"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

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sometimes You Gotta Play You're Hand

On Saturday night, I attended a Grateful Dead listening party at the Captiol Theatre. They were reminiscing with the show from February 24 of 1971, which was the last night of a six show run from the Capitol. It was also sadly the last gig the band would play in the Westchester theatre.
The DeadHeads came creeping out of the wood work for this show. There was no lot scene, the neighborhood bars were not any more crowded than usual, and there was no line or pat down to get in. Yet there was a constant stream of folks or all ages, size, creed, and kind that filtered into the venue. Some walked in a went to the bar, others came down to the floor and grabbed a seat while others walked right up to the stage that was set up for the February 24, 1971 Grateful Dead. A basic drum kit was in the back of the stage and was flanked by bass amps on one side and guitar amps on the other side. Just in front of the guitar amps was an organ and mic. In front of the organ was to large carpets with three mic stands on them.
Before the 16 bit master was blared through the PA system, Gary Lambert addressed the audience and he posed the question; who was at this show? About three or four hands went up in the air and the festivities were underway with a mind numbing "Casey Jones." Some heads danced and spun in the open space between the stage and folding chairs, some stood around the bar, and others sat in the seats with the memories flashing like images across their minds eye. Each note brushing them further back till they sat warped in 1971 with the rest of us.
Being from Westchester, and being born less than a half mile from the venue, shows from this venue were a must for anyone's tape collection. It wasn't the first tape that I had gotten but it was definitely in the first 20 shows I had accumulated and the show that everyone circulated was the February 18 show. Too many reason made it the choice show from this run. One there were more songs debuted at this show than any other Dead show and second the "Dark Star" is one of the Mona Lisa in the Dead's history. It's gorgeous spender is punctuated by the "Wharf Rat" that appears between the verses.
For as much as a DeadHead loves "Dark Star" we also love to hear songs like "Bertha," "Loser," and "Wharf Rat." All these Garcia/Hunter classics were debuted on 2/18 along with "Greatest Story," "Johnny B Goode," and "Playin' in the Band." The next night the band debuted "Bird Song" and "Deal." This material would make up next two albums "Skull Fuck" and the Jerry Garcia solo album "Garcia."
These shows were also part of a scientific experiment. Images were projected on the screen behind the band as the audience members were told to concentrate on those images. Other people were set up in Brooklyn and were suppose to telekinetically receive those images on ESP wavelengths. The information was never transmitted.
Mickey Hart also left the band after the gig on 2/18. The internal stress that he felt after Lenny Hart robbed the band of their finances was too much for him and he went on sabbatical. This was later very beneficial for Mickey who study various drums and beats from all over the world that contributed the second set "Drums" breaks and his current solo music. Please check out mickeyhart.net for his song to benefit Sandy victims.
These shows were recorded by the band to be used as for their next live release "Skull Fuck" but none of the material was used. As I've mentioned in past blogs, Bear left the band after the Valentines 1970 gig, which leaves a big hole in the soundboard masters on archive.org and in the Vault. That brings us to the "special guest" for these shows, Betty Cantor. These are the first batch of Betty-Boards, a term that is affixed to some of the best sounding recordings of Grateful Dead music. HERE is her website were you can find all the downloads for the six Capitol Theatre show.
All my friends at the recording on Saturday agreed, that it was a success and we should look forward to more of these in the future. One of the reasons, I heard, is the song selection of the night. Each song rocked the spirit, not one was a slow ballad. I did hope that the show (I stayed away from the setlist after announcing which show it was because I like the surprise) had a "Ripple" in it, because I wanted to hear everyone sing along. One friend turned to me as the end of "Lovelight" built and just said, "Jeez." I knew exactly what he meant.
Another friend asked me which other band could fill about 70% of the venue for a tape of a show. He said, not Phish, but that is because they are still around. Zeppelin? I dont think so because their live recording are not the greatest. Floyd? Maybe. Zappa? Probably. Not too many out there that could but that's what makes them: "Their not the best at what they do but their the only ones who do what they do." According to Bill Graham.


No comments:

Post a Comment