Jesse Jarnow

#deadfreaksunite 1981

#deadfreaksunite 1981
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. Expanded notes for many shows (with press, scene reports, and images) can be found on Twitter by searching for my username (bourgwick) and the show date. Please consult JerryBase for the latest data, Dead Sources for original articles (1965-1975), and LostLiveDead/Hootrollin for deep dives.

[1965] [1966] [1967] [1968] [1969] [1970] [1971] [1972] [1973] [1974] [1975] [1976] [1977] [1978] [1979] [1980] [1981]

2/26/81 chicago: last of 6 multi-show stands at the uptown theatre since ’78. i wrongly thought the lovely christina schrieber/jonathan hunt poster was a recent tribute. 11-minute BIRD SONG in the 1st set, garcia’s voice is a bit a-flutter, jam starting with nearly staccato notes & gradually getting busier, more nuanced, really capturing the feeling of taking flight, either deliberately or cuz garcia’s warming up. 13-minute CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER with weir doing some fantastic non-slide jamming with the gnarly tone usually reserved for his slide “playing.” works much better. such an instinctive combo with garcia. 55-minute HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > TRUCKIN’ > BLACK PETER. HE’S GONE floats down to nothingness before garcia gets assertive & all find momentum, spiraling around OTHER ONE triplets, fading again, & reforming gracefully into well-developed conversational garcia/mydland jam. virtually no SPACE, garcia & weir instantly in TRUCKIN’ prelude mode, a gradual wander followed by the marching band intro, to whose charms i am not immune. TRUCKIN’ finds a distinct coda groove that builds nice tension before BLACK PETER descent.

2/27/81 chicago: 1st set lands at under an hour, with a short CASSIDY ride. garcia’s voice is noticeably reedier than it was over the holidays, disconcerting at times, but intimate IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES with sweetly cushioning harmonies. 2nd set opens in jam mode & stays there, one the most archetypal post-’78 setlists possible, but somehow only played this once, starting with scattered but flaring 24-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN. 62-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > WHARF RAT. gentle space-reggae painting before garcia butterflies into a pedal-to-the-metal EYES. DRUMZ starts with 3 minutes of what seem like slow-motion rock groove, though maybe doing something weird/intentional, too, because audience can’t clap along with it? (i’ve never heard tapes, but hart/kreutzmann/lesh played a rhythm devils gig together earlier in the month.) late in DRUMZ, a horn mimics the sound of some insane unhappy animal, followed by off-mic conversation.
weir: that doesn’t sound like a fuckin’ elephant.
kreutzmann: not at all!
kreutzmann (into mic): hello? (crowd cheers.) hi!
9-minute NOT FADE AWAY floats out of a cycling blues noodle into more mysterious territory before turning into WHARF RAT. and as squeaky as garcia is, weir is equally well into his big rock-squeak era, with ultra-mega SUNSHINE DAYDREAM falsetto.

2/28/81 chicago: 1st set gets wired with pretty delicious LET IT GROW / DEAL combo, each going elastic during high-energy coda jams that suggest they’re just about to shed their structures & go elsewhere before snapping into back to form. a very mellow garcia in 2nd set, centered by 54-minute TERRAPIN STATION > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE OTHER ONE > STELLA BLUE. extra-dreamy TERRAPIN interlude. a hint at PLAYING IN THE BAND, but instead, after garcia’s departure, a full-on weir/mydland/cowbell epilogue. delay, synth swirl, & garcia/mydland conversation color path to OTHER ONE. garcia keeps jamming after 2nd verse, coalescing briefly into lovely/sloppy prelude to even dreamier STELLA BLUE. garcia’s voice almost disappears, virtually no snares. crowd chaos.

3/2/81 cleveland: modern-tempo’d slo-mo 13-minute SHAKEDOWN STREET opener, sounding even slower without much garcia on the soundboard, but A+ on dr. bob’s tape. slinks into a cucumber-cool pocket by end, garcia & weir trading lines like a disco EASY WIND with low-key peak. JACK-A-ROE retains some nice charge after the acoustic sets in ’80. 11-minute LAZY LIGHTNING > SUPPLICATION is longer than fall versions, stretching easily into the-1-is-where-you-think-it-is conversational open space. 56-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > CHINA DOLL > DRUMZ > SPACE > PLAYING IN THE BAND > THE WHEEL. quick-moving PLAYING jamming after CHINA DOLL, garcia/percussion/chaos SPACE & gentle WHEEL epilogue, more mindful than mournful compared to the usual.

3/3/81 cleveland: last ever show in cleveland proper. BIRD SONG will always be headline news, maybe the most graceful forum for the drummers’ busily dancing snares (& band as a whole) in the early ‘80s, here an 11-minute version that flutter-gallops into new space before mydland reels it back. extra-long set-opening 16-minute CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER has ups & downs. garcia spaces on some vocals in both tunes but keeps twisting & turning & brightening corners during extended transition, energy carrying as they tumble into SAMSON & DELILAH. 51-minute HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > LOST SAILOR > SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE > BLACK PETER. graceful drum fade on HE’S GONE leads to great jam. hart moves to hand percussion & locks into noodles with garcia as kreutzmann builds back up on kit, finding the cool place for a few minutes. weir & garcia trickle their way into LOST SAILOR out of DRUMZ with the hand percussion still tapping. a bummer substitute for SPACE & yet a really lovely way to start LOST SAILOR.

3/5/81 pittsburgh: some nice present garcia in the 1st set in, including gentle FRIEND OF THE DEVIL with lovely fractal solos & quiet, confident TO LAY ME DOWN. i am the opposite of thrilled about weir taking a blues slot in nearly every show. at start of 2nd set, as band as seemingly about to start playing SCARLET BEGONIAS, garcia’s guitar isn’t working, so weir leads band into a pretty boss 13-minute JAM > PASSENGER, him & mydland staying inventive, garcia soaring in midway through the song. deep corners in 60-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > WHARF RAT > AROUND & AROUND > JOHNNY B. GOODE. ace PLAYING only complete on audience tape. hart moves to hand percussion & garcia floats on a kreutzmann pocket that widens gradually into air. midway into NOT FADE AWAY, garcia locks into a strong melody (or a quote?) & weir’s harmony brings jam to mutated allmans-y peak. unusual spiral into WHARF RAT that almost constitutes its own mini-jam. even the segue to AROUND & AROUND is real for once.

3/6/81 pittsburgh: JACK STRAW, tempo clicking upwards, opens mostly mellow 1st set. only 1 weir c&w tune. instead of B3, brent goes synth for his LITTLE RED ROOSTER solo & is kinda fun. percolating high-energy almost-jams in closing LET IT GROW & (especially) DEAL. 66-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > FRANKLIN’S TOWER > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE OTHER ONE > STELLA BLUE. rough segue into FRANKLIN’S with chaotic coda jam, flickering through different scenes/shapes as it lands. a trend i support: another OTHER ONE (with furnished intro) where band keeps jamming after 2nd verse & moving away from structure. a bit unfocused, but inventive playing & coda/dissolve into STELLA BLUE that sounds like yo la tengo for a few notes en route.

3/7/81 college park: bob marley & the wailers were scheduled to play at @UofMaryland the previous september, but canceled because of marley’s ilness. their rescheduled date was supposed to be this gig with the dead, which obviously never happened. can hear garcia’s guitar reverberating off the field house ceiling, nice effect, especially adds nice touches to electric folk of JACK-A-ROE. weir teases at WEATHER REPORT SUITE between tunes. le sigh. garcia pushes/pulls 17-minute BIRD SONG (longest ever, perhaps?) from gentle weaving into more fraught air. set-closing 10-minute DEAL is also extra-long, its solo going a bend beyond into full jam territory, a wisp of soaring near-DARK STAR melody. besides a sleepy IKO IKO opener & the LOST SAILOR lead-in, 59-minute LOST SAILOR > SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE > DRUMZ > SPACE > TRUCKIN’ > BLACK PETER is consistently inventive & high fun. 19-minute SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE is rare version that (after stutter) builds on the ending. jam switches gears & garcia leads blissy segment adjacent to UNCLE JOHN’S BAND (& THE ELEVEN?), mydland on dyna-rhodes, sounding briefly phishy, before continuing detailed churn. the opposite of losing steam, this is one of the more adventurous jams (& shows) in recent memory. only other comparable SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE i know of is 11/2/79. other attempts to jam it collapsed when drummers lost interest (see 9/3/80). even TRUCKIN’ finds open territory, slowly turning up the warpage on the blues-rock outro until it’s just garcia playing a gentle mutant prelude to BLACK PETER, the song itself sung with extreme presence, reaching for new, different vocal phrasings.

3/9/81 madison square garden: big nyc energy pretty tangible on opening FEEL LIKE A STRANGER, a thumping garden party. impressively varied setlists this tour. 1st DEEP ELEM BLUES & BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE of the year both raise nice sparks. another night, another wondrous BIRD SONG. vocals are a little ragged, but jam almost instantly brushes into DARK STAR adjacent territory & wanders right to the brink of empty space, drums & keyboards pulling back into the last chorus, with clanging outro chords. mydland takes grungy synth-clav solo in NEW MINGLEWOOD BLUES & uses same tone to double intro on tremendous 16-minute CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER. garcia digs in on transition, increasingly melodramatic weir vocals, RIDER once again spills into SAMSON & DELILAH. 62-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE OTHER ONE > STELLA BLUE. a rare melodious exit for ESTIMATED, disassembling into UNCLE JOHN’S which abstracts organically, at least until garcia abruptly shifts into the coda & nobody follows. multi-phase OTHER ONE entrance detonation, accidental, but kind of cool in its own way. weir is now mostly singing around the melody, rarely singing it directly. weir’s GOOD LOVIN’ rap is expanding, too. more parts of the ‘80s clicking into place.

3/10/81 madison square garden: enormous spring reverb noise near start of MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP (amps crashing down?) & band almost derails. crowd cheers, of course. “that loud noise at the beginning of the 1st song, that wasn’t a mistake, that was art,” weir says later. off-mic, after DON’T EASE ME IN, someone onstage (hart or garcia, i think) suggests to weir that they play “LAZY LOVIN’,” which is kind of perfect. a correction is issued & they play LAZY LIGHTNIN’ > SUPPLICATION. lots of little semi-transitions* in both sets give it a more natural flow than usual. (* – one song starting right after the next like most normal bands would do, minus the extra lip-flopping & toodling about.) generous 26-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN. garcia finds staccato pulse during transition before blurring into wah-wah colors. long, lazily lovin’ FIRE, angling downward from the final peak & melting gracefully into 42-minute LOST SAILOR > SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE WHEEL > CHINA DOLL. SAINT jams out, splattering into chaotic energy. jerry bailing quickly. weir teases (i think) an early germ of VICTIM OR THE CRIME ideas. after big CHINA DOLL solo, virtually standalone TRUCKIN’. fun placement. weir delivers 1st SATISFACTION of ’81, worth it for the drum breaks & lulz. “when i’m drivin’ my TV,” weir sings. perhaps even more devolved than devo’s version.

3/12/81 boston garden: impressed at the stability of this fan camera work. perhaps prepping for upcoming gig with the who, weir attempts guitar windmill during JACK STRAW. 10-minute BIRD SONG feels way too short, flowing briefly into glittering half-time jam. very into the renewed commitment to jamming at the end of the 1st set, tonight LET IT GROW (with cool harmonized garcia peak in the jam) & FRANKLIN’S TOWER. also just noticed the total disappearance of mydland’s 2 originals, which i guess i wasn’t missing. set 2 flows nonstop, mostly a 73-minute TERRAPIN STATION > PLAYING IN THE BAND > HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > BLACK PETER. substantial PLAYING widens to jam space & shape-shifts, about ready to sink into DRUMZ when garcia starts HE’S GONE. after the HE’S GONE vocal outro, a short but purposeful epilogue swirl. even before the drummers return, SPACE aims for NOT FADE AWAY, in which garcia locks into the same bright melodic theme as the pittsburgh version, weir doubling it into allmans-ness.

3/13/81 utica: hearty 13-minute SHAKEDOWN STREET opener, cool theme/variation in final solo. garcia continues to dig in the songbook this tour, 1st HIGH TIME since radio city in the fall, sounded beautifully wounded. 61-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > LOST SAILOR > SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE > WHARF RAT. garcia runs down the usual lovely space-reggae sax-on-guitar variations during ESTIMATED & accelerates, switching to cruise at a chill moment. funnily, in the 1st EYES OF THE WORLD since @brianfelix & i presented about its changing speeds at @SWPACA (& he taught me how to figure out tempo), it slows back down to lazy early ‘70s feel, around ~110 bpm, after ~140 bpm (among fastest ever) in previous version on 2/27. a pleasure just to float with EYES at this speed. SPACE is thoughtful extended prelude to LOST SAILOR, garcia ruminating while hart thrums drone on a tar, landing in song gracefully (with some stray synth lasers).

3/14/81 new haven: 1st is brightest, garcia locking into merrily moody threads on FEEL LIKE A STRANGER opener, shining B3 peaks with mydland on 12-minute SUGAREE, & surfing the sunshine just the before big transition lick on CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER. a very present garcia navigates the SHIP OF FOOLS vocals beautifully, too. all well-played, but the jamming is back to slim 1980 proportions, almost none in 45-minute LOST SAILOR > SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > STELLA BLUE. garcia riffs gently on bach’s JESU, JOY OF MAN’S DESIRING as brief elegant transition to 10-minute STELLA BLUE with glittering solos. return of the once-common I NEED A MIRACLE/BERTHA/GOOD LOVIN’, 1st MIRACLE & BERTHA of ’81, the latter crazed ’n’ sloppy.

3/20/81 rainbow theatre: 1st visit to europe in 7 years. a clandestine bit of the dead’s soundcheck, including a few takes of the not-yet-debuted MAN SMART, WOMAN SMARTER. withholding comment. taper checks in at end, “there you have it, the soundcheck… for all you people on los an-gel-es, cal-ee-forn-yuh, heyyyy.” the dead hit post-punk london with their 1981 selves, almost entirely transformed since their ’74 visit, in sound, if not in repertoire. DEAL taps into manic energy, garcia shredding & splattering hard. after a few years of a consistent tempo, 22-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN is a bit speedy. jam flares, especially, at the start & end of FIRE, with mutant blues signaling the transition & big final guitar runs. not much free turf in 53-minute HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > SPACE > TRUCKIN’ > WHARF RAT > AROUND & AROUND > JOHNNY B. GOODE. garcia exits HE’S GONE immediately after vocal outro for 2-minute weir slide jam. weir watch: “some of the clowns you meet on the street…” & “all a friend can say is it’s a fuckin’ shame” added to TRUCKIN’ for 1st time. shocking!! garcia leans into the “motherfucker” in WHARF RAT. nice acceleration into AROUND & AROUND.

3/21/81 rainbow theatre: 1st set levels up during garcia’s multi-peak ALTHEA solo (with dyna-rhodes stardust) & hits biggish with closing combo of LET IT GROW with a not-quite-segue into CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER, bouncing 10 or so bpm faster than usual. 56-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > BLACK PETER. fast but not uncomfortable EYES. unusually, after rainbow peaks, garcia pulls back to chords & exits cleanly before the drum break. fun spiral into NOT FADE AWAY with purposeful garcia solos at every break (mydland harmonies with the first) & another pass through the bright blues theme from the past few versions. heartaching final BLACK PETER peak.

3/23/81 rainbow theatre: garcia’s in a decidedly downtempo mood all evening, but feeling it. impressively brisk tuning breaks. short 1st set closes with 11-minute SUGAREE, getting down to jeweled quiet, followed by brief but levitational LAZY LIGHTNING > SUPPLICATION. rare 2nd set BIRD SONG opens. 14 minutes, confident & focused from launch of the jam, band floating through plateaus/scenes as garcia hooks into a series of sad sweet melodic peaks. TO LAY ME DOWN makes its london debut 11 years after robert hunter wrote the lyrics there. 58-minute TERRAPIN STATION > PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > STELLA BLUE. no dead air in expansive PLAYING, thinning & re-thickening, garcia’s guitar & mydland’s dyna-rhodes flying circles around each other. lovely ascent right out of DRUMZ, hart & kreutzmann making gonging percussive chaos as garcia plays around the OTHER ONE pulse, though sort of an abrupt bombing into the tune itself.

3/24/81 rainbow theatre: 19-minute MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP > FRANKLIN’S TOWER earns its segue designation, with a great transition from the coda that spirals up into FRANKLIN’S, with soaring jams on both sides of the divide. impressively oiled night, a charging BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE (13 intro hits) pauses for a beat & smashes right into GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD, an unusual & pretty happening double-weir pairing. after being pretty rare for the past year & slowing down (most of the time), 14-minute SHAKEDOWN STREET 2nd set opener resets it closer to original tempo, returns it to regular rotation, floats into joyous disco space & blows open into cubist blues. 70-minute HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE WHEEL > TRUCKIN’ > WHARF RAT > AROUND & AROUND > GOOD LOVIN’. after long-ass HE’S GONE vocal coda, jam builds & percolates as garcia & drummers disappear under weir & mydland, reentering with hand DRUMZ. possibly the flying karamazov brothers do a juggling routine during ze DRUMZ (as during the rockpalast broadcast a few days later), or maybe they opened the show, but they seem to have appeared at the rainbow this week. THE WHEEL starting to build some real power & thunder rolls, garcia just about cracking into expansive jam-space before the marching band intro to TRUCKIN’ snaps everybody more-or-less in line. weir watch: definitely getting better (& more deliberate) acceleration from jerry ballads into AROUND & AROUND & the late-set choogle sequence, another well-earned segue notation.

3/28/81 essen: a live international television broadcast via rockpalast, sharing a bill with the who. 13-minute SUGAREE, fun to watch the peak with actual good camera work. okay, i lol’d when someone in the crowd shouts for ME & MY UNCLE in a german accent (after SUGAREE). he gets it immediately, too! fat midset SHAKEDOWN STREET, played 2 shows in a row, & feeling comfy, garcia having a mid-set bro sesh with the drummers. another big DEAL where garcia’s solo seems to push the band into energetic almost-jam anarchy. 86-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > HE’S GONE > THE OTHER ONE > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > WHARF RAT > AROUND & AROUND > GOOD LOVIN’, with a full brothers karamazov juggling routine during DRUMZ & an equally flying pete townshend joining post-DRUMZ. the flying karamazov brothers do a juggling routine around hart (kreutzmann refuses), flashing a little disco move at the end. weir watch: maybe it’s been happening for a bit, but now the ‘80s phase where weir mimes along with vocals (or a feature-not-bug for non-english speakers?). here: *you’re* going to give your love; *round & round*, moon went *down*, & *rose* out of my seat. got some range! kinda misfiring pete townshend guest appearance, adding a lovely layer of clang (& stage movement) to NOT FADE AWAY, but weir tries to talk him through WHARF RAT, which doesn’t quite work. lights cigarette during bridge & bails during GOOD LOVIN’.

4/25/81 berkeley community theater: the not-quite-grateful dead (minus lesh & mydland, with john kahn on upright bass) play acoustic for @Seva_Foundation in berkeley, the last owsley soundboard, & template for bay area benefits to come. “we started out kinda like this, went on to become the rocky & bullwinkle of rock & roll,” says weir. they stand instead of sit, but still lovely & laidback, mostly just the ’80 acoustic repertoire with kahn’s more grounded low end. penultimate weir/garcia DARK HOLLOW (with garcia’s sweet harmony part), played at one other acoustic benefit in ’87. the last acoustic EL PASO, a rarity in the fall sets with fun garcia falsetto. a nicer setting for it than dead shows, probably. super-hushed OH BABE IT AIN’T NO LIE & 1st joyous OH BOY since april ’71 at manhattan center. unsurprisingly, owsley causes some issues when mixing sound, from robert greenfeld’s “bear” bio, his last gig before moving to australia to avoid the apocalypse.

4/30/81 greensboro: tape opens with band in the middle of tune-up jam that sounds disconcertingly like a deep part of a 2nd set & ends after 30 seconds. weir watch #1: new phase of aggro vocal embellishment, inserting a “that’s right!” & various grunts into JACK STRAW. snappy CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER closes 1st set. fun percussive palm-muted/wah-wah leads by weir under CHINA CAT turn into cool & gnarled counterpoint leads during transition with surprising peak. 2nd set opening SHAKEDOWN STREET bounces conversationally. 51-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > TRUCKIN’ > BLACK PETER. weir watch #2: ESTIMATED vocal outro expands even more, begs for echo/reverb/efx. not much by way of jamming. weir watch #3: sings TRUCKIN’s sweet jane verse 2x, 2nd time with new update: “ever since she had her little sex change/all i can say is it ain’t the same.” bob, those aren’t their preferred pronouns & you’re using a dead name. (weir does use “he” the 1st time, tho.) well, not sure what i was thinking when i tried to see if @thoughtsonGD had commented on the updated “sex change” lyric in TRUCKIN’, but i did find some entertaining posts/threads. weir watch #4: semi-ahistorical intro to CASEY JONES, “there was a train wreck not too far from here & he died but his memory lives.” oddly might be referring to the wreck of the ol’ 97? the casey jones crash was 700+ miles & 4 states to the west.

5/1/81 hampton: methodical ALTHEA solo, weir’s slide guitar turned down almost far enough. scorching LET IT GROW / DEAL combo to close 1st set, LET IT GROW especially overflowing with detailed garcia landscaping & dyna-rhodes colors. 1st part of 2nd set moves between songs with minimal pauses, just like a real band, but still not segues. both FEEL LIKE A STRANGER & FRANKLIN’S TOWER are platforms for boogie moods & hot garcia shreds, the latter subdividing & peaking anew. 51-minute HE’S GONE > THE OTHER ONE > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE WHEEL > WHARF RAT. long vocal outro to HE’S GONE, virtually clean ending (like rest of the set) until drummers drop into semi-automatic OTHER ONE, which does its thing in under 6 minutes, never totally detonating. SPACE is almost all noodletown with a quick graceful roll into THE WHEEL, the ending shifting into dramatic & ear-embiggening openness for a moment before landing in WHARF RAT. a big outro that almost avoids kersplatting into SUGAR MAGNOLIA.

5/2/81 philadelphia: opening of the 1st set is where it’s at, with galloping JACK STRAW (big lesh bomb at the peak), easily cruising SUGAREE, & compact but luxuriously soaring 9-minute BIRD SONG. garcia whiffs some lyrics in 22-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN, but nice chewy transition that flickers into into darker vibes before lesh’s bass enters & all climb back to sunshine. except for the move into the closing choogle suite, 2nd set feels a bit disconnected despite sorta/kinda segues, 65-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > TERRAPIN STATION > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > STELLA BLUE > AROUND & AROUND > GOOD LOVIN’. garcia scrambles TERRAPIN in the middle, starting the starlight break a verse early before pulling back into song & getting confused about what he’s supposed to singing. like the rest of the set, a few pretty jam flashes but not quite gelling.

5/4/81 philadelphia: BERTHA makes a rare mid-set appearance, considerably more chill & less chaotic than the last few, like there’s been a subtle change in the arrangement. less drumming? to my ears, sounds more like the later ‘80s/‘90s feel. after a winter tour with big jamming, the dead seem to have forgotten how to improvise again. 46-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > NOBODY’S FAULT BUT MINE > LOST SAILOR > SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE > BLACK PETER. PLAYING churns, sheltering in weirdness, but never opens up. straight outta DRUMZ, garcia starts bluesing & singing 1st NOBODY’S FAULT since 1/79, last ’til 9/85, done by the dead in the early days, now emerging from jams as semi-fragment. spare but l’il messy, hart apparently front-stage with a frame drum.

5/5/81 glens falls: after playing MUSIC NEVER STOPPED in the 1st set, 2 of the 2nd set’s big jams seem to channel its peak, including 23-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN with colorful gear-shifting by weir as it climbs to tension & back down. big energy 2nd set, anchored by 68-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > TRUCKIN’ > ALABAMA GETAWAY that shakes up some of the band’s usual patterns in a pretty fun way & finally start jamming. unusually grooved EYES, still at mega-zippy, but feelin’ chill & finding its way to another cascading & time-suspending MUSIC NEVER STOPPED-like peak. electro SPACE bubbles before especially unusual late show sequence with no garcia ballad & surprise segues. props to mickey for pivoting gracefully from the UNCLE JOHN’S outro vocal into the TRUCKIN’ marching band intro. band wends into SPANISH JAM-adjacent territory before accelerating back to boogie speed for a completely smooth transition into ALABAMA GETAWAY.

5/6/81 nassau coliseum: originally scheduled for 5/7 (as on above ticket stub), but moved to 5/6 to make room for potential hockey playoffs after the new york state supreme court ruled in favor of the islanders. some interminable slow weir tunes in the 1st set before the eternally delightful BIG RAILROAD BLUES & the ever-popular LET IT GROW / DEAL closer with lots of colorful garcia twists. sorry for saying the dead lost their jamming mojo! dedicated by weir to bobby sands, irish dissident who died the day before following a prison hunger strike, 67-minute HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD > WHARF RAT > GOOD LOVIN’. dense & dazzling 15-minute improv out of HE’S GONE packed with little turns & themes both named & unnamed, including CAUTION-like peaks (but not quite the groove) & exciting sped-up SPANISH JAM (sorta), almost splattering/dissipating a few times but shifting gears instead. band comes out of DRUMZ flying at proper weird, garcia & drummers out in open territory until THE OTHER ONE coalesces, more punctuation than jam, as is the rest of set. as they land, garcia almost cleanly hits well-placed GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD. at the end of GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD, garcia short-circuits the BID YOU GOODNIGHT instrumental rag, steering the surprised band towards WHARF RAT. rest of the set doesn’t glow quite as much, but point taken.

5/7/81 nbc studios: with ken kesey on tomorrow coast-to-coast with tom snyder, one of their most satisfying TV appearances, 20 minutes of acoustic music & 20 minutes of interviews.4-song acoustic set to promote “reckoning” on bill the drummer’s 35th birthday. slightly higher energy with garcia & weir standing. all songs sounds great & punchy with little crackling garcia breaks, CASSIDY coming closest to jam. 3 interview segments (kesey/garcia, weir/garcia, weir/garcia/hart/kreutzmann), each with their own charms & lulz & stories & moments. thoroughly enjoy snyder’s weird/earnest energy, & the kesey/garcia goof ’n’ heaviness tag-team. not gonna play-by-play, because it’s all fun & revealing but, after kesey takes a swig…
snyder: what, are you recharging there?
kesey: it’s german wine, the acid is from switzerland.
…and not sure he’s kidding. he asks if the government-funded LSD experiments were responsible for the ‘60s & garcia rightly points out that there was widespread underground interest in psychedelics before that.

5/8/81 nassau coliseum: another night, another inventively detailed LET IT GROW. one of very few songs repeated over the 3 nights, all by weir, except DON’T EASE ME IN. 16-minute SHAKEDOWN STREET opens 2nd set. not much jam content but the medium is the boogie. 62-minute TERRAPIN STATION > PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > STELLA BLUE. a long & leisurely PLAYING wind-down (some of it missing from the soundboard), but the most locked & inspired improv happens after the drum break. fresh from his appearance with the band the day before, ken kesey joins the drumzers for space harmonica, yelps, & duck calls. percussion never disappears during SPACE, coalescing into great hand-drum jam before slightly abrupt shift into NOT FADE AWAY. as they move into NOT FADE AWAY, weir pushes odd chords, almost (but not quite) like EYES OF THE WORLD. after garcia & weir’s slow harmonized jam, an unusual coda where garcia repeats the STELLA BLUE descent under weir’s vocals, sounding like MIND LEFT BODY as they land. apparently, on this tour, hart played frame drum at center stage during DRUMZ &, on this night, lesh sang some rare-for-the-era backup vocal during U.S. BLUES encore.

5/9/81a nassau coliseum: nice 26-minute opening trio, the band mastering 1st set-style flow during 26-minute MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP > FRANKLIN’S TOWER > FEEL LIKE A STRANGER, the latter transition an especially sly move by weir under garcia’s final arpeggios. 10-minute BIRD SONG opens into melancholy & busy guitar/dyna-rhodes conversation. jam almost lands but garcia goes for another weirder spin. after that, the set droops, both LITTLE RED ROOSTER & a weir cowboy medley followed immediately by LOOKS LIKE RAIN. weir watch: some vocal additions to a few tunes, working blue/edgy in LOOKS LIKE RAIN, “wish these fuckin’ blues would go away.” in LOST SAILOR he notes “free is a feeling,” an excellent marketing slogan. 62-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > TRUCKIN’ > BLACK PETER. fun & high-content EYES, unusually grooved again. garcia & mydland find cool intro pattern, reprising in jam. outro develops distinct shapes, staying busy right ’til DRUMZ kick in. thoroughly noisy SPACE with synth bubbles, wild guitars, fluttering toms. after TRUCKIN’ marching band intro, a quick circus descent before another TRUCKIN’ with a real jam, expanding outward, down to garcia-led space, & back up. unexpected. weir’s faux-daltrey stutters on AROUND & AROUND are a lot funnier after kesey’s brainfry joke on tom snyder a few nights earlier.

5/9/81b the savoy: after playing nassau coliseum, the grateful dead (apparently) back john belushi on some covers at the savoy, ron delsener’s new club on 44th street, including WALKING THE DOG & TWIST & SHOUT. via joel selvin’s 5/31 column. no tapes.

5/11/81 new haven: nice garcia tunes in the 1st set, with only ROW JIMMY of tour, but generally meh. weir watch: 8 covers vs. 3 originals, or 2 depending how you count 10-minute set-closin’ LAZY LIGHTNIN’ > SUPPLICATION. really leaning into the bar band feels tonight. 21-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN is big rainbow-rippling fun, but weir tags on CC RIDER, which is even snoozier in 2nd set, featuring mydland scatting, which is a new piece of the ‘80s i definitely hadn’t previously considered. 46-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE WHEEL > PLAYING IN THE BAND > CHINA DOLL. big peak in PLAYING as garcia switches over to rhythm, making thrilling dense wall with weir & mydland, finally flipping back to glorious lead punctuation. generous melt from THE WHEEL back into PLAYING before always-aching CHINA DOLL. weir watch, cont.: still upping the absurdist stakes on the maximalist SATISFACTION encores, this one trying to lead a singalong with a bemused garcia.

5/12/81 new haven: 1st set finds a mellow-but-not-sleepy pace, largely by giving garcia some room to garcia on mid-set CASSIDY. set-closing CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER feels extra spritely, the dyna-rhodes at its warmest & most percussive. 13-minute SHAKEDOWN STREET set opener finds easy neon lope & then weir again plops a sleepy-not-mellow tune right near set’s start, in this case LOOKS LIKE RAIN. slightly more charged than usual because of the placement, but still. i love SHIP OF FOOLS, but it doesn’t help. 61-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT. weir dedicates HE’S GONE to bob marley, adding (before encore) “marley was a powerful poet & a gentle revolutionary & he’ll last a long, long time.” extended HE’S GONE vocal outro. jam meanders until drummers take charge for chaotic bl00z-rockin, almost a TRUCKIN’ prelude. guitarists shred out of DRUMZ at full metal bluster but thin to nothingness, getting nicely zapped en route to THE OTHER ONE.

5/13/81 providence: i guess this mydland blues-scatting is really gonna be a thing, huh? after droopy start to show, totally winning set-closing combo of a bright watercolor-flickering BIRD SONG, fast-but-not-jittery runs on LET IT GROW & boogie cascades of DEAL. whatever jamming spark returned on long island is gone again. TERRAPIN STATION whispers into LOST SAILOR > SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE before 36-minute DRUMZ > SPACE > IKO IKO > I NEED A MIRACLE > STELLA BLUE. MIRACLE & IKO are rare, i guess? probably way fun.

5/15/81 piscataway: lovely garcia flows in 19-minute MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP > FRANKLIN’S TOWER opener, always a sweet double-garcia treat. they’ll keep playing the combo on/off through ’87, but this ends the 2+ years in which it was a dependable occurrence. during LOOKS LIKE RAIN, a lightning storm is visible through the gym’s skylight, with big cheers on the audience tape & lots of audience memories (good version, too). the storm gets intense again during FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN in the 2nd set. the dead played different shows every night, but they did sometimes accidentally repeat setlists. opening with SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN, this 2nd set is exactly the same as 9/26/80, though i would’ve thought it happened more often. 54-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > BLACK PETER. long weir vocal outro to ESTIMATED, edging towards freestyle, & tonight quoting GET UP STAND UP as a tribute to the recently passed bob marley. unusual developments in EYES: garcia again starts with the rewritten riff/groove played during last 2 versions, now clearly deliberate. it causes some confusion, but mydland picks it up again & gives the song new feel, which mostly disappears as jam starts.

5/16/81 ithaca: last of 3 visits to @cornell’s barton hall, site of the legendary may ’77 psyop. 1st set has a lumpy flow, getting brighter with BROWN EYED WOMEN, PASSENGER, & a quiet, extraordinary HIGH TIME with aching & present garcia vocals. LET IT GROW provides the late set fireworks with jagged guitar peaks. 16-minute 2nd set opening SHAKEDOWN STREET shimmies in slow motion around clav-like dyna-rhodes. unless i’m missing a version, 1st with vocal reprise ending since the end of the godchaux era in early ’79. comes to clean stop before garcia slashes into a hyperspeed BERTHA. does anybody have a good term for when there’s a bogus but believable-looking segue noted in the deadbase/standard setlist but no musical transition of any kind? because it could apply to virtually every show of this tour. following SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE, band comes to a full stop & garcia launches (& band hops on quickly to) a thread that turns into 52-minute SPANISH JAM > DRUMZ > SPACE > TRUCKIN’ > STELLA BLUE > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD > ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT. after adjacent jamming earlier in may, the SPANISH JAM is (to my ears) the 1st unambiguous version since ’76 with the full marching rhythm & bolero progression. less crazy than nassau, but patient improv that moves towards/away from a theme & abstracts into cubism. SPACE floats on guitar/handdrum cloud that dissipates before a TRUCKIN’ wends into a NOBODY’S FAULT BUT MINE jam. weir finds a descending pattern that would sound cool if he wasn’t playing slide & not quite hitting all the notes. predictable saturday night ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT is in my preferred spot coming out of the graceful BID YOU GOODNIGHT instrumental at the end of GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD. i associate it with “hundred year hall” from ’72. a regular move through the mid-‘80s.

5/17/81 syracuse: 1st set perks up especially with closing CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER, bouncing on dyna-rhodes & giving it a “modern” feel. as a piece of music written in the ‘60s, such a strange artifact in an arena in 1981. another fairly skimpy night for jams. hour-long ESTIMATED PROPHET > HE’S GONE > THE OTHER ONE > DRUMZ > SPACE > SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE > WHARF RAT. weir goes screamo during ESTIMATED outro, jam flares briefly before conversational descent. HE’S GONE fakes towards TRUCKIN’ before a shorthand 5-minute OTHER ONE. weir starts singing while garcia is still mid-phrase. super-abrupt segue out of deep SPACE into SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE, can’t even hear anybody count off. weir gets his SATISFACTION singalong going, empties the scream tank, & works on his ad-libbing. “you’re gonna burn & you’re gonna twist & you’re gonna turn.” i miss the big dumb drum breaks.

5/22/81 warfield theater: 5/6 of the grateful dead play acoustic at the warfield in san francisco, a nuclear disarmament benefit. after 18 acoustic dead-ish sets in the bay area over the previous 7 months, the last for 13 years. spiel from wavy gravy trying to recruit heads into the movement, “there are all kinds of weird affinity groups… there could be a grateful dead affinity group!… the heat wouldn’t know what hit them!” solid intro: “captain JerryBobKreutzHart!” minus phil lesh, the acoustic dead with john kahn on upright bass, hitting many of the usual sweet spots. 1st acoustic FRIEND OF THE DEVIL since 1970, now slowed down just like electric. funny that it didn’t come out earlier. too obvious? “this is our heavy metal song,” says weir, introducing MONKEY & THE ENGINEER. especially sleepy (in a nice way) OH BABE IT AIN’T NO LIE. garcia’s singing so quietly that it’s impossible not to also tune into the ambient audience chatter when listening. with a few months of electric versions, BIRD SONG soars, but decisively ends. more boggling segues listed on the setlist, but a & fun transition from a fairly static 8-minute hand-DRUMZ into buddy holly’s OH BOY. wavy signs off at the end of the night.

7/2/81 houston: where season 2 of “freaks & geeks” would have begun & lindsay would’ve freaked.  both JACK-A-ROE & DIRE WOLF approach ludicrous speed, far faster than their last versions on the spring tour. JACK-A ROE’s been speeding up slowly for years, like EYES OF THE WORLD, from around 108 bpm when it was debuted, now up around 130. weir watch: in the 1st set, droppin’ f-bombs in the outro to SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE for the 1st time. w0000! in the 2nd, the debut of norman span’s MAN SMART (WOMAN SMARTER). the ’80s have now begun for real. less cheesy to my ears pre-synth, anyway. MAN SMART (WOMAN SMARTER) was a hit for harry belafonte but has cool origins in the 1930s trinidadian calypso tent scene. its original artist went by 2 pretty awesome names, king radio & one-eyed norman span. 63-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE WHEEL > TRUCKIN’ > BLACK PETER. no trace of the fun rewritten EYES groove from the spring tour, but a slight change of energy as the song starts, as if they’re forgetting to do something. almost all the songs find peaks just before their segues, bright spots where garcia hits the accelerator & song turns subtle corner, big energy moments in ESTIMATED & EYES & a TRUCKIN’ epilogue that splits the difference between abstract & allmans-y.

7/4/81 austin: JACK STRAW opens with its “leavin’ texas, 4th day of july” lyric, but weir tries to pep it up to “T for texas, 4th day of july” & ends up confusing himself into singing his line from NEW MINGLEWOOD BLUES instead. nice l’il PEGGY-O & sunbaked LOSER. BIRD SONG makes a rare 2nd set appearance, a guided 11-minute ramble, somewhat static on the surface but all rippling conversation(s), everybody dancing around for the whole jam, except when mydland tries to end it early like a narc. 49-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > WHARF RAT. as PLAYING jam expands, weir moves to some shrill slide with garcia playing subtly behind him before garcia exits early for a weir/mydland-led jam that makes some left turns. dig garcia’s licks under the last verse of NOT FADE AWAY & authoritative outro. weir watch: after fumbling the JACK STRAW, he does better with ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT, turning it for much of the song into ONE MORE FOURTH OF JULY & getting plenty of cheers.

7/5/81 oklahoma city: slow-rolling SHAKEDOWN STREET opener turns corner & suddenly they’re playing something thrillingly close to the descending weir/lesh jam from the spring ’71 versions of HARD TO HANDLE. liquid garcia solos, but lots of dropped lyrics through set. only inside jams tonight, including 1st set LET IT GROW & rare 2nd set MUSIC NEVER STOPPED, which doesn’t go anywhere particularly new but manages to finds its way there in a slightly more relaxed manner than usual. improv dearth. 45-minute HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE OTHER ONE > STELLA BLUE. HE’S GONE stretches by way of vocals, wisp of half-hearted flame-fanning before DRUMZ. OTHER ONE kicks up SPACE dust but opens no portal. subtle delay on STELLA BLUE solo.

7/7/81 kansas city, mo: unchill BERTHA lands in DANCING IN THE STREET, 1st since 12/79 & last ’til ’84 revival, the final disco/funk version. pretty ugly ’til the jam, which goes to cool places, garcia picking with icy tone as band swirls into wildness around him. notes weir after DANCING, “we thought we’d take the opportunity once again to prove that our memories are better than we have any right to expect them to be but still not that good.” sloppiness abounds in kansas city, but nice moments. assertive dyna-rhodes drives BIRD SONG jam, sparkling garcia/mydland conversation. LOOKS LIKE RAIN finds a little swing, like they could just go off & jam, but stay inside the lines, the mood carrying over to joyous DEAL set closer. 1st MAN SMART (WOMAN SMARTER) opener, which sounds better to my ears in the dyna-rhodes era, though just as indistinguishable from IKO IKO as it would be in the hawaiian shirt years. 58-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > TRUCKIN’ > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD > BLACK PETER. amid the yelps, ESTIMATED swirls evenly into enjoyable but super-fast EYES, together enough that the pulse almost feels disco-like. not much happening in SPACE (weir might be blowing his whistle ambiently into the mic?). GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD is especially cookin’, though slightly lurching double-weir set landing. #

7/8/81 st. louis: one of the more piercing LITTLE RED ROOSTER “slide” solos by weir. series of increasingly loud cherry bombs during DON’T EASE ME IN. solid 20-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN with atmospheric co-leads by weir contributing to fireworks. weir watch: during the increasingly extemporized SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE vocal outro, i think he just rhymed something with “chevrolet.” not bad, i guess? 42-minute FRANKLIN’S TOWER > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > WHARF RAT. after a long FRANKLIN’S wind-down, the drummers exit before another few minutes of mostly restless jamming, finding a little more movement when rejoined by hand DRUMZ. a little bit of cool thunder juggling in the NOT FADE AWAY prelude & some tasty light-footing in the epilogue that makes a graceful landing into WHARF RAT. SUGAR MAGNOLIA set closer feels a little rushed/overblown, its swing pretty much gone.

7/10/81 st. paul: semi-ragged performance, but inspired playing. kinda rare SUGAREE digs into several peaks, as does LET IT GROW, which comes close to spinning out. mydland hits a big, loud, new faux-accordion tone during MEXICALI BLUES. @otdispace, what’s that sound? thoroughly fun 61-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > PLAYING IN THE BAND > CHINA DOLL > UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > PLAYING IN THE BAND, each piece achieving a cool jam place, starting with bright ESTIMATED climbs. oh hey, garcia’s alternate groove for EYES OF THE WORLD from the spring is back (see 5/9, 5/15), though mydland’s no longer doubling the part. slowed down from 7/7 version but still bouncing & fast, emerging into fully engaged new space for a few minutes pre-DRUMZ. a fury of hand-DRUMZ during SPACE noodles into a rare self-contained (& condensed) late-show suite, the frame drum leaking into UNCLE JOHN’S intro. the jamming is purposeful & the segues are mostly on-point. strong CHINA DOLL vocal, could use more solo! after bringing PLAYING (& the whole hour-long jam sequence) to a graceful landing & perfect show closing, weir tacks on the AROUND & AROUND/GOOD LOVIN’ medley. shrug emoji.

7/11/81 east troy: nice 1st set places in PEGGY-O & BIRD SONG, 11 minutes & alight with flickering colors & fluttering garcia. dunno who’s throwing the harmonic curveballs in the CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER jam, maybe phil, but a nice burst at the transition. 75-minute HE’S GONE > TRUCKIN’ > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE OTHER ONE > STELLA BLUE > I NEED A MIRACLE > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD > ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT twists & turns but unwinds only a little. HE’S GONE takes the slow path down via the vocal outro, but TRUCKIN’ rolls into a confident the-1-is-where-you-think-it-is jam that gets into charming conversation over rhythmic blur. i think lesh is playing during the slow-motion SPACE conversation, a bit of rarity, thoughtful & somewhat minimalist until it coalesces into a throughly overblown & screamed-out OTHER ONE. STELLA BLUE solo spirals up & lands beautifully, both a clean ending & musical bridge to MIRACLE. garcia’s move into GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD isn’t quite as smooth, but he does try to make a little bridge, which sounds like doing math on the fly.

7/13/81 denver: lots of speedy tempos. JACK-A-ROE is especially breakneck. must be the altitude. LOOKS LIKE RAIN is a bit clicked up, also, becoming even more obvious when garcia stomps the fuzz pedal & the drummers hop on for big finale. DEAL, too. 18-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN is likewise hopped up, garcia maybe seeming to get a little lost in the transition, returning to SCARLET theme/ending before conversational guitar/drums peak. 48-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > TERRAPIN STATION > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > BLACK PETER. even the usually chill ESTIMATED is faster than usual, though an uncommonly graceful landing into TERRAPIN. garcia scrambles many TERRAPIN lyrics (including the appropriate “inspiration, sue me brightly”) but unfolds the fade into a little jam that re-coagulates into a brief, satisfying coda. no SPACE, but band charges into NOT FADE AWAY at full force from an unusual angle. weir watch: vocal extemporizing now in NOT FADE AWAY, too, using vocal outro to bring it to a quiet ending adds hendrix-style “i’m gonna gitcha” a few times in SUNSHINE DAYDREAM, screams approaching bobcat goldthwaitian levels. goes off in SATISFACTION too!

7/14/81 denver: bit of a rough night but lovely mini-storms in 11-minute BIRD SONG, finding into some jam tension & suggesting other skies, the drums almost disappearing near the end of the jam & seeming to escape. big bass bombs during SHAKEDOWN STREET, with long vocal denouement, garcia doubling his singing on guitar before opening into jam that reaches quiet conversational place. 52-minute TRUCKIN’ > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT > I NEED A MIRACLE > GOOD LOVIN’. briefly triumphant TRUCKIN’ emerges into solo garcia-ness & lands in a variation of the new EYES groove. not much new, but taking its time. last moments of OTHER ONE spiral into another almost-solo garcia zone with the return of ambiguous DARK STAR-like bursts in the brief moment before WHARF RAT. great build into MIRACLE (mostly MIA on tape), but all kindsa sloppiness from there out.

8/12/81 salt lake city: the metronomic, disconnected double-drumming slides over into garcia territory now, too, with hyper JACK-A-ROE that feels so rhythmically close to the preceding MEXICALI BLUES that weir even inserts MEXICALI phrases throughout. 1st MIGHT AS WELL since 2/79 opens 2nd set, played next 4 of 5 shows. along with MORNING DEW, played later in the set, apparently rehearsed at front street the week before, according to @InstituteJerry. 24-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN takes a second to catch as they start. jam engages in deep quest mode with garcia chasing some very mellow lines & variations during the transition. 57-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > SPANISH JAM > TRUCKIN’ > MORNING DEW. the hopped-up ’81 EYES re-groove returns, sounding confident on garcia’s part. mydland sticks around & jams with drummers. after thick SPACE noise, SPANISH JAM gets its own ’81 re-arrangement following its spring return, with weir fancying up the chords a little, sounding a bit like an interlude from LET IT GROW. cool development, landing in marching band/circus intro to TRUCKIN’. MORNING DEW makes its 1st appearance of the year, powerful as always, garcia’s solo floating in a quiet & ruminative place until just before ascending to its big peak. most bands would exit the stage at this point.

8/14/81 seattle: rare but welcome electric & bouncing ON THE ROAD AGAIN, 1st since autumn. 14-beat BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE intro. a super-fast BROWN EYED WOMEN, even speedier than its ’71 debut, setting the tone for one of the speediest sets yet. nearly every song in the 2nd set establishes its tempo by toon town rules, especially the bouncing-off-the-walls BERTHA > THE PROMISED LAND combo opener. right in the middle, comically, one of the slowest SHIP OF FOOLS ever. 64-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER > PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > PLAYING IN THE BAND > WHARF RAT > I NEED A MIRACLE > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD > JOHNNY B. GOODE. PLAYING jam feels a bit perfunctory, garcia firing up CHINA CAT as it loses momentum. after RIDER, weir signals with MAIN TEN riff & the band reverts to deep PLAYING space, mydland subtly picking up lead from garcia. out of reprise, impressive acceleration into MIRACLE. encore is 1st IT’S ALL OVER NOW, BABY BLUE since 2/74, with at least one soundcheck over the previous new year’s run. sounding quite together & quite sweet, it becomes a high rotation encore for virtually the rest of the dead’s career.

8/15/81 portland, OR: somewhat scant-feeling 1st set capped by a raging 10-minute LET IT GROW. shorter than most played in the year to date, but also seeming to get further out, tapping into deep cosmic reserve as it peaks. 41-minute TERRAPIN STATION > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > BLACK PETER. TERRAPIN trickles smoothly into a properly mystical 6-minute coda jam that picks up speed & density as garcia darts, staying coherent through elegant dissolution.

8/16/81 eugene: short 1st set with garcia in fine voice (for ’81), the garcia/hunter tunes feeling especially emphatic. brief feeling 18-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN with fun half-speed FIRE soloing by garcia. 61-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE OTHER ONE > STELLA BLUE > AROUND & AROUND > GOOD LOVIN’ featuring a prankster invasion by kens kesey & babbs & the thunder machine. garcia’s not playing his signature guitar lick during the beginning of ESTIMATED & the song feels kinda empty. weir leans in hard to the “na na na”s in the vocal outro, just waiting for some dubby efx. EYES is as fast as it ever gets, 140+ bpm. self-correcting here, but i think it’s actually weir who’s been leading the new groove/riff, sometimes with harmonies from garcia and/or mydland, in full effect here. once again, garcia splits early & mydland leads for a coda jam. ken babbs MCs the DRUMZ chaoz, building up a nice cloud of noise with scatting/freaking/babbling/horn-blowing plus bangage from the thunder machine, an instrument/sculpture by the late ron boise.

8/27/81 long beach: 11-minute BIRD SONG sounds noncommittal at jam’s start but casually floats until it falls upwards towards big peak that seems ready to fling the band into space. enjoy the woman in the audience singing along with the final chorus. 1st CUMBERLAND BLUES since 10/74, good double-drummer energy, now sounding similar to BIG RIVER’s default C&W groove. a very welcome return to the band’s repertoire, staying there through ’95. appreciate garcia bringing back old tunes while in a long songwriting dry spell. 23-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN. some fun dual garcia/weir leads during FIRE. 49-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > BLACK PETER. according to a newspaper review, flora purim & mike hinton & possibly other members of the rhythm devils join for the DRUMZ segment. only a distant audience tape, but it does sound like there’s some vocalization & extra percussion happening. NOT FADE AWAY gets down into gorgeous quiet space adjacent to far-out jam doorways, which is the moment weir chooses to start his long vocal outro, building up to screaminess.

8/28/81 long beach: BROWN-EYED WOMEN returns to normal tempo, thankfully. not much new to report but solid garciaing in set-closing LET IT GROW & CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER combo. plus-sized & extra-floating 16-minute SHAKEDOWN STREET with some fun 2-guitar leads. 62-minute THE WHEEL > GOOD TIME BLUES > DRUMZ > SPACE > SPANISH JAM > TRUCKIN’ > WHARF RAT. extremely rare WHEEL in a pre-DRUMZ jam slot, patiently developing & burrowing deeper. debut of brent mydland’s GOOD TIME BLUES (aka NEVER TRUST A WOMAN), overblown half-written blues-rock misogyny i probably haven’t heard in 20 years & which hasn’t grown on me in the intervening time. drops into a cool, chaotic (& unrelated) garcia/drummers jam coda, though. debut of brent mydland’s GOOD TIME BLUES (aka NEVER TRUST A WOMAN), a blues-rocker i found misogynistic & bland when i last heard it ~20 years ago & which hasn’t grown on me. drops into a cool, chaotic (& unrelated) garcia/drummers jam coda, though. impressive post-SPACE with SPANISH JAM emerging gradually, played with confidence & drama & slight OTHER ONE-shaped burp before TRUCKIN’. even TRUCKIN’ gets question-marky before assured WHARF RAT.

8/30/81 tempe: now rare-ish MISSISSIPPI HALF STEP > FRANKLIN’S TOWER opener. CUMBERLAND BLUES missing a little bit without giant lesh bass sound, but everybody else just falling into place like it’s 1971. purposeful SHIP OF FOOLS justifying its big 2nd set placement. 62-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE OTHER ONE > STELLA BLUE. some openness as ESTIMATED dissolves, HE’S GONE heads right for vague OTHER ONE prelude. full-force SPACE with all in, congealing inside for much of THE OTHER ONE, the big far-outness now relegated to the zone following the 2nd verse. weir watch: “everybody slam dance!” he says during set-closing GOOD LOVIN’, pretty early word usage, i think.

8/31/81 las vegas: “ladies & gentlemen, boys & girls, the circus is in town,” weir announces before opener. can’t say if garcia pulls out the gambling songs cuz it’s vegas, but good CANDYMAN & LOSER & extra-sharp set-closing DEAL, preceded by crackling LET IT GROW. 25-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN feels leisurely, with nice nearly drumless valley of garcia soloing over mydland B3 padding just before an equally leisurely transition. 50-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > GOOD TIME BLUES > MORNING DEW > PLAYING IN THE BAND, garcia & mydland getting into intricate conversation during PLAYING. ominous SPACE clonks & soars before dipping into blooz-land, an odd late-jam flavor, before a MORNING DEW whose closing solo provides a fine combination fireworks display & synchronized mind-melt.

9/11/81 greek theatre: in front of resplendent @courtenaytiedye, the grateful dead find their new outdoor home at @GreekBerkeley, their 1st shows there since the ‘60s. night 1 starts at 7pm, night 2 at 5, night 3 at 3. the beginning of the dead’s dalliance with joan baez, then canoodling with mickey hart. before the 1st set, she leads a taped happy birthday singalong for mickey’s 38th & keeps singing after the song has ended in the most joan baez way possible. excellent 15-minute FRANKLIN’S TOWER floats through the colors, mydland’s dyna-rhodes sounding especially kaleidoscopic. an almost imperceptible rearrangement to MAN SMART, WOMAN SMARTER’s introduction so it doesn’t sound just exactly like IKO IKO. 62-minute HE’S GONE > TRUCKIN’ > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE OTHER ONE > MORNING DEW. mostly just blooz jams in the 1st half, highlighted by a proper DEW, full & dramatic with tender vocals, powerful quiet, soaring solos & full band dynamics. great audience tape! a brouhaha in berkeley?! the hills above the @GreekBerkeley are closed off during the 9/81 shows, citing deadheads & fire threats, the consequences of the new year’s campouts in oakland. maybe the 1st instance of asking heads not to show up without tickets?

9/12/81 greek theatre: hearty 1st set includes gently funky SHAKEDOWN STREET opener & CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER closer, but super-thrills come with soulful, faith-affirming BIRD SONG jam & screaming CASSIDY. 25-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN in which to get lost amid previously untapped squigglies & mini-fields of guitar grids. fun 68-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > WHARF RAT > AROUND & AROUND > ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT. EYES drops at nice medium tempo, slower than recent hyper takes, & even develops an actual jam with garcia & drummers spinning outwards. drums fold back & drop out gradually with nearly full space-out. percussion-only entrance to DRUMZ, a move they haven’t done in a minute. weir even has his late-set transitions pretty tight, especially the segue into ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT, an actual original song to end a set, how about that? lesh is MIA before rare double encore so weir has crowd call for him in unison.

9/13/81 greek theatre: a lot of vocal iffiness from garcia in both sets, but aching & masterful TO LAY ME DOWN solo. lots of sunday boogie between PASSENGER & LET IT GROW & MIGHT AS WELL. 49-minute TERRAPIN STATION > GOOD TIME BLUES > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE WHEEL > I NEED A MIRACLE. one of the more scrambled versions of TERRAPIN, with either garcia or lesh or both apparently headed backstage before mydland starts his new tune. supposedly, a biker onstage revving his engine during DRUMZ, but i don’t hear any. definitely a drifting sunday sunset beam segment with hart that drifts through SPACE.

9/25/81 bethlehem: garcia in a mellow mood in 1st set, with gentle PEGGY-O & 10-minute BIRD SONG. the drums going almost free except occasional shuffle pulse, weir slicing at weird shapes, sewn into gorgeousness by garcia noodles, a perfectly ‘80s jam space. show gets cookin’ with punchy CUMBERLAND BLUES, typically roaring PASSENGER, & cresting MUSIC NEVER STOPPED. from there, clicking into party mode. 21-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN is slim, with needlepoint peak. almost no jam sequence, 31-minute LOST SAILOR > SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE WHEEL, with SAINT only connecting by the flimsiest 75-second tendril of solo garciaing. set closes with SUGAR MAGNOLIA > BLACK PETER > AROUND & AROUND > SUNSHINE DAYDREAM that leaves me wondering if garcia just forgot that SUNSHINE DAYDREAM was supposed to happen the 1st time.

9/26/81 buffalo: a very period 1st set, opening with SHAKEDOWN STREET (enormous local cheers for “don’t tell me this town ain’t got no heart”) & featuring big LET IT GROW, plus exuberant electrified versions of 2 “reckoning” tunes, JACK-A-ROE & ON THE ROAD AGAIN. 2nd set moves a little awkwardly as band tries to shake it up, opening with 34-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > BERTHA > ESTIMATED PROPHET > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD. only PLAYING jams, but mostly purposeful segues until everybody drops thread after GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD. 30-minute DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > MORNING DEW > PLAYING IN THE BAND has a full space/noize intro, but maybe not quite proper SPACE, but that’s nit pickin’. properly soul-wrenching MORNING DEW that melts right back into MAIN TEN riff. weir watch: weir dedicates the JOHNNY B. GOODE encore to chuck berry for his birthday, though weir is several weeks early. when in libra season i guess?

9/27/81 landover: pretty thin-feeling 1st set. gorgeous watery-toned CANDYMAN solo & wounded vocals, sometimes in the beautiful way, sometimes not. all charges firing by SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE, though. quite fun 58-minute HE’S GONE > TRUCKIN’ > DRUMZ > SPACE > SPANISH JAM > WHARF RAT > I NEED A MIRACLE > GOOD LOVIN’ feels almost old school in structure (until the last 2 tunes), though execution is all ’81. TRUCKIN’ veers into OTHER ONE turf & the WHARF RAT transition is a breath away from DARK STAR, with a fragment of the melody maybe even passing through. adoring the dyna-rhodes SPANISH JAM detailing in this era. garcia feelin’ the IT’S ALL OVER NOW BABY BLUE encore. not that there was much competition for meaningful encore songs besides BROKEDOWN PALACE, but love when the encore slot is used for something non-frivolous.

9/30/81 edinburgh: the hairy americans do their thing, finally getting fired up a bit during LET IT GROW & a longer-than-usual FEEL LIKE A STRANGER 2nd set opener that slips into mydland/garcia jam territory. 54-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE OTHER ONE > STELLA BLUE, though a harsh tape cut as ESTIMATED starts to jam, with most of EYES missing, cutting back in during a nice chill tempo’d jam that seems it’s widened a bit. no other tape source. nice long road out of SPACE filled with moog comets & blurp whooshes & garcia noodles. mydland suggests chord changes but they land in the usual OTHER ONE groove, staying weird without straying too far, ambling into STELLA BLUE with big finale solo.

10/2/81 london: 1st set feels very warm-uppy & little tech glitchy. “anybody got a flashlight?” weir asks at one point. scattered energy during CUMBERLAND BLUES. don’t know if it’s an electrical hum or a synth, maybe the former, but deep moaning at the start of CASSIDY. band succeeds at shaking up some 2nd set formulae with 74-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > SHAKEDOWN STREET > BERTHA > DRUMZ > SPACE > SPANISH JAM > TRUCKIN’ > BLACK PETER, mostly works. (jerry almost cut his hair. and did.) PLAYING churns as normal, spacing out just long enough to hit the SHAKEDOWN STREET doom chord. a long & detailed version, with some loop-ready mydland keyboard grooves & taking a moody turn before vocal reprise, splicing to BERTHA from the last beat. BERTHA’s ending, in turn, hops with only a wee stagger into a PLAYING-ish noodle, a refreshing change, picking up where they left off. does it get labeled PLAYING IN THE BAND, JAM, PLAYING IN THE BAND JAM or nothing? is it just more BERTHA? do you (yes, you!) care? the SPANISH JAM doesn’t quite turn inward, dropping into a somewhat lurchin’ TRUCKIN’, which drizzles with uncharacteristic indecisiveness into BLACK PETER.

10/3/81 london: pretty empty when band takes stage, apparently, then things get more serious. 11-minute BIRD SONG with gorgeous, blurry jam. garcia finds nice turns in/out of CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER transition, playing (i think?) just behind the beat. FEEL LIKE A STRANGER doesn’t go long, but does feel like it opens up into question marks for a few minutes before swinging to proper end. 65-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > TERRAPIN STATION > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > MORNING DEW, a fave sequence of london heads. mydland takes charge during the TERRAPIN starlight jam. noisy synth SPACE makes for slightly circuitous route into NOT FADE AWAY. big MORNING DEW finale bends to the faster & shreddier side, but still grand.

10/4/81 london: weir mentions watching “the producers” on television the previous night, takes audience vote about whether “springtime for hitler” was in good taste. brief noisy & cool prelude jam to JACK STRAW. tape is slowed down, i think, putting LET IT GROW nearer to the old EYES OF THE WORLD tempo, woozy during the verses, relaxed during the jams. peaceful moment of near drumlessness during sing-song transition from SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN. bit disjointed ending to LOST SAILOR > SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE. sounds like garcia departs immediately & drumzers yell at weir to create some momentum while they switch to hand percussion for 43-minute JAM > DRUMZ > SPACE > SPANISH JAM > THE OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT.  jam sequence arrives without traveling, a methodical marching band SPANISH JAM acting as prelude to nearly inevitable drop into THE OTHER ONE.

10/6/81 london: show-opening SHAKEDOWN STREET slips into brief but very cool double-time jam with fleeting set of mini changes. in a rare flash of musical politeness, during CUMBERLAND BLUES, lesh even states the original distinctive bassline. 57-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE WHEEL takes its time beginning with joyful & slow ESTIMATED disassembly, the band moving towards EYES OF THE WORLD, but garcia keeps disassembling into HE’S GONE. big deep SPACE is often labeled BLUES FOR ALLAH JAM, edging on those themes, seemingly in memory of egyptian president anwar sadat, assassinated that day in cairo. fun synth bendys during THE WHEEL prelude, recalling (unintentionally?) pedal steel of the studio version.  SUGAR MAGNOLIA > STELLA BLUE > GOOD LOVIN’ closes, garcia pulling last SUGAR MAG thread until it’s STELLA BLUE’s intro. solo builds to full blaze, setting up *perfect* segue back into SUNSHINE DAYDREAM, but weir goes GOOD LOVIN’? garcia seems to react comically/noisily. instead, SUNSHINE DAYDREAM carries over to the encore for the 1st of only 2 times (thanks @InstituteJerry!), leading into BROKEDOWN PALACE, always a just exactly perfect goodnight, here back in the city where the lyrics were written.

10/8/81 copenhagen: not the fiercest of 1st sets, but garcia’s ALTHEA solo is huge & surfs with the band across a pair of sweet, extended peaks in set-closing MUSIC NEVER STOPPED. the show’s headline news is deeply jammed half-hour SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN. can’t tell who’s driving SCARLET into mysterious territory, but lots of great mydland B3, alternating between conversation & drone chords, a little sleepier as they move into FIRE. 72-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > TERRAPIN STATION > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > BLACK PETER > AROUND & AROUND > JOHNNY B. GOODE, 1st half of which is more exciting. garcia & weir push slim (& unfinished) PLAYING into the far-out before gentle dissolve.

10/10/81 bremen: opening SHAKEDOWN STREET sets tone for enjoyable night with lots of jam spaces, not always memorable, but fun enough. 13-minute BIRD SONG is jeweled as always, garcia reprising theme & bringing all down to a whisper before soaring across the nearest horizon. but most of the jamming isn’t nearly that delicate, including extra-raging 14-minute LET IT GROW with propulsive garcia & set-closing DEAL. rare 2nd set SUGAREE is 12 minutes, charged & dense with shred plateaus, but not-so-much with the quiet dynamics. 45-minute EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > TRUCKIN’ > THE OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT is almost all zippy. EYES skips along at just under 140bpm, one of the faster versions, with very little swing & virtually no outro jam. rephrasing of the groove is gone again, too. rare SPACE bass, mostly weir & lesh in tonight’s segment, building up a little bit of steam & setting up a good OTHER ONE drop, so naturally weir veers into the stop/start marching band intro to TRUCKIN’ instead. #deadfreaksunite [5/5]

10/11/81 amsterdam: on an off day between shows, @jerrygarcia & @bobweir play a surprise half-hour acoustic set at @melkweg in amsterdam. rock scully’s book “living with the dead” is one of the best written but least trustworthy dead memoirs. but rock was the tour manager & ringleader of the europe ’81 jaunt & is (perhaps) a reliable narrator about the one-off acoustic set in amsterdam. sounds like a heady day with some righteous poets. delicious & hazy fun at the @melkweg, playing through the acoustic ’80 repertoire recently released on “reckoning.” tape’s a bit fuzzed, but CASSIDY & BIRD SONG lose some dynamics without band but still a delight.

10/12/81 munich: 1st set is mostly hits from the europe ’72 songbook, played on their ’72 & ’74 trips through munich, now in their slightly more frayed europe ’81 form, feeling most alive during the CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER with fluttering garcia figures. 83-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD > GOOD TIME BLUES > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > STELLA BLUE > AROUND & AROUND > GOOD LOVIN’ is pretty full service ’81 dead, though. ESTIMATED takes its time, which is nice, but doesn’t unwind. GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD is extra-brisk, not ludicrously so, & garcia leans in for high energy shreds. no BID YOU GOODNIGHT ending, instead a cool coda jam. drumzers start up, but mydland interrupts with GOOD TIME BLUES. indecisive SPACE virtually defaults into NOT FADE AWAY. drawn out STELLA BLUE with committed garcia vocals & a lot of very quiet soloing until final spiral up to weir-land, which weir hiccups on the jump.

10/13/81 russelsheim: 10-minute BIRD SONG dances the line between free jams & flowing full-band action. mydland & the drummers get into some lovely dramatic tumbles & skitters under bright guitar solo skies. 67-minute LOST SAILOR > SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE > DRUMZ > SPACE > SPANISH JAM > THE WHEEL > SUGAR MAGNOLIA > BLACK PETER > SUNSHINE DAYDREAM has a few surprises. maybe the presence of a late set SPANISH JAM in ’81 indicates early set exploration? SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE shows signs of loosening midway through, ends semi-cleanly & hops smoothly into deep jam turf for a solid 7 minutes. a bit of bright garcia questing &, after he lands & exits, a mydland/drummers excursion. a fairly static SPACE of garcia void-tones, but the whole post-DRUMZ flow up into another delicious SPANISH JAM makes more sense on the audience tape, even though it has its own balance issues. weir watch: falsetto “danke” at the end of the set. i adore his big dumb encore versions of SATISFACTION but they’re so much less fun to me without the bigger dumber drum breaks.

10/15/81 amsterdam: at a hash bar in amsterdam, 1st of 2 “OOPS” shows on borrowed gear at @melkweg after gigs in france are cancelled. one of the few instances in which rock scully might be the most reliable narrator, from his fantastic but factually challenged book “living with the dead.” rock calls the 2 shows in amsterdam the dead’s “last adventure.” cool to hear the dead stripped of their their usual gear. not too different until 2nd set. i think mydland is on a regular rhodes, a nice change. 1st FAR FROM ME since previous summer & last ’til following summer. not too much happening, though. 55-minute HE’S GONE > SPOONFUL > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT > AROUND & AROUND > JOHNNY B. GOODE. weir debuts willie dixon’s SPOONFUL, a jam interrupter on/off through early ‘90s. SPACE is a perfectly noisy slide bass solo with a beer bottle neck, presumably heineken. OTHER ONE is fairly perfunctory. not an all-timer show except in vibes, but nice BABY BLUE encore to cap an incredible night for the heads who made it. #

10/16/81 amsterdam: crowd sings happy birthday to @bobweir before the band’s last ever acoustic set, depending if you count performances backing joan baez in 12/81 & garcia/weir/lesh/welnick as phil & friends in 1994. end of a lovely era, either way. might be the mix, but the dynamics seem a little off in the acoustic set, with unusually civil exchange in which drummers agree to tone it down. DIRE WOLF, not in rotation, feels rusty. last acoustic RACE IS ON, staple in both ’70/’80 acoustic sets. 9-minute BIRD SONG benefits from recent electric playing, more expansive-feeling than earlier acoustic versions, with unrushed jam & a few dense peaks. last acoustic version with garcia/weir/lesh until ’94. last dead versions of OH BABE IT AIN’T NO LIE, RIPPLE (save unrehearsed electric encore in ’88), & MONKEY IN THE ENGINEER (besides similarly unrehearsed electric version with dylan in ’89). electric set goes awry in delightful ways, opening with 29-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > HULLY GULLY > THE WHEEL > SAMSON & DELILAH. natural drop into only taped HULLY GULLY (maybe done by warlocks), almost dropping thread before powerful WHEEL with great roll into SAMSON. 19-minute GLORIA > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD. 1st GLORIA since ‘65ish crackles. 1st LOVELIGHT since pigpen’s death, lesh accidentally starting it, sung by weir. goofy fun, for now. speedy, unswinging GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD ignores quiet coda. both a real pause & conceptual segue back into 22-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > BLACK PETER > SUGAR MAGNOLIA finale, one of the few places where the dead sound like a bar band who happen to be covering the dead. rock scully bids you goodnight.

10/17/81 paris: show-opening 14-minute SHAKEDOWN STREET slides into deep bop seems to bode well for the show, though not much else happening during the 1st set. (also, hey buddy. portrait shot that day by christian rose.) not sure band is rejuvenated post-amsterdam, but set-opening 24-minute TRUCKIN’ > BIRD SONG > GOOD TIME BLUES keeps shaking things up. garcia’s TRUCKIN’ outro unspools naturally into rare 2nd set BIRD SONG. briefly glittering jam dissolves & reforms into mydland’s newest. 63-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > MORNING DEW > AROUND & AROUND > ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT is a bit rote but has some real peaks. ESTIMATED spirals extra-brightly, sailing back down to the rephrased ’81 EYES intro, landing at reasonable tempo, closer to ’73 mellowness, but no jam. SPACE develops into a briskly-changing not-exactly-SPANISH JAM. PARISIAN JAM? DEW is big & legit.

10/19/81 barcelona: 2 long jams in the 1st set, 14-minute FRANKLIN’S TOWER that’s somewhat static, & long-rolling 14-minute LET IT GROW that keeps on churning with dug-in garcia. TENNESSEE JED gets its only play in the city where hunter wrote the lyrics. 24-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN is a bit economy-sized, mostly on the FIRE end but doesn’t skimp on charged-up SCARLET jam with marching drums, busy B3, & climbing vine-like garcia lines. 48-minute LOST SAILOR > SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE > DRUMZ > SPACE > SPANISH JAM > THE OTHER ONE > STELLA BLUE. SAINT lands & garcia keeps noodling until joined by hand DRUMZ. appropriately for their only spanish gig, band coalesces from brief SPACE into only slightly less brief SPANISH JAM, preluding a somewhat casual OTHER ONE & sleepy STELLA BLUE. vibes weren’t so hot in barcelona. after this european tour closer phil lesh writes a stern letter to garcia & makes his bandmates sign it.

11/29/81 pittsburgh: winning opening combo of SHAKEDOWN STREET > GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD. band is creaky but SHAKEDOWN bops leisurely with needlepoint garcia. decent next-beat transition into GREATEST STORY with its own micro-jam & wah-wah love bullets. 59-minute HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > SPACE > TRUCKIN’ > BLACK PETER > SATISFACTION. after long HE’S GONE vocal wind-down, jam goes aloft, but as it does so either weir’s guitar zaps out or he’s getting back into feedback? hard to say. guess we’re in that era now? engaging 22-minute HE’S GONE, garcia purposefully chasing the horizon, drummers locked & floating along. eventually there’s a suggestive sketch of the MIND LEFT BODY theme, & a bright garcia melody that feels a breath from the FEELIN’ GROOVY jam before DRUMZ finally start. SPACE mostly just a patient/obvious build into rusty TRUCKIN’, clicking ever-briefly into an outro pocket for a minute, suggesting other faraway places, before garcia pulls rug. weir watch: SATISFACTION back to the good kind of dumb, weir leading a SATSIFACTION singalong, which gets through on the soundboard. “i can’t hear nothin’… you all sound like your satisfied or something.”

11/30/81 dayton: show is rough around the edges & sometimes in the middle, too. during tech break, weir sings a verse of MACK THE KNIFE. one of the drummers goes along with him, kind of a cool vibe. “we’ll work that up for next time,” weir says. they won’t. 1st set has both of the era’s big 1st set jams. 9-minute BIRD SONG gets to soaring & opens to cool garcia/weir/mydland conversation near end. 13-minute LET IT GROW surfs the big flows. weir watch: “we’re dealing with technical difficulties & so are you.” tech burps throughout the 1st set, including a really impressively 3-dimensional WHOOSH at start of LET IT GROW. 64-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT > SUGAR MAGNOLIA. ’81 EYES arrangement but mellower at 117bpm, closer to early ‘70s. floats with a nice feel & spotty vocals. nifty garcia descending pattern just before DRUMZ. SPACE moves from misterioso hand percussion & garcia duets into a paint-by-numbers OTHER ONE. WHARF RAT hits a wonderful flow for an extended moment before ramping up into SUGAR MAGNOLIA.

12/2/81 champaign: mydland tries synth in a few new places, padding on PEGGY-O before switching back to dyna-rhodes. after weir plays synth-like volume swells during intro to CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER, mydland moves over, back to rhodes at transition. 12-minute FRANKLIN’S TOWER is speedy & feels a little lacking in dynamics. 59-minute TERRAPIN STATION > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > STELLA BLUE > AROUND & AROUND > GOOD LOVIN’ was probably better than the average winter wednesday evening but doesn’t have much jamming. a not-much SPACE with seagull squawk slide guitars, though some good stereo-panned noise that could be synth/percussion/bird/monkey. last NOT FADE AWAY jam devolves & wakes into brief bright conversational flight.

12/3/81 madison: 1st electric DEEP ELEM BLUES since the spring, always bouncing fun. rare 1st set I NEED A MIRACLE (1st since 1/79) seems to give garcia an extra charge, running full speed towards BERTHA, a more real segue than usual, even if band slightly trails behind. 22-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN feels more meditative than explosive, a patient climb & glide. 67-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > SPACE > SPANISH JAM > TRUCKIN’ > BLACK PETER > AROUND & AROUND > JOHNNY B. GOODE. long HE’S GONE singalong, but only a bit of weir-led sludge-blues before DRUMZ. impressive burst of SPACE flatulence just before SPANISH JAM. TRUCKIN’ builds to noise peak that almost crashes, garcia flailing to thread to BLACK PETER. lit coda drops out to AROUND & AROUND. and for the encore, a confident IT’S ALL OVER NOW, BABY BLUE, featured on “postcards of the hanging,” a 2002 compilation of the dead covering bob dylan. big vocals, expressive solos.

12/5/81 indianapolis: lotta big energy in 1st set. the drummers prankishly hijack CC RIDER, shifting into double-time & causing supreme confusion, but it immediately becomes the 1st cool thing to happen to the song since weir debuted it. deep 1st set closing combo of 10-minute BIRD SONG, generous & patient with garcia/mydland weave & shifting dynamics that give real sense of movement, & 12-minute LET IT GROW that absolutely rips with multiple sub-jams & dense keys. 12-minute 2nd set opening SHAKEDOWN STREET rolls into bubbling conversational place, but jam inspiration doesn’t quite carry through the rest of the set. rare 2nd set BIG RAILROAD BLUES is good energy & only slightly longer-than-usual break. 53-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE WHEEL > PLAYING IN THE BAND > STELLA BLUE > SUGAR MAGNOLIA is fairly econo by dead standards. speedy PLAYING orbits a rich gravitational center but never slingshots into the outer places. some entertaining off-mic SPACE drumzing/chattering. long & patient build into THE WHEEL with teensy dab of synth flute (or maybe just dryly mixed B3) & nice dissolve that upshifts into a gradual PLAYING reprise.

12/6/81 rosemont: solid 11-minute SUGAREE with robust garcia shreds, but set only really finds its bounce with JACK-A-ROE & a friskily tempoed CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER closer. sleepier in middle, some especially lulzy synth farts in LOOKS LIKE RAIN. weir watch: “it’s sunday night & sunday night is family night down here at the horizon, so we’re gonna do a couple of family numbers now…” before famously family-friendly polka combo of EL PASO > MEXICALI BLUES. “everyone loves a polka.” 59-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > WHARF RAT > GOOD LOVIN’. EYES is played at ludicrous speed, around 140bpm, but one of the better & more legitimately smooth segues from ESTIMATED. doesn’t feel too splattered until outro jam. venue is next to o’hare airport & less-than-soundproofed, the sound of planes whooshing over, lesh making air traffic controller moves on stage. early in 2nd set weir notes, “everybody wave to the airplane as it goes over.” all of which could (also) factor into SPACE. eve of the 40th anniversary of pearl harbor &, during SPACE, hart twice intones “december 7th, 1941.” takes a moment to kick in, but jam turns visceral & synth-noisy. WHARF RAT delivers silver platter segue into AROUND & AROUND, so weir hits GOOD LOVIN’.

12/7/81 des moines: unusually, someone counts off into BERTHA & everybody (sort of) starts together. big energy, but a little jumbled (“dressed myself in green/ducked into a tree”). double-time already gone from CC RIDER. “st. paul, minnesota” gets a cheer on BIG RIVER. a few songs appear for the 1st time this tour, including really strong DIRE WOLF with super-present garcia, & rare-ish MUSIC NEVER STOPPED with good rainbow spirals. coherent & exuberant 2nd set filled with fun transitions & surprising jams: 72-minute MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP > FRANKLIN’S TOWER > LOST SAILOR > SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE > DRUMZ > SPACE > TRUCKIN’ > BLACK PETER > SUGAR MAGNOLIA. garcia finds a glorious inside-out/sing-songy HALF-STEP peak before a crisp landing jump to FRANKLIN’S. some splargled tempo shifts, but garcia weaves a very short actual transition into LOST SAILOR, with sustained tastiness over intro. drummers drop out from SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE ending, but everybody else keeps going, spiraling into conversational jam with lots of lead weir, building into new patterns & locking into themes. some report hints of SUPPLICATION, but i think it’s just the detailing. deep jams all over. great DRUMZ/SPACE flow with stereo-panned percussion & group chatter. exuberant TRUCKIN’ & a brief NOBODY’S FAULT jam (with some off-mic crosstalk) & brief spaced garcialogue lands them in a purposeful/crisp/dynamic BLACK PETER. they kinda stumble into SUGAR MAGNOLIA, but the thought is there & even that’s got a teeny bit extra somethin’. really great set at the end of not-specifically-too-good tour.

12/9/81 boulder: BIRD SONG drifts with lilting flows. CASSIDY edges further into high-speed jam territory, only by 30 seconds or so, but conversation seems thicker. weir almost misses his exit at the end. weir watch, part 1: new LOOKS LIKE RAIN move, “well it looks like rain, r-a-i-n,” deployed a few times. also swearing more. some nice & subtle weir delay tones, too, under garcia’s outro soloing. weir watch, part 2: adding vocal asides in I KNOW YOU RIDER. “”…could not take my rest” (weir: “did my best!”) “…take my rest” (weir: “you know the rest!”). announces set break in between lines of final vocal reprise. 19-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN, the SCARLET synth experiment set aside (for now) with mydland back to B3 & aggressively stirring up a chaotic cloud with garcia at the transition. weir hits a good almost-next-beat count-off into 61-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE OTHER ONE > STELLA BLUE > AROUND & AROUND > GOOD LOVIN’. garcia bails as soon as HE’S GONE jam starts. weir, mydland & drummers find pulse before winding down. long, sleepy SPACE void with brief stomps & bursts but only the sparest of happenings, eventually finding THE OTHER ONE. fuzzy garcialogue outro, almost audibly sorting out which ballad to play. some majestic guitar in STELLA BLUE. weir watch, part 3: promises “we’ll be back ‘cause we like it here,” but it will be their last show in boulder. daltreyesque stutters in GOOD LOVIN’, another attempt at crowd participation in SATISFACTION.

12/12/81 san mateo: the dance for disarmarment. after joan baez plays a solo set of her own, the dead join her & play the outline of their scrapped album recorded that month, which might be better misplaced. interestingly, like the dead, baez didn’t release a new album between ’79 & ’87. opens with baez’s ME & BOBBY McGEE, sung with weir, not the worst, but then come the topical tunes & one of the more awkward all-time dead sets. but it’s all fascinating, with occasional tasty garcia. the everly bros.’ BYE BYE LOVE is fun, too. somebody (*not me*) could do an entire podcast about this performance of CHILDREN OF THE ‘80s (which baez intros as the album-in-progress’s title song) & how it’s like her lost prototype of WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE & what references people cheer for & at what volume. my goodness, another conference paper could be done on LUCIFER’S EYES, which baez introduces as being about closeted in high school. “i have to explain it, but mickey doesn’t like this part…” still unreleased. she tries to shush the chatty crowd at one point to zero audible effect. by the time she gets to her beatles/lennon tribute, WHERE HAVE ALL THE HEROES GONE, heads seems checked out. barely a peep for “drop some acid, meet the queen.” the less blunt MARRIOTT USA is sorta alright, as is hearing garcia solo/noodle on BARBARA ALLEN (hard to believe it’s the only time he did). mydland’s on grand piano for the only time. garcia splits before set-closing THE BOXER, though (contrary to reports) mydland stays. the dead’s electric set is all of 48 minutes with weird flow & a small spectrum of boogies, matthew kelly honkin’ harp on the 1st 2 & last 2 songs. garcia shreds pretty supreme on the DIRE WOLF & COLD RAIN & SNOW combo, though. garcia & mydland bail for the encore & baez does a seriously iffy IT’S ALL OVER NOW BABY BLUE, dropping verses. weir feeds her lines. when he tries to join outro chorus, she switches to improv. “sign the fucking petitions, baby blue.”

12/26/81 oakland auditorium arena: garcia revives BIG BOSS MAN, sung by pigpen ’66-’72, rightfully getting huge cheers, really fun. “want a little drink of water, you won’t let jerry stop,” he adapts from jimmy reed’s version, will drop the self-reference after ’85. BIRD SONG glides into beautiful starlight with the particular double-drummer dead quality of seeming like it’s going into double-time and half-time simultaneously, somehow both graceful & messy, then thinning with subtle drama into into less cluttered airspace. 12-minute LET IT GROW stretches with ruminative garcia & jazzy dyna-rhodes staking little places within/against the drummers’ relentless sizzle. scrambled vocals on 22-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN with mellow 1-note transition peak. 69-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > SPACE > TRUCKIN’ > BLACK PETER > AROUND & AROUND > ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT gets into memorable weirding zones. synth lead intro to HE’S GONE. long vocal outro & chunkily tumbling coda, ending with weir/drummers jam. DRUMZ dissipate, garcia noodles, drilling starts. “more nitrous,” a voice barks off-mic. weir announces, “and now the boys in the band would like to introduce a little story, ‘we call it a day at the dentist.’” drilling stops, deep scatter of synth bells, scrapes, washes. band emerges into a cool & energized jam in 11 that’s not THE ELEVEN, but the feel is almost there, just need to hit the chord changes. hangs around & stays cool for a nice moment but doesn’t develop too much before landing in the marching band intro to TRUCKIN’. decent BLACK PETER slides back into jam-land, garcia & mydland & drummers flipping back into conversation, sounding purposeful, but them weir pulls the rug out & faceplants the band into AROUND & AROUND.

12/27/81 oakland auditorium arena: dynamic garcia jams in SUGAREE over metronomic drumming. aw, last ever PASSENGER, by lesh & peter monk, sung by weir with donna, then brent. powerful here. nice soundboard mix, dyna-rhodes extra-sweet on FRIEND OF THE DEVIL & ALTHEA. weir watch: PSA at the end of the now-traditional sunday SAMSON & DELILAH, “watch out all you philistines.” 46-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE WHEEL > PLAYING IN THE BAND. weir watch, cont.: extemporaneous vocals over beginning of PLAYING jam. c’mon, man. deep conversations inside jazzy 2-drummer float that never totally veers. extended rhodes/garcia dialogue. long SPACE, garcia intersecting with glassy percussion & roto-toms over synth rumbles, thinning & thickening. hand-drum freak-out bubbles into THE WHEEL, drummers moving back to kits. nicely dramatic with sweet garcia licks & gentle drip back into PLAYING.

12/28/81 oakland auditorium arena: 1st set has some archetypal early ‘80s dead. band’s dynamic is a bit frayed on charging BERTHA opener, but garcia’s is absolutely lit. PEGGY-O a little bogged/metronomic, but garcia fully elegant. weir gets nice reverb on his guitar as 13-minute CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER starts, the band fully together for impactful transition. 58-minute EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE OTHER ONE > STELLA BLUE > AROUND & AROUND > GOOD LOVIN’. midtempo EYES, garcia’s guitar ducking a little behind mydland’s dyna-rhodes during jam, then bowing out entirely. chimes & bells from kreutzmann while hart drones on the beam as DRUMZ flows gorgeously into SPACE, staying zoned with flute & hand drum pocket. as so often in ‘81ish, THE OTHER ONE itself seems more like punctuation after the real jams in the long prelude. STELLA BLUE really hits tonight, though, garcia & band clicking together for dynamic & even purposeful performance.

12/30/81 oakland auditorium arena: a few rare-ish weir tunes in the 1st half, the electric ON THE ROAD AGAIN & closing LAZY LIGHTNIN’ > SUPPLICATION but set feels a little lurchy. healy dollops a little reverb on garcia’s voice for ALTHEA. between sets, joan baez plays a few songs by herself, joined by mickey for an arabic new year’s song, then the electric dead (besides mydland) for 3 more. all sounds better than the san mateo benefit. only one (distant) heckler audible on the audience tape. once again, hearing garcia gently noodle across BARBARA ALLEN is the highlight. she also hands a solo to weir, very equitable that joan baez. a nice acoustic/electric mix, which the dead didn’t really explore ’til ‘90s. brent skips baez’s mini set & goes to nearby bar, misses FEEL LIKE A STRANGER 2nd set opener. little thin, but the “minimal” garcia/weir conversations also have a comfortably spare feeling with unusually weirded peak. 47-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > BLACK PETER. weir starts into NOT FADE AWAY immediately out of DRUMZ but a drumzer wants a break & band reverts into SPACE before a sleepy NOT FADE AWAY.

12/31/81 oakland coliseum arena: bill graham’s 3-ring new year’s circus with the new riders, the flying karamazov bros., joan baez, ken kesey, & pals. unless i’m mistaken, new year’s ’81-’82 is the last time the new riders of the purple sage opened for the dead, the band that birthed them 11 years earlier, & possibly even their last show before nelson & cage split. joan baez plays solo & is then joined by the dead, minus mydland & kreutzmann, weir on acoustic. she enters singing a mash-up of LAND OF 1000 DANCES & PAUL & SILAS. fares better than the night before. with 2 shows under their belt, baez’s originals tightening up a little. even if it wasn’t the dead’s thing, they start to find convincingly dead-like spaces for LUCIFER’S EYES & CHILDREN OF THE ’80s. garcia adds nice bluegrass/gospel harmonies to only BANKS OF THE OHIO. 15-minute SHAKEDOWN STREET opener cooks in a mellow way. matt kelly joins on harmonica for blues honks on CC RIDER, NEW MINGLEWOOD BLUES, & garcia’s revived BIG BOSS MAN. baez sings on IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES, BEAT IT DOWN THE LINE, & DON’T EASE ME IN. during the set break, a prankster wedding backstage: jerry & mountain girl finally get hitched, officiated by the psychedelic buddhist monk named peter monk. not the most romantic circumstances, but life. before midnight, ken kesey dangles from ceiling in a harness & leads crowd in a gong bong, exercise in collective hyperventilation to get hiiiiigh. “an old fashioned ritual we haven’t done since the acid tests & i want you to be very careful,” keez says, while swinging. at midnight, bill graham rides a giant joint over the crowd, landing on stage, band hitting a boogiedown IKO IKO at midnight, the balloon drop lagging just behind, joan baez materializing in the chaos for kazoo-like vocalizing. and then one of the more righteously jammed new year’s sets: 86-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > TERRAPIN STATION > PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE OTHER ONE > NOT FADE AWAY > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD > MORNING DEW. PLAYING builds in intensity, thins, then keeps building, staying engaged without traveling too far. as jam dissolves, mydland very clearly plays the intro to DARK STAR as the drummers think it’s time to start drumzing, but garcia steers ship into TERRAPIN instead. TERRAPIN’s a bit rocky in places, jerry singing ultra-quietly, with no real middle jam, but weir flips band easily into jam mode, almost overtly the PLAYING reprise from his first notes, but could go anywhere, but politely loops up the PLAYING. another wide SPACE with xylophone/chimes & monster beam thwacks. “what kind of dentist office is this?” kreutzmann asks off-mic before things turn weirder. i think that’s synth percussion? drummers hang with garcia for a bit, before long garcia/weir OTHER ONE prelude. john cipollina joins for the THE OTHER ONE > NOT FADE AWAY > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD, trading friendly solos with garcia, nothing too blown out, all bopping with good energy. kind of a perfect new year’s choogle, with an A+ 100% absence of guest harmonica players. and then a 40-minute set 3 that opens with healthyish 15-minute standalone DARK STAR, 1st since 1/79 & mydland’s debut. they float & lean back into a BIRD SONG-like glide between verses, climbing to a lovely peak before long landing. also, maddeningly, the last ’til ’84. baez returns to duet with garcia on IT’S ALL OVER NOW, BABY BLUE. baez is a little distracting, but garcia’s performance is so focused it almost doesn’t matter. the baez era is over as fast as it started. graham invites people to stay for breakfast.

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