"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

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

1940 Xmas Eve

If you don't follow me on social media, then you don't know that I started a secondary site that is a musical companion to the book "Postitively Garcia." It features downloads of all the shows Howard Weiner mentions in the book. All twelve chapters are up there and if haven't gotten yourself a present for Christmas, I strongly suggest purchasing this book to make you holidays Jerry, health, and wise.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Grateful Thanksgiving Dead

Thanksgiving is normally a time for people to relax with family and friends and enjoy each other's company. Rock and Roll has never found its place with the holiday, like it has with New Year's Eve and Halloween. According to recent news, the folk icon of this date, Arlo Guthrie, has mentioned plans to support the 50th anniversary of the penning of his Thanksgiving classic "Alice's Restaurant Massacre," a song that is universally accepted by Rock and Roll radio as the anthem for this holiday. To this day, many Rock and Roll radio stations will honor the holiday by dropping the needle on the classic 26 minute song at 12 noon for their audience. 
Rock didn't step into the door of Thanksgiving until four Canadian boys and one American drummer called it quits on Thanksgiving in 1976. The Band played, recorded, and filmed The Last Waltz on Thanksgiving day at the Winterland Ballroom. After the concert, Bill Graham served all that attended the concert a turkey dinner with the fixings. 
This opened the door to other bands to entertain holding a Thanksgiving concert, which the Grateful Dead did for the first and only time in 1978 at the Capital Center in Landover, Maryland. All those that had to skip dinner with their folks were rewarded with a rip roaring night with the Grateful Dead. The band had come back from their failed recording effort in Egypt and put their financial problems aside to rock audiences, culminating with their New Year's Eve concert that closed the Winterland. 
The November run started off with the band's first ever appearance on Saturday Night Live. This set the stage, so they say, for a very good and unique Grateful Dead run. But there were some troubles too, the final night of the run in New Haven was postponed due to Jerry's illness. This was the first time Jerry's health caused a gig to get cancelled. Yet, true to their word, the band came back in January of 1979 to make up the gig. You can download the Thanksgiving feast from a very good FOB transfer by Charlie Miller HERE
As mentioned, this is a rip roaring show who's first set includes the highlight of "Tennessee Jed." The "Jed" is just over 9 minutes long and gets opened in the solo section. Just when you think they are about to kick back into the close, Bobby comes in with slide and they go off on an extended solo. The second set is a highlight in itself. There is a marvelous "Samson" opener and then they follow it up with a soulful "Friend of the Devil," the slowest paced song of the set. 
The disco "Dancin'" starts the band on a string of songs till they end the set. Immediately after they complete the tour-de-funk, Jerry starts "Terrapin." Jerry sings this with a pretty stirring conviction, like a masterful bull rider he throttles the band threw "Terrapin" and into "Playin' in the Band." 
After the smoke clears from the Rhythm Devils, the band starts fiddling with the rare "Ollin Arrageed" without Hamza el-Din, before they layer together a very rare "Space/Shakedown Street."  They had recently played "Shakedown" out of a spacey "Playin'" jam found HERE. "Shakedown" is heavy on the fast rhythm to the point where it almost sounds like a "Dancin' Reprised." The titillating "Shakedown" morphs into a reprise of the earlier "Playin'" before closing it out with "Around and Around."
Jerry Garcia's wit and humor is evaded in the encore selection of "US Blues." I'm sure that offering of peace that the Pilgrims made with the Thanksgiving meal was not so clear to the Native Americans that would soon end up with them old "US Blues."
I: Half Step, Franklin's, Minglewood, Stagger Lee, LL Rain, Jed, Passenger, BE Women, Music
II: Samson, Friend, Dancin', Terrapin, Playin', Drums, Ollin, Shakedown, Playin', Around E: US Blues
Guitar Player magazine circa October of 1978. An interesting quote form the interview, "The first (electric guitar) I played was a Guild Starfire. It's the guitar you hear on the first Grateful Dead record."

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Rat In A Drain Ditch

For today's showaversary, we go back to the Shrine Auditorium in 1976. The Grateful Dead had come back to touring in June and decided that they were going to shake up the band's growing show size. First they disassembled the Wall of Sound, then they let soundman Dan Healy decide their venues, which is why he book them on in theaters that were catered to live music. This is why 1976 is the only time the Grateful Dead played venues like the Beacon Theater and Orpheum Theatre. This is the final show of this theater tour. The next gig would be on New Years and they would return to the the larger arenas and college sports halls. Download the SBD of this show HERE and HERE.
Some songs really thrived in this theater setting. Some of the best version of songs like "Might as Well," "All Over Now," and "Lazy Lightning/Supplications" came from this year. The crescendo of "Might as Well" was usually bone crushing this year, whereas the two Bobby numbers usually featured sublime energy. Prime example of these examples are prevalent in this first set. 
The second set opens with the combo of "Eyes/Music Never Stopped." Although this combo is smooth and both songs are in the same key, this is the only time the songs were paired together. Quite baffling that they didn't revisit this combo. The only reason I can think of is placement, whereas "Eyes"was primarily a second set tune and "Music" was a first setter. 
"He's Gone" is a song that written about the band's soured relationship with their ex-manager Lenny Hart. Mickey thought that his now preacher father (although he was Jewish) had reformed his scheming ways and could help the band navigate their growing financial business. After several indication like Pigpen's keyboard being repossessed, the band checked the books as Lenny fled to Mexico. The stress bother Mickey so much that he left the band in February of 1971 and in April of 1972 the band debuted "He's Gone." Mickey returned to the band in October of 1974 and this is the first time that Mickey played on the song. Then for only the second time the band used "He's Gone" to segues into "Drums," which would later become a common occurrence. 
A song that saw a resurgence was "Comes A Time." The band seemed to play it fairly regular throughout the year even though they stopped playing it after 1972. It worked and thrived throughout the year to some of those heart wrenching versions in the spring of '77. This one progresses into to a glorious version of "Franklin's Tower." This isn't the first stand alone version, but this is the first time "Franklin's" appeared in a show that didn't have a "Help/Slip" in it. The night ends with the set closer of "Sugar Mags," and then DeadHeads have to wait two and half months for their next gig. 
I: Might As Well, Mama Tried, Row Jimmy, All Over Now, Loser, Minglewood, Bertha, Lazy Lightning, Supplications, Sugaree, Promised
II: Eyes, Music, Roses, Samson, He's Gone, Drums, Other One, Comes a Time, Franklin's, Sugar Mags
Today is my wife and I anniversary and this was her gift to me. As a bonus she said that I can actually hang it on my wall. Awesome!

Monday, October 6, 2014

You Didn't Mean Goodbye

Every once in a while I throw out that an interesting Grateful Dead Box Set would be Europe 81. The band toured there in the Fall of 1981, which was a solid time in Grateful Dead history. The band tightened up some of there sloppy time signatures that plagued some nights in 1980 and was firing on all cylinders. While some of the shows didn't feature many 20 minute jams, the band didn't get lost in some of the more precise tunes.
Now I already featured the Bobby Birthday show from this European tour, where the band borrowed instruments and busted out songs like "Gloria" and "Lovelight." Today's date features a bust out of it's own along with some really clean playing. Download the final Rainbow Theatre show HERE and HERE.
The "Shakedown" opener sets the table for a fluid first set. There aren't may long pauses in between songs like there were in the 70's. The second set opens with a song that was debuted earlier that year in "Woman are Smarter." Wonder what the band reaction was when Bobby brought that song to the table. "He's Gone" is delightful. The band takes their time with the song, which makes it the focal jam of the first half of the set. All the other "Drums/Space" of this run are around 10 minutes long, but at this show the "Space" itself is 12 minutes long. At the four minute mark of "Space," Jerry plays a familiar note progression. The band has not played the tune in six years and only played it three times, but "Blues for Allah" has been dusted off. The band handles it in the abstract, but clearly they are fiddling with the tune. They would only one more "Blues for Allah" jam, in a similar circumstance out of "Space." The next little setlist quirk is the split "Sugar Mags/Sunshine Daydream" that begins after "The Wheel." This is the third of the three that happened in 1981 and all in the Fall. This one is comic because after the "Stella Blue/Good Lovin'," Bobby forgets that they had split up their "Mags." He recovers to rock the English crowd out till "Brokedown" sings them home.
I: Shakedown, Minglewood, Roses, Rooster, Althea, Uncle, Mexicali, Never Trust, Cumberland, LL Rain, Might As Well
II: Woman, High Time, Estimated, He's Gone, Drums, Space, Blues for Allah Jam, Wheel, Sugar Mags, Stella, Good Lovin', SSDD E: Brokedown

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Tell Me Why You Treat Me So Unkind

Today we go back 20 years for a gem from the Boston Garden. Now some of you mathematicians may be discrediting this show because it occurred in 1994, to which I say, you are not right. Most DeadHead's discredits anything after 1991, because they don't believe that anything good happened after March 1992 when Bruce Hornsby left the band. Even though summer of 1992, had some good shows like Vegas and RFK, but it was after that summer that doctor's shut down Garcia for the fall and winter tours. Spring 1993, the band came back and debuted new originals for the first time in four years. Even though their was a creative outburst, the band took a step back from their playing style and interaction. So much so that some DeadHeads, like David Lemieux, stopped seeing the band. Garcia's voice tired but in 1994, the band did recapture some of their fire. Personally I'll listen to a show from 1994 over certain years in 80's. If I was to rank all the years of the Grateful Dead, this year would fall in the middle of the pack, somewhere between 15-20th place. Of all the shows in 1994, this might be the best. So download the SBD of the show HERE and HERE.
Regardless a great show is a great show no matter which year it occurred in. I've been listening to a lot of the Spring 90 "Other" box set which was recent release, and if you have, Jerry's voice is very different. Yet there is a certain inflection that is in Jerry's voice. This honest, whole hearted, vocal inflection first comes through on the "Althea," but is more prevalent on the gems "Fire on The Mountain," "Terrapin," "Stella Blue," and the monumental "So Many Roads." This verse sticks out as on of the best version is the song that the band ever played. Last year for the Grateful Dead's 30 song in 30 days, they chose this version because of the effort given by Jerry at the climax of the tune. The night is not just about Jerry, Vince Welnick plays pretty marvelous. The "Big River" electrifies and the little rift that sinks the band into "Terrapin" is titillating. Then each member of the band propels a significant spell of music out of "Terrapin" and into "Drums." At certain moments you can hear each member of the band slowly claim a piece of the jam to themselves and it is great. Now, I don't blame you if you just download the show for the "So Many Roads," but if you give it a chance you'll see that the show so much better than just one song.
I: Help, Slip, Franks, Walkin Blues, Althea, Uncle, Big River, Tom Thumb's, SMR, Promised
II: Scarlet, Fire, Go Home, Saint, Terrapin, Drums, Space, Last Time, Stella, OMSN, E: Liberty

Friday, September 26, 2014

My Head In Sparkling Clover

Today is the anniversary of the second acoustic/electric shows from 1980 that were billed as the band's 15th anniversary tour. The first show was filled with bust outs and this second one has it's own surprises. The bust outs from the night prior are all songs tapped to be part of the acoustic set. The band debuted "Ain't no Lie" and then busted out songs like "Bird Song" (382 shows), "Dark Hollow" (550 shows), "Monkey & the Engineer" (589 shows), "Rosalie McFall" (609 shows), " Been All Around This World" (706 shows), and the beloved "Ripple" which had only been played 10 times by the band. "Ripple" hadn't been preformed since the final Fillmore East show in 1971, which was a gap of 550 shows. 
Download today's Audience version of the show HERE. Five of these songs make a repeat appearance in today's acoustic set but the show starts with the beautiful "To Lay Me Down." A song that was lost by the Hiatus of 1975, and never got back in rotation until here. It's the first "To Lay Me Down" since 10/19/1974, which is a show gap of 311 shows. This is followed up by the biggest bust out of the run of shows. "On The Road Again  hadn't been played since 12/01/1966, a gap of 1128 shows. "Been All Around This World" comes next and its pretty obvious that the band really has figured out their flow in the Acoustic setting. The previous night's set is very disjointed. They take their time between songs to tune up and throw caution to the wind and play. Yet the acoustic set feels like fire side Grateful Dead music. "Bird Song" is still the most adventurous song of the acoustic set. This one leads them into the first acoustic "Cassidy," which is no slouch when it comes to jamming it out. The final acoustic debut of the evening, is "China Doll," which Brent shows off his haunting harpsichord playing. 
The set ends with "Ripple" and this is the one that the band chooses for "Reckoning." Does anyone know the special guest that runs across stage during this "Ripple?" Garcia introduces him right after he sings "Let there be songs to fill the air." Jerry then says, "That's Otis." Otis was Bob Weir's dog, named after the great Otis Redding. He wondered on stage during the performance and the crew coxed him backstage. Otis really exemplifies the evening's feel of being a couple friends just camping it out for the night. There is intimate theater setting, the hollow body instruments and sweet harmonies. The atmosphere is intoxicating. So much so that Bill Graham had drink enough of the cool aid and had the audience toast the band on the final night which you can read more about HERE.
A: To Lay Me Down, On the Road Again, Around This World, Dark Hollow, Rosalie McFall, Bird Song, Cassidy, China Doll, Ripple
E1: Stranger, Sugaree, Uncle, Big River, Peggy-O, Minglewood, Candyman, LL Rain, Jed, Sailor, Saint
E2: Scarlet, Fire, Estimated, Eyes, Drums, Space, NFA, Black Peter, Sugar Mags, E: Brokedown

Next Tuesday there is a new Old and In The Way release called "Live at The Record Plant Sausal." There is also a new GarciaLive due out in October. It is his one and only New Years show with JGB from 1975. Bob Weir and Mickey Hart makes special guest appearances. Also for the Grateful Dead's 50th Anniversary next year, Doug Irwin and Tom Lieber will be making 12 replica of Jerry's guitars, for more info follow this link HERE.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Just One More Thing From Me

Different generations of DeadHead's will talk about fondly about different shows that they caught. The generation above me usually brag about 1989, which was the start of a true renaissance in the Grateful Dead history. The generation before the '89ers brag about being at a gig on this day in 1980, in Lewiston Maine. The famous photographer Jay Blakesberg on his Instagram, (photo at the bottom of the blog) will occasionally release photo's of his friends getting down at this gig because it was a seminal show in the Grateful Dead's history. DeadHead's like him who missed 1977, usually mention this as being their crowning moment with the band.
I met a guy though work who had a dancing bear on the back of his car, he mentioned how when he dropped his daughter off at Cornell, that he made a stop by Barton Hall. Then he went on to tell me how the best show he ever saw was this Lewiston show. Which prompted a whole conversation about the show and my one great disappointment with the show, there is no true soundboard of the show in circulation. But you can find the FOB Charlie Miller transfer HERE.
The show kicks off with two blazing songs, and is followed by one of those versions of "Sugaree" that ranks as one of their best ever. The band gets into the solo of this "Sugaree" early and they come back around and destroy it again and again. Jerry leads the band through the show and the machine gun note laying is on that even on tape the volume of the jam comes through even on the digital copy for all 16 minutes of the song. Jerry's desire to rock it out doesn't only come through on the "Sugaree," but also on songs "Tennessee Jed," "Stranger," and "Rooster." The big twist of the set comes when the band plays the late set "China/Rider." Eleven songs into the set the band shows their first glimpse of winding down the set and yet they still feel the need to cap the set with "Promised Land." Thirteen songs in this marathon set.
The second set opens with a marvelous "Shakedown St," which might not be the longest in their history but has great energy. The band settles into the thick jam and at one point you can hear Jerry give a little giggle at his enjoyment of the groove. The band then takes their time to play some of their new material in "Sailor/Saint" and "Althea." All three songs are just over a year old and have developed in that time. After "Althea" the band cuts loose with a vanishing "Playin' in the Band." Very quickly the "Playin'" jam evolves into a manic spacey jam that "Uncle John's" is the light at the end of the tunnel for. They loose the "Uncle John's" before the ending of the song to a short "Drums/Space." A bit of that 70's funk comes through on this vintage version of "Not Fade Away." This slick song flows through a key change and into an audience appreciated "The Wheel." This allows the  band to finish what they had started with reprises of "Uncle John's" and "Playin'." Still enjoying the atmosphere, Bobby showman, ends the set with "Sugar Mags."
After a thirteen song first set, the boys play a thirteen song second set and cap the show with a double encore. To my memory, this is the last of the marathon two set Grateful Dead shows. It's not the six hour six set show of 5/15/70, but is similar to the 25 song shows of 1972 that would have the band on stage for four hours. To my memory this is the last of the marathon 25 song two set shows. Yes there are the three setters that could equal this song total but after the 15 year anniversary shows the band's first sets got shorter and shorter. So I believe that this is the longest show of the 1980's, which is why this night lives as a special evening in some DeadHead's memories. 
I: Alabama, Greatest, Sugaree, Uncle, Mexicali, Jed, Stranger, Friend, Far From Me, Rooster, China Cat, Rider, Promised
II: Shakedown, Sailor, Saint, Althea, Playin', Uncle John's, Drums, Space, NFA, Wheel, Uncle John's, Playin', Sugar Mags E: Saturday Night, Brokedown

Monday, August 18, 2014

Let There Be Songs To Fill The Air

Today we go back to a pretty monumental show in Grateful Dead history. One where the band debuted four new songs, all of which were on "American Beauty." Yet in the interest, I might mention that none of these debuts may have been their debuts. (Huh?) The only song that we know that they played the night before is "Casey Jones." So all the debuts might have been played yesterday and because the setlist and audio copy is not complete, we might be talking about the second time these four songs are played. Nonetheless download the SBD copy that I have of this night HERE.
In May of 1970, the Grateful Dead officially treated new waters when they released "Workingman's Dead." Although "Dupree's Diamond Blues" and "Mountains of the Moon" where the preformed released on their earlier albums there was still the tinge of psychedelia in the lyrical make up of the songs. "Workingman's" took them out of the "Crazy Kat" and into "the timbers of Fernario." For the first time the band was getting radio success. "Uncle John's Band" was get play on FM radio and reached 69 on the pop music chart dispute the fact that it featured the forbidden word of "Goddamn." The other track that was being played less frequent was "Casey Jones," because there was a blatant drug reverence in the chorus. 
It's important to note that 1970 was the busiest year in their history. Not only did they write and record two studio albums but they played more shows than any other year in their history with 145 shows. 
The acoustic begins with the debut of "Truckin'." In November when an edit version of this song is released as a single, it is their best commercial release to date when it reaches 64 on the top 100 list. That's five spots higher than "Uncle John's Band." In this stripped down acoustic version, the songs upbeat groove is evident but all the piano fills that Tom Constanten plays. The next debut is the song that would be the B side to "Truckin'," "Ripple." It is quite remarkable how the song that is played here is the fully realized version of the B Side. Most songs do not start like that, and take time to mature into the best played version of the song. Like the "American Beauty" album version, the band uses the ending G chord to end "Ripple" and begin "Brokedown Palace." A song that does take time to mature and grow into most-perfect-encore-to-a-show song. Throughout the 70's the band struggles to find placement and comfortably with the song and to the band's credit they don't give up on it the way they did with a song like "New Speedway." The final debut is "Operator." Its why there is only four versions of this song when you hear the crowd clapping along to this song's beat dispute never hearing it before. The set closes with "Cold Jordan/Swing Low Sweet Chariot," two songs that show off the band's vocal abilities and range. I prefer these acoustic set to those of the 1980's. There is something a little repetitive with some of those sets. These sets show how daring the band was then. The acoustic "Bird Song" aside, the band didn't take great leaps. If only they mixed in an acoustic "Fire on the Mountain" at some point.
The electric set is the band flexing their primal muscles. Dick Latvala called "Dick's Picks 4" primal Dead and it is the perfect description for them this year. There isn't the Bobby, Jerry, Pigpen rotation of songs. If they thought it, they played it, and when they stretched it, they really went for it. "Dancin'" and "It's a Man's World" are two of the most monumental reaches from the versions that were being played on AM radio. You might have been able to play the radio version five times before the Dead finished their one. The band filters in two songs that were still developing in "Sugar Mags" and "Attics." Bobby really wants to play "Sugar Mags" and is signaling the intro through the last two minutes of "Cryptical." "Attics" on the other hand is played pretty timidly. The song was usually played this way because it was not in rotation enough. The band then closes the set with their two commercial successes at the time in "Casey Jones" and " Uncle John's." And old school DeadHead criticized the band for encore with "Touch of Grey" at all 6 of the 1987 stadium shows. They have been a band who sent their fans home happy since their primal days.
I: Truckin', Dire Wolf, Friend, Dark Hollow, Ripple, Brokedown, Operator, Rosalie, New Speedway, Cold Jordan, Sweet Chariot
II: Dancin', Next Time, Mama Tried, Cryptical, Other, Cryptical, Sugar Mags, Attics, Man's World, NFA, Casey, Uncle Johns

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Didn't Get To Sleep Last Night

For the third straight year, I find myself publishing a blog on this day. It is the only non-holiday that this has happen with. The first year it was Woodstock, then last year it was the 1991 show, where the band played "Dark Star" in the first set for the first time in 20 years. Now today we go back to 1981, for a show from McArthur Court this year. Download the SBD copy HERE and HERE.
As typical for the good shows from 1981, the first set has a good flow to it. There isn't the 6 minute cigarette breaks between songs for "Tuning." Here they flow from the rocking "Jack Straw" opener to the brilliant "Friend of the Devil" before jumping into the firery "El Paso." Bobby Bobifies "Minglewood." Its interesting to hear him catch the missing lyric as he speaks them instead of screaming. It really shows how much he puts into singing "Minglewood." As always "Peggy-O" is the most heartfelt song of the first set. Beautiful pace to the gem.
The second set opens with the disco funk "Feel Like a Stranger." The song improved greatly over the first couple of months of it's life span, to where the "Go to Heaven" and "Dead Set" version differ eminencely. Then the meat of the set, "Scarlet/Fire." This is quite different from the fluent versions of 1977, this is two very distinct jams. So much that you can hear Garcia holding, holding, holding onto the "Scarlet" jam, before letting Phil drift the band into "Fire on the Mountain." Almost immediately afterwards Bobby drops the band into "Estimated Prophet." This, quite fluently, moves into "Eyes." Although "Eyes" is short it is packed full of excitement. As the Rhythm Devil's take over Kesey, Babbs and Thunder Machine move out onto stage with the boys. "Space" is short, because almost immediately there are "Other One" phrasing that is present in the jam. Then as always "Stella Blue," is the pleasant cool down to the second set. Bobby ends the show with two classic rockers. Before the band ices the cake with a wonderful "Baby Blue," which is the second one since 1974.
I: Straw, FOTD, El Paso, Loser, Minglewood, Peggy-O, Rooster, Deal
II: Stranger, Scarlet, Fire, Estimated, Eyes, Jam, Drums*, Space, Other One, Stella, Around, Good Lovin' E; Baby Blue
*With Ken Kesey, Ken Babbs and Thunder Machine

Saturday, August 9, 2014

His Job Is To Shed Light Not To Master

In the recent Rolling Stone Special Collectors Edition for Jerry Garcia, the magazine ranks the top 50 songs written by Garcia. They rank the top ten as being; 10. Scarlet Begonias 9. Sugaree 8. St. Stephen/The Eleven 7. Wharf Rat 6. Bertha 5. Ripple 4. Friend of the Devil 3. Eyes of the World 2. Dark Star and 1. Uncle John's Band. So it got me thinking of what would be my top ten Jerry penned songs. I love shows like 5/22/77 because the combo of Eyes/Wharf Rat/Terrapin/Dew, 7/13/84 Scarlet/Touch/Fire, 7/29/88 China/Crazy Fingers/Rider, 3/30/90 Uncle John's/China Doll/Terrapin are all shows that I love because of these manic Garcia combos. Although I know that not all these songs were written by Garcia. So I thought that I'd do a video blog of my five favorite Garcia songs. 
I want to remind you that this is a IMHO piece. Jerry has so many great songs that I'm completely heartbroken leaving so many songs off my list, because I really want all of them to be on my list. Feel free to leave your favorite five in the comments below, then you'll see the heartache I suffered doing this. How is Sugaree or St Stephen not on there? What about Dark Star? How??? All things the bugged the crap out of me doing this. 
Wharf Rat. A song debuted less than a mile away from the hospital that I was born at and a song that speaks so clearly to those who have had to resurrect their own life like I did in 1996. 
Eyes of the World. For so many DeadHead around my age, Eyes was a gateway to the band because of "Without A Net." The Branford Eyes smooth sounds shot right through the two CD set and was a favorite of the batch of songs. Ironically, the song had the same effect on people when they debuted it in February of 1973.
Scarlet Begonias. I remember the first time I heard it on a bootleg. I asked for a copy of the tape and played it non-stop. The bouncy beat and the hippy lyrics had me at love at first sound. Then later my sister named her first daughter and my first niece/nephew, Scarlett. And I fell in love all over again.
Touch of Grey. I'm a TouchHead, though not the way that the term was intended. I was ten when my family went to Disney World the first time. This meant cable TV in the hotel room when we weren't in the park. Morning, evening, and night, I watched MTV because it had music videos. I think I saw Touch at least twice a day. At first I resented it, but by the end of the week I loved the song and the skeletons too.
Terrapin Station. Everything the Grateful Dead represented was encapsulated in this song. A mystical journey that you'd never know if you'd return from. Garcia at one point called it the most pain-in-the-ass song he's every written. Even though the legend of Lady With A Fan is that it almost spontaneously hit Hunter and Garcia on two opposite sides of the bay durning a thunder storm. 
When I see Terrapin on a setlist, much like Dark Star, it is usually enough to persuade me to give the show a listen. Although the song didn't always work. The perfect example of this was Nassau on 3/28/91. A pretty ordinary second set was set on fire when they encored with Terrapin. People's feeling about the show complete changed by the song. And just so you are not mad at me Dark Star would have been number 6. 
There is IMHO list. I hope to see all these songs plus a few others tonight at the formerly The Garden State Arts Center at the Jerry Garcia Symphony.

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Broken Angel Sings From A Guitar

Today we go back the third accessible show from Jerry Garcia's birthday. Last year we did the 1973 show, the first year we did the 1982 show, and today we do his final Grateful Dead performance on his birthday in 1994. This show comes from The Palace in Auburn Hills in Michigan and the focal point of the show is the spectacular "Stella Blue," which is the best of the 90's and one of the best all time. I have been a fan of this for many years. The Soundboards of this show are not in circulation so download the Audience version HERE.
The show opens with some technical difficulties prompting Jerry to amuse the crowd and himself with the Mickey Mouse Club tease. You can hear Jerry crack himself up with the whimsical tease. Bobby then opens with " Picasso Moon," which is then contrasted by Jerry with a sweet "Peggy-O."  The old blues song "The Same Thing" gets tapped next. The song was originally sung by Pigpen. He did it twice in 66 and twice again in 67, before doing it one last time on NYE 1971. Bobby resurrected the song 1992 and performed it regularly till 1995. The always lively "Stagger Lee" if followed by the third of the shortly lived "Childhood's End." The set wraps up with the always energetic "Music Never Stopped."
The dark "Victim or the Crime" sets up the key for a vibrant "Scarlet/Fire." The "Scarlet/Fire" is 25 minutes of bounce. The song duo has stayed a fixture over the 17 years of its existence and there are not many versions that miss the mark. After "Samba," the band takes on "Estimated Prophet." The post "Estimated," sounds like the band is trying to slip into a "Terrapin," a song the band was due to bust out. Yet the jam never materializes as Mickey and Billy take over.
I don't normally talk to much about "Drums," but if you meditate to music, this is a track you might want to save. Very tranquil and serene sounds that then transfer into "Space," which is more rambunctious. Making it the perfect jumping off spot for "Watchtower," which fizzles into "Stella Blue." Stella oh Blue. Jerry's sweet present to the DeadHeads. It become obvious that it will be special when Jerry's voice sores on the "One," in the "It all rolls into one." The song builds to the end where Jerry sings the crescendo with great passion and vigor, where the crowd and bandmates respond in making the song peak. Watch the fan shot video of this incredible "Stella Blue" HERE. Bobby ends the night with a bust out of "Satisfaction." It's the first one in over two years and would prove to be the final one by the boys. This was also Jerry's last performance on his birthday.
The Further Bus is making the rounds. It is at the Gathering of the Vibes this weekend. I caught it at the Capitol Theater in Port Chester last Tuesday night.
I: Picasso Moon, Peggy-O, Same Thing, Stagger Lee, Childhood's, Music
II: Victim, Scarlet, Fire, Samba, Estimated, Drums, Space, Watchtower, Stella, Satisfaction E: Liberty

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Falls Like Crazy Fingers

Today is the showaverssary of a unique and special night back in 1988 from the Laguna Seca Raceway. Although this is not a favorite year of mine, this show was one of the first 50 shows that I pulls off of archive. It was a tape that I only had the second set of but what a set it is. The soundboard of the show can be download HERE.
The first set starts a little sluggish. The "Iko," "Walkin' Blues," "Candyman," and the "Queen Jane" are okay, but the show doesn't start to congeal until the fabulous "Althea." A pleasant early version of "Blow Away" sets up a great expansion "Cassidy." The song had really took a big step forward from the 70's were most versions were under 5 minutes. Here "Cassidy" is the focal jam of the set and is no wonder why the Dead would feature this song on their next live album. The set closes with a rip roaring "Deal."
The second set opens with the common "China Cat," and the band really riffs on the closing jam til Garcia comes in with a curveball of "Crazy Finger." This is the first time that "China Cat" was followed by as song other than "Rider" since 1/2/72. On this version, "China Cat" appeared in the middle of a "Good Lovin'" jam. The first time the duo was paired together is 9/30/69 and besides the one "Good Lovin'/China Cat/Good Lovin'," the band kept the two songs pair together, although sometimes they would be played with a little extra mustard that would be quoted as having a jam between the combo. So this is the only time that the band put a song in between "China/Rider." A unique moment in time. Bobby doesn't let the momentum rest as he launches the band into an energetic "Playin' in the Band." Although the song gets enveloped into a spacey jam the band finds their way back into the "Playin'" reprised before "Drums/Space." The stand out song post-"Space" is the the "Believe It Or Not." The tender love song that Jerry sang 6 times in 1988. Then they did it one more time in 1990 and the song was gone from the repertoire forever. 
I: Iko, Walkin' Blues, Candyman, Queen Jane, Althea, Blow Away, Cassidy, Deal
II: China, C Fingers, Rider, Playin', Drums, Space, Wheel, GS Lovin', Believe It, Sugar Mags E: Black Muddy

Saturday, June 28, 2014

CARDS WERE ALL THE SAME

On this date in 1969, The Grateful Dead played a show in Santa Rosa, California. A soundboard copy of the show can be found HERE.
This is one of those shows where the band truly takes an idea and makes a song out of it. A young kid intros the band as they launch into the short lived cover of "Slewfoot." Right away you'll notice that there is one guitar because Garcia is playing his Pedal Steel guitar. He came across the Petal Steel on your when the bus made a pit stop. The instrument was derived from the dobro, which is related to the guitar. Immediately Garcia had an idea of how to play this instrument and how the strings related to each other and the effects of petals below. He became so good that he was able to use his abilities as a barding chip with Crosby, Stills and Nash. He offered to play Pedal Steel on "Teach Your Children" if they would teach the Dead how to better harmonize. They did this for both "Workingman's Dead" and "American Beauty." Both bands helped each other form some of their most iconic sounds and songs
The song "Slewfoot" was a traditional song that Bobby developed out an arrangement that Doc Watson originally did. Later in 1973, Bobby and the New Riders played on an album "Slewfoot" by David Rea. Ironically that album didn't feature the song "Slewfoot."
The fifth ever "Mama Tried" comes next, with Jerry staying on the Pedal Steel. He moves to electric for "high Time" before he switches to acoustic guitar for "Dupree's." Jerry bounces back to electric for the third ever "Casey Jones." You'll notice that the trademark guitar rift that starts the song is not part of the song. Instead there is a "Ramble on Rose" type rift that they use to link the chorus to verse. Garcia solos over this but with no turn in the music, the solo just kind of fades before he starts singing the verse.
Then we get the screwball of the set, the fifth ever "Dire Wolf." For which Jerry moves back on to Pedal Steel and Bobby takes vocals, the only time he does as a member of the Grateful Dead.
The "Dark Star" as always serves as the launching pad of exploration. Between the verses, Bobby starts a rhythm that Jerry picks up on and the drummers. The band builds the jam up and up until it explodes and quietness takes over. Then after the second verse there is some nicely played interchange between Jerry and Bobby until "St Stephen" is started. Jerry starts off the song with an electric solo, even though the beat that they established is a little mellow for the song. After the "One man gathers what another man spills" line the band gets real quite. The audience is cheering and laughing the pause until the band slams the E to A change that brings them into the "William Tell" bridge.
The band starts the "Eleven" then decides they do not want to play it and it disintegrates to Bobby strumming. Jerry jumps back onto the Pedal Steel for the country standard "Green Green Grass of Home." Jerry really wanted to show off his musical ability on this night and the only thing missing was his banjo.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I Turn And Look Around

Some shows are overlooked in the Grateful Dead catalog but there are special attributes that make it endearing to a certain group of fans. The New Yorker piece a few years ago that mentioned this. Cornell '77 gets its due from everyone but to him the Fox '80's "Scarlet/Fire," was the be all end all for him and his friends. Their only rule, never stop the tape during the "Scarlet/Fire." Well this show doesn't have a "Scarlet/Fire" or any rules among my circle of friends but this date in 1976, I have vivid memories of my cassette days. 
I only had the first set of this show. I remember my artwork on the tape. There was the DEAD, without any of the vertical lines, then Boston and 6/10/76 I. It was all black marker on the Maxell Gold cover. It was the second Dead tape that I had gotten and since it was the better quality it got played a lot more than the other one. To me at the time the set was perfect, even though it included the "Tuning" between songs. Sometimes the tuning was longer than the songs, this digital version has that all cut out, but I would hold the FF and Play button down sometimes to seek forward to the next song. It may have been another night for the band in Boston but to me it was special, because it was my connection to the Grateful Dead. Nowadays when I hear someone on PT or Twitter say something like "Summer 86 sucked," I don't debate, I just ignore. For some lucky fans, this was their first connection to the Grateful Dead and no matter how or when that connection should be celebrated not denigrated. 
It was about 10 years ago that I threw out my collection of 1000+ tapes. About six months later I discovered archive.org and this was one of the shows that I went searching for. This was the first time that I got to listen to this show and it was the first time I heard the second set of this show. The first set and the marvelous "Mission in the Rain" was an old hat but the second set was a strange universe. There is the spectacular "Help/Slip/Franks," the pulsing "Let It Grow," and the disco "Dancin'," which is pieced together out of the "Playin'." Yes there was much more to this show than the "Sugaree," "Music Never Stopped," and brilliant "Cassidy." 
Now the night beforehand is an official release as "Road Trips Vol 4, No 5" and features the first "St Stephen" in almost five years. Then next two nights feature the fourth and fifth time the Grateful Dead split up "Sugar Mags" and "Sunshine Daydream," but this show features the second of five "Mission in the Rain." A song that because of this show is a favorite of mine and will be my choice for the Dead Covers Project when I get my space together. Today is GD History is going to mainly focus on 1973 or the CalExpo 1990 but this show does it for me. It was the door that opened up to begin my love of the Grateful Dead. Enjoy and download the SBD of the show HERE and HERE
I: Promised, Sugaree, Cassidy, TLEO, Music, BE Woman, Lazy Lightning, Supplications, Row Jimmy, Big River, Mission, LL Rain, Might as Well
II: Samson, Help, Slip, Franks, Let It Grow, Friend, Playin', Dancin', US Blues

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

But I Know It Comes Out Right

Today is the anniversary of the longest "Playin' in the Band" ever played by the Grateful Dead. At 46+ minutes it is the longest song the Grateful Dead ever played, just 3 minutes longer than the Rotterdam "Dark Star." The show is also known as the final appearance of "Money Money," not really but true nonetheless. Download the Aud of the show HERE, and I'm gonna try a writing exercise by turning on the "Playin'" and writing for the next forty-six minutes.
Bobby comes out flying. Sing what has usurped the second song he brought to the band with a furry and gusto. Leading the band into the Main Ten march as Donna roar is a on key. Keith harmonizes with Jerry as Bobby starts to lead them off the abyss that Keith is no stranger to. Phil checks in, taking bits and pieces and apart and Jerry mask the guitar with the wah-wah. A little bit of happiness. A little part of danger. Crash it down Billy. More symbols with the steady beat. The marathon is set at a rapid pace. It can't slow down now, because things are just getting started. Is there an electric piano that has started to stir. The music has started to take all directions. It ascends, it sets and still the sun burns bright, Billy is ready the key. Holding it together in this Herculaneum afford to the melting point. Jerry is still meandering while Phil is working with and against him. Bobby does know which way the race is going quick. Lead by following. There is muddling and need to build and peak. I want it louder if it turns into a shuffle. The birds whale. The clouds sigh and there is Bobby shaking of the craziness. There is still a rhythm that has to be challenged. We see what you've done and now we have exhausted it. There is room to stretch out. Someone catch your breath. The air seems heavy like there is some mystery to it. Phil beats his way up. Jerry's whole goal is to try and loss them all in his off beat chords. No one is fooled by his bluff. They stay steady ahead. One group under a crushing wall of sound. The echoes can carry the weight of troubles and the weight of gold is the same. Some distance cry and sinking bridge to reality. Who needs it anyway? We are free there's no course. No path. Reckoned it merged a long time ago. Silky smooth. Is there any meaning to this at all? We are about to find that building we can make do with the directional mishaps that may have occurred. There is still a great pace. We are still soldiering on. There might be a time that we look. Across the horizon. The plane is still the mountain behind. Can this be the moment of China or Comes a Time. Or will the smoldering calderon be mix by the witches brew. Is there more mean to the electric keys? There might need to be a sort of reconciliation because these guys are good. Not so neat. Practically clean. Can we keep going and see. Jerry shooting venom from his lips. There's no poison to slow him down. If we ever come back here again. If there is ever the need. We have to brace ourselves for the things we will see and the ex pieces we have fault. In time. Jerry gets his revolution. Where everything is alright. And moments are sparing. And the night is not as young as you'd think. There is a light. Some might see it glow. It might not be full Philed. There is a beautiful moment. Might want to revisit that with some of my friends. Phil stumbled onto it. It's a way back. Out of this dense forest. There is music is the quite spaces. There is always movement out. This is a brilliant phrase. It's ringing on. Like it's trying to tell us something of a long forgotten prayer. I know that there is meaning to it. Because it spoke to me before. Like a dirty shaman who knows the way to the church but not the way to salvation. There needs to be convictions. Keith. Speaks it first. But the rest were just waiting to see who could call Donna to knock it dead with a shout from the heavens. Some where glass houses are tumbling. Some where we are seeing the path. Found the light. Some where we are boogieing in our socks. Some where there is a two step close. Some where we found an end. 
I: Uncle, BE Woman, BIODTL, Deal, Mexicali, Roses, Race is On, Scarlet, El Paso, Row Jimmy, Money Money, Ship, WRS, Let It Grow, China Doll
II: Playin', US Blues, Big River, Stella, Around, Eyes, Wharf Rat, Sugar Mags E: JBG

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Other Cornell Show

Today is the showiversary of the third and final show at Cornell's Barton Hall. By this time the leaked Betty Board of Cornell '77 was already making the rounds around DeadHead circles. Although the 5/8 anniversary wasn't quite the hippie holiday that it is now, DeadHeads had great respect for this fabled gig.
The Dead first returned to the scene of the crime almost exactly three years to the day on 5/7/80. They played a spirited show, one that was tapped to be used as part of Road Trips vol 3 no 4, but this show is fantastic representative of the bands tight jams in 1981. Download the SBD of the other Cornell show HERE and HERE.
"Your eyes tell more than you mean them too," Bobby sing and so does this first set. A long long crazy first set is set up by this "Stranger." The "Friend" that comes next features a extensive and enjoyable from Brent Mydland like the "Stranger." By now Brent had really found his niche in the band and was give encouragement to play those keys to his heart's desire. The "Althea" starts off slowly but gets up to speed thanks to Bobby's slide playing on the tune, which he segues into the blues number "CC Rider." The band grooves before the next two songs, like they are warming up their Bug before throwing it into gear. And it's a goo thing because they burn rubber through "Brown-Eyed Woman" and "Passenger." A beautiful "High Time" eases the mood before the double set closer of "Let It Grow" into "Don't Ease" closes out the set. I'm a big fan of 1976 "Let It Grow," with the drum solo in thee middle but this one is up there as one the best. Just a beautiful played version, real driving like it is coming down from the voice of god. 
Now I am willing to say that this is a better version of "Shakedown Street," then the "best one" that ended up on the "So Many Roads" box set. I'm not trying to take anything away from the Halloween '84 version but there is a lot of funk and wonderful entwining vocals on this "Shakedown." The reason it probably wasn't tapped because it segues into "Bertha." This is the first "Shakedown/Bertha" since 5/7/80, which was the last time at Barton Hall. An excellent "Sailor/Saint" provides the slipper slope as the band plays the first of two jams in the set, "Spanish Jam." This is the second "Spanish jam" since 1976. "Truckin'" bounces out of "Space," and leads the band to the second "Nobody's Fault jam" since 1979. Slowly and smoothly they moved into a moving "Stella Blue." Jerry gives it his all but then steps up a notch as he shreds the solo at the end of the song. Twinkling the notes and the band moves the tempo and it briefly sounds like it might go into "Sugar Mags," but instead rocks into "Going Down the Road." Jerry is on fire as he kicks his guitar into overdrive for "Going where the climate suits my cloths." The instrumental code turns into the set closer of "One More Saturday Night." With the "Uncle John's" encore, Barton Hall has done it again. Three spectacular shows played inside its walls "built of cannonballs."
I: Stranger, FOTD, Uncle, Big River, Althea, CC Rider, BE Woman, Passenger, High Time, Let It Grow, Don't Ease
II: Shakedown, Bertha, Lost Sailor, Saint, Spanish Jam, Drums, Space, Truckin', Nobody Jam, Stella Blue, GDTRFB, OMSN E: Uncle John's

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Rock Your Baby To And Fro

Today in Grateful Dead history there are many shows that I could if I want choose from. There is the famous Low Library Plaza gig from Columbia, where the band snuck on to the campus to play a protest rally only to realize that they didn't really care about it. A great Winterland show from 1969 was played on this date with a fantastic "Dark Star." They also played a mammoth "Other One" in Paris in '72, a show which is part of the Europe '72 box set. They played gigs in 1970, 1979 (the day before the recent Record Day release), 1986, 1987 and 1991 on this date, but today I'm gonna focus on the show from 1977. Why? Because this is my birth show. Not my birthday show but my actual birth show. I was born in Port Chester in the middle of this show. I like to think it was around the "Row Jimmy," since my name is James, but it was most like around "The Music Never Stopped." Apropo for me who always has to have something in the stereo, according to my wife. 
Tie-dye American Beauty Grateful Dead birthday cake, thank you. You know me too well!
I remember when I got my first copy of Deadbase, Number IX. The first thing that I did was riffle through the pages to find out if they played on the day I was born. I got to the show, I put a big star next to the show in red pen. It was always one of the shows that I would inquire about when in a tape trade. Never did I find it. Everyone seemed to have 5/4/77, which is a very fine show, but I always came up empty on my show. One night at a friend apartment in Tribeca, my friend mentioned that he could get me any show I wanted. This was the first date that I threw out at him, and he said come back tomorrow. The next day at work I got a call, "Hey you wanted 5/4/77 right?" NOOO. He found the right show and burned it to disc for me. The second set never came out of the car for the next year.
This isn't the longest "Sugaree" of 1977 but it might be the most intense. Jerry plays these spinning high pitch notes on a continuos repetition, which makes it extreme gratifying. Then there are three Jerry songs in a row, "Friend," "Eyes," and then "Wharf Rat." The "Eyes of the World" is on my charts as one of my favorite versions of the song. Then "Wharf Rat" that precedes it, like on Dick's Picks 3, has that long intro where Jerry goes off playing scales as that band watches on. Until the band drops into "Wharf Rat" as the audience goes nuts. It was mesmerizing for me. Then the "Not Fade" simply crushes it.
One of the great tragedies of my life is the fact that there is no complete Soundboard of this show in circulation. Only the "Promised" to "Ship of Fools" is in circulation. So download the best Aud HERE.
I once told someone at a festival that my parents were at this show. I fancied myself a writer, so I would sometimes practice by making up the occasional story. I told them that I was named James because my mom's water broke during "Row Jimmy." Since my dad didn't like the name Jimmy, I always went by James. Then I told him if it was a song earlier than I would have been named "Jack" for the first "Jack Straw" since 10/20/74. I also included that it would have been much more embarrassing if I was name "Bertha," "Peggy," or "Sugaree." 
I: Promised Land, Bertha, Uncle, Peggy-O, Jack Straw, Row Jimmy, Lazy Lightning, Supplication, Deal, Good Lovin', Ship of Fools, Music
II: Might as Well, Estimated, Sugaree, Samson, Friend, Eyes, Wharf Rat, Drums, NFA, Around 
E: Uncle John's

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Wings Spread Wide

Last year at this time, word had begun to leak that there was going to be a new 1977 box set coming from Dead.net. Before the dates of the set were released, I was hoping that the set was going to be the five night Palladium run. It was sited as being a five show boxset so I was hopeful, until they mentioned that none of the shows had been released in any sort of way. The following night (4/30) was released as part of the Grateful Dead Download series. Maybe my dreams will come true in later years, but for now I'm waiting on another announcement. Some runs that should get attention at some point; Europe 81, Orpheum 76, and Red Rocks 78. Till then download the soundboard of the show HERE and HERE.
This is the first Grateful Dead show in New York City since the year beforehand at the Beacon, which was the first run in four years. The Beacon run features one of my favorite "Help/Slip/Franks," and the band picks up right were they left off with a soaring version of the the trio. A little extra mustard and salt is sprinkled on the "Slipknot," adding some depth and attitude to the opener. Before "Franklin's" comes steaming in. They give some flexibility to by opening up space for a delightful Phil solo, as the "Fore winds roll us gently home." At the end of the song the band takes a cigarette break and the audience goes into a frenzy of song request calls. The funny one that you can make out is "Alligator," which was preformed for the final time six years to the day. The first set is punctuated with a gorgeous "Loser" and rambunctious "Music Never Stopped." The "Loser" is spectacular, and is the perfect example of how a song from six years can sound revitalized and reach new highs.
The band opens the second set with a crunching "Samson," before letting loose on a sublime "Sugaree." This is another song that was starting to flourish in 1977, where the band was not afraid to push the song past the 10-12 minute mark. Really exploring the songs every realm. Bobby quickly picks up the end of the song and speeds through "El Paso." A lucky fan calling from the gallery gets his wish, when they play "Brown Eyed Woman" seconds after he calls for it. Next the band builds on opening the set up, when they rock out an "Estimated Prophet." As the juices start flowing the band quietly sneaks into "Scarlet," which gets wrapped up in "Fire" jam, before being paired for the first time with "Going Down The Road Feeling Bad." It's the only time the two songs were paired together, but a familiar "Not Fade a Away" jam comes out of "Going Down the Road" before being bailed on for the drummers. Jerry's slide rolls the band into "The Wheel." This slowly comes to a stop as Jerry slides into "Wharf Rat" and the crowd very enthusiastic approves. Garcia really throws his heart into it as he sings the sad ballad. "She's been true to me" lyric fades as the band kicks it into gear for the set closer of "Around and Around." The marvelous encore of "Uncle John's" leaves the audience dancing on through the night. 
I: Help, Slip, Franks, Minglewood, Jed, Cassidy, TLEO, Big River, Loser, Music
II: Samson, Sugaree, El Paso, BE Woman, Estimated, Scarlet, GDTRFB, NFA Jam, Drums, Wheel, Wharf Rat, Around E: Uncle John's

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The JGB Finale

Ask any DeadHead when was Jerry's last show and they will rattle off, Soldier Field 7/9/95, but ask them the last Jerry Garcia Band gig and you'll get a blank stare. So I'm taking this opportunity to break this trend. Today is the anniversary of the final JGB show and as a DeadHead would imagine it occurred at the Warfield Theatre. Jerry played more shows there than any other venue. His first gig there was with the Grateful Dead on 9/25/80 as part of the 15 anniversary tour. Over the next 15 years he would play a total of 120 nights there with the Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia Band, and Garcia/Grisman band. This was his final show here. 
Most DeadHeads dread listening to anything for 1995, because Jerry was not at his best but on this night he wasn't at his worst either. The most played song by JGB, "How Sweet It Is" opens the show. As most JGB shows, Jerry fills the set with songs he loves by artist that he listens to. This show features nods to Dylan, Van Morrison, and the classic Band tune "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." 
Garcia did at one point try to make JGB an alternative place for songs that he penned with Hunter but that was quelled when he claimed to have given away as many copies of "Cats Under The Stars" as were purchase in the record stores. He plays two songs off of this album in "Run for the Roses" and maybe his most loved song "Reuben and Cherise." A song the Grateful Dead played 3 times in 1991, even though it was in his solo band rotation from 1977. He closes the show with the upbeat "Midnight Moonlight," which he had been playing since 1973 with Old And In The Way, a band that was started with his compadre John Kahn. This was the last the two played together on stage. 
The last two songs Jerry recorded with JGB was "Coffee and Cigarettes" and "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" for the movie "Smoke" soundtrack. He went back in the studio after Soldier Field with David Grisman to record "Blue Yodel #9" for the Jimmie Rodgers tribute album that Bob Dylan put together. So he had a couple of more months of creating music after this finale. 
Download the only available AUD of today's JGB show HERE and HERE.
I: How Sweet, Stop That Train, Simple Twist, Run, You Never Can Tell, Sis & Brothers, Deal
II: He Ain't Give You None, Struggling Man, Think, Reuben Dixie Down, Midnight Moonlight

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Brent Mydland Meltdown

Certain jobs don't allow for the occasional mental health day. I know as a kid, faking sick to stay home from school every once in a while was a necessity. Recharging the battery helped to get myself together and get me back onto the road to the place I needed to be to coup with the daily stresses. Musicians and athlete's work around gigs and games so they are not allowed to call in sick for a scheduled event.
On this date in 1986, the stress of an on going divorce and the fear of losing the relationship with his young daughter boiled over on poor Brent Mydland. In a show that featured some very energetic the depressive situation causes Brent to lose it during the final version of "Maybe You Know." 
The audience feels the different type of vibe when Brent doesn't leave the stage for "Drums." Instead he stays on playing off Billy and Mickey, before skipping "Space" and rekindling a haunting "Maybe You Know" for the first time since 4/26/83. Brent struggles to keep the song together and ends up pretty much confusing the drummers for the direction of the song. Pulling the final verse out he sings, "maybe you don't know how I'm fucken feeling, but maybe to you it don't seem so real" as he starts to breakdown. His bandmates sense his distress, and Garcia quickly tries to change the mood by infusing a lively "Going Down The Road," which Brent barely plays keys on, although he does chime in with "Feeling bad bad bad." Jerry then turns to "Morning Dew" to speak to Brent. Singing "I thought I heard a young man cry today" and "I guess it doesn't matter" are directly sung to him. Brent is pretty despondent the rest of the show. He doesn't play keys after "Going Down The Road," though he sings on this and a little on "Not Fade Away."
The next night the band's opener seems to address this Brent meltdown. For the first time the boys open a show with the Phil Lesh classic "Box of Rain." Download the Aud of Brent meltdown show HERE. Below is a picture of Brent and his daughter at the keys from Shoreline in 1990. Him and Barlow penned "I Will Take You Home" for his little girl, and it was a favorite song of my son to fall asleep to as a baby. This song is also Barlow's favorite Grateful Dead song he wrote.
I: Half Step, El Paso, Row Jimmy, Esau, Cumberland, Desolation Row, Ramble, Let It Grow
II: Touch, Estimated, Eyes*, Drums, Maybe You Know, Dew, Around, NFA E: Don't Ease*
*with Jose Lorenzo

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Maybe You Know How I'm Feeling

Today we go back to another show from the Spring 1983 tour. Last year I featured the two Meadowland gigs from this tour, which featured the special guest appearance by Stephen Stills. Earlier in the tour the magical combo of "Help/Slip/Franks" was rekindled in the lineup for the first time since 1977. This of course means these were the first time Brent Mydland got to tackle this combo.
This was the band's second ever performance in Vermont and it passes the James' litmus test for a great 80's show because it features two Brent songs. This is the first time that the Bob and Jerry show had two songs sang by the keyboardist/vocalist since 5/26/72, when Pigpen sang a couple of tunes in the Europe '72 finale. The two Brent tunes are not the only reason why this show is great. It is a torrent affair. A night where everything click. Oh yeah and there is a massive Morning Dew. Download the SBD HERE and HERE.
My love for this show goes back to the 90's and my tape trading days. I remember I only had the second set of this show on the heavy duty black Maxell xlls. I even remember that I used a green marker to write UVM and blue for the date. It was lucky that it was a black Maxell because I listened to this show incisively. So the first set is newish to me. Although I've had this show since discovering archive.org. The show ignites with "Jack Straw." "West LA Fadeaway" is less than a year old and this one seems to be loose and venturous. The cowboy combo has a welcomed twist with "Mama Tried/Cumberland Blues." The "Cumberland" is electric, Jerry is on fire and provides an electric solo. Unfortunately the set closer of "Might As Well" is missing from the digital copy. 
I first got this tape around the same time that Dick's Picks 6 came out, which is from the same year and features similar second sets. But this show got listened to far more than the 10/14/83. The second and third digital drop outs occur during the "Scarlet," but the "Fire" is clear and fabulous. As if the "Scarlet/Fire" weren't enough, the band follows it with another sublime combo of "Estimated/Eyes." As the "Eyes" fades the drummers try to claim the beat but Brent stays on and debuts "Maybe You Know." A real spirited version of the tune before leaving the drummers to their craft. Please remember this tune because my next post will center around this song.
If I can make a request, please listen to this "Dew" with headphones on at some point. This is the first time that a "Morning Dew" comes out of "Space." They would do it a handful of times afterwards but not as magical as it was on this night. "Throwing Stones" gets called for next, and like the "Dew" beforehand has a lengthy intro. Then the boys close with a bone crushing "Good Lovin'." They then encore with the third song that was debuted in 1982, with "Touch of Grey."
I: Straw, TLEO, BIODTL, West LA, Mama Tried, Cumberland, Ramble, Far From Me, Esau
II: Scarlet, Fire, Estimated, Eyes, Maybe You Know, Drums, Space, Dew, T Stones, Good Lovin'
E: Touch
The next Dave's Pick has been announced. The first night of this run was going to be a blog last year for the Special Guest year, because Stephen Stills sings on "Lovelight," but I went with the Branford show from 1993. Regardless this is the best album artwork yet. "Sleepy Alligator…"