"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

Friday, March 28, 2014

My First Show

Findng your way into a new phase of your life starts with a initial step forward. Becoming a DeadHead, might be the most accepting society to matriculate yourself into although there are bums along the road. Some times you'll be made felt less than because you didn't tour with band in the Fall of '89, Spring of '77, or saw a show with the Wall of Sound. A lot of that ageism has fallen by the wayside being that a freshman in college was not alive when Jerry walked the earth. I don't think I've held anyone to this standard because I was 16 in 1994, when first exposed to the Grateful Dead and it is my opinion that it is awesome that kids are still finding their way to the music of the Grateful Dead. Their mystical musical journey stretches across the ethos and the off shoot bands that keep the music alive. Phil Lesh's son just had a baby boy.  One day will he want to perpetuate his grandfather's legacy and be playing the music of the Grateful Dead at Terrapin Crossroads into the next millennium? Jerry in an interview in the 90's, said that he'd like to live to 2000 to see what that millennium had in store. Even though he did not, Jerry Garcia's musical legacy continues to grow and could continue to reach people until "there was no ear to hear, you sang to me."
I saw my first live music concert 20 years ago today. I was a little grunge boy, who was pretty obsessed with Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, and of course Led Zeppelin. This had begun to change with tapes like Junta, Seven Turns, and American Beauty slowly being put into my rotation. So when my friend Matt asked, "Do you want to go see the Dead with me?" My answer was pretty ambivalent and if not for his persistence I probably would have skipped out.
We got bracelets to get our place in line. I skipped buying a bag so I would have the 35 bucks needed to get a ticket. His number put us in a better position to get tickets and I gave him money so he could go into the Toy Box and pick up the tickets. So weird a spot for a Ticketmaster but it had been like that for a long time. Across the street from the Toy Box, there is a large park along the water where I used to play baseball. I remember seeing weirdly dressed kids sitting in folding chairs in front of there while I maned Left Field. "What are they doing there?" I used to think and six years later I was one of the kids there. After getting the tickets, I basically forgot about the up coming event as I got sucked back into hockey and my life as an emotionally troubled high schooler. 
Days beforehand, Matt and I realized that we didn't have a ride to the show. I didn't have my license and his mother wouldn't let him drive over the bridge to Long Island. So we recruited a friend who was a year older to give us a ride. As I mentioned in 'If It's The End Or Beginning', JP, all these years later would give me my first tattoo. Since he did not have a ticket he got two friends, Matt and Brian to join him in partying in the lot. 
That afternoon we all met up and piled into his Jeep as the rain poured down. First we went to Deli Express to pick up road brews, I bought a four pack of tall boys. I remember sitting at a 45 degree angle drinking my tall boys as it rained buckets driving to Nassau Coliseum. As the only Islander fan in the car I laid out the directions to the venue. So the lull of the road, the angle, the raindrops, and beer swept me off into a daydream. By the time I snapped out of it we had missed our exit on the LIE. We got off at exit 42 and backtracked to exit 38 to jump on the Northern State to the Meadowbrook. We pulled into the parking lot as the rain tapered off and as most fans had already made their way into the venue. 
We briefly walked around the parking lot; I bought a shot of Vodka and a gooball and walked into the venue. We made it to our seats just in time for lights and the opener "Let the Good Times Roll," an old R&B song that I was familiar with thanks to my mom's oldies radio station. I watched the guy next to me, who was about forty dance along to the music. It made sense to me and I kind of emulated it. I was getting into the groove. I felt very comfortable with these new surroundings. I wasn't going to drop out and go out on the run but I was very happy to be there then. Most of the first set was a blur. I didn't know any of the songs but it didn't matter. I was catching lightning in a bottle and it was just a matter of harnessing it's energy. 
After the set ending, we walked out into the concourse and I made my way to the merchandise table. I scanned all the shirts and bought the cheapest one. It so happened to be a spring 94 show itinerary shirt. It's a shirt that I kept and still have today, despite that it's gone a little yellow with the years.  
A massive choir of "Rain," flourished as the second set opener, filling my eyes with stars. I didn't connect the downpours that we drove through with this song, even though it seemed so simple. When my eyes were open to it, a new portal of music speaking as a melody but as a commentary of the surrounding is inspiring. As mentioned, I owned"American Beauty" at the time and yet didn't recognized the two songs that I saw from that album. Instead, the song that stuck with me is "Going Down the Road Feeling Bad." Although I don't remember knowing the song the easy lyrics stuck in my head. It must have been cemented in the less then comfortable ride to the venue.
After the show we walked out into the parking lot and ventured over to a large bus that was bopping dance music. A dance party had erupted in the middle of the parking lot, where some cars had cleared out of the way. We had started to move into the mix when the mounted police came through to break up the fun. I remember almost getting tramped by a horse, whose leg came up to my shoulder. We jetted back to the car and met up with the guys who had had their own adventures and we talked about it all the way back home.
I don't remember school the next day. I probably wouldn't remember the concert all that well, minus the "Going Down the Road," if it wasn't for the tapes. A bunch of other friends from high school experienced that show also as their first. The guy I had gotten 100% of my tapes from, Jeff, acquired the tape and circulated it among the seven of us that saw our first Dead show. It was of course the most cherished in my collection because I was there. So take a friend to a Ratdog, Phil and Friend, Dark Star, or Mickey Hart show. It might just be one of those life changing events for that person.
Download the SBD HERE and HERE, or the AUD HERE. At the AUD link and THIS link you can read the glowing reviews of this show by fellow Heads that might not be as bias as I am.

I: LTGTR, Bertha, Greatest Story, West LA, Masterpiece, Roses, BIODTL, Peggy-O, Music
II: Rain, Victim, Box, He's Gone, TWBS, GDTRFB, Drums, Space, Watchtower, Days Between, Lovelight E:Brokedown
Some updated pics that I've found d of this night. Also my friend at Setlist Tee's made a shirt of this night also. Oh then I got a new guitar too. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Compass Always Points To Terrapin

Today in Grateful Dead history we go back to the famed year 1977. Although this is the third show of 1977, it's the first one that exhibits the tightness that makes this year so famous. This was the first night of a three night run at Winterland. They played 10 gigs at Winterland in 1977; three in March, three in June and four in December. The three June shows are an official box set and pieces of the two of the December shows are part of Dick's Picks 10. Yet of all these shows, this was the first one of any of them that I got as a teenager. I only seeked out this show because it had the first "Fire on the Mountain" and the only time that they used the coda "Terrapin," the "At the Sliding" instrumental, which is titled "Alhambra." Download the soundboard of this night HERE and HERE.
The first set soothes like a thin piece of butter on warm piece of toast. The rare extended solo over the verse of "Mississippi Half Step," the vibrant "Cassidy," and the delicate "Peggy-O," all set up the first ever "Scarlet/Fire." There is much less "Scarlet" than there is "Fire" in this first combo, but the new vehicle is their chance to explore. The band is full speed ahead on the melody even though Garcia is no where close to being set on the lyrics but "More that it gives the more it will take." Clearly jazzed the band excel as they build and build the "Scarlet" rift that ends this set.
The second sets starts with a crashing "Samson" and sparkling "Good Lovin'," before getting to the nitty gritty in a dark beautiful "Estimated." Although this is just the tip of the iceberg for this song, it does start the band's exploration of this time signature. The "Terrapin" is more formed than the previous two. As it seems like they are more comfortable with the tune. As the jam crashes to a halt there is some indecision with the band as what to do next. They have obviously enjoyed the tune and want to stay with the groove which props Garcia into the "Alhambra" jam with Phil in tow. Jerry is not at all prepared for the "At the Sliding" lyrics so it's just a jam before the drummers take lead. The band cuts loose on the "Not Fade." Listen at the 10:38 mark, where Garcia makes a sound with his guitar like a balloon letting all it's air out. The crowd goes nuts as the band starts to make the ascension to the conclusion verse. As the lyric chant fades they pick up the often paired "St Stephen" before closing with "Around and Around." The night cap is "Uncle John's," which was the most common encore of 1977 along with "US Blues" and "One More Saturday Night," all being preformed ten times there. 
I: Promised, Half Step, All Over Now, Sugaree, Minglewood, Peggy-O, Cassidy, Scarlet, Fire
II: Samson, BE Woman, Good Lovin', Ship, Estimated, Terrapin, Alhambra, Drums, NFA, St Stephen, Around E: Uncle John's

Friday, March 14, 2014

Thank You For A Real Good Time

Today is the anniversary of the first show from what is dubbed as the last great Grateful Dead tour; Spring 1990. It might be unfair to call it the last great tour because it was more than that. Spring 90 was the last exceptional tour. This tour shook the fabric of the Grateful Dead's patchwork quilt. Night after night the band treated the audience to titillating shows. Download the Matrix copy of the show HERE and HERE.
This show might have started with the lyric "well I married me a wife" but the line that sets this show apart is when Jerry sings "Loose Lucy is my delight." Listen as the audience goes absolutely ballistic afterwards. Most audience member know that this is the first one in almost twenty years, it is actually the first one since 10/19/74. The song fell out of rotation during the Grateful Dead hiatus; just like "Black Throated Wind," "Jack Straw," and "China/Rider." "Straw" and "China/Rider" got reinserted in 1977 but "Loose Lucy" seemed to be forgotten after 33 performance of the song. But after this re-introduction the song, "Loose Lucy" was regularly preformed with the final one appearing in the forth to last show on 7/5/95.
Spring 90 are shows that you can expect the unexpected, like this unusual second set opener of "Crazy Fingers." This sets up a steamy "Playin'/Uncle John's/Playin'" sandwich. The first "Playin'" is a mind bending and expansive and ranging before landing at the familiar "Uncle John's," which as it starts to jam into a close is quickly poked and prodded at by Bobby. As he pulls the and stretches "Uncle John's" back into the "Playin'" jam. A fantastic "Black Peter" highlights the second half of the set before they crush the "Lovelight" closer. Although Jerry struggles with the lyrics, the "Black Muddy" is the icing on the cake of this show. 
The band returned to the Cap Center the following night to celebrate Phil Lesh's birthday and busted out "Easy to Love You" for the first time since 1980 and "Revolution" for the first time since 1985. Then they closed the three night run with another bust out of "Black Throated Wind," and features Bobby showing off some alternative lyrics on the song. Both these shows are official Grateful Dead releases. One is "Terrapin Limited" and the other is included in the "Spring 90" boxset. 
I: Cold Rain, Stranger, Never Trust a Woman, Mama Tried, Big River, Loose Lucy, Memphis Blues, Row Jimmy, Let It Grow
II: Crazy Fingers, Playin', Uncle John's, Playin', Drums, Space, Mr Fantasy, Miracle, Black Peter, Lovelight E: Black Muddy
This is the result of the tattoo session I mentioned in my last blog. And I'd like to wish a happy birthday to Jeff, one of my oldest friend and regular reader of the blog.