Friday, December 10, 2021

The Matrix, 3138 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA: October-December 1970 Performers List (Matrix III)


John Lee Hoooker's 1970 album I Feel Good, recorded one night in Paris in October, 1969, and released on Carson Records. Hooker played the Matrix regularly.

The Matrix, at 3138 Fillmore Street in San Francisco's Marina District, had quite literally been the first hippie nightclub. Originally opened in August, 1965 by Jefferson Airplane lead singer Marty Balin's father (along with some partners), the club not only housed the Airplane, but it was the only hangout for most of the long-haired musicians. When the Fillmore and Avalon started putting on shows in early 1966, pretty much the only other steady hippie gig in the city was at The Matrix. Many of the Fillmore bands, even the popular ones, put in time at the Matrix

The Matrix was a tiny, rectangular club, a former pizza parlor with a beer license. Maximum official capacity was 150. Patrons were not allowed to dance--this was no joke, as the cops liked to bust hippies just to find joints in their pocket--so the Matrix generally eschewed dance music. Befitting the Fillmore, the Matrix favored noodly blues jamming, presented in all seriousness like a jazz club. The owners of the Matrix also tried to tape every show, a saga in its own right, which over the years has left us far more of a history of music at the club than would normally be available from such a small establishment.

By 1970, rock music was booming all over the Bay Area. There were rock clubs that booked original music in Berkeley, Palo Alto and Sonoma County, and shows in high school and college gyms on weekends. The Matrix was no longer the only alternative if there was no Fillmore gig. The Matrix, however, although hardly lucrative, still had some advantages over its suburban competitors. For one thing, the Matrix was open six or seven nights a week, so working bands with good gigs on the weekend still booked at the Matrix during the week. Furthermore, the Matrix had an expectation like a jazz club, with musicians playing serious music without worrying about pleasing a crowd, very different than a rocking high school gym. Thus weeknight bookings at the Matrix are often far more intriguing in retrospect than the weekends, in contrast to most nightclubs.

Although the Matrix was in decline by 1970, and no longer at the center of the San Francisco rock scene, its unique status meant that interesting musical events still happened there. Most famously, one night in January when Boz Scaggs missed his show, an unknown band from New Jersey played instead, and Examiner critic Phil Elwood became the first of many to write a glowing review of Bruce Springsteen. Throughout the Spring, the Monday night jam session evolved into the seeds of what would become the hugely successful Jerry Garcia Band. In a prior post, I reviewed all the performers at the Matrix from January to June, 1970. In the following post, I reviewed all the Matrix performers from July through September, 1970.

This post will review all the performers at the Matrix from October through December, 1970. While Matrix shows were listed regularly in San Francisco and Berkeley newspapers, they were rarely reviewed, so some of the listings have contradictions. I have made my best guess here, but not attempted to resolve the murky differences between, say, the Berkeley Barb or the San Francisco Examiner on a given weekend. I am confident that all the bands listed here played the Matrix during the last quarter of 1970, even if here and there the exact dates may vary slightly. While Bruce Springsteen had long since returned to New Jersey, there was still interesting and excellent music played at the Matrix in latter 1970. 

Anyone with additional information or insight into any of these bands, or with suggestions for accurate dating, or missing groups, or just intriguing speculation, is encouraged to enter them in the Comments. 

Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders ca 1973. There are no photos of Garcia and Saunders at the Matrix (and for that matter, only one brief tape)

Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders at The Matrix

Throughout 1970, the Matrix was mainly a musician's hangout. By the end of 1970, it was mainly Jerry Garcia's hangout. In retrospect, the most interesting story of this period is the emerging collaboration between Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders. Garcia had already played the Matrix many times, with the Grateful Dead, Mickey Hart and The Hartbeats and at informal jams. In the first half of 1970, Garcia had started jamming regularly on Monday nights with organist Howard Wales and drummer Bill Vitt. Vitt had brought in bassist John Kahn. Garcia enjoyed having regular jamming partners, and made time in his schedule to ensure he got to jam at the Matrix.

When crowds started to turn out for Garcia at the Matrix--remember, we are talking about 100 people on a Monday night--Howard Wales became uncomfortable with the notoriety. In the Fall, Kahn brought along his friend Merl Saunders, and he took over the Hammond at the Matrix jams with Garcia. While the jams were musically informal, they were regular and scheduled. Ultimately, these jams would lead to collaboration and recording by Jerry Garcia, John Kahn and Merl Saunders (and Bill Vitt). In the end, Kahn and Garcia were musical partners for the next 25 years, and it all began at The Matrix during this period. Amongst all the performances at the Matrix in the second part of 1970, the casual but real formation of Jerry Garcia's future as a stand-alone performer had the most lasting impact. Garcia was booked for 25 nights over the course of 1970 (plus dropping by for a few jams), a remarkable number for a musician with two full-time rock bands at the same time.

John Kahn (l) and Bill Vitt, ca. 1973 from the Live At Keystone album (photo Annie Liebovitz)

Drummer Bill Vitt (1943-2019) had gone to High School in Northern California (he was born in Washington State), but had ended up as a studio musician in Los Angeles around 1965. Around '66, Vitt had joined Jack Bedient And The Chessmen, and he toured Nationally, even going to Hawaii for a residency. By 1969, however, Vitt had tired of the road, and he preferred Northern California, so he quit The Chessmen and moved to the Bay Area. Besides playing local gigs, Vitt was soon in demand as a session drummer. There was a growing recording scene in the Bay Area, and Vitt worked on many sessions for producer Nick Gravenites. Another of Gravenites' first call players was bassist John Kahn, and Vitt and Kahn had met when the drummer was invited to play with Mike Bloomfield. Kahn lived near Vitt in the tiny Marin community of Forest Knolls, and they worked many sessions together.

After the initial bass player (classically trained Richard Favis) did not work out, Bill Vitt had invited his Forest Knolls neighbor John Kahn (1947-96). Besides being regular session players for Nick Gravenites (Kahn and Vitt were the rhythm section for the Brewer And Shipley hit "One Toke Over The Line," for example), the pair played together in the Mike Bloomfield band. Nick Gravenites put together lineups to back Bloomfield, a genuine rock star who liked to play small clubs and never rehearse--hey, does this sound like a plan?--and would book whatever players were available. John Kahn was always his first-call bassist, and his first-call drummer was Kahn's best friend, Bob Jones. Jones had another band, however (Southern Comfort), so if Jones wasn't available, Bill Vitt got the call (amusingly, Jones was Vitt's landlord).

Kahn and Garcia hit it off, musically and personally. They would become musical partners until Garcia's death, with Garcia/Saunders, Jerry Garcia Band, Old And In The Way and a variety of other ensembles.  Kahn would organize the bands and deal with many of the musical logistics. Garcia himself said that without Kahn, most of his side-ensembles would not have existed.

Somewhere around early September, probably Monday, September 7, 1970, Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders played at the Matrix with John Kahn and Bill Vitt. While Garcia and Saunders had met at Wally Heider's studio, through John Kahn, they had not played together. When Garcia and Saunders plugged in the first night, neither would have really known what to expect from the other. Saunders' music could not have been a more striking contrast to Howard Wales, a fact commented on by Garcia. Wales's music was far-out jamming, defying conventional structures. Saunders, however, already had a decade of experience in dance bands and organ trios, and knew all the popular songs and jazz standards. Garcia had no direct experience of playing "The Great American Song Book." Initially, from what tiny evidence we have, Garcia and Saunders just jammed, with no formal songs, but probably with more structure than the excursions with Howard Wales

It is a common musical trope that a musician will struggle for years playing popular music and standards in bars, so that when he finally gets to play his own compositions, they are infused with musical history. Other than folk music, Garcia had no such background. Garcia had gone straight from bluegrass to psychedelic improvisation at full volume. In a very unique pattern, although he was already a genuine rock star, Garcia took time to go back to the bars and find out what he missed. Wales provided the freedom, and Saunders brought the standards. Garcia and the Grateful Dead's music in the 1970s benefited enormously from both. 

Merl Saunders (1934-2008) had formed a band at Lincoln High in San Francisco in 1948 (when he was 14), and his singer was classmate Johnny Mathis. Saunders had played music ever since, spending 4 years in the US Air Force Big Band, playing in organ trios and learning from Jimmy Smith, and playing jazz and popular music in San Francisco and Las Vegas. Merl had toured the country, toured Vietnam, been musical director for a show that went to New York, had met Miles Davis and played and hung out with many great jazz musicians (I have written about Saunders' diverse career here). 
By 1970, Merl was back in San Francisco, writing commercial jingles, holding down the organ job at Jack's On Sutter and playing sessions in studios. At Wally Heider's, where the big San Francisco bands recorded, he worked a lot for producer Nick Gravenites, as did John Kahn. Around August 1970, Saunders and Kahn were working on demos for an album by Kansas City folksinger Danny Cox (the album would ultimately be released in 1971). Garcia, hanging out and playing on a Brewer And Shipley session, was introduced to Saunders. A few weeks later, when Wales was unwilling to come to the Matrix, Kahn recommended Saunders and Garcia assented.

Get Back Home In The USA, recorded by John Lee Hooker on November 30, 1969 in Pau, France, and released in 1970 on the French label Black and Blue Records

The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: October-December 1970 Performers List

September 29-October 3, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: John Lee Hooker (Tuesday-Saturday)
John Lee Hooker was a blues legend, of course. Hippies officially loved the blues--Eric Clapton played them, and so on--but in fact there weren't many bookings for veteran blues artists. They were out-of-date for R&B clubs, but not hip enough for white rock shows. In 1970, a variety of old Hooker recordings were being released by various companies, but Hooker didn't really have a current album. In the States, his most recent recording was I Feel Good, recorded in Paris, France in October 1969 and released on Carson Records. In November, 1969, in Pau, France, Hooker would record Get Back Home In The USA, but it was only released in France. Somewhere around this time, Hooker would move to the hills behind Redwood City (where he would live for many decades), so he preferred playing in the Bay Area.

Phil Elwood of the Examiner, perhaps the only writer in town who actually went to the Matrix, reviewed Hooker's show there in the October 1 edition (probably a review of the September 30 show). Elwood was very enthusiastic, and mentioned that Hooker's band included Tim Kaihatsu on guitar, Geno Skaggs on bass and Kenny Swank on drums.

October 5, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Monday Night Jam
Jerry Garcia was a regular performer on Monday nights at the Matrix, but on this Monday night, the Grateful Dead were playing at Winterland. Presumably Bill Vitt led the jam, and we might guess that he invited John Kahn and Merl Saunders, but its important to remember that we have no idea.

October 6-7, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Big Brother and The Holding Company/Ray Bregante
Big Brother and The Holding Company had disintegrated in December, 1968, when Janis Joplin left the band for solo stardom. They got back together in late 1969. starting to work on an album, and by 1970 they were performing. The group would release the underrated Be A Brother later in the year, produced by Nick Gravenites.  
The reconstituted Big Brother featured the four original (pre-Janis) members, although James Gurley had switched to bass, and Peter Albin now played guitar (plus Sam Andrews on guitar and Dave Getz on drums). They had also added Dave Schallock on guitar, so they were a five-piece band. 

Ray Bregante has been identified as the co-owner of the Matrix by 1971 (along with Peter Abram), but I don't know anything about him as a performer.
There were very few flyers for the Matrix. Note that only women ("chicks") under 21 are welcome. This was a common arrangement at the time.

October 8-10, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Vince Guaraldi Trio (Thursday-Saturday)
Pianist Vince Guaraldi was San Francisco's best-known jazz export since Dave Brubeck. With the success of Guaraldi's Peanuts soundtrack, however, Guaraldi was free to perform as much as he wanted in the Bay Area without actually going on the road. Per biographer Derrick Bang, Guaraldi's band, though uncertain,  likely would have been saxophonist Karl Denham, bassist Koji Kataoka and Oakland drummer Mike Clark. Clark, a phenomenal drummer, would later go on to well-deserved renown as the drummer for Herbie Hancock's mid-70s ensemble, the Headhunters. A little-known fact about Guaraldi was that he liked playing electric keyboards, and he may have been in a more electric format at the Matrix than his famous 60s sound might suggest.
October 12, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia, Merl Saunders and friends (Monday)
Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders were booked at the Matrix for this Monday night, but the Grateful Dead were playing at Paterson State College in Wayne, NJ. It's unknown whether the others played, or if the Matrix was just dark. Generally speaking during this period, we know nothing about the Matrix if Garcia did not appear. Shows weren't reviewed, and few enough people seem to have attended that recollections are non-existent.

[a Commenter suggests that the October 12, 1970 Grateful Dead date is a phantom, essentially a repeat of the October 10 date, so Monday October 12 is plausible for Garcia playing the Matrix]
October 13-14, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia, Merl Saunders and friends Rock Jazz (Tuesday-Wednesday)
The Grateful Dead had been performing in the New York Metro area over the weekend (Saturday October 10 at Queens College, and Sunday and Monday at Paterson State). But presumably Garcia got off the plane and went straight over to the Matrix. The listing in the San Francisco Examiner said "ROCK JAZZ." From what little we can discern--there is only one fragmentary Garcia-Saunders tape from the Matrix--Garcia and the crew just jammed. You have to assume that now and again Garcia sang a blues, but there would have been no rehearsing. The earliest substantial tape is from May, 1971 (at Keystone Korner), and it only features a few covers amidst a lot of jamming. So calling the night "Rock Jazz" was fair warning to any Garcia fans who thought they might be getting "Uncle John's Band."

The fact that Garcia and Saunders had moved to take over both Tuesday and Wednesday was a sign of both Garcia's seriousness, and how little else was going on at the Matrix. The club was pretty much a last choice booking for successful local bands.
October 15, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: James and The Good Brothers (Thursday)
This night at the Matrix was the Bay Area debut of James and The Good Brothers. They had met and jammed with Jerry Garcia on the infamous Festival Express Train tour across Canada in July 1970, and Garcia had invited them to come out to the Bay Area. Guitarist James Ackroyd teamed up with brothers Brian and Bruce Good, and they sounded like a cross between Crosby, Stills and Nash and The Band. The acoustic trio played in a country style, but with Canadian accents instead of a Southern twang they came across differently than a Nashville group.

The trio had arrived in the Bay Area in October 1970, and were under the Dead's umbrella. Dead staff member Gail Hellund acted as their manager. Garcia's stature at the Matrix was such that a request by the Grateful Dead office to book an unknown out-of-town band would be accepted on its face. At the same time, it's worth noting that the Matrix wasn't booking premier club acts in any case. The most intriguing thing about the notation in the San Francisco Chronicle Datebook listings was that James And The Good Brothers are noted as "Courtesy Of The Grateful Dead." On one hand, this was unprecedented. On the other hand, the sort of tuned-in hippie who went to the Matrix would have heard of the New Riders, so they could probably guess a little about what was going on.

October 16-17, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Hahn Brotherhood (Friday-Saturday)
The Jerry Hahn Brotherhood was an only-in-San-Francisco band, and they had become regulars at the Matrix. Peripheral evidence suggests that they must have been great live, and jammed up a storm, but they were pretty far out, and the Matrix is one of the places where audiences would have at least expected that. 
The band played the Matrix regularly throughout their only year of existence.
Jerry Hahn was a pretty serious jazz guitarist, based in San Francisco, and he had played with John Handy and Gary Burton, among others. As "jazz-rock" became a thing, Hahn seems to have wanted to play in a more rock vein. Early in 1970, organist Mike Finnegan had been newly arrived from Wichita, Kansas. He was not only a great Hammond player, he was a terrific blues singer too (also, he was 6'6'' tall, and had gone to U. of Kansas on a basketball scholarship, making him the Bruce Hornsby of his era). Filling out the band were jazz musicians Mel Graves on bass and George Marsh on drums. Marsh recently been in the Loading Zone, an interesting (if perpetually struggling) Oakland band
Sometime in mid-1970, Jerry Hahn Brotherhood released their sole album on Columbia. While it did not sell well, two songs ("Martha's Madman" and "Captain Bobby Stout") were covered by Manfred Mann's Earth Band in the 1970s, so the record had an after-life.
October 19, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia, Merl Saunders and friends Rock Jam (Monday)
Bassist Mel Graves and drummer George Marsh were both members of the Jerry Hahn Brotherhood, and so played the Matrix regularly. Both of them mentioned separately that one night they backed Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders at the Matrix, although no one recalls exactly when (nor is there a tape). Graves and Marsh probably knew Merl Saunders from way back. Both of those players were fairly "outside," another indicator that Garcia and Saunders probably just jammed the night away in their early Matrix forays. John Kahn and Bill Vitt had busy enough studio schedules that they occasional substitute was to be expected (as it was throughout the history of the Garcia-Saunders pairing).

In 1973, Merl Saunders would record the Jerry Hahn album Moses, with Mel Graves and George Marsh. The quartet recorded the music the week before that Garcia, Saunders, Kahn and Vitt played evenings at Keystone Berkeley. It makes for a nice comparison of Saunders' style (Moses was recorded Jan 8-11, '73, and JGMS played the Keystone Jan 12-13).
October 20, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Big Brother and The Holding Company (Tuesday)
October 21, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jam with Santana and Quicksilver
A tape circulates with this date, and it is supposedly a jam between Carlos Santana and members of Quicksilver Messenger Service. There's no telling--no one was listed at the Matrix in the Examiner. It's certainly possible, but either the date or the attribution of the tape could be wrong.

Ready To Ride, by Southwind, released in 1970 on Blue Thumb Records

October 22-24, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Southwind
The members of Southwind had mostly been in an Oklahoma band called The Disciples. By 1970, they had all moved out Los Angeles, resurrected themselves as Southwind and had gotten signed to Blue Thumb. The band played country rock with a kind of funky soul undertone. I believe their current album would have been their second album (and first on Blue Thumb), Ready To Ride. The principals were guitarists Jim Pulte and John "Moon" Martin. Moon Martin would go on to some success as a songwriter in the latter 70s, including "Bad Case Of Lovin' You."
October 26, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia and friends Rock Jam (Monday)
Janis Joplin had died on the night of October 4, and her will stipulated a wake, paid for by her estate. The wake was held at the Lion's Share club in San Anselmo. The Grateful Dead were there, and so was anybody who was anybody, so I'm sure the Matrix was dark. Garcia and the Dead flew back from the East Coast for the event.
October 27-29, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Big Brother and The Holding Company (Tuesday-Thursday)
I would be surprised if Big Brother was in any shape to perform on Tuesday night, right after Janis' wake. Presumably they played Wednesday and Thursday.
October 30-31, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Heavy Turbulence with Merl Saunders (Friday-Saturday)
With the Grateful Dead on tour this weekend (in Stony Brook, NY), Merl Saunders held down the weekend. I'm not sure who was in "Heavy Turbulence," but one presumes that John Kahn and Bill Vitt were along for the ride. Saunders had so many friends in the local music scene that there's no telling who else might have played with him.
November 2, 1970 Harding Theater, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia and Friends/Big Brother and The Holding Company/Cleveland Wrecking Company/Ice/Kwane and The Kwanditos (Monday) Benefit
A "Monday Night jam" was listed for the Matrix on November 2, but I'll bet the club was dark. The Harding Theater, at 616 Divisadero, near the Haight-Ashbury, was briefly a sort of hippie rock band clubhouse. "Jerry Garcia and Friends" was presumably Garcia and Saunders. The sort of musicians who might play on a Monday at the Matrix, and the sort of hippies who would drop in there, were mostly likely at the Harding on this night. So I'm assuming the Matrix was closed.

November 3, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia, Merl Saunders and friends ROCK JAZZ (Tuesday)
While Merl Saunders played with Jerry Garcia, John Kahn and Bill Vitt at the Matrix on Monday nights, Garcia was recording with Howard Wales. Columbia staff producer Alan Douglas had visited a Garcia/Wales show sometime in the summer, and persuaded Garcia to join Wales in the studio. Whatever Wales' reservations might have been about jamming in public with Garcia, there was seemingly no harm to their musical relationship. Garcia mentioned in November that recording for the album that would become Hooteroll? (released on Douglas, a subsidiary of Columbia, but not until mid-1971) was complete by October of 1970.
As if it wasn't enough that Garcia played live with the Grateful Dead, the New Riders and Merl Saunders, and was recording with Howard Wales, he found time to record with his other friends too. On Tuesday, November 3, before he went over to the Matrix, he recorded the legendary "Cowboy Movie" over at Wally Heider's for David Crosby's forthcoming album.

Robert Savage (Bobby Arlin), from the inner sleeve of the 1971 Paramount album The Adventures of Robert Savage (In the 60s, Arlin had been in the Leaves and later The Hook)

November 4-5, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Robert Savage Group (Wednesday-Thursday)
The Robert Savage Group was led by Bobby Arlin, formerly the lead guitarist for The Leaves, a Hollywood band who had had a hit with "Hey Joe" back in 1966. I believe Savage was based in the Bay Area at this time. His current trio had Don Parrish on bass and Tommy Richards on drums. They would go on to release an album on Paramount in 1971, The Adventures Of Robert Savage.
November 6, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Hahn Brotherhood (Friday)
November 7, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Vince Guaraldi Trio (Saturday)
November 9, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: John Lee Hoooker/Prince Lasha-Sonny Simmons Firebirds/Holy Smoke Benefit for KMPX Collective (Monday)
Prince Lasha and Sonny Simmons were both local alto sax players, and they had released a 1968 album on on Contemporary Records called Firebirds. It was probably pretty modern sounding, not likely easy listening. 
Holy Smoke is unknown to me.
The KMPX Collective was a local organization trying to create a "People's Radio" station on the FM dial. They later changed their name to Airwaves, but I don't know much about the organization itself or exactly what they hoped for.

November 10-14, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Norman Greenbaum
Norman Greenbaum was a bit of a paradox compared to the usual Matrix acts. Greenbaum had been in a minor 60s Bay Area band (Dr West's Medicine Show And Junk Band). Completely unexpectedly, he had a massive hit with his 1969 single "Spirit In The Sky," which had reached #3 in April 1970. The nature of AM radio at the time meant that a true hit was massively familiar to everybody on a scale that cannot be contemplated today. Thanks to oldies stations and television commercials, the song is still recognizable now.
Greenbaum, who had a farm in Petaluma (in Northern Marin County), lived modestly and didn't really have to work again. He only performed intermittently around the Bay Area. He still recorded, and even had a local hit with the song "Canned Ham," from his 1970 Reprise album Back Home Again. Probably, Greenbaum played with a small combo, but I don't know who was in it. Since he was a big name by Matrix standards, however, playing an entire week made sense for him.
November 16, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Monday Night Jam 
Jerry Garcia was at the Fillmore East with the Grateful Dead, so we don't know who, if anyone, played the Monday night jam.
November 17-18, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: John Lee Hooker (Tuesday-Wednesday)

November 19, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: AB Skhy (Thursday)
As near as I can tell, Howard Wales had left AB Skhy by 1970. I think, based on scanty evidence, that the band now featured transplanted Wisconsites Curley Cooke on guitar and vocals and Rick Jaeger on drums, replacing Dennis Geyer and Terry Anderson. Possibly also Russ Dashiell was on guitar, as well (Jim Marcotte still played bass). That was more or less the lineup for AB Skhy's second MGM album Ramblin' On

November 20-21, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Ramblin Jack Elliott
Folk legend Ramblin' Jack Elliott was still a legend, but folk music wasn't as popular as it once was. Working rock bands could get better gigs than the Matrix on a weekend, so Ramblin' Jack could take the booking. At some point, Elliott would move the North Bay, but I don't know if he had already done so. 
In 1970, Ramblin' Jack had released an album on Reprise called Bull Durham Sacks and Railroad Tracks, produced by Nashville pro (and future star) Charlie Daniels. There were some contemporary songs by Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, and "Me and Bobby McGee" plus some tracks labeled "Rapping and Rambling." It must have done poorly, since Reprise did not follow it up.
November 23, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Monday Night Jam 
Jerry Garcia was playing a Hells Angels benefit concert with the Grateful Dead in Greenwich Village, so we don't know who, if anyone, played the Monday night jam.
November 24-25, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: John Lee Hooker (Tuesday-Wednesday)
Hooker was playing weeknights regularly at the Matrix, which leads me to think he had moved to the Bay Area by this time.

November 27-28, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Hahn Brotherhood (Friday-Saturday)
November 30, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Monday Night Jam  
The Grateful Dead had played in Columbus, OH on Sunday night (November 29), and Garcia was booked at the Matrix the following two days. It's not totally impossible that Garcia got off the plane on Monday and just went over to the Matrix to jam with Merl and John.
December 1-2, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia, Merl Saunders & friends (Tuesday-Wednesday)
December 3-5, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Sandy Bull (Thursday-Friday)
Sandy Bull was a solo guitarist, a unique and remarkable performer whose elaborate fingerpicking was enhanced by various electronic looping effects. Although appealing to a rock audience, more or less, Bull was the type of performer whose audience remained seated. He had played the Matrix many times over the years. At the time, his most recent album would have been E Puribus Unum, released on Vanguard the  previous year. Bull had played all the instruments himself, and the music was hardly rock. 
December 9, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia, Merl Saunders & friends (Wednesday)
Monday night was always the worst night for going out, which is why it was usually musicians' jam night. The fact that Garcia and Saunders were playing other weeknights was a sign that something real was going on. 
December 10-11, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: AB Skhy (Thursday-Friday)
No act was booked for Saturday or Sunday (December 12-13), never the sign of a viable nightclub.

December 15-17, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Garcia and Friends (Tuesday-Thursday)
During 1970, Jerry Garcia had played at the Matrix with Howard Wales, Vince Guaraldi, Merl Saunders and the New Riders. Yet in December, he played the Matrix with another partner, David Crosby. Garcia had been recording regularly with Crosby at Wally Heider's, most recently on Sunday, December 13, when they had worked on "Tamalpais High" and "Wall Song." For Tuesday through Thursday, the Matrix simply listed "Jerry Garcia and Friends." Garcia was always extremely careful about how he was billed in the Bay Area. In this case, Garcia was playing with Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann and Crosby. With two members of the Grateful Dead and a member of the most popular band in the country, this was a formidable booking for the tiny Matrix. Yet Garcia was careful to indicate that the shows did not include his regular partner Merl Saunders.

Remarkably, we have a rehearsal tape from the Matrix, usually assumed to be the afternoon of Tuesday, December 15 (possibly Monday the 14th), and then the evening show. Crosby debuts some songs from his forthcoming album ("Cowboy Movie," "Wall Song" and "Laughing") as well as performing his song recorded by the Jefferson Airplane ("Triad"), the debut of a future Grateful Dead song ("Bertha") and two blues songs. As a joke, Garcia refers to the band as "David And The Dorks" and Crosby responds by calling them "Jerry And The Jerks," so these names are usually used, but that was just a casual joke. The quartet would actually headline a show in Marin the next week, and these three shows appear to be live rehearsals. The Matrix was only barely solvent as a commercial enterprise, but since it had become Jerry Garcia's clubhouse, remarkable musical events occurred there.

(Note: the Grateful Dead did not play the Matrix on December 17. An in-house compilation of live Dead recordings was dated that way, but it does not refer to any performance).
December 18-19, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Jerry Hahn Brotherhood (Friday-Saturday)
December 26, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Vince Guaraldi Quartet (Saturday)

December 29-31, 1970 The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Freddie King (Tuesday-Thursday)
Freddie King (1934-76) had been a popular blues guitarist in the early 60s, recording for King Records out of Cincinnati.  He was particularly known for instrumentals like "Hideaway" and "San Ho-Zay." His career had drifted somewhat, and he hadn't been part of the first wave of blues guitarists discovered by the Fillmore crowd. At this time, his most recent album was 1970s My Feeling For The Blues, produced by saxophonist King Curtis for Cotillion Records. 
In late 1970, there weren't a lot of clubs in the Bay Area booking straight blues acts, so Freddie King rung out the New Year in the tiny Matrix. In 1971, Freddie King was signed by Leon Russell's label Shelter Records. Under Russell's direction, some properly recorded music bought Freddie to some well-deserved fame in the rock world, prior to his untimely death in 1976. 

The Matrix hung on until May of 1971. Fewer and fewer gigs were publicized in the papers, although it is hard to say if it was only open intermittently or not. Jerry Garcia was the principal booking, and was probably the reason the club remained open from mid-1970 onward, but even his positive gravity ran up against the reality of a tiny club in a place that was difficult to park. After May, 1971, Garcia's home base moved to the Keystone Korner and then over to the Keystone Berkeley, which became the anchor of his alternative career. Yet without the Matrix, not only Garcia but numerous other local acts like Boz Scaggs, Elvin Bishop, Jerry Hahn and others--even the visiting Bruce Springsteen--would not have had opportunities to move their careers forward