Many artists, musical or otherwise, fall out of the public eye and their work remains submerged. One of the benefits of the Internet is that as attention returns to deserving performers, blogs can act as a kind of periscope, providing a snapshot of the ocean as they surface. In 1968 and 69, Sanpaku was a seven-piece jazz rock band from Sacramento with a two-piece horn section, well regarded by their peers but largely unknown today. Some members of the band have recently gotten in touch with each other, so I am presenting this list of their known concert performances--surely just a fraction of their total number of gigs--as a starting point for the band's look backwards.
Sanpaku was a Sacramento based band that formed from a group called The Working Class. They spent the Summer of 1968 in Lake Tahoe, playing at the Kings Beach Bowl on North Shore and The Sanctuary on the South Shore. Later in the Summer and Fall of 1968 they played a number of gigs at Sacramento's Sound Factory. The proprietor of The Sound Factory, Whitey Davis (worthy of a whole book, not just a blog post) wanted to manage the group, but Sanpaku were booked at a Tuesday night audition show at the Fillmore West where they were spotted by Bill Graham's organization.
In the late 1960s, Graham was trying to expand his concert business into a more vertical model, with band management. a talent agency and two record labels. Only parts of these business enterprises were successful, but Graham's Millard Talent Agency gave a lot of opportunity to rising bands. Talent Agencies provide acts to promoters, since no promoter could know every act, nor could an act know every promoter. Sanpaku was a client of the Millard Agency, along with The Grateful Dead, Santana, Its A Beautiful Day, Elvin Bishop, Aum, Cold Blood and others. As a result, Sanpaku played on some very high profile shows in the late 60s where they apparently acquitted themselves quite well. The band never made a formal recording, however, and seems to have broken up in late 1969.
Sanpaku featured guitarist Mark Pearson, later in Sacramento's Nielsen-Pearson Band, Gary Larkey and Stan Bagdazian on horns, Bob Powell on keyboards, bassist Kootch Trochim and drummer Duane (Motor) Temme, joined in mid-1969 by singer/conguero Rico Reyes. This list only has the gigs that I have been able to uncover (with the gracious help of road manager Hewitt Jackson), and that mostly means high-profile shows, shows where they played with an interesting act who had a history of their own, or shows with a surviving poster. Anyone who recalls seeing the group, or additional gigs or has other relevant information is encouraged to Comment or email me. When I get enough new information, I will update and later re-publish the post.
List of Known Performances
October 22, 1968 Fillmore West Crystal Syphon/Sanpaku/Crazy Horse
There is a flyer, but the date is difficult to discern, yet I am assuming this was the show that brought Sanpaku to the attention of the Bill Graham organization. This was a Tuesday night audition (the poster says “1.00 Jam”). Crystal Syphon was a Merced band, and Crazy Horse was probably a Merced band also. There is a chance that this show is October 21, 1969 and that San Paku's audition was on another date altogether in the late 68-early 69 time frame (although I should add that if the show is from 1969, it is still unlikely that Crazy Horse was Neil Young's backing band, though not entirely impossible).
It is a very little known fact of Fillmore West history is that from September 1968 until it closed in July 1971, the Fillmore West had a concert almost every Tuesday night. Almost none of these were on the famous poster series, and as a result these shows have been ignored by Fillmore historians. They generally featured a popular local band and two new bands, or at least newly-arrived-in-town bands. Admission was $1.50, and it was a popular stop for record company reps and managers to see what might be happening.
Sanpaku played one of these gigs, at any rate, and I believe this to be the date. They were good enough to be snapped up by the Graham management operation. Their shows were booked by the Millard Agency, providing them access to many great Northern California gigs. Sanpaku may have played more than one Tuesday night show, as was common practice. A successful audition band often got another shot as the Tuesday headliner.
October 26, 1968 Freeborn Hall, UC Davis Glass Thunder/Sanpaku
Freeborn Hall was the biggest auditorium at UC Davis.
The Committee, the Bay Area's groundbreaking improvisational comedy troupe, had opened a new Theatre at 836 Montgomery. The venue also put on rock shows as well as the regular improv fare.
January 4, 1969 Sound Factory, Sacramento Glad/Country Fog/Sanpaku/Rush/Big Foot
This was a benefit for the FM station that became KZAP. The Sound Factory, at 1817 Alhambra, was run by former Crystal Ballroom (Portland) proprietor and Avalon Ballroom manager Whitey Davis. It featured great groups, but was always on shaky financial footing. Sanpaku apparently opened quite a number of shows at the venue (and attended most of the rest of them) while the venue operated between June 1968 and March 1969.
February ?, 1969 Fillmore West Sanpaku
As alluded to in Ralph Gleason's column below (see March 13-16, 1969, below), Sanpaku had played a great set on a Tuesday night audition. My assumption is that their October audition put them in Bill Graham's orbit, and a February (more or less) Tuesday night appearance was like a coming out party. The next step up was to open the Creedence/Jethro Tull show on March 13-16 (below).
February 28-March 1 Dream Bowl, Vallejo, CA Santana/Sanpaku
The Dream Bowl was on Highway 29, between Vallejo and Napa, in the general vicinity of Sears Point Raceway (now Infineon Raceway). The venue dated back to at least the 1940s. During World War 2, so many transplanted Southerners were in California working in the defense industry that the West Coast became a key entertainment center (Bob Wills even moved to California). There was substantial shipbuilding in Vallejo, so there were many country music fans. The Dream Bowl was an important stop on a local country music circuit around the Bay Area.
After World War 2, Vallejo returned to being a sleepy suburb, but the Dream Bowl continued to present country style music, at least into the early 1960s. There seems to have been a brief effort to make it into a suburban rock venue, but it seems to have been some years before Sonoma and Solano Counties had enough population to support their own venue.
Note that almost all the groups on the poster were booked by the Millard Agency.
Bands who did well at a Tuesday audition were given a chance to open a show, and if they succeeded they were given a chance to be 'on the poster.' Sanpaku's presence at this high profile gig indicates that they must have been signed up by the Millard Agency by this time.
Influential San Francisco Chronicle columnist Ralph Gleason gave a favorable notice to the band in his march 17, 1969 column. He wrote
Sanpaku, which is a young band from Sacramento, was also on the bill. They appeared at one of the Tuesday night Fillmore sessions a few weeks back and blew everybody's mind. They are one of those marvelous mixtures of free form jazz and blues and rock. They opened with "Parchman Farm" and went on to do an exciting set with good solos from the two horn players. The lead singer is very good, too.
March 26-30, 1969 Whisky A Go Go, West Hollywood Aum/Sanpaku
The Whisky A Go Go was a high profile club in West Hollywood. Bands actually played for Union Scale, but so many record company and industry professionals saw the bands that it was worth it to play the gig. Both Aum and Sanpaku were Millard Agency bands, and this was the organization's way of showcasing the groups outside of San Francisco. Aum was a power trio led by guitarist Wayne Ceballos.
John Mayall would have had his acoustic Turning Point lineup (with Jon Mark and John Almond) and Deep Purple's first American tour would have featured the "Hush" lineup (with Rod Evans on vocals and Nick Simper on bass).
April 22-23, 1969 New Orleans House, Berkeley Its A Beautiful Day/Sanpaku
The New Orleans House was a popular rock club in Berkeley. Bands played gigs like this on weeknights (this was a Tuesday and Wednesday) in between opening for larger shows. Its A Beautiful Day was a very popular local group, but they did not yet have an album. They too were booked by the Millard Agency.
May 10, 1969 Pacific Memorial Stadium, U of Pacific, Stockton, CA Santana/Cold Blood/Sons of Champlin/Elvin Bishop/Counry Weather/Sanpaku/
“Pacific Pop Festival” (noon to 7 pm)
Pacific Memorial Stadium was a modest sized football stadium. Every one of these bands was a Millard Agency client. Santana had not yet released their first album, although they had probably signed to Columbia by this time and may have begun recording it already.
May 30, 1969 Merced County Fairgrounds, Merced Memorial Day Rock Festival
Santana/Elvin Bishop Band/Sanpaku/Crystal Syphon/Crazy Horse/2 others
Santana, Elvin Bishop and Sanpaku were all Millard clients, and Crystal Syphon (and probably Crazy Horse) were Merced-area bands.
Beryessa Bowl was a amphitheatre at man-made Lake Berryessa. This relatively local gig, in the Bay Area but many miles from San Francisco, was probably typical of a lot of Sanpaku gigs
June 13, 1969 Convention Center, Fresno, CA Grateful Dead/Aum/Sanpaku
The Grateful Dead were booked by the Millard Agency in 1968-69, mainly as a way to pay back money they had borrowed from Bill Graham. During this period, many of the opening acts at Grateful Dead shows were Millard clients. At this show, Sanpaku flautist Gary Larkey, Aum guitarist Wayne Ceballos and legendary singer Ronnie Hawkins all joined in with the Dead to play "Turn On Your Lovelight."
June 20-21, 1969 The Barn, Rio Nido Country Weather/Sanpaku/Jaybyrd
The Barn in Rio Nido was probably another name for the Rio Nido Dance Hall, but I'm not certain of that.
June 24-26, 1969 Fillmore West Iron Butterfly/Cold Blood/Sanpaku
July 19, 1969 Gym, Monterey Peninsula College, Monterey Santana/Sanpaku/Fritz
Once again, San Paku opened for a Millard client. I'm not certain if the opening act was the Menlo Park band called Fritz, featuring bassist Lindsay Buckingham and singer Stephanie (Stevie) Nicks.
The Monterey Peninsula College gym was a modest sized venue, which probably held about 2000 in a festival seating type arrangement.
Around this time, some band members recall a meeting in which Bill Graham explained to them that Santana rather than Sanpaku would be going to a large rock festival in upstate New York called Woodstock.
August 5, 1969 The Matrix, San Francisco Sanpaku/Bigfoot
The Matrix, at 3138 Fillmore, was still a musicians' hangout. While not a big gig, it was an important place to be heard. Chronicle critic Ralph Gleason regularly mentioned the bands scheduled to play The Matrix (to the delight of all Rock Prosopographers). The clip below is from Monday August 4, 1969.
August 8-9, 1969 The Poppycock, Palo Alto Sanpaku/Terry Dolan
The Poppycock, at 135 University Avenue in downtown Palo Alto, was that city's venue for the original rock club circuit. Second-tier bands played clubs like The Poppycock, New Orleans House and Matrix regularly between higher profile gigs.
August 14, 1969 Coliseum Arena, Oakland Blind Faith/Delaney & Bonnie & Friends/Free/Sanpaku
The band played unbilled at the Bay Area stop of the biggest rock tour to date.
August 20, 1969 El Roach, Ballard, WA Grateful Dead/NRPS/Sanpaku
The Dead, New Riders of The Purple Sage and Sanpaku were supposed to play Seattle's outdoor Aqua Theatre, but they got rained out. Instead, they went to the nearby El Roach Tavern (at 5419 Ballard Avenue in suburban Seattle) and put on a surprise show. I'm not certain exactly who played, but Sanpaku members were definitely there.
August 21, 1969 Aqua Theatre, Seattle, WA Grateful Dead/NRPS/Sanpaku
The bands finally got to play their show the next day. The interesting venue was not in good repair, and this was the last concert at the facility. However, flautist Gary Larkey joined the Dead for a few songs. For many decades it was arbitrarily assumed that the guest performer was Charles Lloyd, but in fact it was Larkey.
The Grateful Dead and probably the New Riders played a rock festival in Oregon on Saturday, August 23 (The Bullfrog 3 Festival at the Pelletier Farm in Helens, OR), so I would not be surprised to find out that Sanpaku played it as well.
September 8, 1969 Quad, Irvington High School, Fremont, CA Aum/Sanpaku
A September 11, 1969 Fremont Argus "Teen" section article reported (above) that a Monday night dance in the School Quad was a huge success, with over 1000 students attending. Gigs like this, besides being a nice payday on an otherwise non-working night, helped build a band's audience as well.
September 10, 1969 The Matrix, San Francisco Sanpaku/Ice
September 16-18, 1969 The Matrix, San Francisco Sanpaku/Mendelbaum
Mendelbaum had arrived from Wisconsin in the Summer, and had become almost the house band at the Matrix. Bands played weeknight gigs at tiny clubs like The Matrix (this was Tues-Wed-Thurs) because it gave them a chance to have fun and work on stuff for the bigger gigs on the weekends.
Bay Area Drug Committee Presents At Bill Graham’s Fillmore West A Benefit Show Save The Children
It’s A Beautiful Day/Sanpaku/Sons of Champlin/Ace of Cups/The Outlaws (Dino Valenti and Garry Duncan)/Terry Dolan
Benefit for MidPeninsula Free University
Photos exist of Sanpaku performing at this Sunday afternoon event (the clip above is from Ralph J Gleason's Chronicle column of October 3, 1969). By this time, New Jersey born trumpeter David Ginsberg had replaced Stan Bagdazian on trumpet. Ginsberg had been at the University of Wisconsin, and had recently moved to San Francisco.
October 9, 1969 Pauley Ballroom, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA Sons of Champlin/Sanpaku
October 11, 1969 Cal Expo, State Fairgrounds, Sacramento, CA Janis Joplin and Her Kozmic Blues Band/Blues Image/Sanpaku
Sanpaku opened for Janis on their home turf, at the fairly new State Fairgrounds.
Sanpaku had formed a basketball team to challenge Bill Graham's Fillmore Fingers on Tuesday nights. They named their team the Paku Jets, and had t-shirts made up. They lost, big time. But they won in a way, since their friend Carlos Santana wore one of the shirts when Santana appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show on CBS-TV on October 24, 1969. On the video (Youtube), the "K" in Paku is visible on Carlos's t-shirt as the band launches into "Persuasion."
October 28-30, 1969 The Matrix Sanpaku/Mendelbaum
October 31, 1969 M.V. Gym, [city?] Country Weather/Sanpaku/First Time Around
I have seen a flyer for this, but I don't know where the school was. Many flyers for school dances had very little such information, since the only audience was students who knew the location of the gym.
November 6, 1969 Gym, College Park High School, Pleasant Hill Mike Bloomfield and Friends/Country Weather/Bronze Hog/Sanpaku/Orion/Daybreak
This concert was mentioned in Ralph Gleason's column on November 5. I'm not sure why six bands would play a High School gym on a Thursday night--I assume this wasn't a school event. The High School was across from a Junior College (Diablo Valley) so perhaps it was associated with that institution.
November 7, 1969 Gym, Contra Costa College, Richmond Cold Blood/Sanpaku/Little Johns
There were actually quite a few rock concerts at the Contra Costa College gym in the 1960s.
November 8, 1969 [venue], Hayward State College, Hayward Sanpaku/Dry Creek
I assume this was a student event at Cal State Hayward, but it was on a Saturday night and presumably open to the public, as it was mentioned in Gleason's column. I'm not certain of the exact venue. Hayward State (now known as Cal State University, East Bay) was opened in 1957. At the time, there was only the main campus above Mission Boulevard,
Dry Creek featured drummer Sammy Piazza, who ended up joining Hot Tuna.
A series of shows were put on at the original Fillmore Auditorium (at 1805 Geary) in 1969, but the venue had gotten too small for the booming rock market(h/t Colin for the long-lost poster).
Floating Bridge were from Seattle.
Sanpaku played again with Jethro Tull, this time on Tull's triumphant return to Fillmore West as headliners. The ad above is Bill Graham Presents regular display ad in the Sunday Chronicle. Each ad had the same format, listing the bands and with a picture of a prominent member of the headline group (in this case Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull). For weeks on end, the ad said "illmore West."
Sanpaku were advertised for a Friday night (Nov 21) show at the Santa Rosa County Fairgrounds in Sonoma, supporting Its A Beautiful Day and Cold Blood, but they were replaced by Joy of Cooking, as a Fillmore West show always took precedence over one in the hinterlands.
In his November 30 column, Gleason tantalizingly mentioned a Wednesday night Fillmore West concert, headlined by Creedence and featuring numerous popular local club acts. The show was a benefit for KPFA-fm in Berkeley, as Wednesday was the usual night for such things (this show is outside the known list of BGP events). Yet by the next week, Sanpaku was off the bill (replaced by Commander Cody), and it appears they broke up shortly after this.
Anyone with additional information (band members and road managers, I'm lookin' at ya), please post them in the comments and I will update as needed (thanks to Sanpaku road manager Hewitt Jackson for carrying the flag, sending some great scans and letting me know that Sanpaku was just one word--see the band blog here).