Flashback 50 Years: Recalling the University Concert Board

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I came to Albany as a Freshman at SUNY in September of 1969, living in the downtown dorms (Alden Hall). Initially, I was disappointed when told I wouldn’t live on campus but was so happy in the long run & being just 3 blocks from the Salty Dog (later Bogies & a few other names along the way) also was a plus. on the free bus to campus one day I met Dave Riley & I must have been talking passionately about music since he told me he was the president of the University Concert Board and that he would get me on it my second semester.

1970 was a great year for music and the following are the bands that played; Derek and the Dominos, Canned Heat, The Moody Blues with John Mayall opening, Herbie Mann, Ten Wheel Drive (led by Genya Ravan), Mountain and Grand Funk Railroad together at the Palace; GFR were as loud as anything I’ve ever heard and I smoked hashish with Leslie West, a triple bill of Tom Rush, Gordon Lightfoot and John Sebastian, Johnny Winter who after about three songs had Edgar appear on Tobacco Road & took the show to another level, Miles Davis in the gym (I got into Jazz after this and can’t say who was in the band that night), we had Traffic in the Armory and at the last minute Dave asked me to bring the band to the stage in the center; Steve Winwood and I walked side by side w/ the rest of the band behind us and when we got to the 10-foot ladder I froze and blew my big moment & the band went on with out an introduction.

I dropped out of school temporarily when I got a draft lottery number in the 300s but dated a woman over the winter recess and moved in with her a month later, directly across from my dorm on Western Avenue. UCB brought Jefferson Airplane in late January with Hot Tuna opening for two shows and I was nervous about not getting in but when they let me in early they asked for a favor; to bring food to the Airplane’s locker room which I gladly did, Grace was pregnant (or had just given birth) and I smoked some amazing stuff before quickly getting kicked out. an amazing night with Papa John Creach playing all four sets.

I believe Derek and the Dominos was my first show as a member and a guy on the board told me to follow him, into the basement of the gym we went and he walked up to Clapton’s guitar case and took it out, and started playing it, soon followed by a roadie walking in and cursing him out, not saying anything to me.

It was a little embarrassing how little I had to do for my two free tickets to each concert. I believe there was only one show that they asked me to collect tickets to; Moody Blues / John Mayall which was a sellout and when someone handed me $5, they were gone before I even had time to react. Bands were getting more money in the wake of Woodstock but because our concerts were successful, we rarely lost much money so we could continue with great talent. One show that did poorly was Miles Davis in the gym and we closed the doors that split the venue in half.

A final note on two concerts at that time that were not UCB shows; The Who played Albany’s Palace Theater and performed most if not all of Tommy, quite amazing and an infamous concert was the Grateful Dead at The Armory. I didn’t buy a ticket not sure if it was the money, but I’m sure it wasn’t because of schoolwork, anyway, my roommate called me up to let me know there was a bomb scare and the Dead left without playing. I walked over and since no one was given a ticket stub back it was now a free concert with the opening act Buddy Miles headlining and I assume there was a lot of tripping taking place.

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