Talk From The Rock Room: January 2016

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Put The Boot In: Jefferson Airplane 'Before the Empire Falls' May 7, 1969 Golden Gate Park

Jamming in the rock room today in tribute to guitarist/songwriter Paul Kantner is a soundboard recording of Jefferson Airplane’s original line up live in Golden Gate Park on May 7, 1969 on a double bill with brothers in cahoots the Grateful Dead.  The performance has been released in many different guises both officially and unofficially but the version I am enjoying today comes from a bootleg CD with a purported lineage of being one cassette tape removed from the master. The concert has its moment’s magic but also acts as a nicely captured historical document of a fertile and turbulent era of rock history. The band feels and plays way laid back to the point of almost tipping over while performing for their tribe and the show contains a number of yet to be released songs and one premier.

Fred Neil’s ‘Other Side of This Life’ opens the show with a light bubbling introduction that slowly coagulates into a churning palpitation as the band falls into place. The well mixed soundboard features Jack Casady’s heavy Alembic thump and a pleasing balance that shows everyone in the sonic spectrum. ‘Other Side of this Life’ lifts the curtain on the performance and starts the concert ablaze. Kaukonen’s first solo takes a second to get started before it ignites and explodes into the second set of verses where the Airplane choir is in full throat and roars out the ropy melody. The outdoor atmosphere can be felt on the recording through Jorma’s quivering distortion and the natural roominess expressed on the recording. For Kaukonen’s second solo he catches a thread on a nail and lightly pulls unraveling and initiating Dryden’s drums to hit on the head of a railroad rhythm. Kantner then begins to thrash metallic scraps from his Rickenbacker assisting the song in reaching a thrilling and turbulent climax.

A swampy ‘Somebody to Love’ follows and begins sounding like a ‘Cream’ song. Slow and stony Grace begins oozing a horny vocal vibe while the band stumbles heroically through the changes. Admittedly, there are some issues here with Jorma sounding like he is having a hard time staying in tune. Finally the vocalists get the energy up in enough time for Kaukonen to take a vibrato but slightly disoriented solo spot.

Grace makes a comment about getting the ‘gremlins away from the tuning pegs’ while Kantner strums the opening chords of ‘The Farm’.  This is a premier performance for the song and I believe one of only a handful of renditions. Fitting for the spring of 1969 San Francisco environment, Kantner and Slick join forces with Dryden banging on drums for the lilting sing along. Grace scats along with Paul’s endearing deadpan deliveries eliciting the spacious green field melody. A super rare performance and classic cut.
‘Somebody got hit with a chain’, looking for a doctor’, Grace Slick announces from the stage before the next number, an eerie foreshadowing of Altamont which was half a year away.  ‘Greasy Heart’ slithers out slicked up and glissades from the speakers on Kaukonen’s milky wah-wah pumping. One of Slick’s finest Airplane tracks in the ‘rock room’s humble opinion this version switches tempo more than a couple times but does settle into a respectable version spotlighting some soaring Slick hollars’. Dripping with sensual psychedelia ‘Greasy Heart’ pumps its lusty rhythms into the May afternoon air.
Typical of the outdoor shows of the era, the band deal with some technical issues but kees things light and play their way proudly through any issues with aplomb. Kantner plays the chiming introduction of ‘Good Shepherd’ soon after ‘Greasy Heart’s’ conclusion.  In spite of a tentative beginning ‘Good Shepard’ locks hands by the mid song changes and suddenly becomes a stormy folk march with Jorma and Jack getting especially spunky. What makes this version special is that Grace is the lead vocalist and not Jorma who would be on the record.  Grace makes the comment that she likes the song at its conclusion and asks Jorma if he wrote it or if it was a traditional song. The song is a traditional while being arranged by Jorma into the psychedelic folk ballad disseminated by the Airplane.

A sloppy good ‘Plastic Fantastic Lover’ follows with Jorma and Jack almost drowning Balin’s screaming vocals.  Dryden slams his drums into submission in a vain effort to keep up with Kaukonen’s resounding string explorations. The groove and Jorma’a endless riffing help to institute a euphoric and dizzying version. A high speed and high intensity ‘Plastic Fantastic Lover’ is always a highlight of Airplane performances. 

Jorma gets an additional spotlight as the band begins ‘Uncle Sam Blues’, a straight blues number turned into a howling protest against war. A highlight of their 1969 Woodstock performance and other concerts of the era here it is probably the strongest track of the concert thus far. Smoky and contemplative Kaukonen lays it down like silly string, lending the shady changes a day glow accent. His riffs range from watery to over driven to softly muted games of hopscotch across the neck. His last solo is dramatic while melodic and worthy of close inspection.  Stinging licks, weedy but fitting vocals and heavy accompaniment by the rhythm section make this song a notable performance for repeated jamming.

Another song from the yet to be released Volunteers album follows and this time it’s a funky rendition of the title track.  A celebratory reading follows with the three vocalists weaving a stellar blend. The performance matched with the upcoming ‘White Rabbit’ display both ‘big’ Airplane numbers, one well known and one about to be. Kantner’s signature guitar changes are drizzled with sticky Kaukonen licks as the group collaborates on a tasty early version of a classic number. Acid and incense, music and madness this particular song at this specific concert is soaked in the 1960’s and emanates its elements from the aged magnetic tape. 

The expected ‘White Rabbit’ follows in a version commensurate with other versions and with the intensity of the concert thus far.  Grace dedicates the song to a friend in the audience. Nothing to take away from the version, it is just one of many available for those who look.

The Bathing at Baxter's song suite ‘Won’t You Try/Saturday Afternoon’ follows with an unfortunate cut right when the winds of discovery start to take hold. What is available is a solid version typical of the era but as previously stated missing the creamy center. The verses are intact.
The glistening centerpiece of the performance and the musical mine where all the valuables are located comes in the aptly titled, ‘Jam In the Key of D’. The jam crystallizes from silence and sneaks in concealed in shadow. Constructed of sturdy Jack Casady chording the jam emerges from the mist similarly to a Grateful Dead ‘Dark Star’ jam of the same vintage that would reveal itself from a molecular space. Jorma hits on his stock ‘curly q’ lick which starts to pay dividends as Casady expands his pallet and Kaukonen reaches for alternate expressions. Jorma switches to a softly muted tone which exposes a turnaround in the jam where Dryden begins to pick up the tempo. Jorma attempts to hypnotize himself before letting a violet drone of feedback stretch into the horizon, becoming another theme to peek around the corner at. 

Casady squawks loudly with a series of fat rolls of sound to which Jorma answers with succinct chirps. The groove morphs again while Kantner is absent and the song begins to feel like a embryonic ‘Hot Tuna’ track. Kaukonen and Dryden enter into a rolling call and response to which Casady keeps the lines of communication open. Jorma stirs the pot with distorted and static chords that increase the tension and bring the jam to the top of another flight of steps. The drums then falls away as Jorma reverberates with a elastically repetitive lick that folds over on itself. The air receives an electric charge and the sound gains form. Casady winds around the post Jorma has planted as Dryden returns and the creation rises again. As the beautiful slice of improve unique to this day in Golden Gate and painted in musical watercolors on the spot concludes, chuckles can be discerned from the stage and then the available tape cuts. Believed to follow but not available on the circulating tape are performances of ‘3/5’s of a Mile in Ten Seconds’ and what would be the first performance of ‘Mexico’. Unfortunately these songs are unavailable on my recording.

While maybe not at the performance level of the circulating October shows from Winterland, the May 7, 1969 Golden Gate Park of Jefferson Airplane is a crispy soundboard recording of a vital time in San Francisco rock and for the original line up of the band. Within the year the line up would change and soon after Jefferson Airplane would be no more. But for a few unique years the band (along with the Grateful Dead) were the epitome of the mysterious San Francisco sound and the pilots of psychedelic rock. Throw on a version of this recording for another immortalized musical moment filled with performance magic.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Tools of the Trade: 'Magic Rising' The Doors Robby Krieger and his Gibson SG's

One of the psychedelic rock era's most important pioneers, Robby Krieger, founding member and guitarist of the Doors did most of his sonic damage using one particular make and model of guitar. While the 'rock room's' Tools of the Trade feature focuses on one particular instrument of choice for a chosen musician, in the case of Krieger he used multiple versions of one particular maker and style. Krieger's choice of instrument never strayed far from the curved devil's horn's of a Gibson's SG guitar.

Krieger once said about his SG's, 'it does what I need it to do'. A slight understatement, when Krieger joined the Doors in 1965 he had been playing electric guitar for maybe a year. His limited musical background was steeped in classical music from his parents influence and his earliest instrumental experiments were on trumpet and piano. His guitar interest blossomed with the explosion of early rock and roll but his playing stayed rooted in flamenco and blues and acoustic music. Krieger took lessons and studied flamenco guitar while in school. His sound is one of the most recognizable in rock, a sonic fingerprint resulting in 'ah-ha' moments even if heard through the distorted crackle of a distant FM classic rock radio station.

Whether contemplating his extended jazz excursions peppered with 'Summertime' and 'My Favorite Things' quotes in the central jam of his own composition 'Light My Fire' - his psilocybin landscapes of finger-picked guitar during 'The End' - or his unidentified flying object silver screams of feedback in 'When the Music's Over'. Krieger always coaxed inspiration from a history of sources and from the wooden bones of his favorite guitar.

In 1961 Gibson introduced the SG guitar (SG stands for solid body) without approval from Les Paul himself, hence Les's name missing from the guitar. Krieger first came into contact with an SG in 1964 when he was in a pawn shop looking for a cherry red Gibson 335 similar to the one he witnessed Chuck Berry playing. Without the budget of Berry the young aspiring Krieger found a Gibson 1964 SG Special for under $200.00. Thus would begin Krieger's move from flamenco and folk to electric rock and roll and a place in history. The instrument would go on be Krieger's main guitar throughout the Doors and his career as a musician until it was stolen in the early 1970's and would also initiate a love affair with the particular style of guitar that lasts right up to today.

This first SG guitar of Krieger's was heritage cherry in color, featured a solid mahogany body and a maple/mahogany neck marketed as the 'fastest in the world'. The 22 fret guitar was the distinctive SG double cutaway lending a greater reach to the top of the neck. The guitar also came outfitted with a vibrola tremolo which Krieger would have removed. The guitar was outfitted with two volume controls and two tone controls as well as a pick up switch. Krieger would use this guitar on all the early Doors recordings and concerts before purchasing a 1967 SG Standard in late 1967 early 1968 which he would also use often in junction with the 64.

The original 64 SG would assist in blazing the trail for Krieger while he made a name for himself. But after these formative days Krieger's SG's become more difficuly to track; he has been quoted as saying he had 'lots of red ones' and for the remainder of the Doors career, as well as his stint with the Butts Band and his solo work many would come and go. The first 64 SG he owned is recognizable though from the 67 by its dot inlay and smaller pick guard. Krieger's later guitars would have the larger 'bat wing' pick guard pictured below.
Krieger's uniqueness as a player was birthed at this aforementioned early time by the influence of his flamenco and blues finger picking style transposed to an electric rock context. His formative electric playing melded with his Doors band mates Morrison, Manzarek and Densmore, all unique players hailing from a plethora of musical backgrounds which developed a particular and unparalleled style of playing for Robby. Krieger's finger picking fit perfectlyin a band with no bass player as he was able to add bass notes with his thumb when needed. Through his experiments in exploring modal scales, feedback, drone, LSD and slide guitar, Krieger, with his trusty SG was able to revolutionize a shamanistic approach to his instrument and become the perfect accompaniment to his peculiar band mates.

The most famous example of Krieger's inner collaboration of influence can be witnessed on 'Spanish Caravan' from the Doors 1968 album Waiting for the Sun. Here the song opens with Krieger solo acoustic, playing a piece influenced by the Spanish classical guitar movement 'Asturias'. Before long he soars in with a fuzz drenched descending riff into the song proper. Krieger's progressive guitar influence is on full display in this track where both sides of his coin of influence can be enjoyed.
In late 1967 early 1968 Krieger purchased the previously mentioned Gibson 1967 SG Standard that I believe he still owns today. Besides the differences in appearances, sonically the 67 SG contained two humbucker pickups as opposed to the P-90's resulting in a thicker more rotund tone. Obviously tone is subjective and a number of factors like, strings, amps, pickups, modifications, approach and even weather can affect the color of an artists sound. In the case of the SG, generally the guitar offers a throaty voice and a husky bite. Jerry Garcia used an SG in the Grateful Dead during the same era 68-69 resulting in some of the finest examples of the alchemy of the instrument in the correct hands. Pete Townsend and Carlos Santana can also be seen holding the red devil during the late 1960's and early 1970's.

Krieger usually plugged his SG' into Fender Twin's, a standard in rock and roll, though his first amp in the Doors was a Magnatone amp with two 12' speakers. He also used(s) a Fender Showman amplifier and a host of other Fender amps. Krieger in his Doors days also played with a limited amount of pedals and effects on stage which include but may not be limited to a Maestro Fuzztone and an echoplex pedal. He was an expert in coaxing sound from whatever he had close at hand, a forager for the organic muse with a minimal of extraneous tools. The perfect foil to Morrison's lyrical detours, Krieger used melodicism to shape formlessness and a transparent cadence to keep the music buoyant and afloat.

Robby's influence on rock music as well as the SG guitar came to full fruition in 2009 when Krieger's 67 Standard would be combined with elements from a close friends 1961 SG (the neck) as well as other personal specs and qualifications to create the Robby Krieger Edition SG guitar. This instrument combined all of the greatest strengths and personalized touches of Krieger's guitars into his own guitar. The signature instrument culminating a long musical road from his picking the 64 SG Special off of the wall in the pawn shop all those years ago.

When the Music's Over 1968 Hollywood Bowl

American Bandstand 1967

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Take One: Ronnie Lane and Slim Chance - 1974 Single 'The Poacher' -'I'll Let This World Go By'

Spinning today in the 'rock room' is a vintage 7' single from Ronnie Lane and Slim Chance. 'The Poacher' was released in May of 1974 in conjunction with Lane’s debut solo album, Anymore for Anymore where the song also can be heard as an LP track. The song, similar in scope to much of Lane’s work, is a visual narrative packaged in a lilting and moving aural framework. Lane, of Small Faces and later Faces fame had left his band Faces in mid 1973 after an exciting run of fame, decadence, booze, travel and power.  These aforementioned factors had never meant much to Lane who was more interested in a simple life focused on farm work, family and friends all while composing and playing music no matter the size of the crowd or the reaction of the critics. This 1974 single assimilates Lane's new found freedoms as a solo artist and family man at his Fishpool Farm in Wales.

Lane put together the band ‘Slim Chance’ after his defection from Faces with the design to create unpretentious home grown acoustic oriented music established by British folk elements, music hall aesthetic and his own melodically constructed musical compositions. Lane’s music always stood out on the Faces early 1970 LP’s in stunning contrast to Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood’s compositions due to his gentle and wry lyricism, his pastoral thematic ideas and his hymnal melodic qualities.  Toward the end of the band's initial 3 year peak Lane was feeling that his time with the Faces had caused him to compromise some of his musical integrity. By the time mid 1973 rolled around Lane was leaving the group and  beginning to create music on his own terms and based on his own merits. Ronnie Lane and his cronies in 'Slim Chance' unearthed each others musical roots allowing Lane to soak up the spotlight of the sun once obscured by bigger and more eager musical comrades.
The instrumentation for Lane’s new band line up was as special as their songs; banjos, mandolins, violin, dobros and accordions decorate much of the group’s music. In addition to woody and eclectic instrumentation many of the songs for Anymore for Anymore were recorded right outside in Lane’s Fishpool fields via the Ronnie Lane Mobile Studio. Lane’s single ‘The Poacher’ b/w ‘Bye and Bye (Gonna See the King) assimilates all of the aforementioned elements that not only make Lane’s songs unique but also epitomize the effortless attitude and rustic song construction he longed to express.

‘The Poacher’ begins with the anticipatory gallop of a brisk hi-hat and a sparkling acoustic strumming that massages the resonant call of the songs central melody played on oboe. The melody repeats, folded over like a delicate a bird song. Sweetly seasoned strings (double fiddles?) rise and fall with the levels of the rolling musical river that we visit. The lyrics tell the tale of Lane early morning excursion into  his woods where he comes upon a solitary woodland traveler (the world's first poacher) established with his box of tackle and focused on the river, deep in contemplative concentration.

Lane’s double tracked vocals quiver like suspended leaves tickled by the backcounry breezes that have been conjured by the rhythmic bounding of the tune. He sings the descending vocal line balanced on the edge of his range while inspired by the swirling arrangement. A a whistling keyboard appears gently in the mix hovering. Well timed lowly groaned vocal dressings alternate underneath it all while separating the verses. You can hear footsteps approach, smell the decomposing soil and sense the slow gurgle of the river.

The mystical narrative enters into the consciousness of the poacher who not only transcends time and exudes a simple existence. Lane’s beliefs are reflected in the character that has no need for the trappings of the mainstream world, riches, power, or the exposing of this heart, only with the chance to be broken. The ‘poacher’ is content with the unchanging flow of the water and the hopefulness that the river will provide a bounty through his fishing. His position reflected in the lyric, ‘bring me fish with eyes of jewels and mirrors on their bodies, bring them strong and bring them bigger than a newborn child’. The indistinguishable blend of vocal, lyric and arrangement draws the picture Lane has created in vivid swaths of color.
Conflict over the character of the man described by Lane is also played out in the title of the song. Generally, a ‘poacher’ is involved in activities that may not always be sanctioned by law. While the man is sketched as simple and noble, can we be certain his actions are honorable? Such is what makes the song so wonderful, the openness for interpretation. Anyways, I digress, the song continues and the musical vista created by Lane moves through the multiple organic currents of his arrangement. Lane's earnestness of voice creates an enduring image and states it in a magically uncomplicated way.

'The Poacher' proceeds to build on its melodic mantra where the strings and organ begin to intertwine while racing ahead of the song and then falling slowly back in line, cars on a train line. Truly the alchemy of the song is to be found in the unhurried relationship between the racing rhythm and patient melody lines that tighten and slacken naturally. The song states its story and fades away on its sturdy melody that three and a half minutes earlier it had used initially to usher us in to the tale.

It amazing to me and I’m sure to others that Lane’s music and in particular ‘The Poacher’ did not reach a larger audience. When released it did reach into the top 20 in the UK respectably. But as is so often the case, posthumously Lane’s talent and influence have been re-inspected and given their due respect. Oddly enough, it was never about critical acceptance for Lane, it was about music that touched you deeply no matter the venue or element of transmission.  His ‘Passing Show’ tour where he moved through the English countryside with a traveling circus playing in a tent should be acting proof of this! ‘The Poacher’ is one of numerous ‘small’ Lane masterpieces and stands stoically in his catalog as proof of his foundations as well as a capture his superior musical talents.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Jerry Garcia Band - Garcia Live Volume 4 - I'm Ready To Give Anything' March 22, 1978

Hailing from the most current live release series featured by the Estate of Jerry Garcia and grooving in the ‘rock room’, Garcia Live Volume Four, reveals itself from Garcia’s plentiful and bulging tape vault. The recording comes from March 22, 1978 at Veterans Hall in Sebastopol, CA and features a tour already well represented on official releases because of its crispy playing, plentiful jamming and sonically amazing recordings. The now defunct Pure Jerry series spotlighted the JGB’s March 18, 1978 early and late performances, as well as concerts from February and June on the Bay Area 1978 release. (Now OOP and VERY expensive)

This incarnation of the ‘Jerry Garcia Band’ is worthy of deep inspection and performed together from November 1977 through November of 1978. In addition to Garcia the band included, John Kahn (Bass), Keith Godchaux (Piano, Vocals), Donna Godchaux (Vocals), Maria Muldaur (Vocals) and Buzz Buchanan (Drums), a stellar and homegrown assemblage of talent. This particular performance also features future Garcia Band member Ozzie Ahlers sitting in for the final four songs of the second set. What makes this era so attractive to fans and archivists is the nimble and airy aesthetic of the group. Godchaux and Garcia provide the color to the tunes, spinning delicate and ornate webs of melody around one another. Kahn’s hide and seek bass playing is always a unique aspect of the JGB’s rolling mystical attitude. While Kahn’s relationship with the clean sheet drumming of Buchanan gives the tunes a flexibility not always available to Garcia in the Grateful Dead.

Garcia’s guitar tone during this era is also something of note. His famous Doug Irwin ‘Wolf’ guitar returned to the stage in the Fall of 1977 after Garcia put away his touring Travis Bean guitar for technical issues. The ‘Wolf’ appeared refurbished and retooled with a big brassy tone, similar to a a huffing and puffing psychedelic horn. Garcia’s vocals during this era are also some of the most emotive and expressive of his career. While his throat still contained a youthful exuberance, its continued maturity injected wisdom and inquisitive weariness to his storytelling. The Spring 1978 Grateful Dead tour the following month from this concert is well-known for Garcia’s emotional vocal performances, especially on the ballads. This new-found vocal investment may or may not be due to Garcia’s newly found love of heroin which is well-known for its effect on many artists vocal approach and timbre.
The concert begins with usual JGB show opener “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)” always a proper number to warm up the chops and loosen rigid fingers. The swift and skillful group floats like a feather but drops musically like a melodic anvil. There was a full moon on this evening and its effect is immediately noticeable in the magical tides being pushed and pulled by the band.
One of the finest versions of “Catfish John” follows next in the set and is highlighted by both Garcia and Godchaux’s melodic explorations. Each nook and cranny of the song is searched for differing avenues of expression by the duo. A highlight moment right off of the bat.

The preceding East Coast segment of the JGB’s tour had just concluded on March 19 and a definite contrast in vibe is felt with this introductory West coast performance. The first set floats along patiently, moving through three extended versions of elongated readings of Dylan’s ‘Simple Twist of Fate’, ‘Second That Emotion’ and a respectful and regal version of ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down’. ‘Simple Twist’ clip-clop’s with a horse’s strut, Garcia lending his own special poignancy to ‘Simple Twist’ with melodic interpretations of Dylan’s verses that draw out visual scenes not sketched by the original interpretation. Garcia’s gift of melodic invention is on full display here, as the maestro pulls out masterful diversions from Dylan’s vocal melodies.

The set closing “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” looks trough a misty window at battlefields of the past. Again, the song is stretched out and examined dynamically with the prime interpreter Garcia illustrating new meanings through his ariose guitar runs. This flexing version lends an emotional and introspective conclusion to the set.
The second set begins excitedly with a bounding tempo as the band introduces Jimmy Cliff’s “Harder They Come”. A kinetic groove is developed around Kahn and Godchaux’s quivering exclamations, equaling another rendition that is representative of an all time version. Garcia’s guitar is plump and round, his slithering runs hitting the central spot of the frets each and every time. These are not the speed runs, or aimless noodles that Garcia is sometimes guilty of when he may be feeling too good. These are concentrated and developed reconstructions of the melody, bent and shaped into original forms and readings. This is when Garcia is at his best. Sometimes the spaces between the notes are as uniquely expressed as the flexed one note holds. Garcia’s prowess as a rhythm guitarist which is often highly underrated is also of note in this version. Garcia scrubs until creating bubbles under Godchaux’s solo segment which in turn is sandwiched by additional Garcia solo picked excursions.

Keeping with the increasing energy of the second set comes another definitive reading with a stoic“Mission in the Rain”. Even though this song could be considered a ‘ballad’, here it sways away at a strutting clip. One of Hunter/Garcia’s finest songwriting moments, the song never quite felt right with the Dead, here it elicits a downpour of Garcia trills that reflect Godchaux’s misty keys, eventually building and thundering into a massive musical storm. Also highlighting this performance is the aforementioned Garcia vocal reading, full of tasteful over enunciation and additional push.

Part of the reason for the fame and strength of performances hailing from this era is attributed to the fact that Garcia had just released possibly his finest record with the Garcia Band. Cats Under the Stars was being supported by this tour and its songs formed cornerstones for Garcia’s repertoire for years to come. “Cats Down Under the Stars” and “Gomorrah” are played back to back here, true to the recently released studio versions but performed with the same glory and attitude of preceding numbers. Throughout the intervening years these songs would develop into ‘big’ numbers, road tested and matured due to constant playing. Here they retain an infantile freshness and enthusiasm.
Garcia Band favorite “Mystery Train” follows and as expected chugs along blowing steam. The tempo shakes like a railroad bridge with Ozzie Ahlers now sitting in on percussive piano according to the liner notes. The band cruises over crossings, under bridges and through American rock and roll landscapes on Buchanan’s choogling drums.
The smoky ‘reggae’ burn of the Hunter/Kahn number “Love in the Afternoon” is played next and brings thing back down slightly, until Garcia whips a lasso around the band and drags them into a nice mid song peak. Ahlers piano playing fits in perfectly and nary is a lick misplaced in his guest appearance.

The traditional “I’ll Be with Thee” closes the concert on a soulful and secular note. Garcia Band’s vibe was always based in classic American values, traditional ideas, and soulful renditions of classic melodies. Donna Godchaux and Muldaur lend their gospel voices in close harmony on this hand raising, hip swaying closing number. This rendition is a fitting conclusion to a spiritual evening of song.

The band returns for an encore of  Peter Rowan’s “Midnight Moonlight” which is the victim of an unfortunate tape cut at its conclusion. Most of the song is available, which is fortunate because like the Full Moon that shined outside the venue, this version is luminescent and celebratory, sending the assembled crowd to walk hand in hand across the lunar lit night.

GarciaLive Volume 4 is a worthy release from a well represented time in the Garcia Band’s history. Similarly to the Grateful Dead’s 1972, 1977 and 1990 tours, this era is highlighted through official releases because of its historic value, beautiful playing and unique instrumental prowess. The available soundboard recording is sweet sounding, well-balanced and loaded with delicate and powerful playing, all coming from an era filled with jaw dropping guitar fireworks by Garcia and sympathetic backing from the players in the band.

Jerry Garcia Band 3-22-1978