Garcia said “We were great for seconds on end.” I was lucky to see Jerry play for about 1,000,000 seconds exactly. Thanks for your 1,000,000 views here . Dave Davis wrote this blog for 500 posts and 5 years from 2015 to 2019. Contact me at twitter @gratefulseconds

Friday, April 14, 2017

A Trippy Night In Springfield: April 23, 1977

edit: April 15, 2020  likely April Fools day in Canada is April 15

Thanks for this Charlie Miller and gang.
Another Gerry Garcia reference in the U Mass paper, someday I'll write about this :)

To Jimmy, who's death on 9/11 was senseless.

To Demon, who contacts me every April 23 to remind me of this show. Happy 40 Michael.

Thanks again to David Lemieux for releasing all six Dead shows I saw between April 30 and November 5, 1977.  Soon you can consider adding a seventh.  (If you release Colt Park and Binghamton that would make 11 in a row :)

Edit 11-6-77 with the release of Binghamton, Springfield is the only show of 8 I saw in 1977 without an official release

This was a beautiful and unique sounding show. Listen. And don't forget between It's All Over Now and Scarlet, there is a nice little Blackbird tease. Thanks, Bobby Weir for that.

On the bottom left, I'm currently looking for some 1976 tapes from shows I saw. I already had 6-12-76 since it was on the radio. looks like I was able to score New Year's at the Cow Palace fast too

Ten years ago, on the first day in June 2007 that pages created pages to discuss each show , I made the first comment to the Springfield 1977 page:

A few notes on my tapes of this show.  These were my 88th and 89th tapes in my collection, so among my first 50 shows I owned.  I taped over my audience tapes of the first set of Chicago 2-1-78 and second set of Milwaukee 2-4-78 for these babies.  These were taped by Dave Weidner (who I will blog in detail later, who also supplied tapes to Dick Latvala).  And my pal Jimmy Roux wrote on Slipknot! "real good"  You can listen to the not available before AUD of Dave Weidner's here:

So 1976 passed by and 1977 entered. Back then it may have been 3-5 months before Dead Relix detailed the Cow Palace New Year's Eve Monster in Volume 4, number 4 (available at the GDAO archive here)  So we were left with our memories of June and August and no real idea of what the gang has been up to since then.  For the 1976 shows, Blues for Allah had been released September 1, 1975, so we had plenty of time to absorb that before the June 1976 shows. However, Terrapin Station followed the more normal pattern of being released AFTER the shows (July 27, 1977), so we were flying blind to modifications to the band's repertoire for eight months, except for a little fragments from the Fall tour.

Cubby, Tom, Demon, Jimmy and I came to Springfield with open airs and open minds and little knowledge of what deal was about to go down.  Demon said he and Cubby hitchhiked down from Lewiston to Andover to my dorm on Saturday morning.  Tom and Jimmy had been camping and came with the car to Andover too.  We all said hello to Mr. Cobb and off we went west to Springfield.
See that guy up on the time next to me, on the right at the very very top of my blog. That's Demon. He was there.  It not being summer, I put on my shirt, for the April show in Massachusetts.

This night it poured.  Demon, who really, really, really loves this concert told me recently that he and I got separated from Tom, Cubby and Jimmy (which I don't recall) and we got swept up in his massive human flow into the show once they opened the doors. This was this cool hippie-ish dude who was talking to us, and he saw his brother being detained by the police and he yelled "My Brother, my Brother" and ran back away from the flow into the show.

A rare shot by Thanks Lee

The great photographer Jim Anderson has some amazing pictures of this night. Demon and I (and likely the other guys who may have come a bit later) ended up about where the @james appears, about a  third of the way back, a little bit left of center. Or in the second photo below, all the way to the leftside of the photo about midway between the top and the bottom.

As soon as we arrived, another fine gentleman came by with a friend of his looking a wee bit frazzled. Turns out his name was Dave Weidner from Temple, PA. And Dave started to pull things out of his clothes like mike stands, and microphones, and cassettes and tape deck.  Dave later provided me with many tapes, including this show.  He is one of the best tapers whose recordings are not on the archive except for two, although I have a number of them.  I later found out Dave provided at least 10 tapes to Dick Latvala in two batches, but I will get to that story soon in a later post.

The first set is sharp and solid. Sugaree amazing.  But after the Blackbird tease the Dead spank into Scarlet, which is the first time I have seen it since song 3 first set of my first show June 9, 1976.  I likely didn't realize at the time that Scarlet at end of set will likely top Scarlet at beginning. And of course it did. And then Donna started chanting, and then everything starting getting really trippy like it sometimes happens at this show and the Dead are continuing on into something new.  It took me at least a few moments, if not minutes to realize this is no longer Scarlet Begonias and something new. Sometime that it beginning to feel like Fire, Fire on the Mountain. Wow. What a wonderful moment, maybe like no other than I have ever felt at the Dead show.  Well, I must be exaggerating as readers of this blog know that I have many. many discovery moments, or grateful seconds, that I have felt at Dead shows, but this first time transition of Scarlet Begonias>Fire on the Mountain.

Set two is unique in my 1977 experience starting with three standalone songs

Estimated Prophet, my first listen. "California" I wrote down on my pad.
The Music Never Stopped

A fairly rare trio of songs to open a second set in 1977.   Estimated was found all over sets one and two in 1977, but only opened set two twice after this on 4-27 at the Capitol and 5-4 at the Palladium.

Bertha was also rare in set two, especially after the opener slot, and Music saw a little set two action in 1976-1977, but not in middle of the set.

Then I finally got to see Help on the Way>Slipknot!>Franklin's Tower which continued into Around & Around>Goin Down the Road>Not Fade Away, which was more of a 1974 thing than in the late 1970s after the fishing trip.  This is magical and not repeated in any similar fashion in my seven additional travels to Dead shows in 1977.   There was something magical about this jam especially the Help sequence. This was also the only time I ever saw the Dead use Around & Around in the middle of the set. Happy 40th Springfield.  I got to see two more great shows here in 1978 (at the Mescaline show) and 1979 (with the I Need A Miracle>Shakedown Street frenzy). Soon I would be moving to California in 1980 and leaving you behind.

Later that night, we had four crazed individuals with designated driver Tom behind the wheel in a massive Massachusetts rainstorm where we ran into the dark and put up a tent maybe 10-20 miles east of Springfield in some place we really couldn't identify due to our crazed state.  Tom saved us and probably put up 95% of the tent.

The next morning, I woke and walked out the tent and saw that we were about 20 feet from a huge body of water I believe as part of a dam.  Wild.  Didn't even know we were near water.  After this I saw 76 more Grateful Dead concerts. I realize now that this may have been my favorite one. I saw some better shows, many in 1977 even, but this was the one I'll always remember.

I have provided a number of sources and reviews here including a great review of Thomas W Keffer, who was a Harvard student in 1977, the Dead Relix Jerry Moore review, Dead Listening comments, pieface from and my own 2007 comments, and some nice photos from Jim Anderson and from the U Mass student paper (full page of photos, no review). I don't like the Wall Street Journal's review, but alas it's still interesting.

A Long, Strange Trip

The Grateful Dead in concert at the Springfield Civic Center April 23 coming Boston Garden May 7

AS I PONDERED the shadows cast by the milling crowd on the cement floor of the Springfield Civic Center, a tap on the shoulder and a low voice accosted me. I had not understood at first, but the voice was saying, "Any 'cid?" Not having been at a Grateful Dead concert for some time, I was baffled. "What?", I asked. "Trips--you know, LSD," replied my prospective customer. (And I never thought I looked like the type.) "No. Sorry," I said, but he had already moved on.
I had almost forgotten the atmosphere of a Dead concert, but this solicitation brought back the distinctive flavor. Dead Heads--the band's followers--are a unique and dedicated group, with a language and ritual of their own. They see the Grateful Dead as the last bastion of the Sixties' drug culture. Jerry Garcia, the focal personality of the group, presides as a hip, trollish figure who was there and remembers it when it all happened. Garcia generates the energy of the concert, not with sudden dramatic movement, but with a sparkling liquidity, both in his guitar rills and his cool, mirror-shaded appearance. Dead Heads know his subtlety well. There is still an engagingly underground appeal about the Dead.
Musically, the Grateful Dead have always been most skilled at their own kind of jam. At each song's end, they break down the rhythms and patterns into an elaborate, jazz-like chaos and then reassemble the component parts into another song. These acid-jazz jams comprise some of their best music, like "Dark Star," "Walk Me Out in the Morning Dew," and "The Other." Dead concerts unfold like four-hour medleys as each song gradually gives way to the next. The great theme of the band is departure and return--the trip, metaphorically or literally. Not only does their music describe this pattern, but their lyrics almost invariably deal with travel (I doubt that any group sings the names of cities more often), fantasy voyages, and explorations of the lifestyle they have come to represent.
In their current concert tour, the Dead carry on in this tradition. At Springfield they played for nearly three-and-a-half hours, but performed only 19 distinguishable songs. They came out jamming, and this is a good sign. The critical problem for the Dead in the last few years has been the individual emergency of the personalities within the group. That emergence has reached such proportions that the Coop has opened a new record section for their "solo efforts." This divisiveness has turned some of their concerts into a series of songs, each featuring either Bob Weir or Garcia or Keith and Donna Godchaux. Individual billing fosters a highly stylized and self-indulgent kind of music; it destroys the group's integrity and inventiveness. But in Saturday's concert older, less selfish songs prevailed.
The great length of the concert also shows the band's faithfulness to their tradition. Common wisdom has it that they cater to the four- or five-hour peak of an acid trip, and so they did at Springfield. The size and anxiety of the crowd indicated an equally enormous amount of commitment and planning. Thousands stood in line in the rain as early as five o'clock, and many were showing the signs of a "heightened awareness" by then. The gentleman to my left, for example, who had shaved half his head and tied what was left of his hair into a ponytail, crooned continuously about the moon melting and the pavement swelling. When the police made a move as if to open the doors, the mob pressed together so closely that someone's elbow forced my camera to take a picture of the inside of my poncho. For more than half an hour everyone struggled to breathe and not to let anyone cut in front, as if such mobility were possible. A scene like that makes one wonder if promoters should hold general admission concerts at all. It shows what Dead Heads will put up with, or put upon each other, in order to be two paces closer to the stage.
Once inside, however, the crowd was treated to better concert sounds than the Dead has produced in years. The show began with a slow rendition of "Sugaree." Despite its domination by Garcia's guitar and whiny voice, the song serves well as an introduction because of its rousing and familiar refrain. Having warmed the audience, the band used a faster tempo to create unusual versions of "Cassidy" and "Me and My Uncle." The first set roamed through Dead history from the early "Too Too Minglewood Blues" and "It's All Over Now," to a new song that must be called "Fire on the Mountain" if the endlessly repeated refrain is any indication. The song worked well as it followed "Scarlet Begonias" after a transition of some smooth and intricate guitar and wah-wah pedal work by Garcia. The unfortunately heavy-handed emphasis on refrains took something away from many songs. The Dead tried too hard to make its tunes resound in the listener's ear.
The second set began with another new song, again commanded by Garcia, and continued with "Bertha" and a lengthy set of songs from "Blues for Allah," the group's most recent album. (There were rumors about an album to be released soon. The rumors are probably true--most of these tours are out to promote something.) The Dead ended the night with three well-known rockers, "Around and Around," "Feelin' Bad," and "Not Fade Away." After soaking up ten minutes of applause, they returned for an encore with a strident version of "One More Saturday Night." In all, the show was a good blend of popular favorites from past albums and newer material; certainly the selection was not a blatant promotion effort for their predicted new album.
To decry the prostitution of countercultural standards becomes tiresome. Perhaps no group of musicians should be severely judged on the basis of its desire to be popular. But the music of the Grateful Dead has clearly suffered by its packaging over the past few years. This concert was by no means a 90-minute platter of hit songs, but there were signs of a mercenary attitude. Although the Dead had played for hours, the crowd's enthusiasm called for a less reluctant encore. In order to avoid performing a second encore Weir stepped up to the microphone and said, "Good night, folks," in a condescending tone that meant "Go home now." This arrogance, coupled with the disregard for spectators' comfort and safety before the concert began, is not very endearing. It indicates a distance from the audience that smacks of commercial manipulation.
Hopefully, though, these are minor logistical problems that can be ironed out for future concerts, like the Boston performance set for May 7. The character of the Dead's performance in Springfield suggests some of the old cohesive spirit. And they still haven't turned up on Wolfman Jack's Midnight Special.

pieface is correct in every regard
from U Mass Student Paper April 1977
The best reviews I find are from the super fans

MIT student wants to bag the vast Garden for the Springfield Civic Center; even trade

Movie or The Real Thing?? Your choice

Here we have a stand out show from the Spring. Great copies of this show have stood the test of time very well. There are two masters up on now. I've opted with the Jerry Moore recording here. You will not be disappointed.

This show has just the third performance of Fire On The Mountain, and it is wonderful. The Dead are locked in to this new groove, and clearly feeding off of the energy of all the new material. Sticky syncopations and that psychedelic shuffle-slip-n-slide prevail. Jerry is dipping deeply into the creative well again and again. Just when you think he's turned a last corner, he hasn't, and you can only smile along for the ride.

The Wall Street Journal dude has no clue :)

While they sometimes soared, the most lasting impression their concert performances made on me, besides a recognizable refrain here and there, was on my inner ear. I sometimes think the band’s greatest legacy is the problems I have these days hearing pretty much anything anybody is saying to me at cocktail parties.

If seeing Mr. Garcia up close constituted a peak experience, I can also pinpoint the low, a concert at what was then the Springfield Civic Center in Springfield, Mass., in probably 1977.

We’d driven down from Stowe, Vt., a three-hour journey. And come intermission my traveling companions were heard to say, as if under hypnosis, “We’ve got to get closer… we’ve got to get closer…”

They meant to the stage.

I don’t mean to suggest that I was stone sober, only that I’ve never understood the appeal of zombies, especially when the undead include people I’d formerly recognized as friends.

So I fled the arena, in the process almost getting run over by the Dead’s limousines, arriving to spirit them away at show’s end. Dressed in overalls—for the first and last time—I crossed the deserted street, huddling in the doorway of a McDonald’s. At that instant the fast-food chain seemed no more or less a brand, a symbol of capitalist triumph, than the sold-out arena across the street.

I didn’t stay huddled for long. My New York City boy instincts kicked in when some locals issued from a car wearing predatory smiles. Perhaps it was just paranoia, but I got the impression they saw a freshly scrubbed Dead Head as easy pickings. I wasn’t going to hang out long enough to find out.

The Grateful Dead, including several original members, on Sunday before what they said was their final concert, at Soldier Field in Chicago.
The Grateful Dead, including several original members, on Sunday before what they said was their final concert, at Soldier Field in Chicago. PHOTO: JAY BLAKESBERG/REUTERS
Against all odds I made my way back to our car, my friends still in the throes of their trance-like bliss when they returned at concert’s end (they hadn’t even noticed I was missing). Most of the discussion on the way back to Vermont was spent on a learned analysis of that night’s set list.

I recall with relief a song of Steely Dan’s coming on the car radio, their music sounding like the antidote I’d been seeking all evening; it resonated with a willful inscrutability that seemed designed to dissuade idolatry.

Don’t get me wrong. At their most melodic, life-affirming best, the Dead are right up there with the Beatles.

“Scarlet Begonias.” “Ripple.” “Friend of the Devil.” “U.S. Blues.”

It hardly matters how many times you’ve heard the songs. Wisdom has rarely been delivered in such digestible doses.

But that’s its beauty. It need never say farewell.


Me in April 1977

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