Unofficial 31 Days of Dead – 2012 Edition: Day Nineteen

December 19

Jam > Jack-A-Roe
11/20/78 Cleveland Music Hall, Cleveland, OH

Here is something different – a second set that begins with a JAM! Sadly, this rare deviation from the norm was attempted only a handful times and in each instance greatness resulted. Two shows immediately come to mind: 6/23/74 Miami (Jam > Ship of Fools) and 6/26/74 Providence (Jam > China > Rider).

Much like those instances the band begins this jam from Cleveland Music Hall with some noodling that gradually develops like growing tendrils.  The drummers are relentless the way they drive the jamming. Garcia makes several attempts to slow things down but the drummers must press on with important tribal work. Jerry offsets the heavy percussion with a spacey wah-wah toned solo that is dark, drippy and manic. Over the course of the jam he trills, bends and throws notes all over the place. Eventually this drops into Jack-A-Roe of all things. The reason we love the Grateful Dead is for moments like this when anything can happen. Jerry’s vocal delivery is beautiful. Especially notable is the subtle way he sings, “your cheeks too red and rosy…” Who could have predicted that Garcia’s voice would be completely shot four days later at the Capitol Theater?

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