Grateful Dead's Woodstock '94 Tribute

Buckeye Lake - Hebron, OH

July 29, 1994

First Appeared in The Music Box, August 1994, Volume 1, #3

Written by John Metzger

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Twenty-five years ago this month, an incredible event took place in the middle of nowhere in upstate New York. This year a tribute/reunion event is planned which has become the epitome of the world's problems wide scale commercialism. There isn't a chance in hell that the peace, love, and happiness represented at the ONE AND ONLY Woodstock will occur at this year's festival.

Will it ever occur again? Probably not, although the Grateful Dead took a damn good shot at it last month at Buckeye Lake in Ohio. This is not a new venue for the Dead, but it's one I've never visited. What I witnessed was simply amazing.

For those of you who have never visited Buckeye Lake Music Center, let me explain. The parking lot is a field. The venue itself is a field. How many people does the place hold? Deadbase claims 40,000. My guess is closer to 60,000 were inside the venue, and many MANY more parked in the lots surrounding the "theater."

Peace, love and happiness certainly did abound, and the parking lot scene was by far the BEST I have ever witnessed. Everyone was very cool and on their best behavior. Of course, Buckeye Lake has its problems too. Traffic entering and leaving the site was unbelievable. Once you were there, you were there to stay. After the show, it took more than two and a half hours to get from the parking lot to the hotel at which we were staying (which was only 5 miles away)!!

Of course we also had a downpour which turned both the parking lot and the Music Center fields into an absolute muddy mess but then that's all fitting too, isn't it? The Dead took the stage, teasing Hell in a Bucket, but instead launched into the appropriate Rain to begin a nine (!) song first set. This first set, like most this year, had its ups and downs. Bertha was plagued with problems, mostly Jerry Garcia forgetting the lyrics. While the words may have been forgotten, this left the door open for some nice jam sections to the song. Other highlights from this set included an excellent, surprise Althea, Eternity (which has come a LONG LONG way), and Deal which surprised everyone and was more than just a "set closer".

The second set was nothing less than stellar as every song was played perfectly with the exception of a sloppy and somewhat tedious Uncle John's Band. Foolish Heart was a welcome opener with some tasty guitar solos. This led into the second Beatles' song for the night I Want To Tell You. The new ear monitors, which give the band the capability of some outstanding four-part harmonies, must be provoking the outflow of Beatles' songs. Keep 'em coming because they all sound GREAT!!!!

Bob Weir kept the momentum up with a beautiful rendition of Looks Like Rain. I often miss the harmonies of Donna Godchaux on this tune (check out June 29, 1976 for a killer version!), but Weir did an outstanding job on this one, packing all the emotion of those early versions into this performance. It was no surprise when Samba in the Rain came next, and unfortunately, this did not compare to the version at Soldier Field nearly a week earlier. Saint of Circumstance was another nice surprise to end the pre-drums portion of the set. Rain was clearly the theme for the show, even though it had stopped raining about half way through the first set.

Space contained some interesting, eerie, string-bending noises from Garcia's guitar, which hinted heavily at The Wheel. Oddly enough, these sounds returned in Standing on the Moon, and added a different sound for this beautiful tune. The encore added yet another surprise to the show with the return of Mighty Quinn, last performed on 6/11/92 in Albany.

Traffic opened the show with a slightly rain-abbreviated set. Nothing new was added to this performance, and this time around was the most lackluster of the 6 Traffic sets I've seen this summer. Traffic will be on tour with the subdudes now that the Dead's summer tour is over. Let's hope they add a few tunes to their repertoire and start doing some more songs off the new album!!

Grateful Dead's So Many Roads is available from Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!

Traffic's Far from Home is available from Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!

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Copyright 1994 The Music Box