Jesse Jarnow

hippiedom

#deadfreaksunite 1978

#deadfreaksunite 1978
tape-by-tape notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#deadfreaksunite 1968

#deadfreaksunite 1968
tape-by-tape notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#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]

#deadfreaksunite 1967

#deadfreaksunite 1967
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 ’67 is a bit messy. For the clearest guide through 1967, consult LIA’s post, which includes a half-dozen or so 30-60 second or so audio fragments heard in the background of contemporary film footage, which I did not annotate unless it was historically interesting.

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

1/14/67 polo field: the human be-in! 30m of the dead in front of ~20,000 people in golden gate park. free acid, love, turkey, etc.. swooshy soundboard, opening midway through VIOLA LEE BLUES. mix is a total mess, but double-speed jam craziness plays big. GOOD MORNING LITTLE SCHOOLGIRL dominated by charles lloyd, adding skittering flute & some vocals. mixed bag, but 1st interesting guest. (the MORNING DEW commonly affixed to be-in tapes is likely from 1968.)

3/18/67 winterland: 90m from 2 sets, before & after chuck berry. week of dead’s debut LP release & 1st tape since LA album sessions. so few tapes from ’67, hard to know if they’re representative. opens with last speedy early version of ME & MY UNCLE, gone until 4/69. the real earliest MORNING DEW, similar to album take from january. inside guitar solo & emphatic young garcia shouting outro. “NO!” set 2 opens with 2m THE GOLDEN ROAD, written at label’s behest. 1st of 2 known live versions. more jerry shouting. joyous & garagey. last THE SAME THING save 12/31/71 (& weir’s ’90s revival). 12m with great jam that patiently moves beyond blues.

4/8/67 KPIX: one of several dead appearances on local TV, the only one with an actual live performance. ralph gleason interviews the band & mainly a giggly garcia. final surviving CREAM PUFF WAR, rare song with words/music by garcia & 1st original with modal jam. 2 minutes of non-modal fun here. WALKIN’ BLUES mash-up alternates between the dead’s arrangement & quicksilver’s & is the only known pigpen version. slinky snare.

4/9/67 the panhandle: tiny barely audible fragments in the background of film footage contain a few seconds of garcia singing a blues song i can’t identify & an even short blip of the band (maybe) playing GLORIA.

6/18/67 monterey pop: on after the who smashed gear & before hendrix burned his, dead bummed with their set. 14m VIOLA LEE BLUES opener swings easily into double-time & frenzy beyond with kreutzmann snare flourishes & melting garcia guitar. phil lesh vs. MC peter tork, condensed – tork: “the beatles aren’t here! don’t gatecrash!” lesh: “the beatles would want you to!” bad & still unidentified guest harmonica honking all over other 3 songs. funny how this & woodstock both feature mysterious randos. 1st recorded ALLIGATOR > CAUTION & earliest ALLIGATOR, too. 1st lyrics by robert hunter but pig’s mic ain’t on. already a gnarly jam. 1st taped CAUTION since 5/66 & much more developed. short pig rap & then busy high-speed action with great dialogues near the end. bill graham handles outro MC duties. perhaps the dead scared off (the at least semi-dosed) peter tork.

7/23/67 straight theater: long-delayed opening of only venue in the haight & sole surviving tape of beat legend & merry prankste neal cassady with the dead. long circulating as a puzzling fragment on semi-bootleg flexidisc by ex-lesh roommate (& courtney l0ve’s father) hank harrison. it makes much more sense when heard unedited. on the full 16m version, garcia introduces cassady & he speed-raps as band starts into TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT, though pig’s mic isn’t working. the sound is murky, as if the recording is only from cassady’s microphone & the band is just in the background bleeding into it. not cassady’s best, but charming asides/flows/punchlines (“i knew i should have worn more paisley”), dead ends, occasional vocalizing. jam disintegrates with gear issues, but emerges into proto-DARK STAR space as cassady babbles. hard to tell exactly what’s going on. eventually, band gets it going & land in earliest taped LOVELIGHT, presumably with more neal, but fades after 1m.

8/4/67 toronto: bill graham presents the san francisco sound. opens with fragment of last OVERSEAS STOMP, electrified jugband doofery. 1st known NEW POTATO CABOOSE. music: lesh, lyrics: bobby petersen, vocal: weir. most ambitious & psychedelic original yet. deep jerry. 20m VIOLA LEE BLUES hits dazzling froth before last verse. feedback & MERRY-GO-ROUND BROKE DOWN cartoon sign-off.

8/5/67 toronto: last of 6 days/nights with jefferson airplane & luke & the apostles, presented by bill graham. only 19m, but great. 1st fully taped TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT, just over 7m. pigpen still tentative in beginning/end raps, but wild jerry shred in between. 1st complete ALLIGATOR is fire, garcia solo subtly shifting to full band deep zone & silly vocal freak-out end.

9/3/67 rio nido: labor day dead, gigging/woodshedding at a resort by the russian river. essential. the classic early quintet dead tape. primal thrills, full tilt boogie, blissed improv, & 1st taped 20+ minute jams. 32m MIDNIGHT HOUR opener, at big weave from 1st jam. patience, left turns, volume swells, cool pockets, jerry sparkles, more pig raps. DANCING IN THE STREET jam melts instantly into long, slow garcia ideas, pulling on bright colored threads, proto-DARK STAR flows. 23m VIOLA LEE BLUES centerpiece is glorious, my favorite early dead jam, deep & conversational. pigpen right there, too, throughout. 15m surprise-filled ALLIGATOR is swinging/swaggering, weir high in mix & playing great, even some lead figures. feedback/organ coda. also, robert hunter’s 1st dead show (or maybe since 5/65) & 1st time hearing band sing his lyrics, on ALLIGATOR.

9/4/67 rio nido: 6m from end of CAUTION. quizzical fuzzed-out jerry at edges of early space jazz. organ coda & feedback dissolve. phil: “well, we’ve been turned off again. it’s now 1-o-clock, folks. now the only thing to do is go home & screw.”

9/15/67 hollywood bowl: 1st circulating audience tape & pretty cruddy. bill graham presents, with the airplane. big brother cancels. decent 15m VIOLA LEE BLUES opener is a hungry band showing off chops. molten moments, but audio quality makes it hard to dig, dig? garcia seems to tease donavan’s 1-month-old THERE IS A MOUNTAIN ~8:10 in ALLIGATOR, predating the allman brothers by a few years. 1st recorded ALLIGATOR > CAUTION is hearty 29 minutes. with noise dissolve. already-bad tape gets worse during jam, like the taper is walking around? goofy drums/vocals vaudeville tag after a feedback session feels very cartoony or, er, phish-y.

9/29/67 straight theater: formerly known as “5/5/67 fillmore” but more likely from the night before mickey hart 1st played with band. shows billed as dance class to get around restrictions. phil: “i just saw a narc down in the audience… if you see one step on him.” 1st taped HE WAS A FRIEND OF MINE since previous july, properly mark spoelstra’s JUST A HAND TO HOLD, harmonies & jangle channel warlocks. spidery jerry. choice stoned call/response. weir: “say DOPE!” (crowd: “DOPE!”) weir: “say PRIMATE!” (garcia: “say whaaat?”) weir: “say WHAT!” last recorded GOLDEN ROAD (of 2), unchanged at a boisterous 132 seconds. can see how this didn’t fit into their plans, but pure joy. GOLDEN ROAD also serves as cool drop into deep 10m NEW POTATO CABOOSE, picking up swing & weird-jazz swagger around odd turns. can hear the space for 2 drummers in ALLIGATOR especially, already a pretty snarling jam. cool organ moves by pigpen. (tape re-dated from weir’s NEW POTATO dedication, likely to KMPX DJ chandler laughlin, released from jail in 9/67.)

10/22/67 winterland: crispy warts-&-all soundboard. last document of the dead as a quintet before mickey hart joins as 2nd drummer. legend has hart joining immediately after 1st jamming on 9/30, photos/audio suggest otherwise. definitely only 1 drummer here. except NEW POTATO CABOOSE, glittering psychedelia, all 7 songs will be in repertoire when they return to quintet lineup in 4 years. MORNING DEW opener remains high octane, purposeful but speedy garcia solo. HURTS ME TOO is warlocks quintet at intimate best. major: 1st recorded THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE suite. specifically, 15m CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT/THE OTHER ONE/CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT. blazing 3m of jerry jams before OTHER ONE vocals, both verses 1st drafts. “when i woke up this morning, my head was not intact…” but the real fire comes on CRYPTICAL reprise, 8m of garcia building methodically in curling psychedelic monologue.

10/31/67 winterland: formerly “1/27/67,” new dating speculative, math below. but: 1st tape with 2 drummers. ugly audience recording. brief organ jam in 22m VIOLA LEE BLUES before garcia takes over, though lots of cool B3 as jam spirals. good stuff hidden in murk. 37m ALLIGATOR/CAUTION is huge & chaotic. jerry-fired jams & 2-drummer propulsion, cowbell/2nd snare providing constant movement. ALLIGATOR’s structure hints at date: 2 drummers (putting it post-9/29) but no early drum break (pre-11/10). not many candidates. detonation of (presumably) onstage cannon around 9:30 in CAUTION suggests the arrival of mickey hart into the grateful dead. alt. theory #1: based on 2 misdated songs (both AUD versions of hart-less 10/22), maybe just 2nd set of that, with mickey joining in. and yet the 2 recordings feature different versions of COLD RAIN & SNOW (“1/27″ has a count-off), suggesting different shows. alt. theory #2: after joining the dead, mickey didn’t immediately play on every single show & this is 10/14 in santa clara. furthurmore, @corry342 doesn’t think the 10/31/67 show actually happened, which narrows it to 10/14. alt. theory #3: actually mickey’s 1st show. he claimed there was a “2-hour” ALLIGATOR/CAUTION, but drugs.

11/xx/67 unknown venue/studio: a multi-track recording, either of a studio jam or a live show, the earliest good-sounding tape with 2 drummers. LIA speculates that it’s live based on ambience & the echo of the vocals & i’m mostly inclined to agree, though i could also hear this as a live-in-studio rehearsal to hear what they sound like with mickey. early THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE (with no weir vocals). dating comes (via LIA) via the placement of 1st drum break in 20-minute ALLIGATOR/CAUTION. nicely conversational, including the barest earliest hints of garcia playing with the BID YOU GOOD NIGHT melody as the band hits the choogle eternal, followed by a well-executed dissolve into feedback.

11/10/67 shrine expo hall: the dead in LA, between buffalo springfield & blue cheer. 1st big tape of new era with mickey hart as 2nd drummer & fullest realization of their psychedelia yet. 16m VIOLA LEE BLUES opener soars into all-soloing frenzy, neat organ leads. band swings even harder as they pull back into tune. enjoying mickey on songs proper. 2nd snare is manic on BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE, but somehow carves new spaciousness on pigpen blues. great instrumental separation underscores MORNING DEW’s conversational arrangement, jerry/bob/phil weaving around each other. charming chatter after weir busts a string. later, before ALLIGATOR, pigpen coos (sort of) at baby sunshine kesey, gurgling nearby. drummers don’t hit the churning triplets yet on 11m OTHER ONE suite, but nifty snare dialogues on CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT outro. 1st appearance of “cowboy neal” verse in THE OTHER ONE, 5 months before cassady’s death, when weir usually places its writing. 36m ALLIGATOR/CAUTION subdivides from blues shred to flickering jeweled jerry/phil duo jams (& back). nice dissolve.

11/11/67 shrine expo hall: 1st 2-drummer TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT opens. no weird rhythmic pockets yet, but new propulsion is evident. forgot to mention yesterday: mickey’s adding nice sparing glockenspiel to NEW POTATO CABOOSE, making it officially sound like 1967. the overly ambitious structures/harmonies are all too obvious, but NEW POTATO’s jazz moves make for the most mature jamming yet. ‘cuz it’s ’67 there’s are labeling mysteries. i think this is the real 11/11 ALLIGATOR/CAUTION. new ALLIGATOR twist (on 11/10, too): post-verse breakdown to cowbell/guiro/drumz/garcia. jambandy af but fierce.

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

#deadfreaksunite 1966

#deadfreaksunite 1966
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 ’66 is kinda messy. Consult LIA’s post before doing any heavy listening.

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

1/8/66 fillmore auditorium: the fillmore acid test! the earliest known grateful dead live recording & utter psychedelic comedy gold. fade in on chaos. phil sings along with tuning. pigpen to babbs: “HEY MAN STOP YOUR BABBLING & FIX THESE MICROPHONES. WE NEED POWER.” earliest versions of all songs except for dense CAUTION. not terribly far out, but garcia’s early blues-noodle turns spiky & menacing. dig garcia’s grease on leiber/stoller’s HOG FOR YOU BABY, b-side to current #9 primitives hit. babbs interrupts. but not sure i ever quite bought garcia doing DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY, which feels a bit rinky-dink with pigpen’s farfisa. 27 minutes in, the cops arrive & shut down the acid test, resulting in LOL-packed 4:27 of LSD-abetted confusion. an all-time favorite. babbs (?) moves sound-source between mics & narrates in real-time, cops make announcements, sirens wail, weir raps, somebody moans & OMs. phil conducts band in national anthem, dude screams “fuck you,” garcia stays chill while his face melts, tape cuts.

1/??/66 “acid test #3″: a chaotic soundcheck of some sort. occasional yelling, merry pranksters, & bass jams that almost coalesce. most charming part is bright-eyed bushy-tailed band chatter. phil: “i’m tired of playing in warehouses” & jerry playing the optimist. weir, spacily: “i’d like to play in the grand canyon.” phil (?): “well, as long as it’s with you guys, i don’t care…”

1/??/66 berkeley: VIOLA LEE BLUES rehearsal, probably the 1st owsley tape. garcia is clearly the leader, phil is clearly the asshole. pigpen can’t figure out vocal or harmonica part. cool at first, eventually he leaves drunk, hounded by phil. nobody goes after him. owsley, i think, sings verses on track 19. then, cool 15m VIOLA LEE jam on early arrangement, 1st big improv on tape.

1/??/66 berkeley: fuller VIOLA LEE BLUES rehearsal tape at owsley’s pad, with 2 early slower takes of phil’s awkward CARDBOARD COWBOY. drumless/keyless CARDBOARD COWBOY practice is more interesting/graceful than the 3 surviving live recordings. awkward even by phil standards, drumless vocal practice gives me new pop appreciation for the song.

1/28/66 the matrix (maybe): 14m of early dead from a badly dated owsley reel. earliest known versions of all songs. good banter. only the ending of YOU DON’T HAVE TO ASK/OTIS ON A SHAKEDOWN CRUISE: last of 3 always-shifting verses, short solo, & 1st weir shouts. band returns for a late set after the loading zone plays. shaky VIOLA LEE BLUES has alternate swing-blues jam, not yet modal/crazy. management clearly wants the dead off the stage. “let ‘em throw us out,” phil says as band plow into speedy I KNOW YOU RIDER. so the plug gets pulled 40 seconds into MIDNIGHT HOUR. band sounds completely used to it & mostly amused. garcia: “shut us off again.” lesh: “g’night ladies & gentleman & you too, you pricks.” last SF gig before dead, owsley, & pranksters move to LA.

2/5 or 6/66 los angeles: likely a fragment of band’s 1st show after moving to LA, but (based on crowd) not the northridge acid test. 1st known TASTEBUD, generic blues & generic blues lyrics by pigpen & 1st live MINDBENDER, doofy but crisp nuggets-style garage-psych. 1st known BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE, a jug band holdover. spiraling guitar intro, spiky solo, early backing vocals, & heavier backbeat. if anyone has the 2 missing tunes or another theory on the date, hmu. more on ’66 mysteries.

2/13/66 (maybe) youth opportunities center: 15 or so minutes of watts acid test. begins with bob weir tripping & testing out microphones. on a distant mic, girl starts flipping the fuck out, screaming “WHO CARES?” etc., & pigpen sings/talks her down, occasional drum hits. a capella pigpen/drum duet. bob weir: “some day ron will take acid.” pig tells weir to get something going, but weir’s face seems to be melting too hard. nonetheless, billy/pigpen only version of NEW ORLEANS, with weir joining on vocals, someone else honking harmonica, the only “dead” version until 1970. phil joins but also seems to be melting. 7 minutes worth of the sole dead take of TWIST & SHOUT, sung by pig, not the beatles arrangement, with (presumably) tripping guest harmonica player. if garcia’s face is melting, it’s not impeding his shredding. then the song falls apart. no applause, just residual acid test noise. phil: “our drummer flashed, we’ll be back later.” can hear the tape being played back elsewhere in the room.

2/66 pink house: earliest tape of garcia doing HI-HEELED SNEAKERS, played occasionally with the dead & turning up in garcia/saunders setlists ’72-’74. more work on VIOLA LEE BLUES. weir gets yelled at for starting it too fast, actually the tempo they’d end up playing it at. plus, it speeds up. getting closer to the multi-jam structure, with some nifty dancing garcia guitar parts. “popssssicle break” someone announces. end tape.

2 or 3/xx/66 pink house (maybe): wow! mystery ’66 tape: phil & jerry demo a gorgeous folky & previously unknown dead original with cool harmonies. “wandering man“?

2 or 3/xx/66 pink house rehearsal (maybe): a few high fidelity slices via the “rare cuts & oddities” CD (& a few others on the hell’s honkies’ comp “san franciscan nights”). only early dead version of rufus thomas’s WALKING THE DOG, sung by weir, showing up again in 1970, good bee-sting garcia leads. likewise, only early dead version of chuck berry’s PROMISED LAND with garcia on vocals, becoming a staples with weir singing in ’71. adore this alternative universe. pig’s 1st real original, YOU SEE A BROKEN HEART, fun response vocals by jerry. 1st taped version of BIG BOSS MAN, weir’s rhythm guitar sounding present & cool & vaguely like a normal human guitarist. BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE still has the jerry guitar intro, but the earliest backing vocals have morphed into the more familiar arrangement. earliest taped dylan cover, IT’S ALL OVER NOW, BABY BLUE, & garcia’s version of ONE KIND FAVOR.

2 or 3/xx/66 pink house: moar “rare cuts & oddities.” an early version of NOT FADE AWAY, a lot closer to the stones version during the verses (with teenage weir clearly doing his best jagger) & a rolling CAUTION-like groove elsewhere, kinda awkward & falling apart, with alternate lyrics about how “i’m gonna be your candyman” that were maybe written by weir (?), not turning up again on a dead tape until 1969.

2 or 3/66 unknown venue: from “rare cuts & oddities,” the only early dead version of BIG RAILROAD BLUES, pig doubling garcia’s lead vocal on harmonica, done with a jug band bounce that would disappear when revived in ’70. doesn’t totally work, but i’m still charmed by pig singing fats domino’s SICK & TIRED. the only taped version of the very early stones’ original EMPTY HEART, sung by pig & doubled by jerry in places, another example of the forgotten early jerry/pig tandem, cool jagged garcia rhythms under 1st harmonica solo, playing co-lead under 2nd.

2 or 3/66 pink house: a 5 minute early example of the earliest SPACE jam, mostly just garcia & weir. doesn’t sound too different from the 2-guitar SPACE jams of the ‘70s/‘80s/‘90s. then a tape jump into the beginning of some blues song they’re rehearsing with vocal parts, but which i can’t identify.

2/23/66 pink house: 12 minutes of a blues jam that winds into something that might be LA BAMBA but is also sort of GOOD LOVIN’ (a segue they would do ~20 years later), the pulling back into a half-speed jam on IT’S A SIN. the sound of a band learning to play together.

3/2/66 pink house (presumably): from “rare cuts & oddities,” the tremolo-heavy electrified folk tune BETTY & DUPREE, a candidate with DEATH DON’T HAVE NO MERCY for the 1st jerry ballad & the traditional origin point for DUPREE’S DIAMOND BLUES in ’69. on an alternate timeline, garcia revived this in the late ‘70s & figured out how to make it graceful. earliest STEALIN’, presumably played by the jug band, too.

3/9/66 pink house rehearsal: another unknown song, sung by pigpen. maybe a cover, but enough odd changes to make it a dead original? a few takes working on WHO DO YOU LOVE. pigpen to billy: “remember when we used to do it at magoo’s? the way we did it at magoo’s?” 13m jam starts as thin blues noodle but grows into some cool & almost substantial weirdness before tape runs out.

3/10/66 pink house rehearsal: another owsley tape (vocals panned hard) from band’s pad in LA, downstairs from LSD tabbing operation. SITTIN’ ON TOP OF THE WORLD practice, electrified jug band tune, recorded in ’67 & unchanged til ’72, besides stabbing organ part. tantalizing just-off-mic chatter about songwriting/lyric transcription? maybe could be deciphered with a level boost.

3/12/66 danish center: 1st dead tape that’s more than a fragment. 2 sets, 67m of excellent owsley soundboard. not technically an acid test, but based on the band’s memories that they took acid *every* saturday night in spring ’66, well… both set openers are only surviving takes of not-terribly-compelling instrumental warm-ups: STORMY MONDAY & freddie king’s HEADS UP. 1st known live version of pigpen’s 1st real original, YOU SEE A BROKEN HEART. generic, but clever call/response with garcia on verse. earliest IT’S A SIN & 1st live versions of ONE KIND FAVOR (jerry blues, meh) & NEXT TIME YOU SEE ME (instant pig staple, already coolly swingin’). 1st full MIDNIGHT HOUR & 1st taped pigpen raps. it achieves grease, if not much else. tasty jerry licks & not-tasty blues screams. amusingly trippy setbreak banter, implying they’re alternating slots with another act. wonder who? weir plugs ice cream man outside. tape closes with 1st VIOLA LEE BLUES featuring multi-jam structure. at 11m, 1st big dead improv. raw but right on.

3/25/66 trouper’s hall: all-night harmonica store. poster by acid chemist owsley stanley, photos by @rosiemcgee12. A+ sound. earliest live STEALIN’, electrified jug band boogie recorded for 1st single. and then a still-unidentified 9m R&B instrumental jam. before they play it, weir says the mystery jam’s title fast, garbled, & off-mic. anyone wanna slow that down and/or have a guess? 1st HEY LITTLE ONE by dorsey burnette, garcia crooning rockabilly-pop. gorgeous twang-psych solo. outro belting hints at ’80s ballads. 1st complete YOU DON’T HAVE TO ASK, meticulously overwritten & ambitious psychedelic garage pop with changing keys & vocal parts, wild guitaring. 30m set, a break, then the earliest COLD RAIN & SNOW, on 1st album & staple for next 30 years. a herky jerky thrill.

4/66 “studio demo”: via “rare cuts & oddities,” the earliest versions of STANDING ON THE CORNER & CREAM PUFF WAR (with alternate chorus, slightly slower tempo, & a few more arrangement tricks). neither shows up on live recordings until the band’s return to san francisco in may. manic GOOD LOVIN’ has pig on lead (jerry sings on the only ’66 live version) & super-charged almost beach boys-like gang vocals.

4/22/66 longshoreman’s hall: 23m from hyped trips festival knockoff, 1st gig since return from LA. nice sound. 1st BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE with multi-beat intro (6, in this case). still some lyric differences & semi-written guitar break. earliest GOOD MORNING LITTLE SCHOOLGIRL (with mucho bass counterpoint) goes into willie cobb’s YOU DON’T LOVE ME, jerry sung, & back. the two songs are basically interchangeable, but it’s the earliest recorded grateful dead segue.

4/24/66 longshoreman’s hall: solid 35m (maaaaybe) from 3rd night of fake trips fest, recently surfaced radio ad sadly taken down. 7m VIOLA LEE BLUES still a work-in-progress, but already more jam than solo, clean-toned jerry weirdisms & double-time swing. also in-progress: owsley’s mix. semi-audible garcia/lesh jams in MIDNIGHT HOUR’s quizzical breaks & pretty spaces behind pig’s rap. BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE has guitar figure intro but written solo, so maybe date is wrong? forensics here. almost 8m of blues jam with jorma kaukonen & jack casady; unremarkable adventures in unpleasant double bass fuzz.

5/??/66 unknown venue: formerly “ivar theater 2/25/66.” song arrangements seem to date it from may or june. earliest recorded dead version of SHE’S ON THE ROAD AGAIN, garcia-sung jug band holdover with prominent lead harmonica by pigpen. 1st I KNOW YOU RIDER with “muddy water” & “sun will shine” verses. everybody sings everything, phil loudest. no northbound train yet. unison riffs & drum breaks of COLD RAIN & SNOW way more together than earlier version, but garcia’s voice still fluttering all over. effective not-quite-segue from greasy KING BEE into CAUTION, latter with nifty dual guitar/harmonica & mini-jam.

5/19/66 avalon ballroom: the dead’s avalon debut & 1st real tape from the ballroom era, early & late sets. big drums. many firsts. earliest STANDING ON THE CORNER, dead original. lyrics seem like garcia doing dylan. last version of b-grade garage-psych MINDBENDER. 1st great VIOLA LEE BLUES, kretuzmann & lesh shifting casually into a jam under garcia solo, unfolding smoothly into the modal fringe. earliest CREAM PUFF WAR, rare song with words/music by garcia, & earliest original to survive until 1st album. solo stays just inside. earliest SITTIN’ ON TOP OF THE WORLD, too, surprisingly in exact same arrangement & tempo they’d stick with until dropping it in ’72. aaaand 1st taped version of weir’s electrified jugband tune NEW MINGLEWOOD BLUES, too, most of the 1st album repertoire now in place. rare pigpen joint: 2nd & final surviving so-so take of fats domino’s SICK & TIRED. also, 1st taped version if elmore jame’s IT HURTS ME TOO, a pigpen standard unchanged through his last tour, sad & sweet. earliest SILVER THREADS & GOLDEN NEEDLES, weir’s 1st country tune (cool phil harmony) & earliest live version of garcia’s BABY BLUE, only live ’66 version of insanely way-too-fast GOOD LOVIN’ with garcia singing lead (plus the “new ending,” per stage banter), gone ’til ’69.

7/3/66 fillmore auditorium: independence ball, with love. vocals brutal throughout. swingin’ boogie, though. band dedicates set to “the sundancers of ignacio, colorado, out there doin’ it.” garcia plugs mnasidika, local head boutique. earliest versions of half-dozen tunes, including HE WAS A FRIEND OF MINE (properly mark spoelstra’s JUST A HAND TO HOLD) & NOBODY’S FAULT BUT MINE, both pretty straight. 1st known DANCING IN THE STREET, staple for next 5 years, already an enthused (if contained) jam platform, garcia testing the edges. VIOLA LEE BLUES sounding immensely assured. not as wild & out as 5/16, but all lean in hard & stay together in the jam, even pigpen. earliest live version of BIG BOSS MAN, slinky & hep, pig fave thru ’72. 1st of 2 known versions of KEEP ROLLING BY, pig-led stones-y original with neat gang vocals. only DON’T MESS UP A GOOD THING, his/her soul re-set for pig, & j. “guitar” watson’s GANGSTER OF LOVE, unconvincingly sung by jerry. 1st CARDBOARD COWBOY (aka NO LEFT TURN UNSTONED), overwritten phil lesh mod-psych, stiffly sung. waiting to be covered gracefully. YOU DON’T HAVE TO ASK gets drum intro. instrumental break now guitar/key duo. with CREAM PUFF WAR, most accomplished original so far. pig’s MIDNIGHT HOUR rap still half-baked, but rare & sweet shout to longtime girlfriend, vee. 1st bill graham band intro.

7/16/66 fillmore auditorium: alternating sets with the airplane. being a 1966 saturday, probably tripping, too. vocals getting better. off-mic intra-squad reminders to watch tempos before BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE, YOU DON”T HAVE TO ASK, & others. only known take of leadbelly’s IN THE PINES, sung by garcia, & not wholly successful. more like a drinking song than a murder ballad. 1st of 2 versions of allen toussaint’s PAIN IN MY HEART, learned via otis redding, sung by pigpen. the ’72 dead would’ve crushed this. kreutzmann’s drums starting to really move with garcia’s guitar, seeking destination on CREAM PUFF WAR, finding it on VIOLA LEE BLUES. late set begins with a cute bill graham intro & for 1st time, short-lived full band pre-intro to VIOLA LEE. gang vocals sound big. only surviving ’66 live version of DON’T EASE ME IN, electric jug bounce & b-side for 1st single, released locally that summer. forensics dept.: off-mic voice asking “otis?” before tight YOU DON’T HAVE TO ASK helps confirm alt. title, OTIS ON A SHAKEDOWN CRUISE. weir not getting DANCING IN THE STREET lyrics yet, adds own verse. jam doesn’t go far, but sure goes. tape cuts off.

7/17/66 fillmore auditorium: nice big sound. another good miniature jam on CREAM PUFF WAR that doesn’t break through, exactly, but the band (& billy, really) starting to swing/flow during solos. nice reverb-y atmosphere during slinky 9-minute KING BEE. last KEEP ROLLING BY. unlike the version earlier in the month, this one is nearly 8 minutes, feels like it should have stax horns, & has a misterioso maybe-kinda-modal jam in 1st half before pig-style rave-up. definitely some alternate universe dead, a pigpen tune with a psych jam. adios!

7/29/66 vancouver trips festival: despite the event’s name, the grateful dead’s 1st real trip out of town for purposes other than acid tests. band’s garage-prog phase coming to an end. last known versions of 2 early originals, including opener STANDING ON THE CORNER. farewell to the awkward grooviness of CARDBOARD COWBOY. a bouncy BABY BLUE, same day as dylan’s motorcycle crash in woodstock. short locked-in garcia/kreutzmann improv in CREAM PUFF WAR. plus, the a-side to the band’s brand new single STEALIN’, released only in san francisco. probably no merch table in vancouver. set-closing VIOLA LEE BLUES is 2nd of 2 versions with descending circusy pre-intro. big noise for the canadian n00bs. (my full essay on the dead’s adventures at the vancouver trips festival is available now in rhino records’ 50th anniversary reissue of the band’s first album.)

7/30/66 vancouver trips festival: last show with (& stereo-panned tape made by) owsley’s proto-wall of sound. as event MC comes on, phil: “we’ll use a simple syllable to test our microphones tonight. the syllable is narc. narc. narc. narc.” 9m DANCING IN THE STREET opener pushes fleetingly into a modal peak & back via garcia, giving jam graceful sense of movement. last known version of dorsey burnette’s #48 1960 hit HEY LITTLE ONE. tasty inside guitar solo, but not much of a loss. on the other hand, goodbye to the too-clever-for-this-world structure of YOU DON’T HAVE TO ASK. and off go owsley stanley & tim scully with the dead’s equipment truck to establish a new LSD lab.

late ’66 rehearsal: on “rare cuts & oddities” collection. love weir’s early version of SILVER THREADS & GOLDEN NEEDLES, brought back in ’69.

11/19/66 fillmore auditorium: solid soundboard is 1st full tape since summer, most polished & confident yet. lothar & the hand people! debate over if this is 11/19/66 or 3/17/67, but weir’s “autumn” in DANCING IN THE STREET suggests former. cute one-by-one bill graham intro ala “one from the vault”: “on the bass, mr. philip lesh… on the far left, on lead guitar & vocals, the charles atlas of the psychedelic set.” only surviving ’66 live version of HI-HEELED SNEAKERS. honky blues vocals by garcia. tasty licks, though. enticing guitar/organ swirl on CREAM PUFF WAR. 2nd of 2 versions of allen toussaint’s PAIN IN MY HEART, learned via otis redding, sung by pigpen. the ’72 dead would’ve crushed this. earliest SAME THING by willie dixon, sung by pig. moody 11m jam. early jazzy comping by weir under organ solo & double-time build. weir finally gets lyrics to DANCING IN THE STREET & band gets jam. soaring garcia, spiraling further out as tape cuts off around 6m. set ends with 34m of pig. 1st known SMOKESTACK LIGHTNING (with fine guitar/harp toodle) downshifts into KING BEE. nice flow on dynamic 19m MIDNIGHT HOUR. pig works crowd & briefly raps about “TCB”. elvis to the courtesy phone.

11/29/66 the matrix: 1st of 2 nights & 3.5 hours of music. many otherwise undocumented corners of mysterious ’66 repertoire. 80m of sets 2/3, beginning with earliest ME & MY UNCLE, only song played every year 1966-1995 (except ’68?). speedy. drum roll intro. musicologist graeme boone pegs weir’s modal playing on 12m SAME THING as 1st sign of mccoy tyner influence. 1st known version of the olympics’ BIG BOY PETE is big group-sung fun. matrix co-owner marty balin seemingly shouting requests. at marty’s request, only extant live take of phil-sung EARLY MORNING RAIN. more involved harmonies/arrangement than ’65 studio demo. set 3 opens with 1st of 2 BEEN DOWN SO LONGs, jerry-sung original, like a lost jug band tune. 1st try at writing americana? more rare pig: 1st of 2 SOMETHING ON YOUR MINDs (not dino valente’s). only I JUST WANT TO MAKE LOVE TO YOU ’til weir’s ’95 revival. garcia & weir get juggy & doofy with 1st taped OVERSEAS STOMP, done by mother mccree’s in ’64 but only 3 known late ’66 dead versions (& a fragment from ’67). band signs off with short full-band arrangement of vaudeville themes. not the looney tunes’ MERRY-GO-ROUND BROKE DOWN/”that’s all folks” outro (as its often labeled), but cartoonish just the same.

12/1/66 the matrix: another remarkable slice of 1966. 3 sets, 2 hours, & many oddities from a hole-in-the-wall club in san francisco. band’s repertoire continues to turn over rapidly. on the 3 shows from late ’66, 9 songs (plus 2 with a guest) appear nowhere else. garcia promises “cold beer on tap, lurid night club atmosphere, & beatniks! more beatniks than you can count on two hands.” only live BETTY & DUPREE, demoed in march. folk tune converted to rock ballad, vibrato crooning by garcia matched by guitar tremolo. last known versions of ONE KIND FAVOR, SOMETHING ON YOUR MIND, & charming BEEN DOWN SO LONG, semi-lost neo-jugband original. sole extant live ALICE D. MILLIONAIRE, garage pop named for 10/66 “LSD millionaire” headline about owsley, though lyrics don’t have much to do with it. sung by pig. clever vocals/arrangement. weir starts new-to-them ME & MY UNCLE, which falls apart quickly. they try again with garcia leading & succeed. hyper farfisa/guitar. only taped DEEP ELEM BLUES from the era. nifty chorus harmony & arrangement abandoned with acoustic/electric revival in 1970. 2nd set punctuated by rando singing/harmonicaing YONDER’S WALL & MY OWN FAULT. pass. last ON THE ROAD AGAIN ’til 1980 acoustic sets. superb feral jams in each set! 1st set closes with longest ever CREAM PUFF WAR (at 9m), 3rd with untethered 11m DANCING IN THE STREET. in the 2nd set, ecstatic 15m VIOLA LEE BLUES expands to white hot peak, garcia blazing louder than drums. wish the bass was audible. at tape’s end, another ME & MY UNCLE. either filler from same period or band drilling song. i like to think latter.

12/23/66 avalon ballroom: released in 1970 & ’71 as quasi-bootlegs “vintage dead” & “historic dead”. unclear what’s from which night. sounds great, though. again, weir’s seasonal lyric change in DANCING IN THE STREET rounds down the date, december not september. last recorded BABY BLUE ’til ’69 & last uptempo version. no solos, just guitar breaks. only surviving dylan cover from early years. nice bright moments, including action-packed 7m DANCING & final farfisa-driven STEALIN’, revived acoustic by garcia/grisman in ’92. last known version of strident electrified jug standard of I KNOW YOU RIDER, MIA until getting paired with CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER in ’69. solidly 2/3 of the 2 LPs is pigpen, including side-long MIDNIGHT HOUR that won’t win over haters but has chill conversational garcia. can see why band wasn’t into these LPs, but can only imagine how stoked deadheads must’ve been when they came out.

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

#deadfreaksunite 1965


#deadfreaksunite 1965
show-by-show notes

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

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

11/3/65 golden state recorders: 18m 5-song demo by the emergency crew, formerly the warlocks, soon the grateful dead. the only known ’65 tape & earliest recorded electric music, 6 months after band’s founding. amazing recording, hinting at the dead’s undocumented early months, an alternate universe with phil as lead singer.

CAN’T COME DOWN: dylan-y rave-up about gettin’ real high, lyrics/vocals by garcia, tight harmonica breaks. no surviving live versions.

MINDBENDER: stilted but ambitious pop, vocals & dense lyrics mostly by lesh. mystic farfisa. sweet spaghetti western licks by garcia.

ONLY TIME IS NOW: the dead’s lost sunshine-pop gem. cool beatles-y tremolo. lyrics by jerry pal dave parker, future dead bookkeeper.

CAUTION: cribbed from Them’s MYSTIC EYES. blues-clang condensed into ultra-busy & well-packed 3m. already they’re all soloing at once.

I KNOW YOU RIDER: brighter/faster than iconic later arrangement. slop-rock guitar chug. lead singin’ by phil. but who’s on tambourine?

EARLY MORNING RAIN: gordon lightfoot tune, sung by lesh. groovy fun with a good urgent bounce. phil’s vocals are goofy, but i can dig.

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

#deadfreaksunite 1974


#deadfreaksunite 1974
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 anniversary and edited here for readability and occasional revision/correction and minor expansion. All shows streamable via archive.org.

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

2/22/74 winterland: a long soundcheck spent working on 3 new songs, the retired ATTICS OF MY LIFE, & a proto-ESTIMATED PROPHET jam. show opens with the proper debut of U.S. BLUES, ex-WAVE THAT FLAG. nice & punchy, though band doesn’t seem quite done practicing it. the 1st IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES, the only GD tune credited solely to hunter, is an instant winner, though fast & a bit clunky. garcia plays fully articulated SLIPKNOT! inside PLAYING IN THE BAND, uncharacteristically forcing it discordantly into the jam. 1st SHIP OF FOOLS, a major new jerry tune, is likewise uptempo compared to future versions, but dramatic & funny & wonderful. not a lot of compelling jamming, the band’s overexcitement best encompassed by non-sequitur bass bombs in CHINA DOLL.

2/23/74 winterland: final HERE COMES SUNSHINE until the (shudder) ’90s revival. farewell big blissy jam, we hardly knew ye. ’74 model mellowness seems way less lethargic & more pleasing than the ’73 version, probably mostly due to the warm piano/rhodes mix. even-keeled LET IT GROW with sweet weird-swing by kretuzmann. subtle jerry/keith SLIPKNOT! counterpoint in OTHER ONE.

2/24/74 winterland: another U.S. BLUES opener, clearly the new anthem, more confident than its debut, now beaming & exuberant & goofy. great show all around, with vivid foregrounded piano/rhodes in CUMBERLAND BLUES, PLAYING IN THE BAND, WEATHER REPORT SUITE & more. 1st DARK STAR of ’74 starts & stops a few times before coalescing into a short, jaw-dropping coda & a long, drippy MORNING DEW.  1st IT’S ALL OVER NOW BABY BLUE since 9/72 & last ’til ’81. slightly uptempo, but graceful, unrushed, & nice. g’bye.

3/23/74 cow palace: hello, wall of sound! the 1st proper show for owsley’s legendary, crystalline PA. greetings, as well, to SCARLET BEGONIAS & CASSIDY, last major pre-hiatus debuts. SCARLET’s open-ended bounce is sloppy & irresistible. CASSIDY, released 2 years earlier on “ace,” has even more potential. a real shame they shelved it again ’til ’76. my fave weir song? final PLAYING IN THE BAND  > UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > MORNING DEW > UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > PLAYING IN THE BAND sequence, led by magical soft-edged garcia attack that could last forever. unexpected beatles-y counterpoint vocal on SHIP OF FOOLS’ final chorus, not articulated during 3 previous versions.

5/12/74 reno: the wall of sound hits the road. 3-set outdoor show amid crazy washoe zephyr winds that phil references. lulz whenever the dead use gazillion-watt WoS to play polka-boogies. appropriately surly lesh vocals on MEXICALI BLUES & everywhere. high-speed details & thrilling MIND LEFT BODY-like descent before the only lyric-mangled verse of quick-dissolving OTHER ONE, a fully developed MIND LEFT BODY jam & 2 more jerry ballads, though SHIP OF FOOLS is sly & perfect in early uptempo version.

5/14/74 missoula: 1st & only time the dead played montana. “sweet susie” returns to LOSER for 1st time since ’72. garcia sounds confused. bubbling SCARLET BEGONIAS jam, too short, kreutzmann pushing the band outside the structure. a pleasant landing into IT NUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES. 27m DARK STAR features unparalleled space-swing, highwire JG/BK dazzle, stereo fuzz conversations, flexatone, & ample cosmic boredom. dense & unsettling CHINA DOLL with insane overloaded guitar solo amid a drippingly psychedelic soundboard mix. fratboy hits weir on head with plastic beer pitcher & weir responds appropriately with cheesiest ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT yet.

5/17/74 vancouver: debut of a new faster arrangement of LOOSE LUCY. still a throwaway, but now with refreshing bonus pep. weir’s MONEY MONEY, on the other hand, is unsafe at any speed. the worst dead tune not written by a keyboardist? IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES & SHIP OF FOOLS both slow down even more & get even better. played almost every night & rightly so. top notch PLAYING IN THE BAND & TRUCKIN’ > EYES OF THE WORLD > CHINA DOLL jams but, except for hard-driving EYES outro, nothing exceptional.

5/19/74 portland: big cheer for 3rd ever SCARLET BEGONIAS. does the crowd possibly know it or is it just instinctual 1st reaction? band makes a point of cutting off the SCARLET jam (why?!) & ending together crisply, an oddity by itself. thankfully, it won’t stick. 4 big garcia ballads, including beautiful 1st PEGGY-O of ’74 & a powerful CRYPTICAL-like WHARF RAT that keeps expanding as it spirals. fast, fun TRUCKIN’ unwinds into an unusual funk-slop MIND LEFT BODY, the closest kreutzmann ever got to breakbeats.

5/21/74 seattle: a monster show highlighted by a 46-minute PLAYING IN THE BAND, 3rd longest standalone jam in the band’s history. good omens: donna jean’s SCARLET BEGONIAS wail is kind of nice & low-key, karen dalton style. last of 3 MONEY MONEYs. fuck that song. no, really. it’s so hateful & un-deady. 1st set ends on unusual elegiac note with an unfussy CHINA DOLL. works really well. A+ PLAYING soars with bizarre internal logic, earns its brief space-outs & is bookended by some of the more brutal donna screams ever. the 23m EYES OF THE WORLD > WHARF RAT that follows might be seen as unnecessary by some. i am not among them.

5/25/74 santa barbara: one of my 1st killer soundboards (thanks, compuserve tape tree!) & my personal definitive CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER segue. TRUCKIN’ bends swiftly from blooze boogie to fast zagging & drumless space where keith plays subtly sun ra-y monophonic synth & into the only ’74 LET IT GROW unattached to rest of WEATHER REPORT SUITE & capped by 3rd big WHARF RAT in 3 shows. also the show where a taper snuck in his deck by burying it in the stadium the night before.

6/8/74 oakland: a sun-stroked bill graham day on the green at oakland stadium w/ the beach boys, new riders, & commander cody opening. strong candidate for the all-time most of out-of-tune dead show, due to heat. for mucho excellent baseball banter, check @NotBobWeir. SCARLET BEGONIAS feels slightly off-kilter, with garcia unwinding a cool inverted version of the melody to signal the end of the jam. 40m PLAYING IN THE BAND > WHARF RAT > PLAYING IN THE BAND wanders early but goes molten. even keith steps up during A+ darting full-band improv.

6/16/74 des moines: 4 hours over 3 afternoon sets at the state fairgrounds. pictures show grand piano, but keith plays mostly rhodes. good fun throughout. SCARLET BEGONIAS is short but big. sounds like it could go anywhere. uncharacteristically clangy CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER. bodacious EYES OF THE WORLD > BIG RIVER segue. refreshing to hear the band keep uptempo momentum instead of resolving into a ballad. weir & donna finally nail nifty beatles-y SHIP OF FOOLS outro harmony. 30m PLAYING IN THE BAND with chiming disassembly & abstruse zapping. keith uses fuzzed rhodes for garth hudson-style country-funk on ME & MY UNCLE. many-themed TRUCKIN’ capped by smooth MIND LEFT BODY as a confident bridge into sweeping WHARF RAT. weir loses his voice & doesn’t sing after the big jam. also refreshing.

6/18/74 louisville: a stone classic. rich sound, punchy bass, mucho piano, quiet dynamics. like my old tape, slightly sped up. PSA by weir: “you’re probably wondering why we called you all here tonight. the upshot of it is that one of you is a Venutian spy.” an all-time great EYES OF THE WORLD, crisp & roaring, godchaux taking the 1st solo & adding triumphant harmony to the 7/8 outro. 20m LET IT GROW sparkles into mutant swing & a 19m OTHER ONE, dissolution, odd pockets, & space-blooze prelude to STELLA BLUE. rare MORNING DEW encore. long & exquisite quiet valley before the final peak, filled with piano/guitar/bass droplets.

6/20/74 atlanta: debut of the weir/garcia guitar harmony intro to JACK STRAW. 1st TO LAY ME DOWN of the year. ineffable LSDC&W. more sweet godchaux piano throughout. especially breathtaking quiet filigrees on MUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES. you were right, @jimmyjacktoth. EYES OF THE WORLD opens into a runaway garcia solo; an early version of SLIPKNOT, everyone else half-successfully figuring it out as they go. CHINA DOLL features the return of the awesome overloaded split-signal feedback guitar solo from the missoula version.

6/22/74 miami: super-fine 29m PLAYING IN THE BAND with shimmering jazz dance, soft-fuzz guitar, & sudden invention in the clouds of unknowing. comfortably far-out CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER with a half-baroque rhodes part. odd tempo disagreements on BERTHA, WHARF RAT, more.

6/23/74 miami: only dead version of chuck berry’s LET IT ROCK. started by phil, sung by jerry, outside garcia/weir rotation. fun but wut? the 1st setbreak SEASTONES duet between phil lesh (on quad bass) & ned lagin (on e-mu modular synth) zapping thru the wall of sound. 13m of disorienting & increasingly piercing full-body biomusic burble & scream around the jai-alai fronton. deadheads applaud politely. lagin plays rhodes on JAM > SHIP OF FOOLS & is fully present on a wordless 22m DARK STAR > SPANISH JAM, conversing with garcia & lesh. or this is the busiest godchaux playing ever? garcia deploys split-signal feedback-fuzz during SPANISH JAM & destroys.

6/26/74 providence: A+ mix of soundboard with jerry moore audience tape. dude in the crowd really wants people in front to sit down. frenetic LET IT GROW jam cooks for 4m & evaporates. SEASTONES is mostly gentle bio-voltage. heads seems receptive, even enthused. another abnormally long CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER, starting with a noodle-y prelude & a quizzical diversion before garcia starts to sing. big thumpin’ TRUCKIN’, but quad bass solo, OTHER ONE riffage, SPANISH JAM, other themes feel restless & disconnected.

6/28/74 boston garden: an old fave with setlist shenanigans & a fun, consistent up-ness; big jam is more scattered than i remembered. split-up SUGAR MAGNOLIA/SUNSHINE DAYDREAM bookends a set for 1st time. SCARLET BEGONIAS moves to 2nd set & nearly breaks free. short soundboard SEASTONES excerpt erupts from vivid oceanic static to screaming flares. crisp TO LAY ME DOWN; best since its revival 42m WEATHER REPORT SUITE > MIND LEFT BODY builds, hovers near DARK STAR with brilliant themes, fuzzy dead air & long build to U.S. BLUES. surly phil intros SHIP OF FOOLS: “a quiet, tender, meaningful, sympathetic, heavy-duty ballad in the key of b-flat.”

6/30/74 springfield, MA: superb PLAYING IN THE BAND > UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > PLAYING IN THE BAND delights with mondo keith, dime-turn transition, & thoughtful reprise. 2 more spots where almost all drop out but garcia, including a jerry/phil feedback-fuzz bridge into UNCLE JOHN’S BAND & 6m prelude to STELLA BLUE. most cogent SEASTONES yet courtesy of the 1st complete soundboard. seems like phil harshing the noise & ned bleeping more consonantly. nice l’il charge from U.S. BLUES > TRUCKIN’. killer EYES OF THE WORLD (again: keith!) with wild kreutzmann drumming during end break.

7/19/74 fresno: right-on 30m PLAYING IN THE BAND marked by straight jazz, dancing rhodes by birthday boy keith, flowing de- & reconstruction. annoyingly chatty audience-only tape of SEASTONES punctuated by friendliest taper ever. “are you taping this?” “absolutely!!” 1st HE’S GONE since february is long & shaky, with dixieland blues coda by garcia that is sweet & mournful but never takes off. LET IT GROW, peaks atop peaks, a brief space-canyon, glorious patient SPANISH JAM, full-flight EYES OF THE WORLD. enthralling.

7/21/74 hollywood bowl: generally sweet audience tape with another lazy summer MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP > IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES & another talk-marred SEASTONES. 21m PLAYING IN THE BAND with brisk note-chasing & a mini-MIND LEFT BODY/NOBODY’S FAULT/SPANISH JAM collision to set up WHARF RAT.

7/25/74 chicago: just noticing that ROW JIMMY has gradually sped up since slow-ass ’73 versions, back to refreshing SUGAREE-ish lilt. a pleasant vocal-less DARK STAR. nothing jarring, just satisfying linked jams, harmony guitars, drum/keys break, proto-SLIPKNOT, more. JOHNNY B. GOODE has weir shouting like it’s already the ’80s. donna gets brassy on a new part of SHIP OF FOOLS. :( .

7/27/74 roanoke: besides conversational 25m PLAYING IN THE BAND & garcia forcing U.S. BLUES into uneventful 5m boogie jam, oddly improv-less show. weir sings 5 songs in the 2nd set, all covers, 4 from the ’50s. no ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT even though it was a saturday. thanks?

7/29/74 landover: rare DC area show. the hep place to be for swinging beltway liberals at the height of watergate, per reports. straight-ahead & great. many enthused whoops throughout U.S. BLUES. especially assertive IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES. missing SEASTONES. compact & articulate 49m HE’S GONE > TRUCKIN’ > NOBODY’S FAULT > OTHER ONE > SPANISH JAM > WHARF RAT & bonus PEGGY-O.

7/31/74 hartford: 3 sets, all cracking & on point. 1st SCARLET BEGONIAS show opener, purdy rhodes cascades, concise but far-reaching. extraordinarily animated & delightful garcia vocals throughout. 1st time he punches the line “let my eyes no LONGER see” in ROSES. 1st onstage acknowledgment of SEASTONES? “we’ll be for another set in a few moments,” sez jerry. “…& additional weirdness,” adds phil. 2nd full SEASTONES soundboard is the harshest phil/ned custy blastage yet. “get off the stage,” someone yells audibly. #noiselife. curling, primo 40m TRUCKIN’ > MIND LEFT BODY > SPANISH JAM > WHARF RAT. even ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT kinda glows a little.

8/4/74 philadelphia: fairly ripsnorting JACK STRAW thanks to strident phil vocals, a completely tasty solo, & over-saturated mix. 20m LET IT GROW churns, goes supernova, & reforms for a fast, weird 2 minutes before garcia slashes into WHARF RAT.

8/5/74 philly: sparkling soundboard. another golden MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP > MUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES. not a natural segue, but a nice pairing. nearly gentle SEASTONES, woman desperately screaming “jerrrrrrry!” on audience tape. last 3m is a burbling annihilation & denouement. big bouncing SCARLET BEGONIAS, 1st to break 10m. half-hour TRUCKIN’ thrills & opens up without resorting to jam motifs.

8/6/74 jersey city: summer tour finale ends an era: the last east coast show (& final U.S. jaunt) ’til mickey hart’s return in ’76. 2 big 1st set jams. jeweled 19m EYES OF THE WORLD with atypically mellifluous bass solo. weir PSA: “don’t climb on the fence, idiot!” PLAYING IN THE BAND bubbles into syncopated space-funk & a totally-like-WOW segue into a semi-off-kilter SCARLET BEGONIAS & on back to PLAYING. rare HE’S GONE prefaces a 31m TRUCKIN’ swerve through SPANISH JAM & only the 5th OTHER ONE of ’74, bookended by SUGAR MAGNOLIA/SUNSHINE DAYDREAM. U.S. BLUES’s “summertime done come & gone” refrain caps the tour & the epoch. see you in a month for europe ’74.

9/9/74 london: the wall of sound takes europe! 1st of 3 nights at alexandra palace starts hours late, earning ill-will from UK heads. 1 set, scant improv. ugly coked-up vibes, per mcnally’s bio. nice SCARLET BEGONIAS, though, with audible cheer for “grosvenor square” line. 16m TRUCKIN’ packs big & bigger thrills with aggressive OTHER ONE bass orbits but instead parachutes into WHARF RAT.

9/10/74 london: excellent 1st set garcia, including dramatic LOSER & nuanced PEGGY-O. LET IT GROW finds edge of space & pulls back. weir opens show with tepid AROUND & AROUND & hijacks early 2nd set with interminable & ultra-lame 16m NOT FADE AWAY. thankfully, 31m DARK STAR flashes between heaviness, confusion, & killer keith. serious post-verse meltdown into bass-crazed MORNING DEW.

9/11/74 london: good: SCARLET BEGONIAS getting longer & more intricate. bad: donna now wailing/whoaing/la-la’ing deeper into the jam. set 2 consists of 69m SEASTONES > EYES OF THE WORLD > WHARF RAT. probably my all-time most-played sequence, still rewarding & weird. garcia & kreutzmann join for deep, lysergic SEASTONES, jagged figures transforming to silver valleys, floating blurps, buddha-guitar. ned’s strident melodic piano dominates EYES, unrushed themes unfolding before a 10m SEASTONES reconstruction into WHARF RAT. lagin remembers garcia erupting into “a prolonged loud belly laugh” after the jam’s conclusion, totally audible on tape. bonus 3rd set. garcia/weir/donna master the counterpoint on final SHIP OF FOOLS chorus, setting up dramatic finish.

9/14/74 munich: weirdly off. SCARLET BEGONIAS has cool counterpoint & high-speed garcia but awkward grooves & rare sloppy ending. SEASTONES achieves a mellow vibration & builds to quad-fuzz detonation finale. germans sound way riled. PINBALL WIZARD comes on PA. last of 6 lovely MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP / MUST HAVE BEEN THE ROSES pairings, always a nice oasis in a desert of bob weir cowboy songs. no big jam, though 16m TRUCKIN’ hits laser focus for last few minutes, resolving to uptempo MIND LEFT BODY descent into WHARF RAT. more quicksilver garcia during EYES OF THE WORLD encore, but not enough to save show. backstage, bad vibes. http://bit.ly/X3M0HQ

9/18/74 dijon: smallest dead show in years, only a few hundred people. 1st set is ragged but even UNCLE JOHN’S BAND opener stretches casually. tiny french crowd even gets 1st FRIEND OF THE DEVIL since 12/72. jerry ballads aplenty & jam delights all over. both SEASTONES & 2nd set drums/bass break have lesh playing something like free jazz. EYES OF THE WORLD dips into a magical mood, wistful & quiet, lots of gorgeous lead bass & hints of SLIPKNOT; CHINA DOLL grows cool busy drum part. HE’S GONE burns into my new fave TRUCKIN’: 23m of fuego garcia, free DRUMZ, stereo bass, & a “CAUTION JAM” that’s something even better: 10m of shifting, sustained invention & cracking snare turnarounds, melting to SHIP OF FOOLS. thrilling, cohesive set.

9/20/74 paris: a shaggy night in the city of light. midtempo & loose FRIEND OF THE DEVIL. overheard on drum mic pre-BEAT IT DOWN THE LINE: “are you crazy? i can’t count that high, you dumb shit.” 14(?)-beat intro nearly collapses. bizarre SCARLET BEGONIAS gets quiet with slide guitar, off-mic donna la-la’s, off-key monophonic synth (ned?), subtle cowbell details. TRUCKIN’ fans out into squiggly space with neat results, eventually a long garcia/kreutzmann duet, & noise bass bridge into EYES OF THE WORLD. does EYES have bad mix or is it falling apart? unrelated(?), billy k. throws moped through a window. http://bit.ly/1rbjqQV

9/21/74 paris: a sometimes brutal conclusion to 7-show europe ’74 tour & the last dead show outside of san francisco ’til 6/76. or it could be another weir-less mix that just feels off. solid EYES OF THE WORLD outro sounds ready for “blues for allah” sessions. full band on 11m SEASTONES, a fun & dense mess that loses steam. great shattering-glass blasts & a nice ned/keith piano duet, though. 18m PLAYING IN THE BAND stays low stakes with small lurvely garcia/lagin dialogues, dissolves into DRUMS, & screeches awkwardly into final chorus. kreutzmann starting to get into cowbell, including on ROW JIMMY break. maybe the ’80s weren’t only mickey’s fault?

10/16/74 winterland: 1st of 5 eventful “retirement” shows, longest all-time gig (4+ hours of music) & probably the furthest out. camera crew starts shooting “the GD movie.” last ME & BOBBY McGEE. always dug the way garcia bark-crooned the high part on the chorus. weir’s 27th birthday, but happy overbalance of jerry songs; back-to-back TENNESSEE JED & crackling CUMBERLAND BLUES both stretch subtly. 24m SEASTONES, ambient washes sound like (or possibly are?) nearby humans screaming; into dope 25m garcia/lesh/lagin/kreutzmann quartet. too much even for SF deadheads, who clap impatiently during last space-out &, disbelieving maybe, slow to cheer when WHARF RAT starts. and then: 36m WHARF RAT > EYES OF THE WORLD, each with an elliptical solo jerry break. on EYES, thick double keys by lagin & godchaux. and still 45m more: TRUCKIN’ mini-suite &, before encore, phil endearingly & atonally singing HAPPY BIRTHDAY to weir.

10/17/74 winterland: the last shows before mickey hart’s return, containing final streamlined 1-drummer versions of many faves. last RAMBLE ON ROSE ’til 9/76. goodbye phil vocals, goodbye subtlety on the bridge. rare FRIEND OF THE DEVIL sounding comfy. last kreutzmann-only OTHER ONE, forever the best jam for his inside-out gang-of-one free drumming. it really tied the room together. 30m OTHER ONE gets both verses, quick SPANISH JAM & MIND LEFT BODY (last ’til 12/83). last BK-only STELLA BLUE. :( .
10/18

10/18/74 winterland: final 1-drummer SUGAREE & PEGGY-O, spare & uncomplicated tunes served well by spare & uncomplicated drum parts. last WEATHER REPORT SUITE PRELUDE/PART 1. among my fave weir songs, sad & autumnal no matter the season. love garcia’s faux steel. last of 4 jams out of SEASTONES with ned lagin on keys. kreutzmann comes out swingin’, leading modal jazz dances that fold back into the last DARK STAR ’til 12/78. end of an era. quiet & lilting 1st half & post-verse jam that stays mostly inside, almost funky. nice bounce. and into patient MORNING DEW that goes supernova, last ’til 9/76. 3rd set seems unnecessary, but why not? g’bye billy-only SHIP OF FOOLS. an audience mic isn’t synced or this is worst-clapping crowd in dead history, often just totally unrelated to music.

10/19/74 winterland: almost too many comings/goings to note. final fast, crisp version of FRIEND OF THE DEVIL before ’76 slowdown. last LOOSE LUCY & BLACK THROATED WIND ’til 1990. final 1-drummer SCARLET BEGONIAS. sigh. randomly, 1st MAMA TRIED since 8/71. sloppy! rare BIG RAILROAD BLUES, fun bakersfield break in intro. final TOMORROW IS FOREVER (1st since 12/72), underrated garcia/donna C&W. so many songs go on ice: CHINA DOLL (until 5/77), UNCLE JOHN’S (12/76), RACE IS ON (10/80), DIRE WOLF (9/77), BLACK PETER (10/77). before vocals, TRUCKIN’ (9/77) veers into 1st legit CAUTION JAM since pig’s death (fire!), DRUMZ, & solo jerry space.

10/20/74 winterland: “the last one” before the dead’s break from the road, end of the 1st epoch. sweet typo on the ticket, even. as usual, bill graham both cheered & booed but nails intro: “as it should be on a sunday night in san francisco, the grateful dead.” weir garbles every single syllable of the 1st verse of MAMA TRIED, psychedelic in its own way. besides that, whole 1st set sparkles. lesh getting raspy, but BROKEDOWN PALACE (last ’til 5/77) is a stunner, final “american beauty” tune sung with its original harmonies. SEASTONES (last at a GD gig) starts with ned solo, making tangible bleep grids, moist & tonal. then phil & white noise washes arrive. garcia joins for last 15m of SEASTONES, adding subliminal melodic swells & noodles to lesh & lagin’s unsettling, sparse vibrations. mickey hart returns for last 2 sets, quietness refined since ’71 instantly swallowed by big busy beat. band’s balance audibly shifts. new possibilities in propulsive hippie fusion & deep messiness emerge in 61m 4-song PLAYING IN THE BAND sequence with lagin on aggressive 2nd keys. 1st GOOD LOVIN’ since pigpen’s death, led by weir, only dead cover with 3 lead singers at different times (garcia in ’66/’69, pig in ’69-’72). and it’s way blown-out, the dawn of a new era of rhythmic clusterfuck, drifting between locked-in brilliance & aimless textural float. last EYES OF THE WORLD with 7/8 ending break. SLIPKNOT! riff links into STELLA BLUE, now swollen with overbearing tom-tom fills. cutting in mid-solo, a jawdropping MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP 2nd encore. perfect call with nearly every lyric apropos. it even reigns in hart. WE BID YOU GOODNIGHT to close it out, the last until new year’s ’76. dudes in crowd still shouting for ST. STEPHEN.

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

dead vinyl at baby’s allright, 6 february 2014

all Grateful Dead/Jerry Garcia vinyl set
Baby’s Allright
6 February 2014

“Here Comes Sunshine” from Dick’s Picks, v. 1 (Brookvale)
“China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider” from Ain’t It Crazy bootleg
“Don’t Ease Me In” 7-inch version, from untitled Italian bootleg
“Cold Rain and Snow” from Grateful Dead (Warner Bros.)
“Stealin’” from Rare Cuts and Oddities (Rhino)
“It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” from Vintage Dead (Sunflower)
“Dancin’ in the Street” from Dick’s Picks, v. 4 (Brookvale)
“Dark Star” from untitled Italian bootleg of Glastonbury Fayre [actually 8 April 1972]
“Crazy Fingers” from Blues For Allah (Grateful Dead)
“Positively 4th Street” from Garcia/Saunders’ Live at Keystone (Fantasy)
“Bird Song” from Garcia’s Garcia (Warner Bros.)
“Playing in the Band” from Weir’s Ace (Warner Bros.)
“Next Time You See Me” from Europe ’72, v. 2 (Rhino)
“Wake Up Little Susie” from Bear’s Choice (Warner Bros.)
“Silver Threads and Golden Needles” from Family Dog at the Great Highway, San Francisco, CA 4/18/70 (Rhino)
“Dire Wolf” from Reckoning (Arista)
“Cumberland Blues” from Winterland, May 30, 1971 (Rhino)
“Bill Graham introduction > Help On the Way > Slipknot! > Franklin’s Tower” from One From The Vault (Light in the Attic)
“It Hurts Me Too” from Europe ’72 (Warner Bros.)
“Ain’t It Crazy” from Ain’t It Crazy bootleg

Plunderphonic layered/segued:
“Mason’s Children > Caution > Feedback” / from Dick’s Picks, v. 4 (Brookvale)
“#2″ / from Ned Lagin’s Seastones (Round)
“Late For Supper > Spidergawd” / from Garcia’s Garcia (Warner Bros.)
“What’s Become of the Baby” / from Aoxomoxoa (Warner Bros.)
“Eep Hour” / from Garcia’s Garcia (Warner Bros.)
“Dark Star” / from Dick’s Picks, v. 4 (Brookvale)
“Side E” / from John Oswald’s Grayfolded (Important)
“Eyes of the World” from One From the Vault (Light in the Attic)

“Shakedown Street” from Shakedown Street (Arista)
“Cats Under the Stars” from Garcia’s Cats Under the Stars (Arista)
“Let’s Spend the Night Together” from Garcia’s Compliments of… (Round)
“‘Til the Morning Comes” from American Beauty (Warner Bros.)
“Run For the Roses” from Garcia’s Run For the Roses (Arista)
“Viola Lee Blues” from Grateful Dead (Warner Bros.)
“Boys in the Barroom” from Robert Hunter’s Tales of the Great Rum Runners (Round)

#deadfreaksunite 1973


#deadfreaksunite 1973
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 anniversary and edited here for readability and occasional revision/correction and minor expansion. All shows streamable via archive.org.

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

2/9/73 stanford: 1st gig in band’s actual hometown of palo alto since ’66, testing new PA & 7 new songs, most ever debuted at once. PA blowout on 1st note sadly not included. garcia almost immediately debuts ROW JIMMY, more subtly boisterous than later incarnations. weir’s using a nice new organ-y compression, notably on 1st LOOKS LIKE RAIN since 7/72, now unbearable without pedal steel & phil harmony. new boogie-outs LOOSE LUCY (with alternate lyrics) & WAVE THAT FLAG (the proto-U.S. BLUES) are the 1st 2 garcia songs that i find mostly disposable. 1st HERE COMES SUNSHINE near end of 1st set, 4-part vocals ragged & effective, bright changes perfect for glorious rainbow noodling. garcia’s 3 2nd set firsties begin with sweet emphatic groove of THEY LOVE EACH OTHER, song #1 in the deadhead wedding band fakebook. 1st EYES OF THE WORLD, instantly a major new tune, 19m debut dances between ambling & rambling, loses steam three times, picks up, misses the 7/8 ending & melts into 1st heartbreaking CHINA DOLL, the roughness of the rest of the show highlighting garcia’s buddha-croon.

2/15/73 madison: debut of loretta lynn’s YOU AIN’T WOMAN ENOUGH, donna’s 1st solo lead vocal, nice flash of ’72-style C&W. gentle cymbal-heavy DARK STAR, lots of garcia volume-knob violin twirls, pre-verse drift, & a lovely but clunky bass solo segue into 25m EYES OF THE WORLD > CHINA DOLL, phil sketches the 7/8 transition. the 1st big new piece for 2nd set suite-spot since ’67, really.

2/17/73 st. paul: drowzzzzy 20m early set HE’S GONE / LOOKS LIKE RAIN with, um, scatting by multiple suspects during former’s outro. punchy ROW JIMMY would fit on “Europe ’72.” terrifying ululation/flutter by donna throughout YOU AIN’T WOMAN ENOUGH. almost jamless 2nd set, save a short, buoyant HERE COMES SUNSHINE with a perfect, liquid segue into CHINA > RIDER.

2/19/73 chicago: amazing 2nd set. magical, soft-snared mix. 70m 5-song segue, starting with HE’S GONE. thankfully only phil scats. spiral splice from OTHER ONE into 1st essential EYES OF THE WORLD, lesh & weir darting lazily with garcia, 7/8 section fully formed.

2/21/73 champaign-urbana: garcia playing new tunes in his 1st slot at nearly every show. gang harmonies sound nice on ROW JIMMY. phil’s LOOKS LIKE RAIN harmonies return for final chorus. still figuring out the segue into EYES OF THE WORLD, 2 false stabs out of TRUCKIN’ (including a breakneck bass solo) before they achieve crossfade. the EYES gearwork loosens into a blissful open space, recombining a bit clumsily into a magnificent STELLA BLUE.

2/22/73 champaign: DARK STAR with flexatone(?!) & purposeful dissolve into another confident & blazing EYES OF THE WORLD. gigantic peak.

2/24/73 iowa city: 45m worth of bits/bobs. reluctantly starting to dig the brute force BOX OF RAIN vocals. consonant & opaque PLAYING IN THE BAND. tantalizing 5m post-TRUCKIN’ bass solo fragment verging on FEELIN’ GROOVY/BEAUTIFUL JAM (labeled as NOBODY’S FAULT BUT MINE?)

2/26/73 lincoln: 25m brightly traced DARK STAR, phil playing at SITTING ON TOP OF THE WORLD, meanders into EYES OF THE WORLD via finally-graceful bass segue. MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP is jaunty & surprising in the now-gentrified post-suite jerry ballad slot, billy on top the segue all the way.

2/28/73 salt lake city: great dick’s picks mix. can really hear keith/weir interaction, especially nice on SUGAREE. 2nd verse & end tag shaved off THE OTHER ONE for ’73, collapsing instead into EYES OF THE WORLD, with alternate lyric about a “lazy country home.” sequence of languid EYES dissolves ends in 1st ’73 MORNING DEW. 1st BID YOU GOODNIGHT since 8/71 to close out 1st tour-leg.

[ during the dead's 14 days off between 2/28 & 3/15/73, garcia played 12 times: 3 shows with merl saunders, the 1st 8 old & in the way gigs, & pigpen's wake. not going to make a habit of tweeting garcia solo joints, i promise, but maaaaybe occasionally...

3/7/73 garcia/saunders at keystone berkeley: w/ ex-frumious bandersnatch/founding journey guitarist george tickner, who is oddly great, comping cool/responsive stuff under garcia & holding his own during great space-spirals out of MERL'S TUNE. subtle segue into GEORGIA ON MY MIND. garcia sounds genuinely & genially bummed to have to stop when the bar flips on the house lights. ]

3/15/73 uniondale: 1st gig since pig’s death, 1st at nassau coliseum, band wearing nudie suits, ala 12/72. phil’s 33rd birthday. weir’s outro freak-outs ramping up show by show; a slippery/hilarious slope. hard to reconcile the utter long island chaos of the audience tape with the quiet swing evidenced when source switches to A+ soundboard. spacious layouts in 24m PLAYING IN THE BAND jam. jerry ballads bookend EYES OF THE WORLD suite with wild OTHER ONE. 3+ hours, the new normal.

3/16/73 uniondale: nice jammy 1st set with BIRD SONG / PLAYING IN THE BAND combo to close. 1st local cheer for “just like New York City” in RAMBLE ON ROSE. jerry: “all you people throwing joints on the stage, why don’t you light ‘em up & pass ‘em around?” phil: “we’re ALREADY high, thanks.” return of the PROMISED LAND/BERTHA/GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD next-beat segue suite from 9/72, some decent cowboy boogie, & then… DARK STAR, with odd intro harmonies establishing a sustained dreaminess, moody tangents, & an atonal high-step into TRUCKIN’ > MORNING DEW.

3/19/73 uniondale: inaudible drums, indoor fireworks, & off-time crowd clapping on audience-tape portion make everything woozy. 1st HE’S GONE since pigpen’s death, crowd inventing a new meaning with small successive cheers during outro. last time in the 1st set. 1st TAKE A STEP BACK, lesh/weir-tandem dead-style crowd control. funnier than weir’s YELLOW DOG JOKE. PSA from garcia: “there are some krishna consciousness people out there passing out good things to eat. it’s okay to eat it.” 1st THE RACE IS ON since 5/70, excepting weir’s sit-ins with the new riders. half-smooth half-segues from HALF-STEP > STELLA BLUE > JACK STRAW. again, band doesn’t jam into EYES OF THE WORLD, opting for a clean next-beat start after THE OTHER ONE & easily hitting the thoughtful, lazy gait. at all 3 nassau gigs, 1st big drug busts by undercovers, apparently audible on some tapes. band won’t return til ’79.

3/21/73 utica: 1st properly rehearsed & quite lurvely WEATHER REPORT SUITE PRELUDE serves as an intro to DARK STAR. unconvincing space-out but awesomely zapped crossfade into EYES OF THE WORLD, 7/8 outro in full blossom. 1st ’73 WHARF RAT, rare mangled lyrics, nice jam.

3/22/73 utica: lesh & garcia charmingly bait the fire marshal. jerry, giggling: “yeah, try to keep your fires in the fire aisle.” big CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER > I KNOW YOU RIDER. terrific OTHER ONE with cartoonish stomp intro, busted gearwork, lyrical jerry/phil duet, return of the flexatone. plum excellent archetypal ’73, gorgeous soundboard, with band in absolutely zero rush. solid 106m of jam songs/suites.

3/24/73 philadelphia: A+ 30m TRUCKIN’ that gets lost en route to DARK STAR. breathless uptempo dazzle & 1st SPANISH JAM since 2/70. 4m DARK STAR proper is shortest ever & melts into SING ME BACK HOME, which i thought was retired. happy to be wrong.

3/26/73 baltimore: wolfman jack introduces the band before the 2nd set, which appropriately opens with the WJ-referencing RAMBLE ON ROSE. a poised post-TRUCKIN’ unwind into a warm WEATHER REPORT SUITE PRELUDE that picks up steam, sparkles almost reluctantly, & dissipates into WHARF RAT. then, another long jam (EYES OF THE WORLD) into the set’s 3rd jerry ballad (MORNING DEW) to go with ’73′s 1st CANDYMAN. nearly 4 hours of music.
3/28

3/28/73 springfield, MA: phil plugs upcoming “interstate smoke-in” on the steps of hartford capitol building on 4/19. “bring your own.” STELLA BLUE bridge lyric finally changes from “can’t keep from cryin’” to “gonna make ‘em shine.” 63m WEATHER REPORT SUITE PRELUDE > DARK STAR > EYES OF THE WORLD > PLAYING IN THE BAND dream sequence also contains anxious & unfocused night terrors.

3/30/73 rochester: crackling CUMBERLAND BLUES. i want to know why somebody (weir?) clearly says “BEEP!” at the 1:10 mark of I KNOW YOU RIDER. amicable drop from EYES OF THE WORLD into NOT FADE AWAY, a ’73 rarity, but it feels out of place in the post-EYES gloaming.

3/31/73 buffalo: predictable apeshitness at the right moment in the 1st buffalo TRUCKIN’. PROMISED LAND/BERTHA/GREATEST STORY choppy as ever. THE OTHER ONE contains a breakneck SPANISH JAM & a post-meltdown FEELIN’ GROOVY into the only CHINA CAT-less I KNOW YOU RIDER between ’70 & ’85.

4/2/73 boston garden: fried ‘n’ frayed tour closer. atrocious vocals. band sounds off, too. still, typically devastating PLAYING IN THE BAND. the only fully jammed HERE COMES SUNSHINE: rich post-outro weaving loses thread quickly & reverts to insect-space & then ME & BOBBY McGEE. last WEATHER REPORT SUITE-less PRELUDE to tired EYES. SUGAR MAGNOLIA freakout nearing peak weir. BID YOU GOODNIGHT now features donna. no thx.

5/13/73 des moines: 3-set/4-hour (plus breaks) lazy marathon. 1st jam (besides CHINA > RIDER) doesn’t come ’til end of set 2. perhaps due to tape degeneration, the 28m PLAYING IN THE BAND is a pleasant unceasing rain that never quite breaks into a storm. beautiful stasis. pre & post-verse, the band glides adroitly out of THE OTHER ONE triplets into consonant & constantly renewing churn.

5/20/73 santa barbara: the spring of 3-set stadium gigs continues. garcia’s voice is thrashed. sounds kind of cool, albeit painful. jerry’s renewed interest in banjo via old & in the way is obvious in crystalline, articulated runs in BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE. the nuanced, piston-like PLAYING IN THE BAND jam & spare post-verse OTHER ONE ruminating are both hard to imagine in front of 17K people.

5/26/73 kezar stadium: 1st show in the haight since 3/68. A+ bettyboard with gorgeous stereo separation & a high circulation staple. still a good starter tape. everything glows with spring sunshine. FEELIN’ GROOVY JAM now firmly built into CHINA > RIDER. final run of the very ’73 HE’S GONE/TRUCKIN’/OTHER ONE/EYES OF THE WORLD/CHINA DOLL sequence with deep quiet & a thrilling EYES peak.

6/9/73 RFK stadium: gang harmonies impressive on LOOSE LUCY, even donna, voices blending indistinguishably. BIG RIVER = primo boogie. garcia cycles through MORNING DEW & HERE COMES SUNSHINE licks during a discombobulated post-TRUCKIN’ dissolve. eventually, a nice count-off segue into PLAYING IN THE BAND. after 2 sets & 3.5 hours (following 2 openers), jerry announces that the dead are done & it’s time for the allmans.

6/10/73 RFK stadium: a stone summer classic with endless highlights. effortless 1st set glides to a weaving BIRD SONG & cymbaly PLAYING IN THE BAND. set 2 opens with EYES OF THE WORLD > STELLA BLUE (featuring an accidental(?) new melody) & rarely lets up, though AROUND & AROUND is weir at his dinkiest. a satisfying 26m DARK STAR filled with high-speed pre-verse maneuvers & a thorough bass meltdown into a WHARF RAT where kreutzmann lays out entirely during the bridge, wonderfully quiet music in a big, big stadium. a 3rd set superjam with dickey betts, butch trucks, & allegedly merl saunders, totally inaudible. mega hippie bullshit, but also great. lurvely GD debut of TRAIN TO CRY & then moldies: 1 elvis, 1 buddy holly, 2 chuck berry. likely the only decent grateful dead version of JOHNNY B. GOODE cuz the betts/garcia & kreutzmann/trucks combos are totally sweet. a delightful melding of the dead & allmans vibes.

6/22/73 vancouver: opener of 1st proper tour since march. 4 hours with a solid half devoted to jam songs & suites. my kinda dead. keith’s rhodes back in action with chiming, unexpected peaks in BIRD SONG finale. 1st tour with both rhodes & grand piano? 1st BLACK PETER since 10/72. l’il shaky with nobody’s strongest vocals, but band’s instinctual dynamics shine. lots of nice space. (sidenote: weir’s standard HE’S GONE > TRUCKIN’ transition is one of the few places where a count-off & segue mark can co-exist.) 5m semi-farty bass solo & near-ambient drumless jam as prelude to THE OTHER ONE with shattering arthropodal zap sesh.

6/24/73 portland: phil, maybe half-snickering post-THEY LOVE EACH OTHER: “and now we’re going to put you folks into a MELLOW mood.” cue LOOKS LIKE RAIN. miasmic DARK STAR ’til phil hits on bass theme. quickly, jerry counterpoints, sketching pre-verse cloud-shapes with weir.

6/26/73 seattle: until this project, i’d thought of ROW JIMMY as the lethargic, poor brah’s version of the SUGAREE slow roll. but, man, there are just endless worlds within that perfect, ‘luded-out stillness. often pretty good harmonies, too.

6/29/73 universal amphitheater: noncommittal OTHER ONE, garcia oddly uninspired ’til short, radiant detonation into MORNING DEW.

6/30/73 universal amphitheater: after a small onstage electrical fire, garcia: “don’t panic, folks, this is the movies, remember?” shitty vocals everywhere. buttery combo of keith’s rhodes & garcia’s attackless wah tone on BIRD SONG & PLAYING IN THE BAND. wish keith used the rhodes more. lots of piano in ultra-patient (but by no means mellow) EYES OF THE WORLD end jam with sudden, decisive drop into STELLA BLUE.

7/1/73 universal amphitheater: warm front-of-board audience tape that trades ugly whooping & off-time clapping on quiet songs for totally fat ’60s garcia guitar tone on a way-out OTHER ONE that almost veers into EYES end jam. A+ zonked melt into WHARF RAT & effortless crossfade into BOBBY McGEE. best early ’70s audience tape i’ve heard, but gentlemen still prefer boards.

7/27/73 watkins glen: 2-set 90m “soundcheck” in front of 250K people. lesh: “this whole thing is a fraud, we’re really clever androids.” 16m BIRD SONG (longest ever?) with semi-free breakdown & one of the few non-obnoxious pinched harmonics solos in musical history. casual & legendary 20m DARK STARish standalone improv with multiple themes, including a proto-FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN jam.

7/28/73 watkins glen: the dead had a rep for botching big shows. at 600,000, WG was the biggest ever. not the greatest, but way solid. last BOX OF RAIN ’til ’86. i’d finally learned to love the barked harmonies. especially going to miss garcia’s faux-steel filigrees. 24m PLAYING IN THE BAND with fantastic freak flights by jerry & gang-of-one drumming by kreutzmann, dropping onto martian plateau near end. unidentified organ player on AROUND & AROUND. a bit bouncy, more garth hudson than gregg allman. either way, why only on one song?! lots of jams in 2nd set, but no long space-outs, defined by 2 decent weir half-segues: TRUCKIN’ > EL PASO, EYES OF THE WORLD > SUGAR MAGNOLIA. recording (especially the guitars) gets sadly muddy for the set with the allmans. super-blissed 24m MOUNTAIN JAM & WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN coda.

7/31/73 jersey city: back at roosevelt stadium. surviving tape by @RelixMag co-founder jerry moore. recording is great. killer snare. another extraordinary PLAYING IN THE BAND, 1st jam is unusually rhodes-driven. kreutzmann in full free-dance mode. plus, he got a glockenspiel? 2nd set is boogie all the way down, minus 2m of smooth TRUCKIN’ fusion & when BLACK PETER achieves a nice, sad soar.

8/1/73 jersey city: jerry’s 31st birthday. perfect 24m DARK STAR. sparkling lunar rain as prelude to spacedust curlicues & thumb piano. the rest of jam is great. even EL PASO cooks. huge MORNING DEW with garcia soloing in joyous, apocalyptic paragraphs.

9/7/73 nassau coliseum: A+ tour opener. 6 righteous jams, weir mixed warmly enough to justify his “mccoy tyner’s left hand” claims. guy yells incessantly for ME & MY UNCLE(!?). finally, irritated dude replies “YOU & YOUR SISTER!”, predating chris bell by 5 years. rare show with keith on occasional B3, only audible on audience tape. (thru stage amp only?) well used on LOSER, TRUCKIN’ & thrilling 1st LET IT GROW, minus preludes, giddy with high-speed aero-flips as band explores new spaces, landing at STELLA BLUE.

9/8/73 nassau coliseum: debut of full WEATHER REPORT SUITE with perfect autumnal PRELUDE & surprise EYES OF THE WORLD > CHINA DOLL to close 1st set. 1st LET ME SING YOUR BLUES AWAY, sole keith-sung dead tune. Europe ’72 bounce can’t redeem hunter’s litest lyrics & keith’s non-voice. neato co-lead guitar by weir on spiraling TRUCKIN’. more ghosts of cool organ parts via keith’s undermixed B3.

9/11/73 william & mary: dang, @mountain_goats, you’re right, this IS an exquisite LOOKS LIKE RAIN. intricate quiet garcia detailing.  never thought i’d say this, but starting to dig these spare, 1-drummer versions. still can’t take the street cats & the freak out. horns join for 2 songs & it’s suck city, getting extra ham-handed/honky/unnecessary atop the lattice-like LET IT GROW jam. 1st fall DARK STAR. busy & melodious without really going anywhere. more weir leads & lovely spider skitters.

9/12/73 william & mary: allegedly, the band had such a good time the previous night that they came back & played for free. the BIRD SONG middle improv opens into a soaring cathedral space, keith’s electric piano undermixed but twinkling like a celeste. big energy fun, especially the high-velocity garcia/lesh weaves during LET IT GROW & a proto-SLIPKNOT EYES jam.

9/15/73 providence: another glorious BIRD SONG with typical quizzical garcia lyricism & atypical assertive electric piano. last BIRD SONG ’til the ’80s. why?!? ugh. satisfying 2nd set with 2 30m suites. horns stay for all of it & sound far more integrated, albeit a big sunshiny mess on TRUCKIN’. WEATHER REPORT SUITE PRELUDE gets tasty LOL-flute. LET IT GROW gets squonk ululations & a nice solo garcia bridge into STELLA BLUE.

9/17/73 syracuse: with horns more or less in line, a confident & peppy 55m TRUCKIN’ > EYES OF THE WORLD > WEATHER REPORT SUITE > STELLA BLUE. keith’s B3 seems to be gone, but is it possible the he’s playing an ondes martenot on WEATHER REPORT SUITE PRELUDE & LOOKS LIKE RAIN?!

9/20/73 philadelphia: 1st flat show of tour. ondes martenot is gone already. strident EYES OF THE WORLD outro. schmaltzy SUGAR MAGNOLIA with horns.

9/21/73 philadelphia: 1st OTHER ONE since 7/1 unspools from wind-up toy spins into 1st MIND LEFT BODY in a year. same venue, too. final LET ME SING YOUR BLUES AWAY, abandoned after 6 performances. cool with me.

9/24/73 pittsburgh: an off night at the civic arena. band crashes GREATEST STORY three times (with a LOONEY TUNES interlude) before starting. garcia sings 1st NOBODY’S FAULT BUT MINE since ’66 after teasing it in post-TRUCKIN’ blooze noodles for months. bleh.

9/26/73 buffalo: last of 8 gigs with horns (phew), final SING ME BACK HOME (laaame), dense jazz freefloats in LET IT GROW (!)

10/19/73 oklahoma city: DARK STAR is notably slower than summer versions. the band almost doesn’t know what to do with all the space & out comes the most developed & dramatic MIND LEFT BODY JAM yet, escher-like chromatic knots, simultaneously descending & ascending. thoroughly satisfying EYES OF THE WORLD > STELLA BLUE encore that weir feels compelled to play JOHNNY B. GOODE after.

10/21/73 omaha: weir announces the A’s world series victory over the mets (“another baseball year endeth”) & garcia responds w/ LOSER. 1st BLACK THROATED WIND since 2/9. PLAYING IN THE BAND > MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP > BIG RIVER > PLAYING IN THE BAND with planned-sounding hard-splice segues. high-speed DMT drop into deep space PLAYING reprise. low-key HE’S GONE, garcia’s solo finding a sad sweet place, to kick off an hour of unflashy & effective song-suiting.

10/23/73 bloomington, MN: keith plays venue’s wurlitzer, including soundcheck noodling on 1st WANG DANG DOODLE, jerry singing off-mic. a short & not particularly compelling show. keith adds some nice wurlitzer on a lazy TRUCKIN’ & oddly upfront piano on LET IT GROW. CASEY JONES aborted due to fight. kreutzmann allegedly tackles security guard while phil freaks (“ALRIGHT ASSHOLE!!”)

10/25/73 madison: warm, light-drenched HERE COMES SUNSHINE. weir keeps tinkering with lyrics of already-recorded BLACK THROATED WIND. sleepy gossamer dialogues in 23m DARK STAR, articulated MIND LEFT BODY, ondes martenot blurps, an hour of otherness.

10/27/73 indianpolis: efficient PLAYING IN THE BAND > MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP > BIG RIVER > PLAYING IN THE BAND. less thrilling than previous take, but great 1st segue.

10/29/73 st. louis: 1st COLD RAIN & SNOW since 2/28, 2nd of only 3 ’73 versions. super-pro next-beat build from BERTHA into GREATEST STORY. TRUCKIN’ downshifts into low flying jazz; OTHER ONE stumbles & ambles to similar happy place of quiet chord tracings. weir finally articulates the alternate BLACK THROATED WIND lyric: “but i can’t deny the time that’s gone by / full of babies and bottles and mountains of debt.”

10/30/73 st. louis: DARK STAR jam animated by weir’s chatty staccato patterns & an almost standalone MIND LEFT BODY before the verse. despite a gripping EYES OF THE WORLD, band is archetypally mellow, lulling & lolling. a fine line between warm comfort & sleep.

11/1/73 evanston: superb drip from rare MORNING DEW 2nd set opener into torrential 1st PLAYING IN THE BAND > UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > PLAYING IN THE BAND.

11/9/73 winterland: 1st TO LAY ME DOWN since 9/70. off-key, plodding, new donna vocal part. still, hushed C&W swing is breathtaking. no big jam, but locked-in idea-filled LET IT GROW outro is A+ prelude to EYES OF THE WORLD’s microscopic rhythmic conversations.

11/10/73 winterland: PLAYING IN THE BAND > UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > MORNING DEW > UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > PLAYING IN THE BAND is more party trick than improv but the sleight of hand is riveting. excellence carries through standalone STELLA BLUE & properly choogled TRUCKIN’. WHARF RAT is kind of a struggle, though.

11/11/73 winterland: DARK STAR does its thing ’til post-verse space-out when kreutzmann drops into a beat & shit gets really real. major key drama, ricochet crosstalk, dissolution, & double-time MIND LEFT BODY as an almost-perfect bridge into EYES OF THE WORLD.

11/14/73 san diego: one of the all-time great 2nd sets. TRUCKIN’ > THE OTHER ONE > BIG RIVER > THE OTHER ONE > EYES OF THE WORLD > THE OTHER ONE > WHARF RAT. wonderful drumless zone in 1st OTHER ONE. EYES omits 7/8 break for last OTHER ONE verse & a jammy, dreamy WHARF RAT.

11/17/73 UCLA: nearly flawless PLAYING IN THE BAND >UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > MORNING DEW > UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > PLAYING IN THE BAND. swarming jams, lush valleys, masterful segues. a packed 14m EYES OF THE WORLD. everyone totally together for precise, successive explosions in 7/8 outro. no exit strategy, though.

11/20/73 denver: surprise turn from MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP into 1st DIRE WOLF since 10/72. smooth segue, sluggish song. much of set feels likewise. airy circular jams as OTHER ONE winds into MIND LEFT BODY. again, a near-perfect bridge, this time to STELLA BLUE.

11/21/73 denver: even on the audience tape, no reaction to “i’m as honest as a denver man can be” in ME & MY UNCLE opener. another sweet half-melt out of HALF-STEP, this time into a mammoth PLAYING IN THE BAND > EL PASO > PLAYING IN THE BAND > WHARF RAT > PLAYING IN THE BAND > MORNING DEW. EL PASO flowers briefly into DARK STAR before WHARF RAT (with a drumless bridge!) after which garcia & lesh hit peak fuzz.

11/23/73 el paso: only ever el paso gig and, unlike denver, the crowd DOES freak when weir sings the city’s name. a few nice OTHER ONE drifts but distant drum mix makes the whole show disconcertingly placid, even by dead standards.

11/25/73 tempe: brilliant 17m PLAYING IN THE BAND, a mirrored infinity room of free snare dances & cascading guitar diamonds. 1st credible BID YOU GOODNIGHT since its february revival thanks to restrained (& even tasteful) donna jean vocal.

11/28/73 palace of fine arts: debut of seastones, ned lagin’s group with garcia, lesh, hart, & croz playing modular improv structures. dream wails, processed voices, quadrophonic balaphones. an avant-dead necessity. A+ recording: http://bit.ly/1brMQUt

11/30/73 boston music hall: rare 3-show theater run. band apparently doesn’t know of the 1st show & arrives/starts extremely late. donna jean gone on maternity leave through year’s end, huzzah! the band’s harmonies are appropriately winterly, austere, & pleasing. LET IT GROW glitters divinely into a short shape-shifting DARK STAR jam & a happy, lumpy post-thanksgiving EYES OF THE WORLD.

12/1/73 boston: magical BROKEDOWN PALACE, in part because of bedraggled harmonies, in part because of extra-warm soundboard mix. nightmarish extended segments of mojoless crowd control failure. weir promises they’ll relearn ST. STEPHEN. phil angrily cuts him off. “besides, the cops are from heaven! they’re from heaven!” chirps jerry, sounding like he might actually be having a bad trip. 34m PLAYING IN THE BAND > UNCLE JOHN’S BAND > PLAYING IN THE BAND with a curling UJB intro, & a stark donna-less ROW JIMMY in the jerry ballad slot.

12/2/73 boston: more testy banter, though band’s mojo has returned. phil gets pissed at audience member: “what are you, the heat??” 2nd set is a mofo, solid 80m of attempted suite-linkage, starting with 1st & only WHARF RAT opener. iffy singing, but heaviness awaits. 1st unfinished PLAYING trails to guitar laughter & piercing biofeedback. weir arpeggiates listlessly & eventually cues MIND LEFT BODY. new spaces everywhere. cool rhythmic MIND LEFT BODY outro permutations, messy BIRD SONG-like flutters in HE’S GONE.

12/4/73 cincinnati: late start (by 5 hours?), short show (47m 2nd set), even more surly phil (“where the fuck did you say we were?”) tremendous 24m EYES OF THE WORLD with deep phil/jerry noise canyon ’til billy drops a beat & band builds to a chaotic swing-stomp.

12/6/73 cleveland: approaching peak donnalessness on ROW JIMMY. longest ever HERE COMES SUNSHINE dances with VIOLA LEE-like ecstasy. an all-time DARK STAR. one of the longest (43m) & oddest, beginning with a slow coalescence from tuning into theme. extremely uncharacteristic assertive, uptempo electric keys by keith, in full conversation with garcia, melting into fuzz-bass nebulae. more top-speed ultra-melodic inventions & a perfect EYES OF THE WORLD > STELLA BLUE comedown with one final bass feedback punchline.

12/8/73 durham: nice spidery piano during BLACK THROATED WIND bridge. lovely lulling weave-waves in HE’S GONE outro jam. in & out of focus 28m OTHER ONE ending with more visceral post-seastones biofeedback, weir noodles, & 2 jerry ballads.

12/10/73 charlotte: 1st PEGGY-O! quite brisk, almost in the mold of DIRE WOLF. someone sets off fireworks between verses. incredible EYES OF THE WORLD with hyper tonal, almost smooth, over-the-top bass leads, total full-band precision, & ace BROKEDOWN PALACE coda. for 2nd show running, garcia upends song alternation with weir. 1st split-up SUGAR MAGNOLIA  with GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELIN’ BAD in middle. with donna jean still on pregnancy leave, weir’s SUNSHINE DAYDREAM freakouts have gone next level.

12/12/73 atlanta: another jaunty PEGGY-O. frictionless gearshift segue from MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP into ME & BOBBY McGEE. not much flow to the 2nd set, but a long MORNING DEW gets down to a stretch of delicate quiet & sparse piano colors.

12/18/73 miami: great mix, excellent playing throughout. fabulous, extra-crackling LET IT GROW as prelude to final ’73 DARK STAR. labyrinthine 1st jam teases & builds to post-verse bass-zap brain-blastage. “we’ve got a blown speaker!” jerry shouts off-mic. in my college house, whenever we wanted/needed unstoppable laughter, we’d play the last 1m of this SUNSHINE DAYDREAM.

12/19/73 miami: “dick’s picks, v. 1″! funny to hear complete version finally. weir sneezes during 1st line of PROMISED LAND opener. always wondered why MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP faded out. it’s another lovely melt segue into ME & BOBBY McGEE, turns out. 2nd & final time that happened. penultimate HERE COMES SUNSHINE & one of the best, 14m of curling lightbeam solos. PLAYING IN THE BAND somersaults into the spectral wah-wah void. 5m bass solo is excised from this version, too. on the audience tape, it’s fully ridiculous, but also has a neat melodic shape. (audience tape also has a great pre-show warning by the band about security. garcia: “remember your hippie training, folks: be cool!”) last 5m of OTHER ONE is the band’s most sustained fszszszzt-out so far, dripping with absolute grace into STELLA BLUE.

…and so concludes the grateful dead’s 1973 & the #deadfreaksunite broadcast year. see you at winterland in february.

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

#deadfreaksunite 1972


#deadfreaksunite 1972
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 anniversary and edited here for readability and occasional revision/correction and minor expansion. All shows streamable via archive.org.

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

Highlight mp3s included for unreleased shows only. I recommend DownThemAll plug-in to grab all mp3s on a given page.

3/21/72 academy: still no donna jean. 1st LOOKS LIKE RAIN, garcia on pedal steel, cool phil harmony. not yet my 1st skippable GD tune. 1st THE STRANGER (TWO SOULS IN COMMUNION), final (best?) original by still very active pigpen. nice split between pig/garcia/weir at all these 3.5 hr shows. 1st jammed PLAYING IN THE BAND (finally!), dripping psych/fusion middle section tripling to 3m. hello, 1972!

3/22/72 academy: 1st CAUTION since 3/71. highwire digressions & intricate outro jam. nearly smooth actual segue into UNCLE JOHN’S BAND

3/23/72 academy: great standalone 23m DARK STAR, exquisite/quiet garcia pre-verse, jagged space into MIND LEFT BODY JAM.

3/25/72 academy: private party for hell’s angels booked as jerry garcia & friends, 1st set backing bo diddley on 9 songs, later dick’s picks, v. 30. the diddley set is sleepy at times, especially on the unedited audience version, but nicely popping on tunes with the bo diddley beat (HEY BO DIDDLEY, MONA). topic for next #PopCon: bo diddley leading angels’ mamas in sing-along on TAKE IT ALL OFF on especially anthropological audience tape. then: the 2nd appearance of donna jean. only GD versions of HOW SWEET IT IS & garcia-sung ARE YOU LONELY FOR ME (freddie scott, A+ except for ugly chorus).

3/26/72 academy: sublime PLAYING cuts off as band goes drumless/free. still no donna jean wail. [my full essay about this show is available as liner notes for dave's picks, v. 14.]

3/27/72 academy: 1st donna jean wail in PLAYING. crowd eats it up. all love to her muscle shoals bona fides, but #headdesk.

3/28/72 academy: last of 7 great gigs at the academy. donna now screaming on GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD FEELIN’ BAD, too. the garcia/weir/lesh harmonies on BROKEDOWN PALACE are just sloppy enough without her. another 3+ hour show, almost half new songs since ’70. band relaxed & at ease. europe here we come.

4/7/72 wembley: the bolos & bozos have landed. band (& official mix) sound incredible, rich Band-like piano/organ combo. even bobby/jerry/pig alternation in 1st set, unbroken hour-long sequence in 2nd. scattered OTHER ONE into stately WHARF RAT. europe ’72 mood so fleeting & special. mega-improv, ecstatic & clean 1-drummer arrangements. i’m ready.

4/8/72 wembley: band does a phish-like vamp under weir’s YELLOW DOG JOKE. CUMBERLAND BLUES maintains tendrils of speedfreak ’66 garcia in solos. DARK STAR is among best ever. BK anchors freeness, B3 bursts, & brilliant melodic crests. rare fluid segue into SUGAR MAGNOLIA. equally fluid steamroll into crackling R&B/psych CAUTION. ’72 might be pig’s best year, too. the band destroys it every time he steps up.

4/11/72 newcastle: garcia & weir clearly taking turn calling the opener this tour. band slightly more sluggish than london. GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD now with bouncy summer wah-wah from garcia & 1st non-ridiculous donna jean vocal part. rambling but wonderful 50m TRUCKIN’ > OTHER ONE, with fully developed FEELIN’ GROOVY jam dissolving into dark garcia/lesh duo jam. and finally a near-perfect live BROKEDOWN PALACE, pig on organ, nice keith part, harmonies in ragged-but-right place.

4/14/72 copenhagen: last onstage pedal steel by garcia ’til ’87 & thus final LOOKS LIKE RAIN i’ll (likely) ever care about. bummer. drifty 29m DARK STAR. drumless pre-verse zones, hyperspeed FEELIN’ GROOVY jam, one of 1st ugly/abrupt weir “segues” into SUGAR MAGNOLIA. big GOOD LOVIN’ (with CAUTION & only post-’66 WHO DO YOU LOVE inside) gets narrative, sharp pig/garcia call/response.

4/16/72 aarhus: no donna scream on PLAYING. is this the show where she was having a bad trip under the piano & couldn’t sing? TRUCKIN’ tumbles into solid 20m of OTHER ONE jamming. 1st phil/jerry duo develops into magical full band tangent, dissolves instantly. band veers into ME & MY UNCLE, 1st (& only) verse of OTHER ONE, and nifty 15s BK turnaround into NOT FADE AWAY. bonus: far-out electronics from aarhus university, roughly contemporary to dead’s visit. high-larious doors quote on track 3. http://mutant-sounds.blogspot.com/2010/10/svend-christiansenfuzzy-electronic.html

4/17/72 copenhagen: 1st HE’S GONE, lazy river vibe/tempo intact, minus “wind don’t blow so strange” bridge & endless chorus outro. another hour-long DARK STAR > SUGAR MAGNOLIA > CAUTION. very deliberate playing throughout, especially modal free jams in DARK STAR. HQ video of whole 4/17 show (not in GD’s new DVD box?!), featuring clown masks on BIG RAILROAD BLUES. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EY-_sEgO_Y

4/21/72 bremen: hour-long TV taping. garcia genially stops SUGAREE: “somebody played the wrong changes in there.” (pig, i think?) more false starts, 2 takes of PLAYING. 6m post-OTHER ONE jam arcs nicely from space to structure, dissolves.

4/24/72 dusseldorf: nicely odd GOOD LOVIN’, drumless & dissonant mid jam. pig quotes james carr’s “pouring water on a drowning man.” 40m DARK STAR (ME & MY UNCLE in middle) shatters/coalesces half-dozen times in 1st half, brilliantly motionless 2nd half until liquid major key jam & garcia slashes into WHARF RAT instead of the 2nd verse of DARK STAR. 3 set show, doofiness to spare.

4/26/72 frankfurt: easily best show of tour so far. high energy, great playing, inventive segues, face-melted banter, bust-outs. 1st 10m & last 10m of 36m OTHER ONE are flawless, song’s internal triplets combusting under oblique improv. middle 16m bitchin’, too. 1st TWO SOULS IN COMMUNION of europe, pigpen’s final original. less developed, but the soul heartbreak is nearly as epic as WHARF RAT. 1st LOVELIGHT of tour, too, darting & way-up psych-funk, a short NOT FADE AWAY jam, a bunch of odd gorgeous changes (go weir!?) into GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD, whose use of the BID YOU GOODNIGHT bridge to drop into SATURDAY NIGHT makes latter bearable. bonus: robert hunter’s great liner notes to “hundred year hall,” the edited CD release of this show. http://www.gdreferencesite.com/hundred.html

4/29/72 hamburg: 1st “wind don’t blow so strange” bridge in HE’S GONE. alternate phrasing, particularly undramatic “smile, smile, smile.” another night, another 30m DARK STAR. high-octane garcia free-fall throughout + FEELIN’ GROOVY jam.

5/3/72 paris: 1st SING ME BACK HOME since 11/71 & pleasantly the first effective & cool donna/garcia pairing. TRUCKIN’ unspools into boldly out-there OTHER ONE. elegant miniatures & actual lesh solo. he gets the hang of it halfway thru. never previously realized how codified TRUCKIN’/OTHER ONE & DARK STAR/SUGAR MAGNOLIA/CAUTION were as every-other-show jam-suites on this tour. CSN-grade garcia/lesh/weir harmonies on JACK STRAW. garcia sings alternating bridge lyrics for 1st time. hell yes. [ed. note: turned out to be the europe '72 version of JACK STRAW with overdubbed vocals.]

5/4/72 paris: 1st DARK STAR jam is unusually uptempo, developed, & consonant. full-band dynamic shifts & rhythmic through-lines. whole 40m version is an A+ choice for a record store day LP, minus the record store day part. finally heard. sounds so insanely good. mythbusters: donna’s alleged bad trip under the piano doesn’t seem to have incapacitated her at either paris show.

5/7/72 bickershaw festival: UK mudbath. fireworks audibly whoosh by onstage mics. weir: “we’ll want to aim those a little higher.” uncharacteristically sparkling festival performance, closing 3 day event (also featuring the kinks & late-night beefheart) with their usual 2 sets/4 hours. only ’72 gig with both DARK STAR & OTHER ONE. latter has much eventless free noise without 26th b-day boy BK. killer reprise jam. back to weir-only JACK STRAW, for some reason. in the crowd, 17-yr old elvis costello decides to start his own band.

5/10/72 amsterdam: was the weed THAT good? garcia uncharacteristically zonked. hoarse vox & rare lyric/guitar part slips throughout. 35m OTHER ONE is decent but uninspired, formulaic roll from space into structure. big TWO SOULS, but no pig showstopper. aha. McNally, p. 433: “the Concertgebouw was a jewel of a theater [&] the cocaine was far too good.”

5/11/72 rotterdam: garcia back on JACK STRAW duty. first MORNING DEW since 8/71. tentative at first, great 4m coda jam. 48m DARK STAR, longest ever. lazy/floating in all the right ways, garcia/lesh themes pass like ripples. 3rd in a row w/ short DRUMZ. logical DARK STAR wind down and clean stop pre-SUGAR MAGNOLIA. final version of CAUTION (fare thee well) with WHO DO YOU LOVE inside. uneventful late-set TRUCKIN’. bonus: beach boys thru rotterdam 2 nights later en route to record holland LP. bootleg sadly nuked in megaupload purge: http://eatapoop.blogspot.com/2010/06/43-1972-work-in-progress.html

5/13/72 lille: free outdoor gig makes up for 5/5 cancellation/riot. “sounds like homemade shit” sez weir re: monitors. fugs reference? another show without a big pigpen song. cool minimalist organ by pig during 1st drumless OTHER ONE segment. going to miss his exchanges with garcia between lines of the verses.

5/16/72 luxembourg: soundcheck includes 1st BIG RIVER since NYE ’71 debut. garcia sings! misses some verses, but a nice alternate reality. wish i knew enough about luxembourgian politics to dissect the appearance of radio luxembourg’s kid jensen. earnest vibrations. 1st PROMISED LAND since 8/71 & 1st of the keith era. again, no pig showstopper. rare for a radio broadcast. 20m OTHER ONE feels short. 10m SING ME BACK HOME feels just totally correct.

5/18/72 munich: house lights off, garcia tokes spliff, sets on amp, hitler-mustached fire marshal with brass helmet dumps water on amp. power outage, mini riot, roadies beat up fire marshal. (cutler, 309.) not on tape. rare SITTING ON TOP OF THE WORLD, 1st of tour. 1st & seemingly unplanned DARK STAR > MORNING DEW. lovely/dense volume-swelled atonality en route, mostly successful.

5/23/72 lyceum: back to london for tour closers. 1st ROCKIN’ PNEUMONIA & THE BOOGIE WOOGIE FLY (why?) & HEY BO DIDDLEY (inside the NOT FADE AWAY sequence), both sung by JG. garcia plays B3 the under GOOD LOVIN verses, as he did several times throughout tour. nothing crazy. quick switch back to guitar. another DARK STAR > MORNING DEW. decent movement post-DRUMZ (from pig, too), but the dissonant segue feels forced & the song is shaky.

5/24/72 lyceum: A+ post-verse OTHER ONE jam coalesces over 16m from oort cloud zaps to quizzical bop mediations & deep fuzz bliss. heavy: final TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT. brief 12m, mucho tasty licks. pigpen obviously struggling. pulls it together by end of TWO SOULS IN COMMUNION, also the final version. no, you must be mistaken. bob weir most certainly did NOT revive TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT in the ’80s. i said good day.

5/25/72 lyceum: final BIG BOSS MAN & GOOD LOVIN’ (see: weir/LOVELIGHT), more garcia on organ, no pigpen rap at all, crackling jam. odd inverted 2nd set. UNCLE JOHN’S with odder tentative post-outro jam, legit segue into unusually phrased WHARF RAT, on into 35m DARK STAR. starts quiet, bands snaps into post-verse FEELIN’ GROOVY jam, skittering wah & saturated bass chord disintegration. final SITTIN’ ON TOP OF THE WORLD & the last of pigpen’s ’66-style bouncy garage B3. g’bye.

5/26/72 lyceum: pigpen’s last proper show. fare thee well to MR. CHARLIE, NEXT TIME YOU SEE ME, TWO SOULS, CHINATOWN SHUFFLE. PLAYING IN THE BAND jam finally tops 10m, garcia meltdown heaven. garcia & phil’s voices particularly ragged, especially noticeable on JACK STRAW. for the 1st time, the audience claps the NOT FADE AWAY beat & the band responds with the song song, the bo diddley beat perma-tied to band, heads, & drum circles everywhere. messy OTHER ONE. rare clammed opening, double back via DRUMZ, try again. jam into MORNING DEW sounds schizo in context, but brilliant when excerpted into europe ’72. garcia’s DEW vocals are truly atrocious, saved by overdubs.

6/17/72 hollywood bowl: after delicious europe multi-tracks, a rude welcome back to US soil with totally debauched audience recording. pigpen’s final show. i’ve always been puzzled by stories of him only playing on 1 song. turns out that’s not quite true, but he’s barely audible on shitty tape. 1st STELLA BLUE. ghostly, slow, & graceful from the start, garcia deeply inside vocal. almost literally haunting B3 part, pig’s last. tape-warp sounds bitchin’ on the PLAYING meltdown, though also the most brutal donna scream yet. g’bye pigpen.

7/16/72 hartford: east coast summer stadium gigs. band notably less lush without pig’s B3. the 2nd STELLA BLUE is heavy, awkward in 1st set. 1st MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP (!), sly & strident. 1st sing-along outro to HE’S GONE (yuuugh) inside OTHER ONE, whose ending gets blurrier. 1st steel-less LOOKS LIKE RAIN, also without phil vox. blech. okay NOT FADE AWAY/HEY BO DIDDLEY powerjam with dickey betts & berry oakley.

7/18/72 jersey city: i can see why a non-deadhead WFMU DJ hated this 3-set stadium gig, especially if the heat was anything like today. band sounds seriously mangled early on, garcia & weir blowing lyrics, lots of gear breakdowns, shaky dynamics, odd pacing. still, sweet PLAYING & great DARK STAR with a killer 2nd jam that never spaces out & a post-verse dissolve into a soulful COMES A TIME. 1st BIRD SONG since 8/71, confident new arrangement with spidery keith piano part, snare-flutter false ending, & curling, lyrical garcia solos.

7/21/72 seattle: band tries early version of WEATHER REPORT SUITE PRELUDE. atrocious & abandoned. by-the-numbers OTHER ONE.

7/22/72 seattle: bear is out of jail apparently. lots of zonked banter & zonked playing. warped high-octane PLAYING IN THE BAND jam. very unflattering soundboard. archetypal donna awfulness on HALF-STEP outro underscores garcia’s breathtaking STELLA BLUE soul belts. dashing BIRD SONG. last(?!) YELLOW DOG JOKE, with doofy HARPUA-like accompaniment.

7/25/72 portland: brilliant 27m OTHER ONE that never loses its homey, unrushed swing. even during the space-out, garcia stays melodic. semi-rare jerry slide jam, A+ improvised changes. phil’s short semi-wanky deconstructive bass solo stays groovy, too.

7/26/72 portland: woolly 30m DARK STAR, awesomely responsive free drumming during 2nd meltdown.

8/12/72 sacramento: big cheer as still-new STELLA BLUE starts. exquisite & correctly labeled by taper with double exclamation points. donna now sings on HE’S GONE verses, too. endless outro leads into jam segment for 1st time. the birth of arena dead?

8/20/72 san jose: 1st FRIEND OF THE DEVIL since 4/71, crisp & uptempo, but far more than 1/2 songs new to repertoire in past 1.5 yrs. gnarly OTHER ONE into the 1st STELLA BLUE in the post-jam slot, affixed neatly to still-useful CRYPTICAL appendix.

8/21/72 berkeley: 1st bay area gig since january. only one verse of DARK STAR, with keith oddly taking charge in pointillistic meltdown. jerry’s segue into MORNING DEW even more oddly overruled by lesh & weir’s atonal slashes. then, more keith & a sleepy EL PASO.

8/22/72 berkeley: downtempo & moody variations on OTHER ONE theme & series of great responsive mini-jams. not sold on the bass solo. final of 3 bo diddley-less HEY BO DIDDLEYs. garcia doesn’t try verses this time, but finds a sly take on the groove.

8/24/72 berkeley: 27m DARK STAR, 1 verse, now the norm. sparkling & dense resolution to meltdown dissolves into magical MORNING DEW.

8/25/72 berkeley: incomplete. slowburn BLACK PETER, only 3rd version of ’72. bass solo into OTHER ONE instead of drumz. uneventful.

8/27/72 veneta: 3 sets. magical start to end. given setting (oregon, field, merry pranksters) & playing, likely THE quintessential GD show. tape quality is warm & magical, slight delay on everything. garcia & lesh push CHINA > RIDER jam past usual bounds in 100 degree heat. pranksters almost accidentally invent ween’s shit-mister before they realize the fire truck is filled with sewage. PLAYING IN THE BAND now fully a 2nd set tune, exquisite wah-wah action. lithe & serene 12m BIRD SONG, perfect flutter on false ending. maybe the greatest DARK STAR. oddly static 1st jam & 15m of free-flight that shines with transfixing highness, even bass solo. & then (give or take EL PASO) a gargantuan SING ME BACK HOME. suggested reading: j. dwork’s essay in the deadhead taper’s compendium, v. 1; an anthropological-linguistic study of googly deadhead heaviness. required viewing: sunshine daydream movie. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UHpx72ifdE

9/3/72 boulder:3 set stadium show. the anti-8/27, no nuance. lots of shouted, aggro vocals & annoyed banter at song requests. with a nice alternate lyric in MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP (“pappy sat down & died”) & an extra-curlicued solo, they make the anti-subtlety work for them. cannot. handle. donna. 1st real HE’S GONE jam, neat 2m outro turnaround culminates in odd ’67ish whammy trills from garcia into OTHER ONE.9/9/72 hollywood: 1st show (i think) with keith on electric piano, zonked wah-wah distortion on 35m THE OTHER ONE. jerry/phil space-out evolves into dashing full-band improvised changes, all 5 darting/weaving at top conversational speed. band returns for 2nd encore & tune, but weir & garcia giggle that bassist has left with “cute little filly.” end show.

9/10/72 hollywood: david crosby holds his own during buoyant DARK STAR manicness, though no croz harmonies on SING ME BACK HOME.

9/15/72 boston: keith’s new electric piano is a subtle but major change in the band’s sound, especially on an abstruse 18m PLAYING.

9/16/72 boston: 1st BIG RIVER since new year’s (& 2nd ever) & 1st DON’T EASE ME IN since 11/70 (& only 2nd electric version since ’66). right decent segue from DARK STAR meltdown into MEXICALI BLUES, but band sidetracks into productive polka-boogie instead.

9/17/72 baltimore: hitting arenas for the 1st time outside the west & sounding a bit lost. stasis-ridden 38m OTHER ONE.

9/19/72 jersey city: 2nd gig at roosevelt stadium in 2 months. cruddy but tolerable audience recording captures crowd more than music. fireworks, clapalongs, requests for rolling papers. hell’s honkies taping crew clearly amped for new songs.

9/21/72 philadelphia: crystalline owsley soundboard, garcia in the left channel, weir in the right. 1st proper HE’S GONE > TRUCKIN’. mammoth post-verse unfolding in 37m DARK STAR. flurrying atonal TIGER jam, brief MIND LEFT BODY theme drips into MORNING DEW.

9/23/72 waterbury: terrible vocals. band tries next-beat segues for 1st time. fun if not fully successful PROMISED LAND > BERTHA. then, the 1st(?) bust-out fest. 1st AROUND & AROUND since 4/71 followed by 1st IT’S ALL OVER NOW, BABY BLUE since 11/70. garcia sings well, mangles words. and then the 1st CRYPTICAL ENVELOPMENT since 11/71 & the last ’til the cringe-y ’80s. pretty sloppy. oh, well. g’bye.

9/24/72 waterbury: yup, weir definitely using light, funky compression, most notable on BIG RIVER, played every show since re-debut. 2nd set again opens with sequence of next-beat segues. debut of TOMORROW IS FOREVER by dolly parton, a mellow garcia/donna duet. assured DARK STAR immolation with sweet rhodes, 3m BEAUTIFUL JAMish denouement, DRUMZ, & liquid segue into CHINA CAT.

9/26/72 jersey city: at the stanley theater on journal square, where my grandpa saw movies in ’30s/’40s, now a jehovah’s witness temple. churning dissolve from the TRUCKIN’ boogie into jam-land & a confident (if mildly jumbled) BABY BLUE, last ’til ’74.

9/27/72 jersey city: a legendary DARK STAR. 18m of bright swing before 1st verse & a jaw-dropping segue into CUMBERLAND BLUES. 1st ATTICS OF MY LIFE since 12/70. ragged but still stunning. then weir insists on more chuck berry covers.

9/28/72 jersey city: another brilliant bear ‘board, perfect bass. poetic rhythmic opacity in typically dazzling PLAYING.

9/30/72 washington DC: FM soundboard with ghost seepage from neighboring frequencies. surprising phil/keith/billy jam in free-ass OTHER ONE.

10/2/72 springfield, MA: garcia bridges the MISSISSIPPI HALF-STEP ending to the descending STELLA BLUE intro. it almost works. 20m TRUCKIN’ with 1st NOBODY’S FAULT jam since 11/70, DRUMZ, & fast’n'thrilling UNCLE JOHN’S jam, dissolving into DEW.

10/9/72 winterland: 1st BOX OF RAIN since 9/70 (& 2nd ever). 1st donna-”enhanced” GD classic. phil’s vocals flirt with headdeskdom. obliterated grace slick jabbers over a loose jam. bill graham retrieves her. grace: “get that bitch off the stage.”

10/17/72 st. louis: great thin-out in PLAYING IN THE BAND. oddly jamless second set with 40 minutes worth of closers.

10/18/72 st. louis: like every show since may, a chuck berry cover. unlike every show since may, chuck’s birthday in his hometown. 1st split-open PLAYING, which segues (via DRUMZ) into DARK STAR with a bright phil-led sequence & FEELIN’ GROOVY jam into MORNING DEW with an opulent meltdown out of the crescendo that eventually gets to the 1st PLAYING REPRISE. nice!

10/19/72 st. louis: fat-toned BIRD SONG. last COMES A TIME til ’76. messy DIRE WOLF, 1st since europe & last for a year.

10/21/72 nashville: long & winding pre-verse in OTHER ONE, atmospheric free drums behind garcia arpeggios & loud/proud bass.

10/23/72 milwaukee: the last (& probably best) of 4 choogly & generally bland versions of ROCKIN’ PNEUMONIA & THE BOOGIE WOOGIE FLU. a vividly river-like 28m DARK STAR, unusually focused on one contiguous theme & transcending the murky audience tape.

10/24/72 milwaukee: BOX OF RAIN finally enters the song rotation, vocals improved all around. or it could be the audience recording. thankfully, a soundboard for set 2 with fully articulated PHILO STOMP in THE OTHER ONE, bright jam led by chordal bass.

10/26/72 cincinnati: nice pre-verse major-key cloud-swells in DARK STAR & uneventful drums/bass fizzle into SUGAR MAGNOLIA.

10/27/72 columbus: decent audience tape by owsley. so much clapping. in a nice variation, HALF-STEP in the post-jam slot.

10/28/72 cleveland: BOX OF RAIN confident, almost aggro. still surreal to hear. primo free meltdown in PLAYING. great drum mix. last ATTICS OF MY LIFE ’til 1989. bye! first CANDYMAN since 11/71, a little rusty, but unchanged & with extra-soulful garcia vocal. hyperreal 28m billy-powered DARK STAR with unceasing movement, PHILO STOMP, TIGER noise, & A+ wah tone.

10/30/72 detroit: another warm owsley audience tape. cool cubist blooze in TRUCKIN’. no big jam, mucho weir-boogie. help.

11/12/72 kansas city, KS: 1st show since release of europe ’72. extra-wacky 1-beat BEAT IT ON DOWN intro. drab vibes & mix.

11/13/72 kansas city, KS: stunning DARK STAR. intricate architecture, endless translucent peaks.

11/14/72 oklahoma city: effortless throughout. sleight-of-hand cascade from HE’S GONE into TRUCKIN’ & crisp 15m OTHER ONE.

11/15/72 oklahoma city: 1st set only. 30m PLAYING achieves lush, delicate drift, electric keyboards particularly warm.

11/17/72 wichita: the only JACK STRAW played in wichita, no cheers for title lyric. THE OTHER ONE heavy on underwater swing & odd phil.

11/18/72 houston: full-speed 26m PLAYING. endless chattering bass, dizzying garcia ellipses, & proto-SLIPKNOT moves.

11/19/72 houston: weir strums through 1st WEATHER REPORT SUITE PRELUDE as coda to listless DARK STAR. band seems unsure what to do. TRUCKIN’ conspicuously absent both nights in the city too close to new orleans.

11/22/72 austin: garcia in exceedingly mellow mood, calls ballad after ballad. way soulful CANDYMAN, despite missed lyrics. oh, hey, donna jean now singing co-lead on BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE.

11/23/72 armadillo world headquarters: thanksgiving jam w/ garcia, lesh, sir doug sahm, & leon russell. unlimited C&W/tejano choogle. #headnecksunite

11/24/72 dallas: utterly magical PLAYING. breathless dialogues, quiet wah-wah peels, eloquent disintegrations/landings.

11/26/72 san antonio: gravity-free pre-verse DARK STAR tangents. later, a FEELIN’ GROOVY jam & joyous garcia annihilation.

12/10/72 winterland: warm & vivid soundboard. can practically feel winterland bouncing on uptempo tunes, esp. DEAL & SUGAR MAGNOLIA. supremely cracked garcia phrasing in PLAYING, carried into instinctive full-band knottiness during THE OTHER ONE.

12/11/72 winterland: pretty & wending 11m HALF-STEP to open odd & awesome jerry-heavy second set. last TOMORROW IS FOREVER ’til ’74. 35m DARK STAR with 15m build into sonorous clank followed by 15m of uninterrupted space-dread & an angelic STELLA BLUE.

12/12/72 winterland: phil hints at EYES OF THE WORLD ending in bass solo pre-OTHER ONE, with choppy, peppy post-verse jam.

12/15/72 long beach: nice slow implosion from TRUCKIN’ into last ’72 DARK STAR. soaring 1st jam. then, insect communiques.

12/31/72 winterland: new year’s chaos. shouty vocals, though band basically keeps it together in what sounds like total pandemonium. otherwise sober-seeming KSAN DJ describes “motion picture holo-grams” on venue floor that don’t seem documented elsewhere. david crosby joins on 12-string electric for sloppy/fun OTHER ONE > MORNING DEW.

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

stella blue’s maiden name

In a bit of synchronicity/convergence that often seems to happen around the Grateful Dead, my beach reading this weekend was Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire.

Though not on the beach, I also spent some time listening to the Dead’s June 17th, 1972 show at the Hollywood Bowl as part of my ongoing #deadfreaksunite project. It’s the first show post-Europe ’72 and likewise Pigpen’s final performance. He doesn’t sing, and his B3 is mostly inaudible on the truly shitty audience recording, with the very big exception of the debut version of “Stella Blue,” which is near-perfect. Music writers (myself probably included) toss the word “haunting” around with abandon, but Pig’s performance on “Stella Blue” is one case where it’s almost literally applicable.

And here’s where the Nabokov comes in:

Line 627: The great Starover Blue

…neither his first nor second name bears any relation to the celestial vault: the first was given him in memory of his grandfather, a Russian starover (accented, incidentally, on the ultima), that is, Old Believer (member of a schismatic sect), named Sinyavin, from siniy, Russ. “blue.” This Sinyavin migrated from Saratov to Seattle and begot a son who eventually changed his name to Blue and married Stella Lazurchik, an Americanized Kashube. So it goes.

And there it is, Stella Blue’s maiden name: Stella Lazurchik. Sounds like a hippie to me. (I was pretty excited to make this discovery but, naturally, David Dodd & Annotated Grateful Dead Song Lyrics site is all over it.)

And here it is, an mp3 of the first version of “Stella Blue.” Note the alternate lyric post-”dust off those rusty strings.”

what jon huntsman was talking about (u.s. blues ’12)

Jon Huntsman recently prescribed a “Grateful Dead tour of this country” as a cure-all for our national ills led by a candidate “who rallies the support of the American people in getting term limits and closing the revolving doors of lobbyists.” In this case, I think, “Dead tour” slipped out Huntsman’s mouth as shorthand for a populist/collectivist groundswell with its own obsessive following, something richer and more real than mere grassroots support. And if that’s what Huntsman meant, some freegan should flyer him with #ows propaganda ASAP, it being an heir to the anarchistic/countercultural momentum the Dead carried for some LSD-soaked stretch of the time-track. Either that or show Huntsman Bob Roberts, which is probably more what a Republican candidate-based Dead tour would look like.

Either way, the more interesting part to me is the deployment of the Dead as a symbol by a Republican presidential candidate who–despite claiming to be a Captain Beefheart fan–pretty much has to the definition of square. This goes beyond Al and Tipper Gore inviting the band to the White House. They were fans of the band who at least came out of the same cultural moment. For a Mormon son of a billionaire, this is an invocation of a wholly different kind. “Grateful Dead” once meant something in ye olde English folklore about paying the funeral bills of an anonymous stranger who died in debt. Now, it has a folkloric resonance now of an entirely different sort, a meaning in the American mother-tongue beyond the band itself. Jon Huntsman won’t be getting my vote in any reality, but he certainly has my ear. I wish him the best as he is devoured the traditional manner of the grimacing white man’s quadrennial blood orgy.

“run rudolph run,” 12/14/71, hill auditorium, ann arbor, MI

Download here. [MP3]

The Dead played “Run Rudolph Run” seven times between December 4th and 15th, 1971. Pigpen sang. The tune was a #69 hit for Chuck Berry in 1958, written by Johnny Marks and Marvin Brodie. Unquestionably the best Dead version is the second-to-last, from December 14th at the Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor. They played it twice in Chuck Berry’s hometown of St. Louis on December 9th and 10th, and it’s too bad not one of those, but the first night in Ann Arbor has the best mix of any of them. Keith Godchaux’s strident Johnnie Johnson-style piano is full and rich, like the familiar warm balance of Europe ’72, Garcia’s lines darting around it. Besides the following night, where he’s too loud, Godchaux is buried in most of the other recordings, Garcia and Weir’s guitars clanging against each other.

It’s a showcase for Pigpen, returning to the band after sitting out the fall tour, the first sign of weakening for the 26-year old alcoholic, who would die less than two years later. At times on the December east coast run, 11 shows from Boston to Ann Arbor, Pig is spotty. In Boston, the band pulled out his show-stopping “Turn On Your Lovelight,” and he faltered, unable to martial the gang into the weirdly psych-funk nooks they were often able to improvise behind semi-improvised patter about “box back knitties and great big noble thighs,” and they only revisited it one other time on the trip.

But by the end of the run, he seems almost back to form, though the big closers wouldn’t return with regularity until the band shuffled off to New York and then Europe the next spring. One lesson of my Dead listening project–revisiting every show close to its 40th anniversary, #deadfreaksunite, etc.–has been a constant reevaluation of the Dead as a working, aggressively evolving band, often marked by the unrelenting, constant expansion of their songbook. Most lately, this involved an appreciation of Pigpen’s still very active role in ’71 and ’72. Even for Deadheads, Pig is sometimes easy to write off in these later years, so often relegated to un-mic’ed sidestage congas.

While he didn’t exactly crank out tunes like Garcia and Weir, he had two new numbers to do for the December run, “Run Rudolph Run” and a new original, “Mr. Charlie,” which would go along fine with “Empty Pages,” introduced earlier in the year, had he not already abandoned that. Early ’72 would see two more Pig tunes go into rotation, “Chinatown Shuffle” (whose pick-up would get jacked for “U.S. Blues”) and the lost masterpiece “The Stranger (Two Souls in Communion).” Even after he left the road following the Europe ’72 tour, he continued to write, producing a set of home demos, which has circulated as Bring Me My Shotgun.

With its “Love & Theft”-like cadences on half-sensical tumbles about some heretofore unknown reindeer named Randolph (?!) and archaic constructions like “girl-child” and “boy-child,” it’s sort of mystifying that avowed Chuck Berry freak Bob Dylan didn’t record “Run Rudolph Run” for his Christmas in the Heart. But it’s a nice little novelty from the Dead’s brief two-keyboard lineup, where Pigpen and Godchaux got a nice Hudson/Manuel-like B3/piano blend on some of the recordings from those tours. Though Pig doesn’t play organ here, Godchaux’s presence gives him the chance to belt over straight-up boogie-woogie piano, a rare pleasure in itself only possible during these few tours.

All of which totally ignores the song’s holidayness, which really has no narrative and is, in an admirably teen-pop way, more about describing the apparent giddiness of the Christmas season in the post-War years. “Shopping is a feeling,” David Byrne said later in True Stories, and there’s maybe some of that in here (infused with holiday spirit, no doubt), with the subtle ’50s consumerism behind lyrics like “all I want for Christmas is a rock & roll electric guitar” and the girl-child’s wish for “a little baby doll that can cry, scream, and wet” (plus perfectly period automotive dreams about Santa speeding down a freeway). Not that Pigpen was signifyin’ or anything. He was–and thanks to the perpetual present tense of the recording is–just singing. The Dead may’ve been hippies, but by late 1971, they were mostly just a rock band.

“Run Rudolph Run”–at least the fifth or sixth Berry tune in rotation–is Pig in his element, and a vibrant little tick in Dead history. But it’s something maybe even more unique than that. In the Dead’s massive unofficial catalogue, it’s one of the very few versions of anything I’d happily call “definitive” with any measure of confidence. And, hey, that’s something to feel good about this holiday season.

hippie punx on the loose in bourgwick, 1/09

The hippie punx continue to roam Bourgwick. Maybe more MC5/fucking-in-the-streets style than (re)united Dead Freaks, they’ve nonetheless colonized a shredded subway ad at my stop with their manifesto-like graffiti.

“mountains of the moon” (original angel choir mix) – the grateful dead

“Mountains of the Moon” – The Grateful Dead (download)
from Aoxomoxoa original mix (1969)

High on the list of Dead tunes likely to convert freak-folkers is Aoxomoxoa‘s “Mountains of the Moon.” With Tom Constanten’s swirling harpsichord and Robert Hunter’s oblique, mythical lyrics, it’s a bauble that didn’t sustain in the Dead’s repertoire, whose most tender songs required (for better or worse) a certain machismo to survive the ‘heads. While “Mountains” served as a perfect prelude to at least 11 “Dark Stars” in 1969, its modal (1) melody couldn’t even last long enough for the band’s abundant acoustic sets the following year. Drag.

I love how Hunter’s lyrics get down with the folk mythos — Tom Banjo, Electra, etc. — but also find a moment of psychedelic focus, the hallucinations parting for a brief second like ascending angels: “hey, the city in the rain.”

It is perhaps the aforementioned angels who hummm and ooooh behind the original 1969 version on Aoxomoxoa, removed by Jerry Garcia himself in a 1971 remix. On first listen, I wished there were more of them, but I think they’re in just the right proportion to last the duration of the track’s four minutes without grating. Like the Blood on the Tracks demo acetate, the Aoxomoxoa mix comes bundled with the vinyl warmth of its source. (Big ups to SeaOfSound for the music.)

(1) I think.

“eighth of january” – the kentucky colonels with scotty stoneman

“Eighth of January” – The Kentucky Colonels with Scott Stoneman (download) (buy)

(file expires February 27th)

Thanks to Rev for turning me onto this recording of Scott Stoneman and the Kentucky Colonels performing “Eighth of January” at the Ash Grove in Los Angeles in 1965. In the audience that night was Jerry Garcia.

I get my improvisational approach from Scotty Stoneman, the fiddle player. [He's] the guy who first set me on fire — where I just stood there and I don’t remember breathing. He was just an incredible fiddler. He was a total alcoholic wreck by the time I heard him, in his early thirties, playing with the Kentucky Colonels… They did a medium-tempo fiddle tune like ‘Eighth of January’ and it’s going along, and pretty soon Scotty starts taking these longer and longer phrases — ten bars, fourteen bars, seventeen bars — and the guys in the band are just watching him! They’re barely playing — going ding, ding, ding — while he’s burning. The place was transfixed. They played this tune for like twenty minutes, which is unheard of in bluegrass. I’d never heard anything like it. I asked him later, ‘How do you do that?’ and he said, ‘Man, I just play lonesome.’ (Garcia, c. 1985, via Blair Jackson’s Garcia: An American Life)

By the time the music made it to tape — which is to say, in reality — it was five and a third minutes, proving Garcia’s memory to be about as blown as any Deadhead’s. He’s not wrong either, though. (See also “Cleo’s Back” for the further secret history of the Grateful Dead.)

dead freaks unite, no. 2

“Box of Rain” – The Grateful Dead (download) (buy)
from American Beauty (1970)

The Lorimer/Metropolitan station connects the L train to the G train, or Williamsburg to Park Slope. It is, needless to say, a Brooklynite hub. After discovering Grateful Dead graffiti there last year, I had another late night Dead encounter, this time with a drunk hipster.

At around 2 in the morning, over Thanksgiving weekend, he wandered onto the Brooklyn-bound side, carrying a mostly empty bottle of wine, and singing at the top of his lungs. His bellows slapped off the tile, making the lyrics that much more indistinguishable as he sang along with his iPod. I slipped off my headphones, curious to hear what he was singing: “Box of Rain.” Needless to say, I started singing along.

Dude had owned American Beauty in high school but was recently inspired to dust it off thanks to the concluding episode of Paul Feig and Judd Apatow’s Freaks and Geeks, in which Lindsay Weir discovers the Dead and skips out on a summertime academic summit to head off on Dead tour.

The reclamation continues.

the fader’s garcia issue & “mountains of the moon” – grateful dead

“Mountains of the Moon” – the Grateful Dead (download) (buy)
recorded 1 March 1969, Fillmore West, San Francisco

(file expires June 6th)

As I’ve been saying all along, the Dead are hip and getting hipper. With the publication of The Fader‘s Jerry Garcia issue (download it fer free!), the circle is complete. It’s official: Jerry’s cool again. And it’s about fucking time.

It is interesting to see Garcia liberated from the thin, crammed pages of Relix and splashed gorgeously across the thick glossy sheets and high modern layouts of The Fader. The editors present a very specific version of Garcia that is far from the genial, bearded fat dude he was for his last 15 years, and who is often still celebrated by the jamband scene. Titled “Jerry Garcia: American Beauty,” only two of the nine photos of Garcia (including full-sized front & back cover shots) feature the iconic beard. Instead, we get the doe-eyed beatific boy from San Francisco.

Arranged as an oral history/appreciation, the spread features quotes from the usual suspects (Bob Weir, Mountain Girl, David Grisman), but also pontificatin’ from various hipster musicians, including Devendra Banhart, Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse, Craig Finn of the Hold Steady, duder from Animal Collective, and others. Though they missed a few good quotables (no Lee Ranaldo?), they all present alternative readings on how to listen to the Dead. Alternative to the Deadhead mainstream, that is.

What happens now that the Dead are seemingly back in the dialogue, I have no idea.

get ahead, 3/07

“Mississippi Half-Step” – the Grateful Dead (download here)
recorded 20 October 1974
Winterland Arena – San Francisco, CA
from The Grateful Dead Movie Soundtrack (2005)
released by Grateful Dead Records (buy)

Even in deepest Williamsburg, Deadheads survive, here leaving their mark on the Brooklyn-bound platform of the Lorimer Street L-train station. Definitely a WTF?, but I’m glad the Deadheads are taking back the streetz. Or, as Boomy reminds: Dead Freaks Unite!

“okie from muskogee” – the grateful dead with the beach boys

“Okie From Muskogee” – the Grateful Dead with the Beach Boys (download here)
recorded 27 April 1971
Fillmore East, NYC

(file expires February 2nd)

“We’ve got another famous California group here,” Jerry Garcia announced without much drama midway through the middle night of the Grateful Dead’s five-night run to close out the Fillmore East in April 1971. “It’s the Beach Boys.”

And out they came, or the post Brian Wilson incarnation anyway, to join the Dead for five songs, and to play two of their own in the middle. Like many sloppy superjams before and many since, it didn’t quite add up, but remains rather amusing. There are some great moments, from Carl Wilson’s fucking baked-ass “hello” as he arrives onstage to the Deadheads’ cries of “bring back the Dead” between Deadless renditions of “Good Vibrations” and “I Get Around” (the former introduced by Bruce Johnston as “a song that reflects these really fucked-up times”) (wha?).

The most musical artifact of the set, though, is a rendition of Merle Haggard’s still-newish redneck classic “Okie From Muskogee” which finally gets down to business: hearing Garcia’s guitar dart between the Boys’ harmonies. The Dead had been grooving on Haggard all month (indeed, a lovely Garcia reading of “Sing Me Back Home” would be the encore that night), and the ease with which they play matches the laid back Californicana of the BBs’ severely underrated albums from that period. There, ever so briefly, the great straights from the south and the great freaks from the north clicked, and over what? Some tongue-in-cheek twang. Go figure.

america on-line (greatest misses #5) & “brokedown palace” – the grateful dead

“Brokedown Palace” – the Grateful Dead (download here)
recorded 11 April 1972
Newcastle City Hall, Newcastle, UK
from Steppin’ Out with the Grateful Dead (2002)
released by Grateful Dead Records (buy)

(file expires January 24th)

It’s hard to find an excuse to publish a two-and-a-half year-old review of a show by a band I don’t like very much. But I’m going to, anyway, because it involved a pleasantly bizarre excursion to Central Park, and this thing has stewed on my harddrive for way too long. At one point, it was supposed to have run in the Interboro Rock Tribune, though — if it did — I sure never saw a copy.

And “Brokedown Palace”? Well, why not? Consider it a spoonful of honey for all the theorizing about Dave Matthews. Or maybe it’s just honey because honey is fucking delicious. Anyway, I came across this version tonight, recorded in Newcastle on April 11th, 1972, and I love it. For some reason, I can’t remember ever hearing a version from ’72 (or ’73 or ’74, my fave Dead period), though DeadBase swears there are plenty. Except for the high harmonies near the end, it’s all so perfectly assured, maybe even more than the American Beauty rendition, especially Garcia’s monstrously concise solo.

***

America On Line
by Jesse Jarnow

When guitarist Warren Haynes took the stage with the Dave Matthews Band during their massive free concert at Central Park on September 24th, few cheered. That was to be expected. Though Haynes is revered in some quarters as the ever-active guitarist for the Allman Brothers Band, Gov’t Mule, and Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh’s eponymous quintet, he’s mostly unknown in the mainstream.

After dueting with Matthews on a rendition of Neil Young’s “Cortez The Killer,” Haynes ripped into a soaring solo. It was typical Big Rock fare, Haynes’s fingers flying impassioned up the fretboard in a show of bluesy virtuosity, face scrunched in anguish and splayed across the nine jumbo screens to underscore the point. The solo blew to a volcanic climax, the tension released from Haynes’s body, and he stepped back.

And, again, few cheered.

This raises some questions. Likely, it wasn’t a show of displeasure. Nobody was booing, nor were people offering up any particular show of criticism. And it wasn’t abject boredom. Around me, on the fringe of the crowd, people seemed to be having a grand evening under the stars, laughing and smiling in all directions. So, what was it? Why hadn’t that old reliable, the Big Solo, ignited them?
On the surface, the Dave Matthews Band appear to have inherited the stadium rock mantle once held by bands like Led Zeppelin and, more recently, U2: an old-fashioned rock outfit (give or take) capable of creating best-selling records and filling impossibly large halls wherever they choose to roam. But, as the crowd’s reaction to Haynes indicated, perhaps not all is what it seems.

Beneath the same ol’, same ol’ exterior of the rock concert as suburban coming of age ritual, the practices of young concertgoers have subtly mutated. To say that they are having shallower experiences at the shows they attend because, say, their experiences are apparently non-musical is to miss the point. They’re still having a good time and they’re still, like it or not, coming of age. So, what is it that they latch onto?

***

Given the truly epic surreality of the event, from its conception to is execution – light years removed from the uncomplicated cause-and-effect of liking a band, hearing about their show, buying a ticket, and going (and even further from the vaunted free concerts of yore) – it’s right boggling to conceive of the AOL Concert For Schools as a teenager’s first rock show. Rock concerts have always been theaters of the absurd, but the dramatis personae seem to be changing of late. In Manhattan, anyway, ads had plastered subways and buses for several weeks. Typical copy depicted a picture of a row of school desks, the AOL running man logo branded onto the corner of each (a frightening thought), and the caption “Life needs a music lesson.”

Waiting on line, the acquisition of tickets seemed to be the most popular topic of discussion. Officially, they had been distributed for free via white AOL vans that parked at various Manhattan street corners throughout the week. But, being free and pretty much indiscriminately passed out – in a relatively mysterious way, at that, some seemingly arbitrarily, some after participating in contests – they quickly fell into other hands. We heard tales of a temporary black market that had sprung up to accommodate the distribution of tickets, funneling them out to the suburbs via EBay and co-workers and friends of friends with favors to call, sometimes free, but mostly not.

The line coiled through the park, a human Great Wall of China drudging in slow motion through Frederick Law Olmstead’s Arcadian landscaping, disappearing into the greenery at one end, stretching out onto Central Park’s bordering avenues on the other. On the east side, we had followed it south from the park’s entrance at 72nd Street with no end in sight, as Jon looked for somebody to bestow his spare ticket on.

A kid overheard us. “Do you have an extra?” he asked, with a slight accent.

“Maybe,” Jon replied

“Ya, I came from Germany,” he said.

“Oh yeah?” I replied, glancing at his Ithaca College hoodie.

“Ya,” he confirmed. “I’m from Munich.”

“Okay, you got it,” Jon said.

“Oh, danke!” Munich Boy grinned, and scurried off, ducking under a barricade and cutting into the line.

“Do you ever get the impression that the way these kids act on line might be a good metaphor for the way they’ll turn out later in life?” I asked Jon.

He paused. “Nah, that’s stupid.”

We pressed onward. Near 70th Street, past a row of port-o-lets, the line suddenly changed directions, as if we had passed the equator.
“The line doubles back somewhere down there,” a girl groused.

“This sucks, I wanna go home,” a nearby cop grumbled. “I could be in class right now.”

“Down there” was 65th Street, just north of the Central Park Zoo. “Screw this,” Jon announced, and turned into the park, following the sidewalk along the thru-road. A hundred yards into the park, we hopped the small stone wall, climbed a grassy embankment, and looked down on the line, which we could see in the distance. We could see dozens of other dissidents, looking for alternate paths into the concert. I wondered how many of them were first-time concertgoers.

We cursed Munich Boy as we clamored through the underbrush after the hillside we were following suddenly dropped away. We roamed the Ramble, occasionally catching sight of the line. It was a lovely evening for a stroll, and we wandered up paths and down stairs and past the pond and the gondolas and rowboats peacefully adrift. At the Boathouse, men in white linen suits dined, seemingly unaware of the horde of teenagers milling on the other side of the treeline.

We slipped into line. “Hey, good idea, man!” a guy said, unbothered by the fact that we were blatantly cutting in.

“How long have you been here?” I asked a girl next to us.

“Five hours,” she replied.

“Man, I got here three hours ago,” said a kid standing next to her.

“Really?” said somebody else. “We walked up, like 45 minutes ago. Didn’t even cut.”

The line had broken down their sense of time, it seemed. Mine, too. I have no recollection of how long we were there. People talked. Besides how they got their tickets, they rarely spoke about the band they were there to see (unheard of at show by Phish or the Grateful Dead, two bands the DMB is frequently lumped with). They didn’t even speak with particular frequency about other bands, but mostly about movies or television shows.

While this might not seem worth remarking on at first, it seems some indication of the way the Dave Matthews Band (and, thus, the rock concert as an entity) might now be viewed by young fans: music as something undifferentiated from other pop culture mediums, as opposed to an autonomous experience that exists outside of the mainstream of American life. In other words: rock not as rebellion at all, but as a completely sanctioned experience. Though this has probably been the norm for some time, the concert form has seemingly transformed around this ideal.

We passed a row of ticket takers, a pile of confiscated lawn chairs and blankets (for a day in the park, at that), a thoroughly crouch-mauling patdown (hands placed and suddenly jerked UP), and a bag search (though, officially, they weren’t allowing bags in at all; terror, etc.). Though our tickets had been ripped, and word had come that the show had started, we still couldn’t hear any music. Abruptly, two girls in front of us shrieked, charged up a small hill in the vague direction of the concert field, and disappeared into the woods. There was a rustling, then silence.

***

The lush green of the Great Lawn sprawled before us, the stately regency of Belvedere Castle and the midtown skyline at our back. The music ricocheted between speaker towers in an echoed maze, bearing strange sonic resemblance to an avant-garde multi-channel sound installation. Six giant screens stood in V-formation, pointing towards the distant stage, which was adorned by its own screen. Though the field was half-empty (presumably, most were still on line), clumps of people gathered around each of the screens.

Each was mounted on an elaborate scaffolding which also included several banks of lights, and a smoke machine. The former flashed constantly, moreless indiscriminately (which didn’t matter, since the images were hardly synched with the music coming from the speakers). The latter, positioned below the screen, jetted smoke straight upward, thanks to industrial fans just beneath the chute. The lights and the smoke both came between one’s sightline and the broadcast images, which simultaneously drew the eye in and created the impression that one was, indeed, watching something real at the center. Crowds sat cross-legged at the bases of the scaffolding, goggling upwards.

A camera mounted on a crane swept over the crowd. Another camera stood on a smaller scaffolding that rose from the midst of the throng. With the exception of a few songs in the middle of the band’s set, the operator trained the camera away from the stage for the entire night, presumably for the DVD of the concert, already set to be released on November 4th. There was no shortage of striking images. A girl holding a bouquet of heart-shaped balloons of silver mylar wandered by, the balloons momentarily framed by smoke billowing from the screen.

Instead of the usual between song pandemonium, the air vacuumed to near silence after a brief smattering of applause. Despite this, the music was not an unimportant part of the event. There was dancing, though it was frequently directed at each other in clusters, like a school dance, as opposed to at the stage. There were singalongs, though only at preset moments, as opposed to when the mood struck. There were giddy screams when favorite songs were played, though they were usually followed by cell phone calls, as opposed to intent listening.

So, why is the Dave Matthews Band the premier party band of the early 21st century? Surely, part of their appeal is in their Joe Rockband quality. Matthews is, as Rolling Stone’s David Fricke called him, “the ultimate Everyman.” Their music maps to that description, too. Despite several long instrumental excursions, there was little extreme about the band’s performance. They played at comfortable tempos with no distortion. All of this accounts for the band’s accessibility, for the college following that was Matthews’ bread and butter in earlier years, but doesn’t explain why listeners seem to be applying different standards to Matthews’ music than previous generations.

Or does it?

Despite its size, despite the screens, the show in Central Park was as close to a non-spectacle as one could get at that magnitude. When soloing, bandmembers would make a point of stepping close to each other and making eye contact. Again, it was an old rock trick (e.g. Robert Plant drawing the crowd’s attention to Jimmy Page by moving near and watching him solo), but effective. But, when Plant looked at Page, he frequently did so with awe, putting the guitarist on a pedestal for the audience by temporarily playing low status.

By contrast, the Dave Matthews Band’s gestures were far more humble. By design or happenstance, each revealed the band as six men playing music in real time. In an age where jump cuts are the norm and linear performances are practically unknown in popular culture, that can be powerful good. It is well possible that the Dave Matthews Band appeals for the same reason that country music suddenly found itself in vogue in the late ’60s. There is not so much an authenticity to the Dave Matthews Band as there is an undiluted simplicity — which is a helluva thing to say about a rock and roll band playing music in front of an estimated 100,000 people at a concert sponsored by one of the biggest corporations in the world.

In this case, it’s not what the guitars are doing, but that there are even guitars at all. Through all, Matthews inspires a certain comfort level. And, hey, as an audience member, that feels great. It is precisely because the rock concert has become such an ingrained ritual that the Dave Matthews Band thrives: simply, at a Dave Matthews Band show, one doesn’t have to behave like he’s at a rock concert.

There are no pretensions of revelation, no high art or inflatable pigs, not even any obvious attempts to get the crowd riled up. Nobody was beat over the head being told that they were having the time of his or her life. Is that rebellion? Maybe so, maybe not. It’s definitely a “to each his own trip” philosophy, minus the drugs and writ large. Like every Everyman, Dave Matthews is a blank slate. Life needs blank slates.

Around us, boys approached girls awkwardly, smoking the second or third cigarettes of their lives, as the new template for a rock show burned itself into their heads. They had meaningful experiences.

“This is the place to be!” a guy in a turquoise Alligator shirt bellowed as he stumbled by. “These guys are the bomb, right?”

A moment later, he held his head and staggered towards the scaffolding, where he vomited. He removed his shirt, revealing a lacrosse uniform, wiped his mouth, and lurched back into the crowd.

wetlands/borat karma & “you enjoy myself” – phish

“You Enjoy Myself” – Phish (download here)
recorded 26 October 1989
Wetlands Preserve, NYC (soundboard)

Man, y’know, I hate to be negative & shit, but sometimes life requires it and this story is too good to pass up. Carole De Saram is the President of the Tribeca Community Association. As I found out when I saw the final cut of Wetlands Preserved, a documentary I worked on a few years ago, she was one of the prime movers in forcing the Wetlands Preserve out of Tribeca in September 2001. Call it gentrification or something else, but she displaced a very real community in the name of making her own newer, richer community a little blander. That it happened during a month when communities in Manhattan were needed more than ever only made it shittier.

But then there’s karma. Or, more accurately, there’s Borat.

Carole De Saram, as it turns out, is also a member of the Veteran Feminists of America, a group Sacha Baron Cohen interviews in Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. When I saw the film, it was one of the few times where I groaned and thought, “gee, does he really have to fuck with these people?” And the answer, as the universe has pointed out to me, is: hell yes. My new theory is that anybody in Borat who appears innocent is actually atoning for some bad juju he or she previously unleashed on the world.

Anyway, there’s something positive to go along with it: a nicely mixed soundboard of Phish playing “You Enjoy Myself” at the Wetlands in October 1989. For non-Phishies open-eared enough to try, this is as good a place to start as any. If you don’t enjoy “You Enjoy Myself,” you probably won’t enjoy Phish. They’re not the story here, anyway, Wetlands is: a club that allowed this bizarre music to happen in New York.

Here’s a 12-story feature I edited, and partially wrote, about Wetlands on the occasion of its closing.

vince welnick

The suicide of former Grateful Dead keyboardist Vince Welnick on Friday saddened me in a way I couldn’t have predicted. As a latter-day Deadhead, I never had much use for him. In large part, that is because his tenure fell during Jerry Garcia’s final half-decade, a period of terminal musical decline. In the proverbial history book, Welnick is a footnote.

But he was also a real dude, who — until last week — was busting his ass trying to make a living playing keyboards (most recently with various Dead cover bands). His story, http://www.vincewelnick.com/index.php?module=pnForum&func=viewtopic&topic=315&start=0">as posted by his friend Mike Lawson, is heartbreaking. Welnick was depressed, Lawson writes, because his ex-bandmates never invited to any of the periodic Dead regroupings. This, in part, seems to have happened because — while on tour with Bob Weir and Ratdog — Welnick overdosed in the back of the bus, and was subsequently shoved unceremoniously into a cab and sent to the emergency room as a John Doe.

There’s more, of course, throughout both Lawson’s post and the subsequent thread. In a way, with its neat and logical narrative, it makes perfect sense of what happened — something extraordinarily rare. But just because the story makes sense and has an ending doesn’t mean that anything is resolved, or better. Sometimes, the music just doesn’t work, and that might be the scariest ending of all.

looky looky, wookie! phish outtakes!

“Birthday Boys,” “Bubble Wrap,” and “Running Scared” – Phish
(zipped file of the three songs)
outtakes from Round Room (2002)

(file expires on February 24th)

How bad could the outtakes be from a Phish album that was basically comprised of demos to begin with? The answer, if you have any wookie blood in you at all, is relative. (And, if you don’t, you’ll come away hating Phish even more than you already do.)

Yes, yes, relative. That is: the three “new” songs circulating from Phish’s 2002 Round Room sessions are very much like their officially released brethren in that they’re half-conceived and far less than they should be. Being outtakes, this less-than-whole-assedness is also perfectly excusable. That doesn’t make them good (or of interest to anybody not already curious about Phish’s creative process).

“Birthday Boys” had already been recorded by Oysterhead, one of the bands Trey Anastasio played with during the two years previous to this session, while Phish was figuring out if they wanted to be a band or not (they didn’t, as they determined later). It’s nifty, heavy on the same impressionistic twang that defined “Pebbles and Marbles,” which led off Round Room. Playful and intricate, it would’ve made an ace Phish tune — especially the cleverly modulating ending. The version here borders on trainwreck, especially as it goes, but — hey — it’s a rehearsal. It coulda been a contenda.

The all-improv (and largely abstract) “Bubble Wrap” is — I assume — one of the band’s first jams after getting back together. They feel disconnected, their parts moving against each other and trying, mostly unsuccessfully, to lock in. It’s kind of uncomfortable to hear Phish, who were rarely less than psychic communicators with big ears, playing like this. A historical curiosity, perhaps. The last song, “Running Scared,” most likely isn’t Phish at all, but Anastasio demoing with songwriting/drinking chum Tom Marshall. Finding the song in the midst of the sloppiness is like trying to find the marble in the proverbial oatmeal (or maybe just figuring out a magic eye). Either way, it’s hard to imagine a way that Phish could’ve made it all too interesting. So it went.

phish dialogue, cont.

I made the decision today to include other stuff in the blog that don’t really fit anywhere else. My and I have been talking recently about Phish and politics. A few weeks ago, he made a post to his blog, in response to an email I sent him (which is included in his post). Below is my response. I always feel like a bit of a dolt writing about politics, so hopefully he’ll be able to hammer me into shape (bloody politics major).

***

I’m gonna start somewhat away from Phish, with a passage I read this morning in (huh-huh) that Susan Orlean essay in the Best Music Writing book. It’s called “The Congo Sound” and is about music from Congo/Zaire.

“Mobutu Sese Seko, the dictator who ruled the country for 32 years, was aware of how directly music communicated to the Congolese. When he took power, in 1965, he demanded that the country’s musicians write songs to celebrate his achievement, and then arranged for them to receive generous state sponsorship as a sort of insurance policy against future songs that might question his actions. When he introduced his Authenticité campaign, in 1971, with the aim of ridding the country of foreign influence, he designated the great soukous orchestra O.K. Jazz the official musical medium for conveying his doctrine. He traveled throughout Zaire with the orchestra; after each of his speeches, O.K. Jazz performed, both to sweeten the medicine of Authenticité and to use its lyrics to lecture the crowds, however gorgeously, about Mobutu’s programs. It would be like George W. Bush giving a series of speeches about why he wanted to go to war with Iraq, accompanied by foreign-policy songs by Bruce Springsteen.”

(Which, of course, is in itself an amusing idea.)

So, this is obviously an extreme example of what happens when music gets politicized. Of course, it doesn’t have to happen like this. Orlean points this out. In fact, the bulk of her article is about how so many Congolese musicians ended up in Paris. They were expatriates there, self-exiled because a particular leader would jail them for speaking/singing out against him. Amusingly (sort of), said leader actually was a big music fan, and repeatedly pardoned the worst offenders so they could play concerts. Hopefully, that wouldn’t happen in the United States, but it’s worth considering.

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Howard Dean manages to convince Phish to join him on his campaign. They could play before his rallies, and tens of thousands of Phish fans would flock to him. Hell, I’d go. I like Phish. And let’s also say, for the sake of argument, that Dean won the election. Finally, let’s imagine that, somehow, a buncha electoral wonks derived some formula that proved, without a trace of a doubt, that it was Phishheads who put Dean over the top. All of that would put Phish in a mighty weird spot. Howard Dean is President. He knows Phish can help sell his policies. Then what? Does music then become a part of the government process, ala Zaire? Does Dean go mad with power? Okay, yeah, so that’s a paranoid fantasy played out to the extreme. But it leads us to another question, which perhaps we can use to reverse-engineer some interesting stuff: what is the ideal relationship between government/politics and music?

Now, there’s surely a difference between government and politics, which you can probably better define. Here’s the one I’m going to work with: government is decision-making body, politics is the mechanism that allows the decisions to be acted out.

What is the most ideal? A band that (only) allows themselves to be used to attract potential followers to a politician? Or a band that does this, and then uses their music to amplify the politician’s policies? The latter is mighty close to advertising. But, again, it doesn’t have to be. Newspapers who report on political decisions certainly don’t implicitly endorse what they’re covering. There’s no reason why a band couldn’t, y’know, intelligently critique policy decisions through their music. But what politician wants a band following him around like that? We’re then left with the model of the band as independent arbiter, functioning autonomously (again, like a newspaper). They, too, would make policy decisions. Just as the New York Times can make a show of their endorsements, so could Phish. At the beginning of each campaign season and/or Phish tour, they could write songs summarizing the issues, pointing out where everybody stands (a verse for Dean, a verse for Kerry, etc.), and present their conclusions at the end
of a climactic 40 minute jam. Dude, it’d be phat.

But who wants to do that? That’s hideously close to didactic Schoolhouse Rock – educational music and stuff – and not particularly what Phish are trying to achieve artistically. So, let’s keep on looking for ideals. We’re getting closer to the reality of the situation now. The most workable midway point would simply for Phish’s lyrics to become more socially conscious without
delving into the specifics. But, without an outright politicization, the impact on politics would be mostly unquantifiable. Nonetheless, I think that would be the ideal: socially conscious (though perhaps still abstract) lyrics, coupled with a political endorsement (or an active attempt to make
people go out and vote). One of the things that I value about Bob Dylan’s mid-’60s work (especially John Wesley Harding) is its ability to be completely socially conscious without losing an iota of emotional impact. “All Along The Watchtower” has been covered badly so many times by now that its meaning is mostly gone, but the lyrics are powerful:

“There must be some way out of here,” said the joker to the thief,
“There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth,
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth.”

“No reason to get excited,” the thief, he kindly spoke,
“There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.
But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate,
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.”

I can’t say exactly how that’s socially conscious, but simply through its use of language and character (businessman, joker, thief), the world it puts my imagination in is a real one. Phish, by contrast, puts my imagination in a very fantastical place. Their lyrics have always been vague — or, at least, obscure. Again, this is an artistic choice, for the most part. And I’d even argue that it’s a valid one. Or, at least, it’d be disingenuous if they suddenly became politicized now, 20 years into their career.

They have always been somewhat progressive, but only in small ways. For a long time, they had a Greenpeace table at every show. When Greenpeace discontinued their touring program, the band replaced them with the Waterwheel Foundation. Every show, they raffle off backstage passes, signed posters, etc., in return for donations. The donations are channeled to local charities — homeless shelters, safe houses for abused women, and the like. They are, like you said the initial post, safe political bets — Good Things by anybody’s standards. In that sense, Waterwheel isn’t too different from the philanthropic arm of any small corporation.

That leads to something else I’ve been thinking about: we assume that Phish’s fans are progressive, but why should they be? That’s not what the attraction of the music is. There’s a sense of exploration, for sure. But, it’s a safe kind of exploration. The Dead lived communally. Phish never did. While it might be said that Phish’s fans are of a lifestyle, it’s not the same thing. Most of Phish’s fans are college-age. The people who go out on tour with Phish, for the most part, aren’t (mostly) not doing so at the expense of their broader lives. Like college, Phish tour (and especially Phish festivals) is a liminal space, a sorta morally autonomous zone where
kids can try different things (usually drugs, but also living on less money, etc.). While the act of entering a liminal territory is a sign of some liberalism, it only is to a degree. I think it’d be more fair to say that it’s part of growing up. Of course, one can also look at Phish tour as a breeding ground for budding capitalists.

In terms of actual musical qualities, what brings Phish fans together is a sense of musical adventure, but only a certain kind of musical adventure. Medeski Martin and Wood are an interesting example, to this end: after Trey endorsed them in 1995 (they opened some Phish shows, and Trey wrote in the Phish newsletter that they were “music that makes [him] want to drive too fast”), Phish fans began showing up at their shows. Now, MMW are from the NYC scene — came up playing with Zorn and Ribot and that bunch. As was vogue in the early ’90s, they were also into Afro-Cuban rhythms, old funk, etc.. It was music that was danceable. There was a big spike in their popularity. A year or so after that, the band moved into a deeply atonal
period. The Phish fans hated it. While Phish frequently is atonal, it’s mostly as a counter-balance to their brighter stuff. There’s always brightness at the end. With MMW, they’d stay dark and discordant for entire sets. While they surely gained many new fans anyway, it’s clear that the
mass audience wasn’t into the weird stuff. (Their last album, FWIW, was a return to the groove-oriented material of yore.)

What brings Phish fans together, then, is an idea of whimsy. This doesn’t imply a liberal fanbase at all (nor does it exclude one). You wrote of Phish (and others) distrust of power, which I think is definitely true. You conclude by saying “But people need to be organized, and telling them what to think is different than identifying a bunch of people who think the same way and getting them to all speak together to get something done.” I agree, but I’m starting to wonder: do Phish fans really all think in the same way? Would there be some way of finding out? It’s possible that their fanbase is more democratic (as opposed to Democratic) than it might first appear. Even so, I’d still wager that – given the average age of Phish fans – that most of ‘em would vote Democrat. However, whether they would do so as a result of the same thing which made them like Phish… well, that’s another question.