"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

Saturday, June 28, 2014


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