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Saturday, November 06, 2010

GSCBF9: Great American String Band: Saturday, April 27, 1974, ca. 23:15 ("Where's Jerry?")

Part of a series of back-of-the-napkin thoughts about the Golden State Country Bluegrass Festival (GSCBF), held in San Rafael, CA from Friday, April 26th through Sunday, April 28, 1974.

Previous installments:

So I am breaking the continuous look at Sunday. Probably not a good idea, but here we are.

The festival schedule has "Great American String Band & Vassar Clements" closing both Friday night (22:30) and Saturday night (23:15). A few things to note about this. First, the name issue is one that will require a lot of time and a separate post. Suffice it to say that the use of  "String" instead of "Music" in the name contradicts at least some of what Grisman has said on the issue. I don't accuse him of misleading, I am just saying that we don't really know the story and I hope to unravel it. Second, as the man to whom the Festival was dedicated, Vassar was all over the place (and and the schedule). He does play on the GASB's Friday night set, but not on this Saturday set. Third, the fact that Garcia-associated bands would close all three nights of the festival (GASB on Friday and Saturday, OAITW on Sunday, though this last was not billed in advance) is consistent with the view that things were at least somewhat Garcia-centric. (In truth, it's probably more the case that they were Vassar-centric, but I'll have to leave that aside for now.)

I put a parenthetical at the end of this post title: "Where's Jerry?" That is the question posed by an audience member, and it's a good one. Garcia is not playing with GASB here, even though he had played with them the night before, lived in town, and would be all over the place the next day. I had always assumed he was on this, but he isn't. So where was he? Partying back at the hotel? (Apparently the festival organizers took every care to cater to the desires of the talent, including running limos back and forth between the festival site [Marin County Veterans' Auditorium Building and Grounds] and the hotel, and the musicians made great use of this to have a high old time.) He could have been in some other social setting, though taking a Saturday night off would be really uncharacteristic at this time.

I have to believe that our friendly music junkie must have had a really good reason not to be there, and let me offer a conjecture: maybe he was in LA working on what would become Compliments? Here's the timeline. We know that at least some of the album work was done in LA, and that it was happening right around this time. I have information on a session at Heider's Studio A (LA) on April 23rd. Let's assume that Garcia's presence for the Pilgrimage Theater gig on April 20th was related to him being down south for album work. The GAMB/GASB made its way north with a gig at the Arlingon Theater in Santa Barbara, sans Jerry. I figure he just stayed back in LA to work on the album. Then he flies up for Friday night at the Festival, but flies back down to LA for studio work on Saturday, April 27th.

Is it even plausible to think that Jerry wasn't at this Festival that should have been right up his alley (and was certainly right in his back yard)? I think the pressure was really on to complete the album, which gets to Jerry's personal financial stake in Round Records. Round had sent out invitations for a May 1, 1974 release party for "Compliments" and Robert Hunter's Tale of the Great Rum Runners.

Gotta love the p.s. ("Come over and get wasted, and listen to some good music"), but anyway.

Again: there's evidence of studio work on 4/23, and there's an album release scheduled for May 1st. I just think it's plausible that Garcia had to finish things up on Saturday, 4/27, and that's why he didn't play with GASB.

Anyway, notes on the GASB fileset circulated by Rob Berger, from Jerry Moore (RIP)'s reels, are below. Thanks, Rob and Jerry!

Golden State Country Bluegrass Festival
Marin County Veterans' Auditorium Building and Grounds
San Rafael, CA

<--Doc Watson precedes-->

Great American String Band
Saturday, April 27, 1974 ca. 23:15

Source: Berger sbd seed from Jerry Moore's reels, "4/27/74" d1t22-24 and d2t01
Provenance: unknown sbd recording > ?? > Jerry Moore's reel.
Transfer: Sony TC-765 playback > sbm1 > dat > cdr > soundforge > cdr > eac > flac by Rob Berger, originally transferred in 1999; from the FLAC fileset I decoded, joined the wavs in Wavelab 5.0, and cut tracks as below in CD Wave;
Lossless encoding: TLH (FLAC level 8).
Tagging: Foobar 2000.

(6 tracks, 20:15)
GSCBF-1974-04-27-2315-GASB-t01. Banter (1), Tuning [0:24]
GSCBF-1974-04-27-2315-GASB-t02. My Plastic Banana Isn't Stupid [3:19] [0:06] % [0:25]
GSCBF-1974-04-27-2315-GASB-t03. Dawg's Rag [7:22] [0:31]
GSCBF-1974-04-27-2315-GASB-t04. Talk (2,3,4) [1:04]
GSCBF-1974-04-27-2315-GASB-t05. I'll Be A Gambler If You'll Deal The Cards [2:27] [0:04] %
GSCBF-1974-04-27-2315-GASB-t06. ... Sweet Georgia Brown [#4:27] [0:04]

Richard Greene - fiddle;
David Grisman - mandolin, harmony vocals;
David Nichtern - guitar, vocals (I'll Be A Gambler If You'll Deal The Cards);
Taj Mahal - guitar, vocals (Sweet Georgia Brown).

! % = tape discontinuity; # = truncated timing.
! This performance is very hot.
! There are occasional pops in the recording, which is overall quite good.
! The source tape for this is the "soundman" reels acquired in 1st gen by Will Boswell. So the Matt Smith transfers of the Boswell tapes are probably going to sound better than this, though we'll have to see. Because of the heavy editing of this tape source (there are recording discontinuities before and after every song, unlike the "Debbie" source, which is pretty continuous except for master tape changes), we can really have no idea how much of the GASB set this represents. We can be pretty sure that this is Saturday night, but we can't know much more than that. As noted below, Sweet George Brown is the (expected) last song of the set.
! GSCBF-1974-04-27-2315-GASB-t01: (1) Richard Greene: "... David Nichtern. It's called Plastic ... my ... something about my plastic banana. I don't really remember it." DG: "Well the thing is, that it's not stupid." RG: "Oh." DG: "His plastic banana is not stupid."
! GSCBF-1974-04-27-2315-GASB-t03: this version of Dawg's Rag is smokin' hot!
! GSCBF-1974-04-27-2315-GASB-t04: (2) Richard Greene: "It's really far out. It's very far out. We're really tickled that you like original stuff. It's great. Another original for you, it's by David Nichtern. It's called 'I'll Be The [sic] Gambler If You Deal The Cards'. ... Dawg broke a string ..."
! GSCBF-1974-04-27-2315-GASB-t04: (3) crowd member yells for "Wild Horses". Nichtern: "We don't do that tune."
! GSCBF-1974-04-27-2315-GASB-t04: (4): crowd member asks "Where's Jerry?"
! GSCBF-1974-04-27-2315-GASB-t05: David Nichtern lead vocals.
! GSCBF-1974-04-27-2315-GASB-t06: SGB enters in progress, probably a good chunk missing. This sounds like the (expected) last song of the GASB based on the "thank you"s at the end.

<--end of Saturday, April 27, 1974 festival program-->

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