Today in Grateful Dead History: September 30, 1976 – Mershon Auditorium – Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

stealieLet’s cap a week of nothing but shows from the 70’s with this hidden gem from Columbus, 1976.

The Dead start off the night with The Music Never Stopped, a relatively new song that attains full flight in 1977.  But tonight the boys launch into a closing jam that differs from most of the usual Music Never Stopped jams.  This little sequence, call the Mind Left Body Jam, was usually played around Truckin’ or The Other One in 1973 and 1974.  So it’s really cool to hear it pop up here, in the opening tune.  This won’t be the last time tonight that the Dead produce amazing results in unexpected places.

Next up on the highlight reel is Crazy Fingers.  In my opinion, 1976 was THE year for Crazy Fingers.  The band was well-rehearsed, the tempos were a little slower, the venues were smaller and the whole group could really dig into this intricate number.  And oh boy do they rip into it tonight.  This song is a whirling dervish culminating in that beautiful, sensuous, feel-good exit jam that just makes you think of summertime.

We were talking earlier about unexpected jams – another one pops up in Scarlet Begonias.  This song starts off a little ragged, but by the time the Dead get halfway through, you know they’ve got trouble on their minds.  The second half of this song swings with an unusual rhythm and the playing follows.  It’s not like the Scarlet Begonias you’re used to.  And all of this, remember, is still in the first set.

The second set opens with a very nice Lazy Lightning>Supplication and then moves into It Must Have Been the Roses and Samson and Delilah.  This is all well and good, but the really cool part gets going with St. Stephen>Not Fade Away>Drums>Wharf Rat>Not Fade Away>St. Stephen>Around and Around. Talk about unusual passages – the last three minutes of St. Stephen almost sound like island music, as does the very cool intro into Not Fade Away.  The band is drawn into the typical Not Fade Away rhythm pattern, only to pull back out into a looser beat before finally deciding to start the song.  The transition into Wharf Rat doesn’t reveal itself for a while – I thought they were going into The Wheel until right before the song began.  This hide and seek musical exploration typifies the entire evening.  From there we run back into Not Fade Away before St. Stephen ties everything together again. (Unfortunately, it’s cut on this recording).

But wait, we’re not done with the mysterious.  After Around and Around, it’s encore time.  And tonight’s encore is . . . Morning Dew, a song the Grateful Dead only played as an encore seven times.  (Tonight’s show was the last of the bunch).  So – crazy, unique music all night and an amazing, emotional encore to top things off.  Why isn’t this show more popular?

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that one of my friends who was instrumental in getting me really into the Grateful Dead was born, in Columbus, on this very day.  Happy Birthday – you got the show you deserve!

I listened to the audience recording of this show – the soundboard recordings need to be stitched together in order to work, and frankly, after some playing around I like the sound here better anyway:


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