Grateful Dead

Grateful Dead Hour no. 158

By David Gans

Grateful Dead Hour by David Gans

Week of September 30, 1991

Grateful Dead 12/19/69 New Old Fillmore, San Francisco

Country Joe McDonald, Superstitious Blues
Good Old Boys, Pistol Packin' Mama

Grateful Dead 12/19/69 New Old Fillmore, San Francisco

Some acoustic and electric excerpts from 12/19/69 in San Francisco.

 "Long Black Limousine" is pretty rare in GD history - written by Bobby George and Vern Stovall, recorded by Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard, Glen Campbell, Bobby Bare, and others. When it turned up in early 2008 on a double-CD set titled Gram Parsons with The Flying Burrito Bros Live At The Avalon Ballroom 1969 - from a pair of shows in which the Burritos opened for the Dead at the Avalon - I emailed Bob Weir to ask if that's where he learned the song.

"Both sets include 'Long Black Limousine,' which you sang in acoustic sets with the GD a few times after that," I wrote. "And 'You Win Again' was in there, too, which Jerry adopted. Was this encounter an influence on your foray into honky tonk music?"

Bobby's reply:

Not really; we'd been into that stuff since the beginning (Buck Owens, George Jones...) and it was just gonna come out sooner or later. Jerry and I had a bunch of country and gospel tunes we had worked up on days off on the road for fun, and when the Burritos came out, I think we were already doing these tunes in an an acoustic set here or there. That was why it seemed to us that they would be a good pairing with us.

Jerry Garcia plays acoustic guitar on "Starship Ride" and several other songs on Country Joe McDonald's 1990 CD Superstitious Blues.

Pistol Packin' Mama was a bluegrass labor of love for longtime Hunter & Garcia pal and New Riders of the Purple Sage founder David Nelson. Nelson and bassist Pat Campbell supported three genuine legends: Frank Wakefield (mandolin, vocals), Don Reno (banjo, vocals), and Chubby Wise (fiddle). Garcia produced; Dan Healy engineered; they recorded at Mickey's and mixed at Weir's. The album came out on the Dead's Round Records in 1976, and was later released on CD. Great stuff. Here's what Nelson wrote in the Round Records newsletter (preserved on

In two days we had 25 songs down on tape, and upon listening back, some of the tastiest, most fun, and liveliest bluegrass ever recorded! I felt like a kid with dreams of the big leagues who was approached by Mantle, DiMaggio, and Ruth and told "well sure we'll play with you, and all your friends too!"

These three guys wrote the book on banjo, mandolin and fiddle. Chubby Wise is the dearly loved daddy of the country fiddle. He played on the sessions which are today regarded as the definitive bluegrass music. Don Reno is a phenomenal all round musician as well as one singer, guitar picker, and innovator in the highest degree.

What can I say about Frank Wakefield? He's Brer Rabbit jumping through the briar patch, in the flesh. I'd have to quote Oxford's Dictionary and say, "luxuriously prolific, virtuosity abounding, technical ability overflowing with spirit."

Every Wednesday, we post a program from the Grateful Dead Hour archives for your enjoyment and enlightenment. You can browse or search the playlists at or on the GD Hour Search page, and let me know what program(s) you'd like to hear by emailing me at

Thanks for listening!
David Gans

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Joined: Sep 19 2007
Who cares

I just love to hear Jerry stretch out his bluegrass roots and just pick.....

Joined: Sep 4 2007
there are ..

.. so many things on earth now that can bring us down And this music definitely puts a long , wide smile on I - and many others' - faces

Grcs Dave

from the southern hemisphere

Jaime G

Joined: May 26 2007
Nobody was late

I think your theory has a lot of merit!

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Canyon Critter's picture
Joined: Oct 20 2008
There is nothing like Campfire Songs!

Agreed Golden West, they knew what they were doing...but gosh darn it, I love two guitars and singers sittin around the campfire just singing! Awesome stuff David, thanks!
Will you come with me? Once in awhile you can get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right!

Joined: Aug 16 2007
Nobody Was Late

Thanks for the explanation David.

Another thing: I got a theory about these December acousitc sets. We hear on this tape Jerry and Bob telling the audience Phil is late so they're gonna do some acoustic stuff and then when Phil gets there they'll start playing the loud stuff. Exactly a week later, 12/26/69 (GDH 630), they tell the crowd in Texas the same tale but this time, as the story goes, it's Billy who's tardy.
As playing these acoustic sets was new, I'll bet anyone dollars to donuts this was their way of breaking the news to the audience that, yes, the "machine-eating" electric rock band they came to see WOULD be coming out in awhile, but in the meantime, because of circumstances beyond their control, (yeah, right!), this is what they're gonna do. The alternative was to sit there and try to play some relatively quiet music and (it's fair to predict) have to listen to a bunch of people wonderng what was going on, yelling for Pigpen, Dark Star, etc., etc.
Nobody was late.

Joined: May 26 2007
Weir's reply

I think he was saying that they had been playing this kind of music offstage, just for fun, for a while.

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Joined: Aug 16 2007

Another example of just how good a GDH can be.

I'm puzzled by Weir's response. The point is well-taken: they were already into that stuff and didn't require a couple of sets by the Burrito's to become interested in it. Nevertheless, it seems the premise of DG's question involves the fact those two songs had not been played by the Daed prior to that point. So why Weir would say they had already busted them out in performance prior to this time is odd.....


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