Volume #14, Issue #5

Relix Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the Summer of Love
by Toni A. Brown

            On June 25th, 26th and 27th, Relix hosted a celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the Summer of Love at the Lone Star Café in New York City. Featured artists included Zero, The California Bros., Living Earth, The Jello Boys and a special one-time appearance of Jorma Kaukonen and Tom Hobson (Quah).

            Each night was full of fine music and a packed house. It all served to usher in this special anniversary that not only received deserved recognition from Relix and its readers, but from the media at large.

            There is a lot to celebrate…20 years of inspiration…20 years of creation…20 years of music!

            Each night at the Lone Star was a little different. Zero appeared two of the nights, featuring Steve Kimock, John Cipollina, Martin Fierro, Greg Anton, Banana and Bobby Vega. This current aggregation of veteran musicians has certainly not remained in the ’60s, as was obvious at these performances. Without labeling the music, it can only be described as high-powered fusion. Rock, jazz and blues are combined to create Zero’s unique, improvisational, mostly-instrumental sound.

            The California Brothers brought David Nelson (New Riders), Peter Albin (Big Brother, Dinosaurs) and Sandy Rothman (Black Mountain Boys) back to the East Coast, where they were joined by Tom Bekeny on fiddle and mandolin and Sean Grissom on “Cajun Cello”. Their set each night brought in the bluegrass touch that uplifted every performance. Bluegrass was an early form of music adopted in the Bay Area (Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions, for example). The celebration would not have been complete without these good ol’ boys.

            The Jello Boys and Living Earth are two examples of bands inspired by the Bay Area music of the ’60s. Both bands have their own sound, but Living Earth, if you were blindfolded and had incense wafting under your nostrils, would epitomize all that you held dear back when the Dead rocked the Fillmore. The sharp guitar work is quite familiar, as is every other note that the band puts forth in their Grateful Dead cover material. But the band is still capable of providing an original sound that definitely sets them apart from being a “clone” band. Living Earth is local to Philadelphia, though they do tour outside of their area. Check them out!

            The Jello Boys are mesmerizing. Their inspiration is so broad that it would be impossible to pick out all of the music that has influenced their sound.

            Let’s start with swing. You may be familiar with swing music through the music that Commander Cody has brought down. The Jello Boys sound closer to the root, raw, yet loose and sweet. But their music is also steeped in blues, which brings Janis Joplin and Big Brother to mind. The band consists of many people, 9 at any given moment. Three female vocalists ride the lyrical helm, but male vocals also appear when appropriate. Still, the Jello Boys are more than that! How about some reggae with a bit of carnival-esque tossed in for good measure? This is one great-time band who you will be hearing more from in the near future. Watch for a record release on Relix Records.

            Jorma Kaukonen may have made his home on the east coast recently, but his is still one of the sounds that made the San Francisco music scene all that it was. His work is still very closely followed by a core of loyal fans, but he continues to reach outside of each new boundary. Probably his best-selling solo work, Quah, contains some of Jorma’s finest moments on vinyl. Quah was recorded with the help of Tom Hobson, a writer/guitarist who dropped from sight soon after the release of Quah in 1975. To celebrate the Relix Records re-issue of this album, Hobson appeared with Jorma on the 27th. Hobson arrived and this elusive talent was amazed that he helped bring a sold-out crowd to the Lone Star. He is such a character—he has the ability of bringing a smile to your soul with just a word or two. He seemed to have his life with him, tucked away in little boxes, each held together with duct tape. Upon closer inspection, everything he had with him seemed to be held together with duct tape. Ask him a question and he would just go through one of those boxes and come up with the answer.

            He began a set that brought his ability to the crowd. After each song, he would flip through a little box and come up with another gem of a tune. Jorma followed with a set of his own, which was up to his usual standards of excellence. Jorma and Tom then got together for their first set together in 12 years.

            Tom Hobson has not appeared in public for many years, but he kept up with the seasoned performer he shared the stage with. Their late set included material from Quah, in addition to many blues standards and some Jorma originals.

            The three nights at the Lone Star were a fitting tribute that served well to usher in the 20th Anniversary of the Summer of Love.

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