DARK STAR As You’ve Never Heard It


The Grateful Dead at the Family Dog at the Great Highway August 3, 1969 in San Francisco. An incredible night in its entirety, but this 23 minute Dark Star with violin and saxophone accompaniment by David LaFlamme and Charles Lloyd respectively carries us across entirely new landscapes and over unimaginable peaks. It is a breathtaking auditory odyssey.



DARK STAR As You’ve Never Heard It

4 thoughts on “DARK STAR As You’ve Never Heard It

  1. Bill says:

    Hey Hal,

    Sorry if’s been so long I’ve communicated with you. Definitely my bad. Hope you’re doing well.

    As for the subject, you know I did recently (sometime in the last two months) listen to that (for the first time) based on a recommendation on another GD-related board. I was really looking forward to it – so much so that I actually downloaded the show and then put on a CD and gave it the full treatment because I’m a big fan of It’s A Beautiful Day (at least a big fan of the song, White Bird – great version on the Closing of Fillmore West dvd from July, 1971).

    And I’ve always wondered what Charles Lloyd sounded like and at various times have almost gone and seen him but never did. I think I heard that he had sat in with the Dead but had never heard anything.

    So I put the CD in, I’m pretty sure it was Dark Star that I listened to, and was blown away by how the Dead sounded, and the sound quality of the recording, and their instruments, and how they were playing.

    Then I heard the guests and, man, I’m sorry, but it just didn’t work at all for me, especially Charles Lloyd – talk about a buzzkill. I was thinking please get that person off the stage.

    It was just that the Dead were sounding SOOOO GOOD prior to the guests and it was like these people who had no clue to what the Dead were about were invading their stage and screwing up something beautiful.

    I had to turn it off b/c it was bugging me so much. Obviously it must be me because you are the third person to say how much they liked it with no one besides myself saying it didn’t work for them (I just checked Deadbase to see what they said but that show’s not in there)

    I really did want to like it – I forgot to mention I also got off a little before I heard it that it was played just a few blocks from where I live – and so was all ready to be blown away but, as I said above, that, unfortunately, didn’t happen.

    But despite my feelings towards that Dark Star, what it reminded me was that I need to listen to more ’69 Dead because, damn!, were they ever sounding ridiculously incredible then – along with amazing recordings with to-die-for sound quality.

    I should set aside a few hours every few months and just totally crank some amazing ’69 show (I don’t remember hearing one I didn’t dig besides the one above) because they are something (especially when I haven’t heard one in awhile).

    I don’t have any new (old) GD shows to recommend to you (I think I told you about the 2-4-78 show – audience tape – if not, go straight to archive and get it – a real gem, my alltime fave Ten Jed, but it’s all good) – oh wait here’s one I’ve discovered recently that I liked, 9-14-74 (Munich) – which is an aud tape.

    I’m not going to say the whole show smokes because it doesn’t but really really great versions of Bertha, Jack Straw, and Scarlet – those three are easily worth the price of admission – and the aud tape puts you right in the middle of the hall (you can find it on archive I believe and if not, etree.org (which has just about every note ever played by the band, and available to). The Eyes – Sugar Mag (and something else) encore is also really good.

    I have to say though that the reviewer in Deadbase just trashes the show, which I find absurd so maybe give it a listen just to find out if you think me or the DB reviewer has his head up his ass (though he does agree the Scarlet is amazing – but that’s the only thing he says he liked).

    Anyway, sorry I couldn’t agree with you on the ’69 show you mentioned but I think we can agree they were an incredible band in ’69.

    Hope all is well,


    1. halmasonberg says:

      Great to hear from ya, Bill! Sorry you didn’t dig that Dark Star. I’m listening to it again right now, in fact. Yeah, I still love it. Lloyd’s playing on this just knocks me out. For me, he’s right in the groove and really inspires the boys to take things to a whole new level. Jerry usually got off on guests and I think it shows here. Everyone is so “on” and inspired. Or so it seems to me. This is very much the kind of jazz playing I love so much. And the way they keep slipping in and out of the mellow sections of DS, and then raise it up to a cacophony of jazzy craziness… I just love it.

      Psyched to check out the Munich show! Don’t know if I’ve ever heard it. Been listening to all the newest Dead releases. ’77 box set, ’78 Normal, IL, Garcia Band at the Greek ’90. Great stuff across the board.

      1. Bill says:

        Well glad you liked it. Maybe your enthusiasm for it will get me to give it another try some night since I still have the CD I burned of the show.

        Speaking of jazz, last night, I almost by accident grabbed a CD from my CD collection that I had never listened to nor remember buying it (just grabbed it, and said, “why not?”).

        After I had watched, for the first time, some of the dvd of the Stu Allen show from this year’s Jerry Day show at the JG Amphitheatre in SF that took place 2 weeks ago from this past Sunday (I’ll tell you more in an email), and had gotten totally off on it, I decided to give the above CD a listen.

        It is called The Cannonball Adderly Quintet in San Francisco and it’s from two shows that occurred on Oct 18 & 20, 1959. The band consists of CA on sax, his brother on cornet (another horn), Bobby Timmons on piano (never heard of him), Sam Jones on bass (might be from the famous Jones family of jazz musicians, Elvin Jones (drummer) being the most famous), and Louis Hayes on drums (don’t know him).

        Listened to the first two tracks (each about 12 min) and was really blown away. I highly recommend this CD. The great record review site, allmusic.com, gives it a rating of 4.5 stars (which is high for them) out of a possible 5 (actually there’s two ratings there: allmusic’s which gives it 4.5 stars and 18 reviewers whose collective rating is also 4.5 stars). Here’s allmusic’s review:


        I’m not sure if I had ever heard CA before but his sax playing was incredible on this CD (I think I have one when he was much older than he is here – he’s in the prime of his life here).

        I was also really impressed by the crucial role the piano player played – his disciplined repeating rhythms were the perfect setup for CA’s great playing. It’s also a great recording.

        Yeah I recommend giving that that 9-14-74 Munich show a listen. Here’s the link to it:

        The guy that recorded it talks about his recording of it there in 2006 – he’s the one that put it there (and there’s one review of it that got 4 stars). I recommend head phones and then these two songs first: the Jack Straw, then the Scarlet. Generally I’m not crazy crazy about ’74 Jack Straws but this one has an amost ’77 intensity to it.

        That Jerry Greek ’90 show is great – I know because I was there and remember really digging it. I remember when Bela Fleck did his appearance – which of course was great – and he walked backstage afterwards.

        It was a bit weird because from my seat I could completely see backstage so I could see him walking from the stage to walking backstage. So he’s walking from one end of the backstage area to the other end (to get to the exit) and the whole backstage was totally empty except Bela walking – just a solitary figure – and yet on the other side of that wall where the stage was, there’s 8,000 ppl going bonkers over what they had just heard from Bela and JGB.

        And no doubt those ’77 shows on that new release are heavenly as is the new ’78 one.

        I’ll say a few more words to you via email regarding the Stu recording.


  2. pgubbiom says:

    Just stumbled on to this amazing Dark Star via a post found on the Grateful Dead Guide (http://deadessays.blogspot.com/2011/07/dead-quote-coltrane.html) and agree that Charles Lloyd’s contribution is amazing throughout. There is uncertainty, however, who the violinist is. LaFlamme, according to one site, denies it was him. The other three possible contenders are Papa John Creach, Michael White or Jerry Goodman. I’ve found no definitive answer.

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