Keystone Berkeley, 2119 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA: Performance List January-April 1975
The Keystone Berkeley had opened on March 1, 1972, taking over the site of a club called The New Monk. With an experienced owner in Freddie Herrera, and a legal capacity of 476--probably exceeded regularly--Keystone Berkeley almost immediately became the second-best rock gig in the Bay Area. The premier booking, of course, for any band, was playing concerts for Bill Graham Presents. BGP booked all the big acts in the biggest halls, but that included every major touring act. Winterland shows still usually booked three band, but for the most parts there were fewer opening acts. A local band, even one with some albums under its belt, wasn't going to play often enough for Graham to stay afloat. Popular local bands could play the Keystone every month or two, and that would pay the rent.
Although the top local acts played the Keystone Berkeley, changes in the rock industry meant that there were fewer touring acts booked there by 1975. For one thing, thanks to the "Oil Shock," the economic downturn had reduced the number of band touring. For another, the record industry was throwing a lot of support to "singer/songwriters," and they were more appropriate for the Boarding House than the noisy Keystone. The Keystone was for fans who wanted to hang out and dance. Disco music, however, was indirectly cutting into that as well. It's not that Keystone Berkeley regulars liked disco music--they mostly probably didn't. But for couples who wanted to go out and dance--or singles who wanted to find someone to dance with--a disco was another alternative. So in 1975, the Keystone Berkeley was doing well, but the bookings weren't as diverse as when it had opened. Still, the Bay Area had a thriving rock scene, and plenty of local bands had established careers and put on great live shows.
Also, although Keystone Berkeley was in the center of the city, it was on the Northern edge of downtown, and their were plenty of potential patrons who lived within walking distance of the club. While the bigger acts were going to pull fans from all over the East Bay, and probably Marin or even parts of San Francisco, on weeknights the Keystone was just a local joint. When a band was playing Monday night for no cover, a lot of nearby residents probably dropped in for a beer. Thus the Keystone could advertise for bigger acts on weekends, but still have a modest, profitable night with local bands, a rare combination for a semi-suburban nightclub.
I have reviewed all the Keystone Berkeley performances for 1972, the first year the club was open. I also zoomed in for a snapshot of the January, 1974 bookings. This post will review the performers at the Keystone Berkeley from January through April, 1975.
Keystone Berkeley Performance List January-April 1975
December 29, 1974 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Kingfish with Bob Weir and Dave Torbert (Sunday)
December 30, 1974 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Van Morrison with Soundhole/Elvin Bishop/John Lee Hooker (Monday)
December 31, 1974 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Lucky Strike (Sunday)
Keystone Berkeley had ended 1974 with some premier acts that any nightclub in the country would have been happy to book, and one "almost."
The Grateful Dead had "retired," sort of, after some Winterland shows in October 1974. A restless Bob Weir had visited a gig by his old friend Matt Kelly and his band Kingfish. Weir had asked to sit in, and it went so well that he joined the band. Also on board was ex-New Rider Dave Torbert. Lead guitarist Robbie Hoddinott and drummer Chris Herold filled out the band. Kelly played harmonica and guitar, and Torbert and Weir shared most of the lead vocals. Kingfish played blues and old rock and roll, with a few originals thrown in. They were a good rocking band, all the more so for restless Deadheads with no one else to see. The Sunday night Keystone show was probably Weir's 5th show with Kingfish, and likely the first one where he was advertised.
A fellow blogger attended these shows, and gives a detailed account of Kingfish's performance. At this time, Kingfish's repertoire was not set, and they played a few numbers that did not stay in their subsequent rotation. Also, although James And The Mercedes were booked, they did not open the show.
On Monday night, December 30, Van Morrison was the headliner. Morrison lived in Fairfax, and liked to play local clubs. Soundhole was his Marin-based backing band. Three members of Soundhole would go on to Huey Lewis and The News (bassist Mario Cipollina, guitarist Johnny Colla and drummer Bill Gibson).
John Lee Hooker, by now a resident of Redwood City, was a Keystone Berkeley regular. My guess is that Hooker just sat in with Van's group, rather than hiring his own band.
Elvin Bishop, another Keystone regular, and friends to both headliners, was also on the bill. It's entirely possible that Bishop just sat in with Hooker and Van, rather than bringing his own group.
An early Keystone Berkeley ad listed Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders as "tentative" for New Year's Eve. In the end, Garcia chose not to play. Local band Lucky Strike filled in.
|Cold Blood's 1974 album on Reprise was Lydia, banking on the potential star power of lead singer Lydia Pense|
January 3-4, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Cold Blood/Caledonia Express (Friday-Saturday)
Cold Blood is generally associated with the East Bay funk sound of bands like Tower Of Power. The East Bay association was appropriate musically, but in fact Cold Blood had its roots in the South Bay. Lead singer Lydia Pense, from San Mateo, and bassist Rod Ellicott had been in a Peninsula Band in 1966 called the New Invaders, who then evolved into The Generation. The Generation were known as the first Bay Area band to merge a horn section with a rock band. The Generation turned into Cold Blood, and they were signed to Bill Graham's San Francisco label (distributed by Atlantic). Cold Blood had released two albums on San Francisco, their self-titled debut (1969) and Sisyphus (1970), which spawned a modest local hit with a remake of "You Got Me Hummin'." Lydia Pense was a powerful singer, and Cold Blood was a tight band, so the group was very popular in night clubs and at local dances. In retrospect, however, they sound as if they were trying a bit too hard, instead of just playing the music they liked.
After Graham's labels folded, Cold Blood ended up on Reprise. In 1974, they had released Lydia, their fifth album. The album was produced by Steve Cropper, and various session heavies had played on it, along with members of the band. The great Oakland drummer Gaylord Birch was on the album, but I think he had left by this time (to become the Pointer Sisters bandleader). By calling the album Lydia, Reprise was clearly hoping to draw attention to Pense, the most recognizable member of the band. Still, while Cold Blood was good, but they didn't really stand out. Their James Brown-styled music was somewhat retro by 1975. That in itself wasn't bad, but it meant that they had to carve out their own sound, and Cold Blood never managed to rise to that level, despite being a popular club band.
Caledonia Express is unknown to me.
Lucky Strike were an Alameda County Band that played original music, described as "danceable rock." I think they were from Hayward or Fremont. They were a popular club band and regularly played weeknights at Keystone Berkeley. I don't believe they ever released a record.
Peak is unknown to me. Keystone Berkeley used Monday nights to try out new bands. Locals would drop by for a beer and check them out, as there was usually no cover.
Snooky Flowers was baritone sax player who had been a regular on the rock scene for some years. He had played Woodstock as a member of Janis Joplin's Kozmic Blues Band, among other things. He had sat in with many local groups, and appeared on many albums. He was also a successful professional photographer, a profession he ultimately took up full time.
Headhunters was the name of Flowers' band, but I don't know who was in it. Flowers recorded a demo album at Mickey Hart's Novato studio around this time, and the tape circulates.
January 10-11, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee/Dave Alexander (Friday-Saturday)
Sonny Terry (1911-1986) and Brownie McGhee (1915-1996) achieved some fame in the 50's and 60s' as traditional folk blues artists, but in fact both had already had extensive performing careers in a variety of musical genres prior to that. By the 1970s, they were generally associated with folk-style acoustic blues, and that appealed to mainly white audiences. There were few paying gigs anymore in white folk clubs, but since Keystone owner Freddie Herrera regularly booked blues acts, Keystone fans got the benefit of that.
Dave Alexander was a mostly self-taught blues pianist. He had moved to Oakland in 1957, when he was in the US Navy. He had released two albums on Berkeley's Arhoolie Records. His most recent had been The Dirt On The Ground, from 1973. Alexander almost always played solo, a rarity for blues pianists in the 1970s.
January 13, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Lucky Strike/Coal Train (Monday)
Coal Train is unknown to me.
January 16, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Earth Quake/Grayson Street (Thursday)
The Long Branch, at 2504 San Pablo Avenue (at Dwight Way) was just 2 miles South and West of Keystone Berkeley. While the two clubs were of course in competition with each other, local bands had a symbiotic relationship with both. Keystone Berkeley was larger and nearer to campus, so it had bigger and more prestigious bookings. It also drew from a larger area, at least when there were higher profile bookings.
Still, the Long Branch had a capacity of up to 350, so it too could sell a lot of beer. The Long Branch draw from a younger, narrower base that lived nearer to the club. The Long Branch's audience was more oriented towards repeat business, however, so the same bands could play the Long Branch over and over, often every week. Bands that had established themselves at the Long Branch tried to move up to the Keystone Berkeley, and expand their audience. When they did this, however, their own Long Branch crowds remained loyal, so a successful band could play both clubs.
Earth Quake had formed at Berkeley High School in the 60s as The Purple Earthquake. In 1972, they would release their second album on A&M Records, Why Don't You Try Me. A&M would drop Earth Quake by the end of that year. Earth Quake had refused to give up, however. By 1974, the band had built up a huge following at the Long Branch, regularly headlining Friday night shows. With their own fan base, they had built a crowd at the Keystone Berkeley as well.
Earth Quake played in a somewhat anachronistic "British Invasion" style, but it would end up coming back into vogue when the "New Wave" surfaced. Earth Quake had original material, but they also covered obscure hits from the 60s (like "Fridays On My Mind," by the Australian band The Easybeats), so they distinguished themselves from other bands. Earth Quake would resuscitate their career in 1975 by releasing records on their own label, Beserkely Records, presaging the punk/DIY movement by some years.
Grayson Street were a sort of roots-rock band from the East Bay. They were co-led by harmonica player Rick Kellogg and tenor saxophonist Terry Hanck, both of whom sang. Grayson Street never recorded, but many of its members ended up working with Elvin Bishop, Coke Escovedo, Tower Of Power, Santana and others. Lenny Pickett had been in Grayson Street, prior to answering the call from Tower. Grayson Street had played regularly at the Keystone and the Long Branch for over 3 years.
January 17-18, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Grayson Street (Friday-Saturday)
While headlining both nights of the weekend was a good deal for Grayson Street, it was a sign that the Keystone Berkeley didn't really have any better bookings. Grayson Street was a local band, with a following, and surely deserved their chance. But they had played Thursday night with Earth Quake, and here on the weekend they had both nights.
January 19-20, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Eddie Money/Third Rail (Sunday-Monday)
Back when he was still Eddie Mahoney, a recently relocated police trainee from New York City, Eddie Money had been the lead singer of a band called The Rockets. The Rockets had been regulars at the Long Branch since early 1972. By 1974, they were headlining the club regularly, and they changed their name to Eddie Money and The Rockets, then the Eddie Money Band, and then just Eddie Money. At this time, Eddie Money was still just an East Bay act, but he was starting to get at least some attention from local writers.
Third Rail was a local band. I don't really know anything about them, but I actually saw them around this period, opening a show at Winterland. If I recall correctly, they were a hard rocking power trio.
January 21-22, 1975 Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders/Paul Pena (Tuesday-Wednesday)
Jerry Garcia had always been essential to the economic well-being of the Keystone Berkeley, but that was more true than ever in 1975. All told, Jerry Garcia played Keystone Berkeley 243 times (that we can confirm) over the course of 12 years, a number that dwarfs any other venue that Garcia played. I would guess that Garcia also played the Keystone Berkeley more than any other musician, although I can't prove that.
Garcia's importance to Keystone Berkeley went well beyond the fact that he was a huge draw, which he certainly was. For one thing, Garcia often played weeknights, packing the house on nights when the club would either be dark or just have a few casual patrons with no cover charge. For another, the nature of Garcia's fans was that many of them arrived as soon as the doors opened around 8:00pm, to stake out the few seats or just to hang out. Lots and lots of extra beer was sold, even though they knew perfectly well that Garcia would not come on until 10:00.
Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders had opened the Keystone Berkeley on March 1, 1972. They had even recorded a double album there, Live At Keystone (credited to Garcia/Saunders/Kahn/Vitt). It had been recorded in July 1973, and released on Fantasy Records in January 1974. The album gave the Keystone Berkeley a regional and national status not usually afforded to a beer joint near a college campus, yet another way in which Garcia was essential to the club's well-being.
In October 1974, the Grateful Dead had gone on hiatus and stopped touring. Up until that time, the Garcia-Saunders aggregation had not really been a band, as it didn't have a name, nor even a fixed membership. Bassist John Kahn was almost always present, but even he skipped a gig on occasion. The drum chair was fluid, and other players had come and gone, sometimes for a few months or just one show. At the end of 1974, however, Garcia made his side-trip into a formal band. Legion Of Mary, as they were called, was Garcia, Saunders, Kahn, drummer Ron Tutt and tenor saxophonist Martin Fierro. Garcia was insistent that the band be billed that way, and that the Grateful Dead were never mentioned in any advertisements.
Drummer Ron Tutt, however, not only drummed for Garcia but also for one Elvis Presley (think about this for a moment). If Tutt had a gig with Elvis, Garcia often still wanted to play, so the band would use a different drummer. If they used a different drummer, the group was booked as Garcia/Saunders, not Legion Of Mary. This wasn't widely understood at the time, but it was important to Garcia, and always honored by Freddie Herrera at the Keystone.
In the case of these Keystone dates, we know that both Ron Tutt and John Kahn were not present. The guest bassist was Tony Saunders, Merl's son, and a regular fill-in. On drums was the great Gaylord Birch, one of Oakland's best drummers. Birch was probably the band leader for the Pointer Sisters at this time. Later in his career, Birch would drum with Garcia in the band Reconstruction (around 1979).
|Paul Pena's Capitol album, released in 1972|
Paul Pena, who was mostly blind due to a childhood condition, had led a blues band in Philadelphia that had opened for the Grateful Dead at the Electric Factory in February 1969. Pena became friendly with Garcia. He would move to the Bay Area in 1971. Almost entirely blind by that time, Pena called the Dead office, who helped him get work.
Pena recorded two albums, both with a who's who of local SF players. His self-titled debut album had come out on Capitol in 1972. The followup, New Train, was recorded for Bearsville in 1973, but (like many Bearsville albums) was tied up in litigation for decades and not released until 2000. However, Steve Miller had heard a copy of New Train, and in 1977 he made a big hit of Pena's song "Jet Airliner," providing Pena with a solid income. Pena ended up living near Keystone Berkeley, so he played the club regularly
January 23, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Frank Biner and Nite Shift (Thursday)
Frank Biner was a popular local soul singer. Over the course of the 70s, Tower Of Power recorded a few of his songs, and Biner put out a few albums as a bandleader in the 90s, but back in '75 Biner was just another guy working the clubs with his band Nite Shift. Biner was originally from Chicago, where he had recorded a few singles, but he had moved to the East Bay in the late 60s. On occasion, some members of Tower Of Power would sit in with The Nite Shift.
January 25, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Kingfish/James And The Mercedes (Saturday)
Kingfish returned for a weekend of performances. Saturday night opener James And The Mercedes was led by guitarist James Ackroyd. Ackroyd had been in the Canadian group James And The Good Brothers, who had met the Dead on their infamous Canadian train tour. The band had relocated to San Francisco for a while, and recorded an album for Columbia in 1971. The Good Brothers ultimately returned to Canada and some success, while Ackroyd chose to remain in the Bay Area. One of the backing singers in his band was Frankie Weir, Bob's then-wife.
January 26, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Caledonia Express (Sunday)
January 27, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Crackin'/Amber (Monday)
Crackin' was an R&B band from San Mateo. They released an album on Polydor in 1975. They also played my High School graduation dance later in the year.
Amber is unknown to me.
Eddie Palmieri was a Latin bandleader from New York, who seemed to be based in the Bay Area at this time. In the late 50s, Latin dance music had been very popular, and leaders like Palmieri added some jazz to make the music sophisticated, while still danceable. In the early 70s, however, Latin music was at a low ebb in the Bay Area. Palmieri seems to have been getting some weeknight gigs at Keystone Berkeley simply because there were few other options. Palmieri's current album was The Sun Of Latin Music (on Coco Records).
Pete and Coke Escovedo had been established musicians on the San Francisco Latin Jazz scene since the 1960s, when that music was popular in North Beach and Broadway. In the 1970s, the Escovedos had worked with Carlos Santana, and had also formed Azteca. Azteca was a remarkable group, playing progressive jazz with a Latin twist, with contemporary lyrics layered above it. Azteca had up to 15 members, including 3 or 4 vocalists and a horn section. They had put out two albums on Columbia (in 1971 and '73). The records got incredible reviews, but there was no way they could break through to sell enough records to break even. At this point, I think any band the Escovedos fronted was called Azteca--which wasn't invalid--but it's unlikely to have been the All-Star ensemble of prior years.
January 30, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Delta Wires (Thursday)
Delta Wires were a hard-working band from Oakland. They had formed in 1970 at the California College of Arts and Crafts (on Broadway Terrace), and had been gigging ever since. They had a bluesy sound with a 3-piece horn section. They played East Bay clubs for many years, and developed a local following, but never graduated beyond the East Bay.
January 31, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Booker T/Howard Wales (Friday)
While Booker T Jones was nationally famous from leading Booker T and The MGs, he in fact lived in the Bay Area at this time. He had left Stax Records and the MGs, and had been living in the North Bay with his wife, Priscilla Coolidge (Rita's sister). Booker T and Priscilla had put out two albums on A&M in 1972 and '73. In 1974, Booker T made a solo album for Epic under his own name. Evergreen had been recorded at the Record Plant in Sausalito, but with heavyweight session men from LA and Memphis (Michael Utley, David T. Walker, Jim Keltner, Bobbye Hall, Bob Glaub). Booker T's band featured Bay Area players: Fred Burton on guitar (ex-Southern Comfort), Doug Kilmer on bass and Pete Melios on drums.
Howard Wales was a veteran organ player. He had played with Lonnie Mack and others in the 60s, and then moved out to San Francisco in 1968. He had joined a group called AB Skhy, and then left them. Wales had been Jerry Garcia's initial jamming partner at the Matrix, and Garcia had been inspired by Wales sophisticated, free-form approach to improvisation. Garcia cited Wales as a big influence on his playing. Wales and Garcia had recorded the Hooteroll? album for Douglas Records (a Columbia imprint), released in 1971. Wales, however, did not like the spotlight, so he had stopped playing with Garcia.
Periodically, however, Wales would resurface in the local clubs. This was one of those periods. His band featured guitarist Jim Vincent, a Chicago transplant, who had played with Wales earlier. Wales' group didn't play songs, but rather would just jam.
February 1-2, 1975 Sons Of Champlin/Howard Wales (Saturday-Sunday)
The Sons Of Champlin had been together in some form or other since 1966. They had released three albums on Capitol, then broken up, kind of, changed their name (to Yogi Phlegm), changed it back, released an album in 1973 and then got dropped by Columbia. The band kept on plugging, however. By 1975, still a popular club act, the Sons decided to record and release their own album. This radical strategy would soon be adopted by the rest of the record industry later in the 1970s. In the meantime, steady gigs at places like Keystone Berkeley had kept the Sons afloat.
The core of the Sons had been the same since 1971: namesake Bill Champlin on lead vocals, organ and guitar, Terry Haggerty on lead guitar, Geoff Palmer on keyboards and vibes, David Schallock on bass and Jim Preston on drums. They had since added a horn section, Mark Isham on trumpet and Phil Woods on saxophone. It was this lineup that would record their independent album a few months later.
|Frankie Beverly and Raw Soul, ca mid-70s|
February 3, 1975 Frankie Beverly's Raw Soul (Monday)
Frankie Beverly was from Philadelphia, and he had recorded some singles in the 60s as part of The Butlers. In 1970, he had gotten signed by ace producer Kenny Gamble, and had formed a group called Raw Soul. Raw Soul recorded a few singles, but wasn't right for the smooth sound created by Gamble, however. Somehow, Raw Soul had gotten support from Marvin Gaye, and they ended up relocating to San Francisco. Raw Soul toured around with Gaye, who suggested they change their name to Maze. Maze would release their first album in 1977, and the band remains a huge success, still touring in the present day.
Frankie Beverly and his band playing a "no-cover" Monday night is one of those bookings that makes looking back at old Keystone billings historic.
February 6-7, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: California (Thursday-Friday)
California were refugees from the Monterey Peninsula College jazz band. They were a six-piece band with horns, who played in the style of Chicago (with the appropriate name). California was led by songwriter and vocalist Brad Stewart, who also played lead guitar. California played Keystone Berkeley regularly. I saw California a few months later, when they played my high school graduation dance (along with Crackin').
February 8, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Butch Whacks and The Glass Packs (Saturday)
Butch Whacks and His Glass Packs were a 15-piece rock and roll band dedicated to performing old style rock and roll hits from the 50s and early 60s. The band got their start as students at St. Mary’s College in Moraga playing frat parties, and eventually morphed into a very popular bay area club and theater act.
February 9, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Cold Blood/Eddie Money (Sunday)
February 10, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Elvin Bishop Group/Lucky Strike (Monday) Benefit
This show was advertised as a benefit, while being coy about the name of the headliner. Local writers effectively indicated that it was Elvin Bishop. Presumably, Bishop had an advertised gig that would prevent him from playing a publicly identified show at Keystone Berkeley.
Elvin Bishop had moved to the Bay Area in late 1968. When he formed the Elvin Bishop Group in 1969, Freddie Herrera had booked him regularly at the Keystone Korner. When Herrera had opened the Keystone Berkeley, Bishop was booked there regularly as well. Bishop and Herrera were loyal to each other, although that relationship would ultimately fray.
Bishop had been signed by Bill Graham and released two albums on Fillmore, the BGP Columbia imprint. When that label folded, Epic had picked Bishop up, then dropped him after another album. Bishop had reformulated his group and gotten signed by Capricorn Records, the Allman Brothers label. His May 1974 album, Let It Flow, was had certainly been his most successful nationally to date.
February 11, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Suntar (Tuesday)
Suntar is unknown to me.
February 12-13, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Bo Diddley/John Lee Hooker (Wednesday-Thursday)
Bo Diddley and John Lee Hooker had gotten booked at the Fillmores and college campuses when white college kids were re-discovering the blues and the roots of rock and roll. Tastes had moved on, however. Freddie Herrera still regularly booked those acts, however, keeping the blues alive and providing an opportunity for them to be heard.
February 14-15, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Kingfish/Grayson Street (Friday-Saturday)February 17, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Eli/Mosaic Band (Monday)
I actually saw Eli once, opening a show at Winterland around this time. I don't remember them, however. The Mosaic Band is unknown to me.
February 18-19, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Eddie Palmieri (Tuesday-Wednesday)
February 21, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Earth Quake/Eddie Money (Friday)
February 22-23, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Frank Biner & The Night Shift (Saturday-Sunday)
February 24, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Soundhole (Monday)
Soundhole was a Marin County band that had formed around 1973. In 1974, Soundhole had hired on as Van Morrison's backing band, so they had a certain status around the Bay Area, even if they had never made an album. Soundhole played rock with some jazz and soul edges, appropriately enough in the style of mid-70s Van Morrison. Soundhole never did make an album (you can find a Nov 26 '74 Winterland tape if you poke around Wolfgang's Vault), but most of the band members went on to bigger things. Guitarist Brian Marnell was in SVT, with Jack Casady, organist John Farey was in Zero, and saxophonist Johnny Colla, bassist Mario Cipollina and drummer Bill Gibson would go on to Huey Lewis and The News (tenor saxophonist Brian Hogan was the other member). Soundhole were good, if not well-known. University and Shattuck was just an hour from San Rafael, so it would have been worth the trip for the band to cross the Richmond bridge.
February 25, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Good Old Boys/Soundhole "Country Rock Dance" (Tuesday)
Tuesday night was more intriguing, and for those curious folks who showed up, it was the kind of event that gave the Keystone its cachet. The Good Old Boys were a group of bluegrass legends, who had just made a record produced by Jerry Garcia. No one knew that yet, since the record would not be released until a year later (Pistol Packin' Mama, by the Good Old Boys). The album had featured mandolinist Frank Wakefield, fiddler Chubby Wise and Don Reno on banjo. All were certifiable bluegrass legends. New Riders guitarist David Nelson was also on board, as well as bassist Pat Campbell. They had recorded the album at the end of January.
Wise and Reno had departed the Bay Area, but Wakefield was still around. Jerry Garcia, who had not played on the album sessions, worked up his banjo chops, and the Good Old Boys had played on Friday and Saturday at a nightclub in Santa Cruz. Fellow blogger CryptDev was an eyewitness. The band for the Santa Cruz shows was Wakefield (mandolin), Garcia (banjo), Nelson (guitar), Campbell (bass) and Brantley Kearns (fiddle). Conveniently, the long-dormant tapes were released in 2019.
It seems, however, that Garcia wasn't going to practice banjo just for a weekend. The Good Old Boys played a stealth gig at Keystone Berkeley. On an otherwise empty Tuesday night (see the advance calendar above), the Tuesday afternoon SF Examiner listed "Country Rock Dance with Good Old Boys and Soundhole." The Good Old Boys would have been thoroughly unknown, and Garcia was sensitive about his name being used when he wasn't the frontman. The underground telegraph would have gotten to work, however, and saying "Country Rock Dance" was a tip to those who might have heard a rumor. Old And In The Way, Garcia's bluegrass ensemble, had played the Keystone Berkeley many times, as had the Great American String Band, so Garcia playing banjo at Keystone would have been well understood.
Whether Soundhole actually stayed over and played another night isn't clear. I have discussed the peculiar history of this event in even greater detail elsewhere. Still, after Garcia played, word must have been around--hey, Jerry played at Keystone Tuesday night!.
February 26, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: (Man with Deke Leonard)/Earth Quake (Wednesday)
Man, a great Welsh band that was popular on Bay Area FM radio, was advertised for February. Guitarist Deke Leonard's solo albums were getting airplay, as well, so when he rejoined Man his name had a little heft in the Bay Area. Man was on tour, however (they played Toronto, ON on February 25), so I'm sure they didn't play. Earth Quake probably played.
Man would return in March, when their tour reached San Francisco (see March 23-24 below).
February 27, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Alice Stuart and Snake (Thursday)
Alice Stuart was a fine blues guitarist and singer. Although she was from Seattle, she had been playing in the Bay Area since about 1964. Stuart had performed and recorded in a variety of solo and group settings. Since 1971, she had been leading an elecrtric trio or quartet named Snake, and they had released the album Believing on Fantasy Records in 1972. Stuart was still grinding it out in the clubs, and generally well-regarded, but Snake was treading water.
February 28, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Kingfish (Friday)
Kingfish returned. With Garcia headlining on Saturday and Sunday, it was a full Deadhead weekend.
March 1-2, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Legion Of Mary/Paul Pena (Saturday-Sunday)
Legion Of Mary was Jerry Garcia's "official" group, with John Kahn on bass and Ron Tutt on drums.
March 5-6, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Tower Of Power/Frank Biner and The Night Shift (Wednesday-Thursday)
Although not on the calendar, the Monday (March 3) Examiner listed Tower Of Power with Frank Biner on Wednesday and Thursday. Tower Of Power was an established National band by this time, and they had played Keystone Berkeley many times, and had largely graduated. In this case, however, they had a National tour coming up and they had a new lead singer. Tower had released their Urban Renewal album on Warners in January, with Lenny Williams on vocals. But Williams had departed, and Hubert Tubbs was replacing him, so Tower chose to break him at the friendly Keystone prior to the tour.
SF Chronicle rock critic Joel Selvin described the event in his March 16 column. Tower killed it, of course, making it easy for Tubbs to get a good reception. Even though the Keystone Berkeley mostly only had Bay Area bands, they regularly got appearances by major Bay Area stars, and this was just another example.
March 7-9, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Bobby Blue Bland/Lucky Strike (Friday-Sunday)
Bobby "Blue" Bland was a legendary blues singer, and it was thanks to the Keystone Berkeley that he still had a good gig in the Bay Area. African-American clubs had moved well past the blues, and, generally speaking, white hippies preferred their blues from guitar players. Bland was hugely influential, but only other musicians really knew that. His current album was probably Dreamer, which had been released the previous year on ABC-Dunhill. Bland had been backed by ace LA session players (like Wilton Felder, Michael O'Martian and Larry Carlton), with legendary pop producer Steve Barri.
March 11-12, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Etta James/Frank Biner and The Nite Shift (Tuesday-Wednesday)
Etta James (1938-2012, born Jamezetta Hawkins) was a legendary talent, but her career had been beset by numerous health issues. At this time, her most recent album would have been Come A Little Closer, which had been released in 1974 on Chess Records. She had recorded the album in conjunction with a trip to drug rehab, and it was a tribute to her talent that everyone got it done. It was produced by Gabe Mekler (from Steppenwolf), and had included contributions from the likes of Lowell George, Chuck Rainey and Larry Nash. I suspect that Frank Biner and The Nite Shift were James' backing band, but I don't actually know that.
March 15, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Legion Of Mary/Delta Wires (Saturday)
The March 15 Examiner listing described Legion Of Mary as a "Jazz Rock Blues Dance." This was quite accurate--everyone would be up and dancing, but the music was pretty funky, with a lot of solos. If anyone thought it was just Garcia only playing Dylan songs (he would play them, certainly), the Keystone didn't want to mislead anyone.
I believe that Delta Wires were booked for the whole weekend, just in case Garcia canceled. Since he didn't, Delta Wires became the opening act. Even though Keystone Berkeley advertised advance tickets through a computerized service (BASS), those tickets were not available for Garcia shows. This allowed Garcia to add or cancel shows at will (and also explains why no Keystone Berkeley ticket stubs exist for Garcia shows there).
March 16, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Hoodoo Rhythm Devils (Sunday)
The Hoodoo Rhythm Devils were a funky rock band from San Francisco. They were apparently great live, and much beloved by their fans, but they never got over the top. In the early 70s, they were led by singer Joe Crane and lead guitarist John Rewind. The band released an album for Capitol in 1971, and two for Blue Thumb in '72 and '73, and then broke up by 1974.
By 1975, the band had gotten back together. They would record an album in 1975 that did not get released, before releasing two more albums on Fantasy in '76 and '78, and then breaking up again. I'm not precisely certain who was in the band at this time, other than Joe Crane.
|In 1976, Beserkely Records would release Greg Kihn's debut album. Kihn was mostly backed by label-mates Earth Quake. The cover showed Kihn in front of his then-employer, Rather Ripped Records in Berkeley (Northside, on Euclid and Hearst)|
March 17, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Rubinoos/Greg Kihn (Monday)
Even if the Keystone Berkeley was a little lower on the rock pecking order than they had been a few years earlier, there was a lot going on in Berkeley, and Keystone managed to be in the middle of it.
The group Earth Quake were a popular local band, and they had put out two albums on A&M before they were dropped. They passed on any other offers. Following the direction of their manager, Matthew "King" Kaufman, they released the occasional single on his DIY label "Beserkeley." Singles played no real part in the hip record industry at the time, and they were cult items that acted as promos, and maybe keepsakes for fans of the band. The singles were probably only available through the band or at a few hip record stores in Berkeley.
Still, something was brewing. Berkeley has a knack for being ahead of the curve. Not everyone liked long guitar solos that aspired to jazz, not everyone liked "progressive rock" that aspired to pseudo-classical music, not everyone like elaborately orchestrated pop that required a huge stereo system. There was room for catchy pop music, with a rocking beat yet simply recorded, maybe with some nice harmonies and a catchy hook. But record companies weren't signing those kinds of bands.
Later in 1975, Kaufman would release an album of some tracks recorded by Beserkely acts, including some tracks that hadn't even been released as singles. The album, comically, was called Beserkeley Chartbusters. It featured a couple of tracks from a few different artists, and the members of Earth Quake were the backing band for most of the tracks. The artists were Earth Quake (4 tracks), Johnathan Richman (4 tracks), Greg Kihn (2 tracks) and The Rubinoos (1 track). Album tracks got played on local FM radio, and the artists got heard. Beserkeley would go on to release albums, and Richman ("Roadrunner" ['76 UK] and "Egyptian Reggae" ['77 UK]) and Kihn ("Breakup Song"[in '81] and "Jeopardy" ['83]) had big hits.
But all that was in the future. For this Monday night, I don't believe Beserkeley Chartbusters had even been released yet, and Kihn and the Rubinoos were unknown. The Rubinoos, with lead singer Jon Rubin and guitarist Tommy Dunbar (brother of Earth Quake guitarist Robbie Dunbar), played intentionally retro 60s-styled pop. Greg Kihn had moved from Baltimore in 1974, and besides playing in coffee houses, had found a job at Rather Ripped Records, Berkeley's coolest record store (Hearst at Euclid, on Northside near the Sather Gate and Cloyne Court). Although Kihn's music was sincere and simple, he knew his music history (all Rather Ripped employees had PhD's in Record Collecting), so he would have been conscious of the pop styles he was evoking.
I don't know if Kihn had a band. Most likely, Kihn played some songs on his own, then the Rubinoos would have played, and I'll bet Kihn joined them for a few numbers (if anyone actually knows, please mention it in the Comments). In 1975 and '76, Beserkeley Records devotion to independently released albums of short, catchy pop songs seemed like a fey Berkeley pose. A year later, with rockin' punk and New Wave bands releasing their own primitively recorded records on their own labels, Beserkely Records seemed positively prescient.March 18-19, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Azteca/Sapo (Tuesday-Wednesday)
Azteca had been a groundbreaking group, fusing a Latin orchestra with jazz, rock and multiple vocalists. Azteca had released two albums on Columbia, their debut album (1972) and Pyramids Of The Moon (1973). Although the albums and the band received universally positive notices, neither record sold well. Since Azteca toured with around 15 members, they weren't going to make money on the road without a succesful record. The band subsquently disintegrated. I believe that for a period of time, Pete & Coke Escovedo called their live band Azteca, and not unreasonably, but it wasn't the main track of the band.
Sapo is unknown to me, but based on various listings, they seem to have been a Latin-styled jazz or rock ensemble.
The Keystone advertisement (above) has Kingfish and Soundhole for these dates, but the March 20 SF Examiner just listed Soundhole. Kingfish seems to have gone to Los Angeles to play a weekend at the Pitschel Players Cabaret (at 8162 Melrose Avenue). Freddie Herrera had a unique relationship with the Grateful Dead organization, and gigs were often tentatively booked, advertised, canceled or added at the last minute. Since there were no advance tickets (that I am aware of), and the Dead members often booked weeknights, it was a comfortable arrangement. Kingfish would return to Keystone Berkeley in May, so clearly the cancellation was well within the realm of the expected.
March 22, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Bo Diddley and Lady Bo (Saturday)
March 23-24, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Man/Earth Quake (Sunday-Monday)
In the early 70s, even though large-market FM stations were often owned by corporate chains, individual djs had a lot of freedom to choose records. Welshman Deke Leonard had been a guitarist in the group Man from 1968-71, but he had left the group to release his first solo album, Iceberg in 1972. Leonard had an insistent, engaging voice, catchy songs, and driving guitars in the style of Quicksilver Messenger Service. Iceberg started getting airplay on KSJO-fm in San Jose, and then KSAN in San Francisco. His second album, Kamikaze (both on UA) also got played. Leonard rejoined Man in1974 for their next album, Rhinos, Winos and Lunatics, and by that time, Man had their own section in Bay Area record stores.
By 1975, Man had released a new album Slow Motion. They got regular play on Bay Area FM rock stations. It was appropriate, since they were proudly carrying on the bluesy psychedelic tradition of the Fillmore, but with a Welsh twist. They had played Berkeley once before (opening for Hawkwind in 1974), but this time through they had a lot more attention. Man was booked for Friday and Saturday night at Winterland (March 21-22), second on the bill to Peter Frampton. Frampton was another act who was popular in San Francisco but few other places, which was why his Frampton Comes Alive album would be recorded at Winterland a few months later (in May '75).
Not surprisingly, Man did great at Winterland. I'm not speculating--I saw the Friday night show, and Man's reception by the crowd was enthusiastic. They had plenty of partisans in the crowd, there to see them (although I should add that Peter Frampton was great, too). So it wasn't surprising that the Keystone Berkeley booked them for some additional dates on the following nights. At this time, Man was a quartet, with Deke Leonard and Mickey Jones on guitars and vocals, the great Terry Williams on drums (later in Rockpile and Dire Straits) and bassist Ken Whaley.
Phil Elwood of the Examiner reviewed Man's Monday night show (March 25 paper), and he gave enthusiastic approval. He also referred to them as "Man with Deke Leonard," which is how they had been booked in February. The Bay Area was probably the only market in the US where Deke Leonard had a following that was parallel to Man, since his albums hadn't done well elsewhere.
The 2008 cd re-release of Slow Motion on Esoteric Recordings included four tracks recorded at Keystone Berkeley, listed as April 1975. They must be from these March shows, however. For those who are familiar with the Man saga, the Monday night Keystone show was the last one with Ken Whaley on bass. He left for personal reasons. Man had numerous other Bay Area gigs booked, so old friend and former bandmember Martin Ace was flown out from Wales for some quick rehearsal. Man would return to San Francisco and the Keystone Berkeley in 1976, right before they broke up (although, of course, they got back together again).
March 27, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Hot Ice (Thursday)
Hot Ice is unknown to me.
March 28-29, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Sons Of Champlin/Crackin' (Friday-Saturday)
Crackin' broadly sounded like the Sons, albeit with more emphasis on funk. As a point of trivia, the Sons Of Champlin broke up in 1977, and then reformed in 1980 without Champlin, calling themelves The New Sons. Bill Champlin, with a successful career as a session man in Los Angeles, was fully on board with this, and sat in with The New Sons on occasion. The New Sons needed to have a lead vocalist, however, so they used Les Smith, who had been in Crackin' (who had also broken up by that time).
March 30, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Crackin' (Sunday)
March 31, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Eddie Money (Monday)April 1, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Yesterday & Today/Alexis (Tuesday)
Yesterday & Today, later famous in the 80s as Y&T, were a hard rock band from Oakland. For whatever reasons, they are always associated with Hayward, but they were actually founded in Oakland. When Y&T hit it big in the 80s, they were somewhat lumped in with Heavy Metal--I saw them at Heavy Metal Day On The Green with Motley Crue and Poison, for example--but they actually preceded the genre.
Yesterday & Today had been formed in Oakland in 1972, as a cover band. At some point, guitarist Dave Meniketti joined, and they started playing original material. The band's name happened to be the record on the turntable at the time (a 60s US Beatles album). Yesterday & Today sounded more or less in the vein of Humble Pie, loud and rocking, with high energy vocals, but still playing within a song structure. At the time, the band did not fall into the cliche of playing elaborate little hooks that were sort of "pseudo-prog" (one of the marks of latter metal bands).
Yesterday and Today played all over the Bay Area. On the Sunday before (March 30), they had been third on the bill at Winterland, below headliners Queen. Queen was on their first trip to San Francisco, and this was before A Night At The Opera and "Bohemian Rhapsody." Queen was presented as a sort of Led Zeppelin with better harmonies, and a lot of guitar solos and dry ice. Second on the bill was Mahogany Rush. The show was pitched as a Sunday-night special for $3.00, and while the show wasn't sold out, there was a hefty crowd there. Yesterday & Today weren't Queen, of course, but they acquitted themselves well (I was there, so I'm not guessing).
The band would open for numerous Winterland concerts in the next several years, even though they did not rise to success until the 80s. In the meantime, Yesterday & Today slugged it out at the Keystone Berkeley, paying the bills. Their first album would be released on London Records in 1976. Ultimately they changed their name to Y&T when they signed with A&M in 1980. They finally hit it big with their sixth album, In Rock We Trust.
Alexis is unknown to me.
April 3, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Delta Wires/Kid Kohoutek and The Shooting Stars (Thursday)
I don't know anything about Kid Kohoutek and The Shooting Stars. The Comet Kahoutek had been hyped as the most amazing celestial event in, like, 150,000 years, but when it arrived in December 1973, it was not so.
April 4, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Cold Blood/Richard Torrance and Eureka (Friday)
Richard Torrance was a guitarist and songwriter from the Midwest, but he was based in Los Angeles. In 1974 he had released his debut album, Eureka, for Leon Russell's Shelter Records label. In 1975, he would release Belle Of The Ball, by Richard Torrance and Eureka (I'm not sure if that album had been released by April). Eureka played in a bit of a Southern Rock style, anchored by the twin guitars of Torrance and Gary Rowles (ex-Love). Although Eureka never hit it big, Torrance went on to have a steadily successful music career.
Richard Torrance and Eureka played three nights at the Keystone Berkeley, opening for two established local bands with completely different sounds (and likely audiences), and holding down the fort themselves on Sunday night. From the point of view of the record company, who was probably supporting the tour financially, this was well worth it, since it diversified the band's exposure.
April 6, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Richard Torrance and Eureka (Sunday)
|Kevin McKernan stepping up to sing one for Osiris, ca. 1974-75|
April 7, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: The Skins/Osiris (Monday)
The Skins are unknown to me. Osiris was a Palo Alto band, who played in a Grateful Dead style. Their organ player was Kevin "Mickey" McKernan, Pigpen's younger brother. He apparently killed it on "Turn On Your Lovelight." Osiris got some help from the Dead office, and in 1974 and '75 opened a few shows for Kingfish, Garcia/Saunders and Keith and Donna. I wrote about Osiris in some detail when I discussed their New Year's Eve '74 gig in Palo Alto, opening for Kingfish (as always, check out the CommentsThread).
April 8, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Chango/Alexis (Tuesday)
Chango is unknown to me. Note that Alexis has returned for another Tuesday night.
Trumpeter Hugh Masakela was a pioneering South African jazz musician, playing jazz with a nice helping of rhythm and blues along with some African beats. Masakela had a profile beyond his standing as a jazz musician. Masakela had added a little trumpet blast to The Byrds hit "So You Wanna Be A Rock And Roll Star," and he had played the Monterey Pop Festival, too. He had a genuine hit in 1968 with the catchy instrumental "Grazing In The Grass" (better known from the later version, with lyrics, by The Friends Of Distinction).
At this time, Masakela's last album would have been I Am Not Afraid, released in March, 1974 on Blue Thumb. It was a nice mixture of jazz, soul and funk, so Masekela would fit right into a rowdy joint like the Keystone Berkeley. Masakela's next album would be released in June, 1975 on his new label, Casablanca. The Boy's Doin' It mixed Masakela's sounds with the newly-arising Afro-Beat style of Fela Ransome- Kuti.
Patti Santos (1949-89) had been the lead singer for San Francisco's It's A Beautiful Day. Everybody recognized her voice from "White Bird." When IABD broke up, she sang with various ensembles. I don't know anything about Pharaoh's Whistle. Sadly, Patti Santos died in an auto accident in Mendocino County.
Axis was a group featuring former Stephen Stills (and CSNY) bassist Calvin "Fuzzy" Samuels, and 60s English pop star PP Arnold. In a mark of the newly transatlantic nature of the 70s record industry, Samuels was a London Jamaican, who had come to America when he hooked up with Stills in England. Patricia "PP" Arnold was an African-American from Los Angeles. She had joined the Ike & Tina Turner Revue as an Ikette in 1965, but left them after an English tour in order to go solo. Arnold had signed with Immediate Records, and had a number of hits like "Here Comes The Nice." Keith Emerson was part of her backing band at one point (and his first ensemble, not coincidentally, was called The Nice).
By 1974, Samuels and Arnold had teamed up in LA with guitarist Leon Rubenhold. Lowell George had produced an album for them, intended for Atlantic Records, but it was never released. I assume these oddball weeknight dates were a tryout for a tour that never came.
It is telling that this period of the Keystone Berkeley only has touring acts with record company support on weeknights, and usually pretty obscure bands at that. There were plenty of Bay Area bands, some of them quite established, who played the Keystone regularly. But record companies were only putting their bands in the club when they seemingly had no other choices. I suspect the biggest factor was not money, nor the club itself--bands were apparently treated well, and the crowds were usually lively. Since Keystone Berkeley was largely a beer joint, with just a few tables, shows didn't get reviewed much there. Local rock critics and radio people preferred the Boarding House or the Great American Music Hall, where they could get a table and drinks. As rock music focused towards FM radio play, that affected where touring acts were booked.
April 15-16, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: "Blockbuster Show" call for details (Tuesday-Wednesday)
I don't know who might have played these nights, but "stealth" shows at Keystone Berkeley tended to be the Usual Suspects. Since we know that Garcia didn't play, and Tower Of Power had done some stealth shows the month before, the most likely suspects would be Elvin Bishop or Van Morrison. Now that Bishop had a more substantial recording career, casual club gigs may have upset his management or booking agency, so a lower profile may have been in order. Van was just Van, of course, and couldn't be predicted anyway.
April 17, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Hoodoo Rhythm Devils/Waterbaby (Thursday)
Waterbaby is unknown to me.
April 18-19, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Kathi McDonald/Eddie Money (Friday-Saturday)
Kathi McDonald (1948-2012) had sung with 60s bands in the Pacific Northwest like the Unusuals and Fat Jack, and they had opened for all the touring San Francisco groups. McDonald moved to San Francisco in the late 60s, and ended up a member of the Ikettes (even though she was blonde), and then toured with Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen. By 1971, she had joined Big Brother and The Holding Company, participating in the album How Hard It Is. McDonald had the unenviable task of singing Janis Joplin's iconic songs for a few years.
In February 1974, McDonald had released Insane Asylum on Capitol. It was produced by David Briggs (of Neil Young fame) and pianist Pete Sears, and the record had an All-Star cast. Still, the album didn't really go anywhere. McDonald sang with various ensembles, and sometimes fronted them. I'm not sure who was in her band at this time.
April 20, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Eddie Money (Sunday)
April 21, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: James And The Mercedes/Cisum (Monday)
Cisum is unknown to me, although I recognize the name from numerous club listings.
The March Keystone ad (above) lists Leo Sayer playing on this Monday, but he did not. He was then advertised for the next week (April 28), but didn't play then, either. This was one of those signs that Sayer, then a rising star, got better bookings and didn't need to play Keystone Berkeley on an off-night.
April 24, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Alice Stuart (Thursday)
April 25-27, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Willie Dixon/Frank Biner and the Nite Shift (Friday-Sunday)
Bassist Willie Dixon (1915-1992) was a blues legend, but in the early 70s he was better known as a songwriter and Chess Records producer. By the time he started touring outside of Chicago, many of his songs had already been made famous by English rock bands: "Little Red Rooster," "Hoochie Coochie Man," 'Spoonful," "Back Door Man" and others. Dixon only released his own albums intermittently. His most recent would have been Catalyst, released on Ovation in 1973.
April 28, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: Holly Penfield/Spectrum (Monday)
Holly Penfield has been a singing star in London and Europe for over 25 years, known for her sophisticated jazz styles. Penfield was a native of San Francisco, however, and back in the 1970s, she was writing her own songs and accompanying herself on piano. At this time, of course, Carole King was one of the most popular recording artists in the world, and the singer/songwriter track was a viable one. Penfield played many club gigs around the Bay Area, but did not thrive until she went to London and re-invented herself in the 1980s.
Spectrum was a disco-styled dance band. My guess is that Penfield played a set for the after-work crowd, and then the tables were cleared out for Spectrum and dancing. There were few, if any, places to dance in downtown Berkeley, so the Keystone Berkeley once again found a way to fill in a variety of gaps in the neighborhood entertainment.
Leo Sayer had been advertised for this night (with Penfield), but Spectrum was added instead.
April 29, 1975 Keystone Berkeley, CA: The Shakers (Tuesday)
Berkeley was always different than everywhere else in the United States, and exceedingly proud of it. When was smoking banned in restaurants in your town? In Berkeley it was 1971. Against the Vietnam War? The Berkeley City Council officially declared in 1972 that they were not at war with North Vietnam. Drugs? Berkeley was years ahead of every other town for any drug, for better or worse. Music? Whether it was bluegrass, psychedelic rock or punk, Berkeley got on the train the first.
A byproduct of Berkeley being Berkeley, however, was that some things caught on in Berkeley that didn't make it far past the city limits. One of those things was Reggae-Rock (sometimes called "Yankee Reggae," or something similar). In the mid-70s, numerous bands of mostly white rock musicians played original rock with a reggae beat. They wrote their own songs, they had some sophisticated jamming, but everyone could dance to it. The Shakers the first of those groups, and there were a few others like the Tasmanian Devils and The Edge. In some cases, the musicians lived in Marin or wherever, but the prime stomping ground was Berkeley. The Shakers got their break at The Long Branch, so now they were getting introduced at the Keystone Berkeley.
The Shakers were likely the first white reggae band, and recorded the album Yankee Reggae for Elektra/Asylum in 1975. Thanks to Elektra, the Shakers got to open for many great reggae acts on their first (or early) American tours. But it wasn't to be, and the band faded away. None of the other white reggae acts got much traction beyond Berkeley, either.