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Monday, June 21, 2010

JGMS: October 3, 1971, Frost Ampitheater, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA

Garcia and Saunders played the Pamoja Jazz Concert on October 3, 1971 at Frost Ampitheater, sharing a bill with Big Black and the Bobby Hutcherson - Harold Land Quintet. Love that jazz billing.

Anyway, for a long time I have been aware of a show review by Paul Grushkin from the Stanford Daily a few days later (1). I think I learned of it in the wonderful (though in need of an update!) Dodd and Weiner bibliography (2). I have been after it, but Stanford doesn't seem to play nicely on interlibrary loan and the Daily doesn't seem to have been sent to many other university libraries. Anyway, with the help of Corry and another generous soul I have gotten a hold of it. [update: now available online - ain't progress grand?] I had been hoping for some setlist information, but alas there was none to be found.

Instead, there are a few other tidbits, both of which appear in the clipping below, which is discussing Garcia and Saunders.

From the back, I wonder who this Charlie Conn is? At first I thought it might be a rare case of Jerry playing with a bassist other than John Kahn, but the homonymy --five dollar word alert-- of "Conn" and "Kahn" makes me wonder if Charlie is John misunderstood or if some Pranksters were afoot or something.

Of greater interest is this: Garcia and Saunders "played a memorable week-long stand last April at the Matrix." Now, the meaning of "last" in this context in American English is a little fuzzy, so this could be April 1971 or April 1970. April of 1971 is booked with astonishing solidity by the Grateful Dead. April 1970 hardly seems more likely, based on the existing state of our knowledge. Not only is the month fully booked, but this seems still to have been the Wales period, with known Wales/Garcia billings happening and no Garcia/Saunders ones for another six months.

So whatever Grushkin is referring to here, it doesn't seem to be April 1970 or 1971. What could he be referring to instead?

I'd like to propose May 1971, so that when Grushkin said "last April" he meant "last May" in the sense of "the last May that passed [1971]" and not "May of the last calendar year [1970]". Why? Well, looking at my Garcia spreadsheet, May 1971 is among the most sparsely populated non-coma months, and yet we know that the man was a pickin' fool at this time.

After the GD Fillmore East run that ends 4/29, I have a JGMS listing on 5/11 at the Matrix, a three-night JGMS stand at Keystone Korner from 5/20-22, another JGMS at the Korner on 5/26, and then the seemingly pretty wacky Winterland shows at the end of the month. To reiterate, that's a suspiciously empty month for live gigs.

Not sure what else he was doing (e.g., working on Skullfuck?), but it's entirely possible that there were more Garcia/Saunders gigs during May 1971. There is certainly room in Jerry's calendar (as far as is known) for a weeklong stand at the Matrix. The alternative may perhaps be that Grushkin is referring to the multinight run at the Keystone Korner, which might transmogrify into a weeklong stand at the Matrix (the previous month) under the right ... conditions. So I'll keep my eyes open for more in May.

Update: I have researched the last few months of Matrix gigs in the SFC, and I don't find anything that fits the bill. I have to check the Examiner. But this still remains a little bit of a head-scratcher.

Caveats, criticisms, questions, codicils, cavils and other commentary most certainly welcomed.

- (1) Grushkin, Paul D. 1971. Garcia, Saunders Impressive at Frost. Stanford Daily, October 5, 19715.
- (2) Dodd, David G., and Robert G. Weiner. 1997. The Grateful Dead and the Deadheads: An Annotated Bibliography. Music Reference Collection no. 60. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

! venue:


  1. I'm with you on "Charlie Conn" being a misunderstood reference to John Kahn, as Conn and Kahn are just too close.

    The tidbit I found interesting was that at this mythical weeklong stand at the Matrix or Keystone Korner or wherever, Saunders was playing bass (on the organ with his foot pedals). I would have to assume that Kahn was booked somehow, and Saunders just covered.

    Saunders had played in organ trios for many years, so he could certainly do it, but it would make a very different sound to the group.

  2. The Matrix may have been closed by April 1971. This would suggest that either

    The stand was at the Keystone Korner earlier in 1971, or

    Garcia/Saunders played the Matrix in 1970, but not in April

  3. Well, now, that the Matrix was closed by 4/71 is a fact that has somehow slipped my attention. There are ads for Garcia/Saunders on March 2-3, 1971 (though the latter date is obviously problematic since GD were at Fillmore West).

    When, precisely, did the Matrix close? Can't believe I don't know that. I was going on the 5/11/71 "Matrix" JGMS show as an outer limit.

  4. I went to this show and can confirm that it was John Kahn on bass. The Garcia-Saunders set was just about an hour - very short but consistent with the multiple acts and the relatively early October sunset.

    Partial Setlist:
    One Kind Favor
    Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

    There were several other instrumentals, but One Kind Favor and Dixie were the only vocals.

  5. Thanks for posting that, cryptdev! Did you attend any other Garcia/Saunders shows around this time? There is so little setlist information from this time period ...

  6. I was too young to get into the shows in bars, so I didn't get to see many Garcia-Saunders shows until late 1974. I did see them at the San Jose Civic Auditorium 7/1/72, still with Fogerty and, I believe, Vitt. I'm pretty sure it was a two set show, also including 'Dixie" and "How Sweet It Is,' but that's about all I can recall. Obviously Garcia liked the venue as the Dead ended up playing there the next month, an eleventh hour addition to the schedule after the BCT shows went on sale.

  7. From a preview a few days before the show:

    "This first concert [in the Pamoja Sunday jazz series at Stanford] will not be affected by the University's current moratorium on rock concerts in Frost, imposed after violence marred a summer Cold Blood-Elvin Bishop concert there. A Grateful Dead concert that had been tentatively planned for this week has been indefinitely postponed until the Committee of Public Events studies the situation this fall. There is a slight possibility the Dead will play in Maples Pavilion this fall."

    A few things here. First, note JG sort of subbing in for the Dead, in an oblique way. Second, I didn't know about a tentatively planned GD gig at Stanford in early fall 1971. It may have been quite tentative, and that's why. Third, of course, eventually the Dead wouldn't play Maples until 2/9/73.

    Grushkin, Paul D. 1971a. Jazz, Garcia on Tap Sunday. Stanford Daily, September 29, p. 7.

  8. "The student sponsors of the Sunday jazz concerts have taken the Swahili name Pamoja Na Nafase, which means 'together with opportunity'. Their aim is to provide a steady source of funds for minority scholarships through a string of concerts and a night club for black artists in the campus Women's Clubhouse."

    "Everyone should bring blankets, a picnic lunch, and be ready to enjoy a rewarding afternoon of authentic up-to-date black jazz from the finest artists available", said one principal.

    The race angle is interesting to me, natch (let's ... classify!). The May 29-30, 1973 Garcia-Saunders gigs at the Ash Grove were part of a black music series, and I am sure there are others. It would be complicated to debate the racial "authenticity" of The Group, comprised of Garcia (white), Vitt (white), Fogerty (white), Kahn (adopted, so not sure what a DNA test would have revealed in terms of ancestry, could be anything), and, one black player, whom Grushkin describes as "San Francisco's venerable organist, Merle [sic] Saunders". These guys were all immersed in the beautiful pan-racial rainbow of American music, naturally enough. And Merl's originals from the period, such as "Save Mother Earth" and "Man-Child" achieved a real inner city vibe, whatever the socioeconomics of the players. I love it, I don't object, myself, to the most encompassing definition possible of "up to date black jazz". The more the merrier, say I.

    Grushkin, Paul D. 1971a. Jazz, Garcia on Tap Sunday. Stanford Daily, September 29, p. 7.

  9. More on the planned 1971 Dead gig at Frost - from an article in the 8/10/71 edition of the Stanford Daily:

    "Violence and other trouble at a July 18th concert in Frost Ampitheater has apparently expedited a moratorium on rock concerts in the ampitheater. The moratorium has evidently been contemplated for quite awhile, but the final decision by Director of Public Events Tom Bacchetti to impose it was speeded by problems at last month’s Cold Blood-Elvin Bishop concert.
    Non-rock events such as the Joan Baez and Arthur Fiedler concerts will not be affected, nor will rock concerts in other locations, such as Maples Pavilion. But no rock events will be staged in Frost until after an investigation is made by the Committee of Public Events this fall. [ . . . ]
    At the Cold Blood show, a number of problems arose including the burglary of a concession truck, the collapse of a tree limb filled with people and fighting, which flared up throughout the later stages of the afternoon.
    The fighting involved only a few of the greater than 12,000 people in attendance, but what did occur was bloody and violent. No one was seriously injured, but a few people had to be treated at Stanford Hospital. [ . . . ]
    No concerts had been scheduled for the rest of the summer but a rumored Stanford Legal Defense concert featuring the Grateful Dead, which was being considered for September 26th, will apparently have to be postponed or cancelled since Bacchetti says that no rock shows will be presented until the committee has studied the situation this fall.
    Bacchetti said that he had been approached by a potential promoter of the Dead show who had wanted to know if the show could be presented if the Dead performed "folk" music. Bacchetti said that he considered the chances "very slim" and added that the promoters would "have to do a lot of convincing.""
    (Don Tollefson, “Moratorium Set On Frost Rock Concerts,” Stanford Daily 8/10/71)

    The next show allowed at Frost, oddly enough, was a Miles Davis/New Riders pairing on October 1, 1972. But there were crowd problems at that show, too, so rock concerts at Frost were promptly banned again, for a while.

    So, to summarize:
    - as of mid-summer '71, the Dead had a show planned at Frost on 9/26/71 (said to be a benefit for Stanford Legal Defense).
    - it was indefinitely postponed (in effect, cancelled) the first week of August.
    - an unnamed promoter nonetheless asked if the Dead could still play the Frost if they played "folk music."
    - the Dead considered playing at Maples Pavilion instead at some point that fall, but that was postponed for a year and a half. (Perhaps there was more university resistance.)


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