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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Reading Notes: Constanten, Tom. 1992. Between Rock and Hard Places: A Musical Autobiodyssey. Eugene, OR: Hulogosi Press.

update 20120107: how could I have missed LIA's post "Constanten on Constanten"? Anyway, there it is, excellent as always.

Spent some time with this, mostly trying to get some more anchoring around Tarot, which has become quite a productive discussion in comments to my post on a "Rubber Duck Mime Band and Jerry Garcia" billing at Mandrake's in Berkeley on June 2-3, 1970.
A few drive-by take-home points for me.
  • Tarot still really confuses me, and especially the nature and extent of Garcia's involvement.
  • We have a Vince Guaraldi and a Howard Wales sighting. Regarding the latter, and based on the context, We can't rule out that he's talking about the GD-Wales encounter on Thursday, August 28, 1969 at the Family Dog at the Great Highway. But it's certainly before 2/1/70. Similarly, we get a data point on GD-Guaraldi that points to sometime before 2/1/70 for his sit-in(s) with the band.

Reading Notes, focused only really on GD/Garcia and points of interest to me, follow. (I.e., I am certainly not representing this as anything other than a data-mining and breadcrumb-establishing enterprise.)

Constanten, Tom. 1992. Between Rock and Hard Places: A Musical Autobiodyssey. Eugene, OR: Hulogosi Press.
Constanten 1992, 70: TC saw Warlocks at The In Room.

Constanten 1992, 70-71: saw GD 5/29/66, spent a few days staying with the band at Olompali.

Constanten 1992, 71: joined them in LA for studio work on Anthem, ca. November 1967?

Constanten 1992, 72: Pigpen, Tom Constanten and Nicky Hopkins hung out talkin' music in a hotel room at Woodstock. Sessions at Columbia Recorders overdubbing a vocal track for Alligator, TC in control room.

Constanten 1992, 74: returning to St. Louis early April 1969.

Constanten 1992, 75: Fillmore West acid spiked apple juice. “I remember Janis venting her high dudgeon at Owsley backstage that night – her trumpet player had got dosed. … When it came time for us to play, Phil’s bass was loosely draped over his shoulders and he was pushed onstage, muttering the while about the Fall of the Roman Empire. … I found Robert Hunter painted onto the stairs on our way out the back door. He and Pete Grant were then decanted into their respective back seats for the rid back home across the Golden Gate Bridge.”

Constanten 1992, 75: Bull Frog festival in Oregon.

Constanten 1992, 76: 4/28/71 he just happened to be in town because of the Tarot project.

Constanten 1992, 76: Dylan was in attendance GD 4/27/71.

Constanten 1992, 76: More NYC. Café a Go Go. Hey Jude encore at Fillmore East (2/11/69). Fillmore East. Woodstock. “a musically warm afternoon at the Central Park bandshell” (6/22/69).
Constanten 1992, 77: LA 1967 met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who didn’t like the band’s name, wanted to call it “Everlasting Life”.

Constanten 1992, 77: “We were supposed to be the band in the movie Zachariah. It got as far as touring the MGM back lot, getting fitted for costumes, and impacting the script, but no farther.” NB movies.

Constanten 1992, 77: mention of Big Rock Pow Wow show. Playboy after Dark.

Constanten 1992, 77: “The band even went horseback riding as a group a couple of times out at Mickey’s ranch in Novato”. Helps to paint the Mickey’s Barn picture: not like they rode every day.

Constanten 1992, 78: 3/15/69 Black and White Ball. 

Constanten 1992, 78: TC had met Garcia 1962.

Constanten 1992, 78-79: Aoxomoxoa

Constanten 1992, 79-82: why he left the band. Mostly it sounds like there just wasn’t enough musical or auditory space for him.

Constanten 1992, 80: “comparing the problems more experienced players, like Vince Guaraldi and Howard Wales, encountered in interacting with the band, I began to suspect that some of the band members themselves didn’t have that clear an idea of the keyboard’s role in a guitar band context”

Constanten 1992, 81: “It was unsettling enough for Phil to pointedly remark how much he preferred Howard Wales’s playing when he sat in with the band. But what really hurt was his apparent insensitivity to the fact that Howie’s system was driving twice as many Leslie speakers as mine.”

Constanten 1992, 81-82: New Orleans bust, early 1970

Constanten 1992: notice that neither the narrative nor the information in the TC Base at the end of the book ever lists Garcia as performing Tarot live, or really involved with it in any way.

Constanten 1992, 84-89: whole Tarot story, but still quite hard to parse exactly who/what/when/where [OCR scanned .doc]

Constanten 1992, pp. 195-197 are the parts of “T.C. Base 3” which cover the years to Tarot [images scanned]. The GD data in TC Base have a number of known errors which I won't try to catalog.


  1. "no known show in K.C. ... 2/5/69, but that’s understood as the second of two nights in Omaha, NB."

    If that's correct, is this show incorrectly labeled?

  2. Heh heh. Not sure why my spreadsheet has it wrong, but I have fixed it now. Thank you, Jeremy!

  3. Is the "Nicky" on page 72 Nicky Hopkins? He sat in for the Airplane set at Woodstock, so I know he was there. Very interesting to see he was already close enough to bunk with the band.

  4. Yes, Hopkins. He talks about Nicky and Pigpen raving about their shared musical idols.

  5. Hopkins did meet TC & Pigpen in their hotel room at Woodstock, but that doesn't necessarily mean he was close with the whole band. (Pigpen had several musical friends who didn't really hang with the Dead.) TC brings it up as an example of how fellow keyboardists meeting on the road were always friendly, and (elsewhere) as an example of how little he knew about the "classic" boogie-style keyboard players that Pigpen & Hopkins admired.

    Guaraldi & Wales - I mentioned this comment by TC in one of the LLD comment threads, and it's very intriguing. We already know Wales played with (most) of the Dead at least once in 1969, and perhaps several times; this is our main confirmation that Guaraldi did as well; and from TC's perspective, what's most interesting is that: a) Phil told TC he preferred Wales' playing; and b) TC mentions that even "more experienced players" like Wales & Guaraldi had problems interacting with the band.
    At any rate, there's a wealth left unsaid there.
    I'll just note that Guaraldi had known the band, particularly through Pigpen, for some time. Pigpen's girlfriend Veronica later said:
    "Janis would come over and they'd play until 4 in the morning. I'd go to sleep, and they'd just play. Elvin Bishop came by a lot. So did Vince Guaraldi; he was a close friend of Pig and the Dead."

    As for Tarot - the only thing that ever suggested Garcia's involvement was a mislabeled 'Tarot outtakes' tape that (wrongly) said he was guesting on guitar. Until the recent Mandrake's thread, in which we discovered that Jerry seems to have played with the Rubber Duck band live at least once in 1970...though the details are few. As far as studio recording, I doubt Garcia was ever involved.


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