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Various Authors 6:38 p.m., Sept. 24
A Birthday Celebration: The Grateful Dead Movie Event will screen at select theaters around the country on Wednesday, August 1, including three San Diego locales: AMC Mission Valley 20, Mira Mesa 18, and downtown's Horton Plaza.
In celebration of what would have been the 70th birthday of the late head Deadhead Jerry Garcia, the screening will feature the 1977 tripfest The Grateful Dead Movie, as well as a special birthday commemoration on Garcia directed by Justin Kreutzmann (son of Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann), featuring the Dead’s Bob Weir, and "other surprise guests."
The pre-show birthday commemoration features Weir and other luminaries reflecting on Garcia, as well as offering an inside look at Weir’s new state-of-the-art multimedia studio, the Tamalpais Research Institute (TRI).
Audiences will also see a slideshow of rare photos of the band set to a previously unreleased live track.
“Bringing The Grateful Dead Movie back to U.S. cinemas is the ultimate way for Dead fans to celebrate Garcia’s 70th birthday,” says Shelly Maxwell, executive vice president of NCM Fathom Events. “This one-night event will allow fans to gather at their local theaters to honor Garcia as they once again experience the music that made him a legend.”
The event will be broadcast to around 450 select movie theaters across the country through NCM’s Digital Broadcast Network, whose other recent collaborations with co-presenter Rhino Entertainment include April's multi-cinema presentation of the Grateful Dead Second Annual Meet-Up at the Movies 2012.
Recorded more than 35 years ago under the direction of Garcia and co-directed by Leon Gast, The Grateful Dead Movie was shot in October 1974 at the Winterland Arena in San Francisco prior to the Dead taking a two-year sabbatical. Debuting at the Ziegfeld theatre in New York City on June 1, 1977, it chronicles several different facets of the original Dead Head phenomena and includes band performances of “U.S. Blues,” “One More Saturday Night,” “Casey Jones,” “Playing in the Band,” and “Sugar Magnolia,” among others.
The screening begins at 7:00pm, with tickets available online at http://www.fathomevents.com .
While Jerry Garcia was still alive, the Grateful Dead had a spotty history in San Diego. Bob Weir once revealed that, for years, the band avoiding playing in SD, due to what he felt was unfair treatment at the hands of local police, who once arrested him, the band's drummer, AND their manager at the Sports Arena.
Even long before that tour of downtown San Diegio in handcuffs, the Dead found this a tough town.
Their May 11, 1969 headlining set at SDSU's Spring Fling concert at the Aztec Bowl almost didn't happen, due to city officials putting up multiple civic roadblocks.
One of Spring Fling's promoters was future mayor Roger Hedgecock, who at the time aspired to create a local concert scene similar to San Francisco's. "There was a lot of opposition from the city," he recalled in a 1980 interview with Kicks Magazine. "But all the predictions of total chaos and calamity did not come true."
Hedgecock recruited the local chapter of the Hells Angels to provide security, sealing the deal with a complimentary case of Jack Daniel's. "I got a note back from them thanking me for the case," according to Hedgecock. "They drank it all at one party."
Space was provided for arts-and-crafts exhibits, as well as a booth for the city's brand-new free clinic. "Even the Black Panthers had a booth," said Hedgecock.
Held on Mother's Day, the show included Canned Heat, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Lee Michaels, Tarantula, and Tijuana-bred Carlos Santana. Jerry Garcia performed "Morning Dew," and Ron "Pigpen" McKernan (four years before he died) sang lead on a 20-minute version of "Hard to Handle."
Pigpen also fronted the band for "Good Lovin'," "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl," and "Turn on Your Love Light," the last highlighted by a jam with Santana's percussionists and singer.
Much of the show was aired live on KPRI-FM, and tapes of the broadcast still circulate among tie-dyed and squinty-eyed collectors.
Another oft-bootlegged San Diego Dead show happened December 28, 1978, at downtown's Golden Hall. The second of a two night stand, it was one of the Dead’s last performances with soon-to-be-fired keyboardist Keith Godchaux.
An audience-recorded tape of the show has long circulated – with an much-cursed break during “Eyes Of The World” - but now a soundboard recording of all 21 (or so) songs, provided by Dead guitarist Bob Weir, is available to fans online.
Some review excerpts from the trading website Deadbase: “The Tennessee Jed solo has always fascinated me and this one is in my top twenty percent...[Bob] Weir of course screws up the lyrics to Truckin’…5:01 into Wharf Rat, Jerry yells ‘Quiet!’ I think he was directing it to Keith.”
“Nice Sugaree opener, although in the middle, Donna [Godchaux] gets a little too wobble waily [sp].”
“The Shakedown [Street] is tight and super-funky. Bob's rhythmic fills are just fantastic…Check out the transition between Truckin’ and Wharf Rat. Picture perfect.”
“The Estimated Prophet lead, it's a friggin' anthem. One can imagine ancient Irish warriors racing into battle with the bagpipes playing this tune.”
“The Eyes of the World is quick-paced but clean. In the jam coming out of it, there's a short section where Phil [Lesh] and Keith are definitely playing Turn On Your Lovelight, sans Pigpen, alas.”
"Eyes is glorious in its noodley [sp] splendor. What are those, 1/164th notes?”
As for the San Diego show where Weir and company got busted, that happened July 1, 1980.
Dead fans, however believable their addled faculties may be, usually cite the band's 1980 album Go To Heaven as the nadir of their recording career, though "Alabama Getaway" and "Don't Ease Me In" became later concert staples. That year's tour still managed to bring out the deadheads in big numbers for an appearance at the Sports Arena. Advance press reports made it clear that local police were "on guard" for the expected influx of illicit drugs and illegal activity in the parking lot and audience seats.
Even before the show started, several people were arrested for smoking pot. One bust was witnessed from alongside the stage by Dead members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and band manager Danny Rifkin.
The trio tried to intervene, cajoling onlookers to join them in separating the young potsmoker from police officers trying to effect the arrest. Cops pulled out additional handcuffs and arrested Weir, Hart and Rifkin for "suspicion of inciting a riot."
The three defendants had to return to San Diego several weeks later to face charges. Their offense was reduced to a low-grade misdemeanor, fines were paid, and everyone walked out of the courtroom with a grudge against the SDPD that lingers to this day.
"We couldn't believe what fascists they are down there," Weir told Golden Scarab, a Dead fanzine, in 1999. "We almost never went further south than Irvine after that. We didn't wanna set the kids up to be busted by a bunch of gorillas with no education, who hate rock and roll music."