Music History

A New Family Dog Concert Poster Exhibit Tells the Story of a Legendary Denver Venue

The Family Dog opened in September 1967 and closed just a year later. In that short span, the venue was home to plenty of epic experiences. Janis Joplin started off the Family Dog's time in Denver with the band Big Brother. The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, and Van Morrison also played there.

San Francisco psychedelic artists like Rick Griffin, Victor Moscoso, Stanley Mouse, Alton Kelley and Bob Schnepf created the Family Dog concert posters, and all sixteen are on display at Byers-Evans House Museum in an exhibit that opens on February 6. Photographs of musical artists of the time (mostly taken by photographer Lisa Law) are also part of the display.

See also: The Twelve Best Poster Designers in Denver

Jillian Allison, Assistant Director for the show, gave Westword a preview. "It's an exciting show because it brings out people who had this experience right here in Denver," said Allison. "So many people have already walked through and told their stories."

She pointed to a poster that is totally nonsensical. "We've spent hours trying to decipher it. All the way down it on the poster it shows it's for Chuck Berry, of all people, and a credit for who was doing the light show."

During this era, concerts had liquid light shows, and most of the shows were advertised as a five-hour dance instead of a concert. They were also all-ages events where no liquor was served.

There were a lot of rumors of police planting drugs on the bands, says Allison. Canned Heat, for example, was arrested for having marijuana, and that band wrote a song called "My Crime" about its time in Denver.

The venue's history is displayed in the exhibit. There is an Otis Redding poster for a show that never happened -- the singer died before the concert, and the venue was kept dark for that weekend.

The exhibit, which is free, will be open until May 10. Next month's First Friday celebration on March 6 will feature a talk by professor Scott B. Montgomery, who curated the show.

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Gina Tron
Contact: Gina Tron

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