Gold Rush Festival

Gold Rush Festival

Country Weather – “Over and Over”
October 4, 1969

Gold Rush Festival

     It's October 1969 and you've heard  all about that Woodstock Music and Art Fair back east, but you were on the west coast. You still are. You hear about a one-day festival coming up in Lake Amador, which is about 50 miles southeast of Sacramento.  The price is $3 for the day. Very reasonable. You look at the line-up. Not bad. Not bad at all:
  • Santana
  • Taj Majal
  • Bo Diddley
  • Albert Collins
  • Kaleidoscope
  • Al Wilson
  • Southwind
  • Ike and Tina Turner
  • Sons of Champlin
  • Country Weather
  • Linn
  • Cold Weather
  • County Daybreak
     You knew about Santana before Woodstock and knew they were pretty good. There wasn't anything like Ike and Tina Turner at Woodstock. Nor a Taj Majal. Nor an Albert Collins.

     This could be a very nice day in the country. It was.

     If there is a criticism of Woodstock's three-day line, it is that given the year and perspective, there were no black bands as such. There  certainly were black performers and there were bands playing blues and blues/rock, but there was no Taj Majal. No Albert Collins. No Al Wilson. And certainly no Ike and Tina Turner. One must imagine the impact Tina would have had on 400,000 people that day, on the album that she surely would have been on, and the movie she absolutely appeared in.

Robert StrandGold Rush Festival

     Robert Strand promoted the event and 40,000 people showed up. He and his family were the financial backers.  Strand was the manager of Country Weather, one of the bands that appeared. He describes the event as a perfect combination of location, music, stage, PA, and weather. He recently assisted in a video report of the event. That video can be found on YouTube in four parts. Here is a link to Part 1. It is a wonderful story by someone who humbly tells the story with lots of detail. Lots of specific information.

     Unfortunately, there is no video or recording of the event.

Remembrances of the…

Gold Rush Festival

Gold Rush Festival

     James Hackworth was 22 years old when he and his wife and two kids attended the Gold Rush Festival. His memories include, "...people jammed the banks of Lake Amador to sunbathe, drink wine, smoke marijuana and listen to an all-star roster of musicians at the Gold Rush Rock Music Festival. Since the crowd was peaceful, Amador County sheriff’s deputies chose to ignore the drug use and skinny-dipping. ...I remember looking over a sea of people and everyone was really happy and full of enthusiasm.  The music was the catalyst that drew us together. It really was a time of believing in love and peace for humanity.” [Messynesschic dot com site]

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Richard Kermode

Richard Kermode

October 5, 1949 – January 16, 1996
Richard Kermode
Kermode, Joplin, Sam Andrew, Snooky Flowers
“Yours Is the Light” from Santana’s Welcome album. Music by Michael Shrieve lyrics by Richard Kermode. Vocal by Flora Purim
In the band v in a band
     It seems to me that the more members a band has,  the less likely all members are well-known.  That may be especially so when there is one person who heads the band.

     Janis Joplin was a member of Big Brother and the Holding Company, though after awhile the band's name seemed to become Janis Joplin and Big Brother....

     When Joplin left Big Brother in 1968 she formed a back up band. And being in a back up band is not quite the same thing as being in the band.  

Richard Kermode

     Richard Kermode was born in Wyoming and grew up in Buffalo, NY where he became a well-respected keyboardist. In 1969 he moved to California just in time for Janis Joplin to add him to her new Kozmic Blues Band. He was also just in time to be in the band for the Woodstock Music and Art Fair.

     When Janis Joplin died, Kermode became mainly a sessions musician including three albums for Carlos Santana:  Welcome (1973), Lotus (1974), and Dance of the Rainbow Serpent (1995).

     He also played with the group Malo. Jorge Santana, Carlos's brother, was one of that band's founders. He developed a passion for Latin music while playing with Malo and worked with numerous Latin jazz, salsa and Brazilian bands. He also recorded with Patti LaBelle, Luis Gasca, Pete Escovedo, Airto and Purim.   

     In 1990 he suffered severe kidney and liver ailments, but recovered.  He was able to resume his musical career and played in bands on USO tours. He toured South Korea and Japan.

     In 1994 he moved to Denver to work on salsa music projects.

Yours Is the Light

Yours is the light that will always shine
And shine eternally, eternally
Mine is the search, never ending search
Until I am with you
For you, fill my life
All my days and nights
With memories of you

Yours is the light that will always shine
And shine eternally
Mine is the search, never ending search
Until I am with you
For you, fill my life
All my days and nights
With memories of you

Wynonie Harris Good Rockin’ Tonight

Wynonie Harris Good Rockin’ Tonight

R & B #1 song, October 5, 1948

Wynonie Harris Good Rockin' Tonight

Roots of Rock

     Before there was Rock 'n' Roll, there was Rhythm & Blues. We don't call rock R & R (that's something else), but we do call the latter R & B and when Wynonie Harris sang R & B, it was rock and roll.

Wynonie Harris

     Most seem to agree that Wynonie Harris was born in Omaha, NE. What the actual date and year were is not as definite. On August 24, 1915? 1920?  Not that important I suppose.

     Before finding  further success in California, Harris found it in his hometown at Jim Bell’s Harlem,club. He danced. Played drums. Sang. 

     In 1940 he moved to Los Angeles and continued to find success as a live performer. In 1944, while in Chicago, bandleader Lucky Millinder hired him as his band's new singer. 

     Harris's nickname was Mr Blues, not because of soulful singing as his lyrics which some thought smutty and indecent. ("I like my baby's puddin' I like it best of all...She promised she wouldn't give no one her puddin' but me.")

     Harris first appeared on stage with Lucky Millinder and his Orchestra on April 7, 1944. One of the songs he sang was  d "Who Threw the Whiskey in the Well."   He recorded that song with Millinder in May thought Decca did not release it until April 1945 because of the war shortage of the shellac used to press records. 
     The song was a big hit with both black and white audiences, a rare thing in the 1940s. 

Wynonie Harris Good Rockin’ Tonight
     Harris quit the orchestra (money issues) and moved back to Los Angeles. Over the years he signed with various labels, but Harris continued to sing powerful songs that, unless one looks at the songs' dates, are surely great rock songs.

     One of his biggest hits was Good Rockin' Tonight written by Roy Brown. Brown offered the song to Harris who refused it. Brown recorded it himself and had a hit with it.

     Then Harris recorded it in his style which gave the great song even greater energy. In this case, the rockin' referred to is music, not sex as the term rock and roll is a euphemism for. 

     In 1954 Sam Phillip's Sun Records released the 19-year-old Elvis Presley's cover of the song. It was Presley's second release. It was not a hit for him.

     Many others have covered the song. Carl Perkins, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, and Ricky Nelson among them, but did you know that the Doors, minus Jim Morrison, covered it?