Nice tape, and a good night if you can filter out Garcia's singing. Jerry's peppy and there's lots of good playing here.
I have argued that this period (August-December 1984) is rock bottom, but if it is, I gotta give the guy credit for slogging through it pretty respectably.
Two arguments for rock bottom, from this tape.
First, the vocals. Awful. Painful.
Second, the quantity: as good as the playing is, there might be less of it than a fully committed professional might feel obliged to provide you. You're getting barely ninety minutes of actual music for your ca. twelve and a half 1984 dollars. (That's less than thirty bucks today, which doesn't look outrageous given live entertainment ticket price inflation. But it was not cheap back then. He probably comes on real late and takes a real long set break, as well.)
But, I don't know. I am not prepared to say that this is "below the bar" of professionalism. I am posing the question. How bad do vocals need to be before you think to yourself, "y'know what? That's just freakin' brutal". What indifferent light-speed Mid Moon, galloping back to trough and getting out of Dodge, insults the ticket-buying public? All of this happened on a regular basis in 1984 and 1985, and 1983 and 1986 are suspect as well (though the latter for different reasons).
The question challenges me because the shows feature some incredible, incendiary, world-class guitar playing, outstanding arrangements with fine musicianship (aside from the bass), and the occasional 18-minute "Don't Let Go" that is totally worth checking out for the sheer American craftsmanship of it. I'd hit that for $30 tonight, given the choice - wouldn't you?
Jerry Garcia Band
8 NW Sixth Avenue
Portland, OR 97209
December 7, 1984 (DOW) - 8:30 PM
Bruce Young MAC flac2496 shnid-127069
--set I (6 tracks, 44:10)--
s1t01. crowd and tuning [1:07]
s1t02. Cats Under the Stars [9:02] [1:01]
s1t03. When I Paint My Masterpiece [8:45] % [0:18]
s1t04. Get Out Of My Life, Woman [8:32] [0:06]
s1t05. Run For The Roses [4:57] ->
s1t06. Deal [10:10] [0:13] %
--set II (5 tracks, 48:44)--
s2t01. crowd and tuning [1:20]
s2t02. Mission In The Rain [10:52] [0:14]
s2t03. The Harder They Come [11:02] [0:08] %% [0:12]
s2t04. Don't Let Go [18:00] ->
s2t05. Midnight Moonlight [6:37] (2) [0:18]
! ACT1: Jerry Garcia Band #21b
! lineup: Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals;
! lineup: John Kahn - bass;
! lineup: Melvin Seals - keyboards;
! lineup: Jaclyn LaBranch - backing vocals;
! lineup: Gloria Jones - backing vocals;
! lineup: David Kemper - drums.
! 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: http://www.thejerrysite.com/shows/show/1736
! db: http://db.etree.org/shn/89197 (Mark Severson flac1644); http://db.etree.org/shn/127069 (this fileset).
! map: https://goo.gl/maps/W2atf
! venue: http://jerrygarciasbrokendownpalaces.blogspot.com/2012/07/starry-night-8-nw-sixth-avenue-portland.html
! band: JGB #21b, THE Jerry Garcia Band (http://lostlivedead.blogspot.com/2012/01/jerry-garcia-band-personnel-1975-1995.html).
! historical: This show is interesting as part of a study into Garcia's nadir. The vocals meet expectations - they are horrific. Garcia is estranged from his singing voice at this point. But he plays some terrific guitar and is generally quite energetic. But here's the other downside of this period: the sets are probably an hour total time (including smoke breaks and such) each, and I am sure they started late - perhaps hours - and took a very long set break - I presume an hour or more. So, for your $12.50 or whatever (I don't know the prices), you have a long night without as much musical bang for your buck. There were other periods in which they were even shorter, I think -- 1985 comes to mind -- but not by much. And by the end of the night, they are sprinting into the barn for some freshening up. See also http://jgmf.blogspot.com/2014/03/ln-jg1984-12-06jgbs1s2paud.html.
! R: field recordist: Bruce Young;
! R: field recording gear: 2x Sony or Nakamichi mics > unknown DBX unit > Sony D5;
! R: field recording location: first row of the balcony, center, directly above the soundboard;
! R: transfer and FLAC encoding by David Minches: Master played back on Nakamichi Dragon > Korg MR-1000(DSF [1-bit 5.6448 MHz Stereo]) Korg AudioGate > WAV [24/96] > Adobe Audition 3.0 > FLAC encoding.
! R: Taper recollections: "I used the old SONY microphones I borrowed from Richie. I used a Sony D5 ... Recorded at the old Starry Night club, first row of the balcony, center, directly above the soundboard. I created and made all of the backstage passes because my friend, Forrest Faubion, was the promoter. I had wall power for the D5 and the DBX, which you also have. I was the first person into the show and had my pick of recording locations. Being right over the soundboard and in the balcony, there is far, far less crowd noise, because there was no one in front of me. The mics were taped, but cushioned with sonex foam, to the balcony. There is a chance I used the Jaime modified NAK microphones ... I'm not positive when he made them for me. The best recording I ever made. The backstage passes have my company name....Up All Night (Nite to save space) in very small font. Michael Hedges opened, but it was was very hard to record a solo guitar act so far away. Too much noise to signal ... too much echo."
! P: s2t02 CUTS. Brutally bad voice, as you'd expect. For whatever reason, Jerry just frequently had a hard time with how to end this song. Too many refrains.
! P: s1t03 WIPMM Jerry sings reasonably peppy. "It sure has been a long, hard climb", indeed. Whoa, crazy fanning around late 6 over 7 mark, very nice!
! P: s1t04 GOOMLW He misses the first vocal, so he takes a nice turn on guitar, and playing nicely, e.g., 0:38 just some nice sharp runs, digging in, still grooving into 0:50, starts vox around 1 minute in. More fluid stuff 1:05-1:06. Nice. His guitar playing is just fine, thank you very much. Pretty good playing over 4. Melvin takes a feature 4:25ff.
! s1t05 RFTR was good when it was fast like this. Bad vocal clam @ 3:45.
! s1t06 (1) JG: "We're gonna take a break for a little while. We'll be back later."
! P: MITR 5 min mark Melvin is playing electric piano, rather nicely.
! P: s2t03 HTC here, as throughout the show, I am really impressed with David Kemper. This HTC is going a mile a minute - yikes!
! P: s2t04 DLG was always special by this time - a DLG night was typically a highlight. This one strikes me as good, but nothing jumped out at me.
! P: s2t05 Mid Moon is sprinting.
! s2t05 (2) JG: "see ya later", or something like that. He's sprinting backstage.