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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Reconstruction: June 8, 1979, venue question

Still can't believe how little I've had to say about Reconstruction. All in due time, I guess.

Anyway, a quickie: I think the correct venue for the June 8, 1979 Reconstruction show is probably the Rio Theater (140 Parker Avenue, Rodeo, CA, 94572). Here's how it looks today:

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This is based on the image below, a calendar item from the Contra Costa Times of June 8, 1979 (p. 37) that lists it that way.

By contrast, I have never seen any firm evidence for a listing at the Rheem Theater. That's how it's listed at TJS, and that's how it is listed on circulating tapes (e.g., shnid 23675). I suspect those two data are not independent of each other. In any case, I'd guess that there was a (perfectly understandable) transposition of Rheem Theater for Rio Theater somewhere along the line.

I didn't crop the listing too closely, for a few reasons. First, there's just other stuff in there and you never know who'll find something interesting. Second, and maybe this is more because I am listening to some Buck Owens, but it reminds me of how "country" some of Contra Costa County still was in 1979. I haven't been to Rodeo in forever and maybe it hasn't changed at all (based on the Google Earth image above, it doesn't look like it!). But most of CCC is completely transformed since that time period, and its interesting to remember what a hinterland it was in the late 70s. Third, I wanted to give a sense of the degraded quality of the microfilms of the Contra Costa Times are a the central CCC library in Pleasant Hill. I certainly don't blame the facility nor, especially, the librarians - there's clearly no money being devoted to that stuff. But this wealth of historic material may just disappear one day due to budget cuts. [soapbox] Please consider donating to your local library! [/soapbox]

Was anyone there? Has anyone ever seen any other hard evidence of this show taking place at the Rheem?

Rio Theater seemed like a weird little spot, which is kind of a microcosm for how Rodeo strikes me. I'd bet more time looking through the Contra Costa Times listings would reveal lots of stuff (at the Rio and elsewhere). Rock Prosopography lists an 8/10/69 show there by Sons Of Champlin and South Bay Experimental Flash, and LLD lists a March 4, 1978 Hunter and Comfort/Peter Rowan gig. Somewhere I have a note or two about the venue. Anyway, I guess it made sense for them to advertise in the Times, which always seemed more East county centered (Lamorinda, Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill, Concord, even Antioch). There are some pretty weird east bay backroads between those towns and Rodeo, and back at that time there wasn't necessarily a whole lot of police presence on them - could be fun to drive a little, see a show, and all that.

Anyway, consider this my argument in favor of changing the venue for this show from Rheem Theater, Moraga, to Rio Theater, Rodeo.


  1. The Rio Theater was a regular late 70s rock venue, and Rheem Theater was not. Note that Gregg Douglas ("Jungle Love" writer, ex-Steve Miller Band, ex-Hot Tuna, ex-Country Weather, etc) is playing the night after Reconstruction.

    I think the marking of the tape as Rheem was just a mistake by some East Coaster. I used to be foggy about the difference between Jersey City and Passaic, but they aren't actually anywhere near each other.

    Southern Contra Costa was indeed another world back then. I wonder what Wild Bill Belcher sounded like?

  2. If you look just above the Wild Bill Belcher ad, there's an ad for a Moraga restaurant called Mondello's, at 337 Rheem Blvd. Turns out it's still there (, so not everything changes.

  3. Yeah, I am sure I ate at Mondello's a time or two, but can't distinctly remember. Definitely a Rheem institution. Rheem hasn't changed all that much, though the drugstore that served 15 cent ice scream scoops into the early 1980s is gone. The ice cream was surprisingly good, and the scoops had that distinctive tubular form, like a core sample from the big tub of ice cream. Now, what the heck was the name of that drugstore?

    Would you agree that this evidence is sufficient to change the venue designated for this date?

    I really wanted it to be the Rheem Theater, both because I have local connections there and because the Rheem show from Feb. 9, 1974 was one of my earliest Garcia/Saunders tapes (besides the Live at Keystone releases). But, anyway, it is what it is.

  4. I am very confident that the 1979 Reconstruction show was at the Rio Theater, not the Rheem Theater. Rio Theater was a regular rock venue in the late 70s/early 80s; Rheem Theater was almost never used.

    The only other rock show I have ever confirmed at the Rheem Theater besides the 2/9/74 Garcia show was a 9/9/73 Boz Scaggs show. I really don't think the Rheem Theater was used for rock shows in '79.

  5. Reconstruction at The Rio
    6/8/79 ?

    Rio Theatre
    140 Parker Avenue
    Rodeo, CA 94572
    Capacity 425

    This was a theater located in the town of Rodeo, on it's main street in it's business district.
    Today, the theater is used as a church while there are many vacant storefronts in the surrounding area.

    I attended at least two of these shows.
    At one of the shows the opening act was called Attitude.
    The other memory: Alicen the Screecher shows up for the first time? She gets in line behind me with her entourage of beauties, all dressed in fine attire, and all of a sudden a butterfly lands on her shoulder. She saw it land as if she willed it there!

    I have some images to share but can't seem to put them on this page.

  6. Please send images by email ... my email should be linked to my name/profile.



  8. hey jgmf, i was at the reconstruction show at the rio theater in rodeo. it was definitely the rio in rodeo. it had a deeply sloping pit where the orchestra seats used to be, so dancers gradually sank downhill until crushed into the scrum at the front of the stage. it was no big deal because we spilled out stage left or right depending on which way the scrum was surging. i recall cycling through this flow down process and ejecting out to the side aisle a half dozen times during the show. i also attended reconstruction gigs that same season at keystone palo alto and keystone berkeley. at berkeley jerry wasn't feeling well. reconstruction played a short set after the break. jerry was noticeably fading. halfway through one song, jerry briefly snapped out of it. he got a serious look on his face, became noticeably present, played a magnificently expressive and melodic solo, the band closed the song, and jerry walked off not too steady, not looking so good. it was awesome musicality considering he wasn't all there that evening.

    1. I was there too. The black horn player wore his black t-shirt with white letters "Disco Sucks" and was front and center. I actually got jerry and the band including John Kahn high on cocaine between sets. 2nd set opened with rendition of Dear Prudence, during which Jerry sort of swallowed his voice and was froggy, which I attribute, then and now, to the cocaine drip down back of throat because same thing was happening to me. Steve Parish, Jerry's roadie/doorman let me pass thru to the backstage area, which was really was thru a door off to left side of stage and in front of it. I wore my girlfriend's silk kimono over top of a glittered shirt that said ISIS as in the Egyptian goddess of birth and re-death as I characterized it then. Tadeusz, deadhead from Poland had talked us into going so we could give him a ride to the show from the Haight, where we lived. Jerry's conversation with me consisted of, speaking for the whole band, "I think we got room for one more", in response as to my opening gambit of asking if they--addressed to Jerry--wanted a line. I laid out a one+one (2 lines) for everyone in the crowded small backstage room. Jerry giggled after he said it as John Khan looked on with interest, standing closest to, and a lttle behind Jerry). I laid out the lines and passed it first to Jerry. He looked at it and handed it back to me and asked if I could chop it up a little finer. It was kinda rocky mother of pearl. One of my claims to fame.

    2. That's a great story. I can really picture it. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Will, thanks so much for sharing your recollections. Any chance you have ticket stubs that might help you pin down precise dates? Thanks!

  10. I confirm that this gig took place I was there, but more importantly my then gf Harriet who was also there says it was. Here's my story


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