From this week's issue of SF Weekly:
The sunny, halcyon days of the 1960s have been shoved down our collective throats with every Woodstock anniversary and baby boomer film reveling in the music of the times. In the handwritten notes by California musician Bobby BeauSoleil that accompany Adventures in Experimental Electronic Orchestra from the San Francisco Psychedelic Underground, a hefty gatefold double LP released this month from BeauSoleil's first group, the Orkustra, we read part of his tale. While his story starts out as innocently and starry-eyed as any of the hippie generation, it winds up entangled with the Manson Family by decade's end. BeauSoleil's trajectory veers into the sordid, shadowy realm that parallels that same conflicted era.
Born Robert Kenneth BeauSoleil in Santa Barbara, BeauSoleil packed his bags in 1965 for San Francisco and found himself at the intersection of Haight and Ashbury. He was just down the street from where the Grateful Dead were holed up, loosening the knots on folk and blues and letting in more expansive jazzy improvisations. BeauSoleil performed a similar act with his own muse, moving beyond rock into weirder fields of play, drawing on Indian classical music, the works of John Coltrane, and avant-garde electronic fare. Trawling the basement of a music shop, BeauSoleil unearthed instruments like the Greek bouzouki and set about amplifying it onstage. A few like-minded travelers joined him, and while his original vision was for an “electric chamber orchestra,” the group soon pared down to five members and the unmodified name of the Orkustra. They began to share stages with the Grateful Dead, the Charlatans, and Big Brother and the Holding Company.
This two-album set culls its music from rehearsal tapes and concerts performed during the Orkustra's brief existence. While the distance of four decades casts a murkiness over the proceedings, the interplay among its participants still entrances.
Read the full story about BeauSoleil's music, Manson connection, and the murder he committed here.