(Sometimes I come across pieces that are too brief to post by themselves; a few are collected here.)
12/1/68 Grande Ballroom, Detroit
I've read so many uncomplimentary articles about the Grande Ballroom that I just had to write in and tell you what a wonderful time I had Sunday, Dec. 1st. Uncle Russ had the Grateful Dead in to do their thing along with the Popcorn Blizzard. The Hog Farm was also on hand to supervise a group therapy thing.
There was something for everyone and it was so beautiful I couldn't believe it. A group of Rocks let me play jump-rope with them. I sat on the floor next to a guy who was diligently coloring and started coloring with him. He was kind and we joked about his work of art. The kids around us were tapping a balloon back and forth, the object...simply keeping it off the floor and I loved it. A jester gave me a lollipop and I thanked him. I played ball with a kid whose name I didn't even know and when that lost its appeal, I took up tinker toys.
The Dead played for 2 hours...straight through the candle burning, right through the paper plate tossing, and they were still going when I left.
I never had so much good clean uninhibited fun in my life. I thank you, Grande Ballroom, I thank you Uncle Russ.
(from "Letters," the Fifth Estate (Detroit), 12 December 1968)
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1/31-2/1/69 Kinetic Playground, Chicago
WHEEL OF JIVE
[ . . . ] Closely dig the tricks of the bass guitarist; the second most overlooked man in most rock groups . . . Watching the bass has become one of my favorite pastimes at live performances.
Several individuals stand out clearly, and as much as I don't cotton to the glory trip, they should at least be given some semblance of equal time with the lead players, drummers, and singers who seem to get most of the limelight.
A few weeks ago at the Electric Theater (whoops, Kinetic Playground), Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead gave a short course in the advantages of playing the bass keyed to the lead guitar. Jerry Garcia is a very fine guitarist, but the intricate and imaginative Lesh lends power and sustenance to every note he plays.
Another superb supporting bass player is Jack Cassidy of the Airplane. Listen to some of the cuts on "After Bathing at Baxter's," notice how Cassidy will sometimes hold back, entering the fray at the crucial moment with a dramatic, unexpected run. He, like Lesh, is a distinct and inseparable part of the "sound" that characterizes the group.
[ . . . ]
(from the Chicago Seed, 15 March 1969)
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12/19/69 The New Old Fillmore, San Francisco
Do you remember how groovy it used to be to go to the Fillmore (on Fillmore St.) and get stoned? Are you bummed by the monstrosity that the Fillmore West has turned into? Well, old buddy, there's hope for you yet.
The New Old Fillmore (on Fillmore St.) has been running weekend music events for more than a month now, but I only made it over there last weekend. What a gas! A crowd of people, but there was room to move even up near the front. What there was, to get right to it, was good vibes. I dug the Grateful Dead (who seemed bored) and the Rhythm Dukes (who haven't quite got it together yet), danced with chicks I never met before, smoked a lot of other peoples' dope, and generally had a really great time.
The Dead's bassist was late, so Garcia and Lesh [sic] came out with acoustic guitars and sang folk songs for a while. It could never have happened at the Fillmore West, but at the New Old Fillmore it seemed right on. What we need around here are more places where we can be easy together, and share whatever we have. There used to be a lot of such places, but lately they have been in short supply. If you've got a weekend free (and you've got some bread - there's always that), bop on down to Fillmore Street and recapture those carefree days of old. Tell 'em Black Shadow sent you, and maybe they'll let you in for free.
(from the San Francisco Good Times, 1 January 1970)
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"I am sitting here with the cat listening to the Grateful Dead and thinking of you and hoping all is well. The Grateful Dead are nice but it is the idea of them I enjoy more than the record, maybe; now I'm playing Howling Wolf and getting a more visceral shudder."
(from a letter by Angela, the San Francisco Express Times, 2/8/68)
"Every so often some groovy new place will open up such as the Kaleidoscope . . . But the Kaleidoscope and the Cheetah and the Shrine are really rock places where one goes to stimulate the senses and abandon oneself through the mass rock confessional. Anyway, some people still dig to talk with other people and more often than not, words seem out of place if not totally sacrilegious when uttered to a stranger during a set by the Grateful Dead."
(from "Looking Out," by Elliot Mintz, the Los Angeles Free Press, 8/2/68)
"In San Francisco the audience grew with its performers who grew with their audience . . . Lots of San Francisco bands started off with their audience and then developed hoping people would dig what they were doing...but it was all an inside trip...backs to audience sometimes...now they are reaching out to the audience...doing things that are entertaining, working to the audience...Jerry Garcia dances for the audience; before, no one looked at the audience. . . . People like Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead should have themselves filmed. . . with a performance, you see it better on TV than you do being there and seeing it on the stage..."
(from Sal Valentino interview by Liza Williams, the Los Angeles Free Press, 1/24/69)
"[It's A Beautiful Day] seem compelled to insert the same minor keyed electronic freak in the middle of each song. Psychedelic Breakdown obligato. It's all right for the Good Ol' Grateful Dead to come unmoored in the middle of each song, but for most groups it gets to be a drag."
(from "Seattle Pop Festival" by J. Cunnick, Helix, 7/31/69)
"When she gets into a song, she pulls you in with her and holds you there till she's ready to let go. The experience is not unlike sitting on the floor in front of a stage containing the Grateful Dead when they're really ON: it's one that you don't forget."
(from "Jacques Brel," the Berkeley Barb, 9/26/69)