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This Week In Grateful Dead History #17 (Week of 5/20)

Hey, I know you don't have a bunch of time to spend reading show or even individual song performance reviews. You just want to get recommendations on the best Grateful Dead music for the week ahead so you can queue it up and hear it for yourself. I got you covered! 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 quickly and efficiently give all you Heads a "Heads up" on the interesting and cool stuff the Grateful Dead were up to on this week in history!

Here's the highlights for Issue 17, for the week of May 20th, 2024, so check it out and let me know what you think! It ended up being a busy Sunday spending time preparing my friend's sailboat for the upcoming racing season, so I'll have to apologize for getting this out so late on Sunday night, and I didn't have time to take pictures of the book this week.


May 20th

  • 5/20/73 Campus Stadium, UC Santa Barbara, CA - Entire show officially released in glorious perfect sound quality on Here Comes Sunshine 1973. This is an epic 3-set, 31-song afternoon show at UCSB, and it's full of highlights. The first set alone is 12 songs! The "Playing" set closer is 19+ minutes and is outstanding. Other highlights include "Box Of Rain", "Tennessee Jed", "China Cat > I Know You Rider". Set 2 has a blistering "Greatest Story" and a lengthy, jammed out "Here Comes Sunshine". The real hardcore jamming comes in the 3rd set, however and the entire thing is one big highlight of this concert.


May 21st

  • 5/21/74 Edmundson Pavilion, University of Washington, Seattle, WA - Officially released on Pacific Northwest '73-'74: The Complete Recordings. Who loves Bobby? We do! Good, because this might be Bobby's penultimate show! Let's open the show with Cowboy Bob's "Me & My Uncle"! This would be the 7th of only 8 times they did that. But there's so much more Bobby in the first set, including perfect renditions of "Beat It On Down The Line", "Mexicali", "The Race Is On", "Weather Report Suite". On the Jerry side, the standalone "Scarlet Begonias" and "Row Jimmy" are highlights. Then we get to the best part. The set 2 "Playing", at 46+ minutes, is the longest version ever performed. Some say it's not the best version but this one really has it all: hard-driving psychedelic riffing, jazz-infused jamming and a trip to outer space. After that expedition we get another outstanding Bobby cowboy song: "Big River". Not to mention "Eyes > Wharf Rat > Sugar Magnolia" is outstanding as well.

  • 5/21/77 Lakeland Civic Center, Lakeland, FL - Officially released on Dick's Picks Volume 29. An incredibly vigorous show, which explodes out of the gate with a powerful "Bertha". They don't want it to end, and I counted 13 cries for Bertha to not come around here "anymore!" at the end of the song. The rest of the set is pretty much flawless (it is May, 1977 after all...) and includes a monster "Row Jimmy" with exceptional playing. But the "Scarlet > Fire" closer is the peak of this fine show. It contains a truly unique "pause", and then a continuation similar to the pause in "Sugar Magnolias" before they slam into "Sunshine Daydream" part. After that, because this show is so good, I guess I'd have to say the entire second set is one giant highlight instead of just repeating the set list song-for-song here. There's 23 very good reasons Dick chose this one!

  • 5/21/82 Greek Theatre, Berkeley, CA - The first of 3 nights at one of the band's most beloved hometown venues. Anyone lucky enough to have seen them perform here will confirm that there are very few bad shows. This run of shows are all scorchers. Highlights include a hot "Bertha > Greatest Story" opener, a nicely jammed "Bird Song > CC Rider". Then in the second set you get a 30 minute "Playing > Uncle John's Band". The whole second set could be considered a "highlight" because there aren't any weak spots at all.


May 22nd

  • 5/22/77 The Sportatorium, Pembroke Pines, FL - Officially released on Dick's Picks Volume 3. Once again we can see how Dick has done his homework and picked an outstanding show. First set highlights are the stunning "Sugaree", a standout "Lazy Lightning > Supplication" and a long "Dancin'". And then there's the second set, and pretty much all of it is a highlight. Go listen and enjoy peak Grateful Dead!

  • 5/22/82 Greek Theatre, Berkeley, CA - Night 2 of 3 at the Greek. This performance is equally as good as the first night, but with a different feel of course. Highlights are a Jam Anthem version of "Lazy Lightning > Supplication" which segues right into a hot set-ending "Deal". Set 2 gives us a ripping "China Cat > I Know You Rider", "He's Gone" and a nicely jammed out "Not Fade Away".


May 23rd

  • 5/23/69 Seminole Indian Village, Hollywood, FL - Officially released on Road Trips Volume 4 Number 1. The first of 2 nights at the Big Rock Pow Wow festival which was a 3 day event that had a very interesting lineup, including Johnny Winter, Muddy Waters and Timothy Leary, to name a few (see the poster image below). Florida was one of the first places that the psychedelic San Francisco bands were booked to play in the south, after conquering the east and west costs. As such, Florida became a very frequent and important stop for the Dead throughout their 30 year touring history. The highlight of this performance is "Dark Star" through the end.

  • 5/23/72 The Strand Lyceum, London, England - Officially released on Europe '72 The Complete Recordings. The first of the 4 nights at The Strand Lyceum, which were the final 4 concerts of the Europe '72 tour. Most people feel that the last show on 5/26 is the ultimate highlight, not only of this run, but of the entire tour. But it's so subjective, depending on what you like. I think there are incredible highlights from all 4 nights (and from every show of the tour). Let's break it down. Every song is played perfectly, so when I call out a highlight, I'm hearing songs with special moments - things like extra emotion or just fiery playing - on top of perfectly executed renditions. Highlights for this show are "Sugaree", "Black Throated Wind", "China Cat > I Know You Rider", "Rockin' Pneumonia", "Good Lovin'", "Dark Star > Morning Dew", "GDTRFB > NFA > Hey Bo Diddley > NFA".

  • 5/23/82 Greek Theatre, Berkeley, CA - Night 3 of 3 at the Greek. This one kicks off with a super fun "Shakedown Street > Promised Land". The whole set is well played, but there's a really nice "They Love Each Other" and a hot "Let It Grow" to end the set. Set 2 highlights include a nice long "Scarlet > Fire", a standout "Estimated" that has an extended jam before landing on a perfect upbeat "Eyes". Out of D/S you get "Other One > Stella Blue", and then a high-energy "Miracle > Casey Jones" to close the set. A rare "Satisfaction" and "Brokedown Palace" double encore sends the audience away smiling.


May 24th Happy 83rd Birthday to Bob Dylan (1941)

  • 5/24/69 Seminole Indian Village, Hollywood, FL - Officially released on Road Trips Volume 4 Number 1. The second of 2 nights at the Big Pow Wow festival. Highlights include "Doing That Rag > He Was A Friend Of Mine > China Cat > The Elven > Death Don't". One of the more unusual collections of songs strung together in a very fine fashion. I really like the seamless transition from "He Was A Friend Of Mine > China Cat". A perfect example of how the Dead could spontaneously create some very unique and unpredictable music!

  • 5/24/72 The Strand Lyceum, London, England - Officially released on Europe '72 The Complete Recordings. The second of 4 shows. Of the Strand Lyceum shows, this tape didn't circulate as much since there was only a fragment of the soundboard available, and the audience tapes weren't very good. The best place to hear this one is definitely on the official Europe '72 The Complete Recordings. Highlights include "Mr. Charlie", "Me & My Uncle", "China Cat > I Know You Rider", "You Win Again", "Truckin' > Other One" and "Sugar Magnolia > Lovelight > Two Souls". This would be the final Pigpen "Lovelight" and also the Dead's final performance of "Hurts Me Too".


May 25th

  • 5/25/72 The Strand Lyceum, London, England - Officially released on Europe '72 The Complete Recordings. Show 3 of 4 at The Strand Lyceum. Highlights include a smooth "Big Boss Man", "China Cat > I Know You Rider", "Good Lovin'", "Playing" from the first set. But this one is mostly known for the epic second set jam segment of "Uncle John's Band > Wharf Rat > Dark Star > Sugar Magnolia". This would be the final performance of "Sitting On Top Of The World".

  • 5/25/77 The Mosque, Richmond, VA - Officially released on Dave's Picks Volume 1. An incredible show, and there are many reasons why I can surmise as to why this was the one Dave picked for his first of many (up to 50 as of now!) releases. This is a peak Dead show during a peak time period for the band. There isn't a bad moment here. But the highest highlights I would have to say are "Half Step", "Jack Straw", "Peggy-O", "Cassidy", "Lazy Lightning > Supplication" from the first set. The entire second set is so good, that we'll just say the entire thing is a highlight and leave it at that!


May 26th

  • 5/26/72 The Strand Lyceum, London, England - Officially released on Europe '72 The Complete Recordings. The final night of the Strand shows, and the final show of the tour. This is the one that many people love the most. Partially because a very high quality recording of this show circulated for a long time before the official releases. It reminds me of how incredibly lucky we are to have David Lemieux and others who work so hard at releasing the Vault masters. As they say, the kids these days don't know how good they have it!! Anyways, the highlights for this one include the huge 17+ minute "Playing" (also a Jam Anthem version), "China Cat > I Know You Rider", "NFA > GDTRFB > NFA", "Truckin' > Other One > Morning Dew > Other One > Sing Me Back Home". This would be the Dead's final performance of "Mr. Charlie", "Next Time You See Me", "Two Souls", "Chinatown Shuffle".

  • 5/26/73 Kezar Stadium, San Francisco, CA - The entire show was officially released on Here Comes Sunshine 1973. This is a massive 3-set monster. The whole show is excellent and I'm glad they released this one because it was definitely due! Highlights include a big "Playing", "Here Comes Sunshine", "China Cat > I Know You Rider", " He's Gone > Truckin' > Other One > Eyes > China Doll".

  • 5/26/77 Baltimore Civic Center, Baltimore, MD - Officially released on Dave's Picks Volume 41. The band had massively honed their musical skills throughout the May, 1977 tour and as it winds down with a short run up the east coast you can hear it all come together. This show in particular you can hear how tight they are. Everyone is playing in sync and Highlights include "Music Never Stopped", "Sugaree", "Looks Like Rain", Jack-A-Roe", "Bertha", "High Time", "Terrapin > Estimated > Eyes > NFA > GDTRFB > Around & Around" and a very nice "Uncle John's Band" encore.


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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