Please make yourself at home! Check some tags, do some reading, leave a comment.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Merl Saunders - May 28, 1972

Corry has done more than anyone to probe into the relative blank spot that is summer 1972 for the Jerry Garcia - Merl Saunders live aggregation.
As Corry says in the latter post, linking to the former: "there were almost no Garcia-Saunders shows in 1972, save for a two-week window in late June-early July, when Kahn and Saunders seem to have been back in town."

I have nothing major to add, just a tiny listing I found for Merl to play in the City on 5/28/72:

May 28, 1972: Merl Saunders and Friends and the Flowing Stream Ensemble, S.F. Museum of Art, McAllister at Van Ness, 2-4 pm, free.

I suspect that careful work spinning through SF Chronicle listings (which has not been done, to my knowledge, for the 1971ff period which interests me) will uncover more. In the meantime, here's a random one.

Harpur College NRPS set

"Enough about the Dead, how was the New Riders' set?" - one guy, once

Any Deadhead worth her salt knows the Harpur College gig from May 2, 1970. It's a monster, one of the Dead's best, and long-circulating from FM tapes; it has blown a lot of minds.

I don't remember hearing much about the New Riders set from this night's Evening With the Grateful Dead, so I thought I'd check it out.

Performance: NRPS "meh", but Bobby Ace is real good

Sometimes, things aren't much noted because they aren't really noteworthy. I'd say that's the case here: this is easily the weakest of the sets played this night.

Arrangements need work. Nelson needs more volume and/or confidence. Marmaduke's grating singing gets in the way of enjoying his great songwriting. Garcia and the rest of the band sound fine, but this is only really their second night out and they can't quite unstick the cobwebs wisping over their ears and through their fingers.

I really like the Bobby Ace interregnum. Bobby was coming into his own as a guitarist, singer and stage presence at this time, and this is the perfect feature for the beautiful young man, in well-worn boots, jeans and collarless shirt, with the long pony tail and the handsome persona. The songs are simply wonderful. See my little sketch of the Bobby Ace repertoire here. "Sawmill" is a great little Garciaverse rarity. Country legend Mel Tillis wrote the tune and first released it in 1959 (deaddisc), and the Riders' idol Buck Owens covered it, but it was Tillis's 1973 version that hit #3 on the charts (wiki). This is a great tune! "The Race Is On" also hit #3 on the country charts, for George Jones in 1965. The Dead played it a bunch in 1973, and in the 1980s revived it whenever they'd play on Kentucky Derby Day (e.g., 5/3/86, 5/6/89, 5/5/90), always a vernal treat for Bay Area fans. Merle Haggard got all the way to #1 in August of '68 with "Mama Tried", soon also picked up by the Dead. I prefer the NRPS arrangement, as I do with MAMU. These songs just sound great with steel.

Context: On Campus, May 1970

Still, the context is super interesting. "Harpur College", known to Deadheads the world over for the monster show played on this night. But this was An Evening With the Grateful Dead, and I don't recall seeing much discussion of the evening's middle set by the Dead's white country cousinage, the New Riders of the Purple Sage. This particular zoo got rolling on Friday, May 1st at little Alfred College in upstate New York and steamed into Binghamton for a Saturday show which is an indispensable part of the GD Legend on the East Coast, its economic lifeblood for fifty years. A large generation of baby-boom (and post) northeast corridorians and other city dwellers bought tickets at the time and now buy beautiful, multimodal nostalgia, delivered to the couch, street, car and garden. The Dead were a San Francisco band cashing New York checks. "Harpur  College" - every Deadhead, at least, knows those two words. See the Wolinsky review for some flavor.

More broadly, say "college campus" and "Spring 1970", and I am all ears, because this was a really weird time in American history, worth recalling as we consider our current polarization. The Dead played colleges on both sides of the May 4th Kent State shootings. You remember those, "four dead in Ohio" as CSNY put it, and this:

John Filo's Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of Mary Ann Vecchio screaming over the dead body of Jeffrey Miller, May 4, 1970, Kent State University.
On May 4, 1970 members of the Ohio National Guard fired into a crowd of Kent State University demonstrators, killing four and wounding nine Kent State students. The impact of the shootings was dramatic. The event triggered a nationwide student strike that forced hundreds of colleges and universities to close. H. R. Haldeman, a top aide to President Richard Nixon, suggests the shootings had a direct impact on national politics. In The Ends of Power, Haldeman (1978) states that the shootings at Kent State began the slide into Watergate, eventually destroying the Nixon administration. Beyond the direct effects of the May 4th, the shootings have certainly come to symbolize the deep political and social divisions that so sharply divided the country during the Vietnam War era. (Lewis and Hensley, ND).
 Here's the Dead's itinerary, in the thick of things:
  • 5/1: Alfred College
  • 5/2: Harpur College
  • 5/3: Wesleyan
  • 5/4-5/5: no shows
  • 5/6: MIT (free in Kresge Plaza)
  • 5/7: MIT (DuPont Gym)
  • 5/8: SUNY Delhi
  • 5/9: Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  • 5/10: Atlanta
The Dead's set furiously rages and is truly of its time. The NRPS set is just some guys trying to get it together, which I guess we could say is timeless.

Listening notes below the fold.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

DeeDee Dickerson Discography

I recently posted a little bit of information from the John Scher Presents program for JGB 5/31/83. It included a little bio on the various band members.

In comments, nick picked up on Dee Dee Dickerson's work with Pharoah Sanders, and posted link to Donna Dickerson at discogs.I had not known her name was Donna. Anyway, following Nick's lead, I combed through discogs and allmusic and tried to put together a little discography.

Because Google Docs's embedding technology sucks, here's a direct link. The technology sucks in other ways, as for example by dropping the right most "notes" column I have made in my Excel spreadsheet, but I deal with that now.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Accounting the JGB: October 8, 1975

Since we are having fun with a few provisions around how the JGB was billed and advertised for the October 8, 1975 (Wednesday!) shows at the Del Mar Theatre in Santa Cruz [JGC 7:30 PM | JGC 10:30 PM | map | JGBP venue, but 'Theatre' is correct], why don't we look at this in some more detail.

Here's how the promoter's (YEA Productions) accounts might have looked:

Table xxx. Promoter Expenses and Revenues, JGB, October 8, 1975

839 paying customers for the 7:30 PM engagement, 1,392 for the late show, building capacity ca. 1,450 for this show.

Jerry Band getting $5k this night, opener Doug Haywood gets $300.

There were apparently posters made, though I don't think I have seen any. Lights by Photon Drive. Radio ads on KLRB, KFAT, KDON, KBEZ, KOME. Print in Sundaze, Good Times (is this the same one that started in San Francisco?), and the Santa Cruz Sentinel. The carnations are a nice touch. It also seems nice to have offered to buy the refreshments, though the rebate from Garcia Band management (Richard Loren) could be read as Garcia effectively buying this night.

Seems like a lot of work for a eleven hundred bucks, but then again, what else you gonna do on a Wednesday night? Jerry would come back down to the Del Mar twice in 1976, Thursday 2/26 (two shows) and Thursday 8/19 [JGC], the latter of which is a great show with a really attractive poster, which I'll leave you with in closing. (Notice the billing!)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Billing the JGB: October 8, 1975

Billing shall be as follows without deviation:

JERRY GARCIA BAND 100% size type

Featuring 25% size type

Nicky Hopkins 75% size type
John Kahn 75% size type
Ron Tutt 75% size type

The names of each band member shall appear below "JERRY GARCIA BAND" in any and all forms of advertising in the order listed and shown above. Artist must approve all radio spots and only those songs approved by Artist shall be used. The names of each band member shall be used in all radio advertising after the name JERRY GARCIA BAND. The name Grateful Dead or the association of Jerry Garcia as a member of the Grateful Dead shall not be exploited or used in any manner in any and all advertising and publicity, including marquee and radio advertising. Any violation of the above billing and advertising demands shall be grounds for non -performance with full contract price due Artist.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

I sing the blues, where has it led?

LN jg1983-05-31.jgb.all.aud-vita.76578.flac1644

On Tuesday, May 31, 1983, the Jerry Garcia Band lit up an SRO West 52nd Street institution, the venerable Roseland Ballroom, with one of the finest shows of the 1980s.  On any given night, Jerry Garcia could deliver the fucking goods, and this is the fucking goods. Everything crackles. I have titled the post with a line from the show opening "Rhapsody In Red", the big rocker from 1978's Cats Under The Stars that worked beautifully with Jerry's grungy, metallic, 1983 JGB sound. This one is a rip-snorter.

I notice Greg Errico's deep, thudding percussion this night and Melvin being a little tentative. I feel Garcia very much in an R&B space, shaking his sweaty mane and tearing the shit out of several solos. Very high energy show. See notes.

The John Scher Presents program for this night is nothing to write home about, aesthetically. But I'll post scans of the last two pages, with a few comments.

John Scher Presents program for JGB at Roseland Ballroom, 5/31/83-6/1/83, p. 3.

Standard little band bio, of course. But check out these details, some of which hadn't quite stuck in my brain.
MELVIN SEALS | Organ | Has quite an extensive background in Broadway productions having worked on four shows, including " Evolution Of The Blues". Other music talents he's worked with include Oscar Brown, Buddy Miles and Elvin Bishop, as well as Maria Muldaur and Chuck Berry. Melvin is a producer for a company out of Nashville and has produced such Gospel greats as the Hawkins Family. The Martin Luther King television special is one prestigious project he has participated in. Melvin has been with the Garcia band for three years now, and also directs the current female singers in the band.
I have to check this info against what I know. But I found the last line, about Melvin directing the female singers, to be very interesting. I had always assumed that Kahn dealt with arrangements, but this implies a more elaborate (and possibly alternative) set of arranging responsibilities.
JACKIE LA BRANCH | Backup Vocals | A recent addition to the band, she has been mainly singing gospel with the San Francisco Inspirational Choir, and has worked with Maria Muldaur on gospel tunes.
DEE DEE DICKERSON | Backup Vocals | Another recent addition, she has been working with some of the industry heavies for years. Her long list includes Herbie Hancock, Taj Mahal, Pharaoh Sanders, and Quicksilver Messenger Service.
Both these girls have been a welcome addition to the band and the audience's enjoyment is evident. The ladies are great!
I sure would like to know more about the ladies, and be in touch with them if at all possible. If you know them, please have them be in touch! I'd like to learn more.

Finally, a little piece of capitalism from the back cover:

John Scher Presents program for JGB at Roseland Ballroom, 5/31/83-6/1/83, p. 4 (back cover).

I am sure there had been lots of GD and JGB cross-promotions over the years, but for whatever reason this struck me. I love how, for lack of something else to draw attention to, the ad for the GD's Go To Heaven promotes it on the basis of including "Don't Ease Me In," perhaps the only time in history capitalism managed such a crass feat. The Run For The Roses selections don't look that appealing either, come to think of it. Oh well. Play on, Jerry.

Jerry Garcia Band
Roseland Ballroom
239 West 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019

May 31, 1983 (Tuesday)
Vita flac1644 shnid-76578

--set I (7 tracks, 50:32)--
s1t01. tuning [0:37]
s1t02. Rhapsody In Red [10:17] [0:04] %
s1t03. They Love Each Other
s1t04. That's What Love Will Make You Do ]10:03] % [0:04]
s1t05. Valerie [6:48] [0:04] ->
s1t06. How Sweet // It Is (To Be Loved By You)
s1t07. Run For The Roses [5:00] (1) [0:06]

--set II + encore (8 tracks, 68:33)--
-- set II (7 tracks, 60:44)--
s2t01. tuning [0:15]
s2t02. The Harder They Come [15:16] [0:03] % [0:12]
s2t03. Mission In The Rain [9:28] [0:03] % [0:06]
s2t04. Mississippi Moon 
s2t05. Tangled Up In Blue [12:15] [0:03] %
s2t06. /Gomorrah [5:49] ->
s2t07. Deal [8:25] (2) [0:03] % [0:02]
--encore (1 track, 7:49)--
s2t08. Midnight Moonlight [7:43] [0:06] %

! ACT1: Jerry Garcia Band #15b
! Lineup: Jerry Garcia - el-g, vocals;
! Lineup: John Kahn - el-bass;
! Lineup: Melvin Seals - keyboards (Hammond B-3 organ);
! Lineup: Greg Errico - drums;
! Lineup: Jacklyn LaBranch - vocals;
! Lineup: DeeDee Dickerson - vocals.


! 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:

! db: (unknown MAC shnf); (senn 441 shnf); (Cohen shnf); (Vita flac1644, this fileset).

! venue:

! band: JGB #15b (

! map:

! R: field recordist: Jim Vita

! R: field recording gear: 2x Sennheiser 421 > Sony D-5 (Maxell UDXLII)

! R: transfer and FLAC encoding by David Minches:

Master played back on Nakamichi Dragon > ART DI/O > Digital Audio Labs Card Deluxe soundcard > Cool Edit 2000 > flac encoding > FLAC.

! R: shnid-4416 note: 04/07/2007, jjoops-garcia: "The cassette flip at the start of Run for the Roses suggests that this could be from Vita's master, though of course it's possible that others besides Vita got caught flipping there. "

! historical: Diamorphine, 2014-04-23 00:35:35: "Saw both shows and still remember being blown away by the Don't Let Go [on 6/1]. The place was hot and packed with people and the music just rumbled inside of you. It's seeing shows like this, with the band just feet away from you, the whole place dancing, made the thought of JGB at MSG or the like totally impossible."

! P: s1t02 RIR hot hot hot late 5 acid molten playing, tearing the shit out of it over 6-minute mark. No warmup needed this night - he is fully frothed here. 6:35ish some interesting tone. Very fluid in 6:40 range, hot, tight, fast, sharp, lots of good adjectives for this, over 7. Pulling a little 7:11 ff, more pulling train whistle 7:17. Letting it breathe post 7:30. Man, so nice. On any given night, Jerry Garcia could deliver the fucking goods, and this is the fucking goods. 8:20 churning some chunkier stuff, 8:33, 8:38 pure metal strumming, chunky percussive but shorter pulls interspersed with those earlier longer phrases, 9:08, he's Chuck Berry, signalling back to the song. Seizes the '1' at 9:23 and sings. Wow. That is a masterpiece of a performance right out of the gate.

! P: s1t03 TLEO is not a song I love, but this version is really good.

! P: s1t04 TWLWMYD from 4:45 there is some exemplary playing, then he does some very well controlled pulls around 5:05 and 5:10 - check this out. More energy 5:30, another turn round the bases. 6:05 he steps back and comps, Melvin is a little slow to take the cue. He's playing 6:15ff, but not loud at all. Now 6:30 he does a big B3 swoop. Still super low in the mix, but that could be the tape. See also a similar reaction I have from, when, 8/11/84? Melvin coming in with about a 'C' grade feature. Now louder over 7. There you go, big fella, lean into it, groove to it, loosen up! (Then again, maybe he was tearing it up, but wasn't mixed loud!) 7:30ff Garcia steps up for some guitar playing, playing of the guitar. Hitting real hard over 8, tight and clean and fluid, an extra up 8:15, great tone, and yet another run 8:27ff! Really hot. Everything has something extra this night. Wow. Errico does a big run down 9:21 ish,  hits again 9:34, he's awesome. Gar gives it his best R&B head shake.

! P: s1t05 Valerie the shit Garcia is doing 4:30 is absolutely evil. He lands cleanly on "I ain't afraid of the cold cruel world outside" ... he sounds great. He's really got his R&B-guy-singing-about-his-baby working well this night.

! R: s1t06 HSII some kind of tape nastiness @ 4:10.

! P: s1t06 HSII even this rocks this night! He puts a filter on in the 4-minute range, a little more flavorful tone, and he's really hitting some great notes through the minute mark. Melvin steps up post 5 with his nice HSII solo that he did. Garcia only comes to lead 6:30, and he is awn fiyah. 6:58 more high register work, 7:16 nice pull. He is one with Motown, huge chords 7:30, really loud, loud major chording guitar playing to the "open my eyes at night" @ 7:44. This is a huge performance to this point. Huge. Man, Jerry loved NYC.

! P: s1t07 RFTR I love that he played this extra song. He could very well have called it after that incendiary HSII. But he is not settling on this night. So, tip o' the cap. His voice is starting to sound a little ragged, but his guitar playing is great and the band is very tight.

! R: s1t07 RFTR 0:02 - 0:07 patched (crossfade) from Mark Cohen's master; Nak 700s > Sony D-5.

! s1t07 (1) JG: "We're gonna take for a few minutes. We'll be back in a little while."

! P: s2t02 HTC classic JGB version of this song. Notes shoving each other aside 5:30, another set of scaling runs 6:05ff. Fingers are going a mile a minute. His voice sounds tired, I am worried about some of these tunes coming up.

! P: s2t03 MITR has pep. Good but brief fan @ 7:15

! P: s2t05 TUIB very hot. Garcia puts some big effects on late 7 over 8 and this is rockin'. More big effects 8:39, more a minute later. Very expressive, articulate, powerful guitar work. Still really extending his phrases a minute later, not phrases, sentences, or even mere paragraphs, but whole narratives, hits a great little note 11:07. Wow, this is absolutely rockin'. Errico is BANGING.

! R: s2t06 Gomorrah clips in

! P: s2t07 Deal is also hot. Listen to little run 5:28. Whole band is on, but Jerry is smokin' hot.

! s2t07 (2) JG: "Thank you. See ya later."

! P: s2t08 MM even Midnight Moonlight has it all this night. What a show.

working without TJS

By now, anyone reading this knows that The Jerry Site (TJS) is no more.There's lots to say about that, and more to do, but not right now.

How do we replace TJS in engaging Garcia on The Side?

Short answer, we don't. It had some functionality that is not replaceable by any current resource. (JGC) is the current best source. It has the setlists and lots of other info from TJS, and can be a major improvement insofar as it allows commenting. That was a crucial lacuna at TJS, and it will allow "us" to put attendee recollections and such to the relevant shows much more efficiently than TJS could. I hope it becomes a focal point for first person accounts, comments, and lots of other things about Garcia shows.

But JGC doesn't allow the same kind of easy textual and chronological navigation, "just the data, ma'am," that TJS did. The artifice of moving pictures and moving product is obscuring the data underneath. I understand why that's the case, and as a consumer it's great - as a scholar, though, I have to lament it.

Here are the following functions I'd like to see at JGC.
  1. Much cleaner, table/text based display by year, fewer pictures and more data per page
  2. Automatically sorts chron, which for some mysterious reason JGC's current display doesn't seem to do?
  3. Clickable to any date.
  4. Clickable venue, so that a click returns the list of all shows played at the venue. (TJS had this for a time, but it went away some years ago.)
  5. Clickable city, as just above.
  6. Clickable state, as just above.
  7. Provide a toggle filter for GD, non-GD, both
  8. Searchable for song, returning results at TJS did - summary statistic (e.g., 189 times played), with tabulation of all shows.
  9. Better personnel metadata, searchable by performer; this all includes guests. The band data at are cool, and the timeline is exceptionally useful. I need to explore it more. But the personnel data are essential to preserve for future social network analysts.
Anyway, I hope they continue to refine the site. It looks great, and it can be mindblowing if further improved.

In the meantime, here's a tiny hack to make our lives easier: if you use their date format, you can enter dates at the end of URL and get where you want to go. In other words, easier search-by-date operation than the clunky clicks you have to undertake at the current site. The basic format is

For example:

This resolves to
. So I can find individual dates reasonably easily, which was not possible at TJS.

Anyway, let's keep the conversation going about what needs to be done to ensure that we limit backward movement in accessibility upon TJS's demise.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Loose Lucy

Jerry looking happy and energetic bringing "Loose Lucy" out of mothballs on 3/14/90.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Fun With Ngrams: Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia, 1965-1995

Here's the bigram relevant to evaluating some hypotheses I ventured in my"Garcia and Marley" post. 
Figure xxx. Google Bigram: "Grateful Dead" and "Jerry Garcia", 1965-1995

In that post, I hypothesized that "Jerry Garcia" and "Grateful Dead" would show an uptick 1986. On visual inspection the GD claim looks rightish: the 1986-1995 slope should be statistically significantly larger than the 1965-1985 slope. I am sure there's a simple test for that kind of structural break.

I think visual inspection suggests an uptick for "Jerry Garcia" as well, but there I'd really like to see the statistic. There's a substantive point that becomes an inferential point: The Grateful Dead was massively more popular (as measured by appearances in printed materials, and probably on any other sensible measure) than Jerry Garcia, per se. We know this. But, in books, it's about a 10x difference by the end, with the spread especially increasing 1986 and forward (i.e., post "Touch of Grey"). I'd hypothesize (call it H20140607c) that the two phrases co-appear more robustly in the later period, i.e., that Garcia is partly subsumed under the GD behemoth. That'd be appropriate.

The inferential point is that we can't really tell about the Garcia curve through visual inspection, because there's no way to set a separate vertical axis, which we need (per the substantive point I just made). So, here's just "Jerry Garcia":
Figure xxx. Google Unigram: "Jerry Garcia", 1965-1995

I think the answer is that, yes, there's a 1986 and post uptick, but, again, I'd like to run the statistic. In the meantime, pictures are fun.

The Jerry Site


Tip o' the hat to the amazing Ryan Shriver, for everything. 

Friday, June 06, 2014

Garcia and Marley

At some point I will write up Garcia's engagements with reggae. It's an interesting story, really revelatory.

In the meantime, on a lark, I played with Google Ngram for these two. Ngrams are a very neat tool.

Figure xxx. Google Bigram: Bob Marley and Jerry Garcia, 1965-1981

The vertical is the percentage of all consecutive two-word phrases in English language books from the given year, digitized by Google (all of them, pretty much, by the 1970s), comprised by the respect phrases "Jerry Garcia" and "Bob Marley".

This metric is good to compare over time appearance of the phrase (of N components, hence Ngram) (look at the sharp Marley trajectory to his passing, and Garcia's relative stability to this point).  Hypothesis: "Grateful Dead" will reveal this same kind of trend as Garcia; both will spike up 1986ff.

But it's also good to compare cross-sectionally, i.e., Garcia and Marley. Very simply, the picture says that Garcia was more popular earlier in this series, their stardom paths crossed in 1973, and Marley soared to greater fame until his death, while Garcia's level was established around 1973 and stayed steady during the rest of the period to 1981.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

We're Having a Reasonably Good Time Here

LN jg1989-01-28.jgb.all.sbd-goetz-retracked.28352.shn2flac

Love this show. Two snaps up.

A few bullets.

First, I had a cryptic note-to-self in the 1/27/89 listening notes to elaborate on the "a year too late" thesis. In a nutshell, it's my argument that when JGB recorded itself in 1990 at the Warfield for what would become the eponymous 1991 double-live record (Arista 18690, August 1991), it did so after its peak, which I date from ca. 2/5/88-5/22/89. They got on a roll and started rolling tape, but what they got in the can wasn't the crème-de-la-crème.

Don't get me wrong, I love the release (and the 1997 followup, How Sweet It Is [Grateful Dead Records GDCD 4051, 1997], material from the same 1990 Warfield shows). Some of the tunes, such as "Waiting For A Miracle", were better for having matured a bit. Others, including the amazing take on Dylan's "Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power)", weren't in the repertoire yet. So it's not a disaster, by any means. I just happen to think that 1988-1989 JGB is much fresher, peppier, livelier and tighter than the 1990 vintage.

At some point, with more time, I'd elaborate. But not now.

Second, during "Waiting For A Miracle", someone appears to make her way up on stage. Garcia, who sounds healthy and happy and alive during this wonderful period, deftly rips the e-brake on the tune. As one of the ladies says, "He didn't miss a beat!" Garcia, grinning behind his beard, chats up the crowd:
Hey, if any more of you are gonna lose it, wait till between songs, OK? Y'know?
[JG laughs. Kemper splashes, one of the ladies says "Yeah Jerry!"]
Thanks. We'd appreciate that.
[Everyone onstage is cracking up. "Yeah Jerry!" The ladies are retelling the story to each other.]
We're having a reasonably good time here, you know what I mean?
Garcia sounds amazing, relaxed and happy. Listen to the ladies talking and laughing here - awesome. We know that Garcia very rarely addressed the crowd in any direct way in the later years, really not much after 1970 or so. During his Rock Bottom period, his mutterances would cover the set break and the show closing. But during this 1988-1989 period, a few times, he joked and laughed with the crowd. He's no freaking oracle, of course, and I don't want to be one of those "Jerry spoke!" guys. But we can't ignore the data that pertain to health and openness, any more than we can ignore the dogs that don't bark, when he couldn't get his chin off his chest. Engaging the audience this way is engaging humanity this way, and that was something that Garcia found exceptionally difficult to do as his fame (and isolation) grew. It's also an indicator of health: the sicker he was, the less he engaged, ceteris paribus.

Third, I noted in discussing 8/11/84 at the Caldwell College nunnery that Garcia played "Like A Road Leading Home" just after a stage-crashing incident. Well, on 1/28/89 he did it again. It's probably a coincidence. But there weren't that many stage crashers at JGB shows, I have just come across two such incidents, and both times Garcia serenades the tripper with this soothing Nix-Penn confection (Allan).

When the road gets too long
And you run all out of song
And the pain gets too much
For you to bear

Turn around, turn around
Turn around, and I'll be there
Like a road, like a road
Leading home

Fourth, this is just a great show from any period. I really, really like the "Don't Let Go" this night, much stronger than the night before (as is "Let's Spend The Night Together", though that one is still too tame for my taste, compared to the Nicky Hopkins-era versions). But every song positively crackles. See my notes below. But don't take my word for it. About ten years ago, Rob Goetz posted (somewhere, I can't recall) reviews of many 1989 Garcia Band shows. Here's how he summarizes this one, based on the second set alone.
I am truly impressed. ... On this particular night Jerry’s jamming was profound. Each song from this second set is exceptional and shows that Jerry’s abilities were not in question. For many years I was of the opinion that Garcia just couldn’t cook in the late 80s through the 90s. On this particular night, 1/28/1989, Jerry provided all the evidence I need to throw that opinion straight out the window. On 1/28/1989 Jerry delivered one of his finest performances ever. I can’t wait to hear the first set – whenever it is released. ... Bravo to Jerry for this truly special performance.
Oh yeah, one more thing (so, fifth): Goetz also notes how sloppy the GD were in February 1989, saying that whatever was bugging Garcia at the Kaiser, for example, didn't seem to be bugging him a week prior. Big contrast, from this loose and inspired playing to pure shambolism in the span of seven days.

Listening notes below the fold.