Grateful Dead: Go to Alaska (June 19-21, 1980)

In June 1980, the Grateful Dead went to a very nice high school gym in Anchorage, Alaska, for three nights that included the summer solstice. The venue had previously hosted artists such as Dave Brubeck and Leonard Bernstein, and it held 2,000 people. The promoter sweetened the gig offer with a hunting and fishing trip for the band.

The Alaska run (June 19-21) came five days after the band dashed through Portland, Seattle, and Spokane on consecutive nights (June 12-14). A week after Alaska, the band performed in LA and San Diego and then took six weeks off. 

This mix offers a 3-LP (2h 15m) Alaska “album” derived from eight hours of soundboard recordings (mastered by Miller), which I find exceptional.

The vocals are very forward, and every voice and instrument is clearly separated, while blending nicely. The resulting sound experience is very detailed and intimate-feeling, while also having plenty of oomph. 

With very few exceptions, I was able to segue these picks, such that they provide an unbroken listening experience.

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  • Feel Like a Stranger
  • The Music Never Stopped
  • Sugaree
  • Far from Me
  • Loser
  • Let it Grow
  • Althea
  • Estimated Prophet >
  • The Other One
  • Not Fade Away >
  • Black Peter
  • Playin’ in the Band
  • Supplication
  • Ship of Fools
  • Brokedown Palace

Grateful Dead: Early 1981 (February 26 - March 7)

Out of the gate in 1981, the Grateful Dead were lit. Exploratory and incendiary, it feels like a hard break with 1980. Perhaps the scrappy, early-‘80s Dead were born in February 1981? 

This post wraps together four Save Your Face mixes that summarize the first eight shows of 1981. Created two years ago, these mixes were based largely on Jesse Jarnow’s 40th anniversary listening notes from 2021. Now these mixes are steaming.

When the band got together after a break (for a new year or a new tour), the joy of their reunion as an exploratory musical collective was often palpable and measurable in magic minutes. Early 1981 is one of those events, and these mixes focus on that jammier material.

Chicago - Uptown Theatre (February 26, 27, 28)

Three nights in 2.3 hours, featuring most of the big songs, with many instrumental edits to create long stretches of improvisational playing. 



Original post

Cleveland Music Hall (March 2)

A 3-part “Playin’ in the Band” edited into a single 24-minute track, with “Supplication” for dessert.


Original post

Pittsburgh - Stanley Theatre (March 5, 6)

Second set highlights from each night, totaling 108 minutes. The first night’s second set began with a 7-minute jam without Garcia, who was having equipment issues. Both “Wharf Rat” and “Stella Blue” were given involved instrumental introductions. 


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University of Maryland - Cole Field House (March 7)

74 minutes of highlights, including a 17-minute “Bird Song,” a 9.5-minute jam, and several other extra-long treats.



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Grateful Dead Shortlist: Merriweather Post Pavilion, Summer 1985

This mix curates the Dead’s unreleased June 30 - July 1 run in Columbia, Maryland. The soundboard mix is immaculate, and exceptional performances abound. 

The two shows are strong overall, and I’ve listened to them several times. However, as always, I think the best Dead minutes become even better, and a show’s stature greater, when you cut until you can’t bring yourself to cut anymore.

The only edits are segues to connect tracks toward the end of each of the two parts of the mix. There are crackles on a couple of songs that seem to be native to the sound boards. 

2.5-hour mp3 mix zipped up here (dates included in song titles)

Part One:

  • Shakedown Street >
  • Samson and Delilah
  • Walkin’ Blues
  • Big Railroad Blues
  • Looks Like Rain
  • My Brother Esau
  • Let It Grow
  • U.S. Blues
  • Sugar Magnolia

Part Two:

  • Scarlet Begonias >
  • Fire on the Mountain
  • Playin’ in the Band >
  • Uncle John’s Band
  • Drums > Space
  • The Other One
  • Good Lovin’
  • Satisfaction

Cover art: Framing photograph - JR Eyerman/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images. Inset detail: Yayoi Kusama

Grateful Dead: 4th Day of July (1981, 1984, 1986)

Although there’s a lot of Americana and flag-stuff associated with the Grateful Dead, The 4th of July is not strongly associated with the band as a show date.

That’s because, after 1969, the Grateful Dead didn’t play on the 4th of July until 1981. They then played the date repeatedly through the Eighties – 1984, 1986, 1987, 1989 (released), and 1990 - and then, never again.

Deadheads put a lot of weight on the circumstances of shows - venues, cities, seasons, eclipses, New Year’s Eve, etc. So, let’s shake that magic 8-ball of tapes for the 4th of July… all signs point to a real good time.

It turns out the band played a considerable amount of great stuff on 7/4 in the 1980s, captured on soundboards you can inhabit happily. In the mixes below, I’ve curated the 1981, 1984, and 1986 shows, tagging them as separate mixes/albums in the usual SYF “shortlist” way.

Enjoy them separately, or as a 2.75 hour Grateful Dead, Fourth of July soundtrack. 

2.75-hour mp3 download of all three mixes here

7/4/81: Austin, TX (63 minutes)

  • Jack Straw
  • Loser
  • Birdsong >
  • Playin’ in the Band
  • Feel Like a Stranger
  • Not Fade Away
  • One More Fourth of July

7/4/84: Cedar Rapids, IA (70 minutes)

  • Hell in a Bucket >
  • Don’t Ease Me In
  • Help on the Way > Slipknot! >
  • Franklin’s Tower
  • Estimated Prophet >
  • He’s Gone
  • Wharf Rat
  • U.S. Blues

7/4/86: Buffalo, NY (32 minutes)

  • Cold Rain and Snow >
  • Fire on the Mountain
  • The Wheel
  • Goin’ Down the Road, Feelin’ Bad
  • Dupree’s Diamond Blues


“>” above indicates an as-played, GD fast-change in the real-time performance, but not an actual musical segue, other than Help > Slip.

Grateful Dead: 30 Days of Dead - 1983

This mix includes every 1983 Dead track Dave Lemieux chose for the 2010-2021 “30 Days of Dead” releases. There have been a notable number of full-show, 1983 releases in this period, but these tracks are not on them.

Dave has served up a delicious 100-minute selection – something like a giant first set with a deeper dive. I wasn’t shy about leading off with 1983’s most notable breakout, setting the whole in motion as an impossible, but desirable trip.

These tracks are a reminder that among all the sterile, poorly-mixed early-80s soundboards, there are scores of tapes that are as beefy and immersible as those from any year, allowing the Dead of the era to make their case on even terms.

100-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • St. Stephen (10/15/83)
  • Bertha >
  • Greatest Story Ever Told (12/30/83)
  • Sugaree (10/17/83)
  • My Brother Esau (4/10/83)
  • Dupree’s Diamond Blues (4/19/83)
  • Jack Straw (3/26/83)
  • Far From Me (4/13/83)
  • Might as Well (4/10/83)
  • Cassidy (8/31/83)
  • To Lay Me Down (10/17/83)
  • Playin’ in the Band >
  • China Doll >
  • Playin’ Jam > Jam (8/31/83)
  • Don’t Ease Me In (8/31/83)

Editing notes:

Everything is volume equalized. I found numerous places to add gentle segues. I addressed a dramatic volume shift in “Jack Straw” and a tape gap in “Bertha.”

Grateful Dead: 30 Days of Dead - 1985

This mix includes all but two 1985 tracks released on “30 Days of Dead” (2010-2021). The omitted tracks are the 6/24/85 “Brother Esau,” released on “30 Trips,” and the 9/3/85 “Don’t Ease Me In,” cut to avoid song repetition.

Two 1985 concerts have been released in full: 6/24/85 on “30 Trips” and 11/1/85 as a “Dick’s Picks.”

There’s lot of 1985 fun to be had, when the band and soundboard recordings converge correctly. They do here - where Dave Lemieux has micro-curated four unreleased shows.

78-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Feel Like a Stranger (9/3/85)
  • They Love Each Other (9/3/85)
  • The Music Never Stopped (9/3/85)
  • Hell in a Bucket > (6/27/85)
  • Don’t Ease Me In (6/27/85)
  • Lost Sailor > Saint of Circumstance > (4/4/85)
  • Deal (4/4/85)
  • Estimated Prophet > (6/28/85)
  • Terrapin Station (6/28/85)

Aside from the two track-omissions noted above, the only editorial interventions were track start-and-end points, volume equalization, and sequencing.

Grateful Dead Shortlist: April 15, 1983 - Rochester, NY

This 44-minute mix captures the funky, disco side of the Dead on 4/15/83. It was the only show they ever played that included “Feel Like a Stranger,” “Shakedown Street,” and “Supplication” - and they’re all very nice takes!

Additionally, the “Brother Esau” is superb and slinky, and the “Deal” is fiery. 

This is a hit and miss show: Great sound, but frequent annoying performance errors, some creaky vocals, and some slow songs that really droop. Dave Lemieux added the show’s “He’s Gone > Bob Star” as a bonus track to “Dave’s Picks” #39.

I think that with these additional tracks, you’ve probably got all you need from this show.

44-minute mp3 mix zipped up here

  • Feel Like a Stranger
  • Shakedown Street
  • My Brother Esau
  • Supplication
  • Deal

Cover image swiped from Wicked Grateful. You can buy a sticker here.

Grateful Dead: 1982 Summer Tour Mixtape #5 (Fire)

This 5th (of 5) Grateful Dead Summer ’82 mixtapes focusses on jams and improvisation. 

It draws heavily from the only released show from this tour – 7/31/82, Austin, TX. On that basis, the mix might be of less interest to some, but I’ve attempted to mutate things into a unique trip.

The Austin “Eyes” and “Dew” appear unaltered. The “Estimated” and “Truckin’” appear in jam-only edits, because their song-stems were nothing special, while the variable parts were. The “Scarlet > Fire” has been interrupted to include all three of the “Scarlet” jams from the tour, so if you’ve ever wanted to listen to that jam for 19 minutes straight, here you go.

From other shows, I have included two free-standing jams, a silky “Supplication,” and a 20-minute “Playin’”. This “Playin’” is an edit of the 7/27 Red Rocks performance, which was played in three pieces across the second set; I’ve put those pieces together. Look out for Weir and Mydland improvising vocals early in the jam.

110-minute mp3 mix zipped up here (dates and cities included in mp3 tags)

  • Scarlet Begonias
  • Scarlet Jam
  • Scarlet Jam
  • Scarlet Jam >
  • Fire on the Mountain
  • Eyes of the World
  • Playin’ in the Band
  • Supplication
  • Jam
  • Jam after Terrapin
  • Estimated Prophet Jam
  • Jam > Truckin’ Jam >
  • Morning Dew

You can find all five of the mixtapes from the tour here.

Grateful Dead: 1982 Summer Tour Mixtape #4 (A Real Good Time)

This 4th (of 5) Grateful Dead Summer ’82 mixtapes is exactly what the subtitle indicates. It corrals mostly up-tempo, feel-good numbers on which fiery performances and good soundboard mixes combined to create a real good time. You get to slow down your dancing and catch your breath at “Tennessee Jed” and “They Love Each Other.” 

There’s a bit of a 1st-set > 2nd set trajectory, with “Playin’ in the Band” making one of three appearances on these tour mixes, because it was a very good moment for that jam. This mix also includes another fine example of Jerry’s enthusiasm for cooking up interesting leads in “Space” during this tour. "Not Fade Away" makes its second (and final) appearance on the mixes, in the most jammed-out version.

This mixtape is the fourth of five drawn from the tour, which I’m numbering and posting in no particular order. Each tries to provide a different angle on the music. They’ll collect under the blog tag GD Summer ’82. 

106-minute mp3 mix zipped up here (dates and venues included in mp3 tags)

  • China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider
  • The Music Never Stopped (reprise)
  • Cumberland Blues
  • Franklin’s Tower
  • Tennessee Jed
  • They Love Each Other
  • Playin’ in the Band >
  • Iko Iko
  • Improv: Jerry Has Some Ideas > 
  • Improv: Jerry’s Big Idea >
  • Not Fade Away
  • Sugar Magnolia
  • Casey Jones

Grateful Dead: 1982 Summer Tour Mixtape #3 (Starlight)

This mix offers a single-CD-length trip through exceptional performances from the Grateful Dead’s second set at the Starlight Theatre, in Kansas City, MO, on 8/3/82. The soundboard mix is as great as the music.

Listening intently to the Dead’s Summer ’82 tour, I didn’t find any continuous stretches of performance as exceptional as this night's second set. (The Austin show’s second set is close - possibly a tie.) Additionally, there are a number of great first set performances from Kansas City that I sprinkled across the other SYF Summer ’82 mixtapes. 

The tracks included here are a continuous performance with two omissions: “Drums” are distorted on the soundboard, and the wonderful “To Lay Me Down,” which appeared between “Samson” and “Let It Grow,” has been relocated to the lead song position on this mix, where it can shine more brightly. I was able to create a seamless segue between “Let It Grow” and “Jam.”

The result is a huge, one-night jam that begins with what is arguably the single best live execution of “Shakedown Street,” all factors considered – Garcia's vocals being the toughest box to check. This whole Summer ’82 excavation began with David Leopold (@pknot) pointing me at this “Shakedown,” so, many thanks to him.

This mixtape is the third of five drawn from the tour, which I’m numbering and posting in no particular order. Each tries to provide a different angle on the music. With exceptions for “Playin’” and “The Other One,” no songs are repeated. They’ll collect under the blog tag GD Summer ’82. 

76-minute mp3 experience zipped up here (date and venue included in mp3 tags)

  • Shakedown Street >
  • Samson and Delilah
  • Let It Grow
  • Jam >
  • He’s Gone >
  • The Other One >
  • Stella Blue