The Nevada City Armory For Sale

The National Guard Armory in Nevada City went up for sale last week. The old tin shed has gone through many changes over the years, having housed the Imaginarium and NCTV, and now the state has declared it as surplus property. They plan to sell it for whatever the current market will bear.

The Armory holds a lot of memories for me. Back in 1970, I aspired to be a concert promoter, mainly because no one else was doing it. During my high school years, there was a fellow (whose name has unfortunately been deleted from my organic data banks) who filled that role. He brought many of the up and coming NorCal bands to the Nevada City Elks Hall, then located above what is now Friar Tuck’s. There was Group “B”, whose bass player, Dickie Peterson, went on to found the heavy metal band Blue Cheer. Then there was the New Breed, who later became Redwing without bassist Tim Schmitt, who joined the band Poco and later The Eagles. There were many other bands who never amounted to much, but we were hungry for anything new during the explosive musical years of the mid-sixties.

The promoter used to let me in free for distributing posters for his dances. He finally quit the music biz after a few years of great shows, and so I decided to pick up the slack myself. This was during the period when many of my friends were starting their own bands, but there were few venues available. Sometimes there were dances at the Seaman’s Lodge in Pioneer Park, but Seaman’s was too small for the kind of psychedelic spectacles we wanted to see.

At first, I rented the Armory directly from the National Guard, but after the guard left, the building was left under the jurisdiction of Nevada City. I rented the building from City Manager Beryl Robinson for $100, and was required to hire an off-duty police officer for $25. I didn’t mind, because the building was big enough to hold two to three hundred bodies and we could accommodate more than one act.

There were some great Northern California bands performing during that period. Trakstod was a heavy metal band originally from Redding, but they had taken up residence in the larger Sacramento market. Sundance was what we called a “horn band” because of their sax section. They were from Chico. Another band was called Brotherhood Rush, featuring a midget keyboard player named Bruce Lee. They were all popular draws in NC, and all of them eventually moved here for a short time.

Trakstod’s wild and crazy singer/guitarist Jimmy Berick eventually recorded an album with Masters Of The Airwaves, and Sundance made one album. Neither band was very successful and both have faded into obscure rock history.

But during that short period of 1970-71, we had some good times and great shows. I partnered with an anti-drug organization called Mother for several shows, titled “Mother’s First Ball”, “Mother’s Second Affair”, and “Mother Goes Into Labor (Day)”.

Eventually, the friends I started bands with years earlier formed new groups like Absalom and Carrie Nation. Their first shows were at the Armory, and later I would travel to Georgia with the Nation on a four year rock’n’roll odyssey.

I gave up promoting shows by 1972. The stress of worrying whether I would make enough money to cover expenses was too much for me, since I didn’t have many resources (or even a job) by that time. Most of the music had moved into the bar scene by then anyway. (I did return to concert promoting briefly in 1980. One show at the Nevada Theatre with Charlie Williams’ band, Mistress, and Thomas Jefferson Kaye.)

I’ll always remember those shows. I doubt that anyone will ever put up a plaque to commemorate those historic dance/concerts, but those of us who were there will never forget.

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10 Responses to The Nevada City Armory For Sale

  1. rl crabb says:

    Here’s Group “B”‘s first single. The first song is actually the “b” side. “Stop Calling Me” was a minor hit in Northern California…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1j3Xy6rFSQ

  2. rl crabb says:

    And Sundance’s signature song, “Chico Women”….
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n94cPld_8OM

  3. San French says:

    Now you’ve gone and done it Crabbman! These memories/recollections are pure bliss for me; for it was with Trakstod that I first came to Nevada City.
    I was managing an old 4-plex flat on 21st & P in mind-town Sac when Bob and his wife Ella along w/ Berick, Charlie Lyons(drums) ,Lee Nelson(bass), Max Landerman and a guy named Steve rolled up out front one day..fresh from Redding.. and rented the two upstairs flats. We became fast friends and I jammed with Bob C a lot in those days. He eventually asked me to join the band…I think I played about 6 gigs with them (two were in Bend, OR) and we all realized that keys just didn’t fit that sound they had going. But I learned a lot, had a beautiful time (my first ever band!) and we remained fast friends from then on.
    They had a gig at the Armory w/ (I think Absalom?). That’s when I met Charlie and I spent that night with him and Sue (and baby Stacy) at their house on Grove St. in NC.
    Shortly there after Charlie moved out and he and I got a house on Spring St. Then on to High St. and I think you know the rest.
    Brigg’s Pond happened somewhere in there as well.
    OK…I’ll stop now. But thanks for the chronicle of times past. You really do have it all(or most of it) in your head old boy…and it’s always good to hear it again.

    I too am sorry to hear of Doc’s passing. He had so much heart & soul in him. We kinda clashed in Georgia at one time, but nothing that lingered…it was just the times and being in a ‘foreign land’ I think. RIP to a true troubadour.

    • San French says:

      PS~ Wasn’t Don Duncan the “rent-a-cop” at some of the Armory gigs? I know he came to High St. a bunch on noise complaints and ‘other’ sundry things. I think he was a bass player in a band after his retirement from the NC force as Chief. Those were the days….

  4. Chris Peterson says:

    Bob,

    Do you still have a copy of the picture of the Carrie Nation band and friends outside the Brewery with Duncan in uniform and Miles doing a BA? Don’t think I’ve seen that photo but once, and it was a long, long time ago.

  5. Troy Woodman Wenze says:

    Hi Bob,
    Thanks for the article …nice one. Sorry to hear of Doc’s passing. One of my fondest memories is him and his visits to Paul and I in NC and being so dang sweet to Sarah….He just adored her. I have a few photos of the good ol’ days and good memories of you and all the gang…What a break as a teeny popper to get to know all of and the High Street Boys and just hang out. You did and still are very quick, smart and pretty dang funny. At least I always thought so. Thanks again….Troy P.S I would be glad to send you any photos I have if you want copies.

  6. Yo Bob…remember well the gigs at the Armory…some with Art Momy and the locals.
    The early 70’s was a cool time in GV..Nevada City…your poster art work was great, brings back a lot of memories…most likely you don’t remember me…but you were respected in our cool world as a promoter and weird musician type..LOL…Did you hang with
    John Griffin, Mic James in those days…or Jerry landers…somehow I am putting you guys together…all the best..William (BillyB) Stark…

  7. Troy Woodman Wenze says:

    Just found this….wow a walk down memory lane…those were some good times. Remember the Thanksgiving Dinner we all had at High Street. I cooked for 2 days and we threw a sheet on the floor and sat on the floor legs crossed and broke bread together. San did one of his tornado clean the house runs. Lol. Such good memories. Thanks Crabbman for the memories….xo TroyEllen

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