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Dead of the Day: May 15, 1970

Fillmore East
New York, New York

While there are superb shows from this day in 1977 and 1980, our Dead of the Day has to be the 1970 Fillmore date with its early and late shows. Each featured an acoustic and electric set, an incredible variety of music, and some tasty jams. With over forty songs throughout the evening, we are mainly going to focus on the second show for no particular reason. Still, you should not miss either of the first two sets, especially the lovely acoustic one with an awesome I Know You Rider and great banter, where Jerry provides one of his best on stage retorts. In response to a woman who asks what happened to his beard, he replies, “Shut up! I didn’t ask you about your beard.” The witticisms continue in the later acoustic set, which starts off with a fine rendition of the Ballad of Casey Jones, one of only two times they ever played the traditional tune. A song later Jerry comes to the mic again for one of the best versions of Friend of the Devil the boys every played, acoustic or electrified. Each song in this set is so special, as the Dead move from folk to blues to bluegrass and nail every one of them. And they finish it off with what might be the sweetest of them all, a beautiful rendition of I Hear a Voice Calling by Mr. Bill Monroe. The second set starts off with a tasty little China> Rider. In the midst of the latter, Jerry takes over with one quick rip from his guitar, continuing to scorch the song the rest of the way out. After a hot Cumberland, the band goes into a Hard to Handle that sports its own ridiculous jam. They continue that strong play on the Morning Dew with Pig’s haunting organ providing a backdrop for Jerry’s smoking licks. The Dew gives way to a Good Lovin’ that is phenomenally jammed out as well. A bit later, in Dark Star, they are finally able to really turn themselves over to full-on exploratory jamming, no longer as constrained by the framework of the song itself. But that does not mean that with the end of Dark Star the incredible jams are over for the night. We get a few rips in a short and sharp Stephen before the boys go off again in Not Fade Away, which turns out to only be a warm-up for the nearly half hour of an unstoppable, rocking, Pig-rapping Lovelight that ends the set. Then, right when you think you have heard it all, the boys come out for an otherworldly Cold Jordan encore.

The Dead released the show as Road Trips Volume 3, Number 3. The recording on this page, though, not only has the two Dead shows from the night, but also some of the music from New Riders of the Purple Sage, who shared the bill. 

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