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Saturday, August 01, 2015

Deep River Blues on the Festival Express

--> Early-on, riding the Festival Express: "A few people started to drift into the forward lounge. Leslie West and Felix Pappalardi pulled out guitars. West, toying with his tiny, ancient Les Paul Gibson as if it were a stalk of grass lazily picked out Delta bottleneck blues, and Mountain's drummer, Corky Laing, sang along: Let it rain, let it pour / And let it rain some more / Got those deep river blues. Jerry Garcia, Delaney [Bramlett] and Kenny Gradney, Delaney's bass player, joined in" (Dalton and Cott 1970, 31).

Because I like to build out the sociomusical nodes in the Side Trips Social Network, I thought I'd mention this. I don't know the precise date.

BTW, and related to the post I just made regarding GD setlists, Dalton and Cott report that there were free gigs at Coronation Park on both the first and second days in Toronto, i.e., both Saturday June 27 and Sunday June 28. They identify GD, NRPS, Ian and Sylvia, James and the Good Brothers and the People's Revolutionary Concert Band as playing those gigs, to 4,000 the first day and only 500 the second (p. 32).

Dalton, David, and Jonathan Cott. 1970. The Million Dollar Bash. Rolling Stone, September 3, pp. 30-34.


  1. At one point there was a soundcheck from the Fillmore East on the legal-but-not-quite-authorized Wolfgang's Vault site, I think from Nov 7 1970. I can't find it anymore. In the soundcheck, Garcia unmistakably begins "Deep River Blues," which has a memorable guitar figure. Unfortunately, the rest of the band know nothing about Doc Watson, and pick it up as a 12-bar Chicago blues, After a little bit, Garcia gives up and goes with that. So near and yet so far.

  2. maybe you mean 10-26-69 winterland ?


  3. Good catch! It is the opening of the 10/26/69 Winterland show - it goes a little differently, though:
    Weir starts out playing the 'Deep River Blues' guitar figure (the kind of lick he was learning from Jorma in the mid-'60s). But then he stops and starts a new, unidentified instrumental, which the rest of the Dead join on.

    This kind of thing happened at another show, too - on 11/8/70, per deadlists: "Following Friend Of The Devil Jerry plays the guitar intro of Mississippi John Hurt's version of Stack O Lee...after he breaks off Bobby says 'Sorry, that one hasn't passed the hotel room stage yet. We don't know all the words.'
    I think Weir joins briefly in that intro as well, before Garcia cuts it off. (Hard to hear exactly who's playing.)

  4. Kenny Gradney is interviewed for the film about the Canadian railway tour, "Festival Express." Gradney also appears in a couple of scenes in the tour footage. He looks like a high school kid, lol. Already got a gig with a touring band. Nice work, if you can get it...

    In one scene, Gradney is ranting about the leftier-than-thou "freedom is when you don't have to do nothin', or pay for nothin'" Canadian protestors who are accusing the Festival of being nothing more than a money grab. A quite instructive clip, for anyone who's never witnessed working people expressing honest outrage and scorn for fatuous faux-left college-kid posers.

  5. Some excellent film footage has surfaced (albeit silent) from the coronation park Toronto free gigs from the festival express tour in 1970. It starts around 15 minutes in.

  6. Wow, Carlos. indeed excellent footage. terrific shots of the band, individually and great crowd interactions.

    Thanks for the linkage.


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