Jul 27, 2012

January 21, 1971: Freeborn Hall, Davis CA

Well the first days are the hardest days 
Don't you worry and more 
Cuz when life looks like easy street 
There is danger at your door.

Come hear Uncle John's Band 
Playing to the time 
Come with me or go alone. 
He's come to take his children home.

The Grateful Dead will be truckin' into Freeborn Hall next Thursday night at 8 p.m. The Dead have long been favorites around the Bay Area, but within the past year have become one of the most popular groups nationally, selling out everyplace they appear. Once the high energy promoters of the psychedelic revolution, the Dead have shifted away from their acid-blitzed hypnotic-electric music to a down-home folksy style. Their new sound was previewed last spring with the release of "Workingman's Dead" which became one of last year's best selling albums and easily one of last year's finest musical efforts. The Dead showed they had mellowed even more when their latest album "American Beauty" was released a couple of months ago.
Seeing the Grateful Dead is a unique experience and should not be passed up. Playing with the Dead will be their sub-group, the New Riders of the Purple Sage, who have a very Nashville type sound. Tickets are on sale now at the MU Box Office at the price of $2.50 if you are a student.

I don't know but I've been told 
If the horse don't pull you got to carry the load 
I don't know who's back's that strong
Maybe find out before too long. 
One way or another, one way or another 
This darkness has got to go.

(from the California Aggie, 15 January 1971)



The Grateful Dead concert tomorrow night is one of those concerts that people have been preparing for for at least a week and will probably take another week to recuperate from after it's all over. I guess you just have to say that the Dead in Freeborn is a heavy thing for Davis. The concert should result in a few more Dead freaks to add to the long list of those who already think that the Dead are the best group around. And even a light show, a finger in every pie in every eye.
The Entertainment Board is providing the act, Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Rod McKermen (Pig Pen), Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzman will provide the fine music, the crowd will provide the rest of the good vibes, and you gotta provide your own high time. Tickets cost $2.50 at the MU Box.

There are only 140 tickets left for Grateful Dead as of 3pm Tuesday. Also John Sebastian-Poco tickets will go on sale this Friday, for the February 6th concert. $3 for students.

(from the California Aggie, January 20, 1971) 



Last Thursday night Freeborn came alive to the music of the Grateful Dead.
The last time this reviewer saw the Dead was in '68 at the old Carousel Ballroom (now the Fillmore West) and between then and now there has been a great change. The principal characters are all the same but the music has changed from the old acid rock to a more down home sound.
The Dead played two sets during the evening. Both sets had the audience on their feet. "Reelin' and Rockin'" brought a cheer and heads nodded, but when the Dead launched into "High on Cocaine" there wasn't a person standing still.
The group preceding the Dead was the New Riders of The Purple Sage. This group had many of the same musicians as the Grateful Dead but proved to be a disappointment. Their sound was not at all unusual or unique and sounded very much "like everybody else." The most successful song of their set was "Lodi" which got the audience moving.
The first group of the evening was James and the Good Brothers. The group consisted of two guitars and an auto harp which produced a warm and mellow sound. I wish they had played longer than they did. As far as I was concerned the New Riders could have been replaced with this group. One song I especially liked was "Bobby McGee."
Other thoughts on the concert: Freeborn was packed with much of the audience consisting of the usual "teeny boppers" and high school "cools." The light show was good but what is a light show, after all, without a strobe light? There were problems with forged tickets and gate crashers which didn't bother anybody except the Entertainment Board.
The next big concert is John Sebastian and Poco on Feb. 6.

(by an Aggie Reviewer, from the California Aggie, January 27, 1971) 

Courtesy of jgmf.blogspot.com


A few letters to the editor in later issues of the Aggie carried some complaints:

2/3/71 -
Dear Editor,
In reference to the Aggie reviewer's remark concerning the light show's lack of a strobe light. The golden fleece light show has a strobe light and was using it during the Grateful Dead concert. Had the reviewer taken it upon himself to look around the vastness of Freeborn Hall he would have noticed a group of people dancing under the strobe light at the rear of the hall.
Unless there are people dancing a strobe light is of little use. Davis concerts are not noted for people dancing simple as a function of a lack of room.
Upon reading the entire review, I would like to know, could the reviewer have been in a corner with his head against the wall?
Jack Stillinger
Golden Fleece Light Shows

Dear Editor,
I was disappointed in the appearance in these pages (Jan. 27) of the review of the Grateful Dead-New Riders concert.
With all due respect for the opinion of the "Aggie Reviewer," I feel his review lacked any semblance of the objective criticism the concert deserved. For a case in point, I'd like to see the names of a few of the groups that the New Riders sounded "just like." I feel it would be hard to match the beauty and tastefulness of Garcia's steel guitar work. The band also displayed a lot of all around balance in musicianship as well as due respect for the country-western form as something to build upon creatively rather than parody as many "country type" bands do.
"...please don't dominate the Rap, Jack, if you've got nothing new to say..."
Mike German, Kim Lenz, Rich Spradling

1/28/71 -
Regarding the review of the Grateful Dead in Wednesday’s Aggie: Who was that crazy reviewer?
First of all, he doesn’t even know that the title of one of the Dead’s best songs is “Casey Jones,” not “High on Cocaine.” (Not to mention that “Reelin’ and Rockin’” is actually “Round and Round” - a vintage Rolling Stones/Chuck Berry cut.) And he can’t even see straight - the only member of the Dead that is also a member of the New Riders is Jerry Garcia, not “many of the same musicians.” Finally, there were at least two strobe lights - I was sitting and dancing in one.
As for the quality of the review, that, too, leaves much to be desired. Why didn’t he say anything about what it was really like that night in Freeborn - hot and stuffy and, for those in the middle and front, VERY crowded? And the incredible pedal steel guitar that Jerry Garcia played in the New Riders set, that took us so high? And the Dead getting it on, and turning us on? But they didn’t play long enough. In spite of his apparent condescending attitude toward “teeny-boppers” and “high school cools,” the audience was very mellow, that is, very good. I notice he didn’t even give his name. Why? He certainly wasn’t a Grateful Dead fan.
Jerome Callens
P.S. And in case anyone else turns up, I demand to review the John Sebastian/Poco Show.

2/2/71 -
Something has been bothering me for some time, now, and for lack of anything better to write about, I might as well unload. The subject is the conduct of three or four groups concerned with staging the Grateful Dead concert held in Freeborn January 21. While it may be old news now, it has some definite connections to the John Sebastian/Poco concert set for Saturday night.
First of all, I think some sort of line arrangements should be made for those people waiting outside for the doors to open. People started arriving for the Dead before 6 pm - a good two hours before the first set. Once there, they began forming into a large, amorphous glob of humanity outside the doors. When the place finally did open, there was a natural rush toward the front, resulting in a rather painful pressure on the bodies of many people - particularly those up front. Hopefully some sort of strict line formation will be set up for Sebastian, thus avoiding the big push-shove hassle.
Next, I hope somebody will be able to open side doors while the concert is in progress. I realize that people try to slip in through these doors for a little gratis viewing, but the place was almost unbearably stifling last time - even before the Dead first appeared.
So much for logistical complaints. What really bothered me about the whole Grateful Dead concert was the "law and order" power play staged by Chief McEwen and the campus police, Corky Brown and the so-called Police Advisory Board and the Student Activities Office.
Standing outside in line was a rather irritating procedure. People were looking forward to the concert, but they were also more than a little aggravated about the hassle in getting through the doors. So when you finally make it through the main outside doors, two things happened which struck an already raw nerve in the collective student body. Initially, there was this big sign in the main foyer: "Mr. Natural says smoking dope can be harmful to your freedom." Well, that's okay, you said to yourself, they can't help themselves. But then, as you headed towards the inner doors to the hall itself, you found yourself confronted by Corky Brown, member of the Police Advisory Board. Brown was busily handing out little slips of paper which told everyone that if they smoked any dope, they were running a big chance of getting busted. Well, even then, you said to yourself that it was okay - it was his trip if he wanted to pass out that information...maybe it was a good thing to know.
All this time you were still intent on getting through those inside doors and settling down to a good show. Fantastic music, lights and all those people... But those two incidents out in the foyer sort of lurked at the back of your mind. They were a very sour note in an otherwise mellow atmosphere. So you get into the hall and who was waiting just inside the doors but Officer Randy Selby. Now this is just a personal opinion, but it seemed to me that Selby, who sports a rather negative reputation, was doing his damnedest to look the part of an overzealous pig. There he was: hat pulled low over his eyes, small challenging smile on his face. Randy Selby on display.
There were quite a few other cops patrolling about the place, and around this time, I began asking myself just what the hell was going on. These three incidents, along with a verbal warning just before the first group came on, had everybody in the place a little uneasy, or just slightly hostile.
The thing that was strange about it was that no one could possibly have gotten away with a bust in there. The place was packed, and there was that little sour note playing in the back of everybody's mind. That pushing and all those warnings and all those cops automatically put you in a defensive position...an adversary position. One attempt at a bust and the place would have gone wild. I don't think there was any real intent to bust anybody. Chief McEwen isn't that stupid, although I know he's been getting pressured by the Yolo County District Attorney for being "soft on dope." But the way the whole thing was staged - the implicit intimidation - created a tense atmosphere. One false move from one uptight person (spectator or cop) and Freeborn could have gone up in smoke. A few changes seem to be in order.
Jim Dooley

2/5/71 -
... The rush scene that occurred with the initial opening of the front doors at Joan Baez was much intensified, unfortunately at the Grateful Dead concert. In the collective haste to obtain a desirable seat, many people were jostled, one male student later reported having his arm x-rayed as the result of possibly more than a "jostle." Some manner of "line formation" involving the facilities of Freeborn and co-operation of those arriving early is imperative.
Beginning with the Sebastian/Poco concert a series of changes will occur to ease the front-gate pressure. [ . . . ]
Gate crashers may seem a frivolous target to some who regularly attend concerts, but the fact remains that if Freeborn is already filled to capacity with ticket-holders, a few hundred extra people have a great impact on the comfort of all. Freeborn was not built in an era of large rock concerts and thus presents the over-heating problem. [ . . . ]
With numerous people (an estimated two-hundred at the Dead concert) trying to crash front, rear, lower and side doors simultaneously, the opening of side doors involves a terrific hassle and seems a disservice to those who have already paid and waited for a concert. At the Dead concert a sizable number of people entered without paying and added to the smoke and heat of the hall. Further discomfort is added by people sitting against air-circulation units.
Since the last four concerts organized by the Entertainment Board have sold out well in advance, there is nothing to be lost monetarily if side doors are opened at the beginning of the concert. Indeed, the total cost of the show would cost the student body less if numerous students who are paid to maintain security were not necessary. But as long as hundreds try to crash, scores try forgery, and others run the gamut of "devious" means to enter free of charge, the extra air and space needed for the paid audience will maintain priority over a total open-door policy.
The presence of the campus police at concerts, and at the Grateful Dead concert in particular, has raised many questions regarding their role and legal authority. [ . . . ]
The campus police stressed the face that Freeborn is state property and they are free to roam as they deem necessary, and especially since the Dead concert was sold-out and their assistance in "crowd-control" could be useful. The extreme tolerance shown to the obvious dope and booze situation was also emphasized. (Officer Powers noted that a certain plain-clothes officer was handed a joint.) The police also pointed out that they were more familiar with students and could not be as likely to over-react to any unruly situation as a standard security force. [ . . . ]
Legally they can come and go as they please, and handing them dope is to be discouraged if concerts are to continue. Jim Dooley expressed it very aptly when he stated the possibility of Freeborn "going up in smoke..."
[ . . . ]
Barry Bricca

Thanks to Dave Davis

* * *  

And from another paper... 
Pardon the imperfect state of this transcription. My scan of the article is all but illegible. [Words in brackets] I could not make out. I hope to find a better copy sometime and fix this up.


Christ's image faded into an amoeba shape on the screen as a half-caked guy, stage right, did arabesques and three groupie-type chicks, stage left, gyrated. To top it all off, a giant white balloon floated down toward stage center like a blanched, bloated grape.
The scene was Freeborn hall at UCD (where else?) last night and the [occasion] was a concert-light show-dance-Hieronymous Bosch happening starring The Grateful Dead, who were very VERY much alive.
From the start I knew the evening would be different from others in Freeborn. As I walked outside with about 1,999 others, some dude walked up and shoved an icy blueberry into my mouth. When someone does something as presumptuous as that, what can you do but politely suck on the damn thing? That's what I did, but my mind was screaming, "It's LSD! Someone's finally done it, like at Halloween, and it's too late! What a lousy thing - to [??] a blueberry like that!"
This turned out to be idle reflection, as I only had a colossal headache and blue teeth by the time the crowd's momentum gravitated me into Freeborn.
Appropriately, as soon as I seated myself on the floor in the rear of the room, a fellow jammed beside me asked if I had a joint he could borrow. I told him I was all out and anyway, marijuana made my teeth [black]. He seemed satisfied and the concert began shortly, after 2,000 people had settled onto their paisley floor pillows, sleeping bags, afghans and P-jackets.
Unfortunately, it was a tripartite event. Two groups preceded The Dead. Starting a little after 8 p.m., it didn't end until [1:30] a.m. and by the time The Dead came on around [10] p.m., Freeborn was hot, sweaty and pulsating, to the beat of my pounding head.
The first group, James and the Good Guys, Canadian friends of the Dead, were pleasant on two guitars and one auto-harp. They did well with other peoples' songs - "Parking Lot," "Oakie from the Skokie," "Can't Find My Way Home" - but who doesn't these days?
What they called "acoustic rock and roll" was their most effective sound.
Although their "Delta Lady" wasn't Joe Cocker's and their "Bobby McGee" wasn't Janis Joplin's, they were good. The three [men] knew their instruments and harmonized well together. More original material or arrangements might have made a difference in positioning them somewhere between "a dime a dozen group" and "special."
Between the appearance of Good Guys and The New Riders of the Purple Sage, a volleyball game with a giant red balloon absorbed nearly everyone's attention. The balloon thing was getting downright surreal.
Although several members of The Dead sing with the Riders, the groups sound nothing alike. The Riders' sound could be as [funky] country-western, but not as full and controlled. Everyone [seemed] happily [??] when they launched into a rendition of the Stones' "Honkey Tonk Women." It was indeed hard to stand still.
But we hadn't tasted anything yet. The Dead. They were out of this world. I'd never seen them perform, but I'd heard about, read about their early San Francisco days. They've been credited with starting the acid rock stuff that's faded out but [meanwhile] reaped small fortunes for several groups who made it. Together for about 10 years, the Dead show it. For at least two solid hours (discounting long [pauses] between songs for tuning [16] strings) they displayed their versatility - from the old days' hard rock (including [30-minute] improvisations) to their current mellow, [hot], country sound all in one.
I felt at the end that if, as some critics say, rock is coming to a close and if I had one night to [??] the '60s rock all [??], I'd want The Grateful Dead there. For [much of the time].
By the time The Dead got into "Trucking," the evening had erupted into an orgiastic, cathartic experience. Having removed his shirt because of the heat, a long, lean guy was blinking on and off in the light of a strobe. Mentally [putting] each jerky movement after the one before, it became apparent he was dancing a waltz. Another guy was jumping, hands straight down at his sides, chin up, up and down in place like a yo-yo. It was a free-for-all [replete] with everything from raw rock (ah, John Lennon with his primal return to Chuck Berry rock would have loved that part of the evening) to wailing, electronic, musical [??ery] very loud.
When Jerry Garcia on lead guitar and Bob Weir (I think) on rhythm guitar got to picking in The Dead's newer, better style, it was like an itch you can't scratch, a [p??] you couldn't [locate]. "Pig Pen" on harmonica was exceptional and the two drummers were very [sensitive] for rock drummers.
After making out a lengthy, identifiably "Dead" [moral], the group left the stage. Like [??-??] Woodstock, the gathering [??] the announcement - a guy named Bill was called backstage because his wife was giving birth... Freeborn shook with foot-stomping, clapping, shrieking and accompanying sounds for long [???] in anticipation of an encore. It never came. A nearby couple screeched in unison, "Long Live The Dead!"
Parched and drained, I shuffled toward an exit, hoping for a glimpse of the blueberry [man] and another chance at an icy berry.

(by Hilary Abramson, from the Woodland Democrat, January 22 1971)


  1. I hope to get a better copy at some point to fill in the blanks. This was like deciphering an ancient, torn papyrus.

    This article also has a picture of Garcia on pedal-steel with the New Riders. The caption:
    "BOOGIE WAH!!! - The Grateful Dead rip up the UCD Freeborn Hall air in the finest of style before an overflow crowd last night, bringing stomping crowds and very few neckties. Rave on, brother... Play on, drummer..."

    The tape of this show does not circulate.
    Lemieux has included a couple songs on the Taper's Section. (He played a clip on 1/19/09, which has vanished.)

    Partial known setlist:
    Mama Tried
    Around & Around
    Cumberland Blues
    Casey Jones
    a Pigpen blues song
    (I don't know where the current deadbase setlist comes from, so I don't trust it, but it does mostly match and is plausible.)

    According to Deadbase & the GD Illustrated Trip book, Mickey Hart didn't play this show. I trusted that before, but they're clearly wrong, since this reviewer saw two drummers.

    The JGMF blog notes that there was another brief review of this show in the campus paper (with pictures) - it would be nice to know what it said.

  2. well two years passed and what do we get ..... an uncirculated tape from this show.. (most likely identifying the Pigpen blues song as Smokestack)

    here is the setlist

    Set 1:
    s1t01 - Cold Rain And Snow
    s1t02 - Me And My Uncle
    s1t03 - Smokestack Lightning ->
    s1t04 - Truckin'
    s1t05 - Dire Wolf
    s1t06 - Hard To Handle
    xxxxx - Sugar Magnolia (Missing)
    xxxxx - Black Peter (Missing)
    xxxxx - Mama Tried (Missing)*
    s1t07 - Around And Around
    s1t08 - Cumberland Blues
    s1t09 - Casey Jones

    Set 2:
    s2t01 - That's It For The Other One ->
    s2t02 - Cosmic Charlie
    s2t03 - China Cat Sunflower ->
    s2t04 - I Know You Rider

    * is part of 4 songs from the sbd which i assume derive from tapers section as mentioned above
    downloaders will find the usual credit takers i.e c.miller and sandy troy in this case

  3. The show closed with Uncle John's Band (also missing from the audience tape). One thing the tape makes clear is that the deadbase setlist was very accurate.
    The second set is really short - maybe they had curfew issues? I wondered if they played more missing songs - the tape is about 100 minutes, but it was stopped between songs, so along with the songs we know are missing, it may comprise the whole show. (The reviewer here says the Dead played at least 2 hours, discounting long breaks; elsewhere I think it says they played from about 10-1:30 which doesn't suggest a shortened set.)

    The tape is not on the Archive yet, though it should be before long. As for the sound quality, the band is a little quiet & distant - and the audience is noisy, lots of annoying talking and clapping along. The music's clear, though, and the guitars stand out.
    The first-set highlight is definitely Smokestack Lightning>Truckin'. Smokestack is pretty quiet & laid-back, but they switch right into Truckin', and Pigpen plays bluesy harmonica all through Truckin'! Very unusual, and adds a nice touch to the ending jam. (I think they segue into Dire Wolf from Truckin' too, but a tapecut makes that unclear.)
    After the long Mickey/Billy drum break, the Other One in the second set is really good, very tense & spacy - Garcia lets off some Hendrix-style feedback, and the jam hits some incredible spots, with Weir & Garcia really locking in. The band plays with quiet/loud dynamics, dropping from a roar to a whisper. (Pigpen's organ can be heard in the jam sometimes too.) There's a short but sweet Cryptical outro - the transition to Cosmic Charlie is unique & fantastic, a spontaneous melodic creation. Cosmic Charlie itself is played a lot faster than usual - it would be the last one til 1976.

    Still hoping someone has a good copy of this article to share so I can improve this transcription!

  4. I added two more short pieces that were posted on the JGMF site.
    The concert preview is amusing - "the Dead in Freeborn is a heavy thing for Davis" (I bet few people were saying that at their last appearance there in January '67). Clearly a lot of fans had been made in the meantime, since the writer refers to "the long list of Dead freaks who already think that the Dead are the best group around." We get a sense of a Dead show as an Event, something to joyfully anticipate and prepare for, and which "will probably take another week to recuperate from after it's all over." There's also a sly reference: "you gotta provide your own high time."

    The Aggie review is brief - didn't like the New Riders, liked James & the Good Brothers. One interesting thing is that this reviewer last saw them in '68 at the Carousel, but says that their "old acid rock" days are over and they've switched to a "down home sound." Needless to say, he doesn't mention the outstanding Other One in his review, instead noting the crowd-pleasing rockers that closed the first set. (I presume he didn't follow the Dead much, since he seems not to even know the name of 'Casey Jones'?) The second reviewer Abramson, while not familiar with their music, at least talked about their versatility & different musical styles in the show.
    The Aggie reviewer grouses a bit about "the usual teeny boppers and high school cools" (actually, I'm pretty certain these are the characters who are chattering through the music all over our tape!).
    He also mentions that (just as with every Dead show around this time), "there were problems with forged tickets and gate crashers which didn't bother anybody." Apparently it wasn't THAT packed - not like the next night's show at Lane Community College in Eugene where, out of 7000 attending, over a thousand crashed in! ("Standing room only, unable to dance or even shuffle, little room to breath," said one attendee...)

    That reminds me that our picture of early 1971 is still incomplete. This "lost" first show of 1971 turned out to be even better than expected, once the audience tape surfaced. Our 1/22/71 tape is seriously incomplete, only 8 songs and likely missing over an hour of music, at least the second half of the show. 3/21 is a similar case - from all reports, it was a huge show, but only 45 minutes are on tape. The current low standing of those shows would probably be revised if the full tapes came out. 3/13 and 3/17 are not circulating at all, though they're in the vault. I look forward to the day when all these can be heard...

    Anyway, a few pictures of this show are on the JGMF page - an Archive commenter noticed that this is likely Garcia's first show playing a customized Alembic guitar. He only played it briefly before trying out some other guitars & switching back to a Strat.
    More curiously, one picture shows another guitarist (likely from James & the Good Brothers) onstage during the Dead's set. Not sure where this appearance can be heard on the tape, though.

    1. The guest appearance turned out to be a mirage.

      I added a few more pieces found by Dave Davis in the California Aggie. Readers did not like the Aggie's review of the show, or the police presence in Freeborn!
      A later issue of the Aggie also warned, "We found that at the Grateful Dead concert last Thursday night, dozens of people managed their way in with forged tickets... Several people presenting forged tickets at the Grateful Dead show had purchased them from individuals they didn't know." Tickets for later shows were redesigned by the Entertainment Board and buyers warned that "holders of forged tickets must be turned away if the forgery is noticed... Ticket buyers: to be safe, buy tickets only from the Box Office or from people you know very well. If you must buy a ticket from some stranger, examine it very carefully. Chances are the forger will get your money and you won't even get into the show."
      The Board also admitted, "A great deal of admission money is lost at each concert because of forged tickets. Also, if the band is to be paid a set percentage of the gross receipts, they get understandably upset if forgeries cut down on gate receipts."

  5. What do you mean when you say the guest appearance was a mirage?

    1. While the newspaper picture isn't too clear, it looks to me like Bob, Jerry, Bill, Phil & Mickey.

  6. This week's Jam of the Week on dead.net features the first few songs of the show from the SBD, up to the middle of Hard to Handle (an ill-timed reel flip!)

    The Dead start out pretty rough and out-of-tune, but soon improve. Bear's touch is sorely missed in the recording mix, though (loud vocals, buried drums).