Psychedelic history heads to Denver in the Family Dog Van

Psychedelic history heads to Denver in the Family Dog Van | Pro Club Bd

A piece of history will make its way to the Dive Inn in Denver on Sunday, July 31st. The Van Family Dog, now owned by Chris Stames, was a major force during the San Francisco psychedelic scene in the ’60s, hosting concerts and carrying around the likes of the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, The Charlatans and Jefferson Airplane.

The van was originally owned by David Homicz, a core member of the Family Dog collective, later known as Family Dog Productions. “The collective was originally based in Detroit and went by the name Arts West Movement,” explains Stames. “But in 1964 or 1965 the group moved to Haight-Ashbury because of low housing prices.”

The family dog ​​included about thirty people, which ended up with the name because the majority of the members had dogs that lived next door to them in their community home known as “the dog house.” The group rose to fame for hosting some of the first psychedelic rock events in San Francisco and energizing the burgeoning ’60s counterculture.

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Charlatans, with Big Brother and the Holding Company, including Janis Joplin.

herb green

Even with dozens of dogs, a certain pooch named Sancho led the pack. The free-spirited pup was owned by Homicz and was known as “the alpha male of the pack,” says Stames. “A free-roaming dog that comes and goes as he pleases in and around the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood.” Sancho’s portrait can be seen on either side of the van’s body alongside the family dog’s name. The splashy paint job, which includes a mandala on the roof, was done in 1965 by revered psychedelic artist Stanley “Mouse” Miller.

The colorful van was the collective’s primary mode of transportation, transporting all concert paraphernalia up and down the west coast. “From the streets of Haight-Ashbury to the free concert in Golden Gate Park to the beach parties of the late ’60s, the truck was there,” says Stames.

The collective started putting on shows at the Dog House basement. As the group’s business grew, the Family Dog began hosting larger events, and the collective hired a team of talented graphic artists to design and promote handouts for upcoming shows. These artists became known as the “San Francisco Five” and included Stanley Mouse, Rick Griffin, Wes Wilson, Alton Kelly and Victor Moscoso. Her posters continued to attract more people and became a staple of the psychedelic rock scene.

But the family dog ​​wasn’t just part of San Francisco’s history; it also made waves in Denver. With the blessing of the collective, Barry Fey opened a branch in the Mile High City at 1601 West Evans Avenue in 1967. Although the club had a short run and closed in 1968, it has hosted some of rock ‘n’ roll’s biggest stars, including Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and the Grateful Dead. The site is now a strip club, PT’s show club.

The Family Dog disbanded the same year his Denver club closed, and Homicz relocated to Garberville, California, at the southern end of the state’s redwood forest. On his way there, Family Dog’s van broke down and he had to abandon it deep in the woods. And it stayed right there for 53 years, and its once-vibrant paint job faded to rust.

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The Family Dog Truck today.

Chris Stames

Enter Stames, a Denverite born and raised and a lover of psychedelic history. He had heard about the Family Dog Van from a friend, Rusty Goldman, who had posted a photo of the truck on his popular Professor Poster Facebook page. By the time he was sixteen, Goldman had actually helped haul the gear out of the truck, along with “his older brother, who was hanging out with the Charlatans, the Dead, and the Merry Pranksters,” says Stames. “It was because of those bands’ association with Family Dog that Rusty got involved with the truck from the start.”

Both Goldman and Stames thought the truck was “lost to history forever,” says Stames. But last November, Stames found the truck buried in a Facebook ad. He immediately forwarded the information to Goldman, who told him he didn’t have time for the restoration. Stames then mentioned the van to his neighbor, who agreed to pool his money with Stames to buy it. While withdrawing from the restoration project, he still gave money to buy the car to Stames, who says he’s now the “accidental owner of the Family Dog panel truck.”

Stames will be bringing the truck to the Dive Inn on July 31st for a grand unveiling party, complete with a soundtrack showcasing late ’60s psychedelic music. The event also includes a screening of the award-winning documentary The fairy tale of the dogdocumenting the history of Denver’s branch of the family canine.

The Family Dog Van is the focus of a major restoration process that Stames says could cost $150,000; He created a GoFundMe page to fund the effort. He hopes to place the van in the Smithsonian’s exhibit in San Francisco, and has also contacted the National Register of Historic Places and the Historical Vehicle Registry to see if the truck could be included.

Family Dog Car Unveiling, Sunday, July 31, 7:00 p.m. to midnight, Dive Inn, 1380 South Broadway. Admission is free; learn more here.

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