Altamont Photographer Bill Owens (Copyright 1969)

Altamont Photographer Bill Owens (Copyright 1969)

These days in Tri-Valley, when you mention Altamont, people think you are talking about the traffic traveling from Livermore into the Central Valley.  Many young residents and visitors are not aware that it was in fact the site of infamous Altamont Speedway Free Festival in 1969.   The much maligned concert is in some circles widely known as the end of the hippie era.  It has been 40 years since Woodstock, and the festival is celebrating with a new film, and hundreds of press articles.  But here in Tri-Valley, we are remembering the end of the 60’s differently with an exhibit of never before seen photos from Altamont by photographer Bill Owens at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore.  The exhibit will be on display during Guitar Player Live! September 11-13, 2009 at the Bankhead Theater.

The Altamont Speedway Free Festival was an infamous rock concert held on Saturday, December 6, 1969, at the Altamont Speedway in northern California, between Tracy and Livermore. Headlined and organized by The Rolling Stones, it also featured, in order of appearance: Santana, Jefferson Airplane, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and Crosby, Stills & Nash, with the Rolling Stones taking the stage as the final act.  The Grateful Dead were also scheduled to perform, but declined to play shortly before their scheduled appearance due to the increasing violence at the venue.  “That’s the way things went at Altamont—so badly that the Grateful Dead, prime organizers and movers of the festival, didn’t even get to play.”  Nevertheless, the erroneous notion is still in circulation.

Altamont Photographer Bill Owens (Copyright 1969)

Altamont Photographer Bill Owens (Copyright 1969)

Approximately 300,000 people attended the concert, and some anticipated that it would be a “Woodstock West.” Filmmakers Albert and David Maysles shot footage of the event and incorporated it into a documentary film entitled Gimme Shelter (1970). The event is best known for having been marred by considerable violence, including one homicide and three accidental deaths: two caused by a hit-and-run car accident and one by drowning in an irrigation canal. Four births were reported during the event as well.

The Altamont concert is often contrasted with the Woodstock festival that took place less than four months earlier. While Woodstock represented “peace and love”, Altamont came to be viewed as the end of the hippie era and the de facto conclusion of late-1960s American youth culture: “Altamont became, whether fairly or not, a symbol for the death of the Woodstock Nation.”Rock music critic Robert Christgau wrote in 1972 that “Writers focus on Altamont not because it brought on the end of an era but because it provided such a complex metaphor for the way an era ended”.


Lights. Camera. Action. “Hollywood in Pleasanton” is returning to the Museum On Main Street, 603 Main Street, Pleasanton, this year from 1-5 p.m. on Sunday, September 20.

Pleasanton was one of the primary places to make movies in the early 1900’s.  With Essanay movie studios in Niles, Pleasanton’s quaint downtown worked well for many sets.  The Museum On Main Street is reenacting scenes from four of the 30 plus movies made here.  Local actors will re-enact some of the scenes from the silent movies, “Tom Sawyer,” starring Jack Pickford; “Yellow Dog,”  “Gigolo”, and the circus scenes from “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” starring Mary Pickford.

The Museum on Main Street will become a movie theater showcasing “It Ain’t Hay,” with Abbott and Costello.  Abbott and Costello re-enactors will do a live radio show from the Museum featuring their famous comedic sketch, Who’s On First. Check out the movie theater’s showing of some of our more famous silent films before or after you watch the reenactments.  Ticket prices are $10 per person.

Bring your cameras to the Red Carpet event beginning at 1 p.m.   Immediately following the Red Carpet, the actors will go to their locations and act out scenes from the four selected silent movies until 3:30 p.m.  Movies will continue to be shown at the museum until 4 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased at the Museum On Main, 603 Main St., by calling the museum at 462-2766, or at the museum on the day of the event.

Eugene ONeill and Wife Carlotta

Eugene O'Neill and Wife Carlotta

Starting June 6 through August 29, 2009, the Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site will be offering NO RESERVATION SATURDAYS to the site.

A park van will be waiting at the Museum of the San Ramon Valley (205 Railroad Ave., Danville, CA) at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to bring visitors up and down from the O’Neill home. No reservations are needed on these Saturdays this summer. However, If you are planning to bring a large group, please contact the park at (925) 838-0249.

A Bit About this National Historic Site:

O’Neill in California: America’s only Nobel Prize winning playwright, Eugene O’Neill, chose to live in the Tri-Valley, specifically in Danville, CA at the climax of his writing career. Isolated from the world and within the walls of his home, O’Neill wrote his final and most memorable plays; The Iceman Cometh, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, and A Moon for the Misbegotten.

Visitors arrive by park shuttle from the Town of Danville, receive a guided tour through O’Neill’s Tao House, and have time to explore the grounds before returning to Danville on the shuttle. Plays are presented in the old barn twice a year by The Eugene O’Neill Foundation in the spring and fall.

About Eugene O’Neill’s time in Danville:

In 1937 the playwright Eugene O’Neill and his wife Carlotta discovered 158 acres in the Las Trampas Hills above Danville, California and decided to build there. They loved the site not only because of the beauty of the countryside Eugene described as “corduroy hills,” but also because of its isolation. For the O’Neills it was an advantage to be away from the world, escaping from the publicity and notoriety the successful playwright had attracted after receiving the Nobel Prize for literature in the previous year. They lived in the home they named Tao House (from the Taoist philosophy meaning “the right way of life”) from 1937 to 1944. The house Eugene called his “final harbor” was at once a home, a working place and a fortress, built high on the hill, where few visitors were welcomed. Carlotta protected Eugene from the outside world, and he was able to write his most famous plays isolated behind three doors that closed off his study from the rest of the house.

From ongoing dynamic lectures to exciting ever-changing exhibits and more, Pleasanton’s Museum on Main provides it all.

The 2009 Ed Kinney Lecture Series features:
February 19 – Julia Morgan, as impersonated by Betty Marvin, architectural historian. Marvin will share information about Morgan, a native Californian born and raised in the Bay Area. Learn about her life and career that changed the architectural landscape of our state.
March 19  – A Nation Transformed: How the Civil War Changed America Forever, with Dr. Gerald Henig. Often called America’s second revolution, the Civil War left a legacy of change unsurpassed by any other event. Dr. Henig is an emeritus professor of history at California State University, East Bay. A four-time winner of the Pi Kappa Delta Best Lecturer Award, he also received the Outstanding Professor Award.
April 16 – Trail master Steve Thomas will discuss the uniqueness of the Tri-Valley and its trails.
May 21 – Meet the Museums when representatives from three area museums present their programs.
June 18 – Maxine Troust will relate the History of Lawrence Livermore Laboratory from the early 1950s through today.
September 17 – Film historian D. Klehn will tell about the film industry in Pleasanton and Niles.
October 15 – Teri Carlson returns to share her experience with ‘spirits’ in Pleasanton.
July 16 and August 20 lectures will be announced later.

All lectures will be held at Lynnewood Methodist Church, 4444 Black Ave., Pleasanton at 7 p.m.
Admission is $5 per person, $10 for non-museum members.  Memberships are available at the lectures.

Two events should be of particular interest to museum visitors this year.

Mid-March begins the Civil War display in conjunction with the March 19 lecture. A gala opening is slated for March 27-28.
Mark October 10 for an evening of fun and fund raising for the museum with Brothels, Saloons and Gaming. This historic-era, dress-up party will be a boon to anyone wishing to assume a slightly different role than one’s daily life.

Unique exhibits include:
Treasures of the Tri-Valley II – Transportation, which closes the end of February;
The Civil War from early March to mid-May;
The Horse, Of Course – mid May to mid-July;
Pleasanton Art League – mid-July to mid-August;
Hollywood in Pleasanton – mid-August to late October;
A Haunted Museum – late October to the end of October;
Holiday Exhibit – early November to January 20, 2010.

Two superb programs include:
Lark in the Park, a historic journey to give you a different perspective on each of Pleasanton’s parks; Saturday events for the whole family.
Once Upon a Time – for pre-schoolers to third graders. Held at the museum in the early evening, this 90-minute program includes stories, games and a treat at the end of the session.

For further information about these events, exhibits, programs contact the museum at 462.2766 or visit its website: www.museumonmain.org
The museum is located at 603 Main Street, Pleasanton.

The park opened officially on Saturday October 25, 2008

The park opened officially on Saturday October 25, 2008

From the settlement of the Ohlone Indians, to the cattle-herding Spanish ranchos, to the turn-of-the-century Meadowlark Dairy, this seven-acre patch of land has a lot of history to tell. The park will do just that through special exhibits and interpretive programs developed by the city, the Amador Livermore Valley Historical Society, and the Museum on Main, and hands-on activities such as making adobe rocks, churning butter, and weaving baskets.

Peek into the past with a tour the 150-year-old adobe, a state historic landmark and one of only a few adobes still standing today, or recreations of the dairy-era milking barn and bunkhouse.  See a Native American bedrock mortar, which the Ohlone Indians used to crush acorns.  Or just wander the park’s path, which has been stamped with a historical timeline and winds through magnificent oaks and native plants, over a creek, and up a slight incline to an incredible view of the Tri-Valley.

Grand Opening activities included an Ohlone prayer in the four directions, performances of traditional dances and music, guided walking tours, crafts, games, a ceramic demonstration, and, of course, ice cream provided by Meadowlark Dairy.

Regular public access hours: Wednesday–Sunday, 10a.m.–4p.m., 3465 Old Foothill Rd., Pleasanton, (925) 931-53 http://www.museumonmain.org/alviso_adobe_community_park.html

PhotoOctober 29, 2008 7 pm

What is Halloween without a ghost or two? Plenty of ghosts will be ‘talking’ when well-known, local psychic, Irma Slage tells the stories of spirits she encountered while touring Pleasanton’s downtown businesses.

Her tales will include: the digging of the tunnels under Pleasanton; the founders of Pleasanton; the Chinese experience in the city; the first settlers; and, the native Indian experience. The famous murder of the prostitute in the Pleasanton Hotel may also have been solved! Irma has held séances at the Pleasanton Hotel and private residences. And written a book entitled Automatic Writing.

There is limited seating for this event slated at 7 p.m. on October 29 at the ‘haunted’ Pleasanton’s Museum on Main, 603 Main Street. Tickets are $20. Phone (925) 462.2766 to reserve space.

Click here to download the flyer

Watch the classic film Steamboat Bill Jr (1928) starring film legend Buster Keaton

Watch the classic film Steamboat Bill Jr starring film legend Buster Keaton

Where can you come hear live piano playing to the silent films just as occurred in the early days of films in the early 1900’s? At the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum located at 37395 Niles Blvd in Fremont, Ca. (510) – 494-1411. This is the theater once used by Charlie Chaplin!

Feature Film: Steamboat Bill Jr. with Buster Keaton
With a couple of classic short films.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Doors open at 7:00p.m.
Films start at 7:30p.m.
The event will feature the musical improvisational skills of piano/keyboardist/composer, Greg Pane.

Watch a clip: http://behindthemagic.com/btm/main/July_2001/SteamboatBillJr.mov