July 12th, 2018


Deadhead Bear

I didn't "get" the Grateful Dead until grad school in 1987. I was first exposed to The Dead my freshman year in college when I saw these skeleton stickers all over campus. WTF was this all about?!? Then someone told me about deadheads and their fanatical devotion to the band. I then saw the video for "US Blues" on some video show (MTV? Night Flight? Night Tracks?) and really thought "WTF?!?" When I got to grad school, however, I kept hearing this song "Touch of Grey" on the radio. I really dug it. I found out it was The Dead. I bought "In the Dark" and liked it. It went on to become their biggest-selling album, almost producing a Top 40 hit. I bought their follow-up album "Built to Last" and liked it as well. I then started discovering their earlier works. I liked it. I loved the interview Jerry Garcia did for "The History of Rock-n-Roll." They were up in San Francisco doing their thing during the Summer of Love, just playing music and doing lots of drugs. The music execs in Los Angeles were looking for "the next big thing" and heard about the music scene up the coast. They wanted to sign The Dead to a contract. The Dead were turned off by the high-pressure, money-grubbing execs, so they decided to chill them out with some LSD. They put LSD in everything. Unfortunately the execs were warned about the San Francisco scene and refused to eat or drink anything offered to them.

So while I dug The Dead, I still could not understand the concept of The Deadhead. It's one thing to like a band, but to travel around the country to see EVERY show that the band does is a bit extreme. Of course they have a reputation as filthy hippies. How can you have a job and travel around the country seeing concerts all of the time?

So where does this all lead? Well, last night we went to see the Dead and Company, the remnants of The Grateful Dead including Mickey Hart, Bob Weir, and Bill Kreutzmann. What made me want to see them is because they also had John Mayer who replaced Jerry Garcia on guitar. And let me tell you that he did an admirable job! The start of the show was a bit of a clusterfuck. The concert was held at what was once The Journal Pavilion, our main "big name act" venue. I was there for the very first show back in 1999 to see Steely Dan. I went back a few years later to see B.B. King. And I hadn't been back since. I much prefer the smaller venues at the Indian casinos, the Zoo, or the city parks. Traffic sucked. And once we got to the gate, they initiated a weather warning so no one could go in. By the time we cleared security (which was a joke) we trudged to our seats. By the time we were seated the concert had already begun (and there were probably 1000 people in line behind us.) But the good news was that the band performed for about 3 hours! The thing about the Grateful Dead is that they are a jam band. This is one reason I liked them. They perform rock like jazz. Each member can do an improvisation for as long as he liked. And like I mentioned, John Mayer is an outstanding guitar player as is Bob Weir. So they would go off on these extended guitar riffs. It was well after 11 before they finished. It was then another clusterfuck to get out of the parking lot. I think we rolled into home just before 1. And here I am back at work on about 4 hours of sleep. Oh, and I'm finally coming down from my contact high from breathing in all of the ganja I was inhaling the whole evening. Oh, I should also mention that it was quite the trip sitting in a rock concert with lots of folks our age or older. Lots of old hippies still around!