Yellow Springs / Berkeley, CA, 1965 - 1970
Mad River rode the front wave of the Summer of Love. moving to Berkeley, CA in the spring of 1967. After the move they released two LPs on Capitol records, and a 3 song 7" on the Wee label, a Berkeley label that issued limited editionrock and soul 45s.
Before they were Californians, they were Ohioans, based out of Antioch College in Yellow Springs, east of Dayton. Antioch attracted a number of non-local students for their unique college programs, and during 1965, three students formed a jug/acoustic band. The original group included Lawrence Hammond (vocals, guitar) Dave Robinson (lead guitar) and Tom Manning (bass). Like a lot of these college acoustic bands, they watched their peers go nuts for Dylan, the Byrds, the Beatles, and figured they needed to get with the scene so they added Greg Dewey on drums and became a rock and roll band. Sources said they used the standard "Gloria" to get Greg on board.
The band was named the Mad River Blues Band (for the nearby Mad River) and in order to fill out the sound Greg Druian joined on rhythm guitar. This version of the band played campus parties and maybe a local teen dance or two.
When the 1965-6 school year ended, the band - except for Manning - moved to Washington, DC for the summer where they everntually got a gig playing a club called the Blue Sparrow (Hammond played bass). When school resumed, they returned to Yellow Springs. Greg Druian left and Tom Manning returned. The band returned to a five piece with Rick Bockner joining on rhythm guitar.
Finally, the band seemed like they had all the pieces and soon realized they would be much better off moving to the source of their folk/psych/goodtimey influences - the San Francisco area. Before they left they recorded "at a studio in Dayton"...from the sound, we would guess it was Commercial Recording. Four songs from this session, in multigeneration tape sound, were released a few years ago. The songs included the first recording of "Windchimes" a mostly instrumental raga-ish number that became a band staple, the goodtimey "Jerry's Song", and "Timothy" the most standard sounding psych-rock song of the bunch.
When the band got to
Berkeley, they soon dropped the "Blues Band" tag and played all over
the area for nearly three years. the story of the band during this time
is told in details elsewhere. From what we have seen, none of the band
kept any ties with Ohio.