The vast hallways and ballrooms have been covered with banners, posters, and photographs, displaying the rich history of the performers, venues, promoters, and artists in San Francisco's music scene. The exhibition also includes the original backstage door to the Winterland Ballroom, which was the place to be back in the day.
Visitors will also get the chance to check out the Old Mint's vaults and counting rooms. Exciting!
The Honorable Mayor Gavin Newsom
Allese and Simon Baker
Liz Hume and Jay Jacobs
Aidin Vaziri, Chronicle Pop Music Critic
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
As Katherine York, the enthusiastic archivist for Wolfgang's Vault, offered a sneak peek at the ephemera from the Bill Graham collection that will be on display for a rare public exhibition at the Old Mint Building for just a few days this week, she couldn't help resorting to hyperbole.
"This is the history of San Francisco music," she said, making her way through the vast hallways and ballrooms where nearly every wall was adorned with large-scale vinyl banners reproducing seminal concert posters and photographs covering everything from the earliest days of the Fillmore through major performances by modern-day superstars such as Green Day and Metallica.
York said that for "Backstage Pass: A Sweeping History of Rock 'n' Roll at the Old Mint," which runs Wednesday through Sunday, her intention was to organize a show that would offer visitors a loose timeline of the city's storied rock 'n' roll past.
She pointed out posters for Led Zeppelin's first San Francisco appearance, opening for Country Joe and the Fish, and the Sex Pistols' last.
"It's not just the history of the performers," she said. "It's the history of the venues. It's the history of the promoters. It's the history of the artists."
People who come to the show also will get a special look inside the historic building, which has been open only for private events since shuttering its doors as a museum in 1994.
Even better, York said, the off-limits vaults downstairs have been opened and each one designated as a dedicated showcase for the Bay Area's musical heavyweights: the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Starship, Huey Lewis and the News, Booker T, Boz Scaggs, Carlos Santana and Tower of Power.
On the decision to display blown-up reproductions of the vintage works rather than the originals, York said the real things were simply too valuable to haul out for public display. "We would have to get everything insured and locked down," she said.
Still, she did manage to bring the actual backstage door from the Winterland Ballroom, the portal that countless rock icons - Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and the Doors, for starters - either stepped through or crashed into. How did she score that?
"It's priceless," York said.
Backstage Pass: A Sweeping History of Rock 'n' Roll at the Old Mint: Noon-5 p.m. Wed-Sun. Old Mint Building, 88 Fifth St., San Francisco. $10. (415) 537-1105.
This article appeared on page E - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle