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Monday, March 03, 2014

Grateful Dead Three Ways: December 20, 1975

Selvin (1975c) reviewed the December 19, 1975 Winterland show billing Keith and Donna Godchaux, Kingfish, and the Jerry Garcia Band as "Grateful Dead Divided Three Ways". Hence, my title, even though I am working the crossings through the next night.

Since I have fallen down the rabbit hole of a long post on 10/17/75, and at the risk of dispersing comments and my own thoughts, I thought I could cut and run on a post on 12/20/75. Here are a few takeaways.

First, I don't recall many people talking much about these threeway shows as part of the GD's 1975 revenue model. The first one was a Benefit, but 10/17/75 and these Winterland shows were intended to be fully paying gigs. I think the results on that score were mixed. For example, here's how it coulda looked for this big weekend:

Grateful Dead Three Ways: JGMF scenario for 12/19-20/75

Friday night would have been significantly undersold, and even Saturday not a sellout, on this scenario. And that notwithstanding the event being a cool happening for teens.

Second, contrary to my expectations, Nicky sounds pretty good, not too slurry. He plays Randy Newman's "Birmingham" for the only time [TJS], does a little "Jingle Bells" for the season, and generally plays well, IMO.

Third, this version of Let's Spend The Night Together -> Edward is top-shelf, grade A JGB #1. Check it out.

More notes, including stuff I didn't bring up top here, below the fold.

Jerry Garcia Band
Winterland Arena
Post and Steiner Streets
San Francisco, CA 94115
December 20, 1975 (Saturday)
Phil Matera polished 98-min sbd shnid-123565

--complete set (11 tracks, 97:55)--
t01. (1) [0:12] Let It Rock [11:12] [1:35]
t02. They Love Each Other [6:57] [1:06]
t03. Russian Lullaby [9:05] [0:49]
t04. Tore Up Over You [10:07] (2) [1:55]
t05. Jingle Bells [2:32] (3) [1:20]
t06. Birmingham [4:10] (4) [1:45]
t07. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down [8:41] [0:57]
t08. Money Honey [13:15] (5) [0:42]
t09. Let's Spend The Night Together [4:58] ->
t10. Let's Spend The Night Together (con't) [7:35] ->
t11. Edward [7:55] (6, 7) [0:57]

! ACT1: Jerry Garcia Band #1
! lineup: Jerry Garcia - el-g, vocals;
! lineup: John Kahn - el-bass;
! lineup: Nicky Hopkins - keyboards, vocals;
! lineup: Ron Tutt - drums, vocals;
! guest: Matthew Kelly - harmonica (t08-t11).

! 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.
! TJS:
! db: too many to list right now.
! map:
! venue:
! band: JGB #1 (
! R: "This file: jg75-12-20.jgb.sbd.matera.123565.sbeok.flac16.txt. 01-23-2013 Cool Edit EQ by Phil Matera. Amplitudes balanced, and overall sound improved. For the two solo Nicky tunes, I centered the sound and added some ambience. This version based on Garcia1975-12-20.89589
89589 flac > wav > cool edit > wav > flac."
! R: various information from shnid 8959 not included. That one was based on shnid 15849, but had Brokedown House Productions pitch, patch (mostly with Menke shnid-89571), etc. treatment.
! historical: A big weekend for the post-road Grateful Dead hydra, split out out into the side groups and encompassing every band member except Phil Lesh, who was presumably pounding Heinekens at River City in picturesque downtown Fairfax. The billing reflects an abortive and historically neglected part of the Dead's hiatus business model. In the absence of GD touring revenue, they were going to try to make it with records. Grateful Dead records would take care of the main band's relatively lucrative releases, everyone sharing the risk and reward, while Round Records would take care of the less marketable solo material, from Garcia's relatively monetizable stuff to the anti-music of Lesh and Lagin's Seastones. Financial risk over Round's much less attractive portfolio of releases fell entirely to Garcia, since none of the other GD members had a stake (he was, effectively, subsidizing them --the phrase "as ever" can't help but trip to the tips of the Garciaphilic writer's fingers). Since Garcia's 50/50 partner, future convicted felony fraudster Ron Rakow, allegedly absconded with $225,000 of Jerry and the Dead's money in 1976 (McNally 2002, 491), quite a bad risk it was. From the perspective of a Grateful Dead member (let's say, Reddy Kilowatt), it didn't pay to work hard on a solo record, since Garcia bore all the downside risk and since a struggling Round would drive Garcia back into the arms of his GD-as-touring-unit brethren all the sooner, with all of the attendant balance sheet benefits. And, why invest in something that you think one of the partners will expropriate?
! P: Overall, I liked this show about 100% more than I thought I would on this listen (12/27/2013). My prior was that Nicky would be shitfaced and embarrass himself. Instead, he speaks very little, plays nicely, and generally holds his own. There are no major missteps, as I found on the 10/17/75 tape, for example. He sings "Birmingham", but it's in a nice rollicking (Randy Newman!) style that works better for his voice than, say, his original "No Time". John Kahn has an OK night, to my ears, not great. I didn't remark much about the drums, always the thing that I strain most to listen to (because it's so taken-for-granted when it's metronomic, which it *always is* with Mr. Tutt drumming). Jerry plays very well this night. Matt Kelly adds some very tasty color to Money Honey, which is an exceptionally stretched version, and especially to the 20+ minute signature "big jam" of the Garcia-Hopkins outfit, "Let's Spend The Night Together -> Edward". This is an excellent version, businesslike, relentless, focused. It never meanders. Kelly fits right in and finds a range he can occupy, and everyone seems to respond well. It's an excellent sit-in.
! R: the tape is surprisingly hissy. It has been worked with a lot, apparently starts from baked reels, so maybe they were degraded. Betty never quites gets everything locked in. There's static, various overloads on various instruments, at various times. Bad static on Jerry's guitar during LSTNT, quite painful @ 4:20. The patching in with the Menke aud is really tasty. It feels tremendously integral.
! t01 (1) unknown emcee: "A warm welcome now, please, for the Jerry Garcia Band."
! P: t04 TUOY 5-min mark someone does some backing vocals on the "tore up" chorus. Is that Mr. Tutt? It doesn't sound like Nicky. Nicky not bad solo in the 6-min range while Garcia comps. Not a great solo. Garcia steps up 7:30ff, good guitar work, flexing his fingers and starting to get warmed up.
! R: t04 crowd mixes in at 10:19, calms down a little 10:33 ish. Almost as if recording for a live release.
! t04 (2) Nicky: "Let me do a quick version of 'Lady Sleeps' -- no, sod that, it's Christmas, 'Jingle Bells'." He's slurring, but I have heard him worse.
! P: t05 Nicky solo
! t05 (3) NH: "A Merry Christmas to one and all, and a Happy New Year." @ 3:09 NH "OK, sorry to hold you up. I was dry as a damn bone. Uhh, let me see. OK, I'm gonna try summat that I've never done before. This is a Randy Newman song called "Birmingham". I ain't never been there -- not the one in this country, that is, in Alabama -- but this is the one that one's about ... Randy played it. He plays great piano, man. I'll try and do me best on this, because I love it."
! t06 (4) Nicky: "Thank you. God bless you. Forgot a few words here and there. But I was trying to read and and then play at the same time. Y'know how it is. I wrote em out tonight. Now to continue with the proper show ..."
! R: t07 More crowd mix in for about ten seconds after TNTDODD. I need to document the Menke patches, see shnid-89589. Like she's sampling the room? Either that or it's patch from the aud.
! P: t07 TNTDODD Tutt on backing vocals.
! P: t08 MH Kelly comes in 4-min mark. John steps up for a little lead turn 6:40ff. I don't remember this, exactly ... Betty's got him locked in, that's for sure. But he's not tearing it up. @ 8:37 Nicky yells for Ronnie a few times. This is all so tentative. What's going on? Is it technical difficulties? They are playing so softly. Maybe just really stretching it out. A very unusual version of Money Honey, for sure. Kelly barely audible.
! t08 (5) NH calls for a round of applause for Matt Kelly. Introduces the band and solicits applause.
! P: t09-t10 this gets a real nice train drive, Matt Kelly becomes audible start of the jam track, Jerry is chugging nicely, Nicky takes a florid flourish @ 1:10, there's a little breath, right on cue, and they all go into a different key and take off, Jerry in the lead. Nicky very nice climb 2:19-2:24, Jerry enters the conversation on the 1, he and Nicky beautifully interplaying. Think about that, between-, within- and among-playing, togetherplaying. This is a case where I don't think one could meaningfully reduce the collective term to the "sum" of the individual terms. Jams have emergent properties. 5:40 Jerry is playing "Fire On The Mountain", John in a reggae rum space, Jerry doesn't stick long with FOTM but articulates some nice long sentences in late 5 over 6 minute mark, takes a breath @ 6:28 just when I needed to inhale, back to very long melodious phrases, allows himself to go back into FOTM space late 6-min early 7-min mark, but he's just toying around with it, fully in control of it, like an Asian leopard on a baby rabbit. Nicky signals Edward @ 7:30ish and the band jumps on it. Yeah!
! P: t11 Edward: Matt Kelly still in, and he is contributing very tastefully all up through the first few minutes of Edward. Nicky hits a '1' @ 2:56, and the whole band drops in very nicely. Now off we go 3:17ff. What a great song. Matt Kelly is way more forward than Nicky this night, still cooking late 4-min. @ 5:16 Jerry has his sea legs under him and he's running across the deck, waves abashing, maybe riding a Leviathan tail. Nicky steps up 5:45, hard to imagine fingers not cramping, Jerry fanning @ 6:09, Nicky moves right @ 6:15, he is keeping up well this night, so far. Nice run upward 6:40, Nicky, now Jerry soloing hot and hard behind 6:50, wailing, wailing down the fretboard and strumming out over the 7-min mark, Nicky hits his descending thing perfectly, they bring it to a consensual close. Nice.
! t11 (6) Nicky: "G'night."
! t11 (7) @ 8:20ish uknown emcee: "A really big, big thank you. Jerry Garcia Band." [Announcement next Sunday night QMS with Little Feat and Soundhole]. We're gonna watch a little videotape, then be back real quick with Kingfish".


  1. This is great. I love how the Outlet ticket sales, which were auditable, were 2690 and 4077, but the unauditable door sales were 500 and 700 exactly. Really? There are many stories about shenanigans at the door with Winterland tickets. Do you notice that almost no one has a torn Winterland ticket stub? Not a coincidence.

    I was there Friday night (Dec 19). It seemed pretty full to me, but of course I had no idea whether anyone was sitting in the balcony.

  2. I managed to hold onto a couple winterland tickets to the grateful dead december 27,1977 show. This was only because i had forgotten them at home . Lucky for me i had a friendd who worked there, still saw the show. :)


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