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Sunday, April 06, 2014

Bullshit! Bullshit! Reprise (LN jg1985-05-31.jgjk.early.aud-pinedo.32007.shn2flac)

updated 20140408

I have told the story once before of the Jerry Garcia/John Kahn acoustic duo early show on May 31, 1985, in the context of Bill Graham's branding of the '86-87 JGB tours down south as "The Jerry Garcia Band Electric".

I want to flesh out a bit more detail from the two named informants about this show, whose accounts line up quite beautifully. This post became a bit of a rabbithole for me around The Bust and other things from early '85, but let me drop this and a few brief notes as raw materials for a longer piece of writing about this period.



"Miller Beer Presents an evening of acoustic music, Jerry Garcia w/ John Kahn" should already give you that acrid, headachy feeling - Jerry and John were not in good shape during this period. I have started to dabble in Garcia's Rock Bottom period, which I estimate runs the second half of 1984 (especially, say, from late August) through early 1985 (say, ca. 5/31/85). Recent listening notes around 12/6/84 and 12/7/84 give some indication of my thinking, while an earlier listen to 5/19/84 suggest that things were still reasonably together.

Here's another report from the front of Rock Bottom: 5/31/85a. Thank you eyewitnesses!

Ben Karmelich:
This was Jerry Garcia at his worst.  He had a recent drug arrest and this was when he was in the worst shape physically. The day before the show, Jerry added a second show for the same night. Back then, one Jerry show meant two sets, while two Jerry shows per night meant one set per show, and you had to pay twice. In other words, he added a second show for that same night and expected the crowd to all go outside after the first set and buy another ticket to come back and see the second set.  Needless to say, the crowd was very upset.  One person brought a big banner that said "Jerry Sells Out L.A. Deadheads" with a sad face on it. After Jerry played an uninspired 6 song set, he said good night and left but the crowd refused to leave.  Eventually, Rock Scully came out to say that Jerry "meant to say" that he is taking a short break and eventually, a very pissed off Jerry came out for three more songs.
update 20140408: Ben's memory had the addition of a second show very soon before it was to take place. But I have just reminded myself of the ad in the Los Angeles Times, dated May 26, 1985 (p. N58) and it is interesting. I cannot post image, because I have it from ProQuest (albeit printed - d'oh!). But here's what I see: 1) a listing in the "Openings" section lists one show, 8 p.m. 2) A display ad above it calls the venue "The Beverly" in deco script, above which it says "box office open Monday [5/27], 11 a.m.". Even more interestingly, the ad lists two shows, 7:30 and 10 p.m., and the 7:30 is struck through to indicate that tickets have sold out.

(Memory is a tricky thing, and I am grateful to folks for sharing theirs, always. We should do more on the record, oral history kinds of things. Future historians will thank you if you give a recollection and especially if you go on record!)

I want to suggest that Ben's memory was off on a detail of timing but essentially correct. The paper evidence suggests that a second show was added not the day before the show, but four days before the show. The rest of Ben's story squares with what Erik VanO said (see below). But the incorrect detail has the spirit of what happened correct, and even more beautifully, it squares perfectly with the LAT material! Quite precisely, there was originally a single 8 p.m. show listed (per the listing). Ben reminds us that, in those days, this meant one ticket, two sets starting at 8 p.m. (ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!).

Instead, folks who bought any of the 1,500 tickets sold for the "8 p.m." show, whenever they bought them, were now going to get half as much as they expected (or, just as much at twice the price). They are going to turn the house between sets (now, by the magic of the market, and with all of its solemnity, rechristened a "show"). And this is Before The Internet, so you might not have found out until you got to the show. That is a freaking ripoff.

It looks to me like the Miller Concert Series was quite the enterprise. They sold out a show reasonably quickly and decided to check what the market would bear. They were only going to get one shot at it - one night only. I have this place holding 1,500 - at let's say $13 to the consumer, let's say $11 after ticketing fees, that's $16,500 gross (1984 dollars). Would you rather have just over $36k today for one show, or about $73k for two? I suspected as much.

I don't know what Mill would say about this, since I only pretend to have read him. On the one hand, those 1,500 early buyers get screwed. On the other hand, another 1,500 (maybe among them the same people, that's immaterial) get to buy a ticket to see Jerry. If it's worth it to them, so much the better. I don't know if those utilities cancel out in a utilitarian perspective. Pareto, of course, would reject it outright, since at least one person (the dude or lady who ran out to paint an anti-Jerry sign) was made worse off.

/update 20140408

Erik VanO picks up the story.


Erik VanO:
The show ended with Ripple and the crowd was pissed off at the short show and no encore. When the house lights went on the crowd booed and that morphed into a "bullshit-bullshit" chant. No one would leave. So Jerry had to come back out and play more tunes. I know this well because, me, being mister stat guy, know it all, laughed at everyone and said "it's over, this is standard, he never does an encore, this is it" and proceeded to put my money where my mouth was: I walked out to prove my point. Within moments, the lights went out and I watched everyone from the lobby run ecstatically back into the seating area. They would not let me back in. I ran around side and was allowed to sit with the security dudes on the fire escape since they were confused as well and had the doors open expecting the theatre to exit. So I saw and heard the tunes with my own ears, but from technically outside, but NO WAY that I missed a single note. So I'm not sure whether you'd even call it a second set, I never thought of it as that, more of an encore/riot control, but regardless, those were the only songs played in that unusual circumstance, and I'd say its safe to say that all tapes now, and yet undiscovered,  would support that as well.

There's only one tape of this show known to me, recorded by Joe Pinedo and preserved from first generation cassette copies by Brian Mandel (shnid-32007). Thank you, gentlemen. Alas, the circulating copy doesn't really reveal anything about this incident, except that Garcia tried to deliver to his paying audience, to the tune of $12.75-$14.75, a "complete show" that would fit on a single cassette side, comfortably - 35 minutes of condensed actual music. I don't have the quotes located right now, but I can give a long paragraph here about Garcia's professional standards, which were real. The key litmus test is giving the paying fan his/her money's worth. And I think that even Jerry would admit that he failed his own test, fell short of his own standard, on 5/31/85a.

Revealed preferences are tricky, but the fans certainly seem not to have felt that 6 songs in 40 minutes was worth what they paid. It was already bad enough, as Ben Karmelich reports, that they were feeling fleeced enough ex ante to get in Garcia's face about it. They're pissed, maybe he's pissed that they're pissed (and embarrassed, which would be wholly appropriate, IMO), he's passive aggressive with a short set, and they call him out on it. This wouldn't have happened in the Bay Area, on his home turf (and listenings to 3/2/85, 6/3/85 confirm); the LA heads were sufficiently without illusions, or sufficiently interested in getting their money's worth, or whatever, to demand a professional gig. They did.

"Bullshit! Bullshit!"

Garcia must have been mortified with himself for insulting his fans to this point. The "encore" set is a little bit of a dickslap,so I am not saying he's had a good healthy epiphany by any stretch. On the contrary, more passive-aggression. 15 more minutes? Fuck you too, Jerry.

I don't think he could help himself at this point. One has to think that 1/18/85 must have been rock bottom, but, I dunno, sometimes there's a valley floor down there, and one wanders around the bottom for a bit, because 5/31/85a is definitely staking its claim.

Listening notes below the fold.

Jerry Garcia and John Kahn
Beverly Theatre
9404 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90212

May 31, 1985 Early Show - 7:30 PM
Pinedo MAC shnid-32007 shn2flac

--complete show (9 tracks, 50:39)--
--main set (6 tracks, 35:57)--
s1t01. [0:05] Run For The Roses :06-4:39 [0:02] % [0:02]
s1t02. /I've Been All Around This World [#4:30] (1) [0:04]
s1t03. Friend Of The Devil [6:15] [0:04]
s1t04. Deep Elem Blues [7:02] [0:07]
s1t05. Simple Twist Of Fate [8:32] [0:05]
s1t06. Ripple [4:28] (1) [0:07]
--encore (3 tracks, 14:42)--
s2t01. [0:12] Jack-A-Roe [3:47] [0:09]
s2t02. Oh Babe, It Ain't No Lie [5:19] ->
s2t03. //When I Paint My Masterpiece [#5:11] (2) [0:03]

! ACT1: Jerry Garcia and John Kahn
! lineup: Jerry Garcia - ac-g, vocals;
! lineup: John Kahn - ac-b.

JGMF:
! 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/1792.
! JGC: http://jerrygarcia.com/show/1985-05-31-beverly-theater-beverly-hills-ca/
! db: http://db.etree.org/shn/32007 (this fileset).
! map: https://goo.gl/maps/ZONPI
! venue: http://jerrygarciasbrokendownpalaces.blogspot.com/2011/09/beverly-theater-206-north-beverly-dr.html; https://sites.google.com/site/wilshiremoviepalaces/warner-bros-beverly-hills.
! historical: Ben Karmelich: This was Jerry Garcia at his worst.  He had a recent drug arrest and this was when he was in the worst shape physically. The day before the show, Jerry added a second show for the same night. Back then, one Jerry show meant two sets, while two Jerry shows per night meant one set per show, and you had to pay twice. [ed: they "turned the house"] In other words, he added a second show for that same night and expected the crowd to all go outside after the first set and buy another ticket to come back and see the second set.  Needless to say, the crowd was very upset.  One person brought a big banner that said "Jerry Sells Out L.A. Deadheads" with a sad face on it. After Jerry played an uninspired 6 song set, he said good night and left but the crowd refused to leave.  Eventually, Rock Scully came out to say that Jerry "meant to say" that he is taking a short break and eventually, a very pissed off Jerry came out for three more songs.
! historical: Erik VanO: The show ended with Ripple and the crowd was pissed off at the short show and no encore. When the house lights went on the crowd booed and that morphed into a "bullshit-bullshit" chant. No one would leave. So Jerry had to come back out and play more tunes. I know this well because, me, being mister stat guy, know it all, laughed at everyone and said "it's over, this is standard, he never does an encore, this is it" and proceeded to put my money where my mouth was: I walked out to prove my point. Within moments, the lights went out and I watched everyone from the lobby run ecstatically back into the seating area. They would not let me back in. I ran around side and was allowed to sit with the security dudes on the fire escape since they were confused as well and had the doors open expecting the theatre to exit. So I saw and heard the tunes with my own ears, but from technically outside, but NO WAY that I missed a single note. So I'm not sure whether you'd even call it a second set, I never thought of it as that, more of an encore/riot control, but regardless, those were the only songs played in that unusual circumstance, and I'd say its safe to say that all tapes now, and yet undiscovered,  would support that as well.
! R: field recordist: Joe Pinedo;
! R: field recording gear: Sony 939 > Sony D5;
! R: transfer: transfer & CD mastering/shn conversion by Brian Mandel, gdplusmore@aol.com: 1st gen cassette (Maxell XLII 90 with Dolby B) > Nakamichi BX300 > Macintosh > Peak Bias > JAM > cdr > eac > mkw > shntool. shn2flac conversion by jgmf 3/20/2014.
! R: seeder notes: "previously had set II listed as incomplete, but this is all JG and JK played."
! s1t01 RFTR brutal tape drag first 20 seconds or so, and warble continues for awhile.
! s1t02 (1) JG: "Thank you."
! s1t03 I swear there's a really weird vibe. When he flubs lyrics, people seem to be laughing at him. In late 5, when he says "it don't look like me", I think a dude yells "thank God" and a chick near the mic laughs.
! P: s1t04 DEB JG sounds lost on the music, things are very off-kilter. Early 2-min John is actually stepping up and helping out, and they find each other. 2:25 ish Garcia takes a nice percussive lead, little fan 2:41, nice little solo coming down late 2. Lose each other a little again late 4.
! s1t06 Ripple the clapping is throwing everything off, or in any case there's some tempo weirdness and off-kilter feel.
! s1t06 (1) JG: "Thank you."
! s2t02 OBIANL guy yells we love you Jerry. Poeple yelling Jerry, he's trying to sing and play, STFU people!
! R: s2t02-s2t03 tape flip
! s2t03 (2) JG: "Thanks a lot everybody. See y'all later."

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