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Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Audience Devotional Tree

“The Audience Devotional Tree is a trading tree that will aim to spread the pleasure of the audience recording medium to those who know it now, and those who seek to know it better.”
(from the gdADT Yahoo Group header)

The gdADT (Grateful Dead Audience Devotional Tree). What was it, and why does it keep coming up as a tag in this blog?

There is no doubt in my mind that part of the motivation to write, and the pleasure I get from doing this blog, were much the same in doing the Audience Devotional Tree many years ago. I loved AUDs, and wanted to kindle that love in others and foster that love in those who might not already have had it.

Before the age of high speed collections and 500 Gig hard drives, tape trading was a little different. Back in the late 1990’s we all marveled at how the pace of trading was catapulted into hyper drive speed because of the ease in which folks could meet each other, exchange lists, pick shows, and send them off to each other. The average trade time could generally be from days to a week, where before the internet it might border on a month or more, and this after you were crafty enough to find other tapers in the first place.

By 1998 I had gotten pretty deep into my steadfast preference to audience recordings and the avenues they opened up to appreciating the experience of Grateful Dead shoe recordings in general. Along with this, I was starting to find that I was having an easy time of reaching out to, and winning the trust of old tapers who were willing to send me their old master tapes, or boxes of old reel to reels.

At this time tape trees were starting to appear more and more online. Essentially, a tape tree is built upon the premise that someone with the “seed” (copy of a show that not too many other folks had ) would would offer it up to four or five people in trade with the contingency that these people would commit to trading it out to another four or five themselves, and so on. The seeder, would gather the names, e-mails and physical addresses of all who wanted to join the tree, generally capping things at a certain number. Thus, like a musical pyramid scheme, hundreds of people could quickly come to possess a copy of something new on the scene in a matter of short weeks or months. Not all tape trees had hundreds of branches and leaves. And, not all trees would do more than one single seed round. Eventually the tape would be traded though a few levels of branches, each spreading the show again, ending with leaves. Leaves were typically people who didn’t have the ability to make copies of the show for others, and would generally do a B&P (blanks & postage) trade with their branch. Some trees became long running versions of “fruit of the month” subscriptions. The ADT was one of them.

I started the ADT because I knew I had a couple of Dead audience tapes that were not in circulation at all – 05/20/73 (review forthcoming) and 08/06/74. The ’74 show was really what cemented my resolve to do the tree. I got the AUD/1 reel from Bill Degen, patched it with Ihor Slabicky’s own master tape, and knew it had to go far and wide.

Back then (2000-2001) the way many multi-round trees were managed was within a Yahoo Group. I took sign ups, gathered about 145 people, split them into those who could burn CDs, and those who could not. I think I might have even had a cassette layer to the tree. Shorten (SHN) lossless compression was just new on the scene, and I took a poll as to who would want to run the tree as a SHN tree instead of audio. We opted to go SHN. With the kind help of some more technically adept tree members, we even got to the point where we were hosting the seeds on a private server where hi-speed capable branches could grab the shows.

The truism of “what you think about comes about” thoroughly applies to the world of Grateful Dead tape trading. My own flurry of activity in getting the tree started seemed to bring more rare and un-circulating AUDs into my world. Old tapers would somehow *find* me (exactly how I came to upgrade my own 25th Anniversary tape tree of the ’73 Watkins Glen shows), and there never seemed to be a short supply of shows to digitally master and get out on the tree.

It was also during this time that through a trading relationship I came to be connected with Jerry Moore, whom we all thought had pretty much fallen off the face of the earth. The era of digitizing Moore’s closet of master tapes began during these years. Priceless, wonderful times.

I released one show every two months or so. This gave the tree enough time to run through its three or four levels of depth. The tree’s heyday was from 2001 to 2003 wherein 24 of the 27 official rounds were released. The ADT focused on AUDs from 1970-1974 only, thus, on top of that, 15 “Extra Shows” ran through the tree as well – these from the collection of tapes I was transferring from post 1974 years, plus things that would come my way already digitized. These would go out to people on the tree who volunteered to turn around and offer them back to the tree in B&P or trade. It all worked very well.

Because I think the only actual list of shows treed on the gdADT is tucked inside the Yahoo Group, I’ve pasted each round here for reference. Please know that in posting this list I am not trying to tell you to grab all these shows immediately. As you've probably noticed, I have recommended a few shows from this list over the last few months, and I will continue to do so as I feel them best fit into the fabric of this blog.

Round 01 - 05-20-73
Round 02 - 08-06-74
Round 03 - 07-18-72
Round 04 - 05-07-70
Round 05 - 07-31-71
Round 06 - 06-30-73
Round 07 - 07-31-74
Round 08 - 08-01-73
Round 09 - 08-04-74
Round 10 - 05-21-74
Round 11 - 07-27&28-73
Round 12 - 07-31-73
Round 13 - 06-22&23-74
Round 14 - 06-26-73
Round 15 - 05-16-70
Round 16 - 06-30-74
Round 17 - 06-26-74
Round 18 - 06-28-74
Round 19 - 06-22-73
Round 20 - 07-29-74
Round 21 - 09-07-73
Round 22 - 12-30-78
Round 23 - 03-05-72
Round 24 - 08-05-74
Round 25 - 06-09-73
Round 26 - 07-27-73 [stereo aud]
Round 27 - 11-08-70

Also from the Yahoo Group header for the ADT:

“Communicating that certain something found in audience recordings of the Grateful Dead.”

As true for me today as it was then.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Noah;

    the story behind the GD community and the trading tradition is as important as the music.

    Thank you for this lesson of dedications from your side and the hundreds that made up the ADT.

    I felt the pleasure of waiting for the 'old-time' pleasure of the CDs hitting my mailbox thru a DNC miracle (Thank you, great MaxRod).

    That said, I bask in the new technology that has allowed me to jump several stages and to become a 'collector' (maybe this is too strong word for me still but I have got the fever) in a few month all the way from Italy!

    Thank you Noah, for allowing the old and the new to gel so nicely in your blog!

    Italian Head


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