Jesse Jarnow

alternate routes, episode 07

Alternate Routes
with Jesse Jarnow

1. “Trip Slug” – Bilders
Bilders USA recordings (unreleased)

2. “The Fading of An Old World” – Jonathan Richman
featuring Jonathan’s former Modern Lovers bandmate (& ex-Talking Head) Jerry Harrison
from SA (Blue Arrow Records)

3. “Faint Smell of Moss” – Dark Meat
from Teal Clods From Tim’s House (Free Music Archive)
coming soon on LP via Sunwatcher Records

4. “Telluride Speed” – Ryley Walker
Ryley Walker (guitar)/Bill McKay (guitar)/Ryan Jewell (drums)/Scott Colberg (bass)
NYCTaper recording made at Bowery Ballroom, New York City, NY, April 29, 2018.
studio version on Deafman Glance (Dead Oceans)

5. live at Union Pool – Chuck Johnson
NYCTaper recording made at Union Pool, Brooklyn, NY, April 12, 2018.
see also: Balsams (VDSQ)

all tracks posted with permission of artists/labels
DJ bed music by Paul Blanding

alternate routes, episode 06

Alternate Routes
with Jesse Jarnow

1. “He Sold His Soul” – Willie Klein with Two-Mule Team
recorded at Wonders of Nature, Brooklyn, NY, September 15, 2018
originally on Tape #1 & Mofungo’s Out of Line

2. “Even Now” – Sue Garner with 75 Dollar Bill & Talice Lee
recorded at Union Pool Front Room, Brooklyn, NY, July 16, 2017
originally on Shadyside (Thrill Jockey)

3. “WZN #4″ – 75 Dollar Bill
recorded at Monty Hall, WFMU, Jersey City, NJ, October 7, 2017 (Free Music Archive)

4. “Sycamore” – Antenna
from You Don’t Have To Be Fashionable, vol. 6 (With A Messy Head)

5. “Hablo Picasso” – Carton Sonore
from You Don’t Have To Be Fashionable, vol. 6 (With A Messy Head)

6. “Out & In” – Sonic Youth
from Not The Spaces You Know, But Between Them (Three-Lobed)

7. “Za-Zen” – The Pen Test
from Interstate (Moniker)

all tracks posted with permission of artists/labels
DJ bed music by Paul Blanding

alternate routes, episode 05

Alternate Routes
with Jesse Jarnow

1. “Bread and Roses” – Marisa Anderson
PhilaTaper recording made at Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art, July 5, 2018
recorded on Traditional and Public Domain Songs
new album Cloud Corner (Thrill Jockey)
PhilaTaper GoFundMe for Katie Wescott

2. “Deep Sea Diver” – Gwenifer Raymond
from Deep Sea Diver 7-inch (Tompkins Square)
new album You Never Were Much of a Dancer (Tompkins Square)

3. “Current” – Kristin Thora Haraldsdottir
from VDSQ Solo Acoustic, vol. 14 (VDSQ)

4. “The Two Worlds” – Brigid Mae Power
from Live at WFMU on This is the Modern World With Trouble, July 5, 2018 (Free Music Archive)
new album The Two Worlds (Tompkins Square)

5. “I’d Rather Be Hayin’” > “Space Drums” > “Route 5″ – Wet Tuna
from Livin’ The Die (CD: Child of Microtones, LP: Feeding Tube, cassette: Baked Tapes)

all tracks posted with permission of artists/labels
DJ bed music by Paul Blanding

alternate routes, episode 04

Alternate Routes
with Jesse Jarnow

1. Sarah Louise – “Hellbender”
from VDSQ Acoustic Series, vol. 12 (VDSQ)

2. Itasca – “No Consequence”
with Dave McMaster on pedal steel
from Live at WFMU on the Avant Ghetto with Jeff Conklin, May 30, 2016 (Free Music Archive)

3. Paul Blanding – “Sketch #4 (Predator)”
from Krampusnacht (Music For An Unwritten Puppet Opera) (Bandcamp)

4. Thumbscrew – “Unconditional”
Michael Formanek (bass) / Tomas Fujiwara (drums) / Mary Halvorson (guitar)
from Ours (Cuneiform)

5. Chris Forsyth & the Solar Motal Band – “Dreaming in the Non-Dream”
with Peter Kerlin (bass), Jason Robira (drums), and Ryan Jewell (drums)
NYCTaper recording made at Union Pool, Brooklyn, NY, July 28, 2018

all tracks posted with permission of artists/labels

#deadfreaksunite 1977

#deadfreaksunite 1977
tape-by-tape notes

An extended listening project tracking the Grateful Dead’s evolution, recording by recording. Originally posted on Twitter on each show’s 40th/50th anniversary and edited here for readability and occasional revision/correction and minor expansion. Many shows streamable via archive.org.

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

2/26/77 san bernardino: 1st dead show under a democratic administration since the day the band allegedly dosed hugh hefner. 1977 opens with debut of TERRAPIN STATION (properly, LADY WITH A FAN/TERRAPIN STATION). brisk & slightly rough &, like, pretty epic. debut, too, of weir’s fully-formed 7/8 space-reggae jam-piece, ESTIMATED PROPHET. globs of garcia mu-tron & godchaux synth-clav color. maybe it’s the mix or all the harmonics thrown into SUGAREE, but weir seems to have new effects/compression on his guitar, too. misterioso garcia thrills, assertive piano, & a sea of cymbals lead glorious drift in 25 minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > THE WHEEL > PLAYING. SLIPKNOT shortening & loosening, drama lessening. would love a chart of garcia’s most frequently mangled couplets in FRANKLIN’S TOWER. EYES OF THE WORLD shifts into 2 minutes of just phil, keith, & drummers. big bass chords & quick sparkling dissolve to DANCING IN THE STREET.  AROUND & AROUND features full weir/donna shriek out & 1st signs of weir’s falsetto post-show “thank you!” squeak.

2/27/77 santa barbara: sunday night boogie in a college gym, surviving as solid audience tape by rob bertrando. ESTIMATED PROPHET played again (& at most ’77 shows), garcia embracing gnarly guitar-is-talkin’-to-me auto-wah. cooly aching PEGGY-O. GOOD LOVIN’ moves to 1st set, loses jams & vitality. last SCARLET BEGONIAS before discovery of FIRE. donna moans, jerry fractals. w00! 2nd set suite begins with ST. STEPHEN, pleasantly without NOT FADE AWAY inside for 1st time since june. NOT FADE AWAY follows anyway. post-DRUMZ garcia twofer: 2nd TERRAPIN STATION with glorious, building 1st MORNING DEW of the year as epilogue.

3/18/77 winterland: opener of 1st multi-night winterland run since 10/74. ’77 mojo almost in place, 3 major new songs on display. 1st gloriously sprawling ’77 SUGAREE, almost 15 minutes. l’il dead air but much flow, piano color, & garcia’s 1st use of effects on the song. dampened SCARLET BEGONIAS into 1st FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN. no intro solo yet, dynamics TK, but big ending. an instant 2-chord jam standard. bill graham apparently hosted a giveaway quiz show at setbreak, which sounds like a very good or very bad improv comedy set-up. TERRAPIN STATION (garcia’s last prog tune?) with sole live AT A SIDING coda, instrumental only. a mystic destination, sadly abandoned. 10 minutes into 20 minute NOT FADE AWAY, garcia & mu-tron find new path to big peak. vocal ending flows into graceful ST. STEPHEN.

3/19/77 winterland: night 2 of 3. BERTHA opener still growing into new blocky & less swingin’ rhythm, keith finding piano corners. unusually heady close to long 1st set, 50m of ESTIMATED PROPHET, TERRAPIN STATION / PLAYING IN THE BAND > SAMSON & DELILAH > PLAYING. garcia sounds fully inside TERRAPIN STATION lyrics. elegant piano & panic inducing tape flutters. 1st next-beat segue into PLAYING. momentum, space, & patience with ideas from all on both sides of great 31m PLAYING/SAMSON/PLAYING segue, especially drawn-out reprise. grace & compelling music within, but 48m EYES OF THE WORLD > DANCING IN THE STREET > WHARF RAT > FRANKLIN’S TOWER feels scattershot. feels like they forgot how to jam on EYES, drummers staying static while other 4 go wild, but retreating & dissolving just as quickly. laser guitar bulletpoints on DANCING much more successful, ditto full force UNCLE JOHN’S BAND encore, 2nd in 2 shows.

3/20/77 winterland: sunday night dead. technically the 1st spring ’77 show. a few stunning spots, but mostly just very good. 1st BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE since 9/75, in fine shape, only song played from jug band era thru nearly the end. only ’77 version. last standalone SCARLET BEGONIAS, 13 minutes & wondrous. keith on synth for 1st time as garcia scouts new valleys. sublime inventive peak. faster than usual ROW JIMMY has more magnificently lyrical than usual solo & piano counterpoint, earning audible cheer on soundboard. after 10 locked in minutes, THE OTHER ONE breaks into another 5 minutes of almost entirely solo garcia, spinning threads out in space. on the other hand, the synth definitely doesn’t work on STELLA BLUE. 1st TERRAPIN STATION encore. satisfying!

4/22/77 philadelphia: spring tour ’77 opens! before the show, keith haring sells his bootleg dead t-shirts in the parking lot. despite dropped lyrics by garcia (an increasingly common occurrence), magnificent 10 minute MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP with big rippling crests. purposeful 21-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND to close 1st set. stays busy with cool double-drumming, mini-pockets, far-out synth colors. 2nd SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN, a conversational & wide open path, rare song designed to be only jammed into. donna chants “fire! fire!” semi-off-mic during shift into FIRE. still 2 verses, lyrics jumbled or unfinished, tangible sense of play. great 20 minute DANCING IN THE STREET with long-unfurling ribbons of neon garcia but for some reason weir sings GOT MY MOJO WORKING. nope. nice garcia pair of THE WHEEL > TERRAPIN STATION to close encoreless show, latter with goofy 8-bit sounding polymoog.

4/23/77 springfield, MA: haven’t done the math, but tuning breaks seem to be getting longer in ’77. weir teases BLACKBIRD during one. no jam in CASSIDY yet, but garcia finds multiple cool turns in 48s solo. hadn’t noticed it missing, but 1st ME & MY UNCLE since 6/75. one big story of the tour is the arrival of keith godchaux’s polymoog synth, almost as big a change as having 2 drummers again. polymoog shows up on LOSER, SUGAREE, & other older tunes, sometimes a bit awkwardly. surf-like on ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT. synth sounds better on newer songs, like break in MUSIC NEVER STOPPED & semi-drones in SLIPKNOT with cool garcia response. speedy SCARLET BEGONIAS takes quiet way into FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN, wordless donna jean sounding more like patti smith than karen dalton. FIRE & ESTIMATED PROPHET are A+ platforms for almost-comprehensible garcia guitar chatter, ready for subtitling by acidhead linguists. huge FRANKLIN’S TOWER melts very briefly to audience tape at 1st peak, fun trompe l’oeil-like moment.

4/25/77 passaic: 1st of 3 nights at the *other* capitol theater. garcia’s vocals sound great everywhere, SHIP OF FOOLS especially. though mickey hart’s been playing it since 6/76, SCARLET BEGONIAS has completed transition from delicate groove to tom-tom thunder. could be the mix, but FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN feeling a mite sluggish, even as garcia’s solos hone in on his steel drum vibe. unlike FIRE (where garcia hasn’t sung a full 2nd verse yet; will notify when he does), he’s got the TERRAPIN STATION narrative down. small window of phil/garcia/billy free improv kicks in PLAYING IN THE BAND, weir disappearing for stretches, defaulting into DRUMZ. 16 minute WHARF RAT has most thoughtful jam of show, 6 minutes of weaving that might not go back into PLAYING but inevitably does.
4/26

4/26/77 passaic: crappy audience tape early on followed by great multi-camera footage of entire 2nd set & more. video has multiple revelations. one is that the stage lights go off during the long-ass tuning breaks. was that standard in ’77? garcia is at nearly Full Muppet (© @thoughtsonthedead), esp. during DEAL & ESTIMATED PROPHET, all animated eyebrows. very present. i think there are more shots of keith godchaux than all other 1972-1978 videos combined. but also the audience is sitting during DEAL? detailed jam in 14 minute DANCING IN THE STREET unfolds to slow rolling garcia slide guitar, chill marching drums, & perfect dancing piano. nicely liquid & sweet tempo’d EYES OF THE WORLD in post-DRUMZ slot breezes into space until drummers cut it off with SAMSON & DELILAH. great set, way fun to watch the musicians work throughout, especially the quiet drama of rare standalone STELLA BLUE.

4/27/77 passaic: last of 3 at the capitol & another remarkable multi-cam closed-circuit video. but why is the front row sitting?! again, could be the mix, but i think the tom-toms have finally overrun whatever sustained delicacy was left in LOOKS LIKE RAIN. godchaux still learning to drive his polymoog, sounding a little clumsy on ROW JIMMY & definitely more stiff than his piano playing. nifty laser beam pitch-bending by keith on ESTIMATED PROPHET. guitar solo seems about to turn jammy until weir cuts it off. band seems a little, um, *up* for set 2, especially. SCARLET BEGONIAS so brisk that garcia is almost shouting. same on RAMBLE ON ROSE. amazing to see full video of a ’77 SCARLET > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN, garcia almost dancing, looking as exuberant & blissed as the jam. economic 16 minute SCARLET > FIRE, with 1st lesh-led segue into GOOD LOVIN’. too soon, but successful upshift give or take a brief stutter. TERRAPIN STATION requires something with gravitas to follow it. a jam? silence? here, a heavy MORNING DEW. works.

4/29/77 the palladium: the dead begin a manhattan residency in the spring of punk. just like before europe ’72, the dead take up for 5 shows at NYC’s old academy of music on 14th street. tight 29-minute HELP ON THE WAY/SLIPKNOT!/FRANKLIN’S TOWER is perfect opener. short rich SLIPKNOT! that doesn’t delve far. during FRANKLIN’S, someone (on the audience tape, i think, but can’t be sure) rings a bell at the appropriate lyric. excellent swirl. fierce set-closing MUSIC NEVER STOPPED with rolling drawn-out peak. SUGAREE has backchannel drumz jam going on behind garcia’s solo. most of the show exists only as a muddy audience tape by jerry moore, except for 3 as filler on download series. SCARLET BEGONIAS takes bright CHINA/RIDER-like turn, veering into GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD, its last non-FIRE destination for a year. back to audience for NOT FADE AWAY jam, short bass solo, musical dissent, DRUMZ, & moar jerry: THE WHEEL decelerating into WHARF RAT. i sometimes wonder if any of the CBGB regulars made it into any of the palladium gigs & what they thought.

4/30/77 the palladium: crystal clear soundboard reveals highs & lows of godchaux’s polymoog on opening MUSIC NEVER STOPPED. for 1st time, weir pairs two country songs with a next-beat segue, in this case MAMA TRIED > ME & MY UNCLE, a favorite trick thru ’95. excellent 1st set jerry in PEGGY-O (getting less spare by the show) & another multi-peaked & mighty MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP. rare phil setbreak banter sighting: “thanks, folks, we’re gonna take a short break. y’all can do whatever you want to.” SCARLET BEGONIAS methodically climbs to a more leisurely FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN. another quick dive to GOOD LOVIN’, a new norm.
in NOT FADE AWAY, weir heads for DANCING IN THE STREET, but garcia goes weird, keith gets noisy, drummers go off auto-pilot, & woooo. they land in a gently rushed STELLA BLUE, building back to ST. STEPHEN, band thrashing on riff until they finally find reentry point. encore is TERRAPIN STATION’s NYC debut, getting big cheers when then song starts, as if everybody knows it already.

5/1/77 the palladium: granted, i don’t listen to many audience tapes, but the 1st “freebird!” i’ve heard so far, just before CASSIDY. debut of donna jean godchaux’s 1st dead tune, SUNRISE. i actually like the tune, but also an energy drain midway into a dead set. developed & multi-chorused BEER BARREL POLKA because “billy had to catch the late flight to acapulco,” if you needed a new euphemism. solid 45-minute 2nd set jam suite (PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > COMES A TIME > PLAYING) fits perfectly on tape side. as so often in ’77, PLAYING & THE OTHER ONE are good but unadventurous & COMES A TIME is just jaw-dropping (with dramatic outro jam). sweet, confident BROKEDOWN PALACE encore, 1st since 10/74 & 1st with donna. smooth mid-tune polymoog switch by keith.

5/3/77 the palladium: tape flutter on soundboard adds analog nostalgia to slow jerry tunes like ROW JIMMY, PEGGY-O, & SHIP OF FOOLS. welcome return of JACK STRAW, 1st since 10/74 & 1st with donna taking over phil’s part. not as sharp as it’ll get, but sounding good. really digging these semi-regular blocks of 2nd set garcia, tonight FRIEND OF THE DEVIL & then 26-minute EYES OF THE WORLD > WHARF RAT. EYES on-point from the start, wonderful jerry vocal & short jam that opens into cool refreshing passage of almost totally solo garcia. last pre-cornell NOT FADE AWAY arrives at brightness by end. multiple voices shouting for TERRAPIN before encore.

5/4/77 the palladium: last of 5 nights in NYC & ready for the tour proper. big jams & nice soundboard with tuning breaks edited out. another typically dazzling MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP flows into BIG RIVER, less a segue than a pick-up, but a logical & lovely pairing. mixed properly (ie. very low), mickey’s SCARLET BEGONIAS cowbell almost sounds delicate, a little chaotic web for garcia’s guitar. great filler/oldie-free 2nd set, capped by TERRAPIN STATION & thorough, winding 37-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > COMES A TIME > PLAYING. drummers have to reset groove when COMES A TIME hits 1st change, but a real stunner with patient PLAYING reprise.

5/5/77 new haven: on the 12th anniversary of the warlocks’ 1st show at magoo’s pizza parlor, the sleeper of spring ’77′s big 4. wonderful 15 minute SUGAREE rolls from big noodle peak back down to quiet noodle canyon, like a hippie-jam version of terry riley’s “in c.” weir continues to establish his 1st set C&W double-slot, this time MAMA TRIED/EL PASO. PEGGY-O a showcase for weir’s guitar curlicues. garcia clearly ready to go out on ESTIMATED PROPHET, continuing to solo under weir’s final “nah nah”s instead of reverting to changes. some days, i prefer this SCARLET BEGONIAS to the cornell version, the jam getting more detailed & further afield before the climb. FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN is a bit sleepier. nice shimmering fade on ending theme with a logical but magic-snuffing segue into GOOD LOVIN’. only standalone ST. STEPHEN of tour. ecstatic garcia riffage, lots of weir in the mix (here & for whole show), & mild TRUCKIN’ themes. opening with PROMISED LAND & encoring with JOHNNY B. GOODE, the dead continue to pledge allegiance to chuck berry.

5/7/77 boston garden: a classic & early high-rotation tape for me. everything smokes. tuning breaks edited for official release. thx! rare to hear keith godchaux as conversational, from BERTHA opener on. still only 45 seconds, but cuz of keith, CASSIDY solo is now a jam. quality weir banter, wishing kreutzmann happy birthday when it’s actually his birthday for once. rare on-mic appearance by mickey. great color/shapes by weir & cool interplay with keith on enormous 12:30-minute MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP with extended ending jam. HALF-STEP so good that it buries keith’s switch midway to globby (but creatively played) polymoog. easy conceptual fade to BIG RIVER. 2nd set opening TERRAPIN STATION is at full glow, keith finding cool new piano spaces even in the relatively static (so far) outro. hey, keith’s dubby percussive polymoog on ESTIMATED PROPHET is way boss, too. somehow didn’t realize he was the tape’s secret hero. lesh sets tone on 11m EYES OF THE WORLD with big bass lead in intro. never a dull moment, all clearly listening hard to each other. perfectly patient post-DRUMZ build to THE WHEEL with equally great exit, very out for ’77. more lit keith & stretches of solo jerry. another reason i love this show (especially in the tape era): no songs i’d skip until set-closing AROUND & AROUND.

5/8/77 cornell: and here we are. took me a long time to accept this show/era as magical. the dead at their most normal. far out! all the songs just bop along, dependable & solid, with great singing/energy/dynamics, etc., somehow both intimate/close & enormous. i was shocked to eventually discover barton hall is a field house. i’d envisioned a lecture hall based on crowd on the soundboard. another way to dig godchaux’s polymoog on LOSER & other garcia songs: as stylized soundtrack to ’70s sci-fi westerns, maybe italian? as sweet as this ROW JIMMY is (& it’s sweet!), the polymoog & mickey’s pronounced backbeat keep me from liking it more than the ’73s. 16 minute DANCING IN THE STREET doesn’t go anywhere in particular, just grooves while garcia runs delicious riffs thru his mu-tron pedal. whether the best or not, surely the definitive SCARLET BEGONIAS/FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN. perfect & triumphant with effortless flow. delirious bass slides fire SCARLET & godchaux’s WTF harmonized piano riff unfolds throughout jam, only time that happened, i think. for 1st time, garcia gets all but 1 line in FIRE! while gorgeous, the solos never felt transcendent to me. heresy! still THE version. all-time peaks in 16 minute NOT FADE AWAY & 14 minute MORNING DEW. stunning fluid double drumming on DEW peak. also: jerrrrrry! [i also wrote a long review about the may '77: get shown the light box set.]

5/9/77 buffalo: another flawless night. @samgustin calls set 1 “the 3rd set of 5/8,” with no repeats from the evening before. promoted by future miramax magnates bob & harvey weinstein, who perhaps ripped the dead off. increasingly rare & magnificent HELP ON THE WAY/SLIPKNOT!/FRANKLIN’S TOWER to open. rad, weird chord colors from weir in ace SLIPKNOT. 2nd set opens with 1st of many BERTHA/GOOD LOVIN’ pairings. really not a fan of the latter’s jamless post-’76 versions. just an oldie. thrillingly, ESTIMATED PROPHET cracks open for 1st time, floating away from 7/8 time on expanded garcia phrases & out into jam space. fun-filled 42 minute jam sequence of ESTIMATED > THE OTHER ONE > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > COMES A TIME, getting even better post-DRUMZ. NOT FADE AWAY is as bright as night before & gets weirder as it winds into COMES A TIME, which is capped by peak lyrical garcia solo. unusually, garcia leads transition into SUGAR MAGNOLIA & it’s so gradual that it restores some chillness to the tune.

5/11/77 st. paul: little delights throughout the 1st set, including squiggly new places in RAMBLE ON ROSE & even LOOKS LIKE RAIN. masterful 13 minute big/small/big SUGAREE. good mix for digging weir’s oddball upper register non-reggae rhythms on ESTIMATED PROPHET. great singin’ on both SCARLET BEGONIAS & FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN. seam-exposing transition & laidback FIRE until tumbling last solo. 1st non-encore UNCLE JOHN’S BAND since 10/74. 15m with questy jam, drummers moving into quiet with garcia. then, wondrous solo jerry. give or take the polymoog burp-drone organ, a flawless BROKEDOWN PALACE encore, jerry in perfect voice. (st. paul was also one of the shows where keith haring sold his bootleg dead t-shirts. read more in my book heads.)

5/12/77 chicago: 1st of 2 at creatively named auditorium theatre. great, of course, but comparably few eye-bulging moments. off-mic, mickey exhorts bobby to deliver “seatbelt” joke about venue’s balcony. to billy (presumably) “he didn’t deliver it right.” 55 minute 2nd set jam suite: TERRAPIN STATION / PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > COMES A TIME > PLAYING IN THE BAND. PLAYING is pretty static, but NOT FADE AWAY dazzles for last 4 minutes, effortless head jazz flow carrying especially to PLAYING’s ending. every ’77 COMES A TIME should be a national holiday. garcia’s voice is some kind of astonishing here. his solo, too.

5/13/77 chicago: 1st JACK-A-ROE, radical folk about male-presenting sailor. jaunty! garcia gets all the words. 1st set ending SCARLET BEGONIAS/FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN transition breaks down to drums/bass. uncharacteristically jambandy. mellow FIRE. 16 minute OTHER ONE long/wild for ’77. loud spiraling garcia with few sprung clock mini jams & another quiet, gorgeous solo jerry valley. final STELLA BLUE solo perfect & so very patient, surprise landing at semi-rare GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELIN’ BAD.

5/15/77 st. louis: 2 more debuts, 1 soon-familiar pairing, 1 fresh tuning move, & no hometown chuck berry covers on a sunday special. 1st PASSENGER, by lesh/peter monk, sung by bobby/donna. big energy & garcia slide. maybe lesh’s most structurally simple/direct song? after PASSENGER, a hot 3m, mickey off-mic to weir: “we gotta let the end of that cook longer!” 1st FUNICULI FUNNICULA tuning jam. 19 minute DANCING IN THE STREET 1st set closer goes further than much-loved 5/8 version, hitting assertive 2 guitar tangle mid-jam. set 2 jumps right into 35m ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > SAMSON & DELILAH. 1st ESTIMATED/EYES, norm ’til late ’80s. ESTIMATED only breaks free of 7/8 briefly, but good drama. EYES takes its time. flowing bass intro & short well-developed outro. ST. STEPHEN veers into NOT FADE AWAY as usual, but garcia & co. sing IKO IKO atop it before singing NFA. fun but half-baked. 10 minute NOT FADE AWAY defaults to boogie & gets interesting & way cool for last 2m before weir starts SUGAR MAGNOLIA.

5/17/77 tuscaloosa: 1st show in alabama. could be recording, but amped up. phil no longer sings, but mucho surliness both off/on mic. noir-shuffle on JACK-A-ROE, like never-ending tour dylan. PASSENGER doesn’t jam (& won’t, really), but great underrated set addition. 1st HIGH TIME since 9/76 tour opener, sounding only slightly tentative at the start. happily/unexpectedly, keith sticks to piano. another delicious set-closing SCARLET BEGONIAS/FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN, mickey singing (i think) his FIRE verse way off-mic around 8:50. deep pathways in groovy-but-sure-wish-it-was-longer PLAYING IN THE BAND, kicking off 37 minute PLAYING > DRUMZ > WHARF RAT > PLAYING. 5 minute DRUMZ finds a little topography. “my hands are insured” someone says. given mickey’s post-tour accident, wonder if that was true. to cool effect, garcia builds into WHARF RAT intro as drumzers are still drumzing. short heady path back to PLAYING.

5/18/77 atlanta: a beautiful betty board taped over a non-dead tape somewhere on the chain. spectral signals during tuning breaks. only ever DEAL opener. besides that, EYES OF THE WORLD, & JACK-A-ROE, though, garcia calls exclusively slow, meandering songs. dripping 8-minute IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES has only the briefest of solos & clear swaying garcia/donna/weir harmonies. 24 minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES not extraordinary, but generous with overflowing happy garcia leads. moar solo jerry in THE OTHER ONE. the quiet garcia comes to anti-climax with nearly 16 minute & sometimes discombobulated STELLA BLUE, guitar like a flickering candle. nice moment in song i don’t really care for: AROUND & AROUND gets quiet, garcia’s guitar hyperfuzzed & bubbling over.

5/19/77 atlanta: in set 1, surf’s mostly up during 16 minute SUGAREE. 14 minute DANCING IN THE STREET is peak mu-tron rainbow lasers by garcia. sing-songy garcia solos in RAMBLE ON ROSE & ESTIMATED PROPHET set bright keynote for jams to come. could live inside either. sweet flow & surprise twists in 56 minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > DRUMZ > THE WHEEL > CHINA DOLL > PLAYING IN THE BAND. 11 minute PLAYING goes full star-splatter. electrifying turn into UNCLE JOHN’S end jam, returning to song proper via vocal tag. only time? DRUMZ is a bummzer when UNCLE JOHN’S seems ready to rage & 7m THE WHEEL feels short, though stellar placement/momentum/playing. 1st CHINA DOLL since 10/74, 1st with mickey. too many damn cymbals. lovely besides. lurching shift back to PLAYING but jam gets deep. few long segue sequences from spring ’77 are this satisfying. 3 garcia songs, 2 big jams, 1 bust-out, 1 total oddity.

5/21/77 lakeland: nicely building JACK STRAW, :30 longer & way fiercer than most of tour, garcia clearly lit when they hit last vocals. full stop before SCARLET BEGONIAS jam leads to slightly different rhythmic feel, carrying to woozy FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN garcia swirl. 72 minute suiteness: ESTIMATED PROPHET > HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > COMES A TIME > ST. STEPHEN > NOT FADE AWAY > ST. STEPHEN. slightly awkward dissolve from ESTIMATED into 1st HE’S GONE of the year, which hits jamming speed & is immediately detoured by DRUMZ. fun ride but OTHER ONE feels like spaceship on autopilot. semi-solo jerry bridge to ’77′s last gripping COMES A TIME.

5/22/77 hollywood, FL: 1st official live release from 1977 (may or otherwise), from 1995, great show with a fun abnormality. 16 minute SUGAREE, maybe perfect, drummers guiding song up/down. garcia guitar fans & a few moments of excellent cascading free flight. hot moves in 9 minute LAZY LIGHTNING/SUPPLICATION, 14 minute DANCING IN THE STREET, & 2nd set opening HELP ON THE WAY/SLIPKNOT!/FRANKLIN’S TOWER. main action is in 53 minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > WHARF RAT > TERRAPIN STATION > MORNING DEW. ESTIMATED/EYES transition is still mostly bullshit, but EYES is bright & opens to short jam that dissolves into 2 minutes of near-solo jerry. immediately after WHARF RAT, garcia accidentally(?) hits mid-TERRAPIN STATION changes, skipping “lady with a fan” section & jumps in. funny that twice in 3 shows garcia jams into a song’s ending & then never again, as far as i know. but, hey 4 straight jerry songs. perfect fade segue into 1st MORNING DEW since cornell, not as intense, but with perhaps deeper valleys.

5/25/77 richmond: “dave’s picks, v. 1″! archetypal may ’77 yummys on all fronts, at a shriners’ temple. also a 5.1 fan mix. like 5/22, PEGGY-O is less delicate than earlier takes, but still crisp, its punchiness now happily escaping the island-folk groove. last may ’77 SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN, totally even-keel build, never quite peaking but patiently untying knots. 64 minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT > OTHER ONE > THE WHEEL starting to resemble ’80s 2nd set form. short ‘n’ smooth deceleration from ESTIMATED into HE’S GONE, but still shocked that the former hasn’t yet lit out for the territories. thrilling moments in OTHER ONE, almost breaking thru to space-jazz weirdisms, but momentum & rhythmic disagreements turn to WHARF RAT. quick easy turn from 2nd OTHER ONE verse into THE WHEEL, pristine while they’re playing it though weir’s outro jam ripcord is bogus. even after 2 listens, i don’t totally understand how AROUND & AROUND got to be over 8 minutes & not sure if i care to.

5/26/77 baltimore: unusually for the dead, band waits to start until more people to arrive (according to weir). good seats available. explosive fireworks-in-the-daytime garcia solos in BROWN EYED WOMEN & BERTHA. either band is adjusting to BERTHA’s new groove or i am. double-time jam in SUGAREE turns into detailed world of its own, spiky lead punctuation by weir, with equally conversational comedown. despite an opportunity for a local baltimore shout-out, weir shows surprising restraint & skips DANCING IN THE STREET. digging the breadth of the lesser ’77 songs: folky JACK-A-ROE (here, really up), power rawk PASSENGER, & even donna’s swaying SUNRISE. psychedelic half of jam-suite (TERRAPIN STATION > ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD) is same length (32 minutes) as oldies portion. drag. ESTIMATED feeling properly chill. short but spaced jam winds down logically before starting into laser-sharp EYES.

5/28/77 baltimore: to paraphrase composer lou harrison: everything must come to an end, even may ’77. non-stop 34m BERTHA/GOOD LOVIN’/SUGAREE 3fer to open. fake splice segues, but real momentum & energy. besides new songs, SUGAREE is tour breakout, nearly doubling in length since fall. 19m with seamless bliss in & out of double-time. 1st CANDYMAN since 10/76. garcia mildly shaky on intro. while nice under wordless oohs, chintzy new polymoog part is distracting. righteous surprises in 67 minute ESTIMATED PROPHET/PLAYING IN THE BAND > TERRAPIN STATION > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > WHARF RAT > PLAYING. for a few seconds near very end of ESTIMATED, garcia seems to be pushing towards TERRAPIN, but weir cuts him off with song end. 11 minute PLAYING stays compelling. polymoog on verses pleasantly evokes baroque TC-era organ. scattered jam with rad ambient synth washes. vibey crossfade into TERRAPIN. typically powerful, spawns 1st improv: 30s of tantalizing PLAYING jam before surrendering to DRUMZ. 15m NOT FADE AWAY boss throughout. intro jam like reverse MIND LEFT BODY. post-verse space-dance locks tight with new weir changes. in flip of usual, WHARF RAT > PLAYING REPRISE punctuate NOT FADE AWAY. much cooler set-capper than more oldies.

6/4/77 the forum: the dead’s debut at LA’s fabulous forum, audience recording only. charming crowd chatter. woman: “i wonder if we’ll ever see CHINA CAT again?” (eventually.) mildly gnarly tape makes music edgier, even on wee TENNESSEE JED jam. garcia plays cool circles around intro/melody on great CANDYMAN. 90 minutes of 2nd set song suites. jams aren’t always successful or long enough or fluid, but held together by sense of fun & movement. 30 minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > DRUMZ > GOOD LOVIN’. if drummers were on board, ESTIMATED/EYES segue would be perfect. big wide EYES, 1 minute of teasing jam. ugh, weir’s 1st GOOD LOVIN’ ad-libs: “even in russia! (got to have lovin’) even in china!” er, bob? 56 minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > FRANKLIN’S TOWER > CHINA DOLL > NOT FADE AWAY > PLAYING has dead air & disagreement, but a lot goin’ for it. incoherent PLAYING space-out drops into FRANKLIN’S which, instead of endless boogie, springs into nifty & more coherent space-out. dig CHINA DOLL’s polymoog harpsichord. chaos as NOT FADE AWAY comes in way too fast, but hits fun corners at speed.
6/7

6/7/77 winterland: 1st of 3 tour closers at home, each casually excellent summations of era. keith’s last run playing acoustic piano. tuning jam on 1880 italian hit FUNICULI FUNICULA is almost a full performance, 2 articulated minutes of cartoon soundtrack dead. 2nd set opens with last SCARLET BEGONIAS > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN of spring ’77, taking valley route to a many-colored fireworks show. 35m ESTIMATED PROPHET > HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > SAMSON & DELILAH sags in middle, though crisp NOBODY’S FAULTy blooze in HE’S GONE is nice. 25 minute TERRAPIN STATION > MORNING DEW goes from good to fuckin’ luminous. DEW’s 1st solo & last big burn feel more daring than 5/8, even. also the last MORNING DEW of 1977, appearing one time each in ’78 & ’79, but basically in hibernation until 1980. smell ya later, DEW. garcia extra-lit at show’s end, even AROUND & AROUND. ace sunshine solo & widening jam on UNCLE JOHN’S BAND encore.

6/8/77 winterland: 2nd of 3 tour closers in former SF ice palace. pulling to another era’s close. vivid tape & performances. last SUGAREE with keith on piano & a 16-minute classic. double-time waves come & go, crashing into long imaginative solo & 3rd verse. realizing that keith godchaux’s move to electric keyboards will be almost as big a tonal change as return of mickey hart’s 2nd drums. riveting PASSENGER. real talk: i’ll take donna’s SUNRISE every day over anything any of the keyboardists wrote/sang, excluding pig. BERTHA/GOOD LOVIN’ opens set 2, fixed pairing over next years. former is big & comfy, latter is big & overexcited, courtesy hart/weir. beaming moments across 2nd set jam suite. 19m EYES OF THE WORLD & 14m OTHER ONE float with elegance but open magically near ends. garcia, weir, & donna achieve sweet blend on masterful BROKEDOWN PALACE, keith’s soulful piano adding a lot, too.

6/9/77 winterland: A+ soundboard & a motherlode for weir variations on the “just exactly perfect” in-joke/cosmic philosophy. almost every song is a goodbye to keith’s grand piano, gone after this show. on THEY LOVE EACH OTHER, garcia’s solo carves open space. garcia is extra-present, playing with melody/phrasing on joyful DEAL & intimate LOSER (& beyond), inventiveness carrying into solos. all is great, really. even feelin’ weir & donna’s LOOKS LIKE RAIN duet, with deft piano. SUNRISE builds to AOR psych-prog grandeur. maaaaybe the all-time HELP ON THE WAY/SLIPKNOT!/FRANKLIN’S TOWER with powerful & deep 9 minute SLIPKNOT jam & 17 minute free-flying FRANKLIN’S. even end of 48 minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > ST. STEPHEN > NOT FADE AWAY > DRUMZ > ST. STEPHEN > TERRAPIN STATION > SUGAR MAGNOLIA is graceful. mondo jerry jamz on ESTIMATED, still wishing they’d go all-in, but effortless melt into ST. STEPHEN, with successive waves of cheers. double-encore is last ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT with genuine boogie-woogie piano & then it’s adios to spring ’77. and 11 days later, mickey’s car accident & the last summer without any dead shows for 18 years, minus the englishtown labor day mega-jam.

9/3/77 englishtown: the dead, marshall tucker, & new riders at [high-pitched voice] raaaaceway park! in lieu of a summer tour, the dead play to 125,000 people in new jersey, birthing a new generation of deadheads. (patrolled shipping containers lined the concert side to prevent the usual festival gatecrashing. apparently it worked.) never really got into this show when i had it on tape tbh. too big & shouty & not enough jamming. can hear (some of) the appeal now. 1st gig with keith godchaux solely on electric keys & since mickey hart’s june car accident. drums starting to loom over rest of sound. PEGGY-O filled with textbook lesh basslines, subdividing/pushing/reframing melody & rhythm. drums ride the breaks hard. some cooking garcia in MUSIC NEVER STOPPED 1st set closer & BERTHA/GOOD LOVIN’ 2nd set opener, but harsh edge abounds. choice banter: weir on mickey’s alien communications & “just exactly perfect” variations, including sweet phil soliloquy. phil in transylvanian accent: “we will all be beautiful together when it is perfect! is it not so? is it not written in the sky?” 23 minute ESTIMATED PROPHET/EYES OF THE WORLD floats in place, but never flies. apparently, an unexplained setbreak after SAMSON & DELILAH. most interesting improv cascades out of last few minutes of HE’S GONE into unusually open intro to 20 minute NOT FADE AWAY. 1st TRUCKIN’ since 9/75 & lesh’s vocal return, with falsetto weir shrieks. messy/hilarious/worrying attempts at post-peak reentry. for encore, bellowing phil & what was supposed to be full TERRAPIN STATION suite, with weir on doubleneck guitar, but mickey bails. imperfect show that marks the beginning of a new era for dead & heads, essentially lasting ’til “in the dark.”

9/28/77 seattle: fall tour opener. godchaux’s electric keys make everything sound just off. could be mix, but drums feel overbearing. fun climbing jam on TENNESSEE JED opener, electric dixieland with joyous sing-song vistas & flourishes, nearly missing reentry. PEGGY-O illuminated again by phil’s odd subdivisions. FRIEND OF THE DEVIL has queasy keys & unceasing unchill 2nd snare. 1st DIRE WOLF since 10/74. intro riff up an octave & a bit slower. jauntiness replaced by 2-drummer plod, almost escaping during solo. EYES OF THE WORLD jams for a short breath, with garcia & keith locking in, even after the drummers have course set for thuddery. zonky drumless jerry space between NOT FADE AWAY & WHARF RAT, some seeming tempo battles on the latter, resolving to swooping solo. for once, a decent segue into AROUND & AROUND, but still so much of what i find tame about post-hiatus dead.

9/29/77 seattle: another mix where drums seem to lead instead of garcia, especially 1st 5 minutes of SUGAREE & end of FRANKLIN’S TOWER. suiteless 17 minute standalone FRANKLIN’S TOWER lurches with new extra-accented gait. nice valleys. wordless soul cooing before last chorus. really wonderful vocal performance by garcia on SHIP OF FOOLS, partially muted by bored-sounding/unswinging metronome-like 2nd snare. not much for jammin’. temple bells surface briefly & gorgeously in DRUMZ. TRUCKIN’ soundin’ more together with 2 big bright peaks. STELLA BLUE loses focus during 2nd half, but guitar solo transforms into a surprise up-shift into GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELIN’ BAD. on UNCLE JOHN’S BAND encore, garcia finally cracks door into deep jam space for agonizingly brief, beautiful moment.

10/1/77 portland: what a difference a mix makes. drum energy still feels over the top, but beautifully framed in a stereo board tape. uptempo 1st set. DIRE WOLF punchier than comeback version. TENNESSEE JED solo bubbles over again. glimmering MUSIC NEVER STOPPED peak. cooperative steering on jam suite, especially during smooth & amorphous downshift on 23m EYES OF THE WORLD > DANCING IN THE STREET. 1st BLACK PETER since 10/74 is a stunner. purdy piano, bass punctuation, jerry/donna sounding great. all on same page, even drummers. earlier MUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES is likewise at excellent tempo. not quite delicate, but never dirge-like. great singing. okay, fine, once this AROUND & AROUND kicks in, there’s some ace non-sloppy boogie-oogie-oogie & jerry shreds.

10/2/77 portland: 1st CASEY JONES since 10/74 opens (& 1st with mickey since 2/71). garcia spaces verse(s) & decent vamps ensue. mightily jacked-up JACK STRAW, yeesh. another uptempo 1st set with no slow tunes minus donna’s SUNRISE, still oddly interesting to me. 1st DUPREE’S DIAMOND BLUES since 7/69, oddly served by metronomic drums. garcia articulating lyrics, very present. neat donna part. 12 minute LET IT GROW is overblown in best way. flashes of prog-era jerry as he alternates knotty soloing/comping. dashing piano chords.
4 shows & finally 1st SCARLET BEGONIAS/FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN. 24 minute with beautiful arpeggio pools by keith on FIRE, almost finding exit. oh & phew, it’s 1st jam show of tour. 21 minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > THE WHEEL followed by 27 minute TRUCKIN’ > OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT. short heavy PLAYING, billy’s snare dancing old style, phil conversing with jerry. peaceable crossfade into DRUMZ via temple bells. powerful, together TRUCKIN’ remembers jam, though steers instantly to condensed 2-verse 7m OTHER ONE, ever-churning.

10/6/77 tempe: only 67 minutes circulate, from king biscuit flower hour. other recordings seem to be composites from fall shows? only pictures i could find from 12-show early fall ’77 tour, confirming garcia switched back to playing wolf & lost his shampoo. charged NOT FADE AWAY turns corner near MIND LEFT BODY before beautiful garcia disassembly into another detail-filled BLACK PETER. slinky exit move from BLACK PETER, too, garcia’s solo seeming to suspend gravity for a second as band shifts back into NOT FADE AWAY. not enough to redeem it, but AROUND & AROUND has a skewed phil-driven breakdown before final yowlfest.

10/7/77 albuquerque: just the 2nd set circulates. an hour’s worth of segues with nice moments but only a little jamming. 1st TERRAPIN STATION of tour, weirdly. longest yet, only cuz garcia forgets verses. guitar confidence returns when he remembers words. 11 minute PLAYING IN THE BAND gets dense & heady just before DRUMZ, dissolving too briefly to bells/whistles/sirens/cymbals. still, nice! tape splice into 2nd IKO IKO. just-baked-enough high altitude boogie. garcia knows more words now & leans in, which is cool. no jam on THE WHEEL sadly, but WHARF RAT peaks gloriously, drops into short wide open zone, & peaks gloriously again.

10/9/77 denver: LAZY LIGHTNING/SUPPLICATION down to tight 7m. underrated l’il jam in general. keith’s electric tone getting harsh. long, satisfying 14 minute SUGAREE, garcia spiraling up & up & up & elegantly down. as good as spring, but less pleasing due to mix & keys. another totally burning MUSIC NEVER STOPPED, garcia’s guitar solo over-saturating the soundboard tape during big string-fanning peak. garcia drops 2nd verse of SCARLET BEGONIAS. formerly a novelty, probably this is the tour where i stop noting when it happens. grungy electric keys kinda work for the SCARLET jam, sleepy 2-chord bed that lands in FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN at pleasant easy pace. smooth deceleration from ESTIMATED PROPHET into HE’S GONE, with short but stunning/spare/inventive pre-verse solo by garcia. pro accelerating count-off segue into TRUCKIN’, back at full bluster & coming to a clear end, jerry improvising a coda before DRUMZ. for the 1st time (& for reasons i’ve never understood or investigated) weir squeaks a falsetto post-set “thank you!”

10/11/77 norman: fat jammin’ tuesday on 1st visit to oklahoma in 4 years. 2 big’ns to bookend 1st set & 89 minute 7-song (+ DRUMZ) set 2. 25 minute HELP ON THE WAY/SLIPKNOT!/FRANKLIN’S TOWER, last ’til ’82, opens. late SLIPKNOT! messiness, but whole is still elegant. le sigh. LET IT GROW getting bigger, lightspeed jam with room for everybody. always wish it would fly open, but here lands softly at setbreak. 17 minute DANCING IN THE STREET is among longest ever, boogie-in-place rainbow shimmy & warp/woof weaving by garcia/phil/weir/keith. 25 minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD doesn’t go far, but great longform garcia threads, gliding transition, & interlocking jams. intricate quiet jerry before NOT FADE AWAY, speeding up into bright double-time, veering into elegant coda, & dropping into WHARF RAT. WHARF RAT itself is a bit muddled, but thrilling ascending jam mid-song before descent to AROUND & AROUND.

10/12/77 austin: only outdoor show of tour. “y’all make sure to huddle together to keep warm,” suggests phil before setbreak. gorgeous vocal performance by garcia on slowly unfolding FRIEND OF THE DEVIL, starting to shake the hippie reggae for stoned marching. underrated: bobby/donna/jerry vocal parts on ESTIMATED PROPHET. the martian blues are nice, but lately never go far into orbit. wish the lovely 1m of temple bells/cymbals to start DRUMZ lasted longer before the thump-th’-th’-thumping. so ready for DRUMZ/SPACE. 10 minute OTHER ONE has top-speed locked-in jams, but only seems to have one setting, disintegrating almost instantly after 2nd verse. on the other hand, BLACK PETER is 15 minutes, un-dirge-like, & overflowing with soulful vocals & 5 minutes of bright & redemptive jerry blues. coolest part of TRUCKIN’ is only on the audience tape: slide into hypnotic groove that becomes 1st NOBODY’S FAULT BUT MINE since 7/74. despite its redundancy IKO IKO is a welcome variation on NOT FADE AWAY, plus good segue into SUGAR MAGNOLIA.

10/14/77 houston: hilariously big bass mix on opening JACK STRAW, louder than vocals, for full dose of ludicrous countermelodies. 12 minute MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP is at full rush as soon as soloing starts, aided by sweet (adjusted) bass mix, & only swells from there. 18 minute PLAYING IN THE BAND slides into free dead jazz & swings in space for whole jam, jerry weaving through dialogue(s). satisfying! long by recent standards, 7 minute THE WHEEL is cool/comfortable post-DRUMZ with short purposeful jam that garcia steers straight to WHARF RAT. once again, 14 minute WHARF RAT turns corner into something close to improv space, drummers at march while garcia goes a-questin’ & returns. for encore, last BROKEDOWN PALACE ’til 4/80 (more plodding & drummier than spring) drops into 6 minute PLAYING REPRISE.

10/15/77 dallas: drummers feeling the right kind of laid back for once on uptempo BERTHA as much as downtempo RAMBLE ON ROSE. garcia mayhem in LET IT GROW, a glowing refuge for prog thrills from whole gang, really. expanded middle & short explosive outro jam. not something i usually say: gorgeous vocal by donna jean on SUNRISE verses. more cosmic/ethereal than many of weir’s tunes. fite me. 38 minute TERRAPIN STATION > ST. STEPHEN > NOT FADE AWAY > STELLA BLUE feels great (esp. jerry solo on STEPHEN), but never fully liberates. if there’s not gonna be a real jam anyway, TRUCKIN’ is a cherry encore choice. huge cheer for “dallas” line, derr.

10/16/77 baton rouge: 1st LA show since 1/70 new orleans bust, closing tour’s 1st leg. great stereo soundboard, enjoyable all around. for all the times weir’s gotten crowds to wish his bandmates happy birthdays on days when it wasn’t, no one mentions it’s his 30th. SCARLET BEGONIAS locks into mellow piano groove, garcia skating peaceably around on top. stately last FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN solo. 32 minute bobby birthday suite discovers a few unexpected wide-open spaces during ESTIMATED PROPHET > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > GOOD LOVIN’. finally, ESTIMATED opens up, landing in 2 minutes of wonderful quiet space. garcia squigglies mix with temple bells & thoughtful drumzing. after bobby suite, garcia follows TERRAPIN STATION directly with ballad, dramatically arcing BLACK PETER.

10/28/77 kansas city: opening night of 8-show run from the midwest to the north country. highlights more in song moments than jams. surely fun to be had if somebody boosted the gain & transcribed the interminable tuning break between THEY LOVE EACH OTHER & CASSIDY. era when garcia stops focusing on new material, SCARLET/FIRE & TERRAPIN only played every few shows, most ’75′-’76 songs now dropped. stellar CANDYMAN. A+ dynamics, soulful singin’, warm harmonies, pleasant electric dixieland solo, bluesy piano asides, bass dabbles. shifting 56 minute down/up/down/up jam suite: HE’S GONE > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > STELLA BLUE > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELING BAD. HE’S GONE stretches to 20 minutes without much happening, nice crossfade into DRUMZ, & long NOT FADE AWAY with diggable 4m jerry space-out. powerful STELLA BLUE with big jerry vocal, nice phil/bob color, astonishing solo, upshift into peppy/swinging GDTRFB.

10/29/77 dekalb: highlights & surprises abound. opens with 1st MIGHT AS WELL since may, totally lit jerry. best ever, maybe? stunning 13 minute LET IT GROW, preview of ’80s thunder, detailed middle that takes time climbing back to frenzy, end jam now a 2 minute landing. set 2 opening BERTHA opens to a cool & unexpected piano-made valley on “ran into a rainstorm” verse, lingering a little after. 64 minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > ST. STEPHEN > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > BLACK PETER gets deep, resolves persuasively. EYES cracks into 7m of increasingly lovely garcia shapes, weir feedback, occasional counterpoint, & beautiful flow into ST. STEPHEN. mostly together STEPHEN is jubilant slo-mo setpiece. phil joins drumzers for NOT FADE AWAY intro. hilarious bass interjections ensue. long & patient BLACK PETER stays at exquisite quiet for 9m ’til garcia lets loose for last blues, both mournful & ecstatic. also, keith & donna burn down their hotel room after the show just ‘cuz, plus other details.

10/30/77 bloomington: featuring one of the most drippingly psychedelic jam sequences of the year. with few exceptions, most shows this fall are now clocking at 2.5 hours of music. less occasionally close to 3, the standard in may. weir tells joke about poaching deer that either involves unexplained physical punchline or the sudden sound of weir tackled by roadie? keith’s chintzy faux-harpischord tone achieves improbable & kinda beautiful meld with garcia’s guitar on PEGGY-O. wonderful 55m set 2 jam: PLAYING IN THE BAND > OTHER ONE > DRUMZ > THE WHEEL > WHARF RAT > PLAYING IN THE BAND. way deep for ’77. perfect warm mix highlights weir’s weird not-quite-leads/not-quite-rhythms, on PLAYING especially. maybe my fave jam(s) of the ’77? powerful & together WHEEL, weir guiding jam. big WHARF RAT chords make me miss real piano. and that guitar solo!

11/1/77 detroit: drummers & whole band playing really well & easily together, no one/everyone leading, even if it’s really drummers. powerful JACK STRAW, starting at properly chill/confident tempo. great builds by the drumzers, piano adding nicely to drama. post-DIRE WOLF, birds (or bird calls?) near stage. garcia adds an enjoyable moment of exotica slide guitar before burning PASSENGER. rare TERRAPIN STATION opener sets up non-stop 63 minute set 2. huge ending, especially vocals, & nice long landing. still want a jam there. 43  minute ESTIMATED PROPET > OTHER ONE > DRUMZ > WHARF RAT > TRUCKIN’, garcia’s transition from ESTIMATED especially time/space-suspending. after a burp, TRUCKIN’ climax works too well & band shifts into 2 minutes of cool mini-jams before remembering they no longer jam TRUCKIN’. semi-inaudible off-mic chatter throughout, feat. off-color mickey. before encore, jerry nixes a phil suggestion. can anyone tell what? ripsnortin’ US BLUES with edgy vocals, perhaps due to the looming post-show border crossing, band’s 1st since ’74.

11/2/77 toronto: 1st T-O visit since 7/70 festival express. lyrical garcia guitar delights in RAMBLE ON ROSE. great vocal, too. garcia closes 1st set with another forceful & charged MIGHT AS WELL, about trans-canada 1970 train trip with janis, The Band, & co.. keith nears 5/8 SCARLET BEGONIAS piano break & leads throughout. jerry lays back on FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN ascent, only uncoils briefly. energized 27 minute ESTIMATED PROPHET > ST. STEPHEN > TRUCKIN’. ESTIMATED grips with crackling & bent garcia solos, band wilding away. fantastic TRUCKIN’ keeps peakin’ & peakin’, clever boogie-woogie by keith. AROUND & AROUND follows & never sounded dinkier. if there’s not gonna be a mystic jam or grand statement after big TERRAPIN STATION, it might was well be the encore.

11/4/77 colgate university: homecoming at cotterel basketball court. weir wishes them well several times. big and/or long jams within. loving the bright ‘n’ jaunty ’77 DUPREE’S DIAMOND BLUES vibe. only challenge seems to be garcia remembering the lyrics. great 13 minute LET IT GROW hits bright plateau in 1st jam, opens majestically in 2nd. 1st COLD RAIN & SNOW since 9/76, only billy hits cue. hosed phil: “we’re the jones gang… on eeelectric guitar we have jerry jones.” jerry: “donna jean jones, freshly deported from canada.”  75 minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > EYES OF THE WORLD > ESTIMATED PROPHET > THE OTHER ONE > DRUMZ > IKO IKO > STELLA BLUE > PLAYING IN THE BAND. garcia soars near end of 13 minute PLAYING, flying into harshly rushed EYES, yielding neat guitar turns & nifty rhythmic clanging in outro. well-executed count-off segue into ESTIMATED, feeling looser this deep into suite. 11m of subtle chillness & spacious singsong solos. OTHER ONE down to perfunctory 4.5m. mostly exquisite STELLA BLUE expands with graceful drama on way back to PLAYING.

11/5/77 rochester: near riot getting in, heads pushed through glass doors in bad-vibed mob scene. also, what’s up oberlin squad? rowdy crowd. performances just about back at spring consistency. big 12m MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP one of many garcia highlights. great jerry vocals abound: there, DIRE WOLF, MUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES, BLACK PETER. lovely bluesy piano asides on together CANDYMAN. bass, tuning cloudburst, & rare EYES OF THE WORLD set opener. slow & right on. 2 bass solos, fluid drumz segue into SAMSON & DELILAH. jam is 49m ESTIMATED PROPHET > HE’S GONE > PHIL/DRUMZ > OTHER ONE > BLACK PETER. all but DRUMZ over 10m, each its own kind of static. heady detailed interplay though little movement on ESTIMATED. kinda subdued OTHER ONE but all keep listening hard.

11/6/77 binghamton: maybe the all-time great MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP to open. hyper-enunciated solos/vocals. much of set 1 right up there. sparkles all over, even MEXICALI BLUES/ME & MY UNCLE. big MUSIC NEVER STOPPED. bright dynamics/slide guitar color on SAMSON & DELILAH. not sure how i feel about this SCARLET BEGONIAS/FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN, though. feels l’il empty. nice bliss late in transition jam. garcia lyric-mangling on FIRE is buzzkill, but jam heats up after 1st vocals. will he ever sing 2 complete verses? tune in next tour! 44 minute ST. STEPHEN > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > WHARF RAT > ST. STEPHEN > TRUCKIN’. nice late STEPHEN detailing, but doesn’t take off ’til band coheres from 1st the big WHARF RAT peak through short ST. STEPHEN bridge into powerful blooze cruise TRUCKIN’.

12/27/77 winterland: the grateful dead begin 1st bay area new year’s run. new year’s energy palpable. or maybe it’s just edge city. hyped & tight, lots of garcia shreds. drummers (mickey?) keep pushing BERTHA chorus into doubletime, adding a manic queasiness. tempo continued into GOOD LOVIN’. all in all, they almost sound like a different band from the rest of ’77, mega-charged & subtly different dynamic. after slowing down 1971-’74 & especially post-10/77 comeback, DIRE WOLF now back to ’70 speed & sounds (maybe) even better. before SCARLET BEGONIAS, weir makes springy guitar noise. garcia: “that’s horrible, man! no!” weir keeps doing it. solid & true 17m SCARLET > FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN, garcia only briefly stumbling on FIRE lyrics! cascading keys & soaring guitar colors. when they finally wind-down to post-TRUCKIN’ space, music feels restless, the energy only working when in forward motion. but HE’S GONE & WHARF RAT both move with nice, medium-slow tempos. even more, drums stay respectful & chill. also, heaviness: last run before garcia loses his voice for a few shows & (some say) never quite got it back fully.

12/29/77 winterland: tempos normal after jacked-up opener. weir: “our new name is gonna be the just exactly perfect brothers band.” last SUGAREE of the year is 14 minutes. cool & effortless if not quite glorious, with a quiet/purdy between-verse group valley. tuning before 2nd set has jerry/keith/weir noodling with 5-note alien call from close encounters. keith can’t quite get it. 54m PLAYING IN THE BAND > CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER > CHINA DOLL > PLAYING JAM > DRUMZ > NOT FADE AWAY > PLAYING. 16 minute PLAYING floats along, finding colorful shapes around 11m, spinning them briefly & dripping into space before garcia starts the 1st CHINA > RIDER since 10/74, instant eternal bounce. donna’s vocal replaces phil’s. garcia audibly psyched to be singing/playing it. elegant descent from RIDER to CHINA DOLL, last ’til 5/79. synth dominates early, but garcia’s vocal is jawdropping. good guitar, too. RIDER > CHINA DOLL segue is like a 1-time(?) successful on-the-fly version of the semi-fixed RIDER > HIGH TIME transition from ’70. rare double encore leads with final TERRAPIN STATION of ’77 & last with jerry’s “young” voice.

12/30/77 winterland: great show with 1 of year’s best jams. wonderful jerry vocals on MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP, SHIP OF FOOLS, & everywhere. ROW JIMMY & DIRE WOLF both have especially grand/expressive jerrying. LET IT GROW (weir still calls it “weather report”?) flickers hot. another CLOSE ENCOUNTERS alien call tuning before the 2nd set. “soon now!” phil announces, confidently. the 36m ESTIMATED PROPHET > EYES OF THE WORLD > ST. STEPHEN would feel a mite lacking as a jam suite if not for that EYES. like, whoa. big crests after 1st verse of 15 minute EYES, taut solo & easy sailing into magical post-song group improv over shifting minimalist swing. video confirms what i suspected: EYES gets rad when mickey moves to percussion & band reverts to quintet. cool to see them jamming in close. a logical (if not fully elegant) upturn into ST. STEPHEN transitions the evening into the party zones.

12/31/77 winterland: a fun way to end the year, but not one of the all-time enduring grateful dead concerts, musically speaking. some decent song versions (JACK STRAW) & another articulated FUNICULI FUNICULA tuning, but not much for the highlights reel. midnight comes half-hour late cuz bill graham had to be at santana but then he rides over crowd on a motorcycle & CHAOS! SUGAR MAGNOLIA! NAKED PEOPLE! 1978! SCARLET BEGONIAS starts casually. some blazing moments, but lurches into FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN. mickey cowbells for disconcertingly long time after FIRE ends. 19m TRUCKIN’ is a mess & garcia disappears for full 5 minutes, though jam goes to a few curious piano/bass-led corners when he does. keith adds semi-ambient keyboards during DRUMZ, an idea i like a lot… or maybe he’s just falling asleep. someone check on him, please? at the end of the night & the last recording of 1977, bob: “merry christmas.” accurate summation of the year, anyway.

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

#deadfreaksunite 1976

#deadfreaksunite 1976
tape-by-tape notes

An extended listening project tracking the Grateful Dead’s evolution, recording by recording. Originally posted on Twitter on each show’s 40th/50th anniversary and edited here for readability and occasional revision/correction and minor expansion. Many shows streamable via archive.org.

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

5/28/76 orpheum theatre: 1st of 3 circulating rehearsals from sessions that seem to have started in mid-april. crisp 2-drummer mix. could be stockholm syndrome, but i might like parts of LAZY LIGHTNING, 1st rehearsed in ’75. really feeling the jam into SUPPLICATION. 1st ATTICS OF MY LIFE since ’72, not played onstage ’til ’89. almost convincing, minus mickey & keith’s reggae. phil critiques donna. recorded in ’72, played once in ’74, weir seems to write new & final CASSIDY intro on the spot & everyone else knows just what to do. 1st COSMIC CHARLIE since ’70. despite alleged ’76 lethargy, think it’s actually at same tempo as earlier versions.

5/29/76 orpheum theatre: 2nd circulating 45 minute rehearsal fragment, split evenly between EYES OF THE WORLD & PLAYING IN THE BAND. ’76 has reputation for slowness, but EYES is faster & busier, lazy gait turned to a gallop. nice quiet places, plus mickey cowbell. PLAYING definitely slower & tentative as they relearn. 1 full take, 2 subdued donna wails, good spacin’, meh reentry.

5/30/76 orpheum theatre: last pre-tour rehearsal. WHARF RAT kept earthbound by too many cymbals/drums. round-toned overdrive solo. 1st recorded run-through of THE WHEEL, released on garcia’s solo debut in ’72 & losing the spaced pedal steel & but getting dreamier. CANDYMAN is few clicks faster than ’74, donna’s harmony replacing phil, but the intimacy & urgency seem gone.

6/3/76 portland, OR: the grateful dead return to road after 19-month break. debuts, bustouts, rearrangements, & new M-E-L-L-O-W vibe. big part is the mix, but so much feels mushy & imprecise & sedate. mickey’s drums busy up everything & redraws center of band. 3 party-starting debuts (MIGHT AS WELL, SAMSON & DELILAH, LAZY LIGHTNING/SUPPLICATION), though psych/prog ambition seems nearly gone. 1st CASSIDY since 3/72, 2nd ever, doesn’t have a jam yet. dead debut of THE WHEEL, which kind of *is* a jam but doesn’t get to do so. rearranged THEY LOVE EACH OTHER goes reggae-y & works. DANCING IN THE STREET (1st since 1970) goes disco, jams, & is very silly. gravity-free moments in DANCING, burbling 10m SCARLET BEGONIAS (a fine place for mickey, for now) & elsewhere, but little flow. 33 minute late show HELP ON THE WAY/SLIPKNOT!/FRANKLIN’S TOWER opens into big exploration, loses way, hints at ’73/’74 EYES ending. weir’s between-verse disco-soul grunts on HELP ON THE WAY are totally unacceptable.

6/4/76 portland, OR: 1st slowed-down FRIEND OF THE DEVIL, which is beautiful, but just not as fun & folky as earlier. debut of garcia/hunter’s magnificent MISSION IN THE RAIN, played only briefly by the dead. not there yet. hoping to find a keeper. weir repeats 6 of his 9 songs from 1st night, garcia only MIGHT AS WELL & HELP/SLIPKNOT/FRANKLIN’S, getting into legit space again. 1st COSMIC CHARLIE since ’70. no slower, just less bounce. already mellow before, ’76 STELLA BLUE now too sleepy.

6/9/76 boston music hall: 1st east coast dead show since 8/74, 1st of 4 in boston & start of month-long tour sold by mail order only. counting bust-outs, just under 1/2 of 3-hour show is new to the band’s repertoire since last time through town. sloppy starts/ends. beginning of SCARLET BEGONIAS jam is mickey’s cowbell versus donna’s wail. cowbell wins but we all lose. settle down beavis! (he doesn’t.) great 11 minute CRAZY FINGERS, richly developed & dipping into denser & darker territory before collapsing suddenly. bummer, man. much clearer soundboard mix than portland shows. great singin’ on SHIP OF FOOLS. can just hear garcia’s voice starting to fray. 1st ST. STEPHEN since 10/71. crowd freaks. the tempo is only a l’il slower but is tamer & muted. bridge now a waltz. new jam, too. EYES OF THE WORLD bucks ’76 trend of slowness & gets speedy/messy. cool nooks & jam before vocals, but losing some earlier elegance. 1st HIGH TIME since 7/70. well suited to slower dead & even donna’s voice, though definitely one too many drummers.

6/10/76 boston music hall: odd & enjoyable mix with keith godchaux’s piano near front. sweet jams with garcia on expanding SUGAREE. [sold myself on the idea that LAZY LIGHTNING/SUPPLICATION is actually tasty, well-rehearsed disco-prog. just hope the jam opens up. stellar 2nd version of MISSION IN THE RAIN, underrated brooding hippie soul by garcia. besides a few drummerly nits to pick, a keeper. why couldn't they ever count off HELP ON THE WAY & start together? SLIPKNOT! opens up wide & resolves gracefully & dramatically. LET IT GROW establishing its place as reliable portal to detailed high-speed dead jazz, with new DRUMZ break & blustery weir drama. good deep space in PLAYING IN THE BAND once mickey chills out, reconstructing to great full-band jam with all contributing. PLAYING almost becomes 1st great segue of '76, falls apart, & then is just that, slinking into DANCING IN THE STREET.

6/11/76 boston music hall: big cheer after "tell everyone you meet that the candyman's in town" in CANDYMAN. jerry's a cartoon now. 1st show with cheers for meta-lyrics identified with the musicians. happens on "band beyond description" in MUSIC NEVER STOPPED, too. band finds excellent quiet spot in SCARLET BEGONIAS, give or take beavis-y cowbell. lovely coos & ooos by donna late in the jam. some quick-cut segues, including seemingly planned late-set EYES OF THE WORLD/STELLA BLUE inside SUGAR MAGNOLIA/SUNSHINE DAYDREAM. EYES darts coolly & confidently, ending drama deleted, & dissolves to STELLA BLUE, tom-tom clunk creeping like kudzu.

6/12/76 boston music hall: another great MISSION IN THE RAIN vocal by garcia. quizzical & just-exactly-imperfect solos, but a stunner. LAZY LIGHTNING & SUPPLICATION is one of the dead's more underrated post-'76 platforms for fast-n-squiggly garcia jams. despite general unpredictability of '76, open-ended improv is far reduced & virtually absent from this show except in small blurps. garcia adds extra "true to me" in WHARF RAT, start of soul belter era, & a twinkling 5 minute jam. due to FM mix, hi-hats sound like casios. 1st COMES A TIME since 10/72, with big solo & delivery. one more split-up SUGAR MAGNOLIA (with U.S. BLUES) as encore.

6/14/76 beacon theatre: 1st grateful dead show in NYC proper since 3/72. fan club only tix. mini-riots ensue. can't tell what's the bass-less '76 mix & what's the music, but PLAYING IN THE BAND has lost some warmth & its old weird & easy flow. band still trying to figure out what to do with THE WHEEL, lonely-seeming as a standalone 2nd set opener. what a great song, though. an A+ weir intro after long tech break: "we're going to try to answer the musical question, 'what happens if the music ever starts?'" another nice 10 minute CRAZY FINGERS, losing some delicacy but brushing into SPANISH JAM turf. happy to discover that it's a '76 thing, too! effective full-stop "segue" before well-placed post-jam COSMIC CHARLIE, getting successive cheer ripples as crowd recognizes it. 13m SLIPKNOT! dissolves in good & bad ways. real discombobulation but also a thread-dissolving float into garcia space & new zones. garcia seems to lose steam midway through drooping FRANKLIN'S TOWER. there's always the next show.

6/15/76 beacon theatre: TENNESSEE JED isn't that much slower than earlier versions & this one has a charming slow-motion bop. band's heavier '76 groove isn't just hart. kreutzmann also switched from matched grip to overhand to better telegraph snare hits. return of old easy ST. STEPHEN > NOT FADE AWAY pairing. former has beautiful spacious jam, latter folds shakily into STELLA BLUE. after being so perfect in '72-'74, plodding 6/76 versions of STELLA BLUE are especially hard to listen to, fragile tension seems MIA. just a wee bit blustery, but SAMSON & DELILAH is consistently popping, a tight platform for all to noodle around barest song-groove. following DANCING IN THE STREET, THE WHEEL makes it into 2nd set post-jam slot, though they don't quite figure out to jam into it yet. 5 minute SCARLET BEGONIAS goes in middle of SUGAR MAGNOLIA. cute idea that could work, ragged in execution. plus, no jam.

6/17/76 passaic: and off to 3 nights in scenic passaic at the other capitol theater. much video circulating. drum mics picking up charming mickey crosstalk. "the whole band's too fuckin' loud," as garcia counts off THEY LOVE EACH OTHER. weir reins in developing space jammin' in SLIPKNOT!, though not that gracefully, audibly counting off but most miss initial cue. funked up DANCING IN THE STREET always seems about to launch free, never does. smooth & maybe-too-easy segue into SAMSON & DELILAH. nice SHIP OF FOOLS (quiet donna!), though 2nd drums continue to subtly pull quieter songs' dynamics away from garcia.

6/18/76 passaic: dig the double drumming on cowboy songs like MAMA TRIED & BIG RIVER, locked grooves & no space for tom-tom thunder. another 13 minute 1st set CRAZY FINGERS (with relatively soft post-jam landing, even) but that's it for open-ended improv in this show. 1st few listens suggest this could be my keeper take of MISSION IN THE RAIN, good vocal & big performance. will revisit. uneventful EYES OF THE WORLD deletes end jam (sigh), opts for DRUMZ & 1st segue into THE WHEEL (yay), unjammed (boo).

6/19/76 passaic: sweet rolling garcia/godchaux mini-jam in TENNESSEE JED. pure "electric dixieland," as david crosby put it. 18 minute PLAYING IN THE BAND doesn't do much. nifty outro in LET IT GROW; cool keith figures, & smooth slide into DANCING IN THE STREET. this charming mickey, cont.: "hey, weir! how about some rock & roll?! hey, phil, why don't we do ST. STEPHEN! yeah, let's do that!" they don't. endless 20 minute boogie, starting with AROUND & AROUND. weir tells drummers to slow down. they aren't pleased.

6/21/76 philadelphia: excellent SCARLET BEGONIAS with nice non-ridiculous double-drummer peak & freakishly smooth landing. keeper version of CANDYMAN, garcia soulfully yo-yo'ing around the melody, mostly controlled & awesome, sometimes less so. well-placed IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES, rare garcia ballad as second set closer. one of my favorite underused dead moves. off-mic, band using shorthand before encore. phil: "JBG?" weir: "teargas?" (?) garcia: "sugar mag?" (they do JBG.)

6/22/76 philadelphia: big nifty jam in CRAZY FINGERS, spiraling up & semi-naturally back down into a fairly devastating COMES A TIME. 22 minute PLAYING IN THE BAND gets solidly & convincingly weird for 10+ minutes, thrilling dead-brand space jazz going in & out of focus. lesh/drummers trio leads almost-smoothly into 1st great use of THE WHEEL, slow build intro & swift effective jam into PLAYING reprise. another non-languid hyperspeed 12m EYES OF THE WORLD, heavy mickey, eventually settling in (sort of) for nice jerry-isms. no EYES outro, instead sliding into DANCING IN THE STREET, with its 1st gorgeous & semi-out between-verse jam.

6/23/76 philadelphia: thought it was dead, but weir's 1st YELLOW DOG JOKE since '72. like much else, doesn't quite pack its old punch. crowd now cheering for every reference to "the band" in THE MUSIC NEVER STOPPED, an audible shift from a general audience to a niche. a few isolated cosmic portals in ST. STEPHEN & DANCING IN THE STREET, but an earthbound evening at the tower. very early audience clapalong in NOT FADE AWAY, though heads don't sustain it & it disintegrates quickly.

6/24/76 philadelphia: mushy audience tape. cowbell loud & clear, especially on SCARLET BEGONIAS that cuts new space just before peak. fantastic build & short soaring jam from WHARF RAT, a fine reminder of how DARK STAR is sometimes only a breath away, even post-'74. and a pretty lifeless SUGAR MAGNOLIA, a reminder of how energetic the song legitimately was on most nights.

6/26/76 chicago: what a difference a nice soundboard makes. old-style phil/jerry conversations instantly clear in 9m SUGAREE. sweet '74ish SCARLET BEGONIAS filled with intricate curlicues & sunlight, edging on free space, mickey's drums pleasantly contained. PEGGY-O returns, perfectly suited for the '76 slow burn. near total crash in MUSIC NEVER STOPPED. not sure i've heard one that bad? faith-rejuvenating 36m PLAYING IN THE BAND > ST. STEPHEN > THE WHEEL > PLAYING with well-developed meltdown & rolling WHEEL outro. short but cool CRAZY FINGERS improv, though steam disappears during a dynamic-free STELLA BLUE.

6/27/76 chicago: 17 shows in, band, mixes & new songs (MIGHT AS WELL, slow FRIEND OF THE DEVIL) getting tighter & more relistenable. 1st exciting & spaced-out DRUMZ segment of '76 in 17 minute LET IT GROW. big explosion back into song, almost instantly melting back to jam. satisfying oceanic swirl & smooth return in 9m SLIPKNOT. garcia takes FRANKLIN'S TOWER into quiet with long lay-outs.

6/28/76 chicago: donna now adding yeahs/woos to songs where there weren't previously yeahs/woos, on TENNESSEE JED & EYES OF THE WORLD. SCARLET BEGONIAS finds moment of pure zone-warp in the middle, resolving into beautiful glide. '74 delicacy paved over by hi-hat. good news: band finally finds a nice beginning-to-end DRUMZ-linked segue-flow for 2nd set. bad news: whole set is barely an hour. zippy 16m EYES OF THE WORLD wanders on pre-verse detours, outro has 1st '76 bass/drumz weird-out, short off-mic discussion, & then debut of blissed 2-chord HAPPINESS IS DRUMMING jam, instrumental prototype for FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN, from mickey's then-new "diga" LP. garcia gets knotty in 10 minute encore NOT FADE AWAY. on audience tape, disconnected outro clapalongs, but none coalesce.

6/29/76 chicago: end of 19-show tour before return to san francisco. verdict: magic is sporadic, but far more mojo than i expected. last grateful dead MISSION IN THE RAIN, a soulful keeper. garcia kept playing it solo. best original to get dumped so quickly? why? tiny windows of jam-space opening up in CASSIDY & MUSIC NEVER STOPPED. garcia would clearly keep going, but weir brings songs back. all kinds of great slow motion pockets in ROW JIMMY & garcia even remembers most of the words. donna sounds just exquisite. satisfying full spectrum 36m PLAYING IN THE BAND > THE WHEEL > PLAYING. THE WHEEL gets deserved jam. nice drawn-out PLAYING reprise. garcia finds A+ martian loop-riff midway through NOT FADE AWAY. band builds & dramatically ties it back to song. #deadfreaksunite [6/6]

7/12/76 orpheum theatre: the grateful dead’s 1st bay area show in 8.5 months, longest break since band formed. opening night of 6. long soundcheck (with video). much work on STELLA BLUE. minus audience, weir revives “form a big long line” in DANCING IN THE STREET. after a month, band is plenty crisp in places with only details changed, like donna’s BROWN EYED WOMEN vocals. i miss phil’s singin’. weir’s 1st NEW MINGLEWOOD BLUES since 4/71, a song i definitely never missed, though can see how it’d be fun to play with 2 drummers. more excellent deep dives & dead jazz intimacy in SUPPLICATION. always shocking how quickly they can just drop into that zone. 10 minute 2nd set opening SUGAREE wanders, finds cool garcia nooks. weir tests out new corny blues growl in SAMSON & DELILAH & elsewhere. listened to 14m FRANKLIN’S TOWER 2x on headphones. 1st time seemed boring & sleepy; 2nd time, filled with details & mini-jams. YMMV. DRUMZ gets nicely weird & free as a prelude to THE WHEEL but the show never quite achieves space. no keepers?

7/13/76 orpheum theatre: the band must’ve read fans bitching on twitter about the lack of jamming on 7/12 cuz things escalate quickly. night 2 opens with 1st MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP since 10/74, thankfully pretty intact, though lazy river jam rolls a l’il too lazily. PEGGY-O is gorgeous & garcia does some serious singing, but mickey’s infinite marching snare subdivides it from ballad into a groove. 30 minute 1st set CRAZY FINGERS > LET IT GROW; former with unhurried cascades, latter with space DRUMZ & 2nd jam that goes even further. another odd ’76 mix, but lots of killer keith godchaux piano colors. 2nd set not as cool, though NOT FADE AWAY gets spaced again. rehearsal paid off: STELLA BLUE regains many of its dynamics & is only mildly awkward wedged btwn SUGAR MAGNOLIA & SUNSHINE DAYDREAM. encore DANCING IN THE STREET nearly hits 16 minutes, longest yet, & (while still goofy) goes out & pretty much sails away.

7/14/76 orpheum theatre: not a lot of drums in mix, but that’s cool, especially on SHIP OF FOOLS, which has nice quiet vocals up top. more good 1st set jamming in 35 minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > THE WHEEL > PLAYING. not much swing but flows nicely to space & back. another speedy, cluttered, unsatisfactory 12 minute EYES OF THE WORLD, dissolving into a beautiful 60 seconds of solo garcia before WHARF RAT. 1st OTHER ONE of ’76, 8 minutes & 1st verse only. escapes triplets just before choppy bass bridge into MUSIC NEVER STOPPED.

7/16/76 orpheum theatre: gorgeous soundboard, courtesy of a recent “dave’s picks,” though still never enough of kreutzmann’s snare. monster 49 minute 2nd set sequence of PLAYING IN THE BAND > COSMIC CHARLIE / SPANISH JAM > DRUMZ > THE WHEEL > PLAYING. adventures aplenty. except that dave of the “picks” has graciously excised SAMSON & DELILAH from the middle, brilliant move from a vibe perspective. thx! restless PLAYING until lesh hits not-quite-STRONGER THAN DIRT bassline & band remembers their space jazz moves. A+ CHARLIE placement. SPANISH JAM builds slowly from unusual mid-set start-from-zero space-out, as great (or better) than any earlier take.

7/17/76 orpheum theatre: killer newish “dave’s picks.” great piano mix. MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP back to form, focused & biting. bonkers 59 minute set 2 jam: COMES A TIME > OTHER ONE > EYES OF THE WORLD > OTHER ONE > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD, with much weirdness to spare. 16 minute COMES A TIME must be longest ever, drifting almost imperceptibly from solo to inventive improv, like falling into a dream. gnarly OTHER ONE with many corners & 10 minute old-style space-out. odd not to hear phil singing, which garcia keeps forgetting to do. big story of set is properly chill 15 minute A+ EYES OF THE WORLD that veers into odd-timed & purposeful “blues for allah”-like mini-jams. the EYES jam evolves gracefully into GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD, though detours nicely into a rare 2nd OTHER ONE verse before veering back. pretty sure donna isn’t onstage for set 2, leaving bobby free to do bobby, which (by the end) he does quite handily.

7/18/76 orpheum theatre: finale of 6 shows at the orpheum & last of the post-comeback small theater shows. garcia opens with another purposeful MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP. 1st LOSER since 10/74, l’il more subdued. donna takes over phil’s vocals. nice momentum-building cut from SUPPLICATION into LET IT GROW. cool post-DRUMZ jam finds new changes, dissolves, & reforms elegantly. short but deep DARK STARry jams bracket WHARF RAT, which has beautiful quiet donna vocals & some proto-TERRAPIN pomp. rest of show has crazy setlist moves & new suite combos, but not quite coherent improv magic of previous 2 nights. way fun, though. i mean, THE OTHER ONE > ST. STEPHEN > NOT FADE AWAY > ST. STEPHEN > THE WHEEL > THE OTHER ONE > STELLA BLUE. #deadfreaksunite [6/6]

8/2/76 hartford: 1st big post-hiatus east coast gig. bit flat. only an audience tape; many ugly clap-alongs. 10 minute MIGHT AS WELL 2nd set opener turns into nifty jam (!), uptempo space-boogie that suggests lots of places but just sort of ends. 55 minute PLAYING IN THE BAND > WHARF RAT > GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD > PLAYING IN THE BAND has a few killer moments, but lacks revelation. PLAYING takes ~12 minutes to coalesce & find its weird. WHARF RAT opens to bass solo & conversational grooving, eventually turning generic. donna-hating revisionists be damned, crowd sure seems to love her PLAYING screams & AROUND & AROUND wailing.

8/4/76 jersey city: end of summer tour & last of 6 ’72-’76 shows at roosevelt stadium. 1st set filled with slow songs & long equipment breaks. tape isn’t great. only overblown NEW MINGLEWOOD BLUES seems to gel. also the beginning of the era of out-of-breath garcia, notable on chorus of LOSER, & much of why post-’75 dead remains hard for me. 30 minute HELP ON THE WAY/SLIPKNOT!/FRANKLIN’S TOWER feels clunkier than usual, but lots of great quiet slow-motion turns in SLIPKNOT! brisk & semi-functional next-beat segues between FRANKLIN’S/DANCING IN THE STREET/THE WHEEL/SAMSON & DELILAH, mini-jams in the middle. generous 2-hour second set, but the mojo seems evaporated by time of 36 minute NOT FADE AWAY > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > SHIP OF FOOLS. change in garcia’s voice & approach on display on SHIP OF FOOLS, quiet sweetness traded for quiet soul melodrama.

9/23/76 durham: fall tour opener. i chose grotty mono PA tape over terrible audience recording. tough to dig. 1st RAMBLE ON ROSE since 10/74 & 1st with mickey hart. one of the few ’71-’74 songs not to lose something with a 2nd drummer. EL PASO makes post-hiatus return, too, with nice garciaing, but band now solidly into the sloppy rock endings phase of their career. lyric crashes for garcia in CRAZY FINGERS, which unspools into nifty winding jam (sorely needing a better mix) & oddly smooth landing. confident & brilliant full-band intricacies in SLIPKNOT! lively/awake keith godchaux piano throughout, especially on FRANKLIN’S TOWER. after finally slowing back down in july, EYES OF THE WORLD returns to harsh high-speed chug, restrained until quickly-collapsed jam. 13 minute OTHER ONE with muffled space-out drops into 1st post-hiatus MORNING DEW, rusty but glorious. great keith.

9/24/76 william & mary: vivid audience tape. big energy & lots of piano. not what i expected from ’76 dead! ugly cowbell clonk early, but tight & adventurous PLAYING IN THE BAND makes fun surprise turn into SUPPLICATION & back, one time only. laser sharp HELP ON THE WAY/SLIPKNOT! dissolves into DRUMZ & builds perfectly back into song until comically overshooting reentry. majority of the 2nd set is made up of songs debuted over the previous 2 years, increasingly a rarity, & feels more alive for it. even STELLA BLUE is brisk &, more importantly, dramatic/dynamic, great decorative color by keith throughout.

9/25/76 landover: 1st BERTHA since 10/74, less swing but huge & locked in, the sound of ’77 finding itself. nice jaunty PEGGY-O. garcia’s voice sounds better than spring/summer. adding occasional vocal asides in every show of tour so far. 1st known ALL OVER NOW (on stones’ 2nd US LP), likely sung by weir in ’65/’66, now a platform for his awful blues growl. hard pass. not much by way of out jamming, but SUGAREE, SCARLET BEGONIAS, & DANCING IN THE STREET all briefly achieve total sunshine flow. last COSMIC CHARLIE ever. awkward energy, but garcia/weir/donna jean approach a sweet sleepy vocal blend. toodle-oo, COSMIC CHARLIE. NOT FADE AWAY almost spaces but falls into DRUMZ, a bass solo, & back into ST. STEPHEN by way of oversized bass tag.

9/27/76 rochester: nice soundboard mix. sloppy double drumming feels punchy & charming instead of sludgy. ever-so-slightly brisker tempo on 1st fall THEY LOVE EACH OTHER cancels faux-reggae & restores a little bit of the ’73 bounce. now that weir is playing ALL OVER NOW, he has to play it every night. feels regressive & bland. dead don’t bring much new to it. right-on bass solo preludes full drop into 60m HELP ON THE WAY > SLIPKNOT! > DRUMZ > OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT > SLIPKNOT! > FRANKLIN’S. SLIPKNOT! keeps going to wild places, a brilliant set centerpiece. such a bummer they stopped opening it up like this after this tour. THE OTHER ONE recovers some dizzying pre-’71 2-drummer swirl. lots of full-steam-ahead bass. almost breaks free, always snaps back. 18m FRANKLIN’S TOWER is fun but maybe runs out of ideas. succeeds wildly as dance music for twirling hippies, though.

9/28/76 syracuse: left turns, some real surprises, & even more ample keith godchaux piano. for 1st time, BERTHA seems driven by drummers instead of garcia’s rhythm guitar, which is now slightly more staccato. unsettling. likewise, languorous ’76 FRIEND OF THE DEVIL morphs into more of a spacious hippie reggae groove than a song, lots of weir & hart. breakneck LET IT GROW is fun overkill. big bass & hyper-intricate jam evaporate to mega-rare 1st set GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELIN’ BAD. 2nd set bracketed by PLAYING IN THE BAND, punctuated by 2 excellent jams that start from near standstills, & excitement throughout. 28 minute PLAYING > THE WHEEL > SAMSON & DELILAH notable for patient improv & perfect segues, especially the gradual upshift into SAMSON. after clean SAMSON ending, band jumps back into 6m of PLAYING-like jam before stumbling half-gracefully into confident COMES A TIME. DRUMZ falls into a waaay too fast EYES OF THE WORLD, hiccuping/pausing before garcia leads way into miraculous & moody thematic jam. dick latvala named it ORANGE TANGO JAM for “dick’s picks 20.” only one, i think. like a mature post-”blues for allah” SPANISH JAM. speedy DANCING IN THE STREET ends before a standalone PLAYING REPRISE. weir even sings JOHNNY B. GOODE well. wtf?
9/30

9/30/76 columbus: flat soundboard & fuller/noisier audience tape transmogrified into nice sounding matrix mix. show-opening MUSIC NEVER STOPPED has more pronounced MIND LEFT BODY break than usual (3:52-5:00), highlighting how jam got repurposed. 15 minute CRAZY FINGERS with lovely corners that seem like they’re going to emerge into new changes, but don’t. last version ’til ’82. sad! 11 minute SCARLET BEGONIAS stays contained, as usual, though garcia gets into some big spaces & invents elegant denouement before reprise. fun to be had, but not much adventure in 40m ST. STEPHEN > NOT FADE AWAY > DRUMZ > WHARF RAT > NOT FADE AWAY > ST. STEPHEN. even played crisply, i’m just not into slowed-down ST. STEPHEN, though garcia pushes EYES-like prettiness en route to NOT FADE AWAY. last MORNING DEW encore. whispering final solo finds sublime jerry/keith dialogue. existential respite today/any day.

10/1/76 indianpolis: warm soundboard mix. not into the new clipped rhythmic feel on BERTHA opener, but groovy garcia vocal ad-libs. chattering cowbell prevents 11 minute SCARLET BEGONIAS from gliding into full chillness. some sweet off-mic vocalizations by donna jean. another epic SLIPKNOT! with aggressive big-eared weaving. eventually keith locks into quiet melancholic changes while garcia sketches. 1st split-open DANCING IN THE STREET goes into DRUMZ > THE WHEEL > SHIP OF FOOLS before a full stop & standalone DANCING reprise. THE WHEEL lands in more tangled garcia/lesh/godchaux conversations before dissolving perfectly into SHIP OF FOOLS.

10/2/76 cincinnati: only dead show at riverfront arena, site of ’79 Who stampede. drab audience tape leaves plenty to imagination. BROWN EYED WOMEN kept the same non-jammy form from ’71-’95, but garcia’s solo restating the melody getting more abstract post-hiatus. not much freshness, even in 13 minute LET IT GROW, though 2nd set opening MUSIC NEVER STOPPED has another cool MIND LEFT BODY break. 2nd set jam sequence is 39m DANCING IN THE STREET > DRUMZ > THE OTHER ONE > STELLA BLUE > THE OTHER ONE > SUGAR MAGNOLIA. weak bass drop into 10m THE OTHER ONE, but crowd audibly perks up at energy. donna now singing on chorus. not much happening in jam. sleepy STELLA BLUE now regularly over 10m, gorgeous piano & brief but surprising outro jam into OTHER ONE reprise. #deadfreaksunite [6/6]

10/3/76 detroit: last night of 9-show eastern swing. bright soundboard with punchy bass via “30 trips” box. 1st set bounces right along, lots of ’71-’72 songs. very present lesh. drummers may’ve claimed BERTHA, but garcia still owns SUGAREE. rolling groove on SCARLET BEGONIAS swells inventively. impeccable MUSIC NEVER STOPPED, continuing to peak after MIND LEFT BODY break. 67 minute 7-song segue in 2nd set has multiple surprises but begins with 10m PLAYING IN THE BAND that dissolves to DRUMZ without doing much. left turns begin in THE WHEEL, which has 5m of high-speed excitement before 1st GOOD LOVIN’ since 10/74, only 2nd since pigpen era. weir’s GOOD LOVIN’ is my definition of a boring twirl-ready oldie, but here veers into PLAYING-like mode, driven by godchaux’s piano. graceful landing in beautifully sung COMES A TIME. 90 second spiraling guitar outro makes an easy bridge into DANCING IN THE STREET.  DANCING, too, drops into uncharacteristic dense jam with busy piano clouds, eventually a 14m NOT FADE AWAY that feels like a breather. weir segues into CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER intro, which gets cheers but no musical traction, just the ending to DANCING.

10/9/76 oakland coliseum stadium: 1st of 2 shows with the who, the dead opening on saturday, starting at 11am. SCARLET BEGONIAS is all afternoon sunshine, godchaux on rhodes, cowbell mixed pleasantly low, garcia finding new jam grottos. pleasant 1st set. magnificent 11 minute SUGAREE closer builds to ecstatic crest & slow descent into sweet quiet valley before final chorus. not always into ST. STEPHEN/NOT FADE AWAY/ST. STEPHEN, but band achieves a deep & creative choogle midway through & hits big reprise. crisp no count-off HELP ON THE WAY in THE ELEVEN’s former spot, garcia’s solo finding fresh & dramatic loopholes & pathways. SLIPKNOT packs in 5m of riveting improv action (& cool drop-down) before DRUMZ/SAMSON & DELILAH & long purposeful SLIPKNOT reprise. FRANKLIN’S TOWER hits escher-like flow, somehow always rising back into itself. 2 songs that follow seem unnecessary.

10/10/76 oakland coliseum stadium: 2nd day on the green with the who. stage set involves a phone booth? over 2 gigs, dead only repeat chuck berry’s PROMISED LAND. pete townshend supposedly shocked; who’s been playing same set for a year. 1st set capped by 15m DANCING IN THE STREET, which garcia pushes into exciting mini-jams, smoothly into WHARF RAT & back to DANCING. 52 minute sequence in 2nd set is almost paint-by-numbers, PLAYING IN THE BAND > DRUMZ > THE WHEEL > THE OTHER ONE > STELLA BLUE > PLAYING. groovy messy space-jazz textures on PLAYING, but feels reined-in by 2nd drums. 10 minute WHEEL bends into exhilarating exchanges. STELLA BLUE impressively quiet for a stadium, but getting stiffer. still unclear why mickey hart couldn’t just sit out occasionally? set’s most thrilling & coherent improv comes in 3 minutes of post-STELLA BLUE confusion before gelling into PLAYING ending.

10/14/76 shrine auditorium: 1st LA show since 7/74 & 1st at shrine since ’68. 1st set is murky audience tape. triumphant SCARLET BEGONIAS. weir & drummers peak but jam keeps going. garcia & lesh blow through & find gorgeous minute-wide vista. the MIND LEFT BODY jam has left the MUSIC NEVER STOPPED. when crisp soundboard kicks in, MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP still feels a l’il sluggish, ditto SHIP OF FOOLS, though donna nails outro part. big jam is 30 minute DANCING IN THE STREET into WHARF RAT & back, 2nd in 2 shows. more purposeful. garcia unties knots under bass chords. jam peels back to kreutzmann & garcia, who slow down together & land perfectly in WHARF RAT before huge reprise.

10/15/76 shrine auditorium: last touring show of ’76 comeback. pleasant 1st set, 2nd filled with nice surprises. vibey garcia tunes with fine singin’ & full-band punctuation, especially on dramatic LOSER & long, lazy SUGAREE that unfolds over 10 minutes. rare EYES OF THE WORLD 2nd set opener immediately jumps into 3 minute garcia/phil jam, underscoring how rare that mode has become. [great EYES all 'round, a click uptempo, spidery dialogues & short rich outro that weir upshifts smoothly into MUSIC NEVER STOPPED. 1st HE'S GONE since 10/74 (& mickey's return) does a gospel sway into DRUMZ & then great 14m OTHER ONE filled with bliss tangents. soulful, dynamic COMES A TIME in ballad slot. ultra-lyrical & expressive garcia solo blooms unexpectedly into bright FRANKLIN'S TOWER. well-earned SUGAR MAGNOLIA (with tiny coda jam) ends with shrieks that i thought were donna 'til she started singing.

12/31/76 cow palace: 1st new year's since '72, a co-headline with santana, & 1st of 16 consecutive NYE gigs. soundcheck reported to be RIVER DEEP, MOUNTAIN HIGH (covered by keith & donna with garcia on 1975 LP), which woulda been something. questing 23 minute PLAYING IN THE BAND fights free, finds ample room to get lost & (i think) garcia's 1st use of delay & mu-tron pedals. bill graham leads a very bill graham midnight countdown, impossible to count with. SUGAR MAGNOLIA to ring in '77, palpable big energy. speedy EYES OF THE WORLD sails into beautiful interlocking jam by garcia/weir/lesh/keith before clearing into starlight of WHARF RAT. GOOD LOVIN' sprouts 2 short bright jams like it's still the pig era, 2nd turning into SAMSON & DELILAH (played at 37 of 41 '76 shows). garcia & co. get down to incredible drumless quiet during SLIPKNOT. phil tries to start STRONGER THAN DIRT during DRUMZ, but no bites. for encore, 1st UNCLE JOHN'S BAND & BID YOU GOODNIGHT since 10/74. 1st UJB without phil vocals. donna sounds nice. hefty outro. garcia fully committed on great GOODNIGHT, almost possessed, while keith & drums comp along.

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

#deadfreaksunite 1975

#deadfreaksunite 1975
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, though ’75 is scattered: 4 shows & nearly 2 dozen rehearsals/fragments (many with Ned Lagin) at Bob Weir’s home studio as the band writes “Blues for Allah.” I did my best to date everything accurately, based on both LIA’s scrupulous archive post and Ned Lagin’s extensive NedBase. Other recordings are still not public, some detailed in David Browne’s excellent book So Many Roads.

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

2/19/75 ace’s: few minutes of the band tentatively running fuzzed version of CRAZY FINGERS chords, figuring out rhythm.

2/27/75 ace’s: 5 short jams-in-progress, double-keys lineup dense but graceful. CRAZY FINGERS, aka DISTORTO, assured if l’il plodding. PROTO 18 PROPER is a less-ballistic 1st draft of terrapin’s AT A SIDING, bright odd gallop across between THE ELEVEN & GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD. A TO E FLAT JAM is sly but meh funk-shuffle, finding a great zone with rich expressive changes during last minute.

2/28/75 ace’s: keeper take of DISTORTO, garcia soaring over rolling groove with split-signal fuzz from 5/14 & 6/20/74 CHINA DOLL. the bounce of PROTO 18 PROPER really is a lost dead jam, a big calypso-gallop i can easily imagine in arenas. a bit phish-like, even. 11 minutes of lesh’s STRONGER THAN DIRT, satisfying & elliptical. brief convincing noodle on GIRL FROM IPENEMA. 10 minutes of proto-SHAKEDOWN STREET funk. much dead air & idle chatter. garcia & kreutzmann rap about the meters’ “pink” album (“rejuvenation”) and jam on JUNGLE MAN. listening to 45 minutes of early MUSIC NEVER STOPPED, can hear jam’s relation to the chromatic ecstasy of MIND LEFT BODY.

3/5/75 ace’s: 2 pieces of DISTORTO evolving towards CRAZY FINGERS, soon-abandoned backbeat asserting itself a bit heavily.

3/17/75 ace’s: cancelled dead practice turned 3-hour 27th birthday jam for ned lagin with lesh, garcia, kreutzmann, & david crosby. could listen to croz (on electric 12-string) lead ned & JG for days on LOW DOWN PAYMENT & HOMEWARD THRU THE HAZE. stunner 25-minute standalone jam, crozby & lagin (on piano) stacking chords, throwing changes for garcia, improvising odd turns. then, multiple (weir-less?) passes through MIND LEFT BODY as it turns into MUSIC NEVER STOPPED, perhaps misdated. 10 STRONGER THAN DIRT fragments. lots of dead air, but also cool pockets & discarded rhythmic approaches for soon-abandoned piece. perhaps missing music still? john cipollina supposedly plays, too. plus lagin pieces like MAKE A CAT LAUGH & others?

3/??/75 ace’s: dazzling 13m NINES jam (to go with THE ELEVEN/MAIN TEN/THE SEVEN?). band settles into odd time, soars past it, returns. then, 35 minutes of ebbing/flowing improv that’d be among the best of any year but sounds semi-unfocused after NINES. tasty SLIPKNOT moves. one of the long jams drops into the BLUES FOR ALLAH main riff, sounding quite spinal tap-ish, which i suppose it is. several runs through HELP ON THE WAY/SLIPKNOT!, fully-formed except for vocals, including one at scary light speed, eggheady & precise. 3rd take lands in FRANKLIN’S TOWER, lyrics done. hello, HELP/SLIP/FRANK. maybe 1st ever? “stunning,” says jerry at end. yes. lastly, s’more jamming, 15 seconds of LAZY LIGHTNING, & 3 more FRANKLIN’S TOWERS. can lou reed sue them over the groove now?

3/??/75 ace’s: despite the “first day”/1/75 labeling on this recently circulating recording (with incredible sound), i’m almost positive this is a 3/75 rehearsal for the SNACK benefit, with ned lagin & mickey hart. properly, this is BLUES FOR ALLAH/STRONGER THAN DIRT/BLUES FOR ALLAH & it gets admirably weird & dense & beautiful. warning: some cowbell.

3/21/75 ace’s: rehearsal for SNACK benefit with david crosby, merl saunders, ned lagin, & (maybe?) mickey hart. joyous 15 minutes of 2 STRONGER THAN DIRT > BLUES FOR ALLAH takes, 2nd maybe better than 1st, a full articulation of ’74 EYES jams. killer 15 minute BLUES FOR ALLAH > STRONGER THAN DIRT, too, the latter’s rhythms gathering gradually from the swirl, starting with lesh. stray fragment running through unfamiliar & lovely changes, maybe by crosby?

3/23/75 kezar stadium: 1st performance since 10/20/74, as jerry garcia & friends at SNACK benefit with jefferson starship, neil young, & bob dylan. the band features ned lagin (his last stage appearance with the dead) & merl saunders on keys, mickey hart (sort of back), minus david crosby, who rehearsed for the show but couldn’t make it due to his son’s birth. octet debuts probably unnamed instrumentals from ace’s sessions, labeled now BLUES FOR ALLAH > STRONGER THAN DIRT > BLUES FOR ALLAH. ALLAH riff lumbers but flies, especially after kicking into prog-time DIRT, dense in all ways, but incredibly graceful. DRUMZ is ever thus. return trip from DIRT is even fiercer, rich B3 by merl, darting rhodes by ned, buzzing bass, & elegant (not-yet-worded) ALLAH reprise. then, because weir, JOHNNY B. GOODE. in short: free-form jazz exploration in front of a festival crowd. in my top 10?

3/26/75 ace’s: musically unsatisfying but quality shit-shooting throughout. especially giggly digressions on pop melodies near start. unusual surf-grunge riff tangent slides into angular country-funk glide. some runs through 7/4 fragments that will be LAZY LIGHTNING. highlight is 15m of band listening to playback of hot SLIPKNOT. like chatty audience tape, except it’s jerry & co..

4/2/75 ace’s: a slog in places. generic jams & unresolved fragments, including MUSIC NEVER STOPPED, LAZY LIGHTNING, A TO E FLAT. back to 1 drummer after 3/23 show with mickey hart. especially notable on speedy/graceful HELP ON THE WAY/SLIPKNOT! instrumental. neat hearing the band stack the CRAZY FINGERS intro arrangement & piece together song. brief vocals only on 6th pass.

4/17/75 ace’s: the dead minus jerry, plus ned & croz; LOW DOWN PAYMENT & “allah” jams. jerry-less 1975 dead is odd, accidentally anticipating #GD50, etc., & not bad, but leadless song segments aren’t terribly compelling. short “jams” 3/16/17/31/32 are likely lagin’s RUNNING HOME, NO NAME, & A LOST SOUL, UNTITLED. unsure which is which.

4/29/75 ace’s: SWING WARMUP, 2 minutes of brief 2 keys/1 drummer dead in default mode. MUSIC NEVER STOPPED now done minus lyrics.

5/7/75 ace’s: 1 take of HOLLYWOOD CANTATA, MUSIC NEVER STOPPED with alternate LA-centric lyrics. “i don’t like them words,” weir says. 2 versions of STRONGER THAN DIRT (& more) with ned lagin & david crosby.

6/3/75 ace’s: instrumental CRAZY FINGERS has over-pronounced reggae bounce. band stretches odd STRONGER THAN DIRT groove pretty far. standalone 30-minute jam stays mellow & flowing (nice godchaux, man), shifting to darker & more tentative space near end.

6/5/75 ace’s: jerry seems bummed about molasses slow takes of FRANKLIN’S TOWER, “it just seems too busy, i’m not sure why.”

6/6/75 dominican college: ned lagin & phil lesh with jerry garcia, david crosby, & mickey hart. a stereophonic avant-dead holy grail. echoed drums & spun-out biomusic conversations have ned lagin processing garcia & croz. better than official seastones LP. 60 minute set is just delightfully disorienting at high volumes, especially the high-pitched cat communications on track #9.

6/7/75 ace’s: maybe the 1st HELP ON THE WAY/SLIPKNOT!/FRANKLIN’S TOWER. great spaces in all 3 & especially in 2nd standalone HELP. ace dixieland-disco by keith on not-yet-cheesy LAZY LIGHTNING jam. last A TO E FLAT JAM, not flying yet & never will.

6/17/75 winterland: 2 sets at the bob fried memorial boogie, as jerry garcia & friends, 2nd of 4 ’75 dead gigs. spontaneously (ned lagin leaves & mickey hart arrives at last minute), it is 1st show by 6-man/donna lineup that will hold ’til ’79. CRAZY FINGERS debut opens, sweet & confident with watery godchaux rhodes & small jam. 1st gig in 8 months with, like, actual songs. weir offers almost only covers, confirming band as the same ol’ grateful dead. to be fair, it *is* a boogie, especially with return of hart. lovely PEGGY-O, but the big beat era hath come. hart’s not even especially offensive, but band’s quiet mode is audibly busied. 1st onstage HELP ON THE WAY (instrumental)/SLIPKNOT!/FRANKLIN’S TOWER closes 1st set. loose but magnificent, still sorting out ending. BLUES FOR ALLAH/STRONGER THAN DIRT/BLUES FOR ALLAH hits classic dead jam space, a fine set piece, though last time played as such. then SUGAR MAGNOLIA, high-pitched shrieking (by deadheads/weir), & US BLUES. greensleeves on PA & back to the studio.

8/12/75 great american music hall: 2 songs circulate from long soundcheck day before “blues for allah” release party, neither from LP. only take of keith & brian godchaux’s SHOWBOAT, on “keith & donna”. on-brand dixieland bounce, fun & burbling if just a little lite. 1st THAT’LL BE THE DAY since ’69, slow & garcia band-like, perhaps inspired by mickey hart’s box of mic’d crickets.

8/13/75 great american music hall: single most polished grateful dead show ever(?) & maybe my fave. nearly everything is a highlight. band drops in one-by-one behind bill graham as he introduces the musicians, landing perfectly in the 1st HELP ON THE WAY with vocals. jam opens quickly into brief beautiful flight before dazzling SLIPKNOT!, double drummers in full effect, every voice finding a place. vocals fantastic throughout, though the official mix helps. FRANKLIN’S TOWER (& beyond) filled with concise expressive garcia solos. debut of weir/barlow’s MUSIC NEVER STOPPED, cool falsetto harmonies by garcia & donna, who gets her 1st solo vocal in a GD original. so sad, so slow, so sweet IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES with an especially perfect garcia vocal (ditto the SUGAREE in the 2nd set). bass solos to bookend soaring EYES OF THE WORLD, 1st minus the 7/8 ending but (for now) with lesh’s STRONGER THAN DIRT prog fantasia. the only thing i really skip on this show: weir’s molasses slow AROUND & AROUND. not wild ’bout the DRUMZ jamz, but they’re short. the only CRAZY FINGERS i’ve ever needed, the hippie-reggae transmogrifying into a magical california zen float. it just always works. extraordinarily compact 5:33 OTHER ONE, no vocals, but full-flight improv spiraling from high-speed burn to a moody denouement. the debut of weir’s lovely instrumental SAGE & SPIRIT, released on “blues for allah,” but only played once more, in 1980. only full BLUES FOR ALLAH, mickey hart’s crickets chirping. “under eternity blue” coda is an ethereal end to era. [i wrote a long essay about this show.]

9/28/75 lindley meadow: 4th of 4 ’75 performances & final free show in golden gate (or any) park besides 1991 bill graham memorial. 6 weeks since last gig, but sounds like longer. very different vibe, or maybe it’s just garcia’s new guitar. 1st show of late ’70s. band isn’t playing every day anymore & everything is looser but also softer/mellower. omnipresent bed of rhodes by keith godchaux. or last show of the ’60s? doctor needed because woman is having baby backstage. or maybe by soundboard. band can’t quite figure out. phil gettin’ surly about the correct pronunciation of TRUCKIN’, last ’til 9/77. bigger cheer for “cocaine” than “long strange trip.” TRUCKIN’ has only real improv of 2-hour/2-set show. big bass dashes, loud cymbal chatter via hart, & nice dense jam in 11 (i think). aaaaaaaand DRUMZ. sadder: last real version of lesh’s STRONGER THAN DIRT, the dead’s headiest/dorkiest/proggiest instrumental. mickey hart leads the way into NOT FADE AWAY, the boogie portion of the set, & the rest of the ’70s.

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

alternate routes, episode 03

Alternate Routes
with Jesse Jarnow

1. Gunn/Truscinski Duo – “Sugar”
from Live at WFMU on Surface Noise with Joe McGasko, April 16, 2018 (Free Music Archive)

2. John Andrews & the Yawns – “Double-Sided Coin”
from Freedom of the Press benefit compilation (Kith & Kin)

(mic break)

3. Jeremy Barnes – “Rain Flows Down Like a River”
from Summer ’16 (L-M Duplication)

4. Drunken Foreigner Band – “Akha 1”
from White Guy Disease (Electric Cowbell)

(mic break)

5. Garcia Peoples – “One Step Behind > Hangin’ On”
NYCTaper recording made at Wonders of Nature, Brooklyn, NY, June 10, 2018

all tracks posted with permission of artists/labels

alternate routes, episode 02

Alternate Routes
with Jesse Jarnow

1. Oneida (with Lee Ranaldo & James McNew) – “Cedars”
from Live at Secret Project Robot (Safety Meeting)

2. Secret Drum Band – “DaDaDa”
from Dynamics (XRAY)

(mic break)

3. Mary Lattimore – “Let’s Talk About Your Dead Friends”
from Live at WFMU on Surface Noise With Joe McGasko, October 7, 2016 (Free Music Archive)

4. Ned Lagin – “Sun Cats”
from Cat Dreams (self-released)

(mic break)

5. Elkhorn – “Lion”
from Lionfish (Eiderdown Sounds)

all tracks posted with permission of artists/labels

alternate routes, episode 01

Alternate Routes
with Jesse Jarnow

1. Thor and Friends – “Carpet Creeps”
from The Subversive Nature of Kindness (L-M Duplication)

2. The Ex – “Soon All Cities”
from 27 Passports (The Ex)

(mic break)

3. One Eleven Heavy – “Species Blues”
from Everything’s Better (Kith & Kin)
exclusive, to be released in September

4. Man Forever – “You Were Never Here”
live release recorded at Cafe Oto, London, UK, May 22, 2017

5. Sunwatchers – “Nose Beers”
NYCTaper recording made at Union Pool, Brooklyn, NY, June 24, 2017

(mic break)

6. Alexander – “iv”
recorded reel-to-reel (& released) by Southern Jukebox, Minneapolis, MN, August 15, 2017

all tracks posted with permission of artists/labels