Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fall 1968, Pacific Recorders, San Mateo: Marmaduke Demos (New Riders Roots)

John Dawson, circa early 70s
The conventional story about the birth of the New Riders of The Purple Sage has been told many times, usually by members of the band itself: Jerry Garcia bought a pedal steel guitar in Colorado in April 1969, and shortly afterward old Palo Alto friend John Dawson came over to his house to hear Garcia play it. Dawson brought his own guitar and played his own songs, and Garcia liked the sound, so Garcia started to play along with Dawson at his Wednesday night hofbrau gig in Menlo Park. Old friend David Nelson joined in, and by the end of May the trio had hatched a plan to form a new country rock band. 

This story is true, at least as far as I know. It continually surprises me, however, how often that various events in Grateful Dead history that seem to be settled fact turn out to have an entirely different context that causes me to think of events in a different light. The "Birth Of The New Riders" saga has always been presented as a serendipitous, chance occurrence, as only Garcia's random purchase of a pedal steel guitar and Dawson's casual presence at a Dead rehearsal caused the New Riders to arise fully formed.

Recently, however, I was fortunate enough to hear an extensive interview with Grateful Dead engineer Betty Cantor, thanks to the good offices of David Gans. Cantor talked extensively to Gans about the recording of Aoxomoxoa, Live/Dead and Workingman's Dead, among other projects. While we can anticipate that Mr. Gans will share the best parts of this interview in the future, on the Deadhead Hour or on KPFA, a passing remark from Ms. Cantor caused me to re-think the entire genesis of the New Riders.

In the context of talking about how she learned to work in the studio, Cantor talked about the different things she did, such as setting up microphones. Then she added, most unexpectedly,
Plus we did a lot of demos down there, with Marmaduke, John Dawson, before the New Riders. I got to be the drummer! To keep John in time. He was great, great songwriter, great player, couldn’t keep time real well. So I just had to play snare, high hat, kick, keep in time. I got to be the drummer on the demo, it was real fun.
I am pretty knowledgeable about the New Riders, but I knew nothing about any demos with just John Dawson and a rudimentary drummer. Of course, I realized that the tape had probably been erased, as professional recording tape was expensive, but it forced me to consider the context: why were the Grateful Dead recording John Dawson demos in late 1968 or early 1969?

The cover of the 1969 Grateful Dead album Aoxomoxoa
Now, the Grateful Dead's contract with Warner Brothers gave them unlimited studio time, even though the cost of that studio time would be owed back by the band through royalties. The band went over the top during the recording of Aoxomoxoa. From September through December 1968, they recorded at a new studio in San Mateo called Pacific Recorders, helping to put together the studio itself while recording a complete album on 8 and 12-track machines. The planned album was supposed to be called Earthquake Country. After three months, however, the band discovered that they could get one of the first state-of-the-art 16-track Ampex tape machines, and decided to simply re-record the entire album. Over the next few months they recorded what we now know as Aoxomoxoa, along with several shows at the Avalon and the Fillmore West, which later became Live/Dead and the retrospective Live At Fillmore West box. By the end of the process, the band was $180,000 in debt to Warner Brothers, serious money in 1969, particularly for a band who had never had anything resembling a hit.

How did the Grateful Dead use all this studio time? According to Cantor, there was a lot of experimentation, some of it quite serious, some of it just goofing off. According to her, almost none of the experimenting was preserved, for good or for ill. Although she doesn't specifically say so, I know that one of the reasons for that was the expense of recording tape. I know that the recordings of the Avalon on January 24-26, 1969 that were not used for Live/Dead were simply erased and recorded over for Fillmore West a few weeks later. It may seem odd that a band willing to go over $100,000 in debt would be cheap about tape, but I have a feeling that the studio would bill through Warner Brothers but the band had to pay actual cash money for the recording tape, and the Dead always had a cash squeeze.

Nonetheless, it seems that the Dead were using their own studio time to record demos for one of their friends. There's no other way to interpret the Marmaduke recordings in San Mateo than to think that the Dead had plans to make music with Dawson, probably by getting him a record contract. It may have been that the Dead had studio time booked when the band had shows scheduled, so recording Dawson's demos may have been a way to make use of the time when the band wasn't there. Like many good engineers, Betty Cantor could play a little music (she apparently was a good piano player), but Bob Matthews would have only used her on drums if no one else was available. I have to think that manager Lenny Hart had a plan to sign John Dawson to a record contract, but it's clear that if Dawson was recording demos, the band was on board with the plan. However, knowing that Dawson recorded demos in late 1968 puts the New Riders genesis in a totally different light. Garcia's new pedal steel guitar may have put Dawson's songs in a new context, but Garcia and Dawson had apparently already been trying to make Dawson into a singer/songwriter already.

The cover to the 1986 Relix lp Before Time Began
I was thinking about the presumably lost Marmaduke demos, and I realized that there was a piece of the puzzle that I had completely overlooked. In 1986, Relix Records released an archival New Riders lp called Before Time Began (Relix 2024), which included two inexplicable John Dawson demos with clearly inaccurate recording history. I realized that these two mystery tracks must have been the end result of Dawson's demos for the Aoxomoxoa sessions.

Relix Records
Relix Records was the recording wing of Relix Magazine, a Brooklyn based music publication. The magazine and label focused on the Grateful Dead family, Hot Tuna and related San Francisco bands in the 1980s, when there was very little interest in those groups elsewhere. The record label released a lot of interesting music, but it was run on a shoestring basis, like many independents. I suspect that the label generally operated on a cash basis, paying out money as they got it, which was probably much appreciated by its artists. Certainly artists like Robert Hunter and Jorma Kaukonen released several albums each with the label, so they must have been happy with how they were treated.

Back in the day, I was intensely bothered by the fact that the liner notes and recording information for Relix releases were scant, and often startlingly inaccurate. For example, a Kingfish album released in the 1980s clearly included material that must have been recorded in the 1970s, but there were overdubs from current band members, with no explanation of the process in the notes. There was even a track left off the liner notes. At the time, I thought that Relix staff was inattentive, but I now think the mistakes were so persistent that they did them on purpose. At the very least, Relix had a vested interest in not correcting their mistakes, although I am left to speculate why that might have been.

Before Time Began featured four songs ("Henry", "All I Ever Wanted", "Last Lonely Eagle", "Cecilia") by the New Riders Of The Purple Sage and two ("Garden Of Eden", "Superman") by John Dawson. The four NRPS songs were apparently recorded in November 1969 at Pacific High Recorders in San Francisco,  with a lineup of Dawson, Nelson, Garcia, Mickey Hart and Phil Lesh. The two Dawson songs are identified as having been recorded at Pacific Recording in San Mateo in July 1968. The tracks are said to have been recorded "with the help of Garcia and some members of Doug Sahm's group." Based on the information I now have, I am much better able to make a plausible hypothesis about the Dawson demos released on the album.

First of all, I think we can safely dismiss the July 1968 date for the Dawson demos. The Dead were not in Pacific Recording at the time, and I put no credence in dates from Relix liner notes. Since Betty Cantor recalls recording demos with Dawson, I think late 1968 makes much more sense. It also make sense that after Marmaduke and Betty--sounds like a cartoon duo, doesn't it?--recorded some demos together, a few of the tracks were re-recorded and built up into legitimate demos. I have to think that Lenny Hart, at least, played the demos for some record company guys--maybe Clive Davis heard about Dawson from these demos, long before the New Riders. In any case, they must have had no takers, but that in itself seems odd, since record companies were signing every band in San Francisco.

The way Betty Cantor described the recording process at Pacific Recording, there was a tendency to get a good take and then experiment with mixes and overdubs, without really saving anything but the final copy. The vagueness about the backing musicians, as "Garcia and some members of Doug Sahm's group" may stem from the fact that there was a variety of overdubs and "punch-ins" (recording over a musical or vocal part, often for just a few phrases or a verse), and no one recalls who actually played what. Of course, there may be other reasons that no one remembers who played what.

While I'm sure Garcia helped with the Marmaduke demos, I have to take the Relix liner notes with a grain of salt. The label had a vested interest in claiming Garcia's involvement, so the fact that he isn't particularly audible suggests to me that Garcia was involved in the arranging or the mixing, but didn't have a big role in the actual performances on the demos. I have been told that some pedal steel guitar parts are played by Lowell "Banana" Levenger, of the Youngbloods. Banana was an old pal of Rick Turner, who became a key player when Alembic was formed shortly after Aoxomoxoa (by Turner, Owsley Stanley and former Ampex engineer Ron Wickersham), so that may have been why Banana was present, if indeed he was. It's also true that Garcia owned a Fender pedal steel guitar around 1967 which he sold to Banana, so perhaps Banana was playing Garcia's old instrument, a strange coincidence that would fit right in.

Doug Sahm and some of his band members had moved to San Francisco from Texas after a 1966 pot bust, a very scary proposition in  Texas. Sahm had numerous band members, some of them sort of rotating in and out, so it's hard to say who might have played on the demos. Also, most of the Sir Douglas Quintet, including Sahm, were talented on numerous instruments, so it's even harder to say which members might have actually been on the recordings. The interesting Grateful Dead/Doug Sahm connection in 1968 was that Sahm was on Mercury, and he recorded extensively in that label's San Francisco studios on Mission Street. And who was the house engineer at Mercury West? Why, Dan Healy, of course, so there were plenty of connections between Sahm and the Grateful Dead.  Hence, finding the Sir Douglas Quintet over in the South Bay helping out in the studio isn't surprising.

In 1968, Mercury Records made a big splash by announcing that they had signed 12 bands in San Francisco on the same day. The most famous of these was Doug Sahm and the Sir Douglas Quintet, but they signed plenty of obscure artists. Mercury also recorded some demos for a Pigpen solo album in 1969, believe it or not, so they must have been sniffing around the Grateful Dead when the band's contract was ready to expire in 1969.  Mercury, like many labels, was signing everyone in San Francisco, including some really forgettable artists. With this in mind, considering the Dan Healy/Doug Sahm connection, I find it strange that no record company was interested in John Dawson's demos. Even the Grateful Dead would not pay to record their friend's demos without having some plan, however harebrained, to find a way to allow Dawson to record a real record.

Conclusions
Until we get more information, I'll end with a series of propositions. I'm hoping for some proof or contradictions from anyone with more information or some clever ideas.
  • The "Marmaduke Demos" on Before Time Again were recorded in late 1968 at Pacific Recording
  • The initial demos featured just John Dawson and Betty Cantor on drums, but these were probably superseded and may not have survived
  • The two surviving demos were probably built up with a variety of overdubs and punch ins, so it might not be clear who played on what track, even if anyone was in a state to remember
  • The Grateful Dead family was interested in turning John Dawson into a recording artist as early as 1968, and willing to spend their own studio time to do it, even though nothing ever came of it, so the New Riders project can be seen as a solution rather than a random idea
  • When Garcia played pedal steel to Dawson's songs for the first time in April 1969, he not only probably knew the songs, he had been actively working on trying to record Dawson
  • Garcia's pedal steel guitar was a new sound for Dawson's music, but it was the sound that was new, not the songs. I maintain my working hypothesis that for Garcia, the New Riders was really about the sound of the band rather than the notes and melodies themselves

18 comments:

  1. The versions of Garden of Eden and Superman on Before Time Began were played infrequently on KSAN probably in 1969-70. They were credited to "Marmaduke and Friends" with the friends listed as Garcia, Lesh, Banana and Hart. This was also the way these were labelled in some studio sourced tracks I had before the Relix album was released. I would say that the pedal steel on these tracks was almost certainly Jerry and not Banana.

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  2. Very interesting information, Crypt. If Garcia played pedal steel, then he had to have recorded his part after April 1969. It's mystifying why the album lists the tracks as recorded in July '68. Perhaps they were basic tracks, which were then added to considerably later? In any case, it's another instance where Relix liner notes seem to bear little connection to reality.

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  3. If the Superman demos really featured Garcia, Lesh, Hart and Banana, with Jerry on steel, then the 68 recording is unlikely if not impossible. Perhaps there were two '69 demo sessions, one with Banana (two tracks) and one with Nelson (4 tracks), but that's a head scratcher in it's own right.

    Another possibility would be that the 68 Marmaduke demos at Pacific Recording and the 69 demos were unconnected, but that Relix had some reason for believing or suggesting that they were the same.

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  4. Nice post.

    "If Garcia played pedal steel, then he had to have recorded his part after April 1969"

    Why?

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  5. I guess it's possible he played the pedal steel prior to April '69, but where did he get the instrument? I mean it's possible, anything's possible, but Garcia doesn't seem like the type of guy to fool around on weird instruments (like David Lindley). If he was going to play some instrument, he took it seriously.

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  6. One of the things about the Pacific Recording studio was that Bob & Betty started out there recording lots of band demos.
    Cantor: "Bob and I started working in this studio making demos for different groups."
    Matthews: "We started bumbling through those groups they would send down to us. Fortunately, most of the groups were as impressed to be in a studio as we were to be recording them. We did a lot of demos, including one for Santana; that was our claim to fame for a while."

    One wonders what other groups passed through in the early days of Pacific Recording...

    There does seem to be a forgotten story here about Dawson's pre-New Riders aspirations! I'm surprised to see him in the studio as early as '68.
    (If indeed the Dead were giving some of their studio time to an old buddy, it strikes me as a precursor to the Round Records idea.)

    Garcia of course would have known him for quite a long time; but engineer Bob Matthews must also have met Dawson around '64/65 as they were both in Garcia's circle at that time. So Pacific Recording would seem to be a fortuitous place for Dawson to slip in to make a demo...
    Apparently not a well-planned demo though, if an engineer had to step in to provide drumming to steady Dawson's shaky time! Which seems to show that the Dead were absent. (Not that any of them besides Garcia might have been interested.)
    The "1968" demos on the Relix record might have nothing to do with the demo Cantor remembers - could be different songs, different session.

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  7. To address the possibility of Banana being the elusive pedal steel player, He tells me "I wish I could claim credit for a pedal steel track on a New Riders project but alas, it never happened. But I love the legend."

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  8. This saga is nothing but mysteries. I have attempted to make a straight line out of some confusing data points, many of which may not be true. The whole Banana thing turns out to be a myth--sadly--but then who is on the "Marmaduke & friends demo?"

    Perhaps Dawson was one of the aspirants that Bob and Betty recorded at Pacific High, with Betty on drums, on a self-financed demo, but then what was the history of the "electric" demo used on the Before Time Began lp? Marmaduke's name was on the Aoxomoxoa credits, so we know he was around, but doing what has never precisely been answered.

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  9. This is a great post. Let me start with some smaller questions around some of your smaller assumptions. The premise of much of our ongoing research, which you restate here, is that the received wisdom is often extremely dubious, and that our pursuit of the truth requires us to poke and prod it, especially when there are observations (such as these early demos) that aren't in-line with it. But I also want to hold our own assumptions to a minimum. I have a few of yours to scrutinize here.

    First, why the doubt about July 1968? I understand the doubt about Relix liner notes, but it's the best we have, and unless I have failed to follow your narrative I don't see why Marmaduke couldn't have cut those two songs that early on. I'd need more logic/evidence *against* the proposition before I'd be willing to dismiss it as you have.

    Second, I am not sure I can embrace the assumption that Garcia wouldn't have played a borrowed pedal steel. Why not? I can't honestly say I know much about Garcia's preferences in this regard ca. 1968. And since there's some evidence for '68 pedal steel playing by him, however questionable, and no
    evidence (but only this assumption) against it, I am still leaning toward the possibility.

    A few other points and questions.

    First, you say: "I find it strange that no record company was interested in John Dawson's demos." Here's a flyer: maybe the record companies insisted on some demonstrable GD/Garcia connection, e.g. a playing contribution from Jerry, as a condition of signing on his friends? This necessity drove (at least to some extent) Garcia's constitutive role in the NRPS, which is consistent with your idea that the NRPS was a solution (a band with Garcia, i.e., one that could sell records) to a problem (Jerry's desire to help his ol' pal Marmaduke).

    In that sense, I agree with LIA (in comments) and you that Round becomes the formalized expression of some basic elements of the Garciaverse: he wanted to help out his friends with paying gigs, and the world demanded that he monetize himself (in addition to giving time, effort and layers of skin) to achieve that. For all of his other flaws, Garcia was an unusually generous friend. Think about how many lives were "made," how many properties in Marin and Sonoma made affordable, by professional involvement with Jerry. Man had the Midas Touch.

    Second, you suggest that Lenny was pimping this to record execs. What makes you think this, specifically? I am not opposed, just curious. More to steal?

    Third, it has always kind of bugged me when people portray the "return to country" with the advent of Garcia's public steel playing and the advent of country tunes like Slewfoot and all that, as if it emerged out of nothing, or only out of the Burritos contact, or whatever. I am not saying it's not a step-change in that process --I think it is-- but there are bits and pieces previous to that that at least foreshadow it. Think about the fact that late '68 Aoxomoxoa has some acoustic stuff (Rosemary, Dupree's, Mountains of the Moon), and that at least once in late '68 Garcia broke out the acoustic guitar onstage (12/7/68, for Rosemary). (I know acoustic ~= country, but they're related enough for my purposes here.) The March '67 interview that has been published a few times (including in Golden Road) has Jerry saying he's trying to electrify his banjo. And here you're telling me that he had a pedal steel of his own ca. 1967.

    Finally, something you said in comments: "Perhaps Dawson was one of the aspirants that Bob and Betty recorded at Pacific High, with Betty on drums, on a self-financed demo." This makes a lot of sense to me. And maybe the linearity we seek just isn't there. Maybe Marmaduke was hanging around the studio and the threads just came together around there. And that's what makes this post so important. Thanks.

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  10. I agree, I made some very big assumptions and then built on them. My assumptions were that

    >Betty recalled working on the Marmaduke demos
    >The Dead spent a lot of money and time recording at Pacific and Marmakuke's name is on the Aoxomoxoa credits
    >The Before Time Began demos came in a straight line from the original demos

    My original rejection of July '68 was the idea that it was before the Dead's sessions and before Garcia played pedal steel (and Relix is almost never right).

    Another scenario does present itself

    >Dawson financed his own demo with Bob and Betty at Pacific in mid-68, pre-Aoxomoxoa
    >Bob, Betty and Garcia helped Dawson finish his demo, with help from other local musicians
    >It's coincidental that it fits the same timeline as Aoxomoxoa

    I have basically chosen to try and unravel the story as if the first set of assumptions were true. I was completely speculating about Lenny, of course, but the Dead were always full of "schemes," so it's plausible.

    As to the pedal steel, here's the problem. Garcia bought a Fender pedal steel in 66-67, but he sold it to Banana in 67. Pedal steel guitar, to my knowledge, is not an easy instrument to even tune, much less play, and there aren't many around (relatively). If Garcia was playing pedal steel prior to '69, whose was it, and when did he practice? Ask your guitar playing friends who has a banjo, and several will. Ask them who has a pedal steel, and almost no one will.

    In any case, even if I'm creating an elaborate narrative around a series of coincidences--one of my special talents--the whole pre-history of Dawson and the New Riders looks different than it did before.

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  11. Given that you're trying to connect the dots between a very non-specific Betty memory & possibly unreliable album notes, we can only be on shaky ground, whatever we conclude!
    If, say, both the "Betty demos" and the "Relix demos" were from mid-69 rather than mid-68, that would strengthen your case quite a bit...but we don't know.

    I would note that the Dead's first known session at Pacific Recording was August 13 '68, which was apparently just used as a jam session. (Proper album recording apparently didn't start til September.)
    I would also note that their sessions from Sept to Dec '68 were extremely protracted...given that several Aoxomoxoa songs were not even written til December/January, basically it took them over 3 months of studio sessions to complete, at most, FOUR songs. (After which they started over.)

    Jerry did know at least one pedal-steel player: Peter Grant, who played it on Doin' That Rag on Aoxomoxoa. (His part was recorded in '69.)
    I'd express great skepticism, though, that in 1968 Jerry would borrow, practice & play on Grant's pedal steel for one brief Dawson demo, if Grant himself might've been available! (Note the obvious: Jerry didn't play it on Doin' That Rag either, in early '69.)

    Of course we don't know what the purpose of the Dawson demo was, if Garcia himself had any plan or record-label in mind, or if Dawson just wanted to shop around various companies, or if there was thought to be any leverage from Dawson's "Dead connection." It's possible some record exec who heard these demos found them totally forgettable!

    I found an interesting page with more notes on the Dawson demos:
    http://www.newridersofthepurplesage.com/rare/san_frisco.htm
    (I'll quote the relevant part, with no comment on its accuracy...)

    NEW RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE
    6.SUPERMAN, John Dawson (2.14) Cop.Con. - same as on BEFORE TIME BEGAN
    7.GARDEN OF EDEN, John Dawson (3.10) Fry King - different mix or (complete) take as on BEFORE TIME BEGAN
    8.ALL I EVER WANTED>fade out, John Dawson (2.34) Fry King - just folky McDuke with accoustic guitar, charming

    "NEW RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE evolved under the guiding hand of John Dawson who hung out at early Grateful Dead recording sessions. The songs on this album were laid down in 1968 during the recording of the Grateful Dead's "Aoxomoxoa" album at the Pacific Recording Studios, San Mateo and featured Grateful Dead members Jerry Garcia on banjo and Phil Lesh on bass. (???)
    Comments:
    Grateful Dead began to record "Aoxomoxoa" on the 5th of September, 1968 in Pacific Recording, San Mateo (DeadBaseX). David Nelson in the sleeve notes of the CD "Before Time Began" says that the songs SUPERMAN and GARDEN OF EDEN were recorded at Pacific Recording, San Mateo on the 31st of July, 1968 by MARMADUKE and FRIENDS, who were Jerry Garcia and some members of Doug Sahm's group (could they be Whitney "Hershey" Freeman - bass, and George Rains - drums ???) and engineered by Bob Matthews. Both songs were released in 1986 on the before mentioned "Before Time Began" CD, except here is probably a complete take of GARDEN OF EDEN and a total new gem ALL I EVER WANTED - one of the best love songs ever; folky demo, just McDuke with acoustic guitar and his significant voice. Seems like an FM recording."

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  12. LIA, this is fantastic information. I will say that whoever wrote this did what I did, and looked up the current Doug Sahm album at the time. Of course, it could have been Whitey Freeman and George Rains, who played on the 1968 Sahm albums, but Sahm himself had a more fluid relationship with his band. While I think that this write-up is based on the existing information, it's still relevant.

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  13. I was just looking at LIA's transcript of the 12/27/70 interview. It doesn't shed any new light, but it does reinforce the early NRPS-Pacific Recorders connection, I think.

    "Jerry got a pedal steel guitar that he picked up in Denver, and I was hanging out one day up there with them, when they were just hanging out at their studio place there, and Jerry says ‘hey, come on over and pick a few tunes for me so I can learn how to play this thing!’"

    http://deadsources.blogspot.com/2013/11/december-27-1970-radio-interview.html

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  14. I took that comment to mean the Dead's rehearsal warehouse at Novato, not the recording studio. In an interview with Sandy Troy, Dawson more specifically recalled, "I bumped into Garcia at the Dead's practice place in Novato near Hamilton Air Force Base. I asked Jerry if I could come over to his house and listen to the steel guitar that he just bought. He said I could come over later if I wanted to hear it. I brought my guitar when I showed up so he would have something to accompany. I showed him a couple of tunes that I had been working on..."

    But it did occur to me that spring '69 would be an ideal time for these mystery demos. One certain thing we know is that Dawson was hanging out with Garcia in early May '69.
    (I also don't know what Dawson did to get an Aoxomoxoa credit, so he could have hung out with them through the whole recording process.)
    I also agree with Corry that Garcia would not be playing pedal steel on any demos before May '69. In an 11/28/70 interview Garcia emphasizes that when he got this pedal steel in April '69, "I didn’t know anything, I didn’t even know how to tune it."
    The other implication behind how the Dawson/Garcia duo got started is that they had not played Dawson's music together before. At least they never mentioned it; but it seems the pedal steel is the only reason Garcia even thought of a musical connection with Dawson.
    If the initial demos were actually in mid-'69 there would be a straight connection between them and the formation of NRPS.

    But let's say the info about a July '68 recording is correct. (The NRPS site lists the 7/31/68 "Marmaduke & Friends" date, for what little that's worth.) It means Dawson would've preceded the Dead into Pacific Recording (by a couple weeks, anyway), so it wouldn't be on their studio time. I believe Dawson was familiar with Bob Matthews already, so he would have a friendly contact at the studio.
    But that leaves many unanswered questions. Who would he be playing with in mid-'68? How many songs had he even written by then? The "Marmaduke & Friends" lineup is suspicious since I can neither see Garcia & co. backing Dawson in mid-'68, nor bothering to go do overdubs over these ancient demos in mid-'69. We know Banana's involvement was a false rumor. The possible involvement of some members of Doug Sahm's band also troubles me - did Dawson have friends in that group? If not, why would they act as session musicians for him? Did he pay for the studio time himself? (We also know that even in '69 with Garcia attached, no record company was interested; so the situation in '68 would be even bleaker.)
    Still, a July '68 date is possible; there are just too many unknowns for us to make any conclusions. I prefer a mid-'69 date for Dawson's demos as being the simplest explanation, though.

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  15. Related to the studio Pacific Recorders...
    9/5/68
    While recording Aoxoamoxoa at Pacific Recorders, Jerry plays an acoustic Martin 00-45, made between 1918 and 1929, as seen in the Deadhead's Taping Compendium, Vol. 1, pg. 14 (photo courtesy of Ampex Studio). This guitar would be worth approximately $25,000 in today's (2014) market.
    This information comes from Tom Wright, known as tigerstrat in some online circles. Tom's the foremost Garcia equipment identifier, he helped Blair with the Grateful Dead Gear book.

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  16. There is a pedal steel in this 1967 footage from 710 Ashbury (Jerry is also playing lap steel). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SC5KQsrPZmA

    I'm also pretty sure that the studio version of Cosmic Charlie has pedal steel on it.

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    Replies
    1. The pedal steel in the '67 footage is the old Fender that Jerry got in late 66 and couldn't keep in tune. He sold it to Banana of the Youngbloods. The pedal steel on Aoxomoxoa was played by Peter Grant

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