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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Ambassador Garcia

LN jg1976-03-27.jgb.s1s2p.aud-mcdonald.110281.flac1644

The March-April 1976 Jerry Garcia Band tour is an interesting one. This was the quintet of Garcia, Kahn, Tutt, Godchaux and Godchaux. Let me just make a quick mention of the year overall, then make a few notes about the tour, before discussing this tape of the Jerry Garcia Band, Ambassador Theatre, St. Louis, MO, Saturday, March 27, 1976 [shnid 110281].

I find 1976 to be an extremely uneven year for this outfit. Most of the shows are absolutely stultifyingly slow and smacked out. Check out the Don't Let Go release, from JGB at the Orpheum Theatre, San Francisco, May 21, 1976 to see what I mean. It's the year in microcosm: you've got your somnambulent Knockin' On Heaven's Door [Allan | Scofield] to go with a pretty hot Lonesome And A Long Way From Home [Allan | Scofield] and a raging Mighty High [Allan | Scofield] (from a few months later, September 11, 1976, Keystone, Berkeley, CA). (I don't blame David Lemieux, BTW, who seems to me to have impeccable taste. I think did a great job within the parameters of the assignment.) (BTW2: the cover and liner photos by Ed Perlstein are unbelievably beautiful, even if they are from the La Paloma Theater in Pismo Beach from February.)

Anyway, back to the point: an interesting tour. Some really smacked out shows --Steve Silberman, I think, described the show at Finney Chapel, Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH on Sunday, 3/14/76 [TJS | shnid 29134 {a pretty dreadful aud}] as the musical expression of heroin-- and some ragers (the late show from Saturday, April 3, 1976 at Lisner Auditorium, George Washington University, Washington, DC [shnid 17328, Scott Jones's great audience master] comes to mind). Some truly dreadful tapes and a couple of amazing ones. (Aside: the obvious point, that tapes are incredibly important sources of knowledge, has been repeating itself to me over and over the last few weeks. A lot of the shows that are "obscure" are precisely so because there is no tape. And this is more likely the case in off the beaten path venues and cities.) Overall, I consider that the tour got better as it went along: April 1976 P March 1976 P February 1976 P January 1976 [except the Booker stuff], where 'P' is read "is preferred to".

This particular show is definitely toward the hotter end of the spectrum - Garcia sounds more electric, doing less in the way of gospel dirges. And we don't know how much of a boil things really got to during LAALWFH, which was of course a big monster show-closer in this period. The show is mostly interesting for its obscurity: off the beaten path (off the top of my head, JG played STL maybe 3-4 times?) but well-appreciated by an early review in Relix. Fun to lay down some thoughts and notes on the obscure stuff.

In what follows, I reproduce the whole info file I have, including Dan McDonald's notes. It gets a little confusing and lengthy. As you'll see from my notes (if you manage to get through them), I disagree with his analysis of the setlist. So, anyway,  here goes.

Jerry Garcia Band
Ambassador Theatre
St. Louis, MO
March 27, 1976 (Saturday)

Disc One (5 tracks, 58:23)
--Set I--
101-d1t01 - [0:28] /Sugaree [10:07] [1:00] {11:35}
102-d1t02 - Catfish John [11:10] [2:25] {13:35}
103-d1t03 - Mystery Train [8:41] [0:42] {9:23}
104-d1t04 - Knockin' on //Heaven's Door [#15:26] [0:39] {16:15}
105-d1t05 - They Love Each Other [7:22] [0:13] {7:35}

Disc Two (6 tracks, 57:57)
--Set I, con't--
201-d2t01 - Crowd {0:59} %
202-d2t02 - /Sitting Here in Limbo [13:23] [0:17] {13:40}
203-d2t03 - How Sweet It Is [6:34] [0:10] {6:44}

--Set II--
204-d2t04 - Harder they Come [17:18] [0:28] {17:46}
205-d2t05 - %/Russian Lullaby [9:27] [0:12] {9:39}
206-d2t06 - %/Tore Up Over You [9:06] [0:01] {9:07}
[MISSING: Strange Man]
[MISSING: Friend Of The Devil]
[MISSING: Lonesome And A Long Way From Home]

Jerry Garcia - el-g, vocals;
John Kahn - el-bass;
Ron Tutt - drums, harmony vocals;
Keith Godchaux - keyboards, harmony vocals;
Donna Jean Godchaux - backing vocals.


Probable lineage: 
Master audience cassette (stereo) -> 2 Maxell UDXL C90s -> Tascam 112 -> M-Audio 24/96 ->
24 bit, 48kHz ; 24-bit, 48kHz -> 16-bit, 44.1kHz using Diamond Cut DC8 (no dither).
Taper unknown. Transfer, editing, flac encoding and notes by Dan McDonald.
Metadata added by B. Proctor 10/13/10

I got this tape from a guy in St. Louis (probably the taper, but I can't say for certain) in 1977 or early 1978.  It doesn't appear to circulate in digital form.  The Jerry Site lists a tape of the first set from this night, but that appears to be a different tape. This one has a cut for a tape flip in Knockin' on Heaven's Door and has all but the last 2 songs as the set list appears on the Jerry Site. The guy I got the tape from never mentioned anything missing, as far as I can recall.   

I am fairly certain of the lineage for two reasons:
a) the recording is pretty clean and high frequencies are still present
b) there are only 2 bumps at 60Hz, suggesting the master and my copy
c) side b of my first cassette has a very short stop/start between How Sweet and Harder They Come
d) On my tape, "Harder They Come" was started at the end of the second tape, but tape ran out so it was copied again, starting from the beginning, at the start of the second tape that was given to me. Ordinarily, I would expect someone to have realized that Harder They Come wouldn't make it on the tape completely as soon as the first copy was made, and so not waste the time of copying the fragment and recopying it (this is analog, real-time copying - why waste 10-15 minutes copying something you're going to have to redo?).


I did the following:
1. fade-in to audience for Sugaree.
2. cut (tape stop) in audience at 0:23 (just before Sugaree); cut and faded in
3. slight gain change at :28 of Sugaree because of tape start (taper missed about 1 second of Sugaree)
4. crossfade Knockin' at approx. 8:48 in because of an unfortunate spot for a tape flip 
5. fade out at end of How Sweet It Is because of tape stop
6. Cut about 2 seconds out of audience between How Sweet It Is and Harder they Come because of tape recorder getting up to speed.
7. Fade in of crowd section (d2, track 1), which I left as a short separate track.
8. Added gain for left and right channels for "Harder They Come" (left and Right) and "Russian Lullaby" left only). (Started at +4dB and ended with +0 dB increase).
9. combined How Sweet It Is and Harder They Come, added a 5-second crossfade during crowd noise, and recut (less than .03 seconds off in timing).
10. fade out at end of Tore Up Over You because of tape stop during applause

The Jerry Site lists this as the setlist:

Set 1
1. Sugaree
2. Catfish John
3. Mystery Train
4. Knockin' on Heaven's Door (cut for tape flip)
5. They Love Each Other
6. Sitting Here in Limbo
7. How Sweet it Is

Set 2
8. Harder they Come
9. Russian Lullabye
10. Tore up over you
[edit 3/2011: Strange Man]
11. Friend of the Devil
12. Lonesome and a Long Way from Home

I would guess that TLEO is the end of the first set and that Tore Up Over You is actually the last song played that night.  I say this because there is a hard stop on the tape afterThey Love Each Other, and the crowd is louder before Sitting Here in Limbo, as if it they are getting ready for the second set, and the band sounds like it is getting ready for a second set, rather than between songs. If the show ended with Tore Up Over You, the total music time is about 2 hours, which is consistent with other shows around the same time (March, 1976). The show scheduled for the following night was cancelled due to a band illness. The revised setlist also fits with what I have on the tape, which would indicate the taper probably used 90 minute cassettes. He/She/They got the first 44 minutes, did a tape flip.  got the last 15 minutes of the 1st set, stopped the recorder, Got the first 20 minutes of the second set,switched to a new tape between How Sweet it is and Harder they Come, which allowed for the uninterrupted last 38 minutes of the show.  It could be that the second tape had a second side with FOTD and Lonesome, and that was just not recorded or not copied for me.  My second tape has Commander Cody on it for the last side, so for whatever reason, the person who traded it to me didn't have the last two songs listed.



! TJS:

! db:

! 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.

! d1t01 Sugaree clips in; large PA jump @ 1:22, JG says "sorry 'bout that" @ 1:36

! could be the quality of the tape/recording, but Jerry is getting a little more metallic raunch than I am used to from this era. E.g., solo ca. 8-min of Sugaree. Still true in CJ.

! I'd say that this show is more like April 1976 than March 1976. That's something that should get a JGMF post. Tutt is keeping a slightly faster pace with a sharper groove. Garcia's guitar sounds more like metal than wood, if you get my meaning.

! d1t02 CJ nice buildup by Jerry in ca. 7-min mark leading to the "Born a slave/in the town of Vicksburg" verse. The crowd is appropriately responsive.

! d1t03 Mystery Train @ 6:45, 7:25 Jerry is bending some nice raunchy notes.

! d1t04 KOHD tape flip @ 9:00, unknown amount missing.

! d1t04 KOHD is deep somnambulence, but then around 15-min Garcia starts fanning like a mofo.

! d2t02 SIL clips in

! d2t03 JG very clearly announces the setbreak after HSII.

! d2t04 HTC @ 14:52 JG's voice is terribly scratchy. Sounds more like '78 or '79 than '76 ... ouch.

! d2t05 Russian Lullaby clips in

! d2t06 Tore Up clips in

! TJS: "Review: Roger Allrich, "Jerry Garcia Band: Ambassador Theater, St. Louis, March 27, 1976," Relix 3, 4 (July-August 1976): 8. Allrich helpfully gives the complete setlist. He does not mention "A Strange Man" by name, but he mentions a Donna vocal before Friend of the Devil, and Strange Man fits the bill. Allrich notes that the show started around 9:15 pm, though the start was scheduled for 8:00 pm. The show was a sellout."

! Review: [positive] Cullinane 1976.

! Setlist: Dan McDonald, who generously seeded this copy (shnid 110281) speculates that TLEO is the last song of set I and that Tore Up is the last song of the show. I respectfully disagree with this. First, as noted above, Garcia clearly announces a set break after HSII. This would be a weird breaking point if the show ended at Tore Up -- that'd be a mighty truncated second set. But the Allrich review lays out the setlist with great clarity, and confirms the rest of the songs. I can't explain why everyone was cheering before Sitting in Limbo, which McDonald notes; to quote Phil about Pigpen (in the Fallout From the Phil Zone liner notes, talking about the crowd screaming during 8/6/71 Hard to Handle): "maybe he was dancing a jig." The only setlist question that remains from Allrich's review is the Donna vocal after Tore Up. If you look at the setlists from around this time, it's gotta be Strange Man [Allan | Scofield]. It was the only Donna vocal they were doing, and it usually came around this time in the show.


  1. Over the years, everyone seems to have harshed on Don't Let Go as a weak release. I just have to say that I saw the May 21, 1976 show at the Orpheum and they rocked the house, slow tempos and all. OK, its obvious that I'm going to see the CD release differently, but the show didn't have that drifting Keystone feel when we were there.

  2. I know many people who love that release. It's just not to my taste. If I had to foreswear any two years of Garcia Band, it'd be 1976 and 1977 ... I am too impatient for those tempos.

  3. I never bought "Don't Let Go" because I had heard some really awful (smack-tastic) shows from 1976, but when I finally heard it, I was pleasantly surprised by the relatively high level of energy (as long as I skip "Knockin").


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