• May 11, 2012
    http://www.dead.net/features/blair-jackson/blair-s-golden-road-blog-all-hail-tapers
    Blair’s Golden Road Blog - All Hail the Tapers!

    Spurred by a comment I read somewhere online, I decided to download the Dead’s January 10, 1979, concert at Nassau Coliseum. I have an old tape of it somewhere, but I never got it digitally, so it could have been 15 or 20 years since I’d heard it. I remembered that the second set contained both “Dark Star” and “St. Stephen” (the last time those appeared in the same show), but not much else. What a show! The “Dark Star” is my favorite of all the post-hiatus versions, and everything else the band played that night is full of energy and excitement.

    Why has this fantastic show not been released? Because it’s not in the Grateful Dead tape vault. The versions we all love so much and which have blown thousands of minds through the years are audience recordings. To be honest, I don’t whether I downloaded the Bob Wagner or the Keith Gatto version from Archive.org the other day; I wasn’t paying attention. But it sounded wonderful and really had that you-are-there quality that the best audience tapes have.

    And it got me thinking: Thank God Bob and Keith were on hand to capture that incredible Grateful Dead performance (and no doubt there were other surreptitious tapers on hand whose handiwork is not up on Archive), because otherwise it would be lost to the ages, recalled fondly and with increasing dimness only by those who were lucky enough to be there that night. Look at all the shows listed in Deadbase that we literally know nothing about, because there is no extant recording. We don’t know a single song that was played. It’s possible, likely even, that dozens of the greatest shows the band played in the late ’60s will never be heard.

    We’ve all been spoiled by the incredible bounty of soundboard tapes that have filtered out of the vault through various means over the years—one or two at a time, in giant batches like the Betty Boards, and in a flood after the death of Dick Latvala in 1999. Go onto Archive and you can hear nearly every show in the GD Vault in good quality. But there are holes in the vault collection that have been filled by audience tapes that have circulated and even been upgraded technically through the years—I’m thinking of the fall ’70 Capitol Theatre (Port Chester) shows, for example, and various others that for whatever reason are not in the vault (Greek ’81!).

    I remember a time when most of my tape collection consisted of audience-made recordings, and I treasured them as much as the best-sounding SBDs I owned. When I consider some of the best shows I attended—Winterland 3/18/77, Frost 10/10/82, Santa Fe 9/10/83, to name just three—it was the audience tapes that let me relive them most fully. When the soundboards for those shows came to me years later, I dug the improved fidelity and presence (Phil, in particular, always sounded better on SBDs), but I missed the crowd and the feeling of the space the show was played in, which the audience tapes and a little imagination provided.

    GD live mixer and taper’s friend Dan Healy
    (right) in front of the first taper’s section at BCT, 1984.
    Photo: David Gans © 2012

    During the years I put out The Golden Road magazine (’84-’93), I tried my damndest to hear every show the Dead played, and I relied completely on the work of tapers—most of whom I didn’t know—and a network of kind traders who kept me supplied. Sometimes the tapes sounded pretty bad—hey, beggars can’t be choosers! But more often than not they allowed me to instantly put myself in Saratoga or Chicago or Atlanta to hear what went down. Just this second, I flashed on the audience tape of 10/31/85 from Columbia, South Carolina—not great quality, but I still listened to it over and over that fall: “Werewolves,” “Shakedown,” “Playing” … good stuff. I’ve never heard the SBD version, and I see there’s a SBD-matrixed-with-AUD version on Archive. I’ll have to check that out. So many shows, so little time.

    I own recordings that were marred by folks in the audience talking too loud, whistling obnoxiously or singing along off-key, or the taper being in a bad spot in the venue. But I developed a very high tolerance for those sorts of distractions and learned how to listen through them to the partially obscured music. There are things that people shout on certain tapes that have become part of the show in my mind. “Hey, Jerry, don’t play ‘U.S. Blues’!” rings out before the encore on one. On another, there’s an intrusive discussion near the taper’s mikes about going to a bar mitzvah—in the middle of the heaviest part of “China Doll”! There are times when I’ve wanted to jump into the tape to strangle someone. But mostly I shrug and think, “Oh, yeah, that guy.”

    Beginning with the Berkeley Community Theatre shows in the fall of 1984, the tapers finally became legit, with their own section, usually behind the soundboard, at every concert, and both the number and quality of the audience tapes improved dramatically. The elaborate hijinks that had been part of the art of smuggling in recorders and microphones virtually disappeared overnight (though blatant recording with tape decks and elevated mikes had been tolerated, if not officially endorsed, for years before it was formalized). The new challenge: recording unobtrusively in the sweet spot between the stage and the front-of-house mixer.

    Veterans of the pre-tapers’ section era of audience recording all have a million war stories about the extreme measures they often had to take to secretly bring their equipment into venues, risking confiscation, ejection or both. Wires were snipped mid-show occasionally, cassettes crushed under roadies’ boots, pleas and begging ignored. It was tough and stressful, but the payoff was worth it, and they did it for all of us!

    What is rarely mentioned, too, is the fact that Dead tapers single-handedly invented the audience recording phenomenon and embraced the challenge of also recording hundreds of other acts, from the Allmans to Dylan to Clapton to Springsteen, and inspiring fans of other bands to do the same. There is scarcely a major concert that happens anywhere that is not taped illegally by someone. Of course, smartphones have put no-fuss audio/video recording capability into the hands of just about everyone (and I do appreciate being able to see a song or two—or maybe an entire show—on YouTube; odious and obnoxious as the sight of hands thrust into the air holding cell phones can be for those actually attending the concert). But it’s still hard to beat a beautifully made clandestine recording by a soulful audio pirate with good equipment.

    Any tales of taping you’d like to share with the group? Or care to weigh in about your own feelings about audience tapes and what they’ve meant to you or the scene?

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Spurred by a comment I read somewhere online, I decided to download the Dead’s January 10, 1979, concert at Nassau Coliseum. I have an old tape of it somewhere, but I never got it digitally, so it could have been 15 or 20 years since I’d heard it. I remembered that the second set contained both “Dark Star” and “St. Stephen” (the last time those appeared in the same show), but not much else. What a show! The “Dark Star” is my favorite of all the post-hiatus versions, and everything else the band played that night is full of energy and excitement.

Why has this fantastic show not been released? Because it’s not in the Grateful Dead tape vault. The versions we all love so much and which have blown thousands of minds through the years are audience recordings. To be honest, I don’t whether I downloaded the Bob Wagner or the Keith Gatto version from Archive.org the other day; I wasn’t paying attention. But it sounded wonderful and really had that you-are-there quality that the best audience tapes have.

And it got me thinking: Thank God Bob and Keith were on hand to capture that incredible Grateful Dead performance (and no doubt there were other surreptitious tapers on hand whose handiwork is not up on Archive), because otherwise it would be lost to the ages, recalled fondly and with increasing dimness only by those who were lucky enough to be there that night. Look at all the shows listed in Deadbase that we literally know nothing about, because there is no extant recording. We don’t know a single song that was played. It’s possible, likely even, that dozens of the greatest shows the band played in the late ’60s will never be heard.

We’ve all been spoiled by the incredible bounty of soundboard tapes that have filtered out of the vault through various means over the years—one or two at a time, in giant batches like the Betty Boards, and in a flood after the death of Dick Latvala in 1999. Go onto Archive and you can hear nearly every show in the GD Vault in good quality. But there are holes in the vault collection that have been filled by audience tapes that have circulated and even been upgraded technically through the years—I’m thinking of the fall ’70 Capitol Theatre (Port Chester) shows, for example, and various others that for whatever reason are not in the vault (Greek ’81!).

I remember a time when most of my tape collection consisted of audience-made recordings, and I treasured them as much as the best-sounding SBDs I owned. When I consider some of the best shows I attended—Winterland 3/18/77, Frost 10/10/82, Santa Fe 9/10/83, to name just three—it was the audience tapes that let me relive them most fully. When the soundboards for those shows came to me years later, I dug the improved fidelity and presence (Phil, in particular, always sounded better on SBDs), but I missed the crowd and the feeling of the space the show was played in, which the audience tapes and a little imagination provided.

GD live mixer and taper’s friend Dan Healy
(right) in front of the first taper’s section at BCT, 1984.
Photo: David Gans © 2012

During the years I put out The Golden Road magazine (’84-’93), I tried my damndest to hear every show the Dead played, and I relied completely on the work of tapers—most of whom I didn’t know—and a network of kind traders who kept me supplied. Sometimes the tapes sounded pretty bad—hey, beggars can’t be choosers! But more often than not they allowed me to instantly put myself in Saratoga or Chicago or Atlanta to hear what went down. Just this second, I flashed on the audience tape of 10/31/85 from Columbia, South Carolina—not great quality, but I still listened to it over and over that fall: “Werewolves,” “Shakedown,” “Playing” … good stuff. I’ve never heard the SBD version, and I see there’s a SBD-matrixed-with-AUD version on Archive. I’ll have to check that out. So many shows, so little time.

I own recordings that were marred by folks in the audience talking too loud, whistling obnoxiously or singing along off-key, or the taper being in a bad spot in the venue. But I developed a very high tolerance for those sorts of distractions and learned how to listen through them to the partially obscured music. There are things that people shout on certain tapes that have become part of the show in my mind. “Hey, Jerry, don’t play ‘U.S. Blues’!” rings out before the encore on one. On another, there’s an intrusive discussion near the taper’s mikes about going to a bar mitzvah—in the middle of the heaviest part of “China Doll”! There are times when I’ve wanted to jump into the tape to strangle someone. But mostly I shrug and think, “Oh, yeah, that guy.”

Beginning with the Berkeley Community Theatre shows in the fall of 1984, the tapers finally became legit, with their own section, usually behind the soundboard, at every concert, and both the number and quality of the audience tapes improved dramatically. The elaborate hijinks that had been part of the art of smuggling in recorders and microphones virtually disappeared overnight (though blatant recording with tape decks and elevated mikes had been tolerated, if not officially endorsed, for years before it was formalized). The new challenge: recording unobtrusively in the sweet spot between the stage and the front-of-house mixer.

Veterans of the pre-tapers’ section era of audience recording all have a million war stories about the extreme measures they often had to take to secretly bring their equipment into venues, risking confiscation, ejection or both. Wires were snipped mid-show occasionally, cassettes crushed under roadies’ boots, pleas and begging ignored. It was tough and stressful, but the payoff was worth it, and they did it for all of us!

What is rarely mentioned, too, is the fact that Dead tapers single-handedly invented the audience recording phenomenon and embraced the challenge of also recording hundreds of other acts, from the Allmans to Dylan to Clapton to Springsteen, and inspiring fans of other bands to do the same. There is scarcely a major concert that happens anywhere that is not taped illegally by someone. Of course, smartphones have put no-fuss audio/video recording capability into the hands of just about everyone (and I do appreciate being able to see a song or two—or maybe an entire show—on YouTube; odious and obnoxious as the sight of hands thrust into the air holding cell phones can be for those actually attending the concert). But it’s still hard to beat a beautifully made clandestine recording by a soulful audio pirate with good equipment.

Any tales of taping you’d like to share with the group? Or care to weigh in about your own feelings about audience tapes and what they’ve meant to you or the scene?

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Spurred by a comment I read somewhere online, I decided to download the Dead’s January 10, 1979, concert at Nassau Coliseum. I have an old tape of it somewhere, but I never got it digitally, so it could have been 15 or 20 years since I’d heard it. I remembered that the second set contained both “Dark Star” and “St. Stephen” (the last time those appeared in the same show), but not much else. What a show! The “Dark Star” is my favorite of all the post-hiatus versions, and everything else the band played that night is full of energy and excitement.

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I'd like to honor Jerry Moore for his wonderful recordings during the 70's: 10/1/76 in Indianapolis stands out, since I was in the crowd making cat calls. My own attempts at recording were certainly not up to his incredible successes: In New Orleans, the usher confiscated my Sony during the Saenger 1980 show. In KC the following summer, another security person was all over me and others disabling our ability to record.I did find record decent tapes once the taper's section was permitted behind the soundboard. It was a real pleasure getting to know Dan Healy and meeting many of the tapers during the 80's and 90's. I'll get up on LMA and check out that '79 recording now!
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Great post, Blair. I recorded a few shows (Garcia-Saunders 6/8/75 for one), but didn't have very good equipment - and more importantly, I quickly came to realize that I wasn't capable of enjoying the show in real time while doing it. I have a great respect for those guys who were able to pull tape and enjoy the show at the same time! At Cal Expo in June 1990, I interviewed three of the legends: Barry Glassberg, Rob Bertrando, and Jerry Moore. We did it during the break, using Barry's microphones, and he almost missed the start of the second set 'cause he had to get his rig set up again in a big hurry!
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A friend of a friend, ca 81-83, had a fake leg cast to store his equipment and crutches to elevate his mics! Banter: 1982 Santa Fe Downs: "No, not Althea," right into the mic, followed by "Shut the F*#@ up!" I used to hate that but years after I lost touch with both guys, it is my favorite part. I had to go find this: Red Rocks 7-28-82: http://archive.org/details/gd1982-07-28.fob.senn421.wise.miller.102571…
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I've been waiting for years and years, but still haven't found a nice audience recording of 2/6/79 Tulsa. A nice written setlist resides in Deadbase, but the tape has still not surfaced. Now's the time to hand it over to us so we can finally listen to it! Also, I'm holding out for recordings of August 28-29, 1970 shows from Thee Club in Los Angeles California. These nights, the GD were billed as "The Acoustical Grateful Dead" (and the NRPS were there as well). Deadbase does not have song listings, but I am sure they played electric sets as well as acoustic. Some recordings of these shows will be a major discovery!
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Always loved getting the occasional audience tape (is "bootleg" politically incorrect now?) that came my way. Yeah Hershey!!! Yeah Merriweather!!! Really enjoyed pointing out the tapers section to 1st timers. Love getting the "tonight's show" Furthur CDs now. Fear of running out of cash led me to skip the 1st night Wanee recording, but did grab the 2nd night. Earlier tonight went searching for Wanee performances and found this post, that I thought was cool even before reading Blair's blog Subject: THANK YOU This is Vaylor Trucks and I play guitar and Moog synth for The Yeti Trio. We had brought a Zoom to record our set and didn't have time to set it up before the set started, and we'd thought that there would be no recording at all - so to find this here is a real treat. Thank you so much - the recording sounds amazing! The song names are: 1. Heart of the Sunrise (tease) > New Socks 2. Bonk 'em on the Noggin with a Wrench, Jim 3. Son of a Duck Fumbler (in 5) 4. Red (tease) > FIDO > Red (tease again) Now there's a taper who should be proud
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The Hollywood Palladium show of 8/6/71 is pretty famous for the Too Hard To Handle. The rest of the show wasn't too shabby either. I never would have gotten to hear it as early as I did (1979) without the help of some bootleggers. Bootleggers were a different breed than tapers. They were out to profit from the recordings they made. This opposed to tapers who would trade. A key difference between the two was the professionalism of the recording. Nobody is going through the expense of pressing 10,000 units unless they have a salable product. Some times I wonder if this bootleg was an attempt by the band to circumvent their contract. How else could the bootleggers have gotten distribution through a major regional chain department store (which was where I bought it)? Regardless of who was behind it, it was my favorite recording for about 8 years and I treated it with TLC. The tapers were always a different breed. Some might say obnoxious. As with all generalizations, you couldn't make a blanket statement about them. They came in all sizes, shapes and flavors,. They were highly dedicated. They were all on a mission. I'm so glad they made it and now have their own showcase on the archive. I'm sure more than few of them had heart attacks when their vast collections became deflated in value. I remember one particular taper from my home town who had his collection insured and in fire protected file cabinets. In the end everybody had access to everything, the way it should be. I would like to express my gratitude and thanks to all those tapers over the years who were so fanatical in their devotion and those who remain so to this very day, like Charlie Miller, continuing to refine the best of both worlds (auds and sbds) and clean up dubious sources, In 2095 there will be people dancing to the GOGD with nobody alive who ever attended a show and the source will be audience recorded a good percentage of the time.
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No road stories today, but the world of tapers and their relationship to bootleggers is not always a happy one. I had about 800 live tapes stolen from an apartment. It was obviously a targeted theft, they did not take cameras, stereo, cash (!), just tapes. (this is almost 30 years ago now). Some time later a bootleg record of a famous dead show came out, and, it was our recording, we could tell because of the tape flip location. I also recall word going out from GD Headquarters, sometime around 1980, for tapers to supply them with tapes for shows they did not have in the vault, in exchange for a pristine SB of our choice (at the time still a somewhat hard commodity to get). The taping section was a mixed blessing. Great for all the obvious reasons, but suddenly EVERYONE was taping, and not everyone was respecting the space and needs of their fellow tapers. But... they were great and fun times, I spent a summer travelling across Europe with my NAK 550, 3 421s, a wack of batteries, a sleeping bag, and not much else, recording all sorts of great stuff, from Bach organ concerts in Churches in Amsterdam (of course we spent a lot of time in Amsterdam : ) ) to Don Cherry in a field outside of Brussels, to everything in between. Damm the bootleggers to hell!
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to hear what Mr. Norman could do with a show such as 8/06/71. An official taper's release would be cool. "Hard To Handle" is on The Phil Zone so the show would probably remain on the LMA. I dabbled in taping a show once; it was in '78, at Arrowhead Stadium. It was 96 in the shade and I use d a 120 cassette! I still become extra-crispy at the thought of that experience!
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5 Normanized tracks (Bertha, Mr Charlie, Cumberland, Brokedown, HTH) from the Vault Version of the show appear on the Road Trips 1.3 Bonus Disc. Very good they are too, but many might say that the existing aud still sounds better.
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I have wanted to thank this person for the shows he taped in 84 and some other years I have found that were shows I attended. Doug has documented my personal trip on so many shows and his recordings have a way of bringing me back to my seat like no other recordings. Joe D'amico & Tony Suraci were also tapers I have looked for and downloaded. God bless the person who said yes to allowing the tapers section.
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...the plethora of great Garcia Band audience tapes. The Garcia vault contains almost nothing recorded between 1979 and 1987 and there are very few SBDs in circulation from that period, but there are AUDs of many/most shows, thank God! Also, the great 4/3/76 and SO many others do not exist as SBDs...
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Heads don't recall or relate to the days when getting gear into a show could be quite a challenge. Folks, sometimes it was easy but as Blair alludes to in the above description, in the old days you often had to be very sneaky (wheelchair gambit, etc.) or work your best rap on the venue staff to gain entrance with your set-up intact. And then there were those problems if the venue staff decided to intervene during your taping of the show,..ouch. You really had to think on your feet back in those days. Blair please attach the GEEZER ALERT warning sticker to this story as the one is from a while back. I had some experience with several taping scenarios but let's start with when I heard the Dead were going to come back to Nebraska in July of 1978. To the Omaha Civic Auditorium. We got there and the venue was half full (about 4,000) but everyone was chomping at the bit in anticipation to hear the band since they hadn't been to Nebraska for about 5 years. And of course the Dead had just played those stellar shows in '77. There was no hassle getting the deck in this time, but in these days were no 'tapers sections' and each venue or even staff may present a different challenge. But not here, thank goodness. Out in the hallway, the Hell's Angels wandered about sporting full colors and big grins. They must have been transporting 'party favors' and decided to take in a show. Or maybe the Angels were just road tripping with the band (although I didn't see them at the next few shows). My buddy even brought his 68 year old mother to the show. She sat up in the stands "It is just too loud down there!" Anyway, I headed down to the floor with my Nak 550 to set up in front of the soundboard. When I started to get my gear set up and saw this guy beside me with a great rig. Luckily this kind stranger (I have since found out was famous taper Bob Wagner) then let me patch out of the back of his deck, which was wonderful as he had a great 8 ft. mike stand set-up. He had a Sony deck and mics, but with that high stand his mic's were well above the crowd noise. We were about 15 to 20 feet FOB. So Garcia treated us to a blistering Sugaree opener, the kind that drove the crowd wild. His leads mounted into a wave that crests, recedes, regroups, and comes back rolling in with such power and delight that adds a synergistic effect to our frenzied response as his rolling/soaring guitar work lift and subside with that band. Then Beat In on Down the Line, TLEO and now it was Bob's turn in the spotlight with a Look's like Rain. About halfway through the song, I suddenly noticed something shimmering in the air between the band and me. I thought "what a fantastic lightshow! Or have I have shifted into fifth gear just a little early that I scheduled?” I staggered towards that disturbance in front of me to investigate. People were dancing wildly in the middle of the floor as a waterfall played over them. It was about 25 feet in circumference. I put my hand in, water...hand out, no rain..I am standing in front of an indoor waterfall. what to do? I jumped into pouring rain that was INSIDE the middle of the auditorium! Then I stepped back and was out of it. I shook my head and lunged back into the deluge and danced through Looks Like Rain & then during Direwolf as well and a delightful All Over now. Complete with Donna in perfect pitch! Then Candyman and Lazy>Supplication before Bobby informed us "We're going to take a short break". I staggered back to reload a new tape and then I did look for some validation of my experience. And I asked my friends if I was not infact 'soaking wet' as I patted my soaked shirt. They grinned knowingly and affirmed that, yes, in fact I was "all wet". ;-] And then this unique show continued, (nice indoor waterfeature !) with a killer second set complete with a transportive Estimated>Eyes>drums>Wharf Rat>Truckin>Iko Iko>Around. And then after a lengthy absence from the stage the boys returned to play us 'Promised Land" as an encore. As I left the auitorium I noticed the water standing on the ground outside, a summer storm? Was a it a leak in the roof or didn't the Dead conjure up the forces of nature as they were so prone to do? But back to the important stuff, what were the Dead going to do next? Would Phil rev up his reverse gravity machine and pummel us with phil-bombs at the next show? Would they levitate the crowd, and have us all dance while floating in the thin Colorado air? I HAD to follow them to those Red Rocks shows in 1978. So a roadtrip to Colorado it was. This was the Dead’s first Red Rocks jaunt (and my first as well, although my girlfriend (now wife) had seen Joni Mitchell there previously and raved about the venue) so my anticipation was so 'high'. In many ways. So I packed my taping and camping gear. When we walked up to the Rocks entrance, the Feyline (or were they the John Scher guys?) Security behemoth that I will call "BigBoy' stopped me at the entrance to look through my Boy Scout backpack. He hefted out my NAK 550 out of the pack and held it up high, exclaiming “Hey, you can’t take this in!" I gave him my best perplexed look and said “What? It’s just a tape player.” (first lie) Then the giant BigBoy instructs me to “take that back to your car”. I retorted “I can’t, I hitchhiked to the show” (second lie). Beefy Bruiser BigBoy points to my ticket and says “You can’t take it in, the ticket says no recorders” and I tell him “look I don’t have any microphones” (third lie) and hold up my arms to be searched (my comrades had the mics with them). Then I signed loudly and popped open the back of the Nak deck and let eight D cell batteries drop onto the ground. "Look, I dumped out the batteries". BigBoy stood there with his arms crossed in front of me, but I could see a small crack in his resolve. So I pulled that thread “Look, I hitchhiked all the way here from Nebraska to see this show, would you hold onto this for me? It cost me $600 (which in ’78 was a lot of dough) but if you just hold it for me, and then I will find you after the show. You look like an honest guy.” (lie number four). I push the Nak towards him, and this deck is huge and weighs a ton, (a goddamn boat anchor). I really played my trump card here and was trying to hold my 'game face', Suddenly all the heads waiting in line to get in (and all my friends behind me) erupt with yells at BigBoy to hurry up and started chanting "let us in". BigBoy gives his mullet a shake and then points into the venue and looks and me and says “Go on, get out of here” and I dive headlong into my first Red Rocks show with a grin a mile wide(high)! Followed by Mary with my mics and my buddies with my fresh batteries (lie number five) and my blank tapes. The batteries that I dumped out for BigBoy were already ‘dead’ (no pun intended). I again ran into that ‘kind stranger’ (Dr. Bob Wagner, FOB right side)) to plug out of his Sony again. Those two shows were stupefying, and the band obviously enjoyed playing there. I recall Jerry broke a string during the Scarlet>Fire, Phil leading the boys through “Cold Rain & Snow” with his bass punching that tune into a triumphant ‘strut’ that night. We watched the clouds chase each other in the sky until it was dark and then looked out ‘over’ the Dead to see the distant lights of Denver sparking in the background as we listened to Eyes. Wharf Rat, Terrapin, Franklins and other aural wonders as we were perched in between those massive stony slabs jutting into the sky (and the Dead had a good view as well looking back at us). As the Dead those two evenings took us all on an astounding journey of Americana, myth, rock and roll, country, space, jam, fable, fun, roller coaster, and turn on a dime delights, it all rolled into one. And then as they finished us all off with “Werewolves of London” we were crooning back our own howl of “Aoooooo” right back at the band. And Garcia was grinning ear to ear as he told us “good night”. These are all I the details that I can wring out of these old synapses about taping 'back in the day'. "The bad news is, there is no key to the universe, the good news is, it was never locked".
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making a long story short. So please forgive my long windedness. And another note, in 1979, someone broke into our rental house and stole my Nak 550, my stereo and about 500 albums (those were big CDs for people too young to remember ;o} ). However, the thief did not take my master tapes of the Dead, Kotke, etc. I am eternally grateful (pun intended) that even though I had a big $ loss, I still had my master recordings from those shows. I felt lucky. And I have shared them often with friends and strangers alike, including many here at this site via the Vineyard. Thanks for all who I have traded with and those who have shared so much with me, especially with documenting the adventures of this wild band of hooligans whom we have followed around the world for the last many decades. You all are appreciated. "The bad news is, there is no key to the universe, the good news is, it was never locked". .
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back in the day when it was a big hassle to tape Jerry shows at the Keystones, I sometimes brought in bits and pieces of James Olness's equipment along with my camera gear, because separated from the D5 it didn't look so suspicious. And yeah, there's that memorable "Don't Let Go" at the Keystone Berkeley in March of '83 or so, where Jerry takes off to Mars or thereabouts in the solo, which goes on for quite a while and leaves some doubt that he's coming back (hey, I was on the rail at the time, it was incredible), and the taper is discovered in mid-solo and gets into a shouting match with the bouncer in the tape I've got. Ah, history.
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Thanks for sharing those wild adventures! And, of course, thanks for the tapes! Lies in the service of taping are not lies--I'm pretty sure that's even in the New Testament. Many years ago, for a brief period, I got to know (Dr.) Bob Wagner. Great guy; quiet, unassuming... did so much important work! Lost touch with him years ago...
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I'm not as big on listening to AUD tapes as many, I just need the clarity of a good SBD, but I agree there are a lot of fun moments to relive and notice on AUD tapes. I remember one I've not listened to in years, I think its from Dallas or Houston in 1988 and in the middle of space some Head, probably tripping, yells "Who's driving this boat?" That one always cracked us up. On the FM 'cast of 12-31-87 throughout the show in between songs I can hear a dude named George I used to know from Sonoma State making a distinctive whooping bird call sound that was kind of his trademark. Everytime I hear it, I think of George.
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Nice tales, I suspect we spent some shows smiling at each other across the floor with our mic poles in the air! Hope you is having one fine day!
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Great, great story. I was with you all the way.
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You should write a book, what with this and the dragon story...
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There's a Grateful Dead Hour where David Gans interviewed a woman who performed sign language at GD concerts. It's the way he said to her- "You don't stop during the jams"- I still laugh thinking about it.
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Rutgers Athletic Center. The RAC had skylights in the ceiling.The weather outside was violent. And as if on cue, lightning would flash at the mention of rainy weather. Looks Like Rain was off the wall with the timing as was Fire on the Mountain and even in Estimated Prophet when Bobby sang "I'll call out Thunder BA-BOOM dead on cue. You can hear the audience reacting with the spectacle from above very clearly on the audience tapes that are in circulation. Sounboards on the other hand are eerily void of the seat of youy pants excitement taking place right in front of it.
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from the cheap seats they looked very intent on what they were doing, constantly moving about, working with wires and mics, milling about the soundboard, very busy, then the show started and all was quiet. My experiences with the tapers was not as cool as the rest, I had no idea when in 88 I somehow got a ticket for the tapers section, being that I had purchased tickets for all for the show the night before, I was the only one at the second nite, right in the middle of the tapers section, (to this day, don't know how I got into that section), but there I was, completely ignorant of what was going on or what these guys were trying to capture on their tape machines. I was digging the show and groving, dancing and whooping and shouting, little did I know in the dark that all around me were giving me the "what's this guy doing here" stare. As the first set ended and the lights came up, I was informed by many in the vacinity that I was an "asshole" for shouting and not respecting their endevor. That was when I was told that even walking infront of their mics would produce a sound shadow that could be heard by all. Having never experienced this, I was a little doubtful of their worries, but, lo and behold, it was true, they knew what they were talking about. Having been educated that night, I never went anywhere near their section again, which were pretty good seats in my memory. So, with all due respect, I apoligize for my ignorance. Maybe this is why I have never heard any aud tapes from the 10-16-88 show (Bobby's birthday) Again, sorry, it was a good show.
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Interesting juxtaposition there... I think this is partly what Marye was referring to in her recently added thread "Tradeoffs Of Cultural Transmission". The spontaneity of the experience was certainly what added greatly. You spontaneously got a taper's ticket and just as spontaneously found out what taping was all about. It must have been like falling into another animal's den. Space (physical space, not the segment after drums) was a thing not to be trifled with in later years at shows. Twirlers were in the hallway and tapers were FOB and God help anybody unfortunate enough to get in the way. And that certainly took away from the spontaneity of the scene. I suppose it was inevitable. Just the way human beings are.
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sound" ;o} There isn't a day that goes by that I don't wish I didn't tape more shows. Nor does a day go by where I'm not thankful that I did tape. As Blair said many shows weren't taped by the band. That Omaha '78 show isn't in the vault, no soundboard. But we got it anyway. The tapers had the same misson as Marvis Staples "I'll take you there!". To just catch a little piece of the magic of even one of those nights we spent with the Dead is beyond wonderful. Those tapes/CDs are an aural time machine, just pop in that show and take flight. "The bad news is, there is no key to the universe, the good news is, it was never locked".
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There isn't a day that goes by that I don't wish I didn't tape more shows. I can't not disagree with what I don't think you aren't saying. :-)
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I regretted not taping more shows back then,and never regretted taping the ones I did. Taping a show does require attentiveness on another whole different level, however. Recording back in the day added an entirely alternate sense of adventure to those shows. Fun stuff, ;o} But Syracuse78, you got what I meant, even though how I said it did get in the way. But the 70's were a little rough on my synapes! Not too much dain bramage however.... "The bad news is, there is no key to the universe, the good news is, it was never locked".
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Tapes were always an unneccessary evil, ie being eaten by every player ever devised, but with the Dead tapes were a medium alone, the values of Maxell vs Denon vs Sony vs a dozen other brands and 60 90, 110 minutes of pure joy.May 9 & 10, 1987 Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey CA, Hornsby and the Range open then Ry Cooder. No Taper section. But we broadcast the sunday show on KZSC the college station from UC SantaCruz, Night of the Live Dead with the Grim Taper as your host, rolling the lastest sounds from Bob Weird and Phil Less, with Jay Garcia toking along. The next year they returned and I was dancing my ass off for Scarlet/Fire then the best Playing I ever heard, I ended up down below the soundboard at the end when the drums began and lo there was a taper, gave me his card from UC San Diego, but never hooked up. 88 Laguna Seca Playing on the Box Set So Many Roads. Tapes are now gone with digital recording taking their place, and soundboards available after the show, thank Furthur. Make Tapes Not War.
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I was at this show with some friends of mine, sitting back in the corner. There was a taper next to us, so we were able to obtain a copy of this show, which was really really good. During the second set as the Dead go into Morning Dew my friend Jorge can clearly be heard yelling "Holy Sh$$". Unfortunately Jorge was killed a couple years later, and even though I've had opportunities to replace that aud with a soundboard, I refuse to just so I can still hear my friend.
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In the previously mentioned 8-6-71...I love it when Bobby says (after the opening kickass Bertha), "Hey, you down there with the microphone - if you wanna get a decent recording, you gotta move back about 40 feet." Then the tapers Craig Todd and Harvey Kaslow (who were already in the sweet spot) can be heard to say, "We're stayin' right here!" Another favorite aud tape moment is in set 2 of 11-4-77 Colgate...after Jerry sings the first "Stella Blue...", a girl yells out "Yeah Jerry!" Speaking of Bob Wagner - his amazing recording of my first show, 9-1-79 Holleder Stadium, just started to circulate in the digital world - you gotta hear it! http://archive.org/details/gd1979-09-01.nak700.wagner.miller.119965.fla… 33 years later, it's STILL a great time to be a Deadhead :)
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At a band meeting at Front Street in 1984 Dan Healy complained about the fact that he could not see the stage because of the sea of microphone stands in front of the stage, and a discussion commenced about whether or not taping could be stopped, and if not how could it be controlled. Bill "Kidd" Candelario(I know the spelling is wrong) suggested a taping section and then people started asking where would they put it. At this point I suggested that there were always 100-250 obstructed view seats directly behind the sound board that were never sold at reserved seat shows. I believe Kidd brought up charging extra for taping the shows and I said that I didn't think it was fair because the seats were obstructed and besides they would now be selling 100-250 tickets per show that they hadn't been selling before. The official taping section was approved by all the band members immediately and the next mail order shows after that meeting were at BCT in late 1984...Originally the soundboard was going to be located below the balcony (but not UNDER the balcony, so there would have been a few rows directly behind it that would have been obstructed.) This location was "advanced" by Dan Healy before the shows went on sale and he chose that location. The day of the first show, he changed his mind and moved the sound board up to the first four rows center of the balcony, which caused the major headache of having to relocate those people down to the rear of the orchestra where the sound board was originally going to be...lot's of pissed off people! I came up with the cute idea of stamping a likeness of Richard Nixon on the back of the Taper Tickets (because he was the "king of the tapers"). It was a store bought rubber stamp that I bought on Haight Street a few years before...I still have it!
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if that isn't classic Grateful Dead thinking, turning unsellable seats into a huge win-win, I dunno what is...
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The very last show at the Greek -- August 1989, during space my cigarette smoke was meandering into the eyes of the gal next to me (who was . . . let's just say "having mental difficulties during space") -- unbenknownst to me, her boyfriend was recording the show (not in the taper section) w/ his fancy microphones right next to me at mouth level (you see where this is going) -- I turn to the gal and ask: "Is this driving you crazy?" (meaning my cigarette smoke; not the "space" screatching all around us) DIRECTLY into the microphone! Perfect timing -- I've never heard a copy of the tape, but somewhere it's out there -- some guy on a tape during space, asking whether "this" is driving you crazy! Sorry to admit, I'm the guy. Ooooops but somehow perfect!
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i am over at taperssection.com alot (just became a taper last year) and few of us started noticing that there were tape collections up for grabs on ebay, craigslist etc. so someone over there organized for everyone to chip in to start scooping these up and start converting them to digital so hopefully in the years to come we can fill in all those shows that are missing. I am surprised none of the vault keepers didn't start doing this.
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I was at this show and taped it on a boombox from about halfway back in the orchestra. Need less to say the sound wasn't the greatest but what a great and overlooked show. Definitely will check it out on archive.org. Thanks for the headsup Blair!
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Re: Your comment about the crowd and feeling of the space the show was played in. My favorites, 10/15/1977 as an example, are of the whole evening, with the tuning & banter between tunes intact in the recording. The note not played -- or the silence between notes -- often is as important as the note that is played; likewise, the 'empty' space between tunes tells its own story. To hear the band ease into Jackstraw for three minutes before the first 'official' note is struck is revelatory. I was thinking this over while listening to the Dillon Stadium release. I miss the unfolding of the show over time when the space between tunes is edited out. Perhaps whoever was running the tape machine at the soundboard cut that stuff out in the name of saving tape at the time. If so, too bad. Listening to some of the GEMS recordings that Bear made, it seems clear he saw the value in capturing the whole experience on tape...that the note not struck often is as important as the note that is played.
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Jerry Garcia Band at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium in 2/24/87 the last Santa Cruz Jerry apperance, at the opening of the second set my friend Mark and I could not resist the temptation and let go with a huge !D!A!R!K!S!T!A!R! to which the taper sly-ly says "Yeah, play a Bobby song!". Great show, Great Tape. should be a Pure Jerry release, they did Harder They Come to open the second set. Part Deux I started going to shows in '83 so I saw the change, Greek 83 the floor is all tapers, great stuff should be a Dave's Picks, I have the photo with the Cortney Pollack tie dye backdrop. There's one in Book of the Deadheads. But in 86 we had no problem standing in front of Phil on the Sunday show when they made the roadies set the mics back up and did Box of Rain for the 21st song of the day on the 21st of June. Good Ole Grateful Dead Hey how come Futhur's not playin' the Greek everybody else seems to be.
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If some of the gaps between songs are not on official releases, it's because they have been edited down or out altogether to make the flow of the disc better or, in some cases, to save time to allow another song to be on a disc (or for the whole set to fit on a single disc). They all exist on the master tapes (i.e., no one was sitting there with a finger on a pause button trying to guess when the real song was going to start.) I agree there are sometimes cool little moments in those idle tune-ups and gaps, but frankly I prefer to NOT have two-and-a-half minutes of tuning and dead air in between songs on the official releases. Some of that stuff does get on anyway, though....
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Hi All, There is an article in this week's Rolling Stone regarding the remastering and releasing of "Bear's," Owsley Stanley's tapes. The article indicated that they had set up a non-profit trust to work on raising the $200-300K needed to pay for the digital mastering of his tapes (for future consumer consumption). This seemed a bit odd, as the commercial value of the tapes, once digitized, seems like a very viable and lucrative commodity (at least to me). I may be missing something, as the article did not mention the exact plans for the digitized tape archives if/when the project is completed. The article did mention that there were tapes from Miles Davis and Johnny Cash in addition to a number of GD tapes. If these tapes were to be made affordable (or free! hint hint) to the public, then the non-profit option makes more sense. I just can't imagine people giving away such treasures, but you never know. *I went looking for the article online, but since it's in the current issue, it's not on line yet, sorry.
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Wasn't it Duke Ellington who said, "Music is what happens between the notes," or am I mis-remembering?
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10 years 10 months
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Sorry to barge in on your blog but I just listened to a half hour Playin" and I MUST know where it was played...Does anyone have the list of tracks and where they are from from November 2011 Thanx in advance in box me .Peace Jim da Jazz Cat from Philly
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It was Debussy, someone who Ellington admired a lot as a tone colorist. There is also a Pauline Oliveros ensemble "The Space Between" based on a similar notion. Cheers!
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Hey Folks, I smuggled a portable Sony cassette player with a built in condensor mike into the 2/18/71 show at Portchester. At the time, this cheap little tape recorder was almost state of the art. I didn't really care so much about that at the time, I was just a 19 year old happy little hippy going to my 3rd Dead concert, and along with my tape recorder, I brought a chemical agent that was known by three letters for my first excursion to that realm that everyone was talking about those days. I think I paid 9 bucks for the tickets, bought at a headshop named OM in Rockland County. The tape recorder was small enough to fit inside my jacket on a winters evening, and nobody searched me ... and cool, I was in! Portchester seated maybe 2,000 folks, not sure, I was in the 10th row and the sound was just great. I listened to that audience tape for a decade or two and eventually a better quality recording came out of the Dead's fabulous two sets, but I've never found a soundboard or any other recording better than mine for the NRPS set, so for those interested, here it is in all it's B quality glory: http://archive.org/details/nrps1971-02-18aud.weiner.25813.sbeok.shnf It was a truly terrrific show, in my opinion, the best of the 6 night run. This show is so nostaligic, with Marmaduke, Dave Torbet, Spencer Dryden and Jerry G of blessed memory, and good ole Dave Nelson. A great great example of the early NRPS with Jerry .... check it out. Dov (David)
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... for that link, Dov! I loved NRPS in that era. I was at two of those Capitol shows--to the best of my recollection 2/19 and 2/21, Fri. and Sun., as my parents weren't crazy about me going to mid-week shows, even though it was my senior year in HS. Oh, well. They did make exceptions, too...
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your welcome Blair ....my brother was at the 2-19 show too. good times .... back in the days when Garcia was thin and his hair was dark ... :) and the girls all swooned for Marmaduke .... and Torbert. Hey did you folks know that Spencer Dryden was Charlie Chaplains nephew?
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I recorded the Dead at the Fillmore East on 9/18/70 using a crappy cassette deck I bought while visiting Europe that summer. It had a cheap mic, too. I don't remember what I had to go through to sneak the deck in, but I know that my friend and I were seated pretty far back in the Orchestra on the left. I don't have the tape any longer, but I remember it turned out to be mostly a recording of my friend and I singing with the muffled sound of music in the background. Pretty embarrassing, actually. Then in 1972, I borrowed a deck from someone and went to record the famous "Hell's Angels Presents..." party on 3/25/72 at the Academy of Music in NY. I remember that there was a mission or street-front church next door. I ducked into there, sat down in one of the pews and proceeded to stuff the deck into my pants as best I could (while trying not to attract too much attention). Fortunately it was still cold outside, so I was able to wear my huge navy surplus jacket to cover the bulges. So I get to my 25th row seat and the guy behind me asks I wanted to trade seats with his friend...who was in the 4th row right side!. Hell, yeah! I recorded Bo Diddley's set (with the Dead backing him), and the first Dead set. I was pretty much a novice taper, so I hadn't brought a flashlight or Bic lighter so I could see what I was doing. Right before Lovelight started, I flipped the tape and unknowingly pressed both fast forward and record. The recording sounded like Pigpen on helium! I have a vague memory of recording 9/19/72 at Roosevelt Stadium in NJ, but I was also flying pretty high so I can't be sure of that. After that, I let the true "tapers" handle the recording and stuck to collecting. Ed Perlstein
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One of the most interesting blogs on this site yet.
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Just yesterday I was building a Grateful Dead pyramid to experience the develoement of the Dead in a three-stage flash. 5/11/72, 5/22/77, and 3/26/90 starting with the so-called ill-chosen Built to Last opener from 3/26/90 set 2. I was listening in mono due to the stereo at my place, and the first two were sbd's and the last was a brilliant aud by one of archive's consistent '90s tapers, Litzenberger. Only on the aud did Phil's bass and Weir's concepts shine through on the recording. It brought the band into 3-D. One thing I always loved about aud tapes is that you can hear the sound of people responding to the music. Perhaps it is because the GD had a crack sound system crew innovating the technology alongside the band as they innovated their art, the audience tapes tend to offer an honest portrayal of people's response to their music, rather than superficial hype generated by media mega-giants. The audience tapes offer an honesty seldom revealed in rock and roll. I just wish that more Grateful Dead-based musicians would step up their game and become masters of rhythm and get over the hype that the Grateful Dead failed to rehearse. You clearly see a great and rehearsed band at work whenever they were recording for a live release. There are other kinds of brilliance to be found elsewhere, but a different sort. Kinda like the difference between Fall '89 and Spring '90, if you catch my drift. Nonetheless, Great point, Blair! Keep up the great writing. I actually read your words with a certain reverence, since my lifestyle changes prevent me from studying the developments of archive.org as I may have done before. The concept that you speak of sparks a nostalgia in my heart!
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a pic from that 6 night run ... it can't be 2/18 since Mickey isn't in the picture, and 2/18 was the last night he played with the band for a few years. so Blair, it could be from 2/19 or 2/21 .... can you recognize the back of your head? .... :) Dov
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    traiger17
    1 year 5 months ago
    hard to handle from Phil zone
    best ever...on my #1 favs incl (but not limited to):- comes a time 5/9/77 - morning dew 10/18/74 - mississippi 1/2 step 9/3/77 - scarlet begonias 6/26/76 - here comes sunshine 12/19/73 - Franklin's tower 5/9,6/9,10/11/1977! - estimated prophet 5/14/78 ...to tired now go add to list... bw
  • marye
    6 years 5 months ago
    cue the Small World theme
    not long ago I was reminiscing in another thread about my life-changing first Jerry show (1-23-81, Keystone Palo Alto), and Gr8fulTed, who lives in Kansas, though we did meet briefly in real life at the Jerry Giants game a couple years back, says he thinks he might have that one and will send it along. So the CD arrives the other day. The recording's from Dick Latvala's master audience recording on a tape belonging to Jeff Knudsen, both of whom I knew back in the day, but neither of whom I knew on that day, because hey, it was my first show. Ah, history. Ah, the memories. Thanks, Gr8fulTed!
  • Dragoneye
    6 years 5 months ago
    Many Thanks To The Tapers
    I was at the local Goodwill the other day and came across a collection of Dead tapes. I really was taken by the lovingly annotated and decorated cases. There are over fifty of them in a wooden box from ca.1965 to 1995. Paying the clerk less than ten bucks for the lot and feeling like a thief, I brought them home and started my exploration.The quality for the most part is very good, and more importantly, the energy of the music therein is really incredible. There is nothing like hearing these live performances, the ambient atmospheres and crowd energy being mirrored by the band. I was very lucky to have found them. Now I am going to digitize them so I can organize and share them better. I discovered the Dead when I was young, and they were too; before Dead Heads and Tapers, but my appreciation of them and their music just keeps growing and gets richer and richer as we go. Thanks to Blair for this acknowledgement of such a wonderful aspect of the phenomena and community. Peace out
  • johnlo
    6 years 5 months ago
    Many Thanks to the Tapers
    I attended my first concert on 4-12-83. If it were not for tapers, I would not have the joy of reliving this concert on tape for the last 27 years (A college friend, who lived with a taper made me the cassettes in 1985) among many others, especially the Summer and Fall 1985 Tours. I remember having some pretty terrible sounding tapes back in the day (mostly stuff from the 70's). I still treasure and prefer my cassettes over CDs as they are all high-quality AUD recordings. I may only have 15 to 20 cassettes that fit in this category and quite amazingly they still play well in my tape deck after hundreds of plays.Soundboards are 'dead and uninspiring' IMHO. Without the AUD and the ambience, the listening experience is diminished. The difference-maker for me was purchasing a BBE Audio Restoration System for my Cassette Deck. This piece of technology reproduces the "Full-Dynamic Range" of live cassette recordings and was specifically designed with 'Deadheads' in mind. If you have a component system with a deck, this is an essential piece of equipment. You will feel like you are at the concert! BTW, does anyone know if a comparable piece of audio restoration equipment exists for listening to Live Audience GD CDR's? For example, Audience CDR's burned from the Archive? Thanks again to all the tapers for all the great years of listening.
  • DinoBam
    6 years 5 months ago
    Taping & Trading
    I was not a Taper, however I got involved with tapes and trading them through Relix Magazine. I can remember sending out blank Sony SA 90's and Maxell XL 2's through snailmail, and patiently awaiting for them to return. So many people, in so many far away places I had never met face to face...... not one screwed me.Some where even so kind as to include handmade inserts that were artistic masterpieces..... Some of myy earlier shows were the 4 Tower Theatre 1976 shows, Palladium NYC 1977 run, and my alltime fav.... Englishtown NJ 1977. What memories! Thank you ALL .... ESPECIALLY the Tapers!