On This Day in 1966

On this day in 1966, three important events took place which had a large impact on musical history.

In Manchester, England three young English lads, Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton, would perform their live debut as Cream at The Twisted Wheel. After leaving the Yardbirds, Clapton joined Cream. It was his tenure in Cream that would propel him to stardom, and truly allow him to exhibit his guitar talent. Cream’s early crossroads jams are also considered to be some of the first extended rock jams. The band would leave the stage as Clapton would solo for twenty minutes by himself, to the extreme delight of the crowd. It was with Cream that Clapton made his US debut, performing nine shows at the RKO Theatre in March of 1967. In October of 1968, the band broke up, performing a final show at the Forum in LA. Some of the songs from this show were released on their final CD “Goodbye”. The music Cream created during their short period of time together is some of the finest rock music ever made. Below I have posted the link to the download for Cream’s show from Detroit on October 15, 1967. Download the show, and watch this video of Cream performing the Robert Johnson song Crossroads:

1967-10-15 Grand Ballroom, Detroit, MI

Also on this day, The Grateful Dead would leave the United States for the first time, venturing to Vancouver, BC, Canada. In Vancouver, the Dead would play three shows at the P.N.E. Garden Auditorium. These shows are classic ’66 Dead, with amazing sound quality. The Dead clearly are not well known in Canada, as it sounds like there are very few people in the audience. Or perhaps just very few clapping. When they are announced, no one claps and Phil says “Our fame has proceeded us”. This show is a true testament to Pigpen’s abilities as a front-man. He truly was great, and this show personifies his greatness. I have posted the links to the SBDs for the shows in Vancouver from the 29th and 30th (the 31st is hard to find).  Enjoy these classic shows from 1966 marking the Dead’s first trip to Canada.

1966-07-29 P.N.E. Garden Auditorium, Vancouver, Canada (SBD)
1966-07-30 P.N.E. Garden Auditorium, Vancouver, Canada (SBD)

The 29th Stream

The 30th Stream.

In addition, today marks the 43rd anniversary of Bob Dylan’s famous motorcycle accident. The accident, which occurred near his home in Woodstock, NY, is not musically significant itself, however the events that unfolded as a result are. After the crash, amidst a great deal of speculation, Bob Dylan went in seclusion for a number of months. During this period he created a number of recordings, however, it was not until 1975 that these recordings were released as Bob Dylan and The Band’s “The Basement Tapes” (a possible phish musical costume). This is some of Bob Dylan’s finest work, working with the Band prior to their debut “Music from Big Pink” in 1968. Posted below is a show with Dylan and The Band from the Forum in LA from February 14, 1974. This show is full of Dylan and The Band classics, such as Lay Lady Lay, Up on Cripple Creak and The Shape I’m In. Enjoy these moments from this day in ’66.

1974-02-14 The Forum, Los Angeles, CA part 1

1974-02-14 The Forum, Los Angeles, CA part 2

Summer Jam at Watkins Glen

36 years ago today, three of the most prolific bands in rock history came together for an outdoor festival. The Grateful Dead, The Band, and the Allman Brothers (sans Duane and Berry) performed at the Grand Prix Racecourse in Watkins Glen, NY to a crowd estimated at 600,000, the largest gathering of rock & roll fans in history. Only 150,000 tickets were sold, and as a result the majority of the attendees witnessed the show for free. And what a show it was.

Pigpen had just passed away in April causing the Dead to scramble for a new sound to compensate the lack of harmonica and organ. Without Pigpen, the dynamic of the band changed significantly, causing Jerry to take more of a lead role, and Bob to direct the underlying rhythm. The summer of ’73 largely functioned as a period of transition leading forward into what many feel are the Dead’s best and most exploratory years.

On the day prior to the show, the bands took the stage for a soundcheck which the fans were permitted to watch, courtesy of Bill Graham. Fans quickly gathered as The Band soundchecked a few songs, however, Robbie Robertson who is known to have terrible stage freight (hence the name of their second album), became confused at the growing number of people. The Allmans took the stage next playing fiery versions of both “One Way Out” and “Ramblin’ Man”, warming the crowd for what was to come next. By the time it was the Dead’s turn, the numbers had grown substantially and the group decided to play an extended set. This soundcheck is now regarded as one of the finest Grateful Dead performances ever played, 18 minutes of which are included on the So Many Roads box set. The soundcheck, in particular, has incredible sound (as it should). The link to the torrent is at the bottom.

The show itself took place on July 28th with all three bands delivering stellar performances. In the midst of heavy rain The Grateful Dead performed first, playing two sets over five hours, of incredible music. The setlist is great, as is the music. What is oddly surprising is the sound quality. While not quite as good as the soundcheck, for a festival with 600,000 people the sound is amazing. One might even say better than the quality of recent livephish releases.

The Band performed next, and the recording of their show would later be released as a live record, “Live at Watkins Glen”. Robbie Robertson would go on to say that this was the first “100 percenter” The Band had played. Those who are unfamiliar with this CD should check it out, as it really is a phenominal show. Prior to Watkins, The Band had failed to fully rise to the occasion when performing their own material.

Third came the Allman brothers who played a three hour mindblowing set. By 1973, Dicky Betts was the lead guitarist and legendary piano player Chuck Leavell had signed on to replace Duane. Instead of bringing in another guitarist to replace Duane, the Allmans hired Chuck, who is known as “the sixth rolling stone” by many. Their sound is different during this period with a single guitarist. There is significantly less harmonizing, less slide, and a great deal of intricate lead work by Dicky. The band delivers a high-energy performance, per usual. To see the setlist, click HERE. The encore featured members from all three bands, resulting in quite a magical combination. The “Mountain Jam” is a highlight, showcasing Jerry and Dicky on a classic Allman’s jam tune. The encore is included in the stream below.

Posted below are the links to the torrents for both the Grateful Dead’s soundcheck and concert at Watkins on July 27th and 28th, 1973. Be sure to give both a listen, the “Playing in the Band” from this show is a personal favorite. The stream for the 28th show is also posted. In addition I have also included two videos (audio only) with the Allman’s soundcheck, quite a rare treat. Enjoy the music, as so many people did 36 years ago today.

1973-07-27 Watkins Glen Racecourse, Watkins Glen, NY (Soundcheck)

1973-07-28 Watkins Glen Racecourse, Watkins Glen, NY

Click HERE for the Dead’s setlist from the 28th.

Pat Metheny Announces New Orchestration Project

On Friday, Pat Metheny announced that he will be releasing a new recording in 2010. By the sounds of it, this project is going to be very interesting. The following was written on Pat’s website on Friday:

I have been very lucky over the years to have many opportunities to explore a wide range of ideas as a musician. The quest to find new ways of thinking about things and the process of trying to come up with a personal perspective on music has been a major priority along the way, almost from the very beginning.

The Orchestrion Project is a leap into new territory. This project represents a recently developed conceptual direction for me that involves the merging of an idea from the late 19th- and early 20th-centuries with the technologies of today to create an open-ended platform for musical invention and performance.

“Orchestrionics” is the term that I am using to describe a new performance method to present music alone onstage using acoustic and acoustoelectric musical instruments that are mechanically controlled using the power of modern technology.

In early 2010 a new recording will be released on Nonesuch. It will be a “solo” record in that I am the only musician—but a CD that in some ways recontextualizes the term.

For more info, visit Pat’s Website. Here is a video from ’94 of Metheny and Scofield performing “The Red One” from their album I Can See Your House from Here.

Something Old for Something New

Because this blog is new, I wanted to start with something old. In 1958, in some barn, a slick young country picker was performing. That picker would later become known as one of the greatest guitar players ever, with a famous line of guitars named after him. Chet Atkins truly was a master of his craft and his nimble finger work makes his playing look effortless.

Chet Atkins marks the type of musician that existed in the early days of recorded music. Musicians had fully honed their crafts, and seeing them live was an exhibition of remarkable talent. People approached music like a blue collar job—they worked hard at them, and were humble about it. Chet always wore a suit, and he never flaunts his incredible talent. His playing, and especially his picking, is considered to be some of the finest in the business.

Chet was born in 1924 in rural Luttrell, TN to a very poor family. He has said that because his area was so rural, there was no one else to play with. As a result, he compensated by developing a unique style of picking that allowed him to play the rhythm and melody at the same time. He bought his first guitar from Les Paul for $25 and would practice in a bathroom at his local school.

Chet had no electricity in his house, and so he would have to go out and find a plug in order to play electric. He has received 14 grammy awards, and is known as Mr. Guitar. He pioneered the famous “Nashville sound” on guitar, which has inspired countless guitarists. Willie Nelson says that he is the single most influencial musiciain in Nashville, ever. Cheers Chet, to a true country gentleman.

Watch this video of Chet playing Black Mountain Rag, a classic fiddle tune.

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Today’s Phish note:Today marks the “less than a week” until Phish are back on tour point, and it is safe to say emotions are in high gear awaiting this next run of shows. As Phish returns to some of the finest venues in the nation, we wait, anxiously, for what is to come. Today is also the anniversary of the show from Nectar’s from 7-25-88. Two songs from that show, “Sanity” and “Icculus” would later make it onto the studio release of Junta.