Today in Grateful Dead History: January 6, 1978 – Swing Auditorium, San Bernardino, CA

Dancing Skeletons

This is the second day in a row with only one show to listen to, and it’s from my least favorite year of the 70’s, 1978.  It’s also the first show of 1978 and Jerry Garcia is sick and losing his voice.  This does not bode well, but the Dead pull off the 1978 upset with a Bob Weir centered show and some killer Jerry guitar work to make up for the distressed vocals.

Give Jerry credit for trying in the first set, but his voice was just completely gone tonight (and it would get worse at the San Diego shows tomorrow and on the 8th, where Jerry literally didn’t sing any songs at all).  This doesn’t mean that the first set stinks, because Jerry digs into his guitar and fires off inspired licks throughout Big River, Deal and Supplication.

When you look at the five song (all Bob Weir songs) second set, you’d be tempted to think that the Dead just packed it in after Jerry’s voice blew out, but you’d be wrong.  This second set is inspiring, starting with a really strong, almost unwieldy, but very pleasurable Playin’ in the Band that feeds into a massive Estimated Prophet.   Jerry is definitely giving the crowd its money’s worth on guitar tonight and there are multiple Phil bombs at key locations throughout the second set, but none greater than the explosion that occurs out of Drums and into The Other One.  This is a furious version of this song, with the band playing with a chip on its shoulder that you don’t often hear in 1978.  Eventually they end up playing themselves into Truckin’, which is also on fire.  Beware this second set – it’s more of a monster than you’d think, and it holds up on a second listen.

So, the Dead, laryngitis and all, have managed to start 1978 off with a bang.  You can check out all of the gory details here:


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