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Acoustic Sets 1969-70: from Caleb RMGD

 
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a.j.craig



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Location: New Zealand

PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 5:54 am    Post subject: Acoustic Sets 1969-70: from Caleb RMGD Reply with quote

"We're gonna take a break from all this sweat & steam & uproar &
tumult and we're gonna break out our acoustic guitars and regale you
with some wooden music."
- Bob Weir, 4/9/70

The Dead had their origins in acoustic music - back in '61 Phil Lesh
was impressed enough by Garcia as a folk-singer to get him his own
radio show - and Garcia, Weir, and Pigpen first started playing
together in the Mother McCree's jug-band in '64, after Garcia had
tired of the local bluegrass circuit. If it hadn't been for their love
of the Beatles and the Stones, perhaps they would have become a merry
band of old-time traditionalists like the New Lost City Ramblers. But
once they dove into rock & roll, there was no looking back - within a
couple years they had shed their R&B influences, turned into a big,
hairy, noisy psychedelic band, and dedicated themselves to acid-soaked
weirdness. Early fans would have been puzzled to hear that Garcia had
once been a banjo-player and folk connoisseur whose biggest ambition
was to join Bill Monroe's band....
But once Garcia's old friend Robert Hunter started writing songs for
the band with his own brand of weirdness, acoustic guitars would soon
turn up in the Dead's music.

The first acoustic song the Dead introduced was Mountains of the Moon,
in December '68. It was soon followed in January by a slew of new
Aoxomoxoa songs - Cosmic Charlie, Doin' That Rag - and, more central
to our topic, Dupree's Diamond Blues. Dupree's is actually a spin-off
from the old blues song Betty & Dupree, which the Dead had been doing
in '66 - one version can be heard in their 12/1/66 show (which also
has a number of other songs that would be revived in '69).
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Dupree's Diamond Blues was first played on Jan 24 (with Pigpen on
harmonica) in electric guise. But starting on Feb 11, it became paired
with Mountains of the Moon as an acoustic song, and all of its
appearances in the rest of '69 would be acoustic. (I've talked more
about the Dupree's/Mountains pairing in my Mountains of the Moon
post.)

Garcia soon became unhappy with this experimental batch of Aoxomoxoa
songs, and Cosmic Charlie was the only one that would make it past the
summer of 1969. As he said later, "All those Aoxomoxoa songs, a lot of
them are cumbersome to perform, overwritten.... A lot of tunes on
there are just packed with lyrics, or packed with musical changes that
aren't worth it....there isn't a graceful way to perform them."
The Dead in general were also getting restless with the limited number
of songs they had in their set - aside from the few new songs, their
shows were much the same as they had been in summer '68. The band
wanted to break out of the tight format of their shows over the past
few months, and shake up the setlist a bit - but what they didn't have
yet were more new songs - those wouldn't come til June - so in April
they started digging up a lot of the old songs that they hadn't done,
sometimes in years. I went into more details in my China>Rider post,
but to summarize, these are the debut performance dates of the '69
revivals:
3/15/69 - Hard to Handle (they hadn't done this before)
4/5/69 - China Cat Sunflower, It's A Sin
4/6/69 - Viola Lee Blues, Beat It On Down the Line, It's All Over Now
Baby Blue
4/12/69 - He Was A Friend Of Mine (last played 12/7/68)
4/15/69 - Sitting on Top of the World (and Hurts Me Too, last played
12/21/68)
4/23/69 - Not Fade Away (almost! - actually wouldn't be fully played
until 12/21/69.)
4/26/69 - Silver Threads & Golden Needles, New Minglewood Blues
4/27/69 - Me & My Uncle
5/7/69 - Good Lovin', Smokestack Lightning
5/31/69 - Cold Rain & Snow, Green Grass of Home (a new one)
[And a couple more covers were added in June, Mama Tried on 6/21 and
Big Boss Man on 6/27.]
So without having to write any new songs, the Dead went searching in
their past repertoire and added about a dozen oldies to their setlists
that spring, almost all of them 'traditional' tunes or covers. The
shift to more country songs was just around the corner....

In early '69 Hunter and Garcia were living together, working on songs
- as Hunter described it, "I'd be sitting upstairs banging on my
typewriter, picking up my guitar, and singing something.... Jerry
would be downstairs practicing guitar, working things out. You could
hear fine through the floors there, and by the time I'd come down with
a sheet and slap it down in front of him, Jerry already knew how it
should go!" Garcia wanted a change in direction from his strange &
complicated Aoxomoxoa efforts - so he and Hunter found themselves
writing in a new vein of more straightforward, country-influenced
songs.
In June '69 Garcia did a studio test, solo acoustic demos of three new
songs - Dire Wolf, Casey Jones, and High Time. This only surfaced last
year, and it's quite interesting:

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At the Dead's shows, Dire Wolf was first played on June 7 - High Time
on June 21 - and Casey Jones on June 22. Casey Jones was very
different in its early form - since the arrangement was still
unsettled, the early versions have the Dead jamming into the song. But
Dire Wolf is more relevant to our topic, since the Dead played it
acoustically in its first performances.

This was quite a burst of songwriting for Garcia - but though Hunter
could pour out the words, Garcia was not a prolific composer. As he
said in 1973, "Sometimes I can just crank 'em out and other
times ....nothing. Like I could have a spurt in which I'd write four
new songs in one week, and in the next six months I wouldn't be able
to put two words together. It's that kind of thing."
A song written for Pigpen, Easy Wind, debuted on Aug 20 - but it was
fall before more new Garcia songs emerged. Cumberland Blues (the
Dead's closest approach to bluegrass) was first played Nov 8. A home
demo from around this time shows them playing with the Uncle John's
instrumental, as well as the first version of a song John Dawson co-
wrote, Friend of the Devil:

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Dec 4 saw two debuts - Black Peter, and the completed Uncle John's
Band to end the show. Garcia apologized before they sang Uncle John:
"Seems we blew most of the set just trying to remember how to play -
and so we're going to blow this part of the set remembering how to
sing a song we barely know."
Two more songs came out at the end of December - Mason's Children was
first played on Dec 19, and New Speedway Boogie on Dec 20.
Friend of the Devil didn't show up in a Dead show until March 20,
1970, when it was played in the acoustic set. The April 3 acoustic set
saw the debut of Candyman - and on May 24, they brought out a rough
first version of Attics of My Life, another song that would alternate
between acoustic & electric versions that year.
Garcia had another writing spurt that summer, and our first To Lay Me
Down comes from the July 30 acoustic show. Then the Aug 18 acoustic
set has a whole bounty of new songs - Truckin', Ripple, Brokedown
Palace, and Pigpen's rare Operator.

In turning away from psychedelia and doing more country-influenced
songs, the Dead were not being innovative - actually in 1968, country-
rock was becoming quite the trend, with Dylan, the Band, and the Byrds
just the most famous examples - even the Stones were flirting with
country! But one specific influence on the Dead may have been the
Flying Burrito Brothers with Gram Parsons - they played with the Dead
at the Avalon from April 4-6, '69 (Bear's recordings of these shows
have recently been released). Garcia would especially have taken note
of their pedal-steel player, Sneaky Pete Kleinow....
On April 13, while the Dead were in Denver, Garcia bought his own
pedal steel guitar, took it back to the bands' rehearsal hall, and
started teaching himself how to play. "I could understand enough about
the pedal steel to play along with simple stuff....so I went down
there and set up my pedal steel in the corner and slowly proceeded to
try and learn how to play it. I had a pretty good idea in my head of
what I wanted it to sound like, but I didn't have any chops down.
Pretty soon it started to sound pretty good, and a couple of other
friends sort of fell into a scene."
The main friend encouraging Garcia in this direction was John Dawson,
who'd known Garcia since his early-'60s folkie days, but was more
interested in straight country than rock music.
"When I heard that Jerry had bought a pedal steel, I boldly invited
myself over to his house to hear what it sounded like. I brought my
guitar along and I played him a couple of my songs and he literally
sat there and dove into the pedal steel guitar.... We had a nice
evening and that was really the beginning of the whole New Riders
thing....
"At first, Jerry didn't have the slightest idea what the real steel
players were up to. What he played was just his idea of what they were
doing and what sounded good to him... He didn't read any books: he
just sat down and played it. He was checking it out: 'Let's see, this
goes here. If I do this, this happens. What if I do this?'...
"At that time I had a gig at this coffeehouse [May '69]....and I
invited Jerry to come down and join me. It was just the two of us - me
on guitar and Jerry on pedal steel. I would play my own songs and I
was also doing covers - stuff like I Shall Be Released and Mama
Tried.... [The Dead put the Haggard song in their own set the next
month.] Once the word got out that it was me and Garcia there....we
got some pretty big crowds that summer.... It got to be a nice little
scene. After a while we decided to make a little band out of this."
On guitar, they recruited another of Garcia's old friends, David
Nelson, who had played in bluegrass bands with Garcia in the early
'60s. And with Phil Lesh on bass and Mickey Hart on drums, they
started playing separate gigs as the New Riders of the Purple Sage in
June & July '69.

At this point the New Riders were playing separately from the Dead,
but there was one memorable show where the two bands combined -
6/11/69, at the California Hall in San Francisco. It was billed as
"Bobby Ace and His Cards From the Bottom of the Deck" - Weir, Garcia,
Lesh, Hart, and Constanten with John Dawson & David Nelson. As far as
I know the show wasn't taped, but the setlist is tantalizing - lots of
Everly Brothers!
Let It Be Me ; Silver Threads And Golden Needles ; Mama Tried ;
Cathy's Clown ; Me And My Uncle ; Slewfoot: Dire Wolf ; Games People
Play ; The Race Is On ; Green Green Grass Of Home ; Tiger By The
Tail ; I've Just Seen A Face ; All I Have To Do Is Dream ; Wabash
Cannonball ; Railroading The Great Divide

Meanwhile, Garcia wasn't content to let his pedal-steel light shine
under the New Riders bushel, but decided to freak out Dead audiences
by opening Dead shows with some pedal-steel country songs!
The first example was on 5/31/69, when they introduced Green Grass of
Home. Weir had a fatal attraction to maudlin country weepies (and
would write one of his own, Looks Like Rain), and he was taken enough
by this tune to play it again at the 6/6/69 show with Elvin Bishop,
and far too many times thereafter....

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On 6/7/69, they opened the show with an acoustic Garcia trio: the
first Dire Wolf, Dupree's, and Mountains of the Moon.

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Garcia brings out the acoustic again on 6/20/69, which has an unusual
Lovelight in which Garcia takes an acoustic guitar solo in the middle
of the song! (It also features a rare Pigpen organ solo.)

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6/21/69 has many notable tunes - they open with Green Grass, after
which Garcia says, "There will be a brief pause while we allow you to
consider these new developments." Later on Garcia switches to pedal-
steel again in the first Slewfoot, a rowdy song they dive into
straight out of the Cryptical reprise - an early example of a genre-
bending Dead segue. Weir opens the second show with the thankfully
rare Old House - later on he sings an acoustic Dire Wolf, having taken
over the vocals from Garcia! The show also features one of the last
acoustic Dupree's, and the first High Time and Mama Tried, making for
a very country-soaked show. (Showing how far the Dead had come in a
few months - Aoxomoxoa was released the previous day.)

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The next day, 6/22/69, Garcia brushed up his pedal-steel skills again
for Silver Threads & Golden Needles - the Dead had done this song in
early '66, and it had surprisingly popped up again on 4/26/69, but it
now became a pedal-steel showpiece.

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On 6/27/69, they opened with Slewfoot, and closed the main set by
jumping into Green Grass of Home from a shortened Eleven, another mind-
twisting medley. (Peter Grant is said to play banjo on Slewfoot as
well, but he's barely audible.) Weir sings Dire Wolf again with Garcia
on pedal-steel, an unusual way to hear the song - and the last
acoustic Dupree's is played - and Mama Tried>High Time is quickly
becoming a fixture in the set. (This Mama Tried is interesting since
it's quieter than the Dead would later do it, with Weir still on
acoustic. Casey Jones, which had debuted on 6/22, still has its
opening jam, which it would keep through August - and Big Boss Man has
its first, tentative performance since '66 at this show.)

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The next Santa Rosa show, 6/28/69, features both John Dawson and Peter
Grant as guests. Another pedal-steel Slewfoot and Silver Threads
started the show; after the slow-paced Mama Tried, Weir announces that
Peter Grant has been "playing banjo back there"; then John Dawson
comes out and sings Me & My Uncle with Weir, something they'd do in
later New Riders shows as well.

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7/3/69 starts with the pedal-steel Green Grass and Slewfoot. It's
worth noting that what we have of this show has only one original
song, all the rest covers - and 6/28 had only two originals! Quite a
transformation since the Live/Dead days a few months earlier.

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7/4/69 has another Slewfoot and Silver Threads - Weir indulges himself
with the infrequently-played ballad Let Me In, and sings his last Dire
Wolf.

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7/11/69, aside from the usual Silver Threads, also has Garcia playing
pedal-steel on Hard to Handle, an interesting experiment! The show
starts with the last Dupree's (done electric), and Garcia returns to
singing Dire Wolf - a song he was very fond of later in fall '69,
often asking the audience to sing along, and sometimes singing it
twice in a row! He never did that with Dupree's....

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7/12/69 opens with Green Grass and Slewfoot, and then has the last
Mountains of the Moon.

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8/2/69 has Garcia's last pedal-steel appearance of this tour, on
Slewfoot and another of the sentimental ballads Weir was so fond of,
Seasons of My Heart.

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After this, the pedal-steel & several of these country covers were
dropped from their shows. I was at first puzzled as to why they'd all
of a sudden stop - but then I noticed that at the end of August, the
New Riders were opening for the Dead for the first time, at the Family
Dog. So with Garcia already on pedal-steel through the New Riders set,
there was no longer any need for him to surprise the audience with it
in the Dead's set!
But at the end of 12/31/69, when the weird '70s beckoned and they
didn't want to end the show, they did a surprising electric-style
medley of Weir's country covers: Seasons, The Race Is On, Silver
Threads, and Slewfoot. (And a rare Big Boy Pete, too.) This is the
only Slewfoot Garcia plays on regular guitar....

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Some of you who have been patiently reading all this while may be
wondering, "all this and still no acoustic sets?" But worry no longer
- on 12/19/69 the Dead's first acoustic set appeared by accident, when
Phil didn't turn up in time for the show.
Garcia announces to the audience, "Phil's stuck somewhere - he's on
his way, he's gonna be here in some short time and we'll be able to
play loud and all that. Meantime me and Bobby Ace here are gonna
regale you with some old favorites." Weir adds, "We have yet to figure
out what we're gonna do."
They do Monkey & the Engineer, Little Sadie, Long Black Limousine, and
I've Been All Around This World. (Limousine is a neat Everly Brothers-
style song. They start doing Wake Up Little Susie after Limousine, but
decide not to.) Finally Phil shows up and they blast the house with
the first Mason's Children.

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12/26/69 follows a similar course, when Garcia tells the audience,
"Bill is somewhere over Omaha right now on a plane....they assure us
he's gonna be here in a matter of moments.... Bobby and I are going to
regale you with some old standards....while we're waiting around. (to
Weir) Okay, what are we gonna do?"
They do the same songs: Monkey & the Engineer, Little Sadie, Long
Black Limousine, Been All Around This World, Gathering Flowers for the
Master's Bouquet, Black Peter, and Uncle John's Band. (Master's
Bouquet is positively Victorian.)

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The acoustic sets so far had been Garcia & Weir only - we'd never get
to hear Tom Constanten in an acoustic show. His last show with the
Dead was on 1/30/70 in New Orleans. They'd been growing dissatisfied
with him (Weir complained, "he wasn't really a rock & roll musician,
and the whole group when we were playing with him sounded more like an
experimental group than a rock & roll band") - but his exit was
probably hastened by their drug bust that night! Almost by cosmic
coincidence, another accidental acoustic set followed the next day,
1/31, when Phil's bass amp blew.
Weir explains, "We got a busted amplifier here - so you guys can hang
out and chatter amongst yourselves and feel free to wander around and
make friends....while we try to work it out." As frantic repair
efforts take place, Garcia & Weir decide it's time for some acoustic
songs. Phil's amp keeps sputtering sporadically through the acoustic
set as he tries to join in, but eventually he gives up.
They only have one acoustic guitar, so Weir plays a few songs with
Garcia accompanying on electric (a nice blend), then Garcia plays a
few by himself. Pigpen comes out for one song, and they close with an
unusual Cumberland Blues, played with one guitar and handclaps.
Long Black Limousine, Seasons Of My Heart, Saw Mill, Old Old House,
The Race Is On, Black Peter, Little Sadie, All Around This World,
Katie Mae, Cumberland Blues

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The Fillmore West shows in February '70 saw the pedal-steel brought
out again, for some reason - and two shows start with the usual
country tunes:
Seasons of My Heart & The Race Is On on 2/5;
Green Grass, Saw Mill, & Seasons on 2/7 (Sawmill is a fun song, quite
the contrast to Weir's other slow ballads.)
Garcia snickers to the audience on 2/7, "And you thought you were
going to hear rock & roll..."

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In the 2/13/70 late show, for the first time, they have a planned
acoustic set in the middle of the show. The earlier impromptu acoustic
sets apparently showed them the possibilities, since they were fans of
contrast - so through the end of April, the new format for a Dead show
was electric / acoustic / electric, without set breaks. As Garcia said
on 2/28/70, "We're gonna take everybody back about sixty billion
notches, man, and play some acoustic guitars for a little spell, if
it's all the same to you."

Another influence on the acoustic sets was the new album they were
making - in February after the Fillmore run, they went into the studio
and recorded Workingman's Dead in ten days. It was clearly a huge
change from their earlier psychedelic albums, in song-style and studio-
time - but the Dead already regarded Aoxomoxoa as ancient history.
Garcia explained, "We were out of our pretentious thing. We weren't
feeling so much like an experimental music group, but were feeling
more like a good old band." (Hence, Constanten's departure before they
made the album.)
Of course, it also helped that the band was also deeply in debt to
Warner Brothers, so for the first time they were feeling motivated not
only to spend less time recording, but to try to record something
commercial. Garcia said, "I was thinking, when we go into the studio
next time, let's try a real close-to-the-bone approach, like the way
they record country & western records - a few instruments, relatively
simple and easy-to-perform songs. It was quite conscious, an effort to
say, 'Let's not spend a year. Let's do it all in three weeks and get
it the hell out of the way. And that way, if the record does at all
well, we will be able to pay off some of what we owe to the record
company.' So that worked very well. And it was a chance to expose a
side of us that we hadn't exposed very much."
The Dead's acoustic roots and fondness for country certainly hadn't
been exposed before (and their Crosby Stills & Nash-influenced singing
was a shock to all). Garcia and John Dawson both had an interest in
the Bakersfield-country sound - as Dawson said, they were "getting off
on how they used electric guitars to make this real sparse but
beautiful sound. Their harmonies were crisp and clean and the songs
made good sense. If you were a guitar player and you wanted to play
country, you had to listen to Don Rich (Buck Owens' guitarist).
Everybody did, including Jerry, of course. We'd all listen to that
Carnegie Hall record that Buck Owens did and try to figure out how
Rich made those sounds." (Garcia himself would soon be switching to a
Stratocaster guitar: "It was that clarity that I was looking for -
that crispness that you associate with country & western guitar
players.")
Garcia added, "We're part of that California-Bakersfield school of
country & western rock & roll - Buck Owens, Merle Haggard. We used to
go see those bands and think, 'Gee, those guys are great.' Don Rich
was one of my favorites. I learned a lot from him. So we took kind of
the Buck Owens approach on Workingman's Dead. Some of the songs in
there are direct tributes to that style of music, although they're not
real obvious."

In the middle of April, the Dead had a run of all-acoustic shows at
the Family Dog along with the New Riders - they were billed as
"Mickey Hart & His Heartbeats / Bobby Ace & His Cards From The Bottom
Of The Deck". Setlists were kept, but unfortunately there are no
tapes. On the last two nights, Pigpen apparently gets five songs in a
row!
4/17
Don't Ease Me In ; Long Black Limousine ; Monkey And The Engineer ;
Deep Elem Blues ; Candyman > Cumberland Blues ; Me And My Uncle ; Mama
Tried ; Cathy's Clown ; Wake Up Little Susie ; New Speedway Boogie ;
Friend Of The Devil ; Black Peter ; Uncle John's Band
4/18
Don't Ease Me In ; Silver Threads And Golden Needle ; Friend Of The
Devil ; Deep Elem Blues ; Wake Up Little Susie ; Candyman > Cumberland
Blues ; New Speedway Boogie ; Me And My Uncle ; Mama Tried ; Katie
Mae ; The Rub ; Roberta ; Walk Down The Street ; Flood
4/19
I Know You Rider ; Friend Of The Devil ; Candyman ; Sawmill ; Deep
Elem Blues ; The Rub ; Katie Mae ; Roberta ; Big Breasa ; She's Mine ;
Cumberland Blues ; Wake Up Little Susie ; Mama Tried ; Me And My
Uncle ; The Race Is On ; Uncle John's Band

On 5/1/70, the Dead started their first eastern tour with the New
Riders. (Their shows earlier in the year had been with a varied bunch
of opening acts.) The shows were called "An Evening With the Grateful
Dead" and typically ran for quite a while, arranged as an acoustic
set / NRPS set / electric set. Many people in the audience, not
familiar with the New Riders and seeing most of the Dead onstage with
them, probably figured it was more Grateful Dead music!
Jerry said in a May '70 interview:
"We're going through some transitions. Our music is not what it was:
it's continually changing. What we've been doing in the States lately
is having like 'an evening with the Grateful Dead.' We start off with
acoustic music with Bobby and I playing guitars, light drums and very
quiet electric bass. Pigpen plays the organ. Then we have a band we've
been travelling with, the New Riders of the Purple Sage, where I play
pedal steel, not guitar, Mickey plays drums, and three of our friends
from the coast, musicians that we've known for a long time, are
fronting the band. So we start off with acoustic music and then the
New Riders of the Purple Sage -- it's like very snappy electric
country-rock; it's kinda hard to describe -- and then we come on with
the electric Dead, so it keeps us all really interesting, and it's six
hours of this whole development thing. By the end of the night it's
very high."

So starting in May, the acoustic sets generally became longer, and
David Nelson & John Dawson usually joined the Dead for a few songs.
They also added some gospel numbers to end the sets. Nelson typically
plays guitar in Cumberland or New Speedway; and in the gospel songs,
he plays mandolin and Dawson sings.
Some changes came in the summer - Nelson added mandolin to Rosalie
McFall, and gradually other songs as well, until he was playing in
quite a few songs. The Dead were working on the American Beauty album
from August to October - a lot of new songs (covers and originals) got
added to the acoustic set in August, so these later sets have a much
more varied feel, with multiple instruments and that American Beauty
vibe. Pigpen plays piano in the Fillmore sets, which adds a nice
texture - piano generally wasn't heard in Dead shows until the Keith
days.
Special mention should also be made of 8/5/70, despite low vocals,
since it was another all-acoustic show with the New Riders, the only
one we have. (There's also a short set from 7/30/70 that's actually a
Dead acoustic mini-set at a New Riders show.)
Other guests in the acoustic sets were quite rare, compared to
electric sets - David Crosby plays guitar in two songs on 7/14/70 (not
that anyone can tell it's him), and David Grisman plays a second
mandolin on 9/20/70.
A couple songs remain mysterious - in the unique 9/17/70 Box of Rain,
Garcia plays pedal-steel and someone plays fiddle (though it's quite
hard to hear); and in the 9/20/70 To Lay Me Down, possibly Garcia is
playing piano.

In October they stopped playing the acoustic sets - for the rest of
the year they seem to have played just electric sets, though the New
Riders were still touring with them. (The exception is the Capitol
Theater run in November - perhaps the Dead felt that was a special
audience.)
It's hard to say why they stopped doing acoustic sets; I haven't seen
a good reason - perhaps they felt it was getting old & time for a
change. I don't think bigger venues have to do with it - '72 is when
they started getting into really big places - but in '71, aside from
some bigger shows, they were still playing the Capitol Theater &
Fillmores & college theaters, with the New Riders still opening.
Possibly they just decided the acoustic sets didn't sound right, and
wanted to simplify the shows.
They seem to have streamlined their sets in general heading into 1971,
Garcia's "regular shoot-em-up saloon band" phase. In late '70
sometimes they did two electric sets, sometimes one long set (maybe it
depended on the venue). 1971, though it still has some one-set shows
early in the year, is when they really settled on the first-set/second-
set format that would become invariable - it's the last year for a
long time you'd get Dark Stars in the first set!

There are a few remaining acoustic tapes from late 1970; I don't think
any of them are on the Archive.
There's Weir's "Garage Tape 1970", a 15-minute tape from an unknown
date:
The Race Is On, Silver Threads & Golden Needles, Let Me In, Dark
Hollow - Weir, vocals & acoustic guitar; Garcia, pedal steel guitar;
Cipollina, slide guitar; Pete Sears, piano
11/21/70 Boston radio - a short acoustic set:
El Paso, Big River, I Know You Rider, instrumental, Dark Hollow, Anji,
Let Me In - Garcia & Weir; Duane Allman on Anji
12/27/70 Pasadena radio - a short acoustic/gospel set:
Silver Threads & Golden Needles, Cold Jordan, I Hear A Voice Callin',
Swing Low Sweet Chariot - Garcia, Weir, Dawson, Nelson

Through '70 and '71 Garcia went into studios frequently with the pedal-
steel, adding tracks to other people's albums (as well as the New
Riders debut, and his own first solo album). But he still felt unhappy
with his playing: "I'm going after a sound I hear in my head that the
steel has come closest to. But I have no technique on the steel. I've
got a little right-hand technique from playing the banjo, and I've
listened to records. But my intonation with the bar is still really
screwed up. I have to do it by ear....I'm really a novice at it, but
I'm not really trying to become a steel player."
In fall '71 Garcia stopped playing with the New Riders, who replaced
him with Buddy Cage, a steel player they'd found on the Festival
Express tour. Garcia said, "The New Riders are actually too good for
me to be playing steel with. What they need is a regular, good guy
who's been playing since he was three." His last show with them was
10/30/71, partway through the tour.
John Dawson added, "Basically, Jerry got to be too busy. But also, it
was sort of understood that he was helping get what I wanted going. He
dug what I was doing and he dug the fact that my trip let him do
something different, because he was always looking to do different
things. It gave him a chance to warm up and also to relax a little bit
before he had to concentrate on the Grateful Dead's set. At some point
he said, 'I don't think I can do this too much longer; I think you
guys should get someone else.' But he knew at that point that we'd
already met Cage.... When we changed from Garcia to Cage, the pedal
steel playing got better. Garcia wasn't a steel player... We were
after a more traditional kind of thing."
(There are a couple recordings where Weir and Garcia appear in later
New Riders shows, though - 12/9/71 Scotty's Music Store, and 3/18/73
Felt Forum.)

That wasn't the last chapter in Garcia's pedal-steel story. In early
'72, he played it in Weir's new song Looks Like Rain for its first
performances in the Academy of Music run & a couple shows in Europe -
it's odd that they brought it to Europe just to be used in one song!

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After that, though, he gave it up: "It's a hard instrument to play. I
would love to play the pedal steel if I had another lifetime in which
to play it."
But in this lifetime, he was busy enough playing with Howard Wales and
Merl Saunders on top of the Dead's shows - and in early '73, he
started yet another musical trip, rediscovering his bluegrass roots by
playing banjo in Old & In The Way. "It was like playing in the
bluegrass band I'd always wanted to play in. It was such a great band
and I was flattered to be in such fast company. I was only sorry my
banjo chops were never what they had been when I was playing
continually, though they were smoothing out near the end."

Also in 1973, songs from the Dead's acoustic sets were released for
the first time. Bear went back to the Fillmore East Feb '70 tapes to
pick some Pigpen and acoustic pieces for History of the Grateful Dead
- they needed a final album in a hurry to finish their Warner Brothers
contract, and decided to find some old material that hadn't been
represented on record before. It was basically a typical early
acoustic set; however, the Dead disliked the record. By 1973, it
probably sounded prehistoric to them (though not quite as ancient as
the '66 shows that were illicitly released that year as Historic Dead
& Vintage Dead, much to the band's disgust).

Many years later, one more surprise acoustic set came out of the blue
on 11/17/78, before their regular Chicago show. This short set was a
last-minute billing as Bob Weir & Friends at Loyola University
(without the Godchauxs), and saw them playing to a very small crowd -
it's more spontaneous than the later 1980 acoustic shows, and has a
number of unusual song choices that come out of nowhere. As Weir says,
"We're gonna do yet another old country blues, seeing as that's all we
can remember...."

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In 1980, of course, they played a number of acoustic sets in smaller
theaters ("the result of about three afternoons of rehearsal," Garcia
said), and recorded them for Reckoning. I'll leave it to someone else
to post about these (and later) acoustic shows, though.

Here is a listing of the 1970 acoustic sets, which I've made as
complete as possible -

2/13/70 late:
Monkey & The Engineer, Little Sadie, Wake Up Little Susie, Black
Peter, Uncle John's Band, Katie Mae
2/14/70 late:
Monkey And The Engineer; Dark Hollow; I've Been All Around This World;
Wake Up Little Susie; Black Peter; Uncle John's Band; Katie Mae

2/23/70:
Monkey And The Engineer, Little Sadie, Me And My Uncle, Black Peter,
Seasons Of My Heart, Uncle John's Band

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2/28/70:
Monkey And The Engineer, Little Sadie, Black Peter

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3/8/70:
Monkey And The Engineer, I've Been All Around This World, Me And My
Uncle, Black Peter, Katie Mae > Impromptu Blues

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3/20/70:
Deep Elem Blues, Friend Of The Devil (first), Don't Ease Me In, Black
Peter, Uncle John's Band, Katie Mae

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3/21/70:
Friend Of The Devil, Deep Elem Blues, Don't Ease Me In, Black Peter,
Wake Up Little Susie, Uncle John's Band, Katie Mae

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4/3/70:
Friend Of The Devil, Deep Elem Blues, Candyman (first), Wake Up Little
Susie, Black Peter, Uncle John's Band, Katie Mae

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4/9/70:
Friend of the Devil, Deep Elem Blues, Candyman, Black Peter, Uncle
John's Band, Katie Mae

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4/10/70 (no tape):
Friend Of The Devil; Deep Elem Blues; Candyman; Wake Up Little Susie;
Black Peter; Uncle John's Band

4/11/70 (no tape):
Don't Ease Me In; New Speedway Boogie; Friend Of The Devil; Me And My
Uncle; Deep Elem Blues; Candyman; Black Peter; Uncle John's Band

4/24/70:
I Know You Rider, Monkey & The Engineer, Friend Of The Devil, Me & My
Uncle, Candyman, Uncle John's Band

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5/1/70 (first separate acoustic set):
Deep Elem Blues, I Know You Rider, Monkey and the Engineer, Candyman,
Me And My Uncle, Mama Tried, Cumberland Blues, The Race Is On, Wake Up
Little Susie, New Speedway Boogie, Cold Jordan, Uncle John's Band

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5/2/70:
Don't Ease Me In; I Know You Rider; Friend Of The Devil; Dire Wolf;
Beat It On Down The Line; Black Peter, Candyman, Cumberland Blues;
Deep Elem Blues; Cold Jordan; Uncle John's Band
(Dick's Picks)

5/7/70:
Don't Ease Me In, I Know You Rider, Friend Of The Devil, Me & My
Uncle, Deep Elem Blues, Candyman, Cumberland Blues, New Speedway
Boogie, Black Peter, Uncle John's Band

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5/9/70 (partial set w/ harmonica):
Deep Elem Blues, Friend Of The Devil, Silver Threads, Black Peter

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5/14/70:
Don't Ease Me In, Friend Of The Devil, Deep Elem, Silver Threads,
Candyman
(monitor problems & broken string, so the set's cut short)

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5/15/70 early:
Don't Ease Me In; I Know You Rider; The Rub; Friend Of The Devil; Long
Black Limousine; Candyman; Cumberland Blues; New Speedway Boogie; Cold
Jordan
+ late:
The Ballad Of Casey Jones, Silver Threads, Black Peter, Friend Of The
Devil, Uncle John's Band, Candyman, She's Mine, Katie Mae, I Hear A
Voice Callin' (+ show encore: Cold Jordan)

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6/4/70:
Deep Elem Blues, Candyman, Silver Threads And Golden Needle, Friend Of
The Devil, Black Peter, Cumberland Blues, Wake Up Little Susie, Swing
Low Sweet Chariot, Uncle John's Band

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6/5/70:
Dire Wolf, I Know You Rider, Silver Threads, Friend Of The Devil, Me &
My Uncle, Black Peter, New Speedway Boogie

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6/6/70 (doesn't circulate):
Don't Ease Me In; The Frozen Logger; Friend Of The Devil; Candyman;
Deep Elem Blues; Cumberland Blues; Wake Up Little Susie; New Speedway
Boogie

6/7/70:
Don't Ease Me In, Silver Threads, Friend Of The Devil, Candyman, Cold
Jordan, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Cumberland Blues, Me & My Uncle, New
Speedway Boogie

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6/24/70 early:
Dire Wolf; Don't Ease Me In; Attics of My Life; Friend Of The Devil;
Let Me In; Candyman; Uncle John's Band

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6/24/70 late:
Big Railroad Blues; Deep Elem Blues; Monkey And The Engineer; The Rub;
Silver Threads And Golden Needle; Friend Of The Devil; Candyman;
Cumberland Blues; Cold Jordan (+ show encore Swing Low Sweet Chariot)

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(incomplete)

6/27/70:
Don't Ease Me In is in the Festival Express film - along with New
Speedway Boogie from 7/3/70 (and good shots of Pigpen on harmonica).
There is also some interesting train footage: Garcia plays Cold Jordan
along with Sylvia Tyson - the scene with Danko/Joplin/Garcia/Weir
playing Ain't No More Cane is remarkable - and there's a bit of
Delaney Bramlett singing Goin' Down the Road, which Garcia would adopt
for the Dead a few months later.

7/9/70 (no tape):
possibly Friend of the Devil; Silver Threads And Golden Needle;
Cumberland Blues; Dire Wolf; Swing Low Sweet Chariot
(We also don't have the 7/10/70 acoustic set, which is odd since Marty
Weinberg taped that show; possibly one of the 6/24/70 acoustic sets
belongs to this date?)

7/11/70:
The Monkey & The Engineer, Don't Ease Me In, I've Been All Around This
World, Dark Hollow, Black Peter, El Paso, New Speedway Boogie, So Sad
(To Watch Good Love Go Bad), Rosalie McFall, A Voice From On High,
Cold Jordan, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

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7/12/70:
Dire Wolf, The Rub, How Long Blues, Dark Hollow, Friend Of The Devil,
Candyman, Katie Mae, Bring Me My Shotgun > She's Mine, Rosalie McFall,
Tell It To Me, Wake Up Little Susie, Cumberland Blues

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7/14/70:
Don't Ease Me In, Friend Of The Devil, Dire Wolf, Dark Hollow,
Candyman, Black Peter, How Long Blues, Deep Elem Blues, Cumberland
Blues, New Speedway Boogie
(David Crosby guest on last two songs)

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7/30/70 (short Dead acoustic set in NRPS show):
To Lay Me Down (first), Dire Wolf, Candyman, Rosalie McFall, I Hear A
Voice Callin', Swing Low Sweet Chariot

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8/5/70 (all-acoustic show):
Candyman, El Paso, Rosalie McFall, Cocaine Blues, Drink Up And Go
Home, I Hear A Voice Callin', Cold Jordan, Swing Low Sweet Chariot,
Deep Elem Blues, Dark Hollow, Friend Of The Devil, Mama Tried, To Lay
Me Down, Dire Wolf, The Ballad Of Casey Jones

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8/17/70 (partial tape):
Let Me In; Attics Of My Life; Friend Of The Devil (Swing Low & the
first Truckin' also played, but not on tape)

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8/18/70:
Truckin*, Dire Wolf, Friend Of The Devil, Dark Hollow, Ripple* >
Brokedown Palace*, Operator*, Rosalie McFall, New Speedway, Cold
Jordan, Swing Low
* - first available recordings. (Also note that Pigpen plays piano on
several songs in these two Fillmore West shows, and also in the
September Fillmore East shows.)

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8/19/70:
Monkey & The Engineer, How Long Blues, Friend Of The Devil, Dark
Hollow, Candyman, Ripple, Brokedown Palace, Truckin', Cocaine Blues,
Rosalie McFall, Wake Up Little Susie, New Speedway Boogie, Cold
Jordan, Swing Low Sweet Chariot

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9/17/70:
Truckin', Monkey And The Engineer, Dark Hollow, Friend Of The Devil,
Ripple, Brokedown Palace, Box Of Rain (first), Rosalie McFall, Cold
Jordan, Swing Low Sweet Chariot

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9/18/70:
Truckin', Black Peter (set aborted)

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9/19/70:
Don't Ease Me In; Candyman; Silver Threads And Golden Needle; Friend
Of The Devil; Deep Elem Blues; The Rub; Rosalie McFall; Cumberland
Blues; New Speedway Boogie; To Lay Me Down; Cold Jordan; Swing Low
Sweet Chariot

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(only last two songs are available on Archive)

9/20/70:
Uncle John's Band, Deep Elem Blues, Friend Of The Devil, Big Railroad
Blues, Dark Hollow, Ripple, To Lay Me Down, Truckin', Rosalie McFall,
Cumberland Blues, New Speedway Boogie, Brokedown Palace
(David Grisman adds an extra mandolin to several songs)

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11/6/70:
Candyman, Uncle John's Band, Attics of My Life, Drums and Phil
(soundcheck).

Don't Ease Me In, Deep Elem Blues, Dark Hollow, Friend Of The Devil,
The Rub, Black Peter, El Paso, Brokedown Palace, Uncle John's Band

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11/7/70:
Deep Elem Blues, Monkey and the Engineer, Big Railroad Blues,
Operator, El Paso, How Long Blues, Ripple, Brokedown Palace, Uncle
John's Band

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11/8/70:
Dire Wolf, I Know You Rider, Dark Hollow, Rosalie McFall, El Paso,
Operator, Ripple, Friend Of The Devil, Wake Up Little Susie, Uncle
John's Band

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As always, feel free to copy & repost on other forums -
Caleb

_________________
Our freedom, in the very movements in which it asserts itself, creates budding habits which will stifle it, if it does not review itself by constant effort.

Evelyn Underhill
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jessewood34



Joined: 05 Aug 2009
Posts: 356

PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 7:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

my my A.J craig very well researched. i really do enjoy accoustic dead from what ive heard because they do alot of cool traditionals and UJB is best when played accoustically imo.
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a.j.craig



Joined: 07 Jul 2008
Posts: 359
Location: New Zealand

PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 6:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is not me. this originates with a contributor on rmgd - Caleb Kennedy. Hunt around and you'll find a few more of his posts I have put up on this forum.

Cheers

Dave

_________________
Our freedom, in the very movements in which it asserts itself, creates budding habits which will stifle it, if it does not review itself by constant effort.

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jessewood34



Joined: 05 Aug 2009
Posts: 356

PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 2:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

oh yea i saw that ha. but its a really cool article.
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