Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The Lion's Share, San Anselmo

The Lion's Share in San Anselmo near San Francisco was a popular performance venue for Van.  Van first appeared at the Lion's share 13 times in the early 70s.  His first show was on February 10, 1971 and his last was three years later on June 3, 1974.  Some of the 13 shows were brief affairs showcasing only one or two songs.  Could this one club be the inspiration for songs like Listen to the Lion, Snow in San Anselmo and The Lion This Time?   
The club was located at 60 Red Hill Avenue, San Anselmo in between what is now Redhill Auto and what was Hatt's Custom Choppers. It's a drab 1940s square retail-looking single storied building. It's got a weather-beaten coat of green paint on it now with lots of oleander growing out front.  It's just a block toward San Rafael, from United Market.  It became a premiere venue when The Lion's Share moved there from Sausalito in the 1960s.  It became known as a musicians hangout. Throughout much of 1970, the house band had been called Nu Boogaloo Express, featuring Mike Finnegan or Bill Champlin alternating on keyboards and vocals, and other local players like Danny Nudalman (guitar) Dave Schallock (bass or guitar) and Bill Vitt (drums).  Local residents like Phil Lesh or Van Morrison regularly hung out or played there.
Before it became The Lion's Share it was a hardware store called "Highland Hardware" and the district was referred to as Highland from the 1910s through to the 1940s.
It's popularity was sealed when Dale Curtis wrote an extended piece that appeared in the Berkeley Tribe in the October 3 - 9, 1969 edition.   Here's some of that piece that inspired a number of Berkleyites to seek out the tiny club. 

Berkley Tribe Article

Remember the little places? The coffee houses? The folk-rock bistros?  They were the spots where, for a reasonable cover (or none) you could get beer and wine and coffee and some of the finest music in the world the music that grew up and took over the Avalon and the Fillmore and the whole country as the "San Francisco Sound."
Most of those places have died off now, or priced themselves out of the market, leaving only nostalgia behind.
But. if you are one who remembers: Be Informed! The Lion’s Share Lives again in San Anselmo.
Mike Considine, who operated the Share in Sausalito in the mid sixties, is back in business. In those days he presented such top people as Sandy Bull (whose manager he used to be), the New Lost City Ramblers, Ramblin' Jack Elliot, Dino Valenti, and Rejoice (which made its first public appearance there).
After a couple of years of good times like this, Considine suddenly found himself fighting in the Marin County Board of Supervisors and in the Sausalito City Council to keep from being evicted.
The main complaint from the neighbours was noise: but the understood beef was the longhaired types who hung out at the Share.
Considine and his friends packed the Sausalito Council meeting and convinced the village elders that he was not too noisy. They voted 50 to keep him open. Mysteriously, the next night the Lion's Share burned down.
That was in November of'68. There was no fire insurance on the place, and Considine was out of business. One of the REALLY GOOD little folk-rock places seemed gone forever.
Not so! The new Lion's Share, at 60 Red Hill Avenue, does its predecessor proud. It has only been open a couple of weeks operating on Considine's friendships and on goodwill instead of bread, but already the clean sounds of Rejoice, Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks, and ROM have been tilling the night air.
The atmosphere is dark with beam ceilings, brick walls, tiffany lamps and relaxed. There are some problems with the sound system, but none with the performers. Saturday night, for example, the bill included guitarist Jeffrey Cain, Universal Medicine, and Dan Hicks. All were smooth, accomplished acts that worked well with a surprisingly full house (there has been virtually no advertising thus tar.
At present, the Share's schedule goes like this: dark Monday and Tuesday, new groups and no cover on Wednesday and Sunday. $1.50 cover on Thursday, $2.00 cover Friday and Saturday when the more established groups perform.
To eat: pizza, sandwiches, wine, beer, cider et cetera.
In later years after being The Lion's Share, it was a health food market called Campolindo and then became some sort of manufacturing facility or a machine shop of some kind with lots of big, floor-standing tools.   As of May, 2011, the place is now an optical shop.
One of the most notorious moments for the club occurred when Janis Joplin died.  She left money in her will for a funeral party which was held at The Lion's Share on October 26, 1971. The Grateful Dead performed.
Fan Memories
Anonymous   -   Given that the real greats like Janis Joplin, Van Morrison, and the Grateful Dead played here, the place should be something else than an "optical shop." Unless the locale offers a greater perspective, of course...
Rob Miller   -   The hippest joint around. The best place for music, long before Sleeping Lady, Uncle Charlie's, Pepperland, etc. My favourite venue to see the Sons of Champlin, Van Morrison, etc. Marin was abundantly blessed with music luminaries, and it seemed that they all played there.
Quick story to get the ball rollin': I was there one night with a pal to see the Sons. Probably around 1972. We had just turned 16,so we had driver's licenses, if I recall. My pal, who shall remain anonymous (Jeff McNear), had wolfed down a large platter of spaghetti and red-sauce moments before leaving my mom's house, and heading up to San Anselmo to see the show.
Once inside, we ordered pitcher after pitcher of beer. (they weren't too keen on checking ID's back then). Suitably looped, we made our way to the very front of the house, immediatley in front of the band, and rocked out for a while. I turned and looked at my pal, and he was white as a sheet, and sweating profusely. "Think I gotta sit down for a while", he says, and plops down right there. Scant moments later, he staggers to his feet, and spews around 4 pounds of pasta and tomato sauce on Geoff Palmer's monitor speaker, at the edge of the stage. Cool.
Bill Champlin is immediatly enraged, jumps down off stage, grabs drunken pal by the belt loops and collar, kicks open a side door and tosses him out!
Dave in Truckee   -   Lion's Share was great. We could get in at 14 and see the Son's, Clover, etc. My friend's mom would drop us off and then pick us up at closing. Was there a large bouncer there with long hair and a beard that wore a sherrif's star?
I remember a lot of "Hippies" there and the smell of dope. We probably could buy beer too! Don't forget River City and Sleeping Lady in Fairfax. Saw Eddy Money booed off stage at the SL many years ago.
Paul   -   I liked going there all the time , and I especially liked around 1972 when they would have Clover Play . I remember going upstairs to the private party room , that is where some action was when the band was taking a break.
Meadowsweet Rich   -   Hey Paul, I remember partying upstairs there with my old buddy Jim Tonge, who just recently passed away, we were up there before Commander Cody played one night when this guy wearing a vest and a driving cap & carrying a small briefcase walked into the room, "Any of you guys with Cody?" he asked, and then proceeded to introduce himself as 'Snortin Norton', turns out the briefcase was for his harmonicas, and he was later to be known as Norton Buffalo, later that night he jammed with Cody & The Airmen & really impressed everybody with his harp skills.
Artlife   -   how i wish i could remember anything about my lion's share days! i can imagine, though
JasonLewis   -   Still dying for some photos from the Lion's Share. Anyone think they may have something tucked away in a closet or album somewhere?
Meadowsweet Rich   -   Lions Share was a club located on Miracle Mile in the same block as United Market, in an easterly direction. The Share put on music & poetry reading, many well known locals played there. Van Morrison was a frequent performer when I was a high schooler, Commander Cody played there too. I remember the hill behind there as being a place people would hang out & socialize with beverages & herb before the shows.
Paul   -  I was at Bedrock Records yesterday , and right next door ( if I remember correctly ) was the old Lion's Share location , now it is Paradise Drive Tatoo Parlor.
Yo Storocco   -   Nope. The tattoo place was not Lion's Share. It was further down the Miracle Mile, towards the hub. Right next to, on the uphill side, of Redhill Automotive.  
Clancy   -   Lion's Share was a cool little club..remember seeing Mose Allison, The Sons, Norton Buffalo and some others there in the early days. Best story I can remember is one night The Sons were smoking up on the hill behind the club and the cops came up to bust 'em. Bill Champlin told the cops that they could arrest him, but that they (the cops) just HAD to smoke that pot---it was too good to waste! Don't know if the story was true, but it was told to me by Mark Isham one night at Marin Recorders in San Rafael...gave us all a howl.
Lemo  -   early Lion's Share down the street from the flick in Sausalito. We went in and ordered cheese fruit and wine, way underage and thought it was the coolest, man. Beatatude. poetry, folkies, tea, dark and a real eye opening gateway thought process that got us going to North Beach to check that whole scene out. We were blowin in da wind.
San Anselmo Share   -   saw my fav John Stewart one night, with Jerry Corbitt and Big ass chawing long hair Charlie Daniels. We didn't think he was such a jerk, then.  What ever did happen to Considine, anyway? sure did bring alot of great stuff to us all.
SteveC   -   Do you know the name of the bar across from the Lion's Share in the middle of Miracle Mile by a Chevron Station that was also in between the east and west bound lanes circa 1970.
Googuse   -   Across the street, here was a restaurant called The London Broil, which I think was owned by Barry Oldham, who later owned the Mayflower. There was also the Spanish place that had a few different names, but were all owned by Jose Pons He was an old girlfriend's dad and we used to loot booze from the restaurant. I remember the gas station was right past Amazing Grace, where the empty area is now.  What was the diner shaped building on the north side? I's always been a dry cleaner as far back as I can remember, which is about 1969-70
SteveC   -   Googuse, Every time I've driven past that dry cleaners I think, That had to be a diner or drive-in.  I walked in and asked about ten years ago but they didn't seem to know what architecture was, let alone diners and drive-ins.  C'mon old timers, step up. Tell us the origin.

Jerry Garcia at Lion's Share
Nostalgia Newbie   -   Anyone know who Meadowsweet Rich is in the post above? That story about being upstairs at the LS when Norton Buffalo came in...I was there! I've told that story many times. It was the last week when the LS closed down. Not only did Norton have his cosmetic case full of harmonicas, he also kept his stash in it and pulled out some doobs. And Jim Tongue was a good friend of mine....so sorry to hear of his passing.
Nostalgia Newbie   -   It was a very good year.  I was the cook at the Lion's Share around 1972 - Mike (Considine) was the owner and he needed to serve food so minors could be allowed in (mo money) he gave me a little room to the side of the liquor bar with a serve through window, and a cutting board - he explained the minor situation - and didn't want to be bothered by anything food related after that. The music and the scene was just so very hip. Van Morrison was there at least monthly it seemed - Sonny Terry & Brownie McGee - Herbie Hancock - Sun Ra - Jerry Garcia picking in a bluegrass band called 'Old and in the Way' - I cooked and served Jerry a cheeseburger at an afternoon sound-check - a very big moment for me - I'm a bit of a harmonica player and another idol, Charlie Musselwhite graced the stage - one afternoon when I came to work there were security guards outside and one of the bartenders had to come to the door and OK me before they'd let me in - the whole place had been 'rented' for a private party. 
As I was setting up in my 'kitchen' a guy came in with a sack of pot and a BIG chunk of hash - he started rolling hash/grass bombers and since it was my cutting board and I prided myself on rolling skills in those days I took over and when everything was rolled up he gave me two for my services - the opening act was a 3 or 4 piece with a very hip babe singing and playing a wicked slide guitar - after the set she and Mike had a little conference in my kitchen and when Mike left for his office we talked and she commented about the looseness of the party - cops standing watch outside - and inside there were barmaids walking around with a platter of free coke - piled high - no shit. She asked me if I had gotten high yet - meaning the coke - and I said no - and she whipped out a small glass vial and gave me a couple of toots from her coke spoon necklace - I was in hippie heaven - I don't KNOW who that gal was - but looking back it almost had to be Bonnie Raitt - I didn't know who she was at the time - so I can't say for sure - but it fits perfectly.

No comments:

Post a Comment