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Monday, April 04, 2011

"Can't you all see how beautiful this is?" GD/NRPS: Saturday, April 24, 1971, Wallace Wade Stadium, Duke University, Durham, NC

I am intimately familiar with this show. It was in that first batch of ____________ [fill in blank: 10, 20, however many] great tapes I got from _____________ [fill in name, e.g., "John Smith" or other best description, e.g., "freak I met in the record store in Santa Barbara to whose Lompoc address I mailed two nice tight boxes of XLIIs from that place in Berkeley, never heard anything back, then received the tapes in a wrinkled paper bag left on the doorstep of my parents' house 250 miles away one day 9 months later")]. Every Deadhead who ever collected tapes has that story.

Anyway, some incredible photographic linkage of the New Riders and the Grateful Dead on this "Joe College Weekend." Truly glorious photographs of Garcia playing pedal steel in the bright spring sunshine (or does it look windy and a little overcast? anyway). Wow. Just take them in. Thank you to photographer Ric Carter for sharing these, and much more besides!

Coupla things to say about this show.

First, note that in the lossless realm, there is still only one source, shnid 2579, "ripped and seed by Mike Lai" and seeded to Lai's own FTP server within or affiliated with the etree.org domain (remember those?) in the first quarter of 2001. People who were early to the lossless thing will recognize that assignation: amazing sounding material, usually seeded with sector boundary errors (SBEs) ... the dreaded "sbefail" tag. But as has been argued to me, that was a strange obsession about glitches that were minor compared to, say, the wow, flutter, pitch, speed, degradation, flaking, sun-baking, splicing, recording-over and other problems with the source cassettes. And we should give this gentleman credit for sharing tremendous amounts of time, money, bandwidth (before it was so plentiful) and, of course, music with so many people. I have no idea if anyone will ever try to research and write histories of this sort of thing in a serious way, but some of these pioneers are at risk of getting glossed over in the record, as if the world jumped from CD to FLAC with no agency moving history.

This source sounds absolutely fantastic, even better than my beloved, crusty old cassette tape. I would also note the name in that source of Michael K. Weise, who wrote the first program (mkwACT) that made it easy to losslessly encode wav files. This was part of a technological revolution that revolutionized music sharing. From that whole thing we have the archive, probably the most amazing collectively fan assembled music resource in the history of the world. (How's that for hyperbole!)

Second, this is a classic Grateful Dead show.  Truckin' is a trainwreck ... Bobby changes keys midway through, and Jerry and Phil are really straining to hit the harmony notes. Cumberland Blues false starts, with Weir explaining that "All this fuckin' around has put our instruments out of tune".

"Hard to Handle" remains my favorite version (yes, 4/28/71 and 8/6/71, I'm talking to you). It's not perfect, but listen to what Mr. Philip Lesh is doing to that bass guitar of his. He is playing that nice '71 bass with the crisp sound, which is audible on all of the officially released 1971 GD material (e.g., the fantastic summer '71 Road Trips.  @ 6:19, pounding out the notes to grab Garcia from where he is soaring and snap him into the one on time and in key. Fantastic.

The whole show is just classic April '71. Pretty good Pigpen, also featuring "Next Time You See Me" and a long, April '71 (need I say more, one week to the day after Princeton and the "Brooklyn Bridge rap"?) Good Lovin'. No far out jams, which is true of the whole month (I think the 4/28 and 4/29 material is egregiously overrated, not least from Cornell Syndrome -- tape circulation with three features: widely spread, good performance, fantastic sounding). "Sing Me Back Home" is a transcendent masterpiece until it sort of thuds at the end.  And who is that playing organ so delicately behind SMBH, Pigpen?

Check it out from archive.org.




One archive.org patron says this:

I was at this show -- it ran about 12 hours, starting with Mountain, then the Dead, and finally the Beach Boys. Either Phil or Jerry told the crowd that they'd never been on the same bill with the Beach Boys although both were huge California bands. Just three days later, on April 27, the Beach Boys joined the Dead onstage at the Fillmore East during the Dead's 5-day run there, and they played 6 or 7 songs together. I guess that makes the show at Duke somewhat historic.
Absolutely. The 4/27/71 GD/Beach Boys thing is a classic. Having read Corry for a few years now, I am guessing there was a record company aspect to that? Anyway, this is a great college gig from a fantastic month of college (and other!) gigs which, while capitalizing on the success of 1970, was probably the inflection point in cementing the Dead's viability as a national touring act for the next, oh, 24 years. This is true not only in terms of popularity, but also professionalism. There were a lot of glitches leading into this tour, as there had been of every GD tour previously. But from this point forward, tours would happen with fewer and fewer problems, much greater predictability.

Third, just a little piece of arcania, but I absolutely love it. At least twice a fantastically blissed out lady gets ahold of a microphone, somewhere within the mixing board area I'd guess, and makes herself heard. I cannot believe it, but I can't remember in which track she makes her first appearance. I am listening now and will try to edit post once I have it. But the second one is at @ 1:09 of track 14, "Sing Me Back Home." Here our blissed-out friend poses the titular question, with a real (and appropriate-seeming) sense of urgency. Can't you all see how beautiful this is?

Fourth, alas no, I can't see it, though my mind's eye sure can! But I'd note that another archive.org patron says there is video of this show. Since video at Duke has come up in a few threads on various blogs, and I can't remember if this one has been mentioned, I thought I'd just make note, also as a pretext to discuss a show I like and link up those fantastic photographs.

5 comments:

  1. These are amazing photos. UNC had a big event in the football stadium each spring called "Jubilee," (Carter's Allman Brothers photos are from there), but by the early 70s it simply got too large and rock festival like and the University shut it down. I suspect "Joe College Weekend" was a similar thing attempted at Duke. It looks like the opposite result, however--you can see the empty stadium over Garcia's head at one point.

    Wallace Wade Stadium is small, its football capacity is about 42,000. It's also open, so the bands must have been audible all over campus, perhaps partially accounting for the low attendance. Mountain, god bless 'em, was probably audible in Chapel Hill.

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  2. The Dead/Beach Boys connection was actually through Bill Graham's Millard Agency. Keith Badman's Beach Boys chronology mentions that the Boys signed with the Millard Agency in early '71. BGP (via Millard) must have helped arrange the GD booking at Duke as well.

    While I think the bands were just doing it for fun, Graham would have been the first to encourage the Beach Boys to "drop in" at the Fillmore East, since he wanted them to reflect in the Grateful Dead's underground cool. My, that was a long time ago.

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  3. Those are nice photos. Very surprised to see a review of a Dead show on JGMF!

    We had some discussion of the connection between this show and the 4/27/71 Beach Boys appearance in the comments here:
    http://lostlivedead.blogspot.com/2010/10/march-26-1967-avalon-ballroom-san.html

    The Archive reviewer who mentions the film of Duke says there's a brief clip of it in a set of home movies, "mostly of hotel rooms, airports, doing nitrous on the bus," etc. Sounds like a roadie's work, not another Duke-student-made film.
    I haven't seen this film mentioned elsewhere - though the Taper's Compendium lists a "very haphazard" 60-minute super-8 B&W home movie compilation thought to be from '72.

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  5. Thanks for linking to my photos. It's always a pleasure to share.
    Stuff from 1996 Furthur Festival coming over the next couple of weeks. Hope you guys will drop by. Posting page additions to Twitter @CartersXRd

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