Lavender Hill Mob
My name is Dave “Shuv” Chavoya. I moved from Fresno on June 29, 1969 to Sonoma, California. In the '60s I played with a band in Fresno called The Lavender Hill Mob.  The Lavender Hill Mob was managed by Mark Chenault (of The Cindermen) whose father was part owner of KYNO Radio Station in Fresno back then.  Mark booked us at many venues on the Sunset Strip, places like The Hullabaloo Club.  The Doors, Authur Lee and Love, Canned Heat, The Seeds and The Byrds all played that venue on a regular basis before making it.
Dave “Shuv” Chavoya
Dave Chavoya Recalls The Lavender Hill Mob

Mark also booked us in various towns in Utah, Grand Junction, Colorado, Glenn Wood Springs, Colorado and Aspen, Colorado.  We would play in Aspen for five weeks at a time. We also played The Fabulous Rose Garden owned by Joe Rose in the great Pismo Beach.

At one point in time we had a big following in Fresno.  We would sell out places like The Rainbow Ball Room and the old Marigold Ball Room.  We opened for the original Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Big Brother & The Holding Company, The Seeds and Sonny & Cher at Sellen Arena.

We played in Merced in 1965 with Big Brother before anyone outside of the Bay area had every heard of Janis Joplin. She lived up to her legend even back then.

Members of The Lavender Hill Mob were Dave Chavoya, harmonica; Steve Knapp, vocals and bass; Jon Kapp, vocals; the late Judy Knapp, vocals (she married Bill Bixley of The Cindermen; Dave Grazaini, drums; Denny Burt, guitar; and Gary Murphy, guitar.

I remember the great Melco (Mel Simas) well. The Lavender Hill Mob worked for him many times in a lot of small towns outside of Fresno.  He was always nice to us.

Some time in '67, The Lavender Hill Mob broke up and we formed a band called Shag.  Shag also worked for Melco. Members of Shag were Larry Farmer, keyboards; Dave Graziani, drums; Steve Knapp, bass; Denny Burt, guitar; and Dave Chavoya, vocals and harp.

This band got huge in the valley.  We played large concerts with The Doors, Blue Cheer, Santana, Canned Heat and The Dead. We played with the original Fleetwood Mac when Peter Green was in the band, and Buffalo Springfield when Neil Young and Stevens Still were members. We toured out of state and when we played the Fresno area we would call it The Valley Tour from Modesto to Bakersfield...either going North or South on 99.

When Shag was in Fresno, we played a lot of small venues but then we worked our way into the nightclub scene in Fresno, and then to the high schools up and down the valley.  They paid big money, sometimes $1,000 for three sets.  We then later played at the college and junior college scene in the valley.

We were making great money then, but we wanted to go for the big time so we decided to move to San Francisco--the Mecca of the music scene back then. We settled in Sonoma and that became our home base. We played all over the North Bay, East Bay, and in San Jose, and we even played The Fillmore West. We open for the Jefferson Airplane for a two-night gig.

The Bay area was hard on us.  There were about five thousand bands and about one thousand of them were monster bands.  We were all competing for twenty venues.  I got really down when I found out that some bands would pay the club owners so they could play the club and that was happening a lot.  We couldn’t compete with that.

After three years Shag broke up.  We were all tired of having no money and living on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. All other band members quit music. I was the only one that kept going (as a member of Black Ghost).

Dave Chavoya, 2008
I landed a job with The City of Sonoma but I kept on playing on weekends. I played Sonoma County blues festivals and the Marin County blues festivals. I played a ton of festivals in Northern California. I got to hang with my boyhood idol, the late Paul Butterfield, and with Charlie Musslewhite.  Charlie and I are still friends.  I’ve played with many bands over the years but now I play with a very traditional blues band called The Hell Hounds.
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