Thursday, December 20, 2012

December 31, 1973, Cow Palace, Daly City, CA: Allman Brothers Band with Jerry Garcia, Boz Scaggs and Bill Kreutzmann (FM VII)

An ad from the December 28, 1973 Hayward Daily Review for the New Year's Eve Allman Brothers concert
By the end of 1973, the Allman Brothers Band were the most popular touring band in America. Now, it's true that during that year neither The Rolling Stones, nor Bob Dylan nor any member of The Beatles mounted any American tours, but with that caveat aside, the Allmans drew huge crowds like no one else. In particular, when the Allmans were paired with the Grateful Dead, they drew some large crowds indeed. The most legendary of those crowds was the event at the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Racecourse on July 28, 1973, when the Allmans, the Dead and The Band drew an estimated 600,000 people, at the time the largest outdoor rock concert ever. However, earlier in the summer, the Dead and the Allmans had packed RFK stadium in Washington, DC, so it was no fluke.

Given their status, when the Allman Brothers chose to play New Year's Eve in the San Francisco Bay Area at the Cow Palace, it was a benediction indeed, since they could have played anywhere. Yet there was a paradox--wasn't San Francisco's New Year's Eve now the exclusive property of the Grateful Dead? Whether or not New Year's Eve in San Francisco required the Grateful Dead, the paradox was resolved to a national FM radio audience some time after midnight when Jerry Garcia and Bill Kreutzmann joined the Allman Brothers Band onstage. At the time, Garcia's appearance seemed to cement a synergistic relationship between the two bands that became enshrined in rock history. At the same time, it turned out to be the end of an era not just for the two bands, but for a certain aura in post-60s rock, none of which seemed obvious at the time. This post will examine the events leading up to Garcia's appearance with the Allman Brothers on New Year's Eve 1973, and put them into an historical context.

The Grateful Dead: 1973
At the end of 1972, with their Warner Brothers contract expiring, the Grateful Dead had surprised the record industry by refusing to either re-sign with Warners or sign a new contract with another label, choosing instead to go it alone and start their own independent record company. Initially, things had gone pretty well, financially speaking. The Dead had released their new album Wake Of The Flood on their own label in October of 1973. It wasn't a giant hit, officially selling about 400,000 copies, but the band was receiving four times as much money (supposedly $1.22 vs 31 cents for each album sold, per McNally), so they were doing well. Also, the band was a more popular concert attraction than ever, so concert receipts were improving at the same time. In general, the Grateful Dead were in the best financial condition they had ever been up until that time.

Bill Graham had often retailed the story that in 1973 he called the Grateful Dead in the recording studio, asked for Jerry Garcia, and offered the band a New Year's Eve show at the Cow Palace. I first heard Graham tell this story at a free lecture in Berkeley in 1976. If Graham's timeline was remembered correctly, it would have had to have been in August of 1973, when the Dead were recording Wake Of The Flood at the Record Plant. According to Graham, Jerry refused the offer. A shocked Graham said "but Jerry, I'm offering you $75,000 to play the Cow Palace on New Year's Eve!" Garcia reputedly said, "no, Bill, we want to play a private party at your house." According to Graham, when I heard him tell the story, the party was attempted, but it fell through for unexplained reasons. Yet it remains that 1973 was the only year other than 1967 when the Grateful Dead were actively touring, while Bill Graham was alive, when the Dead did not play somewhere.

The party-at-Bill's story has been repeated so many times that everyone takes it for granted. I myself think that Graham was truncating a complex series of negotiations into a single vignette, in order to improve the story. Put another way, the basic arc of the anecdote seems to contain some kernels of truth, but I highly doubt the conversation between Graham and Garcia actually took place in the form he described. To name just a few things, why would Graham call Garcia at the studio? The Dead had a booking agent--Sam Cutler--and while Graham didn't like him, it's unlikely that Garcia would have wanted to discuss business with Bill and thus bypass his own agent. For another thing, would the notoriously disputatious Grateful Dead have had an answer so readily prepared? Finally, in August 1973, Wake had not yet come out, and the Dead's finances would not have been settled yet, and I doubt that they would have been so quick to turn down a big offer without thinking about it.

With all those caveats listed, however, I think the basic dynamic of the story was probably correct. The Grateful Dead were independent, and did not have to explain to a Los Angeles record company why they would or would not play New Year's Eve. Garcia, among others, never spoke fondly of playing New Year's. Finally, by November, when it would have been fish-or-cut-bait time, the Dead would have felt comfortable financially, and willing to tell Graham "no." The business about playing a party at Graham's house sounds like a typical bit of GD snarkiness, suggesting something difficult or ill-advised, just to see if it could happen.

It didn't happen. The Allman Brothers Band, the most popular band in the land, ended up headlining two nights at the Cow Palace on December 31, 1973 and January 1, 1974. It was a tribute to the Allmans drawing power that they could not only sell out New Year's Eve, but sell out the next night also, even though New Years was a Tuesday. Support acts were the Marshall Tucker Band and the Charlie Daniels Band, then both up-and-coming, although hardly unknown. I suspect that the hidden part of the narrative was that at some point Graham must have pitched a joint Dead/Allmans New Year's, but the Dead must have passed. It's also possible that the amount of money required to both book the Allmans and tempt the Dead was too large for an indoor venue. In any case, the Allman Brothers at the Cow Palace were the feature attraction for New Year's Eve in the Bay Area--although the Santana/Herbie Hancock/Malo/Journey show over at Winterland was probably pretty cool--and the Grateful Dead were not working.

The cover to the Allman Brothers hit 1973 album Brothers And Sisters, on Capricorn Records
The Allman Brothers Band: 1973
Duane and Gregg Allman had first been professional musicians in Florida in 1966, playing as the Allman Joys. They were 'discovered' and moved to Los Angeles, where they led a group called The Hour Glass in 1967-68, and they mostly played around California. They had played the Fillmore and the Avalon a few times (the SF group called All Man Joy had no connection to them), but they never broke out of the 'almost' mode. While in Los Angeles, however, Duane learned to play slide guitar from Ry Cooder and Jesse Ed Davis, and that set his guitar playing apart from almost everyone else at the time. With the demise of The Hour Glass, Duane returned to the Southeast, playing sessions in Muscle Shoals, AL while trying to put a band together.

By 1969, Duane had indeed put a band together, with two drummers and two members of a group called The Second Coming, bassist Berry Oakley and guitarist Dickey Betts. All that was missing was a lead singer, so Gregg was called back from LA (did you know that Gregg had flunked an audition as bassist for Poco?). With Gregg playing organ, writing songs and singing lead, and with the backing of Phil Walden, manager of the late Otis Redding, the Allman Brothers Band was ready to conquer America. With twin lead guitars and two drummers, the Allmans had a unique sound that merged Miles Davis with soul and the blues, and all of the players had been around and were equipped for battle.

I don't think the Allman Brothers owed anything to the Grateful Dead musically, even if Berry Oakley was reputedly a big Deadhead. However, they were based in Macon, GA, and the sixties had come somewhat later to the South. Thus the Allmans adopted the strategy of bands like the Dead, regularly playing for free in places like Piedmont Park in Atlanta, building a loyal audience where they would otherwise have been unknown. Playing for free in the park was old hat in California, but it was a new thing in Georgia. Seeing the natal Allman Brothers Band in mid-'69 for free must have spun around a lot of heads. The Allman Brothers started to tour around, and crowds were knocked out everywhere they went, so every time they came back to a city they had a bigger crowd.

By November 1971, just as the Allman Brothers were breaking out to a huge national audience with their third album, the unforgettable Live At Fillmore East double-lp, leader Duane Allman died in a motorcycle crash. Yet the Allman Brothers Band soldiered on, with Berry Oakley as their de facto leader, and their next album, Eat A Peach, broke them out to a huge national FM audience. Unbelievably, almost a year to the day later, Oakley died in a motorcycle crash himself, not far from the site of Duane's death. Astonishingly, the next Allman Brothers album, Brothers And Sisters, was the band's biggest album ever, behind classic hits like "Rambling Man" and "Jessica."

The Grateful Dead and The Allman Brothers Band, 1969-1973
The Grateful Dead and The Allman Brothers Band crossed paths many times. I do not necessarily think that the individual band members were that close personally. Nonetheless, the bands were kindred spirits in many ways, and great musicians, and seemed to have enjoyed playing together.

July 7, 1969, Piedmont Park, Atlanta, GA
After the triumph of the Atlanta Pop Festival in 1969, which was actually held out in the suburbs, promoter Alex Cooley held a free "thank you" concert in Piedmont Park in Atlanta on the Monday afternoon following the festival. The Grateful Dead were flown in from Chicago. Although the Allmans had played earlier in the day, the Dead would not have seen them play. The Dead closed the show. After the Dead set, there was some jamming, and it appears that Duane and Jerry were both on stage, although no one can confirm if it was at the same time.

The cover for the archival cd Fillmore East, February 1970 by The Allman Brothers Band, produced and recorded by Owsley Stanley and released on Grateful Dead Records in 1996
February 11, 1970 Fillmore East
The most famous Dead/Allmans jam, and one of the legendary rock jams of all time, was on Wednesday, February 11 at Fillmore East. The day after was the Lincoln's Birthday holiday. The Grateful Dead headlined over Love and the Allman Brothers. For the late show, the Dead were joined by Arthur Lee (of Love), Duane and Gregg Allman, Butch Trucks and Berry Oakley from the Allmans, and Mick Fleetwood, Peter Green and Danny Kirwan of Fleetwood Mac (in town and hanging out). They played an unforgettable hour long "Dark Star">"Spanish Jam">"Turn On Your Lovelight."

The Allman Brothers Band (and Love) opened for the Grateful Dead on Friday and Saturday, February 13 and 14, but they did not jam. At least one night, members of the Allman Brothers, including Duane, and Love drummer George Suranovich went over to an infamous joint called Slug's to see Pharaoh Sanders. This piece of evidence is one of the clues to me that shows that while Duane enjoyed jamming with the Dead, it wasn't more important than other musical explorations.

November 21, 1970 WBCN Studios, Boston, MA
Boston, packed with college students, was always a hot stop on the circuit for rising bands. It was one of the first Northern cities where the Allman Brothers had a staunch following. On the weekend of November 19-21, the Allmans headlined at the Boston Tea Party. The Grateful Dead, meanwhile, were headlining that Saturday night in the gym at Boston University. Late that night at radio station WBCN, Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Pigpen, Duane and Gregg Allman all stopped by the studio. Ironically enough, there were only two acoustic guitars, so Weir and Duane and then Garcia and Weir played a few numbers, but the tape is more of a curio than anything else.

April 26, 1971 Fillmore East
For the Grateful Dead's final run at Fillmore East, various friends dropped in, one of whom was Duane, who played on three numbers on April 26: "Sugar Magnolia," "It Hurst Me Too" and "Beat It On Down The Line."

July 16, 1972 Dillon Stadium, Hartford, CT
The Grateful Dead headlined a small football stadium in Connecticutt, and Dickey Betts, Berry Oakley and Jaimoe joined the Dead for "Not Fade Away">"Going Down The Road Feeling Bad">"Hey Bo Diddley." 

July 17, 1972 Gaelic Park, The Bronx, New York, NY
The day after the Hartford show, Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir joined the Allman Brothers in the Bronx for an extended version of "Mountain Jam." It was around this time that serious discussion began about a combined Dead/Allmans tour. At this time, both groups were popular but not huge live attractions, and both camps seemed to have recognized that sharing a bill would allow them to play much larger places. My own inference is that Berry Oakley, the effective leader of the Allmans at this time, would have been the one most in favor of the Dead and the Allmans working together on an extended basis. An entire tour was actually booked for Fall '72, sadly trumped by Oakley's death. For the scheduled San Francisco dates, on December 10-12, 1972, different acts opened for the Dead, the last time the Grateful Dead had openers at a non-New Years Winterland show.

I am aware that there is some dispute about the date of this show--it was originally scheduled for Thursday July 13--but the entire weekend will be the subject of a future post.

The poster for the June 9-10, 1973 concert at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC: Grateful Dead/Allman Brothers Band/Doug Sahm/Wet Willie
June 9-10, 1973 RFK Stadium, Washington, DC
The Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers Band and Doug Sahm played not one but two shows at RFK stadium in Washington, DC, packing both of them as far as I know. These were really huge shows for the era, as full-sized stadium concerts were still quite rare. The fact that the Dead and the Allmans together were more than twice as attractive a bill than either band as headliner was a significant flag to promoters like Bill Graham, who would make multi-act stadium acts a staple of the rock world in the next few years.

On Saturday, June 9, with the Allman Brothers closing the show, Bob Weir and Ronnie Montrose joined the Allmans for "Mountain Jam." For the final set on Sunday, June 10, when the Dead closed the show, Dickey Betts and Butch Trucks joined the Dead and Merl Saunders for an additional set of loosely jammed out songs (as a side note, what was Merl Saunders doing in Washington, DC?).

July 28, 1973 Watkins Glen Grand Prix Racecourse, Watkins Glen, NY
The high water mark for the Allmans was their prominence at the 'one-day' event at the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Racecourse in upstate New York. The auto racing track was the site of the annual United States (Formula 1) Grand Prix (which would be won in 1973 by the great Ronnie Peterson in a Lotus 72 Cosworth), and it could absorb a huge crowd. In response to Woodstock, the state of New York had passed a law banning concerts that lasted more than one day. Thus the "Summer Jam" on July 28 was officially a one-day event, with the Allman Brothers, The Band and The Grateful Dead. The Dead supplied the 60s vibe, and The Band were paragons of credibility back in the day, but the Allman Brothers were unquestionably the big-money headliners, the straw stirring the drink.

All three bands played extended "soundchecks" the day before the official concert, as the crowd was already huge. By the day of the show, the crowd was estimated at an incredible 600,000. Members of all three bands had a loose jam to close the show, playing "Not Fade Away," "Mountain Jam" and "Johnny B. Goode," but it doesn't seem to have been musically memorable.

The Cow Palace, Daly City, CA, New Year's Eve 1973/74
The Allman Brothers Band ended up headlining New Year's Eve at the Cow Palace, with a nationwide radio broadcast. San Francisco's KSAN was the host station, and I think that its Metromedia sister stations, WNEW-fm in New York and KMET-fm in Los Angeles, also ran the broadcast. I gather there were other stations, but I don't know which ones or how many. The broadcast functioned like a nationwide Watkins Glen. San Francisco was still the official capital of "free concerts," even if none had been held in the city for quite some time.

The Watkins Glen concert had in many ways been a last hurrah of the 60s. There was a huge, friendly crowd, bands and promoters made some money, but most people got in for free, the mood was relaxed and a good time was largely had by all. The outdoor jam vibe had been established by the Grateful Dead and their friends in Golden Gate Park a mere six years earlier, and now it was almost outdated. In some ways, the Allman Brothers New Year's Eve broadcast from the Cow Palace was the last high water mark for an avowedly San Francisco style of music, jamming the blues for hours on end as if time had no meaning, with everyone listening for free. In that respect, it was appropriate that Jerry Garcia was there to provide both an actual and symbolic link to the Fillmore and Golden Gate Park.

Live music isn't really free, of course. Some entity, almost certainly Capricorn Records (the Allmans' label) had to have paid for the radio time. Since the Allman Brothers played from about 10pm until 4 am, the cost of the radio time was not prohibitive at that hour. On the East Coast, the time would have been 1am until dawn, an even less expensive time slot, so Capricorn would have gotten some bang for their buck. Nonetheless, the record company would have paid the radio stations for the lost ad revenue, and charged it against the Allman Brothers' future royalties. I assume that the great concert that was played encouraged the sales of a lot of Allman Brothers albums, so it probably worked out OK, but its important to remember that radio broadcasts on commercial FM stations were business propositions.

Garcia's actual appearance on stage on New Year's Eve was paradoxical. On one hand, Garcia continually grumbled over the years that New Year's Eve concerts weren't that fun. Nonetheless, having turned down a lucrative concert date at the Cow Palace, Garcia ended up showing up to play anyway. It goes without saying that the Garcia and the Grateful Dead's peculiar choices were only possible because they owed no allegiance to a record company. At the end of 1973, with Wake Of The Flood selling profitably, the Grateful Dead's financial condition was good, and they could afford to turn down high profile shows on a whim. Yet Garcia seems to have been unable to resist the opportunity to play anyway. He was onstage for around two hours with the Allman Brothers, a full night's work by the standards of regular musicians. 

The Music
The concert began with sets by The Marshall Tucker Band and The Charlie Daniels Band, although I'm not certain in exactly which order. At the time, both groups were rising bands that were helping to expand the genre of "Southern Rock" that had come to prominence due to the fame of the Allman Brothers. The Marshall Tucker Band was from Spartanburg, SC and had just released their first album on Capricorn. Charlie Daniels, a veteran session musician and producer in Nashville, had gone solo in 1971. His third album, on Kama Sutra Records, Sweet Honey In The Rock, had spawned the unlikely hit "Uneasy Rider." Both the Tucker and Daniels bands featured twin guitars, hard driving rhythms and country-style vocals.

The Allman Brothers came on at about 10:00 or 10:30, as near as I can determine. The Allman Brothers lineup in 1973 was as follows:
Dickey Betts-lead and slide guitar, vocals
Gregg Allman-Hammond organ, rhythm guitar, vocals
Chuck Leavell-grand piano, electric piano, harmony vocals
Lamar Williams-electric bass
Butch Trucks-drums
The Allmans played a strong but conventional first set, probably about 70 minutes long (the timings are from Wolfgangs Vault. There was a reel flip between "Midnight Rider" and "Blue Sky").
Bill Graham Introduction 0:36
Wasted Words 5:20
Done Somebody Wrong 6:02
One Way Out 9:50
Stormy Monday 10:11
Midnight Rider
Blue Sky
In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed 17:30
The Allman Brothers Band returned a few minutes before midnight. The first part of the second set was still typical of their concerts at the time
Countdown to Midnight 5:58
Statesboro Blues 5:47
Southbound 7:58
Interlude 0:14
Come And Go Blues 5:20
Ramblin Man 8:22
Trouble No More 4:07
Jessica 13:08
Les Brers In A Minor (Pt.1) 6:21
Drum Solo 11:33
Les Brers In A Minor (Pt.2) 10:32
Les Brers In A Minor (Pt.3) / Whipping Post 14:59
During the last section of the rarely performed "Les Brers In A Minor," (listed above as Part 3), at about 1:15am, Jerry Garcia and Bill Kreutzmann came on stage and started to play. I assume Garcia played the Wolf, but I don't know whether Kreutzmann took over for Trucks or Jaimoe, or played percussion or what. Obviously, this was a planned event. Garcia's equipment must have already been set up, and drummers don't bump aside people on stage without fair warning. In any case, it was apparently a fairly electric moment in the hall, but there was no announcement on the radio.

Garcia and Betts led the band into a jazzy version of "Whipping Post." Remarkably, and possibly uniquely, Gregg Allman never actually sang what at the time was the band's most iconic song. Garcia and Betts sounded great together. Much as I like Chuck Leavell's playing, the Allman Brothers sound needs twin guitars. Garcia played in the more straight ahead, major key style of the Allmans, not really venturing "outside" as he might of with the Dead, but on the other hand he played at the much livelier tempos of the Allmans.

After the "Whipping Post" jam, a radio dj announced that Jerry Garcia and Bill Kreutzmann had joined the band on stage. That must have been a pretty surprising announcement, particularly at about 4:30am on the East Coast, in a post-New Year's Eve haze. For the extensive blues jamming that followed, it appears that Gregg Allman had left the stage, and vocals were handled by Boz Scaggs. Scaggs' connection to the Allman Brothers was probably through his lead guitarist, Les Dudek, a fine Florida musician who had played on the Allmans' studio recordings of "Rambling Man" and "Jessica." By the end of the set, Dudek had joined the jamming as well.
Les Brers In A Minor (Pt.3) / Whipping Post 14:59
Whipping Post 11:57
Linda Lou / Mary Lou 9:56
You Upset Me / Hideaway Jam 17:55
Hey Bo Diddley 28:29
Save My Life 8:44
I Don't See Nothing 10:12
Blues Jam / Bill Graham Announcements 11:22
 Somewhere in the middle of "Hey Bo Diddley," the national radio network signed off the air.  I suspect that Capricorn had purchased radio time on various stations from 10pm-2am Pacific time, which was 1am-5am in the East, and Tuesday drive time ad rates were kicking in. If anyone was awake on the East Coast listening to this, it must have been pretty frustrating to hear Garcia and Betts jamming away and to find out that the broadcast was being turned over to the morning DJ.

Fortunately, however, for San Francisco listeners, the familiar voice of KSAN's Tom Donahue chimed in after the network signoff and said (more or less) "this is KSAN, and we will be keeping it right here as long as the music is playing." It was this sort of ethos that KSAN seem like the coolest station in the world to its listeners (which it was). By the time the extended second set ended with a variety of improvised blues jams, sung by Scaggs, it must have been pushing 3am. Bill Graham came out, thanked and named everybody, announced that a couple backstage had decided to get married onstage, and--incredibly--announced that the Allman Brothers would be coming back.

I don't know how long the wedding took, and I don't think the third set was broadcast on KSAN, although it's possible. Anyway, it's preserved on Wolfgang's Vault. The final configuration was Garcia, Betts, Chuck Leavell, Lamar Williams, Jaimoe and Kreutzmann. They played three extended numbers, with no vocals. After "And We Bid You Goodnight," it seemed like the show was over, but Garcia and Betts took it into a lively "Mountain Jam," which must have been pretty amazing if anyone was still conscious as the time headed towards 4am.
You Don't Love Me 10:01
We Bid You Goodnight 4:37
Mountain Jam / closing announcements 16:23
After New Year's Eve '73, to my knowledge, no member of the Grateful Dead ever played with a member of The Allman Brothers Band until after Garcia's death. The Allmans played the next night at the Cow Palace, and they were joined at the end with some different special guests--John Lee Hooker, Steve Miller, Elvin Bishop, Charlie Daniels and Buddy Miles--but no members of the Dead. Garcia and Kreutzmann had been booked for New Year's Eve, but other players were there for the next night.

It's interesting to compare the Dead's relationship to the Allman Brothers with their connection to the Jefferson Airplane/Starship crowd. Long after the Dead stopped having too many musical interactions with the Starship, they were still good friends with the various band members. The relationship with the Allmans seems to have been more professional, in an early 70s hippie rock musician kind of way. Both bands were on a high level musically, and the various extended families seemed to get along, which made cooperation easier. It was great business and good musical fun to work together, but ultimately both groups were just people who worked together, rather than close friends.

The Allman Brothers Band was at its apex on New Year's Eve 1973, and they would never attain such heights again. Various problems beset the band, not least the inability to come up with a worthwhile follow-up album to the massive success of Brothers And Sisters and "Rambling Man" (quick, hum the chorus of "Louisiana Lou And Three-Card Monte John").

Another problem was Gregg Allman's increasing drug issues. Gregg Allman's dubious place in rock history was cemented by his agreement around 1976 to testify for the Federal Government in a drug trial that would send Allman Brothers Band road manager John "Scooter" Herring to prison on charges of drug dealing. Although Allman must have had serious problems and risks himself, his cooperation put him at odds with his fellow rock and rollers. Garcia reputedly said that Gregg Allman was "a narc," but whether that was a direct quote or apocryphal is unknown to me. But in a universe where road crew and bands conspired to acquire and consume felonious substances, the code of silence was paramount, and a violator of that code couldn't be taken lightly. Indeed, the code continues long after Garcia's death: Jerry's drug habits are discussed at length by his friends and fellows, but the names from whom and the circumstances under which he actually acquired drugs remain completely unknown, long after any statute of limitations has expired.

Advertisement for a Dead/Allmans/Outlaws show on November 27, 1981 in Orlando, FL. The show did not take place.
In any case, as the Allmans' star sank, the Grateful Dead's slowly rose. When the Allman Brothers Band finally gave it up the first time around, in about 1981, the Dead were a much larger band. A joint Dead/Allmans show was actually planned for the "Tangerine Bowl," a stadium in Orlando, FL, on November 27, 1981. Although the show was advertised, it was never held. Ironically, by 1981 both the Dead and the Allmans were on Arista Records, but any chances for label head Clive Davis to facilitate collaboration seem to have passed by. The Allman Brothers disintegrated shortly after this in any case.

By the time of the Allman Brothers triumphal return at the end of the 1980s, the Dead's stature as a concert attraction rivaled that of the Allmans 16 years earlier. Yet whatever distance or animosity had set in during the mid-70s remained in place, so the natural pairing of the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers was kept at bay until it was no longer possible.

By the late 90s, the dust had settled, and various plans were afoot to release a track with Duane Allman playing with the Grateful Dead at Fillmore East, and a multi-disc set from Watkins Glen, but both were throttled by lawsuits involving the Duane Allman estate. During the Dead's brief era  as an independent record company, they released an Allman Brothers album from Fillmore East, but the Allmans soon took to releasing their own archival cds. Ultimately, of course, Warren Haynes would play for the 21st century version of both bands, but much water had passed under the bridge by that time.

The Grateful Dead epitomized the San Francisco rock ethos of setting your own path and following it, and letting the music world conform to you. The Allman Brothers Band did just that, even when that path was continually interrupted by tragedy. The Allmans were to Atlanta what the Grateful Dead were to San Francisco, and perhaps as a precursor to the rise of the prominence of the Sun Belt in America, the Allmans got farther than the Grateful Dead did, at least initially. For one night in the Bay Area, the Allman Brothers Band were the most popular touring band in the land, and it was appropriate that Jerry Garcia was there too, for what was and for what would eventually be.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Grateful Dead/Jerry Garcia Tour Itinerary February 1969

The Grateful Dead's historic run at Fillmore West, as it was listed in the February 27, 1969 SF Chronicle
I have been constructing tour itineraries for the Grateful Dead for brief periods of their history. There is so much information circulating on websites and blogs (including my own) that go beyond published lists on Deadlists and that these posts make useful forums for discussing what is known and missing during each period. Rather than go in strictly chronological order, I am focusing on periods where recent research has been done by myself or others.  My principal focus here is on identifying which dates have Grateful Dead shows, which dates might have Grateful Dead shows, and which dates are in dispute or may be of interest (other entries in my Grateful Dead tour itinerary series can be seen here).

What follows is a list of known Grateful Dead performance dates for February, 1969, including performances by individual band members. I am focused on which performances occurred when, rather than the performances themselves. For known performances, I have assumed that they are easy to assess on Deadlists, The Archive and elsewhere, and have made little comment.  I am not considering recording dates, interviews or Television and radio broadcast dates in this context. My working assumption is that the Grateful Dead, while already an infamous  rock band by the end of 1966, were living hand to mouth and scrambling to find paying gigs.

January 31-February 1, 1969: Kinetic Playground, Chicago, IL: Grateful Dead/The Grass Roots
The Grateful Dead had been in great financial distress at the end of 1968. Bill Graham had loaned them $12,000 to bail them out. According to McNally, a brief effort by Graham to actually manage the band lasted one meeting. However, Graham had gotten the Grateful Dead to agree to be booked by his new agency, the Millard Agency, and Graham would earn back his money that way.  While the Dead were not dishonest, paying back Graham was not the first priority on their list. Thus Graham sent along a 'minder,' the experienced road manager Bill Belmont.

Belmont had worked with The Wildflower, which was how he had met the Dead in 1967. Since then, he had also worked with the Youngbloods and Country Joe And The Fish. Belmont was a friend and ally, but he was also representing "The Man," and according to Belmont the tour was somewhat of a trial. In Chicago, for example, Owsley had rented a car and was stopped for weaving while driving. At the police station, the Telex spit out an amazing list of accomplishments, and Owsley was in serious trouble. Fortunately, Kinetic Playground promoter Aaron Russo was well-schooled in Windy City justice, and $2000 to a mysterious gentleman who arrived in a limousine returned Owsley to the Dead.

The Kinetic Playground, at 4812 N. Clark St,. had opened in April, 1968 as the Electric Theater. After a lawsuit, the venue had changed its name to the Kinetic Playground. The building dated back to at least the 1920s, when it was known as the Rainbo Gardens. Russo was just 24, but he had put on rock shows as a Brooklyn high school student, so he had gotten an earlier education in the music business. The Kinetic Playground quickly became a mandatory stop on the newly developing 'Fillmore Circuit.' The Dead had played there a few months earlier, on a November 27-28, 1968 bill with Procol Harum and Terry Reid. At the January show, although we think of the Grass Roots as sort of a pop band today, at the time they were still straddling the ballroom scene and more mainstream success. The Grass Roots history is too convoluted to describe here, but at this time their lead guitarist was Creed Bratton, better known today as an actor on The Office.

February 2, 1969: Labor Temple, Minneapolis, MN: Grateful Dead
The Labor Temple was at 117 South 4th Street (at Central Avenue). From what I can tell, the hall had some pretty hip bookings in 1969 and 1970, with different promoters. Some peripheral evidence suggests a booking connection to Chicago and the Kinetic Playground, since most shows seem to have been on Sunday nights. After a big weekend gig in Chicago, an added Sunday night in Minneapolis made financial sense. I assume the Labor Temple was an old Union Hall, and it wasn't too large. The Dead would repeat the Kinetic weekend followed by a Labor Temple Sunday a few months later, on April 25-27, 1969.

Commenter 'Magic Castles' on the Archive ads some detail:
the 'Labor Temple' is on the 4th floor of (what is now) the Aveda beauty school on 4th & Central in Minneapolis, not to far from the U of M. Apparently, this was one REALLY HIP place to see a show back in the 60's... I think the Dead may have been the first band to play there (I may be wrong), But anyway, that would probably explain the WONDERFUL vibe of this show! I wonder if Aveda would let us up there, I'm sure the big room/theatre is still there....
The geography may be slightly different now. Google maps puts 117 S. 4th St on the corner of 4th and 2nd Avenue, and I think Central (SR 65) was actually 3rd Avenue, but urban addresses do change. [update: blog reader and Minneapolis resident checks in with the real scoop, which can be seen in the Comments. The current Aveda Institute was formerly a department store that was next door to the Labor Temple, not the Labor Temple itself. Check out Tim's fascinating links in the Comment).

February 4, 1969: The Music Box, Omaha, NB: The Grateful Dead/Liberation Blues Band
The Music Box was at 118 N. 19th Street, at the edge of Omaha's Old Market district. The Old Market had been the business center of town in the early 20th century, but by mid-century it had become a sort of arty warehouse district. According to various commenters on the Archive, the Music Box was a tiny place, with a capacity of 500 at most.

The Grateful Dead actually played the Music Box twice, once in February and again on April 15, a few months later. Both the February 4 and April 15 shows were on a Tuesday night, and that was not at all a coincidence. It's important to understand why the Dead would play such tiny places, far from major cities. The Dead had had a big weekend booking in Chicago, and then a Sunday night in Minneapolis. They had shows coming up in Kansas City, St. Louis and Pittsburgh on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (Feb 5-6-7). Yet they had to stay somewhere on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights. By playing a club in Omaha and earning a few bucks, the band could cover their traveling and road expenses for those few days. If they didn't play the show, the band would still have had pretty much the same expenses.

Omaha was about 2/3 of the way from Minneapolis to Kansas City. Whether the band flew or drove, it was easy traveling (I-35 to Des Moines, W on I-80 to Omaha, then I-29 to KC). Places like Omaha, Minneapolis, Kansas City or Salt Lake City got a lot of good shows because they were conveniently located between major stops on the growing rock circuit. Today, everywhere is on the rock circuit, but when it was just getting started in the 1960s, only the major cities had really attractive bookings. However, the cities in between them had an opportunity to get some shows, and in return hard touring bands like the Dead (and The Byrds, Savoy Brown, Ten Years After and dozens of others) had a chance to build a loyal audience.

A local band called the Liberation Blues Band opened one of the Dead shows at the Music Box, though I am not sure whether it was the February or April one.

February 5, 1969: Soldiers And Sailors Memorial Hall, Kansas City, KS: Iron Butterfly/Grateful Dead
Soldiers And Sailors Memorial Hall was built in 1925, and seats 3500. For bands touring on I-70 as opposed to the more popular I-80, Soldiers And Sailors was a regular stop. On this occasion, Kansas City got a show on a Wednesday night. Iron Butterfly were a big attraction, and so the Grateful Dead opened for them. Kansas City, KS is just across the Missouri river and smaller than Kansas City, MO.

It's typical to make fun of Iron Butterfly today, as their music hasn't aged all that gracefully. They were a San Diego band who moved to Los Angeles in 1967. Their second album, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, released in June 1968, was huge. The single of the same name was a pretty big hit, too. Although the album only reached #4, it kept selling, seemingly forever. In fact, in 1976, the Platinum Album (for 1 million units sold) was invented so that Atlantic Records could award it to Iron Butterfly.

Whatever you think of "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" and its fuzztone organ riff, Iron Butterfly were very important in rock history. The Iron Butterfly unequivocally showed record companies that 'heavy' rock music could ship massive numbers of albums, even if they didn't fit the conventional constraints of pop music. Companies like Warner Brothers were willing to bet on groups like The Grateful Dead in the hopes that they might have the next Iron Butterfly on their hands. Supposedly, In-A Gadda-Da-Vida was the all-time best selling album on Atlantic, until it was finally passed by Led Zeppelin IV. The album has sold 30 million copies.

Atlantic Records had released Iron Butterfly's successor album to In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida in late January of 1969. The album, Ball, actually peaked at #3, but sales died off afterwards. At this time, the Iron Butterfly were Erik Brann (lead guitar), Doug Ingle (organ, vocals), Lee Dorman (bass) and Ron Bushy (drums).

According to Tom Constanten, in my old copy of The Tapers Compendium, TC had to use Iron Butterfly's organ this night. It was a stand-up organ, and Constanten found it pretty unfamiliar. No explanation was given for this. Perhaps this may have been one of those nights where the Hammond organ was repossessed. The organ arrangement would explain Owsley's snippy remark that he had to help the Butterfly's marginally competent roadies. Maybe the Dead traded some technical help for a chance to use the organ?

February 6, 1969: Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, MO: Iron Butterfly/Grateful Dead
The Grateful Dead opened for Iron Butterfly the following night as well, playing on a Thursday night at the Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis, a few hundred miles to the East on I-70. The Kiel Auditorium was built in 1934, and seated up to 9,300. It was located at 1401 Clark Avenue, an address that also included the much smaller Kiel Opera House, where the Dead would headline 18 months later. 9,300 capacity was pretty large for the 1960s, so a popular band like the Butterfly was needed to make sure that the concert made financial sense.

I don't know whether Constanten had to use Iron Butterfly's organ again. Perhaps after getting paid the night before, the Dead were able to reclaim their Hammond. In the ways of touring rock bands in the 60s, the groups went in opposite directions after this night. Iron Butterfly returned to the West and home, stopping off on Friday night (February 7) to play Denver with Steve Miller and Alice Cooper. The Dead continued eastward, and headed to their show the next night in Pittsburgh. The 600 mile drive would be pretty daunting, and ill-advised in the Winter, so I have to assume that the Dead and their equipment mostly traveled by plane for this tour.

Update: per a question in the Comments, thanks to Correspondent and Scholar Volkmar, we have some evidence about how often Pigpen and TC played a Vox Continental, as opposed to a Hammond B3 organ. Volkmar reviewed all extant photos with a visible organist, and sent in the following chart (is the internet great or what?):

Pigpen VOX B3
always up to 67-05-xx
67-05-29 Napa
67-06-01 Tompkins Park
67-06-08 Central Park 
67-06-08 Cafe Au Go Go
67-06-18 Monterey
67-06-21 Golden Gate Park
67-07-02 El Camino Park
67-07-16 Golden Gardens Seattle
67-08-01to05 Toronto
67-08-06b Montreal
67-08-13 Ann Arbor
67-08-28 Golden Gate Park
67-09-15 Hollywood Bowl
67-09-16 Elysian Park (diff. model?)
67-09-24 Denver (diff. model?)
67-09-29 Straight Theater
67-10-01 Greek Theatre
68-01-26or27 Seattle
68-01or02 studio
68-03-03 Haight Street
68-05-03 Columbia University
68-05-05 Central Park
68-05-18a Santa Clara
68-05-18b Shrine Hall
68-06-01 Golden Gate Park
68-06-22 Phoenix
68-08-04 Newport Festival
68-09-02 Sky River Festival
68-10-20 Greek Theatre
68-11-07to10 Fillmore West

T.C. VOX Super Continental (2 manuals) B3
68-11-24 Cincinnati  it is said both Pigpen and TC played keyboards
68-12-07 Louisville
68-12-31 Winterland
69-01-18 Playboy / plus harpsichord
69-02-06 St. Louis
69-02-11/12 Fillmore East
69-02-14 Philadelphia
69-04-21to23 Boston
69-05-07 Golden Gate Park
69-06-22 Central Park
69-08-16 Woodstock
69-09-27 Fillmore East
70-01-02 Fillmore East

Pigpen VOX B3
70-02-02 St. Louis
70-02-04 Family Dog
70-02-11to14 Fillmore East

up to 72

remember, this is a series of data points (photographs) rather than a continuous marker.

February 7, 1969: Stanley Theater, Pittsburgh, PA: Grateful Dead/Velvet Underground/The Fugs (early and late shows)
Pittsburgh had always been a major American city due to the steel industry, and U.S. Steel was based there. However, as industry evolved, Pittsburgh started to recede in importance. Nonetheless, Pittsburgh was still a big, important American city in the 1960s, but it was definitely second-tier on the rock circuit. Despite its size, Pittsburgh was not a guaranteed tour stop, and there was no Fillmore-type venue for every band to play. I don't think it was coincidental that since Pittsburgh was not on I-95 or I-80, the principal highways in the Northeast for the Fillmore circuit, it was not a prime stop on 60s rock tours.

On this Friday night, the Grateful Dead did headline an early and late show at the Stanley Theater, on top of an interesting triple bill. The Fugs were led by three New York poets and activists, who started writing folk songs in the mid-60s. Songs like "Kill For Peace" were memorable satires, if hardly pop classics. When The Fugs toured, various Greenwich Village musicians acted as the supporting band. Reputedly, The Fugs were pretty entertaining performers, if not exactly great musicians. In complete contrast, The Velvet Underground were a unique and fascinating sixties group who had few parallels. They weren't that popular, but just about everyone who liked them formed a band, so they were hugely influential. The biting songs of Lou Reed and the Velvets unique sonic approach made them memorable, albeit not widely appealing.

I did talk to someone from Pittsburgh who attended one of these shows. He was an aspiring jazz drummer (he later settled for being an English professor), but he was very impressed with the Dead, and particularly Pigpen. Up until that time, he hadn't thought rock musicians could really play.

Normally, when the Dead were on tour and I cannot find a date for a Friday or Saturday night, I assume that one is missing and I only have to find it. However, in this case I suspect that the band did not work on Saturday night, February 8. The Dead had played four nights in a row in different cities (February 4-7, Tuesday through Friday), a rarity for the band. I always wonder about nights off, though--what did the Dead do on that Saturday night? Stay in Pittsburgh an extra night? Go to Baltimore early? Pittsburgh to Baltimore is only about 250 miles, but it was Winter and I don't believe the Interstate system was anywhere near built up like today, so I'm sure they flew to Baltimore.

Philadelphia's Electric Factory promoted the Chambers Brothers and the Grateful Dead for two shows at the Lytic Theater in Baltimore on February 9, 1969
February 9, 1969: Lyric Theater, Baltimore, MD: Chambers Brothers/Grateful Dead (early and late shows)
The Lyric Theater is at 124 W. Mt Royal Ave, Baltimore, MD, near the University of Baltimore. Built in 1894 as the Lyric Opera House, and modeled on the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, it was  re-named the Lyric Theater in 1909. It was the home of the Baltimore Opera Company from 1950-2009, and many other Symphony and Opera companies as well. Enrico Caruso played the Lyric in the early 20th Century. It is now the Patricia and Arthur Modell Performing Arts Center At The Lyric.

Although February 1969 was a period where the Dead were in their psychedelic prime, yet just known enough for people to retain their memories, nothing is known of the Baltimore shows. Never mind the absence of a tape--I don't know of a poster, a newspaper ad, a review, a setlist or even any kind of eyewitness account, however fuzzy. Similar to Pittsburgh, Baltimore was not an automatic stop on the rock circuit, because it had no regular venue. Unlike Pittsburgh, however, Baltimore was on I-95, so more shows ended up there, even if they were in different venues.

In the late 60s and early 70s, a lot of cities allowed rock concerts to be put on in the local opera house. Many opera house dated back over 50 years, and the revenue from rock concerts might have seemed like a welcome infusion. It wasn't always a good idea. A friend of mine saw Iggy And The Stooges at the Chicago Opera House (some years later, he told me "If I was born the day I saw Iggy, I'd be old enough to drink now," a line I have adopted to the Grateful Dead on many occasions). The Stooges were the first rock band to play the Opera House, and his Chicago fans tore the place to pieces. No rock bands played the Chicago Opera House for decades afterward. I have no idea what happened when the Dead played the Lyric, but I note it wasn't a common rock venue afterwards.

February 11-12, 1969: Fillmore East, New York, NY: Janis Joplin and Her Group/Grateful Dead (early and late shows)
Although the Grateful Dead were underground legends already, they were not particularly popular outside of San Francisco. At the Fillmore East, they opened for Janis Joplin. After the massive hit album Cheap Thrills, Janis had left Big Brother and The Holding Company, and was now a big star. However, her new band, modeled on a Stax/Volt style "soul revue," was sloppy and underrehearsed, and they did not play well.

Although the shows were booked for a Tuesday and a Wednesday, Wednesday (February 12) was Lincoln's Birthday, then a National Holiday, so the shows were like a weekend booking. Although the Dead only played hour long sets for both the early and late Friday and Saturday night shows, they apparently played very well. Both sets from the first night (February 11) were released as an historic Vault cd in 1997.

February 14-15, 1969: Electric Factory, Philadelphia, Pa: Grateful Dead/Paul Pena
The Electric Factory, at 2201 Arch Street, was not the first psychedelic ballroom in Philadelphia, but it was the first important one. The Grateful Dead had played there the previous year (April 26-28, 1968), relatively soon after the Electric Factory opened. The Electric Factory was a converted tire warehouse that held about 2000. The promoters of the Electric Factory went on to promote shows at the Philadelphia Spectrum, under the name Electric Factory Productions, and the Grateful Dead played for Electric Factory as much as almost any promoter save Bill Graham.

Paul Pena, a blind singer, guitarist and songwriter, led a blues band at this time. He would later move to the Bay Area in about 1971, and he regularly opened shows for Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders at the Keystone Berkeley. The Steve Miller Band had a big 1977 hit with Pena's song "Jet Airliner."According to McNally, one of these Electric Factory shows ended at 5:38am. I did hear an apocryphal story about this once, and it was quite amazing thirty years later to find out that it was largely true.

Ralph Gleason's Ad-Lib column in the SF Chronicle from February 19, 1969, only lists the San Jose band Weird Herald at The Matrix
February 19, 1969: The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: High Country
One of the most curious and fascinating Jerry Garcia tapes is from the Matrix dated February 19, 1969. On that tape, Garcia plays banjo in a bluegrass quartet, the only known instance of Garcia playing live banjo between 1965 and 1973. There isn't any doubt about it: in between songs, Garcia is plainly audible, discussing the next number with the other musicians.

High Country was a Berkeley bluegrass group that had been formed in 1968. Initially it was a duo, featuring guitarist Mylos Sonka and mandolinist Butch Waller. Waller had been in a group back in '62 called The Westport Singers, and he and bandmate Herb Pedersen were friends with Garcia, David Nelson and others, as the number of bluegrass pickers in the Bay Area was small indeed. Waller and Pedersen had gone on to form the Pine Valley Boys by 1963, and Nelson joined them in 1964. The Pine Valley Boys faded away by the end of 1966.

However, by early 1969, High Country had started to expand its membership, and a number of old Palo Altans joined in, including Nelson, Rick Shubb and Peter Grant.At the time, High Country had a sort of rotating membership, not uncommon for a bluegrass group. Waller (mandolin) and Rich Wilbur (guitar and bass) were the core members. Nelson was a sort of adjunct member, as was Richard Greene. Shubb and Grant alternated as banjo players, depending on availability. It seems, however, that on this specific date neither Shubb nor Grant could play, so the only other available Palo Altan banjo player filled in. The set is a fine one, with Waller on mandolin and lead vocals, Nelson on guitar and vocals, Wilbur on bass and vocals, and Garcia on banjo but not singing. All the songs are bluegrass standards.

Matrix tapes are hard to date for a variety of reasons, and some of the dates that circulate from Matrix sources can be doubted. One of the confusing things about assuming that High Country played the Matrix with Garcia on February 19 is that the Grateful Dead played the Fillmore West that very same night (see below). On the other hand, when questioned about it by David Gans, Nelson specifically recalled playing the Matrix with High Country. Equally confusingly, however, was that other groups were booked at the Matrix on that night: Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady (ie Hot Tuna) and a San Jose group, Weird Herald were both advertised, and its possible that both played, as the bands were friends.

I have speculated about the date of this tape a number of times, but my current thinking is that High Country played what amounted to a "dinner show" at The Matrix, and then Garcia went over to the Fillmore. It's possible that High Country effectively replaced Weird Herald as the opener for Jorma and Jack, and it's equally plausible that they played about 7:00 in the evening, and the regular bands went on as scheduled. The audience on the Matrix tape sounds tiny, about right for a bluegrass show in 1969, so it's as good a proposition as any.

February 19, 1969: Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA: Grateful Dead/Golden Toad "Celestial Synapse"
On Wednesday, February 19, the Grateful Dead were the headline performers at a private event held at the Fillmore West, "The Frontiers Of Science Celestial Synapse." The event was not advertised, and 1500 guests simply received invitations. However, the fact of the event is not in doubt, as the night was described in detail in the April 5, 1969 edition of Rolling Stone. The Celestial Synapse was the beginning of a 5-day conference on various weighty matters. According to the description, the Dead played for four hours. Opening the show was the Berkeley band The Golden Toad, a unique aggregation headed by Owsley's old friend Bob Thomas. Thomas is best known in Grateful Dead circles as an artist, and he was responsible for the 'Lightning Bolt' Grateful Dead logo.

Interestingly, the Rolling Stone article says that "Originally the concert was to be recorded for inclusion on the next Dead album, but last-minute difficulties in setting up the recording equipment scotched that." Nonetheless, some determined scholarly analysis has determined that a fine tape nonetheless survived, if not one recorded on a 16-track. 

The confirmed February 19 Celestial Synapse date, of course, throws the Matrix date into question. After going around and around with various scenarios, none of which quite work out, I am currently favoring the idea that Garcia simply played an early bluegrass set at the Matrix and then hopped over to the Fillmore West for four hours of psychedelic madness.

The poster for the week of Feb 21-March 1, 1969, for the Dream Bowl in Vallejo, CA
February 21-22, 1969: Dream Bowl, Vallejo, CA: Grateful Dead/Dancing Food & Entertainment/Amber Wine
Vallejo, California is the largest city in Solano County, which is just East of Napa County. Vallejo provided access to San Francisco Bay for farmers from Solano, Napa and Sonoma. The area had become prosperous at the turn of the 20th Century when the San Francisco, Napa and Calistoga Railroad provided electric rail and a ferry connection to San Francisco. The Dream Bowl was a quonset-style building, near Vallejo but actually in Napa County, near the junction of Napa Highway (CA 29) and Jameson Canyon Road.

Although the run of "psychedelic" rock shows at the Dream Bowl is quite brief, it had been a music venue since the 1930s--possibly earlier--and had hosted big bands, Texas Swing music, rhythm and blues, country stars and teen rock and roll dances prior to its hippie incarnation. I have discussed the whole story of how psychedelic music invaded Napa, along with the brief flowering of The Dream Bowl in its hippie incarnation, so I won't recap it all here. Suffice to say, the Dream Bowl only put on hippie shows from February to April 1969. Eyewitnesses report that the little building held about six or seven hundred people. At the time, the area was fairly agricultural, and the Dream Bowl was at an isolated junction.

However, since two fine tapes of the Grateful Dead at the Dream Bowl, recorded on February 21 and 22, 1969, have endured, the Dream Bowl did not quite pass into the aether. For its two month ballroom incarnation, it mostly featured bands booked by the Millard Agency, who included the Dead. Dancing Food & Entertainment was also a Millard band, featuring violinist Naomi Ruth Eisenberg, later in Dan Hicks And The Hot Licks, and bassist Tom Glass (ex Jazz Mice and Redwood Canyon Ramblers, and aka the artist 'Ned Lamont'). Amber Wine seems to have been a local band.

The SF Chronicle of Monday, February 24, 1969 listed the "Hearbeats" with Jerry Garia, Phil Lesch and Bill Sommers.
Ralph Gleason's Wednesday, February 26 column also listed Sommers and The Heartbeats
February 24 and 26, 1969: The Matrix, San Francisco, CA: Mickey Hart and The Hartbeats/Frumious Bandersnatch (24th only)
 As if a Winter tour of the East Coast, mixing Aoxomoxoa and trying to record Live/Dead weren't enough, Garcia, Hart, Lesh and Kreutzmann went to the Matrix to jam on a few nights. I have speculated that the High Country bluegrass tape was recorded as an opener for one of these nights, and I suppose its possible.

I assume that the Matrix generally phoned in their copy to the Chronicle, so the mistaken spellings of 'Heartbeats' and 'Lesch' aren't meaningful, but why would Kreutzmann have used the name "Bill Sommers?" Kreutzmann had a fake ID with that name, which he needed until about 1968, accounting for occasional early references to him as 'Bill Sommers' or 'Bill The Drummer.' But why carry on the facade into 1969? I have speculated at length about these shows elsewhere, although any new information or speculation is always welcome.

Ralph Gleason wrote about seeing the Grateful Dead at Fillmore West in his Monday, March 3 column in the SF Chronicle
February 27, 1969: Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA: Grateful Dead/Pentangle/Sir Douglas Quintet
February 28, 1969: Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA: Grateful Dead/Pentangle/Sir Douglas Quintet/Shades Of Joy
March 1-2, 1969: Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA: Grateful Dead/Pentangle/Frumious Bandersnatch
After a furious month of touring, in which the Grateful Dead had already played 14 dates, including many lengthy or double shows, not to mention three extra Garcia dates and working on Aoxomoxoa, they ended the month with perhaps their most famous engagement. A four-night stand at Fillmore West formed the core of Live/Dead, with the iconic "Dark Star" recorded the very first night, on Thursday, February 27. Every note of the Grateful Dead performances from that weekend has been released, and they are truly memorable. For once, with everything on the line and the state-of-the-art 16-track Ampex recorder rolling, the Grateful Dead got around on the fastball and hit it hard, driving it deep into the left field seats. Live/Dead stands as the grand slam of rock live albums, holding up as well today as the first time we all heard it.

As if that weren't enough, the main opening act for the weekend was the fine English group Pentangle. Pentangle's then-unique lineup of two acoustic guitars and a rhythm section was a huge influential on Jerry Garcia, and it laid the groundwork for the Grateful Dead's intermittent acoustic sets over ensuing decades. One night, probably Friday (February 28), there was an opening set by the group Shades Of Joy, featuring Martin Fierro. While its doubtful Garcia heard him, it's still a nice confluence. Fierro probably played with Doug Sahm as well. Sahm opened the first two nights, and was probably pushed off the bill after a dispute with Bill Graham, and replaced by the local group Frumious Bandersnatch, another Millard client.

I have discussed the importance of Pentangle at length, and also ruminated about The Shades Of Joy as well. For a great eyewitness account of Saturday, March 1, complete with photos, take a look at this great post on the Cryptical Developments blog.