The Keystone Berkeley looms large in 1970s Bay Area rock history, and even larger in Jerry Garcia history. Garcia played the Keystone Berkeley over 200 times,
dwarfing the total of any other building that Garcia performed in.
Numerous other important acts, both from the Bay Area and from out of
town also played Keystone Berkeley during its tenure from 1972-1984.
Freddie Herrera opened the Keystone Berkeley on March 1, 1972. On
January 20, 1977, Herrera expanded his empire to include the Keystone
Palo Alto. The Keystone Palo Alto, at 260 South California Avenue, was
in a different part of Palo Alto than the downtown, where Garcia and
others had gotten their start, and where rock and roll had unexpectedly thrived from 1967 through 1969.
1975 through 1976, 260 South California had been a rock club called
Sophie's. Initially, it mostly featured local acts, and it was a place
for people to hang out, drink and dance, commodities rarely found in
that part of Palo Alto. Throughout 1976, however, Sophie's started to
book more and more rock bands with records, some from the Bay Area and
some from out of town. There had always been occasional road bands at
Sophie's, almost always on weeknights. The initial plan was that touring bands would only play Sophie's on Wednesday nights, with local bands on weekends. Top 40 or jazz was supposed to fill out the other nights. Whatever the plan, Sophie's bookings throughout 1975 were somewhat more flexible than that.
It turned out, however, that the
South Bay needed a nightclub that was more than just a dance joint, and
that California Avenue in Palo Alto was the perfect place. This post
will look at Sophie's bookings for 1976, with an emphasis on the bands
that had records. We will see how some club needed to fill the South Bay
gap, and it will be clear why Herrera chose Sophie's to expand his
Keystone empire in 1977.
plaque at 391 San Antonio Road, in South Palo Alto, commemorates the
first practicable Integrated Circuit, designed at Fairchild
Semiconductor. And so Silicon Valley began.|
Silicon Valley: Mid-70s
Silicon Valley, in its original 70s incarnation, was synonymous with Santa Clara County. Santa Clara County extends south from Palo Alto to the metropolis of San Jose, including various suburban towns in between them. Historically, San Jose was the center of agriculture in the South Bay. While the city was a thriving metro area, ultimately it was a center for the farming communities surrounding it. Palo Alto, a University town, generally looked down at San Jose as a city full of bumpkins. San Jose residents, in turn, had an inferiority complex towards San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland. San Jose actually had a thriving music scene since the 1940s, but it was mostly about country music. There had been a lot of good rock and roll coming out of San Jose in the 60s, because there were so many teenagers, but there wasn't any established "scene," since successful bands just tried to move up to San Francisco.
By the early 1970s, however, Santa Clara County's
economics had changed. Stanford, with all its property, had incubated
some major "high-tech" companies, such as Fairchild-Hiller, Varian and
others, and helped expand Hewlett-Packard. San Jose, in turn, was
focused on manufacturing. Microchips were becoming the primary produce
of Santa Clara Valley, but the joke to residents was that it was that
Silicon was just another crop.
|The nightclub guide from the September 9, 1976 SF Examiner|
South Bay Live Music--1970s
There were a lot of live music clubs in the South Bay in the mid-70s. The El Camino Real in Palo Alto had some lounge music, but farther south, in Sunnyvale and San Jose and the suburbs, there were a lot of beer joints. Country was still popular, at places like Cowtown (at 1584 Almaden Expressway). But rock music was popular, too. If you had worked an eight hour shift in a factory, mellowing out with a tall cool one and some loud, rocking music was probably a lot of fun. A lot of bands played rock music you could dance to, some covers and some original, but all with a beat. There were plenty of places to play, and plenty of patrons.
such place was The Bodega, at 30 South Central Avenue in Campbell.
Campbell was a suburb of San Jose, but functionally part of greater San
Jose. Campbell was just West of San Jose, but just south of Santa Clara
(for those who know the area, Campbell is between CA17/I-880 and the San
Tomas Expressway). The SF Examiner ran a periodic guide to local nightclubs, and for the Bodega, the description said
Popular rock. Friday and Saturday, $1 cover charge. There's no dance floor, but this place is so popular, they come to dance in the aisles. Thursdays, they have big-name entertainment. Young single crowd.Local bands, probably playing mostly covers, played The Bodega on weekends and probably most other nights. But on Thursdays, the Bodega had the sort of band that played Keystone Berkeley, like Elvin Bishop Group or Sons Of Champlin. Young people with day jobs went to places like The Bodega (and The Pruneyard, The Odyssey Room and so on) to hang out, drink, dance and relax from the daily grind. There were nightclubs like The Bodega all over the South Bay, but none in Palo Alto. Silicon Valley was expanding, so there would be plenty of potential patrons.
|The Santa Clara County Courthouse, a few blocks south of California Avenue, provided plenty of nighttime parking for Sophie's. |
The Town of Mayfield vs Downtown Palo Alto
Ken Rominger, the manager of The Bodega decided to open a similar club in Palo Alto. Downtown Palo Alto had a surprisingly rocking late 60s, anchored by a club called The Poppycock. Ultimately, however, downtown Palo Alto frowned on the noise and hassle of a downtown nightclub. When the successor club to The Poppycock, a jazz club called In Your Ear, burned down on New Year's Eve 1972, no other club moved to University Avenue. On top of that, Silicon Valley was rising. The type of young long-hairs who were computer coders or product managers wanted to live in downtown Palo Alto, because it had Espresso coffee, bookstores and foreign movies, just like their college town. So downtown Palo Alto was starting to get upscale, and late night rock and roll didn't fit.
Even in Palo Alto, the
past wasn't really past. Palo Alto had been created out of thin air by
railroad magnate Leland Stanford, to accommodate Stanford University.
The nearest town to the designated site of the University was Mayfield,
infamous for its numerous saloons. The temperate Leland Stanford and his partner, Timothy Hopkins, offered
to align the University to Mayfield, but only if they would close their
saloons. Mayfield, of course, declined. Stanford and Hopkins then purchased all the land between Mayfield and Menlo
Park, and invented saloon-free Palo Alto. Palo Altans always looked down
on Mayfield as uncultured ruffians, and Mayfield residents looked down
on Palo Altans as a bunch of snobs. Palo Alto was founded in 1875. In
1975, one hundred years later, when I graduated from Palo Alto High School, with Mayfield having
been assimilated into Palo Alto 50 years earlier (in 1925), these
attitudes were still embedded.
The main street for "downtown" for the original town of Mayfield was by now called California Avenue. In Mayfield days, it had been called Lincoln Avenue, but Palo Alto already had a Lincoln, so the street name was changed. While Mayfield was South of Palo Alto, by 1975 Palo Alto had spread much further South, beyond the confines of old Mayfield. Still, the "old" Palo Alto looked down on everything South of it. When Rominger chose a California Avenue location for his new nightclub, however, the civic forces of downtown Palo Alto had no objection. Mayfield had always been a bit rowdy, so a rock and roll nightclub on California Avenue seemed appropriate.
|A Help Wanted ad in the October 15, 1974 Stanford Daily promotes the opening of Sophie's at 260 California in Palo Alto, "A new garden restaurant & night club"|
Sophie's, 260 South California Avenue
Ken Rominger opened his new club Sophie's in early 1975. Sophie's was at 260 South California Avenue, at Birch Street, in "downtown Mayfield." The site had been a Purity Supermarket back in the 60s, but more recently it had been a German restaurant called Zinzinatti Oom Pah Pah. Zinzinatti had various kinds of music ("Oom Pah" and bluegrass, mostly). That tells me that the building was zoned for some kind of entertainment. In California (and probably in most places), if a building is zoned as a nightclub, it's easier to transform the venue than to find a new place and get it approved.
The location was well-chosen, so well-chosen in fact that it would be a critical factor in the upgrade of Sophie's into a wing of the Keystone family. First of all, California Avenue is near the courthouse, so there was plenty of parking at night. Second of all, because of some odd geography involving the train tracks, there were no residences near the nightclub. This meant that no one would complain when noisy customers left the club at closing time. Finally, in the era before GPS, it was easy to get to Sophie's without directions.
260 South California was two blocks from two of the main streets in Palo Alto, namely El Camino Real and Oregon Expressway. Since Oregon Expressway had its own freeway exit on CA101 (the Bayshore Freeway), the directions to Sophie's were easy from anywhere in the South Bay or the Peninsula, near or far.
(Palo Alto note: almost all advertising for Sophie's and Keystone Palo Alto says "260 California" when in fact the address was 260 South California. North California Avenue was across the train tracks, and not a commercial district. Anyone who says "260 South California" instead of "260 California" is just a Palo Altan signaling to his or her own kind. Which, admittedly, is what I'm doing)
Sophie's, January 1975
Sophie's opened on January 8, 1975. The Palo Alto Times had a feature article, with a picture of then 32-year old Ken Rominger. The plan, as described in the paper, was that Sophie's would be a restaurant and bar that was open seven nights a week, featuring jazz, folk and rock music. Wednesday night was reserved for "touring acts," and weekends were for Bay Area bands. The implication was that the other nights were for jazz, folk or Top 40 cover bands.
The reality was slightly different. Touring bands typically played Wednesday nights, but touring schedules didn't work out that neatly. For the rest of the nights, Sophie's pretty much just booked rock groups. The weekend favored local bands who played mostly original material, but Sophie's was pretty much a rock club. Of course, it being the Bay Area and all, "local bands" included Jerry Garcia and some other higher profile bands, so Sophie's had a bit higher profile than a local dance club. Truthfully, however, Sophie's was kind of like The Bodega, a local dance and hangout, with the occasional "name" band, whether local or out-of-town.
|Keystone Berkeley, at 2119 University, as it appeared in the early 80s|
Bay Area Rock Nightclubs in 1976
By 1976, live rock music was a bigger business than ever, dominated in the Bay Area by Bill Graham Presents. BGP booked all the big touring rock bands in Winterland, Oakland Coliseum, Cow Palace and even the Oakland Stadium. One tier below that, however, the rock nightclub business had been booming the previous few years. As rock fans got a little older, and got jobs, they didn't always want to be in some giant barn with 5,000 or 15,000 or 55,000 other fans. A lot of them were more than willing to pay a few extra dollars, grab some drinks, and get a close up look at a band they really wanted to see. There were a number of choices around the Bay for original music, all favoring a different slice of the market.
Berkeley had many of the higher profile clubs:
- Keystone Berkeley (2119 University) was a beer joint near campus, but it a lot of good bands played there. Jerry Garcia, Elvin Bishop, Commander Cody and Tower of Power were among the regular performers. Touring acts played there regularly. The club was open several nights a week, and loud, bluesy guitar solos were the order of the day. It held about 500 people, although regular patrons insist that the number was exceeded on many occasions.
- West Dakota (1505 San Pablo), formerly the New Orleans House, held about 250 people. West Dakota wasn't big enough to pay most touring acts, but a lot of good local bands played there.
- The Freight and Salvage (1827 San Pablo) was the premier folk club, highly regarded, but of course tiny.
- The Old Waldorf (444 Battery) had just moved from the Western Addition to downtown. It had parking, seats and a nice bar, and was slowly becoming the record company "showcase" for new acts that they were promoting
- The Boarding House (960 Bush) was much-beloved, but tiny (capacity 250-300) and hard to get to
and park. Acoustic acts and comedy worked best there, since it couldn't
pay well enough for a big ensemble, but it had its moments. The Tubes had played there for two weeks in Summer 1975, for example.
- The Great American Music Hall (859 O'Farrell) had originally been a jazz club, but had expanded its footprint to include soul, folk and other kinds of music, as long as it was "Americana.” Possibly the GAMH held as many as 500, but unlike the Keystone Berkeley, they didn't pack them in like sardines.
There were a few other smaller clubs: for jazz, the Keystone Korner (750 Vallejo) in San Francisco, for rock and soul, The Orphanage (807 Montgomery), and some smaller places out of town, like The Inn Of The Beginning (Cotati, Sonoma County)
The Missing Link
What's notable about this list of nightclubs, however, was that there was really nowhere for rock bands to play in the South Bay. San Jose was a big city, yes, but there weren't any rock nightclubs. The Bodega had original bands on Thursday nights, as did the Odyssey Room in Campbell on Mondays, but they were both primarily Top 40 beer joints for dancing.
The bands with records that were playing clubs needed places to play. Whether they were Bay Area bands, or bands on tour, they couldn't play multiple nights in the same city. The South Bay was wide open, however, and by 1976 it was clear that those bands needed somewhere to perform. While Sophie's was initially conceived as a beer joint for dancing--and indeed, most nights it was one--it was the best choice for a booking by a rock band looking both to expand their audience and needing a payday.
|David Kramer-Smyth found this "pre-launch" ad for Sophie's in the November 8, 1974 Palo Alto Times. Notice that it emphasizes food and drink as much as music, and doesn't claim to be a rock club per se|
There were plenty of working stiffs, fresh off a shift from the phone company or a defense contractor manufacturing plant, who were in easy range of California Avenue. But California Avenue was in easy range of downtown Palo Alto, too. So there were plenty of young guys coding at these new companies, or selling "software," as it was called, and they listened to KSAN. They would go up to San Francisco for a big show, sure, but they didn't really want to just go dancing. They wanted to see a band with a record, something they could tell their friends about at work, maybe a chance to tell them in a few years that you saw The So-And-Sos "on their way up."
If someone had decided to open a nightclub in 1976 in
the South Bay that would be part of the Keystone Berkeley/Old
Waldorf/Boarding House axis, and they had looked at a map, California
Avenue would have been just about perfect. Sophie's was already there,
and they had been open since 1975. Acts started to get booked there,
first a few and then a lot. Tickets were available in advance from BASS,
the new computerized ticket service, another mark of stability. After a
while, it may have seemed inevitable. Maybe it was.
Sophie's, 260 South California Avenue, Palo Alto, CA
Performance List 1976January 6, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Fever (Tuesday)
Sophie's was open six or seven nights a week (not always on Monday). I think there was a band every night. On weeknights, if there wasn't a "name" band, there was no cover. On weekends, there would be a $1.00 cover charge, just to keep out riff-raff (there wasn't much in the way of riff-raff in Palo Alto in those days, but still). For the most part, bands would play regularly on a given night of the week. Fever was a Palo Alto band. They definitely played some original music, but I think they also played some covers. Fever held down Tuesdays.
As a practical matter, I have only listed shows where I can find a listing in the newspaper, which is mostly the San Francisco Examiner or the Palo Alto Times.
I am confident that I have just about all the listings for "name"
bands, but the regular weeknight stuff is somewhat random, depending on
what the Examiner or Times posted in their listing. Since bands played the
same night week after week, I wouldn't assume we are missing anything
interesting on the nights where I haven't found anything noted for
January 7, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Garcia Brothers (Wednesday)
To answer the obvious question: no. The Garcia Brothers, whoever they might have been, were booked regularly in all the South Bay beer joints, particularly The Bodega, which was also managed by Ken Rominger. At this time, the Garcia Brothers held down Wednesday night at Sophie's.
update: thanks to David Kramer-Smyth, we know that Lucky (keyboards) and Gig Garcia (guitar) were originally from Chicago, and had been performing since 1973. The Garcia Brothers are still playing, and describe their music as "Tropical Rock," a combination of rock, reggae, Latin and soul music.
|James Booker's 1976 album Junco Partner, released on Joe Boyd's Hannibal label|
January 9-10, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Jerry Garcia Band (Friday-Saturday)
Jerry Garcia, a Palo Alto homeboy of sorts, had played Sophie's three times in 1975. Garcia mostly played the Keystone Berkeley, as well as some shows in San Francisco. In September of '75, Garcia had unveiled a new band name, The Jerry Garcia Band. The new lineup had featured Nicky Hopkins on piano, along with Ron Tutt on drums and the perennial John Kahn on bass. Since all Garcia ensembles were notoriously under-rehearsed, it was his general preference to open "out of town." Thus, the very first performance of the Jerry Garcia Band (proper) had been at Sophie's, so Palo Alto qualified as outside of Garcia's usual orbit. I'm not guessing--the band's remaining September dates were at tiny places in Sacramento and Marin (River City in Fairfax), prior to some high profile concerts in October.
By January of 1976, however, the Jerry Garcia Band had just ended their experiment with the great Nicky Hopkins as pianist. Hopkins' talent was undeniable, but he was too erratic a personality, with too many apparent demons impeding his play. Garcia, bassist John Kahn and drummer Ron Tutt decided to replace Hopkins with someone who was one of the few players who was probably a better pianist than Hopkins, but even more difficult. Once again, Garcia chose Sophie's so that the new Jerry Garcia Band could open out of town.
For the new pianist, Kahn had recommended the great New Orleans legend James Booker, "The Bayou Maharajah." There's no way I can summarize the strange intersection between Booker and Garcia, as it would take an entire post of it's own. Fortunately, I have already written that post. Booker and Garcia was a great idea, and there is exactly no way it would ever succeed. The lucky Palo Altans who saw these shows saw a strange, but memorable event.
January 13, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Fever (Tuesday)
January 14, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Garcia Brothers (Wednesday)
Bold Truth was another bar band, presumably a little lower on the heirarchy at this time since they appeared on a Monday night. Bold Truth played funk and disco music, somewhat in the style of the Sons Of Champlin. They were an East Bay group, with the key members having come from Bishop O'Dowd High School in Oakland (per FB, they seem to have had a full-band reunion in 2011).
January 20, 1976 Sophie's Palo Alto, CA: Kingfish (Tuesday)
The January 20 (Tuesday) SF Examiner lists Kingfish, an established band featuring Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead, and Dave Torbert, formerly of the New Riders Of The Purple Sage. This seems to supersede Fever (with a regular Tuesday night gig), although Fever very likely opened. The Sunday (January 18) Chronicle BASS tickets ad says Kingfish would play January 21-22 (Wed-Thur), but the band isn't listed on those nights in the Examiner. There is no definitive answer. It seems certain that Kingfish played Sophie's this week, possibly twice, somewhere from Tuesday to Thursday (20-22).
January 21, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Garcia Brothers (Wednesday)
I wonder if Kingfish actually played this night? It's likely that a band with a regular residency would have just been the opener if there was a better known headliner. Being announced as "The Garcia Brothers" at a Bob Weir gig...
January 28, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Chambers Brothers (Wednesday)
There is a little confusion around this date, magnified by the fact that Sophie's shows were neither advertised nor reviewed. The SF Examiner would list the Sophie's shows on their Entertainment page, but it was on a space available basis, and wasn't always accurate (since it was based on press release or a phone call). The Examiner mentions the Wednesday show by the Chambers Brothers at Sophie's in the Sunday (Jan 25) and Tuesday (Jan 27) papers. On Wednesday (Jan 28), however, Chuck Mangione is listed at Sophie's. Other papers list Chuck Mangione at Keystone Berkeley on Wednesday. All of the papers list Chambers Brothers as playing West Dakota in Berkeley as well, but that date, too, moves around.
For this narrative, the key point was that the
Chambers Brothers were booked at in both Berkeley (West Dakota) and
Palo Alto on consecutive days (whichever days they were). The Chambers Brothers
had been on the folk circuit in the early 60s, and then hit it big with
"Time Has Come Today" (y'know--"My soul's been psychedelicized!") in
1968. They still had a following, but they were past their prime.
January 30-31, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Garcia Brothers (Friday-Saturday)
Note the Garcia Brothers playing on a weekend, since there wasn't a high profile act. The cover charge was apparently $1.00.
February 4, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Pablo Cruise (Wednesday)
The band Pablo Cruise played Sophie's three Wednesday nights in February. Unlike other resident weeknight bands, Pablo Cruise had already released their first album on A&M Records back in August 1975. Their second album, Lifeline, was due in April, so these gigs were probably a chance for the band to work on performing their new material.
In fact, the key member of Pablo Cruise was from Palo Alto. Pianist Cory Lerios had gone to Palo Alto High School. Lerios had been in a band that had played the free concerts at Lytton Plaza back in '68 and '69, along with drummer Steve Price, and then both Lerios and Price had ended up in Stoneground. They left Stoneground in 1973 to form Pablo Cruise with guitarist David Jenkins and bassist Bud Cockrell (ex-It's A Beautiful Day). It was the third Pablo Cruise album, A Place In The Sun, released in 1977, that would really make the band.
February 11, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Pablo Cruise (Wednesday)
February 12-14, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Snail (Thursday-Saturday)
Snail was a four-piece, twin guitar band from Santa Cruz, with Bob O'Neill and Ken Kraft leading the way on guitars and vocals. The band had formed as a trio (with O'Neill) back in 1968, so they were well-established in Santa Cruz. Snail held down a regular Wednesday night gig at The Bodega. They would go on to release two pretty good albums, the first one released in 1978 on Cream Records.
February 15, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Jerry Garcia Band (Sunday)
The Jerry Garcia Band returned on a Sunday night. James Booker had been replaced by Keith and Donna Godchaux, far more stable band-mates than either Nicky Hopkins or James Booker. Garcia particularly liked including Donna's vocals as part of his ensemble. Garcia would mostly have female backing vocalists in the Jerry Garcia Band for the balance of his career. The Godchauxs had debuted at a few shows in Keystone Berkeley in January and February.
February 16, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Snail (Monday)
Snail returned for another night. Santa Cruz County was less than an hour from California Avenue, so this was a local gig for Snail.
February 18, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Pablo Cruise (Wednesday)
|Stanford Daily ad for Sophie's, February 27 1976|
February 27-28, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Snail (Friday-Saturday)
March 3, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Terry Garthwaite (Wednesday)
Guitarist/songwriter Terry Garthwaite had been one of the leaders of Berkeley's Joy Of Cooking, along with pianist/singer Toni Brown. Garthwaite was solo now, although she sometimes played with Toni Brown, too.
I am assuming that all the regulars--Fever, Bold Truth, Garcia Brothers, and so on--were playing every night, but I don't have listings for them.March 5-6, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Freddie King (Friday-Saturday)
The blues weren't as cool now, and mostly played to white audiences, but Palo Alto was a more fruitful place to fill a weeknight booking than clubs in African American neighborhoods that had stopped booking the blues a long time ago. Freddie King had been signed by Leon Russell's Shelter Records label in 1971, and had gotten some well-deserved attention from white hippie rock fans. Great as Freddie was, however, he never got over the top. By this time, Freddie had released two albums on RSO, probably on the word of Eric Clapton. Sadly, Freddie King would die of a heart attack in December, 1976, just 34 years old.
March 10, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: James Cotton Blues Band (Wednesday)
James Cotton was a great performer, and had been playing for white audiences at the Fillmore since November 1966. James Cotton and Lightning Hopkins were booked at Keystone Berkeley on Friday and Saturday (March 12-13), so a booking on a weeknight helped pay the bills. This booking was a hint that Freddie Herrera at the Keystone Berkeley was working with Ken Rominger at Sophie's.
played a lot of soul along with the blues, so anybody who wanted to
dance would have been well served by Cotton and his band.
March 11, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Lightnin' Hopkins (Thursday)
Lightning Hopkins, too, had been playing for white hippie audiences since 1965 at the Matrix (he had headlined then over a new band called "Jefferson Airplane"). With a weekend gig upcoming, a Thursday night booking filled out his week. I wouldn't be surprised if a regular bar band came on afterwards for dancing.
March 12-13, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Taj Mahal (Friday-Saturday)
Taj Mahal had been part of the Cambridge/Greenwich Village folk scene in the early 60s, but he had moved to Los Angeles by 1965. He had started the groundbreaking Rising Sons band, with Ry Cooder. By 1968, Taj had been signed as a solo artist by Columbia, and his debut featured some hot slide guitar by both Cooder and Jesse Ed Davis. Taj Mahal had introduced a lot of hippies to blues music, some of it quite imaginatively presented. Still, Taj was more of an aggregator than an original. He always played a good show, but he was outshone by other performers as the 70s wore on. Still, he had enough of a following to headline a weekend in the suburbs.
March 16, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Together (Tuesday)
Together is unknown to me. There had been a 60s Palo Alto band called Together, but it featured Cory Lerios and Steve Price, now of Pablo Cruise, so it's unlikely it was the same group.
March 18-20, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Fever (Thursday-Saturday)
Fever had moved up from Tuesday nights, back in January, to Thursdays, and in this case the whole weekend.
March 23, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Together (Tuesday)
Kenny Rankin was a jazz-influenced folk singer. He sometimes appeared with a jazzy combo, but often appeared solo as well. He had released his debut album Mind Dusters on Mercury in 1967. His most recent album was Inside, his fifth album.
March 25, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Fever (Thursday)
March 26-27, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Gary Smith Band (Friday-Saturday)
The Gary Smith Band were a regular act at The Bodega. They also played at various clubs around the Bay Area. In the past they had been billed as The Gary Smith Blues Band. Smith played harmonica and sang, fronting a Paul Butterfield-styled group with twin guitars. In 1975, guitarist Dave Gonzalez had left to form the Jackson Street Band, and Smith had added saxophonist Ken Baker. I don't know precisely who was in the Smith band at this time (the '75 lineup also had Mike Mondello on guitar, Russell Ferrante-piano, Johnny Moon-drum, Steve Gomes-bass).
March 30, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Together (Tuesday)
Marin County's Sons Of Champlin were in their eleventh year together. The founding pair of Bill Champlin (lead vocals and organ) and Terry Haggerty (lead guitar) had been there at the beginning, and Geoff Palmer (keyboards, vibes) had joined in 1967. The other members (Jim Preston on drums, David Schallock on bass, with Michael Andreas, Mark Isham and Phil Wood on horns) were more recent, but they had all logged a lot of time together. The Sons always got great reviews and had a loyal fan base, but they couldn't get over a certain level of popularity.
The Sons had released a number of fine albums in the 60s and 70s, but record companies had lost interest. So the Sons took the step of releasing their own album in 1974, a step many other local bands were taking, and it revitalized interest in the band, and got them signed to Ariola Records. Later in 1976, they would release their first album on Ariola, Loving Is Why. The Sons were as sophisticated as ever, but they were emphasizing some funkier R&B sounds underneath the flying solos of Haggerty, Palmer and the horn section. They had played Keystone Berkeley numerous times. They had also played a lot of shows in the Palo Alto area, so they had a local following.
April 13, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Bold Truth (Tuesday)
April 14, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Gary Smith Band (Wednesday)
April 15-17, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Fever (Thursday-Saturday)
April 20, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Bold Truth (Tuesday)
April 21, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Gary Smith Band (Wednesday)
April 22, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Fever (Thursday)
April 23-24, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Snail (Friday-Saturday)
April 27, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA; Bold Truth (Tuesday)
April 28, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Gary Smith Band (Wednesday)
I do not know why there were no listings in the SF Examiner for Sophie's for April, May and June. Without going too deep, I think the main reason has to do with the Examiner listings themselves. I also think that there weren't any notable acts, or at least not many, at Sophie's during this period. David Kramer-Smyth found these April to June listings in the Fremont Argus.
April 29, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Fever (Thursday)
April 30-May 1, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Gary Smith Band (Friday-Saturday)
May 25, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Kenny Rankin (Wednesday)June 4-5, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Kingfish Quartet (Friday-Saturday)
Kingfish played some gigs around the Bay Area as a quartet, without Weir. They were anticipating his return to the Grateful Dead.
June 11-12, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Skycreek (Friday-Saturday)
June 17, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Gary Smith Band (Thursday)
June 18-19, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Fever (Friday-Saturday)
June 25-26, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Gary Smith Band (Friday-Saturday)
July 8, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Nimbus (Thursday)
Nimbus was a band from the Hayward/Fremont area. They went back to the late 1960s, and I saw them in 1978. They weren't bad, but they never made a record as far as I know.
July 15, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Gary Smith Band (Thursday)
July 16-17, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Jackson Street Band (Friday-Saturday)
The Jackson Street Band were also regulars at The Bodega and similar clubs. They were lead by guitarist Dave Gonzalez, formerly of the Gary Smith Band.
July 22, 1976 Sophie's Palo Alto, CA: Gary Smith Band (Thursday)
July 23-24, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Skycreek (Friday-Saturday)
Skycreek are unknown to me. Based on their bookings, appeared to be a country rock band.
July 30-31, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Albert King (Friday-Saturday)
Albert King had been a crucial figure in the Blues Revival of the 1960s, all the more so since Cream had recorded his song "Born Under A Bad Sign." Many, perhaps most, rock guitar fans would have acknowledged Albert as a blues legend, but he was no longer playing arenas. Now, he probably made good money playing a weekend at Sophie's, but it wasn't as high profile as headlining a weekend at The Fillmore. Although Albert King was doing what he always did, his live performances were always strong, featuring his great guitar playing and soulful vocals.
Albert King was playing two shows at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco on Wednesday, July 28. Since there was no competing South Bay club, however, a booking in Palo Alto made sense. At this time, Albert King had left Stax Records (which in fact had gone bankrupt), and had released some albums with an independent label Utopia.
August 2-3, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Roger McGuinn's Thunderbird (Monday-Tuesday)
Roger McGuinn was a major rock music figure since his 60s success with The Byrds. He was widely respected by other musicians, most notably Bob Dylan, and popular with rock critics. He had gone solo after the Byrds had ground to a halt in 1973, but his records hadn't really sold. In May, 1976 McGuinn had released his fourth solo album, Cardiff Rose. The album was produced by Mick Ronson, of David Bowie fame, and featured Ronson and other members of Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue (David Mansfield, Rob Stoner and Howie Wyeth). Befitting McGuinn's historic stature, Cardiff Rose featured unreleased songs by Dylan ("Up To Me") and Joni Mitchell ("Dreamland").
McGuinn was setting out on a national tour to support Cardiff Rose, and he had a new road band. Palo Alto was still sufficiently out-of-the-way that he could have some warmup gigs on weeknights. The band featured the great Jesse Ed Davis on lead guitar, and Lost Planet Airmen Lance Dickerson on drums and Bruce Barlow on bass, (along with one James Q Smith, probably guitarist James Quill Smith). The tour probably wasn't long, since the Airmen would have had to return for any Commander Cody gigs.
August August 6-7, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Chris Hillman/Skycreek (Friday-Saturday)
Chris Hillman, another ex-Byrd, just like McGuinn, had also started his "solo" career. Hillman had been an original member of The Byrds (1965-68), then a founder of The Flying Burrito Brothers (1968-72), then Stephen Stills Manassas (1972-74) and the Souther Hillman Furay Band (1975-76). His first solo album was Slippin' Away, for Asylum Records in 1976. Hillman, too, was using Sophie's in Palo Alto as an out-of-town gig to get his band in order.
August 10, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Etta James (Tuesday)
Etta James (1938-2012) was a rhythm and blues legend. She had a complex, up and down career. In 1976, she was still on Chess Records, and her current album was Etta Is Bettah Then Evah!
August 11-13, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Lily Tomlin/Cris Williamson (Wednesday-Friday)
Lily Tomlin had become nationally famous in the 60s on the NBC show Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In. Tomlin had joined the hit show in 1969 (which had debuted in 1968), essentially replacing Judy Carne. Tomlin immediately became famous with characters like "Ernestine," the telephone operator ("We're the phone company, and we don't care"). It is difficult to overstate how ubiquitous National TV performers were at the time--almost everybody would have recognized Tomlin's comic characters.
From that point of view, it was remarkable that Tomlin would play an unheralded club in suburban Palo Alto. Tomlin had recently headlined a show at the 7500-capacity Concord Pavilion (on July 28). To compare her to the only other big star to play Sophie's, Lily Tomlin was better known than Jerry Garcia at this point (funnier, too). Presumably Tomlin wanted to work on new material, or do something different (just like Jerry). Once Tomlin had completed her headline gig at Concord, the show at Sophie's could then be officially announced (her contract would have prevented any official notification before that, a standard clause).
August 14, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Asleep At The Wheel (Saturday)
Asleep At The Wheel had been founded by guitarist and singer Ray Benson in the Washington, DC area around 1970. He put together a fairly large ensemble that played Western Swing music with a long-haired hippie sensibility. By 1971, they were based in Paw Paw, WV. In 1972 they opened for Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, perhaps the only other band remotely similar to them, and the Airmen encouraged them to move to Oakland, which they did. Asleep at The Wheel played almost every night in the Bay Area from 1972-74, at the Keystone Berkeley, Homer's Warehouse, the Long Branch and numerous other joints. In 1974, Benson and Asleep At The Wheel moved to Austin, TX, where they have thrived to this very day.
Nonetheless, when they reappeared in the Bay Area on their endless touring, I'm confident they could still pack them in. Their current album would have been Wheelin' and Dealin', released on Capitol Records in 1976. It would have been the band's second album on Capitol, but their fourth overall (with one on UA and another on Epic). The Wheel typically toured with three fiddles and a horn section, so they could really light up a club.
|The Palo Alto Times (Aug 17) enthusiastically wrote up Sasha And Yuri's upcoming show at Sophie's on August 19, 1976. The Soviet Union was still mysterious to Americans.|
August 19, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Sasha And Yuri (Thursday)
In 1976, The Iron Curtain was a real thing, and life behind it was mysterious. Sasha Lerman and Yuri Valov were Jewish immigrants from Moscow (24 and 26, respectively) who had arrived in the Bay Area a few months earlier. In the Soviet Union, they had played guitars and sang in an underground rock and roll band. The pair teamed up with two Latvians and an American guitarist to form Sasha And Yuri. The Palo Alto Times enthusiastically promoted their Peninsula debut.
I saw Sasha and Yuri in Sproul Plaza right around this time. They were competent and enjoyable, but not special. They did sing "Boney Maronie" with an enthusiasm that no contemporary American could have matched.
August 21, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Kenny Rankin (Saturday)
|Sophie's was really the only club option in the South Bay, and its offerings were eclectic (Palo Alto Times ad August 8, 1976)|
September 1, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: The Ramones (Wednesday)
Palo Alto prides itself on being cutting edge, but no matter what anyone tells you, it wasn't a punk rock town. There weren't punks, there weren't punk rock concerts, it just wasn't Palo Alto. The few Palo Altans intrigued by punk (such as the future co-editor of The Oxford Handbook Of Punk Rock) had to export themselves temporarily or permanently to San Francisco or Berkeley. So I'm confident that this concert was thinly attended, although those few who probably went (looking at you, Clay) are probably still dining out on it.
The Ramones debut album had been released on Sire Records in April 1976. More people had read about the Ramones than had actually heard them. Although they seem like a cartoon today--rightly so--their leather jackets were considered faintly menacing.
September 7, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Michael Dinner (Tuesday)
The Palo Alto Times described Michael Dinner as a "singer-guitarist." Apparently the gig was part of a national tour.
September 10-11, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Grinderswitch (Friday-Saturday)
Grinderswitch was a bluesy ensemble from Macon, GA, founded by former Allman Brothers Band roadie Joe Dan Petty. Not surprisingly, they were signed to Capricorn Records, and would have just released their third album Pullin' Together. They weren't a bad band, but they never managed to break out of the second tier. Besides Petty on bass and Dru Lombar and Larry Howard on guitars, this configuration included ex-Elvin Bishop Group organist Stephen Miller.
have any evidence of any other performers at Sophie's for the balance
of August or September. I don't read anything into that one way or
another--it may have to do with the SF Examiner--but in general I
have reason to take it that no major or interesting acts played there. I
think the regular run of house bands played each night.
SF Examiner's guide to nightclubs summarizes Sophie's on September 9,
1976. Compare it to the description of The Bodega (above), in suburban
San Jose, run by the same management|
Sophie's, 260 California. Tuesday through Saturday. Rock, jazz, country music, a place which is always experimenting. Since their schedule changes, check before going. Also has big-name entertainment, such as Lily Tomlin. On Fridays and Saturdays, $1 cover charge. For name entertainment, cover charge varies, advance tickets necessary. Singles and couples, all ages.
|Bud E Love (contemporary of Bobby Bitman), aka Bob Vickers|
October 8-9, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Dick Bright (Friday-Saturday)
Dick Bright was--and, to my knowledge, remains--a true San Francisco character. Bright was a talented, well-trained classical violinist. He played many sessions in Bay Area studios as a violinist-for-hire. He was also an hilarious guy with an acute knowledge of current popular music. His main live gig was in a band called Little Roger and The Goosebumps. The Goosebumps were a poppy rock group with an arch sense of humor. Their showstopper was a version of the theme song to the TV show "Gilligan's Island," done to the tune of "Stairway To Heaven." I saw the Goosebumps open at Winterland (for Thin Lizzy and Graham Parker), and when they did "Stairway To Gilligan's Island" the house went batshit crazy (I can't link it, because the song was blocked for copyright reasons--but you gotta trust me).
Based on the chronology, however, I suspect that this booking was a test run of a unique aggregation called Dick Bright and The Highballs. Around 1978-79, Dick Bright and The Highballs mainly--perhaps exclusively--played The Red Chimney Lounge in the Stonestown Shopping Mall in South San Francisco. It being 1978, and all, middle-aged velour coated gentlemen and their dates enthusiastically supported the Highballs as they worked their way through the AM pop hits of the day. A few knowing people in the corner (Dick Bright's girlfriend, her best friend--my girlfriend--and some other knuckleheads) would chuckle away at the over-the-top schtick. When they played a Pablo Cruise song, Dick would brag about how he knew Pablo (Bright indeed knew the band, but of course there was no "Pablo Cruise"). Such explicit irony could not be pulled off today.
Besides Bright, the front man for Dick Bright and The Highballs was "Bud E Luv." the Nom Du Lounge of Bob Vickers. Vickers was actually an excellent singer in a variety of styles, but he somehow embodied the schmaltz of lounge singing with a fondness that made his performance both a parody and a homage at the same time. Bud E Luv would front the band, while Bright would act as a sort of foil and a narrator.
[update 16 February '23: I was partially correct. DKS found a review in the October 14 Stanford Daily. Little Roger and The Goosebumps played an opening set, and the balance of the show was a parody of The Tonight Show with Dick Bright as Johnny Carson's "Guest Host." A version of this show had been put on at The Boarding House. Some of the Tonight Show schtick would also turn up in the Dick Bright and The Highballs lounge show. There was good reason to think that the Boarding House show was an influence on Martin Mull's Fernwood 2Night TV show).
October 13-14, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Jean-Luc Ponty (Wednesday-Thursday)
Jean-Luc Ponty was a French, classically trained violinist who loved jazz, so he switched to electric violin and embarked on a unique career starting about 1967. In 1969, he had come to California to record and perform with the George Duke Trio, and Frank Zappa heard Ponty (not to mention George Duke). Ponty recorded and later performed with Zappa and The Mothers of Invention off and on from 1969-73.
In 1973, Ponty had
joined the premier "fusion" band, John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu
Orchestra. Mahavishnu was very high profile, and rightly so, and Ponty
became well-known in a genre were musical excellence was highly
regarded. Ponty recorded for Atlantic, and had a high profile as a band
leader as well. Aurora, on Atlantic, had been his third album, released in February '76. For this tour, although Ponty's new album Imaginary Voyage
would not be released until November, I assume he was touring with that
lineup. Ponty had a great band--Daryl Steurmer (later in Genesis) on
lead guitar, Zappa alumni Tom Fowler on bass, Alan Zavod (future Zappa
bandmember) on keyboards and Mark Craney on drums.
Country Joe McDonald, of course, had been an anchor of the San Francisco Fillmore scene in the 60s. In conjunction with his partner, Barry "The Fish" Melton, Country Joe had led Berkeley's Country Joe and The Fish band to psychedelic success, culminating in the famous "Fish Cheer" at Woodstock. By 1975, however, like many Fillmore West stalwarts, McDonald had gone solo and had a new, radio-friendly career. McDonald's 1975 Fantasy album Paradise With An Ocean View had some songs that got huge play on FM radio. All Bay Area rock fans recognized "Save The Whales," "Breakfast For Two" or "Oh Jamaica."
However, McDonald's 1976 follow-up, Love Is A Fire,
wasn't nearly so successful. Still, McDonald was a good choice to
headline a weekend in Palo Alto. There were old hippies who wanted to
hear "Section 43" again, and newer fans who liked his hit album. With no
other clubs in the South Bay, Sophie's was about the only choice.
October 20, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Ace (Wednesday)
Presumably, on nights where I can find no listings, the usual local bands were taking their turns at Sophie's, and the locals would show up to drink beer and dance. Still, there were a few more bookings in October. On this Wednesday, the headliner was the English band Ace, although by this time the group had moved to Los Angeles
People of a certain age have Ace's hit single "How Long" ("How long/Has this been going on") drilled into their skull. The hit, from the band's debut album, was monstrously huge. Ace was made up of guys who had been in other bands, so they were pros, but "How Long" was simply too big to ever top. Ace, sharing management with Yes, toured America and played big arenas back in '75, but they never really recovered.
Their second album Time For Another had followed up their debut later in 1975. Ace would release their third album No Strings in in early 1977 (all three albums had been on Anchor Records). The author (and lead singer) of "How Long" was keyboard player Paul Carrack, who would go on to other successes with Squeeze and Mike And The Mechanics. "How Long," which appeared to be a song about a girlfriend's infidelity, was actually inspired by Ace bass player Tex Comer secretly rehearsing with another group. The line about "your friends of a fancy persuasion" was a reference to that other band's management. The other group (if you've read this far, you probably care) was Sutherland Brothers And Quiver. Tex Comer, in fact, never left Ace and would still have been in the band at this time.
|The October 29 Fremont Argus included a review of Neil Young and Crazy Horse at The Bodega in Campbell on the previous Saturday (Oct 23 '76). Ken Rominger owned both The Bodega and Sophie's|
October 23, 1976 The Bodega, Campbell, CA: Neil Young and Crazy Horse (Saturday)
While strictly speaking this show is out of scope, its relevant to the tale in a way. As noted, Ken Rominger's other club was The Bodega in suburban Campbell, about 20 miles South of Sophie's. It was basically a beer joint, although "name" bands played there on some weeknights. On this Saturday night, however, nearby resident Neil Young invited himself to the Bodega to play three electric sets, apparently to ensure that his voice was ready for upcoming concerts. The show was enthusiastically reviewed by Fremont Argus critics Kathi Staska and George Mangum (writing as "KG").
Neil is Neil, however, so it's hard to always discern his motives. Nonetheless, there were very few South Bay club choices to try out Crazy Horse. Neil played three tiny Mountain joints (including the infamous Boots N Saddle in La Honda), then The Bodega and then the Catalyst in Santa Cruz (then at 833 Pacific Ave).
October 28-30, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Maria Muldaur (Thursday-Saturday)
A sign of Freddie Herrera's hand in booking can be seen by Maria Muldaur playing a weekend in October and weekdays in November at Sophie's. Muldaur had succeeded with a huge hit with "Midnight At The Oasis" in 1974, which she would never top. She was a great performer, though, and still very popular. With respect to Freddie Herrera and the Keystone, however, Maria Muldaur's musical director was her boyfriend John Kahn. Kahn didn't always play in her band, but he helped choose the musicians.
Kahn's main gig, of course, was acting as Straw Boss for the Jerry Garcia Band, where he was also musical director. Jerry had the final word, of course, but it was Kahn who found his musicians. Even though Maria Muldaur had a new record on Warner Brothers (Sweet Harmony), there was a direct link between Muldaur and Garcia in John Kahn, and his links to Herrera went back to 1969 and the Keystone Korner.
November 8, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Jerry Garcia Band (Monday)
In November 1976, we see a rare"display ad" for Sophie's. I don't actually know where the ad was run, but the fact that it exists was a sign that the club was expanding beyond just being a watering hole for local drinkers who wanted to dance. I presume all the regular local bands were playing each night, but this ad was to entice regular rock fans to take a look at who was playing Sophie's. Keep in mind, the Jerry Garcia Band would pack the house on a Monday night, so what would have been a dark night was now hugely profitable--such was the Garcia effect on Bay Area nightclubs.
In 2016, the Jerry Garcia Estate released the double-cd Garcia Live: Volume Seven: November 8, 1976 Sophie's Palo Alto. The album was a Betty Cantor-Jackson recording of the entire show.November 10, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Spirit/Gasolin' (Wednesday)
The Stanford Daily reviewed this show, although they weren't precise about the date. Spirit was now a trio, with guitarist Randy California and drummer Ed Cassidy. Gasolin' was a Danish band on their first (and I believe only) American tour. They were popular in Denmark, and kind of sounded like Mott The Hoople, but in a more pop vein.
November 12-13, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Bo Diddley (Friday-Saturday)
Bo Diddley was on tour, and he played a weekend at Sophie's For drinking and dancing, nothing is better than the Bo Diddley beat, so why not get it from the source?
November 16, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Jerry Garcia Band (Tuesday)
The Garcia Band returned on a Tuesday, another quiet night turning into a big moneymaker.
November 17-18, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Maria Muldaur (Wednesday-Thursday)
Maria Muldaur wouldn't have drawn like Garcia, but she would draw far more paying customers than a local dance band. It looks like Herrera had his big renovation coming up, and he was getting a little cash in the till before he closed the club for a while.
November 19-20, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Snail (Friday-Saturday)
Snail were probably the regular weekend band, although they seem to have been popular enough to mention in the ad. Maybe there was just an effort to ensure that everyone understood the club was open each weekend.
November 26-27, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Soul Syndicate (Friday-Saturday)
The ad says that Soul Syndicate were "from Kingston, Jamaica." I don't know why it didn't say "Reggae Music." As near as I can tell, the Soul Syndicate were sort of like a Booker T and The MGs for Jamaican reggae sessions. The band members backed numerous well known reggae singers, even if they weren't well known themselves.
There are no other listings in the Examiner for Sophie's until early 1977, when the club re-opened as The Keystone in Palo Alto. I know that Freddie Herrera and some partners undertook a $70,000 renovation to Sophie's--that's $70K in 1976 money, mind you--but I don't know for sure if Sophie's was closed for any of that time.December 31, 1976 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Courtial (Friday)
Courtial featured ex-Vince Guaraldi guitarist Bill Courtial, along with ex-Azteca singer Erroll Knowles. The Times described them as a blend of jazz, blues and funk. They had released the album It's About Time on Pipeline Records.
January 7-8, 1977 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Snail (Fri-Sat)
January 12-13, 1977 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: John Stewart (Wed-Thur)
January 14-15, 1977 Sophie's, Palo Alto, CA: Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen (Fri-Sat)
Nonetheless, in January of 1977 there was an ad in the Stanford Daily. All of these acts were local (Stewart lived in Marin County). It seems to have been a sort of "soft opening," waiting to replace the sign until the official opening weekend.
|The first Keystone Palo Alto calendar, from January 1977|
The Keystone, newly-remodeled, opened on Thursday, January 20, 1977, with the local band Sass. At the time, its formal name was "The Keystone," and it did not take on the "Keystone Palo Alto" name until July 1977. John Lee Hooker followed on Friday, with the Jerry Garcia Band officially christening the club on Sunday, January 23. A subsequent post will cover the fascinating and surprisingly turbulent first six months of the Keystone Palo Alto in 1977.
The official transfer deed from the January 11, 1977 Palo Alto Times. The official transfer took place on January 21, 1977. The Keystone Leasing business address was 2119 University Avenue, location of the Keystone Berkeley. Signatory Robert Corona became Freddie Herrera's partner in the Palo Alto club (and later The Stone).
|By September 2016, 260 South California Avenue was a condo complex|
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