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This Week In Grateful Dead History #18 (Week of 5/27)

Welcome to the weekly newsletter that brings you the most interesting and significant facts from Grateful Dead History, along with reviews of the music for the week ahead! The idea is to give all you Heads a "Heads up" on the interesting and cool stuff the Grateful Dead were up to on this week in history! So tell me what you think!

This week we have some really excellent music coming at you! Here's the highlights for Issue 18, for the week of May 27th, 2024:

  • Remembering Vince Welnick (6/2/2006)

  • First performances of "Promised Land", "Walkin' Blues" (Boz Scaggs sings, not Bobby), "Green Green Grass of Home"

  • Only performance of "A Mind To Give Up Living" (Boz Scaggs sings) and the only time the Gyoto Monks chanted on stage

And a bunch of excellent Grateful Dead music, so check it out!


May 27th

  • 5/27/89 Oakland Coliseum Arena, Oakland, CA - This was a benefit concert for AIDS, and the Dead were more than happy to contribute as usual. The band donated millions of dollars to charities and fund raising events over the years. If it was a cause they believed in, they would not hesitate to play. It's just the way they were. This performance includes a guest appearance by Clarence Clemens on saxophone which adds a nice touch. Highlights include "Touch Of Grey > Greatest Story", "Iko Iko", "Bird Song", "Promised Land", "Fire On The Mountain", "Trucking > Drums > Take You Home > Other One > Wharf Rat > Lovelight" and the "Brokedown Palace" encore which is super sweet with Clarence Clemens on sax!

  • 5/27/93 Cal Expo, Sacramento, CA - The only other show they played on this day in history. This is an outstanding show! I know there is a group of people who categorically refuse to listen to 93-95 shows, and I get that there is so much else to listen to, but get outside of your comfort zone and give this one a chance! There's a reason it was officially released on Road Trips Volume 2 Number 4 (along with the previous night 5/26/93 which is also excellent and very worthy of your precious time). They burst out of the gate with an extra funky "Shakedown Street" that puts everyone in a party mood. After that, the thing that you have to remember is that this was 1993, and the set list had shifted a lot by this time. So the the rest of the first set is a highlight because they're back to back "rare" (I'd say just "classic") songs that just weren't in rotation much any more in favor of the newer material. But on top of that, the band was having fun and playing perfectly. "High Time" is especially beautiful and emotional. So the rest of the set is song after song of classic Dead, played perfectly, with extra emotion and enthusiasm. For anyone going to shows at this time (myself included) it's exactly what you hoped to get on any night. The second set kicks off with an unusual "Picasso Moon > Fire" pairing. "Picasso Moon" is one of my least favorite songs but this version is pretty killer. It includes a great jam at the end before they roll perfectly into an incredible "Fire". This "Fire" is as good as it gets and is up there with the best ones! There's a long jam in there that you'll love. They then roll right into "Wave To The Wind" which is good, but looking at the set list as a whole it's a pause before the real highlight: an extremely rare second set "Cassidy" - the 4th of only 4 times they ever played the song in the second set. This version I'd argue to Howard Weiner should be a Jam Anthem version, because the jams are extra long and the vocals are so perfect. But also because of what comes next: a sweet "Uncle John's Band" diversion! The place goes absolutely bonkers as soon as Jerry hits the first "UJB" melody. They lead the song into a really nice long jam section before the final verse, after which they transition to a kind of free-form jam. Reading other reviews, it seems most people recall thinking "here comes Drums and Space" as they jam out the end of "UJB". But no! Jerry has other plans, as he teases the "Cassidy" theme a couple of times, ultimately building it up and convincing Bobby to follow along, and so they go back into "Cassidy" to finish with the last verse of the song. Incredible stuff that proved the Dead still had it! A powerful "The Other One" emerges from "Space", followed by a perfect "Wharf Rat" and ending with an amped up "Sugar Magnolia". Instead of a mellow out song, they give the audience a rockin' "Gloria" to end this incredible show.


May 28th

  • 5/28/77 Hartford Civic Center, Hartford, CT - Officially released on To Terrapin: Hartford '77. This entire show is outstanding. Opening with an incredibly charged "Bertha > Good Lovin' > Sugaree". "Sugaree" is a Jam Anthem version, and clocks in at more than 20 minutes! The rest of the set is played with perfection and there isn't a bad moment or note the entire time. The second set kicks off with a raging "Samson" and a high energy "Tennessee Jed". "Estimated" is one of my all-time favorite versions. "Playing" leads to a nice spacy jam, which transitions perfectly into "Terrapin". From there, the band is so locked in that the remainder of the set is played to perfection.

  • 5/28/82 Moscone Convention Center, San Francisco, CA - This was a Vietnam Veterans benefit show, so it's shorter than the average Dead show but there's some really nice moments packed in there. The first set is all well played but standard renditions. The "Drums" segment out of "Truckin'" includes a guest appearance from Flora Purim and is really nice. The highlight is the second set. We get the first "Walkin' Blues" and the only "A Mind To Give Up Livin'", both with Boz Scaggs on vocals and guitar, and John Cipollina on guitar. Boz Scaggs sings on "Walkin' Blues", and you can see where Bobby gets his inspiration from when he decides to take up the song in 1985. They both stick around for the rest of this blues set which includes hard rocking versions of "Lovelight" and "Johnny B. Goode".


May 29th

  • 5/29/71 Winterland Arena, San Francisco, CA - Most of this show is available in one format or another - a rough but listenable audience recording or a very nice crisp soundboard. We get the first "Promised Land" which is well played but standard. It's only available on the audience tape. The highlight of the show is definitely the "Truckin' > Drums > Other One > Wharf Rat" segment. "Truckin'" is driven by Phil who lays down a solid foundation for Jerry's inspired playing. "The Other One" is nicely jammed and takes a trip to outer space. That transitions nicely into a sweet "Wharf Rat". After a sweet but mellow "Sing Me Back Home", they launch into a high energy "Cumberland Blues" and "Sugar Magnolia". "Deal" is gritty and mellow, just the way I like it. "NFA > GDTRFB > NFA" is a powerful ending to another outstanding Winterland show.

  • 5/29/80 Des Moines Civic Center, Des Moines, IA - This entire show is outstanding. It kicks off with a high energy "Alabama Getaway > Promised Land". They settle it down with a stunning version of "They Love Each Other", which simply sparkles. After some Bobby country tunes we get a beautiful "Candyman". "Minglewood" is outstanding and gets the joint rockin'. "Let It Grow > Deal" is another high energy pair of songs to blow out the first set. A super funky and fun "Stranger" opens set 2. A strong "Estimated" gives way to an outstanding rendition of "Eyes". There's a strong "Other One" tease afterwards but it doesn't materialize and instead floats along until they transition into "Drums > Space". A beautiful and soulful "Comes A Time" emerges out of a nice "Sailor > Saint". They rock out the rest of the set with "Around & Around" and "Johnny B. Goode" - a pair of Chuck Berry tunes and then after a short break, encore with a bopping "US Blues".

  • 5/29/92 Sam Boyd Silver Bowl, Las Vegas, NV - Since Dead and Company are doing the Sphere residence, I thought I'd add this run of shows from Sam Boyd Silver Bowl as a kind of historical contextual "compare and contrast" to what's going on today. For starters I'll say that the Sphere looks like an absolutely amazing venue and I hope to see a show there some day. Just need to save the money first! This run of shows I feel represent some outstanding psychedelic desert Grateful Dead. At 42,000 General admission seats Sam Boyd Silver bowl was on the "smaller" side compared to some of the big stadiums they were playing at the time. In contrast, the Sphere is half that at roughly 20,000 capacity. The stadium is located to the east of the Las Vegas Strip and is about a 30 minute drive. It is adjacent to the wilderness area of the Valley of Fire State park and Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, etc.. I've heard stories about some truly interesting Shakedown Streets, probably fueled by people wanting to show up early enough to get prime spots in the venue. Well, add in all the typical Las Vegas debauchery and you have a recipe for some interesting vending and some fantastic people watching experiences! Highlights from this show include a strong "Half Step" opener, "Walkin' Blues", "They Love Each Other", "Memphis Blues". Second Set highlights include a smoking "China Cat > I Know You Rider", a beautiful sequence of "Crazy Fingers > Playing".

Sam Boyd Silver Bowl photo by Craig Butz - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,


May 30th

  • 5/30/71 Winterland Arena, San Francisco, CA - A classic 1971 sounding show, with some really nice moments including "The Rub", "Morning Dew" and "Good Lovin'" in the first set. The second set highlights include "China Cat > I Know You Rider" and "Truckin' > Lovelight".

  • 5/30/80 Milwaukee Auditorium, Milwaukee, WI - An outstanding show. Like the night before there aren't any bad moments. Highlights are "Jack Straw > Franklin's Tower", "Music Never Stopped" in the first set. Second set highlights include "Scarlet > Fire > Playing" along with "Good Lovin'" and "Alabama Getaway" encore.

  • 5/30/92 Sam Boyd Silver Bowl, Las Vegas, NV - Night 2 of 3 at Sam Boyd Silver Bowl. Another very good show. Highlights include the rare second set "Eyes" opener along with the only time they ever played "Truckin' > Smokestack > Terrapin". Another nice treat is the first "Spanish Jam" in 5 years.


May 31st

  • 5/31/69 McArthur Court, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR - An excellent primal Dead performance from a time period when the band was honing their sound and adding some country tunes into the psychedelic stew. Highlights include a raw "Hard To Handle", a powerful "Cold Rain And Snow", and the first performance of Bobby's country tune "Green Green Grass of Home" featuring Jerry on pedal steel guitar. Then we get a familiar and trippy "Other One" suite which morphs into a nice "Sitting On Top of the World". "Dark Star" here is a fabulous melodic 24 minute exploration of various themes that eventually takes us into outer space and back into "Doing That Rag". There's only a fragment of "Cosmic Charlie" before the tape unfortunately runs out.

  • 5/31/80 Metropolitan Sports Center, Bloomington, MN - A lively performance featuring that classic "1980" sound the band had developed and perfected. They are playing with extra inspiration on this one, and everyone is in sync. Highlights include "Alabama Getaway > Promised Land" opener, "Loser > Minglewood", "Looks Like Rain > Deal", "Stranger", "Miracle > Bertha > Sugar Magnolia".

  • 5/31/92 Sam Boyd Silver Bowl, Las Vegas, NV - Night 3 of 3 at the Sam Boyd Silver Bowl, and this one is an absolute scorcher! Check out this set list. "Help > Slipknot! > Franklin's" opener is amazing at over 20 minutes! There's also a big jammed out 14 minute "Bird Song". You also get another big sequence with the second set opening "Scarlet > Fire". Steve Miller sits in on the post-D/S segment. "Spoonfull > Other One > Morning Dew" is hot set 2 closing sequence. He sticks around for the double encore "Baba O'Reiley > Tomorrow Never Knows". This is one scorching show, and it wasn't just the desert heat!


June 1st

  • 6/1/91 Los Angeles Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA - The only available show on this day. This is an example of the rare time when the first set outshines the second set in terms of energy level and determination by the band. Bruce Hornsby is on the stage for the whole show and adds his signature piano playing flare. It's one of the reasons this one ranks above average in my opinion. "Shakedown Street" is fun and funky. "Candyman" is perfect and full of sparkle and energy here. I also like the "Playing > Uncle Johns" segment and the "Throwing Stones > NFA" to end the second set.


June 2nd RIP Vince Welnick (2006)

  • 6/2/95 Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountainview, CA - There are going to be some days of the year where 1) there aren't any known Dead shows; 2) There are shows but we don't have any recordings for whatever reason; or 3) there are recordings but the performance might not be the best. This show falls into category 3. Yes, there are some nice highlights - moments where Jerry suddenly "comes alive" and plays with passion and inspiration, but there are also times where he's mumbling words, fumbling the guitar and seemingly "checked out". It's just the reality of Jerry's situation in 1995 when the shows could be inconsistent. Alright, let's break it down. Overall the entire band is locked in, listening to each other and playing really well, so there's that. The show opens with strong versions of "Alabama Getaway > Greatest Story". Minimal mumbling and Jerry's solos are strong. The band is locked in for "Candyman" and overall it's nicely executed. "Schoolgirl" is played up-tempo "Weir style" (doesn't sound anything like the Pigpen versions) but Bobby's having fun and really getting into it. A standard "Ramble On Rose" comes next. Bobby switches to acoustic guitar for "Mexicali". I loved that Bobby started played the acoustic guitar on his cowboy songs, and it sounds nice on the recordings. The big highlight to me is a very nice 15 minute "Birdsong" which has a long extended jam in the middle where Jerry adds some neat guitar effects. This segues nicely into "Promised Land" for a strong ending to set 1. Set 2 opens with "New Speedway" which has a seductively thick groove which perfectly segues into a beautiful rendition of "That Would Be Something". Other second set highlights include the Gyoto Monk chanting during "Drums > Space" and a very sweet version of "Standing On The Moon".


BTW, If you're not yet familiar with Jam Anthem versions of songs you can read all about it in Deadology II by Howard Weiner. Check it out here along with all his other great books.

And that's all for now! Of course, if you want to follow along in your very own copy of my book On This Day In Grateful Dead History: A Daily Listening Journal I still have some copies available here. Once they're sold out, I will have to decide whether or not I'm going to have more made. The costs of printing and shipping have gone way up in the last few years since I had them printed so I'm not sure if it's worth it or not. So get one now while you can!

Peace out my good people. Until next week!

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