Sunday, January 02, 2011

LN19690219 High Country "2/19/69" Matrix, San Francisco, CA

LIA's argument that the GD set circulating under the date of 6/19/68 is actually the 2/19/69 GD show is totally persuasive to me. Of course that probably implies that the 2/19/69 dating of the High Country set from the Matrix, with Garcia and Nelson joining Butch Waller and Rich Wilbur, is probably mis-dated. (A Wednesday afternoon show at the Matrix strikes me as unlikely.) Unless someone knows something I don't, I'd guess I'd say, based on understanding gleaned from Corry and Yellow Shark, that the "2/19" dating is indicative of a general timeframe.

(Parenthetically, does anyone know anything about the GD show at the Lyric Theatre in Baltimore, MD, on February 9, 1969, listed at Deadlists based on Deadbase IX?)

Anyway, LIA's post led me to revisit this little bluegrass set, which I thoroughly enjoyed. This is important, of course, as the first known Garcia bluegrass (and banjo) playing since the Warlocks went electric in 1965. Makes you wonder what else we don't know! It's also always nice to hear Garcia just relaxing and picking a little bit.

UPDATE: Of course LLD has posted on this gig, which I had forgotten about.

Anyway, I post my listening notes below. The song titles are all over the place in terms of how Deadheads keep track of this stuff; I have confirmed all but the unidentified ones below. Thanks in advance for corrections/additions!

High Country (w/ Jerry Garcia & David Nelson)
The Matrix
3138 Fillmore Street
San Francisco, CA
"February 19, 1969 (Wednesday)" [probably incorrect date]

MSR > ? > R > CD, via fstop.

(16 tacks, 56:13)
t01. /Mississippi Sawyer [1:58] [0:48]
t02. On And On [2:36] [1:30]
t03. Walls Of Time [3:18] (1) [1:12]
t04. Pike County Breakdown [2:09] [0:08] % [0:19]
t05. Teardrops In My Eyes [2:29] [0:36]
t06. Big River [1:57] [1:05]
t07. Working On A Building [3:42] [1:12]
t08. Brand New Shoes [1:42] (2) [1:04]
t09. Soldier's Joy [3:07] [0:56]
t10. Swing Low Sweet Chariot [2:08] [0:55]
t11. I'm Blue, I'm Lonesome [2:39] (3) [1:03]
t12. [0:15] Bluegrass Stomp [3:40] [0:14] %
t13. //I Wonder Where You Are Tonight [#2:22] (4) [1:03]
t14. unidentifed country bluegrass 19690219-2 [3:01] [0:22] % [0:18]
t15. Live And Let Live [2:27] (5) [0:12]
t16. Bluegrass Breakdown [3:15] [0:14]

! ACT1: High Country
! lineup: Butch Waller - mandolin, vocals;
! lineup: Rich Wilbur - bass, vocals;
! lineup: David Nelson - guitar, vocals;
! lineup: Jerry Garcia - banjo.


! /=clip; //=cut; %=tape discontinuity; #=truncated timing

! Show: Frank Wakefield is sometimes identified as the mandolin player, but I think the evidence (including reference in Rothman 1998) suggests that it is Butch Waller and that the lineup listed above is correct. The show has conventionally been dated 2/19/69, but as of 1/1/11 that seems unlikely, since the GD played the "Celestial Synapse" show at the Fillmore West. Deadheads have attached many different song titles to lots of these numbers. I have pretty well confirmed the titles given above, with the obvious exception of the two unidentified tunes (t01 and t14).

! Recording: This version comes from fstop, who was one of those who copied Peter Abrams's reels in the 1970s. It is mono throughout, but a nice recording overall. We can't really know the lineage with any certainty. I didn't necessarily note all of the between-song tape discontinuities.

! t01 clips in

! t01 unidentified bluegrass standard 19690219-1 is identifiable. We need some bluegrass ears on this!

! Love how they are calling out the song keys to Garcia, and deciding on the spot when he'll take his break (e.g., t02 before Walls of Time)

! Sounds like there are about 20 people in attendance.

! t03 (1) @ 3:46: Guy asks Jerry if he wants to play "Pike County?" Jerry sort of groans and indicates he's not sure he can play it: "Oh, God, OK, I'll try it." The following song is indeed "Pike County Breakdown"

! t06 tick near start of Big River

! t08 (2) @ 1:47: guy to Jerry: "You let us know when we should call it a day." JG: "[inaudible] should keep playing." Guy: "All right!"

! t11 title confirmed from

! t11 (3) @ 2:4: guy: "What do you think we ought to do? You think we ought to stay here, or you think we ought to go away?" Garcia: "I don't know. Let's play some more." Guy: "OK. Let's play Bluegrass Stomp."

! t13 I Wonder Where You Are Tonight fades in, almost nothing missing.

! t13 (4) @ 2:26: Guy: "Bluegrass Breakdown" ... JG, about 2:34: "Oh, man. I'm gonna have a hard time  with this one." DNA/genetic code talk. JG: "Go ahead. You guys do it. ... I just can't play it." Guy: "You can do it in  'D'." JG: "I can do it in 'C'." Guy: "Me too, I guess." @ 3:03, sounds like guy changes the song: "Do this one. This one's easier." Then they do a more guitar-driven song the title of which I don't know.

! t14 TJS lists this song as "Don't Say Goodbye If You Love Me", but I don't think that's what this is. It's a really nice number, whatever it is. We need some folk/country/bluegrass ears on this!

! t15 Live And Let Live title confirmed at

! t15 (5) @ 2:26: JG: "Let's do one more." Guy: "Bluegrass Breakdown."

Rothman, Sandy. 1998. Jerry Garcia’s Musical Roots: The Banjo Years. Relix 25, 4 (August): 26-30.


  1. Parenthetically, speaking of the Dead's February 9 '69 show, I don't know a thing about it - it's one of those completely "lost" shows.
    Deadbase says it was the "First Baltimore Rock Festival", that the Chambers Brothers also played, and that there were two shows at 3:30 and 7:30.

    The date itself is plausible, as the Dead were at least in the general vicinity, and as far as I know had no other shows between Pittsburgh 2/7 and NYC 2/11.
    However - I don't know about the Chambers Brothers, but if the Dead were playing two sets, that must have been an awfully small "rock festival" - in fact I haven't found any other trace of it online. Perhaps a bit of hyperbole?

  2. About the 6/19/68 show in the Archive. This date is definitely not correct. If you listen, you will notice that there are no black voices or sounds from the audience. This show was sponsored by the Black Man's Free Store, and on that night Richie Havens sang too. It would make sense that there were al least 15% blacks in the audience. However they can't be heard at all. I think this is another reason to support changing the date to 2/19/69.


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