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Sunday, February 20, 2011

19910810 JGB French's Camp Piercy CA (Fifth Annual Electric on the Eel)

Jerry Garcia Band played the Fifth Annual Electric on the Eel event  put on by Bill Graham Presents and the Hogfarm at French's Camp near Piercy, CA on Saturday, August 10, 1991. I don't get into the 90s as much, needless to say, but since this just came up elsewhere I thought I'd just lay out a few things. I'd love to get some attendees' recollections if possible!

Just a few things: First, the reschedule of the show from July 13, 1991. Second, the show itself. Maybe close with a few thoughts.

1. This show was rescheduled from July 13, 1991. Here are some Wolfgang's Vault images. (I assume that since they allow you to copy the picture locations so easily, it's copacetic to use these. Anyone know differently?)

I am about 98% convinced that the rescheduling had to do with Garcia being in rehab. Here's McNally (LST, p. 588):

The [GD] summer tour ended in Denver [0n 6/28/91] where the band sat down with Garcia in a major intervention, and he responded positively. He spent August driving himself to a methadone clinic every morning, standing in line with everyone else to receive his allocation, seemingly committed to getting healthy.

I have never particularly noticed that there is a long gap from 6/28/91 through 8/10/91, with this canceled date in the midst of it. Besides the comas in '86 and '92, this might be the longest non-playing spell I have documented at any time during which information is reasonably reliable.

2. The show holds some interest. First is the song-selection.  This is the fourth and final version of "Twilight," which JGB had started playing in the spring. A gorgeous cover of the Robbie Robertson for old junky Jerry. Not sure why they stopped playing it. Jerry never once got the words right, but it was a wistful, soulful, painful, beautiful song. Perhaps it was insufficiently oblique, I dunno. The third and final version of "See What Love Can Do", which never moved me that much. Second version of "Lazy Bones," which is generally way too slow for my taste (though I seem to recall once or twice having been able to appreciate the craftsmanship of it). Plus the stuff that had entered the repertoire in 1990-1991, including "C'st La Vie (You Never Can Tell)," "Lay Down Sally", "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love", etc.

Second interesting thing about the show is a little taper trivia. Marcus Buick, Tom Hughes, Rick Katzeff, and probably others taped this show with two widely-spaced (can't remember how far apart) omnidirectional Schoeps CMC32s from a really nice spot. It's a great tape, shnid 30813. If you like some of the spaced omni Grateful Dead tapes from 1990 (e.g., 5/5/90 at Dominguez Hills, one of the June '90 Cal Expo shows), you'll like this, too. It really is one of the nicer audience pulls you'll ever hear. We don't do much taper talk on these various blogs, but of course they have contributed in unfathomable ways to the whole thing. Thank you, tapers!

Third thing to note, even smaller, is what I consider the overrating of this show among fans. I suspect this results from the unusual song selection, the great circulating tapes, and what I presume to be massively favorable bias among those in attendance. I wasn't there, but I have a hunch the scenery was beautiful (Piercy is certainly off the beaten path!) and the day was pretty wonderful. But the show has always struck me as totally lackluster.

3. Last thought. It wasn't until today that I realized that this was in the midst of yet-another attempt by Jerry to get clean. Bearing in mind the Fall 1991 Rolling Stone article, and Hornsby's recollections of how exasperated he was with Jerry's drug use in September of 1991, and his rapid deterioration through to the next medical meltdown in August of 1992, it's not that surprising that I find this show to lack good energy and think much, much less of the shows to come (even the exalted Fall 1991 JGB tour, which is usually exalted relative to same-era GD) than most others do.


  1. Hi JGMF, first off would like to say, I've been enjoying your blog for quite a while now, thanks! I was at this show, my only Jerry on the River. Drove up from the East bay with a friend or two. The price of parking included overnight parking lot camping. I rememeber it being a pretty hot day up there, probably mid nineties. There were people taking dips in the river all day long in various stages of undress. Lots of school buses in the lot, I think there was an area that was an inside vending zone with food, clothing etc. Did the opening acts end up being the same as originally advertised? For some reason I think that Jack Cassidy played that day. I remember Jerry's set being very laid back compared to what I was used to at the Warfield, I think partly due to the heat. There was definetly a spontaneous attempt at singing of Happy Birthday from the crowd to Jerry somewhere in the middle of the set. Not sure if this can be heard on the Aud tapes. I also remember the party going late into the early hours of the morning that night, lots of hooting and hollering throughout the night.

  2. Thank you for sharing!

    I have a sense that "Wooden Ships", possibly a Kantner and Casady thing, played on at the gig, but I have never seen a tape of it. I would very much like to find one, as a friend is looking for it.

    1. Clan Dyken and Paul Kantners Wooden Ships opened up.

  3. Hey, thanks for comments and the link to the tape. I always appreciate these wonderful gifts.

    Memories: My girlfriend made this show but I missed it. Bummer, because she said swimming nekkid in the Eel was great, and folks were selling and giving away homemade blackberry popsicles, and the general vibe was excellent. There has always been some tension between those who loved the music of the GD or Jerry Band and those who loved the music AND the scene. I always loved both, and while I hated the trashing and then getting evicted from beloved venues like Frost and Henry J Kaiser and SF Memorial, I still am grateful for the alternate reality that the scene provided. I miss it, I really do.

  4. This was an awsome show. There was a meteor shower going on that night. Friends and I skipped stones in the river during the day and watched the stars fall all night.

    I made one of the killer audience recordings myself, standing 30 feet from the left speaker stack. I hope some of you enjoyed the recordings. Peace

  5. was a parking attendent there,stayed for reggae on the river the next week,,,good times

  6. It was so hot and sunny and the sun went down behind Jerry. We actually had to put our backs to the stage to cool our faces from the direct sun.

  7. Here's a clip from the drum circle that happened the night before this show if anyone is interested.

  8. Note further the following at WV:

    The metadata list JGB, though the poster does not.

    I would gather that Bill Graham's operation knew something that I didn't: that Garcia was scheduled to play the Telluride Mid-Summer Music Festival on 7/19/1991, but had to cancel. And I'd surmise it's for the same reasons adduced above regarding the Eel on 7/13/1991, but that's nothing more than foul speculation.

  9. My memory is that on the rescheduled date a band from California opened the show. They called themselves Clan Dyken. Then it was Paul Kantner, and possibly Marty Balin?

    I wrote my own story about it here. Thanks for the memories!


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