Monthly Archives: March 2012

Gig lists, and the importance of documents

What is a gig list, and the importance of source documents from a very hazy time in rock ‘n’ roll history

I got a call from Robert Troxin, a fellow who lives on the East Coast somewhere, a month or so ago asking about gigs for Rush and Kiss concerts in Spokane. On the Internet there are fan sites where people gather and publish information they glean from various sources about their favorite bands. What these fans often do is research and produce a “gig list” for a band. These are sometimes extensive lists of dates, venues and set lists. I’ve seen gig lists for Jimi Hendrix, and lists of dates and venues for the Mothers of Invention on the Internet.
These gig lists are becoming part of the rock ’n’ roll Internet canon. However, the problem is, and a topic of consternation I had with Mr. Troxin, that a promoter working for a band, such as Northwest Releasing, makes a contract with the venue, publishes their own advertising and arranges with other entities to sell tickets. Documentation for the gig then is a “use agreement” with the venue, in this case, a use agreement with the Memorial Coliseum, owned by the City of Spokane. Some of these records are done minimally, the documents eventually shredded or thrown out, and sometimes the only record of the event is a ticket stub someone has kept, or in this case, a printed flyer that shows up for sale on eBay.
I gave Mr. Troxin what information I had, but I could not confirm one of the dates for Rush because I could not document that the concert had ever taken place at the Coliseum, October 31, 1976. The flyer he had seen on eBay indicated that the concert was at the Spokane Convention Center. I speculated that the booking agency may have had some difficulty, for whatever reason, selling enough tickets for the show, maybe they asked to move the concert to the Convention Center, or eventually cancelled the gig. I’ve read a use agreement report from the Sports, Entertainment, Arts and Convention Advisory Board (SEACAB), Spokane’s oversight committee for it’s venues at the time, that indicated Rush did ask to rent the Coliseum for a concert, but unlike the other bands that came to town that year, there is no mention of attendance for the show. The same thing happened for the Jefferson Starship concert. I did not see from any reports that there was a Rush concert at the Convention Center.
That does not mean that the concerts did not take place. It just means that I can’t confirm that they took place with a document from any official sources. On that matter, I do accept testimony from anyone who went to concerts and can tell me the date and venue. But then again, many fans are left with very hazy memories of the particulars of time and date, or even who they were with that night, which is why official documents are of some use for history’s sake. Included in this post is a new gig list page for concerts at the Spokane Memorial Coliseum for 1976 from one source, the SEACAB reports in a binder with a list of concerts. The Spokane Public Facilities District was kind enough to let me look through the binder last year.

© Robert G. Schoenberg 2012


John Currier: playing in Manito Park, and reviewing a John Mayall Concert.

John Currier – keyboard

  • Rick Mose Blues Band
  • Pearce Arrow
  • Associates: Jack Nixon, guitarist; Buzz Vinyard, guitarist; John Werr, guitarist; Ted Bellusci, (band) Southern Comfort; Larry Ellingson (Arrow) piano, harpsichord; Steve Groff (Arrow), drums; Doug Roberts (bass); Cheryl DeLorme, (vocals) and Barbara Owens, vocalist.

Spokane Be-In at Manito Park

John Currier is first mentioned by name in the pages of the Spokane Natural playing keyboards as a solo act performing at the first Spokane Natural Benefit Concert to raise money for the underground newspaper in January of 1969. The Benefit was held at the Grotto, a venue on the corner of Pacific and Browne. He was also a member of Pearce Arrow, a group playing the benefit as well.

However, Currier was involved in the Spokane music scene before this first mention by name. Currier was a member of Rick Mose Blues Band, a group that was invited to play a free concert at Manito Park, July 23, 1967, Natural editor Russ Nobbs’ called this first event the “Be-In.” This was referring to another free concert at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park in January 1967, the “Human Be-In” that featured a number of San Francisco’s most popular bands.

The organizers of the Spokane Be-In rented an electrical generator to power the instruments and a sound systems. The concert was held near the duck pond and featured Rick Mose Blues Band and the Flat Earth Society.

The 1969 John Mayall Concert

In a review of the January Spokane Natural Benefit held at the Grotto by a staff writer for the underground newspaper, it was noted that Pearce Arrow played a rendition of the Rock ’n’ Roll standard, Gloria, and that the bridge of the song included a few bars from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Gloria in Excelcis.

A few weeks later that year an advertisement appeared in the Spokane Natural promoting the English blues rocker the Jeff Beck Group who along with English bluesman John Mayall were booked into Spokane’s Memorial Coliseum for a concert to be held April 5, 1969. Beck cancelled, but Mayall came to “The Barn” to promote his latest album release Blues From Laural Canyon. Three other regional bands were booked to warm up the audience for Mayall. They were Spokane’s Wilson McKinley, Moses Lake’s The Bards and another Spokane group, Revised Edition.

Currier wrote the review in the Natural of the concert and expressed that he liked Mayall and his band. However, he was not very kind to the local bands who he complained were “monotonous even when they switched genres, from rock to country and western.” Currier said that the bands played too much three chord rock ’n’ roll, and tended to sound the same no matter the song. The country and western he mentioned refers to Wilson McKinley’s cover of the Louvin Brothers’ song, I Like The Christian Life. The song was recorded by the Byrds for their album, Sweetheart of the Rodeo [released Aug. 30, 1968, Columbia Records]. The reaction to Currier’s criticism arrived a week later in an unsigned letter. Nobbs backed up Currier noting his bona fides with a mention of the bands he’s played in, and that he is a student in the music department at Eastern Washington State College in Cheney. The letter-to-the-editor was highly critical of Currier’s review, and felt the Currier’s harsh criticism was uncalled for. The letter writer’s point-of-view observation of Mayall complaining backstage about the lack of audience (reportedly only 200 people came to the show in the cavernous Memorial Coliseum) indicates that the writer was someone with access to the backstage area, such as a member of one of the bands who Currier had criticized. The letter was unsigned, but Nobbs felt it was still important to publish the letter, noting that from now on, letters must be signed, but he will take out the name if asked to do so. The letter writer also points out that after performing I Like the Christian Life, the audience was seemingly stunned by the songs sentiment and calling the moment an embarrassed silence after Wilson McKinley finished it.

A second benefit for the Natural was arranged at the Grotto, to be held mid-April. Pearce Arrow was again asked to perform, and Currier was also mentioned performing solo on the keyboards at the event. It was also said that Currier lived in Peaceful Valley and was considered by the reviewer, Val Hughes, as the Valley’s “resident mad composer.” Other members of the band were Steve Groff on drums and Larry Ellingson on harpsichord, and Doug Roberts on bass.

In August of that year Nobbs, along with the Spokane Hip Independent Traders (S.H.I.T), organized a free concert at High Bridge Park, one of maybe four concerts organized in High Bridge Park that year. The music was provided by The New Southern Comfort, Tendergreen and solo performances by Buzz Vinyard, John Werr, Ted Bellusci and Currier. Southern Comfort was having some sort of problem, and they could not make it to the park. Instead, Cold Power filled in. Currier presented an Italian Operetta selection accompanied by the vocalist Barbara Owens.

“Benefit.”Advertisement. Spokane Natural. No. 3, Vol. 2. January 17, 1969: 16.

“All The Heads In The World.” Spokane Natural. Vol. 3, No. 3. January 31 – February 13, 1969: 8-9.

“Be-In July 23.” Spokane Natural. Vol. 1, No. 8. August 1967

Hughs, Val. “Benefit Dance Hurt.” Spokane Natural. Vol. 3, No. 9 April 25-May 8, 1969: 9.

Currier, John. “BRAVO! Mayall.” Concert Review. Spokane Natural. Vol. 3, No. 8 April 11-April 24, 1969: 8.

“John Mayall Review Critisized [sic].” Spokane Natural. Vol. 3, No. 9, April 25 – May 8 1969: 14.

“Free in the Park.” Advertisement. Spokane Natural. Vol. 3, No. 17. August 15-28 1969: 8.

“In the Park.” Spokane Natural. Vol. 3, No. 18. August 29-September 11, 1969: 6-7.

Nobbs, Russ. Recorded Interview. 19 Jan. 2012.

Roberts, Doug. Email to the author. 21 April 2012

Copyright © Robert G. Schoenberg 2012

Blue Jeans

Blue Jeans

The Blue Jeans were one of the first rock ‘n’ roll bands in Spokane as far as I know at this time.

The Barons meet Ben Staley

Interviewed Steve Whitehead yesterday at Johnston Auditorium in the Museum of Arts and Culture, Spokane. Whitehead played bass guitar for the Barons, a popular Spokane school prom and dance band in the mid ’60s, and bass player and manager of Locksley Hall, a band often seen playing at Sunday concerts in High Bridge Park. He has recordings of Locksley Hall’s LP for Epic Records and Shannondoah, the band that was formed in the early ’70s out of Locksley Hall.
The Barons: Doug Hooper, Bill Parker, Denny Langdale and Whitehead started practicing as a band in 1964. They played Northwest rock ’n’ roll: Wailers, Sonics, Don & the Good Times, Viceroys, and Kingsmen. However, Parker left after a year, and they had to find a new guitar player. The band included on their playlist the garageband version of Little Latin Lupe Lu (the Kingsmen version), and Whitehead asked a prospective guitarist to “get the record, listen to it, and show up at practice for an audition.” When the band pulled up at Langdale’s house, there on the porch was 13-year-old Ben Staley, with his guitar out and playing. “A good sign,” said Whitehead, “We went downstairs and he nailed the lead on Little Latin Lupe Lu. We were all astounded. So obviously he was our guitar player.”