Monday, March 9, 2009

Dodging flashbacks: A bootleg story

My last post got me thinking about the Phish Hampton '98 bootlegs and how I ended up with them.

Truth is, they were a gift from my older brother, Pete. I'm the youngest of four brothers - Pete is eight years my elder.

He began a collection of bootlegs while attending LeMoyne college in Syracuse. His collection was mostly Dead and Allmans but he got his hands on some early Mule stuff (power trio of guitarist Warren Haynes, bassist Allen Woody 1956~2000 and drummer Matt Abts) and went to their shows often. He also saw the Dead with Jerry a couple times in '94 or '95. His usual road trip was Syracuse>Darien Lake>SPAC (maybe)>back to 'Cuse.

I remember the day he gave me the Hampton tapes rather well. He was packing to move out of the house and called me into his room, which was eerily empty -- all but one poster remained in a room normally plastered with posters (the trippy looking Jerry Garcia "A Long Strange Trip 1942~1995"- which still hangs today) . At the time I was just beginning to discover bands like The Allmans, Gov't Mule and The Dead thanks to Pete and brother, Ted.

He wanted to give me some tapes to keep me busy so he sat me down and we began sifting through the many shoe boxes he had full of neatly organized bootlegs. As we browsed he told me great stories of the many wild 'trips' he had taken to see shows.

All the while I was dodging flashbacks of when we were kids, only instead of tapes it was either his rock collection or his baseball card collection we were poring over. Both were meticulously organized as I remember; that is, until his younger brothers got their hands on them.

You'd think he would have given me the tapes he didn't like, but instead he gave me some of his favorites, the one exception being the four Hampton '98 bootleg tapes (I think he knew how good they were but wasn't concerned with Phish).

The others were:

Grateful Dead. Harpur College, Binghamton, N.Y. May 2, 1970 (a.k.a. Dick's Picks Vol. 8. The best show the Dead played on the East Coast? The late Dick Latvala, GD archivist and founder of Dick's Picks, thinks so)

Grateful Dead. Stanley Theater, Jersey City, N.J. September 27, 1972. (a.k.a. Dick's Picks Vol. 11. This is my personal favorite. The version of "Black Throated Wind" (click to play clip) is my favorite Dead song I've heard to date)

Grateful Dead, Pembroke Pines, Fla. May 22, 1977 (a.k.a. Dick's Picks Vol. 3. '77 is considered the Dead's best tour. This recording is days after the infamous "Cornell show" which is widely-considered the Dead's finest hour - stream it or download it for free here. I also just learned that this show was recorded just six days prior to Hartford '77, the newest GD release from Rhino records -- check it out here)

Bob Marley & The Wailers. Rufaro Stadium, Salisbury, Zimbabwe. April 17, 1980 ( I just did some research about this show and found out that Marley played in Zimbabwe immediately after a ceremony in which it gained independence and a riot ensued the first night during "I Shot The Sheriff." I think this is night two. Check out the video that accompanies this story)

The Allman Brother's Band. Walnut Creek Amphitheater, Raleigh, N.C. July 1, 1994. (Pete now lives in Raleigh and we caught the Allmans at Walnut Creek during the summer '07 tour. Interesting factoid: Walnut Creek's lawn seating is sponsored by none other than John Deer and is immaculate)

The Allman Brother's Band. New York State Fair, Syracuse. August 25, 1997 (which would place Pete at the show because he was at LeMoyne at the time)

So yea, he gave me some real gems. I plan on returning him the favor by giving them back as CD-Rs as well as burning him Hampton '09 which I'm sure he'll appreciate.

Pete is now a successful financial advisor at a wealth management firm in Raleigh, N.C. He lives with his wife Lana and they have two two daughters, my nieces Reilly Elizabeth and Reagan Mattingly.

He still rocks out to The Dead, Mule, Allmans, and Neil Young, only now it's from the confines of his living room littered with baby toys. The stage has taken the form of a 42-inch LCD-screen HDTV and wine is mandatory.

Well Pete, the music I can return, not so sure about the geodes or that Jeter rookie card, sorry.

Me, right, with my brother Pete
and my niece (one of two), Reilly.
Photo taken by my
wonderful sister-in-law (and fellow deadhead) Lana.

Note: I wanted to link all the shows to downloadable music but they remove Dick's Picks from because of copyrights. Guess you gotta buy em!

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