May 15, 2017

March 11, 1968: Memorial Auditorium, Sacramento, CA

CREAM CONCERT

CREAM should have convinced everybody within listening distance that they are, without any doubt, the finest in the rock idiom. For the very first time in Sacramento's rock concert history, the audience was courteous as well as appreciative.
Ginger Baker's "Toad" solo was inspired as he was encouraged by the very aware audience. Every complicated passage in his improvisations met with an ovation. Of the three times I have seen CREAM in concert, this was the best solo by Baker.
The songs played were of varying origins. Some were unreleased as yet, and others came from either "Fresh Cream" or "Disraeli Gears." "Tales of Brave Ulysseus," "N.S.U.," "Sunshine Of Your Love," "Sittin' On Top Of The World," and the medley of "Steppin' Out" (solo by Clapton), "Train Comin'" (harmonica solo by Bruce), and "Toad."
The policemen deserve a round of applause for their deplorable treatment of the musicians. Baker's sarcastic comment, "We love your police," was an indication of the obviously disrespectful attitude that usually pervades the cops' conduct. As the musicians were filing out of the back door of the auditorium, I heard the comments of the security police, for instance: "Hi, Sweetie" and "Take a bath." And they complain about the kids being badly behaved. I suggest that our lovable men in blue learn a few manners!!
The GRATEFUL DEAD were surprisingly good. The two drummers came up with a counter play that developed into an Afro-Cuban rhythm. The songs they played remained unnamed, but all six members of the group performed admirably. This is the first concert in Sacramento that even faintly resembled a Fillmore happening.
Both of the rock groups received standing ovations. The concert was a huge success. Aside from the ignorance and rudeness of the police, everyone who was there could feel the goodwill towards everyone. It was the first beautiful happening in our city.

(by Mick Martin, from the Pony Express, Sacramento, 15 March 1968) 

No tape, alas!
See also:
http://lostlivedead.blogspot.com/2016/03/march-11-1968-civic-auditorium.html
http://deadessays.blogspot.com/2010/03/cream-and-dead.html

* * *

(Here is another Cream review by the same author, seven months later.)

OF CREAM AND CONCERTS

The last two weeks were brim-full of superlative concerts by some of the best well-known and unknown rock groups. Anyone with a fast car could have caught them all and, as an afterthought, should have. Many once-in-a-lifetime rock milestones were happening; I will try to acquaint you with them.

Best of the lot was the really enjoyable CREAM concert at the Oakland Coliseum. [October 4] After listening to four other CREAM concerts, I was ready to be hyper-critical of what they played. I couldn't be. As the rest of the capacity crowd, I was aware that three musicians were spontaneously creating on stage and listened appropriately.
The songs played included tracks from their three album releases: "White Room"; "Politician"; "Deserted Cities Of The Heart"; "Crossroads"; "Spoonful"; "Toad"; "Sunshine Of Your Love"; and "I'm So Glad."
The introduction and conclusion to "Toad," which involved all three artists, was terribly sloppy. The solo was not the best I have heard by Ginger Baker, but it was adequate. "White Room" and "Politician" were earmarked by fine solo passages.
"Spoonful," more than ever before, was the best tune. It was inspiring to hear the interaction between Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, and Baker. They go into some very pleasing variations. Musically it was exciting to try to follow them simultaneously through the individual and collective improvisions.
[The opening bands:]  The COLLECTORS were fair. At times I felt they were almost into it, but their attitude was all too unsure and they didn't make me want to listen. IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY, on the other hand, was captivating and polished both at this concert and at the Fillmore West the week before. The violinist is a true craftsman; his emotions are easily felt through his music. The rest of the group makes statements that are just as effective. I can see considerable success here.

SUPER SESSION featured an added treat. [Fillmore West, 9/28/68] Mike Bloomfield was hospitalized; so, on Saturday night, Carlos Santanna and Steve Miller jammed with Al Kooper and his sidemen. Miller was poor; he wouldn't get into it. Santanna, on the other hand, was creative and positively engrossing. The interaction between Kooper and Santanna was very pleasing. It's going to be a nice LP. (They were recording live.)

In Sacramento, The GRATEFUL DEAD, TURTLES, YOUNGBLOODS, INITIAL SHOCK, SANPAKU, and FAMILY TREE played to a surprisingly small crowd of 2,000. [Memorial Auditorium, 10/5/68] The TURTLES were funny and entertaining. They were a release from the intensely musically innovative atmosphere. Mark Volmann is a comedian, in the truest sense of the word.
The DEAD, INITIAL SHOCK, and SANPAKU were the musical highpoints of the evening. SANPAKU's hornmen are so beautiful, their solos are always different, and yet they build to a completely emotional climax. Their original material is well arranged and worth repeated listens.
INITIAL SHOCK and the DEAD were better than ever and twice as groovy. Both groups always provide me with the feeling that I have heard something worthwhile, and on this night I felt they did exceptional jobs. YOUNGBLOODS were nice, and FAMILY TREE shows promise. It was an enjoyable evening, but I can't wait for Sacramento to get it together and support promoters like Whitey Davis, who really cares about music.

(by Mick Martin, from the Pony Express, 10 October 1968)

May 12, 2017

November 29-30, 1968: Hyde Park Teen Center, Cincinnati OH

THE GRATEFUL DEAD COMING – TO BREAK UP

To the Editor: 
This year the Hyde Park-Mt. Lookout Teen Center will attempt an unprecedented program of live entertainment for all teens in the area. As you know, we brought The Vanilla Fudge to Cincinnati recently, and on November 30 we will present The Grateful Dead in two public concerts. Later on we hope to bring other nationally-known groups to town. This will probably be the last midwest concert for the group, since they are breaking up in December. 
When our Teen Center first opened there was some criticism that all area teens could not take part. But everyone is welcome to attend these concerts. The two shows on November 30 are scheduled for 7:30 and 10 p. m. Tickets are $3.50 per person, and can be purchased in advance at the Center, 2753 Erie Avenue in Hyde Park. Since people were turned away at The Vanilla Fudge concert, we suggest concert goers buy their tickets ahead of time, for guaranteed admittance. 
On November 29 we will sponsor two concerts by The Grateful Dead for members and their guests. 
Sincerely, 
D. J. Weber 
Hyde Park-Mt. Lookout Teen Center

(from the letters to the editor, Cincinnati Enquirer, 9 November 1968) 
https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/100723425/ 

*

GREATFUL DEAD CONCERT CAPTURES ‘PARTICIPATION’

Hair and lights were all over the place last Friday and Saturday at the Hyde Park-Mt. Lookout Teen Center, as the Greatful Dead oozed above ground to do their thing.
The concert was one of those truly sensational things that hardly ever happens – but when it does, it’s an experience to be remembered.
Having had time to think, I analysed what it takes to make such a concert – what has to be there before the magic takes over.
I found there were many unique things going together to make the show a great one.
First of all, there was the geography of the teen council building itself. It’s small. So small in fact, that you can’t even call it dinky – you have to say it’s intimate.
Intimate surroundings are very conducive to a good rock show.
Of course there were no chairs. People just sat cross-legged on the floor like oriental meditators.
Then there’s the light show. A color wheel cast its projections on the wall behind the stage and shadows of light passed over the attentive group as pinpoints of color periodically burst above the crowd.
As the group plays, the lights keep a strange sort of time with the music – sometimes right in time, and sometimes so vastly dissonant that some sort of “theory of polarities” seems to be operating.
Of course there’s the group itself. They come on all smiles, chattering with the audience, tuning their instruments and just being ugly. Beautiful!
Their sound is something else again too. The Greatful Dead is a large group – three guitars, two sets of drums, two keyboards and a horn.
And their sound is everywhere. It fills every corner of the hall, but isn’t painfully deafening (as one might think in such cramped quarters); it vibrates every floorboard, but is never oppressive.
This is the kind of show the Dead like best. One where people don’t just sit like statues and listen because they paid $3 for a ticket, but one where people sit on the floor, dance, and in general “experience” the music.
Because you can feel the vibration of every drumbeat, because your eardrum feels the reverberation of every guitar scream, because every progression on the keyboard rattles your brain, because every swirl of light covers yours and the performer’s face and captures your eyes, because everyone is so close together and so near the stage, because everyone is lorded over by some huge communal over-soul, you don’t watch a Grateful Dead concert, you participate.
Yes, it’s all of these things which work together to achieve the final effect – that Greatful Dead charisma.
It is also these very same things which work together to make a great concert, and which also help to make rock music one of the most exciting, alive and ever-explosive fields on the horizon today. 

(by Jim Knippenberg, from the Cincinnati Enquirer, 7 December 1968) 


*


BOB HAS A LOST WEEKEND – OR THE INTERVIEW THAT NEVER WAS

(Editor's Note: Last weekend Teen-Ager reporter Bob Buten was sent to the Hyde Park - Mt. Lookout Teen Center to hear and interview The Greatful Dead. Due to too many unusual circumstances, the interview didn't come off. But Bob put in so many hours at the place just trying to meet them, he felt some sort of story was in order. It follows.)

I left my house about 6:30 p.m. last Friday night to get to a concert at the Hyde Park-Mt. Lookout Teen Center which was to start at 8 p.m. You see, I live in Fort Thomas, Kentucky and knew I would be lost for the first hour, so I left early.
I was surprised to find myself at the Center a half-hour early! I met Jim Knippenberg, the Teen-Ager music columnist, outside and we talked for awhile about how he was going to rip O. C. Smith up in his next column. As we stood in the cold I told Jim what a nice guy O. C. Smith really was, once you get to know him. I don't know why I said that because I dont really know who O. C. Smith is.
When the Center doors finally opened I got inside, but I didn't stay there long. I was quickly booted out as a freeloader. After unsuccessfully trying to prove my identity as a Teen-Ager reporter to five or six unbelievers, I went back to my car and found it parked in by a bunch of other cars! Soon the Cincinnati Police came to my rescue and moved the cars so I could leave.
Now Saturday I was supposed to actually interview the Greatful Dead, because the director of the Center heard how I was asked to leave Friday night. He had it all set up for 1:30 p.m. But guess what? The group didn't show up until 5 p.m.!
During those long hours of waiting at the Center I did get to browse around and meet some of the members. The place is really great! I wish there was something just like it in Fort Thomas!
Since the interview didn't come off again I was given a ticket for the Saturday night concert. After another long drive I came back to Hyde Park and waited until 10 p.m. for the concert to start. The Greatful Dead came on around 11 p.m., and played three tremendous songs. While they played some guy with long hair tossed daisies into the crowd and got a lot of people excited. There was also a fabulous light show, when combined with the music, seemed to shake the building!
After the concert was over the whole group went downstairs and ate fruit. It looked so good I had a few pieces myself.
Would you believe I finally got to one of the Greatful Dead guys and I asked him what he was supposed to do while his buddies played their instruments. (You see, he just stood on the stage and jumped around with a mike that wasn't plugged in, so I was curious.) I didn't get much of an answer, but he seemed like a pretty cool guy. Soon they all disappeared, one by one, until there wasn't anyone left in the room. So I left, too.
Some interview! 

(by Bob Buten, from the Cincinnati Enquirer, 7 December 1968) 


Alas, no tape! 
See also: 

Apr 27, 2017

3/21/70 Capitol Theater, Port Chester NY

GRATEFUL...DEAD...GRATEFUL...DEAD

After our performance on Sat. night, a few Pageant Players went up to Portchester to catch the Grateful Dead doing a late show at Howard Stein's Capitol Theater. We got in free since someone in the group knew someone on the inside. The Grateful Dead are generally considered to be one of the grooviest rock groups, in terms of the cultural revolution: the most political, the most freaky, doing free shows whenever they can, supporting communes, doing a more relaxed kind of jamming show, rather than a slick series of arranged numbers. And they're really great musicians. They were my favorite American group. I hadn't seen them perform for over a year, and was looking forward to it when we went up there. But in the back of my head, I was wondering how I would respond to them now that I have a much more complete consciousness of women's liberation, and a strong awareness of how Male the whole rock scene is.
We came in just as a Busby Berkeley film was ending. The Grateful Dead were to go on next. And the crowd was hollering for them. I thought I was imagining things, but the atmosphere seemed hysterical, more than I've ever seen at a rock concert. I found out later that the Dead the night before had given the audience free acid, and this crowd wanted the same. The Dead came on, and opened up with a few fast numbers. The audience, or a large part of it anyway, was up on its feet shouting, dancing, screaming, waving. That was beautiful. It was a nice change from the usual stoned stupor of rock concerts. But the audience was so high strung and crazy that they couldn't wait for the Dead to tune their instruments in between numbers. They would start hooting and screaming. Then someone from the Dead gave the finger to the audience, and this started the playful hostility which continued all evening between the audience and the Grateful Dead, and between the audience members themselves. It reminded me a bit of a nightclub, with the hostile drunks yelling comments at the performers. I did feel that the energy of the audience had nowhere to go in that theater, with all the seats. It was very frustrating to try to dance, and let loose, and you began to feel like a caged animal.
I felt sorry for the Grateful Dead at different moments, having to contend with a bunch of nuts everytime they tried to tune up. But, then I thought, they agree to play at those theaters, they agree to play for those prices, they agree to play under those blue lights, that go off completely in between each number, And the audience is in darkness the whole time, so you can't possible relate to anyone near you, only the STARS on stage.
Jerry Garcia and Phil Lesh did some beautiful blues, spiritual numbers on acoustic guitar. I was digging it. Then on comes Pigpen, and in his mellow lyrical voice sings about Cala May, who some people say is built like a Cadillac, but I know she's just a Model T, by her shape, and she can't take the weight, etc., etc. Something inside me went boom. There I was digging this beautiful voice, beautiful guitar, but with words about some woman's box. And I knew it would happen. I felt pretty sullen for the rest of the concert. I was also getting turned off by the fact that the audience just seemed to be waiting for the hits, like they didn't come to hear great music, great jamming, just the hits, which they were screaming for in between each number. The Grateful Dead just seemed like another commodity.
Everyone flipped out when Pigpen launched into "Turn on Your Love Light." It was what they were waiting for. Pigpen's riffs for that night included a little story about how his baby calls him when she wants him, first softly daddy, then he says yeah, real cool, then louder Daddy, him still cool yeah baby, then she screaming DADDY, and he's still real cool, says yeah baby, yuk, yuk. The predominantly male audience naturally flipped out over this. I flipped out inside.
The men in the Pageant Players who went, said they felt funny themselves about the concert, the songs, etc. In fact, it was my boyfriend, who pointed out to me that the audience was mainly men, and they seemed to be flipping out over the Dead more than the women. Weird atmosphere.
I thought about it all the next day, and realized the whole concert seemed like a hippie stag party.
We all know that the rock scene is male dominated, as are most other areas of creative work. But no other area is so totally male, as music. Has anyone reading this article ever met a woman bass player, a woman electric guitarist, woman drummer? I doubt it. And if you have, it's one or two, and maybe you had to think about it for a few minutes. Women write, paint, do theater, etc. But men make music, and this goes for classical, jazz, rock.
When I was in Brooklyn College majoring in music, I spent many hours around musicians, jazz and classical. And in the last few years, to some extent around rock musicians. And I tell you that musicians incorporate the hangups of straight society regarding men and women, more than men in the other fields. I know there are exceptions. But I found that in general guys who were poets, painters, were much more willing to see women as intellectual creative people, than were musicians, who thrive on a male ego, subservient "chick" relationship, which the whole hippie rock culture reinforces. And the fact that musicians spend so much time together playing music and that they are all men, makes their relationships with women purely sexual. It's exactly like the straight world where the man has his work outside the home, his main interests, outside the home, away from his woman. But he comes home to get fed, get laid, and maybe dig his kids.
I think that rock music has changed a lot of things, released a lot of energy, created some good images for young people, emphasized enjoyment, sensual pleasure, relaxation, freaking out, looking weird, turning on. But I also think as far as the male-female relationship goes, as far as women's liberation goes, and the image a woman should have of herself, it is totally reactionary, and must be changed. A woman can relate to rock music now only if she is a groupie, if not literally, then figuratively. As the drooling sex hungry little girl dying for IT from Pigpen, Jim Morrison, or Peter Townshend. I can't relate to that bullshit.
I don't think music should be asexual either. I think music is communication on a very emotional, sexual level. That's why I've always dug it so much. But sexual not in a male chauvinist context nor narcissistic display. Women and men should be playing in groups together. Women playing the instruments, writing the material. And not just having a "chick" sex object singer, in a male group. There's nothing new about that. But women playing drums, or electric guitar, is somehow very threatening to our images of what is feminine and masculine.
To me the whole image of the rock scene is an image of a mod, "pretty," long-haired, mini-skirted, or bell-bottomed passive, sweet chick, nice enough to be at the side of any strong manly rock musician or business man. Or an image of a braless, long-skirted, sweet, mother earth commune hippie chick. Both of those are distortions. And accepted roles. Just as the aggressive, dominant, creative genius is the role that men play, and what women LOOK UP to. And that's not my revolution, nor any of my sisters'. Women unite. Let's start making music. Revolutionary music.

(by Arlene Brown, from Rat, 4 April 1970)

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

http://seanhowe.tumblr.com/post/159552170872/new-york-city-1970-women-working-at-the

More reviews of 3/21/70:
http://deadsources.blogspot.com/2012/07/march-21-1970-capitol-theater-port.html
http://deadsources.blogspot.com/2014/02/march-21-1970-capitol-theater-port.html
http://deadsources.blogspot.com/2014/03/march-21-1970-capitol-theater-port.html

Apr 7, 2017

Early 1967: Dead Praise

THE GRATEFUL DEAD RISE

I first heard them play over a year ago. After the set I wandered up to the bass player (long blonde hair, blue corduroy pants, a yellow velvet shirt) and asked for the name of the group.
"The Grateful Dead."
"What?"
"The Grateful Dead," he said.
It is amazing what this band can do. In a long while of listening to all the "new rock and roll" groups that have come to and from San Francisco, the Dead is the only one (among about 10 in the world) that set after set, weekend after weekend, grabs me out of my chair every time.
The nucleus of the Grateful Dead was a Peninsula band: Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions.
Three of the current members were in it: Jerry Garcia, 24, lead guitarist; rhythm guitarist Bob Weir, 19, then a junior in high school and from a social Atherton family (the band played for his sister's debutante party this summer); and Ron McKernan, 21.
Ron is better known as "Pig-pen," an affectionate name having something to do with his rather outrageous appearance. "I began singing at 16. I wasn't in school, I was just goofin'. I've always been singing along with records, my dad was a disc jockey, and it's been what I wanted to do."
He has a rich voice which reaches all the inside places of the pains of life. Noted jazz critic Ralph J. Gleason named Pigpen "one of the major bluesmen in America."
Mother McCree's went on for a while until a year and a half ago they decided to do rock and roll. "Rock is more immediate music; it's closer to what's happening in people's heads."
Bill Sommers, 20, from a Stanford football background, had played in about 10 bands until they asked him to join. Although the best drummer in the Bay Area, he had been holding down a fulltime short-hair job. Bass player Phil Lesh, 28, was the last to join.
The Grateful Dead (look the phrase up in Webster's) spent six months "in the woodshed" between Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Vancouver.
"Woodshedding" was working out new material, tightening arrangements, living, suffering and starving together, a process which, like the Beatles in Germany, brings a group so close in their minds and their music that they can make the group sound a greater total than the sum of five individuals.
It will be difficult to capture the spirit and excellence of this group on a record. (They are now with Warner Brothers.) One of the great pleasures of the group is their incredible stage presence. They have fun.
Jerry sings very sadly and quietly, especially on numbers like Dylan's "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue." Pigpen plays the harmonica and organ, both in a style which is best described as alternatingly marauding and mysterious.
Phil and Jerry do most of the writing.
"The lyrics are nonsensical and banal," they explain.
"You just do what you do," Phil says, "and we all kind of fell together. We orbit around a common centre. It is impossible to define but it has something to do with making good music of any kind. That's the Grateful Dead."

(by Jann Werner, from the Ottawa Journal, 5 May 1967)

Thanks to Dave Davis.

Mar 24, 2017

June 22, 1968: Travelodge Theater, Phoenix AZ

VIBRATIONS IN THE VALLEY

There's a worthwhile happening at the Phoenix Travelodge Theater tomorrow night. James C. Pagni of San Diego is bringing in a couple of acts that ought to bring glee to the hearts of all dedicated followers of fashion. The lineup will consist of of San Francisco's pride and joy, the Grateful Dead, England's Ten Years After, and last, if not least, our own Thackeray Rocke.
The Dead are probably the most unappreciated group around these days. While their music has had a tremendous influence on the modern rock scene, their popularity among the pop population has not been a reflection of it. They remain as sort of musician's musicians. A major reason for this may be the Dead's out-and-out rejection of the commercial system. (The Maharishi once tried to persuade them to get on the bandwagon and change their name to Everlasting Life. They couldn't dig it.)
On stage the Grateful Dead are something else. They combine a funky rock with some hard core blues and manage to come up with new exciting sounds. You get the feeling that while the Jefferson Airplane was so busy "loving you" the Dead were spending their time in rehearsal. 
Ten Years After is another case of a fabulous group that is literally unknown in the States. (Promoter Pagni has another way of putting it, "I bought them too soon.") Their album has been at the top of the British charts for some time and lead guitar player Alvin Lee is finding himself thrust into that tight circle of such trendsetters as Hendrix, Clapton and Bloomfield.
The action will begin at 8.

(by Jon Sargent, from the Arizona Republic, Phoenix, 21 June 1968)

*

Jon Sargent also wrote a very brief follow-up review in his "Vibrations in the Valley" column in the 6/30/68 Arizona Republic:

Last weekend's Grateful Dead concert was a smash. Too bad not everyone knew it. The further the Dead got into their music the quicker some people got out to their cars.

 More photos at: http://tjfranklinphotography.com/wp/the-grateful-dead/

Mar 22, 2017

October 11, 1970: Paterson State College, Wayne, NJ

DEAD AFTERMATH

If you somehow missed Sunday evening's 7:00 o'clock performance by the Grateful Dead, but stuck around to raise hell about your money, you discovered to the Assembly Committee's relief that there would be a concert sometime the night of October 12.
The Dead late on arrival were minus one corpse, something about a lost bass player. The crowd stood passively, only occasionally crushing someone against the doors of the auditorium. Soon, thanks to the unrestrained efforts of the valorous N.Y. cabbie, a bass player did arrive in time for the nine o'clock show and was immediately given an option for the second appearance later in the evening. Bodies cleared, doors opened, nine hundred and eighty-seven people simultaneously passed through one set of double doors. (Approximately seven feet wide.)
Once inside, you had close to twenty seconds in which to obtain a seat, of course there were also the aisles. At that point, if you dig emphatic audio expression, you probably haven't thought about the ridiculously massive sound system staring down on you from the stage. Could all that have been delivered to the wrong Shea? Five or six figures wander out from the stage and take places in front of the wall of speakers. There are definitely six now, two drummers, why two drummers, "I still don't understand it."
The Dead play "rock blues," more often than not, wrapped country style. It's immediately captivating, and if you are really there to get into the sound, you can start with the first note: otherwise the second will do. Their greatest influence is The Band, "and fellows, it shows." But, do not disappear, there is a different individuality to their work. The lead guitar work more than made up for what was lacking in bass; but after all, he stepped out of the cab, and out onto the stage without even tuning up.
It was fascinating to see the audience become part of the show with the same speed at which they took their seats. It was also fortunate, for unfortunate was the brevity of both performances.
There is something to be said for the way in which the evening was run, for some people were not at all understanding in their point of view. There seemed to be a definite shortage of ushers; "compliments to those who showed." Also, hearts and flowers to the Assembly Committee for not hassling the two hundred or so people who attended each show unannounced.

Picture caption: "The Grateful Dead performed two concerts here during Homecoming weekend. They attracted one of the largest crowds ever to seek admission to a PSC activity."

(by Bill Lavorgna, from the Paterson State Beacon, 20 October 1970)

https://archive.org/details/gd70-10-11.aud.cotsman.9500.sbeok.shnf

http://cdm15701.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p15701coll7/id/3078/rec/47  

November 16, 1970: Fillmore East, NYC

JAM AT THE FILLMORE

The concert was announced at the late show Saturday night; tickets went on sale Sunday noon, and were sold out Sunday evening, showing the popularity of the Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead. The two bands, the best that came out of San Francisco, had never played together in New York before. But the Airplane had a concert cancelled, and the Dead were in town, so Bill Graham scheduled the two together for last Monday night. Unfortunately, only half the Airplane showed up, but even so there was more than enough music to last for eight hours.
At 8:30 Bill Graham announced the New Riders of the Purple Sage who travel with the Dead, and for whom Jerry Garcia plays pedal steel guitar. They played their country western music very smoothly and tightly, playing most of the songs they usually do in concert - "Truck Driving Man," "Last Lonely Eagle," "Dirty Business," and ending, as almost always, with "Honkey Tonk Women."
In "Dirty Business," Jerry Garcia produced sounds that have to rank among the weirdest in the world, making wailing feedback noises with a wah-wah on his pedal steel guitar. By the time they played "Honkey Tonk Women," everyone was on his feet, dancing and clapping.
The audience was enthusiastic for Hot Tuna - Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady of Jefferson Airplane on guitar and bass, and Will Scarlett playing harmonica. Normally, Joey Covington of the Airplane plays drums, but since he had burned his hands, they had another drummer for the night. While the New Riders play country music, Hot Tuna is deeply rooted in the blues tradition. They play songs by Mississippi John Hurt, Furry Lewis, and Reverend Gary Davis, songs like "Candyman," "Windin' Boy Blues," and "The Midnight Special."
With Kaukonen, as usual, playing acoustic guitar, they started with "Know Your Rider." However, he then switched to electric guitar, and introduced a new member of his band, Poppa John, playing electric violin. Poppa John was immediately the star of the show. He stood swaying back and forth, his mouth half open, his violin seeming to be a part of his body. When he played a solo, his phrases soared and swooped, and wailed above Kaukonen's powerful guitar lines.
At one moment he would sound like Jimmy Page, at the next like Sugarcane Harris, then like nobody but himself, ending his lead on a screeching note that faded into the progression again. They returned to the traditional as they finished with "Hesitation Blues," showing off Kaukonen's finger-picking blues guitar style.
The Dead are the tightest band in the world. From the very first note of "Casey Jones," everything was in place and under control. Bob Weir holds everything together above the double drumming of Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann. Jerry Garcia swirls guitar phrases among Phil Lesh's syncopated bass lines, and Pigpen plays organ and sings.
They played dance music - "Casey Jones," "Not Fade Away," "Good Lovin'," and old rock and roll by Chuck Berry. During their set Steve Winwood came onstage and played organ, and Chris Wood and Jim Capaldi sang. All the while the Dead never got distracted. After three hours of playing, they finished with the most vocally tight version of Uncle John's Band I have ever heard.
Afterward, Hot Tuna jammed for another hour, finally ending what was for New York unfortunately a very unique concert, one where excellent musicians just get together and play.

(by Chris Ross, from the Daily Princetonian, 23 November 1970)

https://archive.org/details/gd70-11-16.sbd.winters.17361.sbeok.shnf

Mar 13, 2017

January 14, 1967: Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

CITY'S 'GROOVERS' GATHER FOR 'GIG'

SAN FRANCISCO (UPI) - Anybody who was nobody was there.
And if there were any anybodys, nobody knew.
It was the city's biggest social event of the season but it failed to make the society pages.
It was a happening.
It took place at the polo field in Golden Gate Park. They were all there - the hippy denizens of the Haight-Asbury District and outlying regions, the activists from Berkeley, the Hells Angels, students, beatniks, toddlers. Thirteen thousand of them under a sunny sky.
And about 2,000 spectators, some of them bemused, some completely dumbfounded. The police also sent a delegation, mainly to ticket dozens of illegally parked cars.
Word of the event began circulating earlier this month in the Haight-Asbury, home for many of the city's far-out types. It was billed as a "human Be-In" and a "Gathering of the Tribes," a get-together for political activists and hippies. The public was also invited and asked to bring "costumes, blankets, bells, flags, symbols, drums, beads, feathers, and flowers."
Timothy Leary, high priest of the psychedelic cult, delivered a sermon. Bedecked with beads around his neck and flowers in his hair, he declared:
"Turn onto the scene; tune into what is happening; and drop out - of high school, college, grade school, junior executive, senior executive - and follow me, the hard way."
Jazz virtuoso Dizzy Gillespie blew his trumpet [to] the accompaniment of flutes and tambourines.
More music was provided by the Jefferson Airplane, the Quicksilver Messenger Service, and the Grateful Dead. Members of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang guarded the generators which powered the public address system.
An unidentified guest with a white helmet arrived by parachute.
Poet Allen Ginsberg chanted a zen Buddhist hymn in Sanskrit as everybody faced the sun setting over the Pacific.
Anti-war activist Jerry Rubin, just out of a Berkeley jail, derided the establishment and passed the hat for money for his defense in court.
A gaunt young man with flowing hair wore a red gunnysack. Another was clad in the costume of a court jester. Togas and priest-like vestments were also in evidence.

(from the Argus, Fremont CA, 16 January 1967)

* * *

HIPPIES ATTEND 'HUMAN BE-IN' 

SAN FRANCISCO - The first "Human Be-In" was held here recently in Golden Gate Park.
And 10,000 of the faithful gathered to participate in the rites.
Who are the faithful? The hippies of the Haight-Ashbury district which has now become the hippie capital of the world.
It is the Mecca of the movement. Hippie pilgrims from afar journey hither to make the scene.
The major prophets of the new faith were all there at the Human Be-In. Poet Allen Ginsburg, who came up through the ranks in the quaint old beatnik days, was there to lead the mob in a Hare Krishna swami chant.
If you don't know what that is, you are unspeakably square.
Pig-Pen, the organ grinder for the Grateful Dead whose gaudy sweatshirts are a must for teen-age girls, gave the invocation with rock music.
And ex-Prof. Timothy Leary, high priest of the LSD cult, delivered an impassioned plea to "turn on, tune in and drop out" while everybody who could twirled around a maypole to the delirious beat of the Quicksilver Messenger Service.
It was the Happening of Happenings.
To the tune of "We Shall Overcome," the crowd belted out its national anthem, "We Are All Insane."
This is about the only thing that makes perfect sense to people not meshed in the hippie movement.
Some of the hippies are probably insane and others are suffering from serious mental disturbances. But probably most of them are kids who are getting a tremendous kick out of doing absolutely everything that is abhorrent and annoying to their parents.
Wait ten years and you will find most of the current hippies are "turned off, tuned out and dropped back in."

(by Ellis Spackman, from the San Bernardino County Sun, 16 February 1967)

Thanks to Dave Davis.

Some videos:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lvH6gZH3j8 - color
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTGyFgyB5Q8 - b&w

Mar 10, 2017

October 6, 1966: The Panhandle, San Francisco

'LOVE PAGEANT' IS S.F. PARK SUCCESS

The visitor from Omaha craned his neck and tried to observe precisely what was occurring in the Panhandle section of Golden Gate Park.
Yesterday's "Love Pageant Rally" held in that area of San Francisco was truly one of the year's prime tourist attractions - even if it was a nearly spontaneous outburst initiated by members of the Haight-Ashbury community for purposes of "celebrating" the first anniversary of making LSD illegal and of giving San Francisco Mayor John Shelley a chance to "turn on."
The group sent a delegation to City Hall to give the mayor a token of affection, but he was at his home.
About 500 of the wildly clad advocates of love, freedom, trust and other assorted causes gathered in the sun-speckled glades of the park to hear the throbbing rock sounds of such groups as "The Grateful Dead," "Big Brother and the Holding Company," and others, and also to let loose their spontaneous feelings of joy and love for everything and everybody.
Under the magnificent trees of the park near the corner of Masonic and Fell streets, the ever-changing group participated in a massive attempt to "communicate," as one disheveled youth put it.
Even the Ken Kesey bus was there. Kesey, the one-time author and resident of La Honda who is being sought by San Mateo County authorities for jumping bail on a narcotics charge, could not be found, but word at the "Happening" was that he was indeed there and "incognito." The Omaha visitor, camera in hand, took a picture of Kesey's multi-colored bus and hurried into the crowd.
A mammoth traffic jam developed along Masonic as the curious flocked to the wooded area to see and hear what was occurring. The police, both curious and a bit annoyed by the sudden end of tranquility in the region, watched the goings-on with a jaundiced eye.
Businessmen, nurses, students, tourists, and the elderly strolled through the park and gawked at the fantastic scene. One nurse, hearing the pulsating sounds of the music, was unable to control herself and threw off her crepe-soled shoes and danced away on the lawn and was engulfed by the weaving, chanting crowd of demonstrators.
The Kesey bus, one of the focal points of the affair, was filled with long-haired children, animals of a variety of sizes, shapes and forms, glassy-eyed adults, and a bundle of equipment and supplies calculated for living in when duty called.
A rumor that Kesey spoke to a creative writing class at Stanford University has been confirmed by university authorities. According to an official at the school, Kesey spoke on Wednesday to the class for about 45 minutes. The visit was unannounced.
The order of the day was boots, beards, bards, and beads. Even the animals of the group were arrayed in psychedelic gear. One monstrous but amiable dog (of undetermined origin and pedigree) was outfitted in a beautiful set of beads and participated fully in the day's events over the course of the afternoon.
As the day wore on, a small Negro boy dribbled a basketball towards a lone basket located about 100 yards from the main entertainment area. He paused, took one last look at the scene to his rear, and fired a jump shot. The visitor from Omaha smiled and snapped his picture.
He was back to reality.

(by John Horgan, from the San Mateo Times, 7 October 1966)

Thanks to Dave Davis.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGvlkInNc5M (has a brief glimpse of Big Brother playing)

See also: http://californiahistoricalsociety.blogspot.com/2016/10/hungry-for-communication-love-pageant.html 

Mar 4, 2017

June 21, 1967: Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

"SUMMER OF LOVE" WELCOMED BY HIPPIES IN SAN FRANCISCO

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -
The Flower Children climbed a mountain, swarmed a polo field, and crowded a beach to welcome the arrival of their "summer of love."
"A solstice happening," one bearded hippie termed the turnout for the first day of a season which the non-conformist disciples of love predict will bring 100,000 hippies to San Francisco.
In the chilly predawn Wednesday, scores gathered on Twin Peaks - 900-foot mountains in the city's center - where they chanted and meditated until the sun rose.
"It was a sort of Buddhist yogi," explained bearded Bill Thomas, his arm crushing a red-haired girl in filmy gown against his suede jacket.
Wailing electric guitars and booming drums assaulted the ears of upwards of a thousand at the "happening" at Golden Gate Park's polo field.
Tribal groups clustered about small combo bands - the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Mad River, the Phoenix, Big Brother and the Holding Company.
One tribe squatted under fluttering flags with the Star of David and the Cross, keeping time with a tabla - a bongo-like drum - a tambourine and a portable reed organ.
"This is a krishna, an Indian ceremony," one explained.
"This draws energy by clearing one's state of mind."
Nearby, a youth with hair hanging over his face ardently kissed a blonde.
The gathering ran the gamut of garb - miniskirts, shawls, black leather jackets, even a male wrapped in the royal purple of a Chinese Mandarin coat. Most of the males dangled bead necklaces. And everywhere were the paper flowers.
One squatting couple shielded a flickering candle from the wind with a sack, while they sipped wine from a silver chalice. Grownups blew bubbles, while their children romped.
At the beach Wednesday night the moonlight ceremony focused on a 63-year-old witch.
"She's freaking out a few people," a hippie told a bystander.
"Freak out?"
"Well," replied the hippie, fumbling for words, "that means blow out a few minds."
That's how summer came to Twin Peaks.

The picture caption of a smiling, face-painted blonde:
Judy Smith, who calls herself a "Summer Flower Child," enjoyed the first day of summer in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park Wednesday. Large crowds of hippies gathered in the park to observe the longest day of the year. A cook-in was scheduled later in the day.

(by Harold Streeter, AP report, 22 June 1967) 

This ran in newspapers across the country, with varying headlines - for instance the Santa Fe New Mexican, the Avalanche-Journal in Lubbock, TX, the Indiana Gazette in Indiana, PA, the Portsmouth Herald in Portsmouth, NH, etc.

Thanks to Dave Davis.

For some footage of the day, see the film "The Way It Was," particularly the last ten minutes.

Feb 26, 2017

September 1966: Camp Lagunitas

THE GRATEFUL DEAD TO MAKE THE SCENE

The Grateful Dead have been buried in the country, but are soon to be disinterred.
The rock 'n' roll combo is regretfully leaving its sylvan retreat at Camp Lagunitas the end of this month and returning to "the nervous scene" on the other side of the Golden Gate.
For three months, the five electronic musicians - together with three managers, one equipment man, four wives, and six weeks in the historic Bardell mansion on Rancho Olompali, the rest of the time at the former children's summer camp on Arroyo Road off Sir Francis Drake Boulevard.
Manager Rock Scully explained the Grateful Dead's retreat to bucolic Lagunitas: "That city over there is what we call 'the scene.' It's meeting all kinds of people. It's a lot of extra nervousness. Being in a band is a nervous kind of work anyway. The band works smoother when it can get away some place from all that and relax."
The only drawback is that the band can't practice in the country, according to lead guitarist Jerry Garcia.
Scully pointed to the wooded hills around the nearly four-acre camp and explained that "the sound really bounces around this canyon and the neighbors don't like it.
"We understand, of course, and the policeman who said we'd better not play was awfully nice," added Garcia.
So, for Garcia, Ron (Pigpen) McKernan, Bob (Cowboy) Weir, Phil Lesh and Bill Sommers and their retinue, it's goodbye to their $600-a-month leafy acreage, tiny brook, sheltering cabins, and swimming pool.
They'll be too busy in the city across the bay, however, to have time for nostalgia, according to manager Scully.
The long-haired quintet is booked solidly for weekends through November and will have to spend most of the weekdays practicing and cutting their first records, Scully said.
The recording contract is a measure of how quickly the Grateful Dead have caught on since the group was formed nine months ago. Since then, they've played in Los Angeles, Portland, Ore., and Vancouver, B.C., as well as in San Francisco dance halls. In November, they are booked into Chicago.
Nucleus of the group, all of whom are in their early 20's, were Garcia, McKernan, and Weir, who started as Mother McCrea's Jug Band. Bill Sommers was drafted when the three heard him on the drums one night in Palo Alto. Phil Lesh was studying composing at Mills College in Oakland, when the group persuaded him to team up as the electric bass player.
All except rhythm guitarist Cowboy Weir, who is from Wyoming, are Bay Area men.
The lyrics of one of the songs they will record while making the nervous scene may recall their Lagunitas retreat:
"When the cardboard cowboy dreams
In his cornucopia
He opens up the sky and sends my mind
To the corners of the rainbow bridge
Unrolling beneath my trembling toes."


FAREWELL, BUCOLIA - Ron (Pigpen) McKernan, Bob (Cowboy) Weir, and Jerry Garcia, who as Mother McCrea's Jug Band comprised the nucleus of what is now the Grateful Dead, twang and sing a little in Camp Lagunitas, former boys' camp they rented as Marin retreat. They are going back to "the nervous scene." Their rehearsing annoyed Lagunitas neighbors, it seems. (Independent-Journal photo)

(by Robert Strebeigh, from the San Rafael Independent-Journal, 19 September 1966)

Thanks to Dave Davis.

See also: http://deadsources.blogspot.com/2013/02/august-1966-grateful-dead-interview.html

Feb 20, 2017

December 17, 1966: Ladera School, Ladera, CA

TEENS GO TOP DRAWER

A little short of a miracle, the "Grateful Dead" have signed to play at the Ladera Christmas dance. What has brought this about, is that the kids themselves have been saving the profits that they have made from past dances so that now they can afford to pay for this important (and expensive) group.
They will be well worth hearing. To quote from Ralph Gleason's article (Dec. 8 Chronicle) "The Grateful Dead is a contemporary rock band, a good deal of whose music is blues based. They have evolved a magnificent playing style that features some of the most exciting instrumental rock music anywhere.
Included in their group is Ron "Pig Pen" McKernan who plays organ and harmonica and sings. Many young white performers in folk and rock music seem to be little but imitations of negro singers. Pig Pen, on the other hand, does not do this and he is tremendously effective. He sings like himself; the music and the style is blues, but he is not imitation."
That sounds good. And the sounds next Saturday night (December 17th at 8:00 o'clock) will be an exciting experience for everyone who can hear them. This will be a real Christmas present for those who attend.

(from the Ladera Crier newsletter, December 1966)

*


LADERA TEENS SPLURGE ON A PARTY TO REMEMBER

It was quite a party they had at Ladera School one evening of the Christmas holiday.
A gas?
A blast? What's the "in" word for it?
It really turned the kids on. Anyway, it was noisy and it was fun.
The teen-agers of Ladera decided to splurge the money earned on previous dances to hire themselves a band and throw a real bash.
They did.
The "Grateful Dead" came from San Francisco in full tonsorial and electronic splendor to play, with the Rhythm Method Blues Band donating their services to fill in any chinks of silence that might threaten the evening. A troupe headed by George Kelly put on a show of colored light, swirling dyes, movies, and slides, also donating services.
Joe Bonner, Ann Wilsnack, Barbie Rusmore, and Mark Wilson headed the dance committee and turned in a spectacular decorations job. The large window in the multi-purpose room was completely covered with batik designs which turned it into a kind of mod stained glass window, lighted from outside. The wall opposite had a full mural.
The Ladera Community Association sponsored the dance, as they do other teen dances several times a year in the community. Mrs. Richard Hayes had initiated the dance series and continues to assist with ticket sales and other chores. Mrs. Jack Wallis is the current dance committee chairman. Mrs. Dan Dana helped with printing of invitations, limited to Ladera teen-agers and their guests. Jeff Wilson aided and abetted the decorations committee.
[A list of a dozen adult chaperones follows.]

Picture captions:
Dancers trip the light fantastic -- and the fantastic ranged from rock and roll spine torture to Greek folk dances -- before a window decorated with batik panels and lighted from outside to give a stain-glass effect. Shown are Connie Hefte and Bruce Hird. That swirl of blonde hair behind Connie is Bruce's partner, Barbie Rusmore. All the pictures are by Ken Gardiner of Ladera, who found he could concentrate on his camera better after he stuffed his ears with cotton.
Gerry Wilsnack of Ladera was one of the many adults who helped the teens make their dream party come true. Took good care of the money, too.
Anne Creelman, a guest from Los Altos, gets into the swing of things.
George Kelly of San Francisco swirls dyes over a light to project colored patterns on a sheet-draped wall.
"Pigpen," he calls himself, one of the "Grateful Dead" who provided the decibels.

(from the Country Almanac, 3 January 1967)


Thanks to Susan Suesser, who uncovered these articles:
http://inmenlo.com/2017/02/13/grateful-dead-in-ladera-yes-it-really-happened-50-years-ago/ 

Jan 5, 2017

March 19, 1966: Carthay Studios, Los Angeles

UCLA ACID TEST CANCELED: GRATEFUL DEAD CRY ‘FOUL!’

It is early afternoon, Saturday, March 19, in a quiet South Los Angeles neighborhood. I’ve come here for an interview with the Grateful Dead and the Acid Test people, both of whom have been cancelled out of UCLA’s Grand Ballroom and what promised to be a huge gate.
Parked as unobtrusively as it can be is the Acid Test’s multi-colored tour bus. It is attracting a great deal less attention here than it did in Beverly Hills, where a small crowd gathered to watch it make a U turn. Off to one side a few children are giving the Merry Pranksters a wide berth; and other than their less than rapt attention, the bus is being completely ignored. There is a constant flow of Pranksters between the bus and a huge three story house that, in better days, was somebody’s mansion.
On the front porch glider is Bill Summers, a drummer for the Grateful Dead. He is taking a morning cup of coffee, and he gestures towards me with it as I head for the front door.
“You from UCLA?” he asks.
“No,” I tell him. He looks up at me from under his eyebrows, still a bit suspicious.
“You sure?”
“Of course,” I assure him, and quickly head into the house. I AM from UCLA. Inside is that same hurried activity. There is a feeling of tense anticipation, like before some stupendous event – like a hydrogen bomb explosion. Upstairs I find who I am looking for, Rock Skully.
Skully is the band’s manager and promoter of the ill-fated UCLA Acid Test. He is sitting on the edge of a mattress, deeply involved in a phone conversation. He nods hello and waves me over to the only other piece of furniture in the room, an Altec speaker crate. The house rents unfurnished.
Skully is nodding and agreeing, “Yeah…yeah…uh-huh…no…they did, huh? Son Of A Bitch.” This last statement is made one word at a time, with each word drawn out, given the proper inflection and clipped off, at the end.
Skully’s room is in the apparent center of the ant-like activity. People dash in and out, showing flyers and posters, making pantomimed requests, sometimes just ducking their heads in, taking a quick look around and spinning off down the hall.
A cute long-haired girl comes in, makes a grab for Skully’s green felt hat, and gets a rap on the ass for her trouble. The one-sided conversation continues.
“Yes…yes…oh, Hell, yes,” no to a boy with a still-wet poster, yes to a flyer, and an intricate hand gesture to someone looking for the head. Jerry Garcia, the Dead’s lead guitarist, sticks his head in the door. He is, I learn later, an ex-member of the Asphalt Jungle Mountain Boys Blue Grass Band.
Garcia looks to Skully, who is now nodding “yes” whenever he says “no” and shaking his head “no” whenever he says “yes.” This is too much for Garcia, who directs his attention to me.
“You from Life? Look? Newsweek? Time? Playboy?” I shake my head no.
Garcia pushes himself back, holding onto the door frame for balance. He snaps his head left and right, looking both directions down the hall. He leans back into the room and assumes a conspiratorial tone.
“You’re from ‘Storm Trooper,’ right?”
I tell him “no.” His eyes narrow.
“You’re not from UCLA, are you?”
“No,” I reply, a little too loudly.
“Hmmm.” He still isn’t sure. “Well, if you really are from ‘Storm Trooper,’ come on by my room; I got some shiny boots there, I know you guys like that kind of stuff.” Garcia gives me a knowing wink and disappears down the hall. I turn back to Skully, who has finished his conversation and is looking at me.
“Why isn’t there going to be an Acid Test?” I ask.
“There is,” says Skully, “but not at UCLA.”
“Why?”
“I don’t know,” says Skully, looking rather morosely at his boots.
“Don’t you see how they’ve hurt him?” says Garcia, who is back, standing in the doorway. “Leave him alone – come on, we’ll go look at Pig Pen.”
“Pig Pen?” I ask, trying to direct the conversation back to Skully.
“He plays organ and harmonica for us,” Garcia answers for Skully. “Comes from San Bruno, that’s where Gill Hile Lincoln-Mercury is. You guys from Storm Trooper ought to pick up on a name like that.”
“It’s not Hile, it’s Arrata Pontiac,” says Skully, coming to life a bit.
“Wait here,” says Garcia to me. “I’ll get Pig Pen.”
“Arrata does the late show on TV. He gives his pitch hanging upside down from a rope and rotating.” Skully seems to have brightened up.
“What happened at UCLA?” I ask again.
“They cancelled us. I don’t know why. They told Ken Babbs (spokesman for the Merry Pranksters) they wanted fifteen hundred dollars guarantee, because they didn’t think there’d be a draw.”
“When was this?”
“Thursday. They waited till five and then told him they wanted the money by ten that night – otherwise, no show. We got the money to them Friday morning.”
“Why did they cancel then?” I ask.
“It was a check; they said it had to be cash.”
“Who is ‘they’?”
“Dale Spickler from the Student Union, and Chuck McClure from the Administration. Spickler said that there was a signature missing from the contract, so they didn’t have to have the show anyway.”
“Had they mentioned the money or the contract before Thursday?”
“No. They could have. They could have told us about the money at two instead of five. We were there setting up at two.”
“Whose idea was it to use UCLA for the Test?”
“They came to us. Chris Bryer asked us to talk with them about it. We talked with Joel Peck of the Graduate Students Association, and it was with their sponsorship that we got the Grand Ballroom.”
“And it was the Graduate Students who cancelled the show?”
“No, it was Spickler and McClure. McClure’s from the Administration or Student Activities, I’m not sure which. They said the contract wasn’t valid because John Economos, the GSA Vice President, hadn’t signed it. They must have known that for two weeks, but they told us Thursday. Then they took our ad out of Friday’s paper (The Daily Bruin) and put in a notice that the Test was cancelled.”
“But you’re still having it?”
“Yeah, but I don’t know if anyone’ll come. If anyone’ll know where it’s at. We put up a sign in the Grand Ballroom with the new address. Ken just called and said they tore that down and put up one that just said ‘Cancelled.’
“Everyone’s out postering now, and there’s word of mouth – that’s about all we can do tonight. What the Hell, it’s a party. We’re gonna have a good time no matter how few come.”
Skully is looking down at his boots again. “Yeah, no matter what. Hey, man, wait’ll next week. Next week we got Trouper’s Hall on La Brea. Del Close – light show; Tiny Tim – old timey singing on the breaks; and the Grateful Dead – sound, pure sound. – Come on downstairs.” We go downstairs.
In the living room Garcia, Pig Pen, Summers, and the rest of the band – Phil Lesh and Bob Wier – are standing around waiting to hear a tape. The Dead’s engineer and electronic genius of the group is setting up.
Skully shows me a row of six “Voice of the Theater” speaker enclosures. They run the length of one wall. Behind and around us are microphones, stands and instruments. The engineer is dickering with a phantasmagoria of plugs, dials, and switches. Skully motions to him and he comes over to us.
“We operate at about one hundred ten decibels, three hundred thirty watts going through the speakers. I changed all the instruments from high to low impedance – that way we get pure sound,” he says.
I nod like I understand.
“See,” he goes on, pointing proudly, “four Macintosh preamps, one for each instrument. We got Super Basses, vacuum sealed for the lows and basslines, four Voice of the Theaters – one for each instrument. Oscilloscopic monitorization; we do continuous mix, as we play. That way you get recording studio quality in live performance.”
I nod again, looking out the window. In the street three kids and two neon-costumed Merry Pranksters are standing around the back of a Good Humor truck. I look back and Skully nods to the engineer. He starts the tape.
The sound comes. Pure sound – sound that makes you giggle that anything could be that loud. I look outside. The sound is like in an air raid. I expect to see people running for cover. But they are standing around, buying ice cream, like nothing is happening. They are cut off from us. We are enveloped in sound.
“What is it?” I yell, but even I don’t hear the words. I finally get Skully’s attention by nudging him.
“What is it?” I write on my pad.
“Our record, out Monday – ‘I Know You Rider,’ and the flip is ‘Otis On The Shake Down Cruise,’” he writes back.
I listen. It is loud, that kind of loud heavy sound that drives you towards the speakers. It is pure sound, never dissonant or muddy. Crystal clear, even at this volume. It is good groovy sound, with strong down home runs and good throaty voices. The music ends. Rock smiles at me.
“You like?” he wants to know.
“Boss,” I say, “you’ve really got that Sonny and Cher sound down.”
“Sonny and Cher eat,” says Pig Pen, looking like a bewigged Wallace Beery.
“How about an ice cream?” someone says, and we all head outside.
That night I go to the Carthay Studios, to see if they can draw a crowd on such short notice. There are people there – lots of people, over six hundred people – people from UCLA, from Canter’s, from Hollywood. Dick Alpert is there. Life Magazine is there. A cop is there. But most of all the Grateful Dead and the Acid Test are there.
There are three screens going, two with movies and one with a light show. People are dancing under the strobe light, people are flipping out, things are happening. And behind it, under it, over it, and permeating it is sound – pure sound. On the break I corner Skully.
“They sound great.” Skully shakes his head.
“This building, it’s soaking up all our sound. Wait, wait till next week – Del Close, Tiny Tim, the Dead, and sound – plenty of sound. You think this is something? Wait till next week.” The band starts again, the projections start, people start to dance, everyone starts to smile.
“What about UCLA?” I yell over the Dead. “Are you going to sue?”
“No,” yells Skully over his shoulder. “I’m having too good a time.” I look around. Everyone is having a good time. Later I catch sight of Skully, standing by the speakers; he mouths the word “sound.” I wave good-by smiling; there’s next week, too.

(by Steve White, Los Angeles Free Press, 25 March 1966)

Thanks to jgmf.blogspot.com