Jesse Jarnow

village theatre, 1965-1968 (fillmore east, pre-bill graham)

(Photo via Frank Mastropolo & John “Beedo” Dzubak of Kingdom Come)

Very much a work in progress!

Originally opened as the Commodore Theatre in 1925-1926, used for Yiddish vaudeville and movies, the auditorium at 105 Second Avenue in Manhattan was most famous as the Fillmore East, which Bill Graham operated from 1968 to 1971. But the room had multiple other lives as a music venue.

The bookings by a variety of promoters during the year before Bill Graham’s arrival are perhaps even more eclectic than what followed when Graham took over, perhaps the city’s greatest “lost” rock/jazz/poetry/political/folk venue. (And, after the Fillmore East, it had another checkered life as the New Fillmore East, aka the N.F.E. Theatre, aka the Village East, subject of a separate, much briefer chronology.)

Thanks immeasurably to the work Corry Arnold (of the mighty Lost Live Dead, Hootrollin, and Rock Prosopography) and Marc Skobac, and the It’s All the Streets You Crossed Not That Long Ago blog (who posted tons of great Village Theatre ads and ephemera for the initial research and inspiration, as well as the Independent Voices database.

Please post corrections, comments, memories, etc., or email me at link on the right.

March 28, 1964
Lenny Bruce

November 19, 1965
Donovan

Donovan’s New York debut, promoted by Harold Leventhal, longtime manager of Pete Seeger, The Weavers, and many others. Leventhal had also put on Bob Dylan’s first formal New York concert at Carnegie Chapter Hall in 1961.

November 24, 1965
Chuck Berry, The Blues Project, The Undercurrents

Chuck Berry was backed by Al Kooper and the Blues Project. Hosted by Jack Walker.

November 30, 1965
Lenny Bruce, Monto Santamaria & Co.

July 29, 1966
The Avant-Garde, presented by Joe Pinelli & Lovebeast Enterprises, MC: Alan Grant
Ornette Coleman Trio, Giuseppi Logan Quartet, Frank Smith Sextet

August 12, 1966
The Avant-Garde, presented by Joe Pinelli & Lovebeast Enterprises, MC: Alan Grant
John Coltrane Quintet, Marion Brown Quintet, Jeanne-Lee/Ran Blake Duo

August 26, 1966
The Avant-Garde, presented by Joe Pinelli & Lovebeast Enterprises, MC: Alan Grant
Archie Shepp Quartet, Albert Ayler Quintet, Frank Smith Sextet

Sepember 19, 1966
Mark Lane on JFK assassination.

September 20, 1966
Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner
Psychedelic art by Jackie Cassen and Rudi Stern

Billed as “a series of three psychedelic celebrations.”

September 27, 1966
Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner
Psychedelic art by Jackie Cassen and Rudi Stern

October 3, 1966
LeRoi Jones

October 4, 1966
Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner
Psychedelic art by Jackie Cassen and Rudi Stern

October 11, 1966
Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner
Psychedelic art by Jackie Cassen and Rudi Stern

October 18, 1966
Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner
Psychedelic art by Jackie Cassen and Rudi Stern

October 25, 1966
Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner
Psychedelic art by Jackie Cassen and Rudi Stern

November 1, 1966
Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner
Psychedelic art by Jackie Cassen and Rudi Stern

November 8, 1966
Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner
Psychedelic art by Jackie Cassen and Rudi Stern

November 15, 1966
Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner
Psychedelic art by Jackie Cassen and Rudi Stern

November 22, 1966
Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner
Psychedelic art by Jackie Cassen and Rudi Stern

November 29, 1966
Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner
Psychedelic art by Jackie Cassen and Rudi Stern

December 6, 1966
Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner
Psychedelic art by Jackie Cassen and Rudi Stern

Allen Ginsberg appeared at the December 6th performance.

December 22, 1966
Jazz concert, featuring Stokely Carmichael

December 26, 1966
John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman Trio

John Coltrane with Pharoah Sanders, Alice Coltrane, Jimmy Garrison, Rashied Ali, Sonny Johnson, Omar Ali, and Algie Bata. Many photos. Gig details.

January 29, 1967
Angry Arts Against the War in Vietnam: Broadway Dissents, featuring Alan Alda, Ruby Dee, John Henry Faulk, Jules Feiffer, Diana Sands, George Tabori

February 2, 1967
Angry Arts Against the War in Vietnam: Judson Chamber Ensemble, Bread and Puppet Theater

February 4, 1967
Angry Arts Against the War in Vietnam: Children’s program at 2 pm: Chalk Talk with Maurice Sendak, Eva Merriam (poetry), Yakim Mime Troupe, films, folksingers; The Last Word (at 8 pm): Jack Glick, Daniel Magrin, Cyrelle Ferman, Phil Corner

February 5, 1967
Angry Arts Against the War in the Vietnam (4pm): Art Farmer, Jimmy Heath, Jackie McLean, Burton Green and Vincent Gaeta, Clifford Thornton, Pharaoh Sanders, Jeremy Steig, Joel Freedman

Just Music?” report from the Village Voice by Michael Zwerin
Everybody’s Stepchild,” Michael Zwerein, continued

February 14, 1967
Sweethearts’ Day Poetry Reading featuring Allen Ginsberg, LeRoi Jones, Ishmael Reed, Peter Orlovsky, Allan Katzman, David Henderson, Lorenzo Thomas, Paul Blackburn, Joel Oppenheimer, Len Chandler, Ronald Stone, Denise Nichols, Hart LeRoi Bibbs, Tom Dent

February 17, 1967
Jonas Mekas and Film-Makers’ Distribution Center present Lenny Bruce (1965)

February 22, 1967
WBAI Benefit: Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton, Chad Mitchell Trio, Patrick Sky, Judy Collins

February 25-26, 1967
Albert Ayler Octet

Performances from February 26th were released on In Greenwich Village (Impulse, 1967) and The Village Concerts (ABC Impulse, 1978)

March 3, 1967
Lucas Hoving Dance Company

March 10, 1967
Pomare Dancers

March 12, 1967
Kay Boyle Tribute to the Rev. A.J. Muste: Daniel Berrigan, Dorothy Day, Dave Dellinger, W.H. Ferry, Fred Halstead, Alfred Hessler, Nat Hentoff, Arnold Johnson, Sidney Lens, Bradford Lyttle, David Miller, Bayrd Rustin, I.F. Stone, Marge Swann

March 13, 1967
Eleo Pomare
Subscription dance series for 10 Mondays presented by Eugene Dildine and the Village Theatre

March 17, 1967
Philadelphia Woodwind Quartet, Ornette Coleman Trio

March 20, 1967
Midi Garth (dance)

March 25, 1967
Nina Simone and Miriam Makeba, with Flip Wilson
presented by V. Steven Truett

March 27, 1967
Yukiro (dance)

April 3, 1967
Norman Walker (dance)

April 10, 1967
Paul Sanasardo (dance)

April 14, 1967
Angry Arts (afternoon and evening shows): Free Spirits, Judy Wieder, Robin Roberts, Barbara Dane, Blues Project, Dave Van Ronk, Penny Whistlers, Chad Mitchell Trio, Gene and Franceca, The Magicians, Children of Paradise, Izzy Young (M.C.)

April 17, 1967
Mariane Perra

April 22, 1967
Klay Folk Festival: Beers Family, followed by old-fashioned hootenanny
Presented by Berale Klay and Goya Guitars

April 27, 1967
Merle Marsicano (dance)

April 28, 1967
Chuck Berry
Presented by Psi Upsilon Fraternity

May 1, 1967
Lucas Hoving (dance)

May 2-4, 1967
Abolafia Presidential Love-In (aka Abolafia Cosmic Love-In, aka Cosmic Love Convention): possibly featuring Group Image, Eric Andersen, Alec Leonhardt, Allen Ginsberg, Timothy Leary, Richie Havens, Paul Krassner, Free Spirits, Children Of Paradise, Elaine White, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Described as a “72-Hour Freakathon for Hippies and Saints,” Louis Abolafia was a nudist/love candidate for President and early hippie advocate for the town of Woodstock. Memories from Abolafia’s brother. Associated Press photo.

May 8, 1967
Meredith Monk (dance and music)

May 12, 1967
Malvina Reynolds and the Pennywhistle Singers
Bernie Klay & Goya Guitars presents

May 13, 1967
An Evening With God by Renewal Magazine in Celebration of the Penetcost starring: The Rev. Malcolm Boyd, Dick Gregory, Paul Krassner, Dr. Timothy Leary, Len Chandler, Dr. Harvey Cox

May 15, 1967
Bhaskar (dance)

May 18, 1967
3-Penny Poetry Reading For Life Against the War in Vietnam: Andrei Voznesensky with Sam Abrams, David Antin, John Ashbery, Ted Berrigan, Gordon Bishop, Karl Bissinger, Robert David Cohen, Phillip Corner, Gregory Corso, Robert Creeley, Joe Early, Clayton Eshleman, The Fugs, Donald Gardner, Malcolm Goldstein, Jackson Maclow, Lewis Meyers, Joel Oppenheimer, Jerome Rothenberg, Joel Sloman, Gil Sorrentino

May 19, 1967
Peter Schumann’s Bread and Puppet Theater, The Pennywhistlers
Bernie Klay and Goya Guitars Presents

May 20, 1967
Tribute to Chaim Towber

May 27, 1967
Horace Silver Quintet, Morgana King, Ahmad Jamal Trio

June 3, 1967
Herbie Mann, billed as Impressions of the Middle East.

There was some kind of bazaar set up in the lobby. Herbie Mann’s 1967 album, The Wailing Dervishes, was recorded at this performance, featuring Rufus Harley, Reggie Workman, Bruno Carr, Moulay “Ali” Hafid, Chick Ganimian, Roy Ayers, Steve Knight, Esber Köprücü, Hachig T. Kazarian, Steve Knight, Oliver Collins, and James Glenn.

June 5, 1967
Ruth Currier Dance Troupe

June 11, 1967
WOR-FM 1st Anniversary Party (early & late shows): Blues Project, The Doors, Janias Ian, Chambers Brothers, Richie Havens, Jeremy and the Satyrs, plus Jim Lounsbury, Johnny Michaels, Scott Muni, Murray the “K”, Rosko

June 12, 1967
Charles Weidman Theater Dance Company

June ??, 1967
Trips To Wear (fashion show): Third Eye Band, Quintet Revolutionary

June 25, 1967
Songs For Synanon: Count Basie Band, Arthur Pryscock, Stan Getz Quintet

June 26, 1967
Tamara Woshakiwska, Charlotte Honda and Margot Parsons (dance)

June 28, 1967
Bread For Heads Festival: Mothers of Invention, The Fugs, Left Banke, Allen Ginsberg, Tim Buckley

July 8, 1967
Blues Project, The Who, Richie Havens, Chrysalis, Third World Raspberry (playing after)
Don Friedman Presents Explosion

Purportedly the final Blues Project show.

July 21-22, 1967
The Byrds, Vanilla Fudge, The Seeds (late only on 7/21, early & late on 7/22)
Don Friedman Presents Explosion (7/21 added later)

July 28, 1967
Janis Ian, The Grass Roots (early & late)
Don Friedman Presents Explosion

August 5, 1967
Janis Ian, The Association, Jake Holmes (early & late shows)
Don Friedman Presents Explosion

August ??, 1967
Luis Valdez’s Teatro Campesino

August 16, 1967
The Community Breast, A Benefit For The Community (sponsored by To Each All Things): Tiny Tim, The Fugs, Judy Collins, Richie Havens, Peter Walker
Proceeds to Diggers, Provos, and the Communications Company. Pearls Before Swine cancelled.)

August 21, 1967
Barry Gordon

August 24, 1967
Benefit for the Harlem Six and the black people of Dorchester County, S.C.: James Baldwin, Richie Havens, Ossie Davis, Dick Davy, Frank Mitchell Quintet, Bob and Joe

Billed as James Baldwin’s “first major address in 2 years.” Per the East Village Other, 8/24/67, “Baldwin will relate the unrest in America’s Negro ghettos to American foreign policy in a benefit performance tonight… Baldwin is returning to this country from a two-year writing tour in Europe and Istanbul. Co-sponsoring his appearence are the Charter Group for a Pledge of Conscience and the Dorchester Committee of New York City.

August 25, 1967
The Yardbirds, The Youngbloods, Jake Holmes
Don Friedman Presents Explosion

The night Jimmy Page learned “Dazed and Confused” by hearing Jake Holmes perform it.

August 26, 1967
New Stars in ’67 starring Henry Bell with Julie Janeiro, the Jacksonians, the Young Long Islanders, Samuel Avital, Burton Greene, Sandy Allyne, Martha Reynolds, Yvonne Warden, Mother Hive, Sampson Horten Orcehstra

September ??, 1967
Peace rally with H. Rap Brown & others

That New Black Magic! Keep It Violent,” Leticia Kent in the Village Voice.

September 2, 1967
Mitch Ryder, Vanilla Fudge, The Illusions

September 5, 1967
James Cotton Blues Band, New York Blood Sweat and Tears (billed as Al Kooper/Steve Katz), The Kingdom Come

September 6, 1967
The Glories, The Vibrations, Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs

September 8, 1967
Sri Swami Sivananda with Bob Fass, Dr. Joseph Gelberman

September 9, 1967
The Doors, The Vagrants, Tim Rose
Dynasty Presents

The Vagrants (from Queens) featured Leslie West, future co-founder of Mountain.

September 22, 1967
Dick Gregory, Charles Mingus, Andrew Hill

September 23, 1967
Cream, Canned Heat
(Moby Grape cancelled.)

They Play Blues, Not Superstar,” Richard Goldstein in Village Voice

September 30, 1967
Cream, Soul Survivors, Richie Havens

Cream only played early show.

October 7, 1967
Wilson Pickett, The Paupers, Eric Anderson

October 11, 1967
The Weekly Freakly

Announced as a weekly series in Billboard “featuring Lower East Side talent and top recording acts,” I’m going to assume it only happened a handful of times and vanished.

October 14, 1967
Sarah Vaughan and Arthur Prysock
V. Steven Truett presents…

October 15, 1967
October Breakout, MC: Bob Fass
3 pm: Richie Havens, Eric Anderson, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Paul Krassner, Archie Shepp Quartet, Jeremy and the Satyrs, Barbara Dane, Matt Jones
8 pm: Phil Ochs, Charles Mingus, Tim Rose, Moondog and Strings, Paul Krassner, Joe Frazier, Paul Knopf, Bill Fredricks, Elaine White
produced by Topic Magazine and United Jazz Workshops

October 18, 1967
The Weekly Freakly

October 20-21, 1967
Otis Redding and Carla Thomas (cancelled)

October 20-24, 1967
Festival of Changes, A Celebration of the New Destiny; The Sight & Sound of San Francisco Scene: New Salvation Army Banned, The C.I.A. (Center for Interplanetary Activity)
visual disorientation by Liquid Sandwich, Aurora Glory Alice

October 25, 1967
The Weekly Freakly

October 27-29, 1967
Donovan (cancelled)

October 28, 1967
Procol Harum

October 30, 1967
Half Note 10th Anniversary Show: Paul Anka, Carmen McRae, Cannonball Adderley Quintet, Bobby Hackett, Al Cohn (conductor), Alan Grant (M.C.)

October 31, 1967
Halloween Party

November 3, 1967
Yardbirds, Vanilla Fudge (early & late shows)

November 4-6, 1967
Jefferson Airplane (cancelled)

November ??, 1967
James Cotton Blues Band, Blood Sweat and Tears

November 7, 1967
Wilson Pickett, Martha and the Vandellas, James Cotton

November 10-11, 1967
The Doors (cancelled)

November 11, 1967
Moby Grape

November 12, 1967
The Buck Owens Show (4 pm & 8:30 pm): Buck Owens with the Buckaroos, Wynn Stewart, Tommy Collins, Rose Maddox
Bob Wyld and Art Polhemus Present

November 17-18, 1967
Electric Flag, Charles Lloyd (cancelled)

November 18, 1967
Charles Lloyd Quartet (early & late)

November 19, 1967
Cosmos presents: Moondog and Mimi Sym, Group Image & Lights, Aluminum Dream, Tiny Tim, Federal Duck, Charles O’Hegarty, Kingdom Come, Lee Crabtree, Grey Company, Pageant Company, plus underground film, Izzy Young (M.C.)

November 23-24, 1967
(early & late) Moby Grape, Druids of Stonehenge, Charles O’Hegarty, Kingdom Come

November 25-26, 1967
The Who, The Vagrants, Rich Kids
Gary Kurfirst Presents

Perhaps when The Who first met Vagrants/Mountain guitarist Leslie West, who would go on to play on the Who’s Next sessions. Promoter Gary Kurfirst would go on to manage Talking Heads, Blondie, The Ramones, and many others.

December 2, 1967
Mass Meeting, planning for Stop The Draft Week, December 4th-8th, organized by Fifth Avenue Vietnam Peace Parade Committee

December 26-27, 1967
Grateful Dead, Peggy Emerson, Take Five

It snowed through a hole in the ceiling. Complete program for the shows. Program features a track list and coupon for the forthcoming live album Take Five were recording that night, allegedly to be released soon on Constellation Records (of 322 E. 44th Street), but I can find no further evidence of this album, Take Five, or a New York company called Constellation Records. Anybody?

February 2, 1968 [moved to Anderson Theater]
Country Joe & the Fish, Jim Kweskin’s Jug Band, Soft White Underbelly

Soft White Underbelly was the prototype version of Blue Oyster Cult, who later used the closed-down Fillmore East/Village Theatre as a rehearsal space in 1975.

February 23-24, 1968
Pearls Before Swine

#deadfreaksunite 1979

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

#deadfreaksunite 1979
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.

1/5/79 philadelphia: the 1st of 2 consecutive fridays at the spectrum, making up cancelled gigs from november. 14-minute SUGAREE opens the year, lazy & getting lazier until garcia kicks into gear for final solo, & unfortunately weir & his slide follow suit. blazing fast MAMA TRIED/MEXICALI BLUES with liquid garcia leads, carrying into BROWN EYED WOMEN. weir watch: GOOD LOVIN’ rap expanding for the new year with references to other pigpen standards (TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT & MIDNIGHT HOUR) & getting both dorkier & tighter. i’m pretty sure there’s some deadhead in the foreground of this audience tape occasionally punctuating songs with tambourine. audible during IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES & a few other quiet places. 60 minutes of ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > TRUCKIN’ > NOBODY’S FAULT BUT MINE > BLACK PETER. long descent into hopped up & slightly metronomic EYES that loosens a bit beneath garcia’s guitar chatter. most of DRUMZ/SPACE MIA. garcia steers TRUCKIN’ confidently into the always-rare NOBODY’S FAULT, 1st since 10/77 (& last ’til ’81), a leftover from the very early days, with a microcosmic turnaround into BLACK PETER.

1/7/79 madison square garden: the grateful dead’s madison square garden debut, the 1st of 2 shows, rescheduled from november. shredding JACK STRAW. after electric & acoustic outings in november, JACK-A-ROE makes a welcome & uptempo return to rotation. garcia’s voice is scratchy, but he delivers it confidently along with colorful & panoramic guitar breaks. 2nd set opening I NEED A MIRACLE cracks into small but real jam, shuffling & swerving, pushed by garcia & keith, before quick fade entrance into 1st MSG version of SHAKEDOWN STREET, a song built for ‘70s NYC. big cheers for “don’t tell me this town ain’t got no heart…” 59-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > BLACK PETER. a natural-seeming upshift segue into a hyperspeed EYES bearing little rhythmic relation to its original incarnation but possessing elegant garcia curls in outro. finally, mickey’s balafon spills into SPACE, a flowing flow with garcia garciaing before weir finds an unusually voiced path into NOT FADE AWAY, balafon continuing under song, which maintains its strange colors & keeps peaking. in a few places, tape preserves the clattering popping sound of fireworks with a nostalgic analog warmth, before one remembers that people are setting off fireworks inside. during last songs, tape also captures the sound of the PA trying to eat itself.

1/8/79 madison square garden: no, seriously, at almost any point during this tape, audience members are clapping along. 19-minute MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP > FRANKLIN’S TOWER opener, with a big swell between, all filled with casually tidal garcia guitar. 21-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN to open set 2. donna vocalizes far into transition, which isn’t great, but garcia pulls out bold high-speed threads. deep & present FIRE vocals, but garcia’s scratched voice is flickering in/out like a radio station. briefly starlit, TERRAPIN STATION glides into 40-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT.  PLAYING stays in one place but is a total ripper. crowd excitedly claps in 4, nearly blurring out extra 2 beats as mickey’s marching snare driving jam. only a wisp of SPACE before a compact & quickly churning OTHER ONE. GOOD LOVIN’ is still goofy af, but might prefer it to AROUND & AROUND as a show closer, if only for the variety & energy. but why so many oldies, weir?

1/10/79 nassau coliseum: more than 3 hours of music, almost single-handedly accounted for by semi-rare ROW JIMMY. MUSIC NEVER STOPPED burns slightly hotter than usual, middle jam turning liquid, with palpable sense of garcia surfing the outro. 51-minute DARK STAR > DRUMZ > SPACE > WHARF RAT > ST. STEPHEN, or just DARK STAR > WHARF RAT > ST. STEPHEN? DARK STAR is longer & more luminous than the new year’s bust-out, a patient flow around a pulse that never breaks open until just before the DRUMZ. most conversational balafon SPACE yet, flying bits of dialogue for a few enthralling minutes before mickey backs out & phil rumbles louder. also a reminder that weir makes better squiggly noise without using a slide. not particularly incendiary, but the last ST. STEPHEN ’til 10/83 & the last time DARK STAR & ST. STEPHEN appear in the same set.

1/11/79 nassau coliseum: weir’s clive davis-referencing JACK STRAW lyric mutates further, “used to play for acid, now we play for clive.” vocals are raw & jam overblows ending, but a ripsnorting melodramatic shoot ‘em up. not a great version of the song, but smokin’. to open the 2nd set, keith & jerry (especially) continue to push I NEED A MIRACLE into jam territory until weir pulls band back. maybe a slight instance of keith parroting garcia’s lines, but mostly just outward-looking chatter.
rare full band absurdity after weir wishes mickey & donna happy birthdays.
garcia: by the oddest coincidence, it’s also bob’s birthday!
phil: & mine too!
donna: & it’s keithy’s birthday, too!
weir: the birthday brothers band!
donna: the birthday brothers & SISTERS band.
fun 70-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > SPACE > TRUCKIN’ > THE OTHER ONE > STELLA BLUE. new spaces in long HE’S GONE, quiet floating garciaisms during intro & action-packed outro with garcia/keith dialogue & hideous weir slide guitar (with some efx?). hand-DRUMZ & garcia build to a super tight TRUCKIN’ which spirals into a graceful but inevitable slow motion fall into THE OTHER ONE. vocals aside, STELLA BLUE is a thing of a beauty, especially the whispered metallic blooms of garcia’s last solo. set-closing GOOD LOVIN’ & CASEY JONES encore both thunderously tight. enormous song-long CASEY JONES singalong audible on the soundboard, especially in the cracks between garcia’s vocals.

1/12/79 philadelphia: garcia’s voice is at seemingly maximum scratch, making this a pretty tough listen. semi-miraculously, they manage not to repeat anything from the previous weekend’s spectrum gig. 55-minute DANCING IN THE STREET > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELIN’ BAD is multiple shades of choogle with no space-outs or ballads. DANCING is all high-speed jerry, culminating with 7 minutes of technicolor solo shredding over the drums.

1/14/79 utica: making up a cancelled show from 12/2/78. 1st COLD RAIN & SNOW since july opens, now with weir on slide, one more evolution for one of the oldest songs in their repertoire & not its best look. the last version with keith & donna. multiple accounts of keith nodding out at his keyboard & later fighting with donna onstage. audience tape quality makes it hard to listen closely, but neither is evident. repeated fireworks throughout, sometimes close enough to the mics to distort the signal. music picks up with spritely DIRE WOLF. still chuffed to have JACK-A-ROE back in play, both ‘cuz it’s great & ‘cuz it’s more variety for garcia. 2nd set opening I NEED A MIRACLE has short but still developing keith/jerry jam, leading to looser than usual BERTHA groove. 64-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > IKO IKO > THE OTHER ONE > BLACK PETER. audience clapalong in 4 creates wooziness in ESTIMATED jam, which breaks into cascades by end. EYES is hyperspeed caricature, occasionally impeding on garcia’s vocal phrasing. 1st IKO IKO since egypt is 13 minutes of sluggishness, after which garcia hits accelerator & goes screaming off towards a version of THE OTHER ONE exactly half that length.

1/15/79 springfield, MA: perhaps JACK-A-ROE works well ‘cuz it’s too fast for weir to attempt slide guitar? last ROW JIMMY of the godchaux era. when both garcia & weir play slide, it borders on theramin-like wooze, but locks later. clicked-in peaks during CASSIDY. “our bass player phil was last seen consorting with a couple of aliens. we are, of course, hoping everything turned out alright. anyway, if you see our bass player, won’t you please send him home…” keith/jerry I NEED A MIRACLE jams remain an unexpected treat. under 7 minutes, but garcia leads a nearly perfect segue into SHAKEDOWN STREET, complete with a pause for the doom chord, then blows the 1st lyric. 2nd half dives into pocket. garcia’s vocals are tough, but glowing improv in TERRAPIN STATION. the starlight jam crosses 2 minutes, with everybody contributing confidently & delicately. the outro, too, has surprising & dramatic full band zags. excellent 41-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND, breaking down into intimate garcia/weir/godchaux/lesh quartet jam, 1st DRUMZ segment with no kit thumping (atmospheric!), articulated balafon + band improv (weir’s slide borders on tolerable), & patient PLAYING reprise. CASEY JONES bypasses both the predictable jerry ballad & weir rocker slots & is a far better way to end a proper set than weir singing a ‘50s rocker (which he does in the encore anyway). weir watch: chuck berry gets birthday shouts before & after JOHNNY B. GOODE encore, despite it absolutely not being his birthday.

1/17/79 new haven: making up a cancelled show from november. both sets get straight to jams & 2nd is nearly all suite-ed. short SHAKEDOWN STREET opens show & 22-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN begins 2nd half with especially potent weir/keith conversation during transition. 72-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > JAM > NOT FADE AWAY > BLACK PETER. more burbling weir/keith rhythms push subtly at ESTIMATED, bursting into another speedy caricature of EYES, garcia’s guitar sounding like infinitely skipping pebbles. post-DRUMZ starts unpromisingly with weir on slide, but stays fascinating & builds slowly. while mickey keeps drumzing, kreutzmann gets behind kit & jam gets delicious, early ‘70s quintet style, for a few minutes. an early ’79 highlight. weir watch: NOT FADE AWAY pleasantly fades instead of becoming a screamfest. forced segue from BLACK PETER into AROUND & AROUND falls/splats twice. on the other hand, admirably smooth move from AROUND & AROUND into set closing GOOD LOVIN’.

1/18/79 providence: excellent donna & weir blend on LOOKS LIKE RAIN, neither overpowering. RAMBLE ON ROSE, a song whose simple rhythm keeps it sweetly close to its original arrangement, is detailed & fun. garcia’s voice sounding as together as it has since summer. except for acoustic gigs, benefits, & miscellaneous one-offs, the last grateful dead show without a DRUMZ segment. old fashioned 44-minute HE’S GONE > TRUCKIN’ > THE OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT. OTHER ONE breaks open into mild churns & chaos.

1/20/79 buffalo: 1st (& increasingly rare) theater show of the year. donna has departed the tour. starting an hour late, apparently, a bit of a rough evening in erie county, at least until the jam suite. garcia often forgets that he’s the only backing singer, missing cues, energy, & small chunks of his vocal range. but then a 50-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > OTHER ONE > DRUMZ > JAM > OTHER ONE > DARK STAR > NOT FADE AWAY with 2 “like whoa!” peaks. weir’s guitar sounds uncharacteristically warm, especially as ESTIMATED settles in. metallic billy/jerry wilding right before DRUMZ. 1st peak is 2.5 minute post-DRUMZ jam. mickey drops onto balafon, billy heads directly/confidently for the kit. brief quintet dead jam swells up, the balafon like a pinball. semi-graceful OTHER ONE wind-down, serving the same function as the long-forgotten written ending. 2nd peak is the 9-minute DARK STAR, the last ’til 12/81 & the final version with keith godchaux’s moody conversational keys. post-verse jam folds into rich density until weir utterly ripcords a moment of beautiful strangeness with NOT FADE AWAY. c’mon, man! but NOT FADE AWAY is also brief & unusual, barely 5 minutes, garcia latching onto a playful calypso-like melody during intro that informs the rhythmic feel of the solos/jams. great until the sickly slide guitar enters.

1/21/79 detroit: another rare theater show. part of it is the tiny, tinny audience tape, but band is at far from full sparkle. sleepy but rippling FRIEND OF THE DEVIL. without donna to abet, weir stays chill during the DEAL ending & it’s quite appreciated. no starlight jam in TERRAPIN STATION. 46-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > TRUCKIN’ > STELLA BLUE. hard to make out details, but PLAYING melts forcefully &, in the last few minutes, breaks into cool rhythmic pixelations. rare night where SPACE is longer than DRUMZ, though each is barely 6 minutes. balafon/garcia jams mostly buried in tape fuzz. after this show, the band gets 3 weeks off, before improbably picking up the tour a few hours down the road in indianapolis.

2/3/79 indianapolis: opening what will be the dead’s final tour leg with keith & donna jean godchaux. 1st CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER since 12/77, only 2nd since 10/74, back in rotation for good. not as vista-filled as early ‘70s, but in bright, triumphant shape even with a new weir slide part. satisfying rainbow peaks in MUSIC NEVER STOPPED. highlight is 22-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN. song portion of SCARLET isn’t much, but fierce guitar break leads to unrelenting & nearly butterfly speed transition jam. 54-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT. a ruminative ESTIMATED flows, accelerates, & blooms with speedy drama into speedier EYES. SPACE is aimless autopilot, destination never in doubt. I NEED A MIRACLE jumps into a new late set spot, making it a very rare (& welcome) 2nd set/encore without any oldies.

2/4/79 madison: “st. paul, minnesota” gets semi-local cheer during BIG RIVER. especially leisurely turns on FRIEND OF THE DEVIL & TENNESSEE JED. blazing LAZY LIGHTNING > SUPPLICATION, perfect for garcia’s almost-the-‘80s shredding. exceptionally beautiful vocal performance by donna jean on FROM THE HEART OF ME, band sounds great, too, on an unfortunately chatty audience tape. nice fade, clean ending. 84-second starlight jam midway through TERRAPIN STATION.
overheard on the audience tape:
deadhead #1: DO ST. STEPHEN!
deadhead #2, clearly some distance away: OKAY!
52-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > IKO IKO > BLACK PETER. hard to hear everyone during bopping & static-seeming PLAYING jam, widening at end. chattering garcia cut through. occasional keyboard sparkles & spacious jazzy comping suggest action under surface. balafon SPACE is mostly idle crosstalk before last IKO IKO of keith & donna era, disappearing ’til 8/80. audience tape ambience enhances the swampiness. donna’s voice sounds great.

2/6/79 tulsa: the final grateful dead show for which no tape has (yet) surfaced. the next-most-recent missing gigs are from ’71. setlist only.

2/7/79 carbondale: show starts on up note, cutting in midway through the 1st DON’T EASE ME IN since 8/74, another warlocks song returned to the songlist for good, sounding almost identical to when they last played it. according to roadie steve parish’s memoir “home before daylight,” this was the night garcia gobbled a lot of valium before the show. bad scene. garcia actually sounds fine ’til STAGGER LEE, ~35 minutes in, before the obvious wobbles start. then, yuck. all that survives of 2nd set is 18 minutes of the last keith/donna DANCING IN THE STREET > DRUMZ. garcia sounds slightly better, but maybe for the best that the rest is missing.

2/9/79 kansas city, ks: as band comes on for 2nd set, crowd starts clapping NOT FADE AWAY rhythm & band starts playing it. the 1st time that happened & definitely not the last. NFA’s only time as a set opener between ’70 & ’88. 53-minute HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > SPACE > TRUCKIN’ > COMES A TIME. long HE’S GONE jam starts awkwardly, but finds cool shapes as weir stays off slide & drummers make graceful switch to hand percussion. improv goes in/out of focus ’til it’s 5 minutes of just garcia & drummers. elegant chill/thump/chill DRUMZ before garcia picks up shredding. 1st COMES A TIME since 5/78, last with keith, disappearing again ’til 5/80. as in ’78, no donna. garcia doesn’t hit all the big notes, but it’s all beautifully damaged & spiraling.

2/10/79 kansas city, ks: weir watch: though it’s sorta mumbled, i believe @clivedavis has now been excised from the JACK STRAW lyrics. 2-hour 2nd set starts with the last SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN with keith & donna. 24 minutes & way sedate, even on the crisp audience version. jerry’s voice not helping. the transition jam goes deep, but FIRE is equally mellow. starting to cut to the wire: maybe the best FROM THE HEART OF ME yet in terms of donna vocal, band performance, & crispy recording quality. 63-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT. by now, EYES is more or less a different arrangement & everyone agrees on speedy tempo. a fairly tight specimen, with old-fashioned darting bass. DRUMZ starts/stays on hand percussion. full stop before long SPACE, starting drummerless, like “modern” segments. partially due to clean soundboard, it’s especially rumbling/dislocating. double encore is sweet, but they’ve really gotta both be weir songs?

2/11/79 st. louis: the end of 2 solid months of “shakedown street” touring in st. louis, keith & donna’s last road gig. 1st MIGHT AS WELL since 5/77, fit for garcia’s newer limited range, & still a good forum for keith’s boogie. 1st set is under an hour, despite weir’s two mini jams, LAZY LIGHTNING > SUPPLICATION & a wide, soaring MUSIC NEVER STOPPED. garcia is ready to chatter on 2nd set opening SAMSON & DELILAH. keith’s last CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER is excellent. garcia finds nice floating melodies during the transition, somehow almost beatlesy. 47-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > STELLA BLUE. the action is all in the PLAYING, which spiders & turns in place, breaking into freakiness for a few minutes at end. keith’s last STELLA BLUE, hanging in the song’s sad space, low in the mix as always. I NEED A MIRACLE gets a little happening, the last of the keith/jerry jams there, weir’s slide adding color, before an admirably slick turn into GOOD LOVIN’.

2/17/79 oakland coliseum arena: the show was a benefit for environmental cancer research, promoted by bill graham, with speechifying by jane fonda & tom hayden, as well as a pre-show screening of “fun with dick & jane” (starring fonda). beginning of the post-winterland era & bust-out city! 7 songs not in rotation when the band last played california over new year’s, more than half of those getting their 1st airing in a year or more. show opens with 1st GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD since 10/74 & it rips. garcia’s solo is a multi-stage flare. 1st HIGH TIME since 5/77 is reassuringly crisp & even jaunty, with confident harmonies, garcia navigating well. short potent LAZY LIGHTNING/SUPPLICATION. a fond farewell to donna jean’s FROM THE HEART OF ME, a song i’ve genuinely started to dig, specifically its delicate bounce & the way the melody lands on “safe & warm…,” & garcia’s squigglies of course. not the definitive version. 1st BIG RAILROAD BLUES since 10/74, folk stomping like 1970 again. busy & fun, with mickey’s locomotive snare drumming & phil’s bass leshing. fantastic TERRAPIN STATION with soaring starlight break & widening outro but garcia’s voice weakens by the end. 53-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > THE WHEEL > SHAKEDOWN STREET > PLAYING IN THE BAND. right-on free keyboard sparkles as PLAYING melts. stuttered entrance to the 1st WHEEL since 2/78 (& last ’til 8/80). now as ever, too short. half-graceful pause before SHAKEDOWN, which has some tempo issues at first. garcia rockets off when they hit the jam & all adjust around him, eventually melting, going bright, & reforming into PLAYING. weir & donna get one last SUNSHINE DAYDREAM together, but they really wail out & shriek & hoot & go screamo on the ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT encore. peace out godchauxs.

4/16/79 club front: nearly 3 hours of practice with new keyboardist brent mydland, running through core songs, but with a solid hour of jams that go way deeper than what the dead did onstage that spring. tape drops in mid-jam, band in a surprising, darting “blues for allah” mode, garcia & lesh bombing around & making high speed turns while brent finds space. drummers lose thread, but don’t give up & jam keeps moving before landing in NOT FADE AWAY. impressive deep space detonations. “war is hell,” notes weir. good callback by garcia a little bit later: “i lost my slide in the war.” weir suggests the jams are scaring his dog. brent works on synth drones underneath DRUMZ. nothing rom the tour was this noisy.
bit on-the-nose:
hart: we started that jam the other day… we went into THE OTHER ONE.
lesh: you did, i didn’t. (to brent:) it’s nice, sometimes we have half the band playing one tune & half the band playing another tune. it depends which drummer you’re listening to.
field recordings of weir & the drummers waging battle over the tempos of PASSENGER & I NEED A MIRACLE. weir trying to get the drummers to play faster & the drummers fucking with him. weir’s not havin’ it. pleasant 10 minutes of the band jamming on the SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN transition, with thrills as they veer off-course, before cursory but solid 20-minute version of the two songs, along with garcia sweetly going over the lyrics with brent. an oddity: GLORIA > LINDA LU, both led by weir. part of the warlocks’ early repertoire, GLORIA would turn up onstage in the fall. no hint that weir’s heard patti smith’s version. LINDA LU is by ray sharpe, from 1959, & the dead’s version is fun but generic bar blues. gorgeous 4-minute garcia/mydland/kreutzmann jam, brent taking moody rhodes leads, picked up by garcia. kretuzmann still sounding dope af as single drummer. working on a groove, brent adds busy keys, & turns into ranging 17-minute (mostly) trio jam.

4/22/79 san jose: the grateful dead’s 1st show with keyboardist brent mydland. bill graham-presented stadium bill with charlie daniels & greg kihn. on opening JACK STRAW, mydland switches between twinkly electric keys & hammond organ as rhythm section gets even more oversized. drum roll madness & cartoonishly emphasized beats & bass bombs. some rain during LOOKS LIKE RAIN. subtly new feel for SUGAREE with organ, but jam peaks are subverted by weir’s abrasive slide guitar, which maybe hasn’t gotten much off-stage practice. NEW MINGLEWOOD BLUES also extra-big, also with ugly slide. brent’s organ fits the power dead style more than keith’s keys. brent’s voice really makes its entrance on PASSENGER, stepping into donna’s part, duetting with weir. they sound pretty solid together. perhaps emboldened by the new percussion array, drums reaching tipping point of being over the top more often than not. set break swag watch: mickey hart can be seen sporting a promotional shirt for the band’s cancelled shows at madison square garden the previous year. (i saw one of these in dan healy’s stash, too.) 23-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN, brent leading into jam with cool pitch-bending prophet-5 synth solo (thought it was guitar at first) while garcia lays back. mickey dabbles on extra percussion during transition, including seed shells. 63-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT. nifty jam pockets on ESTIMATED & HE’S GONE when weir colors & flutters. such a great jammer when he doesn’t play slide. he & mydland seem to occupy closer tonal/rhythmic space than weir & keith did. DRUMZ is the debut of the beast, new circular array with roto-toms, hand percussion, etc.. according to some sources, this show was also the 1st appearance of the beam, but i hear no evidence. hart & kreutzmann (& maybe others) seemingly play everything else, though. enticing ARP synth blurps as OTHER ONE coalesces. tom-toms accelerate to ludicrous speed as garcia solos. speedy & semi-spaced 2-minute meltdown, brent on organ, bridges to WHARF RAT. double encore of SHAKEDOWN STREET, electric keys sparkling just right.

5/3/79 charlotte: opening a 9-show spring tour, brent mydland’s 1st road outing. phil joke: “what’s the difference between disco dancing & pea green paint? you can teach someone to disco dance.” audience tape captures array of “disco sucks” resopnses from crowd. the outro of ROW JIMMY switches to a double-time shuffle, like it’s ready to burst into FRANKLIN’S TOWER. doesn’t feel quite appropriate, but some of brent’s coolest keys of the night. gonna be a while before i’m used to having a hyper-masculine voice in the harmony mix. 59-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > BLACK PETER > NOT FADE AWAY > PLAYING IN THE BAND. major change in PLAYING jam: starting with this version, the jam floats on the 10/4 intro groove instead of slashing into chaos, another step towards less far-out jams. weir watch: echoing delays & piercing lead figures, latter get big woos. garcia/band lock in cool spaces around both. brent lays back on B3, upping noise as jam dissolves. DRUMZ go from big to little. teasing ARP blurts as SPACE starts, but brent switches to keys/B3. dissolve back to PLAYING almost opens into starlight via garcia/mydland/weir conversation, plus perfectly obstinate lead bass counterpoint.

5/4/79 hampton: brent’s singing gets cheers on MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP opener, but too amped for my taste, overpowering garcia. the keys open up the jam’s feel, closer to real segue into FRANKLIN’S TOWER. subdued jam, but brent’s comping finds new rhythmic corners. though there are a few exceptions, this is the 1st tour where both weir & garcia aren’t repeating songs on consecutive nights. garcia had been mostly doing this already but there aren’t really that many new (or revived) weir songs in rotation, so maybe it’s intentional? subtly new feels for lots of songs, even MEXICALI BLUES, less manic & overtly polka-like with brent on B3. even sprouts a mini-jam. maybe it’s that ol’ analog warmth of the vinyl transfer, but weir’s slide is almost enjoyable on DON’T EASE ME IN & other spots. 68-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > TRUCKIN’ > STELLA BLUE > AROUND & AROUND. EYES no longer floats but is tethered by hi-hat, also giving everybody a pulse to bomb around, brent’s electric keys sounding warm & rhodes-like. the arrival of the beast drum array is perhaps unsurprisingly making DRUMZ a bit more bombastic. oh well. happiest surprise so far is the arrival of ARP SPACE, with 2 minutes of bleep grids. in virginia, “new york” gets a cheer in TRUCKIN’. phil has stopped singing on TRUCKIN’ with the arrival of brent. even with extraneous tom toms, STELLA BLUE is surprisingly restrained. solid acceleration/crossfade into AROUND & AROUND, a real segue.

5/5/79 baltimore: healthy 14-minute SUGAREE, weir’s slide a bit cushioned by brent’s new B3 part. an up note is that garcia’s voice is sounding better. a down note is that the amped mydland sometimes overpowers the softer garcia during group vocals. juiced up 11-minute DANCING IN THE STREETS set closer. i dig the percussive new electric keys. philly, baltimore, & DC shout-outs get predictably huge cheers but (as with TRUCKIN’ the night before) so does new york city. nyc dead freaks represent! 24-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN has subtly new flavor. extra-busy drums during transition jam, the usual cowbell plus chattering snares/cymbals. brent’s B3 adds percussive color & sustain to garcia & weir’s weave. weir at his best. 51-minute HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT. finally, the 1st real jammin’ of the mydland era. HE’S GONE slips into prettiness as drums disappear, fading back with hand percussion. SPACE builds patiently/inevitably to THE OTHER ONE, nice float en route. weir watch: 1st tour where weir’s really started to affect his voice with precocious cowboy vocal fry/scratchiness/growls, adding “y’all” to OTHER ONE & elsewhere. SUNSHINE DAYDREAM is now a solo weir scream fest. duck!

5/7/79 easton: lightweight 1st set, but 2nd set gets going with 11-minute SHAKEDOWN STREET opener, engaging busy chatter from mydland’s electric keys, finding his own spot in the bounce. too short. extra-present bass this tour. maybe part volume, part player. 72-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > BLACK PETER. the swirling synth era arrives with the chorus of ESTIMATED. wild free jazz garciaisms just before threading into maybe the fastest/busiest EYES yet. thrilling, dense outro. DRUMZ is less interesting this tour so far due to the beast percussion array. more thunder, less textural weirdness. very much digging brent’s willingness to cycle through SPACE tones, though not feeling a lot of coherence to it yet. john cipollina makes himself known during NOT FADE AWAY, punching hole into cosmos with a silvery guitar burst. radical, rattling, & sometimes obnoxious basslines. cipollina shifts band into fantastic pocket, garcia tracing moody changes, just before fold into BLACK PETER. unusual & sometimes nice to have another lead guitarist in garcia’s ballad space, & cipollina outlines the chords in his own way, though weir is back on his slide guitar bullshit. with cipollina at full shred & playing little counterpoints, i’m into this version of AROUND & AROUND even before the double-time rave-up. brent’s big B3 swells get cheers.

5/8/79 state college: can hear practically hear the building bumping on opening PROMISED LAND. 26-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN with enormous energy, dynamics a bit inaudible in places owing to hyperactive clap-alongs. scenic jam plateau with brent on B3. 55-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE OTHER ONE > CHINA DOLL > PLAYING IN THE BAND. small but major change for brent’s 1st version of PLAYING (good ear @21stCenturyDead), jam floating on the song’s 10/4 intro groove, instead of dropping into the hard-slashing 7/4 time of versions through the godchaux era. though there will still be major versions, this is when/why/how it stopped going as far out. PLAYING jam is mostly garcialogue, opening up slightly during last segment, when mydland switches to electric keys. DRUMZ gets quiet, but lost in the crowd/clapping. ambient whooshes in SPACE, brent sketching shapes, before jam defaults to OTHER ONE. quick verses & nifty exit jam in progress when garcia speeds away. as band catches up (& hart, i suspect, quits with the repetitive hi-hat) improv opens into high-diving wonderment.OTHER ONE folds into 1st CHINA DOLL since 5/77. garcia’s voice has definitely been mending & this revival seems like he knows it. some delicacy is lost on the audience tape, but drumzers remain chill & song gets across, as does garcia’s beautiful, arcing solo. 10-minute SHAKEDOWN STREET is (as always) satisfying in the encore slot, one final boogie & just long enough to get a little zoned.

5/9/79 binghamton: 16-minute SUGAREE opener, fluttering upwards despite weir’s slide, brent’s B3 working wonders. lots of “take a step back” variations as slightly pissed lesh does crowd control. “you’ll be able to hear us. we’ll make it loud for ya, don’t worry.” weir announces phil is sporting a pigpen shirt. i wonder if it’s an original ‘60s model or newer edition? brent mydland’s 1st CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER, mostly on electric keys, the transition subtly entering its own power jam phase, slightly more driving. 38-minute HE’S GONE > TRUCKIN’ > DRUMZ, followed by full stop & vague tuning before WHARF RAT. some disjointedness, but a few really great jam moments. HE’S GONE has minimalist, entwined garcia & weir leads during outro. lines in TRUCKIN’, ranked by loudness of cheer, 5/9/79: 1.) “new york,” 2.) “cocaine,” 3.) “buffalo,” 4.) “what a long, strange trip it’s been.” big peak early in jam also rightfully gets big woos. thrill-out exit jam is even better, overtaken by DRUMZ too soon. WHARF RAT has 2 really astonishing garcia-driven peaks, neither solos nor jams exactly, & a perfectly smooth segue into AROUND & AROUND that weir redirects into SUGAR MAGNOLIA.

5/11/79 billerica: i dig the space mydland is carving for himself in FRANKLIN’S TOWER with the electric keys, giving some internal movement to a jam that can often turn static/monochromatic despite its gallop. 59-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > BLACK PETER. EYES is typical hyperfast specimen. busy drums subdivide it from big soaring flow into lots of unceasing miniature dialogues. short brent/drummers epilogue is 1st of many, kinda vanilla here. ultra stark SPACE, filled with quiet tones & fuzzy ambience. long BLACK PETER works well. garcia’s in excellent voice, weir’s slide guitar is mostly subsumed by the audience tape & even sounds tasteful, sad & sweet garcia tone on the solo, drummers stay calm. I NEED A MIRACLE/BERTHA/GOOD LOVIN’ combo jumps to set’s end for 1st time. garcia seems to dig into BERTHA solo slightly differently when not an opener. road manager (rock?) begs off encore ‘cuz brent is apparently sick, “so we can play tomorrow in style.”

5/12/79 amherst: a heady spring fling triple-bill at @UMassAmherst, with roy ayers’ ubiquity & the patti smith group, the biggest show of ’79.  a very mellow spring fling for the dead, though the far-off tape is probably accentuating that. slow songs abound. i’ve come around to the sleepy late ‘70s FRIEND OF THE DEVIL over the years, but it’s a bit of a buzzkill early in the 2nd set. the little starlight jam in TERRAPIN STATION has temporarily lost its sparkle, brent still figuring out the chords & kinda blowing through some changes. drummers seem eager to get drummering. 52-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > STELLA BLUE. during PLAYING, woman in the crowd screams (unintentionally?) almost right where a donna scream could go. exciting jam moments as mydland’s electric keys come to front, handing off with garcia. though a bad recording, early SPACE achieves a beautiful dissonant coherence. perhaps a whispering ghost of the MIND LEFT BODY jam as NOT FADE AWAY transitions to STELLA BLUE. serious missed opportunity not to have patti smith out for one of the oldies, at least. SHAKEDOWN STREET encore is so laidback it’s almost, like, ambient funk. not really embarrassed to admit that i only just noticed that ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT has been played exclusively on saturdays since 10/77.

5/13/79 portland, ME: tonight’s new song for brent is JACK-A-ROE, taking a lightly funky turn with bouncing electric keys & weir’s light rhythm. JACK STRAW is notably slower than other recent versions. assured 22-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN opens 2nd set. subtle percussive keys at start of beautiful transition jam with lush, fresh feels before the segue via B3 colors & quick-dotting garcia figures. 57-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > HE’S GONE > TRUCKIN’ > DRUMZ > SPACE > WHARF RAT. patient HE’S GONE stays compellingly lyrical through intro/middle/outro solos. action-packed 18-minute TRUCKIN’. brief NOBODY’S FAULT BUT MINE quotations. drummers split for 5 minutes of nearly solo garcia space & return for abstract weird-out. heavily cut DRUMZ sounds interesting, oh well. SPACE continues in lovely very jerry mode.

6/28/79 sacramento: a theater warm-up before a pair of big weekend shows in the northwest. tempos seem more languid, some arrangements more fluid. wasn’t even sure what NEW MINGLEWOOD BLUES was at first. brent gets another initiation into the dead when weir has the crowd wish him happy birthday on a day other than his birthday. STAGGER LEE stretches, weir’s slide almost erased by the tape. brent’s new song for the evening is MUSIC NEVER STOPPED, his new sparkly keyboards also erased in the murk. 22-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN, brent jumping into the transition jam with joystick-bending tweedles & moans, while garcia gleefully skates, reprising the squigglies at the end of FIRE. prophet-5 or something else, @otdispace? 49-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > BLACK PETER. harshly, the soundboard is missing the unique & smooth transition into a full-gallop late ‘70s EYES, which thins out & lands gracefully, too, brent doubling a garcia pattern. DRUMZ goes from big to little, beastly thuds dissolving to handdrums & a long obvious ascent into NOT FADE AWAY. creative acts of levitation by weir help shape the last peaks of the jam.

6/30/79 portland, OR: at the portland international raceway, with a reunion set by ex-byrds roger mcguinn, gene clark, & chris hillman, plus the david bromberg band. short 1st set hampered by technical problems. before the 2nd, weir dedicates proceedings “to the memory of lowell george, he was good while he lasted.” the little feat founder & “shakedown street” producer had died the day before. FRIEND OF THE DEVIL is sleepy as always, but clicks into some kind of slightly more uptempo magic for, like, 30 seconds near the end. “no nukes!” someone shouts between songs. 56-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT. best part of sequence is garcia spiraling HE’S GONE upwards into a coda that recalls the then-departed CRAZY FINGERS. almost no SPACE before THE OTHER ONE rises. like the set as a whole, it’s kinda paint-by-numbers. but it also still peaks impressively.

7/1/79 seattle: the last dead appearance by wolf, jerry garcia’s custom guitar, for nearly a decade. 19-minute MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP > FRANKLIN’S TOWER opener, a decent segue for once. weir’s rhythm guitar is abnormally high in the mix & it’s a cool perspective on his playing, at least ’til he whips out the slide later in the set. 53-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > STELLA BLUE > TRUCKIN’ > AROUND & AROUND. wild PLAYING stays interesting, even as DRUMZ encroach, garcia & kreutzmann digging in, brent jumping into conversation on B3. good specimen of early beast-era DRUMZ, big & powerful before move to hand percussion. finally, a somewhat developed SPACE. mickey leading with sandpaper scratches, before rhodes sparkles, garcia flows, ARP whooshes, & a sweet mutant descent into STELLA BLUE. miraculously smooth segues in & out of TRUCKIN’. still a shock to hear a B3, like howard wales on the album. the slowly coalescing jam into AROUND & AROUND is the textbook opposite of a ripcord transition. wow bob wow!

8/4/79 oakland auditorium arena: jerry garcia’s 1st full dead show playing his new custom irwin guitar, tiger, his main instrument for the next decade. band also debuts a new sound system with @MeyerSound, featuring (at least at these shows) the wall of sound vocal array. weir begins show by having the crowd wish a belated happy birthday to garcia, a rare instance of truthful birthday-wishing on weir’s part. subtle musical changes. NEW MINGLEWOOD BLUES slows down a few clicks, sounding close to the yet-unwritten WEST LA FADEAWAY. many songs sound thinner with mydland’s sparkle-heavy rhodes. garcia & weir debut 1st songs of the year. garcia/hunter’s ALTHEA is sly & wise, feels like new lyrical turf. alternate lyric: “honest to the point of innocence.” minus the drums & singing, weir/barlow’s LOST SAILOR almost sounds like a DARK STAR jam. i enjoy it some days. 58-minute SHAKEDOWN STREET > PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > STELLA BLUE. SHAKEDOWN slashes from funk into a jam with a smooth no-count-off segue into PLAYING. garcia plays in shorthand for the song but makes up for it in the jam. brent’s 1st huge PLAYING. jam is taut & weird, moving through pockets at convincing speed. garcia disappears for a bit & it’s almost easy to miss, returning for more quick guitar dots & freak sesh with drummers. mydland’s chiming keys fits in way better here. smooth DRUMZ deceleration to hand percussion features the return of what i think is a balafon, a nice sparse half-melody that gives shape & motion to blustery roto-tomming. STELLA BLUE is a fucking mess, not finding its pulse until garcia’s outro solo.

8/5/79 oakland auditorium arena: 20-minute MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP > FRANKLIN’S TOWER opener is way less sleepy on the audience tape. why is brent’s rhodes so chime-y, though? aren’t rhodes usually full & warm? probably a good tempo to pace for a night of twirling. weir & garcia’s new songs get paired again. the rhodes sounds great quietly conversing with garcia’s soloing, but not enough sustain for songs. ALTHEA already settled into late 1st set slot, almost written for it. 23-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN makes more sense on the audience tape, with bass & rhythm guitar, but still not a burner. big elevation when garcia goes surfing on smooth fuzz right after the transition. 66-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > HAMZA-EL DIN TUNE > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > WHARF RAT. garcia’s guitar butterflies crash upwards into a lightning EYES, more chaos splatter than grace. big bass non-solo at the end. nice non-bombastic middle zone in DRUMZ of chaotic bells & quick-moving percussion, prelude to an appearance by hamza el-din, who (over mickey & billy’s tars) sings a song that is neither OLLIN ARAGEED nor the others he sang with the dead in ’78. short deep SPACE. someone in crowd shouts for DARK STAR, which earns cheers. a pair of fuzz-tone power solos on WHARF RAT earn more. after a rare 2-song encore, band called back for rarer double encore.

8/12/79 red rocks: didn’t click ’til just now but, on the other 8/79 shows & tonight, but (besides ALTHEA) weir has all but ditched playing slide guitar! garcia’s LOOKS LIKE RAIN solos have been getting gradually fuzzier/bigger, but drummers really latch on here & break through. wonderful & brisk BROWN-EYED WOMEN with crisp lyrical solo. main items of deadhead lore: someone fell off a cliffside & died while trying to sneak in; on & off drizzles all night & distant lightning over denver account for various audible cheers on tapes; lots of red dragon LSD going around. also, of course, ken kesey & bill walton sightings. phil jackson, too. 69-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > BLACK PETER. busy dyno-rhodes solo by brent in ESTIMATED, like chattering vibraphone, later conversing with garcia. used on “so many roads.” stunning segue into speedy late ‘70s EYES. for 2nd show in a row, garcia sings EYES’ opening line as “sleepy summer home.” jam bursts open, led by butterfly garcialogues, band focuses, blurs, & melts into the far out as mydland dials in moog pans & bleeps, drummers go free & band stays noisy. i think this is the 1st show where sound engineer dan healy audibly tweaks DRUMZ with reverb. sounds rad & psychedelic as they shift to the big toms & more amazing during long bells segment (with ken kesey, according to one account), which leaks into SPACE. (cc @otdispace) snaking, unusual, & patient build to NOT FADE AWAY, continuing to develop ideas even as it normalizes. oh wait, false alarm about weir abandoning slide. it’s here soiling BLACK PETER.

8/13/79 denver: rained out at red rocks, the dead move to mcnichols arena in semi-nearby denver. 11-minute opening SHAKEDOWN STREET has some rockin’ bass fuzz. jam doesn’t go far, but then garcia locks into conclusive-sounding theme & it feels like it has. the garcia segments of the 1st set are pretty sweet. the dyno-rhodes twinkles on the slow FRIEND OF THE DEVIL are nice. CANDYMAN seems to have escaped late ‘70s cartoonificaiton. LOST SAILOR getting bigger, but weir’s starting to go screamo on the “driftin’ & dreamin’” ending, which is a bit harsh. I NEED A MIRACLE twists into a not-quite-jam & does a not-quite-segue into BERTHA. 59-minute HE’S GONE > THE OTHER ONE > DRUMZ > WHARF RAT > TRUCKIN’. a slow, gradual transition into THE OTHER ONE, but not much happening on the jam front tonight, at least with the full band. having dan healy add processing to the DRUMZ opens up whole new vistas. even when there aren’t effects, great stereo feel to the recording. no SPACE, but gentle swirl of bells & dyna-rhodes act as prelude to WHARF RAT. TRUCKIN’ opens up into a short & quiet NOBODY’S FAULT BUT MINE blues noodle, which would make a graceful landing/coda, but they jam for a few more minutes anyway.

8/14/79 denver: debut of brent mydland’s 1st grateful dead song, EASY TO LOVE YOU, co-written with john perry barlow. crowd cheers when he starts singing. but, yikes, a hearty no thanks. been years since i heard this song & still not really into any aspect of it. 66-minute TERRAPIN STATION > PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > STELLA BLUE. garcia keeps at the starlight jam in TERRAPIN but mydland’s not there yet. garcia’s outro variations get closer to breaking free, flowing into a great no-count segue. PLAYING jam slashes & dances & slashes again, busy miniature conversations. healy adds dubby DRUMZ echo just before transition to hand percussion. mickey (i assume) stays active in SPACE, bells meshing with brent’s dyna-rhodes. gorgeous STELLA BLUE outro.

8/31/79 glens falls: 3 more new songs for mydland. DIRE WOLF & CASSIDY in 1st set, GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD in 2nd. sparkling dyna-rhodes opens up CASSIDY jam a bit. only 2nd GREATEST STORY since ’74, losing some of the manic urgency & detailing of the old PUMP SONG groove. 1st SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE, by weir & john perry barlow, following LOST SAILOR as it will for most the next 7 years. the band’s final intentionally constructed mini-suite. not totally finished, with alternate lyrics. 13-minute SHAKEDOWN STREET gets plunky as jam moves towards peak. garcia & mydland tease out an insistent groove the band doesn’t fully exploit, sometimes hard to tell what’s guitar & what’s keyboards. 58-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > BLACK PETER. tape switches to audience source during garcia’s butterfly acceleration into EYES, making it seem even more caricatured. lovely, fast arpeggio flowers as it fades.

9/1/79 rochester: at john scher & WMJQ’s upstate jam at holleder memorial stadium. also with the greg kihn band & the good rats. odd pairing all around. heads really, really did not like the good rats. band threw rubber rats at the crowd, who threw the rats back & then some. languid 1st set, with some big sunshine during back of 20-minute MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP > FRANKLIN’S TOWER opener. some tape speed issues there, too, or maybe it’s my brain. weir watch: LOST SAILOR deserves a better ending than these screams. SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE finding its legs, here with a relentless forward-driving beat by the drummers. weir gets the soon-discarded lyrics a bit better. weir, to local surveillance: “this set is respectfully dedicated to all the little mice & rats trapped in laboratories all over the world & also to the keepers of the peace up on that building over there with their cameras & binoculars. looking out for your best interests.” short 2nd set gets right to 61-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN > DRUMZ > SPACE > WHARF RAT > I NEED A MIRACLE, but the jams peak early. chatty & uneven half-hour SCARLET > FIRE, weir’s slide very thankfully buried. after 2nd verse of FIRE, colorful & flaring garcia pyro show before he pops a string. short bass/keys jams, phil bellowing along on a chorus. mellower outro. confused plop into bland DRUMZ. what happened to all the echoes & spaced bells from august? hand percussion-laced SPACE coalesces into crashing density, disperses, then builds on weird pulse & soars into WHARF RAT with a big arcing solo & half-smooth charge into MIRACLE. after that, it’s rock medley time, apparently with the sun setting just as garcia hits the “…until the sun goes down” line in BERTHA.

9/2/79 augusta: mydland’s bell-like dyna-rhodes works well on ROW JIMMY, which has some nice quiet & almost spare guitar spaces. but one of those songs/versions where having a 2nd drummer borders on criminal. brent’s 1st RAMBLE ON ROSE. the song’s slow boogie-woogie piano (virtually built for godchaux) definitely doesn’t translate to the rhodes, sounding way dinky. besides various keyboardists’ sounds, though, one of the most unchanging songs in garcia’s book. w00! brent’s finally connecting with garcia during TERRAPIN STATION’s short starlight jam. lovely prelude to 52-minute LET IT GROW > DRUMZ > SPACE > STELLA BLUE > TRUCKIN’. 23-minute LET IT GROW is 1st since 5/78 & longest post-’74 version, i think. mydland starts on organ. the sustain (instead of keith’s conversational/percussive attack) gives jam a different & more generic feel. after eventual switch to rhodes, a delicious dissolve with ARP. aha, there are DRUMZ’s zoned-out bells, though they get swallowed up in under a minute. big bass & nice atonal zaps during haunted SPACE drift towards STELLA BLUE. NOBODY’S FAULT BUT MINE instrumental coda to TRUCKIN’ is oddly graceful landing.

9/4/79 madison square garden: fuego garcia throughout the 1st set, marred by weir’s slide on SUGAREE, obscured by ME & MY UNCLE, but building/soaring through 1st big LOST SAILOR > SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE. great 1979 model electric dixieland on slow bouncing TENNESSEE JED. big cheer for the lyric “where’s the dog star?” in weir/barlow’s new LOST SAILOR, the crowd presumably hearing “dog star” as “dark star.” as a side note, besides SAILOR/SAINT & the SHAKEDOWN STREET encore, all songs have been in the band’s repertoire for at least 7 years. audible “china cat!!” requests from multiple heads before 2nd set, which opens with the 1st NYC version of CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER in 5 years can really feel the garden bounce, even on the soundboard but especially on the audience tape. 53-minute HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > SPACE > WHARF RAT feels like a complete statement. long HE’S GONE rolls patiently upwards into high-speed almost-OTHER ONE territory, starting a new era for the song as a 2nd set jam anchor. some shoes-in-dryer drumzing but gongs & chaos give the rhythm devils sequence a psychedelic edge as it crosses into hand percussion. purposeful, ruminative SPACE & properly arena-sized WHARF RAT, though almost crashes at the bridge.

9/5/79 madison square garden: short but pleasant 1st set, less than an hour. bouncy mid-tempo PEGGY-O. big cheers during LOSER & elsewhere, apparently the house lights being thrown on occasionally for crowd control. 2nd set is crisp & colorful, if a bit paint-by-numbers. 23-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN, 59-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > BLACK PETER, followed by typical late ‘70s I NEED A MIRACLE/BERTHA/GOOD LOVIN’ rock medley. improv highlight is 13-minute SPACE, building quickly to atonal symphonic chaos, it thins out into a jam tenuously threaded by floating drums, threatening to cohere but unspooling into garcialogue & more purposeful turn towards BLACK PETER.

9/6/79 madison square garden: house lights apparently left on for much of the 1st set & parts of the 2nd. harsh! phil makes an excuse about wanting to see the audience, but it’s seemingly to deter people from crashing the floor. enjoying LOST SAILOR > SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE as a peak-building set closer but lands abruptly here. 2nd CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER set opener in 3 garden shows, 14 minutes & a joy. big cheers as it lands in RIDER, but that might be the houselights again. 54-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > STELLA BLUE. great PLAYING widens like waves in a storm, slowly getting more kinetic. chopping & busy improvisation, with all players adding busy detail & mostly staying clear of one another. the beginning of DRUMZ is action packed, with toms & gongs & the sound of revving motorcycle engine combining into glorious near-rhythmic chaos. doesn’t fully develop but tumbles out into a short SPACE without dissipating. during the descent into STELLA BLUE, garcia maybe almost/accidentally/kinda brushes into the MIND LEFT BODY progression for a few seconds & band follows. doesn’t quite soar, but a nice little clearing before a long, languorous STELLA BLUE.

10/24/79 springfield, MA: fairly biz-as-usual tour opener. SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE is one lyric draft closer to final form. no more alternate verses, though there’s still tweaking to be done. 24-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN has subtle new colors. mydland moves to crunchy synth & takes dyna-rhodes solo, but weir is the hero with palm-mute delay pedal rhythms (during the transition especially) & big crashing chords under garcia’s finale solo. 37-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > WHARF RAT > PLAYING IN THE BAND. PLAYING gets portentous with big bass melodies, but dribbles down into hand percussion. sweeping SPACE. phil has a sustain pedal! moar! further good news: the steel drumz are back. mickey (i assume) hits a hand percussion groove that sounds like an ARP pulse, ready for snaking guitar, but garcia’s already tuned into WHARF RAT.

10/25/79 new haven: great pacing in 2nd set, opening with 14-minute SHAKEDOWN STREET that dives into percussive crosstalk between garcia & mydland. rare 2nd set PASSENGER & FRIEND OF THE DEVIL, which manages slight punchiness in its slow arrangement via brisk rhodes solo. 52-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > STELLA BLUE touches many satisfying corners. butterfly segue into EYES, which opens into ornery bass leads & ARP washes & thoughtful garcia squigglies & weir harmonics & pitch-bending prophet-5 mixed low. DRUMZ stays spaced almost the entire time, with synth noise starting under the hand drums. gongs & cymbals & rhodes twinkles trace a gentle path to whispered STELLA BLUE, with drawn-out satisfying peak.

10/27/79 south yarmouth: an offseason saturday at the coliseum owned by linda & vince mcmahon. major 2nd set dance party, opening with half-hour DANCING IN THE STREET > FRANKLIN’S TOWER dense with garcia/mydland laser beams & rolling bass, flowing via an outro chorus from DANCING’s disco-bounce right into FRANKLIN’S choogle. 50-minute HE’S GONE > THE OTHER ONE > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > BLACK PETER. HE’S GONE itself is a l’il wobbly but accelerates into churning not-quite-CAUTION jam. major! OTHER ONE doesn’t fully capitalize, though twists & turns convincingly after the 2nd verse. rare soundboard from the era with suitable bass, thundering properly & cushioning even weir’s scrawny slide guitar as garcia tears through a burning NOT FADE AWAY. unfortunately, the slide continues into BLACK PETER.

10/28/79 south yarmouth: 30-minute MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP > FRANKLIN’S TOWER opens, garcia sounding a bit out of breath throughout. some good boogie, but listless playing, as garcia keeps going & going. smokin’ 15-minute CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER, inventive co-leads by weir during conversational transition, busy enough that the dyna-rhodes sparkles properly. weir starts singing garcia’s “headlight” verse during RIDER, which is somehow charming. 38-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > STELLA BLUE. group soars into jam, mydland’s B3 sustaining a dense atmosphere under garcia before switching over to more conversational rhodes rhythms & figures. stellar flow from PLAYING into concise & high-energy DRUMZ, hart going berserker on steel percussion while kreutzmann holds down kit. hard stop before SPACE, but makes musical sense, echoed percussion mixing with synth. great human-toned noises from lesh?

10/31/79 nassau coliseum: rare CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER opener, markedly more languid than at previous show. less ecstasy, but a wonderful opening bounce. garcia’s voice is a bit trembly. weir apparently pops & changes string mid-jam. a packed floor at the coliseum. lots of “take a step back” variations, including from a mellllllow garcia. a number of surreal weir jokes: “what’s the difference between a frog? … and the answer is: one leg is both the same.” healthy 17-minute SHAKEDOWN STREET 2nd set opener turns briefly outward via garcia/mydland conversation, pushing & pulling to an indeterminate space that seems as if it could turn anywhere, so they head back into SHAKEDOWN. leisurely 69-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > WHARF RAT > TRUCKIN’. speedy late ‘70s EYES is in full bloom with tasty garcia & a densely chirping dyna-rhodes outro that amps up into a weird, beautiful power jam as the drumzers try to take over. SPACE drifts with cartoon melodies, bass chords, rhodes cascades, & weary garcia themes. weir goes into WHARF RAT, but garcia isn’t done drifting. when the song reaches the “bonny lee” line, audible on the soundboard tape, a woman very loudly screams “THAT’S MY NAME!!!” TRUCKIN’ is a big exuberant mess, with an arcing garcia solo that fans into temporarily infinite open space before crashing into the coda, peaking again, & alllllmost landing smoothly.

11/1/79 nassau coliseum: sez weir, “i have it from a usually reliable source that russia just bombed staten island & if you live there, don’t bother to go home tonight.” not my era for LOOKS LIKE RAIN, but some gorgeous garcia curlicues. 35-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN is longest ever & satisfying all the way. unhurried garcia/mydland/weir dialogues, bliss corners, minimalist delays, synth peaks, & general dreaminess. SCARLET tastier than FIRE. maybe a post-’77 template & def an all-timer. otherwise sleepy TERRAPIN STATION channels the LP version’s mystic energy during outro, prelude to 40-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > BLACK PETER. brilliant weir rhythm colors during first part of PLAYING. mydland gaining confidence, jumping from keyboard to keyboard with busy conversational leads as jam melts. SPACE coalesces into brief triumphant theme in the MIND LEFT BODY/BEAUTIFUL JAM universe.

11/2/79 nassau coliseum: another seemingly infinite MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP > FRANKLIN’S TOWER opens, a 29 minute warm-up that doesn’t quite bloom until the end. a nearby drum mic catches lots of between-song mickey chatter of the “hey weir!!” sort. all-transitioned 2nd set. weir plots 1st half just off-mic, culminating in not-quite-audible conversation with mickey about what it means to just go “out” on his new song. I NEED A MIRACLE > BERTHA has a short questing garcia transition, rock prelude to the main event. 59-minute LOST SAILOR > SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > STELLA BLUE. wild 19-minute SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE is a screamer, 1st jammed version & longest ever, staying high density & content rich while zoning & zipping inside the song’s atmosphere. excellent to have a new option for the deep jam slot with SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE, the 1st new song to move there since ESTIMATED PROPHET in ’77, though this is the only tour where that will be its semi-regular role. along with the reborn HE’S GONE, promising new fun. hand-DRUMZ punctuated by breathtaking zonk-sweep noise from lesh (i think), melting into SPACE. bells & gongs make it feel extra beautiful & alien, as they always do. encore is mydland’s 1st CASEY JONES.

11/4/79 providence: 2nd set opens with 1st ALABAMA GETAWAY, snarling southern rocker with ominous, biblical lyrics. garcia/hunter’s last dead song for 3 years. maybe not major, but a great addition to the set & perfect crossfade into 1st GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD since may. 67-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > SPACE > THE OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT. as HE’S GONE winds down. weir hits new changes &, impressively, the band charges headlong behind him for a good moment before dissipating into episodic bubblings. unfortunately, not much going on after that. SPACE is emptier than usual, volume swells & ambient organ, before barely a sliver of THE OTHER ONE, under 5 minutes. weir attempts his roger daltrey stutter during AROUND & AROUND.

11/5/79 philadelphia: another CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER opener, garcia really starting to lean into the “i wish i was a headlight” verse. ALTHEA begins 2nd set, lazily slipping over 10-minute mark for 1st time. 78-minute EYES OF THE WORLD > ESTIMATED PROPHET > FRANKLIN’S TOWER > DRUMZ > SPACE > LOST SAILOR > SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE. nearly an hour of jams before DRUMZ hit. rare EYES at the top of the jam sequence throws the other predictable elements into glorious disarray. EYES breaks 20 minutes, new speedy backbeat thumpy & vaguely discoish, dripping into a pro no-count segue into the 7/8 time of ESTIMATED. garcia shifts & everybody follows. lovely to hear FRANKLIN’S in a prime 2nd set slot, soaring up & out into thick & thinning air. SAILOR/SAINT moves into the post-SPACE ballad slot for the 1st time. emotionally weird to hear a sensitive weir tune there, but it works & the crowd eats up the unreleased SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE, which drops almost too naturally into SUGAR MAGNOLIA.

11/6/79 philadelphia: the new ALABAMA GETAWAY, tight & vicious, drops into the show-opener slot for the first time, here moving on the next beat into THE PROMISED LAND, its most frequent pairing in the next years. only JACK-A-ROE of tour leg is bright with dyna-rhodes. prime specimen of the explosive ’79 JACK STRAW with over-the-top tom-tom shoot-outs, dramatic thumps on the bridge, & a big cheer when weir sings his “used to play for silver, now we play for clive” variation. guess clive davis was big in philly? short 2nd set jumps right into the ethereal with TERRAPIN STATION opener, the middle jam more like gathering mist than glowing starlight, but getting back to lovely indeterminacy. prelude to 47-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > BLACK PETER. PLAYING rides upwards on slashing guitars with dive-bombing bumblebee rhodes twinkles. hart moves to hand percussion before miniature garcia/kreutzmann corner. desert-y SPACE & solid BLACK PETER.

11/8/79 landover: 23-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN is modest compared to previous week’s epic & much more upbeat. skittish weir figures under the transition, syncing up on little rhythmic keyboard bursts with brent’s keys deeper into FIRE. 50-minute LOST SAILOR > SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > MORNING DEW. SAILOR/SAINT’s 2nd time in the jam slot isn’t as coherent, drums fizzling into the noodle sea. like many fall ’79 tapes, can hear mickey shouting for/at monitor mixer harry popick. only MORNING DEW of ’79 (& 1st mydland version) is successfully epic, to my very pleasant surprise. 1st since 4/78 & 2nd since 6/77. iffy early on, but it clicks, overflowing with lead bass, garcia’s voice & guitar both hitting the big notes, enormous end.

11/9/79 buffalo: top of 2nd set is A+. glorious 25-minute DANCING IN THE STREET > FRANKLIN’S TOWER. minus the beat, DANCING peaks are very bright & ‘69ish. ace segue via bouncing synth into focused FRANKLIN’S with ferocious rave-up end. garcia remembers all the words, too! 59-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > SPACE > WHARF RAT. instruments fit together well during spacious ESTIMATED. subtle delays on weir’s guitar. amazing what a little reverb will do to make the dyna-rhodes sound good, too. enormous HE’S GONE clicks upwards into a bright & constantly moving jam, never fully settling around a theme that’s not quite GLORIA. echoing SPACE percussion & uncharacteristically melodic bass before locked-in WHARF RAT.

11/10/79 ann arbor: brent’s 1st COLD RAIN & SNOW (weather appropriate, apparently) & 1st HIGH TIME (2nd since 5/77, powerful garcia vocals with the harmonies reshuffled slightly). LOOKS LIKE RAIN intro has a whooshy synth that i think is supposed to be wind/rain? 46-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > BLACK PETER. PLAYING jam works itself into a mild froth. wispy SPACE with occasional keyboard delays & big bass thromps as band settles into NOT FADE AWAY.

11/23/79 san diego: is ALABAMA GETAWAY the most dylanesque garcia/hunter song? made such wonderful sense when dylan covered it during the never-ending tour. weir watch: as 1980 primary season gears up, an announcement that “our drummer back here, billy, would like to announce his candidacy for the highest office of our land… don’t forget to vote for him, so thanks!” 2nd set starts with 21-minute MUSIC NEVER STOPPED > SUGAREE. rare MUSIC opener, the middle jam jams into a moment of indeterminacy & a nice unexpected segue. long SUGAREE gets harsh with weir’s slide guitar, but finds a wonderful gentle pocket when he switches to rhythm. very ’79 sequence, the 4th of the year, with 56-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > BLACK PETER. short but slashing mydland/weir jam after garcia exits early pre-DRUMZ. brief, tantalizing ARP/percussion duo in SPACE before faux-clav & slide-touched NOT FADE AWAY. encore shout-out from weir to “that tall guy over there for bringing us down here,” presumably @billwalton, doing that arms in the air thing.

11/24/79 san diego: last CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER show opener for a few years, starting sleepy but finding a nice lowdown spot mid-jam. the ALABAMA GETAWAY > GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD pairing is my favorite new move. great miniature jam in GREATEST STORY, garcia turning out a beautiful & lyrical solo melody that could almost be its own song. 45-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > LOST SAILOR > SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE > WHARF RAT. soulful moaning lead tones in PLAYING, loping into an easily conversational garcia/kreutzmann-led free space, chased by chattering weir. short SPACE is a moody, cloud-gathering prelude to LOST SAILOR > SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE, unreleased & new to most of the crowd. wish there was more SPACE, but a nice late show set-piece.

11/25/79 UCLA: weir issues stern tempo warning to the drummers before TENNESSEE JED &, indeed, it does come out at something like the just exactly perfect tempo, yielding a nifty curlicue pocket. on 2nd set opening 13-minute SHAKEDOWN STREET, betty’s well-balanced mix highlights everybody equally. great group percolation, the ball bouncing especially between weir & mydland while garcia weaves. jam sort of fizzles confusedly into a deflated BERTHA. 55-minute HE’S GONE > THE OTHER ONE > DRUMZ > SPACE > TRUCKIN’ > STELLA BLUE. abbreviated HE’S GONE compared to other monster fall versions, but OTHER ONE rolls deep & jagged & dense & wooly by ’79 standards. thromping bass-heavy SPACE turns into short, fascinating weir/lesh duo. jam abbreviated when weir ripcords to TRUCKIN’, which lesh has given up singing on, perhaps temporarily but definitely for the best. MIND LEFT BODY-like descent bridges to STELLA BLUE.

11/29/79 cleveland: occasional sound problems. near the start of the 2nd set, the revamped HIGH TIME sounds powerful & heavy in a centerpiece spot, garcia getting inside the vocal, sweet high harmony by mydland, the drummers never overdrumming. 50-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > BLACK PETER. great ESTIMATED, garcia alternating between butterfly shreds & slower phrases to subtle dramatic effect. EYES breaks apart into drones & moans & a short deep jam backed by hand drums.

11/30/79 pittsburgh: lots of not-quite-segues happening on this tour, as if the band finally read a review that joked about their tuning breaks. tonight, 15-minute 1st set-closing DANCING IN THE STREET doesn’t-exactly-tumble into DEAL. 25-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN is front-heavy, which is ace by me, going deep squiggle. super-sleepy TERRAPIN STATION has with bonus mini-jam before last verse & extra-languid starlight transition. could use more twinkling dyna-rhodes. 52-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > LOST SAILOR > SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE > WHARF RAT. slide-sullied PLAYING jam has big piping synth washes & bubbles, reprising in SPACE & turning into sirens. 1st DON’T EASE ME IN encore, a nice change there.

12/1/79 pittsburgh: mellow mood prevails, garcia singing extra-quietly throughout. 17-minute SUGAREE has a variety of spaces, flavorful garcia emerging from B3 solo. mix does mostly decent job masking weir’s slide, which sounds like a wobbly malfunctioning tape track. 67-minute HE’S GONE > C.C. RIDER > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > BLACK PETER. HE’S GONE spirals upwards rises easily, weir dropping into the GLORIA changes & kicking energy up further. prophet-5 solo sounds thin, but garcia joins & spins jam out further with much great invention. a smooth descent lands in the grateful dead debut of blues standard C.C. RIDER, sung by weir. hardly a hot take, but i’m way not into weir’s blues tunes. thankfully, unlike most, this version slips back into nearly 5 minutes of twisting non-blues jamming.

12/3/79 chicago: standard but also excellent* & joyous 27-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN opens 2nd set. drums are less shoes-in-a-dryer & more bouncing superballs. after peak, garcia ends FIRE solo in lower registers. (* except weir’s slide. ew.) 71-minute TERRAPIN STATION > PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > LOST SAILOR > SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE > WHARF RAT > TRUCKIN’. mydland & the dyna-rhodes finally jump into TERRAPIN’s starlight jam with garcia. but, wow, what a sleepy climax. brief PLAYING doesn’t get too far out, though thoroughly enjoyable & subtle conversation bounces between drummers, lesh, mydland, & everybody, really. SPACE charges out of DRUMZ at full speed, briefly thrilling, but folds inwards after 30 seconds or so.

12/4/79 chicago: 2nd set opening CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER is way mellow, drummers laying further back in the pocket than usual. perhaps because of this, the rest of jam feels less lyrical, too, with some confusion as they arrive in RIDER. 67-minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > FRANKLIN’S TOWER > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > STELLA BLUE. i adore FRANKLIN’S in the jam slot, escaping its endless circular groove, drummers surfing, garcia pushing, & turning itself inside out without losing momentum. DRUMZ/SPACE transition is 3 minutes of stereo-panned rhythmic patterns that i briefly thought was ARP. beautiful echo effects & celestial dyna-rhodes. are those actual gongs? gorgeous cymbal mix. NOT FADE AWAY powers into monstrously weird thunder.

12/5/79 chicago: band leans hard on the new songs in the 1st set, playing 5 of the 7 originals that will end up on “go to heaven,” ALABAMA GETAWAY as opener & then 4 in a row to end. SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE feels a bit abrupt as a closer. enjoyable off-mic mickey hart in 1st set: “let’s go back into ALABAMA GETAWAY! let’s close it out with ALABAMA GETAWAY! ALABAMA all night!!”
weir, after GREATEST STORY: we probably won’t get that one right next time, either.
later on – weir: that’s right, practice makes perfect.
garcia: we’re gonna keep practicing ’til we get it perfect.
weir: that’s why they call us the just exactly perfect brothers band. [x/x]
18-minute SHAKEDOWN STREET opens set 2. long vocal exit & longer static bounce for dancers. garcia’s mu-tron tone sometimes hard to distinguish from mydland’s synth. the last chord tumbles into SAMSON & DELILAH, a recent pairing they’ll keep doing. 54-minute HE’S GONE > THE OTHER ONE > DRUMZ > SPACE > BLACK PETER. HE’S GONE feels extra stark, with fewer garcia flourishes/curlicues, & really taking its time, 12 minutes before it even gets to the jam, which heads swiftly & smoothly for THE OTHER ONE. band rushes through both OTHER ONE verses & dissolve, as usual in ’79, but tonight the jams keeps developing, cohering via hand percussion & free drums until suddenly they’re at full speed, then breaking down to sub-bands, musicians coming in/out briefly. beautiful flow into lovely stereo-mixed DRUMZ via some kind of drone/string percussion. it’s all vibey hand percussion, only moving over to the big roto-toms when the band comes back out. BLACK PETER, one day after its 10th birthday, sounds present & dynamic. garcia’s voice & guitar double each other during the “run & see” outro, dropping the words & sort of even scatting a little before a mammoth guitar bridge into a rock medley.

12/7/79 indianapolis: 13-minute CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER opens 2nd set, feeling fresh, with none of the indecision of the weird chicago version. also a reminder that everything makes more sense when the bass is mixed this well. 51-minute EYES OF THE WORLD > LOST SAILOR > SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE > DRUMZ > SPACE > WHARF RAT. wonder of wonders, EYES is at its slower mid-‘70s tempo/feel! i think it’s cuz garcia started from a cold stop, but feels luxurious & ends with floating, swelling conversation. as soon as SAINT ends, the drummers immediately (& somewhat awkwardly) drop the pulse & leave everybody else in an ambient pool that drips into echo-laden DRUMZ.

12/9/79 st. louis: 58-minute TERRAPIN STATION > LOST SAILOR > SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE > DRUMZ > SPACE > BLACK PETER. beautiful starlight transition in TERRAPIN, longest yet i think, garcia & mydland fluttering into nearly weightless BIRD SONG-like territory. surprisingly natural dissolve from unresolved last chord of TERRAPIN into LOST SAILOR intro. mickey (i assume) stays off drum kit for most of the song & plays hand percussion with gently dubby echoes, which sounds really great. again, the drummers drop the rhythmic thread at the end of SAINT, but this time garcia accelerates. by turn, everybody else charges into high energy coda. it peters out, but they re-coalesce into a great kreutzmann-carried jam that descends gradually. DRUMZ builds, recedes, & carries into unusually well-developed & multi-sectioned SPACE, with stray percussion complementing ARP freak-outs. also unusually, everyone is still weirding when garcia slides into patient BLACK PETER.

12/10/79 kansas city, ks: under the “sweet william he is dead” verse of PEGGY-O, unexpected glassy, ethereal volume swells by mydland. 20-minute DANCING IN THE STREET > FRANKLIN’S TOWER. “winter’s here & the time is right,” but not for long. the last DANCING ’til ’81. too bad. half-smooth gearshift into FRANKLIN’S, which doesn’t quite unlock, but drummers find groovy plateau. 50-minute LET IT GROW > HE’S GONE > TRUCKIN’ > DRUMZ > SPACE > WHARF RAT is an old-fashioned sequence that could’ve happened (sort of) in ’73-’74. 2nd LET IT GROW of mydland era, still finding its legs. last peak of TRUCKIN’ is legit mammoth. band in-joke leaks into off-mic commentary during DRUMZ, kreutzmann: “this one’s for bobby, he’s running for president, too!” big SPACE synth washes resolve to pipe organ-like lead-in to WHARF RAT. mydland’s falsetto on JOHNNY B. GOODE is pretty, uh, extra.

12/11/79 kansas city, ks: entire show is deeply enjoyable because of weird ultra-democratic mix, all instruments basically as loud as garcia’s guitar, especially lesh’s bass. it’s pretty glorious! some good off-mic drummerly chatter throughout, too. 59-minute TERRAPIN STATION > LOST SAILOR > SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > BLACK PETER is a bit disjointed but has some brilliant jamming. cool echoed percussion during LOST SAILOR, buried in the psychedelic mix like a studio production. band kersplats on the transition into SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE, leading to half-effective improvised prelude. when song proper ends, drummers drop beat & band tumbles into kinda dinky groove but cohere into floating hippie reggae & eventually a keyboard/drummer jam. BLACK PETER is especially over the top with the new mix, but it sounds that way on stage, too. band empties the tank on rare double-barreled encore closing the tour with the usually show-opening pair of ALABAMA GETAWAY > THE PROMISED LAND.

12/26/79 oakland auditorium arena: big shows all around: a new healy/ultrasound/@MeyerSound PA (with parts of the wall of sound), DIY taper innovations, the unveiling of @SEVA_foundation with wavy gravy & ram dass, the birth of shakedown street (see below), & a late batch of betty cantor-jackson tapes. weir’s C.C. RIDER cover moves to its permanent home, adding blues-rock drag to 1st sets through much of the next decade. hometown debut for ALABAMA GETAWAY fares better. deep nonstop 2nd set led by 82-minute UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > ESTIMATED PROPHET > HE’S GONE > THE OTHER ONE > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > BROKEDOWN PALACE, bookended by bust-outs. 1st UNCLE JOHN’S since 10/77 latches effortlessly back into happy garcia flows during solos, perfect segue. after well-developed ESTIMATED jam, garcia butterflies away & changes channels several times (shaking off lesh’s attempt to segue into HE’S GONE) while band catches up & attempts to re-shape behind him. cool co-leads by weir in places. following the thundery DRUMZ, echo-touched percussion leads into textured (& almost ‘90s-sounding) SPACE, cymbals tapping around feedback & beep-waves & blobs of decoherence. fresh-feeling alien solo variations in the back half of NOT FADE AWAY, swelling & speeding & pulling back kinda awkwardly into 1st BROKEDOWN PALACE since 10/77. rather different with mydland’s high harmony & B3. slightly faster & drummier, too. weir’s chuck berry double-shot feels extraneous, but the 17-minute SHAKEDOWN STREET > UNCLE JOHN’S BAND is just exactly generous. even if it’s more a burp than a segue, it feels like a summation of the new version of the band that solidified on fall tour. 40 years ago tonight, as well, was the unofficial birth of shakedown street, the vending/camping bazaar outside grateful dead shows. lots of big offstage action during the 1979 new year’s run, which i wrote about extensively in “heads.”

12/27/79 oakland auditorium arena: notably short 1st set, barely 45 minutes, a taste of days to come. BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE (with 12-beat intro) is mydland’s 1st. for a few minutes, currently the warlocks. 1st bay area CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER since ’77. 52-minute EYES OF THE WORLD > LOST SAILOR > SAINT OF CIRCUMSTANCE > DRUMZ > SPACE > BLACK PETER. once again, garcia starts EYES from a clean break & once again it’s a nice chill tempo. doesn’t travel far (or segue well) but the conversation feels substantial & thoughtful. SAINT ends almost cleanly & after a pause everyone takes off jamming again, nearly 8 minutes of high-speed conversation, going back into SAINT briefly (sort of). when garcia exits, mydland/weir/lesh stay engaged & keep improvising on thick new dyna-rhodes-driven changes. during quiet parts of DRUMZ, mickey’s nagging of weir & monitor mixer harry popick come through the PA on audience tape. thought that was only a soundboard thing! bells & cymbals continue into short SPACE as lesh & weir (i think) layer on old-fashioned feedback & squalls.  2nd encore is BROKEDOWN PALACE, 2nd version in 2 days after being revived the previous night & it’s much tighter already. i don’t think anyone was complaining. garcia sounds great. hearing mydland’s voice in the mix is still weird, though.

12/28/79 oakland auditorium arena: beautiful SUGAREE opens with lush weir colors before & after atrocious slide. after listening to a bunch of HIGH TIME ’69, it’s striking how differently garcia occupies the song a decade later. different highs, different times. 50-minute TERRAPIN STATION > PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > UNCLE JOHN’S BAND. satisfying multi-section 17-minute PLAYING. weir & mydland dive into descending pattern that sets tone for high-energy jam that’s never quite predictable. deep in jam, weir uses slide with delay pedal & sounds alright. love all the beautiful bells (or little gongs?) that continue to show up DRUMZ as well as whoever seems to making shapes tonight on a pennywhistle. UNCLE JOHN’S doesn’t grow naturally from SPACE, but the ending is peak ’79 energy.

12/30/79 oakland auditorium arena: another short 1st set, contiguous & not-that-long 2nd set. 20-minute SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN reaches deep during SCARLET especially, garcia honing in on new space, switching over to rhythm for a moment, as if claiming it. 44-minute LET IT GROW > DRUMZ > SPACE > TRUCKIN’ > WHARF RAT. LET IT GROW dances through high-speed garcia/mydland needlework before winding down. hand percussion under SPACE swirls, garcia edging on middle eastern modes before good noise swells. after yet another chuck berry oldies twofer by weir to close 2nd set, garcia takes over encore & offers a much more elegant way to finish a show with DON’T EASE ME IN / BROKEDOWN PALACE double-shot.

12/31/79 oakland auditorium arena: after JACK STRAW opener, 16-minute FRANKLIN’S TOWER is perfect for the ratcheted-up new year’s energy, garcia surfing & soaring through sing-song melodies while heads dance into the ‘80s. 2nd set starts at midnight with SUGAR MAGNOLIA & bill graham descending from the rafters in a butterfly costume with stealies on the wings. SUNSHINE DAYDREAM will bookend the 3rd set, a classic new year’s move. straightforward show, chaotic mood. only jam is 3rd set 50-minute UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > DRUMZ > SPACE > NOT FADE AWAY > STELLA BLUE. UNCLE JOHN’S is keyed up, too, outro unfolding into triumphant mutant inversions & melts. hand-DRUMZ-y SPACE is pretty much NFA from the start, slowly cohering.

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

#deadfreaksunite 1969

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

#deadfreaksunite 1969
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.

1/17/69 santa barbara: with santana at a long-mysterious venue. 17-minute TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT opener starting to space just slightly. pig’s a bit slurry at the start, but he & band really starting to click on moves between sections. garcia & lesh get with the pretty locked-in riffs. 2 box back nitties cues. with this begins the 6-year golden age of DARK STAR suites where virtually everything is reliably magical, here a 44-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY. during 13-minute DARK STAR, mickey (i think) hits tom-tom accents during 2nd jam, but still no kits. TC’s organ is (as will be the usual) barely audible, sometimes floating through as vague but pleasing ambience. DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY is starting to get spare & gothic, a song i never quite appreciated fully until @amirbarlev’s @LongStrangeDoc. pretty sure pigpen kept playing organ on this one. 26-minute THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE > COSMIC CHARLIE. 8-minute OTHER ONE with 3D pre-verse nebula. 1st dead version of COSMIC CHARLIE after the hartbeats’ 10/68 debut. raw & unnecessarily complicated comix-y fun. hard not to see mr. natural in title role.

1/18/69 los angeles:  the grateful dead occupy playboy after dark & allegedly dose the coffee urn & hef’s pepsi with LSD, a story i’d believe slightly more if any of the dosed ever told it. aired in july ’69. at a fake playboy mansion, jer raps with hef & the dead play 3 songs not yet on their albums. a studio set with “books not even worth stealing,” according to TC. “that’s the big one up there at night,” sez jerry, introducing MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON & looking fuzzy without his glasses. beautiful, thoroughly baroque, & totally hifalutin (or just totally high) acoustic/harpsichord version, with weir on 12-string. ST. STEPHEN edited heavily & TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT in background under the credits. both play more like ‘60s montages than actual performances. fun crowd shots. does maybe seem like a real party is starting?

1/23/69 avalon ballroom (rehearsal): run-through of THE ELEVEN 3 days before the “live/dead” take. apparently, someone’s taken TC outside & gotten him stoned. DUPREE’S DIAMOND BLUES rehearsal the day before its proper debut has full drums, closer to the later versions.

1/24/69 avalon ballroom: early set opens with 30-minute THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE > NEW POTATO CABOOSE. increasingly rare CABOOSE never clicks. vocals frayed, awkward bass solo, jam in 13 doesn’t fly. whole night slightly too ragged for live album. earliest live taped versions of 2 “aoxomoxoa” songs: DUPREE’S DIAMOND BLUES & DOIN’ THAT RAG. pig plays harmonica on DUPREE’S, threading it to the jug band. RAG has tasty jerry outro. i adore this early garcia/hunter period, surrealism similar to the scene’s posters/comix. 19-minute standalone DARK STAR opens late set. cloud-bursting post-verse jam peaks with dense bass leads, cymbal action, & nifty inverted rhythms by weir. TC’s circus organ still buried except when band gets quiet. garcia pops string, aborts 2nd verse, jams more, tries again. TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT missing song verses, mostly just garcia shreds. at one point, voices cheer in swells, just off mic. plug gets pulled (or power fails) & pig continues mic-less: “fuck it.” total hippie chaos ensues. chants, incoherence, DRUMZ, etc. the 3 shows are also the reopening of the avalon ballroom by a new family dog splinter group, the somewhat ironically named soundproof productions. for a dose of the san francisco ’69 DIY scene politics.

1/25/69 avalon ballroom: occasionally off-kilter mix, irresistible music. getting right to it, set 1 is 52-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. TC’s organ is way overdriven in places & sounds boss but too loud. late show begins with the 2nd proper versions of the 3 newest songs, all well improved over their debut takes, especially COSMIC CHARLIE, buoyant & exuberant. funny that it recycles “hung up waiting for a windy day” from ALLIGATOR. of early dead tunes, ALLIGATOR may’ve undergone the most wee tweaks in sections/lyrics/parts/tempos, now with kinda goofy vocal jam. 22-minute ALLIGATOR > CAUTION > BID YOU GOODNIGHT greeted with enthusiasm. weir & pig take solo vocal lines during closer.

1/26/69 avalon ballroom: stoned crosstalk as band gets ready, lesh quoting REVOLUTION 9. 1st set is 37-minute THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE > CLEMENTINE > DEATH DON’T HAVE MERCY. mix is borked ’til midway into OTHER ONE. garcia immolates during CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT outro. last known CLEMENTINE, lesh/hunter moodiness forgotten ’til resurfacing in the ‘90s. 1st since 2/68 & rewritten. REVOLUTION 9 callback during new quiet section earns laughs from crowd. listen as the song disappears from memory during segue into DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY. TC has no swing whatsoever, but he sounds convincingly psychedelic on CLEMENTINE. nor does not he have an ominous blues setting, playing organ on this take of DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY, a task he will be relieved of soon. late set is 40-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. perhaps playing to the 16-track (& LP side limitations) 10-minute DARK STAR is shorter than recent takes. it’s a solid edit, garcia glides through episodes quickly/dramatically in 2nd half. ST. STEPHEN slightly rough in places, but then band turns corner into just-exactly-perfection, even the vocals, with both THE ELEVEN & LOVELIGHT at full snarling speed, & soon constituting a side-and-a-half of “live/dead.”  listened to this LOVELIGHT gazillions of times but never noticed phil singing off-mic response vocals during the 2nd verse ’til just now. great version that moves quickly from idea to idea, landing naturally at big finale. phil: “and leave it on!!”

2/2/69 minneapolis: the opening of new psychedelic venue. local band blackwood apology leads off with rock opera “house of leather.” 90-minute set is band’s archetypal “compact” approach when coming to a new town, with long pigpen rave-ups bookending psychedelic suites. crowd not buying at first. walk-outs & heckles. lesh & garcia heckle back. jerry: “we come all the way across the country & leave the comfort & beauty of california & come out in the cold miserable rain & snow & what do we get? people who can’t dig it. too weird!!” garcia pretty much rips into 16-minute DARK STAR, which is charged & beautiful, with early feedback clouds, aggressive for a song with only hand percussion. 20 more sharp minutes of ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY, with ugly tape cuts. TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT entering its own golden age, with rolling pigologues deep inside the groove while the band turns effortless corners & surfs weird pockets atop circular double drumming. the 1st reference to “pocket pool,” i guess?

2/4/69 omaha: a small club on their first trip to omaha. opening act was the unknown, from st. louis. another night of the dead getting hassled. garcia heckling a heckler: “hey far out man. this is too much. this is the lamest trip we’ve been taken on in our entire career, absolutely the lamest.” people calling requests, too. off-mic, garcia suggests MORNING DEW. phil: “is that what somebody wants to hear?” jerry: “it’s what *i* want to hear.” weir, getting in tune: “close enough for progressive rock…” tight, powerful DEW follows. 37-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY. tape is sped up, making DARK STAR sound particularly strident. DEATH DON’T remains extra-atmospheric, pigpen back on organ, though cut-off again. 36-minute CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT > THE OTHER ONE > ALLIGATOR > DRUMZ > CAUTION. 1st taped instance of band dropping the CRYPTICAL epilogue, someone onstage calling an audible, a nice move. drummers use chant for reentry before action-packed CAUTION. gets to deep blissful spot, turns noisy & atmospheric while pig is still singing, reforms, peaks, & zooms off the rails. tape cuts out mid-feedback.

2/5/69 kansas city, ks: first visit to kansas, opening for the iron butterfly. missing TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT opener & dropping right into the suites, mainly a fantastic 44-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > CAUTION > BID YOU GOODNIGHT. beautiful gliding DARK STAR, but the more pummeling jams win the day & audience. a perfect shift into pretty ragin’ CAUTION. pig’s section is short. garcia & weir sing long drone tones over feedback before short screamo vocal jam. a cool development in the post-CAUTION meltdown is TC matching garcia/weir/lesh’s feedback with organ drones. friendly ovation early in BID YOU GOODNIGHT. crowd gets into it. long version, garcia hitting the weird lines about the child-eating beast.

2/6/69 st. louis: st. louis debut, their 2nd night opening for the iron butterfly. MORNING DEW is prelude to 50-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. fantastic shimmering peak to DARK STAR with lead bass & chiming weir, along with twisting garcia threads. LOVELIGHT only sort of gels. the dead get some extra time & burn through THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE, exiting upwards into feedback (TC leaning on the organ, phil looking for melodies) & into BID YOU GOODNIGHT, earning a nice reception.

2/7/69 pittsburgh: incredibly heavy triple bill of the grateful dead, the velvet underground, & the fugs, each playing an early & late show, MC’d by paul krassner. 48-minute early set is DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. typically lovely neon skywriting in DARK STAR. power failure almost kills flow before fluid & bombastic THE ELEVEN. LOVELIGHT scrambles midway & never fully ignites. late show capped by half-hour ALLIGATOR > CAUTION > BID YOU GOODNIGHT that peaks as much as ambles. cooking CHINA CAT squigglies after drum break & gradual float before CAUTION. feedback starts conversational & dissolves slowly. handy overview of the checkered relationship between the ex-warlocks.

2/11/69 fillmore east: early & late shows opening for janis joplin, her post-big brother NYC debut. maybe because they’re sharing a bill with janis, early show is blues-heavy. 1st taped KING BEE since ’66, a pigpen standard for the next 3 years. the debut of the short-lived pig-sung HEY JUDE. charming but silly, especially the nah-nahing coda. late set begins as mickey presents bill graham with the cowbell that graham played on the night he “became part of the grateful dead,” aka when the dead dosed him & graham jammed. “welcome to the band, bubby,” mickey says. a monster late show, 1st time adding new acoustic songs to front of suite, a powerful sequencing with quiet transition to electricity. 54-minute MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON > DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > DRUMZ > CAUTION > BID YOU GOODNIGHT. middle DARK STAR jams fully conversational, phrases & ideas spread between musicians, TC starting to get into the weave, often punctuated by garcia soaring over the top with a crystal lead.  garcia keeps pulling out peaks in CAUTION. they even earn an encore, far from the usual in early ’69. big ’n’ bright COSMIC CHARLIE, particularly violent tape cut after 2 minutes.

2/12/69 fillmore east: missing the beginning, 34 minutes of DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY. pro deceleration into ultra-quiet DEATH DON’T. big reception from NYC heads afterwards. 32-minute ALLIGATOR > CAUTION > BID YOU GOODNIGHT has the most sustained bliss of the set, big jams swelling/receding after the drum break, basslines pulling cool harmonies from garcia’s wilding. CAUTION hovers at the edge of chaos after the vocals, splitting open methodically & surrendering to chaos. feedback codas developing a nice arc with miniature episodes, here cosmic TC noise blurps “peak” with garcia’s volume swell melodies.

2/14/69 philadelphia: the 1st of 2 nights at the original electric factory. 53 minutes of DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. even with beginning cut, DARK STAR is longer than usual, garcia extra-lit & lyrical throughout. the 2nd set is probably missing some parts afterwards after the DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY ending, but i’m really starting to see why it was such a band favorite, a quiet/spacious non-pigpen landing after a good freakout.

2/15/69 philadelphia: fantastic show start to finish. new songs really clicking, beginning with opening DOIN’ THAT RAG, with a few nice lyric variations. surprisingly assertive & worked-out harmonica part by pigpen throughout COSMIC CHARLIE. only time, i think? big cheer for MORNING DEW, its 1st time punctuating a big psychedelic suite. set-closing TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT with long early stretch of archetypal explosive garcia blues breathlessness while conversations spin behind him. 2nd set flow exquisitely, beginning with 49-minute MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON > DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY. during MOUNTAINS garcia solos confidently on acoustic right up til switching off. 1st DARK STAR to crack 20 minutes, though could be ‘cuz garcia pops a string & disappears for 4 minutes, resulting in a lush weir/lesh/TC jam. nice window on weir’s playing, which is great. jazzy, spacious, & filled with strange movements & occasional lead flourishes. 47-minute ALLIGATOR > CAUTION > BID YOU GOODNIGHT also stretches extra-wide & extra-gnarly. instrumental BID YOU GOODNIGHT jam acts as bridge into CAUTION & prelude to beautiful set-closing vocal version. big cheers. grateful thanks from garcia.

2/19/69 fillmore west: part of an acid test-like event called the celestial synapse, with an appropriately weird & anarchic tape (often misdated 6/19/68). icky buzzes ’til midway through sloppy 35-minute TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT > NOT FADE AWAY > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. 1st recorded NOT FADE AWAY since ’66. pigpen sings 1st line & weir takes rest, doing it in the choppy ’66 arrangement, ala the stones. tape rolls during break. naked tripping commune leader raps. audience oms for 22 minutes, led by stephen gaskin, later leader of the farm. various heads (& kids?) take mic, babble over om, jam on dead’s percussion. stage takeover, chanting. fascinating field recording. 2nd set is fantastic & ranging 47-minute jam, slowly coalescing into 1st version of THE MAIN TEN (the theme that would become the PLAYING IN THE BAND intro), a vivid DARK STARish episode, unidentified flying shapes, & OTHER ONE variations.

2/21/69 vallejo: luxurious 73-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. thrilling new episode in DARK STAR, the sputnik jam spiraling into an overdriven garcia peak with busy movement & the drummers shifting to their kits. the longest version of THE ELEVEN, i think, just over 20 minutes. doesn’t necessarily go many new places (garcia once called the song a “trap”), surfing the big strange groove because they can & maybe practicing for the live album they’re recording next week. during deep-pocketed TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT, maybe the only time i’ve ever heard pigpen refer to himself in the 3rd person. as in, “wake up, ‘cause the pig is hungry.” MORNING DEW to close.

2/22/69 vallejo: trying new setlist tweaks at out-of-town gig. powerful 54-minute MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON > DARK STAR > THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE > DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY. 22-minute DARK STAR turns alien after the sputnik jam again, making cover for cool drum entrance. 2nd set has 56-minute DOIN’ THAT RAG > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. another extra-long THE ELEVEN (as per usual this month, seems), with dug-in bass solo.

2/27/69 fillmore west: can hear how amazing the sound quality is during a few of the tech breaks during the early show as the stage creaks in stereo. love the sound of garcia counting off songs with reverberating boot stomps. delightfully high garcia banter, better heard: “it’s really too weird up here, man, it really is… beyond the pale.” my favorite part, off-mic, “beyond the fuckin’ pale.” then, a stomp into the perfect THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE. great dynamics, packed with mini jams. the late show (following sets by sir douglas quintet & pentangle) begins after 1 in the morning on a thursday night. DUPREE’S DIAMOND BLUES sets up 56-minute MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON > DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. DARK STAR glows from the start, all the episodes developed over the past year & even the past week combine for perhaps the single classic take. also a break through: for 1st time, kreutzmann adds exquisite whispered drums from early on, going in/out as song peaks/recedes. (a pretty astounding comparison of the 4 different mixes of the 2/27/69 dark star.) TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT has a few idyllic “goin’ to the country” references but, more, a document of pigpen getting confident in pushing his vocal tics between speaking & singing with band improvising with him. hey, maybe the all-time COSMIC CHARLIE, too?

2/28/69 fillmore west: their 2nd night of 4 with sir douglas quintet & pentangle, each playing early/late sets. early show is pigpen special, getting 3 tunes. long late set introduced by bill graham: “the last of the gay desperados…” 19-minute THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE is prelude to 53-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY. epic 20-minute DARK STAR moves away from pulse after the 1st verse, disintegrating after the sputnik jam & out into quietly swinging weir/lesh/kreutzmann space jazz (hart on guiro) before garcia enters quietly & builds back towards song. mickey shoots off small cannon during ST. STEPHEN. drums fade entirely halfway through THE ELEVEN while everybody else keeps ripping, then return. sounds great. jam digs in deep. conversational flows. 39-minute ALLIGATOR > CAUTION > BID YOU GOODNIGHT. fantastic ambient vibrations by TC during post-CAUTION feedback. mickey shoots cannon again. noise-squelched BID YOU GOODNIGHT. “goodnight from all the electronic mice,” sez jer.

3/1/69 fillmore west: bill graham introduces the band, “the american version of the japanese film ‘the magnificent seven’…” whole early show is deliberate 44-minute suite. no real jams to connect the songs, just short purposeful pauses. last recorded THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE > NEW POTATO CABOOSE combo, as paired on “anthem of the sun.” bass-led 13s jam in NEW POTATO is fuzzyblissy, before a peaceful crossfade to DOIN’ THAT RAG & COSMIC CHARLIE. garcia, before the late show, charmingly, “hey, this is gonna be good, you guys!” (collective band laughter, but he’s right!) bill graham: “the great high hope…” & band starts into an hour of purposefully sequenced music, beginning with DUPREE’S DIAMOND BLUES. 58-minute MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON > DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. DARK STAR is bolder by the night. kreutzmann’s drums enter subtly, cymbals first, under dense conversation & vanish again. spiky sputnik meltdown & resolution before 2nd verse. ST. STEPHEN has mickey’s cannon & a good cosmic aside by weir, “except in california.” garcia/drummers jam leads into LOVELIGHT, which hits weave. TC starting to fit in. his playing isn’t bluesy but colors the jam under pig’s raps in a very deady way. encore is the 2nd & final HEY JUDE, lost ’til the ‘90s. this time, the 1st half is tentative & it’s the coda that works, achieving primal liftoff with gang chorus (& presumably a singalong) with garcia shredding.

3/2/69 fillmore west: hard to tell what’s happening, but i think bill graham comes out to introduce the band, garcia declares “free turf!” & launches into 57-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT, the entirety of the early show. another night, another amazing & sensitive 20-minute DARK STAR. kreutzmann’s cymbal-masked drum entrance in the post-verse jam is starting to solidify. natural feeling TC organ runs. sputnik episode deconstructs into jagged secret codes. “help, help we need some organized minds up here,” garcia begs before late show. DOIN’ THAT RAG showing signs of developing jam. way powerful 34-minute THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE > DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY, the latter perfect from the start & chosen for “live/dead.”  54-minute ALLIGATOR > CAUTION > BID YOU GOODNIGHT takes its sweet time getting to CAUTION with slow deliberate bass jam. a showstopping combo since ’67 (& on “anthem of the sun”), ALLIGATOR > CAUTION becomes a rarity after this. post-CAUTION feedback highlighted by sublime minute-long volume swell coda by garcia, on “live/dead” along with BID YOU GOODNIGHT, which cuts on master after 36 seconds. beautifully sung, but too bad they didn’t have a full take with all the verses.

3/15/69 san francisco hilton: on phil lesh’s 29th birthday, the grateful dead at the black & white symphony ball at the san francisco hilton, annual benefit for the SF symphony. weir’s mom was on the entertainment committee. short charming onstage soundcheck, all band members conversing with owsley. show opens with debut of otis redding’s 1968 hit HARD TO HANDLE, sung by pigpen. both pig & band almost have grip on song, equally feeling their ways through the jam. 58-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. mushy tape, but i think both drummers come in midway through 15-minute DARK STAR for the 1st time, soaring in through big garcia note cloud, only fading during final chorus.

3/28/69 modesto: 54-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY. long DARK STAR takes 15 minutes before drums enter. tom toms flare briefly, dissolving & reforming several graceful times behind garcia’s guitar. band aborts set break after realizing they only have a little time. ken babbs or some other weirdo jabbers & 22-minute THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE ensues. CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT’s reprise rushes past peak into chiming coda, woozy climax, & feedback landing.

3/29/69 las vegas: las vegas debut & only show there ’til ’81. rare mickey talk. “the next thing we’re going to do is something we wrote especially for the ice palace here in las vegas, we wrote it this morning.” cue 50-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. 15-minute DARK STAR feels particularly forceful, with big bold lines over the pre-verse jam, & a spiky (even icy) post-sputnik disintegration near the very end that phil leads back towards prettiness as drums swing quietly. signs of a budding head scene in las vegas, 2 years before hunter s. thompson’s arrival, though the promoter was apparently a san francisco computer programmer, temporarily in las vegas for work.

4/4/69 avalon ballroom: the dead’s last weekend at the avalon ballroom, freak staple since ’66, with the flying burrito brothers & aum. perhaps already influenced by sneaky pete’s pedal steel with the burrito bros., garcia plays slide guitar during the intro to THE OTHER ONE. mega-allmansy 1st 90 seconds or so. very present TC throughout 22-minute TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT, doing his best to get funky, with mixed results. cool & confident atonal organ burps. more slide guitar by garcia. 40-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN. after intro, DARK STAR locks on jaunty shaker/guiro groove & kreutzmann’s drums enter before vocals for 1st time. post-verse rides brighter, drums accenting sputnik jam before disintegration into gongs, space, & resolution. nice stereo drum mix, good for untangling drum parts on ST. STEPHEN & what’s happening as they spool into THE ELEVEN, kreutzmann in the left channel & hart in the right, & eventually break apart into chaos & noise to close the show.

4/5/69 avalon ballroom: 1st set is the psychedelic special, DUPREE’S DIAMOND BLUES as prelude to 46-minute MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON > DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT, now the third time they’ve played this whole sequence. 17-minute DARK STAR has bold post-verse garcia lines. kreutzmann finds an entrance point, taps a cymbal for a bit, & eventually drums come in for spell, exiting just as naturally. quiet/savage harmonic weirding by garcia before double-drummer swell into 2nd verse. attention “william tell” truthers (including the person who labeled this recording): here’s a version of ST. STEPHEN with the “william tell” ending that jumps right to TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT with no sign of THE ELEVEN until they actually play it in the 2nd set. after the fantastic berserker early versions of COSMIC CHARLIE, band has slowed it waaaaay down, & i can’t say it’s working super well vocally or otherwise. 1st taped CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER in a year, debuted in early ’68, set aside for some reason, & revived for “aoxomoxoa.” less manic & a l’il stiff, but garcia’s solo instantly blooms into the familiar CHINA CAT jam. awkward modulation to DOIN’ THAT RAG, now with vocal reprise. end of CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT downshifts with astonishing smoothness into THE ELEVEN & accelerates from there. jam opens up into the return of the garcia-sung IT’S A SIN, played by the hartbeats in ’68, pigpen on harmonica.“whaddya wanna hear that’ll last 10 minutes?” garcia asks, which results in 20-minute ALLIGATOR > BID YOU GOODNIGHT with drum interlude, dense feedback, bells, volume swell melodies, organ whistles. wonder how “sound proof productions” did with all that.

4/6/69 avalon ballrom: 1st proper date since late ’68 with no DARK STAR. weir asks for requests. 1st recorded BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE since 3/68 & 1st IT’S ALL OVER NOW BABY BLUE since 12/66, slowed down & lovely. “what else do you wanna hear that we used to do?” garcia asks. deep DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY, fantastic guitar tone & stark responsive organ by pigpen. more third person from pig during TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT: “tell ‘em pig said it was okay.” 1st VIOLA LEE BLUES since early ’68. big cheers. smashing until after 1st jam’s big peak when the amps go out. “somebody’s trying to tell us something,” observes weir before vocal/drums reprise. farewell, avalon ballroom!

4/11/69 tucson: the grateful dead begin a 2-week cross-country tour with their only ever gig in tucson, at a WPA auditorium. again coming out of THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE, a restrained & spacious IT’S A SIN with pigpen’s harmonica getting nearly equal billing with garcia’s guitar/vocals. more garcia slide on HARD TO HANDLE, getting tighter. 50-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT, with gaps in middle. after jamming on it in february, THE MAIN TEN (future PLAYING IN THE BAND intro) arrives during the DARK STAR drum swell. TC dials in the swirls.

4/12/69 salt lake city: the dead play utah for the 1st time, at the student ballroom, presented by the students for a democratic society. an early & late show.weir’s yellow dog joke, his perennial tech break time killer, makes its on-tape debut in two parts, with GOOD MORNING LITTLE SCHOOLGIRL in the middle. pigpen charmingly hijacks all the punchlines. “you don’t have to laugh. nobody does.” HE WAS A FRIEND OF MINE, always rare (at least on tape), returns to the rotation & jams out for the 1st time, crossing 10 minutes as garcia’s fuzzy curlicues spiral upwards & back to a whisper. opening the late show, 54-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. as drums become more fixed part of DARK STAR, new spaces emerging, like garcia’s alien toned extrapolation, here backing off to give extra jam space to TC. garcia brings slide over to LOVELIGHT. also some gonging. nice drums/guitar breakdowns. one rap culminates in a solid mid-song grunt-fest. gettin’ freaky in mormon country. jam lands into feedback session but tape cuts out after a minute.

4/13/69 boulder: 25-minute (& incomplete) TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT opens & takes its sweet time warming up, building to pigpen crowd work to get the vibe on for the evening. a mellow contrast with the busy show-closing version the night before. 54-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY. stunning 24-minute DARK STAR with harsh gap during post-verse acceleration. kreutzmann rides cymbal for a bit before bringing in kit for swingin’ bliss jams with garcia, lesh, & weir. breakthrough! while still totally shredding, THE ELEVEN is relaxed, almost laidback, getting quiet in the middle. sweet landing into DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY, perfect dynamic & delightful quiet guitar tones. after almost 2 hours, band takes set break. 14 minutes of ALLIGATOR, with a short garcia/drummers jam, chanting, peaks, & BID YOU GOODNIGHT theme before the tape cuts off.

4/15/69 omaha: presented by radio free omaha. compact HARD TO HANDLE opener effective in new role as pigpen icebreaker, as are a few familiar songs from their first album, including recently-returned BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE, confident & driving. another great CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER again downshifts haltingly into DOIN’ THAT RAG, its most frequent destination for the next little while. 27-minute set-closing TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT starting to hit marathon proportions, wee bit tiring here. apparently revived a few days previous, 1st taped SITTIN’ ON TOP OF THE WORLD in over a year, the old reliable post-jugband zig-zagger, pretty much unchanged since ’66. love this groove. 29 fuzzy minutes of DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN before tape runs out. strident garcia throughout. TC comes alive, leaning into organ noise & adding blossoming crystal infinities under garcia arpeggios. quick MAIN TEN theme before 2nd verse.

4/17/69 st. louis: outdoors. tape begins with lost dog announcement & promoter introduction, kreutzmann & hart’s intro dictated by weir: “thumpy & dropstick on drums.” HARD TO HANDLE opener with lyrical garcia slide. “i understand this is tornado weather,” weir says, almost excited. 50-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > IT’S A SIN > ST. STEPHEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. dramatic kreutzmann drum entrance in DARK STAR, riding cymbal under feedback/gong, snare snapping in just as garcia starts lyrical solo, the whole jam growing ever more conversational. 1st split-open ST. STEPHEN replaces the “ladyfinger” bridge with IT’S A SIN with pigpen harmonica spotlights. clever, but a little bit of a momentum killer. after the “william tell” ending, they again skip THE ELEVEN, upshifting into LOVELIGHT. after 23-minute THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE they segue perfectly into CAUTION, which ends after 49 seconds. “they’re taking our road manager to jail if we play any longer, so fuck you…” says phil to the fuzz. more polite so-longs from other band members.

4/18/69 lafayette: indiana debut. experimentalist george stavis opened. wonder if he & garcia interacted? nice spooky film soundtrack playing as band tunes up. no real jam suite, just a smooth & apparently spontaneous phil led segue out of CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT into another groovy SITTIN’ ON TOP OF THE WORLD. another marathon 27-minute TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. the 1st taped BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE with flexible intro count, 13 beats.

4/20/69 worcester: rescheduled from 4/19. rahsaan roland kirk pulled a gun & demanded to headline. as the band sets up, garcia: “last time we were here, it was a colossal disaster, this time it’ll be worse.” weir: “we gotta start with something good to make it bad.” (apparently it involved multiple power outages.) 44-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY. muffled tom toms accent DARK STAR middle before sputnik jam draws in cymbals & pivots briefly to flaring chaos. as 2nd verse is about to drop, garcia adds soft, beautiful melodic thread. acoustic DUPREE’S DIAMOND BLUES & MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON close the set, their 1st time not serving as prelude to DARK STAR & co.. MOUNTAINS gets a short outro solo.

4/21/69 boston: set 1 closes with 22-minute ALLIGATOR > DOIN’ THAT RAG, connected by drum break, garcia/drumzers jam, garcia/lesh/kreutzmann segment, & BID YOU GOODNIGHT theme. garcia keeps turning it around & uses it as half-effective bridge into DOIN’ THAT RAG. short FOXEY LADY tune-up noodle opens 2nd set, instigated by garcia/hart/lesh, i think. 66-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. glassy glockenspiel chatter by hart before/during sputnik jam during DARK STAR. brief drums. revived VIOLA LEE BLUES sounding a l’il woozy (or maybe just out of tune) as the encore, though gets better as it goes, finally blowing out into feedback with gonging, garcia leads, more glockenspiel, & TC organ colors before the tape cuts out.

4/22/69 boston: band maybe starting to realize the value of lead with familiar songs, opening 1st set with the recently revived SITTIN’ ON TOP OF THE WORLD & 3 others from the 1st album. they sort of take requests. monitor hassles & feedback-laced DUPREE’S DIAMOND BLUES, then extra-long 81-minute MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON > DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. 4th & final time band played this 6-song full-set sequence & a rare repeated setlist. lush 27-minute DARK STAR is longest yet, 9 minutes pre-verse, with quiet drum episode. after pause for mickey’s gong, kreutzmann jumps on kit & everyone surfs. following sputnik jam, lesh hints at CAUTION, band goes abstract, lands drumless, & peaks again before verse 2. 29-minute TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT is also the longest yet, getting into band improv, including nice zapped-out garcia & swelling CAUTION jam before final vocal reprise. someone popped a string & sounds like end of show is missing.

4/23/69 boston: a legend-cementing show in boston to close a 3-night midweek run at the ark & begin a new era of setlist hijinks. garcia: “this guy’s gonna make a little speech…”  promoter: “monday night i didn’t know how to introduce the people up here, because i’d never heard them live, [now] i know even better. this is the best fucking rock & roll band in the whole world…” floating HE WAS A FRIEND OF MINE opens. someone requests MORNING DEW. “no,” says garcia to general laughter. requester responds inaudibly. garcia, droll: “fuck you.” phil: “you gotta stick around to hear MORNING DEW.” jerry: “yeah, ’til morning. ha, ha, ha,” & counts off… well-plotted 47-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > IT’S A SIN > ST. STEPHEN > THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE > SITTIN’ ON TOP OF THE WORLD. only hand percussion ’til 2/3 into 21-minute DARK STAR. little cloud of abstract wilding after the sputnik jam. harsh tape flip midway, but ST. STEPHEN drops “william tell” end for 1st time, bridging right to CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT. loving the happy bounce of SITTIN’ ON TOP OF THE WORLD as a destination in the jam suite. garcia accedes to request & MORNING DEW opens set 2. big cheers. 48-minute ALLIGATOR > DRUMZ > JAM > THE ELEVEN > CAUTION > BID YOU GOODNIGHT. rare flying mid-jam segue into THE ELEVEN. an audible, i think. drummers cue time signature change with joint pattern. band hits rising chords without single-note figure usually used as pivot. extra-long 17-minute THE ELEVEN with mega-tight post-verse shred jam that turns into a gradual deconstruction into CAUTION by way of melodic garcia & lesh dialogues, a BID YOU GOODNIGHT theme that edges into MOUNTAIN JAM, & more. CAUTION is fantastic, too, peaking big & folding back in half-time for more pigpen, with sweet garcia volume-swells. glockenspiel floats through feedback before BID YOU GOODNIGHT. crowd going just absolutely bananas for encore on a wednesday night in boston. drummers tease at NOT FADE AWAY, but IT’S ALL OVER NOW, BABY BLUE. over-emotive garcia leans into it, starting to turn into a great singer. maybe it’s the new monitor system.

4/25/69 chicago: the battle of the ex-warlocks. 1st of infamous 2 nights with the velvet underground & detroit band SRC. conflicting stories. based on the tape, i have a new theory. popular version is that the velvet underground played an extra-long opening set, leaving the dead only an hour, & that the dead opened 2nd night & retaliated. doug yule tells it several ways: but the tape says… strangely humdrum. 5 of the 6 songs are covers. pigpen gets 2/3 of the mic time. can see serious R&B-head lou reed deeply not digging this. no hint of jams/psychedelia/weirding. forceful 23-minute TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. after LOVELIGHT, weir announces “we’re gonna come back & do a 2nd set in a little while & we’re gonna bring on 2 other real good bands & they’ll blow your minds anyway…” so, based on that… i think the shows were scheduled fillmore-style, alternating acts, with early & late sets for each. on night 1, the dead opened & the velvets played so long that the dead couldn’t do a late set, which (in turn) the dead did to the VU the next night.

4/26/69 chicago: night 2 of the formerly-the-warlocks battle with the velvet underground, in which the dead take their revenge. after the velvet underground blew through the dead’s late set the night before, the dead do the same to the velvet underground. a firsthand report, culled from ye olde dead.net. 21-minute MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON > CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > DOIN’ THAT RAG. only taped instance of an acoustic/electric transition after MOUNTAINS into anything besides DARK STAR. a nice alt-universe suite, even if it’s barely a segue into DOIN’ THAT RAG. 25-minute CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT > THE OTHER ONE > THE ELEVEN > THE OTHER ONE > IT’S A SIN. maybe ‘cuz of impending segue, OTHER ONE is one of 1st to turn inside out, imperceptible A+ time signature shifts. quick 2nd verse, using CRYPTICAL tag as a transition. back-to-back revivals by weir, 1st taped NEW MINGLEWOOD BLUES & SILVER THREADS & GOLDEN NEEDLES since ’66. former is yet another 1st album tune revived. on latter, sounds like garcia’s itchin’ to get home & play his new pedal steel. the shift to LSDC&W begins (again). garcia still can’t quite get all the words to IT’S ALL OVER NOW, BABY BLUE, but singing them with more conviction. really great. ST. STEPHEN again drops “william tell” ending into 33-minute TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT, pig & phil doing, uh, crowd work. wild 40-minute VIOLA LEE BLUES > WHAT’S BECOME OF THE BABY > WE BID YOU GOODNIGHT encore. 20-minute VIOLA LEE has fierce CAUTION JAM as last peak before dissolving into feedback, the studio BABY played on top. breathtakingly psychedelic. only done once. kinda like the high harmony part someone (presumably not a band member) is singing off-mic during BID YOU GOODNIGHT.

4/27/69 minneapolis: set bookended by TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT, opening with 28-minute LOVELIGHT > ME & MY UNCLE > SITTIN’ ON TOP OF THE WORLD, both perfect segues. 1st taped UNCLE since ’66, maybe closer to rolling ’80s groove than what it would become before that. hour-long DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > LOVELIGHT. 26-minute DARK STAR has beautifully developed pre-verse jam(s). post-verse gongs lead into wild kreutzmann-fired space with most celestial TC organ playing yet & new corner after new corner. the 2nd LOVELIGHT is a bit redundant, though does yield more jam pockets than pigpen raps, which is a nice balance change. MORNING DEW on the other hand is a jawdropper. fantastic vocals by garcia.

5/3/69a rocklin: an hour-long afternoon set at the sierra college pop festival, their 1st of 2 gigs that day. some of my fave jerry banter: “we’ll mention that nobody here is made of sugar & nobody will melt if it rains. the worst thing that could happen is that we might be electrocuted en masse & that’s not so bad, shit.” also: “hey man, we’re just hassling up here, can’t you understand? we’re in the middle of a hassle. if you want, you can hassle along with us… this is just life. this is no show. this is the way we live. we’re just hassling here in an attempt to make some simple music.” more great tech break theater, including jerry on phil’s broken strings, eric clapton references, & weir inviting a dog onstage. weir also tells what seems like a puzzling & tasteless joke but i think is connected to real rock & roll lore, though can’t verify weir’s bit. anyway, solid MORNING DEW opener, a favorite of dick latvala. most of set is 25-minute TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT with a few gnarly guitar jams & not a whole lotta pig raps. all pretty low stakes, including BABY BLUE & BEAT IT DOWN THE LINE.

5/3/69b winterland: alternating sets with mongo santamaria & the jefferson airplane.
lesh: direct from the sierra pop festival, here’s bill graham.
garcia: direct from bill graham, the gospel truth!
crowd (led by weir?) sings “come all ye faithful… to winterland.”
graham: san francisco’s own seven samurai, the grateful dead…21-minute THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE with the action shifting from the CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT outro to the OTHER ONE middle jam, sailing & diving & thinning out in the middle. muddy tape, but cool garcia dialogues with TC’s B3 & then phil’s bass.

5/7/69 polo field: a wednesday afternoon in golden gate park with the jefferson airplane, just ‘cuz. loose & lovely & audibly lysergic. definitely the end of an era, the last free san francisco park gig ’til ’75. coming out of jam, only hart drums on ME & MY UNCLE. charming garcia announcements about lost kids & found car keys. dude asks heads to stop standing in front of speakers. “aw, go away, ya cop,” sez jerry. much other trippy crosstalk. it’s bill the drummer’s 23rd birthday & he shows up properly late, missing the opener, i think here sporting his pigpen shirt. almost 3 minutes of a mystery instrumental, possibly just improvised. weir starts fingerpicking chord changes & rest of band gradually joins. can anybody identify it? gets cut off as it starts to pick up speed. a tape gap, probably with some songs missing, cutting into 13-minute THE OTHER ONE > SMOKESTACK LIGHTNING. dense pre-verse OTHER ONE peak & thinning in the middle. 1st taped SMOKESTACK LIGHTNING since 3/68, only the ending, perpetual pigpen rarity. 1st taped GOOD LOVIN’ since ’66, with jerry on vocals instead of pig, singer on the utterly manic early versions. the only dead song to have 3 different lead singers at various points. and i think mydland sometimes took verses in the ‘80s, too? 55-minute DARK STAR > DRUMZ > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT to close. languid 1-verse DARK STAR moves adjacent to usual motifs without hitting them directly, veering into many short & melodic garcia pockets, with subtle, supportive vox organ & chiming lead bass.

5/10/69 pasadena: opening for “cream’s farewell concert” movie. a hippie introduces the band, leading the crowd in a long “gong bong,” a breathing exercise to get you hiiiiiiiiiiiiigh “without all the dirty dope.” power failures interrupt HARD TO HANDLE & MORNING DEW & i still dig it more than cream. 72-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. mushy sound in parts of DARK STAR, but garcia’s guitar peaks & turns throughout, kreutzmann’s drums flocking around it. before last verse, a quiet space builds back to fierce swirl.

5/11/69 san diego: an afternoon bill (& FM broadcast) with canned heat & santana. raging MORNING DEW opener. 29-minute THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE > GOOD MORNING LITTLE SCHOOLGIRL with smooth segue & radio crosstalk about canned heat, mostly confirming it at 5/11. 30-minute ALLIGATOR > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT with much of santana seemingly joining. percussion interludes extra drumzers drumzing, making chaos, a vocalist, & supposedly carlos, but i don’t hear him.

5/16/69 morago: a high school in the east bay. not a great set, but good stories. after the grateful dead get hired to play a high school, they open with the most appropriate/inappropriate song in their repertoire, pigpen singing GOOD MORNING LITTLE SCHOOLGIRL. fairly tame set, including a lightly jammed DOIN’ THAT RAG & a 22-minute TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT with pig exhorting people to get their thumbs out of their asses. someone’s shouting for ST. STEPHEN. principal supposedly turns lights on mid-song.

5/23/69 hollywood reservation: the  dead headline (i think) the first rock festival held on native american land to avoid local laws, including joe south, muddy waters, & more. another big MORNING DEW. many sets now open with pig/jerry/weir alternation. ME & MY UNCLE is weir’s 1st new cover in a bit & will become band’s most played song ever. always garcia who signals it so far. love the big spaghetti western leads. 68-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. languid pre-verse rambles but band jumps confidently into post-verse noise/swell/launching before thinning back out. a few icy, spiky episodes by garcia provide lift-offs. cohesive half-hour LOVELIGHT finale, feeling like an equal balance between big colorful garcia leads & extended pigpen parts, including a cool pig/drummer breakdown.

5/24/69 hollywood reservation: on one hand, the dead seem determined not to repeat what they did the night before. on the other, they open with a 27-minute TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT, which they’d played for half an hour to close the previous set. some fun new turns within. alternate universe suite #1: 28-minute HE WAS A FRIEND OF MINE > CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > THE ELEVEN > DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY, all magic segues. great acceleration into the brightness of CHINA CAT, which opens into (a slightly flat) THE ELEVEN via a different path than ’68. i’ll admit to having a soft spot for weir’s joke about the yellow dog, told during tech breaks, but this is a particularly terrible & painfully slow iteration & rightfully bombs. after he says “shit,” concerned non-dead voice off-mic remarks “did he just swear?” alternate universe suite #2: 24-minute ALLIGATOR > ST. STEPHEN > BID YOU GOODNIGHT is less successful, but still fun. extended ALLIGATOR drumz segment slams into ST. STEPHEN without the chiming intro & exits to feedback without the “william tell” ending.could be wrong, but i think the big rock pow wow was the last time the grateful dead & timothy leary shared a stage. pretty sure i’m not buyin’ anything tim’s selling.

5/30/69 portland, OR: springer’s, a hippie ballroom. ripping: ’77 MORNING DEW. rippinger: ’69 MORNING DEW. another show-opening gong rush. mickey never should’ve gotten rid of it. jerry pops strings. “you can talk amongst yourselves, or maybe it’s ‘talk amongst yourself’ or ‘you can talk to yourself.’” 23-minute DARK STAR > COSMIC CHARLIE. band rushes out into DARK STAR jam, which stays bright (& mildly out of tune), with a fracturing post-sputnik freakout, before ignoring the 2nd verse, dissolving purposefully down to quiet, & back up into COSMIC CHARLIE. 39-minute ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT, cutting off (maybe) at the end. THE ELEVEN gets up into peak flows & LOVELIGHT stays vibrating, bouncing between garcia jams & pigpen scenes. once again, from michael lydon’s great 1969 rolling stone cover feature.

5/31/69 eugene: 1st recorded COLD RAIN & SNOW since 10/67, pretty much still in early/speedy LP form with pronounced guitar break. long tech hassle with ken babbs stand-up babble. “remember, there’s more of us in this room than anybody else!” student tries to get people to dance.
garcia: it’s free turf. anybody can do anything they wanna do.
babbs: we can take it, we’ve been stoned!
garcia: *been*?
shift continues: 1st tape of weir doing curly putman’s GREEN, GREEN GRASS OF HOME, c&w hit in ’65 for porter wagoner, global #1 in ’66 for tom jones, & solid lol about weed for heads in ’69. tape sez garcia’s playing pedal steel, but it’s just faux steel licks on 6-string. 20-minute THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE > SITTIN’ ON TOP OF THE WORLD. properly berserker THE OTHER ONE jam, starting to explode outwards from the middle of its suite. prankster chaos continues throughout, people shouting onstage during music. babbs grabs mic during 30-minute TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT with decidedly mixed results, though occasionally amusing crosstalk. 2nd set opens with (i think) the longest ever HE WAS A FRIEND OF MINE, almost 15 minutes. occasional windows of sweet & brilliant garcia solos, but whole jam never quite comes into focus, or perhaps tune. 29-minute DARK STAR > DOIN’ THAT RAG. free drummin’ post-verse weirdness opens into crisp-phrased sputnik jam & further abstractions. babbs’s voice occasionally pokes through as jam coalesces prettily. tape cuts before DOIN’ THAT RAG jam & the segues might continue. some spun prankster (not kesey or babbs, i don’t think) takes the mic at the beginning of IT’S ALL OVER NOW BABY BLUE for pseudo-heavy rap & tries to sing with garcia throughout. not a keeper take.

6/69 pacific high recording (maybe): jerry garcia solo demo featuring 3 future grateful dead classics, all debuted that june & included on “workingman’s dead” the following year. garcia & robert hunter’s 1st real forays into americana. all 3 songs are breakthroughs in different ways & begin a new, simpler phase in garcia & hunter’s songwriting. a few takes of DIRE WOLF. some are pretty chipper, garcia overdubbing spritely & fluid acoustic leads. only one pass through CASEY JONES, garcia & hunter’s update of the old ballad. fully formed, intro lick already there. a few subtly different flourishes, jerry shifting into a sweet & winning falsetto in places. love the folk feel, before the dead made it gigantic. a 5-minute blues instrumental with garcia overdubbing slide guitar. generic, but with enough chord changes that it sounds like a song sketch. unfinished garcia, but not terribly compelling either. HIGH TIME is another major new move for garcia & hunter, a relationship song that’s neither psychedelia nor overtly building on folk tradition. more forceful than the fragile dead versions to come. also new: garcia’s beautifully wounded, quiet vocals. will be more fragile & beautiful when it slows down even more. #deadfreaksunite [x/x]

6/5/69 fillmore west: opening an eventful 4-night run at the fillmore west, alternating sets with jr. walker & warner bros. labelmates the glass family. early show closes with 25-minute THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE, another wild middle jam, but the CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT outro is still where the jam’s at, with an unusual & patient organ-padded section early on & soaring upwards from there. sweet landing. alternate universe mini-suite: punchy 8-minute CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > SITTIN’ ON TOP OF THE WORLD. the segue works just exactly dandily & the jug/folk/rock destination is similar in concept to I KNOW YOU RIDER if not quite as cathartic. 67-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. DARK STAR continues to dissolve earlier pathways, weir adding great mini-leads during post-verse jam, contributing to peak. THE ELEVEN ends with thoughtful, quiet conversation.

6/6/69 fillmore west: the night jerry garcia showed up late & bill graham made the band go on with another guitarist, ome of many random june ’69 guest appearances. probably. the result is a preview of dead & co., garcia replaced by a blues hammer, in this case wayne ceballos of aum. after SMOKESTACK LIGHTNING, people shouting “where’s garcia?” lesh: “[we’re] sadly depleted…” in response to crowd, “well, one guitar player’s pretty much like another.” ceballos joins ragged BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE & leads sonny boy williamson’s CHECKIN’ UP ON MY BABY. bulk of set is interminable 47-minute TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. garcia returns midway through. maybe. hard to tell what’s going on, but sounds like a mega-jam to me, at times bordering on a shreds video.

6/7/69 fillmore west: show begins with live debut of DIRE WOLF, mostly just a peppy solo acoustic performance by garcia with the band (kinda) following. MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON set ups the DARK STAR suite for the 8th & final time, one ending of the “live/dead” era. 46-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > SITTIN’ ON TOP OF THE WORLD, DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY maybe missing between last two. dreamy but rapt DARK STAR intro. post-verse slashes, weir digs into sputnik jam. nearly solo garcia space feeds into outro variations. boffo entrance to THE ELEVEN, fierce & detailed, as is SITTIN’ ON TOP OF THE WORLD, its last version serving jam-suite duties ’til ’72. janis joplin comes out for concise, screamodelic 20-minute TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT, one of 2 tapes of her with the dead. lots of sweet & funny answer vocals between janis & pig. not transcendent but better than the other guest versions from this run.

6/8/69 fillmore west: an infamous show in internal band lore. the most fun set of the run, before garcia & lesh (& others) get too dosed & sit out much of the late show. early set opens with 13-minute DANCING IN THE STREET, 1st since spring ’68. drummers are ready, locking in immediately. jam gets deep & bright, garcia pulling out neon threads, weir working gear shift, band moving together. slowed-down mutant reentry. no real segues, but set keeps flowing. HE WAS A FRIEND OF MINE is perfect, with languid garcia phrasings. last recorded version of NEW POTATO CABOOSE, 13 minutes & a doozy. some grunge, but bass jam surges into sustained bliss exactly as designed. vocals almost sound okay. late show is a mess, multiple accounts of LSD-dosed apple juice below. on tape, it begins with 36-minute TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT fronted by aum’s wayne ceballos, elvin bishop on guitar. tag-team superjam features some decent chaos & probably increasingly fewer dead members. elvin bishop & pig duet on THE THINGS I USED TO DO & WHO’S LOVING YOU TONIGHT, with the dead drummers & probably other musicians, before garcia rematerializes for slightly woozy but happening 21-minute THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE > COSMIC CHARLIE. multiple people dosed the apple juice at the 6/8/69 dead show with an estimated $50,000 worth of LSD crystal, led by notorious acid dealer goldfinger. unsurprisingly, accounts differ. first up is from dennis mcnally’s official bio. a long account of the 6/8/69 dosing by phil lesh, from his memoir. jerry garcia & mountain girl remember the 6/8/69 mega-dosing to dennis mcnally (in “jerry on jerry”), the bad trip that would inspire robert hunter to write “black peter” (& stop doing LSD for a while), & perhaps the story of CSN’s true influence on the grateful dead, when garcia/hunter listened to the band’s first album over & over as hunter was coming down.

6/11/69 california hall: most of the grateful dead at san francisco’s california hall, at a scientology-related benefit, billed as bobby ace & the cards from the bottom of the deck. no tape, but a songlist exists from an early deadhead whose other lists match up to tapes. a prototype of the new riders of the purple sage, one of jerry garcia’s first outings playing the pedal steel, besides coffeehouse gigs with john dawson, playing a slew of songs that would make their way to dead sets soon & a bunch that wouldn’t. the show was a “quasi-benefit” for… scientology. according to dennis mcnally’s bio, weir was ending his brief dalliance under TC’s tutelage & was exiting with a benefit to, uh, get clear.

6/13/69 fresno: everything is a bit frayed. nice to hear TC’s keyboards distinct in the mix during an otherwise sloppy HARD TO HANDLE, though. maybe he’d’ve been better served by a rhodes, or something more percussive? aum’s wayne ceballos comes out for GOOD MORNING LITTLE SCHOOLGIRL, not ronnie hawkins, despite deadbase’s claims. 15-minute CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > MORNING DEW settles down easily, but DEW loses some oomph without the dramatic gong intro. with no DARK STAR, a 42-minute ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. could be the recording, but feeling a little edgeless. ceballos & sanpaku flautist gary larkey (probably) hang for LOVELIGHT.

6/14/69 monterey: in the college gymnasium at @mpcmonterey, with aum & the bitter seeds the 1st “electric” DIRE WOLF, mostly garcia solo again, guitar a bit out of tune. lesh picks it up as it goes along, the drummers accent occasionally. except for the great new song in the middle, just an absolute mess, really. 53-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. pre-verse DARK STAR jam is big & assertive over hand percussion, chunky & rhythmic garcia leads, hard-fuzzed (with aggressive lesh) as drums enter. wayne ceballos of aum comes out again for LOVELIGHT, the 4th time in a week, & doesn’t add a whole lot. mercifully short, with a 5-minute drum break (plus chanting).

6/20/69 fillmore east: a 2-night stand at the fillmore east with savoy brown, the buddy miles express, & @joshualightshow, celebrating the release of “aoxomoxoa” & instead debuting a virtually new grateful dead. it’s not bill graham introducing the band. instead of the nitrous-hosed psychedelia from their brand new album, the band opens their big NYC gig with george jones’s OLD, OLD HOUSE, sung by bob weir. garcia’s on pedal steel for the 1st time with the dead. nice! one of two known dead versions. garcia on pedal steel for DIRE WOLF, too, 1st version of briefly lived arrangement with weir on lead vocals. he & the song sound great except for weir’s affected cowboy drawl. garcia’s back on 6-string for debut of merle haggard’s MAMA TRIED, sung by weir, playing acoustic. then, holy crap, the 1st version of garcia & robert hunter’s HIGH TIME. garcia’s vocals sound almost perfect & fragile & quiet, jumping easily into upper registers. a spare drum part that sometimes seems almost non-existent. weir’s harmonies are rough but sweet. eventually, they get to DUPREE’S DIAMOND BLUES, the 1st song of 2 songs featured from the new album. garcia calls his 12-string a “dozen wire.” 52-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. DARK STAR itself is missing a chunk, not even 8 minutes. perhaps because of a popped string, garcia switches to an acoustic during one of the LOVELIGHT breaks & it sounds boss.

6/21/69 fillmore east: GREEN, GREEN GRASS OF HOME opens, garcia on pedal steel. “there’ll be a brief pause while we allow you to consider the new development,” he notes. no one shouts “judas!” but there’s some chatter in the room. wish the audience tape was less muffled! ME & MY UNCLE makes a lot more musical sense in a set with pedal steel & songs like HIGH TIME, which is sublime even on this shitty tape. garcia’s voice & TC’s keyboards whisper through the murk. starting to build transitions from americana to psychedelia. 13-minute CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > MORNING DEW, a more forced segue than the other iteration of this combo, the latter getting polite applause when it starts. (also an indication of how polite/quiet the crowd is the rest of the time.) 22-minute ALLIGATOR > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT > OL’ SLEW-FOOT is perfectly mid-’69. engaging post-DRUMZ jam continues into deep OTHER ONE. a big tape flip in CRYPTICAL, but comes back in time to catch garcia switching over to pedal steel & weir counting off into the 1st recorded version of crockett/webb’s OL’ SLEW-FOOT, probably picked up via porter wagoner. wild steel licks.

6/22/69 central park bandshell: a sunday in the park with the grateful dead, their last free show there, appearing each june since ’67 at the naumberg bandshell. legendary show for the parkies, the LSD-dealing graffiti artist longhairs who hung around the bandshell throughout the ‘70s, because it was the day owsley came to the park. 12-minute DANCING IN THE STREET opener is all sunshine despite the fuzziness. the 1st recorded CASEY JONES, presumably debuted during an untaped set at the fillmore east over weekend, floating in on a jam that sounds like a slightly brisker ROW JIMMY. sounds more familiar by the time the ending ramps up. 1st taped SILVER THREADS & GOLDEN NEEDLES with garcia on pedal steel, sparkling through the audience tape guck. weir & lesh’s harmonies sounding a little better. 30-minute DARK STAR > THE OTHER ONE > ST. STEPHEN > IT’S A SIN with some tape cuts/fades. DARK STAR pre-verse jam gets down to stark garcia/lesh space, with quick post-verse shift into 1st OTHER ONE fully severed from CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT segments. using OTHER ONE end tag, band lands in ST. STEPHEN, leaving it unfinished & shifting into IT’S A SIN at the “ladyfinger” bridge, before 22-minute TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT closer. there will be rumors of free dead shows in central park for years to come. #deadfreaksunite [6/6]

6/27/69 santa rosa: with an unnamed prototype of hot tuna & the cleanliness & godliness skiffle band. 1st 9 songs all drawing from folk/americana, almost all new or revived in the past 2 months, featuring occasional acoustic guitar/pedal steel/guests, before shifting over to psychedelia. a little kid introduces the band, “from good ol’ san francisco, the good ol’ grateful dead.” opening OL’ SLEW-FOOT features pete grant on banjo, an old garcia buddy from the palo alto scene. marmaduke might be singing, too? i adore garcia’s harmony on MAMA TRIED. per @corry342, cleanliness & godliness’s tom ralston subbed for a delayed mickey hart early in the show. to my ears, only MAMA TRIED sounds like it has extra percussion. (garcia played pedal steel with c&g, too.) 2nd taped version of CASEY JONES, again starting with short jam, garcia still figuring out intro lick. but vocals come in so forcefully that it’s a surprise not to hear the crowd cheer in recognition. some rhythmic discombobulation & extra chords, but shaping up quickly. in the context of all the other folkiness, the 1st taped version of pigpen doing BIG BOSS MAN since early ’67 plays like a labor song (which it totally is!) & a seemingly clear antecedent to EASY WIND. cool, loose feel. but they’re still weirdos: 40-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN JAM > GREEN, GREEN GRASS OF HOME. long DARK STAR has rhythmic swells & post-verse flows. hart’s jackhammer snare pushes up/out, lesh teases LOVELIGHT, weir hits new patterns, & all land gracefully. once again, the band exits from psychedelia with garcia shifting to pedal steel for a weir c&w tune, getting as far as THE ELEVEN transition jam before attempting a crossfade into GREEN, GREEN GRASS. IT’S ALL OVER NOW BABY BLUE going well before tape cut.

6/28/69 santa rosa: chaos prevails as show starts, bordering on a hootenanny. phil introduces OL’ SLEW-FOOT winking to owsley: “this song is about bear drops. does a bear drop in the woods, that is the question?” pedal steel, pete grant on banjo, onstage fireworks. grant plays banjo for 1st few songs, mostly inaudible. enjoying the bright combo of the pedal steel & TC’s glassy keyboards, though. someone is audibly talked down from setting off further fireworks. a voice off-mic, maybe jerry, “you see what they were going to light?!” garcia switches back to electric for MAMA TRIED, played extra slow (yes, slower than the recent dead & bro debut), which sounds nice in places but doesn’t quite hold together. maybe it would with pedal steel? john “marmaduke” dawson doubles weir on ME & MY UNCLE with his odd, high voice, which almost kinda works. it’s marmaduke’s 1st official appearance with the dead. garcia’s been backing him on pedal steel at coffeehouses, soon to be the new riders of the purple sage. no real psychedelic jams & just one song from their brand new album, DOIN’ THAT RAG. only improv is a 28-minute TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT closer, pulling out all the stops, downshifting into a mini swing episode. many electric garcia shreds en route.

7/3/69 colorado springs: sharing a bill at reed’s ranch with alice cooper & beginning an 11-day jaunt to the east coast. indoors, despite the venue name. a 90-minute set opening with another pedal steel double-shot. 2 c&w covers by weir that never made it into the dead’s canon (& are ignored by even deep cut cover bands): SLEWFOOT & GREEN GREEN GRASS OF HOME. zero songs from the last 2 albums. hart (audibly) playing kit on HIGH TIME for 1st time & wow is it a mess. sweetest jam is melodious & bittersweet 13-minute HE WAS A FRIEND OF MINE, a keeper. unusually, TC leads start of 27-minute TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT jam, which goes off the rails in a mostly good way around halfway through, into propulsive guitar, but can’t quite recover the groove or momentum for the finale.

7/4/69 chicago: with the buddy miles express & the sir douglas quintet at the kinetic playground. owsley is not having it anymore with weir’s lame jokes, pausing the tape in the middle of the yellow dog story & later during some other joke that i don’t think i’ve heard on another tape. two pedal steel double-shots, including the late set debut of gene crysler’s 1966 song LET ME IN, sung by weir, learned (as usual) via porter wagoner. onstage firecrackers (by mickey?) during OL’ SLEW-FOOT, effective & dramatic from a psychedelic/musique concrète POV. using the post-verse tag, THE OTHER ONE lands in HIGH TIME, replacing the CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT outro. an early iteration of a garcia ballad following a big frothing jam. i like TC’s chugging organ on the still-developing CASEY JONES. weir watch: “someone in the front row is wearing a heapload of suntan oil & it sure smells weird up here & i thought i’d tell you.” ST. STEPHEN drops “william tell” ending & jumps right to 25-minute TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT, more firecrackers, though no sign anyone realizes it’s july 4th. it could easily be someone lighting shit on fire just ‘cuz, shockingly common at ‘60s dead shows.

7/5/69 chicago: after crashing MORNING DEW opener, 44-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > IT’S ALL OVER NOW BABY BLUE. DARK STAR folds into sparse, questioning abstraction after sputnik jam. less a segue than a dissolve into a lovely but hissy/garbled BABY BLUE. the CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER jam keeps getting more raging & the band is still looking for a destination, trying out songs like puzzle pieces. tonight, it’s HIGH TIME. nope, next! another slow MAMA TRIED. mega-extended TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT feels like its own country, 34 minutes tonight, with cool improvised bridge/turnaround that pig latches onto.

7/7/69 atlanta: for free in atlanta’s piedmont park with spirit, chicago, allman brothers, & hampton grease band. the dead’s 1st gig anywhere between virginia & florida. the day after the atlanta pop festival, many of the bands play in piedmont park. the dead didn’t play atlanta pop, but show up & close the night with a 2-hour set anyway. another big MORNING DEW opener relies more on the band’s propulsive groove than garcia’s dramatic solos, though they’re that, too. garcia hits big vocal notes in HIGH TIME, his range almost audibly expanding. crowd is audibly way into it, with big cheers/claps at DARK STAR’s peaks &, later on, a few different spontaneous chants & clapalongs during TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. monster 84-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. lush 27-minute DARK STAR, half before 1st verse, weir & lesh planet-hopping with garcia from the start & avoiding the usual byways. chaotic but awesome 37-minute LOVELIGHT finale has gregg allman on keys, probably duane on guitar, & perhaps the hampton grease band, spirit, & chicago horns. cool “shine on me” harmony. l’il breakthrough for pig, drawing out many new & unfamiliar phrases.

7/11/69 new york state pavilion: on the site of the 1964 world’s fair in queens, across from shea stadium. the closest thing to an east coast acid test, according to nyc dead freaks. long tech break to begin the tape, in case anybody is making a mix of weir’s nonlinear jokes. garcia on 12-string electric for opening DUPREE’S DIAMOND BLUES & DIRE WOLF. last DUPREE’S ’til 1977 revival. garcia reclaims the DIRE WOLF lead vocals from weir with gusto, no longer playing pedal steel. but HARD TO HANDLE features garcia on pedal steel for the only time, a lovely twist. CASEY JONES allllmost has intro lick in place. fun alternate suite: 52-minute ALLIGATOR > THE OTHER ONE > DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. nearly 15 minutes of garcia shreds after ALLIGATOR drum break, twisting into triplets. LOVELIGHT cuts after 8 minutes & could conceivably be 4x longer.

7/12/69 new york state pavilion: last tape with a pedal steel segment to open. fare thee well to MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON, too, the last recorded version, & the only one with a jam, gentle & modal. too bad about tape quality. can occasionally hear jets whooshing over from LGA. 11-minute CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > MAMA TRIED. because of the tape quality, severely underrated CHINA CAT with extended intro & perfect segue out of the now-familiarly raging jam. the 2nd c&w/folk tune to work in the slot, MAMA TRIED is now creeping back to a faster tempo. 61-minute DARK STAR > THE OTHER ONE > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. DARK STAR drops in post-verse, kreutzmann already on drum kit, good swells, sputnik jam that sounds headed to the second verse, but swerves into THE OTHER ONE instead. after THE OTHER ONE post-verse tag, someone onstage (phil?) shouts for more DARK STAR, but garcia’s already into the ST. STEPHEN intro. shouty & participatory LOVELIGHT, with pig pulling people onto the mic, including mickey hart.

8/1/69 family dog: on his 27th birthday, jerry garcia refuses to cross the picket line of the light artists’ guild strike at the family dog. the dead play without him. garcia & others retreat to van, smoke jerry’s “superweed,” & plan community meetings for DIY scene. the subsequent meetings, “the commons,” are part of a complex summer in san francisco, including the conception, planning, collapse & cancellation (!) of the utopian wild west festival. to be held in golden gate park, it would’ve rivaled woodstock. according to one news report in local paper good times, the dead (minus garcia & hart) played a set, “jamming with two flautists from the audience & a conga drummer off the beach.” the meetings go well enough until jawdropping blow-out between local spiritual guru stephen gaskin & promoter bill graham.

8/2/69 family dog: with the light show strike suspended, the grateful dead make their full debut at the family dog at the great highway, the collective’s new venue in old ballroom at playland by the sea, on the ocean “at the edge of the western world.” a fun & confident set, the new songs are both tight & playful. opening CASEY JONES is filled with forceful miniature jams, lots of TC’s keys. HARD TO HANDLE warps & woofs conversationally. david nelson adds b-bender solos to MAMA TRIED & SLEW-FOOT. pedal steel mini set features the dead debut of george jones’s SEASONS OF MY HEART, TC gamely adding some lovely organ colors. garcia gets a sweet dive-bombing fuzz tone for 2nd half of his OL’ SLEW-FOOT solo. only out jam is 25-minute THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE, though the most psychedelic part of the recording is when tape-heads go amiss near peak of 27-minute TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT, leading to some far-out whooshing & image distortion.

8/3/69 family dog: a violinist & saxophonist join, identified by deadbase as david laflamme + charles lloyd respectively, but almost certainly neither. “hey, the bear’s got a banjo,” garcia remarks before 1st song. (“get away with that thing!” someone adds.) owsley did own a banjo. his copy of pete seeger’s “how to play the 5-string banjo” with his name inscribed is now in ned lagin’s collection. maybe he wanted to jam? violinist plays on nearly every song, fitting in casually, starting with opening HARD TO HANDLE. A+ chaos, especially BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE (with 28-beat intro), a candidate for mickey hart’s most wonderfully anarchic drum performance. sax joins for 1st taped dead version of HI-HEELED SNEAKERS since ’66, garcia & pig sharing vocals, violin adding hot jazz vibes. violinist stays for HIGH TIME. sure sounds like a rumbling synth in places, too, but how? fuzzed b-bender solo by david nelson on MAMA TRIED. a ranging, raging 72-minute DARK STAR > ALLIGATOR > THE OTHER ONE > CAUTION > BID YOU GOODNIGHT with the saxophonist & violinist, who both seem to know what they’re doing & fit shockingly well. besides side jams, the 1st time anyone’s joined for DARK STAR. 23-minute DARK STAR has full sputnik meltdown before 1st verse. the usual motifs are there, but guests drive new textures & new peaks. the saxophonist spins around garcia & adds active themes in every zone. violin is more atmospheric, but usually on point. who are they?! OTHER ONE continues epic hippie-jazz free melts. sax gets honky but freaky as jam deconstructs, almost floats back to DARK STAR, & becomes fire music as CAUTION erupts. americana themes by guests in last feedback swirls before garcia reclaims stage.

8/16/69 white lake: after mountain & before credence clearwater revival. @andyzax & @briankehew’s new mix of the dead’s woodstock set features 14 new minutes of pristine stage chaos before & after the music. chip monck & ken babbs tag team on the mic. can’t hear getting weir getting knocked by shocks from the microphone, but hear some of his complaints. “kinda zappy up here.” great pre-set raps by babbs, tripping face, including a nice “this land is your land” reference.” terrible dead set. 1st ever show-opening ST. STEPHEN. weir skips 2nd verse & garcia follows before fizzling into sleepy MAMA TRIED at “ladyfinger” bridge, inexplicable even on film. were they going to segue back? was it a tech issue? was jerry too high & forgot? on a pure chaos level, the woodstock tape is highly entertaining, if awkward. babbs, keeping together relatively well, tries to hold crowd during 11-minute break. most of his psychedelic raps stop landing, but still less insufferable than monck. country joe offers an acid warning. excellent stoned crosstalk with weir & owsley as they try get the microphones on. weir also starts to tell the YELLOW DOG STORY but doesn’t get going, which is surely for the best. fashion watch: garcia wore his faded pigpen shirt. only 19-minute DARK STAR gels, halfway through, sliding into a dazzling post-verse jam with bright garcia/lesh/kreutzmann peaks but skipping 2nd verse & petering into HIGH TIME. ambitiously quiet song under circumstances. walkie talkie chatter via lesh’s bass. as band kicks into interminable 37-minute TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT, rando grabs mic & starts trip-babbling about “the third coast,” interrupting pigpen. for a rando, he’s kinda great! ken babbs sez he led the dude away by dangling a joint like a carrot.

8/20/69 seattle: rained out at the seattle aqua theater, the dead play their 1st post-woodstock show at el roach, a local bar & “favorite movement hangout,” according to the seattle helix. no tape.

8/21/69 seattle: playing in front of a moat. rained out the night before & rescheduled. 1st co-bill with the new riders of the purple sage. 1st taped version of EASY WIND, sung by pigpen. 1st dead song written solely by robert hunter, band alternating between a pair of rolling blues grooves. fantastic HIGH TIME, garcia singing confidently, group vocals/harmonies coming together. rare NEW MINGLEWOOD BLUES, the last taped version ’til 5/70, featuring sanpaku’s gary lackey on flute & vocalizin’. lackey sticks around through CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER, staying enthused, a very period sound. ultra-compact 29-minute THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE > DARK STAR > COSMIC CHARLIE. DARK STAR is shortest of the era. with both verses & no apparent cuts, it doesn’t break 7 minutes, though the jam flows & finds a quiet destination. like an update to the 7-inch version. the real news is that the slow version of COSMIC CHARLIE is finally working, with confident vocals & tight playing, as well as a good tape flutter dissolve at the end. a virtual b-side to DARK STAR.

8/23/69 mount st. helens: the tiny & entirely forgotten bullfrog 2 festival, featuring the dead, taj mahal, & a bunch of bands that sound like they were invented by thomas pynchon. assume new colony is not new colony six?  a week after woodstock, another festival set that’s way better. again, very present organ playing by TC; HARD TO HANDLE solo underscores its similarities to the VIOLA LEE BLUES groove. rare dedication by pigpen, “for calypso joe, from new york.” intro lick now in place, the last appearance of the looser CASEY JONES with pre-verse solo & mini jams. 2nd EASY WIND swerves into blues-choogle & crosses the 10-minute mark. they’ll rein it in soon. 73-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. long DARK STAR has important new move, dropping the pulse & going free/percussionless after the 1st verse, then voiding, gonging, arpeggiating, building, surfing, peaking, peaking, peaking. 27-minute LOVELIGHT seems somehow reasonable, with inventive pockets & grooves before pigpen turns over the mic to randos & then it’s less interesting. perhaps the new post-woodstock policy of allowing randos their turn?

8/28/69 family dog: a thursday afternoon jam session at the family dog, minus TC & pigpen. making his first appearance on a dead-related tape, a.b. skhy’s howard wales on organ, soon a regular garcia collaborator. band warms up with 2 early dead standards, IT’S A SIN & HI-HEELED SNEAKERS. not coincidentally, both soon jump into the garcia solo songbook. wales is hyperactive, almost cartoonishly shreddy. 64-minute DARK STAR > THE ELEVEN JAM. wales runs rampant over song parts (& even over garcia), short circuits usual jam patterns & kicks band into wild new spaces. the least deferential guest ever. occasional dead air, but mostly busy mad scientist inventions. there’s a mystery flute player in the mix, too, but virtually impossible to hear. wonder if it’s the same mystery flute player as 8/3? once owsley levels the mix & garcia starts following wales, zig-zag improv thrills ensue, wales & garcia clearly finding conversational ground.

8/29/69 family dog: with the new riders of the purple sage, the rubber duck co., & commander cody, with bands alternating sets from stages on opposite sides of the room. CASEY JONES tightens up. still a bit of a mini jam, but mostly hard charging confidence. (maybe too confident in the case of mickey’s chattering cowbell midway through.) screams for HEY JUDE are met with giggles. “HEY JUDE is a lost cause,” weir says. “the first request that blows our mind, we’ll do,” offers jerry, which yields an exuberant (& short) medley of early dead/warlocks covers: 11-minute NEW ORLEANS > SEARCHIN’ > GOOD LOVIN’. gary “u.s.” bonds’s NEW ORLEANS is solid, great dual lead by weir & pigpen. too bad it didn’t stick around. 1st recorded SEARCHIN’ comes back raucously, too. lesh charges into GOOD LOVIN’ but garcia takes over. the old crazed jerry-sung version. 1st taped DIRE WOLF since the july east coast tour, slowed down slightly & with less of a rock feel. sung solo by jerry, again with no harmonies. skittering drums, but closer to its familiar & comfortable form. messy but quite charming. 30-minute TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT is great for half. rare instance of pigpen trying to get the crowd to shout louder. seems to be ending for, like, 10 minutes. “thanks for keeping us high,” jerry says genuinely.

8/30/69 family dog: kinda iffy performance for the most part. the last of 5 pretty awkward CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > DOIN’ THAT RAG pairings. they’ll get there yet! 54-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > ELEVEN JAM > DRUMZ > HIGH TIME. another pathbreaking DARK STAR, dropping pulse & building from silence towards gorgeous melodies. garcia pops string & weir jams briefly on TIGHTEN UP, 1st of several great DARK STAR themes over next years. sweet feedback solo by garcia before last verses of ST. STEPHEN. after the “william tell” outro, band shifts time signature but loses the thread despite lesh’s attempts to steer. confused DRUMZ segment lands in not-fully-convincing HIGH TIME.

9/1/69 prairieville: the new orleans pop festival, held at the international speedway near baton rouge, playing after lee michaels & before the jefferson airplane. labor day festival set in front of ~25,000 people. perhaps the most passive-aggressive stage intro ever: “if you will, one of the slowest fucking groups, but one of the finest in the world, the grateful dead…” mostly quite compact, including an enthused CASEY JONES opener. one of the only versions of EASY WIND played anywhere near an actual bayou. still tightening, but swells to convincing swampiness. 60-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. DARK STAR drops briefly to pulselessness after the verse but doesn’t quite find a coherent path back to the peak, though nice garcia/TC conversation. during LOVELIGHT (& i might be reading too literally) pigpen seems to attribute the “wake up in the mornin’ ‘bout a quarter-to-five” bit of his rap to chuck berry, perhaps “reelin’ & rockin’.”

9/6/69 family dog: a surprise show with the jefferson airplane at the family dog. more craziness out by the pacific. a few warm-up tunes, including rare HE WAS A FRIEND OF MINE & then a bunch of warlocks-style rarities, goofing around & half-accidentally workshopping. 1st taped BIG BOY PETE since ’66, olympics cover with exuberant group vocal by jerry/pigpen/weir. sharpest of the ’69 garcia-sung GOOD LOVIN’s. 1st ALL OVER NOW maybe since ’66, band figures it out onstage. much like the late ‘70s versions, but with more swingin’ drums. 1st “modern” NOT FADE AWAY, led by weir with pigpen on harmonica. pulled out earlier in the year at manic ’66 speed, it slows down enough to emphasize the pulse. garcia hits bliss zones before an almost-crisp pullback segue into EASY WIND. MIDNIGHT HOUR also returns to rotation in the closer slot, 1st on tape since 8/68. not a super snappy version, but pigpen does some heavy crowd-work, apparently targeting anyone sitting on the floor. according to this intel by somebody who worked at the family dog, the bands played on the venue’s two stages at the opposite sides of the room & then jammed back & forth from them. maybe that’s what happens at the end, but i’m skeptical. triumphant post-woodstock jefferson airplane in a small club. powerful at times. closer is frequently enthralling 30-minute VOLUNTEERS with garcia & hart, apparently longest jam in taped airplane history. spencer dryden is a monster! what a great drummer.

9/7/69 family dog: delightful sunday hang with members of the grateful dead & the jefferson airplane at the family dog, playing oldies & oddities. no real noodles, just rock songs! garcia/kaukonen/casady/kreutzmann/covington, if i had to guess. loving the garcia/kaukonen vocal tandem on buddy holly’s PEGGY SUE & jimmy reed’s BABY WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO & garcia’s solo vocals on THAT’LL BE THE DAY & JOHNNY B. GOODE. only times for all of them, i think. garcia asks for requests, someone calls for WIPE OUT, & the drummers & garcia launch into a big surf rumble that’s not quite WIPE OUT but all fun. lands (briefly) in a fragment of BIG RAILROAD BLUES, which would jump into the dead repertoire the next year. things are petering out by the time someone (joey covington, supposedly) takes the mic for garage-slop 6-minute LOUIE LOUIE > TWIST & SHOUT > BLUE MOON. the latter is a chill coda, led by jorma, i think. miraculous how concise everything is.

9/17/69 alembic: rehearsal at alembic, the new sound workshop in novato inspired by owsley & still one of the world’s premier guitar/bass makers. tape begins with garcia, lesh, & constanten (i think) running through a generic R&B instrumental that would sound like a vamp if not for lesh shouting out occasional section changes. run-throughs, arrangement, & 3-part harmony work on 2 songs with garcia on pedal steel, SEASONS OF MY HEART & mel tillis’s SAWMILL. garcia will soon abandon trying to sing & play pedal steel at the same time, but not yet. band spends half-hour figuring out themes & tags from various classic cartoons & get deep into it, some with pedal steel, presumably as many joints circulate. TC excels. a lot of extremely quality garcia giggles, as entertaining as the music. 20 minutes of slowing the tempo & spacing out the feel of old staple COLD RAIN & SNOW, removing the harmonized guitar break. the pivot between the amphetamine version on the debut album & the arrangement they played through ’95. mickey hart might be the only drummer here? a few casual passes of DIRE WOLF, slowly firming up. 22 minutes of jamming on THE ELEVEN, apparently experimenting with new rhythmic variations. garcia & lesh give hart shit for losing track of the pulse, the only tense part of the tape.

9/26/69 fillmore east: opening for country joe & the fish, plus sha na na. 45 minutes of DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > KING BEE > DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY. the recording of DARK STAR is murky af, but the post-verse space-out is as lush as a liquid light show, spinning into the 1st FEELIN’ GROOVY jam. so blissy. far-out tape bleed during DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY, the ghost of some opera singer or blues belter on some earlier layer of tape.

9/27/69 fillmore east: last time as an opening act, playing 1st at the early show before country joe cedes the late headlining slot to them. bill graham introduces the band, “the magnificent 7 of san francisco…” before a straight-forward set for the early saturday crowd. highly condensed jams & miniature choogles, presumably saving the real freakiness for the untaped late show. NEXT TIME YOU SEE ME resurfaces for 1st time on tape since 3/67. set’s most open moment is soaring jam in CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > HIGH TIME, the last taped version before the arrival of I KNOW YOU RIDER. more a dissolve than a segue. 1st great DIRE WOLF. just as they joked on previous week’s rehearsal tape, the band is now dropping miscellaneous cartoon-ish themes into tuning breaks sets. here they include TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME, 3 days after the mets clinched the national league east.

9/29/69 cafe au go go: newly reopened cafe au go go in the west village, where they played on their 1st trip to NYC in ’67, a single alluring tape side includes fascinating & thrilling alternate universe suite with 26-minute DOIN’ THAT RAG > THE SEVEN > GOOD LOVIN’, both segues clearly planned-out next-beat pivots. this must’ve happened other times. 1st of only 2 surviving versions of THE SEVEN, instrumental sequel to THE ELEVEN, plotted carefully with intricate garciaing. final taped version of the jerry-sung GOOD LOVIN’, too, here just a platform for a drum break.

9/30/69 cafe au go go: sharing a bill for the only time with the holy modal rounders. 1st taped CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER. 9 minutes, missing beginning. short & undeveloped jam compared to last few versions of CHINA CAT, but can’t argue with that landing. group vocals only on RIDER & big sparkling garcia breaks. tape warp/speed issues get pretty unbearable during 24-minute ALLIGATOR > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE. lots of great OTHER ONE themes, though, some adjacent to SPANISH JAM. clean end after the 2nd verse tag, no sign of CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT.

10/24/69 winterland: between the jefferson airplane & sons of champlin. band opens with 4 freshest songs, all destined for “workingman’s dead,” followed by big new CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER combo, weir’s transition sounding like GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD. much yelling at bear about monitors & mics. 9 minutes of THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE > COSMIC CHARLIE, an obvious but dizzying segue that’s almost too much, peaking & peaking & peaking before pulling back slightly into the verse of COSMIC CHARLIE.

10/25/69 winterland: 59-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. brilliant weir-driven DARK STAR, playing co-leads & pushing band through blissed new FEELIN’ GROOVY & TIGHTEN UP themes while garcia soars, & more co-leads before last verse. stephen stills joins band on guitar/vocals for LOVELIGHT & energy level seems to dip a bit, perhaps cuz stills’s guitar is buried in the mix. hard to pick out stills all the time, but jam hits some moody non-blues.

10/26/69 winterland: long soundcheck/tuning instrumental by weir that sounds fully formed enough to be a song. 1st taped live version of the slowed-down COLD RAIN & SNOW, still stumbling a little. garcia dedicates DIRE WOLF to the local serial killer: “this song is dedicated to the zodiac cat & also to paranoid fantasies everywhere… & everybody can sing along if they feel up to it, it’s real easy to sing.” lazy sunday vibes. garcia: “this is a sunday night, everybody try to remember that. it’s been a long, weird weekend.” great 11-minute EASY WIND gives weir a chance to flex his solo skills, finding a nice casual weave with jerry.

10/31/69 san jose: student union ballroom. not terribly halloweeny on tape tbh, but every day was probably halloween in the ‘60s. standard issue set with a batch of the new tunes & a few wee jams. DIRE WOLF is a warm singalong with almost nonexistent drums. can really hear garcia turning into a fantastic singer on HIGH TIME. big, soulful ache. 25-minute THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE surfs a powerful jam corner before the 1st OTHER ONE verse but mostly lays low, besides wild psychedelic gonging by hart during outro. half-hour un-spooktacular TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT with big happy garcia jams.

11/1/69 family dog: opening 2 nights on the great highway with danny cox, as well as the golden toad (feat. steal your face logo artist bob thomas). well-paced 2-hour set with nice balance between the new americana, psychedelic jams, & pigpen rave-ups. garcia keeps trying to sell DIRE WOLF as a singalong, “this is a song about… what you do when the wolf comes to the door.” the slowed-down arrangement of COLD RAIN & SNOW clicks up the tempo slightly & works much better. 1st taped version of GOOD LOVIN’ with pigpen singing lead, garcia still doubling him occasionally, with drum break & brief jam. no pig rappin’ yet. 15-minute HE WAS A FRIEND OF MINE swells & recedes several times with beautiful volume swells by garcia. after returning to chorus, a trailing fade into glorious CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER. (too bad, the actual FRIEND > CHINA CAT segue on 5/24 was boss.) big 31-minute ALLIGATOR > UNCLE JOHN’S THEME > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. with BID YOU GOODNIGHT melody as cue, garcia leads high-speed instrumental coda/verse/chorus/coda of not-yet-finished UNCLE JOHN’S BAND, clearly rehearsed, bridging to LOVELIGHT.

11/2/69 family dog: one of only 3 surviving versions of MIDNIGHT HOUR for ’69, notable (kinda) for weir-led jam. doesn’t quite take off. only taped SEASONS OF MY HEART with garcia on 6-string instead of pedal steel. 1st DANCING IN THE STREET since june is way truncated. nearly 10 minute GOOD LOVIN’ is great, its new arrangement borrowing from ALLIGATOR with a drum break followed by garcia/drummers jam & rest of band piling back on for speedy fun. an instant staple. 60-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY. epic DARK STAR, settling post-verse into silence/gonging/pick scrapes/noise before the sputnik arpeggio sets up a perfect & gradual combobulation into triumphant FEELIN’ GROOVY & TIGHTEN UP jams. stunning DEATH DON’T with intense dynamics & deeply present garcia vocals. also the last time it appears (on tape) in the DARK STAR sequence, perhaps not coincidentally as it is on “live/dead,” released the week after this show.

11/7/69 fillmore auditorium: back at the original fillmore auditorium, briefly returned to freak control & booked by the flamin’ groovies & co. as “the old fillmore.” good ol’ stage chaos (thankfully tracked out individually). someone plays the STAR SPANGLED BANNER on penny-whistle. new jams, CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER & the tightly turning GOOD LOVIN’, are compact platforms for sunshine. 67-minute DARK STAR > UNCLE JOHN’S THEME > DARK STAR > CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. after post-verse DARK STAR gonging, slow-motion bassline makes shapes as drums slowly enter. brilliant rhythm guitar colors & round lead bass. after return to DARK STAR theme, a pass through the FEELIN’ GROOVY jam transitions to another worked-out instrumental UNCLE JOHN’S BAND, the whole song compacted into 100 seconds. a harsh tape flip misses the move back to DARK STAR, but it goes right back to soaring. next beat segue from DARK STAR into THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE suite, short & fierce, phil calling audible segue into LOVELIGHT before the last verse. big bass & conversational jams ensue, the sprawling LOVELIGHT dipping occasionally into zonk.

11/8/69 fillmore auditorium: possibly the night garcia was tripping so hard he thought assassins were after him. fierce CASEY JONES with audible italics from garcia on “take my advice you’d be better off *dead*” & followed by DIRE WOLF, with its “don’t murder me” chorus. wild & semi-disorienting co-leads by garcia & weir on EASY WIND. deeply present garcia vocals on the 1st great CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER, over the top & intense, the 1st of many suite-ish pairings with HIGH TIME, equally intense. extra-charged GOOD LOVIN’, too. in the middle of all this, 1st recorded version of CUMBERLAND BLUES, rare garcia/lesh/hunter co-write, sung by garcia/lesh/weir over hot-rodded country-psych groove. 96-minute mega-sequence DARK STAR > THE OTHER ONE > DARK STAR > UNCLE JOHN’S THEME > DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > CAUTION > THE MAIN TEN > CAUTION > BID YOU GOODNIGHT just keeps giving & giving. post-verse DARK STAR rises up through the FEELIN’ GROOVY jam & straight into a far-out OTHER ONE, riding back into a DARK STAR peak before lesh leads the charge into the most realized UNCLE JOHN’S THEME, filled with triumphant garcia licks. slammin’ 37-minute CAUTION, depending how you count it, driving the late jam energy level way into wider spaces than TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT, filled with walking bass heaviness & sparkling 8-minute feedback/organ/volume swell coda. a mid-CAUTION reel flip makes the sequence a bit confusing when an unidentified rando suddenly appears on mic to read a poem before band slips into 3 minutes of THE MAIN TEN, proto-PLAYING IN THE BAND jam. no idea. one of mickey’s friends? BID YOU GOODNIGHT feels slightly more crackling, too, with the fuller set of lyrics. was this the night garcia was extra-dosed? who knows? maybe it was one of the more discombobulated sets from december, but i hope not.

11/15/69 crockett: a moratorium day benefit. highlight is mini-suite with the 2nd CUMBERLAND BLUES bouncing right into CHINA SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER, followed by the now-customary breath-pause segue before HIGH TIME. enjoying TC’s bright B3 between the beats on CUMBERLAND, especially. 43-minute (ack) TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT with long amp outage. weir is of no help when enlisted for crowd-work, leading bad singalong. pig grabs harmonica, jams with drummers & keeps going when the guitars come back. sounds boss! wish he did this more often.

11/21/69 sacramento: 1st birthday party for sacramento freeform FM station KZAP, with the now-ubiquitous commander cody & plus a.b. skhy (feat. howard wales). 2 45-minute sets with a tech intermission. CUMBERLAND BLUES & CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER are subtle anchors, great high-energy pivots between americana & psychedelia that make the whole flow more coherent. the compact GOOD LOVIN’ continues to yield subtle wonderfulness in its post-DRUMZ pocket, tonight driven around an ambiguous jazzy mode & building back to chorus.

12/4/69 fillmore west: 1st of scheduled 4 nights with flock & humble pie. stage announcements about the free festival with the rolling stones scheduled for saturday at sears point, including where to meet by the golden gate bridge for a bike pool. by the end of the night, organizers will be on the hunt for a new location. 1st BLACK PETER, garcia & hunter’s existential masterpiece, lyrics stemming from a notoriously bad trip by hunter. the song/structure are formed, the arrangement/dynamics are not. kinda herky jerky. great confident vocal by garcia, though. 38-minute DARK STAR > HIGH TIME. DARK STAR opens almost aggressively fast with drum kit from the start, a rarity. could be the mix, but feels disjointed. a few lovely bass leads. post-verse space builds & edges on joyous FEELIN’ GROOVY jam without ever resolving.
jerry: seeing as how we blew most of the set just remembering how to play…
phil: …so we’re gonna blow this part of the set remembering how sing a song we just learned last week.
the debut of UNCLE JOHN’S BAND, casually dropped at the end of a show. a little fast, no intro solo, but the verses & lilting/uplifting harmonies are worked out & stunning. outro jam curls alluringly, before last chorus & reprise of 1st verse as ending.

12/5/69 fillmore west: the last night of the ‘60s, the evening before altamont. with the venue nailed down for the next day’s free festival, more pre-altamont chatter. sez weir, “bear wants me to tell you to bring dope.” 2nd version of BLACK PETER feels more formed already. taper snaps along with CUMBERLAND BLUES & sings badly with COSMIC CHARLIE. less amusingly, in order to save tape/battery, he also pauses between songs (& during THE OTHER ONE drum break!), losing potential snippets of altamont banter & tantalizing bits of music. big: 12-minute CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER is longest yet, with a tiny taste of CAUTION during the transition. bigger: the 1st RIDER with jerry’s solo “i wish i was a headlight on a northbound train” verse. alluring sliver of UNCLE JOHN’S BAND followed by tiny fragment of THE MAIN TEN & a clean move into a gorgeous (& prescient) IT’S ALL OVER NOW, BABY BLUE. “that was me tying my shoelaces, in case you’re interested, folks,” the taper announces during segue.

12/7/69 fillmore west: opening with the 3rd version of BLACK PETER, a perfect post-altamont dirge, 10 minutes & taking its time. wonderful stark full group playing, so stark that the B3 is almost prominent. the sunshine is way compact, including the revived DANCING IN THE STREET, GOOD LOVIN’ (with garcia & weir co-leads), plus CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER (garcia’s “headlight” solo verse gone again) bridging to ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. might be the weird mix, but lots of back-channel full-group jams/conversations make an otherwise standard 27-minute LOVELIGHT fairly enjoyable, including lots of TC’s B3.

12/10/69 thelma: a tiny & briefly-lived club on the sunset strip called thelma. 5-song guest appearance by stephen stills, his 2nd of year, playing guitar on 5 songs & leading 1. he’s mildly discernible on CASEY JONES & shreds with garcia on GOOD MORNING LITTLE SCHOOLGIRL & EASY WIND. someone’s playing harmony lines & it sounds cool. stills leads BLACK QUEEN, from his self-titled 1970 debut, which will return the next time stills does, in another 14 years. TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT cuts off after 3 minutes, which i think i’m fine with. late show cuts off after 27-minute THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE > COSMIC CHARLIE, which is too bad because it’s a pretty decent audience tape for the era.

12/11/69 thelma: BLACK PETER starting to explore ways to get from dirge to big garcia solo. drums disappear from DIRE WOLF, traded in for hand percussion, tightening up & paving the way for acoustic sets to come. early set closes with 46-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > CUMBERLAND BLUES. DARK STAR is almost by-the-book, imploding & following a glowing path upwards, flowing into peaks via the FEELIN’ GROOVY jam. transition into THE ELEVEN feels extra-exploratory with misterioso bass leads. 1st time CUMBERLAND BLUES comes out of a segue, which also seems to really lock in its manic LSDC&W groove. late show highlighted by intricate DANCING IN THE STREET, rapidly becoming a centerpiece again with good flow between drummers. never long enough. set capped by 26-minute THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE > COSMIC CHARLIE.

12/12/69 thelma: over both shows (& 3+ hours of music), the dead play 7 of the 8 songs that will comprise “workingman’s dead,” with great dynamics from dramatic HIGH TIME to drumless DIRE WOLF, where TC’s B3 sounds vaguely garth hudson-y. in late show, 12-minute UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > HE WAS A FRIEND OF A MINE, garcia kinda blows through the UJB outro & covers with vocals. jam spirals smoothly into 1st verse of the penultimate HE WAS A FRIEND, an eloquent coda rather than a springboard of its own. call for requests yields 54-minute show closing ALLIGATOR > CAUTION > BID YOU GOODNIGHT, the jams getting good after the ALLIGATOR drum break & better during CAUTION. controlled mayhem but mayhem nonetheless.

12/13/69 san bernardino: with the flying burrito bros. & country joe & the fish at the swing auditorium. a decent showcase with occasional odd vibes. deep garciaing on HARD TO HANDLE. BLACK PETER has moved almost instantly from dirge to dramatic showstopper. garcia digs into his falsetto there & on CUMBERLAND BLUES. deep jams & expansive pigologues during TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT, including discourse on pocket pool vs. real pool. pig gives shit to weir: “why don’t you tell somebody a stor-ay?” plug gets pulled after 24 minutes.

12/19/69 fillmore auditorium: 1st ever acoustic grateful dead acoustic set opens their last stand at the original fillmore auditorium. lesh is late, so garcia & weir do 4-song acoustic set, all dead debuts. the taper (bear?) pans voices/guitars around weirdly at first. weir does MONKEY & THE ENGINEER, a kids song learned via jesse fuller, formerly done by mother mccree’s. garcia’s LITTLE SADIE (via clarence ashley) is dark & gothic. lovely harmonies on stovall/george’s country standard LONG BLACK LIMOUSINE. BEEN ALL AROUND THIS WORLD feels well-worn. before latter, weir plays part of a tune that sends both into giggles. can anybody ID it? when lesh shows, band debuts the short-lived MASON’S CHILDREN, garcia & hunter’s 1st altamont answer song & maybe the dead’s last garage-psych blaster. cool 3-part lesh-heavy harmonies & questing solos. slight lyric difference, 1st line is “*the* mason died on monday…” so many new songs! UNCLE JOHN’S BAND starting to get slightly tamed. beautiful minimal intro solo by garcia with a vaguely calypso lilt & B3 counterpoint. mickey seems to be playing hand percussion during the verses, which keeps groove light.

12/20/69 fillmore auditorium: band opens with brand new MASON’S CHILDREN for 2nd night in a row, feeling their way between the verses. that & CUMBERLAND BLUES are the only songs played all 3 nights. 14 are only played once. 51-minute DARK STAR > ST. STEPHEN > THE ELEVEN > NEW SPEEDWAY BOOGIE. post-verse quiet builds into impressive B3/gong cloud & exquisite builds & valleys, including FEELIN’ GROOVY jam, en route to 2nd verse. great constanten throughout. debut of NEW SPEEDWAY BOOGIE, garcia/hunter’s 2nd altamont song, ominous & doom-laden & timeless. but a mess tonight, trying to find the tempo. the fairly involved answer vocals by weir & lesh don’t work, either, especially weir’s falsetto. its only time in the jam slot. pig & band don’t sync on 35-minute TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT, the band (intentionally?) blowing through several “now, wait a minute”s, collected as supercut at end of “dave’s picks 6.” nice ending with mickey’s cannon, though. anyone ever seen a picture of it?

12/21/69 fillmore auditorium: short sunday set opens with 16-minute SMOKESTACK LIGHTNING > NEW SPEEDWAY BOOGIE. 1st SMOKESTACK since june. i think weir is trying to play slide in places? wrong year, buddy! 2nd SPEEDWAY has better executed answer vocals, soon toned down. another raging MASON’S CHILDREN. after slopping it up at the family dog in late summer, NOT FADE AWAY returns for good. weir counts it off & begins with vocal, buddy holly-style. pigpen does answer vocals & harmonica. 27-minute GOOD LOVIN’ > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > CUMBERLAND BLUES. not many zags in centerpiece OTHER ONE, floating in place, but still enjoyably conversational.

12/26/69 dallas: bill the drummer’s plane is late, so garcia & weir stall with 40 minutes of acoustic tunes, apparently not entertaining the idea of playing with only mickey. repeating 4 from last week at the fillmore, they introduce 3 new ones, jerry trying to hold crowd. a heckler complains that LONG BLACK LIMOUSINE sounds like country music on TV & garcia replies with one of my favorite all-purpose responses to anything: “hey, it’s not my fault if you watch TV, man!” (weir: “i watch all the country music i can on TV.”) only version of GATHERING FLOWERS FOR THE MASTER’S BOUQUET, bluegrass/gospel from 1948, led by weir, “more or less in keeping with the spirit of the season.” 1st acoustic BLACK PETER & thrilling UNCLE JOHN’S BAND, lesh joining on vocals, hart on light percussion. electric portion is a little rough around the edges & crowd doesn’t seem to be into it. during tuning break, garcia: “man, this place is really quiet, no kiddin’, are you people all sitting in the dark watching us goof around up here? …anybody want a microphone?” 24-minute DARK STAR veers into spare tangent before 1st verse. drums enter gradually with the sputnik figure &, amid dubby percussion noise, jam ascends on deep garcia inversions & fuzzed bass into the FEELIN’ GROOVY & TIGHTEN UP themes. tape flips at end of DARK STAR & cuts back after 1 verse of NEW SPEEDWAY BOOGIE. maybe nothing missing or (as on 12/19) the rest of a suite. brief 14-minute TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT closer. promoter: “you’ve just had it done to you by the grateful dead.”

12/28/69 hollywood, FL: the middle day of the miami rock festival, billed as the last rock festival of the ‘60s. very festival energy, opening midway through BLACK PETER, slightly less dirge-like for festival duty, mostly pumping through big bouncing new tunes. CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER feels keyed up. punchy banter as pig urges the crowd to come closer & chaos ensues. pig: “if them things fall down it’s in *TROUBLE CITY* for you…  if you stay, you might get smashed, so it’s your decision.” apparently one of the light towers actually does falls over? (i absolutely adore the expression “in trouble city.”) MASON’S CHILDREN busts deliciously into jammyland. another “compact” 17-minute TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT, this one getting abstract just before the ending, with gongs & garcia inversions & new pig melodies to match.

12/29/69 boston: maybe the 1st weather-themed opener, with COLD RAIN & SNOW. BLACK PETER & EASY WIND feel sluggish this evening. MASON’S CHILDREN soars into mini-quest, though no destination. over 2+ hours, only 2 songs played during 3-show run in boston in april. before the 2nd set, garcia: “okay, is everybody ready to boo-gie?” (big cheers.) i can’t tell if garcia is being ironic or if he’s using the british pronunciation & we should’ve been calling it “new speedway boo-gie” all along? indistinguishable offstage screaming during GOOD LOVIN’ drum break, followed shortly by rando grabbing the mic, “I’LL GET THE FUCKING MICROPHONE–“ & sounds of rando being hauled away. thankfully, @internetarchive user Renegade53 provides an explanation. closing the show, 1st of many ST. STEPHEN > NOT FADE AWAY pairings, here segueing at the “william tell” ending. jerry replaces pigpen as 2nd NFA vocalist during verse, though pig is still playing harmonica & howling during various refrains.

12/30/69 boston: with the introduction of the final “workingman’s dead” tunes, the band now enters the very brief half-year where the primal psychedelic repertoire lives side-by-side with the new americana at its full power. 2nd set opens with an early stunning version of UNCLE JOHN’S BAND. excellent harmonies & a beautiful middle solo that seems like it’s briefly made of light. MASON’S CHILDREN starting to sound big with good dynamics & punchy bass. delicious 45-minute DARK STAR > ALLIGATOR > DRUMZ > THE ELEVEN > ALLIGATOR > BID YOU GOODNIGHT. last ‘60s DARK STAR. ambient glockenspiel jamming before verse. long gorgeous noise-space precedes a jam that takes a thoughtful & unpredictable path to a quietly blissed peak. tape flip sadly misses the 1st segue of the suite & most of ALLIGATOR, but THE ELEVEN goes way deep, escaping its circular jam & eventually moving back to ALLIGATOR by way of the BID YOU GOODNIGHT theme & a beautiful SPANISH JAM-like rumination.

12/31/69 boston: the grateful dead ring in the ‘70s at the boston tea party, their only new year’s gig outside of san francisco. new year’s energy is palpable & band has even less planned than usual. “did you hear that, man?” jerry asks weir during a tech break. “it’s a request for the joke about the dog.” “i’ll tell you at midnight,” weir tells the crowd & that’s just what happens. at midnight, the grateful dead begin the new decade by having bob weir tell a terrible joke, while TC offers comedic organ commentary. “well, it looks like the ‘70s are gonna be weird,” garcia announces. the midnight set gets into gear with 2 semi-connected suites, both with moments of big primal thrills before trailing into nothingness, 31-minute ALLIGATOR > CAUTION & 18-minute GOOD LOVIN’ > DRUMZ > THE ELEVEN. night closes with 30 minutes of loose garage/country that sound like a late night at the family dog, opening with a stomping BIG BOY PETE & an early standalone NOT FADE AWAY. kind of enjoying TC’s absurdist B3 parts. C&W mini-set led by weir, feat. george jones’s SEASONS OF MY HEART & 1st THE RACE IS ON, which will last on/off ’til ’95. final OL’ SLEW-FOOT & last electric SILVER THREADS & GOLDEN NEEDLES. garcia finds slipstream during set/year-closing DANCING IN THE STREET.

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

 

yo la tengo, hanukkah 2019, night #8 setlist

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Yo La Tengo at Bowery Ballroom
29 December 2019
*(Hanukkah, night 8)*

opening act: Jon Spencer & the Hit Makers
mentalist: Zebrecky
mix CD: Georgia
benefiting: Equal Justice USA

whole set minus opener with Bill Frisell on guitar

Seven Day Weekend (Doc Pomus) (sung as “Eight Day Weekend”)
Return To Hot Chicken
More Stars Than There Are In Heaven
Super Kiwi
Barnaby, Hardly Working
Ashes
Detouring America With Horns
The Summer
Awhileaway
The Days of Wine and Roses (Dream Syndicate) (with Rob Zebrecky on vocals)
Little Eyes
We’re An American Band
Drug Test
I Heard You Looking (with Joe Puleo on organ)
I Feel Like Going Home

*(encore)*
Bridge Over Troubled Water (Paul Simon) (drone) (with Laurie Anderson on violin)
Venus In Furs (Velvet Underground) (with LA)
My Little Corner of the World (Bob Hilliard & Lee Pockriss) (with Marilyn Kaplan on vocals)

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yo la tengo, hanukkah 2019, night #7 setlist

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Yo La Tengo at Bowery Ballroom
28 December 2019
*(Hanukkah, night 7)*

opening act: Snail Mail
comedian: Matt Walsh
mix CD: YoshimiO
benefiting: RIP Medical Debt

Dream Dream Away
Cherry Chapstick
Avalon or Someone Very Similar
Beanbag Chair
The Race is On Again (with Dave Schramm on guitar)
Pablo and Andrea (with DS)
Season of the Shark (with DS)
From Black to Blue (with DS)
I’ll Be Around
For You Too
False Alarm
Autumn Sweater
The Story of Jazz
From A Motel 6
Blue Line Swinger

*(encore)*
with Robyn Hitchcock on guitar/vocals
Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window (Bob Dylan)
Kill Your Sons (Lou Reed)
Drug Train (The Cramps)
I Wanna Destroy You (Robyn Hitchcock)
Love (Robyn Hitchcock)

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yo la tengo, hanukkah 2019, night #6 setlist

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Yo La Tengo at Bowery Ballroom
27 December 2019
*(Hanukkah, night 6)*

opening act: Sylvan Esso
poetry/music: Luc Sante & William Parker
comedian: Brittany Carney
mix CD: James
benefiting: National Abortion Federation

entire set with Brian Chase on drums

Out of the Pool
And the Glitter is Gone
The Last Days of Disco
Don’t Have To Be So Sad (with William Parker on bass)
Outsmartener (with WP on horn)
Song For Mahila
Above the Sound (with Nick Sanborn on electronics)
The Crying of Lot G (with NS)
Satellite (with NS)
Center of Gravity
Mr. Tough
Styles of the Times
Shaker
Decora
The Story of Yo La Tango

*(encore)*
Shock Me (Lenny Kaye)
She’s My Best Friend (Velvet Underground)
Secret Agent Man (P.F. Sloan/Steve Barri) (with Allen Hill on vocals)
Hanky Panky (Jeff Barry/Ellie Greenwich) (with Amelia Meath on vocals & Brian Chase on drums)
Fourth Time Around (Bob Dylan)

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yo la tengo, hanukkah 2019, night #5 setlist

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Yo La Tengo at Bowery Ballroom
26 December 2019
*(Hanukkah, night 5)*

mentalist: The Amazing Kreskin
organist: Josh Kantor
opening act: Sir Richard Bishop
mix CD: Mary Halvorson
benefiting: Alliance For Justice

You Are Here
The Ballad of Red Buckets (with Sir Richard Bishop on guitar & Josh Kantor on organ)
Damage (with SRB & JK)
Upside Down (with JK)
Did I Tell You (with JK)
You Baby (P.F. Sloan/Steve Barri) (with JK & Sam Elwitt on guitar)
Eight Candles (Sam Elwitt) (with JK, SE, & Kevin Micka on drums)
When It’s Dark (with JK)
If It’s True (with JK)
I Should Have Known Better (with JK)
Paddle Forward (with JK)
Government Center (Modern Lovers) (with JK)
Ohm
Our Way To Fall

*(encore)*
Beautiful World (Devo)
That’s Cool, That’s Trash (P.F. Sloan/Steve Barri) (with JK, SE, & Todd Abramson on vocals)
Tom Courtenay (acoustic version)

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yo la tengo, hanukkah 2019, night #4 setlist

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Yo La Tengo at Bowery Ballroom
25 December 2019
*(Hanukkah, night 4)*

comedian: Todd Barry
opening act: Christmas
mix CD: Laurie Anderson
benefiting: Community Musicworks & Eva’s Village

Santa Claus Goes Modern (Sven Swanson) (plus Ira as Santa)
Big Day Coming (slow)
Can’t Forget
Let’s Do It Wrong
Point and Shoot
Laisse Tomber Les Filles/Chick Habit (France Gall/April March) (with Christmas’s Liz Cox on vocals & Michael Cudahy on guitar)
Moby Octopad (with C.J. Camerieri on trumpet & French horn)
Shadows (with CC)
Black Flowers (with CC)
Before We Run (with CC)
The Kid With the Replaceable Head (Richard Hell)
Nothing To Hide
Double Dare
Heroin (Velvet Underground, Roky Erickson arrangement) (with Lee Ranaldo on guitar & vocals)

*(encore)*
Junk (Christmas)
This Ain’t the Summer of Love (Blue Oyster Cult) (with Todd Barry on drums)
Temptation Inside Your Heart (Velvet Underground) (with LR & TB)
Temptation Inside Your Heart reprise (Velvet Underground) (with LR & TB)
Maggie’s Farm (Bob Dylan) (with LR)
Mary-Christ (Sonic Youth) (with LR)

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yo la tengo, hanukkah 2019, night #3 setlist

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Yo La Tengo at Bowery Ballroom
24 December 2019
*(Hanukkah, night 3)*

comedian: David Cross
opening act: Sun Ra Arkestra
mix CD: Ira
benefiting: National Immigration Law Center

Sun Ra Arkestra horns enter during “Speeding Motorcycle” & stay for rest of set.

Here To Fall
Stupid Things
Forever
Evanescent Psychic Pez Drop
Walking Away From You
The Weakest Part
Five-Cornered Drone (Crispy Duck)
Speeding Motorcycle (Daniel Johnston)
Dreaming (Sun Ra)
Clumsy Grandmother Serves Delicious Dessert By Mistake (Jad Fair)
Emulsified (Rex Garvin & the Mighty Cravers)
Big Day Coming (fast)
Little Honda (The Hondells)
Nuclear War (Sun Ra)

*(encore)*
This Diamond Ring (Gary Lewis)
Walk Away Renee (The Left Banke)
I’ll Be Your Mirror (Velvet Underground)

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yo la tengo, hanukkah 2019, night #2 setlist

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Yo La Tengo at Bowery Ballroom
23 December 2019
*(Hanukkah, night 2)*

comedian: Fred Armisen
opening act: Lucinda Williams
mix CD: Lariane Newman
benefiting: Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide

whole set with Janet Weiss on drums/percussion

Rock and Roll Santa (Jan Terri)
Green Arrow
Sudden Organ
I Was the Fool Beside You Too Long
She May, She Might
Madeline
I’m On My Way
Wallflower (Bob Dylan) (with Lucinda Williams on vocals)
Pale Blue Eyes (Velvet Underground) (with LW)
Get It On (T-Rex) (with LW, and Fred Armisen on drums)
Deeper Into Movies (with FA on keyboard)
Artificial Heart (with FA on drums)
Sugarcube (with FA on drums)
Mushroom Cloud of Hiss (with FA on drums)

*(encore)*
with Lenny Kaye (guitar/vocals), Bruce Bennett (guitar), Miriam Linna (percussion)
Yesterday’s Numbers (Flamin’ Groovies)
Have You Seen My Baby (Randy Newman)
Teenage Head (Flamin’ Groovies)
Slow Death (Flamin’ Groovies)

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