|This poster got Wes Wilson a stern talking to from Bill Graham. More on Wes later|
01/05/79: The Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA
A surprisingly nice audience recording from the Spectrum. A tough room to tape in
When I got into the Disco Biscuits, they were billed to me as a Philly band. Phish was a Vermont band and the Grateful Dead were a San Fransisco band. Each band had their ancestral homeland. Philly then became sort of a Mecca or mythical place of power as I became a fanatical Biscuits fan. It seemed funkier and more fun than the Manhattan I had grown up knowing as a suburban Long Island kid. There always seemed to be music, art or history around the next corner. It was certainly cheaper than NYC, which was nice. My first time visiting Philadelphia to see the Disco Biscuits was their 2002 New Years run at the Electric Factory. A carload of close friends from SUNY Albany crammed into a hotel within walking distance of the E-factory and had the adventure of a lifetime seeing the band give a command performance over three nights.There's a lot more to the story I'll get to eventually.
|At the Original E-Factory in 1969|
|First show at the Spectrum in 1972|
|A Nice New York Times eulogy for The Spectrum|
08/31/83: Silva Hall, Hult Center, Eugene, OR
Gorgeous Sennheiser 421 mic audience recording from Da Weez
The connection between Ken Kesey and the Grateful Dead is a really engrossing sub-story in both of their arcs. Kesey of course spent some time in California, but very early on in his adult life, settled in his ancestral Oregon. When the Grateful Dead were in town, Kesey was around more often then not. Or the primary reason they were in Oregon at all. The Hult Center itself is a fascinating venue. The room the dead played in this performing arts center was the 2,448 seat Silva Hall. The interior is designed to look like a woven basket. It's heavily shot through with the University of Oregon's colors, green and yellow. It looks like a really trippy place to see a really trippy band.
This show at the Hult center starts with Ken Kesey tells a few jokes while the band gets it together. It's noted that he was jamming behind the drums on harmonica during space but its not really audible on the recording. I'm sure if he was participating, he was influencing. Aside from the already neato Kesey stuff, this is an excellent show. 83-84 is my favorite era for Dupree's Diamond Blues honestly. I'm sure that's sacrilege to hardcore primal Dead fans but there's something about the sound they get with Brent and the quality of storytelling from Garcia. He had a real feel for the story. The closing sequence of set one is great. A driving West L.A. Fade Away is followed by a really nice Althea that gets pretty deep. It's a lovely pairing to have Althea followed by Cassidy. They segue into a hot Don't Ease me In to wrap up a hot first set.
Having not read ahead in the setlist, I was surprised and delighted to have the second set start with Cold, Rain and Snow as a wet and heavy late winter snow fell over Albany. Love those moments where the music and the universe sync up. After this, the entire rest of the second set is one fluid piece. Playing in the Band gets very deep into its jam and segues unexpectedly into a shimmering China Doll. More unorthodox than this pairing is the post Doll jam that at times touches on the Playing in the Band feel without fully returning to it. It's an extended piece of improv that shape-shifts into drums. The space is very uptempo and unusual (the drummers stay on) so I could see Kesey influencing it. The segue into Truckin' is phenomenal and well worth the price of admission. Stella Blue is as poignant as ever while the Good Lovin' has terrific energy to end the set.
10/12/68 The Avalon Ballroom, San Fransisco, CA
Charlie Miller transfer of this intimate soundboard recording
First off, The poster for this run of shows at the Avalon Ballroom is by psychedelic poster pioneer Wes Wilson. For a time, San Francisco was the hippest music scene in the world. It's still really hip. The artists creating posters for the events spawned an art movement themselves which endures to this day. Here's a great article which goes into the "big five" posters artists as well as many of the other folks who helped create and define this vibrant 20th century art scene. I'll share some of Wes' stuff throughout this section of the post. More on the San Fran ballroom poster scene here and here.
|The poster for this run at the Avalon|
|Wes Wilson created his poster for an anti-war demonstration.|
|"Ohm" is on of Wes Wilson's most famous posters. Van Morrison1967|
|2/24/67 at the Fillmore is a trademark Wilson piece|
|Still a much sought after poster artist. Moonalice 2013|
Legend puts Jimi Hendrix in town for a run of shows and quite possibly in attendance at this show. Its an even more compelling wrinkle to this already engrossing aural tale. Dig into that bit of Dead mythology here. More on 10/12/68 here and here too. This show deserves all the attention its gotten through the years.
Steve Kimock Band 2/22/02 The Gothic, Bellevue, CO
"The tape that got him the job"
Steve Kimock's credentials are some of the most impeccable in improvisational rock. He's been playing with members of the Grateful Dead as well as many incredibly talented musicians outside the core Dead thing since the 70's. His tone and style are very unique and yet blend really well with the wide variety of musicians he plays with. My first time seeing him live was at the Capitol Theatre with Bob Weir's campfire band (more on that show including audio and pictures here). His latest album Satellite City is phenomenal. On the anniversary of this show, this recording by Charlie Miller and Arielle Phares circulated online and piqued my interest. I don't venture out much from the Grateful Dead and Disco Biscuits as far as jam music and was hugely rewarded for this particular jaunt.
|Kimock in 2002|
|Alfonso Johnson in Rochester in 1977|
For those of us who spend countless hours listening to Grateful Dead recordings, no one is more responsible for our quality of life in 2018 than Charlie Miller. He's been steadily remastering, upgrading and circulating hulking portions of the Grateful Dead's performance history. He does this as a service to the community, seeking no compensation for his intensive efforts. He started taping the Grateful Dead in 1983 and has been capturing beautiful recordings ever since, most recently, these lovely recordings of the entire 13 show Baker's Dozen MSG run by that Vermont band.
He mentioned on social media that this Kimock recording recording was the tape that landed him the job. That little bit of information is what got me so interested in this recording. It was a tremendously rewarding listening experience and super fun getting to learn about some great musicians. I was so grateful for the experience Charlie's tape provided me, I decided to bother him about it. Here's the conversation we had:
Crepuscular Rays: I saw you said that making the recording got you the job. Would you mind elaborating on that?
Charlie Miller: The band released my recordings as Live in Colorado which got me the job with the band. I've been working for Kimock for 17 years, but not so much lately.
CR: Thanks! I can see why it was released. Incredible music! Did you run boards/ mix for them or focus on recording the performances?
CM: I was Kimock's recording engineer, sound man, driver, road manager, stage crew and most importantly, his friend.
CR: That's one hell of a position. Had you been working in that capacity before?
CM: I've been recording since 1983. I had experience with all those things just not at the same level. When you're with a band for so long you end up doing everything at some point.
|Rodney Holmes 2016|
CM: Yeah we all knew... and the next night was the cigarette after sex 😃
CR: Nice! Any other Kimock recordings I should check out? I'll definitely check out 2/23/02 now.
CM: I put 98% of the year up on the archive. It's all killer. Really.
CR: Awesome! I really appreciate you taking some time to chat with me about this legendary show. Anything else you'd like to add?
CM: Play it loud.
To learn more about Charlie Miller's legacy, take a ride in the wayback machine to check this interview from the now defunct Dar Star palace blog. It's a really thorough piece with great pictures.