Oct 29, 2020

October 17, 1970: Music Hall, Cleveland OH

They've got an organist nicknamed "Pig Pen." 
They played background music for the world's foremost heart surgeon, Dr. Christian Barnard. 
So how can you explain the Grateful Dead? 
No matter, they're alive and kicking and they plan to pump some life into this old town tomorrow night at 8 in Music Hall. 
"And it'll be way out! We've never been here before. That's why we're coming," said their road manager Sam Cutler, calling from San Francisco. 
Out? This San Francisco six-pack has been "in" in the wild West for almost six years. There probably has never been a band like them before and probably never will be. 
They are more of a performing band than a recording band, even though they have five albums. They haven't had million-selling singles. Followers translate it like this: "They've never sold out." 
San Franciscans are said to love them. The Grateful Dead may have given more free concerts than any other band in the history of the world. 
This is the group that lived and loved and played their hearts out in the Haight-Ashbury area before flower power. Then boomed and bloomed along with it. 
"They were a part of the whole thing. They were right there before it started," said Cutler. 
Yea, you've guessed it. We couldn't raise any of the Dead. But no matter. Cutler is listed as "Executive Nanny" on the group's Warner Bros. "Workingman's Dead" album. And he's better than a canned release, right? 
"The Grateful Dead have always played music. Not this rock 'n roll teeny stuff, they're real musicians," added Cutler. 
Surprisingly, the Dead's bag hasn't been exactly acid rock. More straightforward blues. They record for Warner Bros. But then how can you label them? 
"The Grateful Dead will be performing by themselves as it is very difficult for any other group to play on the same show," reads the prose from Belkin Productions. Fair enough. 
Any other group would be deadlocked. The Dead have been known to go on for five or six hours. 
"One time at Fillmore East they played 10 hours. Yea, they had to send out for sandwiches. But mostly they [play] about three hours," said Cutler. 
Two weekends ago at San Francisco's Winterland they sold out to 9,000. It was a benefit concert with the Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service. WIXY co-sponsors tomorrow's concert. 
So who are these Dead-beats, if you will excuse the pun. 
The lively lineup: Jerry Garcia, lead guitar and vocals; Bob Weir, rhythm guitar and vocals; Phil Lesh, bass and vocals; Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, drums; and Pig Pen, (Ron McKernan), organ and vocals. 
They're mostly in their late 20's. 
Garcia is the funky-looking one with the black curly hair and beard. A real TV nut. He has done session work on Airplane and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young LP's. 
"He plays guitar all the time. I've even seen him playing at breakfast," said Cutler. 
Weir at one time had the weirdest hairdo in show biz, sort of like overgrown Shredded Wheat, but that's a hard record to keep with all the young talent coming up. Weird is the youngest. He joined at 16. 
"Phil Lesh is the oldest in the group, although I don't think he'd appreciate you mentioning that," thought Cutler. "Lesh took classical violin, I think." 
Mickey Hart is the latest addition. 
"And is his drumming far out. He's played with Hendrix and Basie. And done a lot of studio stuff," said Cutler. The other drummer, Kreutzmann, is more of a swinging type. He has played with the Airplane and Crosby, Stills. 
And that brings us up to "Pig Pen," Yes, you'd have to say that he dresses like an unmade sleeping bag on Skid Row. Is he the leader? 
"No way! He's the least vocal in every sense, the most shy. He used to be a blues guitarist in a jug band with Garcia once," said Cutler. Former Dead men Bill Sommers and Tom Constanten left for other fields. 
The Grateful Dead, friends on and off stage, live within 10 miles of each other in Marin County. They've known each other about 10 years. Three - Hart, Kreutzmann, and Weir - have ranches. Weir's is called "The Rukky Rukky Stud Ranch." 
Garcia lives in a house with Bob Hunter, often called the seventh Grateful Dead. Garcia and Hunter write the material. 
The group's music was used as background on Dr. Barnard's record of a heart transplant explanation. 
Of course with a name like the Grateful Dead there's bound to be some lively confusion. We've already had two phone calls from middle-agers asking if it was some kind of offbeat religious experience. 
Maybe they're right, in a way. 

(by Jane Scott, from the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 16 October 1970) 
Thanks to Dave Davis. 

* * * 

One expected ancient lorgnette-bearing dowagers swathed in mink to sail in on the arms of gentlemen in full evening attire. That is the mood that Music Hall evokes with its ruby plush seats and gilded decor. It was an odd place for Cleveland's first get-together with the notorious Grateful Dead, San Francisco's legendary underground group, who have tried to stay underground, despite minor success. The group was involved with Ken Kesey and his acid tests, they were the first band to live communally, and they are one of the few groups who have survived this long - over five years. 
I must admit I am not a 'Grateful Dead freak,' a particular sort of human being whom, it is said, and I agree, is the only person who can fully appreciate this group, a group that plays for a particular sort of community and not for everyone. My only attempt at meeting minds with them was when I fell in love with the Jefferson Airplane and was wondering if there were anyone else out in San Francisco half so good. There wasn't. My lack of familiarity partly accounts for the fact that I can't mention by name any of the songs they did - you certainly couldn't hear the lyrics. I might feel badly if this were relevant, but it's not. The Dead are not Creedence Clearwater Revival or Blood Sweat and Tears. They are polar opposites of those groups who give you their ten big hits, leave and come back to play their latest hit as an encore. In fact, the Dead are said to have been the first rock group to stretch the limits of the rock song, playing the open-ended pieces that earlier had been heard only in jazz. Of course, this has now become commonplace, and we have heard many "Creams" stifle songs to death by sheer length. I came expecting this to be a strike against the Dead. I'd heard of their long, ambling, pointless playing, the perfect 'acid rock' (if that term means anything at all), noise accessible only to those with outside influence on their brains. 
The Dead surprised me. I had been aware of the changes they've been going through. I've heard "Workingman's Dead," their latest album, with its heavy flavouring of country and rhythm and blues. Their concert smacked heavily of this, with a bit of blues as well, and was far more structured and controlled than I'd expected. Jerry Garcia, leader and often called 'guru,' plays in a style marvelously removed from the little-English-boy-imitating-BB King school. His lines flow less expectedly than that (though there can be beauty in that expectation) and are full of odd rhythms and wide intervals. They bound back and forth while still hanging together perfectly well. 
The voices, including Garcia, second guitarist Bob Weir, 'organist' (and tambourine beater) Ron 'Pigpen' McKernan, and bassist Phil Lesh, are all rough and nasal. The combined effort smacks of Poco, or the Byrds, or Neil Young. Peculiar to the group is its use of two drummers - Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzman. Astonishingly, this really adds something to the group as the two drummers work in counter-points, not in noise competition. Weir's light, smooth guitar work offers Garcia a foil. Lesh's bass lines are rich and enormous, but I'm afraid Pigpen will never be the equal of Marty Balin on tambourine. With all this going on, the group still displays a rather rare clarity, never seeming noisy. 
The first half of the concert, the music half, opened with a bright countryish piece with lyrics about trains and cocaine (yeah, it rhymes!). This was followed by a handful of fairly short songs, going into a brief (!) drum duet full of strange sounds and complex flurrying beats placed over simple rhythms. A rapid pulsing piece full of vital life energy was followed by a nearly traditional blues which sounded somehow startling. Then a very rude country piece (vocals by Pigpen) gave way to a long, twisting, dancing piece that closed that half of the set. One freak was indeed dancing, but he must have had a transistor plugged in his ear. He jerked wildly, alternately stabbing his hands at his armpits and the ceiling. But the balloons floating through the hall seemed sensitive to the rhythms of the music. 
After the intermission, the house lights stayed up and the concert became an 'event,' a community of the sort the Dead are famous for creating. They never went back to their acid background music - the music was secondary to the audience itself, as it packed the aisles, clapped, wiggled, screamed and even snake-danced (though I think that's a rather forced show of spiritedness). It was hard to hear, see, or even breathe, but for musical purposes the concert was over. The Dead were playing to get people out of themselves. 
It ended most strangely. The Dead set off pink firecrackers and left the stage to a tumultuous ovation and finally, compelled to come back, finished with their LATEST (and only) HIT - 'Uncle John's Band.' It was a surrealistic finish to a wild night.
(by Stacey Pantsios, from the Scene (Cleveland), 22 October 1970)

See also: 

Oct 23, 2020

October 16, 1970: Irvine Auditorium, Philadelphia PA

Marijuana in the air. Find your seat before the start. Are the Dead next? Look at the ceiling, will you? Dozens of different mosaics. Has Irvine ever looked so freaky? Shh. Here they come. 
The Grateful Dead, your original San Francisco acid-rock band, formerly mad LSD freaks on the Merry Pranksters dayglo bus, famous for hour-long psychedelic versions of half-hour album cuts, the first band with two drummers, partial inventors of the rock and roll light show, participants in the Haight-Ashbury summer of love, featured in a Life magazine article on hippies. 
Here they are, folks, the fire marshal has asked me to remind you that there is no smoking in Irvine Auditorium. 
A living legend. 
Three thousand cheering fans stand in the aisles, fill up the orchestra pit, crowd the stage, hang from the speakers, dance in the balcony, cavort in the lobby, mob the dressing room, hug their neighbors, pass the joint, gawk at the mosaics, and get ready for two hours of fine rock and roll. 
It took a handful of albums and a half a dozen years for the Dead to become big, national stars. Two weeks ago, it took only one song for the Dead  to convince the audience that they were as good as everyone said. 
Irvine Auditorium, on the Penn campus, was the location, and the excuse for the celebration was Drexel University's Homecoming. The theme of the weekend, according to the Drexel Homecoming Committee, was "Times Are Changing," and the evening proved they certainly were. 
It is very difficult to describe the music. Jerry Garcia's slinky guitar lines changed one song into another. Pigpen sang a funky version of "Turn on Your Love Light" and exploded occasional red smoke bombs for percussive emphasis. Adonis-like Bob Weir played second guitar with outstanding virtuosity, taciturn bassist Phil Lesh laid down a heavy, driving bottom, and dual drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzman beat counter-rhythms on the skins. 
Songs would begin with a familiar hard-rocker ("Not Fade Away" or "Good Lovin'"), dissolve into a spacey break, come back with another song, another break, and, whew! 20 minutes later, the original song. 
Big hits were performed - "Love Light," "St. Stephen," "Dark Star," "Uncle John's Band," "Casey Jones," all the tunes calculated to get the audience screaming, clapping and dancing. 
The Dead played for a little over two hours, a very short set by their standards. They played no acoustics set, and their band-within-a-band, the country New Riders of the Purple Sage, never appeared. Yet everybody left satisfied and emotionally exhausted - even the 2000 fans who payed $5 each to get in. 
The next day, a Penn BMOC told me that the concert "will long be considered the cultural high-water mark of the fall semester." 
He's right, of course. 
It's not every day you get to see a legend and the reality turns out to be better than the fiction.

(by Dennis Wilen, from the Philadelphia Daily News, 29 October 1970) 

Alas, no tape!

October 31, 1971: Ohio Theater, Columbus OH

The Ohio Theater was the happy site of a post-Halloween party Sunday night, with the Grateful Dead and New Riders of the Purple Sage providing musical tricks and treats. 
Many in the more-than-packed house were in costume and the concert induced dancing in the aisles, the orchestra pit, and even the box seats.
The show had been sold out well in advance, but people didn't seem to pay much attention to seats, anyhow. 
The New Riders opened the concert with John Dawson songs and rearranged favorites such as "Hello Marylu" and "Honkeytonk Women." Along with Dawson, David Nelson and David Torbert, Perry Garcia played pedal steel guitar. 
Although the Riders are friends of the Grateful Dead, and Garcia performs with them, they are a group of their own. West Coast Country-Rock would best describe the style of this delightfully new group. 
It's near impossible to describe, define or categorize this group. They are the Grateful Dead, and have been for seven years now - an established, polished, together aggregation. 
So many others have tried in vain to commercialize on what the Dead first laid down. 
Garcia, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, and Keith Godshaux (filling in for Pigpen, who is recuperating from surgery) were simply outstanding. 
Much of the material was new. "Jack's Straw" was particularly effective, and Godshaux provided excellent keyboard - quite noticeable throughout the concert, but especially during "Back to Tennessee." 
As the concert roared to its finale, the lid came off when the Dead worked their way into "Kasey Jones" and completely "psyched" the house with "One More Saturday Night" and "Hand Jive." 
The Grateful Dead have come a long way since their early days in San Francisco, but somehow have been able to evolve within their own style - which is dynamic.
(by Peggy Clark, from the Columbus Dispatch, 1 November 1971) 

Thanks to Dave Davis

Released on Dick's Picks 2.

Oct 17, 2020

October 30, 1971: Taft Auditorium, Cincinnati OH

The Grateful Dead is a musical family. They are not rock stars - rather they are simple folk playing genuine, honest rock and roll. 
The Dead are playing with a sweet country flavor at present. Songs like "Sugar Magnolia" and "Candyman" are a pleasant transition from their earlier pennings. 
But, the Dead are at their optimum (and I like them best) when they freely improvise around a basic rock pattern. They ended their recent set in Cincinnati with an old Crickets tune, "Not Fade Away", and if you were fortunate enough to have a tape of their performance (it was broadcast live and the reproduction was excellent) listen to "Not Fade Away". 
Here the Dead improvise the way they used to. Complex, interwoven passages that border on the cosmic. 
I miss the "Dark Star", "Turn On Your Love Lite" Dead and hope that they are merely going through a stage. 
All the Dead were at the concert with the exception of Pigpen who is ailing with liver and ulcer problems. On the tour Keith Godcheaux is sitting in on keyboards and vocals as a replacement. 
At Taft Auditorium they played a lot of new songs. The Dead are in a constant musical evolution. A song never sounds the same twice and Godcheaux added a distinctive personal touch that was flavorsome indeed - but it wasn't Pigpen. 
A brief word about the audience - DISGUSTING. Between songs and even before songs ended a certain few would bark out their favorite Dead tunes. They got so obnoxious that at one point Garcia said, "Hey, are you trying to play cop?" 
One yokel kept screaming for the Dead to play "Truckin". Garcia once again, "Hey man, you may dig 'Truckin' but what about those who don't?" 
I got to the concert too late to see the Purple Sage and apparently the audience didn't see them either. 
(by Mike Kelly, from the Journal-News, Hamilton OH, 9 November 1971) 
* * * 
Somehow a concert by the Grateful Dead can end up being gloomy. Not even helium-filled balloons with "The Grateful Dead" printed on them could cut through the feeling of depression at Saturday night's concert at Taft Auditorium. 
Perhaps it was the drugs. I had the feeling even the drinking fountain was laced. 
Or maybe it was people's clothes. Both performers and audience could have been dressed in khakis and looked just as cheerful. 
But most of all I think it was the steady, pounding beat of The Grateful Dead. Their performance was sturdy, and well executed, but the music tended to lumber and bear down on the listener. 
The rock group is made up of five men playing three electric guitars, piano and drums. But instead of using the tone colors of the individual instruments, they stick to one basic sound that has neither very much color or originality. 
I wish the whole concert could have been performed by the warm-up group. I have never heard better country music. 
The New Riders of the Purple Sage use three electric guitars, a slide guitar and drums - very close to the Grateful Dead instrumentation. But whereas the Dead were dreary, the New Riders were rhythmically sophisticated, glorious in their mellowness, and thoughtful to the point of having good counterpoint. 
From the tearful "The Last Lonely Eagle" to the rocking "Louisiana Lady" they were original and constantly engaging. The orchestra pit was full of people bouncing up and down in time to their music. 
The concert was an instant sell-out, largely, I guess, due to the Dead's reputation. 
(by Rob Cook, from the Cincinnati Enquirer, 31 October 1971)  

Thanks to Dave Davis.

Oct 14, 2020

October 29, 1971: Allen Theatre, Cleveland OH

BEAT BELKIN  [excerpt
A large amount of criticism directed at the UUSG Concerts Committee has been drifting through the student body in the last few weeks. Generally the complaints have been that 1) our concerts are not featuring big-name groups, and 2) they are not making any money, or breaking even, for that matter. . . . 
The crux of the matter is that we do not have successful concerts because of a promoter named Jules Belkin. . . . [He] has succeeded in destroying one concert last semester and our entire fall program this year. 
[A list follows of Belkin concerts scheduled at the same times as CWRU concerts of less popular bands, which were "financial disasters."] 
[He is] booking the top rock group in the country [the Grateful Dead] for the same night as our Fall Weekend concert featuring "Joy of Cooking." 
The last action was an out-and-out attempt to wipe out the CWRU Concert series. The Grateful Dead will be performing in a smaller hall than Emerson Gym. Belkin is going ahead with this even though he has been offered the use of our gym, which seats several hundred more people and has a lower rent fee. He is obviously more concerned with destroying us than making a large profit on the concert (he always makes a profit). . . . 
We will have to continue to book top-rate talent which is about to blossom and use good planning to break even. An effort must be made to convince the high school students in the area that WNCR [FM radio station], which merely pays lip service to Mr. Belkin, is more concerned with green stuff in the wallet than their musical enjoyment. 
And above all, the students of this university must support their own concerts, or they will continue to buy Cadillacs for Jules Belkin.
(by Kenneth Nagleberg, from the CWRU Observer, 24 September 1971) 
* * *  


Rock concerts are an area of constant anger, frustration, and disappointment. Groups may not show up or they may put on a lousy performance. The criticism for this is usually directed at the producer and not at the groups. 
Recently much criticism has been directed at Belkin Productions for their hand in local concerts. . . . 
Terry Godbolt, chairman of the UUSG Concerts Committee . . . [says] "I'm really interested in finding out why Belkin wants to screw up our homecoming concert. I question his business ethics. 
"Belkin's motivation is to make money; the Concerts Committee is here to provide music for the campus. Since the Concerts Committee doesn't have to make a profit, we can charge less." . . . Godbolt feels that . . . "Belkin is trying to force us out of business." 
[Belkin denies the charges, saying that he sometimes takes a loss on concerts, is not trying to hurt the CWRU committee, and books bands independently before CWRU schedules theirs: "I book my concerts when I can get the hall. There's always a negative feeling about people who book concerts." And touring bands call him first due to his relationships with them: "We get calls before any act will come to Cleveland."] 
The last charge was that Belkin booked the Grateful Dead for the same weekend as CWRU's fall weekend, and that when approached by the concerts committee he would not move the concert to Emerson Gym [from] the Allen Theatre. "Sam Cutler, the road manager of the Dead, came to Cleveland on August 28. At that time he looked at a number of places to hold the concert. One of these places was the Allen Theatre. Cutler decided that the Allen Theatre was perfect. I am presenting this concert not for a profit, because I won't make any, but for the Dead fans in Cleveland. I can't go back and tell the Dead that I am going to move them from the Allen Theatre to a gym." 
Goldbolt said that "Joy of Cooking" who will be here fall weekend was confirmed on July 20, well before the date that Belkin mentioned for the Dead. . . . 
[Roger Abramson, a rival promoter in the area, says:] "One good thing is that [the controversy] has forced the Belkins to promote their concerts at a competitive price... [Belkins' Traffic show for $3.50 is the same price that CWRU is charging for Hot Tuna.] Since most of the groups have already played for Belkin Productions before, they are unwilling to switch." . . . 
It appears that the Belkins are not putting their concerts on the same weekends as others on purpose. Before there were other people doing concerts, the Belkins were promoting concerts almost every weekend. Of course there are going to be conflicts if other people start promoting concerts. 
If people don't like the way Belkin Productions operates then they should stop going to their concerts! The same people who criticize him show up at a lot of Belkin's concerts. . . . 
Could CWRU concerts go through the Belkins? Belkin seems to think so. "We would be glad to promote concerts at CWRU or have a CWRU concert at the Music Hall."

(by Steven Limentani, from the CWRU Observer, 1 October 1971) 

* * * 

[Some arrangement was reached in October, for the student Concerts Committee started selling tickets for the Dead show as part of the Fall Weekend.] 

Fall Weekend this year will feature three days of diverse activities including films, music, theatre, fireworks, and a giant Halloween party. The full schedule of events can be found in the special supplement to the Observer. 
Of major interest are the Friday night concerts. The date is October 29, and the music will be provided by the Grateful Dead at the Allen Theatre and by Joy of Cooking, Leo Kottke, and Joyous Noise at Emerson Gym. 
[Fall weekend ticket prices are $6-7.00 including the Joy of Cooking concert, but only $4-5.00 "if you are going to the Dead concert instead of the Joy of Cooking concert." Tickets provide admittance to all activities.] 
If you are going to the Dead concert, bring your Dead ticket [to have it stamped] when purchasing your Fall Weekend ticket. Tickets are good for all events held during Fall Weekend, and are good for ONE person. . . .
The Grateful Dead concert will begin at 7:30 PM. Buses will go there from the Student Union, and you must be ON THIS BUS by 6:30. Buses will also be coming back from the show. . . . 
[The rest of the article praises Joy of Cooking & Leo Kottke.] 
(by Dan Cook, from the CWRU Observer, 15 October 1971)  

[The Oct. 26 Observer also carried a FALL WEEKEND schedule by Dan Cook, with more details:]

Little needs to be said anymore about the Grateful Dead. They are undoubtedly THE most popular among college students. If you have not heard them live, then by all means make the pilgrimage to the Allen Theatre on the 29th. 
Let it also be known that Terry Godbolt is taking students to the concert only because he is aware of the Dead's popularity. The head of the Concerts Committee is trying to arrange Fall Weekend so that everyone can enjoy themselves and do what interests them the most, so he has hired the buses for the Dead even though the UUSG's concert is the same night. Tickets are $4.50 and can be purchased at the Union. 
If you have heard the Dead before, or if by chance you are not a Dead fan, then the alternative concert should be considered. Three performers are on the bill, and it should be quite an exciting evening of music. . . . 
[More praise for Leo Kottke & Joy of Cooking. Then on Saturday after the football game, "Fanny, an all-girl rock & roll group, will play their hearts out at Adelbert Gym. A light show [by Pig Light Show] will accompany the band."] 

* * * 
[A show preview from the Cleveland alt-weekly The Scene:] 
THE DEAD are the most homespun "local" band in America. At times I think that they'd be happier back in Frisco with familiar faces nodding to familiar tunes. Some of you may remember them as the "communal band" during the "flower in your hair" era in California. Others may be familiar with them as a legendary "bad" bunch of guys spoken of in HAIR ("but not for lack of bread..."). And perhaps most of you don't really know where to put them in terms of categorising; they don't fit anywhere but why should they? 
As of now, The Grateful Dead are a quintet without "the other" drummer (Mickey Hart - several bad scenes with his old man, their manager etc.). Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, and Bill Kreutzmann are all original members and have maintained the basic group through many changes in style. 
Among the various musical adventures pursued by Dead members, THE NEW RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE is the most outstanding. Consisting of John "Marmaduke" Dawson (long time Dead Friend) on vocals, Jerry Garcia on Pedal Steel, Spencer Dryden (ex-Jefferson Airplane drummer), Dave Nelson, and Dave Torbert, this sub-set of The Dead is enjoying great success without any effort to "perform." (Yes, Jack, they do play back porch music.) 
So it is, THE GRATEFUL DEAD and THE NEW RIDERS will play the ALLEN THEATRE on October 29th at 7:30. Tickets are $4.50 in advance and $5.00 the day of the show. WNCR and Belkin Productions are the sponsors.
(by Jim Girard, from the Scene (Cleveland), 21 October 1971) 
* * *

The Grateful Dead have long been an institution in rock music. They were the first underground band to make it big nationally. But this was not an easy road for the band. 
It all started back at the turn of the sixties with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. This was a group of people who had been turned on to acid by Dr. Timothy Leary. They bought buses and struck out cross-country on a mercy mission to the youths of America. 
Whenever they got the urge, the Merry Pranksters would all take up residence in the next town on the road, have a free concert by the Dead, and pass out acid to the crowd. Needless to say, it was a unique experience. 
After the Merry Pranksters disbanded, the Grateful Dead adopted San Francisco as their home. They immediately began to make a name for themselves. They soon became synonymous with the drug movement and were hailed as the prophets of the hip generation. Jerry Garcia was unofficially christened "Captain Trips" by the California freaks. 
With this fantastic local success pushing them onward, they recorded their first album, THE GRATEFUL DEAD. It was a hard driving blues album. Most of the songs are old numbers given new life by the Dead. Side One is a collection of short songs done in a standard arrangement of two verses/solo interlude/last verse. Side Two gets looser. It starts out tight with "Morning Dew" and progresses into the material they used at their free concerts in San Francisco. 
"Viola Lee" is a jam with Garcia wailing away for nine minutes on guitar. A song very similar is "New Minglewood" in that it is a hard rock number based on an old blues progression. These songs prove the statement that Garcia is the fastest guitarist in the U.S., and also pave the way for the next album which is completely experimental. 
With the success of the first album the Dead decided that it was now deemed necessary for a bold, new path to be taken. "ANTHEM OF THE SUN" came out carrying a sound stranger than that of a demented vacuum cleaner. The disc was revolutionary. They attempted to command amplifier feedback and combine it with gongs, cymbals, and synthesizers. The commercial popularity was not nearly so great as that of the previous release. They began to sink into the oblivion that surrounds avant garde bands. 
Seeing that this disaster was approaching quickly, the Dead quickly recorded and released AXAOMOAXA. Although there are still two cuts reminiscent of ANTHEM, the major part of the album is generally straight. Instead of featuring a freaky selection like "Alligator" off ANTHEM, AXAOMOAXA starts the record off with "Saint Steven," one of the best cuts ever recorded by the Grateful Dead. 
It was during the release of this disc that the Dead started touring again. As soon as the tours started, the popularity revived. As a result of this, it was decided to release a live album. And so LIVE DEAD made its entrance into the record stores. 
LIVE DEAD is a very good example of what occurs in a Dead concert. There are short songs and extended jams. Also included are some feedback numbers remaining from the past experiments. It is evident that they are very interested in that form of music, but that they can't sell it. Ergo, there is maybe one song of that type done in concert. 
At this point, the group was blown over by those sweet sounds coming out of Nashville and they immersed themselves in that field. WORKINGMAN'S DEAD was the album and country music was their bag. 
This style continued into AMERICAN BEAUTY. The sound changed slightly to encompass a little more folk and a little less country, but the mood was still there. The most amazing revelation that hits the listeners is that the Grateful Dead are using four part harmonies.

(by Chris Cook, from the CWRU Observer, 26 October 1971) 

[The issue also included articles on Leo Kottke & Joy of Cooking.]

* * * 
. . . Concerts had the spotlight Friday night, with both the Grateful Dead and Joy Wagon shows getting good audience response. The New Riders of the Purple Sage performed with the Dead, and their hour-and-a-half show was every bit as enjoyable as the Dead's three hour gig. 
The Joy Wagon provided an interesting evening too. Biggest hits were the folk sounds of Leo Kottke and Joyous Noise. Kottke was called back four times by the folk-loving crowd. Joy of Cooking played well, but did suffer from the lack of a strong lead instrument. . . . 
(by Dan Cook, from the CWRU Observer, 2 November 1971) 
[Garcia apparently also had time in his Cleveland visit to appear on a radio show on WRUW-FM, the student-run college radio station at CWRU. The WRUW schedule for Thursday, Nov. 4 included "3 pm THE SAME OLD PLACE with Eric Lamm featuring Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead."] 
* * * 


For the country blues and boogie fans, Friday night at the Allen Theatre in downtown Cleveland was the place to be. 
The Grateful Dead played for a packed house until close to 2 a.m., making it one of the liveliest concerts ever to come to the Cleveland area. 
The sold-out concert also was broadcast in its entirety over rock station WNCR-FM, also a first for any major concert. 
The show began at 7:30 p.m. with the back-up group - The New Ryders of the Purple Sage - an offshoot of the Grateful Dead. 
The Ryders played fine soothing country music - a smooth soulful sound. 
Their hits, "Henry" and "Louisiana Lady," were especially notable. 
The five-member group gave a fine display of down-to-earth guitar "picken." 
The Grateful Dead came out on stage about 10 p.m. and continued the country tunes, starting with their old favorite, "Truckin'." 
The five-man group, complete with shorter than usual hair, and button-down-collared shirts, started back in Haight-Ashbury in 1965 when they gave free concerts. 
Led by Jerry Garcia, the group has recently begun a public relations campaign with gimmicks like Grateful Dead Month and "Dead" sweatshirts. 
The Dead sounds are easy going and natural. 
On the whole, the concert was a unique one. 
It had everything - from flames shooting up on the side of the stage, to audience members dancing in the aisles. 
A very worthwhile show to see.
(by Jack Masterson, from the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram, OH, 2 November 1971) 

* * * 
The Grateful Dead were twice as lively last night as any group that ever hit Cleveland. 
Their sold-out Allen Theater concert was broadcast in stereo over progressive rock station WNCR-FM. This was a Cleveland first for any major concert. The group was expected to play until 2 a.m., perhaps another first for a regularly scheduled show. 
"I don't know why other people haven't done this before," said Grateful Dead manager Jon McIntire. "We've done it in six cities. Now we're even planning quadrophonic - that's two FM stations and a live color television broadcast." 
"Pig Pen" (Ron McKernan) was ill and couldn't make it but this concert had just about everything else. Everything from flames shooting up on the stage to rock players in button-down shirts and short hair. 
The San Francisco five-pack came on with the old favorite "Truckin'." Even a Hell's Angel was dancing a few steps in the back of the theater. 
The Grateful Dead got it all started back in Haight-Ashbury in 1965 when they played free concerts. Their audiences have never forgotten those friendly outpourings of friendly music. The group is as natural and easy going as it was in those predrug days. 
"I'm really in it to play happy music," said drummer Bill Kreutzmann, 25. "But when I get up there, I'm so into it I don't see the audience." 
Lead vocalist Jerry Garcia looked like an executioner with his bushy beard. Bob Weir on rhythm guitar had a short soft-blond bob and an ordinary shirt. Sil Lesh on electric bass wore his hair pulled straight back in a pony tail. Keith Godcheaux was Pig Pen's replacement and played piano and organ. 
"I was playing music in a bar when I hooked up with their group," said Keith. 
Beginning the show was a group called The New Riders of the Purple Sage, no relation to Zane Grey. Their country-flavored rock had the audience on its feet demanding two encores. Drummer with the group is Spencer Dryden, formerly with the Jefferson Airplane. 
Garcia of the Dead played steel guitar with the Riders. 
The Hell's Angels had a brief confrontation with police before the concert started. They had parked eight motorcycles in front of the theater in a no parking zone. After a few remarks, they removed the cycles.
(by Jane Scott, from the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 30 October 1971) 
Thanks to Dave Davis. 
* * * 

They changed more dreams of the past...
When I enjoy someone enough and relate to them in any way, I want to talk to them. Sometimes I get lucky and, as in the case of The New Riders of The Purple Sage, can get close enough to express myself. (Last Friday, October 29th - The Dead concert.) 
Sitting in the WNCR lobby, feeling a part of nothing in particular, I waited for whichever members of The New Riders that the Columbia promotion man would bring. I was to sit in on a taping of an interview, plus spend some time just learning how The New Riders' machine works. I was there of my own volition; I simply liked The Riders. 
In strolled Spencer Dryden (drums, ex-Airplane) and John Dawson (vocals, guitar, "Marmaduke") and Marty Mooney from Columbia. The interview itself was rather general, but the post-interview conversation was relaxing and natural. Marmaduke talked about the non-functionality of large concerts and the good atmosphere of small clubs in the Bay Area on The Coast. Spencer shared my respect for James and the Good Brothers and that group's first Lp. And when asked about his old group, Spence said that he and Jerry Garcia have just finished doing some recording with Grace and Paul in California. After a short tour of WNCR's studios, the four of us left for The Keg and Quarter, where they were staying. There was still time before they had to head for The Allen for a soundcheck and last minute adjustments. 
Once in manager John McIntire's room, the quiet and relaxed conversation turned to less musical subjects. Looking out from the fourth floor window, adult bookstores, smokestacks and that ubiquitous dingy air made up the greatest part of the scenery. Smoking an extremely small "pipe" with great intensity while McIntire was calling their office on The Coast, Marmaduke (which is what the group calls him) asked if this was the city of Mayor Stokes. We talked at some length about voting and mayoral black-white alternatives. 
"If two men with very close goals and similar qualifications were running; I think I'd vote for the black man. It's just that there has been too many years of injustice. It should be equalized." Those were his comments, and, for the first time, he didn't attempt to smile; almost realizing the idealism he possessed. He just looked and said "Where did Spencer go?" Indeed, Dryden had quietly left to get a coke, but returned to the room about twenty minutes later with it. 
Jane Scott, of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, came to the door to get itinerary and names of the group members. John McIntire, being rather quaint and amiable, gave her the needed material, then proceeded to call for clients. Marty Mooney was getting restless, and went downstairs to the bar. 
Minutes later, new Dead keyboard man Keith Godcheaux (NOT a replacement for Pig Pen, but a PERMANENT ADDITION) and myself shared an elevator with Spencer and Jane Scott. In the lobby, a group of "familiar faces" were checking in at the desk. I guess we were supposed to be impressed, but Grand Funk seemed neither energetic nor friendly. After all, it's not easy leading a generation (cough! cough!). 
A general knowledge of cross cultural temperaments enabled me to detect a glare in the eyes of other guests observing Grand Funk and Dead-Rider members wandering in the lobby. Silently, they seemed to be saying "Screwin' up da cultcha." With quiet disdain they stared at the other America with which they so obviously contrasted. They knew it wasn't a barber's convention, a fashion show or a circus; so it had to be musicians. 
Aside from feelings of displacement, things were fairly quiet and I thought I should leave. The most vital part of the day was yet to happen. The concert was almost three hours away. 

Coinciding with the WNCR "simulcast," THE NEW RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE stood amidst literally three tons of sound equipment and waited for their cue. When Sam Cutler (Dead road manager and veteran of Altamont and other less salient happenings) announced them, the smell of more than smoke rose to the senses and another show was on its way. 
While Jules Belkin attempted to seat (properly) the persons occupying the front section, a number of Riders' songs were half heard and/or ignored. I honestly doubt if Cleveland will ever get it together enough to have a really harmonious concert. Merle Haggard, Charlie Pride songs and other country standards were passed off with little attentiveness, but a lot of applause - an insult. 
In case any of you read the "PD" review of the concert, allow me to correct some things. They did not do any encores. They played for an hour and forty-five minutes and went down very well. All of their album tunes except "Garden of Eden" were played and the people were often familiar with them. There was clapping to "Glendale Train," and the beautiful "Last Lonely Eagle" left my eyes a bit moist and my throat dry. 
I looked around as Marmaduke sang with restraint; "Where most of the people just think that they're free." Being a desperate song written after a lot of changes (natural and chemical), Marmaduke meant it. Most people were too wrapped up in their own world to notice ("Pass the joint, man."). 
With a change in pace, "Hand Jive" drove them wild. Dave Torbert sang lead and another side of The New Riders was apparent. After showing this harder and more driving side, there was no turning back. To subdue screams of "...get it on, man," they did an unrehearsed and sloppy version of "Honky Tonk Woman." Garcia seemed appalled at the bad taste of the crowd when they stood and yelled for more.
Well, that part of the evening was over and after pleas for an encore, the lights went on and The Riders went off. The Grateful Dead were to appear after two of the three tons were rearranged. They did.
Garcia on guitar, Phil Lesh on bass and Beatle hair cut, Bob Weir on guitar and hair pulled back, new keyboard man Keith Godcheaux and drummer Bill Kreutzmann were doing it right and trying like hell to 'cook.' Pig Pen's songs, which were a large part of their sets, were omitted and more varied things were substituted. They leaned heavily on the new double album material and impromptu techniques to kill the crowd. It worked! Even with all of the confusion and cheering, I don't think The Dead were very impressed or enjoying it like they used to. Completely oblivious to the reality, the audience screamed and absorbed it all; "Truckin'" and flames, 1967 and the noble weed.

Remembering what Marmaduke had told me about Pig Pen, I felt sorry about the whole situation. You see, Ron McKearnen (alias, Pig) had burned himself out touring, drinking and dope. [sic] To the members of the group entourage it was a sad and sorry lesson to learn. I knew that they had changed even more than their music indicated. I don't think we'll ever see any more of those six to eight hour marathon jams they were famous for. And yesterday's gone... 
It was a moving and educational experience that reminded me of too many personal things; the whole day that is. As I left the Allen with my lady, I couldn't help but be glad that it happened. 
Being hit with the news that Duane Allman had been killed, I wondered about the continuous tragedy that always prevails with greatness. 
Yes, I've seen that movie. And as I looked back at the Allen and the PINK FLOYD flyers on the street, I knew that too much of it was so unreal. Yet, for them, Cincinnati and Columbus were only hours away. There was no time for pity. They went their way, we all went ours; as it should be.

(by Jim Girard, from the Scene (Cleveland), 4 November 1971)

Oct 9, 2020

October 1968: The Matrix

If you're going to run a hippie night club, you're going to do it hippie-style, damn the profits, but pay some dues - right? 
Wrong. Or, at least at the outset, owners of the Matrix pushed the profit motive as far as they could. 
But, to their credit, the pursuit was hip all the way from the introductions of the Jefferson Airplane and the Steve Miller Band. through upsets both financial and legal, up to a police bust last October (too noisy) and continuous threats of more shut-downs until the club's owners (new ones, by then) finally threw in the towel in March. 
Today, the Matrix has reopened at its old Marina residence, 3138 Fillmore St. Its owners are freshly prepped on the business side of night club operations and they've soundproofed all four walls with six-and-a-half inches of absorbent fiberglass and sheetrock. 
The walls were amply tested in a pre-opening benefit in June. Big Brother, Steve Miller, the Charlatans, Sandy Bull, and the Santana Blues Band provided sky-high decibels as a newly-acquired rent-a-cop, posted outside, smiled the fuzz away. 
Club owners are Pete Abram and Gary Jackson, a pair of UC Berkeley graduates who took control nine months before it closed last March. Abram had established himself at the club a year earlier with his tape recordings of booked groups, chief among them the Great Society (represented by two vacuous LPs on Columbia) and Canada's Sparrow (now Dunhill Records' successful Steppenwolf). 

Because of the nature of the business, small night clubs have slim chances of succeeding financially. Abram and Jackson are trying out a new idea: To attract top bands, they are offering 95 per cent of the door money to the musicians. Cover charge is $2.50 with a legal capacity of 104. Five per cent of the door goes to the person who handles booking. In a normal night club operation that would leave them only the proceeds from drinks, etc, to pay upkeep and turn a profit. 
They hope to make a profit from recordings of Matrix performances. 
Abram scored substantially last year when Columbia laid out $20,000 for his Great Society tapes, despite the doubtful audio quality of Abram's $200 recorder and $13 mikes. 
Now equipped with a mini-studio setup (Magnacord recorder mixer and a slew of professional mikes), Abram and Jackson plan to make money by selling demonstration tapes to forming groups who need demos for prospective angels (financial backers) and record companies. 
Tapes of groups which are already contracted by recording companies could be sold only by arrangement with the recording company and/or the groups or their agents. Some of these groups might want tapes, however, for their own use. 
Abram is negotiating with a major record label which would provide professional recording equipment in return for the first right of refusal on uncontracted performers. 
Abram and Jackson also hope that the Matrix can again be a springboard for good new bands. 

The original Matrix owners opened in August of 1965 - on the first great tidal wave of "hippies" - with just that in mind. 
"Marty Balin (Jefferson Airplane co-pilot) was a part owner of the club," Abram recalled, "and he was with a folk group, the Town Criers, before the club opened." Early plans called for the Matrix to be just another body exchange - "something like the Drinking Gourd," Abram said. But before the doors opened, Balin and friends plugged in, became the Airplane, and needed only a hangar. The Matrix was it. 
Before long, with the rise of the Haight-Ashbury, the ballroom light show-Oracle-posters-Aquarian Age scene, and [the] continually growing distinction of "The San Francisco Sound," the Matrix was a starting point. 
Among the beginning groups were Blue Cheer, Great Society, Sopwith Camel, Country Joe and the Fish, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Steve Miller, and the Charlatans, not to mention among others, the first local appearances of the Chambers Brothers, the Electric Flag, the Blues Project, and the Doors. 
The full list, without making any kind of understatement, reads like a Who's Who of post-hip rock. 

The club, set amid several niteries in upper Fillmore, in a district zoned for everything from bowling alleys to little old lady residents, soon drew the organized wrath of a trio of LOL's Abram blithely refers to as "the Carrie Nations of Cow Hollow." 
Their complaints about noise were aimed at three or four clubs in the immediate area. The Matrix was the first casualty. A Big Brother appearance was scratched after warning of a big bust from City Hall-paid Big Brothers. Then an actual bust occurred last October during an audition session, with Abram getting a $250 fine plus probation and suspended sentence. 
After that, threats came more regularly than some of the club's best customers. Abram and Jackson closed the room in March. 
Returnees will find a mammoth 6x24 stage where the bar used to be, a beer-and-wine policy, and entertainment bills boasting one headliner, one newer band, and periodic surprise jams. Its first-week bill last month was Steve Miller, Crome Syrcus from Seattle, a guest set by the Anonymous Artists of America, and some jamming by Harvey Mandel (late of Barry Goldberg Reunion and Paul Butterfield Blues Band) and his new group. 
Last Monday, Jerry Garcia, freaky lead guitarist of the Grateful Dead, dropped by to jam with three or four friends, and the club made its usual closed night an admission-free affair. 

One small - but important - irritation: Unless the Matrix gets rich quick, audiences can expect a bum air conditioner. 
It's not Auschwitz-bad, but, as Abram himself said, tongue and a few strands of his long black hair in cheek, "Right now our only problem is getting the wine to the customers before it evaporates."
(by Ben Fong-Torres, from the San Francisco Bay Guardian, 1 November 1968) 
Thanks to jgmf.blogspot.com  
See also: 

Picture caption: In the early days, The Jefferson Airplane at the Matrix. Today, a 24-foot-long stage dominates the left side wall, once a bar. Photo by Jim Marshall
For more early Matrix history, see JGBP & Wiki
For Matrix show lists, see COAU & Examiner listings
And for a glimpse at the pre-'68 Matrix, this news clip of a rehearsal from Feb '67: https://diva.sfsu.edu/collections/sfbatv/bundles/210748

Oct 7, 2020

November 20, 1970: Palestra, University of Rochester, NY

Airplane Drops In

San Francisco's Grateful Dead played to an enthusiastic, near capacity audience in the Palestra two weeks ago. In the longest concert since last year's Buddy Guy-Luther Allison affair, the Dead rocked the Palestra until 3:30 am. And after that people were still screaming for more. 
The Dead first made their appearance on the rock scene in the late sixties, and along with the Jefferson Airplane and the Quicksilver Messenger Service, produced the well-known San Francisco sound. Since then, the group has adopted a more easy-going country style. It is the mixture of these two sounds that makes the Grateful Dead concert the exciting event it is. 
The evening's first set featured the New Riders of the Purple Sage, a group that formed this past spring. The Riders have been touring with the Dead, and feature the latter's Jerry Garcia on pedal steel guitar and Pig Pen on harmonica. Their music is country rock and when they started to get it together, the result was a good, solid, folky sound. They started off innocently enough, though, doing a collection of old standards such as "I Walk the Line," "Why, Oh Why," and "Portland Woman " - good, but nothing any second rate Nashville band couldn't have done. This became apparent during "Lodi," a song made popular by Creedence. It reeked of mediocrity. 
Then the band started to jell, and the feeling that seemed so distant in earlier numbers began to fill the Palestra. The set ended with a stirring rendition of "The Weight" which finally convinced me that someone knows what the words to the song actually mean. 
But even this was just a preview of what was to come. When the Dead finally appeared as a group to do part two of the concert, it was easy to see why they are considered one of today's top rock bands. Together for about six years, they have always been recognized as a fine instrumental group. Recently, they have incorporated three-part vocal harmonies in their sound and have established themselves as a talented vocal group, as well. 
Their selections reached as far back as their first album, from which they did "Cold Rain and Snow." But the bulk of their music came from later compositions, including a number of songs from their latest record, such as "Trucking," "Friend of the Devil," and "Candyman." One of the highlights of the evening was an inspired medley including "Saint Stephan," "Not Fade Away," and an interesting percussion solo featuring Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart. The solo thrived on a variety of rhythms and was able to come off as well as it did because both men seemed so very together. 
The Dead's second set ended with "Casey Jones," and those not high on cocaine were certainly high on something else - the Grateful Dead. But just to add a little icing to the cake, it was announced during intermission that some "friends from 'cross town" were coming down, and people were hugging each other over the prospect of the Jefferson Airplane showing up. 
The Dead returned to do a few more numbers, and by the time they were finishing up with "Uncle John's Band," it became apparent that a jam session really would take place, as Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Cassidy of the Airplane were seen backstage. 
Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir, on guitar, and Phil Lesh on bass, had been outstanding throughout the concert, but their talents were featured to an even greater extent during the ensuing jam. Jack Casady and Grace Slick, who were both present, never did get to perform. 
But by then, nobody really cared. Garcia, Kaukonen, and company were still amazing the UR's rock fanatics and no end was in sight. The session reached its high with "Reelin' and Rockin'," an old favorite, and kept up until early Saturday morning.

(by Jeff Newcorn, from the Campus-Times, University of Rochester, 4 December 1970)