May 31, 2010

April 1970

(First off, apologies for not posting in a month. I would have liked to post more often, but it isn't always possible.)

Continuing our trip through 1970....
http://deadessays.blogspot.com/2010/02/february-1970.html
http://deadessays.blogspot.com/2010/04/march-1970.html
The Dead didn't play many shows in April 1970, but as usual for the year, we are still missing several shows. Although they were taped, many reels were haphazardly lost or stolen - as a result, two of the Dark Stars of this month, and one of the only Alligator>Cautions of 1970, are gone.

4/3/70

This evening found the Dead playing a show at the University of Cincinnati. Our tape is a muffled, bassy, buzzing mono recording - the show itself is pretty standard, but the highlights would shine more in better quality. (Some of it has been played on the Taper's Section, though.) The opening acts were the Lemon Pipers, and Ken Kesey & the Merry Pranksters....I'm in some doubt as to what kind of show the Pranksters put on! But they must have been welcome company for the Dead.
Lesh grumpily announces after the opening Casey Jones: "We have a little TROUBLE with the MONITORS, because they're NOT on." China>Rider, as usual, has only a brief transition jam. In Hard to Handle, Garcia's solo is also brief, cut short when Pigpen jumps back in! Things open up with Dancin' in the Streets. (Weir announces it: "This one is a drummer's choice.") The jam gallops along, and includes a nice Tighten Up theme.
After Me & My Uncle, Weir says, "We're gonna take a brief pause here and set up the stage so we can sit down and play some acoustic guitars and play some nice quiet music for all you people." The acoustic set starts with a good, speedy Friend of the Devil (still including some alternate lyrics). Garcia asks, "Can you hear out there? Can you bring up the monitors a little, Bob? The drummers are having a hard time hearing up here. Do we have a monitor adjustment crew?"
The acoustic set is high-spirited - one thing I didn't notice in previous acoustic sets is that there's now light drumming throughout, and very quiet bass, a setup we'll hear in all the sets this month. And in a trend that would continue through the month, almost every acoustic song is Garcia's - not one Weir song! (There is a nice Wake Up Little Susie.) This set also features the first Candyman, freshly composed with unfinished lyrics - Garcia sings one wordless verse, "la da da." To end the set, Sam Cutler says, "Hot welcome for Pigpen!" Pigpen and Cutler take quite a while trying to get the guitar mic turned on. A Pigpen sample: "I got weak fingers, so it's got to be kind of close... Is this guitar coming through the PA at all? I can't hear shit. Well, I'll fake it... I forgot the song..." Once things are resolved, Pigpen delivers Katie Mae. (Note that the linked copy is missing the long intro, but it's on the other Archive copy.)
The electric set resumes with more Pigpen. Most of the Good Lovin' verses are cut on the tape - the band comes back early in the drum solo, but the promising jam is very short, soon stifled when Lesh starts up the Good Lovin' riff after only a couple minutes.
The Other One suite, as you'd expect, is the highlight of the show. The Cryptical intro gives way to a long, tumbling drum solo, which drops into a rapid, pell-mell Other One. This version rushes along with a mean, dirty feeling, Garcia turning up the fierceness. The Cryptical reprise quietly ambles a while in a relaxing trance - until the last "you know he had to die", when it bursts open in a raging flood that soon subsides. Garcia keeps it short, and segues into a solid Cosmic Charlie. Rather than ending there, they make a unique segue into a short, quick Not Fade Away. This isn't extended very much - Garcia seems like he's about to take the band into a nice mellow jam, but nothing much happens, so they head into Lovelight.
Lovelight's OK - it's also kept short, they skip the usual extended rap. (I wonder, even though the show is over two hours, were they rushing to meet a time limit, or in a hurry to get backstage with the Pranksters?)
http://www.archive.org/details/gd70-04-03.sbd.cotsman.4283.sbefail.shnf

The Fillmore West run from April 9-12 is famous as the run where the Miles Davis band opened for the Dead. I've talked about that elsewhere (mainly in the "Dead and Jazz" post), but will focus just on the Dead's music here. Sadly, we only have about half of the music they played. David Lemieux notes, "Most of the tapes from this run are missing from the vault....there are only about six total reels from the four nights."
Fortunately audience tapers showed up on two of those nights, but their efforts were not enough - the 10th and 11th have pretty much vanished.

4/9/70

From the first night we have a booming, muddy, wobbly, but fairly listenable audience tape, taped by Harry Ely - stopping the tape between songs, but capturing the whole show. There's also a partial SBD of the first 45 minutes, picking up at the start of Me & My Uncle and ending at the end of Uncle John's. (So we have to turn to the AUD for the whole second electric set, though it's rather hard to enjoy.)
The Dead are the last band you'd think of to play James Brown funk, but here they are playing their first It's A Man's World. (Garcia and Lesh had played Brown's song on their April '67 guest-DJ radio show, so obviously it stuck with them. Perhaps coincidentally, Miles Davis was also a James Brown admirer, looking to put more Brown-style funk into his own music.) Garcia doesn't solo much in this first version - they mostly stick to the rhythm, still ironing out their arrangement. They'd play it at every Dead show this month, and it would get better each time (but would soon be phased out).
Afterwards, Weir says, "We're gonna take you from all this sweat and steam and uproar and tumult, and we're gonna break out our acoustic guitars and regale you with some wooden music." The acoustic set again has light drums and very quiet bass - and it's all Garcia songs again. Candyman is a bit more worked-out, they've now added harmonies to the wordless verse. Uncle John's Band has bongo percussion (instead of straight drums as on 4/3), which gives it a more interesting latin feel.
After this, almost the entire electric set is a standout. In Good Lovin', after a long drum solo, there's a false start to the jam, then a little bass solo before the jam resumes. Pigpen joins them on organ - the jam is longer, more dramatic and freestyle than the usual Good Lovin' jam, but still seems to go back to the verse too soon.
Then we have a bizarre audience-participation tune where the crowd claps in time, and the band builds up an improvised hoedown to the beat - the drums going rat-a-tat, a jaw-harp loudly twanging, and the guitars playing country fills. A mystery singer comes on and bawls out the catchy "cowboy song", which the crowd digs.
Now that everyone's warmed up, the band launch right into a storming Other One. This is a tough, brooding version, long and tense and driven - Pigpen is loud and clear on the organ, and active in the jam. The Cryptical reprise gets the full treatment, the opening quiet part ominously stretched-out as the audience whoops - when the music explodes, it's hard to appreciate due to the poor quality - but it slides into a short concluding spell of harmonics, and comes to a stop without a segue.
Not Fade Away is great. There's a long, very hot jam, Garcia pouring out a fiery nonstop solo, Pigpen interjecting on organ. After the last verse, they segue into Lovelight as the audience screams. (Unusually, Pigpen stays on organ for a few bars of Lovelight.)
Most tapes had only the first half of Lovelight before cutting, but the Archive copy pieces together the full version from an old (inferior) source - still only twenty minutes, short for a Lovelight! This sounds like a typical Lovelight beneath the murk - you can't hear Pig's rap very well. I don't remember hearing a pocket-pool rap in this one, but there is one spot where he says, "Get up on the stage - come on up, bring her on up. She's not in the union? What union you need to meet a woman?" Weir starts a heavy riff, and they move into a nice prolonged, metallic finale with gonging chords.
http://www.archive.org/details/gd70-04-09.sbd.hanno.6157.sbeok.shnf

4/10/70

Setlist: [electric] Cold Rain And Snow; New Speedway Boogie; Mama Tried; China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider; Hard To Handle; Casey Jones; [acoustic] Friend Of The Devil; Deep Elem Blues; Candyman; Wake Up Little Susie > Black Peter; Uncle John's Band; [electric] It's A Man's, Man's, Man's World; Dancin In The Street; High Time; Alligator > Caution > And We Bid You Good Night.

We can only imagine.

4/11/70

Setlist: [electric] Cold Rain And Snow; I'm A King Bee; Beat It On Down The Line; Dire Wolf; It's A Man's, Man's, Man's World; [acoustic] Don't Ease Me In; New Speedway Boogie; Friend Of The Devil; Me And My Uncle; Deep Elem Blues; Candyman; Black Peter; Uncle John's Band; [electric] Dark Star > Saint Stephen > Not Fade Away > Lovelight.

In a stroke of diabolical fate, just one reel of the last half-hour survives - the least interesting part of the show!
The tape comes in at the very end of a raucous Not Fade Away, just before it fades away into a long, lively half-hour Lovelight. Interestingly, Pigpen plays organ during the Lovelight jam, but otherwise it's mostly standard. He gets into his usual rap telling "you fellows standing around with your hands in your pockets, acting cool and all that business...if you want a girl to come home with you, just turn around and say, 'Hey, what's your name? Would you like to come home with me?'" The audience seems unconvinced, so Pigpen tries some individual persuasion: "This guy down here in the glasses - why don't you turn around - I know you been looking at her, I've been watching you. Or you with the fuzzy hair - what about the chick next to you? What's her name? Everybody is chicken in this place! Who else... OK, how 'bout you? Why don't you turn around and ask that man behind you what his name is. Go on. Everybody watch this lady... Go on, get him! I got an audience full of liars!"
Meanwhile the band starts playing a nice, driving rhythm. As Pigpen's rap goes on, this degenerates into a little merry-go-round tune - then after the 17-minute point, they stumble into a heavy riff, and Garcia lets loose with an outrageously long, tremoloed wail of feedback, sounding like he's been possessed by Hendrix for a moment. The band gets into a little jam, with Pigpen returning to organ for a bit. The rest is the standard, big raveup finish.

(As a sidenote - New Speedway Boogie hadn't been played since 12/30/69, but it made its return in these shows. They played it electric on 4/10, and in the acoustic set on 4/11.)

http://www.archive.org/details/gd70-04-11.sbd.cotsman.12072.sbeok.shnf

4/12/70

This night's audience tape is a fantastic stereo recording - except for low vocals, it sounds just like an SBD, and could be the best AUD of the year. Judging by the difference in quality, this is probably not the same taper as 4/9 - and it's quite lamentable this guy didn't show up on previous nights! Most of the show survives in SBD as well, for a change. (As with 4/9, the Archive copy patches together the AUD/SBD sources, so the full AUD isn't up.)
This show starts slowly, but has some amazing highlights. (Perhaps due to Miles' presence, they bring out a lot of their blues songs on this final night.) For whatever reason, the show is done as one long set, so the usual acoustic songs are done electrically. It's also notable for having no between-song pauses on tape - they go straight from song to song. (Although in the AUD portion, the tape is stopped between songs as well: common practice for tapers of the time with limited resources.) Bill Graham gives one of his introductions: "It's been one of those rare weekends that makes everyone feel good... If the Dead End Kids were alive today, they would be called the Grateful Dead."
They open with Good Morning Little Schoolgirl - the first known version since 12/10/69! The audience is happy to hear it again. (Pigpen starts singing at the wrong spot early in his harmonica intro: "Good....good god!") They wouldn't play this often in 1970, and perhaps because it was so rare, it never really gets going. Though lengthy, it stays very laid-back and restrained, without taking off. After a rattling Casey Jones, Weir asks, "Bear, where have you wandered off to? Please fix the monitors."
China Cat has an amusing moment - during the solo, Garcia completely forgets where he is, stumbles around for a while, and decides to head straight for Rider rather than continue China Cat! (After Rider we hear a chord of High Time as usual, but the tape cuts off there.)
Good Lovin' has a drum solo that's peppier than usual - the jam is great, hot and frenetic as Garcia blazes away, but ends all too soon when he heads back to the verse after only a couple minutes. A quick, barebones Candyman follows (this is the first electric version), and a slinky Deep Elem. After Cumberland, Garcia notes, "Bob's got a broken string."
Dancing in the Streets is the one immortalized on the Fallout from the Phil Zone CD - but it's worth checking out the AUD version as well, since Pigpen's organ isn't quite so loud, and Lesh's bass is much louder. The jam is fast and furious, Garcia's notes spitting out, and Lesh especially prodding. They feint at the Tighten Up jam - then Garcia's end-of-jam chords ring out, but he's not through, and starts the jam over again! Then it gets REALLY ecstatic, blasting into a climax - they spin into a brief Feelin' Groovy jam while Garcia pops out syncopated patterns, before slowing down for the verse.
Man's World is also excellent - Pigpen gives his all and the band becomes a spunky rhythm machine. They close the show with Viola Lee Blues, Pigpen back on organ (he actually does well in this one). The band slips into the song with ease, their playing loose but perfectly controlled - the jam escalates steadily into a boiling, wild meltdown that erases time and space. The song ends with a crash, followed by howls of feedback. Garcia says: "Thanks a lot, see you later."
http://www.archive.org/details/gd70-04-12.sbd.kaplan.3820.sbeok.shnf

4/15/70

This is a standout Winterland show in excellent sound. Though it's not consistent, the playing often sparkles - deadlists speculates, "Plainly the four-show run at Fillmore West with Miles Davis inspired an extra measure of adventure."
The show opens with a strong Cold Rain & Snow. (Deadlists notes, "There are brief difficulties with the PA during Cold Rain which occur again at the beginning of the first attempt at Mama Tried and bring it to a halt. After a pause for repairs they start this tune over." The Archive copy is missing this false start.) The first few songs are pretty good - there's a tasty Garcia solo in the sharp Man's World (the best so far, though they're still working out the ending) - a very nice, skeletal Candyman - Hard to Handle sadly cuts out in the middle of a hot solo!
Cryptical signals the start of the jam, but as the drum solo ensues, a surprise is in store. A conga player and organist have apparently joined the band, and out of the drummers' rhythm they burst into a tumbling Santana-like latin jam - Weir slashing out the chords, Garcia blazing into a fast cascade of notes, and Lesh taking charge with a bass/drums break when the others falter. It's one of the Dead's most unique jams, coming out of nowhere and never played again. After five minutes they run out of steam and the drummers return to the normal Other One lead-in beat.
The Other One is hot and raging. After the verse, the jam completely changes rhythm, and it sounds like they're going to segue right into Me & My Uncle after a Garcia climax (foreshadowing 1971!) - but he shifts direction and things quiet down for a moment. The Other One riff soon takes over again, though, the band hammering it down while Garcia goes off like rockets. (Pigpen is conspicuously absent on organ during all this.)
After that, the Cryptical reprise is a disappointment - it starts out subdued and quiet, but Garcia doesn't feel like going through with it, so after a few minutes he switches to Dire Wolf. (Which is at least a change from the usual Cosmic Charlie.) The next jam highlight soon follows, though, with a long Dancin' in the Streets (again played without organ). This soon catches r&b fire - they fall into a Tighten Up jam after teasing it for a while, and the latin feel returns as they stretch out the theme at length, Garcia soloing sweetly. Garcia signals the finish with a series of jagged chords that sound a lot like the Cosmic Charlie intro (!), then takes a sideways turn into a new tempo, still jabbing out chords. Weir gently leads them back to Dancin' - Garcia initially refuses to leave his chords (making a bizarre combination), but finally jumps into a climactic run before the verse. While not as inspired as the 4/12 Dancin', this is still an excellent version. (The tapecut, fortunately, doesn't come til seconds before the song's end.)
Lovelight cuts in during a hot jam, with the first few minutes missing. It proceeds as usual - Lesh and Weir start a dramatic Sabbath-like chord sequence during Pigpen's pocket-pool rap that livens it up considerably. Garcia seems spent by this point, though, and there's no more soloing from him. In the quiet rapping part, it sounds like they're ready to go into the finale, but Garcia & Weir start up the Not Fade Away beat instead. But possibilities of a huge NFA jam are soon dashed - it's only a tease, just a short verse that immediately goes back to the Lovelight finale, which is done with lots of screaming.
http://www.archive.org/details/gd70-04-15.sbd.kaplan.14354.sbeok.shnf

There's a discussion speculating on the guests here -
http://lostlivedead.blogspot.com/2010/05/april-15-1970-winterland-san-francisco_13.html

Garcia was also playing a few non-Dead shows this month, with Howard Wales at the Matrix, and with the New Riders here & there. It seems to have been at this time it was decided the New Riders would go on tour with the Dead the next month - so the NRPS shows of April may have been something like public rehearsals, to get their set honed for the Dead's audiences.
(In fact, these were the first known shows Garcia had played with NRPS since November '69!)
On April 17-19, the New Riders played a run at the Family Dog, along with Charlie Musselwhite and a strange outfit called on the poster: "Mickey Hart & His Heartbeats" (and in small print: "Bobby Ace & His Cards From The Bottom Of The Deck").
Yet, these were nothing like the old Hartbeats shows - apparently it was the full Dead, playing entirely acoustic sets! These seem to have been trial runs for the expanded acoustic sets they would debut in May, with Dawson & Nelson sometimes joining the Dead - Garcia may even have played pedal-steel in some songs. We don't really know, because no tapes survive - they might not have been taped in the first place. But we do have setlists. The song selection was pretty much what we'd find in the Dead's normal acoustic sets, with an occasional exception (Cathy's Clown!). Pigpen was seemingly absent the first night, but the next two nights, he did five songs in a row! Which shows how loose these evenings must have been - usually in an acoustic set, he became uncharacteristically shy....

4/17/70
Don't Ease Me In ; Long Black Limousine ; Monkey And The Engineer ; Deep Elem Blues ; Candyman > Cumberland Blues ; Me And My Uncle ; Mama Tried ; Cathy's Clown ; Wake Up Little Susie ; New Speedway Boogie ; Friend Of The Devil ; Black Peter ; Uncle John's Band

4/18/70
Don't Ease Me In ; Silver Threads And Golden Needle ; Friend Of The Devil ; Deep Elem Blues ; Wake Up Little Susie ; Candyman > Cumberland Blues ; New Speedway Boogie ; Me And My Uncle ; Mama Tried ; Katie Mae ; The Rub ; Roberta ; Walk Down The Street ; Flood

4/19/70
I Know You Rider ; Friend Of The Devil ; Candyman ; Sawmill ; Deep Elem Blues ; The Rub ; Katie Mae ; Roberta ; Big Breasa ; She's Mine ; Cumberland Blues ; Wake Up Little Susie ; Mama Tried ; Me And My Uncle ; The Race Is On ; Uncle John's Band

4/24/70

There were two shows in Denver, on the 24th and 25th - our tape has always been dated the 24th, but there's a newspaper review that describes this show, stating it's from the next day - so most likely the tape is misdated. In any case, we have most of one show from an audience tape. The electric set turns out to be spectacular - unfortunately, the tape is not; it's a poor, buzzy, distant recording, not easy listening, though the vocals & electric guitars are fairly clear. Additionally, the taper either didn't bring enough tape or had troubles with his machine, for the recording runs out at the worst possible moment!
John Hammond opened with an acoustic blues set. I used to think our Dead tape was missing the start of the show, and they'd opened with an electric set as usual - but the paper review and other witnesses say they started with an acoustic set. This would have been the first time, but it became the standard arrangement in May.

Our tape starts off low-key, with a new acoustic arrangement of I Know You Rider - separated once more from China Cat and slowed down to a funereal dirge, Weir harmonizing with Garcia on some verses. I Know You Rider is an unusual song to start the show with, so more songs might be missing - if this is the start of the show, it's a very chilly opener. (And, though this is our first acoustic Rider, they'd actually opened their 4/19 set with it as well.)
Of course, some people in the audience chatter through the song - in fact, right away the audience starts shouting, with lots of screams to "Sit down!" - which the band ignores. Afterwards people in the audience keep shouting at others, "Sit down!" Garcia comments, "There it is, the famous dichotomy, the famous duality - those who like to sit and those who like to stand." Weir adds, "It's better to stand on your head."
Weir introduces his Jesse Fuller song, and the audience gets into Monkey & the Engineer more, clapping along. (This acoustic set is unusual for the month in that Weir gets two songs, this and an acoustic Me & My Uncle.) There's apparently a little sound glitch after that, as Garcia asks, "What's that noise?" Weir says, "Something's buzzing....ah, there it goes, it's gone away."
The rest of the set passes without incident. In this recording, the acoustic instrumentation doesn't come through very well - the guitars are quiet, you can make out the light drumming, but the bass is inaudible. They finish with Uncle John's Band, which the crowd really likes - as they applaud, Garcia announces, "We're gonna bring on the electric Dead."
After the intermission, the electric set starts with the usual plea: "Monitors, please!" They get rolling right off with Easy Wind and a rollicking Cumberland Blues. After Dire Wolf, Garcia says, "Bobby just broke a string." (Some songs may be missing here - the taper had kept the tape rolling so far without the usual pauses, but stops it at a couple points here, perhaps for a tapeflip or battery conservation, or perhaps noticing that the tape supply was running low! Other tapers this year were also not prepared for a show going two hours or more...)

Dark Star fades into being. Garcia comes in after the intro with a sigh of feedback. The opening jam starts out deliberately paced, but steadily becomes more energetic. Garcia really steps out, his playing narcotic and droney - the entranced audience claps as he starts the verse! Some quick strumming drops suddenly into a quiet space. Church bells toll, windchimes rustle - we enter a mysterious, enchanting dreamland - the atmosphere thickens with Garcia's violin-like swells, tense pauses, lingering feedback notes. The audience is silent. Finally, Garcia starts up a swirling Sputnik jam that takes the band back to musical ground. Lesh & Weir fall into the Feelin' Groovy riff, and the mood becomes lighter. But after a couple passes, they switch to the Tighten Up chords, and really dig in here, developing a long dynamic jam with a very lyrical Garcia lead. Once this ends, they pause, searching for a new theme - Garcia starts playing chords, a sign that he's very excited. The chordal riffing heads into ANOTHER Feelin' Groovy jam - they're in no hurry to get back to the verse, the music is carrying the band now. The jam explodes, and Garcia rips into the Dark Star riff with incendiary soloing as hot as anything you'll hear from 1970. The crowd cheers as they abruptly settle back into the verse.
The transition inevitably goes into a charged St Stephen, to the crowd's great delight. (Note the bang after "another man spills" - Pigpen firing a pistol!) Though 1970 Stephens usually cue up Not Fade Away, tonight they segue into the Eleven for the last time. This tune had been dropped since 2/14/70, so it's like the return of an old friend - like 1969 again as they swerve headlong around the corners of the jam. At the point where you'd expect them to segue into Lovelight or Death Don't, instead they stop for a short drum solo of the kind that starts Good Lovin'. Out of this they break into a fast latin-style rhythmic jam, reminiscent of the 4/15 mystery jam (it's kind of like Tighten Up or a proto-Eyes jam). Alas, with a few dying warbles, the tape cuts off after only two minutes! They may have gone into Good Lovin' from there. (The newspaper reviewer suggests they reprised St Stephen before Good Lovin', but by that point he was so excited he could hardly tell what he was hearing...)
The taper managed to get a little bit more life out of his machine, and we get a five-minute fragment of Man's World with a dazzling Garcia solo (sounding just like the previous jam) - but just as it reaches the song's end, the tape warbles and runs out again!
http://www.archive.org/details/gd70-04-24.aud.hanno.19531.sbeok.shnf

Here's a post with more information about the shows on the 24th and 25th, settling the date of our tape as 4/25:
http://jgmf.blogspot.com/2010/05/gd-at-mammoth-gardens-denver-co-april.html

And here's part of the newspaper review -
"Grateful Dead Stuns Crowd," by Mike DeLong - Colorado Springs Sun, April 30, 1970:
"The Grateful Dead produce music on a level that most groups don't even know exist. The songs themselves are only frameworks, only foundations on which the Dead build their dazzling multi-layered skyscrapers of sound. Garcia's intricate lead notes darting in and out of the melody, Weir's rhythm abruptly becoming a second lead, the two drummers sustaining a solid beat while weaving other percussion patterns: a breath-taking explosion of unified talent....
The first part of their set showed a completely new side of the band. Garcia and Weir, armed with acoustic guitars and accompanied by the bass and a drummer, did a series of folk-styled songs with a country flavor which were often catchy and (God forbid) commercial-sounding... The idea of a million-selling Grateful Dead single is amusing as well as staggering.
The electric guitars were brought out after a full hour of unamplification. The band moved into a couple of unfamiliar numbers that had all their trademarks: brilliant solos by Garcia; rich, full textures of sound backing him; beautiful high harmonies.
Approximately 90 minutes into their set, they began "Dark Star," a complex instrumental structure that included a segment that could only be described as experimental electronic. This probably has its roots in the Dead's earlier feedback experiments, but they have extended the idea into even more exotic territory. "Dark Star" evolved effortlessly into an exuberant, joyful "St. Stephen" that, as usual, served as springboard for a fantastic musical interplay - Garcia soaring, really excited for the first time. Lesh throbbing, twisting notes out with obvious huge pleasure. Weir erupting from his rhythm pattern to scorch the air with his own lead. The band built to an excruciating climax and then caught its breath to build to another, and another wave after wave, crescendo after crescendo, finally floating down to catch the "St. Stephen" melody again, which dissolved incredibly enough into "Good Lovin'"...
Abruptly, the song was James Brown's "It's A Man's World", which metamorphosed back into the "St. Stephen" instrumental. A final climax shattered the already gaping crowd. The biggest surprise was that the song was over - one had the feeling that the entire universe consisted of this perpetual motion machine known as Grateful Dead music. It had lasted 80 minutes, and it seemed like 5. Over an hour and 20 minutes, nonstop, and not once was it even slightly boring. The Dead left the stage, and their subjects screamed and stomped for at least 10 minutes for them to return. Wisely, they did not; after that devastating medley, anything else would have been painfully anticlimactic.
The Grateful Dead are terrifyingly good. They are an overwhelming, almost mystical experience."

4/26/70

The Dead then played an outdoor festival in Wisconsin, one of their most fabled lost shows. They opened with Lovelight and the Other One, and ended up playing a five-hour show. Lesh announced at the start of the third set, "We're gonna do a sunset raga," before launching into Dark Star. Considering the timeframe, this must have been one of the best shows of the year - unfortunately, the tapes were lost, and not a note survives, only a few hazy memories.
There's a post with more details here -
http://lostlivedead.blogspot.com/2009/12/sound-storm-york-farm-poynette-wi-april.html
There's also an article on this festival in the spring 2010 issue of the Wisconsin Magazine of History - however, only a teaser is online: http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/whi/feature/soundstorm/

8 comments:

  1. There's something very odd about the absence of the Dead soundboards from Fillmore West on April 9-12, opening for Miles Davis.

    In Ralph Gleason's column on Monday, April 13, he describes a great set by Miles (Saturday 4/11), and then backstage he says that Miles said "Columbia should have taped it." Bill Graham then says "I taped it," and Gleason adds "Graham tapes everything."

    Subsequently, Sony Japan released an excellent recording from the April 10, 1970 (Friday night) as Black Beauty. Its available in the US now as a remastered CD. What does all this mean?
    Did CBS just tape Friday night and not Saturday night and Sunday night? The cd is bereft of details.It seems odd that CBS would hire a crew for one night and not a weekend, particularly since they taped Fillmore East as well (now released as 3/7/70--you should all get it).

    Graham's 2-track recordings (on Wolfgang's Vault) are enjoyable and a prosopographical godsend, but they weren't release quality. There's a couple of possibilities:

    CBS was there for one night, recorded Miles and that was it, or

    There was a stealth crew, professional but unauthorized--approved by Miles and Graham, of course--recording the show and CBS then assented and released it. If my latter hypothesis is correct, maybe they had the decks running all night, eh? Just a thought.

    The Miles Davis 4/11/70 used to circulate too (I've still got it somewhere) but I can't say I could say it was different--possibly there was an early and late set on 4/10 and the tape was mislabeled.

    I prefer the idea that the stealth crew was run by a certain Ursine character, but that's probably just wishful thinking on my part.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Deadlists noted that SBDs of three of Miles' sets (the 10th, the 11th, and another night) circulate - I'm not sure whether these would be from Columbia or Graham's recordings.

    As for how many nights Columbia recorded Davis, I don't know.
    Whether Graham recorded the Dead....now that's a mystery. The recordings we have, I'm sure were made by Bear, and some reels vanished by theft or other calamities, as happened to several 1970 shows.
    On Wolfgang's Vault, the April 9-12 run is conspicuously MISSING. And I'm not aware of a Fillmore West 'stealth crew' of Dead fans like there was at Fillmore East that year.... Even the existence of the Fillmore East stealth tapers, hiding the tapedeck in their closet, makes me wonder if the Dead ever wanted or permitted Graham to tape them?
    Aren't all the Dead recordings on Wolfgang's Vault the same ones that are in the Dead vault? I haven't checked myself, I've assumed they're identical as far as cuts & sources.
    That said, if there did turn out to be an unheard Graham stash of complete Dead shows from April 9-12, it would be a miracle.

    I don't think each band did two sets a night, but each band got one turn? The Dead's set arrangement makes little sense otherwise, especially on the 12th. Apparently two other bands (Stone the Crows, and Clouds) were also on the bill, though I know nothing about them.

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  3. AFAIK the Miles sets all circulate: 67 minutes from 4/9, 79 minutes from 4/10, 76 minutes from 4/11 and 74 minutes from 4/12. AFAIK these are all distinct sets but I am not an expert so I can't vouch (except for the fact that those sets absolutely blow my mind).

    BTW, re the GD on 4/3/70, see http://digitalprojects.libraries.uc.edu/newsrecord/1970/1970_03_31.pdf from the U Cincinnati student newspaper.

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    1. Yes, the four Miles sets all circulate (the 10th as the official Black Beauty CD and the other three among collectors) and are distinct performances, with different setlists.

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  4. I'd love to know more about this mysterious Cowboy Song - precious few details are known. Who sang it? What the heck was it? Google some of the lyrics (as heard) and all you get are references to this one performance. Sometimes the vocalist sounds a little like Pigpen to me, but then other times he doesn't.

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  5. Wish I knew. Don't think it was a cover, or someone would recognize it. Maybe it wasn't an actual finished song, but one of those rehearsal/soundcheck-type jams that just slipped out in the moment...

    Deadlists only says:
    "Cowboy Song" is an Instrumental improvisation involving audience participation on a hoedown-type riff with an unknown vocalist conducting in a sort of scat & yodel fashion (it isn't Marmaduke or Ramblin Jack or David Bromberg -- maybe it's Nelson on acid?); this one-time-only affair never had a name -- the title comes from tape labels.

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  6. Light if you could suddenly discover SBDs to every show from one month in dead history, what month would you want to hear most?

    April 1970 might be it for me.

    Best

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    1. Good question - May and July 1970 would also certainly be candidates. It would be incredible to hear SBDs of the shows from May 7-10 and July 9-12.
      Any month from mid/late 1967 would also have a claim on my heart, though, especially since so much more is lost from that year.

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