“Rockin’ at the Red Dog” Great Documentary

I can’t find the comment on this blog that recommended this film, but whoever you are, I am so grateful. I’ve never seen a film that captured the special  spirit of San Francisco in the mid-60s as well as this one. It’s hard to describe what went on in the Haight-Ashbury district from say, 1963 to 1967 (when the “Summer of Love” proved to be the death knell). It was a joyous, harmonious, sharing, open, friendly, and loving community, and the San Francisco music was unique. It wasn’t London or New York or the Beatles, Stones, or Dylan; it was uniquely San Francisco, and the Red Dog Saloon in Nevada city played a key role in the music and style and spirit of the times.

If you were there, I’d hazard to say you’ll love this movie. They got it right! A bunch of it was filmed in 1991, and all of these people are still together: articulate and insightful. Filmmakers and editors did a fabulous job of piecing together videos, stills and interviews. The  music! The clothing! The hair!

The Charlatans and Big Brother and the Holding Company stand up to the test of time. The latter was one of my favorite bands (before Janice came along). (Deadheads, there is no Grateful Dead music in this film.) There is one beautiful mandala-like sequence of the ’60s posters,  giving you a sense of this powerful new art form. A bunch of wonderful black-and-white stills interspersed with moving footage. The reminiscing comes off well. There was joy then, boy was there, and it’s adequately reflected here.

Plus the DVD is $3.99.


Music du jour: Keep on Smilin’ by the Wet Willie Band/I Don’t Trust You Man by Willie Big Eyes”Smith/Amsterdam Rag by Ben Prestage

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

6 Responses to “Rockin’ at the Red Dog” Great Documentary

  1. I was taking a class at Countryworkshops and saw an original poster for this event on Drew Langsner's dining room wall. He stated to me that he had been there and was a good friend of George Hunter. I was curious so I found a copy at the library and then posted it on your blog about june or july 2010. And yes it is the best I have ever seen too. If you are into the music of san fran also check out the boxed set called Love is the Song we Sing, San Fran Nuggets 65 to 70. You will not be disappointed.


  2. That was my comment Lloyd, I'm so glad you enjoyed this film as much as I did. It was a revelation to me, since I moved to SF in 1987 I had always been interested in the history of the early 60's music scene there. And I often visited Virgina City with friends from Lake Tahoe, I loved the town and taverns and the mining history, but had no idea of the history of the Red Dog and the connection to the family dog, Owsley etc. It seems like everything originated there, the poster art, the light shows and of course the music. BTW if you have Netflix streaming service you can view the film there or order the DVD. After I saw this film last summer I drove down to the Red Dog to see Rosie Flores (the Rockabilly Filly) perform, it was a great show for $15 and even got to bring my dogs in, hang out and chat with Rosie a little afterwards. So it's never too late to rock at the Red Dog.

    I always loved Big Brother too, I saw them in Diamond Head crater at a festival in 1969, it was the first rock concert I ever attended, I was 14 at the time and life was never the same afterwards!

    I am glad I could return the favor to you. You see, I found your blog from the SF Gate (my former employer) article about your skateboarding. I immediately went out and purchased a long board and now I run my dogs a few miles with it almost every day. I put a harness on the 100lb young one and slalom along behind him at high speed, he loves it and so do I. Since skating improved my attitude and well being so much I also got back into windsurfing and am now taking kiteboarding lessons in the Sacramento Delta every weekend. At age 57 I thought I was getting too old for such things, but you showed me differently and now I am back on track doing the things I love and focusing on ever greater personal freedom. With plenty of Advil. Many, many thanks. I look forward to poaching more of your lifestyle choices!

    Dave Hoagland
    Shasta County

  3. Oooh…I love Quicksilver Messenger Service! Damn, just when I was feeling old at 46 and retiring from a 20-year Ultimate frisbee career, I see guys like Lloyd and Dave Hoagland (post above) and look forward to the second half of life and learning new sports! This blog rocks my world … can't wait for the Tiny Homes Book. Hurry up and wait!

    Del Mar, CA

  4. Stephanie, I recently bought a copy of QMS's Happy Trails album since I hadn't heard them for years. I always dug their manner of dress and accoutrements on that album liner. When I saw 'Rockin at the Red Dog' it immediately became clear to me where that concept originated from. And sure enough the cover art was designed by George Hunter who is a key figure in the Red Dog story.

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