Tuesday, October 13, 2009

1825 Salvio Street, Concord, CA: Concord Coliseum Performances 1967-68


Ross found this hitherto unknown poster featuring the Loading Zone headlining at the Concord Coliseum on October 11 and 12, 1968, supported by the Gettysburg Express and Bronz Inc. The clarity of the scan gave me a good look at the address of the venue, at 1825 Salvio Street. Due to the miracle of googling, I discovered some recent blog posts about the Concord Coliseum at Claycord.com (devoted to the area of Clayton, Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill and Concord). Former and current Concord residents recall the venue and the building, as well as numerous concerts and events. Fans of old venues are well-advised to click over there, and in particular read the comments. They give a nice flavor of how exciting rock and roll was back then when it came to your town.

The Claycord site has done such a good job of evoking the building and the era that I thought I would make a brief chronology of known shows at the Concord Coliseum. The history of the building is better described on that site, but the building was a former Purity Supermarket that was taken over by Bill Vavrick and Bill Quarry. Quarry was a successful East Bay promoter, with his production company Teens N Twenties (TNT). TNT mostly focused on the Oakland-San Leandro-Hayward corridor, along East 14th Street, and his most well known venue was the Rollarena in San Leandro, where he promoted rock shows on Friday nights from New Years Eve 1965-66 through mid-1967. However, Quarry promoted shows throughout the East Bay and the Bay Area.

The Concord-Walnut Creek area is now a thriving suburb of San Francisco, with heavy commute traffic going in all directions on a huge freeway network. In the late 1960s, however, Concord and Walnut Creek were sleepy little communities, with plenty of open space and few commuters to San Francisco, and even fewer elsewhere, as much of the County was agricultural. While teenagers were certainly aware of the Fillmore and Avalon, that was perceived as being quite a bit farther away than it is today, and there wasn't as much to do on weekend evenings. The Bill Quarry model was to put on dances every Friday and Saturday night, for both teenagers and young adults (hence "Teens N Twenties"). Since no alcohol was served (I'm sure plenty was consumed) city authorities and parents were comfortable with allowing the events. According to commenters, there wasn't even really a stage at the venue, and fans could look the performers in the eye if they so chose.

While the Claycord site suggests that the Concord Coliseum put on shows almost every Friday and Saturday night, only a few shows are known based on surviving posters and newspaper clippings. Most of the bands who played were local East Bay rock bands, with periodic visits from out of town stars. What follows is a list of known shows--consider this a work in progress. Anyone with specific information about dates and performers please contact me or mention it in the comments. I have added a few notes about some of the bands.

August 4, 1967 Chocolate Watch Band/Harbinger Complex/Virtues
August 5, 1967 Roger Collins/Harbinger Complex/Virtues
This was the opening weekend of the venue. San Jose's Chocolate Watch Band were both popular and a fantastic live group. Harbinger Complex were a popular TNT attraction from Fremont. The Virtues were a Contra Costa band who included guitarist Gregg Douglas (later of Hot Tuna and the Steve Miller Band). The Virtues later changed their name to Country Weather and played the Fillmore West many times.

August 11, 1967 The Mojo Men
The Mojo Men had had a hit with Buffalo Springfield's "Sit Down I Think I Love You," with vocals by drummer Jan Errico.

September 1, 1967 Rear Exit/Indian Head Band
September 2, 1967 Immediate Family/Rear Exit
September 3, 1967 The Virtues/Immediate Family

Labor Day weekend in 1967 featured local bands. Rear Exit was a San Leandro band, and Indian Head Band was from Castro Valley, then quite a rural area. Indian Head Band played mostly improvised "raga-rock," featuring guitarist Hal Wagenet, who would later join Its A Beautiful Day. The Immediate Family were from Clayton, and guitarist Tim Barnes would later help found Stoneground.

September 8, 1967 The Epics
September 9, 1967 Little Richard/Dearly Beloved
The Epics were a Walnut Creek band featuring Bobby Winkelmann, later in Frumious Bandersnatch.

October 13, 1967 Midnite Hour/Purple Haze
October 14, 1967 The Grass Roots/Bristol Box Kite
This was the second, more famous Grass Roots. They had played The Fillmore the previous weekend.

October 20, 1967 Buffalo Springfield
October 21, 1967 Strawberry Alarm Clock/King Biscuit Entertainers
The poster for the Grass Roots show says "October 20-Buffalo Springfield." The band had played for Quarry before, and they did play Santa Rosa on the next night (Saturday October 21 at Sonoma County Fairgrounds), so it seems likely they played there. Santa Barbara's Strawberry Alarm Clock were climbing the charts with there hit "Incense And Peppermints."


October 25, 1967 Van Morrison
Van Morrison, on his first solo tour, played a Wednesday night at Concord Coliseum. Van had played for Bill Quarry at The Rollarena in May of the previous year on Them's legendary American tour. It was at the Rollarena in May 1966, in the alley behind the rink, where Van met Janet (Planet) Riggsbee, his future wife and the world's Brown-Eyed Girl. By October 1967, Van had just finished a weekend at the Avalon (October 20-22), and was touring with just two other band members (a bassist and reed player). The clipping above is from the October 21, 1967 Oakland Tribune "Teen Age" section.

November 3-4, 1967 Moby Grape/The Blues Union
The Moby Grape shows were highlighted in a November 4, 1967 Oakland Tribune interview with the Grape. A local band, The Blues Union, opened the show.

November 24-25, 1967 Quicksilver Messenger Service/Martha's Laundry (24)/Zackfield Underground Railroad
Reader Kent contributed this long-forgotten Quicksilver flyer.

December 23, 1967 The Wildflower
The Wildflower were an Oakland based group who were popular at the Fillmore and Avalon.

1968 (uncertain) Sonny And Cher
Sonny and Cher played a Cerebral Palsy benefit at the Concord Coliseum, but the exact date is unclear.

Spring 1968 Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
An eyewitness recalls seeing the Dirt Band in the Spring of '68.

May 3-4, 1968 Archie Bell and The Drells/Frumious Bandersnatch/Overbrook Express
Archie Bell and The Drells (from Houston, TX) had a huge crossover hit with "Tighten Up." Frumious Bandersnatch was Lafayette's leading (and first) psychedelic band. Many of the members went on to play with the Steve Miller Band.

May 29, 1968 The Yardbirds/Flamin Groovies/Linn County
The Yardbirds, near the end of their existence, featured Jimmy Page on lead guitar, and had begun to perform a few numbers (like "Dazed and Confused") that would turn up in Led Zeppelin a few months later. The Flamin Groovies were a San Francisco band who bucked convention by continuing to play in a British Invasion style, while Linn County were a blues band who had recently located from Cedar Rapids, IA.

May 31-June 1, 1968 Country Weather/Frumious Bandersnatch
Both of these groups were Contra Costa bands who were trying to break in to the Bay Area scene, and regularly gigged around the circuit. Although at the time they would have just been local heroes, whom many in the crowd probably knew, in later years Greg Douglass of Country Weather co-wrote "Jungle Love," a huge hit  for Steve Miller. Not only did Douglass tour with the Steve Miller Band (as well as Hot Tuna), but four of the five members of Frumious Bandersnatch ended up touring with Miller as well. On top of that Frumous bassist Ross Valory and road manager Walter "Herbie" Herbert achieved fame and fortune with Journey.

June 7-8, 1968 The Box Tops/Cold Blood
Children all over the world dream of Alex Chilton, but in Concord they saw him in person, singing songs like "The Letter" with The Box Tops. Cold Blood was part of a new breed of rocking East Bay funk bands, just getting their feet on the ground.

July 5, 1968 Big Brother and The Holding Company
Janis and Big Brother liked to play smaller places around California, and they played a gig at Concord. Cheap Thrills would have just been released, and the band would have been at the height of their powers.

July 19-20, 1968 Iron Butterfly
This booking was alluded to in Billboard Magazine (July 13 '68).

August 8, 1968 Eric Burdon And The Animals
Eric Burdon had played a number of shows for Bill Quarry in the past. This was a Thursday night show, the night before a three-night stand at the Fillmore West. Although its easy to be smug about Burdon's vocal excesses now, the "New Animals" with guitarists John Weider and Andy Somers (better known now as The Police's Andy Summers) and organist Zoot Money, were a powerful live band.

October 11-12, 1968 Loading Zone/Gettysburg Express/Bronz Inc
The Loading Zone was one of (if not the) first East Bay bands to successfully cross psychedelic rock with soul, kicking the door open for Cold Blood, Sly and The Family Stone, and numerous others. The Zone played both the psychedelic ballrooms and East Bay soul clubs. The other two acts are unknown to me, although it might be possible that Bronze Inc was Cotati's Bronze Hog.

Obviously there are numerous shows missing from this chronology, but I do not know of any after October 12, 1968. By 1969, owner Bill Vavrick had converted the building to a furniture auction warehouse, and the site is now a Petco.

Unsupported dates
The Claycord site had a link to a Teen Magazine calendar that suggested that The Who played Concord on August 23, 1968. Magazines were published months in advance in those days, and while that Concord may have been on an early itinerary, The Who did not play Concord on that day, as they were in Oklahoma City. In any case, the site misdates events of 1967 as 1968 (The Who toured with Hermans Hermits in 1967), but on August 23, 1967 The Who were in Flint, MI.

Various commenters recall Country Joe and The Fish playing Concord Coliseum, and while that is certainly possible, the most advanced list (Ross's) does not show it. CJF did play Concord, at DeLaSalle High (on January 28, 1967), so perhaps memories are getting merged.

This list represents the extent of my knowledge. Check out the Claycord posts for more personal memories. I will update the list in the Comments, and do a new post if I get enough information.

29 comments:

  1. There is good reason to think that Iron Butterfly played Concord Coliseum on July 19-20, 1968. The Billboard Magazine listing (for July 13, 1968), accessible on Google Books, says "The Concord Inn in Berkeley on July 19-20" but I am inclined to the Concord Coliseum.

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  2. Hello,

    John Turner from Pleasant hill High School ('68) has posted some pictures of early Pleasant Hill garage bands, the Virtues and Maggie's Farm, onto the PHHS Classmates web site. I sent him your note about the Virtues, but we can't locate any solid info on Maggie's Farm. Can you help?
    My name is john Nesbit and my email address is: 3boars@gmail.com

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  3. I only know that Maggie's Farm featured a Berkeley keyboard player named Mark Batterman (who was in Haymarket Riot), so I always assumed they were a Berkeley band. That assumption may have been incorrect, and they may have just had a keyboard player from Berkeley.

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  4. Given that Maggies Farm played shows around Berkeley through to 1971 it seems likely they were a Berkeley band.

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  5. Wow! A poster with the Gettysburg Express on it-who'd a thought?
    This was indeed a local Concord band that played under several monikers during the 60's and 70's. All members went to Mt. Diablo High school where they got together, but most of their time (like many bands of the era) was spent in the garage. The real talent of the group was Gary Silveira (guitarist and song writer) Rick Blanchard (bass, and the only one with any drive or ambition) and Rick Silveira (drummer and Gary's brother.) The band played together a lot but performed together only infrequently. The Silveira brothers both started working at "real" jobs early on and music became only a passtime. Rick Blanchard kept at it and earned himself some studio time backing some major country acts like Willie Nelson and others. Blanchard still keeps his hand in the business. For the brothers, the Concord Collesium was their biggest venue. While they both still play for pleasure, any rumors of a comeback--well, there aren't any.

    Thanks for a look at the poster and a chance to revisit a great memory.

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  6. Actually the original "Gettysburg Express" featured Rick Blanchard on guitar, Stephenie Bowen vocals, Steve Borges on bass, and Steve Chatneuf on drums. Rick Blanchard is successfully persuing his acting career in L.A., Steve Chatneuf now plays guitar and is currently a videographer in northern California. I lost touch with Stephenie and Steve B. long ago. I wish them well wherever they are.

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  7. Please help me here. What about Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill at that time? I absolutely remember Big Brother playing there as I have lived here for 51 years. Remember all the shows that were there in the Basketball auditorium next to sports fields next to the creek? My home is just opposite of this big building and I clearly remember Big Brother playing there at one point during their “Cheap Thrills” era when Janis was still with them. I had just bought the record when it first came out. Granted, I was only 9 years old, but very much into and aware of the music scene of the Bay Area at the time. We had KYA and KFRC on our transistor radios, even more stations for sure here. In Sun Valley Mall, when it first opened on the upper floor across from Macy’s we had one of the great and few record stores of the area called “The Music Box.” I remember getting flyers there and such, and news where shows that were known at the time and I remember quite clearly Janis with Big Brother playing there at D.V.C. because it was LOUD. Unfortunately, because of my age and the morals of the era I could only listen to the show from my backyard. But because it was so loud I was able to hear everything perfect. It was a tolerant time back then when you consider what came later. In the early 1970s, when I was about 14 or so I would see Tower of Power at the same Basketball auditorium as they had plenty of shows there at that time. If anyone else was at that show or could shed light on the matter please let us know. Thanks.

    This is the only place that I know discussing the music séance in the Concord area. Terrific. Thank you for your help. Oldquadguy @ yahoo.com

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  8. This is the only place that I know discussing the music scene in the Concord area in the 1960-70s. Terrific. Thank you for your help. Oldquadguy @ yahoo.com

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  9. Romulans, thank you for the kind words. There was a lot of good music being played in the suburbs, by the same bands playing it in the City, but everyone seems to have let it slide.

    I think the date in question for DVC is May 12, 1968. Big Brother was playing a lot of college and junior college shows at the time (they played Foothill in Los Altos on April 26, for example). The best source for this is the Big Brother list on our website at http://chickenonaunicycle.com/Big%20Brother.htm

    The listing for May 12, 1968 is "Valley State College" in San Francisco, which was clearly a misnomer, but we couldn't locate the event for certain. Diablo Valley College makes perfect sense. May 12 '68 was a Sunday, so it was probably an afternoon or early evening show.

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  10. Wow, that was a quick response! Thank you. Corry342. This is really important work providing information about this era that you and everyone contributes. It’s a bygone time that is extremely important not to forget. Later on by the mid – late 1970s they stopped having shows there at D.V.C. , therefore my comment about how things changed for bands trying to play shows here in the Concord area with original Rock music. Heh, the residents tolerated it to a point I guess, but in all fairness the music scene/economics changed as well. BART got going in the 1970s and it became easier to go to the city to San Francisco clubs and Oakland Coliseum for those “Day on the Green” shows that were fun. The Concord Pavilion also opened in 1975.

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  11. Back on topic, here is a “Country Joe” page showing a April 8, 1970 “Diablo Valley College Gym.” Show, so this does give evidence there were shows there. http://www.chickenonaunicycle.com/Country%20Joe%20Shows%201970s.htm

    I believe you’ve hit the nail on the head! I do remember the weather being calm and it was night by the time Big brother played. I’m fairly sure there was an opener for BB, as was the custom of that era. So looking at the link you provided, it’s quite possible if not certain that Sweetwater, and then maybe Taj Mahal were the openers for that show, although I’m not positive except that there was at least one opener. I also remember a few Harley motorcycles revving up before and after the show and a good sized crowd showed up.

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  12. Looking at their tour that week, it would not make sense that they travel May 11, 1968 to Veteran's Hall, Santa Rosa to a “Valley State College, San Francisco” the next day on May 12, then to San Fernando Valley State College on May 13 only to come back to San Francisco again to play on May 15, 1968. It would have been more logical to play the two San Francisco gigs in a row, but then having two shows in San Francisco only a couple of days apart would have “stepped” on each other’s shows IMHO. Plus, their San Francisco shows would be at clubs or auditoriums one would think at first glance rather than a college. Pleasant Hill (next to Concord) would be right on the way to San Fernando Valley’s May 13, 1968 show from the May 11, 1968 in Santa Rosa. So the record should read:
    May 11, 1968, Veteran's Hall, Santa Rosa, CA with Bronze Hogg
    May 12, 1968, Diablo Valley College, Pleasant Hill, CA with unknown opener, (possibly Sweetwater, Taj Mahal).
    May 13, 1968, San Fernando Valley State College, CA with Taj Mahal and Sweetwater
    May 15, 1968, Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco with Rejoice, Youngbloods [Hells Angels Dance]

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  13. Memory is a funny thing, but it’s all still there if one takes the time and looks. I remember getting the “Cheap Thrills” record for my Birthday, which would be March 1968, and then the concert fairly soon after. So I believe we uncovered the proper date! Absolutely, until proven otherwise. I also believe that the August release date for “Cheap Thrills” as what is being reported on Wikipedia is wrong.

    Again, thank you for your help!
    Jim oldquadguy @ yahoo.com
    http://www.quadraphonicquad.com

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  14. There's a lot of errors in Wikipedia, but I don't think Aug 68 is far off for the release of Cheap Thrills.

    In any case, I think you are correct about the sequence of concerts. That being said, driving back to SF between Santa Rosa and LA would be nothing for a 60s band--you should look at Eric Burdon's tour schedule.

    I doubt that Taj Mahal and Sweetwater opened at DVC, as they were LA acts. I think we were confused about San Fernando Valley College (which is real, more or less) and "Valley College' in SF, which isn't. It makes perfect sense that the relatively little known Diablo Valley College got kind of confused. I suspect the openers were local.

    In the late 60s, a lot of colleges and junior colleges had fairly substantial entertainment budgets, and if some hip students got on the right committee, they could book whoever they wanted to. School administrators usually had no clue. By the early 70s, budgets were much tighter (particularly after 73), and administrators were much more leery of letting students book whoever they felt like.

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  15. A couple of notes. Firstly, "Cheap Thrills" was released on August 17, 1968. Secondly, the May 12 show is an error on my list and should have been corrected to read as per May 13.

    I have hunted around for a Diablo Valley College show without success. The only performance identified for May 1968 is the Anderson-Shawl Dancers on the 10th.

    As a side issue, the Kozmic Blues Band were in and out of the LA area in March 1969.

    Ross

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  16. The Contra Costa Times would probably have listings for shows at DVC. So, next time you're in Pleasant Hill and want to spin through some really low quality microfilm ... ;-)

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  17. Ross,
    a little footnote: "Cheap Thrills" was released on July 25, 1968 (the same day of the "Columbia Records Convetion" in Puerto Rico) NOT on August 17, 1968 (the latter was an old and wrong's date circulated on the web for years).

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  18. Thanks for your help. I think I was getting a bit ahead of myself here. I will check the Contra Costa Times microfilms. Would that be at the CC times or Pleasant Hill library?

    To be clear and as honest as I be, what I know to be true. I found out about the show at "The Music Box" record store at Sun Valley mall that Janis Joplin was to play DVC. Not, sure if she was solo or still with Big Brother. The mall opened in August 1967 and I went there almost everyday being an original "mall rat." I remember there was a lot of excitement for the show as she was getting popular here in the Bay Area. I didn't see any flyers for the show or I would have picked one up. There were always some sort of flyers for shows, but those would go fairly quick so you had to get them while they were there. I might still have a few left for other shows I got there.

    I remember the show being loud and there was at least one opener. I also remember a good sized crowd with all the cars and the Harleys reeving up before and after show. This is what I'm positive of, beyond that I'm not too sure. So if anyone who was at that show or if the date could be found, that would be great.

    BTW, there is an Quadraphonic unreleased mix that Columbia produced of "Cheap Thrills" that has no audience sounds except on the end of the last song "Ball and Chain" that leaked out there in the 1970s by a Quad collector Mike Robin, who is no longer with us. Interesting read:
    http://www.quadraphonicquad.com/forums/showthread.php?13343-The-Columbia-quot-Underground-quot-Quad-Reels-of-the-late-70s

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  19. Romulans, there's no reason not to think Big Brother played DVC in the Spring or Summer of 1968. They certainly played similar venues around the Bay Area and elsewhere. Its just a matter of pinning down the dates.

    I would think the microfilm would be most accessible at the Pleasant Hill library. Let me know about anything interesting 60s shows at DVC or Concord that you find out about!

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  20. I will for sure and thanks for the encouragement. I'll also look for any other shows of any kind from around here and the Bay Area and take notes. Being a musician myself I'm curious as all heck about the music scene around here back then.

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  21. Yes, the CC Times microfilms are in the Pleasant Hill library. I have found them to be pretty poor quality, so bring your eye drops!

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  22. Thanks to all for sharing memories/info. I came across this site through the claycord/Loading Zone sharing some time ago but hadn't started organizing my notes yet. Today I started. I have been saving notes, on Concord/CCC, for the better part of 8 yrs. I have posted the Concord Armory and Coliseum images at bluemoonposters.com -038(CCC-Concord). The Coliseum-Moby Grape flyer is from Don Ryder( Bill Quarry's resident artist)The QMS is not listed. I wish I could remember where it came from, but (ICR) I can't remember. Hope this helps. Also, I saw Nitty Gritty Dirt Band at the Coliseum sometime in April/May/June of 1968, any images or confirmation would be appriciated.

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  23. Kent, thanks for the kind words and the link to your site. There are some really fascinating items there, particularly the long lost Quicksilver flyer (one of the opening acts, Martha's Laundry, is an historically intriguing footnote as well).

    I will update the post as soon as I have the chance.Thanks so much

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  24. Guys, I just posted a Country Weather at DVC image. It was in my notes. I assume it came from the internet, somewhere. Hope this helps.
    Also, I included a Times article I got from Brad Vicknair(?). It mentions a flyer for the Majestic Ballon show in Lafayette in 7/67. Any info??

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  25. I did see Country Joe at both the Colliseum and at De La SalleHigh School. Also saw Janis at the Concord Collisium. We Snuck in the back door where she was sitting backstage. She was drinking straight from a bottle of Southern Comfort! I was 17 and I'll never forget it. Also, I knew the lead guitar player from Maggie's farm, Rob Pock, he was from Walnut Creek.

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  26. I did light shows at Concord Colesium in the summer of '68. CJF, Blue Cheer, Muddy Waters, are some of the performers I can remember. Would like to know more. Dan

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  27. I WAS THERE the night Strawberry Alarm Clock played at the Coliseum. I will never forget that night - the dancing - the amazing experience that prefaced a move into San Francisco after high school graduation from College Park HS in 69. What memories of those incredible years. Wow. Wow. Such a rush to have found this site.

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  28. Our band, the Blues Union, opened for Moby Grape. We were rather psyched as they were our heroes.

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    1. Thanks Jeffrey. I updated the post accordingly. Thanks for adding to the details about this long-lost venue.

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