Leepa-Rattner Museum to present “Comin’ Back to Me: The Music and Spirit of ’69”
TARPON SPRINGS — This summer, a new exhibition will pay tribute to the art and life of Jefferson Airplane founder Marty Balin.
“Comin’ Back to Me: The Music and Spirit of ’69” will open Sunday, June 23, at Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, 600 E. Klosterman Road, Tarpon Springs. The exhibition will continue through Sunday, Sept. 22. For details, call 727-712-5762 or visit www.leeparattner.org.
Kicking off the show, the museum will host a gallery talk Sunday, June 23, 3 p.m. The talk will feature Susan Joy Balin, wife of the late Marty Balin; and his daughter Jennifer Edwards. They will share memories and insights about Balin’s life as an artist. The talk is included with museum admission.
“Comin’ Back to Me: The Music and Spirit of ’69” focuses on the art and life of the musician. Balin is best known as the founder and one of the lead singers of Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Balin started out his career in the music industry recording with Challenge Records in the early 1960s. After releasing the singles “Nobody but You” and “I Specialize in Love,” he formed a folk music quartet known as The Town Criers.
In San Francisco in 1965, Balin — working out of a former pizza parlor he converted into a music club — set about recruiting musicians for a new project. Paul Kantner was first to join the lineup. Balin next tapped female vocalist Signe Toly Anderson. Remaining spots in the original lineup included blues guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, drummer Jerry Peloquin and acoustic bassist Bob Harvey. Jefferson Airplane made its first public appearance at Balin’s club The Matrix in August 1965.
By October 1966, the band’s personnel had already been modified. The most notable change came when Grace Slick took over for Anderson. Despite the departures and new additions to the lineup, by 1969, Jefferson Airplane defined the San Francisco Sound. It was the first band from the area to achieve international commercial success. Read More
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The five-piece band got things building with an intro jam that allowed Kaukonen to warm up his bright guitar tone before they jumped into a happy “Here Comes Sunshine”, led on vocals by Dark Star Orchestra keyboardist Rob Barraco. Phil Lesh then took over lead vocals on the Dead traditional staple “Cold Rain and Snow”. Kaukonen’s controlled, clean Hot Tuna style turned into some real Jefferson Airplane-esque shredding as he and Barraco soloed together to hit one of the best jams of the set.
Next, former Bruce Hornsby and the Range drummer and longtime “Friend” of Phil Lesh, John Molo, shined on a bouncy “Loose Lucy” before they slowed things back down on a “Bird Song” with Phil’s talented son Grahame Lesh showing off his slide guitar chops.
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While the physical street corner has remained a go-to attraction for tourists more than half a century after its brief period of true cultural prominence, the new designation aims to preserve one of the neighborhoods main landmarks: the Doolan-Larson building, former home to Mnasidika, the area’s first hippie clothing boutique. Run by Peggy Caserta, a close friend and eventual lover of Janis Joplin, Mnasidika was an important site in the neighborhood during its peak. Caserta is credited with starting the trend of bell bottom jeans at Mnasidika, eventually approaching Levi’s about producing them on a more widespread scale. The store was also the site of a notable Grateful Dead photo shoot, and is said to be where Jimi Hendrix picked up his first pair of bell bottoms.
From Woodstock anthem to West Coast workingmen’s club
He wrote one of the most recognised anthems of the Woodstock era for Jefferson Airplane and has played guitar alongside some of the big names of the 1960s — and for the past month former rocker Darby Slick has been visiting friends and family in far-off Reefton.
In the heady and psychedelic days of 1960s America, Slick won fame with his band The Great Society and wrote the song Somebody to Love, sung famously by his ex-sister-in-law Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane. It was one of the biggest songs of Woodstock in 1969.