"If you tell the Truth, you don't have to remember anything"
-Mark Twain
"You realize, of course, that everything I say is horseshit." -Kurt Vonnegut

Saturday, June 28, 2014

CARDS WERE ALL THE SAME

On this date in 1969, The Grateful Dead played a show in Santa Rosa, California. A soundboard copy of the show can be found HERE.
This is one of those shows where the band truly takes an idea and makes a song out of it. A young kid intros the band as they launch into the short lived cover of "Slewfoot." Right away you'll notice that there is one guitar because Garcia is playing his Pedal Steel guitar. He came across the Petal Steel on your when the bus made a pit stop. The instrument was derived from the dobro, which is related to the guitar. Immediately Garcia had an idea of how to play this instrument and how the strings related to each other and the effects of petals below. He became so good that he was able to use his abilities as a barding chip with Crosby, Stills and Nash. He offered to play Pedal Steel on "Teach Your Children" if they would teach the Dead how to better harmonize. They did this for both "Workingman's Dead" and "American Beauty." Both bands helped each other form some of their most iconic sounds and songs
The song "Slewfoot" was a traditional song that Bobby developed out an arrangement that Doc Watson originally did. Later in 1973, Bobby and the New Riders played on an album "Slewfoot" by David Rea. Ironically that album didn't feature the song "Slewfoot."
The fifth ever "Mama Tried" comes next, with Jerry staying on the Pedal Steel. He moves to electric for "high Time" before he switches to acoustic guitar for "Dupree's." Jerry bounces back to electric for the third ever "Casey Jones." You'll notice that the trademark guitar rift that starts the song is not part of the song. Instead there is a "Ramble on Rose" type rift that they use to link the chorus to verse. Garcia solos over this but with no turn in the music, the solo just kind of fades before he starts singing the verse.
Then we get the screwball of the set, the fifth ever "Dire Wolf." For which Jerry moves back on to Pedal Steel and Bobby takes vocals, the only time he does as a member of the Grateful Dead.
The "Dark Star" as always serves as the launching pad of exploration. Between the verses, Bobby starts a rhythm that Jerry picks up on and the drummers. The band builds the jam up and up until it explodes and quietness takes over. Then after the second verse there is some nicely played interchange between Jerry and Bobby until "St Stephen" is started. Jerry starts off the song with an electric solo, even though the beat that they established is a little mellow for the song. After the "One man gathers what another man spills" line the band gets real quite. The audience is cheering and laughing the pause until the band slams the E to A change that brings them into the "William Tell" bridge.
The band starts the "Eleven" then decides they do not want to play it and it disintegrates to Bobby strumming. Jerry jumps back onto the Pedal Steel for the country standard "Green Green Grass of Home." Jerry really wanted to show off his musical ability on this night and the only thing missing was his banjo.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I Turn And Look Around

Some shows are overlooked in the Grateful Dead catalog but there are special attributes that make it endearing to a certain group of fans. The New Yorker piece a few years ago that mentioned this. Cornell '77 gets its due from everyone but to him the Fox '80's "Scarlet/Fire," was the be all end all for him and his friends. Their only rule, never stop the tape during the "Scarlet/Fire." Well this show doesn't have a "Scarlet/Fire" or any rules among my circle of friends but this date in 1976, I have vivid memories of my cassette days. 
I only had the first set of this show. I remember my artwork on the tape. There was the DEAD, without any of the vertical lines, then Boston and 6/10/76 I. It was all black marker on the Maxell Gold cover. It was the second Dead tape that I had gotten and since it was the better quality it got played a lot more than the other one. To me at the time the set was perfect, even though it included the "Tuning" between songs. Sometimes the tuning was longer than the songs, this digital version has that all cut out, but I would hold the FF and Play button down sometimes to seek forward to the next song. It may have been another night for the band in Boston but to me it was special, because it was my connection to the Grateful Dead. Nowadays when I hear someone on PT or Twitter say something like "Summer 86 sucked," I don't debate, I just ignore. For some lucky fans, this was their first connection to the Grateful Dead and no matter how or when that connection should be celebrated not denigrated. 
It was about 10 years ago that I threw out my collection of 1000+ tapes. About six months later I discovered archive.org and this was one of the shows that I went searching for. This was the first time that I got to listen to this show and it was the first time I heard the second set of this show. The first set and the marvelous "Mission in the Rain" was an old hat but the second set was a strange universe. There is the spectacular "Help/Slip/Franks," the pulsing "Let It Grow," and the disco "Dancin'," which is pieced together out of the "Playin'." Yes there was much more to this show than the "Sugaree," "Music Never Stopped," and brilliant "Cassidy." 
Now the night beforehand is an official release as "Road Trips Vol 4, No 5" and features the first "St Stephen" in almost five years. Then next two nights feature the fourth and fifth time the Grateful Dead split up "Sugar Mags" and "Sunshine Daydream," but this show features the second of five "Mission in the Rain." A song that because of this show is a favorite of mine and will be my choice for the Dead Covers Project when I get my space together. Today is GD History is going to mainly focus on 1973 or the CalExpo 1990 but this show does it for me. It was the door that opened up to begin my love of the Grateful Dead. Enjoy and download the SBD of the show HERE and HERE
I: Promised, Sugaree, Cassidy, TLEO, Music, BE Woman, Lazy Lightning, Supplications, Row Jimmy, Big River, Mission, LL Rain, Might as Well
II: Samson, Help, Slip, Franks, Let It Grow, Friend, Playin', Dancin', US Blues

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

But I Know It Comes Out Right

Today is the anniversary of the longest "Playin' in the Band" ever played by the Grateful Dead. At 46+ minutes it is the longest song the Grateful Dead ever played, just 3 minutes longer than the Rotterdam "Dark Star." The show is also known as the final appearance of "Money Money," not really but true nonetheless. Download the Aud of the show HERE, and I'm gonna try a writing exercise by turning on the "Playin'" and writing for the next forty-six minutes.
Bobby comes out flying. Sing what has usurped the second song he brought to the band with a furry and gusto. Leading the band into the Main Ten march as Donna roar is a on key. Keith harmonizes with Jerry as Bobby starts to lead them off the abyss that Keith is no stranger to. Phil checks in, taking bits and pieces and apart and Jerry mask the guitar with the wah-wah. A little bit of happiness. A little part of danger. Crash it down Billy. More symbols with the steady beat. The marathon is set at a rapid pace. It can't slow down now, because things are just getting started. Is there an electric piano that has started to stir. The music has started to take all directions. It ascends, it sets and still the sun burns bright, Billy is ready the key. Holding it together in this Herculaneum afford to the melting point. Jerry is still meandering while Phil is working with and against him. Bobby does know which way the race is going quick. Lead by following. There is muddling and need to build and peak. I want it louder if it turns into a shuffle. The birds whale. The clouds sigh and there is Bobby shaking of the craziness. There is still a rhythm that has to be challenged. We see what you've done and now we have exhausted it. There is room to stretch out. Someone catch your breath. The air seems heavy like there is some mystery to it. Phil beats his way up. Jerry's whole goal is to try and loss them all in his off beat chords. No one is fooled by his bluff. They stay steady ahead. One group under a crushing wall of sound. The echoes can carry the weight of troubles and the weight of gold is the same. Some distance cry and sinking bridge to reality. Who needs it anyway? We are free there's no course. No path. Reckoned it merged a long time ago. Silky smooth. Is there any meaning to this at all? We are about to find that building we can make do with the directional mishaps that may have occurred. There is still a great pace. We are still soldiering on. There might be a time that we look. Across the horizon. The plane is still the mountain behind. Can this be the moment of China or Comes a Time. Or will the smoldering calderon be mix by the witches brew. Is there more mean to the electric keys? There might need to be a sort of reconciliation because these guys are good. Not so neat. Practically clean. Can we keep going and see. Jerry shooting venom from his lips. There's no poison to slow him down. If we ever come back here again. If there is ever the need. We have to brace ourselves for the things we will see and the ex pieces we have fault. In time. Jerry gets his revolution. Where everything is alright. And moments are sparing. And the night is not as young as you'd think. There is a light. Some might see it glow. It might not be full Philed. There is a beautiful moment. Might want to revisit that with some of my friends. Phil stumbled onto it. It's a way back. Out of this dense forest. There is music is the quite spaces. There is always movement out. This is a brilliant phrase. It's ringing on. Like it's trying to tell us something of a long forgotten prayer. I know that there is meaning to it. Because it spoke to me before. Like a dirty shaman who knows the way to the church but not the way to salvation. There needs to be convictions. Keith. Speaks it first. But the rest were just waiting to see who could call Donna to knock it dead with a shout from the heavens. Some where glass houses are tumbling. Some where we are seeing the path. Found the light. Some where we are boogieing in our socks. Some where there is a two step close. Some where we found an end. 
I: Uncle, BE Woman, BIODTL, Deal, Mexicali, Roses, Race is On, Scarlet, El Paso, Row Jimmy, Money Money, Ship, WRS, Let It Grow, China Doll
II: Playin', US Blues, Big River, Stella, Around, Eyes, Wharf Rat, Sugar Mags E: JBG

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Other Cornell Show

Today is the showiversary of the third and final show at Cornell's Barton Hall. By this time the leaked Betty Board of Cornell '77 was already making the rounds around DeadHead circles. Although the 5/8 anniversary wasn't quite the hippie holiday that it is now, DeadHeads had great respect for this fabled gig.
The Dead first returned to the scene of the crime almost exactly three years to the day on 5/7/80. They played a spirited show, one that was tapped to be used as part of Road Trips vol 3 no 4, but this show is fantastic representative of the bands tight jams in 1981. Download the SBD of the other Cornell show HERE and HERE.
"Your eyes tell more than you mean them too," Bobby sing and so does this first set. A long long crazy first set is set up by this "Stranger." The "Friend" that comes next features a extensive and enjoyable from Brent Mydland like the "Stranger." By now Brent had really found his niche in the band and was give encouragement to play those keys to his heart's desire. The "Althea" starts off slowly but gets up to speed thanks to Bobby's slide playing on the tune, which he segues into the blues number "CC Rider." The band grooves before the next two songs, like they are warming up their Bug before throwing it into gear. And it's a goo thing because they burn rubber through "Brown-Eyed Woman" and "Passenger." A beautiful "High Time" eases the mood before the double set closer of "Let It Grow" into "Don't Ease" closes out the set. I'm a big fan of 1976 "Let It Grow," with the drum solo in thee middle but this one is up there as one the best. Just a beautiful played version, real driving like it is coming down from the voice of god. 
Now I am willing to say that this is a better version of "Shakedown Street," then the "best one" that ended up on the "So Many Roads" box set. I'm not trying to take anything away from the Halloween '84 version but there is a lot of funk and wonderful entwining vocals on this "Shakedown." The reason it probably wasn't tapped because it segues into "Bertha." This is the first "Shakedown/Bertha" since 5/7/80, which was the last time at Barton Hall. An excellent "Sailor/Saint" provides the slipper slope as the band plays the first of two jams in the set, "Spanish Jam." This is the second "Spanish jam" since 1976. "Truckin'" bounces out of "Space," and leads the band to the second "Nobody's Fault jam" since 1979. Slowly and smoothly they moved into a moving "Stella Blue." Jerry gives it his all but then steps up a notch as he shreds the solo at the end of the song. Twinkling the notes and the band moves the tempo and it briefly sounds like it might go into "Sugar Mags," but instead rocks into "Going Down the Road." Jerry is on fire as he kicks his guitar into overdrive for "Going where the climate suits my cloths." The instrumental code turns into the set closer of "One More Saturday Night." With the "Uncle John's" encore, Barton Hall has done it again. Three spectacular shows played inside its walls "built of cannonballs."
I: Stranger, FOTD, Uncle, Big River, Althea, CC Rider, BE Woman, Passenger, High Time, Let It Grow, Don't Ease
II: Shakedown, Bertha, Lost Sailor, Saint, Spanish Jam, Drums, Space, Truckin', Nobody Jam, Stella Blue, GDTRFB, OMSN E: Uncle John's

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Rock Your Baby To And Fro

Today in Grateful Dead history there are many shows that I could if I want choose from. There is the famous Low Library Plaza gig from Columbia, where the band snuck on to the campus to play a protest rally only to realize that they didn't really care about it. A great Winterland show from 1969 was played on this date with a fantastic "Dark Star." They also played a mammoth "Other One" in Paris in '72, a show which is part of the Europe '72 box set. They played gigs in 1970, 1979 (the day before the recent Record Day release), 1986, 1987 and 1991 on this date, but today I'm gonna focus on the show from 1977. Why? Because this is my birth show. Not my birthday show but my actual birth show. I was born in Port Chester in the middle of this show. I like to think it was around the "Row Jimmy," since my name is James, but it was most like around "The Music Never Stopped." Apropo for me who always has to have something in the stereo, according to my wife. 
Tie-dye American Beauty Grateful Dead birthday cake, thank you. You know me too well!
I remember when I got my first copy of Deadbase, Number IX. The first thing that I did was riffle through the pages to find out if they played on the day I was born. I got to the show, I put a big star next to the show in red pen. It was always one of the shows that I would inquire about when in a tape trade. Never did I find it. Everyone seemed to have 5/4/77, which is a very fine show, but I always came up empty on my show. One night at a friend apartment in Tribeca, my friend mentioned that he could get me any show I wanted. This was the first date that I threw out at him, and he said come back tomorrow. The next day at work I got a call, "Hey you wanted 5/4/77 right?" NOOO. He found the right show and burned it to disc for me. The second set never came out of the car for the next year.
This isn't the longest "Sugaree" of 1977 but it might be the most intense. Jerry plays these spinning high pitch notes on a continuos repetition, which makes it extreme gratifying. Then there are three Jerry songs in a row, "Friend," "Eyes," and then "Wharf Rat." The "Eyes of the World" is on my charts as one of my favorite versions of the song. Then "Wharf Rat" that precedes it, like on Dick's Picks 3, has that long intro where Jerry goes off playing scales as that band watches on. Until the band drops into "Wharf Rat" as the audience goes nuts. It was mesmerizing for me. Then the "Not Fade" simply crushes it.
One of the great tragedies of my life is the fact that there is no complete Soundboard of this show in circulation. Only the "Promised" to "Ship of Fools" is in circulation. So download the best Aud HERE.
I once told someone at a festival that my parents were at this show. I fancied myself a writer, so I would sometimes practice by making up the occasional story. I told them that I was named James because my mom's water broke during "Row Jimmy." Since my dad didn't like the name Jimmy, I always went by James. Then I told him if it was a song earlier than I would have been named "Jack" for the first "Jack Straw" since 10/20/74. I also included that it would have been much more embarrassing if I was name "Bertha," "Peggy," or "Sugaree." 
I: Promised Land, Bertha, Uncle, Peggy-O, Jack Straw, Row Jimmy, Lazy Lightning, Supplication, Deal, Good Lovin', Ship of Fools, Music
II: Might as Well, Estimated, Sugaree, Samson, Friend, Eyes, Wharf Rat, Drums, NFA, Around 
E: Uncle John's

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Wings Spread Wide

Last year at this time, word had begun to leak that there was going to be a new 1977 box set coming from Dead.net. Before the dates of the set were released, I was hoping that the set was going to be the five night Palladium run. It was sited as being a five show boxset so I was hopeful, until they mentioned that none of the shows had been released in any sort of way. The following night (4/30) was released as part of the Grateful Dead Download series. Maybe my dreams will come true in later years, but for now I'm waiting on another announcement. Some runs that should get attention at some point; Europe 81, Orpheum 76, and Red Rocks 78. Till then download the soundboard of the show HERE and HERE.
This is the first Grateful Dead show in New York City since the year beforehand at the Beacon, which was the first run in four years. The Beacon run features one of my favorite "Help/Slip/Franks," and the band picks up right were they left off with a soaring version of the the trio. A little extra mustard and salt is sprinkled on the "Slipknot," adding some depth and attitude to the opener. Before "Franklin's" comes steaming in. They give some flexibility to by opening up space for a delightful Phil solo, as the "Fore winds roll us gently home." At the end of the song the band takes a cigarette break and the audience goes into a frenzy of song request calls. The funny one that you can make out is "Alligator," which was preformed for the final time six years to the day. The first set is punctuated with a gorgeous "Loser" and rambunctious "Music Never Stopped." The "Loser" is spectacular, and is the perfect example of how a song from six years can sound revitalized and reach new highs.
The band opens the second set with a crunching "Samson," before letting loose on a sublime "Sugaree." This is another song that was starting to flourish in 1977, where the band was not afraid to push the song past the 10-12 minute mark. Really exploring the songs every realm. Bobby quickly picks up the end of the song and speeds through "El Paso." A lucky fan calling from the gallery gets his wish, when they play "Brown Eyed Woman" seconds after he calls for it. Next the band builds on opening the set up, when they rock out an "Estimated Prophet." As the juices start flowing the band quietly sneaks into "Scarlet," which gets wrapped up in "Fire" jam, before being paired for the first time with "Going Down The Road Feeling Bad." It's the only time the two songs were paired together, but a familiar "Not Fade a Away" jam comes out of "Going Down the Road" before being bailed on for the drummers. Jerry's slide rolls the band into "The Wheel." This slowly comes to a stop as Jerry slides into "Wharf Rat" and the crowd very enthusiastic approves. Garcia really throws his heart into it as he sings the sad ballad. "She's been true to me" lyric fades as the band kicks it into gear for the set closer of "Around and Around." The marvelous encore of "Uncle John's" leaves the audience dancing on through the night. 
I: Help, Slip, Franks, Minglewood, Jed, Cassidy, TLEO, Big River, Loser, Music
II: Samson, Sugaree, El Paso, BE Woman, Estimated, Scarlet, GDTRFB, NFA Jam, Drums, Wheel, Wharf Rat, Around E: Uncle John's

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The JGB Finale

Ask any DeadHead when was Jerry's last show and they will rattle off, Soldier Field 7/9/95, but ask them the last Jerry Garcia Band gig and you'll get a blank stare. So I'm taking this opportunity to break this trend. Today is the anniversary of the final JGB show and as a DeadHead would imagine it occurred at the Warfield Theatre. Jerry played more shows there than any other venue. His first gig there was with the Grateful Dead on 9/25/80 as part of the 15 anniversary tour. Over the next 15 years he would play a total of 120 nights there with the Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia Band, and Garcia/Grisman band. This was his final show here. 
Most DeadHeads dread listening to anything for 1995, because Jerry was not at his best but on this night he wasn't at his worst either. The most played song by JGB, "How Sweet It Is" opens the show. As most JGB shows, Jerry fills the set with songs he loves by artist that he listens to. This show features nods to Dylan, Van Morrison, and the classic Band tune "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." 
Garcia did at one point try to make JGB an alternative place for songs that he penned with Hunter but that was quelled when he claimed to have given away as many copies of "Cats Under The Stars" as were purchase in the record stores. He plays two songs off of this album in "Run for the Roses" and maybe his most loved song "Reuben and Cherise." A song the Grateful Dead played 3 times in 1991, even though it was in his solo band rotation from 1977. He closes the show with the upbeat "Midnight Moonlight," which he had been playing since 1973 with Old And In The Way, a band that was started with his compadre John Kahn. This was the last the two played together on stage. 
The last two songs Jerry recorded with JGB was "Coffee and Cigarettes" and "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" for the movie "Smoke" soundtrack. He went back in the studio after Soldier Field with David Grisman to record "Blue Yodel #9" for the Jimmie Rodgers tribute album that Bob Dylan put together. So he had a couple of more months of creating music after this finale. 
Download the only available AUD of today's JGB show HERE and HERE.
I: How Sweet, Stop That Train, Simple Twist, Run, You Never Can Tell, Sis & Brothers, Deal
II: He Ain't Give You None, Struggling Man, Think, Reuben Dixie Down, Midnight Moonlight