Saturday, December 09, 2006

Matera's Festival of Magic 2

Felt Forum, NYC 12-7-71 Another Festival of Magic

Getting to my third Grateful Dead show was inspired
by the radio show broadcast in the New York area on
12-5-71. After getting properly primed that night,
my brain was pleasantly mixed, stirred and pureed by
many new songs: Tennessee Jed, Comes a Time, Sugaree,
and One More Saturday Night, just to name a few - and
some of the ones that I had become familiar with by
that time: an incredibly trippy Dark Star and
Not Fade Away>China Cat Freakout (as I've come to call it) >
Going Down the Road > Not Fade Away, just to name the
major mind blowers. To say the least, I could not believe
what had happened to me that night, so I *had* to make
my way to NYC for the last show at the Felt Forum on 12-7-71.

No ticket in hand, and long before the "I Need a Miracle" cry
became part of the Grateful Dead culture, I took the LIRR to
Manhattan, stepped out of Penn Station and made my way to
The Forum. At the Forum entrance, I looked up at the marquee
which read:

"The Grateful Dead
A Festival of Magic"

Remembering the radio show from 12/5, I smiled and thought to
myself: "Yow!" (It wasn't until after the show that I
realized that there really *was* a magic show being billed
for the following week)

After some interesting negotiations involving a couple trying to
get rid of two tickets, and two gals trying to get seats together,
for $20 for a $12.50 ticket (from what I remember) I ended up
with a *real* nice seat, about 20 rows back and at, um, well,
Dead Center.

To say the least, I was ecstatic to be there. Dead shows,
before the shows, were relatively layed back affairs in 1971.
I kicked back and took in the plain vanilla, arena-like quality
of this 2500 (more or less) seat venue. I shook my head as
some guy told his girlfriend that "snow" is the abstraction
of "rain". (Like - I know what he was *saying*, but *what* the
heck was he *saying*?

The New Riders came on and did their thing. I always liked the
first few songs of NRPS sets, but I get antsy with them pretty
quickly. No Jerry on pedal anymore, so I had to be patient.

After being "primed" for the 12-5-71 show, and being totally
blown away, I was determined to see if the Dead could do the
same thing to me without any auditory aids. Well, at least for
the first few songs.

The Dead took the stage. I remember that Jerry was wearing
a black turtle neck that he pushed up to just below his elbows.
Phil, I think, had a white tee shirt. I seem to remember Bob
wearing that tight, brownish-red , long-sleeved shirt that he
seemed to wear a lot, his hair in a pony tail, as was usual back
then.

The music started on unfamiliar notes and quieter than I was
used to. With Jerry smiling and taking command of the band, he
stepped up to the microphone and started singing: "I married me a
wife, she's been trouble all my life...", which caused me to jump
to my feet for the first of several times that night (after a while
I was too busy dancing to bother to sit down) to the strains of
"Cold Rain and Snow". It was a very quiet kinda country tune that
night, and very unlike the psychedelia that I had listened to two
nights before, but it quickly warmed my heart.

That same excitement was surpassed, further into the set, when the
Dead broke into Brokedown Palace. Again, I jumped to my feet!

It was around this time, I think, that I decided that it was time to
get "more in touch with the music", and I did. It was kinda fun doing
so with a security guard standing just below and to my right. As
the smoke hit the air, his eyes darted around my area. I did what I
could to hold back my laughter. I just *had* to look at him, though,
and when I did, he just stared right into my eyes. I feigned that
"I just happened to be looking at you" look, and then we both went
on with our business at hand. He had to scan the crowds for fiends
like me; I had to get back to getting blown away by Jerry and the
Boys.

One of my fondest memories of the first set, was of Tennessee Jed,
which I had just gotten to know from two nights before (I had no
recordings of 12-5-71 until several months later. Now I have the
original reels that were recorded from the radio that night, so after
35 years, I have gotten a lot of enjoyment out of that show :-).

Tennessee was a potent little party tune. Everyone seemed to be up
and dancing, and Jerry, that son of a gun, was doing all sorts of
pluckin' and plinkin' on his guitar, all the while smiling his wonderful
smile, bobbing his head, as he scanned the crowd. I was groovin'
and shakin' my body and my head, eyes closed and thoroughly in love.
I looked up and Jerry seemed to be looking me right in the eyes,
and beaming even more at my apparent ecstasy. I beamed right back
at him.

A rousing Casey Jones ended the set.

~
Intermission. Whew! I needed it.
~

The second set clocked-along. (Skipping ahead for a moment) The Dead
continued to blow me to atoms and scattered them to the four corners of
the Felt Forum with a powerful, powerful Truckin' - the song's end
strumming seemed to last forever, with all of us frozen in time.

It was this same power and timelessness that captivated me with the
closer:
"Not Fade Away". Each time Bob yelled, "Yoooowwww! Not Fade Away!" he
threw his head backwards, as he arched his back. That certainly drained
the last drop out of me, but the jam that set me up for the kill that
night was something that I have come to call "The Vortex Jam".

This song began nicely with some rockin' Pigpen tune. Pig was in
wonderful form, yelping and beltin' out the song, head way back and
microphone gripped in his hand and close to his face. As the jam
progressed, I watched as a smiling Jerry ran back and forth to his
amps and back, tweaking and turning knobs, and doing some *real*
strange stuff on slide.

I must say, that I went into that show, thinking, "They aren't going
to get *me* tonight!" As you guys now know, they got me *all* night,
so who the heck was I kiddin'? As I listened to Jerry doing the
strange slide thing, I was thinking the same thing: "You ain't gonna
get me!".

Most of us, think that somehow we mind-meld with The Grateful Dead
when we see them. Sometimes, I think that Jerry knew what I was
thinking, and he figured: "We're gonna get him - but good!"

To set the scene:

The band was working like a machine. Jerry and Bob were close to the
front of the stage, close to each other and facing each other, faces
wrenched with determination as they broke into that ferocious and
potent "Viola Lee Blues"-like end jam, with guitars strumming at a
fierce rate, and Phil clockin' right along.

Quickly and without warning, Jerry and Bob stepped dramatically
towards each other, hands moving further down on their guitar necks,
striking the strings even faster and harder,

BUT!

before we could steady ourselves, Wham! They took another step
closer to each other, hands down close to the bottom of the necks, and
brought the jam to an even more intense level,

WHEN SUDDENLY!

At that moment of intensity, all hell broke loose. The music
seemed to spin the auditorium around in an uncontrollable *vortex*,
taking all of us with it.

If you can imagine playing that end part of Viola on your old record
player, and then pulling the plug out at the most intense moment - that
swirling, slurring, slowing wail of sound, is what the Dead did that
night. It leaves me spinning just to remember it. I couldn't *believe*
what had just *happened*! I just kept thinking "hummina, hummina,
hummina".

I was *gone*...

The music took a quiet turn. Jerry and Bob gently strumming and Bill
looking cool, his hi-hat gently tapping and Pig moving slowly up to the
microphone, as he started back into the song.

The mind blower to end the show, was that brand new, freaky rocker,
"One More Saturday Night". Two nights before, at the bridge, the song
ripped my brains like jet engines screamimg at 30 feet away. The damage
was much worse this night. At 20 rows away, my entire body was dragged
screaming along with those engines. It was *wonderful*.

And *that's* the way it was: The Grateful Dead at the Felt Forum,
NYC on 12-7-71. I was drained, and kept thinking: "This *was* a
Festival of Magic". When I got outside and looked once again at the
marquee, I had to smile at my mistake, but to this day, I still label my
dubs of 12-5-71, "A Festival of Magic" - the same with 12-7-71.

Thank *you*, Grateful Dead, for a real good time!


Phil Matera


------------------------------
--------------


"Making a record is like building a ship in a bottle.
Playing a concert is like being in a rowboat on
the ocean."
- Jerry Garcia

Phil Matera on the Chrome Anniversary of 12/5/71

Hey! It's the 35th Anniversary of Felt Forum 12/5/71!

Phil

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thirty-five years ago, the Grateful Dead gave one of the most searing
performances of all time. The December 5 1971 show at the Felt Forum
in NewYork City was broadcast to thousands of Heads in the New York
Metropolitan area. I was one of the fortunate ones who tuned in that
night, and was treated to the finest in Grateful Dead rock, R&B, country
and their multi-dimensional time/space transmorgifications. The Dead
were known to put the audience through changes, and the victim would
leave the concert hall changed. The Felt Forum 12/5/71 was one of those
shows.

I first caught the boys at the Fillmore on 4/25/71. The show was a
mind altering experience, and I found myself a permanent seat on The
Bus. I knew American Beauty and Workingman’s Dead, and fell in
love with both. From Farmer’s Market in Bethpage, Long Island, I
picked up Sunflower Record’s “Vintage Dead”, which got me into “I
Know You Rider” and a bunch of other classics.

After the Fillmore show, I developed an unquenchable appetite for
Grateful Dead music. At the local Korvettes (later to be called Time
Square Store, then K-Mart, now defunct) I picked up most of my
Grateful Dead albums. The Grateful Dead (1st album), Live/Dead,
AOXOMOXOA, Anthem of the Sun. At Farmer’s Market I stumbled upon
Historic Dead (which has an incredible “Same Thing”, btw). I spent many
hours listening to every note, and studying covers for anything cool
that they might reveal. At the local head shop on Hempstead
Turnpike in Levittown, I picked up my first bootleg Dead album. This
album contained concert versions of China Cat/Rider and Morning
Dew among other things. I didn’t find out until years later, that these
cuts came from the same Fillmore East run that got me hyped in the
first place. China Cat played an important role on 12/5/71.

8/26/71 Gaelic Park (my second show) was more of a hang-out and
have-fun kind of a show for me. I was busy interviewing freaks with
my tape recorder (one of them proclaimed himself to be “The Lizard
King”), but I did open the mind portal to a celestail Truckin’ > Other
One, and enjoyed a dose of Dead that night.

Before the Felt Forum run, Skull and Roses came out. I got to know
Bertha, Playing in the Band, Big Boss Man, Me and My Uncle, and
Not Fade Away/Going Down the Road. (Unbeknownst to me, I
actually heard some of these “new” songs at my first two shows, but
did not remember them). All of the albums combined, primed the
pump, and I was ready for the show of my life – one filled with the
familiar but changed, and the new and exotic. Over several hours, I
was transported across a vast and incredible landscape, and The
Grateful Dead led the way.

I told my family that I needed the radio to myself for the night. I
also needed some added inducements and took care of that outside my
house, after the New Riders’ set.

[To add some extra pizzazz to my recollection, I will also add some
additional thoughts, but try to remain true to the original experience]

The show opens with a heartwarming introduction by Bill Graham.
“The youngest old-timer I ever met: Pigpen on organ. If Rock and
Roll is ever to have a godfather, this one will be it: Jerry Garcia on
lead guitar. Ladies and Gentlemen: The Grateful Dead – yours and
mine”.

And with that, The Festival of Magic (I’ll explain that on 12/7 :-)
began.

The show opened with Bertha. Instead of the rock hard chords from
Skull, Jerry and Bob’s guitars seemed to hang in mid-air, gently
working against each other. The subtle strumming lulled me in new
ways. We were treated to a potent Beat It On Down the Line, next,
and a cool Big Boss Man. The Dead tuned up with “Song of Spring”,
which danced wonderfully in my brain. The brand new and poignant
tale: Brown Eyed Women was up next, followed by the only playing
of Muddy Water. A wonderful Jack Straw with strong Jerry lines, and
pretty transitions, followed. The fun and powerful Mr. Charlie was
preceded with Weir saying: “get those tape machines running, because
here it comes”. In my excitement it sounded more like “Here it
Comes!!!”, and actually felt like that when Billy slams his drums to
open the tune.

Tennessee Jed kept the pace going with a mind-lifting instrumental
break, followed by a feisty El Paso, and a great bar-room version of
Deal.

The fissures in my brain really began to appear on the next tune. Sure,
I knew Playing in the Band, but when the music began to break-apart
into a surprise jam, I was off into a new musical land – not knowing
where, and not knowing when I’d be back.

Next Time You See Me is a fun Pig tune, but the next one took me
down a poignant notch. That new song was Comes A Time. It’s slow
and solemn, and captivating. In that sleepy lull, I felt like Jerry was
talking to me: “Got an empty cup, only love can fill. Only love can,
Phil”. To finish us off for the 1st set, Jerry gave us “something to
ease the pain”. Not Box of Rain as we thought it would be, but a rousing
Casey Jones, followed by that 50's-esque jagged-edge rocker, One More
Saturday Night which rips the mind open with the thrust of jet-engines
pushing Mach-10. Listening back on that Casey Jones over the years, I
realized that the Band miked the clapping from the audience, mixed it
with the thwaka-thwaka of the guitars, and fired it back at us. To this
day, I keep thinking “The Psychedlic Express...“

The second set opens with Truckin’, which stunned by drilling holes
into my psyche at its start, and tossed me into its maelstrom of violent
guitar work. Whew! The show progresses nicely through a Ramble
On Rose, It Hurts Me Too and Sugaree. Sugar Magnolia is another
stunner.

Then The Magic really begins. At this point in time, I knew and loved
Dark Star, but was led to believe that I would never hear one. I shared
the crowd’s awe and excitement with the first few notes of Dark Star,
and then we were taken on another journey. The entire Dark Star is
extraordinary, but the first 10 minutes has got to be the most
picturesque Grateful Dead ever performed. I can “see” birds flying,
the Dark Star twinkling, and for a very few seconds, the entire
landscape changes, and suddenly I am alone, on the prarie. It’s
desolate and cold, and a cactus and some patches of grass are all I see,
when whoosh, I am taken to another exotic, but ever-changing, land.
I’m caught in a tearing, screaming maelstrom, and the tension builds.
With a roll of the drums, WHAM – I get caught up with some West
Texas cowboys, and the drama of Me and My Uncle. Two minutes
later, we CRASH back from cowboys, dust and horses and into the
World of Dark Star. Dark Star ebbs and flows, and builds into a new
storm of monster movie music (I keep thinking) and my mind gets
pulled in many directions. Dark Star melts into different musical
dimensions. At one point, Jerry breaks into a Hendrix style break.
Moments later, the guitars ring with the strains of Wharf Rat, but ease
away from Rat and into some gently buzzing guitars, that hang in the
air for a moment, before building into a rousing Sittin’ On Top of the
World. Sittin’ has a nice habit of switching from dissonnant to
consonnant throughout. Jerry’s voice follows suit. This ends the
Dark Star jam.

An odd, but interesting Bobby McGee follows, along with Big
Railroad, a new Mexicali and You Win Again, when WHAM! We are
off again with the blamming drums of Not Fade Away.

Not Fade Away breaks off into some freaky jamming, which
culminates into an even freakier China Cat fugue, with Jerry and Weir
mixing the theme, in weird and fantastic ways, putting us through
“those changes”. The Going Down the Road is energizing and
sublime, plugs the China Cat theme a couple of more times before
easing into a slowed-down Going Down the Road, defining finer and
subtler shades of feeling with some Benny Goodman like guitar, and
then closing with a rousing Not Fade Away reprise – Weir screaming
out “Not Fade Away”, with Pig and Phil backing him up

I was worn out, dragged down, blown to pieces, and happy. Two
nights later, I would repeat the process.

A couple of months later, I met this guy Don, through some friends.
Don had recorded 12/5/71 onto some reels for a Dead Head friend of
his. I recorded that show onto cassette and have been loving it over
these thirty plus years. At some point, Don gave me the reels. A few
years ago, I had Dr. Michelson transcribe the shows onto CD. If you
have an FM version of this show, most likely you got it from me. It's
the finest copy around. One day, I promise I'll upload it to onto
The Wheel. In addition, in 1972, someone gave me a photo from the
show. I use that in my CD inserts, which I will also upload sometime
soon.

Thank you, Jerry!

Phil Matera



"Making a record is like building a ship in a bottle.
Playing a concert is like being in a rowboat on
the ocean."

Jerry Garcia


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Matera 9/27/72 Opus

Once again, here's a re-post of my memories of one of
my very favorite Dead shows, and in effect, a review of Dick's Picks 11.

Phil Matera

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`
Thirty-four years ago today 9/27/72 was The Stanley Theatre show in Jersey City, New Jersey.
What can I say about a show that has Playin’ in the Band, Bird Song,China Cat/Rider and a Morning Dew? Well for one thing, if you knowthat those were only the *first* set songs, then I bet you might be able to understand how, to this day, I still laugh out loud when I
think of that show. To think that the show *opened* with Morning Dew...well are you getting chills? I know I do!

These days I can relive that amazement. Thanks to Mr. Latvala (bless you, buddy!), I have Dick's Picks 11 (my favorite number - how *do*they know!) Stanley Theatre September 27, 1972. I still think that there is something to that 2772 *reflection*.

But first, the story. (and for those of you who just want the facts: check out the 9/27/72 set list below) I often thought back to The Stanley Theatre and remembered it as just
about the most amazing Dead show I had ever caught and how lucky I was to get to go.

I was short on cash, but my friend Gail talked me into taking her to Jersey City, so that she could hitch to Delaware from there to meet up with a Dead Head boyfriend, Ed, that she had met a few months before. I took her to Jersey City and she gave me some money for tickets in
return. I got money from some friends so that I could get them tickets while I was there. I got the tickets and on the night of the show we found that they were located in the next to last row - *but* we were in!

The year before, I saw the Dead three times. After my first show I grabbed a bunch of friends, (now known as Dead Heads) for theGaelic Park show in the Bronx. On March 28, ’72 we tried our damnedest to get into the Academy of Music. Gail ran into Phil, Pig and Weir on the streets of Manhattan, who were surrounded by a bunch of other Dead Heads. The entourage made its way through the outsidestage door. I can almost never forgive Gail for this), but she
said she was too stunned to go in and she thought I’d worry about her,if I couldn’t find her. I guess she was right. But damn! She could have gone in with Weir, Phil and Pig! Oh, well. Me and a bunch of other Dead Freaks caught the entire show from that same stage door. And it was *great*!

In July, we were off to Dillon Stadium for another wacked out show. That’s the one where the Allman Brothers showed up and *everyone* was on stage at one time wailing away. Most of this bunch of friends got together for The Stanley. There was
Dennis, Lori and Gail. I think it was Andrea’s first show. It was definitely Ira’s first show, too, and I was sitting next to him. That
was the start of his demise. I had this Sucrets box (a popular throat lozenge in the 60’s and 70’s). It was a metal box, with a snap lid. It was the *perfect* size for holding about a dozen doobs. And it did. Ira never indulged before, but tonight he was fated. I explained to Ira: "Man! If they do Dark Star or something, you *have* to be ready!". So we waited...but not for long. We were yapping and playing around. Gail and Lori were on my left. Ira to my right. Dennis and Andrea had balcony seats.

The stage was dark when all we heard was this resounding WHAM!
Then a long enough silence for me to laugh and say: "Is this a Grand Funk spoof?" and then it happened! The lights came on, there was the band: Phil, Bobby, Bill and with Keith on stage right. And there was Jerry,standing there, with guitar in hand, and smiling his wonderful smile at the rest of the band and then they did it: they eased into a chillingly beautiful Morning Dew. I remember looking at The Boys and at Phil in particular. ,The passion that emanated from the stage brought tears to my eyes. As I looked to Lori and Gail, I saw that I wasn’t alone. Gail looked to me and just cried. Now that I can listen to that Morning Dew again, I can understand why I was so captivated by Phil just then. His playing is *wonderful*. The music gently swirls and dances creating images within images, themes within themes, emotions within emotions. Once again, listening to the show, it brings tears to my eyes. Well, I couldn’t wait for Dark Star (that would come later!). I started giving out joints to everyone like a father giving out cigars to celebrate a new birth. I was aglow and I wanted everyone else to glow along with me. I handed doobies to Heads behind me, and of course, I made sure that poor Ira was well supplied. What a way to start a show! The stage was set, and The Boys were on fire! The playing was classic Grateful Dead, but in overdrive!

They were working their equipment like I never heard before or since. That beautiful swirling color of sound that usually comes into being in a Playin’ or Dark Star was present on the likes of Beat It On Down the Line! - the second song of the night. I guess I count myself as one of the lucky Dead Heads. At my first and sixth show (counting my own personal outdoor show at the Academy) I was treated to that classic up-tempo version of Friend of the Devil. Jerry sings Devil warmly. Bobby’s rhythms sound like they were picked right off of America Beauty, and he essentially has the "lead" on this one. Phil’s country bass lines clocks things right along. Keith has a lot of great work on these tracks, too, but once again, I think his best stuff is too low in the mix.

But on with the show. Tennesse Jed has that honky tonk feel. Bird Song lilts and swirls. Jerry plays a note and takes me away with it. The quick little numbers like Big River and Mexicali Blues are terrifac. We were treated to an El Paso, with Weir and Phil forming
a rhythmic nucleus, and Jerry, Billy and Keith swirling around that nucleus, El Paso sounded (and still sounds) like a musical atom. (or
maybe ya just had to be there) There was a sweet first set Brokedown Palace. China Cat/Rider were right there with most of the
other music of the evening. Easy, pretty and intertwining. Then the Dead pulled out the stops on a real jazzy Playing in the Band to
finish the set.

As I mentioned, gang, that was just the *first* set! The Second Set opened with a psychedelic blooming of music. To this
day, I can still imagine giant musical flowers. I was in love. That song, that I did not know the name for, I would finally hear on some bootleg somewhere. It’s then that I found out it was "He’s Gone". Deal and Ramble On Rose transported me to a speak easy on the other side of the galaxy, complete with slowly changing blue, red, and white spotlights shining down on Jerry as he sang. The Greatet Story Ever Told (I knew it from "Ace") was dissonant and freaky.

Then a short break.

The band stood on stage. There were green spot lights covering all of them. Cover is a good word for it, too. They all appeared to be
covered, in what I can only describe as a "Green Glowing Gloom". They stood there long enough for us to be fascinated by The Grateful Dead looking like green, flourescent ghosts. Then the first notes of Dark Star, and then "we all smoked and were happy". The Dark Star is pretty and jazzy itself but what follows it, was even more magical, imho. Quiety, in the far corner of stage right, Phil trickled in with the intro to Cumberland Blues, his bass line then zooooms to center stage, some jamming ensues and *whoosh* Cumberland is off and running. It’s a rhythmic masterpiece. I’m searching the music right now for this part where the band sounds like a tiny music box: a music box that plays Cumberland Blues. After Cumberland, another rare treat for the night: Attics of My Life!
(And apparently the last one played until 1989) Maybe the Dead wanted to make sure that us back rowers could hear, so
they decided to play a lot of jams and pretty tunes. When they played Promised Land, and later Around and Around as an encore, the clappingto the music was so *loud*, that I could barely make out the music.

For an unusual end, to an unusual Dead show, instead of Not Fade -> Going Down the Road that was so common around that time,
for the second to last song, the Dead played a real nice Uncle John’s Band, which true to the rest of the night, had a trippy
first jam (it sounded like the guitars were coming at us in *waves*) and (what later became common for UJB) a spacey end jam. The second set closed with, of all things, Casey Jones. The encore being that Around and Around that I couldn’t hear. (But it *looked* exciting!) I left The Stanley Theatre laughing and absolutely *convinced* that The Grateful Dead could not *possibly* be from this planet! I hope you guys enjoyed my synopsis of the show. The set list is below.

Later!
Phil
~~~~~~~~~~~~
September 27, 1972
The Stanley Theatre, Jersey City, New Jersey
1st Set
Morning Dew! (winding, intertwining, tearful)
Beat It On Down the Line
Friend of the Devil!
Black Throated Wind! (this was super, too!)
Tennessee Jed
Mexicali Blues (hoppin’!)
Bird Song (gorgeous!)
Big River (a cooker)
Brokedown Palace (what more can I say :-)
El Paso (atomic!)
China Cat/Rider (dreamy, picturesque)
Playing in the Band (Jazzy!)
2nd Set
He’s Gone (It’s dem psychedelic flowers, Momma!)
Me and My Uncle (really clocking on tape)
Deal (sipping gin and tonics at a galactic speak-easy)
Greatest Story Ever Told (fun and funny)
Ramble On Rose (back at the night club with Mr. Jerry Garcia)
Dark Star (jazzy and pretty) ->
Cumberland Blues (a rhythmic masterpiece)
Attic of My Life (whoa!)
Promised Land
Uncle John’s Band (trippy, spacey, pretty)
Casey Jones (quite an understatement to end an incredible show,
but great none-the-less)
Encore:
Around and Around (who could hear *anything* at that point???)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

GD reflection redux 4.25.71


Another one on a 1st GD Show from Phil Matera

(thanks to Phil)


Grateful Dead at The Fillmore East April 25th 1971
--------------------------------------------------------------------

Yep! That was my first show. And a great one, too!

All I knew of the Dead was Workingman's Dead, American Beauty and a "bootleg" of sorts called Vintage Dead, that contained the only version of "I Know You Rider" that I had ever heard.

I also knew Good Lovin' from the Rascals and Morning Dew from Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart (of all people!).

After kinda *getting it*, with Box of Rain and Ripple, I was truly drawn like a moth before a flame, and to something that I felt was going to be great, but I never knew how great it could be, or was going to be for the next 35 years! And I know now, that IT's with me forever!


A little history first:


First, like any myth, there were rumours preceding the event. Rumors of shows that started in the early evening and didn't end till early morning.

10 AM one morning, a Dead Freak (that's what Dead Heads were called back then, Bunkies :) came into Bio class, turned to me with a big smile and said: "I just got back from seeing the Dead at the Fillmore.". Then he proceeded to tell me about the Dead and The Scene. That's when I learned about Dead Freaks, too.

I picked up American Beauty, just because I saw some other freak perusing it at school. I thought, "He looks hip. I'll pick it up.". Before I picked up the album, I ran down the list of songs. I made fun of every title I could. I was tired of the same old BS in recorded and live music, so when I saw titles like: "Candyman", I thought "Crap. Another drug song", "Ripple": "Great...another song about that crappy wine."

But then, I got the album home, and that was The Beginning!

I fell in love with Ripple instantly. I could listen to those words:

"If I knew the way
I would take you home"

over and over again.


And I did. I wore out about three copies. Thank God for CDs! :)

But for "Box of Rain", I sat straight up in my bed while listening to it one night, and I thought "My God! That's what he's singing about!" And as in the song, I felt as if the windows and the doors to the Universe opened up and just for me!

I knew then, that I had to see this band. "This band has got heart!"


So off to the Fillmore I went, one more time, but with a helluva lot more enthusiasm then I had in some time. But I had an unusual experience when I tried to pick up tickets at the Box Office. All nights for the Dead were sold out!

So, many years prior to the decree: "If you don't have a ticket, stay home", I went out to get scalped to get into my first Dead show! I'm glad I did!

So the night of April 25, 1971, this soon-to-be-Dead-Head went down to the Fillmore East, on a New York evening, to join the throngs of other folks, yelling out that famous yell: "Anyone got a ticket?!". This was a new experience for me, too. Not that getting tix at the door was
different. It's just that so many people were out looking!


As my good luck would have it, I chanced upon some semi-seamy characters in a car who wanted to rake me over the coals for the ticket. Yep, they got me for a whopping $2 over the cost of the ticket. If memory serves me right, I think that floor seats in The Fillmore ran ya about $5.50. I'm pretty sure that one of the most fantastic experiences of my life cost me $7.50!


Into the Fillmore I ran, and I sat down next to a well heeled Dead Freak, who also got scalped from the same characters, and who gave me some background on The Grateful Dead. That was the first time I heard about Dark Star. Just the image of that name was enough to captivate my
imagination. Some folks in back of us, told us that the tickets that we had were stolen off of someone's desk at school. (Yeck!) But there really was nothing we could do... (thank, God! :)


First, the New Riders came out, with Jer on pedal steel. I knew nothing of Jerry Garcia or anyone else in the Dead, for that matter, except for what I read off of the back of the album covers I had, and from the Fillmore East playbill that I got as I walked in. I still have the page about the Dead, BTW!) So all I really remember of Jerry with the NRPS is his furry head bent over the pedal steel.




I had seen a lot of bands in the two years or so that I really caught shows. I loved the Festival of Peace, with Janis Joplin, Johnny Winter, Steppenwolf and Creedence Clearwater Revival, among about 20 other acts. But I never saw a singular band up till that time, that really did
anything for me.

I sat in my seat waiting for the band to take the stage. I thought to myself, "How is this band going to be any different than any other band I've seen live?"

The resounding answer:

TRUCKIN'!!!

comin' at us like a comet!


The place went absolutely wild. Freaks (mostly guy freaks, BTW, women were a rare commodity at a Dead Concert in the early days. But it got better. :) were dancing freaky dances all around me. And the band was working like a well oiled machine. From that first song, on till the end of the show, they snapped together like nothing I'd ever heard or seen! (I know, I know. I'm preaching to the choir right now. :)

Friend of the Devil was early on the set list, I think. The only thing that Jerry said all night was: "This song is usually done acoustic". I remembered thinking: "Am I supposed to use my imagination on this one?". Well, FOTD just clocked. I think at that point, I realized I was smilingfrom the start of the show. From there on in, I was smiling or wide eyed in amazement.

A lot of the recollection is fuzzy, especially from the first set. I remember I Know You Rider, so I guess China Cat was first. They closed the first set with Casey Jones. The place was in a roar till the end of the set!

Well, I bopped around the lobby during intermission, sharing all sorts of good stuff with a lot of good folks, who were absolutely *crammed* in the bathrooms! It was always a fun scene! :)

Second Set: I remember Good Lovin', with Pig strutting his stuff, and then The Jam! It was fantastic! The Boys were cookin' it up and then, as the Disco Ball started spinning points of light around the darkened Fillmore Auditoreum, Jerry and Weir started with their trademark guitar
twinkling, with Phil adding some wonderful tones to make the image complete. My new found friend turned to me and exclaimed: "They're going into Dark Star!" Chills went through me as they are right now as I am writing this! And there I was, completely engulfed in my first
out-of-body-jam, and off into the Furthur :) reaches of Space!

Nope. No Dark Star, but a real nice taste for me, and then back into Good Lovin'!

Whew!

Well, *I* was primed, and as only the Dead know how to do. Then during Morning Dew, I Got It! Morning Dew was gorgeous. Jerry was immersed in the song. With eyes closed, and facing toward the back of the stage, with an on-rush of emotion, Jerry swung himself around, and waves of grace, power and beauty, swept across the Fillmore. It was a moment that filled my heart forever! (I could swear that Good Lovin' preceded Moring Dew, but set lists say
otherwise)

The show went on with an NFA->GDTR, but I think I was still getting over that Morning Dew. The encore was Uncle John's Band.

And that's the way it was, 35 years ago today!

And 35 years later, I *still* don't have a decent copy of that show! But I see that things are looking up. The Good Lovin' I experienced is now on "Ladies and Gentlemen, The Grateful Dead", as are some other selections from 4/25/71. I have a sneaking suspicion that 4/25/71 is
finally making the rounds.


As kind of a postscript, it really bugged me back then that I got into the Dead so late! :) Who knew??? But, I still feel no differently today, then I did back then, when I thought: "Damn! I missed so many shows!!!" :) :) :)


So, that's it for me for now! So please, everyone, turn on your copies of Fillmore East April 1971 Dead, in memory of a truly wonderful week! :)

Later, Alligators!!!

Phil Matera

Reflections on the Grateful Dead (8/6/74)


Deepest Gratitude to Phil Matera for his brief but great notes on the Grateful Dead's performance of 8/6/74

(Following courtesy of Phil Matera)

Thinking back on that torrential nightmare - I remember
Phil and Bobby, I think, saying that if they played, that
the speakers would melt in a minute. Of course,
some of those in the crowd were not so understanding.
One young jerk yelled out "Rain or Shine! Rain or Shine!"
When someone is that thoughtless, I think that murder
should be legal.
That same night, Jerry did play a few *wonderful* notes.
They rang out clear and beautiful. I heard someone say
"That can't be Jerry Garcia!". Ah, the uninitiated.
When 8/6/74 did come around, you could tell when the
newbies *got it*. When the first set ended, after 1 1/2 hours
of playing, with a dynamite Eyes of the World, and closing
with 45 minutes of Playing on the Band > Scarlet Begonias,
when they heard "We'll back in a little while to play some more"
they went nuts - as in "I can't believe they're coming back after *that*!
One of my favorite musical moments, is when The Boys got inti
that great synchopated funk jam during "Playing". As I was bopping
to the music, I looked over the crowd, and saw that virtually everyone
was bopping, and in synchopation. It was like watching several
thousand pistons moving up and down, or watching the ocean
wildly ripple when a storm is brewing.
It was also great to come home with a recording -- crowd noise, and
a bit thin in the sound, but one of my favorite tapes none-the-less.
As we were inching out of Roosevelt Stadium in our cars, I was listening
to the show on my tape deck with those gigundo headphones that everyone
used back then, when someone motioned to me and then yelled "What are
you listening to". He smiled broadly and said "Cool!" when I yelled back
"Tonight's show!".
How's *that* for some recollectin'?!
Phil Matera