45th Anniversary Celebration of the Watkins Glen Summer Jam

Thursday September 27th, 2018. Freestone Peaches team up with Matt Hartle & Friends, John Kadlecik and Henry Kaiser to relive the epic Watkins Glen "Summer Jam" at San Francisco's Great American Music Hall!

In 1973, the Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers Band and The Band teamed up for the Watkins Glen Summer Jam in New York’s Finger Lakes Region. It was the largest music festival ever, drawing about 650,000 people — nearly twice as many as Woodstock four years earlier. The festival was the culmination of a mutual admiration society between the Dead and the Allman Brothers that existed almost from the latter’s beginning.

The Allmans were one of the first major groups to adopt the Dead’s two-drummer format in the late ’60s, and the Allman’s famous “Mountain Jam,” based on the melody of Donovan’s “There Is A Mountain,” first appeared as a brief musical quotation on the Dead’s trippy Anthem of the Sunin 1968, an album the Allmans knew well. The two bands first crossed paths in the summer of 1969 when they played for free in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park. The Dead, already well-established hippie heroes, arrived after the Allman Brothers, whose debut had not yet come out, had played, but they met and socialized. The ABB’s Duane Allman, Dickey Betts and Berry Oakley were particular fans of the Dead, a respect that was often returned by Jerry Garcia and the rest of the band.

“We always loved playing with the Allman Brothers,” says Bob Weir. “It was clear from the first time we played together that we were kindred spirits.”

The two groups’ first bill together was three shows at New York’s Fillmore East, February 11 -14, 1970. The first night of the run featured an epic jam, with most of the Allman Brothers joining the Dead, along with guitarist Peter Green and other members of Fleetwood Mac, who were not on the bill. Over the next couple of years, there was just one more joint billing and a few sit-ins, even as the simpatico nature of both the musicians and their fans became more evident.

“The Dead’s philosophy was always very similar to ours,” Allmans Brothers guitarist Dickey Betts said in 1994. “We sound very different, because we’re from different roots. They’re from a folk music, jug band, and country thing. We’re from a urban blues/jazz bag. We don’t wait for it to happen; we make it happen. But we’ve always had a similar fan base and philosophy — keeping music honest and fun and trying to make it a transcendental experience for the audience.”