April 23, 2010

March 1970

Continuing our trip through 1970...

March was a very light month for the Dead, with only a few shows played - fortunately, we have tapes of all but two of them! (The Dead were probably using the weeks off in the studio to finish the Workingman's Dead album.)
Since Bear couldn't leave California, you might expect that there would be no SBD tapes from the band's shows elsewhere. But actually, there are quite a few from this period - from 2/23, 3/8, 3/20, 3/24, and 4/3/70 - as well as the missing shows and AUD tapes. It's possible these were 'outside' taping jobs done by people patching into the SBD - but given that there are almost no such tapes from the summer & fall of 1970, I think it's more likely that the band was still taping their own shows as usual (as we know they did in the May tour), and some tape holocaust or mass theft happened to the early 1970 reels.
(More speculation here:
http://deadessays.blogspot.com/2009/08/strange-case-of-1970.html )

We'll start with the three-day Family Dog run (with Commander Cody) at the end of February. These are pretty mellow shows, and it's notable that they ignore the Dark Star>Stephen>Eleven medley in each show.

This is a decent show that never quite takes off. (There are a few monitor complaints between songs.)
The show's first highlight comes with a long Dancin' in the Streets - the jam is slow, steamy, laid-back. Garcia drops out for a while midway (a broken string?), so Weir and Lesh carry the jam. It finally heats up near the end, as Garcia gets going and they wrap up the jam with big, clanging chords. Weir says afterwards, "Someone who's in charge ought to open the door so we can get a little fresh air in here."
They continue with a very hot Easy Wind, and after cooling things down with a slow Black Peter, they go right into Good Lovin'. The Good Lovin's this month are not as extended as they would soon become - the jams tend to be not much longer than the drum solos - here it's mostly an Other One-style duet between Lesh and Garcia, with Weir jabbing in rhythmic stabs, that doesn't really get going. The China>Rider>High Time is standard, but Hard to Handle rocks out with a long, ambling Garcia solo. (Pigpen complains, "The monitors over here are not working. That means I can't hear nothing.")
They keep up the pace with Casey Jones and a nice Cumberland. Then it's time for the finish as the drums & bass beat out the intro to Not Fade Away - a rather short, restrained version, as Garcia takes it into Lovelight. Lovelight starts out snappy, but can't keep up the momentum for a half-hour and loses steam midway...there's a long percussion interlude, where Pigpen slips into a verse of Two Trains Running; and after a brief space they start the finale.

The tape cuts in during Lovelight, an unusual opening song for 1970 - as if in a flashback to mid-1969, it segues smoothly into Me & My Uncle while Pigpen's still singing his "all I need" rap. (Other examples of this were on 4/27/69 and 6/14/69.)
After Cumberland Blues, Garcia announces, "We're gonna take everybody back about sixty billion notches and play some acoustic guitars for a little spell, if it's all the same to you." Weir starts the acoustic set with a long introduction to Jesse Fuller, until an impatient Garcia interrupts him. They play three quiet songs, but seem to have some trouble - Garcia complains to Weir after Black Peter. Weir replies, "Yeah, I can't get this in tune either...can't hear what I'm playing." Garcia says to everyone, "OK, it's back to the electric world, so everybody can get back up again."
They give us a standard Garcia-led sequence of China>Rider>High Time>Dire Wolf. (China>Riders of this time aren't very satisfying for me since Garcia hardly plays in the bridge jam - once Weir finishes his solo, it's straight into Rider.) Then it's time for some Pigpen with a bouncy Good Lovin' and Big Boss Man. (Afterwards, someone requests Not Fade Away - Garcia says, "We'll get to it." This seems to have been his standard reply to requests.)
The "big jam" part of the show starts with a sleepy Alligator. A long drums winds its way to the Other One beat, and the band slips quietly into the Other One. The jam gradually heats up, but never takes off - at the end, they go into Mason's Children. This would be the last Mason's - it's a short one, as the second solo slides into Caution for a bit - but they quickly change direction and head back into the Lovelight finale instead, which ends the show. (This is nowhere near as intense as the similar 2/14/70 medley - though that may be an unfair comparison! But the Dead's Family Dog shows do tend to be pretty low-key in general.)

This is perhaps the best show of the run. The SBD from this night is incomplete; fortunately there was an intrepid taper onhand (Harry Ely) to capture most of the show in a pretty good-sounding (though bassy) tape. (He was also the one who taped 12/5/69.) His AUD tape isn't complete on the Archive, but just used to patch the beginning and end of the show.
As the AUD tape starts, Weir is playing the New Speedway Boogie shuffle while the rest of the band sets up. (They'd dropped New Speedway since December, and wouldn't pick it up again til May.) As deadlists says, "This tape cuts in during the 'New Speedway Boogie Jam,' which sounds like Bobby playing the comp to this song over & over while the audience claps along and the equipment crew tries to get the rest of the band up & running. After 4:15 this cuts to another couple minutes of tuning, soundcheck activity and bitching about the sound system." The audience laughs and claps, quite entertained by something onstage despite the long adjustments and tuning. As the band tries to get rid of the feedback, Weir complains about getting shocked by the mics: "You people don't know what it's like...you step up to the microphone, and the microphone greets you with a big blue spark..." (Meanwhile the others hoot loudly into the mics in a strange sonic exorcism.)
After the Casey Jones intro, they give us a rare, somewhat sloppy Big Boy Pete (only four known versions from this period), which is where the SBD cuts in - then they get down to business with Morning Dew.
The Other One is much more energized than the night before. They charge into it, though dogged by feedback, and the jam peaks, ebbs, and climbs again - it rolls into a strong, thunderous Cryptical reprise which quiets down and ends with chiming harmonics that slide into Black Peter. Then they change the pace with a raucous Beat It On Down the Line.
The following songs are standard, not too notable - there's a smoky King Bee - a nice solo in Cumberland - a typically short Good Lovin' and China>Rider. The SBD ends with a slow Uncle John's Band.
From the AUD, the Dancin' in the Streets is a highlight of the show, featuring the first time the Tighten Up jam was played in Dancin'. (The sound quality is a bit murky, though.) Our tape ends with another rarity, Baby Blue (last played on 12/5/69, there are only three versions from 1970) - here the AUD tape cuts off.
http://www.archive.org/details/gd70-03-01.sbd.hanno.4641.sbefail.shnf (SBD+AUD)

This is a very hot show, which would be more acclaimed if it were complete, or if an SBD existed. The AUD tape we have has pretty good sound, fairly boomy, though it has some bad cuts, constant mic clunks & tape warbles, and some other glitches. Unfortunately, the taper was in the middle of a bunch of talkers, who are very distracting (especially in the quiet songs)...
Our tape starts with a guy shouting, "Get it on!" - the band gets it on with a slow, heartfelt Black Peter, while folks in the audience have a conversation. (It would be surprising if this were the first song of the show!) After another China>Rider>High Time, the tape cuts off in Dire Wolf, and drops us in the middle of an awesome Not Fade Away. Even though only five minutes of it are left, they're incendiary.
This gives way to a drum solo...generally I'm not noting the drum solos since the ones from this time aren't very exciting - sometimes they just seem to putter around aimlessly. But it's a different experience on this AUD tape: the audience loves the drums, and cheers them on, making it more engaging. Out of drums comes Good Lovin', which goes right into a hot jam - but they quickly sputter out for some reason, and head into a short but very hot Other One. This burns its way to a Not Fade Away reprise, and from there they fly into Lovelight, the crowd shrieking. This is a good Lovelight - again, the AUD tape definitely enhances the experience, as the excited audience claps and screams all the way through. One guy in the crowd even recites the "get your hands out of your pockets" speech before Pigpen does! The tape cuts off in the finale, with perhaps a few minutes left to go.

Our tape cuts in during the Cold Rain & Snow solo - things immediately hit a snag once the song ends and Weir announces, "We gotta do an equipment change-around, so I'm gonna take this opportunity to tell y'all a story...." The dreaded yellow dog story follows - Garcia loses no time in starting China Cat as soon as Weir finishes! After the usual China>Rider>High Time, Garcia makes a public service announcement: "Jennifer Riley, you're supposed to call your mother for an emergency."
Pigpen tests the mike before Hard to Handle - "Seems to work...you folks seem to be going around." He's referring to the revolving stage the band was on - Weir comments: "Hey, this is a miserable situation...on account of the fact that we can't really get to know you out there..."
Hard to Handle, though brief, is the highpoint of the show. Then Garcia says, "We're gonna bring out some acoustical instruments, play some acoustical music here for a little while, then we're gonna come back with some electric stuff, if it's all the same to you."
There's some banter while they're setting up, including this exchange:
Garcia: "Everybody who's breathing in here, we just had a word from the breathing marshal." [applause]
Weir: "He said it ought to be against the law, breathing, cause it's so..."
Garcia: "Obscene somehow."
Weir: "It just seems wrong."
Garcia: "I don't know what it is."
(I can't make out all of it - there's lots of band chatter between songs that's almost audible.)
Finally Weir gets around to introducing the set as they adjust the mikes: "We're gonna regale your jaded ears with a song that was written by a guy who's a one-man band, and quite a monument to one-man banditry."
Later in the set, Me & My Uncle and Black Peter are played by Weir on acoustic and Garcia on electric, an interesting combination they hardly ever tried in these early acoustic sets, but it hints at the acoustic/electric blends they'd start doing in May.
Pigpen comes out for Katie Mae: "Here I am, stuck once again. Before I do anything, I want this thing to start turning around.... Can you hear this guitar?"
Disaster strikes when a guest comes onstage, inspired by Pigpen's blues (and apparently with Pig's blessing), and starts improvising bluesy lyrics while Pig keeps playing acoustic. Nobody seems to mind, the crowd claps along, and he tries to get them to sing along as he sings, "Wake me, shake me, baby." He's an atrocious singer (it really puts Pigpen in perspective), but like Pigpen, he urges everyone to stand up: "Come on, get up...there's still people sitting down!" The rest of the band gradually joins in this blues improv, and the mystery singer continues his horrible screeching. Finally, it ends, and the band starts Not Fade Away - unfortunately, the guest stays onstage and sings along - not only that, but he's joined by some awful, tuneless harmonica bleating. It sounds like a hot NFA behind them, as the band completely ignores the disruption. By Lovelight it's mostly just the band again, except for some more dreadful harmonica - mercifully, this cuts off. In the end, this is a show to be avoided.

This show is famous for being unavailable, and perhaps nonexistent. Many have doubted that it was played; but I think there are enough reviews and memories to show it did happen. There's actually quite a bit of information about this show.
McNally mentions it in his book: "On St Patrick's Day the band played a benefit for the Buffalo Philharmonic, which was directed by Phil's acquaintance, a colleague of Luciano Berio's, Lukas Foss. The Dead, a local rock band, and members of the orchestra played an improvisational piece that involved having the orchestra members stand up, flap their arms, and make strange noises." (This seems to be the kind of tall tale that would only come from a band member....)
Lesh also has a brief, indirect mention in his book: sometime in '62, he's talking about Luciano Berio & the Ojai Festival - "The highlight for me was an outdoor performance of Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 25, conducted by Berio and played by Lucas Foss (who later would invite the Dead to perform improvisations with his orchestra, the Buffalo Philharmonic)."
It's unclear whether the Dead played one or two sets, but they were scheduled for two. Their show included Dark Star>drums, with percussionist Lynn Harbold joining them during drums, and apparently ended with Lovelight. The orchestra played Foss's composition "Geod", and John Cage pieces, accompanied by a primitive laser-light show. Foss also played on piano a Bach concerto, to which the Dead and local band the Road added freeform electronic noise. Both bands then played in a kind of organized improvisation with the orchestra, directed by Foss.

A few memories from audience members:
One describes a three set show, with material from Live Dead and Aoxomoxoa in the first two sets (Saint Stephen and Dark Star in the first) and an improvisation with the orchestra in the third, which included a passage of "call and response". He says that during this portion of the show the Dead played on top of a lift platform, which rose when they played and dropped when the symphony played. The symphony played a program featuring the work of John Cage "complete with laser-light show."
Another: "They also played St. Stephen. The set wasn't all that long because they were sharing the stage with the Philharmonic and [the band] Yellow Brick Road (which later became just The Road). I remember TC throwing a couple of timed firecrackers into the air during the pause in St. Stephen. During Lovelight, Pigpen was singin' "take your hands out of yer pockets... and stop actin' like a fool"."
And another witness remembers the audience trying to boo opening band The Road offstage! "The stage was a hydraulic platform that was down and all you could see was a few red lights from the amps... They started with "Feedback" before the stage slowly rose out of the ground with the band on it running right into the next song. I also remember a laser light show of some type, just a green squiggly line, moving to the music at some point in the concert."

This website has two newspaper reviews and a long deadbase review of the show, which provide a lot more detail:

This was the Dead's first evening at the Capitol Theater in Port Chester (with Catfish opening). The early show is sadly not available, though it should be - Ken Lee was presumably taping, and the second show was taped in both SBD and AUD. (Perhaps the early show will surface someday. The old tape with this label is now thought to be the 6-24-70 early show.)

The late show exists in a buzzy mono SBD. Ken Lee's AUD is only available as a patch at the start - it would be nice to have the complete AUD, since it is excellent quality. Aside from someone drumming on the balcony railing, it sounds as good as the next night's tapes, and the power of the band and excitement of the audience really come through (which you don't really get on the SBD). Even a 'little' song like Me & My Uncle shines; so if the full AUD ever comes out, we can hear the show in a new light.
The AUD tape catches the opening songs, the SBD tape not coming in until the middle of Know You Rider. The band is in a good mood - there's lots of laughter and inaudible chatter between songs, and Garcia even jokes with the audience, introducing Uncle as "a little spring song". From Casey Jones on, the rowdy Capitol crowd shouts at the band, full of song requests, any random song. (One forlorn soul even requests Rosemary!) Before Hard to Handle, Garcia says, "This isn't New York City. Shit. It's cool, we're not going anywhere." Then he mocks Weir: "White Rabbit, goddammit!"
After an unremarkable China>Rider, the show continues with a ramshackle Hard to Handle - Garcia breaks a string, so Weir has to carry the solo himself. Pigpen says to the crowd afterward, "Hey, I'm missing somebody by the name of Annette, where is she? I want to see her now."
Then it's time for the acoustic set -
Weir: "We're gonna waste some more time."
Garcia: "We're gonna slow you down. I can see things are getting out of hand, as usual. Oh man, that was a long time ago. [calls for Alligator] Relax, relax, we'll do that."
Weir: "We're gonna waste a bunch of time and re-set up and slow you all down. You'll hate it and we'll love it, but we got lots of time."
They start the acoustic set with three 1970 debuts in a row - the first Deep Elem Blues and Don't Ease Me In since 1966, and the first-ever live Friend of the Devil. (This song has some different lyrics, also sung the next night - Hunter had written it for the New Riders back in '69, but Garcia liked it enough to snatch it for the Dead.) A tape cut wipes out the end of Black Peter and most of Uncle John's Band. Pigpen comes back out for Katie Mae, worrying, "I might make a lot of mistakes..."
The electric set resumes with Good Lovin', but after a brief drums they fall into the Not Fade Away beat; Weir starts singing it, and they detour for a short throwaway version of NFA. The drums continue, and they go back into Good Lovin' with hardly any jamming. They make up for it by following with a sharp Viola Lee Blues, which was quite a rarity by then. (It's the first we have since 4/26/69, though I suspect they'd played others since then.) Pigpen is playing with them on organ - the jam quickly picks up speed and hurtles into an explosive, crackling meltdown. The re-entry jam into the last verse is relaxed, and there's a nice feedback ending. Then they calm things down with a wispy High Time, before embarking on the show-closing Lovelight.
Pigpen takes his usual rap, with advice to the lonely souls in the crowd: "The first thing you got to do is get your hands out of your pockets, and play with something that's better than that. Pocket pool is a long time ago, man, ain't no way to do. So what you got to do now, fellows, you find yourself standing next to a young lady, turn over to your side - 'excuse me ma'am, my name is so and so, what's yours?' And while you're doing that, you reach in her pocketbook, take a look at her wallet, and find out if she's 18. After you get all that business straight, all you got to do is find a place to go. And if you can do that, good luck!"
After Lovelight, the crowd is all worked-up and demands more. The announcer gasps, "Far-out...outrageous evening...unreal... I don't know - I think they're kind of tired - I don't think they have the energy to do another one - one second, we'll find out... Get a light over here - we just spoke to them, they did work very very hard for all of us, they're very very exhausted, they'll be here tomorrow night, come back tomorrow." The band starts singing We Bid You Goodnight to soothe the crowd's disappointment.
After that's over, new road-manager Sam Cutler has an announcement: "There's a chick in the audience called Annette - Pigpen wants to see you at the back of the stage. If anybody else is pretty, you can come too."
No doubt, a night of debauchery ensued....

By the way, this was Blair Jackson's first Dead show - he wrote an essay describing his experience.
The Capitol "was about one-third full, in a place that only seated about 2000 to begin with. Because the word wasn't out about the Capitol yet, a lot of people probably didn't even know about the shows. By the next time they played the Capitol, the place was packed for every show.... The acoustics were tremendous - better even than the Fillmore East - and every seat in the place was great.... The first act that night was an annoying blues-rock band called Catfish....nobody seemed to like them very much, and everyone got fed up with Catfish's constant pleas for us to get out of our seats and boogie.... When the Dead hit the stage, everyone in the place leaped to their feet and started dancing. (At most other rock shows, everyone sat in their seats until the last song...even at the Fillmore West, most people sat on the ground or stood immobile in front of the stage.) So a few seconds into the first Dead song, I notice that half the people in the small crowd are flailing.... A very attractive girl who'd been dancing wildly in the front row suddenly took off all her clothes, jumped onstage and started dancing wildly next to Garcia, who looked amused.... After half a minute or so, a member of the Dead's road crew carried her offstage... [In Viola Lee] the crescendo was so loud and long and intense I thought my brain was dissolving. They hit a peak that seemed to go on forever; it was easily the weirdest music I'd ever heard.... The Dead wrapped things up with Lovelight...Pigpen got everyone to go absolutely crazy. He had us screamin' and hollerin' and carryin' on. He even got the few Deadheads who weren't dancing to get up and join the fun... A different naked girl danced in the aisle next to us...until an usher eventually asked her to put on some clothes."

We have both shows from Ken Lee's excellent AUD tapes - the sound is clear, though the early-show tape has some channel wobble which can be distracting.
The band's playing sparkles, and they pull out a few rarities for this show. They start the show with a slinky Walkin' the Dog. (This is the first known live version, aside from a 1966 demo - we have just one other version this year, from 11/9/70.)
Within a couple songs the audience is already hollering non-stop at the band between songs, so naturally Garcia decides to give them a slow, chilly Death Don't Have No Mercy. (Death had become somewhat rare, last played on 1/16/70 - this would be the last version until 1989.) Death quiets down the audience for a while, but they soon revive with noisy song requests.
So Weir gives a speech: "While you're shouting out requests, I want you to bear in mind...when we made up the songs we made up no names for the songs, and we had a friend of ours make up names for the songs and submit 'em to the president of the record company to put on the album, and we never even learned the names to all our songs. So you're shouting a bunch of meaningless words to us, and I swear it's true..." This doesn't satisfy the crowd, and they impatiently slow-clap...
Pigpen appears for a brisk Good Lovin', in which the jam ends all too soon, and an excellent Big Boss Man. After this there's a long pause while the band deliberates, and the audience calls for Alligator and Lovelight. Weir responds, "Boy, are you ever going to like this," as the band starts a slow, mellow He Was A Friend of Mine. (This was another uncommon song, last played on 12/12/69 - this would be its last performance.) The crowd takes it well, and Garcia's second solo is a spellbinding wonder.
At end they barely pause before blasting into Viola Lee - a surprising choice considering they'd done it the night before. The jam starts almost introspectively - prolonged longer than on the 20th - then speeds like a runaway train into a beautiful chaotic meltdown. Coming back to the groove, they fall naturally into a loose Seven jam, which was quite rare. (They'd hinted at it during the 4/26/69 Viola Lee, of which Lesh says, "We later expanded and used this riff extensively - unfortunately, none of those performances seem to have survived." The one exception seems to be the full-blown 9/29/69 version.) On top of the Seven, Lesh slips the Cumberland riff, and the others fall in. Under the circumstances this Cumberland is quite relaxed, and not very fiery. It closes the show, much to the crowd's disappointment.
http://www.archive.org/details/gd70-03-21.early.lee.pcrp.20184.sbeok.shnf (early show)

The late show also finds the band much more laid-back than their hyper audience - Garcia's playing is very calm and deliberate in the jams. After a standard Casey Jones opener, the show gets exciting right away with an excellent Dancin' in the Streets. The jam is extremely graceful, with Lesh and Garcia playing off each other beautifully - again they easily slip into a stomping Tighten Up jam, then subside into a quiet, reflective passage as the audience claps the beat - then Garcia winds up the tension for a grand re-entry into the verse. After this, people in the crowd ask for St Stephen, but the band heads into Easy Wind (Pigpen seems to be caught unprepared, as he starts out singing the wrong verse). This cuts at the end, but the tape resumes as the band gets ready for the acoustic set.
The audience is quite noisy, shouting at the band and at each other. Weir says, "You're too kind... Let's hear some insults - why doesn't everybody turn to their neighbor and insult him as worst as you possibly can." The crowd obliges by hollering even louder, prompting Garcia to ask, "Take it easy out there, you unruly pigs."
The acoustic set is somewhat marred by audience noise - in fact, you can hear the taper keep going "shhh!" to clappers throughout the set. On top of that, the microphones were on the balcony railing, and people were tapping time on the railing, especially in the quiet parts. Since this was a seated venue, some of the crowd seems to have been disturbed by all the dancers, and lots of shouting is directed at them. During the Friend of the Devil intro, someone yells "Sit down!" and Garcia mutters, "Shut the fuck up." (But in Deep Elem we still get cries of "Sit down!")
Surprisingly, the band takes a request - after Black Peter, someone requests Wake Up Little Susie, and Garcia replies, "Yeah, we'll try that one." After Uncle John, Weir asks the crowd, "You guys wanna hear Pigpen? (cheers) Well let him know about it! (cheers) I don't think he hears you, maybe you ought to shout a little louder! (cheers) Here he is now folks, Pigpen!" Pigpen comes on for his one song to much acclaim: "You probably heard this one last night because it's the only one I know... Yeah, you can't hear the mistakes unless you shut up." He gives us a very nice Katie Mae.
The acoustic set over, people shout for St Stephen, the Other One, etc, and applaud and holler at each other, while the Dead tease Cosmic Charlie endlessly. Charlie is smooth and standard (not the 3/1/69-type blowout you'd expect); once it comes to a stop, there's lots more random yelling.
Finally the band obliges with "the hits" - St Stephen is received rapturously, and as usual segues into a fine Not Fade Away. Garcia spins out melodic riffs, circling around the rhythm - he takes the band back to the Stephen riff, then into an unexpected China Cat jam. Unusually, NFA comes to a stop, and the Dead take a while to figure out the next tune, while Weir riffs around.
Next up is a mighty Midnight Hour - this one has a hypnotic vibe, as the audience claps all the way through. Once Pigpen stops rapping, Garcia lets loose the sweetest, most delicate solo imaginable - then Pigpen raps some more, similar to a Good Lovin' rap of a year later ("she calls me daddy!"), while Garcia darts in little fills around him. Suddenly they switch to the Lovelight finale in a unique segue, and the audience goes into hysterics.
The announcer exclaims, "Incredible set by the Grateful Dead!" (Crowd: "More!") "Stand by..." (Crowd chants, "More, more!") Pigpen comes out and says brusquely, "All right you guys, it's your show, see you later," and again the Dead close with We Bid You Goodnight.
http://www.archive.org/details/gd1970-03-21.late.aud.lee.pcrp.21779.shnf (complete late show - avoid the other Archive copy)

Periodically the band would play isolated shows in distant Florida - 12/29/68, 12/28/69, the May '69 Big Rock Pow Wow shows - and they tended to play very enthusiastically there. This is a fast-paced show - as the Compendium says, "The Dead are given only a ninety-minute set to work their magic. They come out high-spirited and really go for it... There's a feeling of haste...as they quickly cram in their 'hits' to beat the clock."
(Deadlists shows a ticket for different dates, which raises a mystery, but for now I'll accept this show as the 24th. This tape is also unusual for the month in being in wide stereo - the other SBDs we've heard have mostly been in mono.)
Our tape cuts in during a rushed Morning Dew. Weir says, "At the risk of being repetitious, we're gonna do another song in the same key." (This turns out to be Mama Tried.)
Good Lovin' is the best of the month - it has a short drum solo, then Garcia jams with the drums for a while (like an Alligator) before the others come back. Weir & Lesh take over the jam while Garcia sits out (changing a string?) - this part is unique, Weir really churns away on rhythm; then Garcia comes back in a torrent - after teasing the riff a while, they build up to a Hard to Handle-style chordal climax. After a few more songs (including a rousing electric Don't Ease Me In), it's time for the big medley.
This Dark Star is notable for being entirely instrumental - a tapecut wipes out the first verse, and the band bails out before the second verse. It's also a fast, streamlined version (kind of '68ish in that way), making it easy to hear how the band work together in the jam. The intro jam is swift and focused - it soon cuts off, and the tape picks up again deep in the post-verse space. Things don't sound too scary - the band throws out a few hints of melody - a jam rapidly materializes - and soon the music is flying in streams of ecstasy. They drop in a quick Feelin' Groovy jam - but Garcia keeps pushing onward, his guitar lines turning into molten gold, cascading through the Dark Star riff, then pausing & trying out a new jam. For a moment before the end it reminds me of the end of that 3/21/72 Star, til Garcia sounds like he's heading for a Sputnik jam. But Lesh is in a hurry to move on, and before they can return to the verse, he starts pounding out the Other One riff.
This is a very fast version, they speed right through it - Garcia jumps into a quick St Stephen - the drums beat out an intro to a chunky NFA without much jamming - and they soon hop over into a customary Lovelight, with Pigpen working his usual rap. Lovelight would seem like the natural closer, but Weir abruptly takes it into Me & My Uncle (as on 2/28), and the show ends there. Garcia says, "Our time's up, see you later."


  1. For anyone suspicious about the Blackdog site with newspaper clips of the 3/17/70 show - I've checked Lukas Foss's bio-bibliography (by Karen Perone, 1991), and it confirms that the newspaper reviews are genuine.

    For Foss's composition "Geod", it notes that 3/17/70 was the American premiere, and that the show involved the Road, the Grateful Dead, and the BPO along with four other conductors. "The performance also included Sonovision's laser-beam and prism light show."
    Several reviews are noted:
    Buffalo Evening News 3/18/70 - John Dwyer, "New World of Music for a Young Audience"
    and James Brennan, "Orchestra's Rapport with Rock Bands Electrifies Audience" (this article is on the Blackdog site)
    Buffalo Courier Express 3/18/70 - Thomas Putnam, "Marathon" (a review, also on the Blackdog site)
    High Fidelity/Musical America journal 20:18 (June 1970) - Thomas Putnam, "Foss Premiere" (another review, mentioning the "unprepared and unspontaneous" jam-session with the Road and the Dead)

    The book also indexes Foss's "Non-Improvisation", a 1967 composition that "exists only in chart form for planned improvisations; no score." It was for four players (clarinet, violincello, piano & percussion), and was based on the first movement of Bach's concerto for harpsichord in D minor. This is the composition that the Road and the Dead added freeform sounds to. (Foss also played this with an unidentified rock band at the Temple University Music Festival on 7/29/71, which was another attempt to join orchestral & rock music.)

  2. Just a short addition - the 3/1/70 Dancing in the Streets SBD is available on the dead.net Taper's Section (from 2/26/07). Sounds much better than the AUD! It also raises the likelihood that the end of the show is available complete on SBD in the Vault....

  3. I haven't read everything in this essay yet but I want to thank you for this focus on '70. Very recently I heard the MIT May 6, 1970 show on the radio.

    At first I didn't know what year the show I was hearing was from. I was hearing the very end of Dancin. I was thinking I was hearing a '68 or earlier show. Eventually I realized it was 5-6-70.

    When I realized it was a '70 show, I was thinking, "damn, the shit they were doing in '70 was incredibly powerful, much more so than '71."

    Now I haven't heard a lot of '70 but have heard three shows from May of '70 (5/2, 5/6, and 5/15) and all three are exceptionally powerful. After hearing the May 6th show on the radio, I was really thinking they were really hitting a peak of sorts in that month (maybe a topic you'd get off on exploring).

    Anyway reading your essay about the time period just before May '70 is especially interesting to me after hearing that May 6th show and having a whole new appreciation for '70 Dead. So thanks for it.

    It's too bad to read there's not many tapes (if any) from the summer or fall of '70 since, as I said, they seemed to really be on a roll and that's some of the period I want to explore more (there's some from early June at the Fillmore West available I believe).

    You mention in the 2-28 review that the China Riders don't do much to you from this time period. Ironically when I heard the china rider from that May 6th show, I was especially impressed (I rec you listen to it to see if it does anything to you).

    Anyway thanks again and I look forward to reading the rest.

    Longtime Head

  4. I agree, the '70 Dead jams are much more powerful than in '71 - that's one reason I'm going through the year, because it deserves it.
    I'm working on my April '70 essay, though it won't be up for a while - but I do think spring '70 is a peak for the Dead. 5/6 is an exceptional show (as is 5/2) - be assured, I've heard all these shows, and will cover them at some point.
    The Fillmore West shows from June 6 & 7 have some good stuff, they're very loose "home turf" shows. If you want the REALLY impressive shows, check out almost any of the Port Chester audience tapes (covered in my November '70 post) - I also did a writeup of the Fillmore East shows from September, of which 9/19 is the shining star.

  5. Better late than never....I just heard 3/1/70 for the first time, and I'm thinking that Bobby's "New Minglewood Jam" is providing the soundtrack to a silent film that's being shown to the crowd. Notice how they all laugh at the same time? Certainly, something's going on on stage, and I'd bet dollars to donuts it was a movie, shown in between bands. Thoughts?

  6. It's possible, though I don't know whether they showed movies between sets at the Family Dog. (Sounds more like a Fillmore thing to me.) My take was that Weir just started the New Speedway Boogie riff to keep the audience amused while the rest of the band dealt with some equipment problem. I'm also not sure if the band ever started playing while an intermission movie was still showing.

  7. Hey! Just wanted to thank you for all your posts. First saw the Dead in 1978, last show 1993. Only now am I digging in to 1970 and I really appreciate your take on all these AUD recordings. Thanks again.