The Trick Is To Keep Going

Cream at the Psychedelic Supermarket, 1967 & more

by on Sep.29, 2010, under Music


Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton live at the Psychedelic Supermarket in Kenmore Square, Boston, September, 1967.

Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton live at the Psychedelic Supermarket in Kenmore Square, Boston, September, 1967.

About six months after writing a series of pieces in 2009 on Cream concerts I’ve been to, I was contacted by Ken Melville. Ken was in the band Catharsis in Boston in September, 1967 and opened for Cream for their one-week run of concerts at the Psychedelic Supermarket in Kenmore Square, just a stone’s throw from Fenway Park.

I went to see Cream on a Sunday, the first night of the engagement, which was supposed to last two weeks but only survived the one. A detailed description of the concert, a particularly memorable one, is available here.

I do recall an opening act, but don’t remember much about the band. To my amazement, Ken sent me some photos from that week after leaving a comment on one of the posts. Taken by his girlfriend with a Kodak instamatic, as I recall, the photos above and on the following page show the band on stage and in the dressing room with Ken and some of his friends.

It’s all quite remarkable really that more than 40 years later, we’re viewing photos from that week.

Also on the page, you will see two shots from their June, 1968 date at the original Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford, Conn. A piece on the two shows at Oakdale and the last concert I saw of Cream during this stretch in the fall of 1968 at the New Haven Arena during the Farewell Tour is available here.

It took a jury of people to identify the Oakdale shots, which I’ve come across through an astute friend on the Internet. A fellow who worked at Oakdale and another similar summer tent theater in Rhode Island identified it by the lighting grid you see above Clapton’s head. Also the shot with Jack Bruce sitting on the edge of the orchestra pit includes Rich Bednarczyk in the foreground of the pit, surfer blond hair, who played keyboards for my band Pulse.

There is also a piece on this site describing the April, 1968 concert at Woolsey Hall at Yale in New Haven here.

If you’re an avid Cream fan, it’s likely you’ve already come across these. The only place I’ve seen them is in a few of Ken’s posts to a music forum. The subject, of all things, started out as a discussion of whether Clapton used a Gibson ES-335 on the classic cut Crossroads from Wheels Of Fire. I don’t think that was ever resolved but some of the discussion is interesting and, of course, Ken’s photos are the highlight.

All quite heady. Click on continue reading for the other shots.

Jack Bruce playing one of his harp features, Rollin' And Tumblin' from the first Cream album, Fresh Cream. Clapton is still on stage, which indicates it's the Muddy Waters' tune.

Jack Bruce playing one of his harp features, Rollin’ And Tumblin’ from the first Cream album, Fresh Cream. Clapton is still on stage, which indicates it’s the Muddy Waters tune.

Cream Strip 2 Psychedelic Supermarket Small

Eric Clapton with Ken Melville, right, and Dick Waterman backstage at the Psychedelic Supermarket, September, 1967.

Eric Clapton with Ken Melville, right, and Dick Waterman backstage at the Psychedelic Supermarket, September, 1967.

Jack Bruce with Friends backstage.

Jack Bruce with Friends backstage.

Eric Clapton and Cream at the Oakdale Theatre, second show, June, 1968.

Eric Clapton and Cream at the Oakdale Theatre, second show, June, 1968.

Jack Bruce takes a break, sitting on the edge of the Orchestra Pit at the Oakdale Theatre, June, 1968. That would being during Baker's solo Toad as Clapton did not play Steppin' Out at these shows.

Jack Bruce takes a break, sitting on the edge of the Orchestra Pit at the Oakdale Theatre, June, 1968. That would be during Baker’s solo Toad as Clapton did not play Steppin’ Out at these shows.

 

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23 Comments for this entry

  • btchakir

    I saw Cream’s final tour in Chicago at the Kinetic Playground. Amazing! Ginger Baker’s 15 minute drum solo will stay in my mid forever.

  • Paul Rosano

    Hey btchakir,

    Thanks for the memories. Chicago, that must have been a great gig to see. Baker’s drum solo was always something special. Unfortunately, it spawned a lot of drummers trying to match it in the following years with few in the same ballpark.

    When I saw Cream in their second reunion concert at Madison Square Garden just a few years ago, I was surprised to see that Baker’s solo was perhaps the biggest highlight. I wasn’t expecting that. It was quite different than his previous solos I’ve seen and heard and showed he is still a master, despite some health issues.

    He also looked really well, perhaps better than he did in the late ’60s. Unfortunately, the concert as a whole was lacking a little, only in that it didn’t match the Royal Albert Hall week of concerts when the three of them seemed to be having a really great time together.

    Paul

  • James Velvet

    I also saw the second Cream reunion show at MSG and I agree that Baker’s solo was the highlight of the concert. I was amused and delighted to hear that this seventy-year old (?) drummer had added a lot more cymbal work and subtracted some tom-tom work from his style. Easier on the old joints? I also noticed that when he stood up from the kit for the curtain call he got up in a stiff, herky-jerky way, one limb at a time, just like a lot of us old geezers.

  • Paul Rosano

    I also have a lasting image of him walking off the stage last, after Bruce and Clapton had exited, very slowly, almost hobbling with one pants leg rolled up, waving as he ambled out. Quite remarkable. At the time, I believe he was about 66 because his 70th was in ’09.

  • James Velvet

    Were you at the infamous Doors concert at The New Haven Arena – the Morrison bust? I’ve been contacted by a producer at CPTV who is doing a piece on ’60’s R&R in New Haven and she very much wants to interview someone who was there.
    You can contact her, Jennifer Boyd @ 860-275-7273, or get back to me if you’d like.
    Thanks,
    James

  • Mark Soderlind

    Hi. Does anyone have any video footage of Clapton playing the firebird during this 68 tour? is the audio in the farewell concert a Firebird or 335. The audio and video don’t line up. Thanks. Mark

  • MarkJ

    Here’s what still amazes me: there are plenty of garage bands today that have far better (and way more) gear, not to mention bigger entourages, than Cream did at their height in ’67-68.

    I’ll bet Clapton, Bruce, and Baker still shake their heads when thinking of the old days and ask themselves, “How the f*** did we do it?”

  • Paul Rosano

    Hey Mark,

    No doubt. Their equipment was just about state-of-the-art for the time but quite below today’s standard’s. Their amps certainly filled the space of the Supermarket and most concert halls but the P.A. systems were the big shortcoming, not to mention any type of monitoring system. Yeah, how did they do it and sound as good as they did? They dealt with what they had and made due to good effect.

    pjr

  • Bill

    Cream’s amplification clearly filled the Supermarket. I couldn’t hear the day after the show! Well worth it!

  • Martin Jernigan

    Many, many thanks for taking the effort to document your early concert experiences. Mine of the same period changed me forever.

  • sam ruell

    The bands of that era played in very bad acoustic settings. I saw Big brother in a Hockey Rink in Braintree mass in late 1968. a week later the DOORS played Back Bay theatre, which was small, maybe 2000? Correct me if I am wrong but we wanted to get a copy of Sgt Pepper by the Beatles as soon as it was available in Boston. Only ‘Jack’s Drum Shop’ on Boylston st had it in June 1967. We had to wait outside most of the night so we could get a copy, before I drove to Expo ’67. It wasn’t like today where you could go into any store. There could be a 6 month lag on a popular son played on the west coast till it appeared on the east coast. FM rock stations did not exist or were in their infancy.

  • spoonful

    I was at the Friday show – i was only five years old – we sat in the front row cuz my dad and Uncle Frank (Connelly) were the promotors. My mom put cotton in my ears, but I took it out soon as the band came on – I saw a lot of shows – this was one of my all time favorites. I couldn’t believe they did my favorite song – spoonful. Fuckin A – nice photos – they totally bring it back for me. Thanks

  • Paul Rosano

    Thanks for sharing that. It is also one of my favorite concerts. To be so close, the immediacy, to hear them play in an improvisational way that was unheard of in rock at the time, barring Butterfield’s sorties with extended solos such as East-West, was highly influential for me. I’ll never forget it.

    Paul

  • rob mullen

    It kills me to admit this given your search for the Oakdale / Cream photos, mine have been lost in time.
    I can tell you that I had one great photo of Ginger behind his kit, a Sixpack of beer next to his floor tomtom.
    As to the show, the James Cotton Blues Band opened with him running down the aisle and performing a somersault to the stage.
    Tickets sold…maybe 150 / 200 people there.
    And yes both Eric and Jack found an empty seat and sat in the audience during Traintime.

    I was also in the field at RFK for Taste, D,B & Friends, Blind Faith – A tale for another day.

    rob

  • Paul Rosano

    Hi Rob,

    I’m guessing you were at the afternoon show, which I saw part of, since the evening show for which I had seats was quite full.

    Too bad about your photos. There are a couple from that show on this page (which you probably noticed), one that has Jack Bruce sitting to the side of the stage at the orchestra pit with a few of my friends and a band member from Pulse during Ginger’s solo in Toad.

  • rob

    Paul,
    thx for your reply, love your blog.
    Iirc Clapton played a Gibson Firebird – I have a b/w photo of that.
    You mentioned Pulse, a couple things –
    I saw them at Oakdale, they opened for the Who…?, and did a great cover of “A Day In The Life”.

    I mentioned in one of your blog posts that I roadied for another local band at the time – Zyme / Jennifers Friends, and that they opened for Neil Young and Crazy Horse at the Stone Balloon – quite an experience for a young kid to sip Jack Danials with the band after the show. Neil, being Neil, took off right after the set while the guys hung back.

    Also have memories of Doc / Trod as JF were recording their first single for Buddah Records there.

    More later – rob

  • Paul Rosano

    Indeed Rob, he did play a Firebird. Gave the band quite a different sound compared with the SG.

    I remember Jennifer’s Friends and of course The Stone Balloon. What a great club. Saw Taj Mahal (with Jesse Ed Davis), early Jethro Tull, John Hammond and some others there. New York in New Haven!

    I was in Pulse. We never actually played at Oakdale, despite having a rather good connection, but we were supposed to open for Traffic in September ’68, a gig that was canceled when Traffic lost Dave Mason yet again and stopped playing for a while.

    I did play there with the Bram Rigg Set (four members of Pulse), opened for the Dave Clark 5. What a gig, amazing. Nice guys.

    Paul

  • rob

    Paul –
    The good connection being Beau, yeah even back then I knew who he was.
    I am now perplexed as to what band that I saw as the local opening band.
    We are both aware of the other most popular, best bands in CT. at the time – Wildweeds, NAIF, The Shags Chosen Few…
    Sadly it was none of those so attributing that great performance of “A Day In The Life” on the Oakdale Stage will be a mystery for me.

    rob
    ps – Cherie’s Shack, I was a Madison kid 😉

  • Paul Rosano

    Taking a guess but it might have been one of Bill Durso’s groups, U.S. 69 or Mustard Family. They opened there at least once.

  • Ed Bednarczyk

    Hey Paul,

    I am thrilled to have stumbled upon your blog. I’m Rich Bednarczyk’s youngest brother, Ed.

    Thanks for all of the info that you’ve posted on Bramm Rigg Set and Pulse — two of the best bands ever! Some very cool memories have been reignited. I remember you and all of the guys in the band coming over to our house before gigs. I also remember how you mounted Rich’s B-3 onto a plywood base so you could slide it into the van. Hearing you guys at the Cheri Shack when I was a kid locked in a great memory in my life!

    It would be great to talk with you. I live in Seattle. My email address is ed@voicestation.tv. I am wanting to know where I can get my hands on an original album. You guys played some incredible music and were all so talented! I’m going to share your blog with a lot of family members and friends. I’m very proud of my brother and his accomplishments! Hope to talk soon!

    Ed

  • Paul Rosano

    Hi Ed,
    So good to hear from you. Thanks for stopping by. I remember those days well. It was so much fun playing with friends and making music in two bands of which I’m very proud.

    I also remember going over to your house and meeting your family. I recall coming out to a summer club in Eastern Connecticut that your father ran and staying with you guys for a couple of days.

    And I remember hauling that B3 up quite a few flights of stairs for some gigs. Yes, the Cheri Shack was the best.

    I’ll be in touch.
    Paul

  • Owen Rowley

    I was at this show too. I was stationed at Westover AFB at the time and had come home for the weekend (I’m from North Quincy). IIRC the ticket price was $3.50 I wound up seeing LOTS of Shows at the Supermarket – mostly Mothers, Fugs, Country Joe etc. standard backup band was Seigal Schwall. One show I went to had a surprise guest appearance of Spirit for their first East Coast Appearance.

  • Paul Rosano

    Thanks for writing Owen. Wonder if we were there the same night. I went on the first night, a Sunday. Also saw some other artists: Butterfield Blues Band, right after Elvis Bishop took over sole position of lead guitar with Bloomfield gone; and The Electric Flag with Mike Bloomfield, a band that was much better live than on record.

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