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Thursday, June 05, 2014

We're Having a Reasonably Good Time Here (LN jg1989-01-28.jgb.all.sbd-goetz-retracked.28352.shn2flac)

Love this show. Two snaps up.

A few bullets.

First, I had a cryptic note-to-self in the 1/27/89 listening notes to elaborate on the "a year too late" thesis. In a nutshell, it's my argument that when JGB recorded itself in 1990 at the Warfield for what would become the eponymous 1991 double-live record (Arista 18690, August 1991), it did so after its peak, which I date from ca. 2/5/88-5/22/89. They got on a roll and started rolling tape, but what they got in the can wasn't the crème-de-la-crème.

Don't get me wrong, I love the release (and the 1997 followup, How Sweet It Is [Grateful Dead Records GDCD 4051, 1997], material from the same 1990 Warfield shows). Some of the tunes, such as "Waiting For A Miracle", were better for having matured a bit. Others, including the amazing take on Dylan's "Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power)", weren't in the repertoire yet. So it's not a disaster, by any means. I just happen to think that 1988-1989 JGB is much fresher, peppier, livelier and tighter than the 1990 vintage.

At some point, with more time, I'd elaborate. But not now.

Second, during "Waiting For A Miracle", someone appears to make her way up on stage. Garcia, who sounds healthy and happy and alive during this wonderful period, deftly rips the e-brake on the tune. As one of the ladies says, "He didn't miss a beat!" Garcia, grinning behind his beard, chats up the crowd:
Hey, if any more of you are gonna lose it, wait till between songs, OK? Y'know?
[JG laughs. Kemper splashes, one of the ladies says "Yeah Jerry!"]
Thanks. We'd appreciate that.
[Everyone onstage is cracking up. "Yeah Jerry!" The ladies are retelling the story to each other.]
We're having a reasonably good time here, you know what I mean?
Garcia sounds amazing, relaxed and happy. Listen to the ladies talking and laughing here - awesome. We know that Garcia very rarely addressed the crowd in any direct way in the later years, really not much after 1970 or so. During his Rock Bottom period, his mutterances would cover the set break and the show closing. But during this 1988-1989 period, a few times, he joked and laughed with the crowd. He's no freaking oracle, of course, and I don't want to be one of those "Jerry spoke!" guys. But we can't ignore the data that pertain to health and openness, any more than we can ignore the dogs that don't bark, when he couldn't get his chin off his chest. Engaging the audience this way is engaging humanity this way, and that was something that Garcia found exceptionally difficult to do as his fame (and isolation) grew. It's also an indicator of health: the sicker he was, the less he engaged, ceteris paribus.

Third, I noted in discussing 8/11/84 at the Caldwell College nunnery that Garcia played "Like A Road Leading Home" just after a stage-crashing incident. Well, on 1/28/89 he did it again. It's probably a coincidence. But there weren't that many stage crashers at JGB shows, I have just come across two such incidents, and both times Garcia serenades the tripper with this soothing Nix-Penn confection (Allan).

When the road gets too long
And you run all out of song
And the pain gets too much
For you to bear

Turn around, turn around
Turn around, and I'll be there
Like a road, like a road
Leading home

Fourth, this is just a great show from any period. I really, really like the "Don't Let Go" this night, much stronger than the night before (as is "Let's Spend The Night Together", though that one is still too tame for my taste, compared to the Nicky Hopkins-era versions). But every song positively crackles. See my notes below. But don't take my word for it. About ten years ago, Rob Goetz posted (somewhere, I can't recall) reviews of many 1989 Garcia Band shows. Here's how he summarizes this one, based on the second set alone.

I am truly impressed. ... On this particular night Jerry’s jamming was profound. Each song from this second set is exceptional and shows that Jerry’s abilities were not in question. For many years I was of the opinion that Garcia just couldn’t cook in the late 80s through the 90s. On this particular night, 1/28/1989, Jerry provided all the evidence I need to throw that opinion straight out the window. On 1/28/1989 Jerry delivered one of his finest performances ever. I can’t wait to hear the first set – whenever it is released. ... Bravo to Jerry for this truly special performance.
Oh yeah, one more thing (so, fifth): Goetz also notes how sloppy the GD were in February 1989, saying that whatever was bugging Garcia at the Kaiser, for example, didn't seem to be bugging him a week prior. Big contrast, from this loose and inspired playing to pure shambolism in the span of seven days.

Listening notes below the fold.

Jerry Garcia Band
Orpheum Theatre
1192 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

January 28, 1989 (Saturday)
Goetz sbd shnid-28352 retrack/shn2flac

--set I (6 tracks, 57:12)--
s1t01. //I'll Take A Melody [#9:50] [0:11] % [0:06]
s1t02. They Love Each Other [6:20] [0:55]
s1t03. Mission In The Rain [8:55]
s1t04. Simple Twist Of Fate [11:30] [0:38]
s1t05. That's What Love Will Make You Do [7:50] [0:06] %
s1t06. Night They Drove Old Dixie Down [9:18] (1) [0:15]

--set II (8 tracks, 58:01)--
s2t01. crowd [0:05]
s2t02. Let's Spend The Night Together [7:57] [0:37]
s2t03. Waiting For A Miracle (2) [4:35]
s2t04. "We're having a reasonably good time here" (3) [1:34]
s2t05. Like A Road Leading Home [8:08] [0:15] % [0:04]
s2t06. Don't Let Go [18:23] [0:19]
s2t07. (4) I Hope It Won't Be This Way Always [5:07] [0:19]
s2t08. Tangled Up In Blue [10:27] (5) [0:13] %

! 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:
! JGC:
! db: (Sacks s2 sbd shnf); (Goetz sbd shnf, this fileset).
! venue:
! map:
! band: JGB #21b, THE Jerry Garcia Band (
! seeder notes: "A special thanks to Rick Martin for providing the audio discs. Transfer from wav to shn by Robert Goetz,, 23 February 2005."
! shnid-28352, retrack and shn2flac by JGMF, 2/23/2005.
! P: 2005 note: a wonderful, wonderful show.  Jerry is in great form.
! R: s1t01 first note of I'll Take A Melody is clipped.
! P: s1t01 ITAM some vocal fumbling, as with the night before. Extra oomph "tell you what I'm gonna do", a little growl. Jerry sounds great.
! P: s1t02 TLEO listen to what John is doing in the first 15 seconds - yeah! Jerry's guitar work 4:45 and around there is outstanding. He doesn't scalp you with volume the way he did five years earlier, playing much fuller and rounder notes post-coma as he would for the rest of his life - often round to a fault, for my taste. This is just good guitar playing.
! P: s1t04 JG doing his best articulate Dylan. Really hitting his consonants. Nice. The organ sounds nice behind this over this first little run around, go around a second time over 2:30, really just a nice groove. Nothing wrong with the pacing or ideas or the execution. He screws the pooch on the second verse and he is lost and he's frustrated. Comes back strong to "woke up the room was bare". He didn't let himself get flustered with the vocal flub, and he's still singing unhurriedly, but nicely. Heads down to the waterfront docks, where the sailors all come in. Songs-S gotta tie this back to his childhood. John lead 6ish-8ish. I am not hearing a lot of guitar, much more focus on the vocals, a little flat 9. I am hard to please!
! P: s1t06 TWLWMYD is not great
! s1t06 (1) JG: "We'll be back in a few minutes."
! P: s2t02 LSTNT second night back, some vocal flubs in the verses, but the guitar work in the 6-minute range is pretty molten and the arrangements are fundamentally sound.
! P: s2t03 WFAM had the first vocals together, then a little shakier coming out of the first instrumental break.
! s2t03 (2) One could hear something in the background, and Jerry pulls the e-brake on this song, quite deftly, around 4 minutes. Right after tune, one of the ladies says "He didn't miss a beat," and the other agrees, "No, he didn't." Then they say it to Jerry. The band is talking and laughing and having a great time, by the sound of things. 2005 note of same segment: You can hear voices behind them, or something, and then late 3 Jerry decides they are going to bail out, so he pulls the rip chord. Very short version.
! s2t04 (3) JG: "Hey, if any more of you are gonna lose it, wait between songs, OK? Y'know?" [laughs. Drummer gives him a splash, one of the ladies says "Yeah Jerry!"] "Thanks. We'd appreciate that." Everyone onstage is cracking up. "Yeah Jerry!" [ladies are retelling the story to each other] "We're having a reasonably good time here, you know what I mean?" Garcia sounds amazing, relaxed and happy. Listen to the ladies talking and laughing here - awesome.
! P: s2t05 LARLH is a serenade to a tripper -  see also the nunnery show, 8/11/84. Nice big guitar work 4 minute mark, piercing. Kemper is holding down the fort. I do wish Gar's guitar were higher in the mix!
! P: s2t06 DLG Kemper really gets us off to an auspicious start. Garcia is articulating his vox. Things aren't quite as spry as 2/6/88, but this is popping out of the gate. Vocals much more together this night than the previous night. How often did they do DLG two nights in a row? This is a rarity, a sign of real engagement and ambition. DLG might usually come up once in a weekend. It's the only "jam vehicle" in the repertoire. 3-min mark JG jumps the gun on the "someday baby I'll get you yet" verse, but the band catches him. Kemper. 4 min he starts stretching the vocals out 4:34, he gets the guitar down into his vocal register, letting the guitar ride it out and vocalizing through late 4, then brings guitar behind it. Now some repeating stuff 5:35ff, Melvin coupling him, with a nod of his head 5:54, he signals that he's heading out, and out he goes. Melvin steps up with some big stuff 9:20ish, and I think Garcia exclaims twice to Melvin: "Yeah! Good!", and then plays behind him, fanning some big stuff while Melvin paints big giant swirly colors. Kemper hitting hard early 10 tells Jerry he can melt down a little, which he's game for, and so we get into the deconstruction, some perfectly respectable dissonance. The leader signals he wants to do some progressions and he needs some space 11:30 ish, and they give it to him. John suggests a walk but Garcia's still contemplating, with some nice fragmentary thoughts, a nice little groove 12:15, Kemper joins him in a swing, and this is some great stuff! Ladies can occasionally be heard exclaiming. Jerry nice run up the frets late 12, Melvin big right over the minute mark, Kemper still swinging. This is really nice. Garcia starts to dissolve it again 13:ish, very long descending runs which Melvin is accenting nicely. This sounds like the Dead's "Bird Song" in places. They enter a clearing 14:35 ish and it's really nice. Jerry is playing a familiar riff 14:45, check it out. I can't quite place it. Jerry bends over to the DLG key first half of 15, I can hear how they'll be able to ride this home, but they've all got more to say. All of the instruments are locked in, Kemper and Seals especially impressing me, Jerry hitting some big chords first half 16, still very expressive through 16, drops it to the '1' at 16:55. Sweet. That was almost exactly 11 minutes of outstanding improvisation. It ain't the Grateful Dead, but it isn't meant to be. It's really, really good music, IMO, YMMV, etc.
! s2t07 (4) I think I hear one of the ladies say "key of C".
! P: s2t07 IHIWBTWA JG really wanted to go right into TUIB, but he held it up for someone.
! s2t08 (5) JG: "Thanks a lot. See ya later."


  1. I don't disagree with your interpretation of the placement of Like a Road here (or on 8/11/84 either), but I wonder how much of it also had to do with a time-honored JGB technique, what I've always thought of as "when the going gets tough, the tough slow down." I can't back this up with any hard evidence right now, but I've always had the impression that when things weren't really clicking or something was amiss, Jerry would ease back, break out a slow tune, get everyone back on the same page, and "remake the bed" as it were.

    But I do love the idea of Jerry playing Like a Road to sooth a lysergically troubled soul who had just crossed the line into his own space. It certainly jives with that amazing onstage monent when he talks to the "do you give banjo lessons?" girl who interrupts him during Space on GD 10/17/78 (another example of him following an encounter with an overzealous fan with a ballad -- If I had the World to Give).

    Great write-up as always. I've never heard this one, but that's going to change as soon as possible.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Nick. I agree with the slowing down thing. I am not a huge ballad guy, but Jerry really was, quite consistently throughout his life. Who doesn't need to slow down some times?

      Can you give me a timestamp for the segment of Space, the banjo lessons piece? I have heard about it many times over the years, but never actually listened to it.

      Yeah, check out 1/28/89 - good stuff.

    2. Here we go, about 4:10 of t17:

      Woman says something about wanting to take banjo lessons. Garcia keeps playing while telling her that he doesn't teach anymore. He doesn't miss a beat here, either.


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