"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, August 16, 2012


43 years ago, the Grateful Dead played a unique set at Max Yasgur's Dairy Farm in Bethel, NY. The auspices set started with Bob Weir approaching the microphone for soundcheck, before he got to it, an electric volt ran through the mic blasting him five feet back on his ass. Weir got up and said to his band mates, "I didn't even touch it." I'm sure the visuals that Garcia got from that was quite frightening, considering that Santana and he dropped earlier in the day.
The stage was sinking in the mud, the electrical cords were buried in the mud, and the audience was drenched in mud. The rain had soaked the weekends events causing the three days of peace, love, and music to spill into a fourth day. People who were stuck in traffic heading into the concert got tired of waiting in their cars and instead abandoned their cars on the side of the road and eventually in the road. So no traffic could get through and New York State declared it a state of emergency. The Grateful Dead's music just added to the disaster of the weekend.
Phil Lesh in his book, said the Grateful Dead always messed up the big ones like; Monteray Pop, Woodstock, and Almonte (which they refused to play.) But I'm going to refute that. Woodstock was a concert played to 500,000 people, whereas four years later, the Summer Jam in Watkins Glen was a legendary performance. There were suppose to be 100,000 that were suppose to come to Watkins and 600,000 showed up, a hundred thousand more than Woodstock.
The band opens with "St Stephen" and after forgetting the second verse and singing the third, the band bails on the song for "Mama Tried." A mid the multiple technical difficulties, the crowd screaming request of other crowd members, there are people making stage announcements. Garcia tries to keep the music going with "High Time" but the stage announcements roll on. The band isn't given a chance to get any type of flow going.
"Dark Star" is 19 minutes of cosmos exploration before settling on "High Time." The band ramps it up as Pigpen takes over for "Lovelight." As the intro riff starts Country Joe takes the mic and does a "Third Coast" rap. The sound problems continue as Pigpen sings the whole first verse into a dead mic. It rectifies for the second verse as the song builds for a 38 minute rave. "Bobby sing it for me."
St Stephen, Mama Tried, Dark Star, High Time, Lovelight
The Grateful Dead after playing their terrible set, refused to allow any of their images be used in the Woodstock movie. Even though they could have looked somewhat respectable if they allowed the "Lovelight" to be used in the video. They weren't the only ones to refuse to sign the rider, Neil Young also did. The producers had to shoot only CSN during "Suite Judy Blue Eyes" because of that.
In 2006, Bethel Woods opened up at the original sight of the Woodstock Arts and Music Festival. Phil Lesh and Friends played there in 2006, in a co-bill with Trey Anastasio and Mike Gordon and Benevento/Russo. Phil said that as soon as they booked the place he knew that he was going to play the same setlist that the Grateful Dead did. After playing the same five songs in the second set he played a familiar combo as the encore because the show was played on the 11 year anniversary of the final Grateful Dead show.
Stream the original Woodstock show HERE and download the PLF soundboard HERE.
PS. My mom and my uncle were ticket carrying attendees of Woodstock. My uncle said, "I saw the Dead there. They were terrible."

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