Wednesday, June 2, 2010

2201 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA The Electric Factory: Concert List February-June 1968 (Electric Factory I)

(An ad for shows at Philadelphia's Electric Factory starting on March 24, 1968, from the April 1968 issue of Distant Drummer [#5]--h/t Joe for the scan)

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is one of America's great cities, but its proximity to New York has always made an unfair comparison. Philadelphia has an exciting music history, and an exciting rock music history in the 1960s, but that history can only be documented in the most fragmented of places. This post about the Electric Factory marks the beginning of my effort to organize and analyze Philadelphia rock history in the 1960s.

1967: Early Philadelphia Psychedelia
Philadelphia had an exciting music history, with Dick Clark's American Bandstand and great soul and jazz music, and Philadelphia was an important stop on the Folk music circuit in the early 1960s. As a result, however, psychedelic rock came a little later to the city.

The Trauma
The Trauma was at 2121 Arch Street, near Rittenhouse Square. The proprietor of The Trauma was Manny Rubin, who also ran The 2nd Fret, Philadelphia's leading folk club. The Trauma was a pretty small place, more like a club than a ballroom. Rubin seems to have figured out that the market was moving away from folk towards rock, and his timing was excellent. A number of excellent and interesting bands played The Trauma, although details are hardly complete.

The first show I know about at The Trauma was February 24-26, 1967 with Lothar and The Hand People. The last I can confirm was The Mothers of Invention playing 6 nights at The Trauma at the end of 1967 (December 26-31). Unfortunately, Rubin's excellent timing merely provided a "proof of concept" for the Electric Factory, which opened up in February 1968, just a block away. Apparently The Trauma survived into early 1968, but it could not compete with its larger rival.

The Kaleidoscope
Another early Philadelphia area psychedelic venue was a club called The Kaleidoscope, in a converted movie theater n Main Street in the suburban town of Mayanuk. I do not know the exact address. The proprietor was one David Carroll. I'm not sure how long it was open (a Commenter reports that it opened after The Trauma). Among the only groups that I know for sure that played The Kaleidoscope were The Mandrake Memorial, who was one of (if not the) founding underground groups on the Philadelphia scene, and The Ultimate Spinach (from Massachusetts). A New Jersey garage band called The Satyrs recalled opening for the Spinach and Mandrake Memorial at The Kaleidoscope, but other than that I know little about the venue. Apparently the Kaleidoscope did not survive the opening of the Electric Factory.

The Electric Factory, 2201 Arch Street
The Electric Factory, a former tire warehouse, opened in early 1968 at 2201 Arch.  The owners were the Spivak brothers, all experienced bar owners in the Philadelphia area. Their booker was Larry Magid.  They rapidly dominated the concert scene in Philadelphia, and the Electric Factory were the most important promoters in Philadelphia until they ultimately were purchased by larger corporate interests in the 1990s.

The Electric Factory was a critical stop on 60s concert tours, and an integral part of the "Premier Talent" (Booking Agency) circuit that included both Fillmores, the Boston Tea Party and Chicago's Kinetic Playground. Philadelphia was a big, important city and Philadelphia fans were not shy about showing their appreciation or displeasure (a trait that has endured). However, since the Electric Factory did not generally use posters with collectible art for advertisements, the venue has been somewhat lost to 60s rock history. There were many relatively trivial 60s venues that had a famous poster or two, often printed in The Art Of Rock or otherwise promulgated, that are recalled much more often than the Electric Factory. Outside of Philadelphia, the early history of the Electric Factory is largely ignored, and I am attempting to begin to correct that here.

This list represents my best efforts at determining early 1968 shows at the Electric Factory, as well as shows promoted by Electric Factory concerts. Anyone with additional information, insights, corrections or recovered memories (real or imagined) is encouraged to Comment or email me, and I will update the list accordingly.

February 9-10, 1968  The Chambers Brothers
The date is approximate.  This was the first show at The Electric Factory, and I have assumed it was the weekend before the Peanut Butter Conspiracy. In the Winter, the Electric Factory usually just had shows on Friday and Saturday night, although sometimes for bigger acts they played other days of the week as well. Sometimes there were Saturday afternoon matinee shows (3-7 p.m.). I assume there were shows every weekend, but I have not been able to locate all the dates.

February 16-17, 1968 Peanut Butter Conspiracy/Woody’s Truck Stop
The Peanut Butter Conspiracy list has the group playing the entire week (February 13 thru 18, Tuesday thru Sunday) but weekend gigs only seem more likely.

Woody’s Truck Stop had featured teenage phenom guitarist Todd Rundgren, but he had left by this time.

February 21-22, 1968 Jimi Hendrix Experience/Soft Machine/Woody's Truck Stop
Jimi Hendrix played early and late shows both nights. These dates were a Wednesday and a Thursday, so presumably other acts played the weekend.

March 1-3, 1968 Country Joe and The Fish

March 15-17, 1968 Big Brother and The Holding Company

March 22-24, 1968 Mothers of Invention/Nova Local
The handbill says that each Saturday has a matinee show from 3 to 6, so the Mothers would have played both afternoon on Saturday March 23. I assume many of the other billings had Saturday afternon matinees as well, but I haven't yet pinned that down for sure.

March 26-31, 1968  Muddy Waters American Blues Band/American Dream
American Dream was a Philadelphia band featuring lead guitarist Nick Jameson, who became the bassist for Foghat in the late 70s.

There would have been a Saturday matinee show on March 30.

April 2-4, 1968 Beacon Street Union
The flyer (above) has Boston's Beacon Street Union as the headliner from Tuesday through Thursday. A different source has legendary jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery (along with locals The American Dream) from April 1-4 (Monday through Thursday). These aren't actually incompatible. If Montgomery actually played the Electric Factory, it would have been his only known performance at a rock club. Montgomery was a truly epic guitarist; when he died on June 15, 1968, the Grateful Dead dedicated "Dark Star" to him at the Fillmore East, the only time they ever dedicated that song to anyone.

April 5-7, 1968  Butterfield Blues Band/Pandora’s Box
April 8-11, 1968  Butterfield Blues Band/Hugh Masakela
Butterfield Blues Band would have headlined a Saturday matinee on the afternoon of April 6.

>April 12-14, 1968 Cream/Woody’s Truck Stop
Cream canceled, and played the next week.  Its not clear if there were shows these nights.

April 16, 1968 American Dream
This was a Tuesday night. It appears that as Spring came on, the Electric Factory made an effort to be open six days a week, at least some of the time.

April 17-18, 1968 Stan Kenton & His Neophonic Orchestra ‘Concert and Lecture’
West Coast Big Band leader Stan Kenton was a very important figure in jazz, although he was never a huge commercial success. It does appear there was an effort to book jazz artists on weeknights (given the April bookings for Wes Montgomery, Hugh Masakela and Kenton).

April 19-21, 1968 Cream/Woody’s Truck Stop
Cream was rescheduled from April 12-14. Cream would have headlined the Saturday matinee on April 20.

>April 19-21, 1968 Blood, Sweat & Tears/Elizabeth
Al Kooper had just quit Blood, Sweat and Tears, so they canceled out.  It appears that Cream took over BST’s dates because Kooper had quit.

April 22, 1968 ‘Dance Marathon’
This would have been a Monday afternoon show, probably featuring local bands.

>April 23-28, 1968 Woody's Truck Stop/American Dream/Elizabeth/Edison Electric
This was billed as "The Sound of Philadelphia" on the March poster (above), but the Grateful Dead ended up as headliners for the weekend. Perhaps these four groups still played Tuesday thru Thursday, before the Dead moved in as headliners.

(An ad for shows at Philadelphia's Electric Factory starting on April 26, 1968, from the May 1968 issue of Distant Drummer [#6]--h/t Joe for the scan)

April 26-28, 1968 Grateful Dead/Amboy Dukes/Edison Electric Band/The Amazing Beymont
Based on the two advertisements, the Grateful Dead seemed to have been added rather hurriedly. I have written about the peculiarities of the Dead's April 1968 itinerary elsewhere--suffice to say it appears a Miami sojourn was cut short.

Grateful Dead manager Rock Scully has an hilarious description in his book of the Dead's stay in Philadelphia on their first visit to the Electric Factory. The Dead were housed in a "hotel" that appeared to be a house of prostitution on top of a blues bar. The boys in the band were very unsettled by this, and forced Scully to find students willing to put them up for the week--except for Pigpen, who loved the place and spent the whole time hanging out and playing blues at the bar. Since the Grateful Dead continued to work with the Electric Factory throughout their entire career, presumably better accommodations were provided in later visits.

The Amboy Dukes, a Detroit band featuring lead guitarist Ted Nugent, were riding a big hit with the newly-released "Journey To The Center Of Your Mind."

May 1-3, 1968 Blue Cheer/Elizabeth/Henry Crow Dog
Blue Cheer had cachet insofar as they came from San Francisco, but their music was pretty far from the sinuous folk rock improvisations typical of the Fillmore. Blue Cheer was a loud, loud, loud and proud power trio, playing through veritable wall of Marshall Stax amps. Their first album Vincebus Eruptum, and their hit single "Summertime Blues" were mostly regarded as curiousities except by those who thought they were awesome. Although Blue Cheer was modeled on Cream, their overwhelming sonic assault sort of prefigured Led Zeppelin and Heavy Metal.

May 8-10, 1968 Iron Butterfly/Henry Crow Dog
Iron Butterfly was a Los Angeles-based band (they were actually from San Diego) whose debut album on Atco was fairly popular. The band's mega hit album In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida and the accompanying title track would not come out until the next month (June 1968). Iron Butterfly are somewhat unfairly recalled as one-hit wonders today, but in fact they were probably the second band to break out of the Los Angeles underground and tour nationally (after The Doors) before they hit Platinum record status (the Platinum record was invented by Atco for Iron Butterfly, incidentally).

My sources run dry for identifying any shows for the rest of May and June, except for the Canned Heat show. I have every reason to believe there were shows at the Electric Factory every week, and probably most weeknights throughout the Summer. At some point during the Summers, the Electric Factory held free concerts at the Belmont Plateau in nearby Fairmount Park, advertised as "Be-Ins." They apparently mostly featured the local groups like American Dream, Elizabeth and Edison Electric Band, but I don't know precisely who played, and if any of the National headliners ever showed up.

June 7-9, 1968 Canned Heat
Canned Heat was another band that had broken out of the LA underground and was touring Nationally. They had had a big hit with "On The Road Again" in late 1967, and they were a very popular live act.

For the next entry in the Electric Factory series, see here

37 comments:

  1. Re: February 16-17, 1968....

    At this time, Woody’s Truck Stop NOT featured teenage phenom guitarist Todd Rundgren (he left one year before on May 7, 1967)

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  2. Thanks Bruno. Was Todd Rundgren replaced by Leroy Radcliffe (later in Modern Lovers and Chartbusters), or was there someone in between?

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  3. Corry there is a lot of confusion in some sources around the net because Wikipedia and others claim that Leroy Radcliffe of The Modern Lovers previous play with Woody's Truck Stop and/or previous play with Todd Rundgren. I don't know if Leroy Radcliffe play or not with Todd Rundgren in Utopia or others backing band but I can confirm that he NEVER played in the Woody's Truck Stop. The confusion about this fact is because the guitarist that replaced Todd in Woody's Truck Stop is called Radcliffe too....but Greg Radcliffe not Leroy. I very soon posted my "Woody's Truck Stop Family Tree" on my new blog....
    http://rockprosopography102.blogspot.com/
    check it!

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  4. Thanks for the clarification. I saw Johnathan Richman and The Modern Lovers "Mark 2" in April 1976, with LeRoy Radcliffe (and Dave Robinson), and i cherished the idea that there was a former member of Woody's Truck Stop in the group (plus a future Car). Oh well. A future Chartbuster anyway. Still a memorable show.

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  5. hi
    does any one know when moby grape or procol harum played the factory?
    thanks
    jim

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  6. Well, I guess this means I have to get rolling on the rest of the chronology. However, I can say that Moby Grape played Electric Factory on October 4-5, 1968.

    Procol Harum definitely played Electric Factory in late '68, around November, but I have been unable to pin down the exact date. Procol also played EF on June 20, 1970.

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  7. About Moby Grape.....

    Corry there is a discrepancy about MB October 4-5, 1968 gigs because in your "Moby Grape Performance List" on "Rock Prosopography 101" you say "Electric Factory" but in your "Moby Grape Performance List" on "Chicken on a Unicycle" you say "Psychedelic Supermarket, Boston, MA".....what is the right venue?

    About Procol Harum.....

    In my "PH Performance List" I have only two gig at the Electric Factory in the sixties: 1) March 30, 1969 with Edison Electric Company 2) June 21, 1969 with Sea Train.

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  8. Good reading on the Unicycle list, Bruno. I think we just have a typo--October 4-5 was Philadelphia.

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  9. I have amended the Moby Grape entries on chickenonaunicycle.com for Boston to put the band in Philly on those nights and the Boston dates with Woody's Truck Stop move back to being unknown October dates. I have also added some nifty press cuttings. Thanks for picking this up.

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  10. Great info, and thanks for the ads from the Distant Drummer. The Kaleidoscope in Manayunk actually opened after the Trauma. This was part of the first unsuccessful attempt to turn Manayunk - a Philadelphia neighborhood up the Schuylkill from Center City - into a hip gathering place based on its unique character. I believe it opened in the Spring of 1968. I saw the Beacon Street Union there, and Tim Buckley also played there. Among groups playing the trauma in late '67 through the first half of '68 were Tim Buckley, Clear Light, Charles Lloyd, Buddy Rich, and the Mothers. I saw the Chambers Brothers at the opening of the Electric Factory. Other groups to play there early on were HP Lovecraft and Small Faces. Big Brother & the Holding Company played there in May or June of 1968.

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  11. Also appeared at The Kaleidoscope in Manayunk The Electric Prunes and Rhinocerus.

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  12. Does anyone remember a group named "Freeway"? I saw the opening for Billy Joel mat the au GoGo circa early 70's.

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  13. Oops - I just answered my own question. Discovered the link to the first part of the series. Thanks anyway! Dr. Dale

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  14. I was a regular at the trauma and then the old electric factory. Its a great memory, Hendrix, Joplin,and the cream.One night Lou reed and the velvet underground played the trauma. I had just gotten back from the Haight and had some physcadelic goodies with me Lou and the guitarist approached me . They were looking for Heroin. Sorry guys very uncool.

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    1. Answering this years later. But I was a regular to both the Truama and especially the Electric Factory. Wonder if we knew each other. I can't remember his name but there was a beautiful black friend if mine who was always dancing in the center of the floor most nights.

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  15. Re: April 12-14, 1968 Cream/Woody’s Truck Stop
    Cream canceled, and played the next week. Its not clear if there were shows these nights.

    Re: April 19-21, 1968 Cream/Woody’s Truck Stop
    Cream was rescheduled from April 12-14. Cream would have headlined the Saturday matinee on April 20.

    It had long been thought that the gigs at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia had been postponed from April 12-14 to April 19-21, however this was not the case. Cream played at this venue only on April 12-14 with Woody's Truck Stop (12), The Nazz (13) and Friends Of The Family (14)

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  16. I should have read my notes from the Cream chronology I did a few years ago. It shows the rescheduled performances. It had been so long since I looked at this - so the files need updating. The Cream at Thee Image (with The Blues Image) is almost certainly April 11 (99% sure, and we do have a photograph to demonstrate they played there). That was followed by the Phily dates (April 12-14) which I am certain were not cancelled and rescheduled. There was a flight to England on April 16 (arriving April 17 with Daily Sketch photographic evidence). Note that the October date at Miami stadium was an afternoon show with Terry Reid.

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  17. I was a regular at the Factory at the tender age of 16 and 17. Took lots of psychedelics back then so unfortunately cannot remember all I saw. I remember seeing The Moody Blues and Janis among many others. I went to the Trauma for the first time at age 16 before I took or did anything and was mesmerized. Left Philly a long time ago so just looking back. I remember this awesome black friend of mine but cannot remember his name although wish I could. I remember him dancing to the Doors "When the Music's Over" in the middle of the hall in a trance. This is a very vivid memory of the Factory. He was always dancing trance like to the music of the Factory.

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  18. Am wondering if any of my old friends from the Factory may be reading or blogging here. The Factory was my scene in 1967 and 1968. I called myself "Sunshine" at the time. Just wondering!

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  19. The Trauma and Electric Factory had a great Impact on me. Saw Jimi at the Trauma as well as The Mothers....The Who, Joe Cocker and tons more at the Electric Factory. Great times.

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  20. All the great comments tell me that the Electric Factory had to be a pretty amazing place. Given what a big city Philadelphia is, it's surprising how hard it is to find information about the Electric Factory in the sixties.

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  21. hi thank you so much for this site. i have wondered for years when i certain acts. i thought that i saw big brother on a friday. now i know it was friday november 1,1968. also,moby grape(my fav band of all time) i now know i saw them on either friday october 4th or the 5th. also procol harum,i now know i saw them on march 30,1969. as one might suspect i know i saw them,but with the passage of time my mind is hazy,but i may have seen the chamber brothers on feb 9th or 10th 1968. also,may have seen iron butterfly on may 8th,9th,or the 110th 1968. thank you again it has been great

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  22. Jim, thank you so much for the kind words. Recovered Memories R Us at this site--I figure that one by one each show will get recalled by someone who went.

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  23. According to this interview with Larry Magid, the first electric Factory concert with the Chambers Bros. was Feb. 2, 1968.

    http://www.avclub.com/philadelphia/articles/5-excellent-moments-from-electric-factory-founders,57841/

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  24. I don't remember the Cream date, but the show I went to started very late. The word was that they were trying to sober up Ginger Baker. When they finally came out, he brought a bottle of liquor with him, and in the middle of the Toad drum solo, stood up and took a swig from the bottle.

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  25. Jack, thanks for the great comments. I have most of the information for 1970, but I haven't done the post yet because I've been on hiatus. Seeing the Allmans as a surprise substitute band must have been something.

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  26. Corry, I went to the Kaleidoscope in Manayunk to see Blood, Sweat & Tears in 1968. I believe this was just when David Clayton-Thomas joined. I remember the Kaleidoscope as an old movie theatre with coaches used as seats.

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    1. The link below provides additional information concerning the Kaleidoscope in Manayunk. The date of the Blood Sweat and Tears concert was in 1969, not 1968 as mentioned above. They were the next act after Tim Buckley. They played with Rhinoceros.

      http://timbuckley.net/concert_reviews/kaleidoscope-1969.shtml

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    2. Len, thanks for the interesting link. It seems that the Kaleidoscope was considerably later than I had been led to believe, and it co-existed with the Electric Factory.

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  27. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  28. Re: February 9-10, 1968 The Chambers Brothers

    Actually the exact date was "February 2-4, 1968" and also on the bill: The First Borne

    New gig: February 6-11, 1968: H.P. Lovecraft / The Firt Borne

    Re: February 16-17, 1968 Peanut Butter Conspiracy / Woody’s Truck Stop

    Actually a first version of the poster listed the date as "February 13-18, 1968" but a later version listed the date only as "February 16-18, 1968"

    Re: February 21-22, 1968 Jimi Hendrix Experience/Soft Machine/Woody's Truck Stop

    I see both a poster and a calendar for this above gigs and Woody's Truck Stop were not on the bill.

    New gig: February 23-25, 1968: Group Image / Edison Electric Band

    New gig: February 27-28, 1968: Elizabeth

    New gig: March 5-7, 1968: Ultimate Spinach

    New gig: March 8-9, 1968: Vanilla Fudge / First Borne

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  29. Elaine, The Doors never played The Factory.

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    1. Chiiller I meant the DJ playing albums and all of us dancing. Sorry for the confusion. Luckily I am not that spaced out.

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  30. As far as your wondering if any of the headliners ever played at the be-ins at Belmont Plateau, I can attest to the fact that Blue Cheer did in fact play the weekend they appeared which you list as May 1-3, 1968.
    The reason I am sure of this is I saw them play at The Factory and then went to the be-in the next day where the Bass Player,appearing to have ingested some of Owsley's Blue Cheer, proceeded to ram my shin with his bass guitar case and obliviously keep on walking, leaving me writhing in pain.

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  31. Excellent job! I was a teenager smuggled into the Electric Factory, by my "older" boyfriend, and saw Jefferson Airplane (sorry can't remember what year 69 or 1970?). Such a memorable experience. Grateful to have lived in Philly during that era. Thanks for resurrecting the greatest time ever!

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  32. June 22, 1969 - I believe Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys, and Seals & Crofts were on the bill with Nazz.

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  33. Can you please help me with your options for Philadelphia venues? I am eagerly looking for wedding venue and every venue is very expensive. Please suggest any affordable venue.

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