Jeff Blackburn has been a stalwart of the Santa Cruz music scene since the late ’60s, when he hitchhiked to the area from Bakersfield. After a few months as a Cabrillo student, the 19-year-old Blackburn, aka “Buck,” took off.
“I told my professors, ‘I just haven’t done enough livin’,” Blackburn says. “Every weekend was spent going up to the city to hear music, following the scene wherever it was happening. That’s about the time the Barn in Scotts Valley was getting started, Neal Cassady and the Pranksters were hanging around, the Avalon and the Fillmore were opening up, and a lot of friends that I had met on the road were in San Jose. Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Dead, the Doobie Brothers were all San Jose players, and they were all folk musicians, basically, before it evolved into the rock scene.”
Buck’s long list of friends and stories of San Francisco’s golden age are extensive. “Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe & The Fish, Chet Helms … I could go on. I’ve got a lot of stories,” he says. “But bottom line is, I took off and got a lot of experience—just like I’d planned.”
Buck would go on to tour with Moby Grape before spending the summer of ’77 in Santa Cruz, playing in the Ducks; a lineup that boasted Neil Young on guitar and “the best rhythm section in recorded history,” as he calls them—Bob Mosley on bass and Johnny Craviotto on drums. Buck’s been faithful to folk ever since, performing his own carefully crafted Americana originals with a rotating cast of local musicians. After more than 50 years playing music, Buck says he’s still learning, and is happy to call Santa Cruz home: “This place has a magical magnetism that always draws you back.”
Info: 7:30 p.m., June 29, Crow’s Nest, $3.