Day 244: Black Peter, 3/14/90

As some may have seen on the DFAY twitter feed I purchased the new Spring 1990 (The Other One) box set (There are still a few copies left over at, I believe). Let me just say that the shows sound absolutely phenomenal.

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Because I’ve limited these pages to officially released material some years might be more represented than others, especially now that two complete tours have been released – Europe 72 and Spring 1990. I happen to be a huge fan of the Spring 1990 tour so there will likely be a healthy serving of Spring 90 in the coming months. I’m sorry I’m not sorry.

From the get-go it was clear that the sound on the Spring 1990 The Other One box set was a cut above. My first “HOLY CRAP!” moment of listening to the box set came with today’s Black Peter therefore it only seemed appropriate to make it the first song from the new box set to highlight here.

I’m in the midst of reading Blair Jackson’s biography, Garcia: An American Life and I just read the following passage after selecting this tune and drafting this post:

For the rest of Garcia’s career, “Black Peter,” so often dirgelike in the early ’80s, would be one of his most powerful tunes, no doubt because it now had a special resonance for him.

The above quote (located on page 358 in the text) comes from the chapter detailing Jerry’s return to performing after his coma in 1986. I read that and thought, “YES! 3/14/90 is a perfect example of this.”

This one slinks right out of the gate. Weir offers some serpentine additions and Phil takes his bass out for a leisurely stroll. Oh, and did I mention that Phil is swinging like a Mofo here? His swinging line is what jumped out to me when I first heard this track. The B3 swirls add just the right texture throughout. Brent doesn’t over do it and lets the song breathe. (Weir plays some neat harmonics right after the 2 minute mark. Love it.) Jerry’s solo is methodical and deliberate, and he coaxes some tasty sustain out of Tiger here. There’s a bit of growl to his tone as well which provides an interesting contrasting texture. And all the while Phil just swings away. I can’t get over how sweet he sounds here. Bob and Brent join in on vocals for the bridge, which brings with it a dynamic rise. The boys are really feeling Black Peter on this evening. The end of the bridge casually eases back to the swing vibe previously established. It sounds like Weir is messing around with a slide late in the song and I’m a little wary, but as we get to the “Run and see”s it sounds like he’s abandoned it. Jerry lets it rip, but only briefly, which is kind of a bummer. I thought we were due one more big solo to end but instead they quickly shift gears and move to the next song.

Complete Setlist 3/14/90

Previous Black Peter DFAY Selections

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