It’s Friday, I’m in love…

David Fredrick Moussallem

Hey, guys. It’s mid-November, and cold AF in the middle west. Another Friday, so we can’t complain too much. Hope you’re all warm, at least in heart.

This week, there’s new stuff from mostly women: Tomberlin, Adrienne Lenker (of Big Thief), Phoebe Bridgers, Yowler, boygenius, Fenne Lily (Spotify single), Amber Arcades, Soccer Mommy, Kate Teague, Julia Jacklin, Molly Burch, The Beths, IAN SWEET, Metric, Nothing, Jo Marches, Yumi Zouma, Maggie Rogers, Empress Of, The 1975, foxgluvv, Roosevelt & Washed Out, Jungle, Christine and the Queens, FVC, 4TLR, Helena Hauff, Kedr Livanskiy, Jacques Greene, Max Cooper, N Chambers, Ólafur Arnalds, 6LACK, Chromatics, Julia Holter, Mitski, and SOAK. And old stuff from crusty men: The Feelies, Helmet, Sonic Youth (actually, Kim sings that one), and Dinosaur Jr.

The header image is by David Fredrik Moussallem. Spectacular stuff, and thanks for that. Best thoughts to the folks in California, who are dealing with unspeakable hardship. And to the folks just south of California, who are facing more hardship after their sojourn.

More soon.

JF

It’s Friday, I’m in love…

Paul Smedberg @paulsmedberg.jpg

Hey, guys. Exhausting week. I hope you all reached the end of it in one piece.

This week’s playlist has new stuff from Dizzy, J Mascis, Night Shop, Kurt Vile, Interpol, The Men, Girlpool, Primo, Juanita Stein, Middle Kids, Phoebe Bridgers, Cream with a K, Still Corners, Laura Jean, Miya Folick, audiobooks, AlunaGeorge, Christine and the Queens, Daniel Brandt, Helena Hauff, The Field, Fort Romeau, Yan Cook, Simian Mobile Disco, Neneh Cherry, Tirzah, Kiah Victoria, Tia Gostelow, Saint Sister, La Force, Spiritualized, Andrew Bird, and Baker/Bridgers/Dacus.  And it has old stuff from Pavement, The Lemonheads, Blake Babies, and Young Marble Giants. Oh, and a fresh single from Disco Shrine & Omenihu. (Hopefully, LN will feature an interview with DS in the near future.)

The header image is by Paul Smedberg (@paulsmedberg on Ello). Thanks for that.

More soon.

JF

Grateful Dead Monthly: Fillmore Auditorium – San Francisco, CA 11/8/69

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On Saturday, November 8, 1969, the Grateful Dead played a show at San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium.

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In the mid-to-late ’60s, Bill Graham, whose Wiki awesomely calls him “a German-American impresario and rock concert promoter,” booked shows at a venue called the Fillmore, which was named after the city district where it sat on Geary Boulevard. Around that time, several local bands – the Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and Quicksilver Messenger Service – collectively booked their own shows at the nearby Carousel Ballroom on the corner of Market Street and South Van Ness Avenue. Graham was having capacity problems at his place; the bands were having money problems at theirs. So Graham moved his business to the Carousel and rechristened it the Fillmore West in 1968.

The GD played the FW more than 40 times between 1968 and 1971, when it shuttered. 11/8/69 was the second night of a Friday/Saturday run, and it’s a good one.

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The first set starts with a regular primal-era opener, Good Morning Little Schoolgirl – a big version with Pig in fine form (voice and harp). Casey Jones and Dire Wolf both sound rough, but the band turns a corner with a sorta-slow Easy Wind and a sorta-fast China > Rider with a great, aggressive segue jam.  Good Lovin’ is also speedy.  The set closes with the debut of Cumberland Blues – fun, but not particularly smooth.

The second set is where the magic happens.  Check out the setlist alone:

Dark Star >
The Other One >
Dark Star >
Uncle John’s Band Jam >
Dark Star >
Saint Stephen >
The Eleven >
Caution (Do Not Stop On Tracks) >
The Main Ten >
Caution (Do Not Stop On Tracks) >
Feedback

 

It looks good “on paper,” but it’s also 90+ minutes long.  And some of the best psychadelic ballroom material the band ever played. Icepetal on the Grateful Dead Listening Guide blog previews it like this:

“There is something overwhelmingly potent about this show. This second set will mine for any possible remnants of psychoactive chemicals in your being whether they were last placed there twenty minutes ago, or twenty years ago. It will even create them out of the pure ether of your life force if you never added them to your mix personally. This show is a spark that lights a technicolor bonfire in your mind. A roaring, pulsing, groaning beast. This is, after all, 1969. And it is completely obvious why Dick found this to be a crown jewel.”

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Dick is former GD Archivist Dick Latvala, who passed in 1999. On the Live Music Archive, there’s story from famed taper Jim Wise about Dick, and his love for this show (particularly the Dark Star):

“It wasn’t too long after I met Dick in person when he let me in on what he really was into for a 2-track pick from 1969. When he started coming east for Dicks Picks parties several years ago he found comfortable accommodations at my home. I had already an internet & telephone correspondence with this fascinating man for 2 years prior but had never met him in person, & luckily for me, Dick & I had several long time mutual taper friends who vouched for me, so the ice was broken in advance. I credit my wife Dani for rounding him up. He could have fun with her (and vice versa) & we could bullshit about tapes all night long.

I had 11/8 in my collection in several different forms for years, but never really sat down with it the way Dick showed me how to. Dick was like Santa Claus & whenever he would show up (once he called with little advance warning & said he was only one hour away, so get ready for him) he literally had a bag full of tapes, both cassette & dats. He good naturedley would love to see me squirm in anticipation & enjoyed teasing me, ’cause he knew that I was a tape addict, much like himself.

On a visit 2 years ago he sat me down in my living room, we smoked a fatty, & he pulled out his dat of 11/8 & said ‘sit down, shut up, & listen.’ As the opening notes of ‘Dark Star’ rang out I watched him curl up, close his eyes, & immerse himself in the sound. The last words he uttered for the next hour & one half were ‘It’s quiet now, but it gets LOUD.’ This is when 11/8 really made its impression on me.”

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(Dick’s notes on the DAT.)

Or, as Icepetal puts it, “Words fail. Dark Star prevails.”  His whole post about this show is well worth reading.  His description is colorful, and his ears are finely tuned. He hears a Feelin’ Groovy Jam in Dark Star that returns in The Other One, and shades of Alligator and Me and My Uncle in The Other One.

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The end of the set does not disappoint, either. One of the primary sources for these GD blogposts is the incredible Deadlists home page – a super user-friendly database of the band’s 2,318 concerts. Typically, a show’s listing will feature the setlist with track times and segues. For some, there are also notes.  11/8/69’s has alot of notes, and they’re pretty interesting.  There’s a breakdown of the The Eleven:

“The Eleven analyzes: 1st vocals [1:13] > transition Jam [1:31] > Eleven Jam [5:02] > Eleven vocals [0:44] > Eleven Jam [3:09] > Eleven 2nd theme Jam [2:53] > transition Jam in 8s [0:32] > Caution …”

Then, there’s this about Caution:

“On the circulating tape the second part of Caution breaks off at 16:22, as Pigpen is winding it down. This could be an hour-long reel running out. There must be from 40 seconds to 2 minutes or more of transitional Jamming missing here. When the recording resumes after this splice the band is playing a Jam in 4s. After 12 seconds of this someone recites:

When ya goin truckin down the line,
just past that neighbor,
you’re fine,
give him that bright eye,
a saaaaad smile,
and know that we’ve all been walkin
this same long mile.

The voice is not a bandmember’s. Hunter and Kesey have been suggested but it sounds like neither. The recitation is mildly mannered, and slightly suggestive of Dylan’s phrasing in Clothesline Saga and other Basement Tapes. Following these verses the Dead almost immediately dissolve the Jam and transit into the Main Ten. The Jam in 4s shares thematic elements with the Main Ten. Perhaps these verses are a first attempt at finding words to go with the Main Ten. On the other hand, the recitation sounds improvised. The identity of the speaker is a mystery still to solve.”

(If you want to hear it, it’s starts at 16:48 in the version below. And, fwiw, The Main Ten is a proto-Playing in the Band.)

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Dick loved this show enough to make it #16 in his Dick’s Picks series.  The official release is on Spotify. Enjoy. It doesn’t get much better than this one.

More soon.

JF

It’s Friday, I’m in love…

Makoto Taigawa @takigawastudio

Hey, guys. Happy Halloweek. (See what I did there? Yeah.) Hope you all got more treats than tricks.

Here’s another Friday playlist – a long one to soundtrack your leaf raking this weekend. Mostly freshness, as usual, but, in a script-flip, the rock is toward the end. New stuff from Kelly Moran, Makaya McCraven, Cardi B, Young Scooter, Mura Masa & Nao, Jamila Woods, Farao, Empress Of, Carly Rae Jepsen, Maggie Rogers, Robyn, Pariah, Aphex Twin, CUTS, Pional, Metric, Public Service Broadcasting, Colleen Green, The Beths, IDLES, Weakened Friends, Bob Mould, Bad Bad Hats, Beach House, Hinds, Courtney Barnett, Madeline Kenney, Kurt Vile, Deerhunter, and Beirut. Old stuff from Bill Evans, Beastie Boys, A Tribe Called Quest, Battles, The Feelies, Drowners, Ryan Adams, and Bob Dylan. Enjoy.

The header image is by Makoto Takigawa (@takigawastudios on Ello). Thanks for that. This playlist is dedicated to Keegan. I’ve seen the pictures and heard the stories, and I wish that I would have known him better.

More soon.

JF

Grateful Dead Monthly: Radio City Music Hall – New York, NY 10/31/80

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On Friday, October 31, 1980, the Grateful Dead played a show at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Radio City Music Hall, the home of the Rockettes and the so-called “Showplace of the Nation,” sits in midtown Manhattan on property that John D. Rockefeller leased from Columbia University. Originally planned as a home for the Metropolitan Opera, the Rockefeller Center site gained the attention of movie theater mogul Samuel Roxy Rothafel, who proposed two venues – a movie theater and a music hall. After some twists and turns (the Wiki provides a nice account), construction began in 1931 and finished in 1932, when it opened to the public.  The Art Deco gem seats 5,960, and hosted the Dead only once – an eight-night run in 1980 that culminated with this Halloween show.

The RCMH run followed a quick two-night run at New Orleans’ Saeger Theater and, before that, a fifteen-night run at San Francisco’s Warfield Theater.  Fifteen nights to celebrate (somewhat belatedly) the band’s then-fifteen year history.  The band recorded all of the Warfield shows for a live album. Dennis McNally in his book A Long Strange Trip estimated that the fortnight-plus-one spanned 800 reels of tape.  Typical two-set Dead shows were long, but these were each longer by a whole set – an opening acoustic set, in a throwback to 1970.  Mark Binder, on a blogpostassociated with a “Yesterday’s Dead Today” segment on Sarasota Community Radio, mentions difficulties for tapers:

“Soundboards of the acoustic sets on this tour are fairly common, but many dates from the Warfield and Radio City don’t have soundboards, since the Dead and Bill Graham knew they would be recording for future releases. There are many stories on the ‘net documenting how some stealth tapers succeeded, some were caught, and even one who was caught, ejected from the venue, and then invited back in thru another door.”

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Regarding the Warfield shows, McNally heaped alot of praise on Bill Graham, but not much on the Dead.  He said “the band’s contribution to the party was at a very good but not superior level.” He attributed that to a lack of rehearsal for the acoustic sets, which caused Garcia’s touch to be “atrocious” at the beginning of the run.

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That touch improved as the band moved east and decamped at RCMP.

According to David Browne in his book So Many Roads, Radio City was struggling at the turn of the ’70s. Here’s his account, in an excerpt from Rolling Stone:

“[B]y the late seventies, with New York City in fiscal freefall, Radio City’s future was suddenly shaky; movie attendance dropped, and plans to convert it into an office building or parking lot loomed.

Thankfully the interior of the building was granted landmark status in 1978, and its famed art-deco lobby and other interior design elements were refreshed for $5 million. During talks to save the building the idea of booking pop acts came up, and by the fall of 1980 Radio City Music Hall had presented one major pop star, Linda Ronstadt. Now it would host an entirely different kind of beast, the Grateful Dead, who were about to settle in for eight nights, October 22 to 31 (with the nights of October 24 and 28 off).”

Brown reported that the run felt like “an event,” and the Dead literally tailored the venue to their recording setup. Again, Browne:

“To accommodate the recording the Dead needed two hefty Neve recording consoles, one rented and the other shipped out from their Front Street home base. Both had to be hauled up a flight of stairs to reach Plaza Sound, the studio that sat atop Radio City (and where punk bands like Blondie and the Ramones had recorded). The Dead’s office had sent paperwork ahead of time to make sure the consoles would be able to make it into the building, but when the time came to install them, a problem arose: the consoles couldn’t quite clear the stairwell. After some head-scratching, one of the union workers at the venue, with drummer Mickey Hart’s urging, said, ‘Oh, fuck it—we’ve gotta get this thing up here.’ With that they grabbed a sledgehammer and took down a few inches of the stairwell wall.

Promoter John Scher, who’d been working with the Dead for several years by that point, had no idea the ‘renovation’ was happening, and the thought of physical damage to the interior of a New York landmark rattled even Scher, who thought he’d seen it all with the Dead. ‘I remember them telling me after they’d already done it, after the fact,’ Scher says. ‘I was basically shitting in my pants until the shows were over.’ It wouldn’t be the first time the Dead would encounter some pushback in their career, but this victory was significant. ‘I had no second thoughts about that,’ says Hart. ‘It was the thing to do. Nothing stops the Grateful Dead. Onward into the fog.’ They’d already made it to fifteen years despite adversity, busts, deaths, and fallow periods, and no one was about to let a bit of concrete stand in their way.”

In a story that’s featured in Browne’s book, McNally’s book, and bassist Phil Lesh’s book, Searching for the Sound, the Dead were actually sued by RCMH’s management, who were concerned that the poster (it’s the header image) by Dennis Larkins, BG’s art director, was mocking Radio City’s recent difficulties and suggesting its impending demise.  The suit was later dropped.

The Warfield and Radio City shows were eventually documented on two live albums – the acoustic [Dead] Reckoning and the live Dead Set. (Those links from the incredible GD Lyric and Song Finder break down which songs came from which shows.) Here they are on Spotify:

The Halloween show was special. Per Browne, it was broadcast live by closed-circuit feed to fourteen movie theaters around the country with setbreak comedy bits by Al Franken and Tom Davis from SNL (not well-reviewed on the Live Music Archive, fwiw).  So how did the Grateful Fn Dead start such a momentous night? With an eight-minute version of the title track of guitarist Bob Weir’s 1978 live album, Heaven Help the Fool, followed by an unknown instrumental from 1976’s Blues for Allah. Of course, haha, crowd pleasers for the fans far and wide – and the last time they played those songs. Phil’s bass rig was on the fritz, so he joins the band for It Must’ve Been the Roses. The rest of the acoustic set is fine. Garcia sounds husky at times, as he does for much of the two runs, but he and the rest of the band are otherwise in good form. Roses and Bird Song, which gets rave reviews from the LMA folks, are particularly sweet.

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(Photo credit: James R Anderson.)

The electric sets are uneven, tbh.  First one? The Jack Straw > Cold Rain and Snow opening couplet is so-so. A couple of cowboy songs, a nice Ramble on Rose into a waaay too long Little Red Rooster, a sorta crappy Looks Like Rain (Bobby clearly is emoting for the cameras), and a lively Deal closer.  Second one?  There’s a decent, if by the books (they all are, fwiw), Lost Sailor > Saint of Circumstance, if that’s your thing.  The Franklin’s Tower is peppy; the Fire on the Mountain is hot. (That version is also featured on Dead Set, and, according to ECM, it’s the only time the band played it out of Space.)  Then a fun Not Fade Away > Stella Blue > GDTRFB > Good Lovin’ segment, and an Uncle John’s Band encore.  Not too shabby.

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Transport to the Bill Tetzeli seed of the soundboard recording on the LMA HERE. That’s the version that ECM sent to me, but there are others – check out the right column on Relisten.net.

Most of this show, along with a few songs from the preceding night, ultimately became the Dead Ahead video/dvd – a fave of mine in h.s. a million years ago. Better yet, the entire show (from the closed-circuit feed) is on YouTube, as you might imagine. Super super cool to see such high quality video of the band at one of their peaks.

Oh, and if you’re a download person still, the Midnight Cafe has uploaded all of the Warfield shows HERE. Have at it.

Happy Halloween!

More soon.

JF

A Seasonal Playlist: Fall 2018

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Here’s the latest seasonal playlist from LN contributor BW.  He described it like this, via email:

“It balances new stuff, old stuff, random stuff, some you will love and some you might question my taste. I can guarantee you will find something on here you love. I made this one funky. I know you kids like em extra funky.”

True story. Thanks, B.  And enjoy, guys.

More soon.

JF

It’s Friday, I’m in love…

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Hi. Happy Friday.

This week’s playlist is a throwback to an audio cd that I made for my best friend in late 2014 or early 2015. All killer/no filler, featuring Speedy Ortiz, No Age, Best Coast, Drowners, Colleen Green, Divine Fits, The Darcys, Phantogram, Broken Bells, St. Vincent, Phoenix, Arcade Fire, Wilco, Kevin Drew, and Built to Spill covering mid-80s Dylan. Enjoy.

More soon.

JF