Grateful Dead: Curated Stream - Reno, May 1974

Four of the six shows the Dead played in their two-week May 1974 tour have been released (Missoula, Vancouver, Portland, Seattle). The two leftovers are the first and last shows of that tour (Reno, Santa Barbara).

I have previously maligned the opener in Reno on 5/12/74. 

The board mix and the band don’t get sorted until the 6th song, and there are numerous vocal errors in the following tunes.

The show’s only expansive improvisational moment is a bust: “The Other One,” is a dissolved affair that doesn’t have any classic passages. When it finally busts loose, the sound board is missing the bomb, and then Weir completely fries the verse. It then dwindles off into noodle space and nascent jamming that never gets going. Eventually a nice, short “Mind Left Body” happens.

However, I’ve since come to love 14 consecutive songs in the middle of the show – which unfold like a fantastic, two-hour, first set. The soundboard mix is wonderful. The band is clearly delighted to be playing again, manifesting enthusiasm all over the place. Lots of great between-song banter. 

So, if you want a real good, uninterrupted, time with the opening show of May ’74, I recommend that you press play on “Brown Eyed Women” and duck out again after “Nobody’s Fault.” 

Here’s the version I listen to on (Miller, of course.)

  • Brown Eyed Women
  • Beat It On Down the Line
  • China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider
  • El Paso
  • U.S. Blues
  • Greatest Story Ever Told
  • It Must Have Been the Roses
  • Me & Bobby McGee
  • Deal
  • Around and Around
  • Mississippi Half-Step
  • Truckin’ >
  • Nobody’s Fault Jam

For an equally-feisty encore, jump to the closing Sugar Magnolia.

Design Your Face: Concepts for Official Dead Releases

I asked twitter heads what kind of not-whole-show releases they would pay money for, and the replies were interesting and fun.

I’ve collected most of the them below, grouped into a few categories, so you can get a sense of interest in different areas.

It should be noted that the single replies that got the most likes were:

  • Donna Sings/Keith Plays (separate discs) (11 likes)
  • I think highlights from later years. Thinking 92-95 especially. (11 likes)
  • all the recordings that were done for the live parts of anthem of the sun (10 likes)

It should also be noted that numerous of people ignored the "not-whole-shows" aspect of the question and asked for more of them/boxes of them. Those replies aren't included here, but the fact that they happened underscores the strength of the whole-show mindset/market.

You can check out how people responded to the various ideas and add your own likes and thoughts onto the original twitter discussion right here

Player-Based Concepts

A "Donna Sings" CD. Highlighting Donna. And a "Keith Plays" CD.  Mix towards vocals and piano. Some isolated or high mix Keith long jam. And an Several minute Donna Playin mix.

Featuring Ned Lagin series.

“Get Yer Hands Out Your Pockets!” -  a focus on Pigpen’s singing and playing, and when he inspired great jams by getting everyone worked up then says “ok, play your guitars!”

Acoustic Focus

Acoustic dead

An obvious niche would be a collection of the best acoustic set songs.

Curated Releases from Multiple Shows

… a highlights package from a run or a few week stretch would be great..

Tour/run highlights. 

Great jam segments. Especially from the later years, and perhaps this approach might make some pre-87 80s releases possible in terms of vault contents and quality. 

I think highlights from later years.  Thinking 92-95 especially.  Like a box set of Boston Garden 94 highlights.  As one of many potential ideas

The following are presumably curated release concepts – not giant boxes of multiple whole shows:

  • Whole tour approach
  • Sequential years runs at a venue
  • Greek theater box set!!

Curation + Mad-Scientist Editing: Jams & Weirdness

Infrared Roses II. 

Plunderphonics/Greyfolded based on The Other One.

Interstitial zones- those in between places that are neither and both China & Rider, Scarlet & Fire, Estimated & Eyes, NFS & GDTRFB, St Stephen & The Eleven, Whatever & Whathaveyou...

I’d pay for a release of the isolated tracks of the instruments during the Playing in the Band and Dark Star from 8/27/72.

I had a dream last night that I bought an official feedback only mix 2xCD, so now it's all I want IRL

A Grayfolded-style mix of jams from songs with internal, bookended jams like cassidy/bird song/playin, etc on one disk. The other disc just outro jams like MNS, stranger, shakedown, etc.

More Drums/Space comps like 'Infrared Roses', but across time periods. Full jams, dubby/trippy mixes, whatever works.

Kind of like a road trips mix but slice and dice jams from the same songs together to make extended jams within a show or set of songs from a week of shows. This lends to a nice break with shorter songs that don’t normally have jams but allows the jam variation songs to shine

I would do a three disc instrumental jam box set called just the jams.

a mix that focuses on jams with song teases, that then segue into a totally different song

Would love a series of less than stellar but nonetheless interesting versions of songs. I'd even take a disc set of aborted songs and rip cord segues.

Patches. Really really good sbd > aud > sbd patches.

More Specific Concepts

all the recordings that were done for the live parts of anthem of the sun is on the top of my list.

Each studio album recreated with live performances of each song instead. It would be tough to nail down each song's best suited live version, and still kinda keep the album flow.

I would do song evolutions. Like, a collection of China Cat > Riders from early days through the 90s.

Thinking back to cassettes, we always had the Killer Philler. Single tunes that were fun covers, breakouts and bloopers.

Grateful Dead: TLEO Spring 1977 (10-version instrumental edit)

This mix is a 21-minute edit of all 10 Keith and Jerry “They Love Each Other” solo passages from April and May, 1977. Three tracks include only Garcia’s solo. 

It’s a wonderful, woozy conversation, in slow motion. They’re not quite two souls in communion. Keith is a little uptight and resistant, though flirtatious. Jerry’s just like, “Come on baby, let’s go downtown and have some fun.” Except for one night, when Keith was the horny one.

I did the best I could with the segues (jump cuts), given the combo of official sources and fan sources, including audience tapes. The sonic and mood shifts might actually enhance the drama of this dialogue going round in circles.

The download contains both a single-track (21-minute file) and an “album” made up of the 10 separate pieces - in case you want to poke around by date. The single-track file is tagged to become part of this mix, which includes similar edits of Spring ’77 performances of Peggy-O, Sugaree, and Brown-Eyed Women.

21-minute mp3 mix zipped up here (dates in tags)

Grateful Dead: The First Two May ’77 Shows (April 22-23, 1977)

The Grateful Dead’s first tour of 1977 began on Friday April 22, at Philadelphia’s Spectrum, followed the next night by a show in Springfield, Massachusetts. 

As always, it’s great to hear the Dead discovering themselves again after a break. Ahead of the Spring 1977 tour of the east coast and midwest, the band had only two live moments – February 26-27 in San Bernardino and Santa Barbara, and March 18-19-20 at Winterland in San Francisco.

What we think of as the distinctive, shiny 1977 Dead really gets underway on April 22, far from home, on the first night of a tour that would last more than a month and become “May ’77.”

I always zoom in to the improvisational material from shows that followed a break of any length, because it’s the band doing what comes naturally, versus the band getting together their tightness and sound for formal songs.

The first two shows of Spring ’77 find the band in a feisty, often aggressive, starting position, digging their teeth into the jams, and making sounds that are not yet May ’77, but which also contain the protean matter thereof. Lots of attention-drawing Keith playing.

Two obvious points of interest are the second and third performances of “Fire on the Mountain” (and of the transition from “Scarlet Begonias” into “Fire”). Everyone trying things out on the new song. Also, you will never hear another disco “Dancin’” like this “Dancin’ > Mojo > Dancin’” sequence. Out of bounds "Not Fade Away." Hot "Help > Slipknot! > Franklin's." A 20-minute "Playin'" that never breaks stride. Two hours well spent.

2-hour mp3 mix zipped up here (dates included in tags)

  • Scarlet Begonias > 
  • Fire on the Mountain
  • Help of the Way > Slipknot! > (instr. edit)
  • Franklin’s Tower
  • Playin’ in the Band
  • Dancin’ in the Streets Jam > Got My Mojo Working > Dancin’ in the Streets >
  • The Wheel
  • Scarlet Jam > Fire on the Mountain
  • Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad >
  • Not Fade Away

Grateful Dead: Instrumental Eyes of the World (1974-1994)

This mix offers instrumental edits of eight performances of Eyes of the World, featuring many tempos and temperaments. The vocals appear once, in the middle of a long studio rehearsal edit from 1976. 

The aesthetic premise is to cut Eyes thematic jamming free from the song-structure and the vicissitudes of vocals. For instance, cocaine Eyes, minus cocaine singing. 

There aren’t many Dead pillows of grooviness as fine as Eyes. This mix overstuffs that pillow. One drummer and two. Keith, Brent, and Vince. The band and its members being all their different selves, across the decades, with their eye on this particular, happy place.

Cover art: Odilon Redon, “Closed Eyes” (1894)

100-minute mp3 mix zipped up here (tagged appropriately)

  • 6/8/74 (9:32)
  • 3/25/90 (8:55)
  • 5/76 (16:48, w/vocals)
  • 6/11/93 (8:00)
  • 11/5/79 (19:01)
  • 2/27/81 (6:03)
  • 9/11/74 (15:52)
  • 4/7/94 (17:14)

Sidetrips: Summer Evening (an eighties mixtape)

Since we’re heading into the season of the long, slow sunset, here’s a mix I created for that scenario 35 years ago. I was a prematurely sentimental-romantic-nostalgic type of person, about the finish college in Ann Arbor. The places I lived had exceptional views of the sunset. 

Started in 1985, the mix steadily expanded from one cassette to two-and-a-half-hours, then, around 2000, I sub-curated it into a single CD that I could burn. This is that version.

I and this mix are a mutually-reinforcing seasonal loop at this point. Is there an actual, coherent vibe that could work for anyone else in 2021? I have no idea. I make no excuses or apologies for this musical message from a different time (of me and the world). 

Try this for your own golden hour on some summer evening, and then make your own mixtape and share it back.

CD-length mp3 mix here

  • Spanish Moon (live): Little Feat
  • Fun to Be Happy: Love Tractor
  • Warm & Soothing: Kate Bush
  • Lions: Dire Straits
  • Orchid Girl: Aztec Camera
  • Wild Kingdom: Alex Chilton
  • The Ink in the Well: David Sylvian
  • Prisoners: The Rain Parade
  • North Star: Robert Fripp & Daryl Hall
  • In Your House: The Cure
  • Les Amoureux: Bill Nelson
  • Horizons: Genesis
  • Flesh #1: Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians
  • Thrasher: Neil Young
  • The Birth of the True: Aztec Camera
  • Evaporation: Shriekback
  • The Chauffeur: Duran Duran
  • Follow Me Home: Dire Straits
  • California: Joni Mitchell
  • The Charm of Transit: Bill Nelson

Cover: John Hilgart collage for the first cassette iteration of this mix, 1985.

The Dream Syndicate: Live 1982-1983

This mind-melting curation of early live recordings by The Dream Syndicate is testimony from a witness: Los Angeles writer Matthew Specktor. He has created three live albums that carry you from the band’s first show, through “The Days of Wine and Roses,” and into a full live preview of “The Medicine Show.”

Matthew Specktor:

If you’ve ever been to Los Angeles as a visitor you know how hard it is to estimate distances. Like any city, perhaps, LA is small only to those of us who live here, whether because we’ve hacked the shortcuts to avoid traffic or because we’ve constricted our private map of it enough to make it feel convenient, but when I was a boy, growing up in Santa Monica, Hollywood was the back of the moon. Punk rock, which happened to hit just as I reached puberty, was hardly accessible. The Starwood, the Vex, the Whisky—places where bands like X or The Germs were playing on the regular—felt far away, never mind that it was only a matter of a handful of miles, and so those bands were alive on my turntable but no more present to me as “local” than the ones I was listening to from England. 

But there was a club on Pico Boulevard called the Music Machine, which happened to be reachable by bus. It was almost in Santa Monica, in a liminal zone that bleeds closer to Westwood and Mar Vista, and if it wasn’t a punk venue exactly, it was likewise punk-adjacent. The Gun Club played there, and paisley-revivalist bands like The Three O’Clock. And also one, erroneously lumped in sometimes with a scene called the Paisley Underground (which was probably an erroneous category to begin with; the bands involved sure didn’t sound alike, and seemed to share in common only a more affectionate awareness of rock history), called The Dream Syndicate.

There’s really no way to explain what it was like to walk into the Music Machine on a fall evening in 1982 and hear the Dream Syndicate live for the first time. I’d read about them—an article in the LA Weekly had alerted me that they may have sounded a bit like the Velvet Underground—and I think I’d purchased an EP at Rhino Records in Westwood by then too, but to be confronted by the band’s full-on trebly, howling, feedbacking glory in the flesh was a whole other matter. It’s difficult to explain because it wasn’t just the music, or even the presentation (sure, they were cool as hell, and they looked it, but there was some other factor involved here, a gestalt that meant they weren’t trying to look that way at all, the way other bands did). 

It was a cohesion expressing itself as an argument: four musicians who absolutely belonged together, but who also (in musical terms, I’m talking; I have no idea what the interpersonal dynamic was like) cannot possibly agree. It gave the music a force, a vitality, a second-to-second spontaneity like nothing I’d ever then witnessed. I fell in love on the spot.

I’ve gone searching for that feeling everywhere ever since, and so I was shocked when I discovered recently that there are dozens of early Dream Syndicate shows that were recorded, whether by audience member with a Walkman or posterity-aware sound engineer or radio station, available on What shocked me isn’t so much that the shows were recorded—of course they were recorded; anyone who heard them for thirty seconds knew this was something to be preserved—but that the quality I describe above is absolutely legible in the recordings. 

Grateful Dead: Chamber Music (1972-1995)

Throughout the Dead’s career, there are improvisations so perfect that they seem, in retrospect, to be compositions, arranged perfectly, played only once.

A subset of those are performances that exclude the drummers, allowing Weir, Lesh, and the keyboardists to spontaneously weave gorgeous textural arrangements around Garcia story arcs. 

They are tiny planets that coalesced in the vastness of space – often lasting only a minute, rarely as long as three minutes.

With shape and momentum, but no beat, these passages sometimes brush up against classical music. In October 1972, they may actually be attempting something like that, in form and bowed string-sounds, long before MIDI. (I find 10/23/72 mind-boggling in this respect.)

Later, keyboards and MIDI enabled simulated strings, brass, woodwinds, pedal steel, etc. Sometimes the band sounds like it’s scoring tender scenes in movies or playing in a Bill Frisell zone. The extended, heartbreaking melody they crafted on 10/2/94 is another of my favorite Dead passages. 

The earliest hints of such music are in the beauty-seeking drones and tones that often followed noisy Feedback in 1969. Compilation of those here. 

The mix below hints at the subsequent history of the this gentle mode with selections from just a few, far-flung periods: 1972-1973, 1981, 1993-1995.

30-minute, 12-track, mp3 mix zipped up here

Grateful Dead: Out of Nowhere Jams 1976

This mix gathers up Easter eggs that the Dead scattered across their 1976 shows. The title and track list come from this Dead Essays/Light Into Ashes guide

It’s quite a trip to know you’re listening to 1976, yet all you’re hearing are big, extremely-together, nimble, out-of-nowhere jams. The fullness of the the manifestation confuses your inner-ear timeline.

The jams come in many flavors, and some taste quite quite a bit like Tighten Up, Stronger Than Dirt, and Dark Star. Fire on the Mountain makes its first live Dead appearance as Happiness is Drumming. The other passages are entirely their own trips.

This mix contains 16 tracks, including some vigorous Playin’ jams from the same shows and instrumental edits of two Wheels and a Wharf Rat that were integral to the surprise trips.

83-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

Grateful Dead: Playing with Friends (1968-1970)

This mix compiles improvisational highlights of six different live configurations of the Dead (whole or members) and other musicians. 

All of these performances appeared on an earlier Save Your Face mix at some point. The focus of this sub-curation is to concentrate great stuff that sounds really different from “normal” Dead of the period. The stuff is that is more literally far out. Alternate universe Dead.

No aspersions are being cast on anything I didn’t include. Poke around SYF for more from nearly every configuration presented here.

In addition to choosing start- and end-points, several performances are edited: The Crosby material is presented as instrumental edits; the Elvin Bishop jam is extensively edited to isolate one theme from other stuff that happened; and the Volunteers Jam has been shortened via a couple of edits.

77-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Jam (8/28/69 Harbeats w/Howard Wales, organ)
  • Jam (edit, 10/30/68 Hartbeats with Elvin Bishop, guitar)
  • Wall Song & Laughing (instr. edits, 12/15/70 Crosby, Garcia, Lesh, Kreutzmann)
  • Jam (11/20/70 Garcia, Weir, Kaukonen/Lesh/Kreutzmann, Hart)
  • Volunteers Jam (edit, 9/6/69 Garcia, Hart, Jefferson Airplaine)
  • Dark Star (8/3/69 w/unidentified sax and violin players)