Saturday, 5 December 2009

Freight and Salvage 1968-69 Performers Update: Salt Creek, John Schank, Chris Kearney

Earlier this year, we published an extensive list of performers at Berkeley's Freight and Salvage during 1968 and 1969, covering the first 18 months of the club's existence, as part of our ongoing Berkeley 60s Music project. Above is a recent photo (August 2009) of the building at 1827 San Pablo Avenue that housed the original Berkeley Freight and Salvage, now Berkeley Auto Body. The Freight has moved, first to 1111 Addison (the "Middle Freight") and now to a brand new venue.

Despite our best efforts, we were not able to identify every performer, and we published a list of performers unknown to us. Many correspondents wrote in--some of them the "unknown" performers themselves--and I published the information in a previous post. Due to the magic of the Internet, more information about some hitherto unknown performers, and I will share it here. Two regular Freight performers from that era, bassist Hal Arnold and guitarist Rik Elswit, wrote in and recalled various details about the band Salt Creek and performers John Schank and Chris Kearney.

Arnold wrote about Schank and Kearny, whose first listed performances at the Freight were August 13, 1968 for John Schank (shortly after the Freight opened) and September 4, 1969 for Chris Kearny (like many Freight performers, it seems clear that there actual debuts were earlier appearances at Hoot nights). Arnold recalls

I do remember both John and Chris, since I played bass behind them both [maybe for those shows at F and S, but most probably at the hoots]. At the time, I was playing with Rik Elswit and we occasionally included either John or Chris in our gigs or we played with either of them on theirs, depending on who'd gotten the gig.

John Schanck was a folkie in San Fransisco, I've tried to look him up over the years, but don't have any idea where he ended up. He was a pretty good flat picker.

Chris Kearney was a family friend of John Stewart and Gordon Lightfoot and was originally from Toronto. He made an album a number of years back; I think with James Rolleston [who used to back up Tom Rush and others and was in a band with me in LA in the mid sixties. Circles and circles]. Chris used to remind me of Gordon or Ian Tyson. He had a nice voice and played a decent guitar.

My memory might be playing tricks, but the name "Salt Creek" sounds like a name Rik and I were using in the late 60's;

Rik Elswit was a guitarist who played many gigs at the Freight and Salvage with a trio called Ripple, and who later (about 1971) joined Dr. Hook and The Medicine Show. Elswit confirms that the group Salt Creek was the name for a country rock outfit featuring Elswit, Arnold and others. Eslwit recalls
I completely lost touch with John Schank.  Hope he kept that old Fender Duo-Sonic we gave him.   But his heart was in acoustics.  I heard that he became a dealer in old guitars.

I ran into Chris Kearney again in Toronto in the late 70s.   He was fronting a rock and blues band in the local bars with two other guitarists, bass and drums.   They sounded great, actually.   Haven't seen him since.

And yes. Hal and I, and whoever we could pull in to play guitar, were going by the name "Salt Creek" which I liked the sound of when I found out that it was the title  of the fuddle tune Steve Stills uses as an intro on the first tune on the first Buffalo Springfield album.  

It seems safe to infer that "North Country with Chris Kearney and John Schank," who debuted at The Frieight on September 4, 1969, was a Country rock styled group featuring Kearny and Schank, since both played guitar and liked country stylings, and "North Country" is appropriate for a Canadian Country rock ensemble. 

Thanks to these clues, I was able to discover that Christopher J. Kearny (as he is known) actually has an extensive recording career, including 3 albums on Capitol Records Canada in the 1970s, and a series of other albums and projects in ensuing decades. He now apparently lives in San Diego, and remains an active musician, as can be seen on his MySpace page, and seems to have a current album as well.

Remaining "Unknown" Performers from The Freight and Salvage 1968-69
Below is a list of performers from the first 18 months of the Freight who are not known to us. They are known to someone, however, and hopefully we will find out more. Anyone with further information about who these performers might have been, where they where from, and anything about their music is urged to Comment or contact me.

Please note: this entire post makes little sense unless you have looked at the original Performances list. Listed below are the performers, as spelled in the Calendar or Berkeley Barb, their first scheduled performance date, and any identifying information about their style of music.

Dementia 8.2.68: improvisational theatre troupe
Don Copeland  8.5.68
John Dillon 8.11.68
The Maelstrom 8.11.68
Bryson Collins  8.12.68: “Crayon Encounter”
Kazz 8.18.68
Neo Passe String Band 8.26.68
Mike Scott 8.27.68
Fowler, Krech Paul X 9.10.68: Poets Theater Workshop
Bob Georgio 9.10.68
Quarter Dozen String Band 9.21.68
Ken Carter 10.18.68
Gil Turner 11.24.68
New York Slew 12.6.68
Jim Lynch 12.26.68: Country and Western
Tim Ryan 2.3.69
Joe Friedman and Barry Aiken 2.5.69: Classical Blues
Julie Meredith 2.13.69
Dallas Williams 2.14.69
Tom Maddox 3.17.69
Genny Haley 3.20.69
Kevin Barry 4.7.69
Rusty Elliot: 5.19.69
Bob Parsons 6.4.69
Gary Solaman 7.16.69
Steve Young 10.17.69
Tim Williams 10.22.69
Solari and Carr 11.13.69: “hip vaudeville”
Renaissance Catch Singers 12.10.69