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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Reconstruction: August 10, 1979, Temple Beautiful, San Francisco, CA

I don't think I have blogged much about Reconstruction, the jazz-R&B-soul-funk-rock-disco outfit formed by John Kahn that performed in 1979 and that regularly "featured" Jerry Garcia on guitar. This is one of Garcia's most unusual side trips. It features lots of tunes that he had never done before and would never do again, with my favorites being instrumental numbers such as "Welcome to the Basement" (Saunders/Moore), "The Mohican and the Great Spirit" (Horace Silver), "Fast Tone" (Tony Saunders/Ed Neumeister), "Nessa" (?composer?), "Linda Chicana" (Mark Levine), "Sama Layuca" (McCoy Tyner) and "Another Star" (Stevie Wonder). It is also unusual in that this was Jerry's only relatively regular post-1975 excursion that didn't have his name on it. I have a lot to say on that general issue, but I'll save it for another time.

This particular show, on August 10, 1979 at the Temple Beautiful in San Francisco is one of my favorites.  Lost Live Dead has reported in characteristically informative fashion on the venue itself. It's a fascinating story. This show holds a special place in my heart, though, both because my friends Julie and John Anzaldo hooked up for good on this occasion and, especially, because the band ends the show with one of my favorite half-hours of Garcia music ever. Starting with McCoy Tyner's "Sama Layuca", they drift into a very spare space for a couple of minutes before Garcia starts picking some beautiful melodic stuff that morphs into one of the early Jerry versions of Dear Prudence. I used to say that the melodic passage contained Jerry's most beautiful stuff since the 2/18/71 "beautiful jam" between Dark Star and Wharf Rat, but I eschew such hyperbole here.

Bob Menke's tape is the best of the two circulating, though as I understand it a new transfer of the Phil Jaret tape may be in the offing, which is good news.

But I digress. My real purpose for posting was to seek identification of the unknown song that appears toward the end of the song.  I confess that I can't recall whether it's Ron Stallings or Gaylord Birch singing, but whoever it is it's the same guy who handles Reconstruction vocals besides Jerry. Anyway, it sounds kind of like an R&B standard, so I am hoping it'll be easy to identify.

Here's a link to a 25-second mp3 from the start of the song:  Unknown song link.

I have just been compiling a list of tunes that are represented among circulating Garcia on the Side recordings but that remain unidentified. So I expect that this will be a series of sorts.


  1. Well, I'm stumped on the name of the song.

    Generally the other vocalist in Reconstruction was saxophonist Ron Stallings.

  2. No answer about the mystery song, but a suggestion...
    Though your blog's mostly on various dates & mysteries, posts like this one and the 1-15-72 review make me think perhaps you should write more posts about great spots of music in Garcia shows....
    As far as I know there's not much online in the way of JGB-related recommendations (the way there is for the Dead). Given the wealth of Garcia shows (even in just the '70s), it's nice to hear about the special moments in relatively unknown shows....

  3. Right, Ron Stallings was the other vocalist. Not sure how I spaced on that.

    LIA, I agree that there should be somewhere online where Jerry shows can be discussed ... a Jerry Garcia Listening Guide to go along with the GD one. I'll try to post intermittently as I listen, but can't do more than that. And I agree with whoever said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture -- hard to do, certainly for me!

  4. I think the unknown song is an original Ron Stallings song called So Far From Time, but I couldnt find any verification yet. Ron died in 2009. RIP

  5. By the way, I spent the summer of 79 in Marin County and saw 3 Dead shows and 4 Reconstruction shows including this one. This is the only show I ever made a recording of, but I haven't seen the master in 30 years. I think I know who has it so maybe I'll get it back in 2012.

  6. David, thank you so very much. I will try to follow your lead on the possible Stallings original (and, yes, RIP).

    I would love to hear another tape of this show, which is one of my favorites. Please let me know if you need any help!

  7. I went to this one, I think I sat upstairs where the choir may have been if it were a church, after the show tearing a poster off a telephone pole nearby...lost it in a fire in 97'...

  8. I was at the show and would love to hear it. What struck me about it was the way that whenever Jerry sang, people, especially teen girls, got up on their feet and into it, and when he wasn't singing, then not so much... first time I realized that there was this personality cult I guess.

  9. I think I was told at the time that Temple Beautiful was the place of Jim Jones People's Temple. Also I remember being told the horn section was from Tower of Power. I don't remember much else but it being an amazing show with the best Dear Prudence I ever heard. So glad I found this site, it was a show that I only recall as a dream.

    1. Anon, Temple Beautiful was at 1839 Geary, and Jim Jones' former People's Temple was next door at 1859 (it had previously been a "Masonic Temple"). So it wasn't far off, but they were two different places.


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