• April 5, 2012
    http://www.dead.net/features/blair-jackson/blairs-golden-road-blog-persistence-memory
    Blair's Golden Road Blog - The Persistence of Memory

    I’ve been asked many times through the years about “the best” Grateful Dead show I ever attended. With 365 concerts spanning 1970 to 1995 to choose from, that’s an extremely difficult choice. “Best” in what way? Some supposedly objective evaluation of the music? Good luck with that. “Favorite”? Even that is completely loaded. I’ve had unimaginable fun at shows that I know were not that spectacular, and I’ve had so-so times at shows that were revealed later to be magnificent. It’s the setting, your mood, who you’re with, who’s around you, your ability at that show and on those songs to tune in to the band and the vibe in the venue, and so on.

    As I’ve said before, I don’t like to compare shows from different periods of the band’s history. Let’s pick two shows I attended that I loved unequivocally: 5/15/70 late show at the Fillmore East and 10/10/82 at Frost Amphitheatre in Palo Alto. It doesn’t even feel like the same band to me. I was a 17-year-old newbie in the spring of ’70 and every show was a complete revelation. That first year-plus I saw the band, half the songs at a given concert were new to me. Give me a “Dark Star” or a “St. Stephen” and I was blissful.

    By the fall of ’82 I was 29 and a wily veteran, yet there was something so perfect about that second Frost show—particularly the pre-drums—on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, in what was the most beautiful place I’d ever seen the Dead, that has seared the show in my mind in a way few have. Certainly there have been many others that are as memorable to me in other ways, from the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago in ’71, to the final night of the Warfield run in ’80, to the 9/11/83 show at the Santa Fe Downs, to Sunday Red Rocks in ’85, and on and on. We all have a million stories.

    Salvador Dali: “The Persistence of Memory,” 1931.
    This is your brain on Dead.

    But there is one show I went to that probably persists into my memory more than any other: March 18, 1977, at Winterland. I had last seen the Dead in October 1976, two shows (with The Who) at Oakland Stadium, so it was a relief to be back “home” in a smaller place again. I’d been hanging out a bit with my new Dead Head friend David Gans and he had passed along glowing reports of the Dead’s first two shows of ’77 down in Southern California. He told me about a new epic tune Garcia had introduced, called “Terrapin” (“Huh, like a turtle?”) and a new reggae tune by Bob Weir. Intriguing.

    My girlfriend and I met up in line with my roommate from sophomore year at Northwestern, also named Blair, and we landed choice seats in the top (seventh) row of the little balcony that outlined the floor, about a third of the way back. The first set was typical for the era, which is to say completely inspired. Jerry’s solos in “Mississippi Half-Step” soared and screamed—there was something that happened to the sound of his guitar (a Travis Bean at the time) in that smallish arena that was different from any other place. The room’s natural reverb, which played havoc with Phil’s bass lines, let Jerry’s sound ring into every inch of space, it seemed. “Sugaree” was never better than it was in ’77, and on the version this night, something cool happened right before the final verse, at about the 9:55 mark. Jerry stepped on a pedal—an octave divider, I learned years later—that changed his sound to a warm but sharp tone I’d never heard him use before. It felt like being bathed in hot liquid. It lasted only a minute or so before he switched back to his regular tone, but for me it had the shock of the new—whoa, what was that?—and it was just a hint of things to come. The real guitar fireworks started a couple of songs later.

    “Scarlet Begonias,” probably my favorite of the band’s recent songs (it was two years old at that point) had everyone in the place happily dancing and singing along, but the instrumental coda, which opened with Donna’s soft moans and cries as usual, didn’t expand and spread out this time; instead, it moved quite deliberately into a catchy new groove that sounded familiar, but I couldn’t quite. (It was from “Happiness Is Drumming” off the Diga Rhythm Band album, which I’d worn out on my turntable over the previous year.)

    It turned out this was a new song, debuted that night, “Fire on the Mountain,” and it introduced another novel guitar tone—courtesy of Jerry’s envelope filter, which gave every note a wonderful thwacking wah. What a song! It had the fattest groove of any Dead song since “St. Stephen,” and that chorus, with Bob and Donna helping out, jumped in my head and has stayed there for the past 35 years. And when the final jam after the last chorus made a quick descent and dropped back into the original opening riff of “Scarlet,” my head snapped back in amazement—whaaaaa?—as if some master magician had just made a tiger disappear in front of my eyes. How did they do that?

    A few songs into Set Two, Jerry was back with the magical envelope wah for my first version of “Estimated Prophet” (which I called “California” before David Gans educated me about the correct title a few days later). I was a huge fan of reggae in this era—The Harder They Come soundtrack, Bob Marley, Burning Spear, Toots & the Maytals—so I was thrilled that Bob and the band had put a characteristically weird and dark spin on the genre.

    Then came “Terrapin,” rising quietly at first, glistening rhythm guitar accents from Bob, as Jerry began the tale. That first time through I couldn’t quite piece together details of the story—the girl, the sailor, the soldier, the lion’s den. But it felt timeless, maybe even from another dimension, an invitation to go on a mysterious journey. The notes in Jerry’s first solo were like molten gold. The song moved through different sections, its rhythm changing a couple of times along the way, until it arrived at a point where all of us—5,000-strong—were shouting “TERRAPIN!” along with Bob and Donna, because we knew we had to, and the band kicked into this enormous instrumental bombardment of guitars and piano and drums rising and falling in unison and harmony and contrapuntal lines; the most magnificent and majestic bombast I’d ever heard.

    Once that jam had dwindled to its natural conclusion, the group went into a hypnotic jam that sounded Spanish or Arabic—this was the only time the Dead ever played the “At a Siding” section of the “Terrapin Station” suite (the album came out in late July ’77), but without Garcia’s vocal part (“While you were gone…”) attached. (I had to wait for Furthur to play the complete suite decades later to hear that great swooping entrance to “At a Siding” live again; it still gave me chills.)

    July ’77. Say, is somethin’ funny goin’ on around here?

    Following a short drum solo, it was back to terra firma for a long, slow but simmering version of “Not Fade Away,” which, incredibly enough, contained the most mind-blowing musical passage of a night filled with them. At 11:00 into the song, Jerry flips on what sounds like a combination of an octave divider and a flanger and launches into this rotating figure against the beat that builds slowly and then gets faster and wilder until it’s spinning completely out of control and he’s “fanning” high and fast. It hits a peak and just stays there for a few bars and then he really cuts loose on the chaotic descent. I’ve heard it hundreds of times since and it never fails to leave me breathless; it’s still astonishing.

    At the time I was so stunned by that short jam I think I was still recovering during the “St. Stephen” that followed and didn’t even notice they skipped a verse and the middle jam of that song! “Uncle John’s Band” was the encore that sent us home. Sweet ecstasy! It was one of those totally transcendent and transformative nights the Grateful Dead occasionally provided (when I least expected it) that made me feel completely alive and alert and in tune with everything in the universe. (It sounds goofy, but you know what I mean.)

    Within a week or two, Gans had tracked down an excellent audience recording of the show and I played it endlessly, reliving the night each time. As time went on and more tapes and more shows competed for my attention, I listened to the show less, but the glow never left me.

    In preparation for writing this, I listened to good ol’ 3/18/77 from beginning to end for the first time in a few years and I was frankly surprised by its flaws—the lyric lapses in “Uncle John’s” and “Fire on the Mountain” (which is still raw and formative), the sloppiness of what I remembered being a perfect transition going from “Fire” back to the “Scarlet” intro, that missing chunk of “St. Stephen,” etc. By the time the band hit the road the following month for the fabled May ’77 tour, they’d worked out the kinks in “Fire” and tightened up their sound in general. But everything that excited me that night is still etched in my imperfect memory and washes over me again whenever I hear the show.

    I went to Winterland the following night, too, and though I’m sure I had a good time, here’s what I actually remember of the 3/19 show: nothing. And you know what? All in all, it’s probably even a better show (the tapes told me years after the fact). But 3/18 was my show, and it always will be.

    Is there a show that stands out in your mind as The One?

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I’ve been asked many times through the years about “the best” Grateful Dead show I ever attended. With 365 concerts spanning 1970 to 1995 to choose from, that’s an extremely difficult choice. “Best” in what way? Some supposedly objective evaluation of the music? Good luck with that. “Favorite”? Even that is completely loaded. I’ve had unimaginable fun at shows that I know were not that spectacular, and I’ve had so-so times at shows that were revealed later to be magnificent. It’s the setting, your mood, who you’re with, who’s around you, your ability at that show and on those songs to tune in to the band and the vibe in the venue, and so on.

As I’ve said before, I don’t like to compare shows from different periods of the band’s history. Let’s pick two shows I attended that I loved unequivocally: 5/15/70 late show at the Fillmore East and 10/10/82 at Frost Amphitheatre in Palo Alto. It doesn’t even feel like the same band to me. I was a 17-year-old newbie in the spring of ’70 and every show was a complete revelation. That first year-plus I saw the band, half the songs at a given concert were new to me. Give me a “Dark Star” or a “St. Stephen” and I was blissful.

By the fall of ’82 I was 29 and a wily veteran, yet there was something so perfect about that second Frost show—particularly the pre-drums—on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, in what was the most beautiful place I’d ever seen the Dead, that has seared the show in my mind in a way few have. Certainly there have been many others that are as memorable to me in other ways, from the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago in ’71, to the final night of the Warfield run in ’80, to the 9/11/83 show at the Santa Fe Downs, to Sunday Red Rocks in ’85, and on and on. We all have a million stories.

Salvador Dali: “The Persistence of Memory,” 1931.
This is your brain on Dead.

But there is one show I went to that probably persists into my memory more than any other: March 18, 1977, at Winterland. I had last seen the Dead in October 1976, two shows (with The Who) at Oakland Stadium, so it was a relief to be back “home” in a smaller place again. I’d been hanging out a bit with my new Dead Head friend David Gans and he had passed along glowing reports of the Dead’s first two shows of ’77 down in Southern California. He told me about a new epic tune Garcia had introduced, called “Terrapin” (“Huh, like a turtle?”) and a new reggae tune by Bob Weir. Intriguing.

My girlfriend and I met up in line with my roommate from sophomore year at Northwestern, also named Blair, and we landed choice seats in the top (seventh) row of the little balcony that outlined the floor, about a third of the way back. The first set was typical for the era, which is to say completely inspired. Jerry’s solos in “Mississippi Half-Step” soared and screamed—there was something that happened to the sound of his guitar (a Travis Bean at the time) in that smallish arena that was different from any other place. The room’s natural reverb, which played havoc with Phil’s bass lines, let Jerry’s sound ring into every inch of space, it seemed. “Sugaree” was never better than it was in ’77, and on the version this night, something cool happened right before the final verse, at about the 9:55 mark. Jerry stepped on a pedal—an octave divider, I learned years later—that changed his sound to a warm but sharp tone I’d never heard him use before. It felt like being bathed in hot liquid. It lasted only a minute or so before he switched back to his regular tone, but for me it had the shock of the new—whoa, what was that?—and it was just a hint of things to come. The real guitar fireworks started a couple of songs later.

“Scarlet Begonias,” probably my favorite of the band’s recent songs (it was two years old at that point) had everyone in the place happily dancing and singing along, but the instrumental coda, which opened with Donna’s soft moans and cries as usual, didn’t expand and spread out this time; instead, it moved quite deliberately into a catchy new groove that sounded familiar, but I couldn’t quite. (It was from “Happiness Is Drumming” off the Diga Rhythm Band album, which I’d worn out on my turntable over the previous year.)

It turned out this was a new song, debuted that night, “Fire on the Mountain,” and it introduced another novel guitar tone—courtesy of Jerry’s envelope filter, which gave every note a wonderful thwacking wah. What a song! It had the fattest groove of any Dead song since “St. Stephen,” and that chorus, with Bob and Donna helping out, jumped in my head and has stayed there for the past 35 years. And when the final jam after the last chorus made a quick descent and dropped back into the original opening riff of “Scarlet,” my head snapped back in amazement—whaaaaa?—as if some master magician had just made a tiger disappear in front of my eyes. How did they do that?

A few songs into Set Two, Jerry was back with the magical envelope wah for my first version of “Estimated Prophet” (which I called “California” before David Gans educated me about the correct title a few days later). I was a huge fan of reggae in this era—The Harder They Come soundtrack, Bob Marley, Burning Spear, Toots & the Maytals—so I was thrilled that Bob and the band had put a characteristically weird and dark spin on the genre.

Then came “Terrapin,” rising quietly at first, glistening rhythm guitar accents from Bob, as Jerry began the tale. That first time through I couldn’t quite piece together details of the story—the girl, the sailor, the soldier, the lion’s den. But it felt timeless, maybe even from another dimension, an invitation to go on a mysterious journey. The notes in Jerry’s first solo were like molten gold. The song moved through different sections, its rhythm changing a couple of times along the way, until it arrived at a point where all of us—5,000-strong—were shouting “TERRAPIN!” along with Bob and Donna, because we knew we had to, and the band kicked into this enormous instrumental bombardment of guitars and piano and drums rising and falling in unison and harmony and contrapuntal lines; the most magnificent and majestic bombast I’d ever heard.

Once that jam had dwindled to its natural conclusion, the group went into a hypnotic jam that sounded Spanish or Arabic—this was the only time the Dead ever played the “At a Siding” section of the “Terrapin Station” suite (the album came out in late July ’77), but without Garcia’s vocal part (“While you were gone…”) attached. (I had to wait for Furthur to play the complete suite decades later to hear that great swooping entrance to “At a Siding” live again; it still gave me chills.)

July ’77. Say, is somethin’ funny goin’ on around here?

Following a short drum solo, it was back to terra firma for a long, slow but simmering version of “Not Fade Away,” which, incredibly enough, contained the most mind-blowing musical passage of a night filled with them. At 11:00 into the song, Jerry flips on what sounds like a combination of an octave divider and a flanger and launches into this rotating figure against the beat that builds slowly and then gets faster and wilder until it’s spinning completely out of control and he’s “fanning” high and fast. It hits a peak and just stays there for a few bars and then he really cuts loose on the chaotic descent. I’ve heard it hundreds of times since and it never fails to leave me breathless; it’s still astonishing.

At the time I was so stunned by that short jam I think I was still recovering during the “St. Stephen” that followed and didn’t even notice they skipped a verse and the middle jam of that song! “Uncle John’s Band” was the encore that sent us home. Sweet ecstasy! It was one of those totally transcendent and transformative nights the Grateful Dead occasionally provided (when I least expected it) that made me feel completely alive and alert and in tune with everything in the universe. (It sounds goofy, but you know what I mean.)

Within a week or two, Gans had tracked down an excellent audience recording of the show and I played it endlessly, reliving the night each time. As time went on and more tapes and more shows competed for my attention, I listened to the show less, but the glow never left me.

In preparation for writing this, I listened to good ol’ 3/18/77 from beginning to end for the first time in a few years and I was frankly surprised by its flaws—the lyric lapses in “Uncle John’s” and “Fire on the Mountain” (which is still raw and formative), the sloppiness of what I remembered being a perfect transition going from “Fire” back to the “Scarlet” intro, that missing chunk of “St. Stephen,” etc. By the time the band hit the road the following month for the fabled May ’77 tour, they’d worked out the kinks in “Fire” and tightened up their sound in general. But everything that excited me that night is still etched in my imperfect memory and washes over me again whenever I hear the show.

I went to Winterland the following night, too, and though I’m sure I had a good time, here’s what I actually remember of the 3/19 show: nothing. And you know what? All in all, it’s probably even a better show (the tapes told me years after the fact). But 3/18 was my show, and it always will be.

Is there a show that stands out in your mind as The One?

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I’ve been asked many times through the years about “the best” Grateful Dead show I ever attended. With 365 concerts spanning 1970 to 1995 to choose from, that’s an extremely difficult choice. “Best” in what way? Some supposedly objective evaluation of the music? Good luck with that. “Favorite”? Even that is completely loaded. I’ve had unimaginable fun at shows that I know were not that spectacular, and I’ve had so-so times at shows that were revealed later to be magnificent. It’s the setting, your mood, who you’re with, who’s around you, your ability at that show and on those songs to tune in to the band and the vibe in the venue, and so on.

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So glad you mentioned 3/18/77. I wasn't there (attended the 20th) but the audience tape of Not Fade Away never fails to astound. Almost like a saber dance or something. Leaves you breathless.The One for me would be 9/26/80 at the Warfield Theater. I took my wife and step-daughter (13) and had seats in the top row in the balcony which was actually OK. A door or window would allow in an occasional cooling breeze. It was the first time seeing them acoustic which was a real treat. The "Odis" Ripple! I think he first came out during China Doll and wandered around the stage with his little bandana on. When he returned he took center stage and just looked over the audience, mellow as could be. Amazing. I was delighted it was included in "Reckoning". The only other part of the show that really sticks is the opening of the 1st electric set. After " Feel Like A Stranger" and "Sugaree" my step-kid says "now I know why you like the Grateful Dead so much". Triumph. A close second would be my second show, 11/6/71 at the Harding Theater. Two dollar admission, funky old theater, all the new songs, daring to park my car on Divisadero. Those were the days.
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....this I'm listening to The GD Hour posted this week. A show focusing on audience tapes. Its like Blair and David are jamming. I saw a small handful of 20 odd shows from 87 on.....my fave is still my first. Wonderland 87/06/30. Damn....how could it not be>
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Not seeing them until 1993, I sometimes felt the shows I saw could be some of the last stops aboard this train. It's a bittersweet feeling- so happy to see them, so sad to feel the twilight. This point was brought home sweetly with the Stella Blue in Richfield, in the Spring of 94. But it's really the So Many Roads from Soldier Field 95, when I felt this isn't a song- it's Jerry saying goodbye. A mixture of glory- triumph and overwhelming sadness enveloped me during the end- "Lord, I've been walking down the road." Sorry if it's a sad story, it is what it is. About 30 seconds after the song, someone behind me yelled- That was beautiful! I screamed at the top of my lungs- It sure fuckin' was! There's nothing like a Grateful Dead concert. Blair, and many are so lucky to have seen the youth. Gratefully, we have the tapes. p.s. I hope someday we read Blair's review of March at Winterland in the form of an essay that accompanies a Release of these shows. ---------------------------------------------------- It is impossible to say just what I mean! But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen: Would it have been worth while If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl, And turning toward the window, should say:   “That is not it at all,   That is not what I meant, at all.” -T.S. Eliot .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .
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This was an email I sent to David Lemieux a few weeks back: Hi Dave I would like to introduce you to one of the finest shows I had the pleasure of attending. The fall tour of 1984 was in many opinion one of the better tours of the early 80's with the stop in Augusta as the tapes to get. The show opener rivals the Stranger that was released on Without A Net. Roses is very well played and sweet but not too slow. The Last ever On The Road Again was a huge surprise for all. The next three songs are peppy and well played with no noticeable flubs. 1st set closer with The Music never stops really gets your heart ponding and your feet moving. 2cnd set opener with cold rain sets the tone with Jerry's vocals just sceaming with "Run,run me!" Lost sailor, Saint is played with that intense energy oozing style with Jerry and Brent driving and Bobby giving directions. Don't Need love gives you a breather in the middle of the set which you most likely need because the High energy classic goose bump style Grateful Dead music starts with Uncle Johns and flows into a end jam reminiscent of early 70's DarkStar followed by Jerry by himself out there refusing to give up the ghost when when Micky pulls out his hand drum and takes over with billy soon joining him for a very inspirational drums. Jerry & Bobby pick up where Jerry left off and Phil joins them for a mind melting space and leads in to a Playing reprise picked up from the night before and finishes Uncle Johns. In many of opinions the Morning Dew to end this show rivals Cornell and any other show that had the pleasure of a Morning Dew. Jerry is just giving his heart and sole with guitar and vocals that just sends dead bumps across your spirit. Good lovin sends you out the door with your bones a movin and your spirit a dancing. The main criticism that folks have with this show is Jerry's voice is not as pristine but this is part of what makes this stop on the fall tour so amazing Thank You for your time and consideration. John B Byerly On the bus for 33 shows & now taking a ride on Furthur 10/12/84 Augusta Civic Center - Augusta, ME Set 1: Feel Like A Stranger It Must Have Been The Roses On The Road Again Jack-A-Roe It's All Over Now Cumberland Blues The Music Never Stopped Set 2: Cold Rain And Snow Lost Sailor Saint Of Circumstance Don't Need Love Uncle John's Band Drums Playin' In The Band Uncle John's Band Morning Dew Encore: Good Lovin' ----------------------- 3/24/1986 has always stood out on memories as Jack Pegnam & I had the wall right in front of Jerry for the second of many Box A Rain they pull out of the archives that year. Also another barn burner Morning Dew with Brent pumping that organ making it sound like a freight train coming at you The Oakland 12/15/1986 - 12/17/1986 shows seeing Jerry back on the stage after his coma. Those are truly 3 special shows from start to finish Worcester, Ma 4/02/1987 where I finally saw my first & only Scarlet Fire which I may say stands up to any i have ever heard on the radio or tape. For no other reason take a listen to this Scarlet Fire. It absolutly Rocks from first note to last
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...I think that Augusta '84 show has been on MANY people's short list for many years. I'm not sure why it never quite makes the cut, unless the master is not considered good enough for a commercial release. I honestly don't know. I love the show, too, but was not there. The band had a really good track record in Maine...
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Well, I gotta tell you, I was there that night too Blair, and of the eight shows I saw in 1977, this was a killer for all the reasons you outlined. It's hard to put any of the eight above the other, though, including 3/18, 19 and 20 at Winterland, 5/17 in Birmingham, Bobby's birthday in Baton Rouge and 12/29, 30 and 31 back at Winterland. No wonder it's my favorite year of Grateful Dead music.
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My all time favorite show was always the next one I was going to. The last one I went to was usually a close second...
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The memories of that evening:I remember vividly saying to myself at one point that night "I want to see where this takes me" and I have tried to keep on that path for these many years. I remember being with my dear friend, Michael Spanner, who passed away in 1998. It was, and is, so much more than I can describe. I feel so fortunate to have been part of this for so many years. It is a wonderful bond that we share.
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having never seen jerry I have always tried to put the “ratdog,” “the other ones,” “phil&friends,” “the dead,” and “furthur” shows in the perspective of something that I was privileged to be taking part in/bearing witness to, as it was a continuation of a party that had been going on for a long time before I ever stepped foot in the door, and was something that was beloved by so many people. The music has always been the most important angle of it all, though I suppose I may not be as harsh towards the post-jerry bands as the old-school deadheads seem to get, because it was the energy that hooked me. I suppose “my show” would have to be the second dead related show I saw, “the other ones” at Nassau Coliseum in the summer of ’98, their first tour under that name, without Billy, but with Bruce Hornsby I believe. Being a resident of Nassau County, a newbie lover of the music, and having just finished my freshmen year of college, where the excitement for these shows had grown palpable amongst us post-jerry heads, I was nothing short of psyched for the show. I attended with my two friends, rich, a friend from college, and nick, a friend from forever. Nick and I remain the biggest deadheads out of our group of friends, and we both still credit this particular show. Truth be told, in this memory the music takes second place to the energy I remember feeling . It was all about the energy. From the moment I stepped out of our car into the Coliseum’s enormous parking lot, the festival atmosphere of the scene blew me away. The RV’s, the cars, the flags, the colors, the dogs, the people, the people, the people. So many people, flying kites, throwing Frisbees, skateboarding, grilling, eating, all with beers in their hands, walking around watching each other people watch, and more than half the place had something for sale or trade, and 100% of the place was in the market for sale and trade. Where the hell was I, and goddamn it, why had nobody told me of this before? There I stood, a nineteen year old truth seeking soul searcher, a student of dr. hoffman’s problem child, tossed into a cauldron of chaos I had only before dared to dream of…was it possible this scene was actually as cool as promised? I ventured forth and found out that it was. Never before had I been offered such an array of mind-altering substances by every person I had met…”hey bro, you need some beads, pins or stickers? Shrooms, doses, molly, ecstacy, hash, headies?” all in one breath, was the most common sentence I heard that night…I felt like a kid in some kind of store. Even though I was a newbie, I had practiced tried and true advice that night, and brought my own stuff from home, some real fun guys, and enough thc to sedate Godzilla. Though it was still nice to have the offers; they made me feel like I was at home with good people. Drug offerings from friendly dreadies aside, the vibe of the scene was one of excitement, and genuine happiness; there was a vibration of life I had never felt before going on. As always, it only grew as show time came near. By the time we entered the Coliseum, the fun guys I had brought along to hang out were really making their presence felt, bringing the noises and colors and energy of all the happy people to a new height…as I walked through the crowd, somebody slapped my chest, an older dude with a greying beard and glasses in a baseball cap had put a sticker on me – the statue of liberty with a rosemary face, torch lit, with the words “you know our love will not fade away” on it…I smiled and kept the sticker where it lay…had to stop for friends needed a bathroom break, not me though, “I’ll just wait right here for you guys...” funny thing about waiting when you have no concept of time is the fact that it all seems to take so long…long enough for me to gaze upon a multi-generational scene of deadheads – grandma, mom, and little toddler, all decked out in tie-dye. Long enough to realize I was standing next to what (at the time) was a state of the art computer that offered a grateful dead trivia game to play that a group of people my parent’s age were standing around and playing with…each time this lady answered a question correctly the computer screen spun into a psychedelic swirl as “sugar magnolia” would start to play, and the whole group danced while the lady shouted joyously that “THE GRATEFUL DEAD LIVES BABY, THE GRATEFUL DEAD LIVES!!!!” I had never seen people so happy; it lifted my spirit to as of yet unseen peaks. When we got to our seats, there was a dude in the row in front of us that had the majority of the row to himself, and he was shuffling wildly back and forth with his hands on his head. He turned to us, red faced, and out of breath…I think he had been crying. He noticed us and asked us if we had ever seen the grateful dead, and only my friend rich had been so lucky – highgate, vt, 1994, he acknowledged the show, and told us we were in for a treat. I had never before or since seen a grown man all alone and unashamed that he was so happy he was practically in tears Then, after all this, the band came out and killed it that night…the Tennessee Jed about three songs in took it all to the next level….there was a playin’-> a reggae UJB…the drums blew my mind, and they closed with throwin’ stones->N.F.A. coupled with a crowd chant of “you know our love will not fade way,” into a touch of grey and box of rain encore… There you have it folks, the night that solidified it all for me. Sorry if it’s a long, oft-told tale, but hey, it happened to me three years after jerry passed, and countless post-jerry fans both before then and since… the magic of the music and the energy of the scene lives p.s. in april 2009, I went to see the dead at nassau coliseum, and while hanging out with similar fun guys as years past and walking around inside before the show started, I felt someone slap my chest. It looked to be an older guy, with glasses, a baseball cap, and a grey beard who did it…the sticker was of the statue of liberty with a rosemary face, a torch lit, and the words “you know our love will not fade away” on it…I am convinced it was the same guy 11 years later… p.p.s. – listening wise my show is 9/21/72 p.p.p.s. – god bless the grateful goddamn dead
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Folsom field's 3 set spectacle in Boulder on 9/3/72 was everlastingly memorable for the music as well as for the changing weather conditions. That cool Colorado rain took away some of the sunny sizzle. The free baggies of pot, each with matches and rolling papers included, tossed out to the crowd from the stage put many of the patrons in a fun-loving mood, too. Thanks to friends Jeff Z and Pete Sutton (R.I.P.) for bringing me to the concert, and to the Rainbow family for their kind gesture! Almost 2 years later in Louisvile, KY the Grateful Dead set up the Wall of Sound in Freedom Hall on 6/18/74. We arrived early, so leaning on the stage in front of a beardless Jerry, stage right, was quite effortless. Friend Pete D and I were blown away by the 1st set Eyes of the World > China Doll, and again in the 2nd set with Weather Report Suite into the Other One, then the It's a Sin jam, with a soothing slip into Stella Blue. I always enjoyed Donna's stage presence: great eye candy! A monster Morning Dew chased us out the door and on our way back to Oxford OH.
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Ok, I will surprise those who a familiar with my posts. I attended many shows that have "stood the test of time." But the show for me, for a variety of reasons, is actually a show I saw quite late in my show-going years, the first show at Saratoga in '83. Why? Well first, as others have mentioned, the setting, a beautiful park-like site, with a well designed ampithertre and lots of room to move, picnic, hang, meet new and old friends etc. I recall trying to figure out how to get my taping gear in (Nak 550 with all the trimmings!). Well, I wrapped it in many garbage bags, and placed it at the bottom of a large cooler surrounded by our copious, and gourmet, picnic. The guards were checking cooler's (they actually allowed them in!) for bottles etc. When they asked what was in the plastic I said "a cassarole," and they said, "ok, enjoy!" There was a GREAT athmosphere in the venue, lots of old heads who had given up touring decided to show up to this show because of the venue, and so lots of friendly faced one had not seen for a while, and an "old-school" vibe. The show itself was very stron g for the era, but, in particular, WAY stronger than shows for awhile, which is what I think was the shock. The band was INTO IT. Phil was more active than I had heard for a long time, and his sound, in the hall itself was MASSIVE. It was like one was momentarily transported back to an earlier dead-era, and for a brief hour our so we believed we had. When Jerry hit the opening notes of the Dew, and Phil responsed with a totally earth-shaking chord every atom of my body vibrated and I was transported to that "special Dead place,: that I had not entered at a live show for quite awhile. Was this "the best" show I ever saw, no, is it seared in my memory yup. (Oh, another thing, we were so "high" after the show for a number of reasons (!) that it took us until morning to find our car in one of the many distant, and park-like parking lots.....)
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This is obviously very subjective since no one else ever mentions this show. From the Flying Karamazovs, NRPS, tolerating Joan Baez, and finally a good first set. Kesey ringing in the new year, and during Not Fade Away Jerry stepped forward and basically took over the night. He led the charge through an incredible Morning Dew and then opened the third set with Dark Star! I still get a kick out of this show when I hear it, but it must be this great to me only because of my personal experience at that show. As I said, I never hear this one mentioned by anyone when talking about great shows.
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it's actually not that hard of a choice: RCMH 10/31/80. There was only one night of this run (the second night) that I didn't head over to the venue since I was living in NYC at the time, and managed to score tickets on the street to several of them. That last night really was the capper, though. Fourth row, first balcony dead center. Waiting in line to go in, an intrepid soul came walking along the line with a Murine bottle offering drops for a dollar and drawing many takers, me included. By the time I actually got in that carpeting in the lobby was already much more interesting that usual, and so many people in the wildest costumes. My personal favorite was the Your Own Personal Jerry Garcia Windup Doll guy, complete with a giant key coming out of his back and an actual Stratocaster hanging off him. Not to mention a dead-ringer look-alike. Thing were only going to get better from there! The comedy bits with Franken and Davis were hysterical (did they ever find the rest of the blue barrels?) especially the uniformity of opinion that Phil is The Nicest Guy In The Band, and the touching introduction New Guy Brent (who was still in his Greg Allman Lookalike phase) gave to "Frank and Dave." The acoustic set was a real treat despite the minor tech issue Phil had, and features one of my favorite Bird Songs. During the set break a charming woman two rows in front of me turned around and loudly proclaimed, "Free Acid!" and she and a couple of her friends started handing out blotters to every outstretched hand of which there were many. Time to double down, although I was already in a pretty good space! The rest of the show had sort of a quirky set list (MAMU>Mexicali second set, standalone Franklin's and Fire third set) but my strongest memory is totally peaking during what I remember as a transcendent Stella. That exact moment is definitely my show-attending zenith. It was never better, and would never again be as good as that 9-10 minutes. At least for me. But that was the question here, wasn't it? I'm just happy that this show is available on video and so many have also had the chance to relive it. What is kind of odd is that this was the last show I attended for many, many years. It wasn't a conscious decision, it was just the way it worked out. My life was transitioning at the time, and I ended up on a different path to other places for a while. Perhaps subconsciously I slipped into the "leave on a high note" bucket. I'm sure the assassination of John Lennon five weeks later didn't help. Don't ask me how the two things might be connected, because I honestly can't say, but there it is. It's a possible correlation that really only occurred to me just now. A close second favorite GD experience would be my first show, 5/28/77, although 5/11/78 (the "Mescaline" show) is right up there as well, with that scary-good, deeply funky Dancin' jam, among other highlights. As for post-GD, again a no-brainer: Gelston Castle, Mohawk, NY 7/3/10. This was a complete surprise Miracle (including round trip transportation!) from my dear friend Dom who I will never be able to fully repay for showing me kindness at a point in my life where good news of any kind was in extremely short supply. We got to the venue good and early and were able to take part in some highly spirited lot jamming with many other very talented musicians. A random fellow reveler who hung out and listened to all of us for a while offered up that he thought I sang Jerry songs better than Bob, a compliment I'm quite certain I don't actually deserve. But man, we all were cranking that day and it was a ton of fun. And then there was still the show!!! Lots of oldies but goodies there. Cream Puff War, are you kidding me!?!?! Yee-hah!!! John with a sneaky little tease of Donovan's First There Is A Mountain, the premiere of Seven Hills Of Gold, a Dark Star>full boat Terrapin>Stella>UJB as the meat in a Sugar/Sunshine sandwich, the way they used the pastel lights to make the trees around the perimeter look like giant gumdrops, it just never stopped being great. Well, except maybe for the army of gas passers ambushing everyone as they left. You can keep the N2O, thanks, none for me. I usually just hiss back at 'em. Anyhoo, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.
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Memory is funny stuff. I've heard it said that when we remember something, we do not recall the thing itself, but rather, we recollect our last memory of the thing. That said, I don't recall much of my first GD show at the Uptown Theater in Chicago on 11-16-78. I had just turned 18 years old and didn't know much about the band, but had been invited to attend the show with a couple of people that I knew from my job at the time, so I decided to check it out. I bought my ticket at Ticketron the day of the show, a seat in the last row of the balcony, and that's pretty much where I spent the entire night. I only recognized a couple of the tunes they played that night; they opened with Minglewood, which I knew from the What a Long Strange Trip It's Been compilation album, and then opened the second set with Dancing In The Street, which little resembled the original, but it was Truckin', which they closed the second set with, that made the greatest impression on me. Of course, I knew this tune from the radio, but what the boys did to it that night in Chicago is something I still can't quite explain. As far as I can tell, there's only one audience tape of this show in circulation, but it's not a great recording, and the crowd that night was really rowdy. At about 6:10 into the one recording I've found, right after the last verse, and following the big build-up and release, Garcia spends the next 4 minutes or so slashing at his guitar ala Pete Townshend. After that night, I came to see quite a few shows over the next 17 years, but I don't think I ever again heard playing as off-the-hook as the jam out of Truckin' they played that night in Chicago. I'll add that I was pretty much sober that night, but still, memory's a funny thing, so it's good to have evidence to back up these claims of witnessed brilliance: Uptown Theater, Chicago 11-16-78 Truckin'
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The one show that edges out others that I saw from 7-8-70 (amazed & dazzled but a kid who wasn't on the Bus yet) on was not a Dead show, but the Legion Of Mary @ Kiel Opera House in St. Louis in December of 1974 with Merle & Martin Fierro. All of the elements David mentioned, the venue, the crowd energy & my friends all around, my peculiar state of mind; all combined to make this a real trip to the stars for me. It was magnificent from start to finish, opening new spaces that I'd never been before. Too great to truly describe; as the saying goes, If you were there no explanation is necessary, if you weren't, none is possible. The Fox Theatre shows in October 1972, especially that Thursday, the last night of the run, were also played by the band beyond description with all elements being perfect. And of course, the Alpine 1989 shows, particularly 7-19, stand tall in my experience of latter day Dead. And a last, glowing memory was taking my 9 & 11 year old daughters on a road trip to Pine Knob in June of 1991. Thanks for the space to trot out some wonderful experiences... Peace, Steve
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3/19/77 - I have never left a show more exhausted in mife - They did Terrapin at the end of the firsts et(!) and then just torched the second set - never have I heard so many ppower chords! and then Bobby's "Thank you for that kind applause - and here's something in honor of the occasion" Saturday Night - OMG!Also 10/18/74, the (almost) last Saturday night at Winterland - melted, melted, melted
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... just so you're not feelin' too alone, that 12/31/81 show you mentioned is one of my all-time faves that i attended, too. And definitely the best New Year's show I ever saw... The "Terrapin," the "Dew", the "Dark Star" > "Bertha," Kesey hanging on the high wire (we were right under him!)... Even Joan Baez doing the chicken dance during "Baby Blue".... just a glorious night!
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is sure on my short list too. When I had James Olness make me a tape, which is still around here somewhere, I had him start it with the Banks of the Ohio from the Joan set, since by then she had pretty much worn out her welcome with a lot of the other material alas, but that one song was stellar. My all-time fave, however, is one that generally gets no love whatever, 5-21-82 at the Greek. A short Friday night show whose main claim to fame was arguably the reappearance of UJB, and I freely admit I always preferred the dynamic of the Friday night shows, but there is something about this one. Jerry is just in great form. Or at least in the form I like. Not that I am complaining about, say, 9/11/81 at the Greek, which was pretty epic, but completely different. It was my second show and my perspective was pretty different, though it certainly stands the test of time.
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7/13/84 7/13/84
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Yep -- Saratoga Performing Arts Center -- June, 1983. My first venture out of "hometown" arena shows -- beautiful, beautiful venue w/in a state park in upstate NY -- many of you know it -- my favorite east coast venue by a long shot Great big Pine trees, gardens, brick "garden/gallery buildings, streams. First the fellas played there -- I was a "newbie" discovery the wonders of being on the "bus" at the ripe age of 16 -- first set in the sun (show was I believe 6/23 -- right around the solstice); second set under the stars w/ the exception of the passing sprinkling shower complete w/ thunder & lightening during space>Wheel (how freakin synchronistic was that!) -- second set pre-drums spacier than spacey can get (Scarlet>Fire Playin'> spacey jam for seemingly 1/2 hour-45 minutes qent way the f*ck OUT there) > D/S > Wheel > Playin' Reprise > (MONSTER) Dew (Jerry screaming the lyrics) > Throwing Stones > NFA > Touch of Grey // (Double encore): Don't Ease>Sat Nite (or was it Baby Blue?) -- all from memory (29 years ago, no-less! -- not bad). Listen back on the music/musicianship -- shabby here and there, soaring in other places -- Throwing Stones, Touch of grey, Hell a Bucket all relatively new tunes -- but the more important part -- the energy was palpable -- the place, the vibe, the time of year, the thunder & lightening during Space>Wheel -- the DEW (my first). Never gonna forget it -- goin to m' grave w/a smile because of this show (and many others, past and future). Yep, I'd like to take that ride justa one mo' time . . .
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is a favorite of mine as well...i do the gong bong along with kesey most times i listen to it and boy can that make things strange in a hurry. the playin' in the band jam gets out there, the terrapin in beautiful, the lead into the other one from space is great, and the morning dew is one of my favorites. The third set is a great way to close out the night...happy new years to all indeed
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Blair, for you to remember 1 or 2 shows after seeing 365 is just incredible, I would love to pick your brain about some of those shows, I mean, you saw the dead and the who in 76, and those 70 shows and those warfield shows, I am green with envy. While your were doing that, I was into Led Zep and Ten years after and pink floyd and Moody blues, in fact all of it but the dead, then, one day, I was introduced to the dead the right way, by old time travelers like you who had seen them lots, it was 1980 April and a road trip up to Atlanta to the Fab Fox theatre, to see the boys, what a nite, etched there forever in the "good stuff" part of your brain. Your see, Jerry smiled at us that nite, just after space, it was like mescalito winking at ya, you never believed it would happen, you had heard of it, but never really believed it was real, then, bam, it happens and you are changed forever. I wish I had seen the boys more, but everytime, it was bliss. I would give alot for just one of those nites again.
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For me, "THE" show that stands out in my mind as being the greatest one I've ever attended, as far as musical performance and personal enjoyment goes, was by far, MSG 9/14/91. It was the Saturday night show of the nine night run at MSG that year, so that lends itself to this choice, as Saturday is absolutely my favorite day of the week. Also, it was the hottest show of those nine nights. Yes folks, better performance-wise than 9/10/91 when Branford blew all night and they played Help>Slipknot>Franklin's>Estimated>Dark Star, and hotter than any of the Boston Garden Shows that followed. There, I said it. I attended the show with my beautiful wife to be, the lovely Deborah, and my best friend, Coz (also known as The Cozzer.) Now, I know that historically Fridays and Saturdays are usually not the best nights of a run as The Dead usually saved the special stuff for the nights that mostly only the faithful would attend (week nights.) This night was no exception to that rule save for the fact that, simply put, the band was on fire. The setlist was nothing special, but the performance was the finest I've ever seen. First off, there are no flubs musically or vocally to speak of, save for one note that Jerry plays at the 1:04 mark of Jack Straw, but after that, this show is sheer perfection. I'm sure Jerry was fueled by Hornsby sitting in on keys, thereby fueling the rest of the band. It was so obvious, too. They knew it and we knew it. All of them were smiling on stage, and many, many times Jerry did that gentle rocking motion that he did when the Dead were cooking up something special. This night also had the distinction of the one and only appearance of "The Happiest Man Alive." Though we did not speak a word to him, he was given that moniker by his body language. The Happiest Man Alive was in the row directly in front of us, which for some reason, he shared with no one. For the entire duration of the show, THMA chugged the entire length of his row back and forth all the while smoking joints of incredibly kind bud and passing them back to us. All night. Kind bud. Not a single spoken word passed between him and my group of three. Could you ask for more? Every song was performed with precision. The vocals were (for The Dead) spot on. Each song was a treat this night: Let the Good Times Roll gets things started with Bruce, Bob, and Jerry respectively singing their verses with great enthusiasm over Hornsby's driving piano. Jack Straw reaches dizzying heights during the second solo section. Friend of the Devil features nice solo passages from Vince, then Hornsby on accordian, then Bob, and then 'Ol Jer. Jack-A-Roe is succinct and very tight. Rooster rocks, even Desolation Row (not one of my faves) is vastly entertaining. The first set highlight however, is the gargantuan, epic version of Tennessee Jed. Always one of my favorites, this night's perfect rendering features Jerry slamming down on a C chord as Hornsby finishes a short descending run, that the entire Garden felt, to start the second pass of the solo section. They then build up a monstrous head of steam that leads into the head guitar lick that starts the outro chorus. Certainly, the best Jed I have ever seen (it's not even close) and one of the best I've ever heard. A frenzied version of Promised Land closes out the first set. The final jam section after the last verse is just shy of two minutes long, and is an absolute carnival of sound. The flawless second set has a six song pre drumz sequence. It starts off with a fantastic China/Rider. Again the band is firing on all cylinders, and freakin' Jerry is all over it. Jerry is all over everything this night. Next, the band slows things down with a note perfect reading of Ship of Fools which leads into a very nice three song sequence in the key of E: Truckin'->Spoonful->He's Gone. Now bear in mind while the Dead have been playing this incredibly well executed music, Coz, Deb, and I have been dancing our asses off, having a blast, and getting completely fired up courtesy of The Happiest Man Alive who, after wordlessly disappearing at the end the first set (we thought he would never come back), silently slipped into his seat in his solitary section (can anyone say alliteration?) and picked up right where he left off. Joints included. Ah, but I digress, the three song medley in E is wonderfully played. Inspired jamming, great crescendos, no throw aways, no missed cues, really strong vocals, Bruce spurning Jerry on, and Jerry spurning the rest of the band on. It was such a sight to hear (wait, that makes no sense.) Oh well, anyway during Drumz/Space the three of us caught our breath and sat, but not THMA. He just chugged on and on, back and forth pausing only momentarily to fish yet another bone out of his pocket to share with us. Post Drumz, the boys picked up right where they left off. A rippin' Watchtower got things started that led into the most well played version of China Doll I have ever seen. The show proper ended with an over the top version of Saturday Night. Then the Dead played, quite nicely, my second favorite encore: The Weight (Quinn the Eskimo is #1.) Again, and I cannot state this emphatically enough; the band was perfectly right on. Just simply smokin'. The best I have ever seen them. As we walked out, blitzed out of our minds, I knew I had seen something special. Over the years I have listened to this show many, many times and the proof is in the pudding. It sounds on tape/CD/mp3 just as hot as the night I saw it live. If you have the means, check this show out. You will not be disappointed, I promise you.
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For me, it was two shows. Oxford 1988. I was 16 years old and my father took me, my sister and my friend up to Maine for a weekend of really good Grateful Dead/Little Feat music. I was not old enough to see The Boys in thier prime, so this was the closest it would ever get for me. The scene was AWESOME!! These were my 3rd & 4th shows, and to have Little Feat reunited open up for them was exactly what put me on the bus forever. I can still see the glider up in the air during Bird Song. I am pretty sure that it cut the 1st set a little short. Phil dropped a bunch of bombs over the weekend, and the band was having a lot of fun with the crowd("We want Phil"). I have seen other pretty good shows(relatively speaking) after this, but this definately got me hooked. It's too bad that the scene declined very quickly after this, but at least I was able to experience the magic of what so many other people had known for 20 something years already.
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I'm with you, Blair--that entire stand at Winterland remains memorable for many reasons--great stories of sneaking in, scoring, etc.--but 3/18 transcends all other shows for me. Nice description of the amazing first set, especially. I had the tapes within days (from Don Wolf, as I recall) and 3/18 became the official late-nite soundtrack in my dorm for a time. I've always thought that run would make a good box set.
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Typo--all dates in last post should read 3/18/77.
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This one's pretty easy. Merrriweather Post Pavillion 6/20/83. I was 18, a beautiful venue, my first show (not counting 9/15/82- nevermind, a long story), the parking lot scene-discovering there were other people who loved the Dead as much as I, getting to the lawn a little late but in time for one of the most beautiful songs I'd never heard before "Peggy-O", Tennessee Jed, where I felt I wasn't so much dancing as my muscles were quivering along with the musician's instruments. The epic second set. It's a huge understatement saying the second set thunderstorm was the most apocalyptic storm I've ever been in. It was a warm, warm rain, more like a warm shower. Crazy people on the lawn writhing and squirming to the music covered with mud. The young man who kept, several times, grabbing my wrist and screaming "this is the end of the world man!". Crazy people slippering and sliding all over the muddy lawn.Yes, lighting struck the pavilion and the power dropped out during "Wharf Rat" - Phil responded with the most incredible bass bombs ever. Oh yeah- the music!- Really, I saw 27 shows but nothing was like this one- every single note by every band member totally inspired! If ya don't believe me, read the other comments on this site about this show! I'm not alone!If I didn't see that show - I'd pick Hampton 4/14/84. I have an indelible memory of that show- seated, waiting for the first set, looking around us and seeing the most ego-clobbered gentle people ever- Willie Nelsons "Always on My Mind" playing through the hall. Fantastic show, the jamming more like 74 than 84! And if I could choose a non-concert? I have a vivid memory of really flipping out on my first Europe 72 Dark Star. Near the end of a 3 day cross country Amtrak train ride to Reno, NV, circa 1986 . Early morning hours on the California Zephyr, pitch black, crossing the Utah-NV desert, I seemed to be the only one awake on the train. Listening to the 5/4/72 Dark Star on my Walkman and just flipping out! Incredible. I'll always have a soft spot for that Dark Star!
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John B. Byerly, where, oh where, is the soundboard of 3/24/86? That Dew is apocalyptic. The best one I ever saw, far and away. That lick that Jerry does before he "fans" at the end of Morning Dew is one of a kind.
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No, not sex. That was horribly awkward.And no, not that first line of coke, as wonderful as that is. Attending my first Dead show, of course. July 1970, Fillmore East, NYC. It was like seeing the face of God. And a True Believer was born. P.S. - It didn't hurt that my first Dead show was at the greatest rock palace ever - rather than some bland college - complete with mind blowing light show and opening act NRPS. I was truly fortunate.
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"I’ve had unimaginable fun at shows that I know were not that spectacular, and I’ve had so-so times at shows that were revealed later to be magnificent. It’s the setting, your mood, who you’re with, who’s around you, your ability at that show and on those songs to tune in to the band and the vibe in the venue, and so on." It's all way too subjective but still you have your rave/fav Mine was the one put me on the hook for good: Oakland Aud. Arena, 8/5/79 Brent was still new and learning but Jerry was teaching. When Jerry teaches it's like a guru giving darshan. It doesn't have to do with the music, it has to do with the energy. He (and the boys) had TOTAL control of the energy and were just playing with it all night long and having a ball. This was evidenced by the double encore: Bertha>Good Lovin' and then, as about half the crowd had already left, they come back out and ripped Johnny B. Goode. I listen to the recording these days and it's good. But it's not good in the way that I remember it. For all of the reasons stated in the first paragraph here.
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"...Really good track record in Maine..." Absolutely! Seems that when a show is in your own backyard, it makes it all the sweeter. Especially when the band brings it! 9/17/1982: I went back to my AUD Master ( Nak CM300 Mics>Sony TCD5M) lastnight. Man o man! Rather than a Play by Play from me, Check it on Archive.org> I humbly recommend the Jim Wise AUD. Pay close attention to the sequence Space>Spanish Jam>OtherOne>Goin'Down The Road Feeling Bad>Morning Dew. You -can't -stop- running -water- forward -motion kinda deal. I recall the big lean-in as it gets quiet just before Dew. Okay okay, no Play by Play. Hey Gprof: Right on with Saratoga '83. No suprise here. I attended but did not record. Fantastic! Cheers, shwack in nh
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on 9-3-77 and ended on 6-18- 95. The days between were some of the finest ever seen. Have been quite fortunate to catch some incredible shows. As for my favorite, never could reach it. Just slips away. But i'll try. Oh, and we never discuss the hallways at dead shows. You know early first set, Jerry rippin Mexicali a new one and those lovely dancers breezing by. Melts in to a dream.
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golfinhead those are two really excellent shows. The biggest memories I have surrounding those two nights was that has nothing to do with the actual show (1) the lack of shade in the camp grounds. Watched two of my friends get passed over the wall during the first set as my friend and I hug the wall and we had a great security guard handing bottles of his own water to us to keep us alive. (2) Oxford, Me. had just experience some sort of heavy metal concert and were afraid of the deadheads and had hired security guards to guard their houses and stores. One gas station had a big sign saying "No dead heads allowed" (3) the lack of water and bathroom facilities which they rectified part way through the second day with cheers when everyone saw a water tanker truck and a porta-pottie truck come in.
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April 4th 1972 was my birthday,as a 22 years old army drafter from Spain, exiled in England.I bet the luckiest spaniard that has ever existed,as I and my two english friends.Drop the acid half way from Bath to London to see our beloved Grateful Dead,for the April the 7th concert.Next day,still in such state of euphoria hitched back to the other concert and back again to the hospital I was working.Life wouldn't be the same again.As the acid was at the peak,the band had move unto The Other One drum solo and just know I flew right across the front of the stage where still feel as I'm still there,evolving with Garcia's brilliant smile and what would never hear again as loud,as the crystal clear sound the band was cascading as a giant waterfall falling of cymbals and wha wha beautiful notes...Later,I hitched alone to Bickershaw,given a ride with a Rolls Royce right up to the main entrance to the festival.Though it was England,I've never seen as much rain as it fall during the most extraordinary of the festivals The Dead with PigPen,Beefheart,etc.and NRPS would simply open the skies wide across...At Glastombury we sincerely thought the pyramid would levitate and that The Dead would be present...I would not miss any of the Lyceum shows and bless to the two road crew,incredible kindred people, walking about with the laughing gass.I'm still sadden I never saw Pig again after.In the summer went down to see Dali and though he was very receptive to Anthem of the Sun's cover,I did show him.I'm still perplexed about his opposition to acid as it was obious he did not need it to spoilt his own sort of madness, but after would ask,in different occasions about the music I was into in England.Two things I now wonder.How do you all keep up 'cos I can't,so I can't afford to compare the magick that I experienced,futher after that tour I couldn't find again in any other form come close.
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Chicago International Amphitheater, February 19, 1973. We drove up from Purdue for this Monday night show with the New Riders. The New Riders were good, the first set of the Dead was OK. I said, Monday night isn't the best for concerts. Then the second set started. They wore the Nudie suits. I had the worst seat in the house way back in a corner. Then the brain dissection began, each cell ripped apart and spread to the farthest reaches of the universe, where you were on your own, then they brought it all back together, then they did it again, and again. Phils bass went on a jam until time stopped. Legendary, how could they do this? I saw 100 shows including all the Red Rock shows. Nothing could ever match this night of interstellar travel.
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It almost seems like yesterday.Next day(April 8th) those images of quasi mythical worship had been right in front of my innocent eyes.Was this dream or reality?Their sound quality blasted waterfalls of honey dripping colours which made the cavernous Wembley look like thus it had been floating.My first ever trip of Owsley sunshine,if one thing,wasn't ever being felt as in fear to loose anything but dread at being born in such realistic a world.I had been to sleep,few hours.Back from London from the first ever encounter with The Dead as I went to work next morning,at the hospital,felt like would never again be back to normality.But at my heart knew,alone,as Howard and Andy would not come.I would be back soon to the M4 to hicht back to London.Couldn't miss them,what-so-ever.I had been taken to another dimension.I would had followed them to the end of the world.At the time one just could go and get a ticket.So as I entered wouldn't even bother about the seat,but,walked along towards the middle alley between the seats.Knowing nobody would seem annoyed.My dressing too 'seemed' in tune with that southern californian spanish musicality Garcia seemed so much of a genial perpetrator.Couldn't believe my ears at the sound of so much spanish tinged colourful melodies as I had been bleesed in the previous concert.As one listens to Weir singing...'wow,truckin' home...''it was him looking in excitement as being felt at home like.It was counted few of us that had dared to freak out to the front,out of the seats.And if something was special about such band of special new kind of artists,one had to be there with the reciprocal feedback Jerry was manifesting with his honest sweet happy smiling as his notes were driving the outmost far out musical adventure the universe has ever seen.It was more than certain there was some psychic communication among kindred spirits.All that spanish feel felt more known than casual,as being like mind reading.And though this wasn't the beginning as I discovered with their albums atmospheric experiments, their live contact was the openness as the acid had unveiled out from the darkness.Such Grateful Dead !
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Yes, Mr. Eleven, seeing the Dead at the Fillmore East was mystical and magical. My best show was 2/14/70 early, the show from that weekend that seems to get the least attention. Being sandwiched between those incredibly memorable late shows from 2/13 and 2/14 is why, but the early show was a little jewel. Cold Rain & Snow followed by the entire Live Dead suite. The Dark Star is only a bit shy of the holy grail that is 2/13, and The Eleven simply soars (my only time seeing it live!). Pig was his usual joy to behold during Lovelight. An amazing band at the peak of their powers that weekend!
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Quite so. For some years after the Ally Pally (London) shows in '74 I was convinced theyhad played both Unbroken Chain and Pride Of Cucamonga. :-)) Why the word verification when I have logged in? Very hard on old eyes.
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For the few dozen times when I could get up and stay real close (<= 20 feet) to see and hear a set, I can recall a good deal, no pun intended. Mostly it's Jerry's rounded tone and the three dimensional quality of the sound, but the visuals stay pretty well preserved. I managed to see quite a few small theatre shows, but I think the best and powerful memories are also equally arena, outdoor (Oxford!!) and shed. A true favorite memory comes from sitting on the hockey boards next to the stage in Springfield in January 1979. Next best was maybe standing next to a massive soap bubble blower at the Greek on 6/16/85, great idea for a sunny/foggy afternoon full of surprise.
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It's part of warding off evil spammers. Sorry for the trouble.
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September 19, 1970. My best.Close toss up, August 27 ,1972 I was the kid in the candy store at that one. December 29, 1977, Was checking back in first time in a few years, fantastic night. September 11, 1983, just down the road from Taos where I lived at the time. Those four Dead shows stand out. 9/19/70 big time.
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The show that I came out of and said, "I love this band! was June 9, 1977 at Winterland, although June 7, 1977 was the show where I left and had to go right back, but I had to work on June 8 and was able to buy a ticket at the door for June 9. I don't know what to say about June 9th except that it just blew me away to the point where I had to hear it again and again. At the time I worked at BASS Tickets with David Gans and I knew that he collected tapes (he had given me an excellent audience tape of The Last Waltz that I still have and love) and asked him for a copy of the 6/9/77 show...He came to work a few days later with a pretty terrible audience recording that was still good enough for me to listen to over and over again.Between then and 9/18/87 I had seen dozens of other shows some great some not so great, but that night at Madison Square Garden was electric and I was so excited to be able to leave the show with my own sound board master cassette that I listened to on the airplane ride back to the Oakland Airport (It was my father's 70th birthday and I had to fly home for it and then took the redeye back to NYC for the 20th!) From the airport I went to David Gans' house and dropped off the tapes and picked them up on the back to the airport...to this day that is one of my top two favorite tapes to listen to, and it still holds up completely. I have posted this before here and on The Well, but when I first started working for GD, Phil Lesh came up to me in the office kitchen and welcomed me to the organization, gave me his home phone number and told me that if there was anything I needed to just ask. I asked about getting tapes out of the vault and he told me, "as long as you don't go crazy, I can get you tapes." I told him I only wanted one tape and that was 6/9/77. A few weeks later there was a box in my cubby at the office with six cassette tapes and a note from Phil that said, "I couldn't remember which show you wanted so here are all three from that weekend." I had never heard anything like them before! All three sounded like the best sounding live concert LP's (Live/Dead!) I had ever heard. I immediately went over to David Gans house and let him copy them. To this day those three shows have a special place in my tape collection and needless to say I was overjoyed when the CD Boxed set was released! I have been told that the odds of 9/18/87 being released are slim because the audience to soundboard mix is a little off, although I can't hear it...Oh well, at least I have my tapes!
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Steve: Often seen with an icy, foamed beer in hand to start the Garden shows, THANKS! (for accomodating an occasional cadge request). Those '87 shows do hold up, lots of visceral energy and strong vocal performances. I remember an endless, powerful Desolation Row. MSG Dead: when you absolutely, positively, had to be there, every time.
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8 years 7 months
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Fairly certain 9/18/87 is one of the shows that flashed before the Dave's Picks logo. It goes to show you never can tell...
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10 years 8 months
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Off the hook from start to finish-never seen a crowd so amped and a band so lit up.
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8 years 10 months
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and I have to add my first show, 7/18/82. 6/14/69: listen to it NOW!
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11 years 4 months
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How about the Binghamton, NY show from 11/6/77 ? One of my all-time favorite cassette tapes: must be someone in Deadheadland to give us an eyewitness review.
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7 years 9 months
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First concert 12/07/68, Bellarmine College (now U), as a high school senior. What circulates is incomplete. Averaged 1 x yr thru' 80, missed 81-83, averaged 2-3 x yr thru 95. I'm in a minority, I suppose, but for me, it was always about the music, not "the scene." Either the band was on or off. 02/01/70 "Bread for the Dead" benefit following their bust (I was a freshman @ Tulane), and Freedom Hall 74 are just behind my inaugural performance for me personally. 84-95, I went hoping for some moments, had no expectations of mind-blowing concerts.
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    Dov
    6 years 5 months ago
    Carl Sagan
    nobody noticed the Carl Sagan reference? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAfbz6AvdK4 bless you Carl .... you were a true space cowboy! Dov
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    eliseu huertas cos
    6 years 6 months ago
    One from BICKERSHAW.
    It's amazing to think that forty years ago,this week,I was resetting from a 'space shuttle' like return back to Bath(England) from the Bickershaw festival.I'm convinced that the good scoring of west-country's Owsley sunshine would've had help preserve such great cinematic & colourful memory.I still feel holding intact.Which was long time kept as lovingly reserved.Thus from,none ever let it be known free,as if fom misunderstanding,long time.Two days after such fateful event.Chris was,as we were sharing the communal living at Cavendish Crecent in Bath,desinfecting my long hair from the flies I had caught from the murky muddy garbage which piled up during the weekend that serve as sleeping,without shelter or any other sort of,short brake from the insistent rain and absolute humidity.Often I thought as Woodstock being a picnic in comparison.After the Wembley gigs was determine to follow any other gig,no matter,what responsibility that would be holding me back though it meant plenty of risk.But,even if the dawning of the 5th was overcasted as for the rest of the weekend.No thing could stop me.Without tent,raincoat and on my own again but,a colourful thick blanket with a hole ripped in the beautiful textile turn to a poncho reminiscent from the Navajo and Hopi blankets,was my only protection,which soon would be soaked to the marrow of my bones.Anyway,feeling like I didn't know where I was going,as I was hitch-hiking on the motorway to the North.A Roll Royce stops!Bless would be the man I can not name,who got me up even past the 'artist entrance' for free.How could I ever found such remote place?So there I was at the fate of the festival bath.The weeks before in between I knew as I thought about several other extraordinary festival's artists I had been.Somehow,this one had to be unique as it held outmost an unseen aura of pure counter-cultural underground 'misfit play power' as heading to ever such unequal highs.Throughout the rainiest weekend could had been the most miserable experience one could ever had,had not been for such strange conbination of magical thinking,but what music?The Grateful Dead/Beefheart/Kinks/Country Joe/Cheech&Chong/NRPS/Family/Incredible String Band(Robin Williamson as the sole individual I ever have spoken about it that was there)Donovan/Pacific Gas & Electric/Brotherhood of Breath/Nigth Tripper,etc.but the even more ecletic crowd one would be finding in the middle of more &more rain.The Dead's creative apex,though,we did not know,even as Pig Pen's weak sounding voice still raved but was last time,I,at least,saw him last but still miss.Would finally appear for one of the longest concerts I had ever seen performed,in a field by any other.Right there,what seemed more than a festival but,a dispirited swamp being stoically enjoyed with the Dead's celestial golden sweetness going,rendering beyond any limits what the mind would meet as gratifying pleasure over matter.As I,had felt before going,knew,I couldn't miss.What had discovered as promising shinning,brigthly.And as won't ever experience as felt,and as it was happening becoming such extreme adventerous field experience.Near the 'Release' tent on the rigth,some other stall by some Hells Angels and 'Frends' a PA was blasting on a 'Don't need no doctor',before as paradigm of the festival.So the NRPS turn up and turn the atmosphere soaring angelic.Thru their performance the sky openned up and as the stage's gray background was waning into a miracolous colourful dusk becoming almost like a Turner's evening.Three old planes that had been roaring across suddenly bashed over and reappeared over the stage leaving espectacular smoke trails behind.The Riders played on,and next the aeroplanes sort of splitted apart from over the stage leaving a purple triangle of smoke to what would be announcing the Dead's eminent reappearance,most of us had been waiting for in such long weekend.With all the technology might now be possible to know better,what was,without being there but none other event if it was missed could had been as real as it happened.The playing of such classic rendering that the Dead did of their 'Going down the road feeling bad' almost reached supernatural connotations.And the grateful Dead played it all at such utopian happening,as they played high time longer that one would feel from anybody,at the time.Giving such higher pleasure sharing with the musically felt,as well as a mind changing experience/mind expansion or the feeling what change really was meant was in itself even greater.Thus was Beefheart's surreal weird strangeness or the drunken Kink's unending encores of 'Lola' as Country Joe's genuine serious warning about ''that fucking tower sinking,endangering the ones underneath...''Bickershaw might be the ONE, but that one 'cos of the rain many may regret having had missed but not those incredible local people or the heavy drinkers which probably meant Scotland was near,or perhaps we were in another world. And the Dead stoned out the field to a plane difficult to forget.
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    Lightnin Will
    6 years 6 months ago
    Hartford earthquake show.
    Hartford earthquake show. Deadheads are speechless for the first time.
  • Syracuse78
    6 years 6 months ago
    What a great story! I love a
    What a great story! I love a happy ending. :-)
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    bryausem
    6 years 6 months ago
    New Orleans area shows
    I'm glad that NO was sandwiched between SF and NY for the band's 15th anniversary shows! Being a small market we only got 2 shows at the Saenger on Canal St. and what shows!!!!! 31 years later I still cherish these shows. Only 3 cities for this acoustic/2 electric set shows and NO (the other coast) was one. First shows in NO since the Warehouse run in '70 (1-30,1-31,2-01). "Busted down on Bourbon Street..." I was a little too young for those shows so I thought I'd never see them in my hometown. So on so many levels these shows were very special to me. Did see them in Baton Rouge (10-16-77) but thats an hour away and not home. However still remember the second set Scarlet/Fire/Estimated/Drums/Other One/Good Lovin'/Terrapin/Black Pete/Around and US B as the encore. Freakin' unreal!!!!!!! OK, back to '80. Highlights: 10-18: set 1 started with Dire, full set well played, but nothing that would not wind up on Reckoning the extended version. set 2 Big River with its NO nod, Althea (one of my favs), and one of the best Lost/Saints that I've ever heard. set 3 China/Rider started it off and I honestly felt like I entered another diminsion during Prophet/Eyes/Drums/NFA/BP I still float back there from time to time! Ended with OM Saturday N on a Saturday night! 10-19: set 1 started with On the Road and ended with Ripple (same as last night). set 2 started with Jack, I really remember Row (very mellow and hopin'), LLRain and Jed. Good set but nothing special, OMG that was about to come! set 3: This set hit me very hard as the setting of the Saenger came alive! I felt as though I was in an old Berlin venue in Germany or something. I had gotten some blotter from a beautiful angel by the name of Alexis that I had met at Armstrong park north of the French Quarter proper prior to the show. Remember her name. Anyway, back to set 3, started with S/F (just like set 2 in BR 3 years prior at LSU), Sam & Del (when Bob made references to tearin' this building down I was scared shitless-the blotter-I felt like we were going to hear air raid sirens like London during WW2, Jer Bear calmed me down with a beautiful Terrapin (could not have come at a better time) this is where the real magic starts. When Jer sang about the lady down in Carlisle I couldn't stop thinkin' about Alexis and I felt feelings I had never felt about a total stranger. The lyrics " eyes alight with glowing hair " just painted a picture that I actually saw and meshed with my feelings. Drums beat the shit out of my mind and I couldn't wait for it to end! Wow man TRUCKIN' was up next (first in New Orleans ever-the place went nuts when the city and Bourbon St. came up!) This would be the only NO performance as it was not played at U of NO (10-18-88). Wharf Rat followed and I thought about the docks of the city along the moonwalk at the edge of the Mississippi River. Sugar and Lovin' was next but I have no memory of either. The encore was Brokedown Palace-it's like they knew I had to hear this to make peace with this building that Bobby was going to tear down-TRUE MAGIC!!!!!-it did indeed settle my soul. After the show me and my uncle (just kiddin'-he was and is my best friend Clay) went to the the 24hr Cafe' Du Monde for Coffee au Lait. While I was telling Clay about my Lady with a Fan trip I saw her right in front of me!!! I had to take a double take, yes it was really her. She asked why did I stare at her during Terrapin Station the entire time! She said I looked like I reached Nirvana and was wild-eyed albeit calm. I didn't know what to say. We went down to the Moonwalk and took another dose. The rest is history. We just celebrated 31 years of married bliss with two grown, beautiful and smart kids. The GD gave me my family man! Can you Dig on that? The GD is in my Soul and Heart, shit my DNA! I loved Jerry like I really knew him. I can't listen to Black Muddy River or So Many Roads without falling apart, I just bawl like an infant. Thanks, Peace and Love