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Sunday, June 28, 2015

"Hoagy Carmichael is making a fortune – Jerry Garcia is starving"

So said in August 1969 one David Rubinson, Fillmore Records head who had been a producer at Columbia Records, working with Big Brother, Mike Bloomfield, Moby Grape, The Chambers Brothers and Taj Mahal, and other groups ("if picasso" 1969).

It's a good line.

It especially caught my eye because, in sniffing around 12/12/73, I went to the Archive to check out the Dead show from that night. The show is not very good, especially for the period. But this particular fileset has the Atlanta soundcheck, lots of interesting little nuggets. There are far fewer soundcheck tapes out and about than there should be, if you ask me. The first track is identified as "Sleigh Ride" (wiki), and there is a bar of that. But at around 2:40 of that first track, Keith and Jerry work up a few turns with "Heart And Soul" composed by none other than, you guessed it, Hoagy Carmichael.

So let's consider this a marker to talk about Garcia (named after Jerome Kern), who in this period was working up a stunning version of Irving Berlin's "Russian Lullaby", playing show tunes, and a tie-in to Hoagy Carmichael, who twice, independently, crossed my radar on this day.

"if picasso fucks my wife i'll kick his ass," NOLA Express, August 29, 1969, pp. 8-9; apparently reprinted from Good Times.

Reading Notes: Dupree 1974

Zoo World, January 31, 1974. "Cover photo captured by Mario Algaze the afternoon of a Leas Campbell presentation of the Grateful Dead at Curtis Hixon Hall in Tampa, Fla.", December 18 or 19, 1973.

A clean-shaven Jerry Garcia in Tampa, Florida, December 18 or 19, 1973. Photograph by Mario Algaze, published in Zoo World, January 31, 1974, p. 12.

Dupree, Tom. 1974. Grateful Dead: Hipper Than the Average Corporation. Zoo World, January 31, pp. 12-13.

The pictures are from Tampa. As the Thoughts On The Dead guy might say, Billy looks like he wants to kick punch some dicks. Anyway, Donna Jean was back home giving birth, and the band played two kickass shows December 18-19, 1973, really great.

The article draws from December 12th in Atlanta, meetings and interviews with band members, a few expost reax to the show. As the title implies, the main topic of discussion is Grateful Dead Records, and business matters (this appears to have been an industry paper based in Nashville, I should probably know that).

p. 12

booking firm: Out Of Town Tours

Dead inspired travel agency Fly By Night

"Garcia's country group Old And In The Way"

Sparky And The Ass-Bites From Hell

Weir interview

Meeting in the Regency Hyatt House Hotel, not where band is staying. Bob is there to sightsee the tony hotel's glass elevator, architectural emanation of American opulence, on the side of a newspaper interview downtown. Pull-quote paints picture of a wine-snobby Bobby, which is partly true but pretty unfair for a guy who has worked hard for fifty years despite probably sitting on a pile of family money (the Atherton house he grew up in alone would make quite an inheritance). In his seventies as I type this, tonight he's playing the second night of GD50 in Santa Clara.

Weir: the hippie thing was a good time, but we've moved on.

Record company: "the Dead organization picked a network of conventional distribution firms" to get the Wake of the Flood into the stores.

p. 13

Rock Scully is current road manager – when did Cutler leave the road?

Weir says they have reduced their risk by having a less diversified portfolio than most record companies. They don't have to pay for the 6 or 7 Donnie and the Doughnuts records that lose money. They have just the 1 GD record, which they have some idea can sell. "Any fears about the company's success in its initial stages have been quieted: the album is about to go gold, with RIAA certification expected to come in January, just about two months after release" (Dupree 1974, 13).

"The Dead organization … is hoping the LP will provide capital to bolster and expand other aspects of its operation" (Dupree 1974, 13). Interesting – note that at this early stage, no mention of Round Records, Round Reels, etc. I want to triangulate to when we get the first mention of the Round stable of shell corporations.

Ever the anti-businessmen, Rock and others say the album kind of sucks! (Dupree 1974, 13).

"I like it," Garcia says of Wake of the Flood. "I thought the material was very good. And there's no question that we were rushed on it. We did that to ourselves, really, by leaving ourselves too short off time. But, considering, I think it turned out pretty well" (12/12/73, Dupree 1974, 13).

JG: "Phonograph records are misleading … First of all, there's an artificial start and stop, the physical dimensions of an album. … There's only, what, 22 minutes to an album side, and our thoughts are much longer than that" (12/12/73, Dupree 1974, 13).

Odd moment 12/12/73 Garcia to say they now like big rooms because of the WOS: "If we couldn't get off in them, we wouldn't play big halls. But now we understand them about as well as we understood theaters when we were playing them" (Dupree 1974, 13).

Rock 12/12/73 says the band will take five days off, play the Florida gigs, then take a month or two off. "That's the whole band I'm talking about. Garcia has never taken a moment off since he picked up his first guitar. He is playing somewhere every night" (Dupree 1974, 13).

Keith speaks! 4th column, p. 13 "I'm sure there are a lot of relatively honest ways of calling attention to yourself, as long as it's not hype. We are not in a position to be ripped off. We can't afford yet to give $3,000 to a local distributor and then have him forge newspaper receipts on us. Where we're at right now is, we have people on the inside we can trust. Now we're trying to find the people on the outside that we can feel the same way about. But with this operation, we're gonna be honest if we have to beat some ass."

"Or take it in the ass," Weir says. "We've done both. We just are trying to take some of the sleaze out of it, and say that things should be done in an above-board manner or not at all."

At the end of the interview, Keith "Godchaux drags on his cigarette, then leans over purposefully: 'I'm not averse to hustling, either'" (12/12/73, Dupree 1974, 13). 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

GD at Gold Rush Festival, Lake Amador, CA, October 4, 1969 - CXL

"Tribe Pushes Gold," Berkeley Tribe, September 12-18, 1969, p. 13.

"Gold Rush is on - 24 hours of rock-folk-blues on the shores of Lake Amador, a private lake resort miles from anything. " Scheduled for October 4th, planned acts include Ike and Tina Turner, Sons of Champlin, Taj Mahal, Grateful Dead, John Fahey, Cold Blood, Albert Collins, Linn County, Al Wilson, Country Weather, Daybreak, Kaleidoscope and Southwind.

Things look to have been pretty far advanced, with lots of buy-in from various hip community forces, including the Tribe.

Since the Dead played Boston that night, they certainly weren't there. Did the event happen? Either way, I'll call it a canceled Dead gig.

Ron Polte on the Demise of the Carousel

Bottom line:

A bunch of hippies, a bunch of good people, got together and refused to run a business. And, I'm sorry, you've got to live in that world if you're gonna run a business.

On Rakow, in particular:

What Ron Rakow did to those people, he chained them to a machine that couldn't make money. It wasn't free. And the energy of all those good people in that building wasn't going anywhere, It was being trapped. Because he chained them to a financial problem, which was $9,000 a month rent, plus 20%. They couldn't have made it in 25 million years, man.
And then when he was going down, and he was $66,000 in the hole and they were in danger of losing it, they ran to the community and said, "Let's get the community together, together we can save it." It was a bummer to lay on the community.
In front, had Ron Rakow been honest with himself about business, he would have said, "$9,000 a month is too fucking high. And if we can't get this dance hall for $5,000, let's not take it. But instead, he took it. So it just went down the tubes.

On Graham taking over:

The only reason that Bill Graham got that dance hall was because they gave it to him. He would not have taken that dance hall. Ask Ralph Gleason, Ron Rakow, Bill Thompson, Rock Scully ... They said, "If we can't score it by Wednesday, if we can't make any deal with the owner to come up with the eight grand or a new ballroom manager, and a new organization, then you're free to go do whatever you want on Thursday. And that's what he did.

Ideas for the future:

Let's get together, do a benefit or a festival, and rent two places like the Matrix for a year, one at the south end and one at the north end of the city. And hire a couple of people to manage those 2 or 3 hundred capacity rooms, and put the young bands in there. … We should do that. Right now, there's a lot of wounds to heal and everybody is tired after the Carousel, so it's gonna take a little while. But it should come to pass.

The festival idea would manifest as the ill-fated Wild West Festival. At the same time, the Matrix really did take up some of the slack left by the Carousel (the  Tuesday Night Jam morphed into the Monday Night Jam), and the Family Dog had the south end of town covered, albeit in a bigger room with the problems of rent and overhead and all that Polte identified as problematic for the prospective hip community musical operations. Indeed, Chet Helms never could make the Dog work, and he was out in less than a year.

Darlington, Sandy. 1968. Ron Polte: A Good Word for Bill Graham. San Francisco Express Times, July 31, 1968, p. 13.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Zabriskie Point in Sausalito

Zabriskie Point (IMDB) played at the Marin Theatre in Sausalito, let's say around Thursday, April 2, 1970. It had debuted nationally on February 9 (less than three weeks after Garcia recorded his contribution to the soundtrack, the stunning "Love Scene Improvisation"). Maybe it had been playing for awhile already. I want to note that there's nothing particular about this showing, other than that it caught my eye in a blur of microfilm.

In a flash, it was the possibility that Jerry might have gone and checked the movie out on some random night, maybe a little thrill at it, music and movies two great loves, and a little feeling of pride in the whole thing, not least the sweet little piece of playing he laid down at MGM Studios, a young man with a future. Or maybe it wasn't ... but it certainly might have been.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Tonsorial Undertakings

Wonder why WWE wrestler the Undertaker is on the list? He may not be as historically significant as Hitler, but his fans' devotion more than makes up for it (sample edit note: "This is notable in that it was the first time he was seen as the Deadman without his long hair").

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Jerry on Jerry
A book of previously unreleased Jerry Garcia interviews is coming out this fall to mark the 20th anniversary of his death and the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Grateful Dead.
Hachette Book Group imprint Black Dog & Levanthal announced Tuesday that "Jerry on Jerry" will be published in November.
The book will be edited by Grateful Dead biographer Dennis McNally. The interviews range from Garcia's memories of childhood to his thoughts on drugs, songwriting and politics.
Looking forward to it!

Read more here:

GD 6/23/74 Jai Alai Fronton

Play it loud.
Sard Thee Well, Jerry Moore.

Only Grateful Dead version of "Let It Rock".

Interviewed by Ken Wardell 6/8/74 backstage after the Dead's Oakland Coliseum show, Garcia talked about the tune, which he put on Compliments:
One of the reasons that we did that song was that, in my opinion, that’s Chuck Berry’s most economical tune. It only has three short verses, and no catchy refrain that made a lot of his other songs popular. And it’s just a direct, hard, simple narrative. It says what it says, and it’s dynamic, and it’s all of that. It’s just a beautiful piece of rock n roll poetry, whatever that is. That’s what that song is to me. The lyrics to it are incredible.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

NRPS (formerly The Murdering Punks) - August 7, 1969

There has long been a tape identified as New Riders Of The Purple Sage (NRPS), Thursday, August 7, 1969 at the Matrix in San Francisco. Corry has found corroborating evidence for the dating, though of course the tape cannot be tied to the Ralph Gleason "On The Town" listing he found, which bill the band August 6-9.

Matt Smith has recently undertaken a great high end transfer of Will Boswell's tape of this show, somewhere (but not too far) downstream from Matrix proprietor Peter Kafer's copy.

What an opportunity! We get to hear more or less the first gig of the New Riders an sich (Corry, see link above). Marmaduke jokes that they formerly called themselves the Murdering Punks, and they certainly murdilize a few arrangements here in what sounds for all the world like a public rehearsal. Thanks to everyone involved in creating a world in which we can hear this stuff.

My notes aren't very extensive, so let me just drop a few markers.

1) Proto-New Riders. Fascinating, exceptionally sloppy stuff.

2) The tape distorts throughout, especially on the pedal steel.

3) "Kaw-Liga" is a great freaking song. See also 7/30/70, another Thursday at the Matrix.

4) Garcia's tone on the pedal steel is unlike any other I hear him achieving. I doubt he's technically very proficient, but the soaring sound of the instrument grabs you right in the lonely spot more than a few times.

5) This copy is missing a second iteration of "Last Lonely Eagle" - see my notes, which conclude that it probably was played in both sets, since the second LLE segues over continuous tape into the show-closing "Six Days On The Road". More generally, I suspect that this reel #1 and reel #3, with a reel #2 MIA from public circulation.


New Riders of the Purple Sage
3138 Fillmore Street
San Francisco, CA 94123

August 7, 1969 (Thursday)
70 min PNW flac2496 shnid-133326

--15 tracks, 69:53)--

--set I (10 tracks, 43:04)--
t01. [0:27] Kaw-Liga -4:28 [0:14]
t02. If You Hear Me When I'm Leavin'
t03. tuning (1) [1:25]
t04. Superman [3:42] [0:36]
t05. Mama Tried [2:25] [0:02] % [0:11]
t06. Games People Play [5:53] [0:21]
t07. Last Lonely Eagle [5:24] [0:01] % [0:06]
t08. Truck Drivin' Man [3:09] [0:05]
t09. Me And My Uncle [3:30] (2) -4:07
t10. Delilah [3:47] (4) % pre-set II [-0:05]

--set II (5 tracks, 26:48, incomplete)
t11. Long Black Veil [5:44] % [0:06]
t12. All I Ever Wanted [8:02] [0:10]
t13. Henry [3:35] % [0:10]
t14. Don't Take Chances [5:21] [0:03]
[MISSING: Last Lonely Eagle ->]
t15. Six Days On The Road (5) [3:30] [0:08]

! ACT1: New Riders Of The Purple Sage
! lineup: John Dawson - rhythm guitar, vocals;
! lineup: Jerry Garcia - pedal steel guitar;
! lineup: David Nelson - lead guitar, vocals;
! lineup: ??? - bass;
! lineup: 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.

! TJS: "actual date of the show is uncertain, but 8-7 is typically the date listed for this tape."

! JGC:

! db: (PNW flac16); (PNW flac24)

! map:

! venue:;

! seealso: Arnold, Corry. 2010. August 6-9, 1969 The Matrix, San Francisco New Riders Of The Purple Sage. Lost Live Dead, February 16, URL, consulted 6/21/2015.

! historical: The material is pretty primitive ... the official NRPS concert history at suggests that this is their 6th show, though that would include what are understood to be Garcia/Dawson duets on at least two occasions.  They certainly seem to be trying to find their feet here, and it wouldn't surprise me if this were one of the very first full-band gigs.

! personnel: LIA (comments to this post): "That is absolutely not Phil on bass. He couldn't play this primitively in '69 if he tried. The bass player has a totally different sound & fingering than Phil - he only plays the root notes, crudely & repetitively. I say it's Bob Matthews, unless a two-fingered bass player steps up as candidate."

! setlist: I surmise that we have reel #1 (the set II material) and reel #3 (the end of set II and the show). Furthermore, other dubs of the Peter Kafer tape have a second version of "Last Lonely Eagle" in set II, segueing without tape discontinuity into "Six Days On The Road". I am guessing someone left it off because they thought it extraneous, what with repeats being nearly unheard of in the Garciaverse. But the band the song are brand new, the whole thing feels like an avowed rehearsal, and I would not be surprised to learn that they had tackled it in both sets.

! R: Recording Info: MR > R (Peter Kafer) > 7.5 ips reel (Will Boswell)

! R: Transfer info:  Akai GX636 direct tape head output  > Bottlehead tube tape pre pair Tesla tubes circa 1980  > Apogee Mini Me 24/96  > Apogee Mini DAC monitoring and mastering  > FLAC. Mastered By Matt Smith, April 2015.

! R: seeder comments: Notable gain difference between songs.

! R: stunning SQ in terms of a representation of the source tape. The source tape is super bright and oversaturated, especially on the steel guitar, and the fileset faithfully captures all of that. (What else could it aim to do?)

! P: t01 What an incredible song. Not 100% together, but Hank Williams ... early 2 Garcia's pedal steel lead is just incredible - not the most gifted, but just in terms of the sound he is getting out of the instrument, trying to give acoustic form to that sound in his head.

! t03 (1) JD: "The name of this organization is the New Riders of the Purple Sage, formerly the Murdering Punks." A little later, after some stage chatter. "Oh ... I'm told there's a Murdering Punk left. There's still a murdering punk in the organization. We ain't sayin' ... for the protection of the audience. For the protection of the band, for that matter." Someone says "Let's do that 'Superman' song, JD into mic "the 'Superman' song".

! P: GPP is rather shambolic.

! R: t07 LLE tape warble 4:48, I think I hear some warbling after that.

! P: t08 TDM late 2 kind of falls out of key.

! P: t09 MAMU has that real drippy "Kaw-Liga" feel, very dark.

! t09 (2) "We're gonna play 'Delilah' and then we're gonna take a break for a couple of moments." Someone else: "Then come back and play some more."

! R: t10 more tape warble

! R: t10 (4) "Thank you. Right. //"

! P: t12 AIEW early 3 there is some very ethereal playing that reminds me of some of the bending that Garcia would do in latter-day versions of the Manhattans' "Shining Star" (youtube). Nelson is doing some real nice stuff, is that Nelson, or the steel? Wow, this is some amazing steel ethereality.

! P: t13 Henry mess up ending, but not bad overall, given the other songs.

! P: t14 DTC again there is some real ethereal stuff happening in the guitars.

! P: t15 SDOTR they don't know how to end it. These arrangements are checkered at best. This is a public rehearsal.

! t15 (5) "We're gonna make it home right now. Thank you very much."