"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, 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.