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)
* * *
THE CONCERT CONTROVERSY - FOUR VIEWS [excerpt]
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 - SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE [excerpt]
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 GRATEFUL DEAD
THE NEW RIDERS
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
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.]
* * *
STUDENTS REST AFTER WEEKEND [excerpt]
. . . 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."]
* * *
GRATEFUL DEAD SPRINGS TO LIFE,
TREATS BLUES FANS TO LIVELY SHOW
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)
* * *
'DEAD' IS LIVELIER THAN OTHERS EVEN WITH 'PIG PEN' MISSING
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...
THE NEW, NEW RIDERS
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)