The Rhythm Dukes with Jerry Miller
San Francisco, CA
late 1969 - 1970
VG audience recording
Lineage: audience master > wav > flac
Mastering: None except indexing of tracks.
Disc 1 (40:06)
1. unknown title [start cut] 8:25
2. unknown title 6:46
3. unknown title 4:13
4. I Don't Know If I Was Right [start cut] 3:05
5. Forest Black 4:55
6. unknown title 3:59
7. instrumental 6:18
The above timings are song timings, not CD track timings.
Some years ago i received a box of master reels to transfer, all recorded in the S.F. area
in 1969 and 1970, and including a variety of artists. I think most of these are in
circulation, how widely i don't know. They were all recorded by the same taper, and these
were the original reels.
There's a long trail of guesses associated with this recording, and at the end we still
don't know much.
This recording is on the same tape as Taj Mahal and The Kinks from the end of November
1969. That recording was put on tape first, and then one channel of each side was used
for a new recording, essentially converting the tape to four single-channel mono sides.
The later recording consists of the Rhythm Dukes in one channel, with one Canned Heat track
at the end, and the remainder of the Canned Heat show on the other channel. It is clear
that the Taj Mahal / Kinks went on first, in both channels of each side, since small bits
of that recording remain on the Rhythm Dukes and Canned Heat channels in places where it
wasn't recorded over. So we know this comes from December 1969 or later.
The identity of the group on this recording was unknown to me for a long time. Finally
i suspected the Dukes and found the recently released studio CD by the group online with sound
samples, recordings from Spring 1970. One of the songs on that CD, "I Don't Know If I Was
Right," is on this tape. So i contacted Bill Champlin's management and sent them the
recording. Bill confirmed that this was the Rhythm Dukes, but according to him it was during
a period when he wasn't with the group. He wasn't familiar with tour dates, personnel,
or song titles from this period, so couldn't help with any other details.
Online information about the group is superficial, and doesn't help much pinning down
this recording. The Dukes formed sometime in late summer of 1969 with Jerry Miller, and
Champlin joined them sometime later when the Sons temporarily disbanded. There's a
Family Dog poster advertising the group "with Bill Champlin" for the dates 20-21 February
1970. So Champlin joined sometime before this. He then left later (in 1970, i think)
to return to the Sons. So there are two periods from which this recording might come:
December 1969 - February 1970, or sometime later in 1970. Another Family Dog poster
advertising 19-21 June 1970 dates still names Champlin, so he left the group later than
The group here seems to be at least a 5-piece: guitar, bass, drums, sax, and either keyboards
or 2nd guitar (depending on the song) which are probably played by the same person. That would
suggest Champlin, but i have to trust his judgment that he's not on this recording.
Certainly i don't hear lead vocals by him, only Miller's.
Most of the concert dates i can find for the group are at the Family Dog (660 Great Highway).
In addition, one of the tape boxes in this batch of tapes (not the box this tape is
in) has the following crossed out on the back:
"Family Dog 2 - The Rhythm Dukes with Jerry Miller 1 - Canned Heat - Harvey Mandel"
I think it's most likely that the box got switched at some point and was re-labeled with
new information, and that the original label refers to the Rhythm Dukes / Canned Heat
recording on this reel. Unfortunately there is no date on the box. So for now i'm
assuming that this tape, both Rhythm Dukes and Canned Heat, was recorded at a single
venue, and that it was probably the Family Dog at the Great Highway, either between
December 1969 and February 1970, or after June 1970.
The Rhythm Dukes website (http://rhythmdukes.com/) has a series of photos of the group
that are identified as from the Avalon, a gig with Canned Heat. Another webpage
(http://www.netchromatics.com/soc/rhythmdukes.html) has the same set of photos, but
here they are claimed to be from the Family Dog during the latter half of 1970. However,
this is all by the way since (a) Bill Champlin is in the photos, and (b) i see no evidence
of a sax player.
If we assume that this was indeed a bill shared by Canned Heat, their tour schedule might
be used to narrow down the dates. More on that when the Canned Heat recording is uploaded,
hopefully in a few days.
That's about all i can discover about this tape. If anyone is in contact with Jerry
Miller, maybe he could shed more light on this recording. For now, we can just enjoy one
of the few recorded remnants of the Rhythm Dukes' legacy.
There's another live recording of the Dukes previously torrented on Dime:
i recall there was some debate about whether this was recorded in 1969 or 1992, but i think
the consensus was that it was a reunion show from 1992.