Grootna was an American psych-rock/soul band from Berkeley that released a self-titled album on Columbia in 1971.

Members: Kelly Bryan (bass), Slim Chance [Austin De Leon] (guitar, vocals), Greg Dewey [Dewey Dagreaze] (drums, vocals), Anna Rizzo (vocals), Vic Smith (guitar, vocals), Richard Sussman (piano)


Grootna blossomed from a shared housing situation between guitarist Slim Chance, bassist Vic Smith, and Vic’s then-girlfriend: singer Anna Rizzo. Smith and Rizzo hailed from the Masked Marauders, a comedy folk act that issued a 1969 eponymous album on self-press Deity.

During 1970, Smith did session work for singer/songwriter Alice Stuart and pop duo Janey & Dennis. The following year, he interacted with drummer Greg Dewey and ex-Elephant’s Memory pianist Richard Sussman on Hold On, It’s Coming, a solo album by Monterey Pop legend Country Joe McDonald.

Dewey originated in acid rockers Mad River, which released two albums on Capitol in 1968/69. In the interim, he did sessions with Don McLean and ex-Youngblood Jerry Corbitt. On the sessions for Corbitt’s second solo album, Dewey worked with bassist Kelly Bryan, a sideman of jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi. Bryan’s presence allowed Smith to focus on lead and bottleneck slide guitar.

The new six-piece named itself Grootna. (Groot, the Dutch world for “large,” is the name of a sentient tree-like alien first introduced by Marvel Comics in Tales to Astonish #13 in November 1960).

Grootna cut demos on the four-track recorder in the basement of the house owed by Jefferson Airplane on 2400 Fulton St., where they befriended Airplane’s former co-singer Marty Balin. Bay Area promoter Bill Graham took Grootna under his wing and secured them high-profile opening slots at the Fillmore East and West. As label interest bloomed, Clive Davis signed Grootna to Columbia Records.


  • Grootna (1971)


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