Please make yourself at home! Check some tags, do some reading, leave a comment.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Welcome to your new home, Vassar Clements: OAITW at the Keystone, 7/21/73

LN jg1973-07-21.oaitw.b-live-all.sbd-PNW.113845.flac1644
substantially updated 20110629-1438 EST

We have here a 94 minute soundboard of Old And In The Way, identified as at the Keystone, 2119 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA, 94704 on the evening of Saturday, July 21, 1973. The tape was in the collection of Will Boswell via Jerry Garcia’s own copy, held and apparently shared by his once and future main squeeze, Debbie. Matt Smith is doing the transfers, and I tend to shorthand these as ‘PNW’ because they emanate from the Great Pacific Northwest. This same source also supplies a rehearsal tape, said to be from earlier this same afternoon at the Lion’s Share, a club which would have been local to the Marin- (and, for a number of them, specifically, Stinson-) based freaks in the band, at 60 Red Hill Avenue in San Anselmo. As Matt pointed out in his notes, it’s neat to have a rehearsal tape and a gig tape from the same day, provides a nice “day in the life” feeling, back when Garcia could still mostly live like a human being.

It’s terrific material, and we are all incredibly fortunate to be able to listen to it. We have to remember what lucky music fans we are. Here we have rehearsal and gig tapes, nice tapes, of the great Vassar Clements. (And all the rest of these guys, natch.) We can study this stuff intensively and extensively. It’s great stuff.

Little outline for what has become a longish (for me) note.

  • I. Dating: Might as well call it 7/21/73b.
  • II. Aside: Was there a Boarding House show on 7/23/73?
  • II. Personnel Comments
    • A. John Kahn
    • B. Vassar Clements
      • 1. Welcome to the Bay Area as Member of OAITW, Vassar!
      • 2. The Arc (or Three Bursts) of Vassar with/and OAITW
      • 3. Was Vassar Clements a "Member" of OAITW?
      • 4. The Improbable Junction of Vassar and the Rest of These Guys?
      • 5. Clarence White and Muleskinner, RIP
      • 6. Was it Mostly About Making (a) Record(s)?
  • III. Setlist and Repertoire
  • IV. Listening Notes
I. Dating
The gig tape under analysis comes with impeccable provenance, as described in the 1st graf. It says 7/21/73, and that should be our operating assumption, our baseline.

Yet, some questions arise around this dating.

First, this is the same material that has historically circulated as "7/23/73 Boarding House" (e.g., shnid 4490, shnid 4491, shnid 11888). A priori, a Monday night gig at the Boarding House sounds a little unlikely. Furthermore, I have not seen any evidence for the 7/23 dating other than recordings, though it’s possible I have not looked. The McNally-Arnold JG List lists neither date. There are ads in support of a 7/21 listing. If this were all, I’d say it’s an overdetermined, closed case of a more credible tape label and other evidence defeating a less credible tape label. Full stop.

But that’s not all because, second, this recording raises a few questions.

(1)  why is John Kahn not present here (I don't think -- see personnel note below), when he was at the afternoon rehearsal (he does play on the 7/21/73a rehearsal)?
(2)  Why does audience member ask for "Wild Horses" toward the end of this fileset (see d2t10 note 4 below) when they had already played it as the performance is represented here (d1t09 as released; d1t10 on my retracked copy)?
(3)  The placement of certain cuts and chatter doesn't make sense. For example, they say they are on their last number before Hobo Song, but then there's a setbreak announcement after High Lonesome Song, which is presented as the long song of the night. It's just not consistent with this being in the same order in which it was played, which opens up more general questions and joins with the questions above to raise some doubts.
(4)  Not a question and certainly not a criticism, but the nature of the recording--lots of tape discontinuities-- makes it impossible to know where things should go.

Overall, there's no smoking gun, nothing that unambiguously supports or contradicts either dating for this material. Maybe it’s a little of both. Maybe it’s other dates. Maybe it’s a hodgepodge. We just can’t know, and so I conclude that we should just keep calling it "7/21/73b", the live gig at the Keystone on the Saturday night, after the earlier rehearsal that same day, the 2nd night of weekend in Berkeley, etc.

II. Aside: was there an OAITW show at the Boarding House on Monday, July 23, 1973?

The only evidence known to me is a tape label which, as I have just elaborated, probably loses a provenance test to the PNW source. It is interesting that it did not figure on the McNally-Arnold JG List. More often than not, a tape with these features –not on that list, and duplicating material dated differently—will turn out to have been a mislabel. That said, the Jerry Site's 7/23/73 entry notes contribution from Ed Perlstein, who is pretty good provenance himself. If TJS contributor Kurt Asplundh can shed any light, or anyone else for that matter, that'd be great!

On the other hand, this little period is clearly unique (as they all are, I know!), but might  involve otherwise-implausible gigs because of the details of Vassar’s involvement.  Let me elaborate.

Vassar joins up with OAITW on the East Coast on June 4, 1973, warms up with ‘em in the hotel room, and plays gigs in Boston (Orpheum Theatre, June 5), Passaic (Capitol Theatre, June 6th, ?Garcia’s first John-Scher booked non-GD gig?) and the Palace Theatre in Waterbury, CT (June 7th – not 100% sure about this listing). Then they do the Whippoorwill Festival in Warrenton, VA on June 8, 1973 –about which I plan on saying a considerable amount at some point, Garcia burns for two days with the GD and the Allmans and others at RFK in DC, and then another little bluegrass festival (?) at Temple University-Ambler in Ambler, PA (someone please get to the bottom of that one!) on the 11th.

After that, Garcia does a tour with the GD after apparently taking a weekend off (Friday 6/15/73 and Saturday 6/16/73 … anyone wanna bet he had his guitar handy, wherever he was?). Then he and Merl warmup on a Thursday at the Lion’s Share (July 5, 1973) before recording a series of shows for commercial release. The 7/7 show is a mystery, but the great July 8th Record Plant session is a great way to get ready to record. Then come the July 10 and July 11 JGMS shows which gave us a whole mess of officially released material. Live at the Keystone (Fantasy F-79002, 1973), Keystone Encores Volume 1 (Fantasy FCD 7701-2, 1988), Keystone Encores Volume 2 (Fantasy MPF 4534, 1988) were on vinyl. As Scofield notes, “the tracks from the original double LP and the two 1988 releases were reconfigured and released as” the CDs Live At The Keystone Volume 1 (Fantasy FCD 7701-2, 1988) [JGMF], Live At The Keystone Volume 2 (Fantasy FCD 7702-2, 1988) [JGMF], and Keystone Encores (Fantasy FCD 7703-2, 1988)[JGMF]. As far as can be determined from existing setlists, all but three or four of the songs played at this pair of dates were released.

On July 15, 1973, guitar legend, apparent übermensch and Muleskinner compadre Clarence White is killed in a car accident. A piece of the Muleskinner-OAITW jigsaw puzzle that Corry has started to unravel in his "1972-73 Muleskinner/Old And In The Way Timeline" at LLD. At the very least, there's a weird emotional register to the 7/21/73b material that might be partly accounted for by the melancholy of such a moment. Not a lot of cutting up, laughing. Vassar as the only one really yee-hawing it up. (I am not accusing him of being insensitive, BTW. Just pointing it out. We all deal with this stuff as we do. And I think Vassar knew Clarence. Hadn't Vassar been in So Cal for a bit, sort in his Earl Scruggs Revue and Will the Circle Be Unbroken period?)

A few days later, we have a show listed as OAITW, a Wednesday (7/18/73) in Cotati, which I find perfectly plausible. [edit: indeed!] This would be Vassar Clements's first Bay Area OAITW show. Gotta get warmed up together, run through some numbers? Do it midweek in Cotati. I bet it was an absolute blast ... oh to have been a fly on the wall. There are some canceled GD gigs in this window (Duke University, Friday 7/20/73, per Deadbase IX), the weekend in Berkeley, a gig at Crabshaw Corner in far-flung Sacramento –perhaps Garcia’s first GOTS gig in Sacto (2/12/72 is spurious here)--, then down to Homers Warehouse in Palo Alto on the 24th before Garcia leaves for Watkins Glen. My friends, that’s six out of seven nights with OAITW. (Jerry spent his “off” night from OAITW with JGMS on 7/19/73, jamming for the first documented time with horn player Martin Fierro, as well as an unidentified harmonica player and trying to roll with Sara Fulcher's impromptu scatting. Slacker.)

So my notion is that they played like hell when Vassar arrived to make him some gittin’ started money, and that this makes a 7/23/73 Boarding House gig totally plausible. Maybe it’s not on the old lists because they got a last-minute, Monday night booking? If you owned the Boarding House, wouldn’t you do it? Hell, yeah. Gotta be better than however many dime beers he’d sell otherwise.

Wow, that got long, sorry. Anyway, bottom line: 7/23/73 Boarding House seems plausible. There’s no evidence beyond unknown-provenance tape label, possibly derived from Ed Perlstein, in support of it, but there's none that I know of that contradicts it, either.

III. Personnel

A. John Kahn (June 13, 1947 - May 30, 1996)

Is he here? For the life of me, I do not hear a bass player. I think, instead, the bottom I hear is mostly from Peter Rowan’s guitar. It’s possible that Kahn wasn’t mic’d for some reason. But it’s also possible he’s not there. As I note above, this would raise some question as to the dating, since he is present on the 7/21/73a afternoon rehearsal tape. Maybe there was an emergency or he got a flat tire, no idea. And not a big deal in the scheme of things. But the number of shows that Garcia played without either Phil Lesh, John Kahn or David Torbert on bass is strikingly small, and any deviation is probably worth noting.

B. Vassar Clements (April 25, 1928 – August 16, 2005)

1. Welcome to the Bay Area as Member of OAITW, Vassar!

As I noted in discussing the rehearsal tape, this was a pretty big night for OAITW. Insofar as anyone invested any hopes and dreams in this agglomeration, Saturday 7/21/73 in Berkeley was important. I hypothesize that it was conceived as the introduction of fiddle legend Vassar Clements as a member of OAITW to the home crowd (after the smaller "hello" in Cotati on 7/18). I admit that I am mostly basing this on the ad, with its “Special Guest Fiddler From Nashville Vassar Clements” addendum, but it also makes sense. We know that these guys, and it seems to me most notably Grisman, were pleased as punch to have Vassar on board. And why not? The man was a deserved legend.

2. The Arc (or Three Bursts) of Vassar with/and OAITW

I have already chronologized a little above, but let me summarize it in a table, with data derived from the Jerry Site (but excluding the mid- and late-summer 1973 bluegrass festivals, at which OAITW almost certainly did not play).

Old And In The Way w/ Vassar Clements. Data source: The Jerry Site.
OAITW with Vassar Clements amounts to something like twenty shows, total. And, when you look at the pattern I have set out above, you see that it was actually approximately three one-week spurts of gigging, with a single one-off in the middle. (I’ll add that I’d like to see evidence that OAITW played that 8/22/73 gig. Color me skeptical until I do.) You get a spurt in June, one in July, and one in October. The November gig was a reschedule from an earlier cancellation, and then OAITW played one more time, a special reunion to close out the Golden State Country Bluegrass Festival on Sunday, April 28, 1974. That’s it!

3. Was Vassar Clements a "Member" of OAITW in the formalistic way I understand that term (as distinct from "invited guest", as distinct from "sitting in")?

All of this, and some conversations I have been having about the meaning of such concepts as "band", "group", "membership" and others, leads me to revisit something. Here's a tighter view on the Keystone Berkeley ad from the Berkeley Barb, July 19, 1973 - August 1, 1973, p. 21:

Vassar is listed as a "Special Guest". Without taking that word as if it were consciously deployed in the same sense in which I mean it, I wonder if "guest" isn't closer to the truth of Vassar's connection than "member". I don't know. It's heretical and contradicted by the language used by everyone else, as far as I know. But these three one-week spurts ... I wonder when the plan to record live (which is represented by all of the releases featuring material from the October 1 and October 8 shows, recorded by Bear) was hatched, by whom, and if this thought wasn't hand-in-glove with bringing Vassar in? In this sense, I wonder if Vassar wasn't more than a hired gun -- an amazing one, but a hired gun nonetheless?

All we ever hear about Vassar coming in are vague platitudes of the "he was great, he was available, we jumped at the chance" variety. "[fill-in name here, Grisman or Rowan] just called him up." Those things are probably mostly true/accurate. But I certainly think there were good, clean professional and pecuniary motivations at work, too.

4. The Improbable Junction of Vassar and the Rest of These Guys?

Now, to start, it's not improbable in the sense that they were all pretty hot musicians wanting to play hot music with other hot musicians. We don't need to be musicologists to understand that this drives a lot of things! And the fabric of bluegrass was woven pretty densely, so there are almost certainly a large number of 1-degree-of-separation linkages between these five guys. So I don't want to overstate the case.

But, yet, here's a Southerner (born in North Florida, i.e., the Deep South), 15-20 years older than these other guys, pomade-slicked-it-was-a-crewcut-once 'do, apparently coming off a drinking problem which put his career on hold for some number of years ca. late 1960s-start of 1970s, been gigging around with the cutting-edge Earl Scruggs Revue and and meeting-of-the-generations Will the Circle Be Unbroken project around that same time, who can tear the fucking fiddle to shreds and make you weep while he does it.

Here's fellow former Blue Grass Boy Pete "Panama Red" Rowan, now chasing the next line, Marin on top of LA on top of Bahston. Here's the very scruffy and very far-out spacy, but exacting and smokin'-hot-pickin' David Grisman, just out of his "David Diadem" phase and on the verge of creating a new musical style of his own. Big tall feller on the big fiddle, quiet, smart, funny, good player. Last but not least, you learn when you meet him, here's a 'lectric guitar rock star who was once a banjo star. Jerry Garcia is a hairy, hairy freak of a man, but he's a force of nature on every dimension that might matter.

I guess I think the shared interests and the shared networks and the setting and possibilities combine to make the Vassar-OAITW connection. They are in Marin County, CA, it's summertime, they've got a built-in ticket-buying audience (thank you, JERRY ... Jerry ... jerry ... GARCIA ... Garcia ... garcia !!! ... !! ... !), record company lined up ... why the hell not? Line up a bunch of gigs, get warmed up, roll some tape, and then see what happens.

5. Clarence White and Muleskinner, RIP

One other thing. Having just revisited Corry's post on the Muleskinner-OAITW connections. To recap, the members of Muleskinner were as follows:
  • Peter Rowan-guitar, vocals
  • Clarence White-lead guitar, vocals
  • David Grisman-mandolin, vocals
  • Richard Greene-violin, vocals
  • Bill Keith-banjo
John Kahn also played some bass with Muleskinner, and recall that Richard Greene played fiddle with OAITW for a month or two ca. April-May 1973. So there's massive overlap between the two groups. Corry describes Clarence White's passing thusly:

July 15, 1973: Clarence White died after being hit by a drunk driver at 2am in Palmdale, CA, while White was loading equipment into his car. It would take me 10,000 words to explain how great a player Clarence was, and I'm not even a guitar player (apparently it takes even more if you can play). Suffice to say, any plans that Grisman, Rowan and others may have had for "Muleskinner" would have been put permanently in abeyance with Clarence's untimely death.
At the risk of being crass, I wonder if Clarence's passing, and, as Corry notes, the demise of any professional plans organized around Muleskinner, didn't act as an accelerant for OAITW, or for professional (i.e., money-making) aspirations surrounding it, including Vassar's "membership". I am not saying they called Vassar up on the 16th and asked him to do some gigging and cut some records over Clarence's still-warm body. Hell, they had already played with Vassar the prior month, and it seems pretty clear that they (felt they) needed a fiddle player. And Vassar is one hell of a player. But I do wonder if the short-cutting of Muleskinner engendered the jump-starting of OAITW, both with some gaggles of gigs and through cutting some studio tracks.

6. Was it Mostly About Making (a) Record(s)?

Thought experiment: perhaps it's not coincidence that OAITW ended once the recordings were in the can? After the October Boarding House gigs, did any of these guys play again with Vassar (at least in the 70s) except for the 11/4/73 makeup, the GAMB 4/26/74 sit-in by Vassar, Garcia and Vassar in together with the Greenbriar Boys on 4/28/74, and the OAITW "reunion" performance later that night? It seems like they broke up right after they recorded the live tracks for possible release.Can anyone shed any light on the reported studio recordings of OAITW? Now *those* I would love to hear.

Summary of all of this: To me, Vassar’s playing is the real highlight of this music. He provided such depth to this band of young hotshots. Too bad it didn't last, for whatever reason.

IV. Setlist/Repertoire

I am not sure how noteworthy the setlist is relative to other OAITW shows, but since I have never gone through OAITW setlists very carefully I thought I’d do it here, get a since of the distribution of musical sources and styles. Here’s a table of the credits for the songs they played on this night, from data hosted by Alex Allan.

OAITW’s repertoire presents a fascinating slice of the many American (or pseudo-so, as in "Wild Horses") musics from which the band and its members drew.

First are the traditional, old-timey and bluegrass numbers. There are lots of grey areas here, of course, lots of speciation happening between those niches. Carter Stanley and Bill Monroe credits and that sort of thing. I have no idea if the distribution of songs springing from this well is different here on July 21 than it typically would be around this time, or would have been with Richard Greene in April, or not. I have a tiny hunch that there's more Carter Stanley here than I am used to seeing, stuff shading a little more toward the old-timey and traditional vein, but I can't be sure. Either way, all of that would represent the lingua franca between the hairy freaks and Vassar. If you look through Allan and Scofield's notes on these songs, you'll see a bunch for which tape from Garcia's pre-GD days also exists. This is further confirmation, I'd say, of the lingua franca appeals of the old favorites.

Regarding the specific versions of these songs, I am just not expert enough in listening to this sort of music to give much evaluation. I would love if some bluegrass freak looking for good conversation would join our little community here (but everyone should blog, and blog more! Join us! You have nothing to lose but your time!). Anyway, I'll just mention two specific numbers very informally. Number one: this is the only OAITW version known to me of the great Monroe haunter "Cheyenne". Not sure how the Big Mon could pick up the feel of those particular high plains, but he does it brilliantly here. Great song. (I think Rowan would agree, since "Cheyenne"'s feel becomes "Land of the Navajo"'s hook.) Number two: "Orange Blossom Special" is just a brilliant piece of songwriting. Greatest. Train. Song. Ever.

Second, we find six Peter Rowan originals in the setlist. One function/aspect of the band was indeed as a Rowan "song" vehicle. If forced to choose I would mostly classify these as country-bluegrass, while some ("Lonesome L.A. Cowboy") are closer to soft country rock (early "Eagles", for example). I have to say that these songs are generally pretty awesome, though no versions from this fileset jump out as me as exceptional.

Third, this set features only one instrumental contribution each from David Grisman and the great Vassar Clements, whose "Lonesome Fiddle Blues" is a freaking masterpiece. Haunting and fantastic, right up there with the great fiddle tunes that I know (though I confess to not knowing many.) The Grisman datum is interesting because in listening to the tapes I sometimes get the sense that David is treated a little like a beta dog. "Fanny Hill" also seems not to have been a favorite of his, insofar as it wasn't released until sometime later. It feels kind of like a transitional piece for Grisman, more toward bluegrass than Dawg Music. Grisman was clearly growing very quickly at this stage, and I suspect that the misfit between his own ambitions and musical trajectory and the space allowed for him to enact them in this particular band may have been one of the frictions that led to its too-quick demise.

Fourth, there’s a smattering of other country-bluegrass stuff, on none of which I am particularly qualified to speak.

Summing up, and as Corry has discussed with me, one aspect of the relatively short tenure of OAITW may be the different pulls of, say, Peter Rowan's songs vs. traditional/bluegrass/oldtimey/etc. vs. Dawg Music. I am not making it too conflictual, but we don't know much about how OAITW ended and it's pretty straightforward to suggest that there were just too many tradeoffs to be made, too many songs (and musical styles) chasing too few gigs and album tracks. The fact that certain members had tightly constraining "other obligations" *cough* GD! *cough* certainly wouldn't have helped, but it could be that there other design flaws in the band's DNA that doomed it to be short-lived.

V. Listening Notes follow after the jump.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Garcia and Saunders at the Lion's Share (LN jg1973-07-05.jgms.all.sbd-alligator.79032.flac1644)

update 201605015: this show is slated for official release as (per B&N) Garcialive 6: July 5 1973 Lion's Share (Jerry Garcia / Merl Saunders).
slight update 20110816, as noted below

Like 2/16/74, this was a previously uncirculated Betty Board dropped by the mysterious 'alligator' into the ether at Lossless Legs, this one about five years ago. What fantastically lucky music fans we are to have had this band playing, Betty Cantor taping, Rob Eaton preserving and documenting those tapes, and 'alligator' sharing them.

The show strikes me as very characteristic for the period, which is only knowable in the sense that the Live at Keystone releases so thoroughly mine the July 10-11 shows in Berkeley (see my post on the distribution of the July 11, 1973 show across the official releases, which will also link to the other cuts into the associated sets of material). At this stage of the game, there are not really any Merl Saunders vocals leads, though here he does sing a few verses of “The System”. There’s lots of soul and R&B, some jazz, a smattering of other Americana and a number of Saunders originals that are approached as improvisational vehicles.

As I note in the listening notes below, there are two things of special interest about this show.

First is the setlist. When this was released, both "The System" and "Merl's Tune" were just identified as instrumentals. The correct titles were nominated by "sl halper" at deadnetcentral and have been confirmed. There are some very interesting selections here, with three bona fide Saunders-penned rarities.

"She's Got Charisma" [Allan | Scofield] is a slow blues, in the same emotional register as "Lonely Avenue". The title is a little fluid. It was first released on the vinyl Fire Up (Fantasy 9421, 1973) as “Charisma (She’s Got)” and lacking Garcia. As Alex Allan notes, it was not included on the subsequent CD Fire Up Plus (Fantasy FCD 7711-2, 1992), but did appear on the 1997 Keepers CD (Fantasy FCD-7712) with a 1972 date and renamed “She’s Got Charisma”. I use the later-officialized title. As a side note, it appears to have been covered by Cal Tjader on a 1973 album Last Bolero in Berkeley (Fantasy, 1973), the credits of which also seem to include Paul Humphrey, who would later drum with Jerry and Merl.
"The System" [Allan | Scofield] is a pretty nicely funkified piece of social commentary, including Merl's early ecological interest (cf. "Save Mother Earth" [Allan | Scofield]). This version has (some of) the vocals. I cannot remember if others do. My sense is that at least some versions they played are instrumental, but I'd have to check.
"Merl's Tune" [Allan | Scofield], finally, is most readily accessed through the Garcia/Saunders/Kahn/Vitt Live at the Keystone, volume 1 release (Fantasy FCD 7701-2, 1988), a version which was played five days after this one. This particular rendition is interesting because the tune is only the barest skeleton for what they actually do. In fact, they never play the distinctive swooping intro followed by the fast carnival swirl that starts off the album version (and which I really like). Really, there's just Merl playing the organ line and the rest of the band playing around it. And the "Merl's Tune" theme pops up all the way to the end of the "collective improvisation" (i.e., jam) that follows it. In other words, it would be just as plausible to have that all tracked together and to think of it as a 25+ minute version of “Merl's Tune.” NB that Allan credits only Saunders for this composition, while Scofield credits Merl and a John White. I am inclined to go with Scofield’s information.

Second, there is an unidentified trumpet player throughout the second set of this show. I made a general post sometime back on Garcia’s unidentified guests. It needs an update. For now I’ll just note that there is an unidentified trumpeter on four dates in circulation: 12/28/72, 7/5/73, 10/2/73, and “9/1/74”. (I put “9/1/74” in quotes because the Pure Jerry #4 release with this date [Jerry Made JGCD0004, 2004] would certainly seem to be from more than one show. update: someone somewhere told me that it's the same material as that traveling as 8/24/74.)

Based on comments to the original post, the first seems like some random walking up from the crowd. The other three dates seem likely to be the same guy. I don’t have ears to hear this with any confidence, myself, but DNC poster ‘sl halper’ notes that this guy on 7/5/73 is doing some of the same stuff as the guy on “9/1/74”. Now, he’s copping Coltrane’s “Resolution”, which would hardly be his own little secret riff, but the sense I get is that it’s the same player.

Who might it be? I guess I plan on addressing that in my updated post on unidentified guests, but let me just throw out some candidates here. I elaborate as I can; where there’s no elaboration, it really means I am pretty much just guessing.

·       Bill Atwood. Corry had suggested him as the player on 10/2/73, a suggestion taken up by Wolfgang’s Vault in its “release” of that gig.
·       Ken Balzall. A Hooteroll? credit makes this one worth looking at. The AHATT principle.
·       Joe Ellis. Deadbase has always said that it was Ellis playing trumpet during the Grateful Dead’s Fall 1973 East Coast shows, alongside Martin Fierro on saxophone. But in his comments, Corry avers that this information probably came from him and he’s not sure about it. Both Atwood and Ellis get playing credits on the GD’s 1973 release Wake of the Flood which, having been recorded in August 1973, is certainly in keeping with the timeframe under examination.
·       Luis Gasca. Corry has offered him as a possibility in comments on my Garcia’s unidentified guests post. This is not him.
·       Mark Isham. Blair Jackson reports that Isham denies it being him.
·       Melvin Moore. He gets the trumpet credits on (Compliments of) Garcia, Jerry’s second solo album. I assume he’s an LA guy, but who knows.
·       Hadi al-Saadoon. I think this may be too early to have been Mr. al-Saadoon, who enters the Shared Stage of the Garciaverse on 8/30/75, a Keith and Donna Band gig at the Orphanage [shnid 91765], so who knows? Scofield’s deaddisc identifies him as Hadi El Sadoon for his playing credits on Robert Hunter’s Tales of the Great Rum Runners. I believe I have it spelled correctly.
·       Jack Walrath. A Doug Sahm connection. Update added 20110818: is this Jack Walrath the same Jack Walrath who played on Mingus's Changes Two, who composed the earth-shattering "Black Bats and Poles"? Man oh man, what a genius. And a hellaciously good, real aggressive trumpet player. The guy here is good, and having just spent some time again with Mingus, it could almost be the same guy. I dunno, I just don't have ears for the trumpet.
·       Peter Welker. He has been mentioned as a possibility.
·       John Wilmeth. He has a few playing credits on Keepers., so he was a "Heavy Turbulence" guy. Man, I wish there were tape of that band.

Of course it could have been someone else entirely, from any variety of connections. I really have no idea. Whoever it was, it’s probably worth noting that Garcia (I presume – could also have been Merl and/or John) was looking for something more than what he got out of the guitar-bass-keys-drums quartet setup. Of course there had been second guitarists, from Tom Fogerty (ca. 1971-early 1973) to George Tickner (ca. spring 1973). Sarah Fulcher had been around in the first part of ’73 and would appear with Garcia/Saunders at least as late as October, singing in her very distinctive scatting style. Martin Fierro would come in two weeks to the day from the performance being noted here (7/19/73, Great American Music Hall) and would be more or less around for two solid years, seemingly giving the band the fill and color that they (or someone) wanted.

Anyway, an interesting show and a really nice tape. Listening notes follow after the jump.

LN jg1973-07-21.oaitw.early.sbd-smith-boswell.113805.flac1644

ad for Keystone, Berkeley, July 19 - August 1, 1973; Berkeley Barb (7/19/73-8/1/73), p. 21
Let me just make a few points to head up these listening notes for this newly-circulated version of these rehearsals. They are very, very important.

First, the provenance of the tape is awesome. Thanks to the Pacific Northwest Crew for this one.

Second, there's evidence on the tape that lends near-perfect credibility (for me) to the date/time/place/personnel ascribed to this. I totally believe this is 7/21/73 in the afternoon at the Lion's Share, in between two shows at the Keystone, Berkeley which, I am coming to believe, served as the introduction of Vassar Clements to the Bay Area. I also list a show at the Inn of the Beginning in Cotati midweek (Wednesday, July 18), which would have been a good place and time to warm up the act in public, but without a big crowd, before heading to the (relatively!) bigger deal weekend gigs at the Keystone. Anyway, long-winded way of saying, again, that I completely believe that this is exactly 7/21/73 in the afternoon at the Lion's Share. You could call this (presumably part of) the "Vassar Clements rehearsals".

Third, related, I need to go foresensically through the OAITW rehearsal tapes that are around. There are a shitload of filesets out there. While they have been much-collected, I think they are little-auditioned and remain almost entirely unanalyzed. I wouldn't be surprised to find more "Vassar Clements rehearsals", as well as some "Richard Greene rehearsals". (I doubt there are Hartford or other pieces, but who knows?)

Fourth, having confidence in this date/time/location/configuration gives me more confidence that the evening's show from Berkeley, which the Pacific Northwest (PNW) crew has also recently dropped (shnid 113845), is correctly dated. I know that the material is the same as what has long traveled as Monday, July 23, 1973 at the Boarding House, 960 Bush Street, San Francisco, 94109. I am going to revisit it soon, hopefully today, but my working hypothesis is that the 7/21/73 dating is probably correct. I'll report back.

Update: Done!

Fifth, for my taste this source deprecates a bunch of filesets:

There may be other bits and pieces of this same material floating around amongst the undated OAITW rehearsal snippets, but figuring that out is a project.

Old And In The Way
Lion's Share
60 Red Hill Avenue
San Anselmo, CA, 94960
July 21, 1973 (Saturday), afternoon rehearsal
PNW sbd shnid-113805

(22 tracks, 78:15)
jg1973-07-21a-smith-t01. (1) [0:28] Little Bessie [3:42]
jg1973-07-21a-smith-t02. talk [0:09], % On And On (false start) [0:43]
jg1973-07-21a-smith-t03. On And On [3:39]
jg1973-07-21a-smith-t04. tuning and talking [1:15]
jg1973-07-21a-smith-t05. Lonesome Fiddle Blues [2:59] %
jg1973-07-21a-smith-t06. tuning and talking (2) [1:39]
jg1973-07-21a-smith-t07. Land Of// The Navajo [6:#59]
jg1973-07-21a-smith-t08. talk and tuning [0:20] % [0:25], Going To The Races [2:33]
jg1973-07-21a-smith-t09. Land Of The Navajo [8:25]
jg1973-07-21a-smith-t10. talk (3) and tuning [1:14], Cedar Hill [3:37] [0:03], randomness [0:02]
jg1973-07-21a-smith-t11. dead air, fiddle/bass jam, tuning and talking [1:22]
jg1973-07-21a-smith-t12. High Lonesome Sound [3:42]
jg1973-07-21a-smith-t13. false start [0:21] % Hobo Song [4:58] [0:03]
jg1973-07-21a-smith-t14. [0:06] % /Wild Horses [4:34] [0:04]
jg1973-07-21a-smith-t15. Lonesome L.A. Cowboy [4:29]
jg1973-07-21a-smith-t16. tuning and talking, Pig In A Pen chorus practice [2:05]
jg1973-07-21a-smith-t17. Pig In A Pen [3:04]
jg1973-07-21a-smith-t18. tuning and talking (4) [2:22]
jg1973-07-21a-smith-t19. Kissimee Kid [2:56]
jg1973-07-21a-smith-t20. Kissimee Kid [3:07]
jg1973-07-21a-smith-t21. tuning and talking (5) [1:22]
jg1973-07-21a-smith-t22. Midnight Moonlight [4:50], talk (6) and silliness [0:15], dead air [0:07]

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

! R: 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.
! TJS:
! db: shnid -113805 (this source).
 ! R: MR @ 7.5ips (Recorded by Betty Cantor on her Nagra) > R @ 3.75ips (Jerry Garcia's copy) > R @ 3.75ips (Will Boswell's copy). Transferred and mastered by Matt Smith 5/11. CD > flac using dbpoweramp, checksums created with TLH by gballen 05-28-2011. JGMF copy: files renamed and tagged with foobar2000.
! R: we can call this a soundboard if we'd like, but I have to think that'd be a misnomer. Presumably there were no lines anywhere, and these guys were all acoustic. So this recording would have been an ambient recording, n'est-ce pas?! R: Matt Smith's notes: "This (7-21-73) is from the famed "Debbie Stash" that Will copied back in early 1979. The rehearsal has circulated but the late show from the Keystone has never surfaced until now. The real cool thing about this is that it gives the listener the whole scope of a typical day for Jerry back then. You know, get up, go to the GD office maybe, then rehearse with your bluegrass buddies then decide you are going to do a gig at the Keystone that night!! This time period was probably a very happy time in his life and it comes through in his playing here."
! Technical: since there is no clear set distinction here, I renamed the tracks from the "dxtxx" format to a continuous naming. If you want the original disc splits they were between t10 and 11, though of course with this total time there'd be no need for disc splits at all (unless one could track down some 74-minute CDs!).
! (1) dead air [0:10]; @ 0:xx: ??: "Wanna try that 'Little Bessie' that we were doin' in G last night?" I think this reference to "last night" is important in time-stamping this. The ad in the Berkeley Barb makes a fair amount of "Special Guest Fiddler from Nashville Vassar Clements". This seems to have been billed as Vassar's introduction to the Bay Area as a member of OAITW. Why is that relevant here? Because it makes sense that they'd be rehearsing this stuff in between the two billed shows. It's just a little detail that fits the given date/time of July 21, 1973 in the afternoon (in a little place they've gigged, just down the road from Stinson where Rowan, Grisman and Garcia lived) with absolute perfection.
! setlist: jg1973-07-21a-smith-t01 was listed as "Someone Calling My Name", but its correct title is "Little Bessie". Verified from! jg1973-07-21a-smith-t06 (2) Jerry talking about his banjo: gives the names/model, bought it last week. It's brand new.
! jg1973-07-21a-smith-t07 LOTN influenced by Kaw-Liga?
! R: jg1973-07-21a-smith-t07 LOTN splice/jump @ 4:18
! jg1973-07-21a-smith-t10 (3) @ start JG about LOTN #2: "That wasn't as good as the first one."
! jg1973-07-21a-smith-t11: DIME comment #4763536 by randomando at 2011-05-31 21:41:33 GMT: "Vassar teaching somebody the jazz tune "Move" on disc 2 track 1 [i.e., t11] is stunning. Dawg did the tune in the early years of the DGQ (75-76)."
! jg1973-07-21a-smith-t18 (4) JG, cutting up (but precisely how is hard to say without physical or visual correlate): "OK you guys, I'm ready to cut another track." Talk about where they can position themselves. DG: "Wanna try White Dove?" Then they are gonna do "Vassar's tune", and JG is enthusiastic. More cutting up about doing whatever that's called. DG: "Wanna play 'Find Your Name Written There'? JG: "Why don't we just do that tune of Vassar's." I notice that Grisman rarely gets to call the tune. Garcia's assent is always required.
! jg1973-07-21a-smith-t21 (4) ?PR?: "All I know are words. I'll just play with words."
! jg1973-07-21a-smith-t22 (6) JG: "That was all right."

Saturday, June 18, 2011


I have made an updated post on this fileset. This one is deprecated.

Not much time to get very elaborate, but a little more detail on this fileset.

The Boarding House
960 Bush Street
San Francisco, CA
Monday, April 16, 1973
First Set

Disc Time 49:35
t01 (1) [0:06] Goin' To The Races [2:24] [0:17]
t02 Tragic Romance [3:40] [0:12]
t03 Katie Hill [3:27] [0:09]
t04 The Willow Garden [4:57] [0:34]
t05 'Til The End Of The World Rolls 'Round [2:25] [0:11]
t06 band introductions [1:19]
t07 Pig In A Pen [2:36] [0:05]
t08 Panama Red [2:17] (2) [1:43]
t09 Lonesome L.A. Cowboy [4:25] [0:36]
t10 Hard Hearted [2:30] [0:51] (3)
t11 Wild Horses [4:37] [0:27]
t12 Lost [3:22] [0:15]
t13 stage banter (4) -> Blue Mule false start [1:22]
t14 Blue Mule [4:36] [0:12]

Source: SBD > ? > WBAI-FM Broadcast > SAE-2 Receiver > Sony DTC-670.
Transfer: MFD > Sony D10P > Coax SPDIF > Audiophile 2496 > Wavelab > R8Brain > CD-Wave > TLH > FLAC 1644. Transfer by Andrew F. 08/2009

Notes: The DAT was recorded from the WBAI Morning Dew radio program on 07/31/1999 during their JG birthday special. Pitch is correct on this recording (ID-18422 is approx 90 cents slow). There's some low end fuzziness, and other minor FM artifacts in the recording.

Jerry Garcia - banjo, vocals;
David Grisman - mandolin, vocals;
John Kahn - bass;
Peter Rowan - guitar, vocals;
Richard Greene - fiddle.

! I love that you can hear the band talking things over between tunes, though wish we could hear just a little bit better!
! t01. (1) DG: "We're gonna go to the races, folks."
! t05. DG sings a few verses of Til the End of the World Rolls Around
! t08. JG is singing echo refrain of "Panama Red" during chorus ... I don't remember hearing this.
! t08. (2) DG: "You folks sound like you're havin' a good time tonight."
! t09. JG's solo @ 2:15 of Lonesome LA Cowboy is just not very good.
! t10. (3) DG: "Here's a tune that may be familiar to most of you."
! t13. (4) DG: "We're gonna have a big gospel portion on our second set. That's what we're deciding right now. So stick around and get your r'l'gion. ... We're gonna take a short leave of absence ... right after this next song."

Thursday, June 09, 2011


Had a long post together on the Wales/Garcia 1/26/72 show. In copying and pasting over a piece of it about 80%, Blogger went crazy (user error being out of the question) and copied over everything from there to the top. I probably lost 8 hours of work.


Friday, June 03, 2011

John Scher, part 4 of 4: Jerry Garcia, Bill Bradley and the price of concert tickets

John Scher, part 4 of 4: Jerry Garcia, Bill Bradley and the price of concert tickets

Podcast of interview with John Scher. A minute or so in he tells the story of bailing Garcia and Hunter out for a pot bust in New Jersey. Goes until the 5-minute mark. Given that he is discussing this in the context of the start of his career and work with the Dead and that he says it happened in Mount Holly, NJ, the story must relate to the bust on 3/27/73.

I had never known Hunter was involved, I don't think. Though it's also possible that I did, but didn't know it.

A bit more Jerry talk 6 minutes in. Second smartest guy Scher ever met, after Bill Bradley. Wow.

Nice to hear from the man himself. I have rarely found any information on the John Scher-Jerry Garcia relationship.