Oct 19, 2017

September 27, 1969: Fillmore East


NEW YORK - Two pillars of the underground scene, the Grateful Dead and Country Joe & the Fish, gave strong solid sets at Fillmore East at the first show on Sept. 27.
Country Joe McDonald, with only lead guitarist Barry Melton left from his original group, stuck to music for the most part instead of the shock value obscenities that so often marked his unit's work in the past. There was still some clowning around, especially well into the set, as Melton played and sang while writhing on the stage. Later, McDonald did the same.
There still was some off-color material too, but this was more effective because the audience wasn't constantly beaten over the head with it. Vanguard recorded the weekend proceedings and the label should have much good material to choose from.
The three new members of the Fish all were excellent with Mark Kapner a standout on keyboards. Kapner also sang a camp number with ukulele, which he eventually burned. Kapner also joined McDonald, who sang the title song of a forthcoming Danish film, which will never hit radio. On this, and another selection from the film, McDonald accompanied himself only on acoustic guitar. Both McDonald and Melton will be featured on Vanguard albums as solo performers.
Rock of a vintage variety was offered by Buddah's Sha Na Na, a 12-man group composed mainly of Columbia University students, including three in gold lame. The unit's gentle satires of such numbers as "Teen Angel," "Silhouettes," "At the Hop," etc. are fun to watch as every gesture and pose in the book are used. But, as with really good satire, the numbers are sung and played so well, Sha Na Na may prove a disk surprise.
The Grateful Dead, a pioneer of the San Francisco sound, have added country to their blues and psychedelic elements and the blend worked well. The Warner Bros.-Seven Arts septet has not developed a visual act, but, when things are working well, as they did during the set, the Dead has a euphoric effect that has drawn the unit a legion of devoted fans.
The set ranged from straight country as in "Mama Tried" to the blues encore "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl," the former with bass guitarist Phil Lesch producing a good country vocal sound, and the latter with Ron (Pig Pen) McKernan at his vocal best. Lead guitarist Jerry Garcia also had [a] good set as did organist Tom Constanten and rhythm guitarist Robert Weir. The dependable work of drummers William Kreutzman and Mickey Hart was ideal in the country tunes.

(by Fred Kirby, from Billboard, 11 October 1969)


See also this review and the extensive comments:

July 11, 1969: New York State Pavilion, Flushing Meadow Park, Queens


NEW YORK - The Pavilion, an outdoor rock ballroom that is really a remnant of the 1964 World's Fair, opened July 11 with a large crowd cheering through several hours of heavy rock played by Tribe, Joe Cocker and the Grease Band, and the Grateful Dead.
The former New York State Pavilion is a unique place to listen to music, with the multi-million-dollar unisphere in plain view and a huge map of New York State painted on the floor of the "ballroom" creating a surrealistic atmosphere. Despite acoustics which made hearing a problem in some parts, the Pavilion offers a relaxed atmosphere which facilitates moving around, dancing, or hanging out, making it a kind of East Coast, outdoor Fillmore West.
The musical highlight of the evening was Joe Cocker and the Grease Band. Cocker is one of the top rock personalities around today. With a presence that dominates and a voice that can really wail, he goes through the most well-known material, leaving the listener stunned with the freshness and excitement that he returns to it. The A&M artist takes Dylan songs, Beatles songs, and Ray Charles songs and makes them all sound like they were written just for him. Writhing his arms, twisting around the stage, and making every note that he sings come alive, he exudes a quality that could only be described as soul, while creating the sexual excitement that is what good rock is all about.
Cocker is a hard act to follow, but the Grateful Dead were up to the task. Bringing the crowd to its feet, the underground favorites were at their best when playing their recent country-flavored numbers like "Dupree's Diamond Blues," which is from their current Warner Bros. LP, "Aoxomoxoa." They also did quite a bit of their old blues-influenced material like "Hard to Handle" and, of course, "Sittin' on Top of the World," but it sounded stale compared with their newer work.
Also on the bill was Tribe, a jazz-blues group from the Bronx. With Tom Miller on sax, Craig Justin on drums, Dion Grody on guitar, and Lanny Brooks on bass, they produce a polished sound which will undoubtedly attract a record company.

(by Dan Goldberg, from Billboard, August 2, 1969)


See also other reviews:

April 15, 1969: Music Box, Omaha


We skipped the light fandango 
And turned cartwheels across the floor 
I was feeling kind of seasick 
But the crowd called out for more 
The room was humming harder 
As the ceiling flew away 
    - Procol Harum

Another great night at the Music Box in Omaha thanks to RFO and the Grateful Dead, Liberation Blues Band, and a very receptive audience.
Lincoln's one and own genuine original blues band turned on Tuesday and turned in their best performance to date. The entire group clicked harmoniously without squelching the opportunity for the individuals to do their own thing. The crowd was receptive as they listened to a program which ranged from the well-worn "Spoonful" to the more recently favored "Mule."
Following this primer by the Liberation Blues Band and a brief intermission, the Grateful Dead, all seven performers, complete with at least a half dozen sound and equipment men, plugged in the culturally deprived Nebraskans to three hours of solid sound.
Two sets of drums, three guitars, an organist, a congo drummer, and various and sundry percussion instruments comprise the Grateful Dead. But, there is more to it than this. A reverb man and a bevy of other knob twisters are responsible for the sound which this group puts forth.
Audience participation is an integral part of the Dead's presentation. When they broke into "Turn on Your Love Light" the audience stood, danced, jumped, clapped, and sang along for almost thirty minutes. The extra twenty-seven minutes of this song can never be done the same way twice, and the crowd enthusiasm was unequalled.
An hour-long version of "Anthem" combined with "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" closed the program. The group's newest drummer played an assortment of percussion instruments ranging from tambourine to xylophone. A giant firecracker even exploded on the stage, in perfect rhythm with the rest of the song.
All in all, those of us who care are extremely grateful to the Dead, for their talent, colorful personalities, and a great show.

(by J.L. Schmidt, from the Daily Nebraskan, Lincoln, 17 April 1969)


See also his review of the previous Music Box show:

Oct 12, 2017

July 9, 1970: Fillmore East


The Grateful Dead blew everyone's minds at the Fillmore East, where they appeared four consecutive nights, beginning at midnight and playing until 6 in the morning.
The Dead, composed of Jerry Garcia on lead guitar and vocals, Bob Weir on rhythm guitar and vocals, Pigpen McKernan on organ and vocals, Phil Lesh on bass and vocals, and both Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzman on drums, were one of the first components of the San Francisco sound. However, unlike many of the groups who quickly became successful then, they've lasted.
The Dead is perhaps the best rock band in the country. They can play everything from country to acoustic love songs to rock 'n' roll to ear-shattering psychedelic rock - and all of it well. Highly accomplished musicians, they've won themselves a devoted following unequalled in rock music.
They may be the most revolutionary band as well, for without any political rapping or harangue, they create such good vibes that their fans feel truly liberated. The Fillmore crowd was no exception. The entire audience was almost constantly on its feet each night, dancing till dawn.
The Dead build up their set very carefully, first playing a lot of soft, acoustic numbers, many from their current album, "Workingman's Dead." Then the New Riders came on stage, with some members from the Dead. Jerry Garcia was on steel guitar and Marmaduke, who also sat in on several songs with the Dead, on vocals and guitar.
They played some country and two spectacular versions of Rolling Stones songs, "Connection" and "Honky-Tonk Women." Garcia's steel guitar on Honky-Tonk was spectacular.
After another brief intermission, the Grateful Dead, with both drummers this time, returned, accompanied by on-stage flares and a huge neon sign that spelled the group's name. They played "Casey Jones" from their new album, and songs they've performed before from other recordings, including "Dark Star" and "St. Stephen." They wrapped up at 5:30 a.m. with "Uncle John's Band," the audience still wanting to hear more.

(from the Journal News, unknown city, 1 August 1970)

Thanks to Dave Davis.

Alas, no tape!

See also: 

Oct 11, 2017

June 19, 1970: Mid-South Coliseum, Memphis

This article was written in 1995, but I'm posting it because it includes excerpts from 1970 newspaper accounts and eyewitness quotes on this lost show.


A lot of people - including the band members themselves - don't realize it, but the Grateful Dead has been to the Bluff City before.
Many people will tell you that it never happened - that it's not on The List, that they don't remember it, that such a thing could not have happened in the first place - but the Grateful Dead did play in Memphis once before, on June 19, 1970, at the Mid-South Coliseum.
More than likely, the show is so largely forgotten because it wasn't a big deal in the first place - it drew only 2,054 people, according to The Commercial Appeal - and by most standards the evening wasn't exactly a smash success. Plus, since we're talking about 1970, you can safely say everyone's memory is a victim of both time and the times.
But there it is, in the newspapers of the day and in the memories of the few who saw it. Back then the Grateful Dead was a 5-year-old band that would take about any gig it could get; now it's a 30-year-old institution, probably the biggest touring act in rock-and-roll history...
So let's find out why rock-and-roll's most prolific touring act waited a quarter of a century to return to the birthplace of rock-and-roll.
[ . . . ]
At the time, there was a thriving hippie community along the Highland Strip and in Midtown, and some big-name musical acts came through in and around 1970: Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Jethro Tull, and a "Cosmic Carnival" that included Grand Funk Railroad, Chicago, Mountain, and Rare Earth.
But when the Grateful Dead, that "hippie band from San Francisco," signed for a date at the Coliseum that summer, the announcement ran under a picture of Country Joe McDonald, who shared the bill, and a later story showed a photo of the third band on the card, The Illusion. (The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock has no mention of The Illusion, but they did have a hit song, "Did You See Her Eyes?")
Though most of the dozen or so attendees whom the Flyer tracked down said they had fun that night (some said that's exactly why they can't remember much), the night was in many ways forgettable.

For the performers involved, the trouble started upon arrival at the venue. Country Joe's band almost didn't make it in time, and when they got there, according to the next day's Commercial Appeal, the police thought they were just some more freaks trying to get in without tickets. The paper said Coliseum officials and six cops entered the band's station wagon through the back door - not what you'd call a warm welcome.
For the Grateful Dead, the whole scene must have looked unpleasantly familiar. Less than five months before, they had been busted by the New Orleans narcotics bureau (an event which inspired a verse in their song "Truckin"), and now here they were again, surrounded by cops in an uptight Southern city. To make matters worse, a thunderstorm was raging outside, and there were tornado warnings all over town. (Dead rhythm guitarist Bob Weir announced at one point that if a tornado developed he would quit playing and go watch it, but the next day's Press-Scimitar tells us that "the tornado spirits hovering over the city never took bodily form.")
Consider this exchange from an interview that lead guitarist Jerry Garcia and a revolving host of others did with the underground paper Tennessee Roc that night: Roc: "What do you think of our town?" Garcia: (laughter) "I'm scared to death. I can't wait to get out." Roc: "Are you serious?" Garcia: "Have you dug the cops here? The cops here act like the cops do in other parts of the world when there's something horrible happening. When we first came here, we thought somebody was getting beaten up or something and then we suddenly realized that's just the way they are."
Later in the interview, Country Joe wandered in, sporting a new haircut which earned him some abuse from the others sitting around, and announced that the cops had just said that if the fans approached the front of the stage, the power would be cut (something which the interviewer said had happened to Sly and the Family Stone in Memphis). Country Joe later said, "I'm gonna play horrible tonight so the crowd won't get excited."
That much he apparently accomplished. Country Joe and the Fish played two tunes, lasting all of 20 minutes: "Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine" and another which the Press-Scimitar's next-day review referred to as "just a long jam."
Sally Graflund says she and her sister Betsy, who had gone to the show just to see Country Joe and the Fish, even confronted McDonald about it after the show, only to be told the problem was a "contract dispute."
"I was so bummed out," she says. "I remember some great concerts from back then, but that was not one of them."
There were problems out in the crowd, too. The police turned on the house lights so they could see people they thought needed busting. One of the folks removed from the premises that night (along with most of her section, she says) was Pam McGaha, now a waitress at the Half Shell and a staffer at the Crossroads Music Festival.
McGaha, whom you may recognize around town because of her 1970 VW bus covered with Dead stickers, said that during Country Joe's set, "There was this guy up front acting real, well, you could tell he was high. The cops turned on the lights and dragged the guy out. Somebody jerked him away, and then the cops started just pulling people out of the crowd. They told us we were arrested for 'inciting a riot,' and they made us leave. We spent the rest of the night riding the Pippin [local rollercoaster]."

By the time the Dead hit the stage, much of the crowd had apparently left. John Leland Braddock, who was only 15 at the time and has the clearest memory among people interviewed by the Flyer, says with varying degrees of certainty that they played "Casey Jones," "China Cat Sunflower," "Hard to Handle," "Me and My Uncle," "Attics of My Life," "Candyman," "Uncle John's Band," and "Good Lovin'." Unless somebody out there taped the show, we will probably never know exactly what they played that night, but each of those tunes was a standard of the day.
Harry Nicholas, who now runs Harry's On Teur on Madison, says that even though the crowd wasn't into it, "The Dead was on. Country Joe and the Fish just did the least that they had to do, but the Dead were warmer."
When it was over, musician Randy Haspel, who had seen the Dead a few times before in much more comfortable environments, sought out the band backstage because he felt the need to apologize to them for Memphis' "unresponsive crowd."
"[Dead bassist Phil] Lesh said Memphis was the most soul-less place they had played," Haspel says. "There were more people there that were curious than were Grateful Dead fans, and I don't think the audience knew how to take their extended jams. They sat on their hands, and the band seemed real frustrated. The cops were pretty bad, too."
In a Tennessee Roc review headlined "Memphis Flunks the Acid Test," Pat Rainer wrote, "the majority of Memphis still isn't ready for anything like real freaks who were 'hippies' before the word was coined. Memphis once again cheated itself out of a truly psychedelic experience. It seems like it just can't happen here."
All in all, 6-19-70 is not a red-letter date in Grateful Dead history - in fact, up until now it wasn't recognized at all. It's listed as a cancelled show in Deadbase, a quasi-official but amazingly complete record of the band's 2,500 or so concerts. When the Dead's publicist, Dennis McNally, was asked last week in Charlotte if any of the original band members could be queried about the 1970 trip to Memphis, he said, "No, because they won't remember it. They're the last people who would, in fact."
But even though Garcia told Tennessee Roc in 1970 that "there isn't gonna be a next time in Memphis," in fact [the Dead are returning] this weekend at The Pyramid...

(by Paul Gerald, from the Memphis Flyer, 29 March 1995)


Alas, no tape!

July 1970: Warner Brothers Promotion


BURBANK, CALIF. - Three weeks after release, sales of "Workingman's Dead" by The Grateful Dead on the Warner Bros. label have reached 200,000 albums. With the re-soliciting of Warner's distributors throughout the country lately, the total was raised to 400,000 records shipped.
Backing up this album, Warner Bros. Records Inc. is directly involved in the most wide-spread advertising campaign in its history. The bulk of the emphasis is in radio time buys on the top 40 level throughout the country, with $50,000 being spent directly from Burbank headquarters of the company, and another $50,000 coming from Warner's distributors. The distributors are also matching funds with major retailers for a co-op ad campaign, which is set to break during the final week in July for maximum impact across the country.
Warner Bros. Records also bought a billboard on the Sunset Strip, and the largest outdoor advertising space in San Francisco, home of the Dead, a billboard above the Fillmore West. This is the first time a record company has used the latter space to advertise.
Additionally, Warner Bros. has set an extensive space advertising program. National ads are being placed in trade magazines, underground news media, and mid-road consumer publications. The company is merchandising the album with Grateful Dead posters, stickers, and buttons.

(from Cashbox, 25 July 1970)

Thanks to Dave Davis.

Billboard 7/25/70 ad - see http://jgmf.blogspot.com/2009/12/gd-1970-caravan-of-love-tour.html

Fillmore West, early August 1970
"Tour blank concert poster for a proposed Warner Brothers-sponsored series of (canceled) free concerts to be held over the summer of 1970, featuring the Grateful Dead, along with Crazy Horse (without Neil Young) and Sal Valentino... Since the tour was canceled (it actually sort-of morphed into the 1970 "Medicine Ball Caravan" tour, with different participants), most of the posters were remaindered and never made it out of the print shop."

Oct 10, 2017

January 23-24, 1970: Civic Auditorium, Honolulu


The Grateful Dead will present a light show and concert Jan. 23 and 24 at the Civic Auditorium.
The program is designed to take the audience back to San Francisco's Fillmore Auditorium, circa 1965, when San Francisco Rock had its beginning.
Even the price ($3 for advance sales, $4 at the door) is a reminder of the "good old days."
What has happened since is history, with the Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead being the only San Francisco bands to retain their original members.
In the beginning, the Grateful Dead was nothing spectacular - just another rock 'n' roll band made up of suburban ex-folk players who were finding out that the sit-and-pluck sound had run its course.
Lead guitar [player] Jerry Garcia had gone the whole route: digging rocks [sic] in the mid-'50s, dropping into folk by 1959, getting deep into traditional country music and emerging as a brilliant banjo player.
In 1964, Garcia started Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions, with the now famous "Pigpen" and Bob Weis. Since the time was ripe for rock, they changed the name to the "Warlocks."
"The only scene then was the Hollywood hype scene," said Garcia, "booking agents in flashy suits, gigs in booze clubs, six nights a week, five sets a night, doing all the R&B rock standards. We did it all."
Soon it was time to move again, away from "straight" music into something else.
"Back in the late days of the Acid Tests, we were looking for a name. We abandoned the 'Warlocks.' It didn't fit anymore.
"One day we were all over at Phil's house. He had a big Oxford dictionary, opened it, and there was 'grateful dead' - those words, juxtaposed.
"It was one of those moments, you know, like everything else on the page went blank, and there was 'Grateful Dead.' So I said, 'How about Grateful Dead?' and that was it."
Advance tickets for the concert, presented by KPOI-FM, are on sale at Records Hawaii.

(from the Honolulu Advertiser, 11 January 1970)

* * *


The Grateful Dead, Warner Bros. Records stars, will "get it on" when they make their Island show premiere Jan. 23 and 24 in a dance concert-light show at the Civic Auditorium.
The San Francisco combo - big favorites in the hip and underground circles - previously were booked to appear in Hawaii, but show plans fell through.
But the original band now is coming. It consists of Jerry Garcia, guitarist-vocalist; Mickey Hart, percussionist; Phil Lesh, bass guitarist-vocalist; Bob Weir, guitarist-vocalist; Tom Constanten, keyboard artist; Ron "Pigpen" McKernan and Bill Kretuzmann, percussionists.
Advance tickets, available at Records Hawaii, are $3. Tickets at the door will be $4.
K-POI FM is coordinating the concert, which also will feature a light show presentation.

(from the Honolulu Advertiser, 16 January 1970)

* * *


The Grateful Dead - Warner Bros. recording stars - arrive at 4:20 p.m. today on a Pan American flight. They'll be giving two dance concerts from 8 p.m. to midnight tomorrow and Saturday at the Civic Auditorium.
The combo will be arriving with 5,000 pounds of Alendic sound equipment.
Tickets for the show are on sale at the Civic box office. The Sun and Moon and Pilfredge Sump will also perform, along with a light show by Noah's Arc.

(from the Honolulu Advertiser, 22 January 1970)

* * *


The Grateful Dead - Jerry Garcia, Pigpen, all the rest, two drummers, 5,000 pounds of excess baggage consisting of instruments and their own sound system, and a colorful, historical contingent including Augustus Owsley Stanley III - have finally made it to Honolulu.
After two past concerts that never came down, they are here for Civic Auditorium concerts tonight and tomorrow night.

But the biggest attention-getter may turn out to be a musician who has never played a concert before - Michael J. Brody Jr., the cat who's supposedly giving away $25 million. He hasn't shown up yet, if he's going to, to play with the Dead.
Waiting for the jet from San Francisco to pull into Gate 1 at the airport, Hector H. Venegas, Hawaii manager of the record division of RCA, showed a telegram from Ernie Alischuler, RCA's national artists and repertory vice president.
"RCA'S NEW ARTIST MICHAEL J. BRODY JR. IS SUPPOSED TO BE ON THE GRATEFUL DEAD CONCERTS IN HONOLULU..." it began, asking Venegas to see that he got taken good care of.

Off the plane trooped Garcia, and Bob Weir, guitarists and vocalists, organist P.C. Constanten, looking like John Lennon before he got his crew cut, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, Bill Kretuzmann, and Mickey Hart, percussionists, Phil Lesh, bass and vocalist - the granddaddies of American rock and the San Francisco music scene.
But no Brody. And no $25 million to give away.
Tom Moffatt, KPOI general manager, said he had been contacted by a Mainland promoter who said Brody digs the Dead and should be booked for the concert. (Brody sang on the Ed Sullivan Show taped last week, which will be shown here next Sunday.) "So I told him to go," Moffatt said.

"We don't even know the cat," said Dead leader Garcia with a grin, sniffing his lei. Meanwhile, the others were getting kissed by a few chicks who were tipped off on their arrival and brought leis, and kissing them back.
"We're just like everyone else," Garcia said. "We've heard Brody rave. There's a rumor he's going to be putting out a Charley Manson album." The whole thing had every earmark of a merry prank.
Garcia said he just did the sound track for Michelangelo Antonioni's "Zabriski Point," to be released Feb. 9.

"What happened at Altamont?"
"Well, everything went wrong," Garcia said. (The Dead and friends were reported by Rolling Stone magazine to have been in on hiring the Hell's Angels for security at the concert in California that drew 300,000 and left one person murdered and two run over by hit-and-run drivers.)
A local girl ran up to Garcia. "I want to know your name!" she said.
"Jerry," he said. She squeezed his arm and left, content.
"Altamont was a costly lesson," Garcia said. "There isn't any way that we know to control Hell's Angels.
"We were there, but we didn't play. It was really a riot. It was scary.
"We've played free hundreds of times and there was never trouble," Garcia said, "but we're not the Rolling Stones. When you're the second most popular group in the world, that brings people."

(by John Bilby, from the Honolulu Advertiser, 23 January 1970)

* * *


HONOLULU (UPI) - Michael J. Brody Jr., the mod millionaire who figures he has given away "about 5 mil," has been throwing to the audience his payments as a rock and roll singer at the Honolulu Civic Center.
Brody thus may leave Hawaii after two appearances in connection with concerts by the Grateful Dead singing group with less cash than the $10 he had when he arrived Friday.
"A lot of people are taking advantage of me," said the long-haired 21-year-old oleomargarine heir. "But I don't care."
He gave the $10 away to an old man Friday a few minutes after he and his pretty wife Renee arrived at the Honolulu Airport.
Friday night, after playing his guitar and singing for 16 minutes, he called for his $300 concert fee onstage and showered it on the startled audience.
Brody came into an undetermined amount of money last month and vowed to give it all away. But said the $5 million he has disposed of so far was "other people's money that they gave me to give away."

(UPI story from the Daily Herald, Provo UT, 26 January 1970) 


HONOLULU (AP) - Michael J. Brody Jr., a 21-year-old oleomargarine heir who wants to give away his fortune, failed to "turn on" a rock music concert audience with his singing, but did get some polite applause.
Brody appeared before 3,000 persons at a concert by the Grateful Dead Friday night, singing four or five short songs and accompanying himself on his 12-string guitar.
Before singing, he spoke to the crowd about helping the poor and making the world a better place to live. He admitted to the crowd that he was nervous.
After his 15-minute appearance, he said he would like to give the people in the audience thousands of dollars but felt ending the war in Vietnam was more important "than the people of the Fiji Islands."
Brody arrived in Hawaii Friday afternoon with his wife, both clad in buckskins, aboard a Pan American World Airways flight from the mainland, and told newsmen at the Honolulu airport, "I only have $5 with me."
Immediately after the concert, the concert's promoter handed Brody $300 in $1 bills. Brody threw the stack of money into the crowd.
Talking with newsmen, Brody fired out answers to questions often never asked.
"Every cent I make goes to improving tenements. I'm just a little kid, I'm spoiled. And I'm going to keep on kissing the world. I've given away $500,000 and I still have $24,500,000.
"I've been offered a $10 million movie contract. I may become a movie star. Right now I don't have any bread, so don't ask."

(AP story from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 25 January 1970)

Thanks to Dave Davis.

No Dead show review, alas, but the shows were released on Dave's Picks 19.

Oct 7, 2017

February 23, 1970: Municipal Auditorium, Austin


Country Joe and his Fish walked off with a sparse but fairly responsive audience Monday night at Municipal Auditorium. A less-than-capacity crowd braved the wet weather to see Country Joe and his crew save a near-disaster effort by JAM Productions.
Grateful Dead, supposedly half of the program, opened the show with a weak version of "Good Morning, Schoolgirl" and followed through with a set that neither impressed nor depressed the seemingly apathetic crowd.
Overcoming such annoying obstacles as wavering public address system levels and several broken strings, the Dead performed selections from their albums in a manner which established little if any communication with their listeners.
In keeping with the current pop trend, the Dead took a try at doing a portion of their set with acoustic guitars and a pair of voices. Unfortunately, the songs were not very strong and the members of the group played barely adequate acoustic styles.
After intermission, Country Joe and his people walked out from the flowers and flags included on and about their equipment and touched the audience with professionalism and sincerity, something obviously missing in the previous set.
Starting out with blues numbers which are standard in progression but delightfully unpredictable in timing, the Fish came on as considerate musicians and individual people.
Country Joe and the Fish sang Woody Guthrie's "Roll On, Columbia," a poem by Robert Service, and brought the suddenly-alert crowd to their feet with a driving number called "Rocking, All Around the World," old rock rhythm behind non-mathematical lead guitar work and lyrics for today.
Simply stated, the Grateful Dead did nothing wrong, and Country Joe and the Fish did a lot of things right.

(by F. Catherwood, from the Daily Texan, Austin, 24 February 1970)

Thanks to Dave Davis.


February 22, 1970: Coliseum, Houston


Let me preface this article by saying that reviews of concerts, which this is, are a drag. Reviews always come afterward; after the energy has been spent, the last notes have vanished, the magic already performed. John Sebastian said it a long time ago, "It's like trying to tell a stranger about rock and roll." Still, we try.
Sunday, Houston's Coliseum/Barn. It's A Beautiful Day, John Mayall, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Grateful Dead. A house full of people waiting to get it on. It's not often that San Francisco's finest come to town to cast their spell.
Beautiful Day breezed onto stage like a gust of fresh air. Led by electric violinist Dave LaFlame, and creating music which he calls "light shows for the blind," their sound is open and flowing. In their own way, they are pushing rock to higher levels of expression. Beautiful Day just played some good music and spread the happy feelings.
Unfortunately, John Mayall didn't come across as well. Maybe feeling out of place because of being the only English group on the show or maybe just tired of trying to play his new, subtle music for large audiences, he seemed content to let his sidemen carry the weight. His sax, Johnny Almond, showed soulful brilliance in taking Mayall's recent change in musical direction closer yet to jazz. Joined by Duster Bennett for the closing numbers, John Mayall was all thanks in leaving the audience. Sorry John, but I felt like the old days with Clapton, Green and Taylor had more guts. Maybe you are just ahead of your time.
Quicksilver Messenger Service, a long time staple of San Francisco rock, know about feelings, and their music shows it. After sitting through Mayall's ramblings, the audience wanted to have a good time, and Quicksilver whipped into a stone rocker that had everyone moving. The show was all theirs from then on. A mass rush towards the stage sent the good vibes up to the band, and they immediately shot them back. One musical level after another was surpassed. Their extended "Who Do You Love" was too much. This is what rock is all about. It is why the music of the youth is one of the moving forces of the revolution, and this is why the police cannot stand to see kids get together and have their high times. Looking at shows like this, the line between the law enforcers and the youth is clearly evident. On one side is a person with a gun and a uniform who says no, you can't dance and sing and be happy - it breaks all the rules. On the other hand are those outrageous kids, saying yes, we can and will have a good time. For this particular time, the crowd was going too fast to stop, and even with all the police hurrying around attempting to enforce unenforceable rules, the kids won out. Score one victory.
All good things must end, and when Quicksilver finished and the lights were up, the police imposed their order on the thousands of people who sensed the lameness of that order. With a little pushing and shoving, everyone was put back "in their proper place". When it looked like all was calm and quiet, out came the Dead, those pioneers who just won't quit pushing for something new, something bigger than life. And to try and deliver their fantasy in a barn with twenty policemen in every aisle and any semblance of freedom completely lacking is impossible. Like all good outlaws, they tried to get it on but just couldn't find the spark. Compared to earlier days when they did unleash their awesome thunder, the Dead just went through the motions Sunday. Still, when you are the most powerful band in the world those motions can be exciting. At times a phrase or rhythm would jump out and grab you, but those were only very few moments Sunday. The Dead came and went in their little caravan, moving on to the next gig where maybe their magic would shine. They are merely mortals and as such cannot come across like gods every time.
Seen as a whole, the day's music was good, the ride back to Georgetown fun, and the spirit sustaining. And if that is not enough, I could tell you about Country Joe and the Fish the next night in Austin, but that is another time and place. Anyway, reviews are a drag. Go hear the real thing. Maybe you can dig it.

(by Bill Bentley & Andy Dean, from the Megaphone, 27 February 1970)

Thanks to Dave Davis.

Alas, no tape!

July 8, 1969: Rock Pile, Toronto, Ontario


Swift obsolescence is the hangup that haunts most rock bands - burnt out in a year, old-fashioned overnight. But the Grateful Dead, the San Francisco group that played two concerts at the Rock Pile last night, have licked that problem in a simple, logical, straightforward way - they've turned musical.
Three years ago, the Dead were the pre-eminent acid rock band from the west, played frantic, freak-out music, loud, assaulting, scrambled stuff. Exciting? Yeah, right, great, but only the first time around, and after that initial hearing, after the thrill wore off, it was easy to pick out the holes, the dullness in the style.
But last night, as they've been indicating on their records, the Dead revealed a transition into more melodic, more interesting, more lasting music.
They solo with more attention to form, building neatly to climaxes; their rhythms are not so heavy-footed; and their group sound seems less a threatening confrontation, more an involving dialogue.
True enough, they launched the first show last night with a couple of sappy country tunes, poorly conceived and played with all the dripping sincerity of the Sons of the Pioneers. But they began to take care of business on the third number, playing tough, slightly acid, always musical things. The lead guitarist, Jerry Garcia, came on with especially grand solos; he picked incredibly clean lines and he radiated a kind of funky joy.
The rest of their program was nicely varied - a little blues, more country but taken this time with some finesse and wit, and a couple of numbers reminiscent of San Francisco's early rock days. There were a few things to object to - the vocals were almost all lame and badly projected, and their feeling for the blues seemed barely more than surface deep.
But, over the night, they established themselves as one of the heavy rock bands around these days, and they proved that, at least for them, there's an answer to rock obsolescence.

(by Jack Batten, from the Toronto Daily Star, 9 July 1969)

Thanks to Dave Davis.

Alas, no tape!