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Dead of the Day: January 30, 1970

The Warehouse
New Orleans, Louisiana
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For our Dead of the Day we head back to the show on the eve of the Dead’s Bourbon Street bust. It also happened to not only be TC’s last show with the band, but also the opening of the famed Warehouse in New Orleans. On that evening, Casey Jones got things going as the boys warmed up through the first four tunes. These songs are all great with, for instance, a luscious run in Me And Uncle, a fine Black Peter, and a raging pace in Hard To Handle. But the China Cat is where things really start to turn up. It contains all the joyous energy of late-60s versions, but the breezy psychedelia of those earlier years is maturing into a more complex, though, thankfully, no more refined entity. And the Rider that busts out of it is bright and windswept from the opening vocals through to the burning jam at the end. The next three songs after that are all incredible as well. The High Time has some tremendous vocals in addition to the sweet licks. Though in terms of pure playing energy, nothing tops the Cumberland, which is an insatiable feast of fiery jamming. While Pig had already made his presence known with the Hard To Handle, he takes over the scene with Easy Wind. Not that Jerry and Phil don’t put their own mark on the song, but Pig steals the show with his heady vocals. Even though we only have one long set this evening, the Mama Tried finishes what would be the first one as the Good Lovin’ that comes next begins the deeper exploratory jamming that characterizes the rest of the evening. Pig and the boys comes together on some sensational vocals in the early going before the drummers take it away and jumpstart a relentless, fecund jam in the second half that is just so tasty. Afterwards, a bit of silence changes the pace for a brilliant, nearly thirty minute Other One suite, starting with a perfect Cryptical. From that contemplative opening, the drums take over and stir up an explosive energy that does not let up until they come back into the Cryptical on the way out of the tune. Beware; once the band segues out of the second Cryptical, you will be just starting to groove to what promises to be a magnificent Cosmic Charlie when the tape will cut. Honestly, you might just want to stop the show before you even hear that immense tease.

The Dead were the headliners of a three-band bill on this opening night at the Warehouse. Starting off the evening was the jazz-rock band out of Chicago, Flock. Then Fleetwood Mac, still with Peter Green, played a set before the Dead came out. The Warehouse would go on to be the central venue for rock and roll in New Orleans throughout the decade. Later in 1970, Jim Morrison played his last concert with The Doors - including the only Riders On The Storm they ever played live - at the Warehouse. In 1982, the venue would shutter its doors after a Talking Heads concert, closing out more than a dozen years of exceptional music and history.

The Dead, however, would never play the Warehouse again after the end of their three-night run (possibly four if rumors of a small, pre-opening show on the 29th are to be believed), largely because of the bust that happened just a few hours after the end of today’s show. The police raid was focused on Bear, but nearly everyone associated with the band was arrested along the way except for Pig, TC, and Billy. While the band's staple, Truckin’, would obviously come out of the entire experience, in the near-term, the boys were barely able to come up with the cash to bail themselves out and get on with their gear to St. Louis for their next gig. In fact, Lenny Hart, their manager and Mickey's dad, had to turn over the entire take from the night's gig just to get everyone out. The show also put a temporary end to Bear’s run as soundman. On the other hand, it seems that TC had already parted ways with the Dead earlier in the evening - though he did play at this show and was present at the arrest - putting another inflection point on this date at the Warehouse.

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