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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

GSCBF13: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band: Sunday, April 28, 1974, ca. 22:00

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:

 We are almost to the end of the Debbie tapes, which are probably multigen cassette-sourced (and have the corresponding sonic limitations), but run pretty continuously from Sunday 3 pm until about 11:30 pm or midnight.

So we just had the very traditional-sounding Ralph Stanley & His Clinch Mountain Boys. The Debbie tape of that is only about 17 minutes, while I expect that the set ran at least 30. Unfortunately, and uncharacteristically for the Debbie tapes, it feels fragmentary, cut on both the front and the back end. Now that I think on it, I think the sound quality is inferior, as well. Weird.

Anyway, Colorado boys The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band come on around 10 pm, let's say -- we really can't be sure until I read and hear more accounts. (Note to self: I need to read the Marin Independent-Journal from about December 1973 through 1974. I think that will tell a lot more about what went down with this Festival.) That's how it was scheduled, so we'll just go with that as an anchor, in any case.

So these guys were famous for lots of stuff, but especially for getting old-time and modern country players together ca. 1972 for the Will The Circle Be Unbroken project. Let me refer to it as WTCBU for short. So this was a huge deal, though I have a lot more to learn. I know that lots of the '73 bluegrass festivals billed a "WTCBU Reunion" as the show-closer. This was presumably various permutations of the great many amazing folks who appeared on the record. (FYI, Bruno has a post on the NGDB.)

The GSCBF would be no different. Back in GSCBF3 I synopsized the Sunday afternoon-evening schedule. Ralph Stanley was scheduled for a half-hour set starting at 9, then a "special guest" and then the Dirt Band. The basis for that schedule was an undated document from the Southern Folklife Collection. (Have to see if I can post images of docs from their collection.) It is so much more detailed than any other listings I have ever seen that I assume it was printed pretty close to show time. Here's what it read across the bottom:

Beginning at 10:30 p.m. Sunday there will be a reunion of the "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" album including Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Vassar Clements, Merle Travis, Doc Watson, Jimmy Martin, Norman Blake. Every effort is being made to include all others performing on the Circle album.

That's not quite what we get. Vassar and Doc Watson are the only two who actually come out with the Dirt Band for "WTCBU", even though Jimmy Martin had said a few hours earlier that he'd be there for it (GSCBF5, recording note #6). I assume that the rest of these guys are partying back at the hotel or driving or flying out of town already. It seems like everyone's having a pretty good old time, and there are lots of guests: Colorado mandolinist Jerry Mills, John Hartford, Vassar Clements, Doc Watson, David Nelson, and lots of other people make appearances during this roughly 70-minute "set". (We might consider it two sets, but since the NGDB guys are constantly on stage for this, I consider it a whole.)

Oh yeah, and a guy named Jerry Garcia. No-one has ever really bothered to pin this down as far as I know, but he is playing electric guitar here. I originally thought it even sounded like something different from his standard electric guitar from this time frame, but now I am not so sure. Note that Garcia's total time on tape here is about 10 minutes. It's very interesting for Garcia folks to hear this material (as it is to hear his 15-minute banjo sit-in with the Greenbriar Boys earlier in the day) , because any time he's doing something that was out of the pattern it's fun to consider how it fit in. He doesn't knock me out here, but I really just can't tell.

So, here we go, the penultimate set of the Golden State Country Bluegrass Festival, running from maybe 10 pm to about 11:15 pm, by my reckoning.
Golden State Country Bluegrass Festival
Marin County Veterans' Auditorium Building and Grounds
San Rafael, CA

<--Ralph Stanley & His Clinch Mountain Boys precedes-->

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Sunday, April 28, 1974 ca. 22:00

Source: "Debbie reel 4/28/74" CD 1 of 2
Provenance: unknown sbd recording (?maybe MSC > C?) > reel
Transfer: AKAI GX 636 playback > Apogee mini ME @ 24/96 > Apogee Mini DAC (monitoring/mastering) > lynx one soundcard > wavelab 5.0 > CD, by Matt Smith.
Lossless encoding: extraction (EAC) > initial tracking (CDWave) > minor edits (Wavelab 5.0) > FLAC level 8 (TLH).
Tagging: foobar2000 v0.9.6.8.

(24 tracks, 67:49)
GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t01. Steve Martin banjo tune and introduction [0:55]
GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t02. talk and tuning [0:37]
GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t03. Some of Shelley's Blues [2:33] (1) [0:40]
GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t04. The Moon Just Turned Blue (J.D. Souther) [2:50] [0:38]
GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t05. Tulane and Johnny (Chuck Berry) [2:59] [0:46]
GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t06. Cosmic Cowboy [3:28] [0:16]
GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t07. Jerry Garcia introduction [1:14]

--enter Jerry Garcia (el-g)--
GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t08. Jambalaya (Hank Williams) [4:21] [0:18]
GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t09. Sally Goodin [0:45] ->
GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t10. Battle Of New Orleans (J. Driftwood) [2:44]

--exit Garcia--
GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t11. talk and introductions [2:31]

--enter Jerry Mills (mandolin), John Hartford (fiddle), Vassar Clements (fiddle)--
GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t12. Teardrops In My Eyes (Osborne Bros.) [2:12] [1:05]
GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t13. Bonie Maronie [2:42] [0:58]
GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t14. Randy Lynn Rag (Earl Scruggs) [3:12] [0:13] %
GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t15. ... Flint Hill Special [#1:55] (2) [1:00]

--??exit Hartford?? ??exit Mills??--
GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t16. Mr. Bojangles (Jerry Jeff Walker) [3:43] [0:49]
GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t17. Honky Tonkin' (Hank Williams) [2:10] (3) [0:56]
GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t18. Diggy Liggy Lo (J.D. Miller) [2:20] (4) [0:21]
GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t19. stage talk, set up [2:18]

--enter Doc Watson (guitar, vocals), David Nelson, John Hartford--
--1st encore--
GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t20. Will The Circle Be Unbroken [4:34] [0:48]
GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t21. Way Downtown Fooling Around [3:21] (5) [0:38] %

--2nd encore--
GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t22. tuning and talk (6) [0:58]
GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t23. (7) Down Yonder [3:25] [0:12]
GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t24. announcement (8) %

Lineup (needs confirmation):
Jimmie Fadden;
Jeff Hanna;
Jim Ibbotson;
John McEuen.

JGMF Notes:
! 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.
! Mono recording.
! GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t03: (1) "This is the best concert we've ever seen". The artists seem to be enjoying the Lammers' hospitality!
! GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t11: reference to "our friend David Nelson over here"
! GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t12. Teardrops In My Eyes, I think I hear David Nelson singing harmony @ 1:50 ish
! GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t14. skip or other anomaly @ start of Randy Lynn Rag, when the washboard comes in. Some kind of anomaly
! GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t15. Flint Hill Special fades in
! GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t15. (2) audience member: "Play more Chuck Berry!" Answer: "We're gonna get back to that. We can't get too loud, folks, they told us they're gonna shut us down if we get loud again. We got some nice pickin' comin' up after this, too, so we don't want to spoil it."
! GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t17. (3) "There's another band comin' out called Old And In The Road [sic], too."
! GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t18. (4) "Thank you very much, bye bye."
! GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t21. (5) encore calls.
! GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t22. (6) "I'd like to thank all you people again for coming', if you like this type of thing. Hope you do. I think the people that did it are gonna try to do some more in the future." That wouldn't happen.
! GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t23. (7) Doc Watson to kick off Down Yonder: "How does it go, Vassar?"
! GSCBF-1974-04-28-2200-NGDB-t24. (8) "Old And In The Way is gonna come up and do a set, folks, so sit tight."

<--Old And In The Way follows-->

Jerry Garcia's Middle Finger


  1. JGMF, where can I find these "Debbie reels"? This is highly interesting stuff, this plus Jerry's participance in the Greenbriar Boys set is new to me and I like to find this complete festival, as my copy is only four cds and missing a lot of tracks from most sets that it has. Thanks!


!Thank you for joining the conversation!