September 5, 2014

Missing 1968 Shows

The Grateful Dead played approximately 120 shows in 1968. Of those, only 42 shows (either whole or in part) circulate from the year. With two-thirds of the shows from 1968 lost, it is a melancholy task to list them all, but I thought I’d give it a try: this list will cover the shows and parts of shows we don’t have.

Tapes that are incomplete and missing pieces of shows are listed. A few audience tapes survive from 1968; those are only listed here when they’re incomplete. I’ve also noted the few uncirculated tapes that are known to still be in the Vault.
The Hartbeats shows and a couple other known Garcia jam sessions are included.
Lost songs recalled from deadbase or other sources are listed [in brackets], and useful recollections of the shows are quoted when available.

This post completes a series on the Dead’s missing tapes from 1968-1970:
(I will not be covering 1966-67 like this since we are missing 90% of the shows played in those years!)

The Dead taped a large number of shows for Anthem of the Sun from January through March ’68, so we have a good picture of those months. April through July ‘68 is more or less a gaping hole in our tape record, though a few fragments survive. When the Carousel closed in June, Owsley (who’d been taping shows there) rejoined the Dead as their soundman and started taping them again; so we have a small number of unlabeled tapes from June. Since the Dead briefly considered taping another live album in August, we have a batch of tapes from that month. The rest of the year is spotty, and it’s certain that many of Owsley’s tapes have disappeared – aside from the Matrix Hartbeats tapes, we have just a handful of tapes from the fall, and a few more from December.

Updated March 2018.

A note on the winter ’68 tour: per David Lemieux, the bonus material on the 2/14/68 Road Trips release came from a San Francisco studio that was closing and sent their Dead material to the Vault, including live tapes the Dead were working on for Anthem of the Sun. There were only snippets of shows on compilation reels, none complete - but he said the only piece they couldn't fit on the release was a ten-minute Alligator (no Caution) which was dropped due to sound issues. (He didn’t identify the show.)

1/20/68 Municipal Auditorium, Eureka, CA
Only 35 minutes of this show circulated; Viola Lee Blues and Good Morning Little Schoolgirl were included on the 2/14/68 Road Trips release. It’s hard to say how much more we might be missing, but probably at least a China Cat>Eleven following the cut Dark Star. We know the Other One suite was played (probably before Clementine), since this date is on the Anthem of the Sun multitrack that Phil Lesh isolates in the Anthem to Beauty video.

The circulating shows labeled January 22-23 are from the January 26-27 Eagles Auditorium, Seattle shows. Combined with the “1/23” songs on the Road Trips release, our tapes seem to be nearly complete. A newspaper review says the 1/27 show opened with Lovelight, and confirms some of the banter on the "1/23" tracks.

1/29/68 Portland State College Ballroom, Portland, OR
Part of a newspaper review: “Flash after flash, skyrockets, bombs... I've never seen anything like the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane lightshow. [The band was] loud, loud enough that we didn't need ears. We could see and feel the music, it saturated the ballroom... [They] kept hitting climaxes, bursting, sense-tearing climaxes, until on some magic cue they relaxed, dropped back to reality, stringing us along...” [McNally]

1/30/68 EMU Ballroom, U of Oregon, Eugene, OR [Gloria, Cryptical Envelopment > The Other One > Cryptical Envelopment]  
“After the Anthem of the Sun suite, Pigpen sang ‘Gloria.’” []
New Potato Caboose from this show was released on the 2/14/68 Road Trips bonus disc, but it is doubtful whether more survives in the Vault.

2/2/68 Crystal Ballroom, Portland, OR
The circulating tape is only 33 minutes and cuts off in Schoolgirl. The Dark Star encore was included on the Road Trips release, but clearly more is missing (the following night’s set is an hour long).

2/4/68 South Oregon College, Ashland, OR

2/15/68 San Quentin State Prison, CA ("free afternoon concert on the lawn outside the prison") - This was not a full Dead show, but a jam with other musicians.

2/16/68 Stanislaus County Fairgrounds, Turlock, CA 

2/17/68 Selland Arena, Fresno, CA [Good Morning Little Schoolgirl ; Turn On Your Lovelight]
George Hiatt: “They opened the show and played "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" and then an extremely long version of "Turn on Your Lovelight" – that was the show!” [deadlists]
Rod Hanson: “They did play only two songs (they came in very late for the gig that night)…they did play "Good Mornin' Little School Girl" for their opening...and it lasted about 20 minutes...then they played "Turn On Your Love Light" for a very long time...they jammed on "Love Light" for quite awhile…and that was it.” []

2/22/68 Kings Beach Bowl, Lake Tahoe, CA
One reel of this show was posted on the Taper’s Section, and another reel is still in the Vault. “The reels labeled one and two were missing all the vocals and one of the drummers. David Lemieux recalled that two of the songs that were played on 2/22/68 were Morning Dew and Beat it on Down the Line.” (He also recalled It Hurts Me Too on the reel without vocals.)
An audience memory: “The Dead came out individually and began tuning, then two tuned together, and amongst all the tuning, undiscovered and unrecognized, they were already playing a song... such a smooth transition, the point upon which the tuning stopped and the playing began was impossible to discover. The night was filled with parts of their first album - Morning Dew and a couple others, then much if not all of the great "Anthem" album…and an early version of Dark Star... The show was finally stopped when the powers that be turned off the electricity to the stage... otherwise it would have gone on for hours upon hours into the early morning. Bobby came forward and appoligized for not being allowed to play longer since they wanted to... This was one of those shows Jerry played 'to you' and everyone was close enough so that he would stare you in the eyes and play parts directly to and for you, it was magic... I saw the next evening's show, but it wasn't as intense as this evening's performance.
Songs played I remember:
Morning Dew
St. Stephen
Early version of Dark Star
a blues tune sung by Pigpen
New New Minglewood Blues
Drum solos” []
(St Stephen was not written yet, and Minglewood wasn't played in '68 that we know of, but otherwise this looks accurate. Alligator wasn’t always connected to Caution at this time; the drum solos were probably part of Alligator.)

2/23/68 Kings Beach Bowl, Lake Tahoe, CA
Deadbase lists Cold Rain & Snow, which doesn't appear on Dick's Picks 22; however not all the songs played were included on the release - repeated songs and songs with cuts were left off.

3/1/68 Clifford's Catering, Walnut Creek, CA

3/2/68 Clifford's Catering, Walnut Creek, CA [Cold Rain & Snow ; Turn On Your Lovelight (per eyewitness)]

3/3/68 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA [The Other One > Cryptical Envelopment ; Dancing In The Street]
Our partial audience tape cuts off in the Cryptical intro. Dancing closed the show.

3/8/68 Melodyland, Anaheim, CA  
The band “played just two very long, mostly instrumental songs in its allotted 30 minutes, not bothering to identify either number by name.” [newspaper review]

3/9/69 Melodyland, Anaheim, CA (two shows)
“I only remember China Cat Sunflower because it was a catchy song.” [Lost Live Dead comment]
"I'd never heard such long jams before... They played most of the second album, Morning Dew, possibly Saint Stephen, maybe even Love Light (or maybe not)." []
A Deadbase attendee of one of the Melodyland shows remembers a set opening with a blues song, including extended jamming, and ending with We Bid You Goodnight.

3/11/68 Memorial Auditorium, Sacramento, CA [Cryptical Envelopment > Other One > Cryptical Envelopment > New Potato Caboose > Born Cross-Eyed > Caution Jam]
Show with Tom Constanten.

3/15/68 Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco, CA
This show was recorded for the Anthem of the Sun album.

3/17/68 Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco, CA [Dark Star > Born Cross-Eyed]
The complete second set was released. We’re missing the first set up to Lovelight, but it is in the Vault. Per the release notes, “The majority of the songs from set 1 could not be salvaged due to technical problems that were partly due to "sound experiments" conducted on the master tapes during the production of Anthem Of The Sun.”

3/18/68 50 Green Street, San Francisco, CA 
This has traditionally been listed as a Dead show to support the KMPX strikers, but it appears the Dead may not have played that night, or if they did their set was soon cut short.
From Susan Krieger's book Hip Capitalism:
"There were about 500 people assembled in the street outside [the station]... Creedence Clearwater Revival started playing at 3:05 am. Blue Cheer was there. The Grateful Dead set up their instruments and played. A group of people associated with the Dead wanted to take over the transmitter and free the airwaves... Residents up the hill complained about the noise and after about 20 minutes police arrived and ordered the crowd to disperse. They tried to relocate at Pier 10 on the Embarcadero but failed to. Someone forgot to carry over the amplifiers. By 4 am, the bulk of the crowd had gone."
3/20/68 Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, CA
One witness writes that the "Dead played last ... Morning Dew/ Dark Star/ Love Light."

3/22/68 State Fair Coliseum, Detroit, MI

There was a second Detroit show scheduled for 3/23, but per Lost Live Dead, the Dead canceled and didn’t play this show after poor attendance on 3/22. They also canceled a show scheduled for 3/24 in Grand Rapids, MI, due to bad weather.

3/24/68 Parking Lot, San Francisco CA (free daytime strike show – Garcia jams with Traffic)
Having canceled their weekend in Michigan, the Dead returned home early enough for Garcia & Hart to attend this strike show. It's not known whether the full Dead played.
Susan Krieger: "On Saturday and Sunday, March 23 and 24, a street fair was held in a parking lot near 50 Green Street. The fair was originally planned for in front of 50 Green Street but the site was changed when the San Francisco police refused to grant the strikers a permit for closing off the street. Nine bands were scheduled to appear." 
Rolling Stone: "There was also a weekend fair (not to be confused with the first-night party of 500 people dancing in the street) outside the KMPX offices near North Beach, which was highlighted by Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead jamming with Traffic. It was supposed to be a street fair, but the San Francisco city fathers refused the strikers a permit, ostensibly because an announcement read over the air before the strike had caused an unauthorized closing of Haight Street two weeks earlier, so the action took place in a nearby parking lot." (see comments)

There was no show on 3/26/68, whether at Melodyland or an “unknown venue,” despite the traditional listing. The old tape with this date comes from 3/29.

3/31/68 Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco, CA
Our tapes of the March 29-31 Carousel run are incomplete, with the 3/31 tape particularly short. The actual date arrangement is unknown, with some sets being attributed to different dates. Charlie Miller notes: “Date and song order are uncertain (I'm going with Dick's notes on DAT).”

4/3/68 Winterland, San Francisco, CA [Cryptical Envelopment > The Other One > Cryptical Envelopment > New Potato Caboose > Born Cross-Eyed ; Alligator > Caution. (This list possibly comes from a misdated tape.)]

4/12/68 Thee Image, Miami, FL

4/13/68 Thee Image, Miami, FL

4/14/68 Thee Image, Miami, FL
This weekend of shows is not in deadlists:  

4/14/68 Greynolds Park Love-In, Miami, FL (free afternoon show)

4/19/68 Thee Image, Miami, FL

4/20/68 Thee Image, Miami, FL

4/21/68 Thee Image, Miami, FL

An Archive eyewitness review of a show at Thee Image:
“The experience was so overwhelming my memory may not be that clear…it was an incredible experience that I have never forgotten. It changed my music tastes forever. It was like nothing we had ever heard and it will always represent the "real" Dead and SF sound to me…
I think Jerry was really on it the night we went. Incredibly quick and constant with very few "resting spots" during his licks. It was a incredible non-stop flow that I never forgot. Not just fast but moving. Thee Image was an emptied out bowling alley with a low temporary stage so the acoustics were terrible and Pig Pen and Weir were buried in the noise as well as most of the vocals. It was the first (and only) time I heard them so I have a hard time trying to recall the set lists. I had no grid for what I was seeing/hearing.
In general the first set was a lot of the first album and the second set was Anthem of the Sun… I am convinced Dark Star was part of the second set. I have always distinctly remembered the interlude and "scraper" thing and gong from their performance… [It was] a much faster tempo with a different feel to it [so] it did not stand out from the rest of the set. The whole second set was played at an incredible pace... One song I am sure they played was Alligator…that song stuck in memory. And of course the drums stood out on Alligator…  
Two images that stick in my mind are Kreutzmann putting an incense stick on his high cymbal and never taking his eyes off it the entire second set. The other image is of Garcia standing on the edge of the stage doing his thing for what was the longest non-stop music we had ever heard…
“There was no "back stage" at Thee Image so they just hung around in between sets...just off to the side of the stage.”

4/26/68 Electric Factory, Philadelphia, PA

4/27/68 Electric Factory, Philadelphia, PA

4/28/68 Electric Factory, Philadelphia, PA

5/3/68 Columbia University, NYC (free afternoon show) [Morning Dew (per newspaper report)]
This show was filmed – the video confirms that the Cryptical>Other One suite was played. Setlist attributions have come from album songs that were dubbed over the film.

5/4/68 SUNY, Stony Brook, NY
An audience memory: "I was there at Stony Brook for the May 4th show that The Incredible String Band opened. Unfortunately I was only slightly familiar with the Dead then - I had their first album. They played three songs in total. The first song was Good Morning Little School Girl, at about 15 minutes. Two other songs followed, one was about 35 minutes long, and the last one went on for about an hour and fifteen minutes. I wish I could say what the other songs were but I didn't know them at the time (so it is unlikely they were on their first album). I was amazed at how long the songs were so I checked... I remember thinking that the third song was ending after 45 minutes or so - but it sputtered back to life. The show was far from sold out, when I walked away from the front of the gym there was plenty of room to move about." 
“In a set without a break that lasted over two hours, they played one epic number that lasted over an hour.”  [newspaper review]

5/5/68 Central Park, NYC (free afternoon show)  [Morning Dew]
An audience memory: “The Jefferson Airplane played the night before at Fillmore East and announced that they would be playing at the bandshell in Central Park with their friends the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and the Grateful Dead. The BBB played first, then the JA… Shortly into the Dead's set, the last of the afternoon, everyone was up and dancing and didn't sit down until they stopped.
Here is what I can remember. There may have been more.
Morning Dew
Cryptical Envelopment
The Other One
Cryptical Envelopment
Alligator” []
Another witness writes, "They played some of the material that would turn up on Anthem of the Sun: The Other One, New Potato Caboose, though I didn't know those songs by name. I recognized Morning Dew from the first album. They finished with Turn On Your Lovelight."

5/7/68 Electric Circus, NYC (two shows)

5/8/68 Electric Circus, NYC (two shows) [Viola Lee Blues]

5/9/68 Electric Circus, NYC (two shows) [He Was a Friend of Mine]
(Late show, newspaper review: "After opening with a solid, rock-oriented first set [they came] on at midnight with a virtuoso rock-jazz improvisation that must have lasted an hour or more.")

5/17/68 Shrine Exhibition Hall, Los Angeles, CA
“I believe they opened with Morning Dew and I seem to remember Schoolgirl as well as many others.” []

Though it may seem that our tape of the 5/18/68 Santa Clara Fairgrounds afternoon show is incomplete, the Alligator>Caution was in fact the complete set. According to a newspaper review: “Jerry Garcia said they'd do Alligator and they did, for about forty minutes. That was their set and it blew the place wide open.”

5/18/68 Shrine Exhibition Hall, Los Angeles, CA (evening show)

5/24/68 National Guard Armory, St Louis, MO 
An audience memory: “They opened with Morning Dew and went into Schoolgirl second. After that, I didn't recognize anything (this was before Anthem of the Sun came out so it probably was Cryptical). They played for an hour or so, then the opener, a local band, played again, then the Dead came out--but unfortunately I couldn't stay for that set.” []
“Morning Dew was the opener, starting it with a giant Chinese gong, then School Girl and then what I later identified as That's It for the Other One.” [ – actually this is the same reviewer]
Another witness: "I have a clear recollection of Morning Dew ending with a band member grabbing a mic off of the mic stand and crashing it into the six foot tall gong, repeatedly and rotating the mic which still worked, around and around the face of the gong and the most incredible sounds coming out from this along with the that point, right then and there, I decided that I needed to leave St. Louis ASAP and move to the Bay Area to be able to see these guys perform, over and over again, on their home turf...which I did."
[The old Deadbase listed: Lovelight, Cryptical Envelopment > The Other One > Cryptical Envelopment > Dark Star > Saint Stephen > The Eleven > Caution > Feedback > We Bid You Good Night. But this setlist actually comes from 2/5/69.]

5/25/68 National Guard Armory, St Louis, MO
One witness recalls Morning Dew being played. (The 5/24/68 witness may have attended the same show.)

5/30/68 Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco, CA

5/31/68 Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco, CA

6/1/68 Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco, CA

6/1/68 Panhandle, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA (free afternoon show)
Not in deadlists:

6/4/68 Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco, CA “Tuesday Night Jam”
Garcia took part in this jam, along with a host of other SF luminaries including Elvin Bishop, Barry Melton, Steve Miller, etc. It may have been similar to the 5/21/68 jam we have on tape, though more crowded (Ralph Gleason wrote that “there was a long jam session going on with all kinds of guitar players and saxophones and rhythm men”). This wasn’t a Dead show, of course, but it is of interest to Garcia fans, and may remind us of all the unlisted jams Garcia took part in that have vanished because they weren’t taped.

6/7/68 Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco, CA [Saint Stephen > Dark Star]

6/8/68 Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco, CA

6/9/68 Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco, CA

The ’68 Mystery Reels collection includes parts of three shows that aren’t dated or otherwise circulating, thought to be from May or June. These are most likely from the Carousel shows this month, or even the Fillmore East.
Fragment 1 (tracks 1-11): //St Stephen > Cryptical Envelopment > The Other One > Cryptical Envelopment > New Potato Caboose > Alligator > Drums > Jam > Caution//
Fragment 2 (tracks 31-35): St Stephen > Cryptical Envelopment > The Other One > Cryptical Envelopment > Turn On Your Lovelight
Fragment 3 (tracks 36-41): Morning Dew, It Hurts Me Too, Dark Star > St Stephen > Turn On Your Lovelight

6/14/68 Fillmore East, NYC (early show) [Morning Dew ; Cryptical Envelopment > The Other One > Cryptical Envelopment > New Potato Caboose]
Kenny Schachat (who attended the early show): “I'm quite certain that Morning Dew was the first song or at least very early in the set, that the Cryptical > Other One > Cryptical > Caboose came after and was the bulk of the set, followed by one or two at the end. I'm less certain, but I believe they played Good Morning Little Schoolgirl. I'm certain that they did not play Lovelight. I'm pretty sure that they also did not play Saint Stephen… I'm certain that they did not play Dark Star on that night " [deadlists]
Another account: “The first show featured a TOO suite followed, I believe by Schoolgirl.”
An audience tape exists of the late show; an audience member reported that Dark Star started the late show, but is missing from the tape. “The second [show] began with a little ditty called Dark Star. They played DS for perhaps ten minutes--sang the first verse--but the audience didn't seem to "get it." So, they suddenly played real quietly and came to an all-but stop for about a minute to shut the crowd up (oddly this worked) and then let rip the feedback you hear [at the start of the tape].”
A partial SBD tape of the end of the late show has also been released, so possibly more of this run also exists in the Vault.

6/15/68 Fillmore East, NYC (two shows)
The Deadbase setlist for 6/15 was taken from the 6/14 tape. Deadlists reports that Dark Star was played and “it was the whole set,” Weir dedicating it to Wes Montgomery (who had died that morning). This was likely in the late show, since Kenny Schachat didn’t remember it in the early show.
Another account: “The Saturday show was actually better [than Friday 6/14]--they were warmed up, settled in, and had a more aware audience. They played The Other One and Dark Star that night.”

[6/16/68 Daytop Village, Staten Island, NY - The Dead didn't play.]

6/19/68 Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco, CA [St. Stephen; Dancing in the Street]
The tape with this date is actually from 2/19/69.

6/22/68 Travelodge Theater, Phoenix, AZ
A newspaper review: “"Last weekend's Grateful Dead concert was a smash. Too bad not everyone knew it. The further the Dead got into their music the quicker some people got out to their cars." [deadlists]

7/11/68 Shrine Exhibition Hall, Los Angeles, CA

7/12/68 Kings Beach Bowl, Lake Tahoe, CA

7/13/68 Kings Beach Bowl, Lake Tahoe, CA

7/14/68 Marina Green, St. Francis Yacht Club, San Francisco CA
Jazz benefit festival, missing on all setlist sites...but the Dead apparently canceled. 

8/2/68 Hippodrome, San Diego, CA

8/3/68 Hippodrome, San Diego, CA

8/4/68 “Newport Pop Festival,” Orange County Fairgrounds, Costa Mesa, CA [Alligator, Feedback]
“I remember Jerry or Bob telling the crowd "we don't play that anymore" to shouted requests for stuff from the 1st album.” []
Partial film snippets exist: 
(This is one of the only film clips where you can see Garcia bobbing on the edge of the stage with his guitar, a habit he lost in later years.)

8/20/68 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA [Dark Star > St. Stephen > The Eleven > Death Don't Have No Mercy]
This setlist may be taken from the following night, but they were playing it almost every show.

8/28/68 Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, CA
Our tape is just one set, 45 minutes long, so we are missing a set.
As deadlists notes, on the circulating tape, side B starts with an audience recording of Good Morning Little Schoolgirl, introduced by Bill Graham. Most likely the whole tape is from of one of the following Fillmore West shows. (I don't believe there actually was an 8/28 show at the Avalon.)

8/30/68 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA

8/31/68 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA

9/1/68 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA

9/1/68 Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA (possible afternoon show, unconfirmed) 

I am suspicious that our tape of the 9/20/68 Berkeley Community Theater show (45 minutes, including a 25-minute drum solo) is incomplete and missing songs, but it's impossible to say for sure, since the band sounds like it's in some disarray. Mickey Hart often recalled this show in later years - the lengthy Drums with his fellow percussionists was not due to spontaneous equipment failure, but prearranged.

9/22/68 Del Mar Fairgrounds, Del Mar, CA [Cryptical Envelopment > The Other One > Cryptical Envelopment, Good Morning Little Schoolgirl, New Potato Caboose, Alligator > Caution > Feedback, In the Midnight Hour]

10/5/68 Memorial Auditorium, Sacramento, CA

10/9/68 Matrix, San Francisco, CA (Hartbeats show)

10/11/68 Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, CA
One audience member at this Avalon run reports that Pigpen was absent, and “the first song was Morning Dew.”

10/18/68 The Bank, Torrance, CA

10/19/68 Convention Center, Las Vegas, NV 

10/29/68 Matrix, San Francisco, CA (Hartbeats show)

10/31/68 Matrix, San Francisco, CA (Hartbeats show)
Dick Latvala reported that in the Vault "there are two dates, 10/28 and 10/29, both of which have four reels.” (Though he may have gotten dates mixed up.)

11/1/68 Silver Dollar Fair, Chico, CA
We are missing the first set. Jim Powell: “Latvala played a Viola Lee from this date at one of the Dick's Picks release parties.”

11/4/68 Longshoreman’s Hall, San Francisco, CA

11/7/68 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA

11/8/68 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA

11/9/68 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA

11/10/68 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA [Morning Dew opener]

11/15/68 Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR [Morning Dew]

11/16/68 Erb Memorial Union Ballroom, U of Oregon, Eugene, OR
The show was cut short by a false bomb threat.

11/17/68 Eagles Auditorium, Seattle, WA (two shows)

On 11/24/68, members of the Dead jammed with Jefferson Airplane in the Airplane’s show at the Grande Ballroom, Detroit.
A Grande worker wrote: “I remember an Airplane show on a Sunday nite/2 show nite… [In the second show] Jerry and Phil and Bob showed up about 12:30 and jammed with the Airplane til about 4:00 in the morning.”

11/25/68 Memorial Auditorium, Ohio U, Athens, OH [We Bid You Good Night]
Formerly known as 11/23/68.
Tom Constanten joined the Dead at this free show.
A recent newspaper article recalls this show, but with unreliable setlist details that I don't trust:

11/27/68 Kinetic Playground, Chicago, IL [Cryptical Envelopment > The Other One > Cryptical Envelopment ; Alligator]

11/28/68 Kinetic Playground, Chicago, IL
Ron Ramsey attended the Nov. 27-28 shows: “I know for sure they did 'That's It For The Other One' that first night... Also on the 27th: Alligator. As for the rest of the songs, they did pretty much the standard repertoire for late 1968: Doin' That Rag, Dupree's, Dark Star > Saint Stephen > the Eleven > Lovelight, Feedback, etc. But other than the two mentioned, I cannot say which nights they did what. (They did not, to my eternal regret, play New Potato Caboose either night.) …Both nights were two set shows, with the Dead as the closing act.” [deadlists] (I am doubtful that Doin’ That Rag or Dupree’s would have been played, since they don’t appear on live tapes until late January, but it’s possible.)

11/29/68 Hyde Park Teen Center, Cincinnati, OH [Good Morning Little Schoolgirl opener; possibly That’s It for the Other One > New Potato Caboose]
“On Friday night, they started with a rather sloppy version of Good Morning Little School Girl, but in short order got into the groove and blew the roof off the place.” [Lost Live Dead comment]
(This reminds me of the newspaper review of their Electric Circus shows in May: “Their first tune is always a shambles - "You'll have to wait till we figure out who we are and what we're doing here," says Jerry Garcia.”)

11/30/68 Hyde Park Teen Center, Cincinnati, OH (two shows) [Dark Star, Saint Stephen, Turn On Your Lovelight]
Tom Constanten: “There was one exquisite gig in Cincinnati where both Pigpen and I played keyboard. He had the B-3 and I had the Continental.”
These shows have long been attributed to 11/24/68, and there has been much confusion and varying memories over how many shows there were at the Teen Center – several audience accounts can be found at
The promoter recalled that on Friday, “They were two hours late, and they played for three hours.” But one person remembered, “We waited forever, then the band played only a few songs then said they had to leave.” Another person agreed that on the first night, “The Dead were beat, and I mean tired! …The NEXT night was better, of course.” One of the lightshow crew recalls both nights as life-changing: “Saturday night was as musically explosive as Friday.” Everyone agreed that the small building (a converted church) was packed, and the Dead were very loud, their equipment filling up much of the space. Despite all the reviews, no specific songs were remembered except possibly Saint Stephen & Morning Dew.

12/1/68 Grande Ballroom, Detroit, MI [We Bid You Goodnight]

12/6/68 Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA

12/13/68 The Bank, Torrance, CA [Lovelight]

12/14/68 The Bank, Torrance, CA

12/20/68 Shrine Exhibition Hall, Los Angeles, CA [Good Morning Little Schoolgirl ; Morning Dew]
Only the last half hour of the show circulates; a newspaper review mentions Schoolgirl. I think it’s likely that a Dark Star>St Stephen preceded the Eleven on our tape.  
“I'm pretty sure they played Morning Dew with the gong adding to the opening flourish.” []

12/23/68 Matrix, San Francisco, CA – “Jam Session with Jerry Garcia, Jack Casady and others”
A tape of the 24th circulates that has Garcia jamming with Harvey Mandel’s band. (The new Deadbase has a probably fake setlist attached to the 23rd.)

12/28/68 Catacombs, Houston, TX [Cryptical Envelopment > The Other One > Cryptical Envelopment ; Jam ; Morning Dew]
(Another attendee recalled The Other One, Alligator, New Potato Caboose, Dark Star>The Eleven.) 
An eyewitness reports: “Most of what was played was from Anthem of the Sun (That's It for the Other One, Cryptical Envelopment, etc. and a very good 'space jam' that came back into the album to finish). There was a second keyboard player, besides Pigpen, so this was probably Constanten. I also know for sure that Morning Dew was played (mainly because it was my favorite from the first album), also I remember Garcia's introduction to the song, 'let's get the old shit out of the way' and then the cymbals starting up Morning Dew. Schoolgirl was probably played but I'm not certain. I know Pigpen definitely had a couple of songs, but mostly stood around looking uncomfortable.” [deadlists]  
(Pigpen recalled in a Sept '69 interview that when the Dead were in Houston, "I woke up sick and feeling feverish, and we had to play that night. [But after having some miso soup,] I could feel better even while I was taking it. I even managed to play one set.")

12/31/68 Winterland, San Francisco, CA [In the Midnight Hour, Dark Star > Saint Stephen > The Eleven > Turn On Your Lovelight]
(This was the Dead's first live 16-track recording. David Lemieux says, "The reels of 12/31/68 were erased to record the January '69 Avalon shows…with one lonely Midnight Hour left on tape, featuring all of the musicians who performed that night in an all-star jam. The sound on this 16-track recording is very poor, filled with distortion.")  (There are a few vague memories of the show in the comments...that the Dead "played Midnight Hour all night;" "Turn On Your Lovelight seemed to go on forever"...)

August 22, 2014

1967 Setlists

1967 is very much the “lost year” of the Dead. Out of about 120 shows played that year, we only have about a dozen on tape. Surprisingly, there are actually quite a few memories and accounts of lost ’67 shows available, so we can still get a good picture of how the Dead’s repertoire evolved through the year. As an experiment, I thought I would try compiling all the songs known to be played in 1967 – from the circulating tapes, the setlists available on deadlists and deadbase, and the reviews of lost shows on and Here are the results…

Updated October 2017.

1-13-67 [witness]
It's All Over Now, Baby Blue

1-14-67 [tape & film]
Dancin' in the Streets
Viola Lee Blues
Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
(The Morning Dew on our tape comes from a later date, and it doesn't seem to have been played at this show.)

3-18-67 [tape]
Set One:
Me and My Uncle
Next Time You See Me
He Was A Friend Of Mine
Smokestack Lightnin'
Morning Dew
It Hurts Me Too
Beat It On Down The Line
Dancin' In The Streets
Set Two:
Golden Road
Cream Puff War
The Same Thing
Cold Rain and Snow
Viola Lee Blues
Death Don't Have No Mercy

3-24-67 [Deadbase]
Viola Lee Blues

4-8-67 [TV show]
Cream Puff War
(Walkin’ Blues – played as comparison with Quicksilver’s version)

4-9-67 [film clips]
Dancin’ in the Streets
King Bee
Viola Lee Blues 
Chevrolet (sung by Garcia)  
(The Youtube clip is labeled “4-20-67” but this seems to actually be from the 4-9-67 street dance/Panhandle show.)

Golden Road (opened the set) [deadbase]
Viola Lee Blues (An attendee writes: "I remember the Dead ending a set (I think they only played a single set) with Viola Lee Blues.")

4-28-67 [ comment]
Viola Lee Blues
Golden Road
Cream Puff War

4-29-67 [deadbase/deadlists comment]
Viola Lee Blues

Louie Louie [deadbase]
Good Morning Little Schoolgirl [ comment]
(This show was at the Awalt High School gym, possibly accounting for the odd cover. There are an astonishing number of reviewers on, which apparently has a strong contingent from Mountain View; of course their memories are all vague.)

5-20-67 [ comment]
Morning Dew

5-29-67 [witness]
Viola Lee Blues
It's All Over Now, Baby Blue
Cold Rain and Snow
Good Morning Little Schoolgirl

6-1-67 Tompkins Square Park [deadlists]
Golden Road
Dancin' in the Streets
Midnight Hour
Beat It On Down The Line
Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
Cold Rain and Snow
Morning Dew
Viola Lee Blues
(This setlist comes from Mike Bobrik, an eyewitness - a couple tracks are confirmed by a film clip.)

6-6-67 [deadbase]
I'm A King Bee
It Hurts Me Too
The Same Thing
Big Boss Man
Midnight Hour
Beat It On Down The Line
Me and My Uncle
Minglewood Blues
Don't Ease Me In
Cold Rain and Snow
Viola Lee Blues
It's All Over Now Baby Blue
(I’m uncertain about the provenance or reliability of this setlist, but it looks fairly plausible – most of these songs were in their regular repertoire this year. Whoever wrote this list mostly grouped it by singer: Pigpen songs/Weir songs/Garcia.)
(Phil Lesh also remembers Alligator being played at the Café au Go Go.)

6-7-67 [ comments]
Viola Lee Blues

6-18-67 [tape]
Cold Rain and Snow
Viola Lee Blues
Alligator > Caution

6-21-67 [film clip/ comment]
Alligator (possibly from an earlier park show)
(possibly Viola Lee Blues)

6-28-67 [newspaper review]
Good Morning Little Schoolgirl

7-2-67 [witnesses]
Dancin' in the Streets
Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
(Deadbase listed this as 6-xx-67 El Camino Park, Palo Alto.)

7-18-67 [witnesses]
Golden Road
Turn On Your Lovelight (possibly)

7-21-67 [deadlists]
Set one:
1. Viola Lee Blues (30:00)
2. Morning Dew (5:00).
Set two:
1. The Golden Road (3:00)
2. (Pigpen song) (13:00)
3. New, New Minglewood Blues (4:00)
4. (????) (14:00)
5. [Friend of Mine] (?) (8:00)
6. Midnight Hour (15:00).
(Tom Ordon wrote: “All times are approximate since I was just looking at my watch. I had the first album, so I'm sure songs 2, 4 and 5 were not on it.”)
(The Pigpen song was probably Alligator or Lovelight. I don’t know what song 4 could have been – it’s not noted as a Pigpen song, the time’s too long for New Potato, and Dancin’ should have been a recognizable song.)

7-23-67 [tape]
Jam w/ Neal Cassady Rap
Turn On Your Lovelight

7-31-67 [newspaper review]
Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
Post-show 50-minute jam w/ Jefferson Airplane and Luke & the Apostles

8-4-67 [tape]
New Potato Caboose
Viola Lee Blues

8-5-67 (afternoon show) [newspaper review]
Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
I Know You Rider

8-5-67 [tape]
Turn On Your Lovelight

8-6-67 (afternoon show) [deadbase/ comment]
Morning Dew
Viola Lee Blues
Alligator (with a drum solo & feedback)
Dancin’ in the Streets
Encore: Gloria jam w/ Jefferson Airplane [ comment] 

8-6-67 (Expo ’67)
Viola Lee Blues (Phil Lesh: “We warm up with a couple of quickies – Cold Rain and Snow, maybe, or Sittin’ on Top of the World, and then slope right into Viola Lee Blues.” He recalls the stage manager stopped the band in the middle of Viola Lee.)

August ’67, Golden Gate Park [TV clip from “Hippie Temptation”]
Dancin’ in the Streets

Sittin’ on Top of the World [ comment]
(possibly Golden Road & Turn On Your Lovelight) [ comment]

8-28-67 [film clip]
Viola Lee Blues
(possibly Good Morning Little Schoolgirl) [deadlists comment]

“5-5-67” [tape]
He Was A Friend Of Mine
Golden Road
New Potato Caboose

9-3-67 [tape]
Midnight Hour
Dancin’ In The Streets
It Hurts Me Too
Cold Rain and Snow
Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
Viola Lee Blues
Big Boss Man
(Midnight Hour could be from 9-4.)

9-4-67 [tape]
Caution > Feedback

9-15-67 [tape]
Viola Lee Blues
Cold Rain and Snow
Beat It On Down The Line
Good Morning Little School Girl
Morning Dew
Alligator > Caution > Feedback

Dancin’ in the Streets [deadbase, confirmed by film clip]

Viola Lee Blues (first set)
Alligator > (Caution) > Feedback (second set, w/ Mickey Hart)

10-1-67 [ comments]
Good Morning Little Schoolgirl

10-14-67 [deadbase]
Set One:
Cold Rain and Snow
Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
Set Two:
Alligator > Caution

10-22-67 [tape]
Morning Dew
New Potato Caboose
It Hurts Me Too
Cold Rain and Snow
Turn On Your Lovelight
Beat It On Down The Line
Cryptical Envelopment > The Other One > Cryptical Envelopment

“1-27-67” [tape]
Viola Lee Blues
Cold Rain and Snow
Alligator > Caution
(possibly Good Morning Little Schoolgirl – cuts off after 2 seconds on our tape)
(Morning Dew & New Potato Caboose on this tape are AUD recordings of the 10-22-67 show.)

Cryptical Envelopment > The Other One > Cryptical Envelopment
Alligator > Caution
(This has circulated as studio outtakes, but is actually from an unknown live show.)

10-31-67 [witness]
Viola Lee Blues

11-10-67 [tape]
Viola Lee Blues
It Hurts Me Too
Morning Dew
Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
Cryptical Envelopment > The Other One > Cryptical Envelopment
New Potato Caboose
Alligator > Caution > Feedback

11-11-67 [tape]
Turn On Your Lovelight
Death Don't Have No Mercy
Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
Cryptical Envelopment > The Other One > Cryptical Envelopment
Alligator > Caution > Feedback

12-8-67 [newspaper review]
Midnight Hour (“a freely improvised half-hour version”)

12-22-67 [ comment]
(possibly Good Morning Little Schoolgirl, Beat It On Down The Line)

12-26-67 [ comment]
Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
Beat It On Down The Line
Cold Rain and Snow
Alligator>Caution [newspaper review] 
(The review also confirms Schoolgirl and Cold Rain & Snow.)

12-27-67 [ comments]
Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
Morning Dew
Viola Lee Blues 


"Whicker's World" TV show, spring 1967 - Golden Road
"Petulia" film, spring 1967 - Viola Lee Blues
Dates & locations unknown. I believe these were not actual shows, but arranged for the cameras. Although Blair Jackson says the “Viola Lee Blues” in Petulia was filmed at the Avalon, the Olompali Sunday Times #2 reported in May ’67 that “they were playing live in a warehouse here in the city.”

The Taping Compendium (p.566) lists a TV clip filmed at the Panhandle, Golden Gate Park, SF, sometime in ’67, in which the Dead play Yonders Wall & King Bee. My guess is this is the same as the “4/20/67” Panhandle clip on youtube, just with a different soundtrack; not sure how Yonders Wall was identified.


Deadbase used to list Smokestack Lightning and King Bee, and now lists Cold Rain & Snow and Hi-Heel Sneakers. All of these were misdated from the 11-19-66 tape.

6-8-67 [from – omitted on deadbase]
BIODTL, Golden Road, New Minglewood Blues, Cream Puff War, Cryptical Envelopment, New Potato Caboose, Born Cross-Eyed, Alligator, Caution
(The lack of a reputable source, and the presence of two songs that hadn’t been written yet, cast doubt on this list.)

6-28-67 [from – omitted on deadbase]
The Other One, Minglewood Blues, Dark Star, The Eleven, William Tell, Death Don’t Have No Mercy, Clementine
(If this were from 1968 it might be believable.)

9-4-67 [deadbase]
Morning Dew, Cold Rain and Snow, Viola Lee Blues, Alligator > Caution, New Potato Caboose
(Deadbase notes, “could be from the previous night.” This setlist is from "1/27/67" and doesn't belong on this date. Deadbase also listed “Dark Star Jam” on 9-3-67, from a rehearsal.)

10-31-67 [deadbase]
Alligator > Caution, Cryptical > Other One > Cryptical
(This tape was misdated from the November ’67 Shrine shows. Not to be confused with the other 10/31/67 tape from an unknown live show.)

12-13-67 [deadbase]
Dark Star
(There was no 12-13-67 show, at the Shrine or anywhere. The Dead may well have played Dark Star that month, though.)


One pattern among audience memories of these shows is that they’d typically remember one or two standouts, usually songs they recognized off the Dead’s first album. Schoolgirl was clearly the song that made the biggest impression on audiences, to judge by how often it’s remembered – followed by Viola Lee Blues.
The Dead’s new songs tended not to be recognized, of course; and the covers they played at shows are certainly under-represented on this list. So it’s hard to tell just how rare some of these songs actually were in 1967. There was a definite small core repertoire that they would play in show after show, and that is mostly what shows up here.
The Dead seem to have steadily winnowed down their repertoire through the year – as they introduced new jam songs, they’d drop older numbers, and some of their cover tunes became more infrequent. Songs like Cream Puff War, Golden Road, and even the venerable Dancin’ in the Streets disappear by the fall. Only about eight of the songs regularly played in spring ‘67 were still being played in the fall.
This had been an ongoing process since 1966, of course, as various folk, blues, and R&B covers and early “poppy” Dead originals were gradually discarded (even I Know You Rider was abruptly shuffled off in ‘67). Over the course of ’67 they focused increasingly on the extended jams – Garcia mentioned in a July ’67 interview that when they’d recorded their album in January, “at that time we were mostly doing blues-oriented things. Now we’re starting to get into a different thing.”

These are the numbers of times each song is included in this list (including the uncertain and “possible” times).

Viola Lee Blues – 26
Good Morning Little Schoolgirl – 19
Alligator - 15
Cold Rain and Snow - 12
Caution - 11
Dancin’ in the Streets – 10
Beat It On Down The Line - 10 
Morning Dew – 9 
Golden Road – 9
Turn On Your Lovelight – 6
Midnight Hour - 5
It Hurts Me Too – 5
New Potato Caboose - 4
Cryptical > Other One - 4
Cream Puff War - 3
He Was A Friend Of Mine – 3
It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue – 3 
Death Don’t Have No Mercy - 2
Me and My Uncle – 2
The Same Thing – 2
Big Boss Man – 2
King Bee – 2 
Gloria - 2
New Minglewood Blues - 2
Next Time You See Me – 1
Smokestack Lightning – 1
Don’t Ease Me In – 1
Sittin’ on Top of the World – 1
I Know You Rider - 1
Lindy – 1
Louie Louie – 1
Walkin’ Blues – 1
Chevrolet – 1

These were the new songs introduced in 1967:
Alligator  - written in late May, it starts being played immediately in June and becomes a setlist centerpiece. It took a couple months before it was paired regularly with Caution.
Turn On Your Lovelight – first appears in July, but doesn’t appear in late-’67 setlists as often as you’d expect.
New Potato Caboose – they were composing it back in March, but it doesn’t appear til August. It also doesn’t seem to be played that often in late ’67, though this could be misleading since no audience member could recognize it.
Cryptical>Other One suite – written by October, this was one of the first songs they tackled in the Anthem studio sessions, and was likely played in almost every show that fall.
Dark Star – written in September, recorded in November, but (along with its B-side, Born Cross-Eyed) not known to have turned up in live shows til January ’68.

It remains a small mystery how many of the new songs and extended suites that suddenly appear in January ’68 were being played in December ’67. The Dead had a recording-studio break of over a month from mid-November to late December with almost no shows played, and it’s likely a lot of the early ’68 concepts were put together in that period.
I should mention that “Feedback” starts turning up in August ’67, and was soon linked to Caution as the favored way to end a show. Though not a composition per se, this was a major development in the Dead’s approach to their music.
At the start of the year, they were only playing two original songs – Cream Puff War (written in spring ’66) and Golden Road (a new song written in Jan/Feb ’67). Both of these were cast aside – Cream Puff War last appears on 4/28, and Golden Road apparently stopped being played in the summer.

A few other song notes:

Cold Rain & Snow – one of the most common 1967 regulars, it utterly disappears in ’68, til turning up again on 5/31/69.
Dancin’ in the Streets – possibly dropped after Sept ’67, it resurfaces twice in March ’68, then drops from sight til 6/8/69.
Me & My Uncle – spotted twice in early ’67, then vanishes until 4/27/69.
Next Time You See Me – no known performances between 3/18/67 & 9/27/69.
He Was A Friend of Mine – after summer ’67, vanished until 12/7/68.
Smokestack Lightning – until 1970, this song was always rare.
The Same Thing – not heard again til a one-time appearance on 12/31/71.
Death Don’t Have No Mercy – this seems to have been a rare song (appearing twice in ’66 and ’67) until it became a regular in March ’68.
Midnight Hour – odd that it doesn’t show up in ‘67 until June; but it would be a rare song for the next couple years, til the end of ’69.
Big Boss Man – a regular in ’66; introduced on 9/3/67 as “an old song;” then vanishes til 6/27/69.
Minglewood Blues – another ’66 regular that barely shows up in ’67, it resurfaces on 4/26/69.
Sittin’ on Top of the World – same story: vanishes in ’67, played twice in March ’68, then disappears until 4/11/69.
It’s All Over Now Baby Blue – yet another ’66 regular that vanishes in ’67, resurfacing on 4/6/69.
Don’t Ease Me In – uncertain whether it was actually played this year (it was barely played in ’66); not heard again til 3/20/70.
King Bee – not heard again til 2/11/69.
I Know You Rider - though the Dead recorded an instrumental track for the album in January, it then disappears from the record, aside from one August '67 report, until 4/5/69.
Lindy – heard a few times in late ’66, it mysteriously appears for the last time in August ’67.
Gloria – perhaps this doesn’t count since it was played in a jam with the Airplane; but a fragment was recently discovered from 4/9/67, it was reported again on 1/30/68, and it would return to the Dead’s sets in the ‘80s. One San Francisco musician remembers "the Dead played Gloria a lot in those days." We don't know who sang it, but my bet's on Pigpen.
Louie Louie – other than a tease on 6/7/70, this wasn’t part of the Dead’s repertoire until a brief stretch in 1988.
Walkin’ Blues – other than the brief TV airing, this appears not to have been in the Dead’s repertoire at all until 1985. (Maybe they’d played it back in ’65.)
Chevrolet - a blues-rock arrangement of an old blues song done by Jim Kweskin, this survives only in a fragment from the 4/9/67 park show.

August 9, 2014

2/15/73 Dane County Coliseum, Madison (Guest Post)

February 1973: A Mystical Grateful Dead Show and the Dawning of a New Era.

By Taylor Coble, aka quinn76

“You can’t hop the freights anymore but you can chase the Grateful Dead around. You can have all your tires blow out in some weird town in the Midwest and you can get hell from strangers. You can have something that lasts throughout your life as an adventure, the times you took chances… If we’re providing some margin of that possibility, then that’s great.”—Jerry Garcia


The middle of winter in Wisconsin hardly seems like a setting conducive for spirited dancing to inspirational music. But on the 15th of February 1973, at the Dane County Coliseum, some type of magic took shape. It was the Grateful Dead’s first of eight shows they played during their brief tour of the Midwest, and it marked the birth of a new era for the band. One reviewer summed up the event: “They were ready for this tour. All those breakouts in the Stanford show…[were] all the fuel this band needed to blow everyone's mind in a whole new way.” Indeed, many have dubbed this show a “mindmelt,” and one recent listener admitted that it’s “forever burned in my ears.”

In hindsight, it seems random that the Dead would deliver a scorcher amidst a freezing winter, as one reviewer noted: “Ask yourself: why, in the middle of nowhere, during the bleakest part of the year?”  [1] But those familiar with the Dead know they can work wonders. Six days earlier they had escaped disaster when all tweeters in their proto-“wall of sound” system were blown in the first three seconds at the Stanford University show. Undaunted, the band and crew soldiered through the concert in makeshift fashion, and soon headed east for a tour of the Corn Belt. The trek from California sand to Wisconsin snow seemed to only enhance their synergistic sensibilities on the stage…

The performance the Dead put on in Madison took on a special character of its own. Its spot in Grateful Dead lore was cast long ago, as one reviewer remembers: “As far as 2-15-73 is concerned, I still believe it is the epitome of the Grateful Dead.” Another poses the rhetorical question: “[I’ll] still take 2/15/73 Madison over any other. You can't really go wrong with Feb. '73 though, can you?” But all accolades aside, this show is not without its warts. Even the best audio source currently available (see link below) is still marred with some sonic inferiority when compared to other shows of the year. Tape clips and brief dropouts hamper some tracks, as well as pedestrian performances of a few songs. Moreover, this show is not graced with the “Betty Board” seal, as the Terrapin Station BBS does not cite the show as having been recorded and mixed by the famed sound engineer, Betty Cantor-Jackson.  [2] Nevertheless, this show certainly holds its own compared to any on the tour, and—arguably—to any of the year!

A Curious Concert

Despite being a known show, it’s shrouded in mystery. For one thing, the original two-track reels have been missing from the vault for many years. Even the sound-check songs that were played are disputed. A reputable source like DeadBase Online Search lists Loose Lucy, Jack Straw, Box Of Rain and Uncle John’s Band; while DeadBase IX lists only Loose Lucy and Jack Straw (although it added Box of Rain and Uncle John’s Band in the X edition). To further compound the enigma, Deadlists notes only Jack Straw and Box of Rain as the “questionable” sound-check songs, saying “there is no corroborative evidence” for this. Likewise, the soundboard source for this show on The Archive (shnid 1580) includes a two song sound-check with Jack Straw & Box of Rain only. But The DeadHeads Taping Compendium is void of a sound-check altogether!

This Madison date is also wrapped in the mystique of being a well-known and lauded show, yet seldom making current short lists of the all time greats. Apparently, it was the most downloaded show on the Internet Archive for a time, but that version (along with over 150 written reviews) mysteriously vanished without a trace in 2010.  [3] Since then, it has had a sluggish recovery. The latest source was uploaded on the archive in April of 2013, but has largely gone unnoticed. It seems strange. While it does receive attention on torrent sites like Etree and Lossless Legs, it pales in comparison to many other shows. However, when the Madison show is mentioned in conversation, the printed word or cyberspace, it garners attention: “my first bootleg cassette;” “a desert island show for me;” “the first Dead show I’d ever heard!” and “this is one for the ages.” But simple research reveals it receives lighter traffic in downloads, written reviews, and recent forum discussions.

Even when sticking to 1973, the date seems to get lost in the shuffle of other flagship dates: 5/26, 6/10, 6/22, 7/27, 10/19, 11/11, 11/17, 11/30, 12/2 and 12/19 serve as examples. One possible explanation is that many of the aforementioned dates have seen commercial release over the past few years. Some listeners favor hard copies with liner notes and pristine sound quality, while others simply obtain what is commercially available, putting the 2/15 date at a disadvantage. Of course, some folks don’t acquire official releases on principle, while others don’t hear those dates since the streams of those shows are pulled from the Archive. Still, 2/15 would probably benefit from the “hype” and attention that official releases receive, and therefore be on the radar for more people. But since it’s MIA in “the vault,” the likelihood of that happening is slim to nil. But lingering questions persist…

Has this show become something of an old forgotten chestnut? Could it really be a sleeper show, a clandestine dark horse that emerged from a dreary month in 1973? Whatever the case, there’s a certain mystical charm about it that’s elusive; it defies clear explanation, yet beckons curiosity, and invites deep inquiry. No matter, this show deserves the full treatment of an annotated review, and to be firmly placed in its rightful historical context amongst the colossal catalog of live Grateful Dead music.

A Busy Year

It is important to note that 1973 was a watershed year for the band on many levels. For one, it was the first year devoid of any appearance from Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, as he finally succumbed to his long-standing ill health in early March. A week later the Dead headlined their very first arena run;  [4] and in February they introduced a slew of original Jerry songs. This year would also find the Dead revisiting thematic jams, such as the “Mind Left Body Jam” and the nameless “6/8 riff” that had been broached in the previous year. It wasn’t until 1973, however, that these were fully realized and given the full treatment in performance.  [5]

The “Spanish Jam” returned briefly in 1973 as well, having lain dormant since 1970. Nobody’s Fault But Mine now featured vocals by Jerry—the last one in that format being from 1966! The “Feelin’ Groovy Jam” was incorporated into the transitional jam of China Cat Sunflower into I Know You Rider. Moreover, 1973 had the last of the Bird Songs of the 70s, and the only Here Comes Sunshine versions of the 70s (save one lone performance in the following year).  [6] 1973 also produced an increased number of quality audience source recordings of shows when compared to the last two years; and it also witnessed the birth of the first Grateful Dead fliers and fanzines: Dead in Words, In Concert and The Tape Exchange, which helped to spark tape trading among “Dead Freaks” or “DeadHeads.”

The band launched their own record label, Grateful Dead Records, and released Wake of the Flood, their first proper studio album in three years. In May they played three three-set shows (and once again in June), and in July they also played at the largest music festival in their career. Furthermore, the Dead gave a one-time tour in September with an added brass section!  [7] Clearly, 1973 was a busy year, but the Madison concert in February predates all of these events.

The show encapsulates the sound of the Midwest tour in February of 1973, and offers a glimpse into the vast ocean of sound that would come to define the year. Indeed, one attendee of the show commented on the Dead’s sound, and how it “seemed like the beginning of the new era.” This period has been musically characterized as laid-back and sophisticated, with words like “jazzy,” “breezy” and “honey” assigned to it. The year is known to feature steady-paced shows with predictable first sets and exploratory second sets. The band’s previous year was arguably their best yet, and now they were entering a peak of dynamic and lithe musicianship.

The Sound of Early ‘73

1973 marked a period where the band could execute a variety of styles within a single show, and sometimes within a single jam. Their daring seemingly knew no bounds, and one idiom or vamp might fearlessly turn on a dime into an entirely different musical direction. Of course, this exploratory nature didn’t always lend itself to accessible, toe-tapping music, but the rewarding element of mystery and surprise kept things fresh and exciting. The Dead hardly left a stone unturned, probing for discoveries and blazing new trails with nearly every show. The shows themselves were longer in length (“epic three and a half hour Dali paintings,” wrote a listener), and the band’s ever increasing musical arsenal allowed them to introduce more variety than ever before. The level of energy and intensity in their playing of the previous year was replaced by more precision, sophistication, and jazzy ensemble playing—all done in a mellow vibe that sometimes bordered on the polite. The Madison show serves as a quintessential archetype for the beginning of this period.

Before embarking upon their February tour of ‘73, The Grateful Dead had taken the prior month off from touring, allowing for woodshedding, writing and the rehearsing of seven original songs: Here Comes Sunshine, Row Jimmy, China Doll, They Love Each Other, Loose Lucy, Eyes of the World and Wave That Flag. The latter tune eventually morphed into what became known as U.S. Blues, once puckish lyrics like “Trap the cat, bell the rat” were dropped. During an interview in 1973, Jerry Garcia said of the songs: “The tunes that me and Robert Hunter wrote are the best we've ever written…They're a little more sophisticated in terms of structure than our other ones.”  [8] The Grateful Dead would competently play them all for the second time ever at the Madison show.

“It could be that music is one of those things left that isn’t completely devoid of meaning”—Jerry Garcia


The first set in 1973 displayed the band’s shorter song writing efforts, often tinged with a countrified Americana flavor with ditties like Tennessee Jed and Brown Eyed Women. Like virtually every Grateful Dead show since 1970, the first set is something of a “warm-up” for the second set, but the music played this night in Madison is “warm” in the most positive sense of the word.

NOTE: This review is based upon the current Matrix source on The Archive by dusborne: 
Soundboard (shnid:1580): MR > D Latvala Reels @ 3 3/4 ips > DBX Reels @ 7 1/2 ips > PCM > DAT > CD and Audience (shnid:124195).  [9]

Loose Lucy: It’s evident from the opening that the boys came to warm people up with some impassioned playing. This rendering carries an extra dash of raunchy that beckons the hips to sway once heard. The first few seconds of the song are clipped, but it hardly matters as one is swept away with the story of lust and infidelity that warns: “don’t shake the tree when the fruit ain’t ripe.” Well, it sure sounds ripe and ready here! The tempo of the tune was sped up considerably the following year, but the less frantic and slower groove here contains a better flow.

Beat It On Down The Line: Twelve beats kick off a jouncy version of Jesse Fuller’s classic that features spirited vocal harmonies, compliments of Bob Weir and Donna Godchaux. Following the song, Bobby assures the crowd that they’re making sure “everything is plugged into everything right.”

Brown-Eyed Women: A gusty version that sways with ease. Jerry’s twang-induced vocal accentuates the lyrical references to prohibition, the depression, and a family scraping to get by in “Bigfoot County.” This touching yarn of “Jack and Delilah Jones” is a classic Grateful Dead American folk tale that remained a beloved staple, and this polished performance shines.

Mexicali Blues: This rendering of the first collaboration between Bob Weir and lyricist John Barlow is delivered in typical ’73 fashion. Phil Lesh’s bass plucking trots steadily alongside his energized backing vocals that sound particularly robust in the mix. Keith Godchaux’s well placed ivory tinkling adds the perfect touch above Bobby’s quasi croon. Tonight Bobby sings the final line: “And he made me trade the gallows for the Mexicali blues,” before altering the lyric to: “Now I spend my lifetime running with the Mexicali blues” later in the year.

Tennessee Jed: This has to be one of the definitive versions of the year. It plays with extra swagger as Jerry gives full honky-tonk treatment to the hayseed tale. Jerry’s grit-laden ending solo really picks and bends a garish note, and the audible crowd shows their rowdy appreciation. Lyricist Robert Hunter later said he wrote the words for the tune while “topped up on vino tinto.” It sounds as if Jerry is in harmony with that state of mind on this number, and it works amusingly well.

Looks Like Rain: A flush rendering of Bobby’s sappy, yet heartfelt love song failed to be met with the same reception as the previous tune. The perpetual crowd chatter suggests they were impatient with a love ballad or still in a rowdy mood. The original soundboard source here was hampered by a painful glitch in the middle of Jerry’s solo, but here the wound is dressed nicely with artful crossfading. This version sounds standard for the time, as Bobby belts out the ending cadence with moderate conviction.

Box of Rain: This beloved tune helps to gain the momentum again. Phil sounds happy to be singing what once was a somber lament for his late father. Like nearly all versions of this song, it’s emotive and touching. The crowd cheers and Phil bellows his usual “Thank-you!” following the last note. During tuning, a crowd member curiously requests “Willie & the Hand Jive,” a song the band had never played before (although they would 13 years later!). [10]

Row Jimmy: This is a captivating version of the song, thanks in part to Jerry’s aptly placed slide runs. This reading is played more up-tempo than what it later would become. This version, along with the one played on the 28th, make for essential early versions. During an interview in the mid 70s, on recording the song, Jerry said: “I loved it. Nobody else liked it very much.” It’s sure hard not to like it here.

Jack Straw: Unlike Row Jimmy, this song plays at a slower tempo in this earlier incarnation. According to Bobby, the song was inspired by Steinbeck’s Of Mice And Men, and this ballad was written in the “troubadour tradition.” It’s laden with amiable, concentrated vocal harmonies, but this narrative song sounds a trifle phoned-in on this night.

China Cat Sunflower->I Know You Rider: This is a stupendous showcase, like virtually every one played in 1973. The “Feelin’ Groovy Jam” that graces the transitional jam out of “China Cat” would not be in the fold for another month, but nevertheless the jamming here is very sprightly and inspired. The band is firing on all cylinders with concentrated syncopation, and Jerry’s needlepoint licks make sitting still nearly impossible. He even quotes the “Mountain Jam” for a brief spell commencing around the 6:15 mark. The “Rider” counterpart is equally salient, and concludes the suite in stunning fashion.

Me and My Uncle: Here is a rollicking telling of the familiar story of mayhem and misfortune. This version of the tune—a song they played more than any other in their canon—includes the rarely sung altered lyric “I grabbed a bottle, cracked him in the jaw” instead of the usual “I shot him down lord, he never saw.” This is likely closer to the way John Phillips had originally penned it. [11]

Bertha: The boys launch into a competent rendering of the barnstormer about a “troublesome dame” that often was slated as the first set opener when played. Here, however, it mixes well in the first set shuffle with a fitting “Bakersfield era” hue to it. Jerry has a slight vocal hiccup on the opening verse, but hardly a blemish is noticed, and Jerry and crew bring it home before embarking on a beast (see next tune).

Playin’ In The Band: For some, this is when the show begins to really catch fire. All versions of this song performed in February of ‘73 are superlative, but this one is truly unique. Spanning only 15 minutes, this “Playin’” is kept on a shorter leash for the era, but not a note is wasted. It’s reminiscent of the more energetic, compact versions offered during the European tour the previous year, but it’s infused with more measured and thoughtful directions. Jerry seems to place his notes and voiced phrases with careful lyrical expression. At the 2:55 mark, he employs his familiar “underwater” tone, exploring various peaks and valleys before arriving at a segment described by a reviewer as a “wonderful, spooky jam.” Commencing at 7:10, Jerry plays a repeating lick for 20 seconds before the pseudo theme dissolves into an impressionistic jazz wash with Keith and Billy banging, and Phil deftly milking his bass. At 11:55, the band journeys into an almost quiet, spacey abyss for a moment before Jerry hints the telltale notes to bring them back home… but hold your horses! Jerry then mysteriously drops out for a few seconds, before returning in earnest with a swirling flurry of dreamy, delicate notes that seemingly dance off his fret-board effortlessly. The band then transits back into the chorus (even Donna’s passionate cries from stage left aren’t too jarring here), and the song ends before a transfixed crowd. Donna offers the rare “Thank-you!”

Casey Jones: Instead of retiring the first set after “Playin’,” the band charge ahead into a galloping version of the song about the doomed railroad engineer. Although this crowd pleaser had been in rotation for over three years at this point, the tune seems to have reached a certain maturity in ’73 that suited the song’s ending cadence exceptionally well. At one point it sounds like Jerry belts “and you know that notion just cost my mind,” in lieu of “just crossed my mind.” The soundboard source cuts in the matrix version around the 4:40 mark, allowing the listener to experience the lone audience source for the remaining minute. The crowd is simply swept along in the rousing crescendo! When the dust settles, Bobby announces his usual “we’re gonna take a short break…” spiel to a keyed-up crowd. Indeed, a break is needed after such a cracking first set…


The second set in 1973 offered more jam oriented songs like the Other One, or (in this case) Dark Star, that served as vehicles for improvisation and unpredictable jams that were unique to that particular performance. Songs might segue into one another, often providing segments of inspired music that could go on for an hour or more without a single break. Such music was not always for the faint of heart or timid of mind. This second set, which one reviewer calls a “mindmelting opus,” commences with an out of the box reading of one of the Dead’s most inspired songs of 1973.

Here Comes Sunshine: This is only the second performance, and yet it stands out as one of the best versions of the year. The band plays with a deft confidence as if the song has been in rotation for years. It’s not without spots of dubious vocal harmonies, but they are more than made up for by Jerry’s pointed chops that seem to fly from his Stratocaster (“Alligator”) and pierce the sky! Later versions of this tune would become longer, more exploratory, and even better, but none more sharp and focused. It’s baffling as to why the tune was not a permanent fixture in the repertoire after 1973, but it only adds to the grand allure of this epic year.

El Paso: This song suffers from an inferiority complex, having the unfortunate slot of coming after the previous number. The momentum naturally loses ground for a spell. Nevertheless, Jerry’s showers of Spanish tinged guitar licks that squirm in between Bobby’s vocals work a dazzling effect, and ultimately save this song from an otherwise ill fate. [12]

You Ain’t Woman Enough: Donna takes the mic for a solo venture with the debut offering of a song that proved to have only a brief sojourn in the band’s setlists. While that hasn’t received many complaints, this one’s as good a version as any, and the “cat caught under the rocking chair” screeching is null in this tune. In other words, it’s a tolerable listen, and even Loretta Lynn herself might think so. One reviewer of the show commented: “I fell out of my chair when I saw Coal Miners Daughter - ‘hey...hey...that's a Donna song.’”

They Love Each Other: Always a highlight in ’73, this jaunty version is decked with the bounce and inflection that would come to typify the tune for its brief life in this incarnation. (This arrangement—including the short bridge—was dropped after ’73, sans one lone performance the following year.) Billy’s shuffle beat and Keith’s bawdyhouse banging help make this number a true delight.

Big River: Although ubiquitous, this Johnny Cash cover has seldom seen a dull performance. [13] This version is colored with Bobby’s boisterous vocal delivery and Jerry’s rocking and riveting solos that keep energy levels high. Billy drives the chariot with a rolling, resonating beat, and Keith’s jangling barrelhouse polka chops pepper the song to near perfection! What comes next in the show is a piece of music that holds a special place in the hearts (and ears) of many deadheads…

Dark Star in 1973

The Dark Stars of 1973 would take on a slightly different character than before. They are marked by an introspective, laid-back guise that is spellbinding and hypnotic in nature. They’re so fluid and languid that many listeners find them more compelling over time, as new discoveries are unlocked with each new listen. Lacking the intensity of the ones played the year before, these Dark Stars are of the roll up your sleeves, get comfortable, and settle in for a while kind of approach. They’re decidedly not the pell-mell kind of the days of yore! Rather, these controlled and cerebral pieces offer various subtle motifs that invite the patient and concentrated listener. What could be misconstrued as laziness or apprehension in their playing is usually careful attention paid to their lyrical craft in slower and measured tones—there’s no need to rush a good thing!

These versions don’t always trigger instant gratification. They can be longwinded, brooding, and banal in places. They’re a bit more esoteric and may call for an acquired taste. One listener lamented that they’re “rudderless” and “behave like a balloon untethered – bouncy, jammy, and no real guts.” Another listener succumbed to bewilderment, admitting: “Over time, I’ve become less enchanted.” Indeed, they’re challenging for some, and can require a conscious effort to become involved in the music. [14] But like watching a caterpillar become a butterfly, the listener can be rewarded with deeper appreciation and comprehension of the sophisticated, dynamic, and accomplished musical unit the Dead had become. It’s as if the band were now capable of achieving sonic heights of unlimited proportions, and they were fully cognizant of it. Now they were asking their audience to enter that realm with them—and there was no turning back!

“No other Grateful Dead date has as much personal experience and history associated with it as 2/15/73. It's soothing, ethereal, lyrical, and--to me--it's absolutely dripping with ghosts.”—anonymous reviewer

Dark Star: After a few odd seconds of instrument tuning and crowd chatter, the familiar opening notes of a nearly worshiped tune commences, and “its gravitational effect” on this night, writes one reviewer, “is rather profound.” Indeed, the first Dark star of 1973 is unleashed, and like all Dark Stars, it becomes its own unique beast with each unfolding second. The first four minutes finds the band in a consummate gel that allows each member to explore individual avenues, while never veering too far from the safety of the structure. Jerry begins tinkering for melodies like narrow paths leading to a vast forest of discovery. He delivers rousing, yet elegant notes that weave between the hesitant and authoritative, and a dreamy soundscape ensues. Phil intermittently drops jittery bass flourishes, while Billy throws in crescendoing cymbal rushes.

Around the 4:30 mark, Jerry fluctuates his volume, creating a forlorn, weeping effect that cascades and shifts into a hushed segment that steadily glides for three and a half minutes. The sound takes on a gentle and mysterious character, and out of the mist Jerry sprinkles a light flurry of delicate notes that rise and then fizzle back into an abyss. Just before the 9-minute mark, Billy picks up the pace with pouncing thumps on the toms and hasty taps on the cymbals. Phil replies with jaunty bass plucking, Keith answers by dancing along the ivories, and Jerry emerges with signaling notes that tug the band into the changes leading to the verse. They pass through a fast-paced, bouncy little jam, teasing the theme before gradually re-entering it.

Jerry sings the verse with robust, yet gentle vocal clarity before emitting a beautiful, yet harrowing “wah” sound that fades into the stratosphere… It’s as if time freezes in the moment. The sound is reduced to a trickle before Phil steps into the spotlight at the 15-minute mark to commence a bass solo that ensues for the next three and a half minutes. [15] Phil takes his time, seemingly choosing his “thunderclaps” with care. His quadrophonic bass (“the Godfather”) had a separate signal for each string, and this segment really underscores the effect. One witness remembered: “Each string hit a different part of the hall.” (Listening with headphones gives the illusion that there are two bass players on stage, playing back and forth to each other in a playful call and response mode.) Phil’s playing runs the gamut of delicate, to jaunty, to funky, to rock tinged. At the 17:55 mark, the crowd becomes animated and claps in unison as they’re swept into the “Phil zone.” Jerry gently tiptoes into the mix at 18:22, playing sweet and emotive notes that carry a near lullaby spirit. Billy steps in to provide a light backing-beat, and the next minute provides one of the most unique and blissful hallmark Grateful Dead moments. This example encapsulates the best of what 1973 had to offer! One reviewer commented: “Whatever was going on in my life was always helped along by having this.” Taken as a whole, this Dark Star may not be deemed the best of the year, but it certainly can be called the prettiest. [16]

Eyes of the World: Following this musical passage, Phil hints at “Eyes,” and Jerry mirrors his mentality by introducing the opening chords. The crowd applauds as the song emerges; Billy steps in to keep time on the kit, Bob enters to add splashes of jazzy chord structure, and Keith joins to lightly sprinkle punctuation on the eighty-eight. By now the band is fully galvanized as they sustain a tight opening furrow that lasts two minutes. Phil is completely in his element here, providing potent rhythmic and contrapuntal lines that bounce above and beneath his band mates. One can hear the joy bounce off his strings! Jerry steps up to the mic to deliver the opening lyrics that seemingly roll off his tongue with ease. No flubbed lyrics tonight! Jerry then paces a few extra measures before launching into his first solo, emitting showers of sprightly notes that emphasize the nimble playing that characterized the year. The sound is simply seductive, and fortunately the second solo is equally engrossing. Following the final vocal chorus, the band glides into a three-minute vamp with Jerry and Keith in playful conversation. Phil provides thundering plucks of punctuation, before Jerry emerges at full helm at the 14-minute mark. Thirty seconds later Jerry is swirling in colors of sound that rise and descend in rapid succession. The soundboard source abruptly cuts to the audience source at 15:10, lasting for the next 90 seconds, while each member increasingly stretches out while keeping the cohesion. Jerry wades through the structure, carving out various paths of discovery without fully committing to any of them. His notes ebb and flow in dexterity before the minor key “7/8 theme” emerges. Phil initiates what would become the signature riff, but the others seem reluctant to follow. (This was its first appearance; it had not been present in the February 9 debut.) The band carries on for another minute before Phil nudges them again, this time coaxing Jerry to follow. They lock in unison for several measures before Jerry charges ahead with a punctuated minor chord change, switching the landscape from sunny to gloomy. The change works a dramatic effect, and the band channel the mood for a spell before gracefully sliding into a somber China Doll, to great applause.

China Doll: The second performance of this song finds Jerry’s soft, reedy voice filled with emotion as he nearly whispers, “a pistol shot at nine o’clock” (“five o’clock” became the standard). The reflective lullaby unfolds in a near perfect reading that tugs at the heartstrings of the listener. It caps the ending of a continuous 45-minute segment of music splendidly. Lyricist Robert Hunter called the tune “eerie,” but “very beautiful the way Jerry handles it.” [17]

Promised Land: The pace considerably quickens with this number, but it’s a letdown coming after the wondrous triad they’d just laid down. A show of this era seems hardly complete, however, without a sprinkling of cowboy songs (El Paso & MAMU in the first set), and at least one Chuck Berry injection! This rendition is pedestrian for the era, but is still met with crowd clamor.

Sugaree: This version is sweet and competent, but this tune would only get better with age, perhaps peaking in 1977. Still, Jerry sings and plays the git-fiddle with heart here, and the result is still nothing short of wonderful. It was unusual for this song to be played so late in the second set; in fact, this is the only version in this period (or perhaps ever) to be played after the big jam, as one of the last songs of the show. [18]

Sugar Magnolia: This tune, the second most played of their career, often sounds like an exhausted afterthought in concert, but here it sounds focused and downright jubilant! Thankfully, the often overblown cathartic vocal release from Bobby and Donna is kept to a relative minimum during the “sunshine daydream” epilogue. Cherry pickers can choose this one with confidence!


Uncle John’s Band: The first encore is a “buck dancer’s choice” that carries a nice lilt and swing. This version is decorated by Keith’s catchy rhythmic fills, and finds the band in a harmonious vocal spirit that delivers with every line. The tune trots along agreeably, allowing the players (and the crowd) breathing room before they dole out another rocker.

One More Saturday Night: The second song of the encore contains a cut near the end, leaving a minute of the sole audience source that showcases the crowd stampeding to the crackling energy. The band brings it to a ballistic ending before Bobby bellows “Thank-you and Goodnight!” The audience source ensues for another 90 seconds of documented crowd noise, before the house music fades in with Bob Dylan’s “Rainy Day Women.” It plays for a few seconds, and then silence falls on the ears…..

If you’ve never listened to the Madison show, it’s time for that to be remedied! If you have, perhaps it’s time to re-listen. The show can be found here:  [19]

“There's something to be said for being able to record an experience you've liked, or being able to obtain a recording of it.”—Jerry Garcia

Madison Allegory

2/15/73 has garnered allusions to contrasting temperatures, which seems to enhance the rapture surrounding the show. One reviewer called it “a heat wave in the frozen tundra,” while one attendee complained of “cold feet” from standing “about 40 feet from the stage on the tarp covering the ice rink,” but otherwise enjoyed the show. Another recounts how the music was on fire, and that “the hall melted.” Other attendees remembered the chilly elements, how it was a “dreary day,” but “hearing the echo of Jerry’s guitar” around the hockey arena, how the energy was “positive” since the band was “communicating well.” Another described the show as “stoney and lovely – like curling up in front of a warm hearth,” while another exclaimed, “it was my very first Dead show” and “it certainly got me hooked.” The biting cold of the Wisconsin winter made one attendee of the show “sick as a dog,” and another recounted meeting his future wife at the show, but also ruefully remembered “catching strep.” Perhaps it would have been too fitting if the Dead had opened the show with Cold Rain and Snow… [20]

Madison Historiography

Over the years, many listeners have waxed ecstatic about the Madison show, especially concerning the Dark Star->Eyes of the World->China Doll segment. This “trifecta masterpiece” has made appearances on various lists like “The best jam segments” and “Best versions” lists through the years. Well known examples include former GD archivist Dick Latvala, who called the Dark Star->Eyes “superb” and rated the show as a top ten of the year. Nick Paumgarten, writer of the “DeadHead” article featured in The New Yorker, included the Madison date on his “Nick’s Picks” list. He specifically mentions the Dark Star->Eyes as putting this show on his “life raft.” “It summons up an exploratory time,” he goes on to say, and likens the transitional piece between the two songs to “a psalm.” The Grateful Dead Clubhouse Projects website didn’t include it in their “top 31 jam segments,” but listed it in their “honorable mention” shortlist. Moreover, they did include it among the “25 Greatest Shows in Grateful Dead History” list. Relix Magazine in 1993 included 2/15/73 for its top ten list of all-time Dark Stars. The website offers much praise by listeners: “truly remarkable to say the very least;” “left a life long impression on me. That's for sure;” “my sanctuary in good times and bad;” and “emblematic of what I love about the Grateful Dead.”

Many books also highlight the Madison show. Several DeadBase editions’ “Favorite Tapes” section ranked 2/15/73 near the top out of 250 shows listed (it was ranked 17th in the IX edition, but dropped to 24th place in DeadBase X). Author Eric Wybenga in Dead To The Core selected 2/15/73 for a written review, citing the Dark Star->Eyes combo as the “highlight” and calling the transitional jam between Phil and Jerry “among the Dead’s most beautiful passages.” Blair Jackson in Goin’ Down The Road sites the Madison show under “The Best of the Dead” section, adding that 1973 “gets off to an auspicious start.” The American Book of the Dead lists the Eyes from 2/15/73 as a highlight, while Skeleton Key lists the Eyes twice: one under the “The Kills” heading, which includes tapes of “the most unrelenting performances,” and under the “Starter Tape” heading, essentially calling it a quintessential show for a newbie, adding that the Dark Star->Eyes->China Doll “is hard not to like.”

But the Madison show hasn’t always fared so well. Online forums like the Lost Sailor’s Pub didn’t always sing its praises. Some listeners offered mixed reviews, and a “Best shows from‘73,’74, and ‘75” list didn’t include 2/15/73. One prolific commentator on The Archive called Nick’s Picks selection of 2/15/73 “especially odd,” and neither Dark Star nor Eyes made the top ten list for best versions on the Headyversion website. (Dark Star doesn’t even crack the top fifteen.) The Grateful Dead Listening Guide website does not include the Madison show in selected reviews, or in any of the “Listening Trails” sub-headings like“Best Dead Shows” or “Unsung Heroes.” Long time tape trader and show reviewer Matt Vernon wrote that he “didn't find this show very exciting for 73” (although he did mention the PITB and HCS in favor, and said the DS contained a “nice rolling jam”).

The show has been miserably underrepresented on the airwaves. Flagship broadcasts like the Grateful Dead Hour, the Tapers Section, the Jam Of The Week, Thirty Days of the Dead, the “Unofficial 31 Days of the Dead” and Shakedown Stream have not featured music from the Madison show. [21] XM Dead channel has played the show (at least in part), and a local radio show dubbed “The Music Never Stops” out of Los Angeles did air most of the show in 2006. It’s possible other local stations have done the same through the years, but documentation of such broadcasts is shoddy. It is probable 2/15/73 has seldom been represented via radio because the reels are not in the vault. However, a segment of the 2/19/73 show missing from the vault (according to present GD archivist David Lemieux) was aired on the Tapers Section broadcast, so obviously exceptions can be made.

“But sometimes you want to reach for old faithful [2/15/73].”—Anonymous reviewer


In the final analysis, it seems many traders had the Madison show on cassette (ye olde Maxell UD or XL-II) eons ago, and its importance has faded to a degree due in no small part to an abundance of high-quality sbds of shows (many in the vault) surfacing since the 90s. No doubt, 2/15/73 saw heavy circulation pre-internet, and many folks had cut their Grateful Dead teeth on it. It was in circulation since at least the early 80s, as some traders specifically cited 1981 and 1982. And while it is still a regarded show in 2014, its reverence is seemingly rooted in nostalgia as much as in the actual music. One writer confessed “I haven’t listened to it in many moons.” Countless others have mirrored that sentiment: “I used to have this show on cassette and it was always my favorite;” “Having lost my cassette collection many years ago, I have always yearned to hear this one again;” and finally, “Dusted off some old tapes...this was the first show I put on…I couldn’t [have] picked a better show. One of the best in my collection.” And countless others…

It’s likely that some more recent listeners haven’t “discovered” 2/15/73. After all, it currently offers few reviews on the archive, it is not in the vault or commercially available, its sonics are inferior to other shows of the year, and those who favor downloading based on traffic might pass it over. That could be misguided judgment or glaring oversight by some: “I had no idea that anything this good even existed,” wrote one. Another trader confessed: “I've had the tapes of the show for years. Just noticed them last night, I don't know if I ever paid attention to them before.”

Curiously, publications that put 2/15/73 on “lists” tend to be from the 90s, and many reviewers who praise the show discovered it in the 80s. It is evident that a comparatively smaller amount of recognition exists post 2000, and particularly in the last five years. However, two recent reviews stated: “It’s one that used to be readily available, and is well worth seeking out,” and “[I] urge all who have managed to escape hearing this one to throw on some high-quality headphones and dedicate a relaxed hour to hear the mind-bending jam sequence featured in this 2nd set.” In any case, it’s a great show that serves as an aural holograph of a cherished era in the Dead’s 30-year history. It is one of those nights that one listener called “ an embarrassment of riches!”



BOOKS (listed in order of reference use): The DeadHead’s Taping Compendium, 1959-1974; DeadBase IX; Dead To The Core; Relix, The Book; Skeleton Key; Goin’ Down The Road; The American Book of The Dead; What A Long, Strange Trip; Aces Back To Back; Garcia: An American Life

WEB PUBLICATIONS: (listed in order of reference use): The Archive; Dead.Net;; Grateful Dead Lyric and Song Finder (Whitegum); David Dodd’s Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics; headyversion; gratefuldeadprojects; Steve Hoffman Music Forums; Deadlists; The Setlist Program; DeadBase Online Search; The Well; The Grateful Dead Guide; The Grateful Dead Listening Guide; Lossless Legs; Etree; “Nick’s Picks” and “DeadHead” from The New Yorker; Lost Sailor’s Pub; Grateful Dead Music Forum; musicneverstopped.blogspot; bornagaindeadhead.blogspot



[1]  The Dead seem to have been drawn to the snow and freezing winters: they frequently toured the Midwest in the winter months (Feb '69, March '71, Feb '73, Feb '78, Jan/Feb '79, Feb/March '81…). The Dane County Coliseum would see some more fine shows, including 10/25/73 (the famous feedback-freakout Dark Star) and 2/3/78.

[2]  For a complete list of the Betty Boards, click here: 

[3]  There is some confusion & discrepant information about just when the old source disappeared: some people later said it was taken down in 2008, others that it vanished in 2006. In fact, it was still regularly being linked in Archive forum posts as available through 2009. For a long time in the preceding years, it was the “featured show” on the Archive homepage, probably accounting for its being the most-downloaded show. (Note that streams count as “downloads.”) As of mid-2008 it had almost 600,000 downloads, and one commenter in December 2008 said it had been downloaded 6000 times that month. The page that disappeared was the exact same Hall source that’s currently up: 
Its last known availability was in February 2010. The replacement page was uploaded in June 2010, and people were surprised to find that the show had even been down, and perplexed that all the years of reviews for it were gone. One reviewer on The Archive lamented: “Did the Archive really deep-six all the comments associated with the other file? That's pretty effed up.”
If anyone has access to the former written reviews, or has a comment they’d care to share, please don’t be a stranger.

[4]  The Dead played three nights at New York’s Nassau Coliseum on the 15th, 16th & 19th. It resulted in the most drug busts on record up to that time, as law enforcement began to target Deadheads at shows.  The band vowed never to play there again, but of course they did—39 more times!

[5]  To illustrate this point, compare the “6/8 riff” played on 12/31/72 vs. 6/24/73. The 12/31/72 riff commences at the beginning of the Other One reprise (track 22), found here: . A more defined version is contained within the Dark Star (commencing at the 6:38 mark) from the 6/24/73 Show. Listen to it here: 
For a study in the development of the “Mind Left Body Jam,” the Dark Star of 4/8/72 vs. the Dark Star of 10/19/73 offers a clear difference.  The 4/8/72 has been pulled from The Archive due to commercial release. However, it can be heard commencing around the 28:00 mark on both the Steppin’ Out with the Grateful Dead – England ‘72 and the Europe '72: The Complete Recordings sources.  A more defined version can be found coming out of Dark Star on the 10/19/73 show, but it’s also pulled from The Archive, as it’s been commercially released as Dick’s Picks Volume 19. The track is labeled as the “Mind Left Body Jam” on the release, but it doesn’t go into the familiar four-chord structure until the 1:19 mark is reached.

[6]  The tune saw a revival 18 years later, with 33 versions played between 1992-1995.  Author Stephen Peters said that they “were as good if not better than the original,” although this notion seems likely to be in the minority.

[8]  Cameron Crowe, “The Grateful Dead Flee Big Business,” Circus, October 1973. 

[9]  The soundcheck is not included in the matrix, but is on the soundboard source. Though it’s rare for us to have a soundcheck on tape, this one is not notable. The mix gets adjusted while the Dead play Jack Straw; then they run through two incomplete renditions of Box of Rain, both broken off. There is barely any band banter.

[10]  Willie and the Hand Jive had been in the NRPS repertoire since 1971; in fact they would play a fine version in the 3/18/73 Felt Forum show where Garcia, Weir & Godchaux guested: 

[11]  The original line in Me & My Uncle went: “I took a bottle, cracked him on the jaw.” See this page for a listing of the times Weir sang this variant: 
Weir actually made a number of lyrical improvements in this song – see the comparisons: 

[12]  Incidentally on this night, Country singer Marty Robbins (writer of El Paso) did not suffer an ill fate either, as he slammed his racecar into a wall, narrowly escaping major injury. Richard Petty won his fourth Daytona 500.

[13]  The Dead took their arrangement for Big River from Merle Haggard’s “Workin’ Man Blues,” recasting it in Bakersfield style:

[14]  The Dark Star played on 12/6/73 is the paragon of this topic.  Mellow, wandering, morose and spanning upwards of 45 minutes, it garners much scorn and praise, and is probably the most divisive Star there is.  Read dissenting comments here: 
and here:

[15]  Another notable Dark Star from this year that ends with a bass solo is 9/11/73, which takes a different approach: Phil’s solo is raw and chunky, and it sounds like he's about to go into a Philo Stomp, but never goes there. Instead, he heads for feedback! Even better, he's not unaccompanied -  throughout you can hear Jerry making ghostly noises behind him. 

[16]  The next Dark Star, on 2/22/73, is also quite interesting - it's only about 13 minutes long, the shortest Star since '71; nonetheless it doesn't feel rushed. Jerry's sharp and on-point in the opening jam, and there's a great haunting Phil/Jerry duet after the verse. It's a good Star for those who don't like the long meandering '73 Stars - they don't get sidetracked into a Phil solo, there's no long wandering through space, and the Tiger jam is saved until literally the last minute. Also, it's really beautiful. 

[17]  Astonishingly, Dark Star>Eyes>China Doll was only played four times, all in 1973. A brief exploration is here: 

[18]  While the Dead’s second-set “architecture” was already standard, occasionally in this tour a “first-set” type song would appear towards the end, between the big suite and the final rocker: see 2/26/73 & 3/15/73 for other examples.

[19]  Other copies on the Archive include: - the standard SBD copy (with soundcheck; no AUD patches) - audience tape - an alternative SBD (in mono; no soundcheck; encore from AUD tape)
Ironically, this last source is not visible in Archive listings – though the page still exists, it’s vanished from the Archive search results. This occasionally happens to random shows (for instance, one of the 11/17/72 copies has also dropped out of sight recently).

[20]  According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the mean temperature in Madison that night was 16°F. The temperature low dropped to -13°F within 36 hours after the Dead had left for their next show in St. Paul.

[21]  This is according to their database search.  As aforementioned, 2/15/73 has enjoyed some radio play, but very little documentation of it could be extracted after much digging.  I welcome anyone to chime in with more examples.