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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Merl Saunders - May 28, 1972

Corry has done more than anyone to probe into the relative blank spot that is summer 1972 for the Jerry Garcia - Merl Saunders live aggregation.
As Corry says in the latter post, linking to the former: "there were almost no Garcia-Saunders shows in 1972, save for a two-week window in late June-early July, when Kahn and Saunders seem to have been back in town."

I have nothing major to add, just a tiny listing I found for Merl to play in the City on 5/28/72:

May 28, 1972: Merl Saunders and Friends and the Flowing Stream Ensemble, S.F. Museum of Art, McAllister at Van Ness, 2-4 pm, free.

I suspect that careful work spinning through SF Chronicle listings (which has not been done, to my knowledge, for the 1971ff period which interests me) will uncover more. In the meantime, here's a random one.


  1. Are we presuming that "Merl Saunders & Friends" means it's not Garcia/Saunders? Was Jerry back in the US? The thought of him playing the SF Museum of Art two days after 5/26/72 is too much to handle.

    And, I couldn't resist... turns out there are live recordings of the Flowing Stream Ensemble at Here they are six months after this gig with Merl & co:

  2. It is a tempting thought to wonder if Garcia was around. I just don't know.

  3. All this is quite fascinating. What we know is that John Kahn went to Woodstock to play with Paul Butterfield and eventually got Merl in the band as well. However, based on your research, it suggests that Merl may not have been in Woodstock until after July. Indeed, the July 5 '72 session in SF (for the "Steelyard Blues" soundtrack) may have been Merl's audition for Butterfield.

    I dont think the Butterfield Blues Band actually played any East Coast shows until about November, by which time Kahn and Saunders had returned. There were problems with Butter's label (Bearsville) and apparently the finances were questionable. In any case that was Kahn's stated reason for returning to SF, but since everyone on Bearsville sued, it was probably a good decision.

  4. According to the advance itinerary for the Europe 72 tour the Dead were planning to spend June 1 to 5 in an unspecified London studio and fly home on the 6th. I don't know if this is what actually happened, maybe they mixed the Wembley Dark Star for the Glastonbury album in London or maybe they flew straight back after the Lyceum shows. They had to wait for a connecting flight in New York and sit thru' a Rakow presentation in the TWA lounge. It seems pretty tight to play London on the Friday night and be back in SF in time for a 2pm Sunday show. It is possible with the 8 hour time difference tho'

  5. Blair Jackson writes, "There was a plan afoot before the tour for the Dead to spend a few days in London after the Lyceum shows, to do some recording at Olympic Studios, but that was abandoned early on. The British engineers they wanted to work with weren’t available..."

    They did mix the track for the Glastonbury Fair album while they were playing at the Lyceum - Alan Trist wrote that they "went down to a studio in Soho to mix a track from the earlier Wembley Stadium concerts."
    Assuming Trist knows his London districts, this wouldn't have been Olympic Studios (which is over in Barnes); but Trident Studios was in Soho.
    In any case, I don't know just what day the Dead flew back, but the June studio dates were evidently canceled.

    1. (In a trivia note, Bob Matthews & Betty Cantor had recorded a Stoneground album at Trident Studios a couple years earlier, so they would've been familiar with that studio.)

  6. BTW, the point of the post was not to suggest Jerry was there, it was only to see what we could find out about Merl that year. There's so much we still don't know!

  7. So you probably all have this one down...but i was in Berkeley in Aug of 72 and went to see Jerry, Merl, Ton Fogerty, john Kahn and Bill Vitt at the Keystone - day before the Dead played San Jose, and then followed with 4 nights at the Berkley community theater...They were billed as the group as i recall...very, very sweet show..played pool with Gracia between sets...

  8. Shot pool with him, huh? That is so cool.

    From The List, it looks like you saw Friday 8/18/72 at Keystone, then GD played San Jose on 8/20.

    Do you remember anything they played?

  9. i remember It takes a Lot to Laugh, Second that Emotion, Expressway to Your Heart, pretty sure they did Its No Use, Like A Road, and for sure some of Merl's stuff...Playing pool in between sets seemed like a natural thing at that time at that backstage scene...he and the band just hung out in the back of the room space where the pool table was and the club only held maybe 2-300 fact after the show - when I went to get in our car Garcia was parked right in front of us on University Ave. and was leaving at the same time (small little volvo if i remember correctly) It was a blissful time for music for sure...


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