Grateful Dead

Grateful Dead Hour no. 421

Week of October 14, 1996

Guest: David Nelson

David Nelson Band, Keeper of the Key

Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band 1987 (unreleased)

Black Mountain Boys 3/6/64

David Nelson Band, Limited Edition

Jerry Garcia 11/62 College of San Mateo

High Country w/ Jerry Garcia 2/69 Matrix, SF

Grateful Dead (unreleased 1969 studio recording)

Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band 1987 (unreleased)

David Nelson is one of Jerry Garcia's oldest musical pals. They played together in folk and bluegrass bands on the San Francisco Peninsula in the early 1960s, along with Robert Hunter, Eric Thompson, and others. Nelson was a founding member of the New Riders of the Purple Sage, a pioneering country-rock band fronted by singer-songwriter John "Marmaduke" Dawson and featuring Jerry on pedal steel guitar. Grateful Dead members Phil Lesh and Mickey Hart played with the NRPS at first, too, and the Dead's engineer/producer Bob Matthews played bass for a while.

The New Riders toured with the Dead in 1970 and 1971, presenting marathon shows that opened with acoustic sets by GD/NRPS combinations, followed by NRPS and then the electric GD. The Riders became successful enough on their own that it was necessary to become an independent band; pedal steel guitarist Buddy Cage, who was playing with Ian and Sylvia when they all took that "Might as Well" ride on the Festival Express in 1970, signed on with the New Riders, joining the core of Marmaduke, David Nelson, bassist Dave Torbert (who later played in Kingfish with Bob Weir) and drummer Spencer Dryden (late of the Jefferson Airplane).

Nelson left the New Riders in 1982. At Jerry's request, he served as Bob Dylan's guitar technician on the Dylan-Dead tour in the summer of 1987, and Jerry recruited him for the Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band, which opened for the electric JGB at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater in New York City.

In the early 1990s, Nelson hit the road with the ridiculously great and tragically underappreciated David Nelson Band, with bassist Bill Laymon, guitar/pedal steel genius Barry Sless, keyboardist Mookie Siegel, and various drummers. That's what was happening when Nelson appeared on KPFA on July 31, 1996, an edited version of which became Grateful Dead Hour #421, originally broadcast the week of October 14, 1996. Nelson brought some recordings of his early days with Garcia, Hunter, and company, as well as some unreleased live material form the JGAB's 1987 shows.

Nelson also treated us to a rare bit of studio weirdness called "Barbed Wire Whipping Party," a very high experiment conducted with the aid of the 16-track recorder in the San Mateo, California studio where the Dead were working on Aoxomoxoa.

"Hunter said, 'I want you to get some people for voices, and I want you to read these lines like chants - say them over and over again, and we'll make tape loops put of them,'" Nelson recalled. "One of them was 'Push it and pull it and push it and pull it,' and another was 'Meat, meat, gimme my meat! Meat, meat, gimme my meat!' ... He had this idea to make loops of all this stuff and fade them in and out, and read this poem, 'Barbed Wire Whipping Party.' You can barely hear it - it's an odd mix. Oddly enough, it's an odd mix.... 'The barbed wire whipping party in the razor blade forest! No is permitted... the other day I went to Mars and talked to God, and he said, "Hang in there" ...'

"Betty Cantor set up a microphone and Matthews had rigged the recorder so that anything that goes into this microphone is repeated 16 times. Three or four of us were standing there with headphones, and Betty says, 'Stay in the general area.' And we heard, 'area area area area.' So we start chanting, 'Area area area area, stay in the general area...' And the rest is chaos."

Also present at this interview was Stephen Barncard, the recording engineer/producer who made timeless magic with David Crosby and his pals on If I Could Only Remember My Name, recorded American Beauty, and produced several albums by the New Riders.


You can browse and/or search the Grateful Dead Hour program logs on the show's home page, Let us know if there's a particular show you'd like to hear, and feel free to post requests and comments here or by email to gdhour [at]

Thanks for listening!
David Gans
gdhour [at]

Program time 51:31

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Joined: Jun 5 2007
Gamorrah...stages 1-10 (get over it)

"..was turned to stone because she LOOKED BEHIND HER" --- gammorah

Stages 1-10
stage 1) GET OVER IT!!!
stage 2) wow we are still getting free streaming audio!
stage 3) GET OVER IT!!!
stage 4) your kids need half as much attention as you people spend not getting over the stream change and moving on with your lives

stage 5) GET OVER IT!
stage 6) you are having trouble getting over you GET LOST!!!
stage 7) voulenteer your time for someone less fortunate who has real problems and dosent bother everyone else who has cleary gotten over the stream change and moved on...aka all the cool folks who "don't punch gift horses in the mouth"
stage 8) GET OVER IT....or let it wreck your whole "life" which obviously revolves around not getting over it and continually grinding this into the ground!

Stage 9) GET OVER IT!!!!
stage 10) you finally get lost realizing that everyone else has gotten over it, the persons who really appreciates what david gans and david lemeuix do for us on a weekly basis and has goten over stage 10 for all the babies, whiners, people who cant get a clue....GET OVER IT OR GET LOST!!!!

no points of respect will be awarded to anyone who can tget the f--k over it already. BE THANKFUL AND STOP WITH THE crying/moaning/sense of entitlement BS!!!! (see points 1-10 above)

Joined: Jun 4 2007
RHINOgate... I am not going to Stage 5

The stages are:

1. Denial : The initial stage: "It can't be happening."
2. Anger : "Why ME? It's not fair?!" (either referring to God, oneself, or anybody perceived, rightly or wrongly, as "responsible")
3. Bargaining : "Just let me live to see my son graduate."
4. Depression : "I'm so sad, why bother with anything?"
5. Acceptance : "It's going to be OK."

Joined: May 26 2007
John Henrikson

Thank you for the info about John, lethedoom - I'll drop him a note and pass the word along to other mutual friends.

As for you, Brian: no more of your requests will be honored until you learn how to spell my name :^)

GD Hour blog
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brian.michaelson's picture
Joined: Jun 15 2007
Hot Mustard!!!

Thanks for paying attention to my request, Mr Ganz. This piece of weirdness brings back lots of fun memories of listening to your show. The Dead at their trippiest for sure!

Brian Michaelson

lethedoom's picture
Joined: Jun 4 2007
re Jon Henrikson

David Gans asked:

Are you talking about John Henrikson? Has he been ill? Or was he injured?

Jon Henrikson posted this on the Dead Show blog ( :

First off a sincere thank you to all of you who passed along your warm and kind get well wishes to me this week. I was in the hospital because I had an aneurysm in my leg that blocked the blood flow pretty completely. They did a vein graft in there and while I'm still pretty gimpy, at least I'm not in the hospital so I'm thankful for that.
I wanted to get a show up this week, and I think you'll enjoy this one, which was just recently released in a complete form...

Joined: Jun 5 2007
Thanks Dave!

Thanks David!
I appreciate you taking the time for our requests! I'll remember to send it to your e-mail next time. I can understand that things have been quite hectic around here as of late. It is such an honor to have an open line of communication with you! I've been a huge fan of your show for many years...and you still never cease to amaze me with the depth,knowledge, and time span of your selections! I've never been inside the vault, but with your show its like a weekly walking tour through the history of our favorite band! I only got to see the band in 94 and 95...but your show makes up for my 28 year absence!

I just found out today that my school offers an outdoors program which features a canoe ride on the suawanee river both into and out of Magnolia Fest! I quickly signed up for this adventure! Its about a month away...and I look foward to the canoe trip, three days of camping and music, and meeting some fine folks! Its such a beautiful and pristine part of Florida!

take care and thanks again!

Joined: Aug 16 2007
Grateful_nirvanA: Let me


Let me know how to get it to you and you got it (a cassette).
It's a great show.

Sunshine-daydream1951's picture
Joined: Jun 5 2007
David Nelson

thanks David

I love the music of Senor Nelson, The DNB especially, they have made imho some of the very BEST post GOGD Music

Bob W

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Spanish Jam

Grateful_nirvanA's picture
Joined: Jun 4 2007
Very interesting material

Thanks for the unusual post this week, Mr. Gans (as we have never been introduced, we are not technically on a first name basis).

If anyone out there has this show/broadcast available, I would love to get a copy (cassettes are F-I-N-E).

Thanks again!

Joined: May 26 2007
GDH 335 request

Thank you for the GDH 335 request. I'l add it to the queue.

It's better to email requests to, though, 'cause it's much easier for me to keep them in a mailbox than to write them down as they're posted in here.

GD Hour blog
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