60's San Francisco music scene stalwarts The Ace of Cups have signed a record deal and are planning to hit the road for the first time – some 50 years after their first attempt. The all-girl band was part of the SF music scene in the ’60s, playing alongside acts like the Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead and Big Brother & The Holding Company, and venues like Bill Graham's Fillmore.
However, as the other acts went on to superstardom, the members of The Ace of Cups had children and got “regular jobs,” and their musical careers faded away.
Now, in their 70s, band members Denise Kaufman, Mary Gannon, Mary Ellen Simpson, and Diane Vitalich are signed to High Moon Records, have released some of their old material, and are ready to hit the road. Their saga was featured on CBS News’s This Morning:
“Well first of all we didn’t get a record deal at that time and that was sort of the next step for us,” Denise Kaufman told CBS News correspondent John Blackstone. “If you didn’t record …. you never got a fan base farther away than your local situation, and so then you didn’t really get to tour. So all of those things that would have been part of the next step never really happened for us.”
The members instead started careers as a substance abuse counselor, a teacher, an EMT, among other ventures.
“But now, of course, we’ve been through a lot: motherhood and all, raising teenagers. So the songs are a little bit more biting. … Like I’m not going to sing about, ‘Why did you leave me babe, I’m over here in a bar waiting by myself’, ’cause I’m not doing that and those days are over. It’s OK. I don’t want to do that anymore,” Simpson said. “But it’s funny when you’re at this age in your career like say if we were in our 20s. I always think it’s a blessing that we didn’t get a recording contract. I don’t think I’d be here now. … I would do anything then that you know that was maybe destructive or whatever. Now that I’m 75 it’s like I can see how things are,” Mary said.
The Ace of Cups were “discovered” at a birthday celebration for Summer of Love figure Wavy Gravy a few years ago. A producer for High Moon Records was in the audience and got them to finally record the album that never was.
“I didn’t ever think that would really happen that the music that we had written together would actually find its way to the world. My thought was that we would kind of treasure it but it’d be like having little children that never got to go out, you know?” Vitalich told CBS.
The band is planning on touring next year.