I. Report from the Land of the Dead
It has a been a busy time in Deadland. Most notably, tickets went on sale this past weekend for the Deadheads For Obama show on October 13th at Penn State. Many of you will remember that earlier this year, Phil, Bobby, Mickey and friends got together at the Warfield for the first Deadheads for Obama concert. This time out, Bill Kreutzmann and Mr. Soulshine Himself, Warren Haynes, will also be in attendance.

Phil Lesh’s son is a volunteer for the Obama campaign, and he got the old man involved. While the formally “non-partisan” band stumping for Obama did cause some bad vibes among some ‘Heads (especially the Ron Paul contingent) the important thing here is to let the show speak for itself.

II. Bill Kreutzmann/Oteil Burbridge/Scott Murawski Trio
Quietly on tour earlier this year was Bill Kreutzmann’s new musical brigade. There was some debate as to what the name of the combo actually was, but Kreuztmann, Burbridge & Murawski became the standard. Some people call it the Kreutzmann Trio, others call it ‘3,’ but whatever you call it, it’s a tight, dynamic outfit.

There aren’t any shows up at the LMA yet, however, many recordings of their shows can be found (in beautiful lossless FLAC) on http://bt.etree.org. I did find this (along with several other clips) on YouTube. Here is “The Bill Kreutzmann Trio” live, 4/20/08, at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago for the Earth Day Festival:

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(Hippie chicks rockin’ the hula hoops at the 4.20 point)

The cool thing about this band is that they are a true example of a power trio. Their music is stripped-down, raw, and very different from the Dead’s traditionally dense and layered sound. It brings a sonic freshness to all those old tunes. The shows are definitely worth the time and blanks.

III. Jerry hangs out with Hef
In January 1969, to promote Aoxomoxoa, The Grateful Dead appeared on Playboy After Dark. In this classic clip, Jerry talks to Hef about the Haight-Ashbury scene and then performs an exquisite version of “Mountains of the Moon” all while wearing a poncho (not a Sears poncho, mind you). Rumors abounded that the band slipped some of Oswley’s finest into Hef and Co.’s scotch, but like many things from back then, it can neither be confirmed nor denied. Dig Tom Constanten (one of the two surviving Dead keyboardists) on harpsichord, and check out that wild sound system on the wall behind the band.

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“Mountains of the Moon” is one of the Dead’s finest songs. A neo-baroque piece for acoustic guitar and harpsichord, it appeared on Aoxomoxoa; interestingly enough, the “Playboy After Dark” appearance is the first documented performance of the song. It was only played a few times in 1969 before vanishing from set lists that summer. “Mountains,” along with “Dupree’s Diamond Blues,” featured Jerry Garcia on acoustic guitar and foreshadowed the band’s foray into an acoustic-based sound the following year. At the song’s conclusion, the band would slip into a light exploratory jam while Jerry switched over to electric guitar and then led the troops into “Dark Star.” Some of these transitional pieces are sublime, and as we all know, 1969 was an exemplary year for the band.

The best of the “Mountains of the Moon” > “Dark Star” performances are :

Feburary 15, 1969, The Electric Factory, Philadelphia, PA

February 22, 1969, The Dream Bowl, Vallejo, CA

February 27, 1969, Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA – This is the night of the QUINTESSENTIAL “Dark Star.” Both “Star” and “St. Stephen” that night would appear on the band’s mammoth live set Live Dead. The spacey introduction on Live Dead is actually the outro/transitional jam coming out of “Mountains” and into the gorgeous “Star.” The Fillmore Concerts box set released in 2005 would restore the entire night. But the original, limited edition 10-disc version includes the March 1st performance as well.

April 5, 1969 The Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, CA – SERIOUSLY amazing Charlie Miller soundboard recording of an incredible show.

Aoxomoxoa was a creative and experimental peak for the band. It followed the sonic puzzle box of Anthem of the Sun and preceded the masterful Working Man’s Dead and American Beauty. Of all of the songs in the Aoxomoxoa song cycle, only “China Cat Sunflower” would be a constant in the band’s repertoire until the end. The infamous “St. Stephen” would be revived for a handful of performances in 1983, but despite fan requests and the persistent “They soundchecked St. Stephen!” rumors of the early ’90s, it never would return.

Fly on, Fairy Sybil…

About the Author

Ben Wiser

Test of the Boomerang is an in-depth exploration of some of the best material found on the Live Music Archive.

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