LOS ANGELES, CA: On July 28, 1973, The Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers performed for over 600,000 people at the Watkins Glen Summer Jam. It was the largest Rock Festival of the era. Coming 4 years after Woodstock in nearby Bethel, New York attracted 500,000 rock fans in August 1969. The Dead performed an epic show at Watkins Glen that has become legendary in Deadhead lore. (Flashback: Summer Jam brings 600,000 music fans to Watkins Glen in 1973)
Now it has been captured and remixed in a stellar digital afterlife that can be found on America’s musical archive, YouTube.
Wall of Sound and master mixer Scott Clugston
The sonic auteur who painstakingly merged and remixed various tapes and versions of the setlist that day is the Wall of Sound channel. They have chronicled and digitally remixed and balanced the sound for dozens of Grateful Dead shows through the years. This yeoman’s work gives us a pristine archive of some of the greatest recordings of the Grateful Dead to survive the long strong trip that continues even as you listen to this setlist.
Mastered by Scott Clugston on March 9, 2018, he explains his process in this way:
“This digital master is part of an ongoing effort to catalog my favorite shows in the highest sound quality possible. To the best of my knowledge, each recording is the clearest available version. Some recordings may be “Matrix” (a mix of soundboard and audience taping). Files have also been combined so that transitions between songs are seamless. All recording info has been copied from etree.org.**”
Deadheads around the world thank him Gratefully.
Grateful Dead Grand Prix Racecourse Watkins Glen, NY Saturday July 28, 1973. Recording Info: SBD ... Master Reels ... .wav 24-bit/96k (Master Reels transferred by Rob Eaton) Notes: - Thanks to Rob Eaton for both the master reel source and transfer - Thanks to Charlie Miller for coordinating this effort
Grateful Dead Watkins Glen Set List
Intro, Bertha, Beat It On Down The Line, Brown Eyed Women, Mexicali Blues, Box Of Rain, Here Comes Sunshine, Looks Like Rain, Row Jimmy, tuning, Jack Straw, Deal, Playin’ In The Band
Loose Lucy, Big River, He’s Gone … Truckin’ … Nobody’s Fault But Mine Jam … El Paso, China Cat Sunflower/ I Know You Rider, tuning, Stella Blue, Eyes Of The World … Sugar Magnolia Encore: Sing Me Back Home
Stand out tracks in set one include Brown Eyed Women, and stellar versions of Box of Rain, Here Come Sunshine, Looks like Rain, and Jack Straw. China Cat Sunflower/I Know You Rider is as good as it gets, and Eyes of the World gets a vigorous workout.
Its a sheer joy to hear the Dead in their absolute prime. Especially Jerry Garcia.
The sound quality throughout the mix is exquisite. Jerry’s guitar and the balance of sound is right upfront. Clear as a bell. It is safe to say that listening to this digital remix is the closet thing to having been there.
In fact its probably better, in terms of being able to hear the music.
The legendary Watkins Glen Summer Jam festival
At Watkins Glen, there were sales of 150,000 tickets at $10 each. The other 450,000 people just showed up. There were so many people there that most couldn’t actually see the stage. Sound towers were sequenced so that towers at the back of the crowd were synchronized by milliseconds with those in the front. This was so that stage sound would arrive simultaneously with amplified PA towers further back.
The Grateful Dead opened the show, followed by The Band, and then an epic set by The Allman Brothers.
At the end of the Allman Brothers encore there was a Grateful Dead /Dickie Betts jam on Not Fade Away, Mountain Jam and Johnny B Goode.
Grateful Dead Soundcheck at Watkins Glen – July 27, 1973
Tens of thousands were already there the day before the concert, on July 27th. And they had the treat of watching the soundcheck. While The Band played a brief 20-minute soundcheck, and the Allman Brothers did the same, The Grateful Dead played a full two sets for the delighted crowd. It was a precursor for the daylong extravaganza to come.
Set 1: Promised Land, a fabulous Sugaree, Mexicali Blues, a transcendent Birdsong, Big River, Tennesee Jed.
Set 2: Mississippi Half Step Uptown Toodeloo, Me and My Uncle, Jam, Wharf Rat, Around and Around.
The soundcheck audio file has not been remixed to the level of the Wall of Sound tape of the following night. It still captures crucial performances of a legendary band on a historic night.
Preserving the Grateful Dead at Watkins Glen for all time
The Grateful Dead at Watkins Glen was a high point in the bands most creative era. Wake of The Flood had just been released. The Jerry Garcia solo album Garcia was prominently featured in Deal and Bird Song. the Bob Weir album Ace is featured by a truly fabulous version of Looks Like Rain.
With gratitude and love from Grateful Dead fans everywhere, Watkins Glen will live on as a digital monument to an era that remains a powerful musical force. Now preserved for all time thanks to the dedication of people like Scott Clugston and Wall of Sound.