Tag Archives: Festivals

Rockarama at the Avalon

Rockarama at the Avalon

1969 Festival #1
5 Days of Music

Wednesday 26 March 1969


Sunday 30 March 1969

Rockarama at the Avalon

Knowing my interest in 1969 festivals in particular, friends send a link to a festival from that year. Most of the time, the festival is already on my list, but every once in a while, something new pops up.

I think I have all of what I personally define as a festival: outdoors and multi-day events that mainly showcase rock groups, keeping in mind how the definition of rock music had broadened by then.

I include Rockarama. Even though it does not meet my admittedly narrow definition, it’s close enough to deserve at least a mention.

Having said that, a mention of the event itself is all it can get since there’s little information I can find about it. Instead, I include something about the bands themselves and include a YouTube link if one is available, though not from Rockarama itself.

Given band’s styles and YouTube samples available, the five days must have been very nice.

Rockarama at the Avalon

Wednesday 26 March


Of course, Santana was simply another band on March 26, 1969. Obviously a great band and a mostly unknown band. They didn’t know that they were five months from fame.

It’s a Beautiful Day: from an AllMusic bio: San Francisco psychedelic folk-rock unit It’s a Beautiful Day was primarily the vehicle of virtuoso violinist David LaFlamme. After beginning his musical education at age five, LaFlamme later served as a soloist with the Utah Symphony, following an army stint by settling in the Bay Area in 1962. There he immersed himself in the local underground music scene, jamming alongside the likes of Jerry Garcia and Janis Joplin; after his short-lived Electric Chamber Orchestra splintered, LaFlamme also co-founded an early incarnation of Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks before assembling It’s a Beautiful Day in mid-1967. The group — which originally included LaFlamme’s keyboardist wife Linda, vocalist Pattie Santos, guitarist Hal Wagenet, bassist Mitchell Holman, and drummer Val Fuentes — issued its self-titled debut LP on Columbia in 1969, scoring their biggest hit with the haunting FM radio staple “White Bird.” 

Rockarama at the Avalon
Allmen Joy

From a Darius…site: If Blue Cheer made cream cheese outta the air, then these guys musta crystalised the heavens on a good night. Some kind of a mix of Blue Cheer & Big Brother guitars, Country Joe & The Fish style ethereal moves & organ, & occasional Dead-like feedback & vocal insanity, mixed with 60s garage sounds & a nod to the Chambers Brothers… 60s West Coast manna from the vault.

Rockarama at the Avalon
The Lamb

From an AllMusic reviewLamb were formed by the duo of Texan singer Mauritz and multi-instrumentalist (though primarily guitarist) Bob Swanson. The two (writing both separately and together) was responsible for the band’s material. They attracted attention in San Francisco when they opened for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young for a few nights at Winterland in November 1969. Impresario Bill Graham became their manager, and producer David Rubinson, who had worked with notable groups such as Santana and Moby Grape, acted in that capacity for their first record. Their debut album on the Fillmore label, A Sign of Change, was perhaps their most uncompromising and experimental, relying largely on jazz-folk acoustic arrangements and spotlighting Mauritz’s impressive voice on impressionistic, dream-like lyrics. 

Rockarama at the Avalon
Anonymous Artists of America

From a red-legacy article:The story of the AAA is fantastic. Their endeavor to be a band was jump-started by several gifts: the first was a full set of instruments financed by one of the artists, Lars Kampman, which was followed by Owsley Stanley’s gift of 100,000 micrograms of (then legal) LSD. They were also given the second music synthesizer in the US by Don Buchla, its inventor, which took a year to build out at the highly influential Tape Music Center in San Francisco. The AAA were one of the first psychedelic bands at a time when rock and roll was redefined through massive advances in amplification technology and by music labels, like Capital Records who commissioned LSD fueled projects. The AAA frequently opened for the Grateful Dead and headlined at Ken Kesey’s notorious Acid Test Graduation. Their performances went on for hours and weren’t especially good, involving costumes and a topless bassist, handmade instruments and spontaneous improvisations that mixed with strobe lights and film projections, turning the show into a multi-sensory immersive experience.  

Rockarama at the Avalon

Thursday 27 March

Cleveland Wrecking Company

From the Roartorio site: The Cleveland Wrecking Company were formed in San Francisco in 1965. Their members came from jazz, flamenco and R&B backgrounds, but together their psychedelic brew verged on Blue Cheer heaviness. As perennial local favorites, they gigged at every stage in the area. They left behind no recorded artifacts during this time; a deal with Vanguard went nowhere, when their manager absconded to Mexico with the album advance on an ill-fated mission to buy a kilo of pot. A later incarnation of the band – with a completely different lineup and musical style – released a 45 that has since become a favorite of cratedigging DJs, but This is not That. These two tracks [follow link above] hail from 1967-8 : one studio, one live (the sonics on the latter may remind of the VU’s “guitar amp” boot, but with a solo as overdriven and atonal as this, it’s a plus). 

Rockarama at the Avalon
Ace of Cups

From their site: The Ace of Cups formed in San Francisco in 1967 and has been described as one of the first all-female rock bands. The members of the Ace of Cups were Mary Gannon (bass), Marla Hunt (organ, piano), Denise Kaufman (guitar, harmonica), Mary Ellen Simpson (lead guitar), and Diane Vitalich (drums). Making their mark in the burgeoning counterculture of the 1960’s, they shared stages with Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, and the Grateful Dead.

Rockarama at the Avalon
The Conqueroo

From a psychedelicbaby articleThe Conqueroo were Ed Guinn (bass and keyboards), Charlie Pritchard (lead guitar), Bob Brown (guitar and lead vocals) and what seemed like a never-ending succession of drummers, who included Gerry Storm and Alvin Sykes. Somehow whilst the Elevators and co. all got deals at the time, the Conqueroo only got to release one 45 on Sonobeat and a posthumous LP put out in the 80s, From the Vulcan Gas Company.. The band was known for its blues based psychedelia, particularly its fuzzed-out, free form jams and wonderful deconstructed cover versions such as ‘Knock on Wood’ and ‘Positively Fourth Street’.

Rockarama at the Avalon
Morning Glory

From an AllMusic review: The popularity of California rock bands with both female and male vocals was simply immense in the wake of the Mamas & the Papas and Jefferson Airplane. Morning Glory pay significant tribute to both bands on “Two Suns Worth,” their obscure and only LP, though you can certainly hear some Byrds in some of the guitar licks, as well as traces of Bay Area psychedelic groups like Moby Grape in some of the arrangements. It’s well-sung (with the sole woman in the group, Gini Graybeal, handling most of the lead vocals) and tightly played, with Abe “Voco” Kesh, most famous for his work with Blue Cheer, handling the production.

Rockarama at the Avalon

Friday 28 March

Melting Pot

I can find a song by this name by the UK band called Blue Mink from 1969, but cannot find a band by this name. Anyone?

Rockarama at the Avalon
Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band

The band was descended from the Instant Action Jug Band (November 1964 – November 1965), which included Joe McDonald in its original lineup. Cleanliness and Godliness formed in December 1966 and went through various personnel changes. In March 1969, the band consisted of Judy Linsky (flute), Richard Saunders (bass), Tom Ralston (drums), Gary Salzman (dobro, mandolin), Phil Marsh (guitar, vocals), Annie Johnston (guitar, vocals), and Brian Voorheis (harmonica, guitar, vocals). The Chicken On a Unicycle site has a very thorough tree showing the band’s various permutations.

Rockarama at the Avalon
Linn County

From Iowa Rock and Roll site: Linn County had its roots in Cedar Rapids, Iowa with Danceland and Armar Ballrooms providing a meeting place for musicians. Stephen Miller – organ, piano, vocals, Fred Walk – electric guitar, 12-string acoustic guitar, Dino Long – bass, Jerome “Snake” McAndrew – drums, Larry Easter – soprano & tenor saxophone, & Jay Magliori – baritone saxophone.  All Music saidAn unusual late-’60s band that combined horn-embellished soul-rock with more interesting material utilizing jazz-colored arrangements and somewhat spacy songwriting. There were few parallels for this kind of thing at the time, other than perhaps the only slightly less obscure Insect Trust. A minor group, but at their best an intriguing one.

Rockarama at the Avalon
The 4th Way

From Springer link siteFormed in 1968, musical group The Fourth Way was among the first bands to merge rock, jazz, and non-Western musical approaches in a way that mirrored the mixed-race membership of the band—white New Zealander pianist Mike Nock, black American violinist Michael White, white American bassist Ron McClure, and black American drummer Eddie Marshall—a notable feature at the time. The band’s eponymous debut and their second release, a live recording titled The Sun and Moon Have Come Together, were recorded in the fall of 1969. Their final recording,  Werwolf, was a live recording of their appearance in the 1970 Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. However, with the exception of a small number of dates clustered around the band’s appearance in Montreux, The Fourth Way rarely performed outside of the San Francisco Bay Area, limiting their exposure. 

Rockarama at the Avalon
Deadly Nightshade

There is a band called Deadly Nightshade, but it formed in 1970 from an all-female band called Ariel, so I’m pretty sure they didn’t play Rockarama. There was a Deadly Nightshade lightshow out of San Francisco at this time, so… Here’s a bit about thatIn 1967 and 1968, Deadly Nightshade [originally] consisted of myself [the author never identifies himself] , Carolyn Bunch, Tom Stewart, John Bossi and Bob Kano. Our equipment was a couple of overhead projectors with 650 watt halogen lamps, six manual slide projectors, an old 8mm film projector, and various special effects devices for doing reflectives.  We did shows at the UOP and towns around the San Joaquin Valley, but mostly at the club in Stockton. The bands we played with were mostly local, but occasionally we would get gigs with bands from LA (the Liquid Blues, Smoke) or the Bay Area (Steve Miller Band), who were touring through the California Valley. Starting in 1969 Deadly Nightshade focused on performing more in the Bay Area, including Napa,  Santa Rosa, Davis, Hayward, San Jose and San Francisco. Because we were new in the scene we made an effort to do anything we could for exposure and engagement. We were lucky to work with the San Francisco Tape Music Center and Don Buchla. We helped them produce the Pillow Show, and staged it in the newly renovated Exhibition Hall at the Palace of Fine Arts. The lightshow was projected on the outside of an inflatable translucent plastic “pillow” with capacity for about 20 people listening and viewing from the inside at one time. The effect was disorienting, but very much of the times.

Rockarama at the Avalon

Saturday 29 March

Shades of Joy

From AllMusic: The mysterious Shades of Joy recorded the wholly instrumental album The Music of El Topo in San Francisco, the LP finding release on the Douglas label in 1970. …it’s an odd but listenable mix of early jazz-rock fusion, psychedelia, funk, and the kind of meditatively somber and pretty music you might expect to hear on the soundtrack to a period drama. And in fact most of the compositions are credited to film director Alejandro Jodorowsky, who was responsible for the early-’70s cult film El Topo. Fifteen musicians are credited with playing on the album, the most noted of them being occasional Grateful Dead/Jerry Garcia sideman Howard Wales (on electric keyboards), though there are also numerous percussionists, brassmen, and flutists; in fact, there are three combination flutist/tenor saxophonists alone. Martin Fierro (who played flute, tenor sax, alto sax, and cowbells, as well as being credited as a “scratcher”) seems to have been the musician most involved with the project, also doing the orchestration and horn arrangements. 

Rockarama at the Avalon

From Discogs site: Clover had a two part career, the first in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s in the US and the second in the later 1970’s in the UK. The group was formed in San Francisco in 1967 when Johnny Ciambotti joined up with John McFee, Alex Call and Mitch Howie who were members of a group called the Tiny Hearing Aid Company. Clover’s first gig was July 4 1967. They performed around the Bay Area over the next two years eventually signing with Fantasy in 1969. They recorded two albums and one single for Fantasy in the early 1970’s. Eventually an expanded line-up of the group moved to the UK in 1975 or early 1976. There they released two further albums, and (uncredited) backed Elvis Costello on his debut album My Aim Is True (1977). The group broke up in 1978 after returning to the US. The group is most well known outside the US for their version of Route ’66 in the Levis Jeans commercial. Around 1976, Huey Lewis joined this band (credited as Huey Louis) and appeared on the two final Clover albums released 1977.

Rockarama at the Avalon
Country Weather

From AllMusic: Country Weather was one of the minor bands that were part of the San Francisco music scene of the mid- to late ’60s. The group was formed in the San Francisco suburb of Walnut Creek, CA, by high school students Dave Carter (bass and vocals) and Steve Derr (rhythm guitar and vocals) as a cover band called the Virtues in 1966. They were joined by Paul White (lead guitar) and Craig T. Nelson (drums) (not the actor of the same name), who were soon replaced by Greg Douglass and Bill Baron. In 1967, they auditioned for promoter Chet Helms, who suggested they change their name and stop playing covers. Soon after, they became Country Weather. Over the next few years, they played frequently at such San Francisco venues as the Avalon Ballroom, the Fillmore Auditorium, and Winterland, opening for many of the renowned acid rock bands of the day, as well as up and down the West Coast. But they were never signed to a national record contract. In 1969, they recorded their own one-sided, five-song disc, which earned airplay on local radio stations.

Rockarama at the Avalon
Fruminous Bandersnatch

From Psychedelicized site from Lafayette, CA, Frumious Bandersnatch is often said to be one of the most underrated bands to emerge from the San Francisco scene in the late 60s. Their sole EP is regarded as one of the better offerings of the period that should have found much greater success. Originally known as All Night Flight, they changed their name in 1967 to Frumious Bandersnatch after a character in the Lewis Carroll poem ‘Jabberwocky’. Original members included Dave Denny (lead guitar, vocals), Jack King (drums, vocals), Brian Hough (bass) and George Tickner (guitar). Denny soon left the band for a brief period and was replaced by Kaja Doria (vocals) and Bret Wilmot (guitar). It was this lineup that first recorded the band’s material, including an early version of ‘Cheshire’. Nothing was officially issued at the time.

Sunday 30 March


From AllMusic: The Youngbloods could not be considered a major ’60s band, but they were capable of offering some mighty pleasurable folk-rock in the late ’60s, and produced a few great tunes along the way. One of the better groups to emerge from the East Coast in the mid-’60s, they would temper their blues and jug band influences with gentle California psychedelia, particularly after they moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. For most listeners, they’re identified almost exclusively with their Top Ten hit “Get Together,” but they managed several respectable albums as well, all under the leadership of singer/songwriter Jesse Colin Young

A.B. Skhy

From AllMusic: A.B. Skhy was a blues-rock quartet from San Francisco consisting of guitarist Dennis Geyer, keyboard player Howard Wales, bass player Jim Marcotte, and drummer Terry Andersen. This lineup made the group’s debut album, A.B. Skhy, in 1969, with a seven-piece horn section. The album failed to chart, but the instrumental “Camel Back” hit number 100 on the Hot 100 for one week in December. Andersen and Wales then left and were replaced by guitarist James “Curley” Cooke and drummer Rick Jaeger for the group’s second album, Ramblin’ On (1970), which was produced by Kim Fowley. They broke up during the recording of their third album.

Initial Shock

From Psychedelicized siteOriginally formed in 1966 as The Chosen Few, The Initial Shock was a psychedelic rock band from Missoula, Montana.  Composed of members from Missoula bands Mojo’s Mark IV and The Vulcans, the band changed its name to The Initial Shock in 1967, moving to San Francisco that same year. The band only produced two records during their incredible time together as a band. “Mind Disaster” b/w “It’s Not Easy” and “You’ve Been a Long time Coming” backed with “I Once Asked”. Both were regional hits in the western USA and also in the Top 10 Southern Survey where the lead singer, Mojo Collins was, and still is from. Members of the band included Mojo Collins, (guitar, lead vocals), Brian Knaff, (drums, vocals),George F. Wallace, (lead guitar), Steve Garr, (bass) and George A. Crowe (road manager).

Alice Cooper

The now well-know band had just recently become “Alice Cooper”  and would release their first album in June. From WikipediaOriginating in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1964, “Alice Cooper” was originally a band with roots extending back to a band called The Earwigs 1964, consisting of Vincent Furnier [Alice Cooper] on vocals and harmonica, Glen Buxton on lead guitar, and Dennis Dunaway on bass guitar and background vocals. By 1966, Michael Bruce on rhythm guitar joined the three and Neal Smith was added on drums in 1967. The five named the band ‘Alice Cooper’ and released their debut album in 1969 with limited chart success.

Rockarama at the Avalon
Pure Funk

A popular Indiana college funk band, founded in 1969 by keyboard player, Michael Read, vocalist, Asher “Adam Smasher” Benrubi, and guitarist, Rob Swaynie. The band later became the more successful Roadmaster. Fifty years later…

Poster Art: Gilbert Shelton

Gilbert Shelton‘s talents surfaced early with his silly superhero spoof ‘Wonder Warthog’ which was published in a campus magazine in 1959 (Ranger). In May 1968 he introduced ‘The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers’ in the newspaper Rag, starring Phineas, Freewheelin’ Franklin and Fat Freddy.

Rockarama at the Avalon

Next 1969 festival: Palm Springs Pop Festival.

Hilltop Pop Festival

Hilltop Pop Festival

Larry Luddecke from Far Cry here – that was a great day!!That’s me with the platinum hair and the kid on my shoulders in the far left of picture. That’s Jed Whiting, our singer Jere’s son on the bike with Cris Pearne. The living members of Far Cry are still in touch, and I have worked with our guitar player, Paul Lenart, making and producing music for the pat 54 years! The after-party at our commune was great, though the memory is a bit hazy!!!
Mason, New Hampshire
Saturday 2 August 1969
1969 Festival #32

In my seemingly ever-expanding  list of 1969 festivals, my general rule is to include only multi-day events, but the exception proves the rule.  Two weeks before Woodstock, a one-day festival occured in Mason, New Hampshire. Mason sits on the border of New Hampshire and Massachusetts and is about 60 miles from Boston.

The event truly reflected the cultural revolution’s 1960’s zeitgeist: it was a benefit for the Mason Volunteer Fire Department to buy a new fire engine. Admission to the event was $3, all the artists performed for free.

And who were these generous artists? Locals, some better known than others, and some bigger names.

Where the festival actually was is confusing. The poster seems to give directions from Boston as it says to take Rt 2 to Concord (MA) and then Rt 119 to Townsend (also MA). The address to mail for tickets is in Greenville, NH, which is about 6 miles north of Mason. The notes from a Velvet Underground site says, “The event is often placed in Rindge NH, but it really took place on Barrett Hill Road in Mason NH.”

Who knows?

2023 Post Script

As you can see below, post readers occasionally leave comments. In August 2023, I exchanged a few emails with a John Bowditch who had attended the festival. I asked him regarding the actual location. Here’s his response: “I did a lot of sleuthing and can positively identify where this festival took place. I spoke with a friend, Gene Roe, who was there and one of the organizers. It took place in Mason, New Hampshire in a field just south of the junction of New Hampshire Rte 31 (Fitchburg Road) and New Hampshire Rte 124. This is very close to the Massachusetts border.

My personal memories were that it was a lovely festival and fun to attend. My then wife and I were good friends with a number to the organizers. Of course this all happened a long time ago.”

Thank you John!

Mason, NH

Childhood home of Uncle Sam

Mason, NH is a small town that was the boyhood home of one Samuel Wilson. While not for sure, Wilson is purportedly the basis for the legendary “Uncle Sam” character. May be an example of some enthusiastic History Haze.

Hilltop Pop Festival


Bartholomew & Oglethorpe

Sorry. Cannot find anything about this duo?

Bill Lyons

The only musician Bill Lyons I can find is a William Lyons and much to young to have participated in the Hilltop Pop Festival.

Blew Jug Band


Bob Garfield

There is a Bob Garfield who is a commentator and journalist.

Chris Pearne

I found an obituary for a Chris Pearne that seems to be for someone who could have been the Chris Pearne of the Hilltop Pop Festival. The obituary read, in part, “Chris was born John Christopher Pearne in Oakland, Calf., on May 25, 1945, and grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, where he started performing music in the 1960s. After a short stay at Kent State University and serving in the National Guard, he moved to the Boston area in 1966, where he quickly became part of the folk scene. Then, migrating to New Hampshire in the seventies, he settled in the Peterborough area, becoming an integral player at the legendary Folkway club: as performer, sound man, and emcee, in addition to maintaining his guitar building and repair shop there. At around that time, he also became involved in working in human services, which he pursued for several years.” Follow the link above for more.

If it’s the same one (how many can there be, he asks innocently), then Chris played on Jamie Brockett’s 1993 Road Dancer album.

A response to my question under this YouTube video said this:

maxarsolutions added: It is most likely him … I did recognize another name from that festival Jaime Brockett who was a friend of Chris’s
Hilltop Pop Festival

Country Funk

Though personnel changed, it seems for the Hilltop show the band consisted of: Adam Taylor (lead guitar), Hal Paris (rhythm guitar, piano),  Jim Lanham (bass, pedal steel), and Verne Johnson (drums)

From Country Funk dot net: I heard about a band called Country Funk that was playing in the Boston/New England area, and I was managing musical groups at the time in Boston, so I went to see them play and wanted to sign them immediately.  They were the answer to California’s Buffalo Springfield.  Eventually I became their manager.  Listen to the music and you’ll see what I mean and hear what I heard. Manager Ray Paret.

From All Music:  In 1969, the group landed a record deal with Polydor, and with Johnson back behind the drums, Country Funk headed to the Record Plant in Hollywood, where they cut their self-titled debut album. (True to the group’s shifting lineup, Pfeifer played drums on four of the album’s 12 songs.) Despite a strong reception, the album’s sales were poor, and it proved to be the group’s only record for many, many years — until 2011, in fact, when they returned with an album titled Zuma.

Here’s some of their sound. Nice stuff.

Hilltop Pop Festival

Far Cry

From All Music: Sometimes hypes and supposed scenes turn up random work that gets lost in the flow of its time but which a later generation rediscovers and celebrates deservedly for qualities obscured at the time. Sometimes. Far Cry, though, won’t get that nod, though it’s not for lack of trying on the part of the Fallout label, who make a specialty of digging up random oddities. This one’s just a bit too random, though: a late-’60s Boston band caught up in the monumental PR flop of the “Bosstown Sound,” Far Cry made a debut and, in the end, what would be their sole album, which is exactly what one would expect from a group at that time and place operating on a limited budget. To the septet’s credit, their songs are all originals as compared to so many of the covers that would pad out many albums at the time, while snagging a piece of classic Persian art for the cover made for a vivid visual impact. But the seven-song album sounds flat and distant even after a CD remaster, not bootleg-murky but not striking, either, while the band is simultaneously reasonably talented in a workmanlike way without bringing anything new to the table. Lead vocalist Jere Whiting‘s white blues wails are serviceable without being remarkable, while the group’s jams and breakdowns totter between noodling and making something out of it all, not always successfully. Bassist Sean Hutchinson more often than not is trying to lay in at least a bit of funk, in a steady-as-she-goes way, but otherwise long songs like “Dream?” and “Sweet Little Angel” in particular just fill up the space or build to OK but not remarkable finishes. A little psych, a little blues, a little funk — a little album, in the end.

Hilltop Pop Festival

Fort Mudge Memorial Dump

From mmone.org: Fort Mudge Memorial Dump — Caroline Stratton, Dean Keady, James Deptula, Dave Amaral, Richard Clerici — formed in Walpole, Massachusetts, in 1969, and boasted a loyal local following during their brief existence. By dint of geography, they were lumped into the “Bosstown Sound” with Ultimate SpinachThe Beacon Street Union and Orpheus, but their lone album, 1969’s Fort Mudge Memorial Dump, (Mercury) revealed the band to be rooted in San Francisco psychedelia — Stratton, with her strong vocals, and Keady, with his jazzy, acid-soaked guitar leads, were easily the East Coast’s answer to Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick and Jorma Kaukonen. Fort Mudge Memorial Dump disbanded in 1973. (by Stephen Haag)

Hilltop Pop Festival

Jack Parmlee

Need some help here.

Jaime Brockett

From mmone:   I first met Jaime Brockett at the Y-Not coffeehouse on Main Street in Worcester during the mid-sixties. He walked on stage with a hotel-toilet-seat “Sanitized for your protection” strip wrapped snugly around the body of his guitar. He had recently returned from Denver, where he’d met Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, who’d become his mentor and a major influence. Throughout ’67 and ’68 he would stop by Congress Alley whenever he was passing through Worcester, often staying for an all-night session of pickin’ and grinnin’.

That same year, Oracle Records released his first album, Remember the Wind and the Rain, which included “Black Beauty,” an original composition written by this reporter. More importantly, it contained his folk-rap version of Leadbelly’s “Ballad of the USS Titanic,” the cut that would catapult him back-and-forth across the country like a pinball. It would also get him in trouble. One of the song’s lines, concerning “Jewish people trading wives and Cadillacs,” resulted in a stern letter from then-ADL President Justin J. Finger, accusing him of “foisting hoary canards.” He stopped playing the song around ’73.

Hilltop Pop Festival

Jim Santos

Not confident in what I find for a “Jim Santos.” Again, any help here much appreciated.

Len Chandler

From All MusicWhen Len Chandler arrived in New York City in the 1950s, he had no intention of getting involved with the folk music scene. Born in Akron, Ohio in 1935, he showed an interest in music at an early age. “My father was in the army,” Chandler recalled, “and my mother bought me a little plastic flute with eight holes in it, and I played songs on it until I ran out of range.” At eight, he began playing piano and at 12, he started studying classical music. He learned to play the oboe so he could join the high school band, and during his senior year joined the Akron Symphony.

By the early 1960s Chandler felt himself drawn to the Civil Rights Movement. In 1962 he wrote his first topical song, and deepened his commitment to the movement after attending a freedom singers conference in Atlanta in 1964. “I started submitting a lot of songs to Broadside,” Chandler said, “because what sometimes got me off the most were topical songs. I really liked the impact that would be made on people when they would hear something that you had just written right out of the news about something that happened today.” He sang at demonstrations and rallies, and won a reputation as a protest songwriter.

Hilltop Pop Festival


Any help?

Peter Johnson

From AllMusicPeter C. Johnson was one of the driving forces in the Boston music scene in the late ’60s. His singer/songwriter style was a big influence on the young musicians coming through the area, including a relatively unknown Bruce Springsteen. He teamed with Astral Weeks session player John Payne to form the Manic Depressives, a band best known for backing Bonnie Raitt, although they performed with Howlin’ Wolf numerous times during this period. The band broke up following a fistfight at a gig, and Johnson disappeared for a few years. When he reemerged, he had completely rethought his approach, this time performing with six mannequins and a fortune in electronic equipment that provided a chorus of voices and music behind what he was playing on-stage. He released a self-titled album on A&M, which was a critical success but never quite caught on with the record-buying public. On top of this, a poor contract left him penniless after his touring expenses caught up with him. He recorded an album with John Cale soon after, but eventually disappeared after trying to rehab his drug problem. In 1998, he joined Bonnie Raitt on-stage at a concert that would inspire him to make music again. Teaming with David Champagne (Treat Her Right) and Asa Brebner (Modern Lovers), he put together the rootsy Bloodshot for a 2001 release. Soul Sherpa appeared three years later.

He did not release an album until 1978.

Hilltop Pop Festival

The Velvet Underground

The Warlocks became the Velvet Underground in 1965. The band’s association with Andy Warhol helped establish them. They released their first album in, “The Velvet Underground & Nico” in 1967. It was a commercial flop.

In 1969 they were on the road in both the United States and Canada where they concentrated on their live performances. Some of these live recording shave been released, including their Hilltop Pop Festival’s.

Hilltop Pop Festival

  1. Waiting For The Man (6:35)
  2. Run Run Run (10:00)
  3. Pale Blue Eyes (8:45)
  4. What Goes On (11:45)
  5. Heroin (8:28)

Hilltop Pop Festival

The Wild Thing

Not sure…maybe…but a Richard Julio commented: “The Wild Thing that played this festival were on Epic Records.”

As is always a wonderful thing, I heard from a Steve Minichiello, cousin of member Dennis.

• The Wild Thing ended up producing 2 LP’s for Elektra and one 45

• The band had Dennis (my cousin), Jesse, Pat and Pancho — only Jesse survives. The other three died fairly young with drug issues until the end.

• I’m always looking for new pictures of the band, so if you have any I’ll be happy to add them to my family archive.

Hilltop Pop Festival

Van Morrison

Van Morrison had made his first recording playing saxophone on “Boozoo Hully Gully” with the International Monarchs in 1962. With the band Them (a band in constant personnel change both while Morrison was in the group (1964 – 1966) and after). Until Them, Van Morrison hadn’t sung lead.

Them had a two-month tour of America in May and June 1966 that included a residency from 30 May to 18 June at the Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles. The Doors were the supporting act on the last week and Morrison’s influence on the  John Densmore, in his book Riders on the Storm, remarks on how Van Morrison affected Jim Morrison. “Jim Morrison learned quickly from his near namesake’s stagecraft, his apparent recklessness, his air of subdued menace, the way he would improvise poetry to a rock beat, even his habit of crouching down by the bass drum during instrumental breaks.”

On the final night, the two Morrisons and the two bands jammed together on “Gloria“.

In 1967 he released “Blowin’ Your Mind,” his first solo album. Though critically well-received, the album was not a commercial success. 1968’s “Astral Weeks” was both. Having said that, the release of his “Moondance” in 1970 put him on the map.

The concerts.fandon.com site shows Morrison’s 1969 American bouncing him back and forth mainly from the east and west coasts. Along the way, he was at the Hilltop.

Hilltop Pop Festival

Dorothy Perry

As always, a first-hand account is always better than any summary. In January 2023, Dorothy Perry commented: I remember this well! I was in the midst of this event. 2nd child of Jon and Helen Bateman (Earth Mother). We lived in the Big House on the hill on the Greenville- Mason line, not far from Barrett Hill where the festival took place. Dad was a member of the fire department and both my parents were active in the music scene all over New England, so they were instrumental (unintentional pun) in lining up the talent. In the poster I’m the young girl with crossed arms looking like she’s going to bite the photographer. I can shed some light on the people behind the festival, some of the performers; who they are/were and what happened after. The Far Cry were living in the old wing of our house, Chris Pearne and Jim Santos had just moved out, Jamie Brockett was a frequent visitor, etc.

Thank you Dorothy.

Next 1969 festival: Wonderland Pop Festival

Aldergrove Beach Rock Festival

Aldergrove Beach Rock Festival

Canada’s First Outdoor Rock Festival

Aldergrove Beach Rock Festival

May 17-19, 1969
Langley, British Columbia

1969 festival #5

And Once Again…

By 2019 I thought I’d researched thoroughly enough to have found all of 1969’s rock festivals. The initial discovery several years earlier that there had been more than a couple had surprised me. And once in awhile another one sneaks in. The Aldergrove Beach Rock Festival is a recent revelation.

Aldergrove Beach Rock Festival


The Vancouver Sun reported afterwards, “More than 25,000 young people from all over Canada and the Pacific Northwest rocked their way through the holiday weekend here — peacefully.

“There was pot; there was liquor; there was some nudity; and there was some sleeping bag love-ins. But nothing was as bad as the foretellers of doom had predicted.”

The “beach” was alongside a man made lake located on 8th Avenue and 272nd Street.  It no longer exists.

Aldergrove Beach Rock Festival

Local bands

The note beneath the program’s lineup says a lot about the times and its attitudes:

Welcome to Canada’s First Outdoor Rock Festival. May you find old friends and make many new ones. There are beautiful people here from the three western provinces, the Yukon, and the United States. It doesn’t really matter where you’re from just a long as you know where you are.

Aldergrove Beach Rock Festival

Not Free/Free

Aldergrove entrepreneur Brent Joliffe and a couple of DJs from Vancouver radio station LG73 promoted the festival, which turned out to be a financial disaster as many of the festival-goers had simply snuck into the park over the back fence instead of paying at the front gate. [Aldergrove Star, June 21, 2017]

There was also the common fear of adults of such a youthful gathering.  Neil Godin,  was one of the organizers and he recalls that  he barely slept.

One of his main tasks was managing its relationship with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), who were camped out nearby and constantly threatened to shut the event down.

“It was radical at the time,” he said. “There was a lot of fear and it was reflected in the RCMP presence, for sure.”

Silent black and white footage shot by Max Andersen of Ectoplasmic Assault Light Show for use at his gigs. Now in the collection of Acid Rain Light Show.

Aldergrove Beach Rock Festival

Vladimir Keremidschieff

Vladimir Keremidschieff was a local professional photographer who took many pictures of the festival.  Follow this link (VK photos) to see some.

Guitar Shorty

You might notice the name Guitar Shorty on that list.  He had married a woman from Seattle, where they lived in 1969. Her name was Marcia and she had a half-brother who fell in love with Guitar Shorty’s playing. His name was Jimi and as the story goes, Shorty introduced the young Hendrix to the wah pedal and loaned him one when he couldn’t afford to buy his own.


Aldergrove continues to hold a music fair, although this year’s event had to be online due to COVID-19. The event includes heritage, history, 4-H, prizes, videos, and photography.

Aldergrove Beach Rock Festival

Next 1969 festival: Aquarian Family Festival