Friday, August 20, 2010

The Bank, 19840 South Hamilton Avenue, Torrance, CA: 1968 Performance List (Updated)

(A poster advertising Moby Grape, FairBeFall and Gravity at The Bank in Torrance, CA on the weekend of September 6-8, 1968. h/t Ross for the scan)

I inaugurated this blog with a post that collected what little information could be gleaned about a venue called The Bank in Torrance, just outside of Los Angeles. It was gratifying to find out that others were interested as well, and the growing Comment thread added considerably to our knowledge, but the venue largely remained a mystery. However, having finally spoken to one of the founding principals of The Bank, a general picture of the venue has emerged. Combined with the information that I have since learned, I am re-publishing my post.

I have done extensive research into rock concert dates in Southern California in the 1960s, but so far only my lists for the Whisky A-Go-Go list (attempting to document every show at the Whisky from 1966 to 1969), its sister club The Trip (1965-66) and its near neighbor The Kaleidoscope (1968) have seen the light of day. The profusion of entertainment options in Los Angeles creates the paradoxical result that many go unnoticed. As a result, some interesting 60s venues seem to have been all but forgotten, and research can be very difficult. I am posting my current research in its improved but still incomplete form in the hopes that others will have more to add. I am very interested in any information anyone might have regarding the backers of this venue, the history of the building, its general successes and problems, and of course any corrections, insights and additions to the show list.

The Bank, at 19840 South Hamilton Avenue in Torrance, California, about 20 miles Southwest of Los Angeles, is one of the least remembered and most obscure venues in Southern California. Although it was only open for about six months in the second half of 1968, numerous fine bands played there, mostly from San Francisco. The posters for the shows, pleasant but unimpressive, still circulate, which has been just about my only source for information about shows at The Bank. Kim's page on The Bank has a fairly complete package of posters and newspaper ads. A few listings in local newspapers (such as The Pasadena Star-News) confirmed some of the poster dates, but the Comment thread on the first post were my first eyewitness sources.

Thomas Linn was one of the original principals of The Bank, and he spoke to me at length about the founding of the venue. Linn, known to friends as "Lunch," knew Jim Burrows (possibly spelled Jim Burroughs) from Laguna Beach (Update: thanks to a Commenter, we know that the partners were named Bill Acker and Mike Williams). Burrows's wife had inherited a six figure sum, and in early 1968 Burrows, Linn and two others decided to open a club that featured the sort of music they liked. Their model was the Fillmore and the Avalon in San Francisco. The original concept was that they would find a traditional bank building, with high ceilings and an ornate interior, and their slogan was going to be "deposit your money at The Bank." Linn recalled
Jim Burrows of Laguna Beach and I came up with the Idea of the Bank..his wife inherited a 1/4 mil which got it rolling ...we initially were looking for an old empty bank in the LA area we found a great old bank but its location was not great and it was too small for the groups we intended to have. A real Estate agent brought our attention to the Blue Law was going out of business...we could take over the lease...I didn't care much for the location...but Jim was the money man..and we were in a rush to put something together there it was... a fairly new red brick warehouse..ready to roll....
The partners decided that it was quicker to get the show on the road by taking over the Blue Law at 19840 South Hamilton Avenue in suburban Torrance than waiting for a suitable old bank to become available, so the concept of The Bank was simply applied to the warehouse in Torrance that had become the Blue Law.

Torrance, California is an industrial suburb of Los Angeles, about 20 miles South of LA. Torrance has some beachfront, but the nearby coastal towns of Redondo Beach and Palos Verdes are better known. Torrance extends several miles inland, and The Bank was on the inland edge of town, close to the intersection of the Harbor (I-110) and San Diego (I-405) Freeways. The building housing the Blue Law and then The Bank was visible from both freeways, and today it is not only visible from both freeways but also on Google Street View (19840 S. Hamilton Ave, Torrance, CA 90502). It appears to be a commercial establishment of some kind, but Linn recognizes the building, so it is largely intact.

The last show at The Blue Law as such seems to have been May 19, 1968 (see below). Linn recalls that they took over the venue shortly before Bobby Kennedy was murdered in Los Angeles (June 6, 1968), as he recalls working in the empty venue when they heard the news. Burrows brother-in-law had also joined the original founders, as his wife had also recently inherited a similar sum. Linn was an artist, and he and Burrows focused on the concept of the club. Although Linn has forgotten their names, the other partners besides Burrows and his brother-in-law included someone who built the sound system and someone who booked the bands. The partner who designed the sound system also built recording studios, so the house PA sounded great and impressed visiting musicians. Linn also recalls a tape deck being run at the mixing board, so perhaps there is a secret treasure trove of tapes somewhere as well.

Performance List
What follows is my list of known rock shows at The Blue Law and The Bank. The sources most dates are posters, except where indicated. I have included a few interesting notes about the chronology and history of some bands that played the venue, but I take for granted that anyone reading this post does not need a primer on the likes of Pink Floyd or Canned Heat. Some posters advertise additional theater or film attractions as part of the bills, but I have not mentioned them here, as they are outside my scope and I have even less of a context for them.

Although I have considerably improved my list, there is still much to learn. Anyone with additional information, corrections, insights or recovered memories (real or imagined) are encouraged to Comment or email me.

(A poster advertising Love, Canned Heat and The Hourglass at The Blue Law on December 15-17, 1967. H/t Kim)


I now know more about The Blue Law then I did before, but it isn't much. The Blue Law, at 19840 South Hamilton Avenue, was owned by a doctor. Lunch and others knew his daughter, who was a teenager at the time. Thanks to Marc, I know that the Blue Law debuted on December 15, 1967.

December 15-17, 1967 The Blue Law: Love/Canned Heat/The Hook
Marc found a Pete Johnson review of the debut show in the Los Angeles Times of December 18, 1967. Johnson describes the venue as a concrete block with terrible sound, but said the proprietors promised to improve it. Thomas Linn says the building was designed as a warehouse. It appears that the Blue Law was only open on weekends, like the Fillmore and the Avalon. Many clubs in Los Angeles, like The Cheetah and The Whisky, were open six or seven days a week, even if they didn't always present bands.

This gig is discussed at length in drummer Michael Stuart-Ware’s book about his time in the band Love (Behind The Scenes On The Pegasus Carousel, Helter Skelter Books, 2003). Ware’s description suggests the venue is somewhat small. Linn recalls that the space was about 250 x 400 ft. I have found no other published account of the venue, as either The Blue Law or The Bank. Ware recalls
The building was like a rec center, located in the heart of a typical suburban Los Angeles community. The stage had no private rear entrance or dressing rooms, and the groups that were scheduled to perform simply walked through the front door, past the people that had come to see them play, and right up the stage steps (p. 152).
He adds that “the place was jam-packed, but room capacity was only seven or eight hundred, tops.” The context suggests that Love did not play the venue the next night.

The Hook were a Los Angeles-area blues rock band.

December 22-24, 1967 The Blue Law: Country Joe and The Fish/The Sunshine/Inner Spirit
Inner Spirit was an early name for Spirit (Randy California’s band).

January 19-20, 1968 The Blue Law: Charlie Musselwhite and Harvey Mandel
Mandel and Musselwhite were among the many white Chicago blues musicians who had moved to San Francisco. In formal terms, Mandel was the lead guitarist in Musselwhite's band, as Musselwhite had an album on Vanguard, but Mandel was also a featured performer in his own right (h/t Kim for the scan).

I have been unable to find any other information about performances at the Blue Law until May, when it appears the club closed.

May 17-18-19, 1968 The Blue Law: Blue Law Survival Benefit
Strawberry Alarm Clock/Quicksilver Messenger Service/P, G & E/Sweetwater/Love Exchange/Hour Glass/Things To Come/Albert King/Spirit/Genesis/Touch/Mothers of Invention/H.P. Lovecraft/Triangle/East Side Kids/Copper Leaf/Fair Befall
The flyer suggests this is a benefit for the club itself. Since The Bank would open on the site later, its clear that the club is near the end of the line. The exact date for the demise of The Blue Law is  unknown to me, but apparently the doctor who owned it was losing money. However, the fact that some established bands were willing to play a benefit for the club suggests that The Blue Law was an established venue.

Obviously these groups were spread out over the entire weekend. The band Genesis was a local band (featuring former members of Sons of Adam), not the English group.

May 19, 1968 The Blue Law, Torrance, CA: Quicksilver Messenger Service/The Mothers of Invention/Iron Butterfly/LA Smog and Refinery
The flyer says “Rock For McCarthy” and advertises “2pm to 1am Sunday.” This sort of fits in with the above flyer, although not exactly. The flyer says “Blue Law Ballroom” (update: Zappa scholar extraordinaire Charles Ulrich points out both that the Mothers Of Invention were clearly at a rock festival in Hallandale, Florida this weekend. In any case, Frank Zappa would not have endorsed a candidate for President--voting, maybe, but not a candidate).

Thomas Linn recalls opening The Bank at the end of June or beginning of July. Kim has found a poster as early as July 19-20, 1968, but so far I have been unable to identify the inaugural performers. Linn said that The Bank was only open Fridays, Saturday and Sundays, so that makes the opening date likely to be June 28 or July 5.

The booking pattern at The Bank generally featured multiple acts on Friday and Saturday night, often including a substantial headliner, and Sunday shows (often in the afternoon) featuring local groups, and sometimes films as well. Usually the local groups headlining on Sunday also played Friday and Saturday as well. Linn recalls that at the beginning the "house band" was a group called Gravity. Linn recalls them playing in a heavy blues style that would later be popularized by the Allman Brothers.

July 19-20, 1968 The Bank: Charlie Musselwhite
Kim found this early poster. Musselwhite had played The Bank in its Blue Law incarnation. Linn recalls him being particularly impressed with the new sound system.

July 26-27, 1968 The Bank: Charlie Musselwhite/Smokestack Lightning/Genesis
Marc found an ad in the LA Free Press that called this weekend the "Grand Opening," although obviously the venue had quietly opened a few weeks before.

August 2-3, 1968 The Bank Barry Goldberg Reunion/Mint Tattoo/Turnquist Remedy
Kim has found a poster for this, but I can't read it. Hopefully someone will figure it out (update: Marc did, by looking in the LA Free Press--thanks).

August 9-11, 1968 The Bank: PG&E/Illinois Speed Press/Sons of Champlin/Freedom Highway
Artist Bob Wilson made the familiar run of posters that have given The Bank what little notoriety it has retained. The poster for this show (above) seems to be the first of his works. Wilson apparently received $50 per poster, and he and his girlfriend got to see all the shows for free. 

Linn explained that the partners considered San Francisco to be the center of the musical universe at the time, so they tried to book as many San Francisco bands as possible. The Sons Of Champlin and Freedom Highway were both associated with West-Pole Talent Agency  in San Francisco, who also booked Quicksilver Messenger Service, among many others. Numerous West-Pole groups were booked at The Bank during its brief tenure.

P, G & E was a Los Angeles blues rock band (formerly The Bluesberries), and Illinois Speed Press had recently been signed by Columbia and relocated from Chicago to LA. Guitarist Paul Cotton, later famous in Poco, was the main singer and writer for the ISP.

August 16-17, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA: The Fugs/Mt. Rushmore
August 18, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA: Gravity (afternoon show)
Mt. Rushmore (who had two albums on Dot Records) were another San Francisco group managed by West-Pole.

August 23-24, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA: Pink Floyd/Black Pearl
August 25, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA : Black Pearl (afternoon show)
At the time, Pink Floyd was an underground band who were not particularly well-known. Linn recalls them playing a fantastic show to just a few dozen people.

Black Pearl was an obscure San Francisco band, featuring former members of New England’s Barbarians.

August 30,31, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA: United States of America/Taj Mahal
September 1, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA Gravity/Mondo (afternoon)
The United States of America were a very forward looking band featuring experimental composer and UCLA ethnomusicologist Joseph Byrd and singer Dorothy Moskowitz. They released one obscure album that has grown in stature over the decades, and made one brief tour before they split up. By this time, founder Joseph Byrd had already left. This was probably one of their last shows. Linn remembers that Jim Burrows hated their performance, but he can't recall whether because they were too advanced or just no good.

At some point around the end of the Summer, Thomas Linn left The Bank. He was an original partner, but he hadn't taken any money, and for a variety of personal reasons he moved on. What information we have here on out comes from various Commenters and Kim's blog.

September 6-7, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA: Moby Grape/Fair BeFall
September 8, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA: Fair BeFall/Gravity (afternoon show)

September 13-14, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA: Lee Michaels/All Men Joy
September 15, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA: All Men Joy/Gravity
All Men Joy were a San Francisco band, and did not feature Duane and Gregg Allman. Lee Michaels was also based in the Bay Area at the time.

September 20, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA: Quicksilver Messenger Service/Sons of Champlin/Love Exchange
September 21, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA: Quicksilver Messenger Service/Sons of Champlin/Ace Of Cups
September 22, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA: jam
Quicksilver, The Sons of Champlin and the all-women band Ace Of Cups were all San Francisco West-Pole bands.

September 27-28, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA: John Mayall/Chicago Transit Authority/Mug-Wumps
September 29, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA: John Mayall/Maze/Flash Gordon (afternoon show)
John Mayall’s group at this time was a quartet featuring guitarist Mick Taylor.

The Chicago Transit Authority, like the Illinois Speed Press, had been signed by Columbia and relocated to Los Angeles. They had not yet released their first album.

October 4, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA: Country Joe and The Fish/A.B. Skhy Blues Band
The A.B. Skhy Blues Band, featuring the fine organist Howard Wales, had recently relocated from Milwaukee (where they were known as The New Blues) to San Francisco.

October 5, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA: The Hook/A.B. Skhy Blues Band
October 6, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA: Shakey Jake and The All Stars
The poster for the October 4/5/6 weekend says at the bottom “Next week-Canned Heat and Spirit, ” but a later ad in the LA Free Press does not have Canned Heat and Spirit, suggesting the bill was changed.

October 11-12, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA: Charlie Musselwhite/Shakey Jake and His All-Stars/Pollution
October 13, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA jam plus films
Harmonica player and singer Charlie Musselwhite, who had moved from Chicago to San Francisco in 1967, was yet another Bay Area band that played The Bank. Ron Polte, the head of West-Pole and Quicksilver’s manager, was a former Union organizer in Chicago, so he had many connections to all the Chicago>San Francisco transplants (Musselwhite, Mike Bloomfield, Nick Gravenites, Harvey Mandel, etc), even if he did not manage those artists.

October 18, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA: Grateful Dead/Cleveland Wrecking Company
Cleveland Wrecking Company were a well regarded San Francisco-area band. They were a 7-piece band (founded at College of San Mateo) that played jazz rock. They mainly played dances, but they also played a few Fillmore-type gigs as well. Although they played original material, they never recorded and apparently never had plans to do so.

October 19, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA: Big Mama Thornton/Cleveland Wrecking Company
October 20, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA Free Clinic Benefit (bands not named)

October 25-26, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA: Sweetwater/Black Pearl
October 27, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA films/jam/KPFK broadcasting live
I believe "KPFK broadcasting live" refers to a live remote dj, not live performances broadcast over the radio (sadly). 

November 1, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA: Three Dog Night/Alice Cooper
In a slight deviation from the norm at The Bank, there are two local headliners on Friday night, with a different lineup on Saturday and Sunday.

Three Dog Night had recorded their first album for ABC Records, and probably released their first single (“Nobody”), but their album had not yet come out. They were still playing local gigs around Southern California to establish themselves.

Alice Cooper—at the time, the name of the band, not lead singer Vince Furnier—had only changed their name from The Nazz in March 1968. By November, they were affiliated with Frank Zappa, but their debut album on Zappa’s Straight Records would not be released until the next year. Sheryl recalls that the Alice Cooper group lined up at the entrance to The Bank and shook hands with each arriving patron, as if they were on the receiving line at a wedding.

November 2-3, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA: Alice Cooper/Mint Tattoo/Pollution
Mint Tattoo were also a San Francisco-based group, although the principal members were actually from Sacramento. Guitarist/vocalist Bruce Stephens and bassist/organist Ralph Burns Kellogg went on to join Blue Cheer in 1969, and both recorded in a number of obscure but interesting settings over the next few decades. Kellogg (1946-2003) was a successful engineer and producer in Los Angeles in the 1980s under the name Ethan James, for groups like The Minutemen and Black Flag.

November 8-9, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA: Ten Years After/The Collectors/Floating Bridge
This bill was a unique instance at The Bank where none of the acts were California-based. Ten Years After were on the second of their 28 (count ‘em) American tours, the Collectors were from a suburb of Vancouver (Chilliwack, BC) and The Floating Bridge were a highly regarded band from Seattle.

November 15, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA: Canned Heat/Linn County/Flamin Groovies
Sheryl recalls Canned Heat playing the club at some point, and that it was the best attended show in the history of The Bank, so they definitely played some weekend.

Linn County were from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, but they too had relocated to San Francisco in 1968. They released three albums on Mercury. The Flamin’ Groovies were a San Francisco band as well, but their neo-British Invasion stylings were never popular in the Bay Area itself.

November 16, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA: Harvey Mandel/Linn County/Flamin Groovies
November 17, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA: jam (afternoon)
Harvey Mandel, an exceptional guitarist, was one of the white Chicagoans who played authentic blues, like Mike Blomfield and Paul Butterfield. He had relocated to San Francisco as well. Besides recording for Mercury, he would later work with Canned Heat and John Mayall. Mandel had played the venue was the Blue Law (January 19-20) when he was still working with Charlie Musselwhite, but I'm not sure if he was still part of Musselwhite's band when The Bank opened in July.

November 22, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA: Bo Diddley/Fur
November 23, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA: Bo Diddley/Notes From The Underground
Notes From The Underground were a Berkeley Folk-Rock group. They released an album on Vanguard.

November 27, 1968 The Bank: Spirit
November 29, 30, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA: Spirit/Harvey Mandel/Blues Image
December 1, 1968 The Bank: uncertain
I can't quite read all the details on the poster.

December 6, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA: Love/Three Dog Night/Fair BeFall
December 7, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA: Love/Three Dog Night/Middle Earth
A handwritten Three Dog Night tour diary shows 3DN playing both nights (for $500 each night), varying a bit from the poster.

December 8, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA: The Turtles/’KPFK Live’
I don’t believe this indicates that The Turtles were broadcast live on KPFK (although it would be great if they had been, as the Turtles were reputedly a fine live band).

December 13-14, 1968 The Bank, Torrance, CA: Grateful Dead/Magic Sam/Turnquist Remedy
The bare outlines of the story of The Bank in Torrance end here. A clue to the club’s fate comes from the poster for the show. Half of it is taken up with an entreaty:
The Police can only close us
with YOUR fear.
Please help us, the Music,
and yourself.
Bring friends to The Bank.
Come clean, be safe be happy
This plea suggests that police pressure had led to enough drug busts that it affected attendance, a common fate of rock ballrooms in the 1960s. The poster advertises a movie on Sunday afternoon, December 15 (The Return of Flash Gordon), but I have to assume the venue closed after these shows. Thomas Linn, while admitting that he was out of touch with The Bank after the Summer, felt that they may have brought some of the pressure on themselves. The venue ran FM radio ads with their catchphrase "Come deposit your money at The Bank" and tried to make the voice-over sound as cool and stoned as possible.

On top of police pressure--always a problem at hip 60s venues--the rock market was exploding and smallish venues could hardly compete for good acts, even when they sold out, and The Bank was not generally well attended, so the The Bank seems to have closed after this Grateful Dead concert.

As a peculiar footnote to The Bank, unlike many Grateful Dead shows, there were no known tapers at the December Grateful Dead shows. Uniquely, however, there was a tapir (really). 

Thanks to Kim, Sheryl, and all the Commenters who helped out. Anyone with further information or recovered memories (real or imagined) is encouraged to Comment or contact me.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Swing Auditorium, San Bernardino, CA: Major Rock Shows 1967-69

(a handbill for the December 13, 1969 show at the Swing Auditorium, San Bernardino, featuring the Grateful Dead, Country Joe and The Fish and The Flying Burrito Brothers. h/t Brad for the scan)

The Swing Auditorium, on E Street in San Bernardino, had been built in 1949 and had a capacity of up to 10,000, making it one of the largest rock arenas in use in the 1960s. Many non-Californians assume that San Bernardino is part of Los Angeles, but that is only true in a very broad sense. The city of San Bernardino is actually 60 miles from Downtown Los Angeles, and even further from Santa Monica or the Coast. Given the history of Southern California traffic, that can sometimes be two hours of more of driving, at any time of the day or night. Thus San Bernardino was really new territory for 60s rock bands, far away in many senses from Los Angeles proper.

The cities and counties of San Bernardino and Riverside are generally known today as The Inland Empire, part of Greater Los Angeles in some broad ways and a separate planet in others. Those who have never lived or spent time in Southern California have a tendency to think of Greater LA as a single entity but in fact it is more of an ecosystem, both culturally and economically. San Bernardino has had a lively music scene since World War 2, but the music was infused by the different universe of the Inland Empire. This is not some long-lost phenomenon; the Empire has always had a distinct relationship to Los Angeles, providing a space for Orange Groves, Factories, Aerospace and now Exurbs, with the accompanying boom and bust cycles coloring each development.

An amazing post by blogger and musician David Lowery (from the groups Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker) looks at how the physical and economic landscape of the Inland Empire has infused his music over time. I took his excellent meditation as an opportunity to look at the arrival of the modern rock concert in the Inland Empire, at the Swing Auditorium in San Bernardino.

While the Swing was apparently used for many "Teen" rock shows in the mid-60s, with one important exception touring bands did not begin playing there until late 1967. Rock shows in California followed commerce, which had followed the major Interstates and which ultimately replicated the history of railroad construction. The patterns of late 20th rock band touring were laid on top of the network of railroads built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 60s rock bands played San Francisco and Los Angeles first, and then extended their range to places like Santa Barbara and San Diego in the South and Portland and Seattle in the North, all along the US-101/I-5 corridor. All those places had established concert venues with major rock bands before psychedelia migrated East to San Bernardino.

San Bernardino
San Bernardino has an interesting history dating back to at least 1810, too lengthy to go into here. Given its isolation and the unimportance of Southern California with respect to San Francisco, it played little role in California History (if the Mormons had not returned to Salt Lake City from San Bernardino in the late 1850s, perhaps that history would have been different, but I digress). The city and county of San Bernardino are in a dry desert that is not inherently friendly to development. Like almost all of Southern California, without importing water and having a railroad to export production, the city and county had little chance to thrive. The Southern Pacific Railroad, who effectively created modern Los Angeles by including it on the SP Main Line, chose for various reasons to site their junction at Colton, in neighboring Riverside County. This left San Bernardino high and dry.

San Bernardino found a rail link through a subsidiary of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. In the Southwest, the general direction of the Santa Fe gave rise to the communities that linked the famous Route 66, one of the first Interstate Highways. The metrically preferable name of San Bernardino got it included in the 1946 Bobby Troup song of the same name, later covered by Nat King Cole, Chuck Berry and The Rolling Stones, among others.

San Bernardino and The Rise Of Greater Los Angeles
Architecture Critic Reyner Banham, in his classic 1971 book Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies, demonstrated conclusively that the history of Los Angeles development was intrinsically tied to the development of railroads. Most important of these was the interurban Pacific Electric Railroad, which linked a series of then-disparate communities in such a way that they were a greater whole that existed as a single economic entity. The map below is part of the Streetcar map from 1920, and anyone who has even visited the Los Angeles area will recognize the blueprint of the freeway system that would arrive before and after World War 2 (click for a larger version)

(part of the Pacific Electric Railway route map c. 1920, from Reyner Banham's Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies, 1971: Harper & Row)

The Pacific Electric Railway reached San Bernardino in 1911. At that point, despite the enormous distance from San Bernardino to the Coast, it became part of greater Los Angeles. The outline of Interstate 10 and Interstate 215 are visible on the streetcar maps, because as Banham eloquently observes, the railway created the interlocking communities that were ultimately served by the Freeways. As a result of the Pacific Electric, San Bernardino became a part of Los Angeles while places to the North, like Palmdale and Lancaster, did not.

The Inland Empire In The 1960s
World War 2 brought enormous growth to California, and Greater Los Angeles in particular benefited from the expansion of the Aerospace Industry. Norton Air Force Base opened in 1942 near Downtown San Bernardino, and it contributed greatly to the growth of the area. During the great boom in Los Angeles in the 1950s and 60s, the "Inland Empire," which more or less defined the area from the San Bernardino County line (abutting Los Angeles County) to the Nevada state line, moved from being a land of orange groves to a community of factories and suburbs. Riverside County, just to the South, and lacking any large cities, also became part of the broader Inland Empire. New suburbs grew up all around both counties, as people flocked to Southern California from elsewhere to work in the various industries located in the Empire.

In the 1960s, the Inland Empire was full of teenagers, and they jumped on the rock and roll train of the 1960s without hesitation. The Empire was far from Hollywood, however, so local garage bands were surprisingly successful, as there was an audience of eager teenagers ready, ready, ready to rock and roll. However, while the rock stories in Riverside and the surrounding area in the 1960s are great ones, it has been told brilliantly and in amazing detail by Ugly Things magazine, so I will not recap them here. Suffice to say, teenage groups like Bush and The Misunderstood did not have to compete with the rock stars of the day, as they almost never ventured far inland, and local teenagers became rock stars in their own right.

The Rolling Stones
While rock bands of the mid-60s completely ignored San Bernardino, which may have well have been Kansas as far as they were concerned, there was one amazing exception: The Rolling Stones. For whatever reason, the Stones made their American concert debut at the Swing Auditorium on June 5, 1964. Keith Richards recalled the crowd fondly, as they knew all the words to the songs, and of course Keith had heard of San Bernardino because he knew the lyrics of "Route 66." The Stones returned to San Bernardino on May 15, 1965, to an apparently equally rapturous reception, but after that they played nearer the Coast, and Inland Empire teenagers still had to get their live music through their local heroes.

Rock Touring In The 1960s
Prior to the Fillmore and the Avalon, rock bands only toured to accelerate the sales of records. Most concerts were sponsored by local radio stations, and even headline bands performed short sets, typically around 30 minutes. Numerous local acts would fill out the bill, sound systems were dismal and lighting was pedestrian. Serious bands saved their best performances for nightclubs in big cities, where there was more of an opportunity to play well, but even those were few and far between.

The Fillmore and the Avalon elevated the rock concert to Art, in parallel with the great albums released by the likes of the Beatles and Bob Dylan. A rock concert became a Serious Event, treated reverentially and subject to analysis and criticism. Professional sound and adequate lighting were part of the "concert experience," just as they would be on Broadway. At first this concert aesthetic only took hold in some Underground enclaves in a few big cities, like San Francisco and Santa Monica. As some of the groups who embodied that aesthetic became popular, like Jefferson Airplane and The Doors, they started to tour around the country.

The initial "Fillmore Circuit" roughly followed I-80 and I-5, more or less paralleling the Southern Pacific and Union Pacific rail routes  as they headed East. Bands played the West Coast (I-5) and headed East through the Sierras towards Chicago, stopping off to play Salt Lake City, Denver, Omaha or Des Moines on the way. From Chicago they headed to New York, via Cleveland and Detroit, and then worked the I-95 corridor along the Eastern Seaboard. Famous 60s venues like the Boston Tea Party, the Fillmore East, Philadelphia's Electric Factory and Miami's Thee Image were all arteries off the rock and roll "Main Line" of I-95. The lesser known venues of the West Coast stuck close to either US 101 or I-5 (from the Hippodrome in San Diego to the Fillmore, thence to the Crystal Ballroom in Portland and Eagles Ballroom in Seattle). 

By 1968, however, rock music had exploded way beyond the confines of a few big cities. FM radio was booming, teenagers everywhere read Rolling Stone magazine, and there were a lot of bands out touring. Managers and booking agents started to see that there was plenty of pent up demand for rock shows out in the suburbs. Just as the railways had extended their reach from big cities in order to create suburbs,  rock tours followed the same map. Bands on a West Coast tour discovered they could play a show near Los Angeles one night and then play Orange County or San Bernardino the next night for an entirely different audience.
(Country Joe McDonald and Mark Kapner on stage at the Swing Auditorium, San Bernardino, December 13, 1969. Photo by (and thanks to) Danny Payne)

The Swing Auditorium
The Swing Auditorium was central to San Bernardino County, and more accessible to Riverside County than any venue in Los Angeles County and most of Orange. Every account I have read of the Swing Auditorium recalls it as an aging dump with terrible sound, and yet those recollections were surprisingly fond. What follows is a list of rock concerts at Swing Auditorium in San Bernardino from 1967 to 1969 that feature touring rock bands, as the rock universe followed the path of the Pacific Electric Railway and brought a high-but-not-lonesome sound to the Inland Empire.

February 4, 1967 Buffalo Springfield
This was probably a regular radio station style show, and the Springfield probably played a brief set. Such shows were probably common at the Swing, and this one is only memorialized because Neil Young and Stephen Stills were in Buffalo Springfield.

April 15, 1967 The Turtles/Sandpipers

July 14, 1967 “Crepuscular Happening” The Grass Roots and Battle of The Bands 
Ugly Things #28 described this event in some detail, and it was probably typical.   The battling bands included The Good Feelins (from San Bernardino), The Torquays (also SB), Blues In A Bottle (Riverside) and Smoke (LA).

July 17, 1967 Jefferson Airplane

August 25, 1967 Buffalo Springfield

November 3, 1967 Buffalo Springfield/Yellow Payges/Mandala
Mandala were a high powered group from Toronto, Ontario.

November 17, 1967 Eric Burdon and The Animals/Blues In A Bottle/Caretakers/Good Feelins/Ancient Peach
Another typical event, sponsored by KMEN-am, with over 5000 in attendance (per UT #28).The new, psychedelic Animals had placed themselves firmly in the Fillmore camp, but they still played a lot of shows like this one, headlining over a number of local acts.

December 16, 1967 The Doors/Fly By Night Company/Friends And Relations/Winfield Concessions/Electric Chairs
I believe that San Bernardino got a fair number of dates in the Fall and Winter because touring was a snowy enterprise in other parts of the country, and the sunny Inland Empire was the beneficiary.

February 25, 1968  Cream/The Hunger/The Caretakers
A Commenter discovered this hitherto lost Cream date, presented by KFXM radio. Cream was thought to have played at Cal State Northridge on this date--perhaps they played two venues.

Cream was not only huge, but important, a serious live rock band. The Doors and the Airplane were great, of course, but they also had huge AM singles and a certain amount of teenybopper appeal, but Cream were revered like jazz musicians.

April 7, 1968 Steppenwolf/Blue Cheer/Cactus

April 20, 1968 Eric Burdon and The Animals/Friends and Relations/Yellow Payges/Electric Chair

May 25, 1968 Jefferson Airplane/Iron Butterfly/Boston Tea Party
Jefferson Airplane and Iron Butterfly were two of the biggest touring rock acts in the country at this point. This may have been the first major rock show at the Swing with a light show, since the Airplane toured with their own.

May 27, 1968 Cream
Cream returned for another date in May.

May 31, 1968 Mothers Of Invention

August 21, 1968: Steppenwolf / The Grass Roots / Sonny Love / Sonny Knight & The Soul Congregation / Chicago Transit Authority / The Fabulous Wahler / Three Dog Night 
"First Annual Inland Empire Pop Festival"

September 5, 1968 Jimi Hendrix Experience/Vanilla Fudge/Eire Apparent/Soft Machine
Once Cream and Jimi Hendrix had both played the Swing, the venue was officially part of the touring circuit, however far it was from Los Angeles proper.

The poster for The New Buffalo Springfield and Eric Burdon And The Animals at the Swing Auditorium on December 6, 1968 (thanks to reader Pam for the scan).
December 6, 1968 New Buffalo Springfield/Eric Burdon And The Animals
The Buffalo Springfield had broken up in the Spring of '68, and their last concert had been on May 5, 1968. By December, Neil Young had gone solo, Richie Furay had formed a group called RFD and then called Popo, with Jim Messina, later better known as Poco and Stephen Stills was holed up in Long Island with Graham Nash and David Crosby. Yet the Springfield were more popular than ever. So a band was put together in Fall 1968, featuring Dewey Martin, the Springfield drummer. The group was called New Buffalo Springfield. While not a terrible group, it was a classic bait-and-switch, encouraging fans to think that the new group had much to do with the old.

Eric Burdon and The Animals were the newer, psychedelic version of the British Invasion stars. They were quite an interesting group in their own right, and I have written about them extensively. At this time, they featured guitarist Andy Summers (later of The Police) and English keyboard legend Zoot Money, along with guitarist John Weider and drummer Barry Jenkins. This show would have been right after a disastrous trip to Japan, and the Animals broke up shortly afterwards. Either this was one of the last shows of Eric Burdon and The Animals, or they didn't play the show--it's even possible that the show didn't take place at all. Nonetheless, loyal blog reader Pam sent in the poster (above), so it very well may have happened.

December 14, 1968 Chambers Brothers/Buddy Miles Express/Sir Douglas Quintet

February 1, 1969: Creedence Clearwater Revival/Canned Heat

February 18, 1969 Iron Butterfly/Steve Miller Band/P,G & E

March 28, 1969  Janis Joplin/MC5/Lee Michaels

April 26, 1969  Jefferson Airplane/Valerie Fussell
Folk singer Valerie Fussell, then a 17-year old high school student, was discovered singing in a Unitarian Church basement coffee shop in Riverside. She was invited to open the show. She also opened a show for Three Dog Night at the Swing later in the year, but I haven't been able to pin down the date.

August 8, 1969 Led Zeppelin/Jethro Tull
Imagine Jethro Tull as an opening act, and opening for Led Zeppelin at that. No wonder people have fond memories of the Swing.

August 30, 1969 Sly And The Family Stone

September 6, 1969 Iron Butterfly
Although Iron Butterfly's music seems dated today, they were a popular group in 1969, witnessed by the fact that they headlined the venue twice that year.

September 20, 1969 Creedence Clearwater Revival/Lee Michaels

November 14, 1969 Moody Blues

November 21, 1969 Blood, Sweat & Tears

(Bob Weir and Pigpen on stage at the Swing Auditorium, San Bernardino on December 13, 1969. Photo by (and thanks to) Danny Payne)

December 13, 1969 Grateful Dead/Country Joe and The Fish/Flying Burrito Brothers

The Grateful Dead began a fruitful history with the Swing Auditorium on this day. It being the Dead and all, there's a tape and even some quite amazing photos (thanks to Danny Payne and Brad).

December 31, 1969 Lee Michaels

As the Inland Empire population boomed, and the rock market swelled as well, the Swing became a regular port of call for rock bands in the 1970s. In September 1981, the Swing Auditorium was struck by a small plane, and ultimately the building had to be torn down. Even the briefest google search, however, will show you that the ancient arena had a wealth of memories for its patrons. The Swing acted as a sort of cultural signpost for rock fans in the Inland Empire, as it was where bands from elsewhere put their feet on the dry desert, so its no surprise that despite the building's flaws it brings pack powerful memories for those who saw bands there.

Rock had moved from big cities to the suburbs by 1969, and San Bernardino was a textbook example (were I to write a textbook, that is). As the 1970s wore on, rock expanded beyond the anchors of the larger cities to the entire country, and individual suburbs of big cities became less important in their own right. When rock became the dominant form of live entertainment, major bands could play anywhere there was a population, and the need for rockin' suburbs anchored to a major metropolitan area was less critical, and the Swing was not replaced by a similar venue.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Fillmore West Lost Concerts: Tuesday Night Auditions 1968-69 (FW Auditions I)


 (This is an extensive update of a previous post, which I have now divided into two parts)

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 ($1.00 or $1.50). The best of those bands would often open a weekend show on Friday and Saturday, sometimes even the next weekend.

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 at least some of the time, then there would be approximately 50 or more 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 been attempting to determine what I can about Fillmore West audition shows.  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, with occasional exceptions. 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, each of the three bands was paid Union Scale for a two-hour session. I do not precisely how much this was, and obviously depending on the number of members of the band it would vary slightly, but it was probably a relatively small amount. Thus, it would not take a large crowd to justify the expense of the evening (since bands had to join the union in order to play Fillmore West, some bands may have effectively not been paid at all). By 1969 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 (although this in the end did not happen).

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 ("Jackson" was Fillmore West manager Gary Jackson). 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 the next installment), but the $1000 signing bonus was deemed insufficient. However, while many fine bands came through the Fillmore West auditions, Graham's booking agency (Millard) was a bigger beneficiary than his record companies.

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 the Fillmore had been the previous Summer. After Labor Day, the Fillmore West returned to a typical Thursday-thru-Sunday schedule, with occasional exceptions.  A new program would not start the day after Labor Day (Tuesday, September 3), and thus Tuesday, September 10, 1968 was 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. Most of the information comes from entertainment listings or snippets published in Bay Area daily or Underground papers. I have tried to identify each band. I have many more bookings yet to uncover. Anyone with other information or useful speculation is encouraged to put them in the Comments or email me. I'm particularly interested in band members who played these shows, as well as anyone who attended a Tuesday night show.

September 10, 1968 A.B. Sky/Clover/Tounge In Groove Tuesday Night Audition
This date was the beginning of the Tuesday Night audition series, as up through Labor Day (September 2, 1968) the Fillmore West mostly had shows six nights a week. 

A.B. Skhy was a merger of a band from Milwaukee called The New Blues and organist Howard Wales, from Cincinnati. Their debut was released the next year on MGM. Clover was a Marin band that included John McFee and Alex Call, and they would soon be signed to Fantasy. Tongue and Groove featured singer Lynne Hughes. A.B. Skhy and Clover made albums in 1969, so the Fillmore West auditions probably played at least some role in their signing.

September ?, 1968 Santana Blues Band/Devil's Kitchen
Brett Champlin of Devils' Kitchen recalls playing audition night with the Santana Blues Band (announced as such) around this time. Santana Blues Band were a popular band around the Bay Area, and did not need to "audition" as such, so I think this must have been more of a showcase for Talent Agents and record companies. Santana were booked by the Millard Agency, so it was in Bill Graham's interests to promote interest in the band. The lineup at the time would have included Doc Livingston on drums and Marcus Malone on congas (along with Carlos, Gregg Rolie and bassist David Brown).

Devil's Kitchen were a newly arrived band from Carbondale, IL. They remained in the Bay Area for about two years, and at one point became the house band for The Family Dog On The Great Highway (h/t to Bruno).

JGMF could not find a listing in the SF Chronicle for September 17, 1968, so that may be the likely date (assuming Brett Champlin's memory is correct, and there is reason to think it is). 

September 24, 1968 Cleveland Wrecking Company/Mt Rushmore/The Wedge
Cleveland Wrecking Company was a sort of psychedelic horn band, kind of like the Sons of Champlin, who played lucrative dance gigs as well as the hippie rock clubs. They made good money, but were less interested in recording than many other groups. 

Mt. Rushmore had a peculiar, complicated history which we have documented at length. The band had existed since early 1967, but most of its members were now in the group Phoenix. Guitarist Mike Bolan kept the group going, however (with everyone else's permission), and ultimately the "new" Mt. Rushmore released two albums on Dot Records. Their first album High On Mt. Rushmore (let it go, it was the sixties) was released in 1969. The Wedge are unknown to me.

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 (possibly Canned Heat on October 4-5, if I guessed the date right), 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 one of the few detailed memories of a Fillmore West audition, and it describes the meaningful stakes that were in play.

October 8, 1968 Initial Shock/Pulse/Freedom Highway
Initial Shock was from Montana, and had recently moved to the city. Pulse was a light show driven by a lone conga drummer. Freedom Highway were a Marin band, linked to the Sons of Champlin and West-Pole booking, but somewhat younger.

October 15, 1968 Flamin Groovies/Marvin Gardens/Transatlantic Railroad
JGMF found these listings in the SF Chronicle. . The Flamin' Groovies were a San Francisco band who played in a "British Invasion" style, and they have regularly documented their own history. Marvin Gardens and Transatlantic Railroad are familiar from local listings but I don't really know anything about them.

October 22, 1968 Marble Farm/Kwane and The Kwan-ditos/Other Half
JGMF found the listing in the Oct 22 SF Chronicle. It lists "Quadidos" but I think Kwane and the Kwan-ditos (a Latin rock band featuring Todd Barkan on piano) more likely. The Other Half were a legendary Los Angeles band who had moved North, and were probably on their last legs. Craig Tarwarter had taken over for Randy Holden on guitar.

October 29, 1968 Circus/Stonehenge/Dancing Food and Entertainment
Circus is unknown to me, but while there were a lot of 60s bands called Stonehenge, this one may have been the band from Fairfield (in far off Contra Costa). Dancing Food and Entertainment featured Naomi Eisenberg (later an original Hot Lick with Dan Hicks) and bassist Tom Glass (from Ian Underwood's Jazz Mice, also known as the poster artist Ned Lamont).

Per a reference from the Chronicle, this may have been a one-off Monday night (Oct 28) event.

November 5, 1968 Orion/Marks of King/Bittersweet

November 12, 1968 Stuart Little/Whytehaven/Nepenthe

November 19, 1968 Orphan Egg/The Beat'ables/Lincoln Zephyr

November 26, 1968 Celestial Hysteria/Frosted Suede/Collectra

December 3, 1968 White Lightning/Father Grumble/TCBs

December 10, 1968 The Crabs/San Francisco Boys Club Band/Heavenly Tones
The Crabs were a Berkeley Band

December 10?, 1968 Johnny Winter
LightIntoAshes found a biography of Johnny Winter that indicated that he played a Fillmore West audition, arranged by Mercury Records. My understanding is that Winter was booked at the Avalon for the first weekend of December, but the Avalon had folded and he played the Matrix instead. I am assuming December 10, because it seems to fit, but it could just as well be December 3 or 17. "White Lightning" (from Dec 3) may have been a Nom Du Rock for Winter (the idea that White Lightning was really Obray Ramsey and Byard Ray playing Fillmore West is surreal).

January 7, 1969 All Men Joy/Clover/Boogie
All Men Joy were a San Francisco band who did not feature Duane and Gregg Allman. Clover returned (see Sep 10 '68), a common feature of the Tuesday night shows. Boogie was a band that rehearsed at the Sausalito Heliport, a trio that featured guitarist Barry Bastian, bassist John Barrett and drummer  John Oxendine.

January 14, 1969 Ace Of Cups/Indian Head Band/Littlejohn Blues Band
The Ace Of Cups were San Francisco's all women psychedelic band. They were handled by Quicksilver manager Ron Polte, who probably held them back somewhat.

Indian Head Band was fronted by guitarist Hal Wagenet, soon to join It's A Beautiful Day. They featured an operatic female singer, and the group played mostly improvised music in a sort of Indian music style. Littlejohn Blues Band is unknown to me.

January 21, 1969 Crystal Syphon/Sanpaku/Crazy Horse
A hand-drawn flyer for this event occasionally circulates on eBay, and as a result I misunderstood the date (for October 1968). However, Sanpaku road manager Hewitt Jackson has uncovered a better flyer, probably made by someone associated with the Merced band Crystal Syphon, which has the accurate date. The flyer says "$1.00 Jam." This was slightly misleading, in that it wasn't really a jam session, but in 60s parlance "jam" also meant "laid back evening," and it was common to see groups billed on weeknights at clubs as a "jam" (like "Monday Night at The Matrix: Jam with Elvin Bishop), and the implication was that it was a less formal event.

Sanpaku was a Sacramento-based band whose performance history I have documented at length. At this time, Sanpaku was playing regularly at a Sacramento venue called The Sound Factory. Sound Factory proprietor Whitey Davis wanted to manage them, and helped to arrange the Tuesday night booking at Fillmore West. For some reason, Davis was not at the show, however, and after an impressive performance Bill Graham came backstage to meet Sanpaku. When Graham discovered that the band had no manager, he offered his own services on the spot.

Sanpaku also started being booked by the Millard Agency, along with Country Weather, Santana, Cold Blood, Its A Beautiful Day and The Grateful Dead.  Notice that in the first six months of Audition Nights, Graham had signed two groups to his booking agency roster and become manager of one of them, so regardless of whether each night's show showed a net profit, the venture was already paying dividends.

January 28, 1969 Midnight Rovers/Notes From The Underground/Lazarus
Notes From The Underground were a Berkeley band. They had released an album on Vanguard, but they were on their last legs at this point. Lazarus was another Berkeley band. Midnight Rovers (who had replaced Aum on the bill) are unknown to me. It is possible that the Midnight Rovers were the same as the Midnight Movers, who played March 4 '69.

February ?, 1969   Santana/Bronze Hog
The date for this show is speculative, but it comes from a clear 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.

Kelly had gone to the show to see his friends in Bronze Hog, a Cotati band. The crowd was floored by Santana, and promptly left, which wasn't great for Bronze Hog.

February 18, 1969 Day Blindness/South Bay Experimental Flash/Big Foot
Day Blindness were a South Bay trio featuring guitarist Gary Phil. South Bay Experimental Flash was a sort of progressive jazz rock band featuring horn player David Ladd. They had formed in San Jose, but some band members now lived in Richmond.

Big Foot was a Sacramento power trio, featuring guitarist Mike Botham and drummer Reid Neilsen. Neilsen would go on to form the Neilsen Pearson Band and become a successful Nashville song writer.

February 25, 1969 Devils Kitchen/Steve Lock Front/Buffington Rhodes
Buffington Rhodes were from Illinois, but they had spent some time in the Bay Area.

March 4, 1969 Midnight Movers/Elgin Marble/Cleveland Wrecking Company
The Cleveland Wrecking Company were a horn band that played a lot of local dances, but they also played rock clubs. Elgin Marble was a San Jose band. The Midnight Movers are unknown to me.

March 11, 1969 Johnny Talbot and De Thangs/Train/Sable 
Johnny Talbot and De Thangs were a popular Oakland R&B band. They had played the Fillmore as part of soul shows, and they had even opened for the Grateful Dead (March 19, 1967) on a night when they were backing Chuck Berry, who was also on the bill.

I have not yet identified any other performers for the balance of Spring 1969. There would have been no Tuesday Night Audition shows from June 17 through September 2, 1969, since the Fillmore West was largely booking major shows from Tuesday through Sunday nights anyway.

[update] ok, I found a few
April 22, 1969 Soul Messengers/Orion/Stained Glass/jam session
April 22, 1969 Vertrek/(unknown others)
Commenter George Robson recalls that his band, Vertrek, played this Fillmore West audition night. He cannot recall the other bands, but he is sure of the date because Led Zeppelin headlined that weekend. Robson does recall that Graham put the band up in a hotel nearby, and they played a half-hour to 45-minute set. Vertrek was a power trio from Red Bluff, CA, a town in far Northern California, past Chico but not quite all the way to Redding and Lake Shasta.

However, another source puts Vertek at Fillmore West on Tuesday May 11, 1971 with Brotherhood Rush and Nevada.

JGMF, who found the listing in the Chronicle of the same day, notes "4/22/69 Vertrek seems more doubtful, since SFC DB had it as Soul Messengers / Orion / Stained Glass, also light show, jam session and basketball game."

May 7, 1969 Fritz/Jack and Linda/Pink Ivorie/Glass Mountain
Fritz, from Menlo Park, had actually been formed as The Fritz Rabyne 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.

The other bands are unknown to me.

May 20, 1969 Weird Herald/Lincoln Zephyr/Dementia
Commenter JGMF found this, noted on his own excellent blog. Weird Herald were a wonderful and legendary South Bay band, featuring the great guitarist Billy Dean Andrus. Dementia was an East Bay theater troupe, and I believe Lincoln Zephyr was a transplanted New Mexico group. 

June 3, 1969 Transatlantic Railroad/Billy Roberts/Bicycle
Transatlantic Railroad was a Marin band. Billy Roberts was a folkie and songwriter, who wrote the famous song "Hey Joe, "  in 1962, although that was not widely known in 1969. Bicycle, usually spelled "Bycycle" on local rock posters, had previously been called Hoffman's Bicycle. 

June 10, 1969 Southwind/Unknown Metaphor/Tree Wizard/Golden Earring
Southwind featured guitarist John "Moon" Martin. Southwind put out at least one album (I had it--it wasn't bad), and Moon Martin had some success in the late 70s as a songwriter ("Bad Case Of Lovin' You" and "Cadillac Walk," most prominently).

The SF Chronicle (from June 9, 1969) specifically mentions that Golden Earring were from Holland. This confirms that this is the very same Golden Earring who were one of the most popular bands in Holland for decades, but only familiar to Americans for their mid-70s hit "Radar Love."

September 2, 1969 Shum-See-Kah/Gentle Dance/This Ole World
This listing was found in Good Times. This Ole World was an R&B cover band, as far as I know, that included electric violinist John Tenney and former Loading Zone guitarist Pete Shapiro.

September 9, 1969 Artichoke Jones/Canterbury Fair/Siddhartha
Ralph J Gleason makes a reference to the Audition Night programs resuming on Tuesday, September 9 in the August 27 Chronicle, but he doesn't name the bands (update: Bruno found the bands who played. I have discovered that Canterbury Fair were a popular Fresno band).

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 at the top of the post 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 (which was still a rock club in 1969). 

Glad was a Sacramento band, having arisen out of a group called The New Breed, who would evolve into a group called Redwing.

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

An eyewitness reported to me that Commander Cody backed Doug Kershaw when he opened for The Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead on October 24-26, 1969 at Winterland. Since Cody and the Airmen were new in town, they must have come to BGP's notice at this audition. Kershaw was an odd sort of hybrid, a cajun style fiddler who played a rock-country hybrid. Unlike almost any other rock band in the Bay Area (as BGP weren't working in the country circuit), Cody's crew were somewhat familiar with those idioms. 

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 Tongue and Groove returned after a year's absence (see Sep 10 '68 above). 

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, featured former Menlo-Atherton HS students Lindsay Buckingham and Stephanie Nicks. They had played a Tuesday show back on May 7.

Black Ghost may have been a Fresno band. 

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).

October 28, 1969 Tuesday Night Auditions at The Fillmore East
In Fall 1969, Graham began running a Tuesday Night audition series at Fillmore East. The Fillmore East series is considerably more obscure than the Fillmore West series, and that's saying a lot. Nonetheless the fabulous Its All The Streets You Crossed blog (which everyone should read) did manage to uncover some critical information.

In the July 31, 1969 edition of the Village Voice, Fillmore East manager Kip Cohen grumbles that his call for bands to play audition night at the Fillmore East met an underwhelming response. In the September 4, 1969 edition it is reported that thanks to the Voice, numerous bands showed interest and the Fillmore East Tuesday night series would commence on October 28, 1969.

A history of the Fillmore East Audition Night series would be a fascinating snapshot of the East Coast scene, but I have been unable to find any information about which bands played.

November 4, 1969 Lamb/The New/Dementia/Young Luke Attraction
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
Gold was a Berkeley band managed by Ron Cabral, an old friend of Country Joe McDonald's, which is how Joe ended up producing their 1969 single ("Summer Time" on Golden State). The band did record an album, but it was not released until about 40 years later (on Rockadelic).

Celestial Hysteria was a Berkeley based band, and had played the Straight Theater and the North Beach club Deno and Carlo’s (later the Keystone Korner) among other venues.  There apparently had been 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.
Celestial Hysteria's performance at the Fillmore West seems to have been at the end of their tenure.

Shag was a Fresno band. Wisdom Fingers are unknown to me.

November 18, 1969 Black Diamond/Crystal Syphon/Sideminder/Mother Bear
Lead guitarist Roger Salloom and singer Robin Sinclair were originally from Texas. They moved to Chicago, where they recorded the 1968 album Saloom Sinclair and The Mother Bear (on Cadet Concept). Their second album, 1969’s Salloom-Sinclair, was recorded in Nashville and had more of a country rock sound. The group appears to have relocated to the Bay Area in 1969, where they played local clubs.  Ultimately Roger Salloom returned to Texas and Robin Sinclair became the lead singer of Gold in about 1971 (see November 11, 1969).

Salloom Sinclair And Mother Bear had already played the Fillmore West the previous year (Oct 31-Nov 2, 1968, opening for Procol Harum and Santana), and they were regular names around Bay Area clubs. I think by 1969 Graham regularly tried to book at least one band with some kind of local following, to insure that a certain number of people showed up. Since a number of local bands (like Mendelbaum) played "Audition Night" a number of times, it was clear that every performer wasn't auditioning.
Crystal Syphon were back for a second look. Sideminder were apparently from the Monterey area. Black Diamond are a familiar name from various club bills, but I know nothing about them.

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. Andrew Hallidie invented the cable car in the 19th century, and thus was an important figure in San Francisco, if nowhere else. I doubt there was someone named Andrew Hallidie in the group.
[update: an email from Gene Cross, former lead singer for the Andrew Hallidie band, sorts out the tale. Andrew Hallidie was a six-member band from the Maxwell Park area in Oakland (near Mills College). Cross and Kathy Walsh were the singers, the lead guitarist was Steve Tillotson, Chuck Anderson on organ, Ron Reagan on bass and Karen Ripley on drums. They recorded some material at Funky Jack Studios, and ultimately Cross released an album of the material under his name, which is available at CDBaby, 30 Degrees)

December 9, 1969 Brotherhood Rush/Searchin Sound/RB Funk
All of these groups are unknown to me.

December 16, 1969 Insanity Rules/Lila/Immaculate Contraption 
All of these groups are unknown to me. 


December 23, 1969 Crystal Garden/Dry Ice/Styx River Ferry
The show was mentioned in Ralph Gleason's Chronicle column of December 22 (above). Given the speed at which Gleason had to put together his column, it is not surprising their were many typos and hiccups. Its not impossible that Crystal Garden was really just Crystal Syphon. Dry Ice is unknown to me.

Styx River Ferry was a Berkeley bluegrass band, regulars at The Freight and Salvage. Styx River Ferry were an important bluegrass band in San Francisco, as they helped popularize bluegrass in the City, primarily at a place called Paul's Saloon. The group moved to Nashville in 1972, however.

Styx River Ferry included Woody Herman's daughter (Ingrid Fowler) and banjoist Marty Lanham, now a well known Nashville guitar maker.  In fact, Woody Herman and his big band had opened for The Who at Fillmore West in June 1969. I have to assume that Woody and his daughter are the only father-daughter (and probably the only father and child) combination to perform separately on the Fillmore West stage.

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

The updated 1970-71 Fillmore West Audition Night list is here.