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Sunday, June 15, 2014

I sing the blues, where has it led?

LN jg1983-05-31.jgb.all.aud-vita.76578.flac1644

On Tuesday, May 31, 1983, the Jerry Garcia Band lit up an SRO West 52nd Street institution, the venerable Roseland Ballroom, with one of the finest shows of the 1980s.  On any given night, Jerry Garcia could deliver the fucking goods, and this is the fucking goods. Everything crackles. I have titled the post with a line from the show opening "Rhapsody In Red", the big rocker from 1978's Cats Under The Stars that worked beautifully with Jerry's grungy, metallic, 1983 JGB sound. This one is a rip-snorter.

I notice Greg Errico's deep, thudding percussion this night and Melvin being a little tentative. I feel Garcia very much in an R&B space, shaking his sweaty mane and tearing the shit out of several solos. Very high energy show. See notes.

The John Scher Presents program for this night is nothing to write home about, aesthetically. But I'll post scans of the last two pages, with a few comments.

John Scher Presents program for JGB at Roseland Ballroom, 5/31/83-6/1/83, p. 3.

Standard little band bio, of course. But check out these details, some of which hadn't quite stuck in my brain.
MELVIN SEALS | Organ | Has quite an extensive background in Broadway productions having worked on four shows, including " Evolution Of The Blues". Other music talents he's worked with include Oscar Brown, Buddy Miles and Elvin Bishop, as well as Maria Muldaur and Chuck Berry. Melvin is a producer for a company out of Nashville and has produced such Gospel greats as the Hawkins Family. The Martin Luther King television special is one prestigious project he has participated in. Melvin has been with the Garcia band for three years now, and also directs the current female singers in the band.
I have to check this info against what I know. But I found the last line, about Melvin directing the female singers, to be very interesting. I had always assumed that Kahn dealt with arrangements, but this implies a more elaborate (and possibly alternative) set of arranging responsibilities.

JACKIE LA BRANCH | Backup Vocals | A recent addition to the band, she has been mainly singing gospel with the San Francisco Inspirational Choir, and has worked with Maria Muldaur on gospel tunes.
DEE DEE DICKERSON | Backup Vocals | Another recent addition, she has been working with some of the industry heavies for years. Her long list includes Herbie Hancock, Taj Mahal, Pharaoh Sanders, and Quicksilver Messenger Service.

Both these girls have been a welcome addition to the band and the audience's enjoyment is evident. The ladies are great!
I sure would like to know more about the ladies, and be in touch with them if at all possible. If you know them, please have them be in touch! I'd like to learn more.

Finally, a little piece of capitalism from the back cover:

John Scher Presents program for JGB at Roseland Ballroom, 5/31/83-6/1/83, p. 4 (back cover).

I am sure there had been lots of GD and JGB cross-promotions over the years, but for whatever reason this struck me. I love how, for lack of something else to draw attention to, the ad for the GD's Go To Heaven promotes it on the basis of including "Don't Ease Me In," perhaps the only time in history capitalism managed such a crass feat. The Run For The Roses selections don't look that appealing either, come to think of it. Oh well. Play on, Jerry.

Jerry Garcia Band
Roseland Ballroom
239 West 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019

May 31, 1983 (Tuesday)
Vita flac1644 shnid-76578

--set I (7 tracks, 50:32)--
s1t01. tuning [0:37]
s1t02. Rhapsody In Red [10:17] [0:04] %
s1t03. They Love Each Other
s1t04. That's What Love Will Make You Do ]10:03] % [0:04]
s1t05. Valerie [6:48] [0:04] ->
s1t06. How Sweet // It Is (To Be Loved By You)
s1t07. Run For The Roses [5:00] (1) [0:06]

--set II + encore (8 tracks, 68:33)--
-- set II (7 tracks, 60:44)--
s2t01. tuning [0:15]
s2t02. The Harder They Come [15:16] [0:03] % [0:12]
s2t03. Mission In The Rain [9:28] [0:03] % [0:06]
s2t04. Mississippi Moon 
s2t05. Tangled Up In Blue [12:15] [0:03] %
s2t06. /Gomorrah [5:49] ->
s2t07. Deal [8:25] (2) [0:03] % [0:02]
--encore (1 track, 7:49)--
s2t08. Midnight Moonlight [7:43] [0:06] %

! ACT1: Jerry Garcia Band #15b
! Lineup: Jerry Garcia - el-g, vocals;
! Lineup: John Kahn - el-bass;
! Lineup: Melvin Seals - keyboards (Hammond B-3 organ);
! Lineup: Greg Errico - drums;
! Lineup: Jacklyn LaBranch - vocals;
! Lineup: DeeDee Dickerson - vocals.


! 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.

! JGC:

! db: (unknown MAC shnf); (senn 441 shnf); (Cohen shnf); (Vita flac1644, this fileset).

! venue:

! band: JGB #15b (

! map:

! R: field recordist: Jim Vita

! R: field recording gear: 2x Sennheiser 421 > Sony D-5 (Maxell UDXLII)

! R: transfer and FLAC encoding by David Minches:

Master played back on Nakamichi Dragon > ART DI/O > Digital Audio Labs Card Deluxe soundcard > Cool Edit 2000 > flac encoding > FLAC.

! R: shnid-4416 note: 04/07/2007, jjoops-garcia: "The cassette flip at the start of Run for the Roses suggests that this could be from Vita's master, though of course it's possible that others besides Vita got caught flipping there. "

! historical: Diamorphine, 2014-04-23 00:35:35: "Saw both shows and still remember being blown away by the Don't Let Go [on 6/1]. The place was hot and packed with people and the music just rumbled inside of you. It's seeing shows like this, with the band just feet away from you, the whole place dancing, made the thought of JGB at MSG or the like totally impossible."

! P: s1t02 RIR hot hot hot late 5 acid molten playing, tearing the shit out of it over 6-minute mark. No warmup needed this night - he is fully frothed here. 6:35ish some interesting tone. Very fluid in 6:40 range, hot, tight, fast, sharp, lots of good adjectives for this, over 7. Pulling a little 7:11 ff, more pulling train whistle 7:17. Letting it breathe post 7:30. Man, so nice. On any given night, Jerry Garcia could deliver the fucking goods, and this is the fucking goods. 8:20 churning some chunkier stuff, 8:33, 8:38 pure metal strumming, chunky percussive but shorter pulls interspersed with those earlier longer phrases, 9:08, he's Chuck Berry, signalling back to the song. Seizes the '1' at 9:23 and sings. Wow. That is a masterpiece of a performance right out of the gate.

! P: s1t03 TLEO is not a song I love, but this version is really good.

! P: s1t04 TWLWMYD from 4:45 there is some exemplary playing, then he does some very well controlled pulls around 5:05 and 5:10 - check this out. More energy 5:30, another turn round the bases. 6:05 he steps back and comps, Melvin is a little slow to take the cue. He's playing 6:15ff, but not loud at all. Now 6:30 he does a big B3 swoop. Still super low in the mix, but that could be the tape. See also a similar reaction I have from, when, 8/11/84? Melvin coming in with about a 'C' grade feature. Now louder over 7. There you go, big fella, lean into it, groove to it, loosen up! (Then again, maybe he was tearing it up, but wasn't mixed loud!) 7:30ff Garcia steps up for some guitar playing, playing of the guitar. Hitting real hard over 8, tight and clean and fluid, an extra up 8:15, great tone, and yet another run 8:27ff! Really hot. Everything has something extra this night. Wow. Errico does a big run down 9:21 ish,  hits again 9:34, he's awesome. Gar gives it his best R&B head shake.
! P: s1t05 Valerie the shit Garcia is doing 4:30 is absolutely evil. He lands cleanly on "I ain't afraid of the cold cruel world outside" ... he sounds great. He's really got his R&B-guy-singing-about-his-baby working well this night.

! R: s1t06 HSII some kind of tape nastiness @ 4:10.

! P: s1t06 HSII even this rocks this night! He puts a filter on in the 4-minute range, a little more flavorful tone, and he's really hitting some great notes through the minute mark. Melvin steps up post 5 with his nice HSII solo that he did. Garcia only comes to lead 6:30, and he is awn fiyah. 6:58 more high register work, 7:16 nice pull. He is one with Motown, huge chords 7:30, really loud, loud major chording guitar playing to the "open my eyes at night" @ 7:44. This is a huge performance to this point. Huge. Man, Jerry loved NYC.

! P: s1t07 RFTR I love that he played this extra song. He could very well have called it after that incendiary HSII. But he is not settling on this night. So, tip o' the cap. His voice is starting to sound a little ragged, but his guitar playing is great and the band is very tight.

! R: s1t07 RFTR 0:02 - 0:07 patched (crossfade) from Mark Cohen's master; Nak 700s > Sony D-5.

! s1t07 (1) JG: "We're gonna take for a few minutes. We'll be back in a little while."

! P: s2t02 HTC classic JGB version of this song. Notes shoving each other aside 5:30, another set of scaling runs 6:05ff. Fingers are going a mile a minute. His voice sounds tired, I am worried about some of these tunes coming up.

! P: s2t03 MITR has pep. Good but brief fan @ 7:15

! P: s2t05 TUIB very hot. Garcia puts some big effects on late 7 over 8 and this is rockin'. More big effects 8:39, more a minute later. Very expressive, articulate, powerful guitar work. Still really extending his phrases a minute later, not phrases, sentences, or even mere paragraphs, but whole narratives, hits a great little note 11:07. Wow, this is absolutely rockin'. Errico is BANGING.

! R: s2t06 Gomorrah clips in

! P: s2t07 Deal is also hot. Listen to little run 5:28. Whole band is on, but Jerry is smokin' hot.

! s2t07 (2) JG: "Thank you. See ya later."

! P: s2t08 MM even Midnight Moonlight has it all this night. What a show.


  1. More color, from Emerson Boozer (Cornjulio21) on Monday, October 31, 2011 - 10:27 am: "I was at both Roseland gigs. Def single 2 set shows on Broadway. The downstairs "lounge" bathroom area was like an Opium Den Drug fest. Never seen anything like that before. Oh and it was about 100 degrees inside of there too."

  2. Some background on Roseland.

    Roseland Ballroom
    West 52nd Street
    New York, New York

    51st Street location
    Roseland was founded initially in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1917 by Louis Brecker with financing by Frank Yuengling of the D. G. Yuengling & Son beer family.
    In 1919, they moved the venue to 1658 Broadway at 51st Street in New York. It was a "whites only" dance club called the "home of refined dancing", famed for the big band groups that played there, starting with Sam Lanin and his Ipana Troubadours. Couples danced the jitterbug, Lindy Hop, and Charleston under the Roseland's famed star-studded ceiling.
    The Fletcher Henderson Band played at the Roseland throughout the 1920's and 1930's. Orchestras that played the venue included Vincent Lopez, Harry James, Louis Armstrong, Tommy Dorsey, and Glenn Miller. The appearance by Count Basie was a turning point in his career and a break though in the all-white atmosphere of the club. One of his songs was to be the "Roseland Shuffle".
    Brecker popularized marathon dancing until it was banned, staged female prizefights, yo-yo exhibitions, sneezing contests, and dozens of highly publicized jazz weddings with couples who met at the club.[2]
    As the club grew older, Brecker attempted to formalize the dancing more by having hostesses dance for 11¢ a dance or $1.50 a half-hour with tuxedoed bouncers (politely known as "housemen") keeping order. It was to work its way into stories by Ring Lardner, Sherwood Anderson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and John O'Hara.
    "The musicians' union in New York back then was in the same building as the Roseland Ballroom, where Latin music was often featured. During the day, union musicians would hang out in the ballroom. Latin musicians hung out on the right side, jazz musicians on the left."(7)

    Continued in next post.

  3. 52nd Street location
    The original New York Roseland was torn down in 1956 and it moved to its new venue on West 52nd, a building that Brecker earlier had converted from an ice-skating rink to a roller-skating rink. It had been built in 1922 at a cost of $800,000 by the Iceland ice-skating franchise. A thousand skaters showed up on opening night at the 80-by-200-foot rink on November 29, 1922. Iceland went bankrupt in 1932 and the rink opened as the Gay Blades Ice Rink. Brecker took it over in the 1950's and converted it to roller-skating.
    The Roseland Ballroom (also referred to as Roseland Dance City) was a multi-purpose hall, in a converted ice skating rink, with a colorful ballroom dancing pedigree, in New York City's theatre district, on West 52nd Street.
    The venue could accommodate 3,200 standing (with an additional 300 upstairs), 2,500 for a dance party, between 1,500 and 1,800 in theatre style, and 800-1,000 for a sit-down dinner.[1]
    Time magazine described the new Roseland's opening interior as a "purple-and-cerise tentlike décor that creates a definite harem effect."[2] Brecker attempted to maintain its ballroom dancing style, banning rock and roll and disco.
    In 1974 Brecker told The New York Times, "Cheek-to-cheek dancing, that's what this place is all about."
    Brecker sold the building in 1981. Under the new owners the Roseland began regularly scheduled "disco nights", which gave rise to a period when it was considered a dangerous venue and neighborhood menace.
    In July 1978, a 19 year old British exchange student was drugged and kidnapped from the ballroom by a group affiliated to the Red Army Faction. She was subsequently found in wasteland murdered 5 days later, and the killers never found.
    In 1984, a teenager was shot to death on the dance floor.[3]
    In 1990, after Utah tourist Brian Watkins was killed in the subway, four of the eight suspects (members of the FTS gang) were found partying at Roseland. As a result, Roseland discontinued the "disco nights".[4]
    Its low-rise three-story structure on top of the quarter-acre dance floor in the middle of midtown Manhattan has stirred concerns over its being torn down for redevelopment.
    The quirky venue has hosted everything, from a Hillary Clinton birthday party, to annual gay circuit parties, to movie premieres, to musical performances from all genres.
    The rear of the venue faces West 53rd Street and the Ed Sullivan Theater. It is seen virtually every time that comedian David Letterman has outside antics during taping of the Late Show with David Letterman beside his theater (prompting various attempts to paint the industrial-looking wall to make it look better on national television).
    In 1996, a new owner, Laurence Ginsberg, filed plans to tear down the venue and replace it with a 42-story, 459-unit apartment building. A spokesman for Ginsberg said the filing was to "beat a deadline for new, more stringent earthquake codes, which went into effect earlier" in 1996. The interior space has been subsequently renovated.[5]
    On March 8, 2011, at around 10:30 p.m., a 2-alarm fire in the mezzanine section was reported. The extent of the damage, and cause of the fire is not yet known. There was no event at the time of the fire's breakout.
    The building closed on April 7, 2014.

  4. Although outside the scope of this blog, I saw Bobby And The Midnites at Roseland Ballroom about two weeks after this, and they were great (if you like that sort of thing). Roseland was a terrific venue for a rock concert, so it's no surprise the Garcia Band played well there.

  5. I remember going to shows at Roseland in the 90's as a kid and I remember that big downstairs "lounge." There were bathrooms, but it was a big space and I don't think there was a bar down there (??). I remember wondering what exactly people were supposed to be doing down there besides drugs. It was definitely a little den of iniquity, so I can only imagine what a scene it must have been at a Jerry show a couple blocks from Times Sqaure in the early 80's.

    It's nice to see a little additional info about Melvin and the ladies, too. I always just kinda figured that Melvin brought the ladies over from the gospel scene and never thought about their past gigs, but it makes sense that they would have had some back-up singer experience. It's pretty cool that Dickerson sang on Pharoah Sanders' "You've Got to Have Freedom" (I love that song!). Here's a small page for her (as Donna Dickerson):


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