Grateful Dead: The Terrapin Bounce Jam (1993-1994)

This mix includes four isolated, exceptional examples of the distinctive jam the Grateful Dead often played after “Terrapin” in the final years. Four musical leaps in the same direction, totaling 16 minutes.

In this period, there is a decisive moment when - or a brief transitional period during which - the climactic Terrapin riff gives way to a breezier space. Instead of grinding the Terrapin riff out forever, the band turns a corner into a different zone.

Does the Terrapin Bounce Jam rise to the level of an official Grateful Dead “thematic jam?” Possibly, because it is distinct from earlier Terrapin jams and contemporary Playin’ jams (which it shares a vibe with). I feel that at many moments, it could turn toward or back to either/both of those zones. It is something like a fresh space in a Venn diagram comfort zone for 1993-1994 Dead - a “Terraplayin’ Jam.”

Whatever its thematic taxonomy, this jam WAS an exceptional comfort zone for the final band. The rhythm section locked into a peppy groove, while responding fluidly to the melodic players – Phil Lesh performing a wild, sinuous ballet across the groove. Bob Weir finding the right accents and places to punctuate. Vince Welnick providing essential melodic elements.

And Jerry Fucking Garcia, genius lead guitarist, operating in a wide-open space - unencumbered by rote requirements - laying down spellbinding narratives. He employed many tones, natural and MIDI, not just changing channels for novelty but seeing the next place he wanted to take things and paying it off.

To illustrate/celebrate this corner of Grateful Dead, I’ve chosen just four particularly developed, short, and corner-turning examples. 

The jam/theme/turn/bounce appeared most of the time after Terrapin in the final years, but not always as an assertively self-contained jam. The Terrapin riff could extend farther in, creating a hybrid. The band could get pretty fierce for a long time within the “Terrapin Bounce” rhythm, without carving out a shape or turning dramatic corners. The jam could open up into a farther out thing or wind itself down, coherently, toward Drums. 

Download 16 minutes/four versions of the jam on mp3s here

  • 9/17/94 (4:39)
  • 7/23/94 (4:25)
  • 1/26/93 (3:11)
  • 4/4/94 (3:23)

Cover art: Gyokusho Kawabata 1842-1914

If you’d like more versions and a bigger 1993-1994 context for this jam, try this older and much longer Save Your Face mix:

Notes and mp3s


12 responses
Back from vacation so I’m going to check this out soon. I’m as fascinated by the Terrapin outro jam as you (and Terrapin is my favorite Dead song in all its forms) but I’ve done far less extensive exploration than you, so I’m excited to see what you’ve dug up here. Love the cover art, too. Your mixes have consistently good and interesting artwork but I’m really captured by the simplicity and evocative effect of this selection. More Japanese art, please!
I’ve entertained the idea for a while of amassing a conglomerate Terrapin from all the different sections and ways of performing it that have come up through the years (the Starlight jam; the extra sections in the studio version; the further extra sections that Robert Hunter wrote independently of the Dead; the latter-day outro jam; etc.) and this could plausibly be one of those building blocks.
After listening a couple times on repeat, I decided to reorder this truly fantastic mix (now on permanent rotation for my drive to school in the morning, and likely many other mundane happenings in my life) to start with the track from '93, which fades in while the track before it fades out, so I think it makes more sense when listening to it as a discreet piece of music to have it flow from the fade-in to the fade-out (there's hardly any gap between tracks 4 and 1). Am I making any sense? Anyway, the point is, the mix is better on repeat no matter whether one starts from track 1 or track 3 (the latter being my version).
Bartographer, sorry I've missed your comments here - all appreciated. I certainly don't mind people rearranging things! If you pursue your Terrapin project, I do recommend the SYF "Terraplayin' Jam" mix as a cheat sheet for the late period. I can't recall if all four of the little nuggets I presented here (above) are on that or not.
I have another new mix idea for you. Like you did for the 76 out-of-nowhere jams, I’d love a mix of the unique quasi-thematic jams of 1972, outlined here: Read to the end, including the comments, for ideas, and search back through your ‘72 mixes for other jams that might fit in the same category (I’m thinking of, for instance, “Keith’s Jam” from Berkeley in August, but you know better than I do what else would work for the mix). Happy curating!
I keep thinking of ideas for you. It’s really a problem; I should start making my own mixes. But this is a specific challenge for you. Pick a show, any show, and make an instrumental edit of every single song without cutting any from the track list completely. I think this would be kind of fun and be an interesting counterpoint to the argument that Dead shows must be listened to in full. This way, setlist flow is mostly preserved but the vocals are eliminated from the picture entirely. What do you think?
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