September 17, 1973
Doug Sahm opened
Me and My Uncle
They Love Each Other
Beat it on Down the Line
Looks Like Rain
You Ain't Woman Enough
Let Me Sing Your Blues Away
Eyes of the World
WRS Part 1
Let It Grow
Attendees of this show
We blew into Syracuse, spontaneous trip to hopefully gratefully catch the Dead, taking time away from jobs. Yep, tickets available at the box office. Wow, we're in!
Seats close enough, on Jerry's side, that we were the first rows standing on chairs, it seeming the whole audience was on their feet. We could look right across the sea of people, close to eye-level with Jerry, almost as if there were no one between us.
They launched into "Casey Jones". I, per usual, at a great Dead concert (and so many were!) was transported in ecstasy. I was beyond analysis and keeping track of the song, experiencing it like it was the first time of that particular beauty and movement. However, unbidden by me, at the point on the studio version of the song where someone says it during Jerry's solo, I said it out loud. I don't remember shouting it. I remember the audience being so into listening to the song (and us so close to the stage) that they were quiet enough, that my voice carried. I said "ride that train!". My eyes sprang open as I said it, surprised at myself. Jerry looks up from his guitar, across the audience at me, smiles, and nods his head, as his fingers spin wondrous music.
Great music, no doubt. Great musicians, no doubt. For me, it was also somehow the personal connection those band members could do, whether it was that direct and obvious or in other ways. Thanks, Jerry.
Doug Sahm's group was the opening act. That group's sax and trumpet guys, Martin Fierro and Joe Ellis, joined the Dead for some of the second set.
By then my musical interests, turntable time, and rapidly growing big LP collection were jazz and San Fran acid/hippie rock groups (Dead, Airplane, Quicksilver, you know).
Partly because I had friends who went to the Eastman School of Music, there at U of R, partly because of other "way out"/"hip" jazz friends I hung out with, my taste in sax ran towards Coltrane, Ornette, Sanders, Ayler, etc. Trumpet was mostly latest Miles Davis incarnations for me.
So when Martin and Joe show up on stage I'm intrigued, glad for the added texture, but prepared to be disappointed compared to the jazz I usually listened to. I had heard Martin on some good LPs.
Joe wore fairly common clothes, but Martin had a beret and other (goatee?) that made me think beat generation/hip.
I was standing close enough that I heard something that I doubt would ever come across on tapes and certainly most of the audience didn't hear.
Martin got sent "out to lunch" by Jerry's playing. I saw Martin go from nodding his head to Jerry's solos/jamming, to closing his eyes and swaying, to tilting his head up as if he were hearing something from on high.
Martin was vamping on his sax. Jerry's playing so got to him that he just started blowing. I wish I could experience the concert again so I could know when he did that. Was it after a sax sorta solo and then during a Jerry-predominant part or was it during space when kinda everybody is soloing simultaneously?
Anyway, Martin was doing Coltrane-ish walls of sound, wailing. Wailing and screeching and running all up and down those sax keys, using the full force of his lungs and mind and heart. He slowly walked forward, eyes closed. He was transported, man! Like I had only seen in the most "took off!" portions of out there live jazz concerts, like Coltrane or Sanders at their most cosmic.
Jerry had a big grin on his face and yet was also concentrating, his fingers flying and taking it higher and higher. He was watching Martin.
Martin kept walking forward wailing, until part of his shoes were over the lip of the stage. And there he balanced, on the edge of the stage, sax raised to the heavens, blowing a gospel of cosmicness, of passion, from his depths, to the heights.
It was my two musical interests come together.
I and a few others were privileged to hear that.
Thanks, Jerry, for creating heartfelt space music that transcended labels.