BEAR WITH ME: The man called "Bear" is getting some richly deserved notice.
Unfortunately, it comes a little too late for him to enjoy it in person. Legendary local sound man and LSD pioneer Owsley "Bear" Stanley, one of the truly iconic figures in San Francisco's counterculture movement of the 1960s, died in a car crash last March.
Now Columbia/Legacy Recordings is honoring the pioneer, who first made his mark in the industry by mixing sound at Grateful Dead concerts in 1966, with the first release from its new "Bear Sonic Journals" series.
This debut offering is "Live at the Carousel Ballroom 1968," a previously unavailable concert recording from June 23 of that year of Big Brother and the Holding Company (featuring Janis Joplin). The 14-track disc includes such fan favorites as "Summertime," "Piece of My Heart" and "Down on Me."
For those who don't remember, the Carousel Ballroom was a short-lived venue at the corner of Market Street and Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco. It was only around for a few months in 1968, but during that time it was arguably the epicenter of all things groovy in the Bay Area. The venue was operated by a collective of local bands -- the Dead, Big Brother, Quicksilver Messenger Service and Jefferson Airplane. Bear ran the Carousel's sound system, which was light years ahead of its time.
Bill Graham took over the spot by year-end, renaming it Fillmore West (the current Fillmore, of course, is at Fillmore Street and Geary Boulevard).
The Carousel, however, is still mentioned with reverence by many Flower Power veterans. Its legend should only grow with the release of this live recording. Plus, I suspect that future editions of "Bear's Sonic Journals" will also mine the ballroom's archives.
I can't wait to see what's to come in this series. I doubt that it will offer up any Dead, since that band is so highly tied to Rhino Records, but some live Quicksilver and Airplane would be nice.
I know I'm jumping the gun a bit by talking about "Live at the Carousel Ballroom 1968" -- which doesn't hit stores until March 13 -- but I'm just too excited about the series to keep it to myself. Mark your calendars and keep checking www.legacyrecordings.com.
Source: 2012 Punmaster's MusicWire punmaster.com