Sunday, July 2, 2017

September 10, 1991 with Branford: Best Show of the 1990s?

Yes it was. In my opinion, this was the best show of the 1990s for the Grateful Dead.  No doubt it was the best show from 1991-1995, and I know there were some Dozin shows in Spring 1990 including another Branford classic, but this is the one for me. I have a nice audience paying here, but take the effort to get the DSBD or better yet the 30 Trips.

The only show I saw after 1987 was the lowest rated Branford show in December 1994 in LA.  Was still a wonder for me, that late in the game.

In the amazing September 1991, this one has it all, song selection, playing and Dark Star. Help on the Way, great CC Rider>Train to Cry medley, just about everything you could ever want. Enjoy

A little known fact is that six days later on Sept 17, 1991 played the National Anthem at the Mets game in Shea in front of a tiny 4,355 crowd. Brandon was also playing a couple of gigs at the Joyce Theater Sept 12 and 13.






Blair's thoughts



Dupree Diamond Review

From Deadbase 1991




NY TIMES Sept 9, 1991

In a recessionary pop music environment in which tours keel over and die and radio and MTV stars hit the road only to cancel their tours, the Grateful Dead, 26 years old and counting, are doing better than ever. So far this year, their gross for live shows has been higher than any other band's. For the first six months of the year, the Dead earned $20 million. Playing stadium-size venues -- something no other tour has dared do this summer -- the band has sold out virtually every show it has played, and the prediction is that for the rest of the year, it will sell out everything that's left.

Yesterday the Grateful Dead arrived in New York to play nine sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden.

"If I knew what made us popular, I'd bottle it," one of the group's leaders, the guitarist Jerry Garcia, said in a telephone interview. "Whatever it is, it invented us, we didn't invent it. The audience thinks we're providing more than music, but we don't let on what we're providing, intentionally. We're elliptical. Someone once wrote that we're a real cheap vacation to Bermuda, which is kind of right. But insofar as we're providing a safe context to be together with a lot of people who aren't afraid of each other, which is real valuable in New York, I'd guess, we're important."

Part of the Grateful Dead experience is its audience. However the baby-boom generation has ended up making a living, it still likes to go to concerts, perhaps dreaming of California freedom and San Francisco bohemia. People sliding in from a hard day on Wall Street sit next to people two generations younger in tie-dye whose glazed eyes don't come from staring at a computer all day and who have been following the tour, showing up at every concert. Standard parts of the scene are the Grateful Dead A.A. chapter, out in force, and the officially sanctioned bootleggers, who sit beneath a forest of microphones taping each precious drop of music. And unreconstructed older hippies, role models and mentors to the teen-agers in the audience, also show up in tie-dye but with streaks of gray in their hair.

Each show is an event, a spectacle that draws meaning from itself as much as it does from the music.

"With all the kinds of people that come, old-timers and kids, it's a little hard to tell what makes them all have a valuable experience," Mr. Garcia said. "I used to wonder about it and worry. Suppose we're misleading all these people? But it's not really like that, I realized, because we're not selling a point of view. We stay away from advocating much at all, so people are left on their own to imagine who we are."

Though the core of the band -- Mr. Garcia and Bob Weir on guitars, Phil Lesh on bass, and Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann on percussion -- has been together since 1968, the loss of its pianist, Brent Mydland, to a drug overdose last year and the subsequent inclusion of Vince Welnick and Bruce Hornsby on keyboards have meant that the band has been changing its sound. Though it still does its standard two-set shows, with a long drum interlude, and though it still performs many of its classic songs -- playing without a set list, the band can do six nights without repeating itself -- it is developing a thicker and harder sound. Not that this has changed the audience's experience too much; the shows still feature people dancing in the aisles, performing a particularly arrhythmic dance that's specific to Grateful Dead shows.

"The band is basically a new band with the two new guys," Mr. Garcia said. "Those guys have to catch up with 25 years of stuff, and we have to learn to hear what their unique capabilities are. In the short run, it's a setback, but in the long run it's an advantage. The band is more solid now; it's lost some of its lightness but there's a little more rhythmic precision, which we could always use." Going Out Separately

Mr. Garcia has been busy recently, putting out two albums, including one, "The Jerry Garcia Band," (Arista) culled from a tour he did with his own band, featuring songs like "The Way You Do the Things You Do," "Dear Prudence" and "Tangled Up in Blue." Typically, the songs are completely remade, as much a comment on the tunes' potential as about the original version of the songs. The other album, "Jerry Garcia/David Grisman" (Acoustic Disc), is a series of acoustic pieces by Mr. Garcia and his old mandolinist friend, David Grisman.

"I can afford to be more selective now, and I have the luxury to pick and choose that I haven't always had," Mr. Garcia said. "I worked as a studio musician in the late 1960's and early 70's, without that much concern for who I was recording with. Everything I've done recently is something that I wanted to do."

Mr. Garcia mentioned possible projects with Paul Kantner, the former Jefferson Airplane and Starship guitarist, and with Mr. Hornsby. And he has just appeared in some ads for Levi's jeans: "Me, Hornsby and Branford Marsalis," Mr. Garcia said. "Spike Lee directed, and I figure if Spike can sell out, so can I."

Of all the major rock guitarists to arrive in the 1960's, Mr. Garcia is arguably the most musically literate. He's just as at home talking about Indian improvisation as he is about John Coltrane or about Brazilian mandolin players. Taking bluegrass and jazz as a conceptual framework, his solos, shifting easily from harmonic color to harmonic color, always sidestep cliches. And his improvisations swing and crest the same way a jazz musician's might, with an intensity that isn't predicated on volume. He's one of the few rockers, in fact, who can sustain a lengthy improvisation.

"I'm still learning," he said. "As long as I'm still learning I can keep playing, and it's going to be fun. There's a certain problem-solving aspect to improvisation that I like, it's thinking on your feet. There's an intellectual and emotional side to it, and the emotional side I can't quite articulate. It's one of those things you feel or you don't. The intellectual is easer to grasp, it's the bead game, with infinite ways a solo can go. Freezing the choices in time and choosing, that's the satisfaction. As I get older I'm starting to perceive a greater sense of composition, a sense of contour and development that is missing in my early stuff. The earlier stuff, truthfully, is embarrassing."

It is the improvisational aspect of the Grateful Dead's music that keeps it fresh, even as the band's members reach an age that at one time would have been thought impossible for a functioning rock group. (Mr. Garcia is 49 years old; Mr. Lesh is the oldest at 51.)

"If Benny Goodman and Pablo Casals could do it, so can we," said Mr. Garcia. "I keep playing and touring because I enjoy it. But it can be labor intensive. Rehearsing the Grateful Dead is major work. It's one of the reasons we don't come up with new material every tour. The band is evolutionary, and where everybody learns a new tune right away, deciding what to play goes on for years. Everybody in the band is so amazingly idiosyncratic, nobody plays a formula. From a writer's point of view, there's two years' worth of discomfort performing a new tune. About the second year it starts turning into something.

"But, you know, everything is always subject to change."

Photo: The Grateful Dead, which earns more in live shows than any other band, last night began nine sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden. (Angel Franco/The New York Times)

An Interview with Jerry Garcia

Richard Gehr, Newsday, 9 September 1991

IT WAS THE first thing that happened to the Grateful Dead when they arrived in New York City on June 1, 1967, and Jerry Garcia remembers it as though it were, well, the Summer of Love.

"Somebody picked us up at the airport in VW buses," recalled the guitarist by telephone recently. "We hit town and there was a little parade. The hippies from the East Village came, and we took our gear to Tompkins Square Park and played with the Fugs. It was fun." It was also free.

The Tompkins Square Bandshell was demolished a couple of weeks ago, but the jollies continue at Madison Square Garden, where the Dead conclude a sold-out nine-performance run this Wednesday. Back then, the Dead (whose longtime core includes guitarist Bob Weir, bassist Phil Lesh, and drummers Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart) were intensely playful alchemists who took audiences along on bluesy psychedelic star flights that played fast and loose with musical parameters.

Today it's a somewhat different entity, a heavily mythified and economically prosperous beast with nearly 30 years collective experience behind it. As other groups gang up to offer cost-efficient concert packages, the Dead easily sell out scores of arena shows each year on their own with minimal hype. Sometimes quality and consistency become their own reward.

For Garcia, the Dead are in a transitional period, having replaced Brent Mydland (who died of a drug overdose last year) with keyboardists Bruce Hornsby and Vince Welnick. "I would say that within the next couple of years the band will go through some interesting changes," he says. "I think we're going to end up with something more powerful than what we've had in the past. When you add more guys, you've got to have a greater agreement about precisely what the tempos are and how the time is divided. Especially since one of the guys is Hornsby, who has great chops and is into dividing up the time into little teeny pieces."

Despite its inherent looseness, and occasional jams with the Neville Brothers and Branford Marsalis, the Grateful Dead event-experience has become more codified over the years - much like its eternally tie-dyed, mainly college-aged audience. Does Garcia ever get a notion to shake the whole thing up?

"Absolutely. As a matter of fact, I'm doing that right now in a mild sort of way. Because it suddenly occurred to me this last year that, hey, I'm starting to get a little tired." Is there anything specific Garcia would like to see the Dead do more of? "I'd like to see us take more vacations!" he says with a laugh. "But if we're going to keep on doing this, we have to focus on making it more fun for us. If that means making it more challenging, or whatever it takes, that's what we've got to do."

Don't fret about Garcia retiring anytime soon; he won't hit 50 until next year. Meanwhile, the excellent Jerry Garcia Band (Arista), a recently released double-CD, documents the live adventures of his primary sideline, a rhythmically taut groove machine specializing in Bob Dylan and r&b cover versions. The versatile band's namesake characterizes the group as "relaxed," "comfortable," and "low-maintenance," in contrast to the Dead, which is "kind of a big deal." Why so much Dylan? "His songs have real intelligent lyrics. They're very resonant for me."

Another facet of Garcia's versatile musical persona, which ranges from old-timey styles to free jazz, receives exposure on Jerry Garcia/David Grisman (Acoustic Disc), a deceptively casual-sounding non-electric project pairing the former Captain Trips with modern bluegrass music's most formidable mandolin player.

"We complement each other," the guitarist says. "He's kind of a tightly organized, well-rehearsed player and I'm a loose, undisciplined kind of player." Working a similar vein, Garcia has also been recording with Red Allen, "one of the fine old voices of bluegrass."

Garcia and the Dead have always operated as an alternative to the music industry. Many of their recordings are available only on the band's own label, while approximately half their concert tickets are sold through Grateful Dead Ticket Service, which Ticketmaster and Ticketron have pressured the group to discontinue. Although the band records for a major label, Arista, its records often seem like afterthoughts to the concert experience. By giving old songs fresh twists, like a repertory jazz group, the roadwork fuels their legend while paradoxically making them less appealing to an industry that relies on the appearance of constant novelty to generate profit.

According to Garcia, the main problem with the music industry is that it isn't doing anything to support its future. "Where are musicians going come from? The music business makes enough money so there could be a music college or something, but it doesn't give anything back. It's not very conscientious."

While drugs still tend to play a certain part in much of the audience's enjoyment of the band (every religion needs its sacrament), Garcia himself shies away from the sort of chemical stimulation that inspired the band's improvisatory adventures. Garcia claims not to remember the last time he intentionally played live on LSD.

"Acid today comes in such small doses that if they dosed me, I don't think I'd notice it, to tell you the truth. Sometimes I feel like I've been hit with something, so I'm sure it occasionally happens. But I get a serious buzz just playing. My responsibility is to deliver a competent show and I have enough trouble going out there normal. The days you could get high and the audience wouldn't mind are over."

© Richard Gehr, 1991