Photograph Courtesy of Mr Leon Tabory




Corry Arnold

Plainsboro, NJ


Latest Update: February 9, 2013


The Barn, Scotts Valley, California 1965-1968

Note that this essay is entirely the work of Corry Arnold.  The words remains entirely unmolested by me. My two cents will be added when the update to the story of The Barn arrives shortly - as further information has now come to light.  In the interim, it has been discovered that the album cover photographs for Country Joe and the Fish's "Electric Music For The Mind and Body" were taken at The Barn.  Way down at the bottom of the page is some further information about this.

In the brief window following the Fillmore and Avalon sudden flowering upon the world, concert ballrooms sprouted of their own accord all over the West, and subsequently elsewhere.  Frank Zappa’s satiric comment “Psychedelic dungeons popping up on every street” was not so far from the truth.  Most of these venues are remembered for their posters, and for the nights that famous groups like The Grateful Dead played there.  However, prior to the rise of Rolling Stone Magazine and FM radio, each scene was very local, as there was no “circuit”.  People just saw a few pictures in the paper, bought a Jefferson Airplane album, heard the stories from people who had hitchhiked to San Francisco and started a venue of their own. Local longhairs came to see the local bands, that had usually just formed.

Scott’s Valley, a Santa Cruz County town of a few thousand, 6 miles North of Santa Cruz, 30 miles Southwest of San Jose and 68 miles South of San Francisco, is now an affluent suburb, nestled in the mountains amongst wineries but still in easy commuting distance of major industries.  In the 1960s, however, the city of Santa Cruz itself was just a rural beach resort area, and Scott’s Valley was well off the beaten path.  Nonetheless, Scott’s Valley, and the Santa Cruz Mountains generally, had a long history of peculiar attractions.  Besides Santa’s Village, Holy City and The Mystery Spot (all unique and strange County sites), a Scott’s Valley farmer named Axel Erlandson had a “Tree Circus” of strangely shaped trees.  When he died in 1964, another entrepreneur bought it and added 25-foot steel dinosaurs.  These dinosaurs were easily visible from Highway 17, causing many children on their way to beach  in the 1960s to beg their parents to stop at The Lost World.  Thus a psychedelic ballroom in rural Scotts Valley was just one of a long line of peculiar entertainments.

According to articles by Carolyn Swift in The Santa Cruz Sentinel, The Barn was promoted by Santa Cruz clinical psychologist Leon Tabory. The University of California at Santa Cruz had just opened in Fall 1965, and Santa Cruz was going from a sleepy resort town to a much more interesting place. A bookstore called The Hip Pocket opened on Pacific Avenue in 1964. Besides free-thinking literature, it featured two huge metallic nude sculptures by artist Ron Boise, who was associated with Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters.  At a 1965 obscenity trial, Dr Tabory helped exonerate the Bookstore.  Click here for some memories of Santa Cruz in the later 60s.

The Catalyst Coffee Shop opened near The Hip Pocket, and became a hangout for the nascent hippie scene.  The Hip Pocket went bankrupt in 1966, but its stock of books were the basis for Santa Cruz mainstay Bookshop Santa Cruz.  Bookshop Santa Cruz (near its original location) and The Catalyst (now a bar and restaurant a few blocks west) are still mainstays of downtown Santa Cruz.

According to the Scott’s Valley Historic Society, The Barn was originally the Frapwell Dairy Barn from 1914 to 1948.  Afterwards it was remodeled as a sort of community center/gymnasium/theater.  Around 1965 it was taken over by one Eric Nord, proprietor of a string of clubs and coffee shops throughout California, and apparently founder of San Francisco’s Hungry I.  Presumably Nord and Tabory had some kind of partnership. There seems to have been a coffee shop and art gallery in nearby Aptos called The Sticky Wicket, and there seems to be some connection between The Barn and The Sticky Wicket, possibly Eric Nord.

The Barn was a two-story structure, with the larger area on the second floor.  The upstairs was used for basketball games and theater performances, and that was the main performance area for rock bands.  The downstairs seems to have served as a sort of coffee house. Psychedelic murals were painted throughout the venue.  Apparently Dr Tabory felt that people needed a “performance space”. 


Thanks are due to Eve Miyasaki for using this image and

images of he other handbills created for the Barn

Available memories seem to emphasize the light shows, and it appears that mainly local bands played there.  In a photo (taken in 1954)  it appears to be the sort of venue that would hold several hundred people, but not large by ballroom standards. City Council minutes from the 60s protest the arrival of “beatniks and deadbeats”.  Leon Tabory provides a brief account of The Barn.

Scott’s Valley was so small at the time that posters for The Barn only indicated directions to Scott’s Valley itself (Scott’s Valley Drive, just off Highway 17).  The Barn ceased being a nightclub by 1968, as the Baymonte Christian School took over the site. The Barn became a dinner theater in an RV park in the 70s, and eventually a warehouse for Seagate Technologies. The Barn was torn down in 1991.

This limited information represents what I have been able to determine about shows at The Barn in Scott’s Valley. Anyone with additional information, comments or insights, real or imagined, please contact me.

Corry Arnold

Plainsboro, NJ

July 2005


The Barn Timeline



August 1965




A reference to a newspaper article (in an on-line clip file) says that Eric Nord announces he will make The Barn into a performance venue.

April or May 1966




A newsgroup post refers to having seen Big Brother and The Holding Company at The Barn prior to Janis Joplin joining the group, which places it roughly in this time period (Janis’s first band appearance was June 10, 1966).

May 22, 1966 


Club, San Jose

Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band



Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band played the Avalon on May 20 and 21, 1966 (Friday and Saturday).  The poster lists shows on May 20, 21 and 22.  However, detailed memories from Magic Band bassist Gary Marker on the Beefheart gig list website include a gig on Sunday that was not at the Avalon (the Avalon show was cancelled).  Marker remembers driving 50 miles south to a Barn-like structure.  Since Marker also remembers skipping his wife’s birthday to play the show (he had to fill in for regular Magic Band bassist Jerry Handley) it is likely that the memories are clearer than the usual 60s vagueness.


Although it is impossible to say with any certainty, it does appear Beefheart played The Barn on May 22, 1966.

October 7-8 and/or 15-16, 1966


The Barn, Scotts Valley

New Delhi River Band



These shows are referred to in the legendary, almost weekly Haight-Ashbury Fanzine Mojo Navigator #9 (October 17, 1966).  An item in the Gossip section says “There is a place called ‘The Barn’ in Scotts Valley near Santa’s Village which has been putting on some weekly happenings lately with the New Delhi River Band and a couple of others”.  The precise dates and the actual number of shows are merely assumed by me.


The New Delhi River Band was one of the first white blues bands in the South Bay.  It featured guitarist David Nelson and bassist Dave Torbert, both well-known later as members of the New Riders of The Purple Sage.  Apparently the New Delhi River Band played many shows at The Barn.

October 13, 1966 


The Barn, Scotts Valley

13th Floor Elevators/Lincoln Street Exit/Burgundy Runn



This is the only flyer or poster that I have seen for a weeknight show (October 13, 1966 was a Wednesday).  The 13th Floor Elevators, based in San Francisco during this period, had a popular hit with “You’re Gonna Miss Me.”


Lincoln Street Exit appears to be a San Jose area band (I know there was a New Mexico band with the same name, but I find it doubtful it was them).  I know nothing about Burgundy Runn.

October 22-23, 1966


The Barn, Scotts Valley

SF Mime Troupe



The same paragraph in Mojo Navigator quoted above goes on to add “They have light shows too and the cost is $1.50.  Call 423-5198 for information.  This week on the 22 and 23 of Oct. the S.F. Mime Troupe will be there.  I think the place actually is a barn…” Long-time Bay Area residents will note that Santa Cruz still has the same area code as San Francisco (as did Berkeley and San Jose at that time).

October 28-29, 1966 


The Barn, Scotts Valley

New Delhi River Band



There is a surviving poster of these shows.  The Magic Theatre provided the light show.  This poster (or handbill — its not clear) also includes a map showing how to get to Scott’s Valley. No address for The Barn is given, as it is apparently not needed.

November 12, 1966 


The Barn, Scotts Valley

The Merry Pranksters/The New Dimension



The date is approximate but likely accurate.  This performance is described in detail in the last chapter of Tom Wolfe’s book Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.  What was left of the Merry Pranksters was based in Soquel at Ken Babb’s house.  They had rock band equipment (guitars, drums, amplifiers, lights, tape delay devices, etc) but the Pranksters weren’t really musicians, and their shows were more like performance art.  The New Dimension was a local jazz trio.  They did not appreciate the Pranksters electronic interruptions to their performance and stomped out.


The Pranksters apparently conceived this performance as a sort of acid test in the guise of a rock show.  However, only 80 or so people attended the event (according to Wolfe), and the Pranksters as a rock band were hardly the Grateful Dead.  Eventually almost everyone but them leaves, including club owner Leon Taboory (sic), who tells them “just shut the door tight when you leave”.

November 18-19, 1966 


The Barn, Scotts Valley

Big Brother and The Holding Company



The Big Brother list has November 14 and November 19, but I find November 18 and November 19 more plausible, as they are weekend days, although I have no facts to back it up.

December 3, 1966 


The Barn, Scotts Valley

Country Joe and The Fish, New Age



Around this time, Country Joe and The Fish also spend a week rehearsing and playing at The Barn in Santa Cruz, to teach new drummer Chicken Hirsh the songs and prepare for the recording of Electric Music for the Mind and Body.  It is been hard to date the rehearsal precisely, but it is known that Country Joe and The Fish did play three advertised dates during December of 1966 and January of 1967.

December 23, 1966 


The Barn, Scotts Valley

Country Joe and The Fish




December 23, 1966 


The Barn, Scotts Valley

Country Joe and Janis Joplin sing at the wedding of a couple 



January 20-21, 1967 


The Barn, Scotts Valley

Country Joe and The Fish/New Delhi River Band



It is unclear from the handbill if Country Joe and The Fish and the New Delhi River Band played both nights or if Country Joe and The Fish played Friday January 20 and New Delhi River Band Saturday.

February 17, 1967 


The Barn, Scotts Valley

Spirits/Peter and His Group



I know nothing about either of these groups (the Los Angeles group Spirit was not yet known by this name).

February 18, 1967 


The Barn, Scotts Valley

New Delhi River Band/Peter and His Group




February 25, 1967


The Barn, Scotts Valley

Big Brother and The Holding Company


At one of the Big Brother shows (November or February), The Hershey Gumbo Band played in the downstairs area.  This band was made up of at least some people who lived in “The Chateau” after Jerry Garcia and others moved out. The steel guitarist would have been Palo Alto resident Ralph Saunders.  Hershey Gumbo’s performance encouraged so many people to come downstairs that a peeved Janis Joplin came down to see what was going on.

March 24-25, 1967


Civic Auditorium, Santa Cruz

Quicksilver Messenger Service


Marc Skobac’s QMS list has them at SC Civic, but a Barn gig makes much more sense. QMS was billed at the Avalon on the 22nd, 23rd and 26th, so Friday (24th) and Saturday (25th) shows at The Barn are very plausible.

April 1967:




According to Charles Perry’s excellent book Haight-Ashbury: A History (Vintage: 1985), the Barn is closed around this time, apparently by order of the authorities.

June 3-6, 1967


The Barn, Scotts Valley




A flyer for The Barn says “We’re Open Wed. & Thurs. Evenings 8pm-12, Mostly Fellowship.  Friday and Saturday Nights Magic Theatre Lights, New Delhi River Band, Peter & His Group & Others. Jun.3-6 Free Auditions.”


I take this to mean that The Barn had just reopened and was announcing its forthcoming schedule.  June 3 thru 6, 1967 was Monday to Thursday, so I take it that the venue was auditioning bands.  I believe the “Mostly Fellowship” reference means that the venue would be open, probably as a coffee house, but it may or may not include music on those nights.

June 7, 1967


The Barn, Scotts Valley

New Delhi River Band


The dates are inferred from the above flyer.

June 8, 1967


The Barn, Scotts Valley

Peter & His Group


The dates are inferred from the above flyer.

March 1968


The Barn, Scotts Valley

Sons of Eternity


A prospective faculty member at UC Santa Cruz visit’s the area and is taken to the Barn.  He reports that the Sons of Eternity supposedly lived in tree houses in Big Sur, and played ‘strange instruments.’  These would have been the various “Thunder Machines” designed by the (late) Ron Boise.  The Thunder Machines had been part of the Merry Pranksters Acid Test equipment.


“I rented a car and drove out to the barn. It was the place that Leon Tabory was running as a sort of psychedelic social experiment, you might say. I went there looking for Fred Shanahan and got my mind blown. There were paintings all over the walls by Joe Lyzowsky, whom I later got to know -- fluorescent paintings with black lights shining on them.  A band from Big Sur was playing. These people (it was said) actually lived in trees there. They had some kind of musical instruments that nobody had ever seen before -- sculptures by Ron Boise. Tree people from Big Sur playing sculptures by Ron Boise under black lights for an audience of three hundred people--men, women and children--all of whom (it seemed to me) were stoned on acid. My mind was blown”.

Mid 1968





The Barn closes, due both to community objections and the fact that smaller, regional ballrooms were being squeezed by bigger venues in larger cities.

Other bands named who supposedly played The Barn

The Santa Cruz Sentinel article lists Country Joe, Janis Joplin, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead.  All are possible, but evidence of both the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane suggests performances unlikely.

The Scotts Valley Chamber of Commerce site asserts that Led Zeppelin played there, but this is self-evidently impossible as Zeppelin did not form until after The Barn closed. Nonetheless, in the way of these things, there is the chance that some English act played there, and certainly the Yardbirds came through California in summer 1967. There is a distinct whiff that some epic night in 1967 some famous Englishmen showed up at The Barn, but it has been impossible to pin down.  Certainly the Doors, Cream and The Yardbirds all toured Northern California at length in the summers of 1967 and 1968, so rumoured sightings of Page, Clapton and Morrison at The Barn are not so far-fetched as they might seem.

Another internet commentator (running for President I might add), claims that The Doors, Cream and Jimi Hendrix showed up to jam one night at The Barn when he was about 10. A little more reliably, this commentator says The Barn was located “a few hundred feet from the Church” in Scotts Valley, perhaps explaining why the townspeople were so unsettled by ‘beatniks and deadbeats.’

Electric Music For The Mind and Body

In January 1967 Vanguard Records recruited Bay Area photographer John Bagley to head down to The Barn to take some pictures of their new recording artists, Country Joe and The Fish.  Bagley would go on to work with artist Tom Weller on the production of one of the Country Joe and the Fish monthly calendars (March 1967).  The photographs, taken in all probability on January 20 or January 21 with the Magic Theater Light Show, are shown below.  Note that two of the images have the negatives reversed.


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