I am hoping to find dates for the 1973 Record Plant session work, with Jerry, that ended up on Wing And A Prayer. Email me if you have email for him, or point him here. TIA!
Saturday, January 30, 2021
Sunday, January 24, 2021
A lot of good material at the Bridge Benefit, 12/4/88 in the Oakland Coliseum Arena.
It's not like 15-20 minutes was very demanding, but Garcia sounds much more enthusiastic belting out the backing vocals here on "Wang Dang Doodle", and giving "Friend Of The Devil" a sprightly run-through, than he did on either of the two previous nights with JGB at the Orpheum (12/2, 12/3).
This is one of the very few documented Shared Stages between Garcia and "Mr. Forever Young", as Bob calls him, Neil Young, who drops some decent harp on WDD.
Jerry did many hundreds of interviews over the years. He had a lot of interesting things to say about a lot of topics. There are also lots of quotes and so forth that circulate without any proper metadata.
So, we, and by we I mean the community, need a Jerry Garcia interviews project. Collect 'em up in video, audio and text formats, and eventually get everything transcribed to text. Dates, as best as possible. Etc. Run a blog that gathers them up, a la LIA's Deadsources.
I don't have time to do it, myself, but I have plenty to contribute. Someone out there would be game for it. Maybe it's you! Step up to the big leagues of obsessiveness and tackle this project!
Saturday, January 23, 2021
The performances are delightful, and I don't have tons of comments at that level. They play a number of rarities which had been relatively recently released on Not For Kids Only (Acoustic Disc ACD 9, 1993), and I am a huge fan of that record, which was recently remastered and topped-up with some bonus tracks. The first two tunes on the record are "Jenny Jenkins" and "Freight Train", which I played a LOT for my kiddos and which are both burned into my DNA. JJ kicks off set II of the first night, while Freight Train, which had gotten a one-off breakout with JGB on 11/3/93, happens in set II of night two. Merle Travis's coal miner's lament "Dark As A Dungeon" was a real highlight for me - I recommend it via the video of 1/12/94. But, really, I have to say that I love every single song they played.
There is no banjo playing at these shows, and I think at least "Stealin'" and "Jenny Jenkins" are done as David and Jerry duets.
Set I the second night is quite short, about 36 minutes. Some number of those minutes come out of the great Garcia-Grisman composition "Grateful Dawg", which clocks in here at a mere three-and-a-half minutes. I don't have specific timing for earlier versions, but I want to say they might have gone 6 or 7 or more.
I do want to provide a little repertorial analysis to illustrate the range of (mostly) American musics from which Jerry and David drew, and to which they contributed in turn. Some data next.
I am wide open to suggestions about this set of classifications. In particular, I have in my mind a genre called country blues which I guess is black acoustic, but, again, I don't really know what I am talking about. I have only just come to understand what a standard is. The next table summarizes the shows by genre.
Monday, January 18, 2021
I need to post the relatively indifferent notes, as well: JGB, November 6, 1991 - Cap Centre, Landover
Thursday, January 14, 2021
|1930||"Georgia on My Mind"||Hoagy Carmichael||Stuart Gorrell|
|1944||"Long Ago (and Far Away)"||Jerome Kern||Ira Gershwin|
|1959||"My Favorite Things"||Richard Rodgers||Oscar Hammerstein II|
|1937||"My Funny Valentine"||Richard Rodgers||Lorenz Hart|
|1927||"Ol' Man River"||Jerome Kern||Oscar Hammerstein II|
|1936||"Pennies From Heaven"||Arthur Johnston||Johnny Burke|
|1953||"Satin Doll"||Duke Ellington||Johnny Mercer|
|1933||"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes"||Jerome Kern||Otto Harbach|
|1949||"Some Enchanted Evening"||Richard Rodgers||Oscar Hammerstein II|
|1928||"Stardust"||Hoagy Carmichael||Mitchell Parish|
|1934||"Summertime"||George Gershwin||DuBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin|
This happened without my noticing at the time (whenever it was in that accursed year, just passed, that shall not be named). But Acoustic Disc has remastered the Not For Kids Only (Acoustic Disc ACD 9, 1993), added four bonus tracks, and offered it up for download. I am spinning the high-def (24bit / 96 kHz) version now, and it sounds gobsmackingly great. (The original did, too - tip o' the cap to "Decibel" Dave Dennison.)
The unreleased tracks (alt. takes of Jenny Jenkins, Three Men Went A-Hunting, Teddy Bears’ Picnic, and There Ain’t No Bugs On Me) are Jerry-David duets. Alas, they are undated. I will try to see if AD will answer a query as to the dates. Let me say here that Grisman and Garcia are too important as American musicians, and this material is too important as American music, not to give it the jazz treatment, with full metadata. I have never understood why they hold things like the dates close to the vest.
Anyway, happy listening!
Tuesday, January 12, 2021
Friday, January 01, 2021
The Romanesque Church Design Was Based On The Roman Basilica: Discuss (JGB at the Knick in Albany, November 3, 1993)
I just marveled at the almost 90-minute second set offered up on 12/22/90, and got to wondering about post-coma others that might match or beat it in duration. I recalled some long sets on the 11/93 tour, recalled that I had unposted (because not very informative) notes on 11/3/93 (my 23rd birthday, though I was somewhere in the vicinity of Monterey, CA), and checked them out.
Indeed, 89+ for this set II. We are envisioning being able to analyze real data on set and show durations via Jerrybase at some point in the not-too-distant future.
The show is maybe below average for the tour overall, with a few guitar highlights that I mention in the notes below. The real interest lies in the impromptu version of Elizabeth Cotten's "Freight Train", which Garcia plays with an acoustic sound as a 'quippie fixes a string on John's bass. First, he lets the crowd know what's going on: "We've gotta change a string on the bass. You can all talk amongst yourselves." This latter formulation absolutely, positively echoes Mike Myers' contemporaneous SNL skit "Coffee Talk" - I use it myself when equipment challenges interrupt my teaching. I may also give a topic, as Linda Richmond does in the skit. In my case, it's something on-topic like "Vladimir Putin: strong man, or the strongest man? Discuss." In hers, the title gives a sample subject.
Then, without further ado, Our Man in Albany starts picking the tune. Melvin Seals accompanies extremely well on piano, so well that it makes me wonder how he knew the tune, since it is not associated with the "Band Electric". Maybe they had worked it up? I certainly would have liked to hear it more. Anyway, Melvin's great, and he weaves in a few bars of Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer" for good measure, last heard (by me) in the JGB being done by the great (if very drunk) Nicky Hopkins on 12/31/75. Jerry gets the verses mostly sung, if a little imperfectly (see my rough transcription just below), and this whole thing is just a stone cold fucking delight.
1- (chorus) Freight train, freight train, run so fast | Freight train, freight train, run so fast | Please don't tell what train I'm on | They won't know what route I'm gone
2- When I'm died oh bury me deep | Down at the end ol' Chestnut Street | Place the stones at my head and feet | Tell 'em all I'm gone to sleep
3- (chorus) Freight train, freight train, run so fast | Freight train, freight train, run so fast | Please don't tell what train I'm on | They won't know what route I'm gone
4- When I'm dead and in my grave | No more good times here I'll crave | [mumblyverse] | Tell 'em all I'm gone to sleep
5- When I'm died oh bury me deep | Down at the end ol' Chestnut Street | So I can hear ol' number nine | as she goes rollin' by
Here are Elizabeth Cotten's lyrics:
|Source: Cohen and Seeger 1964, 136|
At 4:30, John drops a note of electric bass to signal that he's ready to play, one of his few contributions on this night, in the era when he mostly fluttered around pretty inaudibly.
The song is one of my favorites, a perfect choice for Garcia and Grisman's then-recently-released masterpiece Not For Kids Only (Acoustic Disc ACD-9, 1993), and something Garcia had played since the pre-Dead period (see Jerrybase for the overview). In the GD era (and so the GOTS era) it showed up in the studio around 1975-1976. Jerry played it live 4/10/82a, his only "modern" solo acoustic date, but it was pretty cursory, just two and a half minutes without a good handle on the words, before running into the Cotten tune he did a lot more and in a range of contexts, "Oh Babe, It Ain't No Lie". After this impromptu version eleven years later, it came up twice more in the 1994 Garcia-Grisman live sets before ol' Jer landed at the end ol' Chestnut Street himself.
For more on this tour, the Garcia Band's last out east, see also "The Reedman vs. the Gunslinger at at the Garden" (11/12/93), "Good Clean Fun" (11/14/93), the sweet little BS passes for this "Slack Tour" featuring Church of the SubGenius prophet J.R. "Bob" Dobbs, and take a gander at the crew tourbook.
Listening Notes below the fold.
Thursday, December 31, 2020
When you say something sucked, or point to some darkness, you are scandal-mongering. When you rave, your are homer-fanboying. In all cases it's subjective. But, fuck it - it's my blog, and these are my impressions, and if you want to compare notes put 'em in comments or somewhere's else I can find 'em!
The JGB show at the cavernous SF Civic on December 22, 1990 is a late masterpiece.
There, I said it.
I cannot believe the many levels on which this show works. Garcia sounds very much like he wants to be playing this very music with this very band for these very fans on this very night in this very room. The 90-minute second set is not just an artifact of DAT taping, because not one but two songs happen after the big jam of "Don't Let Go". This is one of the longest sets of the post-coma Garcia Band, maybe the longest. Someday I will be able to show a time series testing this claim.
That's not to say that it's a gigglefest. Indeed, notes of nostalgia, sadness, world-weariness, a little darkness and edge definitely strike. But so do moments of light, easy joy.
My post on 11/15/90 referenced the "rehearsed, post-Brent Garcia Band", and I think both the claim and the allusion were spot on. The allusion to Brent speaks to the emotional range on display, on my subjective hearing. Brent's death hit him hard, and the Grateful Dead, to my subjective hearing, was never really the same. (Bob Weir agrees, by his own telling in the Long Strange Trip documentary, Act VI, around 22:45.) I guess Vince was a nice enough guy, but, in my certainly controversial and not-intentionally mean view, the band's sound verged on the ersatz with him in it. It is conventionally claimed that Garcia enjoyed his own band more than the GD for these last five years or so (i.e., post-Brent), and, as I have said, he certainly sounds very much like this is where he wants to be on this particular night. So if the sadness and world-weariness reflect the emotional toll of the losses he had experienced (which would further accumulate with Bill Graham's passing 10+ months later), the joy and lightness reflect the comfort of playing easy tunes with an easy band in an easy setting. That's my story, anyway.
And, the band speaks to the "rehearsed" part of my earlier analysis. I have no evidence of this, but this band absolutely sounds like it has been rehearsing. This will not appear in my notes, I don't think, but the Jerryettes are doing more and more forward work here than earlier in the year. I wish I had some digital musicologist on hand to check arrangements and quantify these things, but all I can go on is my impression. I don't think it's just the tape. The arrangements seem to invite the ladies to be more involved and more audible. Melvin Seals, for his part, is playing electric piano, organ and synth here. As with vocals, I don't have any firm baseline data around Melvin's instrumentation. I wish someone would dig into this stuff so I don't have to - when was he playing synth? Anyway, there's just tons of range on display here, lots of colors and textures and tones.
Here are a few song-centered bullet points to illustrate some of the wide spectrum of highlights.
Mission In The Rain: Hunter called this one of the only explicitly autobiographical songs he wrote for Garcia, and being at the SF Civic, right downtown across from the library, late in the year (solstice or a day off of it), Jerry definitely sounds nostalgic. His guitar work is contemplative, gentle, very soft and round and comforting. He picks out his words carefully. Beautiful.
Señor, Throw Out The Lifeline -> Let's Spend The Night Together: Garcia displays huge emotional range across these three tunes. The nautical themes of the first two connect them to Mission in the autobiographical sense, young Jerry having spent a chunk of his childhood at his mom's waterfront bar, "where the sailors all come in", soaking in the gin-and-cigarette scented salt air and their wild and wooly tales of the sea. They also unify in dark imagery, with Dylan's wicked wind necessitating Edward Uffin's lifesaving action (h/t Allen):
Throw out the life line to danger fraught men,Sinking in anguish where you’ve never been;Winds of temptation and billows of woeWill soon hurl them out where the dark waters flow
They part ways tonally, though, and again this gives expression to the post-Brent Jerry Band, the dark Armageddon of death that we all confront leavened by the lived realities of at least local and temporary salvation, not least through music. The song lilts along pleasantly enough, bringing a little bit of redemption. And my goodness, the music that follows! Garcia absolutely cuts loose on this version of LSTNT, with some absolutely huge, raging guitar. I used to think this was the BOAT version, but on this listen it didn't strike me that way. It seems like it was just great in this period, as my notes from a month earlier, 11/21/90, remind me. The relentlessness of his attack here certainly speaks to ongoing vitality - check it out.
So much for set I. As I noted above, set II clocks in at almost 90 minutes, which is pretty dang amazing, but the quality matches the quantity quite nicely.
The Way You The Things You Do: the Temptations' 1964 original of this sweet little piece clocked in around three straightforward minutes. As I first observed in listening to 11/15/90, the band seems to have extended the arrangement in this period, giving it a big open part that, if this were the GD or Jerry had other aims for his side band, could very well have segued into something else. Indeed, I nominated that version for BOAT consideration, but now, having heard this one from a month later, think 12/22's is even better. That one went out about 7-8 minutes in, this one I really noted it decoupling a minute or so later. But these versions would be worth comparing, others from this period will bear paying attention to, and I would *love* for someone to compare what they are doing here with how it played out earler in the year. I note that the 6/12/90 version clocks in as long as this one, but I generally find that show and the next night to be very sluggish, and I specifically noted this tune as "low energy". It's not fast here, not at all, but it's rich and deep and interesting.
Tore Up Over You: Few songs invoke the imagery of young Jerry, inspired by older brother Tiff, listening to (Black) R&B-cum-rock 'n' roll on the Oakland and SF AM stations in the 1950s than this Hank Ballard number. It wormed its way into his DNA and operated just as systematically on his playing. And here he plays some seriously shredding electric guitar that can reach back in time to melt the conformist shackles of Eisenhower's (White) America. You can hear the joyful transgression, the wide freedom he has to play what he wants, and loud! Ballard's version came out in '56, and I have little doubt but that it caught young Jerry's ear early on, and that he at least noodled it when he got his first electric guitar two years later. I don't know any of that, but you can't prove it didn't happen, so there.
Don't Let Go: always a highlight. This version interests me. When he brought it back in '88 it was a punchy 8-9 minute treat. I think it would run over 20 minutes again within the next few years. It's in Goldilocks-land here, 15 expressive minutes. Melvin's synth really colors it beautifully early on, at 4:45 Garcia doubles the vocals and guitar very precisely and totally uniquely, showing great intention, and it starts getting a little weird already 6 minutes in, Ballard giving way to Coltrane, with a dose of Kesey/Owsley for good measure. Kemper is such an amazing drummer, and things keep bouncing until about 9, Garcia pedals in some effect, and we are fully unmoored for awhile, but not super long. At 10:26, it returns to structure, but not the DLG melody, per se, alluding to it while still out melodically. (I am not sure I am using the right words here.) He spends some time in that space and drops into DLG at 13, closing these particular proceedings. Nice.
On almost every other night, at this point we'd get one more song. Here, we get two, and while I can often make mountains out of molehills, I want to really emphasize that I think this is highly informative. Autopilot would have taken him to Midnight Moonlight. An alternate flight path would have been straight to Tangled Up In Blue. Instead, we get a little "Struggling Man", again giving perfect expression to the emotional tenor of the evening - it's hard, but we keep going. Saying good night after Tangled Up, he sounds absolutely wiped out, and justifiably so. Man gave is all this night. Thank you, Jerry!
Man, what a show! Two snaps up, with a swirl. Listening notes below the fold.
Monday, December 21, 2020
Sunday, December 20, 2020
I wanted to spin some JGB #11a (Ozzie-Johnny D quartet) from late in 1979, a little window I have neglected in favor of their first few gigs on the one hand (10/7, 10/14), and the Winter 1980 tour (overall economics, 2/16, 2/20, 2/24) on the other hand. (update: see also 12/20/79)
Joanie Walker, Paul Scotton and Charlie Miller collaborated in putting out an aud tape of 12/17, which had never really circulated much, as distinct from shows on the 20th and the 21st. Following my nose for the obscure, I checked it out.
The tape: nice.
The show: blech.
Really blech. The most obvious thing is that Jerry and Johnny D'Fonseca are just not sync'd up, a big problem given that Johnny D is the drummer. And I blame Garcia. This is not only because Johnny D is so dang young (just 21 at the time of this show) or because it's only his seventh night out with the band. And it's not just because, corresponding to these, we might put responsibility on the older fella with his name on the band to help him out, the way he did with the JGB's previous young drummer, Buzz Buchanan. It's mostly because Garcia mostly just sounds out of it. His voice is still sweet in its sweet spot, but it lacks oomph and shows limited range. There are some good pyrotechnics in Sugaree, but 22+ minutes for Sugaree is a little indulgent even for Our Hero. And the second set material, which I think is incomplete on the tape, just doesn't really go anywhere or do anything.
Maybe I am totally wrong. Maybe you will listen to it and wonder what's wrong with me. I dunno. Let's discuss.
The only other thing I have to say about this show relates to the scheduling. The left side of the panel above shows the Keystone pink section ad dated December 9th, the right the one dated December 16th. You will see that JG was originally scheduled in Berkeley for Sunday 12/16, with Monday the 17th billing the "Best New Bay Talent" for no cover and a one drink minimum. Jerry on Sunday had still been listed in the Examiner as late as the 14th. But by the time the day-of-show ad comes out, the New Riders are in the Sunday slot and Jerry has moved to Monday. What's more, we now have a newly-added Jerry show on Saturday 12/22. Maybe that one was to makeup for the canceled gig on 12/8.
No biggie, stuff happens. The Pareto Criterion asks us to evaluate a possible change in the world such that it leaves at least one party to a transaction better off, and no party worse off. This one fits the bill. The New Riders get a gig, Freddie gets the New Riders on a Sunday (selling tickets and presumably more beer than the Best New Bay Talent) and Jerry on a Monday, great for him. As for Garcia, I SPECULATE that he was totally indifferent to the change. Sunday? Monday? Whatever.
One question I have is to what extent some notion of Jerry doing the Riders a favor might have entered into the equation. Call this Qustion 1. Of course he lent his lucrative name and considerable talents to these boys out of the gate, getting them some huge paydays before sending them off on their own. I don't know who besides Dawson was in the NRPS by late 1979, but the band had certainly fallen on hard times, and would never sniff its early 70s success again. Maybe part of the context was the chance for Jerry to help produce a payday, however modest, for an old friend. I dunno.
A second, question, call it Question 2, this is somehow related to the fact that the GD canceled the last two shows of its tour in Milwaukee on 12/13 and St. Paul on 12/14. At Jerrybase we note cancellations because "one band member ill and band wants to finish new album". Maybe Jerry needed Sunday night to work on what would become Go To Heaven. Or maybe he was the sick band member and needed another day to recover, which might also account for how out of it he sounds here.
Q1 and Q2 are not mutually exclusive, of course. Maybe all of the above, and Pareto smiles.
Anyway, my notes below.
Jerry Garcia Band
2119 University Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94740
December 17, 1979 (Monday)
s1s2p walscoller aud shnid-106057
--set I (4 tracks, 62:37)--
s1t01. [0:14] Sugaree// [22:15#] %
s1t02. //Catfish John [12:38] [0:09]
s1t03. That's Alright Mama [10:25] [0:41]
s1t04. How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) [16:16] %
--set II (3 tracks, 47:54, probably incomplete)--
s2t01. /After Midnight [#14:16] [0:07] %
s2t02. Simple Twist Of Fate [19:39] %
s2t03. /Harder They Come [#13:45] [0:07] %
! ACT1: Jerry Garcia Band #11a
! lineup: Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals;
! lineup: Ozzie Ahlers - keyboards, synthesizers;
! lineup: John d'Fonseca - drums;
! lineup: John Kahn - bass.
! R: symbols: % = recording discontinuity; / = clipped song; // = cut song; ... = fade in/out; # = truncated timing; [x:xx] = 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.
! Jerrybase: https://jerrybase.com/events/19791217-01
! db: https://etreedb.org/shn/106057 (this fileset)
! map: https://goo.gl/maps/LDc43
! listing: San Francisco Sunday Examiner and Chronicle Datebook, December 16, 1979, p. 18
! ad: San Francisco Sunday Examiner and Chronicle Datebook, December 16, 1979, p. 30
! seealso: JGMF, "Checking Myself: JGB at Keystone Palo Alto, December 20, 1979"
! historical: show was originally scheduled for Sunday night, 12/16, but moved to Monday for reasons unknown to me.
! R: Recording Info: Unknown Mics -> ? -> Cassette (Maxell UDXLII)
! R: Transfer Info: Cassette (Nakamichi DR-1) -> Sound Devices 744T (24bit/96k) -> Adobe Audition v3.0 -> Samplitude Professional v11.03 -> FLAC/16 (2 Discs Audio / 1 Disc FLAC). All Transfers and Mastering By Charlie Miller firstname.lastname@example.org February 14, 2010
! R: seeder notes: -- Thanks to Joani Walker and Paul Scotton for the tapes -- Thanks to Joe B. Jones for his help with the pitch correction
! R: this recording is clean. The keyboards are way forward and the bass is buried, the guitar also a little low.
! R: s1t01 Sugaree cuts out
! P: s1t01 Sugaree tempo variability, Johnny D trying to figure out where Jerry wants to be. But if you know this tune from this era, you know it's good. Many hold 12/21/79 to be the one of the best. Certainly the guitar work Jerry is doing in the 14-minute range and forward is outstanding. Standing big layers of notes 15:23. Still big peaky stuff 19.
! R: s1t02 CJ cuts in
! P: s1t03 TAM wonky start, but Jerry just bulldozes it forward and Johnny D jumps on almost immediately once Jerry really sets things. He's good. Things still wonky, but he's doing as well as anyone might.
! P: s1t04 HSII sounds a little off key for a bit, JG can't remember the lyrics in the first verse or so.
! R: s2t01 AM clips in
! P: s2t01 AM JG and JD are not syncd at all to start the tune. It's really pretty bad until about 2, when it seems to synchronize. Talk near taper @0:56: "Jerry's just like a jazz musician". More conversation that is nearly audible, someone could probably get ears on it and report out. Still late 5 it doesn't sound to me like the drums are doing what they need to be doing. JG also sounds pretty out of it on this whole version. Nothing of note here.
! P: s2t02 STOF good high peaky guitar work 10. John should take his feature late 10, but Ozzie takes it. Tempos a little unsure. John is fluttering behind, Ozzie pretty perfunctory, now John steps out a little more 11:38, still not very loud. JG steps out 13:34, crowd gives John a nice round of applause.
! R: s2t03 HTC cuts in. I cannot put my finger on what feels off this night, other than everything. Jerry's voice is still high, but it lacks oomph and range. He really needs backing vocalists to fill it out that aspect of the band's sound. All night the tempos have struck me as off.
Tuesday, December 15, 2020
|Garcia's Bands in Pritchard Gym, SUNY Stony Brook. Source: Jerrybase.|
In today's world of molded plastic superstars Jerry Garcia is a breath of fresh air. Rick Springfield fans wouldn't appreciate Garcia; he is old, fat and looks like he's just a step away from burning out. A person not familiar with Garcia would be more likely to ask when his last hot meal was, and not for an autograph (Reiss 1983).
|SUNY Stony Brook Statesman, v27 n37 (December 7, 1983), Alternatives section, p. 1A.|
|It ain't broken, but it's badly bent.|