Thursday, December 31, 2015

My Life With The Grateful Dead Part 3: Road Stories Take 2

November 3, 1991, Polo Fields, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA

This was the week following the untimely death of rock promoter and all-around "good guy", Bill Graham. If you're a Deadhead, then you know his history with the band. The Grateful Dead had played four amazing shows at the Oakland Coliseum, and I attended each one. The Halloween show alone was absolutely brilliant! They opened the run of shows with Graham's favorite tune: "Sugar Magnolia", and predictably closed out the run, at the free show on 11-03 in GG Park, in front of 100,000+, with "Sunshine Daydream". Fabulous. I'm also curious how many people in the field, who are familiar with the song were wondering where the rest of Sugar Mags was? 1991 was a stellar year for the band. Jerry was in good health, and they were firing on all musical cylinders. They had brought back some classics from the late-60s and early-70s that were out of rotation for many years, and the crowd was always very appreciative. It was fun to see Jerry smile more, showing that he too was enjoying the show.

As was usual for me, I showed up alone, hoping to meet up with some friends. That proved impossible, being that there were over 250,000 people packed into the area. Also, I really wanted to be up front by the stage, but knew that was going to be tricky. Tricky until I saw that the Dirty Dozen Brass Band was going to start off the festivities by performing from the back of a flatbed truck, and driving around the perimeter of the Polo Fields. I predicted they would end up right back in front of the stage at the end of their journey. My plan: follow them and dance my way all the way around to the front. And I succeeded in spades! That was one long conga-line, I can tell you that. By the time they were done, I was exactly where I wanted to be: dead center (no pun intended).

I always had a way to get just exactly where I wanted to be at a show. In my younger years it had to be right up in the front. I wasn't a jerk about it either. If I didn't get there early enough to stake my place at the stage, then I would just dance my way up to where I liked to be. I find that if you dance at a show, then people make space for you. Try it. But you'll have to commit to it the entire show, or you'll lose that ground you won. I used to love dancing my way around the Henry J. Kaiser in the 80s. I went to so many shows there, I felt like I knew every nook and cranny.

As I got older and more show-experienced I realized that being about 10-20 feet in front of the soundboard (if it's in the middle of the room) is the best place for sound. The sound engineer has an ear for the space, and the lip of the stage is NOT the best place for optimum sound quality. So today, that's where you'll find me. Let the kids have their fun at the stage. I want the best sound for my time and money.

The show was OK. Los Lobos, Journey, CSNY, Tracy Chapman, Jackson Browne, Robin Williams ("We'll paint the sky salmon" in his best Bill Graham voice), and of course The good ol' Grateful Dead. I also recall cookie-mogul Otis Spunkmeyer dropping red carnations from a plane, overhead. The Dead fronted Neil Young on a few tunes, as well as John Fogerty.

It's kind of interesting to watch the Dead be a backing band. They did that a few times during their 30 year career. I saw the Dylan and Dead show in Oakland, in 1987. Dylan looked tired, but the boys picked him up and pretty much carried him during his set. I love the story of the Dead backing Dylan and Mickey's old girlfriend, Joan Baez. Jerry couldn't stand it, and refused to come out for the encore during the 12-12-81 show, where they were backing her for a set. She called them her boys. Jerry hated that. The show is cringe-worthy.

Seeing the Dead in Golden Gate Park, down the street from where they used to live, made it feel what it may have been like back in the mid-60s, with so many happy people coming out just to enjoy a special day in the sun. I like to jump while I dance, and in my 20s I was able to jump very high at times. Because of my location in front of the stage, a photographer caught me jumping above the crowd, snapped the pic, and it ended up, in color, the following day on the front page of the San Jose Mercury News! Regardless of what people tell you, I am jumping in the air. No one was sitting at this event. And I was NOT jumping like that to Los Lobos, as the caption would lead you to believe. Los Lobos were great, but not that great.

My mother was kind enough to contact the paper about the pic, and they sent her a hard copy. About 18 months later, I was interested in getting into the film industry, because, you know, the radio industry hadn't screwed me enough, that I had to be more of a glutton for punishment. Anyway, I went to the South Bay to a casting agency, to talk to them about being an extra in The Doors film, with Val Kilmer (another story for another time, which includes a group of us singing the Brady Bunch theme with the stars of the film). They asked me to bring head shots. I didn't have any, so I brought pics of me, including this one from the newspaper. I met with the casting agent, who took one look at the pic, grabbed me by the arm, walked briskly outside of his office, swung me around, and low and behold there I was on his wall staring me back in the face! He had that pic on his wall since the show, and asked everyone he knew in the business to look for me. Looks like I found him. I was just shy of 23, and needing to get back into school. I didn't have the money to go to acting school, nor the desire. He wanted me to purchase a beeper and get a job waiting tables so I could be on call. Uh, no. That was a fun few months though, as he took me to quite a few Bay Area film parties, and made me an extra in a few films. Glad I took the chance to dance my way around the Polo Fields that day. I guess I have Bill Graham to thank for that. Thanks Uncle Bobo. RIP.

Here's a link to Road Stories Take 1



Hell's Kitchen with John Hell
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Radio Valencia in SF

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Here's the video of the entire Grateful Dead set for you to enjoy. Dontcha just love modern technology?

Monday, December 28, 2015

My Life With The Grateful Dead, Part 3: Road Stories Take 1

I went to many Grateful Dead shows between 12-30-85 when I was 15, and my last show, which I walked out of, during a short and depressing show, somewhere during Drums on 09-17-94. I went to a lot of shows with friends, and many on my own. I saw the Dead in a few different states (geographically and of mind). I enjoyed the parking lot experience, but I would never show up without a ticket. The band begged people never to do that. I can only imagine what the scene would have been like had the "fans" actually listened to the band.

I partially blame MTV for this. In 1987 MTV ran a weekend-long cutaway news series called "Day of The Dead".  Soon after this aired so many people, who's only interest in the band had to do with the party in the parking lot, started to show up, often without tickets, to take advantage of the 24 hour drug binge that was going on before and long after the show. I was a senior in high school in 87/88 and I recall so many people who never would have considered the Grateful Dead before that broadcast, now just had to be at the next show. Madonna fans were changing their style from lace to tie-dye. I was thrilled for the band to have new fans, after all I wasn't around in the 60s to see them perform. And my first show wasn't until 1985! Who was I to talk? My problem had to do with those who only wanted in on the party and didn't care for the music.

That aside, my memories of the parking lot, the venues, before, during, and after the shows, and traveling far and wide to see the band, are pretty much all on the positive side. Some of my greatest times were the anticipation of the show, straight through to the encore.

I'll be posting one show memory at a time, and I promise not to make them too long. Most links are to a soundboard version of the show on the site. Other links will take you to official band sites, and sites to purchase music, or readings I think are relevant.



May 10, 1987, Laguna Seca Raceway, Monterey, CA

I was 16 years old, living with my dad in San Mateo, about 15 minutes south of San Francisco, This is where I went to high school, and really grew to love the Dead, among other amazing bands and genres. I had already seen the Dead about 15 times since my first show in December 1985, and I really wanted to make it down the coast to Monterey to see at least one of the shows with Ry Cooder and Bruce Hornsby opening. I drove my 1981 Toyota Corolla Tercel (yes, that was an actual Toyota model) down to Monterey all on my own to see the Sunday show. I have a very trusting father.

1987 was a stellar year for the Dead. They really hit an artistic stride that year, months after Garcia returned from his diabetic coma. They were seriously firing on all cylinders. The Sunday show was tons of fun. I went on my own, but I met so many freaky and friendly Heads, that it just didn't matter.

I was standing about 15 yards from the stage, on stage right, in the "Phil Zone" before the encore of the Sunday, May 10th show, when I started to shout the "Not Fade Away" chant the crowd sings at the end of the song: "you know our love will not fade away (clap, clap, clap, clap clap)". Some guy in front of me shot me an annoying look, and told me to quiet down. I refused. I think this may have prompted others around me to join in the chant. Next thing you know hundreds of people around the front of the stage are chanting it, loudly. The band came back out and made Not Fade Away their first encore. How you like that, fella? He did give me a high-five following that, btw.

That reminds me, in November 1987 I saw Chuck Berry at the now defunct Circle Star Theater in San Carlos, California. He was taking requests, which is very common for CB. I was 17, sitting in the third row, and I shouted out "Promised Land" because the Dead play it, and I love that song. Some guy, probably in his 40s or 50s turns around and grunts "he already played that song, kid". The stage rotates in the center of the room, and at that exact moment the guy was yelling at me for being so naive regarding the repertoire of the master on the stage, Chuck was right there. He heard the guy yelling at me, and responded by saying "No I didn't. Here it goes!". HA! In your face, asshat! Fabulous. Thanks Chuck.

Thanks for reading. I'd love to hear your stories as well. Please feel free to leave a road story of your own in the comments.

Click here to read my previous story about my tape-trading history with the Grateful Dead.


Hell's Kitchen with John Hell
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Radio Valencia in SF

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Here's an interesting studio/live mashup of Not Fade Away from what is actually 1985 (it says 1987 in the credits, but it's not). Great jam here, indeed. Enjoy.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Hell's Kitchen Radio #247: Not Out Of My System Yet

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Such a super fun show tonight. Two things I love to do on the radio: interview talented musicians, and share rare music I search high and low for. Tonight you get the best of both worlds.

In the first half hour I had the pleasure to interview a very talented musician and songwriter, Manny Manriquez. Manny graced the airwaves on my show many moons ago, when I was on San Francisco Liberation Radio, while he was fronting SF's Ludovico's Technique, a great local rock band. Manny (or Manslice, as I like to recall him) moved out to Washington D.C. a few years ago, and has slowly been making his way back into the music scene. His new solo project, Outland Warrior, has some serious promise to it. The track he shares on the show tonight was inspired by author Neil Gaiman, one of my all-time favorite authors; so I'm not bias or anything. Really though, once you hear the tune, you'll agree it takes you on a journey. This should be the beginning of something big for Manslice and Outland Warrior.

To close out the show, and the year (I'm taking next Monday off to see Dead and Co.), AND to give one final celebratory farewell to the 50th anniversary of the Grateful Dead, I chose some brilliant live Dead performances over the years to share with you all. Eight tunes in 90 minutes. Hey, that's a lot for this band. I have the dates and locations posted in the playlist below.

Thanks for tuning in this year. Ever since I was five years old, listening to the family radio at home, I knew I wanted to be a radio DJ. I've been doing a radio show in the SF Bay Area since I started interning at KCSM in San Mateo in the fall of 1988. My nine glorious years at KFJC (88-97) was the most exceptional musical and broadcasting experience my young self could have asked for. Being involved in numerous underground/micro/internet stations has continued to challenge me to make the most of my art. And radio is indeed an artform. I don't know what those clowns in commercial radio think they're doing to benefit anyone, but I can tell you that the fine folks at Radio Valencia really understand what it means to take an empty two-hour canvas and fill it with aural colors that enhance the senses in a myriad of ways. I'm lucky to be here.

Upon my January return, I'll have local club DJ RasCue in the studio to funk it WAY up. You are not going to want to miss this.

Happy holidays. See you on the radio.


Hell's Kitchen with John Hell
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Radio Valencia in SF

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Fortress: Thee Oh Sees
Octopus: Syd Barrett

Fairytale Of New York: The Pogues

Interview with Manny Manriquez

The King of the Dreaming: Manny Manriquez

Interview with Manny Manriquez

Shakedown Street: Grateful Dead (06-30-85 Merriweather Post Pavillon)

Bird Song: Grateful Dead (06-22-73 P.N.E. Coliseum, Vancouver, Canada)
Friend of the Devil - Big Railroad Blues: Grateful Dead (09-20-70 Fillmore West, SF, CA)

Cumberland Blues: Grateful Dead (10-24-71 Easttown Theater, Detroit, MI)
Music Never Stopped: Grateful Dead (05-07-78 Field House, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY)

Franklin's Tower: Grateful Dead (03-13-82 Reno Centennial Coliseum, Reno, NV)
Cosmic Charlie: Grateful Dead (01-02-70 Fillmore East, NYC, NY)

St. Stephen: Grateful Dead (10-12-68 Avalon Ballroom, SF, CA)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Hell's Kitchen Radio #246: Best of 2015

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Tonight it's my BEST OF 2015 show! I don't really trust these shows. It's really what the DJ enjoyed the most throughout the year. But isn't that the idea? You don't want to hear what the major media publications think was the best of the year. You want a seasoned DJ veteran, who has over 25 years of underground, eclectic radio experience to tell you what's best. Yes you do. And then you're going to go out and purchase all that music and go see those artists live in concert. Yes you are. You're going to share this list with your friends, and tell them how much better you are than them, because you know what's really the best, since you tune into such a hip and happening underground radio station, run by the DJs who are truly in the know. Yes we are!

Really though, this was an excellent year in music. Ty Segall had at least four releases, Wand had two; Dungen came out with their first release in seven years. Sleater Kinney came out with a great new record, their first in eight years. Swervedriver released their first LP in 17 years! There was some tasty local cuts that found room in the record stacks too. Queen Crescent, Shannon and the Clams, and Golden Void all graced the airwaves with new cuts in 2015.

This show nowhere scratches the surface of the best of the year, but it's a start. Tune into Radio Valencia throughout the month of December to hear what our many other fine, and experienced DJs have to offer up as their BEST OF 2015. Put it all together and you may just have the best of the best collection of what music was hot in a year that is quickly fading away.

Next Monday night will be my last show for the year. I'm taking December 28th off to go check out Dead and Co. at the Bill Graham Civic. The tour has sounded great. John Mayer doesn't suck as much as I thought he would. Huh, what do you think of that? I look forward to hearing what they have in store. I saw the Grateful Dead perform at the Civic a few times, between 1987-1988. After that, they got too big to perform in venues of that size. Too bad. So next Monday, being my last show of the year, I thought it wise and apropos to wrap up my celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Grateful Dead by playing two hours of LIVE DEAD!!! I know you want to hear that. and who could blame you, really? I've got plenty to play, so tune in 8-10PM (PDST) next Monday night, December 21st.

Have I told you lately how much I love radio?



Hell's Kitchen with John Hell
Mondays 8-10PM
Radio Valencia in SF

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Self Hypnosis in 3 Days: WAND
How Long?: Shannon and the Clams

Pish: The Brian Jonestown Massacre
Feel: Ty Segall
Cool Slut: Chastity Belt

The Night Josh Tillman Came to Our Apartment: Father John Misty
Feel Like: Mikal Cronin
The Mirror: Damaged Bug

Sticky Hulks: Thee Oh Sees
Culture Vulture: Queen Crescent
Snakeskin: Deerhunter

Astral Plane: Golden Void
Sapokanikan: Joanna Newsome
Drug Mugger: Ty Segall
Dimed Out: Titus Andronicus

Autodidact: Servedriver
Acetate: Metz
A New Wave: Sleater Kinney

Double Fine: Honky
Sista Festen: Dungen
Slime: Zig Zags

Pollinate: Fuzz
Wilding: Moon Duo
Half-Life Crisis: Jim O'Rourke

Chinatown: Girlpool

My daughter is a huge fan of Bob's Burgers, and because of me she's also really into Portlandia. This video should make her doubly happy.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

My Life With The Grateful Dead, Part Two: Trading Them Tasty Tapes

The Grateful Dead have consumed me on and off over the years. I can honestly say when I'm not listening to the Dead, all is well. If you've listened to my weekly radio show, Monday's on Radio Valencia, then you know I have a diverse interest in many genres of music. But when I'm deep in it with the Dead then all is BEST.

I had a few LPs under my belt, including some live one's by the time I purchased (yes purchased. I was too green to understand that one does not purchase a bootleg of the Grateful Dead, EVER!) my first Dead bootleg, while walking Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley some sunny weekend afternoon. I'll never forget it. I had heard enough about bootlegs, but had no clue where to locate any. I was about 12-13 at this time, and was just now starting to figure out the world of the lumpenproletariat. Maybe it's the Dead that got me so interested in the excitement of the goings on in the underworld? Hmm...

The tape (which I no longer have (that story comes later), was an audience recording of their October 8, 1981 show from Copenhagen, Denmark. It wasn't the entire show, and the audience quality is distant, but that didn't matter at all to me. What mattered was that I finally had in my 12 year old possession was a real Grateful Dead bootleg. This was way better than baseball cards.

Living in San Mateo, starting in 1985, I became keenly aware of the Bootleg Bible that was under the counter at The Record Man in Burlingame, one town to the north. I recall walking in there really nervous, not wanting to get into trouble, to ask the owner to see the binder, which had hundreds of typed pages, each with a different band and a different show, set list included. I was wide-eyed! I remember purchasing Pink Floyd, Boston Garden, June 18, 1975. Audience again, but the sound quality was really listenable. I'm a stickler for a quality soundboard, but if the audience recording is just right (which has a lot to do with where in the venue they recorded from, which mics they used, the recording deck, etc.), then I'm happy to oblige. I visited The Record Man often, but I don't think I ever purchased a Dead boot from him. I did buy a few on vinyl from Tommy at Vinyl Solution in San Mateo. I bought some classic Trademark Of Quality boots from him, including a rare Bob Dylan "John Birch Society Blues", which in bootlegger lore, is a serious collectors item. I have lots of Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Dylan, Doors, and Led Zeppelin boots on vinyl. At the time I was purchasing them, between 1985-1987, it was geekdom paradise. This was before I got deeper into the cassette trading. Clinton Heylin published a book in 1996: "Bootleg: The History of the Other Recording Industry", which I highly recommend for more information about labels like TMQ. Great stuff there.

In the fall of 1985, KZSU out of Stanford had a Wednesday afternoon show, where the hosts would play live Grateful Dead from their summer 1985 east coast tour. I took whichever cassette I could find, blank or otherwise, and recorded those shows. This is what set me off on growing my Dead tape collection.

I even taped over a tape I had recorded from my childhood, around the age of five, from a Saturday morning family time, watching cartoons. I really wish I hadn't taped over that one. Dang.

I then discovered David Gans' weekly radio show on KFOG radio "The KFOG Deadhead Hour", in 1986. I taped that religiously. Gans went on to host "Dead to the World" on KPFA, and hosts an annual fundraiser, where he plays live Dead and does interviews for over twelve hours, every February. Living in the Bay Area was the best thing for this Deadhead. There was so much Grateful Dead all around me. I attended my first Dead show on December 30, 1985, which I wrote some about in part one. The next night, New Years Eve, was live on KFOG, and the 2nd set was broadcast live on KQED-TV. Thus began my video taping of the band as well.

Now I was armed with trading material. Relix Magazine offered space in their classified section for traders to offer their wares. I wrote to a couple of people, included my very meager collection list and requested theirs. After about 10-15 days I would receive a reply, which often had their list included and which of my shows they wanted to trade for. I would buy a brick of Maxell XLIIs and dub 10 cassettes-worth of shows and send them on their way, eagerly awaiting my package in the mail, filled with my request. Can you imaging the joy on my face when a delivery of a brick of tapes hit my front door. There is nothing like that feeling. I miss it. I always dubbed at real-time. I never sped it up. I was a stickler for that, as I knew that was the expectation in the trader community. I also am very OCD about source information. I want to know the generation of the recording, and if it's audience then you have to offer all the information that you know. If it's a soundboard, are their any audience patches, etc?

That's how things went for a while until I ended up in a band with a serious Deadhead. He was almost a bit too serious and uptight to be honest. Nice guy, and a stellar guitarist. He hired me to work for him and his roommate, to be there gofer. They had hundreds of tapes, and to be honest, that's the only reason I wanted to work for them. They let me take a box of ten tapes home at a time to tape them. Kid in a candy store, indeed. That is, until the internet. They used to also record audio-only shows on hi-fi VHS tapes. That way you could hear the entire show without the need to flip a tape over. This is even better than CDs. It reminds me of the days of reel-to-reel.

I was working at Tower Records in San Mateo at this time, and they had a penchant for promoting from within. I have no memory of how this happened, but they made me the blank-tape buyer for the store. How apropos. The venders used to come in and schmooze me into putting their tapes in a better display. In return they would give me a brick of tapes. HA! Can you imagine how many blanks I had in my possession? So many. Too many crappy Memorex to mention. Blech. At least the TDK and Maxell guys came through too.  I was growing my collection leaps and bounds by this time. I found a nice local trading group, and even went to some fun listening nights in Palo Alto and SF. And soon CD recording was becoming affordable and not so time-consuming.

Once I began trading CDs and downloading shows from FTP sites and other sites like dimeadozen, etree, and Born Cross-Eyed (an invite only site), I had access to every Grateful Dead show that anyone could ever need. And with making it possible to stream excellent soundboard and audience shows, the entire culture has changed. Sure, I still love "discovering" a show that's new to me, but it's not like it used to be, when the mailman would deliver that package to my front door, which I had been anxiously anticipating for a few weeks. Now I have the show in a matter of minutes. And I have so damn much of it! When am I ever going to listen to it all?

The CD shelves in my office are overflowing with bootleg CDs. Now I have external hard-drives that carry much of my collection. Perhaps one day I'll get to transferring over all of my CDs to a hard-drive. I highly doubt that will happen.

I divorced in 2006, and left my tape collection behind. Being in the digital world meant that I had no more need for all those cassettes. I wish I still had that first one from Copenhagen though. Dang.

I swear, if I didn't host a weekly radio show, I would never have time to listen to much of what I own.

I have made it a rule NEVER to purchase a bootleg, or download a show that is commercially released by the band. I like supporting bands by purchasing their music. The bootleg sites I use will take down any show from a band that does not approve of it being on there. I'm cool with that. Being in a band, I want my fans (read: my mother) to be able to download my shows as often as they wish. I go by the Jerry Garcia book: "once we're down with it, they can have it".

I don't trade anymore. I don't have a reason to. It's all available via download. I do sometimes give shows as gifts to friends. That's still a treat. My most recent downloads are Rocket From the Tombs, Eric McFadden, Can, and three Grateful Dead shows: 6-18-89 (which I attended), and two from a year that I haven't given much credence to, 1971: 4-21-71 and 7-31-71. Both are really great, high energy shows. Give them a listen.

As for some favorite Dead boots, I think it's easy to call out the popular one's: February 13/14, 1970 (I remember when the "secret" 2/12/70 show was finally making the rounds, and I was among a rare few who got an early copy. That made me popular in the trading circle for a while), Europe 1972 tour, Winterland in October 1974, the Great American Music Hall show from 1975, May 8, 1977 December 31, 1978, the SF and NYC October run from 1980. Those are all excellent shows. I think they got to be so popular because these were the shows that became available so early. I prefer the May 7, 1977 show over the May 8th. I love the October 1972 run! I also love anything from 1968, especially the August run from Los Angeles. What a great and very raw year for the young band. The Boston run from December 1969 is epic! 1969 is epic! I mean really, you want primal, brilliant Grateful Dead, then you listen to all of 1969. My dream is that somewhere there is a crisp soundboard of the June 24, 1970 Port Chester show. Every Deadhead worth their weight in knowledge of the band wants this. Can you even imagine? August 27, 1972, Oregon, which was preserved in the film "Sunshine Daydream" is a must see. The film doesn't have the entire show, and is missing key tunes, but I'm so happy it's out there. That show deserves the hype it's given. I absolutely LOVE 1973 and 1974. The Dead entered into a more jazzy-jammed out direction with the addition of Keith Godchaux on keys and his wife, Donna Jean on vocals. Pigpen had passed away, and would be sorely missed, but the band hit some crazy highs during these two years. There are too many great show to mention, but I will mention a couple. June 10, 1973 RFK Stadium. This is a four hour show, filled with everything you need: rock and roll, psychedelic jams, countrified Dead. Perfection on tape. The July 27, 1973 soundcheck jam is historic and brilliant. Look it up. The Playin-Uncle John's-Morning Dew-Uncle John's-Playin' on November 10, 1973 is a marathon of great playing. They only played this combination four times. Each one is excellent. Get them all. May 25, 1974 is an all-time brilliant show. There's a great matrix (soundboard/audience combo recording engineered by a fan).

I have all of what is available of the Blues for Allah recording and rehearsal sessions. There is some prime jamming going on in there. I also have all of the Dylan and the Dead rehearsal sessions. That makes for some hit-or-miss moments. I prefer pre-1975 for all of the obvious reasons, but there were some shining moments between 1987-1991, a time when I must have seen the band at least 100 times on the west coast. I love that there are some many live videos of the band available online now.

If you've read this far, (and why wouldn't you have?) then you might want to check out the online database where I post all of my shows. If you have some live shows, this is a great place to organize your collection. Go here to see my list. It's has a drop-down menu, with the artists alphabetized, and the number of shows I own next to their name. I have about 500+ shows from various artists that I still need to get up there. I don't put in the effort like I used to.

Coming up in my next chapter of My Life With The Grateful Dead, I'll share what it was like to run around the Henry J Kaiser at the tender age of 18, and being on the road with the Good ol' Grateful Dead.

To read Part One: My Life With The Grateful Dead, go here.

Here's some fun live Dead on German TV on April 21, 1972.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Hell's Kitchen Radio #245: Grab Bag Of Musical Goodness

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The weather is changing in San Francisco. If you live here then you know something is up. If you've only just visited here, or have never been near the city by the bay, then you probably figure that it being near winter, it's bound to be getting chilly in SF. I've lived in the Bay Area since 1982, and though the changing seasons can bring a change in the temp, over the past five years, or so, it's been pretty much 68 degrees, and no chance of rain, 12 months out of the year. Sounds blissful, doesn't it? Tell that to my yard.

Anyway, it's an El Nino year, and the rains have slowly begun to descend upon us folks in the bubble (we know how lucky we've had it, hence: "the bubble"), and I can't really think of anyone who's complaining. I like wearing sweaters. Mine are about five years out of date, but that being said, what was once old is new again!

The same can be said for my playlist. If you haven't heard it, then it's new to you! Lots of genres to choose from tonight, and a second hour full of tasty live cuts, including Ike and Tina Turner on Soul Train, Nina Simone in France, a rare Dead track they only touched upon a few times in their live shows.

Speaking of the Good ol' Grateful Dead, with the year coming to a close I'm considering hosting a full two-hour live Dead show on Monday, December 21st. That would be fun...for me. And I hope for you too. I'll post beforehand if I plan on doing it. There's too much to choose from.

Monday, December 14th will be my BEST OF 2015!!! What a great year for music. Tune in. I'm sure all of the Radio Valencia shows will be doing one form of a Best Of... over the next few weeks. Be sure to check in often.



Hell's Kitchen with John Hell
Mondays 8-10PM
Radio Valencia in SF

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I'm Jewish and You Know It: LMFAO
Pasties and a G-String: Tom Waits
Shadrach: Beastie Boys

Earth People: Dr. Octogon
Something Else: Cannonball Adderley
Fear of a Black Planet: Public Enemy
Storming the Death Star: Roots Radics band

Children Crying: The Congos
I Don't Want to be a Soldier, Mama: John Lennon
Every Grain of Sand: Giant Sand
Imagine: George W. Bush

Natbush City Limits: Ike and Tina Turner (Soul Train January 1975)
Long Time Gone: Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young (Auditorium Theatre, Chicago IL, 12/13/69)

The Mob Rules: Black Sabbath (August 09, 1992 - Boston, MA)
Song Remains the Same/Rain Song: Led Zeppelin (Pacific Coliseum, Vancouver, BC, Canada
March 19, 1975)

Playing In The Band/Stronger Than Dirt Or Milkin' The Turkey: Grateful Dead (7/16/76 Orpheum Theatre, SF, CA)

Working Man: Rush (01/26/80 Mid-Hudson Civic Center. Poughkeepsie, NY)
Black is the Color of my True Loves Hair: Nina Simone (08/09/2000 Jazz In Marciac, France)

For those of you who have no idea what El Nino is, take a look at this short tutorial.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Happy 50th Birthday To The Good Ol' Grateful Dead

It was on this date, December 4 in 1965, at Big Nig's house in San Jose that Ken Kesey hosted the San Jose Acid Test, and the Grateful Dead performed their first show under their new name. Can you even imagine what that must have been like?

Having seen countless bands perform live in small clubs in the Bay Area over the past 25+ years, I imagine that it was a colorful time. Considering the occasion was an Acid Test it must have been a really cOloRfuL time.

Regular listeners of my radio show know that I'm a dork of a Deadhead, and proud of it. I wrote part one, of what I really need to follow up on, my history with following the band. I've got over 1000 high quality bootlegs of their shows, and have been known as a walking encyclopedia when it comes to all-things-Grateful-Dead. And it still thrills me to no end.

There are certainly times when I take a step back, and another step back, and yet another step back; but I always come back. They're my musical heartbeat. My body lives on many genres, but this is the band that really keeps my blood flowing.

I was driving to the East Bay today in what has become the regular moderate-to-heavy traffic, before 3PM. I recently downloaded a few fan-curated comps of the Dead, following annual "30 Days of the Dead". I like that some fans think they can do a better job then the Dead themselves in offering up quality live tunes for other Heads. That's fine by me. I have about 10 hours of live Dead material to catch up on over the holidays. Good for me.

Anyway, I was listening to this powerful Dark Star from 1969, and I thought about how I have listened to this song over the past 25+ years. When I was younger and this song was new to me, it was so mysterious. I just let it take me on an aural journey. At times I was imbibed, so it really took me places. Now I listen to it the way a musician listens to a jazz or classical arrangement. How are the musicians listening to one another? What are they each offering to the tune? Who is leading at which points in the song? Are there any stories being told through the instrumentation, that we won't hear in the lyrics?

I love this band for the stories they tell us without using any words at all.

Happy birthday to the best cover band in the land. You went from taking Top 10 hits, and rearranging them while on LSD, to creating a soulful sound that drew millions to your carnival ride.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Hell's Kitchen Radio #244: 21st Century Schizoid DJ

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There were so many amazing sets tonight. For the past month or so I've been designating a "Set of the Week" to sets that have the type of character that stands out against the rest of the program. Tonight, I swear there must be at least three sets that I could have given the title to. It was that kind of night. Everything just made sense. Just take a look at the playlist below, and I think you'll agree.

Really, take a look at the Set of the Night™. It's all about T. Rex. First, there's the new LP release from Ty Segall "Ty Rex", which is all T. Rex covers Ty originally released on 7", with the addition of the track I played, for vinyl only. Hell yes! I follow that up with a John Zorn produced track from Zorn's "Great Jewish Composers" series on Marc Bolan. Finally I have to play some T. Rex. Do I play "Bang A Gong"? Fuck no! What radio station are you tuned into? Get your head out of your ass. No. I play "The Motivator" because it kicks serious ass! Now THAT is a quality set.

But later in the night I connected Black Sabbath to Primus. How did I do this? I know you're interested. Get this: The Butthole Surfers track I played, "Dum Dum", uses the exact same drum melody as "Children of the Grave" by Sabbath. I followed up the Buttholes with some Melvins, featuring Pinkus and Leary from the Buttholes, off of the 2015 Melvins "hold it in" release. But wait, it gets better! Dale Crover is the drummer from the Melvins (but you know that). He's also the guitarist/singer for Altamont! GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE! And Altamont is a local SF band, which leads to me playing the next four local bands: Rube Waddell from Oakland; The Mummies from San Mateo (where I went to high school, thank you very much, and saw The Mummies at Pony Express Pizza in Redwood City, when I was 16-18); SF's Polkacide, which if you haven't seen them then you just plain suck, and you know it. Give it up already. Really. Give it up. Finally, South Bay's Primus. They suck, but I still love them. I was at that Berkeley Square shows that turned into "Suck on This". Party. With. Me.

What a ride. If memory serves the banter was humorous at times, and I didn't stick around long enough to make you run away screaming.

There's some very early (1965) Pink Floyd near the end, and an isolated vocal track from a young and wild (though probably not nearly as wild as he would be following the electro shock treatments he received for skipping out on Vietnam) Roky Erickson.

That's probably more than you wanted to read, but aren't you happier for doing so? No? Thanks for being a friend. Can you feel the love? Just feel the love, already.



Hell's Kitchen with John Hell
Mondays 8-10PM
Radio Valencia in SF

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21st Century Schizoid Man: King Crimson
Starliner: Montrose

Easy Now: Hot Tuna (request)
Into the Sun: Grand Funk Railroad
Give Me Some Skin: James Brown

***Set of the Night***
20th Century Boy: Ty Segall
Children of the Revolution: Arto Lindsey and Marc Ribot
The Motivator: T Rex

Stay Away From Downtown: Redd Kross
Steppin' Out: John Mayal's Bluesbreakers (featuring Eric Clapton)
The Thrill is Gone: BB King
Rubber Biscuit: Blues Brothers
Spazz: The Elastic Band (request)

Baby Let Me Kiss You: King Floyd
Children of the Grave: Black Sabbath
Dum Dum: Butthole Surfers
Bride of Crankenstein: The Melvins

Young Man Blues: Altamont
Boom Boom: Rube Waddell
The Frisco Freeze: The Mummies
Glorious: Polkacide

John the Fisherman: Primus
Africa: Sun Ra
Double-O Bo: Pink Floyd

You're Gonna Miss Me: 13th Floor Elevators (Isolated vocals)
13th Floor Opening: Mudhoney

Below is a great and grimy commercial from Pony Express Pizza's Hair Metal Week. I'm so happy this place existed. We need more all-ages venues for the kids, today.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Hell's Kitchen Radio #243: 1975! ANNUAL ANNUAL

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1975! What a year! What do you recall? I was five years old, and living in Toledo, Ohio. My aunt, who worked at Peaches Records bought me the first five KISS LPs, so naturally, KISS was my first favorite band. That's all I really remember about that year.

Being older, and a scholar of music and culture, I can tell you that 1975 was a real crossover year. The 60s were definitely over by this time. Music was moving a bit more into the "Yacht Rock" era, and Disco was starting to emerge as well. Funk was at its creative peak. Punk wouldn't really break onto the scene for another year, and metal was also still in its infancy. It was a weird year.

Some of my favorite records were released this year: Physical Graffiti, Nighthawks at the Diner, and Blood on the Tracks, just to name a few.

Along with Eric McFadden and Delphine de St Paer, we delve into the many faces of 1975 last Monday night. We just barely scratch the surface in two hours time. Take a look at the playlist below, and click on the links above to stream or download this show.



Hell's Kitchen with John Hell
Mondays 8-10PM
Radio Valencia in SF

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Tonight's the Night: Neil Young
Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain: Willie Nelson
Rhinestone Cowboy: Glen Campbell

The Black Widow: Alice Cooper
Hunters and Collectors: Can
Dolemite: Ben Taylor
Fight the Power: The Isley Brothers
Fire: Ohio Players

Ten Years Gone: Led Zeppelin
Across The Universe: David Bowie
Motorhead: Hawkwind
Dammit Janet: Rocky Horror Picture Show
Dunkirk: Camel

Chocolate City: Parliament
Muffin Man: Frank Zappa
Shelter From The Storm: Bob Dylan
Eggs and Sausage: Tom Waits

Deuce: Kiss
The Jungle Line: Joni Mitchell
Death on Two Legs: Queen
King Soloman's Marbles: Grateful Dead

Rose in the Heather/Beggar's Day: Nazareth

Monday, November 16, 2015

Hell's Kitchen Radio #242: Front This!

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Spontaneity is the name of the game sometimes, in radio. I often stare at my immense record collection, and think to myself "self, why don't you just blindly choose a bunch of LPs to take to the studio with you, and whatever strikes your fancy, go with it?". This is pretty much what I did Monday night. And boy howdy if it didn't pay off, too!

A few tributes (PF Sloan passed away, as did Mitch Mitchell (who actually died in 2008, but I believe everything I read on Facebook, obviously)); some tasty live treats, some local tunes, and a speech as relevant today as it was when it was delivered over 70 years ago.

I was training a new Radio Valencia DJ tonight, and later in the show, the banter gets pretty hilarious.

Take a look at the playlist below. You can download and stream this show by clicking on the links above. Please share this with all of your music-loving friends.

Next Monday, November 23, from 8-10PM on Radio Valencia is my 5th annual ANNUAL ANNUAL! It's all about 1975 for two whole hours! And this isn't your old man's 10 at 10, either. Guitar hero, Eric McFadden may drop by. He knows a thing or two about good music.



Hell's Kitchen with John Hell
Mondays 8-10PM
Radio Valencia in SF

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Eve of Destruction: PF Sloan
Voodoo Chile: Jimi Hendrix Experience (Live 1969)

The Midnight Special: Harry Belafonte
Wooden Ships: Crosby, Nash (March 26, 1972 - Winterland, SF, CA)
Just Like Tom Thumbs Blues: Bob Dylan (July 5, 1965 Manchester, UK)

Can Halen mashup
Fangsgiving: Happy Fangs
Sunless Saturday: Fishbone

Broken Sun: Wand
Bombay Calling: It's A Beautiful Day
Cantor de Mambo: Os Mutantes
En Gang Om Aret: Dungen

***Set of the night***
I Swallowed A Dragonfly: Heartless Bastards
I Wish A Mothafucka Would: Queen Crescent
Charlie Chaplin Incredible Speech
Move On Up: Curtis Mayfield

Sugaree: Grateful Dead (May 22, 1977 Hollywood Sportatorium, Pembroke, FL)
The Mercy Seat: Johnny Cash

My War: Black Flag (April 6, 1984 Washington, DC)