Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Dropping in Robertson Gym (gd1969-01-17)

The Grateful Dead and Santa Barbara are two great things that go great together. One little mystery has always centered on the location of the January 17, 1969 gig. The gig was absent from Deadbase, is listed as Unknown Venue chez Deadlists, and circulates from Vault -> Latvala -> world tape as “Civic Auditorium, Santa Barbara, CA”, which Corry has noted does not exist. He’s right about that (as far as I know), but his alternative explanation, that the gig was at the Santa Monica Civic, is incorrect.

The gig was in Santa Barbara. Like another one a mere four months later (5/29/69), it took place in Robertson Gymnasium (“Rob Gym” for those who pick up games there), on the stunning campus of U.C. Santa Barbara (UCSB). [update: I see that dead.net already knew this.] Must have been a ‘head or two on the Program Council that year, though, as I'll note, looks like only the latter was fully campus-sponsored.

Background: Grateful Dead in Santa Barbara

4/29/67 Earl Warren Showgrounds Santa Barbara CA
1/17/69 Unknown Venue Santa Barbara CA
5/29/69 Robertson Gym - University Of California Santa Barbara CA
5/20/73 Campus Stadium - University Of California Santa Barbara CA
5/25/74 Campus Stadium - University Of California Santa Barbara CA
2/27/77 Robertson Gym - University Of California Santa Barbara CA
1/13/78 Arlington Theatre Santa Barbara CA
6/4/78 Campus Stadium - University Of California Santa Barbara CA

There are some interesting Jerry engagements in lovely old Santa Barbara, too, but I will break form and ignore them for now.

Ads and Such

With a little slaving over a hot microfilm reader, I found the following:

! ad: El Gaucho, January 16, 1969, p. 3;
! caption: El Gaucho, January 17, 1969, p. 1;
! ad: El Gaucho, January 17, 1969, p. 3;
! listing: El Gaucho, January 17, 1969, p. 5.

Here’s the day-of-show ad:

"Kappa Sigma presents In Concert Santana Blues Band / Grateful Dead / Travel Agency, lights by Dry Paint, January 17 [1969], 8:30 PM, Robertson Gym (Bring Your Own Pillow)"
Brief Analysis

Thank you, El Gaucho!

The ad reinforces the lost-from-memory feel of the gig, a bit of an in-your-face guerilla exercise with Kappa Sigma. The Santana Blues Band and its successors are well documented, and this show is not listed at the canonical Santanamigos site. If I were an objective observer, I would say SBB headlines over the Dead as a matter of presentation, which is pretty amazing given how early in Santana's run this occurred. It's useful to remember just how Spanish Santa Barbara is, perhaps - maybe Santana would bring the vaqueros' kids in from the high school.

El Gaucho advertises what's going to go down in technicolor glory, even through bad microfilm in black and white. In the sweet spot, top-left of the front page, soak in the picture of a bunch of crazed Deadfolk in various degrees of sprawling on the steps of 710 Ashbury, over caption beginning “DROPPING IN ROBERTSON GYM”, (caps original), and a–wink-wink and a-nudge-nudge.
Bring Your own Pillow

Perhaps it’s no surprise that the show seems to have fallen somewhat out of memory – many may not have imprinted for very long in situ, more the decaying trails of an up-close camera flash.

Listening to the Dead tape now and it's pretty bad. Pigpen is lost in Lovelight, even Dark Star > Steven > Eleven leave me totally flat. Death Don't is good, TIFTOO is fine but uneventful, and a *very* tentative Cosmic Charlie closes things out. The show is way below average for the period, for sure. It sounds like a good crowd which cheers a lot for the Lovelight (maybe the sound was bad), but eventually The Man drops in and shut things down, and young Mr. Weir puts a point on things:
They say that's all there is, so I guess that's all there is.
And goodnight to you, too.


  1. I was just at https://archive.org/details/gd69-05-29.sbd.jim.14018.sbeok.shnf, and some commenter posted stuff from the RS article published in August 1969, which has the Dead playing in Rob Gym.

    Sounds like a cluster. But here's what just drew my eye: "We're really sorry," Phil kept saying to the few who still lingered by the gym's back door. "We burned you of a night of music, and we'll come back and make it up."

    Is there any chance that Lydon's narrative comes from the 1/17/69 show, not 5/29/69, such that 5/29 is the makeup gig?

    1. Nope: the article very specifically covers May 28 at Winterland, May 29 at Robertson Gym, and May 30 at Springer's Inn.

      Maybe it figures that they didn't play Santa Barbara for four more years! It sure didn't bring out the Dead's best in '69, at either show apparently.

    2. Cool, thanks.

      Is the putative 5/29/69 material actually verified as authentic? On archive some folks seem to suggest the fileset duplicates material from earlier that month in San Diego (5/11/69).

    3. Afraid that's the case: it's just a misdated duplicate of 5/11, and no tape for 5/29 circulates.

  2. There's another interesting twist here: The Travel Agency. Travel Agency had an obscure psych album on Viva around 1968, which I haven't heard. The drummer, however, was Francesco Lupica (aka Frank Davis). If you Google around you find that Lupica built the first (as he called it) "Cosmic Beam." Mickey Hart and Dan Healy borrowed his idea for The Beam.

    Lupica was around the scene in the early 70s, as he was in the band Shanti (an Indian-rock fusion band, one lp on Atlantic in 71 or so), but this show could have been the first Lupica/Hart connection.

    Great research.

  3. Dry Paint was Wavy Gravy's light show, by the way. The commune was in the San Gabriel Mountains as I recall

  4. Apparently, the first performance of Cosmic Charlie was 1/17/69.

  5. Joe this just added the student review of the show and a tiny bit bit of added stuff http://www.gratefulseconds.com/2019/01/50-years-ago-today-dead-and-santana-hit.html


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