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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Rare Sight

A Jerryless month in Berkeley: April 1975. I'd bet it was a bad month financially for the Keystone.


  1. This is a Jerry-less month at the Keystone, but there are still a few Dead connections. Note that Osiris, with Kevin McKernan is playing a Monday night (Apr 7), and James and The Mercedes are playing two weeks later (Apr 21). James And The Mercedes featured James Ackroyd (of James and The Good Brothers), and one of the backup singers was Frankie Weir (Bob's girlfriend, whose real last name was something else). Monday nights at the Keystone was just no-cover night for the beer drinkers, but those bands wouldn't have been on the list without the Dead connection.

    I wonder who the 'blockbuster' act was that was scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, April 15 and 16? A group would have to have been booked elsewhere in the Bay Area for the Keystone to be unable to advertise.

    For rock historians, the most intriguing booking is Axis, featuring bassist Fuzzy Samuels (ex-CSNY) and singer PP Arnold. Arnold was an American who had recorded in England in the mid-60s, which is how she came to be backed by Keith Emerson and The Nice. At the time, Samuels and Arnold were married.

    At this time, Eddie Money was just a local Berkeley rock act. He headlined at the Longbranch, which was lower on the chain than the Keystone Berkeley, where he was just an opening act. I saw Money in December '75 and at the time there was nothing notable about his music--he didn't seem like a guy who would become a big success a few years later.

  2. how can it have been a bad month with eddie money playing?

  3. I am also doubtful that the '75 Jerry shows were the big paydays you envision. I went to quite a few of them (75 was certainly my peak Garcia at KB year) and it was usually fullish but not overflowing. I could regularly arrive at 8 or so and get one of the tables near the front. I gather it got a lot more competitive for good seating (and admission) by the 1980s.

  4. That's useful insight, crypt, thanks. I still think it's all relative: Garcia was probably always a good, steady draw. A month with Garcia will have higher mean than a month without, and more Garcia probably also means lower variance. The sheer quantity of Garcia's performances in Freddie Herrera joints, and the continuity over such a long period of time, all suggest that this was a good business arrangement. Unless we could see the books we can never test the proposition, but I remain confident that a month without Garcia would be a down month at Keystone.

  5. The linchpin of Keystone Berkeley economics was selling beer. As crypt's own description implies, when Garcia played, people were there at 8:00pm when the doors opened, and they stayed through two long sets. I'll bet that generated a lot of beer sales, more than Earthquake, Leo Sayer of Hugh Masakela. That's where the Keystone made money.

    Of course, in the 80s, it was even more crowded (no tables), there was an opening act, and Garcia didn't come on until 11:00pm, so even more beer was sold.

  6. How much would a beer have gone for in those days? And can we estimate (roughly, presumably) how many beers each person would have on average at a Friday night Jerry and Merl Keystone gig? A couple. So Keystone holds 300 people, they drink 1.5 beers each at $1.50 or whatever. That'd be $600 in beer sales. How much was entrance? I am trying to figure out the revenues on a given night.

  7. That's the right formula, we just need someone to give us the proper numbers. Although--take if from me--no one who went to Keystone Berkeley could remember that sort of thing, even if you asked them the next day.


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