This week Deadstein found itself celebrating the 25th anniversary of the great July 12, 1987 Dead/Dylan show at Giants Stadium. It was good that all of Deadstein was there to celebrate and try to recreate this great show which all of us, with the exception of Kevin, attended. We all had great memories of the show and having the privilege to try to play it was and honor.
I had prepared for the week nicely in that I broke out my cassette master from the show and digitized and mastered it for distribution to the band. It was one of the great sounding tape I had ever made. Patching out of my friend Tom’s Sennheiser 441’s located close to the stage in front of the board gave the tape great energy, presence and sound. From second 1 of the Hell in a Bucket, you could tell both the Grateful Dead and the Giants Stadium crowd was in for something epic.
In addition to distributing the music to everyone I also had to chart out several new songs to Deadstein that we never played before. Of the 31-song 3-set show, we would have a nice handful of songs that were new to us. In the Grateful Dead world we had the Tons of Steel and it was really a nice experience to play. It worked for us. In the Dylan world we had Tomorrow is Such a Long Time, Highway 61, John Brown, Wicked Messenger and Chimes of Freedom. These were all new songs for us and even when we got to these Dylan songs late into the night they were played with gusto; much better than I would have expected; a really nice night of music.
Having to attempt to play 31 songs in three sets, excluding drums and space, is a bit more than can realistically be done in 4 hours of studio time but I was determined to try. I was rushing in and out of songs throughout the night, much to the detriment to the beginning of many of them, but a bit a urgency was needed. I thought that was the energy of the night 25 years ago anyway. The Bucket was a mess at the beginning due to this but by the end of it I think we got it as a band. So not to digress into self-loathing and as the show dictated, we went right into theWest LAwhich set us straight for the night and was a good Deadstein effort. We went old-school with the Greatest Story which Donna D, one of our guests seemed to enjoy.
Other guests from the night included Steve and Lindsey who caught our 2nd set and part of the 3rd sets. By the time they left it was time ever-so annoying Scott Bayer to show up.
The room sound seemed especially good this night, I was able to hear Rich’s piano much better than usual and the vocals were even coming through short of a very infrequent squeal.
We continued to ram through the first set finishing the 10 song powerhouse in about an hour. It felt good and was a nice sprint through 10 songs that almost felt like one big one. We took the quick break and started the 2nd set with the Morning Dew and had a meaningful Playing, drums, space Other One that represented the extend of our real jamming for the night. The Stella Blue, Throwing Stones, Not Fade Away were the close to the classic quick set getting us prepared for Dylan set.
As had to be the case, we did have enough time to complete the entire Dylan set, with double encore in the allotted time. We made a great attempt though as we played hard and fast; not wasting anytime between songs. I did cut a verse or two from the songs here and there and the leads were all short, but besides that, these Dylan songs were all pretty beefy and took a lot to play.
Slow Train has been in the Deadstein repertoire for years and so has Memphis Blues, so that got us going with the Dylan stuff and the momentum from this start got us through the two new songs to come next. Tomorrow’s Such and Long Time and Highway 61 were really a lot of fun to do. I got to give Kevin credit for holding up nicely through all these Dylan songs that he did really know. As I stated before, he was the only one that wasn’t at this show
Baby Blue and Ballad of a Thin Man are also songs we do which also helped get us through, the simple and groovy new songs to follow; John brown and Wicked messenger. Again, I was kind of surprised how good these were for us to play. I was kind of shocked how we got it and played it with the type of feeling I sensed from the show 25 years ago. Queen Jane seemed funny to do at that time of the night, but that is what was on tap and we went into the last of the new songs, Chimes of Freedom at about 11:55 which carried us through the 12-midnight deadline. Like all the other new songs of the night, the freshness and fun of the Chimes of Freedom was flashing. This song had quick chord changes and kept us on out toes and almost had a little Reggae beat to it. There were lots of words to spit out and I got most of them. This was a real challenge as the eyes really begin to blur by that time of the night. I many respects I was amazed how well I was able to get through all the words and they came upon me in the book at breakneck speeds in the time of music.
Alan and I looked at each other after the Chimes of Freedom and thinking how could we abandon the Watchtower which was such an epic moment of the concert. With that we decided to extend the am into the next day as we played the Watchtower and the Times They Are a Changing to end the night. Even at this late hour both renditions were worthy of the effort.
July 12, 1987 was an epic show and recreating its vibe 25 years later was an epic challenge and one I was very happy to undertake. It got me to break out the cassette, crank some great sounding Grateful Dead, master the cassette with my great new tools and enjoy learning how to play these songs. With the 5 new songs I now have established a new working version of the Jerry Garcia Song Book version 9, to one-day replace the existing version 8, sooner than later. Iteration in the 21st century is quick. Before I put my box of cassettes away and put the old Sony D5 back into basic storage, I saw a nice little cassette from Madison Square Garden 9-18-87 that I think I’m going to give my mastering treatment to my master.
To listen to the MP3s of Deadstein playing the tribute the the 7-12-87 show, use the links below.
- 01 Hell In A Bucket.mp3
- 02 West LA Fadeaway.mp3
- 03 Greatest Story Ever Told.mp3
- 04 Loser.mp3
- 05 Tons Of Steel.mp3
- 06 Ramble On Rose.mp3
- 07 When I Paint My Masterpiece.mp3
- 08 When Push Comes To Shove.mp3
- 09 Promised Land.mp3
- 10 Bertha.mp3
- 11 Morning Dew.mp3
- 12 Playing In The Band.mp3
- 13 Drumz ‘n’ Spaced.mp3
- 14 The Other One.mp3
- 15 Stella Blue.mp3
- 16 Throwing Stones.mp3
- 17 Not Fade Away.mp3
- 18 Slow Train Coming.mp3
- 19 Memphis Blues.mp3
- 20 Tomorrow’s Such A Long Time.mp3
- 21 Highway 61 Revisited.mp3
- 22 It’s All Over Now Baby Blue.mp3
- 23 Ballad Of A Thin Man.mp3
- 24 John Brown.mp3
- 25 Wicked Messenger.mp3
- 26 Queen Jane Approximately.mp3
- 27 Chimes Of Freedom.mp3
- 28 All Along The Watchtower.mp3