Alice Stuart - vocals, guitar; Bob Jones - drums, vocals; Karl Sevareid - bass, vocals
This show, dug out of the archives of the late Bill Graham, features one of the few professional live recordings made of the popular Bay Area blues-rock trio, Alice Stuart & Snake. The trio, which was an electric vehicle for singer/guitarist Alice Stuart, was formed after Stuart felt she had taken her career as far as she could as a solo acoustic blues artist.
Taking advantage of the path cut by another Bay Area artist, the late Janis Joplin, Stuart was determined to establish herself as more than just another attractive female singer. In the end, worldwide fame would elude her, but Stuart did establish a career as a gifted blues guitarist and singer, and she continues to perform on the blues club circuit today. Alice Stuart contributed a great deal to establishing a path that future female blues singers would walk down. One listen to this show and it is pretty clear where Bonnie Raitt got her early career influences.
She had been making music professionally since the early-1960s, and had fronted Snake since 1969, when this recording was made. In addition to the blues, Stuart spent equal time developing her career by playing both folk and rock. She is prolific in all these musical genres, as can be heard with the variety of material performed at this show.
Stuart began as a folk singer, working her way up to the 1964 Newport Folk Festival, where she performed and worked with the likes of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee. When Dylan plugged in, in 1965, so did Stuart, joining a very early version of Frank Zappa & the Mothers Of Invention.
As the Summer of Love hit the Bay Area, Stuart decided to move in a blues direction, and by 1969 she formed Snake with drummer Bob Jones (formerly of the '60s pop band, We Five) and bassist Karl Sevareid, who would later join Robert Cray's band. She was a regular at Winterland, the Fillmore West, and other Bay Area venues, and signed with Fantasy Records.
Opening with the upbeat, "I'd Do It For You," she next delivers her own version of the classic, "Statesboro Blues." Quite different from the arrangement made popular by the Allman Brothers or Hot Tuna, it has a lighter feel, but still sends the same soulful message. They do a cover of Jimmy Cliff's "The Harder They Come," and include a number of songs sung by Snake's drummer, Bob Jones, including the love ballad, "I Want You." Stuart closes with a raucous version of "Drop Down Daddy."
Soon after this show was recorded at the Winterland Ballroom in February 1974, Stuart parted ways with Snake, and continued on as a solo artist. She still records and tours mostly on the west coast, recording for the Oregon-based label, Burnside.
Alice Stuart is still playing regularly in the Pacific Northwest. Visit Alice Stuart's website for gigs and more information.