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Sunday, December 28, 2014

OAITW at Homer's Warehouse - March 4, 1973

This started off, and can still function, as a post with the setlists for the 3/4/73 OAITW gigs at Homer's Warehouse. But now there are a few other fragmentary thoughts.

Jerry Garcia lived an idyll at Sans Souci (18 Avenida Farallone, Stinson Beach, CA, 94970, map). It was his most domestic period, living with MG and their daughters Sunshine Kesey and Garcias Annabelle (b. 2/2/70) and Trixie (b. 9/21/74). I have lots to say about Sans Souci, but not here/now. Idylls pool time up, and idyllic Sans Souci hearkened pretty deeply to the past, in some ways the counterbalance to the amazing professional growth Jerry was living with his side projects (the first big one of which, Garcia, had bought them the house) and, especially, the Dead.

Breaking out the old banjo, which he hadn't played in a sustained way since about 1963, is of course a throwback move, both in terms of Jerry's biography and, of course, in the tapestry of American music. With old and new musical friends David Grisman, Peter Rowan and often involving Chis Rowan and Lorin Rowan [a.k.a. "The Brothers"], OAITW formed a pretty pure roots project, a deep dig into rural white American musical canon, Garcia on 5-string banjo, an ancient African instrument which was one of so many to cross putative racial divides. The pull of the past is strong in OAITW.

But it also has a real fresh taste of ambition and hard work, even leaving aside stuff like starting a record company (which would happen on July 15, 1973). Just musically, picking up the banjo in ca. late 1972 and getting serious about it in 1973 is really grasping the nettle. Once before Garcia had walked away from banjo because it just demanded too much self-discipline, too much time to do right, an instrument which could only be attacked with a single-minded fury, rough on the dilettante. It posed a real challenge, he knew this, and he tackled it, again, practicing not only religiously at home, as Mountain Girl recounts, but bringing his banjo on tour with the Dead ("You know that banjos act funny at weird altitudes? Why, my banjo sounded just great in Salt Lake City" – Jerry ca. 3/13/73 [Tolces 1973]).

In Garcia's world, you know it's getting good when it goes public, from sitting on the edge of the bed to standing onstage, with an audience which may well be paying for the privilege. After a particularly tasty take of Grisman's "Old And In The Way" in a Stinson Beach living room, Garcia made these boys an offer they couldn't refuse. "Beautiful. We've got a full band. We can go down and take over Sweetwater. ... We'll just work up a few tunes and take it on down there. Kreutzmann owns the place."[1] The fly on the wall reports that this is the birth of the idea of taking the band out in public, gigging around. Playing Sweetwater is not getting paid, in all likelihood, maybe some beer and coffee. Playing the bar in Stinson Beach, maybe not any different. But when the curtain draws and things go public in the Garciaverse, Mr. Price Mechanism shows up soon enough, and these young go-getters tear out of the gates like bats out of hell, with six live gigs and a live radio broadcast in four days! They certainly didn't lack for energy.[2].
Table xxx. Old And In The Way but Fast Out Of The Gate.
The band's third night out found it the newly up-and-running and frequently rocking Homer's Warehouse in Palo Alto, at 79 Homer Avenue (map). This is a nicely burnished picture: Garcia hadn't played the banjo regularly in ten years, and he hadn't played Palo Alto regularly in a decade, either. Between times, there were a few visits to Stanford, with Jerry and Merl opening for Big Black at the Frost Amphitheatre on 10/3/71 (Grushkin 1971, JGMF), and the Dead playing Maples Pavilion on 2/9/73, but Garcia's last gig in a Palo Alto club had been a flurry of woodshedding arrangements at the Poppycock in late 1969. Before that was probably with the Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions and, as pre-Dead, falls beyond my scope. "This would be a homecoming of sorts for Jerry", Bernstein notes. "He'd not been around Palo Alto for a while, and we wanted him to feel comfortable. Perhaps he would return for more appearances if it felt right to him. We knew this was a great opportunity to make a splash. All fingers and toes were crossed" (Bernstein 2013, 114).

It sounds like Mr. Price and Ms. Vibe danced well together this night. Some color:

["Peruvian Marching Powder"] was making its way around the Purple Room-not copious amounts, just enough to keep things lively. The band all wanted coffee, no beer or anything stronger. Of course, there was always a joint going around. At the bar, we had sold more beer than anticipated and thought we'd run out of kegs because Lou, the driver, had not completely filled our order. I called the president of the Coors franchise, a nice Italian guy, and told him the driver cut me short on kegs. He apologized. He couldn't take a truck out of the yard, but he would leave his home, pick up six kegs with his Lincoln, and bring them over to us. Midway through the dynamite second show, he arrived with his son and brought all six kegs through the back door. He said the keg driver was cutting everyone short, just to make trouble in anticipation of a teamsters' strike in the Bay Area (Bernstein 2013, 116). 

Color is great, but we can also engage the subtleties of chiaroscuro,[3] maybe a sepiatone of a simple day-in-the-life of an ambitious, engaged, super-talented, successful thirtyish professional, Jerome John Garcia. He rolls up at 1 in the afternoon for two Sunday shows, smokes and picks some, plays protean video games for two hours while drinking black coffee, plays two sellout shows (three encore calls at the early show, "the audience went wild after the second" one), plays another hour of games and drives Pete Rowan and himself home (Bernstein 2013, 113-118). Not too bad, all told.[4]

Setlists follow.

Old And In The Way
Homer's Warehouse
79 Homer Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94301
March 4, 1973 (Sunday) – 3 PM and 9 PM
no known recording

--3 PM early show (main set + encores) (10 songs, max 90 minutes)--
--main set (7 songs, ca. 60-75 minutes)--
The Willow Garden
Going To The Races
Wild Horses
Soldier's Joy
Land Of The Navajo
Lonesome L.A. Cowboy
Blue Mule
--encores (3 songs, ca. 15 minutes)--
Panama Red
Till The End Of The World Rolls 'Round
White Dove
! setlist: The set and encore structure are not made explicit on AB's setlist, but he recalls "After an hour and a half, the band finished [a] third encore to thunderous applause", and lays out this list (see Bernstein 2013, 116-117).

--9 PM late show (12 songs)--
Going to the Races
Katie Hill
Till the End of the World Rolls 'Round
Panama Red
White Dove
Knockin' on Your Door
Fanny Hill
Land of the Navajo
Wild Horses
Blue Mule
Hard Hearted

! ACT1: Old And In The Way
! lineup: Jerry Garcia - banjo, vocals;
! lineup: David Grisman - mandolin, vocals;
! lineup: John Kahn - bass;
! lineup: Peter Rowan - guitar, vocals.

! JGC: none as of 12/28/2014.
! db: none as of 12/28/2014.
! metadata: solid as a rock, via Bernstein 2013, 113-118, ads in the Stanford Daily.

! ad: Stanford Daily, February 23, 1973, p. 6; bills"Bluegrass music with Old And In The Way featuring Jerry Garcia [name was larger, prominent] plus the Rowan Bros." This ad also had some other gigs, Nick Gravenites and whatnot.
! ad: Stanford Daily, February 27, 1973, p. 6; this one is just OAITW. "The New Homer's Warehouse ... presents Old And In The Way featuring Jerry Garcia formerly with The Warlocks, David Diadem formerly with Earth Opera, Peter Rowan, formerly lead guitar with Sea Train. Special guests The Rowan Brothers."
! ref: Arnold, Corry. 2013. February 1973, unnamed bar, Stinson Beach, CA: Old And In The Way. Lost Live Dead, June 6, URL, consulted 12/28/2014.
! ref: Bernstein, Andrew J. 2013. California Slim: The Music, the Magic, and the Madness. Xlibris LLC.
! ref: Grissim, John. 1973. Garcia Returns to Banjo: Splendor in the Bluegrass. Rolling Stone, April 26, 1973, p. 14.
! ref: Grushkin, Paul D. 1971. Garcia, Saunders Impressive at Frost. Stanford Daily, October 5, 1971, unknown page [JGMF].
! ref: McNally, Dennis. 2002. A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead. New York: Broadway Books.
! ref: Tolces, Todd. 1973. Jerry's Bluegrass Boys. Melody Maker 48 (April 28): 35. [JGMF reading notes].

[1] "Bluegrass at Grisman's" (sound recording).
[2] Note another pattern that we have often had occasion to observe: new band = off-the-beaten path, smaller, and/or off-night gigs. The Share in San Anselmo, Homer's in Palo Alto, and the Inn in Cotati certainly qualify.
[4] Morbidly, contrast with Pigpen, who is on his deathbed and would pass away on Thursday, March 8th (McNally 2002, 447).

1 comment:

  1. A fascinating ad in the Stanford Daily (February 27, 1973, p. 6) is entirely devoted to this show, billing "Old And In The Way featuring Jerry Garcia, formerly with The Warlocks, David Diadem, formerly with Earth Opera, Peter Rowan, formerly lead guitar with Sea Train. Special guests The Rowan Brothers." Early show started at 3 PM on this Sunday. I am surprised there weren't more straight gospel numbers played, per Bernstein's setlists.


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