"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

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

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ring Like Fire

Today is the anniversary of what my friends and I used to called "The other Branford show." Although this is the third time Branford played with the band, it was the second time on the East Coast. Since we were located in NY, our tape collection seemingly consisted of primarily East Coast shows. We a handful of Winterland, Oregon, and Red Rock tapes thrown into the mix. So download the SBD HERE and HERE.
The setlist from this show and the initial Branford show, which I blogged about Here, are very different. They only have three songs in common and if you factor in his sit in for New Years 1990, there is only one song that was played at all three of these gigs; "Dark Star." It's no wonder that Branford has had someone shout out "Dark Star" at every gig he played after Nassau 90.
This show differs from the other two Branford gigs, whereas this is less of the band playing songs that they want him on and more of a Grateful Dead show with Branford. That might seem a bit backhanded but it speaks to the comfort level between the band and Branford.
This line-up of the Grateful Dead offer a different dynamic for Branford. Bruce Hornsby occupied the space between Jerry and Phil, so there is less room for Branford on stage. He finds a nice place to find his groove on "Shakedown," which Phil sucks the band into his zone for as he is almost bass slapping for. "CC Rider" is the first blues number that the band plays with Branford and he fits in as well as the '91 "Train to Cry" coda to "CC Rider." Although the next three songs aren't horn songs, Branford manages to slide in a play some tasty licks. "High Time" sets the tone for some of the prettiest playing that Branford does all night.
The second set engages with "Help/Slip/Franks" opener. Similar to the "Bird Song" from Nassau '90, there is a moment in the "Slip" where Branford gets it. He circles around the closing rift of the song and then finds all the right notes to act in unison with band. It's beautiful and awe inspiring all at once. As the "Estimated" ebbs and flows, the band steps into a spectacular "Dark Star," which bookends "Drums/Space." The "Dark Star" clocks in at 25 minutes and if you include "Drums/Space," it is about 38 minutes of exploratory music. This is 5 minutes shorter of the longest "Dark Star" ever. Then Bobby being Bobby moment of the set kicks in with "Miracle," and is followed by a salutary "Standing on the Moon." The sad saxophone notes that Branford plays at the end of the song give me the chills every time I hear it. Then a song written for horn, as Branford and Vince duet on "Lovelight." Jerry jazzed from the sit-in introduces Branford before the "Baby Blue" encore.
I: Shakedown, CC Rider, Train To Cry, BT Wind, High Time, Cassidy, Deal
II: Help, Slip, Franks, Estimated, Dark Star, Drums, Space, Dark Star, Miracle, SOTM, Lovelight 
E: Baby Blue
With Branford Marsalis

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Happy Birthday Pigpen

Recently there has been a radio interview recorded in 1966 that has surfaced. They rebroadcast the interview in 1967 and the whole thing was captured, download it HERE. In the interview they mention the first ever Grateful Dead t-shirt.