In the winter of 1968, the Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service embarked on their first major tour of the Pacific Northwest. The Dead, in particular, were really spreading their creative wings, exploring and honing what were unquestionably the most ambitious original songs they’d written to date. While the Dead were on the road blowing minds in places like Eureka, Seattle, Portland and Ashland, Oregon, a couple of their “people” back home were busy signing a lease that would give the Dead, Jefferson Airplane and other interested freaks, control over a fantastic new venue: San Francisco’s venerable Carousel Ballroom, a one-time Big Band dance hall that was little-used by the mid-’60s. In January, before the Northwest tour, the Dead and Quicksilver had put on a successful dance there (a “Ben Franklin’s Birthday” celebration, the poster said), but the Grand Opening of the ballroom was slated for Valentine’s Day, with the Dead and Country Joe & the Fish on the bill. One of the scene’s budding artists, Stanley Mouse, produced a poster for the event with a jug-eared, retro geek imploring his prospective romantic conquests to “Be Mine,” and a pair of local FM rock stations carried the show live on radio.
This magnificent show—long admired by Dead Heads (and the band — it’s a Phil Lesh favorite) — captures the Dead at a real turning point in their career: When they tossed out the rock rule book and truly found their own sound. They tried out nearly all their new songs that night, and everyone was amazed at how effortlessly — yet powerfully — one flowed into the next and how their sets ebbed and flowed and exploded and got quiet and covered such an incredible range of textures and emotions. This wasn’t just a good-time dance band. This was serious… and still a good time!
Because the Valentine’s Day dance was a hometown show, on the radio and also being recorded for possible use on the Dead’s then-in-progress second album, Anthem of the Sun, soundman Dan Healy captured the music on an 8-track tape machine, and this Road Trips set marks the first time that those 8-tracks have been completely, properly mixed down — by ol’ reliable, Jeffrey Norman, of course — and released (aside from a few short missing passages on the multitrack masters, which are included from another source). So forget any version you might have heard before — this is state-of-the-art ’68 Dead, and you’re gonna love it! This is also the complete show, another first for the Road Trips series. As always, the discs are mastered to the HDCD standard and the package includes an entertaining and informative historical essay.
The first set of 2/14/68 was relatively short, so we’ve also packed the last third of Disc One with a selection of tunes from the Northwest Tour that were just recently discovered in a collection of tapes that had been languishing in a long-defunct San Francisco recording studio. Alas, there were just isolated songs on reels (not full shows), and the sound is variable, but the performances are, as they say in Boston, wicked-awesome, from an almost punky “Beat It on Down the Line” to a truly hair-raising “Viola Lee Blues.” The special Bonus Disc (available to those who order from the site in a—ahem—timely manner) features more of this great material, much of which has not circulated in any form.
GOOD MORNING LITTLE SCHOOLGIRL
CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER>
TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT
Bonus tracks from Early 1968
VIOLA LEE BLUES (1/20/68 Eureka)
BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE (1/23/68 Seattle)
HURTS ME TOO (1/23/68 Seattle)
DARK STAR (2/2/68 Portland)
THAT’S IT FOR THE OTHER ONE>
NEW POTATO CABOOSE>
CAUTION (DO NOT STOP ON TRACKS)>
IN THE MIDNIGHT HOUR
VIOLA LEE BLUES (1/23/68 Seattle)
GOOD MORNING LITTLE SCHOOLGIRL (1/20/68 Eureka)
NEW POTATO CABOOSE (1/30/68 Eugene)
DARK STAR> (1/23/68 Seattle)
CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER> (1/23/68 Seattle)
THE ELEVEN (1/23/68 Seattle)
TURN ON YOUR LOVELIGHT (1/23/68 Seattle)
The latest in the Pure Jerry series offers the first official full release of acoustic music from Jerry Garcia and John Kahn. Soundboard copies of this show have not been in circulation, so it’s a special treat to hear the complete two-set show. Garcia and Kahn deliver a solid performance with a nice blend of old folk songs, a Dylan tune and Hunter-Garcia classics.
This line from the back cover sums it all up nicely, “Aside from its main purpose – celebrating Jerry Garcia’s and John Kahn’s wonderfully sweet performance of February 28, 1986 – this recording clearly proves the value of vision, hard work and modern science. Enjoy it with our best wishes and in good health.”
1. Deep Elem Blues
2. Little Sadie
3. Friend Of The Devil
4. When I Paint My Masterpiece
5. Spike Driver Blues
6. Run For The Roses
7. Dire Wolf
9. Oh Babe, It Ain’t No Lie
10. Bird Song >
11. Ripple >
12. Goodnight Irene
Both releases are available for pre-order at dead.net.
A stream of selections from both releases is available here.