Monday, September 14, 2015

The Lion's Share, 1/20/72, and Beans

The Lion's Share, Dec 1972, courtesy Dave Tamarkin

Just some scattered thoughts here, since the Lion’s Share has swam into my ken a few times in so many days.  The Lion’s Share was a tiny little club up in San Anselmo that Garcia and others frequented in the early 70’s.  It’s a pretty tangential little venue in the arc of GD history, although they the Dead played a few very low-key acoustic gigs there in 1970 along with the New Riders.  Lost Live Dead investigated the rather remarkable wake for Janis Joplin that was held at the Lion’s Den, and JGMF has some listening notes on a few shows that are worth checking out.  Bill Vitt (Garcia/Saunders) appears to have drummed with the house band, and local musicians like Garcia, Phil Lesh, Janis, Van Morrison, Howard Wales, and the Sons of Champlin all hung out and played there.  According to Daoud Shaw, who drummed for the JGB in 1981, he crossed paths with John Kahn (and Garcia?) at the Lion’s Share in 1973-74.  A handful of great early Garcia/Saunders tapes were recorded there: notably 12/28/72 and 7/5/73 both feature guests, including the same mysteriously unknown trumpet player (worthy of another post someday), and seem to give a good sense of the extra laid back vibe of that particular scene.  Old & in the Way played (and rehearsed) there a few times in 1973, there’s another great Garcia/Saunders gig on 6/4/74 with Tony Saunders on bass and some unusual jazz material... I could go on, but here’s a more thorough breakdown, and some more local color here.

Anyway, I was relistening to some of the Jan 1972 Garcia/Saunders shows — unlike the scattershot nature of early G/S tapes, we're lucky to have a pretty unique slice of Garcia’s non-GD life from Jan 1972 represented here, three shows from the same week (1/15, 1/19, and 1/20), two of which appear complete.  1/19 and 1/20 are from the Lion’s Share, and of course they’re worth a listen: Paul Butterfield shows up for a bit on 1/19 and sounds incredible, and 1/20 has a great, after hours kind of feel with some pretty expansive jamming in spots.

Then just now, I’m looking through this 2003 radio interview with Steve Parish, and one caller brings up hanging with Steve one night at the Lion’s Share

Parish: […] the Lion's Share sort of fell off the map. A lot people don't know about it. It was our little local hangout in Marin, there. We had some great gigs -- […] Jerry loved playing  there because it was a nice little low-key place and it was not too hard to do a  show there. We always had some wild rollicking times at that place. Thanks for reminding about that place -- 
Caller: It's a wonder more people didn't come to those things.
Parish: There wasn't anybody really recording them.  I think there's one or two recordings.  One night the Beans opened up for the Garcia Band. Now, the Beans were the first incarnation of the Tubes -- 
Caller: Vince [Welnick], huh?
Parish: Yeah, Vince was there. That was a crazy night.
Gans: That was right after they moved out here from [Arizona] -- 
Caller: A lot of good music came out of the that place.
Parish: Yes, it did.
And, lo and behold, Garcia announces at the end of the 1st set on 1/20/72:
"Thanks a lot, we're gonna take a break and Beans is gonna come and play and we'll be back later on."  
I always just figured Beans was a he, not a they.  No big thing, really — Garcia plays a set, some other dude plays a solo set (Garcia gets a long break, and no need for Parish & co. to move any gear around), then Garcia comes back.  But [the] Beans was a band (wiki) with Vince Welnick?  opening for Garcia in 1972?  Cool.

Welnick said, much later, “I was into all of [the Dead’s] ‘60s stuff; it was imprinted on me.  I knew the harmonies instinctively.  They were already shot in my brain.  In the ‘70s, when the Tubes started playing 200 nights a year, all I heard of the Dead was what I got on the radio.”  I wonder if he even remembered this?  Given the “wild rollicking times” at the Lion’s Share, ya gotta wonder.

courtesy Musoscribe: Bill Kopp's Music Magazine


  1. Wow, this is a pretty remarkable bit of research. All the more so since Garcia only had opening bands at the Lions Share, not the Keystone Berkeley.

    Once Garcia settled in at Keystone he pretty much rejected any electric opener, I think because once equipment was set up they didn't want to move it. Thus only acoustic acts opened at Keystone (with one or two exceptions). But the Lion's Share was looser, so there were opening bands. An early iteration of the Charlie Daniels Band opened once for JGMS at the Lions Share.

  2. Thanks! I knew it was a musician's hangout, but I was surprised at just how much seemed to be going on at the Lion's Share -- Parish says in the 2003 interview that it was such a scene that Bill Graham even came by to check it out.