Jesse Jarnow

#deadfreaksunite 1968

#deadfreaksunite 1968
tape-by-tape notes

An extended listening project tracking the Grateful Dead’s evolution, recording by recording. Originally posted on Twitter on each show’s 40th/50th anniversary and edited here for readability and occasional revision/correction and minor expansion. Many shows streamable via archive.org. Many thanks to LIA for this excellent 1968 chronology, re-dating some circulating tapes, etc..

[1965] [1966] [1967] [1968] [1969] [1970] [1971] [1972] [1973] [1974] [1975] [1976] [1977] [1978]

1/17/68 carousel ballroom: opening of ill-fated band-run venue & future fillmore west, with owsley stanley as oft-taping soundperson. alternating sets with venue co-operators quicksilver messenger service, both early & late shows introduced by kids, hanging late on a school night. opening the 1st tape of 1968: 19m DARK STAR > CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > THE ELEVEN. just like that, earliest taped live versions of all 3, each a monumental addition to the songlist. missing intro, 5m DARK STAR bounces like the ’67 single version, immediately diving into pre-verse phil/jerry jam, the end tag linking to the early hyper CHINA CAT. time signature-shifting segue into THE ELEVEN is fully formed & already powerful, give or take vocals, the end jam disintegrating to feedback. 27m NEW POTATO CABOOSE > BORN CROSS-EYED > SPANISH JAM, 1st of the latter 2, neither quite as monumental as other “debuts.” NEW POTATO slowed from ’67, now maybe a little less graceful? CROSS-EYED is 1st tune solely by bob weir, busy & weird. 16m SPANISH JAM noodles in place. CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT outro veers into future OTHER ONE zones, with excellent segue into GOOD MORNING LITTLE SCHOOLGIRL.

1/20/68 eureka: deep north coast 1-off with quicksilver messenger service a week before their NW tour.21m VIOLA LEE BLUES hits 1-minute fire music crescendo, beautifully dense & too brief, before snapping to last verse. then, 33 totally suite minutes: CLEMENTINE > NEW POTATO CABOOSE > BORN CROSS-EYED > SPANISH JAM > CAUTION JAM > DARK STAR. 1st taped CLEMENTINE, rare lesh/hunter song, so rare its existence wasn’t remembered until the ‘90s, sung by garcia. lost coltrane-influenced modal dead jazz. love this melody/jam/mood. niiiice dissolve. the CAUTION groove bridges to DARK STAR segue via the latter’s short-lived jerry/phil call/response riff intro (which they kinda mess up). the 3 minutes of DARK STAR are organ heavy, with brief jerry squiggles before the 1st verse, after which the reel ends & the time machine breaks.

1/26/68 seattle: seattle debut, formerly dated 1/22. the 1st recorded hour-long suite, taped for “anthem of the sun,” is the extended groovy highlight. THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE > NEW POTATO CABOOSE > BORN CROSS-EYED > SPANISH JAM > DARK STAR > CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > THE ELEVEN > FEEDBACK > AND WE BID YOU GOODNIGHT. beautiful pre-SPANISH JAM feedback. intimate quiet noise carved by weir & garcia, occasional shapes of melody before gradual build. gentler, more successful version of the call/response segue into 1st fully taped DARK STAR, maybe already slowing. richest yet, jerry discovering space moves. THE ELEVEN vocals & song structure are tighter than previous airing & escape via jam for 1st time, trickling down & upshifting to CAUTION.

1/27/68 seattle: formerly dated 1/23. full (or nearly full) 2-hour gig scattered between taper-traded soundboard, 2 discs of 2009 “road trips.” song order approximate, but i think this is it. per clipping, TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT opens. doesn’t quite have the mojo (nor do weir’s vocal attempts). also, cops busting dancers. all kinds of charming stoned crosstalk. jerry, oozing sarcasm: “well, the cops say you can’t dance.” pigpen wisdom: “cops ain’t god.” now 7 minutes, DARK STAR has tightest recorded version of early jerry/phil intro, lead bass, & peaking guitar before tag into CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > THE ELEVEN. ~46m of show-closing suiteness, THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE > CLEMENTINE > NEW POTATO CABOOSE > BORN CROSS-EYED > SPANISH JAM. CRYPTICAL outro rainbows big, exits to jam, veers towards SCHOOLGIRL, & instead segues via quick rhythmic blur into heady swing of CLEMENTINE. weir(?) singing falsetto with big swooping intro notes of BORN CROSS-EYED. really a spectacularly complicated piece of psych-pop WTF but shockingly graceful (sometimes). 17m SPANISH JAM coalesces from loose phrases into stomping themes before trickling out. “see you next time we’re in seattle, i guess,” jerry says.

1/30/68 eugene: SDS presents the grateful dead. all that circulates of the band’s eugene debut (via 2009 road trips bonus disc) is 12-minute standalone NEW POTATO CABOOSE. everybody’s talkin’ (even pig) but not always the same conversation.

2/2/68 portland: 40 excellent minutes of the grateful dead meeting the legendary spring-loaded floor of the crystal ballroom. 14m VIOLA LEE BLUES opener is a real motherfather, as they say. early showoffy peaks & staying near high-speed crescendo for duration. CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT outro hovers before a swift move into last & crispest of 3 ’68 versions of CLEMENTINE, lost & gone temporarily. how did they never stumble into this 2-chord progression during an early ’70s DARK STAR? standalone DARK STAR closer. last with old intro. late-breaking realization: there are no kick/snare drums on these early versions, just busy hand percussion, cymbals, occasional muted toms, plus lead bass, repetitive organ, etc.. hip arrangement, really.

2/3/68 portland: excellent slab o’ primal dead that came into circulation in the early ’90s, soundboard quality getting better almost every show as dead’s crew learns to operate multitrack. opens with 1st OTHER ONE featuring “spanish lady…” 1st verse, apparently written after previous show. and in mexico late this night, beat hero & dead housemate neal cassady dies, maybe around time weir sings (the already written) 2nd verse ode to “cowboy neal.” heavy. NEW POTATO CABOOSE hits nice even float, jerry gliding with cloud figures, & builds from there, bobby kinda shredding alongside, even. 1st standalone BORN CROSS-EYED emphasizes how weird & packed & short it is, 2.5 minutes before the dribble into feedback. love it. pigpenology: in GOOD MORNING LITTLE SCHOOLGIRL, the 1st appearance of “box back nitties…” (via lightnin’ hopkins).

2/14/68 carousel ballroom: a valentine’s boogie at the official opening of the local bands’ DIY venue (& future fillmore west). very well-circulated in ye olden days, owing to largely to early FM broadcast & recordings made for (& used on) “anthem of the sun.” catches full flow of 2-set (early/late) hometown gig. early show built around 24-minute DARK STAR > CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT, starting to resemble “live/dead” sequence. 1st appearance of cascading jerry/phil DARK STAR vocals on refrain. plus, garcia’s 1-note minimal space-out jam episode starts to differentiate itself around the 4:00 mark. rippin’ CHINA CAT solos. super awesome grungy tone by weir en route into THE ELEVEN, maybe the coolest he ever employed? vocals are together & sound boss. garcia dedicates late show to friends who just had a baby “& also we respectfully dedicate this set to the memory of neal cassady,” who’d died in mexico 10 days earlier. weir: “and this song in particular…” for cowboy neal, heavy 35m THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE > NEW POTATO CABOOSE > BORN CROSS-EYED > SPANISH JAM. fierce licks in NEW POTATO especially & deep shifts between chaos & peaks during long SPANISH JAM. 30m ALLIGATOR > CAUTION > FEEDBACK has the “get up & dance…” snippet used on “anthem,” 1st appearance of “burn down the fillmore, gas the avalon” lyric (scene politics too real), & FEEDBACK that could’ve been jammed at a brooklyn DIY venue in 2018. someone announces a protest the next day: “remember, we are all prisoners until everybody is free, so tomorrow come to san quentin!” country joe & the dead’ll be there. freeform KMPX DJ handling remote broadcast signs off at 2:20 am. (phil lesh once called it his favorite show. despite being a classic & phil’s favorite dead show, this was also the night jerry pushed him down the stairs, pissed about how they were playing.)

2/22/68 lake tahoe: the first of 3 “trip & ski” shows in lake tahoe, in whichever order you choose. a half-hour vocalless fragment via the official taper’s section blog34-minute stack-o-trax/karaoke version of DARK STAR > CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > THE ELEVEN > CAUTION. lack of vocals is fascinating especially on THE ELEVEN, hearing the song’s construction. also, bass mix is super loud & nice, with lots of lead phil to carry the jams. during CAUTION, garcia jams on the WE BID YOU GOODNIGHT theme for the 1st time, only a few bars, a few weeks before its 1st known version. also kind of fun to hear a totally skewed mix on CAUTION for different perspective, especially knowing that the recording from following night really is just exactly perfect.

2/23/68 lake tahoe: the best-sounding ’68 recording yet. 19-minute VIOLA LEE BLUES sounds like it’s going to break apart & does, drummers confused (in stereo), but all clicks back. another great 35-minute DARK STAR > CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT, perhaps the essential version of the sequence, given the pristine quality. beautiful drumless DARK STAR, the 1st taped version with the rewritten/semi-permanent synchronized intro, almost 7 minutes & turning splendiferous as garcia’s phrases get quieter & more spacious. drum mix makes everything sound awesome, kreutzmann & hart mostly really locked in, nice subtleties during back half of 10-minute BORN CROSS-EYED > SPANISH JAM (with a feedback landing between).

2/24/68 lake tahoe: despite another hi-fi stereo recording, doesn’t quite have the mojo of the night before, though still lots to dig & dig into. 17-minute THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE > NEW POTATO CABOOSE missing oomph & reason becomes clear when phil announces, “if bill kreutzmann would just come back to the stage & play some more music, i promise to never say anything nasty about him again.” (garcia: “HAW HAW.”) side note, billy was apparently skied out, not a euphemism. billy’s back for 39-minute ALLIGATOR > CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > THE ELEVEN > ALLIGATOR > CAUTION > FEEDBACK, including 1st recorded song sandwich (excepting blues medleys and/or drum interludes). during 2nd ALLIGATOR segment, garcia tosses in BID YOU GOODNIGHT theme again, now zapping the jam straight to bliss the way it will when it becomes part of GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELIN’ BAD in a few years. FEEDBACK drips to an unexpectedly graceful & quiet ending as mickey (i assume) taps a triangle & eventually drops it gently, the music ceasing when it stops rattling.

3/3/68 haight street: enormous & illegal commando show on haight street during an afternoon of city-sanctioned music elsewhere. tape made by steve brown, who also snapped icomic pic of garcia on his way to work that day. fuzzyish mono audience tape. 21-minute VIOLA LEE BLUES opener goes effectively molten. weir’s not-quite-rhythm/not-quite-lead style already in full form in mid-jam. unusual & chill post-peak denouement. after that, it’s 30-plus minutes of pigpen songs. rarely documented SMOKESTACK LIGHTNING. weir takes last verse & outro of TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT, pig singing backup. not sure that’s working. a black panther or ally gets on mic: “DON’T PUT DOWN THE FUZZ! THE FUZZ IS ONLY DOING WHAT HE WAS TOLD TO DO, BABY!” (phil: “by the landlord!”) “IT’S THE PEOPLE THAT TELL THEM WHAT TO DO [THAT] ARE THE DIRTY BASTARDS!” before a plea for huey newton. and barely a minute into CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT, presumably as the jams get going, the tape ends. steve had taped cream at winterland the night before & the batteries died.

3/16/68 carousel ballroom: the saturday of a 3-show grateful dead/jefferson airplane weekend at the carousel ballroom, their DIY venue. 2 sets, beginning with a 35-minute DARK STAR > CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > THE ELEVEN > GOOD MORNING LITTLE SCHOOLGIRL that is either the end or the entirety of the early show. 1st 3 used on stellar “so many roads” box set. DARK STAR cracks 7 minutes, now growing roughly a minute a month so far. sweet garcia glides between verses. little SPANISH JAM-like minor turn as the band drops into THE ELEVEN. still working on exit strategy. 47-minute late show includes weir’s intro: “this set is irrespectfully dedicated to jerry van ram & posse.” garcia: “a little heat-eating music.” local cops, maybe? set-opening MORNING DEW isn’t slower, exactly, but feels more spacious & less manic, even during long peak. set’s fire comes during the ALLIGATOR portion of 30-minute ALLIGATOR > CAUTION > FEEDBACK > BID YOU GOODNIGHT. sudden & layered FEEDBACK segment. 1st recorded BID YOU GOODNIGHT. sounds nice. the audience even claps along on the right beat!

3/17/68 carousel ballroom: 16-minute TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT ends the early show, going through the moves. weir overdoes a reprise verse again. but then an entire late set’s worth of psychedelia. hour-long late show keeps energy roiling, all pretty crackling: THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE > NEW POTATO CABOOSE, CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > THE ELEVEN > CAUTION > FEEDBACK. THE ELEVEN (11 minutes), CAUTION (21 minutes), & FEEDBACK (7 minutes) all on the longer side. CAUTION stays intense & almost chaotically blooms into major key glory 2/3s through. shifting FEEDBACK keeps digging for new textures.

3/29/68 carousel ballroom: opening a 3-night run at their own carousel ballroom, alternating sets with chuck berry & curley cook (who would play rhythm guitar on garcia/wales’ “hooteroll?”). early audience recording, likely by band/crew/owsley. really enjoying cranking it up between songs & listening to the audience chatter & remembering that all these people were cool enough to be seeing the dead at the carousel in ’68. 1st taped SITTIN’ ON TOP OF THE WORLD since 7/66 & last ’til 4/69, but (being on their debut ’67 album) surely many missing versions. “we never did that one very good even when we were doin’ it,” notes phil. like a shot of the warlocks. early show closes with combo of rare standalone DARK STAR (ending on a single chord, which is logical but sounds weird) & MORNING DEW (really starting to figure out how to create a big peak before a quiet valley for 2nd verse). late show leads with TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT & follows with psych jams. can’t say i’m really enjoying weir’s early falsetto & his new role as junior LOVELIGHT hypeman. THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE links to NEW POTATO CABOOSE. i dig the weird garcia/lesh/weir harmony on the chorus, but adore garcia’s loping octave-jumping solo even more. 9 seconds of BORN CROSS-EYED before it & rest of the late set vanish.

3/30/68 carousel ballroom: 37-minute DARK STAR > CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT, last recorded instance of early suite with CHINA CAT inside, & last taped CHINA CAT ’til 4/69. DARK STAR now over 9 minutes, some long raga yarns before the 1st verse, garcia getting more confident & instantly looking for new destinations as soon as singing is done. pigpen’s organ part starting to get annoying. toodleloo to BORN CROSS-EYED, too, last recorded version of underrated garage-psych blaster. last taped SPANISH JAM until 1970 is mad spacious & lands in DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY, settling into post-space slot like a proto jerry ballad.

3/31/68 carousel ballroom: cuts in mid-TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT, kinda digging percussion/vocal breakdown chaos. last recorded BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE ’til 4/69 sounds like it’s about to giddily implode in the best way possible. “anybody got anything they’d like to hear?” garcia asks. funny hearing early dead freak requests & jerry’s responses. “SUZIE Q? far out.” a few COLD RAIN partisans. last taped DANCING IN THE STREET until 6/69 ensues, garcia/weir/lesh weaving blissful detailed pocket. missing the beginning & most of the vocals, 13 minutes of CAUTION > FEEDBACK > BID YOU GOODNIGHT is fierce & pretty, give or take nonlinear percussion during latter.

5/18/68 santa clara: entirety of set at northern california folk rock festival (taped by jorma kaukonen) is 40-minute freeform ALLIGATOR > CAUTION exploration in front of a festival crowd, with DRUMZ break, pre-allmans jam on donovan’s THERE IS A MOUNTAIN, & FEEDBACK outro, all made gnarlier (especially the organ) by the tape.
condensed excerpts from a post-show interview by @jormakaukonen.
jorma: a few words for the people please, bob weir?
weir: fuck the people! fuck the proletariat! [change in tone] hey man…
jorma: are you playing the shrine tonight?
weir: the real reason i’m late to the shrine is ‘cuz i’m getting hung up by this asshole with a tape recorder who… thinks he can have something & hold onto it forever. what i mean to say is… nothing lasts.

6/7/68 carousel ballroom (maybe): 47-minute reel of ST. STEPHEN > THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE > NEW POTATO CABOOSE > ALLIGATOR > DRUMZ > JAM > CAUTION. excellent drum mix. fades in on the last 17 seconds of (probably) the earliest recorded ST. STEPHEN with rough 2-minute organ-heavy outro jam that hints at the not-yet-written bridge to THE ELEVEN, before circling into CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT. keys-driven between-verse jam on the OTHER ONE, garcia laying back. 11-minute NEW POTATO CABOOSE labeled as having a THIRTEENS JAM but i think that’s normal. some wavy, majorly blissed garcia corners. the real shred comes post-DRUMZ, garcia just reeling off notes. kinda wanky, but cool conversational drumming to go with it, & also it’s beautiful. loses steam & lands in a kinda muted (& maybe soused) ALLIGATOR > CAUTION that fades early.

6/8/68 carousel ballroom: 29 minutes worth of ST. STEPHEN > THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT from a co-bill with the venue co-operators jefferson airplane. fleetwood mac missed the run (their would-be U.S. debut) due to visa issues. earliest full ST. STEPHEN is raw, played fast & not settled into its groove yet, a few aimless noodles in middle/end. only garcia seems to have the words down. glockenspiel is already present. garcia & lesh use the old DARK STAR intro as a signal to end. band shifts from the CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT outro into TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT in a different key than usual, which fucks up pigpen. weir semi-awkwardly takes 1st verse, band drops into a drum break, & recover.

6/9/68 carousel ballroom (maybe): weir: “whoever stole our scratcher, please bring it back. you can just unobtrusively start passing it forward & no one will ever know. reward offered. we need it for the next number.” don’t think it comes back. 1st long DARK STAR, 16 minutes, only one recorded between 3/68-8/68. 5 minutes before 1st verse. organ figure pulses but garcia liberates band around 11m mark. then: floatation (cruelly interrupted by a reel flip), hand percussion subtly shifting to kit for 1st taped time. also the 1st recorded DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN, landing the same way it always will. band starting to click closer to the classic ST. STEPHEN bounce, still working on phrasing/dynamic/flow. charmingly fierce & committed jerry.

6/14/68 fillmore east: 1st show at the village theater since bill graham turned it into the fillmore east. (also that night: rod stewart’s american debut, with jeff beck.) terrible sounding tape, exceedingly psychedelic set. a post from the alleged taper says the set actually opened with a long, quiet DARK STAR, but recording begins with magnificent feedback jam (plus glockenspiel) that flows into THE ELEVEN > ST. STEPHEN, only surviving sequence like that. 43-minute ALLIGATOR > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT > CAUTION, last 30 in A+ soundboard (via non-streaming “fillmore west ’69” bonus CD). active pigpen harmonica, chatty drums, shimmering feedback/glockenspiel landing. dick latvala would apply a thunderskull.

8/21/68 fillmore west: massive amounts of lead bass before the first verse of THE OTHER ONE (& throughout), starting to feel jammier, but the high velocity CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT outro is still where it’s at, 9 minutes of crystal shreds. 21-minute ALLIGATOR closes the early show with a DRUMZ segment, a wooly garcia/drumzers tangent, dizzyingly awesome major key bliss peaking with a brief MOUNTAIN JAM, a gentle fuzz valley, & a BID YOU GOODNIGHT instrumental bridge back to ALLIGATOR before feedback set exit. late show begins with the 1st taped DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN, going into DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY. 14-minute DARK STAR (missing beginning), back to hand percussion only, but curling outwards. lush solos push against repetitive keyboard part but never shake it. since last taped version in june, ST. STEPHEN has found its distinct bounce & vocal arrangement. 1st aside in pause after “what another man spills…” (phil: “well, i mean, ahumm…”) & 1st appearance of irish-sounding “william tell” bridge into THE ELEVEN.

8/22/68 fillmore west: 27 minutes (possibly even all) of the early show, consisting of ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY. a smart build into a frenzied monster stomp & back down. late show introduced by bill graham: “clean cut but morally corrupt, the grateful dead.” 12 minute DARK STAR is last suiteless version ’til early ’69, pigpen’s carousel organ keeping band in orbit when garcia/lesh/weir conversation seems ready to fly off. dead problems, 1968 edition – phil: “turn the strobe light off, please.” jerry: “it makes clicks on the stage.” sure enough, audible tape noise seems to disappear. recognizable to the audience as (most of) side A of the band’s new “anthem of the sun”: THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE tags to a massive & essential 13-minute NEW POTATO CABOOSE featuring a bass-led bliss jam with multiple inventive peaks & no empty space. yes! followed by side B (& then some): 29-minute ALLIGATOR > DRUMZ > JAM > CAUTION > BID YOU GOODNIGHT. post-DRUMZ is a dependable high-speed ’68 freak-out, here with lesh-driven turns. CAUTION noise coda has too many connected ideas to be labeled FEEDBACK.

8/23/68 shrine expo hall: 39-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY. archetypal ’68 DARK STAR, tethered by pigpen’s organ figure as band goes a-questing, though organ fades into garcia’s weaves after 1st verse & dissipates as jam peaks. but an underreported aspect of DARK STAR ’68: there are no drums, usually just quiet shakers, etc., so pig’s repetitive organ part is pretty much the rhythmic center, like the drone on 7” version, & intentionally so, i think. still wish i could mix it out much of the time. weir takes over the cosmic punchline during the pause in ST. STEPHEN: “i want you to know that’s how it is…” THE ELEVEN’s insane vocal arrangement/phrasing clicking into place. can’t believe how graceful garcia manages to sound singing these lyrics. 34-minute ALLIGATOR > DRUMZ > JAM > CAUTION, the real action building from the post-DRUMZ clouds. soaring garcia/lesh shapes edge into chaos, downshift (momentarily) to CAUTION, head back up, & then even further out.

8/24/68 shrine expo hall: recorded on vivid multitrack & released in 1992 as “two from the vault,” an early archival release & great document of primal dead. mellow & almost cocktail jazz-like 16-minute GOOD MORNING LITTLE SCHOOLGIRL before a 39-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY suite, simultaneously getting tighter & starting to open up. after 1st verse, 11-minute DARK STAR cracks free from pigpen’s organ part, overridden by garcia’s droned single-note signal, for brief & exciting group float, still more a prelude to the coming excitement. graceful deceleration into DEATH DON’T via garcia/pigpen dialogue. 30-minute THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE > NEW POTATO CABOOSE with a purposeful dissolve segue, drums dropping out besides cymbals, weir adding his own 2nd leads behind garcia. another enormous NEW POTATO, maybe the highest-fi recording of the soaring lesh-cued thirteens jam. pigpen’s “she’s got box-back niddies…” spiel migrates to the slashing set-closing 17-minute TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT, though not yet the gear-shifting musical cue it will become. song earns big ovation & encore. 1st recorded (& always rare) MORNING DEW encore. garcia is starting build towards crescendo when the plug gets pulled. “the law says that’s all, so i guess that’s it…”

8/30 (or 31)/68 fillmore west: often mislabeled “8/28/68 avalon ballroom.” early show consists of 32-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY plus a “quick” 12-minute TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. 11-minute DARK STAR has the 1st instance of what old tapers called the “sputnik” jam, naming the gonging/chiming tones garcia plays around 6:30 here, a regular feature over the next few years (& on “live/dead”). most important (for now) it escapes the dreaded organ part. only surviving bit of the late show consists of a bill graham introduction fragment, proving the tape’s not from the avalon, & a 15-minute GOOD MORNING LITTLE SCHOOLGIRL that seems to curl occasionally into space, or it could be the distorted audience tape.

9/2/68 betty nelson’s organic raspberry farm: glorious labor day jams at a delightfully archetypal hippie fest an hour northeast of seattle, maybe their best surviving festival performance. following way stoned stage announcements, a deep psychedelic set at the sky river festival, opening with charged-up 32 minutes of DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY, last song mostly missing. brisk & drumless 14-minute DARK STAR is the 1st with a mix that almost fully disappears the organ part & it’s glorious, with brief sputnikisms. enormous roar on the studio-like soundboard when drummers switch to the kits & hit the snares for ST. STEPHEN. drums sounds vivid, though there are some vocal issues onstage (with garcia getting pissed at sound people afterwards). THE ELEVEN breaks out of its time signature in a newly graceful way, landing in a space that sounds almost like the prelude to a SPANISH JAM. 25-minute ALLIGATOR > DRUMZ > JAM > CAUTION to close. weir’s guitar distorts & overloads on the tape, sounding gnarly & amazing, even more so because (as always) weir is perhaps most inventive during feedback segments.

9/12/68 pacific recording: maybe a jam with david crosby & the animals’ vic briggs, but likely not? or maybe david nelson is involved? minus weir & pigpen, phil tries to teach the crazy instrumental phrasing of CLEMENTINE to unnamed musicians. they never quite get it. phil leads & sings CLEMENTINE. surprisingly cool & both gives me new appreciation for tune & understanding of why they dropped it. ends with 9m space jam, coalescing into freak-jazz chaos with hippie scatting that is probably not croz.

9/20/68 berkeley community theater: 45 minute benefit set for the ali akbar college of music. hippie percussion ensues. the least essential ’68 dead tape? played at the urging of ali akbar khan’s student mickey hart. supremely stoned banter as more drums get wheeled out. 39-minute ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > DRUMZ, except that 27 of them are unevenly mixed tabla-enhanced DRUMZ with vince delgado & shankar ghosh, plus chanting. not terribly interesting to my ears.

10/8/68 the matrix: the 1st of the grateful dead spin-off shows known as mickey & the hartbeats, though here billed as “jerry garceeah & his friends.” 3 sets of jams with slightly different lineups, beginning with garcia/lesh/kreutzmann/hart. jerry: “everybody sitting close to the front of the stage, i’d like to caution you about mickey, ‘cause he spits frequently.” after a false start & amp blowout (garcia: “that means we’re washed up”), a 31-minute CLEMENTINE JAM > THE ELEVEN JAM > DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY. garcia & lesh overcompensate for the missing players & it mostly just melts into hippie blooze. 19 minutes of noodles on 1st taped THE SEVEN border on spinal tap mark II-ish territory, though bridge changes hint at a place where hunter lyrics might’ve gone. as garcia points out, it’s all just an experiment. 16-minute DARK STAR JAM > COSMIC CHARLIE. freed of structure & organ part, the results are new freedoms, empty voids, & astral episodic improv. the 1st real DARK STAR, kinda. earliest taped COSMIC CHARLIE is raw cloudbursting fun, no lyrics yet for double bridges. jefferson airplane’s jack casady replaces lesh on bass for set 2. at first, it’s m0ar bl00ze, but they latch into hypnotic 9-minute improv that stays coherent as it gets denser. 21-minute OTHER ONE jam, its 1st time sprung from its suite (& without its main author). “this band is called mickey hart & the hartbeats,” garcia announces. for set 3, meanwhile, elvin bishop replaces garcia. formerly of the butterfield blues band, bishop’s a better blues guitarist than garcia but i’ll pass. too much power, not enough jam.

10/10/68 the matrix: most of open jams of the primal dead era. they’re getting the hang of open improv. show begins with garcia & lesh lock into pattern & kreutzmann/hart drop in behind. bright 27-minute hippie jazz jam ensues, rich with bright turns & kreutzmann magick. less interesting when it’s just a half-hour hippie blues, as follows, though garcia delivers beautiful quiet (& almost folky) IT’S A SIN vocal, only version between ’66 & ’69. garcia invites still-unidentified dude named marvin to honk harmonica & sing. meh. 21-minute jam on NEW POTATO CABOOSE themes, turning minor briefly instead of the triumphant lesh-led bliss from late summer. doesn’t quite reach density & disintegrates. jack casady replaces lesh for set 2. 53-minute TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT JAM > DRUMZ > JAM > OTHER ONE JAM > DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY goes in/out of focus. neat chanting transition from DRUMZ to power bass, mickey clonks, delighted new OTHER ONE moves, & proto-TRUCKIN’ peaks. only taped instance (i think) of mickey on glockenspiel during intro to DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY, beautifully quiet. not entirely together, but a nice idea that would’ve been cool to develop. lesh back on bass for set 3, inventive & flowing 29-minute DARK STAR JAM > THE ELEVEN JAM > THE SEVEN. kreutzmann on kit from the start, a big advance. awkward sometimes, but blissful as drums click. last SEVEN ’til 9/69 flies with cartoony garcia turns.

10/12/68 avalon ballroom: pigpen is absent, maybe temporarily fired, & band’s sound opens up. the 3 nights of hartbeats experimentation at the matrix are immediately obvious in 38-minute 1st set consisting of DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY. band sounds bolder on great DARK STAR, even weir. garcia & lesh soar. soundperson hilariously moves mickey’s very loud scratcher around in the stereo mix, panning it hard in rhythm, & kinda covering over kreutzmann’s cool switch from percussion to drum kit. set 2 is a 42-minute THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE > NEW POTATO CABOOSE with concise drum breaks, major key bliss clouds (including NEW POTATO’s happy thirteens jam), & glockenspiel-laced feedback descent. attached to the front of this recording is a MORNING DEW without pigpen (often included on human be-in ’67 tapes) that’s perhaps from this week of shows. great, confident specimen of the early uptempo arrangement with big double-drummin’. maybe it’s an encore from this night?

10/13/68 avalon ballroom: an anomaly in grateful dead history, the only recorded show with the same exact setlist as the night before. another show without pigpen. maybe 2 shorter sets or 1 long one, but 1st half is 40-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY. no stereo-panned scratcher on DARK STAR this time, but flowing momentum through jam. 33-minute THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE > NEW POTATO CABOOSE shorter than night before. sparkling garcia bridge between the two. no blissy thirteens jam in NEW POTATO, going right to drum break (with chanting), CAUTION-y peaks, & feedback coda.

10/20/68 greek theater: the all cal rock festival. whole lotta pigpen, back in the band after being MIA on october tapes. jams getting interesting under his GOOD MORNING LITTLE SCHOOLGIRL & TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT, with fun, conversational high-speed double-drumming & arcing garcia leads. powerful & crisp 36-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > CAUTION. pig now playing some interesting organ under the sputnik jam & other DARK STAR episodes. big transitions with appropriately dramatic gearshifts.

10/30/68 the matrix: minus weir & pigpen, nearly 3 hours of music, though hard to tell where the set breaks are. tranquil & floating 17-minute DARK STAR JAM into DEATH LETTER BLUES, only recording of garcia singing the son house tune, barest hint of a VIOLA LEE-like rhythmic arrangement. “we’re just thrown together by fate, so we’re playing fate music,” garcia says, before fragmentary jams, best of which is 16 minutes of the band discovering how to play around THE OTHER ONE, rarely stating triplets but keeping the ball in the air. 32-minute CLEMENTINE JAM > THE ELEVEN JAM > DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY, hitting into serene & fuzzy stoner swing during nicely developed 14-minute CLEMENTINE JAM. elvin bishop (late of the butterfield blues band) joins for a winding & moody 17-minute improv that’s a cool example of garcia playing co-lead guitar. good shifts (& some cowbell fields), followed by nearly half-hour of longhaired blues. for good measure, another 19 flowing minutes on the DARK STAR theme to close out the night, more deconstructed bass leads than the 1st take & still going when the tape runs out.

11/1/68 chico: a mushy soundboard that turns psychedelically unlistenable for a bit. as the MC says when tape cuts in, “do what you feel like doing.” befitting an out of town show, 12-minute DARK STAR opener is less freeform & a little more energized than october versions, prelude to shredding THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE > NEW POTATO CABOOSE, the latter sadly cut off. but then somebody kicks out a plug or something & all goes fuzzy until the back half of a 22-minute ALLIGATOR > CAUTION > BID YOU GOODNIGHT, with a nice spaced landing. dig the graceful bookend of starting/ending show without drums. tape seem to end with the MC/promoter asking for volunteer roadies from the crowd to help break down the show. “we need all the manpower we can get to get out of here real fast. i forgot to…” & tape cuts off.

11/6/68 pacific high recording: 80 minutes of studio rehearsal with new auxiliary keyboardist tom constanten, set to join the band in a few weeks. begins with a bit of TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT, making it clear they’re not replacing pigpen, even if he’s absent here. after a 13-minute DARK STAR, flowers blooming between verses, an hour of the band practicing (& talking through) the transition between ST. STEPHEN and THE ELEVEN. TC sounds pretty stiff throughout, often mimicking pig’s parts, though aggressively responds to garcia’s ELEVEN shredding during one take in a way he wouldn’t do much of onstage. lots of chatter, very little of it audible even on headphones. whoever labeled doesn’t seem to know the band’s individual speaking voices.

11/22/68 columbus: the 1st grateful dead show in ohio & the last before tom constanten joins as an auxiliary organist the next night. deadbase once reported that mickey’s the only drummer on this show, but almost positive that’s not the case on this MORNING DEW opener, which peaks quickly & gracefully. 36-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT is 1st taped appearance of the sequence that would appear on “live/dead.” garcia goes molten on DARK STAR. hard to hear drums, but pretty sure kreutzmann is right behind him. band starting to find some flow for under pigpen’s LOVELIGHT spiels. “box back nitties” line almost achieves drama. 27-minute THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE > NEW POTATO CABOOSE. in latter, an efficient charge through the bliss jam & a great dissolve/resolution. BID YOU GOODNIGHT encore nicely accompanied by chimes, until boisterous clapalong springs up, which seems to tick song up a notch, drummers starting to add accents by the end. phil asks if there’s anywhere else to play.

12/7/68 louisville: 1st tape with TC & 1st trip to kentucky. abbreviated 22-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN opener. hints of free percussion & harmonics & spiraling TC organ before 2nd DARK STAR verse, but THE ELEVEN derails due to bad onstage echo. “nobody knows where present time is,” explains weir. a fairly sedated promoter seems to have access to a mic & provides stoned crowd control. “the curfew’s been cancelled, the kids are all in bed,” he announces. he’ll be back. 29-minute THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE > NEW POTATO CABOOSE. OTHER ONE middle jam starting to catch, with garcia/lesh/TC weaving leads. nice space between the two pieces, coming to huge thirteens-driven crest. unusual 2nd set opens with the only known live version of ROSEMARY, a gorgeous & deeply underrated piece of quiet garcia/hunter freak-folk, swaddled in nitrous warble in its “aoxomoxoa” studio version & buried in tape hiss here. gentle arrangement, light shaker part. no bill kreutzmann on the 2nd set. “one of our drummers, uh, broke down,” jerry explains, doing some crowd work & asking for requests. (“kick it on down the line!” suggests the promoter.) other unusual song choices include HURTS ME TOO & HE WAS A FRIEND OF MINE. drums are muted but mickey seems to do okay by himself during audience-requested MORNING DEW, followed by nice BID YOU GOODNIGHT. “you’ve just been victimized by the grateful dead,” jerry says.

12/16/68 the matrix: mickey & the hartbeats anchored by garcia, hart, & casady. set 1 is 40-minute jam with jefferson airplane’s spencer dryden on 2nd drums. cycling through blues feels, casady sometimes comically thunderous, but reaching impressive drive by end. nice soft landing. 2nd set is less bloozey & far more gripping, heavy 38-minute improv with big brother drummer dave getz, starting with DARK STAR theme. hart/getz lock in naturally & surf energy flows. bright coda with CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER teases. warning: cowbell. some recordings list a jam on pharoah sanders’s THE CREATOR HAS A MASTER PLAN, but i don’t think that tune was even recorded until 2 months later. lovely idea, though. still one of the more dashing & coherent hartbeats episodes.

12/20/68 shrine expo hall: 7 minutes of forceful THE ELEVEN ends with feedback fade-out, apparently an intended segue, but garcia stops to tune. then comes the 1st taped MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON, baroque/freak-folk dead with a noodled outro. 15-minute TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT is 1st with band creating effective drama behind all of pigpen’s big pivots — “lookin’ here & there,” “now, wait a minute,” & “box back nitties.” plus shmancy TC solos, matchmaking by pig, fade to near quiet, & big coda.

12/21/68 shrine expo hall: power keeps flickering during TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT & THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE, making unexpected swells. comes back in time for a gentle CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT coda & quiet turn into HURTS ME TOO. weir watch: “we’ve got a choice between faster & louder, everybody who wants ‘faster’ raise your hand & shout… the A’s have it.” long ALLIGATOR sequence ensues. wonder what the louder alternative was? VIOLA LEE BLUES? typically raging 42-minute ALLIGATOR > CAUTION > BID YOU GOODNIGHT. neat mutated guitar duo by garcia/weir in post-CAUTION feedback. pipgen participation in BID YOU GOODNIGHT, which jerry hands off to next band, pulse, who seem to pick it up from 2nd stage.

12/29/68 miami: hour-long festival set after hugh masekala & before marvin gaye. “we once put this song on a single; that’s interesting,” says phil, totally dryly, introducing 44-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT > BID YOU GOODNIGHT. DARK STAR flows a little stiffly, & there’s the usual festy slop, but mostly it’s just garcia spitting fire at n00bs. 1st taped instance of the band going into THE OTHER ONE without the CRYPTICAL prelude.

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