6/24/70 The Capitol Theatre, Port Chester, NY
Content Reprinted courtesy of Ric Rabinowitz, Artwork by Mike DuBois
We have talked about Good Dead Shows, Great Dead Shows and the legendary Dead Shows…. well 6/24/70 is a MAGICAL Dead Show!!!!! A show with an all time great DarkStar that exists in three parts segueing in and out of other songs to create a DarkStar suite and a mind-blowing set of the Grateful Dead. DarkStar>attics>DarkStar>Sugar Mag>DarkStar>St. Stephen>China>Ryder!!!! Since the first time I heard it in the Spring of 1991 I fell in love with it and it has been my second favorite set of the Grateful Dead ever since. Sitting in the rarefied air right behind 2/13!
6/24/70 was one of my most cherished Dead tapes until that horrible morning in the fall of 91’ in our Margaritaville apartment in Oneonta when tragedy struck. Like many other heads of the time I was a chronic dubber. My dual tape decks had been working overdrive since the mid 80’s as I was constantly copying new shows for myself or anyone who wanted tapes. I have no clue where my head was but somehow 6/24/70 wound up where it should of never of been and I fucking taped over it. To say that I was devastated is an understatement. My old brothers taper friend who hooked me up with it was no longer a part of our lives and I never got a copy of 6/24/70 on analog again. The mad scramble for digital copies of Grateful Dead and the beloved 6/24/70 will be a story for another day.
6/24/70 exists as an audience tape only. An audience recording taken from two mic’s attached to the front row of the balcony of the Cap. There is no soundboard recording for 6/24/70 which has kept it flying under peoples radar for almost 50 years. Instead we get this incredible audience recording that helps bring the magic to life.
Thanks to Bear (Owsley Stanley) and his obsession with electronics, music, sound and recording… us the fans have all benefited. From early on the Grateful Dead’s PA system and gear was functioning on a higher level than most other bands. Add in the fact that Bear wanted to archive it all as well, all the shows were being recorded. Our lifetimes worth of cherished tapes, cd’s, downloads and streams all can be traced right back to Bear. In 2021 we almost have full soundboard access to all of the Grateful Dead’s 30 years of shows. But there is one year with major gaps, and that is 1970? Missing parts of shows, full shows missing and others shows with just horrible audience recordings. There are a number of factors that caused it but again we visit the 1/30/70 bust of the band in New Orleans for the biggest reason why. One outcome of the bust was TC leaving the band the other major fallout of the bust was that Bear wasn’t allowed to travel outside of California because of other legal issues. There was a rumor going around that he was selling copious amounts of something? and some people weren’t very happy about it. Bear winds up in jail in July and the last shows outside of California that he is able to record is 2/13 and the other shows from the Feb Fillmore run. Yikes… imagine if he wasn’t there on 2/13.
The art of the segue.
In the arsenal of the improvisational artist the segue is one of the most valuable weapons. Of course I am a sucker for a killer jam and who doesn’t love a rippin’ solo? The energy of a tension and release jam always kills and some call and response jamming is always fun. But when the music is capable of flowing from one piece of music to another perfectly, it is magical.
In my opinion you get three types of segues.
The first is when one song is naturally connected to another. Some of the most beloved songs in the Grateful Dead repertoire exist this way:
St. Stephen >the Eleven
All great songs individually but when segued into its partner becomes set highlights. We also love when you get the curve ball and a Help>Slip>Fire, Scarlet>Victim>Fire or 1/2 Step>Ryder appears out of nowhere. It can take the set to a whole new level.
The second type of segue is when the band is feeling the music and they are so locked in that they don’t come up for air. Each song is connected with seamless musical interludes. When it comes to a second set I’m looking for very little stand alone songs. What I’m looking for is lots of >>>>>>>>. It brings me back to tape trading days and putting the segue arrows on tape cases. I definitely could of taken more time with my arrows back then but Mike Reiter and Michael Roth…. their arrow game was strong!!!!! A tape case written out by one of them totally stood out and you would get all sorts of killer flair with your segue arrows.
The third type of segue is of the repeat tease variety. When your at a show you try to stay in the moment and that moment usually moves forward. As the band continues forward and segues into a new song you get that rare occurrence when the band teases or segues back into past songs or themes from earlier in the show. Neither the band nor fan is thinking at that point that this will sound great on tape. It’s totally about the moment and when it happens it’s a true mindfuck for the crowd and is a total energy bomb. When the intensity and energy of the crowd matches that of the band, You get those incredible fever pitch moments.
On 6/24/70, The Grateful Dead pull of all three types of these segues in the second set. ….and the energy on the stage and in the crowd at the Capitol Theatre is palpable!
To put this show is a little bit of cultural perspective in the life of the Grateful Dead. We have already discussed the insane touring schedule the band is on in 1970 including the craziness of May. Workingman’s Dead is fully recorded and will be released two days later on 6/26/70. When the Grateful Dead leave the stage at 5:00 in the morning and the sun rises on 6/25/70 they are headed someplace. Someplace special. 6/24/70 is the last set of music before the ‘Trans Continental Pop Festival’. Yup Festival Express. The trip that the song ‘Might as Well’ is written about and possibly the bands most beloved adventure. If you have not seen the movie ‘Festival Express’ you need to.
There is an early show and a late show on 6/24/70. It seems absolutely crazy but the ticket time for the late show in 12:00!!! When the band comes out for the electric set they open with a blistering versions of Not Fade Away>Easy Wind as we get the first segue of the set. This is must hear Grateful Dead as the band is totally rocking on Not Fade. You even get an incredible call and response section where Garcia is going toe to toe with the entire band. The segue into this uptempo Easy Wind is absolutely amazing. After a version of Me and My Uncle. Garcia lets the crowd know that we have technical preparation as Mickey has to get his gongs together and we are going to play DarkStar! The audience tapes allows us to really feel the magic in the Cap that night and what an east crowd was like at a Dead Show. Phil’s bass intro is greeted with approving howls from the crowd. And as Garcia enters the fray 40 seconds in your hear more ecstatic cries. The band is playing at such an incredible level and the mix is perfect despite the audience recording. The guitar run that begins to materialize at 2:30 stretches longer and longer as liquid Garcia pours on the crowd for a full two minutes. What comes next is another example of the full band showing all its restraint and laying down tasteful music as the liquid flows again at 5:30 leading into the first verse at 6:30. The distinctive popping sound that the crowd reacts to during the verse is….. fucking Pig shooting blanks with his gun?
At 8:45 you get our first “Oh my god” from a fan completely lost in the breakdownsection. Where it comes from and why tonight it happens but the band segues into Attics of my life perfectly… like it always has been there. Even though the song has only been performed twice before the crowd claps with excitement as it begins like on old friend has arrived. As the Attics ends and the reality hits that DarkStar is back Garcia picks up steam and the next 6:00 minutes becomes a total rock and roll ecstatic journey. Intense guitar runs one after another fly from the stage. As each passage ends and a new one begins the energy in the crowd begins to mount. The feeling groovy section of the song is greeted with howls of excitement as the part of the song is extended until the 5:30 mark when Garcia’s repetitive guitar riffs set the band off towards another perfect peak as somehow the band segues perfectly in the second version of ‘Sugar Mag’. All we get tonight out of this is a working of the melody and two versions of the first verse and the bridge before we wind up back into a little bit of DarkStar reprise and the second verse.
The crowd’s reaction as the DarkStar begins to dissolve is beyond description as these fans of the Live Dead album know what’s coming next!! Their favorite Grateful Dead rock anthem… St. Stephen. I just love hearing the fans clapping along to Stephen. As the band enters the psychedelic bridge of the song the crowd is hanging on each word waiting for the blast off back into the verse. The fans are at a fever pitch and at 3:55 on St. Stephen you hear the recording evidence of a poor fans mind being blown (thanks Dan). The pure raw power of this St. Stephen is a thing of absolute beauty and you get a major fuckin tension and release segment from 4:30 that finally releases a minute later to the approval of the crowd.
The days of The Eleven are gone. Instead the perfect segue into a China>Ryder that has the crowd clapping and totally feeling it. On this night you know the Grateful Dead are going to deliver a killer China>Ryder. The encore of Uncle John’s Band is the perfect encore for the night and the fans seems to agree as the whole band seems to be so completely energized for this version at almost 5:00 in the morning.
Getting the chance to hear the crowd react listening to the exit music really brings you inside the room. It’s almost dawn shouldn’t everyone be leaving? The crowds persistence is rewarded as coming back on stage is Garcia with members of NRPS for an absolute killer version of Swing Low Sweet Chariot. It is a giant sing along with Garcia laying down absolutely hauntingly beautiful vocals and female member of the crowd providing interesting harmonies as well.What a magical night of the Grateful Dead.
Here are two links to the show: