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