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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hartbeats as Tempo Études

LN jg1968-10-30.hartbeats.163mins.sbd-gadsden.xxxxxx.flac1644

Well, we probably won't ever be able to identify everything about the various Matrix Tapes (dates, personnel, etc.), with 100% certainty. But there's no particular reason to doubt that this is something like Mickey and the Hartbeats (here, as Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart, with guest Elvin Bishop on a few tunes) from around Wednesday, October 30, 1968.

Many people find this too noodly, but I appreciate them in all kinds of ways, among them that the middle section (t08-t16) is a like a long tempo Étude. I can appreciate this material as such.

I have listened closely to the bass playing and other context clues in the last fragment. I hear Phil repeatedly speaking and have to conclude that it's Phil-souding-like-Jack, rather than Jack-sounding-like-Phil.

Mickey and the Hartbeats
The Matrix
3138 Fillmore Street
San Francisco, CA 94123
October 30, 1968 (Wednesday)
163 minute sbd via Bill Gadsden 2008 reel transfer flac1644 JGMF

(23 tracks, 163:04)

t01. noodling [0:53] ->
t02. Dark Star [17:09] ->
t03. Death Letter Blues [8:57]
t04. talk (1) and tuning [2:19]
t05. The Other One // [15:57#] %

t06. talk and tuning [0:30] %

t07. // Turn On Your Lovelight [#9:30] [0:09] %

t08. talk (2) and tuning [0:40]
t09. noodling (New Potato Caboose theme) [1:10] ->
t10. talk (3, 4) and noodling [3:48]
t11. Clementine [3:57] ->
t12. The Seven [9:30] ->
t13. Elevens, Sevens and Sixes [2:04] ->
t14. The Eleven [7:35] ->
t15. Death Don't Have //% No Mercy [8:#32] (5)
t16. talk (6) and tuning [1:18]
-enter Elvin Bishop-
t17. untitled 19681030a [14:53] ->
t18. untitled 19681030b [6:20] (7) [0:10]
t19. talk (8) and tuning [0:33]
t20. Prisoner Blues [10:49] (9) [0:05] % [0:09]
-exit Elvin Bishop-

t21. ... The Seven [9:29] (10) [0:35]
t22. tuning and talk (11) [6:39]
t23. Dark Star ... [19:10#]

! Band: Hartbeats
! lineup: Jerry Garcia - el-g, vocals;
! lineup: Phil Lesh - el-bass;
! lineup: Mickey Hart - percussion;
! guest: Elvin Bishop - el-g (t17-t20), vocals (t20).


! 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: (Gadsden/Wise/Sacks, presumed same source tapes, but older transfer than the present fileset); (PNW flac2496 presumed lineage MSR (Abrams) > R (Kafer) > R @ 7.5ips (Will Boswell) > digital, leading me to believe that 112737 has an extra reel gen, since IIRC Gadsden in 2008 transfered the Kafer "1st copy" reel, which is represented in this fileset; 112737 is also mono); (Berger flac2496 from Moore unlineaged stereo reel, TT 89 minutes (so "incomplete).

! Deadlists Comments [abridged]: The 'On The Town" column in the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper, by Ralph J. Gleason, which which gave listings of what bands were playing locally, says that "Jerry Garcia & Friends" are playing at The Matrix" on these dates (see the San Francisco Chronicle for Monday October 28, 1968 p. 45). Bobby and Pigpen were absent. On page 26 of issue #34 (Summer 1996) of Dupree's Diamond News, Dick Latvala stated in an interview 'What I know exists in our Vault are the shows, and they are on four-track 15 i.p.s." and 'There are two dates, 10/28 and 10/29, both of which have four reels. On 10/30 there's a Dark Star Jam into a Jerry vocal, could be Death Letter Blues'. He also stated 'That's what's written on the box. I haven't listened to it.'"

! Historical/dating: Note that Dick's statement contradicts itself in saying that there are two days (28 and 29) but then describing what's on the tape of the 30th. I do not know whether the GD Vault copies are masters, copies from Abrams's house tapes, or something else. I suspect they're copies from Abrams's house tapes, but I do not know for sure. Regarding how this relates ... [edit: not sure where I was going to go with that]

! R: Tape Provenance: Peter Abram's 7" 1/4 track SBD reels @ 7.5ips > Peter Kafer/Bill Gadsden's 7" 1/4 track Maxell reels @ 7.5ips > Revox B77 playback > Alesis Masterlink (sampling @ 24 bit, 96kHz) > CD > EAC > CDWave > TLH (FLAC level 8) > foobar2000 (tagging).

! R: the sound quality is what you'd expect for a Matrix Tape. This is a stereo recording.

! historical: on shnid 116833 Berger speculates that only the first 90 minutes is from this date, while the rest is from 10/8/68. I don't think so. I have listened to and noted both, and I can confirm that the talk around the various pieces of music is different. I haven't A-B'd them directly, which would seal the deal, I think.

! P: t02 Dark Star: Phil Lesh is a monster right from the get-go. He is fiercely melodic right from the start. This really is an attempt to have two lead instruments simultaneously, because Lesh and Garcia are on the same plane. Jerry seems to quote Tighten Up @ 1:49, and he's still dancing with some of that feeling around 2:15. Very sweet stuff. . Back to Star at 2:30. @ 6:24 Garcia quotes Born-Cross-Eyed for a a little bit. At 11 min mark things take a darker, slower turn. While JG is signalling the return of Dark Star @ ca. 13:00, Mickey makes a little statement on the toms. Jerry considers but re-asserts Dark Star. Mickey and Phil assent, Mickey picking the scrapy-turny things again and Philip doing his Dark Star melodic statement. That rough breadcrumb framework established, Garcia wanders around again, but with Dark Star now providing a tighter backbone.

! setlist t03 Death Letter Blues is the Leadbelly song (see Jackson 1987); @ 6:24 Jerry early engagement with a little bit of what would become the And We Bid You Goodnight/Goin' Down The Road Feelin' Bad theme. This is just about a one-off version.

! t04 (1) JG: "Thank you. Uhh, I might explain, uh, that we're ...we're really here just playin' ... just goofin'. I mean, we really don't have anything in mind or anything. Yeah. (laughs) We're just thrown together by fate ... and so we're uh playin' Fate Music. Also called Luck Music." Someone else: [inaudible]. JG: "Good one, good one. ... fateful."

! P: t05 TOO @ 7:20 Jerry starts a crazy hot, pretty fast 12-beat up-down pattern -- very unique. Phil hears the promise and jumps on it right away. @ 8:17, a little Latin feel. Jerry picks up that earlier progression @ 8:31. It's real nice, very power-tro-ish. Not quite Latin (though there were some Spanish inflections between the two groups of 12-note runs), but hot as hell. @ 8:52-9:02 Phil lands on some pretty deep two-beat march space, then a little Spanish 4-beat, then they are back on the Other One by 9:15.

! R: t05 TOO cuts out.

! R: t07 Lovelight cuts in.

! t07 Lovelight is insrumental.

! R: t08 there are various tape splices and some static during this long tuning

! t08 (2) can hear Elvin Bishop say something like "Let's play, man." @ 0:35 JG: "I don't think we have any straps. ... I'll sit down [?if we need?]." Maybe they are looking for a guitar strap for Elvin.

! t10 @ 1:49 (3) Mickey Hart: "Hey Ram?" Ramrod: "Yeah." MH: "Did you get the hammer? Did you get the [inaudible]?" More inaudible talk.

! t10 at end (4) Phil Lesh: "Wanna try the six?" JG: "Yep. Sure."

! setlist: t11 Clementine: This is an instrumental version. See LIA's post for an analysis of the song and how this version fits into its short, uneven history.

! t12 The Seven: I track "The Seven" where I track it, but the whole 3-minute range of "Clementine" is really the gradual transmogrification of The Six into The Seven. I put it here because I take Mickey's hard assertion of the tempo at this point to signify the change. Since this is a series of tempo Études, well, the tempo *constitutes the "song".

! P: t12 This version of "The Seven" , notes from a musical person, MJ: "3/4 time jazz waltz, but technically not because and it swung of course because it was a jazz waltz. If it is a 6/8 it's slow. The fact that it's swung means that if it was a normal 6/8 it would ... usually if it's in 6/8 at a normal speed ... so the combo of 6/8 with swing beat makes it unusual. A slow 6/8. Sounds more like a 3/4" to MJ.

! P: t12 Note the sequence: "The Six" -> "The Seven" -> "The Eleven" ... this is a tempo Étude. Insofar as we like attributions from The Horse's Mouth, we might even consecrate (by officializing, naturally) this track as "The Six", per Phil's identification (see note 4, above).

! t13 @ ca. 0:13ff Jerry is playing The Eleven while Phil is back to Clementine/The Six! @1339 hear someone say something. Now Phil is playing The Seven while Garcia is playing The Eleven. That's really what Hartbeats is all about. Mixing tempos. Garcia is mostly staying on 11/8, while Phil plays around with sixes (Clementine) and sevens. So I am just coining a term for this: Elevens, Sevens and Sixes.

! t14 The Eleven is instrumental.

! R: t15 DDHNM a little static @ 0:53, 1:14; hiss seems to come up during this track.

! R: t15 DDHNM splice @ 5:08, unknown amount missing.

! t15 (5): JG: "Thank you."

! t16 (6) JG: "Well, where's Elvin? Where'd he go? Where'd that skunk go? Where'd he go?"

! personnel: t17 Elvin Bishop is present from this point forward (from 94 minutes in). As far as I can hear, he is only present until the end of t20 (about 33 minutes).

! t17 untitled 19681030a is a nice mournful theme. It has a name, I think (hence me calling it untitled 19681030a-I think this can be substituted with an actual name ... if it were just a theme, I might have called it "mournful theme" or something like that). Before the track mark, you can hear Jerry asking something like "what's that tune?" I want to say that it's probably an Elvin Bishop melody, but I have no idea. It's really pretty. Damnit, what is the name of this? It surely has a name. @ 6:38ff Elvin is doing a theme that sounds almost related to New Potato Caboose thing. It sounds a little bit like Donovan's First There Is A Mountain, as well. @ 7:40 quotes The Seven a little bit. He, especially, is focused on these tempo Études. In the 11-12 minute marks it has more NPC feel. Around 12 minutes in, someone yells a change to someone else, but I can't hear what it is. Things slow down. By 14-min mark Phil is referencing The Seven again. @ 14:18 Garcia takes up a four note repeating thing, and then by 14:30 he is doing a slowed-down version of his ending riff from Born Cross-Eyed! His work here is very much more reminiscent of early 1968 than of, say, the Fillmore West shows four months later.

! t18 untitled 19681030b is a blues instrumental. It sounds very similar to Prisoner Blues. It cooks pretty well. In the late 3-min mark it has a little Death Letter Blues vibe. In the 4-minute mark Jerry and Elvin have some very nice call-and-response going ... Jerry is being the gunslinger here, for sure.

! t18 (7) JG seems to say "That's right" at the end. Then he says, obviously in answer to a query about what to play (presumably from Elvin): "Anything you like. Just start it."

! t19 (8) JG: "JG: "Hey, you got a vocal mic for over at that end? Elvin's gonna sing one." He's smiling behind his (?non-? beard) as he mentions Elvin singing.

! setlist: t20 Prisoner Blues: This is presumably just a way of being conventional about this. It's not a song so much as a theme around a slow blues.

! t20 (9) Elvin Bishop: "Thanks."

! setlist: We can't know for sure if the stuff from this last piece (t21-23, 35+ minutes) is from the same night as the other material. For that matter, it's really impossible to know whether anything on opposite sides of any tape discontinuity is from the same night. This could be snippets. I have separated out what I view as the different pieces with an extra line in the tracklist. I don't know that it is from one night or several, and I am not trying to sow obscurity or confusion. We might as well assume that this is from the same night and that that night is approximately correctly dated as October 30, 1968. I mention this only to get in front of the question that might arise from the presence of "repeat" engagements with The Seven and Dark Star. Given the exploratory nature of these Hartbeats dates, it's entirely possible that they took repeated, separate passes at these tunes. But it's also possible, given the nature of Matrix Tapes, that this material is a separate snippet from a separate night or set.

! personnel: There is no second guitar on the last piece.

! R: t21 The Seven cuts in.

! t21 @ 1:36 JG is yelling something. Sounds like he says "It all falls in, man", mentions Phil and the bass.

! t21 (10) JG: "That's not necessary. You don't really have to do that. We're ... uhhh ... We're here primarily to screw around. And, uh .. so don't expect anything that isn't screwing around. Because everything we're doing is screwing around unless otherwise stated in advance." JGMF NB this makes me think this piece is from early in a set/show/date.

! R: t22 tick @ 1:16.

! t22 (11) Phil Looney Tunes goof @ 2:45. They are talking about drinks, I think. Phil asks "Ohhh, 7-Up this time?" @ 4:11 Mickey says "Hey Ramrod?" Around 6-minutes in Mickey's gear is ready and he says "OK, now let's play." So this long interlude sounds like it was to do with gear. Indeed, the drums seem to be audible in the right at the start of the track, then move middle/left. Phil: "A little bossa nova, huh?" JG: "Bossa nova?"

! t23 compare this Dark Star with the "November 1968" version. This one starts off with the bass and guitar together, jumping right into the guiro -- a classic start to primal Dark Star. I think that one is different.

! R: t23 hard for me to tell if it's a tape fade (I think it is) or if they just soften to a close with Dark Star.

Jackson, Blair. 1987b. Roots, part 14. Golden Road no. 14 (Summer): 44.


  1. Fuck, I think I just cannibalized the audio files. D'oh!

  2. Perhaps my favorite Hartbeats tape...
    I thought it was Jack Casady on bass on the second Dark Star, but there's been much debate over that, and I could easily be wrong.
    Your suggestion that it could actually be a clip from a separate night or set is a good one. The material is so homogeneous in all these October Hartbeats shows, precise dating is almost meaningless anyway; clearly they're playing in a twilight zone where time has no meaning...

    You're posting quite a bit for someone on hiatus!

  3. This is my hiatus hiatus. It probably ends today.

    I should have made more of this in these notes. I listened very carefully to the bass playing in the last fragment. I posted several times stuff like "Wait, is this Jack? Phil?" That's partly why I documented Phil's voice - you can hear him talking all through that last fragment.

    What did you think of my idea as these rhythmic pieces basically representing tempo Etudes? That's why people find them so wankish, probably, but I think they're very consciously exploring rhythmic variation and combination.

  4. I couldn't hear Phil's voice at all in my copy; could be my ears.

    I think the idea of rhythm etudes is very appropriate to the Hartbeats. Of course, a lot of the Dead's material at this time originated as rhythm experiments (the Seven, the Ten, the Eleven, I think the Other One as well), and when they're played instrumentally in a row, it becomes more noticeable! I never heard Clementine as a Six, but took it as a slow 3/4, but perhaps...

    I suspect the Hartbeats ran into a couple walls, though, which may explain why their initial configuration was so short-lived. One, they have a much more limited number of pieces to play than they would've had a few years later, so at each show they keep running over the same material. And two, rehearsing these pieces without Weir may have turned out to be of very little use as far as improving actual Dead shows.
    So that, on top of Phil's limited enthusiasm for these shows (he sometimes hands the bass over to Casady, and doesn't appear on our December tapes), must have closed the door on the Hartbeats.

    "Is this Jack? Phil?" The debate goes on!
    I do not think Casady appears on 10/10, but he definitely does on 10/8. If he does play in this Dark Star, he's uncannily close to Phil's style; but of course he would have known the Dead's material very well.


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