"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, January 22, 2014

Close Encounters of the Dead Kind

After coming off what is considered by most to be their greatest year, 1977, the band auspiciously started 1978 with two gig where all the vocals were handle by Bobby. The Jerry laryngitis shows started 1978 and fall tour would end with the band canceling multiple gigs due to Jerry's illness. Yet in between there are some very special and invigorating shows. This is the first great show of 1978, download the SBD HEREHERE, and HERE.
This show like their most famous Cornell '77 show opens with "Minglewood." They follow it up with an upbeat. "Dire Wolf" like they would later do on their best show from this year 7/8/78. I draw this two comparisons because this gig is right in between these two legendary gigs and it provides some context to it's place on the GD timeline. This has always been one of my favorite "Cassidy" for whatever reason. It all fits together well and is white hot. The "Row Jimmy" here is electric. This is a clear graduation from the slow and steady 1973 versions that I love. The slide playing is spectacular. Bobby really seems comfortable playing over this chord progression. 
The second set "Samson" also features some extra vigor, which is a complete foreshadow to the bands April tour. April 78 features some of the liveliest versions of the bands song catalogue. It you ever need a three hour energy shot of music just pull a show from April and you'll be at SPAC in no time. The "Terrapin" is much more textured as the puts their heart on the line. 
"The Other One" is a mind altering substance as they toy around with it as Bobby crushes both the verses. Afterward the band gives Garcia room to insert of of his ballads but instead he teases the Theme to "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." Although he doesn't play the full chromatic theme the audience picks up on it and cheers him on to keep up the jam from one science fiction fan to another. Most didn't realize that not only was Garcia a fan but he appeared in the film, his second ever appearance in a movie. In 1977, Garcia appeared as one of the stars of "The Grateful Dead Movie" (of course) and as an extra in "Close Encounters." He is one of the many people who is standing on the Indian hillside in the first twenty minutes of the film. I don't think that even Jerry could have picked himself out of all the extras there. Jerry uses this "Close Encounters" jam to segue into a crushing "St Stephen" bypassing the ballad.
This wouldn't be the only time in 1978 that pop culture snuck into to Grateful Dead rotation. On 4/19/78, Bobby was practicing his slide to the radio. He yelled over to Steve Parrish that was walking by, "Tell Garcia, I'm not going on stage unless he sings this song tonight." So that night they encored with the first ever "Werewolves of London."
I: Minglewood, Dire Wolf, Cassidy, Peggy-O, El Paso, Jed, Straw, Row Jimmy, Music
II: Bertha, Good Lovin', Ship, Samson, Terrapin, Drums, Other One, Close Encounters, St Stephen, NFA, Around, E: US Blues

Monday, January 20, 2014

…Reason Taters The Force Tears Loose From It's Axis

 If you turn up disc 3 of your copy of "The Closing of Winterland," you'll hear a DeadHead shout "Dark Star" moments before they play the opening notes of the song. The crowd rejoices as they play the song for the first time since 10/18/74 in the building that was now officially closing. The band did not make DeadHead's wait another four years after this as mentioned in what was Part 1 of my "Dark Star" post. This is Part 2 and is going back 35 years to Shea's Theatre in Buffalo New York. Download the Charlie Miller FOB Audience tape of this show HERE.
This setlist is very similar to the last show I featured, minus the smoking hot Shakedown that propels Phil to intro the song, but this show is one that I can only listen to during the colder months. I put it on for a drive to Buffalo over the summer and had change it midway through the first set. Yet I've listened to it 3 or 4 times this month and it feels great like a warm fire. It's strange how some shows can do that. Because the Nassau definitely does not do that to me.
The "Bertha" on this show is another example of why Keith was on his way out. A song that he's bright keys would sparkle on is mysteriously absent from until the solo break. He ticks the ivory for a little bit and then slips off as the song jumps into "Good Lovin'."
This might be the most mysterious "Dark Star" of them all. The band an "Other One" sandwich that holds the "Drums/Space" there is the slow descention into what seems to be "Stella Blue" before twisting it into this magnificent "Dark Star." Just like the Winterland version the jam somewhat progresses into an "Other One" type jam before Bobby leads them into a spacey rhythmic "Not Fade." Again only one verse was sung on this version 1/10/79 and the New Years one. 
After playing "Dark Star" three times in twenty days, the band would only play it twice until the Formerly the Warlock gig from Hampton in 1989. The two version were played it on New Year's Eve 1981 and the Greek Theater on 7/13/84. That means over the span of 766 shows "Dark Star" was played twice and both were on the West Coast. Pretty amazing and it was this rarity and the songs abstract format that made "Dark Star" the holiest song of them all.
I: Promised, Sugaree, El Paso, Peggy-O, All Over Now, Jack A-Roe, Minglewood, Stagger Lee, Straw
II: Miracle, Bertha, Good Lovin, Loser, Estimated, Other One, Drums, Space, Other One, Dark Star, NFA, Sugar Mags E: OMSN

After announcing "Something new is waiting to be born" on Jerry's 71st birthday, the new jerrygarcia.com has launched. But I caution you, don't go on it unless you want to be sucked into its vortex. It's a beautiful web design and there is suppose to be addition infrastructure add, so don't get frustrated if you can't add your shows. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Pouring It's Light Into Ashes…

Today is the anniversary of a marvelous show from the Nassau Coliseum from 1979. Coming off what was considered by some to be their best New Years show, the Dead rolled into NYC for their first two gigs at Madison Square Garden before shooting out to the Island. (The New Years show was second on the DeadHead's request to be released as Dick's Picks 3 to Cornell 77 according to DeadBase.) This first of two nights is important because it's the first East Coast "Dark Star" since 1974, and briefly gave DeadHeads the hope that there would be many more to come. If you want to narrow it down further, this is the first New York State "Dark Star" since Utica since March 21, 1973. Just before this gig the band played their three gigs at the Nassau Coliseum and the middle show featured "Dark Star."
Being that the full New Years gig at the Winterland was played in 1979, this gig is the second of three "Dark Star" played in 1979. This is the longest of these three "Dark Star," and interestingly enough Jerry only sang the first verse in all three cases. This one like the Winterland feature some fantastic fluttering notes by Jerry. This one is also very Bobby and Keith  heavy. Keith tries on this one to stay very close to the theme and Bobby, and is an example of his mimicking which the bandmates found annoying causing him and Donna to exit after this brief winter tour. Bobby is a catalyst on this "Dark Star," leading the band to explore and give it legs to stretch into "Drums."
This show is also the last time that "Dark Star" and "St Stephen" were played at the same concert. The pair were linked on 8/20/68. Previously they had been using "Dark Star" primarily paired with "China Cat," but the band believed that "Dark Star/St Stephen" was the combo that they wanted to develop for their "Live Dead" album. The final time the two songs were combined was at their final Fillmore East show on 4/28/71. "St Stephen" went on hiatus after this show until 10/15/83 at Madison Square Garden, it appeared 3 times in 1983 and then permitly left the Grateful Dead's rotation, for more on "St Stephen" check HERE.
DeadHead's at the New Years Winterland show brought a sign in forming the band how many days since the last "Dark Star." It had been 1535 days but because of the 1975 hiatus it only figured out to be 189 and it wouldn't even figure as the longest show or day gap in the song appearance. This appearance is only a four show gap and you can download the best Audience copy of it HERE.
I: Promised, Dire Wolf, Mama Tried, Mexicali, Jed, LL Rain, Stagger Lee, El Paso, Row Jimmy, Passenger, Loser, Music
II: Shakedown, Miracle, Bertha, Good Lovin, Dark Star, Drums, Space, Wharf Rat, St Stephen, Around E: JBG

If you want to get hip to a really cool Grateful Dead side show, check out the recent show by Furthur drummer Joe Russo and his Almost Dead project. They played a recent gig on 12/27/13 and is posted on Archive HERE.