Jerry Garcia :: Oregon State Penitentiary
Today is May 5th, also known as Cinco De Mayo. It’s an important day here at 2DiB for a number of reasons. Known in the Grateful Dead community simply as “OSP,” Jerry Garcia and John Kahn’s performance on May 5, 1982 is the stuff of pure legend. My original copy in the mid ‘90s was a Maxell cassette tape and there’s no doubt I wore the shit out of that thing playing it in my car’s half-busted tape deck.
In the great tradition of prison shows, Garcia allegedly only wanted to play the gig because Oregon State was home to many incarcerated Deadheads. Why has it reached such mythical status in tape troll circles? The recording quality of this long-bootlegged show is not great. Some sort of soundboard thing where the guitar and bass sound too direct, very typical of the eighties. But the tenor of the performance and the emotional quality here just can’t be overstated.
The pair open with the hard luck blues of “Deep Elem,” a Dallas locale that seems to bring on a lot of trouble. “I’ve been all around this world” must have similarly captured the weary feeling of many inmates that day, while the plaintive cover of Elizabeth Cotten’s “Oh Babe, It Ain’t No Lie” would have rung especially true with those who felt unjustly locked up.
Many Garcia and Hunter songs dealt with characters on the run. Jail is just over the horizon in “Friend of the Devil,” which serves as the most pointed example at the Oregon show. “Got two reasons why I cry at night”—the second, of course, being that very threat. What must it have been like hearing those words from inside the walls of OSP?Download the entire show here(props to cuckoobird)
Cannot believe this show is 30 years old today.
I’ve shared this bootleg more than any other, ever, hands down. I used to force copies of this on people.