Vida Blue vs Pumpsie Green

Joel Selvin mentions that Pumpsie Green was a truant officer, chasing kids from Provo Park, near Berkeley High, in 1970, and maybe knew the stabbing victim who died at Altamont, Meredith Murdock, Hunter (Selvin, 2006: Altamont: The Rolling Stones, The Hells Angels, And the Inside Story of Rock’s Darkest Day, p. 157).
This helps explain Pumpsie’s lack of interest in helping a musical namesake tribute to him, the Pumpsie Green (band) that featured, for one gig, Henry Butler on weighted key electronic board and Etienne de Rocher on electric and accoustic guitar; actually come to think of it, Etienne dragged into Cafe DuNord that night some weird mechanical bass, like the fodella that blues legend “San Franicisco Bay Blues” played.

I just posted this to Youtube, under Etch’s video.

Part of the kismet of this is Cake playing at the Greek, and Bruce Solar getting us back stage passes, which took a while to get sorted. There was some talk about Henry sitting in with Cake someday, and Henry imagining what parts he could play undernear or in between the radio friendly but not really jam band stuff — actually Dan Adams when Cake played the Cub — and excuse the digression — suggested to Todd Roper — in 1995 or 1996 – one or the other show, probably 1995 — that he thought of Funky Meters. And Cake and Etienne were both managed in those days by Bonnie Simmons, who I think of as a KPFA Thursday night DJ but others knew her since her KSAN days.
I’m a serious baseball fan –I’m wearing a Bob Melvin game-worn jersey as I write this –years later — who buys the jersey of the Manager? Well, he’s my age, or so, and grew up around here — there were kids in my high school who played with Bob Melvin on Palo Alto Post 375 national finalists — and as I write this I am also half-watching or using as friendly white noise the tape of the Lincecum no-hitter– I was actually there — you can sort of see me, along the right field splash zone standing-room-only fellows – I’m literally the guy on the end, past the foul pole even. And yeah, where, as David Shields says I am writing about Etienne De Rocher or Joel Selvin or Murdock Hunter or Henry Butler I am writing about myself.
So I remember that Vida Blue played the Fillmore and I didn’t have a ticket and I ran into Dan Prothero — who I didn’t or do not know very well — I know he is Brown and not Big Green — but he said he didn’t think he could help me get in. At times I was down with the Fillmore and BGP people — Joe Paganelli, I saw Morgan Pittmen at Pollstar recently — but I was not a made person there. (Actually I got 86’d from the officers by Bobby Bell the bouncer and nearly thrown down the stairs like in I’m Gonna Git You Sucka when I was pleading my case that Train should play my series even though their agent somehow lost the depost, the cashier’s check. I took too literally the Tom Peters rule of business success that an in person meeting is a good thing. In fact, the Train show at Cubberley — Gregg Rolie’s one time high school – -I wonder if he played that room? — was the same month as Etienne De Rocher opening for The Mother Hips. And Tim Bluhm just last week at Mitchell Park El Palo Alto Room — the new Cubberley Sessions, Earthwise at The Mitch — said that that was where he met the Moore Brothers.
Anyhoo, I had noted gleefully despite the shutout at The Fillmore that Trey from Phish had a side project with Mississippi Allstars or someone called Vida Blue. So I thought of Pumpsie Green. Like a pump organ. Like the Guy from Greyboy Allstars or something with Henry. And somehow Etienne joined the conversation, like I said they were in sort of overlapping circles, or I was.
So I noticed that Green the first black player on the Red Sox — who were the last team to integrate — Common Ground — was giving a talk at the El Cerritto library and I went and got his autograph and ran my idea by him.
“I’ll have to check with my wife” he said, and gave me his number.
When I called back in a few weeks he said thanks but no thanks and that was the end of that.
Henry by the way had deeper collaborations with Malcolm “Papa Mali” Welbourne – which is well-documented on youtube — and Steven Bernstein. I got to know both Steven and Mali due to having been HB’s pm.
Which also reminds me: Mitch Woods has a video of collaborating with Dan Bartholmew and members of Fat’s Domino band. We call him “Antoine” the way we call Dr John “Mac” and the way we stress the article in “the Mardi Gras”.
I first heard of Henry Butler because I had bookd Blind Boys to play a free concert at Mitchell Park outdoors underwritten by Hear Music stores but bailed to join the Tom Petty tour on 10 dates had to play all 10 dates and Danny Scher, Paly grad, tried to intervene on my behalf with Chris Goldsmith to no avail but then with the same money I hired Maria Muldaur to fill that date, plus Femi Kuti at The Cub and Henry with my own money around that time. I recall Danny pulling the cd out of his custom cd cabinet with smooth gliding doors. Henry and I later had lunch up there with him, and I caught maybe two of those benefits he would throw in his garden. Danny who I had met when he and his son were shopping for sneakers at Palo Alto Sport and Toy and I was putting up flyers for a Ledisi-Galactic-Broun Fellinis show.
I just put this on Youtube — all this is sparked by reading about Altamont, Selvin’s book. Selvin I met when I was in YAD the Young Adults Division of the San Franicsco Jewish Federation and I organized a speakers series or an authors series, and Joel spoke. I later wanted to work with Dr David Smith to do something with the same people when Graham Bill passed, and called Joel but he actually spoke against it. I hit up Joel — who likely does not remember all this, about Lew Welch and Huey Lewis, but he said it was not his bag of bones, man.
I think Castilleja should enlist Grace Wing Slick Kantner to help them push threw their proposal for a giant parking garage under the softball fields:
FUCK YOU, WE DO WHAT WE WANT!
Maybe I’ll make a fake endorsement with her HS picture and the line, which is a Starship lyric — one of the best shows of my life — with Huey, actually — what a weird Palo Alto connection — her hometown and that of his stepfather.
I sort of dissent from Selvin’s indication that while at the time Jefferson Airplane were bigger than the Dead that after the beat down of Marty Balin and Spencer Dryden being left to fend that it was all downhill. A lot of bands have ups and downs and Starship and especially their new wave and 80s stuff was still pretty decent. I mean, lots of bands have personnel issues and ebbs and flows. I think its a strong song “Stairway to Cleveland” and sort of anticipates REM “End of the World” and well, Trump CoVid19 and all.
By the way, a guy named Bo Crane – whose dad played football at Stanford with Bill Kreutzman’s dad — gave the keynote to Palo Alto History Association annual dinner and published a chap book about Palo Alto Rock History, which includes a funny riff about The Donnas versus The Rolling Stones. I said: She’s Like a Rainbow was about a woman from Palo Alto named Marlinda Fitzgerald. Ok, a woman from the LA scene who five years later moved to Palo Alto, and built a rock garden– boulders — on Greer Street.

Also: Etienne De Rocher was briefly in a band with Henry Butler called Pumpsie Green, that played exactly one show, at Cafe duNord, for 20 people, but then Pumpsie Green, a former major league baseball player who was, unbeknownst to us, also a truant officer, meaning not too hip, nixed the idea — true dat it was a reaction to Vida Blue, the Phish sideproject named for another East Bay baseball legend, that played the Fillmore around that time and another Fog City band was the opener. edit to add, coda, and1: this has nothing to do with Pumpsie Green or Altamont and I had already used up my allotment of digressions and non sequitars and free association but: I woke up this morning thinking I could, after 26 years change my name from Earthwise to Ears Wide or Earswide in that “big ears” is jargon for having diverse interests in music and “wide” is a play on “big”. Not that I am abandoning an interest in the environment (“green” “sustainable” et cetera) but is secondary and generally has been. The actual reference, three comments ago and 11 days ago, was to the Kubrik film “Eyes Wide Shut” which I think is about lucid dreaming and maybe going to parties. (I said Yoshi Kato in his preview to the Parlour Game show that never happened could have been more definitive in his praise or critique of the group. I was going to say that going to our event might be like going to that party in the Tom Cruise movie. Now I would joke about Eyes Wide Shut-In. (posted that on PAW article by Yoshi Kato about Earthwise VS Parlour Game). Andand: Wrote a note to Keith Hagan the former Mammoth Records publicist about Kenny Rogers, his name in the obit, recapping my 919s. I never realized that Kenny Rogers was the voice of the song in the dream sequence for Big Lebowski. What condition your condition was in. Makes me want to view that movie.

About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player; he also sang in local choir, and fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32
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