Red Dog Saloon (Virginia City, Nevada)

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Red Dog Saloon (right) on Main Street in Virginia City

The Red Dog Saloon is a bar and live music venue located in the isolated, old-time mining town of Virginia City, Nevada which played an important role in the history of the psychedelic music scene.

Folk music enthusiast Mark Unobsky bought the old Henry Comstock house in Virginia City and decided to open a folk club together with Chandler A. Laughlin III (1937-2012), a one-time folk club owner, and Don Works in the early 1960s.

In April 1963, Chandler established a kind of family identity among approximately fifty people who attended the traditional, all-night Native American peyote ceremony. This ceremony combined a psychedelic experience with traditional Native American spiritual values[citation needed]; these people went on to sponsor a new genre of musical expression at the venue.[1]

During the summer of 1965, Laughlin (better known in media as Travus T. Hipp, a disc jockey and news commentator,[2][3][4][5]) recruited much of the original talent that led to a mix of traditional folk music and psychedelic rock.[1] He and his friends created what became known as "The Red Dog Experience," featuring previously unknown musical acts — Big Brother and the Holding Company, The Charlatans, The Wildflower and others — who played in the refurbished saloon during 1965 - 66. There was no clear delineation between "performers" and "audience" in "The Red Dog Experience," during which music, psychedelic experimentation and Bill Ham's first primitive light shows combined to create a new sense of community. Laughlin and George Hunter of the Charlatans were termed "proto-hippies", with their long hair, boots and clothing inspired by the aesthetic of Indigenous peoples.[1][6]

The poster for the first six-week stint of performances from The Charlatans beginning in June 1965 is a rare psychedelic poster. It is known as "The Seed".[7]

LSD manufacturer Owsley Stanley lived in Berkeley during 1965 and provided much of the LSD that became a part of the "Red Dog Experience". At the saloon, The Charlatans were the first psychedelic rock band to play live on LSD.[8]

Today the venue features Open Mic on Wednesday evenings and live performances on the weekends.


  1. ^ a b c Works, Mary (Director) (2005). Rockin' At the Red Dog: The Dawn of Psychedelic Rock (DVD). Monterey Video.
  2. ^ The Santa Cruz Patch "controversial newsman Travis T. Hipp" ....was the man who gave "All The News You Never Knew You Needed To Know ...Until Now."
  3. ^ The Santa Cruz Sentinel, Travus T Hipp "was an independent-minded old cuss who was the very picture of the great American freethinker and hellraiser that always seemed to find a hospitable habitat in the West. For decades, he has contributed free-wheeling sometimes caustic opinions on the maddening state of the human animal to radio stations all over California and Nevada, but KPIG remained...."
  4. ^ "His longtime associates credit him with originating the word "hippy" —> "According to Duke Stroud, a member of the original improv group The Committee, the term 'hippy' evolved from fans of Travus T. Hipp,"" Retrieved Jan 3, 2014.
  5. ^ Virginia City News, "He was also one of the founding partiers at the original Red Dog Saloon in the mid-'60s with his wife, Lynn Hughes, and Don and Roz Works. "Most of what you heard about the Red Dog was not only true, it was understated," he told the Appeal. "We had six women in period costume, and the theory of the Red Dog was, when your feet hit the floor in the morning, you were in a B Western movie,..." Retrieved Jan 3, 2014
  6. ^ "Chandler Laughlin quotes". Retrieved 6 June 2011.
  7. ^ ""The Seed," The Charlatans; Red Dog Saloon | Denver Art Museum". Retrieved 2022-06-06.
  8. ^ Lau, Andrew (2005-12-01). "The Red Dog Saloon And The Amazing Charlatans". Perfect Sound Forever. Retrieved 2007-09-01.

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