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Saturday, March 29, 2014

At Wolfgang's Warfield: JGB, March 2, 1991 orchestra tape

LN jg1991-03-02.jgb.all.aud-mk4-orchestra.123611.flac1648

Obviously I don't get much into the 1990s, though I'll need to do more to do the whole GOTS story justice.

This is a totally professional gig, musically excellent. Old Jerry has his charms. He's a sophisticated storyteller and themeweaver on the guitar. I have performance notes below, and you'll see I find an awful lot to like here. But I find myself not liking all this polish as much as I like some of his more problem-era grungy edges. De gustibus non est disputandum.

The vocals are very low on this tape, but in general I am not a fan of the high nasal he had to use late in the game, for example with Struggling Man. They have the arrangements pretty locked in so that the ladies help him robustly in lots of places, but obviously he's the leader singer. His vocals are not bad here, like they were, say, 1984-1985. They're not painful. They're just not very strong. A little thin and reedy.

The Warfield. So much to say, can't believe I haven't done it yet. Graham finally elbowed Freddie Herrera and his clubs aside in mid-1987, capturing Garcia for the rest of his side life's life (and the rest of his lives' lives, too, natch), luring him with the seductions of money, physical comfort, convenience, predictability, privacy, and top-level professionalism. The bastard. (This is not an implied criticism of Freddie, not in the least. He ran world-class clubs. It's a clubs vs. theaters problem as much as anything.)

Early 1991 is an intense period of Warfield shows, as the first 8 months of 1990 had been: thirteen gigs in the first five months of 1991! See the table below.

Table xxx. Garcia at Graham's Warfield, 1991.
For the year, sixteen shows at the Warfield, plus three summer shows (8/10/91 on the Eel River and 8/24-25/91 at Squaw Valley) for Bill Graham. My sense (I have not checked!) is that in other years there'd be fewer Warfield shows but more BG shows in SoCal. That's probably the case for 1987, 1992, 1994, at least. Anyway, I don't have a sense of why there were so many shows in this early 1991 window. I wonder if Jerry wanted cash to finance the JGB record, from the tapes pulled at the Warfield in 1990? Arista could surely have done it. Maybe he just felt like playing it that way, and the only reason there's not more in the fall is the east coast tour. Maybe there's no particular reason.

At this stage in his life, at 49, Jerry increasingly wanted some of the things I listed above (viz. "money, physical comfort, convenience, predictability, privacy, and top-level professionalism"). His business arrangements with Graham (as with Scher when it came to touring the east - see McNally 2002, 494) were massive win-win propositions, as those with Fred Herrera had been. Creative destruction can be achingly beautiful.

This tape remains unattributed, with the classic "DAT Brat" setup - that's what some older tapers called the Young Digital Turks pulling psychoacoustic masterpieces from the Warfield ether, night after night, during this period - Schoeps MK4s, Oade custom power supply, Panasonic SV-255. Most Warfield tapes come from the drink rail, which was, per psychoacoustic science, The Spot from which to record Garcia at the Warfield. This one, instead, is from the orchestra pit. It ain't perfect, but it's really good and interesting. I think at least a few great tapes walked out onto Market at the end of this night.

Which reminds me, this may be the formal debut of incomplete timings in listening notes. 

Jerry Garcia Band
The Warfield
982 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

March 2, 1991 (Saturday)
Schoeps MK4 flac1648 shnid-123611

--set I (7 tracks, 64:46)--
s1t01. [0:33] How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) [6:41] [0:35]
s1t02. I Shall Be Released [11:42] [0:44]
s1t03. C'est La Vie (You Never Can Tell) [7:18] [0:31]
s1t04. Mississippi Moon [8:17] [1:58]
s1t05. Tore Up over You [7:27] [0:19]
s1t06. [0:04] My Sisters And Brothers [4:24] [1:00]
s1t07. Let's Spend The Night Together [13:05] [0:06] %

--set II (8 tracks, 77:38)--
s2t08. [0:09] The Way You Do The Things You Do [12:42] [0:54]
s2t09. Senor [7:00] [0:35]
s2t10. Struggling Man [7:26]
s2t11. Money Honey
s2t12. Everybody Needs Somebody To Love [10:04] [1:14]
s2t13. Evangeline
s2t14. That Lucky Old Sun (Just Rolls Around Heaven All Day) [10:39] ->
s2t15. Tangled Up In Blue [13:25] (1) [0:13] %

! ACT1: Jerry Garcia Band #21b
!lineup: Jerry Garcia - el-guitar, vocals;
!lineup: Gloria Jones - vocals;
!lineup: Jacklyn LaBranch - vocals;
!lineup: Melvin Seals - organ;
!lineup: John Kahn - el-bass;
!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:

! db: (this fileset); (unattributed aud, shnf); (DaWeez flac1644).

! map:

! venue:; see also I can't believe I haven't written up the Warfield yet. These latter years so often disappoint me, I know I need to do them but I can rarely motivate for it. This one was good and will have inspired me to listen and write more around the late period, I think. I don't quite know when the name of the venue has been Fox-Warfield, etc., but during this period all official references (tickets, handbills, etc.) are to The Warfield.

! band: THE Jerry Garcia Band, JGB #21b (

! LLBase: I don't believe this fileset has been seeded at LL as of this date (3/29/2014).

! R: field recordist: unknown;

! R: field recording location: orchestra pit;

! R: field recroding gear: Schoeps MK4/CMC3 > Oade PS > Panasonic SV-255 @ 48khz;
! R: transfer: SONY PCM-R500 > TASCAM SS-R05 > AUDACITY > FLAC @ 48khz, transferred on January 26, 2013 by

! bt: Seeder greens_n_beans, 2013-06-24, 11:10:52: "This was recorded from the pit at the Warfield, so quite up front, hence the low vocals....and Jerry's hot amps right in your face."

! P: s2t09 "Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power)" Garcia just doesn't have a handle on the lyrics, and that holds him back a little bit. He hits the "gimme a minute, lemme get it together" line, but then mumbles the next lines. Steps back for a very beautiful guitar solo early 5-minute mark. There are moments at which this is sublime, but the overall effect lacks something to my ears.

! P: s2t10 "Struggling Man". I have historically harbored the view that the return of this tune in the late-era Garcia Band was artistically unsuccessful. But this is really, really nice. Garcia's guitar work over the 3 minute mark and forward is simply outstanding, brilliant. Learned. Erudite. Not only that, but he is controlling sound in a room that he knows very well, which he has played a lot. He's comfortable. His gear is locked in. He has been with these same players for eight years! So he takes another turn over 4 minute mark, the band on the '1' 4:35 and Jerry is playing so beautifully. He clearly trusts these players. Tight tight tight playing. @@ And What a fucking recording! Holy camoley. Jerry steps back to comp, inviting Melvin up, and Melvin takes a synthy turn until about 5:41, they're together on the main melody. John is totally inaudible, for which he, not tapers, is to blame. @ 6618 "sun lights the day" verse. This is really a reach for Jerry vocally. I am not a huge fan of how thin his voice sounds, how nasally, in this period (and, a fortiori, later). It's not horrible or scratchy or clammy, just strained. They hit the finish on the freaking money. Jerry must have given them a head signal. Tight.

! P: s2t11 Money Honey Kemper is such a man on the drums. He's just right on the snares and traps here. The ladies hold Jerry up vocally, really nicely, on these R&B numbers, but also generally. The arrangements are mature, the pacing is relaxed, everything is controlled. It hardly sounds like Garcia is sweating here --though, eww, I'm sure, ick in an objective sense, a "big ugly man doll", quoth Amy to Barbie in Toy Story 2. Even when he's soloing pretty grungily in the 3-minute range, it's a contained and channeled energy.

! P: s2t15 after TLOS they gotta shake off the honey and get warmed back up for TUIB. It's chugging out of the gate a little ponderously. It's like the neighbor's Suburban. Kemper is trying to push the pace a little bit 1:20ff. It's true that Jerry's vocals are very low on this, but his guitar sounds nice. No bass at all. What we are hearing is the stage. And Jerry had his own guitar turned up, his vocals turned down onstage. John is totally inaudible, contributing nothing to the stage mix. Melvin is exactly on-chart, the ladies are on-chart, Kemper sounds fresh, and Jerry's the X-factor. This first serious solo late 2-minute mark is workmanlike, but uninspired. This tape is really mic'ing Kemper beautifully, and he plays beautifully, crisp high-hatting 3:45ff. Next solo over 5 is nothing special. Remembering all these lyrics (this is "basement on Montague Street" verse) is limiting Jerry's guitar playing, keeping it pretty rudimentary over the verses. Remembering any Dylan song is impressive, so I shouldn't be too critical. I wonder if he was using lyric sheets, charts, etc. on an occasion like this? Jerry's solo he has stepped back, pedaled and dialed in some stuff, and he picks up tempo 7:30ff, Kemper right behind him and then right where he needs to be, right underneath him. Jerry Garcia plays his well-wahed guitar, some grunge outside of the soft middle, a fresh hot plain cake donut (which I am sure Garcia occasionally enjoyed - who wouldn't?). 9:30 he clearly has a kind of theme, but it just ain't moving me. Then he weaves around and through his theme over 10, now higher and scaling down, lower and scaling up, a half-measure, a quarter-measure, layering on a little more 10:40, interesting theme, now some very interesting phrasings, crossing 11 he references TUIB and now it feels like he's laying out his patch back to it for good, neat little thing 11:30, higher up 11:35, letting it peak higher now, now a little higher 11:45 11:55, right after 12:000 fanning, determinedly, then a fast run to 12:12, the fanning was kind of deliberate, but then he ran that little run to remind ya he could be fast, too. Then he hits the reprise 12:30 or so and we are heading into the barn. Nice job, all (though I think John has already wandered away). Good show.

! s2t15 (1) JG: "see ya later"

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