"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

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Bird Within Her Sing

Last year when I was trying to figure out which of the great New Years shows to do, I was impressed by the guest that would come out and jam with the boys. Looking at that is what inspired me to do a theme year on special guest with the Dead, which concludes with this blog. If it hasn't been completely obvious already that my favorite guest to sit-in is Branford Marsalis. His relationship with the band was pure brilliant. He had the ability to fit seamless in the spaces between, to enlighten the stage and to blow the audience down. Download the show HERE and HERE.
This is the second time Branford joined the band on stage and so much had changed since the March gig. Brent died and now there was two keyboardist filling those spaces. This means that there was less room on stage for him, but he finds his way on the songs that he blew down in March. "Bird Song," "Eyes," and "Dark Star" all worked well and were quickly recycled for this gig. And though "on man gathers what another man spills," Branford yet again makes these song breath new with the Dead. The new jams in "Other One," which is teased in "Dark Star," flat out explodes onto the scene. Phil might have been holding that one in since 1972. A very tranquil "Wharf Rat," and the heavy "Not Fade Away" are both welcome additions to the Branford catalog. Just to show that old friends don't get forgotten, Hamza El-Dim also guest on "Drums." The band would be called out for two encores after this night's amazing performance.
The band would preform one more New Years show before ending the tradition. New Years was a big event and the show man Bill Graham was there year after year to be their New Years mascot. Bill passed in 1991 and so did the band's desire. I remember hearing Garcia in an interview in the mid 90's mention that he didn't ever see the band doing another New Year event and of course he was unfortunately right.
I Bucket, Jack A-Roe, Wang Dang, Row Jimmy, Mexicali, Big River, Bird Song*, Promised*
II: NFA*, Eyes*, Dark Star*, Drums**, Space*, Other One*, Wharf Rat*, NFA* 
E1 The Weight* E2 JBG*
* With Branford Marsalis **With Hamza El-Dim

Monday, December 30, 2013

I Had To Move

For today in Grateful Dead history we go back to one of my favorite years 1989. So much goodness came dripping out of this year and today's show is one that begs the question, "Can New Years top that show?"
The special guest who sits in on this show is Airto Moreiro, and he plays drums on several tracks, yet there is another special guest. On this smoking hot night, Jerry took the stage with the Wolf. Download the matrix copy HERE and HERE.
This is the first set I "Bertha/Good Lovin'" since Egypt '78. They played the combo late in the second set a couple times, the last one before this was over five years earlier on 11/2/84. But the band doesn't tightly wrap that so g combo up they progress into a spacey jam, which allows for a key change so they can drop into a tight "Sugaree." By the time they wrap up the first set with "Music" your left wondering weather they will build in the next set. Build and build they would with the smoking opener of "Jack Straw." Then spring boarding into a "China/Rider" before a drip and oozy "Estimated." The fluttering dark jam is spun by Jerry, Bobby, and Phil brewing like three witches over a mixing pot. And instead of sliding into the familiar the band veers into a magnificent "Terrapin," which includes a quint jam before the tape cut in drums. The second set continues to cook with "The Other One" before a glorious "Standing on the Moon." Bobby ends the set with everyone's favorite weekend reminder "One More Saturday Night," which of course it wasn't because the Wolf was out on this night.
They did however manage to top this night with their New Years show. Thanks in part to the "Sugar Mags/Touch" opener and the first west coast "Dark Star" since the Greek on 7/13/84. Bobby jokes before "Victim," that he was informed that this is the start of a new "Dickhead," instead of decade. Unknowingly it was the start of something new for the Dead, as this would be the final New Years show that Brent Mydland.
I: Bertha, Good Lovin', Sugaree*, Walkin' Blues*, Jack A-Roe*, Masterpiece*, West LA*, Music*
II: Straw, China*, Rider*, Estimated*, Terrapin*, Drums*, Space, Will Take You Home*, Other One*, SOTM*, OMSN*, E: Baby Blue
*with Airto Moreiro

Monday, December 16, 2013

I Look And See Eternity Endless Rolling Skies

Today is the anniversary of the final time Branford Marsalis sat in with the Grateful Dead, which was in 1994. The truly amazing thing is that there is a hint of nostalgia in the show and specifically the beautiful "Eyes of the World," which Branford made a song of his own on 3/29/90. This version was of course later immortalized on the live Grateful Dead release "Without a Net." Download the Audience version HERE.
The first set has a couple of great versions of songs but the surprise of the show might be buried in a song that goes back to 1966 in "Minglewood." The energetic blues number stretches out to be close to ten minutes long. Everyone takes a solo in this version and Branford really smashes it, which really eggs on the rest of the band to stretch it like a piece of taffy. The solemn "So Many Roads" works well after "Minglewood," as Jerry goes for it at the end. It's very similar to the excellent version that was chosen for this years 30 Days Of The Dead, which came from the Boston Garden on 10/1/94. I love the eery rift that Bobby started with the delay, it's like it's roping you into the abysses. Similar to the triumphant "Minglewood," this "Eternity" breaths a life and essences which is holier then most. Bobby describes writing the song with legendary blues man Willie Dixon and not really liking how it came out but after doing some test runs the song clicked with him and I experienced the same hate/love relationship with this song. The dark spacey Ora of the song grasp me and of all the versions, this is the best. Branford and Jerry fiddle the gaping space in the song to the limit of its "endless rolling skies."
 From my 10/17/94 blog, I called that "Eyes" the best one since the Branford show and this one is a rekindling of that magic show from Spring '90. Similar to the Garden '94, this "Eyes" builds from to some faint tuning into magnificent twenty plus minutes of beauty. As the song wines down we hear Vince call for "Samba." The Dead used two channel microphones which with the pressing of a pedal could direct their voices only through the monitors, Phil still uses this with PLF and frequently calls out key changes. Vince must have missed the pedal as he pleads for "Samba please." The band then drops into a massive "Estimated," which Jerry and Branford trade licks as they explore the song. Before leaving stage for "Drums," they play a slow thick "He's Gone."
As always "Space" is when the band lets down their hair but this one is particularly pleasant because of the inter-winding of Branford and Jerry. A powerful "Other One," rolls into a truly glorious "Wharf Rat." It's really spectacular to listen to the fills that Branford spices up this mellow song with as the band clearly lift us up to "fly away." Bobby changes up horn players dream closer "Lovelight," as he opts for a raucous "Good Lovin'." Bare able to contain himself yet again Phil gushes about the evening's special guest before the most fitting encore for these graduates of the Acid Trips, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds."
I: Bucket, Cold Rain, Minglewood, So Many Roads, Childhood's End, Eternity, Don't Ease
II: Eyes, Samba, Estimated, He's Gone, Drums, Space, Other, Wharf Rat, Good Lovin', E: LSD
With Branford Marsalis except the Encore

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I Had One Of Those Feelings, I've Been There Before

After his last great appearance on 9/10/91, DeadHead's were left waiting and wondering if the great Branford Marsalis would ever grace the stage again. Well on this date in 1993, we finally got what we were waiting for, as Branford joined the Dead for their third and final night at the Los Angles Sports Arena. Download the Audience of the show HERE and let the magic surround you of Branford's fourth sit in with the Dead.
Branford is the third horn player to join the band in 1993, Ornette Coleman did twice (Yesterday's blog) and David Murray did on 9/22/93. This show confirms that Branford is king of the Saxophone sit ins. Marvelously playing in the spaces in between the band and letting loose when it is time to blow. The audience response to his first fill on "Hell in a Bucket" and after that he seems to have cart blanch to play what his heart desires. The band in returns gives him new challenges, there is no "Bird Song," "Eyes," "Estimated," "Lovelight," or "Dark Star" as there have been the other 3 times he sat in. (Not that there is anything wrong any of these song choices!) They have new tunes for them to try out with him like "So Many Roads," "Eternty," "Scarlet/Fire," and "Terrapin," which he only plays a portion of with the band. This show is leaps and bounds better show then the night beforehand, although yesterday's "China/Rider" smokes. You can tell by the title, which is the lyrical change in "Scarlet," that Branford in his sit-in gave the band a little extra pep. They had the feeling that this night was going to be special.
This summer Furthur had two special guest sit in with them at different gigs: Trey Anastasio and Branford Marsalis. I am a big Phish fan also but the Red Rocks Branford show is so much more fluent and upbeat. The encore of that show as "Brokedown," which I wasn't so sure about saxophone on. Yet after hearing it there is pure raw beauty in the fills and it truly shines. If you'd like to go back and listen to it, you can find it HERE.
Copyright 1993 Robbi Cohn/Dead Images
I: Bucket, Loser, Rooster, So Many Roads, Ton Thumbs, Eternity, Bertha
II: Scarlet, Fire, Corinna*, Terrapin, Drums, Space, Miracle, SOTM, NFA, E: Brokedown
With Branford Marsalis except*

Monday, December 9, 2013

Dream Night Wind

On this date in 1993, the Grateful Dead welcomed several special guest to the stage at the LA Sports Arena. Airto Moreira and Flora Purim joined Mickey and Billy on the "Drums" jam during the second set before the great jazz musician Ornette Coleman joined them for the remainder of the set. Download an Audience of the show HERE.
The second set opens with a blazing "China/Rider." They next slip into a dark expansive "Estimated," who's jam hints and flirts with "Eyes" before landing on the final "Wave to the Wind." I have always felt that this song was under used by the Grateful Dead because Phil was reluctant to call one of his numbers. This is why DeadHead's had to start the "We want Phil" chants to counter act his reluctance. Thanks to the "Wave to the Wind," there is a fresh breath given to "He's Gone," which clocks in at 15 minutes.
If you normally skip "Drums/Space" stick with this one because there is some enchanting singing by Flora on "Drums." Then Ornette really sparks the "Space" jam, which is twice as long as the one the next night. Even as the band slow builds "The Other One," Ornette stays with the ambient soul blowing notes. A pretty good "Wharf Rat" sets-up the perfect saxophone song "Lovelight." Ornette sparkles as he hits the songs theme. Stay tune because the next night has another special guest.
I: Touch, Wang Dang, Peggy-O, Queen Jane, Broken Arrow, Loose Lucy, Easy Answers, Don't Ease
II: China, Rider, Estimated, Wave to the Wind, He's Gone, Drums*, Space**, Other One**, Wharf Rat**, Lovelight** E: Liberty
*With Airto Moreira & Flora Purim **With Ornette Coleman

Sunday, November 17, 2013

You Were Meant For Me

On this date, a very special Hunger Benefit at Loyola College in Chicago, featuring Bob Weir and Friends got a stripped down version of the Grateful Dead 35 years ago. This acoustic show featured a couple of cool bust outs and punctuated what might have been the best year of shows in Chicago. Between 1/30, 1/31, 5/16, 5/17 and the three shows surrounding this acoustic show, the Grateful Dead blew away the Windy City. (This could be a sick box set Mr. Lemeuix.) Download this acoustic show HERE.
For the show Bob's special guest are Jerry, Phil and Mickey, but the show starts with just Bob and Jerry. Bob opens with a song he liked playing acoustical, and was a standard for his early Ratdog days, "Whinin' Boys." Then Jerry sings the folk standard made popular by the Kingston Trio, "Tom Dooley." The interesting thing, is this is the only time Jerry ever preformed this song. Him and Bobby played it this one time and never reprised it at another gig. The country and western portion of the gig begins with the first "Deep Elem" since December of 1970 and another Bobby favorite "KC Moan." An elegant "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," comes next. Although this song was a regular part of Garcia's rotation, it's the first time the rest of the band mates play this song, which the Grateful Dead wouldn't debut until 1987. The curious case of "Big Boy Pete" is next up. Pigpen lead the band through this song twice in 1966, twice in 1969, and twice in 1970. Then it disappeared until this show and then was busted out at the Henry Kaiser Center on 11/21/85 for one final time. The next unique call is "Jack A-Roe," a song that was debuted in May of '77 and then shelved after playing it 7 times. During its time off the song got tightened up from the spacey jaunt to the more of a bluegrass feel from which the song originated. Three nights later, the Grateful Dead would follow suit and bust out "Jack A-Roe" after opening the second set with 25 minute jam, which was blogged about last year HERE. The boys discuss and decide on playing "Dark Hollow," for the first time since 1971 and then end the set with the Buddy Holly hit "Oh Boy." This is the second "Oh Boy," the first one was on 4/6/71 at the Manhattan Center, and is a rocking closer to a fun acoustical afternoon set from the boys.
Whinin' Boys Blues, Tom Dooley, This Time Forever, Deep Elem, KC Moan, Knockin', Big Boy Pete, Jack A-Roe, Dark Hollow, Oh Boy
This is an extremely fitting show considering the Record Store acoustical release of 4/18/70, which you can buy on CD from DeadNet, and the rumors of the new 6 CD box set that should be announced before Thanksgiving. Two complete JGB shows and the acoustic Weir/Wasswerman set that opened each show from the Fall of 1989. Jambase broke this news and according to Walmart, it will be in stores on 12/17, just in time for Christmas.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Mister Death

Today we go back to my favorite Grateful Dead Halloween gig, which comes from 1991. It's my favorite because there is some excellent playing by the boys, the song selection is primo, and the emotional read by Kesey makes the show special, unique, and heartfelt. Download the soundboard HERE and HERE.
The show opens with a fantastic "Help/Slip/Franks," which is very Phil heavy but is punctuated by some very cool calling and answering playing between Jerry and Bruce. This interplay is also prevelent on the "Let It Grow," where Jerry and Bruce play off of each other with Phil laying bombs. 
A rather joyous and uplifting "Scarlet Begonias" opens the second set. There is a playfulness that one can hear in Jerry's voice. The "Fire" is where the set starts to turn dark, although Bobby lets loose on the "Truckin'/Spoonful." 
The "Dark Star" tone is one of sorrow, esspecially considering that the band lost their long time collabrator Bill Graham on October 25th. After a Huey Lewis concert, Bill and his girlfriend died in a helicopter crash. If I can suggest one Rock and Roll book to read, try "Bill Graham Presents," it is compiled by Robert Greenfield who also wrote the Jerry Garcia oral biography "Dark Star." It's after the verse that the second special guest of the night comes appears. Ken Kesey addresses the crowd about the recent passing of Bill Graham and mentions his generiousity of spirit for donating a bronze relief structure at the summit of Mount Pisgah in memory of Kesey's late son Jed. Kesey was obviously very touched by the gesture, which is why 6 years after his passing, he cites the memorial. Then Kesey recites this poem:
(Buffalo Bill) by ee cummings
Buffalo Bill's 

                     who used to 
                     ride a watersmooth-silver
and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat 

he was a handsome man
                                                             and what i want to know is
how do you like your blueeyed boy
Mister Death
The rest of the set can be read as a tribute to Bill Graham in the song selections like "This maybe be the Last Time," "Standing on the Moon," and "Not Fade Away." The first show the Dead played after Bill Graham died, they encored with "Knockin' on Heavens Door" as a tribute to their friend. But on this night the Dead conclude the show with their last ever performance of "Werewolves of London." As Jerry started on Halloween 1987, he changes the chorus to address the place that they are playing by singing "Werewolves of Oakland."
I: Help, Slip, Franks, Rooster, Loser, Tom Thumbs, Let It Grow
II: Scarlet, Fire, Truckin', Spoonful*, Dark Star*, Jam**, Drums, Space*, Dark Star*, Last Time*, SOTM, T Stones, NFA E: Werewolves*
*With Gary Duncan **Also Ken Kesey

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Grateful Dead The Last One

In 1974, The Grateful Dead played their last gig and welcomed special guest Mickey Hart to stage. Now some of you are counting the flaws with that sentence, and it is true but first let me explain. Mickey left the band after the 2/18/71 Port Chester gig, and the band never asked him back or looked for another second drummer. The band grew in leaps and bounds, and then when they essential found their identy as a band in 1972, Mickey was long gone. I always thought that the line of "China Doll" was a reference to Mickey's departure when Jerry sang, "Stranger ones have come by here before they flew away." So by 1974 the memory of Mickey Hart was lost on his fellow bandmates and especially his former partner Billy Kreutzmann. 
On the afternoon of the 20th, Mickey showed up at Winterland with his drum set in the back of his Buick and everyone but Kreutzmann was cool with him sitting in. Billy claimed that they were now a one drummer band and didn't need him but his fellow mates  and the crew talked Billy into letting him jam the second and third sets. The band isn't the only ones excited to see Mickey is here, at the beginning is "Seastones," you'll here Mickey setting up and talking to the crowd. 
Download the soundboard show HEREHERE, and HERE. Reunited the band opens up the second set with a song Mickey co-wrote with Bobby and Hunter, "Playin'." This song is a prime example of how much the Grateful Dead had progressed since Mickey's last gig, which also happens to be the night they debuted the song. The four minute song had transformed into a musical vehicle, which they played for 46 minutes earlier in the year on 5/21. Drastic changes from Port Chester 1971. This version doesn't get that far, because the drummers quickly rekindle they musical relationship on a "Drums" solo. The heavy backbeat "Not Fade" comes from and goes back into the drummers solos. An explosive "Other One" storms out of the solo, before a gorgeous "Wharf Rat." Listen as Jerry sings the final verse, Keith is an all star playing a monstrous electric keyboard flurry, when Jerry clearly plays "You know he had to die" rift from "Cryptical" in the background. As the Mickey composed "Main Ten" jam victoriously leads them into the concluding "Playin' in the Band," which pretty much signifies that Mickey was no longer a special guest and officially back in the band.
I: Cold Rain, Mama Tried, Deal, BIODTL, Loser, Jack Straw, Jed, El Paso, Brokedown, China Cat, Rider, Around
II: Playin', Drums, NFA, Drums, Other One, Wharf Rat, Playin'
III: Good Lovin', Roses, Promised, Eyes, Stella, Sugar Mags E: JBG, Half Step, Bid You Goodnight
Set II & III with Mickey Hart

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Future Here, We Are It

In 1988, ten years after the Grateful Dead played in front of the Sphinx, the boys were taught how to walk like an Egyptian by The Bangles on this night in New Orleans. The boys didn't really play the 1988 hit with their special guest but did play "Iko, Iko" and "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" with The Bangles and The Neville Brothers.
The first time special guest that sat in with The Grateful Dead in 1988 where all big radio stars of the day. Bruce Hornsby, Los Lobos' David Hildago, Suzanne Vega, Hall & Oates, and now the Bangles where big pop stars who jammed with the Dead. The Bangles broke through in 1986 with "Different Light," which featured "Manic Monday" and "Walk Like an Egyptian." Yet The Bangles were at their peak of their fame in 1988 because of their LP "Everything." This featured the number 1 hit song "Eternal Flame." On this night girls opened up cross town for Wham, then hustled over to Keifer Lakefront Arena for their guest spot. Leaving their instruments behind and provided harmonies with the Neville's for the encore. They did the same thing this same year for Tom Petty on an unreleased track while he recorded "Full Moon Fever."
The Dead show before the guest appearance is above average for 1988. The soundboard of the show can be downloaded HERE and HERE. In the first set Bobby gives us an alternative to the cowboy combo, when he doubles up on the rockers with "Beat It On Down The Line/Greatest Story." Then the first set closes with a quaint "Bird Song." The "Scarlet/Fire" is energetic and if you notice, Jerry gives a hoot just before the start of transition jam. The musical direction durning "Space" is clearly geared toward "The Other One," but right as Phil seems ready to drop the hammer, Brent chimes in with "I Will Take You Home." This is a touch slower and more tender for you Brent fans out there. Then the band comes around for a potent "Other One." Dispite a lyrical mistake, "Wharf Rat" is pretty touching and the "Throwing Stones/ Not Fade" is a solid closer. After the encore Jerry says "Thanks to the Neville's and Bangles."
I: Bucket, TLEO, Rooster, Loser, BIODTL, Greatest, Peggy-O, Masterpiece, Bird Song
II: Scarlet, Fire, Estimated, Eyes, Drums*, Space, I Will Take You Home, Other One, Wharf Rat, T Stones, NFA E: Iko**, Knockin'**
* With The Neville Brothers **Also with The Bangles

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Everybody Must Get Stoned

Back in 1994, the Grateful Dead were in the mist of their final run at MSG, meanwhile Bob Dylan and his band were in the middle of their own run uptown at the Beacon Theatre. The 17th was a night off for Bob Dylan and company, so he came out to see the Dead. One of my friend was backstage at this show and saw Dylan sitting on a couch talking to fellow musicians Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young. The three could have been having one of the most intense conversation ever, oh to be a fly on the wall.
The Dead came on stage know who was "in the crowd" and put one a show for them. Download a great FOB Audience HERE.
This is a very good show for the mid 90's and included what could be the best "Eyes of the World" since the Branford show. A very fitting tune for the threesome backstage there. Post "Space" the band temped Bob Dulan by completely destroying a version of his classic "Watchtower." Jerry's guitar coupled with Bob Weir's vocals, is what I'm guessing, gave Bob Dylan a reason to get excited. But first they close out the set with an emotional and hot "Dew." Durning the encore, Dylan grabbed one of Bob Weir's guitar to join the band on stage for "Rainy Day Woman." This could have been one of the last truly spontaneous collaborations and moments at a Grateful Dead concert. Though this is not the last collaboration between Dylan and Jerry. On 6/25/95, Jerry joined Bob on stage for "Train to Cry" and "Rainy Day Woman." Watch the video below and you can tell no rehearsal or planning went into the encore. Its just pure joy.
I: Midnight Hour, Peggy-O, Minglewood, Jed, Eternity, Friend, Promised
II: Eyes, Woman, Crazy Fingers, Estimated, Drums, Space, Wheel, Watchtower, Dew E: Rainy Day*
* With Bob Dylan
The Grateful Dead will be taking part in Record Store Day, which takes place on Black Friday 11/29. They will be releasing an incognito acoustic show from 4/18/1970. 
Furthur more Dogfish American Beauty hit stores a bars on 10/15, to check avialibility in your area go HERE.

Friday, October 11, 2013

In And Out Of The Garden He Goes

"Stephen prosper in his time."
"St. Stephen" was debuted in June of 1968 and was a part of the Grateful Dead's third full length album "Aoxomoxoa." Like most of the songs from this album, besides "China Cat Sunflower," the song struggled to find a consistant spot in the Grateful Dead's song rotation. Yet when they started playing the song it was a hit with the band and the audience alike. The band paired the song with two songs that completely juxasposed the rigorous song structure of "St. Stephen." The "Dark Star" and "The Eleven" sandwich of "St. Stephen" was the core of their follow up album to "Aoxomoxoa," which was "Live Dead." The song flourished in the bands rotation through '69, '70, and into 1971 when it fell out of rotation. Some of the best versions come during this period with one really big exception, Woodstock 8/16/69. The band opened up the show with the song and mistakenly sang the third verse during the second verse break, making the whole song fall apart. 
"Where ever he goes the people all complain." 
At the Grateful Dead's Halloween show in 1971, which was officially released as "Dick's Picks Volume 2," "St. Stephen" was played for what seemed to be the last time. The band avoided the song. At one show in Utica, NY on 3/21/73, Phil confronts some fans that are demanding the song. After the band finishes "Row Jimmy," Phil says, "For all you St. Stephen fans, we don't do that song anymore! The bitter truth." Then Bobby adds, "We had to quit doing it because you liked it too much." 
"One man gathers what another man spills"
After the Grateful Dead hiatus of 1975, the band rekindled their love with certain songs and the two biggies were from "Aoxomoxoa," "Cosmic Charlie" and "St. Stephen." This re-introduction of "St. Stephen" from 6/9/76, is commemorated on the official release "Road Trips Volume 4 Number 5." The song was part of the regular rotation throughout the late seventies. It is a focal point of one of the most famous Dead shows ever, Cornell '77. One of my favorite versions comes from this era, 12/30/77, which is used as a filler on "Dick's Picks 10." My other favorite is from 3/21/70 at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY. 
"Saint Stephen will remain all he's lost he shall regain"
"St. Stephen" was played three times in the fall of '83 and today is the 30th anniversary of the band playing the song for the first time since 1/10/79. They re-debuted the song at this concert, the first night of a two night run at MSG, and this was the first time that Brent Myland played the song live on stage. Download the soundboard of the show HERE and HERE. The song comes out of "Space" much like it used to come out of the spacey "Dark Star." It is my opinion that that is why the song didn't work for them. It would have been much better if they used it to get into "Drums/Space" like "Terrapin." They could have harnessed the energy of an "Estimated" or "Woman" to power through the song before jamming into "Drums."
"Stephen would answer if he only knew how"
On Halloween (again) in 1983, "St Stephen" was played for the final time on stage by the Grateful Dead. Throughout the 90's the band used the song as a soundcheck song to torture the Deadhead fan base. The rumors in the 90's, were that they would play it again when they did their first run at the new Boston Garden, which was set to open in 1996, but that of course never happened. There is "This May Be The Last Time" from the LA Sports Arena on 12/08/93, out of "Space," Bobby starts the chord progression, which is exactly the same as "St. Stephen." Jerry and Vince tease "St. Stephen" throughout the intro jam of "Last Time." This jam gives fans a taste of what "St. Stephen" would have sounded like with the Midi but the fans were still left asking "What will be the answer to the answer man?"

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Old & In The Way

Obviously David Grisman is a fan of the blog. After talking about his first ever guest appearance with the Grateful Dead, he has made two complete Old & In The Way shows available for download HERE. The two shows go back forty years and selections from these two shows went into the recording of the original Old & In the Way album which was the best selling bluegrass album ever.
Furthurmore, the wonderful TRI concert from 8/3/2012, "Move Me Brightly," is now available pre-order on DVD from Amazon. This was the beautiful musical celebration of what would have been Jerry's 70th birthday, which you can be reminded of HERE.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Dust Off Those Rusty Strings

Today is the anniversary of the final show from 1975, which you can download a soundboard of HERE and HERE. After this show, the Grateful Dead went on their longest hiatus of their entire 30 year career. The hiatus was 9 months and is longer than the 86 Jerry coma and the 92 doctor orders time off the band later took.
"Let's have another party like this again sometime" Phil exclaims as the show comes to a close. If the band wasn't so high on LSD maybe they would have understood and not just heard what Phil was saying. After this show the Grateful Dead hiatus officially started. The two albums, "Blues for Allah" and "Steal Your Face," that the worked on after the 10/20/74 The Last One show were set to be released. They played 4 gigs in 1975 and this was the last one and there were no more tours or plans in the works. This is were Phil's Heineken years started. Phil didn't have solo projects on the horizon, because Phil and Ned had released "Seastones," and so he spent his time drinking. In his book he talks about going to the bar virtually all day and night long. He essentially was Norm from Cheers, a reference that some will have to look up. He saw the days of his life disappear through the green bottle and had no ability to stop or control his life till the the Grateful Dead came back into his life and he had a sense and direction again.
The special guest that sat if for the first time on stage, Matthew Kelly and he played on "Music" and "Beat It On Down The Line." A life long friend of Bobby, Matthew played makes an appearance on "Wake of the Flood" and at that time a member of Kingfish with Bobby. He later guested on the album "Shakedown Street" and appear with the band for the best version of "Miracle" turning the "Closing of Winterland" show. Kelly was also part of Bobby side projects like Bobby & The Midnights and Ratdog.
Help, Slip, Music*, TLEO, BIODTL*, Franklin's, Big River, Roses, Truckin', Eleven jam, Drums, Stronger Than Dirt, NFA, GDTRFB, Saturday Night

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Truckin' Up To Buffalo

Today we go back 40 years for a show from the War Memorial in Buffalo, NY. This is the final September '73 gig, which was the first ever run of shows with a special guest. After recording "Wake of the Flood" in August, the band played 9 straight shows with Martin Fierro and Joe Ellis sitting in on horns. The next time that the Dead did a run of shows with a special guest is 1987, when they toured with Bob Dylan. The first show of this run was featured last year so download the soundboard of the last show HERE and HERE.
Fall 1973 is one of those brilliant eras in Grateful Dead history. The "Wake of the Flood" songbook was being used on a nightly basis providing a fresh atmosphere to each night's festivities. The first set is the perfect example of this freshness with the sparkling versions of "Here Comes Sunshine," "Looks Like Rain," "The Race is On," and the slow steady "Row Jimmy." The train accelerates down the line for "China/Rider" and the rambunctious "Around and Around." 
The second set is a gem. The set starts with a brief Garcia tease of "Cold Rain & Snow" for the Buffalo crowd. There are two season in Buffalo; winter and the Fourth of July like the wonder 1989 show that was released as "Truckin Up To Buffalo." A beautiful "Playin'" starts out the set. By now "Playin'" had really hit its stride. Garcia plays over Weir, who caps the Phil lines, who keeps up with Billy, all while Keith weavers his way through the boys patterns till kicking out of the monster jam. The final Grateful Dead version of "Sing Me Back Home" comes next and this song would only be preformed four more times by Garcia and all in 1982. A pretty common combo of a slow and steady "He's Gone" moves into an energetic "Truckin'." Phil comes out of harmonies to punchuate two lines during "Truckin'." First he exclaims "Truckin' right up to here in Buffalo" and then compounds it with "Sometimes the lights are shining on you, and you too" to the Buffalonian fans. Then the special guest Martin Fierro and Joe Ellis join the band for the rest of the show, starting with "Eyes." They play horns a lot differently then Branford does 17 years later, they don't riff instead they play it like a horn section. They add the same flare to the "Let it Grow" section of "Weather Report" until it collimates in a flurry of crashing symbols and horn whales. Bobby briefly revives the intro to "Weather Report" as the band closes the tune. The horns really add some pizzaz to the "Sugar Magnolia." Between Bobby, Donna, and the horns the "Sunshine Daydream" really sizzles. In a very cool way this brings the show full circle from the opener of "Here Comes Sunshine" to "Sunshine Daydream." Ironic for Buffalo! (Half my family is from Buffalo so I'm just poking fun.)
I: HC Sunshine, BIODTL, Deal, LL Rain, Jed, Mexicali, Loser, Big River, BE Woman, Race Is On, Row Jimmy, El Paso, China, Rider, Around
II: Playin', Sing Me Back, Uncle, He's Gone, Truckin', Eyes*, WRS*, Sugar Mags* E: Saturday Night*
*With Martin Fierro and Joe Ellis

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Wheel Is Turning

Straight out of the WTF-Did-That-Really-Happen file, the Rainforrest benefit on final night of nine night run at MSG. The benefit cost about twice that of a normal ticket and featured guest spots by Jack Casady, Mick Taylor, and Baba Olatunji. Then there were some music stars at the time Bruce Hornsby, Suzanne Vega, and a group that was pretty far off the GD radar Hall & Oates. Then what Rainforrest benefit would be complete without a video message from Kermit The Frog and Animal. Unfortunately Animal didn't show for "Drums" with Mickey, Billy and Baba. Download the audience HERE.

Jerry's voice was pretty shot after the nine nights at the Garden, so Bobby and the guest do most the singing. Jerry sits back with guitar playing tasty licks over the Suzanna Vega and Hall & Oates tunes, which is pretty surreal for someone who got subjected to Z100 ad nauseam in the 80's. Then there is the correlation between Mick Taylor's spot and David Hildalgo's sit in two month earlier. They played "West LA" and "Rooster" with both guitarist, although Mick Taylor seems to take a bit more of a dominate roll then Hildago did. Baba Olatunji sings a rainforrest homage during the "Drums" break. Then the encore sees Phil realizing the double bass is redundant and he allows Jack Casady provide the thumps for "Good Lovin'/Knockin'." 
Now there is some truth to the rumor that my favorite diner is Tom's Diner, but it is not the same one that Suzanne Vega wrote the song for. Mine is by my old apartment in Brooklyn on Washington Ave, and her's is in Northern Manhattan and is ironically the same iconic one from Seinfeld. There is also no truth to the rumor that after playing with Hall & Oates, that Bobby wanted to replace "Woman are Smarter" with "Maneater." 
I: Iko, Stranger, West LA#, Rooster#, Box, Ramble, Masterpiece, Don't Ease
II: Chinese Bones$, Neighborhood Girls$, Crazy Fingers, Woman, Every Time You Go Away%, What's Going On%, Drums^, Space, Wheel, T Stones, NFA*
E: Good Lovin'%*+, Knockin'$%*+
#With Mick Taylor
$With Suzanne Vega
%With Hall & Oates
^With Baba Olatunji
*With Bruce Hornsby
+With Jack Casady and without Phil Lesh

HERE is the link to Furthur's show from Red Rocks with Branford Marsalis. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

For The Price Of A Taxi Ride

Today we go back 20 years to a Garden show with two special guest. The first is the jazz saxophone extradionary David Murray and the second is blues harmonica player James Cotton. Don't let the stigmatism of the fact that this is a 1993 show prevent you from downloading this Soundboard HERE and HERE
They open with "Help/Slip/Franks" and this one is like the perfect tomato sauce, just the right amount of salt and sugar. The "Franklin's" is really hot even though, Jerry sings the "God save that child" verse twice. I guess it makes it twice as nice. Then there is a spicy "Minglewood." The "Ramble On Rose" is just like New York City, and the Garden crowd appreciate the shout out. David Murray joins the band for the set closer "Bird Song." This version and his horn playing really takes the music into the abstract. The deep horn playing, Garcia's fluttering guitar and Vince's dark phasing are spectacular parts of this "Bird Song."
Someone told me that they thought that this "Easy Answers" was the best one ever. I'm not gonna touch that one, just putting it out there. I will venture to say that this is the best "Lazy River Road" ever. Despite Jerry flubbing the lyrics, the sweet horn playing ranks this one right at the top. The sad horn notes at the end, get to me every time. The now standard "Estimated/Dark Star" for guest appearances by a horn player, leads them into "Drums/Space." This collaboration made such an impact on David Murray that after Jerry passed, he decided to record a tribute album to the band. The album called DARK STAR: the music of the Grateful Dead was released in 1996 and the centerpiece of the album is the "Estimated/Dark Star" combo. "Wharf Rat" is pieced together out of "Space" and is truly an eloquent version. James Cotton emerges to play harp at the end of "Throwing Stones" and blows it down on "Lovelight." 
Both the images for this blog were taken by Lazy Lightning 55, whom you can find on Twitter and who post the best fan video's in the world on YouTube. Now I'm going to go listen to that "Lazy River Road" again.
I: Help, Slip, Franks, Minglewood, Ramble, Masterpiece, Bird Song*
II: Easy Answers, Lazy River Road*, Estimated*, Dark Star*, Drums, Space*, Wharf Rat*, T Stones**, Lovelight** E: I Fought The Law
*With David Murray **Also James Cotton

Friday, September 20, 2013

To Rock My Soul

Picking up right were we left off yesterday. We go to the final night of the September 1970 run at the Fillmore East for this acoustic/electric show. I remember this show being one of the first acoustic/electric shows that I got my hands on, even though Harper College was the most widely traded 1970 show before it was Dick's Picks 8. And I was torn last year on this date between this 1970 show and the 1991 "Help/Slip/Fire" show, so I'm glad that I'm now able to attend to it. So download the Soundboard of the show HERE and HERE.
This show is starkly different from the loosely goosey show that they played the night beforehand, which was yesterday's blog. The infinite space that they played in the night before hand is replaced with tightness and the sweet sounds of hollow acoustics. The audience was ecstatic to see the acoustics out because "Workingman's" was released in May. "American Beauty" wouldn't be released for another two months so its really interested to see how songs like "Friend," Ripple," and "Truckin'" are played. "Truckin'" gets a good shout for "living on reds vitamin C and Cocaine," instead of the high school quote line, "What a long strange trip it's been." The "To Lay Me Down" might be the sweetest version of the song without a crushing crescendo at the end of it. Jerry does strap on a turned down electric for "Cumberland" and "New Speedway," which Bobby stays on acoustic for before ending the set with a magnificent "Brokedown." The mandolin players on the set are David Nelson and David Grisman. This is the first time that Grisman played with the Dead, although he had been working in the studio with them earlier this month.
Grisman and Garcia's relationship goes back to the Bill Monroe bluegrass festival in the early 60's. Before meeting each had heard stories of each other's musicianship. In 1973, the two formed Old And In The Way with Peter Rowan, Vasser Clemons and John Kahn. It was on this bands rehearsing and touring that Jerry came up with the Dawg nickname for Grisman, which he still carries. Him and Jerry had a falling out due to the business dealings with Old And In The Way and wouldn't rekindle until the 90's. If you listen to this shows "Rosalie McFall" and the one from the "Pizza Tapes" the mandolin and Jerry parts sound like nothing really changed in the 22 years between versions.
The electric set is opens with a fine version of "Casey Jones" and is quickly followed up with a psychedelic "China/Rider." The set looks like it is about to open up when they start the Pigpen sung "Good Lovin'," but they instead quickly transition into the final Pigpen "Big Boy Pete." The Dead would only preform the song one more time at that crazy show from 11/21/85. They do use Pigpen to release some tension when they bust into "Easy Wind." Bob and Jerry's guitars crash into each other as Phil covers the blues beat. Then there are some interesting primitive versions of "Sugar Mags" and "Attics," that make waves. Like the previous night the "Not Fade Away" allows the band to branch its wings and tease songs. After completely losing the song structure the drummers pull them temporarily back to "Not Fade" as Bobby starts playing the instrumental "Bid you Goodnight" coda that is usually at the end of "Going Down The Road." This is about 3 weeks before the band debuted "Going Down the Road." Eventually the drummers do pull them back into "Not Fade" and Phil picks up "Cation" out of the vibrant ending. Pigpen watches his language during the "Cation," which gets swallowed up in the "Feedback," before closing the night with the earlier tease, "And We Bid You Goodnight."
Acoustic: Uncle John's, Deep Elem, Friend, Big RR, Dark Hollow, Ripple, To Lay Me Down, Truckin', Rosalie McFall, Cumberland, Speedway, Brokedown
Electric: Casey Jones, China, Rider, Candyman, Top of the World, Good Lovin', Big Boy Pete, Uncle, Easy Wind, Sugar Mags, Attics, Mama Tried, NFA, Cation, Feedback, Bid You Goodnight

Wednesday night at the Ryman Theatre, the Americana Musical Society gave Robert Hunter a lifetime achievement award. After accepting the award he played "Ripple."

Thursday, September 19, 2013

But You Drive Me Back

On this date in 1970, the Grateful Dead played an excellent show at the Fillmore East on Second Avenue in  New York City. Download the second half of the Soundboard HERE.

This show is packed with the dampness of New York sweats. This snap shot captures the playfulness of the Dead and demonstrates the energy that could be created on any given night. The "Dark Star" that opens this copy is quant and patience. Before developing and building in a monstrous "Feeling Groovy Jam," which perfectly descends itself between the two verses. The "Dark Star" is hailed as one of the best of 1970 but I'm not going to make that declaration.
The New York night heats up as the band picks out the closing note of "Datk Star," as the anticipation of what will come next. Garcia gently drops into "St Stephen," which immediately progresses into a raucous event. To keep the energy pumping they go into "Not Fade Away," which features two playful teases of "Darkness, Darkness" and "China Cat" before progressing back into "Not Fade." The "Not Fade/Darkness" combo could have been a nod to the loss the night beforehand of Jimi Hendrix by the music world. Bobby really lets loose at the end of "Not Fade" with Pigpen edging him on. The band gets behind Pigpen for an excellent "Lovelight." As the band opens up the song to allow Pigpen to rant and rave, Pigpen ponders people's relationship. This causes him to ask the question, "Are you going to Fuck?" The audience and band members all seem to gasp, laugh and smile as this is the first time that it was said during a GD concert. In less then 5 months it would be a regular part of the song "Wharf Rat," but at this time it made Bobby step up and ask, "Pigpen did you say Fuck?" To which Pigpen makes no apologies for. For here the "Lovelight" ends in a furry, which causes Bobby to loss his voice. Phil and Pigpen explain why the evening set would not be featuring an encore by the band, but that the Younblood's would fill in and cap the night with "Get Together."
Dark Star, St Stephen, NFA, Darkness Jam, China Cat jam, NFA, Lovelight, Get Together*
*The Youngbloods

Just for your information, the Garcia Archives have just remastered a tour Legion of Mary to be released as Garcia Volume 3, which you can pre-order HERE
Furthurmore or not anymore. Furthur has decided that they will go on hiatus in 2014. So catch them while you can. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Used To Be The Heart Of Town

In the land of the night, the Ship of the Sun is driven across the sky by the Grateful Dead
On this date, the best of the Grateful Dead shows from Egypt occurred on this date 35 years ago. Download a matrix copy the show HERE, HERE, and HERE. You might wonder about the matrix, does that mean there was a taper there? Yes there is an audience recording that you can download HERE, if you wish. There were about 2,000 fans that made the voyage with the band to Egypt and there are stories of people selling their cars to finance their trip. I personally would have been mad that I went there and didn't get a "Dark Star." Especially someone like Bill Walton who three months later would have been working, and missed to Closing of the Winterland gig.
The show opens with a hopping "Bertha/Good Lovin'." The "LL Rain" features a snarly meow by Donna, when Bobby sings the "Street cats making love" line. Bobby's experimental slide playing had markedly improved by this time as you'll hear on "Row Jimmy" and later on "Minglewood." Also before this "Minglewood," you'll hear Bobby sing to the Sphinx, "I was born in the desert raised in the lions den." To which Bill exclaims twice, "Make it good!" Then they close the set with the song that was played strongly both times this weekend, "Deal."
They moved the Hamza el-Dim set to be in between sets so that they could better transition into their second set vibe. Listening to his set it reminds me very much of the music I hear when doing Yoga, peaceful, meaningful, and pleasing. They link "Ollin Arrangeed" with another mystical song "Fire on the Mountain." Then seem to tease "Sunshine Daydream" before the "Iko Iko." There is a very sly move at the end of the "Miracle" jam, where Jerry starts fingering the beginning of "All Over Now" as the band piece that song together. The "Shakedown" is fluent but the band hasn't played that song enough to really make it reach it's full potential. The "Rhythm Devils/Space" moves into an excitable "Truckin'." Phil seems to blow a vocal chord on his backgrounds. From the salty to the sweet the band plays a breathy "Stella Blue." Jerry sings this song will all the dedication and heart fullness that the band envisioned the whole weekend would have, instead of the "broken dreams" it had. This could have been the best "Stella Blue" since '73, if Jerry didn't bust into the song's break half a verse earlier. Though he reprised the missing lines the verse sounds awkward. Then this was the only show to get an encore.
Originally there was suppose to be 2 shows in Egypt and this one got added later. This show correlated with a lunar eclipse of the moon, while they were on stage. This may have contributed to the turn in fortune and makes the quote from the Tibetan Book of the Dead, found at the top of the blog, a reality.
I: Bertha, Good Lovin', Candyman, LL Rain, Row Jimmy, El Paso, Ramble, Minglewood, Deal
II: Ollin*, Fire, Iko, Miracle, All Over Now, Sunrise, Shakedown, Drums, Space, Truckin', Stella Around E: Saturday Night
*With Hamza el-Dim

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Crickets And Cicadas Sing

The origin of playing exotic location is said to have implanted on the Europe '72 trip, when the band visited Stonehenge. The band pontificated the vibes that they would get from the location and how that would play out through their music. Sights like Stonehenge, Easter Island and the pyramids all got mentioned as possible destinations. 
After a person from the GD offices visited the pyramids, the idea got rekindled in 1977. In March of 1978, Phil Lesh flew to Egypt and met with heads of states to establish the availability of this idea. Shockingly the Egyptian ministers were receptive of the idea of the Dead playing at the base of the pyramids. His one request was that traditional Egyptian music be represented at the concert. The head of state is how Hamza el-Dim was introduced to the band and brought on stage. 
This show is definintely different. Maybe it was the ora of the Sphinx that was domineering over the stage or maybe it was the off kilter time signature of "Ollin Arrageed" but this show had its problems. There is a rocking transition from "Ollin Arrangeed" into the fitting "Tell the folks back home this is the Promised Land calling and the poor boy on the line." Then the set ends with a jaunting "Miracle" and  blazing "Stagger Lee." Jerry is vocally in fire for this one and finishes the set with a string of power chords. 
The second set opens and seemingly ends "Jack Straw." It was a stirring version until they hit "Jack Straw from Wichita" line and the levels of half the band drops off leaving Garcia flapping in the wings. In the background you can faintly hear Bobby plow through the rest of the song as Jerry drops off completely. There is some salvation in the "Ship of Fools" and the unique sound of Keith's electric piano.  The "Estimated/Eyes" is pretty lackluster. There is an element missing from this popular combo, which is Keith's keys. His out of tune piano is nonexistence in the mix and so this version muddies along. I wish that they kept it up so this version could be distinctive like Dylan's "Tom Thumbs." For the first time "Terrapin" gets tapped out of "Space." The band wouldn't do this again until 7/7/84. Jerry forgets some of the lyrics and there is a bit of that slow down then speed up pace to this one, though the peak is outstanding. The highlight of the set is the closer, "Sugar Mags." Bobby and Donna thrive in the trade offs of "Sunshine Daydream," and you can download this show HERE and HERE.
I: Ollin*, Promised, FOTD, Mama Tried, Big River, Loser, Miracle, Stagger Lee
II: Straw, Ship, Estimated, Eyes, Drums, Space, Terrapin, Sugar Mags
*With Hamza el-Dim

Saturday, September 14, 2013

I Was Born In The Desert

In high school I had heard stories of Egypt '78 and they were not very favorable. The stories were that the Dead went there with grandiose plans, only to disappoint themselves and that their big mistake was not bringing Keith's piano tuner. This ruined the whole experience for the band. So my first encounter with these shows was my first semester at St Lawrence, when I fellow DeadHead lent me his copy of the shows. I listened while copying them from Geoff's CD and I didn't feel as bad about them as the band did. They didn't jump to the top of my list either. There all sorts of sound issues with my copy but I could pick out the out-of-tune piano because Keith mostly played his electric piano (check out the solo on"They Loved Each Other.") Then there was the "Ollin Arrangeed," which was a very cool hipnatic jam lead but the special guest Hamza el-Din. They were a very auspicious musical signature which would become more and more bluesy as the band members took over the direction of the song.
So many moons had past when the Grateful Dead finally came around to releasing the best of the Egypt trip along with the video. It was essentially the album that they soured on in 1978. The best of featured a black & white video of the band playing and is well worth the cost. A keen viewer will spot some filial faces in the crowd like Bill Walton and Ken Kesey. The trip also created some iconic images of Jerry like the one below and one were Jerry is riding a camel. You can download the first Egypt '78 show HERE and HERE, which happened 35 years ago today.
I: Ollin Arrangeed*, NFA, Uncle, TLEO, Minglewood, Peggy-O, BIODTL, Deal
II: Sugaree, Samson, Scarlet, Fire, Truckin', Other One, Drums, Space, Black Peter, Around
*with Hamza el-Din