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The 5 Best Grateful Dead Bootlegs From Their Utica Concerts

Sara Davis/Getty Images

The Grateful Dead preformed three times at the Utica Memorial Auditorium:

March 21-22, 1973

January 14, 1979

and March 13, 1981

Several of the bootlegs from those shows have made their way to YouTube. Here are the best of them:


Shakedown Street




This was the first song of the set list for the 1981 show. ‘Shakedown Street’ was the title track to the Dead’s 1978 album (which has my favorite Dead album cover art-a drawing from comics artist Gilbert Shelton). ‘Shakedown Street’ is also the colloquial name given by fans to the area outside the venues where vendors would set up and sell merchandise-although getting shaken down outside the Aud might be difficult considering the Utica police station is right across the street.



Big River




Lots of energy on this version of ‘Big River’ and a really clear recording to boot. ‘Big River’, originally a Johnny Cash song, is reputed to be the song the Dead has played most often live, despite it never appearing on a recorded album.



Lost Sailor/Saint of Circumstance




These two songs appear back-to-back on the Dead’s 1980 release ‘Go to Heaven.’ ‘Saint of Circumstance’ has a particular Upstate New York connection as it was first played in concert during an August 1979 show in Glens Falls.



China Cat Sunflower/I Know You Rider




The Dead original ‘China Cat Sunflower’ first appeared on 1969’s Aoxomoxoa while ‘I Know You Rider’ is a traditional blues song from the 1930s. The songs have been paired in concert hundreds of times. The Utica show was no exception.



The Race is On




The 1973 shows were back-to-back nights at the Aud in March. The George Jones-penned ‘The Race is On’ was on the set list both nights-this bootleg is from the second night.



Phil Lesh’s Fire Safety Chat



Bonus Video

Whether it was the fire marshal or Aud management, someone identified only as “the Man” asked the band to make an announcement about keeping a fire isle clear and that smoking is dangerous for you.


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