"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

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

VEGAS 5/31/92

Twenty years ago the Grateful Dead concluded their second successful three night run in Las Vegas. All three nights, the Steve Miller Band opened up for the band at the Sam Boyd Silver Bowl at UNLV.
The audience tapes of the shows are not very good. The wind in the venue limits the tapers abilities. The downloads are low volume and capture too much of the atmosphere. I suggest that you stream the shows instead.

They open up the first set of the three night run with the classic "Mississippi Half Step." This set is also punctuated by a strong version of "Black Throated Wind." The second set opens with "China"/"Rider". An emotional "LL Rain" with storm effects comes out of the "Rider". "Crazy Finger" leads us into a great "Playin'". The set is capped by a long "Sugar Mags," until they encore with "The Weight". Download the first night HERE
The second night's second set starts off slowly with a sly "Eyes." As a set opener, "Eyes" gets to live and breath some life into the song and set. The "Truckin'"/"Smokestack" combo pumps up the energy level in the venue, before embarking on the journey to "Terrapin." There is a thick groove jam post "Terrapin." After "Space" there is a great "Spanish Jam" (first one since 1987) that builds into "Miracle." Download it HERE
The goods were delivered on the third night, which you can download HERE. The show opens with the vehicle "Help"/"Slip"/"Frank's." The first set includes a bombastic "Queen Jane" and the dissension into space with a far out "Bird Song." The second set opens with an energetic "Scarlet"/"Fire". There's an emotional "So Many Roads," where Garcia goes ballistic at the climax of the song. This is one of my top five versions of this song.
Out of "Space" the band picks "Attics." As the song fades, Steve Miller joins the band for "Spoonful." Miller's solo leads the band into "The Other One." Then they drop into a "Dew," which Jerry and Miller share the lead on. The band and Miller come back out to encore with "Baba O'Riley" into "Tomorrow Never Knows."
You'll notice that over the three night run the band didn't play any of their gambling songs. In classic Grateful Dead fashion, they didn't okay "Loser," "Deal," or "Tennessee Jed" where they "Woke up a feeling mean, went down to play the slot machine." Sometimes things are just too obvious for the Grateful Dead to conform to. I remember driving up to Springfield, Mass for a Fourth of July Furthur Festival show. It was 1997 and I was celebrating my first anniversary of sobriety. No better way than seeing a show. My sister, Jeff and I were positive that we'd get a "Jack Straw." We were hoping that Hornsby would start the song, then have Bobby run out to join him as they had previously done in Camden.
"Sun so hot, clouds so low," it was a scorcher of a day and we got stuck in a ton of traffic heading to the Racepark. Suddenly my car stalled, but luckily the guy behind us had cables and jumped us. We rolled down the windows and turned off the AC, but yet the car stalled again. This time we got jumped by a friendly stranger whose house we were in front of. We moved a few feet and the car stalled again. The guy said, "Just leave it in my driveway until after the show and we'll try again when it's cooler." So we walked a mile or two to the venue and neither Bruce or Bobby sang, "Leaving Texas, Fourth day of July".
We left Furthur Fest before the Crowes played. The guy was was there watching TV in his shorts without a shirt. We jumped the car and it started. We drove back to Westchester with no radio, no AC, and no lights on in the car. We were drained from baking in the sun and we were all worried that we'd get stranded somewhere in-between the concert and home. We didn't talk too much on the trip home. The Merritt was dark and so was the inside of the car. When we hit the Hutch, we knew that we were close enough to walk home so I said, "Phew, we made it." The car erupted, "I know" Jeff said, "I was willing the Camry to make it back the whole way." And for the last five minutes we pontificated on whether or not Bobby played "Jack Straw" with the Crowes.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Forty years ago today (1972) the Grateful Dead played its final European concert. They returned to Europe in 1974 for seven more concerts, far less than the 24 concerts they played over a month and a half span in '72. The culmination of the '72 shows was a four night run at the Strand Lyceum in London, England.
The Strand was the smallest venue that they played in Europe. All the employees of the venue wore jackets and bow ties and of course spoke in a British accent. They fit right in with the bohemians that were about to descend on the 2,100 seat theatre. So before they played a note of music, Bobby asked, "Good evening. Welcome to here?"
These four shows were the result of the band's hard work in Europe. Several of the band's selection of Europe '72 came from this run, including the complete second LP. In 2001, they released "Steppin' out with the Grateful Dead; England '72", which was a four CD set of music recorded primarily at the Lyceum. It's evident in the recorded music, they were a very confident bunch.
If you think about it, Europe '72 was a sociological experiment. Put a band in a foreign land, with foreign customs, then give them an audience who has never seen or heard most of the songs and see if their spirits can coincide. If you were an audience member who was a fan of their third album "Aoxomoxoa", you'd know one of the thirty songs that they played that night. Plus the studio version of "China Cat Sunflower" and the live version are completely different incarnations of the song. So hopefully you'd pick up on the covers of songs like, "Not Fade Away", "It Hurts Me Too", and "Good Lovin".
Another thing the Grateful Dead was doing, that no other band was doing at the time, was jamming out 30 minute songs. If the Dead played "Dark Star" one night, the next night they'd use "The Other One" as their exploratory vehicle. (Only one show, 5/7/72 features both songs and they were paired there.) And although they explored the cosmos with these songs, they would come out of these songs in different places. Most of the "Dark Stars" would come out running with a song like "Sugar Magnolia", where as "The Other One" would be cooled off with either a "Sing Me Back Home" or "Wharf Rat."
At this point the band was also a three singer band. Pigpen took leads on songs like "Two Strangers in Communion," "Mr. Charlie," "Next Time You See Me" and "Turn on Your Lovelight." All these songs he would sing for the last time on stage here at the Strand Lyceum. 5/26/72 was the last time Pigpen played and sang with the Grateful Dead. When the band returned to the States, they played one show on 6/17/72 at the Hollywood Bowl, which was his last time on stage with the Grateful Dead.
Some of the highlights include the debut of "Rockin' Pneumonia" and the last "Sitting on Top of the World." The "Lovelight" into "Two Souls" is very tight, and it gives an incredible strong breath to the end of "Two Souls". Then the "Uncle John's", "Wharf Rat", "Dark Star", "Sugar Mags", "Comes A Time" is phenomenal. The "Dark Star" features one of those descending jams that would later help connect "China" "Rider" in 73 and 74.

I can be followed on twitter at @potvinrocks

Friday, May 25, 2012


On June 14, 1994 the New York Rangers won the Stanley Cup. That same night the Grateful Dead was in Seattle as you can stream HERE.
I lost my favorite chant that night, 1940, but I've been pleased that they haven't won since. That night the Grateful Dead performed "Truckin'" where they reaffirmed, "New York has the ways and means". But if that is so, then why do the Knick always suck?

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Mr. Dylan turns 71 today. Happy birthday Bob.
In 1965, Dylan toured across Europe, as documented in the movie "Don't Look Back", where he progressed from a folk singer to a rock star. That same year a band by the name of the Warlocks debuted and shortly after featured a Dylan cover, "It's all over now, Baby Blue". This song's sad lyric and emotive melody appealed to Jerry Garcia. Dylan's influence on Garcia's songwriting is apparent in the Robert Hunter lyrics Jerry chose. "Rueben & Cherise", "Stagger Lee", and "Black Muddy River" could have all been Dylan songs off of an album like "Desire".
Jerry's admiration of Dylan was also evident in the numerous songs he covered. "Tangled up in Blue", "Knockin' on Heavens Door", and my favorite of all Dylan songs, "Vision of Johanna".

Jerry wasn't the only big Dylan fan in the band. Phil likes to get playful on stage with his rendition of "Tom Thumbs Blues". He also mentioned that in their rehearsal for the Dylan & the Dead tour, all band members came with lists of Dylan songs they wanted to play. The always professional Bobby Weir asked Dylan if he needed help with the lyrics for "Desolation Row" and Dylan replied, "I'll remember the important ones."

In the summer of 95, Dylan sent a letter to Jerry asking him if he'd like to do some yodeling for him. Dylan was putting together a Jimmie Rodgers tribute album. After summer tour, Jerry went over to David Grisman's and made his last studio of "Blue Yodel #9" for the tribute album that was released in 1997.

I can be followed on twitter at @potvinrocks

Monday, May 21, 2012


Now I've been doing some math, which is dangerous for someone with a Bachelors of Arts from St. Lawrence. (This is same school Denis McNally, the Grateful Dead Publicist/Biographer, is an alumni of.) I am more in tune with the lyric of the poets and the music of the sphere, then the arithmetic
of mathematics. So I was shocked when I discovered that 1982 was 30 years ago.

Here I present the Greek Theatre run of 30 years ago, 5/21/82 5/22/82 & 5/23/82. The Grateful Dead always played great shows at the Greek Theatre.  These downloads are FOB's and the first two shows are B quality.   The last is a C+.  I believe the decrease in quality is because the taper is too close to the band and not far enough for the mics to absorb the full compliment of the music.
A highlight of the first night's first set is the "Bird Song". At one point Jerry pulls them out of the jam and back into "Bird Song" before releasing back into the jam again. The second set the band plays two songs before "Drums/Space", which are "Playin'" into "Uncle John's". There is an extensive jam post "Uncle John's" which is really nice.  Then post "Drums/Space" the band plays "The Wheel", followed by a reprise of "Playin".
The second night starts with a ripping "Jack Straw"/"Sugaree" combo, which is as sweet as it sounds.  The second set opens with "China Cat"/"Rider".  Next Bobby leads his cajun "Woman are Smarter", then Brent sings his only song of the weekend "Never Trust a Woman".  "Sailor"/"Saint" follows, before Jerry opens up with a "He's Gone" that has a poignant jam at the end before "Drums/Space".  The 5/21 show had two songs pre "Drums/Space" and the next night they play seven songs before the break.  "NFA" and a beautiful "Wharf Rat" are post "Drums/Space" highlights.
This particular run at the Greek, the shows seem to improve each night.  The third night the audience is bursting at the seams after hearing the wah-wah petal.  The crowd starts a clapping beat that the band feeds off of as they drop the hammer to open the show up with "Shakedown".  Bobby works in the typical set closer next in "Promised".
"Scarlet" opens up the second set with an extensive jam as the band pieces together "Fire".  "Samson" comes roaring out of the "Fire", which is followed up by "Ship of Fools".  They then drop into an airy "Estimated", which they tool around with long enough to sound ready for "Drums/Space" but instead speed into an "Eyes".  Jerry is the last one to leave the stage as he rhythmically gives way to the drummers.  Earlier in the space the band quotes what song will be coming next.  The band plays around the theme for six minutes before, boom, "The Other One".  A beautiful "Stella Blue" comes next and as Jerry ignites the solo they transition into "Miracle".  Then there is an awkward key change as the band starts "Casey Jones".  Check out Bobby's slide guitar solo. He must have kept it close because of the "Miracle".  They close the run with a double encore of "Satisfaction" and "Brokedown".  Quite the show and another great run at the Greek.

I can be followed on twitter @potvinrocks

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Since 1995, the Grateful Dead fan has had many decisions to make regarding which live shows they choose to attend.  Right now you could go see Furthur, 7 Walkers or the Mickey Hart Band, not to mention all the Dark Star Orchestra type bands that play your local watering hole.

I am at one of those crossroads.  On July 14, Furthur is playing in Coney Island and on the same day the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra is playing the music of the Grateful Dead in a free outdoor concert.
Everyone knows the quality that Furthur puts into their live shows, and if you're familiar with the Dead Symphony no. 6 album by the Russian National Orchestra, you know that Grateful Dead melodies transfer well to the orchestra setting.  If I choose to attend the Furthur show I could go by 3520 Mermaid Ave to see Woody Guthrie's house in celebration of his 100th birthday.  Will Bobby and Phil know it's Woody's Birthday?
I guess I should go the concert with the guys who jammed with Jerry, right?  However, there might be more than two guys or girls in the BPO that jammed with Jerry and Pigpen.  In 1970 on St. Patty's day, The Grateful Dead and The Road (Noel Redding's band after the break-up of the Jimi Hendrix Experience) played a concert with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.  There are few details known about this concert. When Dave Lemieux was asked if there were any recordings of this concert in the Vault, he said, "We don't have that." Deadbase lists them playing 3 songs, "Dark Star" "Drums" and "Lovelight".  Some eyewitness accounts have them playing "NFA" "The Other One" and "Lovelight". Either way, I wonder weather or not Pigpen went into his "Get you're hands out of your pockets" rap.  It would be great if he told a suit and tie audience to "Stop playing that pocket pool"!
I guess we'll never know.  Just like I don't know what to do; Furthur or BPO?

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Thursday, May 17, 2012


In October of 2002, The Grateful Dead released "Go To Nassau".  The two CD set was a compilation of two of the three shows that they played at the Nassau Coliseum on May 14, 15 and 16 1980.  Two weeks before these concerts, the Dead released the 11th studio album of their 15 year career, "Go To Heaven".  Many of the songs played during this three night run came from their new studio album.
Songs  new to the rotation were "Althea", "Far From Me", "Alabama Getaway" and "Feel Like a Stranger".  In this version of "Stranger" the Dead sounds like The Talking Heads.  The release features some great versions of old favorites like "High Time", "Looks Like Rain", "Peggy-O" and a sweet combo of "Playin' in the Band" into "Uncle John's Band".

The CD set starts with an energetic "Jack Straw" into "Franklin's Tower". "Franklin's tower their hangs a bell", of course the bell in this song is the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, which is were the Nassau team was at this time.
Thirty-two years ago, the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers were playing in the Stanley Cup finals. Games one and two were in Philly.  The Islanders returned to play game three and their first Stanley Cup game at home on May 17, 1980, the day after this set was recorded.
The Islanders won their first Stanley Cup that year, and would go on to win four in a row. The Grateful Dead would continue to play Nassau, but every year the shows were earlier and earlier in the hockey season so that they would not interfere with the Islanders' playoff runs. The Grateful Dead ended up playing Nassau consitantly in the spring, though they didn't play there from 85-89. They played Nassau Coliseum 42 times which is second in New York State to Madison Square Garden. 
I can be followed on Twitter at @potvinrocks and this is a link to the download the final night of the run HERE

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Dave's Pick volume 2 features a show from the Wall of Sound tour of 1974.  Since all but one show of this tour were single appearance shows, the Dead used two Walls of Sound (WoS). The Dead used two WoS, while one WoS was being set up for their next gig, the other was being used at the current show. The WoS was a big financial strain on the band and eventually lead to them calling it quits on 10/20/74.
Maybe it was the ambitionness of the WoS project or maybe it was the quality of sound, but the Grateful Dead played very well off of each other at this time. A perfect example of this is the "Mississippi Half Step" listed here:
1-05 Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo
Listen to Keith's fills over Jerry's intro.  Then Billy's snare drives the verse before Phil harmonizes with Jerry for the chorus.  Jerry's guitar takes over as he solos the link to the next verse. This verse is dominated by Keith's fingers dancing up and down the piano.  Though once again, Jerry solos to the following verse, it is Phil's playing that is dazzling in this section.  In the third verse, Phil and Keith's instruments are happily just below Jerry's vocals.  Bobby's sly guitar ramps up the final chorus as the band explodes into the coda, like a cold glass of ice water on a hot day.  Jerry, Phil, Bobby, and Keith each fill in the holes left by the next as Billy keeps it all together and Jerry quiets his bandmates for Donna's entrance, "Across the Rio Grande".  The band is all working in unison.  Together they jump on Jerry's guitar as he drives them louder, harder and bolder, until they work themselves down into "It Must Have Been the Roses"
The show starts with the most intriguing song off their new album, "From the Mars Hotel".  The "Scarlet" features some brilliant guitar work from Jerry. By this point, this song hasn't seen it's full potential, but it is starting to get close. Bobby Cowboy sings "Me and My Uncle", followed by a tight "Brown-Eyed Woman".  The fascinating "BIODTL" comes next.  In the middle of the song the vocals go out, but you can hear Bobby and Donna singing in the background.  Now, the WoS did not feature monitors, so they must have known that they weren't being heard, because the vocals came out of stacks behind the drummer.  This is also why they used these funky double mics, one stacked on the other, because one worked for the vocal while the other eliminated feedback that would be caused by the vocal stacks. Another great thing about "BIODTL" is that you really hear the beautiful guitar work that Jerry does on the song.  This must be the most anyone has ever written about "BIODTL"!
"Mexicali"and "Row Jimmy" come next followed by a "Jack Straw" that is very well received by the crowd.  "China Cat Sunflower" is the second exploratory vehicle of the first set.  The "China Cat" jam opens up with Bobby's rhythming away and Jerry quickly jumps on his gravy train.  The two guitars keep the rhythm while Phil bops along to this grove, until they get to the descending jam.  Then, Jerry unleashes his rhythm guitar, pulling the band through the descending jam.  Keith's piano helps to even out the band as they groove into "I Know You Rider".  The boy's three part harmonies are intact as they sing the verse.  Jerry really lets loose on the "I wish I was a headlight on a northbound train."  He actually peaks twice during it.  You can tell that Bobby is really fired up as they close out the "Arms", which trips Jerry's vocals on the final word.  So Bobby Berry closes out the set with a great "Around and
The second set starts with a subdued "Bertha".  Instead of being the typical guitar driven rock song, the band slows it down a tad, so Jerry puts more of a vocal effort into this version.  "Big River" picks up the band's tempo, setting the stage for "Eyes of the World".  The slick, tight groove throughout the vocals parts of the "Eyes" or aka smile jam.  There isn't anyway you can listen and pay attention to it without smiling.  As the third chorus ends, Jerry takes on the rhythm as Phil starts pounding away over guitars.  Keith joins the fray, playing off of the leads that Phil plays, until the band segues into the 73-74 post "Eyes" jam.  Jerry leaves his rhythm for the lead as he takes the band through jam that ends in "China Doll".  The delicate "China Doll" hushes the crowd, which is why Bobby hops the band into "Promised".  Bobby every gives a shout out after the first verse when he says, "Hi everyone."
According to the linear notes, on this date the United States congress had just leveled it's third charge against President Richard Nixon for the Articles of Impeachment. "Ship of Fools" is perhaps the most politically charged song that Garcia ever penned with Hunter.  Although many twist the meaning of the first line to mean that Garcia was the captain "strangest I could find" because of his nickname from the Acid Trip days of Captain Trip.
Bobby closes the set with his signature combo of the time, "Weather Report Suite".  The beautiful guitar work Bobby plays in the "Prelude" is impeccable.  Followed to "Part 1" with Jerry back on the slide guitar. This is followed by the odyssey "Let It Grow", which culminates with raising solo by Jerry. Keith's electric piano and Phil's bar chord shuffle compliment Jerry's guitar playing for the climax of "Let It Grow". This ends the set as Jerry said "Thanks a lot. We are going to take another short break we'll be back in a few moments".
Technical difficulties begin the next set, which apparently gets figured out pretty fast as Bobby says, "Ah there it is."  "El Paso", "Ramble on Rose", and then "Greatest Story" gets the crowd going in the third set.  Then Jerry puts a chill on the crowd with a beautiful rendition of "To Lay me Down".  Billy plays the edge of the snare instead of the drummer and it adds real life to the song.  Keith's piano is really working overtime to complement Jerry's guitar and vocals.  Jerry's vocals are really crisp.  Maybe the earlier "Bertha"was the perfect workout to get him into the "To Lay me Down".
"Truckin'" jets the band and audience off to rock n' roll bliss.  The band shuffles through the song and then opens it up into a Jerry lead.  Keith acts the 'little devil on his shoulder' as he eggs Jerry further and further away.  Billy is more than willing to let everything come apart, just so they can rebuild it.  As the music thickens, the band seems to be looking for something, which is where Jerry drops into "Mind Left Body Jam", a rift that was given that name by Dick Latvala. The "Mind Left Body Jam" progresses playing off the theme and it sounds like they might go back into it, when Bobby picks up on a flamingo type rift that Jerry has played and "Spanish Jam" begins.  During the theme of "Spanish Jam", the band falls apart and into "Wharf Rat".  Jerry's vocals are again stunning.  He draws you in with his whisper, "Old Man down".
The song fades to only Keith's noodling and Jerry's guitar starts "US Blues".  Despite the fact that the President is about to be Impeached, "Wave that flag".  The crowd really appreciates the tongue and cheek matter in which it's being sung.  Then Bobby closes the set with "One More Saturday Night".  The band comes out and encores with "Uncle John's" and the crowd goes home happy.

Hartford Connecticut has become a favorite of Grateful Dead releases.  Dick's Picks 6, To Terrapin; Hartford 77, and Dave's Picks 2 were all recorded in the little city half way between New York and Boston.  All are very deserving choices for releases but it is a little baffling as to why?
For all you Phish fans, Trey called Hartford 10/14/83, which is Dick's Picks 6, his favorite show.  He said during the Scarlet/Fire, Jerry was bouncing notes and the only other person he's seen do that was Frank Zappa.  He called the show a defining moment in his life.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Terrapin Crossroads

On Thursday night, Phil Lesh opened his new venue called Terrapin Crossroads.  Lesh conceived of creating this space in 1999, but has just now realized his dream. Bobby also created his own venue, TRI studio, which he created as an audio/video space.
Lesh billed the opening as a "Special Album Night".  The assembled band played, "The Band" by The Band and the Grateful Dead classic "Workingman's Dead" in two sets.  Before the music, Phil dedicated the show and the space to the memory of Levon Helm, who held his Midnight Ramble in Woodstock, NY.  Phil played a Midnight Ramble with his sons and Levon about 2 years ago. After walking through the kitchen and onto the stage, Phil decided that he wanted to create his own venue in the same vein as Levon's Midnight Ramble. So he has adopted calling his events, "West Coast Rambles".
The house band consisted of musicians such as Chris Robinson and Adam MacDougall of the Black Crowes, Jon Graboff of Ryan Adam's Cardinals, Tim and Nikki Bluhm, and Railroad Earth's John Skeham. Phil's son Grahame also sat in on guitar and vocals.
Having their own venue is something that has been kicked around the Grateful Dead family since 1975. In an interview for "Blues for Allah", Jerry Garcia said that instead of touring, the band thought that they might set up a single venue where people could travel to to see the band play all their shows. Hence the beginning of, "Who is the Grateful Dead and why are they following me?"

Friday, May 11, 2012


2-05 He's Gone

Twenty-one years ago today, Bob Marley died at the age of 36 from complications from melanoma discovered in his toe in July of 1977. Marley was traveling to Jamaica after trying some experimental treatment in Germany. On the flight his health worsened so they landed in Miami. He was rushed off the plane and to the hospital where he died later that day. Supposedly he said his last words to his son Ziggy, "Money can't buy you life."
The Grateful Dead were not the type of band that would play tribute to famous figures or fellow musicians, execpt The Bill Graham Tribute in Golden Gate Park on 11/03/91. In fact the band didn't even seem to acknowledge the passing of their band mates; Pigpen, Keith, or Brent. (The curse of the Spinal Tap Drummer!) But on May 12, 1981 that is exactly what they did for the passing of Bob Marley.

New Haven, CT 5/12/81
1: Alabama, Greatest, Peggy O, Cassidy, Roses, Uncle, Big River, Althea, Rooster, China, Rider
2: Shakedown, LLRain, Ship of Fools, Estimated, He's Gone, Drums, Space, Other One, Wharf Rat, Sugar Mags
Encore: Don't Ease

The "He's Gone" is dedicated to Bob Marley. Though they played a show the night of Marley's death, there was no acknowledgement, because this is before the existence of the Twitterverse.  The band obviously spoke about it before hand because the intro to "He's Gone" fizzles when Bobby comes up to make the dedication. The "Estimated" that leads into the "He's Gone" is very potent. Bobby seems to put some extra gusto into this rendition, as if to imply that Marley was some sort of Prophet, "And we raise up to glory, glory".
I find this strange because they never covered Bob Marley. JGB covered "Stir it up" a few times with Donna Jean and Maria Muldaur on lead vocals. Then there was the accidental cover the Dead did of "Stir it up" in 1988. But yet they chose to honor Bob Marley's Legend with this "He's Gone".
(I posted the song and you should be able to download it. If not let me know.)

I can't forget to mention that 40 years ago today the Dead played a legendary show in Rotterdam. Dick Latvala called this his favorite of all the Europe '72 shows.  The show features a "Dark Star" that ranges 47 minutes, including a little Billy drum solo in it. The "Dark Star" breaks down into a jam where Jerry seems to be pulling it into "Wharf Rat" but Bobby rightfully calls the uptempo "Sugar Mags". Picking up on a tease in the "Dark Star","Caution" comes roaring out of the "Mags". Before keeping the tempo going for a rockin' "Truckin'", which disintegrates as the show comes to a close. There is a reason why "Truckin'" isn't used as set closer! Then the cherry on top, "Uncle John's Band".

Thursday, May 10, 2012



On 3/26/88, The Grateful Dead became the biggest bar band, while tuning up between Sugaree and Minglewood at the Hampton Coliseum. Here you can see Bobby walk over to Jerry and ask him, "Do you know the lyrics?" Jerry shakes his head, as Bobby takes lead, singing the chorus. I think Bobby assumes that the after singing the chorus that the band would let the whim fizzle but they don't. The crowd sings the first line of the verse and so Bobby picks up right where they left off.
I'm going pick up on this theme in my next post.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Morning Dew 1977-05-08


35 years ago, the most famous and widely circulated bootleg was created. But how and why did Cornell '77 become this incredible iconic show over all other shows? It was a great time in Grateful Dead history. The band was pumping out some of their most compelling intricate music with the addition of songs like Estimated Prophet and Terrapin Station, but only one of those songs were played on this Sunday night in Ithaca, New York. Estimated was played at every show in May of 77, so of course it was featured here.
Maxell XLII were the preferred method of tape trade, back when there was such a thing as tape trade trees. Copy tapes took as long as the tape that you where coping and they where expensive because you always needed to buy more tapes. After copying a show from a copy of a show, which was already a copy of a show, the sound quality would deteriorate so the concert would have a hiss. So you always wanted to be 2nd or 3rd generation in the tape tree. Cornell '77 was always a show that someone you knew had a 2nd generation tape, so an uncle, big brother, or older sister's cool boyfriend could make you a tape.
"I was born in the desert, raised in the lion's den", while most Deadhead's were, they generally won't choose Minglewood as their choice opener. 46 times out of 427 times Minglewood was the opener, and the majority of those coming from 77-83, the only other being in 66. There is something in the band, as if they were the ones supplying the electricity of the the evening instead of Con Ed. "And you'll never find another honest man." Garcia's voice is potent and whisperish durning the verse and strong and bold for each chorus. The fluttering guitar and upbeat piano take us away and into El Paso. Their fingers, their hands are alive and breathing the notes, and the singers seem to be not the storyteller but the characters themselves. Mary who ran around, Jack Straw, Delilah Jones, and Jimmy Row these are tall tales, these are being acted out on stage. They are being presented in these short and concise songs. Get in, Get on, Get off.
Then the band does what the band does best. They throw a curveball at you. You think you came to a rock show, well this is the age of disco and check out this funk. "Dancin." Well I'm not sure if I can't to the thick grooves the band lays out on the floor. And in classic Bobby fashion, he messes up the lyrics. Usually that means that he forgets, "She's my summer lover, in spring, fall, and winter" but this time he comes in early. No bother. The band plays right through it until the song opens up into a crescendo of bopping grooves. The crowd oohs and ahhs and pushes the band to the limit, so the band pushes back until the chorus is reprised. As the band takes a break.
It's no wonder that when the band returns to the stage they have to march out instructions to the crowd to, "Play everyone's favorite game, Take A STEP BACK." The band needs space, the crowd needs space, because no one can find the dance floor. Then they pop the bounciest combination ever as the crowd closes back in. The Scarlet/Fire stands out even on a 12 gen analog tape. It cannot be kept down. It will bounce you off the ceiling as it replaces your knees with springs. Donna Jean shines on this Scarlet. She isn't too over bearing or too dimmed. This sets the audience for the melting pot that becomes Fire on the Mountain. The groove is hammered out. Who knew two chords could do so much damage. The mystic raises as we are told, "My time is coming, any day now, don't worry about me no".
Stephen raises the band out of the well to Sainthood. That is the magic that this band possessed every night they played, some nights they showed you a little, on this night they opened up the vault. It is the magic that once you see it you never want to be without it. During Not Fade Away, Bobby and Keith find their way back to the the quickening St. Stephen chord progression but Phil and Jerry are not willing to give up on the resurrection of Buddy Holly. They carry out the dance until Phil and Jerry concede to return to St. Stephen.
"What would be the answer to the answer man?" A weary traveller who has been on his feet for miles, days, weeks, and years, finds a clearing in the woods where there is a small home. Approaching the house there is a sign, "The homeowner bears his soul for all to see, but only through song." Jerry is that homeowner and just past the sign the grass is wet with the Morning Dew. The traveller is elevated enough to have his feet be dry. Until dropped by the the chanting, "I guess it doesn't matter, anyway!" The band drops their hands as if the breaker just blew, until Garcia whispers the notes out from the dark. His fingers light a spark as the band gathers kindling as the fire grows slowly. Then wood is thrown on wood as the band layers notes on top of notes until the fire between has swallowed up all the oxygen in the room. Then the house is lit, as Jerry fans the flames of his guitar intensifying the crescendo until you don't think the flames could get any higher. Then boom, the gas tank goes off, and then another until the smoldering of the fire gets swallowed up by the power chords of Jerry's guitar. Until the sky opens up and the flames get sucked up as smoke in a release, "I guess it doesn't matter, anyway."
Since it was a Sunday night, the band wants all the students to sleep through tomorrows classes so they play, "One More Saturday Night".
Cornell '77 isn't just another bootleg, it is a gateway drug like Marajuana. Once you get it, you buy into the Dead and then "hit the harder stuff".