Jesse Jarnow

#deadfreaksunite 1978

#deadfreaksunite 1978
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.

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

1/6/78 san bernardino: a bummer milestone in a biker town. garcia’s voice is gone. sings his share of songs in 1st set & clearly shouldn’t be. sounds so painful. jerry doesn’t sing during set 2, all weir. 61m PLAYING IN THE BAND > ESTIMATED PROPHET > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > TRUCKIN’. swell: far-out 23m PLAYING with bob/phil/keith playing hard & leading to big new spaces. not swell: garcia down with wook flu & MIA for solid 8m. jam borders on jazz odyssey ’til jerry returns briefly, disappears again, & weir leads an actual non-count-off segue (!!) into ESTIMATED. garcia’s back for ESTIMATED’s pre-verse squgglies & resumes trying to sing & aw jerry, please stop, man? jam gets suitably weird/deep. almost 12m TRUCKIN’ doesn’t truck anywhere per se, but keeps circling back to huge crest & they nail it each time & it’s awesome. when set ends, 2 people (bernardino bikers?) grab mics. “PRETTY FUCKIN’ NEAT, EH?” “GRATEFUL DEAD!” feel better, jer.

1/7/78 san diego: without garcia songs, 1st set is mostly tame. rippin’ JACK STRAW with bob singing both parts. but it’s rough, fam. bright 24m DANCING IN THE STREET, 1st since early fall, is consistently fun. drums/jerry segment recalls sloppy ’60s jamfests. easy crossfade to SAMSON & DELILAH. ~9:25 into gently zonked 10m PLAYING IN THE BAND, weir flirts with CLOSE ENCOUNTERS alien call with 2 quick mutated phrases, 1st in-jam appearance. new kalimba (mickey, i assume) twinkles briefly in DRUMZ. nice stereo thunder. NOT FADE AWAY hits blissful major peak.

1/8/78 san diego: last of the grateful dead’s 3 laryngitis shows without jerry vocals, not even backup. on opening JACK STRAW, weir modulates slightly singing jerry’s parts. maybe the only place this debacle feels cute. also the anniversary of the time weir gave bill graham a new nickname for his birthday, uncle bobo. something about the way the guitars sound on these tapes is starting to sound slightly harsh, almost like keith’s synth. some subtle change in tech? gliding mid-song peaks in 14m ESTIMATED PROPHET. fun expressive jam naturally escapes 7/8 for extended moment of martian jerry guitar. 16m OTHER ONE dissolves & reforms into righteously galloping & purposeful post-space swing weirdness before big resolve. phil, before encore: “if every place we place we played was like this, we’d live here!” okay, then!

1/10/78 shrine auditorium: jerry’s singing again, but… his voice is still gone & it hurts me to listen, so i have to skip most of his songs? weird. while garcia wasn’t singing, weir started doing C&W twofers every night (here MEXICALI BLUES > ME & MY UNCLE), now happening in more 1st sets than not. burning PASSENGER! fairly massive MUSIC NEVER STOPPED, too. more CLOSE ENCOUNTERS tunings. 52m ESTIMATED PROPHET > HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > OTHER ONE > FRANKLIN’S TOWER. 1st FRANKLIN’S since 10/77, now separated from its suite. gargantuan solo on 13m ESTIMATED PROPHET & nice space-jazz piano comping in jam. forceful 9m OTHER ONE. keith goes uncharacteristically ape.

1/11/78 shrine auditorium: another night with jerry’s voice ragged from laryngitis & i’m gonna skip to weir songs (what have i come to?) & the jams. nuanced middle solo on 12m 1st set closing LET IT GROW opens to graceful multi-peaked jam & huge outro. round bass leads on sweet SAMSON & DELILAH. 62m TERRAPIN STATION > PLAYING IN THE BAND > ST. STEPHEN > NOT FADE AWAY > PLAYING IN THE BAND gets exactly, sufficiently weird. 21m PLAYING floats between restlessness & alien-toned mini-jams before bass/drumz interlude, free glide, & good group transition into ST. STEPHEN. garcia retains shine deep into ST. STEPHEN. NOT FADE AWAY drips effortlessly back into space. only ever PASSENGER encore. too bad, works well.

1/13/78 santa barbara: an anti-nuclear benefit at old movie theater with cool indoor village vibe. after night off, garcia’s voice is slightly more tolerable, especially on gentle tunes like FRIEND OF THE DEVIL. weir watch: blues-rocker growl getting more pronounced on ALL OVER NOW. silly global GOOD LOVIN’ rap keeps expanding. might be the 1st involving australia? 1st BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE since 3/77, jug band relic now permanently back in rotation. the charming kind of sloppy during beginning & end & also middle. 55m DANCING IN THE STREET > DRUMZ > JAM > WHARF RAT > TRUCKIN’. could equally call this the 1st modern DRUMZ/SPACE or a 34m DANCING. 13m JAM is a pretty wonderful sequence of miniatures, sometimes with drums, messy but somehow always fully locked on garcia’s continuous noodle/thread. like seemingly every spaced zone this month, garcia rides the edge of the CLOSE ENCOUNTERS theme, see ~5:28. had to skip WHARF RAT vocals, but dramatic & rippingly weird solos before a perfunctory TRUCKIN’, etc..

1/14/78 bakersfield:  the dead’s only (& mostly empty) show in the cradle of california country music, origin for a massive part of their sound. “we were kinda hoping more of you would show up,” phil says. “i heard there was a basketball game at the high school, so i can understand…” can still hear the less-is-more bakersfield influence in garcia’s phrasing, but the ’78 model dead is complete opposite, immediately obvious on all guns blazing/tom-tom thunder of JACK STRAW opener. in a related story, new for ’78: over-the-top distorted guitar solo on LOSER, tasteful shred. the drummers seem very excited by this development. recording sounds great, jerry’s voice doesn’t. still painful to hear, but finds little new turns between the cracks on LOSER & elsewhere. 49m ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > NOT FADE AWAY. 22m EYES pushes hard into weirdness, breaking apart but never quite re-gelling.

1/15/78 fresno: largely empty arena. 1st set is barely 60m, 2nd isn’t much more. previous gig at venue in ’74 was nearly full hour longer. bobby: “there’s a fellow up front who’s just declared nuclear war for some obscure purpose.” off-mic, billy(?) singing “i feel good.” still can’t believe phil didn’t debut another song for 15 years after PASSENGER (minus the excellent REVOLUTIONARY HAMSTRUNG BLUES, played once in ’86). 49m TERRAPIN STATION > PLAYING IN THE BAND > WHARF RAT. 27m PLAYING among longest post-’75 jams. never quite coheres, though ends with 2m of almost-solo jerry.

1/17/78 sacramento: jerry’s voice is still pretty rough, but now more like a shorting-out cable, perfectly good signal between flickers, almost unnoticeable when singing with weir & donna. nice quiet lyrical jerry under most of LOOKS LIKE RAIN, including end, seeming to audibly cap weir’s vocal histrionics. 68m ESTIMATED PROPHET > HE’S GONE > JAM > DRUMZ > OTHER ONE > BLACK PETER > TRUCKIN’ stays compelling if not too exploratory. ESTIMATED dashes/darts before nice landing in HE’S GONE. after abbreviated vocal reprise, a bright solo that rises into a solid little 3m jam, winding down as drumzers signal imminent takeover. but keith(!) resists, noodling & assertively leading an unusual song-like jam that’s just him & drummers, then noodling some more. jerry returns for convincing SPACE-burp before DRUMZ as usual. 14m OTHER ONE keeps breaking through ever-briefly. good conversation all the way. BLACK PETER is almost quiet enough for garcia’s voice. soulful keys. nice weir counterpoint under solo.

1/18/78 stockton: end of the laryngitis run but garcia’s getting worse, back to almost full squeak. a few curious jam spaces within. MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP rages to inventive melodic peak. FRIEND OF THE DEVIL solo turning even more lyrical just as tape cuts off. 65m jam is slightly unusual TERRAPIN STATION > PLAYING IN THE BAND > PASSENGER > ESTIMATED PROPHET > STELLA BLUE sequence. 20m PLAYING gets solidly out before garcia mysteriously departs for last 5m & then jam even turns more interesting, weir/phil/keith all space-jazzing aggressively. as on 1/6, weir leads great segue in garcia’s absence, here into 10m PASSENGER. garcia reappears for 1st verse. 1st jammed out version. weir spirals from outro & all zonk on cue into jerry-space. count-off segue into ESTIMATED, which loosens easily to 10m. keith might even lead the segue into STELLA BLUE? whole band is amazing & sensitive but jerry’s voice is in shards. i’ve never been so glad to hear a SUGAR MAGNOLIA closer. maybe not the AROUND & AROUND encore. 4 days off now. get better, buddy.

1/22/78 eugene: the so-called “close encounters” show. garcia’s voice is scratchy, but no longer cringe-inducing. extra piano oomph from the start, keith fully present for much of show. TENNESSEE JED doesn’t quite jam but rounds unexpected corners, weir & keith shaping counterpoints & jerry pulling out new melodies. garcia’s already very good JACK STRAW solo goes volcanic as drummers & rest of band rise to meet him, all soaring into audibly amped last chorus. great moments abound: the swelling jam in MUSIC NEVER STOPPED & even garcia’s solos on GOOD LOVIN’, crackling right through the turnaround. 61m TERRAPIN STATION > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > ST. STEPHEN > NOT FADE AWAY & really what matters is the OTHER ONE. 21m OTHER ONE hits zero gravity between verses but even better is gently weird post-song disassembly where garcia works in 5-note “close encounters” alien call. legendary deadhead moment. skipping the intro figure, garcia jumps right into ST. STEPHEN & keeps up the arcing guitar through unusually bendy NOT FADE AWAY. (i should also mention that i wrote a much longer essay on 1/22/78 for this show’s official release on dave’s picks 23!)

1/30/78 chicago: garcia’s voice is maybe achieving new post-laryngitis baseline. everything’s pretty okay, little is stellar. weir spiels about getting things “just exactly perfect.” off-mic, garcia: “i’m trying to make it as fucked up as possible. i’m not into that perfection shit. it’s almost perfectly fucked.” pause. “now then, where were we?” cue LOOKS LIKE RAIN. the LAZY LIGHTNING > SUPPLICATION transition is where the CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER jam went to hide in the late ’70s. 53-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > STELLA BLUE > FRANKLIN’S TOWER, a rare & welcome garcia 2nd set triple play. 17m EYES gets down to space zone where garcia & kreutzmann assert themselves for not-fully-coherent weirding. during STELLA BLUE outro, drummers nudge towards groove & garcia almost immediately hooks into FRANKLIN’S. garcia’s guitar spends much of song shorting out. smokin’ last solo, though. burst of spinal tap-style radio interference during final drawn-out FRANKLIN’S peak is most genuinely psychedelic moment of night.

1/31/78 chicago: a near-perfect setlist for my taste, minimum bummer tunes, & a few flavors of jamming. beautifully wounded vocals on various lines of CANDYMAN. lyrical guitar swoops on THEY LOVE EACH OTHER. 1st SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN of ’78 is 22 minutes & satisfying if not quite molten. a languid & never-peaking post-SCARLET wander nevertheless. 58m TERRAPIN STATION > PLAYING IN THE BAND > BLACK PETER > TRUCKIN’ > GOOD LOVIN’ flows most excellently. recording is tracked with DRUMZ/SPACE, but it’s really just an 18-minute PLAYING with fast-fluttering jerry/phil/drumzers chaos. BLACK PETER still elegant, but getting crunchier/louder/grizzlier with jerry’s new voice. mickey’s marching band snare leads hilarious/stumbly TRUCKIN’ segue, less than more in line.

2/1/78 chicago: with this show, i think this becomes the 1st 3-night run where garcia doesn’t repeat any songs. geeks come at me? recording missing SUNRISE, but still an abnormally short 1st set. only 50ish minutes? drummers abandon some delicacy on FRIEND OF THE DEVIL. welcome 1st RAMBLE ON ROSE of the year. the night’s heady sequence is 54-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > JAM > THE OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT & it does get heady. neon squigglies of ESTIMATED land in HE’S GONE a little too easily before garcia veers off for a pretty & mostly coherent detour. mickey’s got a balafon maybe? he starts & ends DRUMZ off-kit, where he stays when a short bass solo flies into a telepathic high-speed 7-minute freak jazz jam, much in early ’70s quintet zone. much wowz. [a minute of breathing room & then a drop into busy 10-minute OTHER ONE filled with great moments, especially weir/keith crossfire under 1st garcia solo & a thorough late-jam melt. weir watch: on AROUND & AROUND encore, he starts d-d-doing a roger daltrey-like stutter, one step closer to '80s/'90s form.

2/3/78 madison: opening with just exactly casual COLD RAIN & SNOW, 1st of the year. this is really the tour where garcia starts stretching his active repertoire. big semi-local cheer for "st. paul, minnesota" line in BIG RIVER. garcia's THEY LOVE EACH OTHER solo is all arcing colors & curves. 27-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD starts with odd mix (no billy?) & gradually adjusts. EYES doesn't stray, but stays bold & dense, great keith, & disintegrates semi-smoothly as weir counts off 39-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND, which passes through normal noodles, a fresh 6-minute jam without garcia, thoughtful drumless space with garcia, a patient jerry-led turn into 1st WHEEL since 10/77 (& only version of '78), & finds slow road back to PLAYING. also: the last show without a DRUMZ segment for a year. deadbase sez this only happened 5 times between this show & 1995. too bad. usually dig DRUMZ but like surprises more.

2/4/78 milwaukee: 1st DUPREE'S DIAMOND BLUES since fall is bright & purposeful & fun, garcia leaning into the lyrics. phil, afterwards: "and that's a true story, folks!" 47-minute TERRAPIN STATION > PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > BLACK PETER doesn't travel far & leaves a bit to be desired for this listener. not much happening in short PLAYING but keith improvises surprising NOT FADE AWAY coda, suggesting new melodies that weir/donna kinda find; the sweet play of the game.

2/5/78 cedar falls: very lit show. the often sleepy TENNESSEE JED bounces at a pleasant clip & hits full weaving boogie. PASSENGER is extra-cranked. 29-minute deadhead-beloved SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN feels uneven. one drummer drives forward manically & SCARLET (the song) loses all chill/bounce, gets magical at jam. soaring/roaring guitar, piano detailing, endless little FIRE inventions, A+ outro. 29-minute TRUCKIN' > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT, a classic early '70s combo & now maybe the last in this exact configuration. somebody let weir have a whistle & TRUCKIN' has a new marching band count-off that i reluctantly support, getting the band more than more or less in line. jam sparkles briefly before DRUMZ. WHARF RAT spirals with surprising grace into AROUND & AROUND, which eventually achieves some decent burn. U.S. BLUES encore empties the rockets.

[between this & the next dead show in early april, the jerry garcia band (plus keith & donna) plays 18 gigs, including an east coast tour. so much for post-laryngitis recovery.]

4/6/78 tampa: garcia’s voice, not exactly rested since last shows in february, is still not recovered from new year’s laryngitis, & is now just his new “older” voice. going by photos from later in the tour, this is 1st show with keith on a sometimes sickly sounding yamaha electric piano, centerstage, between garcia & lesh. everybody finds space on swaying CANDYMAN, where garcia lands in good new spot for his more limited range. jam edges on somnambulant in mostly nice way. hour-long ESTIMATED PROPHET > HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT, a repeat sequence. kinda absurdly masterful 90-second group deceleration from deep space zonks of ESTIMATED into hippie gospel of HE’S GONE. 16-minute OTHER ONE feels nebulous.

4/7/78 pembroke pines: bumpy start, but deep version of the always timely SHIP OF FOOLS. kinda stunning jerry vocal with whispering solo. sparing harmonies with gorgeous quiet donna, especially during outro. 59-minute TERRAPIN STATION > PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > BLACK PETER > PLAYING IN THE BAND. garcia gets a bit scrambled throughout TERRAPIN. not much that grabbed this listener. the steel drums & other chaos-making instruments arrive, but they’re not properly miked yet. looking forward to that. for 1st time since early 1970, at least on tape, DRUMZ crosses 10 minutes.

4/8/78 jacksonville: the birth of DRUMZ/SPACE, & big fun. started to get worried after the 1st 2 kinda glum shows of this tour, but a pretty wild set 2, maybe most their most experimental since ’75, has me back on the bus, as always. garcia in full sing-song guitar mode on THEY LOVE EACH OTHER both solo & asides between some lines. feeling DEAL, too. lovely quiet in LOOKS LIKE RAIN before building to drumzer thundzer. miscue in SAMSON & DELILAH & band runs through ending twice. afterwards, off-mic, a sarcastic voice (billy i think?) screaming, “WHO FUCKED UP? WHO FUCKED IT UP? WHO DID IT? DID YOU DO IT? *WHY* DID YOU DO IT?” crisp, exploratory 23-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN has miniature surprises; tension-building guitar shapes during transition, 2 confident FIRE verses, scenic climb to peak. wholly fun 56-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > SUGAR MAGNOLIA. bold playing during ESTIMATED/EYES combo & 1st clearly delineated modern DRUMZ/SPACE segment. EYES dissolves to the usual trap kit thumping before happy droning steel drum chaos with roadies & band members, still burbling under drumless SPACE. A+ feedback/noise, weir! brief CLOSE ENCOUNTERS call/response by jerry/phil. after weir earlier yelled at a roadie to “hammer in rhythm,” one now does that as the band kicks into SUGAR MAGNOLIA. keith jumps back in, too, adding nice figures, rare version that feels fully earned.

4/10/78 atlanta: the 1st example of what i’d call a bad show, some of the ugliest collective playing since late ’60s. weird night with a lot of silliness on & off mic. for once, it’s weir who sounds most heavily goofed. 2 long stupid jokes in 1st set & lots of pre-2nd set giggles. weir watch: now into the age of saying “thank you” in weird squeaked falsetto after various songs. did this make any sense at the time? another beautifully wounded CANDYMAN. lots of cool vocal variations, both lyric & melodic. love donna’s blend on the wordless ooh-ing chorus, less so elsewhere. MUSIC NEVER STOPPED verges on trainwreck, weir falling out of sync ’til donna laughs & forcibly takes charge during bridge. longer than usual jam that still feels off, partly in the mix, but largely in the playing. i think every musician ends on a different beat. slippage continues through set 2. SHIP OF FOOLS sounds sprung & hard to pinpoint 1 culprit. DANCING IN THE STREET ragged af too, trying to click together. as much as i loved the steel DRUMZ anarchy at previous show, tonight it fizzles. weir ripcords it by starting FRANKLIN’S TOWER, everybody else being exceedingly slow to join. it finally locks together, until they forget how it ends. BLACK PETER achieves some ragged elegance with straight-up garcia soul shouts, which weir tries to top on AROUND & AROUND. oh & then 3 minutes from the soundcheck of the band working on weir/barlow’s SALT LAKE CITY, from “heaven help the fool,” not played by the dead ’til ’95 (& then only once). kinda fun, really.

4/11/78 atlanta: absurd theory i’ve been testing is that when TENNESSEE JED gets interesting (1/22, 2/5), the 2nd set does, too. JED does have unexpected conversational feel here, but not sure hypothesis totally holds. 23-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN is sparkling, fun, & exceptionally tight. SCARLET feels alive & moving from 1st beat. whole band surges through little bubbles & pockets during segue. especially potent & colorful FIRE outro solo. 45-minute TERRAPIN STATION > DRUMZ > SPACE > IKO IKO. finally, the smallest variations during the TERRAPIN exit, garcia & keith testing new harmonies against cycling riff.  long 21-minute DRUMZ, more drum circle than heady anarchy, occasional hints of beauty via balafon/steel drums combo. wish they’d lingered. brief SPACE hints at bo diddley beat, restless & bound someplace predictable but 1st IKO IKO since november is also the 1st that feels substantial, starting with a cool, spare beat before fully kicking in, garcia diving into lyrics. groove widens/deepens/rolls impressively, finally finding feel separate from NOT FADE AWAY. garcia finds a nifty little pocket en route to SUNSHINE DAYDREAM & even phil seems to wake up more than usual, burping some weird-ass upper register counterpoints.

4/12/78 durham: 12-beat intro for BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE, giving fodder to deadhead statisticians correlating the day-of-the-month effect. ROW JIMMY accelerates into an unusual peaking gallop, which sort of spoils the delicacy but feels kinda nice. long tuning/off-mic planning break in 2nd set, band referring to upcoming drums segment as “rhythm devils.” weir starts fiddling on guitar. billy: “SHUT UP WE’RE DOING A SHOW.” then: 69-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > TRUCKIN’ > WHARF RAT. weir watch: 1st falsetto shriek on ESTIMATED PROPHET. just one, but crowd cheers. NC heads, i love you, but you shouldn’t have encouraged him. garcia starts EYES at a weird tempo & it tumbles at a fest clip. jams are nice but jerry rushes vocals & mickey pushes into doubletime under chorus, ready to take over for the new showcase. to many, 26 minutes of DRUMZ is too long. i am not one of them. it’s like raw footage from a nature documentary. rest of band/crew join for chaos. jam briefly achieves sentience ~15:30, ends with 2 cool minutes of talking/steel drum duet, & also captures a shrieking roadie. after these big long weird-outs, growing more appreciative of the need for late set boogie-downs, but absolutely still beyond me why weir played AROUND & AROUND at nearly every show.

4/14/78 blacksburg: the last of a half-dozen 1977-’78 performances of DUPREE’S DIAMOND BLUES with 2-drummer/godchaux lineup, a vibe i was genuinely feeling, revived in ’82.
band responds to critics, short version.
garcia (off mic): “fuck ‘em! i say, fuck ‘em!”
weir: “when the critics criticize us for taking too much time between numbers, they’re criticizing us for not playing, & if they’re music critics, they should be criticizing the music.”
61-minute DANCING IN THE STREET > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE OTHER ONE > BLACK PETER certainly makes room for exploration, but the expectation of DRUMZ increasingly leaks into the song that proceeds. high-speed 17-minute DANCING keeps up the boogie-oogie. big cheer for DC shout-out, unusually dope mid-jam start/stop move by drummers, skittering weir grooves, messy re-entry, & funny/committed vocal outro, even garcia getting into it. group DRUMZ takes ~10 minutes to hit pockets where onstage chaos begins to align. sparse ambient noise synth too, which also briefly appears in drum-punctuated SPACE alongside another synth that sounds a like ghostly human voice. a very ’78 BLACK PETER, with rare vocal growling by garcia & even more unusual singing along with a few phrases of his guitar solo. unless counting 1/13, 2nd set appears to be 1st to feature “modern” structure: HEADY/JAM SONG(S) > DRUMZ > SPACE > GARCIA BALLAD > ROCKIN’ WEIR TUNE(S), or reversing those last two.

4/15/78 williamsburg: 1st set doesn’t crack an hour. middle of LET IT GROW opens briefly into jam field that would seem pastoral & intimate if not for the cowbell hoppity-hopping all over it. big DEAL outro has heads amped before set break. 51-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > MORNING DEW. weir accidentally has distortion on during PLAYING intro, sounds boss. a lot happening in jam, moving more thrillingly together as music builds & melts & slowly disassembles into DRUMZ. steel DRUMZ appear instantly but levitation takes a while. another appearance by theremin/voice-like ghost synth. no SPACE, just NOT FADE AWAY with a cheer-earning intro modulation. near end, weir/lesh/drumzers latch onto pattern & seem PLAYING-bound until garcia diverts. surprise drop into only MORNING DEW of the year, 1st since 6/77, last ’til 10/79, final time with keith godchaux, & suitably fuckin’ devastating. mostly tight, too, with 2 big peaks, confident singing/playing, gorgeous quiet soloing, big ending. yeah.

4/16/78 huntington, WV: bursting with super-charged energy & oomph, especially in 1st set & through beginning of 2nd. kinda peaks early. everything’s a little edgy. during burning CASSIDY, keith & maybe jerry blow through the end-of-solo cue. after MEXICALI BLUES, weir forgets he’s been taking 2 C&W songs in a row. when he remembers, drummers don’t sound especially jazzed. rare 1st set SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN (1st since 5/77) is 19 minutes & feels compact. decent SCARLET but maybe my favorite FIRE vocal so far, ultra-present singing-with-a-smile garcia, with some equally friendly guitar. similarly crackling SHIP OF FOOLS. 55-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > IKO IKO, rare 2nd set without late show garcia ballad. tight pre-DRUMZ, but not particularly deep. solid backbeat behind the steel DRUMZ, but not enough chaos for me. IKO painfully slow.

4/18/78 pittsburgh: solid fun, though nothing leaving me swooning. casually luxurious 14-minute SUGAREE worth hanging onto. another day-of-month correlation for the opening hits of BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE. 55-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > DANCING IN THE STREET > DRUMZ > SAMSON & DELILAH. nice conversational breakdown on SCARLET spirals & slashes upwards, 1st FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN-less version since previous april & last ’til ’84. all kinds of delightfully indulgent madness during 18-minute DRUMZ. the ghost-synth is back (or maybe it’s someone singing?), sounding a lot like the 2-note “how-wooo” from a certain zevon cover debuted the following night. chill balafon/mbira duet at halfway mark. TERRAPIN STATION in the late set quiet slot is a literal garcia ballad & works well, if slightly muted, though the AROUND & AROUND comedown is a bit harsh.

4/19/78 columbus: great CANDYMAN, new trend (continued from 4/10 & 4/15) is garcia pluralizing “womens” in 1st line. beautiful PEGGY-O with ripping solo. weir & donna get screechy on the DEAL outro, weir being worse offender. the late ’70s were a real shouty time, huh? satisfying 72-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > SPACE > OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT. song part of 14-minute ESTIMATED is iffy but weirds out with long vocalizing outro (both shrieks & quiet) & full neon unfurling by garcia. DRUMZ builds from extended quiet HE’S GONE ending, which works conceptually, at least. at 28 minutes, longest DRUMZ/SPACE yet. when kits leave, mbira duets with (i think) prayer bowl. drones & steel drums leak into garcia-led SPACE to add gorgeous & subtle alien moods. encore is giddy garcia-sung debut of zevon’s WEREWOLVES OF LONDON, then just cracking the top 50. big cheer when vocals start. even weir’s primitive slide playing is kinda fun. the last time the dead covered a contemporary hit, i think?

4/21/78 lexington, KY: clearly not a full house. both phil & weir encourage people in upper sections to abandon their seats & come down to the floor. do arena acts ever do that anymore? languid SHIP OF FOOLS with a great vocal, as always so far this tour. then a long break. weir gives shit to garcia for lighting a between-song cigarette & (some say) teases “going to california” but confirming that is a job for someone more led zeppelin aware than me. 63-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > JAM > STELLA BLUE > TRUCKIN’ > PLAYING IN THE BAND. PLAYING almost goes over the edge. kits disappear early into DRUMZ, which includes some awesome @akronfamily-style group chanting(?!) with donna (or another woman) up front. drumzers refuse to yield & 6-minute post-DRUMZ JAM darts between laser noodles & funk mush, before a graceful pull-up into a tasteful & tight & well-sung (for ’78) STELLA BLUE. love hearin’ TRUCKIN’ get melty, even if it’s only into PLAYING reprise. another WEREWOLVES OF LONDON encore, donna leaning in on “he’ll rip your lungs out, jim.” jerry sings, but feels like a full band party. so fun.

4/22/78 nashville: CANDYMAN vocals great, especially sweet jerry/donna blend. garcia’s post-laryngitis voice is finally to the point where the quieter/slower tunes are nearly all a joy. PEGGY-O, too. 62-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > WHARF RAT. EYES, especially, has a nice wind-down, followed by another participatory chaos session. more donna-led call/response chanting with the steel DRUMZ. people keep playing steel & percussion into NOT FADE AWAY & it sounds neato, occasionally (barely) audible as jam continues. wish it was way louder, since garcia & weir seem to perhaps be weirding along with it just before spiraling descent into WHARF RAT. titanic WHARF RAT. of the late set garcia ballads, it feels the least encumbered & most aided by 2 drummers. nice harmonies & 2 wonderfully godzilla-sized solos makes SUGAR MAGNOLIA feel like a chance to catch their breath.

4/24/78 normal: very fun & very ’78. big drums & a lot of weir slide playing. sort of enjoy some of his punctuations on RAMBLE ON ROSE. would enjoy them more with a softer tone, but that ship sailed before i was born. weir teases STAYIN’ ALIVE before counting off ME & MY UNCLE & it continues throughout, keith (!) dropping into the descending riff during breaks & under song. unusually phishy moves. equally high-steppin’ BIG RIVER, with more bee gees. no vocal reprise in CASSIDY. stellar 24-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN with some great new shapes. weir plays slide throughout, which i think actually contributes a lot ’til he gets all shrill. rare garcia ad lib on FIRE outro: “let it burn, let it burn…” 54-minute TERRAPIN STATION > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > BLACK PETER. TERRAPIN is sleepy but 20-minute DRUMZ/SPACE has more scary synth, now sounding like ghost seagulls, jamming with balafons. chanting is less convincing. properly cosmic sproinging noises. BLACK PETER is suitably weary (with more slide). WEREWOLVES OF LONDON is more subdued but it could be that it’s the tour closer. some call this tour the real end of ’77. we’ll see. 3 weeks off & then the northeast.

5/5/78 hanover: the only new hampshire show. sound of the band continuing to get bigger. 1st set songs like BROWN EYED WOMEN more & more likely to receive power guitar breaks with jerry shreds & muppet drumming. no chorus reprise in CASSIDY again. missed notes & vocal flutter for garcia on SHIP OF FOOLS, but carried by vocal charisma. totally enjoyable & filled with life. great soloing, obv. 65-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > STELLA BLUE. gorgeous ESTIMATED tones. after barely a tour, DRUMZ/SPACE formula getting slightly crutch-like. more chanting, though somewhat randomly placed. garcia’s been speeding up EYES gradually all spring, but this one has a different feel, too, a stiffer/manic drum part that seems to codify the gradual tempo shift. as always, could be the mix, but feels like the drummers take over. tubular jerrying, though, really! whole band floats around a metronomic pulse on STELLA BLUE that feels like a big grandfather clock, oversized & haunting. definitely not sick of WEREWOLVES OF LONDON yet.

5/6/78 burlington: the day after the founding of ben & jerry’s the grateful dead introduce themselves to vermont with an excellent 12-minute SUGAREE that flows naturally from trance floatation to big peak & back down for last verse. over the top ending to LOOKS LIKE RAIN has jerry soloing & donna whoaing along with weir. w00. more polka-style STAYIN’ ALIVE quotes in ME & MY UNCLE, but also proto-SHAKEDOWN STREET crossfire from keith & jerry. manic DEAL. 42-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > JAM > WHARF RAT. thumpy 16-minute PLAYING hits sustained weird-jazz plateau that gets more beautiful & intricate as it gets quieter, but the DRUMZ kinda steamroll it. percussion chaos achieves grungy psychedelic density. highlight is concluding 5 minutes of steel drums & curlicue envelope filter escapades by garcia with too much rhythmic shape to call SPACE, before a little turnaround into WHARF RAT.

5/7/78 troy: especially present garcia soloing/back-up vocals on MEXICALI BLUES > MAMA TRIED. pretty lit FRIEND OF THE DEVIL with great guitar/piano detail. sounds way different when it switches to grotty audience source for 2nd half of song. sometimes it’s all in the mix. 20-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN. donna sings all the way through the SCARLET jam & into FIRE & it’s kinda awesome, garcia jamming with her & playing/fluttering outside his usual bag. big FIRE with more chorus ad-libs but weir’s slide sounds sickly. 66-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > IKO IKO > THE OTHER ONE > BLACK PETER. DRUMZ punctuated by random donna shrieks, which is rad. no SPACE, just crosstalk. tempo battles in BLACK PETER. U.S. BLUES encore feels huge, though.

5/9/78 syracuse: either it takes a second for the PA to go on or the taper waits for the lights to go down before raising mics above the crowd. only ever FRANKLIN’S TOWER show opener. does feel a little abrupt. 54-minute DANCING IN THE STREET > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > BLACK PETER. DANCING turns into big clap-along. dub/echo on percussion during SPACE (wish it was a soundboard!) before briefly locking together & building speed behind mutated garcia melts. keith & garcia turn a pretty & detailed corner after the last NOT FADE AWAY chorus but it just becomes a shortcut to a jerry ballad, in this case another quietly glowing BLACK PETER. kinda dig weir’s slide. weir watch: this show was (i think) the debut of bobby’s werewolf mask for another punchy WEREWOLVES OF LONDON. pictures coming later in tour.

5/10/78 new haven: 1st set barely cracks an hour, but ends with a 10-minute LET IT GROW that has a swelling middle jam & a nice weir/garcia charge in the outro before a half-segue into set-closing DEAL (which gets pretty hideously shrieky again). some moments of individual/collective discombobulation/disconnection especially during the 2nd set opening BERTHA > GOOD LOVIN’. slop never sleeps. 70-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT. garcia doesn’t even state the EYES chords, just touches the rhythmic/harmonic idea & then he’s off into ever-speedier soloing, gorgeous & bird-like here. the DRUMZ synth now sounds like a snorting ghost-boar. into it. also the random screaming. no SPACE but an unusually patient OTHER ONE build beginning with drumzers on hand percussion, lots of theme/variation on the triplets. also a great post-verse disassembly.

5/11/78 springfield, MA: what grateful dead lore records as “the mescaline show.” couldn’t tell ya if it’s true, but things’re a little wavy, fersure, & way fun. garcia & weir especially sound like they’re ricocheting off the walls, vocal asides & noises & giggles & extra animation during the opening COLD RAIN & SNOW (rare in ’78), LOSER, & beyond. in general, the music has an almost tangible extra bounce. weir/donna vocals sound sweet on BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE (with another day-of-month beat intro). maybe the screamingest LAZY LIGHTNING ending yet & kinda works. compact but adventurous 18-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN. donna sings for much of jam, sometimes just off mic, garcia making room for her. sounds cool. weir watch: a development i love! a delay pedal, used to subtle & excellent effect. overstated vocal outro. 55-minute DANCING IN THE STREET > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > STELLA BLUE. garcia/weir keep grunting & making random noises through 15-minute DANCING. song shifts into excellent open gallop, an almost phish-like groove in places, before doofy vocal jam reprise. transition from drum kits to chaos is pretty flawless. while missing the extra-high weirdness of other DRUMZ segments from this tour, it has a natural cohesiveness & flow with no real lulls. i’d call this as much evidence for the mescaline show as all the vocal emissions. short SPACE burps into NOT FADE AWAY. STELLA BLUE is nearly 9 minutes & feels like it’s just getting going. then, BAM, double encore with weir in a mask for WEREWOLVES OF LONDON.

5/13/78 philadelphia: 2 months after the jerry garcia band plays the spectrum (in its theater set up), the dead return. big MUSIC NEVER STOPPED closes 1st set, with a slow motion build. weir watch: silly GOOD LOVIN’ outro spoutings getting longer, band getting tighter around them. garcia briefly finds new corners in TERRAPIN STATION, a few phrases worth of elegant new turns before the concluding verse of LADY WITH A FAN. consistent & energetic 59-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > TRUCKIN’ > BLACK PETER, joined by @billwalton for DRUMZ, according to an @internetarchive commenter. 14-minute PLAYING blasts forward but stays its course as it gets denser. another coherent DRUMZ. no dead air & nice flow between segments/ideas/sounds. 2-note melody (maybe from the ghost-synth), echoed balafon, kazoo, recorder & a descent into noise & SPACE. in unusual turn, guitarists interrupt a delicate musical moment when they come back. can maybe hear the seeds of I NEED A MIRACLE when weir plays slide guitar on TRUCKIN’ jam. BLACK PETER is metronomic & un-mysterious but also solid & confident.

5/14/78 providence: garcia’s voice fraying again. maybe compensating a little, starting to growl a bit on MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP & SHIP OF FOOLS & elsewhere. set-closing 17-minute LET IT GROW is longest yet, darting into open water, keith playing intricate details against garcia. 65-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELIN’ BAD pushes each song just past where they would usually jump to the next. gorgeous & patient ESTIMATED with garcia mining quiet melodies. unfortunately, EYES has lost all its chill. garcia barely hints at the song, a musical raising of eyebrows, & then it’s a race. intricate patterns during a soft landing into DRUMZ. DRUMZ almost getting consistent enough to not annotate, partially because they figured out how to use the ghost-synth to patch over sparser sections. again, nice progression. no ballad. weir watch: deep into NOT FADE AWAY, he gets into some good distortion moves, though moving to squealing slide for 1st GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD since 10/77.

5/16/78 chicago: opening JACK STRAW gets intense with big drumming & garcia fanning his guitar, tom toms really cutting through on audience tape. more than a little bombastic, really, but it’s also sort of trending towards that. weir watch: growls starting to migrate from blues-rockers to other tunes, tonight on MAMA TRIED, the ‘80s coming in like a ton of bricks. also, already a rarity, the last 2nd set EL PASO.  switching to soundboard, a 59-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > SPACE > COMES A TIME. nice conversational noodle on ESTIMATED. hard to tell if it’s the mix, but either the keyboard or its operator are absent for long stretches. hard musical splice to static DRUMZ, which never breaks open. jerry joins briefly before equally hard splice to SPACE, all delightful solo garcia. perhaps accidentally through a live mic, lesh: “can i have a beer, please?” weir: “say that again.” then: a long ambient burp. 1st COMES A TIME since 5/77, only one of ’78, & rather beautiful. big overdriven 1st solo with a few sections. nice use of delay by weir behind ruminative & bending outro. keith shows up, too, & drumzers stay just exactly chill.

5/17/78 chicago: lovely 24-minute double-shot garcia opener. 1st MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP > FRANKLIN’S TOWER, paired almost exclusively for next 4 years. easy shift into FRANKLIN’S. with weir playing messy slide, garcia builds on cool pattern late in jam, a new kind of coda. semi-rare 2nd set FRIEND OF THE DEVIL, played with 2nd set gravitas & a beautiful jam, with some floating keyboard colors from keith, who is fairly present on this show. 45-minute DANCING IN THE STREET > DRUMZ > SPACE > TERRAPIN STATION. DANCING shimmies into liquid disco dead & almost gets out before returning to song & vocal reprise. long, even-keeled DRUMZ flows easily towards SPACE. donna & mostly phil scream/cackle/chant on & off chaos builds. there’s also a theremin-like pitch-bent single-note synth. when TERRAPIN STATION rises, band has to clear auxiliary weirdos from percussion. weir watch: slide guitar has now arrived in TERRAPIN & pretty much everywhere else. it’s really not always very pleasant, but it does seem to force garcia (& sometimes keith) to fill the space left behind, which can be fascinating, as on NOT FADE AWAY. and after the show billy kreutzmann & keith godchaux get into a fight at the hotel & billy splits & flies home, tour over.

6/4/78 santa barbara: the grateful dead start their 1st summer of nearly all  outdoor shows, at @ucsantabarbara. opening sets by the big wah koo (feat. ex-steely dan vocalist david palmer), elvin bishop (jerry sat in), & warren zevon (drunk & booed off). in some ways, the birth of the newer & even huger & drummier dead. big fun, but losing nuance. garcia ad libs on nearly every verse of BERTHA opener. BROWN EYED WOMEN is super-charged stadium-sized country-soul. even SHIP OF FOOLS is subtly shouty. weir watch: BIG RIVER is one of the most consistent-sounding songs in the band’s repertoire, but i’m less into versions where bobby’s growling. the drummers have ceased to pretend they’re going to play LOOKS LIKE RAIN with any kind of delicacy & start the song with a heavy backbeat, the guitar breaks getting muppeted-out with everything else. the era when song’s lyric sentiments & their arrangements begin to split. whoever claims the dead never played the same set twice, please compare the 2nd sets from 5/14/78 in providence & 6/4/78 in santa barbara. same exact songs & order, plus one extra encore in santa barbara. different jams, of course. 53-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ >  NOT FADE AWAY > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELIN’ BAD not quite as deep as the providence iteration. ESTIMATED still delightfully languid af, but EYES is played in hyperspeed shorthand, like a rumor of chord changes. long post-DRUMZ theme/variation on the NOT FADE AWAY pulse, with ghost-synth theremin screams, garcia zaps, & brief noise hole as a motorcycle is rolled onstage, mic’d up, & revved in the bo diddley beat as band jumps into wild version. donna goes loco near end. weir joins. after some more screamy screamy, weir reiterates the band’s new nickname for promoter bill graham–uncle bobo–& asks everybody to thank him. thanks, uncle bobo!

6/25/78 eugene: 1st big outdoor oregon show since the ’72 field trip, co-headlined with santana (plus the outlaws & eddie money). no sit-in by carlos, but a visit from the pranksters. the acceleration into the thunderingly loose summer ’78 sound is complete. garcia’s going growly on some verses of PEGGY-O now, too. same jam sequence as 5/14 & 6/4 (plus a fiercer & more defined SPACE) in 59-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELIN’ BAD. EYES feels vibier, somehow, & gets quiet. briefly. ken babbs joins the band with the pranksters’ thunder machine during DRUMZ/SPACE (rev’ing around 9 minutes into DRUMZ) but more audible is babbs periodically scream-singing melodies/poetry. can’t make out words, but kinda sounds like the godz. awesome. big CAUTION-like entry into NOT FADE AWAY. garcia hooks into deep melodic flow ~2:30. i know time travel will never be invented because no deadhead has ever shown up in 1978 to steal bob weir’s guitar slide(s) before every show, which i like to imagine as a montage. flashing guitar burns in GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD, too, & even the following AROUND & AROUND, which drops down to a twinkling keys-heavy plateau.

7/1/78 kansas city, MO: willie nelson’s 4th annual 4th of july picnic, a rare opening slot, playing before willie & waylon jennings/jessi colter. they still do 2 sets. new era continues to take shape at arrowhead stadium. 45-minute 1st set opens with big rockin’ BERTHA > GOOD LOVIN’ combo for crowd unusually primed for cowboy dead, which they get to soon. thunderous drum fills getting more frequent. set 2 is mostly 59-minute suite: TERRAPIN STATION > PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > ESTIMATED PROPHET > THE OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT, with increasingly rare post-DRUMZ jams. TERRAPIN outro starting to fuzz & warp. PLAYING gets slashy, DRUMZ consistent. totally pro flow! donna’s really goin’ for it of late. big screams during OTHER ONE chorus & weir’s chuck berry covers. a few excellent cornholio-like vocal bug-outs by her & others in DRUMZ & SPACE work slightly better, including by phil during the latter. a mark of a great late ‘70s WHARF RAT for me: when it sounds like a spiraling ’69 CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT outro, as this one does in a few spots, the drums getting bigger.

7/3/78 st. paul: 1st of 2 indoor shows of the summer. the drummers start LOOKS LIKE RAIN at full speed & stay fairly flat-lined even through weir’s expanding melodramatic outro, with donna +1’ing him. weir: “i believe it’s gonna rain today!” donna: “me too!” 20-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN. garcia gets into staggered horn-like phrasings on SCARLET jam & an abnormal run of dense chording before segue, setting up a cool & unusually grooved FIRE with casually shredded end. 42-minute DANCING IN THE STREET > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > STELLA BLUE. garcia sketches hard on DANCING & almost breaks through, like if an early ’68 DARK STAR got even faster & pigpen’s repetitive organ part was switched for an insistent disco hi-hat. one slight upshot of weir playing slide guitar is that garcia’s rhythm playing is inevitably pretty cool, too, as on WEREWOLVES OF LONDON.

7/5/78 omaha: weir playing slide guitar on SUGAREE is an equally terrible idea in theory & practice. sounds right queasy. again, it results in cool garcia rhythm moves, but makes it borderline unlistenable to me. setlist orders are starting to get ossified, as demonstrated by the exceptions that begin to pop up. here, the DEAL 2nd set opener, besides once else in ’91 — & it does feel a little strange in that slot. grooves getting increasingly metronomic on quiet songs like LOOKS LIKE RAIN & SHIP OF FOOLS. big booming offstage explosion during the latter, some kind of fireworks in the venue, probably, & garcia audibly cracks a surprised grin. 65-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > WHARF RAT > TRUCKIN’ > IKO IKO. 13-minute ESTIMATED has brilliant garcia dips/dances & a sputtering gear-shift segue into fluttering EYES with bass/drums jam. wish both songs were twice as long. AROUND & AROUND set closer feels redundant, as always, but especially so after IKO IKO. oddly, following it with another chuck berry song, PROMISED LAND, feels like a (very mild) pleasant surprise, its only appearance as an encore.

7/7/78 red rocks: 1st show at colorado’s outright mystical red rocks amphitheater, in a bright & beautiful recording by betty cantor-jackson. fun 9-minute TENNESSEE JED, keith edges on different keyboard colors early, perhaps triggering the playful & sing-song not-quite-solo/not-quite-jam. garcia disappears for 4 minutes as soon as SCARLET BEGONIAS jam begins. weir & co. make due, but music gets coolest when keith briefly steers. unusually sleepy FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN. uneventful 1st half of 47-minute DANCING IN THE STREET > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > BLACK PETER, but garcia lands in a brief NOBODY’S FAULT BUT MINE jam during NFA & kicks open a series of nifty & subtle turns. BLACK PETER is a pretty sterling example of garcia working with the limitations of his post-laryngitis voice, shortening/changing phrases to accommodate & finding cool alternate paths.

7/8/78 red rocks: 1st set is all summer, bright & cheery windows-down driving music. punchy BERTHA > GOOD LOVIN’ opener & skipping DIRE WOLF. even MUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES keeps the sunshine bounce going. weir does all covers. 2nd set jam suite has a very welcome surplus of garcia songs in satisfying 68-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > THE OTHER ONE > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > WHARF RAT > FRANKLIN’S TOWER. 13-minute ESTIMATED blows into chaos, scattering free of 7/8 time signature & into the 1st pre-DRUMZ OTHER ONE since fall tour, regaining some of its sense of quest. garcia unspools some question marks at the end of EYES, too, before surrendering to the drumzers. ominous SPACE (sounding like ’69-era feedback at times) lands in stunner WHARF RAT with curling & purposeful intro solo & well-controlled garcia vocals. great usage of FRANKLIN’S as capper, garcia nailing a chill ‘75ish tempo & all of the verses. somebody correct me if i’m wrong, but i don’t think weir plays any slide guitar during this sequence, either, which could be another reason it’s remembered so fondly. rare 23-minute 3-song encore, bookended by TERRAPIN STATION & last of 9 gleeful ’78 versions of WEREWOLVES ON LONDON, retired ’til halloween ’85. so it goes.

8/11/78 front street: 13 tantalizing minutes of jerry, mickey, & hamza el-din practicing el-din’s OLLIN ARAGEED & jamming at the dead’s rehearsal studio, in preparation for the dead’s shows in egypt. garcia plays acoustic along with the hand percussion, droning gently & soloing beautifully, suggesting a parallel stub in which garcia committed to exploring african modes.

8/30/78 red rocks: starting down the road to egypt by returning to colorado’s red rocks. proceedings are considerably sleepy. maybe it’s the, uh, altitude? also could be that, after recording “shakedown street” earlier in summer, billy kreutzmann broke his wrist & went on this tour against doctor’s orders, playing drums one-armed. 18-minute SUGAREE all but crashes. 1st version of garcia & hunter’s STAGGER LEE, long story-song, pleasantly lazy, almost a new orleans shuffle. dynamic feels a wee bit flat. weir’s slide guitar not helping. weir watch: now adding falsetto to DEAL shriek-out. debut of weir & barlow’s I NEED A MIRACLE opens 2nd set, appropriately big blooze-rawk vehicle tailor-fit for late ‘70s weir with slide guitar & growling. 79-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > THE OTHER ONE > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > IF I HAD THE WORLD TO GIVE > IKO IKO. 1st half of suite is same as 7/8 show, but all a bit more mellow. mix is garcia heavy, all other instruments somewhat muted. subtle delay jams by weir in ESTIMATED. chill tempo & full changes return to 17-minute EYES. pleasant (even too long) valleys. garcia locks into great 2-minute jam before surrender. more cornholio yawps from phil during DRUMZ before ambient SPACE. exiting SPACE, garcia debuts new ballad IF I HAD THE WORLD TO GIVE, only played live 3 times. elegant changes/melody clunked up by 2 drummers. rippin’ octave divider solo, though! never really got this song until i heard the @bonifacebilly version, & i’m reminded why here. slow-motion IKO IKO followed by even more slow-motion AROUND & AROUND feels like a discombobulated set-concluding robotrip.

8/31/78 red rocks: powerful MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP opener, trickling into EL PASO, which makes musical/narrative sense, but seems to lose its desert twang. almost surprising that weir has never done it before. probably owes in part to kreutzmann’s broken wrist but NEW MINGLEWOOD BLUES, one of the best showcases for the late ‘70s double drumming, succumbs to click-track-like thud. debut of donna jean godchaux’s FROM THE HEART OF ME, which i think i’d actually like if it was done by the 1-drummer bright americana incarnation of the dead with keith on an actual piano. to open set 2: 1st version of garcia & hunter’s SHAKEDOWN STREET, a major new song & direction, dark-vibed & curling psychedelic disco/funk. crisp/concise/powerful/uptempo 7 minutes here with teeny jam, garcia way inside the lyrics. no backing vocals or wooing just yet. weir watch: a new section to his GOOD LOVIN’ rap, doing his best attempt at channeling pigpen (with donna’s +1 interjections) is all hilarious. weir: “a friend of mine used to tell me… got to have it russia & china & siberia & all those places.” donna: “everywhere!” deep SHIP OF FOOLS. 57-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > OLLIN ARAGEED > NOT FADE AWAY > BLACK PETER. 14-minute PLAYING is deeply engaged, even keith. alien weir tones, donna moans, good use of slide. weird percussion bleeds (too briefly) into end of jam. long 16-minute DRUMZ with big post-kit themes proceeding with drumzerly logic, but also linked by ambient synth noise & drones. would love any informed speculation about the synth or its player! out of DRUMZ, 1st version of egyptian oud player hamza el-din’s instrumental OLLIN ARAGEED, rehearsed with him at front street earlier in the month. cool direction for dead post “blues for allah,” especially as mode snakes into garcia’s NOT FADE AWAY entrance.

9/2/78 giants stadium: the grateful dead headline their 1st show at giants stadium in new jersey, 3rd ever concert there, with willie nelson/waylon jennings duo & the new riders. “i dare say that everyone of us is exactly where we want to be right now,” promoter john scher introduces band, his 2nd big labor day show with them, after englishtown ’77. uneven mix & playing. on opening JACK STRAW, a pretty stark vocal contrast between the quite amped weir & the decisively not amped garcia. increasingly rare garcia banter when weir’s gear goes bust, notable for even rarer garcia usage of band motto/in-joke “just exactly perfect.” “took my 15-dollar bill,” garcia sings in FRIEND OF THE DEVIL, to some cheers, seeming like a deliberate reference. any ideas? subtle but uncanny turns in big solo/jam. also, keith’s keyboard seem to be covered in tin foil? weir watch: long spiel at the end of LOOKS LIKE RAIN, new falsetto scatting with garcia’s solo in I NEED A MIRACLE. and GOOD LOVIN’, oy, in addition to awkward rhymes, an attempt at a singalong, which i think is a 1st. 28-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN is huge! guitarists exit for jam’s start & then take long route with sweet garcia climbs & divebombs. i even dig weir’s slide parts, though not his playing. 1st FIRE with new 3rd verse. better: all 3 sung with confidence! 52-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > SUGAR MAGNOLIA swells/fizzles. rich crests & nice dissolve in ESTIMATED, long sunny EYES intro solo. SPACE is all of 75 seconds before 13 minutes of SUGAR MAGNOLIA, somehow.

9/13/78 cairo: soundcheck. the dead, hamza el-din, & co. rehearse el-din’s OLLIN ARAGEED. just garcia at first, weaving through clapping/singing. the dead playing african music is definitely the best musical product to come of the egypt trip. the other 10 tracks on the recording seem to be a mislabeled audience tape of hamza el din’s opening set the following night, leading rhythms on the oud, an african lute. also heady music!

9/14/78 cairo: the dead join nubian oudist hamza el-din & group & pick up pulse for 20-plus minutes of jams that wind dreamily from el-din’s OLLIN ARAGEED into far-out NOT FADE AWAY, garcia’s noodles connecting to el-din’s oud lines. my highlight of the run, easily. 1st set never quite recovers the magic of the opening sequence, though the up-front garcia guitar mix on the soundboard underscores his ancient hypnotic strategies, especially under PEGGY-O. 20-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN goes from messy to h3tty, absolutely lit garcia wilding out at full shred during transition (esp. on soundboard). syncopation almost crashes in each song. but in FIRE, mickey (i think) turns an extra beat into part of the jam & finds new groove. 43-minute TRUCKIN’ > THE OTHER ONE > DRUMZ > SPACE > BLACK PETER. uncertain TRUCKIN’ leads to big confident drop into OTHER ONE but doesn’t hold. very jerry SPACE with dark & hovering synth noise & mysterious corners.

9/15/78 cairo: again, the dead begin by jamming with hamza el-din & band on OLLIN ARAGEED, with garcia darting through el-din’s oud lines. garcia seems to head for MORNING DEW but weir steers towards THE PROMISED LAND instead. not much to grab onto in the 1st set, closing out with 2 new songs. I NEED A MIRACLE has a sluggish boogie-down. STAGGER LEE is crisper (though again marred by weir’s slide), not a exactly rousing set finale. 54-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > TERRAPIN STATION. uneven song performances, but playfully building EYES solo/jam after 1st verse, weird gear shift midway through the last. as DRUMZ start, crowd claps in polyrhythms, with frequent syncopated crowd chants throughout. fun disassembly to flute/gong/synth, building back up via noise blasts & donna sounds & garcia leads & deep weir tones. perfect dissolve to TERRAPIN.

9/16/78 cairo: at the foot of the sphinx, the grateful dead perform under a total eclipse during their last show in egypt. messy but cosmic. most coherent performance of the egypt excursion & the night the bedouins threw down, supposedly. thrills throughout, but drum collapses in GOOD LOVIN’ are a reminder that kreutzmann is playing one-armed. even with mickey, he’s still bill the drummer. weir watch: GOOD LOVIN’ rap gets, uh, topical, “i don’t care how many wives you’ve got or camels you’ve got or how much money you have in the bank, everybody got to have lovin’.” on LOOKS LIKE RAIN, after “street cats making love” line, an onstage meow. hamza el-din’s performance comes at setbreak, joined by the dead for another great OLLIN ARAGEED, here with a herky-jerky segue (led by phil, i think) into a lurching FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN, never quite igniting, stumbling/tumbling into IKO IKO. in the midst of all this, the final version of donna jean godchaux’s SUNRISE, which still gets a raw deal from deadheads. 2nd ever SHAKEDOWN STREET is 15 minutes, dropped into the pre-DRUMZ jam slot. slower & less punchy than debut. work-in-progress backing vocals appear for 1st time. garcia taps in & explores, getting deeply & wonderfully spaced over disco hi-hat, melting near end. DRUMZ/SPACE is under 6 minutes. wondrous synth bleats & what sounds like a street grinder’s organ, a 78 rpm record, or the innards of the electric piano? quick, effective drift into density & a great drop into slip-sloppin’ TRUCKIN’. beautiful lyrical solo in STELLA BLUE. i’m sure the shows fried all the minds present, but i can hear why they didn’t want to release them at the time. besides magical jams with hamza el-din, extremely musically uneven. oh well. next time, right?

[9/28/78-10/17/78 cancelled European tour]

10/17/78 winterland: the day after bob weir’s 31st birthday, the grateful dead open a 5-night stand at winterland, billed as “from egypt with love,” with slides from previous month’s pyramid shows playing on/off all night. 1st bay area show in 10 months, their longest gap ever, i think. not much to write home about, really, though hometown debuts for 3 new songs, including I NEED A MIRACLE & still-coalescing STAGGER LEE. nice 2nd setlist, with 20-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN & 55 minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > IF I HAD THE WORLD TO GIVE, with gently open spaces in EYES & thoroughly deconstructed DRUMZ/SPACE. SPACE more notable for woman who stage-crashes & tells jerry (mid-jam) “i’d like to take banjo lessons from you.” jerry, politely bemused, without breaking noodle: “i don’t teach anymore.” repeats himself until (presumably) roadies escort her away. 2nd of 3 versions of the vaguely beatles-y IF I HAD THE WORLD TO GIVE, another jerry song more suited for the more spare garcia band, though they never played it.

10/18/78 winterland: 14-minute SUGAREE opener starts in unusual groove & feels rushed, losing its laidback feel. garcia plays his new STAGGER LEE for 2nd night in a row but still no san francisco SHAKEDOWN STREET debut. garcia loses thread in TERRAPIN STATION & maybe a bit of confidence, too, leading to super quiet jam interlude between verses before fierce ending. 50-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > MIND LEFT BODY JAM > WHARF RAT > TRUCKIN’. last 6 minutes of PLAYING is mostly just sweetly chattering garcia & hand percussion. lee oskar (of WAR) toodles generic harmonica during DRUMZ/SPACE, drumzers staying for latter. weir matches insistent percussion & oskar’s harmonica swoops with chopped rhythm that becomes the 1st real MIND LEFT BODY JAM since 10/74, 3 wild minutes with nifty new bridge, garcia tearing through ideas. disintegrates, but garcia incorporates melodies into big WHARF RAT. enthused TRUCKIN’ (with huge crowd reaction), sloppy af from the marching band whistle intro through multiple big peaks that never quite reach consensus. even more unusually it ends without a segue.

10/20/78 winterland: nearly all is crisp & well executed, even the endings. CASSIDY sprouts a miniature power jam with big groove. burning LOSER. punchy DIRE WOLF. aggressive bass on turn-filled burn through LAZY LIGHTNING/SUPPLICATION. starting to discern the musical relationship between MISSISSIPPI HALF STEP & FRANKLIN’S TOWER that inspired garcia to keep pairing them for the next few years, but wish they’d actually work out a transition. FRANKLIN’S starts strong, loses focus.52-minute DANCING IN THE STREET > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > BLACK PETER. 19-minute DANCING filled with fascinating & weird garcia inventions & almost fully destroyed by weir’s thin, lurching slide guitar. AROUND & AROUND ending is peak weir/donna shrieking, hilarious & insufferable. keeps going & going & going. but rare double encore also features hometown debut of SHAKEDOWN STREET, with 1st appearance of call/response backing vocals & wooing.

10/21/78 winterland: short set by nubian oudist hamza el-din, introduced by billy/mickey, joined by the dead for OLLIN ARAGEED. absolutely love hearing garcia trance on african jams, here with a solid next-beat segue into PROMISED LAND. another slide-damaged SUGAREE. 73-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > SPACE > GOT MY MOJO WORKIN’ > THE OTHER ONE > STELLA BLUE. 15-minute ESTIMATED achieves warm & zonked flotation, sax-like blowing by garcia. lee oskar of WAR again joins for SPACE &, again, it diverts quickly, this time into the 2nd (& hopefully last) weir-sung GOT MY MOJO WORKIN’, last played 4/77. groove is sorta fun, like a tepid version of CAUTION.

10/22/78 winterland: tape opens with bill graham shouting out an early sign of the building deadhead scene: “some of you have been here for the last 5 days, sleeping outside. for those maniacs, we want to thank you very much for being here every night.” last of hamza el din’s opening sets leads as usual into OLLIN ARAGEED, which sometimes seems too long, but i’m still not sick of hearing garcia play it. never realized how many versions there were. a graceful upshift into rare show-opening DEAL. bill graham introduces 2nd set, announcing winterland’s impending closure. “we wanted to… let you know that we know what you know about these people. they’re not the best at what they do, they’re the only ones that do what they do… the grateful dead.” earliest usage? 26-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN starts big & bright, with a suspended moody space before the segue. sweet low-key FIRE, but never quite ascends to the heights. not terribly exciting 51-minute I NEED A MIRACLE > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELIN’ BAD, but francis ford coppola can be seen here (bottom left) playing tambourine during the percussion jam. quicksilver messenger service guitarist john cipollina joins for 22-minute NOT FADE AWAY, low stakes until ’til weir shifts band into another brief & amazing high-speed 1978 iteration of the MIND LEFT BODY theme. 1st sighting of phil’s wristbands?

11/11/78 studio 8H: the dead’s saturday night live. 1st CASEY JONES in a year, for some reason. missed opportunity, if only to do the obvious & drop the rad title track from brand new album. garcia’s voice is scratchy again & weir’s anti-solo slide spotlight is lol. also, phil’s off-center “HI MOM” shirt. according to SNL writer tom davis’s account, the dead’s appearance wasn’t to promote “shakedown street” (released 4 days later), but because davis had convinced lorne michaels that the dead still had an audience. kreutzmann appears opposite bill murray’s nick the lounge singer, whose seasonal last name (different every appearance) is “sands,” maybe also a reference to nick sand, the infamous orange sunshine LSD chemist who went on the lam in ’76. for 2nd slot, weir crams in the new I NEED A MIRACLE & GOOD LOVIN’ (the LP’s single, for reasons i don’t grasp). group vocals sound nice. garcia shreds. weir is, uh, pretty intense. nice socks, buddy. also a nice reminder that band can still end a song on the same beat.

11/13/78 boston music hall: garcia’s voice back to sounding chalky. well-paced PEGGY-O flowers nicely. maybe the best STAGGER LEE so far, great vocal, good momentum. murky audience tape softens weir’s slide guitar, which sounds nice in places. weir watch: 1st geo-specific NEW MINGLEWOOD BLUES, “couple shots of whiskey, these boston girls start looking good.” 1st instance of “used to play for silver, now we play for clive” in JACK STRAW, shouting out record company boss @clivedavis. wild garcia solo there, too. 34-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > BLACK PETER > PLAYING IN THE BAND feels both abbreviated & paint-by-numbers, though garcia leans into into some cheer-inducing soul belts in BLACK PETER.

11/14/78 boston music hall: SUGAREE opener starts bright & vivid, uptempo but still chill. crashes ensue, but bands dials in & sustains pep all night without rushing. had to make sure tape speed was right. most bopping STAGGER LEE yet. surprised that this has been getting more play so far than SHAKEDOWN STREET (8 versions compared to 3), but it’s with good results, finally getting graceful. not generally fond of I NEED A MIRACLE, but garcia rips on set-closing version. lots of songs with that extra little sparkle, really. good news: donna’s FROM THE HEART OF ME finally achieves the bouncing speed & musical confidence it deserves. bad news: donna’s having a fluttery night. 60-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > WHARF RAT > NOT FADE AWAY > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELIN’ BAD. ESTIMATED shifts into beautiful ruminative swing, with an unusually smooth upshifting segue into EYES. power solo out of WHARF RAT becomes a pre-NOT FADE AWAY fuse, where spooktacular donna exultation leads to more big garcia melodies, muted by a weir slide anti-solo.

11/16/78 chicago: i’ve come to enjoy the sound of a taper lovingly adjusting their levels (as during opening DIRE WOLF, THEY LOVE EACH OTHER, STAGGER LEE, etc.), reminding you that they’re there, too, on the other side of the mics & doin’ their best. (hi, mason.) weir watch: in ME & MY UNCLE, 1st (i think) “that’s me” after “i’m as honest as denver man can be.” charming deadpan tech break banter, “the drummer at stage [hart] left lost his little mind & beat his hi-hat to death” & standby of pretending it’s kreutzmann’s birthday. very nice to hear a more open jam return to the 1st set closing slot (which disappeared with LET IT GROW in spring), a 15-minute DANCING IN THE STREET > DEAL combo. way too short, but breaks into that all-important non-song zone before decent dissolve segue. 22-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN features a purposeful transition that widens from dense chording into squiggles & cowbells & disassembly, plus nice feedback touches by weir before a quiet FIRE. 50-minute HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > SPACE > BLACK PETER > TRUCKIN’. maybe the 1st cheer i’ve heard on an audience tape for “steal your face…” line (though could’ve been happening since the ’76 live album). cheers for “nothin’ left to do but smile, smile, smile…” too. “PLAY SOME MUSIC!” audience member shouts during deepest DRUMZ/SPACE. “WHO THE FUCK WAS THAT?” someone retorts, presumably a time-traveling @otdispace. SPACE is chill handdrum/jerry jam that swells into a feedback knot. with some boomy/muddy room tone to thicken it on the audience tape, i don’t hate weir’s slide tone on BLACK PETER. at least until he goes above the 12th fret.

11/17/78a rambler room: a 45 minute surprise afternoon set at @LoyolaChicago as “bob weir & friends,” everybody minus billy/keith/donna, their only acoustic set between 1970 & 1980. only dead version of jelly roll morton’s WHININ’ BOY BLUES, led by weir. and the only dead TOM DOOLEY, a huge hit for the kingston trio in 1958, but garcia isn’t singing the kingston trio verses. (garcia, off-mic, not unhappily: “we sound horrible!”) getting ready for the dead debut of weir’s solo tune THIS TIME FOREVER, from that year’s “heaven help the fool,” off-mic, weir: “do you remember the changes?” phil: “no…” doesn’t quite hold together & all just as well, really. LOOKS LIKE RAIN lite(r). 1st DEEP ELEM BLUES since ’70 has weir on fret-buzzing slide. only dead K.C. MOAN is low stakes, future weir staple. already a solo garcia fave, 8 minute dead debut of KNOCKIN’ ON HEAVEN’S DOOR is just exactly perfect, avoiding metronomic plod of most electric versions. very welcome return of JACK-A-ROE, played a few times electric the previous spring (including its debut in chicago). it earns a big cheer, maybe from local tape collectors. surprisingly crisp. 1st DARK HOLLOW since some electric attempts in early ’71, slightly mushier. big fun with raucous weir/garcia tandems on terry harris’s BIG BOY PETE & set-closer of buddy holly’s OH BOY, both probably in the warlocks’ repertoire, neither played since ’70 & ’71 respectively.

11/17/78b chicago: 1st SHAKEDOWN STREET show opener sounds like it was recorded from the next room, crowd barely audible except when garcia finishes his scorching & concise psych/prog/funk solo. then they freak. weir watch: narrating the arrival of a roadie, “we have a trainer on the field. one of the speakers is… down.” 46-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > TERRAPIN STATION has some lovely subtle moments, underserved by the tape, to put it mildly. late in colorful ESTIMATED, garcia floats cloud-like guitar lines that break up gracefully into EYES. SPACE has chiming/glistening percussion. also, a rare keith presence, with cool minimal keys & moody jazz(ish) comping, active playing that continues into TERRAPIN. CASEY JONES returns to encore duty after its SNL bust-out.

11/18/78 chicago: garcia seems to dig deeper than usual into BIG RIVER, with reciprocal crowd reaction. lots of barely audible off-mic drummerly chatter. audible, however, is the drummers’ obscene beavis & butthead-like off-mic insult fest before bright MUSIC NEVER STOPPED. satisfying & exploratory 14-minute SUGAREE with garcia turning phrases inside out & weir’s slide turned down far enough to be (almost) tolerable. STAGGER LEE is not, though, weir’s slide sounding like someone demoing the pitch bend wheel on a casio. weir’s got a cool delay going on his guitar during 20-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN. wonderfully drawn-out transition is extended guitar/keys conversation, moody & even assertive playing by keith. jerry’s FIRE solo peaks with nicely weird & speedy build. weir watch: I NEED A MIRACLE moves to the front of the 2nd set & weir starts doing his rapping thing (“when i’m driving in my automobile!!”), which is errr uh yeah. but then it gets way cooking over a few healthy minutes of garcia rawk shreds. 44-minute HE’S GONE > THE OTHER ONE > DRUMZ > OLLIN ARAGEED > WHARF RAT. THE OTHER ONE dissolves into 7 minutes of righteously weird & coherent openness with hand percussion & gongs & rumbles & jerry jams. with SPACE having been held for the evening, OLLIN ARAGEED (a rare airing without hamza el din) acts as an elegant bridge into an uneven WHARF RAT.

11/20/78 cleveland: increasingly rare show where the majority of the music is new to band’s repertoire within the past 5 years & more exciting for it. locked-in PASSENGER, donna sounding boss, inside the song & (mostly) blending with weir. sweetly bouncing 9-minute PEGGY-O. just like that, a faith-restoring 2nd set, opening (as they virtually never did) with extended locked-in improv. 16 hair-raising minutes (& DRUMZ interlude) in the swingin’ early ‘70s hippie-jazz mode & a confident turn into 1st electric JACK-A-ROE since 5/77. eyewitnesses say weir was MIA for much of the 2nd set, which is fascinating/significant because it seems to have inspired the unusual set-opening jam, something they never did again, as far as i know. 36-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > SHAKEDOWN STREET > IF I HAD THE WORLD TO GIVE > PLAYING IN THE BAND. my fave kind of sequence, built on big jams & newest songs. segue into SHAKEDOWN lurches without doom chord intro, but mostly works. shaky descent into last (& easily best) of 3 versions of IF I HAD THE WORLD. fully occupied vocal, weir on cool delayed guitar (a few nice slides, even), & right back into PLAYING ether. can’t believe they could just play sets like this when they wanted.

11/21/78 rochester: CASSIDY balloons into a CHINA/RIDER-like float, wish it hung there longer. DIRE WOLF gets an enthralling power solo/jam, garcia’s voice starting to go crinkly. 70-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > BLACK PETER > TRUCKIN’. pointillistic garcia detailing in ESTIMATED. EYES outro is 2 minutes of joyous chord clouds that maybe could’ve developed into something deeper. SPACE winds in/out of NOT FADE AWAY pulse in mutated variations. deep into NOT FADE AWAY, band locks into brief high-speed changes with lovely garcia spins before gentle deceleration into BLACK PETER, all in one preposterously graceful minute.

11/23/78 landover: the dead play on thanksgiving thursday. eek, my throat hurts just hearing garcia trying to sing on the opening MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP & sounding so painfully scratched up, though he finds a sweet curling outro solo path. 10-minute DANCING IN THE STREET with playful exit before (finally!) 1st TERRAPIN STATION with a deliberate jam, a stardust float between last verse & “inspiration move me…” build. more turns in the landing, too, lesh rumbling awake. at 13 minutes, the longest yet. 37-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > OLLIN ARAGEED > SHAKEDOWN STREET > PLAYING IN THE BAND. cymbaly PLAYING jam as garcia & lesh go weird, tethered by hi-hat, unspooling too briefly into graceful free freakdom.2-minute wisp of OLLIN ARAGEED before garcia steps on mu-tron & pushes for SHAKEDOWN. drummers sound oblivious & finally jerry more or less slams into song & waits for all to catch up. donna harshes the WOO! with a shriek. easy melt back into PLAYING space.

11/24/78 passaic: promoter john scher (i think) intros the band, bit amped up. doesn’t quite have the drama of bill graham. amusing radio intrusions throughout during tuning breaks, including promo for lou reed’s live album “take no prisoners.” garcia’s voice getting worse. as always, lots of little new understandings from watching the dead play. didn’t grasp ’til now that STAGGER LEE is fingerpicked. are there others? keith often gets up & wanders around between songs, which i never envisioned. great close ups of garcia’s hands. weir watch: got a good ear for radio absurdity during dead air. among other bon mots, “this is your big opportunity to lean over & kiss your radio. don’t be afraid, don’t be ashamed, just do it. nobody’ll think poorly of you. we all think it’s a good idea.” 13-minute FRIEND OF THE DEVIL starts ultra-sleepy, with an even sleepier half-solo by weir, before garcia amps it up with cascading sparkles. keith is nice here & throughout. given band’s ludicrous custom gear, keith’s dinky yamaha is extra ridiculous. 58-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > SHAKEDOWN STREET > DRUMZ > HAMZA EL-DIN SONG > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN > SUGAR MAGNOLIA. ESTIMATED dives into bopland before an easy gearshift into SHAKEDOWN, which springs a jaw-dropping jam, big turns led by animated garcia. hamza el-din & blissed out mickey take centerstage with handdrums & el-din sings a tune which i’m almost positive is not OLLIN ARAGEED. he departs & rest of band returns & slide right into FIRE, garcia’s now voice painfully gone. weir charges into SUGAR MAGNOLIA & kreutzmann is drumming with it all the way, selling the segue. SUNSHINE DAYDREAM outro is just the right kind level of screamo for once, weir & donna’s voices even blending.

[11/25/78-12/2/78 cancelled northeast dates, rescheduled for january 1979]

12/12/78 miami: haven’t done the math, but seems like there’s a correlation between jerry pairing 2 songs (like this MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP/FRANKLIN’S TOWER opener) & weir doing his little country medley. the BIG RIVER break digs in hard again. guitar nerds: there’s no visual evidence for a few more shows (& i didn’t pick it out by ear tbh) but it seems garcia switched back to a travis bean for this southern run. 40-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY. inventive piano sparkles, but most of the jams feel pretty cursory. both ESTIMATED & EYES shimmy into infinity for a moment near their ends. enjoying the recent move of having NOT FADE AWAY begin on handdrums while spaced guitars wander around pulse. garcia splice-starts GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELIN’ BAD fast & then mickey (i think) ratchets it up further. kinda thrilling, but slow down, hippies!

12/13/78 tampa: after his 2nd bout of the year with throat issues, garcia’s voice starting to edge towards the reedier (& sometimes kermit-like) ‘80s version, especially on CANDYMAN choruses. tight & nicely flowing 49-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > SHAKEDOWN STREET > BLACK PETER > PLAYING IN THE BAND. deep PLAYING jam, orbiting around kreutzmann’s old style free drumming, somewhat buried in the chaos & hiss. DRUMZ wends impressively to quiet noise. another night with super-responsive keith keys, especially on fantastic & conversational 11-minute SHAKEDOWN. great between verse tangent & a jam that peaks big before a confident & up BLACK PETER.

12/15/78 birmingham: PROMISED LAND opener with big cheer for the “midnight flyer out of birmingham.” hot SHAKEDOWN STREET, but i’d already gotten used to its brief run as 2nd set jam monster & sad to hear it shortened. 1st I NEED A MIRACLE/BERTHA/GOOD LOVIN’ to open the 2nd set, regular sequence through spring 1980 after the latter two welded together in ’77. a reliable boogie-down i guess, but definitely part of the ossifying setlist structure. 47-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > STELLA BLUE > TRUCKIN’ > PLAYING IN THE BAND. condensed PLAYING freak-out with weir rhythm jitters & a particularly thudzy DRUMZ, at least on this tape. garcia enters handdrum SPACE at full shred & twists down to remarkably patient STELLA BLUE. minimal percussion at first, slightly awkward when drums enter. middle solo is an especially elegant & wondrous example of garcia building in sentences/paragraphs. pretty together-for-’78 TRUCKIN’ with the band hitting the big peaks in sync & even opening into increasingly rare jam for a few minutes before shifting back into PLAYING. extra enthused U.S. BLUES.

12/16/78 nashville: the night after ted nugent, the dead hit the municipal auditorium to a slightly smaller crowd. allegedly, garcia’s last show of his brief return to a travis bean guitar. easily stretching 13-minute SUGAREE opener with more weir slide makes me wonder if there were any nashville session pros in the audience & what they thought. totally crackling BIG RIVER solos. maybe garcia was wondering the same. “it’s great to be back to in the motion picture industry capital,” weir notes before BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE, with a 16 beat intro, the return of the day-of-month effect. garcia drops his local references with CANDYMAN & TENNESSEE JED. patiently unfolding 20-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN. once weir puts down the slide, really cool rhythmic interplay with keith’s keys. as always, wish keith was louder, but he’s moving the jam throughout. 58-minute classic combo HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT. HE’S GONE widens with vocal jam (garcia doubling himself on guitar) & briefest stirrings of far-outness before dissipation. instead of SPACE, a long handdrum weird-out lead-in for 19-minute OTHER ONE. the post-verse outro jam blooms into high-speed shapes. WHARF RAT flows with power guitar heroics.

12/17/78 atlanta: little jumps out from the 2nd visit of the year to the fox theater. PASSENGER continues to feel big, donna & weir blending well. RAMBLE ON ROSE seemingly slowing even more. 53-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > OLLIN ARAGEED > SHAKEDOWN STREET. first part of suite floats as normal, with a moment of universe-creating swirl at the peak of ESTIMATED, but the post-DRUMZ feels freshest. phil seemingly tries to leverage one of the chromatic runs in OLLIN ARAGEED to segue into MORNING DEW but is ignored. instead, a semi-pro palm-mute count-off into a crisp SHAKEDOWN, which blurs between funk & bright choogle before a darkly spaced outro.

12/19/78 jackson: loping 21-minute MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP > FRANKLIN’S TOWER combo opens. another night in the south, another bunch of local references. like the whole show, not spectacular but well-paced for twirling. i think there’s a dog barking onstage after FRANKLIN’S? enjoyable energy throughout. even the slow version of THEY LOVE EACH OTHER has some push to it, subtly responsive keys behind garcia’s solo. big LOSER, too. i think maybe phil is more present than usual for the era, even on EL PASO. fairly chill 22-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN to open the 2nd set, garcia soloing in quiet dashes/dots/exclamation points/question marks on both sides of the segue. weir’s slide especially ugly on the FIRE peaks, though. 60-minute TRUCKIN’ > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE OTHER ONE > STELLA BLUE > NOT FADE AWAY. extra-active phil on TRUCKIN’, vocally & musically, leshing all over it. song widens instantly into rare conversational jam that melts into zonk. no donna post-TRUCKIN’, which works fine. building from handDRUMZ, OTHER ONE woozes between intentional & accidental discombobulation at first. segues in/out of STELLA BLUE are delightful, intro to deep melodic NOT FADE AWAY colored with STELLA BLUE chords.

12/21/78 houston: lyric scrambles by garcia on both opening JACK STRAW & following DIRE WOLF. in 2nd set, genderbending slip in TERRAPIN STATION’s verse about the sailor, “she loved a lady many years ago,” makes nice conceptual continuity with (unplayed) JACK-A-ROE, though. 41-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > BLACK PETER > PLAYING IN THE BAND, missing end. PLAYING accelerates into wiry jam with garcia & the drumzers. airy balafon atop DRUMZ before the move to hand percussion. SPACE sorta loses the thread, but BLACK PETER is typically wounded & deep. some utterly lyrical solos, with jerry vocalizing along during the outro. but oy weir’s slide guitar.

12/22/78 dallas: TENNESSEE JED opens up into ascending garcia dixieland curlicues. weir’s slide sounds cool until it doesn’t. BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE gets mushy. impossible to count the intro beats. all the music is underserved by the audience recording, but especially the 27-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN with a fluttering & thoughtful transition jam, piano & bass laying further back. 41-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > WHARF RAT is cut off & feels abbreviated, anyway. only 13-minute ESTIMATED stretches. brilliant slow-motion piano. elegant guitar figure lands in EYES.

12/27/78 san diego: mix is grotty, but enjoyable breaks in FRIEND OF THE DEVIL, aggressive piano & goofy bass conversing around the changes. rare late-set MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP/FRANKLIN’S TOWER combo works well as a destination piece. weir watch: “meanwhile, the california harvest is steadily being eaten by bugs. we have an example here of a giant speaker-eating roach…” mellower than usual feel on BERTHA. donna jumps in on a few lines when garcia spaces. TERRAPIN STATION features another ineffable & brief starlight jam (4:23-5:19). or is there some other deadhead taper name for this? 36-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > BLACK PETER. last 2 minutes of PLAYING churns well. mickey’s new balafon DRUMZ segment sounds almost dreamy, but then gets swallowed by the thumps.

12/28/78 san diego: compact DIRE WOLF with guitar solo of pure fire. SHAKEDOWN STREET drops as a 2nd set opener for 1st time since debut & finding its swagger. jam is good platform for weir to play actual rhythm guitar. 52-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > TRUCKIN’ > WHARF RAT. EYES has gone & lost its chill again. bright side is they get to the jam faster, which is detailed & soaring. right before exit, lesh hints at TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. balafon interlude in DRUMZ moves to middle & gets more melodic, hope it integrates with other instruments. in rare move, keith joins SPACE & jam quickly coheres over hand percussion as keith/garcia make shapes & colors, pausing for a logical count-off into TRUCKIN’. short rippin’ TRUCKIN’. weir even contributes cool slide ideas before elegant garcia descent into epic WHARF RAT. uncharacteristically lit keith plays big inventive flourishes during bridge, at least ’til (equally uncharacteristically) garcia barks “QUIET!”

12/30/78 UCLA: adorable off-mic hart/weir bitch-fest after LOOKS LIKE RAIN. hart: “weir, you started that fucking thing off so slow!” weir: “i think you all came in slower & then it dragged!” by the end someone (billy?): “ARE WE NOT MEN?” were the dead hip to devolution? extra driving 18-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN. normally i dig donna’s vocalizing on the SCARLET transition, but (after a nice entrance) not so much here. but when she stops, they’re in magical, flowing place. brief FIRE is nice, if not as graceful. off-mic, band plots jam sequence. phil, with mock urgency: “we’ve gotta do something else from the album, this is LA!” they end up playing 7 of 9 in total, probably a record. 64-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > SHAKEDOWN STREET > DRUMZ > OLLIN ARAGEED > ST. STEPHEN > NOT FADE AWAY > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD. a lot packed into a messy & fun suite, but almost all the songs get short-changed. keith & jerry find a good spot in PLAYING, but jam peters out & garcia starts the last (for now) deep 2nd set SHAKEDOWN. on point, with hot jerry mu-tron, but also stays pretty inside until its last moments. only DRUMZ & OLLIN ARAGEED stretch out leisurely. more balafon (i think), getting better each show, then more thumpery. 10th & last OLLIN ARAGEED of the dead’s egypt year, this time with hamza el-din (& ensemble, including bill walton), 14 minutes of nubian noodles. brief space jam seems headed for PLAYING reprise, but lands in 1st ST. STEPHEN since january, perhaps accidentally. l’il sluggish, but still nice to have back. lee oskar of WAR toots harmonica on AROUND & AROUND & ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT & okay i guess?

12/31/78 winterland: KSAN broadcasters do pre-show color commentary, interview al franken & others, recount bill graham’s previous stunts, & do play-by-play as dan aykroyd handles the new year’s countdown & graham arrives from the rafters on a giant joint. (side note: if anybody has photos of bill graham crashing into santana’s new year’s ’77 show at midnight in a star destroyer & emerging as darth vader, please share them!)SUGAR MAGNOLIA opener is left unfinished, jumping right into 25-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN that is not actually messy af, but rich & present. set bookended by SUNSHINE DAYDREAM. weir watch: after some graham stage announcements, weir has crowd thank uncle bobo. off-mic, someone calls for ME & MY UNCLE BOBO. setbreak interviews include ken kesey & mickey hart discussing the finer points of shooting cannons onstage. 2nd set has matt kelly, weir’s bandmate in kingfish, reprising album role by honkin’ on I NEED A MIRACLE. garcia’s RAMBLE ON ROSE solo is extra buoyant. 52-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY. sketches of weirdness before kinda tedious superjam. lee oskar toots harmonica, greg errico on drums, sadly way too brief noise by kens kesey & babbs & the thunder machine, shards of john cipollina guitar blastage. opening set 3: 33-minute DARK STAR > OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT > ST. STEPHEN. 1st DARK STAR since 10/74. big cheers & chills, but a mild letdown tbh. donna doubles jerry on chorus. better than i remembered, especially mini nebulae swelling into irresistible OTHER ONE bass drop. more new year’s craziness as dawn approaches & the dead close winterland & an era with 1st BID YOU GOODNIGHT since new year’s ’76 (& last ’til ’89), bill graham’s vague hints of a superjam TK, & breakfast. “you can stay as long as you like,” sez uncle bobo.

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