Below is a list of what you will see & hear when you visit the 2022 Summer exhibit at the Kelley House Museum in Mendocino.
Also: CatMotherScrapbook.com is now live. Check it out.
A Brief History of Cat Mother by Ellen Callas
Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys was a band born in late 1967 in New York’s Greenwich Village, the brainchild of collaborators Roy Michaels and Bob Smith. Combining amplified violin, mandolin, banjo and a basic rock quartet, with complex melodies and intelligent lyrics, Cat Mother was an instant NYC success.The band’s socio/political views often found them organizing for activist causes. In New York City, they held benefits for the War Resistor’s League, WBAI, and a variety of other community groups. While living upstate in the summer of 1968 they held a bi-weekly “Woodstock Festival of Sound and Light” that became the inspiration for the famous 1969 festival. After their Top-Ten hit “Good Old Rock and Roll,” a stint as the “Electric Circus” house band and extensive national touring with Jimi Hendrix (who produced the first of their four albums), Cat Mother migrated west to California. In late 1969 Cat Mother with families in tow landed quite accidentally in Mendocino. On December 31, that laid back community danced wildly into 1970 to the electric sounds of its newest residents.For the next decade, keyboardist Smith, bassist Michaels, drummer Michael Equine, new percussionist Steve Davidson and a variety of guitarists would be the musical epicenter of the Mendocino Coast community. They held regular dances, outdoor “boogies,” voter registration drives and countless benefits. Continuing touring and recording, Cat Mother eventually morphed in the Gonzo Bandits, and then Horse Badorties and Smith. For many Mendonesians, they remain the soundtrack of our memories. [Ellen Callas was married to Roy Michaels and is the mother of Shawnis (b. 1968). Alice Smith was married to Bob Smith and is the mother of Jennifer (b. 1968) and Noah (b. 1972).]
Center Table– The big table includes artwork by Chuck Hathaway and Mervyn Gilbert as well as artifacts from the Cat Mother scrapbook. Starting at the north end of the table, moving clockwise, are these significant items.- Poster for Cat Mother (3rd album) from the UK when they were on United Artists (UA). It is an oversized
beautifully designed poster with a cat looming over the top towards Cat Mother at the bottom, 1972. [Courtesy of Dick Barham]
– Cat Mother promo poster for the first album, 1969.- Poster for the Woodstock Sound Festival featuring Cat Mother on August 16/17, 1968.- Picture of Cat Mother and family on Greenwood Ridge, 1971. [Photo credit: Michael Equine?]- Various John Chamberlin posters for Cat Mother and Mendocino bands. [Courtesy of Steve Davidson] – Assorted newspaper clippings and vintage advertisements.
Grey Duo-fold Panel– A Brief History of Cat Mother by Ellen Callas from Mendocino in the Seventies.– Facts and trivia about Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys.
East Wall– Cat Mother poster blank by John Chamberlin, 1972. [Courtesy of Mark Hughes]- Photographs of: Cat Mother, various boogies and Charlie Prichard in triplicate from Mendocino in the
Seventies by Nicholas Wilson.
– Stereo record player for playing Cat Mother or Mendocino Coast music albums found in the box on the
floor, left of the case. If you have difficulty working the system, please ask a docent for help.
– Copy of Albion Doo-Wah album, courtesy of KOZT-FM, Fort Bragg, CA.
– The first Cat Mother 45, “Good Old Rock ‘N Roll” b/w “Bad News” with jukebox title card from 1969.– Two unused tickets to July 20, 1968 Sound Festival at Pan Copeland’s farm + Pan Copeland’s business card.- Alternate ‘Commerce Battery Truck’ photograph, 1971, taken by UA photographer (their UK record label at
the time). Nicholas Wilson took his iconic photo of the band as the other guy was setting up his shot.
– The Street Giveth, The Street Taketh Away on cassette, 1969.- Article from Record World magazine in 1969 describing Cat Mother’s new release on the Polydor label. – Artwork by John Chamberlin for Polydor Records, 1972. [Courtesy of Frannie Leopold]- Inside photo spread for Albion Doo-Wah taken in East Caspar by Ric Lane at his then residence.- Advertisement for Albion Doo-Wah in Rolling Stone magazine #64, August 06, 1970. Artwork by John
Chamberlin, photograph by Ric Lane.
Lower shelf– Various Cat Mother 45s and singles from France, Germany, Argentina, England. Mendocino Records 45 by
Philo Hayward. The flip side is Warm Like a Fire, written by Lenny Laks.
– Sheet music for the French recording of “C’est La Vie Lily” by Joe Dassin in 1970. The song was a
reworked version of “Marie” from The Street Giveth, The Street Taketh Away and ultimately inspired many versions in Europe. Note the songwriting credit as: Robert Smith and Charlie Chin, French adaptation by Pierre Delanoe. The original credit was: Chin-Smith-Packer.
– Italian 45 of Joe Dassin’s version of “C’est La Vie Lily” sung in Italian using the original backing track. – UK 45 of “Letter to the President”/”Three and Me” on United Artists (UA), 1972.- 7” Reel-to-Reel Tape of The Street Giveth, The Street Taketh Away on US Polydor, 1969.
Table to right of case
– There are a couple of Rolling Stone magazines from the era with articles on the Mendocino scene.
West Wall– Communications Conference poster by John Chamberlin, 1972. [Courtesy of Donna Montag]- Photographs of: Judy Mayhan with daughters – Shelagh and Omie, Caspar Flats Jug Band, Peace and
Ecology Brand label, Horse Badorties, Charlie Prichard and Charlie Harcourt together, book cover, Mark LeVine and John Chamberlin, Roy Michaels from Mendocino in the Seventies by Nicholas Wilson.
– Bob Dylan, photos and essays by Daniel Kramer, 1967. The acknowledgements include: “Thanks to
Bob Smith of Charlie Brown’s Generation for typing the manuscript.”
– The Fan Man by William Kotzwinkle, 1972. The protagonist in this very “out there” NYC novel is named
Horse Badorties, which was later used as a post-Cat Mother group name by Roy Michaels and friends (John Chamberlin, Celo V’ec, Louis Callas Steve Davidson and Richie Rosenbaum) in the late 70’s and early 80s. Also shown is a cd version of the 1979 Horse Badorties cassette album.
– Sacred Locomotive Flies by Richard Lupoff, 1971. Lupoff makes several references to Cat Mother and
Bob Smith in another “out there” science fiction novel set in the Bay Area in the 1980s. Included is a page from the novel.
– Letter from Dick Lupoff to Phonograph Record Magazine (August, 1972) correcting a reference to Cat
Mother being in the English hippie rock set. That was most likely due to their third and fourth albums being released in the UK on United Artists (UA). Lupoff gives a brief history and news of an upcoming tour. Cat Mother befriended Lupoff and would often stay at his place in Berkeley for Bay Area gigs.
– Gothic romance novels by Antonia Lamb from the late 60’s and early 70s. Lamb and Judy Mayhan were
friends in Greenwich Village at the time. Within a few years they were both living on the Mendocino Coast. In 1972 Mayhan recorded Lamb’s song, “Morning in an Oldsmobile”. Also shown is Antonia’s cd called Lucky’s House.
Lower shelf– Albums by Cat Mother – The Street Giveth, The Street Taketh Away (1969), Cat Mother (1972), and
Last Chance Dance with UA logo (1973).
– 8-track tape player with 8-track tapes from the era by Cat Mother, Judy Mayhan, Lenny Laks with the
Hamilton Face Band.
– Various Cat Mother cds, including Albion Doo Wah and the UK release of The Street Giveth, The Street
Taketh Away with a different cover, track listing and omitting “Charlie’s Waltz.”
– John Chamberlin poster reissue calendar (2016) and Mendocino Funnies created by Chamberlin with
Stephen Anapolsky. Includes work by Mervyn Gilbert.
– A facsimile of The All Night News, October 1967, page 1- Picture of Michael Equine, 1973, from Mendocino in the Seventies and picture of Nicholas Wilson, 1971.
On the floor– Homemade cement sculpture of John Chamberlin’s “little beatnik” by local Cat Mother fan, Jerry Shuck.
North WallPictures on left from top– The Albion Doo-Wah band. Cat Mother, East Caspar, early 1970 – Michael Equine, Jay Ungar, Larry
Packer, Paul Johnson (rear), Roy Michaels (front), Bob Smith. Photo by Ric Lane. – The iconic ‘Commerce Battery Truck’ photograph by Nicholas Wilson, 1971 in Mendocino. Charlie Prichard, Roy Michaels, Bob Smith with daughter Jennifer, Steve Davidson, Michael Equine. – Picture of the infamous boogie at Grossman Ranch in 1971. The photograph was used for the cover of the Last Chance Dance album, 1973. – People dancing at a Bo’s Land boogie, September 1970.
Poster at right
– Poster commemorating Cat Mother, various bands and some players, on the Mendocino Coast, circa1969-1989. Idea by Phil Hildenbrand. Design by Jennifer Barbato.
Binders of Articles and Pictures
On, or near, the big table are more than a half-dozen binders filled with newspaper clippings, advertisements, reviews, pictures and biographical material about Cat Mother and Mendocino Coast music. Feel free to browse.
Throughout the exhibit there are items of (mostly) local press with references to Cat Mother, Mendocino musicians and local shows/events.
Mendocino in the Seventies – Nicholas Wilson
Nick Wilson showed up in Mendocino in the summer of 1970. Having spent time in Austin and Berkeley, he was ready for the country. Shortly upon his arrival he re-united with Charlie Prichard, a friend from Austin, who was playing with Cat Mother. There began a long friendship with Cat Mother and friends. A nascent photographer, Nick took the iconic ‘Commerce Battery Truck’ photograph, which started his life as a photographer of all things Mendocino, including Mendocino in the Seventies. For a time he made excellent live recordings of Mendocino bands and shows, as well. The ability to share visual history of the Mendocino Coast music scene is due to Nick’s diligence and persistence shooting and developing his life’s work. Thanks, Nick for your presence.
Credits and Thank You
The Kelley House Staff – Karen McGrath, Eva LaFlamme, Marguerite O’Brien, Anne Semans and all the docents.
Original idea and Cat Mother memorabilia – Phil Hildenbrand (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Graphics / music consulting – Bill Mulvihill; Technical assistance – Shan Ricciardi; Support – Bruce Levene
Thanks to: Cat Mother and families, Karen and Eva for their inspiration, Nicholas Wilson, the amazing fans.
For further reading and more Cat Mother history, check out: catmotherscrapbook.com