Grateful Dead’s ‘The Closing of Winterland’ coming to DVD


Shout! Factory will release the Grateful Dead’s The Closing Of Winterland in a 2-DVD set on September 11, 2012. The Closing Of Winterland contains bonus features galore, including the documentary film “Winterland: A Million Memories”; the Blues Brothers “Soul Man” & “B Movie”; New Riders of the Purple Sage “Glendale Train”; a “Making Of The DVD” featurette; a 2 a.m. interview with Bill Graham by Scoop Nisker; a detailed chronological history of the Grateful Dead at Winterland; an alternate camera angle option on “Wharf Rat,” “St. Stephen” & “Good Lovin’”; and an essay written by Gary Lambert, former KSAN DJ and writer/editor of the Grateful Dead Almanac. The film was also included in the 14-DVD box set All The Years Combine: The DVD Collection, released by Shout! Factory earlier this year.

Filmed in San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom, The Closing Of Winterland was shot during the Dead’s annual New Year’s Eve concert in 1978, which was to be the final show at the venerable arena. Featuring friends like Lee Oskar (War) and Matthew Kelly (Kingfish); John Cipollina (Quicksilver); Greg Errico (Santana) and author Ken Kesey with his Thunder Machine, the playing is loose but intense, the frequent peaks reliably transcendent. The sound — mixed from the 24-track master reels — is superb. The Closing Of Winterland contains all 3 sets performed that night.

In addition to the Dead, the bill would feature: the Blues Brothers (John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd in their Jake and Elwood personae, fronting a great band including Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn and a young Paul Shaffer); longtime Dead pals the New Riders Of The Purple Sage; the wonderful neo-vaudevillian juggling troupe the Flying Karamazov Brothers.

As Lambert writes in the essay accompanying The Closing Of Winterland, the DVD captures virtually every note of the Dead’s three sets, plus other sights and sounds from that unforgettable evening, much as it looked and sounded (actually, quite a bit better than it sounded, thanks to Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 surround sound) to those who caught the simulcast of the show on San Francisco’s public television station KQED and the pioneering FM rock radio station KSAN.

Twenty-five years after that wild night, it’s not only Winterland that’s long gone, but sadly, Jerry Garcia and Bill Graham, and KSAN too. These DVDs bring it all back, whether you saw it then, or you’re a first-time member of the audience.