Friday, June 25, 2021

The Lion's Share, 60 Red Hill Avenue, San Anselmo, CA: 1971 Overview and Performance Listings

The Lion's Share nightclub, at 60 Red Hill Avenue in San Anselmo, some time in the early 1970s

The Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Performance List April-June 1971

The Lion's Share, a nightclub at 60 Red Hill Avenue in suburban San Anselmo, was the principal live rock nightclub in Marin County in the early 1970s. As all rock fans know, Marin County was where all the San Francisco musicians had moved at the end of the 1960s. By the 70s, the thinly-populated county seemed to have more rock musicians per capita than anywhere. So the Lion's Share was not only the principal rock nightclub, it was also the musicians hangout, and there were a lot of them. In 1971, the live rock music was still mainly about concerts, and it was just starting to expand into nightclubs as a viable option. For 1971, and really just 1971, the Lion's Share was big enough to draw touring rock bands while still providing a local venue for the resident musicians.

Although it has been difficult to find a full list of performers at the Lion's Share, I have recovered enough listings to provide some perspective. This post will review the known bookings at The Lion's Share from April through June 1971, when the club was both a helpful pit stop for touring bands and a regular booking for the many local groups. 

Marin County In The 1970s
Up through the 1960s, Marin County was kind of a hybrid area. On the Southern edge, many residents commuted to San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge, but that wasn't true of the whole county. Much of Marin County was agricultural, and there was still a little fishing, so San Rafael also acted as a kind of farm town, with feed supply and other establishments typical of a major agricultural town. Plenty of farming and resource extraction took place in Northern Marin (and further North), so Marin wasn't at all just the satellite of San Francisco that it ultimately became.

Of course, by the 1980s, the rock musicians who had become famous--Jerry Garcia, Grace Slick, Huey Lewis, Van Morrison--pegged Marin as the destination for successful rock and rollers. It didn't hurt that George Lucas was already there. But it hadn't always been that way. Originally, rock musicians went to Marin County because housing was cheap and the bridges made nightclub gigs easy. There were plenty of old farmhouses and empty ranches for free-thinking rockers. There was also plenty of cheap housing, and easy trips to San Francisco and East Bay. Plenty of musicians, most of them not remotely famous, found that Marin was cheap and a good location. By the early 70s, there was a surfeit of rock musicians in the County.

A 1939 Northwestern Pacific Railroad map shows how San Anselmo residents could commute by train into San Francisco

San Anselmo

San Anselmo was just 2 miles and 10 minutes West of Highway 101 in downtown San Rafael (and Front Street, for Deadheads). In 1970, the population was 13,031. San Anselmo wasn't even an incorporated town until 1974. The Lion's Share was at 60 Red Hill Avenue--also known as "The Miracle Mile"--the main drag in the little community

The land in and around San Anselmo was mostly pastoral until 1874, when the North Pacific Coast Railroad (NPC) added to its line a spur track from San Anselmo to San Rafael. In 1875, the railroad completed a line from Sausalito to Tomales and north to Cazadero via San Anselmo. For a few years, the town was referred to on railroad maps as "Junction," but in 1883 the name San Anselmo came back into use. The San Anselmo post office opened in 1892.

From 1902 until the early 1940s, San Anselmo was part of Marin's Northwestern Pacific Electric Train system (in 1907, investors formed the NWP). The Miracle Mile's and Center Boulevard's current "raised roadbed" were the railroad's right of way. Becoming unprofitable as a result of competition from the automobile, and the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge, the railway was officially closed on March 1, 1941.  San Anselmo had always been a sort of bedroom community for San Francisco, but after the 1940s people had to drive to the city across the Golden Gate Bridge, rather than take the electric train to the Ferry.

The Lion's Share
Initially, the Lion's Share had been a folk club in Sausalito. There apparently had been a complaint about the noise, but owner Mike Considine and his supporters persuaded the Sausalito Town Council that the club was not too noisy. Mysteriously, the club burned down the next night. Considine moved the Lion's Share to a former hardware store at 60 Red Hill Avenue on the "Miracle Mile" in sleepy San Anselmo. Artist manager Diana Sward (now Rapaport) wrote

"Nobody minded the bare tables and floors, the wrought iron chairs, a bar that was not fifteen feet from the stage, which the owner refused to stop operating when the bands played, so that  the ringing of the cash register became an integral part of the music.. It was a cold room to play in, except that it was one of the few clubs North of San Francisco in Marin County that hired the hip acts and paid them and that had a sound system and piano."

The Lion's Share in San Anselmo opened in July, 1969. It was generally open from Tuesday through Sunday. In general, there were auditions and local performers on Tuesday and Wednesday, although although at times they would book touring acts who had an open date. Of course, it being Marin County and all, sometimes "the locals" had a rock and roll pedigree as well. The club served beer, wine and bar food. Nominally, per California law, it was a restaurant with entertainment, rather than a bar. Realistically, what that meant was that a 22-year old guy could bring a 19-year old date, no small thing given the age of rock fans at the time. 

At this distant remove, it has been fairly difficult to construct a list of performers for the Lion's Share. 1971 was probably the peak year for the club, when despite its limited capacity of 250-300, it was still viable to book touring acts. Also, of course, the local musicians were always available for gigs. In the next few years, clubs like Keystone Berkeley, the Boarding House, the Great American Music Hall and the Orphanage offered more exposure and more money, so the Lion's Share had fewer touring acts and less prominent call on the locals. 

To give a flavor of the Lion's Share in 1971, I have just reviewed the known acts from April to June 1971, to the extent that I can identify them. In the appendix, I have listed every show that I could find for the whole year. While I suspect I am not missing bookings by any touring acts--they are the most likely to have been listed in the local papers--it is an irony of the Lion's Share that we are just as interested in the local bands that played there. Many of them may have been booked on little or no notice, but we would be very interested in them now. Booker Sally Henderson, a transplant from the Cambridge, MA scene, was well-connected across the country. According to an SF Chronicle article (May 23, 1971), Considine said that touring acts were offered a guarantee, while local bands got a percentage of the door. This was needed because otherwise local bands would let in too many of their friends for free, which in Marin was a genuine consideration.

The Lion's Share, 60 Red Hill Avenue, San Anselmo, CA: Known Performers April-June 1971

The week of April 5, 1971, had started auspiciously for the Lion's Share. Marin County was not yet the fully hip enclave it was to become. Some residents were not happy with a hippie rock club in downtown San Anselmo, and had challenged the use permit of the club. When the Lion's Share had moved to San Anselmo from Sausalito, back in 1969, their use permit was conditional on providing 21 night-time parking spaces. San Anselmo was not a town yet (that wouldn't happen until 1974) but there was a hearing at the San Anselmo Planning Commission on Monday, April 5. On April 6, however, the Marin Independent-Journal reported that the Commission ruled that there was plenty of parking, and the Use Permit remained in force.

At the Lion's Share, Tuesdays and Wednesdays were "Audition Night," for local bands. Unless there was a touring act on one of those nights, the acts do not seem to have been listed in the papers. Of course, in 1971 Marin County, members of "local bands" very well might have gone on to great success, but for now we can only hope for better sources to arise. I could not find a listing for the weekend of April 1-3, and that too will have to wait for improved sources (for the balance of this post, I will skip over days where I have no listings).

April 9-10, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Loading Zone/Sorry Muthas (Friday-Saturday)
The first band we have a date for in this period was The Loading Zone, playing Friday and Saturday night. The Loading Zone had been an original psychedelic band, going back to the Ballroom days of 1966. The Zone were based in Oakland, and they were the first Fillmore band to blend soul music with psychedelic guitar solos. They were a popular opening act, and as such they opened a door that bands like Sly And The Family Stone and Tower Of Power walked through. In our detailed history of the Loading Zone, they had an intriguing shot at the big time around 1968, and it didn't work out. The band had kept going however, in various incarnations.

In mid-1970, the original Loading Zone fell apart when founder/organist Paul Fauerso left the band. Lead singer Linda Tillery, however, the best known member of the band, reformed the group as a quartet. Tillery's singing was backed by a trio of organist Tom Coster, his brother Al on drums and bassist Mike Eggleston. Contemporary reviews suggest that the 1970 Zone had some soulful singing from Tillery, mixed with jazz interludes from the Costers. They were a popular band in Bay Area clubs at the time.

The Sorry Muthas were apparently a local jug band

April 16, 1971 Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Mike Finnegan and Friends/One (Sunday)
Organist and singer Mike Finnegan was from Wichita, KS. Unlike most musicians, the 6'6" Finnegan had gotten a basketball scholarship to the University of Kansas. He had moved to the Bay Area around 1969, and he had been a member of The Jerry Hahn Brotherhood, who had put out a highly regarded 1970 album on Columbia. Unfortunately, the album went nowhere, and Finnegan had left the band. At this time, Finnegan had another band with singer Jerry Wood, and he worked with the re-activated Big Brother and The Holding Company as well.

Finnegan had long been a regular at The Lion's Share. In late 1970, he had run the Sunday night jam sessions every other week or so, with an informal band called The Nu Bugaloo Express, which included guitarist Danny Nudalman, bassist Dave Schallock and drummer Bill Vitt (on the alternate Sundays, Bill Champlin had run the jam session with the players that would become Yogi Phlegm and then the reformed Sons Of Champlin). It's possible that there were still regular Sunday night jams during this period, but this night was the only listing I found.

For club gigs, Finnegan pretty much played blues. He was a powerful vocalist as well as a great organ player, so he could play with any combination of musicians. It being Marin, some of his "friends" might have been had notable musical pedigrees and would definitely have been good players.

The pretentiously named One was apparently a Bolinas resident, and a friend of Paul Kantner's. Since he was a friend of Kantner's, he got to release an album on Grunt Records, the Airplane's RCA imprint.  The music is credited to Reality D. Blipcrotch. Supposedly, the album is a peak example of rock stars indulgently releasing albums by their pals. I have not heard the record. I know of only a few other performances by One (or Reality, if you were on a first-name basis), such as at a Grunt Records party several months later. 

April 20, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Sopwith Camel/others (Tuesday)
Tuesday night was an audition night, but the April 20 booking was interesting enough to be noted in the paper. The Sopwith Camel was an original San Francisco psychedelic band, with roots going back to the Red Dog Saloon in Virginia City, NV and 1090 Page Street. The Sopwith Camel had been one of the first Fillmore bands to sign a recording contract, and they had perhaps the first hit single of the scene, as well, with "Hello Hello" in February 1967. That record was in the Lovin' Spoonful jugband style, which has hot at the time (and the Camel were produced by Spoonful producer Erik Jacobsen). The Camel had to face the grumblings of locals who felt that they had "sold-out." The band had ground to a halt in late 1967.

However, Sopwith Camel had reformed in 1971. This Lion's Share one of the earliest shows for the new incarnation (they had debuted on March 5 at the Matrix). The re-formed group had 4 of the 5 original members. The original songwriting partnership of guitarists Peter Kraemer and Terry MacNeil was intact, along with bassist Martin Beard and drummer Norman Mayell. In the meantime, Beard and Mayell had played on the hit single "Spirit In The Sky" with Petaluma's Norman Greenbaum. 

April 23-25, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Van Morrison (Friday-Sunday)
One of the ways that San Francisco's rock scene stood out from that of other major music cities was the willingness of big rock stars to play small clubs. Guitarist Mike Bloomfield had set the trend around 1969, foregoing his star status for casual club gigs. But Bloomfield, though a true star, was no longer in a major band. Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady of the Jefferson Airplane had also started playing tiny clubs in Fall '69, and Jerry Garcia had become a regular at The Matrix by Spring 1970. In early 1971, Van Morrison moved from Woodstock, NY to Fairfax in Marin County, and he too adopted the local practice.

By the end of 1970, Van Morrison had released his third album on Warner Brothers, His Band And Street Choir. The album had two substantial AM hits, "Domino" (reaching #9 on Billboard) and "Blue Money" (which reached #23). More importantly, however Morrison's three Warners albums--Astral Weeks, Moondance and Street Choir--all received wide, constant airplay on FM radio. So Morrison was a genuine rock star, and many of his songs were familiar to even casual rock fans. In the Spring of 1971, Morrison had been recording his next album (Tupelo Honey) in San Francisco.

Since Morrison lived just up the road in Fairfax, the Lion's Share was the nearest nightclub to his own house. Van Morrison playing the tiny Lion's Share was big news in the rock world, and the show was reviewed by San Francisco Examiner critic Phil Elwood the next Tuesday (April 27). The weekend booking at the club was probably the first time Van Morrison had played a Bay Area nightclub, and certainly the first time it had actually been publicly acknowledged. Van Morrison would go on to play Bay Area clubs for the next dozen years, and each time it was seen as an "only in San Francisco" special. More or less, that was true. While Van didn't play Bay Area clubs as often as Jerry Garcia did--no other rock star ever would--Van was a worldwide star in the 1970s, in a way that Garcia was not. 

Elwood's review describes Morrison fronting a nine-piece band with horns and backup singers. Elwood singles out guitarist Ronnie Montrose for praise. Montrose had been playing lead guitar on the Tupelo Honey sessions, and while his guitar parts on songs like the title track and "Wild Night" are embedded in our memories now, they would have been absolutely striking the very first time. Ironically, Montrose would go on to fame as a hard rocking guitarist with the Edgar Winter Group (he was on "Frankenstein") and then the group named after him, with Sammy Hagar on lead vocals. Morrison would go on to play three more dates (April 30-May 2) the next weekend at the Keystone Korner in San Francisco, but he would return to the Lion's Share a number of times in ensuing years.

April 30, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Barry Melton and The Fish
According to Joe McDonald and Barry Melton, "Country Joe and The Fish" was a duo featuring the two of them, with or without additional band members. That's not how the music world saw it, however. Country Joe and The Fish had called it a today in early Summer 1970, and both leaders had gone solo. Still, when Barry Melton played live with a band, it was usually called Barry Melton and The Fish, to give listeners a hint that it was electric Melton backed by a group.

Melton, who had moved from Berkeley to Marin by this time, had released a solo album on Vanguard in 1970 called Bright Sun Is Shining. It had been recorded in Chicago and New York with veteran session pros like Phil Upchurch, rather than with Fillmore West guys. The album had mostly been covers of blues and old R&B songs. This was actually quite consistent with Melton's musical history, but it may not have been entirely expected by 60s fans who were used to songs about politics and drugs. I don't know who was in Melton's band at this time.

May 6-8, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Jim Kweskin Jug Band (Thursday-Saturday)
The Jim Kweskin Jug Band had formed in 1963 in Cambridge, MA, and they had been unusually influential. Besides playing fairly authentic "jug" music, then a fairly unknown style, the Kweskin band had a significant influence on young musicians. The band's late 1963 debut on Vanguard single-handedly made jug band music nationally popular. More importantly, in the early 60s, musicians in all styles were supposed to be "entertainers," wearing matching stage clothes while they performed their "show," and had scripted "patter" between numbers. Certainly The Beatles, truly revolutionary musicians, had the matching clothes and acted like entertainers on stage.

The Jim Kweskin Jug Band appeared on stage in their regular clothes, played whatever songs they felt like at that moment, and casually chatted with themselves and the crowd between songs. This was what folk music was like in the living room, and the crowd was just invited in with them. Jerry Garcia and his friends had seen the Jim Kweskin Jug Band in Berkeley (on March 11, 1964) and instantly decided that was how it was going to be: play what you want, when you feel like it, and wear whatever. David Grisman and other young musicians had the same reaction.

The Jim Kweskin Jug Band had a fairly successful run in the mid-60s, although ultimately rock music and its fans passed them by. Lots of good musicians had been in the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, and many of them would end up in Marin, including Geoff and Maria Muldaur and Richard Greene. More unsettlingly, however, by around 1968 one member of the band, harmonica player Mel Lyman, had taken on an outsized role in the bandmembers lives. The whole story of the Lyman Family, as they are known, is quite unnerving, and you can google it yourself if you have an interest.

In 1971, Reprise Records had released a Jim Kweskin solo album with the ungainly name of Richard D Herbruck Presents Jim Kweskin's America Co-Starring Mel Lyman And The Family. I presume that a tour had been arranged in support of the album. The "Jim Kweskin Jug Band" name was probably used bcause it was familiar. The whole Mel Lyman saga is not for the faint, so there has been little reflection on Kweskin's musical activities at this time.

May 13-15, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Sopwith Camel/Loading Zone (Thursday-Saturday)
Sopwith Camel returned for a weekend headline booking, joined by The Loading Zone. Two years after this, the Sopwith Camel would release their second album, just six years after their debut, The Miraculous Hump Returns From The Moon. Erik Jacobsen also produced the 1973 Reprise Records release. 

May 18, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Shanti
Tuesday was another audition night, and yet another fascinating Marin band was booked. Shanti was a conscious attempt to fuse rock music with Indian music. Zakir Hussain, the son of tabla master Ustad Allah Rakha, and himself a brilliant tabla player, was a Marin resident. Along with Sarod player Aashish Khan  and tabla player Pranesh Khan, they combined with some conventional rock musicians to form an "electric" Indian/Rock fusion ensemble. Guitarist Neal Seidel was joined by singer/guitarist Steve Haehl, bassist Steve Leach and drummer Francisco Lupica. In the 60s, Lupica had played with Lee Michaels and had been in bands like The Travel Agency and the Loading Zone (where he used the name Frank Davis).

Shanti put out an album on Atlantic in 1971, recorded at Pacific High Recorders in San Francisco. PHR was probably actually Alembic Studios by this time, but they seemed to prefer to use the outdated name in some instances.  I don't know when the Shanti album was released, but I believe it was actually in the Summer of 1971 (there was an event that seemed to be related to the album release at Mickey Hart's ranch in August). I have not heard the album, but descriptions of it suggest an intriguing experiment that didn't entirely succeed, a mixture of psychedelic rock songs with Indian embellishment, along with genuine efforts to merge electric rock and Indian music in an amplified setting.

Shanti played around the Bay Area until they broke up in 1972. Some of the Shanti members went on to have interesting careers, and many of them were Grateful Dead-adjacent. Zakir Hussain was perhaps the key figure in the Ali Akbar Khan School Of Music, which had moved to Marin in 1971. An offshoot of the school was the Diga Rhythm Band, a percussion group that included Mickey Hart, who produced their album for Round Records in 1975. Diga Rhythm Band played a few public shows, and Jerry Garcia came and played at one in Golden Gate Park (on May 30, 1975). Francisco Lupica was the inventor of The Beam, and Mickey Hart and Dan Healy adopted the concept as part of the Grateful Dead's concert setup. Guitarist Neil Seidel seems to have had a substantial music career, although I think it was mostly in soundtrack work. Bassist Steve Leach became somewhat known as a producer, as Steven Wold, and in the 21st century, as a performer, as Seasick Steve.

Ian and Sylvia Tyson's band Great Speckled Bird, with Amos Garrett and Buddy Cage (r)

May 27-30, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Ian And Sylvia/Rowan Brothers
This weekend's booking at the Lion's Share was another seemingly casual event that seems quite remarkable today. Headliners Ian and Sylvia Tyson had been a popular Canadian folk duo going back to 1959. When folk music faded away in the mid-60s, the duo easily made the switch to country-rock, both because of their talent and their excellent songwriting skills. Ian And Sylvia's early 1968 album Nashville, on Vanguard, was one of the first collaborations between rock songwriters using Nashville session men, preceding The Byrds' Sweetheart Of The Rodeo. In late 1969, Ian And Sylvia had evolved into the band Great Speckled Bird, releasing an album of that same name on Ampex Records in October.

Ian And Sylvia and Great Speckled Bird, always popular in Canada, had joined the legendary Festival Express train tour across Canada. On that epic journey, Jerry Garcia and the New Riders Of The Purple Sage discovered Great Speckled Bird pedal steel guitarist Buddy Cage. By early 1971, Garcia was looking to extract himself from the Riders so that they could have their own career. After Garcia recorded the band's debut with them throughout 1971, he stepped aside so that Cage could took his place. By this time, Cage had left Ian And Sylvia, and was mainly playing sessions in Canada. Cage would move to Marin in September 1971, and his live debut with the New Riders was in Atlanta on November 11, 1971.

Opening act The Rowan Brothers had recently been signed to Columbia Records. Chris and Lorin Rowan were the younger brothers of Peter Rowan, all from Massachusetts. Peter had played in Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys from 1964-67, and then had formed the usual post-folkie psychedelic rock band with mandolinist David Grisman. Earth Opera had fallen apart after two albums on Elektra, and Peter Rowan had ended up joining the band Sea Train. Meanwhile, Grisman had ended up as producer of Peter's two younger brothers. 

David Grisman had been friends with Jerry Garcia since they had met at a bluegrass festival in Union Grove, PA in 1964. Grisman had moved to the Bay Area for a while, and had a bluegrass group in 1966-67 called The Smoky Grass Boys. By 1970, after the demise of Earth Opera, he had reconnected with Garcia. Grisman had played on the 1970 Grateful Dead album American Beauty (playing mandolin on "Ripple"), and he had joined the Dead for an acoustic set at Fillmore East (September 20, 1970). At Fillmore East, Garcia had encouraged Grisman and his manager Richard Loren to bring the younger Rowans out West, and by 1971 they had moved to Stinson Beach. The Rowan Brothers, along with Grisman, had started playing some low-key gigs as a trio.

Phil Elwood of the Examiner reviewed one of these Lion's Share shows (almost certainly May 27, reviewed on May 31), and mentioned that the Rowan Brothers were backed by Grisman and "a couple of members of the Grateful Dead." In fact, the Rowan Brothers stage band this night would have been the two of them on guitars and vocals, with Grisman on mandolin and keyboards, co-producer Bill Wolf on bass, Bill Kreutzmann on drums and Garcia on pedal steel guitar. The Wednesday show was the debut of this configuration of the Rowan Brothers. They would play several more gigs around the Bay Area, culminating in a high profile show at Fillmore West, broadcast on the radio. Although the duo had been signed to Columbia, they had not yet recorded an album.

This wasn't Garcia's first appearance at the Lion's Share. The Grateful Dead had quietly tried out their acoustic configuration by playing three nights at the Lion's Share (July 30-August 1, 1970). The band was preparing to record American Beauty, and seems to have wanted to get a little live work in. Similarly, the New Riders Of The Purple Sage had played a surprise Monday night gig on January 11 (1971). The timing suggests that the Riders wanted to break in new drummer Spencer Dryden prior to recording their debut. The pattern seems similar here: the Rowan Brothers were thinking about recording, so producer David Grisman brought along some friends for a live rundown.

The Lion's Share was a modest place, but here was an opening act that featured two members of one of the biggest rock bands in San Francisco. It was just another weekend. Garcia's activities are accounted for on the next few nights, so he did not play at the Lion's Share on the 28th and 29th, and since he was sick enough to cancel a Grateful Dead show (the 28th), it's highly unlikely that he played there on the 30th. Presumably the Rowan Brothers reverted to their trio format for the rest of the weekend.

June 3-5, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: John Stewart (Thursday-Saturday)
John Stewart (1939-2008) had been a member of The Kingston Trio from 1961 to 1967. The group had been very popular, but they were passed by when the likes of The Beach Boys and The Beatles came along. Stewart had gone solo, and released a variety of well-received albums, such as 1969's California Bloodlines. Although he had written a hit for The Monkees ("Daydream Believer"), he was well known at this time. but not particularly successful. His most recent album would have been Willard, released on Capitol in 1970. At some point in the 1970s, Stewart would actually move to Marin, although I'm not sure exactly when. He ended up having a productive, successful career as a songwriter and performer into the 21st century.

June 9-12, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Bola Sete (Wednesday-Saturday)
Bola Sete (1923-1987, born Djalma de Andrade) was a Brazilian jazz guitarist who had been prominent in the 60s. Bola Sete (which means "Seven Ball"), after a substantial career in South America in the 1950s, had ended up playing at the Sheraton Hotel in San Francisco, where he captivated Dizzy Gillespie (it turned out that Gillespie's piano player, Argentinian Lalo Schifrin, had played with Bola Seta in Rio). Brazilian jazz was hot at the time, and Bola Sete had recorded and toured with both Gillespie and Vince Guaraldi. Guaraldi and Bola Sete had made some very popular albums for Fantasy Records in the mid-60s. After about 1968, however, Bola Sete had reduced his presence and largely stopped recording and performing, although he hadn't actually retired. Bola Sete did continue to play periodic Bay Area shows.

The Lion's Share wasn't a jazz club, but there weren't any jazz clubs in Marin County, either. Bola Sete lived in the Bay Area--possibly in Marin, I'm not sure--so if he was going to play a Marin gig, the Lion's Share was the obvious choice. Bola Sete did have a 1971 album on Fantasy, called SheBaba. It's an anomaly, and may have been released for contractual reasons. Probably Bola Sete just accompanied himself, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Lion's Share booking was a warm-up for some higher profile shows later.

June 17, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Mike Finnegan and Friends/Howard Wales (Thursday)  
Organist Howard Wales had gained some level of notoriety from playing weeknights at The Matrix in San Francisco with Jerry Garcia. He had recorded an album with Garcia in the Fall of 1970, but Hooteroll? would not be released until later in 1971. Wales, a phenomenal player who was way, way "outside," would have pretty much just jammed. It's not impossible that the same players worked with both Wales and Finnegan that night (side note: the Grateful Dead were on their way to France, so Garcia would not have dropped by). In early '72, Wales put together a quartet with Jim Vincent on guitar (ex HP Lovecraft), Roger "Jellyroll" Troy on bass (an old pal of Wales' from Cincinnati) and Jerry Love on drums, so this booking might have been with that combo.

June 18-20, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Denny Zeitlin Trio (Friday-Sunday)
Marin resident Denny Zeitlin is a pretty remarkable musician, and the type of player who set Marin County apart from other places. Zeitlin had been a piano prodigy since his youth. In 1963, although he was in medical school at Johns Hopkins, he had been signed to Columbia Records as a jazz pianist. He made four well reviewed, forward-looking jazz albums on Columbia through 1967. In 1968, young Dr. Zeitlin accepted an internship as a psychiatrist at the University Of California at San Francisco, and his musical career was put in abeyance.

By 1971, Zeitlin was performing around the Bay Area--in between his full-time medical work. Earlier in the 60s, Zeitlin had been a sophisticated player in the mode of Bill Evans. Now, he had added electric keyboards to the mix, playing a Fender Rhodes and a clavinet along with his grand piano. Drummer George Marsh and electric bassist Mel Graves had been in the Jerry Hahn Brotherhood--broken up due to Mike Finnegan's departure--so they had a bit of a rock sensibility to go with some serious jazz chops. 

The Bay Area had always had a thriving jazz scene, even though successful players (like Dave Brubeck, Cal Tjader or John Handy) had to go to Los Angeles or New York to hit it big. It's no surprise to find out that plenty of interesting electric jazz experiments were underway in the Bay Area in the late 60s and early 70s. Most of them were under the radar, however, and there was very little recorded evidence. Some groups like The Fourth Way, the Loading Zone, South Bay Experimental Flash and a few others were trying on new hats for jazz, and the Denny Zeitlin Trio was as well. The Trio from that era got sensational reviews, but they never recorded to my knowledge.

Kris Kristofferson's 1971 Monument Records album, The Silver-Tongued Devil and I

June 24-27 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Kris Kristofferson
In the 1960s, Kris Kristofferson was only known as a Nashville songwriter, albeit a quite successful one. He had written hits like "Sunday Morning Coming Down," "Help Me Make It Through The Night" and "Me And Bobby McGee" for various artists. Kristofferson had only released his first album in 1970, Kristofferson, on Monument Records. It featured his own versions of many of his hits for others. He had toured around clubs a little bit, but he wasn't yet a polished performer. In July 1971, he would release his second Monument album, The Silver-Tongued Devil and I. It would include his first big hit for himself, "Lovin' Her Was Easier (Than Anything I'll Ever Do)." The way records were released in those days, the new album was probably already getting radio airplay, and might have been available in some stores.

The previous year, Kristofferson had toured with a backing trio, with Zal Yanovsky (ex-Lovin Spooful) on guitar, Norman Blake on dobro and guitar, and Billy Swan on bass. Presumably he had a similar backup combo, but I don't know if he had the same musicians in 1971.

How Hard It Is, the 1971 Big Brother And The Holding Company album, with Mike Finnegan

Appendix: Lion's Share, 60 Red Hill Avenue, San Anselmo, CA: Known Performers--1971

January 1-2, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Elvin Bishop/Home Sweet Home (Fri-Sat)

January 7-9, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Barry McGuire and The Doctor (Thur-Sat)

January 10, 1971 Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Big Mama Thornton/Chico David Blues Band (Sun) 

January 11, 1971 Lion's Share, San Anelmo, CA: New Riders Of The Purple Sage/Chico David Blues Band/Nazgul/Mendelbaum (Monday)

January 14, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Boz Scaggs (Thur)

January 15-16, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Joy Of Cooking/Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen  (Fri-Sat) 

January 17, 1971 Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen/Loading Zone (Sun)

January 21, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Charlie Musselwhite (Thur)

January 22-23, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: The Sons/Sunset (Fri-Sat)

January 28-30, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Jerry Hahn Brotherhood/Mike Finnegan Trio (Thur-Sat)

February 4-7, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Tim Buckley Quintet with Buzz and Bunk Gardner (Thur-Sun)

February 18-21, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Doc and Merle Watson (Thur-Sun)

February 24, 1971 Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Syzgy (Wed)

February 25, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Mike Finnegan's New Group and Lane Tietgen (Thur)

February 27-28, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Mike Finnegan with Jerry Wood/Lane Tietgen (Sat-Sun) 

March 4-5, 1971 Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Kate Taylor/John Stewart (Thur-Fri)

March 6-7, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Eric Andersen/Kate Taylor Quintet (Sat-Sun)

March 11-12, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Big Brother and The Holding Company (Fri-Sat)

March 19-20, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: John Lee Hooker/Cooking Mama (Fri-Sat)

March 26-27, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Denny Zeitlin/Ofoedian Den (Fri-Sat)

April 9-10, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Loading Zone/Sorry Muthas (Fri-Sat) Sorry Muthas Jug Band

April 16, 1971 Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Mike Finnegan and Friends/One (Sunday)

April 20, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Sopwith Camel/others (Tues)

April 23-25, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Van Morrison w/Montrose (Fri-Sun)

April 30, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Barry Melton and The Fish (Fri)

May 6-8, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Jim Kweskin Jug Band (Thur-Sat)

May 13-15, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Sopwith Camel/Loading Zone (Thur-Sat)

May 18, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Shanti (Tues)

May 27-30, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Ian and Sylvia/Rowan Bros w DG (reviewed May 31 Examiner)

June 3-5, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: John Stewart (Thur-Sat)

June 9-12, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Bola Sete (Wed-Sat)

June 17, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Mike Finnegan and Friends/Howard Wales (Thur)

June 18-20, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Denny Zeitlin Trio (Thur-Sat)

June 24-27 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Kris Kristofferson (Thur-Sun)

July 1-4, 1971 Mike Finnegan and Friends (Thur-Sun)

July 7-11, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Country Joe and Pitschel Players (Wed-Sun)

July 15-18, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Eric Andersen/Joyous Noise (Thur-Sun)

July 30-August 1, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Mose Allison Trio/Ron Douglas (comedy) (Fri-Sun)

August 4, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Van Morrison (Wed)

August 12-14, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Taj Mahal/Mississippi Sam Chatman (Thur-Sat)

August 21, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Yogi Phlegm/Uncle Vinty (Sat)

September 2-4, 1971 Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: New Riders Of The Purple Sage (Thur-Sat

September 8-12, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Ian Matthews/Shawn Phillips (Wed-Sun)

September 16, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Flying Circus/Peter Spelman (Thur)

September 17, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: James and The Good Brothers/Uncle Vinty/Cris Williamson (Fri)

September 23, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Gideon & Power (Thur)

September 24-25, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Jerry Garcia, Tom Fogerty, Merl Saunders/Charlie Daniels, Jerry Corbitt, Billy Cox (Fri-Sat)

September 29-30, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Hookfoot/Barley at The Hop (Wed-Thur)

October 5, 1971 Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Earthrise (Tues)

October 7-10, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Mike Finnegan and Jerry Wood Band (Thur-Sun)

October 16-17, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Grootna (Sat-Sun)

October 19-21, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Dave Van Ronk/High Country (Thur-Sat)

October 24, 1971 Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen/Clover

October 28-30, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Doug Kershaw/Shanti (Thur-Sat)

October 31, 1971 Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Doug Kershaw/Charles River Valley Boys (Sun)

November 4-6, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Clover/Joyous Noise (Thur)

November 11-12, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: John Hammond Jr/Your Own Backyard(Thur-Fri)

November 13-14, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: John Hammond Jr/Real Charles Ford Band (Sat-Sun)

November 18-21, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Ramblin' Jack Elliott and Friends (Thur-SuN)

November 26-28, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Van Morrison and Friends (Fri-Sun)

December 1, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Mike Finnegan and Jerry Wood, plus Jellyroll (Wed)

December 5, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Mke Finnegan and Jerry Wood, plus Jellyroll (Sun)

December 16-18, 1971, Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Merry Clayton and Band/Sunset (Thur-Sat)

December 23, 1971 Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Special Christmas Show (Thur)

Dec 30-31 Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA: Joy Of Cooking (Thur-Fri)

Appendix 2: Other Posts in the 1970s Rock Nightclubs Series

Keystone Berkeley, 2119 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA: 1972 Performers List

3138 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA: The Matrix January-June 1970 Performers List (Matrix I)

Bay Area Rock Nightclub Survey: Berkeley, January-April 1974 (Bay Area '74 I)

The Troubadour, 9081 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA: January-April 1970 Performers List (Troubadour I)

3138 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA: The Matrix July-September 1970 (Matrix II)

The Troubadour, West Hollywood and San Francisco: May-August 1970 Performers List (Troubadour II)

Loading Zone Performance List 1970 
For subsequent posts in the 70s Rock Nightclubs series, see here.


Friday, June 11, 2021

The Troubadour, West Hollywood and San Francisco, CA: Performance List September-December 1970 (Troubadour III)

The Troubadour, 9081 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA

The Troubadour, The Whisky A-Go-Go and West Hollywood
In the latter 60s, rock bands made their bones in the ballrooms, with the light shows and people swaying. Word would pass on the underground telegraph that Cream or Quicksilver Messenger Service  or Ten Years After were great, and you would check them out the next time they came to town. There were a few rock nightclubs, but most fans weren't even 21 yet, and clubs in any case were too small to create much residual buzz, not compared to a college gym.

In the 1960s, however, there was one major exception to this rule. The infamous Whisky-A-Go-Go club in West Hollywood (at 8901 Sunset Blvd) defied all these conventions. Name bands played for union scale just to get heard. The Hollywood hip people, whether in the record industry or just cool cats, heard the bands and helped to decide who got some buzz. In August 1966, the house band at the Whisky were some unknowns called The Doors, and they became as big as anybody. In January, 1969, a new group built on the ashes of the old Yardbirds played the Whisky, and within a week the word was out about Led Zeppelin.

Hollywood proper had been part of the city of Los Angeles since the 1930s. But West Hollywood was unincorporated, part of the county, but not the city. It was insulated from the notorious Los Angeles police and the machinations of the LA City Council. Thus West Hollywood was, paradoxically, the entertainment district for Hollywood, and had been since the 1940s. There were clubs, restaurants and jazz, and plenty of stars came to hang out, and that was how tastes got made. Rock and roll wasn't that different. The Whisky had opened in 1964, and made "Go-Go" a thing. By 1966, the club had a new act every week, all trying to catch the Hollywood buzz. Cream and Jimi Hendrix each played there in 1967, for practically nothing, just so that people would listen. So did numerous other ambitious groups, because rocking the Whisky was a ticket to a big tour.

A mile East of the Whisky, however, was a former coffee shop called The Troubadour. Proprietor Doug Weston had opened the club in 1957, but by 1970 it had a full bar and regular performers. Initially it presented folk acts, and in a sense it still did. Electric instruments were standard fare by the end of the 60s, and the Troubadour wasn't for purists. But the Whisky was for rocking out, and the Troubadour was for reflection.  As the 70s rose on the horizon, reflection was the order of the day, and success at The Troubadour turned out to have more impact than success at the Whisky.

Linda Ronstadt had been a regular performer at the Troubadour since the mid-60s. Her album Silk Purse had been released on Capitol in April 1970

Troubadour Performance List, September-December 1970

The Troubadour was open seven days a week, with performers every night. The restaurant and particularly the bar were open as well, so it was a hangout for music industry types as well as musicians. Supposedly, many 70s bands, such as the Eagles, had their beginnings in the Troubadour bar. Troubadour bookings were almost always from Tuesday through Sunday. The Tuesday night show was almost always reviewed in the Thursday Los Angeles Times, giving industry and fans an idea of what was worth seeing that weekend. A good review in the Times, followed by a packed house on the weekend, could make an artist's career, as it did with Elton John in August, 1970.

Maximum capacity at the Troubadour was about 300. Generally, there were two shows each night, and sometimes three shows on weekend nights. Sets were relatively short, from what I can tell, in order to turn the house over. Headliners would play about 40 minutes, and openers nearer to 20. The Troubadour was a showcase, not a place where performers jammed all night with their pals. I don't know whether the Troubadour had the arrangement where if the late show was not sold out, patrons could stick around if they would buy another drink (or some such arrangement). For a packed James Taylor/Carole King show in November of 1970, the Times reported that all 4000 tickets were sold out, but I don't know if that was for 12 or 14 shows, and whether it was an approximation, but it gives us an idea of capacity.

Monday nights were "Audition Nights." Performers were booked, but they weren't advertised in the papers. Presumably, patrons could call the club, or the bands were listed at the club itself. In some cases, record companies would arrange to have performers play Monday night at the Troubadour so they could invite a few people and check them out. I assume that when a performer did not have a full Tuesday-Sunday run, and no performer was listed (usually a Tuesday or a Sunday), "auditions" were booked on those open nights too. I think one reason to call these booking auditions was also to minimize what they were paying the performer (probably just union scale). I don't think there was an admission charge on audition night. I'm not aware of any way to retrieve who played on Audition nights (and I appear to be the first attempting to capture who played the Troubadour during this period). 

At the beginning of 1970, many of the acts at the Whisky had their eyes on Las Vegas, Television Variety shows and the big hotels. Hippie acts that might have been welcome at the Fillmore, or even a college campus, weren't that common. By the end of the year, the hair had gotten longer and the stakes had gotten higher. Rock music and the record industry was turning out to be big money, and finding the next big recording artist was more important than knowing who was looking good for the Ambassador Hotel downtown or the Sands in Vegas. 

In a previous post, I reviewed the performers at the Troubadour from January through April 1970. In a short time, the Troubadour went from mostly featuring performers looking to get on TV or into Las Vegas to long haired singer songwriters that are famous today. It was becoming clear that there was big money in the booming record industry, and the Troubadour was right at the center. The next post reviewed the performers at the Troubadour from May through August 1970. It also covered the opening of the ill-fated Troubadour in San Francisco

Gordon Lightfoot had been successful in Canada for many years before his 1970 Reprise release Sit Down Young Stranger. He played the Troubadour in October, and "If You Could Read My Mind" was a big hit by December.

This post will review all the performers at the Troubadour from September through December 1970. This will also include the performers at the San Francisco Troubadour, indicated here (for convenience) as "Troubadour (North)." In a distinct contrast, the West Hollywood Troubadour booked some of the most important and best-selling acts of the 1970s, while the San Francisco Troubadour folded without fanfare by Halloween.

September 1-6, 1970 The Troubadour (North), San Francisco, CA: Elton John/David Ackles (Tuesday-Sunday)
The display ad above (from the August 28, 1970 Examiner) is one of the very few traces of Elton John's appearance at the San Francisco Troubadour. Following his pattern, Weston booked Elton John for a week in San Francisco right after his Los Angeles debut. Elton's performance at the Hollywood Troubadour made his career, changed his life and was a milestone in popular music.

It is telling that Elton John's similar performance in San Francisco disappeared almost without a trace. I'll save you the trouble of googling--I'm the only person to write about it. Even the first-rate Eltonography site can only allude to it vaguely. Now, let's be clear--the SF Examiner reviewed the opening night, and the reviewer (Michael Kelton) acknowledges Elton's talent, energy and songs. But he dismisses him for being "inauthentic," although he uses the term "artificial." The San Francisco ethic at the time was Jerry Garcia or Carlos Santana, crouched and squinting over their guitars, not a guy in a sequined suit jumping around. Elton John's appearance at the Hollywood Troubadour is the centerpiece of his bio-movie--his appearance at the same club in San Francisco is barely even noted in the website devoted to his history. 

Music and the music industry was changing, and the center of gravity was heading south down Highway 101, from San Francisco to Los Angeles. By the end of 1970, the West Hollywood Troubadour was one of the most important venues in popular music. The San Francisco Troubadour would only last two more months, and disappear with almost no trace.

David Ackles, an American songwriter, had released his second album on Elektra in 1970, Subway To The Country. Ackles was highly regarded by British artists like Elton John, Elvis Costello and Phil Collins, but he did not become known at all until later, and he was never really popular. Ackles opened for Elton John at the Troubadour in both Hollywood (Aug 25-30) and San Francisco. Apparently Elton watched Ackles' show every night. Bernie Taupin would produce Ackles' 3rd album (American Gothic), released in 1972.

September 2-6, 1970 The Troubadour, West Hollywood, CA: Fairport Convention/David Rea
Fairport Convention, then fairly obscure, had opened at the Troubadour back in April. Five months later, they were returning as headliners. Their previous album, Liege And Leaf (released in the States on A&M in December 1969), had all but single-handedly invented English folk-rock. Songs like "Come All Ye Roving Minstrels" and "Matty Groves" were getting good FM airplay all over the country. Yet for their first American tour, Fairport had been without their most recognizable member, lead singer Sandy Denny. Of course, all that meant was that lead guitarist Richard Thompson was even more prominent. Despite the short opening sets, Fairport clearly caught the ears of the locals, since the band returned as headliners a few months later (in September), and every musician in Los Angeles apparently showed up.

In July, A&M had released Full House, yet another stunning album, despite Sandy Denny's departure. By this time, Richard Thompson and Simon Nicol were playing guitars, Dave Swarbrick had his unique electrified take on traditional fiddle, and there was a solid rhythm section with Dave Pegg (bass) and Dave Mattacks (drums). Thompson and Swarbrick handled the vocals, replacing Denny's soaring voice with gruff charm.

A&M Records had the sense to record the Fairport Convention shows on the weekend (September 4-6). Highlights were included on the album Live At The Troubadour. That album was released in 1977, during a lull in Fairport releases. Further highlights were included on a subsequent 1986 archival release House Full. The music was sensational. According to the liner notes, members of Led Zeppelin showed up for a late night jam, although apparently Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant took possession of the tapes, never to be seen again.

More intriguingly, per the notes, Linda Ronstadt was present, and for an encore, Richard Thompson said from the stage (approximately), "we hear Linda Ronstadt is here, would she like to join us?" (since Linda was in the front row, it was hardly a secret). Linda was pushed on stage by her friends, and sheepishly told the band "I don't know any of your material." Gallantly, Richard and the band said "that's alright--we know all of yours," Linda belted out the a capella intro to "Silver Threads and Golden Needles" and the Fairports crashed in right on queue.

Take a moment to consider that Linda was then a struggling solo artist, and Fairport Convention had just lost their female vocalist. Maybe...? But it didn't happen, more's the pity.

David Rea (1946-2011) was born in Ohio. In the early 60s, Rea moved to Toronto, working as a guitarist for Gordon Lightfoot and Ian & Sylvia. Joni Mitchell and Neil Young encouraged him to write his own songs, and some of them were recorded by Ian & Sylvia. Rea became an established sideman in Toronto and elsewhere, recording with a wide variety of of artists. Rea released two albums on Capitol Records in 1969 (Maverick Child) and 1971 (By The Grace Of God), both produced by Felix Pappalardi. Pappalardi had helped produce Cream, among other bands, and played bass and produced the band Mountain. 

Since Rea was produced by Pappalardi, he worked with the members of Mountain on his record. As it happened, Rea ended up co-writing a song with Mountain guitarist Leslie West, the immortal "Mississippi Queen." If you say "I don't know 'Mississippi Queen'" you are probably wrong. It was a classic rock tune if there ever was one, and it was in regular use for beer commercials well into the 21st century. When you hear drummer Corky Laing's ringing cowbell, and West's blazing guitar intro, you know what avalanche is coming. To my knowledge, "Mississippi Queen" was the only song West and Rea wrote together, and way out of Rea's normal range, but it confers immortality on its own.

In 1972, Rea would rather unexpectedly joined Fairport Convention for a few months. Fairport was in flux (in between Babbacombe Lee and Fairport Nine), and guitarist Simon Nicol had left. Roger Hill had joined as guitarist, and Rea joined as the lead guitarist. Stalwarts Dave Swarbrick on fiddle and Dave Pegg on bass remained, along with drummer Tom Farnell. Odd as this seems--it's odd--when we consider that David Rea opened for Fairport at the Troubadour in Los Angeles on September 4-6, 1970, we know at least that there was some connection. 

Rea and Fairport recorded an album that was never released, since Rea was, essentially, "too American" for the band (tagged The Manor Sessions, it was ultimately released as part of disc 4 of Come All Ye: The First Ten Years 7-disc set in 2017). Rea even toured with them a little bit in Summer '72 (I think I heard a tape from My Father's Place in Long Island), but it just wasn't a fit. Rea left later in 72, replaced by Jerry Donahue. Presumably, Rea would never have been in Fairport if he hadn't met them at the Troubadour on this weekend (Rea would go on to record the album Slewfoot for Columbia, produced by, of all people, the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir. That's another story, but I have summarized what can be known).

September 7, 1970 The Troubadour (North), San Francisco, CA: Naked Lunch (Monday)
The SF Troubadour also had an "Audition Night" on Mondays. This night was one of the few times that the booked act was actually listed in the SF Examiner. Naked Lunch was a sort of proto-Latin rock band, with horns and a conga player. Guitarist Abel Zarate would end up being a founding member of Malo. Keyboard player Lu Stephens had been in the SF group All Men Joy. Naked Lunch would not release a record during the life of the band, but ultimately an archival cd from this period was released in 2013.

The Monday night "Auditions" were often listed in the SF Examiner, but no other acts were mentioned. 

September 8-13, 1970 The Troubadour, West Hollywood, CA: Rick Nelson's Stone Canyon Band/David Bevans
Rick Nelson had been a radio and television star since the 1950s, as the real-life and TV son of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson. In the early 60s, teenage Ricky liked rockabilly music, so most episodes of Ozzie And Harriet featured Ricky playing a song with his band. His band included the great James Burton on guitar, and for pop music, it was pretty rockin'. Thanks to the power of TV, the records sold massively, and songs like "Hello Mary Lou" are classics today.

By the end of the decade, with Ozzie And Harriet off the air, Rick (not Ricky) Nelson was more interested in country rock in the style of Bob Dylan's Nashville Skyline. His new album was called Rick Sings Nelson, credited to Ricky Nelson and The Stone Canyon Band. The Stone Canyon Band included pedal steel guitarist Tom Brumley, an All-Star from Buck Owens' Buckaroos. Also in the band were guitarist Allan Kemp, drummer Patrick Shanahan and bassist Peter Cetera. Rick Nelson had played the Troubadour back in May, so the fact that he was back was a positive sign.

David Bevans was an impressionist.

September 8-13, 1970 The Troubadour (North), San Francisco, CA: David Rea/Timber (Tuesday-Sunday)
David Rea headlined this week in San Francisco. Weston had a sensible plan of offering two bookings, one in each city, which was appealing to a touring band. Originally, the Gabor Szabo Sextet had been advertised for this week, but seems to have been replaced by Rea. Phil Elwood reviewed Rea positively. He also gave generally positive notes to Timber as well, describing them as a 4-piece country rock group. 

September 15-20, 1970 The Troubadour, West Hollywood, CA: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band/Steve Martin (Tuesday-Sunday)
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band had been founded in 1966 in Long Beach, CA, and had released five albums by 1969. Initially somewhat successful, in a country-folk vein, they "went electric" but did not thrive. At the end of 1968, after appearing in the musical Paint Your Wagon, they temporarily broke up. Late in 1969, the band had reformulated itself. Their new album on Liberty was Uncle Charlie and His Dog Teddy. Manager Bill McEuen had renegotiated their contract, giving the group more artistic control. The band now emphasized a more pronounced country/bluegrass style, shying away from straight pop music. The band still featured Jeff Hanna as primary vocalist, Jimmie Fadden and Jimmy Ibbotson on guitars, John McEuen (Bill's brother) on banjo and various stringed instruments, and Les Thompson on bass. Most of the group sang, and between them they played a wide spread of instruments. There were some drums on the album, but I'm not sure if they had a live drummer.

The album would be fairly successful. The band would make a pop hit out of Jerry Jeff Walker's ballad "Mr. Bojangles," which would reach #9 on the Billboard pop charts. In April of 1971, they would also have a modest hit (it reached #53) with their cover of Kenny Loggins' "House At Pooh Corner" ("Winnie The Pooh/Doesn't know what to do"), although the song is now associated with Loggins And Messina. 

In the Fall of 1970, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band had been broken up for over a year, so announcing a new release at the Troubadour was a good way to help them return to the spotlight. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band would never reach the huge heights that some other Troubadour performers would, but they went on to have a solid career for the next several decades.

Comedian Steve Martin had been a High School classmate of the McEuen brothers in Orange County. Bill McEuen was his manager as well as the Dirt Band's. At one point in the late 60s, he had shared a house with the Dirt Band. Martin had been a writer for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, but the popular, yet controversial, show had been canceled by CBS in early 1970. Martin was now establishing his career as a comedian, although he often played (pretty good) banjo as part of his act.

September 15-20, 1970 The Troubadour (North), San Francisco, CA: Rick Nelson/Leigh Price and the Hurdy Gurdy Man (Tuesday-Sunday)
Leigh Price is unknown to me.

September 22-27, 1970 The Troubadour, West Hollywood, CA: John Sebastian/Merry Clayton
John Sebastian had been hugely successful in the 1960s as the principal songwriter and lead singer of the Lovin' Spoonful. When the band broke up, there was a possibility that he might join Stephen Stills, David Crosby and Graham Nash in their new group, but all parties agreed that he was better suited to being a solo artist, and all remained friends. Sebastian had signed with Reprise records, and he had a solo album recorded and ready as early as January 1969. For whatever record company reasons, his debut album John B Sebastian was not released until January, 1970. As if that wasn't enough, due to a disputed contract, MGM Records released the same album in the middle of 1970.

Although Sebastian was not well-served by Reprise's delay and the confusing double-release by MGM, John B Sebastian did not do badly. It reached #20 on the Billboard album charts, raising the question of how well it might have done a year earlier. There were guest appearances on the album by Crosby, Stills and Nash (and drummer Dallas Taylor), and of course they were bigger stars than ever. In person, I believe Sebastian just accompanied himself, without a band.

Merry Clayton had made her recording debut at 14, in New Orleans with Bobby Darin, back in 1962. She was well-established as a background singer with Ray Charles and others when she was called in one night to sing a part on the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter." In 1970, she had released the album Gimme Shelter on Ode, including her own version of the song. Although she sang the famously soulful vocal for the Stones, on stage her material was apparently in more of a Las Vegas-cabaret vein.

September 23-October 3, 1970 The Troubadour (North), San Francisco, CA:  Nitty Gritty Dirt Band/Steve Martin (Wednesday-Sunday, Tuesday-Saturday)

October 1-4, 1970 The Troubadour, West Hollywood, CA: Shelley Berman/Fanny (Thursday-Sunday)
Shelly Berman (1925-2017) was the kind of successful TV and Las Vegas performer who had regularly been booked at the Troubadour. As recently as Spring 1970, such bookings were common. By year's end, "singer-songwriters" were ascendant, and a far bigger draw than someone who would play on a variety show. This was no criticism of Berman, who had made several gold albums as a comedian, starting in 1957, and had regularly appeared on variety shows and in Nevada. He also had an established career as a character actor, which would continue throughout his life (you may recall him as Larry David's aging father in Curb Your Enthusiasm, ca. 2002-09). Berman seems to have been one of the last such bookings at the Troubadour, certainly the last for 1970.

Fanny was not the first all-women rock band by any means, but they were the first to get much attention from the serious rock press. Their debut album would be released on Reprise in December  1970, produced by Richard Perry.

The anchors of Fanny were sisters Jean and June Millington, both from the Sacramento area. The pair had fronted a Top-40 band called Svelt, which had evolved into Wild Honey. Both Jean (guitar) and June (bass) could really play and sing, and female musicians (as opposed to singers) were pretty rare in the late 60s. Of course, both were knockout-cute, too, but the music industry was still the entertainment business. Drummer Alice De Buhr had rounded out Wild Honey, and keyboard player Nicky Barclay was added by Reprise.

October 6-11, 1970 The Troubadour, West Hollywood, CA:  Bill Medley/Judy Mayhan (Tuesday-Sunday)
Bill Medley had been half of the Righteous Brothers (along with Bobby Hatfield), who were among the premier purveyors of "blue-eyed soul." Their songs like "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" and "Little Latin Lupe Lu" were 60s classics. Supposedly, the Phil Spector-produced "Lovin' Feeling" is the most-played song in the history of American radio. Still, the duo broke up in 1968 when Medley went solo. Medley would have some success as a solo artist. At this point, Medley's most recent album would have been Someone Is Standing Outside on A&M. Medley and Hatfield would periodically re-form over the years, as well as continue solo careers.

Judy Mayhan wrote and sang songs and accompanied herself on piano, somewhat in the style of Laura Nyro.

An ad for the SF Troubadour in the SF Good Times, Oct 9, 1970

October 6-11, 1970 The Troubadour (North) San Francisco, CA: Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen/Dee Higgins (Tuesday-Sunday)
Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen were
 rowdy hippie honky tonkers from Ann Arbor, MI. They had relocated from Michigan to Berkeley in the Summer of 1969. In the meantime, they had developed a local following for their groundbreaking mixture of Western Swing, honky-tonk and hippie sensibilities. The Cody crew were certainly the hardest rocking band yet to play the SF Troubadour (and given its brief tenure, the hardest rocking ever).

Opener Dee Higgins was a Canadian singer.

October 14-18, 1970 The Troubadour, West Hollywood, CA:  John Phillips/Barry McGuire and The Doctor
John Phillips (1935-2001) had been the principal architect, songwriter and arranger for the hugely successful band The Mamas And The Papas. The vocal quartet was only recording from 1965 to 1968, but they had 6 Top 10 singles, four successful albums and sold 40 million records. Even today, songs like "California Dreamin'" and "Monday Monday" are instantly familiar, thanks to movie soundtracks and television commercials. Although singers Cass Elliott, Michelle Phillips and Denny Doherty were more recognizable faces, Phillips was the engine that drove the machine.

Nonetheless, The Mamas And The Papas had broken up due to various intra-group conflicts, and to some extent psychedelic rock music had passed the band by. The rise of the singer-songwriter, however, seemed custom made for Phillips' return. In January, 1970, Phillips had released his first, self-titled solo album (sometimes this album is called John, The Wolf-King of LA). The songs were excellent, and well-recorded, but Phillips didn't have the vocal abilities of his cohorts, so the album was only moderately successful. Over the years, it has been critically well-regarded.

This October show at the Troubadour was apparently Phillips first engagement as a solo performer. It may have been his only one, too, or at least one of very few. The LA Times reviewer (Fredric Milstein, October 16) called him "a stylish, sensitive soloist." The Wednesday early show had an enthusiastic but half-full house. Phillips backing band, not identified by name, included bass, keyboards and a flute player.

Barry McGuire had had big folk-rock hit with "Eve Of Destruction." It had reached #1 in late 1965, but McGuire never reached those heights again. He had a duo with "The Doctor," (Eric Hord, formerly part of the Mamas And The Papas touring ensemble) who played lead guitar.

October 13-18, 1970 The Troubadour (North), San Francisco, CA: Judy Mayhan/Dick Holler (Tuesday-Sunday)
Judy Mayhan and Dick Holler were both songwriters who accompanied themselves on piano. Phil Elwood gave them both a favorable review in the October 14 Examiner.

Per the ad above, Marin county country-rockers Clover, then signed to Fantasy, were originally booked.  Dick Holler replaced them.

October 20-25, 1970 The Troubadour, West Hollywood, CA: Gordon Lightfoot/Dee Higgins (Tuesday-Sunday)
Gordon Lightfoot (b. 1938) had been a successful songwriter and singer in Canada since the early 1960s. His song "Early Morning Rain" was already a standard of sorts. In the latter 60s, many Nashville country artists had also recorded his songs. Reprise Records made a push to expand Lightfoot's audience to the States with the Sit Down Young Stranger album in April 1970. Lightfoot would have a big hit in December 1970 with the single "If You Could Read My Mind." The song reached #5 in the US (and #1 in Canada). Once again, a Troubadour booking was on the front end of a successful singer/songwriter.

October 20-25, 1970 The Troubadour (North), San Francisco: CA Jo Mama/Michael Horn
Jo Mama was an interesting band, if largely forgotten today. Jo Mama's debut album on Atlantic had been released in 1970. Their follow-up, J Is For Jump, would be released later in 1971. For the most part, the band featured East Coast transplants who had relocated from New York in the late 60s. Lead guitarist and principal songwriter Danny "Kootch" Kortchmar had been in a group called The Flying Machine with James Taylor back in Greenwich Village in the mid-60s. Korthmar and bassist Charles Larkey had moved to LA around '68. They had a group called The City with Larkey's future wife Carole King, herself a recent transplant from NYC (and recently divorced from her husband, songwriter Gerry Goffin).  The City had released an album on Ode Records in 1969, but Carole King didn't really like to perform much, so the band kind of expired.

By 1970, Kortchmar and Larkey formed Jo Mama with keyboardist Ralph Shuckett (another transplant) and singer Abigail Haness (Kortchmar's girlfriend), along with drummer Joel Bishop O'Brien.  I, at least, can vouch for the quality of the second album (J Is For Jump). Still, the band never really got traction. 

Michael Horn is unknown to me.

October 27-November 1, 1970 The Troubadour, West Hollywood, CA:  John Denver/Jo Mama (Tuesday-Sunday)
John Denver (1943-1997) had worked with the Kingston Trio and others, but his solo career had begun in earnest with a 1969 solo album for RCA. His second RCA album, Take Me To Tomorrow, released May 1970, featured his own songs. His album Whose Garden Was This, released by RCA in October, was mostly cover versions. Denver would not really start to hit it big until his next album, Poems, Prayers And Promises was released in May of 1971.

It's easy to dismiss John Denver as a popular lightweight, and it's not unfair. Nonetheless, when we look over the acts who played the West Hollywood Troubadour in 1970, and particularly the last part of the year, we see some of the best selling acts of the 1970s playing a 300-seat nightclub. John Denver was another of those acts, just as big as James Taylor, Elton John, Carole King, Cat Stevens or Linda Ronstadt.

October 27-November 1, 1970 The Troubadour (North), San Francisco, CA: Aliotta Haynes/James and The Good Brothers (Tuesday-Sunday)
In the October 30 Examiner, Phil Elwood reported that the San Francisco Troubadour would close after November 1. The building had apparently cost Weston $400,000, but the crowds were too small. The Troubadour was too LA-slick for hip San Francisco, while still being too freaky for the more well-to-do types at the Fairmont and other Nob Hill hotels. The restaurant had never caught on, and there wasn't any kind of foot traffic from a local "scene." The club closed quietly, almost entirely forgotten. Now, Weston had invested a ton of money, but real estate always does well in San Francisco, so he probably didn't lose that much. In any case, the West Hollywood Troubadour continued to thrive, as singer/songwriters were becoming the biggest moneymakers in the record industry. 

For the final weekend, the headliners were the folk trio Aliotta Haynes. Ted and Mitch Alliota and bassist Skip Haynes apparently sounded more or less like Crosby, Stills and Nash. Bassist Mitch Alliota had played with the Chicago band Rotary Connection, and the other two played guitars.

James And The Good Brothers were a Canadian acoustic trio who were an extended part of the Grateful Dead family. Guitarist James Ackroyd had teamed with twin brothers Brian and Bruce Good, on guitar and autoharp, respectively. All sang, and their music was in a country-folk style, but without a pronounced Southern twang. The trio had met the Grateful Dead when they played on the infamous Festival Express cross-Canadian tour. The Dead invited them to San Francisco, and the trio had come down to the Bay Area, where the Dead office helped them get gigs. 

James And The Good Brothers would be signed to Columbia Records in 1971, and would record at Wally Heiders with Grateful Dead engineer Betty Cantor. Jerry Garcia and Bill Kreutzmann likely played on the initial sessions, although they were not used on the final album. Ultimately the album seems to have been re-recorded in Toronto. It would be released in late 1971. Eventually, James Ackroyd would stay in California, and the Good Brothers would return to Canada, where they had a successful musical career (along with banjo-playing younger brother Larry). 

The San Francisco edition of the Troubadour closed its doors after the November 1, 1970 show, largely unmourned and mostly forgotten. The venue at 960 Bush Street would reopen in March, 1971 as The Boarding House. With some changes, it would remain open for most of the 1970s, and it was a popular if not always successful San Francisco nightclub, for both music and comedy. The Boarding House was owned and run by David Allen, who had been Weston's house manager for the Troubadour and San Francisco. The very first act to play the new Boarding House, on March 26, 1971, was James And The Good Brothers.

November 3-8, 1970 The Troubadour, West Hollywood, CA: Oliver/Nolan and The Kool Aid Chemist (Tuesday-Sunday)
William Oliver Swofford (1945-2000), who used the stage name Oliver, had an interesting career and--for a pop musician--a surprisingly different post-music career. Oliver had some popular sixties hits, such as "Good Morning Starshine" and "Jean." "Starshine" (from Hair) had reached #3 in July '69, and "Jean" (the theme song to the movie The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie) reached #2 shortly afterwards. Still, Swofford grew tired of the lightweight pop sound, and throughout the 70s performed and recorded in a more folk style, using the name Bill Swofford. By the late 1970s, he had quit music.

Unlike many former pop stars, Swofford became a successful executive in an American pharmaceutical company. A leadership award at the company is named after him. Tragically, Swofford died of cancer in 2000. In another not-typical-for-a-pop-star piece of trivia, Bill Oliver Swofford's brother John was the former Athletic Director for UNC-Chapel Hill and long-time Commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Nolan and The Kool-Aid Chemist were some kind of funk band, per a review.

November 10-15, 1970 The Troubadour, West Hollywood, CA: John Stewart/Aliotta Haynes
John Stewart (1939-2008) had been a member of The Kingston Trio from 1961 to 1967. The group had been very popular, but they were passed by when the likes of The Beach Boys and The Beatles came along. Stewart had gone solo, and released a variety of well-received albums, such as 1969's California Bloodlines. Although he had written a hit for The Monkees ("Daydream Believer"), Stewart was well known at this time. but not particularly successful. 

Stewart's current album would have been Willard, released on Capitol in 1970. The album was produced by Peter Asher, and recorded in Hollywood and Nashville. The LA tracks included players like James Taylor, Carole King, Mike Stewart (John's brother) and Chris Darrow, and the Nashville tracks had stellar backing as well. Clearly, Capitol felt Stewart was ticketed for success in the new world of singer/songwriters. When Stewart had played the San Francisco Troubadour in August, he had used Bryan Garafolo on bass and Lloyd Barata on drums (Stewart played guitar). Stewart actually had a fairly productive career into the 21st century, but in the early 70s he did not have the success that his talent would have foretold.

November 17-22, 1970 The Troubadour, West Hollywood, CA: Doug Kershaw/Bob Gibson (Tuesday-Sunday)
Cajun fiddler Doug Kershaw had been a country musician for at least a decade. His song "Diggy Diggy Lo" had reached #14 in the country charts back in 1961. Cajun music, however, was particularly suited to the amplified style of rock music, and Kershaw's remake of "Diggy Diggy Lo" had reached #69 in 1969, not too shabby for an old country guy. Kershaw's 1970 album was Spanish Moss (on Warners), made in LA with James Burton, Red Rhodes (steel guitar), Russ Kunkel (drums) and others. His version of the bluegreass classic "Orange Blossom Special" had even been a minor hit. Kershaw had played the Troubadour in May (as well as the SF Troubadour in August).

Bob Gibson (1931-1996) had been one of the earliest and most popular performers in the Folk Revival of the late 50s and early 60s. Despite his early importance--he had introduced Joan Baez at the 1959 Newport Folk Festival, for example--musical styles had passed him by. In early 1971, he would release a self-titled album on Capitol, helmed by Byrds producer Jim Dickson. The sessions included many country-rock stalwarts like Sneaky Pete Kleinow and Chris Hillman. The album would not succeed, however, and Gibson did not release an album for several more years.

November 24-29, 1970 The Troubadour, West Hollywood, CA:James Taylor/Carole King
The November booking of James Taylor and Carole King at the Troubadour is perhaps the most emblematic booking at the Troubadour for 1970, and for all I know its entire existence. Here were two of the biggest singer-songwriters of the 1970s, one having just become a star and the other still on her way up, playing music that we are all familiar with now. The sound of Taylor and King was paradigmatic for Los Angeles music in the 1970s--iconic, thoughtful, reflective and hugely profitable. Even if you don't like their music, or the music that followed it, James Taylor and Carole King together at the Troubadour was a signpost of the decade.

Back in February, shortly after the release of his second album, Sweet Baby James, Taylor had played a week at the Troubadour (February 10-15, 1970). Now, 9 months later, anyone under a certain age in the United States could sing along to "Fire And Rain" or "Sweet Baby James." Doug Weston, however, always made his acts sign an option contract that they would return to the Troubadour later at a fixed price. Artists didn't like these options, but they were perfectly legal. In some cases, artists apparently just bought their way out of the options (details are scant, but it was discussed in Rolling Stone, so it wasn't a dark secret). It appears here that Taylor simply came back and played a week at the club to fulfill his option.

James Taylor was booked for six nights, but I'm not certain whether there were 12 or 14 shows (sometimes Weston booked tripleheaders on the weekend). In any case, the November 10 Times reported that Weston said 4000 tickets had sold out instantly. Thus we can figure that maximum capacity at the club was around 300 (285 or 333, depending). With those kind of sales, Taylor could have played much bigger places, but presumably he had his reasons for preferring playing the Troubadour rather than paying them out.

Opening for Taylor was his friend Carole King. King, of course, had written numerous hit songs for others in New York, with her ex-husband Gerry Goffin. After her 1968 divorce, however, King had moved to Los Angeles. She had a band called The City, which included guitarist Danny Kortchmar and her future husband Charlie Larkey on bass, and they had released an album on Ode in 1969. King, however, did not like playing live, so the band broke up. Kortchmar and Larkey had gone to found Jo Mama, while King mostly played sessions around LA. She had played on Taylor's Sweet Baby James album, among many others.

In May, 1970 Ode had released Writer, Carole King's first solo album. Just about all the songs had been co-written by King with Gerry Goffin. She was backed by James Taylor and members of Jo Mama, which was pretty much the crew on Sweet Baby James. Writer wasn't particularly a chart hit, although once its followup Tapestry became one of the best selling albums of all time, the album sold plenty. Nonetheless, all the people who had jumped on tickets for the hot James Taylor had then heard Carole King, and in retrospect she was just as big a part of 70s songwriter music as he was.

December 1-6, 1970 The Troubadour, West Hollywood, CA: Waylon Jennings/Jerry Jeff Walker
Although singer-songwriters were a central component to popular 1970s music, "Outlaw Country" was just a few years behind it. In 1970, the record industry had some reason to think that "country rock" was the next big thing, combining hippie sensibilities with country songwriting, and perhaps replacing whisky with weed. Indeed, some country rock bands did pretty well in the 70s, like the New Riders Of The Purple Sage or Pure Prairie League. The Eagles, initially, had a country rock veneer, even though that rapidly evolved.  

A more potent and lasting merger of country music and the 60s would be the music coming out of Austin, TX. Genuine country musicians, with proper Nashville pedigrees, would move to Austin, grow their hair, light one up and pretty much play the same music they had been playing before. OK--maybe there was a bit more attitude, but that wasn't incompatible with older roughneck country, anyway. Two of the earliest converts to this were Waylon Jennings and Jerry Jeff Walker. They were booked together at the Troubadour in the first week of December. It was a couple of years before Outlaw Country and Austin were a big deal, but it was another sign that the Troubadour was a place to see what was coming up a few years down the road.

Waylon Jennings (1937-2002) was an established country singer, but he had roots in rock and roll. Jennings had been the bass player for Buddy Holly and The Crickets, and had graciously offered to give up his seat on the airplane to The Big Bopper, on the fateful flight on February 3, 1959 that crashed, killing Holly, the Bopper, and Ritchie Valens. Jennings had gone on to success as a Nashville singer, but he had never been happy with how his records were made. Jennings had made his 13th album, Singer Of Sad Songs, in Hollywood, and RCA had released it in November 1970. The record company refused to promote it, however, since they had wanted Jennings to record in Nashville. Jennings, never one to conform, was promoting it himself at The Troubadour. A few years later, he would relocate to Austin, find common cause with Willie Nelson, and Outlaw Country would become a real thing.

Jerry Jeff Walker had a more complicated story, but it was no less significant for that. Jerry Jeff had been born Ronald Clyde Crosby in Oneonta, NY. He had been a Greenwich Village folkie, then had gone psychedelic with the band Circus Maximus. In 1968, he had written the song "Mr Bojangles" (according to former accompanist David Bromberg, Jerry Jeff met the song's protagonist in a New Orleans drunk tank, where he was "doing research"). The song had recently been a hit for The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (see September 15-20, above), so there was interest in Walker. Jerry Jeff would move to Austin within a few years. While he never became as big a star as Waylon or Willie, he was an important marker for the merger of country music and rock sensibilities that characterized the Austin scene in the 70s. At this time, his current album was Bein' Free, on Atco, produced by Tom Dowd.

December 8-13, 1970 The Troubadour, West Hollywood, CA: Cat Stevens/Seatrain
Cat Stevens (b. Steven Giorgiou 1948) had had some success in the UK in the 60s, but he fell ill and his career had been stalled. He recovered, however, and had released Mona Bone Jakon in April 1970 on Island (and A&M in the States). Stevens prior work had been fairly orchestrated pop, but his new producer Paul Samwell-Smith paired Stevens with fellow guitarist Alun Davies, for a more intimate sound. The album wasn't huge, but it had attracted some attention. Island/A&M released his new album, Tea For The Tillerman, in November. This one would be huge, the first of many big hits. The Tillerman album would reach #8 on Billboard, and the hit single "Wild World" would reach #5. Once again, the Troubadour was on the front end of a huge success.

Seatrain had been formed from the ashes of the Blues Project in 1968. For complicated reasons, the Blues Project had reformed in San Francisco, and then changed their name to Sea Train. After a 1968 debut on A&M, Seatrain reconstituted itself (and changed its spelling) and ended up recording for Capitol. The new band was mainly based in Cambridge, MA, but they seemed to winter in the Bay Area. At this time, Seatrain had Peter Rowan on guitar and vocals, Richard Greene as lead soloist on electric violin, Lloyd Baskin on keyboards and vocals, Andy Kulberg on bass and Roy Blumenfield on drums. Their first album on Capitol (entitled Seatrain) had been released in 1970, although I am not precisely sure what month it was actually released.

December 15-20, 1970 The Troubadour, West Hollywood, CA:  Jake Holmes/Brewer and Shipley
Jake Holmes is hardly a major figure, but most Americans of a certain era have heard his songs, though not likely him. At the time of this booking, Holmes had recently released So Close, So Very Far To Go. It had been recorded in Nashville, and recently released on Polydor. The single "So Close" was apparently in the Top 20, at least in LA. Holmes was well-reviewed by Michael Sherman in the Times, who mentioned that he was accompanied by guitarist Teddy Irwin.

But that's not why you likely have heard Jake Holmes' songs. Back when Holmes had released his first album, The Above-Ground Sound of Jake Holmes, released on Tower in 1967, Holmes had toured around a little bit. On August 25, 1967 Holmes had opened for the Yardbirds at the Village Theater in Greenwich Village (later better known as the Fillmore East). A year later, Jimmy Page and The Yardbirds were doing a song called "I'm Confused," which seemed to pretty much be Holmes song "Dazed And Confused," from his album. By 1969, the first Led Zeppelin album had been released, with the song "Dazed And Confused," very similar but with writing credits assigned to Led Zeppelin.

Holmes ultimately sued for copyright infringement, and the case was settled out of court. A 2010 Led Zeppelin cd release assigned credits to "Dazed And Confused" as written by Zeppelin, but "inspired by Jake Holmes," presumably related to the settlement. But, you might say, I'm no Zeppelin fan, I don't know how the song goes, so I don't know the music of Jake Holmes.

After his recording career fizzled somewhat, Holmes wrote commercial jingles. His most famous commercial theme was the US Army recruiting song "Be All You Can Be." Jake Holmes second most famous jingle? "Be A Pepper," for Dr Pepper ("I'm a Pepper/You're A Pepper/Wouldn't you like to be a Pepper too?"). All I can say is, those three songs would that would make some medley.

Opening act Brewer And Shipley were a folk duo from the Midwest. Tom Shipley and Mike Brewer were based in Kansas City, but they recorded in San Francisco. They had just released their album Tarkio on Kama Sutra, recorded in San Francisco with producer Nick Gravenites. It was a great album that holds up well, but the first track was the catchy "One Toke Over The Line," which would be released as a single in March of 1971. It would reach #10, but it has remained prominent on oldies stations ever since.

December 22-24, 26-27, 1970 The Troubadour, West Hollywood, CA:  Eric Burdon and War/Edwards-Hand 
(Tuesday-Thursday, Saturday-Sunday)
Eric Burdon, a powerful singer and a true character, had numerous lives in the Pop firmament. Burdon had come to prominence in the mid-60s as the lead singer for The Animals, bringing a dose of heavy blues to the British Invasion. When psychedelia hit, Burdon remade his band as the psychedelic Eric Burdon and The Animals, touring constantly and scoring with hits like "San Francsican Nights" and "Sky Pilot." Burdon and the Animals were perhaps the only British Invasion band to directly make the transition to the Fillmores, and he and his band had relocated to Los Angeles by 1968.

When the psychedelic Animals melted down, Burdon had remained in LA. After some intermittent performances (and a brief stint at USC Film School, apparently), Burdon hooked up with a local band called War. War played funky jazz, mostly focused on a groove, rather than virtuosity. Burdon's name helped them get bookings, and they gave Burdon a chance to update his sound. When Burdon played with them, he just improvised along, rather than singing his old Animals hits. A few raw audience tapes from 1970 suggest that it actually sounded pretty good--Burdon had a great voice and a good sense of drama, so he didn't overwhelm the band.

By late 1970, Eric Burdon and War were pretty successful. The album Eric Burdon Declares War had been released by MGM in April 1970. Surprisingly, the album generated a hit single "Spill The Wine," which had peaked at #3. Today, the single is pretty embarrassing. If you listen to Burdon in the context of a live show, it actually fits in, but stripped out to a single it's pompous. Still, it was a hit. In December, Eric Burdon and War released the shamefully named Black-Man's Burdon. There was no hit. Burdon would separate himself from War, and they would go on to have a pretty successful run in the early 1970s. 

LA Times reviewer Susan Reilly (Dec 25 1970) described Edwards-Hand as featuring Roger Hands and Rod Edwards as singer-songwriters, backed by a trio (plus Rod Edwards on keyboards). The band had released an album on GRT, with Beatles producer George Martin at the helm.

December 29-31, 1970-January 1-3, 1971 The Troubadour, West Hollywood, CA:  Linda Ronstadt (Tuesday-Sunday)
Linda Ronstadt would be a huge star in a few years, but at this time she was a regular booking at the Troubadour. This, too, added to the ultimate status of the club---people would say they saw Linda back in the day at some club, rather than at the Sports Arena.

At this time, Ronstadt would have been supporting her second solo album, Silk Purse, which had been released on Capitol on April. She had played the club back in June (June 23-July 5). Ronstadt had been part of the Stone Poneys, with Bobby Kimmel and Kenny Edwards. The trio had released three albums in 1967 and '68, and had even scored a modest hit with the Michael Nesmith song "Different Drum," which reached #13 in 1967. The Stone Poneys had come from Tucson in 1965, and had played the Hoot Night at the Troubadour many times. Ronstadt had received offers as a solo singer, but she had refused to abandon her bandmates. Finally, after a Troubadour hoot performance in 1966, the Stone Poneys had been signed as a group. 

Ronstadt would not release a new album until 1972, so in her case, the Troubadour bookings would keep the wheels turning for her.