Posts Tagged ‘Grateful Dead’

Interview with Keith Olsen 8/9/77

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020

Bob Weir, Keith Olsen, and Davd Gans

Photo by Ed Perlstein

Producer Keith Olsen has died.

Here is a partial transcript of the interview I did with him on August 9, 1977 at Sound City in Van Nuys CA, while he and Bob Weir were working on Heaven Help the Fool.

[Talking about interview with San Francisco Chronicle’s Joel Selvin, which took place just as KO returned from England with the Terrapin Station orchestrations.] I had just gotten back from England, and here I was with a whole bunch of stuff that the band had never heard: a 58-page score of strings and horns and a 32-voice choir…

The Grateful Dead were overwhelmed: “Oh my god, we’ve lost the band.” I [had done] a mix at Abbey Road… wanting to hear every note that everybody played. The strings and the horns were excruciatingly loud in the mix compared to where they should be. They’d never heard a string mix before… It’s quite a shock, especially when you have no idea what this short weirdo from Los Angeles, California is going to do to your song. All I could do with Jerry was sing him a bunch of parts that I heard, and say, “This is what I’m going to be writing with Paul Buckmaster.” Then you get over there, and Paul Buckmaster being Paul Buckmaster – what a mind!

Those lines are very much Jerry’s melody lines. The woodwinds and reeds are just a counterpoint to it. When he first heard it, we didn’t have the melody yet; the melody was his guitar, and we just had the strings. I said, “Don’t worry.”

We learned a lot in section rehearsals up at Front Street. They were learning a song, but something seemed weird about it. When everybody went off to get a bite to eat, I asked the drummers and Phil to come back. I sez “Okay, let’s run down the tune.”

“What? No guitars? No voices?”

“Sure. You all know where you are.” All of a sudden they had to start thinking… Billy’s going [whispers] “Mickey, how many bars til the bridge?”

I said, “Don’t worry about it – don’t count the bars – it’s got to be a unit.” In the section rehearsal, it just clicked. Without anything else happening in the room, Phil was the instrument that had to play the chord changes.

Phil is a very inventive bass player, and he’s also a super-intelligent person. Duty called! “My god, it’s me! I’m now the rhythm guitar player; I’m holding down the bottom of this tune; I’m also setting any internal rhythm of this tune – any focus on where the chord change is going is all focused on me” – and it clicked. He just fell right into it. To switch into a focused space, he was the easiest one of all. It was amazing.

It allows Weir to do a more inventive rhythm guitar part, where he doesn’t have to be down there at the bottom coppin’ the bass note, the low E string all the time, to make sure there’s a good fundamental; the fundamental’s there, or it’s passed through in a passing tone, always leading to what the next chord is, without any doubt in the listener’s ear. Phil got right into it, and Bob just said, “Great! Here I go.”

Working with two drummers took a long time at first. Being able to translate from live performance, when you can get away with a lot, to the studio – and these little extensions of our ears called microphones, that are a quarter of an inch off a snare drum, quarter of an inch off each bass drum head. Here you have two snare drums, two bass drums, eight tom-toms, 15 cymbals. That’s a pretty giant set! Where is the beat? The feel was inconsistent, depending on who hit first and hardest. I’m talking about milliseconds. The difference of feel between an upbeat and a backbeat… When you have a drummer that is naturally on the back side of the beat, and one on top of the beat… That’s the two colors of the drummers. Something’s got to give. You have to pick the person who’s right for the feel of the tune – which drummer’s doing to be the most solid, have that drummer be the pulse and let the other drummer be the color. That’s really the stuff that Mickey does the best: the color. I used Billy for snare drum and bass drum and pulse, pretty much on the entire album,.

On preparing to work with the Grateful Dead

I remembered what they sounded like when I heard them play live once, several years ago, and they blew me away they were so good. I always wondered why they couldn’t get that on record.

I listened through Blues for Allah once, and I think I gave it away to a friend. It wasn’t very well done, I told them. It seemed like they rushed through it, and then I found out afterwards that they spent five months recording that album.

Five months, really? Then Garcia said, “Let me rephrase that: we spent four and a half months trying to figure out what we should do first, and then the last two weeks recording.” Garcia’a so great. [laughs]

Production by committee is really hard; record-making by committee is really hard. It can work, but the instances of it working are very few and far between.

I’m really pleased with [Terrapin Station]. There were some trying moments, when we really had to grind away to figure out if what we were doing was right. It was a fine line. I didn’t want to dictate to the Dead, ’cause I would destroy a rapport. I didn’t want to let them dictate to me what was going to on the record. I wanted every performance to come out of them, but be open to ideas like… Tom Scott doing a solo on “Estimated Prophet.”

Jerry had never really done any harmony solos, and he got off doin’ ’em. “This is fun!” And he knows his electronics so well. He paid a bunch of money for that Slave Driver 360, which is a function generator that gave us that [sings line from the end of “Lady with a Fan”]. He had it sitting in here for three hours, idling, with signs that said, “Do not touch!” To let it get stable. That thing was crazy: when you play a note, you trigger a bunch of little ICs that say, “He’s playing an E and he’s wiggling it, so I’m going to give a control voltage to the oscillator in something down the line, and I will tell it to play an E and wiggle it.” It’s a most amazing piece of gear; it’s a frequency-to-voltage converter.

[discussion of Les Paul technique of playing a solo over the tape at half speed, used in “Terrapin Flyer”]

“Terrapin Transit” is there to destroy any thought you had about constant tempo – even though it was written and conducted in exactly the same tempo as the tune that preceded it. The violins were on, I think, an 8-beat cycle, the violas on a 7-beat cycle, the cellos in 6, and the second violins in 5… You can click your fingers right through that whole thing.

Weir is an accomplished rhythm guitar player. It’s an art that has been forgotten by too many people in this industry. Rhythm guitar is hard to play! It’s an integral part of making music….

Making the Grateful Dead accessible to people throughout the country in different walks of life and different musical tastes… Garcia has been such an underrated guitarist – he’s so melodic, and the ease of playing… I’ve seen that for years in the band, and I’ve just always wished that band could make a record that I could enjoy.

Dino English on the Grateful Dead’s drummers

Saturday, February 8th, 2020

Last week on Tales from the Golden Road we had a caller asking about drumming – a topic about which this guitarist isn’t nearly as well-informed as I’d like. Later in the program we got a call from Dino English, one of Dark Star Orchestra‘s drummers, adding lots of useful information to the topic. And this week, Dino sent me some more info by email to share with the world.

Here’s Dino:

David,

Just to continue the drum discussion… listening to Betty Board of 10-2-77 off archive…

So this Betty board has Billy snare, kick and toms mostly on left while Mickey snare and toms Mostly on right. Betty [Cantor-Jackson], as well as Dan [Healy], would place stuff as if you were looking at the stage for the most part except Jerry and Bass generally up middle with keys on one side and Bob guitar on the opposite. In this case the keys are hard left, Bob fairly hard right.

First song, Casey Jones, if you put the phones on, you can clearly hear both drummers hitting the back beat at the same time. Both of them hitting the backbeat at the same time happened quite a bit … especially in the 70’s before Mickey started going more world beatish in the 80’s where he would hit a back beat on the toms more. He did do it in the 70’s as well but it was especially prominent after Mickey moved his big Tom to left and right above his snare is the later 80’s

On Jack Straw on this recording you can hear Mickey play backbeats on the toms as well and some snare back beats here and there.

Brown Eyed, on this recording, you have them both hitting back beats on snare.

Even though they are playing similar parts, it still adds to the over depth of the texture.

And of course in general, Mickey was the primary tom fill guy, while Billy driving the groove. Quite often they would trade up who is on hi hats and the other would play ride. But there was certainly times when they both played hi hat or ride at the same time.

They would sometimes fill at the same time as well with a similar rhythm (such as 16th note theme) or quite often Mickey would start and Billy would finish.

But yes, it was all in the purpose of serving whatever song it was they were currently playing. And giving each other space. They were clearly playing together rather than what quite often happens when you get two drummers together where one or both of the them wants to turn it into a drum battle while shitting all over the music.

*

And I should also throw in that on occasion, the channels accidentally got switched by the tapers if they got a board feed and mixed up right and left inputs. Then you’d have Billy on the right and Mickey on the left. But that’s clearly a mistake, as you can hear it if you dial into the same show with an audience recording where the right and left is clear.

And also you can tell it’s wrong by just knowing how they mixed. Both Dan and Betty have told me they mix as if looking at the stage. They both have their differences of how extreme things are panned. Dan tended to go extreme hard left and right with snare kick and hats and the overheads would work as a unifier of sorts with Billy’s right overhead and Mickeys left overhead being almost center (from the perspective of looking at the stage).  … while Betty would not quite pan the snare that extreme. 

I’ve tried to point this out to Charlie Miller at times (with varying results).

On a side note, Dan would make some exceptions. He would hard pan Mickey’s floor toms hard right when if looking at the stage they would be center. He said he did this because the floor toms took up too much sonic space.  

One thing that often seems to be true as well with all this stuff… there are always exceptions to the case. These are all things that developed over time and as with the music, very rarely would things stay the same. 

(added later)
I should mention the cowbell since it can be a pretty predominant part. On many tunes Mickey would often play the cowbell and toms as a textual thing while Billy held down the beat with a kick, snare, hi hat thing. That would be a classic example of them playing very different parts. Examples of this would be Let It Grow or Scarlet > Fire. 

Grateful Dead Hour no. 1592

Sunday, March 24th, 2019

Week of March 25, 2019

Part 1 16:43
Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band, Acoustic on the Eel (Round Records)
FRIEND OF THE DEVIL
Bob Weir & Wolf Bros 2/28/19 State Theater, Ithaca NY
BOMBS AWAY

Part 2 38:23
Grateful Dead 12/2/81 U of I Assembly Hall, Champaign-Urbana IL
BERTHA->
GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD
FENNARIO
MAMA TRIED->
MEXICALI BLUES
BROWN-EYED WOMEN
PASSENGER

A couple of months ago I got a package from Candace Brightman, who was the Grateful Dead’s lighting designer for more than 20 years. The box contained a handful of cassettes she had found in a closet, and she thoughtfully sent them along to me in case there was anything worth putting on the radio. Here’s one of those tapes – set 1 of December 2, 1981 at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. We’ll hear the rest of set 1 next week (but I don’t have set 2, sorry to say). Enjoy!

Support for the Grateful Dead Hour comes from:

The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York. Lettuce comes to The Cap on Saturday, 4/20 with their classic funk, smooth and soulful grooves, and hip-hop-inspired beats. On Thursday, April 25, Nile Rodgers & CHIC come for a disco dance party at The Cap. The Fab Faux play fan favorites and music from the Beatles solo years at The Cap on Saturday, May 4. Every Wednesday is Grateful Dead night at Garcia’s, The Capitol Theatre’s venue-within-a-venue. Events, information, and ticketing at thecapitoltheatre.com.

Airshow Mastering, putting the finishing touches on new and classic music, including recent releases by the Grateful Dead, Mandolin Orange, Robben Ford and Bill Evans, Keller Williams, Fragile Thunder, and Victor Krummenacher.

KPFA’s annual Grateful Dead marathon 3/2/19

Thursday, February 28th, 2019

Saturday, March 2, 2019, 9am to 1am Pacific Time
Broadcast live on KPFA 94.1.fm Berkeley CA, KFCF 88.1 Fresno CA, and K248BR 97.5 FM Santa Cruz CA
Streamed live on kpfa.org, gdradio.net, and nugs.net
Hosted by Tim Lynch, David Gans, and David Ogilvy
Featuring unreleased Grateful Dead concerts, miscellaneous audio treats, and live performances by Joe Craven & The Sometimers and the Fragile Thunder Duo.

PLAYLIST updated as we go…

DONATE ONLINE at kpfa.org, or call 1-800-439-5732
Thank-you gifts include music, concert tickets, coffee – and t-shirts by Darrin Brenner!

Phone room volunteers are welcome – just come on down! We’ll treat you to caramels and chocolates by Lillie Belle Farms and coffee from Grateful Beans!

THANKS TO:
Charlie Miller
Tony Ferro
Brooke Caputo
Kevin Cartwright
Katie Tertocha
Quincy McCoy
Phil Osegueda
Darrin Brenner / D Brenner Art and Design
Dan Bern
Stephen Inglis
John Whalen / gdradio.net
Brad Serling / nugs.net
Stuart Steinhardt
Beauty’s Bagel Shop
Jeff Shepherd / Lillie Belle Farms
Sandy Hall / Grateful Beans and Leaves
Chef Jeff Rosen / Blue Heron Catering

KPFA GD marathon results

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

The 2017 KPFA Grateful Dead Marathon raised more than $30,000 for listener-sponsored, independent radio! Thank you!

Innumerable kindnesses transpired all over the globe in service of this cause. This link will take you to a long list of people who contributed to the Marathon. Our thanks to all of them, and hooray for all of us!

Here is the playlist.

KPFA’s annual Grateful Dead marathon 3/11/17

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

KPFA’s annual Grateful Dead fund-raising marathon!
Hosts: David Gans and Tim Lynch

Saturday, March 11, 2017, 9am to 1am Pacific time
Broadcast live on KPFA 94.1 in northern California; streaming live at kpfa.org, nugs.net, and gdradio.net

Call 1-800-439-5732 or donate online at kpfa.org

Here’s some general info
And here’s the playlist, updated as the day progresses

T-shirt by Papa Lindsey

2017_KPFA_GreenFront

Bob Weir at Club Front Nov 1981

Monday, December 5th, 2016

Here are two photos of Bob Weir that I took at Club Front in November of 1981. I am offering them as 8×10 prints on Epson Ultra Premium Luster paper.

You can order 1 for $30 or both for $50. They will be signed and numbered. Size of the edition will be determined by the number of orders.

weir-a_sm

weir-b_sm


options




John Conroy Images

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

Keith Godchaux 5/25/74

I ran across John Conroy‘s excellent photos the other day, and he was kind enough to share this one along with a link to more of his photos. This picture of Keith Godchaux was taken at the UC Santa Barbara stadium on May 25, 1974 (a show I also attended!); there are more images from that day that I know you’ll like, along with lots of other interesting stuff. Check ’em out!

Grateful Dead Hour no. 1456

Sunday, August 14th, 2016

Week of August 15, 2016

Part 1 35:41
Grateful Dead 12/30/87 Oakland Coliseum Arena
HEY POCKY WAY
BIG BOSS MAN
GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD
FRIEND OF THE DEVIL
MAMA TRIED->
MEXICALI BLUES

Part 2 20:00
Dead & Company 7/29/16 Toyota Amphitheater, Wheatland CA
MORNING DEW->
CASEY JONES

Dead & Company live shows are available in a variety of digital formats (download and CD) from livedead.co

Support for the Grateful Dead Hour comes this week from:

Love Some Tea – grown and harvested naturally in Northern Thailand by the Mung Hilltribe people. These plantation-free teas are flavored by hand, with all natural ingredients. Love Some Tea is sustainable hand-grown tea, and all the founders are Deadheads.

The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York. On Thursday, September 8, The Cap will host Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers. Hornsby played over 100 shows with the Grateful Dead, including last summer’s legendary 50th anniversary “Fare Thee Well” shows. It’s a rare opportunity to see Bruce Hornsby at one of Jerry Garcia’s favorite venues. Events, information, and ticketing at thecapitoltheatre.com.

“TIAAD” featurette @ Maxim

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

From maxim.com:

10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About The Grateful Dead

Trip out with tasty nuggets from the new oral history of the Dead, This Is All a Dream We Dreamed.

More on the book on the Macmillan web site.

Grateful Dead Hour no. 1415

Sunday, November 1st, 2015

Week of November 2, 2015

Part 1 41:33
Grateful Dead 3/14/82 Recreation Hall, UC Davis CA
ONE MORE SATURDAY NIGHT->
SUGAREE
ME AND MY UNCLE->
MEXICALI BLUES
BIRD SONG >
LITTLE RED ROOSTER

Part 2 14:48
Grateful Dead, 30 Trips Around the Sun: The Definitive Live Story (10/3/76)
SCARLET BEGONIAS

Support for the Grateful Dead Hour comes this week from:

Dead and Company – Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart, John Mayer, Jeff Chimenti and Oteil Burbridge – on tour from coast to coast November 11 through December 31. Complete details and ticketing at www.deadandcompany.com. That’s Dead and Company, on tour from November 11 through New Year’s Eve.

The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York. With a focus on live improvisation and unexplored extended grooves, moe. plays a two-night stand at The Capitol Theatre on Friday, November 13 and Saturday, November 14. For events, information, and ticketing visit thecapitoltheatre.com.

Coming soon: an Oral History of the Grateful Dead

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

This Is All a Dream We Dreamed

Publication date is November 10.

Here is the Goodreads page for the book, and here is the publisher’s page. Both include links to several purchase options.

Publisher’s Weekly gave us a good review:

This Is All a Dream We Dreamed: An Oral History of the Grateful Dead
Blair Jackson and David Gans
Flatiron, $32.99 (528p) ISBN 978·1·250·05856·0

This epic oral history of the 50-year-old band is timed to coincide with five massively hyped “Fare Thee Well” concerts. The straightforward approach by Jackson and Gans (who collectively boast almost 80 years of Grateful Dead journalism) uses multiple perspectives to tell the story of a group that began as a San Francisco jug band of penniless hippies, morphed through multiple musical incarnations, and created a colorful psychedelic subculture. The more than 100 voices here include members of the Dead – including deceased guitarist/ de facto leader Jerry Garcia, and keyboardists Ron “Pigpen” McKernan and Brent Mydland – and their collaborators as well as business partners and fans. Jackson and Gans relied on new and archival interviews, as well as other published and unpublished sources. To their credit, the authors focus as much on the creation, recording, and marketing of music as they do on the ingestion of hallucinogens. The result is a solid, engaging chronicle.

Kirkus Reviews: also quite favorable!

THIS IS ALL A DREAM WE DREAMED [STARRED REVIEW!] An Oral History of the Grateful Dead
Author: Blair Jackson
Author: David Gans

Review Issue Date: September 1, 2015
Online Publish Date: August 15, 2015
Publisher:Flatiron Books
Pages: 528
Price ( Hardcover ): $32.99
Publication Date: November 10, 2015
ISBN ( Hardcover ): 978-1-250-05856-0
Category: Nonfiction

Coming on its 50th anniversary and just after the band’s farewell tour, an engaging, near-comprehensive oral history of the Grateful Dead. If “the Grateful Dead” and “disco” are not phrases that go together, it’s not for want of their trying. As Jackson (Grateful Dead Gear—The Band’s Instruments, Sound Systems, and Recording Sessions, from 1965 to 1995, 2006, etc.) and musician Gans (Conversations with the Dead: The Grateful Dead Interview Book, 1991, etc.) — collectors and archivists who know as much as nearly anyone alive about the storied band—chronicle, midway into the 1970s, with albums such as “From the Mars Hotel” and “Wake of the Flood” under their belts, the Dead were enough under the sway of Saturday Night Fever to attempt a disco-ish take on “Dancing in the Street.” Chalk it up to Mickey Hart, one of the many thorns in this thorny narrative hide, whose return to the band wrought big changes. “We had to tell him [what to play],” said guitarist Bob Weir in 1977, “which means we had to be thinking about it, which means while we were thinking about it, we might as well rethink things in general.” As fans already know but will further note, the superficially peace-and-love demeanor of the Dead disguised all sorts of tensions, from personality clashes to money worries and differences over musical direction. But it all worked, despite Jerry Garcia’s drug use and increasingly erratic behavior. Says sound tech Bob Bralove, “The energy around [the last tour with Garcia] was kind of confusing, because there was this really positive energy coming from the band, but it was missing a key ingredient.” For all that, there’s plenty of peace and love here and lots of smoke and psychedelia, as well as the usual Altamont regrets, all voiced by people in and close to the band. Worthy of Studs Terkel and an essential addition to the books of the Dead.

8/13/15 audio and video archives

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

We had a great time saluting One from the Vault at the original venue on the 40th anniversary of the show!

Here is a link to the video archive on moonalice.com
Here is a link to a “matrix” (audience and soundboard mix) recording by Michael Zelner
Here is a link to the torrent version of Zelner’s recording.
Jambase’s review of the show

Set list:

Cassidy->
Cold Rain and Snow->
Cassidy
Loser
Brown-Eyed Women
Shakedown Street

Intro by Harry Duncan->
Help on the Way->
Slipknot!->
Franklin’s Tower

Big River – Roger McNamee

Sage and Spirit – Teja Gerken (solo)

It Must Have Been The Roses – Alex Bleeker & Kyle Field
Eyes of the World – Alex Bleeker & Kyle Field

The Music Never Stopped – Grahame Lesh, Mark Karan
Crazy Fingers – Grahame Lesh, James Nash

King Solomon’s Marbles – Totally Dead

Blues For Allah – Henry Kaiser quartet + vox

The Other One – David Gans, James Nash, Mark Karan

Sugaree – Mark Karan
Around and Around – David Gans
US Blues – David Gans

Goin’ Down The Road Feelin’ Bad – All hands
Brokedown Palace – all hands

HOUSE BAND:
Mark Karan, guitar and vocals
James Nash, guitar and vocals
David Gans, guiTar And Vocals
Danny Eisenberg, keyboards
Robin Sylvester, bass
Neil Hampton, drums
Elliott Peck, vocals

August 13, 1975 salute on August 13, 2015

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

IMG_0390
The backdrop from the 1975 show will be in the house in 2015!

August 13 2015/1975: A celebration of 40 years since the Grateful Dead’s legendary “One From The Vault” performance @ GAMH

This special evening features Mark Karan, Robin Sylvester, James Nash, Neil Hampton, David Gans, Totally Dead (Will McCosker – drums, Dave Gantenbein – bass, Ned Patchett – guitar & vocals, Matt Salata – guitar & vocals, Jaime Cintado – keys & vocals, Eileen Flynn Bell – vocals), Teja Gerken, Alex Bleeker (Real Estate), Jason Crosby (Doobie Decibel System), Kyle Field (Little Wings), Elliott Peck, Roger McNamee (Doobie Decibel System), Cochrane McMillan (Tea Leaf Green), Danny Eisenberg, Henry Kaiser with Bob Bralove, Scott Amendola & Michael Manring, Grahame Lesh, Harry Duncan plus special guests.

UPDATE: The event will be live streamed!!

One From the Vault is a live album by the Grateful Dead, recorded on August 13, 1975 at the Great American Music Hall, and released April 15, 1991 on Grateful Dead Records. The concert was broadcast on FM radio, widely traded by fans on cassettes, and sold in bootleg LP versions under the titles Urubouros Deedni Mublasaron and Make Believe Ballroom. But it was not until the Grateful Dead released it on their eponymous record label that high-quality versions of the songs appeared. It was the first complete concert recording released commercially by the band. The concert also marked the first time that the then recently released album Blues for Allah was performed live in its entirety, albeit with a few other songs thrown in.

Order tickets here!

Dead to the World 4/8/15

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

Greatest Story Ever Told
Deal
Mr. Charlie
Black Throated Wind
China Cat Sunflower->
I Know You Rider
Mexicali Blues
Tennessee Jed
The Stranger (Two Souls in Communion)
Me and Bobby McGee
Loser
Big Boss Man
Jack Straw
Big Railroad Blues
Looks Like Rain
Casey Jones
Grateful Dead March 22, 1972 Academy of Music, New York NY

Walking in the Middle of ItBob Bralove’s Psychedelic Circus, Davis CA 2014

Banana Boat Song (Day-O)Tip of the Freberg: The Stan Freberg Collection 1951-1998