Saturday, August 06, 2011

OAITW: June 11, 1973, Temple University-Ambler, Ambler, PA

This show (OAITW: June 11, 1973, Temple Festival Theater, Ambler, PA) will end up being important to me, I think, as I write more about OAITW and the summer of 1973. Can't wait.

For now, I just want to address venue confusion.

**update: it was definitely in an amphitheater, not an enclosed theater - thanks to attendee/commenter Gr8fulD for further confirmation**

The Jerry Site's data are presently a mess. Here are the two "changes" that have been noted at the Jerry Site's entry for the show:

  • Mar 8, 2010 - [] Changed venue based on info from Hank Edenborn, "The venue for the show below was definitely the outdoor concert venue of the Temple University - Ambler Campus. The "Ambler Theater" is an indoor venue where other Dead spin-off bands may perhaps have played, but there is no way that this show was played there. I was finishing up a year at Temple University main campus at the time and it was undoubtedly how I saw the announcement for the show." 
  • Sep 10, 2008 - [] Changed venue from the Temple Festival Theater to The Ambler Theatre based on info from Harry Angus. 
 And yet the listing is still traditionally given as Temple Festival Theater.

I have one datum to ad to the mix.

Unfortunately, I don't have the reference for this. But I do have a copy of the "ad [actually a calendar listing] in June 5th edition of Philadelphia newspaper Drummer" mentioned at TJS, which I believe came from Joey Newlander. And it also says Temple Festival Theater.

Anyway, the ad contradicts the participant/Jerry Site informant's memory, and I am just not sure how to reconcile. On the one hand, you have an ad for a show which seems to be promoted by professionals ("Electric Factory Concerts presents at Temple Festival Theater"). It seems to have nothing to do with Temple University-Ambler. Yet, Hank Edenborn tells TJS that "The venue for the show below was definitely the outdoor concert venue of the Temple University - Ambler Campus", he having attended it.

In general, ex ante advertisements, especially drawn ads rather than calendar listings, probably lose out in an evidentiary test to credible eyewitness testimony. I guess I am just wondering what the hell happened between whenever the ad was submitted and June 11th. And where are we talking about? The Ambler Theater, which looks really nice on a street view, seems not to be the place under discussion (i.e., the same as the "Temple Festival Theater" named in the ad)? The only google results on "Temple Festival Theater" that are relevant go back to The Jerry Site and here. So whatever the hell this advertisement is referring to as the venue, it seems to have been lost to memory. WTF?

Here's a blurb I found from the college's web site, which  might be relevant:
For 13 years, the music played on. In 1968, the Temple University Music Festival and Institute was born at the Ambler Campus with two important goals — to serve as a school for young professional musicians and to provide several summers of world-class music. In its heyday, the Music Festival stage was graced by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, and Duke Ellington. The amphitheater placed the spotlight on rising stars such as Dionne Warwick, Johnny Mathis, and Temple’s own Bill Cosby. Area residents, and many well beyond, fondly remember the “42 Evenings of Musical Excellence” that summers at Ambler would bring.Though the location of the well-remembered Music Festival now plays host to Temple’s Owls baseball and softball teams ... 

Anyway, I guess we have to go with the eyewitness and list the venue as the "outdoor concert venue of the Temple University - Ambler Campus". Maybe, based on the text above, we could just call it "Ampitheater"? Thoughts?

Two final notes.First, I had always thought this was a bluegrass festival. Guess not. Heh heh. Second, if there were hassles with this it'd be really interesting for the narrative that is revealing itself around OAITW and the 1973 bluegrass festival season.

**update2: per commenter Gr8fulD, Doug Sahm opened**


  1. Maybe I can clear up the confusion on the OAITW concert at THE TEMPLE UNIVERSITY MUSIC FESTIVAL on June 11 1973. I was fifteen years old and it was my second concert.We had just discovered the Dead so when we heard thru the grapevine this was a Garcia side project we had to go. Due to the incredibly potent contraband being passed up and down the row, the exact details of the concert are a bit foggy, although I do remember it being a really good show.In regards to the confusion, I grew up half a mile away from the venue and saw many concerts there. The thought that they would play The Ambler Theater in ludicrus. Thats where you would go to see a movie, and it might have even been closed at that time. Hope this helps.

  2. Check out this page

    It seems to be referring to the now destroyed ampitheater where the concerts took place.

  3. Thank you so very much for sharing that link. I hope to look it over as soon as I can and update the post if at all possible. In the meantime, that link is here in comments. Thank you again.

  4. After the Dead played an amazing weekend of tripped-out music 6/9+10 at RFK (the Allmans were there too) - Jerry came up to the Temple Music Festival-an outdoor amphitheatre -located on theTemple Ambler campus at Butler Pike and Meetinghouse Rd-NOT the Ambler Theater!-an indoor movie theater-to play bluegrass on the banjo with OAITW-an amazing transition and great example of his multi-talented versatility. Doug Sahm Band opened for them who also opened the 6/10 show at RFK. I was 19 years young and I still have the ticket stub and since OAITW only played 18 shows I consider myself extremely lucky to have gone to 1 of them. I saw many othet great shows there too. and I live a mile from the site which is now a baseball field on the Temple Ambler campus and I fondly recall the OAITW show every time I drive by there which is quite often.

    1. Wonderful, thanks for the confirmation! I have updated the post.

      Not only did he do 9th and 10th at JFK and 11th at Ambler, but he did the 8th at the Whipporwill Festival in Warrenton, WV. What a four-day musical sandwich!

    2. I can tell you yes it was at the music festival. A 3,500 covered ampitheater with free outdoor lawn space for a thousand more. I worked there as did a lot of others from Upper Dublin High. On that ad it also lists the other show which the opening act was the first US appearance of Electric Light Orchestra. They blew everyone away with electric violin and chellos with a rock band. After that only a few hundred souls were left to see The Original Blues Project.

      By the way the Ambler Movie Theater was mostly closed but around the same time as these shows, I saw a concert there featuring Duck Soup but the opening act was Hall & Oats.
      They were from North Penn. That show cost 50 cents.

      The festival was there for many years summer home of the Pittsburgh Symphony (Tues.-Thur.) very eclectic shows, Dizzy Gilepsy, Arlo Guthrie, Sha Na Na, Leon Redbone. On weekends free band before shows outside.

    3. My old friend Pat Halliday I believe he was from Virginia. We had mutual friends as well as his connections in the music business . He was a Promotor at that timeframe . I used to get in for free . I believe one band he showcased was The Steve Miller Band . My only musical connection I had was because of my wife . She taught guitar lessons at The Bucks county folk shop .

  5. So, I now have a photocopy of the program for the Temple University Music Festival and Institute - 1973, which shows a seating plan for the Festival Theatre (note spelling), and also very clearly says that the festival ran that y ear from June 29 to August 11. So although Unknown posting above (11/27/2018) says "I can tell you yes it was at the music festival", I think s/he means at the Festival site. The preview in the Daily News uses the same formulation, that OAITW will play the Festival. Any chance this is a regional thing, like playing the "Temple University Music Festival" means that they'll be playing the festival's amphitheater? Or just loose language? I get that locals would probably know what was meant, and, anyway, the other previews are clearer and the program is dispositive.

    So I guess I have two things to report. 1) venue should be Festival Theatre, Temple University ["on Butler Pike, between Susquehanna and Meetinghouse Roads, in Upper Dublin Township, next to Ambler, PA", according to the program]. 2) it was not during the festival, but was a separate event. That's consistent with the Electric Factory billing in the ad.

    ! ad: unknown newspaper;
    ! listing: The Drummer, June 5, 1973;
    ! preview: "Temple Univ. Slates Festival Theater," Philadelphia Tribune, June 5, 1973, p. 15;
    ! preview: "Bluegrass Band Slated at Temple," Courier-Post, June 4, 1973, p. 3;
    ! review: Mandel, William K. 1973. Garcia Plays Bluegrass at Ambler. Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, June 13, 1973, p. unknown.

  6. BTW, three days later a Burlington County grand jury indicted Garcia on possession of 157 grams of marijuana and 1.38 grams of cocaine, from his 3/27/73 bust on the turnpike in Mount Holly, NJ.

    ! ref:"'Grateful Dead' Leader Indicted," Philadelphia Inquirer, Junn 20, 1973, p. 3B.

  7. I too was at this show. It was a very good show. Memorably, an audience member was complaining loudly about the sound. Jerry challenged him to come up and fix it if he knew so much. He did and the sound was improved.

    It was at the Temple Music Festival site. I lived a mile away from it. My friends and I spent many a night there. Once we found out that they rarely checked tickets after the intermission, we were inside for many a show. Those were the days! Kris F,

  8. I was there. It was "semi outdoors" under a big tent. I was young (19) and very wasted for the show. But I also saw Arlo Guthrie and Pete Seeger there as well as Preservation Hall Jazz Band when less effed up. It was definitely under a tent. The college ran the festival but Electric Factory would also do shows at the venue.Burnt some synapses coming up with that!

  9. Thanks for sharing, taking one for the team!

  10. The theatre burnt down in 1994, but sat empty and unused for at least 15 years before that. I grew up down the street and have vague memories of events taking place there in the 1970s. We could easily hear the music from our house. By the 80s it was completely abandoned and was nothing more than a sledding hill in the winter. It was also a supreme destination for underage drinking and where we'd go if someone scored a joint. My friends and I threw some John Hugh's 1980s style keg parties there a few times in high school with literally hundreds of kids, it was euphoric. I also remember banging my girlfriend on the hood of my car in the vast parking lot one fantastic summer night. Crazy to think, I was a 1 year old baby and Jerry was jamming a couple hundred feet away.


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