Monday, August 29, 2005

That Great Live Concert Moment

Interesting article in this week's Washington Post Magazine. Memoirs of a Music Man (may require free registration) is a former Post music critic's journey searching for "the great Live Concert Moment". By that, he means "total-body bliss, a rush so strong it turns brain cells into Jell-O and, for a moment or two, you sort of leave your skin." The gist of the article however is that Rock & Roll barely has moments like that anymore, that even the most outrageous moments in a concert are all-too-often choreographed these days, that it is far more the exception than the rule for a band to be truly spontaneous anymore.

Now, most of us Deadheads have had a number of those "great Live Concert Moments" for sure, often several times a show. Unfortunately, the writer, David Segal, only barely touches on The Dead and how they met his criteria for 30 years. He wrote:

The trick for every band is to keep fresh something that is forever threatening to go stale. This was the secret to the longevity of the Grateful Dead. People followed them around full time because the show changed every time they played, and if you missed a concert you missed something singular.

He waxed poetic on other truly great live acts such as Elvis Costello, The Pixies, Guided By Voices, and Bruce Springsteen. But only 2 sentences about The Dead. It's a shame, maybe he just didn't make it to many shows, or maybe the ones he went to, they just weren't on those nights. Anyway, I guess he's just not much of a fan, or he just simply never truly 'got it'. The Dead are not for everyone. But they certainly delivered enough "great Live Concert Moments" for those of us who 'got it' to last a lifetime.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Take a vacation, fall out for a while...

Just got back from The Outer Banks, and boy is my ass tired! Seriously, 8 hours to get home today, kind of wore off the vacation 'glaze' a bit unfortunately, not to mention sitting in the car that long can take it's toll on anyone. It was still a good trip though. Got to spend alot of time with my boys, who just LOVE the beach. Lots of food, sun, sand, etc. We took a day trip down to Manteo to the NC Aquarium, which my little one got a big kick from. On the way back, stopped at Jockey's Ridge, where my and my older one climbed the dunes. Climbed the Currituck Beach Lighthouse as well.

It was a easy trip down, we left around 5AM and got to our beach house by 11. Today was a different story though. A nasty accident on US-158 and 20 miles of stop-and-go on I-95. Ugh.

Unfortunately, no one else in my family on this trip really shared my appreciation of The Dead. But I had a little time to myself, like when I would hang out at the house while my little one took his daily nap. I'd shoot some pool, pop in a CD and jam out for a while. A couple nights back, I hung out on the deck with a beer and my headphones, listening to the second set of 12/28/79, just looking up at the stars. The conditions weren't perfect, there was still a little too much light pollution, but I was still able to see thousands of more stars than I usually can here in the suburbs of DC. With a nice cool breeze, it was kind of perfect actually.

Best thing about the trip is that I was able to "fall out for a while" and forget about some things. I love my job, but I just need to escape from it for a little bit. Hardly even thought abut it. Now on Monday, I can hopefully go back in recharged and ready to go.

So I'm back now, with many more posts to come. Keep checking back for more.

BTW, I've added a new blog to my Deadlinks, another Deadhead named Ben. Very cool blog, check it out!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Goin' Down The Road...

Goin' down the road feeling bad
Goin' down the road feeling bad
Goin' down the road feeling bad
Don't wanna be treated this a way

Going where the climate suits my clothes
Going where the climate suits my clothes
Going where the climate suits my clothes
Don't wanna be treated this a way

Going where the water tastes like wine
Going where the water tastes like wine
Going where the water tastes like wine
Don't wanna be treated this a way

I'm going where those chilly winds don't blow
I'm going where those chilly winds don't blow
Going where those chilly winds don't blow
Don't want to be treated this way
-------------------------------------------------------------

Well, I'm off to the beach for the week. Not looking forward to the long drive (with two young kids), but the destination is worth it. I'll have some Dead with me to keep me entertained of course. Back with more posts after the 27th.

Until then, Keep on Bloggin!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Build-A-Set-List: 1972

And now, the next edition of Build-A-Set-List. Today, we focus on 1972. 1972 was a one of several 'transitional' years for The Dead, one which had a very unique sound of it's own. That year saw the addition of Keith Godchaux and the phasing out of Pigpen. There were alot of great shows that year, including several from their European tour, and one which many consider to be their best, The Springfield Creamery Benefit at the Old Renaissance Faire Grounds in Veneta, OR.

Overall, the sound changed significantly from even the year before. The tone became a bit softer, with Pigpen's health declining quickly, and Keith's smooth improvisational style adding a new flavor. Although their long, drawn out psychedelic adventures such as Dark Star were still in the rotation, the shows from this year started to focus more on the traditional style-songs that they had launched with American Beauty and Workingman's Dead.

Europe '72 was one of the first Dead albums I listened too, and is a great primer for anyone discovering The Dead for the first time. They were very tight, amazingly so with the introduction of a new band member and the slow, painful decline of another. 1972 is not my favorite year, it's not hard to find a great show from that year. So, again following the rules I set in my first post in this series, here's my Ultimate Setlist from 1972. As always, your contributions are invited, and any resemblance to an actual show is purely coincidental:

1972 Ultimate Set List

Set 1
Promised Land
It Hurts Me Too
China Cat Sunflower>
I Know You Rider
El Paso
Tennessee Jed
Greatest Story Ever Told
Loser
Big River
Big Railroad Blues

Set 2
Playin In The Band
He's Gone
Big Boss Man
Truckin
Dark Star
The Other One
Morning Dew
Sugar Magnolia
Goin Down The Road Feelin Bad
Good Lovin

Encore
Casey Jones

Friday, August 12, 2005

DC Dead: College Park

My early Deadhead days were in college (1989-1994), and 3 of those years were spent in College Park, MD at The Univ. of Maryland. College Park was a pretty cool scene for Deadheads, especially on Tuesday nights. Tuesday nights at the Paragon (later renamed Terrapin Station) were Blue Miracle nights. Blue Miracle was the house band of the Paragon, and whenever they played there, it was hippie-heaven. They covered mostly Dead and Allman Bros. tunes, mixing in a few others (including some originals) as well. One of their best covers actually was "Peace Frog" by The Doors. I was pretty much a regular there from'91-'93 and loved those guys.

The Dead themselves only played once in College Park, at Cole Field House (i.e. God's Country). As a basketball season ticket holder for over 10 years, Cole will always hold a very special place in my heart, very similar to how I feel about RFK. Originally built in 1955, at the time, Cole Field House was the second largest arena on the East Coast next to Madison Square Garden. It hosted 2 Final Fours, too many amazing basketball games to list, including the very last game there which I was in attendance for. I also graduated there.

To think that The Dead actually played in that old, cavernous arena on 3/7/81 still blows my mind. The acoustics challenges there must of been horrible, even with the ingenious Dead Sound Team working on it. Word is that the band thought it was an awful show, but listening to it (even average AUD Tapes) and it really wasn't that bad. The Sailor>Saint on that night was particularly hot. Why couldn't they of played there when I was there? :(

Oh well. Ben The Deadhead, was it his Deadhead prime while living in College Park. "Gone are the days..."

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Garcia: 8/1/42 - 8/9/95


Elegy for Jerry Garcia
Written by Robert Hunter and read at Jerry Garcia's funeral
Jerry, my friend,
you've done it again,
even in your silence
the familiar pressure
comes to bear, demanding
I pull words from the air
with only this morning
and part of the afternoon
to compose an ode worthy
of one so particular
about every turn of phrase,
demanding it hit home
in a thousand ways
before making it his own,
and this I can't do alone.
Now that the singer is gone,
where shall I go for the song?
Without your melody and taste
to lend an attitude of grace
a lyric is an orphan thing,
a hive with neither honey's taste
nor power to truly sting.
What choice have I but to dare and
call your muse who thought to rest
out of the thin blue air
that out of the field of shared time,
a line or two might chance to shine --
As ever when we called,
in hope if not in words,
the muse descends.
How should she desert us now?
Scars of battle on her brow,
bedraggled feathers on her wings,
and yet she sings, she sings!
May she bear thee to thy rest,
the ancient bower of flowers
beyond the solitude of days,
the tyranny of hours--
the wreath of shining laurel lie
upon your shaggy head
bestowing power to play the lyre
to legions of the dead.
If some part of that music
is heard in deepest dream,
or on some breeze of Summer
a snatch of golden theme,
we'll know you live inside us
with love that never parts
our good old Jack O'Diamonds
become the King of Hearts.
I feel your silent laughter
at sentiments so bold
that dare to step across the line
to tell what must be told,
so I'll just say I love you,
which I never said before
and let it go at that old friend
the rest you may ignore.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Garcia: The Tie

After a somewhat sappy, from-the-heart post yesterday, I thought I would follow-up with something on the lighter side today. A couple posts ago, I talked about Jerry The Artist. Some of his artwork made it on to a collection of ties. I always thought that was kind of ironic as I can't ever remember seeing Jerry wear a tie.

Anyway, here's a picture of my Jerry Garcia "Plague of the Frogs" Passover tie. That's not what it's really called, but it is my Passover tie nonetheless. In particular, I thought that Mark over at the Knocking on the Golden Door Blog would appreciate this.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Garcia: My personal thoughts

First of all, please let me apologize for not keeping up this series yesterday. Due to technical difficulties at home, and me being a bit under-the-weather, I failed to keep up Jerry-Fest '05.

I'm in a bit of a rush this morning, but I wanted to just add in my personal feelings about this man. I think the reason why I'm so drawn to him and his music is the fact that he was truly fearless with his music. I like my music to be honest, creative, emotional and fun. Last thing I want to listen to is the same old formula repeated over and over again. Jerry Garcia created his music as it came to him, night after night, for over 30 years. His music expressed his deepest feelings, those that inspired him, and those that haunted him.

There has never been anyone else quite like Jerry, and I doubt there ever will be. As we near the 10th anniversary of his death, in this day and age, it seems amazing that there ever was anyone quite like that. For that, I say thank you Jerry for 30 years of sharing your magic with the world.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Garcia: Favorite JGB Songs

Today marks Day 5 at the Garcia-Thon. Three days ago, we looked at my top 10 favorite Grateful Dead Jerry songs, two days ago, we explored one of Jerry's side-projects, the Jerry Garcia Band (JGB). Today, I wanted to share two favorite lists. Since JGB was primarily a cover band, the first list is my favorite JGB covers. But Jerry also had a few originals, some he only played with JGB, and some he played with both JGB and The Dead. So here they are:

Top 10 Favorite Jerry Garcia Band (Cover) Songs
Dear Prudence
Don’t Let Go
Forever Young
How Sweet It Is
I Shall Be Released
My Sisters And Brothers
Simple Twist Of Fate
Stop That Train
Think
Waiting For a Miracle

Top 5 Favorite Jerry Garcia Band (Original) Songs
Cats Down Under The Stars
Deal
Mission In The Rain
Run For The Roses
Sugaree

Feel free to share your favorites.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Garcia: The Artist

Day 4 in our Jerry-palooza celebration. Today, we celebrate Jerry The Artist. Jerry studied at the San Francisco Art Institute's Pre-College Art program, which greatly stimulated his creativity, and provided his first exposure to the alternative, bohemian world of the late 50s. He never took his art seriously, yet he managed to create some truly beautiful drawings and paintings over the years (many of which of course made their way on to a collection of ties).

I saw a collection of his work at a small gallery in Georgetown many years ago and truly enjoyed exploring his visual side. Here's some of his work that I have enjoyed most:

"Wetlands 1"


"Grisman"


"Blue Iceberg"

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Garcia: JGB


Day 3 of 'Everything Jerry' focuses on The Jerry Garcia Band (JGB). I was fortunate to see JGB 3 times in the early 90s, once in Hampton and twice at The Cap Centre. For those of you not familiar with JGB, this was one of Jerry's side projects from the mid-70's through the mid-90's. During downtime from touring with The Dead, Jerry would pull together some friends, almost always including bassist John Kahn, and an assortment of others (including The Godchauxs in the late 70's) for a number of brief tours.

JGB was essentially a cover band, with a few Jerry originals thrown in. But even though most of the songs JGB played were covers, Jerry's special touch was evident on each and every song. The band's sound was much tighter than The Dead's, not as much jamming, but more of a straight-ahead sound, featuring a variety of styles including rock & roll, blues, reggae, folk and more.

Great examples of how Jerry made classic songs even better include his versions of How Sweet It Is, Dear Prudence, The Harder They Come and more. His After Midnight>Eleanor Rigby combo found on the Kean College CD is truly amazing. But it was his treatments of 3 Dylan songs that I found truly special. He took Dylan's folky, sometimes jangly I Shall Be Released, Forever Young and Simple Twist of Fate, and crafted them into beautiful, inspirational masterpieces.

I love the fact that the Garcia Estate is releasing old shows on CD now. JGB shows are not available on archive.org, and the quality of the shows available on SugarMegs is not always the best. I have the Kean College and Merriweather Post CDs now, and am very excited about 2 new releases, The Shoreline Amphitheater DVD and Warner Theater CD (which fits nicely into my DC Dead motif, yea!).

I'm particularly excited about the Shoreline show. This show (9/1/90) was originally scheduled to be a Dead show before Brent Mydland's death that summer. The Dead had not fully integrated Vince into the band yet, but rather than cancel the date, JGB went on instead. You can find a good quality version of this show on SugarMegs. Go find it and download it now. You will find some of Jerry's most inspirational music in that show. His heart and soul are in every note that he played that night.

Depending on my mood, sometimes I can be more into JGB than The Dead. I know my wife prefers the JGB sound a bit more since it's a bit more 'mainstream'. Be sure to check out the Shoreline show, or any of the shows available at jerrygarcia.com for some great music.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Garcia: Favorite GD Jerry Songs

Continuing our 8 day celebration of everything Jerry, I submit to you my Top 10 Favorite Grateful Dead Jerry Songs. There is no way I could rank order them, as my favorites change on a pretty regular basis. But on based on my gut-feeling at the moment, I listed out my ten favorite. They are:
  • Bird Song
  • Brown-Eyed Women
  • Candyman
  • Eyes of the World
  • Might As Well
  • Ramble On Rose
  • Scarlet Begonias
  • Shakedown Street
  • Terrapin Station
  • Wharf Rat

What's your Top 10?

Monday, August 01, 2005

Garcia: Happy Birthday Jerry!


This year, we celebrate 40 years of The Grateful Dead. Next week, we mark the 10 year anniversary of Jerry Garcia's passing. On this day however, we celebrate Jerry's birthday, who would of been 63 today!

To those who don't know much about Jerry, he appeared to be a mysterious, drug addicted freak. But for those of us who knew and admired him, even from afar, he was a brilliant artist, both musically and visually. There is probably no other musician in the 20th century who had the same combination of creativity, versatility, range and improvisational ability as Jerry did.

He was not a leader, yet he could never sit still. If he wasn't playing with The Dead, he was involved with any of a number of his side projects, and when he wasn't playing music, he was painting. He couldn't help himself but to be creative, even in his darkest days. He struggled with his relationships his entire life, yet he was adored by millions worldwide. He struggled with drug addiction for decades, but somehow still found a way to make it to the stage and perform close to 3000 concerts over 30 years.

My musical tastes have changed from band-to-band over the years, but Jerry and his music are truly unique. 2 summers ago, before I came back to The Dead, I was at a neighborhood park where a folk band was playing. They started playing a beautiful song that I couldn't quite place at first, but soon realized it was Black Peter. I instantly stared to hear Jerry in my head playing along with this band, adding in his signature fills as good as he always did.

Over the next 8 days, I will celebrate his life by to posting my thoughts on the man, the myth, the legend, Jerry Garcia. It will almost be like a Jerry Hanukkah ;-). So thank you Jerry, and once again, Happy Birthday! I can think of no other song that expresses the way I feel today than:

Attics of My Life
Lyrics: R. Hunter, Music: J. Garcia

In the attics of my life
Full of cloudy dreams unreal
Full of tastes no tongue can know
And lights no eye can see
When there was no ear to hear
You sang to me

I have spent my life
Seeking all that's still unsung
Bent my ear to hear the tune
And closed my eyes to see
When there were no strings to play
You played to me

In the book of love's own dreams
Where all the print is blood
Where all the pages are my days
And all my lights grow old

When I had no wings to fly
You flew to me
You flew to me

In the secret space of dreams
Where I dreaming lay amazed
When the secrets all are told
And the petals all unfold
When there was no dream of mine
You dreamed of me