Guided By Voices - The Middle East, Boston, Massachusetts, November 3, 1994
1. A Salty Salute 2. Pimple Zoo 3. Matter Eater Lad 4. Deathtrot And Warlock Riding A Rooster 5. Superwhore 6. Exit Flagger 7. Game Of Pricks 8. Hot Freaks 9. My Son Cool 10. Blimps Go 90 11. Gold Star For Robot Boy 12. The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory 13. Shocker In Gloomtown 14. Striped White Jets 15. Yours To Keep/Echos Myron 16. Watch Me Jumpstart 17. My Valuable Hunting Knife 18. Tractor Rape Chain 19. 14 Cheerleader Coldfront 20. Break Even 21. Motor Away 22. Closer You Are 23. Non-Absorbing 24. My Impression Now 25. Always Crush Me 26. Lethargy 27. Pantherz 28. I Am A Scientist
Encore: 29. Weed King 30. Smothered In Hugs 31. Buzzards And Dreadful Crows

Guided By Voices - The Middle East, Boston, Massachusetts, November 3, 1994

1. A Salty Salute 2. Pimple Zoo 3. Matter Eater Lad 4. Deathtrot And Warlock Riding A Rooster 5. Superwhore 6. Exit Flagger 7. Game Of Pricks 8. Hot Freaks 9. My Son Cool 10. Blimps Go 90 11. Gold Star For Robot Boy 12. The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory 13. Shocker In Gloomtown 14. Striped White Jets 15. Yours To Keep/Echos Myron 16. Watch Me Jumpstart 17. My Valuable Hunting Knife 18. Tractor Rape Chain 19. 14 Cheerleader Coldfront 20. Break Even 21. Motor Away 22. Closer You Are 23. Non-Absorbing 24. My Impression Now 25. Always Crush Me 26. Lethargy 27. Pantherz 28. I Am A Scientist

Encore: 29. Weed King 30. Smothered In Hugs 31. Buzzards And Dreadful Crows

Marisa Anderson - Tiny Desk Concert
Can’t get enough of Marisa Anderson’s solo guitar genius. Dig this recent Tiny Desk concert!
Lars sez: Marisa Anderson knows where American guitar music has been and where it is now, and probably possesses an inkling of where it can go. She’s studied the history and musical nuance of blues, country and folk music through and through, and ingests it all in a style that’s as raw as it true. But mostly, Anderson just wants to kick up some dirt — which isn’t easy here, given that the NPR Music offices are relatively clean. (Mind the towering stacks of CDs, though. They could topple over at any time.)

Marisa Anderson - Tiny Desk Concert

Can’t get enough of Marisa Anderson’s solo guitar genius. Dig this recent Tiny Desk concert!

Lars sez: Marisa Anderson knows where American guitar music has been and where it is now, and probably possesses an inkling of where it can go. She’s studied the history and musical nuance of blues, country and folk music through and through, and ingests it all in a style that’s as raw as it true. But mostly, Anderson just wants to kick up some dirt — which isn’t easy here, given that the NPR Music offices are relatively clean. (Mind the towering stacks of CDs, though. They could topple over at any time.)

"Blues In The Afternoon" - The Donkeys

Hey, you guys! Tomorrow night, July 21, my band Forces At Work is playing at the Hi-Dive in Denver, Colorado. What a treat. We’re opening for The Donkeys, who are totally great. Spent the morning listening to their new one, Ride The Black Wave, and it is a gorgeous piece of work. Creamy harmonies, excellent guitar tones, a wide range of styles, a distinctly SoCal vibe…what more do you need? This tune above is a favorite — just under two minutes of dreamy pop perfection. If you’re anywhere near The Mile High City, come on out! 

Lewis Reed - Copyright Demo, May 1965
Something interesting popped up on Lou Reed’s Facebook page this week: 
We thought it’d be cool to share a photograph of one of the more “mythical” artifacts of Lou and the VU. 
Lou mentioned this in an interview a while back (Q Magazine in 1996, I think), that he’d recently unearthed a demo he had mailed to himself in 1965, the reason for which is known as “the poor man’s copyright.” 
In classic Lou style, he had this to say about the discovery: “I’m not going to listen to it. I don’t want to hear these things any more.” 
Well, here’s what it looks like. And no, we haven’t opened it.
So! What do you think is on it? Judging from the May postmark, my bet is that it’s this demo reel Lou recorded that month (with John Cale in tow) at Pickwick’s studios in Queens. Info via the VU Web page: 
May 11, 1965John Cale - Lou Reed - Jerry Vance or Jimmie Sims 
Buzz Buzz Buzz (one complete take + a couple of attempts breaking down) Why Don’t You Smile Now Heroin (take 1) Heroin (take 2) Untitled Piano Piece 1 Untitled Piano Piece 1
Here’s what VU scholar Richie Unterberger has to say about the demo:
Never circulated even on bootleg, but heard by this author, these were done for Pickwick Records. Of by far the most note are the first two known recordings of “Heroin,” as two takes done right each other. Though with more of a Dylanesque talking folk-blues feel than the version the Velvet Underground would record for their first album about a year later (and with yet more of a folk-blues feel than the sparse July 1965 demo on the Peel Slowly and See box set), the lyrics are even at this early stage virtually identical, the arrangement even including the same accelerating tempos. Of lesser but certainly considerable interest, the tape also includes a Reed version of “Why Don’t You Smile Now,” a song he and John Cale were credited (along with other Pickwick staff songwriters) with writing that was covered on mid-1960s singles by the All Night Workers and the Downliners Sect. Also on the tape is a relatively trivial Reed tune titled “Buzz Buzz Buzz” that bears slight similarities to Chuck Berry’s “Memphis,” and an untitled John Cale solo piano instrumental that sounds much like the piano part he plays on “All Tomorrow’s Parties.”
You can actually hear one of those “Heroin” takes — it was played at Lou’s memorial service last year. But I don’t think anything else has surfaced. And hey, I could be totally wrong and this box could contain something else entirely. Maybe the mythical “Never Get Emotionally Involved with a Man, Woman, Beast or Child”? 
Let’s open the box! 

Lewis Reed - Copyright Demo, May 1965

Something interesting popped up on Lou Reed’s Facebook page this week: 

We thought it’d be cool to share a photograph of one of the more “mythical” artifacts of Lou and the VU.

Lou mentioned this in an interview a while back (Q Magazine in 1996, I think), that he’d recently unearthed a demo he had mailed to himself in 1965, the reason for which is known as “the poor man’s copyright.”

In classic Lou style, he had this to say about the discovery: “I’m not going to listen to it. I don’t want to hear these things any more.”

Well, here’s what it looks like. And no, we haven’t opened it.

So! What do you think is on it? Judging from the May postmark, my bet is that it’s this demo reel Lou recorded that month (with John Cale in tow) at Pickwick’s studios in Queens. Info via the VU Web page

May 11, 1965
John Cale - Lou Reed - Jerry Vance or Jimmie Sims

Buzz Buzz Buzz (one complete take + a couple of attempts breaking down)
Why Don’t You Smile Now
Heroin (take 1)
Heroin (take 2)
Untitled Piano Piece 1 
Untitled Piano Piece 1

Here’s what VU scholar Richie Unterberger has to say about the demo:

Never circulated even on bootleg, but heard by this author, these were done for Pickwick Records. Of by far the most note are the first two known recordings of “Heroin,” as two takes done right each other. Though with more of a Dylanesque talking folk-blues feel than the version the Velvet Underground would record for their first album about a year later (and with yet more of a folk-blues feel than the sparse July 1965 demo on the Peel Slowly and See box set), the lyrics are even at this early stage virtually identical, the arrangement even including the same accelerating tempos. Of lesser but certainly considerable interest, the tape also includes a Reed version of “Why Don’t You Smile Now,” a song he and John Cale were credited (along with other Pickwick staff songwriters) with writing that was covered on mid-1960s singles by the All Night Workers and the Downliners Sect. Also on the tape is a relatively trivial Reed tune titled “Buzz Buzz Buzz” that bears slight similarities to Chuck Berry’s “Memphis,” and an untitled John Cale solo piano instrumental that sounds much like the piano part he plays on “All Tomorrow’s Parties.”

You can actually hear one of those “Heroin” takes — it was played at Lou’s memorial service last year. But I don’t think anything else has surfaced. And hey, I could be totally wrong and this box could contain something else entirely. Maybe the mythical “Never Get Emotionally Involved with a Man, Woman, Beast or Child”? 

Let’s open the box! 

Jim O’Rourke - Fever Shindaita, Tokyo, Japan, June 6, 2014 [Part 1, Part 2]
Every six months or so, I end up going on a “What Is Jim O’Rourke Up To Now?” quest. He’s still in Japan. He’s putting out some very cool music, both old and new, on Bandcamp. He’s still got that green sweater. And last month, he played this show! It is fantastic! Seriously. The set begins with Jim kicking up a beautiful, mighty drone. He’s then joined by a full band (drums, bass, keyboard, violin) and things get kinda Krautrockin’. To cap it all off, they segue into a wonderful rendition of “There’s Hell In Hello, But More In Goodbye,” from O’Rourke’s masterpiece, Bad Timing. O’Yeah! 

Jim O’Rourke - Fever Shindaita, Tokyo, Japan, June 6, 2014 [Part 1, Part 2]

Every six months or so, I end up going on a “What Is Jim O’Rourke Up To Now?” quest. He’s still in Japan. He’s putting out some very cool music, both old and new, on Bandcamp. He’s still got that green sweater. And last month, he played this show! It is fantastic! Seriously. The set begins with Jim kicking up a beautiful, mighty drone. He’s then joined by a full band (drums, bass, keyboard, violin) and things get kinda Krautrockin’. To cap it all off, they segue into a wonderful rendition of “There’s Hell In Hello, But More In Goodbye,” from O’Rourke’s masterpiece, Bad Timing. O’Yeah! 

Keith Jarrett, Charlie Haden & Paul Motian - Jazz Fest, Székesfehérvár, Hungary, June 3, 1972
I’ve been binging on Charlie Haden a bit for the last week. The guy had such a wide ranging career! So many records I’ve yet to hear. This FM broadcast from his time with Keith Jarrett and Paul Motian is a joy to listen to. The musicians sound like they’re having a blast. Big O also has an equally good recording from a night in Paris on the same tour.
I strongly suggest you head over to Ethan Iverson’s Do The Math blog for a host of Haden-related material, including some very touching tributes from the bassist’s fellow musicians.  
I especially like this bit from an interview a few years back: 
[W]hen I arrived in L.A. in 1956, I went to hear the Miles Davis quintet. Man! You could sit in front of these guys and feel the power. The feeling of spontaneity from each musician allied with the technical part: the harmony, the voicings, the cymbals, the bass… together, it could have generated electricity. I know if I had gotten to sit in front of Bird, Bud Powell, and Fats Navarro, it would have been the same power. 
So, I was watching Paul Chambers to see if he had tears in eyes. It looked like he did. He looked so great playing, man. Then, when the set was over, he came right over to my table. “Man, you are looking at me the whole time!” 
I told my name, and that I was a bass player, and that I loved his playing, and that in every picture I had seen of him and on stage tonight it looked like there were tears in his eyes. 
He looked at me for a moment, and said, “I do. I cry.” 
I said, “Man! That is so great!”

Keith Jarrett, Charlie Haden & Paul Motian - Jazz Fest, Székesfehérvár, Hungary, June 3, 1972

I’ve been binging on Charlie Haden a bit for the last week. The guy had such a wide ranging career! So many records I’ve yet to hear. This FM broadcast from his time with Keith Jarrett and Paul Motian is a joy to listen to. The musicians sound like they’re having a blast. Big O also has an equally good recording from a night in Paris on the same tour.

I strongly suggest you head over to Ethan Iverson’s Do The Math blog for a host of Haden-related material, including some very touching tributes from the bassist’s fellow musicians.  

I especially like this bit from an interview a few years back: 

[W]hen I arrived in L.A. in 1956, I went to hear the Miles Davis quintet. Man! You could sit in front of these guys and feel the power. The feeling of spontaneity from each musician allied with the technical part: the harmony, the voicings, the cymbals, the bass… together, it could have generated electricity. I know if I had gotten to sit in front of Bird, Bud Powell, and Fats Navarro, it would have been the same power.

So, I was watching Paul Chambers to see if he had tears in eyes. It looked like he did. He looked so great playing, man. Then, when the set was over, he came right over to my table. “Man, you are looking at me the whole time!”

I told my name, and that I was a bass player, and that I loved his playing, and that in every picture I had seen of him and on stage tonight it looked like there were tears in his eyes.

He looked at me for a moment, and said, “I do. I cry.”

I said, “Man! That is so great!”

SUMMER OF DEAD 2014: Wembley Empire Pool, London, England, April 8, 1972
After some time in the 1980s, Jacob King takes us back to ‘72. This one was released officially; you can check it on your streaming service of choice. But I’ve included some highlights below so you can dive into Wembley Pool. 
This offering from the Dead’s famed Europe ‘72 tour is positively smoking as the band rips through classics, works through newer numbers, and then splits everything wide open in the second set with a massive “Dark Star” > “Sugar Magnolia” > “Caution.”
The first sets for most of the Euro ‘72 tour had a fairly standard set of songs but being that 4/8/72 was only the second night of the tour the band seems fresh and hungry. My money is on opener “Bertha” which blazes into an ascension of spiraling guitar lines and propulsive rhythms from Lesh and Kreutzmann. Another barn-burner comes later in the set with “Cumberland Blues.” Nothing is ever perfect in Dead world but this “Cumberland” comes close to everything one could want from the band in under six minutes. Their ability to mine an old, weird, American sound and turn it inside out on itself is breathtaking. It’s no surprise they put it on the official Europe 72 release. It’s a ripper.
Other first set highlights include a compact 11m “Playing In The Band" that only hints at the direction they would take the number by the end of ‘72. I’ve always dug how the PiTB’s from this tour don’t sprawl as much as they do shimmer. As the band launches into the jam Weir’s chords gently prod the band forward as Jerry’s guitar runs circles. By 6m into the track this thing is really vibrating and a minute later Jerry brings it all to a climax in a cloud of shrilled notes and slight dissonance.
No surprise that it’s the second set where the really jams fly. Hard to say if I have a favorite “Dark Star" but this one is certainly up there. The track opens with nearly 10m of exploratory black hole jamming. By 8m30s Jerry has the guitar screaming and probably freaking out a few heads who took too many tabs. The subsequent comedown is a subterranean groove that gives everyone a chance to exhale, slightly. (To think they haven’t even sung the lyrics of the song yet.) After the band settles down enough to sing the lyrics the group explodes into dissonance (the kind of stuff I like to give to the uninitiated who think the Dead are soft or something) and into a number of melodic and not so melodic jams that Kreutzmann expertly molds. I really admire Kreutzmann’s restraint here; he knows just when to ride the cymbals or when to coming crashing in to help give life to what the rest of the band is mixing together. If this "Dark Star" had ended with what seems like a final squall of noise, I would have said, as the Jews say, "dayenu." Instead, the band bursts into a rollicking "Mind Left Body" jam that holds off the oncoming "Sugar Magnolia" for a few more blissful minutes. That latter is lots of fun, as is the "Caution" that follows it. Bonus that Pigpen throws in some harmonica in the back half of "Caution."
It’s a real treat when everything clicks, even more so when it clicks for nearly an hour of non-stop playing as heard in this “Dark Star” > “Sugar Magnolia” > “Caution.” Dig it. This show seems to now be on Spotify so no excuses for not checking this slab of ‘72 out.
Jake King is a video producer living in Brooklyn, NY. You can find him on twitter @cptblicero tweeting too much of nothing.

SUMMER OF DEAD 2014: Wembley Empire Pool, London, England, April 8, 1972

After some time in the 1980s, Jacob King takes us back to ‘72. This one was released officially; you can check it on your streaming service of choice. But I’ve included some highlights below so you can dive into Wembley Pool. 

This offering from the Dead’s famed Europe ‘72 tour is positively smoking as the band rips through classics, works through newer numbers, and then splits everything wide open in the second set with a massive “Dark Star” > “Sugar Magnolia” > “Caution.”

The first sets for most of the Euro ‘72 tour had a fairly standard set of songs but being that 4/8/72 was only the second night of the tour the band seems fresh and hungry. My money is on opener “Bertha” which blazes into an ascension of spiraling guitar lines and propulsive rhythms from Lesh and Kreutzmann. Another barn-burner comes later in the set with “Cumberland Blues.” Nothing is ever perfect in Dead world but this “Cumberland” comes close to everything one could want from the band in under six minutes. Their ability to mine an old, weird, American sound and turn it inside out on itself is breathtaking. It’s no surprise they put it on the official Europe 72 release. It’s a ripper.

Other first set highlights include a compact 11m “Playing In The Band" that only hints at the direction they would take the number by the end of ‘72. I’ve always dug how the PiTB’s from this tour don’t sprawl as much as they do shimmer. As the band launches into the jam Weir’s chords gently prod the band forward as Jerry’s guitar runs circles. By 6m into the track this thing is really vibrating and a minute later Jerry brings it all to a climax in a cloud of shrilled notes and slight dissonance.

No surprise that it’s the second set where the really jams fly. Hard to say if I have a favorite “Dark Star" but this one is certainly up there. The track opens with nearly 10m of exploratory black hole jamming. By 8m30s Jerry has the guitar screaming and probably freaking out a few heads who took too many tabs. The subsequent comedown is a subterranean groove that gives everyone a chance to exhale, slightly. (To think they haven’t even sung the lyrics of the song yet.) After the band settles down enough to sing the lyrics the group explodes into dissonance (the kind of stuff I like to give to the uninitiated who think the Dead are soft or something) and into a number of melodic and not so melodic jams that Kreutzmann expertly molds. I really admire Kreutzmann’s restraint here; he knows just when to ride the cymbals or when to coming crashing in to help give life to what the rest of the band is mixing together. If this "Dark Star" had ended with what seems like a final squall of noise, I would have said, as the Jews say, "dayenu." Instead, the band bursts into a rollicking "Mind Left Body" jam that holds off the oncoming "Sugar Magnolia" for a few more blissful minutes. That latter is lots of fun, as is the "Caution" that follows it. Bonus that Pigpen throws in some harmonica in the back half of "Caution."

It’s a real treat when everything clicks, even more so when it clicks for nearly an hour of non-stop playing as heard in this “Dark Star” > “Sugar Magnolia” > “Caution.” Dig it. This show seems to now be on Spotify so no excuses for not checking this slab of ‘72 out.

Jake King is a video producer living in Brooklyn, NY. You can find him on twitter @cptblicero tweeting too much of nothing.

Daniel Bachman - Parc de la Cure D’air, Paris, France, June 14, 2014
I’ve been fairly effusive about Daniel Bachman’s brand of guitar soli genius over the past year-and-a-half or so — but the guy just keeps getting better. You’ll just have to trust me when I say that his latest, Orange Co. Serenade, is the guitarist’s best LP yet. [Or you can go listen for yourself at The Fader]. It’s a wonderful, assured recording that splits the difference between Bachman’s love of timeworn, old-timey melodies and dronier, more “out” sounds. The album kicks off with the latter, as a single organ chord blends with a tangle of gloriously psychedelic guitar strings. But you’ll find plenty of more straightforward moments as well, from the meditative, lovely “Coming Home” to the big riffs of “Little Lady Blues.” The compositions feel a bit more deliberate, the transitions ever more masterful on Orange Co. Serenade. It’s out today. Buy it. You’re going to love it. 
As an added bonus, I’ve got this extremely great live recording of Dan in Paris last month, featuring some of the new album, a few older tracks and a sneak peek at the man’s next album, out sometime in the near future on Three Lobed Recordings. I especially love the extended, untitled piece that kicks the whole thing off. 

Daniel Bachman - Parc de la Cure D’air, Paris, France, June 14, 2014

I’ve been fairly effusive about Daniel Bachman’s brand of guitar soli genius over the past year-and-a-half or so — but the guy just keeps getting better. You’ll just have to trust me when I say that his latest, Orange Co. Serenade, is the guitarist’s best LP yet. [Or you can go listen for yourself at The Fader]. It’s a wonderful, assured recording that splits the difference between Bachman’s love of timeworn, old-timey melodies and dronier, more “out” sounds. The album kicks off with the latter, as a single organ chord blends with a tangle of gloriously psychedelic guitar strings. But you’ll find plenty of more straightforward moments as well, from the meditative, lovely “Coming Home” to the big riffs of “Little Lady Blues.” The compositions feel a bit more deliberate, the transitions ever more masterful on Orange Co. Serenade. It’s out today. Buy it. You’re going to love it. 

As an added bonus, I’ve got this extremely great live recording of Dan in Paris last month, featuring some of the new album, a few older tracks and a sneak peek at the man’s next album, out sometime in the near future on Three Lobed Recordings. I especially love the extended, untitled piece that kicks the whole thing off. 

The Ramones - Whiskey A Go Go, Los Angeles, California, October 21, 1977
Hey ho! In honor of Tommy Ramone’s recent passing, I wrote up this thing for Pitchfork: The CBGB Beat: Five Drummers Who Powered The NYC Punk Explosion. With the exception of Tommy now, all of these guys are still with us (and still working!). I had the chance to see Clem Burke in action a few years back and the dude is just a stunning drummer. Go see him if you can. In the meantime, you can check out more vintage live Ramones action via Big O. Let’s go! 

The Ramones - Whiskey A Go Go, Los Angeles, California, October 21, 1977

Hey ho! In honor of Tommy Ramone’s recent passing, I wrote up this thing for Pitchfork: The CBGB Beat: Five Drummers Who Powered The NYC Punk Explosion. With the exception of Tommy now, all of these guys are still with us (and still working!). I had the chance to see Clem Burke in action a few years back and the dude is just a stunning drummer. Go see him if you can. In the meantime, you can check out more vintage live Ramones action via Big O. Let’s go! 

SUMMER OF DEAD 2014: Oxford Plains Speedway, Oxford, Maine, July 2 and July 3, 1988 
The Summer of Dead and summer camp! Buzz Poole looks back on 1988. 
In the summer of 1988 I was 11 and spent a month at a sleepaway camp in Nobleboro, Maine. It was great – we swam in the lake, camped out and climbed Mt. Washington, shot rifles, and goofed off in the ways boys do when they haven’t reached puberty but can sense it approaching. I spent three summers going to this camp and those month-long stints made countless impressions on me that I can track to this day. I’m not sure I can credit summer camp for making me a Deadhead, but even before I knew anything about the Grateful Dead I received an unforgettable lesson in just how important the band was in the lives of its fans.
That summer, the Dead wrapped up its East Coast summer tour with two nights, July 2nd and 3rd, at Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford, Maine. By all accounts, and as the recordings confirm, the shows oozed carefree summer attitude enhanced by the rural setting, about an hour northwest of Portland, creeping up on the New Hampshire border and the White Mountains. Of course, I wasn’t there, but I did watch, along with the rest of the camp, a swimming race in the lake between counselors vying for an extra ticket that had become available.
These guys were old in my eyes. They were in college, grew facial hair, and had sex. I don’t remember a jerk among them. Sitting around campfires or killing time during a downpour, we’d talk about all sorts of stuff – girls, family, sports – but they weren’t pontificating about their favorite art house films or the bands they listened to. We were kids after all. Knowing what I know today, though, these guys were on the crunchy side, happy to spend their summers introducing a bunch of rambunctious boys to the joys and hardships of the wilderness.
So they we all were, gathered down at the lake to watch a bunch of counselors, with nicknames like Pothole (when not out on a camping trip he taught pottery classes), get really riled up to win the opportunity to go see this band with a recent hit song and, apparently, a devoted fan base. The winner was one of two brothers who both worked at the camp. I’ll never forget his smile. Back then I didn’t have the right words for it, other than “happy” and “big.” But his smile more closely resembled religious fervor or tripped-out bliss, a Cheshire cat grin to be sure.
Oxford is about eighty miles from Nobleboro and it just so happens that I pass through there a few times a year when on my way to visit family. Route 26 is a mostly two-lane road that hasn’t changed much since 1988. It doesn’t matter the time of year, every time I pass by the rickety-looking stadium I think back on that day of the race in the lake and how badly these guys wanted to see a band, something I came to understand and appreciate about five years later.
When I listen to the shows now, especially July 2nd, I almost feel like I was there, as if being in the state at that time, and having watched this race, and still passing by the stadium make me a part of those concerts by some cosmic proxy. It’s absurd, I know, but it’s real to me, which is all that really matters. I’ve stopped and walked the empty dust and gravel parking lot and imagined a summer evening and a relaxed “Iko Iko” opener bubbling out over the grandstands, and pondered the beam-heavy, synthesized soundscapes of Drums and Space climbing into the night sky over such a sparsely populated region.
I can’t tell you the first time I listened to these shows, certainly not until the mid ‘90s, but even without hearing them until years after they happened, there’s just something about them that has been with me for twenty-six years, in the same way that everything about my first Dead show in 1993 has stuck with me since, and in a way explained quite a bit about that race in the lake. I can’t explain it better than this, but since the Grateful Dead defy explanation on so many levels, it strikes me as just about perfect.
Buzz Poole is writing a 33 1/3 about Workingman’s Dead. Keep up with him @BuzzPoole.

SUMMER OF DEAD 2014: Oxford Plains Speedway, Oxford, Maine, July 2 and July 3, 1988 

The Summer of Dead and summer camp! Buzz Poole looks back on 1988. 

In the summer of 1988 I was 11 and spent a month at a sleepaway camp in Nobleboro, Maine. It was great – we swam in the lake, camped out and climbed Mt. Washington, shot rifles, and goofed off in the ways boys do when they haven’t reached puberty but can sense it approaching. I spent three summers going to this camp and those month-long stints made countless impressions on me that I can track to this day. I’m not sure I can credit summer camp for making me a Deadhead, but even before I knew anything about the Grateful Dead I received an unforgettable lesson in just how important the band was in the lives of its fans.

That summer, the Dead wrapped up its East Coast summer tour with two nights, July 2nd and 3rd, at Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford, Maine. By all accounts, and as the recordings confirm, the shows oozed carefree summer attitude enhanced by the rural setting, about an hour northwest of Portland, creeping up on the New Hampshire border and the White Mountains. Of course, I wasn’t there, but I did watch, along with the rest of the camp, a swimming race in the lake between counselors vying for an extra ticket that had become available.

These guys were old in my eyes. They were in college, grew facial hair, and had sex. I don’t remember a jerk among them. Sitting around campfires or killing time during a downpour, we’d talk about all sorts of stuff – girls, family, sports – but they weren’t pontificating about their favorite art house films or the bands they listened to. We were kids after all. Knowing what I know today, though, these guys were on the crunchy side, happy to spend their summers introducing a bunch of rambunctious boys to the joys and hardships of the wilderness.

So they we all were, gathered down at the lake to watch a bunch of counselors, with nicknames like Pothole (when not out on a camping trip he taught pottery classes), get really riled up to win the opportunity to go see this band with a recent hit song and, apparently, a devoted fan base. The winner was one of two brothers who both worked at the camp. I’ll never forget his smile. Back then I didn’t have the right words for it, other than “happy” and “big.” But his smile more closely resembled religious fervor or tripped-out bliss, a Cheshire cat grin to be sure.

Oxford is about eighty miles from Nobleboro and it just so happens that I pass through there a few times a year when on my way to visit family. Route 26 is a mostly two-lane road that hasn’t changed much since 1988. It doesn’t matter the time of year, every time I pass by the rickety-looking stadium I think back on that day of the race in the lake and how badly these guys wanted to see a band, something I came to understand and appreciate about five years later.

When I listen to the shows now, especially July 2nd, I almost feel like I was there, as if being in the state at that time, and having watched this race, and still passing by the stadium make me a part of those concerts by some cosmic proxy. It’s absurd, I know, but it’s real to me, which is all that really matters. I’ve stopped and walked the empty dust and gravel parking lot and imagined a summer evening and a relaxed “Iko Iko” opener bubbling out over the grandstands, and pondered the beam-heavy, synthesized soundscapes of Drums and Space climbing into the night sky over such a sparsely populated region.

I can’t tell you the first time I listened to these shows, certainly not until the mid ‘90s, but even without hearing them until years after they happened, there’s just something about them that has been with me for twenty-six years, in the same way that everything about my first Dead show in 1993 has stuck with me since, and in a way explained quite a bit about that race in the lake. I can’t explain it better than this, but since the Grateful Dead defy explanation on so many levels, it strikes me as just about perfect.

Buzz Poole is writing a 33 1/3 about Workingman’s Dead. Keep up with him @BuzzPoole.

RIP Charlie Haden

A bummer of a way to end the week. Charlie Haden passed away today. Haden came to renown first as the bassist in Ornette Coleman’s group in the late 50s and early 60s. But his career stretched far and wide, from his collabs with Carla Bley to work with Keith Jarrett and beyond. Check out this clip of him performing with Old And New Dreams, a group with Don Cherry, Ed Blackwell and Dewey Redman. It kicks off with an extended bass solo that is pure Haden. You should also check out this excellent NPR interview from a few years back

SUMMER OF DEAD 2014: Greek Theatre, University of California, Berkeley, California, May 13, 1983
The Summer of Dead checks into the Solar Motel. Chris Forsyth (who you may recall made one of our fave records of last year) goes to the Greek in ‘83. Chris’ tour with the Solar Motel Band kicks off TONIGHT in Cleveland. Check out the dates and go go go. 
I’ve been digging into the early ’80s a lot lately. I think a lot of people generally consider this a pretty fallow zone. It’s a period during which Garcia was known to be rapidly speeding towards rock bottom in terms of his health and drug addiction and the band had ceased making studio records after a few increasingly weak and misguided stabs at mainstream accessibility culminated in 1980’s Go To Heaven. That record, with its famously horrendous (or is it hilarious?) cover photo of the band in disco leisure suits and a production approach that reminds me of nothing so much as the soundtracks to Magnum P.I. and Simon & Simon, is a festival of bad decision making. You can love it as a period piece (and as usual there are a couple real good songs buried under the production muck), but it’s clearly not the work of clear headed focus or even an inspiringly addled artistic vision. It’s just adrift. Phil Lesh in his memoir bemoans what he perceived as the loss of “group mind” in this era due to the level of drug abuse among the band and crew.
So, you might think that these factors would translate to a lack of direction on stage, right? Well, to my ears, that’s just not true. Sure, much of the most consistently exploratory experimentation was long gone from their sets, but there’s still plenty of fluidity to my ears. On a lot of these early 80s shows, the band walks the line of relaxed and taut, expansive and focused, and judging from the clarity of his playing and singing, you’d never know that Garcia was at this point a barely functioning human and looked like a junkie bum who slept on the street (which, barring his steady job in the Dead, he admits he just might have been). I find his playing in this period to be some of the most articulately lyrical, melodically inventive playing of his career — just beautiful, beautiful playing. Channeling, really. The band continue to integrate new songs into the sets - a sign that they were not quite ready to go on creative auto-pilot. Brent brings a lot of good energy, especially on B3 and backing vocals.
This gem from a spring ‘83 run at the Greek Theatre is a perfect example. It’s a stellar audience recording and Bob’s guitar is plenty present in the mix (always a plus for me). I first ran across this show over at Dead Listening, which also notes the fact that this show contains the first ever “Hell in a Bucket.” I rest my case.
Chris Forsyth is a Philadelphia-based guitarist. His Solar Motel LP on Paradise of Bachelors is totally amazing. A new record, Intensity Ghost, is coming your way this fall on No Quarter Records. 

SUMMER OF DEAD 2014: Greek Theatre, University of California, Berkeley, California, May 13, 1983

The Summer of Dead checks into the Solar Motel. Chris Forsyth (who you may recall made one of our fave records of last year) goes to the Greek in ‘83. Chris’ tour with the Solar Motel Band kicks off TONIGHT in Cleveland. Check out the dates and go go go

I’ve been digging into the early ’80s a lot lately. I think a lot of people generally consider this a pretty fallow zone. It’s a period during which Garcia was known to be rapidly speeding towards rock bottom in terms of his health and drug addiction and the band had ceased making studio records after a few increasingly weak and misguided stabs at mainstream accessibility culminated in 1980’s Go To Heaven. That record, with its famously horrendous (or is it hilarious?) cover photo of the band in disco leisure suits and a production approach that reminds me of nothing so much as the soundtracks to Magnum P.I. and Simon & Simon, is a festival of bad decision making. You can love it as a period piece (and as usual there are a couple real good songs buried under the production muck), but it’s clearly not the work of clear headed focus or even an inspiringly addled artistic vision. It’s just adrift. Phil Lesh in his memoir bemoans what he perceived as the loss of “group mind” in this era due to the level of drug abuse among the band and crew.

So, you might think that these factors would translate to a lack of direction on stage, right? Well, to my ears, that’s just not true. Sure, much of the most consistently exploratory experimentation was long gone from their sets, but there’s still plenty of fluidity to my ears. On a lot of these early 80s shows, the band walks the line of relaxed and taut, expansive and focused, and judging from the clarity of his playing and singing, you’d never know that Garcia was at this point a barely functioning human and looked like a junkie bum who slept on the street (which, barring his steady job in the Dead, he admits he just might have been). I find his playing in this period to be some of the most articulately lyrical, melodically inventive playing of his career — just beautiful, beautiful playing. Channeling, really. The band continue to integrate new songs into the sets - a sign that they were not quite ready to go on creative auto-pilot. Brent brings a lot of good energy, especially on B3 and backing vocals.

This gem from a spring ‘83 run at the Greek Theatre is a perfect example. It’s a stellar audience recording and Bob’s guitar is plenty present in the mix (always a plus for me). I first ran across this show over at Dead Listening, which also notes the fact that this show contains the first ever “Hell in a Bucket.” I rest my case.

Chris Forsyth is a Philadelphia-based guitarist. His Solar Motel LP on Paradise of Bachelors is totally amazing. A new record, Intensity Ghost, is coming your way this fall on No Quarter Records.