2b1 began in 1995 but its roots are deep within the San Francisco Community via its promoter Boots Hughston. He began playing saxophone in the 60’s/70’s with many llegendary bands, including Santana, It’s a Beautiful Day, Marty Balin (form the Jefferson Starship), Nick Gravenities Blues Band, John Cipollina (from Quick Silver), Van Morrison, Bobby Blue Bland, The Hoo Doo Rhythm Devils, Gregg Allman as well as his own bands Aum and Womb. Boots promoted his first show with Lue Williams and the “Stray Cat” at California Hall in San Francisco. The concert included Janis Joplin and Big Brother. Boots recalls “It was more of an experience then a money maker, I never got paid, just had fun putting up posters and hanging out”.
In the 70’s/80’s Boots Hughston and his brother Lance started the annual “North Beach Photographic Art Fair” They continued its promotion for 14 years. It was a free outdoor event drawing 30,000 people over three days, featured 21 bands, and hundreds of crafts and photographers . This fair grew into the “North Beach Fair” which has become the premier outdoor event in San Francisco’s North Beach. Boots also served on the founding “Cinco De Mayo” festival committee as it’s production cordnator. Berkley’s “Greek Theater” with capacity of 8,000 was the festivals orignal home. Boots continued as production and stage manager for an additional 5 years. In the mid 70’s he worked with the Legendary “Family Dog” and Chet Helms as production manager for the “Tribal Stomps” in Berkley and Monterey. Both huge events which marked the change of an era.
During this period Boots met fellow promoter Doug Green from Humbolt County who had a dream of making a venue in the mountains. So Boots with his production crew from the city met Doug and his friends in Humbolt . With chain saws, bulldozers, no money and lots of experience literally carved out of the mountain the venue known as “Reggae on the River”, Frenchs Camp. Boots continued on with “Reggae on the River” as it’s production manager/stage manager for 14 years until promoting a Benefit, “The Tribute to Chet Helms”. The show was a huge success raising over $70,000 (all funds were donated to Chet Helms) and gained national attention. Boots Hughston is credited with single handedly awakening the legendary “Family Dog” a production company that helped to start the 60’s movement. Boots thought was to bring back the ideals of the 60’s. Breath life and spirituality into our morels, bring back creativity in the music, and above all to fight the strangle hold BGP (SFX and Clear Channel) has on the music world.
In October 1995 with blessings from Chet Helms (the original promoter of the Family Dog) opened their doors at Maritime Hall as “The Family Dog/Image of the Dog”. Boots Hughston and his sons Dusty and Boot as production and stage manager made ready for their date with destiny . The 3,000, + capacity, three floor venue had chosen a formidable adversary; no venue had survived longer than a year or two against BGP. Even the original Avalon ballroom from the 60’s only lasted a couple years. In the 30 years since then no venue large enough to compete has survived. BGP (Clear Channel) controls it all, the booking agents, venues, bands, ticketing, newspapers, magazines all owed something to BGP (Clear Channel), people feared their wrath. Industry professionals, took bets on how long Maritime would last. The San Francisco music scene was suffering from stagnation, and only the bands controlled by BGP (Clear Channel) were booked.
“Maritime Hall Productions” not only survived but also grew. Now 2b1 Productions had expanded into 3 cities and 5 venues. At their height they employed over 80 people in San Francisco. The San Francisco venue produced 721 concerts with 2,211 separate performances over a 6 year period. The Venue, “Palookaville” in Santa Cruz promoted over 607 shows with 1112 separate performances over a 4-year period. This is a testament to the will and persistence of Boots Hughston and his sons, Boot and Dusty. As well as production staff: Keith Oliver, Tracy Rolluf, Josh Porter, Brent Heckerman, Bonz and Mike Horn (Palookaville). It wasn’t easy surviving the obstacles that were lying before them:
1) BPG(Clear Channel) owned Bass Tickets (the largest ticketing service on the west coast). They refused to sell Maritime Hall, 2b1 Productions tickets – So 2b1 started their own ticketing which grew to 24 outlets (with no service charge). 2b1 is credited with being the first venue to use bar code tickets. Boots designed the software, that allowed them to print their own tickets and rig scanners to check ticket validity. Their system completely eliminated counterfeit tickets.
2) When Maritime opened, magazines and newspaper would not write reviews and blatantly dismissed their shows, BGP’s influence loomed over head. Some questinable mistakes in 2b1’s paid adds witch contained misprinted times and dates. To combat this bias 2b1 Productions focused on booking rare acts. Including the first performance by Lee “Scratch” Perry in the US in17 years. They put together a reunion show with original members of the Bad Brains. 2b1 worked with the “Dead” family to put on Phil Leshs’ “Philharmonic” and multiple other Phil Lesh and Friends concerts. They brought “Los Van Van” from Cuba for their first performance ever in the US. The media had to take notice. How could a venue other then BGP book such acts? The media’s eye’s were on them, they took notice. Then 2b1 Productions turned it loose. They booked James Brown, and country acts like Willie Nelson, Wailing Jennings, and Merl Haggard, Jazz acts like Grover Washington & Herby Hancock, huge techno shows like “The Chemical Brothers” and “Crystal Method”. Then, switched it up with Raves, “The Gathering”, with Martin O’Brien, Happy Kids, Goa Gill, and “Feel Good”. Then booked Hip-Hop and Rap acts like, Jay-Z, Eminem, Red Man, Wu-Tang and The Roots, the media ate it up, amazingly the miss prints in the adds stopped occurring and articles in the news and magazines appeared. 2b1 booked the acts that Clear Channel either couldn’t or wouldn’t book but should have.
3) To over come press bias and strengthen their advertising 2b1 put out concert posters and handbills. They mixed 60’s poster artists like Victor Mascoso, Stanley Mouse, Alton Kelley and Jim Phillips with many Hip –Hop graffiti artists like L.A.M, Log, Cory Smith, Doze, Feen and Boac. 2b1 is credited with making poster art once again a viable advertising medium. 2b1 put out 139 full size posters of their events in Santa Cruz and San Francisco. This is by far one of the most comprehensive collections of concert art in the industry equaling the Fillmore and Avalon Ballroom series of the 60’s.
4) Looking for additional ways to promote their shows Maritime Hall, 2b1 set up one of the first live internet broadcasts with the Jefferson Stareship (Cybership) . The Rolling Stones internet broad cast (the first) was one week earlier. They continued internet broadcasts of their concerts through 2001.
5) 2b1 also recorded most of their shows with the idea of promoting good will with the artists. They would give each band a copy of their performance on VHS and Dat allowing them to use the tapes for promotion. Their vaults are impressive containing over 2,000 separate performances recorded on 24 track digital audio and shot with 3 video cameras. This collection consists of over 100,000 tapes. Even when they couldn’t afford the crews to man the cameras Boots Hughston designed a remote camera system that rivaled many professional setups. One operator could control 3 cameras, the switch master and the audio 2 track from one position. This broke down many of the barriers between the acts and the venue.
6). BGP wanted 2b1 out, they were “the competition”. Clear Channels flagship, the Warfield was being hurt. BGP threatend the booking agents saying if they give 2b1 Productions any acts BGP would no longer take that agency’s biggest acts. Many of the major agents refused to sell them talent. As Boots Hughston put it “They can’t possibly book every act all the time” No matter how many acts cancelled because of threats, or pressure from the agents there was always an act or two willing to play. In fact many acts were tired of the heavy-handed tactics and glad to leave their control. 2b1 had become too strong, they now had ties with many acts, they paid more than BGP, they had recording, they had internet streaming - At last their was a true alternative to the BGP(Clear Channel) Machine.
7) 2b1 productions Maritime Hall made noise. As with many successful organizations their own success was their biggest weakness – The San Francisco Police Department wanted them out. The cops didn’t want “Those type of shows”. 2b1 Productions promoted , Hip-Hop, Rap, Raves, Metal, Punk and Reggae, and the cop’s set out to shut them down. They staked out Maritime with under cover cops for six months, finally yielding a bust, serving a minor. 2b1 Productions fought it in court and won on grounds of entrapment. Not content the police department tried again, they brought charges against 2b1’s permits, by falsifying 300 pages of incident reports. 2b1 fought back and won, by demanding police department duty reports they proved there had only been 12 incidents in 5 years and none which were serious. Still unsatisfied SFPD sent a battalion of police to the lower venue to brake up a rave, forcing the patrons into the street and checking their ID’s. Finding no one under age they wrote Mr. Hughston a ticket for letting a security guard smoke in the doorway to the venue. Again it was thrown out in court. The SFPD got pissed and raided a “Crash Worship” concert (performance art) they sited 5 people for smoking pot with an attendance of 2000 people. The next day the charges against the patrons were dropped, though they used this bust as leverage for the ABC to suspend the Maritimes liquor license. They were closed for a month. The SFPD tried again, this time with their after hours permit. Stating “The Police department has interrupted the After Hours legislation incorrectly for the last 20 years and that no after hours permits were to be allowed in SF” 2b1’s attorneys blew this one out of the water. The SFPD were willing to take every “After Hours” permit from every nightclub in San Francisco, just to get them, this is desperation. Maritime did the city a great service by stopping the police from these heavy-handed tactics.
If it wasn’t for Maritime Hall and 2b1 Productions, their wouldn’t be any Hip-Hop, Rap, Raves, Metal, Punk, or Performance Shows. The San Francisco Music scene would have been homogenized. We all owe a great debt to Maritime Hall and 2b1 Productions for their tenacity and will power. They survived for 6 years, San Francisco is a better place because of them, they are greatly loved and surely missed.
Maritime Hall, 2b1 Productions closed its doors Oct 25, 2001. The Dot COM boom convinced their landlord to raise their rent until it became economically unfeasible. SFPD failed – they were unable to close Maritime, but the economy did.
In the end the police Captain (Dennis Martell) responsible for harassing 2b1 Productions was demoted and sent to the SF airport.
2b1’s credited with:
1) Fighting the police
department on behalf of all after hour’s
permits in S.F. and winning.
2) Fighting for the right to have Raves and Hip-Hop shows in San Francisco.
3) Being the only large capacity venue that promoted Hip-Hop, Country, Rap, Raves, Metal, Punk , Reggae and Performance Art.
4) Promoting over 200 Benefits over 6 years.
5) Setting up its own ticketing with 24 outlets and no service charge.
6) The first to use bare code tickets to eliminate counterfits.
7) Keeping concert tickets fairly prices from $8 to $25.
8) Forcing BGP to book other acts outside of their norm.
9) Forcing BGP to pay more for their acts because of competition.
10) Recording over 2000 separate performances on 24 track audio, and Video.
11) Hosting one of the first live Internet performances streamed on the net.
12) Bringing back the “Family Dog” from the 60’s.
13) Putting out 139 collectable posters.
14) Becoming home to many outside promoters, providing a safe environment for Raves, Hip-Hop, and Performance art.
15) Responsible for helping break new talent, Papa Roach, Incubus, Vinyl, Ozomatli, String Cheese, Galactic, Dell
16) Being the first Venue in 30 years to survive longer that a few months in San Francisco against BGP (Clear Channel). 2b1 and its troops lasted for 6 years.
17) Being the first venue to incorporate audio and video recording into all concerts.
One of the remarkable things 2b1 did was to breakdown the myth of violence at Hip-Hop, Rap, Metal and Punk shows. Before Maritime, people believed these type of shows generated violence. Maritime did 721 shows over 6 years with attendances well over a 1,000,000 and had only 12 incidents. They were able to do this by showing respect to their audience and intelligence when handling patrons. This is a remarkable feat giving most clubs have 12 incidents a month.
2b1 productions, did many great things and will be remembered as a mover and shaker in the industry, their accomplishments will be felt in the San Francisco community for many years to come. 2b1 opened the doors for all types of music and showed it could be done. “You can have hip-hop shows with out violence, you can have Raves without overdoses, and you could have music with out constraints. 2b1 and Maritime Hall will be missed but not be forgotten.
2b1 Productions became 2b1 Multimedia Inc. They have released 40 CD’s and 6 DVD’s, many recorded at the Legendary Maritime Hall. You may contact them at