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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Where was Garcia on July 26 or 29, 1973?

My previous post contemplated where Garcia was on July 4, 1973, based on ads published in a bluegrass magazine. This post does precisely the same thing for July 26 or 29, 1973.

As you can see, Jerry Garcia is listed among the acts appearing at the First Annual West Virginia Peace, Love, Blues and Bluesgrass [sic] Folk Music Festival (hereafter FAWVPLVVFMF), to be held at Aunt Minnie's Farm and Country Road Park, Rt. No. 33 and 119 (Stumptown) in Glenville, WV on July 26-29, 1973.

Note the pitch to the young/"freak" crowd with the framing, and presumably also through the booking of such acts as the New Riders of the Purple Sage (who would appeal to that sort). There's a lot to say about that, but this is not the place.

Garcia is also billed (as is Vassar Clements) on a handbill held in the Southern Folklife Collection Festival Files (#645) at UNC Chapel Hill.

Did Garcia play this festival, presumably with Old and in the Way?

The 26th and 29th are possible dates, on either end of the GD's performances at Watkins Glen on the 27th and 28th. I'll address them in reverse order.

Re the 29th, Blair Jackson's Garcia ((1), p. 244) says that Jerry appeared in the Burlington County Court (Mount Holly, NJ) on the 29th, in connection with his March 17, 1973 drug bust on the NJ Turnpike (2). But the 29th was a Sunday, and a contemporary article (3) published on the 31st says that he was in court on the 30th. It also says that "Garcia was brought to the hearing … in a helicopter from the Watkins Glen site", which confuses me a little bit unless the GD stayed over at Watkins Glen on the 29th. I doubt they did that, so the record seems a little conflicted. My hunch is that Sunday the 29th would have been an open day for Garcia to play a bluegrass festival, still on the east coast, and indeed that if he had a court date on the 30th it might be a perfect opportunity for him to do so. So I consider the 29th possible.

The 26th also seems possible, though my instinct tells me that it would have been less likely for him to have played a Thursday just prior to Watkins Glen than a Sunday just after it. Not sure why, but there it is.

All of that said, I just don't think this happened, for roughly the same reasons as were adduced against a July 4th festival appearance.First, ads from the next month in Bluegrass Unlimited no longer list Garcia - they show, as did later ads for the 4th, Don Reno and Bill Harrell in that spot. So it seems awfully likely that the Reno-Harrell billing was lined up when Garcia/OAITW dropped out, and this for both July events.

Second, the same eyewitness, who was involved with organizing festivals, doesn't recall Garcia or OAITW at the late July Festival, either. He suggests that these festivals organized by Jim Clark in the summer of 1973 were chaotic and that OAITW may have felt burned after the June 8, 1973 Culpeper-Warrenton Festival. (Yes, I want to know more about that, too. I hope to learn what I can and post.)

As far as I know, there's just no evidence other than some advertisements that this ever happened. And I suspect that the ads promised something that didn't materialize. Getting to the titular question, then: I highly doubt that Garcia was playing a peace, love, blues and bluegrass festival in West Virginia in late July of 1973.

Let me make a macro point about this. The standard histories of OAITW say that they played a couple of east coast dates, and that's it. Like so many of the historical "truths" that surround Garcia, there seems to be more (or even different) to say, at least potentially. Even if they didn't play on July 4th, July 26/29, Labor Day in Camp Springs, or Harpers Ferry on September 7, 1973, that possibility was at least under discussion - so much so that ads were printed in the leading bluegrass magazines. It may not ultimately matter - the most relevant truth may just be that they only played a few of these gigs. But it's also possible that why these gigs were never played --if indeed they weren't-- might be worth knowing as we ponder the too-short history of Old and in the Way.

(1) Jackson, Blair. 1999. Garcia: An American Life. New York: Penguin Books.
(2) Rolling Stone, 4/26/73, p. 14.
(3) "Bye-Bye, Don’t Come Back," Washington Post, July 31, 1973, p. B2.


  1. I was at the Bluegrass Festival at Aunt Minnie's Farm in 1973, the same weekend as Watkins Glen. As I remmember it, New Riders were supposed to come down from WG to close the show on the 29th. It was 24 hr music for 4 days, I didn't stay til the lights were turned out but things were winding down and word went out New Riders weren't coming from Watkins Glen. That being said; I chugged corn liquor with Earl Scruggs, stood around a campfire that went from 4am til dawn with a dozen people jamming including Byron Burline, Doug Dillard members from Goose Creek Symphany, Scruggs Review and the Carter Family. I live a heck a lot closer to Watkins Glen, but from my prospective, I went to the right show.

  2. Sounds like it! Thanks so much for sharing these recollections. So, you didn't hear anything about Old And In The Way (Garcia's white roots band at the time), but instead about the New Riders (which he had left a few years before)?

    That sounds like a helluva good time. Ahh, to wind back the hands of time ...

  3. I attended a festival at Aunt Minnie's farm but I don't recall the dates. Maybe there were more festivals held there.

  4. I attended a festival at Aunt Minnie's farm but I don't recall the dates. Maybe there were more festivals held there. Reply if you have any pertinent info to add.

  5. I attended a festival at Aunt Minnie's farm but I don't recall the dates. Maybe there were more festivals held there. Reply if you have any pertinent info to add.


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