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Tuesday, May 08, 2012

When Jerry Met Freddie: NRPS, Wednesday, November 25, 1970: Keystone Korner

New Riders of the Purple Sage
Keystone Korner
November 25, 1970 (Wednesday)
Listing for NRPS at Keystone Korner, 750 Vallejo Street, San Francisco, CA, Wednesday, November 25, 1970. Source: "Opening Today," San Francisco Chronicle, November 25, 1970, p. 35.

"Finds" are fun, and here's one: New Riders of the Purple Sage (NRPS) at Keystone Korner, 750 Vallejo Street, San Francisco, CA, Wednesday, November 25, 1970.

So, the Grateful Dead and the Riders are on tour,playing a wild-ass Hell's Angels party at the Anderson Theatre in NYC onMonday, November 23rd, and Garcia plays a hometown gig with his old buddies David Nelson and Marmaduke, probably Dave Torbert on bass. But who would have been playing bass for the New Riders? Corry has covered the early history of the NRPS bassists beautifully (see also earlier). But the late history of the NRPS is not perfectly clear to me, and in any case this new listing might be worth thinking about in this context.

Mickey Hart's Departure From the New Riders of the Purple Sage

I know there are probably bits and pieces around about this, but I do not have my materials handy. (I'll look forward to your sources and sourced recommendations in the comments!) Corry's "New Riders Of The Purple Sage Personnel 1969-1981" tells me that the NRPS #2 configuration of Dawson-Nelson-Garcia-Torbert Hart ran from 4/17/70 through 11/29/70, the latter opening for the Grateful Dead at the Agora Theatre in Cleveland, OH. NRPS #3, with Dryden replacing Hart, kicks off on 12/12/70 (opening for the GD at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in hometown Santa Rosa). This is the configuration with which Jerry would finish his run with the Riders, opening for himself one last time at the Taft Auditorium in Cincinnati, OH, on Halloween night, October 31, 1971.

So this new listing for 11/25/70 would be Hart's third-from-final show with the NRPS, on current knowledge, followed only by the opener for the GD at the Syndrome in Chicago on 11/27 and the Agora set. But what do we know about Mickey's departure from the NRPS? Corry notes that "Mickey Hart had become increasingly distraught after his father Lenny had nearly bankrupted the Grateful Dead. He left the New Riders after their November tour, and the Dead in February of 1971." I assume the linkage of the emotional wreckage from Lenny and the NRPS departure is a good one to make, and for some reason this new listing, the night before Thanksgiving 1970, puts me in mind of the tinge of sadness that seems to accompany certain Bay Area Thanksgivings. If you are alone and already sad and feeling blue, if it's cloudy and cold and wet, that could be a tough time. So, while I obviously can't conjecture too might about the emotional color of 11/25/70 at the Keystone Korner, by gut feeling is that it was far from a rainbows-and-unicorns affair.

That said, it might've been mighty nice, too. Hang around, play some country music, have a few beers. Are we not still men?

Caveat/wild speculation: do we really know Mickey was there, and that this wasn’t a warmup for Spencer Dryden? Hmm??

First Gig with Freddie Herrera?

Oh yeah, another thing that's not trivial. Unless I am missing something, this appears to be Garcia's first gig at a Freddie Herrera club. Corry has established the centrality of Freddie Herrera to Garcia's musical life outside the Grateful Dead, and pinpointed the centrality of Freddie Herrera to Garcia's musical life outside the Grateful Dead, and pinpointed the room at 2119 University Way in Berkeley as the crux of that decade-and-a-half personal and business relationship. I'd go so far as to say that Freddie was the third most important person to making GOTS work, after John Kahn and Steve Parrish.

Anyway, as we know, before Fred started up in Berkeley there was his place in North Beach, the Keystone Korner (so named because it stood kitty-corner from a police station), which is right up there with the Matrix in The Lore. And I believe this is the first known gig there, and the first known with Fred Herrera. Fun stuff!

Caveat/weird observation: My next listed Garcia-Herrera crossing is April 1, 1971, at Keystone Korner. Six months is a long time between encounters. I wonder if Freddie and Jerry did actually meet, or even do business, on this 11/25/70? I was pretty sure Herrera had the club from 1969. But six months is a long time. I’d love to hear the specifics of all this (note to self).


Another one for The List.

Arnold, Corry. 2010. 2119 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA: The Keystone Berkeley. Lost Live Dead, December 31, 2010, URL, consulted 5/7/2012.
Arnold, Corry. 2011. Jerry Garcia and Keystone Shows Overview. Lost Live Dead, January 2, 2011, URL, consulted 5/7/2012.
Arnold, Corry. 2012. New Riders Of The Purple Sage Personnel 1969-1981. Hooterollin' Around, February 17, 2012, URL, consulted 5/8/2012.
JGMF. 2009. GD/NRPS: November 23, 1970, Anderson Theatre (Hell's Angels Benefit). Jerry Garcia's Middle Finger, December 15, 2009, URL, consulted 5/7/2012.
"Opening Today," San Francisco Chronicle, November 25, 1970, p. 35.


  1. This is indeed a fascinating find for any number of reasons. Clearly the first Herrera/Garcia booking.

    I very much like the notion that this is a secret warmup gig for Spencer Dryden. Dec 12 '70 was the first Spencer sighting--since we didn't know about this, we couldn't have a "sighting."

    In passing, note that "Opening Today"incudes Ali Akhbar Khan and Pharaoh Sanders at the Harding, under the name "Both/And At The Harding."

  2. re Both/And, yes, I have coded it that way in spreadsheets, precisely because the Marathon '70 event (NRPS at Harding, by Both/And productions, a 52-hour marathon) has piqued my interest (found a few more pieces on it) and because the Harding has a pretty interesting history, as we have discussed over the years.

    Marathon '70:



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