry Garcia would have had to invent him” a sage has said); because his work and life with Maria may have shaped the contours of his involvement with various Garcia Bands, and hence shaped those bands, including their touring schedules and so forth; and of course because Maria Muldaur has to be treated on her own terms as a member of the Garcia On The Side Alumni Club, to say nothing of her place as an American musical performer.

So, I’ll end with a question … does anyone know when John and Maria started and ended their relationships, personal and professional?

3 comments:

  1. John Kahn probably met Maria Muldaur when he was the bass player for the Geoff And Maria Muldaur Pottery Pie album, recorded in late 1971 in Woodstock, NY. It's always possible they had met earlier, but I don't see a likely opportunity. Maria's touring was very limited from about 68-72, because her daughter was still young, but no longer so young that she could miss school.

    Kahn moved to the Woodstock area in the Spring of '72, to start working with Paul Butterfield. Kahn returned to the Bay Area in Late Summer '72, after the Butterfield deal broke down. So we know that John and Maria had met and worked together in late 71, but Maria was still married at the time.

    I have pinned down Kahn's presence in the Maria Muldaur band to the last week of December, 1973, at the Boarding House. Maria (somewhere on the web) says that her bass player got sick, Kahn was invited down, he learned 20 songs in an hour and later they fell in love. It's a nice story, but it sounds like the kind of story couples tell about how they "met cute," carefully eliding boring details about how they had already been introduced. I can't determine when John and Maria's relationship ended.

    That's a great photo. L-R, Amos Garrett and Stephen Bruton on guitar (not sure which is which), Maria, Kahn, Paul Butterfield on harmonica, Billy somebody-or-other on drums, unknown roadie standing next to the drums and Jeff Gutcheon on piano.

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  2. An article in Rolling Stone dated August 1, 1974 calls John Kahn "Maria's current old man". FWIW, and all that.

    Shaw, David. 1974. Maria. Rolling Stone no. 166 (August 1): 32-36.

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  3. I was there that day. Great concert. Somewhere I have some black and white shots that I need to dig out, but I did find a few slides. Yes, slides. I have a decent shot of Maria and Paul at the mic, but apparently can't add a photo? You can email me at fldonahue69@gmail.com if you care?

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