Jesse Colin Young - vocals, guitar; Banana (aka Lowell Levinger) - vocals, guitar, banjo, keyboards; Michael Kane - bass; Joe Bauer - drums; Richard "Earthquake" Anderson - harmonica
Following two nights opening for Boz Scaggs at Winterland the previous week, the Youngbloods planned to celebrate Halloween by giving a free Saturday afternoon concert in Lindley Meadow at Golden Gate Park. That is, until inclement weather intervened. As he so often did for community events, Bill Graham came to the rescue on short notice and offered the services of Fillmore West to host the afternoon concert, which went unadvertised, free of charge, and open to all ages. It wasn't a sunny day in the park, but the Youngbloods could conjure up that atmosphere anywhere. Performing a set that includes choice cuts from their 1960s RCA albums, a couple of unrecorded songs, plus a wealth of material from their 1970 Warner Brothers album, Rock Festival, this is exactly what they proceed to do.
The band's distinctive brand of feel-good music was still very much intact in 1970, but they were also splintering. Jesse Colin Young was heading toward the singer-songwriter folk-rock mode that would define his 1970s solo career, and Banana was returning to his earlier roots in traditional banjo music and more esoteric fare. Following the departure of lead guitarist Jerry Corbitt in 1969, the Youngbloods had continued as a trio for a year, but with Jesse Colin Young unsatisfied playing bass and Banana taking over as primary soloist on keyboards and guitar, another member was needed. The solution came in the form of bass player, Michael Kane, Banana's old friend from his pre-Youngbloods Banana & The Bunch days. This not only freed up Young to concentrate on vocals and acoustic guitar on stage, but also helped facilitate new material being added to the live repertoire. While the subsequent Youngbloods albums would not fare well commercially, each contained plenty of great music, much of it performed live here. Their friend Richard "Earthquake" Anderson, who blows a mean harmonica on the blusier numbers, also augments the band.
The set essentially vacillates between Jesse Colin Young led material and Banana led material, all of it quite enjoyable. The Rock Festival album is particularly well represented, with Banana contributing the vibrant "Faster All The Time," his lovely banjo instrumental, "Interlude," and the traditional "Fiddler A Dram," in addition to one of his most beautiful electric piano instrumentals, "On Beautiful Lake Spenard." From the same album, Jesse Colin Young leads things on "It's A Lovely Day," and two gorgeous new songs, his own "Josiane" and a cover of Tim Hardin's "Misty Roses." Young also shines brightly on the classic older Youngbloods tracks, "Sunlight" and Sugar Babe."
Material that would never make a Youngbloods album is also included, in the form of Jesse Colin Young's "Sweet Little Child" and "Come Back Home." They also treat the audience to several previews—songs that would later surface on their last two albums. Banana's sense of humor is readily apparent in his wordplay on "Moonshine Is The Sunshine" and "Hippie From Olema" (Merle Haggard's "Okie From Muskogee" revamped from the hippie perspective). Both songs would turn up on "Good & Dusty" the following year. Jesse Colin Young and Banana also join forces on a cover of Ritchie Valens "Donna," which would surface on their final album, High On A Ridgetop in 1972.
This performance is bookended with two classic Youngbloods songs. "Darkness, Darkness" kicks off the set and they wrap it up with the Dino Valenti penned brotherhood anthem that will forever loom large in their legacy, "Get Together."