Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fillmore West Lost Concerts: Tuesday Night Auditions 1968-1971

Bill Graham's Fillmore West, formerly the Carousel Ballroom, at 1545 Market Street (at Van Ness), stands as the archetype of the modern rock concert. Although its predecessor, The Fillmore Auditorium (at 1805 Geary Blvd) and its main competitor, The Avalon Ballroom (at 1268 Sutter Street) were actually more instrumental in developing the rock concert, the term "Fillmore West" represents a host of references about the 60s and rock music. Most people, even big rock fans, do not even realize that the Fillmore West and The Fillmore were two different venues. "Fillmore West" and "Fillmore East" represent the two pillars of sixties rock on each Coast.

Shows at The Fillmore West are enshrined in rock history not just because of the fine posters, but because they featured great bands in their prime, like the Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Grateful Dead and Big Brother. While Fillmore and Avalon posters have underground cool, Fillmore West posters present iconic Baby Boomer bands like Santana and CSNY when they were still fresh. For all the attention given to the posters, there are surprisingly few lists of concerts at the Fillmore West, and most of them are lists of the posters rather than the shows. The best list I am aware of is Ross Hannan's list of Fillmore West events, which attempts to add and correct information about which bands performed when, since not every advertised show was played exactly as it was billed. Reading this list is a primer in live rock at its finest, and often all three acts on the bill were exceptional bands, even if they did not achieve stardom.

In our continuing research into 60s rock concerts, however, I have discovered that there were a large number of Fillmore West concerts that have gone almost entirely unremarked in much of the Fillmore scholarship of the subsequent years. Bill Graham opened The Fillmore West on July 5, 1968 (with Butterfield Blues Band and Ten Years After), but at the end of the Summer he instituted a Tuesday night series featuring local bands. The series was called "Audition Night," and three bands would play for a small admission fee (probably $1.50). The best of those bands would then open the weekend show on Friday and Saturday. The Tuesday night series seems to have gone on almost every week for the life of The Fillmore West, excepting the Summers of 1968 and 1969 when a six nights a week concert schedule was employed, as well as occasional nights when a big act would play a Tuesday. However, although the Tuesday night concerts are regularly alluded to, there are almost no records of which bands played.

By my estimation, there must be approximately 100 Tuesday night Audition concerts, possibly more, meaning perhaps as many as 300 acts played the Fillmore West that we are not generally aware of. If the Tuesday night "winner" also played on each weekend, as appeared to be the case, then there would be approximately 100 acts that were part of the "main" Fillmore West schedule that we have no direct evidence of. At the very least, this fact explains the number of lesser known groups who claim to have played The Fillmore West who never appeared on a poster. There were no posters or flyers for Tuesday night show, and the band "added" to the weekend gig was not on the poster, as the artwork had been done and the posters distributed considerably earlier.

With this mystery in mind, I have attempted to determine what I can about Fillmore West audition shows. Initially I was able to uncover about 21 shows, and a little bit of supporting information, and I have added more since the first posting. Clearly this will be an ongoing project, but this post will explain the information that I have found.

Fillmore West Tuesday Night Audition Format

The Tuesday night Audition shows did not have posters or flyers that I am aware of. There does appear to have been press releases, probably as part of regular Fillmore West press releases, so the performers would have been announced, but probably only on FM radio and at the Fillmore West itself. As rock music became more important, the Tuesday night shows would sometimes be listed in the paper as filler in the entertainment section, which is how I found out about most of the shows. In 1968 and 1969, however, the shows seem to have been all but unpublicized.

Bill Graham liked playing basketball, and apparently each Tuesday the Fillmore West"team" would play a game at the Fillmore West against another team (such as a radio station) prior to the show. A bit of this is shown in the 1972 Fillmore movie. Afterwards, three bands would play. It seems that everyone did just one set, unlike the normal two sets on the weekend, so it was a relatively early evening, appropriate for a Tuesday.

On weekends, the three billed bands (from the poster) each played two sets. Going back to 1966 at the old Fillmore, a local band often opened the show on Friday and Saturday, playing a single set. This was to encourage and accommodate early arriving patrons, and by extension to encourage the sale of more popcorn and soda. A local band playing a set at, say, 8:00 pm at the Fillmore would still have time to make it over to a nightclub if they were booked for a Friday or Saturday night gig, as many bands would have been. Whatever the proposition, however, there is no guarantee that the best band of each Tuesday night was guaranteed to be the opener on the next weekend. I'm sure it happened of course, and perhaps regularly, but I have yet to see indications of who actually opened which show.

Economic Rationale of Fillmore West Tuesday Audition Night

The Fillmore West was designed as a money making operation, but Bill Graham was also very shrewd about what would now be called "Leveraging His Brand" (had such a term existed then). First of all, since the three bands were probably not paid on audition night (or paid a token amount), it would not take a large crowd to justify the expense of the evening. At the time, Graham was aware of the economic limits of the Fillmore West, since the building had actually been sold to Howard Johnson's, and was scheduled to be knocked down and turned into a hotel.

In late 1968 Graham started both a booking agency and two record labels. One record label was supported by CBS, and was called Fillmore Records; the other label was San Francisco Records, distributed by Atlantic; and the booking agency was the Millard Agency. Thus the auditions were not just for finding opening acts at Fillmore West, which was hardly an impossible task, as Graham had done so for years at the Fillmore without a Tuesday audition night. Tuesdays provided Graham first look at acts for his record company, and immediate indications of the stage act of local bands for his booking agency. The Millard Agency actually played an important role in the Bay Area rock concert scene from about 1968 to 1970, and while it is the subject of another line of research, its worth noting that a lot of benefits accrued to Graham's organization from seeing bands live in a concert setting.

This interesting snippet from a lengthy article on the operation of the Fillmore West, from the May 27, 1971 edition of the Hayward Daily Review, provides a telling insight into the focus of audition night. In 1971, much less 1968, recording studio time was expensive and hard to come by. Since the Fillmore West was set up to record every live performance, each audition band effectively guaranteed the Graham organization a demo tape to use in pitching to record executives (for the Fillmore label) or to promoters (for the Millard Agency). If the band was willing to pay for their audition tape--and I don't doubt many were, as recording opportunities were scarce--it was another way to cover the costs of the evening.

Since the 1971 article was part of a lengthy story about the closing of the Fillmore West (the last day was July 4, 1971), the fact that recording and auditions continued right up until the end is a clear sign that Tuesday audition night had many other purposes besides merely finding openers for the weekend shows. While Graham's plans to become a record mogul fell short, one important group came out of the audition night: Oakland's Tower of Power. Although Tower had more success after leaving Graham's label, there was no question they were a ground breaking group that would not have made it without Graham's intervention (read Emilio Castillo's interview here). Graham did not lack for insight--he heard and tried to sign Bruce Springsteen at an audition night in February, 1970 (see below), but the $1000 signing bonus was deemed insufficient.

Audition Night Schedule

The Fillmore West had its first concert on July 5, 1968. For the balance of the Summer, the venue was almost always booked six nights a week, just as they had the previous Summer. After Labor Day, the Fillmore West returned to a typical Thursday-thru-Sunday schedule, with occasional exceptions. I have assumed that a new program would not start the day after Labor Day (Tuesday, September 3), so since I know the approximate start date, I am positing Tuesday, September 10, 1968 as the first Audition Night.

Starting Tuesday, June 17, 1969, the Fillmore West resumes having shows six nights a week, through the end of August. After Labor Day 1969, the 4 day a week schedule resumes. The six night a week schedule does not resume until July 28, 1970, and again ends after Labor Day. Including the occasional Tuesday night gig during the Winter, and accounting for certain holidays, there appear to be 121 available dates for Tuesday audition nights at Fillmore West between 1968 and 1971. The implication is that these events were regular, but I do not know if all 121 dates were actually filled.

Tuesday Audition Night Shows--Known Performances

What follows is whatever trace evidence is available for specific bands who played audition nights. 

October 1, 1968 Country Weather/Jim Pepper/Phoenix
Although the date is approximated, former Phoenix bassist Jef Jaisun recalled it vividly in a personal email. Phoenix was an established band in the Bay Area clubs, and when Graham established the Tuesday night program, they were quick to sign up. They were sharing the bill with a new band from Contra Costa County called Country Weather, and a singer named Jim Pepper. Pepper had been in a few bands (Free Spirits and Everything Is Everything) and had even had a minor hit with one of them ("Witchie Tai To"), but he was new in town and had no material. Country Weather, who would go on to some local success, were still relatively new. Phoenix's manager made sure to invite a number of record company reps. However, for some reason Phoenix ended up with the opening slot, and most of the crowd and none of the record reps were there, and Country Weather "won" the audition.

Country Weather opened the next weekend's show (presumably Canned Heat on October 4-5), started getting booked by the Millard Agency and developed a solid following around the Bay Area. Phoenix continued to struggle, and although they had a certain following, they never broke beyond their level. Jaisun's description is by far the most detailed of a Fillmore West audition, and it describes the meaningful stakes that were in play.

October 21, 1968 Crystal Syphon/Sanpaku/Crazy Horse
There is a flyer, and the date is difficult to discern, yet I am assuming this was the show that brought San Paku to the attention of the Bill Graham organization. This was definitely a Tuesday night audition (the poster says “1.00 Jam”).  Sanpaku was an interesting jazz/rock band from Sacramento, who went on to be booked by the Millard Agency. Crystal Syphon was a Merced band, and Crazy Horse was probably a Merced band also. 

February 25, 1969   Santana
The date for this show comes from a precise memory by Sons Of Champlin road manager Charlie Kelly. This was probably the first show with the ‘Woodstock’ lineup, with Michael Shrieve on drums (along with Santana/Rolie/Brown/Carabello/Areas).  This wasn't exactly an audition, since Santana had played Fillmore West many times, but Shrieve had just joined and the band probably wanted to try out their chops. Kelly, familiar with the earlier incarnation of Santana, reported being absolutely stunned, and was not the least bit surprised when they were signed by Columbia, and went on to conquer Woodstock and the world.

April 1, 1969    Ace of Cups
In the article above (from the April 11, 1969 Fremont Argus) about the upcoming Band/Sons/Ace of Cups show at Winterland, there is an allusion to The Ace of Cups appearing at a recent Tuesday audition night at Fillmore West. I have assumed April 1, but any Tuesday in March is also plausible. 

September 16, 1969 Home Cooking/Bronze Hog/Cosmo Quik/Dangerfield
Bronze Hog, based in Cotati in Sonoma County, were a regular band at the town's rock venue, The Inn Of The Beginning.

September 23, 1969    Summerland Blues Band/Free And Easy/South Bay Experimental Flash 
The Oakland Tribune's "Teen Age" section sometimes included press releases for upcoming rock events to fill space, so there was the occasional reference to Tuesday audition nights. The clipping above is from the September 17, 1969 edition of The Trib. South Bay Experimental Flash were a jazz-rock band from Richmond, in the East Bay, very active on the club circuit.

The other two bands (Summerland Blues Band and Free And Easy) are completely unknown to me, and I'm an expert on 1969 club bands in the Bay Area. It does point up the difficulty for Fillmore West of finding up to 15 new bands a month, suggesting that some of the groups may have been from out of town. Even from my limited evidence, its clear that some bands played the Tuesday auditions more than once. 

September 30, 1969 Cyprus/Kwane and The Kwanditos/Glad/Terry Dolan
Kwane and The Kwanditos included pianist Todd Barkan, later the proprietor of the great San Francisco jazz club Keystone Korner (still a rock club in 1969). Terry Dolan, a folksinger from the Washington, DC area, would go on to front a Bay Area club band called Terry and The Pirates.

October 7, 1969 Commander Cody/Gods Country/Sunday
Commander Cody And His Lost Planet Airmen were from Ann Arbor, MI, and had relocated to the Bay Area in July of 1969. At this point, they lived in Emeryville and had started to play around the Bay Area, at clubs like Mandrake's and The Freight and Salvage.

October 14, 1969 Schon/Kimberly/Tongue and Groove/Richard Moore
It is tempting to believe that "Schon" was Neal Schon (future guitarist of Santana and then Journey), but since he would have been 15 years old at the time, I'm inclined to doubt it. I believe Tounge and Groove featured singer Lynne Hughes.

October 21, 1969 Black Ghost/Fritz/Mendelbaum
Mendelbaum was a band from Madison, WI, who had moved to the Bay Area in June, 1969. Already an experienced road band in the Midwest, they rapidly established themselves at The Matrix and elsewhere. The group included guitarist Chris Michie (1948-2003, later with Van Morrison) and drummer Keith Knudsen (1948-2005, later with Lee Michaels, the Doobie Brothers and Southern Pacific). CBS producer David Rubinson, Bill Graham's partner in Fillmore Records, recorded a demo with the band on September 22, 1969, and a month later the group was asked to audition night (the date comes from Chris Michie's 2001 memoir Name Droppings). According to Michie, "we played better than we ever had before and were asked back several times over the coming months."

While some of Mendelbaum's appearances were on Tuesday nights, they must have opened some shows and by 1970 they even "made the poster", appearing on the May 21-24 bill with BB and Albert King. One reason I believe that bands who "won" the audition did not always open the same weekend is that for this weekend of October 24-25, the Dead and The Airplane were headlining at Winterland, and there were already two other bands on the bill (The Sons and Doug Kershaw), so I doubt there was room for a fifth. My assumption is that a good performance on audition night got a band a weekend opening slot, but not always the next weekend. 

Fritz, from Menlo Park, had actually been formed as The Fritz Raybyne Memorial Band, named after a shy German exchange student at Menlo-Atherton High School. By 1969, the band featured mostly former M-A students, including bassist Lindsay Buckingham and singer Stephanie (Stevie) Nicks. 

October 28, 1969 Flying Circus/Bob McPharlin/Spectrum of Sound/Euphonius Wail
Flying Circus were based in Mill Valley, and had existed in some form since 1966. The more stable lineup that arose in 1968 featured lead guitarist Bob McFee. Flying Circus shared a rehearsal hall and equipment with another Mill Valley band, Clover (not coincidentally featuring Bob's brother John McFee on lead guitar).

Bob McPharlin and Euphonius Wail are familiar to me from various Bay Area club bills during 1969-70, but other than that I know little about them. Euphonius Wail appeared to be based in Sonoma County; Bob McPharlin seems to have been from San Diego and was based in Marin County (and now appears to be repairing vintage instruments in Harmony, PA).

November 4, 1969 Lamb/The New/Dementia/Young Luke Attraction/Peacock
Lamb, possibly still a duo at this time, featured guitarist Bob Swanson and pianist Barbara Mauritz, both of whom sang and wrote. Lamb would get signed by Bill Graham's management and record label. Ultimately a full band was added, some albums were released and they were modestly successful around the Bay Area.
Update: Ralph Gleason's column of November 3 mentioned Lamb, The New, Dementia and Young Luke Attraction. However, correspondent Michael B recalls that his Oakland band Peacock played that night. He still has the signed contract, which reveals that the 4-member group was paid $126.49, per the Musicians Union Local 6

November 11, 1969 Gold/Celestial Hysteria/Wisdom Fingers/Shag
Celestial Hysteria was a Berkeley and, or San Francisco based band, and played the Straight Theater and the North Beach club Deno and Carlo’s among other venues.  There apparently was some record company interest in 1968, and the band recorded some demos, but the band members were minors and their parents refused to sign a contract so the band went no further. The organist was John Barsotti, now a Professor of Broadcast Arts and Communications at San Francisco State University. No doubt Professor Barsotti is a relative of the many Berkeley Barsotti’s who played a critical role in the Bill Graham Presents organization.

According to Professor Barsotti (in an email):
“Celestial Hysteria had a male lead singer named Greg Renfro who later left the band and was replaced with a female singer named Mary Lou Hazelwood.  The band also consisted of Buddy Greer on traps, Mark Buvelot on Bass, John Formosa and Jim Logue on Guitar (later a guy named John Allen also on guitar), and I played Hammond organ.  We recorded and played shows from 1967-69…  I believe I am the only member of the band that stayed in the music Industry.”

November 18, 1969 Black Diamond/Crystal Syphon/Sideminder/Mother Bear

November 25, 1969 Deacon and The Suprelles/Track Stod/Good Humor

December 2, 1969 Arizona/Andrew Hallidie/Canterbury Fair
An earlier listing had San Francisco TKO/Indian Gold/Sunday, but that appears to have changed by the day of the show. I know Canterbury Fair was a band from suburban Palo Alto. 

December 9, 1969 Brotherhood Rush/Searchin Sound/RB Funk

December 16, 1969 Insanity Rules/Lila/Immaculate Contraption

December 23, 1969 Crystal Garden/Dry Ice/Styx River Ferry
The show was mentioned in Ralph Gleason's Chronicle column of December 22 (above). Styx River Ferry was a Berkeley bluegrass band, regulars at The Freight and Salvage. Their membership included Woody Herman's daughter (Ingrid Fowler) and banjoist Marty Lanham, now a well known Nashville guitar maker. The other two groups are unknown to me.

I do not think there was a Tuesday night show on December 30, 1969.

January 1970 Tower Of Power
Tower Of Power is the great success of the Fillmore West audition nights. In late 1969. Tower were underage kids who had been blocked from working Oakland bars, so they just rehearsed. Having run out of money, they played audition night in late 1969 as a last hurrah. Bill Graham himself was thrilled (showing his shrewd acumen once again) and signed the band. They may have auditioned twice, once in early 1969 and once later, but their early 1970 (or possibly late 1969) audition got them the support from the Bill Graham organization that they needed to go on to become successful.

February 9 or 10, 1970  Steel Mill
The exceptional Bruce Springsteen site Killing Floor has a detailed discussion of Bruce and his band Steel Mill and their attempt to "make it" in California in January and February of 1970. Although there are many great facts taken directly from band members, some details indicate confusion about the Bay Area music scene at the time. February 9, 1970 is actually a Monday, and Tuesday was audition night--this and other trivial details lead me to think that the band actually played Tuesday, February 10, 1970.

Bruce and his band Steel Mill had come to California in early 1970. They had gotten a gig opening at The Matrix, and when headliner Boz Scaggs did not show up on January 13, they played an extended set. San Francisco Examiner critic Phil Elwood wrote a glowing review. Bill Graham either attended a subsequent show or heard the buzz, and invited Steel Mill to audition at the Fillmore West. Graham was so impressed he offered Bruce and the band (Danny Federici, Vinnie Roslyn and Vinnie Lopez) an opportunity to record a demo and a $1000 to sign. Bruce, the band, and the band's manager turned him down.

February 10, 1970     Cata Hanna/Free And Easy/Flying Circus 
The above listing from the February 7, 1970 'Teen Age' section  of the Oakland Tribune includes the press release for the Tuesday audition night on February 10. The Killing Floor site suggests that Bruce Springsteen and Steel Mill substituted for a band that couldn't make it, so I think they played on this date and not on February 9. Steel Mill apparently "won." If so, they would have opened for Country Joe and The Fish, Sons of Champlin and Area Code 615 at the Fillmore that weekend. The website has a different suggestion, namely that Steel Mill played the 17th, but I find that unsupportable.

Note that Free And Easy, whoever they were, was scheduled to play audition night for at least the second time. Flying Circus was a Mill Valley band featuring guitarist Bob McFee (a former member of Tiny Hearing Aid Conspiracy), They shared equipment and often gigs with a band called Clover, featuring Bob's brother John (also part of the Tiny Hearing Aid Conspiracy).  Flying Circus had played Audition Night the previous year (October 28, 1969).

March 3, 1970 Celestial Hysteria/Torres Limited/Jan Tangen and Dave Friedman
Celestial Hysteria was playing the audition night for the second time (see Nov 11, 1969). This show was mentioned in Ralph Gleason's Chronicle column of March 2.

March 10, 1970 Rockwell/Errico/The Aliens
The Aliens were possibly the original "Latin-Rock" band in San Francisco, and thus possibly ever. They had an extremely interesting history that I have looked at elsewhere. I wonder if Errico had any connection to Vejtable/Mojo Men lead singer and drummer Jan Errico? This show was mentioned in Ralph Gleason's Chronicle column of March 9.

March 17, 1970    Straight Phonk Unlimited/Winfield Trust/Paco/Black Soul Distributors 
This show was mentioned in the 'Teen Age' section of the Oakland Tribune (March 14). The bands are unknown to me.

March 24, 1970 Wizards/CDC/Sundance/Trouble

April 7, 1970    New Freedom Band/Mendelbaum/Harbinger/Able
This show was mentioned in the Oakland Tribune 'Teen Age' section (April 4). Mendelbaum had played before, and they were playing again. They ended up being put on the May 21-24 bill with BB and Albert King. I have a feeling that often the Fillmore West made sure at least one of the Tuesday bands was a local group with a following to insure that some fans came to the show

There was local club band called Abel, and assume they are the "Able" referenced here. I don't know anything about the New Freedom Band.

April 14, 1970 Red Wing/Red Truck/Daybreak
Red Wing may have been the band Redwing, a Sacramento group that arose from the New Breed and then Glad.

April 21, 1970 Odyssey/Throckmorton/Tower of Power
This was probably the second Tower of Power audition show, as I think the first one was several months earlier (see December 1969).  More than any other group, Tower of Power was the band whose career was made by the Fillmore West auditions and in turn left a lasting musical legacy.

Throckmorton was a popular San Jose band.

July 21, 1970 Lamb/Lambert & Nuttycombe/Victoria/Equinox

This event was on a Tuesday, but this billing was very conciously designed as a singer-songwriter showcase for acts on Bill Graham's label.  Lamb featured singer Barbara Mauritz and guitarist Bob Swanson, Victoria was a singer songwriter, Lambert & Nuttycombe were a duo, and "Equinox" was advertised as a collective of sorts, featuring Jeffrey Cain, Pamela Polland and Tangen & Freedman.

October 26, 1970 Dave Van Ronk/Lamb/Fourth Way/Equinox 
This show seems to be a little different than the others, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it was on a Monday night.  Normally the Fillmore West was closed Monday and Wednesday, but on  October 28 there was a rare Wednesday concert (Rod Stewart and Small Faces), so I believe the operation took Tuesday off. Also, unlike other bills, Dave Van Ronk was an older and more established folk artist. He did put out an album for Polydor in 1971, so I don't know if this was a record company supported gig, but it hardly featured an unknown headliner. Finally, there seems to have been some kind of flyer or something for this show (although I myself haven't seen it), which suggests along with the somewhat-famous headliner that the weeknight shows also functioned like a normal nightclub show, regardless of any auditions.

The Fourth Way was a jazz-rock fusion group that had three albums on Capitol (two were actually on Harvest, a Capitol/EMI subsidiary). The band featured electric violinist Michael White, along with pianist Mike Nock, bassist Ron McClure and drummer Eddy Marshall. They were regulars in both jazz and rock clubs around the Bay Area.

February 9, 1971 Mendelsonn
The group is unknown to me. 

February 23, 1971  Cypress/Dono/Ship Of The Sun
Starting in mid-February, the Hayward Daily Review has a weekly rock column (by Kathy Staska and George Mangrum) and they regularly, though not always, publish the Tuesday night audition bands. These three bands are unknown to me. The above clipping is from the February 18, 1971 edition.

March 2, 1971     Squid/Brothers Music/Bob McPharlin/Brothers Day
These bands are unknown to me.

March 6, 1971     Howard’s Band/White Light/Nevada
These bands are unknown to me.

March 23, 1971  Beggars Opera/Basca/Good Clean Fun
Beggars Opera were from Lafayette, in Contra Costa County, but otherwise I know nothing about them. The other two bands are unknown to me.

April 6, 1971  Augustus Warthog/Pollution/Childhood’s End
These bands are unknown to me.

April 20, 1971  Andrew Hallidie/Early Light/Ofeidian Dan
These bands are unknown to me.

April 27, 1971  Descimeister/Cookin Mama/Loose Gravel
Loose Gravel was a band led by guitarist Michael Wilhelm, formerly of The Charlatans. The movie Fillmore begins with Wilhelm insisting that Bill Graham book Loose Gravel for the last week of The Fillmore West. It is interesting to see they had already played audition night. The other two bands are unknown to me.

May 25, 1971  Chico David Blues Band/Quebec/Kwane and The Kwanditos
Kwane And The Kwanditos featured pianist Todd Barkan, later the proprietor of the famed San Francisco jazz club Keystone Korner (which was still a rock club in 1971). Kwane and The Kwanditos had played the Fillmore West as early as September 30, 1969, and they were "on the poster" for Januar 7-9, 1971, opening for Spirit and Elvin Bishop. I assume they were the "headliners" this night, since the other two bands appear unknown. By this time, the Fillmore West's closing had been announced, so any Tuesday night gigs were either to turn a profit or to find bands for booking or signing to the record label.  The urgency to find "new" groups for the Fillmore West was pretty small.

June 1, 1971  Transatlantic Train/Bloodworth/Straight Phonk Unlimited 
All three of these groups are unknown to me (Hayward Daily Review May 27, 1971)

June 8, 1971 Latin Blood/Country Side/Beans
The Beans were newly arrived from Phoenix, and would later become The Tubes.

June 14, 1971   Mother Earth/Doobie Brothers/Long John Baldry/Stoneground
This was a Monday night show, sponsored by Warner Brothers. All the acts were Warner Brothers Records acts. Presumably a lot of tickets were given away by radio stations, although I'm sure anyone could buy tickets. Warner Brothers would have rented the hall for the evening. According to the Hayward Daily Review(June 17), Elvin Bishop and Taj Mahal showed up to jam at evening's end.

June 15, 1971   Terry Dolan/Cookin Mama/Earth Rise
Terry Dolan was a Washington, DC songwriter who had moved to the Bay Area a few years earlier. Somewhat later he would be known for fronting the part time band Terry And The Pirates, with John Cipollina. Note that Cookin Mama is appearing for at least the second time (they played April 27, 1971 as well), as was Dolan (September 30, 1969).

June 22, 1971  Truckin’/others
Truckin' was an 11-member Hayward band, friendly with the Daily Review critics, so their doings were well covered. Truckin' got to play the very last audition night at Fillmore West. 

June 29, 1971 Sawbuck/Malo/Kwane and The Kwan-ditos
The last Tuesday night show at The Fillmore West was not an "audition" night in the sense that there was nothing to audition for. Still, the night was listed on the final poster, and even if the show was not broadcast on the radio like the other nights, it was still a part of history. Kwane and The Kwanditos returned. Sawbuck featured guitarists Ronnie Montrose and William "Mojo" Collins. Montrose would go on to fame withVan Morrison, Edgar Winter and his own band, and Collins had been in the group Initial Shock.

The future stars of the night were Malo, then in an early incarnation. They featured Carlos Santana's brother Jorge on guitar, along with Abel Zarate on guitar (from Naked Lunch), Arcelio Garcia on vocals, Richard Kermode on keyboards (later in Santana), Pablo Tellez on bass (also later in Santana), Roy Murray on horns (Naked Lunch) and Richard Bean on timbales and vocals. Malo would hit it big the next year with their debut album and with Bean's song "Suavecito," produced by David Rubinson and released on Epic.

Examining the Tuesday night audition shows at Fillmore West is an ongoing project. I will put updates in the comments and in the post, and hopefully anyone who attended (or played!) one of these shows will be kind enough to comment as well. When I get enough new information, I will repost the updated list.


  1. I am aware that the Fillmore East had a Tuesday night audition series, but I know even less about it. The earliest ad I have seen for it was on a flyer for September 9, 1969. I know of one group, Far Cry, who played an audition at Fillmore East on Tuesday, November 11, 1969. The description seems to fit the Fillmore West format (except for the basketball game), but beyond that I know nothing. If I can find enough Fillmore East dates, I will post a list of them too.

  2. In the September 20, 1974 Hayward Daily Review, Fillmore East manager Jerry Pompili said "The groups that were discovered in the old audition nights were by mistake. You would get a date to play just by calling in. It might have been in six months, but you would get the date."

    The article was about the reintroduction of Tuesday night "auditions" at Winterland, where Pompili was now Bill Graham's General Manager. Although Pompili was probably exaggerating for effect, and his specific experience was at the Fillmore East, in general this confirms what I have thought. In order to find new bands to preview every week, the Fillmores easily exhausted all the popular local bands and had to turn to a much more random assortment.

  3. June 8, 1971 featured Latin Blood, Country Side and Beans. Beans were newly arrived from Phoenix, and would later become The Tubes.

  4. December 14, 1969 featured Insanity Rules, Lila and Immaculate Contraption.

  5. Tuesday November 11, 1969
    Gold/Celestial Hysteria/Wisdom Fingers/Shag

    (per Berkeley Good Times issue 2-43)

  6. Tuesday March 24 Wizards/CDC/Sundance/Trouble

    (per Berkeley Good Times issue 3-12)

  7. I added the groups for Sept 16 thru Oct 28, 1969.

  8. I added some shows for November 1969 and one from April 14, 1970 (per SF Chronicle).

    1. Corry, I have an addition for Nov 4 1969. How can I send you some information to verity?

    2. MBB, thanks for your great info, I updated the post.

  9. I added some shows from December 1969

  10. This amazing post on Fillmore East ads in the Village Voice in 1969 includes some interesting links to Voice articles about the Fillmore East auditions
    The Voice suggests that the Fillmore East had difficulty starting a Tuesday night series because bands were unwilling to play for free, which suggests that they were doing so in SF.

  11. I would like to put my two cents in on the Oct.14 69 Schon/Kimberly show.
    Although Neal was 15 he was jamming with Kimberly and other local
    bands in San Mateo at that time. I was introduced to Kimberly by Neal in 69. I'm not sure why the name Schon appears on the bill but I think he was sitting in with them for part of that show.
    Schon played with a whole lot of people including Santana long before he joined the band.
    Kimberly had the same manager as Santana (Stan).
    It's tempting to go on but I will say there were a lot of connections between the bands playing at the Fillmore Tuesday nights.
    Interesting site, blog or whatever. Thanks C

  12. C, thanks for your great comments. What a fascinating detail, teenage Neal Schon letting it rip at the Fillmore West. I will put this information in the newer post, at

  13. My high school buddies from Hayward did several light shows as Anathema, starting in July 1969 (the weekend we landed on the moon!) I remember them auditioning in what must have been early 1969. I clearly remember Tony Joe White doing a set as "Polk Salad Annie" was out at the time.

  14. One thing to note is that this seems to have represented a continuation of the Tuesday Night Jams that Carousel had been hosting under the Headstone Productions (Rakow/GD/Airplane) regime. "The Tuesday night musicians' jam session instituted under Headstone will be revived and one night a week will probably be set aside for "jamming" and rapping among local lightshow technicians."

    "Fillmore Scene Moves To New Carousel Hall," Rolling Stone vol. 1 no. xx (August 10, 1968), p. 4.

    1. Very intriguing. Once again, the Grateful Dead had recognized the need for a new train, but built it before the track was complete. The more organized BGP operation could make a going concern out of the Tuesday night scene.

      One thing I wasn't really cognizant of when I wrote this was how few places there were for hippie bands to play. Other than the Matrix, there just wasn't much happening on weeknights in the city. That would change within a few years, but the Fillmore West closed by then anyway.

      BGP restarted the Tuesday night thing at Winterland in 1974-75, but it never caught on. One of the reasons was that there were so many other places to go to by then (Boarding House, Keystone, etc).

  15. I am looking for VERTREK, a band listed as a Tuesday Audition band on the back of the Famous Avacado Poster for Led Zep.
    Can you help.
    I played the Filmore West that Tuesday before the ZEP concert.
    Thanks, George R

    1. George, thanks for the interesting information. I assume you are referring to the April 24-27 '69 Zeppelin shows, so the Tuesday audition would have been April 22. I have a newer post with more information (
      but I am pretty thin for April and May of 1969. Do you remember any of the other bands on the bill besides Vertrek? Was Vertrek a San Francisco-based band?

    2. We were from red bluff CA. and were a Trio, Lead, Bass and Drums. Dave Clancy and George
      Do not know of the other bands but Graham put us up in a Hotel close by.
      1/2 to 3/4 hr set.

    3. I list Vertrek at the Fillmore West on Tuesday, 5/11/69.

      Other acts were Brotherhood Rush and Nevada.

  16. My name is Gene Cross, I was Andrew Hallidie. Hallidie helped invent the SF Cable care hence the bands name. We played tuesday night's 3 times. Opening for the Doobie Brothers on one occasion. Our managerDick Lepre was a friend of Bill Grahams. We played only original songs. We came close over the years, but I segwayed into acting and did ok. I now live in New York City, my songs on on CDBaby and all internet stations, Itune, Amazon, etc. Most of the session players came out of Sammy Hagar's line up at the time. Thanks

  17. My name is Gene Cross, I was Andrew Hallidie. Hallidie helped invent the SF Cable care hence the bands name. We played tuesday night's 3 times. Opening for the Doobie Brothers on one occasion. Our managerDick Lepre was a friend of Bill Grahams. We played only original songs. We came close over the years, but I segwayed into acting and did ok. I now live in New York City, my songs on on CDBaby and all internet stations, Itune, Amazon, etc. Most of the session players came out of Sammy Hagar's line up at the time. Thanks

  18. I played two Tuesdays early on in the Tues series with BODACIOUS a 7 piece with horns. Led by Roger Saunders. Mostly originals. Bill Graham told us to go play Vegas for year and then come talk to him.

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