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Sunday, September 19, 2010

OAITW: Homer's Warehouse, July 24, 1973

Old And In The Way played Homer's Warehouse in Palo Alto, CA on July 24, 1973. At least some of the material circulates as "FM MSR>D>CD", claiming to be the complete show, and is recorded as shnid 11861 at db.etree.org.

The recording is decent but not great. The material was broadcast on KZSU-FM (Stanford), and the recording has the FM feel caused from piping room noise in before and after songs. The shows strikes me as mediocre for OAITW, though if there were a pristine recording I suppose I might react differently to it.

I am posting with just a few thoughts/questions relating to this.

First, I am not clear what the structure of the gig(s) was. The etree source linked above has these notes: "It appears as if this was the complete show. Asleep at the Wheel opened." Yet in t01 the DJ says that Asleep at the Wheel will follow, followed by another OAITW set.

So is this set I of a two-set (singly ticketed) show, or is this the early show of a pair that were separately ticketed?

I don't really know. Could it have gone OAITW-AATW-OAITW? Or perhaps AATW-OAITW-AATW-OAITW? With this OAITW set/show clocking in at about an hour, I suppose that could have been possible.

Second, just a note that in identifying the band, one DJ says to the other "Old and in the Way ... Jerry Garcia." We know this and it's trivial, but note that, for these guys at least, the other virtuosi were not the way to identify this band ... it was Jerry.

Third, after "Eating Out of Your Hand," Grisman asks the crowd to refrain from clapping along, since it made it hard for the band members to hear themselves (unamplified instruments and all that). This is consistent with the view that the "Garcia" audience needed to be educated/acculturated into bluegrass. It probably didn't make things better that the clapping seemed to be dreadfully off-time, but in any case this is an interesting (if tiny) instance of the encounter between hippies and the bluegrass world, about which I'll have more to say at some point.

Anyway, below are my notes on this set.

Old And In The Way
Homer's Warehouse
Palo Alto, CA 
July 24, 1973 (Tuesday)

Early show or set I

Recording: "FM MSR > D > CD"
shnid 11861

(12 tracks, 53:33)
01 - DJ talk (1) [1:59], Billy In The Lowground [2:13] [0:10]
02 - [0:12] Going To The Races [3:09] [0:19]
03 - [0:46] Catfish John [3:54] [0:13]
04 - [0:37] Good Woman's Love [4:48] [0:29]
05 - radio talk [1:35], Lonesome Fiddle Blues [3:34] [0:10]
06 - station id & talk [0:45], Eating Out Of Your Hand [3:06] [0:14]
07 - stage talk (2) [0:48], Lonesome L.A. Cowboy [4:27] [0:06]
08 - Hobo Song [5:30] [0:08]
09 - tuning [0:10], Pig In A Pen [2:48] [0:33]
10 - [0:32] Panama Red [2:17] [0:27]
11 - [0:35] Workin' On A Building [3:23] [0:12]
12 - [0:03] Hard Hearted [2:47] [0:33]

Original Comments: "It appears as if this was the complete show. Asleep at the Wheel opened. FM Broadcast KZSU Palo Alto."

Lineup:
Jerry Garcia - banjo, vocals;
Vassar Clements - fiddle;
John Kahn - bass;
Peter Rowan - guitar, vocals;
David Grisman - mandolin, vocals.

12 comments:

  1. I may have some insight into this show, because I'm pretty sure I actually heard it broadcast on the radio. I was 15 at the time. KZSU-fm was the Stanford radio station, 10 whole watts, not even audible in all parts of Palo Alto. But it was audible at my house, so I used to listen to it when I wasn't listening to KSAN. I'm not sure how I knew about this broadcast, but I listened to KZSU all the time, so I must have heard about it in advance.

    The other thing I recall is that it was actually in Palo Alto. I could have walked to Homer's Warehouse, if my parents would have let me (nein), not that I could have gotten in. So I remember sitting in my room listening to Jerry playing within walking distance of my house, happy that he was on the radio but feeling distinctly left out.

    Of course I had never consciously heard bluegrass before. I was totally mystified. I remember the song "Lonesome LA Cowboy," and I remember recognizing it when it came out on Panama Red later in the year.

    I'm certain the broadcast was early in the evening. The economics of KZSU were mystifying (Stanford has money, so they got to do certain things), so I think the broadcast was to publicize Homer's Warehouse. I think part of the reason for the broadcast would have been to encourage people in the listening area (all near Homer's Warehouse) to come on over. I'm sure Asleep At The Wheel and OAITW played another set, as it was not a midnight broadcast.

    The DJ would have been some 22 year old college kid, so he wouldn't have had a clue about anybody in the band other than Jerry Garcia, and possibly not even that (ever wonder why the second set of 12-23-77 was never broadcast? I know the story, but the Comment is too long)

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  2. KZSU used to broadcast a lot of shows from Palo Alto, mostly from Keystone Palo Alto. The shows were never publicized unless you listened to KZSU. I think it was to give KZSU staff a chance to broadcast shows like a "real" radio station.

    I assume the Keystone went for it because everybody who could hear KZSU could go to the Keystone, but it still didn't entirely make a lot of sense. Normal FM broadcasts were sponsored by the record company (if the Dead were broadcast, Warner Brothers would purchase a night's worth of advertising from the FM station), but I don't know what happened transactionally at Stanford.

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  3. I was struck by Grisman asking the audience not to clap along, because Garcia referred to this very thing in a 1976 interview!

    http://www.relix.com/features/2010/05/25/the-grateful-dead-revisited-a-1976-interview-with-jerry-garcia

    Garcia has a bunch of interesting things to say (about the GD movie, the hiatus, his new record & the upcoming tour) - it turns out the interviewer was a big fan of Old & In The Way, so he gets Garcia talking about that band a bit. He asks why the band didn't tour that much, and Garcia has an odd answer:
    "We ran into a really weird problem in terms of dynamics which was that bluegrass music is like chamber music: it’s very quiet. And if the audience got at all enthusiastic during the tune and started clapping or something, it would drown out the band and we couldn’t hear each other."

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  4. I have been in contact with an eyewitness who recalls

    "Hmmmmm, AATW was the 9pmish opener at one show....Then OAITW came on, Played
    til the wee hrs.(1-2am) Know they took 2 breaks, as we gathered outside for
    warming ceremonies....."

    Jeez...I could have told my mom that I needed to walk the dog, and walked over and hung out and "gotten warm."

    In any case, this means that the broadcast set was only the first one, with two more to follow.

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  5. I listened to and taped this show and Corry is absolutely correct. Two sets for each band, and KZSC only broadcast the first sets by AATW and OIITW, respectively. It was clear from the DJ's comments that they were probably not well schooled in bluegrass.

    Homer's Warehouse was indeed in Palo Alto, on the continuation of Homer St. west of the railroad tracks. I went there to check out the site earlier this year and the building is long gone, swallowed up by the Palo Alto Medical Center

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  6. I remember going to see the Dead play & OAITW opened the show. I remember either Rowan or Garcia requesting that the audience not clap during the songs; it was a rowdy crowd. I think that it was the first time that I heard Bluegrass. The harmony singing was beautiful. They played "Wild Horses" which got a lot of applaused & they played the instrumental called "Jerry's Breakdown".

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  7. stix, I don't know of OAITW opening for GD, unless I am forgetting something. You sure about it?

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  8. Stix do you recall what city or venue the GD/OAITW show might have been?

    I'm not aware of OAITW opening for the Grateful Dead either, but I'm not ruling it out. The most likely date would seem to be Santa Barbara on May 20, 1973. GD and NRPS were on the poster, but whose to say that OAITW didn't play an opening set? There are a lot of shows in the 1972-73 period that are treated as "settled fact" that have many more unexplored ambiguities. I just did some casual research on 5/20/73 and most of the eyewitness accounts of the show involve sunburn and pretty Santa Barbara girls. A noon set by OAITW might have gone unnoticed.

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  9. I don't recall us ever thinking about OAITW in the context of the "An Evening With" show format, but that's sort of what that 5/20/73 would have been like, were it to have happened. 5/25/74, the next year, had GASB with Jerry on banjo opening for the GD (as well as Maria Muldaur, of course), and I have occasionally thought of it in a sort of "An Evening With" idiom.

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  10. OIITW did not play at the 5/20/73 show, but of course the Great American String Band (with Garcia on Board) did open for the Dead and Maria Muldaur in 1974.

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  11. I was one of the lucky few who was present at the OAITW set that night at Homer's. I was a Stanford student who played music and wanted to hear Jerry. What I recall was the incredible performance by Vassar Clements that had both Jerry and David Grisman staring in amazement. His playing of the fiddle is legendary and his range of styles and improvisational abilities unparalleled. It was very special because of the intimate atmosphere (couldn't squeeze 100 people into that place) and the interplay between the musicians. A far cry from where we have come nowadays, and a memory to cherish.

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  12. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Anonymous. Yeah, Vassar was rightly revered by these young fellers. Must have been a great privilege for them to play with him.

    Did you ever see any other shows at Homer's?

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