by Robert Wilkinson
Today would have been the 72nd birthday of one of the legends of music, as well as the 63rd birthday of a remarkable Austin producer and musician.
We’ll begin with one of the most beloved lead players in history. Jerome “Jerry” Garcia (August 1, 1942 – August 9, 1995) was the lead guitarist and primary songwriter for the band The Grateful Dead. Masters of psychedelic space boogie music, I and millions of others danced countless hours to their groove which went on and on and on, courtesy of two drummers and enough coke to make sure they could actually play several hours at a time with one or no breaks.
Jerry was a master at folk rock, bluegrass, country rock, jazz, rhythm and blues, and psychedelic rock. When he went sonic, it felt like you were in deepest space tuning into cosmic frequencies. The music of the dead was always an exercise in improv, since regardless of the original melodic structure, the entire band would blast off into unknown realms of sonic frequencies intertwined with a steady beat so that even when they weren’t playing anything that was danceable, we still danced.
Of course, hard-core Deadheads were always jacked to the max, tape recorders on the ready, in full tie-dye regalia. That’s why we have hundreds of thousands of hours of Grateful Dead concerts available to this day. Their marketing department felt it was good to give the music away and make money off the merchandise. It is said this business model is taught in many business schools to this day. And to note, they kept tie-dyed clothes “fashionable,” if that’s what you could call it. Tie Dye Andy most definitely appreciates it!!
I was somewhat of a Deadhead back beginning in the early 70s, not as rabid as some but definitely and totally in the groove, and even got to hang backstage and with the band in their trailer in the early 80s. I saw them many times, and there were shows where they played for 4 hours and then another hour after the hall cut the electricity and turned on the lights! Even got thrown out of one show in 1973 by the cops because I wouldn't stop dancing, and afterwards I found out thousands more began to dance when they saw me thrown out and it shut the show down! Everyone adjourned to the Armadillo World Headquarters and had an all night party!
Rather than try to describe the joy of the music of the Grateful Dead, I’ll just post some great live concerts I found on the web. They really did make some very happy music that sets feet to dancing!! I found enough concerts between 1966 and 1994 that you should have a grateful time enjoying how the set list evolved over the years.
Here’s a live recording set to stills made at the Avalon in San Francisco in May 1966! 1 hour 7 minutes of the early Grateful Dead! The Grateful Dead at the Avalon 1966 (audio only)
Here’s a live recording set to stills made at the Fillmore in San Francisco in July 1966! 1 hour 41 minutes of the early Grateful Dead! The Grateful Dead at the Fillmore 1966 (audio only)
From March 1968, here’s another early live audio-only performance from the Carousel Ballroom in SF. It’s an hour and 23 of pure gold!
Here's another early live audio-only performance from the Fillmore West in February 1969, when PigPen was still singing! Here’s an entire 2 hour show of The Grateful Dead at the Fillmore East, 1969.
Here’s a live recording from the KQED studios in San Francisco in August 1970, also with PigPen singing! Here’s 29 very psychedelic minutes of the early Grateful Dead!
From France in June 1971, 59 minutes of an early set list of the Grateful Dead!
From Denmark in April 1972, a great 78 minute video of the Grateful Dead!
From Winterland in San Francisco 1974, 1 hour 38 minutes of the Grateful Dead!
From Jersey City, New Jersey in 1974, a full 3 hour 48 minute concert!
From the Orpheum Theater in San Francisco 1976, 1 hour of the Grateful Dead!
Last year I had the entire 2 hour 34 minute live Winterland show on New Years’ Eve 1977, but this year it’s nowhere to be found. I did find this excellent audio-only 2 hours 41 minute show by the Grateful Dead in Feb 1977 at San Bernardino!
From Oakland in 1979, 3 hours and 19 minutes of the Grateful Dead!
Here’s one I was at! From Manor Downs in Austin in September 1983, 2 hours and 32 minutes of the Grateful Dead!
Last year I found a full 57 minutes of the Dead at Rich Stadium in 1986. This year I found pieces from that show. From Orchard Park, New York in July 1986,
Back at Rich Stadium on July 4, 1989, here’s 2 hours and 39 minutes of the Dead rockin’ down the house!
From 2 weeks later at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, CA in August 1989, 3 hours and 18 minutes of the Grateful Dead!
From UNLV in April 1991, 2 hours and 56 minutes of the Grateful Dead!
From Madison Square Garden in October 1994, 2 hours and 38 minutes of the Grateful Dead!
Sorry we lost you too soon, Jerry, but that’s the wage of age coupled with too many powders over too many years. RIP my Shaman Brother. At least in rock and roll heaven they have a first class banjo player!
We now celebrate the birthday of my old friend from Austin, the extraordinarily talented Mark Hallman (August 1, 1951) of the Congress House Studio in Austin, Texas. Mark’s a master multi-instrumentalist and producer who has worked with Carole King, Eliza Gilkyson, Iain Matthews, Shawn Colvin, Will Sexton, Marcia Ball, Eric Johnson, Robert Earl Keen, Jimmy Vaughan, and too many more greats to list here.
You can catch Mark as the shaggy “second” guitarist backing Carole King in her one hour 1982 television special, “Carole King – One to One,” This year the whole show in one clip is nowhere to be found, but for your enjoyment, I found each song from that memorable show, here listed in order of the set list!
On with the show. From the beginning, and a-one and a-two and.....
As I explained in a post last year, Mark Hallman, Richard Hardy, and the great Robert McEntee were in a band called Navarro about 30 years ago, and became the core of Carole King’s backing band in those years.
For an encore, I also found a great live clip from Texas Soundstage in 1985 with Mark and Cry Wolf cranking out "If I Could Change"
And though I don’t have time to do a tribute to this legend this year, it’s also the birthday of pioneering folk singer, friend of Woody Guthrie, and mentor to Bob Dylan, the legendary Ramblin’ Jack Elliot (August 1, 1931)
So here’s a big happy to three of my favorite Leo musicians! The world’s a better place for the music the three of you have given the world throughout your lives. “And we all shine on ....”
Copyright © 2014 Robert Wilkinson