Tripping Fantastic Light Shows in the Cosmic 60’s and 70’s Vol. III — Rainbow Jam

Summary from Volumes I and II: After the Summer of Love in 1967, audiences expected immersive light shows at Rock Concerts. Cosmic Aeroplane founder Steve Jones researched local light shows and compiled a list — Five Fingers On My Hand; Flash and Edison (A.K.A. Kenvin and Edison); Rainbow Jam; Frank & Stein Visuals; Maynard Associates / Total Environment; and more — listed in Volume I.

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(L) Interior wall and ceiling paintings and (R) painted exterior window at the Cosmic Aeroplane on 369 South Temple — Art by Richard Taylor.

Filmmaker and precision draftsman Richard Taylor, one of the creative partners of Rainbow Jam, executed an integrated series of bold original hard-edged paintings at the Cosmic Aeroplane when the innovative shop moved into a new location near the historic Union Pacific Depot between 1968 and 1969.

Jerry Abrams from Head Lights in San Francisco, famous for the Monterrey Pop Festival, oversaw lights for Numenor Productions’ first three concerts at the Fairgrounds Coliseum in Salt Lake City to universal acclaim in 1968. Artist Kenvin Lyman, who later became one of Rainbow Jam’s partners, created posters for the first two shows. Electric Luninescence and Garden of Delights lit the last two Numenor Productions, which was Alan Covey’s bold and important project to promote first-rate artists and concerts in Utah.

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Numenor’s posters for (L) Dance of the Occult Moon on April 27, 1968; (R) Vernal Equinox Dance Concert on March 30, 1968 — Art by Kenvin Lyman (1942 – 2011)

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Volume I — Intro + Maynard Keller    Volume II — 5 Fingers + Frank & Stein

Rainbow Jam — Back and Forth Between Utah and California

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Rainbow Jam was an electronic visual experience that transcended mere light shows.
It was primarily a partnership between Richard Taylor and the late Kenvin (Flash) Lyman. Others who collaborated, or were helpers, in the development of this unique artistic phenomenon included Mikel Covey, the late Harvey (Edison) Warnke, and his wife Laura Warnke, (later Laura Garon.)

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Art by Richard Taylor/Rainbow Jam — Courtesy of Charley Hafen

Richard Taylor was a professional photographer. As a young man he was already working for a high-end fashion shop in Salt Lake City, with the responsibility of doing oversized photo blow-ups for in-store displays, utilizing models and expensive clothes in sometimes unconventional locations like the Bonneville Salt Flats, over an hours drive to the west of downtown Salt Lake.

Taylor visited San Francisco sometime in “Nineteen Sixty Six or Seven” and went to a concert at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco featuring Jefferson Airplane.

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Random Fillmore poster circa 1966-1967

The Fillmore also featured the spectacular multi-media “Head Lights,” which created a dense visual environment made by projecting colorful graphics on slides, ever-changing  film loops, and multiple-colored liquid in constant motion, all interacting with the high-volume Rock Music.

“I just was fascinated by it,” said Taylor, “because it could combine motion picture film and graphic imagery created out of light. I was really influenced by film, he said continued, Film is made of light, and so I was drawn to it because as an artist you could actually play visual music.”

Like Abrams, Taylor made motion pictures, and was showing them at film festivals around the country. He was finishing his degree as a Painting and Drawing Major at the University of Utah and was taken by: “The very idea of making imagery out of light, rather than out of paint — the very nature of light is entirely different emotionally, the way it affects your psyche, just because of the colors, and things you can do with light.”

Taylor said: “Light is just a magical thing. The things about the light shows that fascinated me was the way graphic art and things looked made out of light – the way you can soften it, the way you can dim it, the way you could turn it on or off or play it or animate it. So all the sudden there’s this potential to be able to play art out of light – as an artist.”

“Instead of creating a single frame that you hang on the wall or look at,” said Taylor, “You could make something that was more like music.”

Back in Salt Lake City, Taylor was making a name for himself as a graphic artist.

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Posters by Richard Taylor circa 1968 — Scanned circa 1994, courtesy of Charley Hafen and Steve Jones.

“I started doing posters, for different concerts, going to concerts and so forth,” he said, “and then of course, I saw Flash and Edison Visuals …”

Light shows were desired by promoters and expected by customers at Rock Concerts in the late 1960’s. Flash and Edison Visuals were scheduled to run lights for an upcoming concert by Fever Tree, a band from Houston, Texas on tour with their current single San Francisco Girls (Return of the Native) getting airplay on FM Radio stations.

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Poster by Richard Taylor — Courtesy of the artist.

Besides light shows, the concert-going public wanted to see fancy posters touting these events. The promoter, Factory Company, hired Richard Taylor to create a poster for the Fever Tree / Genesis concert, and while he was working on it, an idea for what would become a totally unique experience with light came to him. He then contacted Kenvin Lyman of Flash & Edison about his epiphany. (Read more details below.)

“I met Kenvin at the “U,” said Taylor, “I was getting my Bachelor’s Degree … he had been teaching in Oregon or someplace like that, and he’d come back to work on his Master’s Degree. I had seen some of his drawings in the hallways, and there were these real delicate things with lots of dots …”

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Art by Kenvin Lyman, drawn in 1969. The Black Pearl concert at the Old Mill was the first time Taylor and Lyman presented their work under the name Rainbow Jam  — posters scanned circa 1995, courtesy of Charley Hafen and Steve Jones.

Taylor and Lyman found a place to rehearse and practice their ideas among the former barracks which housed the Art Department — spread out under sheltering Cottonwood trees around the far eastern corners of the University of Utah campus near then-active Fort Douglas Military Reservation.
Don McDonald had come to Salt Lake from UCLA’s Film School to start a department specializing in film craft at the University of Utah (A.K.A. “The U”) and he secured permission for Rainbow Jam to use the space.

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The Salt Lake Tribune published an article about Rainbow Jam and the University of Utah’s Film Department.

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Read Susan G. Dudley’s article as a PDF —

Salt Lake Tribune_December_28_1969 (PDF)

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Taylor and Lyman started working together at the Old Mill, which put on Rock Concerts every weekend, controlling their new and unique visual effects by hand while developing their future “Rainbow Jam System.” They even brainstormed the name “Rainbow Jam” on the patio of the Old Mill.

“To us, Rainbow Jam meant that we were playing with light like music,” said Taylor.

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(L) Handbill of Old Mill Rock & Light Festival from 1969; (R) The Old Mill, photographed by club manager Ed Huntsman, and used by permission — Handbill courtesy of Charley Hafen and Steve Jones.

At the “Old Mill Rock & Light Festival,” the three light shows performed “linearly,” as Richard Taylor put it. Each team had their own music and ran their own lights, one after the other.

“Rainbow Jam, at this time, didn’t have that whole system together yet. We were using, like, about six slide projectors and motion picture projectors – projecting films I had done,” said Taylor.

Among the films that Rainbow Jam played in rotation was a movie about auto racing at the Bonneville Drag Strip, located in Salt Lake Valley, (not the internationally famous Bonneville Salt Flats on the Nevada border) and made as part of Richard Taylor’s film class. “The film was called Integrator, which was the name of the AA Fueled dragster that I featured,” said Taylor, “I took my camera into the garage, shot the driver, his face, his helmet, his head, his helmet with the fire mask, the goggles, and built a rig to put a camera on the roll bar of the dragster. I made this film, entered it in some film festivals, and it did really well, won some major awards,” said Taylor, “But I only had this one print because I didn’t have much money. I had told the crew and the driver of the car, the Integrator, that I would eventually give them a print, so they could have a print for their archives and so forth.”

“What happened was,” Taylor spoke slowly in the interview, “Four, five, or six months after I made the film the guy crashed in the car and was killed. I hadn’t given them the film. I hadn’t been in touch with them. I didn’t even know the accident happened. We were doing a light show up at the Old Mill, and all the sudden these guys from the crew were there, around me, with his wife, and they said “We want that film!” When Taylor asked why, he was told “Jerry was killed. You said you were going to give us a film …”
“I had no idea!” Taylor said, ”I had one print, took it right off the reel, handed it to them, and they walked out.”

Taylor still had his A and B rolls of film, but it took three years before he was able to make another print of Integrator in Los Angeles.

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“A Tale to Make One Shutter” — perhaps too many mechanical shutters:

Early Rainbow Jam worked hard to develop a new and unique system with Taylor and Lyman operating the projectors with keys and foot pedals, much like musical instruments – dimming them in and out and turning them on and off and adding colorful effects with live music. Electronics wizard Harvey Warnke was an initial partner.

“We went on this journey down the wrong road for awhile that really cost us some money and some time,” laughed Taylor ruefully, “Nobody believed that if we just turned the light bulb on and off (in the projectors) that it would go off quickly enough, so we didn’t even go down THAT road.”

“We tried to come up with a mechanical way to shutter the projectors, and we came up with this thing that we ended up calling ‘Baloney Choppers,’ which were basically a shutter that would fall in front of the lens. It was run by a solenoid, so when we pressed this key the shutter would SNAP down and block the light. We bought all these slide projectors, and Harvey built all the Baloney Choppers.”

“We had a concert at the Terrace Ballroom with Santana and Beautiful Day, said Taylor, “We got there to do this show and started playing — and these solenoids would go WACK and make this incredible loud noise. You’d just have this cacophony — WACK – WACK – WACK-WACK-WACK-WACK, and no band in the world was going to stand for that, this incredible noise from the light show. The managers came up and said we could project, but ‘you cannot use those things that are making all that noise,’” After the concert, they threw away all those custom-built “Baloney Choppers.”

With further testing, Rainbow Jam found that their projector bulbs went bright and dark quickly and gracefully with simple and quiet on/off micro-switches wired into the keys.

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Art by Richard Taylor and lights by Rainbow Jam. A few weeks later, Santana appeared at the Woodstock Festival, held in the fields of Yasgur’s Farm near Bethel, New York doing one of the star performances in the famous movie — image courtesy of R.W. Taylor.

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Taylor spoke about Lyman’s previous light shows, and his technique of projecting opaque black and total transparency to make a pattern: “Kenvin had these glass plates that he’d covered with asphaltum or black acrylic and then he used a pointed device, a scribe with a sharpened point, and then he would make dots and lines, and go back and scratch away – he would do that on glass and scrape through and then the light would go through so he was making these patterns and designs that were totally opaque black and then the light went through where he’d scraped away, and of course they’d put colored gels over it and project slides …”

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Sketch of an artist scratching a design through a dark asphaltum ground with a pointed scribe tool.

“In the print shop they use High Con Film. It is either totally opaque black or clear, there’s no gray — I had this epiphany,” said Taylor, “Wait a minute, I could draw stuff at a larger scale, we could draw a design that we wanted to project, with black line on a white background, using rapidographs for inking.’ You could draw out the design and then put it in a copy camera and reduce it down to whatever size you wanted it to be. That film was made to keep incredibly fine details, so we reduced it down to make slides. We could do the detail the way we normally drew, and do it the way we normally did, and wouldn’t have to scrape away.”
“I came up with the idea … using photographic techniques that were used for printing, and that’s how we created these hundreds and hundreds of slides that Kenvin and I both drew. We could draw artwork and then do overlays.”

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Example of a Rainbow Jam overlay — Courtesy of R.W. Taylor

The Rainbow Jam System used multiple slide projectors and motion picture projectors that lined up graphically, in register with each other, and the color was made with color wheels or color filters.
“By using these slide projectors, rather than overhead projectors, we could get much brighter light,” said Taylor, “We could focus and de-focus those images – when you defocus them, it is like airbrushing them and taking away those hard edges and softening it, so you can make these glows and soft kinds of light that you couldn’t do any other way.”

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Images courtesy of R.W. Taylor.

“We worked with Harvey Warnke to build our control system. Kenvin and I designed the racks where the projectors all went, and I was shooting film for the show – we had two 16mm motion picture projectors , and one of them was a “motion analyzer” that coaches used back in the day that you could slow it down, speed it up, and stop on a freeze frame – and you could play it backwards and forward. We used them  for strobing, pulsing, as a stylization …

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Rainbow Jam’s color wheels are set up near the front of an outdoor stage at Lake Amador, California, with now-legendary Taj Mahal (Henry Saint Clair Fredricks) in performance. Read Taylor’s story about this event further down below — detail from a P.D. color photo by Steve Rudzinkski.

“Those projectors had color wheels on them and we also had masks on those lenses so we could crop the shape of the projection.  So we weren’t always projecting a rectangle, we could project a circle or a diamond or a triangle or a box and the projections would fit in with the graphics.”

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Rainbow Jam built their presentations in modules using four precisely-overlapping projectors. The pattern above required two modules side by side — courtesy of R.W. Taylor.

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Leo Kottke’s first international release from John Fahey’s Takoma Records was a best-seller.   “Armadillo” cover by Annie Elliot.

Richard Taylor spoke about a concert with acoustic guitar virtuoso Leo Kottke, where Rainbow Jam were set up in the balcony of Pioneer Memorial Theater on the University of Utah campus. However, when Kottke arrived, they learned that one of his guitars had been stolen the night before in Denver. The missing case unfortunately contained the tubular glass finger slides that Kottke needed for playing much of his repertory.
“Get in the car,” said Rainbow Jam, and they helped Kottke get some straight-necked wine bottles from the State Liquor Store. Afterward, they drove back to the campus, where they cut and ground new finger slides for Kottke in the machine shop of the Ceramics Lab at the Art Department. The Leo Kottke concert went on as planned, and Taylor remembered him as “Funny — a great amazing guy!” (Note — Kenvin Lyman and Richard Taylor both played guitars.)
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Rainbow Jam’s Grateful Dead poster for the “S.D.S. Ball” at the University of Utah leads to a meeting with Jerry Garcia:

Richard Taylor said: “Someone who was associated with the Dead had seen Rainbow Jam and told someone in the Grateful Dead, and said ‘there was nothing like it, and you should work together.’ One of the roadies, or something, came up and said ‘Hey Jerry and the guys really love that poster.’ (see the image below) ‘Would you mind meeting with them or Jerry tomorrow at the Hotel Utah where they are staying?’ So I went down to meet Jerry Garcia at the Hotel Utah. I knocked on his door in his hotel room. He answered the door, and it was like Moses – he was in a bathrobe, had this beard and hair, and he had this giant book! It was an illustrated edition of Dante’s Inferno, this BIG book, so he really looked like Moses!”
“He invited me in,” said Taylor. “We started talking. (Garcia) said he ‘loved that poster,’ and then “I hear you have a light show that is really amazing and if you guys are ever in the Bay Area, we’d like to work with you,” When Taylor wondered how that would work, Garcia said, “You’d have to talk with our manager, but we’d love to see if we can work with you sometime!”

“Based on that conversation,” Taylor says,
“Kenvin and I decided to move to the Bay Area.”

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Concert posters by Richard Taylor — (L) The Grateful Dead show was organized by students at the University of Utah as the SDS Ball; (R) The group Pogo had to change their name to Poco, but they still featured Richey Furay and Jim Messina from Buffalo Springfield, plus pedal steel guitarist Rusty Young who had played on Buffalo Springfield’s “Kind Woman.” Howard Wales played Hammond Organ with A.B. Skhy and collaborated with Jerry Garcia. Rainbow Jam would later do shows with them in California — images courtesy of R.W. Taylor.

“The story of how we got into the Family Dog was amazing,” said Richard Taylor

Chet Helms stopped doing his “Family Dog” concerts at the Avalon and Fillmore in San Francisco and started another Family Dog on the Great Highway just beyond the Golden Gate, near Seal Rock, in a building that was once a roller rink.

Taylor and Lyman drove to the San Francisco area and called the Family Dog’s booking agent Michael Christopher from a pay phone in “Berkeley, or wherever we stopped,” Taylor said, to see if they could get a gig. Initially, things weren’t going at all well until Taylor got on the telephone with Christopher, and the latter said “I did see ONE poster from Utah that was pretty cool.” Michael Christopher then described the Pogo/A.B. Skhy poster from a recent concert at Salt Lake’s Terrace Ballroom. (see the image above)
“I did that poster!” Taylor interjected, and Christopher said, “Get down here, right now!”

“We went down there and talked to him,” said Taylor, “He said: ‘Look, come back on Saturday, we’ll let you set your stuff up, and then we can see what it looks like, and then decide … We brought the equipment down and did this audition, and everybody flipped out! ‘Holy %$#@! This is not like any light show at all, it is entirely a different thing.’ They invited us to project on a Wednesday with some other light shows.” said Taylor, “We had made our own screens, that had rail and piping, and they were white plastic-coated nylon that could resist rain, which we hung, and jammed that night with other light shows. Michael started booking us with bands like Sandy Bull, Big Mama Thornton, and Sons of Champlin. We did shows all over the place. He was the rep for Commander Cody, 13th Floor Elevators — quite a few different bands like that.”

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NOTE: Rainbow jam would work again with Doug McKechnie at the Hansen Planetarium in Salt Lake City — P.D. images from Internet research, with digital processing by M.E.

“The Dead came through and said ‘Yeah, we want to work with you,’ So we spent about two months touring with them in places like Turlock, Sacramento, Sound Factory, and mostly California,” said Taylor. “We came back and worked other places, in the Bay Area primarily. We did the Fillmore a couple of times, which we hated — (The Fillmore West) would turn on the focus/follow spots, and totally blow the light show away. We thought why do you even HAVE us here? We decided never to work there again.”

Chet Helms’ Family Dog on the Great Highway often held intimate gatherings of Bay Area musicians like the New Riders of the Purple Sage singing with Jerry Garcia accompanying them on his legendary Pedal Steel Guitar, or Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Cassidy performing with then-current bandmate Marty Balin, plus future Jefferson Airplane drummer Joey “Lather” Covington.

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Kenvin Lyman, Family Dog Thumb Wrestling Champion, with a cat and his signature stovepipe hat — from a P.D. concert poster by sometime associate Mikel Covey, courtesy of Charley Hafen and Steve Jones.

‘The Common,” where Rainbow Jam introduced themselves to San Francisco, was a regular Wednesday night event at the Family Dog. Artists and supporters came up with ideas for this mid-week evening to help keep the Family Dog going. Richard Taylor tells this story from Common Night history: “They decided to have this whole ‘western theme’ for one of these Wednesday nights, so they brought in hay and made this pile of hay bales on the floor down below. Bands played at either end, and we did the lights. They sent flatbed trucks out through the city, people would just jump on, and they’d drive them to the Family Dog, so there was free transportation, people would show up, and they were quite a crowd.”
“So that night they had a Thumb Wrestling Competition that finally ‘boiled down’ to a Thumb Wrestle-off with Kenvin Lyman as a finalist: “It happened to be that Kenvin was an incredibly good thumb wrestler. He had these strong hands, from growing up milking cows or whatever, and he could thumb wrestle!
He ended up thumb wrestling against this big biker guy, who was like, you know, 250 pounds and two feet taller than Kenvin, and Kenvin’s got this stovepipe hat. They had these final things on top of this stack of bales of hay with these spotlights on them and everything. So they’re up there and people are going, ‘This little kid is probably going to get his hand broken by this big biker.’ They said ‘Ready and Go’ — and Kenvin pinned him … INSTANTLY.”
“Lyman’s defeated opponent was grumbling, so they made it two out of three: “… and Kenvin, like in two seconds, pinned him twice,” said Taylor, “It was all over, and the place went CRAZY! This little wiry dude had out-thumb wrestled this Motorcycle / Hell’s Angels kind of guy. It was funny!”

Dr. Timothy Leary visited a Saturday meeting at the Family Dog, announcing that he was starting a tour and wanted to hire a a light show plus a band. Rainbow Jam and an innovative musical group called It’s A Beautiful Day were booked to tour with him. David LaFlamme, leader of the band, was also from Salt Lake City. LaFlamme and Taylor visited Dr. Leary at home, before going on their own impending road trips, and spoke of his research etc. A few weeks later, as the tour was supposed to begin, they learned that “Timothy Leary’s fled …” to Mexico, in order to escape law enforcement officers.

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The Gold Rush Festival and Goodbye to Northern California

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The Lake Amador “Gold Rush” Festival was on October 4, 1969 P.D. historical image — artist unknown

Richard Taylor told an important story about the Lake Amador Gold Rush Festival, held almost exactly two months before Altamont’s infamous outdoor concert on December the sixth of that same year. “I am going to write this out one of these days,” Taylor asserted. The text below summarizes his verbal descriptions of this pivotal event in Rainbow Jam’s history:

Rainbow Jam was booked to do an outdoor Pop Festival on an island in Lake Amador, north of Sacramento. This Gold Rush Festival was put on by the University of California, Davis, and the island was a pretty place with trees, grass, and a beautiful natural amphitheater that seemed like a perfect place to set up a stage. People from the school were sent up to Lake Amador to handle the many things they needed, because there was no power, water, or plumbing of any kind on that island, and the only connection to the mainland was a narrow two-lane road on top of a causeway.
They had to bring everything across the causeway — generators, portable latrines, food, and water, besides sound equipment and musical gear for every band who performed that day, not to mention Rainbow Jam’s lighting equipment. Scaffolding was needed to build the main stage, tall speaker towers, and operational control platforms for the renowned and experienced professional sound crew, slightly left of the stage a short distance away.
Taylor, ‘and a couple of roadie-type guys,” went to the island early in the day, ahead of Rainbow Jam’s lighting truck, to affix the custom screens on the stage, and build their own six-feet high structure out of scaffolding for their equipment and controls, about 80 to 100 feet from the stage and dead center, in a spot which would soon be surrounded by uncounted thousands of people.
Taylor also had the challenge and responsibility to connect to sufficient electricity for their equipment. A normal electric circuit would only power four slide projectors, and they used at least sixteen, plus motion picture projectors, color wheels, etc. A significant portion of space their work vehicles consisted of heavy-duty cabling and junction boxes. At this outdoor show, workers half-buried the cables leading to and from the generators, and laid rubber mats across them.
The narrow causeway was a serious and actual bottleneck, affecting everything that day, especially when the massive crowd was admitted before they were ready, and Kenvin had a hard time getting through the traffic. Their agent Michael Christopher was already at the microphone as MC of the festival, and helped coax enough people around the front of the stage to make room while Lyman’s truck full of lighting equipment backed in toward Rainbow Jam’s jungle-gym scaffolding booth at about two o’ clock in the afternoon, hours after the musical acts began playing, “in the middle of a sea of people.”
Besides the characteristic use of mind-altering substances that characterized festivals like this in the ‘Sixties, this festival was in Wine Country, and vast quantities of alcohol were added to the mix. Taylor used the phrase “out of their minds” quite often in his interview about the audience at this event. He told about a overly-enthusiastic formidably-large man trying to climb up their scaffold in a drug-fueled haze, causing the fragile structure to tip forward and almost fall.
Taylor also spoke of one young member of the sponsor’s crew from U.C. Davis who inexplicably tore some electric wires out of one of the junction boxes and delighted in playing a potentially fatal game of  holding live high-voltage cables in either hand and bringing them together to make crackling electrical arcs until he was subdued, with the help of battle-hardened pros from the sound crew.
“Now the Hell’s Angels show up …” said Taylor. He described how 50 riders from the motorcycle gang rode through the crowd, made their own encampment on another part of the island and stayed, “… doing whatever the hell they wanted.” He repeatedly expressed his relief that their children weren’t with them at this gig.
Taylor also described how the beautiful grass was at first trampled down by innumerable people, and then ground into dirt, which was then pulverized to the consistency of baby powder, smothering that once-pretty place in a cloud of dirt.
When Rainbow Jam stated projecting at nightfall, their equipment started to relentlessly fill up with dust from the filthy venue, the images getting dimmer and redder as midnight and the end of the festival approached. All the food and water was gone, the portable latrines had been filled by mid-afternoon, and when the generators were turned off after the last act, the island was plunged into darkness.
Before the festival was finally finished, Rainbow Jam and the roadies literally threw their equipment back in the truck and utilized their vehicles to make a de facto fort behind the stage, while the island devolved into total anarchy as intoxicated concert-goers were trapped in the cold night, between the bottleneck of a dark two-lane causeway jammed with cars and a bonfire encircled by predatory Hell’s Angels who were constantly running their motorcycles. Taylor, Lyman, and the roadies took turns standing watch for the rest of that horrifying night, which Taylor compared to Dante’s Inferno.
“It was Hell on Earth,” he said.
When dawn finally broke, they checked their screens on the stage and found them torn to shreds with a few remnants hanging in shrouds like a scene out of a Fellini film. After looking at the human devastation around them, between plumes of smoke from desperate campfires made from rubbish and green branches from the ravaged trees, Taylor decided to go back to Utah. “This beautiful place had turned into absolutely the ugliest thing I had ever seen,” he said.

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It took two weeks to clean the equipment, and they did one more show with Commander Cody to earn enough money to get back to Utah. Taylor went to work at a ski resort, but Rainbow Jam also started creating new light shows, projected onto the inside of a huge dome at the Hansen Planetarium in Downtown Salt Lake.

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Images by Rainbow Jam — Courtesy of R.W. Taylor

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Rainbow Jam returned to Salt Lake City and presented seasonal events at the Hansen Planetarium

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Rainbow Jam staged concerts with high-caliber musicians from California and elsewhere in the Hansen Planetarium between Christmas and New Year from 1969 into the early seventies, even after Taylor won the Cole Porter Fellowship at U.S.C. — permanently relocating himself and his family to Los Angeles.

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(L to R) An unnamed planetarium employee, Richard Taylor, Bruce Hatch, David Schultz, synthesizer master Doug McKechnie from California, Harvey Warnke, Pete Slauson, and Kenvin Lyman.

(Below) Doug McKechnie’s Moog Synthesizer concert with Rainbow Jam in 1969 was the first event of its kind inside the historic former library building run by Salt Lake County, which had been devoted to hard science for half a decade. Taylor and Lyman teamed up with Harvey Warnke again for this pioneering endeavor.*

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“Rainbow Jam Light Artists – Moog Synthesizer by Doug McKechnie – Hansen Planetarium – Dec. 31 – Jan. 2 – 9 – 8&10 PM – $2.50”

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(Below) Rainbow Jam in an outdoor photo with some of their collaborators on various Hansen Planetarium projects: (Standing L to R) Harold Carr, John Davis, Richard Winn Taylor II, Kenvin Lyman; (Seated L to R) Kevin Lewis, Kristen Merrill, Sonny Wolf. Angelina Lyman is sitting in Kristen’s lap.

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(L to R) Richard Winn Taylor II (standing), Kevin Lewis, John Davis, Sonny Wolf, Kelly Sullivan (back), Mark Hanks (white t-shirt front), Harold Carr (back), and Kenvin Lyman standing at the right edge.

(Above) The group “Wood” performed under the planetarium’s dome with Rainbow Jam and consisted of: Kevin Lewis: vocals, keyboards, composition,  John Davis : drums,  Sonny Wolf: guitar and vocals,  Kelly Sullivan : alto sax & compositions, Mark Hanks: percussion,  plus Harold Carr : bass & compositions.

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Photo by M. Evans — Courtesy of Richard Winn Taylor II

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(Below) Rainbow Jam did a show called Indian Famine in the Hansen Planetarium which featured a Native American elder named Chebon White Cloud performing traditional songs live beneath the concave roof with ever-changing images by Lyman and Taylor.

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Images courtesy of Richard Winn Taylor II

(Above) My friends and I were sitting in the Hansen Planetarium one night, circa 1971, with our seats tilted upward, as Rainbow Jam’s dragons started the evening’s show by waving their tails over our heads, accompanied by electronic music.

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Taylor also worked with Utah-based artist and professor F. Anthony Smith from the U. of U, and collaborated with Linda C. Smith of the highly-respected Repertory Dance Theatre (see the poster above from 1968) on a multimedia piece called “Diamond,” featuring brilliant projections and fine dancers — RDT toured with an ace technical crew, anchored by Gary (Phrogg) Justeson and Kay Burrell, who were able to illuminate “Diamond” in concerts on the road. Richard Taylor and Linda Smith were both eventually honored as “Distinguished Alumni” by the University of Utah.

Listen to the man himself!

Richard Winn Taylor II delivered a lecture about Rainbow Jam, and much more, as part of a talk at UCLA in 2012 about the innovative company Abel and Associates:

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxujJzexwHM

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*In future years, the Hansen Planetarium combined recorded music, slides, and lasers for commercially-successful late night “Laserium” shows, then presented long-running audio/visual displays with themes like “Laser Floyd” under their dome for another decade. Modern planetariums everywhere now feature curved IMAX screens augmented by lighting effects, continuing a style of public entertainment which was originally pioneered in the 1960’s by light shows in art galleries, lofts, movie houses, and at rock concerts, with artists of light, like Five Fingers On My Hand and Rainbow Jam, introducing some of the first innovations affecting the future of this still-popular phenomenon — seen in urban areas like the musically-synchronized patterns and effects on panels in the roofed-over Fremont Street in Las Vegas, for one example, and on vast outdoor scales, like laser shows projected over flowing waters running down the spillway of Grand Coulee Dam for another example.

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Postscript: Concerning Harvey Warnke’s Modification for Nagra Tape Recorders

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Paraphrases and quotes from gothamsound.com: “Harvey Warnke’s company was Time Code Systems and his partner was veteran SF area soundie Andy Wiskes … Unlike the stock Nagra IV-STC, Harvey’s “mod” had an internal resolver for playback, could change from Time Code to at the flip of a switch, had all its controls on the side — accessible in a bag, a better clock, a cool time code display on the deck, and the ability to clock its time code generator to an external pulse.  This last was VERY handy when reclocking the Nagra’s time code to match the frame rate of a film camera. It was in sync, even though the actual frame rate of the film camera and the recorder’s time code were very oddball.”

harvey_mod

Portions of the Nagra IV stereo recorder with the “Harvey Mod.”

“We’ve recovered a copy of the manual for your reading pleasure. Enjoy this look at a piece of sound history …”

The Harvey Board by Richard Brause (PDF)

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Much appreciation to Maynard Keller, Charley Hafen, Ed Huntsman, Mike Foster, Richard Winn Taylor II, Brian C. Record, and Laura Garon for their pictures and memories. Further credit goes to the Rare Books Department of the Marriott Library on-campus at the University of Utah, and especially the research of the late Steve Jones, without whom this page would have been simply impossible.
Excerpts from Richard Taylor’s phone interviews are attributed and enclosed in quotation marks, while editor and co-author Michael’s comments are free-standing and based on Steve Jones’ research plus his own. Although the latter may contain quotation marks around idioms, slang, etc, they are NOT quotes from Richard Taylor.
Future revisions for clarity and additions of relevant details will inevitably occur, and are already planned. Technical diagrams in this series, plus images from the Family Dog, the Fillmore Ballroom, the Harvey Mod, and the Lake Amador festival are used for historical purposes in accordance with International Law.

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We actively request contributions of pictures, memorabilia, and oral histories about the Cosmic Aeroplane and related cultural phenomena — please contact us:

Blogmeister Michael Evans is an author and historian.
Email: mike_evans_exile@yahoo.com

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DISCLAIMER: Any advertisements you may see below this page are artifacts of our blog-hosting service and are totally unrelated to this project.

 

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About Michael Evans

Michael has lived in Montana, Washington State (East and West), Holland, and England, but he was born in Salt Lake City, and graduated from the University of Utah.
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3 Responses to Tripping Fantastic Light Shows in the Cosmic 60’s and 70’s Vol. III — Rainbow Jam

  1. Pingback: Tripping Fantastic Light Shows Vol. I — Maynard Associates | Cosmic Aeroplane 1960's to 1990's

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