Saturday night the Tea Party was filled to capacity. I didn't expect the turnout, since the Dead aren't played up as much as blues and English groups in Boston. It seems, though, that their few concerts, along with their reputation as one of the original Frisco groups, have been powerful enough to draw a crowd larger than the sellout at the Who concert last spring.
The Dead weren't the sort of group at which one fires questions - few groups are. After hassling them for a few details, I left it open to them to tell me something that they would like people to know. Something they can't say in their music. Jerry Garcia suggested that people save their pennies in protest against the Vietnam [war] which, if done effectively, would indicate mass distaste with the government, and its war policies. To quote Garcia, "tell your friends to tell all their friends to tell all their friends."
According to Garcia, they foresee the eventual union of all blues, rock, and folk performers, whom they hope to record all under one label, without the profiteering influences of executives. Under this plan, each individual musician would be free to produce his record the way he wants to. The Commons, as they call the growing association, already includes the Airplane, It's A Beautiful Day, and Head Lightshow. Whether such a setup as the Dead envision is merely wishful thinking or, in fact, could become a reality remains to be seen.
They themselves have very few of the production problems of other groups, since they engineer their own records completely. Their new album "Live Dead" will be released soon on Warner Brothers, but the Dead hope to record for Atlantic in the near future, as their contract with WB is about to expire.
On stage, the Dead went smoothly, wildly appreciated by the overflow crowd present. With two drummers, two guitars, a bass, an organ, and Pigpen (Ron McKurnett) "lurking," as they put it, the variety of rhythmic overlays, folk, and jazz riffs was amazing. Their ability to assimilate several traditional styles of music, all completely unrelated, was unique among all groups I've seen. They pretty well recreated the acid-rock scene of a couple of years ago, with the help of the Tea Party lighting.
Before their set, they joked about what they call, "Music Store Monsters," musicians who "show off on every guitar in sight," getting feedback and "crappy" sounding fuzz-tone effects on everything. Although they did use some feedback guitar at the end of the night, they were limited and tasteful about it.
Like just about everyone else, the Dead really enjoyed Woodstock. From what I was told, they got just as much sunburn, and just as soaked as everyone else, although Pigpen admitted he really didn't mind the mud at all.
In addition to their musical talent, the Dead are actually highly sophisticated backstage comedians. A soccer game with a roll (unused) of toilet tissue for a ball followed the interview. I only wish I could reveal everything that happened up there...
Backing up the Dead were the Bonza Dog Band, to my mind, the wrong group for three nights at the Tea Party behind the Dead. Bonza would have nothing to do with them offstage, preferring to sit in a room and consume gargantuan quantities of beer. Bonza Dog Band were primarily a put-down of "ancient greasy rock" groups, admittedly influenced by, and owing a lot to the Mothers.
As you can see, the Dead are very much alive, and doing great things in the studio, on stage, and for the music world. Dig what they are doing on their new album, and don't miss these people the next time they are in town.
FLASH!! Watch this paper next week for an exclusive interview with you know WHO.
(by Brian Pecy, from Mass Media, 15 October 1969)
Thanks to jgmf.blogspot.com
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BONZO, GRATEFUL DEAD JOIN TEA PARTY DIN
Comedy, absurdity and satire were mixed with seriousness and slick musicianship when the Bonzo Dog Band shared the bill with The Grateful Dead at The Boston Tea Party.
After a delay because of faulty equipment, The Grateful Dead appeared only to play background music for pantomime artist Joe McCord.
"The Dead" came back in full force later in the evening and played from midnight until about 3 a.m.
Opening and carrying the show were left to the British-based Bonzo Dog Band, that came through forcefully. This six-member troupe communicated and established warmth with the audience by its heavy reliance on the elements of surprise and ad lib.
"Blue Suede Shoes" was the opening number with the lead singer vividly mocking old "Swivel Hips." The act was purposely halted numerous times by loud bangs, at which time the band went into pre-planned frolics.
The strangest instrument the group employed was a theremin inside a plaster foot which produced siren-sounds caused by the distance of an object from it.
Bonzo Dog entertained by relying on the absurdity in music as all members are obsessed with anti-art. It's almost easy to say that they're so bad, they're good. Neil Innes (lead guitarist) said: "We're set up to entertain" -- and that they did.
(by Charles Martin, from the Boston Globe, 9 October 1969)
Alas, no tape!
Thanks to Dave Davis.
See also another review of the Boston Tea Party run: