Remembering the Barn in Scotts Valley

Believe it or not, the very epicenter of the 1960s counterculture in Santa Cruz County was, for a while, a large drafty barn on the outskirts of Scotts Valley. In the mid 1960s, the Barn, a long-time community center for what was then a rural small town on the edge of the Santa Cruz Mountains, was converted into a coffeehouse, and then into a kind of hippie night spot where big-name musicians — Janis Joplin, for one — would perform amidst psychedelic light shows.

The Barn is pertinent now, because the impresario of the place, Leon Tabory, recently died. His memorial is slated for Nov. 15, and we’re putting together a piece remembering the heyday of the Barn, which was a center of heated controversy in Scotts Valley. The city elders took a dim view of often-addled hippies flowing into their quiet little town every weekend. And Tabory spent months fighting efforts to shut him down.

If you have any stories about the Barn or Leon Tabory, let me know.

6 thoughts on “Remembering the Barn in Scotts Valley

  1. Hmmm . . . the counter-culture and the hippies and drugs were very “inspirational.” I recall taking some bad acid at college in the 70’s and suffering a horrible breakdown, along with flashbacks/panic attacks that lasted for years. I am lucky to be alive today.

  2. FEAR of HIPPIES was used to raid school funds to create a police dept.of Scottts Valleys own.
    Now full time positions drain $ from education and other useful things that enhance life.

    Did Crime and drug use increase directly with funding SVPD, and the DARE program?

    Clean your own house before throwing rocks at county wages.

  3. Well, I been in Santa Cruz for 58 years. If you think it was hard for those hippies to get around in SV in them times, it was flat impossible for a black to get into & out of town without getting followed, harassed and/or arrested. We knew the law was to not be seen in the area of SV, Pasatiempo, or anywhere up in the valley after dark.
    I never got to the Barn, but I was lucky enough to get to one of his “hearings” at the old courthouse above the (now) Vet’s Hall downtown, next to the Post Office.
    That’s when I fell in love with Leon.
    I was in High School. Some girls said, “Let’s cut class & go downtown, smoke weed & dally.” (whatever). They took me to the hearing.
    I remember Leon on the stand. The DA was trying to grill bro, He was like, “Did you of did you not continue, without a permit, to provide light shows within your establishment, in violation of blah blaah blaaah?” & Leon goes, “I think it has to do with what you mean by a “light show”: There are lights on in this room, at this time (waving & pointing to the lights, etc.) So, you are providing a light show in here; do you have a permit?”
    The DA was sputtering & objecting, all red in the face & flustered. We were waving, flashing “peace” (2-fingers up = I smoke weed – do you?) signs and cheering, until the judge admonished us to stop & come to order or face the consequences. As we was high & delinquent, we followed suit as best we could, & left soon.
    Leon stood right up to the DA. There never appeared to be an ounce of fear in him or anywhere near him, even in light of the situation.
    I always admired him for that. I still do.
    He was a cheeky little guy. But with class.
    I was so thrilled, jazzed, flat-out honored to be around him. I could & did talk with Leon about anything & everything. I dumped all my problems on him so many times; I sounded off on him about every petty, BS or off-hand imbecilic machination I could think of, just to see if I could get a rise out of him. When I had his ear, I tried to use it the best I could, even give it a twist, just to see him smile.
    In classes and in the cafeteria or the computer lab at Cabrillo (he lived there; he helped me get my first email account), we would hang around the printer and begin & develop extraneous conversations that were hilarious, or drastically politically incorrect, until out laughter became a distraction and/or obstruction to the goings-on. The teacher or whoever would ask us if we would like to share it with everyone? I don’t recall that we ever did, but we would point & try to blame the “problem” on each other, until we both must have looked like immature adolescent schoolkids, giggling uncontrollably, to tears.
    We (our group) ROCKED in the computer hardware class.
    Leon made it very clear that we wanted to be there for me and I used him for every shred of spiritual interest or development I could. We met at various times at various places, mostly restaurants, where we would have long talks. He always bade me feel free to discus my (current) life-affairs. I held nothing back; I poured out my soul to Leon Tabory. More than once.
    & Peter Demma, too.
    I loved to play with Leon, with his classy ass.
    He knew he was always fair game, as was I.
    I could suck right up to him all friendly like, get close as his breath; then slowly and deliberately press the guy, get in his space, be right in the way and/or overly inquisitive or just a tad arrogant.
    He would stop, get quiet, see through it & bust me every time (with love).
    Then he paid for the food.
    I had the pleasure & honor of being his friend & seeing him at (some of) his worst & at his best. We found ourselves in strange places at strange hours. In his wisdom, he saw that he had to save his own life & set the example of responsibility; he got clean & sober.
    He was always truthful & giving, like a father & a brother, a friend. He tried to help me find correction when I was astray. But he didn’t preach.
    He was a man for all occasions.
    Gracious, kind, gentle, wise.
    He saved my life.
    fuck, I can’t believe he passed.

    Leon has left the building.
    But his voice still rings & echoes thru the halls.
    & his laughter

  4. I spent a good part of my youth at the Barn in Scotts Valley, and Leon was always there, and NEVER ignored anyone. He was kind and more than friendly when you consider that he was also running the business. I met Ken Keasey and spent nearly an hour with Janis Joplin there, and had a band (The Wakefield Loop) which always wanted to play the Barn but never seemed to get the opportunity. I have been communicating with Corry Arnold who is one fine investigative reporter who has a lot of facts about local south bay bands and that particular period of time, and I suspect that The Barn will play a big part in Corry’s final story. I think he is considering a book. Check out his initial blog.

    Leon, thanks for adding to that magical time period, you will be remembered and missed.


  5. i made the big angels up stairs with big fiberglass wings and the big sign out front of fiberglass to match the size of the shell gas station out front as well as the painted walls in ocean with seaweed tones Id just gotten my MFA in painted sculpture in Mexico . Leon was a brave and adventurous soul, we went to one of those meeting to close the barn and the church group near by had complained of their parking lot being filled with beer cans and condoms and I had to reply Your honor ,hippies dont use comdoms at that time in the 60s and my father told me Joe you better leave town before they tar and feather you so I did and went to india and became the painter at the maharishe comune while the beetles and mike love were there then on to london where I did the projections and photos for the play called Vagina Rex at their theatre Arts Lab. ect. still around give me a email jysowski have plans for winter in bali chang Mei and the osho comune in India Ma padma and I shared a stuudio and painted there she did the Ohsho tarot deck I love india as baba Hanuman Das . see you on the rd contact jlysowski@yahoo,com

  6. In 1966 I had two friends, Chris and Ralph, who used to ride around in my 1960 Valiant and while I played my car horn, they would play a guitar and a trumpet. We would do this at red lights and have lots of people staring at us. Then Ralph arranged a gig for us to play at the Barn. Ralph must have known Leon. We were there one day when either Country Joe and the Fish or the New Delhi River Band were late so instead of being in the lower level we were moved up to the main room. I did not consider myself a musician, yet here I was to be on stage as the vocalist. Wow, I felt like an impostor, however I had to go along with it, and do my best, so I just spoke spontaneously about life. In essence I rapped while Chris and Ralph played music. I remember saying something like, “We are all here now and before we got here, we were there and then later to be again we are now, and again we will be in the future that then becomes the now and moves to the past, here and now in the dream of reality, then and now again, before we did not know how in the eternal now we happen then, when and before, and later in time we are there and three, we are free, we are you and I am me. We are all together now here you are me and I am you, like the wild animals we are and again will be when it is over once more and again and again.” We were accepted that evening. Years later when I heard the Beatles, “I Am the Walrus.” I felt that I had expressed a similar flow of ideas. Among those whom I met at the Barn was a character who would often be flipping a hammer as he stood engaging several people simultaneously in different conversations like a chess master playing several games at once. He was also older than most who were there. I wondered who he was. I should have been more inquisitive. Later I learned he was Neal Cassidy, the man whom Jack Kerouac wrote about in “On the Road” and who was also the main driver of Ken Kesey’s Magical Bus. I knew him because he was such a character however, I did not know of his history when I knew and spoke with him. I also knew one of the light show operators who continued doing light shows for years after. Ron Boise had incredible sculptures at the barn, and someone perhaps, Ron Boise, or another artist had painted cellular structures on the walls that really had extra depth when you were high. We played music or for my part, noise, as the percussionist several times. One time a relative of Ken Kesey’s, cousin or nephew, rented and left for our use a drum set and we used it in the lower level. Unfortunately we were too free in allowing our audience to use the drums when we took a break. The drums were broken and someone also pounded hard objects on a bar surface marking it up. A few days later Ralph informed me that I was blamed for the damage and we had been fired from the Barn. I will never forget the Barn it was a great place and clearly Leon was also a great person and I wish I had gotten to know him better.

Leave a Reply to Denny Magic Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s