Feb 24, 2014

March 21, 1970: Capitol Theatre, Port Chester, NY / Mickey Hart Interview

ON TOUR WITH THE DEAD

The Capitol Theatre is hungry. They've only been running rock shows out in Portchester for a few weeks, and the big crowds aren't coming in yet. So they really went out of their way to pull the press out to see the Grateful Dead.
We passed up the free press bus and drove out in time to catch the Dead's first set. We walked in on an incredible scene. They might have sold three quarters of the downstairs' seats, but you couldn't tell, because everyone was jammed up against the stage waving their hands in the air. It was a scene out of the concerts at the old Village Theatre and the Anderson, before Bill Graham hit New York to put everybody in a numbered seat and enforce the smoking regulations.
The crowd was young, with a lot of short hair and new clothes in evidence. But these were adolescents, not fakes. They hadn't dressed up to make the scene for the night, this was what they wanted. And here it was at last in Westchester.
The scene seemed to bring back memories for the Dead. They played old rock and roll songs like "Good Love" and revived "Viola Lee Blues" for the first time in two years. The band really responded to the kids. They don't dig audiences that sit in their seats. They hate the concept of performing for an audience. They want to make something happen with an audience. It was.
The Dead are a unique band. They were in San Francisco at the beginning of it all, playing at the Trips Festivals and the Acid Tests. They gave free concerts and festivals in the streets and parks. Yet while the other groups made the transition from live to recorded music, or allowed themselves to be hyped and produced by "experts," the Dead just kept playing. They managed to produce a yearly album, but it was only a faint reflection, bought by the faithful to bring back those live moments. And this set was definitely one of those moments.
The band's sound is constantly changing. Their ever-increasing instrumental complexity was most noticeable on "Viola Lee Blues." The opening bass line was the same, but little else. They completely outdid the recorded version, once so noted for its extended instrumental break. The most noticeable difference, though, was in the vocals. The Dead have never been noted as vocalists, and often attempts at harmonies have approached disaster. Not so tonight. Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, and Bob Weir produced tight, exciting harmonies on song after song, and Pigpen was perfect on "Death Don't Have No Mercy in This Land."
So after that first set we found Sam Cutler, road manager for the Stones' American tour, who now performs the same function for the Dead. He carefully warned us that "the boys" were tripping. "You're cool guys, just rap to 'em. Go in and rap to 'em on whatever."
So he led us backstage, past Pigpen sleeping on a couch, to an office and presented Mickey Hart with a flourish. "I here provide you with one of the craziest cowboys west of the...west of the..." and unable to think of anything we were west of, he left us.
And we began:
"The group's changed a lot since last summer."
"How so?"
"A lot more vocal harmony."
"Correct. We've been influenced, you see. We've been tampered with."
"What influenced you?"
"Well, Steve Stills came in and stayed with me for about two months, and we hung out together. And Crosby, and they were hanging out with us. So, you know, we were sittin' around singing and getting together and getting the harmonies better. So I guess that's why we're sounding better vocally."
Hart was completely relaxed, leaning against the edge of a table, occasionally eating a piece of chicken left over from the press party. He had no interest in talking about the group's history, their recent New Orleans bust, or similar stock interview questions. Before we realized what had happened, he had shifted the conversation to what we were trying to do with our magazine. Sam Cutler popped in periodically to make sure we weren't bothering him.
"How are things going with the interviewers? What are they doing that's interesting?"
"They're standing there entertaining me."
We finally got Mickey back to himself and his drumming. For him, the interplay of the two drummers is "the highest you can get." It's always a tenuous thing, threatening to break. With most groups it's too many people playing too much.
Mickey went on, "That's always the thing, even with two drummers that are subtle in the ways of music."
"It can turn into a noise fest."
"Yeah, it does that too, you know." He hesitated. "I haven't seen any two drummers that have ever been natural."
"Buddy Rich and Max Roach."
"But I'm talking about electric music. Drumming for electric music is a lot different than drumming for a big band or jazz, you know, just because the nature of the instruments is set. So drummers, now - because I really look for it and I see them starting up all around the country - they're trying it out because they know it's the place to go. And they just come and they just go."
"Yeah, it's the place to go..."
"Yeah, right, but you've got to get your own - it just has to happen. It has to be a magic. You have to be a combination that goes beyond technique, way beyond technique..."
"You can't program it."
"Oh no, nothing is programmed. We don't rehearse anything especially because we don't want that to happen. I mean, nothing is arranged - if it doesn't happen then, it's not happening. I mean it should be happening when you play it and it should be made, it should be conceived, and it should be brought. It should be an experience, and you can't plan an experience and make it virile and vital."
"You don't want to perform at an audience."
"It should be a happening, man, a happening. It should be everybody getting together..."
"Some sort of reaction of the audience and the band, instead of you performing to the audience."
"Right, it's not like that, man. I mean it is like that sometimes, but it doesn't always have to be like that. That's how you change form - by letting things submerge. All the subtleties become very important when we play them, and that's the only thing with respect to the form. A performance doesn't let anything happen, you just keep playing the same thing, only better."
Mickey thinks that rock shows have lost their vitality. He still looks back to the beginning. "There was this big thing called the Trips Festival. It had echo delays and people rapping and actually writing on a piece of paper and having it thrown upon the wall, you know, somebody's writing it, and we're singing it as they're writing it."
Somehow the Dead blame Bill Graham - this became formalized into the standard concert format of a rock band with a light show behind it. "Light shows were really wild when they first started, but now their techniques have... Most light shows are really old hat."
"Where do you think things are going?"
"Well, I don't know, basically they're using a lot of laser beams now."
"In light shows?"
"No, they aren't in light shows, but they will..."
"Burn a hole in a stone wall?"
"No, that's not really true." Hart got more involved. "I think simulating the actual sound with waves of energy and colors..."
"Like an oscilloscope?"
"Yeah, actually getting the real color of the music..."
"Hooking up the instruments to the light show?"
"Right, getting more, getting higher."
The girl behind the desk interrupted, "I'm cold. Could you possibly close the window?"
Mickey, who was closest, struggled to get through the containers of left-over food from the press party. "I can't get back there."
"Oh, you can't, all right."
Mickey finally got under the window. "I can't reach that."
"Do you want a chair?"
He picked up a long cardboard roll and pushed the window shut. "Ahhh."
"How do you feel being addressed by the general public as a rock and roll star?"
"I don't understand the question."
"Don't you find that a lot of people come up to you and treat you strangely because they consider you a rock and roll star?"
"No, not too many people are into that. And those people that are, I usually don't talk to. No, I just don't have anything to do with them and pretty soon they wonder why, or I tell 'em that's not where it's at. It doesn't make you play better music."
"Well, a lot of kids are into this trip, if it's on records and it's at the Fillmore, then it's a star. And you can't talk to a star the way you talk to normal people."
"Yeah, well that happens in some places, you know, and that's all over now. Most places, it's all over. They know the star syndrome is just a bunch of shit."
"Yeah, like it's left over from Elvis Presley and..."
"Yeah, Elvis Presley and the great Colonel...throwbacks, man."
"Don't the record companies still push this sort of thing?"
"Yeah, right."
"I really dig your ad where an old-time barker says, 'See the Grateful Dead roll over and play live.' So many other ads you hear are so bad."
"Yeah, it's a real pisser." He began parodying ads. "The best in the wurrrld! The most! Farowwwt!"
"But there are ads that really do that seriously."
"Oh, yeah, I know. Everybody's really serious about it."
"Were you happy with the last album? Did you think it captured the live sound?"
"No... No, I don't think they've got it down yet. Our best sounds have not been recorded yet. We just haven't - I mean, something always happens, like someone always forgets to push the button on the machine, or the tapes blot out, or it's feedback. Some kind of magic, you know. The sounds haven't been recorded."
"Do you care how your albums do - what position they are on the charts, stuff like that?"
"To some extent, you know, knowing that we don't - knowing who we are. No, I don't care. I know that we don't sell records. That's just a part of us that isn't us. We don't make records, we just play music."
"Have you recorded any of your new stuff yet?"
"Well yeah, we just finished an album the other day."
"When will it be out?"
"Now that's something I don't know."
"Is it mixed and all that?"
"It might be completely mixed." He paused. "It might need just one more song."
"Is it a studio album?"
Mickey seemed bored. "Yeah, it's a studio album."
"How do you work in the studio? Do you just go in and whatever pops into your minds..."
"No, this time we had songs. Jerry wrote a bunch of songs and he played 'em for us, and we rehearsed 'em a few times, and we went into the studio and cut 'em."
"Do you all sit in different little boxes in the studio, or do you work the way you do on stage?"
"Sometimes we get together, and sometimes we're in boxes. I don't like the studio, myself. Recorded music and live music are two different kinds of music. They're definitely not the same."
"Do you have any interest in using the studio to do things you can't do on stage or do you just want to capture the live sound?"
"Right at this particular time we're interested in the live sound. We might get interested in the studio someday. We're just playing now for the people. We don't have any time off."
"Is that financial, or do you just like to tour?"
"Financial. We'd like some time off just to play together, we like to invent new stuff."
Somebody opened the office door. The noise from Catfish forced us to shout. "You don't like to just keep doing the stuff from your repertoire?"
"That isn't the way we like to think of it."
"Well, in the course of a tour do you invent totally new numbers?"
"Totally new numbers, no. We have improvised sections, like 20 minutes, 30 minutes. That's not much structure, really."
"How long have you been playing 'Good Love'?"
"About six months ago we started. We played it a long time ago. We revive it from time to time. Like 'Viola Lee Blues,' it's the second time we've played it in two years. We played it last night and tonight. The second time."
"Was tonight an especially good time?"
"It was all right. It was a little staggery, you know. I didn't, uh - maybe some people did." He paused. "I liked it..."
"Yeah, it was really something."
"it wasn't you know, it wasn't a super set."
Sam Cutler popped into the office again. "Mickey, what are you up to?"
"Saaam!"
"Miiickeeey!"
"Are we ready to play?"
"In about ten minutes."
"I'll see you fellows. I've got to warm up. Go on upstairs if you want to see anybody else."
So we wandered upstairs and found Jerry Garcia talking to a photographer at the back of a narrow dressing room. The groupies were so tightly packed in on the floor that we couldn't get to him. He was in the middle of a long rap about corner cutting at record companies. Sam Cutler's head appeared, and he signalled. Jerry looked relieved as he picked up his guitar. "Wow, I got to stop rapping and start playing."
We moved back down the stairs with the gang of groupies and photographers surrounding Garcia. Backstage the band began to get themselves together.
"Do you feel good?"
"I feel great, I feel great, grand..."
"All right, let's get musical - I wanna hear something."
One of the band sang a fanfare, and off they went for the second set.
This audience was older, more typical of rock concerts, but they reacted the same way. The front of the stage was jammed tight with bodies, and behind them people were dancing on the seats. The ushers had given up, and both cigarettes and dope were freely smoked.
The crowd couldn't control its response. Whenever a number ended, they broke into wild whistling, clapping, and yelling. Whenever the Dead huddled to decide on the next number, they yelled out requests and began clapping rhythmically not out of rudeness, but out of energy that had to find an outlet.
We went backstage again and found complete chaos. About fifty other people from the press were in the wings dancing. The girls tried to outmaneuver each other to get to a point where the audience could see them. Finally we ducked into the office. One of the band's handlers was talking with Sam Cutler. "So like the reception to the live album was the first positive reception the record industry has given to a Grateful Dead album..."
Cutler interrupted. "The live album is the first one that was ever fuckin' produced in any sense for a start, man. By normal, you know, by conceived ideas of what producing a record is - by record industry ideas, that is. That's the first album that they could see production techniques used which they could understand. This is what matters. They were embraced by them, because this one, in record industry terms, man, is explicable and simple. Right? You know, close, tight harmonies, snappy, kind of individualistic..."
The other guy broke in. "That's why it's the best album. That's the last place we were, and we are definitely - although we are not at this point ready to make the top - our production techniques, I consider not up to that perception..."
"But they are well on the way..."
He continued, "But they are well on their way to that, and we need to punch every step of the way. The way the live album was first created was - it was decided that there was something that had to happen. There was something and that's what we ended up with..."
Cutler interrupted again. "I want to say that [ ] not the next album, but the one after that. Well, apparently this album is one. I want to see the third one. Listen man, this live album is valuable, you know, the improvement - but I want to see the kind of impact The Band had with their first album, shooting off into space somewhere."
We finally got in a question, "How's the album that was just recorded?"
Cutler began emoting. "How is it? It's incredible, unbelievable..."
"What sort of stuff is on it?"
"The greatest rock and roll music in the world. I don't know what you call it, it's very..."
"It's what you would expect of the Grateful Dead."
He continued, "It's them out there, you know, it's going on outside."
So we went back outside, where the Dead were calming the crowd with a long acoustic piece. I wondered about the conflict between Mickey's statements and Cutler's. The Dead have always had problems getting themselves together as "professionals." In the past, all their affairs have been handled by members of their family. This has led to all sorts of problems. Performances have gone to pieces because managers were so into their own trips that they couldn't get things set up properly.
Similarly, the band has had to endure unnecessary hassles because the people who should have insulated them were too far gone to do their job. With Cutler around, this seems to have changed. In spite of the crowd backstage, everything was handled smoothly.
The Dead could obviously use the respite increased record sales would give them. Yet they have always resisted being "produced." There is a conflict between hit albums and the Dead's concept of music.
But there was no conflict out on the stage. Jerry Garcia was facing Bob Weir. They were both sitting on folding chairs with their acoustic guitars. They finished a long piece that had strained the audience almost to breaking point. They smiled, and went into "Wake Up Little Suzie." The crowd went wild. From that they went electric again with "Cosmic Charlie." The excitement kept building.
When the audience heard the first bars of "Saint Stephen," they went insane. The intersection between audience and music was complete. When they reached "Lady fingers dipped in moonlight..." they slowed it much more than on the records, and the tension began to subside. Then the band shifted into "Not Fade Away." Suddenly all the tension was back. And they held it for 20 minutes, shifting back and forth from "Saint Stephen" to "Not Fade Away." You can only emote: "unbelievable, incredible..."
They were all elated when they came off. They didn't want to go back on, what more could they do? But for the audience, the tension was still unbearable, they had to be released.
So the band went back out without their instruments. "Lay down, my dear brothers, lay down and take your rest..." It was very ragged the first time through and the crowd couldn't handle it. They still wanted the electricity. But the Dead just kept singing over and over again. The crowd clapped along, raucously at first, but gradually the song took effect. With each repetition the harmony became surer, and finally: "I bid you good night, good night, good night."
They were completely drained. It was after 3:00 and the set had lasted well over two hours. They were even too tired to attempt to dodge the mob backstage. We watched one would-be groupie go from one member to another, "Good-bye, see you the next time you're around New York." And then we wandered off. We were drained too.

(by Harry Jackson, from Zygote, unknown date but possibly July 22 1970)

https://archive.org/details/gd70-03-21.early.lee.pcrp.20184.sbeok.shnf
https://archive.org/details/gd1970-03-21.late.aud.lee.pcrp.21779.shnf

Thanks to jgmf.blogspot.com

May 24, 1970: Hollywood Festival, UK

WHAT WILL BE THE ANSWER TO THE ANSWER THEN?

The Gagaku are coming.
Two weeks ago, some days after the Grateful Dead had paid a brief visit to England, the Gagaku gave a concert to a half-filled Royal Albert Hall. The tickets were marked 'The Gagaku': not the name of five young rock stars from West Hampstead, but a literal transplant from the Japanese, meaning 'elegant music'. The concert was in fact given by the dancers and musicians of the Imperial Court of Japan: slowly, precisely and with disciplined elegance, they performed a number of instrumental pieces written for percussion (bells, gongs, cymbals and drums) and stringed instruments (lute and harp), and played the accompanying music for three shortened dance pieces. Squatting silently behind their instruments they played quiet, light, structured music, softly controlling and redirecting the dynamics of the Hall. The dancers too, ceremoniously dressed in early court costume, pushed the air about with their simple movements, telling a silent story with each stamp of the foot, each turn of the wrist. Their music was high and light, embellished with cross-patterns, and given depth with the doomy thud of the 'bass' drums.
After two hours they finished, breaking into smiles at the five-minute ovation, and showing their first signs of indiscipline as they bowed to all sides of their square green mat. The applause continued, and so the musicians walked back to their instruments and sat down behind them, as if to play an encore. But they waited for a few seconds, collected their karma, and walked calmly from the stage, calmly out of sight.
That moment, and many others, has a parallel in the performances and moods of the Grateful Dead. The San Francisco band came and went; played one gig and left again for the States; they came as a disciplined collective unit with a naturally-developed karma, the result of years of working, living, learning and playing together; they made their statement, a more refined, intense statement than any other electrified band in the world; they knew the exact meaning and relevance of each note and movement; they were modest and surprised at their reception; they too energized the very air around them; their music is as pure and true, and their performance was an expression of their total belief, their whole existence.
The band now numbers six playing members, including the pallid, subdued Pigpen, who in effect does as little as the others allow him to, but the family is, of course, much larger. Of any band, even those on the West Coast round San Francisco, these are the people who have held out longest and strongest against the realities and pressures of existence in Amerika. There have been moments of crisis and indecision - Bob Weir and Mickey Hart have nearly left at more than one stage - and continued economic inefficiency, but they have reached a stage in their evolvement, after five years together, which no external force or change could break down. From the days even before Ken Kesey's Acid Tests and their three-month spell with Owsley Stanley III they have been totally committed to one another as members of a large though well-defined community, with the aim of bringing all those around them to what Garcia sees as 'a place where you can feel good.'
A collective, a body, needs a leader, a head. For the Dead that is the function of Jerry Garcia, a benign acid-beaten warhorse, 'dripping with music'. As the I Ching elucidates, the lake on top of the mountain feeds and nourishes the body below it, and at the same tims draws its strength and support from the mountain. So is Garcia the leader, but only through the unspoken and total support of the others. He is only part of the Grateful Dead, their font, their lake and their catalyst.

As Michael Lydon points out, the Grateful Dead as a total is an ultimate paradox within the frenetic medium cultivated by the rock machine, most noticeable in the early days of San Francisco: when superstars were demanded, the Dead remained and still remain 'just people', albeit within a large and mythical community. They were superceded as an SF band, even when they were the Warlocks, by the Great Society, the Airplane and the Charlatans. But Garcia himself has been around for some years. During the fifties his penchant moved from rock to folk, and into purists' country music, making a name for himself in New York as an incredible bluegrass banjo player before returning to the west coast in 1964 to start up Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions with Pigpen (Ron McKernan) and Bob Weir. Three total dropouts, of varying ages and backgrounds (Weir was only seventeen), they were unable to get gigs until they made the transition to an electric rock band when a local music store owner offered to supply them with equipment. They were joined on drums by Bill Sommers, as Kreutzman was identified on his fake ID, the only one of the four with previous rock and roll experience. Mickey Hart, previously a straight jazz drummer, joined later after jamming with Kreutzman. They went through 'Alligator' for two hours. If it works like that, then it is your music, and you join the Dead family. Phil Lesh eventually took over on bass. Garcia had known him for some time; he had played violin in his early years, then became a 'Kenton-style jazz trumpeter', but never before played bass. They performed for the first time as a full five-piece band during July 1965 in a club at Fremont. For a while they played as a straightforward rock band, getting louder and stranger as the months rolled past, and as they went through the days of Kesey's Acid Tests. Then 'in the late days of the Acid Tests, we were looking for a name. We'd abandoned the Warlocks, it didn't fit anymore. One day we were all over at Phil's house smoking DMT. He had a big Oxford dictionary, opened it, and there was 'grateful dead', those words juxtaposed. It was one of those moments, y'know, like everything else on the page went blank, diffuse, just sorta oozed away, and there was GRATEFUL DEAD, big black letters edged all around in gold, man, blasting out at me, such a stunning combination. So I said, 'How about Grateful Dead?' and that was it.' (Rolling Stone, August 23, 1969)
Later, after their ride on Owsley's magic bus, they moved back down to San Francisco, eventually stopping off at the legendary 710 Ashbury. They became an economic communal, musical centre of blistering energy with the continual problem of combining all those facets. Managed by Rock Skully and Danny Rifkin, they played mostly for free, and were confronted more and more often with the double reality of surviving and seeing what they had experienced with Kesey during the Acid Tests being turned into commercial 'head' products: posters, psychedelic light-shows and the 'underground' products of record companies. In 1967 they formed the Great Northwestern Tour with Quicksilver and Jerry Abrams' Headlights, taking care of all arrangements for themselves, and returning to San Francisco to set up the Carousel Ballroom with the Airplane. The concept was perfect, but the administration and business was more than they could handle, and by early 1968 Bill Graham moved in to take up the lease when the Carousel and all its energy was at its lowest ebb, renaming the place The Fillmore West. The Dead's financial crises continued: last summer the band was $60,000 in debt, a figure that will never be entirely eaten away. The situation should improve: now managed in a business-like manner by John MacIntyre, they are in the flush of their most relevant album, Live Dead, which should bring the true meaning of the Dead's concerts to a number of record-players. None of their other albums have lost less of the essential feeling of the Dead in the transition from one medium to another, but then, their records never sell well.

The first album, The Grateful Dead, was virtually a live set too. It was recorded in 1966, soon after signing their contract with Warners, with which they have never been entirely happy. They went straight into the studios with no idea what recording was about, but knowing exactly what was going to be laid down, and they had a producer. 'We went in and did everything they told us to, played our songs and sang, and we took a lot of speed y'know, and got it on. So that album was never a realistic picture.' Maybe the methods were new and strange to them, and the final outcome something beyond their ultimate control, but elements of their current live performance were already apparent. The time came for them to use that experience: 'After that we went on this thing of 'well, let's approach record-making as though we were writing a novel or painting a picture, and try for a completely finished thing, y'know, 'the long-play record'. You put it on and you listen to it all the way through, you hallucinate various ways, and there's a lot to it. That has never been anything that great numbers of people have liked.'
Anthem of the Sun, recorded in four studios and at 18 gigs between September 1967 and the end of March '68, was their first structured approach. They began with David Hassinger as their producer, moved him out halfway through, and Garcia and Lesh mixed the results. On one of the first and few albums to have no tracks, each side is an entity, moving through crashing, delicate changes, and wound round Garcia's simple melodies. 'Alligator' is still an improvisational stepping-stone in concert, moving out from a thunderous liquid opening, bouncing huge balls of sound across the stage, juggling them around into a finally-interlocking jigsaw of fire and air, toying with the elements. Kreutzman takes the basic rhythm away, staring fixedly at Hart, who stares back, a wild-eyed percussionist, forcing unreal nuances from a cowbell or wood-blocks. Garcia comes in, effortless and easy, never any sign of strain. He has no need to pull the guitar through that sound, no need to try and jerk the notes out of the ground, so he picks and chooses from the adimensional chessboard that the drummers and Lesh lay out. His solos are not [sic]; they are delicate, head-splitting bursts of energy running across that chessboard in an endless, cheerful search for the moment that he finds so often. No other white guitarist has managed to so evolve his music to the point where he creates a totally new medium for his instrument.
The third set, Aoxomoxoa, was released last year with Rick Griffin's skull/sun-seed phallus leering out of the cover. Robert Hunter, the lyrical collaborator with Garcia and Lesh, and always something of an extramural figure, had begun to write words that held out on their own against the throbbing black angel of the music. Either simple and easy:

Saint Stephen with a rose
In and out of the garden he goes
Country garden in the wind and the rain
Wherever he goes the people all complain


or lines that flash out of the instrumental background: 'One man gathers what another man spills'. At about the same time he wrote the poetry for the long winding passage of 'Dark Star':

Dark Star crashes
Pouring its light into ashes
Reason taxes
The forces tend from the axis
Searchlight casting
For faults in the cloud of delusion
Shall we go
You and I, while we can...
Through the transitive nightfall of diamonds...

Mirror shatters
In formless reflections of matter
Fast and dissolving
In ice-petal flowers revolving
Lady in velvet
Recedes in the nights of goodbye
Shall we go
You and I, while we can...
Through the transitive nightfall of diamonds...


Like no other album until Working Man's Dead, the songs here stand firmly as strong individual cuts - no flashing moments of euphoria, but a good studio album, and the basis of extended live movements. 'Saint Stephen' is the best example. On Live Dead the cut lasts nearly seven minutes, but in fact has the necessary elements for an hour's playing.
The double live album was written and recorded some eighteen months ago, but is itself an acid-test for their raga-like improvisation. Garcia explained it: 'This is the rough form, and within this form we can improvise endlessly. You take a few rough forms, y'know, they're sketchy outlines, vehicles for improvisation. We have that and we have very heavily structured things that are much more formal. That becomes more like classical music, where you can compare it in terms of other performances of the same material. On the new album, which we did in ten days, it was very short for us, really a miracle, it came out as a pretty good example of the more formal things. They aren't really; they aren't heavily arranged or anything like that, but they're specifically songs. They have specific ways they go. We don't organise instrumental passages particularly, but the vocals and stuff will be more formal: we'll have specific lines people sing. They're formal in that sense. They're songs, complete. It's much closer to the centre than any of our previous records. That is to say, it's more likely that more people can hear it and get behind it. We still satisfied ourselves artistically: we enjoyed making it, we enjoy listening to it, it's good. It's another side, that's the way I see it.'

The Dead played their first gig outside the continent of North America at the Holly Wood Festival; the first chance to see the band, and to feel their full effect.
The coach set off early for Newcastle-under-Lyme. The Dead and their entourage gathered between eight-thirty and nine in the glowing Whitsunday morning. The sky had been bright and cloudless since the first joint at six-thirty, as if the elements had already decided to give us every possibility of getting musically and spiritually high in the best conditions. Garcia rolls out of the hotel grinning as ever, like some grizzly bear just finishing the last big meal of the winter: he was ready for the day. Weir is pale and thin, and Pigpen sits on his own, grunting periodically to himself. Sam Cutler, who looks as if the task of taking care of the Dead's day-to-day practicalities is a harrowing and exhausting trip, manages at last to get all the right people into the coach. Ah. No Mickey Hart. He just knocked himself around with the exigencies of a night in the hotel. Another night in another hotel. He arrives eventually, bandy-legged, cheerfully clutching his balls, English chick silently in tow. She never said a word for the whole trip; you don't become an extra member of this group just by balling the drummer one night. She'll have to wait till they come back a few times.
Off at nine or just after, a five-hour journey ahead. And the first two hours are devoted to the joint-rolling industry: thick and thin and fast they come, and the M1 floats past. Looking out of the front and side windows of the bus becomes more like sitting in the front row of the Cinerama: the road and fields rush past as we sit transfixed in our seats. Cutler gives a rundown on our time, 'We'll be there in an hour or so', Weir and Lesh shout at each other like kids, Garcia is digging the country, and Pigpen, evil little eyes hardly flickering under his battered cord hat, grunts periodically to himself. He seems ill, yellow, pasty-faced, and always the passenger. TC is along too, not to play, but because he, as much as Pig, will always be part of the family. He sits quietly and inwardly content, those huge moustaches making his bottom jaw disappear. One expects nothing from him except the occasional mouth-full-of-hair guffaw, but even that he keeps to himself.
The obligatory stop at the Blue Boar, so Cutler can show off a unique and endemic part of the English rock scene, is full of confusion. It's midday on a hot Sunday and one of the world's most respected bands is three hours from a debut in front of an unknown audience, very stoned and faced with a tiny choice of greasy plastic food. That choice becomes difficult and irrelevant. We eat the nearest thing to hand, score a few Marvel Comix, and get back on the road. We pull round the corner to see the Holly Wood fields right after two o'clock; there it is, a grassy, natural bowl, perhaps only a third full, but still thousands upon thousands are standing, sitting, walking about, rolling, pissing, waiting. None of them have ever seen the Dead before, and the Dead have never seen any of them either. The activity in the bus steps up. This is why we're here. Garcia admits he is nervous. He is nervous! He added later 'It's hard to know what to play for; whether you're playing for a critical musical audience, or an uncritical pop audience that's used to a whole different thing, or playing for a group of freaks. Each scene is subtly different, so we didn't know where it was going to be at in relation to ourselves and the audience.'
The coach is too wide for the dusty farm lane. We get out and walk the last hundred yards, staggering bleary-eyed past the smiling country police outside the enclosure. Bleary-eyed at two in the afternoon. It hasn't even begun yet. The spiritual warmth of Quintessence floats over the hill. After them the hot blast of Colloseum, and then the band that will take the stage, mutter 'OK, we're the Grateful Dead' and take off, taking off a few hundred heads with them. Out comes this year's purple pills and third-eye drops, quietly for those who look for it, and a few BBC2 cameramen who weren't expecting Owsley's output to be quite so good. But it is.

The monitoring system screwed up for the previous bands, but along with their old, battered equipment Ramrod the Quippie and the other Dead handlers fixed their own monitors to form a complete shell of sound. It wasn't perfect: 'all you could hear were the least hearable frequencies, super-low things, and stuff coming out really weird', but by four-thirty they were ready to try it out.
For the first hour or so they gave quick glimpses of all their strengths: Hart and Kreutzman battling out the percussion, Lesh somehow, unbelievably holding them together, Weir driving down and crisply cutting up the second guitar, Pig pigging his way through 'Good Lovin'' and 'Hard to Handle', and then Garcia. Garcia with a halo of flapping black hair and a week's beard, his eyes laughing wisely behind his round yellow glasses, knowing that every note he played changed the direction of our thoughts, our moods, our meaning. He waited until the exact moment, then stepped in front of the sound-shell, grinned, calmly lashing our sensibilities, taking them where they had never dared go before, to places they never realised had existed. He controlled and energised this monstrous delicate beast, it was entirely his whim, and we went with it as the audience opened up, relaxed and allowed it to happen.
During 'Dark Star' we lost reality and soared. Above the canopy over the stage, at an exact ninety degrees to the scaffolding, and at a height of perhaps thirty or forty thousand feet, a silver dart crossed the sky, blazing a double white trail. It split the air in two, cracked the sphere, the brilliant blue crumbled. Nothing. Empty. Void. It was as if Captain Trips had been waiting for that moment, expecting it to happen. He picked up the pieces and carefully reassembled them the way he wanted, each note a truer, whiter, blacker high. They moved into the thunderous, crashing, bouncing earthquake of 'St Stephen', and softly into 'Turn On Your Lovelight'. Pigpen moved round the front to add his demonic presence to Garcia's blinding white-hot guitar. We were up, straining to be with them, carried up, out of our bodies, clapping in time for five minutes or an hour with hands that were no longer ours. It began to work: our energy was theirs, and theirs ours. We were exhausted, giving all we could; they paced themselves, giving and taking in equal amounts. How could it stop? why should it stop? what happens now?
After three hours they left the stage, but the music and the mood continued, as we staggered about, high and high and speechless. What happens now? After a hundred huge explosions in three hours or twenty-three years, what happens now? Do you pull out the plugs and go quietly, bemused, back to London or Manchester or Birmingham, or do you give the crowd more. That crowd. They didn't all go the same way: within an hour they chant and stomp and rave for Free and Mungo Jerry, like an insatiable Roman audience watching their favorite gladiators and lions chew themselves to bits, they swallow everything that is offered them, and they swallow it whole.
Backstage the feeling is different. That's enough. Nobody needs more, nobody wants more. Is there any more? The trippers and the non-trippers smile and nod, speechless. Outside in the car-park is Steve Winwood, due to close the concert in four hours time. He wanders round with a chick with bright green streaks in her hair, helplessly holding a guitar. 'What are you going to do Stevie?' Almost in tears, he replies 'I don't know man. I don't know.'

Later that week, in the few hours before he flew back to the States, Jerry Garcia talked about the gig: 'I don't think we played well. I think it was getting good; it was starting to get good; we were getting used to the sound of it, and the feeling of it, and the people were starting to get enthusiastic. The way I feel, it was our function in that festival to loosen the audience somewhat, so everybody who followed had a good audience. When we came on it was kinda like, we didn't know them and they didn't know us. But anyway, I didn't feel that we played well, I really didn't.
'We're going through some transitions. Our music is not what it was: it's continually changing. What we've been doing in the States lately is having like '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 travelling 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 - it's like very snappy electric country-rock; it's kinda hard to describe - 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. We weren't able to do that this time, we couldn't bring it all over.
'The English audience is something new, but we know how to pace ourselves. We've been doing it for five years. You either pace yourselves or you have heart attacks. Something like that...you get strung out on speed... In a festival situation it's kinda hard to get it on. You can't compete with the outdoors.'
For the last three years rumours have circulated round London that the Grateful Dead were due to arrive in England for the first time, often to play a gig in Hyde Park. They were never realised, and the rumour that they were to play at the Holly Wood festival was at first met with hardened cynicism, and then slight disbelief. But they arrived this time, explaining how near they had come to making it earlier... 'We all got shots and passports and packed and then, 'Oh...we're not going...' Garcia jokingly complained of the 'cultural shock and all' that ultimately reminded him that 'American cities don't seem civilised, they seem more like incredible, horrible accidents.'
There was a time when the Dead played as many free gigs as paid ones, but for many reasons, not the least being that they were continually burnt by over-sharp promoters and loused-up PA systems that didn't come up to the meticulous standards on which they have always insisted. They now do one free concert for about every five to a fee. But their commitment and their guidance has never been questioned on the West Coast. Captain Trips is an inspiration as well as a natural spokesman: 'If somebody has an idea, if I have an idea, for changing the country, there is no idea which will include it all. The way it's going to have to happen is for people to use what's there. Ultimately I keep hoping that whatever group of people that's running the country, which may or may not be the government, will begin to understand that unless somebody does something real soon it's all going to to go to pieces in one way or another, either ecologically or just a complete breakdown...like ecology is a reality in the States where so much is polluted and poisoned and ruined it's incredible. A hundred miles from Los Angeles, thirteen hundred feet above sea-level, there's Ponderosa Pines, which are three hundred years old. Sturdy trees. And they're all dying because of the smog from Los Angeles. The way it is in America nobody moves really towards any kind of constructive action until it gets so bad that people are dying from it. That's what it takes, and as soon as people are falling down on the streets and dying from poisoned air then they'll probably do something about it, but [until] then it will be talk. That's kinda like the limbo that all activity in the United States is into. It's on the level of talking about it, trying to talk about it, and ultimately the talk gets to be talk about talk, and definitions about definitions, endlessly fine circles where nothing happens.
'Just before we came over we did a tour of colleges in the States, this was before they closed them all down. Just during the strike we were at MIT in Boston when the Kent students were shot, and now the college people are trying to find more ways of approaching the public. So far all the activity has been like closed units, they haven't really affected the mainstream of American life at all. But now the college students were so appalled at students being shot down on the campus they have started to go out into the streets and talk to people and make an effort to change. The kind of change, however, ultimately has to do with the people who are in power, and those people have no ears to hear by. They are in a whole different world. And politics is such an awful thing in the United States that no smart person, none of the intelligent people are going for it at all. So the people who decide to be politicians are not very bright, they are people who want to be politicians. Nixon is a good example. He's President largely because he's the guy who wanted to be President. Nobody else wants the job. It's appalling, it really is. It symbolises to me a kinda wakening. Something will be done because it's just intolerable, it can't go on the way it is. Way too weird for everybody, and the economy is falling to pieces. I think all these things will eventually turn the tide, but a lot of chaos is to be expected one way or the other.'
'Music has a new relation to society. It's become very important in all kinds of new ways, and it certainly commands more attention than politics on the whole. Relating that music is also a new thing for each situation. Each situation is different and my approach to it is to try and have as many kinds of music available to us as musicians, to be able to play the right thing in any given situation. You can't really plan something like that with a band. There has to be a progression, it has to be getting more interesting, and the musicians have to be interested in the music. That's the basic requirement, and I think with us we're finding our own way. We can't compare ourselves to anybody else particularly, because our development is our own. I feel good when we're developing, and I feel bad when we're not, and that's our cycle where things are on a developmental upswing and then there's a plateau where everything is working at a new level, and then there's a decline. It's kinda entropy: we decline and everybody's bored and angry...'I hate playing the same tunes'...then a couple of months will come in, they'll be a bunch of new people and we'll rehearse for a couple months, and we'll be starting on the next climb up. Having had the previous steps as a basis, after a while a sort of rhythm, a pace, starts to manifest itself in terms of working on music, working in front of audiences, doing recordings and so forth. It's very physiological. When we play well it gets so far out at times. You transcend all the shit: the people are looking at it, and the band is looking back at the people. If you notice, when we were playing there were certain points that were high, pretty high, and starting to do something. Then it would go down, and then go up again. On a good night and a good show it's all high. There's nothing like it; it's the whole reason for playing in this context; there is no finer high; no drug gets you so high; nothing else that I know of. It's like completely surpassing form, you forget who you are, you forget what you are doing, and it's just music, with everybody participating. That's when there's something happening that's special, and about one time in every five it'll be that good. It's a good average. It used to be much lower, but it's slowly been building up. It's like love, and that's the place I think music should be. I don't think it should be business, it should be something else. I don't think it should be bullshit or call itself religion, but I think music has the possibility of getting a lot of people to a spiritually good place, or a place where you can feel good. That thing is more valuable than anything, that experience, and that's what I'm after if anything.'

(by Dick Lawson, from the UK magazine Friends, June 12 1970)

http://archive.org/details/gd70-05-24.sbd.hanno.6481.sbeok.shnf

Thanks to jgmf.blogspot.com

For other reviews, see:
http://deadsources.blogspot.com/2012/07/may-24-1970-hollywood-festival-england.html
http://deadsources.blogspot.com/2013/06/may-24-1970-hollywood-festival-britain.html

* * *

[Excerpt from a Pigpen obituary, 1973.]

The first time we saw the Dead in England was so very many years after they had started off as the Warlocks, the house band for Ken Kesey's Acid Tests. It was at the appropriately named Hollywood Festival, just near Keele, back there in May 1970.
And there was smoke and alternative stimulants all the livelong day. The sun warmed us all and the pilgrimage came to its head at 4:00. The Grateful Dead, on their first appearance outside America, moved onto the stage, monitors and brightly tie-died speakers dwarfed by their numbers. They played for three hours solid.
Workingman's Dead still hadn't hit the shops and when they gave out with 'Casey Jones' the people just loved it. And 'Dark Star' — the ultimate Dead classic — for maybe an hour. And halfway through, Garcia just goes into one of those infinitely complex riffs all up there on the high notes twisting and swirling around and suddenly he stops, jumps out to his mike and explains the whole thing: 'We're the Dead'. And it's six in the evening and the band are still sliding along and Pigpen launches off into his organ with 'Somebody to Love' and we are all standing up and then tapping along and someone times the whole thing and nobody even thought of cutting out that rhythmic clapping along for around an hour and a quarter. Of course when it all ended and the band quit the stage some absurd DJ started a shout of 'More'. His banalities remained mercifully solitary. There was no more, and no-one else needed it.

(from "Ron 'Pigpen' McKernan: As Long As He's Been Doin' It Right," by Jonathon Green, from the International Times, March 22 1973)

Feb 23, 2014

July 1970: Fillmore East

PLAYING IT STRAIGHT

One has heard about this place. This is where the big rock groups play, where little girl groupies jump up on the stage and do terrible things, where you can get high just breathing the air. In we go, The Kid and I, past a flock of scruffies soliciting "spare tickets." Paranoia! I'll be the only person in the place without knee-length hair. I'll be mistaken for John Mitchell. Charles Manson will step to the microphone and announce that a straight has been spotted in Row E, will everybody please kill him. And The Kid - he is not mine, he has been entrusted to my care, how can I take him back to his parents in Connecticut with frizzed hair and needle-tracks all up and down his arms? What the hell am I doing here?
What I am doing is walking into what used to be a fancy movie theater - a "picture palace," they probably called it when it opened in the 1930s. Now it's the Fillmore East. Long upgrade through the lobby. We wander a while, looking for a friend who is supposed to be here tonight. Occupancy by more than 2,438 people is unlawful and dangerous.
It's filling up fast. This truly is a politer generation. When one is jostled, the jostler says, "Excuse me"; soon one finds oneself replying, "That's okay." I don't feel all that out of place. The median age is nineteen or twenty; most of the hair is my length or a little longer.
Once again my theory is confirmed: It's not the hair that matters, or the clothes - it's the eyes. Most of the kids have bright, alert eyes; a minority have vacant, wandering eyes and with them the slack jaw and adolescent spine-slump of absolute Weltschmerz, utter defeat. You saw the same eyes, jaw, slump in my own adolescence, on boys who wore ducktails, kept their Marlboros in the rolled-up sleeves of their T-shirts, and hung around on corners.
We find our seats with the help of an usher who, like all the ushers here, wears a white T-shirt with the word PLEASE stenciled across the front and a peace symbol on the back. The lights dim; matches flare and the smell of cannabis drifts through the air. A pleasant-looking kid in a CCNY shirt asks if we have anything to smoke. We haven't.

On the stage, darkness made visible by the red jewel lights of the monster amplifiers that stretch in a row all the way across. Figures bumble back and forth, adjusting things, fetching and carrying. At last (only ten or fifteen minutes late) the stage lights come up and there stand the Grateful Dead. Only they aren't the hard-rocking Dead yet; they open in their soft-country persona of Bobby Ace and the Cards from the Bottom.
The music is, except for the bass, unamplified, with vocals in close harmony - pure country. I want to watch the band but I'm distracted by the light show, giant splashes and patterns in constant motion projected on a stupendous screen at the back of the stage. It fits not at all with the clean, precise, rather modest country sounds, this holdover from the acid-rock days of the mid-Sixties when everything was psychedelic, including the Dead.
Psychedelic they no longer are. Three or four songs in, they go very gently into "Silver Threads and Golden Needles" - the first country song I ever liked. With that, they have me. We wander around the country together until the set ends with "Uncle John's Band" from their album, Workingman's Dead (which buy). The song is a joy - straight, unpretentious, cheerful (but not bubble-gum "happy"), a confident invitation to relax and listen to the music.
Intermission time. We go in search of our friend. The lobby is jammed; the upstairs lounge where refreshments are sold even worse. I like the refreshment stand - at what other concert hall in the city may one buy eleven different flavors of yogurt? We struggle back through the crowd. I've stopped noticing the kids. I suppose I feel at home.
The second set brings us another facet of the Dead: the New Riders of the Purple Sage, an electric country group, led by Jerry Garcia on electric steel pedal guitar (that's the instrument responsible for the high, shimmering twangs that are the trademark of "hard," Nashville-style country music). No harmonizing now; all the singing is done by one Marmaduke, a good enough country vocalist who sounds, in fact, like he has an electric steel pedal of his own, right in his larynx. I don't much care for this set - the music is too hoked-up, not simple and direct the way I like my country.

Another intermission, still no friend, then the third set. This is what the crowd's been waiting for: An electric sign descends from the flies - "GRATEFUL DEAD." Off we go - hard, hard rock with all the amplifiers burning up. For the rest of the night, the whole house is on its feet, clapping and swaying. One kid a couple of rows away from us jerks his body in a steady rhythm, eyes closed, head lolling - but then he's been doing that most of the night, probably through the intermissions too. He and one very stoned shorthair in the lounge are the only freakouts we've seen all night. Everybody else is in touch with the music.
Which is good rock, every once in a while slightly countrified. I watch them play (damn the light show!) - not perform, just play: Garcia is on a regular electric guitar now, pulling unbelievable sounds out of the thing. He stands, perfectly relaxed, his great teddy-bear head nodding slightly, absorbed in what he's doing. The two drummers are perfectly together. Everything is effortless. There is no self-conscious thrashing around: the music comes through clear, without the veneer of hostility and anger that is the stock-in-trade of so many groups. Playing it straight has been the keynote of the whole evening (the only political manifestations I see are a Black Panther leaflet crumpled up in a urinal, and a showing, during one intermission, of Nixon's Checkers speech, at which the audience hoots predictably, not at all thankful that we have a New Nixon now).
The end. Prolonged gratitude from the audience; one encore (they've been playing for six hours) and then we file out. It's long past dawn; the concert began at midnight. We head for the First Avenue bus, and there, waiting at the stop, is the friend we've been looking for.
"I'm sorry they weren't better tonight," he says right off. We liked them fine. On the ride uptown, he explains why they weren't better. He takes the Dead very, very seriously - just a few days before, he quit his job in the climax of a religious afflatus in which the Dead represented Christ and the Rolling Stones, Satan.
"I can't see making a big religious thing out of it," The Kid says later. Or revolutionary, or whatever, I add mentally. Play it straight. Out of the mouths of fifteen-year-olds.

(by C.H. Simonds, from National Review, January 12 1971)

Thanks to jgmf.blogspot.com

Feb 21, 2014

October 2-4, 1969: Boston Tea Party

THE YEAR OF THE DEAD

The Grateful Dead are on the way up. But whether it be from a growing musical acumen on the part of their audience, a starring role in Tom Wolfe's Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, or simply that they are one of the only living reminders of the Summer of Love, nobody can really say for sure. The only thing that does seem sure is that suddenly (?) great gobs of people have turned on to the group, giving them a series of packed houses, screaming audiences and fans whose devotion borders on the mystical.
I doubt if even the Dead themselves could give you a reason why. Whatever it is, it certainly didn't take much to prove the point to the overflow crowds that jammed The Tea Party during October's first weekend. By the third number, the audience was invariably on its feet, if not dancing, then at least rhythmically swaying throughout the set.
Dead music is unlike any other, and thus brooks no comparisons. They have a magnificent texture, layers upon layers of lead riffs coagulating over each other, coiled, nearly a form without a form. On stage, they are loose almost to the point of nonchalance, switching off instruments, resting while the song runs through its changes. They encompass all varieties of music, from Jerry Garcia country to Pigpen blues to somewhat 5/4 jazz.
If you need a word try Flow. There is nothing calculated about a Dead performance. There is lots of searching, lots of trying this or that, lots of times when the song lays down and waits for someone to tell it where to go. On Saturday, they meandered around for close to half an hour, finding something, losing it again, finally coming around ever so slowly to catch a piece of Anthem of the Sun. You can feel the group relax when they hit the mainline, watch them settle in, know that it's now just a matter of time until the energy beams connect and things rise just another level.
It's been a good tour for the Dead. Previous to Boston, they played New York's Cafe Au Go Go. Though the club is notorious for having dead acoustics, their performance on Tuesday night (Sept. 31) stretched on until six in the morning, with most of the available space taken up by dancers. Think of New York, and think of dancers and you'll see that The Dead can perform wonders, given a time and place.
They even staged their own version of the Rock and Roll revival this time around. "Every once in a while we like to bring back some of our old numbers." and so Friday night they brought back the grandaddy of their golden oldies, 'In The Midnight Hour'. They had referred to it as "ancient history" even as far back as their first trip east over two and some years ago. but suddenly there it was, fresh and new as ever, updated by Garcia's wonderfully long ride on the pedal steel.
There were lots of good moments from The Dead's stay in Boston: the best drum solos from them in a long while, some discreet organ work by Tom Konstanten. Pigpen's enjoyable and altogether too-brief appearances. But over all of this, above any musical things that might have emanated from the stage, was the particular set of vibrations that The Dead manage to bring out in their audiences. They attract a mixed bunch — cycle gangs, hard core freaks, spaced and very strange people that seem to stay underground until their arrival. Together, they certainly do not make for the usual Tea Party crowd.
And The Dead seldom let them down. In a strange way, the group brings the spirit of California with them wherever they go. It's a good feeling, and though its reality out west may be as mythic as one of Pizarro's cities of gold, it still feels nice when it happens here.

(by Lenny Kaye, from Fusion, November 14 1969)

* * *

HAVE YOU SEEN MY BONZO DOG DOO DAH?

The Bonzo Dog Band played with The Grateful Dead at the Boston Tea Party on October 2, 3, and 4. I attended on the evening of the 2nd and arrived just as The Dead were about to begin their first set, an insipid and seemingly endless group of pantomimes for which they received an enthusiastic round of applause.
It was interesting to note that the most enthusiastic member of the audience was a young man sniffing glue out of a brown paper bag. There then began an unreasonably long wait for the Bonzos to appear (one could see them hovering in the wings or sometimes catch the glare of a flugelhorn bell) during which time a horde of newies, oldies, and new pseudo-oldies (Cat Mother) was played over the PA.
The music inspired some frenzied dancing, the most outstanding participant being a young woman wearing ballet slippers and what appeared to be the entire stock of a rather sizeable Morgan Memorial who danced with a savage frenzy rarely found amongst the civilized peoples. She eventually found a partner in the glue sniffer, but unfortunately his style was much too ethereal and on more than one occasion he missed the beat. Disgusted she whirled off into the darkness in search of another partner, leaving him alone with his brown paper bag.
The music continued to blare, the oldies evoking the most response which brings us to: Digression One — Is the current "popularity" of oldies symptomatic of a stagnation in rock? Perhaps. More likely it is illustrative of the power of real and imagined nostalgia. Many people might contend that it is a revolt against the increased complexity of rock, a harkening back to the simpler ways. I don't think so. Most rock was and continues to be musically simple and lyrically pedestrian. Granted, the lyrics of 'Queen of the Hop' are easy to sing and understand but so are those of 'Sugar, Sugar'. What makes 'Queen of the Hop' more loveable than 'Sugar, Sugar' is the same element that makes Stu Erwin more loveable than Dick York: time. We tend to forget that things were just as screwed up during the "Golden Age of Rock" as they are now. Only the good things from the past remain in our minds ready to be conjured up at the drop of a needle on a dusty forty-five.
Well, to get back, the Bonzos finally appeared on stage, tuned up. and began their set with 'Can Blue Men Sing the Whites?' a humorous and cutting (though unfounded) jab at white bluesmen which ended with Roger Spear in blackface mouthing "Mammy". The set continued with a long and rarely amusing reading by Vivian Stanshall and a few syrupy ballads by Neil Innes. Even the Spear's electronic gadgetry and the usually sparkling showmanship of Legs Larry Smith failed to get the show off the ground.
The performance on the whole was shoddy, lackluster, and uninspired. To one who had heard the Bonzos on record or seen them performing at their best (and at their best they are quick, inventive and hilarious) it was a painful experience. All of which brings us to: Digression Two — Is the Bonzo Dog Band a revival of vaudeville as the sludgier critics contend? Probably. They usually do manage to put together an entertaining melange of satire, farce and music, but then as long as they're enjoyable who really cares?

(by Loyd Grossman, from Fusion, November 14 1969)

Feb 20, 2014

January 30, 1970: The Warehouse, New Orleans

MUSIC / THE WAREHOUSE

Unless you can feel it, live rock music is pretty useless. Barely seeing (and not hearing) four dots in Shea Stadium, no matter how fab those four dots may be, is not music. Shudder you must; vibrations and maybe even pain should pass through your body and the whole experience should be physical, carnal. And that can only happen in a concert hall small enough so you can feel the sound and large enough so the amps can be turned up.
A 100-year-old coffee and cotton warehouse on Tchoupitoulas St. is now a concert hall, run not by ridiculous old men with sideburns but by young and apparently sincere people (Bill Johnston and his friends). It hasn't settled into itself yet but it will - and what is good now will get better.
The Flock, Fleetwood Mac and the Grateful Dead bands played at the Warehouse's first concert Friday night. The emcee was Richard Shanks of WJMR-FM. The show was to have started at eight and the warehouse was full by then; full of "freaks (the long hairs)," a few bikers (motorcycle hippies), and college students and their dates. But nothing ever starts on time, so Joe Cocker records were used to get things going.
Shanks came on at eight-thirty. Peering out into the low-ceilinged room, dotted with red and blue lights, Shanks thanked us all for being so groovy; thanked Johnston and his friends for being so groovy; warned us not to smoke any dope there, and announced that Mayor-elect Landrieu thought that the warehouse is a good idea. He also said that Moon had wanted to come but that a meeting in Washington had made a visit impossible. Anyway, he sent his regrets and wished the place good luck. Shanks then told the audience that hizzoner had "good ideas" and that freaks should like him because he's a liberal or something. Had he shown up, who knows? Visions of Lindsay in the Mets' locker room. Shanks then finally introduced the Flock.

The Flock, "direct from Chicago's 'Kinetic Playground,'" (Boston once had a "Psychedelic Supermarket") traipsed onto the stage. Two saxophones, trumpet, guitar, bass, drums, and a girl violin player. She wore faded blue jeans with peace symbols painted on her knees, and that was the only thing about the band that impressed me - and that by its pretension. The Flock never came together, and even if they had it would only have amounted to ersatz Blood, Sweat and Tears anyhow. When the real thing ain't too good... They played one of the longest hour sets I've ever heard.
After the Flock finished doing whatever it was that they did, half an hour ensued before Fleetwood Mac arrived. During the delay, emcee Shanks led the assemblage in a WJMR station break chant (recorded supposedly for future use on the radio) that didn't quite make it.

Fleetwood Mac came on about ten and played a really fine set; old blues songs and their own material. They ended with "Great Balls of Fire." Goodness gracious! When called back, they played "Shake" for another fifteen minutes or so. The lead guitarist is a chap named Peter Green, once the guitarist for John Mayall. Green followed Eric Clapton on the Bluesbreaker assembly line and was preferred by the master: Clapton was lead guitarist no. 33 and Green no. 34. Mayall is now up to no. 712. A clean guitarist without too much flash is Peter Green, and Fleetwood Mac was greatly appreciated.
Now it was 12:30 p.m. and the college students who did show up were starting to leave so their dates could make their dorm curfews. The Dead came on.

The Grateful Dead is an up and down band; at Woodstock they were awful beyond belief, but their New Year's Eve gig in Boston was simply beyond belief. After a mediocre half hour they played "Good Loving" - a turning point of sorts; the Rascals were never better plagiarized.
Soon thereafter they were The Dead, throwing everything out and putting it back together again; starting something, letting it turn into something else; then coming back half an hour later to finish what they had started. Jerry Garcia quietly but happily playing his guitar and Bob Weir forcefully playing his, Pigpen being Pigpen. The Grateful Dead, for over two hours, being the Grateful Dead.
The Dead played until a quarter of three. At 3:30 they were arrested at their hotel by the "friendly" local narcs - who had obviously waited for hours, licking their chops in joyous anticipation of their impending haul. Good work, boys! Don't worry about the Mafia's heroin, you've got more important things to do.
Sunday evening, Feb. 1, Fleetwood Mac and the Grateful Dead played a benefit concert at the Warehouse in order to raise funds for legal fees for the Dead and other bands apprehended by New Orleans' Finest.

(by Paul Droesch; newspaper/date unknown)

https://archive.org/details/gd70-01-30.sbd.vernon.10546.sbeok.shnf

* * *

"GRATEFUL DEAD" NABBED IN N.O. NARCOTICS RAID

NEW ORLEANS (UPI) -- Police arrested 19 persons, including members of the California rock band "The Grateful Dead" in a raid on a French Quarter motel before dawn today.
One of those arrested was Owsley Stanley, 35, of San Francisco, whom police said identified himself as "The King of Acid" and as a technician with the band.
Officers said they seized marijuana, LSD, barbiturates, and dangerous narcotic and non-narcotic drugs in the raid on several of the motel rooms.
The list of those arrested also included John McIntire, 28, who identified himself as leader of the band.
Three New Orleans girls were also included among the 19 arrested.

(from the Baton Rouge State Times, January 31 1970)   

For more detail on the bust, see:
http://deadsources.blogspot.com/2012/05/january-30-1970-new-orleans-bust.html
http://www.nola.com/music/index.ssf/2014/02/set_up_like_a_bowling_pin_a_lo.html  

Feb 9, 2014

June 21, 1971: Herouville, France


[This article was translated from the French original. It is incomplete, missing the end. It reads a little strangely due to the imperfect translation; see the comments for more details. Corrections are welcome.] 


THE DANCE OF THE DEAD

Nobody could believe it. They even claimed that everyone would be there, except the Dead. Think about it! Eighteen people, four and a half tons of material, all have to come and return to San Francisco, curiously fitted for a festival!... No they are not crazy, the Americans. Not crazy, the people of the Grateful Dead. They do not travel for nothing. Next to thousands of dollars from the Fillmore, the free enthusiasm of Jean Bouquin would only make them smile gently... This is the kind of talk that circulated for a good week in the generally well-informed media.
I was happily inspired to take a ride in this fashionable car on Friday evening, at the time that a few thousand of you were sadly floundering in the mud of Auvers-sur-Oise. Very inspiring, too, thank you, to let my ears dangle and thus hear someone say that he had seen the Grateful Dead with his own eyes in the chateau of Michel Magne, the same afternoon. Curious, however, to see that the people he spoke to reacted so feebly, barely willing to express their interest by a raised eyebrow or comment. When we know that in this case these were French musicians, it is astonishing to see that not one made ​​any effort, not one (except Magic Heart and Tribe) went the forty kilometers that separated them from the Grateful Dead and the good and profitable lesson. Maybe they do not know the Dead, anyway? We are often surprised by the ignorance shown by pop musicians in matters of pop music... I must be a little naive cursing that anyone, knowing WHAT THE GRATEFUL DEAD IS, would hesitate one second to put down his scotch or hastily put on his pants to see this group, listen, try to understand why these quiet-looking characters became uncommon musicians. Try to understand why it is often said that, on stage, the Grateful Dead is the best band in the world.
People are curious...

Near the pool

It was the very first time we ran into a closed door in Michel Magne’s chateau. The first time, too, that the gendarmes were showing their credentials to visitors. I was amply welcomed, even so, having notified the master of the house of my arrival. The day before, it was raining; on that day, of course it was a great time. The sun played amusingly with the braids of their caps, perhaps this is why I did not recognize in these gendarmes the brothers of the cops who, by the tens of hundreds, crowd the sidewalks of the Saint Germain and Saint-Michel boulevards, every night, carabiners on the shoulders […] (imagine for a moment the Dead giving a concert in this area). All this has of course nothing to do in a review of pop music, and moreover, it is written daily in Le Figaro which, like us, told you: you have to see it to believe it, and you do not believe us, out there, who're reading these lines, who only come twice per year to the splendid Kapitale! End of parenthesis.
The gate closed, I had the impression a huge crowd was swarming the property; in fact, the few dozen longhairs were moving around in all directions so much they multiplied tenfold. The members of the Dead troupe, they were spotted from afar, but as for recognizing the musicians themselves, who have been seen very little in photographs in pop magazines around the world, the task proved difficult. And yet, he whose shirt collar goes over that of his sweater, watching you (with blue-gray-ice-steel eyes) through gold-rimmed glasses, that’s Phil Lesh, the bassist of the Dead. His hair is as short as in the army, and nobody bothers him, he is thought to be a student, or an inhabitant of the chateau... But there is no question that this is really HIM, sitting on this bench near the pool!
Patrice Blanc-Francard, between two tennis matches, assures me that this skinny type, skull slightly balding, watching everything without saying a word, is actually and absolutely Jerry Garcia. Pause. I saw "Woodstock," I, sir, and I can assure you that this guy is not Jerry Garcia. Re-pause. But as I am very conscious of the superiority of Blanc-Francard, I am convinced that this gentleman is actually Garcia, the man with magic fingers and golden words... And turning around, how to approach him, because I came for that, largely, and I thought it more welcoming... "Uh!... I'll point out that the REAL Jerry Garcia is in the kitchen, eating a sandwich," the no.1 gawker of Pop 2 admitted to me a few minutes later (I learn here that this character confused with Garcia was none other than Robert Hunter, responsible for 90% of the lyrics of the Dead?).
No doubt this time. Beard, round glasses, eighty-seven kilos, bushy hair, and those extraordinarily bright eyes, it’s all there, including the wide welcoming smile. This man is a real magnet. He speaks, says exciting things, or makes them exciting. He seems to understand everything, can talk about everything, explain everything. A brilliant mind, but more importantly, a clear mind. I serve myself a dried sausage and butter and a glass of red wine, and I listen, unable to tear myself away in this kitchen. He discusses with an Englishman from Kinney, about his record company, and they both leave (probably saying things that I would not have had the right to write?). Besides, the other musicians arrive, just awakened, and I have the satisfaction of recognizing them. Pig Pen (whose real name is Ron McKernan), whom I've always seen with this incredible pointy hat, Bob Weir (who knows very well he is handsome, looks like Dister), Bill Kreutzman, the drummer, who lacks a straw hat to become a successful gardener.

Come on, kid!

Merely seeing them, we feel, we see that the Dead is the class above. This calm and relaxation does not deceive, this is the lot of the great lords, and it would have been very disappointing if the Dead resembled that other English group, housed in the chateau during the presumed duration of the festival. The people of the Grateful Dead have nothing in common with those "promotional tour" musicians who smile to everyone, impatiently waiting the opportunity to give an interview. They do not like being hooked, either, not by a stranger who comes with the sole purpose of making a paper or photo. You have to be with them, if you feel that this does not bother them, to ensure that contact occurs naturally. It seemed good to me to see Garcia - the most approachable of all respond rather curtly to several people who were breaking his feet during the intermission of the concert on Monday.
At dinner (50 people), the Blanc-Francard Brothers (Patrice and Dominique, sound engineer at Herouville) grimaced, cast spells on me; Garcia, not far away, ate, laughed; Lesh tasted the leg of each table. The English themselves, noses on their plates, spoke of amps, music, choruses, songs, England, bad groups (others), the jam session they wanted at all costs to do with the Dead, just now, up there in the studio. They are called in English Busbastis and they were grouped by Geoff Nicholson, former guitarist of East of Eden. They had barely swallowed their last cherry when they rushed to their equipment and set it up, got it running, got themselves together. They were finally ready, yet the Dead’s equipment still had not left the truck and the people concerned were dispersed in fragrant nature.
A little later, Nicholson barely left Garcia time to get ready or adjust his tiny Fender Special Studio amp. Cascades of clarion notes came out of his huge Marshall submerging everything, except the “free-jazz” saxophonist of Busbastis, very eager to be heard at all costs. He succeeded, alas. Bob Weir, the rhythm guitarist of the Dead, managed somehow to put a few chords here and there; Garcia tried several times to play. Alas! As soon as his solo sprang out, as soon as he emerged from this rickety rhythm (Bill Kreutzman, entering the studio and addressing the drummer: "Come on kid, go on, one-two, one-two. Perfect. IN RHYTHM NOW!"), the other came in with his racket, and Garcia stopped, thinking that his amp had suddenly failed. This little game lasted an hour, an hour that the road managers took advantage of to set up little by little almost all of the Dead’s equipment. Garcia put down his guitar, doubtlessly defeated by the noise: our eyes met at that time and his expression left no doubt about the reasons for this abandonment. And do not tell me that a good musician should be able to play with anyone! Downstairs, Kreutzman set up his cymbals and tended his drumskins. Outside, it was mild...
When a little later, back at the studio, I met Nicholson on the stairs, I thought the music we could vaguely hear had a completely different sound from that of the hour before. Seeing the head of two Busbastis, I told myself that for them, the rejoicings seemed finished, that sound, I knew it well... Garcia was no longer in the same place. He was there, in the middle of the studio, sitting, just like Lesh and Weir...and Kreutzman, right next to them...and Pig Pen, on the left, behind the organ. Another glance to check that none of the Busbastis soiled the place ... what I heard, saw ... FINALLY THE DEAD! FINALLY THEY PLAYED AND SANG, FINALLY!!!

Serene Blues

Formerly, they were called the Warlocks, a feeble name next to Jefferson Airplane or Quicksilver, for example, which symbolized in a word the magic of San Francisco. Garcia then played guitar for a few years, an instrument he had nonetheless given up for two years in favor of the banjo. A music student, Jerry Garcia has in fact worked as much in country music as rock'n'roll, leaving acoustic guitar quite late in favor of the electric. For a long time he had known Pig Pen, and all those who were to become the Grateful Dead.
He had a great admiration for Lesh, who was not playing bass at the time, but taught young people the art of using a trumpet, tuba or saxophone. Wishing to play with the Dead, Lesh decided to learn the bass; two months later, it happened for the first time in public. There are people like that. If one day someone does a paper on bassists, I hope Lesh will not be forgotten in favor of a weak English player who’d swing like a clothes-iron. Lesh swings like nobody, except Casady (JA), perhaps. Both were influenced by Tamla Motown bassists: they play well “deep down” with the tempos, thus raising the rhythm, giving it a new momentum, like wave crests that rise, rise, and widen the rolling water and take off. Lesh and Casady though are proof of the superiority of using abundant harmonics; whence the name "bass soloists," now employed in a pejorative sense, because of some abuse by instrumentalists who should no doubt have been content with a discreet thump-thump.
Lesh, like Garcia, like the Dead, has found his style very quickly; as evidenced by the first disc of the group, "San Francisco's Grateful Dead" (will it be published some day in France?). Their music today is very close to the music they did four years ago. The "Morning Dew" they interpreted on Monday, on the lawn, is an incontestable proof. Especially because, numerically, the formation returned to its starting point, after Tom Constanten left, and Pig Pen has a less and less important role: the blues has become calmer, more country, after the esoteric period of "Anthem of the Sun" and "Aoxomoxoa," respectively the second and third LPs of the group.
For those who do not know, who did not have the opportunity to discover it through records, the Dead was, at that period (68-69), virtually inaccessible. The ears accustomed to Cream at the time had to do violence to understand "What's Become of the Baby" ("Aoxomoxoa"), or music and voices skidding into fiery slides. Alchemical music, which is largely due to Tom Constanten who has a passion for magnetic tapes and altered sounds, space music that has a large pop audience will never happen. Especially since the French pressings of these discs are barely worth a listen. On these two albums, however, we can guess the main features of the “live” Grateful Dead, without pre-recorded tapes, especially focused on making the freaks happy and helping them get high. When it plays, the rhythm section is exuberant and the solos of Garcia rise gently, very high, very clear ("Alligator"). Moreover, "Live Dead" was soon released, which confirms that the group, in public, bears little resemblance to the group that makes records. The songs readily exceed ten minutes, the sound is much clearer, Garcia’s guitar is more pure. "Live Dead" is the turning point in the career of the Dead, who, after appearing in all possible places, most often for free, making themselves known and esteemed, had the satisfaction of seeing their music sell well. And then came "Workingman's Dead". If we had done a little "71 Questions", at Rock & Folk, at least two people would have cited "WD" in the top three discs of the past year.

The villagers dance

Even better! Few albums released since then are as good, as exciting as this one. Not one, in any case, is as important. Wonderful Grateful Dead, marvelous group that offers for thirty-five minutes a series of musical miracles. Because balancing such an assortment of blues, country, rockand acid really takes a miracle. With "Workingman's Dead", the Dead has become a major group of the United States. It is the only one that can play the blues, rock and Country & Western so well, which are typically American genres. The Dead is not a rock band (it can be) plus a blues band, nor a Jug Band. It is all this at once, and the music of "W.D." is also all of this. Listen to the perfection of the harmony of these three or four voices (Garcia, Lesh, Weir and Pig Pen), a little choked, almost childlike at times, so together ("Uncle John's Band"), in accord with the accompaniment, that the music is a modulated vibe. Listen, too, to the rhythmic ease and spontaneity of this masterpiece called "New Speedway Boogie"... In fact, all the songs on this disc are authentic masterpieces, and if you do not have it, you can never understand what happened at Herouville during this free concert given in front of and for two hundred people. Two hundred people of whom 7/8 had never heard of the Grateful Dead ... A hundred seventy-five inhabitants of a village that has at the most numbered in thousands.
From the first note, everyone stood up, and danced. They danced for about two hours, laughing with pleasure, shouting their joy, without the slightest effort. If they had known the words, they would have sung! I saw the parents of these children astonished to enjoy listening, to experience this music, they who, at first, perhaps had only come to see the hippies, to please the kid, excited at the thought of seeing the people of the chateau, lured by the promise of eating and drinking to satiety. Because Michel Magne does things. We probably could have filled a large part of the pool with the champagne drunk that night, and made a few pounds of paste with the bones of the chickens. For a moment, he had to have a little heartache, Michel Magne, to see that people rushed into the pool without taking the time to undress. But he did not intervene, basically happy and satisfied with the feast which merrily extended the aborted festival.
The Dead played. I remember "Morning Dew", a fabulous "Casey Jones", with the final chorus repeated to infinity, "High Time", "Black Peter", "That's it for the other one", and others, of which I forget the titles, or especially a lot of songs that I did not know. The Dead has about two hundred titles in its repertoire (Lesh said), they who played all night hardly ever stopping. The songs are lengthened, thanks to the collective improvisation directed by Garcia, who only rarely looks where his fingers are going. He smiled at the crowd, his eyes followed the dancers. But he was so deep in the heart of the music that perhaps he did not really see. He chose the sounds, on the neck of his instrument, which is no longer noticed, he himself seems to worry about it so little, an object whose handling no longer poses him any problem. Fluency, once again, and a breathtaking imagination. Garcia never bores, and yet, he plays a long time, a very long time, very often. Others would make us hiss, but he captures the listener and never lets him go. He remains, no matter what happens, a model of taste, elegance and freshness...
Lesh grins, laughs nervously, concerned at the sound of his bass whose frequencies draw a green curve on a screen placed on the amp (I forget the name of the device). Weir places his chords within the space suggested by Lesh and Kreutzman; Pigpen taps at the piano, disappears, blows his harmonica. Or else, suddenly, the voice you hear is no longer that of Garcia, but his, there, to the left. And the people still dance, always dancing, untiring, impatient when the musicians stop and take a few seconds to choose the next song.
Pop 2 and Claude Ventura are filming without stopping, the sound engineers of Alembic studios, who always follow the Dead, recording, together with Dominique Blanc Francard, who inaugurated the 16-track equipment of the chateau’s mobile studio. "This time," his brother said to me, "we will have a good sound for Pop 2: we have 16 tracks plugged up the ass!" (and he went frolicking in the grass, carried by Garcia’s guitar).
My favorite garden party is ending with another San Francisco group, which plays an "abstract" music (and I mean to say abstract) based on the movements of colors that a light show invents before them. At least, that is what they are claiming, that their light show is indispensable to create this strident music, excessively electronic, a passage of piercing shrieks. Some of these tones almost damaged the sound columns of the Dead, whose equipment they were using; I have rarely seen low frequencies make the grass vibrate so much.

We will return

At two o'clock in the morning, some desperately seek a chicken leg or a glass of something. The air cools treacherously, and, through the steam emerging from the heated pool water, bathers can be seen squeezing around a fire and trying to dry their soaked clothing. Firemen, guests, thrilled to be here, stop dancing, stop trampling their caps (it happened...in the heat of the action). On the inside, longhairs in tunics and open-collar gendarmes are discussing, glasses in hand.
Outside, I found that Garcia was conversing with his soundman. Chatting in the dark, the light of the light show was losing its intensity.
- How do you feel you played tonight? It is very difficult, for us, to realize. I know that everyone found it great, me first, but I saw you just now, you did not look completely satisfied.
- No, actually, I am very happy. I had some worries because we did not play on a real stage and I was not very aware of the sound that we had. But they told me that everything was OK. Really, I am very happy, and the others too; I think we made good music. But I absolutely did not expect such an enthusiastic reaction from people who do not know us, who do not even know rock music. To see them dancing like that, it gave us immense pleasure. I think we've made them happy, we surprised them, I could not think of getting such a result. Really. What makes me very happy is to see the reaction of people is the same everywhere, in the States and in France. What makes me happy, is to see the Grateful Dead can please both here and over there. For this, we will return.
- How is it that you have agreed to come play for free at this festival?
- Well, there was a very long time that we wanted to come and play in France, a very long time. It is a country that seems fascinating, seen from America (no, he was not joking), and what's more, it’s seeing that it’s true, Paris, France, here (grand sweeping gesture in the air), it is really fantastic... So they contacted us; they paid for our trip; we came. Especially since it was a free festival, which we prefer. In fact I prefer to give free concerts. When you have to pay, this still poses problems, and it often ends very badly. The Grateful Dead is at the moment becoming extremely popular in the United States, it's true, eh, I don’t want to seem... Every time we play, in a club, in any place, there are always thousands of people coming, and many cant enter, either because the seats are all rented, or because they have no money to pay. So they’re denied entry, the cops of the place repel them, very often causing a fight and bad vibes...and we play badly, because we are very sensitive to the prevailing climate where we have to play.

The family

- When you stayed for whole weeks at the Fillmore, you were paid?
- Of course. But not so much. It is we ourselves who asked to play for whole weeks, every night, just to avoid too many people coming at the same time. You understand what I'm saying? The Fillmore was full every night, but it has never been stuffed to bursting and there were no incidents. Besides, we’ve only done that at the Fillmore.
- If you return to France, can you tell me how you would consider your concerts?
- You know, we want to return. Perhaps accompanied by New Riders (of the Purple Sage) and the Jefferson Airplane, I don’t know. I think anyway, we would in this case do a tour in France. Small concerts, free if possible, everywhere. No big stuff with big - (Continued on page 73)

[The rest is missing - I don’t have page 73.]

(by Jacques Chabiron: “La Danse du Dead,” Rock & Folk no. 55, August 1971) 

See also: 

* * *   

BONUS INTERVIEW

[A Pop 2 TV interviewer spoke briefly to Garcia on the lawn on the afternoon of 6/21/71, the Dead's amps stacked behind him. Here is the transcript. It is incomplete: most of the interviewer's questions are obliterated either by edits or by the French voiceover, and many pieces of Garcia's answers are also inaudible because of the voiceover. But the general sense is clear.] 
 
-- Late '63, early '64. 
-- Well, we were - we actually started a little south of San Francisco, in Palo Alo, Stanford University... 
-- No, we were beatniks. I was a folk guitarist, and played five-string banjo [ ... ]. We started as a jug band - Bobby Weir, myself, and Pigpen, and it sort of gradually developed into a rock & roll band. 
-- Well, yeah, it took us about six months to make the transition. 
-- Right, different small [communities], but there was really no "community"... Then there was the first benefit for the Mime Troupe in San Francisco, which was the first time that many bands played together, and the musicians were exposed to artists of different sorts - the Mime Troupe people, the light show, like Bill Hamm [pointing], multimedia...and that was like the beginning of that sort of idea, which later, we had what they call a Trips Festival, did you ever hear about that? In San Francisco, and that was all the new forms, all slideshows, movies... 
-- Well, it's hard to say, at that time, the underground was [ ... ] only a handful of people, but the Trips Festival [ ... ] many people, more than anybody thought [ ... ]. 
-- Yeah, it was the first thing that we could really call a festival. 
-- At that time, we thought in terms of growing out, but we never thought that - I don't think - we sort of hoped that it would expand in this way, but we never really thought that it would, it never seemed as though it would. But then next week it was in Time magazine and all this national [ ... ], the light was focused on us, that and the whole "hippie scene," what the media called [ ... ], which was in reality just a small community of artists and musicians and so forth, more or less working together for their own survival. And because of the focus on the hippie scene, you know, all sorts of people came to the west coast, and San Francisco, and there was more than could be assimilated, you know, so it just blew it apart, blew it to pieces, there was just too much. 
-- There's a saying around where we're from, around California and the Bay Area [ ... ], and the saying is, the revolution is over - and we won - and what's left is a cleanup action. 
-- Yeah, because those are like the dinosaurs [ ... ]. It has its own destruction as part of it, you know. 
-- He has the power to kill and bomb, but he doesn't have the power to build [ ... ] and that's the power that's necessary for life. He has all the negative power, but the negative power is like absence of power, you know what I mean, it's an illusion. It's the ability to kill, but killing isn't building [ ... ], killing is not a constructive thing. 
-- I think that it's a thing that you can be tricked into believing: I think that you can be tricked into believing [what the president has] is all-powerful, but I think really, it's a futile, small thing, and that it's disappearing, it's going away; that's all I can say. If you're [asking about it], if you read the paper, if you watch television, if you listen to news, what you get is negative. What you get is death, war, riots, unpleasantness. I think that if you tune yourself away from that, that it's possible for you to rediscover what it is that's positive about being alive, and I think that positive is a thing that's essential for survival. It's like the more that we believe in the negative reality, [we'll make it real]. [ ... ] Don't play the game. The game is nonexistent, it's only as strong as the people who are willing to let themselves be slaves to it. Dig?

* * * 

[Here is the original French text of the article. Unfortunately I had to transcribe it without the accent marks, so this will look odd to French readers, as well as leaving the meaning unclear in spots. There are probably typos as well.] 

LA DANSE DU DEAD 

Personne n'y croyait. On pretendait meme que tous seraient la, excepte le Dead. Pensez-donc! Dix-huit personnes, quatre tonnes et demi de materiel, le tout a faire venir et a faire retourner a San Francisco, pour un festival curieusement emmanche!... Ils no sont pas fous, les Americains. Pas fous, les gens du Grateful Dead. Ils ne se deplacent pas pour rien. A cote des milliers de dollars du Fillmore, l'enthousiasme gratuit de Jean Bouquin ne devait que les faire doucement sourire... Tel est le genre de propos qui circulerent, pendant une bonne semaine, dans les milieux generalement bien informes.
J'ai encore ete heureusement inspire de faire un tour dans cette boite a la mode, le vendredi soir, a l'heure ou quelques milliers d'entre vous pataugeaient tristement dans la boue d'Auvers-sur-Oise. Tres inspire, aussi, merci, de laisser trainer mes oreilles et entendre ainsi l'autre dire qu'il avait vu de ses yeux vu le Grateful Dead au chateau de Michel Magne, l'apres-midi meme. Curieux, cependant, de constater que les gens auxquels il s'adressait reagissaient si mollement, consentant a peine a manifester leur interet par un haussement de sourcils ou un commentaire. Quand on sait qu'il s'agissait en l'occurence de musiciens francais, on reste confondu de voir que pas un ne fit le moindre effort, pas un (sauf Coeur Magique et Tribu) ne fit les quarante kilometres qui le separait du Grateful Dead et de la bonne et profitable lecon. Peut-etre ne connaissaient-ils pas le Dead, d'ailleurs? On est bien souvent surpris par l'ignorance dont font preuve les musiciens pop en matiere de musique pop... Je dois etre un peu naif en pestant que quiconque, sachant CE QU'EST LE GRATEFUL DEAD, n'hesitera pas une seconde a poser son scotch ou remettre a la hate son pantalon pour aller voir ce groupe, l'ecouter, tenter de comprendre pourquoi ces personnages aux allures tranquilles sont devenus des musiciens hors du common.
Tenter de comprendre pourquoi on dit souvent que, sur scene, le Grateful Dead est le meilleur groupe du monde.
Les gens sont curieux...

Pres de la piscine

C'etait bien la première fois que l'on se heurtait à une porte close au château de Michel Magne. Le premiere fois, aussi, que des gendarmes faisaient montrer patte blanche aux visiteurs. Je me suis alors amplement felicite, encore oui, d'avoir averti de mon arrivee le maitre de ceans. Le veille, il pleuvait: ce jour-la, il faisait bien entendu un temps splendide. Le soleil jouait drolement avec les galons des kepis, peut-etre est-ce pour cela que je n'ai pas reconnu en ces gendarmes les freres des flics qui, par dizaines de centaines, encombrent les trottoirs des boulevards Saint-Germain et Saint-Michel, tous les soirs, mousqueton a l'epaule, vous flanquent tellement les moules que vous grillez un ou deux feux rouges (imaginons, un instant, le Dead donnant un concert dans ce quartier). Tout ca n'a bien entendu rien a faire dans une revue de pop music, et d'ailleurs, c'est ecrit tous les matins dans le Figaro qui, comme nous, vous dit: il faut le voir pour le croire, et vous ne nous croyez pas, la-bas, qui etes en train de lire ces lignes, qui ne venez que deux dois par an dans la spendide Kapitale! Fin de parenthese. Le portail referme, j'ai eu l'impression qu'une foule enorme grouillait dans la propriete; en fait, les quelques dizaines de chevelus s'agitaient tellement en tous sens qu'ils se multipliaient par dix. Les membres de la troupe du Dead, on les reperait de loin, mais pour ce qui etait de reconnaitre les musiciens euxmemes, que l'on a bien peu vu photographies dans les revues pop du monde entier, la tache s'averait ardue. Pourtant, celui qui fait passer le col de sa chemise par-dessus celui de son pull-over, vous regarde (yeux bleu-gris-acier-glace) au travers de lunettes cerclees d'or, c'est Phil Lesh, le bassist du Dead. Ses cheveux sont aussi courts qu'a l'armee, et personne ne l'embete, on pense qu'il est etudiant, ou habitant du chateau... Mais il est hors de question que ce soit vraiment LUI, assis sur ce banc, pres de la piscine! Patrice Blanc-Francard, entre deux parties de tennis, m'assure que ce type maigre, au crane un peu degarni, qui regarde tout, sans dire un mot, est effectivement et absolument Jerry Garcia. Pause. J'ai vu "Woodstock," moi, monsieur, et je puis vous assurer que ce mec n'est pas Jerry Garcia. Re-pause. Mais comme je suis tres conscient de la superiorite de Blanc-Francard, je me convainc que ce monsieur est effectivement Garcia, l'homme aux doigts de fee et a la parole d'or... Et de tourner autour, comment l'aborder, car je suis venu pour ca, en grande partie, et je le croyais plus accueillant... "Euh! ... je te signale que le VRAI Jerry Garcia est dans la cuisine, en train de manger un sandwich," m'avouera quelques minutes plus tard l'escogriffe no.1 de Pop 2 (lui apprendrai-je ici que ce personnage confondu avec Garcia n'etait autre que Robert Hunter, le responsable de 90% des paroles des chansons du Dead?).
Pas de doute cette fois-ci. La barbe, les lunettes rondes, les quatre-vingt-sept kilos, les cheveux en broussaille, et ces yeux extraordinairement vifs, tout est la, y compris le large sourire accueillant. Cet homme est un veritable aimant. Il parle, ne dit que des choses passionnantes, ou qu'il rend passionnantes. Il semble tout comprendre, peut parler de tout, tout expliquer. Une intelligence brillante, mais, surtout, un esprit clair. Je me suis servi un saucisson sec-beurre et un verre de rouge, et j'ai ecoute, incapable de m'arracher a cette cuisine. Il discute avec un Anglais de chez Kinney, sa maison de disques, et tous deux sortent (sans doute dire des choses que je n'aurais pas eu le droit d'ecrire?). D'ailleurs, les autres musiciens arrivent, tout juste eveilles, et j'ai la satisfaction de les reconnaitre. Pig Pen (de son vrai nom, Ron McKernan), que j'ai toujours vu avec cet incroyable chapeau pointu, Bob Weir (qui sait tres bien qu'il est beau, comme dirait Dister), Bill Kreutzman, le batteur, auquel ne manque qu'un chapeau de paille pour devenir un jardinier a succes.

Vas-y, petit!

Rien qu'a les voir, l'on sent, l'on voit que les Dead, c'est la classe au-dessus. Ce calme et cette decontraction ne trompent pas, c'est le lot des grands seigneurs; et il aurait ete bien decevant que le Dead ressemblat a cet autre groupe, anglais, heberge au chateau pendant la duree presumee du festival. Les gens du Grateful Dead n'ont rien de commun avec ces musiciens en "tournee promotionnelle" qui font des sourires a tout un chacun, attendant impatiemment l'occasion de donner une interview. Ils n'aiment pas etre accroches, non plus, par un inconnu qui viendrait dans le seul et unique but de faire un papier ou une photo. Il faut etre avec eux, si l'on sent que cela ne les gene pas, faire en sorte que le contact s'effectue naturellement. Il m'a bien semble voir Garcia - le plus abordable de tous - repondre un peu sechement a plusiers personnes qui lui cassaient les pieds pendant l'entracte du concert, le lundi.
Au diner (50 personnes), les Blanc-Francard Brothers (Patrice et Dominique, ingenieur du son a Herouville) grimacerent, me jeterent des sorts; Garcia, pas loin, mangea, rit; Lesh gouta le gigot de chaque table. Les Anglais, eux, le nez dans leur assiette, parlaient amplis, musique, chorus, morceaux, de l'Angleterre, des mauvais groupes (les autres), du boeuf qu'ils voulaient a tout prix faire avec le Dead, tout a l'heure, la-haut dans le studio. Ces Anglais-la se nomment Busbastis et ils ont ete regroupes pas Geoff Nicholson, ex-guitariste d'East of Eden. Ils avaient a peine avale leur derniere cerise qu'ils se precipitaient sur leur materiel et le montaient, l'installaient, s'accordaient. Ils etaient fin prets, alors que l'equipement du Dead n'avait toujours pas quitte le camion et que les interesses se dispersaient dans la nature parfumee. Un peu plus tard, c'est tout juste si Nicholson laissait a Garcia le temps de s'accorder ou de regler son miniscule ampli Fender Special Studio. Il sortait de son enorme Marshall des cascades de notes claironnantes qui submergeaient tout, sauf le saxophoniste "a tendance free" de Busbastis, tres desireux de se faire entendre coute que coute. Il y parvint, helas. Bob Weir, le guitarist rhythmique du Dead, reussit tant bien que mal a placer ca et la quelques accords; Garcia tenta plusieurs fois de jouer. Las! Des que son solo s'elancait, des qu'il se degageait de cette rhythmique brinquebalante (Bill Kreutzman, entrant dans le studio et s'adressant au batteur: "Vas-y petit, continue, une-deux, une-deux. Parfait. EN RHYTHME MAINTENANT!"), l'autre arrivait, avec son boucan, et Garcia s'arretait, pensant que son ampli etait subitement tombe en panne. Ce petit jeu dura une heure, une heure que les road managers mirent a profit pour installer petit a petit la quasi-totalite du materiel du Dead. Garcia posa sa guitare, sans doute vaincu par le bruit: nos regards se croiserent a ce moment et sa mimique ne laissait aucune equivoque quant aux motifs de cet abandon. Et qu'on ne vienne pas me dire qu'un bon musicien doit pouvoir jouer avec n'importe qui! En bas, Kreutzman dressait ses cymbales et tendait ses peaux. Dehors, il faisait doux... Lorsqu'un peu plus tard, remontant au studio, je croisai Nicholson dans l'escalier, je pensai que cette musique que l'on entendait vaguement avait un son completement different de celle de l'heure d'avant. A voir la tete des deux Busbastis, je me dis que, pour eux, les rejouissances semblaient terminees, que ce son, je le connaissais bien... Garcia ne se trouvait plus a la meme place. Il etait la, au milieu du studio, assis, tout comme Lesh et Weir...et Kreutzman, tout a cote...et Pig Pen, sur la gauche, derriere l'orgue. Un autre coup d'oeil, pour verifier qu'aucun Busbastis ne souillait la place...ce que j'entendais, voyais... ENFIN LE DEAD! ENFIN IL JOUAIT ET CHANTAIT, ENFIN!!!

Blues serein

Jadis, ils se nommaient les Warlocks; nom bien faible en regard de Jefferson Airplane ou de Quicksilver, par exemple, qui, eux, symbolisaient en un mot la magie de San Francisco. Garcia jouait alors de la guitare depuis quelques annees, un instrument qu'il avait pourtant abandonne pendant deux ans au profit au banjo. Etudiant en musique, Jerry Garcia a en effet travaille autant la musique country que le rock'n'roll, delaissant assez tard la guitare acoustique au profit de l'electrique. Depuis longtemps il connaissait Pig Pen, et tous ceux qui allaient devenir le Grateful Dead. Il avait une grande admiration envers Lesh, lequel ne jouait pas de la basse a l'epoque, mais enseignait a de jeunes gens l'art de se servir d'une trompette, d'un tuba ou d'un saxophone. Desirant jouer avec le Dead, Lesh decida d'apprendre la basse; deux mois plus tard, il se produisait pour la premiere fois en public. Il y a des gens comme ca. Si un jour quelqu'un fait un papier sur les bassistes, j'espere que Lesh ne sera pas oublie au profit d'un Anglais falot qui swinguerait comme un fer a repasser.  Lesh swingue comme personne, excepte Casady (J.A.), peutetre. Tous deux ont ete influences par les bassistes de Tamla Motown: ils jouent bien "a fond" sur les temps, relevant ainsi le rythme, lui donnant un nouvel elan, comme les cretes des vagues qui montent, montent, et font se creuser l'eau qui roule et prend son essor. Lesh et Casady font cependant preuve de superiorite en utilisant abondamment les harmoniques; d'ou cette appellation de "bassistes solistes", employee maintenant dans un sens pejoratif, du fait de certains abus de la part d'instrumentistes qui auraient sans doute du se contenter d'un sage toumtoum. Lesh, comme Garcia, comme le Dead, a trouve son style tres rapidement; comme en temoigne le premier disque du groupe, "San Francisco's Grateful Dead" (sera-t-il edite un jour en France?). Leur musique d'aujourd'hui est tres proche de celle qu'ils faisaient voice quatre ans. Le "Morning Dew" qu'ils interpreterent le lundi, sur la pelouse, en est une preuve incontestable. Surtout que, numeriquement, la formation est revenue a son point de depart, apres que Tom Constanten soit parti, et que Pig Pen ait un role de moins en moins important: le blues est devenu plus serein, plus country, apres l'epoque esoterique de "Anthem of the Sun" et "Aoxomoxoa", respectivement les second et troisieme LP du groupe. Pour qui ne le connaissait pas, pour que n'avait la possibilite de le decouvrir que par la voie des disques, le Dead etait, a cette epoque (68-69), pratiquement inaccesible. Les oreilles habituees aux Cream du moment devaient se faire violence pour comprendre "What's become of the baby" ("Aoxomoxoa"), ou la musique et les voix derapent dans des glissades feulantes. Musique alchimique, dont est en grande partie responsable Tom Constanten qui a la passion des bandes magnetiques et des sons trafiques, musique spatiale a laquelle le grand public pop ne se fera jamais. D'autant plus que les pressages francais de ces disques n'avantagent guere l'ecoute. Sur ces deux albums, cependant, on devine les principales caracteristiques du Grateful Dead "live", sans bandes pre-enrigistrees, surtout preoccupe par le fait de faire plaisir aux freaks et de favoriser leur defonce. Quand elle joue, la section rythmique est exuberante, et les solos de Garcia montent doucement, tres haut, tres clair ("Alligator"). D'ailleurs, "Live Dead" sort bientot, qui confirme que le groupe, en public, ressemble pue a celui qui fabrique des disques. Les morceaux depassent volontiers les dix minutes, le son est nettement plus clair, plus pure est la guitare de Garcia. "Live Dead" est le tournant dans la carriere du Dead, qui, apres s'etre produit dans tous les endroits possibles, le plus souvent gratuitement, se faisant connaitre et estimer, a la satisfaction de voir que sa musique se vend bien. Et puis, vient "Workingman's Dead". Si l'on avait fait un petit "Questions 71", a Rock & Folk, au moins deux personnes auraient cite "WD" parmi les trois meilleurs disques de l'an passe.

Les villageois dansent

Mieux! Bien peu de disques sortis depuis lors sont aussi bons, aussi passionnants que celui-ci. Pas un, de toute facon, n'est aussi important. Merveilleux Grateful Dead, merveilleux groupe celui que propose pendant trente-cinq minutes une succession de miracles musicaux. Car equilibrer un tel dosage de blues, de country, de rock...et d'acid tient rellement du miracle. Avec "Workingman's Dead", le Dead est devenu un groupe capital pour les Estats-Unis. Il est le seul a pouvoir jouer aussi bien le blues, le rock et le Country & Western, qui sont des genres typiquement americains. Le Dead n'est pas un groupe de rock (il peut l'etre) plus un groupe de blues, pas plus qu'un Jug Band. Il est tout cela a la fois, et la musique de "W.D." est egaiement tout cela. Ecoutez la perfection de l'harmonie de ces trois ou quatre voix (Garcia, Lesh, Weir et Pig Pen), un peu etranglees, presque enfantines parfois, tellement ensemble ("Uncle John's Band"), en accord avec l'accompagnement, que la musique n'est qu'une vibration modulee. Ecoutez, aussi, l'aisance rythmique et la spontaneite de ce chef-d'oeuvre qu'est "New Speedway Boogie"... En fait, toutes les chansons de ce disque sont d'authentiques chefs-d'oeuvre, et si vous ne le possedez pas, vous ne pourrez jamais comprendre ce qui s'est passe a Herouville, au cours de ce concert gratuit donne devant et pour deux cents personnes. Deux cents personnes dont les 7/8 n'avaient jamais entendu parler du Grateful Dead... Cent soixante-quinze habitants d'un village qui doit tout au plus en compter mille. Des le premiere note, tous se sont dresses, et ont danse. Ils danserent pendant environ deux heures, riant de plaisir, criant leur joie, sans le forcer le moins du monde. S'ils avaient su les paroles, ils les auraient chantees! J'ai vu les parents de ces enfants s'etonner de prendre du plaisir a ecouter, a vivre cette musique, eux qui, au depart, n'etaient peur-etre venus que pour voir les hippies, faire plaisir au mome, excites a la pensee de voir les gens du chateau, alleches par la promesse de boire et manger a satiete. Car Michel Magne fait bien les choses. On aurait sans doute pu remplir un bonne partie de la piscine avec la champagne bu ce soir la, et faire quelques kilos de colle avec les os des poulets. L'espace d'un instant, il dut avoir un peu mal au coeur, Michel Magne, de voir que les gens se precipitaient dans la piscine sans prendre le temps de se deshabiller. Mais il n'intervint pas, foncierement heureux et satisfait de la fete qui prolongeait gaiement un festival avorte. Le Dead jouait. Je me souviens de "Morning Dew", d'un fabuleux "Casey Jones", avec le chorus final repete a l'infini, de "High Time", de "Black Peter", de "That's it for the other one", et d'autres, dont j'ai oublie les titres, ou surtout beaucoup de chansons que ne connaissais pas. Le Dead a environ deux cents titres a son repertoire (Lesh dixit), lui qui joue des nuits entieres sans presque jamais s'arreter. Les morceaux sont allonges, grace a l'improvisation collective dirigee par Garcia, lequel ne regarde que rarement ou ses doigts se posent. Il sourit a la foule, et ses yeux suivent les danseurs. Mais il est si profondement au coeur de la musique qu'il ne les voit peut-etre pas vraiment. Il choisit les sons, sur le manche de son instrument, que l'on ne remarque plus, lui-meme semble si peu s'en soucier, objet dont le maniement ne lui pose plus aucun probleme. L'aisance, encore une fois, et une imagination ahurissante. Jamais Garcia n'ennuie, et pourtant, il joue longtemps, tres longtemps, tres souvent. D'autres se feraient siffler, lui captive l'auditeur et ne le lasse jamais. Il demeure quoiqu'il arrive un modele de gout, d'elegance et de fraicheur... Lesh grimace, rit nerveusement, preoccupe par le son de sa basse dont les frequences dessinent une courbe verdatre sur un ecran pose sur l'ampli (j'ai oublie le nom de cet engin). Weir place ses accords dans l'espace que lui suggerent Lesh et Kreutzman, Pigpen pianote, disparait, souffle dans son harmonica. Ou bien, tout a coup, la voix que l'on entend n'est plus celle de Garcia, mais la sienne, la, a gauche. Et les gens dansent toujours, dansent toujours, infatigables, impatients lorsque les musiciens s'arretent et prennent quelques secondes pour choisir le prochain morceau. Pop 2 et Claude Ventura filment sans arret, les ingenieurs du son des studios Alembic, qui suivent toujours de Dead, enrigistrent, ainsi que Dominique Blanc Francard qui inaugure l'equipement 16 pistes du studio mobile du chateau. "Cette fois," me dit son frere "nous aurons un bon son pour Pop 2: nous nous sommes branches au cul du 16 pistes!" (et il repart gambader dans l'herbe, porte par la guitare de Garcia). Ma garden party preferee s'acheve avec un autre groupe de San Francisco, lequel joue une musique "abstraite" (et si je veux dire abstraite, moi) a partir des mouvements de couleurs qu'un light-show invente devant lui. Du moins, c'est ce qu'ils pretendent, que le light-show leur est indispensable pour creer cette musique stridents, electronique a outrance, traversee de cris percants. Certaines de ces sonorites ont failli endommager les colonnes de la sono du Dead, dont ils utilisaient l'equipement; j'ai rarement vu des basses frequences faire a ce point vibrer le gazon.

Nous reviendrons

A deux heures du matin, certains cherchent desesperement une cuisse de poulet ou un verre de quelque chose. L'air se rafraichit traitreusement, et, a travers la vapeur que degage l'eau chaufee de la piscine, on apercoit les baigneurs se serrer autour d'un feu et tenter de secher leurs vetements trempes. Les pompiers, invites, et ravis de l'etre, cessent de danser, cessent de pietiner leur kepi (c'est arrive...dans le feu de l'action). A l'interieur, chevelus en tunique et gendarmes col ouvert discutent, verre en main.
Dehors, j'ai retrouve Garcia qui conversait avec son sonorisateur. Causerie dans la nuit noire, la lumiere du light-show perdait de son intensite.
Comment estimez-vous avoir joue, ce soir? Il est tres difficile, pour nous, de nous en rendre compte. Je sais que tout le monde a trouve cela formidable, moi le premier, mais je vous ai vu, tout a l'heure, vous n'aviez pas l'air entierement satisfait.
Non, en fait, je suis tres heureux. J'avais quelques inquietudes parce que nous ne jouions pas sur une vraie scene et je ne me rendais pas tres bien compte du son que nous avions. Mais on m'a dit que tout etait OK. Vraiment, je suis tres heureux, et les autres aussi; je crois que nous avons fait de la bonne musique. Mais je n'attendais absolument pas une reaction aussi enthousiaste de la part de gens qui ne nous connaissaient pas, qui ne connaissent meme pas la rock music. Les voir danser ainsi, cela nous a fait un immense plaisir. Je crois que nous les avons rendus heureux, nous les avons surpris, je ne pouvais penser obtenir un tel resultat. Vraiment. Ce qui me fait tres plaisir, c'est de voir que la reaction des gens est partout la meme, aux States comme en France. Ce qui me fait plaisir, c'est de voir que le Grateful Dead peut plaire autant ici que la-bas. Pour cela, nous reviendrons.
Comment se fait-il que vous ayez ainsi accepte de venir jouer gratuitement a ce festival?
Eh bien, il y a tres longtemps que nous avions envie de venir jouer en France, tres longtemps. C'est un pays qui semble fascinant, vu de l'Amerique (non non, il ne plaisantait pas), et ce qui l'est plus, c'est de voir que c'est vrai, que Paris, la France, ici (grand geste ample en l'air), c'est reellement fantastique... On nous a donc contactes; on nous payait le voyage, nous sommes venus. D'autant plus qu'il s'agissait d'un festival gratuit, ce que nous preferons. Je prefere en effet donner des concerts gratuits. Lorsqu'il faut payer, ca pose toujours des problemes, et ca se termina souvent tres mal. Le Grateful Dead est en ce moment en train de devenir extraordinairement populaire, aux Etats-Unis, c'est vrai, hein, je ne voudrais pas avoir l'air de... A chaque fois que nous jouons, dans un club, dans un endroit quelconque, il y a toujours des milliers de gens qui viennent, et beaucoup ne peuvent entrer, soit parce que les places sont toutes louees, soit parce qu'ils n'ont pas d'argent pour payer. On leur refuse donc l'entree, les flics de l'endroit les repoussent, ce qui provoque bien souvent une bagarre et des mauvaises vibrations...et nous jouons mal, car nous sommes tres sensibles au climat qui regne la ou nous devons jouer.

La famille

Lorsque vous etes restes des semaines entieres au Fillmore, vous etiez payes?
Bien sur. Mais pas tellement. C'est nous memes qui avons demande a jouer pendant des semaines entieres, tous les soirs, justement pour eviter que trop de personnes se deplacent en une seule fois. Vous comprenez ce que je dis? Le Fillmore etait plein tous les soirs, mais il n'a jamais ete bourre a craquer et il n'y a eu aucun incident. D'ailleurs, il n'y a pas qu'au Fillmore que nous avons ainsi procede.
Si vous revenez en France, pouvez-vous me dire comment vous envisageriez vos concerts?
Vous savez, nous voulons revenir. Peut-etre en compagnie des New Riders (of the Purple Sage) et du Jefferson Airplane, je ne sais pas. Je pense que de toute facon, nous ferions dans ce cas une tournee en France. Des petits concerts, gratuits si possible, un peu partout. Pas de gros trucs, avec grosse - (suite page 73)

(Jacques Chabiron) 

Thanks to jgmf.blogspot.com