"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

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Tonight at the University of California at Santa Cruz, the library will be celebrating the opening of the Grateful Dead Archive. The McHenry Library will house the history of the Grateful Dead and their cultural impact through their 30 year career.
The band Moonalice will play a free show in front of the library, so that they are not told by the librarians to "Keep it down." Moonalice is a bay area band featuring Barry Sless and John Molo, whom have guesting in Phil Lesh and Friends. Steve Parrish, Jerry Garcia's personal roadie, is listed as a member of the band although he is called their "Road Scholar/ Medicine Man."
George Blumenthal is the brain child of "A Box of Rain: Archiving the Grateful Dead Phenomenon" and will feature collections donated by Mickey Hart and Bob Weir. There will be poster, ticket stubs, backstage passes, photos, lyric pages and chord charts in the exhibition. Some of the more interesting items are a hand written letter by Jerry Garcia about his life at 87 Harrington Street and a picture of them playing a pizza parlor in 1965. And the crown jewel of Deadheadness, the original dictionary they used to name the band. In the dictionary the name The Grateful Dead is circled several times. There are plenty of items for a Deadheads inner dork to geek out on.
Along with Terrapin Crossroads and TRI Studio, there is plenty of events to partake in on "The coast of California."

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Today Robert Hunter celebrates his 71st birthday.  Ironically him and the poet of "Auld Lang Syne" have something more than being the lyricist of a great New Year's songs (i.e., Sugar Magnolia).  Both poets were born Robert Burns.
Hunter and Garcia were long time friends.  They played in bluegrass bands in the early sixties and hung out in coffee shops where they read and enjoyed the same poems, books and songs.  Garcia was more serious about playing banjo and guitar, and eventually Hunter could not keep up with his passions and left the scene to become a human guinea pig for the CIA at UCLA.  Here Hunter was feed drugs like LSD and PCP, so the CIA could study the effects on humans and the possibility of governmental use of these drugs.
Hunter returned to the scene to tell Garcia and others the amazing effects LSD had on his mind and body, briefly joined the Church of Scientology and then went on a vision quest in New Mexico where he was contacted by Garcia.  Garcia had recently found lyrics that Hunter had written in a guitar case, and put them to music, birthing the song "Alligator."  Hunter sent Garcia two more lyrics which the Grateful Dead orchestrated resulting in "China Cat Sunflower" and "The Eleven."  The band originally paired these two songs together, but later changed "China Cat" from the key of E to the key of G to make it brighter and then paired it with "Rider".
The first song that Hunter collaborated with the Grateful Dead for was "Dark Star".  As the story goes, he wrote the first verse and chorus as the band experimented with its music.  Jerry told him that they needed a second verse, so Hunter went for a walk around the Haight.  He encountered a guy with whom he smoked a joint.  Hunter told guy that he was working on lyrics for a great song, and upon finishing the joint he went off and wrote the second verse.
Garcia and Hunter lived with their girlfriends in the same house for a period.  This was when the two had their most productive period, turning out songs like "Dire Wolf," "Ripple" and "Uncle John's Band."  These songs were all very much original songs but Hunter and Garcia's love of traditional music inspired the reworking of traditional story lines.  For instance, "Casey Jones" is a reworking of the Mississippi John Hurt song by the same name.
The "Terrapin Station" suite is another example of a little of this and a little bit of them.  The "Lady with a Fan" part is derived from a traditional song called "Lady of Carlisle."  In the song, a Soldier and a seaman are trying to woo the same lady.  In order to decide who deserves her love she throws her fan into a lion's den.  Whoever could retrieve the fan would then get her heart.  The second song in the suite was composed by Hunter in an empty house during an extreme lightning storm.  Supposedly at that same time Garcia was driving in his car when he composed a melody in his head.  He drove home and worked it out on his guitar.  The next day the two got together and put the music to lyrics.  Hunter continued writing more songs and poems in the Terrapin suite.  Some he released on his album "Jack O Roses."  The complete suite appears in his book "Box of Rain," where the reader will notice that a line of "Return to Terrapin" was reused in the song "Corrina."  The romantic lyric is, "There is no fear that lovers born will ever fail to meet."
Since the passing of Garcia, Hunter has written lyrics with Bob Dylan, Bruce Hornsby, Jim Lauderdale and the surviving members of the Dead.  He also released a series of short stories via email to subscribers that he called "Red Sky Fishing."
"Make music together that guitars never caught, to show that I love you, believe it or not." On this date in 1988, the Grateful Dead completed a four night run at Alpine Valley.  The show features the debut of "Believe It or Not" and "Blackbird."  The "Blackbird" gets potched twice, and you'll hear Brent Mydland laughing as Bobby plows through the rest of the song.  There is an electric "Morning Dew."  The crowd really ignites the energy of the song when Jerry cries "I thought I heard a young man moan this morning." Then instead of starting the solo at a two and building it to a ten, they start at a ten and go to eleven.
The other nights of the run can also be found on archive.org and the first nights second set was remastered and is an A+ audience recording.

I can be followed on twitter at @potvinrocks.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Late last night, the new release from the Grateful Dead was officially announced. The pick is the Grateful Dead from Chicago on October 22, 1971.
Deadbase and deadlists.com do not list complete set list for this show, which makes the release even more intriguing. This is the known set list:
II: Ramble on Rose, Cumberland, Cryptical, Drums, Other, Cryptical, Deal Sugar Mags, Casey Jones, Johnny B Goode
This should make up the whole second disc of the release. The third disc is going to be bonus tracks taken from the night beforehand. This will feature the "Dark Star" "Sitting on top of the World" "Dark Star" combo along with the "St Stephen" "JBG" encore from 10/21/71. Should be an interesting release from the archives.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


In 1976, the Grateful Dead began their first tour since 1974.  The band reached back into their vault to rediscover some old time favorites like "St Stephen" and "Cosmic Charlie" and debuted some new songs like "Wheel," "Samson" and "Lazy Lightning."
On this date, the Grateful Dead played the first of two nights at the Beacon Theater.  Since the Fillmore East closed in 1971, the Grateful Dead has been at a loss where to play in New York City.  In '72 they played the Academy of Music on Irving Place, but after that they only played venues close to NYC.  (Ask anyone from NYC, Jersey City is NOT New York.)  After this two night (and only) run at the Beacon, the Grateful Dead returned to the Academy (renamed The Palladium) in 1977 and then did not return to NYC until 1979 when they started playing Madison Square Garden.  Besides their TV hits on SNL and the Acoustic/Electric Radio City run, they never played any other venue in New York City.
The first night HERE, is a C quality audience tape.  The audience in the recording is pretty overpowering but the enthusiasm of the night really comes through.  Listen to the crowd go nuts for the start of "Brown Eyed Woman." The audience is hanging on to every note.  As a show goer there are certain nights when the vibe is more important than the setlist and this is one of those nights.  They cheer for every song.  Then they cheer for every chorus, whistle for every solo and applaud the conclusion of every song.  It is electric.
The first set closes with an excellent spacey "Playin'."  The second set features a light fluffy "Crazy Fingers," where out of the jam Bobby calls "Dancin'."  This new version of "Dancin'" wows the crowd and fades in to the relic "Cosmic Charlie."
The second night I uploaded from my personal collection (Set I and II).  There are some interesting strings of songs on this night.  As the "Let It Grow" fades the "Might as Well" comes springing to life. The second set opens with a "St Stephen," "Not Fade," "Drums," and "Stella Blue" that doesn't fail to excite.  The show closer of "Sugar Mags"/"Scarlett"/"Sunshine Daydream" is an unique way of capping off the show.
The highlight of the run is the newish "Help"/"Slip"/"Franks" that comes at the end of the first night's show.  This is only the sixth time that they've played the triad.  The "Slipknot!" opens wide into a disintegration jam, before the band, piece by piece puts the song back together and vaults into the "Franklin's."
After the Grateful Dead concluded, the Beacon became a favorite spot of Phil Lesh and Friends, Ratdog, and Furthur.  In 2006, Phil Lesh and Friends did a five night run at the Beacon Theater.  The first night, I got in there early.  It was the first show that I hit up solo.  I found myself a seat in the upper balcony and people watched.  A guy came up to my section who needed crutches.  He obviously needed them his whole life.  I admired his determination to make his way up to the balcony.  Phil was in a major Ryan Adams phase (whom I also am a big fan of album wise) and opened the show with "New York New York."
Late in the second set, I could feel what Phil was going to play next.  The band launched into "Help." Suddenly, I noticed the arm brace crutches were in the air a couple of rows ahead of me. Then I heard him scream, "Crippled but FREEEE."  It was not just a song to him, it was a philosophy and a way of life. Bravo.

I can be followed on twitter @potvinrocks. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


On June 24, 1995, the New Jersey Devils won their first Stanley Cup.  They shockingly defeated the heavily favored Detroit Red Wings in a four game sweep.
On this night the Grateful Dead played the first of a two night run at RFK Stadium in Washington DC, with Bob Dylan as their opening act.  The show featured HERE, exhibits the final performance of "Friend of the Devil", which was nicknamed "Friend of the NJ Devil".
Bruce Hornsby sat in with the band for the last time.  His tasteful piano runs spruce up a tired Garcia, resulting in a pretty inspired show for 1995.  This night also featured the return of "Black Muddy River," absent from performances for four years and also, the last song Jerry Garcia ever sang.
The following night, Jerry came out and guested with Bob Dylan, his final non-Grateful Dead appearance.  After Jerry died, Bob Dylan started performing "Friend of the Devil" in live sets.  Although Dylan has never recorded a studio version of the song plenty of other artists have gravitated to it.  On iTunes you can find version of "Friend" by Jorma Kaukonen, Tom Petty, Counting Crows, and the death metal group Ministry live at the Bridge School Benefit.
Robert Hunter called "Friend of the Devil" the closest that he and Garcia ever came to writing a "classic" song, one of those songs that when they come on the radio you just want to turn it off, like "Bridge Over Trouble Water" or "Hotel California" (I hate that song more than The Dude.)  The funny thing is that Hunter wrote it for the New Riders of The Purple Sage.  John Dawson wrote the melody to the original Hunter lyrics.  They brought the song to Jerry who added the rift and then asked Hunter to write a bridge for the song.  He wrote "Got two reasons why I lie awake each night" and as they played it Dawson said he realized that it wasn't a New Riders song anymore.
The New Jersey Devils, who were formally the Colorado Rockies and before that the Kansas City Scouts, have since gone on to win two more Cups and never play "Friend of the Devil" at their home games. 

I can be followed on twitter @potvinrocks

Saturday, June 9, 2012


On this date, 21 years ago, the Grateful Dead played their final performance of "Reuben and Cherise". This Buckeye show is a FOB DOWNLOAD and an A- recording.
This show features the two keyboardist Bruce Hornsby and Vince Welnick and both can be heard with their tasty fills on the opener "Picasso Moon."  Hornsby helps to liven up the "Sugaree."  Jerry does something that he rarely does in the "Sugaree," he improvises the lyrics.  For someone who made his career on improvising on the guitar, he rarely varies from the structured lyrics.  Here he sings "And I figures that you got to go" instead of "And I guess it goes to show."  Later there is a midi trumpet solo on "Ramble on Rose," before closing the set with the stellar "Reuben"/"Let it Grow."  The "Let it Grow" seems to be the exhale to the inhale of the highly structured "Reuben."
The second set opens with "Samson" and as the song disintegrates, Jerry teases "Crazy Fingers" before a brief pause.  A spacey "Playin'" transitions into "He's Gone" before a short avant-garde jam into "Drums."  Out of "Space" the band goes into a fierce "The Other One" before "Wharf Rat."  Hornsby has some really nice fills to spice up the "Wharf Rat."  Then Jerry goes back on the midi with a trumpet solo for the closer of "Around and Around."  The "Knockin'" encore has Hornsby switching from piano to accordion, which fits the song perfectly.
Deadheads have always had a love affair with "Reuben and Cherise," even though the song was always elusive in Jerry Garcia's rotation.  The Grateful Dead only played the song four times and JGB/ Garcia & Kahn played it 87 times.  So he played it 91 times from November of 77 to the final JGB show in April of 1995.
The song is about a mandolin player who falls in love with a New Orleans girl.  The two are whisked away in a love affair within a song where time stops and the world, except them, ceases to exit.  The love is so intense that the girl dies and the mandolin player is left wondering if she was ever there.
There are several Grateful Dead themes that this song ties into.  First Cherise is "Dressed in pirouette in red," which is picking up on the "Lady in red" from "Casey Jones."  Then there is the "Unsung song must tell" line which picks up where the "Ripple" line leaves off, "Perhaps they're better left unsung." Finally, in "Reuben" the "strings played all alone," whereas in "Attic" the band sings "When there were no strings to play, you played for me."
There are all these themes that run through this song but I believe that Deadhead's like to think of themselves as "Cherise" and Garcia as "Reuben."  We get swept up in the music and transported to another dimension of being.
Student newspaper clipping of the show that the Jerry Garcia Band debuted "Reuben and Cherise." Everytime the Grateful Dead played this song, Bruce Hornsby was in the band and they never paired it with his song about a mandolin player, "Mandolin Rain."
I can be followed on twitter @potvinrocks

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Six years ago, Vince Welnick committed suicide on this day. He had been battling depression for the ten years prior to his death. This was his second attempt on his life since the death of Jerry Garcia, unfortunately he was successful this time.
Deadheads relationship with Vince wasn't always the best. Fans complained that his chops were not as good as Brent, whom Vince succeeded as keyboardist. As like Donna, Deadheads complained that his vocals were too loud in the mix. But Vince did positively impact the Grateful Dead's repertoire. He was instrumental in them playing "Here Comes Sunshine" for the first time in 1213 shows and "New Speedway Boogie" that they hadn't played 1371 shows.

On this date in 1995, the Grateful Dead started what would be last three concerts in California. These three shows where highlighted by the previous mentioned "New Speedway" and "Sunshine", along with a guest appearance by the Guyoto Monks during "Drums".  
6/2/95 features an expansive "Bird Song", which you'll hear Vince crow in the middle of the jam. There is a very nice jam that comes out of the "He's Gone" before Mickey brings the Guyoto Monks for their chant. The post "Drums" "Standing on the Moon" is fantastic and I love hearing Jerry sing "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds". A fitting song being that he was once nicknamed "Captain Trips".
Then 6/3/95 has nice versions of "Althea"and "Stagger Lee" before a blue spacey "Eternity". Post "Space" they find there way into "Box of Rain", which was odd placing for the song. Then a emotional "Stella Blue" before a rocking "Throwing Stones".
The final show in California is 6/4/95. They open with "Bertha" and right off the back, it seems like Jerry can't remember how the song starts. Lucky there is a teleprompter, because it ends up being a good opener. The set ends with "Lazy River" and "Cassidy", which ignites the band before the set break. "Sunshine" opens the second set and is followed by the worst version of "Victim" ever. Vince and Jerry are playing one thing and Bobby, Phil and the Drummers are in a completely different part of the song. This was unfortunately not uncommon in 1995. So after butchering "Victim" they play a song that they didn't play for 21 years because it was too intricate. This is the only California version of "Unbroken Chain" and they were actually in sync. A upbeat "Eyes" leads them into "Drums". They encored this show with a fitting "Fare thee well" to California.
Vince and Jerry used to ride the bus together when the rest of the band would fly to certain gigs, because neither of them cared for flying. It's a strange twist of fate that Vince's first attempt on his life was on the bus during Ratdog tour. It seems like he was just trying to keep up the Grateful Dead tradition of disappearing keyboardist. He was 55 when he died, Garcia was 53 when he died.