Day 109: Beautiful Jam, 2/18/71

So Many Roads

The second set of this show has a Dark Star > Wharf Rat > Dark Star sandwich, and this jam segment constitutes a big chuck of the second half of the Dark Star. I guess when taken out of the context of the show labeling it as simply a jam is appropriate, but when you boil it down this is technically Dark Star.

From what I’ve read 2/18/71 was originally slated to be the selection for Three From The Vault, but someone nixed the idea. This was Mickey’s last show with the band until 10/20/74. I think that there was some bad blood between Phil and Mickey around the time Three From The Vault came out and I’ve always wondered if Phil deep-sixed the 18th in favor of the 19th as a slight to Mickey. Of course, this is wild, unsubstantiated conjecture on my part, but it’s something I’ve wondered about. Of course, the entire Port Chester 2/71 run is great and I would love to see a box set of the entire run.

Random side note: The jam segment made it onto this list of the 31 best Dead “jams”.

This segment begins slowly, but quickly Garcia establishes a theme and it is indeed beautiful. I don’t if this is composition on the fly or if this was an idea discussed ahead of time, but regardless everyone jumps into the fray and are right in sync with Jerry. A special award to Bob Weir for holding down the melodic structure underneath the entire segment.

The main theme devolves into some exploration and before long another theme emerges and Jerry toys with it in much the same was as the previous segment. This one isn’t as coherent as the former and soon dissolves into Dark Star.

Complete Setlist 2/18/71

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  1. Consult your local listings to see from whence this jam originated, but here it is now, and it sounds not quite like anything heard elsewhere. I could imagine a transition into or out of “I Know You Rider”, but this thing is certainly not that, exactly. Garcia rides on top of the couple of sweet chords that Bob and Phil suggest, freely letting feedback and odd accents drive the jam into wholly unexpected turns. Without proper context it is difficult to describe this one, except to say you’ve gotta hear it. Just before the track fades, the band steers directly into “Dark Star”, and it is a raw deal that we don’t get to hear that one.

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