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jessewood34



Joined: 05 Aug 2009
Posts: 356

PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2010 2:03 pm    Post subject: TC Reply with quote

Tom constaten is probably the least well known member of the grateful dead (IMO). I mean he only had one full year as the dead's keyboardist a couple months in 68 and then in january of 70 and yet in that time i think he really helped them to acheive more ethereal and extended playing. I mean just listen to his keyboard playing on dark star compared to pigpens playing. All pig does on DS is play that keyboard theme over and over again. While TC started playing it but then broke off and made up his own lines. I really enjoy his playing actually. But its mysterious why he left. From what i read the dead kicked him out cuz he wasnt into LSD and followed scientology. Weir say he was trying to make them into an avant garde band instead of a rock n roll band. But its still a mystery why he left. And i think he was the keys player who did st.stephen the best but thats just my opinion. Any one else really enjoy TC?
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jimmyjazz3389



Joined: 20 Oct 2009
Posts: 56

PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 2:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

TC is an acquired taiste, one that i acquired right off the bat! His organ licks provided a very colorful musical background to Dark Stars from 1969, making them uniquely psychedelic to my ears. My favorite TC moments (favorite version of this jam also) come from the 3/2/69 Cryptical Reprise. Gotta love that run, got it from good ol speeding arrow but im pissed off because someone in my household (not gonna name names here.....) deleted that whole fucking run from my i tunes so its gone forever unless i buy it!!! The horror!!! Also the Dark Star from Woodstock has some spicy TC playing, in fact IMO all 69 does....

Phil says in Searching for the Sound that TC moved on after those Hawaii shows because the dead were moving less towards the psychedelified jamming and more towards a basic song structure(of coarse they still jammed balls) that we hear in Workingman's Dead and American Beauty. Also i think he took a job conducting some as you said avant garde group. the only time he played with them after those shows in late January was 4/28/71, closing of the Fillmore East. That Dark Star by the way is a must listen!
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jessewood34



Joined: 05 Aug 2009
Posts: 356

PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 4:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah that sounds prty true. On the tapes ive heard from the first month of 70 he doesnt seem comfortable playing those country tunes. I also know that on occasion he plays with a dead cover band called terrapin flyer.
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light into ashes



Joined: 18 Apr 2009
Posts: 193

PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 10:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's an interesting interview with TC, though he doesn't talk about splitting with the Dead, but he does discuss his early times with them & his problems with the band's live sound:
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And here's another, very interesting interview!

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Sample quote, about his memories of recording the Live/Dead shows:
"I’d known her in Las Vegas. She went to my high school, and she came to visit me that weekend, when we were playing at the Fillmore West. It felt like we did well, musically speaking. But all I remember from that weekend is her, and wistful fancies of what might have been. The weekend at the Carousel Ballroom was one of those few times that I had a relatively decent stage setup. That is, I could hear the organ in the monitors, and its sound didn’t make my skin crawl. As on other such occasions, however, it was such a surprise to me when it happened that it took some time to adjust to. And I never got that time, anyway... Despite continued efforts, I’d been unable to get a keyboard to practice on at home. Hence, I was learning chord changes on the fly, if at all. And the opportunity to practice, such as I’ve had a taste of since, wasn’t even a dream."

Another source says:
Constanten left The Grateful Dead to accept an offer to write an off-Broadway musical — “and I would be in a band where I could hear the keyboards” — and return to performing, writing and recording classical music.
As he says in the interview above, he had a hard time hearing himself in the Dead's live shows and felt like there was little room for him between all the guitars, so he liked his studio work with the Dead more.
“I felt better in the studio because I didn't have the sound problems I had onstage. The technology of the time couldn't amplify a Hammond B-3 enough to compete with guitars. The studio definitely worked more to my advantage.”

I remember from another interview with him, he went at the chance to be in another musical project, where as he said, he could be a "big fish in a little pond". (Actually, this interview was in one of the now-yanked Golden Roads....)

Of course, the Scientology / not taking LSD / Weir being upset at his being "too experimental" and not playing rock&roll - those were a factor, too!

And I think I've mentioned before, but it's probably no coincidence that he left a) right after the drug bust, and b) right before they were going to record the Workingman's Dead songs.

But, here's another quote about the early days:
"It would have been better, in all sorts of ways, for me to be with them from the start. I sure would have enjoyed it more. As it happened, I was spirited away....into the U. S. Air Force. Still, stout fellows that they were, they held on and waited for me to get loose from Uncle Sam’s clutches. There were a couple of times I did get away, on leave or on a three-day pass, to record or perform with them.... It was during one of the Anthem of the Sun sessions that Jerry officially invited me to join the band."
And as you know, literally the day TC left the Air Force (11-22-68), he flew out to join the Dead on tour and played at their next show on 11-23-68.... Some people say he had an immediate effect on the band's sound, as their jamming style in the Dark Stars became more 'subtle'. (I talked about this a bit in the Dark Star '68 post.) Certainly he's a huge part of what they achieved in '69 - his fingerprints are all over shows from that year. But they were definitely heading more to hard rock&roll jamming by the end of the year, which was not his style...
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jessewood34



Joined: 05 Aug 2009
Posts: 356

PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 10:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

surprisingly him and pigpen actually became very good friends because they didnt like psychdelics. I mean idk id be prty pissed if they brought in a guy to take over at keyboards for me. but yeah about that thing about him not being able to hear himself. On some shows you can hear him right up in the mix with the guitars. while on others you can barely hear him at all but that probably depends on the venues possibly idk im no sound guy.
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jimmyjazz3389



Joined: 20 Oct 2009
Posts: 56

PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 1:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm i suppose by this time (1969) he wasnt into psychedelics, but back in 64 or 65 Phil talks about him having an ecstatic LSD trip off some sugar cubes. The way Phil describes the look on his face in the book brings a smile to mine.

Nice post Light into ashes, very imformative!
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