Bringing In The New Year With The Grateful Dead 1988-89 (With Clarence Clemons on NYE)
Today we revisit J.C. Juanis’ report on the 1988/89 Grateful Dead New Year’s Eve run, which included an appearance by the late Clarence Clemons
“Some Rise, Some Fall, Some Climb, To Get To Terrapin.” – Robert Hunter
You had to be either deaf, dumb, or blind to not realize the Grateful Dead were back in town. In San Francisco and other parts of the Bay Area, the group’s loyal legion of fans, the Deadheads, were very visible in their multi-colored buses and tie-dyed outfits, many of whom had traveled form the four corners of the world to share in the year end’s revelry with their favorite rock band. For the Deadheads, attendance at the New Years Eve shows is the high point of their year. And with the gathering of the tribes comes the carnival atmosphere that surrounds the band and their fans each time they perform.
The Oakland Coliseum parking lot was transformed into a huge campground as the Deadheads lined each aisle into their unique enclave, complete with marketplace. It seems with each passing year the hordes of hippie capitalists grows, as this veteran Deadhead has never seen more vendors, most with their own booths complete with lights and dressing rooms.
One of the problems facing the Grateful Dead, especially in the last couple of years, is the influx of Deadheads that arrive at shows, without tickets. At these shows tickets were as scarce as I’ve ever seen them, even for the shows on the 28th and 29th. Hundreds of Heads seemed content with the prospect of never actually seeing the band or hearing a note of music. Many hung out in the parking lot where the vending and partying went on non-stop.
The Dead, for their part, played exceptionally well during this three day stand, sticking mostly to their tried and true repertoire. Inside the Coliseum Arena on the 28th, we found that there was no access on the floor and in some parts of the stands. Tapers crowded in front as well as behind the sound board and were partly to blame for the lack of access on the floor. For those folks used to the hominess of the Henry J. Kaiser, the Coliseum Arena was just too big. If the Dead plan on playing this size venue in the Bay Area they should consider having reserved seats, as opposed to the mob scene called “festival seating” (seating?). That would greatly improve the dangerous crush of humanity that jammed the arena’s floor.
So much for the suggestions, let’s get to the meat and potatoes. The Dead started the show on the 28th with a powerful 1st set that included “Iko Iko,” “Walkin Blues,” “Bird Song,” “Stuck Inside of Mobile” and “Jack Straw.” Jerry Garcia, rumored to have quit smoking, was in exceptional vocal shape. The highlight of the set came midway with a rare electric version of “Jack-A-Roe.” The second set featured a rousing “China Cat Sunflower” and “I Know You Rider,” which featured Phil Lesh on vocals—a nice treat. The drums and space segment was also very impressive thanks to the two large speakers set up in back of the arena which added a truly psychedelic effect. A joyous “Uncle Johns Band” flowed effortlessly into “I Need A Miracle,” and was followed by “Foolish Heart” which seemed to take the audience by surprise. The band finished up with a strong “Lovelight” that bought back memories of the long deceased Pigpen. After the show, with temperatures below freezing (a rare occurrence in Oakland), many were surprised to find ice on their cars and on the ground. This was just the start of a long weekend for those who called the parking lot home.
The next evening’s show was well played, if just a little predictable. Access in the arena improved slightly by moving the taper section into the stands. “Hell In A Bucket” and “Sugaree” started out the set which also featured strong versions of Bob Dylan’s “Queen Jane Approximately” and “To Lay Me Down.” The set ended on a powerful note with “Let it Grow.” At some points when the music seemed to be getting a little sluggish, the state of the art lighting system came through with stunning results. The second set showcased familiar Dead classics such as “Playin in the Band,” “Crazy Fingers” and “Samson and Delilah” Brent really soared during the latter tune on organ as the Dead hit their groove. A thunderous “Other One” after space wound down into “Stella Blue,” which was followed by a lackluster version of “Throwing Stones” into (yep, you guessed it!) “Not Fade Away” to end the show.
Golden Bloom stopped by Relix to perform a tune from their latest EP No Day Like Today.
The Chapin Sisters share an tune from their new album A Date With the Everly Brothers.
Minneapolis-based Night Moves share a song from their record, Colored Emotions, live at Relix.
Cloud Cult share a song from their latest album live at Relix.
The Giving Tree Band enjoy a spring day on the Relix rooftop, while performing a classic Grateful Dead tune.
Canadian singer-songwriter Hayden performs a duet with his sister-in-law Lou Canon. The song appears on Us Alone his first record on Broken Social Scene’s Arts & Crafts Productions.
The Milk Carton Kids share the first song from their new album, The Ash & Clay.
Here is the new video from Serbian guitar ace Ana Popovic. “Object Of Obsession” appears on her latest album Can You Stand The Heat.
Ron Sexsmith visits the Relix office to perform a tune from his latest record Forever Endeavor.
Crystal Bowersox stops by Relix to perform a song from her new album, All That For This.
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- On The Verge Poll