Grateful Dead 03/30-4/01/80 The Capitol Theater, Passaic, NJ
The rest of 1980 tends to get overshadowed, in my opinion, by the residencies/ acoustic sets at the Warfield and Radio City. They're great (I adore Reckoning) but for a long time I figured that's all there was from 80. How wrong I was. The shows on either end of the residencies are very hot. Like 1979, I feel the lack of soundboards leads to the rest of 1980 being largely ignored by the masses.. Also like 79, there are tons of beautiful audience recordings like these to sink your teeth into, if you're willing to take the road less traveled.
|Image titled Chris Goodspace Calise "East coast tour 1980"|
Beautiful Barry Glassberg Audience Recording of 3/30/80
The band comes out very hot with Alabama Getaway>Promised Land. Great crowd energy to start. They then pull a very interesting downshift so early in the show into a stately Peggy-O. The recording has a lovely balance of instruments, including more bass than usual which is great. You can hear the crowd but it adds atmosphere rather than distraction. Cassidy is very hot. Loser is appropriately haunting. The Garcia solo peaks with some deft playing. The power of this version lies in it's tasteful restraint. The rest of the set plays out just as well but I'll leave some mystery for the listener.
Usually a set with very few songs is a good indicator that a Disco Biscuits show is going to be good. This turns out to be true for this Grateful Dead second set. The set starts with Scarlet Begonias and the > section doesn't take long to get to soaring heights with the help of Brent Mydland's organ finesse. Jerry and Bobby's guitar interplay is crystal clear. The peak is monumental. So monstrous they flub a bit on the drop back into the composition. It doesn't take any shine off it however. Fire is very strong. Phil's bass sounds great in the mix and adds this amazing plodding dinosaur feel to the groove.
A quick pause and the band drops into a slinky Estimated Prophet. I mentioned the restraint in playing that made the loser so special. At 6:30 that same restraint makes the slide into the jam so interesting. Drums is strong and this rendering of Black Peter is especially good. I found the show very enjoyable from top to bottom.
PS: John Belushi cartwheels on stage for the encore
|Poster/ program for the run|
sennnheiser 421 mic audience recording transferred by Rob Eaton
The energy during band introductions and the Jack Straw opener is why I tend to prefer a good audience recording over a sterile soundboard. It paired perfectly with my morning coffee and drive into work, getting me stoked to tackle my day. Brown Eyed Women, always a favorite of mine is quite lovely. Uptempo without the Ritalin feel the 80's often gets. There's a pretty intense interaction with an usher towards the end. Be forewarned. This is the first performance of Feel like a Stranger. The composition is appropriately shaky for the first go but the jam is wicked. Brent rips it on the synth tones.
The Lost Sailor is missing the second half and Saint of Circumstance is completely missing from the tape but no troubles since thy nail it the night before. Terrapin is a decently magnificent as it often is. The really hot moment from this show for me is the jam out of Playing in the Band. It goes some really interesting places that remind you what a beast this was in 1972-74.
Back to the Glassberg source for night 3
April fools!. The opening tune Promised Land, featured guitarist Bob Weir on keyboards, keyboardist Brent Mydland and guitarist Jerry Garcia on drums, drummers Bill Kreutzmann on bass and Mickey Hart on rhythm guitar and vocals, and Phil Lesh on lead guitar (as per this jambase article) The GIF I found below is attributed to this show but that's definitely Billy on kit and not Brent so I'm not 100% sure who os where. The switch back to their standard instruments and proceed to blow the roof off with a properly rearranged Promised land. The Me and My Uncle>big River has some extra swagger on top of the western swing groove. Friend of the Devil has a melodic and sweet solo from Garcia that really stands out. Jerry finishes up and Brent takes an equally sweet run. It's all Over Now is especially long and very hot. Looks Like Rain is appropriately mournful and segues into a nice Deal to wrap the first set. The kick drum (I'm assuming Billy's) is especially present in the mix and driving.
Starting out set 2 is the second Feel Like a Stranger. This version is much more solid and at two minutes longer, gets taken out a bit further. Jerry Falsetto is still in full effect. The opening notes of China Cat Sunflower are really well received from the audience. Some excellent machine gun Jerry in the Rider solo. Estimated greats pretty deep then segues smoothly into He's gone. Great Banter at the begining of He's Gone: "I need a cigarette." "How about a joint?" I just had a joint, I need a cigarette". The proceeding big jam segment is a very satisfying and immersive sequence flowing through all the corners of the Grateful Dead's aural and spiritual universe. An unexpectedly beefy and groovin' Shakedown encore wraps up the show with a final squeeze of mustard. This run nicely samples what's so great about the nooks and crannies of 1980. Well worth the exploration!
The Disco Biscuits 8/11-12/03 Tussey Mountain Amphitheater, Boalsburg, PA
This was the end of a run of shows for Kieran, Michael, Mike, Crystal and I that started at the Amazura Ballroom in Queens, NY, then headed out to Waterloo Village in New Jersey and finally ended up at the Tussey Mountain Amphitheater in rural central Pennsylvania. The Amazura shows were at times great and at times fraught with tension as the band was visibly and audibly arguing on stage. The Waterloo village show in New Jersey was a festival set that we listened to from the parking lot. Only time I ever did that for the biscuits. Its in my Phantasy Tour stats but recently I've considered deleting it for ethical reasons.
During the northeast run of the summer 2003 tour, the Disco Biscuits integrated classical pieces in their sets. A lot of their early composition (especially Jon Gutwillig penned tunes) are essentially classical pieces with room to jam. So In the Hall of The Mountain King, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and Peter's theme from Peter and the Wolf fit in really nicely. The culmination of this run is the Transmission Music Festival in Tennessee. By all accounts this was a magical event and one of the last truly small/fam biscuits events. For the day set on Saturday, the biscuits played a stripped down "acoustic" set up and played all the classical tunes they'd been playing throughout summer tour. This beautiful performance was immortalized on the Disco Biscuits first ever vinyl release.
Chase Banna Audience Recording
First of all, this was a really fun venue. It's a ski mountain in the winter and has go-karts, driving range and skate park in the summer. The lot scene was super chill. We had a blast enjoying the kind of summer fun that can only really be had in the time before the responsibilities of adulthood put a bit of damper on the easy and free feelings of youth. On night one Keller Williams (the opener) sat in on Zepp's Whole Lotta Love. He really clicked with the Biscuits and it was a fun little departure from their usual. To satisfy the classic requirements of summer 03, the play Stone>Devil's Waltz (fakeout)>Waltz of the Flowers during set two.
Beautiful Jon Hatgis Aud
While night one was super fun with some great playing, night two is a real heater. This time Eine Kleine Nachmusik is interwoven throughout both sets to great effect in regard to energy flow and dynamic. I was really excited to hear it as an orchestra nerd. I played cello from third to sixth grade and double bass from Seventh into college. I always loved playing Mozart stuff. I think Metallica was the first band I really fell in love with and Mozart seemed pretty metal to me. The whole show is great but the segments of the second set get especially deep and awesome.
I had a good time at the shows and enjoyed the tapes but never really focused too much on them. They had a nice breezy summer vibe to remind me of that lovely weekend in the middle of Nowhere, Pennsylvania with great friends and some light debauchery. Listening back to the tapes in 2018 as part of my 'all the biscuits shows I attending listening project', I think these shows are above average for 2003. I'd say night two is well above average for the entire 2002-2004 time period. It highlights the set construction of that time period. There are many little interlocking parts and sandwich's, spiced up with plenty of inverted and dyslexic segments. The setlists have a lot going on and a lot of songs compared to the 2018 Biscuits but the flow is definitely still there. I highly recommend rocking these tapes on a beautiful summer drive. You won't be disappointed.
Phil Lesh and Friends 7/2-3/99, The Warfield Theater, San Fransisco, CA
I'll admit it: I was wary of Phil and friends. When I first started seeing post-Jerry Dead stuff, Warren Haynes was consistently the lead guitarist of Phil's bands (The Q) and I just didn't enjoy his interpretration of Grateful Dead music. I've since come around a great deal on Warren but still ended up preferring Bob Weir's post-dead projects more. Fast forward from the Lesh/ Hanyes days of early Phil and friends to 2018 and I'm falling hard for Steve Kimock. A link turns up for some decent video of the July 2001 run with Kimock on lead guitar before Warren Haynes joins the line-up. In spite of my Phil reservations, I'm mesmerized by a command performance driven by Bill Kruetzmann in fine form as the lone drummer. I love the Mickey/ Billy rhythm devils all out assault but its always a special treat to hear Billy alone carry it like 1971-74. The rest of the line-up is rounded out by the Dave Nelson Band which gives a very unique twist to the sound. In 1999 Phil did a variety of 'Friends' line ups including most famously Trey Anastasio and Page McConnell of Phish. Here's the full line-up for the Warfield shows:
Bass: Phil Lesh
Drums: Bill Kreutzmann
Guitar and vocals: David Nelson
Mookie Siegel: Keys
Barry Sless: guitar and pedal steel
Lead Guitar: Steve Kimock
Soundboard recording available for download
I watched the fan-shot video of 7/2 holding my son Rider while he slept. He was born on a few weeks previous and was still figuring out how to live. So I got to catch up on some music in the middle of the night for a few weeks hahaha. The Cryptical Development is the first played by Dead members since 1985. The Other One that follows is as explosive at times as it is tasteful at other points. What keeps pulling me towards Kimock's music is so apparent in this performance: his understated and deliberate playing. He's so incredibly tasteful. The restraint is what makes the notes he does play so weighty. The worst kind of jam music to me is 4-8 guys just blasting away at their instruments without any dynamic or nuance. This show it's clear that's not the musical experience we're getting
Several Dave Nelson songs find their way into this set and they fit surprisingly well. Fable of a Chosen One segues out of The Other One seamlessly and is a really cool tune. Lots of all-star line ups tend to fall flat in my opinion. While you can get a ton of great players together on stage, the chance of them finding real chemistry is slim. This run is oozing with chemistry. Another bias I have: Phil singing. I won't repeat any of the cliches but will go ahead and praise his vocal performance from these shows. I was prepared to cringe really hard for China Doll. It's a song that demands a strong yet nuanced delivery. Which he does really well here. David Nelson Band's Snake Bit segues back into The Other One>Cryptical in a satisfying tying up of loose ends.
Cumberland Blues is another showcase of Steve Kimmock's tasteful and nuanced guitar work. The whole band is locked in and dynamic on Cumberland. The meat of the show is the big segue way section in set 2: The Wizard's Son> The Wheel>Long Gone Sam>Dark Star>Morning Dew. As with the first set, classic Dead material is tastefully interspersed with Dave Nelson Band originals. The Wheel jam gets quite spacey, reminiscent at times of a 1973 Playing in the Band Jam. Spaciness leads very natural into the Dead's space odyssey, Dark Star. The segue from Dark Star into Morning Dew is especially ethereal and lovely. Chemistry, dynamics and tasteful restraint continue to be on display. Kimmock. So much awesome. . On Dew Phil really blew me away vocally during the "I guess it doesn't matter anyway" section. The Box of Rain encore is worth mentioning since Dave Nelson plays the solo on the 1970 American Beauty studio album version which he does here as well.
Soundboard recording available for download
The second night starts with a pretty amusing joke from Phil. It goes on longer than expected but he actually has great timing/ pacing so its a nice little moment. Cold Rain and Snow has some intricate playing from Kimock, Lesh and Siegel and a powerful jam. The Sugaree jam gets thoroughly deep into a furious peak which then cools down by nice keyboard runs from Siegel. Followed by solo runs from the rest of the players as well. The jam out of Uncle John's Band is a dreamlike, mesmerizing wander through the ether, taken back to the earth by Dave Nelson Band's The Edge of the Wire. I'll admit I was concerned with Phil taking the lead vocal when I saw Stella Blue on the setlist. Imagine my delight when I realized it was an instrumental version and a lovely one at that! Kimock's guitar playing the part of Garcia's vocals is an inspired choice. Wish You Were Here is the sort of tune that separates Phil projects from the rest of the post Jerry. He mines the larger 60's and beyond songbook on a nightly basis, while Bob stays within the boundaries of Deadlandia for the most part. The jam out gets really spacey and melodic then enters a roiling sea of ambient that ends before it should've in my opinion. Great spot for a segue. Help>Slip!>Frank is up next and gets super nasty three minutes into the Slipknot! jam and stays interesting all the way into Franklin's Tower. Some really fun, upbeat and melodic jamming throughout Franklin's with everyone contributing and listening to each other.
Set 2 starts to get really interesting around 13 minutes into Kick in the Head when Kruetzmann drops out and the jam gets spacey. He comes back in, adding direction to the space. It's clear we're heading towards Dark Star but no less fun with the knowing. It's especially neat that they decided to break up the two sections over the two nights. The transition from the jam into the composition is especially sweet and lovely. As is the transition into the always welcome Mountains on the Moon. This jam has a particularly ethereal feel carrying over from the Dark Star. The jam wanders back fully into a Dark Star theme at 9 minutes in. The right players in this line up do so much to paint a cohesive musical picture. This show is all about liquid smooth transitions. Without really noticing the segue I find myself grooving to Iko Iko. Lovely melodic jam then wooosh!, a Scarlet Begonias! I love how uniquely Phil puts together setlists for his band. It's so much more flexible than the last 17 or so years of Grateful Dead sets. Kimock really shines on the Scarlet>Fire transition. Sometimes I can't tell who is playing the lead but sometimes its so clear its him. Its great to hear Nelson on Ripple, as it is to hear him on Uncle John's Band and Box of rain as he contributed to the Recording of American Beauty and Workingman's Dead. He and the rest of the New Rider's were very much a part of that era and the wonderful sounds and songs it produced.
If you are perhaps a bit wary of Phil Lesh post-Garcia, as I was, I'd say this is a great little run to dive into. If you love Kimock as much as I am these days, these shows are terrific.
|Steve Kimock with Phil and Friends 1999|