Monday, March 26, 1973
Baltimore Civic Center - Baltimore, MD
Every portion of 1973 has its own special flair or flavor. The band’s improvisational groove was evolving on a tour by tour basis, and there were strong themes to each stage of the year. If I wasn’t such a diehard fan of the jazzy/spacey jamming nature of the Summer ’73 shows in particular, I would absolutely hold March 1973 above all else from the year.
The March shows have a special trademark. Over and over again the band finds its way into a jamming passages that defy naming. Set lists almost don’t do it justice. There are more times where you can only call something a “jam” in March ’73 than most any other stretch of the year. The band was pushing its own envelop to extreme in March. Also, there is hardly a weak moment in the entire tour. Every show, with the possible exception of 3/30/73, is top shelf. This makes it all the more difficult to know where to get started with March ’73.
For me, when I mentally look at my wall of shows to pick a place to start with March 1973, I land on 3/26/73. So tough is this decision, that just typing the date out into this post fills me with regret and indecision. I’ll take that as a reminder that the entire month is filled with must-listen-to moments, more so than the possibility that it’s the wrong choice. Take this as an opening door. You can safely step back into the hall of March ’73 and open most any other.
The entire month is blessed with A quality soundboard recordings in circulation. This was not always the case, mind you, and 3/26 was one of the late comers to the SBD circulating pile. This never stopped it from going down in tape collectors' minds as an amazing show worth checking out.
In a perfect example of how March ’73 found the band going down completely uncharted paths, the 3/26 Truckin’ slowly dissolves into a shimmering pool of light ripples and waves, drawing to a near stop, then meandering again like soft footprints in delicate sands. While the logical transition from this song would be into Other One, here they have gone in a completely different direction, luxuriously sliding into a Weather Report Suite Prelude. This is one of the early handful of times they played it (it wouldn’t get into regular rotation until September ’73 after they recorded the Wake Of The Flood album), and it fits perfectly. This then opens up into some of the prettiest free form jamming of the entire year. It is Dark Star-esque in the way it simply seems to expand in all directions. Billy picks things up with a light jazz tempo, and the band follows him on a beautiful stroll for a time. Jerry starts hinting at slightly darker themes, but the lovely nature of this “out of bounds” jam can’t be turned off track. We eventually emerge into Wharf Rat. It fits so well, it’s as if it was planned all along.
Wharf Rat masterfully spirals out into Me & Bobby McGee. Jerry solos over the entire song beautifully; his lines full of grace and subtlety. The song draws to a natural end. The band and crowd take a breath, and before exhaling, Jerry opens them up into a lovely early Eyes Of The World. The tempo is perfect, and a joyous dance ensues. This is one of those close your eyes and rock your head back and forth versions. In less than two months (Eyes debuted in the first show of the year on 2/9/73) this song if fully matured. Jerry’s solos form wide arcs in the sky as he rolls around the guitar neck, and the deep 7/8 jam in the song takes each hairpin turn very nicely. The jam settles itself into Morning Dew, and there’s no place you’d rather be. There are 15 Morning Dew’s in 1973, and they are all worth finding. The band’s slow and silent bloom into the final crescendo after Jerry’s last “Guess it doesn’t matter anyway” will stop your breath and draw all your attention.
In the end we get no Other One, and no Dark Star, but it’ no matter. Perhaps even because of this, the show offers other unique and special gifts, going to unexpected places and bringing back treasures all the same. Another treasure worth mentioning in closing from this show is Candyman. There are only 4 versions in all of 1973 and they are stuck in such odd shows that a person might think the song was never even played that year at all. Dig Jerry’s wha-wha infused solo. It’s very nice.
03/26/73 SBD etree source info
03/26/73 SBD Stream