Monday, May 02, 2011

An Evening With the Gratetul Dead

edited 20110502 am


It is presently "commonly known" that the "An Evening With The Grateful Dead" show concept / set format debuted in Alfred, NY on Friday, May 1, 1970 [Jerrybase | shnid-95683 |]. McNally (2002, 366) narrates things this way, Deadlists' entry presents the show in conventional AEWTGD form, and so forth. This post will establish that the 5/1/70 show didn't follow the conventional AEWTGD format, and cast some slight doubt on whether this was even an AEWTGD show at all. It'll also clear up some venue confusion and blabber about lots of other things.

I don't do much Grateful Dead, and tend to think it's much better done by others. But the NRPS-Matrix-1970 stuff, and a lot of what LIA has recently been writing about (e.g., "The Hartbeats-July 1970"), has me needing to reflect on the 1970 GD acoustic sets a little bit. My main aim was to get at the 7/30/70 and 8/5/70 sets, of which I have done the first. In trying to "get at" shows, however, I tend to start by listening to them, then by listening around them (e.g., to some other shows that might have some logical connection to the one under scrutiny), and then by listening to them again, hopefully consulting The Sources, taking notes on everything. Ridiculously roundabout process, but there it is.

Here, my idea was that bookending these 7/30 and 8/5 shows would be productive. So I picked 5/1/70 (the first known AEWTGD) and the Fillmore East 9/20/70 (a late-period AEWTGD show). Of course this turned out to be a ridiculous rabbit hole, since as it happens neither I nor anyone known to me has the New Riders set from 5/1/70, though Jim Powell documents it at Deadlists. Then the acoustic set turned out to be interesting, then the show turned out to have some interesting anomalies, then some bigger questions came into play. Yadda, yadda, yadda, I have a long (for me, not LIA!) post in the guise of listening notes involving, inter alia, analysis of some of the many narrative lines that pass through the particular node of An Evening With The Grateful Dead, Alfred, NY, Friday, May 1, 1970.

Common Knowledge Around This Node

First, McNally says the AEWTGD concept debuted in Alfred, NY on May 1, 1970. As I understand it, this is indeed so widely (if reflexively) agreed to that it's not even folk wisdom. I'd call it common knowledge. The 5/1/70 entry at Deadlists is structured just like the rest of the AEWTGD shows.

Second, the set structure of an AEWTGD show is also commonly known. The old Deadlists entry for 5/2/70b included Jim Powell's note "An Evening With The Grateful Dead 1970", with quotes from an interview Garcia did while in England in May 1970 (1). The upshot is that the AEWTGD set structure was as follows:
  1. (I) Acoustic Grateful Dead (AGD)
  2. (II) New Riders of the Purple Sage (NRPS)
  3. (III) Electric Grateful Dead (EGD)
Garcia narrated it to Dick Lawson on May 24, 1970:
What we've been doing in the States lately is having An Evening with the Grateful Dead". We start off with acoustic music, with Bobby and I playing guitars, light drums and very quiet electric bass. Pigpen plays the organ. Then we have a band we've been traveling with, the New Riders of the Purple Sage, where I play pedal steel, not guitar, Mickey plays drums, and three of our friends from the coast, musicians that we've known for a long time, are fronting the band. So we start off with acoustic music and then the New Riders of the Purple Sage ... and then we come on with the electric Dead, so it keeps us all really interesting, and it's six hours of this whole development thing. By the end of the night it's very high.
Based on a skim of Deadlists for the year 1970, I don't see any deviations from this order on known recordings.  I believe that this set structure is also common knowledge.

By way of summary, common knowledge of 5/1/70 tells us two things:
  1. this was the debut of the AEWTGD show structure; and
  2. the AEWTGD show structure went AGD-NRPS-EGD.
Engagement with this show generates some small doubt about the first claim (though I think it's probably right). The second may still be true, but it's not what happened on 5/1/70. Making a mountain out of a molehill, I argue that the true running order of AEWTGD 5/1/70 was (I) NRPS, (II) AGD, (III) EGD.

Not a big deal, but interesting to me to note it. As I will argue below, this is a pivotal moment in Jerry's professional arc, where it was time to get down to business, start making a little money. After getting ripped off by Lenny, and with Mountain Girl looking to settle down with a their new baby, it's time to start generating some coin (pronounced as "kwahn," naturally). Anyway, things would get more and more institutionalized from roughly this period forward. Finding that the show format was not quite settled (or something prevented it from taking place, whatever it might have been ...) just gives a little finer grain on the evolution of things. Even if it's only one show, it connects the time period before the AEWTGD format was established with the time period during which it was in place.

The tape provides two clues as to this unusual set order.
  1. there' s a snippet of emcee talk at the start of the fileset which cuts in on "this bill is five hours long. Now, the Riders just filled up//" before cutting out and returning to the start of the AGD set. If this snippet were in the right place, it would suggest that the show order was NRPS-AGD-EGD, rather than the canonical AGD - NRPS - EGD. Now, that snippet could be in the wrong place, but I don't think it is.
  2. at the end of the AGD set Garcia says "We'll come back with our electric stuff in just a moment", over continuous tape. Now, could he have meant the New Riders? I suppose so, but I really, really doubt it. (Aside: this is also where Weir asks the crowd "You wanna hear Pigpen?" prompting Jerry to inform Bob, off-mic, that Pig "doesn't wanna do anything. LIA just did a Pigpen post and mentioned this, so I thought I'd note. We might even have a partial explanation via the partly redacted testimony below!)
The third clue about the running order comes from Philip Orby's testimony to me in private correspondence. I reprint most of it below. He has clear markers for the progression of the show and clearly remembers it as NRPS-AGD-EGD. (I have a few thoughts on the use of single testimonials as evidence in my post on the seemingly debunked possible JGB show in Salinas on June 24, 1981.)

I should note that another attendee, MAXROD, recounted the standard AEWTGD set format to me. But he noted that he relies on present information in reconstructing some things, and so I think this should be discounted.

Based on all of this I conclude that this show ran NRPS-AGD-EGD, rather than the AGD-NRPS-EGD progression that is usually assumed.

Here's where this leaves me: do we even know whether this show was even billed as "An Evening With The Grateful Dead"? I have never seen any ticket stubs or ephemera, no contemporary press items, anything. McNally says it was the debut of the format, and that's pretty powerful stuff. It certainly should have been, given that it's the first show of a very important tour, one that would set the Grateful Dead on a solid foundation of economically viable touring for the next quarter-century. So we don't have any reason to doubt it, and lots of reason to think it was. It's just a question, is all.

"An Evening With The Grateful Dead": Some Reflections

Anyway, the AEWTGD show structure/concept was important in a lot of ways.

First, as Corry and many others have noted, it allowed the GD to travel with a small number of additional bodies (Dawson, Nelson and Torbert) for a reasonably big payoff: they had their own opening act and could probably demand premium prices for the 5+ hour evening of music (see LN note #1 below to hear the Alfred emcee or organizer making just this point to what sound like a bunch of bellyaching anarchists, radicals, leftists, pinkos and other unsavory types). Especially after Lenny Hart robbed them blind, the Grateful Dead needed to start generating some serious cash. It's no coincidence that 1970 would be probably their heaviest touring year (I could run the numbers easily enough, but I don't feel like it). The AEWTGD show format brought financial benefits, full stop, and that was important for what needed to become, at this point more than ever, a true working band. One that will pay off in the long run. One that will allow these guys to buy a ranch in Marin or Sonoma, do a little "livin' off the fat a the lan'", as a different "Lenny" might say. With characteristic insight, McNally (2002, ch. 31) titles this chapter, running March-July 1970, "Might as Well Work". He really does have a way with words ... this captures a ton.

This tour would continue to solidify the Grateful Dead as a nationally viable band, a process the "end of the beginning" of which would be the slightly tighter March-April 1971 tours to midwest and northeast towns and colleges.  This would stand them in good economic stead for no less than a quarter-century.

update: a commenter on another post notes that Led Zeppelin was billing "An Evening With" in March 1970, hearkening back to an older (e.g., 1930s) show tradition. I respond, as do LIA and Corry.

Second, related, McNally (2002, 366) astutely notes that with the AEWTGD, the GD would become a "full-range band" (Garcia's term) musically, with a huge repertoire and incalculable creative/exploratory possibilities. It's no coincidence that McNally (2002, 366) uses AEWTGD as launching pad for a pithy summary of the rest of the GD's history and the band's astonishing range over most indigenous American musical forms: "Over the next two decades they would play nearly 500 different songs, of which roughly 150 were originals. Those 350 cover tunes would span a large portion of American music, to a level unmatched by any other band." He goes on to enumerate the genres embodied in this repertoire: rock and roll, blues, jug band music, folk, Stax-Volt, rhythm and blues, rockabilly, country-western, gospel, sixties garage rock, calypso, western swing, and New Orleans (McNally 2002, 366-367).

While this range would continue to expand after 1970, the basic set structure of 1970 (less the NRPS) would become the basic set structure of Grateful Dead shows forevermore, with first sets focused on shorter, often more basic, tunes, and second sets more exploratory and often more potent. This arrangement made sense, of course, allowing the band to loosen up a little bit before pushing the limits. It worked well for the band, and was a functional adaptation. I don't think there's any path dependence to it out of the AEWTGD structure. I merely note that it is a form that found first expression in the AEWTGD show.

Third, most importantly, one might consider NRPS as Garcia's first real side project, where "real" means both that things were planned rather than ad hoc and, related, that there was money involved. This would be the very first time in Jerry's life --I am confident about that-- that he'd be onstage in front of a paying, non-Bay Area audience in a band that had been billed as something other than "Grateful Dead".

Now, if this is speciation it's also necessarily a process (i.e., unfolds over time), and a slow moving one at that. NRPS is like the fish with legs, wading out from the deep murk to catch some sun and dry land fun, and then stumbling back into the ocean for the night. The thrust of Jim Powell's analysis at Deadlists over the years has been the NRPS was indissociable from GD during the AEWTGD era. They are essentially the same. AGD, EGD and NRPS are all part of the thing called GD, in this lexicon. That's fine, and there's no reason to argue any of these points since they're just definitional, and can't be resolved through logic or evidence. There are just tradeoffs to be made through different conceptualizations. And I do tend to take a different view. I do think of NRPS as qualitatively different as the first institutionalized (professionalized, monetized, whatever) expression of Garcia On The Side. By this point, only Garcia and Hart were in both bands, though "Bobby Ace" Weir would occasionally lend a hand on NRPS sets while Nelson and Dawson would quite regularly come out and help AGD on the gospel numbers. Anyway, I take Garcia playing for paying east coast customers in a band billed as something other than the Grateful Dead represents a major change which would manifest itself over the next 4 years in the gradual development of a full fledged GOTS touring career.

A Few Questions About AEWTGD

First, has anyone ever considered the extent to which AEWTGD might be tied up with Lenn's Perfidy (accepted, no longer denied, from ca. March 1970) and with the engagement of David Torbert as NRPS bassist around this time? Or is this already well-known and I just missed it? Corry has done the key work on the latter question and has expressed puzzlement at the whole story of Torbert's engagement. I think it's all of a piece, and all driven by the need to pay the bills. [update: this is almost certainly Corry's idea, credit where credit is due!]

Oh, and more grownup stuff in Jerry's life: Annabelle is born on February 2nd (yes, two days after the New Orleans bust, and Garcia in St. Louis), and around this time (I can't pin the timing down) it seems that Mountain Girl starts house-hunting in western Marin.

There's something of an evolution toward AEWTGD, of course. A look at growth of country and acoustic stuff in 1969, culminating in the impromptu acoustic set on 12/19/69, establishes the basic idea of a separate acoustic pre- or interlude. But it sure seems to me that around March 1970 everything comes to a head.  See also Corry on ca. 4/18/70, Bobby Ace And The Cards Off The Bottom Of The Deck.

(Aside: if they really needed the money, it would have made the most financial sense to have Phil Lesh continue playing the bass for the New Riders. The fact that they went out to get Torbert suggests, first and foremost, just how little interest Phil Lesh had in doing that [or they in having him do that].)

Second, has anyone ever narrated the interwoven trajectories of Casady and Garcia around this period? They obviously played together in their first dalliances outside (but during the existence of) their "day" bands. As enterprises in exploring roots music, Hot Tuna and Dawson-Garcia --> NRPS have some similarities. In 1969, Hot Tuna was playing an interlude set at Jefferson Airplane shows. I don't know if they were ever billed as a distinct act (I assume so), but if so there's a really close analogy to what Jerry would do with the New Riders. I should probably consult Tamarkin's Got a Revolution! on this point, but I seem to recall these parallel parts of the CVs aren't narrated - the focus is (reasonably) on where the lines intersect. My point is, it would be interesting to me to learn that JA/Tuna had established the precedent of using a barely-speciated spinoff as a way to fill a complete billing (and be paid accordingly). Subsequent parallel history shows the side-projects becoming more speciated and independently institutionalized over time.

This Recording

The recording is a hodgepodge of three sources:
  • Source 1: SBD -> Master Reel -> CD (Deep Elem Blues through Cumberland Blues)
  • Source 2: SBD -> Master Reel -> Dat -> Sonic Solutions -> CD (The Race Is On through the middle of Drums)
  • Source 3: SBD -> Master Reel -> Reel -> Dat -> Sonic Solutions -> CD (middle of Drums though the end of the show.
A few things that are unusual about this, anymore. First, the three sources imply three paths out of a common master, or anyway through to the "present" from a common well spring. It's not that common anymore. Nowadays so many things can be traced directly back to the GD vaults that these pastiche sources have been kind of nudged out of existence. Second, Deadlists has a note "A [sic] to Latvala there is no tape in the vault for this show", but it proceeds to list the tapes on the Eaton list, corresponding to sources 2 and 3 above. (These are the sources for which Charlie Miller thanks David Gans in the shnid 95683 info file.) I think that note is mistaken and probably was so when it was posted, since as of 1997 one track ("New Speedway Boogie") had already been released on Fallout From The Phil Zone. (Of course, that album included non-vault sourced material such as the 8/6/71 "Hard to Handle", so who the hell knows?)

The recording is characteristically excellent, except that source 2 seems to run fast to my ears, notwithstanding that it shouldn't, per the stated lineage.

This Show

Regarding the metadata surrounding the show, the location/venue is extremely confusing. There have historically been at least three name variants running around: Alfred University (TJS), Alfred College (Deadlists), and Alfred State College (the Soto-Arnold Grateful Dead List). McNally (2002, p. 366) doesn't give the name of the college, only the town. So, which was it?

Well, if we allow our trusty Google to take us to a map of Alfred, NY, we see the "University" the "State College" variant, and a "State College, Alfred Campus" variant. Sheesh.

Anyway, trying to be all scientific, I conducted searches in Google News Archive for the year 1970 for the name variations using an exact phrase search. The candidates and the number of results returned follow.
  • "Alfred State College": 4
  • "Alfred College": 2
  • "Alfred University": 69
Perhaps needless to say, this had me pretty persuaded that the place we are talking about was known in 1970 as Alfred University.

Wrong. I will list this as follows: Gymnasium, Alfred State College, Alfred, NY. This is based on various eyewitness testimony. hosts no fewer than four filesets for this date. We are indeed fortunate! Among these one can find these two pieces of testimony (edited for grammar, etc.) .The first is available at the item for this fileset, where commenter "thejeffy" says this:
I was there. I was a freshman. The show was at the Tech college, across the valley. ... [I] remember hanging out with Phil and Mickey as they loaded the station wagons to split after the show. I think there were maybe 50 people at the show
On an older fileset, "Tom209" says
My first Dead show. We came from St. Bonaventure. It was in the gym. I think I saw Jerry, sitting in a men's room sink, playing a guitar ... and a conga line around the stage for Lovelight
Correspondent Philip Oby graciously gave me a full narrative that really ties everything together and paints a picture of the scene and some crucial details about the show.
It was the homecoming concert for Alfred State College, a SUNY affiliate. I went to Alfred University, the best ceramics school in the good old USA. We called the kids across the street “techies.” Both schools are located in the rolling hills in the southern part of the beautiful Finger Lakes area of NY in the charming little town of Alfred NY. I’d love to know which techie had the brilliance to get the Dead for their homecoming. But attendance was open to both schools.

The show started around 8 PM. Most of the people there at the beginning of the show were unfamiliar with the Dead and had no idea what they were getting into. The show opened with the introduction of the New Riders of the Purple Sage (Jerry on steel and Mickey Hart on drums) and during the break at the end of a very solid set the audience dropped from about 250 people to around 150 hearty souls. I guess they thought it was country music.

The next set was acoustic Dead à la Workingman’s Dead.  [ed. Awesome story about Pigpen redacted. But if the [redacted] in which Pigpen is alleged to have partaken was particularly potent, that might explain why Pigpen didn't come out and sing a song or two at the end of the acoustic set.] The acoustic set ended, the band took a break and again the audience was cut in half, so there were 50 - 75 knowledgeable souls left.

By now it was almost 11 PM. The roadies moved the equipment they used for the first two sets, revealing an impressive wall of amps. The Grateful Dead came onstage and Jerry walked up to the mike and said (and I quote): “I guess all we have left now are the connoisseurs.”  And then they promptly blew our socks off. All I remember of the next few hours was dancing and cheering. The sun was soon to come up ... That was my first show.  ... I have no ticket stubs or ephemera. It was a free show paid for by Alfred State College.
Fantastic. Thank you again, Philip. And since Philip's narrative is so rich, I'll add the additional color of MAXROD's account:
May 70 was a very wacky month. I was a senior in H.S. and the world was getting very wobbly … Vietnam raging, domestic turmoil over it, racism rampant, Kent State only a few days away, 5-4-70, then Jackson State … RFK, MLK. But there still were Dead shows to go to, thank goodness, my first being in early Feb 70 Fillmore East. I had a whole bunch under my belt by the time May rolled around.

Alfred College. The show was in a gymnasium. I had a ticket that someone gave me so I don’t think it was free, but I couldn’t tell you how much it was. Wasn’t very big as I recall. This was still part of the Dead’s touring routine, not unlike a Willie Nelson family show, where folks come and go in all sorts of combos. ... Those acoustic sets back then more often then not turned into a hybrid type acoustic/electric by set’s end, and sometimes also acapella for the gospel tunes.
Anyway, all of the above leads me to list the venue as "Gymnasium, Alfred State College, Alfred, NY". No idea why "AU" was so much more in the news in 1970 than "ASC", but there you have it. Homecoming, tiny crowd, May 1, 1970. I can almost smell the tear gas. But, as Maxrod's point about the fluidity of personnel and the hootenanny style swapping around players and instruments really underscores, things were also loose and fun and interesting. In my listening notes below I observe that the acoustic set does just sound like fun, and the band is pretty damn tight. Good music. And good call, homecoming committee! Way to go, techies! One final note: the Soto-Arnold list has had the name of the host institution right all along, but that knowledge never made the leap to bits and bytes.

References, then listening notes after the jump.


(1) Whenever it comes to 1970 Grateful Dead, Deadlists remains indispensable, due not least to the exemplary scholarship of Jim Powell. His posts for the year are powerfully researched and argued, based primarily on careful auditing of every available scrap of tape. His scientific progress was documented through the Deadlists project, which needs to take its place in my overall narrative of the List-Making Tradition As It Relates To Garcia And The Grateful Dead, or whatever I am going to call it. I would welcome input from Deadlisters who have any recollections to share, though I suspect that a ton of the history is still just available on the same servers as in ca. 2000, threaded in the way that listserve/online discussions were, a beautiful record to what was a monumental endeavor. The fact that it is still relevant today --and it absolutely is-- based on the original data protocols and research is a great testament to what was accomplished. Tip o' the hat to all involved.

(2) Dick Lawson, "What Will Be The Answer To The Answer Then?" Friends no. 8 (June 12, 1970), pp. 10-11, quote apparently from p.11. This is source 096 in the Dodd-Weiner annotated bibliography next note.

(3) 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.

(4) McNally, Dennis. 2002. A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead. New York: Broadway Books.

Listening Notes:
"An Evening With The Grateful Dead"
Gymnasium, Alfred State College
Alfred, NY
May 1, 1970 (Friday)

Recording Info:
Source 1: SBD -> Master Reel -> CD
Source 2: SBD -> Master Reel -> Dat -> Sonic Solutions -> CD
Source 3: SBD -> Master Reel -> Reel -> Dat -> Sonic Solutions -> CD

Transfer Info:
CD -> Adobe Audition v1.5 -> Samplitude Professional v10.1 -> FLAC
(2 Discs Audio / 1 Disc FLAC)

All Transfers and Mastering By Charlie Miller
November 6, 2008

-- Source 1 provides Deep Elem Blues through Cumberland Blues
-- Source 2 provides The Race Is On through the middle of Drums
-- Source 3 provides the middle of Drums though the end of the show
-- Part of the acoustic set with members of the New Riders
-- Thanks to David Gans for sources 2 and 3
-- Thanks to Joe B. Jones for his help with the pitch correction

[MISSING --Set I: New Riders of the Purple Sage--]

--Set II: Acoustic Grateful Dead (12 tracks, 61:01)--
d1t01 - (1) [0:08] // Deep Elem Blues [4:04] (2) [1:12]
d1t02 - I Know You Rider [7:35] (3) [0:30]
d1t03 - Monkey And The Engineer [1:38] ->
d1t04 - Candyman [5:05] (4,) [3:25]
d1t05 - Me And My Uncle [3:21] [0:23]
d1t06 - Mama Tried [2:53] [0:53]
d1t07 - Cumberland Blues [4:45] (5) [0:14]
d1t08 - The Race Is On [2:38] ->
d1t09 - Wake Up Little Susie [2:47] ->
d1t10 - New Speedway Boogie [8:02] (6) [2:21]
d1t11 - Cold Jordan [2:15] [0:22]
d1t12 - Uncle John's Band [6:05] (7) [0:09]

AGD Lineup:
Jerry Garcia - ac-g (el-g on NSB?), lead and harmony vocals;
Bob Weir - ac-g, lead and harmony vocals;
Phil Lesh - el-bass, harmony vocals;

Bill Kreutzmann - drum;
Guest: John Dawson - harmony vocals (MAMU >> Race Is On, Cold Jordan);
Guest: David Nelson - ac-g, mandolin (Jordan only), harmony vocals (MAMU >> Race Is On).

--Set III: Electric Grateful Dead (8 tracks, 65:25)--
d2t01 - Not Fade Away [9:40]
d2t02 - Hard To Handle [6:55] [1:20]
d2t03 - Cryptical Envelopment [2:07] ->
d2t04 - Drums [2:07] ->
d2t05 - The Other One [9:53] ->
d2t06 - Cryptical Envelopment
d2t07 - High Time
d2t08 - Turn On Your Lovelight//

EGD Lineup:

Jerry Garcia - el-g, lead and harmony vocals;
Bob Weir - el-g, lead and harmony vocals;
Phil Lesh - el-bass, harmony vocals;
Bill Kreutzmann - drums;
Mickey Hart - drums.


! Recording: symbols: % = recording discontinuity; / = clipped song; // = cut song; ... = fade in/out; # = truncated timing; [ ] = recorded event time. The recorded event time immediately after the song or item name is an attempt at getting the "real" time of the event. So, a timing of [x:xx] right after a song title is an attempt to say how long the song really was, as represented on this recording.

! Jerrybase: (NRPS), (GD)

! TJS: (dead link, kept here for old times' sake). TJS has a partial NRPS setlist (Dirty Business, Last Lonely Eagle, Cecilia, Rainbow, Louisiana Lady, Honky Tonk Women) based on the Deadlists entry. That would seem to come from tape, but it's not tape that I have ever heard. I would love to hear it if anyone knows where it might be obtained.

! db: shnid-95683 (this recording). Despite the pitch diagnosis and correction evoked in the info file, source 2 seems to be running considerably fast. This is true of the acoustic and electric material it supplies, to my ears.

! d1t01 (1) Emcee: "//this bill is five hours long. Now, the Riders just filled up//". If this snippet were in the right place, it would suggest that the show order was (I) NRPS, (II) Acoustic Grateful Dead, (III) Electric Grateful Dead. The standard understood order of the "An Evening With The Grateful Dead" 1970 show format, of which this is the debut, would be AGD - NRPS - EGD.

! d1t01 (2) JG off-mic: "I told him to turn on the monitors. I can't hear nothing from these fuckers." Weir, to sound guy: "Hey, some monitor action would be helpful, 'cause we can't hear jack shit up here as it is." Crowd member says "More beer!" Jerry and Bob: "Yeah, that's what it is, more beer. Turn up the beer knob." @ 4:44 JG, tuning, off-mic: "Smart college punks." Weir: "Right, right." Garcia, off-mic to sound guy: "Hey, turn up the microphone, ya prick."

! d1t02 (3) Weir @ 7:58 "We're gonna regale you with a tune about bold and shiny engines and blazing speed and simian creatures at the wheel." JG: "Yeah, yeah."

! d1t04 (4) JG, off- mic: "Let's get Dave and Marmaduke out here." JG: "We're gonna get some of the guys from the New Riders to help out with some of this stuff here for a little while." Various: "Hey Marmaduke and Day-vud. Marmaduke and Day-vud."

! d1t07 (5) PL: "Mathews, turn the guitars up in the monitors, please."

! R: d1t08-d1t12 the "source 2" acoustic material seems to be running fast. see the vocals in d1t08 The Race Is On, for example.

! d1t10 (6) BW, off-mic: "Let's do those gospel numbers." JG: "Huh?" BW: "Let's do those gospel numbers." JG, off-mic: "OK." BW, into mic: "OK, we're gonna do some more trio singing." Nelson, being weird: "OK" (lots of reverb/feedback) JG [inaudible question]. BW: "I think we could do 'em both. I'd like to do 'em both." JG: "Which two ... which one do you wanna do first?" BW: "Jordan. No, no, no. [inaudible]" - cross talk - DN: "They'll get it." [ed: seemingly talking about the crowd?] --mic adjustments, sounds just like a bluegrass concert!-- @ 9:46 Garcia asks Marmaduke, "You gonna sing on this?" Marmaduke is quick to voice-check a mic. @ 9:58 JG: "This is Serious." BW: "Sacred." @ end of track, cross-talk "Let's do Jordan."

! song: d1t11 "Cold Jordan" is equivalent to "Jordan". It's a traditional. It goes under both names, and others besides.

! personnel: David Nelson and John Dawsom are called out after Candyman and are basically around for the rest of the acoustic set, I'd say. They are clearly present on d1t05-d1t08 (MAMU, Mama Tried, Cumberland Blues, The Race Is On) and d1t11 "Jordan." Nelson plays mandolin for "Jordan". I am pretty sure they are not playing on UJB, not sure about d1t09 Wake Up Little Susie or d1t10 New Speedway Boogie.

! songs: Wake Up Little Susie -> New Speedway Boogie is the story of the 60s. Just sayin'.

! P: d1t12 UJB has a wonderful lively energy to it! Think of the juice they must have had going. They had been working on their show, getting the "Evening With the Grateful Dead" format together ... no mean feat for Weir to have his chops together on acoustic guitar and electric guitar enough to take it national. This is to say nothing of Garcia, of course, who was also playing pedal steel. Wow. These guys were just a tight fucking working band from this moment. During the rest of 1970 there are very few holes anywhere in Garcia's touring/playing schedule. They had been through a lot for five years, of course, and most recently Lenny Hart's Perfidy. Mountain Girl may already have started doing some house-hunting, so Garcia needed to start earning some bigger paychecks. Time to grow up, boys. But start in an obscure little college, nice and easy, before tearing the roof off of Binghamton on your second night out. Man oh man, what a force of nature the thing was.

! d1t12 (7) JG after UJB: "We'll come back with our electric stuff in just a moment." Weir: "You wanna hear Pigpen?" JG, off-mic: "He doesn't wanna do anything."

! P: d2t01 Philip Lesh starts NFA off really meaning business about playing his 'lectrified bass guitar. But I find that this version isn't really clicking.

! d2t02 @ 7:51 JG teases "Sitting On Top Of The World", but the thrust of the tuning is toward the Cryptical that ensues.

! P: Overall, I  find this electric set lackluster, "off". Maybe they were up too late the night before (4/30) playing with the NRPS at the Matrix. ;-) The acoustic set is excellent.


  1. Interesting stuff...lots to say here.

    One, I think the 2 bits of evidence (the announcer's comment at the start, sadly cut, and the eyewitness) do point to NRPS being first.
    Up to this point in 1970, the Dead's acoustic sets had been embedded in the electric sets, or as on 4/24, opened directly for the electric set.
    So it wasn't intuitive that the NRPS set should come BETWEEN the two Dead sets.
    Yet in the next show, Harpur 5/2, that's what we find. (And I think the order is certain in that show.)
    So sometime between the 5/1 and 5/2 shows, they must have decided on the new arrangement.

    It's unfortunate that you couldn't hear the NRPS set. Deadlists notes: "The NRPS set conclusion occurs at the beginning of a cassette which continues with the 5/2/70 NRPS set. Apparently this derives from a band work tape."

    5/1/70, as you note, is a show that was discovered in pieces, which shows how poorly tended the band's 1970 recordings were.
    I've mentioned on my site: "Some of the reels of this show were found under the stage at the 5/14/70 Kirkwood show, but later disappeared; only one reel [#2] with the New Riders actually made it to the Vault. One reel (//Other One to Lovelight//) went into circulation mislabeled as "5/19/70". Much later, part of the acoustic set and the start of the electric set were discovered and started circulating [and the start of the acoustic set only came out about 3 years ago] so it's only recently that we had the full show. (As for 5/14/70, only reels 3, 4, and 5 made it to the Vault; the first part of the show was found separately.)"

    I think much of the show has returned to the Vault; at least, Lemieux has played a lot of the acoustic set on the Taper's Section. Deadlists comments should be handled carefully, as older outdated comments are often left in place even after 'updates'...when there are updates, which is seldom.

    Anyway - I'm surprised that the audience for a May '70 Dead show was so small and that they were 'unfamiliar with the Dead.' (50 people stayed for the electric set?) That must have been a really unhip crowd at Alfred, considering the reports from the Dead's other college shows at the, say, Harpur on 5/2.

    I'm not sure the "Evening with the Grateful Dead" billing was used that much. I see it on the 5/15 and Sept '70 Fillmore East posters, and on the 8/70 Fillmore West run....don't know if it was advertised at other shows on tour. More commonly it was "Grateful Dead, Featuring the New Riders."

    Then there's the question of money. You assume that, with the New Riders along, the Dead would have made more per show. But do we know this? There were still several summer 1970 shows in which other opening bands appeared along with NRPS, so the Dead didn't consistently eliminate other openers that year.
    And I'm also skeptical that they would've demanded a higher fee for an "Evening," as the ticket prices apparently didn't go up til the fall. From a random examination of 1970 advance-ticket prices:
    1/10 - $3.50
    1/16 - $3.50
    2/20, 2/22 - $4.50
    4/3 - $3.00
    5/7 - $3.00
    5/10 - $3.00
    6/12 - $3.50
    7/14 - $3.00
    9/26 - $3.75
    10/11 - $4.00
    10/23 - $5.00 (!)
    10/31 - $4.00
    12/22 - $3.00
    (Of course, many available Fillmore East/Capitol tickets have a higher price like $5.50, I think for better seats.)

    As for the Hot Tuna parallel, I did note that Hot Tuna started playing separate shows in Jan '69, and the Hartbeats may have been an example for them... And if Hot Tuna were doing their own sets alongside Airplane shows in '69, the Dead may well have noted it for themselves.

    By the way, what was the redacted Pigpen story? Was it too vile to be repeated?

  2. No, not vile at all. And wouldn't even be illegal in a great many states any more, really. Just erring on the side of caution.

  3. Truly an epic and important post. There is so much to think about here. For now, I'll start with a couple of quick points.

    First of all, I think the reason to invert the NRPS and AGD sets was mainly an equipment issue. NRPS and then GD was more "logical," but the acoustic instruments would have been amplified by a tangle of microphones around the players. Thus the crew would have had to set up the NRPS in a conventional "electric" fashion, then move the equipment around to set up the acoustics, then reset the electric set up. Once they tried it, it made more sense to have the two electric combos go one after the other.

    As to LIA's interesting comment about ticket prices, it's important to remember that back in 1969-70, almost all concerts had two or three acts, not just the Fillmores. The ticket prices didn't change, but the NRPS were getting the $250-$500 that an opener would have got. Once the NRPS had a following they probably got more than that.

    The points about the Hartbeats>Hot Tuna>NRPS narrative are fascinating. It's worth noting that the Airplane had a slightly different problem than the Dead: they wanted to extend their shows for financial reasons (plus Jack and Jorma felt like it), but the voices of the singers could not be expected to hold up for a three hour concert. By having some blues jamming in the middle, Grace, Marty and the rest of them kept their voices from going South. I believe Grace in particular had to be careful with her voice.

  4. This is an odd venue. Alfred University’s old Davis Gymnasium has a wooden track at floor level. The track is banked where it curves. A small, dark, dreary facility from the 1920s. Students say the track is a rarity, one of the few such wooden tracks left. Indeed, some even want it preserved. I’m no expert in gymnasium history, but I haven’t seen a wood track like this one before. I’ve seen both old and new tracks suspended at mezzanine level, but never a wooden track at floor level.
    Like the gym, the track has seen better days. The gym’s entrance is on the upper level. The gym itself extends back beneath a curving roof. Arch trusses made of wood support the roof. The columns that support the trusses are also wood. The track goes behind the staircase leading down from the upper level. (Lawrence Biemiller)

    The College was founded in 1908 and joined the newly organized State University of New York (SUNY) system in 1948. (Alfred Univ. website)

    Lawrence Biemiller's photos

  5. "The ticket prices didn't change, but the NRPS were getting the $250-$500 that an opener would have got."

    Which means the Dead got LESS money whenever they played with NRPS in 1970-71?
    Remember, often in mid-'70 there was still another opening band to pay as well; and by '71 the Dead could have chosen to do without NRPS, but didn't.

    This would make NRPS something quite different than a "side project" pursued to "pay the bills," as far as the rest of the Dead were concerned. Though, conceivably Jerry could've been double-paid.

    As far as set order, I think the equipment-changing issue makes sense - although, apparently not so much sense that the Dead didn't keep doing their electric/acoustic/electric format for 3 months before this!

    By the way - there's a little comment in the listening notes: "Maybe they were up too late the night before (4/30) playing with the NRPS at the Matrix."
    Which seems odd, since you've shown that the "4/30" NRPS tape is a misdate. So not only is there now no sign of a 4/30 Matrix show, it seems almost foolhardy to me for the band to play a night at the Matrix, and then face an early-morning plane ride for a New York show the next night. (The Dead's equipment may have been trucked from the 4/26 Wisconsin festival show, but in this case NRPS gear would have to fly.)
    Granted, that was the musician's life, but I can't think of any other examples where Jerry played an SF club the day before an east-coast Dead show.

  6. There was a wink ;-) after that comment about 4/30/70.

    Do we know that Hart plays drums on these acoustic sets? I was just skimming over Festival Express (amazing) and Billy K. is playing the drums during the acoustic set on 6/27/70 ("Don't Ease Me In").

  7. I don't think Hart ever played drums in the 1970 acoustic sets. All the ones I've heard, there seems to be just one drummer (usually being quite restrained). There's a picture from 5/15/70 which shows Hart standing off to the side during an acoustic set.

    So these sets would be a unique instance of the Dead having two drummers available but only using one. I guess they felt 2 drummers would clutter up the sound?

    Another bit on the New Riders - already well-known I'm sure, but worth repeating, from Garcia's Oct '70 Action World interview:

    "What's the scene with the New Riders of the Purple Sage? They weren't with you at Queens.

    It's a question of can we afford it, because it costs a lot of money to move a cat from the West Coast to the East Coast. And, like, at the Fillmore they pay us enough - where we can bring whatever we want, pretty much. But at other places, like, colleges and stuff like that where we're playing in a small hall and they're not going to have much in the way of gross capacity and everyone is going to bust in anyway, we can't afford to bring that many people and to do all that.

    Are the New Riders going to be with you at the Capitol Theater in early November?

    I think so, yeah. We take them with us when we can. We work it out in front but a lot of times whoever the promoter is says, "No, we don't want the New Riders 'cause we don't know who the fuck they are."

    They seem to be very much a part of "An Evening With The Grateful Dead."

    They're old friends."

    Another hint that bringing the New Riders along for shows was not really in the Dead's financial interests?

    And it does show that the "Evening with the Grateful Dead" label was familiar in 1970, since this interviewer mentions it; it sounds like he'd seen some Fillmore East shows earlier. (I've spotted it on a few more posters too, like for 7/14, 9/26, 11/27, and 12/22/70.)

    Interestingly, when Blair Jackson talks about the May '70 tour, he doesn't mention financial reasons: "Because the Dead were traveling with their own opening act, they were able to play concerts with no other group on the bill, so they could play longer sets and not have to worry about clearing another group's equipment from the stage before they went on."

    In the 1971 Rolling Stone interview, Jerry barely mentions the New Riders (not one question about acoustic sets!), except to say that it's easy to play with them, "they're trying to find another steel player so they can tour more independently," and - most interestingly - he says he likes bringing the NRPS team on tour because it's easier to travel in bigger groups:
    "If we go out in a small group we feel intimidated and get weird fast. If we go out there with a lot of us, it's much cooler."

    As an aside - I looked up mid-1970 shows where other bands appeared along with NRPS; really not that many.
    June 4-7, Fillmore West - Southern Comfort
    June 12-13 - Quicksilver (not an 'opening' band, though)
    June 19 - Country Joe, the Illusion (I don't think NRPS played)
    [June 21 - Sandy Bull, maybe others, but this wasn't a regular Dead show]
    July 14, 16 - Rubber Duck Co.
    The October Winterland shows don't count; for the next couple months it seems the Dead only appeared either by themselves or with NRPS, until December.
    Dec 21 - a whole host of openers, assuming the Dead played.
    Dec 23 - Hot Tuna, Lizard
    Dec 31 - Hot Tuna, Stoneground

  8. Very interesting research, LIA. I'm still convinced that touring with the NRPS was intended as a financially rewarding proposition, but it may not have been that way in actual fact.

    As to the Hart/Kreutzmann question, I had always assumed that since Hart drummed for NRPS, Bill drummed for the AGD. Not anything deep there, just a division of labor.

  9. I am not claiming that all of 1970 (even post-Mayday) was in the AEWTGD format, only that many shows were billed that way and that our understanding of that format is nuanced a little bit if my analysis of the set ordering is correct.

    I.e., AEWTGD didn't spring fully formed from the head of Zeus (nor of Cutler or McIntire or whomever), but was possibly a little more fluid.

    I had thought Garcia said something about just bringing the few extra guys out on the 10/19/71 interview, but if he did I did not note it. Hmmm ...

    I still think the Lennie and MG angles matter a lot insofar as Garcia is the object of our analysis. The standard account of 1970 is that they needed to simplify and they needed to commodify. Oh and they needed to do so in ways that were still artistically satisfying. Workingman's Dead embodies these imperatives. I would argue that NRPS and the AEWTGD structure does, too (though I downplay the artistic side too much in the post).

  10. I'm just throwing stuff out here to see if anything fits or can be of use!

    I think the Dead did the "Evening" format whenever possible in mid-1970, that they preferred to have the audience for a few hours to themselves, without the 'rotating between bands' that they'd endured through 1969.
    And, precise set-order aside, the "Evening" format was very much born complete on May 1, even if NRPS went first that day - it's a different structure than what the Dead had been doing.
    It looks like it was done mainly for artistic reasons - so that a show could build over time, and go through different styles, and be a real Experience.
    As reviewer Tom Zito put it, "Concerts started with acoustic instruments and gradually built into an overwhelming electrical wave...the Dead could make the ambience of a rock concert more like a religious service."

    I'm a little surprised to see that including NRPS seems not to have been a direct financial benefit for the Dead, aside from keeping the opener's share "within the family."

    The main strategy for the year was to stay on tour. (Although many folks don't realize, they'd played slightly more shows in '69 than in '70 - their workload was actually reduced a litte bit in '70).
    Financially, I think the format really didn't matter as much as just getting out there. 1971 seems to be when we get a more professional 'rationalized' touring approach - simpler shows, bigger audiences, fewer stops - but they were headed that way in 1970, and had to 'break the ground' first.

    Though they were simplifying in the studio, in terms of live shows, I think it took til the end of 1970 & 1971 to really see a "simplified" live Dead. In terms of set structure, electric sets from the first half of '70 frequently start right off with hard-jamming material, and it took a little longer for them to consistently do "slow starts" in the first sets.
    And doing acoustic sets at all was not simpler! It meant slowing down the show, adjusting equipment, struggling to get the sound right... It's telling that the band abandoned acoustic sets before the end of the year.
    But playing acoustically, as you talked about in the post, does point to the Dead's urge to diversify the shows & play a broader range of material.
    So it's a little ironic that heading into 1971, they decided (or just felt like) heading the other direction and narrowing their stylistic range instead....

    Anyway, not disputing anything, just adding some thoughts for a more nuanced view of the year!

  11. Its important to remember that the Dead were in dire financial straits in 1970, and could not look at any steps without considering the financial impact. Another way to look at the "name" of the New Riders was that even if the additional act didn't bring them too much money, it essentially paid for a longer show. The band could not afford to bring even three more people on the road without at least some sort of uptick in revenue.

    Part of the magic of the Dead is that Art took precedence over Commerce more often than not, and that's a rare thing to say about any band. Nonetheless, one reason other bands (Airplane not coincidentally excepted) were hesitant to bring extra players on the road was that they got no extra revenue for it. By "naming" one of their opening configurations the New Riders Of The Purple Sage, the band put themselves in a position to get paid, a novel solution.

  12. Bread crumbs on AEWTGD.

    “they just added Nelson and me to the Grateful Dead tour and we came along with them that way. That's when we first got started on the national scene and you heard us back there in 1970 on the East Coast at the Fillmore - "An Evening with the Grateful Dead featuring the New Riders of the Purple Sage” (Dawson in Troy 1991, 170).

    “That's when you only had to add Nelson's and my ticket to the tour and you had a whole new five-piece band to open, which made it quite handy. That got my songs exposed to a national audience a lot sooner than they would have been otherwise. We also had a gospel quartet that did some stuff. Nelson would play an acoustic and Bob Weir, Jerry, and I would come out and would sing a couple of gospel tunes.” (Dawson in Troy 1991, 170). I love he says “they had a gospel quartet”. A self-contained hippie hootenanny.

    ST: How did the concept of AEWTGD come about? Rock: “It came about because Jerry was playing pedal steel, and digging it. John Dawson knew Jerry and asked him to play pedal steel in the New Riders. “An Evening With The Grateful Dead” worked conceptually because the music of both bands went well together. It stopped being a concept when Jerry realized that playing pedal steel was screwing with his electric guitar playing. The instruments were so different from each [other] that his guitar playing was suffering” (Rock Scully in Troy 1991, 124).

  13. Re-reading this post, one thing that strikes me is the eyewitness comment that the number of audience members kept dropping through the show, til almost no one was left for the electric set.

    This seems, to me, to tie in directly with the re-formatting of the AEWTGD structure. 5/1, as this post shows, was ordered NRPS - Acoustic - Electric. That was the 'logical' order, since NRPS was the "opener" - but the Dead changed it immediately the next night, to Acoustic - NRPS - Electric.
    And I have to think that watching that opening audience dwindle played a part in that decision. People came to see this rumored band the Dead, but first they had to sit through an OK country-rock act, so they left, perhaps thinking that was all this band had to offer.
    So I suspect (aside from the equipment-setup point that Corry made) that was one reason the Dead decided to start off with Acoustic Dead on subsequent nights.

    Anyway - Garcia also pointed out in later interviews, as Rock Scully says, that playing pedal steel & electric at the same show became too difficult, and hurt his guitar playing. (Leaving me to wonder how he would have played in 1970-71 if he had not been in NRPS...)

    Garcia also talked vaguely in a 1970 interview about the origins of AEWTGD:
    "When we play at the Fillmore East, the place is set up as a theater. So instead of being the incidental music, or the house band, you’re there delivering something else. And you begin to think in terms of structuring your evening a certain way. That’s how we came up with the idea for the Evening with the Grateful Dead."
    (Michael Goodwin, "Jerry Garcia at 700 MPH," Flash, 1971)
    The idea seems to be for the Evening to be a sort of theatrical event, rather than a traditional concert. At least, with the Dead in control of the whole evening, they could structure & build the show more effectively.

  14. long time ago I was in a band with a guy named Geoff who was a senior at Alfred, and who saw the Dead that night. My buddy wasn't particularly into the Dead, he was more a blues guy, but it was a free show and he heard about the crazy California hippies, so he went.

    He stayed through all the sets and couldn't stop raving about the show. He also mentioned that a few minutes after the last set Mickey, Jerry and a few roadies grabbed the fire extinguishers and had a good old time spraying each other and laughing hysterically ....

  15. Perhaps the Philip Oby observation "during the break at the end of a very solid set the audience dropped from about 250 people to around 150 hearty souls. I guess they thought it was country music." had something to do with reformatting AEWGD to AGD > NRPS > EGD? Maybe the Dead noticed the same, or comments were made to them to that effect? But I think Corry's comment about how the stage setup for NRPS > AGD > EGD would be more work and less optimal for the acoustic set would have to be a big factor as well. I dunno. Just my 2 cents.

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  17. The archives for the Alfred University student paper are online in their entirety.

    There is, in fact, an ad for this show, which was part of the official Alfred College Spring Weekend for freshman parents.

    The show is advertised as "The Greatful Dead" at the Student Activities Center, from 8-9:45. No mention of the New Riders or "An Evening With..."

    See the bottom of page 2:

  18. Very cool to see the AU student paper ad. Ticket pricing for the Spring Weekend seems to confirm the show wasn't free, as was already contested within the above post and its comments.

  19. Much belated thanks for the compliments to Deadlists above, JJ. Your work is carrying on and extending the tradition handsomely, and thanks for that, too.

    Ultimately we need to assemble a complete (as possible) searchable data base with accurate timings for all the songs, so that we can ask and find instantaneous, e.g. extra long Altheas, allowing hunting out extra-jammed out versions.


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