Grateful Dead: 9/19/1987

This was the last show of our Dead tour. The band would play another night at the Garden after this, but I would be heading back to Miami with my friends Julie and Miriam. My brother, who graciously provided us a place to stay while in New York, was planning to go with us to this show. He did not have a ticket, and the show was sold out way in advance, but he went into the city with us hoping to find a ticket.

Scalping was illegal in New York at this time, but there were still people outside trying to hawk tickets. One of them came up to us and asked if we were looking for tickets. My brother inquired as to how much, and he replied $100. Now my bro fully expected to pay more for the ticket, but $100 for a ticket that cost $18.50 was insane, so he declined. But immediately, this tall, skinny hippie came up and addressed the guy selling the tickets.

“Hey man. You got a ticket for sale?”

“Yeah. $100.”


The skinny hippie dude was broadcasting this to the world. Obviously, the scalper got a little nervous.

“Shhhhhhh. Be quiet.”


At this point, a mass of tie-dyed freaks surrounded the scalper and began chanting: “Scalpers are Scum! Scalpers are Scum.” The scalper slunk away like a rat, crawling back to the sewers.

Anyway, my brother eventually scored a ticket (I think he paid $50, which he was happy about), and we went in to see the show.

This particular show was simulcast on TV as part of Farm Aid III, which I thought was pretty cool. Bob Weir made a point of mentioning the plight of farmers and making a plug for Farm Aid as they were segueing into “Maggie’s Farm.”

After more than a week of travelling around with the intrepid Dead community, I was feeling pretty frazzled. During the intermission, I had left my seat to get a refreshment, and as I was walking back up to our seats in the upper decks, I felt everything begin to spin. The next thing I knew, I saw what appeared to be the Hand of God reaching out of the clouds to help me up. As things came into focus, I realized it was Miriam’s hand. I had passed out and had a near disaster. Falling backwards down the stairs at Madison Square Garden would have been a most unfortunate way to end the tour, but thankfully someone was behind me and caught me as I fell. Miriam would later recount how my eyes rolled back into my skull as I began the fall backwards. To this day, I am grateful to whoever it was that saved me.

Overall, the show was great, but I confess being a little disappointed with “Black Muddy River” as an encore, especially since they had played it already as an encore the second night at MSG. But I quickly got over it.

We had a roll of 69¢ stickers, so on the way back to Jersey City, we strategically pasted stickers around the Port Authority. My brother told me that for about a year afterwards, he kept seeing those stickers and would chuckle inwardly, remembering the good times we had at the show.

Anyway, here is the setlist, and that concludes this run of Dead shows. “What a long, strange trip it’s been.”

Set 1:

  • Mississippi Half-Step
  • It’s All Over Now
  • High Time
  • Mexicali Blues
  • Big River
  • When Push Comes to Shove
  • Box of Rain
  • Don’t Ease Me In

Set 2:

  • Crazy Fingers
  • Uncle John’s Band
  • Playin’ in the Band
  • Drums > Space
  • I Need a Miracle
  • Maggie’s Farm
  • Black Peter
  • Around and Around
  • Turn on Your Love Light


  • Black Muddy River

Grateful Dead: 9/18/1987

This was one of the best Grateful Dead concerts I have ever seen. But before I get into the details of this show, I want to share what happened the day before.

The band was taking a night off after the second Madison Square Garden show, so Julie, Miriam and I decided to cruise around the city for a bit and see the sights. While we were on the subway, I noticed a crazy person get on at one of the stops. He was looking around for someone to mess with, so I avoided eye contact, but kept him in my sights. Well, some poor schmuck seated near the doors must have made eye contact with this nutbag, because he laid into him.

“What the fuck are you looking at? You want my fuckin’ shirt? Huh? You want my shirt? I’ll kick your fuckin’ ass!”

The poor dude was obviously taken aback and calmly offered his seat to the crazy guy. This only escalated the situation.

“I don’t want your fuckin’ seat! You want my fuckin’ shirt? I’ll kick your fuckin’ ass!”

The train pulled to a stop at the next station, and the poor victim got up and made a quick exit, but not quick enough. Crazy dude followed him off the train.

“Hey! Come back here! I’ll kick your ass! Want my fuckin’ shirt…”

And the abuse trailed off as the doors closed and the train pulled away. I felt sorry for the guy who was being harassed, but was very grateful that we avoided the wrath of Crazy Shirt Dude.

Anyway, the next day, we were back to seeing the Dead. For this night, we had seats to the left of the stage, affectionately known as the Phil Zone. While we were hanging out, we noticed a person near us frequently checking his watch and marking down notes in a notebook. The first set started, and we danced and had a great time, but we kept noticing this guy with his watch and notebook. Now, I’m used to people writing down setlists, but this seemed a little extra.

After a somewhat short first set, the lights came up and the guy was busy again checking his watch and making notes. We asked if he was keeping the setlist, and he explained that he was timing everything. He then went on to explain in painful detail all the timing of the first set: what time the lights went down, what time the band came on stage, how long they tuned, how long each song was, the amount of time between songs. It was mind-boggling the amount of data this guy gathered. After showing us all the info, he deduced that the second set would be phenomenal, based upon all the time data he recorded during the first set. The dude was right!

I don’t think the setlist, or my words, can adequately convey the energy that was generated in this second set. Not only did they play what may be my three favorite Dead songs in the same set: “Shakedown Street,” “Terrapin Station,” and “Morning Dew,” but everything about this set was awesome beyond description. While I considered myself a Deadhead already, it was during this set that I was transported to a level of Deadication that I had not felt before. If you are a Dead fan, go and listen to the show on You’ll see what I mean.

Here is the full setlist.

Set 1:

  • Hell in a Bucket
  • Sugaree
  • Walkin’ Blues
  • Candyman
  • Masterpiece
  • Bird Song

Set 2:

  • Shakedown Street
  • Man Smart/Woman Smarter
  • Terrapin Station
  • Drums > Space
  • Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad
  • All Along the Watchtower
  • Morning Dew
  • Good Lovin’ >
  • La Bamba >
  • Good Lovin’


  • Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

Grateful Dead and New York City Percussion Ensemble: 9/16/1987

For the second night at Madison Square Garden, we had seats straight back in the lower level. When we got in and took our seats, I noticed something different about the stage—there were chairs set up along the front of the stage. My heart began to race! I immediately assumed that this meant the Dead were going to play an acoustic set. I had never seen the Dead play acoustic, but had heard recordings and was psyched at the prospect. Alas, they did not do an acoustic set, but we were treated to a nice surprise.

The New York City Percussion Ensemble opened the show, unannounced. They were awesome, and had some incredible African dancers accompanying the drummers. One of the people sitting near us said that Babatunde Olatunji was one of the percussionists. I have not been able to confirm this, but I am going with the belief that he was there and that I got to see the legendary drummer perform.

After the drummers, the Dead came out and played two solid sets, so it ended up being quite a long night of music. High points for me were Brent singing “Devil With a Blue Dress > Good Golly Miss Molly,” and a roaring version of “Truckin’” coming out of drums and space.

A side note about this show that is pretty amazing. There were a couple of guys sitting in front of us, and we chatted a bit between sets. Well, after the tour was over and we were all back in South Florida, my friends Julie and Miriam (same friends I was at these shows with) went with me to a Grateful Dead night at a club in Fort Lauderdale. While we were there, these two guys came up to us and said “Hey! Weren’t you at the Dead shows at Madison Square Garden, toward the back, on the second night?” They were the same dudes who were sitting in front of us! We exchanged phone numbers and became close friends. In fact, one of them, Armando, is still one of my closest friends today. It was kind of like some strange twist of fate.

Anyway, here is the full setlist from the show. “New York’s got the ways and means; but just won’t let you be, oh no.”

Set 1:

  • Touch of Grey
  • Scarlet Begonias
  • Little Red Rooster
  • Dire Wolf
  • My Brother Esau
  • High Time
  • Let it Grow
  • Don’t Ease Me In

Set 2:

  • Bertha
  • Greatest Story Ever Told
  • Devil With a Blue Dress
  • Good Golly Miss Molly
  • Devil With a Blue Dress
  • He’s Gone
  • Drums > Space
  • Truckin’
  • Wharf Rat
  • Throwin’ Stones
  • Not Fade Away


  • Black Muddy River

Grateful Dead: 9/15/1987

The day after the third Dead show at the Capitol Centre was a travel day. So me and my friends, Julie and Miriam, packed up our stuff and boarded a train from D.C. to New York City, ready to see another four shows at Madison Square Garden. The band was playing five nights, but we were heading back to Miami after the fourth night. We had lives we needed to get back to.

We passed the time on the train ride creatively, making woven bracelets to sell outside the Garden. Cash was already running low, so we had to generate a little income, if possible.

We arrived in NYC and were supposed to meet my brother who was living in Jersey City at the time. He was working, so we had some time to kill. The three of us sat on the sidewalk and leaned against a tall building, feeling somewhat frazzled. We must have looked even worse than we felt, because some older gentleman who was walking past reached into his pocket and tossed us a small stack of bills, then kept walking. We were taken aback, to say the least, but grateful for the extra cash. We added it to the communal funds.

Later, we met my brother and took the bus from the Port Authority to Jersey City. He and his wife had a nice townhouse there, so we basked in the comfort.

The next day, rested and refreshed, we got instructions from my brother how to get into the city and how to get back home afterwards, then headed out for the first of the Garden shows. When we got to MSG, we were greeted by swarms of tie-dyed freaks crowding the sidewalks as business people in charcoal suits zig-zagged through the sea of color. Looming over the entrance to the Garden was a giant inflatable King Kong, sporting a tie-dye shirt. It was quite the spectacle.

Upon entering the Garden, I got somewhat annoyed that the ticket taker gave me such a crappy ticket stub. I even asked if he could give me the part with the band’s name on it, but he rudely refused. Not much I could do about it.

We got inside and found our seats. The Garden is massive, but after the uncomfortable experiences at the Cap Centre, it felt safe and pleasant. A much better vibe, right off the bat.

The show was solid, and Brent got things rockin’ right off the bat with a great version of “Hey Pocky Way.” Second set was really fun, and “Gimme Some Lovin’” echoed how I was feeling—so glad I made it! “Baby Blue” encore was a sweet way to end the night.

Catching the bus back to Jersey was uneventful, although there was no shortage of strange folk lurking around the Port Authority. But we caught our bus, made it to my brother’s, and wound down the evening.

Here’s the full setlist.

Set 1:

  • Hey Pocky Way
  • New Minglewood Blues
  • When Push Comes to Shove
  • Me and My Uncle
  • Mexicali Blues
  • Row Jimmy
  • Queen Jane Approximately
  • Tennessee Jed
  • Music Never Stopped

Set 2:

  • China Cat Sunflower
  • I Know You Rider
  • Estimated Prophet
  • Eyes of the World
  • Drums > Space
  • The Wheel
  • Gimme Some Lovin’
  • Black Peter
  • Sugar Magnolia


  • It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue

David Bromberg: 11/9/1989

Since some of you might not be familiar with David Bromberg, I figured I would share his bio from Wikipedia.

David Bromberg (born September 19, 1945) is an American multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter. An eclectic artist, Bromberg plays bluegrass, blues, folk, jazz, country and western, and rock and roll. He is known for his quirky, humorous lyrics, and the ability to play rhythm and lead guitar at the same time.

Bromberg has played with many famous musicians, including Jerry Jeff Walker, Willie Nelson, Jorma Kaukonen, Jerry Garcia, Rusty Evans (The Deep) and Bob Dylan. He co-wrote the song “The Holdup” with former Beatle George Harrison, who played on Bromberg’s self-titled 1972 album. In 2008, he was nominated for a Grammy Award. Bromberg is known for his fingerpicking style that he learned from Reverend Gary Davis.

(Source: Wikipedia)

So as you can see, he is no slouch. This was actually the second time I had seen Bromberg. I went with my dad to see him in the 70’s at Avery Fisher Hall in New York (alas – I do not have that stub). When I saw he was coming to Tobacco Road, I figured I had to go see him again, since the Road was the perfect place for his style of music.

Tobacco Road was a famous blues bar on the Miami River that was a speakeasy in the time of prohibition, and was the oldest bar in Miami until it was demolished on October 26, 2014. So it was a regular haunt for me and my music-loving friends. This particular night I went with my friends Todd and Craig. The place was packed, and the music was incredible. Seeing Bromberg in this venue was really something special.

I could not find a setlist from this particular show, but found a generic setlist from 1989.

Generic 1989 Bromberg Setlist:

  • Brown’s Ferry Blues / There’s No Business Like Show Business
  • Framed
  • Chump Man Blues
  • Keep On Drinkin’
  • I Like to Sleep Late in the Morning
  • Summer Wages
  • Stagger Lee
  • I’ll Take You Back
  • First I Look at the Purse
  • Midnight Hour Blues
  • Sharon


  • Fiddle Medley
  • Delia’s Gone

The Outlaws and Wet Willie: 5/26/1978


This is quite an old ticket stub, and it was torn in a way that I could not make out the date. So I did a quick Google search for The Outlaws at the Suffolk Forum, and discovered that this was actually a concert that was made into an album! Here’s a link to Amazon where you can purchase the album online or just read some reviews.

Anyway, let me share what I remember about this concert.

This was a pretty wild concert. New Yorkers who were into the Southern rock scene were rowdy, to put it mildly. I went with my friend Ola and two of Ola’s friends, Frank and Rick. Wet Willie opened the show, and I was not that impressed. In fact, the only thing I remember about them is the crowd, which was throwing a lot of projectiles around the venue. I was happy to be higher up in the stands away from the insanity of the open floor.

The Outlaws came out and I remember really liking the show, but the only detail that stands out clearly in my memory is the encore, which was “Green Grass and High Tides.” I can still picture the crowd going nuts as the band ripped through a three-guitar solo that seemed to go on forever. The review of the album states that this was an epic 26-minute version of the song. Yeah, 26 minutes of screaming Southern rock guitar solo was something that makes a lasting impression. But what I remember most about this concert is what happened afterwards.

We did not have a ride home, since we were all too young to drive. So in our infinite teenage wisdom decided we would hitchhike home. After some discussion, we figured we would have more luck getting rides if we split into two groups of two. So Ola and I were a pair and Frank and Rick were a pair. The others were a few blocks down the road, which meant Ola and I had first dibs on cars coming past. After a little while, a car pulled to the side, about 20 feet past where we were standing. The door opened and we cautiously approached, but stopped as we saw a cowboy boot emerge from the passenger side. A drunken maniac leaped from the car and charged at us, screaming curses and threats about how he was going to kick the shit out of us. We ran towards the woods and the dude tried to kick us but fell on his ass. We made it to the safety of the woods and looked back as he staggered to the car, cursing, and got back in. The car pulled back onto the road and we watched the taillights moving away, and then pulling off again further down the road, where we assumed Frank and Rick were. We hoped they had enough common sense to stay safe. We found out later, that was not the case.

The next time I saw Frank, his eye was swollen shut and his face was badly bruised. The story we heard was that the car pulled over and the door opened, but no one came out this time. Rick, being cautious, hung back a little, but Frank went right up to the car, leaned over, and cheerfully said “Hey guys! How far are you going?” At which point cowboy boots kicked him in the face as he was bent over. He got kicked a few more times before they left him there, satisfied that they got to whoop some ass after the show.

I learned an important lesson that day: Don’t hitchhike home from a Southern rock concert, for any reason! Sleep in the woods if you must. You extend your thumb at your own risk.

New Riders of the Purple Sage with Robert Hunter: 7/26/1978


This stub is old and faded, kind of like my memory of the show, but there are some things which I remember vividly about that night.

I was pretty young when I went to this concert, which was held in the gym of Stony Brook University in New York. I went with my friend Bob, whose nickname was Ola (in NY, you were either called by your last name or by a nickname at that time). It was general admission, as was the norm during the 70s, so we got there early and spent a good part of the day hanging out in line.

We went inside and I got separated from Ola almost immediately, which kind of sucked because I was now by myself for the entire concert. There was no such thing as text or cell phones at that time. If you got split up, that was just too bad.

I found myself a spot on the first row of bleachers, which seemed like a prime location because I could stand and see just over the sea of heads packing the gymnasium floor. Robert Hunter was the opening act, and I was pretty psyched to see him. By this time, I was already a Grateful Dead fan, and Hunter being the person who co-wrote many of the Dead’s songs with Jerry Garcia, it was almost like seeing one of the Dead for me. It was just Hunter by himself with an acoustic guitar, but I remember the thrill of the performance. The crowd was very energetic and appreciative.

After an intermission, the New Riders came out. My memory of their performance is foggy at best, vague and distant impressions of peering through a thick haze of smoke at the band on the stage. It was during the New Riders’ first set that something very, very unpleasant happened. This part of the concert I remember clearly to this day.

As I mentioned, I was on the first row of the bleachers, looking just over the top of the crowd on the floor. I was engrossed in the music, when something caught my attention—a girl, struggling through the crowd, in my direction. I recognized the look of distress on her face. I quickly looked around me, but there was no where I could go. It was like one of those bad dreams, where everything slows down and all you want to do is escape, but you cannot for the life of you move. Complete and total panic. There was nothing I could do. She came right to me and proceeded to empty the contents of her stomach all over my shoes.

I decided I needed to get outside for a bit. I relinquished my “prime” spot and exited the gym. (Back then, you could leave and renter a show with your stub.) I found a piece of cardboard and managed to scrape the vomit from my shoes. I sat by myself under a tree for a while, enjoying some fresh air and a break from the human congestion. I could hear the music in the distance. After a while, I gathered myself back up and went back in for the rest of the concert.

REO Speedwagon, Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, and The Godz: 6/10/1978


This is one of my earliest ticket stubs, possibly my oldest. I was very young when I went to this show and it was pretty crazy.

My mom drove my friends and me to the Suffolk Forum in Commack, Long Island, NY. We got there early and waited in line since it was general admission. I was with two of my friends: Tommy and Schnook. We went in and found seats in the stands for the first act, The Godz.

The Godz may be the archetype for bad 70’s hard rock. Years later, when I saw the film “This is Spinal Tap,” the mock metal band featured in the film reminded me of The Godz. They were so bad and so cheesy that they were actually good, if that makes any sense. I still have a vinyl copy of The Godz’s album, if you can believe that.

Next up was Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. This was actually the band I was interested in seeing and the reason I went to this concert. At a young age, I was a big Deep Purple fan, so seeing the legendary guitarist’s new band was huge for me. At this time, Ronnie James Dio was the lead singer for Rainbow. Dio later went on to sing with Black Sabbath and after that he had a successful solo career.

My friends and I decided to go down onto the floor for Rainbow. It was insane, but we managed to get fairly close to the stage. Toward the middle of the set, Ritchie Blackmore took hold of the body of his Stratocaster and started smashing the neck of the guitar against the edge of the amplifier stacks. Soon pieces of guitar neck were sailing out into the crowd. Then, a piece flew toward us. I watched as the piece of guitar travelled through the air in slow motion and landed right in Schnook’s outstretched hand. He looked at me with a huge smile on his face, which lasted just a moment. Immediately, a fist came out of nowhere and punched Schnook in the face, and his rock and roll prize was snatched from his hand. We went back to the stands and Tommy and I watched as Schnook’s eye blackened and swelled shut. He told me that he actually saw stars when the guy punched him. I felt bad for him.

REO Speedwagon played next. I can’t tell you much about them other than they were OK. But I kept wondering why Ritchie Blackmore was opening for this band, which I had never heard of before. Of course, a few years later, REO would become super popular.

I learned an important lesson that day—concert’s were dangerous and if something sails into the audience from the stage, best to move out of the way.

Rock on!