Friday, January 8, 2016

China-less Riders and Rider-less China Cats


In the beginning, before Jerry, Bob Hunter and God created C>R, there  was only I Know You Rider. Played seven times in 1966, it then took a short several-year nap.  Next, in 1968, came China Cat Sunflower, played 9 times in 1968 and 12 times in early 1969, it was usually paired with The Eleven, also usually following a Dark Side. These are awesome in their own right. Then came the eureka moment, probably at or around the Cafe A Go Go on September 30, 1969 and the most often played medley in Grateful Dead was born. China Cat Sunflower>I Know You Rider.

Where Most of US First Heard This
The next 500+ times the Dead played China Cat Sunflower, except for the few times noted here, I Know You Rider followed.  And we all love it.  But readers of this blog know I like the unusual and the rarities so let's have a look at these

For 112 versions from 1969 through 1971, China Cat>I Know You Rider was inseparable. Oh there were about 8 acoustic versions  of I Know You Rider in 1970 but China Cat always flowed into Rider.

Then, in that rare early year Winterland gig on January 2, 1972, there is a marvelous version of Good Lovin that some how weaves in and out of China Cat Sunflower. A one-off and a wonder and so fun.
Catch it here at the Archive

1973 sees two cool anomalies
There is the St Paul February 17, 1973 late second set pairing of Here Comes Sunshine>China>Rider (I wish this one would have been done more often) https://archive.org/details/gd1973-02-17.sbd.miller.32580.sbeok.flac16 and the very cool Other One>Spanish Jam>I Know You Rider from Buffalo on March 31, 1973 (which Sirius has been playing this week). Archive here

From 1973 to 1995, there are only these other exceptions. There are those summer 1974 boss versions with the Mind Left Body Jams and cool intros (see Dick's Picks 12)

You have to go 12 more years until the experiment song selection in 1985:

3-9-85  Berkeley China Cat>Cumberland Blues>Miracle>Eyes to open set two Listen here

11-10-85 Meadowlands Half Step>I Know You Rider>Playin>UJB>Supplication to open set two

7-29-88 Monterey, only split version, China Cat>Crazy Fingers>I Know You Rider (which you hear now, along with the only complete stand-alone Playing in the Band with Brent and after 1976)

8-5-89 Cal Expo Hey Pocky>Playin>I Know You Rider>Terrapin to open set two here

That's it for the exceptions.  Now here's some interest information of the placement of China>Rider within the Dead's shows:

From 1971 to 1983, China>Rider was played 178 times in the first set and 103 times in set two
From 1984 through 1995, it was played only 6 times in the first set and 163 times in set two.
From 1987 to 1995, 109 of the 126 versions opened the second set.

China>Rider was only played once as an encore, in 1988 at Frost on April 30, when they finished with China>Rider>Saturday Night

Only 8 shows are known to have opened with the pair (but my twitter predicted it at Fare Thee Well, haha)

Every Deadhead I know loves China>Rider.  And both songs are among the most often played in the history of the band, with each closing in at 550+ versions.

However, for a Dead fan who boarded the bus after the 1975 retirement, the dynamic duo was absent for awhile, 1976, 1977 and 1978 came and left with only that one legendary version in the middle of the second set jam at Winterland 12-77-1977 (Playing In The Band > China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider > China Doll

Finally, in the first Brent tour in May of 1979,at my six consecutive show, and my 29th show overall, at the beginning of the second set at the magical Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena, there it was. And the crowd exploded. Here it here

We had heard  rumors and it was spectacular up there in Northern New York.  I heard one more in 1979, on the second night at Cape Cod on 10-28, and then one in the first set in Lewiston in 1980.  Ten more followed in the Bay Area between 1980 and 1987, with my 13th and final version at Frost on May 2, 1987.

May 9, 1979 Binghamton, Open Set 2
October 28, 1979 Cape Cod, Open Set 2
September 6, 1980 Lewiston, into The Promise Land, end set 1
December 27, 1980, set 2 open
December 31, 1980, early in set one xoxoxoxoxoxox  so awesome I loved this one
September 12, 1981, set 1 close at Greek
December 28, 1981, open set 2
February 16, 1982, open set 2
May 22, 1982, open set 2
May 13, 1983, open set 2
July 15, 1984, Why Don't We Do It In the Road>China>Rider to open set 2
June 15, 1985, open set 2
May 2, 1987, open set 2