Stella Blue’s Band To Play Free Show In Central Park

New York’s own Stella Blue’s Band, one of the premiere Grateful Dead tribute acts, will play a free show in Central Park on May 17. Starting at 4:30 p.m. at the Naumburg Bandshell on 72nd Street, the show will both raise funds for a good cause and also commemorate a Dead show at this very same location 54 years ago.

Donations can be made to Riverkeeper, which supports programs that protect the Hudson River, its watershed and the drinking water for New York State. Exclusive t-shirts featuring original art work by Jerry Garcia himself can be had for $40 donations. There’s also a poster available, done by Kenny Schneidman, for a $20 donation. Donations can be made through the event’s website as well.

The music pays tribute to the Grateful Dead’s show in Central Park on May 5, 1968. It’s one of the earlier Dead shows ever played in New York, with a rumored attendance near 5,000, but unfortunately no known recordings exist. And the exact set list is spotty as well, but can be reasonably pieced together.

The Dead were joined that day by their friends Jefferson Airplane who announced a free show in Central Park the night before at a show at the Fillmore East. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band also served as the opener, with Airplane following and then the Dead. Although the documentation of the actual set list is incomplete, there was a known “Morning Dew” played as well according to one eyewitness who also provided some detailed audio intel.

The Dead opened 5/5/68 with Bob Weir saying to the NYC crowd, “Welcome to San Francisco.” Then Phil hit the opening chords to Morning Dew on his Guild Starfire Bass, played through a bunch of Fender Showman and or Dual Showman Amplifier heads and Sunn 2000S Speaker Cabinets with 15″ JBL Speakers, reinforced through a PA with JBL and or Altec Lansing Speakers. Garcia played his ’52-early ’53 Gibson Les Paul Gold top, plugged into maybe 6-8 Fender twin Reverb Amplifiers with 12″ JBL Speakers. He had an octopus chord going to all the inputs of the amps. 

– Steven Ross, eyewitness

As for the rest of the music, there’s a rumored “The Other One” that was played and sandwiched between “Cryptical Envelopment.” And “Alligator” was also allegedly performed as well, with Pigpen undoubtedly taking center stage.

And renowned Dead Head Gary Lambert, as told in This Is All A Dream We Dreamed, one of the more reputable Grateful Dead chronicles, fills in some other details as well.

“The Dead were terrific. They were the best band of the three that day… They played some of the material that would turn up on Anthem of the Sun: The Other One, New Potato Caboose, though I didn’t know those songs by name. I recognized Morning Dew from the first album. They finished with Turn On Your Lovelight, which I loved.

– Gary Lambert

Using all of this, a presumed a set list for this legendary Central Park gig might look something like what’s listed below. For more information on tomorrow’s show, check out the event website here.

Grateful Dead Central Park – New York, NY 5/5/68 (rumored)

Morning Dew, Cryptical Envelopment > The Other One > Cryptical Envelopment, Alligator, New Potato Caboose, Turn On Your Lovelight

Central Parkgrateful deadJERRY GARCIAPigpenRiverkeeperStella Blue's Band