Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – It Comes To You in a Plain Brown Wrapper (soniclovenoize reconstruction)
Beatle Bones ‘n’ Smokin’ Stones! Dig some deep Captain Beefheart audio fan fiction (or something) via the great Albums That Never Were blog. 
"This is a reconstruction of the unreleased 1968 double-album It Comes to You in a Plain Brown Wrapper by Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band. Originally scrapped with half of the material re-recorded and infamously ‘psychedelicized’ for the album Strictly Personal and the other half released as 1972’s Mirror Man, this reconstruction attempts to cull all the originally intended material for the double album that was supposed to be their sophomore release, more successfully bridging the gap between 1967’s Safe As Milk and 1969’s Trout Mask Replica.”

Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – It Comes To You in a Plain Brown Wrapper (soniclovenoize reconstruction)

Beatle Bones ‘n’ Smokin’ Stones! Dig some deep Captain Beefheart audio fan fiction (or something) via the great Albums That Never Were blog. 

"This is a reconstruction of the unreleased 1968 double-album It Comes to You in a Plain Brown Wrapper by Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band. Originally scrapped with half of the material re-recorded and infamously ‘psychedelicized’ for the album Strictly Personal and the other half released as 1972’s Mirror Man, this reconstruction attempts to cull all the originally intended material for the double album that was supposed to be their sophomore release, more successfully bridging the gap between 1967’s Safe As Milk and 1969’s Trout Mask Replica.”

The Strangest (and Funniest) Moments From Bob Dylan and the Band’s Basement Tapes Sessions
Oh man, the Basement Tapes are one of my favorite things ever. So obviously I’m excited about the forthcoming official Basement Tapes box! In anticipation, I banged out this little thing for Pitchfork, highlighting just a few of the delightfully weird moments captured during the sessions. There may be even more of these moments to enjoy — there are a bunch of un-bootlegged tracks that the compilers have unearthed, amazingly enough.
One thing I noticed that is not included (as far as I can tell) on the official box set is a groovy little instrumental jam that appears on the Tree With Roots set. Here it is! I assume it’s not on there because Dylan himself is most likely not playing here (I think it’s Manuel on harmonica). Not earth shattering stuff by any stretch of the imagination, but I can’t get enough of that basement noise.  

The Strangest (and Funniest) Moments From Bob Dylan and the Band’s Basement Tapes Sessions

Oh man, the Basement Tapes are one of my favorite things ever. So obviously I’m excited about the forthcoming official Basement Tapes box! In anticipation, I banged out this little thing for Pitchfork, highlighting just a few of the delightfully weird moments captured during the sessions. There may be even more of these moments to enjoy — there are a bunch of un-bootlegged tracks that the compilers have unearthed, amazingly enough.

One thing I noticed that is not included (as far as I can tell) on the official box set is a groovy little instrumental jam that appears on the Tree With Roots set. Here it is! I assume it’s not on there because Dylan himself is most likely not playing here (I think it’s Manuel on harmonica). Not earth shattering stuff by any stretch of the imagination, but I can’t get enough of that basement noise.  

SUMMER OF DEAD 2014: Scarlet Begonias, 1974
Yes! The mighty Jesse Jarnow (of WFMU’s Frow Show and Big Day Coming) checks himself into the Mars Hotel. 
The Grateful Dead played “Scarlet Begonias" 28 times during 40 shows in the song’s debut year of 1974, and thank heavens they did because—and this might sound obvious—one never knows how long one is going to get to be the 1974 Grateful Dead. By autumn, the band teetered on burnout and announced a break. When they reemerged in the spring, their nimble and semi-stable quintet lineup had grown, once again featuring second drummer Mickey Hart, absent since 1971. Songs written in the meantime grew new drum parts.
Of the bummers the Grateful Dead perpetrated in the ’80s and ’90s, few seem crueler than the fate that befell “Scarlet Begonias,” transformed into a gaudy dragon-paraded calypso hullaballoo. Jerry Garcia didn’t write many songs like it, before or after, a syncopated bounce with the highly un-Garcia-like characteristic of being quite difficult to play around a campfire on an acoustic guitar. Perhaps because of its bright and straightforward lyrics, it is rarely filed with Garcia’s other complicated prog-Dead era fare, like the jazz harmonies and earthy heaviness of “Eyes of the World.” Its closest relative in the Dead songbook was “China Cat Sunflower,” a similar sunshine beacon that likewise came together around a slinky, snappy Bob Weir rhythm figure. And though “Scarlet Begonias” became one of the Dead’s most durable portable dance parties, its 1974 incarnation was a fairly delicate flower of a song, perfect in nearly every last respect.
The 1974 “Scarlet”s begin with a quick snare snap and then the band is mid-bounce, riding on a sly beat by drummer Bill Kreutzmann. His four bandmates dance around the song’s melodic shape, revealing it between punching bass leads and rich Rhodes figures. It’s a love song, both joyous and wry, replete with an even more joyous kosmik refrain. And, in 1974, the band roars into a jam that seems ready to open up and light out for deeper territories. But it never does. In the airy groove—Garcia said it was influenced by Paul Simon’s “Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard”—the band found a way to move around while staying inside that crowd-pleasing bounce, a vehicle for the soaring Garcia guitar lines that paid the bills, karmically and financially. Even so, the song’s brief jams were a perfect frame for Garcia’s qwizzical qwests, jams that seemed like they could go anywhere, the perfect crossing between populist Dead boogie and head- friendly space explorations. Most of all, “Scarlet Begonias” was a song so good that even the built-in Donna Jean Godchaux vocalization was frequently low key, even pleasant, almost Karen Dalton-like.
When Mickey Hart returned to full-time duty in ‘76, the song’s percussion part grew swollen with thumpery, and “Scarlet Begonias” began its long slow-motion monster movie transfiguration, the jam soon only capable of one inevitable destination. Even throughout the stunning takes of “Scarlet Begonias” during 1977, one hears the high-strung chat-chat-chattering of the cowbell, like the pulse of a Hawaiian-shirted alien creature trying to push its way out of the song’s shell. Fuck that. We are left with these 28 unadorned 1974 versions of “Scarlet Begonias,” each with its own destiny that’s sometimes “It Must Have Been The Roses” and definitely not “Fire On the Mountain,” each one a can of sunshine ready for deployment.
Jesse Jarnow / @bourgwick

SUMMER OF DEAD 2014: Scarlet Begonias, 1974

Yes! The mighty Jesse Jarnow (of WFMU’s Frow Show and Big Day Coming) checks himself into the Mars Hotel. 

The Grateful Dead played “Scarlet Begonias" 28 times during 40 shows in the song’s debut year of 1974, and thank heavens they did because—and this might sound obvious—one never knows how long one is going to get to be the 1974 Grateful Dead. By autumn, the band teetered on burnout and announced a break. When they reemerged in the spring, their nimble and semi-stable quintet lineup had grown, once again featuring second drummer Mickey Hart, absent since 1971. Songs written in the meantime grew new drum parts.

Of the bummers the Grateful Dead perpetrated in the ’80s and ’90s, few seem crueler than the fate that befell “Scarlet Begonias,” transformed into a gaudy dragon-paraded calypso hullaballoo. Jerry Garcia didn’t write many songs like it, before or after, a syncopated bounce with the highly un-Garcia-like characteristic of being quite difficult to play around a campfire on an acoustic guitar. Perhaps because of its bright and straightforward lyrics, it is rarely filed with Garcia’s other complicated prog-Dead era fare, like the jazz harmonies and earthy heaviness of “Eyes of the World.” Its closest relative in the Dead songbook was “China Cat Sunflower,” a similar sunshine beacon that likewise came together around a slinky, snappy Bob Weir rhythm figure. And though “Scarlet Begonias” became one of the Dead’s most durable portable dance parties, its 1974 incarnation was a fairly delicate flower of a song, perfect in nearly every last respect.

The 1974 “Scarlet”s begin with a quick snare snap and then the band is mid-bounce, riding on a sly beat by drummer Bill Kreutzmann. His four bandmates dance around the song’s melodic shape, revealing it between punching bass leads and rich Rhodes figures. It’s a love song, both joyous and wry, replete with an even more joyous kosmik refrain. And, in 1974, the band roars into a jam that seems ready to open up and light out for deeper territories. But it never does. In the airy groove—Garcia said it was influenced by Paul Simon’s “Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard”—the band found a way to move around while staying inside that crowd-pleasing bounce, a vehicle for the soaring Garcia guitar lines that paid the bills, karmically and financially. Even so, the song’s brief jams were a perfect frame for Garcia’s qwizzical qwests, jams that seemed like they could go anywhere, the perfect crossing between populist Dead boogie and head- friendly space explorations. Most of all, “Scarlet Begonias” was a song so good that even the built-in Donna Jean Godchaux vocalization was frequently low key, even pleasant, almost Karen Dalton-like.

When Mickey Hart returned to full-time duty in ‘76, the song’s percussion part grew swollen with thumpery, and “Scarlet Begonias” began its long slow-motion monster movie transfiguration, the jam soon only capable of one inevitable destination. Even throughout the stunning takes of “Scarlet Begonias” during 1977, one hears the high-strung chat-chat-chattering of the cowbell, like the pulse of a Hawaiian-shirted alien creature trying to push its way out of the song’s shell. Fuck that. We are left with these 28 unadorned 1974 versions of “Scarlet Begonias,” each with its own destiny that’s sometimes “It Must Have Been The Roses” and definitely not “Fire On the Mountain,” each one a can of sunshine ready for deployment.

Jesse Jarnow / @bourgwick

Television - Piccadilly Inn, Cleveland, Ohio, July 24, 1975
Duders! Head over to Aquarium Drunkard NOW to check out a truly stellar Television bootleg (which was actually one of the first things I posted on this blog oh so many Marquee Moons ago). Cleveland, Ohio 1975! The place to be, against every odd imaginable. Verlaine and co. played two nights — the recording over on AD is the second night. As an added bonus to you Doom & Gloomsters, here’s a recording of the first night! Not quite as good a recording, but actually better than I remember. A different setlist, and even the repeats are pretty different from the next show. Totally killer stuff. Just $3 to check in to the Piccadilly Inn!

Television - Piccadilly Inn, Cleveland, Ohio, July 24, 1975

Duders! Head over to Aquarium Drunkard NOW to check out a truly stellar Television bootleg (which was actually one of the first things I posted on this blog oh so many Marquee Moons ago). Cleveland, Ohio 1975! The place to be, against every odd imaginable. Verlaine and co. played two nights — the recording over on AD is the second night. As an added bonus to you Doom & Gloomsters, here’s a recording of the first night! Not quite as good a recording, but actually better than I remember. A different setlist, and even the repeats are pretty different from the next show. Totally killer stuff. Just $3 to check in to the Piccadilly Inn!

Sir Richard Bishop
The good Sir Richard has put up 14 (count ‘em!) of his albums for free download until the end of August. What a nice guy. If you’re looking for a place to start, I suggest Polytheistic Fragments, which is probably the most eclectic of his records, but will give you a good indication of the various delights in store. Go thank him in person if you live on the east coast — he’s touring with Tashi Dorji starting next week. 

Sir Richard Bishop

The good Sir Richard has put up 14 (count ‘em!) of his albums for free download until the end of August. What a nice guy. If you’re looking for a place to start, I suggest Polytheistic Fragments, which is probably the most eclectic of his records, but will give you a good indication of the various delights in store. Go thank him in person if you live on the east coast — he’s touring with Tashi Dorji starting next week

SUMMER OF DEAD 2014: Rich Stadium, Buffalo, New York, July 16, 1990
Hopefully, everyone has been following Darryl Norsen’s totally great Dead Notes column on Aquarium Drunkard (as well as its tumblr annex). Suffice to say, Darryl knows the Dead. Here he tells us of tapes, trading and Buffalo 1990. 
You know you are in deep when you are ordering Maxell XLIIs in batches of hundreds not just a brick here or there. As fast as they drop on your parents doorstep they are back out the door to the owners of the endless stacks of xeroxed trade lists that have made their way into your sweaty palms. They say the Grateful Dead is the gateway to countless other bands and styles of music - but it should be amended with ‘The Grateful Dead might also lead to excessive tape trading and trips to the post office’.
The first tape was two incomplete sets from 1966 - 7/16 & 7/17 respectively - live from the Fillmore and unfortunately the pusher’s name is lost to the years in between. But I remember they reeked of Nag Champa and neatly written in blue ball point pen was something new — something unknown beyond the copy of Skeletons from the Closet lifted from my mother’s collection. “Big Boss Man”? “Cardboard Cowboy”? “Next Time You See Me”? “He was a Friend of Mine”??? These were not the Grateful Dead songs I was familiar with. Where was “St. Stephen”? “Friend of the Devil”? WHERE IS “TRUCKIN’”??? Who is this guy belting out the blues with husky and gruff voice resonating a bit of danger. He might cut you but just as a warning while he walks off with your old lady - leaving you playing pocket pool the rest of your life. Hey hands outta your pocket son!
It just took a little taste to open the flood gates and it didn’t help that the soundboards of the historic late February and early March 1969 run appeared in the mailbox next. Twenty-six year old acid jams were reigning technicolor sound waves over my bedroom speakers! Hundreds of miles and decades separated me between then and now but it was here and now! (Mom! Dad! Don’t open the door I am busy in here!) Any prior listening habits didn’t matter anymore — I was losing my mind my new hippie friends: Pigpen, Jerry, Phil, Tom, Mickey, Billy, & Bobby! What did matter was when the next tapes would be coming! (Mom - can I borrow your credit card? I am ordering new tapes from Terrapin. Yes, Terrapin like the tortoise. Long story … ok, thanks!) The years started to flush out as bedroom drawers began to overflow while blank and postage deals were replaced with trades. The better the connection the less generations between you and the original reel. The better the connection the more opportunities to snag something not many others had that you could flex for more of those other rarities! Hours were poured over each date while memorizing the j-cards that were filled with wild drawings and cryptic short hand codes of >, //, and f:.
Going to a liberal patchwork and tie dye college in upstate New York only deepened the waters. As soon as I got on campus the levee exploded and new friends were made via tape exchanges and geeked out conversations occurred in circles on the common (You know when Jerry hits that note and its like - OH MAN I KNOW, I KNOW but what about the one from this show? DUDE!). Half way into freshman year we got wind an older head who was ditching his tapes. Fifty cents a piece and you pay the shipping! Beer and smoke money was quickly pinched and pooled together for a money order. A couple weeks later we got an insane box bursting at the seams full of dates, venues, and reels of tape! What else are you going to do but skip classes, gather up your buds, lock the door and cue the decks?
Folks this is where I admit my follies. Ten years ago I had nearly a couple thousand tapes - not to mention just as many CDrs. That is a lot of media and hours hanging over your head when your looking at moving out of state with just enough room in your car for the bare essentials. I loaded up several friends with my choice picks and the rest went into several boxes labeled FREE that were perched on the shelf at the record store I was working at in Rochester, NY. In the end I kept four tapes that I received from one of my best concerts buds, Mira, who had wrapped them lovingly in the brightest tie-dyed j-cards with the setlist beautifully written on the front. Those four tapes were my everywhere-I-go-you-are-coming-too tapes. They were my partners in crime for middle of night road dog sessions as friends slept in the backseat while on tour with Phish. They accompanied me for late night sessions in the art studio with my hands caked in gouache or my eyes going crossed-eyed from staring at the computer screen trying to finish a design. Always a fixture in the front flap of my backpack or front seat of the car — I can rattle you off the set lists without thinking twice!
Of those 360 minutes 180 of those were 7/16/1990 at Buffalo, NY. This show often gets lost amongst the countless other great shows of 1990 (the supposed last great year) and maybe I have an affinity for it because it takes place at the stadium where I saw so many great football games. But if you blocked out the year and the few 1980s songs you would think its a gig from the 1970’s! “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo,” “Mama Tried” > “Mexicali Blues,” “Loose Lucy,” “High Time” and “Don’t Ease Me In” are bundled together in a summer sun scorched first set! The real gem within that set is Brent Mydland’s masterpiece “Blow Away” — it is heartbreak at it’s rawest and sadly he passed away not long after this gig. The second set is a series of >’s as “Sugar Magnolia” opens it up and meanders into a great “Scarlet Begonias” and “Man Smart, Woman Smarter” sandwich. “Truckin’” gets the loudest cheer of the day for the Buffalo line as it plows into the jam and slips into Drums then Space. The band then turns on the afterburners for 45 minutes of relentless jamming as “The Wheel” rolls into “Gimme Some Lovin’”, “Wharf Rat,” “Around & Around” and “Sunshine Daydream.” The night is capped with a beautiful rendition of “Brokedown Palace.”
Soundboards exist of this show but when it comes to the 1990s I love Front of the Board (FOB) audience tapes. Besides being able to feel like your standing amongst a endless sea of fans - the band also sounds more open and alive. Jerry, Bobby and Phil’s strings all breathe a little more freely as Brent’s keyboards fill in the gaps nicely. Mickey and Billy’s drums have that extra oomph of bass and snap of snare too. My choice for this gig is Alabama Bob’s pull from the 18th row so make a little extra wiggle room in your perimeter, grab a beer and block off the next 3 hours!
D. Norsen is an artist and Deadhead living in the suburban limits of Boston, Massachusetts. He writes the Dead Notes column on Aquarium Drunkard along with curating the Grateful Dead Notes tumblr. He is also currently helping the Jerry Garcia Estate dig deep into the visual archive for future shirts and other merchandise. While he still regrets ditching his tape collection he is in the process of inheriting a large collection from an old taper. Karma works in funny ways folks!

SUMMER OF DEAD 2014: Rich Stadium, Buffalo, New York, July 16, 1990

Hopefully, everyone has been following Darryl Norsen’s totally great Dead Notes column on Aquarium Drunkard (as well as its tumblr annex). Suffice to say, Darryl knows the Dead. Here he tells us of tapes, trading and Buffalo 1990. 

You know you are in deep when you are ordering Maxell XLIIs in batches of hundreds not just a brick here or there. As fast as they drop on your parents doorstep they are back out the door to the owners of the endless stacks of xeroxed trade lists that have made their way into your sweaty palms. They say the Grateful Dead is the gateway to countless other bands and styles of music - but it should be amended with ‘The Grateful Dead might also lead to excessive tape trading and trips to the post office’.

The first tape was two incomplete sets from 1966 - 7/16 & 7/17 respectively - live from the Fillmore and unfortunately the pusher’s name is lost to the years in between. But I remember they reeked of Nag Champa and neatly written in blue ball point pen was something new — something unknown beyond the copy of Skeletons from the Closet lifted from my mother’s collection. “Big Boss Man”? “Cardboard Cowboy”? “Next Time You See Me”? “He was a Friend of Mine”??? These were not the Grateful Dead songs I was familiar with. Where was “St. Stephen”? “Friend of the Devil”? WHERE IS “TRUCKIN’”??? Who is this guy belting out the blues with husky and gruff voice resonating a bit of danger. He might cut you but just as a warning while he walks off with your old lady - leaving you playing pocket pool the rest of your life. Hey hands outta your pocket son!

It just took a little taste to open the flood gates and it didn’t help that the soundboards of the historic late February and early March 1969 run appeared in the mailbox next. Twenty-six year old acid jams were reigning technicolor sound waves over my bedroom speakers! Hundreds of miles and decades separated me between then and now but it was here and now! (Mom! Dad! Don’t open the door I am busy in here!) Any prior listening habits didn’t matter anymore — I was losing my mind my new hippie friends: Pigpen, Jerry, Phil, Tom, Mickey, Billy, & Bobby! What did matter was when the next tapes would be coming! (Mom - can I borrow your credit card? I am ordering new tapes from Terrapin. Yes, Terrapin like the tortoise. Long story … ok, thanks!) The years started to flush out as bedroom drawers began to overflow while blank and postage deals were replaced with trades. The better the connection the less generations between you and the original reel. The better the connection the more opportunities to snag something not many others had that you could flex for more of those other rarities! Hours were poured over each date while memorizing the j-cards that were filled with wild drawings and cryptic short hand codes of >, //, and f:.

Going to a liberal patchwork and tie dye college in upstate New York only deepened the waters. As soon as I got on campus the levee exploded and new friends were made via tape exchanges and geeked out conversations occurred in circles on the common (You know when Jerry hits that note and its like - OH MAN I KNOW, I KNOW but what about the one from this show? DUDE!). Half way into freshman year we got wind an older head who was ditching his tapes. Fifty cents a piece and you pay the shipping! Beer and smoke money was quickly pinched and pooled together for a money order. A couple weeks later we got an insane box bursting at the seams full of dates, venues, and reels of tape! What else are you going to do but skip classes, gather up your buds, lock the door and cue the decks?

Folks this is where I admit my follies. Ten years ago I had nearly a couple thousand tapes - not to mention just as many CDrs. That is a lot of media and hours hanging over your head when your looking at moving out of state with just enough room in your car for the bare essentials. I loaded up several friends with my choice picks and the rest went into several boxes labeled FREE that were perched on the shelf at the record store I was working at in Rochester, NY. In the end I kept four tapes that I received from one of my best concerts buds, Mira, who had wrapped them lovingly in the brightest tie-dyed j-cards with the setlist beautifully written on the front. Those four tapes were my everywhere-I-go-you-are-coming-too tapes. They were my partners in crime for middle of night road dog sessions as friends slept in the backseat while on tour with Phish. They accompanied me for late night sessions in the art studio with my hands caked in gouache or my eyes going crossed-eyed from staring at the computer screen trying to finish a design. Always a fixture in the front flap of my backpack or front seat of the car — I can rattle you off the set lists without thinking twice!

Of those 360 minutes 180 of those were 7/16/1990 at Buffalo, NY. This show often gets lost amongst the countless other great shows of 1990 (the supposed last great year) and maybe I have an affinity for it because it takes place at the stadium where I saw so many great football games. But if you blocked out the year and the few 1980s songs you would think its a gig from the 1970’s! “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo,” “Mama Tried” > “Mexicali Blues,” “Loose Lucy,” “High Time” and “Don’t Ease Me In” are bundled together in a summer sun scorched first set! The real gem within that set is Brent Mydland’s masterpiece “Blow Away” — it is heartbreak at it’s rawest and sadly he passed away not long after this gig. The second set is a series of >’s as “Sugar Magnolia” opens it up and meanders into a great “Scarlet Begonias” and “Man Smart, Woman Smarter” sandwich. “Truckin’” gets the loudest cheer of the day for the Buffalo line as it plows into the jam and slips into Drums then Space. The band then turns on the afterburners for 45 minutes of relentless jamming as “The Wheel” rolls into “Gimme Some Lovin’”, “Wharf Rat,” “Around & Around” and “Sunshine Daydream.” The night is capped with a beautiful rendition of “Brokedown Palace.”

Soundboards exist of this show but when it comes to the 1990s I love Front of the Board (FOB) audience tapes. Besides being able to feel like your standing amongst a endless sea of fans - the band also sounds more open and alive. Jerry, Bobby and Phil’s strings all breathe a little more freely as Brent’s keyboards fill in the gaps nicely. Mickey and Billy’s drums have that extra oomph of bass and snap of snare too. My choice for this gig is Alabama Bob’s pull from the 18th row so make a little extra wiggle room in your perimeter, grab a beer and block off the next 3 hours!

D. Norsen is an artist and Deadhead living in the suburban limits of Boston, Massachusetts. He writes the Dead Notes column on Aquarium Drunkard along with curating the Grateful Dead Notes tumblr. He is also currently helping the Jerry Garcia Estate dig deep into the visual archive for future shirts and other merchandise. While he still regrets ditching his tape collection he is in the process of inheriting a large collection from an old taper. Karma works in funny ways folks!

St. Francis Duo (Stephen O’Malley and Steve Noble) - St. Francis de Sales Auditorium, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 19, 2014
Yesterday, Sebastian Darkly Petsu shared his thoughts on a 1995 Grateful Dead show. Today, he’s sharing something very different, but equally awesome — his recording of a one-off collaboration between British jazz drummer Steve Noble (Derek Bailey, Peter Brötzmann, Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith) and experimental guitarist-composer Stephen O’Malley, (Sunn0))), Khanate). The performance was part of the New Paths Festival put on by the Ars Nova Workshop. It’s pretty massive, to say the least, with O’Malley conjuring up billowing clouds of ominous sound as Noble thunders away behind him. I love it. You’re going to love it too. Thanks, Sebastian! 

St. Francis Duo (Stephen O’Malley and Steve Noble) - St. Francis de Sales Auditorium, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 19, 2014

Yesterday, Sebastian Darkly Petsu shared his thoughts on a 1995 Grateful Dead show. Today, he’s sharing something very different, but equally awesome — his recording of a one-off collaboration between British jazz drummer Steve Noble (Derek Bailey, Peter Brötzmann, Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith) and experimental guitarist-composer Stephen O’Malley, (Sunn0))), Khanate). The performance was part of the New Paths Festival put on by the Ars Nova Workshop. It’s pretty massive, to say the least, with O’Malley conjuring up billowing clouds of ominous sound as Noble thunders away behind him. I love it. You’re going to love it too. Thanks, Sebastian! 

SUMMER OF DEAD 2014: Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, North Carolina, March 23, 1995
Dig it! Philly taper extraordinaire Sebastian Darkly Petsu (whose Solar Motel Band recordings we hyped endlessly last summer) writes up a show from Jerry’s final days. 
I first heard this Charlotte show via an audience tape in April 1995 and have loved it ever since. Back then, getting a show on tape less than a month after it happened seemed like a high-speed miracle. I was a suburban high school sophomore whose tapes were mostly 8th generation dubs from fatherly senior class Deadheads and a guy at a New Hope, PA flea market. Most of the tapes I was acquiring were the classic shows that adult Deadheads had already had for years. So it was great to hear a current tape of the band.
This show features well-played renditions of 4 new songs that probably would’ve been on the band’s next album and it got me excited for the Dead’s future. This is a go-to show, because it makes me dream of what the Dead could’ve sounded like consistently in the Fall of 1995 and beyond, if Garcia had successfully cleaned himself up. It’s not a perfect performance and the addled Jerry definitely blows some vocals and leads, but overall it’s damn good.
It’s not “man this is so good it sounds like it could be 1970-whatever.” No. The style, setlist, and tones are very much of the 90s, but unlike the many trainwreck shows of the final years, it’s all done with gusto. Perhaps it was the addition of guest/part-time member Bruce Hornsby on piano that pushed everyone else up a notch. Say what you will about Hornsby as a standard bearer of adult-contemporary elevator soundtracks, he was also a great ensemble player with the Dead. His grand piano somehow meshes with Vince Welnick’s awful high-register synth tones to create a very palatable and dense swirl of 176 keys.
The band never fully did justice to “Unbroken Chain” on stage and the long-delayed live debut is something that’s cooler on paper than in your ears. But of the handful of performances the band did during 1995, this second set opener comes closest to capturing the magic of the 1974 studio recording. Lesh’s voice is great in that distinctive foghorn way and Hornsby’s piano adds sparkle. Unfortunately the drummers seem stiff and tentative and Garcia never really grabs the song by the horns, but he still manages to throw in quite a few pretty flourishes.
In the transition between Scarlet->Fire the band takes it way down and holds it down in a lull for a few minutes while Bruce and Vince flutter. Jerry then comes in and rips the top off, diving into the “Fire” theme when you least expect it. Even on the soundboard you can hear the crowd roar and the energy and excitement are sustained for the next 16 minutes. Weir’s “Corrina” got a lot of shit from jaded vets, but I dare you to listen and tell me it doesn’t have a monster groove that keeps the set’s momentum going. All these simple little parts from 7 players mesh wonderfully in it. Coming out of “Corrina,” we get “Mathilda” and it starts out a mess. It sounds like Garcia forces the band into the melody at the beginning, but by the 1:35 mark the whole band is finally on the same page and then they really go for it whole hog. The two minute jam after “Matilda” is just Hornsby and the drummers. Listen to how many damn ideas they squeeze into the length of a punk song before the piano bows out and we get 12 minutes of bash/bang/bubble.
Hornsby initiates a pulse about a minute into “Space” and his pure acoustic piano forms a good base for all the MiDI-ed weirdness the rest of the band throws on top. Hornsby then switches to synth and Welnick holds down the piano for the band’s best-ever version of the funereal ballad “Days Between,” coming out of “Space”’s ether. Everybody except the plodding drummers seems in top form, supporting Garcia’s well-suited croak and moan.
They encore with their final version of the Band’s “The Weight.” It’s a swaying, sing-along affair that fittingly caps off one of the Grateful Dead’s last great shows.
Sebastian Darkly Petsu makes controlled feedback sound art with creatively wired tape decks. He works as a historical tour guide in Philadelphia. He hosts the occasional Double Decker Music Series — mobile concerts on top of tour buses. He often records shows with his little Tascam. He loves the music of Benjamin Britten, Birdie Busch and Burzum. He’s seen 120 Phish shows and counting. He can be reached at sebastianpetsu@gmail.com. 

SUMMER OF DEAD 2014: Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, North Carolina, March 23, 1995

Dig it! Philly taper extraordinaire Sebastian Darkly Petsu (whose Solar Motel Band recordings we hyped endlessly last summer) writes up a show from Jerry’s final days. 

I first heard this Charlotte show via an audience tape in April 1995 and have loved it ever since. Back then, getting a show on tape less than a month after it happened seemed like a high-speed miracle. I was a suburban high school sophomore whose tapes were mostly 8th generation dubs from fatherly senior class Deadheads and a guy at a New Hope, PA flea market. Most of the tapes I was acquiring were the classic shows that adult Deadheads had already had for years. So it was great to hear a current tape of the band.

This show features well-played renditions of 4 new songs that probably would’ve been on the band’s next album and it got me excited for the Dead’s future. This is a go-to show, because it makes me dream of what the Dead could’ve sounded like consistently in the Fall of 1995 and beyond, if Garcia had successfully cleaned himself up. It’s not a perfect performance and the addled Jerry definitely blows some vocals and leads, but overall it’s damn good.

It’s not “man this is so good it sounds like it could be 1970-whatever.” No. The style, setlist, and tones are very much of the 90s, but unlike the many trainwreck shows of the final years, it’s all done with gusto. Perhaps it was the addition of guest/part-time member Bruce Hornsby on piano that pushed everyone else up a notch. Say what you will about Hornsby as a standard bearer of adult-contemporary elevator soundtracks, he was also a great ensemble player with the Dead. His grand piano somehow meshes with Vince Welnick’s awful high-register synth tones to create a very palatable and dense swirl of 176 keys.

The band never fully did justice to “Unbroken Chain” on stage and the long-delayed live debut is something that’s cooler on paper than in your ears. But of the handful of performances the band did during 1995, this second set opener comes closest to capturing the magic of the 1974 studio recording. Lesh’s voice is great in that distinctive foghorn way and Hornsby’s piano adds sparkle. Unfortunately the drummers seem stiff and tentative and Garcia never really grabs the song by the horns, but he still manages to throw in quite a few pretty flourishes.

In the transition between Scarlet->Fire the band takes it way down and holds it down in a lull for a few minutes while Bruce and Vince flutter. Jerry then comes in and rips the top off, diving into the “Fire” theme when you least expect it. Even on the soundboard you can hear the crowd roar and the energy and excitement are sustained for the next 16 minutes. Weir’s “Corrina” got a lot of shit from jaded vets, but I dare you to listen and tell me it doesn’t have a monster groove that keeps the set’s momentum going. All these simple little parts from 7 players mesh wonderfully in it. Coming out of “Corrina,” we get “Mathilda” and it starts out a mess. It sounds like Garcia forces the band into the melody at the beginning, but by the 1:35 mark the whole band is finally on the same page and then they really go for it whole hog. The two minute jam after “Matilda” is just Hornsby and the drummers. Listen to how many damn ideas they squeeze into the length of a punk song before the piano bows out and we get 12 minutes of bash/bang/bubble.

Hornsby initiates a pulse about a minute into “Space” and his pure acoustic piano forms a good base for all the MiDI-ed weirdness the rest of the band throws on top. Hornsby then switches to synth and Welnick holds down the piano for the band’s best-ever version of the funereal ballad “Days Between,” coming out of “Space”’s ether. Everybody except the plodding drummers seems in top form, supporting Garcia’s well-suited croak and moan.

They encore with their final version of the Band’s “The Weight.” It’s a swaying, sing-along affair that fittingly caps off one of the Grateful Dead’s last great shows.

Sebastian Darkly Petsu makes controlled feedback sound art with creatively wired tape decks. He works as a historical tour guide in Philadelphia. He hosts the occasional Double Decker Music Series — mobile concerts on top of tour buses. He often records shows with his little Tascam. He loves the music of Benjamin Britten, Birdie Busch and Burzum. He’s seen 120 Phish shows and counting. He can be reached at sebastianpetsu@gmail.com. 

Neu! - ‘72 Live in Düsseldorf 
Not really a live show, but Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger (along with bassist Eberhard Kranemann) rehearsing in the spring of 1972 for an upcoming tour. A reviewer once called this “the bottom of the krautrock barrel” but whatever, dude. It’s eeeeeeessential! Extracts of the tape showed up on the Neu! box set a few years ago, but this is the complete, of-dubious-legality Captain Trips disc, which popped up briefly in the 1990s. Totally great stuff. Thanks to I Love Total Destruction for posting. 

Neu! - ‘72 Live in Düsseldorf

Not really a live show, but Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger (along with bassist Eberhard Kranemann) rehearsing in the spring of 1972 for an upcoming tour. A reviewer once called this “the bottom of the krautrock barrel” but whatever, dude. It’s eeeeeeessential! Extracts of the tape showed up on the Neu! box set a few years ago, but this is the complete, of-dubious-legality Captain Trips disc, which popped up briefly in the 1990s. Totally great stuff. Thanks to I Love Total Destruction for posting. 

Neil Young & The Stray Gators - Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, January 23, 1973
On The Way Home / Here We Are In The Years / LA / Soldier / Out On The Weekend / Harvest / Old Man / Heart Of Gold / The Loner / Time Fades Away / New Mama / Alabama / Don’t Be Denied / Cinnamon Girl / Lookout Joe / Southern Man / Last Dance / Are You Ready For The Country?
Neil Young - vocals, guitar, keyboards, harmonica Ben Keith - pedal steel guitar, vocals Jack Nitzsche - keyboards Tim Drummond - bass Kenny Buttrey - drums

Neil Young & The Stray Gators - Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, January 23, 1973

On The Way Home / Here We Are In The Years / LA / Soldier / Out On The Weekend / Harvest / Old Man / Heart Of Gold / The Loner / Time Fades Away / New Mama / Alabama / Don’t Be Denied / Cinnamon Girl / Lookout Joe / Southern Man / Last Dance / Are You Ready For The Country?

Neil Young - vocals, guitar, keyboards, harmonica
Ben Keith - pedal steel guitar, vocals
Jack Nitzsche - keyboards
Tim Drummond - bass
Kenny Buttrey - drums

SUMMER OF DEAD 2014: The Orpheum Theatre, San Francisco, California, July 18, 1976
Feel the spirit of ‘76! David Lopez writes up a San Francisco gig. Gotta admit that ‘76 is a blindspot for me to some extent, but this one is sounding great to me. 
In my relatively short but dedicated experience as a Grateful Dead fan I have always held a special fondness for the year 1976. Always in the shadow of the hugely popular 1977, 76 shows have a certain loose and relaxed nature through which the band seems to effortlessly reach unexpected heights of beauty, quite different from the tighter and still brilliant but somehow more predictable sound of 77.
It’s no surprise then that my means of honoring the nineteenth anniversary of Jerry’s passing last Sunday, August 9th was by immersing myself in a 76 show. Having recently read wonders about the six night July run at the Orpheum Theatre, San Francisco, I chose to plunge right into the 7-18 concert.
1976 saw the Dead back on the road after a 20 month hiatus. With drummer Mickey Hart back on the fold and a renewed repertoire full of new material (taken from 1975’s Blues for Allah as well as Garcia’s Reflections and the first album by the Bob Weir- fronted Kingfish), seldom played classics (“Friend of the Devil”, “High Time”, the return of “Cosmic Charlie” and, especially, “St. Stephen”, which was brought back after 5 years of absence to a thunderous crowd reaction at the start of the second set at Boston Music Hall on 6-9) and new arrangements (a disco-ish take on “Dancin’ on the Streets”, the breakneck speed version of “Eyes of the World”), the “new” Grateful Dead also exhibited a renewed energy. After over a year and a half away from the road and freed from the stress and high cost of traveling with their massive Wall of Sound P.A., it was as if they were rediscovering the pleasure of playing together all over again, choosing not to hurry things but gently aiming straight at the stratosphere.
After an East Coast tour in June, the Orpheum concerts were the first shows that the regrouped Dead played at their hometown of San Francisco, and boy did they live up to expectations…
The last night of the run, Sunday 18th, opens with a soaring “Mississippi Half- Step” that anticipates the wonders to come. Beautiful renditions of “Cassidy” and “Row Jimmy” follow, showing the mellower approach of the Dead in 76. Other set 1 highlights include a jammed-out “Scarlet Begonias” that clearly points at the monster improvisations that the song would become famous for the following year when paired with “Fire on the Mountain”, a swinging take on Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried” that Bob dedicates “to our equipment crew”, and an energetic “Music Never Stopped” set closer.
However, the real meat, as usual, lies on the second set. After a couple of new rockers (“Might as Well” and “Samson and Delilah”) and a radiant version of the classic American Beauty ballad “Candyman”, the band launches into Bob’s “Lazy Lightning”. Not one of my favourites or a song that I ever look forward to, this “Lazy Lightning” is nothing short of incendiary, with Jerry soloing all over the place, pushing the longer than usual jam to a strong climax when it finally reaches “Supplication”.
The song ends but Jerry launches straight into “Let it Grow” without a break. The rest of the band seem surprised but they immediately settle into the song’s jazzy groove. The new two drummer arrangement is highlighted by a marching snare during the bridge and the tune develops into a majestic jam that subtly gives way to “Drums”. I really like this short drum duets prior to the “Rhythm Devils” routine of subsequent years but I think that they are best experienced through audience rather than soundboard recordings. Anyway, somebody counts to four and they’re all back into “Let it Grow”, which gently dissolves into a placid and luminous jam. Jerry points towards “Wharf Rat” but they take it easy and choose to explore a beautiful kind of middle ground between both songs for some time until finally completing the fabulous transition into the Skull & Roses classic.
“Wharf Rat” flows with a delicate cadence and I can’t help but think that few singers had a voice that suited this kind of slow, epic ballads as well as Jerry’s. The harmonies are spot on and, after a dramatic pause after the “live the life I should” line, the band returns with a triumphant beat for the “I’ll get up and fly away” refrain. The song leads to a peaceful jam until Jerry and Phil telepathically start playing some typically “Other One”-ish licks. The music then dissolves into a almost “Space” feel, with Keith providing some brilliant counterpoints to Jerry and the drummers adding great subtle details until García brings things up again. The whole band follows him and a second short “Drums” segment gives way to Phil’s earthshaking bass intro to “The Other One”.
After the first verse and a short jam, Phil seems ready to steer the ship back to the harbour and hints at “Stella Blue”, but Jerry is absolutely on fire and doesn’t seem willing to follow him. Instead, he chooses to launch straight into “St. Stephen”, and the moment he plays those iconic first notes the crowd goes berserk. The choice of song catches the others off-guard, causing them to jump into an uncharacteristically slow (even for 1976 standards) tempo that flows with a lazy, almost reggae strut that is brilliantly unique. This transitions gracefully into the waltz segment, highlighted by a gorgeous duet between Jerry and Donna (I’m a big fan of Donna and she sings like an angel throughout this whole show) and then into “Not Fade Away”. Like “Lazy Lightning”, “NFA” is never a tune that I particularly look forward to but this is by no means a by the numbers version. The band is brimming with energy and playfully deconstructs the main rhythm and melody piece by piece until a drum roll leads them perfectly back into “St. Stephen”.
The end of the song gives way to a gleaming take on “The Wheel”, all radiant vocal harmonies and cosmic country licks. “Wheel” concludes with the whole band softly coming down until the music is left suspended only by the thin thread of Jerry’s delicate arpeggios, and then Phil comes thundering back to start “The Other One” again. The second verse goes by rapidly and, after a short jam, Jerry is finally ready to bring things down. There is a loud initial crowd reaction as “The Other One” gently transitions into an awe-inspiring version of “Stella Blue”, but then the whole auditorium falls into dead silence, as if the audience was overwhelmed by the sheer emotional power of Jerry and the band’s delivery. The whole song is brilliantly constructed as a subtle but constant crescendo leading to the climax of the bridge, which never fails to send chills down my spine, and the solo, in which Jerry seems to hit all the right notes. The tune ends on a glorious high and, after a few seconds of silence, Bobby starts “Sugar Magnolia”, a fittingly joyful way to put an end to over an hour and a half of uninterrupted magic. The band comes back for a quick “Johnny B. Goode” encore and Jerry bids the crowd goodnight: “thanks a lot, see y’all later”.
It’s hard to try to describe The Grateful Dead’s music with words. I was born in 1988 in Spain so I never got to see the band live and will never know what it was like to experience a Dead concert, but what I do know is the way that listening to The Grateful Dead makes me feel. I have never heard a band so boiling with ideas and pointing at so many incredible directions at once. The Dead’s approach transformed music into a organic entity that was living and breathing, unpredictable and imperfect as we all are, and overflowing with life and energy. Listening to the Dead jamming transmits a feeling of joy, happiness, comfort and light that I have never found elsewhere, and I will forever be grateful to them for that, as well as thankful that they chose to let it all be recorded so that the ones who, like myself, weren’t lucky enough to live those times can still enjoy the spellbinding beauty that they created on nights like July 18th 1976.
David Lopez of Madrid, Spain, blogs over at Shakin’ Street, where he writes articles about his favourite artists. He also plays bass in a hard psych band called Bubble Bones. 

SUMMER OF DEAD 2014: The Orpheum Theatre, San Francisco, California, July 18, 1976

Feel the spirit of ‘76! David Lopez writes up a San Francisco gig. Gotta admit that ‘76 is a blindspot for me to some extent, but this one is sounding great to me. 

In my relatively short but dedicated experience as a Grateful Dead fan I have always held a special fondness for the year 1976. Always in the shadow of the hugely popular 1977, 76 shows have a certain loose and relaxed nature through which the band seems to effortlessly reach unexpected heights of beauty, quite different from the tighter and still brilliant but somehow more predictable sound of 77.

It’s no surprise then that my means of honoring the nineteenth anniversary of Jerry’s passing last Sunday, August 9th was by immersing myself in a 76 show. Having recently read wonders about the six night July run at the Orpheum Theatre, San Francisco, I chose to plunge right into the 7-18 concert.

1976 saw the Dead back on the road after a 20 month hiatus. With drummer Mickey Hart back on the fold and a renewed repertoire full of new material (taken from 1975’s Blues for Allah as well as Garcia’s Reflections and the first album by the Bob Weir- fronted Kingfish), seldom played classics (“Friend of the Devil”, “High Time”, the return of “Cosmic Charlie” and, especially, “St. Stephen”, which was brought back after 5 years of absence to a thunderous crowd reaction at the start of the second set at Boston Music Hall on 6-9) and new arrangements (a disco-ish take on “Dancin’ on the Streets”, the breakneck speed version of “Eyes of the World”), the “new” Grateful Dead also exhibited a renewed energy. After over a year and a half away from the road and freed from the stress and high cost of traveling with their massive Wall of Sound P.A., it was as if they were rediscovering the pleasure of playing together all over again, choosing not to hurry things but gently aiming straight at the stratosphere.

After an East Coast tour in June, the Orpheum concerts were the first shows that the regrouped Dead played at their hometown of San Francisco, and boy did they live up to expectations…

The last night of the run, Sunday 18th, opens with a soaring “Mississippi Half- Step” that anticipates the wonders to come. Beautiful renditions of “Cassidy” and “Row Jimmy” follow, showing the mellower approach of the Dead in 76. Other set 1 highlights include a jammed-out “Scarlet Begonias” that clearly points at the monster improvisations that the song would become famous for the following year when paired with “Fire on the Mountain”, a swinging take on Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried” that Bob dedicates “to our equipment crew”, and an energetic “Music Never Stopped” set closer.

However, the real meat, as usual, lies on the second set. After a couple of new rockers (“Might as Well” and “Samson and Delilah”) and a radiant version of the classic American Beauty ballad “Candyman”, the band launches into Bob’s “Lazy Lightning”. Not one of my favourites or a song that I ever look forward to, this “Lazy Lightning” is nothing short of incendiary, with Jerry soloing all over the place, pushing the longer than usual jam to a strong climax when it finally reaches “Supplication”.

The song ends but Jerry launches straight into “Let it Grow” without a break. The rest of the band seem surprised but they immediately settle into the song’s jazzy groove. The new two drummer arrangement is highlighted by a marching snare during the bridge and the tune develops into a majestic jam that subtly gives way to “Drums”. I really like this short drum duets prior to the “Rhythm Devils” routine of subsequent years but I think that they are best experienced through audience rather than soundboard recordings. Anyway, somebody counts to four and they’re all back into “Let it Grow”, which gently dissolves into a placid and luminous jam. Jerry points towards “Wharf Rat” but they take it easy and choose to explore a beautiful kind of middle ground between both songs for some time until finally completing the fabulous transition into the Skull & Roses classic.

“Wharf Rat” flows with a delicate cadence and I can’t help but think that few singers had a voice that suited this kind of slow, epic ballads as well as Jerry’s. The harmonies are spot on and, after a dramatic pause after the “live the life I should” line, the band returns with a triumphant beat for the “I’ll get up and fly away” refrain. The song leads to a peaceful jam until Jerry and Phil telepathically start playing some typically “Other One”-ish licks. The music then dissolves into a almost “Space” feel, with Keith providing some brilliant counterpoints to Jerry and the drummers adding great subtle details until García brings things up again. The whole band follows him and a second short “Drums” segment gives way to Phil’s earthshaking bass intro to “The Other One”.

After the first verse and a short jam, Phil seems ready to steer the ship back to the harbour and hints at “Stella Blue”, but Jerry is absolutely on fire and doesn’t seem willing to follow him. Instead, he chooses to launch straight into “St. Stephen”, and the moment he plays those iconic first notes the crowd goes berserk. The choice of song catches the others off-guard, causing them to jump into an uncharacteristically slow (even for 1976 standards) tempo that flows with a lazy, almost reggae strut that is brilliantly unique. This transitions gracefully into the waltz segment, highlighted by a gorgeous duet between Jerry and Donna (I’m a big fan of Donna and she sings like an angel throughout this whole show) and then into “Not Fade Away”. Like “Lazy Lightning”, “NFA” is never a tune that I particularly look forward to but this is by no means a by the numbers version. The band is brimming with energy and playfully deconstructs the main rhythm and melody piece by piece until a drum roll leads them perfectly back into “St. Stephen”.

The end of the song gives way to a gleaming take on “The Wheel”, all radiant vocal harmonies and cosmic country licks. “Wheel” concludes with the whole band softly coming down until the music is left suspended only by the thin thread of Jerry’s delicate arpeggios, and then Phil comes thundering back to start “The Other One” again. The second verse goes by rapidly and, after a short jam, Jerry is finally ready to bring things down. There is a loud initial crowd reaction as “The Other One” gently transitions into an awe-inspiring version of “Stella Blue”, but then the whole auditorium falls into dead silence, as if the audience was overwhelmed by the sheer emotional power of Jerry and the band’s delivery. The whole song is brilliantly constructed as a subtle but constant crescendo leading to the climax of the bridge, which never fails to send chills down my spine, and the solo, in which Jerry seems to hit all the right notes. The tune ends on a glorious high and, after a few seconds of silence, Bobby starts “Sugar Magnolia”, a fittingly joyful way to put an end to over an hour and a half of uninterrupted magic. The band comes back for a quick “Johnny B. Goode” encore and Jerry bids the crowd goodnight: “thanks a lot, see y’all later”.

It’s hard to try to describe The Grateful Dead’s music with words. I was born in 1988 in Spain so I never got to see the band live and will never know what it was like to experience a Dead concert, but what I do know is the way that listening to The Grateful Dead makes me feel. I have never heard a band so boiling with ideas and pointing at so many incredible directions at once. The Dead’s approach transformed music into a organic entity that was living and breathing, unpredictable and imperfect as we all are, and overflowing with life and energy. Listening to the Dead jamming transmits a feeling of joy, happiness, comfort and light that I have never found elsewhere, and I will forever be grateful to them for that, as well as thankful that they chose to let it all be recorded so that the ones who, like myself, weren’t lucky enough to live those times can still enjoy the spellbinding beauty that they created on nights like July 18th 1976.

David Lopez of Madrid, Spain, blogs over at Shakin’ Street, where he writes articles about his favourite artists. He also plays bass in a hard psych band called Bubble Bones