Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Keystone Korner, 750 Vallejo Street, San Francisco, CA

Keystone Korner wall mural by Josie Grant
 "The bar was owned by and named after Dino Pettuchi and Carlo Morrela. It was managed by Lou 'the Glue' Marcelli[1] who is still well known to patrons of the Dolphin Club in San Francisco. He is known as 'The Commodore'
This period of time was an exceptional fertile period in the development of rock and acid rock music. Dino and Carlo's showcased new musical groups, poets and artists. While serving pitchers of dark beer in an even darker environment, the bar allowed many new and up and coming bands to play their music. The beer was cheap. The performers were never paid. They put a hat on the front of the small stage to earn some compensation for their performance. The acoustics were terrible. The clientele included longshoreman and flower children, not necessarily a good mix. No one ever complained because the performances were outstanding.With the success of the San Francisco establishment, Dino and Carlo expanded and booked time at the Muir Beach Lodge in Marin County. They parlayed the success of a local disk jockey affectionately known as "The Buddha from Muir Beach" who already ran concerts at the Lodge. They renamed the Lodge to "The Dino and Carlo Naval Base"[2] and many of the same bands played both in San Francisco and Muir Beach"[22]

"I walked in. It was small. It was dark," she says of her first visit. "Everything was focused on the stage, because you could barely see anything else, and I just felt like I was home."[2]Located on a ground floor on Vallejo Street, off Columbus Avenue, in what is now a Chinese restaurant called Little Garden, Keystone Korner was said to be named for the "Keystone Cops" at the Central Police Station on the opposite corner of Emery alley.Owner Freddie Herrera was sleeping in his station wagon parked in the alley in back and his wife worked as the club's only topless dancer when an enebriated Nick Gravenites, songwriter, raconteur, and bon vivant, wandered into the off-the-beaten-path, dingy Keystone Korner in 1969. "What you need is some music, " he told Herrera. "I'll bring my friends down next weekend." With his topless bar operating four blocks away from the action on Broadway, Herrera wasn't having any luck attracting patrons than the previous owners, who named the place Dino Carlo's, had when they tried their hand at booking rock music and failed. Herrera, who didn't know Gravenites from Adam, agreed and had no idea that his "friends" would turn out to be superstar guitarist Mike Bloomfield and most of the recemnly disbanded Electric Flag, who packed the joint to the walls and beyond every weekend under the name Mike Bloomfield and Friends.
Another one of Gravenites friends, Elvin Bishop, recently departed Paul Butterfield Blues Band, was putting together his own group and looking fo a place to play. Herrera gave him Monday nights and served free fried chicken to the crowd. The place was packed every Monday night and Bishop delighted in hosting freewheeling jam sessions. A 16 year old guitar whiz from the Peninsula made his way up onstage one night, that's how Neal Schon first splashed down on the SF music scene (he later joined Santana and helped form Journey). The Pointer Sisters, preacher's kids from Oakland, started out singing background vocals with Bishop on Monday nights.[1]
In 1972 the club was sold to Todd Barken and immediately became a hit jazz spot featuring most of the big names of the times. He had a concept for a "bona fide psychedelic jazz club," and it limped from benefit to benefit, including one to buy a liquor license, through the '70s and into the '80s.[2]
Josie Grant did the portrait of Stan Getz as he stood outside playing his sax and also did the interior mural.
Fred Brayman-behind the stage artwork.
Daniel  Goldberg did the exterior art.
During the 1970's, when jazz clubs all over America were folding under the onslaught of rock and roll and disco, San Francisco’s Keystone Korner was an oasis for jazz musicians and patrons. Tucked next to a police station in the city’s North Beach area, the Keystone became known as one of the most important jazz spots in the United States. It was so beloved by musicians that superstars McCoy Tyner, Freddie Hubbard, Ron Carter, and Elvin Jones played a benefit concert just so the club could buy a liquor license.
Until his untimely death, one artist who frequently brought his artistry to the club throughout the 70's was jazz titan, Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Witness the great, 'Bright Moments' LP, a magical moment in recorded music that transpired within the boundaries of the Keystone's darkly painted walls and just in front of the golden mandala that forever framed the musicians on stage. The Keystone became the 'Kornerstone' for 'Bright Moments,' as countless hours of extraordinary music were created on that tiny stage, much of it released commercially. Although disputable, I might go as far as stating that it's quite possible Keystone Korner has hosted more jazz history within its confines than any other jazz venue on the West Coast of America.
Though the club came 10 or 20 years too late to get the greats in their prime, it got them on the way back down. Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon, Art Blakey and Bill Evans all played weeklong gigs there.[2]
"Keystone Korner, I believe, was the last of its kind, certainly on the West Coast, and maybe the East Coast except for the Village Vanguard," says Sloane, 71. "It was not a small concert hall, the way I think of Yoshi's. It was a club. It was relaxed. People could go backstage and talk to the musicians, the musicians would come out front. The distance between performers and audience was totally permeable."[2]
When Keystone closed in 1983, it was one of the last San Francisco clubs to regularly book national and international touring jazz groups.
Today, 2011, it's a hair salon.








Miles Davis is on the wall marquee




Until his untimely death, one artist who frequently brought his artistry to the club throughout the 70's was jazz titan, Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Witness the great, 'Bright Moments' LP, a magical moment in recorded music that transpired within the boundaries of the Keystone's darkly painted walls and just in front of the golden mandala that forever framed the musicians on stage. The Keystone became the 'Kornerstone' for 'Bright Moments,' as countless hours of extraordinary music were created on that tiny stage, much of it released commercially. Although disputable, I might go as far as stating that it's quite possible Keystone Korner has hosted more jazz history within its confines than any other jazz venue on the West Coast of America.

When Keystone closed in 1983, it was one of the last San Francisco clubs to regularly book national and international touring jazz groups.
Unknown photographer's shadow.


"Keystone Korner, I believe, was the last of its kind, certainly on the West Coast, and maybe the East Coast except for the Village Vanguard," says Sloane, 71. "It was not a small concert hall, the way I think of Yoshi's. It was a club. It was relaxed. People could go backstage and talk to the musicians, the musicians would come out front. The distance between performers and audience was totally permeable."(2)

Today, 2011, it's a hair salon.


Jerry performed here on
11/25/70 New Riders Of The Purple Sage[24]
This may have been Spencer Dryden's warmup gig.
The first Garcia gig at a Freddie Herrera owned club.

3/25/71 Merl Saunders[9]
4/1/71 Merl Saunders[14]
5/20/71 Merl Saunders
5/21/71 Merl Saunders
5/22/71 Merl Saunders
5/25/71 Merl Saunders
Nutty Bumpo opened.[13]

5/26/71 Merl Saunders
Liquid Heart opened.

6/12/71 New Riders Of The Purple Sage[15]
The Rowan Brothers opened.

6/13/71 New Riders Of The Purple Sage(15]
The Rowan Brothers opened.

6/15/71 Merl Saunders[15]
6/16/71 Merl Saunders[15]
7/10/71 Merl Saunders
7/11/71 Merl Saunders
8/11/71 Merl Saunders
8/12/71 Merl Saunders
8/18/71 Merl Saunders
9/1/71 Merl Saunders
9/16/71 Merl Saunders
10/8/71 Merl Saunders
10/9/71 Merl Saunders
10/15/71 Merl Saunders
"Merl, Tom Fogerty, Dave Getz (presumably) and John Kahn gigging at the Keystone Korner on a Friday-Saturday night in October, 1971 when Jerry is not known to have been otherwise occupied. Jerry and Merl were billed at the same place the weekend before. It was listed in the Hayward Daily Review, 1971-10-14, pg. 36."[8]

10/16/71 Merl Saunders[7]
Same as above

1/6/72 Merl Saunders[16]
1/7/72 Merl Saunders
Bill Kreutzmann on drums.[10]
"The tables and aisles were packed with people, and the doorman was busily and regretfully rejecting prospective customers."[10]

1/8/72 Merl Saunders[16]

1/14/72 Merl Saunders
1/15/72 Merl Saunders
"After the song, Save Mother Earth, a little kid, maybe 4 or 5 by the sound of it, exclaims, "I don't know about that!" A woman (presumably his Mom) repeats the exclamation as a query and chuckles. It's awesome. The kid's mind has been blown, he's not sure what to make of it (and in any case he occupies that deeply psychedelic realm known as the child's mind), and he can't contain himself. The fact that he's there at all, one of the relatively few (less than about 300, which was about the capacity of the KK), is pretty neat all by itself."[4]

1/28/72 Merl Saunders
This show was canceled.

1/29/72 Merl Saunders
This show was canceled.
Jerry performed with Howard Wales at New Century Theater, 511-513 Main Street, Buffalo, NY on this date.

2/3/72 Merl Saunders
Geoffrey, an escape artist may have opened.[17]

2/4/72 Merl Saunders
Geoffrey, an escape artist, may have opened.[17]

2/5/72 Merl Saunders
2/25/72 Merl Saunders, Armando Peraza[18]
2/26/72 Merl Saunders, Armando Peraza[18]
3/3/72 Merl Saunders
3/4/72 Merl Saunders
3/8/72 Merl Saunders, Armando Peraza
3/9/72 Merl Saunders, Armando Peraza[19]
3/10/72 Merl Saunders, Armando Peraza
3/11/72 Merl Saunders, Armandp Peraza[20]
3/15/72 Merl Saunders, Armando Peraza
3/16/72 Merl Saunders, Armando Peraza[19]
3/17/72 Merl Saunders, Armando Peraza
3/18/72 Merl Saunders, Armando Peraza[20]
6/6/72 Merl Saunders[11]
6/7/72 Merl Saunders[11]
6/8/72 Merl Saunders[11]

6/30/72 Merl Saunders
Owner Freddie Herrera's last show here.[6]
Paul Butterfield sits in for the last 40 minutes.[12]
The last night under Freddy Herrera's ownership the Merl Saunders-Jerry Garcia-Tom Fogerty quintet played to a house packed four deep to the wall. The basement dressing room echoed the nature of the evening. Nick Gravenites, who help Freddy book the club when it first opened, was there. So was Paul Butterfield, sporting a new full beard. The air was heavy with dope and conversation. "What a lot of freaks", said Jerry Garcia, fumbling for another joint in his coat pocket.[12]

7/7/72 Merl Saunders
7/8/72 Merl Saunders[5]
9/1/72 Merl Saunders



Keystone Korner, San Francisco, CA
1.)^Sloan, Kathy, “Keystone Korner: Portrait of a Jazz Club”
2.)^Whiting, Sam, 2011-10-10, "Keystone Korner" documents jazz club, http://www.sfgate.com/entertainment/article/Keystone-Korner-documents-jazz-club-2327672.php
3.)^Opening Today, 1970-11-25, San Francisco Chronicle, pg. 35, http://jgmf.blogspot.com/search/label/1970
4.)^2010-02-10, JGMS: the show known variously as 1972-06-30, 1972-09-01, 1971-09-01, http://jgmf.blogspot.com/2010/01/jgms-show-known-various-as-1972-06-30.html, 2010-01-10.
5.)^Barkan, Todd, comments, 2010-02-10, JGMS: the show known variously as 1972-06-30, 1972-09-01, 1971-09-01, http://jgmf.blogspot.com/2010/01/jgms-show-known-various-as-1972-06-30.html, 2010-01-10.
6.)^Troy, Sandy, pg. 153, RN Sandy Troy's Captain Trips (1994), 2013-12-28, http://jgmf.blogspot.com/2013/12/rn-sandy-troys-captain-trips-1994.html
7.)^Possible Jerry Gig? October 15-16, 1971, Keystone Korner, SF, CA, 2010-01-02, http://jgmf.blogspot.com/2010/01/so-heres-one-that-caught-my-eye.html
8.)^Possible Jerry Gig? October 15-16, 1971, Keystone Korner, SF, C, 2010-01-02, http://jgmf.blogspot.com/2010/01/so-heres-one-that-caught-my-eye.html
9.)^Wasserman, John L. 1971. On the Town: Some Travesties in the Music Biz [Something Else]. San Francisco Chronicle, March 24, 1971, p. 42., New to The List, 2013-05-12, http://jgmf.blogspot.com/2013/05/new-to-list.html
10.)^Hunt, Dennis, Guitarist Garcia Never Stops, 1972-01-10, san Francisco Chronicle, pg. 42.
11.)^Hunt, Dennis. 1972a. Guitarist Jerry Garcia Never Stops. San Francisco Chronicle (Jaunary 10), p. 42,  JGMS: January 6-7-8, 1972, Keystone Korner, 2014-08-03,  http://jgmf.blogspot.com/
12.)^Selvin, Joel, Jamming for the Hell Of It, 1972-09-27 to 10-03, The Night Times, Vol. 2, No. 20 (Issue 29)
13.)^Something Else, San Francisco Chronicle,1971-05-24, pg. 42, Joseph Jupille Archives.
14.)^Berkeley Barb, Vol. 3, No. 28, 1971-04-01, pg. 8, Joseph Jupille Archives.
15.)^Berkeley Barb, 1971-06-11-17, pg. 8.
16.)^New Wave in Erotographic Films, On The Town, San Francisco Chronicle, 1972-01-05, Joseph Jupile Archives.
17.)^Hayward Daily Review, 1972-02-03, Joseph Jupille Archives.
18.)^Musical happenings In The Bay Area, San Francisco Chronicle, 1972-02-25, pg. 43, Joseph Jupille Archives.
19.)^The Night Times, 1972-02-03, pg. 6, Joseph Jupille Archives.
20.)^Music, The Night Times, 1972-03-6-21, pg. 5, Joseph Jupille Archives.
21.)^May, Merideth, San Francisco Chronicle, 2011-06-06.
22.)^Personal letter from Lou Marcelli to Ron Small.





7 comments:

  1. Hey bro is this the same place that in the 80's the Mabuhay Garden was across the street and they had ska nd punk shows...or am I thinking of a different place. either way...thanks for sharing.

    K

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi,
    That was a different place:
    http://jerrygarciasbrokendownpalaces.blogspot.com/2012/07/stone-mothers-412-broadway-san.html

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is a neat post. Todd Barkan was a piano player, who played in a rock group called Kwane And The Kwanditos (spelled various ways) who played the Fillmore West a number of times.

    I think the Sep 1 '72 Garcia/Saunders date was just a mislabeled tape. However, I believe that Garcia/Saunders played July 7-8 at Keystone Korner.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Corry,
    I made the date adjustments, thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Cool. On Google Maps it looks like the same signs as in the vintage photos are still there above the sidewalk, bolted to the building, though they're for the Chinese place now. Wonder if it still say's 'Keystone Korner' underneath.

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  6. How was it determined that JGHW played at the Center for the Arts in Buffalo? The current CFA was established in 1994 so I'm wondering where that name came from. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you for pointing that out. It was an old assumption that I've since straightened out. New Century Theater, Buffalo, NY

    ReplyDelete