Grateful Dead — Family Dog at the Great Highway, April 18th 1970
(Rhino Records R3-357164, 1970/2013, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2013-11-10This reel tape turned up in Mountain Girl’s stash of Garcia’s old recordings, a show that was never even known by the Grateful Dead archivists, let alone that it had been recorded. There is a good reason for that. This was an “unplugged” gig, mostly acoustic guitars, scant drums, so if the band had appeared on the bill as The Grateful Dead, thousands of fans would have shown up expecting to hear “Dark Star” and the Dead’s electrified set; instead this was billed as a performance by “Mickey Hart and his Heartbeats” and “Bobby Ace and his Cards from the Bottom of the Deck,” but really it’s the Dead, all of them are there, Garcia, Pigpen, the whole band. One might see this as a preview for some of the band’s new material, in acoustic form, as this show predates the release of Workingman’s Dead by a couple months, and American Beauty by about half a year, yet a lot of that material is here (“Friend of the Devil,” “Cumberland Blues,” “New Speedway Boogie,” “Candyman”) as well as a lot of the traditional material and covers folks were hearing in the band’s electric set at the time (“Don’t Ease Me In,” “I Know You Rider,” “Mama Tried,” etc.). Their set is concluded with an outstanding group of blues covers by Pigpen; normally the band’s organist, harmonica player and sometimes-singer, here it’s just him with an acoustic guitar and his voice. One caveat, however, is that this entire recording is a little scrappy at times; several times throughout one can hear band members complaining to Bear (Owsley, the sound man) that they couldn’t hear the guitars and there are a couple tracks that just fade in from nowhere, though it’s still entirely listenable. Nonetheless, among the hundreds of live Grateful Dead shows that have been released over the years, this one is fairly unique and definitely worthy of attention.
Related artist(s): Grateful Dead
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more