November 17th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1963, the Long Beach Independent ran a story about the new craze, folk music. In two mid-sized columns, the unnamed reporter covered the growing popularity of folk music on college campuses, Hootenanny, the ABC network’s musical variety show that featured many folk acts, and the perception of folk music as do-it-yourself music. The article quickly covers important figures in traditional folk music such as Leadbelly, John and Alan Lomax, Woody Guthrie, and The Weavers. The story even touches briefly on folk music’s subversive reputation.

While all that is interesting as a snapshot of folk music’s position in the mainstream culture in late 1963, it doesn’t really have anything to do with Seal Beach history except that the story was accompanied by this photo:

The caption for the photo confirms something about Seal Beach’s musical history that I’ve heard before so I’m going to quote it fully:

JOAN BAEZ, wears the long hair and high-necked female folk singer’s trademark costume. Miss Baez, not the example folk singer purists would point to as authentic, has built up a considerable following since strumming and singing in a Seal Beach coffee house some two and one-half years ago.

The coffee house in question is almost certainly the Rouge et Noir. If we count back that two and one-half years, Baez played on Main Street Seal Beach in May of 1961, give or take a few months.

In September 1963, Vanguard Records released her second LP album, imaginatively titled, “Joan Baez, Volume 2.” Here’s “Old Blue,” a song from that album. Perhaps Baez tested it on a Seal Beach audience in the Rouge et Noir some night over fifty years ago. 

On a unrelated note, I’ve occasionally griped here about how awful microfilm was as a medium for archiving newspapers and magazines. Please note the truly lousy quality of microfilmed photo above the quoted caption and then compare it to the actual image it was taken from:

I hate microfilm.

ADDENDUM: One time Seal Beach resident has shared this on Facebook on November 12th, 2019 in the “You know you grew up in Seal Beach, CA when…” group:

“Saw young Baez there. She sang Silver Dagger – Knocked me out.”

– Michael Dobkins


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2 Responses to November 17th in Seal Beach History

  1. Ron Holmstrom says:

    I saw her there, as our dad was Jerry Nikas’ friend and he made sure I got to see Baez and many other folk singers of the time. The Rouge was a great venue. The Nikas family also owned The Golden Bear and The Prison of Socrates.

    Like

    • Michael Dobkins says:

      There’s a DVD of the Nikas backed film, 1965 Dirty Feet, that stars Tim Morgan and features The Prison of Socrates prominently, but there seems to be very little left to document this era. I’ve heard that all the memorabilia and records that the Nikas brothers had of their coffee houses days was destroyed in a basement flood. There is a hyper-rare Rouge et Noir LP album out there that I saw once on eBay about 15 years ago, a few photos and articles online, and some personal memories like yours, but that’s it.

      Thanks for sharing, Ron.

      Take Care,
      mpd

      Like

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