This is a list of Ace of Cups scheduled performances known to me. Since the sources of these dates are usually posters or ads, different shows may have been canceled or extended, and other acts may have played besides those advertised. As a result, I have little information about club gigs at this time. All venues in San Francisco except as noted. Please forward all new information, misinformation, updates and corrections. Thanks to all the people, including band members, who’ve helped with additional dates and details.
Spring 1967 forgotten venue, Etna, CA
At manager Amborose Hollingsworth’s insistence, the band debuts in a sleepy town somewhat near Arcata, far north of San Francisco. This gig is described in the liner notes to the Ace of Cups cd Its Bad For You But Buy It (Big Beat CDWIKD 236, 2003).
The lineup of Ace of Cups was:
Denise Kaufman-guitar, harmonica, vocals
Mary Ellen Simpson-lead guitar, vocals
Marla Hanson-organ, piano, vocals
Mary Gannon-bass, vocals
Diane Vitalich-drums, vocals
Spring and Summer 1967 -
A few smaller shows in the Bay Area, described in the liner notes, including the Tamarack Lodge near Bear Valley (see below), a gig near Mt. Shasta, and a fund-raiser on Mt. Tamalpais.
6.25.67 The Panhandle, Golden Gate Park - Jimi Hendrix Experience/Ace of Cups
Free concert. This was the week after Monterey Pop, and the Jimi Hendrix Experience was playing the Fillmore all week. The Electric Flag were rehearsing at the Ace of Cups house in Mill Valley, and that is how Ace of Cups got the call to open for Hendrix in the park. Hendrix used Mary Ellen Simpson’s amp.
The United Artists potboiler documentary “Revolution”, filmed in the summer of 1967, includes a brief clip of The Ace of Cups performing outdoors, exact date unknown, possibly in Golden Gate Park, but not in the Panhandle.
7.1.67 Mt. Tamalpais Outdoor Amphitheatre, Mill Valley
Thunderheaven Presents Festival of Growing Things -
Quicksilver Messenger Service/Blue Cheer/Sandy Bull/Congress of Wonders/Charlatans/Wildflower/Freedom Highway/Melvin Q Watchpocket/Ace of Cups/Lamp of Childhood /early posters included Miller Blues Band/Hugh Masakela/Mt. Rushmore
7.2.67 Mt. Tamalpais Outdoor Amphitheatre, Mill Valley
Thunderheaven Presents Festival of Growing Things -
Big Brother and The Holding Company/Country Joe and The Fish/Miller Blues Band/Sandy Bull/Congress of Wonders/Charlatans/Wildflowers/Freedom Highway/Melvin Q Watchpocket/Ace of Cups/Lamp of Childhood /early posters had Mt. Rushmore/Phoenix
According to Charles Perry, everyone who attended received a packet of flower seeds. Apocryphally, the 6.10-6.11 festival on Mt. Tam was the last rock concert at the venue, but perhaps this event was already scheduled and didn’t count. Thunderheaven was the production company of former Quicksilver patron Ambrose Hollingsworth.
Former Ace of Cups member Mary Gannon, posting on the yahoo Cippolina group, said she does not recall Big Brother playing, and that Quicksilver played both days instead. Also, according to her, Eric Burdon appeared on one day. The Animals were at the Fillmore that week.
8.4-5.67 Continental Ballroom, Santa Clara - Quicksilver Messenger Service/James Cotton Blues Band/Congress of Wonders/Ace of Cups
The Ace of Cups meet Quicksilver Messenger Service manager Ron Polte who ends up taking over management from Ambrose Hollingsworth.
Fall 67-Early 1968 -
Polte starts booking the band at local clubs, including The Matrix in San Francisco, the New Orleans House in Berkeley, and the Poppycock in Palo Alto (as a footnote, the Poppycock may not have opened until 1969).
10.8.67 Family Park, Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, San Jose - Big Brother and The Holding Company/Quicksilver Messenger Service/Mother Earth/Mad River/Freedom Highway/Ace of Cups/Dr. West’s Medicine Show
Haight Ashbury Medical Clinical Benefit.
1.5-6-7.68 Avalon - Youngbloods/Ace of Cups
3.20.68 Avalon - All Men Joy/Blue Cheer/Ace of Cups/Black Swan/Creedence Clearwater
KMPX Strike Fund Benefit.
KMPX-fm was the first underground rock station, but Tom Donahue and his staff went out on strike in protest of ownership’s refusal to share the wealth (the staff later moved en masse to KSAN). The original handbill shows Ace of Cups billed over Creedence, at that time an obscure club band from El Cerrito. Many other acts may have actually played this benefit, including the Grateful Dead.
4.6 or 7.68 Outside The Ark, Gate 6, Sausalito - Quicksilver Messenger Service/Ace of Cups/Freedom Highway/Phoenix/The Boogie/Pacific Flash/Morning Glory/The Smoke/Dino Valenti/Clover/Gail Garnett and Gentle Rain and many more
A benefit (admission 1.00) 10 am -8 pm.
4.12-13-14.68 Avalon - The Fugs/Ace of Cups/All Men Joy
All Men Joy was a San Francisco group. Duane and Gregg Allmanís group at the time was The Hour Glass.
4.24.68 Straight Theater - Big Brother and The Holding Company/Sons of Champlin/Congress of Wonders/Curley Cookeís Hurdy Gurdy Band/Indian Head Band/Ace of Cups/Phoenix
ìTime Again to Save The Straight Theater.î
5.10-11-12.68 Avalon - Quicksilver Messenger Service/Ace of Cups/Flamin Groovies
5.16-17.68 Balconades Ballroom, San Jose - Flamin Groovies/Ace of Cups
The Balconades Ballroom was an old Ballroom in San Jose (from the 1930s or before). It had been part of a Country and Western circuit for performers like Hank Williams and Bob Wills back when San Jose was an agricultural center and the biggest radio station (KEEN 1370 AM) played country music. There were some rock shows at Balconades in 1968.
5.31-6.1.68 Straight Theater - Notes From The Underground/Ace of Cups/Liberty Street
6.23.68 Speedway Meadows, Golden Gate Park - Quicksilver Messenger Service/Ace of Cups
A free Summer Solstice concert. Date contributed by Kenneth Loh based on his photo.
7.10.68 Avalon - Quicksilver Messenger Service/Ace of Cups/American Indian DancersBenefit for American Indian Well-Baby Clinic. The Poster is in Paul Grushkinís fine book The Art of Rock.
7.12-13.68 Sound Factory, Sacramento - Steppenwolf/Ace of Cups/Initial Shock
7.20.68 The Bold Knight, Sunnyvale - Sons of Champlin/Ace of Cups
The Bold Knight was a ìteen clubî (underage welcome) in Sunnyvale, a suburb of San Jose. It was located on 769 North Matilda Avenue.
8.3-4.68 The Garage at Tamarack Lodge, Calaveras County - Ace of Cups
The handbill (reprinted on the cd) says ëFriday August 3 and Saturday August 4í, but that fits no year that the Ace of Cups performed, so the handbill must be inaccurate. I have assumed that the correct year is 1968 (when 8.3-4 would have been Saturday and Sunday), but in fact I canít be sure. The handbill says ìon highway four, the road to Bear Valleyî. Bear Valley is a ski area in the lower Sierra Nevada Mountains, and the venue was probably a ski lodge.
8.9-10.68 Sound Factory, Sacramento - Quicksilver Messenger Service/Ace of Cups/Congress of Wonders
8.31.68 Palace of Fine Arts Festival - Mike Bloomfield Jam Band/Quicksilver Messenger Service/The Lamb/Linn County/AB Skhy/Ace of Cups
Faren Miller has a detailed review in her diaries. The billing was somewhat different than what she describes, and its not clear who were no-shows and who she simply missed or didnít comment on. John Handy, Steve Miller, Big Mama Thornton, and HP Lovecraft were billed, and Mike Bloomfield was not. Miller specifically refers to HP Lovecraft as no-shows, but the rest arenít referenced. Faren Miller (then a teenager, and a thorough and accurate diarist) says ìThen we went to the middle stage, where we stayed for the rest of the afternoon. All of a sudden the Quicksilver/West Pole people showed up, because the Ace of Cups were coming on. Ron and Frank Polte and the ìAce of Cups manî [roadie] arrived along with the girls. Ron looks almost like a cartoon character with his pointy nose, his lank thatch of hair, and his inevitable black leather jacket. The Ace of Cups looked pretty good: Mary Simpsonís hair is longer, and she less resembles Jimmy Murray now; Mary Gannon was demure in a white-collared purple smock dress and black tights; Marla wore dark pants and shirt and she was barefoot; Diane wore the flowered bell bottoms her mother had made for her and a black velvet blouse; Denise looked incredible in a white East Indian pajama outfit, and her hair was tied back from her ears with a long blue scarf. All of them sang beautifully, their voices enhanced by the placeís echo-chamber effect. One number was actually a trio of gentle songs sung by both Marys and Denise. They ìcranked it upî with Denise doing ìGypsy Boyî, jumping all over and madly playing harmonica. Every song was a delight, as (San Francisco Chronicle music columnist) Ralph Gleason would say (he was there), and I couldnít quibble with the girls musicianship at all. They write their own material, and they put most groups to shame in that area. Marla sang ìLord, Lord, Lord, Wonít You Listen to Your Childrenî. They did a tribute to life in the country (ìsitting on the back porch, smoking a peace pipeî); another song, ìCirclesî, put down city life -- obviously, the Cups live in the country. They closed with the acapella ìNo More Warî, an appropriate song in these days after the Chicago Democratic Convention. Later in the show Miller describes the Cups coming back on stage to sing with Mike Bloomfieldís group; ìBut both eyes turned to the stage when Bloomfield suddenly called up all the Ace of Cups to join him. Giggling, they formed a semicircle around a microphone and practiced a few ìBaby's" under Mikeís direction. ìWeíre the Bloomettesî Denise laughed. (She was now wearing the gold-rimmed spectacles sheíd donned offstage.) The Cups provided soulful background while Mike sang a blues song. Heís a good singer as well as guitarist, and he also plays organ. Everyone loved the Cups.
9.20.68 Community Theatre, Berkeley - Grateful Dead/Steve Miller Band/Ace of Cups
9.21.68 The Bank, Torrance, CA - Quicksilver Messenger Service/Sons of Champlin/Love Ace of Cups
9.22.68 Del Mar Fairgrounds, Del Mar, CA - Grateful Dead/Buddy Miles Express/Taj Mahal/Quicksilver Messenger Service/Sons of Champlin/Mother Earth/Curly Cookeís Hurdy-Gurdy Band/Youngbloods/Ace of Cups/Phoenix
Buddy Miles Express is billed as ìFormerly: The Electric Flag.î An eyewitness reports that Steve Miller Band performed as well, with Boz Scaggs still in the band. This would have been one of the last shows with Scaggs in the band.
10.4-5-6.68 Avalon - Quicksilver Messenger Service/Black Pearl/Ace of Cups
Faren Miller has more comments from the Saturday night (10.5.68) show (she was a college freshman at the time): ìIt really wasnít fair to make the Ace of Cups come on after that. Theyíre charming girls, but they have none of the Quickís [relative] professionalism. Luckily, they made a good impression by virtue of their charm and their fine songs. After a good ovation for one number, Mary Gannon (the brunette) smiled, ìThanks, men.î The Cups were loveably disorganized, haphazardly picking each song before they played it and tuning as much as the Quicksilver (John attributed the Quickís problems to the full moon). Mary Simpson called to the equipment man for help. She had no makeup but was dressed well in a dark minidress, dark tights and black boots. Sheís getting less and less tomboyish. Mary G. wore a green and buff Indian tunic over brown velour trousers. Diane, whoís always darling, wore a patterned blouse and a fringed miniskirt over bare legs. Good old Denise had white trousers and a dark top, and she was wearing her spectacles. Her masses of frizzy hair waved about, though part of it was tied back. It must grow very quickly. Marla was plainly dressed in dark slacks and shirt. She looked like a serious little girl most of the time, except during some vocal solos (and also when she was talking with the equipment man, and with David Freiberg who got her beaming in short order). The Cups only had one set, so it was longer than the other groups. They sounded a bit shrill on most of the up-tempo numbers, while instrumentally theyíre adequate, but after the Quick.... Still, there were some lovely moments in their set, and they made a lot of friends tonight (especially with the men, as Mary G. noted).î
The Ace of Cups play various clubs around the Bay Area, including The Inn of The Beginning in Cotati and The Poppycock in Palo Alto. The Poppycock, on High and University in Downtown Palo Alto, had previously been The Top of The Tangent, where Jerry Garcia and others had played in a jug band that the preceded the Grateful Dead. The venue burned down in about 1971.
3.27.69 Avalon - Cleveland Wrecking Company/Ace of Cups/Conqueroo/Morning Glory
The Family Dog was no longer promoting shows at the Avalon. This show was promoted by Sound Proof Productions. A stage announcement for 3.23.69 says Linn County will play this night, and doesnít mention Conqueroo.
4.10.69 Robertson Gym, UCSB, Isla Vista,CA - Canned Heat/Poco/Ace of Cups
4.17-18.19.69 Winterland - The Band/Sons of Champlin/Ace of Cups
First live appearance of The Band (as The Band, rather than as the Hawks).
4.20.69 Civic Center Plaza Sons of Champlin/Ace of Cups/Freedom Highway
Date contributed by Kenneth Loh, based on his photo.
Spring '69 Multi-Purpose Room, Campolindo High School, Moraga, CA - Ace of Cups
Reported by a student at the school at the time. Moraga was just over the hill from Berkeley. The Grateful Dead also played a gig at this high school during this period (on 5.16.69). A ìMulti-Rurpose Roomî was '60s California public-school speak for a gym/auditorium.
1968 or 69 St. Elizabethís High School, Oakland, CA - Quicksilver/Ace of Cups
Reported by a poster on the Ace of Cups message board as well as the johncipollina.com guestbook. It is possible that the posters referred to different gigs, but I doubt it. If Quicksilver played, then the show has to be 1968.
6.8.69 Unitarian Center (SF) - Sons of Champlin/Bycycle /Freedom Highway/International Press/Indian Gold/Ace of Cups/Mark of Kings/Dementia/Dr. Zarkof/Phoenix/Freedom/Interplayers Circus/Douglas Waugh/Morning Glory/Kevin, Gino and Cynthia
Benefit for The Fellowship Church at the Unitarian Center (poster from AOR). The church was on Geary at Franklin.
7.5.69 Bullfrog Music Festival, near Estacada (Clackamas County), OR - Jefferson Airplane/Sons of Champlin/Ace of Cups/Portland Electric ZooBand/FamilyTree/Mixed Blood/other local bands
A 3-day festival held outside Oregon City (about 20 miles south of Portland) on private land at Bullfrog Lake Trailer Park.
7.7.69 Fillmore West - Jefferson Airplane/Ace of Cups/Phoenix/Fourth Way
This Monday night show was a benefit for the forthcoming (and ultimately canceled) Wild West Rock Festival in Golden Gate Park.
7.19.69 - Iron Triangle, Seaside ëNicksilverí/Ace of Cups
The actual billing of Quicksilver is unknown, but probably wasnít ìQuicksilver Messenger Service,î according to a 1997 interview with David Freiberg. The lineup was Freiberg, John Cippolina, Greg Elmore, Nick Gravenites, and possibly a brief guest appearance by Nicky Hopkins. The Iron Triangle was a former burlesque club, no doubt usually in service of our nationís soldiers at nearby Fort Ord.
7.28.69 Griffith Park, Los Angeles - Jefferson Airplane/Sons of Champlin/Ace of Cups
A Monday afternoon free concert. The LA Police attend, in full riot gear.
8.22.69 Fillmore West - Quicksilver Messenger Service/Youngbloods/Womb/4th Way/Ace of Cups/The Committee
Benefit for Wild West Festival Organizer. Quicksilver headlined another Wild West ëmakeupí gig at the Avalon the next night. According to the ever-reliable Faren Miller, Mary Simpson had left the group by this time. Miller attended and wrote down her usual detailed observations:
The Cups evoked strange thoughts in me, because the group has gone through a situation paralleling the early Quicksilver. Mary Simpson (who always reminded us of folksy Jimmy Murray) has left, just as Jimmy left. The result is the same too: a revitalized group. The Cups have improved remarkably, however, while the Quick mainly recouped. At last the Cupsí cycle of good-show-then-bad-show has been broken. Their set was glorious! The theme of the benefit (as I should have mentioned above) was ìLetís Get It Togetherî, and thatís just what the girls have done. Their set opened with a driving song worthy of any top S.F. group. Mary Gannon seems to have a new Fender bass with a great tone, and it boomed while Denise rasped out lead guitar and Marla played some fine organ. Diane is less tentative on the drums. By their sound the Cups could have been a seasoned male group, though their appearance seemed really incongruous. [Oops ... even a female diarist could make such casually sexist remarks in the days before Womenís Lib! Sorry gals.] Mary G. had a long red dress tied at the waist with a dangling sash - she was barefoot, and the dress kept slipping off one shoulder as she jerked wildly with the bass. Dianeís long hair (lighter at the edges now) hung over the drums, unlike any shaggy-haired male drummerës. Tiny bespectacled Denise hopped about, also barefoot, wearing jeans and a red velvet tunic, her frizzy hair flying. Marla leaned over her electric organ, a long ribbon in her hair. Between songs, the Cups were the picture of disorganization: retuning, saying ìI forget the chordsî or ìWhatíll we do now?î, but once they began to play they were excellent. The music was strong, the lyrics feminine (if a bit one-track-minded). On ìIím Looking for a Pathî Mary sang with Denise chiming in on choruses. Next they did a song about looking for a man (a great screamer blues by Denise). Then a song about hoping for a man to return, with fresh-baked bread, candles, and love waiting for him (A real house-and-hearth number). Then the lovely ìWelcome, Jolinaî about birth, followed by ìGypsy Boyî (ìI wanta have your babyî). A few songs later, the set closed with a spoof(?) about having an empty bed. See the thread here? The ìJolinaî song was in two parts, moving from fast and rocking (about the pregnancy -ìyour daddyís here and your motherís waitiní on youî), to sweet and choral, while the lyrics nicely linked the seasons, birth and death, and renewal. It got a very good reception, as did all the set. Besides that marvelous screamer by Denise, they had some great shouters. On one number, Marla used a wailing voice, creaking with emotion, that was really effective. The instrumental breaks were ìall fineî (as Ralph Gleason would say). For ìGypsy Boyî, a big Barry-Meltonish fellow called ìEarthquakeî was called upon to blow harp, and he did it quite well. During the upbeat numbers, good old Frank Polte was jogging about at the far left of the stage, a big grin on his face. Meanwhile, Denise was dancing all over the place banging on a tambourine - she got over to the right of the stage where a crazy guy had been dancing in a freaked-out manner all through the set. A wispy blonde occasionally danced there too, though she and the guy never seemed to be aware of each other. The last number was one that they evidently hadnít done in ages. Marla protested that she couldnít remember it at all. Denise just had everybody crowd together, so Marla came out from behind her organ. (Sheís amazingly tall, maybe even taller than Mary, and both girls dwarf little Denise). This last song was a slow 50s style ballad with silly lyrics: ìItís just no fun (da da da da) when you sleep alone (da da da da)î and ìWhat use are two pillows/ When Iíve only got one head?î Mary delivered a brief monolog in the middle, in true antediluvian rock fashion. Marla kept breaking up, when not chiming in on the choruses. It seemed like a burlesque version of the earlier ìplease come homeî song. So the Aceís set ended without a single bad number. Maybe losing a member forced them to come of age."
9.24.69 Fillmore West - Itís A Beautiful Day/Sanpaku/Sons of Champlin/Ace of Cups/The Outlaws (Dino Valenti and Garry Duncan)/Terry Dolan
Bay Area Drug Committee Presents At Bill Grahamís Fillmore West A Benefit Show Save The Children. This was the only appearance by Duncan and Valenti as ëThe Outlaws.í
10.10.69 PNE Agrodome, Vancouver, BC Jefferson Airplane/Ace of Cups
10.11.69 Seattle Center Arena, Seattle, WA - Jefferson Airplane/Ace of Cups >xx.1970 Lanai Theater, Crockett, CA Quicksilver Messenger Service/Ace of Cups
Mary Gannon mentioned this on the Yahoo Cippolina group. Apparently only 3 people attended, two of them West-Poleís managers.
7.14-15.70 Family Dog at The Great Highway - Terry Reid/Cat Mother and The All-Night Newsboys/Ace of Cups
5.1.71 Friends and Relations Hall - Hot Tuna/Ace of Cups/Stoneground
Friends and Relations Hall was the former ëFamily Dogí at 660 Great Highway. By this time, guitarist Mary Ellen Simpson had been replaced by Joe Allegra on guitar. Noel Jewkes (Denise Kaufmanís husband) played horns with the group, and sometimes Jerry Granelli joined Diane Vitalich on drums. A woman named Lolly Lewis also sang and played piano during this period.
6.3.71 Friends and Relations Hall - New Riders of The Purple Sage/Country Joe McDonald/Stoneground/Grootna/Ace of Cups
ìA Party for Mother Earthî.
6.28.71 Friends and Relations Hall - Hot Tuna/Stoneground/Ace of Cups
Itís not clear if the May and June shows are different gigs. 1971 Fiesta Del Sol, Havana, Cuba Referred to in the Ace of Cups cd liner notes.
9.25.71 Friends and Relations Hall - Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna/Papa John Creach/Jack Bonus/Ace of Cups/Black Kangaroo/One Grunt Records Party
Jeff Tamarkin writes about this in outtakes to his Got A Revolution book. This was a 10-hour extravaganza, a private party for the band and their friends. The Airplane were apparently much the worse for wear when they came on stage. The show ended with a jam featuring members of the Airplane, Dead, Quicksilver, and inexplicably, Alice Cooper.
After David Freiberg left Quicksilver for good in summer 1971 he played bass for Ace of Cups (presumably replacing Mary Gannon). The group petered out in mid-1972.