Jun 30, 2015

October 28, 1972: Public Hall, Cleveland, OH - Show Announcement


Almost a year ago The Grateful Dead made their way to a much over crowded Allen Theatre. This year, however, with Public Hall as their shelter, The Grateful Dead should have enough room to play for all of their thousands of fans.
They will play Public Hall on Saturday, October 28th at 7:30 p.m. Also on the bill will be the beautiful, mellow and aspiring Rowan Brothers, who had a little help from The Dead on their debut Columbia LP.
Tickets for this memorable occasion (and I'm not being presumptuous) are $4.50 in advance and $5.00 the day of the show.
After a few years as a quintet - more or less - The Grateful Dead is back to being a six-man band. Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, and Billy Kreutzmann remain the core of the band. However, with the six month absence of Ron McKernan (aka Pig Pen) on keyboards, Keith Godcheaux was his replacement. When "Pig Pen" returned, Godcheaux remained.
Today, they are six. Or seven (if Keith's wife, Donna, sings with them on harmonies). Or eight (if ex-drummer, Mickey Hart, happens by).
The additional adventures of The Grateful Dead may be evidenced by any one of their solo (used loosely) albums: Bob Weir's ACE; Jerry Garcia's GARCIA; Mickey Hart's ROLLING THUNDER, or on any number of other artists that are augmented by members of The Dead.
As wars wage back and forth as to who is "the greatest rock and roll band on earth," The Grateful Dead spend most of their earthly hours just "Playing In The Band," as the song goes.
The evolution of The Grateful Dead, from one of the forerunners of the 1967-68 psychedelic era to San Francisco to an internationally accepted cluster of well-respected musicians has been an amazing one: they are now among the leaders of the rock establishment.
Chris and Lorin Rowan are one of Jerry Garcia's favorite new acts - one that hasn't soured, gone heavy or turned political; they are fresh and innocent, but possess complete control of their music. At the invitation of The Dead (just as The New Riders of The Purple Sage were "debuted"), The Rowan Brothers are on tour with them and will certainly make a strong supporting act.

(by Jim Girard, from the Scene, 26 October 1972)


Thanks to jgmf.blogspot.com

Jun 29, 2015

October 21, 1972: Vanderbilt University, Nashville TN


A "considerably beefed-up" campus security force aided by 50 to 150 student marshals will be on hand tomorrow to control a crowd of nearly 15,000 persons expected to attend the Grateful Dead concert on Alumni Lawn.
Campus Police Chief Robert Blankenship will have 15 officers on duty during the Student Association sponsored concert scheduled to begin at 1 p.m., rain or shine, but said he does not "anticipate any real problems."
Although Blankenship expects some illegal drug usage within the audience, his major concern is "to keep the concert orderly." He noted, however, that some "uninvited" plain clothed Metro policemen will serve as "observers" to look out for "drug pushers and big trouble." 
The campus police force will form a major cooperative effort with student marshals recruited by the S.A. Concerts Committee to control the concert without conflict. Committee member, Chuck Kahn, said the student marshals are "not to be enforcers, but to keep order in a friendly way. We want to prevent hassles, not cause them."
The Concerts Committee sent letters to approximately 150 "responsible students" earlier this week requesting them to serve as student marshals "to spread themselves throughout the crowd and watch for any trouble that might develop during the afternoon."
The unprecedented size of this Vanderbilt concert, coupled with the fact that most of the crowd will be "outsiders," has caused "several unique problems to arise," Concerts Committee co-chairmen Aubrey Hornsby and Steve Greil said in a statement released earlier this week.
Additional security measures will be taken "to protect the buildings and their inhabitants," including requiring Vanderbilt identification to enter dormitories.
The Alumni Lawn location was selected by special arrangement with The Grateful Dead. The Concerts Committee has tried to bring the group to Vanderbilt "for at least three years now," and has finally persuaded them that "appearances in the South are worthwhile." They "refused to play in the (Memorial) Gym for acoustic reasons, and preferred Alumni Lawn" to all other suggested sites.
Student marshals will "attempt to secure the area immediately in front of the stage with ropes until 11:30 a.m." in order "to assure Vanderbilt students a good seat." Entrance to the special section will be by VU ID only beginning around 9 a.m.
Kahn commented that there will be sufficient area for non-Vanderbilt students to view the concert, but admitted that "we will have to rely on the good faith of the Vanderbilt students" to hold the special section.
Campers willing to brave the unpredictable Nashville elements tonight will not be assured of a particularly choice position tomorrow as they will be permitted to camp only at the south end of Alumni Lawn around the flag pole, and not near the stage itself. Running water and Port-O-Let toilets will be available in the Alumni Lawn area. These facilities are restricted to sleeping bags only.
Those who wish to set up tents or campers must do so on the north side of Dudley Field in the band practice area. Rest room facilities will be available for these campers under the stadium, but all cooking must be done on camp stoves as no camp fires will be permitted.
The Concerts Committee issued "an additional reminder and warning to all who plan to attend the concert that it would be highly unwise to participate in any drug traffic."
"It is not uncommon for your 'brother' to be somebody else entirely. Federal, state and local laws prohibit the possession, sale or use of illegal drugs including marijuana, amphetamines, barbiturates and hallucinogens."
Student marshals met yesterday with Blankenship and Deans for Student Life K.C. Potter and James Sandlin to discuss security measures and ways to handle this and other problems that may arise. "We want the crowd to take care of itself if at all possible," Kahn commented, "and hopefully, we will not have to take any specific action."
"Student marshals are here to assist the crowd in any way possible," he continued, "and to direct students to first aid if they should get into trouble."
Rain or shine, tomorrow until dusk, the Concerts Committee expects The Grateful Dead and their music "to infect our campus with good time spirit."

A man from New Orleans reportedly will be selling bad acid at tomorrow's Grateful Dead concert, Dean for Student Life Sidney Boutwell warned yesterday.
Boutwell urged that spectators "inform the campus police if you identify him."

(by Bob Gillespy, from the Vanderbilt Hustler, 20 October 1972)


For more background, see:

Jun 23, 2015

October 1972: Jerry Garcia Interview


One of the first psychedelic bands in the Bay Area was the Grateful Dead, featuring Jerry Garcia. His name has become synonymous with good music.
The Dead now are more popular than ever worldwide, and their popularity is growing.
They have seven LP's out now and their new one will be soon. Their LP's include "The Grateful Dead," "Anthem of the Sun," "Aoxomoxoa," "Live Dead," "Workingman's Dead," "American Beauty" and "Grateful Dead."
The Dead just recently did a Winterland gig for their roadies who have been with them for six years. They recently did a four-night stand at the Berkeley Community Theatre and they will perform at Winterland again in December.

Garcia is one of the really great singer-guitarists in the music business today and this week we have an interview with him.
Garcia has his name on many other albums besides the Dead for his great studio work and is known for playing at clubs on off nights with Tom Fogerty and Merle Saunders, to name a couple. He is one of the real pros in the rock business today,
Here is what Jerry has to say for himself:
CAN YOU tell us a little about the album you have coming out soon?
Well, it's a three-record set.
IS IT a live album of your concert in London?
Yes, but it's not one live continuous performance. It is bits and pieces from different places.
DID YOU do a lot of it here in the Bay Area?
We did the work on it here. We did the mixing here. We did some overdubs here. The music itself, the instruments and so forth, were done in Europe.
WHEN WERE you in Europe? Wasn't it around May or April?
Yes, we left April Fools Day.
DID YOU enjoy it? We were just reading a review of your shows in Melody Maker and it seems like you were very well received there. They thought it was one of the biggest tours of the year.
We were super well received in Europe, which was amazing for us. We had never been there before.
A LOT of English groups we interview mention you as one of their favorites.
A lot of musicians like us but that's generally been true. We were a musicians' band before we got to be popular.
ARE YOU pretty pleased with the album?
Oh yes. There is a certain thing about when you're dealing with the live stuff, and that is you have to accept what is wrong with it. For that part of it, it made the perfectionist streak in me a bit lacky. It's such a large record I felt that I had to overlook a lot of things. I'm never completely satisfied with anything that we ever do, but I am reasonably satisfied that this is another step in our development and that it is a pretty clear illustration of how we were playing in Europe.
AT ONE time you said you liked your first live album a little better. Is this still true?
Yes. Because I felt that during the second live album we only recorded a few gigs so we didn't have much to choose from and we were stuck with what we had. I was sort of disappointed with a lot of the material we were doing at that time. We didn't get a good enough performance to use on that record so we used more old stuff.
The new album has more new stuff on it. It has either new stuff or stuff we've never recorded.
WHEN IS the release date? October 15?
Around there, but I think it's going to be more like the first of November.
IT SEEMS like every album we pick up has your name on it. It would seem that you spend quite a bit of time on other people's albums.
It's just an illusion. I don't actually spend that much of my life doing it. Each one of those albums represents about two days in the studio, maybe less, sometimes more. It doesn't represent that much amount of accumulated time.
ONE OF the latest examples of this is on the new Tom Fogerty album.
It has a chance for me to play different styles than I normally play.
HOW DID your last concert in the area (Berkeley) go for you?
The four days at the Berkeley Community Theatre weren't our best performances. They could have been a lot better in my opinion. We haven't done a good show around here for quite awhile. Generally speaking, when we play here it's during our off season because when we're touring, we're usually touring the rest of the country.
When we've been working is when we're best. When we did the Berkeley show we hadn't been playing in quite awhile. It was more of a warmup for us for going on the road.
I feel the same way about our concerts as I do about our records. That's part of the thing of keeping on doing it.
THAT'S ONE of the reasons the Grateful Dead has been together so long.
Well, I mean, there is a potential there, which we've hit on and glimpsed in our best moments, but it's not by any means a 100 per cent thing. We don't have any really direct control over it but the possibility of us getting off really well increases.
YOUR POPULARITY is still growing. Do you feel that perhaps this following you have accumulated should have come around sooner?
It's happening right because we've gone through enough things enough of our friends have gone through involving super fame that we've learned how to live with it and how to deal with it so that we can more or less live like normal people. That's the tricky part right there.
DO YOU do a lot of benefits?
Not a lot, I don't do a lot of them but I do more than the group Grateful Dead do. With the Dead our policy is that if we started doing benefits, how are we going to be able to stop? That is one thing and the other is that most of the benefits we have done haven't led to much good. When we do do them it's usually for our friends or somebody that we know personally.
The benefit for us is to be able to give people music, that's a benefit, that's the real benefit that we can provide. Money is just money.
The amount of hassle in setting up a Grateful Dead concert is just too enormous and intimidating.
We don't arrive at decisions by vote, for example. We arrive at decisions by the lowest common denominator. If any one person does not want to do a concert, whether it's a benefit or what, we don't do it.
We put our energy into our own scenes which has made it possible for us to survive all this time. That's where we're at.
DO YOU feel your solo album was a highlight in your career?
It's a nice album. I have never been that attached to my own creations. I enjoyed doing it while I was doing it.
ARE YOU going to do another one soon?
I probably will [do] another one this year. I don't have any specific plans and I don't even know if I really will do one. I enjoyed doing the last one so I figure I will enjoy doing another one.
AREN'T YOU afraid you're going to wear yourself out with all the things you have going on?
I hope I do. I don't like the idea of living a part of my life feeling as though I didn't develop what I could've. I'm that kind of freak. I'm an extremist in that level. There's so much to music and so much for me to learn and so much space ahead of me that I can't even think about wearing myself out.
HOW ABOUT the Fillmore film?
We fought it tooth and nail, every inch of the way.
We didn't play well at all. For that reason alone we didn't want anything to do with it. But Bill was so insistent and it was kind of like we've got an old game with him.
We did want to do the performance but I'm sorry we did it now. It was bad timing for us. We had been in the studio for a month and hadn't played at all. Then we went out and did that cold.
There were a lot of other drawbacks. I was playing a guitar that was weird. It was one I'd never played before. We weren't singing well. We were out of tune.
WHERE WAS your favorite place to play? Did you enjoy playing the Fillmore?
Yes, there is definitely nobody who has it together as a promoter as Bill (Graham) does. He's an excellent producer. When you work for Bill, you're conscious of a lot of stuff that most promoters wouldn't dream of. The guy is really good. Professionally speaking, there is no one who can really touch him.

(by Kathie Staska & George Mangrum, from the "Rock Talk by KG" column, Hayward Daily Review, 12 October 1972)

Thanks to jgmf.blogspot.com

More on the Fillmore film:
And the Tom Fogerty album:

Jun 22, 2015

October 9, 1972: Winterland


I'm not sure whether the Grateful Dead is or are back in town, but whatever the case, dearie, it's time to haul out them rock and roll cliches.
Bill Graham has long been fond of saying that, when they're on, the Dead is the world's greatest rock and roll band. He was at least half right on Monday night at Winterland - the Dead was on. They played for nearly two hours, took 30 minutes off to regroup, then returned for another 120 minutes. Being a mere mortal (Dead buffs are not mere mortals), I vacated the sweltering premises after the first half of the four-hour extravaganza, but I can only assume they got better. True to Dead precedent, the evening was anything but normal, even for Winterland. The only thing that didn't happen was a repeat of the mass freak-out which marked their last stay at Winterland.
Otherwise, business as usual. The evening raised in the neighborhood of $10,000 for the band's roadies (so that they might buy a house, and what other band jumps to mind for giving benefits so that their roadies might buy a house?), and a touch-football game was played on the Winterland floor until 8:15 a.m. It was suitably entitled the Toilet Bowl. The trophy - engraved, of course - need hardly be further described. Graham's home team lost to the roadies, 36-18. He is appealing the outcome. On the basis that he lost.

The evening started appropriately enough: A girl, in disarray and not quite herself, was curled up on the Winterland basement parking lot floor, taking comfort from her attentive beau. This in itself is not of great moment, but they were occupying Bill Graham's parking stall. When the Dead play, apparently, nothing is sacred. Then into the hall, full but not jammed, where Graham associate Jerry Pompili smiled and cooed, "Don't drink anything you haven't opened yourself."
On the stage itself, Noelle Barton, the Dead's house dancer, was doing her rope trick - the rope being her body - and Jerry Garcia regarded his court with a beatific combination of sleepy contentment and total, unwavering concentration. Heavy Water, which has been doing the Winterland gigs of late, flashed its kaleidoscopic light show overhead, the stage was crammed with a motley ranging from the Jefferson Airplane's David Frieberg to Gay Talese, author of "Honor Thy Father," and strange Day-Glo painted beasties roamed unfettered through the night. Some celebrants popped off a string of firecrackers, others teetered merrily in the highest reaches of the upper balconies; bothered neither by acrophobia nor a healthy concern for their own well-being.
It was then, vintage Dead, and unfettered by [the] reserved-seat formality of their four Berkeley Community Theater concerts in late August. Monday night brought their total attendance to some 18,000 in the last seven weeks. They probably could do it again in the next seven.

As for those threatened cliches, well, the band hit 'em all. Lead guitarist Garcia, rhythm guitarist Bob Weir, bassist Phil Lesh, drummer Bill Kreutzmann and new kid piano player Keith Godchaux shook, rattled, rocked and rolled, they boogied and smoked and cooked and trucked, they got it on and got it off, mellowed and laid back, uptight and outasite, whatever that means, and so on and so forth. They moved, is what the Dead did, and not just from point A to point B.
The set - or [the] first half of it - began kind of easy, with the country-rock sound that has predominantly identified their music of the post-"Viola Lee Blues" period. Garcia and Weir split the vocal chores pretty much down the line, integrating their singing flawlessly with the instrumental work, ambling through such as "The Streets of Laredo" like your basic old cow hands. Godchaux's rolling piano, with the feel, if not the technique, of honky-tonk, beautifully complemented matters (as in, How come they never had a piano before?) and his wife, the lovely Mrs. Godchaux, bobbed in now and again to warble a few notes herself.
The crowd, as always, went mildly berserk at every opportunity, throwing their hands into the air like thousands of tiny shrimp waggling in a wading pool.
But it was on the last tune, lasting 20, even 30 minutes, that the Dead outdid itself. It began as an irresistible, underplayed, non-Rolling Stones rocker, striking like a rattlesnake in slow-motion; moved into an extremely complex section of Garcia and Weir entwining each other in molten guitar lines, rolled back and forth from ensemble to solo to duet, dissolved into an area that was almost Pink Floyd, then broke out with long, sweeping lines by Garcia, riding the rhythm section like BART to the end; no crash except from the audience.
There, appropriately, the first half ended. And for once, the audience didn't have to go through the tiresome encore ritual. They knew the Dead return, at least under these circumstances.

(by John Wasserman, from the "On the Town" column, San Francisco Chronicle, 11 October 1972)


Thanks to jgmf.blogspot.com

September 30, 1972: American University, Washington DC


It's over. After several weeks of anticipation, AU was put on the map by the appearance of the Grateful Dead Saturday night. It was quite an evening, and I doubt if it will ever be forgotten. Who can forget the $30,000 it cost? Who can forget the aggravation it caused? Who can forget those who spent two sleepless days and nights on dorm security duty? Who can forget the 25 OD's? Who can forget the way Jan Goldsmith played God with the students' [ -- ] and kept the identity of the band away from those who paid for it?
Granted, AU students need and deserve good concerts and other diversions; after all, how often can one go to the Tavern? However, a band like the Dead simply have no business being at AU. We simply do not have the staff, facilities or physical [ -- ] that are necessary to run the concert properly and ensure the safety of all. True, nothing happened - except 25 OD's - but I feel that we were just lucky this time. Who can say how much longer our luck can hold out? Can we afford to find out?
Even if facilities were not a problem, the cost certainly would be. The Student Union and Goldsmith have a yearly concert budget of $80,000. The Dead cost $30,000. Next month, Chicago is scheduled to appear here for a mere $18,000. That leaves about $32,000 for the seven remaining months of the academic year. To make matters worse, each one of us ended up paying for about 3 outsiders at the Dead concert, since several sources estimate that about 75% of Saturday's crowd were not from AU! I doubt that many of us are willing to foot the bill for the entertainment of the entire metropolitan area. What's more, there is not one good reason why we should.
The people who ran the medical station and provided extra dorm security deserve much more praise than the Dead's uninspired and boring performance. These people, who all served without pay, treated 25 drug overdoses and numerous minor medical problems. It is impossible to tell just how much we owe those who provided extra security in the dorms. Who knows how many rip-offs were averted by their presence? Those of us who were here during [ -- ] know what a living hell those dorms can be when invaded by mobs of outsiders, with little or no extra security on duty.
Most students resent Goldsmith's childish attempts to conceal the band's identity. Our money paid for the group, and we had a right to know who it was immediately after the contract was signed. Of course, Goldsmith will say that this was done for security reasons. If that is true, he and his cohorts had no business bringing a band on campus whose presence might cause security problems of such a magnitude that secrecy was felt necessary.
What is the solution then? Obviously, it is not to cancel all future concerts - we need and enjoy them. However, we were lucky this time because our hastily arranged medical and security facilities somehow worked. We can't take such a chance next time. If "Greatspender" Goldsmith likes to throw around 18 or 30 thousand dollars, let him throw in another thousand for decent security, better medical services, and pay for those who help out. If he continues to be so callous of those who live on campus (he doesn't), and so careless with our thousands of dollars, he should be brought to task by either recall or impeachment.
The creation of the Student Union Board has enabled the students to place the blame for poorly-planned and overpriced concerts right where it belongs. If the Chicago concert is handled in a similar manner, we'll all know where the blame should go.

(by Gary Lipkin, from the American Eagle, 6 October 1972)

* * *

The same issue had a letter to the Eagle from the Washington Free Clinic, explaining why they were not at the concert. An excerpt:

Recently the Washington Free Clinic was asked to handle medical emergencies at the Grateful Dead concert this last Saturday night. We feel that our position warrants an explanation to the community.
For the past three [years] the Washington Free Clinic has continually seen to the health needs of the community; community meaning many things to many people, those interested in alternative health services, students, and so called "freaks." The administration of AU, unlike other area universities, has consistently failed to meet the health needs of its students, whether it be a full time MD, birth control education and prescription, or a 24 hour infirmary. Many of the problems encountered by AU students, such as VD, pregnancies and birth control, have been dealt with here at the Washington Free Clinic. While other schools in DC, such as Howard and GW, have responded to their students' needs, we at the Washington Free Clinic have carried the burden for AU, while our requests for support have only met with strain and struggle from the Student Union Board (SUB). . . .
The SUB concert budget for this year is $80,000. We understand that $30,000 of this went to this concert. $20,000 directly to the Dead, approximately $2500 for security (to protect buildings and grounds) and the rest for miscellaneous items such as a mobile house for the group's comfort (dressing rooms at AU were not adequate), [ -- ] drinks for the Dead at their hotel, special T-shirts for "staff," two limousines with drivers and special treatment for 50 of the Dead's friends. It seems strange that the SUB and the administration had the foresight to budget for all of the above items, while not considering health care until the last minute.
Meanwhile, the health needs of the people were basically ignored. If AU cannot accept the responsibilities accompanying a concert, they should not even attempt it. To do so is irresponsible.
We felt that under the circumstances we could not respond to AU's last minute request. The administration and the SUB knew for at least a week that the concert was definite, yet failed to tell anyone until last Tuesday.
At this point they dumped all health problems on [ -- ], who called us. For the Washington Free Clinic to adequately equip the concert with people and supplies, we would have had to work close to 24 hours a day through Saturday. We felt that our request for a $500 donation was not out of line. Once more, AU expected the Washington Free Clinic to assume responsibility. . . . 


See also: http://www.american.edu/americanmagazine/in-closing/fall2007.cfm

Thanks to jgmf.blogspot.com

September 17, 1972: Baltimore Civic Center, MD


September 17's Grateful Dead concert at the Baltimore Civic Center brought me to a painful conclusion that's been slowly coming for a long time: that rock concerts not only aren't the fun they used to be, but they're practically not worth going to anymore.
As is sometimes the case, it had nothing to do with what was going on onstage. Rather it was what was going on around me in the audience. The Dead are special to me, and I came there to listen to their music, and hopefully to watch them as they played. There were many others there who did not share the same intentions.

An Unsophisticated Audience

My first shocker came as I rode by the front of the Civic Center before the concert. I had been thinking all along that the Dead would attract an older, more sophisticated and more musically oriented audience than would turn up for, say, Alice Cooper or Ten Years After. Wrong. The older, sophisticated, etc., crowd was there, but for every one of them there were three teenyboppers, hanging around after having consumed their fair share of ups, downs, beer, cheap wine, and probably a couple of tubes of airplane glue and a few dirty shoelaces.
Inside it was more of the same. "Hey man, I'm so fucked up I can hardly walk." Congratulations. This handicap somehow didn't prevent a good number of these slezoids from disregarding their own seats and moving en masse to the stage area, blocking aisles and with it the view of the people in the front section. If you weren't obstructed by the aisle inhabitants it was by the people in the front and middle rows who for some reason found it necessary to stand up sometimes on their chairs. Okay, the Dead don't do a big stage number where you've got to see everything, and I could hear their music well enough, so I just sat back and took it all in, as all of my neighbors stood up, even though they still couldn't see the stage. It would be nice to see them, yes, but it wasn't imperative, so I resigned myself to doing without it.

All that was heard were screams

But there was still a problem. Even though the quality of the sound was surprisingly good for the acoustically nightmarish Civic Center, it often became difficult to concentrate on the music. It seems that people wanted to shout, scream, whistle, and fraternize among themselves as the band was playing. Personally, I don't see how someone can be listening to the music and screaming at the same time. If you don't want to listen to the music, fine, but why spoil the enjoyment of others? During one number a couple of teenies behind me were screaming at the top of their decaying lungs what must have been rhinoceros mating calls, and it finally became too much for me. I turned around and suggested that we hear the band instead of them, to which one articulately answered me, "You hear what you want to hear, man, dig it!" Now, while I was certainly grateful to receive these words of wisdom which I had heretofore thought were only available from the lips of a Tibetan wiseman, the explanation somehow wasn't good enough for me.
This crowd also managed to turn audience involvement into a headache. The Dead didn't have to coax them into clapping along as do most bands, but I'm surprised that they didn't ask them to stop clapping along. Their distortion of time was truly a wonder. Not only would they clap along at the most inappropriate parts of songs, but the sound of their far from rhythmic clapping wounded like a series of giant size, toppling dominoes. For some reason, they also insisted on applauding before the ends of songs, such as right as the Dead would finish a song with some beautiful harmony. The crowd would applaud obliviously. Whenever a song appeared like it was about to end, they would applaud.
The final insult came at the end. The Dead played well into three hours, short probably for one of their typical sets, and yet the audience was so ingrained into the whole concert aura that they demanded an encore, which they received.
So what does all this prove, if anything? For one, it shows why most adults avoid rock concerts nowadays. At every concert I attended this summer, I felt like I was the oldest person there, at the ripe old age of 20.
The only concert in recent memory where the audience enjoyed the music, could perfectly see and hear, and was well behaved and civil, was the Joni Mitchell-Jackson Browne concert at Constitution Hall last winter. It was more of an adult crowd, and they could enjoy themselves, communicate to the people on stage that they were enjoying themselves, and still behave themselves.

(by Bruce Rosenstein, from the Eagle, 29 September 1972)


http://deadsources.blogspot.com/2012/09/september-17-1972-baltimore-civic-center.html : another review

Thanks to jgmf.blogspot.com 

Jun 21, 2015

July 18, 1972: Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City NJ


My car had a busted muffler, so my friend Nadine Robinson and I had no way to get to the Dead concert in Jersey City except the Hudson Tubes. Hustling press tickets was one thing - Dead freaks hustle tickets the way other crazy people play chess or collect stamps - but it wouldn't have seemed right, somehow, to taxi to a Dead concert in New Jersey and charge it to Newsday. I'm sure Jerry Garcia would pass off such scruples as the old New York Movesymp moralism - if you can rip off a cab, you rip off a cab, right? - but we took a deep breath and went by tube anyway.
At Journal Square we had trouble finding the bus to Roosevelt Stadium, and we felt a little out-of-place - I in the Dead T-shirt Warners gave me once, Nadine in one of her basement special dresses. We were rescued, though, by a neat young woman with a McGovern button who offered us a ride to the concert. Her name was Anita and she worked for Golden Books. This was her third Dead concert and she was very excited.
There was the predictable hassle at the gate - our names weren't on the list, somebody from some congressman's office wanted six tickets, and so forth - but we got in eventually, which was also predictable. Fortune favors Dead freaks, especially when they work for newspapers. The music was already underway, but there was no rush because there never is. That's not the way the Dead affect people. Nadine and I pushed and excused our way through the crush up front to claim our seats, which were relinquished cheerfully by a couple who immediately occupied the aisle.
The Dead were tuning up and jollity prevailed. The ushers made only token attempts to discourage aisle-milling, and everywhere three and four and five fans crowded into two and  three seats. New marijuana lore: For an effortless direct hit, the informed dope fiend places the lighted end of the joint in his (more often her) mouth and blows smoke directly into some lucky fellow fiend's lungs. Wine futures: Boone's Farm continues solid. The guy in front of me extended his greetings on the basis of our Dead T-shirts,  which were similar. He also had a Dead patch on his jeans. A young woman behind me extended greetings on the basis of our Dead T-shirts, which were identical. Someone had given her hers in Vermont.
We were seated well to the front and side, so that one bank of tie-dyed amplifiers half-hid Jerry Garcia. Pigpen was nowhere to be seen, but Keith Godchaux, the new man, whose piano would continue to cause tuning delays until intermission, was ensconced on the far side of the stage. Garcia played a lick and Bob Weir stepped to the mike and suddenly just about everyone on the field was boogieing on top of his folding chair. It was a new Chuck Berry song, perfected for the Dead - "Promised Land" - the tale of how the po' boy overcomes his tribulations to travel from Norfolk, Va., to Los Angeles, and places a long distance call at the end of his wanderings.
Nadine had been skeptical. Jerry Garcia had suggested in an interview that the downfall of the Haight began when Chester Anderson, a New Yorker, started distributing handbills detailing the underbelly of the hippie scene. A gang rape was Garcia's example, that had really bummed him out, but his bumout couldn't have compared to Nadine's contempt for this sexist creep with his know-nothing vibes. Yet there she was, boogieing on her chair, and as Garcia took one searing, soaring solo after another she said: "You know, he really convinces you. He really makes it real."
The only thing Dead freaks have in common is this passion for making it real. The dope and the music are means to that end, means to feeling the love that our children's children may feel in their everyday life, if they're very lucky. You can check out your fellow celebrants and wonder: "Will you still love me tomorrow?" But tonight's the night, and tonight it's true. In the service of that perception, maybe it's permissible to ignore the seamier contradictions of life in these United States as a matter of principle.
It was hot and humid and we hadn't slept much. Between songs, Nadine would sit down and swear to remain there, even though the air gets a little fetid when you sit surrounded by dancing, sweating bodies. To hell with it, she didn't have to see, she'd just listen. But then Keith Godchaux, who has emerged full-grown as one of the premier pianists in the music, would do something incredible, or his wife Donna, who looks more like a waitress in a truck stop than a chick singer, would come out for "Playing in the Band," or Garcia would sing "Sugaree," and Nadine would get on up again.
Eventually, though, perhaps half an hour into the second set, we felt so wasted that we moved toward the rear. For a while we sat far from the stage in the lower grandstand, and discovered an unsuspected peace there - the same celebration, only cooled out, rested. We missed Pigpen and his blues, though, the music was a little too rockabilly, not enough ground to it, and soon we left. No regrets, no complaints - the celebration was over for us, that was all. Walking around the stadium toward the bus stop, I spotted a Toyota with New York plates and Nadine urged me to run after it. Together with a stockbroker and his girlfriend we rode back to New York City. He told us he'd seen them better and that he was sorry Pigpen had been sick. But he had had a good time, too.

(by Robert Christgau, from Newsday, 30 July 1972)


Jun 19, 2015

Europe '72 Album Reviews


I am convinced that God made the Grateful Dead so that they could be heard in concert. Besides the tremendous amount of music which the Dead plays at a date (usually they will play until they are stopped), the band exudes a laid-back, happy confidence that puts a flame in the soul and a smile on the face; yes it does. The group is a living sense of security and contentment for pop music watchers, and it is probably our most important band still functioning.
This three-record set is the result of the Grateful Dead's European tour last spring. It was recorded in London, Amsterdam, Paris and Copenhagen, and it lacks just over ten minutes of being two full hours of music. The appearance of this album and the Band's Rock of Ages is enough to make 1972 a very good year for live recordings.
First of all, it is exquisitely recorded, with some of the truest fidelity for location recording I have ever heard. Most of the tracks sound like studio material, but there is sometimes the faintest hint of applause at the end of a number. Most of the applause, by the way, has been edited out, so you're not paying to hear the din the Dead gets after each number. As Ralph Gleason commented about the Band LP in these pages, this set is an incredible bargain at your local discount store, just like a real Grateful Dead concert is at your local rock hall.
Most of the 17 tunes included can be found on other Dead albums, but they are treated here with a muscular flexibility that makes them undeniably new performances. The version of "Morning Dew" included here is over ten minutes long; the band takes their time with the number, and the result asserts a new poignancy and taste. It's preceded on the final side by an eight-minute instrumental prelude that sets the slowed-down-and-done-right flavor which permeates the record. You've got "Truckin'" and "China Cat Sunflower" and the like, but you've also got great treatments of Elmore James' "Hurts Me Too" and Hank Williams' "You Win Again" that the Dead make their own property from the first notes.
That's not to say that the Dead don't stand up and rock, either. "One More Saturday Night" is as lively as you'll hear on any Southern truck stop jukebox, and there are riffs of all kinds liberally scattered throughout.
What do you say about the performance? Jerry Garcia is as fully in command of his instrument as anyone in rock. He displays more sheer savvy of the guitar fretboard and its incorporation - but not sublimation - into the rock milieu than anyone I can think of. Garcia, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh and Pigpen are all doing their jobs; not to star, but to form a unit - one of the happiest groups around. Keith Godchaux's piano and Bill Kreutzmann's drums and some vocals by Donna complete the circle; they make a wonderful whole in a field of music that is virtually defined by its fragments.
The obvious comparison is with Live/Dead. While the extended jukin' of that set has something to say for it, I like this one better. It's better-recorded, it has a more generous supply of music, and it approaches the concert effect of the Grateful Dead more precisely. No record album can replace a live appearance by the Dead - but those who can't get enough of this exceptional band will be kept busy for a good little while with this one.

(by Tom Dupree, from Rolling Stone, 4 January 1973)

* * *


The Dead have never ceased to feed off their origins as a performing band in order to avoid the danger of becoming marooned in a studio-based search for recording perfection. From their earliest appearances amidst the chaos of Ken Kesey's acid tests, the band have always used their concerts as a complement to their recordings, extending their range of material and experimenting with the relationships between the band, the audience and the music.
The Dead have already released two live double albums: Live Dead and The Grateful Dead. The earlier album was the best record of the Dead as a magical/experimental band. Track lengths averaged fifteen minutes and the album seemed like one long musical mutation: sci-fi instrumental improvisations became stoned Motown memories became spiritual urban blues became a gospel hymn became a wall of feedback. It was so eclectic and insubstantial it was almost frightening. The Grateful Dead offered us a record of the band as a hard working road show. There were almost too many tracks and ace Dead classics were mixed with forgotten Rolling Stones singles.
Europe '72 is a neat synthesis of these two faces of the band. The tracks average seven or eight minutes and are almost all straightforward songs, but with enough instrumental room to fly around in. 'Truckin',' the best song the Dead have written, is given a whole side of a record: the lyrics come in a thick wedge at the beginning, and then the band play on for a full fifteen minutes more, leaving the images of bad trips and city paranoia far behind as they explore a world of pure sound. The album also shows that in spite of boasting five singers, the Dead don't have one distinctive vocalist, and yet they carry the material off, simply by their instrumental skill and energy. Bob Weir doesn't have as good a shouting voice as McCartney, let alone Little Richard, yet his 'One More Saturday Night' rips along as good as any AM anthem you'll hear to the holiest night of the week. Pigpen doesn't have the power or the depth of a good blues band singer, yet their treatment of Elmore James' 'It Hurts Me Too' is one of the album's high points: they create a really soul-seared momentum through the interplay of Garcia's guitar, Pigpen's mouth harp and Keith Godchaux's piano triplets.
The recording quality is excellent and it's a welcome relief that the applause has been edited out, so that you can listen to the music instead of the occasion. One gripe: I heard a vague rumour that the album was originally titled Europe On $5,000 A Day – now that really would have put it in a league of its own.

(by Mick Gold, from Let It Rock, February 1973)

* * *


I've been to three Grateful Dead concerts in my life, and at each one I fell asleep. Oh, everybody else was pretending to be shimmying to the good vibes, but I know better. They were really just moving around like centipedes so they, too, wouldn't fall asleep. Certainly nothing would be more embarrassing than being caught by your counter-culture buddies sleeping at a Dead concert.
It's a shame, too, that the Dead are such symbols. Already their new triple-decker has outsold itself in record stores all across America. It's as if nobody had the guts, the death-defying nerve, to pronounce this album the dullest thing since the invention of Herbie Mann. You don't attack such sacred symbols, you know – you just let them fade away.
But I ain't about to: THIS ALBUM IS THE BIGGEST BORE... IT'S WORSE THAN NOVOCAINE!! The Grateful Dead have held monopoly for too long, and for no reason. They're much too mellow to get it on, and when they're truckin' it's like Wes Montgomery free jazz castrated. They're total muzak, and hip people just like em because they can float around with the music without having to put any oomph into it. The Grateful Dead are just a bunch of lazy motherfuckers.
I gotta be fair, tho. I mean, Garcia just begs to be assassinated. He stands up there, chugging around like a loose sloth, whipping out a few wrinkly riffs wherever he can fit 'em in, and then posing for several photos in the same breath. Pigpen is usually rammed up his ass, too, and so sometimes Garcia has to dig around in his crack to find the fat turd in time so he can do his favorite stomping soul tune. Yeah, I've seen Pigpen do 'Knock on Wood' with shit on his nose.
It's not that I hate em, tho. I'm just so goddamn tired of them. Hell, I used to own all their fucking albums up until this summer (I got rid of em by trying to hurl em across the mighty Mississippi). I even liked American Beauty for awhile and that first "underground" LP, too, that was such a hit for all those foggy old Downbeat subscribers. But then I heard the Soul Survivors and learned what slamming into the wall was really all about.
So I'm warning you. Stop dead in your tracks. DON'T BUY THIS ALBUM. Chances are everybody and his blue-baby sister already has it anyway, so why join the banana bunch?
You don't need it, besides, cause everything else is on other albums, except maybe 'You Win Again' which features squeaky vocalizing. You can't even drink to it. You can't even smoke dope to it. You can't even shit thru it.
But if somehow you do, if somehow you're so terribly bored you don't even get itchy britches (like maybe your girlfriend is sick with the flu or something), then I guarantee it, schmuck...you won't be able to get it up for three weeks. Yessiree, it's that pacifying.

(by Robot Hull, from Creem, February 1973)

* * *


The Grateful Dead have mellowed. This three-LP recording from their European tour is a testament to that. But all of it isn't their best; much of it (about half) is so mellow it's bland - for that, two stars. But when it's good, it's damn good - and for that, five stars.
Ramble on Rose has some of the best country harmony ever; it is earthy; it has buttermilk in it. But best of all (and worth it all) is the 40-minute evolution of Truckin' through Epilog into Morning Dew - because it is as if the evolution of all the music of the Dead had been synthesized (or rather, quilted) into a definitive and brilliant piece.
Truckin' is rustic rock, bouncing breezily down a dirt road - in the center of London, even. Then Garcia and Weir move out, improvising through each other with everyone listening, abstracting the music further and further, at first rocking it all, then freer with Garcia and Weir alone and introspective. The communion is intimate and the band is gradually and organically involved again; the tension is heightened along an edge of rock rhythm until, after the crest, it is moved into the simple beauty of Morning Dew.
Altogether, that 40-minute piece is the best of their acid and country rock music - not blithely "acid-country/rock," but a whole of the experience of the Grateful Dead in music. Europe must have got off good...

(by Bourne, from Down Beat, 15 March 1973) 

Summer 1972: Bob Weir Interview

Inside Straight on the Dead’s Full House

It is most certainly an understatement to say that the Grateful Dead have come a long way since their days as Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions (later The Warlocks). It’s been eight years, in fact, and along the way they have been immortalized in Tom Wolfe’s book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test; they’ve gained and lost a drummer; had their ex-manager skip town with all the band’s coin; pushed their music to extremes, then back to basics; and, watched their popularity slowly then suddenly grow.
Now the once broke epitome of the “underground” band is a solid rock and roll institution whose massive body of followers are among the most rabid on the scene. That once infrequently encountered weirdo – The Grateful Dead Freak – is now commonplace.
Through all these changes, there have been two constants: the high quality of their music, and Jerry Garcia fronting the band both onstage and in the media. Jerry’s name and the group’s have been married in most minds. However, by design and the natural evolution of things, this constant is beginning to change. Little by little, Bob Weir, the youngest of the Dead’s original lineup, is moving to the forefront. The slim, pony-tailed 24-year-old rhythm guitarist songwriter/vocalist is coming on stronger on stage; he has just released a solo album (Ace) and his songs are beginning to be featured by the band more frequently.
Weir attributes his ascension to Garcia’s desire to take a back seat. “Garcia’s mighty tired of it, I’ll tell you,” he told me.
“Garcia pushes him out there a lot,” his lithe lady, Frankie, added.
“Yeah, he’s like the devil’s pitchfork. ‘You go out there and tell them a story,’” Bob mimicked Garcia.
But, Bob elaborated, his new-found facade of power has done nothing to alter the group’s internal structure. “Well, I can lord it over the band as long as we’re doing a song of mine. By the same token, Garcia lords it over the band when we’re doing a song of his. That’s more or less everybody’s square inch of power. That’s where you get to work out being the Almighty Despot. It’s more or less a tacit agreement. Everybody’s always entitled to an opinion, but the final word rests with the guy who wrote the song.”
But before elaborating on his shift in status, Bob turned to a topic he was especially hot “to get off my chest” – the Dead’s recently completed European tour.
“It was really fun. It was a flash the first time we played to a completely foreign-speaking audience. Our first gig was in London and that was kind of strange to us, but nothing like when we got to Denmark. You plugged in, cranked-up, and said ‘Good Evening’ to the folks. And they looked at you (as if to) say ‘What did they just say?’ You look out there; they’re looking back at you; and, there’s a couple of G.I.’s out there cracking up because they know the problem… Then every once in a while somebody will say (Bob affects a heavy accent), Play ‘Uncle John’s Band’ or something like that, and you know he took his high school English… There’s strictly no bullshit. You play good and the people will enjoy you.
“When we got to London, it was relatively uneventful. We all packed over to our hotel in London, and everybody immediately came down with a cold, cause – I gotta say – there’s no excuse for the weather in England and especially in London. No Englishman will ever disagree with me.” Derek Taylor, Dead Publicist who just happens to be an Englishman and also just happened to be there, nodded.
“It was a blight,” Bob continued. “It was real cold, rainy and miserable. I caught laryngitis the second night of our Wembley concerts. I had the rare opportunity of standing on stage singing a song and physically feeling my voice just go away… Thank God, it was real late in the concert, and I faked it through my last couple of vocals. The crowd didn’t really seem to notice… Well, I mean, I really liked London…the folks, the buildings…the whole mystique, aura, and feeling…that laid-back, really, really conducive to creative vibes there. But the weather is so fuckin’ bad…
“We played two concerts at Wembley, and we figure no one knows who we are. It’s about an 8,000 seat capacity arena… We arrive at this huge, cavernous place, and it was about 45 degrees inside. At 45 degrees, your guitar strings really feel like barbed wire… First off, we notice there’s no way in hell we’re gonna fill this place. Secondly, it’s going to be cold and we’re going to play miserably. Thirdly, the sound was cataclysmically bad in there…like a five-second echo if you clapped your hand… But, well, we’ve got to go through with it. So we started the sound check, and, just magically during the context of the sound check, one by one these parachutes were coming down from the ceiling. The heater was put on full blast… The PA was tuning into the building… The next night when we came back, the place was full; the parachutes (were) all up; and, the sound was beautiful… We really had a good time all night playing, and the audience was just really dynamite…really appreciative, enthusiastic, warm… It really blew my head.”
Two nights later, “We played in Newcastle in a small, 1500-seat capacity theater…and nobody seemed to be at all interested in what we were doing. It was the coldest, stiffest audience I’ve ever played for. We finally managed on the last number to get them up by playing ‘Not Fade Away,’ ‘Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad,’ and built that into our version of monumental rock ‘n roll. If they still aren’t going to come unglued, then we hit them with ‘One More Saturday Nite.’ If they still don’t come unglued, then we go back to the hotel and lick our wounds… We actually didn’t play that poorly, but I’m told that that’s about as responsive as a Newcastle audience ever gets.”
As they swept through Denmark and Germany, the Dead encountered more normal crowd responses and were really only surprised by the facilities.
“We played in a couple of places that the old boy – Hitler – had built. That was weird.” But the hall that really blew the Dead over was the one they played in Frankfort. “A huge place that looks like any other really boss, ultra-modern concert hall you’ve ever seen…nice wood interior, really fine velvet drapes and big plate glass windows. Except that every last thing in that place was made out of plastic. It was unbelievable. It was built by a big plastics firm in Germany, and they gave (it as) a gift to the City of Frankfort… The big velvet drapes – plastic. The big plate glass window – plastic. The wood floors – plastic. Everything was made out of plastic, and you couldn’t tell. It’s just incredible…and it was a good place for a rock ‘n roll concert… Then we went to Paris and that place is crazy. In every respect that New York City is notably crazy, Paris is actually crazier. The people in the shops bitch at each other more. They’re colder to the customers. The people drive more maniacally. And just like we have a pretty good following here in New York City, the Paris audience was every bit the New York audience: just as loud, boisterous, and clamoring… The regular eat-you-alive New York audience, only it was Paris.”
On to Lille: “We got there and our equipment didn’t because some asshole punk – if I may be so blunt – in Paris poured water in the tank of our diesel truck that was to take our equipment there. So the motor seized up – as motors will do with water in the engine – nine kilometers out of Paris. The equipment never made it, and we arrived at the hall to find the stage with no equipment there, but a lot of angry Frenchmen on it.
“The hall was sold out – about a few thousand capacity… We kinda grouped around the promoter while he explained to the folks (over the P.A. system) that there wasn’t going to be a concert tonight – he didn’t think – cause there wasn’t any equipment. Well, Frenchmen being irate Frenchmen will get irate, I guess. And they didn’t take the situation lightly. So we retreated to a backroom and set up a date when we could go play in their park for free. We also invited the press back so we could at least get the word disseminated because we couldn’t talk to the people; they were after our throats.
“There was a lot of fist shaking and a lot of screaming. And they sure did crush forward…they were all around us on stage. We had to form a V to get to the back room and slam the door and lock it. We actually had barricades, chairs up on the doors and all that. Well, the press never did make it back, or if they did, they were a little late because we finally lost our nerve and went out the back window. We climbed down this drainpipe twenty feet to the ground and escaped through the back streets of Lille on a moonless night – kind of chuckling. It was great…a lot of fun. Chicks out the back window. The band out the back window, running for your lives. And, you know, while you’re running for your lives, it’s hard to take it seriously.”
The group then hit England again for an outdoor rock festival which went on despite horrendous weather. Then back to the continent, Amsterdam and Luxemburg: “We played over Radio Luxemburg over all their services with a million and a half watts of power to an audience of between 20 and 40 million people, they tell us… It’s a clear channel all the way to Australia.”
Back to Germany, Munich to be precise, then “the buses went on to Geneva, and a couple of us rented cars and took a side trip through Bavaria and through Austria and Switzerland…Switzerland…an amazing place. It looks like heaven on earth, and the people were really boss. We flew back to London and did four days at the Lyceum ballroom…and then home.
“Actually, we’d probably have played better for all our tastes if we had played more and taken less days off to see Europe. And we would have seen Europe better if we hadn’t been playing. It was a pretty nice combination of both.”
The next Dead album will come out of the tour tapes.
“We’re thinking of a 2- or 3-record set. But we may market it in the form of a two-record set and a single disc with a special package price. That’s one thought that’s occurred to us… It would be selected cuts from our European tour. It was all recorded.”

* * *

Although he’s barely had time to sit back and enjoy his emergence as an outfront Rock Star, Weir expressed general satisfaction with his solo album.
“I’m especially satisfied in the fact that a lot of these songs that were new when we were doing the record – they were just in their infant stages – they were really remarkably apt performances of those songs for that stage of their development. It was really lucky that we got them that good in the studio. We were really starting from scratch then, and it has actually taken us quite a while (since then) to get back to that level of proficiency.”
Ace came about because “nobody else seemed to be on the (studio recording) trip. I approach Garcia, ‘Well, man, you know, I got this and this to do.’ And Phil’s got this (to) do, and he’s working with David Crosby. So, more or less, the unanimous opinion is: ‘Why don’t you just go and do a (solo) studio album.’ I got a lot of material, and I just can’t use all of it for the Grateful Dead. There’s just not room. So I just said, ‘Okay, I’ll just do a solo album,’ I guess.
“I pretty much knew in the back of my mind what would happen. I go and get the time booked and start putting the material together. Everybody gets wind of the fact I got the time booked, and I may be going into the studio. So, one by one, they start coming around, Lesh and Garcia, ‘Hey, man, I hear you got some time booked at Wally Heider’s. Need a bass player? A guitarist? etc., etc.’ It’s kinda like the Tom Sawyer routine with the fence. And I say, ‘Wel-l-l, I wanna be careful and get just the right musicians for the record, you know.’ Of course, I ended up with the Grateful Dead on the record, which I figured upfront. I don’t have any reason to believe anybody else thought it’d be any different. And we had a great time making the record.”
Since ‘One More Saturday Night’ usually closes a Dead concert, it seems curious that ‘Cassidy’ ends the album. “Well, ‘Cassidy’ fell together last. It was the last song we did in the studio. It was the one I left to last. And it seems that after ‘One More Saturday Night,’ you’re all jacked up. At least, ‘One More Saturday Night’ jacks me up. And if you’re all filled up with energy, it seems a nice gesture to me – not to sedate that energy but more to put a finishing touch on it. In my opinion, ‘Cassidy’ is a much more polished song. At least, the vibes I’m trying to put out…the picture I’m trying to paint is a much more mellow sort of thing…which is not to say lazy, laid-back, slow or down, cause it’s a very up song to me.”
‘Cassidy’ seems to be about Neal Cassady – the former Merry Prankster and one of the leading characters in The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test. “It’s two Cassidys… A friend, a lady by the name Eileen, a really boss chick, had no place to stay, and we put her up. She was pregnant and decided she wanted to have a natural child birth. We suggested that she do it at our place.
“While she was having the child, I was sitting out in the other room – the living room – scratching on the ole guitar, and the song just kinda made its presence known. It just all fell together real nicely. I had the song for about a year and a half, and I’d just called it ‘Cassidy’ cause it was born the same day as Cassidy Law, who is named after Neal Cassady.
“So, an old school friend of mine by the name of John Barlow who I’ve been working with – he’s been doing the lyrics with me – also knows the lady Eileen and the child Cassidy. He finally flashed that ‘Yeah, there seems to be a relationship between the song and the kid.’ So, he wrote the song for the child Cassidy. And, while he was doing it, he all of a sudden flashed that he was painting a picture or a story that was being seen through the eyes of Neal Cassady. It seemed like he was telling the story. It was really strange and beautiful the way the whole thing fell together.
“He finished that up about a week before we did the record. I just looked at the words and said ‘Beautiful.’ Thought it was just dynamite and just right. And they were. I just folded (the paper) up, put it in my pocket, and didn’t even attempt to make sure that the words coincided with my melody line. Then the last day that we were recording, I just took the words out of my pocket. I had previously recorded a basic track with my guitar and Billy (Kreutzman) playing the drums. That night I overdubbed a couple of rhythm guitar tracks and a lead track, and threw them all together to make this sort of lush, a bit out of tune, sort of angular sound I wanted… I was working with Donna Godchaux – Keith’s wife – on vocals, and we just went over the song once. I broke out the words, and we looked at em. As I just read them off, I was applying the melody for the first time really, and it all worked perfectly. By the second verse, Donna was singing harmony. So we went over it like that and then went out and recorded it. Then we did a short overlay for the bridge part. And that was the song. The whole thing was relatively effortless.”
Weir feels the Dead’s new pianist, Keith Godchaux, and his vocalist wife Donna are “incredible additions. I don’t know, they must have come straight from heaven. It’ll be a year in August for Keith (in the band), and if we ever get off our lazy asses, we’ll get Donna worked into the group. She sings on a few numbers now, but it’s criminal the way we’ve neglected her talents.”
Also neglected, it seems, were Weir’s songwriting talents. “I had retired for the longest time with ‘Born Cross-Eyed’” (on the Dead’s second album, Anthem of the Sun) “which didn’t come out like I had imagined it. I had it all together in my head, but at that time, I just was not able to convey to a band what it was I wanted to hear. So it was useless for me to write a song. Garcia had been working with bands for a long time, and I was relatively new to it. Garcia knew how to tell a band what he wanted to hear and all that. If you’re writing a song, you have to be able to express yourself to the people you’re working with or you’re never going to get what you want. It’s frustrating.
“Anyway, I just slowly over the years learned how to get stuff out of musicians that I wanted to hear. The way you do that is by learning how to be responsive to other musicians and to find out what they want and give it to them. When you’re learning one, you’re learning the other. Finally, it got to the point where if I wanted to do a song, I could just take it to the band, and we’d have it worked up just like I wanted to hear it. In most cases, a little bit better. So, I started writing songs again.”
Lyricist John Barlow makes his debut on Ace. “Barlow’s an old school friend of mine and a really good writer. He was born, raised, and lives in Wyoming. It seems to be a budding working relationship. I mean, he gives me a lot of shit. He gets on my case and rides me. I live in fear of a telephone ringing because I figure it’s him telling me to get off my ass and write a song. Nonetheless, he’s a really proficient, really good poet. I think it was probably me who told him he was a good poet because he always regarded himself as a prose writer. He’s working on a book now.
“I’ll continue to write with Hunter. Although, Hunter’s mostly busy writing with Garcia and riding his bicycle.”
One of the most obvious influences that show in Weir’s writing is a distinct Spanish flavor. “I took a vacation to Mexico,” he said, “and I can’t get out if it. Once you’ve been down to Mexico, there’s a certain aesthetic you’ll never outlive. Well, maybe I’ll outlive it but it’s just taken a while. It just keeps cropping up. It’s just something that I find pleasant, humorous. There’s something about Mexico that I find really humorous… I really like that particular type of feeling.”
On the album, Weir used strings and horns for the first time on any Dead member family album. “It was about time as far as I’m concerned,” he said firmly. “At one time or another, we’d like to rehearse a brass section and maybe even a string section and do a tour like that. We’ve kicked the idea around, but we’re nowhere near doing it yet.
“We have a chance to play a country & western show in Missouri on a bill with George Jones and Tammy Wynette. There’s a chance. By the time this is printed, we’ll know… I’m really looking forward with eager anticipation and bated breath to play to a redneck audience. I think that’d be a lot of fun. I’d just like to see what they could possibly think about us. Cause, we’ve now played to a hall full of Germans…”
Would the Dead just play their countrified numbers?
“I don’t know. We always do the best we can. We might just say ‘Fuck it’ and do what we always do.”
Frankie: “You have to because you couldn’t just walk in and just try to do your country and western numbers.”
Bob: “We couldn’t do anything like that. ‘And Now, Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Bobby Ace’ or anything like that. They just wouldn’t go for it. I could go down and get a Nudie suit and they still wouldn’t believe it. Garcia has one.”
Frankie: “He doesn’t have the nerve to wear it.”
Bob: “I think I’ll get one anyway.”
Frankie: “Garcia carried it all over Europe.”
Bob: “It’s a real beauty too.”
Frankie: “If it didn’t make it on the bus, he’d scream at his old lady: ‘Where’s the suit? WHERE’S THE SUIT?’”
Bob: “You’ve got to see it. It’ll rot your sides.”
Frankie: “It’s the flashiest, gaudiest suit you’ve ever seen.
“I mean, it’s so gaudy, he didn’t have the nerve… Finally, he got Bobby on the bus one day and said ‘If you get one, I’ll wear mine.’”
Bob: “If I can afford it, I’ll get one.”
Frankie: “Well, it’s very camp, but I’m afraid somebody’d think you guys went over the deep end.”
Bob: “I’m not sure we haven’t. Garcia himself says: ‘It may not be altogether tasty, but it’s FLASH!’”
Frankie: “It’s filled with rhinestones.”
Bob: “…and he got boots with solid silver heels to go with it.”
Everybody continued to yuk it up over Garcia’s Nudie suit, but we finally made it back to the group and their music, particularly the way they spontaneously structure a show.
“We play cues to each other, and depending upon whether or not anybody’s listening or whether anybody cares to second the motion, we’ll go that way. If you can get two on a trip, you generally go there. It can be something we all know or a completely new idea introduced within the context of what we’re doing. If the movement gets adopted, then we can go to a completely new place. Or if somebody introduces a familiar line from an old place – it may be a song or a passage that we’re more or less familiar with – we can go that way.”
Frankie interceded: “They send signals to the audience unconsciously. Honest, in my mind, I don’t think they know that they’re doing it. At one gig, they spent hours and hours laying out a story that I’m sure they weren’t aware they were laying out.”
“Sometimes we know what we’re doing,” Weir affirmed. “Sometimes we’re completely lost in what we’re doing, and maybe it just grabs us and takes us there too… It seems to fall into place a lot to me also. It’s a tenuous art of trying to make format out of chaos, of course. As we get better practiced at it, we can get looser and freer in our associations, and let the music more or less move us in a given direction. Sometimes, if what we’re doing just really wants to go somewhere and the air is just pregnant with it, it’s undeniable, we’ll just go there. On a really good night, it’ll happen a succession of times. No one will even play a cue, yet bang we’re just off.”
Will the Dead play “Alligator” again?
“It’s not a matter of not wanting to. I’ll tell you and this is the honest to God truth, we’ve forgotten the song – how to play it. We dropped it from our repertoire once cause it got tired. Now we’ve just fucking forgot it.”
Yet they continue to egg on the crowd to request it.
Frankie: “They like to hear that guy yelling ‘Alligator.’ That’s a standard joke backstage.”
Bob: “We call him the ‘Alligator Man,’ whoever he is.”
But the Dead did play “Caution (Don’t Stop on Tracks)” at Manhattan’s Academy of Music…
“Well, we tried ‘Caution’ for the first time in a long long time because that part (of Anthem of the Sun) is not so structured, and we can remember pretty much how that one goes. It takes a lot of work to get back into that old stuff. And we’re more interested in the new stuff that we’re trying to work out.
“Pigpen, if health permits, will be coming up with some surprises pretty quickly. His album is still in the future. It’s not a real concrete reality yet. He’s written some very good songs. But as far as I’m concerned, he’s not ready to do an album yet because he’s not going to make the same mistake I did, of not being absolutely ready.
“I left a lot of stuff to chance. I did it purposely… But in Pigpen’s case, it would be pretty much advantageous to really know what he’s going to do… The way I see it, he could do a record best if he did it in a week. I mean, that’s everything – recording the vocals, putting in the brass, etc… If he recorded it in a week, it’d have a spontaneity that Pigpen can just put out.
“Everyone in the Dead had played on (ex-Dead drummer) Mickey Hart’s upcoming album that he’s been putting together over the last year and a half in this studio he has hustled together to his everlasting credit. And, he’s got just about every superstar in the world on it.
“And, we hope to have a surprise for New York City soon.”

* * *

Surprises, surprises… The Dead keep growing and spreading out yet somehow managing to become tighter than ever in performance. The group that originally just thought of themselves as “dormant musicians” who “just wanted to play good enough music to survive and live reasonably comfortably,” as Bob relates, has grown into one of the major rock acts. And now they’re even in the midst of changing the “upfront man.” Their longevity, however, has produced some weird effects.
Frankie: “You can sure see it backstage. Some of those people who’ve always been there are there. Then, all of a sudden, there’s a 13-year-old. A 13-year-old to see the Grateful Dead! And Bobby pointed out the gray hairs.”
Bob: “Yeah, there’s gray hair showing at times for our concerts now.”
Frankie: “It’s gotten really nice.”
Bob: “I’m digging the variety myself. It’s great, man.”
Frankie: “It’s really strange.”
What to expect at a Grateful Dead concert? Anything less than variety and a touch of creative insanity would really be strange.

(by Andy McKale, from Crawdaddy, September 1972)

(Lesh & Weir talk about the Europe '72 tour in 1995.)  

Jun 17, 2015

Spring 1972: Jerry Garcia Interview


This interview with Jerry Garcia was done during the Dead’s recent European tour on a stop in London. One of the first questions the interviewer put to Garcia was about the reason it had taken the Dead so long to make it over to England. Every year, he maintained, one heard rumors…
“Well, that’s true. I think from our side of it it’s been a matter of holding off until I think we were basically unified about going somewhere. In the past it’s been a question of timing – for example we had a European tour kind of sketched out this time last year, but the timing was poor.
“What happened was we’d been out on the road for two months and our plan was to then go to Europe, but we were so exhausted and we were on sort of a downhill…the way things work with our music is that we can only play certain material for so long and then we get bored with what we’re doing.
“It’s important to us to be able to take a break for maybe a month or two, come back to it fresh, rehearse, get new material together – then the music has some vitality. But if we try and play the same material too continually it just starts getting lame, you know, and we start getting bored with it and so forth.
“That’s like an up and down curve, and the last time we were just on the down end of the curve when it came time for a final decision – ‘are we going to go, are we not going to go? Oh, let’s not go because we just don’t feel right.’ It comes down to that we weren’t ready to, I don’t think we were ready to come – not in our own heads.
“That may or may not be a good criterion, but that’s the way it works in our scene. If everybody feels like it, it happens, if not it doesn’t, and this year we’re just really ready…totally ready.”
And “everybody” with the Dead is quite a lot of people.
“Right, right, and all of them are ready too. Because everybody plays an important part, actually, on one level or another, and if any of those levels aren’t quite right for one reason or another, then we can’t really move forward.
“It represents energy lost if we try to, you know what I mean, because we’ll have to go back and fix that thing eventually. So we always wait until it’s really time to do it. That’s what this is about.”
Have you got a lot of new material that you’ll be doing then?
“Well, we have material that’ll be new here, yeah – it’s not new to us, we’ve been playing it for a while, but our material starts to get life after we’ve been playing it for a while, but if we play it too long it loses life.
“There’s a sort of peak optimum, and right now we’re at one of those peaks. We’ve got a lot of brand new material, we have material that’ll be new to…that we’ve never recorded, in fact that’s why we’re recording these tours.”
At Bickershaw you’ll be having a whole day, right? I heard you’d be doing a kind of history of the Dead.
“Well, actually our show is kind of that, in a way, insofar as we try to start on a kind of easy-to-hear level – it works for several reasons that way.
“For one thing it works that we remember how to play, each time, by starting with simple things, moving into more complex things, and then finally after having built a kind of platform, then we sort of jump off it.
“But if we were to start the show jumping off it, most of the audience I don’t think would really be able to follow it, unless they were really Grateful Dead freaks.
“So now we have this sort of continuum, which is good for us and it’s good for the audience because we have a kind of continuity – from off the street to outer space, so to speak.”
And then back again?
“Sometimes, but then sometimes we just hang out there. It’s not so organized. When we go on stage we don’t have a set worked out, we don’t know what we’re going to do, so it’s a combination of us being sensitive to the situation and to the audience, and what material might be appropriate to a given moment. We leave ourselves that kind of flexibility.”
And obviously having a whole day to do it is an advantage…
“Right, that’s why we insist on those long concerts as well, to provide ourselves with enough time to do what we know we can do good.”
How does it work within three or four hours?
“Four hours is good, four or five hours is usually really good. After that it depends.
“Outdoors is a different thing, outdoors there’s just a tremendous amount more energy available, it seems; we’ve sometimes played outdoors for six or seven hours – really ridiculously long times, but there’s a different thing happening there, it’s easier for some reason.”
How would you say the Dead have changed since the early days in San Francisco?
“We’ve had a couple of major changes. I think our first major change from the early days was when we added a second drummer, and that kinda like represents the middle period so to speak.
“You can hear pretty well what the result of that was on Live Dead, in terms of performance, what that meant to our performance. Then, two drummers got to be a musical refinement for the sake of itself, which didn’t really contribute to the music, ultimately.
“It was a good trip, but finally it didn’t really provide enough for two drummers to be doing full time, and be satisfied, so then Mickey went back to doing his Mickey stuff – he’s got a recording studio and things like that – and we went back to a five-man format.
“But, we felt that we needed more music, just more music in the band, so in this last year we picked up Keith, who’s our piano player, and his wife Donna is an excellent singer so she’s been singing some with us too. So those are two changes that are brand new, and that’s made our music change again.
“But I couldn’t really describe, objectively, what’s different about it because to me it seems like we’re playing the same music that we ever were, we’re just playing it better than we ever were.”
Your attitudes, your approach, is the same.
“Yeah, that’s right, it’s basically the same. We’ve gone through different directions in terms of material – the kinds of material that we write – but those just have to do with the kind of life that we experience, it’s just the regular changes that one goes through in the course of a lifetime.
“I don’t see those as fundamental differences in our approach to music. It’s been pretty steady.”
But would you say you’ve kept the same approach as you had maybe in the very early days?
“I would say that we’re considerably more sophisticated and adventurous than we were then, although what we were doing then was far out for those times. I think what we do now is much farther out, and has much more potential.
“Now, it’s a lot like we finally have an instrument that really works well, and now it’s just a matter of us seeing what it’ll do, see how it works.
“Everybody is really on top of it musically – Bob has been writing a lot of good material, Pigpen’s been writing a lot of good songs, and the energy of the piano player and his wife has just been fantastic for us, made it feel really complete.”
But you tend to get the impression from reading articles about San Francisco at that time – you know those articles that all had Grateful Dead-Jefferson Airplane in the same breath all the time…
…that there was a very special kind of community thing about the place and the music.
“Right, but that community thing is much more together now than it ever was in those days. In those days I think it was a matter of like…I think what made it weird for us was that so much attention was focused in the media on the scene, and it was before that scene really was together. It was while the scene was sort of forming, but so much attention got focused on it at that formative stage that it exploded.
“You know, like all kinds of people came to the Haight-Ashbury, and there was a tremendous reaction to that, and the whole thing closed down, and then the political thing came into being, and all these various changes came in, and I think that it was unfortunately misleading that early.”
Misleading for who – for you?
“For everybody. For you, and for me, yeah, and it just put too much energy into too fragile a situation so that the energy was more than the capacity to absorb it, and it just made it just very strange for everybody, but now with five years of maturity on everybody, five years, six years of experience, the thing is much more fruitful and real than it was back then – in my mind.
“It’s less spectacular, and it doesn’t have that fresh – ‘ah, something new!’ – it doesn’t have that early excitement, but it does have something that’s much more…together, that’s the only thing I can think of to describe it.”
It’s like all that bit about “Swinging London”.
“Yeah, there you go – same stuff. Who needs it? But that’s the double edged sword of Media – it can be like tremendously helpful and tremendously destructive, all completely unconsciously and unwilfully.”
Do you think that it was destructive to the San Francisco scene?
“I think it was, just because it created more traffic than the scene could possibly cover. See, what we were doing at the time all had to do with having controllable numbers of people, in the sense of you could feed large numbers of people, but you could only feed so many.
“You could feed 1,000, but you couldn’t feed 20,000, so as soon as there got to be more than traffic could bear, then it was like an ecological upset. So I think that had a lot to do with it certainly – just the fact that so much attention was focused on it before the thing was really ready to cope. And also because we were unable to convince the officials in San Francisco, for example, of what was going to happen, we were unable to make them believe that…‘hey, listen – have you looked at Time magazine?’, you know? You remember that summer, that famous summer of love? That spring we were saying that in the summer there would be more people in the city than the city could possibly hold, there’s going to be more freaks, and what we need is these facilities – we need free clinics, we need doctors here, we need food over here, and stuff like that.
“But they weren’t hearing it, they weren’t able to see it coming, so we just had to stand there and watch this incredible, this fantastic over-flow occur.
“And with more people came that certain percentage of violent types, and all that scene, and pretty soon Haight Street was like an armed camp – at weekends there would be thousands and thousands of people out on the street, and then there would be police at every corner, and finally the riot squad and the National Guard, and all this stuff, just moving in – just because it was mishandled.”
By the city?
“Yeah, and also by us. I mean had we been more perceptive at that time, when we were too young and foolish to be, we would have just not said anything to the Time magazine. We should have said, ‘oh, nothing’s happening here,’ and cooled it for a while. But that’s youthful folly, I suppose.
“But now, a certain amount of what was really, like I said, what was exciting about the freshness and so forth, that part of it is pretty much over, the age of innocence is over, but now it’s gone past it, and it’s gone past the successive chaos and so forth, and now it’s settled into a really good working community of artists and people. It seems pretty satisfying for those of us who are involved in it.
“What was good about the Haight-Ashbury scene was that new consciousness was being investigated, and information was being made known, and I think that’s still going on, but I think it’s generally more now than it was, there’s more substance there, less fantasy.”
What was the effect of all that on you – did it make you withdraw?
“It made us very clannish, and we had just a pure survival struggle for several years – economical and so forth, trying to keep going, which has been basically what we’ve been geared to doing.
“It’s only been in this last year that all of a sudden there’s been more coming to us than we need. So we’ve been able to move energy around a little bit, we’ve been able to solve our own problems. But that was good, because that was what we needed, you know.”
Because it made everything grow up, mature a lot faster.
What decided you to do a solo album?
“Well, basically it was an economic thing because in Marin County, see – I’ve got an old lady, and kids and all that scene at home – and in Marin County there’s not too many houses, and I’ve gone through about three years of renting a beautiful place, when somebody buys it and kicks me out, so I’ve been moving like every six months pretty regularly.
“Finally, my old lady when she was out looking for places to rent found this really lovely house – on the West Coast in Marin, overlooking the ocean, fantastic place. So at that point we decided, let’s buy a house, rather than rent, and buying a house means coming up with a down payment, and then you pay like rent, but you’re eventually owning the place.
“So we decided to do that, and the way to do it, for me, was to borrow 10,000 dollars from Warner Bros. Records.
“And because it was my house, I thought it should be my record – I wouldn’t have felt right about if it had been a Grateful Dead record to pay for my house. It was sort of an extra-curricular activity. And also Ramrod, who’s our main equipment guy, and Kreutzman worked with me on the record, so I gave them each a percentage of it so they had the ability to buy their own place, buy some land or something.
“It’s a matter of being able to move in and get solid, that’s what the record was about for me, really, to be respectable and so forth, which is laughable but…that’s why it ends with wheel and starts with deal – it’s wheeling and dealing to get a house. Basically that’s the truth of it.
“But also there were things that I wanted to do in the recording studio, that I wanted to try, that I didn’t necessarily want to take up space on a Grateful Dead record to do.
“It’s a matter of having something in your head and wanting to be able to manifest it, and recording costs are so prohibitive – 90 dollars an hour is just ridiculous – that you can’t amuse yourself unless you’re really rich.
“So again it’s the thing that Warner Brothers would be willing to pay to let me do that. So I was able to accomplish several things by doing that record, but basically I don’t think of it as being ‘Important’ – you know what I mean? I think that it’s idiosyncratic – here’s this one thing – I don’t intend to follow it with a career as a solo performer or anything like that. I might do another one if I feel a need to say something or to experiment in some direction or another.”
Can I talk a bit about the organisation of the Grateful Dead, because it seems quite unique among most rock bands. You’ve got what, about 40 people with you on this trip?
“Well, we don’t always. This is almost our whole scene, that is to say almost the whole Grateful Dead family, Grateful Dead as a social institution, rather than Grateful Dead as a musical institution. In that world, the band represents the driving motor, so to speak, but the reason that we’re able to play is because everybody does what they can to make it right.
“What we’ve been trying to do is liberate the music industry, or at least our little part of it, by gradually withdrawing from record companies, gradually withdrawing from the whole scene until finally we have control over the whole range of the things we’re doing.
“We have control over our gigs, we have control over our records – all those things. And the way our organisation works is the way I described before – we don’t do anything if somebody doesn’t feel right about it, everybody has to feel right about it, and if somebody doesn’t then we work on another plan.”
Are you going to set up your own label?
“Well, we’re going to try to set up our own record company, but it’s not going to be a record company in the standard sense in that it’s not going to be designed for profit, it’s going to be designed to sell our records in a way compatible with the way we run our scene.
“It would be like families here and there, who would be like distributing our records, selling them.
“The records would be considerably cheaper than regular records in a regular record store – they might not ever be sold in record stores, they might be sold in health food stores and head shops.
“We’re looking to totally break away from that thing, we’re not interested in competing with the rest of the record world, we’re not interested in playing that game at all.
“What we want to do is put out records, control the quality of them so that they’re really good, on good vinyl and so forth, and so that they’re cheap. So our profit margin can be shortened.
“All these things here are dreams, they’re not real yet, we’re just talking about them and putting together information, and trying to find out how possible it is and what we’re going to need to do to try it. But it’s a gamble – hopefully the way we would do it would be the way the underground newspapers are in America, and the way the health food industry now is in the United States.
“That is entirely a head scene – the farmers are heads, the distributors are heads, the whole thing is incredibly healthy for the whole head economy, which is really a sub-economy in the United States, it doesn’t depend on the rest of the straight, American capitalist


(by Steve Peacock, from Rock magazine, 17 July 1972)

Thanks to jgmf.blogspot.com