Thursday, March 31, 2011

GD19710903-4: Harding Theater, SF, CA

Here's another one that puzzles me. This scan from the Berkeley Tribe v.6 n.4 (issue #110) (September 3-9, 1971), p. 13 advertises a benefit for Marin County Head Start featuring Grateful Dead, Howard Wales and Shades of Joy on Friday-Saturday, September 3-4, 1971 at the Harding Theater in San Francisco.

Why post? A few reasons.

First, this is not a Grateful Dead date that's known to me, so it's interesting in that regard. I don't have anything else going on for Jerry on this weekend, so it fits in the schedule. I have an unknown NRPS gig listed for September 5 (Sunday), no venue or other info ... no idea where that comes from. I show Garcia and Saunders at the Harding Theater on September 10 and the NRPS there on September 23. This is an odd little cluster of shows at this venue which begs an explanation, I think, but in any case another couple of gigs fit this little pattern.

Second, last year I had posted on a listing in the (San Rafael) Pacific Sun for a Grateful Dead gig at Marin Vets on 11/28/71 to benefit, you guessed it, Head Start. Nothing more ever turned up and, as Corry said in comments, it seems unlikely that the event happened. But it's weird to find another Head Start connection from just a few months before.

Third, the presence of Howard Wales on the bill is especially interesting. LIA has been writing some incredibly rich posts on the Hartbeats, the surface of which I have barely scratched. In his post on the July 1970 "Hartbeats" gigs, he a) mentions the story that Wales once had an audition with the Grateful Dead; b) notes McNally's timeframe for this of September 1971; but c) speculates that, instead, the Wales audition took place around July 1970 instead. Now here we have a Grateful Dead/Wales co-billing, in September 1971, in the same month during which we know the Grateful Dead were rehearsing their new keyboard player, who turned out to be Keith Godchaux.

The listing that forms the object of this post makes me return to the September 1971 time frame for Howard's GD "audition". Let me go a step further ... the story of Keith becoming a member of the GD is well known. Here's how Donna relates it, from Blair Jackson's fantastic cutting room floor, once she and Keith had flashed on him playing with the GD.
"We went home, looked in the paper and saw that Garcia's band was playing at the Keystone, so we went down, of course. At the break, Garcia walked by going backstage, so I grabbed him and said, 'Jerry, my husband and I have something very important to talk to you about.' And he said, 'Sure.' I didn't realize that everyone does that to him. So Garcia told us to come backstage, but we were both too scared, so we didn't. A few minutes later, Garcia came up and sat next to Keith, and I said, 'Honey, I think Garcia wants to talk to you. He's sitting right next to you.' He looked over at Jerry and looked back at me and dropped his head on the table and said, 'You're going to have to talk to my wife. I can't talk to you right now.' He was just too shy. He was very strong but he couldn't handle that sort of thing. So I said to Jerry, 'Well, Keith's your piano player, so I want your home telephone number so I can call you up and come to the next Grateful Dead practice.' And he believed me! He gave me his number."

(Actually, Keith was not completely unknown in the Grateful Dead world. Betty Cantor had used him on a studio session for a record by James & the Good Brothers and thought very highly of him.)
(That last bit isn't especially germane, but I wanted to note the James & The Good Brothers connection, having just posted on it, and note further that, per Matt Scofield's deaddisc, Keith is not credited on that album. FYI, FWIW, etc.)

Why do I quote that at such length? Well, I observe that Garcia and Saunders played the Keystone Korner on September 16, 1971 (listing in Hayward Daily Review, September 16, 1971, p. 25). I note that circulating recordings of Keith's GD rehearsals are dated from September 27. So, wild speculation time, friends and neighbors: I suggest that September 3-4 at the Harding were the tryouts with Wales, that it didn't go especially well, that Keith and Donna buttonholed Jerry on September 16, and that Keith started in not more than 11 days later with the Grateful Dead. How's that for an extrapolation?!?

I also wonder, compounding speculation with speculation, if all of this might not tie into all of the record company backing and forthing and the relatively long gestation period of Hooteroll? (remember -- All Hooteroll?, All The Time!), which wasn't released until December. Again, I know I am going way beyond the evidence, but isn't it also interesting that Shades of Joy is on this bill, another Douglas Records client?

Sorry to throw so much out there with this. Anyway, here's an attempt at a summary of what this post does:
  • identifies previously unknown GD gig
  • may well pin down the date of Howard Wales's "audition" with the GD
  • may well pin down the "when Keith & Donna met Jerry" date at Keystone Korner
  • may well identify some connections between all of this and the record company scramble around this whole group of people around this time.
OK, 'nuff for now, I guess. The Berkeley Tribe is a masterpiece!


  1. Ah yes, back to Hooteroll. Very good.

    No matter what this was, it's not nothing. Even if the show was never played, it's not nothing. Maybe the show was scheduled, the Dead had a rehearsal/jam with Wales and knocked it on the head, so it never happened, but its still not nothing.

    Certainly it would have been very attractive to Clive Davis if the Dead's new keyboard player was signed to Columbia. It could have been worked out contractually (lots of bands had such arrangements) but it would have put Clive in the tent.

    I find your argument about Howard Wales sitting in around September '71 pretty convincing, whether it was in rehearsal or at the Harding. I suspect that the Harding was very cheap to rent at the time, so it made a good temporary venue for the band.

    From my point of view, buying into the Wales/71 theory doesn't discount Wales jamming with "The Hartbeats" in July 1970, in fact in some ways it encourages it. The Dead would have needed a new keyboard player even more in 1971, with only one drummer and practically no Pigpen.

  2. Did you notice in the column in the upper left that "reliable sources" say that for the recent two night stand at Berkeley Community Theater (Aug 14-15 '71), the Dead got $21,000 and Bill Graham netted $3000?

  3. An interesting thing to consider is that it appears that the Dead or a Dead-related entity seems to have booked a show most weekends in September in 1971. Remember that the Fillmore West was closed, so casual benefits could not be tossed off there on a Wednesday night.

    Also, with a BGP show booked on Aug 14-15, the Dead benefit could not have been advertised prior to that time, due to contractual obligations. Perhaps the Dead were looking into renting the space on a regular or permanent basis, or something? Its quite odd to have a Dead show, a JGMS show and a NRPS show booked in the same venue in the same month.

    There's definitely more than meets the eye. Where were the Dead rehearsing in September '71? Santa Venetia Armory?

  4. re the BCT money, that's why I like posting 600 dpi, uncropped stuff. Nice catch! Further, God knows there's more in those pages than what's directly relevant to what we do, and preserving that stuff is nice, too.

  5. Yes, Santa Venetia Armory for the rehearsals. So say the tape labels.

    I think I drove around trying to see that hall last summer, but didn't quite manage it. Or something.

    Let's also open the lens to 11/6-7/71. Did the NRPS really play these? Supposedly, but we have zero evidence of it. What's up with the FM broadcast on 11/7? Who paid for that? The Grateful Dead in a sweet little theater in late 1971 .... mmmm ... sounds very nice. But it doesn't sound particularly feasible.

    And then let's remember that little Manhattan Center NRPS listing from this time period that turned up. Again, lots of record company stuff swirling around in this particular moment.

    Almost forgot: LIA, I hope you see this: where can one find text of the 11/7/71 Harding Theater interview that you mentioned within the last week or so?

  6. Warner Brothers paid for the broadcast of 11-7-71 Harding, no question. I haven't gotten to that year in my "FM Broadcast" series, but i can make a definitive case for it.

    Were there ads for the Harding Theater 11-6/7 shows? Who was the promoter?

  7. Here is some insight from the only review I know of from the Nov. '71 GD sets. The show review materials are from 11/7. Note that there is not a single mention of the NRPS. Given the context of the review, That leads me to think that there was no Riders set. Thoughts?

    Anyway, "reading notes" follow:

    Grushkin, Paul. D., and Kate Rosenbloom. 1971. Live Dead at the Harding. Stanford Daily (November 11, 1971), unknown page.

    Harding Theater hasn’t been known for staging any notable rock, soul, etc. gigs, except maybe Curtis Mayfield and Hugh Masakela.

    “Tiny, community-oriented theater in the primarily black Fillmore district. It’s an absolutely wonderful little place. There are old, wood-paneled doors; a big, weathered marquee outside; an airy lobby with a nice rug; very passable acoustics in a fairy unadorned theater proper; and maybe 500 roomy seats on the ground floor. Upstairs, in the balcony, are perhaps 300 huge, plush seats cum sofas, sporting such niceties as double legroom, padded arm rests, and seat backs (to rest one’s head), and a perfect view of the stage from every angle.”

    “A lot of us, you see, still can’t quite believe that the Grateful Dead … played the Harding this past Saturday and Sunday nights. Essentially it’s like bopping down to the local Bijou to catch the Stones. But the Dead simply called it “a little party for our friends. KSFX-FM (103.7) also live broadcast the Sunday night gig.

    “it was the truly faithful who made it to the Harding last weekend”

    “the Dead at the little Harding? That combination was almost too much to take.”

    “the Dead family decided to rent out the Harding for a two-night ‘party’. It was cheaply acquired, small, and it gave them their chance to do a live broadcast, without the hassles of Winterland, KSAN, and Bill Graham. Rock Scully, the Dead’s manager, contacted Eric Christensen of KSFX, the ABC-affiliated station that, along with WPLJ in New York, has been returning a measure of the old-time greatness to rock radio.”

    Then there is a detailed description of the setlist. The light show is mentioned. But note that there is no mention of a NRPS set. “Backed by one of the finer light shows produced this year, courtesy of Heavy Water, the Dead opened with ‘Truckin’.”

  8. A few quick comments -

    This find is big news. It totally makes sense as a Wales/Dead tryout, whether canceled or not. Just showing that they PLANNED to play together, Weir's audition story now makes more sense.

    I think it's very likely it was canceled, though, as it's hard to believe a SAN FRANCISCO Dead show from late '71 would have vanished from all record.

    The Jerrysite notes that when NRPS played the Harding on 9/23/71, "there were only 20 to 30 people in the audience"...

    Hooteroll was released in September '71, not December.

    It is very interesting indeed that Shades of Joy was billed along with Wales - it's practically a Douglas Records promotional appearance!
    On the other hand, it would make sense if they'd been in the studio together - "hey, come along" - without any other Douglas connection.

    Re: the 11/7/71 interview - I'm actually not sure about that. I only heard about it through a comment from Michael Parrish, so I'm not even sure there was one, and I don't know of a recording.

  9. After some searching, I still find no evidence there was an 11/7/71 interview - though granted, there may have been one on the FM broadcast that's not included on our show copies.

    There was, however, an interview with Garcia before the 10/19/71 show. Strangely enough, it's found not with copies of the GD show, but usually as filler after NRPS's show....I haven't heard it.

  10. I went to the 11/7/71 show with my dad and a friend from Stanford. I'll blog about it eventually, but I can confirm (once again) that the NRPS did not play that night. It was a long, very relaxed evening with just the Dead. Miraculously, my non-techie mom made a very passable FM tape of the show, which was the principal circulating source of this show for quite a while. Unfortuately, I no longer have my reel to reel deck or reels.

    Before the show, the KSFX DJ did a very brief interview with Jerry, which included an exchange I will attempt to paraphrase here.

    DJ: You've played with a lot of guests over the years. Didn't Vince Guaraldi even sit in with you?

    JG: Yeah, that was fun. Haven't seen Vince for awhile though.

    I took this to mean that it might have been quite a bit earlier when Guaraldi played with JG or the Dead. Other than a mention on the Guaraldi website that he played with the Dead, along with the speculations on various blogs,this seems to be the only evidence around of Guaraldi playing with the Dead.

  11. Thank you for that information, cryptdev. A few follow ups, if I may.

    First, your FM recording may well have sourced the cassettes that sourced my cassettes, which were among that paper bag full of tapes I mentioned in my post on Duke 4/24/71. So, thank you!

    Second, thank you for the information about Guaraldi. This is the best-sourced piece so far, and I agree it makes it sound like the engagement was earlier. (As I think LIA noted somewhere, the fact that Guaraldi was on the cover of Aoxomoxoa, which was released June of '69, may indicate the timeframe that we should be thinking about.)

    Third, the NRPS piece is critical, too. Do you happen to know if they played the night before? My lists have still showed NRPS at the Harding Nov. 6-7, with Garcia on steel. But the dearth of evidence has always made me suspicious of these dates.

    There's a bigger point: there are lots of interpolations in the existing NRPS 1971 tour histories, with whole tours "assumed" to have NRPS sets. This needs to be gone through show-by-show, at some point.

    (That last in "note to self" mode, of course ...)

    Thanks again for sharing, cryptdev.

  12. Vince Guaraldi was on the cover of Aoxomoxoa? No way! That would be news to me...

    I did mention in a couple of the Lost Live Dead comments, though, that we have attestation from multiple sources that Vince did play with the Dead (as opposed to just Garcia), and zero confirmation as to just when that happened...

    The main comment thread was here -

    To me it sounds like Guaraldi jammed with both Jerry (at the Matrix in mid-'70, as John Kahn said, and perhaps in '69), and with the Dead (at unknown shows).
    The sources:
    1. Jerry said in the 11/7/71 interview that Guaraldi had sat in (though, not knowing the context, I'm not sure if he was referring to Dead or to Matrix shows).
    2. Online bios for Guaraldi say he played piano at several Dead shows in the Bay Area circa '71. Maybe Vince himself claimed this - where they got this info is unknown, and it would be suspect internet gossip except...
    3. Dennis McNally also had knowledge of this (but failed to mention it in his book).
    4. And Tom Constanten also referred to it (which suggests that it happened at least once in '69, during TC's tenure).

    Maybe more pieces will be added to this puzzle at some point. It baffles me that there's no concrete evidence for a single show where it happened; hardly even an anecdote. We're free to guess furiously, though! (4/15/70 was one such guess, but only a guess.)

  13. "Vince Guaraldi was on the cover of Aoxomoxoa? No way! That would be news to me... "

    Yeah, cover, heh heh. But didn't you say he was in a photograph related to Aoxomoxoa.

    I have been drafting a post to consolidate what has been said about Guaraldi and Garcia, but that set keeps growing.

  14. Never wrote about a Vince photo, no...
    Somewhere I did write about Courtney Love on the cover of Aoxomoxoa - slightly different type of musician, though...

  15. Goodness I am going nuts. Somewhere, sometime within the last week or so, I read that on the back cover of the HDCD reissue of Aoxomoxoa (Rhino R2 74401-D, 2001), it's Guaraldi in the very back, standing by the horse. I don't have the vinyl to compare but I remember it as the same scoped image with "Courtney Love" in the front, allegedly.

  16. I'm afraid I have no idea if the NRPS played on 11/6. It was years after the 11/7 show (the Deadbase era) when I even knew there was a show on the 6th. There was certainly no extra equipment onstage on 11/7, but certainly the Riders would have struck their gear Saturday night if they weren't scheduled to play Sunday. They did tend to turn up at the odd night on Dead gigs - the purported performance on 2/7/70 comes to mind, and they also showed up, with the show starting an hour earlier than the advertised time, for the last BCT show in 1972 (8/25), so anything is possible.

  17. Interesting.

    How did you hear about the November 7, 1971 show?

  18. To add confusion, a listing in the Berkeley Night Times bills NRPS at the Lion's Share September 2-4, 1971. The NT is dated 9/1, and the BB is dated 9/3, and I would normally go with the later published listing. But it just seems so unlikely that the Dead played the Harding on these nights ... thoughts?

  19. I saw the dead at the Harding a 2 night run if memory serves it was before they went to Europe. Great venue shows were barely announced

  20. They played there November 6-7, 1971. I assume those are the shows you saw?


    Holloway 1972, an interview with Bob Weir.

    HOLLOWAY: What was the reason for Keith coming in on keyboards?
    WEIR: I think it happened like this. Pigpen got sick and we were about to do a tour, so we needed somebody. And just about that time, Garcia had met, and I think worked, with Keith in San Francisco. ... Garcia suggested we give Keith a listen,
    and he sounded good to everybody, so we just worked him in. It was a short notice, but he was incredibly adept. He picked up on everything fast."

  22. I just noticed that I have a listing for JGMS at the Lion's Share September 2-4, 1971 from a listing in Night Times, September 1, 1971, p. 7. The Dead at Harding thing comes from an in Berkeley Tribe v.6 n.4 (issue #110) (September 3-9, 1971), p. 13. Even though the Tribe was published later, I think Ross might say that these ads were likely in before the listing at Night Times would have been received. On those grounds, you may be right that the Harding gigs were canceled, or just became a sort of closed Howard Wales tryout. I can't list it as canceled yet, I don't think.


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