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: Slipknot! (June 1976)

This mix creates a continuous, chronological, 65-minute “Slipknot!” from all (but one) of the June 1976 performances. The synchronized “Slipknot” riff appears for only 60 seconds – before the first jam and after the last. Otherwise, it’s exclusively the improvisational passages folding into one another. (I skipped June 4, because no complete soundboard recording circulates.)

1976 “Slipknots” are one of the best places to hear extended “jazz Dead” in the early two-drummer period. The approach is full of open spaces and side-trips, Mickey operating in Billy time zones. It’s not too hard to pretend that the performances are from 1974 and/or representative of an alternate-Earth’s post-1975 Dead timeline.

I’ve never been a super-fan of the June 1976 vibe and pacing as a whole, but the more open spaces of the month are almost always a distinctive treat – Slipknot, Playin’, early St. Stephen jams, the first, swirly minutes of Supplication, etc. 

65-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • 6/3/76 (11:49)
  • 6/10/76 (5:50)
  • 6/14/76 (12:00)
  • 6/17/76 (6:58)
  • 6/19/76 (5:21)
  • 6/21/76 (7:22)
  • 6/24/76 (7:34)
  • 6/27/76 (9:11)

Grateful Dead: The June 1976 “St. Stephen” Jam

This mix presents an extended version of “St. Stephen,” as played in June 1976.

Upon its return to the repertoire that month, the song often included a sizable jammy passage that concluded with the song’s reprise. 

The first three of the month are the really interesting ones, sounding to me like they could have come from or be heading toward “Supplication” – almost like it’s a leftover mood from the 1975 rehearsals/jams. 

This approach didn’t last long. By the fourth version, “Not Fade Away” begins its takeover of “St. Stephen’s” jam space. On 6/18 (not included on this mix), they played the first “SS > NFA > SS” sandwich, which reduced “St. Stephen” to just its song parts. Following that, all the June jams are “NFA”-inflected.

The mix is arranged chronologically, and you get a full blast of the audience response at the breakout on the first night. The exception to chronology is an audience-only, very NFA take, which comes last.

Because the song’s jam and final vocal section both began with a dramatic pause, the versions string together easily. Similar to the SYF May '77 edits.

38-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • 6/9 Song > (starting with audience patch)
  • 6/9 Jam (7:11)
  • 6/11 Jam (4:33)
  • 6/15 Jam (5:50)
  • 6/26 Jam (4:50)
  • 6/29 Jam (4:28)
  • 6/23 Jam (6:26 aud)

Plus a bonus track: 

I’ve appended a 13-minute bonus track from a previous SYF mix that edits together three of the earliest “St. Stephen” jams, from June 1968. At that time, when the song was brand new, the jam section was under construction, as it would be again upon the song’s return in ’76.

Source note: 

Many of these ’76 shows have been released, but I only own a few on CD. So, I’ve used fan-circulating tapes across the board.

Grateful Dead: On Returning (May 1976 Rehearsals)

In addition to live Dead and recorded-for-release studio Dead, there’s the third way - demos and rehearsals.

Some high points include 1970’s Angels Share (on all streaming services), the vast 1975 Blues for Allah jams, the 1979 Brent rehearsals, the 1983 Stone House sessions, and rehearsals and unfinished sessions that capture some of the band’s final songs in the early 1990s.

This post presents a studio-album like condensation of May 1976 rehearsals ahead of the band’s return to the stage in June. They’ve got two drummers now/again, Donna’s finally, fully in the picture, and they’re working on perfect, end-to-end versions of songs.

I want to say this material sounds exactly as its timestamp and setting would suggest: 1976 coming into being, but with a lighter touch than the June shows. If June 1976 had been a series of small club dates, it might have come off more like this.

Aside from choosing what to include, I made only two editorial interventions. The “Supplication” jam is doubled from two takes, and the “Eyes of the World” is comprised of three takes, with vocals edited out of one of them. 

Artwork: Rick Griffin, “Water into Wine.”

70-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Cassidy
  • Attics of My Life
  • The Wheel
  • Lazy Lightning > Supplication > Supplication (edit)
  • Groove
  • Eyes Jam > Eyes of the World > Eyes Jam (edit)
  • Playin’ in the Band
  • Wharf Rat
  • Cosmic Charlie (breakdown)