Set lists for over 2,450 known Grateful Dead performances are included, with every known song played, along with an incredible amount of meta data about each show and each song. Meta data is just additional information about the songs, the venue, the date, etc. The meta data is what gives you additional context about the show - all the special or interesting things from a historical perspective.
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Date, Venue, City, State and Country
This is the show date, including the name of the day of the week, early show or late show designation along with the name of the venue and the city, state and corresponding country where the performance took place.
Available Music Sources
The guidebook includes over 14,000 links to streaming music sources on archive.org! For every show in the Set List section, if there are available sources on archive.org, then I've included the links to the archive.org web site where you can listen within a few clicks! This is great way to find new shows to listen to, or to plan exactly which sources (SHNIDs) you want to add to your collection by quickly streaming from archive.org. Future editions of Listen to the Music Play will be updated with links to the newest sources available at the time of publishing.
Additional Show Information From Internet Links
There are many excellent blogs and web sites that contain an amazing amount of additional and fascinating information about Dead shows. The problem is to know where to find them, and many times it's difficult to map search results back to any particular show - until now. I've included over 2,500 links from specific shows in the guidebook to several popular web pages and blog entries for you, so you'll have all that amazing additional information readily available at your fingertips without having to search for it.
Any significant notes about the show. For example: "Mickey's first show", "Venue name changed from Electric Theater", "First Bill Graham New Years show", etc.
A breakout is when the Dead played a song that they hadn't played in a while (sometimes a really long while). There are many well known examples, such as the Attics breakout of 10/9/89 Hampton, VA (first time in almost 17 years and 1,095 shows!). I've actually developed an algorithm to calculate every show gap for every song played, and then highlighted all the breakouts of over 50 shows, and they're all listed in the Set Lists section as well as the Every Time Played section.
There are over a thousand little nuances captured about the individual songs for shows in the database which are captured in the song notes. Examples include Bobby's "yellow dog story" told before a song, when Bobby asks the audience to "take a step back", if there was an equipment breakdown, the number of beats in the intro of Beat It On Down The Line, Finiculi Finicula or Mexican Hat Dance tuning - just to name a few.
Officially Released Shows
If a show or even individual songs or parts of a show were released on a commercially available title, it's clearly listed. For example, any song or complete show that is part of the Dick's Picks series, Dave's Picks Series, Europe '72 Complete Recordings, Road Trips, etc. are all indicated. This is inclusive of the entire Grateful Dead discography, up to and including Dave's Picks Volume 29 released February 1, 2019. Future versions of Listen to the Music Play will be updated with any new releases as they come out.
Any corresponding title for the show. This was common for many early Dead shows. For example, "Mime Troupe Benefit", "Trip and Ski", "Rex Benefit", etc.
The Dead didn't just perform "regular concerts", they also played benefit shows, performances for TV broadcast, private parties, acid tests and awards ceremonies - just to name a few. I've categorized each one accordingly.
The Dead shared the stage with hundreds of different bands over the years. If they did, the show entry includes a listing of any other bands that performed along with the Dead - for every show - along with any known M.C.s, light shows, poetry readings and chimpanzee shows (yes, that reportedly happened).
Songs With Guests
Sometimes the Dead performed with other musicians. In fact, they had guest accompaniment on over 1,100 songs during their 30 year career. They jammed with Janis Joplin, Carlos Santana, The Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, Duane Allman, Steve Miller, Etta James, Bo Diddley, Joan Baez - just to name a few! The book clearly indicates which song(s) had guests, who joined them and what instrument (or vocals) the guest played.
Fist/Final/Only Time Played
If it was the first time, the last time or the only time a song was played, then it's clearly indicated in the entry for the show.
If the Dead played acoustic sets or individual songs, then they're clearly labeled as such. Whenever live music is performed with acoustic instruments there is a different "feel", and the acoustic Dead sets are no exception! There are many well-known acoustic sets, and now you'll have all of them clearly listed so you can search out new ones to listen to.
Band Member Lineups
Most people know that the Dead had different members in and out of the band throughout their 30 year career. For all the performances listed in the guidebook there are over 30 different combinations of band member lineups. Each show in the Set List section I've included the band membership lineup. In addition, the individual songs listed in the Every Time Played section includes its own band member lineup for each song.
Show Certainty Designation
Some shows are "confirmed", meaning we know with 100% certainty exactly where and when they occurred. Other shows - not so much. Especially shows between 1965-1969. For this reason, I've included the certainty rating for every show in the database listing.
Set List Certainty Designation
As if show certainty wasn't hard enough, it's actually more complicated. There are actually three levels of "certainty" about any Grateful Dead show: 1) the show itself (correct date and location, and whether the show actually happened or not), 2) the set list and 3) the individual songs played. Each one has it's own certainty rating in the book. The set list certainty designation tries to rate the level of certainty that the known (listed) set list is total and complete. In other words, being 100% sure that all the songs listed are complete and in the correct order. There are some shows in which the set lists are mostly known, but the certainty of some songs isn't exactly known. In these cases, the song level certainty is included. Song level certainty is indicated on the Every Time Played listings.
Song Certainty designations are also included, and can be found in the Every Time Played section of the book.
Etree Show Link (etreedb.org)
If you want to look up the show information on Etree, I've included the direct link for every show in the guidebook to the Etree web site for your convenience, so you can quickly get checksum information, see all the other sources, and manage your collection list. Etree is the official database that issues and keeps track of SHNID numbers for every circulating source.