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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Accounting the JGB: October 8, 1975

Since we are having fun with a few provisions around how the JGB was billed and advertised for the October 8, 1975 (Wednesday!) shows at the Del Mar Theatre in Santa Cruz [JGC 7:30 PM | JGC 10:30 PM | map | JGBP venue, but 'Theatre' is correct], why don't we look at this in some more detail.

Here's how the promoter's (YEA Productions) accounts might have looked:

Table xxx. Promoter Expenses and Revenues, JGB, October 8, 1975

839 paying customers for the 7:30 PM engagement, 1,392 for the late show, building capacity ca. 1,450 for this show.

Jerry Band getting $5k this night, opener Doug Haywood gets $300.

There were apparently posters made, though I don't think I have seen any. Lights by Photon Drive. Radio ads on KLRB, KFAT, KDON, KBEZ, KOME. Print in Sundaze, Good Times (is this the same one that started in San Francisco?), and the Santa Cruz Sentinel. The carnations are a nice touch. It also seems nice to have offered to buy the refreshments, though the rebate from Garcia Band management (Richard Loren) could be read as Garcia effectively buying this night.

Seems like a lot of work for a eleven hundred bucks, but then again, what else you gonna do on a Wednesday night? Jerry would come back down to the Del Mar twice in 1976, Thursday 2/26 (two shows) and Thursday 8/19 [JGC], the latter of which is a great show with a really attractive poster, which I'll leave you with in closing. (Notice the billing!)


  1. This accounting form is instructive on any number of levels. For one thing, it shows you the risks inherent in the concert business. The promoter's costs are $10,500, and the costs are fixed regardless of how well or poorly the show sells tickets. On the other hand, having met his expenses, the promoter makes a profit once he gets past 2100 tickets (2100 x $5), His maximum theoretical profit is only $4000, however, unlike the potentially infinite rewards of the record business. And that assumes he sells all 2900 tickets. Since it was a seated venue, any seats given to the band or the promoters' friends or cute girls reduce the potential take--nothing is "free."

    What hurts the promoter is the poor turnout for the early show, just 839 for the early show vs 1392 for the late. A few hundred extra tickets for the early show would have been all profit, but it was not to be. These numbers may seem shocking to East Coasters, but Jerry Garcia just wasn't a big deal in Northern California in 1975. People from Palo Alto or San Jose weren't going to drive over the hill to see him, when they could see him a few days later much nearer to their home.

    $500 was a lot of money for beer and wine back in 1975. That's a lot more than a few backstage beers for the band. It sounds like their was a big party, so maybe that's why Richard Loren ok'd the rebate. Keep in mind that this means that the Jerry Garcia Band got $4500 instead of $5000, they didn't actually hand any money over. The affect on ROI is large however, as it goes from 6.42% (643.34/10011.66) to 10.87%.

    These numbers also illustrate how critical even the most mundane of concessions were to a concert promoter. The Del Mar Theatre probably held on to the popcorn franchise, presumably paying a couple of people minimum wage to staff it. If you look at the economics, having made his nut, anything else the promoter made was pure profit. A few thousand dollars in popcorn and diet coke to dry mouthed fans would have been welcome indeed. It's a whiff of why promoters liked two set shows so much, and why they have opening acts. It's not that they think fans want to see Doug Haywood (was that Jackson Browne's old bass player, usually spelled Heywood?). It's that they want a set break in order to sell some popcorn.

    If the promoter held on to the popcorn concession, and these were not part of the expenses accounted for--very possible--then it's important to remember that his profit picture was probably very different indeed. Still, Garcia played the Del Mar (I think for the same guy) a few times, so it must have gone well. The Catalyst existed, just down the street, but it was a coffee shop, not its current location, so Garcia had nowhere else large enough to play in Santa Cruz at the time. As we can see, he could not have sold out the 2000 seat Santa Cruz Civic at the time.

    The Jerry Garcia Band with Nicky Hopkins, John Kahn and Ronnie Tutt had played four very low-key warmup shows in September. They played Sophie's in Palo Alto (not yet the Keystone Palo Alto), which may have been canceled, Crabshaw's in Sacramento and two at River City in Fairfax. All but Sophie's were tiny, and the shows were probably more like public rehearsals.

    After this show, the JGB played Flint Center, at a Junior College (De Anza) near San Jose, two at Keystone Berkeley and then Concord Pavilion, and then went on a big tour of the East Coast. So this Del Mar show was really the kickoff, but as was typical Garcia started out of town to get the kinks out. That's why I think there was a big party that needed $550 worth of food and wine, that Garcia ultimately paid for. The accounting presented here really shows the risks and rewards associated with putting on a concert back in the day (or any day).

  2. I found listings and ad in Good Times, but nothing in Sundaz or the Sentinel. The ad has a nice tree-dragon design signed by "Robert Otis Holter". I had said I was not aware of a handbill - this was the same design as a handbill I saw in the GD Archives, a perfect, beautiful little piece of paper in an envelope, surrounded by dusty files.

  3. Sophie's show wasn't cancelled. I was there.

  4. Not only that, there is tape! Not sure what I was getting at there. Thanks!


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