Friday, October 21, 2011

December 15, 1973 Winterland, San Francisco: New Riders of The Purple Sage with Jerry Garcia

Hayward Daily Review, December 14, 1973

While researching for an extensive post on the New Riders of The Purple Sage in early 1974, I was doing some fact checking and came across an interesting reference that I was not aware of, and it seemed worthy of posting. The official NRPS archive site could be more complete, but generally speaking the material on the site has shown itself to be fairly accurate. I had known that Dave Torbert's last show as a member of the New Riders was at Winterland on Saturday, December 15, 1973, but I looked it up to confirm it. I was quite surprised to see that the setlist on the site indicated that for the New Riders final number, "Glendale Train," they were joined by Jerry Garcia on guitar and Sandy Rothman on banjo.

The site shows the list as follows:
12/15/73 Winterland - San Francisco
Partial setlist: Important Exportin’ Man / Truck Drivin' Man / Parson Brown / Rose City Chimes / School Days / Portland Woman / Crooked Judge / Whiskey* / Crazy Arms / Sea Cruise / Take A Letter Maria / Glendale Train** (*w/Darlene Di Domenico on vocals - **w/Jerry Garcia on guitar and Sandy Rothman on banjo)

The fact that the list says "partial setlist" suggests that someone has a tape, although I am not aware of one that has circulated. I am posting this here just to bring this fact forward, so I have somewhere to post comments when I learn something, but it is still interesting for a variety of reasons.
  • The Grateful Dead had played The Omni in Atlanta on December 12, 1973, and then played Tampa, FL on December 18 and 19. It had always seemed strange to me that the weekend was empty. While I assume that there must have been a canceled Dead show or two in there, if Garcia was in San Francisco on December 15, it means that Garcia at least, and probably the whole band, returned to San Francisco between the 12th and the 18th.
  • As I discussed elsewhere, Garcia had taken on the task of producing the New Riders' live album, Home, Home On The Road. Garcia's last appearance with the New Riders took place on February 2, 1974, when he played electric guitar with them for much of the second set at Keystone Berkeley. I posited that he would have just finished mixing the album, and would have known the material. Perhaps the process had begun in December, which would have been one reason for him to fly back home.
  • In my mind, when Dave Torbert left the New Riders, the band went into a steady decline. It's appropriate that the last performance of what to me was the classic NRPS included a guest appearance by Jerry.
  • I wasn't aware of much in the way of collaboration between Jerry Garcia and Sandy Rothman from the 1960s to the '80s, but there he was onstage with the Riders. Rothman was mostly a touring bluegrass musician at this time, but he would have been friendly with David Nelson from back in the day, and he must have been in town. Thus this Winterland appearance presages the future of the Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band, in an un-acoustic kind of way. I know that Sandy Rothman played with the inaugural version of the Great American Music Band, on March 10, 1974, so Rothman and Garcia were still in touch even if they didn't apparently play together much.
If anyone knows any more about Garcia and Rothman's appearance, has heard a tape, or just has entertaining speculation, I would be very interested in any Comments.

1 comment:

  1. I have never heard of a tape, but I have always held out hope!

    I think your connection of these Garcia sit-ins (December '73 and February '74) with work on the album is probably spot-on. Playing a little with them live probably made him a much better producer, giving him the best understanding possible of what they were about.