Saturday, February 16, 2008

Project Ticket Stub - 1988

This was a year for lots of Hot Tuna, David Bromberg, John Hartford, and the Dead...
Hot Tuna, March 26, 1988

Hot Tuna
The Stone Pony, Asbury Park, NJ
March 26, 1988

Acoustic and electric sets at the legendary Stone Pony. I think my ears are probably still ringing from the electric set. This show was just an added bonus for the Dead shows coming up in a few days...
Grateful Dead, March 30 and 31, 1988
         
Grateful Dead
Meadowlands Arena, East Rutherford, NJ
March 30 and 31, 1988

These were the first two of three shows played at the Meadowlands, and they were on Wednesday and Thursday nights. Why, I wonder, didn't we go to the Friday night show? That seems peculiar, and I have no recollection that would explain it.

Nothing stands out, other than this was the period where the band was doing Dear Mr. Fantasy > Hey Jude, and we got that on Thursday night. Both those songs were loads of fun, with Brent singing lead on Fantasy, and the crowd singing along on Hey Jude.
Grateful Dead, April 3, 1988
         
Grateful Dead
Hartford Civic Center, Hartford, CT
April 3, 1988

The Sunday night show in Hartford. If I remember it correctly, this was the show where Jerry's voice was completely shot. Painfully shot. This was the first of three shows in Hartford, and we were glad we were skipping the last two shows, and hoping he recovered by later in the week when the band hit Worcester...
Grateful Dead, April 7 and 9, 1988
         
Grateful Dead
The Centrum, Worcester, MA
April 7 and 9, 1988

Here again I went to only two of three shows. For some unknown reason I skipped the Friday night show. Perhaps it was cash flow?
Note the "Behind Stage" mark on the Thursday night ticket. The Dead were starting to get popular, touring behind the fairly successful "In The Dark" album and the band's only top 10 song, "Touch of Grey" Popularity - bummer.
John Hartford, April 23, 1988
         
John Hartford
Nashua Center for the Arts, Nashua, NH
April 23, 1988

No doubt about it, this is a top-10 all time concert.

Memories of this concert are strong, owning in no small part to the WEVO-FM live broadcast of the show. Since I was going to the concert, I took my trusty Nakamichi BX-100 cassette deck over to my friend Chuck's house, and set Chuck up so all he had to do with hit the record button. Chuck did a fine job recording the show for me.

In October, 2002 I transferred the cassette masters to computer WAV files, and created lossless SHN files. These SHN files are now widely circulated among Hartford fans and collectors, and in fact bt.etree.org has an active torrent seed of the show right now.

WEVO-FM itself occassionally plays some cuts from my recording during the Sunday night Folk Show. Although WEVO did quite a few live broadcasts from the Nashua Center for the Arts, it seems they never recorded them (or the tapes are lost in somebody's private stash). So after I did the transfer from cassette I gave a copy of the resulting CDs to Kate McNally, the Folk Show DJ. She was really happy to receive it, and every now and then I hear her play a cut from the show.
John had the respectful Nashua audience in the palm of his hand. The sing along portions are particularly great on the recording. WEVO must have had some mics on the audience, and the result is excellent.

Chuck Berry and Friends, May 7, 1988
         
Chuck Berry and Friends
Cheshire Fairgrounds, Swanzey, NH
May 7, 1988

This was an all afternoon show at the outdoor fairgrounds in Swanzey, NH. It was a wonderful late spring day in New Hampshire. I don't remember the exact order of the show, but I think it went:
  • Carl Perkins
  • Johnny Rivers
  • Roy Orbison
  • James Brown
  • Chuck Berry
The highlight of the show was, without a doubt, Roy Orbison. I feel very fortunate to have seen him. Little did we even think at the time that Roy would be gone by the end of the year, dead at age 52 from a heart attack.

The lowlight of the show was James Brown. We were all very much looking forward to seeing the Godfather of Soul, but this wasn't the night. I don't know if he was just drunk or high on drugs, but he was out of it. He could barely stand up, and had to be, uh, assisted on stage by two of his flunkies. His performance, if you could call it that, was short and just plain stunk.
Grateful Dead, July 2 and 3, 1988
         
Grateful Dead
Oxford Plains Speedway, Oxford, ME
July 2 and 3, 1988

The weekend was probably the most fun I ever had in all my Dead shows. This setting, rural Maine, was the polar opposite of all those very fun Dead shows at Madison Square Garden. We had a very large group of probably 20 or more all camping together next to a lake about a mile or two from the speedway. My Web site has this photo of a boat on the lake in fog that I took at the campground late one afternoon. It looks oh so peaceful, but behind the camera's view is the cacophony of tents and grills and music and dozens of happy campers.
I remember there was some amount of trepidation leading up to the weekend. If I recall correctly, a week or two before there was a heavy metal concert at the speedway, and things did not go well. Rowdy, drunken metal heads did some disrespectful things to the locals, and the result was predictable. Word spread, and both the Deadhead community and the locals were wary of what would happen when we arrived. No worries, though, for as the locals found out, Deadheads tended to be a mellow and peaceful bunch.

Funny, but one of my memory highlights is walking to the speedway for the shows. I'm pretty sure the cops closed the road leading up to the speedway to vehicle traffic. So I have this memory of this rural Maine state highway full of Deadheads as far as the eye could see, all walking to (and from) the show. Surreal.
Kingston Summer Jam, August 21, 1988
         
Kingston Summer Jam
Kingston Fairgrounds, Kingston, NH
August 21, 1988

This was an all-afternoon outdoor concert on the fairgrounds. I recall it was quite the low key and relaxed affair. The line up, in order as I recall it was:
  • Papa John Creech
  • David Bromberg (solo)
  • Max Creek
  • Rick Danko
  • Hot Tuna with David Bromberg
I'm really glad I got to see Papa John. I think that may be the only time I saw him. Or was he along on the Jefferson Airplane reunion tour in 1989? No, I don't think so, or I'd remember it.

Nonetheless, the highlight for me was the closing Hot Tuna Bromberg set. This was all acoustic, and sitting in chairs from left to right were David, Jorma, and Jack. Bromberg and Jorma together are, IMO, more than the sum of their parts, and this set mixed Bromberg tunes and Hot Tuna tunes together.
Bob Dylan, September 3, 1988
         
Bob Dylan
Riverfront Park, Manchester, NH
September 3, 1988

Riverfront Park! Ha! Some park. Riverfront Park was nothing more than an asphalt parking lot hemmed in by a number of the old mill buildings along the Merrimack River. This was also called Arms Park, and today there is a pretty strip of trees and grass in this area, just south of the Bridge Street bridge. Were there some buildings there that have since been torn down for parking? I really recall being hemmed in by brick buildings. You can imagine how good the sound wasn't.

I'm pretty sure the opening band was Timbuk3. Besides the venue, the only thing that really stands out about Dylan's set is a fair number of familiar songs that were almost completely unrecognizable, particularly "Girl From The North Country."
Eric Clapton, September 14, 1988
         
Eric Clapton
Great Woods Performing Arts Center, Mansfield, MA
September 14, 1988

Crap. I just don't remember this show. Nothing sticks out. Pretty easy to research it on the Web though - it was a Wednesday night, Mark Knopfler was part of the band, a pretty typical Clapton setlist ("Crossroads", "White Room", "After Midnight", and more), Knopfler did "Money for Nothing", encore was "Sunshine of Your Love." But I'm afraid there really aren't any memories that stand out.
Grateful Dead, September 16, 18, 19, 20, 22, and 23, 1988
         
Grateful Dead
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
September 16, 18, 19, 20, 22, and 23, 1988

Here we go! A full week-plus of Dead at Madison Square Garden! Actually, the band's run at MSG started on the 14th, but I didn't see either that show or the show on the 15th. My run started on the Friday night show on the 16th.

Looking back now almost twenty years later, the week is just one long blur of Dead shows, and it is impossible to say "oh yea, and on the Tuesday night show they played 'Louie Louie'." Of course, they really did play "Louie Louie" on the Tuesday night show, but distinguishing that night from the other nights just isn't possible.
Grateful Dead, September 24, 1988
         
Grateful Dead & Friends
Madison Square Garden
September 24, 1989

Even though this is the next, and last, night in the MSG run, I am listing it as an individual entry. This night was special, and more than "just" another Dead show.
This was a benefit concert with proceeds going to Cultural Survival, Greenpeace, and the Rainforest Action Network. The concert was broadcast live on WNEW-FM in New York, and WMMR-FM in Philadelphia. Bruce Hornsby & The Range opened the show.

And then the real fun began with the Dead's two sets. We knew it was going to be a special night when three songs in former Rolling Stones guitar player Mick Taylor was on stage for "West L.A. Fadeaway" and "Little Red Rooster." The latter song, being a blues number, was perfect for Taylor. (Ah, I suppose West LA is sorta blues inspired as well.)

The rest of the first set was pretty straight forward, but the second set opened in a completely surprising way with Suzanne Vega on stage with an acoustic guitar and the band backing her on two of her own songs, "Chinese Bones" and "Neighborhood Girls." The surprises continued a couple of songs later when Daryl Hall and John Oates came out to play "Every Time You Go Away" and "What's Going On." Daryl Hall's lead vocals on "What's Going On" was particularly memorable, and the song rocked out. Drumz was notable for the inclusion of a bunch of folks, including Baba Olatunji.

Everybody was out for the encores, "Good Lovin'" and "Knocking On Heaven's Door" - Hornsby, Hall and Oates, Jack Casady (on bass, of course), Suzanne Vega, and Olatunji.
Without a doubt, this was the most unique Dead show I ever saw.
Hot Tuna, October 20, 1988
         
Hot Tuna
Raoul's Roadside Attraction, Portland, ME
October 20, 1988

The ticket says Jorma Kaukonen, but this really was acoustic Hot Tuna - Jorma and Jack Casady. Raoul's is a little hole in the wall sort of place, still running today, and for me the perfect type of venue for Jorma and Jack sitting down and playing their acoustic magic. A fine show.
David Bromberg, David Grisman, John Hartford, October 21, 1988
         
David Bromberg, The David Grisman Quartet, & John Hartford
Sanders Theatre, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
October 21, 1988

It is impossible to not catch your breath in awe the first time you walk into Sanders Threatre. If you have never been there, this picture gives you a small sense of the its beauty. Deep rich wood, constructed with a detailed craftsmanship that simply isn't possible today. The acoustics of Sanders is phenomenal. It is absolutely one of my most favorite venues, and the only complaint I could ever have about it is that it can be rather cozy - there will be no space whatsoever between you and whomever is sitting next to you. Oh, and don't get stuck behind one of the support pillars.

For this show, John Hartford went first, then Grisman, and then Bromberg closed the show. With the acoustics, this was a perfect venue for Hartford, and he expertly got the audience singing along, and even singing in round (on "Long Hot Summer Days" if I am not mistaken). The other thing that stands out from this night is Bromberg singing several songs without amplification. Now he often does this in shows, but I remember that something different was going on - was there a power outage, or a temporary malfunction of the sound system? Something like that, but whatever the cause he didn't miss a beat and the sound in Sanders is so perfect that no one had to strain to hear him.
David Bromberg, November 18, 1988
         
David Bromberg
Raoul's Roadside Attraction, Portland, ME
November 18, 1988

Back to Raoul's, this time for Bromberg performing solo.
Hot Tuna, December 10, 1988
         
Hot Tuna
The Ritz, New York, NY
December 10, 1988

And last but not least for 1988, acoustic and electric Hot Tuna - just like the year began.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting the write-up for the Tuna/Bromberg show in Kingston. One of my favorites to this day!

ck in strafford