Friday, August 24, 2012

Grateful Dead Live at Pelletier Farm 1969


Listen to this Dark Star, I promise you will not be let down!!


As I sit here waiting for Flanny to arrive, I realize that now would be a perfect time to share an old gem. This show is coming at you from August 1969. Actually the 43rd anniversary of this show was yesterday. I really love listening to my favorite shows close to the date that they were performed and recorded on, I just feel it adds a dimension to them. Let me start out by saying (again) that I love Pig Pen, he might not have had the piano chops of Horsnby or the Jazz innovation that Keith brought to the group but he brought a real raw edge to the group. In the beginning years of the dead Pigpen was the real front man, he was the one with the stage presence and the gusto that the group needed and depended on. He also hated to practice he just wanted to play shows all the time. Jerry and the boys had to force him to rehearse. In the beginning the amount of practicing the Dead did was what made the groups performances so strong. Pigpen was wasted most of the time, and generally stayed away from drugs; his anecdote of choice was booze. I am reading Garcia's biography and apparently when Pigpen and his friends were hanging out in his room, his mother would come by every twenty minutes just to make sure ole pig had not died. Ultimately his life was taken by liver disease in 1972, but before the good lord took him, he was able to provide some real gems such as this show. 

My favorite thing about this show has to be Pigpen combined with Jerry's very psychedelic blues style guitar playing. The combination of the grinding organ with the riffs Jerry is pulling has a really cool effect. Right out of the box, Pigpen's vocals are strong and emotional; I have always found his singing to be very African-American sounding. If I did not know better I would have thought the man was black. Check out the interplay between Garcia and Pigpen in Easy Wind, which is one of my favorite tunes from Workingman's Dead. 

The organ is really sounding great and authentic, it certainly has an heir of antiquity to it. I mean, it isn’t Garth Hudson on his Lowry, but it adds a sweetness to the show. 

This is a Dark Star worth mentioning. As I have stated before I am not a huge fan of this song, but Bobby and Pig are great and Jerry's playing is tasteful, smooth and elegant. It is almost sweet, the way everything is working together. I love the beginning of this song on this show, Jerry switches on some slight distortion, it has a great effect. I also like what Mickey is doing, playing some bongos. He was always a master at incorporating international drumming and interesting rhythm patters common in parts of Asia (India particularly) into the music of the Grateful Dead. This is a dark star that I will always remember; the Dark Star that really turned me onto ambient Grateful Dead. There is something magical about it. The only word I can think of to describe it is love and possibly universal truth. But, hey, I am a just a bread blogger who loves talking about the Dead. 

Oh, I have not even mentioned Phil, don’t worry folks he is there, in Dark Star towards the end is just walking his bass blissfully.

Keep Rocking, Keep Baking and Keep Listening 
-DW

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