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Saturday, February 9, 2008

1979 January 15 - Springfield, MA

Jerry Garcia - January 15, 1979 GRATEFUL DEAD
Monday, January 15, 1979
Springfield Civic Center - Springfield, MA
Audience Recording

The Internet has been the greatest of blessings to the world of Grateful Dead tape trading. The hooking up of tape trading enthusiasts from every corner of the globe, the advent of home-level digitizing, the glory of high-speed connectivity, and the insanity of massive storage devices (I just got a 2TB external drive, myself) - all of these have allowed for an incredible archiving of these tapes that exist below the commercial line. It's something I think more of as a sonic documentation of American folklore; something that in 100 years could pass for a musical mythology. Topics for future posts, indeed.

A second wave of Internet blessings brought on in the late 1990's was the emergence of the old tapers themselves. Some were quite online-phobic, some were not. But the connection of these old tapers with the enthusiastic bunch of folks skilled in the art of digital/Internet music archiving was nirvanic.

One such taper to come online was Steve Rolfe. A complete pleasure to work with, and trusting beyond measure ("sure I'll send you boxes of my old masters and you can sit on them for months as you go through the digitizing process"), his tapes represent the second wave of tapers - those who began recording in the mid 70's and had the wherewithal to do it really really well.

We start here with his masterpiece of 01/15/79. This is a FOB (Front Of Board) recording, which means he was sitting in front of the soundboard, which typically provides a concert goer the best possible listening experience since they are sitting right in line with the mixer him/herself, hearing things "just exactly perfect."

There are lots and lots and lots of really good AUD recordings in 1979 (in January alone, most every night is captured in FOB glory), yet 01/15 has a certain kingly status. It really shines, both in fidelity and sonic bliss. It used to be one of the most ellusive tapes from early 1979. Now, we've got it at the tips of our fingers.

Jerry Garcia - January 1979You will hear lots of folks waxing about the set two opening Miracle>Shakedown. It is as fun and unexpected as it looks on paper. Also note the Jack Straw opener. Jack Straw became a standard opener in the mid-late 70's and it often allowed one to temperature test the band at the start of a night. This one hints that the band is fully locked in and ready to do business. A lovely Playin' in set two provides all sorts of interest. But allow me to dwell on the set two closing Casey Jones.

Casey Jones can be a love it or hate it song for deadheads. There are a lot of them out there, so opinions form quickly. Many tape traders will often skip listening to a set closer (see: Sugar Magnolia), but I caution you against that here. This Casey Jones blooms out of the end of the enormous Playin>Drums>Jam>Playin' and it is ferocious in energy. It is also picture perfect Grateful Dead. After the long and explorative jams, this Casey Jones brings you back to "good old Grateful Dead" with loving arms. And Jerry and the boys are spot on. The rev up in the last minutes goes on and on, up and up. It is so satisfying. While this tune can certainly at time be a cast off, this is not the case on 01/15. It brings you to the perfect place to cap off a wonderful show. Lots to enjoy from this tape. A great place to start enjoying 1979.

01/15/79 etree source info
01/15/79 AUD download


  1. no comments about thie one yet? A lot of these Jan 79 shows really turn the old myth of "the Keith & Donna era was on its last legs and ready to hang it up" on its head. They never played a wrong note in Springfield, and this show is a fantastic experience, both musically and sonically. Espcially dig the sneaky little transition jam between Miracle and Shakedown (perfectly orchestrated) and the coo, tribal jam back into Playin after the drums. The Nassau shows a few days earlier are fun (and of similar high quality), too, especially that Dark Star...

  2. Excellent choice! Just to add to Nick's comments, the ethereal jam after Lady with a Fan gave me goosebumps. You just feel like you are flying along with Jerry's guitar and then they come back in and absolutely nail Terrapin proper. A short, yet extremely satisfying musical moment.


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