(This is an updated version of an earlier post,
“GD/NRPS19700731-19700801: Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA, 4/20/2011.)
“GD/NRPS19700731-19700801: Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA, 4/20/2011.)
Some time back, I reported listings for "New Riders of the Purple Sage & Grateful Dead, Lion's Share, 9 pm" for both July 31, 1970 and August 1, 1970, in the calendar section of the Berkeley Tribe. Here’s the scan (click to enlarge). (FWIW, the Tribe calendar’s name was commonly “George”. This day, it was “David” [at the tag end of the question “how about George David?”.)
Calendar section of the Berkeley Tribe v3 n4 (no 56) (July 31 - August 7, 1970), back page.
I have just uncovered a few more tidbits, so I am updating the whole original post. The tidbits are a calendar listing and a preview ‘blurb’ establishing to my satisfaction that the New Riders of the Purple Sage and Acoustic Grateful Dead played the Lion’s Share, 66 Red Hill Avenue, San Anselmo, CA, 94960 on Thursday, July 30, 1970, in addition to the previously-established shows the next two nights.
Today,” San Francisco Chronicle, July
30, 1970, p. 41;|
“’Purple Sage’ At Lion’s Share,” San Francisco Chronicle, July 30, 1970, p. 41.
1. The New Riders of the Purple Sage and Acoustic Grateful Dead played the Lion’s Share, 66 Red Hill Avenue, San Anselmo, CA, 94960 on Thursday, July 30, 1970, in addition to the previously-established shows the next two nights (July 31-August 1, 1970).
2. Michelle’s Mc’s Midsummer 1970 Memories of Acoustic GD at Lion's Share seem confirmed.
With the addition of the Thursday night to our understanding of this run, we can now confirm four of the five confirmable assertions made by Corry's informant "Michelle Mc", as relayed by him at LLD:
The acoustic Grateful Dead played a number of shows at the Lion's Share. They played two or three nights in a row, on a weeknight in the middle of the summer of 1970. She knows--she went. These shows were utterly unpublicized, and only friends of the band were given the heads up.
- Acoustic Grateful Dead: confirmed.
- “two or three nights in a row”: confirmed.
- “weeknight”: confirmed.
- Midsummer 1970: confirmed.
- No publicity: disconfirmed. The idea that these shows were mostly for GD family insiders is supported by the fact that the Saturday show was Jerry Garcia’s 28th birthday. If it appeared in the Chron –and more importantly, given that there was an item in the Chron—it was no secret. However, it’s possible that the Share staff called the papers, but weren’t supposed to.
3. Acoustic Grateful Dead
The item and Michelle’s memory make it clear that the Grateful Dead played acoustically (AGD). This brings the 7/30/70 and 8/5/70 tapes to mind, the only two all-acoustic GD nights –billed as such—that I can think of.
4. What About The Tapes?
By the tapes, I refer to the New Riders tape and an Acoustic Grateful Dead tape (shnid 17077), both dated 7/30/70 and said to be from the Matrix. First, given the relative reliability of an “Opening Tonight” item in the Chron and a Matrix tape label, I propose that our lists (i.e., The List) be updated to list GD at Lion’s Share this night, and not at the Matrix.
Second, I had actually offered some analysis and speculation about all of this in the 7/30/70 installation of my still-unconcluded NRPS-Matrix-1970 series. Let me just quote myself at length.
Note that the first NRPS piece (I'll call it set I) runs only 23 minutes. Normally, we would conclude that it's incomplete (and probably missing the material at the start of the set, since there's a set break announcement over continuous tape after Lodi). I do think it's probably incomplete. But it could also be that this night was different, and ended up including the mini GD acoustic set. That might have substituted for at least some part of the expected additional NRPS material.
The tapes do suggest that there was a three-part show on 7/30/70: (I) NRPS, (II) AGD, (III) NRPS. I think the billings fit hand-in-glove with this structure, because …
5. ... The NRPS Appear to Have Been Headliners Above the GD
I think this newly-discovered evidence supports the view that these tape fragments are of a piece, insofar as NRPS seem to be headlining over the Grateful Dead. As far as I know, this is the only time such an arrangement, a kind of inversion of the “An Evening With the Grateful Dead” set structure (see my discussion in connection with a 5/1/70 analysis), ever materialized.
In my post “NRPS-Matrix-1970 05 of 7: LN19700730: Thursday, July 30, 1970”, I had run the discovery of the Tribe listings for 7/31 and 8/1 through evidence provided by the tapes, and said this:
I am intrigued by the possibility that the order in which the acts are listed for those shows might reflect that NRPS was "first billed" over the GD, which might be consistent with NRPS doing two sets and GD just a little acoustic one.
The discovery of another (partially independent) piece of data from the Chron reinforces this connection between these shows and these tapes, in my mind. Both of the calendar listings put the New Riders first, and the Grateful Dead second. If I understand how such listings came about, this correlation is partly spurious: presumably the same person from the Share or from the GD offices called the item into both the Tribe and the Chron. But there may be at least some independence among these observations, insofar as the staffers at the two separate newspapers did not turn the order around and put the GD first. That would have been the obvious, natural thing to do. As far as I know, this is the only time the New Riders are billed over the Grateful Dead. I think the fact that things are billed this way in both papers is no accident. I believe (pure conjecture, of course) that these were quite explicitly and consciously listed as NRPS-GD.
The headline of the preview item, “’Purple Sage’ At Lion’s Share”, especially, reinforces this. It is, I think, incredible to imagine that, under usual circumstances, this would not have said “Dead At Lion’s Share”. Woe betide the Chronicle lackey who should make the mistake of headlining the second act instead of the Grateful Goddamned Dead! No. This was quite consciously constructed with the New Riders at the top of the bill, and the Grateful Dead at the bottom.
I view this as just one more incremental step in the gradual speciation of the New Riders from the Grateful Dead.
David Torbert had been around as NRPS bassist (I said, NRPS bassist. Or, NRPS personnel more generally!) since probably April. They had done a number of high-profile gigs in the An Evening With the Grateful Dead format. I don’t have precise dates for when they started working on the first New Riders album in the studio, but it is certainly right around this time. Dryden said that Tolbert was brought for the express purpose of making an album (Kahlbacher 1974, 27). By mid-1970 the cognoscenti are starting to ask about the Riders’ studio plans (Hard Road interview, took place on 6/22/70). In October 1970, Garcia says that the NRPS record is “about 50% underway” (Goodwin 1971).
We also know, conventionally, that on the Festival Express train a month or so prior to 7/30/70, Garcia had spotted a hotshit pedal steel wizard named Buddy Cage and appeared immediately to have conceived the idea of bringing the Canadian on as his own full-time and permanent replacement. This seems only to have put flesh on the bones of a general plan that he harbored all along, to help found and launch the Riders, help his friends out financially by getting them a record deal (and the attending patch of land in Marin or Sonoma or wherever) and making them famous, and then stepping out gracefully. He was already public with a desire to step back by late 1970: “I think eventually it would be groovy if they auditioned other steel players so they could go out and tour, without having to depend on the Dead” (12/27/70 KPPC-FM interview, shnid 26583).
So, why would NRPS have been top-billed at a local show in a little Marin club that held like 212 people? It’s not like this was their big break. I don’t think they were planning on this being the launch of a national tour in this configuration, of course. Most plausible seems to be just that they wanted to keep things low key, and probably especially the GD guys. These quiet acoustic sets, with loads of wonderful spirituals and such (Jordan, A Voice From On High), along the lines of show known as 8/5/70 San Diego, are profoundly relaxed. From my listen to the NRPS set dated 7/30/70, I said “sounds like just a good old time foolin' around at the bar. It seems to run quite late." Here are Cousin Ace (Bob Weir) and Marmaduke to a sparse and shrinking late-night crowd:
Cousin Ace: “Well the rats are desertin' the sinkin' ship. And, uhh, in the meanwhile we're gonna do a ...” [interruption by Marmaduke: "Welcome to the campfire folks... "] “... hot lead and bloodshed ballad ...” ["... this is story time ..."] “...sad story time ...” ["... here on the plains"] …
All of the tapes in the NRPS-1970-Matrix nexus (feels redundant, but better than NRPS-1970-Matrix matrix!) have that kind of feel. More of alcohol vibe (a la the Festival Express train) than an acid- or coke-fueled one.
So, putting this all together, I think it was probably just a fun, low key, local trial balloon designed to try on what it would look like to have the New Riders go first.
6. What About The Tapes? Part II
So, do the tapes that circulate come from the Lion’s Share? I don’t know. I am honestly pretty stumped.
Everything I know about Lion’s Share tapes has pretty much been posted. Garcia shows are overrepresented since Betty taped so much. Outside of those the only period in which I know tape was regularly spinning at the Share was June 1971-January 1972, when soundman Lou Judson made an impressive handful of recordings.
I cannot explain why the “7/30/70” material comes out of “Matrix Tapes”. The likeliest possibilities, it seems to me, are
- that the material is from the Matrix, and is mis-dated (though not by much), and the similarities of the tapes and these Lion's Share shows is spurious. Maybe the tapes really are from 7/27/70, as "Mickey Hart and the Hart Beats, with Jerry Garcia", a billing I have just confirmed at LIA's place, also from the Chron (7/27/70, p. 37); or
- the material is correctly dated, but comes from the Lion’s Share (e.g., taped by the GD folks), and somehow eventually made it into (or became conflated with) the Matrix Tapes; or
- the 7/30/70 show was moved from the Share to the Matrix.
I doubt #3, but #1 and #2 seem about equally plausible to me.
7. NRPS : GD :: Hot Tuna : Jefferson Airplane
Just wanted to note that the Chron item draws this analogy. It’s true for a time, and interesting. Around the same time that Jack and Jorma are branching out from well-known “day-bands” to play some American roots music on the side (alongside, early on, some really hot rock jamming) –which seems to begin in earnest ca. January 1969—Garcia and others in the GD are doing the same thing. It’s obvious, but since I have Jerry and the Jeffersons on the brain I thought I’d bring it up.
Of course, after the initial period, the arcs of Hot Tuna and NRPS diverge. NRPS ends up completely speciated from the GD in terms of personnel and, eventually, organization. Garcia builds it up and then walks away from it. Hot Tuna, of course, always has and always will include (no, really, "be") Jack and Jorma.
Summarizing, six take home points.
- This began as a way to just put another event into The List: NRPS/GD at Lion’s Share on Thursday, July 30, 1970, based on evidence from the San Francisco Chronicle.
- It seems to confirm the recollection by Corry’s informant Michelle Mc of Acoustic GD sets at Lion’s Share in midsummer 1970.
- It is suggestive of one of the only all-acoustic GD sets, ever (alongside San Diego, 8/5/70).
- It dovetails almost perfectly with the tapes we have that are dated 7/30/70, though said to be from the Matrix: two NRPS sets sandwiched around a homey AGD set that also features David Nelson and Marmaduke.
- It seems to be a rare (perhaps the only) instance of the NRPS headlining over the GD, a kind of reversal of the “An Evening With the Grateful Dead” format (AGD, NRPS, EGD) of 1970. I have argued that this is a small milestone in the gradual (over two year!) differentiation of the NRPS from the GD, which culminated in Buddy Cage taking over Garcia’s pedal steel bench in November 1971.
- I don’t know how to reconcile the tapes (said to be from the Matrix) with the rest of the evidence.
There we have it. Why say it in 50 words when you can say it in 2,300?!?
- Arnold, Corry. 2011. John Kahn Live Performance History 1970 (John Kahn IV). Lost Live Dead, March 20, 2011, URL http://lostlivedead.blogspot.com/2011/03/john-kahn-live-performance-history-1970.html, accessed 2/21/2012.
- “Datebook/Opening Today,” San Francisco Chronicle, July 30, 1970, p. 41.
- Goodwin, Michael. 1971. Jerry Garcia at 700 MPH: Incidental Music at the Celebration of Life. Flash no. 0: 32-39.
- “Jerry Garcia,” Hard Road 1, 1 (July 20, 1970), pp 1-4 (unnumbered).
- JGMF. 2011. “GD/NRPS19700731-19700801: Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA.” Jerry Garcia’s Middle Finger, April 20, 2011, URL http://jgmf.blogspot.com/2011/04/gdnrps19700731-19700801-lions-share-san.html, accessed 2/21/2012. Deprecated as of 2/21/2012
- Kahlbacher, Gene. 1974. Aquarian Interview: New Riders of the Purple Sage. Aquarian, January 29-February 12, 1974, pp. 14, 27, 31. Annotated at http://jgmf.blogspot.com/2011/03/reading-notes-kahlbacher-gene-1974.html.
- Light Into Ashes [LIA]. 2011. The Hartbeats - July 1970. Grateful Dead Guide, March 30, 2011, URL http://deadessays.blogspot.com/2011/03/hartbeats-july-1970.html, accessed 2/12/2012.
- “’Purple Sage’ At Lion’s Share,” San Francisco Chronicle, July 30, 1970, p. 41.