Ace of Cups, ’60s Female Band, Finally Releasing Debut

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Ace of Cups (Photo: Lisa Law; used with permission)

More than four decades after they disbanded, Ace of Cups, an all-female rock group from the 1960s San Francisco scene, will release their self-titled debut studio album on Nov. 9 via High Moon Records. Produced by Dan Shea, the record’s 21 tracks span 50 years of brilliant songwriting.

The album features guest appearances by Bob Weir (Grateful Dead, Dead & Company), Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady (Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna), Taj Mahal, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Peter Coyote and more.

From 1967 to 1972, Ace of Cups—Mary Gannon (bass), Marla Hunt (organ, piano), Denise Kaufman (guitar, harmonica), Mary Ellen Simpson (lead guitar) and Diane Vitalich (drums)—”were at the epicenter of the ‘60s cultural and social revolution,” according to a press release. “From the Acid Tests to the protests, from the free concerts in Golden Gate Park to the ballrooms of San Francisco, they shared stages with everyone from the Band to the Grateful Dead. Michael Bloomfield, Jerry Garcia and Buddy Miles were their fans and the Ace of Cups were chosen to open for Jimi Hendrix the week after his groundbreaking performance at the Monterey Pop Festival.

Opening for The Band

Hendrix was quoted in England’s Melody Maker as saying, “I heard some groovy sounds last time in the States, like this girl group, Ace of Cups, who write their own songs and the lead guitarist is hell, really great.”

“Despite eliciting some music industry interest for their exceptional songs, sublime harmonies and exuberant live performances, the Ace Of Cups never got the chance to make a record of their own,” says the press release.

Ace of Cups today (Photo from their Facebook page)

The release continues: “As the decades passed, the band members pursued other personal and creative endeavors, playing music both individually and collectively when opportunities arose. While performing at Wavy Gravy’s 75th birthday party and SEVA Foundation benefit, the Ace met with High Moon Records’ founder George Baer Wallace, who was there to talk to the band about releasing archival concert recordings. After hearing them play live, Wallace was so moved by their spirit and spark that he hatched a new plan on the spot, offering the Ace of Cups the opportunity to record their first ever studio album.

Pre-order the album here.

“With the enthusiastic support of their new record label, and the guidance of celebrated producer Dan Shea, four of the band’s original members began exploring their back catalog and writing new material. Right from the start the Ace understood the art of the song, and the band has kept that spirit true and close to everything they do. Ace of Cups blends pure rock, folk, blues and gospel influences with a pop sensibility and a garage band rush; all tinted by an intoxicating psychedelic sheen.”

Related: When Jefferson Airplane woke New York City up

Other guests contributing to the album are David Grisman, Pete Sears (Jefferson Airplane/Starship, Moonalice), Steve Kimock (Zero/RatDog) and Charlie Musselwhite.

A second volume, coming in 2019, includes 16 more songs from the band, as well as contributions from Jackson Browne, Wavy Gravy, Sheila E and the Escovedo family, Bakithi Kumalo (Paul Simon) and more.

Learn more about the Ace of Cups in this KQED piece.

Ace Of Cups Track List
Introduction: There’s a Record Being Made
Feel Good
Pretty Boy
Fantasy 1&4
We Can’t Go Back Again
The Well (feat. Bob Weir)
Taste of One
Mama’s Love
Feel It in the Air
Interlude: Transistor
Interlude: Baby from the Forest of Knolls
Life in Your Hands (feat. Taj Mahal)
As the Rain (feat. Peter Coyote)
Daydreamin’ (feat. Taj Mahal)
On the Road
Pepper in the Pot (feat. Buffy Sainte-Marie)
Interlude: Breath
Indian Summer
Grandma’s Hands
Medley (The Hermit / The Flame Still Burns / Gold & Green / Living In The Country)
Outroduction: It’s Always Safe…

Watch Ace of Cups perform live in 1968

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