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Sunday, August 07, 2011

The New National Anthem of Bluegrass: OAITW, Stinson Beach Community Center, September 30, 1973

 LN jg1973-09-30.oaitw.all.aud.11862.shnf

Old And In The Way
Community Center
Stinson Beach, CA 94970
September 30, 1973 (Sunday)

This old fileset (shnid 11862, probably created around September 2002) has always interested me. The format of the info files was very distinctive around a whole big batch of the iffily-lineaged OAITW shows. The material was obscure and remains, I am persuaded, almost wholly unlistened-to (though widely collected). The tapes tend to be a little rough around the edges. Information is sketchy. But whichever grizzled old OAITW fan(s) preserved and digitized these tapes, I thank you. Because they capture some fantastic music.

Case in point: Sunday, September 30, 1973, at the Stinson Beach Community Center. Stinson Beach is very evocative for all kinds of reasons. First, if you’ve ever been there, well, you understand it’s appealing. Second, of course, the principals in Old And In The Way (Peter Rowan, David Grisman, Jerry Garcia) all lived in this little town. Garcia’s place, Sans Souci (“No Worry”), has its own deep importance. It’s the house that Mountain Girl wanted that led to Jerry’s first solo album, Garcia. It’s where the Signpost to a New Space interviews were conducted (see reading notes and dates). It, and especially through about 1973, seems to embody a very brief moment of relative domesticity for Jerry. I don’t know when he’d move out, but my notes say that by end of 1975 he and MG had basically split up. Anyway, this is a brief moment when life is good at home and at work. Garcia’s playing around like crazy and living life to the fullest. Nice.

update-20150103-It gets even nicer feeling: this was a benefit for the Bolinas-Stinson School District's music programs - 2 p.m. start. Way to give back to the community, young men!

So this hometown gig, from an unknown (to me) audience recordist, is just a whole lot of fun. The tape isn’t perfect, and neither is the gig. But it’s one I find myself listening to with fair regularity. In a circumstance in which listening time is the dearest commodity, that really says something. It feels good to listen to this. I don’t have the energy to do a full-blown analysis on this, so let me just go shotgun style.

1.     Vassar Clements is a genius. Check out “Lonesome Fiddle Blues” or “Kissimee Kid”. (By the way, I have no idea why it’s spelled with only one ‘m’, when the town in North Florida which is being referred to –Vassar’s hometown, or close to it—is properly spelled Kissimmee. I see it spelled “incorrectly” in the liner notes to Breakdown. I wonder if this is a stoned Deadhead thing that has just lived on forever? Sheesh.) And it’s not just the fiddle tunes that he tears up. He tears everything up. Right on, man.
2.     David Grisman introduces “High Lonesome Sound” [Allan | Scofield] as “The new national anthem of bluegrass music.” I am surely reading too much into this, but we know that David Grisman was a very ambitious young man. I wonder if this was, indeed, his ambition? We have often heard that Old And In The Way was the best-selling bluegrass record of all time, for a time. We don’t really know if that’s true, at least I don’t. But it’s not hard to imagine David seeing the band as fixing to conquer the world. And if that’s the case on 9/30/73, and if they play some incredible shows through October 8th (which they do) and things are going really well, then why did OAITW end so suddenly? There’s the makeup gig at Sonoma State and a 20-minute reunion on April 28, 1974. That’s it. (I show a Nov. 8th date with no other information. I have no idea where it comes from, but I doubt it’s anything other than a phantom.) I am just trying to reconcile in my mind the sense of ambition and possibility that I hear with the knowledge that it would end very, very quickly from this point.
3.     The performance is just lovely. “That High Lonesome Sound” is a fantastic song (a Peter Rowan original). “Land of the Navajo” is beautifully done. Hell, all of the Rowan songs are really, really good. As are all of the bluegrass songs. Etc. You get the idea.
4.     The little bits and pieces of things we know about OAITW said that they played some really local gigs such as this one. It’s nice to have one tape of neighbors getting together for an evening of music like this, Jerry just Jerry and not Jerreeeee. Indeed, the fans seem more crazed for Vassar than for the bearded freak playing the banjo.

Listening Notes, not real elaborate, follow.

Old And In The Way
Community Center
32 Belvedere Avenue
Stinson Beach, CA 94970
September 30, 1973 (Sunday)
93 minute audience recording, shnid 11862

Disc 1 (11 tracks, 47:00)
d1t01 - [0:04] /Going To The Races [2:12] [0:10]
d1t02 - [0:13] On And On [3:42] [0:06]
d1t03 - [0:30] (1) Lonesome Fiddle Blues [2:45] [0:06]
d1t04 - [0:17] Land Of The Navajo [8:43] [0:21]
d1t05 - Eating Out Of Your Hand [2:28] [0:06]
d1t06 - [0:33] Panama Red [2:47] [0:37]
d1t07 - Pig In A Pen [3:02] [0:09]
d1t08 - [0:10] Hobo Song 5:18] [0:20]
d1t09 - [0:12] Lonesome L.A. Cowboy 4:26] [0:10]
d1t10 - [0:42] (2) White Dove [4:36] [0:05]
d1t11 - [0:12] Workin' On A Building// [1:57#] [0:02]

Disc 2 (10 tracks, 46:23)
d2t01 - [0:02] //Swing Low Sweet Chariot [#3:29] [0:15]
d2t02 - [0:35] Kissimee Kid [3:17] [0:16]
d2t03 - dead air [0:08] [1:26] Wild Horses [5:24] ->
d2t04 - Midnight Moonlight [5:12] [0:38]
d2t05 - [0:35] Drifting Too Far From Shore [4:39] [0:03]
d2t06 - [0:13] I Ain't Broke But I'm Badly Bent [3:12] [0:17]
d2t07 - [0:12] Wicked Path Of Sin [2:23] [0:13]
d2t08 - [0:10] Lost [3:34] [0:40]
d2t09 - [0:30] (3) High Lonesome Sound [3:28] [1:01]
d2t10 - [0:08] Blue Mule [4:39] [0:38]

! ACT1: Old And In The Way
! lineup: David Grisman - mandolin, vocals;
! lineup: Peter Rowan - guitar, vocals;
! lineup: Jerry Garcia - banjo, vocals;
! lineup: John Kahn - bass;
! lineup: Vassar Clements - fiddle.


! 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.

! R: Definitely an audience recording. L channel is out for the first several minutes, until about 2:16 of LOTN.

! R: Given lineage: "AUD (DAT: MAR > D > CD)"

! R: Given Comments: "This sometimes is listed as a SBD, but I believe there is just one source for this, a really nice FOB audience recording."

! d1t01 Going To The Races clips in

! d1t03 (1) Vassar Clements ("from Nashville, TN") introduced by David Grisman.

! d1t04 Land of the Navajo is very nice

! d1t10 (2) DG: "What would you like to hear? ... Sunday ... hymns ... hers"

! d1t11 WOAB cuts out

! d2t01 SLSC cuts in

! d2t09 (3) DG: "The new national anthem of bluegrass music, better known as 'The High Lonesome Sound'."

! preview: "Bluegrass Group To Play Benefit," Independent-Journal [San Rafael, CA], September 29, 1973, p. 4.


  1. I was there. Owsley was setting up mikes to
    record it.

  2. Thanks for your recollections, anon.

    In what manner was he setting up to record? I am sure the liner notes of the official releases all explain how we taped OAITW. Without reading them, I assume they were ambient recordings, but from onstage or right up close.

    At times it seemed that Bear liked to also make ambient tapes from farther back, room tapes. There are GD recordings attributed to him said to have been recorded in this way (presumably alongside a soundboard ["line"] tape being run by Kidd or whomever).

    I guess what I am trying to figure out is whether you think this tape, which is a "room" tape rather than a stage tape, I think, might be attributable to Bear? Or do you think that this tape must be distinct from the one that Bear was setting up for?

    Thanks so much.

    Oh yeah ... tell me more about the SHOW. How did you find out about it? Were there handbills around Stinson? Just word of mouth? Had there been any other gigs at the community center, or just this one?



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