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Saturday, July 23, 2011

JGMS 19730114-19730115 Inn of the Beginning, Cotati, CA

We know of the Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders show at the Inn of the Beginning on Monday, January 15, 1973 from the circulating tapes (http://db.etree.org/shn/9573), which are Betty Boards rescued by Rob Eaton from the muck and filth of God-knows-what-or-where. There are severe problems with the recording, especially with the start of the show, but once you get past them you get a great tape.

The Inn of the Beginning's January 1973 calendar does not advertise this show (nor anything for Monday, 1/15). The night before, Sunday, January 14, 1973 is listed as "to be announced".


What little experience I have with these tells me that from October 1970 through the end, "to be announced" shows often ended up having special guests or being otherwise notable.

As it turns out, the handwritten ledgers fill in the missing detail. For January 14-15, 1973, they list "Merle [sic] Saunders, Jerry Garcia, John Kahn, Tom Fogerty, Bill Vitt". As far as I know, January 14, 1973 is new to "The List".

No mention in the ledger of the most historically mystifying person on stage that night, Sarah Fulcher, who features on several lead vocals from the 1/15/73 tape. I am hoping to learn more about Sarah Fulcher and would gratefully receive any and all information that anyone might have. I know she was from San Antonio, spent some time in NYC, went back to San Antonio, and ended up in the Bay Area. I believe she was in the Bay Area ca. late 1972, and then the last trace I can find of her is in the credits of Wake of the Flood and then the October 2, 1973 Winterland Garcia/Saunders show. After that, basically nothing. Anyway, by my back of the napkin-reckoning I have her on the following shows:


A seemingly-odd batch of shows, on the one hand. Lots of other personnel fluidity, and that apparent six-month gap ... no idea what to make of it. On the other hand, maybe that's just how fluid things really were, which is nice to remember! There were people coming and going and jamming and all of that. Good stuff.

I learned a bit more about Sarah from the IOTB materials. I found "Sarah & Friends" listings for March 30-31, 1973 at the Inn. Here's a page from the March 1973 IOTB flyer:

March 1973 Inn of the Beginning Flyer, "Entertainment" Notes". Courtesy of Mark Braunstein.

For those of you who didn’t catch her name before. Sarah is the lady who sang with Merle [sic] Saunders and Jerry Garcia last January. She and Bill Vitt, who played drums on the same show, and a few friends will give you more of the same. 
For whatever reason, Ms. Fulcher seems to have had a taste for the anonymous by this time in her life. Note that they don't ever give her last name.

(As an aside, these notes from the IOTB flyers are incredibly precious. There is tons of information in there about who was playing with whom, etc. I have a few other nuggets that I'll post about that come from these amazing contemporary observations and analyses. Thanks to Mark Braunstein for documenting this scene so thoroughly back then, and for sharing the data now!)

I reproduce this both to reproduce it (these things are gorgeous!) and because it sheds small light on a few other things. First, it tells us that Vitt was drumming at the January JGMS show that had Sarah singing. Maybe we knew that, but it's nice to know. Second, this makes me think that Bill Vitt was how Sarah Fulcher came to sing in these Garcia-Saunders shows. I had always assumed that the Texas angle meant Martin or Dough Sahm. I can't remember if Vitt has any Texas connections, but anyway I am guessing Bill was closest to Sarah, effectively "sponsoring" her to sing with the band. Wild speculation, I know, but there it is. Finally, this blurb provides some nice crossing evidence that Jerry, Merl, Vitt and Sarah played the Inn in January 1973. We have this information from tape, but now we also have contemporary text. Nice.

The whole point of this post was to say that the Inn of the Beginning "ledgers" (handwritten lists, compiled monthly, of artists who played) show Jerry Garcia/Merl Saunders shows on both Sunday, January 14 and Monday, January 15, 1973 at the Inn. Personnel was Merl Saunders, Jerry Garcia, John Kahn, Tom Fogerty and Bill Vitt, with Sarah Fulcher on vocals for at least 1/15/73.

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