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Monday, June 21, 2010

JGMS: October 3, 1971, Frost Ampitheater, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA

Garcia and Saunders played the Pamoja Jazz Concert on October 3, 1971 at Frost Ampitheater, sharing a bill with Big Black and the Bobby Hutcherson - Harold Land Quintet. Love that jazz billing.

Anyway, for a long time I have been aware of a show review by Paul Grushkin from the Stanford Daily a few days later (1). I think I learned of it in the wonderful (though in need of an update!) Dodd and Weiner bibliography (2). I have been after it, but Stanford doesn't seem to play nicely on interlibrary loan and the Daily doesn't seem to have been sent to many other university libraries. Anyway, with the help of Corry and another generous soul I have gotten a hold of it. [update: now available online - ain't progress grand?] I had been hoping for some setlist information, but alas there was none to be found.

Instead, there are a few other tidbits, both of which appear in the clipping below, which is discussing Garcia and Saunders.

From the back, I wonder who this Charlie Conn is? At first I thought it might be a rare case of Jerry playing with a bassist other than John Kahn, but the homonymy --five dollar word alert-- of "Conn" and "Kahn" makes me wonder if Charlie is John misunderstood or if some Pranksters were afoot or something.

Of greater interest is this: Garcia and Saunders "played a memorable week-long stand last April at the Matrix." Now, the meaning of "last" in this context in American English is a little fuzzy, so this could be April 1971 or April 1970. April of 1971 is booked with astonishing solidity by the Grateful Dead. April 1970 hardly seems more likely, based on the existing state of our knowledge. Not only is the month fully booked, but this seems still to have been the Wales period, with known Wales/Garcia billings happening and no Garcia/Saunders ones for another six months.

So whatever Grushkin is referring to here, it doesn't seem to be April 1970 or 1971. What could he be referring to instead?

I'd like to propose May 1971, so that when Grushkin said "last April" he meant "last May" in the sense of "the last May that passed [1971]" and not "May of the last calendar year [1970]". Why? Well, looking at my Garcia spreadsheet, May 1971 is among the most sparsely populated non-coma months, and yet we know that the man was a pickin' fool at this time.

After the GD Fillmore East run that ends 4/29, I have a JGMS listing on 5/11 at the Matrix, a three-night JGMS stand at Keystone Korner from 5/20-22, another JGMS at the Korner on 5/26, and then the seemingly pretty wacky Winterland shows at the end of the month. To reiterate, that's a suspiciously empty month for live gigs.

Not sure what else he was doing (e.g., working on Skullfuck?), but it's entirely possible that there were more Garcia/Saunders gigs during May 1971. There is certainly room in Jerry's calendar (as far as is known) for a weeklong stand at the Matrix. The alternative may perhaps be that Grushkin is referring to the multinight run at the Keystone Korner, which might transmogrify into a weeklong stand at the Matrix (the previous month) under the right ... conditions. So I'll keep my eyes open for more in May.

Update: I have researched the last few months of Matrix gigs in the SFC, and I don't find anything that fits the bill. I have to check the Examiner. But this still remains a little bit of a head-scratcher.

Caveats, criticisms, questions, codicils, cavils and other commentary most certainly welcomed.

- (1) Grushkin, Paul D. 1971. Garcia, Saunders Impressive at Frost. Stanford Daily, October 5, 19715.
- (2) Dodd, David G., and Robert G. Weiner. 1997. The Grateful Dead and the Deadheads: An Annotated Bibliography. Music Reference Collection no. 60. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

! venue:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

NRPS: January 19, 1970, Pauley Ballroom, UC Berkeley

My Blackberry takes the world's worst pictures (see below), and there was neither scanner nor photocopier handy as I was going through a handful of Berkeley Tribes from late 1969-early 1970 today. But I found a reference to a NRPS gig on January 19, 1970 at Pauley Ballroom, UC Berkeley.

Scan from Berkeley Tribe, January 16-23, 1970, p. 28.

Here's the translation:

DANCE CONCERT: Benefit for Center for Educ. Change. New Rider [sic] of Purple Sage, Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band, lights by Dr. [illegible]. Pauley Ballroom, UCB [then either price or time].

Kind of funny that I would stumble into this today, since Corry has just posted about Pauley Ballroom and since we are discussing (here, here and here) the paucity of NRPS gigs from December 1969 possibly into April 1970.

So here we have a possible gig in January 1970. The GD were in Portland, OR on 1/18/70 and Jerry would apparently go down to LA to record the "Love Scene Improvisations" for Antonioni's Zabriskie Point on 1/20/70. In the past I would have scoffed at the possibility of a Bay Area Garcia gig on 1/19. But the more I learn about this guy's workaholism, the more I come to believe in the possibility of such things.

We have no earthly idea if it actually happened, of course. But if it did, then
1) we have a new NRPS gig;
2) we have a NRPS gig in the middle of what is apparently, and otherwise, a very long performing hiatus between December 1969 and, maybe, April 1970; and
3) Garcia was a nut. What's three separate gigs, in three separate idioms, in cities a thousand miles apart, in 72 hours?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

jug band note

Probably a reference to Mother McCree's, but this from a ca. late 1970 - early 1971 interview with Jerry by one Frank Fedele, who asks him about what he was doing before GD. Jerry says "We had a jug band together, me and Bob Weir and Pigpen and we worked once or twice a year. I mean, nobody fucking hires jug bands."

Seems obvious, if a bit hyperbolic, but I thought it was worth pointing out that there may not be that much MMUJC stuff out there in part because they may not have performed that much.

-->Fedele, Frank. 1971. Fuck No, We’re Just Musicians: An Interview With Jerry Garcia. Organ 1, 8 (June): 14-15, 22 (quote from p. 14).

GD: September 11-12, 1970: Pepperland, San Rafael (POSSIBLE) (NOW DISCONFIRMED)


I don't have tremendous confidence that this ever happened, but since Corry has educated me a little about booking practices and such, the fact that it's a Friday-Saturday that is otherwise unfilled in GD/Garcia chronologies makes me more open to it.

In a July 1970 Billboard article on Pepperland ("scheduled to open on Labor Day Weekend") , venue operators Nat Shind and Ben Blatt report that they have booked the Grateful Dead for the September 11-12 and 18-19 weekends. They also note that the band planned to record for a new live album, which is presumably what became "Skullfuck" and featured spring 1971 recordings.

We know the dates are at least half wrong, with the GD at the Fillmore East on September 18-19. But my spreadsheet shows September 11-12, 1970 to be an open weekend for Garcia, so it certainly seems possible. I'll file it as such.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

TJS deletion: 7/5/71

slip added a listing for NRPS 7/5/71 at Fillmore West, based on this poster from Wolfgang's Vault. But the poster is clearly for the movie "Fillmore" and has been mis-interpreted and it has now been deleted.

I will be tagging this with "TJS-deletion." Since there's no other way to track what's been cut, I'll track them here in the hopes that TJS doesn't accidentally re-enter them.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Godawful Palo Alto Bluegrass Ensemble

Pete Wernick recounts spending some time in the Summer of 1963 out West, playing banjo with Jerry Garcia (mandolin!) and David Nelson in an outfit called The Godawful Palo Alto Bluegrass Ensemble.

I don't recall seeing this name in the historiography, though as I have noted before I am not particularly up on the pre-GD stuff. So I thought I'd put it down here for the (my!) record, as it were.

JGB: December 31, 1975, Keystone, Berkeley: who was drumming?

update: see also my "Jerry's New Year's Eve" post.
I am not the big fan of the 12/31/75 JGB show that most people seem to be. I think they are seduced by the date, the long-circulating and high quality recording, and the guests and unusual setlist. I find the show sloppy, with Nicky's drunkenness especially painful.

But that's not what this is about. I want to know who was drumming? Apparently Tutt had en Elvis obligation, but I have seen conflicting information on who it actually was.

  • Corry's post on JGB 12/31/75 says that it was Greg Errico.
  • I read something a few weeks ago (can't remember what, now) that it was Bill Vitt, but he told me in email that it was not him.
  • The "Grateful Dead Book of Lists" feature in Golden Road no. 13 (Winter 1987), p. 33, compiled by some guy named Corry (must be a different guy! :)) indicates that it was Mickey Hart.
  • The Jerry Site diversifies its risk: "Entire show with Mickey Hart. Greg Errico replaces Ron Tutt on drums, who was absent due to his touring as the drummer for Elvis Presley."

Anyone who was there able to weigh-in, or is there evidence that I am missing? In short, who was drumming that night?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

1966: Darby Slick et al. "Jammin' With Garcia"

Chapter 5 of Darby Slick's autobiography, I guess (1), is entitled "Jammin' With Garcia" and recounts a Friday evening jam session, ca. 1966, in the Mission District. These one-offs are inherently interesting, of course, but especially interesting to me is the question of how often they occurred. I had always bought into the mythology that the GD (and its personnel, especially Jerry) were playing around pretty much all the time in the Halcyon days before the Summer of Love (TM). Corry Arnold has asserted that this probably happened a lot less than the mythology would have us believe, for example calling notions about frequent free concerts in Golden Gate Park "sadly wishful". Slick's vignette doesn't get at the question of frequency, but it does provide a first-person account of one free-form gig in these very early days of the hippie scene. The jam was apparently some sort of party to raise funds for something, perhaps the Mime Troupe. The crowd was SRO and flowing outside, where as many as 50 people were trying to get in.

I will just make a few notes about this as extracted from Slick's account. I'll focus especially on personnel, what they played, location, and date.

  • Jerry Garcia: electric guitar;
  • Bill Kreutzmann: drums;
  • ?Peter Albin?: bass;
  • ... joined by ...
  • Jerry Slick: drums;
  • Darby Slick: guitar.

  • "we all started to jam the blues, almost the only music we could launch into with no more discussion than 'It's in "A".'"
  • ca. 45 minutes

  • Mission District
  • in a loft
  • Slick parked three blocks away, across the driveway of a cement company
  • MJB coffee plant nearby

Date: I have no idea; a Friday night ca. 1966.

I don't know much about Slick, but he certainly writes glowingly of this night and of Jerry: "There was magic in the room that night, and though I have played in many jam sessions over the years, that is the one I remember with the most love, the most respect. ... I was left with a conviction that Jerry Garcia is a man of great spirit."

(1) Slick, Darby. 1991. Don't You Want Somebody to Love: Reflections on the San Francisco Sound. Berkeley: SLG Books. {pdf of chapter 5}

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Where were the NRPS in late 1969 - early 1970?

Light Into Ashes notes the following about the April 17-18, 1970 NRPS billing:

these were the first known shows Garcia had played with NRPS since November '69

The Jerry Site does list shows on March 13 and March 14, while the NRPS concert history lists 2/7/70. I need to investigate those dates further.

Still, LIA's observation is one worth emphasizing: there is no known (to me!) NRPS activity during December 1969 or January 1970 (well, maybe 1/19/70), and at most sporadic activity through March 1970.

I find this puzzling, so I'll pose the question: where were those guys and what were they doing? Did the GD's studio work crowd out or swallow up everyone's efforts? Were the GD working on their acoustic sets, leaving less time for Jerry to work on pedal steel (which is a variant of the same question)? Were the New Riders gigging without Jerry, but I have just failed to note it (entirely possible)? Something else?

I'd love to hear thoughts or to get some info on the whereabouts of Marmaduke and Nelson during this timeframe.