Monday, January 7, 2008

Just a Box of RH

mp3 download: Robert Hunter - 5/8/97 - Palace Theatre, Albany, New York. Grul Dead people love, but what about Robert Hunter?  Sure, they love his lyrics, he's a genius, but what a tremendous guitar player and a fine singer in his own right. It's been so wonderful to listen to Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir and Phil Lesh, the Jerry Garcia Band, Ratdog, Weir-Wasserman, Phil and Friends, as well as Brent Mydland and Bruce Hornsby and Vince Welnick and Ron Pigpen McKernan and Donna and Keith Godchaux, and we also love the songs written by John Perry Barlow ... but what about the music of Robert Hunter?  This show, at the Palace Theatre, not the Palace Theater, is a pretty good one! Whoa, I Hate Mondays! -- a lot of people say that, don't they? Not me. Start of a new workweek. Not for me. Monday-Friday's not my style. If I was at work right about now, Monday morning, I wouldn't be able to enjoy the sunrise as I am at this moment. Lookin' like there won't be any snow today as there has been for the past two or so. The cloud cover is relatively thin and quite high in the sky compared to the total overcast conditions with snow steadily falling that we've had. I do believe there even appears to be hints of sun in the distance.

Still wondering when the real winter is going to show up around here. What we have now, -6° (Fahrenheit/-21° Celsius), is hardly the bitter cold that's usually gripping this part of the Interior at this time of the year. It's actually rather tame. The real wicked cold has been here two or three times but it hasn't stuck around. Still a white winter paradise, especially with all the snow over the past few days.

In any case, that's my intro on this Monday morning. Sometimes when first waking up after not having a full nights sleep, it's not easy to get the fingers goin' on something substantial. Some people can wake up and Boom, they're ready to type about dreams they had or ideas they were working on in their head before they fell asleep. Me -- nah, I just wanna veg for a bit and not really get into anything serious and meaningful.

While I might have today off from work, not working any kind of regular schedule comes with a small price to pay -- I don't have the whole day off... I'm going to work at 9 o'clock tonight to work the overnight shift, 12 hours until Tuesday morning. So I have most of the day to futz around, take a nap, get done a little o' this and some o' that, and Press Play on a show I've had in my mp3 player for a few days now.

Robert Hunter - Grateful Dead lyricist extraordinaire
Robert Hunter

May 8, 1997

Palace Theatre
Albany, New York

1st Set: Box Of Rain, Bertha-> Help!-> Bertha,
New Speedway Boogie
, Keys To The Rain, Brown-Eyed Women,
Lily, Rosemary, And The Jack Of Hearts

2nd Set: Jack Straw, Deal, It Must Have Been The Roses,
End Of The Road, That Lucky Old Son-> Franklin's Tower,
Promontory Rider

3rd Set: Sugaree, Silvio, Tiger Rose, Wharf Rat->
China Cat Sunflower
-> Dark Star-> China Cat Sunflower->
Dark Star
-> China Cat Sunflower-> The Eleven->
China Cat Sunflower

Encore: Ripple, Boys In The Barroom

It's so not usual for me to get choked up during a song in a show... but I did with this opening Box Of Rain. This was sort of an interesting time, so to say, in the lives of Deadheads post-Jerry. He had been gone for coming up on two years. The Music Had Stopped. Bobby carried on with Ratdog and the second Furthur Festival was right around the corner, but there was no more Grateful Dead. There was no more Jerry. After almost two years you might think people should be gettin' on with their lives. Get over it already. Yeah, well, a lot of us did and for others it wasn't as simple as that.

Robert Hunter, the master lyricist of the Grateful Dead, co-crafter of so many songs we know and love, decided to hit the road in the late winter of '97. It would be his first time touring in over six years, since late in 1990. His time on the road wasn't very long and he didn't hit that many cities, but everywhere that Robert went, the Deadheads showed up. RH couldn't make Jerry come back... but he sure did fill a bit of that void that was ever-present in so many of our lives.

Box Of Rain may not have been a Jerry tune, but it sure is one of the most beloved Dead songs ever. The fans in New York's capital city were a happy crew on this spring evening hearing it straight from the man who wrote those beautiful lyrics. Just beautiful guitar playing and a beautiful version that started this show on such a great note.

Usually in a Dead show it's a good fast dancin' number to open and then they slow it down but here Bob does it in reverse. Bertha brings things up notch and with some Beatles sandwiched in the middle, oh yeah, that makes for a great time to be sure! It's really somethin' to be able to hear in this small theater the fans shouting out this and that, expressing their immense appreciation for Bob comin' to Albany and playin' these songs.

It's also somethin' tryin' to figure out sometimes exactly which song Hunter's just started playing. I think one thing that really attracts me to these tunes is the fact that they're done primarily with just guitar and so the arrangement isn't exactly as it was when Jerry, Bob, & Phil were up there playin' these songs. Could be a moment before you go -- Ahhhhh, New Speedway, sweet! Mmm, yeah, sweet is was!

Dead songs aren't the only ones Robert plays. Keys To The Rain is from his first solo album, Tales Of The Great Rum Runners, from 1974. No, not everyone in the house knows this one but that's okay. Probably most everyone here bought a ticket to hear Jerry, sort of, but that doesn't mean they don't appreciate Robert's non-GD songs, as well.

More GD next with Brown-Eyed Women. Right along with his guitar, Bob plays the harmonica, as well, almost making this Dylanesque which... wow, it's so gorgeous this way.

After some rather entertaining crowd interaction, twas time for a tune recently introduced to Hunter's repertoire -- Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts by the other master poet: Bob Dylan. Think Desolation Row is long? What a rambling story this one is.

A bit of Hunter and the crowd just enjoying being there together kicks off Set 2. Spirited versions of Jack Straw and Deal kick the set off musically. Oh yeah, what a great one-two punch that the crowd totally loves. It's amazing how just a man and his guitar can get people so excited.

Roses is perhaps the highlight of the set, at least for me. What a contrast to everything else that's been played so far. You can almost sense right through the recording the reflection going on in the room at that moment. Yet another beautiful Jerry song the fans would never hear again, so who better to bring it alive to them than the man who the lyrics flowed from in its creation all those years ago.

That Lucky Old Sun has a similar feel to it. Definitely not sentimentally loved as much as Roses, but Jerry played Lucky Old Sun in the 90's and it was one many Heads really loved. Cool to hear Bob here, for the third time this year, takin' a spin at this classic.

Set III is a little less light in that there isn't much crowd interaction as there had been. Bob energetically steams ahead with a few tunes before diving into a sweet Wharf Rat. What happens next is something he'd been perfecting since his first show back on March 1st, perfecting and building on... and something I'm sure very few people knew was coming. The way he winds through China Cat and Dark Star and back and then forth again... and then back to whole 'nother verse of China Cat that Deadheads never hear, then briefly into The Eleven... and back to wrap China Cat up -- wow... just bizarre and interesting and different and probably kind of awe-inspiring to the people in attendance that night. Whew.

Standard encores for Bob -- Ripple and Boys In The Barroom -- sends everyone off into the Albany night,
happier indeed and maybe a little bit more healed than a few hours before. No one who yelled out for Terrapin got their Terrapin, the same with the even more yelled out Reuben, but no matter because it was still such a very nice show. During this time that was still a time of transition, in many ways, for so many of us, Hunter being on tour and playing these songs... well, it just brought me to tears, this very moment, as the encore came to a close.

The Grateful Dead wasn't just music. The Dead was life.

Thank You, Robert!

Source: FOB (Front of Board) with
Microtech Geffel M-300's > DAT

Sound Quality: A+ for an Audience recording.
Nothing less than a pleasure to listen to!

Taper Unknown ... thanks anyway!

Download The Show Right Here

5/8/97 Robert Hunter - 1st Set
Set II - Robert Hunter 5/8/97
5/8/97 Robert Hunter - 3rd Set

Steal Your Face


Anonymous said...

what a long strange trip its been...

great, great lyracist

Anonymous said...

I'll go with "A Box of Rain'' as one of the greatest songs ever. Thanks

Michael and Yanina said...

I am so GRATEFUL that there are still kind people out there spreading the positive vibes. Couldn't pass up the RH show. What a wonderful setlist. Thanks for sharing. - Morey

Inspiration, Move Me Brightly said...

This is a pretty sweet show and you're quite welcome, Morey! It's my pleasure to post up what I can. I hope people enjoy this show and all the others, as well. And I'm Grateful for your expression of appreciation! Take Care!

MH said...

WOW I am totally blown away by this... this is going to keep me busy for a long time.

charlie said...

this looks great but I cant download the 3rd set???

Zoooma said...

Charlie, I just tried it and Part 3 downloads for me just fine. Did you get it to work? Try it again. If you have a problem, let me know once again and I'll see what I can do.

charlie said...

now I got it

one says one number and the other another
but they were set at the same time. Hmmm...

Calvin and Hobbes in the snow -- animated