Friday, November 13, 2009

Avalon Ballroom June 10-11, 1966: Grateful Dead/Quicksilver Messenger Service/New Tweedy Brothers


This post is part of a series analyzing every performance at the Avalon Ballroom. Above is the Wes Wilson poster (FD12-thanks to Ross for the scan)

The Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service had just played the Fillmore together, (June 3-4), and so they played consecutive weekends for Bill Graham and then Chet Helms.  The bands generally preferred playing the Avalon , but made more money at the Fillmore.  Quicksilver and The Dead were ‘summering’ at neighboring ranches in Marin County, across the bay.  The Dead dressed as Indians, and Quicksilver as Cowboys, and the bands and their crews and friends chased each other through the woods until the peace pipe was smoked. Many hippies identified with Native Americans, seeing them as peaceful, resilient people who lived off the land (not all of them did--by late 1966, the manager of Country Joe and The Fish [Ed Denson] would lament  “All this Indian crap.  There are so many fake Indians in Berkeley you wouldn’t believe it”)

In the audience on the previous weekend at The Fillmore was a friend of John Cipollina, a local radio engineer named Dan Healy.  When the Dead’s equipment broke, Cipollina recommended Healy, who promptly fixed the problem.  Healy criticizes the Dead’s vocal sound, and Garcia challenged him to do better.  Healy ended up becoming the Dead’s sound man until the early 1990s and did indeed do better. While he may not have yet been a member of the crew, he was almost certainly present and starting to get involved at this weekend's show.

At the Dead's first appearance at a Family Dog show two weeks earlier (May 28), the band's Owsley Stanley constructed sound system was so large, it blocked Bill Ham's light show. By this show, the band had painted the sound system white, so it became the screen for the light show.

The New Tweedy Brothers were a band from Oregon that had moved to San Francisco in 1966. They had an an obscure single on Dot, and recorded an album. However, their only album, released in 1968 ) on Ridon Records showed definite folk roots, with strummed guitars and nice harmonies, somewhat like The Byrds. In concert, they apparently also did a rock version of “Cold Rain and Snow,” no doubt being familiar with the same obscure Obray Ramsey record that Garcia had heard.

Their album, however, was pressed in a unique, oversize hexagonal sleeve too large to fit in record store racks, thus insuring that the poorly distributed album would sell as few copies as possible. The band returned to Oregon around 1967. Shadoks re-released the album on CD around 2001, retaining a tiny version of the oddly-shaped sleeve.

Next: June 17-18, 1966: Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band/The Oxford Circle

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