Monday, June 7, 2010

Monday Dead 1-20-1979 Buffalo, NY

So for this Monday in Dead-story we are hitting back to the winter of 1979.  We have had such beautiful weather today in the city, a cool morning going to 70 degrees this evening, I figured why not look to some of the coldest shows, Buffalo in January?  Safe to say it was freezing outside...but the playing in Shea's Theater was HOT, as this excellent recording.

Today's show is 1-20-1979 which can be found at that link or listen to it right c'here:

This is perhaps the best audience recording I heard of the fellas, this show is amazing, and you can see Charlie Miller commented that this has been remastered twice, but nothing has been lost from the sound, in fact a ton has been gained.  You get the full range of the band, a touch of the crowd, and the energy from the night leaks through everywhere.

A quick "Promised Land" opener gets the show going, but the magic really starts with the 12 minute "Sugaree".  This one has it all Jerry's high fret board wizardry backed tastefully by Bobby on slide and the easy drumming of Billy; a real highlight of this first set.  Feeling good in the laid back workouts finds "Peggy-O" in majestic form as well...Garcia was simply on this night. 
His playing and singing are really top notch and that is needed as this was a very stressful time in the bands history.  Supposedly this is the first night of Donna and Keith's break-up and while this must have been devastating for them as people the rest of the band seemed to grow a bit tighter.  Donna is not at this show, and honestly you can barely hear Keith, and with the quality of this recording it seems like he was absent.  While I know they both played shows with the Dead for the next two weeks (last show was 2/17) it seems like they checked out here mentally, the only time in the first set I hear him really contributing is during the late "Minglewood Blues" and he really only shows up for "Dark Star" in the second set.

That said though the group pulled together that much tighter with Captain Garcia driving the bus like no other... Really some fine axe work here, just peep the first sets "All Over Now" double solos that he pulls out, and I should also mention Bobby's slide playing on this night which is inventive and adds a lot to the songs, something he wasn't always known for.  Two of my favorite tunes end the first set with "Stagger Lee" and "Jack Straw" these versions aren't all time classics, Jerry forgets some lyrics, but they set the tone for a great second set.

A huge bombing of "I Need a Miracle" starts a blazing run of tunes, with the band propelling into the stratosphere with a huge second set, see that Mammoth skull on the poster?  It was a harbinger of the mammoth second set to come..."Too much of everything is just enough".

Bertha is a bit all over the place as you can tell the band is excited, when they immediately cowbell it up with some "Good Lovin'".  "Loser" makes a rare 2nd set appearance and is punctuated by Garcia's weeping notes before a big "Estimated Prophet" cruises into town.  This tune would really gain steam when Brent would soon join the band, but it is a fun ride here with it's warbling guitar flights...then begins the jelly with a sweet segue into..."The Other One" rumbling out into the Buffalo night with "Drums" and "Space" lurking in the wings.     
The "Jam Out of Space" is interesting here, but it acts more as an intro back into "The Other One" and I would have probably just called it "The Other One" if I was labeling this on a snazzy tape cover...
  After that brief dip back into "The Other One" we get the surprise of the set...."Dark Star" and what a surprise it is...the crowd goes nuts for this selection by the fellas.  Having been revived by the band in late 1978, this version has Jerry spazzing out with nice touches by Keith and Phil bombing along, getting freaky around the 8 minute mark.  A cool treat before segueing into a light and airy version of "Not Fade Away" and a rocking set closing  "Sugar Magnolia".  The encore of One More Saturday night is electric, like this pristine audience recording and must have sent the Buffalo deadheads away with a smile...a great show and a fun listen to hear just how dynamic Jerry can be on guitar during a transitional phase in the Dead's career.  Enjoy. 


  1. Hi,

    I work with the L Magazine and we are currently gearing up to put on another Northside Festival here in NYC at the end of the month. This year they have some pretty great bands, but they are also sweetening the pot by giving out a bunch of free passes, and a brand new iPad to a lucky winner. It’s a pretty cool prize and I was thinking that maybe some of the Rock the Body Electric readers might be interested in checking out the competition and the festival. It would be great if you can give it a shout on the blog, it’s a cool festival for NY and we are really excited about getting the word out about it this year.

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    All the best,


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