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Bands of San Francisco

They made the San Franciso Sound unique

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Frumious Bandersnatch

Big Beat Records
Considering who played in the band, Frumious Bandersnatch (the name came from a creature in the Lewis Carroll poem, "Jabberwocky") should have lasted longer and recorded more than it did. During their brief life (1967-69) the band released just a lone three-song EP, on their own label. At one time or another, the band's roster included Russ Valory and George Tickner, who became founding members of Journey, and no fewer than four future members of the Steve Miller Band -- Valory, David Denny, Jack King and Bobby Winkelman. Enough Frumious tracks were uncovered to compile A Young Man's Song in 1996.

It's A Beautiful Day

San Francisco Sound
After playing with fellow San Franciscans Jerry Garcia, Janis Joplin and others, rock violinist David LaFlamme formed It's A Beautiful Day in 1967. The band's self-titled debut album, released in 1969, is still sought after by collectors because of its stylishly artistic cover. The album contained the closest thing the band had to a hit, "White Bird." A few albums later, LaFlamme went back to working with other bands.

Kak

Big Beat Records
For a band that recorded just one album, played a tiny handful of live shows, and lasted for only a year, Kak has generated a lot of interest among collectors and San Francisco rock historians. Lead singer and primary songwriter Gary Lee Yoder briefly tried a solo career, then joined a more established Bay area band, Blue Cheer. The band's one and only self-titled album, with some bonus demo and Yoder solo tracks was released in 1999 as Kak-Ola.

The Loading Zone

Acadia Records
The Loading Zone's music was a curious blend of R&B, jazz, blues, and psychedelic rock. That made them an ideal opening act for artists like Cream and Janis Joplin. Unfortunately, the appeal of their live performances didn't carry over to their self-titled first (and last) album, and they disbanded after lasting barely three years (1967-70.) Band founder Paul Fauerso (vocals, keyboards) later produced the Beach Boys' First Love album. Lead vocalist Linda Tillery pursued a successful solo career.

Mad River

Collectors Choice Music
Being unique was considered a good thing in San Francisco in the '60s, and in the midst of an odd assortment of bands, none were more odd than Mad River. They were a little bit dark, a little bit frenzied, even a little bit country. So, fans of psychedelia loved them. They released two albums, Mad River in 1968 and Paradise Bar & Grill in 1969. Both were released on a single CD in 2000.

Mojo Men

Sundazed Records
The Mojo Men (one of whom, drummer Jan Errico, was a woman) had just one national hit, a cover of Stephen stills' "Sit Down, I Think I Love You" in 1967. A local hit, "Dance With Me" was produced by Sly Stone. Although they were never able to crack the national market, their recorded work provides a representative sampling of the various styles embodied in The San Francisco Sound.

Mystery Trend

Big Beat Records
Ironically, The Mystery Trend wanted nothing to do with the psychedelic music that other Bay Area bands were playing in the mid-60s. Where others were improvising, jamming, and experimenting, the band's music was tightly structured. In fact, they started out as a R&B dance band. Nonetheless, they often gigged with psych rock bands like The Charlatans and The Great Society, and released one marginally successful single. All of their recorded work, including some demos recorded at band members' homes, were released in 1999 on the album, So Glad I Found You.

Oxford Circle

Big Beat Records
Like many of the Bay Area's mid-60s psych rock bands, Oxford Circle was very popular on the local club circuit, but couldn't land a record deal. Their sound tended toward punk, and was quite blues-oriented. Principal songwriter, Gary Lee Yoder, went on to perform with San Francisco bands Kak, and the better known Blue Cheer. Oxford Circle released just one single, but a live performance at the Avalon Ballroom was released in 1997.

Seatrain

Beat Goes On (BGO)
Seatrain was originally based in New York City (and was originally called Blues Project) but migrated to the left coast. Like Grateful Dead, their music was heavily tinged with elements of folk, rock, bluegrass and blues. Unlike many of the SF bands of the era, Seatrain released four albums between 1968 and 1973. Two of them, Seatrain and Marblehead Messenger (which was produced by The Beatles' producer, George Martin) were released in one package in 1999.

Sons of Champlin

Big Beat Records
Sons of Champlin may hold the record for longevity and discography among the Bay Area bands of the '60s. They released seven albums between 1969 and 1977. They reunited in 1997 and have released a live album and two new studio albums since then. One of the band's distinguishing features was its use of horns, which was somewhat unique at the time. It's not surprising, then, that founder Bill Champlin went on to a career with Chicago. Fat CIty was recorded in 1966 and 1967, but wasn't released until 1999.
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