Carroll's 55th Street - Multi-tracking our Tribute to 1/10/79, Nassau Coliseum
With Alan's birthday passing us by this week, it was his turn to step up to the plate and suggest the songs to be played for the night. Instead of winging it during the jam, Alan pulled a great show and setlist out of the air and announced it was the show to be played on this Wednesday of Deadstein. The January 10, 1979 Nassau Coliseum show he selected was a very famous show in the annals of the Grateful Dead in that they played an unexpected Dark Star and Saint Stephen in the second set. I guess the fact they the Grateful Dead did both the Dark Star and Stephen at the New Year's show and the Winterland 10 days prior could have been a clue, but I guess for those in attendance, it was a great surprise.
I know Scott went to that show, because he scanned what he believe is his stub from that night. I also assume Alan went and I have a feeling Rich also attended. For the rest of us, 1/10/79 was just another great date that bubbles to the top in the lore of the Grateful Dead. As we discussed during the jam, this was the ending of Donna's tenure with the Grateful Dead as her 2/17/79 show would prove to be her last. In any case, the song selection proved to work out for our Donna in that most of the good beefy Donna songs happened just before the Dark Star in the second set. This gave a good early out for Donna as Deadstein would head down the spacy path that the Dark Star pointed to.
As I did last week, this week I lugged my multi-track taping setup to the jam in an effort to get a good recording. This week's soundboard was different than last weeks and finding the insert's second in-between click position to capture the signal of the vocal and Piano mics was difficult if not impossible to rely on. No matter what I did, my 1/4" jacks would ease their way out of the position I tried to lock them into. My work around for tracks 1-8 was to use the post-fader direct outs for each channel rather than the more desirable pre-fader insert-out. My other isue with this board was the fact that it only had 8 true channels, while the remaining 16 channels were hybrids stereo channels that provided no insert outs and or direct outs to tap into. Fortunately for me, I decided to bring my 8-channel Behringer digital mic pre-amp which accepted 8 microphone tracks while forwarding the signal of each track to the Mackie MDR-24 recorder using optical ADAT cables. This initially caused a problem until I figured out how to sync the 8-mic pres to the recorder. Hopefully all these channels were recorded properly without and digital artifacts, because if there are any, the recording will be toast and we didn't a back-up recording just in case. Another change from last week was the fact that we captured Kevin's bass using a DI box, instead of trying to mic and capture the combination of his two amplifiers. We also did this without any back-up in case there was an issue with the DI. If we failed to capture Kevin's bass, the recording will be bread and not toast since there is likely to be enough bass captured in mics use for other instruments to pickup the intent of Kevin's playing. Let's hope we don't have to rely on that and the signal from the DI worked.
For the first song, Promised Land, we will be able to test this theory since Kevin's channel was unintentionally muted. Likewise, Alan's vocal mic was also unintentionally muted for the first set. That's what happens when you start panicking about inserts vs. direct outs just prior to beginning the jam. At least I was able to rectify this before the end of the night. Finally, the last changes from last week's recording techniques relate to drums. This week I had a set of 3 mics on each of the 2 drummers. At some point, Lee's clip on AKG snare mic fell to the floor, so we are going to have to see when that was attached to the snare and when it was on the floor. Probably no big deal because I had one of Scott's Neuman's acting as an overheads and I'm sure that will pick up the entire kit nicely. I was suspicious of Scott''s other Neuman, it was providing a very high amount of noise shown on the meters so I could trust the signal would be good. I therefore used my AT 4033 as Scott overhead while his snare had a Sennheiser 421 and his kick was captured by Scott's Shure kick drum microphone. Enough of the recording information, we got started around 8:15, not bad considering all the setup but we had a full show to play and no time to waste so we didn't. We kicked of the first set opener of Promised Land at 8:15 and closed out the first set closer of Music Never Stopped just before 10pm. Since Kevin had already made his halftime phone call about 3 songs prior to the end of the first set, the set-break was shorter than usual and we got going around 10:30 with the second set Shakedown opener.
I think the room had its sonic issues early in the night in that we had troubles hearing all the vocals and the piano for the first few songs. After a few more songs we got a more comfortable sound in the room but we were experiencing monitor squealing feedback on several occasions during the first set. A slight adjustment at halftime was effective in that they didn't come back for the second set.
The dedicated setlist gave us good focus and drive and we waste no time and played with purpose. This left us with a pretty satisfying feeling. I don't think I personally became comfortable with my guitar playing until the Passenger, when the unmitigated letting of my hair down provided for a formidable Passenger.
I really enjoyed some of the activities in the second set including the 3-song combo of I Need a Miracle, Bertha and Good Lovin' That was a good time. The following Dark Star was one of our better ones that went all over the place. The drum solo that followed was a nice break and should be an interesting mix. Even the space had its moments.
While the Johnny B. Goode left us the 15 minutes remaining to play something additional not on the 1/10/79 setlist, we decided to call it a night at that point. There was talk of throwing in a Sailor-Saint at that juncture, but with lots of wires to clean up I think we made the right choice and just packed in in after the Johnny B Goode. Enough is enough. As far as guests we had Dr. Phil the vet and Walter. They were the two lucky ones to enjoy us. Now the hard work of mixing the recording is before me, so all I can do at this time is Freak out!.