Friday, July 27, 2012

Avalon Ballroom, 1268 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA

Capacity 500

Built in 1911 and called the Pucket Academy of Dance, the upstairs ballroom featured a wood dance floor, an L-shaped balcony, and mirrors, columns, gilded booths, and red-flocked wallpaper when Chet Helms took over and replaced the Irish dances.(4)

An original concert poster for the "Grand Opening" of the Avalon Ballroom (circa 1940's; Big Band Era), featuring headliner "Mercedita - The Cuban Bombshell", and is the only known copy to exist to the best of our knowledge and research (see bio info below).  The poster measures 13" x 10", is in EXCELLENT condition (flat; clean; unused; minor wear in spots), has a starting price of only $1499.99.

On September 11,1940, Frank Sinatra with The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra performed here and it was broadcast live on the radio.(9)

In 1946 Lu Watters' Yerba Buena Jazz Band performed here seven times from April 15 through May 27.(10)

The Avalon Ballroom is a music venue, in the Polk Gulch neighborhood of San Francisco, California, at 1268 Sutter Street, on the north side, one building east of the corner of Van Ness Avenue. The space operated from 1966 to 1968 and reopened in 2003.

An original concert poster for the "Grand Opening" of the Avalon Ballroom (circa 1940's; Big Band Era), featuring headliner "Mercedita - The Cuban Bombshell", and is the only known copy to exist to the best of our knowledge and research.  The poster measures 13" x 10", is in EXCELLENT condition (flat; clean; unused; minor wear in spots), has a starting price of only $1499.99
Opening Night, 1940's

The Avalon was founded by Robert E. Cohen, impresario Chet Helms and his music production company, Family Dog Productions, which had offices on Van Ness.
The Avalon occupied the two top floors of the multi-story building at 1268 Sutter. An L-shaped, second-floor balcony surrounded the first-floor along the south and western walls, and the dance area was in front of the elevated stage in the northeast corner where musicians performed. The entrance doors were downstairs, and opened onto Sutter Street.[2][3]
Bands were frequently booked to perform at the Avalon on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Big Brother and the Holding Company, which Helms organized around singer and performer Janis Joplin, performed here in Spring 1966.



Big Brother and the Holding Company, which Helms organized around singer and performer Janis Joplin, performed here in Spring 1966. It was Janis' first public appearance.(4)

The Family Dog maintained a hippie residential house that functioned as a commune at 1812 Bush Street, a block away from the Avalon, frequented by Helms and his friends. The Avalon was not as large as the Winterland Ballroom or The Fillmore, which had been used by Helms before Bill Graham allegedly violated their partnership agreements. However, the Avalon had the capacity of up to 500. The ballroom was 80 to 100 ft (24 to 30 m) by 160 to 180 feet (49 to 55 m). This area included the stage, which was 40 to 50 feet (12 to 15 m) wide. The dance floor could accommodate several hundred dancers. An omnipresent light show was created by several local lighting companies.
On January 29, 1967, it hosted the Mantra-Rock Dance musical event, organized by the local Hare Krishna temple, which featured Hare Krishna founder Bhaktivedanta Swami, along with Allen Ginsberg, The Grateful Dead, Moby Grape and Big Brother and the Holding Company, with Janis Joplin.[1]

The Avalon lost its lease in November 1968; Cohen and Helms moved on to other pursuits—Helms became an art dealer while still occasionally producing concerts. Cohen went on to form the national touring audio company, Bob Cohen Sound, that would tour with many former Avalon acts, and later founded Clearcom Intercom Systems.
The space was converted to the Regency 2 Movie Theatre, that operated until 2001.

In 2003, after learning from Stanley Mouse that the building was available, neo-hippie Steve Shirley (aka Morning Spring Rain) of the Hog Farm commune restored and re-opened the Avalon Ballroom as part of the Regency Center, a music hall and special-events space.[4]



Jerry performed here on(6)
5/19/66 Grateful Dead
5/28/66 Grateful Dead
6/10/66 Grateful Dead
6/11/66 Grateful Dead
8/19/66 Grateful Dead
8/20/66 Grateful Dead
9/16/66 Grateful Dead
9/17/66 Grateful Dead
10/15/66 Big Brother And The Holding Company(5)
10/16/66  "New Peanut Butter Sandwich" event which saw Pigpen and Jerry perform with David Getz (BBHC): drums; David Freiberg (QMS): bass; ?? (Sir Douglas Quintet): rhythm guitar; Gary Duncan (QMS): guitar; John Cipollina (QMS): guitar;?? ("negro blues singer"): ??.(5)(7)(8)
11/4/66 Grateful Dead
11/5/66 Grateful Dead
11/13/66 Grateful Dead
12/23/66 Grateful Dead
12/24/66 Grateful Dead
1/27/67 Grateful Dead
1/28/67 Grateful Dead
1/29/67 Grateful Dead
3/5/67 Grateful Dead
3/20/68 Grateful Dead
3/24/66 Grateful Dead(5)
3/25/66 Grateful Dead(5)
3/26/66 Grateful Dead(5)
8/28/68 Grateful Dead
10/11/68 Grateful Dead
10/12/68 Grateful Dead
10/13/68 Grateful Dead
1/24/69 Grateful Dead
1/25/69 Grateful Dead
1/26/69 Grateful Dead
4/4/69 Grateful Dead
4/5/69 Grateful Dead
4/6/69 Grateful Dead





1.)^ Bromley, David G.; Shinn, Larry D. (1989), Krishna consciousness in the West, Bucknell University Press, p. 106
2.)^Graham, Bill; Robert Greenfield (2004). Bill Graham Presents: My Life Inside Rock and Out. New York: Da Capo Press. 
3.)^Selvin, Joel (1996). San Francisco, the Musical History Tour: A Guide to Over 200 of the Bay Area's most memorable music sites. San Francisco: Chronicle Books.
4.)^Joel Selvin (April 22, 2003). "Avalon's Spirits Rising Restored Music Hall Holds The City's Past". San Francisco Chronicle.  
5.)^Yellow Shark, 2012-07-28, Comments, Jerry's Brokendown Palaces.com
6.)^http://www.deadlists.com/default.asp  
7.)^Jerry Garcia's Middle Finger, 2010-01-18, http://jgmf.blogspot.com/2010/01/new-peanut-butter-sandwich-october-16.html 
8.)^Mojo Navigator R&R News no. 9 (October 17, 1966) 
9.)^Peach Master, 2006-06-05, http://www.allmanbrothersband.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=XForum&file=viewthread&tid=45774
10.)^1938-1950, Session Index, http://www.jazzdisco.org/contemporary-records/discography-1938-1950/session-index/




4 comments:

  1. Great job as ever. But a few comments. My notes on the subject show:
    May 27, 1966 - the Grateful Dead did not play the Avalon Ballroom on the Friday night.
    October 15, 1966 JG sat in with Big Brother and The Holding Company at the Avalon.
    October 16, 1966 is the "New Peanut Butter Sandwich" event which saw Pigpen and JG perform with members of QMS, Sir Douglas Quintet and David Getz at the Avalon. JGMF has a blog on this somewhere.
    November 3, 1966 - the Grateful Dead did not play the Avalon Ballroom – the shows were 11/4-5 but the poster was misdated.
    March 5, 1967 - the Grateful Dead perform at the Avalon as unbilled guests.
    March 24-26, 1967 - the Grateful Dead play three nights at the Avalon Ballroom.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey Mr. Shark,
    Thank you for the corrections. I'd like to get it all right before it's printed someday!

    ReplyDelete
  3. The sf event space is the best location to your parties and also offers best services to your guests.

    ReplyDelete