Sep 20, 2019

October 26, 1971: University of Rochester, NY


A band that emerged from the San Francisco underground to gain perhaps the most devoted and fanatical following in the rock world will perform here Tuesday.
The Grateful Dead will appear at 8:30 p.m. at the University of Rochester Palestra. Appearing with them will be the New Riders of the Purple Sage. The concert is sold out.

(from the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, 23 October 1971)

* * *

Last Night In Review

Even the most fanatical fan of the Grateful Dead (and we all know the Dead fans are most fanatical of all) must have had occasion last night to ask himself, "Why bother?"
More than 3,000 fans were forced to wait several hours in front of the University of Rochester Palestra until the first row of waiters was pinioned against the building wall, and each successive row layered on the next.
The doors finally opened about 9:30 p.m., one hour after the scheduled start of the concert. Some in the audience had been there since 6:30 p.m. WCMF-FM had arranged to broadcast the concert beginning at 9:30 p.m.
Once inside the Palestra, where the breathing was not much better, the New Riders of the Purple Sage immediately began to turn the tide on the audience's lingering annoyance.
The New Riders are not a run-of-the-mill warm-up act, but a completely professional group worthy of top billing.
They spread their gentle countrified sound, very reminiscent of the Grateful Dead, over songs ranging from those of Merle Haggard to the old Ricky Nelson hit "Hello, Marylou."
The resemblance to the Grateful Dead is not purely coincidental, since Jerry Garcia, lead singer and lead guitarist of the Dead, plays the steel guitar quietly in the background for the Riders.
One unsatisfying moment in their performance was a venture into "I Don't Need No Doctor," played and sung proficiently but performed without the instinctive feeling of a great blues band.
When the Grateful Dead made their appearance just before midnight, the level of excellence the New Riders had attained was merely a launching pad.
The Dead has a reputation as one of the greatest performing bands in the world and they deserve it.
The band consists of Garcia, Bob Weir on rhythm guitar, Phil Lesh on bass guitar, Bill Kreutzmann on drums, and Keith Godchaux, filling in last night for organist Ron "Pig Pen" McKernan.
They came running out and into "Bertha," a song written by Garcia and Robert Hunter, who writes many of the Dead's songs. The audience was with them from the start, groups dancing in circles, bouncing, clapping hands over their heads.
The band appears to play with a minimum of frills - no strutting Mick Jagger, no guitar-twirling-smashing Peter Townshend, no drumstick flipping a la Keith Moon.
In fact the only frill was a simulated flamethrower, sending streaks of light in the air.
The Dead is one band that appears to perform without egos out front. Garcia frames some exquisite guitar solos, playing from the side of the stage, barely visible to half the audience.
The Dead's songs are only convenient landmarks for the audience on precise musical journeys into the stratosphere.
A beautiful version of John Phillips' "Me and My Uncle" featured Phil Lesh doing a final vocal. [sic]
The Dead, the one band that could play all night and does, was still going early in the morning.

(by Mark Starr, from the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, 27 October 1971) 

* * *

"ROCNROL"  [excerpt]

First off, a little Grateful Dead news - Due to illness, don't expect to see Pigpen making concert appearances with the Dead for a while. It seems that the laws of nature and human chemistry have finally caught up with Pigpen, and he'll be laid up in the hospital for a little while, recovering from what is said to be serosis of the liver. In his absence the Dead will have someone by the name of Keith Jarron playing organ and piano, but fear not, Pigpen will rejoin the Dead as soon as his recovery is complete.


At 5:30, four hours before the start of the concert, the truck pulled in and a complete sound system was unloaded. As the speakers, amplifiers, and preamplifiers were hauled to the stage, I noticed stickers on all of the crates. They read "Good old Grateful Dead," and for a moment I thought, "Boy, how far from the truth could they be." No more three hour versions of "Dark Star" or "St. Stephen," but rather short, sweet versions of "Me and Bobby McGee" and "Truckin'."
The Dead have changed, there's no denying that, but it was a natural evolution. The San Francisco pioneer group that played a major role in the creation of the Acid Rock scene has now turned to an almost country-western sound.
The guitar genius of Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir and the unique sound of Phil Lesh's bass is still there, but they are much more interwoven, whereas in the early days, ninety minute solos by any of the band was not uncommon.
Tuesday night's four hour set went really well and the Dead did a large selection of songs, ranging from cuts from their two newest albums, "American Beauty" and "Grateful Dead Live," to an old Rick Nelson favorite, "Hello Mary Lou, Goodbye Love." The appreciative audience applauded every number.
At the end of the concert, the crowd showed their thanks, content to leave with a head full of sweet Dead sounds.
Earlier in the evening, while backstage, I saw Guru Garcia open a piece of foil, swallow, take a drink of water, and smile. Maybe those stickers weren't so wrong after all. 

(both articles from the Stylus, SUNY Brockport, 2 November 1971)

* * *


I just sat down, turned on the radio, and was sadly greeted by news of the death of Duane Allman. A few years ago death in the music world came very unexpectedly, all being isolated incidents. This is no longer the case. There are reasons for Brian Jones, Jimi, Janis, Alan Wilson, and the all but physical death of Johnny Winter. And one reason might be the continuous pressure that we the audience place on these people? Well, it's something to think about!
All this leads me to the apparent musical stagnation of the Grateful Dead. Let me first explain to you what the Grateful Dead meant to me before last Tuesday, and what they mean to me now. For the past few years, there had been very few things that meant more to me: a few family members, a friend or two, my girlfriend. That was about it. My love for the Dead had even surpassed my love for the San Francisco Giants, a group of people I had lived and died with for 11 years.
I loved them for two reasons, one being that they played the fucking best rock music ever. As Lenny Kaye said in his review of Live Dead: "The Dead is five years ahead of any rock band. They play music other groups don't even know exist." Secondly, I found their attitudes beautiful. They played their music and if you couldn't dig it, that was no reason for them to compromise themselves or their music. As Garcia once said, "On our first tour, people were constantly walking out. But the people who liked us came back every night."
Then a strange thing happened (or should I use "inevitable") and the great masses discovered the Dead. As the crowds got larger and larger, some changes began to occur in their music. Those legendary all-night jams began to shorten, their acoustic sets were stopped, and since the new Dead freaks were those who were purchasing Workingman's Dead and American Beauty, a Dead concert was now designed to please that new audience. The Dead were true blue and indeed gave them what they wanted to hear - spotlight on "Uncle John's Band" and "Truckin." It's a helluva lot easier to just repeat the chorus to "Casey Jones" over and over again than to work and attempt to achieve a musical high like in "Viola Lee Blues" or "Dark Star." I guess that's it in a nutshell.
The high point of a Dead concert used to be musical, but it is no longer that. A Dead concert used to be a reinforcement of life, an affirmation of an alternative lifestyle. Now it's just a temporary alleviation from the monotony and sordidness of our lives. It is not so different from the way our parents use the once every three months bar mitzvah or wedding to forget how much it takes to go on. The point of all this being that the Dead are now able to satisfy their audience with just a trifle of what they are capable of.

So I found myself in Rochester last week, hoping that I would find the band that has given me so much pleasure in the past. But even before the show began I received news that Pigpen was in the hospital with cirrhosis of the liver. I had enough doubts about the show to begin with, and this news just made it that much worse.
Once inside the gym, I found myself right in front of the stage, maybe two feet away from Sam Cutler who promptly introduced the Riders. They seem to be shifting their sound from strictly country to include funkier material. This is evidenced by Marmaduke's shift to electric guitar, and bassist Dave Torbert doing two or three lead vocals. His songs were all hand-clapping, ass-shaking tunes. Anyway, the Riders put on one fine show. Their set included many cuts from their album, with great renditions of "Last Lonely Eagle" and "Henry," which Marmaduke dedicated to "anyone who has ever made a living by smuggling dope."
The stage was now set for the Dead, and it was the first time I was ever apprehensive before seeing a band. And my apprehension became even more real before they played a note. The stage was inundated by at least ten men wearing Grateful Dead skull shirts. And when I looked up at the gym backboard, I saw about five more skull stickers. And on the drums and everywhere else I looked all I saw was the ominous "skull." And then I realized what had happened, this really was The Grateful Dead Show, just like it had said on the ticket.
"The hottest rock & roll band this side of New York City," said Sam Cutler and the Dead broke into "Bertha." And then "Playing in the Band, Big Railroad Blues, Me and My Uncle," and "Me and Bobby McGee." I never saw a greater album push in my life. I wouldn't even have minded so much, but I was hearing the exact replica of the album, note for note. Absolutely no spontaneity, and spontaneity was what the Dead used to be all about.
And not only was their music lacking but their attitude was also. I've never seen anyone more bored than Bill Kreutzmann was that night. My mind wandered back to before the show when Phil Lesh had refused to give me a backstage pass because, in his words, "These passes are for beautiful chicks," and he proceeded to give them to three girls who happened to be wandering by.
Then came "Sugar Magnolia," and I told my friend to watch as Phil Lesh shoots his arms into the air at the end of the break. The end of the break came, up went Phil's arm, and my friend stared at me in disbelief. It had all become so contrived!
When it was over, I spoke to their manager and expressed my great disappointment in what I had just seen. His reply was: "We think there is something for everyone in our show now." I said to myself, "Yeah, for me and many other longtime Dead people there was about five minutes tonight where the Dead forgot about pleasing the masses and got down to playing." When they did that I knew they were still the best musicians around, not that there was any doubt about that.
It is evident that they've decided to take the easier path. But can we really blame them? They're only human, and so now that they've finally made it they're cashing in on it. No different than anyone else, right? Or mostly anyone else anyway. My only hope is that when things get a little less hectic, the Dead can once again settle down to the business of making great music, instead of the business of making money. That the Grateful Dead Show will deteriorate into the just plain old Grateful Dead. For now I'll content myself with recordings of what used to be and sit back and hope it can be again.

(by Terry Bromberg & Jesse Levine, from the Spectrum, University at Buffalo, 5 November 1971)

Thanks to Dave Davis


* * *
Concert Post-Mortem 
The man who ran the concert said
Here is your ticket. I want you to review the Grateful Dead because I like you. You are the finest reviewer of rock and roll the Campus Times has ever had. There is nothing I like better than a good rock and roll review.  [ . . . ]
The administrative gent said 
Do you like music? I like music very much. My kids listen to rock and roll music all the time. I can't tell the difference between the groups. I find it monotonous. I much prefer the big bands. You don't like that kind of music, do you? 

I said 
Sir, my parents loved the big bands. I was raised with the big bands, and a big band boy I'll stay. Just give me Doris Day with Les Brown and his Band of Renown and I'm happy. I own a large collection of big band records. Do you like me? I hope so. 

My father said 
What do you want to see the Grateful Dead for? You've seen them five times already, haven't you? They're still the same people, aren't they? What do you do at those concerts, anyway? Why aren't you still writing for the Campus Times? What did you do with my collection of big band records? 

The freak in front of the Palestra said 
I saw the Dead last night in Buffalo. I will see them tomorrow night in Syracuse. What I'm doing is, I'm following the Dead around the East. I think Garcia recognizes me. Last week he took a toke on a joint I offered him. I like the Dead because they're real. You got a spare ticket?  [ . . . ] 

The mob said 
This waiting in front of the Palestra for three hours is for the birds. Who do the Grateful Dead think we think they are? Culture heroes? Are those windows open? They're not? Let's find some rocks and throw them at the glass, thereby shattering it and providing the counter-culture with an alternative means of entry. That will pass the time.  [ . . . ] 

The man who does the lights is reported to have said 
I enjoy doing the lights. It allows me a clinical perspective on rock concert crowds. I can get drunk and watch them walk over one another. They're a bunch of fucking assholes. 

The mad chemist said 
Have you read The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test? I have. I am contemplating providing that book with another objective correlative. I have in my hand a jug of orange juice. I have in my other hand a modicum of powdery pre-sweetened LSD. What do you imagine will happen if I put the powdery pre-sweetened LSD in the orange juice, and distributed the concoction liberally in front of the stage? It is the duty of the scientist to find such things out. 

The humanist said 
Are you thinking of going to the concert? The crowd seemed very ugly indeed. Why don't we listen to it on the radio? As we sit, let's consider rationally the merits and demerits of attending the concert. There is a rumor that they are going to play until classes begin. 

Ten minutes later, the humanist said 
Let's sing along with 'Me and Bobby McGee!' 

The cynical rock fan said 
This concert sucks. Sam Cutler gave me a fifty dollar bill and said to buy beer for the band. I bought beer for the band. Did you use your ticket? You could have gotten in free, you know. What can you write about the Grateful Dead, anyway? 

I said 
I feel perverse this evening. I think I will write a review of the Grateful Dead concert that completely avoids saying anything about the Grateful Dead. My friends don't even care what I say about the Grateful Dead. The two and a half hours I saw were very good, especially the Band record they played at intermission. But that's my opinion. So here's a space 

for you to fill with good things for later.

(by Daniel Smirlock, from the Campus Times, U of Rochester, 29 October 1971) 

Released on Download Series vol. 3.

Sep 19, 2019

October 21, 1971: Auditorium Theater, Chicago IL


The Grateful Dead, whose four-hour concerts here last August loomed large among the summer's more welcome musical experiences, returned to the Auditorium Theater last night for more of the same.
Alas, all of them did not make the trip. Ron McKernan, better known for obvious reasons as Pig Pen, is in the hospital with cirrhosis of the liver and was replaced by a keyboard man who could fill his place but not quite his boots. Other than that, things were about the same as they've been every time I've seen the Dead perform - relaxed, yet very much together, with the high points outweighing the times long instrumental segments slip into dullness.
With the Dead came the New Riders of the Purple Sage, a group that - like the Dead - combine country and western with good ol' rock 'n' roll. Jerry Garcia, lead guitarist and vocalist for the Dead, doubles as a New Rider on pedal steel, and to him goes a lot of the credit for the group's sound.
Like their name implies, the NRPS lean most toward country, their material dealing in such things as the "Last Lonely Eagle" or a "Louisiana Lady," with the rock 'n roll thrown in for a change of pace. Last night they got some sparks going with "Willie and the Hand Jive," and maybe they should have done more in that vein. While good enough, their set, particularly at first, wasn't that outstanding - and certainly not as much as their new album, "New Riders of the Purple Sage" had me expecting it might be. Still, they're worth hearing - if only for Garcia's pedal steel work (and there's more to them than that).
A second performance will be held tonight, but it's already sold out. If you don't have a ticket, tho, take heart - the whole thing's being broadcast live over WGLD, beginning at 7:30.

(by Lynn Van Matre, from the Chicago Tribune, 22 October 1971)

* * *


What do musicians learn in two months?
The Grateful Dead played the Auditorium Aug. 23 and 24, so why would they come back, as they did Thursday night, and repeat?
Well, it turned out there was no need to question. For four hours, it was a new concert. I left at an intermission in the Dead's set to meet a deadline, but the Dead crew said the group would do the old numbers in the second half of their set.
The first new thing about the concert was the New Riders of the Purple Sage, which wasn't along last time. Composed of Dead man Jerry Garcia and four friends, the New Riders play a weird kind of country rock, with most of the pleasant songs written and sung by John Dawson.
The vocals are an important element in the New Riders' music, but the PA speakers were aimed badly for those in the front rows, so Dawson's nice lyrics were lost, although the occasional harmony sounded fine. What came through beautifully were the lead guitar of Dave Nelson and Garcia's pedal steel guitar.
Garcia is the showman, starting off badly on a solo but working at it until it turns into something to clap about. But Nelson is taste personified; he acts so insignificant onstage that it's hard to hear all the wonderful little things he's doing unless you close your eyes.
Rounding out the band are ex-Jefferson Airplane drummer Spencer Dryden, unawed by Dawson's simple-complicated numbers, and similarly flexible bassist Dave Torbert. They can get the crowd going with "Willie and the Hand Jive" and "Honky Tonk Women," but the real measure of the group is on unusual numbers like "Louisiana Lady" and "Lost Lonely Eagle."

As for the Dead, the first difference was the absence of Pigpen. Replacing the organist, who's just out of the hospital after treatment for a perforated ulcer, was Keith Godchaux, who plays a hot piano in addition to organ.
The Dead had been rehearsing a whole new set with Godchaux the last month, and Thursday night they played most of them. They show the group is once again changing, this time from the mellow music of their last few albums to classical rock.
Most of the numbers were in between, retaining the country-rock touch, but with more drive and energy. But the final number before intermission, "One More Saturday Night," was straight out of the Elvis-Little Richard-Jerry Lee Lewis songbook. The audience went crazy, turning up the chair seats and dancing in their places and in the aisles.
The Dead started playing their mellow, listening music at a time when audiences wanted to sit down and concentrate. Now it seems that many rock concertgoers can't wait to stand up and jump, and the Dead are into body music again. Could it be a revival for dance halls? 

(by Al Rudis, from the Chicago Sun-Times, 23 October 1971) 

Thanks to Dave Davis.

10/22 & part of 10/21/71 were released on Dave's Picks 3.

See also reviews of the 8/23/71 Chicago show: 

Sep 18, 2019

October 19, 1971: Northrop Auditorium, Minneapolis MN


John Pete was sweating, standing there on the stage of Northrop Auditorium Tuesday afternoon. Tuesday evening was the Grateful Dead-New Riders of the Purple Sage concert which KQRS radio, the station of which Pete is the program director, was going to broadcast live on FM stereo radio.
Pete was in shock because it was 3 p.m. and the group's equipment had yet to arrive. One hundred and fifty pieces of equipment, $100,000 worth, were still at the airport.
Pete had been working on this concert for the past five weeks. Minneapolis was the first stop in a nine-city tour for the Dead-New Riders entourage, which includes, along with the aforementioned hardware, 22 people to do things with it.
All their concerts are sell-outs, and the Dead wanted to be sure that everyone who wanted to could hear the music. The broadcast was set-up with the Dead, KQRS, and Warner Bros. and Columbia Records. It would be broadcast straight through, for five (or, as it turned out, six) hours with no commercial interruptions, the time being paid for by Warners and Columbia, for whom the Dead and the New Riders record, respectively.
The last needed piece was found and set up at 6:55 p.m.; the concert was to begin at 7:30. But the New Riders of the Purple Sage came on at 7 to play a couple of songs to test the broadcasting lines.
Pete was on the phone to the radio station, telling them to "Go! Go!" as the New Riders swung into an hour and a half set of country rock,
The New Riders were led by John "Marmaduke" Dawson, who writes all of the material and sing lead. He looks the improbable cowboy: slight, wide-eyed, an elf in country-western clothes. His music is lush, sweet country, songs that tell of the mournful cowpoke.
Foundations were laid for the Dead by Jerry Garcia, who played pedal steel guitar with the New Riders.
After a short break, the Dead came on for the first of two two-hour sets. Things were going off without a hitch. John Pete was beginning to look victorious. And then there came the Dead.
There is no other band in the world who can do what the Dead do to a crowd. They are all near-virtuosos on their instruments and they don't stop at being good. Or even at being better. 
The Dead's whole trip seems to be shifting emphasis. They seem to be out of the whole period that began with their association with Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters. Their music then was just wildly innovative energy music that enchanted audiences with its mind-rending power.
Now they've mellowed out a little. Oh, the power is still there, but an even more cerebral quality is present now that grabs the mind totally.
The second set was the high energy stuff that musical dreams are made of. They did "That's It for the Other One," featuring an excellent drum solo by Bill Kreutzman, "Truckin," "Sugar Magnolia," "Uncle John's Band," then jammed into an incredible version of the old Rolling Stones hit, "Not Fade Away." They played for close to four hours, building the sound and the levels of the songs.
The radio broadcast went perfectly. Backstage, Pete relaxed and said, "If you asked me now if I'd do another one of these broadcasts, I'd say no. Ask me tomorrow morning and I'd probably say, "Well, who's coming to town that we can broadcast?"

Marshall Fine is a senior in journalism at the University of Minnesota and a freelance critic of popular music.

(by Marshall Fine, from the Minneapolis Star, 20 October 1971)