Friday, March 17, 2006


St. Patty's Dead

As soon as the weather gets warm, one thing always pops into my mind - Grateful Dead Spring Tour. God, I miss those days. The Capital Centre was almost always included - if not the opening spot for the tour. If not Landover, Philly was right up I-95.

As it turns out, I managed to catch the Dead 4 times on St. Patrick's Day. As if Deadheads needed another reason to party it up a bit. But the St. Patrick's shows were always kind of special. There was always the rumor of them breaking out St. Stephen on St. Patrick's Day (although it never happened). We were usually treated to a rarity or two. Even the more jaded heads seemed to be a little more festive on St. Patrick's Day. It's a day for fun - and the fun was in full swing.

My favorite of the 4 shows I saw was probably the first - 3-17-91 at the Cap. Centre. The first show of Spring Tour '91. The band was still recovering from the loss of Brent the previous summer and Bruce Hornsby was currently a full-time touring member of the band. That always lit a bit of a spark under Jerry. "New Speedway Boogie" was played for only the second time in about 18 years. (The return of NSB came a few weeks earlier in Oakland. I was there too :-) ).

But the highlight of the night was the debut of "Rubin And Cherise". It was an old Jerry Garcia Band tune that The Dead had never played before. Hell - Even the JGB rarely played it. It took everyone completely by surprise. Another perfect example of why people went to show after show. Anything could happen.

I remember exactly what was going on when they pulled out that song. My friend Steve decided to run downstairs after "Queen Jane". He got about halfway down the steps when Jerry hit the first 3 chords of the tune. Steve stopped in his tracks, turned around and gave me one of those "Is this what I think it is?" looks. Jerry hit the same 3 chords again and Steve came bounding back up the steps, jumping up and down, WOOHOOing the whole way and gave me a big ol' hug when he made it back to our seats. Nobody really got it until Jerry started the lyrics - then the place just exploded. One of my all-time favorite Dead moments. They only played that song 3 more times before retiring it forever. We managed to see it 3 of those 4 times.

And that was just the first of 7 shows we saw that tour. Gone are the days...

Here's the show.

Grateful Dead - 3-17-91 Capital Centre - Landover, MD

Hell In A Bucket
Walkin' Blues
Queen Jane Approximately
Rubin And Cherise
Let It Grow

China Cat Sunflower
I Know You Rider
Women Are Smarter
Crazy Fingers
New Speedway Boogie
The Wheel
All Along The Watchtower
Black Peter
Around & Around

U.S. Blues

Here's an audience version of Rubin and Cherise from the same show. Sometimes soundboard tapes don't quite make you feel like you're there.

Thank you so much for this piece of history. You've made the day for me. (I'll be at a "viewing" later today... this concert has picked up my spirit.)

Oh my god. I know exactly what you mean about the warm weather and spring tour! It almost makes me cry a little. In the early 90s, if I woke up and it was one of those warm early spring days, if the Dead were within 500 miles, I'd drop everything and go. I remember that Reuben and Cherise! It was my second show with my ex (the first being the one at which we met briefly, for the first time, also at the Cap Centre, in the second row, in 1988). Those 1995 shows were pathetic. The set lists are so short. 3/18/95 was my last show. :-(
PS: I've tried to explain the warm-weather-it's-time-for-the-Dead feeling to Brian. It's something he'll never get, and that makes me sad.

PS: Prior to the early 90s, I would have already *been* on tour on those warm spring days. The dead were so godawful bad after Brent died (with some rare exceptions, like Compton Terrace 1990), IMNSHO, that I *tried* not to go, but found it irresistable, maybe trying to recapture that sweet feeling from the 70s and 80s. Couldn't seal that silver mine, ya know?
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