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Reward for Grateful Dead tape more than doubles to $1,200

Deadheads, continue to search your attics. If you've searched it once, look again.

You could claim a $1,200 reward.

Earlier this month, Grateful Dead fan and political operative Michael Caputo offered a $500 reward to anyone who can come up with a recording of an elusive Grateful Dead concert with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra for which no recording is known to exist. The concert took place March 17, 1970 in Kleinhans Music Hall, with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra led by Lukas Foss, then the orchestra's music director.

News of the reward spread around the world, on Twitter and through Grateful Dead channels. The comments section attached to The News' initial story grew to include a Jan. 22 entry from Christopher Foss, Lukas Foss' son.

On Jan. 23, Caputo said on WBEN-AM that the reward had more than doubled. In a message to The News, he said that $200 came from another Grateful Dead fan. Terrapin Station, the Buffalo shop that specializes in Grateful Dead merchandise, put up an additional $500.

The drama began several weeks ago when the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra sent out a chance tweet about the concert, posting a picture of a long-ago newspaper notice.

Grateful Dead fans have been aware of this concert for years. It is said to be the first time a rock band played with an American symphony orchestra. And it was the result of a happy accident. In an unusual state of affairs, the Dead filled in at the last minute for the Byrds.

The Buffalo News can claim credit for the concert because it might never have come about without the intervention of one of the paper's younger writers, Jim Brennan. Panicked after the Byrds canceled, Lukas Foss called John Dwyer, then The News' classical music critic, to ask what other rock band might be able to fill in at the last minute. Dwyer thought to consult Brennan, who before working at The News had been editor of the UB paper, the Spectrum.

"John handed the phone to me and I told Foss that we might be able to get the Grateful Dead to jam with the BPO," Brennan recalled in an email. "With the help of Billy Altman, a former News rock critic and noted musicologist, we were able to line up the Dead for the concert.

"They had a pretty full schedule of concerts, but as luck would have it, their schedule was open that week and they were happy to come to Buffalo."

Subsequently, Brennan reviewed the concert for The News, giving a good idea of what transpired. Brennan went on to a long career as editor of The News' TV Topics. The concert passed on into history.

Unless a recording turns up. Caputo clings to hope that it might. He emphasizes that he does not want the recording for commercial purposes. He just wants to put it up online and make it available to everyone, free.


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