"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, January 31, 2013

Busted Down On Bourbon Street

This is the anniversary of a very unspecial guest to the Grateful Dead hotel room in New Orleans, Louisiana. In 1970, the Grateful Dead played two shows at The Warehouse, and after the first gig the police raided the band's hotel rooms with their only Probable Cause being that they were the Grateful Dead. The lazy detective got a search warrant at 1:50 AM to search 300 Bourbon Street, Room 2134, which they did that night.
The band was not the first rock band to be busted in a similar fashion by the NOPD and it did not have too much of a negative effect on the band but it did effect us the fan. The bust cemented the fact that Bear would be going to jail. With the Dead's sound guy being jailed, gaps start to appear in the Master's and Soundboards that are in circulation from the Dead's most frequently played year of 1970. Bear was forced to leave the band after the Valentine Day shows at the Fillmore East, which are now Dick's Picks 4, and didn't see the band again until they visited him in prison as I mentioned in DAYS BETWEEN 8/4.
So the Dead went on stage after Fleetwood Mac opened up with the cosmos in full mind-fucking effect on this date. Download the soundboard of the show HERE and HERE.
"And I ain't gonna be treated, this old way," Garcia sings for the bands opener of "Cold Rain and Snow." Bobby then announces that they are going to play an "ultra appropriate song," which "Mama Tried" is for the band at this moment. Afterwards Bobby wants to "Tell 'em as it is Weir" about how the bust is a conspiracy to keep musicians out of New Orleans, which he assures the audience that it won't deter them from returning. "Since action speaks louder than words" it did have an effect on the Dead who wouldn't return to New Orleans for more than 10 years after these shows.
The set gets kicking with the shaking cymbals that indicate the start of "Morning Dew." Garcia seems delivery of the lyric "I thought I saw a young man moan this morning" is very point, considering Jerry came into his hotel room the night before to find the cops riffling through his belongings. The "Mason's" is high energy rock 'n roll and despite the tightness of the song structure the band finds room to jam it out. It's really a wonder why they would only preform this song three more times. This stellar version is a victim of the tape flip, which cuts out part of the song. This quintessential version "Hard to Handle" exemplifies what Pigpen probably had in mind when he convinced the band to "Go electric." Listen to Pigpen howl as the band slips out of the loose blues into bold spacey jam. The band does a great job of pushing the limit of the song, until Pigpen is ready to revive the closing verse. In the background you'll hear the negative cosmos that surrounds the band catch up to Phil's bass amp. As static dominates the band's bassist. Like gremlins in water, once they've infiltrated they don't go back.
As the consummate professionals, the show must go on, so Bobby and Jerry bust out the acoustics to try and keep the audience happy. Bobby preforms a mini set of some of his favorite Country/Western songs. "Long Black Limousine," "Seasons of my Heart," "Saw Mill," the only Grateful Dead version of "Bound in Memories," and "The Race is On" rounds out Bobby's acoustic set. Jerry takes a verse of "Saw Mill" and moves from acoustic to electric guitars durning Bobby's set. Jerry then takes vocals on "Black Peter" which sly transfers into "Little Sadie," which is a treat because rarely did the band link songs acoustically. After "Around this World," Pigpen takes lead on his first ever acoustic song with the band, "Katie Mae." This song would be featured on "Bear's Choice" and is ironically debuted on the day that would be his downfall. The band closes out the set with an acoustic/electric "Cumberland Blues." "I don't know now, I just don't know, if I'm going back again."
The following day the Grateful Dead with members of Fleetwood Mac put on a benefit for show for the Grateful Dead legal mess. The band invited the arresting officers to attend and remarkably some of them did. Durning this show, Mountain Girl called the hotel for Jerry who was on stage. She had just gone into labour with the couple's first child Annabelle.
Cold Rain, Mama Tried, Dire Wolf, Big Boss Man, Morning Dew, Mason's, Uncle, Hard to Handle, Long Black Limousine, Seasons, Saw Mill, Bound In Memories, Race is On, Black Peter, Little Sadie, Around this World, Katie Mae, Cumberland

If you missed last weekend, which I did because I was on Island time last week. Joe Russo held an event at Brooklyn Bowl, called Almost Dead. Instead of me wasting ink, follow this LINK for description and download of the show. Those are my weekend plans!
January is the slowest month for Special Guest, but things will pick up now in February.

Monday, January 14, 2013

I Got A Friend Somewhere

On this date in 1967, the Grateful Dead played the Human Be-In at the Polo Grounds in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. A Gathering of the Tribes for a Human Be-In was a event that featured poets and local San Francisco bands of the time. The stage alternated between poetry reading by the likes of Allen Gingberg, Gary Synder and Timothy Leary and bands like Quicksilver, Big Brother, Airplane and the Dead.

The gathering of free spirits and hippies was an eye opening event for the band and specifically, Jerry Garcia. After coming down from 710, Jerry was awestruck, saying "There are so many of us." Later reflecting on the event he said, "It was all the people who were into dope of any sort." This was a much bigger scale event than the Acid Test the band was used to playing.
The dawning of age of Aquarius was clearly upon them as 30 thousand bohemian kids descended upon the Polo Grounds. Owsley was running around the event passing out his new strain of LSD that he called "White Lightning." Timothy Leary preached his "turn on, tune in, drop out" message, which every member of the Dead found to be appalling in its message and tone. They were all graduates of the Acid Test and were weary of his message and the politics of the time. According to Rock Scully, one of the event organizers and the Dead's manager, the only speaker that went over well with the crowd was Allen Ginsberg, who read "Howl" then led a chant of "Let's all breathe together."
This is arguably the biggest moment in the band's history at this point. They were in the process of arguing with Warner Brothers for creative control. They had only played a handful of gigs outside of the state of California, and this was by far the biggest audience yet.  The band nailed it with a potent set that even Dizzy Gillespie found to be "swinging."
The soundboard of this show can be downloaded HERE. They open their set with "Morning Dew." There is an edge to this "Dew." It announces itself as a proclamation that we are here and are radical in a different sort of way. Although Garcia shies away from the dissident political tone of the day, this statement of the atomic dawn amid crashing drums and beating rhythm guitars, channels the angry tone of the day and filters it into a beautiful falsetto. Garcia goes for it twice before breaking for the ending solo, which he crushes. This is the first known performance of "Morning Dew."
The band's musical prowess goes on full display as they move into "Viola Lee" next. There are some errors in this copy of the recording, which is unfortunate. As the band starts its decent, after a lengthy solo, the tape cuts and gets spliced as they start to build a speed jam out of the verse. The speed jam though provides quite the excitement. Just when you think you've reached the edge of the cliff you get strung out on a line that keeps you spinning, then takes you right back into the slow blues jaunt. You'll hear Pigpen call out "wow" and the crowd responds with joy, then he calls out "Sing the last verse." The mics got tampered with so Bobby is very faintly singing in the background till Phil, whose mic works, sings, "I got a friend somewhere."
 The special guest of the evening joins them for the final song of the set. This is the second time a special guest joins the band on stage, but it's the first one I have on recording. Previously, on 7/16/66 Joan Baez and Mimi Farina joined the band on "Midnight Hour." Charles Lloyd comes out and plays the jazz flute, that is before Ron Burgundy immortalized the jazz flute in "Anchorman." The vocal mics are still not being up to par. Pigpen tries singing the first verse but its way down in the mix. The band allows Charles Lloyd to go off. At this time, Lloyd was in between his two most popular albums, "Dream Weaver" and "Love-In." Actually, "Love-In" was recorded about two weeks later at the Filmore in San Francisco.
The Dead let Lloyd go off on flute as he does a mini nonsensical rap during the flute solo. They bebop the end of "Schoolgirl" to close the set. During the set a man jumped out a plane and parachuted into the crowd. Like the Dead's playing at the Be-In the parachute enveloped the audience, as the Dead had started to take a giant step forward into the human consciousness.
Morning Dew, Viola Lee, Schoolgirl*
*w/ Charles Lloyd

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Years '72

"And the joint was jumping" as the final moments of 1972 ticked down the Grateful Dead welcomed in 1973 at the Winterland Arena. Fans that weren't able to get into the show were able to party along with the band on radio KSAN, which you can download HERE and HERE.
In a touch of irony, the band laments the loss of 1972, a fine year in Grateful Dead history, as they complain "Don't you let that Deal go down, no no." A very fine "BE Women" is followed by a sublime "Box" before the energetic "Jack Straw" dazzles the crowd. The radio DJ is afraid of the dead air that is created by the technical problems the band experiences after they play "Candyman" and starts chatting but doesn't stop until halfway through "El Paso." This is why pre-FM recordings are much preferred. Later when the the DJ starts describing the scene inside the venue and spilling the beans about David Crosby being seen backstage (and despite what he says, Bing Crosby is not David's father) at least there is some substance. The first DJ talk up is disastrous because he talks over the music, the second is bad because he gives away state secrets.

The first set featured jam is as usual "Playin' in the Band." The band attacks this with a ferocity of pirated sailors as we walk the plank. The deep waters of the "Playin'" and it's crescent current sweeps us out to sea till the reprise rift reaches for us like a lifeboat. Safely we are brought back. Then the band kicks out a "Casey Jones" with an extended solo that revs the engine till, "And you know that notion, just crossed my...miiind."

The second set starts with a "Promised Land" that restarts the Deadhead engine. This is followed by "Half Step," a song that has fully developed since it's beginning in July. The band takes it's time and builds the coda like a well trained engineer.
The set gets out of control when the band steers out "Truckin'." The roller coaster shifts and bounces our consciousness on the Phil Lesh bass lines. Up and then dropping our stomachs, every shift and turn as the drums steer the band into "Other One." The band lets Billy vent for a stretch and then Phil slides back into the groove, until one by one the guitars and piano pick up on jam. The band stays with the groove created by Billy and Phil as they shoot for the stars. When the reach the stars the whole thing explodes into pieces. The pieces are put back together one by one, till the realization of what was left behind is remembered. The band assaults "The Other One," as the careful guitar work of David Crosby can start to be heard post verse. In a matter similar to their recent album side D, they decent through a "Prelude" jam and into a touching "Morning Dew."
Bobby takes a moment to thank Bill Graham on behalf of the band, then serenades him by tuning up his favorite song. A magnificent "Sing Me Back Home" with some sly guitar rifting by Jerry is played next. This song would only be played 3 more times in '73 and then never again. Essentially it was replaced by the Garcia and Hunter "Stella Blue." So to not leave on a sad note the band rocks out the set with "Johnny B Goode."
I: Around, Deal, Mexicali, BE Woman, Box, Straw, Don't Ease, BIODTL, Candyman, El Paso, Jed, Playin', Casey Jones
II: Promised, Half Step, Big River, Sugaree, Truckin', Other One, Drums, Other One*, Dew*, Sugar Mags, Sing Me, JBG, E: Uncle John's, Saturday Night
*w/ David Crosby
Once again many thanks to Peter White (@pawhite) for creating images for this blog. Being that this year is being dedicated to special guests, I won't have anything till mid January, which as it so happens is the first time someone sat in on a formal Dead gig (not counting the weirdness of the acid trips.)