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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

JGB: early 1980s drummers and backup singers.


I posted some listening notes from the 10/13/82 JGB show at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz, CA. A priori, two things are particularly interesting about that show. First, it's the public debut of drummer Greg Errico with the Jerry Garcia Band in this particular stint (he had done a mini-tour with them in July 1980). There's much more to say about him and that. Second, there are no backup vocalists, as this was a ca. four-show interregnum between the departure of two female vocalists after the June '82 east coast tour and the arrival of Jaclyn LaBranch and DeeDee Dickerson on 10/24/82 at the River Theater in Guerneville, CA. (I'll do a post or two on that show as part of this thread, I hope.) (For some more backing vocalists talk with data relevant to what I'll post here, see this discussion of the personnel working the late '83 JGB tour.)

As as so often the case, Corry replied with knowledge that far exceeds that which is the present public "state of the art". All of this has been known by Corry all along, mind you, but it just never made the various leaps from him to what's currently publicly "known". So glad he is blogging so we can recover and extend all of this!

Anyway, he left a series of great comments, which I am going to try to respond to ad seriatim before I try to summarize where I think we are in terms of the early 80s drummers and backup singers. It's more complicated that one might think. In fact, these are among the last reasonably consequential Garcia mysteries from the 80s onward.


Comment 1:
Do you know anything about Jimmy Warren? Where he came from, what he did before, whether he ever did anything after? I don't.

Warren wasn't a guest star, he was in the JGB for 18 months and played dozens of shows. One of the biographers (Blair?) said "he had problems," but who knows what that meant.
Not much to go on. I would love to be able to talk to him, to learn more.

Here's Blair: "Electric pianist Jimmy Warren was, to put it delicately, sympathetic to Kahn's and Garcia's offstage behavior ... even John Kahn admitted that 'things got kind of out of control around then. Jimmy Warren was just sort of a friend. It didn't work out and it went on too long ...'" (Jackson 1999, 321). I believe he mostly played a Fender Rhodes. He came in with Melvin in January of 1981 (I believe "12/20/80" is just a mislabel of 12/20/79). He and Liz Stires were an item, so this band eventually had both the Liz Stires-Jimmy Warren couple and the Essra Mohawk-Daoud Shaw couple). I doubt he was especially "problematic" in terms of personal issues among those within Garcia's orbit at that particular time. Blair continues on pp. 321-322 about the fact that Garcia was in pretty deep at this point. I don't know anything about his tenure except that TJS lists his last gig as September 7, 1982. So, yeah, 18 months, no flash in the pan.


Comment 2:
Essra Mohawk and Liz Stires were the vocalists from June 25 '81 (Santa Cruz) through Aug 25 '81 (Keystone PA).
I don't list this 8/25/81 show. Should I?

I have just checked on 5/30/81 and 6/25/81, and indeed there are no vocalists on the former and two female backing singers on the latter. So I'd say 6/25/81 is, as far as we currently have evidence, the return of backing vocalists to JGB after 2.5 years of having none.

Comment 2
Julie Stafford replaced Essra Mohawk starting on September 7, 1981 (Concord Pavilion). Stafford and Stiles [sic] were the singers through June 24 '82 (Capitol Theater, Passaic). 

Julie Stafford is completely missed by TJS. I know that she is credited for background vocals on "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" from the Run For the Roses album. I never knew that Essra was in for such a short time, really just a handful of shows. In fact, I am a little bit skeptical of this. I have to go back and check some stuff.

What's more, I know that Liz Stires left after the Mosque (Richmond, VA) show on 6/22/82. She was not there for the rest of the tour. I need to revisit tapes, but a review of the 6/23/82 Stanley Theater (Pittsburgh, PA) show (1) says that there were two keyboard players and one female vocalist.

What's also strange is that an eyewitness to the 10/24/82 River Theater (Guerneville, CA) show, which we know featured the return of female vocalists after the brief four-show interregnum of 10/13 and 10/21-23, thought that "Julie" was one of the singers. This was how Julie Stafford first came to my attention as someone who might have sung onstage with JGB, something which another band member from this time has confirmed.

Upshot, I have some doubts about this particular time period. Corry, can you say more about how you came to this understanding?


Comment 3:
David (Daoud) Shaw was the drummer for the Jerry Garcia Band starting in January '81, and he remained the drummer through Aug 23 '81. [ed: Comment 4 says this was 8/25/81.]

I have always followed TJS and had Shaw in through June 1, 1981, which has always left open the question of who played the June-July-August shows. I am more than happy to fill Shaw's name into the drum slot here, but can I ask again about sourcing?

Comment 3:
The next JGB show [ed: after 8/23/81, implied by comment 2] was Sep 7 '81 at Concord Pavilion. Bill Kreutzmann played drums.For the three other Sept JGB shows (Sep 18 Keystone Berkeley, Sep 19-20 The Stone), Ron Tutt played drums. Tutt also played drums on the tour that started in Palo Alto on Oct 25 and headed East from Oct 31 (Philadelphia) through Nov 19 (Denver). On the Grateful Dead hotline, the tour was billed as "The Return Of Ron Tutt."

It absolutely blows my mind that it was billed this way, and that this has somehow been lost to history insofar as that is represented at TJS, etc. It also reconciles one little factoid which has been bugging me, which is that Ozzie Ahlers has said that Tutt played some shows after he left. These would be them, I guess.

I list Kreutzmann on 9/19/81 at the Stone, though that may have just been me following TJS. I did conclude that "[drummer] is an animal" in my listening notes.

Comment 3:
Bill Kreutzmann returned to the drum chair on Dec 17 '81 at Keystone Berkeley and seems to have held it through Jun '24 82. I have not absolutely confirmed that, however, and it's possible that there were subs at some show (Gregg Errico, Gaylord Birch, etc) or that someone else took over the drums entirely. I do know that Kreutzmann generally played drums at Bay Area shows during this period, because I asked anyone who went to a show. 

Yes, there is an old tape of 12/17/81 with audience chatter suggesting that Kreutzmann is in the house.  And, with you, I assume that there are some discontinuities or non-linearities kicking around from night to night.

So much for bullet-type responses to Corry's comments. What's the big picture?

First, we still have some meaningful gaps in our knowledge of who was on stage in the 1981-1983 period, especially. This is true in terms of drummers and backup singers.

Second, this is probably a case where lots of listening is required. I wish I were more perceptive in terms of being able to hear different drumming and singing styles, but I am not. Sometimes audience chatter and stage talk can reveal a thing or two.

Third, we may never be able to pin it all down. Much as I like knowing, not knowing is OK, too. Keeps some mystery in the whole thing.

Thanks for giving lots of food for thought, Corry!


REFERENCE:
(1) John Allison, "Garcia band hot at the Stanley," Daily Collegian (Pennsylvania State University), June 25, 1982, p. 13.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

HWJG: quick question on January '72 east coast tour

Howard Wales and Jerry Garcia (HWJG) is another one of these things about which I have a great deal to say, but no time to get it down except in dribs and drabs. So be it.

Quick question or two on the January 1972 east coast tour they did, Jerry's first non-GD-related paying gigs in the northeast, AFAIK.

First, slipnut over at The Jerry Site just posted two new gigs, based on credible-looking information at the Mahavishnu Orchestra set lists site. I believe that MO was also on Douglas Records and that MO was opening for HWJG at a number of the shows on the tour. The newly-considered are as follows:

  • Friday, January 28, 1972: Palace Theatre, Providence, RI
  • Saturday, January 29, 1972: University of Buffalo, Buffalo, NY

These gigs seem really plausible. Obviously the Friday-Saturday would be good nights to book. The venues also seem plausible: up to Providence from Boston on 1/26, and another college gig after the Villanova show on Sunday 1/23. Probably medium-sized rooms, probably just about right.

Still, it's surprising that these shows have never come to light (that I know of - prepared to be corrected, of course). East coast stuff tends to be documented pretty well.

(BTW, the MO site also lists a gig on 1/22 at Union College in Schenectady, NY, but doesn't indicate it was opening for HWJG ... I wouldn't be at all surprised if it was, though ...)

Lots more to say, but I'll just ask a second question --or pose a lament-- re: tapes.

The only circulating tape is January 26, 1972 from the Boston Symphony Hall, which was broadcast on WBCN. Tapes also masquerade under the date of 1/25, but they are from 1/26. There is nothing else in circulation from this tour. Indeed, the only other live HWJG in circulation is from the incredible, breathtaking, begging-for-a-volume-two Side Trips, Vol. 1 (Grateful Dead Records, GDCD 4061, October 1998), which I believe to have been recorded on 5/18/70 at the Matrix. Ken Lee, the usher whose masterful, spread balcony recordings from the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, NY are rightfully legendary, seems to have taped at least one of the shows from the Academy of Music in New York, NY on January 21; alas, the Port Chester Resurrection Project, which brought a handful of these (apparently massively numerous) tapes into clear light (some for the first time), has been stalled for several years at least. Please, please, if you know the folks involved, kindly, gently, respectfully ask them if they might be able to preserve those precious historical documents!

I have also long wondered about the Villanova show on 1/23. From the ad below, we see that it was sponsored by WKVU Villanova ... surely there was a broadcast to go alongside? And if so, didn't anyone tape it? Anyone want to check Villanova, starting with the station itself?



All right, enough hectoring. Really just wanted to see if anyone remembers these or other Wales/Garcia gigs in January, 1972!

The Debut of the Last Quartet: The Catalyst, 10/13/82

The Debut of the Last Quartet
 was "Listening Notes: JGB, Wednesday, October 13, 1982, The Catalyst, Santa Cruz, CA"

--http://db.etree.org/shninfo_detail.php?shnid=110792


Some listening notes for this recording. See show and recording notes below.

Jerry Garcia Band
The Catalyst
Santa Cruz, CA
October 13, 1982 (Wednesday)

Recorded live and mastered to CD by N. Hoey with:
2x Sennheiser 441 mics > Sony TC D-5m (Dolby B) (Maxell XLIIS 90)
Nakamichi Dragon (Dolby B decoded) > Apple Powerbook G3-VX Pocket interface-Soundedit editing > Jam > Apogee gold CD > Toast 9 > Xact

--set I (6 tracks, 55:00)--
s1t01. [0:07] How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) [7:47] [0:16]
s1t02. Love In The Afternoon [10:13] % (1) [0:12]
s1t03. Valerie [6:26] [0:08] %
s1t04. Let It Rock [8:09] [0:02] % [0:06]
s1t05. Simple Twist Of Fate [13:19] %
s1t06. //Deal [#8:09] [0:06]

--set II (6 tracks, 59:30)--
sd2t01. [0:09] Sugaree [11:51] % [0:21]
s2t02. I'll Take A Melody [13:50] % [0:12]
s2t03. Dear Prudence [10:26] [0:02] % [0:06]
s2t04. Tore Up Over You [9:55] % [0:03]
s2t05. Tough Mama [7:46] ->
s2t06. Run For The Roses [4:37] (2) [0:14]

Lineup:
Jerry Garcia - el-g, vocals;
John Kahn - el-bass;
Melvin Seals - keyboards;
Greg Errico - drums.

JGMF:
! % = tape discontinuity; // = cut music; / = clipped music; # = truncated timing; -> = continuous music ("guzinta")
! Show: A very rare quartet show (no backing vocals). The fact that this is Wednesday show a week before the next scheduled JGB gig (10/21) in the relatively off-the-beaten-path Catalyst suggests that they are woodshedding a few things.
! **INCORRECT: This is Greg Errico's first show with JGB. INCORRECT** Personnel: Drummer Greg Errico returns for his longest known (as of 2/2011) continuous stint in the JGB, from October 13, 1982 through June 5, 1983. His previous known stint was also in a short-lived quartet version of the JGB, comprising a handful of shows, including a presumably very-profitable east coast swing, in July-August 1980.
! Personnel: I wouldn't be surprised if there weren't rehearsals with some backup singers during the intervening week. Were there "tryouts"?
! Recording: Nice tape. Vocals are very low
! d1t02 (1) JG: "The drummer is Greg Errico. [inaudible]"
! d2t04 Tore Up vocals seem especially low. But this Tore Up is unbelievably good. Go, Jerry, go! (5-min mark jam really nice!).
! d2t05 JG has a hard time with the first verse and some of the other vocals of Tough Mama. Doesn't sound really bad, just doesn't remember the words. Garcia's solos are pretty good. In the melody part he is pretty choppy, some pretty straight chukka-chukka rhythm playing. Remember that the previous and subsequent versions of Tough Mama would be 7/8/77 (with the Keith/Donna/Tutt band), 7/26 and 8/20/81 (who was drumming at these shows?), this one, another one the next week (10/22), and then it would hibernate for 7+ years, making five appearances in 1990 and then disappearing for good.
! d2t06 (2) JG: "Thanks a lot, we'll see ya later."

Thursday, December 23, 2010

JGB: female vocalists, late 1983 east coast tour

update 2016: there is overwhelming evidence that DeeDee Dickerson took part in the late '83 JGB tour. As of 3/23/2016 I am inclining to say that Gloria began with the year 1984, but at this point, and until someone sits down and listens to the backing vocalists pretty closely, that is just speculation.

There is a lot that remains obscure, and much that probably forever will, about the various ladies who joined Garcia onstage as Jerry Garcia Band backing vocalists. The Jerry Site's band lineups page has the best information available, of course, but even there I know there are missing names, problematic dates, etc. etc. The 1981-1985 or so period is especially rife with incomplete or problematic information. (Probably true of drummers as well, but that's a whole other can o' worms!)

I don't have time to tackle the whole issue right now, but it's another very long and involved topic about which there will be much to say. Right now, I just want to ask about the late 1983 east coast tour of the JGB. Jaclyn LaBranch appears to have arrived on 10/24/82 and stayed through the end in 1995. According to TJS, it then went like this

DeeDee Dickerson backing vocals Oct 24, 1982 Jun 5, 1983
Gloria Jones backing vocals Jul 20, 1983 Aug 28, 1984
DeeDee Dickerson backing vocals Sep 15, 1984 Sep 28, 1985
Gloria Jones backing vocals Feb 21, 1986 Apr 23, 1995


By this reckoning, Gloria Jones was the backup singer in late '83.

In an unbelievably erudite analysis of the JGB from 1987 (1), Corry tells us that Gloria replaced Dee Dee on 9/30/83, not 7/20. A detail to be figured out, but still consistent with Gloria being onstage in November-December '83.

I just got thrown off by the ad below for the 11/27/83 show at Constitution Hall in Washington, DC:



DeeDee Dickerson is listed as the second female vocalist. Of course the simplest explanation is that John Scher's outfit had the lineup that had come through in May/June of that same year (on a very, very hot tour, BTW!), which would have included DeeDee and not Gloria.

update: as I said at the top of the post, this has now been explained: DeeDee Dickerson was "on the bus with the Garcia Band" for the November-December 1983 eastern tour. This, of course, modifies understandings of Gloria: is it possible she didn't come in until 1984?

REFERENCE:
(1) Arnold, Corry. 1987. The Jerry Garcia Band: 11 years and still rockin’. Golden Road no. 13 (Winter): 22-26.





























GD, official releases by date

I have extolled the virtues of Matt Scofield's masterful deaddisc site before, but I have just been dabbling in updating my files w/r/t official releases, and his information is incredible:

http://www.deaddisc.com/GDFD_Dead_By_Date.htm

Just thought I'd throw that link out for those who might need it.

I really should update and finalize the same kind of info for Garcia On The Side; guess I will at some point.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Reconstruction: June 8, 1979, venue question

Still can't believe how little I've had to say about Reconstruction. All in due time, I guess.

Anyway, a quickie: I think the correct venue for the June 8, 1979 Reconstruction show is probably the Rio Theater (140 Parker Avenue, Rodeo, CA, 94572). Here's how it looks today:


View Larger Map


This is based on the image below, a calendar item from the Contra Costa Times of June 8, 1979 (p. 37) that lists it that way.


By contrast, I have never seen any firm evidence for a listing at the Rheem Theater. That's how it's listed at TJS, and that's how it is listed on circulating tapes (e.g., shnid 23675). I suspect those two data are not independent of each other. In any case, I'd guess that there was a (perfectly understandable) transposition of Rheem Theater for Rio Theater somewhere along the line.

I didn't crop the listing too closely, for a few reasons. First, there's just other stuff in there and you never know who'll find something interesting. Second, and maybe this is more because I am listening to some Buck Owens, but it reminds me of how "country" some of Contra Costa County still was in 1979. I haven't been to Rodeo in forever and maybe it hasn't changed at all (based on the Google Earth image above, it doesn't look like it!). But most of CCC is completely transformed since that time period, and its interesting to remember what a hinterland it was in the late 70s. Third, I wanted to give a sense of the degraded quality of the microfilms of the Contra Costa Times are a the central CCC library in Pleasant Hill. I certainly don't blame the facility nor, especially, the librarians - there's clearly no money being devoted to that stuff. But this wealth of historic material may just disappear one day due to budget cuts. [soapbox] Please consider donating to your local library! [/soapbox]

Was anyone there? Has anyone ever seen any other hard evidence of this show taking place at the Rheem?

Rio Theater seemed like a weird little spot, which is kind of a microcosm for how Rodeo strikes me. I'd bet more time looking through the Contra Costa Times listings would reveal lots of stuff (at the Rio and elsewhere). Rock Prosopography lists an 8/10/69 show there by Sons Of Champlin and South Bay Experimental Flash, and LLD lists a March 4, 1978 Hunter and Comfort/Peter Rowan gig. Somewhere I have a note or two about the venue. Anyway, I guess it made sense for them to advertise in the Times, which always seemed more East county centered (Lamorinda, Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill, Concord, even Antioch). There are some pretty weird east bay backroads between those towns and Rodeo, and back at that time there wasn't necessarily a whole lot of police presence on them - could be fun to drive a little, see a show, and all that.


Anyway, consider this my argument in favor of changing the venue for this show from Rheem Theater, Moraga, to Rio Theater, Rodeo.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Garcia on Jefferson Airplane, Surrealistic Pillow

Was just pointed to this early 1967 interview (audio only) with Garcia posted at youtube. Not sure I had heard it before, but I think it contains a tidbit or two that are not pinned down yet regarding Garcia's contributions to the Jefferson Airplane blockbuster Surrealistic Pillow. So this is sort of of a piece with my post on Garcia's involvement on Stephen Stills albums.

I am not going to rehearse the whole story of Garcia's involvement in the album. Matt Scofield does an amazing job of it at deaddisc, and I am sure that Jackson and McNally would shed additional light. (I should just make it a practice to refer to them before ever posting on anything.) Let me just summarize what Scofield says we know and what we don't with a few bullet points, some of them direct quotes from deaddisc.

  • Garcia plays guitar on Today and Comin' Back To Me. 
  • Some sources suggest that Garcia also played acoustic guitar on Plastic Fantastic Lover and My Best Friend.  
  • Garcia's contribution to Surrealistic Pillow is not easy to define exactly.
  • His playing contribution is partly documented.
  • Some sources suggest that Garcia was also played on Plastic Fantastic Lover and My Best Friend. To date this remains speculation - any information about documented sources describing other Garcia involvement on this album would be most welcome. 
Well, in this youtube interview we learn the following bits of JG involvement that were unknown (apparently) or in need of confirmation:

  • JG played flattop (presumably acoustic steel) guitar on How Do You Feel (@ ca. 0:58).
  • JG did not play on My Best Friend; Skip Spence did. (@ ca. 1:05)
  • JG's playing on Today and Comin' Back To Me are confirmed (@ ca. 1:09)
  • JG played flattop guitar on Plastic Fantastic Lover (@ ca. 1:11) 
  • re: Someone to Love JG says "The arrangement on the album is more or less my arrangement. I kinda rewrote it."


From the horse's mouth, so to speak.

Now, of course, it's not certain that his parts appeared on the final product or if, as the lack of credits would imply, they ended up on the cutting room floor. But it may well be him, and in any case we might be able to circle in on some more dates when he was in LA with the Airplane if we know the dates on which the numbers including him were recorded.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Listening Notes: GASB, Thursday, June 13, 1974, Keystone, Berkeley (Castelli MAC)

Having just posted on the sbd recording from this show, I'll post my notes from the newly circulating audience recording by Robert Castelli (1644-shnid 110663, 2496-shnid 110798). I'll start with a few analytical points, then produce my listening notes based on the 24/96 version.

  1. Not a ton to say about this, except that this is the same show as the sbd and the same show (and baseline tape) as the "Louis Falanga 6/12/74" tape (shnid 83232).
  2. Garcia is pretty hit or miss with his banjo playing. Some clams (cf. end of Bud's Bounce), some pretty nice solos (Dawg's Bull).
  3. Russian Lullaby, with Garcia on acoustic guitar, is pretty darn excellent. Note the banter by DG about how they helped Garcia out on this song for his latest LP (Compliments). Was the album released by this date? It was awfully close. As I have noted, I have the release date as Friday, 6/21/74.

Listening notes follow.

MOTB Release: 0159 24/96
Release Date: 2010-10-18
Band: Great American String Band
Date: 1974-06-13 (Thursday)
Venue: Keystone
Location: Berkeley, CA
Analog Audience Source: Master Cassettes (MAC)
Medium Stock Brands: Scotch C120
Analog Lineage: ECM 270 >> Sony TC110 >> MAC
Analog Sound Preservation: MAC >> Nakamichi CR7a => Korg MR-1000 >> DSF [1-bit 5.6448 MHz Stereo] >> Korg MR-1000 => Korg AudioGate >> WAV [24/96]
Taped By: Robert Castelli
Transfer By: Bob Menke
Mastering By: Derek McCabe & David Minches
Speed correction by Joe B. Jones

--Set I (8 tracks, 41:29)--
s1t01: [0:11] Colored Aristocracy [3:30] [0:08]
s1t02: (1) [0:12] Cedar Hill [3:53] % talk and band introductions (2) [1:30]
s1t03: (3, 4) [1:43] I'll Be A Gambler If You Deal The Cards [2:37] % [0:51]
s1t04: My Plastic Banana Is Not Stupid//% [3:#22]
s1t05: (5, 6, 7) [1:16] Moonlight Waltz [4:33] [1:12]
s1t06: Swing '42 [5:58] (8) [0:50]
s1t07: Methodist Preacher [6:08] [0:08] % [0:19]
s1t08: Limehouse Blues [3:06] (9) [0:06]

--Set II (10 tracks, 56:17)--
s2t01: tuning [0:01]
s2t02: noodling [0:49] Bud's Bounce [4:22] [0:53] %  [0:03]
s2t03: Dawg's Bull [2:23] [0:10] %
s2t04: banter (10) [1:01]
s2t05: Russian Lullaby [8:27] [0:09] % [0:33]
s2t06: Virgin's Lament  [7:14] [0:11] % [0:29]
s2t07: Swing '42  [10:23] [0:11] % (11)
s2t08: Drink Up and Go Home [3:11] [0:02] %
s2t09: [0:12] Dawg's Rag [8:36] %
s2t10: Sweet Georgia Brown%  [#4:59]

! Band: Great American String/Music Band
! Lineup: David Grisman - mandolin;
! Lineup: Richard Greene - fiddle;
! Lineup: David Nichtern - guitar, vocals;
! Lineup: Jerry Garcia - banjo, vocals ;
! Lineup: Buell Neidlinger ("Flame Bombadine") - bass.
! Guest: Bob Gurland - coronet (s2t02 Bud's Bounce, s2t06 Virgin's Lament, s2t07 Swing '42, s2t10 Sweet Georgia Brown).

Notes:JGMF:
! % = tape discontinuity; # = truncated timing
! s1t02 (1) DN: "Here's one written by David Grisman, our mandolin player, it's called Cedar Hill." RG: "'Say-der' Hill." DN: "'Say-der Hill', I've just been corrected."
! s1t02 RG talking to sound booth: "//mandolin and monitors. Would that be alright? This is David Grisman on the mandolin."
! s1t03 DN: "That last song was written by him. It's called 'Cedar Hill' and it's going to be the title song for a new movie, I'm told?" RG: "Yes, who told you that?"
! s1t03 (3) DN: "It's nice to see you all in such a good mood."
! s1t03 (4) @ 1:36, DG references "page 37", so they are using songbooks.
! s1t04 MPBIS cuts out, just before the end.
!s1t05 (5) DN: "It's called Moonlight Waltz. It's in the key of D-minor.
!s1t05 (6) RG: "That guitar is probably older than anyone in this building." DN The guard at the door told me he was sixty-two. He asked us how old we were when we were coming in. So we asked him how old he was." DG: "That guitar's just a young'un compared to that bass, though."
! s1t05 I infer that Buell Neidlinger is the bassist based on talk about the bass, ca. 1:00
! s1t06 (8) DN: "Django Reinhardt thanks you."
! s1t08 (9) RG: "Thank you. We'll be back in a little while." This is clearly a *set break* announcement, not the end of an early show.
! s2t02 the noodling before Bud's Bounce is kinda neat, evokes for me the feeling of some old black & white 'B' horror film.
! s2t02 JG misses the ending of Bud's Bounce
! s2t03 Dawg's Bull, JG takes a pretty good solo
! s2t04 (10) DG: "[inaudible] He's got this on his latest LP. We helped him out on it."
! s2t04 Russian Lullaby Garcia on acoustic guitar? Sounds great! Really playing nicely.
! s2t07 (11) DN: "I think we're gonna do a song with a moral next." RG: "What are we doing next?" DN: "Yeah, this is a song with a moral. I hope you don't take it too seriously, considering this is a bar and we're not finished yet. It's called 'Drink Up And Go Home.' So, have a slow drink up." JG: "What's the moral?" DN: "The moral is Drink up and go home." DG: "The moral is you lose your audience, if they drink up and go home." That until about track 11:18, then stage setup changes for the rest of the track.
! s2t08 JG lead vox on DUAGH
! s2t10 SGB cuts out

Listening Notes: GASB, Thursday, June 13, 1974, Keystone, Berkeley (sbd)

Low-gen soundboard tape of Thursday, 6/13/74, Keystone, Berkeley (shnid 13768). Note the listing as Great American String Band, though the naming issue is one I am avoiding for now. I'll just go with GASB for this post.

Berkeley Barb, June 7-13, 1974, p. 24.
 A few analytical points:
  1. The setlist issues have been clarified by the Castelli tape, notes on which I'll post before too long. But Limehouse Blues definitely ends set I, and there is indeed a song ("Sweet Georgia Brown") after "Dawg's Rag" cuts out on this tape. The Castelli tape could be used to patch in the start of Colorado Aristocracy, the splice in Swing '42, the end of Dawg's Rag, and all of Sweet Georgia Brown.
  2. As the night before, Garcia plays acoustic guitar on Russian Lullaby. Not sure if, or at which point, he might switch back to banjo.
  3. Bob Gurland on the "mouth trumpet" is interesting.
  4. I may have noted more of the banter on the Castelli recording.
  5. As I noted in my update post on this run of shows, the "Louis Falanga 6/12/74" tape is actually this show, and the same baseline tape as the Castelli aud.

Great American String Band
Keystone
Berkeley, CA
June 13, 1974 (Thursday)

MS? > ? > CD > EAC > SHN
Source CDs from Ryan Shriver; extraction (EAC), .shn encoding (mkwACT), and sector boundary verification (shntool), 12/13/2002.

--Set I (9 tracks, 41:14)--

01. //Colored Aristocracy [#3:12] (1) [0:22]
02. Cedar Hill [3:42] [0:17]
03. Band Introductions (2) [3:02]
04. I'll Be A Gambler If You Deal The Cards [2:30] [1:10]
05. My Plastic Banana Is Not Stupid [3:14] [1:29]
06. Moonlight Waltz [4:22] [1:09]
07. Swing //'42 [5:#50] [2:22]
08. Methodist Preacher [4:17] [0:44]
09. Limehouse Blues [2:58] [0:30]

--Set II (7 tracks, 46:09)--

01. //Bud's Bounce (@) [#1:48] [1:44]
02. Dawg's Bull [2:19] [1:41]
03. Russian Lullaby [8:11] [1:50]
04. Virgin's Lament (@) [6:52] [0:55]
05. Swing '42 (@) [10:20] [2:03]
06. Drink Up And Go Home [3:04] [0:27]
07. Dawg's Rag// [4:32#] [0:18]
[MISSING: Sweet Georgia Brown (@)]

! Band: Great American String/Music Band
! Lineup: David Grisman - mandolin;
! Lineup: Richard Greene - fiddle;
! Lineup: David Nichtern - ac-guitar, vocals;
! Lineup: Jerry Garcia - banjo, ac-guitar, vocals;
! Lineup: Buell Neidlinger (a.k.a. "Flame Bombadine") - ac-bass;
! Guest: Bob Gurland - coronet (s2t01 Bud's Bounce, s2t04 Virgin's Lament, s2t05 Swing '42)

JGMF:
! // = cut song; # = truncated timing
! Don't be frightened by the uncertain lineage--this sounds very nice.  I would not be surprised if this turned out to be MSR > cassette > DAT > CD, like the night previous and as this one sometimes circulates.
! The Castelli tape could be used to patch the start of Colored Aristocracy, the splice in the set I Swing '42, the start of Bud's Bounce, the end of Dawg's Rag, and all of Sweet Georgia Brown.
! mono recording
! d1t01 Colored Aristocracy fades in
! d1t01 (1) DN: "Here's one written by David Grisman, our mandolin player. It's called 'Cedar Hill'." RG: "Say-der Hill." DN: "Say-der Hill, I've just been corrected."
! d1t03 (2) Can we hear some more mandolin on the monitors? Would that be all right?" Movie talk, band introductions same as from Castelli aud. NB introduction of Flame Bombadine, after previous night when he insists on being called Flame.
! d1t07 Swing '42 tiny splice @ 5:41
! d1t09 The Jerry Site has listed Limehouse Blues as starting set II, but I hear continuous applause and tuning from the end of Methodist Preacher into Limehouse Blues, and continuous applause and tuning from Limehouse Blues into the set break announcement.  Also, I would not be surprised if more tunes were played after Dawg's Rag, since it sounds like the band is tuning up for another song. [2010 note: the Castelli tape confirms this: Sweet Georgia Brown closes the show.]
! d2t01 Bud's Bounce fades in
! d2t01 Bud's Bounce tiny splice @ 1:16
! d2t02 @ 3:01 (3) after Dawg's Bull, DN after being told by JG that they'll do Russian Lullaby: "Oh boy, are you in for a treat." DG: "This is an Irving Berlin number. We're gonna get ... we're gonna get Spudboy to render this one for us. ... He's got this on his latest LP. We helped him out on it."
! d2t03 JG on guitar on Russian Lullaby
! d2t03 (4) RG: "Flame likes to call this tune 'Virgin's Lament'."
! d2t07 Dawg's Rag fades out

Listening Notes: JGMS, Wednesday, November 2, 1974, Keystone, Berkeley (Robert Castelli MAC)

Update 12/27/2012: I have pretty much concluded that this is, indeed, Paul Humphrey drumming.

The Mouth of the Beast crowd, led by the inimitable Bob Menke, recently dropped Robert Castelli's master audience cassette recording of November 2, 1974 on an unsuspecting world. I foreshadowed this a little bit in a previous post. I have a few observations, and then reproduce my listening notes below.

  1. The tape is listenable. I am sure the MOTB folks did incredible work with it. Thank you, gentlemen!
  2. The show is pretty darn sloppy. Hate to bring it up, but anyone know anything specific about Merl's history with substances? Some of these Keystone tapes have a real heroin vibe to them.
  3. Fierro plays maracas or the twisty rhythm instrument at turns when he's not blowing. He sounds like he's having fun, but it makes me want to fling myself off the nearest tall building.
  4. The drummer has a very busy style. I tend not to listen/hear for this sort of thing, but I want to compare with the previous show (10/31) and the east coast shows that would follow to check for stylistic differences. The standard (linear) history of the drummers would tell us this is Paul Humphrey, but I think we are learning that even at this point, it could have been anyone on any given night. That said, with the east coast tour starting on the 5th, I'd guess they're warming up Humphrey.

Anyway, notes below.

MOTB Release: 0158 16/44.1
Release Date: 2010-11-03
Band: Jerry Garcia Band
Date: 1974-11-02 (Saturday) [Note: was given as Wednesday]
Venue: Keystone
Location: Berkley, CA
Analog Audience Source: FOB Master Cassettes (MAC)
Medium Stock Brands: MAC = 2 x Maxell UD C-90
Analog Lineage: 1 x Sony ECM 270 >> Sony TC 110 >> MAC
Analog Sound Preservation: MAC >> Nakamichi CR7a => Korg MR-1000 >> DSF [1-bit 5.6448 MHz Stereo] >> Korg MR-1000 => Korg AudioGate >> WAV [24/96]
Taped By: Robert Castelli
Transfer By: Bob Menke
Mastering By: Derek McCabe

--set I (6 tracks, 63:24)--
d1t01: /Neighbor, Neighbor [10:#24] [0:10] %
d1t02: [0:23] Valdez In The Country// [10:40]#
d1t03: Freedom Jazz Dance [10:46] [0:13]
d1t04: % Tough Mama [9:30] [0:04] %
d1t05: [0:33] You Can Leave Your Hat On [11:25] [0:09]
d1t06: % That's A Touch I Like [9:02] (1) [0:05]

--set II (6 tracks, 84:59)--
d2t01: Wondering Why [20:52] ->
d2t02: People Make The World Go Round [3:35] [0:14]
d2t03: % Mystery Train [13:47] [0:03]
d2t04: % /It's Too Late [12:#06] [0:07]
d2t05: Favela [19:24]
d2t06: % /Boogie On Reggae Woman// % [#14:51]

! Band: Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders
! Lineup: Jerry Garcia - el-g, vocals;
! Lineup: Merl Saunders - keyboards, vocals;
! Lineup: Martin Fierro - saxophone, flute;
! Lineup: John Kahn - el-bass;
! Lineup: Paul Humphrey - drums.


JGMF:
! Recording: symbols: % = recording discontinuity; / = clipped song; // = cut song; ... = fade in/out; # = truncated timing; [ ] = recorded event time. The recorded event time immediately after the song or item name is an attempt at getting the "real" time of the event. So, a timing of [x:xx] right after a song title is an attempt to say how long the song really was, as represented on this recording.
! TJS: http://www.thejerrysite.com/shows/show/1014
! db: http://db.etree.org/shn/110552 (this fileset, 16/44); http://db.etree.org/shn/111191 (this fileset, 24/96).
! R: Seed Notes: There are many areas where the mics get overloaded and the sound gets distorted.
! d1t01 NN enters a few notes in
! d1t02 VITC: it takes Merl about 40 seconds to come in with his introductory keyboard part. Needs to tighten up a little bit, though the drummer is a monster. Or is the drummer just ... busy?
! re band name:  "I believe Robert Castelli's mac was labeled as JGB, thus the show title." [jpc3 post to LL, 11/05/10, 04:33:51, http://shnflac.net/details.php?id=332193a21424db9e6014b3192b365516db5a3de9
! Bassist is unconfirmed, but seems almost certainly to have been Kahn. Can anyone tell by listening?
! drummer is uknown. We should compare this drumming with the previous (10/31) and subsequent (11/5/74) shows to see if it's the same drummer. This could very well have been a warmup for Paul Humphrey for the east coast tour. Or Kreutzmann could have sat in this night [we need a post on that!]. Or Tutt could have been around on a Wednesday. We just don't know. Notes on drummer's style: perhaps it's just because I am listening, but he certainly sounds much more active ("busy"?) than I am used to. Update 12/27/2012: I am about 99% sure this is Paul Humphrey.
! d1t02 VITC @ 6-min mark, second percussionist comes in ... maraca or one of those twisty rhythm instruments.
! d1t02 VITC @ 8:52 Merl is doing a recognizable riff
! d1t02 VITC @ 10:22 SQ change, then return
! d1t02 VITC cuts out
! d1t03 FJD ca. 4:20 drop into a little theme, had a chance to do something interesting @ 5:20, but JG comes back to FJD theme.
! d1t03 FJD JG is getting nicely out into a GD-ish vibe around 7:30
! d1t05 YCLYHO start Merl has some seriously funky synth working ... or is it clarinet? I am confused about what I am hearing. It is unique and very weird
! d1t05 skip/glitch @ 2:30; Martin comes in @ 6:29
! (1) JG: "We're gonna take a little break for awhile. We'll be back in a few minutes."
! d2t04 ITL clips in, missing first five notes or so.
! d2t05 Favela maraca player comes back in @ 5:56-6:19, 6:34-9:08. Doesn't sound like much of a player to my ears ... Comes back on cowbell @ 9:20, better, until 13:21.
! d2t05 Favela SQ degradation @ 16:10, half signal or something.
! d2t05 Favela ends with a nice space-out
! d2t06 BORW clips in, not much missing.
! d2t06 BORW is a trainwreck at the start. Merl sounds wrecked.
! d2t06 BORW maraca is back in 4-min mark. Is this Martin? Not sure it ever happens when he's blowing. Switches to conga @ 5:14. Horn @ 8-min mark preceded by end of conga playing.
! d2t06 BORW Merl really isn't bringing it.
! d2t06 BORW maracas back in @ 10:37 ..., BAD maraca playing .... - 13:00, then the horn comes back.
! d2t06 BORW cuts out
! I infer from the patterns that the maraca (or whatever) is Fierro, when he's not blowing.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Listening Notes: Great American String Band (GASB), Lion's Share,San Anselmo, June 12, 1974

**update 20140823 - Elwood 1974 is clear that GASB played the Lion's Share on Wednesday, June 12, 1974. Thanks to Blair Jackson!**

Here are some thoughts based on my notations from this recording (shnid 7331). I'll start with a few analytical points, then reproduce the raw notations below.

  1. It sounds like a single two-set show to me. That fact that Swing '42 was played twice in one night is just an anomaly. They probably had a pretty constrained repertoire worked-up. And the fact that Richard Greene calls them "Great American Music Band" and the pre-set II emcee (Freddie Herrera?) calls them "Great American String Band" just reflects the fluidity of the name in this moment, I think. That'll be a long, separate post at some point.
  2. Buell Neidlinger is Flame Bombadine, to answer Corry's query in comments back in July.
  3. Garcia plays acoustic guitar at least on Russian Lullaby, and possibly also the two songs following it. This version of Russian Lullaby is sublime. I'd have to think harder, but is this Jerry's only documented public performance on acoustic guitar until the 11/18/78 Rambler Room thing?

Notes follow.

Great American String Band
Lion's Share
San Anselmo, CA
June 12, 1974 (Wednesday)
sbd shnid-

MSR > cassette > DAT > CDx1 > EAC > SHN > FLAC.
Source CDs from Ryan Shriver; extraction (EAC), .shn encoding (mkwACT), and sector boundary verification (shntool), 2/13/2002.

--Set I (8 tracks, 39:15)--

s1t01. Colored Aristocracy [3:42] [0:07]
s1t02. Cedar Hill [3:35] (1) [2:21]
s1t03. I'll Be A Gambler If You Deal The Cards [2:19] (2) [1:17]
s1t04. My Plastic Banana Is Not Stupid [3:07] (3) [1:33]
s1t05. Moonlight Waltz [5:51] [0:07]
s1t06. Swing '42 [5:12] (4) [1:04]
s1t07. Methodist Preacher [4:29] (5) [0:55]
s1t08. Limehouse Blues [3:25] (6) [0:08]

--Set II (9 tracks, 51:54)--

s2t01. introduction (7) [0:09], Bud's Bounce [3:05] [0:30]
s2t02. Dawg's Bull [2:27] [0:02] % [0:58]
s2t03. Russian Lullaby [7:06] [0:20]
s2t04. Virgin's Lament [5:29] [0:36]
s2t05. Sheik of Araby [5:31] (8) [0:41]
s2t06. Billy Of The Lowgrounds [3:23] [0:55]
s2t07. Dawg's Rag [6:59] [0:26] % [0:16]
s2t08. Sweet Georgia Brown [4:52] [0:08] % (9, 10) [1:43]
s2t09. Swing '42 [6:06] [0:12]

! Band: Great American String Band
! Lineup: David Grisman - mandolin;
! Lineup: Richard Greene - fiddle;
! Lineup: David Nichtern - guitar, vocals;
! Lineup: Jerry Garcia - Jerry Garcia - banjo, ac-g (s2t03 Russian Lullaby, s2t04 Virgin's Lament), vocals;
! Lineup: Buell Neidlinger (a.k.a. "Flame Bombadine") - bass.

JGMF:
! R: symbols % = tape discontinuity
! R: mono recording.
! venue: has sometimes been listed as Keystone Berkeley, but Elwood 1974 is clear that it's the Share.
! reference:  Elwood, Philip. 1974. From country to jazz – a snap. San Francisco Examiner, June 14, 1974, p. 27
! s1t02 @ 3:41 (1) RG after Cedar Hill: "Thank you. Can we have a little more mandolin in the monitors. We're the Great American Music Band. A nice humble title. ... We'd like to do a song next that's written by our multitalented guitarist, David Nichtern. It's called 'IBAGIYDTC'.
! P: s1t03 Neidlinger is bowing during IBAGIYDTC. This is a great, tight version of that song.
! s1t03 @ 2:58 (2) DN: "Who's doing the sound? Raise your hand? Can you bring up the treble in the guitar, at least in the monitor?"
! s1t04 (3) RG: "Might as well introduce the band. On bass we have, special from Los Angeles, Buell Neidlinger, a fine ...Buell is one of these 'peace, love' cats, with his ... groovy, Buell. David Nichtern on the guitar - he wrote that last tune, also. Jerry Garcia on banjo ... 6-string ... we'll have to turn that mic up, it's a ... softer instrument. David Grisman on mandolin. This is something written by Bill Monroe. [DN: "And, Richard Greene on fiddle."] It's called 'Moonlight Waltz'."
! s1t06 Swing 42 is there a banjo? Jerry gets called for solo in 3-min mark and it sounds an awful lot like acoustic guitar to me?
! s1t06 @ 5:37 (4) DN: "This one's gonna feature Richard and David, and it's called 'The Methodist Preacher'."
! R: s1t07 Some tape glitches after Methodist Preacher
! s1t07 @ 5:05 (5) DG: "I wanna send this out to Lanny. This is for Lanny. My dope dealer."
! banjo def. in Limehouse Blues
! s1t08 (6) RG: "Thank you, we'll be back soon." Definitely a set break announcement.
! s2t01 (7) unknown speaker intro: "[inaudible] everybody else and I guess it's time we get this thing underway. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome back the Great American String Band."
! s2t03 JG on acoustic guitar on Russian Lullaby ... beautiful.
! s2t04 is JG still on guitar for Virgin's Lament?
! s2t04 after Virgin's Lament, hear Jerry say I wanna play banjo, then on banjo for Sheik
! s2t05 (8) RG "We're gonna play an old-timey, kinda mountain ..."
! instruments: JG on banjo for BOTLG, DR
! P: s2t08 Neidlinger bowing again on SGB
! d2t08 @ 5:15 (9) RG: "That's Buell Neidlinger on bass." BN: "No it's not, no it's not. That's a rotten lie. My name is Flame Bombadine. I was named that by Iggy of the Stooges, just prior to his smearing himself with peanut butter. This is a clean set, so we won't talk about any 'rock-n-roll'." RG: "Flame Bombadine?"  BN: "I certainly appreciate your applause. It's the .. it's the, uhhh ... that plus money is what I live on."
! d2t08 @ 6:16 (10) DN: "This tune that we're doing now was written by Django Reinhardt. ... written in the year of Richard Greene's birth." DG: "And yet it's a great tune." DN then asks Jerry "Why don't you say something?" JG: "Fuck it."

Great American String Band: June 12-14, 1974 (update)

**update 20140823 - definitely Lion's Share 6/12/74 and Keystone 6/13-14/74, per Elwood 1974. Thanks to Blair for providing the raw materials!**

So, awhile back I posted on the mid-June 1974 recordings of the Great American Music Band / Great American String Band. I have to leave the name issue alone for now, but for the purposes of this post let me refer to it as the Great American String Band (GASB). My purpose here is to come back to the conclusions I drew in that post, on the basis of new information reflected in Robert Castelli's audience recordings of some of these shows.

Let me start by reiterating what I had previously concluded:
In sum, regarding the mid-June 1974 GASB/GAMB gigs:

  1. despite what appears to be lots of confused and conflicting information on the tapes, I think we have evidence for three separate shows’ worth of music;
  2. despite what’s on the tape labels, I think there were shows at the Lion’s Share on 6/12 and at Keystone Berkeley on 6/13-14.
As I now understand it, I was half-right.

#1 was, effectively, wrong. Until the last month or so, circulating tapes came from only two shows. Serendipitously, Robert Castelli's recordings have recently come into the light thanks to him, Bob Menke and the crew at Mouth of the Beast. Thank you Robert, Bob and MOTB crew for bringing these forward! With these new recordings, there are indeed three distinct nights/pieces in circulation.

This gets me to point #2, which I believe to be correct. I am  99% now 100% sure there were GASB shows at the Keystone, Berkeley on Thursday June 13 and Friday, June 14, 1974. I am about 75%  100% sure there was a gig on June 12, 1974 and that it was at the Lion's Share.

This is what we now have in terms of recordings:
  1. Low-gen soundboard of Wednesday, 6/12/74, "Keystone, Berkeley" (shnid 7331). I now believe that this is a single two-set show (I had previously thought it might be separately billed early and late shows, or different dates entirely).
  2. "Louis Falanga master" audience tape from Jerry Moore's 1st gen reels of "6/12/74, Keystone, Berkeley" (shnid 83232), transferred and shared by Rob Berger. This is a different performance from the identically-dated sbd one just-above;
  3. Low-gen soundboard tape of Thursday, 6/13/74, Keystone, Berkeley (shnid 13768);
  4. Robert Castelli master audience tape of Thursday, 6/13/74, Keystone, Berkeley (1644-shnid 110663, 2496-shnid 110798)
  5. Robert Castelli master audience tape of Friday, June 14, 1974, Keystone, Berkeley, set I (shnid 110664);
Points:

First, most narrowly, the "Louis Falanga" tape of "6/12/74" is actually a tape of 6/13/74. The material is the same material going under that date in both sbd and, now, from Robert Castelli's master audience cassettes. Indeed, the Castelli is the same underlying recording as the "Falanga"; whether Louis was patched out of Castelli's setup, or vice versa, or whether one or the other is a copy of the other or the one, remains a mystery to me. Anyway, this stuff is 6/13/74. The other two tapes of this material, from separate sources but with the same dates, trump whatever was written on tape labels at some point in history.

Second, we now see that there are three distinct pieces: 6/12/74 (two sets) from the soundboard, 6/13/74 (two sets) from soundboard and the Castelli/Falanga audience tape(2), and set I of 6/14/74 from the Castelli audience tape.

Third, there shouldn't be much doubt about the Thursday-Friday, June 13-14 shows at Keystone. Here's the ad I posted earlier:


Castelli's tapes have pretty clear provenance and capture these shows, including the Good Old Boys sets. Not sure why he didn't get set II of the Friday night (6/14) show. Anyway, there shouldn't be any doubt about 6/13-14 at the Keystone, Berkeley. TJS should eventually be updated to reflect the 6/14/74 gig.

Fourth point, while I think the date is probably right, I have some questions about the venue on 6/12/74. The tapes say Keystone, and when I poked around these dates I didn't see any contradictory listings:



I didn't get anything listed at the Lion's Share from this timeframe, either:

I had said in my earlier posting that Richard Greene's datebooks showed him at the Lion's Share on 6/12/74, and this was my main reasoning for believing in this date. But now I can't find any notes on that and I am doubting myself. If I can reconfirm that detail, that would persuade me to list this material as from the Share. Barring that, and for now, all we have to go on, really, is the tape. Nothing contradicts it, but nothing else supports it. Update: Elwood 1974 confirms it was the Share on 6/12.

There are other bits and pieces relevant to all of this that would come from a more detailed reporting of the tapes, but let me follow up, first, by just posting some listening notes with scattered analysis. I'll try to round it all up afterword (no promises).

Eventually, I'll get to the name. I think I am just going to have to live with some non-linearity with that one, so I am pre-mourning the loss of the modern dream.

Reading Notes: “Dead Awaken: New Albums, Label, Tour,” Rolling Stone 163 (June 20, 1974), p. 28.

“Dead Awaken: New Albums, Label, Tour,” Rolling Stone 163 (June 20, 1974), p. 28.

This unsigned, one-column thing datelined from San Rafael is chock full of tidbits. I'll just throw them out and comment on them ad seriatim.

Gives 5/24/74 release date for Rum Runners and Garcia [Compliments], 6/21 for GD’s Mars Hotel.

I have Compliments out on Friday 6/21/74 and Mars Hotel on 6/27,  but those dates are not reliably sourced. Anyone have good solid dates?

“’Round Records,’ said Ron Rakow, head of both labels, ‘is a separate entity. Grateful Dead Records was designed to distribute just Dead product. We did this for maximum safety for the Dead.’ In other words, minimum risk.”


So the GD forced Garcia to create Round for his solo projects? (See my post on Garcia and Round here.)  That is a *very* interesting angle. (And the possibility that a bunch of them might go on to sink the label with their non-selling "product" would not be without irony.) Makes me think ...
Rakow: “Even a Garcia album is more high-risk than a Grateful Dead record. Some of the Dead don’t want a risk. Garcia likes risks, likes worries, so he can always be on the edge.”

Same theme as above, but this is very interesting to me. One thing it shows is how committed Garcia was to the GD. Even though the GD couldn't exist without him, they felt strong (and perhaps ungenerous?) enough to get him to shoulder his own risk *in addition to* radically lessening their own (on the GD side). I originally wrote "with friends like these ...", but having slept on it I guess I understand. If everyone but Jerry thought Rakow was a snake, and that seems clearly to have been the case, then it seems they were ensuring risk against Rakow, not against Jerry. Probably wise.
“[Rakow:] ’When Garcia wanted to do his LP, he and I got together with Jon McIntyre [sic] (the Dead’s manager) and Anton Round, an old rich guy I don’t know much about.’ … And another label was born.”
Does anyone know anything about Anton Round? I just looked through McNally's LST and didn't see him, which is surprising given how comprehensive McNally is (through the hiatus, anyway). Might this have been either a nom de guerre of Rakow, like his criminal alter ego? Or maybe some sort of associate of Rakow?

Anyway, lots of random bits and pieces floating around ...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Swain's Music Store, Palo Alto, CA

I don't do much pre-GD, but Andy Childs's lengthy history of the GD in ZigZag in October 1973 mentions a Palo Alto music store, called Swain's, which I don't remember hearing about before. I need to read the whole piece more closely, and wonder how well it has stood up as a work of history. Anyway, since I have done a few pre-GD posts, and since LLD and Cryptical Developments both have local histories, I thought I might put this out there.
Later on towards the end of 1962 [Pigpen] got a part-time job at Swain's Music Store in Palo Alto, and it was there more than anywhere else that the Grateful Dead seed began to grow. ... Now Swain's Music Store, where Pigpen was working, was run by a guy named Troy Weidenheimer who had ideas about forming his own rock'n'roll band. He of course knew Pigpen, Pigpen knew Garcia, Garcia knew Kreutzmann, and so … a short-lived band called the Zodiacs was formed. Troy played lead guitar, Pigpen was on harp. They used a wide selection of drummers but most of the time it was Bill Kreutzmann, and Garcia would sometimes join in on bass guitar when he wasn't involved with his own bluegrass groups.

Sorry, no page number available - this comes from an electronic text copy.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Birth of the Great American Music Band

Editor's Note: I should point out that the timing of this post was inspired by Corry, who has recently posted on the misty origins of OAITW and who earlier had posted on what might have been the "public debut of a very important band," the GAMB. While I think this post casts a different light on the "public debut" question, I am of course indebted to Lost Live Dead!


I am going to offer and try to defend the hypothesis, just articulated, that the Great American Music Band / Great American String Band was "born", as recognized by David Grisman at least, on Saturday, March 9, 1974 at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, CA. I will try to post separately on the convoluted tale of the band's name.

Let me start by reproducing a calendar listing for the show from the Hayward Daily Review:


We see the following two listings:
  1. Saturday, March 9, 1974: Richard Greene, David Grisman, Vassar Clements and Skunk Cabbage; Great American Music Hall, SF, CA; two shows.
  2. Sunday, March 10, 1974: Richard Greene, David Grisman, Vassar Clements and Skunk Cabbage, Great American Music Hall, SF, CA (NB 6 p.m. to midnight)
I believe the first listing is effectively the first GAMB show, and the second is the first with Garcia. Let me lay it out for you.

First, let's recapitulate David Grisman's various tellings of the birth of GAMB.

A gig came up at the Great American Music Hall which was supposed to be Richard Greene and Vassar Clements, each with his own band. Richard asked me to play with him, so we got Eric Thompson on guitar, Sandy Rothman on banjo, and Bing Nathan on bass. Some promoter got a local group called Skunk Cabbage to back Vassar, and on the afternoon of the opening night both bands played a radio show. After Skunk Cabbage heard us play they said “We can’t play with Vassar; he belongs with you guys.” … So they opened the show for us, and we had Richard and Vassar and called it the Great American Fiddle Band. The second night Jerry Garcia played banjo, and Sandy Rothman switched to guitar. Bing Nathan couldn’t make the second night, so Taj Mahal played upright bass. Another musical friend of mine, David Nichtern … had been interested in my stuff … So he showed up the second night (ref 1, p. 34).

Richard Greene and I had a gig at the Great American Music Hall with Vassar Clements and his band, so we called it The Great American Fiddle Band (ref 2, p. 26).

The first quote establishes that Greene, Vassar and Grisman were at the GAMH together for two nights, with Vassar slated to open for Skunk Cabbage. That looks an awful lot like the March 9-10 listings. He also says that Garcia didn't show up until the second night, which is consistent with Jerry and Merl being in Berkeley on the Saturday night (March 9th).

Second, note the 6 pm - midnight billing on Sunday night. This was clearly something special.

Third, I have independent evidence that Grisman and Vassar were interacting with Jerry at precisely this time. There was a Round Records recording session at Columbia Studios, San Francisco, on Friday, March 8, 1974, from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. involving Vassar and Grisman working on "Lonesome Town", "Indiana," and "Russian Lullaby". The first and last of these appeared on Garcia's Compliments, while the middle one is probably "Back Home in Indiana," which appeared as a Compliments outtake on the incredible All Good Things boxset.

Fourth, there is the tantalizing little 7-minute snippet of Stinson Beach rehearsals featuring David Grisman, Richard Greene, Jerry Garcia, Eric Thompson, Bill Wolfe, and maybe others, that is dated March 8, 1974. They work through "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "Limehouse Blues," both of which were staples in the (too brief!) GAM/SB repertoire. Related, there is independent reason to believe that there are four reels' worth of materials labeled "Grisman's House", with this date, in the Garcia vault.

Fifth--and this to me is just the sweetest batch of evidence-- there is a fascinating set of fly on the wall recordings, a few hours' worth, labeled only "Bluegrass at Grisman's," that I think is relevant here. It's a mix of material, including some work-throughs of OAITW material (presumably from ca. early 1973) and some other stuff that sounds more like OAITW. But there's at least 20 minutes, and maybe more, of stuff that is clearly proto-GAM/SB, including very early run-throughs of Grisman's (eventually, but not yet!) amazing "Dawg's Rag." Sandy Rothman seems to be present for some of this, and Grisman, Greene and Garcia are omnipresent.

Now, here is the real kicker. At one point during this GAM/SB-ish material, we have the following exchange between what sounds like an older southerner and Garcia.

Older southerner: "Jerry, everybody, I'll see you bright and early tomorrow. You're playin' a gig tomorrow night, then?"
JG: "Yes I am, yeah."
Older southerner: "Sunday you'll be there."
JG: "Yeah, Sunday I'll be there."

Ladies and gentlemen, I am prepared to call it QED on this basis. This material is from March 8, 1974. Grisman and Vassar do a morning studio session for Garcia for a little payday. Then everyone heads over to Grisman's in Stinson Beach. We already know, from point three above, that a bunch of guys are playing proto-GAMB in Stinson Beach, and uncirculated tapes suggest it's at Grisman's house. It sounds for all the world like someone's living room, including side conversations, phone calls, etc. The southerner gives us days of the week: "tomorrow", a Saturday, when Jerry cannot be there because he has a gig, and then a Sunday when he will be there. Those are clear references to March 9 and March 10. When we circle back to Grisman's account (first quote above), it all fits together perfectly. Note that he mentions both Sandy Rothman and Eric Thompson as being involved with the GAMH gigs. Well, here we have Sandy with these guys on the "Bluegrass at Grisman's" recording, and Thompson listed on the 7-minute snippet that David Gans shared with the world on the amazing (if perhaps presently a bit troubled) KPFA. Way too much coincidence not to be correct, IMO.

In conclusion, the evidence overwhelmingly points in favor of the proposition that GAMB was born on March 9, 1974, and Garcia first joined in on March 10th.

One last thing: it sounds like it was a helluva a great show. One account based on interviews with Grisman refers to the legendary 1974 GAMH gig with a "monumental jam" featuring Grisman, Greene, Vassar, Garcia, Fierro, Nichtern, and “from these jams, the Great American String Band was born" (ref 3). Having Fierro in with those guys would have been interesting, to say the least. I hope he just brought the flute and left the sax at home! I have also heard tell of an incredible rendition of "Wild Horses" played by the GAM/SB with Sandy Rothman around this time frame, taped by Betty but with no tape in circulation, which I believe must be from this night. Sounds like fun! Set time capsule ..

REFERENCES:
  1. Forte, Dan. 1979a. David Grisman: Taking the Mandolin Beyond Tradition. Frets 1, 1 (March): 30-36.
  2. Juanis, J.C. 1992. Dawgwood Revisited. Relix 19, 6 (December): 25-27. 
  3. Sharpe, Ted. 1977. David Grisman: Mad, Marvelous Mandolinist. Blue Sky Review no. 7: unpaginated.

March 1974

I am working around an important (to me!) post about the birth of the Great American Music/String Band, and want to lay some foundation. So let me start by mapping the known-to-me Jerry Garcia engagements from March, 1974, and just making a few notes.

  1. Friday, March 1, 1974: JGMS @ Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, CA (TJS)
  2. Saturday, March 2, 1974: JGMS @ Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, CA (TJS)
  3. Friday, March 8, 1974: Rehearsal at Grisman's house, Stinson Beach, CA. David Grisman, Richard Greene, Jerry Garcia, Eric Thompson, Bill Wolfe, maybe others. (7-minute recording info
  4. Saturday, March 9, 1974, Keystone, Berkeley (TJS | sbd recording info)
  5. Thursday, March 14, 1974, Keystone, Berkeley (TJS).There is a setlist for this at the Jerry Site, and also a note that "E.W. Wainwright replaces Bill Kreutzmann on drums". Note that there's an as-yet unnamed instrumental in the setlist. All of this information is from Betty tapes preserved and notated by Rob Eaton, but not in general circulation.
  6. Friday, March 22, 1974, Chateau Liberté, Los Gatos, CA. (TJS | LLD post comments, including venue information)
  7. Saturday, March 23, 1974: GD at Cow Palace.
  8. Saturday, March 30, 1974: GD Mars Hotel sessions at CBS Studios, 829 Folsom Street, SF, CA.

So, why do I list this stuff here?

First, I think there was no March 1 show, at least not at GAMH, as listed (with some caveating) at the Jerry Site. Second, re March 2 at the Great American Music Hall (GAMH) in San Francisco, TJS has a listing based on a "Jerry & Merle" billing in the L.A. Free Press newspaper.  I think I can do this one better. Both of these points emerge from the scan below:



As you can see, Vassar Clements and Skunk Cabbage are playing the GAMH on March 1, while JGMS are there on March 2. Note, too, that Jerry and Merl weren't at the Keystone, either. So I doubt a March 1 show happened (though they could have been at the Lion's Share, I suppose).

Third, re: Vassar, we see him here playing 3/1 with Skunk Cabbage at the GAMH. I had noted in my post on the Skunk Cabbage set at the GSCBF that Vassar played around with them. Here are a few other dates I have managed to pick up for Skunk Cabbage, with and w/o Mr. Clements:
  1. Sunday, 11/18/73: The Cashews, Skunk Cabbage; New Orleans House, Berkeley, CA; (note Rowan Brothers billed there on 11/20, FWIW)
  2. Monday, 11/26/73: Juice, Jango, Skunk Cabbage, and others; Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA.
  3. Tuesday, December 11, 1973: Byron Berline, Country Gazzette, Vassar Clements, Skunk Cabbage; Great American Music Hall, SF, CA.
  4. Friday, March 1, 1974: see above.
  5. Sunday, March 3, 1974: Skunk Cabbage with Vassar Clements and Western Union; Keystone, Berkeley, CA.
  6. Saturday, March 9, 1974: Richard Greene, David Grisman, Vassar Clements and Skunk Cabbage; Great American Music Hall, SF, CA; two shows.
  7. Sunday, March 10, 1974: Richard Greene, David Grisman, Vassar Clements and Skunk Cabbage, Great American Music Hall, SF, CA (NB 6 p.m. to midnight)

Fourth, finally, and by way of preview, ladies and gentlemen, I believe the above March 9th listing was the birth of the Great American Music/String Band, with Jerry Garcia joining in on the 10th. I'll post soon, hopefully tonight, on why I think the GAM/SB was born on this night.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Great American Music Band: Wednesday, April 24, 1974, Arlington Theatre, Santa Barbara, CA

Clearly identified as the Great American Music Band by the emcee at the end, this is the quartet of Grisman (mandolin), Greene (fiddle), Nichtern (ac-guitar, vocals) and Taj Mahal (ac-bass). The performance doesn't light me up the way some of them do. The tape, via 'fstop',  is quite nice, though I'd guess that the Will Boswell/Matt Smith version may be even better. I'd have to do a side-by-side comparison. No Garcia Content, but since I mentioned this in GSCBF9 I thought I'd lay this out here.

Arlington Theatre is amazing, by the way. I saw the Allman Brothers there in the early 90s and it was one of the finer musical experiences I have had.

Great American Music Band
Arlington Theatre
1317 State Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101

April 24, 1974 (Wednesday)
49 min sbd tape via fstop

(19 tracks, 49:09)
--main set (16 tracks, 44:21)--
gamb1974-04-24-fstop-t01. crowd and tuning [0:31]
gamb1974-04-24-fstop-t02. Katy Hill [2:39] [0:37] (1)
gamb1974-04-24-fstop-t03. Limehouse Blues [3:11] [0:11]
gamb1974-04-24-fstop-t04. banter (2), tuning [0:42]
gamb1974-04-24-fstop-t05. I'll Be A Gambler If You'll Deal The Cards [2:27] [0:14]
gamb1974-04-24-fstop-t06. banter (3), tuning, banter (4) [1:25]
gamb1974-04-24-fstop-t07. Swing '42 [4:46] [0:21]
gamb1974-04-24-fstop-t08. Dawg intro (5), song intro [0:26]
gamb1974-04-24-fstop-t09. Dawg's Bull [2:02] [0:10]
gamb1974-04-24-fstop-t10. "Tex" Mahal introduction [0:37]
gamb1974-04-24-fstop-t11. Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms [2:56] [0:42]
gamb1974-04-24-fstop-t12. David Nichtern intro, song intro [0:45]
gamb1974-04-24-fstop-t13. My Plastic Banana Isn't Stupid [3:13] [1:06]
gamb1974-04-24-fstop-t14. Midnight At The Oasis [3:46] [0:18]
gamb1974-04-24-fstop-t15. Dawg's Rag [5:38] [1:22]
gamb1974-04-24-fstop-t16. Sweet Georgia Brown  [3:50] [0:32] %
--encore (3 tracks, 4:47)--
gamb1974-04-24-fstop-t17. pre-encore crowd and tuning [0:10]
gamb1974-04-24-fstop-t18. Orange Blossom Special [4:08] [0:09]
gamb1974-04-24-fstop-t19. outro (6) [0:19]

! band: Great American Music Band
! lineup: David ("Dawg") Grisman - mandolin;
! lineup: Richard Greene - fiddle;
! lineup: David Nichtern - guitar, vocals;
! lineup: Taj ("Tex") Mahal - bass.

JGMF:
! Recording: symbols: % = recording discontinuity; / = clipped song; // = cut song; ... = fade in/out; # = truncated timing; [ ] = recorded event time. The recorded event time immediately after the song or item name is an attempt at getting the "real" time of the event. So, a timing of [x:xx] right after a song title is an attempt to say how long the song really was, as represented on this recording.
! TJS: n/a
! db: http://db.etree.org/lookup_show.php?shows_key=389520
! venue: http://jerrygarciasbrokendownpalaces.blogspot.com/2011/09/arlington-theater-1317-state-st-santa.html
! map: http://goo.gl/maps/U3Bfh
! R: fstop's unknown (low) gen sbd reel > CD > EAC > CD Wave > TLH (16/44 FLAC8).
! song: "Katy Hill" (gamb1974-04-24-fstop-t02): a traditional popularized by Bill Monroe (Allan).
! gamb1974-04-24-fstop-t02. (1) RG: "OK, here's a little something Hot Club style. ... Django Reinhardt ... It's called Limehouse Blues."
! song: "Limehouse Blues" (gamb1974-04-24-fstop-t03): (Lyrics: Douglas Furber; Music: Phillip Braham) (Allan).
! gamb1974-04-24-fstop-t04. (2) RG: "I'd like to introduce David Nichtern on guitar. He's also a very prolific and successful songwriter, and this is one of his songs. It's called 'I'll Be A Gambler If You'll Deal The Cards'."
! song: "I'll Be A Gambler If You'll Deal The Cards" (gamb1974-04-24-fstop-t05): I am using the title as given here, on the 6/13/74 GASB show, and perhaps another time or two. Deaddisc calls it "I'll Be A Gambler", noting "Registered title is 'I'll Be A Gambler'". I am not sure if, by this, the curator means has registered it that way, or it's officially registered that way somewhere.
! gamb1974-04-24-fstop-t06. (3) RG: "This is something called 'Swing 42', named after the very successful year of my birth."
! gamb1974-04-24-fstop-t06. (4) requests for soundman
! gamb1974-04-24-fstop-t07. R: Swing 42 SQ anomalies @ 2:45.
! gamb1974-04-24-fstop-t08. (5) RG: "This here's Dawg. I'd like to present Dawg. [Grisman laughs] Dawg is permanently trapped in The Zone."
! song: Dawg's Bull (gamb1974-04-24-fstop-t09): a Grisman instrumental, released in 1979 on Hot Dawg.
! gamb1974-04-24-fstop-t15. R: Dawg's Rag @ 2:40 some overload, mostly from the bass.
! gamb1974-04-24-fstop-t16. R: SGB more bass overload
! gamb1974-04-24-fstop-t16. P: SGB is all-instrumental, whereas on other occasions (4/20?) Taj also took vocals.
! gamb1974-04-24-fstop-t19. historical: emcee twice calls the band "Great American Music Band", including in note (6), the outro.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Marmaduke and Jerry: unknown Bay Area "resort", ca. mid-June 1969

Gene Sculati, in a very insightful little piece written ca. mid-June 1969 (1): Recently “a local resort featured Dead accomplice Marmaduke singing country (and playing guitar) to the accompaniment of Jerry Garcia on pedal steel guitar.”

Anyone know of a Marmaduke-Jerry gig, ca. mid-June 1969, at a resort?

REFERENCE
(1) Sculati, Gene. 1969. What’s Become of the Grateful Dead? Jazz & Pop 8.9 (September): 22-24.

When did Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders first play together?

One of Garcia's most enduring, important and original musical partnerships outside the Grateful Dead was with Merl Saunders. From about Fall of 1970 through mid-1975, Merl and Jerry played steadily in various configurations that began as loose jam sessions with fluid personnel at the Matrix to the more institutionalized (named! east coast touring!) 1975 outfit Legion of Mary. After that band ended abruptly in July 1975 (a story that needs to be discovered and told), they parted ways for a few years and came back together in the soul-jazz-disco-funk trip Reconstruction from January to September, 1979. Things get more sporadic after that, with Jerry contributing to some Twilight Zone soundtracks (Saunders was musical director for the mid-80s revival of the TV show) and then to four tracks on Saunders's new agey Blues From the Rainforest. Saunders also played an important role in helping Jerry recover his musical dexterity after his 1986 coma. All of this is stuff that I plan on covering in more detail.

For now, the basic question: when did they first play together?

In a ca. 1995-6 interview included on the DVD release of  The End of the Road: The Final Tour '95 (Monterey Video DVD 313302), Merl indicates that he went down to Golden Gate Park and played with the Grateful Dead sometime in the late 1960s. I can't offer any precision or evaluation - it's certainly possible, but is presumably utterly unknowable from this vantage point unless someone's diary or some old photographs or some other account turns up.

The Jerry Site's first listing for "Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders" is for October 12, 1970, though if you go to the band summary for that "artist" entry it lists the first show as 12/1/70. slip_not added some Merl content (a quote about he and Jerry came to play together) on the 9/7/70 Jerry Garcia & Friends entry, but there's no obvious ex ante reason for that information to be attached to that date.

So we are in a bit of a quandary, but I have a few data points to offer.

My MO here is to examine gigs and studio sessions that might have been relevant to understanding when Jerry and Merl started together. For gigs, I am especially interested in looking at the evolution of the Monday Night Jam sessions at the Matrix, since the standard story is that Howard Wales dropped out at some point and Merl joined in. It may not have been a clean/linear break, but the data might help. For sessions, I am interested because of the Merl quote listed under 9/7/70 TJS listing linked above. There seems to have been a Heider's connection where the GD, the whole PERRO crowd (Crosby and the Jeffersons), Brewer & Shipley, and Danny Cox (the latter two of whom were under the same management) were jumping into each others' sessions to an astonishing degree.

Anyway, here are what I consider some relevant data.

  • 4/20/70: Jerry Garcia and Howard Wales [double-check]; Matrix; "Scenedrome" (calendar listing), Berkeley Barb, April 17-23, 1970, p.6.
  • 4/27/70: Jerry Garcia, Howard Wales, & Friends; Matrix; display ad; listed as jam session in Scenedrome; Berkeley Barb, April 24-May 1, 1970, p. 8.
  • 5/18/70: Jerry Garcia and Howard Wales [double-check]; Matrix; calendar listing, Good Times v.3 n.20, 5/15/70, p. 24. I believe this is the show that was released as Side Trips, vol 1. (Aside: "Thank you, sir. May I have another?")
  • 5/25/70: Howard Wales, Jerry Garcia & Friends; Matrix; Scenedrome listing in Berkeley Barb, May 22-28, 1970, p. 18. Doubtful JG was there, given GD show in the UK the night before.
  • 6/1/70: Jerry Garcia and Howard Wales [double-check]; Matrix; calendar item in Good Times v.3 n.22 (5/29/70), p. 24.
  • 6/7/70: this appears not to have happened.
  • 6/8/70: Jerry Garcia and Howard Wales; Matrix; [source suppressed]
  • 6/15/70: Jerry Garcia and Howard Wales [double-check]; Matrix; calendar item in Good Times v.3 n.24 (6/12/70), p. 24.
  • 6/22/70: Jerry Garcia and Howard Wales [double-check]; Matrix; calendar item in Good Times v.3 n.25 (6/19/70), p. 23.
  • 7/6/70: Jerry Garcia and Howard Wales [double-check]; Matrix; calendar item in Good Times v.3 n.27 (7/3/70), p. 17.
  • 7/15/70: the first "PERRO" session at Heider's that I can document; Kantner session working on "Starship" and "Old Man" for what would become Blows Against The Empire; this and all related listings provided below show Jerry present [source suppressed]
  • 7/17/70: as above, but working on "Mau Mau";
  • 7/20/70: Howard Wales and Friends listed at Matrix for this Monday and the next night (Tues., 7/21/70); calendar item in Good Times v.3 n.28 (7/17/70), p. 18; no mention of Garcia.
  • 7/21/70: as above.
  • 7/22/70: Kantner session at Heider's ("Mau Mau"; "Together"); see 7/15/70.
  • 8/6/70-9/16/70: I have the GD's American Beauty sessions at Heider's from these dates; source: McNally, LST, p. 378.
  • 8/10/70: Kantner session at Heider's ("Starship"; "Old Man"); see 7/15/70.
  • 8/11/70: as above ("Starship"); see 7/15/70.
  • 8/21/70: Brewer & Shipley session at Heider's, for what would become Tarkio; Garcia listed ("50 States of Freedom"; "Oh Mommy"); [source suppressed]
  • 8/24/70: Garcia & Wales [double-check] Monday night Matrix session; calendar item in Good Times v.3 n.33 (8/21/70), p. 21.
  • 9/7/70: Jerry Garcia & Friends; Matrix; calendar item in Good Times v.3 n.35 (9/4/70), p. 16.
  • 9/8/70: PERRO jams at Heider's: JG, Jorma, Jack, Kreutzmann ("Jam"); source: PERRO tapes.
  • 9/14/70: Jerry Garcia & Friends; Matrix; calendar item in Good Times v.3 n.36 (9/11/70), p. 16.
  • 10/12/70: "Jerry Garcia, Merl Saunders and Friends"; Matrix; based on newspaper advertisement as listed at TJS; first TJS listing for Garcia & Saunders; spurious JG listing since GD were playing in Paterson, NJ.
  • 10/13/70: as above, though GD had no gig until 10/16 in Philly, and JG could well have flown home.
  • 10/14/70: as above.
  • 10/19/70: Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders; Matrix; calendar item in Good Times v.3 n.41 (10/16/70), p. 20; in the past we would have discounted this, since GD was in Minneapolis on 10/18 and Washington, DC, on 10/23, but I have increasingly come around to the view that he flew home more often than I might have thought, and likely as not played a gig whenever a night was open around this time. So I buy that this could have happened.
  • 10/26/70: Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders; Matrix; calendar item in Good Times, v.3 n. 42 (10/23/70), p. 14. GD were between St. Louis (10/24) and Stony Brook (10/30), but on the logic just above I believe this could have happened.
  • 11/1/70 or 11/2/70: Janis's wake. Not relevant, just wanted to keep the record straight.
  • 11/2/70: I have a Jerry Garcia & Friends listing for the Harding Theater, but no source info. We have discussed this a little bit, but I am not sure where things stand.
  • 11/3/70: PERRO/If I Could Only Remember My Name (IICORMN) session at Heider's ("Cowboy Movie"); based on Steve Silberman "Crosby Connection" show played on KPFA, ca. 2001.
  • 11/3/70: Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders; Matrix; note that this is a Tuesday; calendar item in Good Times v.3 n.43 (10/30/70), p. 16.
  • 11/4//70: PERRO session at Heider's; no source information listed.
  • 12/1/70: Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders; Matrix; note: Tuesday; calendar item in Good Times v.3 n.47 (11/26/70), p. 20).
  • 12/2/70: Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders; Matrix; listed at TJS based on Joey Newlander newspaper research (Berkeley Barb).

Thatsalotta data, I know, but I wanted to put it out there for you all to see.

What do I infer from all of this about the titular question? The pivot looks to be right around the time of the 8/21/70 Brewer & Shipley session. (Full disclosure: in personal email, Corry played up the Brewer & Shipley connection to Danny Cox, and thence to Merl; so credit should go to Corry for helping me see the break in the series.) There's only one Wales listing a few days later, and then come the "Jerry Garcia & Friends" listings. I would guess that Merl became a "Friend" at the 9/7/70 Matrix show (otherwise why not list Wales, as they had all year?), but there is no smoking gun in these data. Merl's name doesn't appear in listings until 10/12/70, which has the drawback of being a listing known to conflict with GD performance 3000 miles away. But it certainly suggests that Merl was definitely around by this time.

I believe I spoke with Danny Cox, and he doesn't have any old paperwork regarding his sessions at Heider's. I have not tried to contact the Brewer & Shipley people, but that might be a better lead.

In sum, in answer to the question of when Jerry and Merl first played together (qua Jerry & Merl), I'll say September 7, 1970. And maybe walk back and say that slip_not may know a thing or two. ;-)