Today In Grateful Dead History: May 29, 1995 – Portland Meadows, Portland, OR

dancing-bear I can’t believe that I’m starting this new site with a show from 1995, but today’s other offerings aren’t great, sound-wise, so why not?  (If you’d like to find my old posts at my other site, click here.)

1995 shows have a terrible reputation because Jerry was slowly sliding towards death and on many nights he hardly showed up at all.  But this doesn’t mean that the shows necessarily stunk, just that Jerry’s contributions were usually pretty bad or, if you’re a glass half full kinda person, you could say that Jerry was not up front in the mix.  So in 1995 there are typically a ton of missed lyrics, vocals that come in half a verse late and, as is the case here, very low or non-existent Jerry guitar parts.

This leads to some interesting musical passages, like the long vamp in Terrapin Station while the band presumably waits for Jerry to remember to start singing the next part of the song.  (It’s actually not that bad.)  Or the jam at the end of The Music Never Stopped that features Vince on keyboards for a couple of minutes and Jerry on guitar for about 30 seconds.  Again, it doesn’t sound terrible, just not “right”.

But because Jerry is not doing a lot, we’re able to hear the other band members do their thing, which can be great at times.  For instance, Walkin’ Blues is a good-natured romp and Looks Like Rain is also well-played.  The Shakedown Street that opens the 2nd set, again with Jerry miscues throughout, has some really cool jamming between Phil and Bob and Drums / Space takes some interesting twists and turns.  (Seriously, if you’re willing to sit through them, the 1995 versions of Drums / Space can be very neat little mini-shows.)

So it’s not all bad here in 1995.  Take a listen and see for yourself.  Here’s a link to a pretty good audience tape that does have some moving microphone issues at the start of both sets: