Rockin' at the Red Dog recounts the mid-1960s performances and antics of a bunch of kids with long hair and thrift store chic who were hired to perform at a saloon in a Nevada mining town, including the Charlatans, Dan Hicks, Big Brother & the Holding Company (pre-Janis), and Quicksilver Messenger Service. After opening with a short clip of a 1964 Charlatans rehearsal, the film interviews dozens of musicians who played in these bands, as well as the Great Society, Jefferson Airplane, and the Grateful Dead; and others, like poster artist and co-founder of the Family Dog production company Alton Kelly; as they recount the scene in both San Francisco and at the Red Dog. As well as financing the film, scores of people contributed photographs and film and audio clips to the project, so it's a real archive of obscure material in addition to the narratives, and the director spends about half an hour covering the early San Francisco ballroom concert/dance scene. One absolutely creepy part, for me, though, is where the bar owner runs short on cash, so pays the musicians with guns . . . several times. Guns. Hippies with guns. Hippie musicians with guns. Hippies musicians on drugs with guns. Yikes. But, of course, the hippie scene was what it was, nothing more and nothing less. Not making sense was nothing new.
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