Friday, November 13, 2009

Avalon Ballroom June 3-4, 1966: The Grass Roots/Big Brother and The Holding Company/The Buddha

This post is part of a series analyzing every concert at the Avalon Ballroom. Above is the Victor Moscoso poster (FD-11-thanks to Ross for the scan)

By mid-1966, the Avalon had rapidly become an established venue. Chet Helms usually determined a theme for each weekend, and the poster artists created something that fit in with the theme. This week's theme was "Stone Facade," and Helms probably decorated the stage appropriately, and the light show probably worked within the theme as well. Lacking photos, however, we can only guess exactly what it looked like.

The Grass Roots were back for the second weekend in a row. This was only the 7th weekend that the Avalon had been open, and Big Brother and The Holding Company had played four of those. While it was a distinct advantage to be managed by the promoter of one of the town's exciting venues, and Big Brother's wild, ragged music was getting an enthusiastic response, the band had no good singers. Since the popular groups in town were the Jefferson Airplane and The Great Society (not to mention the We Five), Big Brother decided they needed a "chick singer" to complete their band. This very weekend, Helms sent his friend Travis Rivers to recruit his old friend Janis Joplin, and the two of them would hitchhike back to San Francisco.

The Buddha, billed as The Buddha From Muir Beach, was a local DJ and promoter. I don't know his real name. The Buddha put on a series of parties at Muir Beach Tavern in remote Western Marin, so he was known around the underground as well as a radio personality. However, I think he would have been some sort of emcee, not a performer.

There is some suggestion that the Oxford Circle may have auditioned for Chet Helms on one of these nights, and played so well that he added them to the bill the same night.  Certainly they opened a show after an audition somewhere around this time.

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

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