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Wednesday, January 03, 2018

The Hypothesis is Wrong - Long Live the Hypothesis!

update: I now have it on good authority that, indeed, the arrangements in the tour book are for the crew, while the band enjoyed a somewhat more upscale experience. So, the hypothesis is correct, I just don't have any parchment evidence for it.

update2: here is link to the whole tourbook as a pdf.

I spoke with Melvin some years ago for a half hour or so. He's a very sweet guy.

I came away with the impression that the late-era east coast Garcia Band tours were first-class affairs, staying in a nice Manhattan hotel and flying to and from shows one at a time from Teterboro. (NYT just had a good article on Teterboro, BTW.) It felt like quite a contrast from the bus-centered tour of late '83.

Well, a copy of the JGB's November 1993 tourbook came up on ebay, and while it was exorbitant, I justified the purchase by using a gift card for a chunk of it. (Our psychologies play all kinds of tricks to enable the consumption that makes markets tick.) I was especially interested in this because, rather ironically, I have had more access to 1970s era business materials than to materials from the 80s and 90s. Because one of my abiding interests in institutionalization, which, as any process, only takes over time, this is really problematic: I have the "before", but not so much on the "after". Beyond institutionalization, there's also the overall difference in Garcia's circumstances, lots more money sloshing around post-coma (post-In The Dark) than before, and I sort of assumed an aging and more affluent Garcia would have done exactly as Melvin gave me to believe - a little higher end hotel, a little higher end travel, etc.

So, when the tour book came, I opened it with alacrity, expecting to see mostly one Manhattan hotel, charters out of Teterboro, maybe even first class seats on the transcontinental pieces to start and end the tour.

Well, not so much. Though I haven't seen the '91 tour info, the '93 materials more or less falsify the hypothesis. My mind immediately went to the narrative I was planning - from straitened circumstances on the bus in '83 to the lap of luxury ten years later. I was crestfallen. For all of about a thirty seconds. And then my mind immediately spun a new narrative - that things hadn't changed that much, and wasn't that cool? That the Garcia Band remained a pretty simple, stripped down affair, even as the money got bigger and bigger. He wasn't playing boutique theaters and sweaty college gyms anywhere, but Madison Square Garden and various other five-figure-capacity sheds, but things were still pretty straightforward.

I can make that work, of course. It's interesting, too. But I was just struck by what anybody who knows a lick about human cognition knows, which is that we are storytellers, and we can pretty much always find a narrative to fit any set of facts.

Anyway, that was all I had to say about that.

Oh, no, actually, one more thing: maybe the tourbook is only, or mostly, crew info. update: yes, that is indeed the case. So the Marriots and Embassy Suites, and the sometimes several-hundred mile drives right after shows ended, were maybe only for the grunts. Maybe Jerry and the band did fly around. I'll have to ask around.


  1. Yes! I will scan and post. My scanner is down right now.

  2. fascinating. Thank you for sharing this with us! Interesting to see the scheduled 60/90 min set timings every night. I guess I knew that kind of thing had to be planned out in advance when you're playing arenas with local union crews, but still, it's a little strange to see on paper.

  3. BTW, does anyone have any idea who are "squints" and who are "squeaks"? Maybe lighting vs. sound?

    1. I think you have it right:

  4. Interesting also to see all the 70s promoters still promoting Jerry (Don Law, Jim Koplick (thought it was Koplik?). Metropolitan is of course Scher, providing tour support, with the others as locals. It gives you an idea of the institutional history of the Dead as a business. They were there at the beginning of the rock touring era, and they were just about the last band standing a few decades later.

    1. Somewhere, in some post, I mentioned that continuity, too. Small world. I can't find that post, but I am sure it's here somewhere.

  5. Jacklyn on the '91 fall tour: "I liked the way we did this tour, staying in New York and then flying to the shows every day .It's better than going from city to city, checking in and out of hotels and packing and repacking. You stay fresher. And in your off days you're in New York instead of some obscure place" (Golden Road 26 [1992], p. 28).


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