The Wall of Sound (James Lee Katz, 1974)
For 30 years, James Lee Katz's concert photographs sat untouched in a shoebox. It wasn't tell until the late Nineties that Katz got an inkling he might want to do something with them.
"When I would visit download sites for music, particularly those with a Dead-heavy focus, I would see people post pictures or talking about this show or that show," recalls Katz, now a Baltimore-based lawyer. "I had pictures from these shows. So I scanned a bunch of images from the shoebox and started throwing up a few here and a few there. I just liked the fact that people enjoyed seeing them. Over time, a fair number got out there."
Katz, whose first Dead show was a double bill with the Allman Brothers Band in June of 1973, recalls the first time he experienced the Wall of Sound PA which the band used throughout the following year.
"The first time we ever heard it outside, in its full glory, was that Des Moines show," says Katz. "It's not just that it was gigantic, visually impressive and intimidating but the sound quality was impeccable. The separation between the instruments was incredible. You could hear each one very well. The music sounded pristine." (A large portion of the show was officially released as Road Trips Volume 2, Number 3.)
Katz took his camera to a whole string of shows that fall, though the Des Moines shots stood out. "It's just easier to take good pictures outside with daylight," he says.
As a fan, he's simply been happy to share his images with other fans. In his words, "I was just a Deadhead with camera."