I look all around me and see dead people…”
We’re in our local movie theater in Lincolnshire, Illinois waiting for the Third Annual – (Jerry Garcia’s Birthday) -Grateful Dead Meet-up At The Movies to begin. This year’s film is from footage that was shot at a benefit show for the Springfield Creamery (makers of Yogurt) in Veneta Oregon on August 27, 1972.
The superb footage in this film is a treat for the eyes …where has this footage been for 41 years?
The film captures the band basking in the afterglow of their triumphant Europe ’72 tour from the previous April and May where they introduced a whole host of new classics into their repertoire. Most of the songs performed in the film turned up the classic trio of 1972 albums Europe ’72, Garcia (his first solo record), and Bob Weir’s Ace. Only about half of the show is represented by video in the movie, but what is there is terrific to watch.
It’s great to see such great footage of the Dead at the height of their powers with the classic lineup Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzman, and Keith & Donna Godchaux, still settling down as a unit, in the wake of the departure of founding member Ron “Pig Pen” McKernan from the group. There is very little footage of Keith and Donna Godchaux in the film. Although heard on the soundtrack, neither of them show up on the screen until well after an hour has lapsed.
The show took place on a blazing hot August afternoon where temperatures were over 100 degrees, and indeed themes of dire heat and water conservation play as a backdrop to footage. It doesn’t stop Jerry and company from raising the temperature from the get-go on a rollicking concert-opening version of Chuck Berry’s “The Promised Land.”
Jerry, Bob and Phil are all in very strong voice throughout the show, harmonizing together on a terrific “Jack Straw.” Donna Godchaux shows up on stage with the band late in the film for a tender Jerry-led version of Merle Haggard’s “Sing Me Back Home.” There’s also great footage of Bill Kreutzman throughout the film playing the drums looking like a total biker dude.
You really get a great sense of the interplay between Garcia and Weir in the film, particularly watching Weir drive Jerry’s soloing along with his rhythm playing. There’s so much improvisational electricity between Garcia and Weir on “Bird Song,” and they musically challenge each other on a rousing performance of “China Cat Sunflower/I Know You Rider,” as the band cooks up their own kind of prog-rock-psych-jazz brew.
And there are lots of naked dancing hippies!
Did I mention the naked dancing hippies? I love the classic concert footage of 20,000 hippies getting down to the music. (It’s a scene I only wish would reproduce itself this weekend at Lollapalooza.) There are also great photos and some vintage footage of many from the Dead’s inner circle including Owsley Stanley (Bear), SF legend Wavy Gravy (who does his interview in the reclining position), tour manager John Cutler, Rock Skully, most of their crew, and many others.
Like 1974’s The Grateful Dead Movie, psychedelic visuals accompany the trippiest parts of the music, and in this concert it’s the epic 31 minute “Dark Star.” I would gladly forgo the psychedelic visuals in Sunshine Daydream in favor of the rest of the footage of Jerry, Bob and Phil improvising together. You can actually see how intently they listen to each other as they are playing.
The film and the full concert were released in September 2013 in several different formats through Rhino Records. Here’s a link to www.dead.net for more information about the Sunshine Daydream film and soundtrack, plus the full track listing of show:
1. Introduction [4:01]
2. Promised Land [3:24]
3. Sugaree [7:30]
4. Me And My Uncle [3:16]
5. Deal [4:55]
6. Black-Throated Wind [7:01]
7. China Cat Sunflower> [7:58]
8. I Know You Rider [7:03]
9. Mexicali Blues [3:49]
10. Bertha [5:59]
11. Playing In The Band [19:57]
12. He’s Gone [9:32]
13. Jack Straw [5:06]
14. Bird Song [13:17]
15. Greatest Story Ever Told [5:36]
16. Dark Star [31:28]
17. El Paso [5:04]
18. Sing Me Back Home [10:51]
19. Sugar Magnolia [8:45]
20. Casey Jones [6:25]
21. One More Saturday Night [5:03]