ESCAPING THROUGH THE LILYFIELDS

#SeeThatGirl

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The First Weekend at the Greek, September 11-13, 1981

I moved from Maine to Northern California in December 1980, taking the Grey Torteise on a ten day trip across the USA.  I arrived right on Chrsitmas and my pal Johnny Miller put me up in Los Altos, where I got to commute over to Oakland for 5 Grateful Dead concerts in 6 nights.

I moved to Berkeley in early Janury expecting to see a whole slew of more Grateful Dead, but none came until almost 300 days later on September 11-13 as Bill Graham made the deal to have our friends play at the Greek for the first time since 1967 and 1968.   This started the 27 show, 9 year lovefest between the Berkeley and Bay Area  fans and the Grateful Dead.  One of my very first blogpieces I wrote in 2015 was about the Greek, which you can read again here  http://gratefulseconds.blogspot.com/2015/01/the-mecca-berkeleys-greek-theater.html   But today I'm going to talk about my first weekend at the Greek, Frid
ay 7pm, Saturday 5pm and Sunday 3pm in 1981.  But don't forget to reread real writer Blair Jackson;s piece on the first show  Music here
http://www.dead.net/features/berkeley/blair%E2%80%99s-golden-road-blog-remembering-911-%E2%80%9981  Thew shows sold out 8,500 seats each night for a total ticket gross of about $280,000.


In David Gan's Interviews with the Dead book, Bobby made some interesting comments about these shows and coming back to the Greek





As my brother Ralph told me recently, we used to own this shows at the Greek. Sitting in the bottom section right behind the soundboard, seeing Healy, Harry and Joni over there.  Friends from Berkeley like Ric Sullivan, Craig MacLean, Cormac Burke, Randy, Dr. Jordan and travelers from nearby like Chris MacLean, Harriet and Ms Vare would take the small walk up the hill to the Greek.

In 1981, I worked on Telegraph Avenue, as a shift manager for $300/week at Rasputin Records with Jim and Kent and Marc and Pat (none really deadheads, more Throbbing Grisle)  less than 0.9 miles up Durant to Piedmont. I don't even recall if I worked those days.  I do recall seeing a few Dead related folk stop in there that year like Blair Jackson (a regular) and once Wavy Gravy.  I was starting to listen to all of different music that year like Stray Cats and other punky little bands, but I knew the reason I had moved to Berkeley about one hour after I finished my last exam at college in Maine was.
There were plenty of Garcia shows at the Keystone, and a couple of interest acoustic almost Dead benefits,a nd that Phil playing with Jerry in Fairfax, but no official Grateful Dead shows until the Greek.

One very cool thing lerading up to the shows was that BAM, the top bay area  music magazine had a great cover piece and interview of Jerry Garcia by two of our heros David Gans and Blair Jackson.   The second half was printed in the September 11, 1981 edition with Stevie on the cover.  My personal copies are scanned below for your enjoyment.

Now, maybe I show talk about the shows a little :)  I saw 80 Dead concerts and these were my 49-51.
On Night One, I saw my first Morning Dew. Think of that Dead friend, it took me almost 50 shows to  see a Dew.  I'm so lucky in my Dead concert life but it's funny how randomly we can miss things.  I would be ablt to see 5 nore Morning Dews in 30 shows so don't cry for me.

Even before that Morning Dew, there was something about the energy at the Greek, as I have said before it was our Mecca, our Holyest of nights, our gathering of the Tribes, our burning Man, our closest connection to the earth, the trees, the hills, the Ocean we could see over the Golden Gate Bridge as the sun would set, the nights we bounded the most with the band.

This was a perfect little set of  Feel Like A Stranger [7:15] > Franklin's Tower [13:33] ; Man Smart (Woman Smarter) [5:34] ; He's Gone [12:35] > Truckin' (1) [12:18] > Drums [8:09] > Space [5:29] > The Other One [11:09] > Morning Dew [10:55] > Johnny B. Goode [4:19] (thanks Deadlists). This just sparked with energy and I thought what can they do to top this?

Saturday night the band was loose it was a funny night.  Bobby yells for Phil as the second set begins (Lesh was on an extra long break).   Set one was medley night. After a perfect 1980's Shakedown opener we got

 Friend Of The Devil  > El Paso
 Bird Song > Cassidy, remember this was the first electric Bird Song in the Bay Area and just exactly perfect
Tennessee Jed > Looks Like Rain
and an always nest first set China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider

Set two continued the same pairing pattern

Scarlet Begonias > Fire On The Mountain  C C Rider [8:44] , the Dead rarely played China Scarlet back to the back and when they did, it was out of control
After a strongly played set two, Jerry pulled out It's All Over Now, Baby Blue which was one of the highest highs I ever felt at a Dead show.  If you haven't heard this version, it's racked with emotion. Pretend that the 12-31-81 version never happened and just put on this on. Likely the best Jerry moment I ever felt of him singing a Dylan song.

Sunday was more spirtual in nature as Bobby used to say.  Sundays became more of a goofy show in some regards at the Greek with interesting mixes of tunes. According we had special Greek pairings with
Jack Straw > Bertha ;
Me And My Uncle > Big River ;
To Lay Me Down > Little Red Rooster and
Ramble On Rose > Let It Grow > Might As Well
Cold Rain And Snow > Samson And Delilah
Lost Sailor > Saint Of Circumstance >
into an interesting mix of
Terrapin Station > Never Trust A Woman > Drums > Space > The Wheel > I Need A Miracle > Goin' Down The Road Feeling Bad > Sugar Magnolia
Encore (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction > Brokedown Palace to end the show.   Again, a lot of rare tunes and rare sequences

Overall, the Greek was aboout the feel and the feeling, which couldn't be repeated in most indoor settings. Boy do I miss these shows.

You Know It's Gonna Get Stranger
















Jay Blakeberg's 1982 phboto from the Greek  Perfectly Captures our View from our seats at the Greek






I loved Mike's view of the shows that was in Deadbase II but edited out of later edition 









I dont havre the exact economics of 1981 but they sold out and it was probably about $280,000 for the weekend