In This Episode

Denise Kaufman (a.k.a. Mary Microgram) is an original Merry Prankster and co-founder of 1960’s psychedelic rock band Ace of Cups.

Cups was one of the first all female rock bands who wrote and performed their own music in the United States. They earned great success in the 1960s San Francisco music scene, playing with The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Quick Silver Messenger, and Janis Joplin & The Holding Company to name a few. 

Jimi Hendrix praised Cups in the media. Yet, they never signed a record deal, and after five years together, the players went their separate ways on good terms. 

After almost 50 years, the band reformed to record an astounding 24 music tracks for their first studio album titled Ace of Cups.  Denise Kaufman’s bandmates include: Mary Gannon (bass), Marla Hunt (organ, piano), Mary Ellen Simpson (lead guitar), and Diane Vitalich (drums).

Band co-founder Denise Kaufman proves that not all who wander are lost— they may just be taking an unconventional path! She’s Ace of Cups harmonica-playing singer-songwriter, guitarist/bassist, true life Merry Prankster, and the yogi whom the stars call.

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In this episode, Denise Kaufman covers:

  • How her Merry Prankster acid days led to a hospital stay that sparked the formation of Ace of Cups
  • The surprise revival of the band’s psychedelic sound 50 years later
  • Swapping musical ideas with her yoga client named Madonna (yes, THAT Madonna)
  • Honoring friends from the Haight-Ashbury music scene

Let’s take a “Feel Good” trip with Denise Kaufman!

Show Notes


Host: Thea Wood
Production: Podcast Engineers
Voiceover: Cathryn Wood

Feature Photo: Lisa Law (young Denise)

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Disclaimer: Opinions of show guests are not necessarily those of Herizon Music Foundation, Inc. (a.k.a. Backstage Chats Foundation) or its employees, volunteers, officers/directors, or contractors.

Denise Kaufman & Ace of Cups Links

Web site (order vinyl or CD): Ace of Cups
Buy Cups music on iTunes

Listen to Ace of Cups on Spotify

“Feel Good” from Ace of Cups self-titled album

“Simplicity” recorded in San Francisco, 1968, from the documentary West Pole. *Note: This song was written prior to Led Zeppelin penning “Stairway to Heaven” in 1970. The studio version appears on their self-titled album. 

Ace of Cups “The Well” featuring Bob Weir from their self-titled album.

Bill Withers’ “Grandma’s Hands” cover from Ace of Cups self-titled album.

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