"Pigpen" McKernan - vocals, organ, percussion; Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals; Bob Weir - guitar, vocals; Phil Lesh - bass, vocals; Bill Kreutzmann - drums; Mickey Hart - percussion; Guest: David Nelson - mandolin, vocals; Guest: John Dawson - guitar, vocals
During this brief time period, Grateful Dead concerts featured rare acoustic sets to open the show, with a set by New Riders of the Purple Sage (with Garcia playing pedal steel) in the middle, followed by a full-blown electric Dead set.
This early acoustic Dead set is full of memorable performances and Bill Graham's introduction is no exception. Garcia and Weir are in humorous form, interjecting commentary as they are being announced. They kick it off with an acoustic rendition of "Don't Ease Me In," a song they had released as a single in San Francisco on a tiny local label, Scorpio Records, before they were ever signed. Garcia's voice is in great form. The Dead were never known for their live vocal ability, but on these acoustic sets they sing remarkably well. They were hanging out with Crosby, Stills and Nash quite a bit during 1970 and they obviously picked up a few things.
The slow tempo "I Know You Rider" is another pleasure, with Garcia crooning the lyrics in this unusual arrangement. Next up, Pigpen takes over for "The Rub," another rarity, performed here for the third time ever. It's a bouncy blues tune with great harp blowing from Pigpen. "Friend of the Devil" follows, and it's delightful to hear the song when it was still so fresh and new. It hadn't yet been recorded, but all the elements are there for it to become one of the classics. Bob Weir gets a chance to step up on "Long Black Limousine," where he is also in fine voice. This was only performed five times ever, so it's another great rarity. "Candyman" follows, another fantastic tune destined for "American Beauty."
At this point, Dawson and Nelson from NRPS are invited out and things start cooking a little more. With Nelson taking over acoustic guitar, Garcia straps on his electric and they tear into "Cumberland Blues," followed by a great version of "New Speedway Boogie," Hunter's musing on Altamont, with Garcia belting out the lyrics. Dawson adds harmony vocals to both these numbers, adding even more flavor to the mix. Nelson switches to mandolin, Garcia returns to acoustic, and they close the set with another rarity, the gospel number "Cold Jordan."
And that's just the first set!