- Wednesday, August 6, 1981, Sherwood Hall, 940 North Main Street, Salinas, CA
- Thursday, August 7, 1981, Freeborn Hall, UC Davis, Davis, CA
- Friday, August 8, 1981, Fox Theatre, 216 E. Main Street, Stockton, CA
I have just posted listening notes for the only recordings known to me of the August 6-7 shows (follow the links above), though the latter might well be from the 8th. If there are other recordings out there, even really nasty old cassettes, I'd love to be able to give them a listen.
Here I just want to reflect a little bit on this mini tour. Let me start with the ad that ran in BAM magazine. I first reproduce the full page in bad quality (including the TOC for the 7/31/81 issue of BAM, which is still an unindexed goldmine of late 70s-1980s Bay Area music information), and then a clearer but less complete scan focusing on the Garcia ad.
The tour is interesting for a few reasons. First, it occurs during a particularly fluid time in terms of membership of the Jerry Garcia Band. So I'll cover personnel issues first. Second, it's just a weird little tour. So I'll say maybe a thing or two about the tour overall, maybe a sort of business/economic aspect. Third, I'll just open up a slightly broader context to the rest of 1981.
First, personnel was extremely fluid around this time.
a. Keyboards. At the start of the year, Melvin Seals had come in on the Hammond B-3 organ, and Jimmy Warren was also brought on as keyboardist on his electric piano (I think it was a Fender Rhodes, but I am not sure). So, here we have Melvin and Jimmy Warren on keys, which is confirmed by the two tapes.
b. Drums. The Jerry Site just doesn't show a drummer between 6/1 and 12/17, when Kreutzmann is said to come in. We know from our various discussions here and elsewhere, ultimately reflected in and derived from Corry Arnold's contemporaneous lists, that Bill Kreutzmann came in on drums for the Concord Pavilion show on September 7, 1981. I think he was also drumming in the Bay Area on December 17-18-19, while Ron Tutt had apparently taken the October-November 1981 national tour, as well as the September '81 Bay Area shows. Anyway, Corry reckons that Daoud Shaw was around until Concord, i.e., through 8/23. That makes a lot of sense. Shaw and Mohawk were an item, and both disappear from September 7 forward. So, here we presumably have Daoud Shaw drumming (though there are no guarantees of this).
c. Backing vocals. As already implied above, this would be the short-lived Liz Stires-Essra Mohawk tandem on backing vocals. They were there for a June 25, 1981 for a show at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium (though a subsequent post will entertain the possibility that there was a show the night before), which is traditionally dated as their first show (and the first with female backing vocalists since the Donna Jean Godchaux-Maria Muldaur arrangement vanished in late 1978). As just noted, Essra appears to be gone by 9/7/81, replaced by Julie Stafford. (By this reckoning, Essra Mohawk apparently sang only a dozen times with the JGB.) (For more on backing vocalists, see here for early 80s, here for mid-1982 and here for late 1983.)
d. Bass. This is usually a non-issue: it was John Kahn. But recall that on 6/25/81 (Santa Cruz) 6/26/81 (Fox Warfield Theatre, San Francisco) and 8/22/81 (Fairfax Pavilion!) Phil Lesh played bass with the JGB, and Kahn was not present. I don't know anything about why this was the case, nor why John would miss a few more shows in March 1982, when David Torbert filled in. No point in me speculating about it, I just don't know. Anyway, based on a review of the two tapes of this mini-tour that I have heard, John Kahn is on this little tour.
e. Summarizing, here's my best guess as to the personnel of the Jerry Garcia Band for the August 6-8, 1981 "1st Northern California Tour":
- Jerry Garcia - el-g, vocals;
- John Kahn - el-bass;
- Melvin Seals - keyboards (Hammond B3 organ);
- Jimmy Warren - keyboards (Fender Rhodes electric piano);
- Daoud Shaw - drums;
- Essra Mohawk - backing vocals;
- Liz Stires - backing vocals.
a) It was organized as a set, it was advertised in BAM, there were posters made, etc. There's a promoter behind this. Yet I don't see that kind of information in the materials. Doesn't seem like Graham, both because his name isn't on the materials and because it's just too obscure. He seemed to let littler, further downmarket, and/or farther flung places be by this time. Since most of them seemed to pose little meaningful competition (and many seemed to come and go, change names, and generally struggle), he didn't really need to compete on that margin.
b) The itinerary is pretty unlikely. San Rafael to Salinas to Davis to Stockton to San Rafael? Now Salinas has the whiff of Steinbeck (less in 1981 than now) and is close to Monterey. Davis is a really nice college town. Even Stockton has a kind an interesting aspect combining the Central Valley with the gold towns, the Delta, etc. that one could appreciate in an anthropological sort of way. But not in August. We're talking easy triple digits in all three of these places, but especially Stockton. August 8th in Stockton ... oof. I start sweating just thinking of it. I'll reserve judgment on the halls; a Fox Theatre can, of course, be a magnificent thing. So I am not knocking any of this, just suggesting that it's a bit odd.
c) Putting these together, it's the juxtaposition of utterly implausible levels of organization with utterly implausible itinerary that really strikes me. There are few other tours that look quite like this that I can think of. There were lots of obscure gigs in lots of obscure places beyond the core Bay Area over the years, of course. But most didn't have the faintest whiff of business professionalism about them, with the exception of the Freddie Herrera clubs (in which Ol' Jer played a ton, 'a'course). The only other tours were typically larger scale (N > 3 shows), usually further away (e.g., midwest <--> east coast). The SoCal tours bear the closest resemblance, such as the couple-day jaunts by Legion of Mary in March (7-9) 1975, Reconstruction in July 1979 and JGB in May (17-20) 1984. But SoCal is a plane ride, and anyway with all of John's people and places down there it's probably very comfortable. These places 100 miles from SF are actually less convenient in lots of ways.
Third, just a note about the rest of the year, especially re recordings. The Garcia shows that follow this one are pretty well represented. August 20-21-22-23 are ca. 70% in circulation (missing most of two of eight sets, less a little) and represent the last Phil Lesh guest slot (8/22) and the apparent end of Daoud Shaw and Essra Mohawk's time with the JGB. There are a number of dates from after that not in circulation that I know of (scanning TJS 1981, 9/20/81, 10/25/81, 10/27/81, etc.), but there's enough sprinkled through that we can interpolate across most of them.
Before this minitour is a different deal. Going back three months (to May), I see these dates unrepresented (back of the napkin only!): 5/20/81, 5/23/81, 5/24/81, 5/27/81, most of 5/28/81, 5/30/81s1, 5/31/81, 6/1/81, 7/23/81 and 7/24/81. Only 4 of the 18 JGB shows in this period (.5 of 5/28/81, .5 of 5/30/81, 6/25/81, 6/26/81and 7/26/81) are currently circulating in the digital realm, to my knowledge. And the May shows might be interesting. Melvin and Jimmy and Daoud had been around since probably January so they were broken in, yet the evidence of what would come -- the recruitment of the backing vocalists from 6/25/81-- suggests that Garcia (and/or Kahn) was/were not satisfied with what the band was doing. As Kahn would tell Blair Jackson, "it wasn't one of our better bands" (Jackson 1999, p. 321), though it's not clear if he meant before the vocalists came, after they arrived, or both. We get the strong sense from this same material that Garcia's heroin use is escalated at this time. In any case, having almost an entire month of gigs missing here is a drag. If anyone knows of any of these tapes, please contact me, as I'd like to study them!
Anyway, mostly I just liked the artwork and wanted to shout out for BAM, and the rest of this is just an excuse to post those scans. ;-)
Jackson, Blair. 1999. Garcia: An American Life. New York: Penguin Books.