You are here

Dead of the Day: August 3, 1969

Family Dog at the Great Highway
San Francisco, California
Click stars to rate

For Our Dead of the Day, we turn our attention to a 1969 show out at the Great Highway. Violinist David LaFlamme and jazz saxophonist Charles Lloyd join the band at their psychedelic apogee for an incredible night of music. The evening gets going with a Hard To Handle, as the guests try to figure out how they fit in and the band attempts to make room for them. Even with the awkwardness of it, Pigpen lays in some solid blues vocals, and the whole show is off and running. By Beat It On Down The Line - beginning with thirty (we think) beats - things are still a little rough, but everyone is starting to feel the groove. And then LaFlamme leads in the Hi-Heel Sneakers and Lloyd quickly noodles on the theme, more or less announcing that they have found their spots and are ready to go. The boys get the signal and lay into a funky, rough and tumble version with Pig and Jerry trading vocals. High Time and Mama Tried are filled with more excellent playing, sounding part jug band, part jazz ensemble, and all solidly Grateful Dead. But as good as the first five tunes are, everything is face-meltingly out of sight from the first chords of Dark Star through the end of the night. Lloyd and Jerry find common ground in the Dark Star, leading the band on a jazz tour-de-force. This is one of those Dark Stars that you will want to put on a shelf and come back to again and again to savor its indefinable tastiness. The Alligator that Dark Star finally segues into is an outstanding cacophony with Tom Constanten whirling his calliope keys, LaFlamme sawing in a spacey fiddle, Lloyd throwing in his horn, and the rest of the band laying it on while Pig rumbles through on vocals; only the Grateful Dead could make this work so beautifully. Dropping out of the Alligator, Mickey and Billy rip through a seven minute drum solo and pave the way for the unbelievable Other One that follows. How Lloyd and LaFlamme were going to find a place in the driving wondrousness of the tune, we could not imagine. But they not only fit in, but positively wail, making The Other One a streaking, special rendition (and something also needs to be said about the awesome cowbell…the Dead need more cowbell). After nearly twenty minutes, the boys storm off into a Caution that is just amazing and just as long as The Other One. And at the end of it, the boys cap the show in the most appropriate way imaginable, with a lovely We Bid You Goodnight. Sit back and listen to this thing of beauty now.

Yesterday's Dead of the Day:

Other August 3rd Shows and Recordings:

Search for shows