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Saturday, March 12, 2016

Friday Night at the Boarding House

edit: well, this is a first - turns out I had already posted a version of this. Heh heh. Presumably, this one is better.


April 13-16, 1973 saw Garcia "Four Nights at the Boarding House", two with Merl Saunders and The Group (JGMS), two with Old And In The Way (OAITW). So much about these shows tantalizes me – the legendary San Francisco venue, the only-in-the-Garciaverse blend of black and white, old and new, my love for the repertoires and performances of both bands, and the fact that of the four nights, and presumably at least nine sets/shows,[1] only one set circulates, the first set of the OAITW late show on Monday the 16th (see shnid-100404 for the best copy, and my listening notes). We know a little about the other three nights from Rob Eaton: Friday the 13th and Saturday the 14th were represented among the Third Batch Betty Boards that he transcribed in 1996, and somewhere along the way (possibly also the Third Batch) he transcribed one of the Sunday night (4/15) bluegrass sets.

In this post I want to say just a bit more about Friday the 13th, mostly triggered by a show review I found in the Stanford Daily.[2] I'll start with what we already knew, and then turn to what the review adds.

Metadata

The Soto-McNally-Arnold JG List, Garciaverse successor to the Soto List, had a listing for this show, which may have come from union contracts and/or the newspaper and other research of any of the named authors. I show a Barb "Scenedrome" listing(April 13-19, 1973, p. 18) and one in the Hayward Daily Review (April 6, 1973, p. 53) with scheduled 8 pm start.

Setlist

Rob Eaton contributed setlist details for the end of the show, updated by TJS staff:

--end set II--
Money Honey
Positively 4th Street
untitled 19730307
Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

Tape Archaeology

These details came from a sound recording, and I'd like to dig into a bit of tape archaeology.

When Betty Cantor-Jackson and Rex Jackson got together in 1972, they mixed and mingled their lives and their tape collections. The legendary Betty Boards could be more accurately, if less fetchingly, understood as the Cantor-Jackson Collection, the tapes they merged and then made (together and apart) during Rex's foreshortened life (d. September 5, 1976) and beyond it, Betty flying where it's wing-meltingly-hot to make some of the finest sound recordings in the long history of live music.

This gorgeous personal collection of professionaly-curated tape got washed away along with everything else in her life over a number of years, by the early '82 floods and by a spate of equally natural human disasters, muck that doesn't come off with a Q-Tip. The tape went from a box in Betty's San Anselmo basement to the world of storage units (somewhere in the world exist documents that could help us pin down details, I just haven't managed to uncover them yet), lost from memory until it wound up auctioned-off with a thousand or more of its companion Betty Boards around May 1986.[3]

For over nine years, this tape hid in a goat barn until, in late 1995, its possessor called Rob Eaton to investigate and, eventually, preserve it. Armed with wood-stemmed cotton swabs and rubbing alcohol, an oven to bake flaky oxide to a vinyl backing, sweating over an Otari 50/50 reel to reel->Apogee 500 A/D converter-> Panasonic SV3700 DAT setup, Eaton spent 700 of his 1996 hours annotating, cleaning, repairing, spinning, and presumably soaking in and enjoying some of the sweetest sounds ever captured live – a Third Batch of Betty Boards, including the last 40 minutes of the Garcia-Saunders group at the Boarding House on Friday, April 13, 1973.[4]

Now I will get even more arcane about this particular artifact.

Eaton's "Kingbee" List gave the following:

04/13/73 The Boarding House, San Francisco Ca - xcerpt
4.8, 039min, Sbd, A0D1, Reel Master->Dat 1, 44k,
10inch Master Reel@7.5ips 1/2trk->3700 x 0->3800 x 1

Though he's almost never mistaken, I thought Kingbee had tripped up on this one. I thought this must be reel #3 of a show recorded on 7" tape. I was wrong, KB was right as usual. Not that anyone cares, but let me run through my reasoning.

It has generally been my sense that Betty usually taped Garcia on 7" reels running at 7.5 ips or 10" reels running at 15 ips (about 48 minutes). Sometimes tape diameter and recording speed would cross to the other diagonal, but not that much. What we have here is a 10" reel running at 7.5 ips (96 minutes), just such an off-diagonal tape. And, I have finally come around to the idea that this could indeed be the last 40 minutes of a contemporary JGMS gig, on these parameters – this looks a lot like the 49 minute end-of-show tape that lived with 4/13/73, March 7, 1973. I also note that Lion's Share 7/5/73 gives 10-7.5 parameters, though that one is a 180 minute monster. So maybe this is how she was doing it at this time.

Show Review

Happily, recent gatherings give me a bit more to report. The Stanford Daily has been beautifully preserved and presented at http://stanforddailyarchive.com/. Thanks to all involved in making that happen. Among many other delights, it yielded a review by Jay Harlow of this Friday the 13th at the Boarding House. 

Garcia and Saunders "returned for a two-night stay" (following a three night run in January[5]), "joined by guitarist George Pichner [sic: George Tickner], ... an important enough part of the group to deserve equal billing." They were late in starting: "At 9:30 we got word that the band was still waiting for the bass player. Five minutes later he was outside looking for a parking space, and eventually came walking in through the audience, being occasionally booed and heckled." The show eventually kicked off just before ten with "That's A Touch I Like". Garcia's guitar plays like a good, dry white wine (it was already Palo Alto, after all).

A friend named Sarah helped with the vocals on some numbers, and particularly shone on "Honey Chile". Her voice ... blends very nicely with Garcia's guitar. .. In the middle of the set there was a long, beautiful instrumental number in which everyone had some solo space. ... Pichner [sic], who had been playing mostly rhythm guitar so far, did some good leads, à la Eric Clapton at times. His somewhat harsher tone sets off Garcia and Saunders very well.

Harlow namechecks Bill Vitt for us, and has high praise for the Mule: "bassist John Kahn was certainly worth waiting for. Both in backup and solo playing, he is a real stylist. At times the flair in his left-hand fingerings reminded me of a classical guitarist." He gives us a few more setlist details ("That's All Right", "Lonely Avenue" and "I Second That Emotion"), and it sounds like a good time, "first rate musicians really working together".

Beautiful.

Unfortunately, Harlow doesn't say anything about the electric violin player reported present at JGC (via TJS). I wonder if George Tickner did any fiddling?

In Sum

Armed with this new information, let me sum up in the form of a draft TJS-successor entry.

Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders
April 13, 1973 (Friday) - 10 PM

--unknown set and order status--
That's A Touch I Like
That's All Right
Lonely Avenue
I Second That Emotion
Honey Chile

--end set II--
Money Honey
Positively 4th Street
untitled 19730307
Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

! ACT1: Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders
! lineup: Jerry Garcia - el-g, vocals;
! lineup: Merl Saunders - keyboards;
! lineup: John Kahn - el-bass;
! lineup: George Tickner - el-g;
! lineup: Bill Vitt - drums;
! lineup: Sarah Fulcher - vocals.
! ?guest?: ?? – electric violin.

JGMF:
! JGC: http://jerrygarcia.com/show/1973-04-13-boarding-house-san-francisco-ca/, noting "An unknown electric violinist sit in on this performance".
! db: none in circulation as of 8/11/2015.
! personnel: Harlow (1973) namechecks the whole band (though, as a few weeks earlier at the Inn of the Beginning, Sarah is just Sarah). The author identifies "George Pichner", but it's George Tickner on second guitar.
! setlist: The show was scheduled for 8, but started closer to 10 (John Kahn was late arriving). The set structure is uncertain beyond that That's A Touch opens the proceedings Dixie closes them down. I hypothesize that one of the sets was truncated due to the late start. For example, the songs from RE's reel transcription, Money Honey through Dixie Down, could be the entirety of set II. The rest of the songs derive from a review in the Stanford Daily (Harlow 1973), and I place them in set I, though that's not certain.
! listing: "Scenedrome," Berkeley Barb, April 13-19, 1973, p. 18;
! listing: Hayward Daily Review, April 6, 1973, p. 53;
! review: [positive] Harlow, Jay. 1973. Garcia, Saunders 'Together' At Boarding House Theater In SF. Stanford Daily, April 17, p. 7. Accessed via http://stanforddailyarchive.com/, 7/2/2015;
! song: " untitled 19730307" is the beautiful unnamed thing Jerry and Sarah did together on the March 7, 1973 tape.


[1] Normally, I'd say eight sets/shows, two sets per night for JGMS and two shows per night for OAITW. But the circulating tape of 4/16/73b suggests that that show contained two sets, bringing our presumed set total to at least nine, and possibly as many as sixteen sets (2 for each JGMS date and 4 for each OAITW date).
[2] Harlow 1973.
[4] See Eaton 2015 for more detail.
[5] See my write-ups for 1/24/73 (http://jgmf.blogspot.com/2012/07/ln-jg1973-01-24jgmsearly-latesbd.html) and 1/25/73 (http://jgmf.blogspot.com/2012/07/ln-jg1973-01-25jgmsearly.html). Betty taped and Eaton transcribed 1/23, but it has never seen the wider light of day.

2 comments:

  1. This is great. Doesn't Richard Greene seem like the most likely electric violin player? Was Greene playing the OAITW dates at Boarding House?

    Also, I would add that The Boarding House was very casual about the early/late show thing. Bands always played two sets. If the shows were sold out, they would turn the house over. However, if it wasn't sold out, they let everyone stay, so they could buy more beer. If I recall (from the late 70s), if you stayed for the second set, they made you get up and move to the back so the new arrivals could get the upfront seats. I don't know how seriously that was enforced. The comical thing now is that the Boarding House was tiny, capacity 360, and a cramped one. College professors at state universities regularly teach classes (for far fewer than 360) in rooms larger than the Boarding House. The worst seat in the Boarding House was awesome.

    From the point of view of the musicians, they just played two sets, and it was a manager issue whether there were two admissions, if that. They just took their cash at the night's end.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is great. Doesn't Richard Greene seem like the most likely electric violin player? Was Greene playing the OAITW dates at Boarding House?

    Also, I would add that The Boarding House was very casual about the early/late show thing. Bands always played two sets. If the shows were sold out, they would turn the house over. However, if it wasn't sold out, they let everyone stay, so they could buy more beer. If I recall (from the late 70s), if you stayed for the second set, they made you get up and move to the back so the new arrivals could get the upfront seats. I don't know how seriously that was enforced. The comical thing now is that the Boarding House was tiny, capacity 360, and a cramped one. College professors at state universities regularly teach classes (for far fewer than 360) in rooms larger than the Boarding House. The worst seat in the Boarding House was awesome.

    From the point of view of the musicians, they just played two sets, and it was a manager issue whether there were two admissions, if that. They just took their cash at the night's end.

    ReplyDelete

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