Fellow Book Benders
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Sept, 2016                                                            Vol. 1, No. 5


     Welcome to the fifth edition of Fellow Book Benders, a free monthly online newsletter about the ridiculous truth and historical tidbits of San Francisco and the Russian River.  Can you spy a glimmer of your yesteryear from these tales?  Hold on tight for a slippery ride down memory lane.
                 On another note, I have extended the Summer Sale on my novels for one more week.    $8.95 includes a book of your choice, free shipping & handling, and a personal greeting.  For more details, go to

A True Story (or so I've been told):

    Bobby wanted desperately to get a ticket for the September 3rd Grateful Dead concert at the Rio Nido Dance Hall.  But 1967 proved to be a banner year for the group and the performance was sold out.  Bobby, however, would not be denied.  Other frustrated fans simply punched a hole thru the single wall construction and entered that way.  Wanting a challenge, Bobby gained access by forcing himself down the restroom vent. 
           After the concert, the revelers were amped up and not ready to retire for the night.  The nearby tennis courts beckoned all for the usual weekend boxing match.  At 1 a.m.
, a kid from Polytechnic H.S. in the City squared off against his burly opponent from Lincoln H.S.  During the middle of the match, the sheriff showed up with several deputies.   Everyone scattered.
            Bobby sprinted  to the beach where some Deadheads continued to party.    Our hero arrived just in time to partake in the rolling up of the boardwalk, which was piled up and burnt with all the honors that such a landmark deserved.     The blaze attracted the law.  Several, including Bobby, were rounded up and taken to the Guerneville substation.    As holding cells were limited, Bobby was left locked up in the patrol car overnight.    The sins of that adventure were duly confessed at St. Elizabeth Church the following Saturday allowing Bobby to start the new week with a clean slate.  Thank you, Jesus.

City-River Music:

          The sixties and seventies epitomized a City/River Rock ‘n’ Roll hookup.  Several bands lived within a six-block radius of each other in the Haight Ashbury District of San Francisco during the Summer of Love (1967).  In fact, there were over 500 musical groups in the City at the time, many of them playing at the Avalon Ballroom, the Fillmore Auditorium, Winterland, and the Straight Theater.  That same year, the Monterey International Pop Music Festival catapulted at least four northern California ensembles  to stardom. The Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company (with Janis Joplin), Moby Grape, and Quicksilver Messenger Service all vaulted to the top of the psychedelic heap.  They eventually ventured north to the Russian River to showcase their infusion of Indian, jazz, folk and blues.
             The Grateful Dead’s “Alligator” was supposedly written at Warnecke Ranch on Chalk Hill Rd in Healdsburg where the boys spent a lot of time.  “Dark Star” was created while getting ready to perform at The Barn (Rio Nido Dance Hall) in September of 1967.  Their long jams (some lasting 15 minutes) were well suited to “wasted” dancers who had lost track of time.    
          At Guerneville’s River Theater, three guitarists did battle for over two minutes, charging along in “Omaha” from their debut album of 1967 (Moby Grape).  Quicksilver Messenger Service showcased many of their songs from Happy Trails (1969) at both The Barn and at the River Theater.  Jerry Garcia called it “…the most psychedelic rock album ever recorded”. 
             Other rockers who traveled through the San Francisco scene to the River were the Steve Miller Band, Country Joe and the Fish, Elvin Bishop Group, Jefferson Airplane, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Morning Glory, Overbrook Express, Buffalo Springfield, Jimi Hendrix, and Electric Flag with Occidental’s Nick Gravenites.  I say, bring ’em ALL back!  

Side Bars:  
    To get a deputy to respond to a call out in the hinterlands of the Russian River, the dispatcher in Santa Rosa land-wired the substation.  A red light would turn on outside the Guerneville Sheriff's Office alerting the lawman to call for his instructions.
             According to a reliable source, the continued staging of fisticuffs on the tennis courts in Rio Nido was the main reason for replacing the nets with the present day pool.
               The Monterey Pop Festival was a three-day affair held June 16-18 at the Monterey County Fairgrounds, kick-starting the Summer of Love.  It was also the first major appearance for Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Ravi Shankar, and Janis Joplin as well as the introduction of Otis Redding.  For the most part, the artists performed for free while police were festooned with flowers.
               Nick Gravenites was with Janis Joplin on October 4, 1970, rehearsing for a song they would record the next day.  That night Janis died from an overdose.  If you ever hear a strictly instrumental tune on a Janis Joplin album, you now know the background.  Nick formed The Electric Flag with Butterfield guitarist Mike Bloomfield and was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2003 for his song "Born in Chicago".   He presently lives in Occidental.
               Janis Joplin once lived with Big Brother as well as The Grateful Dead in Lagunitas in Marin County.  She had recently left University of Texas where she was voted "Ugliest Man on Campus".  She was a lost soul, trying to prove too much, too early.
               The Steve Miller Band was born in San Francisco in 1966.  The group's Greatest Hits, 1974-1978, sold over 13 million copies.  He was later voted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame.
               The Jefferson Airplane lived at 2400 Fulton Street in San Francisco.  It was a 17-room mansion, which they would eventually paint black.  The Airplane House became a magnet for fans, drug dealers, musicians, groupies, snake oil salesmen and oddballs.  Banquets were lavish, extravagant and ridiculous.  A big, juicy joint was the usual party favor.  Supposedly their 1967 album Surrealistic Pillow gets a heavy workout in the Coen brothers' latest movie, A Serious Man.  Check it out.


     Perhaps you have a story of your own you would like to share with Fellow Book Benders.  Go to and click on "Contact" and tell all.  The taller the tale, the more majestic.
          If you have enjoyed reading one of my novels, a short review with Amazon would be appreciated.  As Red Skelton used to say, "Good night and may God bless."

Next Time:

     In October, Bobby will explore the Fillmore District of San Francisco in 1967 and meet up with a troubled Bill Graham.
     For Summer Discounts on any of the novels below, go to    Free shipping, handling & a personal message included.  Last week!

Attributions & Asides:

    Thank you to the following individuals and organizations for the above images: Ron Friedland, Marsee Henon, Friends of Rio Nido ( Card Cow Vintage Postcards (, Russian River Historical Society (, and Wikipedia.
           To subscribe a friend to this newsletter or to discover more information regarding John McCarty's novels, go to
            Your privacy is important to me.  Be assured that I am not sharing your email or any other personal information.  JMc
Copyright © 2016 John McCarty, All rights reserved.

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