LONG LIVE THE DEAD: "CAPTAIN TRIPS" & CREW RIDE FOR THE REVOLUTION!
The Greatful Dead, heroes of countless tales from the underground, players of many free gigs all over the country, and the best goddamn rocknroll band in the land, is coming to good ole San Diego by the sea. They will be playing a concert at the Community Concourse, January 10th. The Dead probably has the most devoted following of any of the bands that have been around for a time. When the Dead are in town, all the freaks suddenly appear out of nowhere to dance and laugh and enjoy the good long sets. Of all the bands in San Francisco that started out so promising before succumbing to the tasteless type of the mass media, only the Greatful Dead has remained to remind us of what Free music is all about. They are the band that cut a couple records only because they were badly in debt from playing free gigs and helping others out.
The list of events that they have participated in is endless: the Trips Festival, the 67 Peace March, Monterey, People's Park benefits, outside San Quentin walls while the abortive strike was going on, the Great Be-In, inside the Fillmore for bail money for Street Fighters, outside the building of Columbia University when it was occupied by our brothers, inside the Family Dog to help Chet Helms try and salvage something from the remains of the hip community in San Francisco, in parks in San Francisco, New York, Denver, and other cities. These are a few of the more memorable happenings that come to mind.
They tried to start a dance hall for the People that didn't have the bread to get into Graham's Place. They were in on most of what has been going down in San Francisco for the past five years or so. Their house has been the scene of innumerable parties and at times the hub for many of the musicians in the bay area. They are coming here just after the release of their latest record. Live Dead (Warner Bros.) is a two-record set that captures the intensity and feeling of their music. As on their previous album, Aoxomoxoa, Owsley is one of the consulting engineers.
Jerry Garcia is perhaps the most underrated guitarist playing today. He is ignored by all those 'hip' rock critics that seem to abound everywhere; the same guys that tell us what rock music is all [about].
The two percussionists, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, are rarely mentioned but their sense of timing puts many prominent rock drummers to shame. Phil Lesh and Bob Weir compliment Garcia to make a formidable threesome on guitars. Tom Constanten is on keyboard and of course Pigpen is there on organ and congas. I suggest that you stick a speaker in each ear and sit back and enjoy a couple hours with Live Dead. The concourse is not the best place to listen to music, especially the Dead, but until we can support a place where we can listen and dance to music, it will have to suffice. Try to scrape the bread together and go hear the Grateful Dead; you won't be sorry.
(from the San Diego Street Journal, 2 January 1970)
* * *
GRATEFUL DEAD APPEAR WITH A NEW QUALITY
Rock music from San Francisco has grown less important in recent months as many of the good bands have fallen apart and acid rock, the music form peculiarly San Francisco's since 1965, has faded away.
The Grateful Dead, who are generally credited with being the first of the city's popular underground bands, have, however, played it smart and explored other musical territories.
Saturday night in concert at the Convention Hall, the Dead proved themselves a spunky cowboy band instead of specialists in acid rock. The group image has changed. Everybody has shorter hair and wears a lot of woodsy, Marlboro-looking costumes. They have that same sort of free-for-all atmosphere on stage as always and the new music goes down very well indeed.
The Dead appeared about 11 p.m. and the set did not break up until almost 12:30 a.m. One of the first things we heard was an old country song, "I Know You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone," delivered with lots of down home plunkety-plunk. Throughout the set there were songs about bandits and card games, Santa Fe and West Texas County and holdups. "Drive That Train" and "Don't Murder Me" were especially fun.
But the Dead saved the best for last - Ron (Pig Pen) McKernan's "Lovelight." The tune [has] been a part of the Dead repertoire for almost as long as they have been alive, but it comes out differently at each performance, lasting anywhere from two minutes to two hours.
Saturday night's "Lovelight" ran for about 45 minutes. McKernan, who usually plays conga drums and harp with the Dead, built things up and let them fall and did it all over again and again singing "Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine." The set broke up joyfully with the audience clapping and dancing and stomping.
The Sons of Champlin, who preceded the Dead, tried the same sort of audience participation, but didn't do it nearly so well. The Sons' problem of the evening seemed to be deciding whether or not to play. The band took 30 minutes to arrange equipment on stage and spent another 30 minutes clunking about through fragmentary repertoire before getting into anything solid. Once, the whole set dissolved while the lead guitarist went over to play the piano, which he then decided didn't work. He tried the organ instead. That did work, in fact it worked very well through the rest of the set. The band sailed with him at the keyboard.
Before the Sons we heard Aum: A guitarist and vocalist who breathes [mouthy] sighs into the mike while a drummer and bass player make powdery noises that sometimes go rough and angry. The vocalist screams then - but not very well.
(by Carol Olten, from the San Diego Union, 12 January 1970)
* * *
DEAD LIVE AREN'T ALWAYS DEAD "LIVE"
Grateful Dead finally came to San Diego last Saturday night, almost
legendary heroes to the faithful followers of the "San Francisco Sound"
and among the most highly loved and respected of all movement musicians.
They exhibited a large part of their wide versatility, going through a
series of country numbers before getting into some of the
improvizational jams for which they are so well known. They were good,
but certainly not the enthralling, totally involving energy you sense if
you turn up their "Live" album and lie on the floor for two hours.
musicians are not those who display unerring technical brilliance or
consistent instrumental virtuosity. They are people who can appear
together before a collection, large or small, of 'their people' and
capture with their music the emotional feelings and expressions of those
people. The music these people create functions in a reciprocal
relationship with the emotions of the listener; the more closely the
musicians are in tune with and can express the feelings of the audience,
the more their music will amplify and augment those feelings, each
building and reinforcing the other to produce a true musical
Rock concerts are very different in San Francisco,
largely to the degree that the emotional lives of the people who go to
them differ so markedly from San Diego. Concerts up there are attended
by people who are (relatively speaking) somewhat unique in at least one
important respect: they live in a community in which they are able, for
reasons of number, to live emotional lives which are less fettered and
encumbered by the collective stoic rigidity of the larger society than
nearly every other such group of young people.
So in the Bay Area
people come to groove with the music; they can, to a great extent,
allow their feelings to flow naturally with the music, providing the
musicians with the reciprocal stimulus they need to create something
meaningful. The Grateful Dead have been part of the people of San
Francisco for years, struggling with them to build their community to
fulfill as much as possible their collective needs.
Seen in that
light, it is easier for me to understand the difficulty with which they
"got it on" at the Concourse last weekend. One hardly wonders, what with
hundreds of rows of carefully aligned and immovable chairs and plenty
of cops to keep us out of the aisles where we might be free to move
around a little. When we were shown to our reserved seats by petite,
reserved usherettes properly coiffed and outfitted, we might have
thought the evening's fare was Dvorak and not the Dead! Trying to groove to rock in that kind of atmosphere is like trying to make love tied to the bed.
can't respond to rock in that Concourse, or anyplace else in San Diego,
for that matter. And if we don't respond, the musicians will not be
able to respond to us, so we won't get a truly meaningful musical
experience in San Diego, either. That's because rock concerts are such a
good business here -- our natural energies are so strait-jacketed in
this town that we spend an enormous amount of money every weekend to go
and have incomplete, stunted musical experiences.
That has to go.
The commercial exploitation of our musical needs has gone on far too
long, and we've all been at fault. If we could put together free
concerts on our own, concerts where lots and lots of people could come
and be free to listen and feel, then groups like the Grateful Dead, and
the Sons and Aum, would come and play good long sets and we'd all be
able to cut our [subsidization] of the Concourse and the city to a
minimum. Some of the old Translove Airways people have been trying to do
that for quite a while. They deserve the support of all of us who want
freer access to our music.
(from the San Diego Street Journal, 16 January 1970)
Thanks to Dave Davis.