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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

JGB: early 1980s drummers and backup singers.

I posted some listening notes from the 10/13/82 JGB show at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz, CA. A priori, two things are particularly interesting about that show. First, it's the public debut of drummer Greg Errico with the Jerry Garcia Band in this particular stint (he had done a mini-tour with them in July 1980). There's much more to say about him and that. Second, there are no backup vocalists, as this was a ca. four-show interregnum between the departure of two female vocalists after the June '82 east coast tour and the arrival of Jacklyn LaBranch and DeeDee Dickerson on 10/24/82 at the River Theater in Guerneville, CA. (I'll do a post or two on that show as part of this thread, I hope.) (For some more backing vocalists talk with data relevant to what I'll post here, see this discussion of the personnel working the late '83 JGB tour.)

As as so often the case, Corry replied with knowledge that far exceeds that which is the present public "state of the art". All of this has been known by Corry all along, mind you, but it just never made the various leaps from him to what's currently publicly "known". So glad he is blogging so we can recover and extend all of this!

Anyway, he left a series of great comments, which I am going to try to respond to ad seriatim before I try to summarize where I think we are in terms of the early 80s drummers and backup singers. It's more complicated that one might think. In fact, these are among the last reasonably consequential Garcia mysteries from the 80s onward.
Comment 1:
Do you know anything about Jimmy Warren? Where he came from, what he did before, whether he ever did anything after? I don't.

Warren wasn't a guest star, he was in the JGB for 18 months and played dozens of shows. One of the biographers (Blair?) said "he had problems," but who knows what that meant.
Not much to go on. I would love to be able to talk to him, to learn more.

Here's Blair: "Electric pianist Jimmy Warren was, to put it delicately, sympathetic to Kahn's and Garcia's offstage behavior ... even John Kahn admitted that 'things got kind of out of control around then. Jimmy Warren was just sort of a friend. It didn't work out and it went on too long ...'" (Jackson 1999, 321). I believe he mostly played a Fender Rhodes. He came in with Melvin in January of 1981 (I believe "12/20/80" is just a mislabel of 12/20/79). He and Liz Stires were an item, so this band initially had both the Liz Stires-Jimmy Warren couple and the Essra Mohawk-Daoud Shaw couple. I doubt he was especially "problematic" in terms of personal issues among those within Garcia's orbit at that particular time. Blair continues on pp. 321-322 about the fact that Garcia was in pretty deep at this point. I don't know anything about his tenure except that TJS lists his last gig as September 7, 1982. So, yeah, 18 months, no flash in the pan.
Comment 2:
Essra Mohawk and Liz Stires were the vocalists from June 25 '81 (Santa Cruz) through Aug 25 '81 (Keystone PA).
I don't list this 8/25/81 show. Should I?

I have just checked on 5/30/81 and 6/25/81, and indeed there are no vocalists on the former and two female backing singers on the latter. So I'd say 6/25/81 is, as far as we currently have evidence, the return of backing vocalists to JGB after 2.5 years of having none.
Comment 2
Julie Stafford replaced Essra Mohawk starting on September 7, 1981 (Concord Pavilion). Stafford and Stiles [sic] were the singers through June 24 '82 (Capitol Theater, Passaic). 
Julie Stafford is completely missed by TJS. I know that she is credited for background vocals on "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" from the Run For the Roses album. I never knew that Essra was in for such a short time, really just a handful of shows. In fact, I am a little bit skeptical of this. I have to go back and check some stuff.

What's more, I know that Liz Stires left after the Mosque (Richmond, VA) show on 6/22/82. She was not there for the rest of the tour. I need to revisit tapes, but a review of the 6/23/82 Stanley Theater (Pittsburgh, PA) show (1) says that there were two keyboard players and one female vocalist.

What's also strange is that an eyewitness to the 10/24/82 River Theater (Guerneville, CA) show, which we know featured the return of female vocalists after the brief four-show interregnum of 10/13 and 10/21-23, thought that "Julie" was one of the singers. This was how Julie Stafford first came to my attention as someone who might have sung onstage with JGB, something which another band member from this time has confirmed. Update: that appears to have been reference to 5/31/82.

Upshot, I have some doubts about this particular time period. Corry, can you say more about how you came to this understanding?
Comment 3:
David (Daoud) Shaw was the drummer for the Jerry Garcia Band starting in January '81, and he remained the drummer through Aug 23 '81. [ed: Comment 4 says this was 8/25/81.]
I have always followed TJS and had Shaw in through June 1, 1981, which has always left open the question of who played the June-July-August shows. I am more than happy to fill Shaw's name into the drum slot here, but can I ask again about sourcing?
Comment 3:
The next JGB show [ed: after 8/23/81, implied by comment 2] was Sep 7 '81 at Concord Pavilion. Bill Kreutzmann played drums.For the three other Sept JGB shows (Sep 18 Keystone Berkeley, Sep 19-20 The Stone), Ron Tutt played drums. Tutt also played drums on the tour that started in Palo Alto on Oct 25 and headed East from Oct 31 (Philadelphia) through Nov 19 (Denver). On the Grateful Dead hotline, the tour was billed as "The Return Of Ron Tutt."
It absolutely blows my mind that it was billed this way, and that this has somehow been lost to history insofar as that is represented at TJS, etc. It also reconciles one little factoid which has been bugging me, which is that Ozzie Ahlers has said that Tutt played some shows after he left. These would be them, I guess.

I list Kreutzmann on 9/19/81 at the Stone, though that may have just been me following TJS. I did conclude that "[drummer] is an animal" in my listening notes.
Comment 3:
Bill Kreutzmann returned to the drum chair on Dec 17 '81 at Keystone Berkeley and seems to have held it through Jun '24 82. I have not absolutely confirmed that, however, and it's possible that there were subs at some show (Gregg Errico, Gaylord Birch, etc) or that someone else took over the drums entirely. I do know that Kreutzmann generally played drums at Bay Area shows during this period, because I asked anyone who went to a show. 
Yes, there is an old tape of 12/17/81 with audience chatter suggesting that Kreutzmann is in the house.  And, with you, I assume that there are some discontinuities or non-linearities kicking around from night to night.

So much for bullet-type responses to Corry's comments. What's the big picture?

First, we still have some meaningful gaps in our knowledge of who was on stage in the 1981-1983 period, especially. This is true in terms of drummers and backup singers.

Second, this is probably a case where lots of listening is required. I wish I were more perceptive in terms of being able to hear different drumming and singing styles, but I am not. Sometimes audience chatter and stage talk can reveal a thing or two.

Third, we may never be able to pin it all down. Much as I like knowing, not knowing is OK, too. Keeps some mystery in the whole thing.

Thanks for giving lots of food for thought, Corry!

(1) John Allison, "Garcia band hot at the Stanley," Daily Collegian (Pennsylvania State University), June 25, 1982, p. 13.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

HWJG: Quick Questions on the January '72 East Coast Tour

Howard Wales and Jerry Garcia (HWJG) is another one of these things about which I have a great deal to say, but no time to get it down except in dribs and drabs. So be it.

Quick question or two on the January 1972 east coast tour they did, Jerry's first non-GD-related paying gigs in the northeast, AFAIK.

First, slipnut over at The Jerry Site just posted two new gigs, based on credible-looking information at the Mahavishnu Orchestra set lists site. I believe that MO was also on Douglas Records and that MO was opening for HWJG at a number of the shows on the tour. The newly-considered are as follows:
  • Friday, January 28, 1972: Palace Theatre, Providence, RI
  • Saturday, January 29, 1972: University of Buffalo, Buffalo, NY
These gigs seem really plausible. Obviously the Friday-Saturday would be good nights to book. The venues also seem plausible: up to Providence from Boston on 1/26, and another college gig after the Villanova show on Sunday 1/23. Probably medium-sized rooms, probably just about right.

Still, it's surprising that these shows have never come to light (that I know of - prepared to be corrected, of course). East coast stuff tends to be documented pretty well.

update: these are now very well established. See Jerrybase on 1/29/72. On 1/28/72, two tunes were released on Hooteroll? +2!

(BTW, the MO site also lists a gig on 1/22 at Union College in Schenectady, NY, but doesn't indicate it was opening for HWJG ... I wouldn't be at all surprised if it was, though ...) update: nope, HWJG in Syracuse on 1/22.

Lots more to say, but I'll just ask a second question --or pose a lament-- re: tapes.

The only circulating tape is January 26, 1972 from the Boston Symphony Hall, which was broadcast on WBCN. Tapes also masquerade under the date of 1/25, but they are from 1/26. There is nothing else in circulation from this tour. Indeed, the only other live HWJG in circulation is from the incredible, breathtaking, begging-for-a-volume-two Side Trips, Vol. 1 (Grateful Dead Records, GDCD 4061, October 1998), which I believe to have been recorded on 5/18/70 at the Matrix. Ken Lee, the usher whose masterful, spread balcony recordings from the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, NY are rightfully legendary, seems to have taped at least one of the shows from the Academy of Music in New York, NY on January 21 (early | late); alas, the Port Chester Resurrection Project, which brought a handful of these (apparently massively numerous) tapes into clear light (some for the first time), has been stalled for several years at least. Please, please, if you know the folks involved, kindly, gently, respectfully ask them if they might be able to preserve those precious historical documents!

I have also long wondered about the Villanova show on 1/23. From the ad below, we see that it was sponsored by WKVU Villanova ... surely there was a broadcast to go alongside? And if so, didn't anyone tape it? Anyone want to check Villanova, starting with the station itself?

update: related, it seems that 1/29/72 in Buffalo was FM broadcast!

All right, enough hectoring. Really just wanted to see if anyone remembers these or other Wales/Garcia gigs in January, 1972!

The Debut of the Last Quartet: The Catalyst, 10/13/82

The Debut of the Last Quartet
 was "Listening Notes: JGB, Wednesday, October 13, 1982, The Catalyst, Santa Cruz, CA"


Some listening notes for this recording. See show and recording notes below.

Jerry Garcia Band
The Catalyst
Santa Cruz, CA
October 13, 1982 (Wednesday)

Recorded live and mastered to CD by N. Hoey with:
2x Sennheiser 441 mics > Sony TC D-5m (Dolby B) (Maxell XLIIS 90)
Nakamichi Dragon (Dolby B decoded) > Apple Powerbook G3-VX Pocket interface-Soundedit editing > Jam > Apogee gold CD > Toast 9 > Xact

--set I (6 tracks, 55:00)--
s1t01. [0:07] How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) [7:47] [0:16]
s1t02. Love In The Afternoon [10:13] % (1) [0:12]
s1t03. Valerie [6:26] [0:08] %
s1t04. Let It Rock [8:09] [0:02] % [0:06]
s1t05. Simple Twist Of Fate [13:19] %
s1t06. //Deal [#8:09] [0:06]

--set II (6 tracks, 59:30)--
sd2t01. [0:09] Sugaree [11:51] % [0:21]
s2t02. I'll Take A Melody [13:50] % [0:12]
s2t03. Dear Prudence [10:26] [0:02] % [0:06]
s2t04. Tore Up Over You [9:55] % [0:03]
s2t05. Tough Mama [7:46] ->
s2t06. Run For The Roses [4:37] (2) [0:14]

! ACT1: Jerry Garcia Band #15a
! lineup: Jerry Garcia - el-g, vocals;
! lineup: John Kahn - el-bass;
! lineup: Melvin Seals - keyboards;
! lineup: Greg Errico - drums.

! R: notation: % = tape discontinuity; // = cut music; / = clipped music; # = truncated timing; -> = continuous music ("guzinta")

! band:

! Show: A very rare quartet show (no backing vocals). The fact that this is Wednesday show a week before the next scheduled JGB gig (10/21) in the relatively off-the-beaten-path Catalyst suggests that they are woodshedding a few things.

! personnel: Drummer Greg Errico returns for his longest known (as of 2/2011) continuous stint in the JGB, from October 13, 1982 through June 5, 1983. His previous known stint was also in a short-lived quartet version of the JGB, comprising a handful of shows, including a presumably very-profitable east coast swing, in July-August 1980.

! Personnel: I wouldn't be surprised if there weren't rehearsals with some backup singers during the intervening week. Were there "tryouts"?

! Recording: Nice tape. Vocals are very low

! d1t02 (1) JG: "The drummer is Greg Errico. [inaudible]"

! d2t04 Tore Up vocals seem especially low. But this Tore Up is unbelievably good. Go, Jerry, go! (5-min mark jam really nice!).

! d2t05 JG has a hard time with the first verse and some of the other vocals of Tough Mama. Doesn't sound really bad, just doesn't remember the words. Garcia's solos are pretty good. In the melody part he is pretty choppy, some pretty straight chukka-chukka rhythm playing. Remember that the previous and subsequent versions of Tough Mama would be 7/8/77 (with the Keith/Donna/Tutt band), 7/26 and 8/20/81 (who was drumming at these shows?), this one, another one the next week (10/22), and then it would hibernate for 7+ years, making five appearances in 1990 and then disappearing for good.

! d2t06 (2) JG: "Thanks a lot, we'll see ya later."

Thursday, December 23, 2010

JGB: female vocalists, late 1983 east coast tour

update 2016: there is overwhelming evidence that DeeDee Dickerson took part in the late '83 JGB tour. She is on the band's tour documents. As of 2/19/2019, I believe DeeDee was present until at least 5/19/84; the earliest confirmed reference I can find to Gloria Jones dates to 8/11/84.

update 2020: Gloria's first show appears to have been July 28, 1984. Or it could have been July 10th. But it is in summer 1984, just before the 8/84 east coast tour.

There is a lot that remains obscure, and much that probably forever will, about the various ladies who joined Garcia onstage as Jerry Garcia Band backing vocalists. The Jerry Site's band lineups page has the best information available, of course, but even there I know there are missing names, problematic dates, etc. etc. The 1981-1985 or so period is especially rife with incomplete or problematic information. (Probably true of drummers as well, but that's a whole other can o' worms!)

I don't have time to tackle the whole issue right now, but it's another very long and involved topic about which there will be much to say. Right now, I just want to ask about the late 1983 east coast tour of the JGB. Jacklyn LaBranch appears to have arrived on 10/24/82 and stayed through the end in 1995. According to TJS, it then went like this

DeeDee Dickerson backing vocals Oct 24, 1982 Jun 5, 1983
Gloria Jones backing vocals Jul 20, 1983 Aug 28, 1984
DeeDee Dickerson backing vocals Sep 15, 1984 Sep 28, 1985
Gloria Jones backing vocals Feb 21, 1986 Apr 23, 1995

By this reckoning, Gloria Jones was the backup singer in late '83.

In an unbelievably erudite analysis of the JGB from 1987 (1), Corry tells us that Gloria replaced Dee Dee on 9/30/83, not 7/20. This is not consistent with the fact that DeeDee was on the late '83 east coast tour. First, there's the ad below for the 11/27/83 show at Constitution Hall in Washington, DC:

Second, as noted above (discovered after the original date of this post), DeeDee Dickerson was "on the bus with the Garcia Band" for the November-December 1983 eastern tour. This, of course, modifies understandings of Gloria.

When did she start?

update: ca. July 10, 1984

(1) Arnold, Corry. 1987. The Jerry Garcia Band: 11 years and still rockin’. Golden Road no. 13 (Winter): 22-26.

GD, official releases by date

I have extolled the virtues of Matt Scofield's masterful deaddisc site before, but I have just been dabbling in updating my files w/r/t official releases, and his information is incredible:

Just thought I'd throw that link out for those who might need it.

I really should update and finalize the same kind of info for Garcia On The Side; guess I will at some point.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Reconstruction: June 8, 1979, venue question

Still can't believe how little I've had to say about Reconstruction. All in due time, I guess.

Anyway, a quickie: I think the correct venue for the June 8, 1979 Reconstruction show is probably the Rio Theater (140 Parker Avenue, Rodeo, CA, 94572). Here's how it looks today:

View Larger Map

This is based on the image below, a calendar item from the Contra Costa Times of June 8, 1979 (p. 37) that lists it that way.

By contrast, I have never seen any firm evidence for a listing at the Rheem Theater. That's how it's listed at TJS, and that's how it is listed on circulating tapes (e.g., shnid 23675). I suspect those two data are not independent of each other. In any case, I'd guess that there was a (perfectly understandable) transposition of Rheem Theater for Rio Theater somewhere along the line.

I didn't crop the listing too closely, for a few reasons. First, there's just other stuff in there and you never know who'll find something interesting. Second, and maybe this is more because I am listening to some Buck Owens, but it reminds me of how "country" some of Contra Costa County still was in 1979. I haven't been to Rodeo in forever and maybe it hasn't changed at all (based on the Google Earth image above, it doesn't look like it!). But most of CCC is completely transformed since that time period, and its interesting to remember what a hinterland it was in the late 70s. Third, I wanted to give a sense of the degraded quality of the microfilms of the Contra Costa Times are a the central CCC library in Pleasant Hill. I certainly don't blame the facility nor, especially, the librarians - there's clearly no money being devoted to that stuff. But this wealth of historic material may just disappear one day due to budget cuts. [soapbox] Please consider donating to your local library! [/soapbox]

Was anyone there? Has anyone ever seen any other hard evidence of this show taking place at the Rheem?

Rio Theater seemed like a weird little spot, which is kind of a microcosm for how Rodeo strikes me. I'd bet more time looking through the Contra Costa Times listings would reveal lots of stuff (at the Rio and elsewhere). Rock Prosopography lists an 8/10/69 show there by Sons Of Champlin and South Bay Experimental Flash, and LLD lists a March 4, 1978 Hunter and Comfort/Peter Rowan gig. Somewhere I have a note or two about the venue. Anyway, I guess it made sense for them to advertise in the Times, which always seemed more East county centered (Lamorinda, Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill, Concord, even Antioch). There are some pretty weird east bay backroads between those towns and Rodeo, and back at that time there wasn't necessarily a whole lot of police presence on them - could be fun to drive a little, see a show, and all that.

Anyway, consider this my argument in favor of changing the venue for this show from Rheem Theater, Moraga, to Rio Theater, Rodeo.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Garcia on Jefferson Airplane, Surrealistic Pillow

Was just pointed to this early 1967 interview (audio only) with Garcia posted at youtube. Not sure I had heard it before, but I think it contains a tidbit or two that are not pinned down yet regarding Garcia's contributions to the Jefferson Airplane blockbuster Surrealistic Pillow. So this is sort of of a piece with my post on Garcia's involvement on Stephen Stills albums.

I am not going to rehearse the whole story of Garcia's involvement in the album. Matt Scofield does an amazing job of it at deaddisc, and I am sure that Jackson and McNally would shed additional light. (I should just make it a practice to refer to them before ever posting on anything.) Let me just summarize what Scofield says we know and what we don't with a few bullet points, some of them direct quotes from deaddisc.

  • Garcia plays guitar on Today and Comin' Back To Me. 
  • Some sources suggest that Garcia also played acoustic guitar on Plastic Fantastic Lover and My Best Friend.  
  • Garcia's contribution to Surrealistic Pillow is not easy to define exactly.
  • His playing contribution is partly documented.
  • Some sources suggest that Garcia was also played on Plastic Fantastic Lover and My Best Friend. To date this remains speculation - any information about documented sources describing other Garcia involvement on this album would be most welcome. 
Well, in this youtube interview we learn the following bits of JG involvement that were unknown (apparently) or in need of confirmation:

  • JG played flattop (presumably acoustic steel) guitar on How Do You Feel (@ ca. 0:58).
  • JG did not play on My Best Friend; Skip Spence did. (@ ca. 1:05)
  • JG's playing on Today and Comin' Back To Me are confirmed (@ ca. 1:09)
  • JG played flattop guitar on Plastic Fantastic Lover (@ ca. 1:11) 
  • re: Someone to Love JG says "The arrangement on the album is more or less my arrangement. I kinda rewrote it."

From the horse's mouth, so to speak.

Now, of course, it's not certain that his parts appeared on the final product or if, as the lack of credits would imply, they ended up on the cutting room floor. But it may well be him, and in any case we might be able to circle in on some more dates when he was in LA with the Airplane if we know the dates on which the numbers including him were recorded.