Top 100 Shows Off the Beaten Path Project
The Unofficial 31 Days of Dead
Top 31 Jam Segments
Bird Song
China Cat Sunflower> I Know You Rider
Dancing in the Street
Dark Star
Eyes of the World
Help on the Way> Slipknot!> Franklin's Tower
Here Comes Sunshine
Let It Grow
Lost Sailor> Saint of Circumstance
Morning Dew
Playing in the Band
Scarlet Begonias> Fire on the Mountain
Shakedown Street
Stella Blue
Terrapin Station
The Eleven
The Music Never Stopped
The Other One
Turn on Your Love Light

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The Unofficial 31 Days Of Dead - 2012

Clicking the, "Read Daily Write-Up" link will bring you down the page to read a review of, or the reason for making, the pick. At the bottom of each write-up is a link to where you can stream the music, and sometimes youtube video links, images of concert posters, concert reviews, and other miscellaneous goodies.

2012 Track Listing
1. Intro > He Was A Friend - 4/23/69, The Ark, Boston, MA - Read Daily Write-Up
2. Jack Straw - 1/11/79, Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY - Read Daily Write-Up
3. Deal - 5/1/81, Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA - Read Daily Write-Up
4. Bird Song - 3/26/87, Hartford Civic Center, Hartford, CT - Read Daily Write-Up
5. Terrapin > Jam - 4/29/80, Fox Theater, Atlanta, GA - Read Daily Write-Up
6. Space > Estimated Prophet > The Other One - 7/1/78, Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO - Read Daily Write-Up
7. Box of Rain - 9/19/87, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY - Read Daily Write-Up
8. Goin' Down The Road Feelin' Bad - 11/26/72, San Antonio Civic Auditorium, San Antonio, TX - Read Daily Write-Up
9. Me And My Uncle - 2/22/74, Winterland, San Francisco, CA - Read Daily Write-Up
10. Here Comes Sunshine > China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider - 2/17/73, St. Paul Auditorium, St. Paul, MN - Read Daily Write-Up
11. Playing In The Band > Stronger Than Dirt Or Milkin' The Turkey - 7/16/76, Orpheum Theatre, San Francisco, CA - Read Daily Write-Up
12. Cosmic Charlie - 1/2/70, Fillmore East, New York, NY - Read Daily Write-Up
13. Cold Rain and Snow - 10/12/83, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY - Read Daily Write-Up
14. Lost Sailor > Saint Of Circumstance > Touch Of Grey - 10/10/82, Frost Amphitheatre, Palo Alto, CA - Read Daily Write-Up
15. The Wheel > Wharf Rat - 5/7/77, Boston Garden, Boston, MA - Read Daily Write-Up
16. El Paso - 2/9/73, Roscoe Maples Pavilion, Stanford U. - Palo Alto, CA - Read Daily Write-Up
17. Viola Lee Blues > Feedback - 4/12/70, Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA - Read Daily Write-Up
18. Dark Star > Comes A Time - 7/18/72, Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ - Read Daily Write-Up
19. Jam > Jack-A-Roe - 11/20/78, Cleveland Music Hall, Cleveland, OH - Read Daily Write-Up
20. Black-Throated Wind - 2/21/95, Delta Center, Salt Lake City, UT - Read Daily Write-Up
21. Help on the Way > Slipknot > Franklin's Tower - 5/9/77, Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo, NY - Read Daily Write-Up
22. Weather Report Suite > Let It Grow > Spanish Jam - 7/19/74, Selland Arena, Fresno, CA - Read Daily Write-Up
23. Eyes Of The World - 6/10/73, RFK Stadium, Washington DC - Read Daily Write-Up
24. Crazy Fingers > Stella Blue - 6/26/76, Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, IL - Read Daily Write-Up
25. Lazy Lightning > Supplication - 11/9/79, Buffalo Auditorium, Buffalo, NY - Read Daily Write-Up
26. Scarlet Begonias > Fire On The Mountain - 4/24/78, Horton Field House, Normal, IL - Read Daily Write-Up
27. The Eleven - 10/12/68, Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, CA - Read Daily Write-Up
28. It Hurts Me Too, Beat It On Down The Line - 4/26/71, Fillmore East, New York, NY with Duane Allman - Read Daily Write-Up
29. Alligator Jam - 6/6/70, Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA - Read Daily Write-Up
30. Not Fade Away > Darkness Jam > China Cat Jam > Not Fade Away > Turn On Your Lovelight, Phil and Pigpen speak - 9/19/70, Fillmore East, New York, NY - Read Daily Write-Up
31. Truckin' > The Other One > Morning Dew - 12/31/72, Winterland, San Francisco, CA - Read Daily Write-Up
32. Thanks Bill Graham > Sugar Magnolia - 12/31/72, Winterland, San Francisco, CA - Read Daily Write-Up

December 1 
Introduction > He Was A Friend of Mine 
4/23/69 The Ark, Boston, MA
On the heels of two sensational shows, the Dead wrap up a three-night stint at The Ark in Boston in April 1969 with an epic blowout performance. Cries of "Speech!" and "Hear, hear!" from the stage begin. This leads to what is arguably the band’s best introduction ever. To set the scene I’ll use the narrative Joe Kolbenschlag wrote to accompany his excellent compilation of these shows titled, Steel Cut Oats Vol. #6: Raiding The Ark: 
Unlike with New York’s Fillmore East, the Grateful Dead had yet to establish a solid home base in Boston – up until these three incredible nights, they had only played one other set of shows in the area occurring in late ’67. The lack of a core community in Beantown was made clear before the band kicks off the first night’s set. The crowd was treated to a 5 second ho-hum intro of the group simply as ‘some guys from the West Coast’. Two mind-bending shows later, and before the final night began, the same announcer sheepishly addressed the crowd with one of the most appreciative, stoned, and over-excited intros I’ve ever heard – the band had clearly transformed mere ticket holders into legit fans in just a few nights.

After making such a passionate introduction it would only seem logical that the band would charge right into a well-known rocker like St. Stephen, Not Fade Away, or Hard To Handle. Wrong! The band was too young and smart-assed to engage in such predictable behavior. Instead, they did the opposite by easing into “He Was A Friend of Mine” – an obscure, mellow traditional folk song that had been performed only a handful of times. The choice makes perfect sense if you think about the Grateful Dead’s history with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. Seizing the opportunity to pull a prank, the Dead were not going to let this poor guy off the hook that easy for his blunder. Pranks aside, this long, folky opener is a joy to behold with beautiful three-part harmonies and stellar guitar work by both Jerry and Bobby. I have always thought that this song may have been the inspiration for “Attics of My Life” which was recorded for American Beauty in 1970. This run of shows from the Ark is the crème de la crème for 1969. Where is the official box set? Back to Top.

Archive Link: 

December 2 
Jack Straw 
1/11/79 Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY
A monster “Straw” taken from a rare January tour in the Northeast that had been rescheduled due to Garcia’s illness in November 1978 (check out the tapes from 11/24/78 if you don’t know what I’m referring to). The weather for this tour was dark, cold and wet. Also looming large was the imminent departure of the Godchauxs. Notwithstanding the morose backdrop, the music was actually quite hot as exemplified by this highly charged version of Jack Straw. Perhaps inspired by Bobby’s ad lib verse, “we used to play for acid now we play for Clive” (a reference to former Arista Records president, Clive Davis), Jerry goes for broke and unleashes a fury of notes at breathtaking speed. The soundboard which just surfaced a few years ago is admittedly a bit sterile making this show a great candidate to receive the matrix treatment. Calling Hunter Seamons! Back to Top.

Archive Link:

December 3 
5/1/81 Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA
This searing version of Deal from the fabled Hampton Coliseum will certainly burn off both of your little ears! Back to Top.

Archive Link:

December 4 
Bird Song 
3/26/87 Hartford Civic Center, Hartford, CT
I have heard people complain that there were no “jams” in the comeback year of 1987. Well, that is just poppycock! This transcendent version of Bird Song flips the bird to all of the naysayers. In fact, it might just be the jam of the year if it were not for the 15-minute Playin’ In The Band from 9/19/87. This Bird Song is quite the journey as it traverses through beautiful, quiet green valleys and then soars high above snow-capped mountains into the heavens. The band hits peak after majestic peak with crashing chords, each time taking it a notch further. The result is extremely powerful and exciting. You can feel the electricity running through the feverish East Coast crowd as they were seeing and hearing first hand that Jerry and the Grateful Dead were truly "back." Back to Top.

Archive Link: 

December 5 
Terrapin Station > Almost Playin’ Jam 
4/29/80 Fox Theater, Atlanta, GA
Jerry Garcia's lyric amnesia was all too common in the '90's but it also happened on rare occasions in other eras too such as during this version of Terrapin Station at the Fox Theater in 1980. Coming out of the composed guitar solo, Jerry just can't seem to remember the verse, "The sailor coming out again..." His band mates do their best to help by repeating the instrumental part several times but Jerry comes up with a big goose egg. Eventually he gets it and the band finishes strongly, if not triumphantly. 

Flubs aside, I find myself drawn to this version of Terrapin. Maybe it's Jerry's fragile vocal phrasings that seemingly drip with emotion. Maybe it is Brent and Bobby's beautiful vocal harmonies which were consistently on point during 1979-80 and which were likely the payoff from spending time in the studio working Brent into the band and recording Go To Heaven. Or, maybe it is the excellent MOTB Barry Glassberg audience source recording. But, I think the main reason I love this version of Terrapin is the 7-minute JAM that is tacked on to the end. I suppose this was the band's way of "rewarding" to the audience for the botched lyrics. 

The jam starts out sounding like it may lead right into Playin In The Band. But, it appears that Bobby is not quite ready to commit. I mean, lyric amnesia is contagious, right, man? So, off Jerry goes into a deliciously spacey Playin' jam. There is more hinting at Playin In The Band proper but Bobby will have none of it. It's almost as if he is saying, "You can keep your lyric amnesia, Garcia. I’ve had more than my share!" I love the tension! Back into Playin Jam which eventually melts into Drums. Back to Top.

Archive Link: 

December 6 
Space > Estimated Prophet > The Other One 
7/1/78 Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, KS
Talk about a strange and obscure show. The Dead played a single-set show at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City as the opening act for Willie Nelson's annual Fourth of July picnic. There is no soundboard in the vault. In fact, there is only one known audience recording to document this concert courtesy of legendary taper Dr. Bob Wagner. But, there is just as much magic here – if not more – than there was at Red Rocks later in the week. Judas! Say it ain't so! The song combo here is identical to Red Rocks (i.e., Estimated > Other One) but in my opinion this version easily surpasses Red Rocks. If this show was available on soundboard it would rank high on everybody's Best of 1978 list. 

Today’s selection begins with Jerry noodling over Drums. His tone and style sound similar to his “Close Encounters Space” from the epic show in Eugene on 1/22/78 (see 2010 “31 Days”). This kind of weirdness always provides a clue that good things are to come. Eventually, he dials up the mutron signaling the start of Estimated Prophet. This version is incredible. The buoyant “California” jam is huge but the outro jam is even better. Similar to the Red Rocks version, it starts out quiet, dark, and smokey. Garcia patiently crafts a stunning jam that gradually builds - his playing becoming more urgent. The band is right there with him. Game on! A groove is found and the band is swinging! The notes soar higher and the music gets more intense. The climax is reached when Jerry suddenly takes off into a sustained trill. I'm guessing that the poor fans who came to get mellow at a Willie Nelson concert didn't know what hit'em! 

With nary a moment to catch your breath the band drops right into The Other One. This driven version comes dangerously close to dethroning the epic versions in 1978 from the Uni-Dome (2/5/78) and Winterland (10/21/78). Unlike those versions which shone brightly at the end, this one has a real edge to it throughout the entire song. The momentum builds quickly. The sheer power and energy is simply breathtaking. If you are driving a car while listening to this combo of tunes I challenge you to drive slowly. Actually, don't bother. I have tried. It's an act of futility. Jerry is shredding everything in sight. His guitar licks are too vicious and nasty. Energy of this magnitude can not be sustained for very long. So, all too soon the band must put it back into the bottle. At a little more than five minutes this is probably one of the shortest versions of The Other One but what a ride! Now go listen to it. Back to Top.

Archive Link: 
Review of show at Blog: 

December 7 
Box Of Rain 
9/19/87 Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Box of Rain is a special song. It is the first track on one of the band's best albums ever,American Beauty and it is one of only a handful of songs that was composed and sung by bassist Phil Lesh. It has a beautiful melody despite being written during a dark period in Phil’s personal life when his father was dying of cancer. And, for a long while it was as rare as hen's teeth making it one of the most coveted songs by Deadheads in the band’s catalog.

Outside of its debut on September 17, 1970, it was performed live on and off between the Fall 1972 and the Summer 1973 before being shelved for what most fans believed would be indefinitely. Therefore, it was a huge surprise when the Grateful Dead revived Box of Rain at Hampton Coliseum in 1986. The magnitude of that bust-out ranks up there with St. Stephen, Attics of My Life, Dark Star, Cosmic Charlie and of course, Unbroken Chain. Following the Hampton Box of Rain, chants for "Phil" became as common as the "Not Fade Away" chant. And Phil was only too happy to oblige. 

Here is a great version from the end of the first set at Madison Square Garden on 9/19/87. I was fortunate enough to have been in attendance that evening (and the evening prior – what a Dew!). Phil was in great spirits and sings this version with lots of gusto. This was “the spacey show” from a 5-night run at MSG and Garcia's solo during Box of Rain has just the right amount of cosmic echo to clue the audience in that they should brace for space. Back to Top.

Archive Link: 
YouTube Link for Set 2: 

December 8 
Goin’ Down The Road Feelin’ Bad 
11/26/72 San Antonio Civic Center, San Antonio, TX
There's one pin the tail on the donkey game where everyone's a winner. That's the game where the donkey is 1972. You simply can't miss. If someone blindfolded you and asked you to randomly select a 1972 show from a hat, you'd pull out a winner every time. (Excerpted from the blog.) 

Any Deadhead worth his bottle of patchouli oil knows that 1972 was an excellent vintage for songs such as Dark Star, The Other One, Playin In The Band and Bird Song but sometimes it is all too easy to overlook the band's amazing rock and roll chops. Take for example this stand-alone version of GDTRFB from the great Southwestern tour in November 1972. First, you've gotta love Jerry's delayed vocal delivery, "Goin' where the water tastes like....(wait for it)....wiiiiinnnne." And, the blistering guitar solo that follows is about as hot as it gets: rapid licks running up and down the fretboard, impossibly bended notes, vicious fanning. The guy was totally possessed in 1972. The band screams the final chorus trashing what little is left of their vocal chords. Then, rather than gently bringing things down with the usual "Bid you goodnight" instrumental outro, Garcia continues to thrash on, taking it around one more time before coming to a complete jarring stop as if there just wasn't any more gas left in the tank. Whew! After noodle dancing to this you’ll need that bottle of patchouli oil to keep that hippie stench at bay. Back to Top.

Archive Link: 
Patchouli Oil: 

December 9 
Me & My Uncle 
2/22/74 Winterland, San Francisco, CA
According to Deadbase Me & My Uncle was played over 600 times making it one of the most frequently played songs in the Dead's repertoire. Repetition breeds familiarity which breeds boredom. So, why would I waste one of my precious 31 picks on what many fans consider to be a throw-away song? Well, sometimes a version of an overplayed song can take you by surprise and this is one of those times. It certainly caught my attention the first time I heard it. So, saddle up partner and crank up this highly charged version of Me & My Uncle from the first show of 1974 at Winterland. 

Bobby growls the lyrics, Keith lays down his best honky-tonk piano and Jerry wields his guitar like a Colt ’45. His all-too brief guitar solo reaches an incredible peak that sounds as if he physically loses his footing from the sheer force of playing the final devastating note. The searing intensity gives Bobby the confidence of a Texas cowboy riding bareback on wild horses. You know it's a great version when he changes the lyrics from "I shot him down, he never saw" to "I grabbed a bottle, cracked him in the jaw." Wa-hoo! Saloon rock at its finest. Back to Top.

Archive Link: 

December 10 
Here Comes Sunshine > China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider 
2/17/73 St. Paul Auditorium, St. Paul, MN
This triad of songs has been a long-time favorite of mine. A reviewer on Archive referred to it as "the Holy Trinity." That may be overstating it a bit but the point is well-taken. On just their third performance of Here Comes Sunshine the band brilliantly segues into China Cat Sunflower. It's quite possibly one of the best transitions the band ever performed in their career. It’s so natural and seamless that one must wonder whether it was rehearsed and more importantly why it was never played again! Some are quick to point out that the performance of each of the songs taken individually is only average for the time period - which by the way is still amazing! However, I think most would agree that when taken together as a package it results in a powerful synergy that pushes this version into the realm of transcendence. It's magic like this that fuels our obsession with this band. Back to Top.

Archive Link: 

December 11 
Playin’ In The Band > Stronger Than Dirt or Milkin’ The Turkey 
7/16/76 Orpheum Theatre, San Francisco, CA
I’ll come clean and admit that I am a thematic jam junkie. I love them all – Mind Left Body, Spanish, Feelin’ Groovy, Tighten Up. If you share the love for these jams then be sure to check out a great essay about early thematic jams over at the Dead Essays blog ( 

This show from the Orpheum run in July 1976 has not just one, but two thematic jams in the second set: a stand-alone Spanish Jam and what would become the final Stronger Than Dirt or Milkin’ The Turkey - the latter jam being today’s selection. The set opens with a languid version of Playin In The Band. At about the 8-minute mark Phil repeats a pattern on his bass which Jerry quickly picks up on. He starts to noodle over it with quickly darting licks while the drummers lay down a pocket of jazz. To be fair, this version of Stronger Than Dirt is very loosely referenced and is a far cry from the highly composed instrumental piece that appears on Blues For Allah. Nevertheless, it is still quite an exciting segment to be sure particularly between the 11:00 – 13:30 minute mark where Jerry’s signature butterfly licks of 1976 flutter about in a flight of happy notes that is similar to the transition between Lazy Lightning and Let It Grow two days later at the same venue (i.e., 7/18/76). Back to Top.

Archive Link: 

December 12 
Cosmic Charlie 
1/2/70 Fillmore East, New York, NY
Often requested, rarely played, Cosmic Charlie was a very difficult tune to perform live. Many versions are a mess but once in a while they nailed it. Today’s selection from the Fillmore East in 1970 is one of the better versions. Back to Top.

Archive Link: 

December 13 
Cold Rain & Snow 
10/12/83 Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Cold Rain and Snow is a song that went through many makeovers by the Grateful Dead. It started out as a speedy psychedelic rocker in the 60’s (see the first album, Grateful Dead in 1967) and then got slowed down considerably in 70’s, almost becoming a ballad (see theSteppin’ Out and Steal Your Face official releases) before getting pepped up again in the 80’s as a rocker with anthem-like qualities. 

Today’s offering is of the latter variety. Apparently feeling liberated after busting out St. Stephen the previous evening, the Grateful Dead came out rockin’ with a Cold Rain opener. This powerhouse version is notable for the very catchy repeating riff that Jerry plays during the final verse that carries over into the finale. Back to Top.

Archive Link: 

December 14 
Lost Sailor > Saint of Circumstance > Touch of Grey 
10/10/82 Frost Amphitheatre, Palo Alto, CA
Here is a segment from what many consider the “show of the year” in 
1982. The Lost > Saint pairing had been in the rotation for 3 years 
by now and this version is among the best ever played. The blissful 
distortion and dizzy speed in which Jerry plays his solo at the end of 
Saint of Circumstance is very satisfying. Bobby “goes for it” with 
one his best rap’s ever, expletives and all. This is followed up with 
an embryonic, peppy version of Touch of Grey. Both this show and 
7/13/84 from the Greek Theater are my “go-to” tapes for warm, sunny 
days. Back to Top.

Archive Link: 

December 15 
The Wheel > Wharf Rat 
5/7/77 Boston Garden, Boston, MA
Twas the night before Cornell in the city of Boston 
Not a floor seat in sight, the show was wicked awesome 
There was no Scarlet, no Stephen, not even a Dew 
Instead there was an epic Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo

Ok, I’ll spare you the rest of my feeble attempt at hippie poetry. Today’s selection is from late in the second set at the Boston Garden on the eve of the legendary show in Ithaca. We start with a simply gorgeous Wheel that gracefully blooms like flowers in the spring. A long space-like jam emerges that eventually leaves Jerry on stage playing solo. This leads to an album-perfect Wharf Rat. Jerry’s vocals are well-crafted. I get goose bumps every time I hear the way he inflects the line, “Half of my liiiiiiiiiffffe…” Keith & Phil’s contributions are outstanding. Jerry enters the long jam at the end with fierce crashing guitar lines that complement the march-like drumming cadence. The band was already in the Cornell-zone well before they arrived in Ithaca. Back to Top.

Archive Link: 

December 16 
El Paso 
2/9/73 Maple Pavilion, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA 

An older and wiser Deadhead once told me that if I didn't like El Paso then I didn't "get" the Grateful Dead. Being young and insolent, I of course laughed at such a ridiculous statement. He looked at me with pity and silently walked away. 

After years of skipping over El Paso on tapes I came across this version from Stanford '73. The show is well-known for the debut of many new songs - Sunshine, TLEO, Eyes, Row Jimmy, etc. I have listened to it countless times but never once paid any attention to El Paso. I figured I may as well give it a go "just in case." I must confess that I was not expecting much as I cued it up. However, not more than 3 seconds into it and Jerry’s relentless noodling has me completely mesmerized. It’s one of those cosmic moments that leave you wondering whether Jerry is playing too many notes! Among this flurry of notes is what appears to be a few errand notes that are played off scale. This subtle hint of spaciness threatens to take things in a completely different direction if it is not contained soon. Sensing this, Weir immediately steps up to the microphone to bring things back to reality by jumping into the first verse. 

Garcia's playing is stellar but the game ball goes to Bill Kretuzmann who is truly a monster on the drum kit. His playing is very jazzy and aggressive – very similar to his style on Playin’ in the Band circa 1972-74. Oddly enough, it works brilliantly! The listener feels as if he is galloping on a psychedelic horse. And then like a thrilling amusement park ride the fun ends all too soon. With a crazy grin plastered on my face, I must have pressed the replay button at least a dozen times knowing that I “got it.” I'm a believer. El Paso for lyfe. Back to Top.

Archive Link: 

December 17 
Viola Lee Blues > Feedback 
4/12/70 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA
One of Bill Graham’s most legendary bookings was pairing the Grateful Dead with Miles Davis for a four-night stand in April 1970 at the Fillmore West in San Francisco. Did I mention that Miles Davis was the opening act (gasp!). If that surprises you then rest assured, you are not alone. In his autobiography, “Searching for the Sound,’’ Phil Lesh recalls his anxiety about the unenviable task of following Miles Davis: 

“As I listened, leaning over the amps with my jaw hanging agape, trying to comprehend the forces that Miles was unleashing onstage, I was thinking ‘What’s the use. How can we possibly play after this? We should just go home and try to digest this unbelievable shit.’ ” 

Well, Phil, I don’t think you had anything to worry about because you guys rose to the occasion and played your asses off. Phil must have been happy with the performance or he wouldn’t have decided to include the band’s incredible version of Dancin’ in the Streets from4/12/70 on his compilation titled, Fallout From The Philzone. Some argue that this version is better than the well-known version from Harpur College less than a month later (5/2/70,Dick’s Picks, Vol. 8). I would further submit that the Viola Lee Blues from 4/12/70 demands the same amount of attention as Harpur College, which many consider the definitive version! 

As with Harpur, this version is very electric and psychedelic. Garcia plays some amazing runs as the jam begins to accelerate. He briefly changes the mode a few times which creates a glorious weirdness that temporarily disorients the listener before switching back to more familiar ground - a very sly move which he repeats a few times. The buildup is ferocious and leads to a frenzied climax that sounds as if the universe is being sucked inside-out. The ensuing melt-down is bone-crushing. They drop back into the verse and finish the song with some apocalyptic feedback. Yes Phil, I’m pretty sure that Miles Davis was smiling that evening. Lysergic, primal Dead at its very best! Back to Top.

Archive Link: 
Concert Poster: 

December 18 
Dark Star > Comes A Time 
7/18/72 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ
Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City was not a pretty place to see a concert but the Grateful Dead sure seemed to thrive there. Go figure. In fact, some of their most epic shows were played at Roosevelt Stadium – the birthday show from 8/1/73, the “hydroponic Eyes” from 8/6/74 (Dick’s Picks, Vol. 31), and the Dark Star from 7/18/72 which is the focus of today’s selection. 

Instead of transitioning from Truckin' into The Other One as was common at this time, the Dead switch things up and ease into Dark Star. This is the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of Dark Stars. The pre-verse jam stays close to the main theme and is an exploration of melodious beauty and nirvana while the post-verse segment is avante-garde, atonal, terrifying weirdness. 

Similar to the Star from 11/11/73 (Winterland), the band starts off with a very relaxed introduction indicating that they are taking their time and want to stretch this one out. The message is the musical equivalent to Harpur College where Jerry tells the audience to "Relax, we've got you all night." 

The music drifts in a dream-like state for about 10 minutes. It truly is a joy to behold. At times Jerry's guitar gets a little twangy as was the theme with much of this show (see Tennessee Jed for the best example). Eventually, Jerry picks up the pace and finds an exciting theme that leads into the first (and only) verse. Jerry's singing is exceptional. 

Without wasting any time they leave all comprehension of the song as Phil plays deep and slow descending notes that dissolve into the unknown. Say farewell to Dr. Jekyll and his melodic, happy hippie smilefest you just enjoyed because things are about to get very heavy, very demented and very strange. Enter, the evil Mr. Hyde who serves up a sinister cocktail of shrill harmonics, overbent notes and oversaturated bass. 

The music turns dark, discordant and abstract as the band casts themselves deep into oblivion, searching for new and uncharted areas of the universe. At about the 22 ½ minute mark Jerry delivers a massive and devastating "Tiger" meltdown that must have completely annihilated Roosevelt Stadium. In its aftermath we are left with some violin tapping followed by sharp, angular chording which is finally resolved with a "Sputnik" jam at about the 26 minute mark (see the Dark Star from Live/Dead at about the 11:40 minute mark for the best known example of this kind of jam). This melts into a jewel-like Comes A Time that is beautiful in contrast to the preceding mayhem. Described best in the blog, "Comes A Time is nothing short of a church service where the light of the Lord is cascading out from the stage. Jerry's solos just burn into your heart. Back to Top.

Archive Link: 

December 19 
Jam > Jack-A-Roe 
11/20/78 Cleveland Music Hall, Cleveland, OH
Here is something different - a second set that begins with a JAM! Sadly, this rare deviation from the norm was attempted only a handful times and in each instance greatness resulted. Two shows immediately come to mind: 6/23/74 Miami (Jam > Ship of Fools) and 6/26/74Providence (Jam > China > Rider). Much like those instances the band begins this jam from Cleveland Music Hall with some noodling that gradually develops like growing tendrils. The drummers are relentless the way they drive the jamming. Garcia makes several attempts to slow things down but the drummers must press on with important tribal work. Jerry offsets the heavy percussion with a spacey wah-wah toned solo that is dark, drippy and manic. Over the course of the jam he trills, bends and throws notes all over the place. Eventually this drops into Jack-A-Roe of all things. The reason we love the Grateful Dead is for moments like this when anything can happen. Jerry's vocal delivery is beautiful. Especially notable is the subtle way he sings, "your cheeks too red and rosy..." Who could have predicted that Garcia's voice would be completely shot 4 days later at the Capitol Theater? Back to Top.

Archive Link: 
Heart of Gold Band Blog: 

December 20 
Black-Throated Wind 
2/21/95 Delta Center, Salt Lake City, UT
Being a Deadhead in the 1990's was similar in many ways to being a New York Mets fan. Since I am a fan of both I feel uniquely qualified to comment. Needless to say, a great deal of time is spent hoping and praying for any small kind of miracle to happen but more often than not your band/team disappoints you. Despite all of the repeated heartbreaks, you try to remain strong and loyal but deep down your spirit is slowly breaking with each let down. And just when you think you can't take it any longer – BAM - your heroes surprise you with other-worldly magic that keeps your dreams alive. 

In 1995, Deadheads witnessed a precipitous and alarming decline in Jerry's appearance and musical performance. He often seemed lost onstage and both his singing and guitar playing was frustratingly inaudible. Despite these problems there were also moments of greatness that gave us hope. These precious moments included the debut of Unbroken Chain (3/19), the raging double-time finish in Iko Iko in Philly (3/18) and this towering version of Black-Throated Wind in Salt Lake City (2/21). 

With an acoustic guitar strapped to his shoulder, Bobby charged into one of the very best versions of BT Wind since its comeback. The finale is one for the ages as he throws himself into the microphone, growling the lyrics while Jerry triumphantly wails away with his trademark licks. Hearing this kind of magic is incredibly uplifting and makes all of that pain and misery worth it...well, almost! 

In the immortal words of Tug McGraw, "You gotta believe. Back to Top.

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December 21
Help On The Way > Slipknot! > Franklin’s Tower 
5/9/77 Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo, NY
On the day after Cornell there was still musical brilliance in the Grateful Dead. Last week we enjoyed a selection from the night before Cornell. Therefore, I thought it might be nice to bookend Cornell with a selection from the next evening in Buffalo to prove that there was life after Cornell. From the moment the band slams into the first note of Help on the Way it is abundantly clear that they mean business. The ensuing Slipknot! is my all-time favorite. The composed piece is tight and focused while the jam is powerful yet spacey at the same time. Bobby's guitar work is fantastic and Jerry is in shred mode. I especially love their interaction together during the 6:47-6:56 minute mark. There is no doubt that most of you are familiar with this masterpiece so I will let you just listen to the music play. Back to Top.

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December 22 
Weather Report Suite > Let It Grow > Spanish Jam 
7/19/74 Selland Arena, Fresno, CA
I first heard this version of Weather Report Suite on the Grateful Dead Hour radio program sometime in the late 1980's. It was not a show that circulated at the time so it was very exciting to hear a pristine soundboard of something "new" from the great year of 1974. I recorded it on a Maxell XL-IIS cassette and it quickly became the go-to tape that I played for everybody. 

The composed portion of the song is performed superbly. It's not at the same level as6/18/74 which is the high water mark in my opinion (See Road Trips, Vol. 2, No. 3; Wall of Sound) but it is still exceptional. The sprightly Let It Grow that follows feels like warm sunshine. However, towards the end of the jam the tone of the music quickly takes a wicked left turn becoming more dark and menacing. 

The tempo slows and things get very heavy as the impending doom approaches. On the descent to hell, Phil's bass is nothing short of cataclysmic. His bass must have set off seismographs in other counties, it’s so bombastic. Playing like that is simply not of this world. 

Keith adds a watery tone on his keyboard as Jerry trills the final notes creating a whirlpool of chaos that sucks everything down into a massive dark abyss. Suddenly it becomes clear that this is the end of the universe as we know it. 

Following this meltdown there is an eerie silence leaving us in a spooky realm of uncertainty. A three-way duel of musical weirdness emerges between Phil, Jerry and Keith that sounds as if aliens have landed. 

Finally, Phil begins to pluck away at the Spanish Jam. Apparently aliens speak Spanish. Needless to say, this Spanish Jam is one of the absolute finest ever played (2/11/70,3/24/73, 6/23/74 and 6/26/74 round out the top five for me). Phil lays out for a moment to allow Jerry a chance to crank up both the volume and the distortion. Bobby enters with the trademark Spanish chords, Phil re-enters with a bubbly intro and Billy lays down a precise, crisp military drum roll on his snare drum. After a while Jerry switches to a wah-wah effect and the music becomes dreamy and surreal before dropping into the opening chords of Eyes of the World. 

This is a fine example of the kind of amazing musical journey the band was capable of taking every night during their peak years. Back to Top.

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December 23 
Eyes of the World 
6/10/73 R.F.K. Stadium, Washington D.C.
I reviewed the Here Comes Sunshine from this incredible three-set show at RFK Stadium in my 2010 edition of the Unofficial 31 Days of Dead. Just as deserving of serious attention is the gorgeous, ethereal Eyes of the World that kicks off the second set. Clocking in at over 20 minutes, this standout version of Eyes in its prime is probably one of the longest ever. The jazzy interplay between all band members is sublime. Billy in particular is at his all-time best, making great use of splashing and bell-ringing cymbals. Bob’s sharp rhythm guitar complements the percussion madness creating a dance-like atmosphere. Keith also rises to the occasion adding some tasty piano flourishes. The rapid hallucinatory flight of Garcia's notes blossom into colors and fractal images. The "Stronger Than Dirt" jam is extremely tight and played very confidently. The energy ranks right up there with the versions from8/6/74 and 10/19/74. Eventually things become looser and the music drifts off into a blues-like dirge. Back to Top.

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December 24 
Crazy Fingers > Stella Blue 
6/26/76 Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, IL
Performing two ballads in a row to a live audience is risky. But when did the Grateful Dead ever follow the rules of mainstream rock and roll anyway? This Crazy Fingers>Stella Blue sequence is absolutely stunning. Both are played at a slow, soulful pace. Jerry’s delicate vocal delivery is extremely passionate and Team Godchaux brings their A-game. Donna’s sweet vocal harmonies and Keith’s twinkling piano contributions up in the high register are things of pure beauty. The Middle-Eastern jam that floats out of Crazy Fingers has just the right amount of spaciness before dropping into Stella Blue. Back to Top.

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December 25 
Lazy Lightning > Supplication 
11/9/79 Buffalo Auditorium, Buffalo, NY
The very prolific reviewer on Archive who goes by the moniker 'capn doubledose' says this version of Lazy Lightning > Supplication is "easily one of the best ever done." A guy with a name like that would never steer you wrong about the Grateful Dead, right? Alas, this highly charged version was left off Road Trips, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Fall '79). Huh? 

Jerry's rapid runs over the rhythmic 7/7 time signature in Supplication sound like electrical sparks dancing up and down the neck of his guitar. The ending is simply explosive. I’ll take a double dose, capn! 

Jerry Christmas! Back to Top.

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December 26 
Scarlet Begonias > Fire on the Mountain 
4/24/78 Horton Field House, Normal, IL

This version of Scarlet>Fire from the Horton Field House at Illinois State is often compared to the versions from 2/5/78 and 5/8/77. 

The band is ON from the start. A controlling presence right from the beginning, Phil slides his bass into Scarlet. The whole group is in complete sync interacting with each other at what seems to be a higher level. Garcia solos long and fluently before handing the introduction of the transition jam over to Donna. Stepping back in, with Phil hot on his heels, he fashions a lengthy dreamy jam that gradually and effortlessly transmutes into Fire. The drummers get locked in and the groove gets thick as Garcia turns the Mutronwaaaaay up to a rude and obscenely high level (in a good way). Not to be outdone, Bobby showcases his recently learned slide guitar skills. I've heard some people say that Bobby’s slide work here sounds like seagulls being strangled but this is actually some of my favorite guitar work from Bobby! Garcia is so into it that before the final ascent in Fire, he ad libs "Let it burn, let it burn, let it burn". It may be the only time that he ever did that. Hearing such inspired music from this band sends chills up and down your spine. Back to Top.

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December 27 
The Eleven 
10/12/68 Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, CA
Today’s selection comes from the fabled Avalon Ballroom in 1968. Besides being comprised of absolutely crushing jams, the show is also exciting in the context of the notoriety for which it has become famous. First, it was probably the most mislabeled tape in the long history of Grateful Dead tape trading. In addition, 10/12/68 was allegedly the evening that Jimi Hendrix showed up to jam with the Dead. For a fascinating and detailed essay about those events please go to the lostlivedead blog at 

Legendary taper Dick “Picks” Latvala is quoted on Deadlists saying that 10/12/68 is among his favorite performances, calling it “Primal Dead.” Here is how the folks over at describe the term, “Primal Dead” in the great year of 1968: 

As far as the Grateful Dead go, 1968 contains a collection of music that is in many ways unparalleled across the vast 30 year span of their career. Like no other year, 1968 never spares a single minute toying around with the idea of taking you on a psychedelic music journey. It doesn’t gently take your hand and lead you down a path which exposes you to some magic land. No, 1968 is more like being run over by a freight train fueled on electric Kool-Aid steam. Drop the needle down at any instance of 1968 Grateful Dead and you’re catapulted directly into the heart of a musical expression so lysergic, so steeped in cosmic adventurism, it defies any true comparison to what we might generally bring to mind as the “psychedelic scene” of the late 60’s. The Dead in ’68 go beyond. 

This version of The Eleven from 10/12/68 is simply incredible! It gathers rapidly intensifying speed and energy before exploding into colossal psychedelic earthquakes of rhythm that leave lysergic aftershocks of cosmic guitar lines reverberating through your body. Yeah, it's that good. Back to Top.

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December 28 
It Hurts Me Too / Beat It On Down The Line (Hidden Track) both tracks with guest performer, Duane AlArchiven on slide guitar 
4/26/71 Fillmore East, New York, NY 
Inviting guest performers to play with the Grateful Dead was always a crap shoot. Once in a while the gamble paid off and on a few very rare occasions there was magic. One fine example is the Dead’s collaborations with the AlArchiven Brothers. For a great discussion on this pairing see Today’s selection and hidden track feature the late Duane AlArchiven lending his soulful slide guitar to a pair of classic cover songs during the Dead’s historic final stand at the Fillmore East in New York City. These tracks are outtakes from the Grateful Dead’s official release, Ladies And Gentlemen, The Grateful Dead. I suppose the powers-that-be could not work out a suitable arrangement that would have enabled these tracks to appear on what is otherwise an outstanding document of that 4-night run. 

The folks over at Wolfgang’s Vault did a nice write-up of this so I will defer to them: 

The next tune is a cover of Elmore James', ‘It Hurts Me Too.’ This is a classic performance and here Duane is in his element, wailing the blues. Everything jells here and the combination of Pigpen's bluesy vocal and harp delivery, combined with AlArchiven and Garcia both playing slide guitar, is irresistible. AlArchiven also adds his distinctive signature and a sense of wild abandon to "Beat It On Down The Line," an electrified jugband tune from the Dead's 1967 debut album. It's a shame they didn't get the chance to stretch out and seriously improvise while AlArchiven was onstage, but what is here is highly enjoyable and documents this historic meeting. Back to Top.

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December 29 
Alligator Jam 
6/6/70 Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA
Coming out of the tribal rhythm of Drums, this swampy Alligator jam is cut from the same cloth as the infamous version performed a year later at the closing of the Fillmore East (4/29/71). Not surprisingly, it also contains elements of The Other One from Harpur College the month prior. While not quite reaching the same amazing heights of either, it is still some outrageously brilliant GD music that is not to be missed. Back to Top.

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December 30 
Not Fade Away > Turn On Your Lovelight 
9/19/70 Fillmore East, New York, NY
Here is some high-energy Grateful Dead to get us all primed for New Year’s Eve. Before GDTRFB was introduced in the repertoire (that would happen a few weeks following this show), a Not Fade Away > Lovelight combo was somewhat common. This version is probably one of the finest performances of that pairing (5/7/70 from MIT is a strong contender but the abysmal audience recording makes it almost unlistenable). 

This version of Not Fade Away is a personal favorite because Garcia slips in two dazzling thematic jams – a few China Cat licks immediately preceded by the most-developed Darkness, Darkness jam ever played (The Youngbloods). The transition back into Not Fade Away is seamless and the screaming finale led by Weir and Pigpen is exceptionally hot. Without a moment to catch your breath, the band begins the opening notes of Lovelight. 

This filthy version of Lovelight has become legendary because Pigpen drops the F-bomb like a dirty sailor. It actually was a pretty radical thing to do at the time and certainly caught Bobby off guard who asks, “Uh Pigpen, did you say fuck?” Seizing the opportunity, Pigpen emphatically responds, “I said FUCK.” This energizes both the band and audience even more, bringing things to a boiling point. The thermonuclear finale is one for the ages. Following the last crashing note Pigpen drops a huge Hiroshima F-bomb on the already frenzied audience leaving them in a prurient mushroom cloud of sweaty pheromones. 

Appropriately enough, the post-show house music is “Get Together” (The Youngbloods,again) which is a nod to both the aforementioned Darkness jam during NFA and Pigpen’s salacious rap during Lovelight. Just as you are relaxing with a post-intercourse cigarette Phil brings Pigpen out for a final “encore” so that he can ask, “Why don’t you guys go home and fuck somebody?” 

Just another evening of magic at the Fillmore East with the Good Ol’ Grateful Dead. Bring on NYE. Back to Top.

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December 31 
Truckin’ > The Other One > Morning Dew 
12/31/72 Winterland, San Francisco, CA

Thanks Bill Graham > Sugar Magnolia 
12/31/72 Winterland, San Francisco, CA

NYE 2012 has arrived! Today is the 40th Anniversary of the Grateful Dead’s amazing performance at Winterland on New Year’s Eve in 1972. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate that milestone than by selecting the “big jam” from that show to ring in 2013. I also threw in Sugar Magnolia as a bonus track. It was Bill Graham’s favorite Grateful Dead song and they usually obliged him with it on New Year’s Eve. 

I’m taking the day off to pop the champagne cork. Most of today’s write-up comes courtesy of the deadessays blog (see I hope you enjoyed the 2012 edition of the Unofficial 31 Days of Dead. Happy 2013 all! 

Technically this show was the first of '73, starting at midnight and continuing til around 4 am on January 1! But the second set shows no sign of weariness - if anything, it's one of the most inspired sets of the month. 

A fine long jam comes out of Truckin', not explosive but full of anticipation as Garcia sounds eager to roam. He starts playing excited Other One runs while the rest of the band is still in Truckin'. They stay in this transition a long time - Garcia won't let go for the usual drum solo, instead the Other One slowly emerges as Garcia dashes from one new theme to the next, the jam getting more inspired as it goes along. After Lesh finally plays the Other One Intro, the band oozes into a very pretty, drippy jam. 

They abruptly pause for a drum break, followed by an aimless Lesh solo - as he goes into a repeating bass riff that would be very common in '73, the band spins out of this into a fullbore jazz jam. David Crosby has joined them on a twelve-string, giving them a more dense and cluttered sound - he fits right in (he had also played on the 9/10/72 Dark Star), playing chordal backing along with Weir. The jam speeds up, Garcia barreling along at warp speed, the atmosphere electric, more happening than the ear can catch - Godchaux in particular is outstanding throughout this night's jams, in his element as he drives the band forward. All of a sudden they stop for a very spacey wah-wah interlude, Godchaux's piano-tinkles and Crosby's bending chords ringing out loudly. Garcia slides into feedback, Lesh pushing him with loud rumbles, the band jabbing in spikes of fizzling confusion, and they rip into a short but powerful Tiger. Dazed, the band drifts, Garcia's guitar creaking and rattling as Crosby adds to the mayhem. Somehow out of this, Weir bursts into some chords and it sounds like they're going into Me & My Uncle - but it turns out to be a new jam. Just as it gets hotter and seems due to explode, Garcia drops out for a while and it's time for a Weir chordal solo - once Garcia rejoins him, the band drops nearly to silence. Out of some drum taps, suddenly Lesh rumbles into the Other One again, and we're treated to a very hot entry into the verse. 

The biggest surprise of all happens after the verse - instead of an Other One jam, all of a sudden Garcia slows down the band *on a dime* into a superb, sweet instrumental that must be heard to be believed - it's not at all like the Dead's other jams in these shows. It almost sounds like they rehearsed it for just this occasion, it's so tight and evocative. Garcia's lead is simply fantastic, one of the most transcendent pieces I've heard him play. 

Robert A. Goetz describes this jam more fully in The Deadhead's Taping Compendium Vol.1 (1959-1974): 

[i]After the lyrics Jerry wanders away from The Other One into a beautiful jam. Indeed this jam, which lasts about five minutes, is probably the most serene of that era. It is almost as if Garcia suddenly realized that the jams set up through their 1972 repertoire could no longer exist. Back to Top.

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