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Thursday, January 27, 2011

GSCBF14: Old And In The Way: Sunday, April 28, 1974, ca. 23:15

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:
Somehow I have a sense of anticlimax, having reached this point. I have gone through the entire, historically precious set of "Debbie" tapes, which pretty completely covers the Sunday, April 28, 1974 afternoon program of the festival. And here we have the first performance of OAITW in almost five months, and the group's last-ever. As Corry has pointed out to me, right around this time Grisman seems to turn from traditional bluegrass and from the song (i.e., with vocals) orientation that Peter Rowan represented in OAITW to what would become "Dawg Music", as first systematically explored in the Great American Music Band. So this is a really pivotal moment for lots of things.

Yet, the set just doesn't light me up. They are obviously running up against a hard time limit and really have to rush. Things never really take flight. So, historically important, but not the OAITW set I'd grab first for musical quality (for that I'd turn to the Boarding House shows from October 1973, which have given us all of the officially released OAITW material).

Thanks to Matt Smith for sharing these incredible tapes with me. I plan to continue the series as I pick my way through the "soundman" tapes, which sound much nicer but which pose considerably greater challenges in terms of days/dates, sequences, running time of the sets, etc.

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

<--Nitty Gritty Dirt Band precedes-->

Old & In The Way
Sunday, April 28, 1974 ca. 23:15

Source: "soundman reels, disc 6 of 6 (4/28/74)"
Provenance: 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.

(7 tracks, 21:07)
t01. monitor talk [0:35]
t02. High Lonesome Sound [3:43] [0:13]
t03. Pig In A Pen [2:01] [0:10]
t04. Panama Red [2:56] (2, 3) [0:37]
t05. Wild Horses [4:42] [0:05]
t06. encore calls [0:50]
t07. Hobo Song [4:58] (4, 5) [0:14]

Peter Rowan - ac-g, vocals;
David Grisman - mandolin, harmony vocals;
John Kahn - ac-bass;
Jerry Garcia - banjo, vocals;
Vassar Clements - fiddle;
?unknown? - harmonica ("Hobo Song" only).

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.
! Recording: Matt Smith has since done a new high-res transfer as of about 2010. I had already noted and extracted the CD copies he sent me a few years ago, and in any case since I wanted to patch from the Debbie tapes it made sense to just work with the 1644s. I'll probably cut and note the high-res copies of the soundman tapes separately, with no patches, at least in a first cut. With the patches from the Debbie tapes, this is basically a continuous 21 minutes, and is the entire OAITW set.
! Recording: The Debbie tape and the soundman tape play very nicely here in terms of coverage. The soundman source is much nicer, and especially much more present in the right channel, so the transitions are a little jarring. I just didn't have time/energy to really do it up more smoothly, not least knowing that there's a high-res version of the soundman tapes sitting on a hard drive. I haven't listed the provenance of the Debbie tapes above: it's the same as on all the Debbie tapes, albeit from "4/28/74, disc 2 of 2".
! Performance: OAITW hadn't played for almost five months, probably since November 4, 1973. There was absolutely not an OAITW set on the Saturday, April 27, 1974. The recordings that circulate labeled this way are just wrong. There was one OAITW set at the GSCBF, it was Sunday to close the festival, and this is it. This is really just a quicky reunion to cap things off. Remember that the GSCBF was dedicated to Vassar Clements, and of course being in Marin the locals (most prominently Garcia) were crowd favorites, so it was a good call to have OAITW close it out. They sound very rushed for time, which is a shame.
! t01 and first 5.5 seconds of t02 (High Lonesome Sound) patched in from Debbie source. You can hear how the different mix, and how much nicer these soundman tapes are.
! t02 HLS some tape munching @ 2:30
! t04 PR @ 1:20 some channel panning just at the start of Garcia's banjo solo
! t04 (2) @ 3:00 Grisman, off-mic: "We've got time for one more." Garcia: "One more and an encore, man!" [JGMF note: wants to play!]
! t04 (3) @ end of track: Grisman to crowd: "Thank you, we've got time for about one more."
! t06 between Wild Horses and Hobo Song, the soundman source had 30 or so missing seconds, from about 0:15 to about 0:45. I butt-patched in the Debbie material here. The transitions are audible, but I am just not skilled enough to balance, etc. The channels may even be inverted ... what do I know?
! t07 @ 0:26 Hobo Song some funkiness, almost a sub-second blip
! t07 Personnel: unknown harmonica on Hobo Song
! t07 (4) Rowan: "Thank you very much, everybody! It's been a great festival. Thank you all!"
! t07 (5) @ 5:08 Unknown speaker: "Good night, thank everybody for comin'. Have a safe trip. See you next time."

<--end of Sunday program-->

Jerry Garcia's Middle Finger

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