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 shows--as a starting point for the band's look backwards.
In the late 1960s, Bill 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 managed by Bill Graham and was also 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 of Graham's stewardship, Sanpaku played on some very high profile shows in the late 60s where they acquitted themselves quite well, and their future seemed quite promising. Although Sanpaku made a number of studio and live recordings in 1969, some of them are lost and others have not yet surfaced. For various reasons, despite their promise, the band broke up at the end of 1969. Nonetheless, their history provides an interesting window into the expanding rock market in late 60s California.
Genesis: The Working Class
Sanpaku was a Sacramento based band that formed from a Sacramento group called The Working Class. The Working Class featured guitarist Mark Pearson, and they had played a variety of hip and unhip gigs around the Sacramento area in 1967 and 1968. In the Summer of 1968, The Working Class became the house band at a venue called Kings Beach Bowl on the North Shore of the Lake. Lake Tahoe was a Northern California vacation resort that had a unique rock scene in the 1960s that I will explore a different time, but suffice to say major San Francisco and touring bands found time to play both the Kings Beach Bowl and the two venues on the South Shore (The American Legion Hall and The Sanctuary).
By mid-Summer, however, seeing the quality of the Fillmore bands coming through Kings Beach Bowl, Pearson wanted to improve the band. Various members departed and were replaced throughout the Summer. Lake Tahoe based organist Bob Powell, most recently a member of Johnny and The Hurricanes and also the booker for Kings Beach Bowl, had joined the group. An All-Star team of Sacramento musicians was assembled by a variety of means and inserted into the band. They were joined by bassist Kootch Trochim, recently of The Family Tree, who happened to be in Lake Tahoe for other reasons.
Sanpaku finished out the Summer at Kings Beach Bowl, playing every weekend at the club, as well as occasional gigs at The Sanctuary. Whether they used the name Sanpaku or Working Class isn't clear to me yet, but one of the many peculiarities of the Lake Tahoe scene was that band names didn't matter much in a vacation town. In any case, the band thought of themselves as Sanpaku. The band's initial lineup was
- Mark Pearson-guitar, vocals
- Gary Larkey-saxophone, flute
- Stan Bagdizian-saxophone
- Bob Powell-organ
- Kootch Trochim-bass
- Duane "Motor" Timme-drums
List Of Known Sanpaku Performances 1968-69
This list has been compiled from a variety of sources, but it only represents the confirmed shows that I have been able to uncover. In many cases that means high-profile shows, shows where Sanpaku played with an interesting act who had a history of their own, or shows with a surviving poster. Thanks to road manager Hewitt Jackson and some band members, I have been privileged to find out considerably more about the group's performing history. However, anyone who recalls seeing Sanpaku, or knows about additional shows or has other relevant information is encouraged to Comment or email me. As I get new information, I will update and later re-publish the post.
September-December 1968: The Sound Factory, Sacramento
The Sound Factory, at 1817 Alhambra Street in Sacramento, was an effort to capture the expanding rock concert market in Sacramento. This appeared to be a sound strategy, as bands toured the West Coast and were always looking for additional shows in Northern California beyond San Francisco or the East Bay. The proprietor of The Sound Factory, Whitey Davis (worthy of a whole book, not just a blog post), had worked at the Avalon Ballroom in 1966 and 1968 and in between he had booked rock shows at Portland's legendary Crystal Ballroom.
The Sound Factory is another fascinating 60s rock byway that I can't address here, but during its opening weeks in the Summer of 1968 the venue featured a number of collectible posters that circulate widely. The venue was never on a sound financial footing however, a hallmark of many Whitey Davis ventures, so the exact bookings of the Sound Factory after the Summer of 1968 are largely obscure, even though I think there were shows there almost every weekend in the Fall.
However, Sanpaku decamped to Sacramento after the Lake Tahoe Summer season ended after Labor Day. They became the "house band" and the band members recall playing every Friday and Saturday night at the Sound Factory through mid-October. Whitey Davis was very impressed with the band, and wanted to become their manager. Davis helped arrange the band a booking at a Tuesday night audition show at the Fillmore West.
October 26, 1968 Freeborn Hall, UC Davis: Glass Thunder/Sanpaku
Freeborn Hall was the biggest auditorium at UC Davis. I do not know who Glass Thunder were, nor why they could headline Davis's largest hall. I assume this was some sort of student event.
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. Incidentally, Big Foot featured Reed Nielsen, then probably the band's drummer. Nielsen would switch over to keyboards and go on to work with Mark Pearson in the Nielsen-Pearson band, who had a pretty good run of success in the late 70s and early 80s (releasing three albums and some semi-hit singles on CBS and Capitol), but that was far off in the future. Reed Nielsen has gone on to become a successful Nashville country songwriter.
This was the show that brought Sanpaku to Bill Graham's attention. 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 $1.00 or $1.50, and it was a popular stop for record company reps and managers to see what might be happening. There is an extant flyer for this show (it says “1.00 Jam”). Crystal Syphon and Crazy Horse were both Merced bands.
|A flyer for the January 21, 1969 Tuesday audition at Fillmore West with Sanpaku and the bands Crystal Syphon and Crazy Horse from Merced. Most Tuesday night shows did not have flyers. Probably the flyer came from the Crystal Syphon side.|
In any case, newly outfitted by Graham with equipment from Leo's Music in Oakland, Sanpaku began to play regularly around the Bay Area and beyond. What follows is the shows that I have been able to confirm.
February 28-March 1 Dream Bowl, Vallejo: 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 in 1969, 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 17, 1969 Winterland, San Francisco: Jefferson Airplane/Grateful Dead/Sons Of Champlin/Sanpaku
Bob Powell recalls opening for the Airplane, the Dead and the Sons at Winterland. The most likely date seems to be this last-second Monday benefit. I have written about it elswehere. The exact lineup for the evening's performance remains unknown, so its hard to confirm. Hewitt Jackson recalls that The Sons wore mock prison jumpsuits, symbolic of their recent signing to Capitol Records.
March 20, 21 or 22, 1969 Winterland, San Francisco: Janis Joplin and Her Kozmic Blues Band/Savoy Brown/AUM/Sanpaku
Hewitt Jackson and Bob Powell recall opening for a very sloppy Kozmic Blues Band at Winterland, and a dismayed Janis Joplin grumbling about having to come on after the tight and flexible performance of Sanpaku.
It was common for opening acts to be added or subtracted from larger shows at the last second. Since AUM were a Millard band, I would guess that Sanpaku stood in for them one night when AUM had a different show elsewhere, but I don't know that for a fact.
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.
April 4-6, 1969 Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco: Grateful Dead/Flying Burrito Brothers/Aum/Sanpaku
This show looms large in the taper universe, as the Dead, Burritos and Aum were all broadcast live on KPFA-fm. That night and the first night (Friday April 4) were also part of an archival release of the Flying Burrito Brothers. Yet Sanpaku members recall playing that weekend, and an account book references the fact that the band got paid for the weekend. So they were definitely there (top level operatives are researching the details).
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).
A Commenter has a particularly fond memory of Sanpaku's great performance as the opening act.
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: 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 20-21 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia and Friends/Sanpaku
Sanpaku opened for Garcia on a Tuesday and a Wednesday at the Matrix. It remains a mystery who Garcia actually played with--most likely some sort of Mickey and The Hartbeats setup (h/t JGMF for this).
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 Crazy Horse were Merced-area bands.
Around this time, Sanpaku added another member, singer and conguero Rico Reyes. Reyes was part of the Santana crowd, and he provided vocals and percussion on various early Santana albums. He later went on to help found the terrific band Azteca in the early 1970s.
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: 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, San Francisco: 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 pretty sure that the opening act Fritz was the Menlo Park band, 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.
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 above 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: 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. Ginsberg had been at the University of Wisconsin, and had recently moved to San Francisco. Ginsberg was only in the band for a few weeks.
October 9, 1969 Pauley Ballroom, UC Berkeley, Berkeley: Sons of Champlin/Sanpaku
October 11, 1969 Cal Expo, State Fairgrounds, Sacramento: 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, San Francisco: Sanpaku/Mendelbaum
October 31, 1969 Gym, Monte Vista High School, Danville: Country Weather/Sanpaku/First Time Around
The flyer for this just says "M.V. Gym." Many flyers for school dances had very little such information, since the only audience was students who knew the location of the gym (thanks to a Commenter for suggesting the correct location).
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.
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.
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).
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 (above), 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 they broke up shortly after this. It appears that one member of the band was not available due to getting framed in a drug bust--a common enough occurrence for 60s longhairs--and while the legal problems were resolved, the band did not survive the hiatus.
There are many fascinating twists and turns in the Sanpaku tale, well beyond the narrow confines of my concert blog, and I am confident that much of this information will be forthcoming in the future. In the meantime, Sanpaku road manager Hewitt Jackson continues to carry the flag, making sure the band stays together in spirit as well as in fact (see the band blog here). The rise and demise of Sanpaku is a fascinating tale, and this chronology only sketches a broad outline. Anyone with additional information about Sanpaku shows, please post them in the comments and I will update as needed.