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Sunday, December 18, 2011

What's Going On? Listening to the Show Traveling as JGMS 7/22/74

LN jg1974-07-22.jgms.146mins.sbd-GMB.86198.flac1644

I wrote about this Jerry Garcia – Merl Saunders (JGMS) set dated July 22, 1974 and located at the Keystone, Berkeley, some time back. I had suggested that this show (and the one attributed to July 21, 1974, same venue) might not be as it seemed. I initially speculated that it might be from the Sand Dunes, but upon a close listen I don’t think so – it sounds like the Keystone to me. I don’t normally trust my ears, but it’s identified as Keystone and it sounds like everything else I have heard from there, with a good-sized crowd. (For more on the Sand Dunes, see my initial post and check the posts under the Sand Dunes label.)

I have recently gone back to the material identified as JGMS, July 21, 1974 at the Keystone Berkeley and promised to revisit 7/22 as well. I have now done so, and I can say a few preliminary things.

First, the two filesets are clearly related beyond that they are dated to consecutive days. As I note below, the following pieces look to fit together: Pennies From Heaven (7/21/74 front, 7/22/74 back), How Sweet It Is (7/22 v1 front, 7/21 back) and You Can Leave Your Hat On (7/21 front, 7/22 back). I don’t know how what began as scraps of tape got organized and disseminated in this way, but there you go. This all remains to be confirmed, but I think it will be.

Second, while I am not sure I’ll ever be able to figure out exactly what’s what, I presently hold the view that these filesets are approximately correctly dated, which is itself a discovery since there are lots of reasons to misbelieve them. Among them are the following:

  • The Grateful Dead played Hollywood Bowl on 7/21/74.
  • Newspaper listings for the Keystone show different acts on these dates (respectively, Moby Grape and Earthquake on Sunday 7/21, Nite Shift and audition bands on Monday 7/22).  (These contrary listings appear in the Berkeley Barb, July 12-18, 1974, p. 28 and in the Hayward Daily Review, July 19, 1974, p. 36.)
  • Related, Merl Saunders and Martin Fierro were billed for the Sand Dunes on 7/22 (Oakland Tribune, July 21, 1974, p. 2-RAP). 
  •  There are repeated songs on each “date”: When I Die on 7/21 and How Sweet It Is on 7/22.
  • Boogie On Reggae Woman was first released on Stevie Wonder’s Fulfillingness’ First Finale, which appears to have come out on … wait for it … July 22, 1974.

So there are all kinds of reasons to disbelieve these datings. Yet, they feel approximately correct.

First, there’s the matter of the tape labeling itself. These have quite clear provenance (First Batch Betty reels > Dougal Donaldson’s PCM copy > DAT), and it’s not clear that a mislabel would have been likely to intervene in such a short chain. It could have, as the old saga of April 1975 LOM dates suggests. Someone might have been making shit up. But it’d be strange. 

Second, Tony Saunders is here, which implies that John Kahn was not available. (This is not Aunt Monk, remember; it’s Garcia-Saunders. I infer this inter alia from the fact that Garcia sings some tunes.) We know that John was at Hollywood Bowl (with Maria Muldaur’s band) on 7/21/74, and might imagine that he wasn’t in as much of a rush to get back to the Bay Area as Garcia might have been, not least because he had family in LA. 

Third, when else would these have been? We could push out as far as July 1975, but no farther. The setlist, performance quality, song timings, and many other things ring more like 1974 to my ear than 1975. It almost certainly could not have been any earlier.

More specifically (and hence less justifiably), I am entertaining the idea that there were indeed shows on more or less precisely the nights indicated. The plans for Frank Biner and the Nite Shift and some band auditions at Keystone on Monday 7/22 could very easily have been shunted aside if Jerry would be in the house. This would be a really nice Monday-night payday for Freddie Herrera (Keystone proprietor) and the other musicians, so the incentive was there. Regarding 7/21, I guess either that there was a late set from Saturday night to Sunday morning (i.e., starting on 7/20/74) that was labeled the 21st because it started after midnight, or, more likely to my mind (though not likely in any absolute sense), that Garcia indeed did race up from LA after the Hollywood Bowl gig and make it to Berkeley to play the last set with Merl et al. I know it all sounds implausible, but that’s my hunch. There was a flurry of activity in the Oakland Tribune around Saunders and Fierro in July-August 1974 (see, e.g., my post on Merl Saunders and Friends gig at the Inn of the Beginning on May 31-June 1, 1974). I don’t know precisely what it was, but something was going on, and typical patterns (insofar as there were any at this time) could easily have given way.

Baroque listening notes follow.

Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders
July 22, 1974 (Monday)

--Set I (6 tracks, 67:56)--
s1t01. //Pennies From Heaven [#2:20] [1:10]
s1t02. Boogie On Reggae Woman [18:40] [3:53]
s1t03. Wondering Why [17:05] [0:16]
s1t04. How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) // [5:06#]
s1t05. // You Can Leave Your Hat On [#5:27] (1) [0:49]
s1t06. That's What Love Will Make You Do [12:55] (2) [0:12]

--Set II (4 tracks, 78:10)--
s2t01. //Cucumber Slumber [#20:47] [0:40]
s2t02. Harder They Come [17:34] [2:09]
s2t03. What’s Going On [26:22] % [0:04]
s2t04. [0:05] How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) [9:38] (3) [0:49]

! ACT1: Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders
! lineup: Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals;
! lineup: Merl Saunders - keyboards, vocals;
! lineup: Martin Fierro - saxophone, flute;
! lineup: Tony Saunders - bass;
! lineup: Gaylord Birch - drums.


! 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.

! db: shnid 86198 (this seed); shnid 10127 (earlier, slightly shorter version seeded by Darrin Sacks; it gives lineage as MSR>C>DAT, which is possible given that there were indeed cassette decks at the transfer party for the first Betty Batch).

! R: "Source: SBD: MSR > PCM > DAT; Transfer: Panasonic SV-3700 > M-Audio Audiophile 2496 to Wavelab 5.0 mastering with L3 Multimaximizer > CDWAV1.9 > FLAC (level 8). Transferred, Remastered by B. Koucky and Seeded by Green Mountain Bros. June 2007." This, along with "7/21/74", was part of the First Batch of Betty Boards (see Dwork et al. 2000; Harvey 2009, pp. 122-141). It is not identified by Dougal Donaldson (in Dwork et al. 2000, pp. 37-39) as one of the tapes transferred from that batch, but samizdat versions of the history of the Betty tapes include these dates (as well as 6/4/74). As of this writing, I do not know the tape specs, i.e., whether they were 7" or 10" tapes, the recording speed (probably 7.5 ips), any noise reduction applied or decoded (Dolby or DBX), etc. I only know that, per the Betty Board histories, they were half-track tapes played back on Bob Menke's Technics 1506, through Dougal Donaldson's Sony PCM 501ES unit. I presume that the source PCM tape was Dougal Donaldson's.

! setlist: the seeder Bill Koucky had referred to these two pieces as either sets or shows. There is so much other mystery around this date, I'll just keep it simple and call them sets for now. I think we will discover that this material fits together like puzzle pieces with the material dated "7/21/74". Specifically, the following pieces look to fit together: Pennies From Heaven (7/21/74 front, 7/22/74 back), How Sweet It Is (7/22 v1 front, 7/21 back) and You Can Leave Your Hat On (7/21 front, 7/22 back). How the material got distributed across the two recordings this way remains a mystery.

! setlist: Seeder Note: "d2t04 How Sweet It Is may or may not be from this show depending on if it was an early or late show. It is very clear the tune is the last song of the night as Jerry says, “See you all later” and you can hear people in the first rows ask for an encore. There is a tape splice before the song, which may indicate a reel change or a filler to the DAT source. The Jerry Site notes that What’s Going On is cut and this version is not and does not list How Sweet It Is nor does it list the d1tr01 Instrumental [Pennies From Heaven]. This is a more complete source that what previously circulates."

! setlist: s1t01 Pennies From Heaven is the Arthur Johnston/Johnny Burke composition (1936). Thanks to Tony Saunders for identifying it. It also appears as d1t03 on the shnid 117653 fileset for "7/21/74" and on the Aunt Monk show dated 2/14/75.

! R: s1t01 PFH cuts in.

! P: s1t02 BORW comes in smokin', nice entry by the bass and the drums.

! s1t02 after the song, they are warming up "After Midnight" until 19:47, but then change course. @ 20:47 Merl signals "When I Die" and Tony takes the cue. They noodle in for a little bit, change course again. @ 21:24 Garcia seems to strum "The Weight". Merl hits "When I Die" again @ 21:38. In the meantime, he had mentioned "Wondering Why", which is where they go.

! R: s1t04 HSII cuts out

! R: s1t05 YCLYHO cuts in

! s1t05 @ 5:38 (1) I think I hear Garcia say something like "We only have time left to do one more" to his bandmate(s).

! s1t06 @ 13:00 (2) JG: "We're gonna take a break. We'll be back pretty soon."

! setlist: s2t01 Cucumber Slumber is a one-off -- this is the only known version (for Jerry Garcia, naturally). As far as I can tell, it was initially released on Weather Report's Mysterious Traveller (Columbia 32494, 1974). And how would you like some serendipity? According to wikipedia, first, the record was recorded between February and May 1974 at Devonshire Studios in LA, which of course is where (and when) Garcia's Compliments album was recorded. Second, "Greg Errico was the drummer for the tour between the previously released Sweetnighter and [Mysterious Traveller], but declined an invitation to be a permanent member of [Weather Report]." The first references I can find to this album being released are in July 1974 (a review in some Indiana newspaper). It could have been that these guys somehow got their hands on an advance copy, or at least the chart of the Alphonso Johnson/Josef Zawinul composition. Maybe they got a copy of it at Devonshire Studios. But it's unlikely. update: indeed, I think the simpler explanation is that the dating given to this material is wrong, and the gig happened a half year later.

! R: s2t01 Cucumber Slumber cuts in, not much missing.

! P: s2t01 Cucumber Slumber Martin does some very loud squawking at 19-min mark. He would do more and more of this as things progressed. I don't particularly remember him doing it quite this aggressively before about this time (ca. July 1974), but that's something I'd want to check. If you don't like it when Martin squawks, I'd say that shows in '73 and the the first half of '74 will be more to your liking.

! R: there is a persistent R-channel buzz that can be heard especially clearly when Cucumber Slumber ends. It ends around 21:16 of the track. It is back again at the end of HTC, probably has been there all through the music.

! setlist: s2t03 What's Going On is the only known Garcia-associated version (i.e. a one-off). As Corry notes, the drummer for this megahit was none other than Paul Humphrey. I think that certainly makes it more likely that this is Humphrey drumming. update: nope - it's Gaylord Birch

! P: s2t03 WGO is a really nice performance, very exploratory but not too meandering. At times toward the end Tony S. is playing a bass line a little like "Welcome To The Basement". Very nice stuff.

! P: s2t04 HSII Martin is blowing *hard in the 7-minute mark.

! s2t04 (3) JG: "Thank you. We'll see y'all later on."

Dwork, John, and Alexis Muellner, with Dougal Donaldson, Doug Oade and Mark Kraitchman. 2000. Outside the System. In The Deadhead's Taping Compendium, vol. III, An In-depth Guide to the Music of the Grateful Dead on Tape, 1986-1995 (New York: Henry Holt/Owl Books.), pp. 33-62.
Harvey, Katie A. 2009. Embalming the Dead: Taping, Trading and Collecting the Aura of the Grateful Dead. Master of Arts Thesis, Tufts University, August. URL, consulted 12/18/2011.


  1. Release dates for albums in the 1970s were more aspirational than real. If the "date" for the Stevie Wonder album was "July 22" the album could be available in stores weeks before or not until weeks after. Promo copies would also have been widely available (I could explain all of this, but its too much of a tangent even for me).

    As a result, knowing the "date" of the Wonder album release insures that its not from six months earlier, but there's no reason that the album or a tape of it hadn't been in Merl and Jerry's hands for a couple of weeks already. Plenty of time to have the single rehearsal they would need to learn the tune.

  2. It's very unlikely that there were advance tickets sold for Moby Grape/Earthquake, so even if the date had to be moved it wouldn't have been insurmountable. Moby Grape was legendary, but not a big club draw. Both Moby Grape and Earthquake were local, so having their gig put off a few weeks, in return for a cash advance or something, was a solution that would have been acceptable (it wouldn't have been to a touring act).

    Every once in a while, the Keystone had early and late shows, usually for touring acts who had suddenly spiked in popularity. So it's not inconceivable that Moby Grape/EQ played at 7:00pm and JGMS at 11:00, with a separate admission.

    As to Frank Biner and Night Shift plus auditions, if JGMS played then Frank Biner could have opened the show and the auditions could have been skipped. Biner and The Night Shift weren't well known at the time, and were probably getting $100 or something, so that could have been paid out of the night's proceeds.

    All of this is complete speculation on my part (my specialty!), but it does make the point that if you have some reason for confidence in the dates, the Keystone schedule could have accommodated it.

  3. Thanks for establishing this stuff, Corry. Both perspectives are useful, especially the album one. And it resolves what has been a puzzling question for me, which is the following: why is it so dang hard to find precise release dates for albums? It's not like it wasn't an industry that catalogued itself well. On the contrary. Yet getting a firm date is impossible. Now I know why: no firm date actually "existed". Cool.


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