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.
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.
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.