Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Crepuscular digest #1

8/5/70 Golden Hall Community Concourse, San Diego, CA 

This is one that somehow slipped through the cracks for me. 1970 has reigned for a long time as my favorite year, with the Evening with the Grateful Dead Format shows being my favorite. In these performances, the Dead would come out for an acoustic set, followed by a set from the New Riders of the Purple Sage with Jerry Garcia on pedal steel guitar. The Grateful Dead would then come out for a set or two of electric music. There was cross-pollination within the sets, with the New Rider's sitting in with the Dead and vice versa.


This is a first acoustic set only recording. Someone plays  Mandolin sweetly throughout. While Grateful Dead archivist Dick Latava notes in 1978 its Gracia, its most likely David Nelson, with an outside chance its David Grisman. The Grateful Dead play a few more obscure covers than usual including Tell it to Me, Drink up and Go Home and A Voice from On High. As much as I cherish some of the primitive audience recordings from 1970, this soundboard recording is lovely, with all instruments clearly audible. Dick calls this his favorite of the 1970 acoustic sets in his handwritten notes for this recording.

Dead Essays indicates it may be mislabeled here.

lifted from this sweet tumblr account
Dick Latvala
 I read a bunch of  good interviews with Dick on his journey into the Dead and etc. It seems like he did a good amount of press in the infancy of his Dick Pick's series. You get a pretty good sense of the guy in his interviews. A head first and an inside guy second.

Steve Silberman's 3/5/95 Inteview
Alan Paul's 1997 phone interview
David Gans's 2/26/97 Dead Hour Interview

Nicholas Merriweather's extensive post on Dead.net from the Documenting the Dead section gives a nice overview of the Dick Latvala Collection in the Grateful Dead Archive at  UC Santa Cruz. Some great insight and some wonderful images, a few of which I'll share below.

For a deeper, extensively researched biography, Dead Essays has an incredible post. Essential Dead history reading in there. His most tangible legacy is the Dick's Picks live release series. The list from Dead sources is very informative with clickable links giving more details for each release.





1/11/79 Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY
 Check out 1/11/79 here!

 I groggily pressed play on a recording labelled 1979 and just superimposed Brent's playing for the first 2-3 songs until I noticed Donna Jean's voice on a cowboy song. I forget how well Kieth plays on he and Donna's final tour with the Dead. The writing is on the wall as to their departure. It feels like they are given a shot at leaving a nice legacy which I think they do quite well. Kieth's playing is the most present in a year and a half and both he and Donna's hearts are clearly in it. The first set is played exceptionally well and gets hotter with every tune. Donna does 'From the Heart of Me', a  powerful performance looked at through the lens of legacy building. Ramble on Rose, Jack Straw>Deal is absolute fire. On Jack Straw Bobby sings "We used to play for acid, now we play for Clive" and I almost spit my coffee all over my windshield. I remember reading he did this a few times but didn't know it was coming. They had recently entered into a recording contract with Arista's Clive Davis.


Set two is quite the rocker with some really nice segues and improv. The Minglewood>Ship of Fools pairing is really interesting and well executed. There's some really priceless banter with everyone announcing it was someone's birthday on stage. You can tell they're having a blast. The rest of the set is a beast of a segue I'll leave up to you to enjoy interpretation free. I love 1979 audience recordings and this one is quite a peach.



Golden Road
 I've been reading the issues of Blair Jackson and Regan McMahon's Golden Road fanzine on GDAO and have found it really fun and informative. A great look at the fanbase in the 80's>early 90's and some wonderful images that haven't really circulated much online. I pulled a few here from the spring 85 issue:
Gorgeous Stanley Mouse Cover. He sold t shirts of this design

80's Donna is the truth


I also wanted to once again plug Blair and David Gans beautiful This is all a Dream we Dreamed: An Oral History of the Grateful Dead. Despite thinking I knew the story of the Grateful Dead pretty well, I learned new things and found tons of quotes I'd never read before. The oral history style telling of the history in the participants own voices is a really intimate way to do it. Grab a copy here.


Holly Bowling at the Whisper Dome
3/24/17 recording
10/21/17 recording

This past year I got to watch Holly Bowling perform twice in a really special room. For those who haven't checked her out yet she plays solo piano (no vocals) versions of Phish and Grateful Dead songs. She improvises artfully and has done several meticulous transcriptions/arrangements of specific jams, like Phish's Tahoe Tweezer. The Whisper Dome is the performance moniker for the Schenectady Unitarian Univeralist Church in the GE Realty plot. This is a very unique setting for live music in a very interesting neighborhood.


In a fascinating setting  for live music, Holly cast a spell over the attendees at both performances. In March she played without amplification, letting the special acoustics of the room carry the sound to our ears and souls. She flitted effortlessly between Phish and Dead tunes while Jeff Bowling utilized the unique architecture of the room to project a mesmerizing light show. Just thinking of the Sleep opener followed by Crazy Fingers sends shivers down my spine.


For her October Performance Jeff was able to use more of the dome for his projections so the show was even more immersive. I found myself leaning waaaaay back in the padded bench, just sinking into the music. While I loved hearing her version of Divided Sky for the first time, the first set highlight for me was the Holly Bowling original Proxima B. It was captivating and I hope she continues to write original material.

The second set was one massive, fluid 75 minute segue. Prince Caspian>Terrapin Station Suite>Days Between>Terrapin Station Suite>Days Between. For you biscuits fans out there, it was a palindrome set following the format A>B>C>B>A. It was incredible to hear one person carry the entirety of improvisation for a piece of music like this. There is truly no room to fall on your face and she was consistently creative, driving, dynamic and utterly engrossing. I realized at one point that the audience was so quiet, that everyone around me had sort of synced up their breathing so that silence could exist more fully in between breaths. To take in the music being performed for us. You don't get a lot of moments like that in 2017.

I listened to the recording a morning in early November, dropping Hunter off at daycare. As we walked to his building, we watched the first snows of the winter fall. Hunter its starting to pick up words and concepts on a bigger scale all of a sudden. Talking about and experiencing the snow with him was really beautiful. Hearing him exclaim excitedly "snow!" The set got to the segue between Terrapin Station and Days Between as writhing bands of snowflakes were being shuffled around the surface of Western Ave. It reminded me of watching those same bands of dancing, blowing snow while hiking or snowboarding on many joyous winter days. I had to sit in my car until The music had completely morphed from Terrapin into days before starting my day. Its a very beautiful moment of music.The close of the set, with themes from throughout it interwoven, was even more deeply moving, triumphant and captivating.


After both performances Holly was totally accessible, signing merchandise and chatting with the audience until everyone had wandered off. Another relative rarity these days. Special Thanks to Randy Kramer Pierce for the pictures and juice box sips!   


10/03/87 Shoreline Ampitheater, Mountain View, CA
Ashley (Bertha) remastered soundboard recording

This is a hot hot hot show and the other two nights of the run are hot too! This recording is also quite excellent which helps sell the whole package as well. Every individual instrument and voice shine through very clearly on the Jay Ashley remaster. Candyman and Masterpiece are terrific in the first set. The Maggie's Farm>Cumberland Blues is super hot close on the heels of the Dylan and the Dead Summer Tour. There's also plenty of meat to sink your teeth into in the second set sandwich starting with Terrapin. The Terp itself is quite the beast. Plus there's very high quality video of the first set and more standard 80's footage of the second. Several tracks from the first set are included as the bonus footage on View From the Vault three, along with the Shoreline Ampitheater 6/16/90 show.


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