Monday, February 26, 2024

Playing on the radio builds an audience, part the millionth: OAITW April 1973

I was just revisiting a little item in Todd Tolces's early 1970s column in the Berkeley Daily Gazette. From May 3, 1973:

Picking a very nicely at at banjo all weekend was Jerry Garcia with his new bluegrass group, Old and in Way.

The acoustic quintet played through two nights at the Keystone to a very crowded house each time. The word got out. Either that or everybody beard them on KSAN's 'live'' weekend where Old and in the Way did a smashing one-hour set from the Record Plant in Sausalito.

Also on hand that day and the Friday and Saturday nights at the Keystone was Richard Greene, Seatrain's former fiddler. Greene's presence makes two refugees from Seatrain. The other is Peter Rowan, their lead singer and guitarist.

Greene's presence may finally fill Garcia's desire to ''find a fiddle player and play the bluegrass festivals this summer." However because of the Greatful Dead's heavy work schedule he may not be able to. Let's wait and see.

So, a few things.

First, Tolces somehow got the idea that Greene was there to stay. But as far as I know he'd play the Pacific Northwest shows May 8 in Eugene and May 9 in Portland, and that would be all she wrote.

Second, Corry gets some nice capillary-level confirmation. He had said in re the 4/21/73 KSAN broadcast "Any doubts about Old And In The Way's strategy to popularize themselves like the Stanley Brothers are erased by this broadcast." And here we are the next weekend, packed house through buzz from the broadcast.

Third, I think my putative 4/28/73 Record Plant KSAN Broadcast *must* be a phantom, right? I think Richard Greene had himself at the Plant this date, and remembered doing a KSAN broadcast from there, and he and I conjured this event in the recollecting. Instead, I think RG was at the Plant doing some session work (I don't know for whom) on 4/28, and we both just mixed it with 4/21.

Can I get a collective ruling on that question?

Fourth, Tolces hearkens back to what Jerry had told him on March 13th, very early in the band's run, that he wanted a fiddle player.

Fifth, Tolces is also being communicated some doubts about how much time he'll really have for Old And In The Way. I can imagine three pathways to that. 1) It was just sort of "known". 2) GD sources (e.g., Cutler) planted that, as a shot across the bow to Jerry and his little buddies that they ate last. 3) Jerry planting it to start setting expectations among his bluegrass buddies. He wouldn't want to disappoint them, and he was averse to directly communicating anything even vaguely unpleasant. So maybe Tolces proved a useful conduit to soften the reality.

Sixth, whatever all that is, the whole thing nicely illustrates the burden of being Jerry Garcia (Gans).

Friday, December 01, 2023

The Muse

Thanks to Jim Powell for sending this my way. This aligns so well with my own experience of Her.

David Frawley, Hymns From The Golden Age:  Selected Hymns from the Rig Veda With Yogic Interpretation (Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, 1986):
The Muse is the presence of the Goddess within us, the presence of the cosmic feminine power which is the true creative power in life, the cosmic masculine force being more properly supracosmic transcendent being.  To create we must have the favor of the Muse, the grace of the Goddess.  For all true creation is the unfoldment of the cosmic feminine energy, the release of the Goddess-energy of Life for the culmination of its evolutionary transformations.  The Muse is our faithfulness to the Divine, our faithfulness to the cosmic vision and the creative work; our creative being as human beings to bring the Divine creativity into the world for its deliverance.  The Muse is our love of nature that is our openness to the cosmic creative force.  She is the yearning of our life for the immortal life in which all is a play of harmony.  As with creative endeavors so with the spiritual life; for the spiritual life is the projection of our creative energies inwardly fo the transformation of consciousness.  [209]
It is only through the Goddess that one can know the Gods; for it is only by ourselves becoming inwardly receptive that there can be the matrix for their manifestation....  Our own soul, the receptive, devoted, intuitive feminine side of our nature is the high priestess of the inner art.  She has the intuitive knowledge, the spontaneous sense of it.  We have only to let her stream of transformations flow.  She will pour on us the great inner ocean of light.  All growth is not though our personal effort but through her aspiring force, through letting it gestate within us....  No artifice can aid it which is the labor of abandoning all artifice.  This inner purity not of cultivated virtue but of the receptive mind, the motiveless heart, is the beauty of the Muse and Goddess.  [210]

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Hartbeats to New Riders: from spacesuits to OshKosh

Somewhere I have Mickey Hart saying basically what's in the title, but I cannot for the life of me find where I got this, and the Google is not helping me.

Anyone know where Mickey might have said this?


Sunday, November 19, 2023

What I think is Might Be (?) a January 1976 keyboardists' tryout tape

The great Charlie Miller has gathered and shared many thousands of tapes. One that he got hands on somewhere along the line and then forgot about has just come into the light.

ca. 1975-1976 JGB rehearsals, outs:

I hypothesize that this tape captures material from trying out / playing around with various keyboardists in January 1976. I think the need to summarize the ca. January 1976 keyboardist/repertoire options is what begat this tape --an artifact, emerging out of a distinct set of historical processes-- in the first place. It's a work tape.

I could be completely wrong about that. If you disagree, let me hear it! Tape is available to torrent from Lossless Legs (maybe be sub required).

Insofar as that's what's represented, then 

1) cool;

2) I was considerably wrong in my "Jerry's January 1976" post when I implied he was a slacker who settled for the most ready-to-hand keyboard player, Keith Godchaux;

3) I have additional material informing this idea of these as tryouts, which you'll be able to read about in Fate Music.

In the meantime, here are my very detailed listening notes, tracked differently (more baroquely) than Charlie's fileset.

Jerry Garcia Band
Probably His Master's Wheels
60 Brady Street
ca. 1976
85 minute 2 channel mono

--(20 tracks, 85:52)--
--fragment 1
t01. noisy noodle (1) [0:20] %
[MISSING: Tore Up Over You]

--fragment 2 (2 tracks,
t02. //untitled-197611xx-01-jam (2) [#21:12] %
t03. Magnificent Sanctuary Band Jam// [2:53#] %

--fragment 3 (2 tracks, 1 tune,
t04. //tape fragment// [#0:03#]
t05. //Tore Up Over You (3) [2:13] [0:06] %

--fragment 4 (3 tracks,
t06. //Freight Train [#2:47] %
t07. //Oh Babe It Ain't No Lie 1 [#5:56] (4) [0:03] %
t08. //Oh Babe It Ain't No Lie 2 [#4:30] [0:02] %

--fragment 5 (3 tracks,
t09. //Mystery Train// 1 [#7:04#] %
t10. (5) Mystery Train 2 [3:26] [0:16]
t11. Mystery Train 3 [7:09] (6) [0:09] %

--fragment 6 (5 tracks,
t12. I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch) [9:36] (7) [0:14]
t13. It's Too Late [0:30]
t14. (I'm A) Road Runner 1 flirt [0:47]
t15. (I'm A) Road Runner 2 fragment [0:14] (8) [0:18]
t16. (I'm A) Road Runner 3 [4:15] (9) [0:21] %

--fragment 7 (4 tracks,
t17. Hey Bo Diddley [7:13] ->
t18. Hideaway [3:02] (10) [0:14]
t19. (11) Maybellene [0:42] ->
t20. Thirty Days flirt (12) [0:24]

! ACT1: Jerry Garcia Band Z
! lineup: Jerry Garcia - electric guitar;
! lineup: John Kahn - electric bass;
! lineup: Ron Tutt - drums;
! lineup: unnamed-19761xxx-01 - keyboards (tracks,
! lineup: unnamed-19761xxx-02 - keyboards (tracks,


! t01 JG cites Tore Up Over You before tape cut

! P: I have no idea what this is - but it's a B3 player who can play!

! t01 (1) the noisy noodle has a vaguely Halloweenish feel

! R: t02 jam is munching tape at the start, super warbly, eventually gets up to speed. Jerry higher up in the mix 1:30ff.  Bass more audible late in 1. Garcia's guitar distorted, probably everything distorted.

! P: t02 jam Very New Orleans feel, bright B3. Is that really KG on organ? It does not sound like him. The organ is much more Brother Jack McDuff-sounding than I ever recall Keith being. JG Nice lick 1:45. Organ feature 3:05ff, Garcia comping, John walking, drummer swinging. Right at 4 again very avian big bright organ - Jimmy Smith Brother Jack McDuff. John is walking it just like James Jamerson all up in here. 4:50 Jerry takes another lead turn. 13 more walking bass line. @13:32 you can hear Jerry's fingers on the strings - he's letting it make itself heard, as an accent. Sounds amazing - super slow late 13 as gentle as fresh a wildflower! B3 is mellifluous 14ff. Gentle, sweet tunes. Still a B3 "feauture", but it is buried in the mix and sounds a little rudimentary to my ear. Still walking along for a while, easy as you please. Nice melody Jerry lands on in 15 - something almost recognizable at 15:51. Fuzz makes it sound a little saxophonish around 16:40. Even more at 17:35 - superfuzz for Jerry, Link Wray tone for a bit. JG takes some rounds 18:19 and the organist steps forward (recording, too, I think) - things are hotting up 18:45, B3 in the classic sound - hits high right at 19, again avian. Swinging on an R&B groove around 19:15 and a N'awlins descent at 19:30. Jerry starts winding it down like 20:30, but it's hard to pin a real ending, so I just time the whole track.

! t02 (2) Jerry hits "Tore Up Over You" just before the tape cuts out.

! P: t03 Magnificent Sanctuary Band Keith (I think) is leading this, the drum is very foot-pedal heavy, and this is just Keith and a drummer, with Garcia and Kahn sitting this one out. Both of the pianist's hands sound great. Probably just KG and RT.

! R: t03 MSB drop right before the end, real time

! P: t05 TUOY starts with organist back a little bit, Jerry up front. The, delightfully @ 0:29 JG starts comping, and at 0:36 the B3 comes in like a bird - exactly the same style as the earlier jam had been, same personnel. Around 1:15 or so Jerry starts singing the lyric, but without a vocal mic. The organist doing a straightforward accent on "tore up" - sounds like Jerry gets in front of a mic for the last lyric.

! t05 (3) JG: "aw fuck - I keep forgetting that thing"

! P: t06 Freight Train Jerry sounds almost acoustic. Drums just snare. Electric keyboard comes in @0:52. Jerry singing so high in the register, almost falsetto, can't quite reach the notes. Very peppy tempo. Lyrically, he sort of gets the first verse, does a couple of choruses. Beautiful swirly keys 1:25, like a carnival. 1:42 he sings the "when I die o bury me deep / down at the end of old Chestnut Street / so I can hear ol number 9 as she goes running by". Another chorus - he calls a note at 2:27 not sure "[D E G] again". Nice plucky tone against the swirly organ.

! R: t07 OBIANL ff recording has more high end, I think. Hissier for sure.

! P: t07 OBIANL beautiful just Jerry and John falsetto - out of his range I think. Drums enter at 2:00, now electric keys @ 2:08. This aggregation and keys in around 2:05 -5:55. Pretty keyboard in 5:30 range - he puts a Baby Blue riff on around 5:46.

! t07 (4) JG: "I don't know what ... I don't really know//". This sort of tails onto t08.

! P: t08 OBIANL take 2 - lovely gentle stuff. Drums enter around 0:40. Snare-led.

! R: t09 MT1 sounds better than the chunk with the Elizabeth Cotten material. More dynamic range, less hiss. drums and guitar L, synth keys R, voice center, bass L. Tune cuts in and cuts out on what was probably the last "took away my baby"

! P: t09 Mystery Train take 1 keys are synth right now - fascinating! Different player, too? Just not sure. 2:29ff electric keys/synth takes first feature. Jerry comping fantastically behind, like check out 2:49. Sounds like there's an organ on one hand, electric piano on the other hand? Jerry in a little feature ca. 3. Organ lead 3:39ff. Drummer hard in the pocket - high hat driven, super steady. More electric keys lead 4:25. JG lead 4:52

! t10 (5) song is ending, an English guy *not Nicky* says "too much". Then they roll into MT2. I normally might have tacked a second or so from the front here onto the previous track, but it's all good. Electric keys - Rhodes plus the three members Jerry, John and Tutt.

! P: t10 MT2 right around 2 there's some conversation while the beat rolls on. Can't make it out. Jerry steps up for a verse 2:30. Keys sound really nice, nice little flourish over the end of that verse. This sounds tight as hell.

! P: t11 Mystery Train take 3 is faster and drives harder.  This drives like a motherfucker. Drums ease in at 0:17, Garcia has a nice country twang going just before 30 seconds in, the synth is upfront. What is the technique he uses at 0:43 called? He plucks a single note that's not offkey, but it certainly offsets the straight vocal, punctuating. It's awesome. Sweet country sound - I wonder if he's playing a tele, almost? I highly doubt it, but it definitely has that feel. Bend at 2:04 that is definitely Bakersfield. Here in 4 the keys sound familiar. At first I thought Jimmy Warren, but maybe now it sounds like Ozzie Ahlers. I am not saying it is either of these guys - I don't think it's either one of them. But I am trying to pin some comps down. Now at 5:20 two keyboard sounds, I think it's one player with two hands going - left is like an electric piano and right is the synth. Truly glorious string scratches from Garcia right at the end, a little scrubby-dubby from 7:02-7:05. Gaaahhh.

! t11 (6) Tutt: "Ahhh, shit. [inaudible] to try another one like that." JG: "[inaudible] like that?" Somebody else (Kahn?): "It's got layers." As I will narrate in Fate Music in a heading titled "Cats in the Studio," in July 1977 Tutt and Garcia held a very similar exchange after a jam, with Ronnie saying stuff like "that'll work - we can take that wherever we want to", and Jerry concurring. Who cares? I do! Kahn gets all the credit as Garcia's band director, and he was. But Tutt was in a "musical director" space -- validated by Garcia -- in those July '77 jams, and here he is the prior year playing the same role. Very important little fragment right there.

! song: "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)" (t12): Yes, the Four Tops Tune tune, Holland-Dozier-Holland on Motown! Singleton. 

! P: t12 Sugar Pie Honey Bunch - oh my God this is stunning. Drums, organ, electric guitar, Garcia playing in a style like I have never ever heard before. 1:46 is he playing a Strat? Wow, fuzzy 2:16 what is the name of that effect? Not sure I have heard bass in this. Just keys guitar drums. God, Tutt starts some hi-hatting at 3:12 that is IMPOSSIBLE it's so good. Organ player takes a lead 3:20ff or thereabouts. @ 3:42 Garcia singing unamplified, way high in his vocal range, but amazing. This is cooking so sweet and hot and it bounces incredibly well. Band playing really well together. No idea who this organist is - DEF not Keith. This is a B3 aficionado, someone tearing it up. Any chance this is Larry Knechtel? By 6 Jerry is in more recognizable sound, still not sure which guitar he's playing. But my God is this AMAZING. Slow it wayy down at 8:48, half time, quarter time, decay to gentle @ 9:07, there's John Kahn, Jerry noodling some stuff to wind it down.

! t12 (7) @ 9:41, good hearty Jerry laugh. Tutt: "What time is it?" JG: "Too late." Someone else, affirming: "too late". Naturally enough, this leads Jerry to strum the beautiful xxx notes xxx chord of "It's Too Late".

! P: t13 ITL falsetto!

! t15 (8) JK is quoting an Abbey Road sounding piece - maybe Come Together? Powerful, McCartney sounding. Jerry hits the Lennon twang. Not sure which tune, but a Beatles riff I think.

! P: IARR 3 he doesn't lead with the first verse, I don't think? This is the quartet playing. Jerry, John, Ronnie, and organ player. Tempo slows 2:48, now sounding more like '76 JGB (heh heh).

! t16 (9) @ 3:45 IARR sort of unraveled gradually. Tutt called out a '1' to take it from the top, but Jerry starts moaning "1", becoming "whaaaa??" It's "1" a second moan, he is joined in by John I think, also moaning "1????????" They pick it up pretty continuously until 4:15, when he drops it again, Tutt calls out '1' again, and they all riff on the same goof from 30 seconds before, moaning and cawing. @ 4:10 someone yells out "Christ!", and it sounds like an English voice to me. Again, NB re: Tutt leading musically. He's the drumer and he's just counting down the beat in this case, but it's still fun to see him focused and the rest of these weirdos being weird.

! song: "Hey Bo Diddley" (t17):

! P: t17 Hey Bo Diddley starts off with cool John Kahn liquid weirdness, some big bottom of the sea low amplitude forms, first 30 seconds of the track. Organ arrives 0:54. Neat interplay JG and organ player 1:38, he scrubs for the three beats, real basic, and the organist puts some color on it. Right after 3 Jerry steps back to play his guitar, and it's hot and great. Killer fuzztone 4:35 - like fuzzier than you will ever hear him. Shreddy, weaving through, around, over, the organ's melody lines. Big fuzzy R&R guitar 5:18ff. Grungy. Late 5 he finds a defined melody of something that might be identifiable. Jerry audibly unpedals the fuzz @ 6:20 with a killer rock chord, and it's back cleanly into the Bo Diddley beat, Jerry with some chunky ... all through this there is a drum that sounds like a hand drum, e.g., 6:45 for awhile, but it perfectly accompanies the drum, so I think ...?

! P: t17-t18 Jerry lets it decay and the organist hits "Hideaway", but Jerry takes a bit to really embrace it. At 0:39 Garcia is playing "Hideaway" with a guitar that sounds really unfamiliar. Wow! Groovy as fuck at 1:32 when everyone is walking it for awhile, organist splashes other tones. 2:27ish Jerry tries to end it, but not one takes him up on it, trying again 10 and Tutt catches the cue perfectly!

! R: t18 Hideaway track some static for sure

! t18 (10) Jerry playing some blues lines, Tutt drums fast to them.

! t19 (11) I track Maybellene to where Tutt starts drumming the beat. Over the start of it, he says "That's that other [?another?] Freddie King tune". I think he's referring to the melody he just hinted at - see note 10. I don't recognize it. Maybellene, of course, was written by Chuck Barry, so maybe he was just having a stoner moment with it?

! P: t19 Maybellene Jerry does some of the rough and ready vamp singing he's been having fun with all night to start, but pretty quickly he gets a verse together, like ten seconds into the noodle. John walking *incredibly* late 0:16 range. This is a boogeying little thing they are doing,

! song: "Thirty Days" (t20): Chuck Berry. Like "Maybellene", a rock 'n' roll standard.

! t20 (12) there are a couple of "fuck it"s at the very end.

Monday, November 13, 2023

John Coltrane has a spudfactor of 2?

Spudfactor is the number it takes to get from Jerry to another musician, using ties defined as making music together, in person.

Jerry Garcia = spudfactor 0

Anyone who played with him, live or live in studio, even picking in someone's living room, has SF1.

Then everyone they ever played with --same definition-- now has SF 2 (at most). And so forth.

The universe of SF1, when we draw all of the ties between all of the other players, defines the Side Trips Social Network.

Anyway, we were playing around with links out from Jerry to Coltrane, and my amazing commenters have determined that Jerry 0 > Ornette 1 > Coltrane 2.

So much fun. Original question was about John Chambers. We have moved on.

It's my understanding that Hartbeats era Matrix drummer John Chambers played with John Coltrane. I could check, but I wanted to pin this here before I head out to the ol' salt mines.

Wednesday, November 08, 2023

Jerry Garcia - David Grisman Quartet at Sweetwater, December 17, 1990

Perfect soundboard audio of the debut of the Garcia-Grisman band (JGDG) at Sweetwater in Mill Valley came into the light a few weeks back.

It has now been sync'd to video and Christopher Hazard has worked his 4k wizardry on it.

Thanks to all involved in doing this work. We have an absolute gem of a copy of pivotal addition to Jerry's late life.

Monday, July 31, 2023

"the world’s most recorded musician in the world’s most famous arena"

The Red Light folks tagged GarciaLive 16 (MSG 11/15/91) with the subject line, and I have to say that it's badass. That crew does a good job, IMO. I am not kissing up. It's a hard job and they have released some amazing stuff. And that's just a good line. Tip o' the cap.

It contains some pretty good distillations about which you will read again in Fate Music.
The performance by the ... JGB at Madison Square Garden on November 15, 1991, represents the acme of Garcia’s solo career, the culmination of a nearly quarter-century name-claiming journey by which he established his identity as an individual American musician, Jerry-Garcia-full-stop, beyond and distinct from his wider fame as Jerry-Garcia-of-the-Grateful-Dead.


Jerry Garcia never planned a solo career; it just sort of happened as he sought more and different avenues for expression than the Dead allowed. Inchoate jams at the Carousel Ballroom became tempo études (“Mickey and the Hartbeats”) at the Matrix, which became regular but musically formless Monday night jams with Howard Wales, which morphed into ongoing and more musically grounded gigs with Merl Saunders. Even after four years, the amorphous aggregation resisted naming itself, going by “The Group” in the Bay Area, or just listing members’ names, before coalescing into “Legion of Mary” for its last eight months. The meantime saw numerous aggregations under other (and others’) names, playing diverse musics, cutting some records, running some drive-by tours, and banking an increasingly sizeable pile of accomplishments, including the country New Riders of the Purple Sage, the space-jazz Hooteroll? proj- ect with Wales, and the incandescent bluegrass all-stars Old and In The Way. Otherwise off-nights found Garcia making a singular solo record, engaging protean Dawg Music (David Grisman’s Great American Music/ String Band), renewing bluegrass ties with the Good Old Boys, vibrating electrons with Ned Lagin, and making time for a vast array of sessions, sit-ins, dalliances, and one- and few-offs.

But the Jerry Garcia Band (1975–1995) bore his name, and it played the music its eponym liked, the way he wanted to play it. Over the years the JGB, always featuring Garcia’s friend bassist John Kahn but with an evolving array of other musicians, grooved to soul, R&B, Motown, contemporary gospel, reggae, and other Black idioms that fit the band’s changing personnel, especially after the arrival of church organist Melvin Seals in 1981 and his handpicked backing vocalists starting the next year. A second tranche of cover tunes drew from the contemporary White Anglosphere, both the British Isles and North American settler colonies, heavy on the Americana. Garcia-Hunter originals, some shared with the Dead and others exclusive to the JGB, rounded out the repertoire. The six players integrate seamlessly. This is the canonical Jerry Garcia Band, a lineup that lasted 1984–1993, the core three plus steady David Kemper on drums and harmony vocals by Jackie LaBranch and Gloria Jones, Oakland church singers with day jobs who took to calling themselves the Jerryettes.
Read the whole thing as they say. I dig this show, and I dig imagining how this son of an immigrant musician might have felt seeing that family name in lights at the Garden.

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Great Moments in Taping History: Jim Durkin and Jim Wise @ Red Rocks, July 28, 1982


Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison, CO. Threatening midsummer Rocky Mountain rain clouds and all the rest; beautiful people everywhere.


Jim Wise (jimwise), a.k.a. aoxoa, a.k.a. tapersfriend, legendary East Coast taper, good friend of Dick Latvala's, all around good human

dude in the middle (DITM)

Jim Durkin (JD), who would go on to become sound engineer for Jose Feliciano and many other greats
nearby woman (NW)

the Grateful Dead (GD)


JD to DITM: I know. He can move over, too.

JD to jimwise: What are you doin' to my levels, man? [jimwise mumble] Don't put 'em up. Put it - dammit, Wise, I'm gonna fuckin' butcher -- [jim inaudible, crosstalk] Whaddya mean?!? You just put my fuckin' levels up! I'm gonna scream in the mics all night long if you fuckin' touch my levels, man. That fucking sucks!!"

DITM to jimwise: Calm down, Jim!

jimwise: OK. It's real good, now.


chk-PHWAWWWW----  chk-PHWAWWWW ==== 

phwen-u-wamp phwen uwam phenu wamp when whow


["Shakedown Street" continues]

[more crosstalk @ ca. 5:15]

I >>FF to LL -> Supplication

Bob forgets lyrics.

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Three vast corpora, to start

As I am writing and looking at the things I may have to leave undone, it strikes me that we have some amazing sources of oral history, which can and should be systematically converted to text for close study by humans and pattern extraction by machines. I have in mind the following sources:

Jake Feinberg, The Jake Feinberg Show, various episodes.

David Gans and Gary Lambert, Tales From the Golden Road, Sirius XM Satellite Radio, Grateful Dead Channel, various episodes.

Steve Parrish, The Big Steve Show, Sirius XM Satellite Radio, Grateful Dead Channel, various episodes.

For both the Feinberg and Big Steve shows, I have played around with grabbing audio, converting to text using, and editing in the interface (which is quite good). These transcripts have much to teach us. 

Feinberg has interviewed literally several dozen Garcia collaborators, many on more than one occasion totally a few hours. He has a great jazz head and draws great stuff out of his guests.

Big Steve's is mostly his recollections, with interviews not uncommon. He has a very good memory, and some of these stories are pure gold. I have found many factual errors in them, but can you blame the guy for not getting 54 years of memories from roadying for the Dead and Garcia Just Exactly Perfect? There are absolute golden nuggets throughout the show.

But you have to pan for them.

In both cases, the transcriptions emerge from the machine *very rough*. A 45 minute Feinberg interview can take me 90 minutes or two hours to clean, maybe even more. And he's doing these for broadcast, so care is taken to speak somewhat clearly. Big Steve is talking around giant Grizzly Peak doobies and, for some reason, juggling a mouthful of rocks. Polishing these transcriptions is more like 3:1 time ratio. The machine isn't the first not to know what to make of Big Steve, and we humans just process too fucking slowly.

So, it hurts me to know how much I am probably missing from these and countless other sources. I am glad the Good Ol Grateful Deadcastis making transcriptions - awesome stuff.

But these three shows alone have been running for *years*, and have generated probably millions of words altogether. These currently exist as sound data, and we need to get them transcribed.

Bottom line: the voice-to-text process is where the time/energy bottleneck still is. Once we have text, the machines can do their things, and we can do ours, and there are many opportunities to apply digital humanities kinds of methods to our corpora. I think it will yield great results. But someone other than me is going to have to get that ball rolling!

Musician Children of Musician Fathers

I am identifying lots of musician children of musician fathers in the Garciaverse.

So, consider this a request: if you know someone with Spudfactor 1, who is male-identifying, and whose father was a musician, please post to comments. I will start the list here, alpha by last name but presented first-last.

  • Martin Fierro
  • Jerry Garcia [José or Joe Garcia]
  • Zakir Hussain [Alla Rakha]
  • Tony Saunders [Merl Saunders]
  • Bill Vitt

I have also bracketed father's name in cases where they are otherwise in or orbiting the Garciaverse.

Have at it!

Sunday, July 09, 2023

Setting Right What Was Rent Asunder

Or something like that.

Forgive me, for I have sinned. I have added entropy to the world. I am here to make amends.

When the Falanga-Menke Stash of Garcia-Saunders tapes from 1974 first came to me, one of them was labeled 8/14/74. I had what I thought was another recording of the show connected to Lou Tambakos. Somewhere along the line, in the first decade of the 21st century, I decided that the correct date was 8/15/74. Because I was an early source of recording metadata, that dating has really stuck. I even wrote about it once because of a mystery trumpeter.

But I think I was wrong. I now believe that Wednesday, August 14, 1974 is the correct date of this mid-August 1974 JGMS show at the Great American Music Hall.

Three streams of evidence.

8/14/74 JGMS at GAMH has no contrary listings and these confirmatory ones: Bill Alex, "Around Town," San Francisco Examiner, August 9, 1974, p. 23; San Francisco Sunday Examiner and Chronicle Datebook, August 11, 1974, p. 4; Todd Tolces, "Out to Lunch," Berkeley Gazette, August 14, 1974, p. 11; San Francisco Examiner, August 14, 1974, p. 27.

8/15/74 JGMS at GAMH has no confirmatory listings and the following contrary listings: Hayward Daily Review, August 9, 1974, p. 40; Daily Independent Journal, August 9, 1974, p. 20; Bill Alex, "Around Town," San Francisco Examiner, August 9, 1974, p. 23; San Francisco Sunday Examiner and Chronicle Datebook, August 11, 1974, p. 4; Todd Tolces, "Out to Lunch," Berkeley Gazette, August 14, 1974, p. 11. All of these bill John Hartford at GAMH on this date.

Tapes: not only was the Falanga-Menke tape labeled 8/14/74, but so was a beat-up old dubbed cassette the Jerry had in his tape collection.

So, QED. Change your lists. Change your fileset info!

Tuesday, July 04, 2023

About Last Night

Hell may freeze over, but here I am. A new man. (Call it my epitaph for JGMF.) But I am going to post about the Post-Jerry-Garcia-Grateful-Dead-Cinematic-Universe (PJGGDCU). Just read Selvin 2018 for a sense of things. I think Thoughts On The Dead coined an acronym for this which is of course canon. I am just goofin'.

I have been mostly lukewarm, and so not paid much attention, to all of the members' doings since 1995. Phil in April 2000 from the 3rd row was utterly antiseptic, all brain and no soul. Ratdog in whatever year I went to the Tower Theater, we left at setbreak. Man needs his sleep. I never saw any of the others, I don't think, until Dead & Co., which I have seen a number of times because they come to me at Folsom Field. I have enjoyed those days in Colorado and grooving around, but the music was mostly incidental.

All that said, last night at Folsom Field was the first time I have felt the magic since I was in the same space as Jerry, that being:

GD August 14, 1991 at Cal Expo in Sacramento; and
GD December 28, 1991 in the Coliseum Arena in Oakland

Both were good, though I am not a fan of Vince's sound. The main thing was that I had to shift my energy to new things.

32 years later, I felt just a little bit, a flash, of that same ol' magic. I did the whole weekend volunteering with campus Guest Relations to wristband folks with floor seats for the first set, then free to roam in the second.

It was absolutely wonderful. If you have talked to me for 1 minute, you know I love Colorado with all my heard. I love Boulder. You know I love the University of Colorado Boulder. You know I love My People: Scholars, Students, Staff, Heads and Other! And you know I LOVE music.

It was all that! I think I may now be up to the mountains for some backpacking.

From JGMF to Fate Music

What you see happening is that I can't really blog much anymore. I think.

The communication medium known as blogging mostly invites me to express paragraph- subheading- and heading-level ideas. All of that now needs to go into the Fate Music manuscript. At least, that's what I expect.

It's certainly not over. Hell, it may thrive. But thanks to all of you reading this for all your support. Please follow me on Twitter at AND on Mastodon at I can spin off sentence there to clear my mind and then focus on the task at hand.

"I was a victim of a series of accidents, as are we all" -- unk

Sunday, July 02, 2023

Fate Music in a Nutshell: JGB at MSG: November 15, 1991

I just changed the name at the top of the blog from Jerry Garcia's Middle Finger to reflect the progress I am making on Fate Music: Jerry Garcia's Name-Claiming Journey Beyond the Grateful Dead. That subtitle subject to change, that lead title not.

The best summary narrative is in my review of Jerry Garcia Band. Garcia Live volume 16: Madison Square Garden, November 15th, 1991 (Round Records JGFRR1037, 2021) in Grateful Dead Studies volume 5 (2021/2022): 228-234 [pdf].

If Carousel and Matrix jams present the uhr moment for Jerry Garcia Beyond the Dead, this musician's son's first time headlining Madison Square Garden under his own name supply the acme.

Anyway, read the whole thing if you are so inclined. And, of course, stay tuned!

Thank you all for reading Jerry Garcia's Middle Finger, commenting, correcting, all the rest. The function of this bit of cyberspace will remain mostly unchanged, maybe a bit more pimping. But this will still capture whatever random slop I can generate in the meager time I have.

If you are a lurker - come on out and play! "We're trying to have a reasonably good time here", and all that. I know the partly depends on me generating posts. I wouldn't hold my breat, but, either way, gimme a shout here, email, or if you find yourself in Colorful Colorado.

Wednesday, June 07, 2023

On Accuracy

The recent June 5th brought out more than a tiny number of people to recognize the Oregon State Penintiery show on the anniversary of its performance -- June 5, 1982 -- rather than on the date given by the old bootleg tape. Because the bootleg was one of the mostly widely held Garcia recordings in the CD era, the spurious date of May 5, 1982 --imagine bootleggers getting something wrong!-- has been persistent and hard to uproot. Bad information crowds out the good even years after the latter has been established with 100-ε% certainty. Certainly the last decade of politics has demonstrated the dark underbelly of the availability heuristic, as the simple (but relentless) repetition of untruth persuades people to believe it. (Note to self: Kahneman 2011, 62, 66, 67).

And it is now 100% established that May 5, 1982 is incorrect, and June 5, 1982 is correct. latter is now the case here. I first established the correct date of June 5th based on the tour itinerary hidden in the GD Archives at UCSC. I learned more in a piece about Steve Stilling, the OSP prisoner who put the Garcia-Kahn event and a number of other notable gigs on. Dick Latvala's Scrapbooks supplied a picture of the event from a local newspaper! Most of this is pinned at Jerrybase, natch. But there is really no doubt about this, beyond the epsilon (ε) I always reserve on metaphysical grounds

So I want to express my appreciation not only for those who are open to updating their beliefs about this sort of thing, but for those who endeavor to use accurate information, even in relatively casual conversation, when it comes to Jerry Garcia's musical life and activities and the rest of the stuff we are passionate about.

Accuracy matters, even in this "hobby" space, this "amateur" space which, Steve Silberman reminded us years back in one of the Taping Compendiums, simply means "lover" or "lover of". I am fully bought-in to Umberto Eco's view that we make lists in a vain attempt to tame infinity in a vain attempt to live forever -- together. Any efforts along these lines should never be described with the pejorative "obsession", IMO. I greatly prefer the label "passion". And why not? We are dying, after all! We've got work to do!

I get that not everyone cares, and I am not going to try to police their usages ... too much. Maybe a nudge, providing the correct information. Maybe an implicit plea for them to use the correct information as much as possible, not because they care, but because I (and lots of us) care. In that specific form of community known as culture, pinning down our past helps us live together in the present and feel just a little calmer about the future, since at least this piece of infinity has been tamed.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

JGB Spring '93 SoCal

Preface: JGB in SoCal

Little springtime SoCal jaunts became a regular thing for JGB starting in 1983. (OK, that was very late winter, but March is generally pretty springy down there.) Some were one- or two-offs, others were a little more elaborate. Here's a sketch.

1983: 3/11a and 3/11b in Santa Barbara; 3/12a and 3/12b, 3/13 in Beverly Hills
1984: 5/17 Beverly Hills, 5/18 Irvine, 5/19 Santa Barbara, 5/20 Reseda
1985: Garcia-Kahn 5/31a and 5/31b in Beverly Hills
1986: 5/23 in San Diego, 5/24 in LA
1987: 3/13 and 3/14 in LA
1988: no SoCal
1989: 5/19 Irvine, 5/20 San Diego, 5/22 LA
1990: LA in November
1991: no SoCal
1992: summer dates
1993: 4/16 and 4/17 at UCLA, 4/18 in San Diego
1994: 5/13 San Bernardino, 5/14 Ventura, 5/15 Irvine, 5/17 and 5/18 San Diego + 5/19 Phoenix

So much to say, but so little time. Let me just foreshadow some of what might get some write up in Fate Music.

'83: Hell's Angel George Christie, Jr., a rather remarkable dude, promoting in Santa Barbara (again in '84). I have some super-sweet material here about how much better it was for Jerry working for an outlaw than it was for some of the "straight" promoters in the area.

'84: not sure yet, but definitely mention the killer music and DeeDee Dickerson's swan song.

'85: "Bullshit! Bullshit!" and all that

'86: Wolfgang trying to product-differentiate the "Band Electric" 10 months before the birth of the Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band. And one of the great sardonic review headlines of all time: "Band Electric Plays at Pace Languid".

'93: maybe some stuff based on this post

'94: "Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!!"

Among the themes that will pop up are NorCal vs. SoCal, maybe some nods toward playing on John Kahn's home turf, and definitely the evolution of the SoCal jaunt as a commercial proposition: 1) from local promoters (with John Scher's help) to conceding Bill Graham the west coast monopoly he so badly wanted. (He wanted it all, but John Scher was simply too great to work with to give him up.) And 2) obvs., the switch from clubs and theaters to amphitheaters and basketball arenas. Of course, too, some great music.

JGB SoCal Spring 1993

So much for the long windup. I really just wanted to plop down some notes around a listen a month or two ago to the April 16-17, 1993 gigs in Pauley Pavilion and the 18th in the San Diego Sports Arena. I have listening-noted the Warfield 4/23/93 show on these pages, and found it somewhat low energy, though I abso-fucking-lutely love its version of "Señor" (released on Garcia Plays Dylan) and "The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game" (released on Shining Star). It seems like I haven't listened to the 4/24 or 4/25 Warfield shows, which I guess I will need to do at some point.

These three SoCal shows from the week before strike me as overall better than 4/23, generally strong, rarely really bad and occasionally fantastic. If forced to rank these three, I'd say 4/18 > 4/17 > 4/16. I note that The Powers That Were released 1 tune each from the 18th and 17th, but none from the 16th. That seems about right to me, and I have to say that they made fantastic choices. Despite its execrable cover art and (not unrelated) the fact that it was released under the reign of She Who Shall Not Be Named (whom I nevertheless name below), the Shining Star release contains some outstanding music, and the selections from this run of shows are top-shelf.

From the 17th, they selected "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love", which the Stones had covered soon after Solomon Burke's original 1964 version on Atlantic, and which was most successfully covered by Wilson Pickett. This Garcia Band version is absolutely killer, a truly fine late era performance ranging across some stanky pedal effects to some very spare sections, sung together and tenderly by Jerry and the ladies, but also across some growly exclamatory "I need it! I need it!" from ol 'Jer. More detailed notes, probably not all that illuminating, below.

From the 18th, they selected Dylan's "Positively 4th Street". (Happy belated 82nd birthday to Mr. Dylan, BTW!) What can I say about Garcia and 4th Street? Of all the Dylans he did, I think this one was the most special. It was almost never not amazing. It is one of those tunes that I still haven't found quite the right word for, which appeared across the decades, but typically in short spurts, which I think have a particular quality of Jerry loving them but finding them either challenging to do or too special to wear out. This is speculation, of course, but it's what my gut says. And none of these tunes --also including "Tough Mama", "Like A Road", a few others-- better captures that profile for me than "4th Street".

The great David Gans and Blair Jackson asked Garcia about the tune in a 1981 interview.
Q: Do you have any trouble singing a song as bitter as "Positively 4th Street"?

Garcia: Not at all. It's easy for me to cop that asshole space. I was that guy, too. For me, it occupies the same space as 'Ballad of a Thin Man'. It tells that person who's lame that they're lame, and why they're lame, which is a very satisfying thing to do. 'Positively 4th Street' has this way of doing it where it's beautiful, too. And 'It's All Over Now, Baby Blue' is basically a put-down, too. It's one of those things like, 'You're losing bad - dig yourself.' It was the beautiful sound of 'Positively 4th Street' that got to me, more than the bitterness of the lyric. The combination of the beauty and the bitterness, to me, is wonderful. ... That's something that only Dylan has been able to pull off in terms of modern songwriting, I think (Jackson and Gans 19810911, 29).
Jerry played it somewhat regularly with the Garcia-Saunders aggregation in 1973 (as represented, e.g., on the original Saunders-Garcia-Kahn-Vitt Live at Keystone, and re-released by Fantasy endlessly since then). He picked it back up for a month in 1975 in the first JGB with Nicky, then dropped it again until Ozzie Ahlers came on board in 1979 (check out the 12/21/79 version, one of the greatest single-song performances of Garcia's playing career). He dropped it again in the middle of the February 1980 tour for more than ten years, bringing it out staccato in the 90s. Here are the all of the post-1980 versions. Because I think the song held special meaning for Jerry, I offer up some conjecture as to what I think might have motivated the revival.

3/1/91, which I have called "Certainly One of the Best and Most Interesting Shows of the 90s" (which may be damning it with faint praise): I note that 4th Street is "just about perfect - I think he gets all of the lyrics, and he does it with the right degree of bitterness." What might have led Garcia to dust this gem off after 11 years, obviously rehearse it with the band, play it for this "just for this one moment", and drop it for two years again? Well, first we know that he was using again, and not just chipping but to the point that the GD would stage another intervention four months later, whereupon Jerry went onto a methadone program. (It didn't stick.) Second, we know from his September '91 interviews that he was wildly burned out on the Dead, and he explicitly said that it was during the spring that he was asking the band about chilling out for six months, only to be told that the show had to go on. *cough* Phillesh *cough* So, in this case, I blame the Grateful Dead. Does any of this have anything to do with why he played 4th Street? Neither you nor I has any idea. But, while it may  not have been carefully planned out, I think something definitely caused its appearance. What do you think?

4/18/93 (this version) and 4/23/93 (on Shining Star): Here, I primarily blame woman troubles (Jerry's, not necessarily the women's). Humiliatingly, San Francisco institution Herb Caen led a January 1993 column asking "would the beloved Jerry Garcia dump his longtime ladyfriend, Manasha (the mother of his 3-yr-old daughter), and take off for Hawaii with a new inamorata?" (Caen 19930112). I can't recall where this occured, but when People wrote about his personal life in 1976 Garcia lost his shit, and I can't imagine the isolated and private 1993 version of himself would have been happy about having his love-life laundry aired in public. The new inamorata in January was the sweet and lovely Brigid Meier, but he had already left her in March after a) running back into Deborah Koons (also involved the 1976 complications) in Mill Valley and b) Brigid finding out he was using and asking him to get clean (McNally 2002, 603). Her recollections of that encounter supply some of the darkest images we have of the man in the grip of his addiction. Maybe he had her in mind when singing about "what a drag it is to see you" and all that. After a little fling with one Shannon Jeske (ibid), it seems like by April he would have been back with Deborah. Indeed, having heard some of the inside skinny about how She worked, the fact that She and Jerry were back together right around this time may have motivated the selection of material from these very shows.

There were other things going on in this window, of course. The last time he had played the Warfield, in late February, there was a "mini riot" outside the venue, involving 20 cops, rock-and-bottle throwing, and a dozen arrests ("12 arrests at Garcia concert," Argus-Courier [Petaluma, CA], March 2, 1993, p. "Deadheads blame riot on S.F. Police," San Francisco Examiner, March 1, 1993, p. A-13). So, to whom, or about whom or what, would he be venting his spleen in April 1993, by again dusting off, rehearsing, performing, and again dropping 4th Street? I have no idea. But I will say that, as on 3/1/91, on 4/18/93 he dusted the tune off and played it nearly perfectly, as close to perfectly as he ever did any song. I think he nailed every single lyric. And, heart? What heart! My only note about the song is this: "this is stunningly good".

There is lots of other really nice stuff in these shows, as my notes below narrate. The "Don't Let Go"s are too brief for my taste. But even tunes I don't generally love --I am looking at you, "Dixie Down"-- have a little extra something, again more on the 18th than the 17th and more on either of those than the first night. The Garcia Band at this point was running like a pretty well-oiled machine, putting plenty of bread in the breadbox --around $225,000 for these three nights!-- punching in solid 60-minute sets, and delivering good stuff to the faithful. They hold up well after 30 years, and I can recommend them to you --especially the 18th-- if you are searching for something to spin.

Oh yeah, what about the 1995 versions of 4th Street? On 1/13/95, he botches the words ("Jerry can't sing 4th Street if he can't remember the lyrics", I snipped). But I also note that he manages to remember more of them than I would, and as far as I know I am not on death's door. On 3/4/95 he says "I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes" no fewer than four times - so he does the "I could be you" and "what a drag it is to see you" responses twice. Not lyrically correct, I don't think (?), but could be (over-) interpreted as really feeling true to the man in that moment. By 4/15/95 he is running on fumes, though the version certainly makes up in feeling what it lacks in power. If my whole reasoning about the song's appearance reflecting a particularly embittered mindset is right, it certainly makes sense that it was around for these three months. He had crashed his car in January, canceled shows in February, and, not least, he was dying. So 4th Street certainly fit the Zeitgeist.

Listening Notes for April 16-18, 1993 below the fold.

Monday, May 22, 2023


I am looking, not quite desperately but maybe with some urgency, for some vintage Old And In The Way paper. Could be an Old And In The Way poster, could be an Old And In The Way handbill.

I am writing Fate Music, with a credible plan to finish the manuscript this calendar year. The above pictures my workspace two homes ago. I had aimed to have every major Garcia aggregation beyond the GD on a frame on the wall in my workspace to inspire me as I write. I have more now than what is shown, and a good many even of the lesser Garcia Band configurations, but the biggest hole is Old & In The Way.

Years back, Wolfgang's Vault had a beatup 5/25/73 poster, black and red, for like $700. I wish now I had pulled the trigger on it. There is not much OAITW paper of any kind - that handbill and poster, the 10/7/73 qua 11/4/74 bus handbill, not sure what else.

Your humble blogger hubly asks you to search your closets, shake the trees, ask your friends, etc. My OCD can't take it, and my Muse demands it.


Thursday, April 13, 2023

Byron Berline playing with Old And In The Way, ca. summer 1973

My previous post (three months ago!) touched on an expost recollection of Doug Sahm sitting in with Garcia-Saunders at the Keystone around December 1972. I love these little fragments, love trying to pin them down.

Here's a similar one: in the August 16. 1973 Village Voice, it is reported by Jerry Leichtling that Byron Berline had "recently performed with Old And In The Way, Jerry Garcia's new assemblage". I won't go into Byron Berline's importance here, but the wiki can get you started. I will just say - hot, amazing, legendary bluegrass fiddler.

The mention happens in connection with a gig by Country Gazette at the Metro, members of which were Berline, former Kentucky Colonels Roland White on guitar and Roger Bush on bass, and Alan Munde on banjo. I don't have time to try to hunt down when Country Gazette would have played those gigs, but let's say ca. first half of August 1973. Let's also imagine that the info about Berline playing with OAITW comes from the man himself. I take "recently" to suggest that the gig with Berline was either in June when OAITW was briefly out east, or July back in the Bay Area (with Vassar). We'd have to triangulate around Berline's movements as a next step at getting closer to a specific date, but I don't have time to do that. If anyone else wants to, please report back!

In the meantime, just another American musical legend with a Spudfactor of 1, though I can't pin the metadata around this "shared stage" event with any precision.

My very old image of the relevant VV reportage below. Is that Win95? The wheels do turn slowly ...

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Garcia-Saunders with Guest Doug Sahm, ca. December 1972

Clearing out old paper files of stuff, found this piece by John Swenson about Doug Sahm:

Swenson, John. 197305. The Psychedelic Cowboy Makes His Move. Crawdaddy (May): 65-70.

After narrating the good time on 11/23/72 in Austin, Sahm continues
Then we went back up to Frisco an' did it up at Keystone with Tom Fogerty where Jerry does that jam thing. We kinda learned a few tunes an' said we'll go see whut this audience loos lahk, makin' that trip 'n it was jes that monster same reaction. [He started to sing: "Well, it's not love ..."] Y'know, there's the Berkeley freaks, they dig it y'know an' it was weird because ah ain't played Frisco in years man, 'sbeen ages (Swenson 1973, 68).

By my reckoning, Tom Fogerty never played with The Group in 1973, though that's not 100% established. So the likely dates for this event are the following:
  • 12/6/72 or 12/7/72 - note that we have some eyewitness recollections from one of these shows of Sarah Fulcher being around. Like Sahm, she was a Texan with plenty of San Antonio time. Not sure that makes Sahm more or less likely (or doesn't change my estimate) for these nights, but there you go.
  • 12/20/72 or 12/21/72 - the only other JGMS Keystone Berkeley gigs in the window.
So, not sure the dates, but wanted to pin these here the best I could.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Between the Bottom Lines (Lennon and Garcia at the Bottom Line, November 5, 1974) (Guest post by Scott Raile)

[note: for a very long time it has been known that John Lennon saw Jerry at the Bottom Line, and various accounts of a meeting, possible sit-in, as well as the date of this encounter have been given over the years. Historian Scott Raile nailed it down as November 5, 1974 in comments to a post of mine about the early show that night. Over the years, I had heard tell of a recording made from Lennon's table, capturing him commentating the gig, but had never been able to put ears around it. In late 2021, monte_dym posted this recording –from the previously uncirculated late show-- to his soundcloud account, and a few months back David Minches brought this to my attention. Wow! (And thank you, David!) Monte supplied David with CD audio of the files, and as of today they are circulating as shnid-163367 in the usual places. I have invited Scott to put some context around all of this, hence this first-ever JGMF guest post. Thanks to all involved! –ed.]

Between the Bottom Lines

Guest post by Scott Raile

In October of 2015, noted Beatles historian Chip Madinger published his book LENNONOLOGY: Strange Days Indeed, a work that is still recognized as the ultimate biography of post-Beatles John Lennon (and Yoko Ono), an immensely detailed day-by-day chronology of Lennon's life from 1966-1980. I was fortunate enough to have my name on the cover as Chip's co-author, the culmination of 15 years of arduous research and writing, debate and discussion. So, to a handful of people around the world, I am known, thanks to LENNONOLOGY, as a Beatles historian.

 But we are all multitudes, aren't we? None of us is one-dimensional, and everyone has multiple areas of interest and/or expertise, even if most people only see one or two of those aspects. What most Beatle fans who know my name don't realize is that, while I was busy writing my chunks of LENNONOLOGY, more often than not the Grateful Dead was playing in the background. They're my second-favorite band, and my obsession with "learning all I can" about my interests definitely extends to them.

I love it when my interests collide. Circles within circles within circles: Paul McCartney writes a James Bond theme song, or George Harrison pops up in the middle of THE LIFE OF BRIAN. So, even though I wanted to get every detail of Lennon's life nailed down correctly in the book, there was one date I was truly determined to nail down: The night John Lennon went to a Jerry Garcia show.

We didn't have much of a roadmap. Every previous Lennon biography was silent on the matter, even as most of the Garcia biographies mentioned it. As I dug deeper into it, the "facts" presented didn't sit right with me. The Garcia biographies placed the encounter in April of 1975 during Jerry's run at the Bottom Line in New York. But that made no sense. John and Yoko had been separated from September of 1973 until February of 1975 (Lennon's infamous "lost weekend"). But after their reunion (and Yoko's almost-immediate pregnancy), John kept a very low profile, and all but disappeared in 1975, as much as a Beatle can disappear. Hanging out in the clubs in April 1975 was possible, of course, but unlikely. And that's when I started to focus on November of 1974, another timeframe that Jerry played at the Bottom Line and one that made much more sense for Lennon's biography.

November 1974 was a "between the lines" moment for John Lennon. He had spent July and August of that year recording the album WALLS AND BRIDGES, and a goodly chunk of September and October on an extensive promotional jag for the album, the most extensive promotion he ever did for one. By November, the buzz around the record was wearing off, and John occupied his time hanging out with his new friend Elton John, and trying to rekindle his deep friendship with George Harrison, who was touring America that month.

John's personal life was "between the lines" as well; his separation from Yoko was coming to an end, as the couple were just beginning their negotiations to reconcile. That also meant that John's relationship with May Pang (his interim companion) was coming to an end. In May's 1983 memoir, she wrote vaguely of a photo of John with a well-known groupie that was published in a music trade magazine, a magazine that John bought all the local copies of in a futile attempt to keep May from seeing the photo.

And that's where the circles converge. While digging through endless copies of Cashbox magazine for LENNONOLOGY, Chip turned up the infamous photo (reproduced here). But more importantly for our purposes, the caption spelled it out loud and clear: here's John Lennon attending a Jerry Garcia show last Tuesday. HUZZAH. The hard work paid off and all had been revealed. At least we assumed "all had been revealed"; after all, Jerry played two shows that night. Which one did John attend? We assumed it was the late show, based on recollections from the band.

One of the greatest things about being a historian is how, even after decades, things still just keep popping up. A film clip, a photo, a recording that we don't think exists (or may not have even happened) suddenly shows up, in brilliant Technicolor, and all of a sudden we have to re-assume our assumptions and re-think our thoughts. The world of the Beatles and the Grateful Dead are especially rich in this respect. You would think that, after 50 or 60 years, everything that could be discovered has been discovered. And then all of a sudden a photo shows up that you've never seen before, and the wonder is renewed.

And that is just what has happened here. For decades, the early show from November 5, 1974 has circulated, but we were pretty sure John attended the late show. But the late show had never shown up. And if it did, then so what? Would any Lennon fan care? Is it worth collecting just because he's in the audience? Do Lennon fans snap up that live Bob Marley album just because John and Ringo are in the audience? Do you collect every 1974 episode of "The Odd Couple" just because John was in the studio audience of one of them when it was taped? What are the limits of collecting? Where do you draw the line? I wanted to hear the late show just because I love Jerry. But who in the Beatles world would care?

Fortunately, all of that speculation has come to a sudden and spectacular end. I was thrilled out of my mind when JGMF sent me this show, because I wanted to hear some more 1974 Jerry. But imagine my sheer elation when, towards the end of the show, we can hear, clearly and unequivocally, John Lennon himself commenting on the show. At first, we hear him wittily calling the show like a sportscaster ("ten down and three to go!"), lapsing slightly into a Howard Cosell-like description of the event (which makes sense since John and Howard were hanging out in the fall of 1974). We hear him tell the taper that he loves bootlegs (which he did), and then critique the performance as a fellow musician, noting how a song had dragged in the middle but then got saved at the end. Considering how tumultuous his personal life was at that point (and how negatively some of Jerry's band members recalled the meeting), I fully expected John to be drunk and obnoxious at that show, but I am thrilled to hear just the opposite: he's lucid, funny and just another guy hanging out at a Jerry show.

Unless another unknown tape pops up, we'll never know directly how John or Jerry reacted to their encounter that night; the current record shows both of them as being silent on this topic. But from a historian's point of view, the story has come full-circle; from vague stories placed in April 1975 to "we have a tape and Lennon is even on it," we have closed the gap from hearsay to concrete evidence. In the grand scheme of things, it's not enormous; we've added another 90 minutes to our understanding of Jerry, and another 60 seconds to our understanding of John. But history is little more than an enormous jigsaw puzzle that wants putting together, and now we have one more tiny piece to put into place.

Saturday, December 31, 2022

JGB at the Auditorium Music Hall, Memphis, TN, November 18, 1975 (CXL)

Here's an ad from the Memphis Commercial Appeal billing Jerry Garcia Band (JGB) at the Auditorium Music Hall in Memphis, TN, November 18, 1975.

Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN), November 2, 1975, p. 5

The show must have been canceled, because I have never seen other record of this *and* the Garcia Band played the Keystone Berkeley this night.

I have a question about the venue, for which no address is given.

For his only Memphis gig outside the Dead on March 28, 1976, Garcia played what we list as South Hall, Ellis Auditorium, Memphis, TN. (see also JGBP). Is this the same room? I think so, as we give capacity for that space at 2,200 and the ad says 2,000 tickets available.

Would just love to hear any thoughts. In the meantime, I think I am going to list this with the same venue.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Good Old Boys at Keystone: June 14, 1974

I  just want to pin down some details of the Good Old Boys sets from June 13 and June 14, 1974, opening for Great American String Band. These come from tape that I have been able to audition but that is not supposed to circulate. Sometimes, a "hush-hush" approach is necessary to protect the innocent. That's not the case here - just gratuitous hoarding. I don't make the rules.

Good Old Boys
2119 University Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94704
June 14, 1974 (Friday)

--early set main--
Blue Grass Breakdown (1)
Sittin' On Top Of The World (2)
Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (And Loud, Loud Music)
Deep Elem Blues
(3) I'll Never Make You Blue (4)
Jesus Loves His Mandolin Player #2 (5)
Pistol Packin' Mama (6)
Wild Side Of Life (7)
Uncle Pen
Raw Hide (8)
--early set encore--
Colored Aristocracy (9)
Back Up And Push

--late set--
Goin' Down The Road Feelin' Bad (10, 11)
Nine Pound Hammer (12)
Little Girl And The Dreadful Snake
Used To Be
Ragtime Annie
Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms (13)
Jesus Love His Mandolin Player #34 (14, 15)
Crooked Judge

! Band: Good Old Boys
! Lineup: Frank Wakefield - mandolin, vocals;
! Lineup: David Nelson - -ac-g, vocals;
! Lineup: Robert Earl Davis - banjo;
! Lineup: Pat Campbell - bass;
! Lineup: Fred Weisz - fiddle;
! Guest: Richard Greene - fiddle (early show encore);
! Guest: David Grisman - mandolin (early show encore).


! map:


! reference: Pistol Packin' Mama (Round RX-109 / RX-LA597-G, March 1976).

! metadata: None of the advertisements indicate separately charged early and late shows, but I think that's what happened on this Friday night at Keystone.

! (1) David Nelson: "Thank you. We're the Good Old Boys. We're the Good New Boys, actually now, we've got a new banjo player ... uhhh what is his name anyway? Bob Davis. We've been stealing musicians from other bands", etc. FW: "Here's one now that David wrote about fifteen years ago. It's called 'If I Miss You On The Matress, I'll See You On The Springs'. [crowd laughs] I had to say something funny."

! (2) Frank Wakefield: "I'd like to close ... really we're almost up here. We've got some very special guests here. And I'm not gonna introduce them right on the stage [inaudible]. Fred Weisz worked with him in 1960. Dave Nelson. Nelson:  "Pat Campbell. ... This guy over here ... from New York, hails from Manhattan New York. Frank Wakefield." NB they forget to introduce the banjo player, though I guess they just had (see note 1).

! song: "Deep Elem Blues": The GOB version is like the old Jerry & Sara versions and like the JGAB ones, which are based on the Red Allen/Frank Wakefield arrangement.

! (3) FW: "Here's one now that David wrote a long time ago."

! (4) DN, paraphrased/truncated: Right now Frank's gonna do one of his mandolin tunes Jesus loves up to bout 36. What we want to do is record them all at once. #2. FW, paraphrased: "Hey maybe I'll change. How many folks was in here last night? Can I see your hands. Don't want to repeat myself. Song we did last night. ... some slow parts and some real fast parts." More chatter. NB that they did, indeed play Jesus #2 on 6/13/74. More cross-validation, not that these dates needed it.

! (5) Nelson: [inaudible] "you can lock me up in jail, but you can't keep my face from breakin' out."

! (6): FW: "One that David wrote about fifteen years ago in San Quentin."

! (7) Fred Herrera: "David, we're running late." Then something like "let's do a nice ending" or "let's do a last number"

! (8) Nelson: "Thank you, thank you very much" and crowd cheers indicate this is the end of the set.

! guest: early show encore with Richard Greene (fiddle), David Grisman (mandolin).

! personnel: With Dawg playing, and if Nelson's still onstage, this might be the only known instance of them playing together (check Fillmore East GD 1970).

! (9) Someone says "We got one here called 'Back Up And Push'. Hope you all like it. I don't recognize the speaker's voice. Not Richard Greene, Grisman, Wakefield or Nelson. Richard Greene: "Hope you all like, uh, country music. 'Cause if you do, we get to disappoint you by playing other stuff. But not for awhile." Note that this whole "encore" piece is one continuous piece of tape. So the guy who announces "Back Up And Push" is onstage playing, I assume one of the GOB guys not named Nelson or Wakefield.

! song: "Back Up And Push" sounds a little like the melody to "This Land Is Your Land" and, I hate to say it, in places, like "Copacabana". Regardless, it's credited to Bill Monroe. is an amazing version by Bill Monroe, The Father of Bluegrass (tm).

! (10) unknown speaker: "Thank you thank you, the Good Old Boys." Sounds like the end of an evening.

! (11) Nelson: "We're gonna have some strange guests, but I can't tell ya who they is. Right now we got over on the fiddle on the right hand side, Fiddlin' Fred Weisz. On the banjo, stolen directly from Western Union, (Frank: "The hills of Manhattan, New York") Bobby Davis. All right. He's never played with us before. He played with us about five minutes in the back room there, so we have to work out our arrangements onstage. I think he's doin' pretty good. Then uhhh I'm not gonna introduce. On the bass, another musician stolen from Western Union, Pat Campbell. He's doin' real good too. He's doesn't know any of our songs either. (Frank: "He probly wrote 'em.") But he probably wrote 'em, yeah. And on this little red instrument --whaddya call that please?-- (Frank: "Ukelele.") Ukelele, yeah. That thing's falling apart. I keep worrying about it. He puts his finger underneath the binding on the frets and it snaps off every set, little pieces ... bridge is on backwards ... From the hills of Manhattan, New York, Frank Wakefield." Frank Wakefield: "This feller on the git-tar here, he's from the hills of Tennesse. I believe you're from [inaudible] Actually, the fact of the matter is, he's from a big rock group, like Jerry is ... y'know, when he plays, he plays super banjo too, he plays super acoustic, David Nelson, from Easy Riders of the Purple Sage. Give him a hand, he'd appreciate it. ... I'm mad at y'all now, I'm mad at y'all 'cause he got a better hand than I did. I feel bad now." [woman in audience says "Nobody loves you, nobody [inaudible"] Frank, responding: "So, since she said that, here's one called 'If I Miss You On The Mattress, I'll See You On The Springs'. [laughter] Here's one that David wrote when he was with the Purple Sage, and still is."

! (12) FW: "Here's another one that David wrote a long time ago. If you folks know anything about folk music. David wrote [inaudible] he wrote one here a long time ago. What sparked that?" Nelson: "When I saw my first snake."

! (13) long banter. David Nelson: "Thank you. Thank you. A little ragged, but that's all right. Half of us don't even know the words to these songs here. But this one doesn't have any words, so that's OK too. Frank's gonna do a solo mandolin tune. He writes these mandolin tunes. I am not supposed to talk while he's tuning. He doesn't remember words ... he doesn't know what necessary means, for instance. And he says to people ..." etc. etc. while FW is tuning. "But he remembers all these tunes, these long classical tunes that he wrote." FW tuning and rap. "Last set I did two harmonies. Gonna do [something else] this set." The structure here makes me thing these were separately billed early and late shows.

! (14) Frank: "We're gonna do a thing now where a guy by the name of Robert Hunter wrote a song and David, me and David arranged that and we'll do some very special stuff on the mandolin and the git-tar. And it'll prolly be on this new record, I guess, too, right?" (Nelson: "Yeah.") And it's called the 'Crooked Judge'."

! (15) This is some great context. Fred Herrera must have an intercom from his little room, and you hear it click on and a guy says, in a hushed, golf-announcer voice, "Dave. Dave. (Nelson: "Yeah?") Hey. We're startin' to run kinda late. Two tunes or so. Then someone, it sounds like Marmaduke, says "Hey, uh, Freddie says [inaudible] late." Then "[inaudible, maybe "The man returns"], there's a hoot and cheer from the audience. Frank: "So we'll get David to do that judge song first. ... If you all saw the concert we did last Saturday, we did this'un pretty much the same way." NB that implies a gig on 6/8/74.

Good Old Boys at Keystone: June 13, 1974

I  just want to pin down some details of the Good Old Boys sets from June 13-14, 1974, opening for Great American String Band. These come from tape that I have been able to audition but that is not supposed to circulate. Sometimes, a "hush-hush" approach is necessary to protect the innocent. That's not the case here - just gratuitous hoarding. I don't make the rules.

Good Old Boys
2119 University Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94704
June 13, 1974 (Thursday)
opening for Great American String Band

--set I--
ambience (1)
Deep Elem Blues
(2)  Earl's Breakdown
(3) I'll Never Make You Blue
(4) Jesus Loves This Mandolin Player #2
On Top Of Old Smokey
Pistol Packin' Mama (5)
Raw Hide

--set II--
ambience (6)
(7) Jesus Loves His Mandolin Player #1
Little Girl And The Dreadful Snake (8)
Bill Cheatham (9)
T For Texas (Blue Yodel No. 1) (10)
(11) Teardrops In My Eyes (12)
New Camptown Races
(13) Uncle Pen
(14) Sally Goodin (15)
A Voice From On High (16)
Back Up And Push [1:59] [0:03]

! ACT1: Good Old Boys
! Lineup: Frank Wakefield - mandolin, ?vocals?;
! Lineup: David Nelson - guitar, vocals;
! Lineup: Fred Weisz - fiddle;
! Lineup: Sandy Rothman - banjo;
! Lineup: Pat Campbell - ac-bass.


! setlist: I am confused about the structure of the festivities at Keystone this Thursday, June 13, 1974. Need to write it out at greater length than this info file will allow.

! expost: Philip Elwood, "From country to jazz – a snap," San Francisco Examiner, June 14, 1974, p. 27. He spells fiddle player's name Wiesz, but it must be former Greenbriar Boy Fred Weisz, who had bipolar disorder and might have been a street person around Everett, WA.

! song: traditionals: s1t02 "Deep Elem Blues"; s1t06 "On Top Of Old Smokey" (Trad., arr Wakefield); s2t10 "Sally Goodin"; count: 3.

! song: country: s1t04 "I'll Never Make You Blue" (Ray Cline, Charlie Cline); s1t07 "Pistol Packin' Mama" (Al Dexter); s2t06 "T For Texas (Blue Yodel No. 1)" (Jimmie Rodgers); count: 3.

! song: bluegrass: s1t03 "Earl's Breakdown" (Earl Scruggs); s1t08 "Raw Hide"; s2t02 "unknown-GOB19740613-01"; s2t04 "Little Girl And The Dreadful Snake" (Bill Monroe); s2t05 "Bill Cheatham"; s2t07 "Teardrops In My Eyes" (Red Allen, Tommy Sutton); s2t09 "Uncle Pen" (Bill Monroe); s2t11 "A Voice From On High" (Bill Monroe, Bessie Lee Mauldin); s2t12 "Back Up and Push"; count: 9.

! song: Wakefield originals: s1t05 "Jesus Loves This Mandolin Player #2"; s2t03 "Jesus Loves His Mandolin Player #1"; s2t08 "New Camptown Races"; count: 3.

! (1) Frank: "Actually, Fred Weisz and Jerry Garcia wrote this one."
! (2) Someone says "Bluegrass Stomp", and Nelson says "Yeah, how 'bout 'Bluegrass Stomp'?" Not sure what Wakefield says, but David says "Let's pick one." I think Sandy suggests "Earl's Breakdown", Nelson affirms, and Wakefield introduces it. "Here's one where Sandy does some ... if y'all ever seen a [inaudible] player uh accordion player twist some keys, he's gonna do this for ya." ?Sandy?: "Frank does a little fancy key-twistin' on this one, too." DN, laughing, "Watch his hands!"

! (3) Frank: "Here's another song that Sandy wrote, about his sweetheart. She broke his heart, and he's gonna break her darn jaw now, right?"

! (4) Nelson: "Thank you. Right now, Frank's gonna do a solo mandolin tune. I don't know if of you have him heard do it before. He writes these mandolin tunes that are like classical music. They sound like classical music, but not really, I mean, it's hillbilly classical. And he's got about 34 or 6 tunes written out, and they all used to be called "Symphony #94", since that was the only classical piece he'd ever heard, by Beethoven. ... 'Jesus Loves His Mandolin Player #2'." FW gives an explanation. Talks about NYC Ballet Orchestra.

! (5) Frank: "Thank ya. Now we're gonna play one called the 'Berkeley Waltz', then we're gonna take a little intersection [sic] and we're gonna come back and play some more for ya." Nelson, to FW: "Do you know that that word means? What's that word mean?" Frank: "Oh yeah, I forgot what that word means."

! (6) Frank: "I'm sorry, about six months. Can you hear it way back in the back alright? You need more volume? Is that loud enough now? [crowd guy: "'s'all right!"] Bless you, thank you."

! setlist: s2t02 is solo mandolin. It may be one of the Jesus songs, but I just don't know. Even Neil Rosenberg was stumped!

! (7) Frank: "That's an 8-string harmony, now we're gonna play some grass for you." David Grisman, I need to borrow your mandolin real fast. I just broke a string. David? Where you is?" Ballet Opera NYC. Gimme that mandolin!

! (8) FW: "Thanks a lot. Now we're gonna turn Fred loose, who's a super good fiddle player."

! (9) Frank: "Thanks a lot. Now we gonna do somethin' where this super good bass player, Pat, he's really good on the bass", etc.

!  (10) FW: "I'd like to thank David Grisman for loaning me this mandolin. Thank you."

! (11) FW: "Now here's one that David has on record. Him and the Purple Sage Dust."

! (12) FW: "Here's one that David here wrote a long time ago. One called 'New Camptown'. What inspired you to write it, David?" Nelson, off-mic: "Who you talkin' to?"

!  (13) FW: "Here's one that Fred Weisz wrote a long time ago, that he does on the fiddle, called 'Uncle Fred'."

! (14) unknown speaker (not FW or DN): "Here's a little Sally Goodin, we'll get Fred to play a little piece of pie."

! (15) Freddie Herrera: "David ... David ... David ... David, We're starting to run late." FW: "We feel so unnecessary." Nelson: "Hey, what's unnecessary mean?" Freddie: "David, can you hear me?" And they answer with "I Hear A Voice A Callin'!" Perfect!

! (16) Freddie: "Dave. Dave. Can you hear me? Dave? Dave. I'm down here. We are starting to run late, we have time for maybe one more tune at the most." DN, to band: "Oh, we have one more tune."