Dead On

Welcome to the Dead On blog and our first in a series of incredible performances of Grateful Dead and other related bands. Terrapin uses the music as a guidepost, not to be copied, but to influence our playing and process. We have always said our goal is to remain faithful in executing our brand of music in a way that both excites and challenges you at the same time. To listen is to learn. The members of Terrapin have collectively been to hundreds of shows from all genres, including well over 200 Grateful Dead shows from 1979-1995. We listen to the music constantly to help us create the subtlety in performance and hopefully bring that to you with passion, energy and a whole lot of fun. We thought it would be cool to curate some material that we love and share it with our fans as a primer into how we think about the music. We will try to keep most pieces to under 10 minutes. Occasionally this might be impossible, but we will do our best. The point isn’t to share complete songs or sets as there is plenty of that material commercially available and broadcast. Instead, we will focus on the subtlety of certain parts of songs or jams. Please comment and engage. Nothing is sacred and everyone hears different things so this is just our take on some great material. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Coming on the heels of perhaps the greatest 4 show run in the bands history, this show 10 days later is an absolute scorcher. Enough so that the famous Dicks Picks series made it chapter 29 in the catalog. The show itself is personally a favorite of mine, in many ways equal than the shows that came a week or so before. There is something about the magic of this show that is captivating. First set highlights included Sugaree (duh its 1977, they were all amazing!) quite possibly the best Peggy-O of all time, a scoring Passenger and great Dancin. The second set is where the fireworks start. The Terrapin>Playing in the Band>Uncle Johns Band is simply stuff of legends. Listen to the transition between Playing and UJB. They actually start the song with the refrain! And then Jerry Smashes into UJB. Amazing stuff. The cut I choose is in my opinion the secret sauce to this night. After the newly installed Drums section of the second set that would become a staple from this point on, the band launches into The Wheel and then China Doll. At the end of the song Jerry takes over and drives the band almost into a dark star like jam, clearly living in the land between China Doll and Playing in the Band (thank god for the D minor jams!!) What gets us the most is the incredible dynamics in this jam. The interplay between Bob and Jerry on this piece is absolutely mesmerizing. Perfect example of two maestros listening to each other. There are points in this jam that the drums literally stop as the music hits pin drop silence. This is the definition of dynamics, sublime and intense all at the same time. I actually stopped in the middle of the ski trail to finish this jam because I was so mesmerized by how beautiful it was. Then the jam builds again into the closing Playing in the Band reprise sequence and baam! the show is over. They knew this was special, because there was no encore this night. Enough Said!  Enjoy… 

Listen to the song below and then read our review below

Song: Scarlet Begonias (Jam)
Date: June 13th, 1984
Length: 5:35
While 1984 isn’t usually what comes to mind when thinking of incredible tours, this is a fine example of Jerry and the band at their absolute peak in terms of listening to each other and creating a vivid space from which to improvise. Jerry’s health was in huge decline during this period, his vocals often being strained to the point of scorched during most of 1983-1985. It wasn’t until after the coma and return to the road in 1987 that he could croon on a regular basis. However, there were often many great nights of guitar playing pre coma. At this point, he was still performing magically on most nights. The Greek Theatre was always a special place for the band and this run was no exception. This night was the first of a three night run and the first back in their hometown winding down from the long summer tour that started out West, moved to the East and then Midwest. This night among other things was known for the breakout of Dark Star for the first time since New Years 81 and more interestingly played as an encore, While that was satisfying in its own right, I believe the Scarlet Begonias —> Touch of Grey —> Fire on the Mountain was the barn burner of the show. This jam in Scarlet, prior to the move to Touch of Grey, which hadn’t ever happened before this night as far as I know, was intense, full of energy and great band syncopation. Paul and I are constantly looking for that magic in the music and this was no exception. The interplay between Jerry’s leads, Bob and Phil’s rhythmic foundation, the drummers cool fresh sounds and Brent who had come into his own (almost 5 years at this point) was highlighted by this mesmerizing jam. I find this full of energy and fresh ideas that I have drawn from in countless jams. The pace starts out nice and even and then builds dynamically throughout to an interesting crescendo. What always keeps me coming back to this jam is the upbeat nature of it. Scarlet jams could be sometimes short, spacey or even somewhat measured. There might be better ones, but this is pretty cool. I especially like the tease at the end into Fire on the Mountain, which Jerry actually abandons in favor of Touch of Grey which is not included here. Enjoy…

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