Sal Valentino - vocals, guitar; Lynne Hughes - vocals; Annie Sampson - vocals; Lydia Phillips Moreno - vocals; Deirdre LaPorte - vocals; Tim Barnes - guitar; Luther Bildt - guitar; John Blakeley - bass; Pete Sears - keyboards; Mike Mau - drums
Stoneground kicked off the Fillmore West's closing week festivities on a bill featuring longtime locals the Flamin' Groovies and two other hometown favorites: Cold Blood and Boz Scaggs.
Constant personnel changes and the cumbersome challenges created by traveling with too many musicians and singers ultimately doomed the group, but Stoneground featured a lot of accomplished talent for a single band. Anyone who caught them live during the 1970 or '71 can attest to the powerful blend of bluesy rock 'n' roll they were able to create. The band became a popular opening act; however, due to the presence of too many talented lead singers, Stoneground failed to develop a distinctive sound or catch on in any major way.
For this show, the band was fronted by ex-Beau Brummel singer Sal Valentino. Lynn Hughes is also on board. Having previously recorded with the seminal San Francisco psychedelic bands The Charlatans and Tongue and Groove, Hughes - also a former Lickette during an early incarnation of Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks - brought a variety of experience to the band. Annie Sampson, a gifted soulful gospel singer, also added flavor. Overall, the group's music displays a wide range of contemporary 1960s influences, as evinced particularly in their choice of cover material.
They kick the night off with a nod to the mid 1960's era, when the San Francisco music scene was just getting underway, with a double dose of vintage 1965 Dylan. Other interesting highlights include a revised version of "Me and The Devil," a song Hughes had first recorded with The Charlatans. Additionally, a great electrified version of "Richland Woman," a song brought to their attention through Maria Muldaur's early recordings with Jim Kweskin's Jug Band, is performed. Johnny Cash also gets the double nod with "Get Rhythm" and the encore, "Big River."
Several strong originals are also well received. Most familiar is "Passion Flower," a song included on the Last Days of the Fillmore album release. The show stopper, though, is the set closer, "Total Destruction To Your Mind" - a song that, while failing to deliver on it's title, perhaps, is nonetheless a wild ride that leaves the Fillmore audience wanting more. This is a rousing set that proves Stoneground, despite an lack of recognition, had serious skill, and even more potential.