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Sunday, January 04, 2015

Jerry Band at the Pismo Theatre

On Friday-Saturday, November 19-20, 1976, the Jerry Garcia Band played four improbable gigs at the stunning Pismo Theatre in foggy, salty, sandy, lovely little Pismo Beach, California. If you only know it from Bugs Bunny, I urge you to pass through it some time (though I have not done so in more than twenty years). It is the quintessence of that part of the California coastline.

Commenter nick had listened to 11/20/76 not too long ago and mentioned it, also noting a guest rhythm player in "Don't Let Go".  I confess that I listened without recalling the putative guest shot, and I didn't even hear it! It was only in polishing my notes that I was reminded about it, and went back to check it out. It's very subtle, until about 5:18 when it comes forward a bit more. It's pretty basic chording on an electric guitar, nothing particularly distinctive, which is fine. (Though, once I alerted my ears to it, it became quite repetitive.) But it makes me wonder whether this guy (probabilistically speaking) isn't present in other parts of the set. Could be, and I just missed it.

Who is it? Well, this is the earliest known entry in the late-1976 to early-1977 second guitarist experiments. John Rich plays pedal steel at the December 21-23 Keystone Family shows. But there is a second guitarist also on 1/29/77, 1/30/77 and 4/9/77, and while I initially thought it was Mr. Rich, I have determined that it is someone else, and further that that someone else should also be associated with 2/5/77, 2/6/77 and 4/10/77. This might just constitute a hitherto-undocumented "Era" of the Jerry Garcia Band, the only one to feature two guitars (earlier two-guitarist situations, whether with Tom Fogerty, George Tickner, or mystery players (2/16/74, 7/12/74) all predated JGB, and in the latter case would be construed as guest shots rather than (ongoing) band membership.

If forced to wager, I'd say the guy here is the same guy playing in the first half of 1977, whose name I'll reveal once I get a chance to engage him directly. I don't like that this stretches his known timeline back a month --I'd feel better if this fell within the January-April window, for which there is good contemporary evidence-- but he's my best guess. Of course, it could have been any one of a dozen guys within driving distance of Pismo, and I just don't know.

Musically, meh. The shows are long and stretched out, clocking in well over an hour and a half each, and this show doesn't suffer from the turgid tempos of so many of any its 1976 brethren. It just doesn't move me.

I like the "After Midnight" in the early show. But "Don't Let Go", as it almost always is in any show in which it made an appearance, is the highlight, though this is far from the best version out there. Keith does some very interesting multiplets in the 12 minute mark, John Kahn takes a very uncommong-for-the-song lead piece on his electric bass, Jerry steps up a few minutes later with some really cosmic stuff, but too-briefly, Tutt drives with some amazing foundational and flourish work underneath him, and for awhile it's really great. But they end up just repeating "don't let go" an awful lot to the crowd, and ten minutes of real highlight isn't much in three hours of time. I have a well-known bias against 1976, but I think it's reasonably well-deserved. There's nothing wrong with this, it just doesn't light me up.

One last point: Jerry Speaks. More than that, he advocates (after TLEO in the late show): "I'd like to remind you all to come down here and see old Hoyt Axton, December 10th and 11th. He'll be down here doin' a benefit for Redwind, which is just a good scene, about forty miles from here, a lot of good people workin' real hard. Hope you can make that one." This is the only time since the 60s (it hadn't happened since, that I can recall, and would never happen again, that I can think of) that Garcia directly pitches a charity to the crowd. Jerry was mostly mute from stage by this time except for his setbreak announcement and parting word. But he was especially averse to advocating anything. What's going on here?

The RedWind Medicine Camp was a Native American community, chiefed by the last full-blooded Chumash, Semu Huaute, located in rugged San Luis Obispo County. In correspondence, Bob Sewana Saenz explains: "Jerry visited me in SLO after a show at the Pismo Beach Theater in late 1976. I drove him and a few band members to Semu Huaute's (Chumash) Red Wind Medicine Camp. I showed him a school project that we were in need of funds to develop for the many children there." I presume they went up on Saturday, and came back down in time for Jerry to play his shows. He must have been moved, because he speaks. Even more importantly, he puts his money where his mouth is, headlining a benefit for the RedWind Foundation at UCSB on February 5, 1977 - but I'll get to that later.

Detailed listening notes, references, etc. below the fold. There's a funny beach bum who keeps yelling "fried chicken!" for no apparent reason, and a little other color.

Jerry Garcia Band
Pismo Theatre
260 Pomeroy Avenue
Pismo Beach, CA 93449

November 20, 1976 (Saturday)
Powell-Ladner cass sbd shnid-22409 shn2flac

--early show (9 tracks, 103:09)--
a-t01. //I Second That Emotion [#11:11] [2:28]
a-t02. Stop That Train [13:53] [1:01]
a-t03. It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry [7:20] [0:22] % (1) [1:06]
a-t04. After // Midnight [13:#39] % [1:07]
a-t05. Friend Of The Devil [8:03] [0:35]
a-t06. Sitting In Limbo [11:30] [1:34]
a-t07. How Sweet It Is [9:08] [1:09]
a-t08. The Night They // Drove Old Dixie Down [8:#27] [0:09]
a-t09. Midnight Moonlight [10:12] (2) [0:04] %

--late show (7 tracks, 94:13)--
b-t01. [0:33] The Way You Do The Things You Do [7:56] [2:22]
b-t02. They Love Each Other [7:32] (3) [2:09]
b-t03. Knockin' On // Heaven's Door [16:45] [0:31] % [0:02]
b-t04. Mystery Train [10:57] [2:45]
b-t05. A Strange Man [6:31] %
b-t06. Don't Let Go [26:15] [0:34]
b-t07. How Sweet It Is [9:12] (4) [0:08]

! ACT1: Jerry Garcia Band #3
! lineup: Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals;
! lineup: Donna Godchaux - vocals;
! lineup: Keith Godchaux - piano;
! lineup: John Kahn - bass;
! lineup: Ron Tutt - drums;
! guest: ??? - rhythm guitar.

! 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.
! db: (this fileset)
! JGC: (early), (late)
! map:
! venue:
! band: JGB #3 ( ... or is it? See notes.
! ref: Comment by voodooswampthang: "I was at this show (and the night before). Good shows.  Craig Nutticone & Poot  (Peter Yelda) opened both." Comment by graphicjer: "As a member of the crew of Daylight Productions that brought The Jerry Garcia Band to Pismo Beach, it is with great joy and reminiscence that I listened to these songs. A cultural success but financial disaster, the first show was delayed hours while fog forced the plane to divert to Paso Robles Airport to land the members and their gear. Two shows x two days was a little ambitious, but think of it as our gift to the community. Please fully enjoy this moment in the sun for us and Pismo Beach".
! R: Source: MSC > C3  Nakamichi DR-2 playback > Tascam DA-30 Mk II DAT > Sony PCM-R500 > coaxial S/PIDF > M Audio Audiophile 2496/P4 2.0 GHz > WAV recording/editing (Soundforge 6.0) > tracking (CDWave editor)>sector boundaries confirmed (shntool) > SHN (mkwact). Cass > DAT by Jim Powell, DAT > SHN by Chris Ladner. "Another installment of the misSHN in the rain, 2/04." shn2flac and retrack by jgmf, 5/31/2014.
! R: seeder comments: "Scarcely circulated multianalog generation SBD recording.  It has hiss - you've been warned.  This is the raw transfer without any noise reduction. The setlist of this recording differs from that on TJS on the last 2 songs of the late show which lists "Tore Up Over You" and "Ride Mighty High" as the final two tracks.  The end of DLG is not cut on this recording as listed on thejerrysite, though there was a small drop out on the master which was seamlessly removed (see below). There is no audible break in the music between the end of Don't Let Go and How Sweet It Is.  Quiet on-stage banter can be heard at a low level from the end of DLG that continues on through the countoff into How Sweet It Is.  The version of "How Sweet It Is" is different than the one played during the early show and at the end Jerry says "Goodnight".
! P: early show: Overall, this feels like a strong performance early on. Keith is especially on his game here, to my ears. 5:05ff After Midnight is the next one I hear to pinpoint, but there have been many great Keith runs already this evening. I like the tempos, not draggy like they so often could be in 1976-1977. it loses interest for me after awhile, though, just never really sets me afire. Crowd got its money's worth : 1 hour 43 for the first show alone, easily twice ias long as he'd regularly do in the 80s.
! P: late show: Overall, it doesn't do very much for me. I like this material better than I like, say the super slow stuff of January and February. It doesn't drag quite as much as that. Indeed, it's even a little peppier than I have in mind as my baseline for the year. But it just doesn't light me up, what can I say?
! R: a-t01 ISTE first few notes missing
! a-t03 (1) Pismo Beach weirdos are yelling stuff. One guys yells "Friiiied ... Chicken", real loud, and folks barely bat an eye. That's just par for the course. He yells it again a-t04 @ 14:28. What a weirdo.
! R: a-t04 After Midnight: d/o at 08:41 removed using SF6 with a small amount of music missing [jgmf sounds like splice @ 8:33 to me].
! a-t04 AM they lose ahold of each other a little around 7, but this has been a very spirited version with some nice contributions from everyone. 5:05 ff is a nice piece of piano work, but KG has been strong all night. (I wonder how much the aural profile shapes this - Keith is rather forward in the mix.) 10:45 Donna Jean is giving it some very strong extra vocalizations, inspiring Jerry to break off some long fluid runs late 10 over 11 and continuing. Tutt is beautiful.
! P: a-t05 FOTD starts off peppy, Jerry is working hard first 30 seconds to slow the tempo down, really wanting the band to hold its horses a little bit. I expect we'll hear more of him trying to slow things down as the song progresses. Note after song that crowd is yelling out for more upbeat numbers, "Let's get this joint jumpin'!", but that is not really the order of the day in the Garciaverse at this time.
! R: a-t08 @ 7:08 splice with truncation of "yankee laid him in his grave" and the rest of the verse.
! a-t09 (2) JG: "Thanks a lot. We'll see y'all later on."
! P: b-t02 TLEO ho-hum
! b-t02 (3) JG: "I'd like to remind you all to come down here and see old Hoyt Axton, December 10th and 11th. He'll be down here doin' a benefit for Redwind, which is just a good scene, about forty miles from here, a lot of good people workin' real hard. Hope you can make that one." See also note #4, where he says "thanks for helpin' us out here". RedWind Medicine Camp was a native American settlement in San Luis Obispo County, chiefed by the last full-blooded Chumash, Semu Huaute.
! R: b-t04 KOHD splice @ 10:16 with small subsecond bit of missing music.
! P: b-t03 KOHD as with Train to Cry in the early show (I think, could have been Dixie Down), Jerry working to slow the band down.
! P: b-t04 MT late in song Jerry is a little flat in his singing
! P: b-t06 DLG Keith doing some very interesting playing 12. 13:15ish John Kahn takes a lead turn, very uncommon. Around 16 Jerry re-enters, very spacy. Tutt does some very interesting hitting in the 16 minute piece, asserting himself in a kind of lead position, putting down a thick groove for Garcia to step into, onto, around and through, which he's doing 17ff.
! R: b-t06 DLG  - d/o @ 19:33 with a "BEEP" in the middle deleted with no apparent missing music.
There are a few tape pauses between tracks however the overall recording quality/level of hiss remains the same for the entire show, suggesting the entire recording is from a single source.  The pitch was flat and I increased by .02 semitones corresponding to a transposition ratio of 1.01162 using SF6.
! b-t07 (4) JG: Thanks a lot, we'll see y'all later on. Thanks for helpin' us out here."

! seealso: my "The John Rich Question: Reply to Corry"
! seealso: Arnold, Corry. 2010. December 21-22, 1976, Keystone Berkeley, Berkeley, CA: Jerry Garcia Band (Who Is John Rich?). Lost Live Dead, October 15, URL, consulted 1/4/2015.


  1. Did you ever determine who's playing steel guitar on 1/29/77, etc.?

  2. Yes! I still want to talk to the person before I publicize it.

    1. Thanks! Can't wait to see the name


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