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

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Expressway to Homer's: JGMS in Palo Alto, May 4, 1973

LN jg1973-05-04.jgms.all.sbd-alligator.31283.flac1644

I. Introduction

Acquisitiveness is a real affliction. Not only is it unattractive in its own right, but the pursuit of the “unhad” oftentimes crowds out other, periodically more productive activities. Consider my own pursuit of Garcia recordings. While I imagine what could be on a tape (real or imagined) that I don’t have, I could be listening to the great cornucopia that already populates my many hard drives, analyzing it. Hell, just enjoying it. I am sure it’s true for any music collector.

Case in point: the Jerry Garcia – Merl Saunders (JGMS) shows at Homer’s Warehouse, 79 Homer Avenue, Palo Alto, CA, 94301 on Friday-Saturday, May 4-5, 1973. We, the collecting community, are blessed with gorgeous Betty Cantor-Jackson live recordings of these shows. One of the great, unsung benefactors of the Bit Torrent era, Alligator, dropped a handful of these Third Batch Betties into the world between 2005 and 2008. (I have described this a little in my post on 3/9/74.) These included 5/4/73 (shnid 31283; previously wholly uncirculated) and 5/5/73 (shnid 32030; previously only partially circulated, as part of “Dick’s Gift”, e.g., shnid 4502). I have listened to each tape probably on the order of a half-dozen times, but I have never annotated them. Preoccupied with all kinds of other things, I can’t sniff out the jewels that are right under my nose.

Well, I have finally gotten around to annotating these shows, and boy are they interesting. In guise of a an entry in my Listening Notes series on the first show (5/4/73), I’ll try to write some of it up here. After this introduction, I’ll proceed (II) with the easy stuff: the show metadata (date, location). Then I’ll (III) insert this into Corry’s narrative about the commercialization of Garcia on the Side (GOTS). Finally (IV), I’ll talk about the recording and the show before just dropping a brief summary, references, and the raw listening notes (V).

II. Metadata

Jerry Garcia – Merl Saunders [JGMS], Homer’s Warehouse, 79 Homer Avenue, Palo Alto, CA, 94301, Friday, May 4, 1973 and Saturday, May 5, 1973.

There’s no doubt about the metadata. In addition to Betty’s tapes (and Rob Eaton’s transcriptions of her tape box notations) we now have a handbill shared on the Merl Saunders Facebook page and-reposted by Corry, me, and at TJS. In terms of the precise location of the building then known as Homer’s Warehouse, Corry says it’s correctly (contemporaneously) addressed and mapped on the handbill: “Homer's Warehouse was located at 79 Homer Avenue, across the train tracks, as the inset map accurately depicts” (from handbill picture caption in his “Old And In The Way FM Broadcasts, 1973” post).

Corry has looked at this building as The Outfit in connection with the New Delhi River Band and, as Homer’s Warehouse in connection with Old And In The Way (OAITW). I’ll just add to his summary of the OAITW interface with what I have about Garcia, in general.

Homer's Warehouse
79 Homer Avenue
Palo Alto

Homer's Warehouse
79 Homer Avenue
Palo Alto

Homer's Warehouse
79 Homer Avenue
Palo Alto

Homer's Warehouse
79 Homer Avenue
Palo Alto

Homer's Warehouse
79 Homer Avenue
Palo Alto
Homer's Warehouse
79 Homer Avenue
Palo Alto

 Jerry Garcia at Homer’s Warehouse, 79 Homer Avenue, Palo Alto, CA, 94301

I am given to understand that one Andrew Bernstein was like a younger brother to the GD folks during their time in Palo Alto in the early 60s, took banjo lessons from Garcia and all that. He also ran Homer’s Warehouse during the early 70s, and I believe he is writing a book that includes a chapter on the venue. At some point, someone needs to find a steady supply of listings from Palo Alto (e.g., the Stanford Daily?) and chronicle the shows at Homer’s, because I only have a handful of non-Garcia related dates from the venue based on scattered mentions in, e.g., the Hayward Daily Review. I have found references from 1971-1972, but very few. I’d certainly be curious if Garcia played there during this earlier period. Anyway, from the GOTS perspective nothing jumps out at me in terms of patterns (or non-patterns) in the above data – just a room that he played a few times in 1973, including, with Merl, the May 4-5 weekend.

III. May 1973 and the Commercialization of Garcia on the Side (GOTS)

By late 1972, Jerry Garcia has founded the Grateful Dead and has just or nearly made the monumental decision to take the band “independent”. He helped found the New Riders of the Purple Sage (NRPS), which was, by this time, a Columbia recording artist working on a lucrative album deal. He probably helped establish Howard Wales’s lifetime financial security with Hooteroll? It looks as if Garcia leveraged his own commercial appeal to finance a home studio at Mickey Hart’s barn (and maybe the land and barn themselves) in Novato, which gave rise to a whole series of albums and associated paydays for a wide range of folks (see, e.g., Corry on solo contracts). His own solo album, Garcia (1972), sold well and bought Mountain Girl the house she wanted for their young family, at Sans Souci in Stinson Beach. I am guessing Kreutzmann, who was the only other player credited on that album, also got a nice payday and maybe a chunk of Marin County land out of the proceeds.

There is lots of success and money sloshing around this scene. And, in ca. late 1972 – early 1973, Jerry Garcia, thirty years old, is looking to act substantially, at least in his professional dealings, like a grown-up. The days of just riding the tiger are over. That’s a young man’s kind of vocation, anyway. From the rearview mirror, 1972-1975 represent a sustained effort at stabilizing Garcia’s various musical dealings, an attempt to construct the equilibrium which would govern Garcia’s musical life from roughly 1976 until his death. The key to this, as to any of our dreams of establishing and sustaining a fulfilling adult life, is cash flow. “Gotta have enough to make it all work. Then you can pursue your dreams.” Or so goes the Siren’s Song.

Corry Arnold has mapped this key element in the evolution of Jerry Garcia’s musical life outside the Grateful Dead, with his analysis of “Jerry Garcia Album Economics, 1973-1974”. Garcia’s overriding musical imperative, in the GOTS context of 1972-1973, was to have good local bands that would be around for him to play with when the GD was off the road. The time when he could just drop in at the Matrix and pickup a jam session had mostly passed (not least since the Matrix had been shuttered for a couple of years at this point). He was too busy and too ambitious to play with random hackers, taking the chance of a deeply subpar musical/performing experience. It’s like busy people choosing which book to read: some of us try to read “classics” because the opportunity cost of wasting time on a bad book, on a lemon, is just too high. So it was with Jerry. He needed guys to be around, but he needed them to be good. But good guys wouldn’t just wait around for the Grateful Dead to come home. Garcia needed to offer them “financial rewards beyond the occasional nightclub payout” (Arnold, “Album Economics”). For that, in turn, and finally, he needed to make records with them. I still think this is a case of a musical/artistic/creative imperative driving an economic imperative, which would not always be the case.

Such was the lesson Garcia drew, Corry tells us, from temporarily “losing” John Kahn and Merl Saunders to Michael Bloomfield in mid-1972. Corry mostly focuses on the Garcia-Saunders aggregation (JGMS) in working through this logic. John Kahn, Corry has laid out, is the linchpin. Induced through steady gigging income, performing credits and, over the years, producer credits, John

took care of the musical business of the Jerry Garcia Band. Kahn hired and fired musicians, organized rehearsals and often helped choose material. Although Jerry approved every move, of course, without Kahn's oversight Garcia could not have participated in the Jerry Garcia Band. In many respects, the Jerry Garcia Band (under various names) was to some extent the Jerry Garcia and John Kahn Band; if Garcia had not met Kahn he would have had to be invented.

The same logic applies to Merl Saunders. Jerry clearly thinks very highly of him as a player, and he likes what Merl does. Merl has outside options, as his diverse musical career indicates, and as the summer 1972 Bloomfield interregnum pointed out much, Corry plausibly suggests, to Garcia’s consternation. Merl also has a recording relationship with Fantasy, and so access to some cash and other resources that can facilitate record making on the input side (studio time, tape stock) and on the output side (i.e., a label on which to release stuff, promotions, etc.). They had already pre-flighted all of this with a series of albums recorded and released between 1971 and early 1973:

  • Merl Saunders, Heavy Turbulence, Fantasy 8421, recorded ??1971-1972??, released 1972 (re-released as Merl Saunders and Friends, Fire Up Plus, Fantasy FCD 7711-2, 1992).
  • Tom Fogerty, Excalibur, Fantasy 9413, recorded ??1971-1972??, released October 1972; see Corry’s post on this record.
  • Merl Saunders, Fire Up, Fantasy 9421, released ca. April 1973 (Kelly 1973).

At the small price of recording and sharing proceeds from the Garcia/Saunders/Kahn/Vitt double album Live at the Keystone (Fantasy F-790002, 1973), with equal performing and producer credits for the titular players, and paying John Kahn to produce Garcia [a.k.a. Compliments of Garcia] on Jerry’s own co-owned label (Round RX 102, June 1974), Garcia’s felt need for steady band in which to play contemporary black R&B, soul, jazz and funk would be satisfied, and grounded in newfound financial stability augured by steady album releases.

But it’s a lesson that travels. As Corry pointed out in his comments, the fact that OAITW recorded a studio album in March 1973 (Tolces 1973) (unreleased and publicly unheard to this day) probably relates to this same insight. If you want to play rural white music (bluegrass, country and traditionals) with hot players, if you want them around when you get the itch to pick some banjo, then you had better for a revenue stream for Old And In The Way (OAITW). David Grisman and Peter Rowan gotta eat, pay Stinson Beach rent/mortgage, and get high, too. It didn’t work out that way –the OAITW album wasn’t released until 1975, and then was based on live and not studio tapes—but it was a sensible plan. And, oh yeah, if you want a good songwriter to be around when the Song Muse visits (or the collector comes knocking), continue making it worth his while, and put out Robert Hunter’s Tales of the Great Rum Runners on Round (RX 101, June 1974). A good songwriting partner is a rare and valuable commodity, after all. Round Records itself is part of the narrative, of course (need to develop). Finally, you need a place to play, and all of this rationalization, regularization, commercialization, etc. found expression in a dense symbiotic relationship between Garcia and Fred Herrera, whose Keystone, Berkeley may be the venue most played by Garcia, in any band.

In my subheading, I have referred to this as the “Commercialization of GOTS”. This has no negative connotation in my usage. We could refer to “Monetization” just as easily, which I would also use neutrally. Either way, or alternatively formulated, it’s just in the nature of things that we need to find ways to place pursuit of our dreams on whatever financial (and other real-world) footing they require (and no more!). We need to use whatever we’ve got in this connection, bearing in mind, as always, that life involves tradeoffs. It looks as if Garcia dreamed of (or had settled on, or would soon settle on) being 1) Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, and 2) having a steady, musically/creatively competent (if not challenging) band for working out contemporary black music in clubs, and 3) having a steady, musically/creatively challenging band in which to play "hippie bluegrass" half-traditional half-stoned rural white music.

I have always held the view that he wished these latter opportunities to be relatively low-key, less focused on Garcia and more Romanesque where the Dead were nothing if not Baroque. So he needed them to be successful enough to be self-sustaining, but not so successful that they became a hassle. This is the tightrope we all try to walk, I'd guess.

This wouldn’t all resolve right away, and certainly, as ever, not costlessly. In fact, the equilibrium wouldn’t really find full expression until something like 1976, and that only after massive additional concessions to reality. Not least, institutionalization and all the rest meant that some of the dream had to die. Or maybe it was just too much for one guy, maybe the GD piece was just too big to handle with all of the others. Or maybe he lost interest in the concept. Who knows. But, as it happened, the Jerry Garcia Band (JGB) would not only, eventually, merge the musical concerns of parts II (black) and III (white) of The Dream, but because it bore his name, it would, albeit at minor scale, reproduce some of the pathologies and Burden of Being Jerry (Garcia Of The Grateful Dead) (Gans and Greenfield 1996). What we find in early 1973 is still a less compromised synthesis, in which the dream remains that all good things might well be able to go together.

All of this is the context for the Friday, May 4, 1973 JGMS show at Homer’s Warehouse. Garcia was right in the midst of a moment in which he was trying to figure out not only what was artistically satisfying (which had always driven his non-GD musical pursuits), but also what would start paying some bills (which he had not much considered prior).

Personnel was a big part of that, of course. This show features the “core quartet” that we should associate with 1973 JGMS (Garcia, Saunders, Kahn and Vitt), as well as the elusive vocalist Sarah Fulcher and almost equally-mysterious George Tickner playing second guitar. (This guitarist traditionally been listed as Tom Fogerty, but it’s definitely not, based on my own listen, prompted by Heckstall’s careful analysis posted at Workingman’s Tracker.)

As Corry points out (“Album Economics”), these personnel variations “were not casual exercises”. We don’t know whether there was already a Fantasy contract for what would become Live at Keystone. What we do know, I think, is that the idea was close to fruition and that decisions about personnel and other factors were probably made with a live record in mind. It is hard to arrive at anything other than what Corry concludes: “Garcia, Saunders, Kahn and Vitt seem to have been trying out various band members to see how they wanted to constitute the band, but by June they seem to have decided on a quartet.”

Sarah Fulcher had been around for a few months (at least January, see my 1/14/73 IOTB post) and I get the sense that she was "in the mix" in terms of the group's thinking around a record. She would continue to appear with JGMS at least into October 1973, and would lay down some vocals for the GD's Wake of the Flood (Grateful Dead Records GD-01, October 15, 1973). How that all went down, with her not being around for the Live at the Keystone dates (July 10, 1973 and July 11, 1973) remains obscure and puzzling. It's one thing if she dropped out before the record. But her time performing live with the band straddles the record, on which she is absent. Curious.

George Tickner, seems, in some sense, more straightforward. He enters and exits the Garciaverse in the span of something like eight weeks in March-May 1973. He seems to have gotten a tryout to be part of the recording band, and it seems not to have worked out. It’s not clear where this came from or what the impetus for that decision might have been. It could be thatTickner decided not to opt-in. Jerry's World could be a weird, intense place, and it’s not for everyone. He did help found Journey within a year of leaving, and apparently went on to medical school, so maybe he liked his outside options better. Or maybe it was G/S/K/V who made the decision because of musical or personality fit or because, if I have my math right, payday/4 > payday/5. We don’t know. What we know is that the May 4-5 Homer’s tapes gives us a chance to hear him, at length, playing with the band. While he was billed for JGMS gigs at the end of the month at the legendary Ash Grove (May 29-30, 1973), the existing piece of tape and a contemporary review from those shows reveal no trace of him. It seems that there were plans (or thoughts) for him to be there, but that the Tickner-Garcia connection shorted out before June rolled around.

Theough they recorded the albums in July as a spare (unfortunately so, from my perspective) quartet, JGMS was still seemingly trying to add another player to the mix  There's the chronologically-interesting case of July 5, 1973 at the Lion's Share (five days before the shows that were recorded for the album), which features a mystery trumpet player.  Eight days after the Keystone shows, we'd see the arrival of Martin Fierro on 7/19/73. In that Lion's Share post I said the following, which still makes sense to me:

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.

IV. Recording, Performance

Thank goodness, Betty Cantor-Jackson took it upon herself to record Garcia-Saunders, and we collectors are extremely fortunate to be able to listen to her sonic craftsmanship. These are Third Batch Betty tapes, 2x 10" reels @ 7.5ips ½ track, which fell into private hands in the 1980s, which were brought into the light in 1995-1996, which Rob Eaton digitized and annotated, and DAT copies of which reside in the Garcia tape vault. They came to the outside world via the great Alligator, whom I have discussed in connection with 3/9/74. There are lots of gremlins, including bad static on Sarah Fulcher’s vocal mic. Some of these may have been on the masters (they could well have been amplified over the PA), and others could very well result from the wretched state of the tapes. What’s especially nice about the recording is how clearly the two guitars are separated (Tickner in the left channel, Garcia in the right) and how high up in the mix Tickner is. These features really allow us to hear him, one of the relatively small handful of guitarists to share a stage with Garcia.

The show runs about 147 minutes across two sets (77 and 70 minutes, respectively). We have so little JGMS material from this period –one has to go all the way back two months, to March 7, 1973, for the next-earlier JGMS recording, and that is only a partial set—that it’s hard to say whether this is representative or not. It seems pretty typical for the period, as best as can be determined, which is to say that, relative to Garcia’s long musical career outside the Grateful Dead, there are some nice rarities here. The performance is a little uneven, though where it’s good I find it fantastic.

“That’s A Touch I Like” [Allan | Scofield | TJS]: Allan and Scofield conflict on the name of the song, but since Scofield mentions the incorrectness of the definite article for “touch” (i.e., The Touch), and uses the indefinite, I follow his usage. He also notes that “That's A Touch I Like was one of three Jesse Winchester songs covered by Jerry Garcia, the others being Biloxi and Every Word You Say.” This version is fine, and while Tickner’s rhythm playing gets a little repetitive, I like his jazz guitar tone here.

I’ll say more about Expressway, which is a real highlight for me, below. The half-hour piece that starts with Merl’s “She’s Got Charisma” and runs into J.J. Cale’s “After Midnight” looks great on paper, and at least one reviewer finds it to be top-shelf material. According to SteveSw at Workingman’s, things start off
with a flute-like synth solo from Merl, whose playing is great there at the beginning: Jerry howls a bit, but mostly the early vibe is verry smooth and slow. [Tickner’s] solo raises the energy, and then Jerry plays a beautiful, peaceful solo that brings the vibe back down. Jerry's longer solo towards the end of the instrumental is fascinating, well worth repeated listening, and then BANG the song walks right off the gang-plank and into a loud raucous space. Jerry takes us far out into cosmos with questioning atonal screaming notes, then quickly back to earth for a very strange entry into "After Midnight" (what is that bass line doing there?). This is quite well played, Merl and Jerry each contributing great solos.
Heckstall, same thread, thinks this version of After Midnight is just a trainwreck. I am somewhere in between. First, I like “Charisma” a little less than some of the other Merl instrumentals (such as “Merl’s Tune” or “Little Bit Of Righteousness”), and nothing in this version jumped out at me. Second, yes, it does take them a long time to figure out that they are playing After Midnight. Indeed, I re-tracked my copy because the first three and a half minutes, as tracked, just seemed halfway there to my ears. But I think we have to judge this in the context of JGMS, and of trying on a new player. JGMS rarely did full-on (“true”) segues, and this is one. They’re hard, and this ain’t the GD. Second, they’ve got a new guy on board. Even if After Midnight is familiar, it’s partly so because it’s so like so many other songs. Things could have gone a number of directions. I think it's the next night when half the band is playing one song and half is playing another, 50s rock n rollers all based on the same chord progressions, of course.

For me, things don’t really pick up again until the Sarah-sung “Honey Chile” [Allan | Scofield | TJS], which is just an awesome driving tune that stays close –fruitfully so—to the Martha Reeves and the Vandellas version, a 1967 Motown hit (Gordy 7067). I had written more about this song, but seem to have lost some material here. I especially like how Ms. Fulcher stays within the parameters of the song, and knows and mostly sticks to the words. She is not over-singing, sounds great, and conveys just the right man-done-me-wrong-but-I-still-need-him burn from the original. Very nice.

“Lonely Avenue” [Allan | Scofield | TJS], a late 1950s hit for Ray Charles, is played here by JGMS for the last time until August 1974. This version really features the dissonant (good!) buzzsaw guitar of George Tickner, and is certainly the raunchiest version done by this group. Tickner’s solo @ 6-mins in is great. The tone is distorted, intentionally ... lots of fuzz and reverb, and well-played. Intense. Some hard fanning at 7:01-7:10 ... loud, wild shit. Very nice, solo runs from around 6-7:45. Then Jerry steps in with a much softer tone, strikingly contrasted with Tickner's. He's letting it fuzz and prickle a little bit in the very highest parts of the register. Then at 8:38 he drops down an octave and starts playing some faster Jerry Garcia leads. Mr. Vitt is keeping the '1' just perfectly here, really providing the bedrock for Jerry. Kahn starts doing some really nice rumbling around in the 9-minute mark, great. Vitt is a rock. Jerry starts doing some fanning @ 10:12, fast fanning down low ... Wow! Very uncommon guitar playing for GOTS. Much raunchier than anything they'd do in, e.g., July. I think Tickner's grungy guitar is forcing or inspiring Garcia to play around with these different textures. Loud and reverby again at the end: the most dissonant Lonely Avenue ever played.

“Soul Roach” never really does much for me, and the last two songs (Dixie Down and How Sweet It Is) strike me as pretty uneventful. In between there’s a rare version of “Georgia On My Mind”, which is distinguished especially by a nice bass-led interlude (~solo) from 7:20-9:33. Nice job, John! The song also ends quite cacophonously, which is just nice as a palate cleanser.

All of that said, for me the absolute highlight of the show, and of most any show in which it appears, is “Expressway (To Your Heart)” [Allan | Scofield | TJS]. This was great jam vehicle for the Garcia-Saunders band for a number of years. So little is known about the early JGMS repertoire that it’s hard to say when they started playing it. The earliest reported version dates to October 3, 1971 at the Frost Ampitheatre (Grushkin 1971; JGMF). I doubt it appeared much earlier than that: the material dated “May 1971” (e.g., 5/11/71, 5/20/71) tends to be more ambitiously spacey, too astructural to engage this upbeat chunk of street struttin’. The song was the first big hit for the songwriting team of [Kenny] Gamble and [Leon] Huff, the founding fathers of the Philadelphia Soul sound, reaching #3 on Billboard’s R&B charts for the Soul Survivors in late 1967 (Crimson 1010). Gamble and Huff would go on to pen countless hits (including “Love Train”, still iconic thanks not least to a Coors Light advertising campaign). The Soul Survivors, for their part, would never have such a smash again, though it seems they gigged for many years. There is some indication online (e.g., here, here) that the band came together as the result of a car accident, which would seem to have had some special emotional resonance with Garcia, who survived but lost his friend Paul Speegle in a fatal crash near Stanford in 1961.

“Expressway” is sometimes represented as a cultural watershed, pairing the “blue-eyed soul” of some white boy toughs from New York City with two of the hottest black producers outside of Motown, and resulting in a national crossover hit from Philly’s black soul stations to the white airwaves (inter alia!) of Spokane, Washington. The 1967 LP When The Whistle Blows Anything Goes (Crimson Records LP-501, 1967) (wiki) features psychedelic lettering over a racially ambiguous group of hip-looking young men (see also Lassen 1968). The tune itself has some urban heat, opening with blaring car horns, an homage to I-76 in Philadelphia, with the swelter of an east coast summer.

Garcia-Saunders (JGMS), of course was a mixed-race band with tons of crossovers from black soul/R&B to white country and everything in between. Not unheard of, of course, but not entirely typical, and rarer still in bringing together guys with backgrounds as diverse as Merl (piano bar jazz) and Jerry (bluegrass). Indeed, the JGMS billings at the Ash Grove in Santa Monica in late May (29-30) 1973 was part of a “long, ambitious series spotlighting the vitality and influence of black music in America” (Hilburn 1973), and this with Merl as the only African American in the band! The band’s racial and cultural cross-pollination, of course, went beyond the mere demographics, and went to the experiences, influences and interests of the members. Drummer Bill Vitt had cut his teeth playing the multihued soul/R&B clubs of Sacramento, Kahn knew his way around the blues, and so forth.

I have no idea who brought “Expressway” into the band’s repertoire, but it was a great choice. Over three-plus years and some three dozen performances, it would evolve from a tight 8-12 minutes in early 1972 (tight for this band!) to an often 15-22 minute monster, complete with meltdown spaces, by late 1974. This version is fuckin' smokin' from the start. George Tickner, especially, really shines. He has a jangly, buzzsaw kind of style (a tone he shared with Tom Fogerty, in my estimation), but he has a lot more reverb when he wants it. During the chorus parts here, the high melody that he is playing, he is just soaring above beautifully. Both Garcia and Merl launch really tight solos (Jerry-Merl-Jerry), pinning down what Tickner is stretching and pulling. Sarah does some singing @ late 3-min mark for only about 30 seconds. It's nice, she sounds good. Bill Vitt sets a hard floor late in the 4-min mark, perfect foundation for Sarah from 4:45 ff. She sounds really good. 5:10 or so George Tickner makes himself heard, giving some edge and melancholy, a nice timbre which Sarah picks up on ... "I can't dance with you! I can't dance with you!" Tickner ignites early 6-minute mark, solos until about 7:15, fucking hot. The guitar solo in the 6:30 range is absolutely filthy. Wow. George Tickner is the real deal, this upside is so much above what Tom Fogerty was able to provide, and Sarah is also a real contributor. Excellent. This version of @@ Expressway is lighting me up, big time. Wow. Great interplay as they stretch out with it. Jerry with a fanning flourish, Sarah channeling some deep soul, a nice little melodic vocalization a few times through at late 9-min mark, early 10th. Jerry wailing but mixed too low 10-minute mark. I'd like to have this solo, fanning at 10:45, 10:58, tear my ears apart. Jerry wailing, Sarah wailing. Wailing and burning.

They'd play it more, of course. There are some super-long and super-freaky from '74 that I look forward to analyzing. So I'll have more to say. As a postscript here, I'd just add that when Merl and Jerry got back together at one of Merl’s gigs in October 1978 (which I’ll write up in the context of Reconstruction), the only tune from the known setlist that they had played together before was none other than “Expressway”. As far as I can recall, Garcia would never play it publicly again.

V. Summary, References, Listening Notes

No grand finale here. Nice tape, interesting time period, a fun listen. The next night’s tape is the last known date with this same lineup, and I’ll hope to listen to it closely before too long.


Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders [JGMS]
Homer's Warehouse
May 4, 1973 (Friday)
147 min Betty Cantor-Jackson sbd recording

--Set I (6 tracks, 76:58)--
s1t01. That's A Touch I Like [8:32] [1:29]
s1t02. Expressway (To Your Heart) [12:47] [1:26]
s1t03. She’s Got Charisma [18:23] ->
s1t04. After Midnight [11:07] [2:50]
s1t05. It Ain't No Use [9:45] [0:49]
s1t06. That's Alright, Mama [9:36] (1) [0:13] % (2)

--Set II (8 tracks, 69:46)--
s2t01. tuning [0:46]
s2t02. It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry [7:10] [0:44]
s2t03. Honey Chile [10:25] [0:54]
s2t04. Lonely Avenue [14:38] [1:23]
s2t05. Soul Roach [6:19] [0:03]
s2t06. Georgia On My Mind [12:30] [0:56]
s2t07. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down [5:33] [0:11]
s2t08. How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) [7:12] (3) [0:38] % dead air [0:10]

! ACT1: Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders
! lineup: Jerry Garcia - el-guitar, vocals;
! lineup: Merl Saunders - keyboards;
! lineup: John Kahn - el-bass;
! lineup: George Tickner - el-guitar;
! lineup: Bill Vitt - drums;
! lineup: Sarah Fulcher - vocals (s1t02 Expressway, s1t06 TAM, s2t04 Honey Chile, s2t06 GOMM, s2t07 TNTDODD [harmonies])

! 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: (this fileset).
! R: Lineage: 2x 10" reels @ 7.5ips ½ trk > Otari 50/50 reel to reel playback > Apogee 500 A/D converter > Panasonic SV3700 DAT master (Eaton); given lineage: "MSR > DAT x3 > Delta DIO 2496 > Soundforge > wav > flac", the accuracy of which cannot be determined.
! R: Seeded to Lossless Legs by alligator.
! R: Seeder note: "There are some imperfections that seem to be from the master reels. No adjustments made."
! R: s1t01 Vocal mic out at start of TATIL
! R: s1t01 Levels rise up a minute in, Betty is just dialing things in beautifully.
! personnel: George Tickner, second guitar.
! R: The second guitar player, George Tickner, is really nicely high up in the mix in the 3-minute mark. He sounds great. Way better than Tom Fogerty (RIP). Garcia's guitar, by contrast, is buried. So this mixing anomaly, with the second guitarist way up and Jerry way low is actually useful to hear what would be distinctive. Maybe he's turned up so Jerry can really hear him (though Betty's mixes for tapes should have been different than the stage mix). Whatever, it's cool!
! P: s1t02 ETYH holy shit does Tickner hit some stuff in the 1-minute mark. Dude can tear it up. Jerry's first little solo @ 1:45 shows that he has heard, and is responding in kind. This Expressway is fucking burning from the get-go, my friends. Betty's got the mixed locked in, and drums-bass-keyboards-guitars are syncd up beautifully.
! song: s1t02 “Expressway (To Your Heart)” was great jam vehicle for this band for a number of years.  It was the first big hit for the songwriting team of [Kenny] Gamble and [Leon] Huff, the two key “founding fathers” of the Philadelphia Soul sound, when it reached #3 on Billboard’s R&B charts for the Soul Survivors in late 1967 (Crimson 1010). Gamble and Huff would go on to pen countless hits (including “Love Train”, still iconic thanks not least to a Coors Light advertising campaign). The Soul Survivors would never have such a smash again, though it seems they gigged for many years. Culturally, “Expressway” was a watershed: so-called “blue-eyed soul”, sung by white boy toughs from New York City, meets two of the hottest black producers outside of Motown, and they get a national crossover hit from Philly’s black soul stations to the white airwaves (inter alia!) of Spokane, Washington. Garcia-Saunders (JGMS), of course was a mixed-race band with tons of crossovers from black soul/R&B to white country and everything in between. Not unheard of, of course, but not entirely typical, and rarer still in bringing together guys with backgrounds as diverse as Merl (piano bar jazz) and Jerry (bluegrass).
! personnel: s1t02 Sarah Fulcher comes in on vocals @ 3:48
! P: s1t02 the guitar solo in the 6:30 range is absolutely filthy. Wow.
! P: s1t05 IANU Jerry loses track of the vocals more or less entirely.
! s1t06 (1) JG: "We're gonna take a break for a little while. We'll be back pretty soon."
! R: (2) s1t06 does not correspond to d1t6 as originally seeded. After the song ends add the stage announcement is made, the tape runs for 13 seconds, then splices. The next [0:53] was pre-set II material. I have thus split the original "d1t6" into s1t06 (TAM >> set break to tape splice) and s2t01 (the pre-set II tuning). I cut the tracks with CD Wave. I have maintained the original version of d1t6 in the fileset folder. If anyone were ever to try to verify the original fileset against the one I have, you'd find, first, that the folder is larger, since I basically have an extra ORIGINAL version of d1t6 in there. Once the other ORIGINAL files were re-named (in the ffps, for example), they'd verify. Another way to check is just visual comparison of the two ffp fingerprints, the original one and the one based on my re-naming. That said, the two newly-created tracks would obviously not have ffps in the original fingerprint file. Anyway, I have just tried to make this process traceable For The Record.
! P: s2t01 @ the very start of this tuning, the note Merl is playing (what is it, someone?) sounds like the one that starts "Merl's Tune". I would have loved to hear that tune here. Instead, we get a ITALTL, ITATTC. Too bad (ducking).
! R: s2t02 IALTL, ITATTC static
! R: s2t02 static @ 3:40-end.
! R: s2t03 static seems under control, then comes in harsh and heavy @ 3:15- I think there's a loose chord on Sarah's vocal mic. This could be speaker-shredding stuff if one were blasting the volume ... caveat auditor.
! P: s2t03 @ 8:57-9:05 Honey Chile Jerry (I think!) does some fanning that I find uncommon for this GOTS era, and follows up with some really nice lead runs behind Sarah in the 9-minute mark. She seems to step back from the vocal mic, which lessens (though doesn't eliminate) the static which plagues the song, and allows us to hear Jerry a little more, too. They gotta fix that mic!
! P: s2t04 Lonely Avenue George Tickner's solo @ 6-mins in is great. The tone is distorted, partly intentionally ... lots of fuzz and reverb, and well-played. Intense. Some hard fanning at 7:01-7:10 ... loud, wild shit. Very nice, solo ran from around 6-7:45. Then Jerry steps in with a much softer tone, strikingly contrasted with Tickner's. He's letting it fuzz and prickle a little bit in the very highest parts of the register. Then at 8:38 he drops down an octave and starts playing some faster Jerry Garcia leads. Mr. Vitt is keeping the '1' just perfectly here, really providing the bedrock for Jerry. Kahn starts doing some really nice rumbling around in the 9-minute mark, great. Vitt is a rock. Jerry starts doing some fanning @ 10:12, fast fanning down low ... Wow! Very uncommon guitar playing for GOTS. Much raunchier than anything they'd do in, e.g., July. I think Tickner's grungy guitar is forcing or inspiring Garcia to play around with these different textures. Loud and reverby again at the end: the most dissonant Lonely Avenue ever played.
! s2t06 GOMM static @ 2:15, 3:33, 3:51- end, more or less
! s2t06 GOMM John Kahn takes a lead piece (~solo) from 7:20-9:33. Nice job, John! Jerry steps in with next solo. Haven't heard much Merl soloing this night. GOMM ends quite cacophonously.
! R: s2t08 horrible static. This, again, seems associated with Sarah's vocal mic, but I am not sure - it's bad through the whole song.
! s2t08 (3) JG: "Thanks a lot, g'night everybody. See y'all later."


  1. A very interesting analysis indeed. With respect to George Tickner, one thing we often forget is that Garcia projects were inherently part time. Guys like Saunders, Kahn and Vitt had experience and plans to work in the studio as players and producers. Tickner was younger and had less experience (having apparently frittered away the latter 60s on going to college).

    The nascent version of Journey was already extant at this point. The early history of Journey is pretty murky, but I have a feeling that Tickner rolled the dice with a full time band rather than a part time one.

  2. A friend of mine was at these shows and I asked him a while back why Jerry would let Sarah sing. Neither of us thought much of her voice. His response was simple, "She was beyond gorgeous and Jerry just stared at her a lot."

  3. Thank you for sharing this, anon. Does your friend have any other recollections about this show?

  4. Bernstein 2013, 123-129, "A Weekend with Jerry and Merl"

    Says Ron Tutt drumming these dates (Bernstein 2013, 123), but I don't think so. Betty was pretty good about labeling personnel, she was there, and she wrote Bill Vitt on the tape boxes.

    ! color: There was yet another surprise waiting in the wings. Lobster, one of our regulars, was part of che FM radio scene in the Bay Area at the time. He as big, loud, and both a DJ at KSJO in San Jose and the musical director ofKZSU, the Stanford radio scation. One afternoon, he approached Rollie and me about broadcasting the Merl and Jerry shows live from Homer's on ZSU. Rollie and I both thought it was a great idea, so Lobster connected us with Mike Lopez, the student manager of the station. Lobster had told us that we would reach the whole Northern California market, but Mike had even bigger plans than that. It seems that Stanford had access to a [124] transatlantic phone cable that had been dormant for many years, so Mike decided that what several Iron Curtain countries needed was a heavy dose of Jerry- via pirate radio from Homer's! Mike's plan called for Hungary, Belarus, and parts of East Germany to receive the feed. However, we first needed to get permission from Jerry, which meant going through Sam Curler. (More blow, please!) When Sam gave us the green light, it was full speed ahead. Of course, the university would know nothing of this little international broadcasting caper (Bernstein 2013, 123-124).

    5/4/73 Garcia arrived 2:30, asked for coffee and quarters, and played Space Race for an hour (Bernstein 2013, 124). He had first played 3/4/73.

    "Around 3:00P.M., the sound truck arrived with the road crew, and out stepped the lead technician for the night-Owsley Stanley. Because of his eccentric and unpredictable character, Owsley didn't know how to finish a project on time, so he was banned from any involvement with sound when the Dead were on tour. However, for the Jerry shows, he was "the man." His first task, when he got to Homer's, was to make sure the broadcasting guys from Stanford knew who was running the show. General Patton had arrived. Sound mix, PA levels, acoustics, tape speed, the whole shebang ws under his direct control. The packed Purple Room was known that night as The Command Center" (Bernstein 2013, 124).

    5/4/73 interesting that Bear taped – Betty taped, too? Or is that Bear's tape?

    "Sam Cutler showed up around 5:30, decked out once again in space [125] hippy togs, with a couple of slackers who seemed to have no role other than make sure that Rollie or I got them enough blow" (Bernstein 2013, 124-125).

    First night, Friday 5/4. Started on time, 7:30 pm. Implies that they pulled off broadcast to Hungary (Bernstein 2013, 125) . Is this true?

    5/4/73: "Jerry was having fun, making music he loved with people he respected and enjoyed playing with" (Bernstein 2013, 125).


!Thank you for joining the conversation!