Hurts Me Too
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Hard To Handle
Dark Star> Wharf Rat> Dark Star> Me & My Uncle
Big Boss Man
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My first times going to the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, New York to see the Grateful Dead were the November 1970 shows. Those particular Dead concerts were still in the days of being able to buy tickets at the box office the evening of the show. The Fillmore East on the other hand was already starting to sell out Grateful Dead in advance, at least by the September 1970 run. The Capitol was a relatively unknown entity around that same time frame. By the time the February 71 series of Dead concerts were announced in early December 1970 the Northeast, New Jersey to Boston Dead Zone paradigm shift was taking hold.
When tickets went on sale in early December at the Capitol Theater box office there were at least 30-40 people in line at dawn. One of them being Blair Jackson. So I felt lucky to score tickets for the nights of February 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st. All this said the winter of 70-71 I was starting to clean up my diet, was jogging, and started a pattern of taking breaks from ganga of several days to several weeks, a discipline I’ve followed ever since.
On the evening of February 18th, 1971 I made the 20 mile journey to the Capitol Theater. Before leaving home a friend turned me on to some hash. As I had not smoked in a few weeks it was profound to say the least. Mind you Port Chester was a tough blue collar town. ( some of my favorite places) I have no idea what gentrification attempts have happened there in the past 50 years as I’ve lived in the west for almost a half century.
As written about in the past I came close to being jumped / mugged hanging out on the south side of the theater before the show. Once I quickly rounded the corner to the front of the building I mixed in with the crowd waiting to go inside. I suppose my minimal street smarts saved my skinny ass.
Once inside and in my seat close to the stage in front of Jerry my adrenaline rush combined with hashish buzz started to even out.
Enter the New Riders of the Purple Sage. Garcia was still playing pedal steel with them at the time but it was my first time seeing Spencer Dryden on drums who replaced Mickey Hart. Side note ; the only two times I saw the Jefferson Airplane were in May 1970 in Central Park and November 1970 at the Capitol Theater. Joey Covington was the drummer for the Airplane in that later era. I was recently sent home made bootleg CDs from the NRPS set from 2/18/71 from my old friend and Grateful Dead archivist / taper Jay Kerley.
Enter the Grateful Dead. So much has been written about the Capitol Theater February 1971 run of Grateful Dead they take on major levels of mythological proportion.
At the time of those Dead shows word was out that they were being recorded for an album to be released later that year. I do remember Bob Mathews and Betty Cantor up in a balcony box booth on the south side of the theater with advanced looking recording equipment that appeared to be a vinyl cutting turntable.
The set list for 2/18/71 is nothing less than stunning. The opening with Bertha was like wild horses being let out of a corral.
I first received the bootleg cassette tape of that night sometime in the mid 80s from Jay Kerley. The original tapes had a popping sound. Thanks to the wizardry of modern archival audio restoration we have the official release of this extremely significant touchstone in time and space. The stunning version of Dark Star with “beautiful jam” is nothing less than breathtaking.
So this evening I will break my several week abstinence from smoking ganga and check back in. (Medical Marijuana card) There used to be a saying, “Space your trips”. Seen.