• August 30, 2012
    http://www.dead.net/features/blair-jackson/blair-s-golden-road-blog-plenty-shakin-shakedown-street
    Blair’s Golden Road Blog - Plenty Shakin’ on Shakedown Street

    The vending scene outside Dead shows started so innocuously. Before or after shows in the ’70s, if anyone was selling anything, it might be a handful of people peddling homemade T-shirts out of a backpack, or perhaps something small, such as pipes, stickers or low-key food items—brownies, cookies, etc. I remember buying my first Grateful Dead T-shirt—which depicted Garcia playing an acoustic guitar under the words “Grateful Dead” in nicely crafted American Beauty-like lettering—outside Manhattan Center in April ’71. In August of that year, I bought my first GD bootleg album outside Gaelic Park in the Bronx.

    In ’72, “official” shirts started popping up inside shows—the initial wave of skull & roses Kelley-Mouse Monster Co. shirts, on light blue or white heavy cotton. I still have the tattered remains of my first skull-and-lightning-bolt shirt from that era (it wasn’t called a “Stealie” back then; that didn’t come into the lexicon until the design was used on the cover of the Steal Your Face live album in 1976). My shirt had that logo surrounded by marijuana leaves. Wow, what a rebel I was! (I’m joking.) I sure did love that shirt!

    The first place I recall an actual vending “scene” outside Dead shows was the five-night 1979-’80 New Year’s run at what was then called the Oakland Auditorium (later renamed Kaiser Convention Center, a.k.a. “Kaiser.”). New Year’s shows were always a popular destination for out-of-towners, and unlike Winterland, which was located in a fairly depressed area of SF, the Oakland Aud. was adjacent to a small but lovely park—which turned out to be a perfect hangout spot.

    We bought this beautiful tie-dye shirt, featuring part of Tim Gleason’s design
    from the cover of Issue #2 of The Golden Road, in the parking lot of Red Rocks in September ’85.

    That first year, a fair number of folks set up tents in the park, and having people there constantly over six or seven nights attracted vendors with crafts or food to sell. Suddenly, tucked in between the funky tour buses parked along the street outside the venue, there were trucks and vans equipped with stoves or grills selling hot food, and as the days went by, more people hawking wares from blankets on the grass—Crystals! Incense! Photos! Tie-dyes! I spent a lot of time out there before the first few shows, interviewing and photographing fans for a BAM magazine cover story published a few months later, called “Deadheads: A Strange Tale of Love, Devotion and Surrender.” It was quite a mellow and beautiful scene, even with the periodic downpours that soaked everyone that year.

    The crowds outside Oakland Aud. increased with each New Year’s run, and by ’82, Dead shows in other places were also attracting more merchants and, increasingly, people without tickets who wanted to hang out at what was slowly but surely developing into a hippie bazaar. The first couple of years at the Greek Theater in Berkeley, the overflow was accommodated on a soccer field next to the venue, equipped with loudspeakers. Across the bay at Stanford, the sprawling, magical eucalyptus groves outside Frost Amphitheatre offered both parking and a great place to do pre- and post-show shopping—I fully expected to buy something from a Hobbit! Beginning in ’82, the Ventura County Fairgrounds provided camping for thousands of Dead Heads, and an enormous commercial scene sprang up there, as well. On the other hand, when we drove up to Eugene for shows at the Hult Center in the fall of ’83, there were very few people selling things; maybe because the venue was so tiny that not that many tickets went to touring Heads. Surprisingly, there were more outside the next stop on the tour, Boise, Idaho.

    The number of people following the band for tours (or parts of tours) seemed to increase exponentially each year during the first half of the ’80s, and the scene outside of shows grew right with it, especially at outdoor places where the band played two or three shows in a row—Alpine Valley, Red Rocks, etc. But it wasn’t long before the parking lots outside arenas in more urban areas also started attracting large concentrations of vendors and the ticketless, who seemed content to immerse themselves in this tangential Dead world, dubbed “Shakedown Street” by many. Gone were the days when most of the craftspeople were hardcore fans looking to earn enough to go on tour and see more shows. Now, in addition to those good people, were many who followed the tour only to sell to the growing crowds outside the venues. Some clothing vendors set up huge booths with racks and racks of options, and food sellers had elaborate setups with multiple burners. Alas, the Shakedown scene also began to attract more drug dealers, who found a large and receptive audience for their wares among the curious shoppers, and that led to increased infiltration by Drug Enforcement Agency narcs and a large numbers of arrests—not good publicity for the band, to say the least.

    And that was all happening before Garcia got sick in ’86 and the band hit the Big Time in ’87 following his recovery and “Touch of Grey” and all that. As we discussed a bit in a previous blog, that’s when Shakedown Street and the whole touring economy really exploded. Cities and venues found themselves completely overrun for days at a time, mostly with people attracted to the hippie city that sprang up like fast-growing mushrooms. A place such as New York City, where the Dead played Madison Square Garden, would barely show a ripple of the alien invasion more than three or four blocks away from the venue, but in Alpine Valley or Hartford or Atlanta or the Greek and Frost—oh, my God! By ’89, the Dead were banned from those last two wonderful spaces, and the group’s management was meeting serious resistance from many other municipalities.

    In response, the Dead booked “guerrilla” shows in Hampton in October ’89 and Hartford in March ’90, where the concerts were announced just 10 days in advance and tickets were sold only to locals (supposedly). Camping and vending were formally banned on those tours, which seriously affected the Shakedown scene. The Dead also took the curious step of finally trying to enforce the copyrights on their logos (after mostly ignoring that issue), resulting in some bad blood between longtime low-level shirt and sticker makers and the Dead organization. The little guys (correctly) believed they were being punished for the transgressions of true bootleggers. But the crackdown did have the desired effect of keeping some of the hordes away—at least for a little while.

    Here’s our good buddy Dick Latvala
    at Cal Expo, date unknown, sporting a hand-drawn T-shirt depicting Blondie and
    Dagwood outside a Dead show selling veggie sandwiches
    and looking for tickets. Photo: Regan McMahon.

    I feel as if I didn’t personally see the problem at its worst. At general admission shows, I was typically waiting in line hours before the show rather than wandering the lots looking for cool stuff. And after most concerts, I just wanted to get home or back to my hotel room (if I was on the road) to continue the party with my pals. At the few reserved-seat shows we had in the Bay Area—at Shoreline—the vending was mostly inside the venue and controlled. But whenever I did cruise the endless rows of booths and blankets outside shows, I enjoyed it immensely. It got harder to find my favorite T-shirt makers, but I often did anyway, and it was always fun to make that connection with those true artisans over the months and years. We always wanted to see the latest designs from Dennis Simms and the good people from Red Bear Designs, Spectrum Batiks and a few others. We still own a few of each’s shirts.

    Most of the changes that were made at the beginning of the ’90s in an attempt to better control the scene outside, didn’t seem to stick. Shakedown kept on growing and was still pretty out of control until the end of the Dead. The nitrous oxide problem grew steadily the last few years (though I don’t think it had been taken over by organized crime yet), and the ticketless continues to descend on the lots wherever the Dead turned up. We won’t even get into the Tour from Hell in ’95, which presented one problem after another outside shows, though more from gate crashers than on Shakedown Street.

    Garcia’s death put an abrupt end to the serious Shakedown scene. I gather some merchants accustomed to making their living on the road following the Dead decided to glom onto Phish, String Cheese Incident and other bands of that ilk, but it wasn’t the same. Still, as the years have passed, the scene outside some shows by The Dead and Furthur has grown again—and become a problem again in certain places (such as Calaveras in 2010 and Monterey in 2011).

    I still don’t spend a lot of time there, and the people I used to buy shirts from have long since left that life. But sometimes it feels like a nice link to the past, seeing all those tie-dyes and Guatemalan clothes and hearing hippie girls calling, “Kind veggie burritos!” It wasn’t always good for the Grateful Dead world, but now it’s one colorful vestige of those days that has carried through good times and bad.

    Let’s hear some of your Shakedown/vending/parking lot stories. I know you got ’em!

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The vending scene outside Dead shows started so innocuously. Before or after shows in the ’70s, if anyone was selling anything, it might be a handful of people peddling homemade T-shirts out of a backpack, or perhaps something small, such as pipes, stickers or low-key food items—brownies, cookies, etc. I remember buying my first Grateful Dead T-shirt—which depicted Garcia playing an acoustic guitar under the words “Grateful Dead” in nicely crafted American Beauty-like lettering—outside Manhattan Center in April ’71. In August of that year, I bought my first GD bootleg album outside Gaelic Park in the Bronx.

In ’72, “official” shirts started popping up inside shows—the initial wave of skull & roses Kelley-Mouse Monster Co. shirts, on light blue or white heavy cotton. I still have the tattered remains of my first skull-and-lightning-bolt shirt from that era (it wasn’t called a “Stealie” back then; that didn’t come into the lexicon until the design was used on the cover of the Steal Your Face live album in 1976). My shirt had that logo surrounded by marijuana leaves. Wow, what a rebel I was! (I’m joking.) I sure did love that shirt!

The first place I recall an actual vending “scene” outside Dead shows was the five-night 1979-’80 New Year’s run at what was then called the Oakland Auditorium (later renamed Kaiser Convention Center, a.k.a. “Kaiser.”). New Year’s shows were always a popular destination for out-of-towners, and unlike Winterland, which was located in a fairly depressed area of SF, the Oakland Aud. was adjacent to a small but lovely park—which turned out to be a perfect hangout spot.

We bought this beautiful tie-dye shirt, featuring part of Tim Gleason’s design
from the cover of Issue #2 of The Golden Road, in the parking lot of Red Rocks in September ’85.

That first year, a fair number of folks set up tents in the park, and having people there constantly over six or seven nights attracted vendors with crafts or food to sell. Suddenly, tucked in between the funky tour buses parked along the street outside the venue, there were trucks and vans equipped with stoves or grills selling hot food, and as the days went by, more people hawking wares from blankets on the grass—Crystals! Incense! Photos! Tie-dyes! I spent a lot of time out there before the first few shows, interviewing and photographing fans for a BAM magazine cover story published a few months later, called “Deadheads: A Strange Tale of Love, Devotion and Surrender.” It was quite a mellow and beautiful scene, even with the periodic downpours that soaked everyone that year.

The crowds outside Oakland Aud. increased with each New Year’s run, and by ’82, Dead shows in other places were also attracting more merchants and, increasingly, people without tickets who wanted to hang out at what was slowly but surely developing into a hippie bazaar. The first couple of years at the Greek Theater in Berkeley, the overflow was accommodated on a soccer field next to the venue, equipped with loudspeakers. Across the bay at Stanford, the sprawling, magical eucalyptus groves outside Frost Amphitheatre offered both parking and a great place to do pre- and post-show shopping—I fully expected to buy something from a Hobbit! Beginning in ’82, the Ventura County Fairgrounds provided camping for thousands of Dead Heads, and an enormous commercial scene sprang up there, as well. On the other hand, when we drove up to Eugene for shows at the Hult Center in the fall of ’83, there were very few people selling things; maybe because the venue was so tiny that not that many tickets went to touring Heads. Surprisingly, there were more outside the next stop on the tour, Boise, Idaho.

The number of people following the band for tours (or parts of tours) seemed to increase exponentially each year during the first half of the ’80s, and the scene outside of shows grew right with it, especially at outdoor places where the band played two or three shows in a row—Alpine Valley, Red Rocks, etc. But it wasn’t long before the parking lots outside arenas in more urban areas also started attracting large concentrations of vendors and the ticketless, who seemed content to immerse themselves in this tangential Dead world, dubbed “Shakedown Street” by many. Gone were the days when most of the craftspeople were hardcore fans looking to earn enough to go on tour and see more shows. Now, in addition to those good people, were many who followed the tour only to sell to the growing crowds outside the venues. Some clothing vendors set up huge booths with racks and racks of options, and food sellers had elaborate setups with multiple burners. Alas, the Shakedown scene also began to attract more drug dealers, who found a large and receptive audience for their wares among the curious shoppers, and that led to increased infiltration by Drug Enforcement Agency narcs and a large numbers of arrests—not good publicity for the band, to say the least.

And that was all happening before Garcia got sick in ’86 and the band hit the Big Time in ’87 following his recovery and “Touch of Grey” and all that. As we discussed a bit in a previous blog, that’s when Shakedown Street and the whole touring economy really exploded. Cities and venues found themselves completely overrun for days at a time, mostly with people attracted to the hippie city that sprang up like fast-growing mushrooms. A place such as New York City, where the Dead played Madison Square Garden, would barely show a ripple of the alien invasion more than three or four blocks away from the venue, but in Alpine Valley or Hartford or Atlanta or the Greek and Frost—oh, my God! By ’89, the Dead were banned from those last two wonderful spaces, and the group’s management was meeting serious resistance from many other municipalities.

In response, the Dead booked “guerrilla” shows in Hampton in October ’89 and Hartford in March ’90, where the concerts were announced just 10 days in advance and tickets were sold only to locals (supposedly). Camping and vending were formally banned on those tours, which seriously affected the Shakedown scene. The Dead also took the curious step of finally trying to enforce the copyrights on their logos (after mostly ignoring that issue), resulting in some bad blood between longtime low-level shirt and sticker makers and the Dead organization. The little guys (correctly) believed they were being punished for the transgressions of true bootleggers. But the crackdown did have the desired effect of keeping some of the hordes away—at least for a little while.

Here’s our good buddy Dick Latvala
at Cal Expo, date unknown, sporting a hand-drawn T-shirt depicting Blondie and
Dagwood outside a Dead show selling veggie sandwiches
and looking for tickets. Photo: Regan McMahon.

I feel as if I didn’t personally see the problem at its worst. At general admission shows, I was typically waiting in line hours before the show rather than wandering the lots looking for cool stuff. And after most concerts, I just wanted to get home or back to my hotel room (if I was on the road) to continue the party with my pals. At the few reserved-seat shows we had in the Bay Area—at Shoreline—the vending was mostly inside the venue and controlled. But whenever I did cruise the endless rows of booths and blankets outside shows, I enjoyed it immensely. It got harder to find my favorite T-shirt makers, but I often did anyway, and it was always fun to make that connection with those true artisans over the months and years. We always wanted to see the latest designs from Dennis Simms and the good people from Red Bear Designs, Spectrum Batiks and a few others. We still own a few of each’s shirts.

Most of the changes that were made at the beginning of the ’90s in an attempt to better control the scene outside, didn’t seem to stick. Shakedown kept on growing and was still pretty out of control until the end of the Dead. The nitrous oxide problem grew steadily the last few years (though I don’t think it had been taken over by organized crime yet), and the ticketless continues to descend on the lots wherever the Dead turned up. We won’t even get into the Tour from Hell in ’95, which presented one problem after another outside shows, though more from gate crashers than on Shakedown Street.

Garcia’s death put an abrupt end to the serious Shakedown scene. I gather some merchants accustomed to making their living on the road following the Dead decided to glom onto Phish, String Cheese Incident and other bands of that ilk, but it wasn’t the same. Still, as the years have passed, the scene outside some shows by The Dead and Furthur has grown again—and become a problem again in certain places (such as Calaveras in 2010 and Monterey in 2011).

I still don’t spend a lot of time there, and the people I used to buy shirts from have long since left that life. But sometimes it feels like a nice link to the past, seeing all those tie-dyes and Guatemalan clothes and hearing hippie girls calling, “Kind veggie burritos!” It wasn’t always good for the Grateful Dead world, but now it’s one colorful vestige of those days that has carried through good times and bad.

Let’s hear some of your Shakedown/vending/parking lot stories. I know you got ’em!

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The vending scene outside Dead shows started so innocuously. Before or after shows in the ’70s, if anyone was selling anything, it might be a handful of people peddling homemade T-shirts out of a backpack, or perhaps something small, such as pipes, stickers or low-key food items—brownies, cookies, etc. I remember buying my first Grateful Dead T-shirt—which depicted Garcia playing an acoustic guitar under the words “Grateful Dead” in nicely crafted American Beauty-like lettering—outside Manhattan Center in April ’71. In August of that year, I bought my first GD bootleg album outside Gaelic Park in the Bronx.

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Pretty psyched to see Dick wearing one of my tees!! Did those around 89-90 if I recall correctly. Dagwood scored two prime tix on the back, btw.
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Kaiser Soda 2, above, is none other than Fritz Eifrig, a loyal Golden Road subscriber from way back, as I recall. Nice shirt, dude! That photo has been living on our refrigerator since Dick died; glad I finally had an excuse to use it.
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Well, one thing that literally put a damper on it (and I say this as one who sold a lot fewer photos than I'd hoped as a result) was that it was seriously pouring a lot of the time. And also a lot of the social scene was inside the hotels, especially the Hyatt, or was it the Hilton, that was just adjacent. What I do remember is that they had a piano in the lobby, and Dennis Simms turned out to be really good at playing it.
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was the magic ingredient in the brownie that I bought at my last Grateful Dead show 6-18-95 in the lot after the show.Fun ride home to say the least. It was the size of a slice of Sicilian pizza and only 4 bucks. Bless her heart. Other than that it was the usual fistsful of "balloons" , burritos and jello shots. The "dead giveaways" were always a welcome gift also. Oh and those two absolutely perfect beauties wearing only red hightop sneakers in the parking lot at Giants Stadium sometime in the early nineties. Amazing! O.K. now I'm having trouble remembering anything else.
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It was the Hilton in Eugene. Folks draped tie-dyes over the sculptures in the lobby. Regan and I stayed on the same floor as Brent (who, if memory serves, was just starting his relationship with future wife Lisa) and it was REALLY loud in the hallways all night long one of those nights... You're right about the rain. I recall a couple of miserable vendors huddling under overhangs outside the Hult. I remember we bought a Northwest Indian shirt of some kind there. What a great place the Hult was! Very underrated shows, too. The first night was so speedy--I recall an "Eyes" that was at breakneck speed! Somehow we ended up hanging in a suite with Mountain Girl after that first show, and she was impressed by how lively Jerry seemed. (We'd almost written him off after subpar shows at Frost earlier, IIRC). And the second or third Hult show (don't have my Deadbase handy) had a "Terrapin" that concluded, went into another jam, and then miraculously (it seemed at the time) came back to the "Terrapin" jam. I gotta listen to those shows again. Been many years...
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'92,soldier field, my 2nd dead concert, i was still in the massive glow from the previous day's/night's festivities/concert (my first). we were about the 20th car in line to get into one of the large stadium parking lots that morning around 10. there was a loooonnnngggg line of vehicles behind us stringing back into other streets and the gates weren't supposed to open for another hour. the gates opened at 10 due to the tremendous jam of cars and -now picture this - a guy around 5'5" maybe 220lbs. with black,perfectly greased-back hair, in a blaze orange vest is trying to direct people where to park the moment the gates open, and i'm already thinking that this isn't going to go as planned. the first few vans park up front as directed and then about a dozen cars in a row go for the "outfield" and he's yelling obscenities at everyone of them. we can hear him, in our car, yelling loud and clear and it is obvious that this now red-faced control freak is about to get an unwanted lesson on gd entropy. he literally jumps in front of the 4th car in front of us to stop the nonconforming flow of traffic and then runs to the driver side of that car and starts pointing and yelling exactly where he wants them to go. Meanwhile, of the few vans that had parked where this guy had directed, one guy had already gotten out,went to the back of the van, got a bowl of water for his dog and started to brush his teeth (his own teeth, not the dog's : ) ) the head who is brushing his teeth makes contact with the driver of the next car, who has apparently tuned out the "type a" lot cop, and gestures to him to park next to his van. as the car pulls away to park,instead of going right as directed by the lot cop, he goes left and pulls in next to the van. the head is still vigorously brushing his teeth when the lot cop blows a gasket, runs in front of the next car, and is literally jumping up and down repeatedly, pointing at the head brushing his teeth, and yelling at the absolute top of his lungs, "LISTEN TO ME!,DON'T LISTEN TO HIM!, HE'S BRUSHING HIS F!@^!NG TEETH!", throws up his arms, steps to the side and continues, "PARK WHEREVER THE F!@K YOU WANT!, I DON"T NEED THIS SHIT!",then walks away talking to himself!!!!! (total elapsed time from the gates opening.........about 5 min..................hehehehehehehehe). : ))))))))))))))))) and after 20 years(what?), this memory still puts a major cheshire smile on my face, so if anyone involved recognizes this story, thank you so much for 20 years of laughs. god bless the gd! PS. as much as i loved (and still do) that entire antiauthoritarian sense, we always paid in full for legit tix.,even when things were super tight, knowing that this was an extremely generous band when it came to supporting charities. never got the whole gate crashing mentality...............always seemed like a thankless cheap shot to a band that went out of its way to keep tik. prices down when other 90 min. cookie cutter bands were happily gouging their "fans".
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Greek 1983 May three shows 7pm fri 5pm sat 3pm sunThe only product outside the show were stickers for free from Mikal. Same with Ventura and Frost and Watsonville and at the New Year's shows there was a presence in the park in front of SF Civic (now BG), the next year were more and 1985 was the 20th anniversary And the Bay Area news channels (all seven) did full feature stories about the Band, the musicians, the fans and the touring. Best quote 'Yeah. There's a lot of lsd at the shows but we know how to handle it. We've been doin' this for years.' on Local Television on the 6 o'clock news. Guess the cats out the bag, now, nothin' left to do but smile, smile, smile. then the next summer the Dead tour with Dylan and his back up band Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. 100plus degrees on the East coast in June. It's amazing Jerry didn't collapse on stage, instead of two weeks after in Marin. But I digress, Irvine 1989, my girlfriend had about 80 pair of earrings she had left from a craft fair outing and we set up in one of the vendor areas and for three days sold earrings to wonderful people, thousands upon thousands passed by, a never ending parade of deadheads, so cool, so free, so pleasent, just hangin' out and then walkin' up the path and seein' the Greatest Band In The Land. But when we left after the last show on Sunday night, my friend had to walk in front of the car and move bottles to create a path so we could drive out of the lot, by the time we reached the exit there were dozens of other vehicles following our trail, Hippy Trails to You
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nassau wasn't a guerilla show. i think it was (uselessly, in the middle of tour) hartford. shakedown street in a nutshell: in 1981, strangers would give you an imported beer. in 1988, strangers would sell you a budweiser. for $2.
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After coming out of my first real show in '89 at RFK there was a young kid who seemed like he came from the surrounding projects selling a shirt that said "Grateful Dead" with a skull with its tongue hanging out and and a dagger in the back of the skull. This kid must have thought the boys were a heavy metal band. In retrospect I should have bought the shirt.
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yeah, what a lovely venue. The thing I remember most is that, I think it was on the first night, people were dancing so hard the balcony was moving, like a slo-mo earthquake. But apparently the then-brand-new building had been engineered to withstand dancing Heads, because we lived to tell the tale.
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Blair's "Love, Devotion and Surrender" article is in the Oxford University Press Grateful Dead Reader, and having loved it dearly back in the day I heartily recommend checking it out.
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You're right, EyesDude, it was Hartford that was a guerrilla show. I've corrected that. For Nassau, they did try the selling-locally-only thing (or so Cameron Sears told me in The Golden Road), but they were not stealth shows... Thanks! BJ
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sailbystars wrote:
> "ilk". I'm pretty sure that word cannot be used in a positive light. :)
Actually, ilk is rather neutral:
ilk /ɪlk/ noun 1. family, class, or kind: he and all his ilk. From http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ilk
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I've heard it used derisively almost exclusively: ie, "John Coltrane is a fine improviser on the saxophone, far superior to mere honkers like Clarence Clemens and others of that ilk". I lean to the venerated Urban Dictionary as a resource: ilk - Pronoun. Represents a group of items of the same type. Has a connotation of the type of group being of bad or questionable character. Don't get involved with those of that ilk.
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I was at both the Warlocks and Hartford "stealth shows" and wouldn't ya know it, "Shakedown" popped up at both -- pesonally, I could take it or leave it. I do remember my early days ('81-'84), it was mostly individual cats selling stuff out of their napsacks just trying to get enough $$ for food or gas $$ to get to the next show -- I recall that w/ much greater fondness. I once sold bumperstickers at a couple of shows in spring '84 (Philly, New Haven, Providence, etc.) but ended up just giving them away mostly (or posting them on cop cars). Never made any dough and that was the end of my entreprenurial forray into Shakedown. I gotta admit, I've seen some really worthy artwork in Shakedown and gotta commend my fellow 'heads for their creativity. Spent a litlle time on the mountain, Spent a little time on the hill. Things went down we don't understand, But I think in time we will! I think that time is here.
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The parking lot scene was a natural transition for me. A half-mile or so from Raceway Park is the Englishtown auction, this huge outdoor flea market in Englishtown NJ. Had been going there for years, walking up and down these dry, dusty aisles while taking in not only the goods for sale , but also a whole cross-section of American life. Hillbillies to High-rollers if you will. And everything in-between. So it was only fitting and not at all foreign to me to see my first Dead show at Raceway Park while experiencing a more concentrated element of that big outdoor adventure. Rumor had it that when the boys were being transported via helicopter to the show on 9-3-77 they looked down and saw not only the concert site, but the flea market as well which was as big if not bigger than Raceway Park and said, what's that over there. There were unconfirmed sightings the next day of some of the band walking those dry dusty aisles checking out the scene. Thats when it all began.
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Anyone remember the scene outside Buckeye Lake (Ohio)? There was the usual vending scene outside the show but if you went up a small hill and followed a short trail through a wooded area, Behold! an Eden-like Shakedown, not street exactly, since there was no pavement anywhere, but maybe a Shakedown Forrest. It was truly beautiful but maybe my warm and fuzzy state of mind that night has influenced my memory.
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It always made me feel good to buy from someone I'd seen last week, last month, last year, or in some other time's forgotten space, thousands of miles away. . . When we ran out of cash in Boston, my tour buddy who worked at Kinko's on the graveyard shift let me make a bunch of color copies(cutting edge technology back then), which we laid out as cassette inserts to sell outside the Garden. They were, shall we say, functional, if not beautiful. They were also ALL derived from copyright protected sources. The only kind-hearted souls that would buy them, I'm still convinced, were people that knew all proceeds went directly into the "make it just one more day" fund. After making about $20, we had our inventory confiscated by Boston P.D.-not 50 yards away from 3 nitrous tanks, each with a line 15 deep. I hear you stoltzfus-I always had a hard time in Shakedown after the show, all bug-eyed . . .
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Mike's innovative approach to street marketing and the lust for booty: booming and turning heads before and after shows in the winter of '79: "GRATEFUL DEAD TOILET PAPER, NICKEL A SHEET!!!
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Best food I ever bought from a vendor? Easy: herb-roasted lamb & hummus on a bagel ($3), Dead/Little Feat, July 4th Weekend, Oxford Plains Speedway, Oxford ME, 1988. Most welcome? Veggie chili & veggie burrito at 3AM in the freezing-cold parking lot at the Oakland Coliseum after the New Year's Eve show with Branford, 1990. Best cold beers? Three for $5 ice-cold Becks in the lot of the Miami Arena after the Dark Star show, 10/26/89. Most recent letdown? Buying what turned out to be a piece of paper instead of a real dose in the vending area outside the Furthur show in St. Augustine last summer. Win some ya lose some, I suppose!
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Anybody remember the guy selling little hand made glass mushroom in a glass teardrop necklaces? Real art and only $7!
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Im going to start off saying that I was too young to ever see GD with Jerry, so I definitely was not one of the people who crashed the fence at Deer Creek in 95' but I have been to many Phish shows there and that Shakedown street is always a great time. The smell of all the food cooking, the smell of different kinds of smoke in the air, the variety of t-shirts, pipes, art-work, etc. is really amazing to me. Its always a little world that exists but only for a very short time before the shows and always leaves me wanting more. I always wonder what a GD dead show would have been like before or after they were mega stars but Im grateful for them helping to contribute to such an interesting, unique scene. If there is a "Shakedown Street" type town that exists without being attached to a great band, please show me the road there!
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what about amazing performers! "Invader from Space" for example, on the battery-powered electric guitar and roller blades, and full-on freak-out clothes, up and down the west coast in the late 80s. That guy was amazing! Zappaesque quitar runs...
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me too, me too!! The one nice thing about going to only several shows in the early 90's is that every show was looked upon with great anticipation; there were no expectations laid upon any one show to bring me the set list i wanted to hear the most; it was simply knowing that,once again, i would be in the company of fellow dead lovers and a much anticipated concert. the parking lot actually started on that finest of all days: the day the tickets were procured. daily smiles from ear to ear would accompany until the concert arrived! trite explanations were given to non-heads as to the display of daily jubilation, knowing that they would not understand and that it would take too long to explain. and,finally, on that blessed day, the drive to the concert was pure seretonin!!!! complete and pure childhood happiness!!!!! with the knowledge that soon you would be in a world of kind folks that "got it" and "got you" at the same time! where you could let go and be understood and be forgiven for anything peaceful that happened! anything! would the weather be good? hope so, but it didn't really matter because all was good in this most blessed universe known as the gd scene. everything that one could and couldn't imagine was there in that parking lot. the sights, sounds and smells were uncommon and,at the same time, most welcome as senses were newly flooded and expanded. meeting someone new / learning something new was inevitable! all of lifes physical and mental needs could be met within just a short walk and,with a hug or the shake of a hand, the deal was sealed. how many different state plates did you count? who can remember??!!! lol the best part of the parking lot for me was this: everyone knew that within just a few short hours the best was yet to come and it was already so good that all one could do was smile, smile, smile!!!!!!!!!!!! how much better could it get? you just wait and see!!! there's no end my friend. as far as you want to go. and it's all gonna go down soon enough!!!! that anticipation; that beautiful anticipation in the parking lot of what was to come! those were some of the most beloved,fuzzily memorable summer days of my life. i will always cherish the parking lot scene for what it was; it's own unique and not-to-be-missed show that was completely worthy of an admission price itself. PS .after the chicago shows, cops on horseys were freaked out by all the kind freak on their way back to the parking lots who wanted to pet the big ol' beautiful four-legged critters...... wanted to pet them lots n' lots.......hehehehehehehehehehe. GOD BLESS THE GD PARKING LOT SCENE!
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would have been most welcome in the parking lots - post concert (or,for that matter, parking lot location services!). oh man.................where the hell did we park????????? took us an hour and a half to find our car once...............never been so happily lost...........
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i remember this guy that was walking around the parking lot at the alpine shows in '89 and he had shaved off all the hair on one side of his head and half of his beard, the remaining half was very long and he had this little keyboard that he was carrying around that he was using to sample peoples dialogue and play it back and distort it and mess with it...for me the parking lot was always about the characters...the weirdos who were creative and adept at "tootling the multitudes" in true prankster spirit. i remember this other guy on the lawn inside of a 1990 deercreek show...he lays out this blanket on the hill and then pulled out these weird homemade dolls that were naked and anatomically correct.complete with genitals and he lined them up on the blanket like they were part of the family and ready for the concert...then he pulled a polaroid camera out when the music started and he would dance in front of people and take their picture and put it in the brim of his hat still dancing while the picture developed..he also had these white t-shirts and he was writing the setlist on them as it happened in big letters.maybe this fellow was nuts but i thought he was great.my friend was tripping pretty hard that day and the whole thing had him laughing like hell.there was this other guy in anne arbour in 89 who was wearing these fantastic huge clown shoes and my friend asked him "those are pretty cool but how do you dance with those things".i used to think to myself jerry would like some of this inspired weirdness...good memories.
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9 years 10 months
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My wife didn't know about the Dead until she met me. Our first "Family" show was Furthur in Broomfield. It was cold outside and we got a wool hat for her, to complete the look and keep her warm. I'm pretty sure a hot grilled cheese helped take the chill off. Before the show started, some youngster from California was showing off(bragging) about his party favors and I thought my prim and proper bride was going to freak. Once the music started, she looked at me with a smile that told me she "got it." Guess a warning would have been appropriate.
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I remember reading somewhere -- perhaps from our man, Blair Jackson -- that Bobby donned a baseball hat and shades, hopped on a bicycle and tooled around the lot/scene/shakedown. I'd imagine he and/or other members (except Jerry -- too recognizable no matter the extent of the disguise), must've done the same or similar forrays into the scene. I also recall seeing a picture of Phil outside of (i forget . . . Duke Univ. or Charlotte -- one of those SE places) w/ some 'heads in the lot/outside the venue. Can ya shed any light or tell us a story or two, Blair if ya got any -- would love to hear it! Always love this blog -- great little sidetrack / detour from my work. Eagle
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The parking lot scene at Boise in 1983 was pretty cool, until the local police showed up and started hassling folks about open containers, but then a funny thing happened; one of the cops got out of his car and started walking around warning people about their open beers, and while he walked around a bunch of freaks plastered his cruiser with tour stickers. The look on his face when he got back to his car was like a miracle ticket: priceless.
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Dennis Simms is an old friend of mine. He did some excellent shirts, the best of which (IMO) were designed by my friend Jim "Phin" Urban. Then another friend, Karen, started designing and selling shirts. Y'all might recall some of her designs from Bay Area shows in the early 80's. One was the Modianos cigarette paper logo with a skeleton reading the paper. Another, for Chinese New Years, had an I-Ching/Stealie design in the center and dragons surrounding it. Anybody remember those? How about you, Blair?
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10 years 2 months
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I wish somebody had a camera and eventually posted that picture(s) here on dead.net. Fun subject, Blair, Thanks! The few Shakedown Streets I was in Philadelphia, it didn't seem so great. The last one, for The Dead tour 2009. was a let-your-hair-down-just-as-long-as there's-no-violence-or-any-other disturbance. I don't remember seeing any police in a in-your-face presence on 05/02/09.
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I started seeing the Dead in '84. My first show that year at Pine Knob had sparce vending, but was still enough that it was a unique experience for me. For all I knew, I was going to see an oldies band from the 60s who had a couple of songs that got played on the radio. Little did I realise that my life would change forever, for the better! Fast forward to Alpine Valley '86 and '87, my next to forays into the experience, and there was a bit more of a scene, but still not overwhelming. The aspect of onsight camping was interesting to me as it created more of a festival atmosphere. A year after that, and the Dead having had a bonifide huge hit album and song, I attended Buckeye Lake in '88, and we arrived fairly early into a farm field type parking lot across the street from the enterance. As the morning progressed into the afternoon, we ended up being parked right smack dab in the middle of the biggest Shakedown Street I never could have imagined. It was literally a wall of people selling everything imaginable like food/drinks, cloths, jewelry, artwork, drugs, cars and probably even a kitchen sink or two ready for installment into a VW bus. We were parked so deep in the pit that we were commited to the lot until the following day. Add onto that a 110 degree day and 98 degree night and holy molie, it was just beyond nuts. Everybody had fireworks too. Sheesh... By '89, I started to go to more than one show, or run of shows a year. That spring in '89, I attended Ann Arbor and though a considerably smaller scene, was still thriving none-the-less. I went on a t-shirt buying binge at those shows. So many great designs. I think I got my first Dupree's Diamond News letter in the lot at those shows. These two shows immediately followed the Pittsburg riot shows that made national news, so the police presence was much higher than normal. I remember watching police dressed in tie dyes busting people left and right. I also remember seeing a guy in the lot who looked to me like Wavy Gravy dressed as a clown. Don't know if it was actually him, but the resemblence was uncanny. My next show was the middle night back at Alpine Valley after not going in '88, and man oh man, what a complete change to that place from '87. The parking area was now surrounded by a 12 foot fence, so the campers couldn't camp and vend on the golf course anymore. My next shows after that were the '90 spring Omni shows, and the camping and vending scene was considerably more subdued temporarily. I've seen much large and smaller camping and vending scenes at shows after that, but it was a big shift from the madness for a minute. Incidently, I've never camped out at a show. We always either had hotel rooms, or just drove back home afterwards. Buckeye Lake '88 was the closest I came to overnight camping, but that was only because we got trapped in the thick of the scene and had no choice but to wait it out. I haven't had a chance to see Further yet, but for the most part, The Other Ones, The Dead, Phil & Friends, Ratdog ect have for the most part been somewhat smaller vending affairs, if any at all. I attended a few Phish shows up to about '98, then lost interest in them. It always felt like the idiots who ruined the scene were, for the most part, the ones who gravited towrads the Phish scene. The ones who trashed the lots, disrespected the locals, crashed the gates ect. I always felt that it would have been great if more of the Deadhead tour head vendors and campers would have gravitated towards The Allman Brothers fter Jerry died. They were, and still are, in my opinion, a better band than Phish, String Cheese and what not. Like the Dead, they have soul. These other bands are souless noodlers to me, that compromises depth and content for uninteresting explorations. Don't get me wrong. I thought Phish had it going on musically up until the album Story of the Ghost. They completely lost me after that.
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saw a pizza oven in back of a pick up truck in dc in 95 summer saw these kid drumin on trash barrels in the lot they were really good. i went to three shows six months apart fall 79 spring 80 and fall all in maine labor day with the dead and levon helm in lewiston maine.i didnt know i was a dead head for a coup;e years latter
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......were SPAC in 88 and the forementioned Oxford Plains. The scenes were laid back, minimal hassles, no humidity, great deals, friendly older non-violent balloon guys.....and lots of great clothing optional swimming in Saratoga in the natural spring water with cool beers and the kind. the last JFK show shakdown scene in philly was downright dangerous as I recall...cops on horses all night....I saw a guy OD on a pitchers mound in that big park around 5:30 AM after the show-bad news, man. The weather almost always impacted Northeast Spring and Fall shakedowns-if it was both cold and rainy, the shakedown scene around arena's was alot "thinner". I always fondly remember the freakshow on the lawn of the Connecticut capitol building in April 88....we were so bad and unwelcome !!!! After the Monday night show the ground was just a mess...lots of vending and unruly behavior. During my first shows in the fall of 85 and summer of 86, I didn't fully appreciate the scene.....i regret that a little now.
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After way over 200 shows I don't think I ever even heard the term Shakedown St. referring to the scene until after Garcia died.Up until the mid 90s we spent a lot of time on the scene. The time travelers and other coincidental incidents that occurred there were highly educational and tuned me in to aspects of the universe I never would have understood without those experiences. I figure I spent more than a year of my life in total in Dead show parking lots. Pretty good for a person who was also employed the whole time. Merriweather '85 had the best parking lot scene of anywhere on the planet ever. There is just no earthly way to describe all that went on there. It would be quicker to say what did not. It would be a short list. Hershey right before it was very cool too. Camping on the manicured lawn with the amusement park in the background knowing the next stop was a blissful point in life. The biggest lot ever was Buckeye in I think it was '91 That place was so huge and the lots were separated by woods and were just random fields all over the place. That was the only time we had to spend a long time to find the car and were not actually sure we would find it. Atlanta had a very cool Shakedown St. with the coolest cops. I saw some playing in a band with heads one year and another year one stopped me at a corner after the show to check out my '66 Bonneville that I toured in. He says, " Damn. You can hardly hear it runnin. 65?" I say, "Yes sir keep it right on '65." The light changed before I realized he was talking about the year of the car and not how fast I should be goin. Philly was the ultimate scene. I know it was Filthadelphia, but the edge to that whole thing and the abundance there was so spectacular. One year we were hanging in the back of my Subaru Wagon with the hatch open and this Ryder truck pulled up in the lane behind us. Two guys who I guess were undercover cops got out, opened the back of the box truck, pulled out about 12 nitrous tanks and opened the valves on all of them simultaneously. The back of the car rapidly filled with nitrous. They never really looked at us. We stayed there as long as we could but eventually had to stagger off to remain conscious. The Hulkomania show where they were coming out as we were going in was also something totally nuts. The look on their faces as they emerged from that place with a sea of heads jamming the whole place up... Deer Creek in the early years was also very cool. Until you had to leave. At least one year they ran dogs through every single car on the way to the highway. Unless you happened to have a German Shepherd in yours. The risk/reward was too great for them at that point. Time Blender - I'd like to take that ride again!
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My first Dead T-shirt was bought on the street outside the Capitol Theater, Portchester (welcome back Capitol) Feb. 71. It showed Garcia playing an acoustic guitar, all green print on white shirt. Kelly/ Mouse - American Beauty style lettering "Grateful Dead".I wore that shirt at Veneta 8/27/72. It's in the movie. My second Dead shirt was the same as Blair talked about, Pot leaf with "alembic skull" or Owsley's design.I bought that at Kumkwat Mae the Grateful Dead family owned store in Fairfax in July 72. A couple of the more fond "shakedown" scene's I remember were Santa Fe (9/10,11/83). Also Red Rocks June 1984. Both were assisted by the Hog Farm. In 84 they had the amazing "Pigpen" t-shirt that was a benefit shirt for the Rex Foundation based on the portrait of Pig on the back cover of "Workingman's Dead".
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The first shirt you mention is the one I was talking about, too... the one I bought outside Manhattan Center... though now you've got me thinkin'--maybe I bought mine at those same '71 Port Chester shows (I went two nights) but maybe I wore it to Manhattan Center...
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I also really enjoyed the Shakedown Streets on tour, which is where you would often find you friends before and after shows. During the Fall ’83 East coast tour I helped a friend sell her 8 1/2” x 11” photos from the acoustic shows at Radio City, nice photo but what was unique was that she hand printed all the ’82 sets lists on the back. Very small, delicate printing and they sold quite well, wonder how many are still out there. It was a fun way to meet new people milling around the lots before the shows. Another great Shakedown Street memory was at Rich Stadium, 1990, it was the last show of the tour for my girlfriend and me. After the show we wanted some food before starting our drive back to Florida and found a curly fry stand. Handed the guy our $4 for two cups of hot fries, he looked up and smiled, “Smitty is that you” he said, ya it’s me and I found two old friends that moved to Colorado from Vermont in the mid 80’s and hadn’t seen them since the SPAC show in 85’. Needless to say we didn’t get very far on our drive to Florida that night, partying and reminiscing about past tours. The Curly Fry guys stayed on tour until the end, me Summer ’90 was my last of 29 different tours. It was always amazing that the people who made Shakedown Street a possibility managed to make it back tour after tour.
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I have seen what looks lilke the same tour rats at String Cheese and Phish, guess nobody ever really "Keep Your Day Job"
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  • Hugo Fugazi
    6 years 1 month ago
    Set list photos
    I still have the ones I bought!
  • klaussmith
    6 years 2 months ago
    Still Alive and Well
    I have seen what looks lilke the same tour rats at String Cheese and Phish, guess nobody ever really "Keep Your Day Job"
  • klaussmith
    6 years 2 months ago
    Great Memories
    I also really enjoyed the Shakedown Streets on tour, which is where you would often find you friends before and after shows. During the Fall ’83 East coast tour I helped a friend sell her 8 1/2” x 11” photos from the acoustic shows at Radio City, nice photo but what was unique was that she hand printed all the ’82 sets lists on the back. Very small, delicate printing and they sold quite well, wonder how many are still out there. It was a fun way to meet new people milling around the lots before the shows. Another great Shakedown Street memory was at Rich Stadium, 1990, it was the last show of the tour for my girlfriend and me. After the show we wanted some food before starting our drive back to Florida and found a curly fry stand. Handed the guy our $4 for two cups of hot fries, he looked up and smiled, “Smitty is that you” he said, ya it’s me and I found two old friends that moved to Colorado from Vermont in the mid 80’s and hadn’t seen them since the SPAC show in 85’. Needless to say we didn’t get very far on our drive to Florida that night, partying and reminiscing about past tours. The Curly Fry guys stayed on tour until the end, me Summer ’90 was my last of 29 different tours. It was always amazing that the people who made Shakedown Street a possibility managed to make it back tour after tour.
  • Default Avatar
    blairj
    6 years 2 months ago
    Strider...
    The first shirt you mention is the one I was talking about, too... the one I bought outside Manhattan Center... though now you've got me thinkin'--maybe I bought mine at those same '71 Port Chester shows (I went two nights) but maybe I wore it to Manhattan Center...
  • Strider 88
    6 years 2 months ago
    Dead T-shirts, Hog Farm
    My first Dead T-shirt was bought on the street outside the Capitol Theater, Portchester (welcome back Capitol) Feb. 71. It showed Garcia playing an acoustic guitar, all green print on white shirt. Kelly/ Mouse - American Beauty style lettering "Grateful Dead".I wore that shirt at Veneta 8/27/72. It's in the movie. My second Dead shirt was the same as Blair talked about, Pot leaf with "alembic skull" or Owsley's design.I bought that at Kumkwat Mae the Grateful Dead family owned store in Fairfax in July 72. A couple of the more fond "shakedown" scene's I remember were Santa Fe (9/10,11/83). Also Red Rocks June 1984. Both were assisted by the Hog Farm. In 84 they had the amazing "Pigpen" t-shirt that was a benefit shirt for the Rex Foundation based on the portrait of Pig on the back cover of "Workingman's Dead".