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Live At Keystone

Merl Saunders / Jerry Garcia / John Kahn / Bill Vitt

Initial release : 1973

Fantasy F-79002

Original double LP release of live material performed by the Garcia / Saunders band in 1973.


  • Keepers (Merl Saunders / John Kahn)
  • Positively 4th Street (Bob Dylan)
  • The Harder They Come (Jimmy Cliff)
  • It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry (Bob Dylan)
  • Space (Merl Saunders / Jerry Garcia / John Kahn / Bill Vitt)
  • It's No Use (Clark / McGuinn) +
  • That's Alright Mama (Arthur Crudup)
  • My Funny Valentine (Rodgers / Hart)
  • Someday Baby (Sam Hopkins)
  • Like A Road Leading Home (Nix / Penn)
+ It's No Use is incorrectly identified on the album. The song is It Ain't No Use which was written by Jerry Williams, Gary Bonds and Don Hollinger and originally recorded by Z.Z. Hill in 1971.


  • Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals
  • Merl Saunders - keyboards
  • John Kahn - bass
  • Bill Vitt - drums
  • David Grisman - mandolin (Positively 4th Street)

  • Produced by Merl Saunders and John Kahn
  • Recorded by Betty Cantor and Rex Jackson
  • Recorded at the Keystone on July 10 and 11, 1973

Our friends at the JGMF blog have carefully compared the CD releases of the Keystone material with tapes of the July 10 and 11, 1973 shows and identified which songs were performed at which shows. The songs on this release are from the following shows:

  • Keepers - July 11, 1973
  • Positively 4th Street - July 10, 1973
  • The Harder They Come - July 10, 1973
  • It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry - July 11, 1973
  • Space - July 11, 1973
  • It's No Use - July 10, 1973
  • That's Alright Mama - July 11, 1973
  • My Funny Valentine - July 11, 1973
  • Someday Baby - July 10, 1973
  • Like A Road Leading Home - July 11, 1973
David Grisman did not play at the Keystone during the sets that were recorded . His mandolin part was overdubbed at a later date.

Merl Saunders spoke about the Saunders / Garcia band in an interview in the 1990's;

" We started doing standard songs because I loved standards. Jerry was very interested in those songs and how to play them. As a matter of fact, one of the classic songs was My Funny Valentine, which we recorded. Jerry loved standard songs. He liked the challenge.

Garcia also spoke about the group in an interview with Guitar Player magazine in 1988; "

When I started playing with Merl I went to a more organ-style trio. I played big, fat chords and did a lot of that walking-style chord shifting on the blues numbers and things that Merl is so good at. My style is much more conventional, in a way, with him, and it's very satisfying for me to play and hear myself as a conventional player. It's a kind of playing that I don't do in the Grateful Dead.

In an interview in 1991 with Scott Muni Garcia described how he started playing with Saunders;

" We played with him for a couple of years, and then Howard [Wales] went off and kinda - periodically he gets this thing of where he just can't deal with the music world any more, and he just disappears. So we were there, stuck there, and we were supposed to play Monday night, and we didn't have a player. John [Kahn] said, 'Well, I just did some sessions with this guy Merl Saunders.'"

" So ol' Merl steps onto the scene, and he was wonderful. He was just great great fun to play with. I learned lots about the stuff that I'd missed in music, lots of legit stuff like bebop, the way that works, and the way standards are put together, and that sort of thing. I learned a lot of musical stuff playing with Merl, and we had a good time playing together. "

" That went on for a good long time. We played off and on throughout the '70s, mostly. During all this time the band had lots of different players - Bill Kreutzmann played drums with us for a while. Armando Peraza used to play with us for a while, and different players sort of in and out, kind of a floating deal, and it was still basically one of those things I did when the Grateful Dead wasn't working. I think the first time we ever went anywhere was we came here to New York and played for a Hell's Angels wedding on the Staten Island Ferry out there. I think that was the first time we played here. Then we also did a show, I think, for John Scher, at the Capitol Theatre, the old Capitol Theatre. That was the first time that that band ever left the West Coast. It was always one of those things that was kind of a part-time deal for me."

" Anyway, it slowly started to evolve. We put out some records with Merl and did some stuff, but it was still mainly kind of low key. After a while, Merl had other stuff to do. John and I kept playing. "

Related releases

Further material from the Keystone recordings was released on two 'encore' LPs in 1988;

The tracks from the original double LP and the two 1988 releases were reconfigured and released as; Positively 4th Street, Space and The Harder They Come were subsequently included on;
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