"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