More rare recordings from 1960s Canterbury House shows have surfaced


When I came across a blog post recently that referenced rare Neil Young tapes from Canterbury House, I assumed it was an old story related to the Sugar Mountain – Live at Canterbury House 1968 album that came out 10 years ago.

But it turns out there might be another tape from the Nov. 8-10 stand Young had at Canterbury House's 330 Maynard St. location. (It's now at 721 E. Huron St.)

Sugar Mountain is made up of recordings from Nov. 9 and 10, so it's possible the Nov. 8 performance was found. But Young also played Canterbury House on Oct. 16, 1969 -- the final time he played the venue -- so perhaps it's that show.

Neil Young review in the Michigan Daily, 1969

The amazing kicker for The Michigan Daily's review Neil Young's Oct.. 16, 1969, concert at Canterbury House. Screengrab via the Bentley Library's Michigan Daily digital archives.

The Michigan History Project recently came into possession of numerous 7-inch reel-to-reel tapes of Canterbury shows, including a series of 1968 Joni Mitchell concerts as well as performances by Tim Buckley, Dave Van Ronk, Odetta, Doc Watson, David Ackles, Len Chandler, Spider John Koerner, The New Lost City Ramblers, and Jim Kweskin -- both solo and with The Jug Band. 

"We learned of the existence of the tapes about six years ago," said Alan Glenn, president of the Michigan History Project, on the organization's website. "They were in the possession of a private collector. Then they disappeared, and we were afraid they were gone for good. But a few weeks ago they resurfaced. Now our first priority will be to get them transferred to a digital format, then make sure that the original analog tapes are safely archived."

The tapes were captured through the Canterbury soundboard, and Chris Goosman, owner of Ann Arbor's Baseline Audio Labs, said on Michigan History Project's website, "It's an amazing collection with the rare combination of being well-recorded and also well-preserved, and that makes it even more historically significant."

The Michigan History Project is looking to connect with a record label to release the Canterbury tapes, all the while looking for more recordings from the venue, which held 150 concerts from 1965-71, featuring everyone from Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention and Sun Ra to Little Feat and Buddy Guy. Most of the performances were recorded, but it's a mystery as to where many of those tapes ended up.

Christopher Porter is a library technician and the editor of Pulp.

➥ "Neil Young: If you don't like him, well ..." [The Michigan Daily, Oct. 25, 1969; review of the Oct.. 16, 1969, concert at Canterbury House]
➥ "Neil Young: It's nice ..." [The Michigan Daily, Nov. 10, 1968; preview for the final night of his Canterbury House stand]
➥ "Michigan History Project Discovers Treasure-Trove of Historic Recordings"