greeting

Please make yourself at home! Check some tags, do some reading, leave a comment.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

A Motley Crew Down at the Nunnery (LN jg1984-08-11.jgb.all.aud-weez.111743.flac1644)

Ticket stub for JGB 8/11/84 show at Caldwell College, contributed by Ed.

What a weird show. Reviewer Bill Breen (1984) sets the stage.
The August 11 Robert Hunter/ Jerry Garcia Band gig at Caldwell College, New Jersey had to be one of their stranger forays. ... Their venue was a Catholic girls' school, complete with neo-Gothic towers and Celtic crucifixes. ... The stage was built at the bottom of a grassy hillock ringed by two hundred foot balsams, which formed a natural ampitheater. The crucific topped towers peering through the trees lent a medieval look.
He notes the incongruity of Garcia and his fans in these pious surroundings. A TJS informant writes that there were "nuns patrolling the parking lot", while TJS contributor Mike Vand also notes heavy security without specifying whether it was the good sisters.

I'd say this is an average show for the period. It has the grungy, filthy, feedbacky August 1984 Garcia guitar playing that I really like, right in your ears on this FOB tape.

I *love* that Garcia had brough Allen Toussaint's "Get Out Of My Life, Woman" (Allan | deaddisc | TJS) into his repertoire. Now, not everyone loves Jerry Garcia, and fewer still love the Jerry Garcia Band. Since it's less exploratory than the Grateful Dead, it loses everyone who needs the collective improvisation at work in that band. That's fine. But let's recognize the American musical vein Garcia is tapping here, with legit Bay Area R&B, soul, church musicians. JGB introduced it on 7/28/84 at the Keystone Palo Alto, prepped it one more time locally, and then took it on the road, playing it every night but one on the August 7-18, 1984 tour. The song's introduction doesn't fit within a "Rock Bottom" narrative. I maintain pretty consistently that fresh material is a pretty unalloyed good, at least as a proxy. Variance in the repertoire means he's at least thinking about things, engaged. And when he picks a number as cool as this, with his Bay Area players flavoring the really tight mix, It Is Good, and true to his self conception as a local kid running around multihued San Francisco, a Mission Street R&B guy. Nice.

One further note on GOOMLW: The song's ebb and flow in the repertoire is generally interesting. Some tunes come in and never leave. Some tunes come in and leave right away. Some tunes he played mainly with one group of players, and others he kept picking up through the many iterations of the JGB or many different periods. This one was ebbed and flowed a bunch, with lots of six month or even year long gaps between performances. That's not that common in the JGB repertoire.

"Like A Road Leading Home" (Allan | Scofield | TJS) is a song I have discussed in connection with its earliest appearance, on 1/24/73, where I conjecture that it's a song Jerry really liked, qua song. And who can blame him? It's a good one. And I'll make a post sometime connecting this performance with another one from early 1989, so I won't say much more here, except that this version is too short and not quite together.

Now, what about this 35 minute second set? Very suspect.

In the Rock Bottom series I have pondered some endogenously short sets, including 5/31/85 and 6/3/85, and some that were at least partly exogenously foreshortened (3/2/85, late band members). (I won't consider here shows that were fully exogenously truncated, as by the power outage at the Boston Orpheum on 11/13/81.) Though Jerry sounds better here than on 3/2/85, I think he didn't have to play so short on this night. Breen (1984) notes that with a crowd "10,000 strong, it was a pretty motley crew down at the nunnery". I am surprised the crowd was that big, but anyway. During the sixth ever JGB version of Allen Toussaint's "Get Out Of My Life, Woman" (Allan | deaddisc | TJS), "a local aborigine, madly gyrating, crashed through the drumset." He was booed, security gave him the heave-ho, they were booed. Breen recalls that, "drumless, Garcia soloed right on through, never dropping a note. Afterward, the band huddled briefly, considering their next move." Things never quite go drumless, to my ears, but one can definitely hear the action @ 4:45 of s2t02. As he so often does, Garcia responds to this sort of thing with some burning, molten guitar playing - check it out.

Attendee Mike Vand remembers our gyrating freak:
Halfway through the second set some crazed individual got on the stage, leaping on it from behind the band, and knocked over part of the drum kit. The band finished the song and left the stage. That explains the short set and no encore. Don't know what happened to the guy. He jumped into the area between the stage and a security fence which I think was full of cops.
Vand seems to suggest that the stage crasher truncated the show, but clearly Jerry comes out and plays a couple more songs. He might have left the stage for awhile - this tape isn't clear because it splices. The David Dyche tape (shnid-120062) has a little more after GOOMLW, and it does sound like someone hear him is urging the band to stick around or something. I can't quite tell.

Long story long, this was a disruptive event. I don't necessarily blame Garcia for not putting out more -- I wonder what the temp was on this day, and it's never fun having someone invade your space when you're trying to work-- but the fact is, after it happened he played a tender but short "Like A Road" and then galloped Peter Rowan's "Midnight Moonlight" back to the barn. Not sure the other 9,999 assembled nuns, goons and trippers deserved the short change, but there you have it.

So, I like the narrative tensions around this show. Incongruous context, and Garcia showing the era's spark and limitations. Oh yeah, one other thing: check out the east coast tapers representing: seven separate master tapes of this circulate in the lossless realm! Speaking of motley crews ... :)


Jerry Garcia Band
Caldwell College
120 Bloomfield Avenue
Caldwell, NJ 07006

August 11, 1984 (Saturday) - 7 PM
Da Weez flac1644 shnid-111743

--set I (6 tracks, 61:21)--
s1t01. [0:06] Cats Under The Stars [9:28] [0:54] %
s1t02. /They Love Each Other [8:06] [0:12]
s1t03. Simple Twist Of Fate ->
s1t04. Run For The Roses
s1t05. Dear // Prudence
s1t06. Rhapsody In Red [12:42] (1) [0:16]

--set II (4 tracks, 35:34)--
s2t01. [0:07]  Mission In The Rain [11:22] [0:06] %
s2t02. Get Out Of My Life, Woman [8:33] [0:07] % [0:03]
s2t03. Like A Road Leading Home [7:02] ->
s2t04. Midnight Moonlight [7:49] [0:12] % dead air [0:07]

! 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.

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://thejerrysite.com/shows/show/1758
! JGC: http://jerrygarcia.com/show/1984-08-11-caldwell-college-caldwell-nj/
! db: http://db.etree.org/shn/4411 (Steve Ziemba shnf); http://db.etree.org/shn/9504 (Jeff Silberman shnf); http://db.etree.org/shn/21718 (Bill Reutelhuber shnf); http://db.etree.org/shn/78159 (Jim Vita flac1644); http://db.etree.org/shn/91396 (Joe D'Amico flac1644);  http://db.etree.org/shn/120062 (David Dyche flac); http://db.etree.org/shn/111743 (Da Weez flac, this fileset).
! venue: http://jerrygarciasbrokendownpalaces.blogspot.com/2011/09/caldwell-college-120-bloomfield-ave.html
! map: https://goo.gl/maps/gndSd
! review: Breen, Bill. 1984. Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter: Caldwell College, New Jersey. Relix 11, 5 (October): 28-29.
! band: JGB #21b, THE Jerry Garcia Band (http://lostlivedead.blogspot.com/2012/01/jerry-garcia-band-personnel-1975-1995.html).
! historical: Reviewer Bill Breen (1984) paints a nice picture: "The August 11 Robert Hunter/ Jerry Garcia Band gig at Caldwell College, New Jersey had to be one of their stranger forays. ... Their venue was a Catholic girls' school, complete with neo-Gothic towers and Celtic crucifixes. ... The stage was built at the bottom of a grassy hillock ringed by two hundred foot balsams, which formed a natural ampitheater. The crucific topped towers peering through the trees lent a medieval look." He notes the incongruity. A TJS informant writes that there were "nuns patrolling the parking lot", while TJS contributor Mike Vand also notes heavy security without specifying that it was the good sisters. The other thing to note is the 35 minute second set. In the Rock Bottom series I have pondered short sets (3/2/85, 5/31/85, 6/1/85, 6/3/85). I have also occasionally bumped into exogenously truncated sets, as when a nearby fire cut short a show at the Boston Orpheum Theatre xxx on 11/15/81. I think this is a little bit of both. "At 10,000 strong, it was a pretty motley crew down at the nunnery" (Breen 1984), and during the sixth ever JGB version of Allen Toussaint's "a local aborigine, madly gyrating, crashed through the drumset." He was booed, security gave him the heave-ho, they were booed. Breen recalls that, "drumless, Garcia soloed right on through, never dropping a note. Afterward, the band huddled briefly, considering their next move." Attendee Mike Vand remembers our gyrating freak: "Halfway through the second set some crazed individual got on the stage, leaping on it from behind the band, and knocked over part of the drum kit. The band finished the song and left the stage. That explains the short set and no encore. Don't know what happened to the guy. He jumped into the area between the stage and a security fence which I think was full of cops." Vand seems to suggest that the stage crasher truncated the show, but cclearly Jerry comes out and plays a couple more songs. He might have left the stage for awhile - this tape isn't clear because it splices. The David Dyche tape (shnid-120062) has a little more after GOOMLW, and it does sound like someone hear him is urging the band to stick around or something. I can't quite tell. Long story long, this was a disruptive event. But Jerry could have chosen to come out and play more than two songs even after the incident. I don't blame him for not putting out more -- I wonder what the temp was on this day, and it's never fun having someone invade your space when you're trying to work-- but the fact is, after it happened he played a tender Like A Road (I have a post to make about freaky stage crashers and that particular song) and then galloped Peter Rowan's "Midnight Moonlight" back to the barn.
! R: field recordist: The Weasel ("Da Weez");
! R: field recording gear: 2x Sennheiser 421 microphones > Sony TC-D5M;
! R: field recording media: unknown cassette stock;
! R: field recording location: close to the stage;
! R: transfer: Sony TC-D5M (original record deck) > Pre Sonus Inspire GT > Sound Forge > .wav files > Trader's Little Helper > flac files, by D5scott. Seeded to Dime.
! R: seeder note: "R.I.P. Sandy. aka 'Bigfoot'"
! R: s1t01 guitar is right in your face, and vocals are way back. So we are hearing the stage. (Looks at notes, and sees recording location of "close to stage". Indeed!)
! R: s1t02 TLEO clips in. God, this recording captures Garcia's guitar so beautifully! He is playing really well, e.g., in the 5-6 range.
! P: s1t02 Melvin sounds great to start TLEO, really forward on the recording. Garcia's voice ragged, what did you expect? His inflection is good, his singing is very intentional, very present. @ 2:50, Melvin hits a real loud thing, the crowd reacts and Melvin has stepped in front of *Garcia* for a lead turn. Yeah, man! That announcement of his intention is very cool. Now, however, Jerry is comping behind him 3:20s and Melvin doesn't have anything to say. Does a little thing 3:45ff, but not loud enough! Now a little louder over 4, but I expect that Jerry's done enough comping. Indeed, he bends out 4:11, his first turn is interesting, sounds ilke an early GD tune, not a great solo, but a little weird. The band is on the '1' though, so he can get back to TLEO, set his feet and go again, as he is late 4 over 5.
! P: s1t03 man, now Jerry's vocals sound very clear, and again he is singing with care. He muffs the first part of the second of verse. He is singing so beautifully here. In the 2 min mark he takes a nice solo, gets fsome real echo and feedback on it 2:29, high up 2:39. John going to take a lead turn 6:40ff, since Garcia is so forward in the mix you hear him comping more than John's fluttery lead. By 8:30 Jerry is signaling his intentions, and 8:40 ish he steps forward. John's thing wasn't terrible, but it did nothing for me.  STOF giving it his all vocally. Next run through early 3 is very grungy. This tape captures the guitar, the feeling of his electric guitar playing on this night. The band is *on*. Screaming 4:15, after the "I sing the blues, where has it led?" line. Band is super tight.
! s1t06 (1) JG: "Thank you. We're gonna take a break for a few minutes. We'll be back a little later."
! P: s2t01 MITR hard to say if this is a P or an R artifact. Let me explain. At 6:40 it is Mevin's turn to play some lead. He signals it, Garcia steps back, comps, creating the space for Melvin. Melvin is playing the sorts of notes that would be indicative of "leading", but he's not very audible. So, is it that he's not really putting his belly into it because he's a little tentative? Or is it just that we are right in front of Jerry, listening to his stage monitors, and Melvin's not high in this particular mix? It'd be cool to check against some of the other tapes (most of which were seeded in shn and need a shn2flac treatment), because the implications are totally different. The first is that Melvin's not stepping up. The second is that he might be, and though we can't hear it very loudly, we are listening from a Jerry-centric vantage. Back to a P note: Around 7:50 JG playing beautifully, laying down some complete chords for Melvin to run around. Jerry teardrop run 8:20ff gets a yell from the audience, nearly one from me. They almost lose each other over 9, but Kemper lays out a nice tight net and they come back together. Jerry is singing with real heart this night.
! P: s2t02 Jerry started in the wrong key (I had been blaming John), but Jerry switches and then it's all good. He takes two instrumental turns to reall set the groove he wants with this song. Around 4:45 there's some PA funkiness, Jerry turned himself up, but there was some popping and electronic zing. I wonder if this is where the guy came on stage? Crowd is hootin' and hollerin', but the drums never stop. Garcia's pouring out molten electricity, shredding all through the 5 minute mark, turning up again 5:48, now it's really loud. Definitely some PA funkiness here as well, though. It's all good. The crowd feels it, and this is top shelf JGB listening. Hear the note 6:24. Drop it right back to the song 6:40ish. The arrangement is a little squirrely 7:35ish, they'll tigthen that up - this is only 6th time played.
! song: "Get out Of My Life, Woman" (s2t02): (Allan | deaddisc | TJS): Listen, not everyone loves Jerry Garcia, and fewer love the Jerry Garcia Band. Since it's less exploratory than the Grateful Dead, it loses everyone who needs the collective improvisation at work in that band. That's fine. But let's recognize the American musical vein Garcia is tapping here, with legit Bay Area R&B, soul, black church musicians. JGB introduced it on 7/28/84 at the Keystone Palo Alto, prepped it one more time locally, and then took it on the road, playing all but one night on the August 7-18, 1984 tour. The introduction of this song provides a useful counterpoint to the "Rock Bottom" narrative. I maintain pretty consistently that fresh material is a pretty unalloyed good, at least as a proxy. Variance in the repertoire means he's at least thinking about things. And when he picks a number as cool as this, with his Bay Area players flavoring the really tight mix, It Is Good, and true to his self conception as a local kid running around multihued San Francisco, a Mission Street R&B guy. Nice. The song's ebb and flow in the repertoire is generally interesting. Some tunes come in and never leave. Some tunes come in and leave right away. Some tunes he played mainly with one group of players, and others he kept picking up through the many iterations of the JGB or many different periods. This one was ebbed and flowed a bunch, with lots of six month or even year long gaps between performances. That's not that common in the JGB repertoire.
! P: s2t03 LARLH giving it his all, "the pain is too much / for you to bear / turn around / turn around / turn around / and I'll be there / like a road leading home". Nice. Long vocal extensions 1:27, nice guitar counterpoint 1:29. I am a little worried that they're moving too fast with it, but we'll see where it goes! Man, this first big guitar work late 3 is quite nice. Jerry is playing this very nicely, yet I don't find this version entirely satisfiying. The arrangement is not totally together, and Jerry doesn't stretch it out enough. He wants to get out of Dodge, mountin' good ol' Midnight Moonlight for the home stretch.
! P: s2t04 MM over 4 Jerry's truncating his chords, which he didn't always do on this number. Melvin leads a turn 4 min mark while Jerry chords.
! s2t04 (2) JG: "Thanks a lot, we'll see you later."

10 comments:

  1. Nice write-up -- I like these Aug 84 shows a lot, too. I never knew Caldwell was a Catholic girls college... wonder who booked this tour? they played an amusement park and a roller disco the same week! Sounds like a Spinal Tap kind of a week for ol' Jer.

    ReplyDelete
  2. oh, and fwiw, I hear the same problem with Melvin during MITR on the Reutelhuber (21718) recording. Jerry's way higher in the mix, but it still doesn't sound like Melvin's really going for it, though, just kind of filling space. I would've assumed it was some kind of technical difficulty or distraction, but I dunno...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Too bad there aren't people as obsessed with Melvin as we are with Jerry. And Kemper freaks. They could help us map variation on those guys' performances. Alas, I think it's not to be.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Pretty weird to see my Relix review quoted, after all these years. Thanks for digging it up! A few things:
    *It was a good-sized crowd, though 10K does seem like an over-estimate on my part.
    *My guess is that John Scher booked the show. The (reunited) Band and Bonnie Raitt (same bill) also played there that summer.
    *The stage crasher kicked over part of the drum kit, though Kemper kept going with what he had and Garcia didn't seem to miss a beat. The band took a break for the drum kit to be put back together but they never left the stage until the show's end.
    *It was a hot August night, filthy New Jerzee air and a lot of drunk/angry folks in the crowd. And they left angry due to the abbreviated second set and no encore. The JGB bus practically flew out of the place.
    *I'd been out of the country and hadn't see Garcia for several years. I was really alarmed by his appearance--he'd put on a lot of weight and didn't look well at all.
    *I got off the GD bus in the early '80s, but continued to catch Garcia whenever I could, right up into the early '90s. His genius, even when somewhat diminished due to poor health, never ceased to amaze.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for the comment, Bill. It's amazing how well he plays on these nights when he's in many ways feeling poorly.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I don't remember that this show ended "early". FWIW there was also Woodstock tribute concert held at Caldwell a week later, no more shows there after that.
    For years my friends and I considered Caldwell to be one of the best shows we ever saw - Rhapsody in Red was insane.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Yeah the comments are right on. This was a great show and a great follow up to seeing the SPAC GD show on 6/24/84. Came from Long Island with a carload of friends in old Cutlass. Partied the whole ride and got there to tailgate and had a blast. There was a tall fence that was obviously put up for the concert series that summer. Probably was fine for the other acts, but for Jerry the gate crashers were trying to climb over. They were climbing all over the full span that surrounded the venue and the security guards (in those classic yellow security guards jackets they always seemed to wear in NJ) were over zealously running back and forth trying to remove multiple people simaltaeously attempting to scale the fence. The problem for the gate crashers was that when the climbed high on the fence, near the top and out of the reach of the big (think football players) aggressive security guards reach, the fence would bend backwards and the crashers would be in reach. The guards did their job and yanked them down. As I remember it, it was pretty crazy (not late 1990's GD crazy..but it for a JGB Band show in '84 pretty crazy). Whoever managed to get over the fence did not have far to go because it was a small venue, some made it through, must were ushered out. All that work for naught? Anyway, Jerry was fabulous and I remember being really happy they opened with Cats because the guy who drove was not a huge Jerry fan. He was cranky cause he had to stay more sober than the rest and all he wanted to hear was Cats. When they opened with it, I was like "yes" our driver is a happy camper, which is always a good thing! Rahposy in Red was unbelievable, as was Dear P and MITR. Second set was cut short by the guy who crashed through the drum set, but Jerry often did not do an encore in that era. I remember it was a magical show, in fact my first JGB show, after seeing multiple GD shows since '81. I went to another amazing JGB show at Good Skates in East Setauket on 8/14/84. Another amazingly hot show (literally it was over 100 degrees in the old roller skating rink). At that show I had my elbows on stage right in front of Jerry's mic and could have reached out and tied his sneaker laces together...that close..amazing. Jerry came out late that night but when he hit the stage he opened with "How Sweet it is" and it felt like he was literally speaking to us in the front rows. In fact I was so moved that my wife and I chose that as our wedding song. Amazing summer for me, just graduated High School..miss those days.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Wonderful recollections, thank you, Anon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi JGMF..I found a pic of the JGB Band from Caldwell 8/11/84. How can I post it?

      Delete
  9. Send me email at jgmfblog@gmail.com a nd I will post. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete

!Thank you for joining the conversation!