Charlie Williams - lead vocals, rhythm guitar; Doc Halstead - lead vocals, percussion; Marty Bone - lead guitar; Hugh Pitts - lead guitar; Billy Smart - bass; Kenny Ladenburger - drums
Virtually nothing is known about this band other than the fact that they were together for five years or so, and originally came to San Francisco (Grass Valley, CA to be exact), by way of Atlanta, Georgia. Musically, they were entrenched somewhere in rock 'n' roll's no man's land, between the flower power improv-psychedelia of bands like Quicksilver and Big Brother and the Holding Company, and the guitar-driven combustion of Southern Rock bands such as the Allman Brothers, the Outlaws, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. On some tracks, they sound a lot like the '72-73 era Doobie Brothers.
This set was the opening act slot on a three-band bill at Bill Graham's Winterland Ballroom, on a night when Kingfish (with Bob Weir) were in the middle and the Elvin Bishop Band headlined. It was Carrie Nation's first time at Winterland, and was such a big event that many of its fans drove or flew in from Georgia to be at the show.
Opening with a rocker named "Everyday," the band played an eight-song set that included songs such as "Stealin' Man," "Joy, Joy, Joy," and the very similar, "Natural Joy." The closer "Birthplace of Our Nation," which actually has some dual-guitar licks, is a highlight.
In the end, Carrie Nation (not to be confused with the fictional all-girl rock band that appeared in Russ Meyer's Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls film or the late-'90s Athens-based punk band, both of which used the same name) sure play with enthusiasm. On the group's sole ballad, "She Comes Home," they offer up a take on the country-rock formula made famous by the Marshall Tucker Band. The final track, which seems to be called "Can You Feel It?" is a nearly 14-minute boogie jam that has some tasty bits, but for the most part is musically self-indulgent.
The fact that this particular band called Carrie Nation never landed a national label deal and was rarely heard from again is sad, because they sound so damn excited to finally be playing on a big stage in a legendary venue. Granted, there are no killer originals, but they play very well together.
At the end, one of the band members takes the mic and says, "We came 3,000 miles just on the chance that you might like us... and we appreciate the reception you have given us." If only superstars could be that humble sometimes.