Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Offstage, 970 S. First Street, San Jose, CA

"OK so down we went to the San Jose area where we stayed with Paul and David together in a sort of communal house with Paul Foster in Redwood Estates, a suburb of San Jose. I played one show at the Off Stage, opening for Dino Valenti, and made $10.00, which covered us for a few days. "(Steve Mann)

Paul Kantner attended Santa Clara University from 1959-61, where he first meet Jorma Kaukonen, who would one day become lead guitarist of Jefferson Airplane. "I left Santa Clara after three semesters and moved on to the ever-so-pagan San Jose State," Kantner chuckles. Already a budding singer/guitarist, he gravitated to a downtown San Jose folk club called The Offstage, a place where he and Kaukonen would give guitar lessons.

"A computer guy named Paul Foster-a really good artist and one of the progenitors of the Bay Area's graphics scene-actually put up the money for The Offstage," says Kantner. Everybody played there, he adds, including David Crosby and future Quicksilver Messenger Service (and Jefferson Starship) member David Freiberg, performing with his girlfriend in a duo called David & Michaela. "It was all quite incestuous back then," recalls Kantner of the local music scene and seeing a young Jerry Garcia play a Palo Alto folk club called The Tangent. (1)
The Stanford Daily February 28, 1963

The Stanford Daily March 1, 1963
After the Folk Music Theatre in San Jose was transformed into the Offstage, Kantner and some of the other folkies set up the Folklore Center in a corner of the club, "selling guitar picks, strings and marijuana." Kantner also started booking acts for the club, including Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions (with future members of the Grateful Dead) and David Crosby. 
 JFK's assassination in 1963 "proved the linchpin point of our generation," said Kantner, and "almost switched the universe--What R. Crumb calls the Space-Time Motherfucking Continuum -- over 180 degrees. Everything that was before was not after that." Soon Kantner was introduced to LSD by someone who brought it to the Offstage along with a Fender guitar and amplifier, with reverb and vibrato. "Went off into the cosmos," Kantner recalls.(2)

"I came up through the early Folk Music scene, first in the duo "Orpheus' Children" with Eilleen Gammill, playing gigs with Pig Pen McKernen (Grateful Dead) at the Off Stage in San Jose and solo gigs at coffeehouses like Coffee and Confusion and The Coffee Gallery in North Beach; and later playing with "The South Gate Singers". I helped organize the 1964 College of San Mateo Folk Festival where we shared the stage with Jerry Garcia & "The Black Mountain String Band", and "The Liberty Hill Aristocrates," with Peter Albin (pre Big Brother and the Holding Co.); and Jessie "Lone Cat" Fuller, who wrote San Francisco Bay Blues."(3)

Paul Grushkin's "The Art Of Rock" on p 57 has a nice reproduction of "The Folio, a broadsheet for the Offstage Folk Music Theater at 970 S 1st Street, right in the pancreas of San Jose" for September 1964.

Among the performers that month were Paul Kantner, Jerry Kaukonen "best blues, wondrous guitar" and The Liberty Hill Aristocrats. Show times were 9pm, 9:25, 10:20, 11:40 and midnight. There's a tuition list with phone numbers down the left hand side.

Guitar Lessons
Jerry Kaukonen
John Massey
Geoff Lovin
Jerry Garcia
Paul Suso(illegible)

Banjo Lessons
Paul Kantner
Pete Grant
Jerry Garcia

The Jug Band definitely played a few other places, such as The Off Stage in San Jose, but one of their last gigs was at a  "Hootenanny" at the Peninsula YMCA in Redwood City, on January 16, 1965 (there is a chance they played one final gig a few weeks later at College Of San Mateo).

Kantner and Freiberg eventually moved back up north and started a series of folk clubs, where they performed, gave music lessons, and hung out. Crosby occasionally traveled up the coast to play at clubs like The Tangent in Palo Alto, the Offstage in San Jose, and the Cabal in Berkeley.(4)

From Ray Allen's book, Gone To The Country


For a time it was the Thien-Kym Restaurant. In 2012 the address is now the Vinh Hing Bakery‎.







Jerry performed and taught here in
9/64 banjo and guitar lessons (7)
12/64 Sandy Rothman Scott Hambly
"...a Dec '64 show at the Offstage with Rothman & Hambly again, but then gave it up for years."(1)

"Paul Foster, who for a time ran the Offstage Club in San Jose, says, "I had a problem with him. I didn't book him very often because he was kind of snotty to the audience; he treated them terrible." According to Garcia, "We always had a sort of abuse-the-audience attitude. Once they were in there, they were yours and you could do whatever you wanted to them! That was part of the fun of playing those little clubs."(6)



1.)^Light Into Ashes, comments, 2011-12-18, http://hooterollin.blogspot.com/2011/12/may-1964-noncommissioned-officers-club.html
2.)^Jackson, Blair, Garcia:An American Life, pg. 59, http://www.blairjackson.com/chapter_three_additions.htm
1.)^Cost, Jed, Inductee - Paul Kanter, founder of Jefferson Starship, http://www.sanjoserocks.org/i_starship.htm
2.)^Tamarkin, Jeff, Got a Revolution! The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane, 2003
3.)^Ehret, Stephen, http://www.stephenehretmusic.com/about.htm
4.)^Zimmer, Dave, Dilz, Henry, Crosby Stills Nash:The Biography, pg 23
5.)^ Allen, Ray, Gone To The Country, pg 153 
6.)^Jackson, Blair, Garcia, An American Life, pg 59 
7.)^Grushkin, Paul, The Art Of Rock, pg. 57.

5 comments:

  1. The Offstage was previously the Folk Music Theater and was located at 970, S First Street in San Jose. Ross

    ReplyDelete
  2. Paul Grushkin's "The Art Of Rock" on p 57 has a nice reproduction of "The Folio, a broadsheet for the Offstage Folk Music Theater at 970 S 1st Street, right in the pancreas of San Jose" for September 1964.

    Among the performers that month were Paul Kantner, Jerry Kaukonen "best blues, wondrous guitar" and The Liberty Hill Aristocrats. Show times were 9pm, 9:25, 10:20, 11:40 and midnight. There's a tuition list with phone numbers down the left hand side.

    Guitar Lessons
    Jerry Kaukonen
    John Massey
    Geoff Lovin
    Jerry Garcia
    Paul Suso(illegible)

    Banjo Lessons
    Paul Kantner
    Pete Grant
    Jerry Garcia

    Cheers, Paul

    ReplyDelete
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  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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