• July 20, 2012
    http://www.dead.net/features/blairs-blog/blair-s-golden-road-blog-if-these-walls-could-talk
    Blair’s Golden Road Blog - If These Walls Could Talk

    I had a wonderful experience last weekend, when Regan and I took a whirlwind trip up to Portland, Ore. We had some Alaska Airlines flight certificates that were going to expire if we didn’t use them, and it seems as though a lot of our friends have been raving about how cool Portland is these days. It had been many years since either of us had been there. We were blessed with beautiful weather for our visit to the incomparable Japanese Garden and the Rose Garden and for the Bastille Day festival in Director Park, where we sipped champagne, ate perfect frites and swayed to a band that played Piaf and Django.

    One of the highlights of our trip, though, was connected to the Grateful Dead. For years I’ve been curious about Portland’s Crystal Ballroom, site of a pair of excellent shows February 2 and 3, 1968, during the band’s famous Great Northwest trek with Quicksilver Messenger Service. Dan Healy recorded the Dead’s performances for possible inclusion on the band’s second album-in-progress, Anthem of the Sun, so they featured that material (“That’s It for the Other One,” “New Potato Caboose,” etc.), as well as very early versions of “Dark Star,” “China Cat,” and “The Eleven” (all joined together in a medley on 2/3). They also played first-album faves such as “Viola Lee Blues” and “Good Mornin’ Little Schoolgirl” and, on 2/2, one of the few surviving performances of a dreamy Phil Lesh tune called “Clementine,” sung by Garcia. (That appeared on the box set So Many Roads: 1965-1995, while a stand-alone “Dark Star” from the same night was on Road Trips Vol. 2, No. 2: Carousel 2/14/68, and the 2/2 “Schoolgirl” was part of the Bonus Disc for that release. Bits from those shows did turn up on Anthem of the Sun, though not differentiated from other performances in the sonic collage.)

    The Northwest tour marked the beginning of the band’s most musically adventurous (and psychedelic) phase, which stretched through the first few months of 1969, after which country influences increasingly turned up in their music and steered it toward the mellower Workingman’s Dead/American Beauty era.

    The Crystal Ballroom as a rock venue survived only until the fall of 1968 (this after operating in one form or another, more or less continuously, since it opened in 1914), and then was not used for the next 30 years. It was revived by the Northwest ale, wine and spirits maker McMenamins in 1997, and has been hosting rock dances (and other shows) ever since. Phil Lesh, who has always had a keen sense of Grateful Dead history, had his band booked into the venue January 28 and 29, 2008—around the 40th anniversary of the GD shows there. Nice! The Mickey Hart Band played there in May of this year. The circle is unbroken.

    The night we arrived in Portland, a well-regarded Led Zeppelin tribute band called No Quarter was playing the Crystal Ballroom, but we decided to pass on that show. The next afternoon, however, we stopped by in the middle of the afternoon, hoping someone might take pity on a guy who was desperate to see the ballroom. We lucked out. A nice young fellow was working in the box office, dealing with a ticket snafu for that night’s concert by Ringo Starr at the McMenamins venue in nearby Edgefield (where Furthur is playing September 27-29). He cheerily agreed to give us a personal tour, walking us up to the third-floor ballroom, and offering a history lesson as we went. We noticed the “Cowboy Neal” verse of “The Other One” painted high on the four walls of the foyer outside the ballroom, and then we stepped inside…

    Portland’s Crystal Ballroom, 7/15/12. Photo: BJ © 2012

    I was immediately giddy, as I could practically feel the history of the place oozing from the walls and the ornate chandeliers. The legendary sprung wooden floor really does bounce to the step—I could easily imagine what it might be like bouncing with more than 1,000 people on it. (Official capacity is 1,500.) Large windows on one side of the ballroom let in the afternoon light; at night, those windows look out on a busy street in the now-hip Pearl District. I had no trouble imagining the five members of the Dead spread across the smallish stage in 1968, blowing minds with their weird and wonderful new music—after Quicksilver (and openers the P.H. Factor Jug Band) had already done their thing. From the small balcony (which is now a VIP section at most shows there), it was easy to picture Portland’s hippie community spinning and boogieing and stomping to two of San Francisco’s finest groups on a cold, perhaps rainy, night in early February 44 years ago.

    After descending to street level in the same rickety elevator that bands have used to take their equipment up to the ballroom since its ’60s glory days, I walked back out onto the street feeling lighter than air—as though I’d been through something profound; as if something had hooked into my own Grateful Dead/rock ’n’ roll DNA.

    I’ve had that feeling in many other places, too. When the Fillmore in San Francisco reopened as a rock club in the late 1980s, it was nearly impossible not to be completely overwhelmed by the history in the building (which I never went to in the ’60s). It helped that the lobby walls are covered floor to ceiling with photos and the giant third-floor bar is an incredible gallery of Fillmore posters. But even without the memorabilia, the place just seems to drip history. It’s no coincidence that during the Fillmore’s first few years back in operation, nearly every act I saw mentioned the vibe of the place and its illustrious past.

    When I was working on my Jerry biography—Garcia: An American Life—in the late ’90s, I enjoyed several incredible days searching out the various places he had lived (from information supplied by his family, friends, old telephone directories, birth and death certificates; you name it). I got goosebumps when one of Jerry’s cousins took me down a one-lane road through a forest in a wooded area near Santa Cruz to show me the little cabin where Jerry’s right middle finger was axed when he was 4, and the nearby swimming hole where he and his brother and their friends swam during the summers and, when Jerry was a teenager, practiced guitar with another cousin.

    I found the charming little cottage in Palo Alto where Jerry and his first wife, Sara, lived in the early ’60s, and pictured him walking by the white picket fence as he headed out to Dana Morgan’s Music Shop to teach banjo and guitar. I tracked down the house in Larkspur where Jerry, Mountain Girl and Robert Hunter lived in the late ’60s, when the songwriting duo was turning out one golden nugget after another. (Not far away was Janis Joplin’s pad; another cool place).

    A few years ago, on another discovery trip, I stood in awe as I watched a giant room full of Hondas up on lifts being worked on by mechanics. OK, I wasn’t actually looking at the Hondas. But the enormous service garage was the old Fillmore West on Market Street, and the bones of the room, so to speak, are unchanged. I went to the Fillmore West once during the summer of 1970, when I was on vacation with my family in San Francisco, and stepping back into that space instantly brought me back to that Steve Miller-Bo Diddley show 35 years earlier. Oh, to have been in that space on Feb. 27, 1969, night of the Live Dead “Dark Star” > “St. Stephen.”

    What can I say—I’m a sucker for history. Whether it’s Edgar Allen Poe’s house in Baltimore, Jefferson’s Monticello in Virginia, or 710 Ashbury in the Haight, I’m fascinated by where people I admire lived, worked and played. Places tell us so many things that books and magazine descriptions cannot. You know that expression: “If these walls could talk”? Well, they can, and they do!

    Yet so many are gone—lost to the wrecking ball. I’m sorry most of you will never see Winterland or the Fillmore East. I’m disappointed I never saw the Menlo Park boarding house known as the Chateau—so central to the early ’60s Peninsula bohemian scene Jerry and Hunter were part of.

    At least now I can cross the Crystal Ballroom off my list. Another piece of the puzzle has been put in place. (It also gave me an excuse to listen to the ’68 shows again while I wrote this.) But there are so many others I still want to visit someday—venues such as Alpine Valley, the Fox theaters in St. Louis and Atlanta, Woodstock, the Lyceum in London … Egypt! Can’t see ’em all, I guess. Where does the time go?

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I had a wonderful experience last weekend, when Regan and I took a whirlwind trip up to Portland, Ore. We had some Alaska Airlines flight certificates that were going to expire if we didn’t use them, and it seems as though a lot of our friends have been raving about how cool Portland is these days. It had been many years since either of us had been there. We were blessed with beautiful weather for our visit to the incomparable Japanese Garden and the Rose Garden and for the Bastille Day festival in Director Park, where we sipped champagne, ate perfect frites and swayed to a band that played Piaf and Django.

One of the highlights of our trip, though, was connected to the Grateful Dead. For years I’ve been curious about Portland’s Crystal Ballroom, site of a pair of excellent shows February 2 and 3, 1968, during the band’s famous Great Northwest trek with Quicksilver Messenger Service. Dan Healy recorded the Dead’s performances for possible inclusion on the band’s second album-in-progress, Anthem of the Sun, so they featured that material (“That’s It for the Other One,” “New Potato Caboose,” etc.), as well as very early versions of “Dark Star,” “China Cat,” and “The Eleven” (all joined together in a medley on 2/3). They also played first-album faves such as “Viola Lee Blues” and “Good Mornin’ Little Schoolgirl” and, on 2/2, one of the few surviving performances of a dreamy Phil Lesh tune called “Clementine,” sung by Garcia. (That appeared on the box set So Many Roads: 1965-1995, while a stand-alone “Dark Star” from the same night was on Road Trips Vol. 2, No. 2: Carousel 2/14/68, and the 2/2 “Schoolgirl” was part of the Bonus Disc for that release. Bits from those shows did turn up on Anthem of the Sun, though not differentiated from other performances in the sonic collage.)

The Northwest tour marked the beginning of the band’s most musically adventurous (and psychedelic) phase, which stretched through the first few months of 1969, after which country influences increasingly turned up in their music and steered it toward the mellower Workingman’s Dead/American Beauty era.

The Crystal Ballroom as a rock venue survived only until the fall of 1968 (this after operating in one form or another, more or less continuously, since it opened in 1914), and then was not used for the next 30 years. It was revived by the Northwest ale, wine and spirits maker McMenamins in 1997, and has been hosting rock dances (and other shows) ever since. Phil Lesh, who has always had a keen sense of Grateful Dead history, had his band booked into the venue January 28 and 29, 2008—around the 40th anniversary of the GD shows there. Nice! The Mickey Hart Band played there in May of this year. The circle is unbroken.

The night we arrived in Portland, a well-regarded Led Zeppelin tribute band called No Quarter was playing the Crystal Ballroom, but we decided to pass on that show. The next afternoon, however, we stopped by in the middle of the afternoon, hoping someone might take pity on a guy who was desperate to see the ballroom. We lucked out. A nice young fellow was working in the box office, dealing with a ticket snafu for that night’s concert by Ringo Starr at the McMenamins venue in nearby Edgefield (where Furthur is playing September 27-29). He cheerily agreed to give us a personal tour, walking us up to the third-floor ballroom, and offering a history lesson as we went. We noticed the “Cowboy Neal” verse of “The Other One” painted high on the four walls of the foyer outside the ballroom, and then we stepped inside…

Portland’s Crystal Ballroom, 7/15/12. Photo: BJ © 2012

I was immediately giddy, as I could practically feel the history of the place oozing from the walls and the ornate chandeliers. The legendary sprung wooden floor really does bounce to the step—I could easily imagine what it might be like bouncing with more than 1,000 people on it. (Official capacity is 1,500.) Large windows on one side of the ballroom let in the afternoon light; at night, those windows look out on a busy street in the now-hip Pearl District. I had no trouble imagining the five members of the Dead spread across the smallish stage in 1968, blowing minds with their weird and wonderful new music—after Quicksilver (and openers the P.H. Factor Jug Band) had already done their thing. From the small balcony (which is now a VIP section at most shows there), it was easy to picture Portland’s hippie community spinning and boogieing and stomping to two of San Francisco’s finest groups on a cold, perhaps rainy, night in early February 44 years ago.

After descending to street level in the same rickety elevator that bands have used to take their equipment up to the ballroom since its ’60s glory days, I walked back out onto the street feeling lighter than air—as though I’d been through something profound; as if something had hooked into my own Grateful Dead/rock ’n’ roll DNA.

I’ve had that feeling in many other places, too. When the Fillmore in San Francisco reopened as a rock club in the late 1980s, it was nearly impossible not to be completely overwhelmed by the history in the building (which I never went to in the ’60s). It helped that the lobby walls are covered floor to ceiling with photos and the giant third-floor bar is an incredible gallery of Fillmore posters. But even without the memorabilia, the place just seems to drip history. It’s no coincidence that during the Fillmore’s first few years back in operation, nearly every act I saw mentioned the vibe of the place and its illustrious past.

When I was working on my Jerry biography—Garcia: An American Life—in the late ’90s, I enjoyed several incredible days searching out the various places he had lived (from information supplied by his family, friends, old telephone directories, birth and death certificates; you name it). I got goosebumps when one of Jerry’s cousins took me down a one-lane road through a forest in a wooded area near Santa Cruz to show me the little cabin where Jerry’s right middle finger was axed when he was 4, and the nearby swimming hole where he and his brother and their friends swam during the summers and, when Jerry was a teenager, practiced guitar with another cousin.

I found the charming little cottage in Palo Alto where Jerry and his first wife, Sara, lived in the early ’60s, and pictured him walking by the white picket fence as he headed out to Dana Morgan’s Music Shop to teach banjo and guitar. I tracked down the house in Larkspur where Jerry, Mountain Girl and Robert Hunter lived in the late ’60s, when the songwriting duo was turning out one golden nugget after another. (Not far away was Janis Joplin’s pad; another cool place).

A few years ago, on another discovery trip, I stood in awe as I watched a giant room full of Hondas up on lifts being worked on by mechanics. OK, I wasn’t actually looking at the Hondas. But the enormous service garage was the old Fillmore West on Market Street, and the bones of the room, so to speak, are unchanged. I went to the Fillmore West once during the summer of 1970, when I was on vacation with my family in San Francisco, and stepping back into that space instantly brought me back to that Steve Miller-Bo Diddley show 35 years earlier. Oh, to have been in that space on Feb. 27, 1969, night of the Live Dead “Dark Star” > “St. Stephen.”

What can I say—I’m a sucker for history. Whether it’s Edgar Allen Poe’s house in Baltimore, Jefferson’s Monticello in Virginia, or 710 Ashbury in the Haight, I’m fascinated by where people I admire lived, worked and played. Places tell us so many things that books and magazine descriptions cannot. You know that expression: “If these walls could talk”? Well, they can, and they do!

Yet so many are gone—lost to the wrecking ball. I’m sorry most of you will never see Winterland or the Fillmore East. I’m disappointed I never saw the Menlo Park boarding house known as the Chateau—so central to the early ’60s Peninsula bohemian scene Jerry and Hunter were part of.

At least now I can cross the Crystal Ballroom off my list. Another piece of the puzzle has been put in place. (It also gave me an excuse to listen to the ’68 shows again while I wrote this.) But there are so many others I still want to visit someday—venues such as Alpine Valley, the Fox theaters in St. Louis and Atlanta, Woodstock, the Lyceum in London … Egypt! Can’t see ’em all, I guess. Where does the time go?

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I had a wonderful experience last weekend, when Regan and I took a whirlwind trip up to Portland, Ore. We had some Alaska Airlines flight certificates that were going to expire if we didn’t use them, and it seems as though a lot of our friends have been raving about how cool Portland is these days. It had been many years since either of us had been there. We were blessed with beautiful weather for our visit to the incomparable Japanese Garden and the Rose Garden and for the Bastille Day festival in Director Park, where we sipped champagne, ate perfect frites and swayed to a band that played Piaf and Django.

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very nice thanks
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I have been fortunate in the past year to visit three places I have seen the Dead before, some many years ago. I saw Furthur at Bethel Woods a year ago (couldn't make this week's show; darn!) and it was the first time i had returned to Bethel since I took in the three days of fun and music with Max Yasgur (and the Dead for the first time) three days before my 18th birthday in August 1969. The museum is a trip (I ran into Kadlecik) and seeing "the field" again was surprisingly emotional for me. Two months ago, I visited NYC and walked by the old Fillmore East. Couldn't go in, but I saw many shows there, including 2/11/70 with Allman Bros and Fleetwood Mac. Alpine Valley was one of my favorites--nothing like 35,000 deadheads singing Uncle John's Band in the summer sun. Tonight is the Vibes in Bridgeport, CT, only 90 minutes away, but I cannot go. I know it will be a blast as our tribe continues marching onward, uplifted by the spirit and sound of our musical heros and their friends. This music ain't ever gonna end. What's perhaps the most fulfilling part of all of it for me is to see young kids contunuing to jump on the bus 50 years after it pulled out of the station. Come and join the party -- every day!
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...is gone! Just a doorway with a plaque under some apartments or condos, I gather. Or maybe a bank? Sorry, not sure. Someone fill us in!
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Great article! I'm a real sucker for this kind of stuff, too. It's usually one of the very first things I think about when visiting a city for the first time. For me, every place the Dead played until 76 or so, is like sacred ground. I wish there were some guidebook for finding those old venues, or if they're gone, at least where they used to be.
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Always loved to see the historical aspects of the band, Went by 710 after my first NYE run in '83 and after seeing some Greek shows at Berkeley, had to visit the stage when it was unoccupied. Sat right in the Post-83 Jerry spot and puffed a big one so for '87, '88 and '89 plus the Jerry Band shows later on, I could boast that I sat where Jer is standing and smoked a bowl.Calveras was a hoot after seein' the '87 outing and then Furthur in 2010 what memeories. ahh Well back to reality and another jammin' show from Cubensis at the Golden Sails.
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Great read as always, Blair! What amazes me when I see some of these early venues is how tiny and intimate they are. I didn't hop on the bus until '78 (Syracuse show was my first) and in upstate NY at that time, venues held maybe 6,000-10,000 people -- Binghamton, Syracuse, Cornell, Utica, Buffalo, Rochester. Of course, by the '90s when my choice was Soldier Field or nothing, those old venues looked awful good. But places like the Fillmores, Avalon, etc. were positively perfect, with great acoustics, to boot. I'm sure somewhere is a guy who thought in 1966, "I have to see Jerry at the Avalon Ballroom with 500 others now? I remember when he gave me guitar lessons in my basement!" lol
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Great piece Blair. I will do a little exploring when I am in Portland for Furthur at the end of September. As for the Dead's London venues: The Lyceum is still there and is a wonderful place…the Lion King musical has been running there for years. I did not see the Dead there, nor the famous Bob Marley live album show (now if everyone who said they had been there was there it would have a capacity of 50,000 not 2,000). But I did see the Clash there and listened for echoes of Dark Star (well both bands played ‘I Fought the Law’). Empire Pool Wembley/Wembley Arena is a characterless echoey barn. Not worth visiting unless you need to. Alexandra Palace must be the GD’s most spectacular London venue. A huge, historic building on top of a hill in North London surrounded by parkland. The world's first public broadcasts of television were made from there in 1936! Well worth a visit just to see the building and the amazing views over London. I never saw a gig there, but the sound is supposed to be terrible (apparently it was pretty bad for the Dead’s shows in 1974). But perhaps the most ghosts of London rock live in the Rainbow….a beautiful theatre with a desert oasis theme and star spangled ceiling where everyone who was anyone played. Every time I walked in there I stared around in amazement and thought of all that had taken place in that room This was the place where Hendrix first set fire to his guitar, where Zappa famously was pushed off stage and broke his leg ( a week or so after the legendary Smoke on the Water incident in Montreux...now that was an unlucky tour), where Clapton’s famed Rainbow Concert took place, where Floyd previewed DSOTM, where parts of Van the Man’s Too Late to Stop Now were recorded etc etc. My most memorable experiences included the Little Feat ‘Waiting for Columbus’ shows, many roots reggae shows (Culture, Spear, Prince Far-I in their prime), the Ramones and of course the Grateful Dead during both 1981 runs. The Rainbow is now a Church, owned by the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. I do not know if they have tried to exorcise it from all the Devil music that went on in there. Apparently they have restored the auditorium, so maybe there is a chance to sneak in and see….you may have to accept a little preaching though.
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Badger, is The Rainbow the venue that the Finsbury Park Astoria became? If so you can add The Beatles to the list of acts that played there. Not a bad record. I live on the other side of the world from all these places but when I was in Amsterdam a few years ago I found myself standing in front of the Concertgebouw. Not quite as intimate as the Crystal Ballroom but the place of some amazing rock music in the late 60s and early 70s - The Dead, The Who, Pink Floyd come to mind. While holidaying in San Francisco last year I had trouble explaining to my girlfriend why I was so excited to be passing a car dealership on the bus....
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is the name most people use for Alexandra Palace. I saw the Dead there in '74. As I recall, the sound was not that bad, but the place was only really suitable as a venue on account of its size. The Dead were well aware of the potential acoustic hazards of the place in advance and had decided to try and replicate a San Francisco dance hall experince for their shows. They hung many large tie-dyed and generally psychedelic banners and the like from the (exposed) roof trusses which not only added to the atmosphere of the event but undoubtedly improved the acoustics. Naturally, the impressive "Wall of Sound" fitted in there with no problems! There were two long, open halls next to each other, both utterly devoid of user-friendly features such as seats. The Dead played in one hall, while the adjacent hall hosted a few people playing frisbee - indoor frisbee throwing is a thing to behold due to the absence of wind! My memories of the show I saw are generally all positive, though I was somewhat underwhelmed by the rendition of "Seastones" between the first and second sets - but I must admit to having one too many space cakes which could have affected my judgement somewhat. Sadly that was the last time I ever got to see the Dead in action but I treasure the memories of Ally Pally and the Bickershaw climatic event in '72 (no frisbees there as I recall!).
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I've been to Portland a few times, mostly to enjoy the many microbreweries. It would have been wonderful to see the Grateful Dead play at the Carousel and bounce on the dance floor there. Next time west, I'll make a point to visit the ballroom, too.Amazing theaters I've been to include the Ohio in Columbus, the Saenger in New Orleans in 1980, and Music Halls in both Cleveland, for Jimi Hendrix in 1968, and in Cincinnati, for a GD show in 1972. Freedom Hall, with the Wall of Sound stuffed onto the stage, was quite amazing in 1974.
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Indeed that is a place for rock history...the Concertgebouw, plus of course the Paradiso and the Melkweg. Those places have a lot of stories to tell and are still making new ones.
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Was a pretty vibed out place. Returned there circa 97 for the Oregon Country Fair.Liberty caps for all.
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Alpine's a great outdoor venue - of course, if the weather's right. We really enjoyed the Aug 7 n 8, 1982 shows there - yes - the weather was perfect. Thanks for the ballroom photo Blair
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i accidently arrived at alpine valley a day early (from my then home in st louis) for the 84 shows, some other early folks showed me a good time that night since i was travelling alone and sleeping in the car well i woke up early the next morning and the equipment trucks hadnt arrived yet, i found a hole in the fence and had the amphiteater to myself, and played acoustic gtr on the stage to nobody little did i know they would be reviving lovelight right there soon
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I was in Portland ten years ago for a work conference and the highlight of the conference for me was the event at the Crystal Ballroom. What a beautiful room and the history just oozed out of the walls-- that spring floor was incredible, too! McMenemins has done some really good things in that area, buying up historic buildings and restoring them. On the same trip, I met a friend and we went to Edgefield for a night's stay in the old 'poorhouse' that has been turned into a really nice hotel by McMenemins. Furthur is playing there?! Wish I could make the trip. They make good beer and wine, too. Blair, you need to visit Wisconsin and go to Alpine Valley. Go to Milwaukee when there is a good show at Alpine, have a great time in Milwaukee for a couple nights and see a show. Good times to be had. Chicago is also close, so take in a blues show while you are at it.
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These places stand out in my mind for history, pre-history and hipstory. Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico; Oraibi, Arizona ; and in the worlds of the Dead, The Capitol Theater, Portchester, N.Y.; and Veneta, Oregon. Visit these places and you can feel the energy, like dawn lightning.
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My son did a semester of college in London so my family flew out to spend a few days there and see the sights. To suggest to them that I wanted to go to a venue that the Dead played in 1972 probably wouldn't have been too well received so i found a few touristy things to do in that vacinity. We just happened to "wander" by the Lyceum and I was able to go in as far as the box office and sneak a peak inside the venue. My wife knew something was up when I asked her to take pictures of me in front of every part of the building. She said "what's the big deal about a place the Lion King is playing at.... oh wait, don't tell me...... the Dead played the best show ever here right". Well as a matter of fact.......We also were walking through Chinatown and I spotted the restaurant "Lee Ho Fooks". Took the family there the next night and I had a big plate of beef chow mein.
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I went out for a walk one night a few months back, as a business traveler in Portland, and came upon the Crystal. Cool neon, I knew what I had found, my first ballroom era artifact. In 1990 or so, I came upon the Stanley in Jersey City and all that beautiful copper on the marquee, I was amazed to see that the theater still looked fine.
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I saw the 2008 Phil & Friends shows at the Crystal Ballroom and absolutley loved the joint --gorgeous, classy and yes -- dripping with history. They sure did pack 'em in that place both nights. First night, P&F's opened w/ the same 4 or 5 tunes the GD had done 40 years earlier. If walls could talk, I wish forests could as well -- especially the "mindless forest" at Saratoga (that's what my buddies and I refer to it as well -- June, 1984 just before the show, blazing electric, skipping through waist high ferns surrounded by monsterous pines, stopping to pee w/ (apparently) no else around, along comes a totoally "out there" 'head. Not knowing what to say, I ask him if he's got any weed (don't know why -- I didn't even want any!) -- "yep," he replies and starts dumping handfulls in my hands, wallet, shirt pocket . . . my buddies come along and does the same to them -- buds overflowing to the point where they are spilling all over the fern covered forest ground as light raindrops make it throught the setting sun and tall pines . . . and as soon as the guy appeared, no sooner did he disappear. Love the "mindless forest." (Glad it doesn't speak, though ;-) -- I guesss I just did for it!
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Great post, Blair! I do love seeing shows at historic venues, and since I moved to Boston 10 years ago, the Orpheum is one of my favorite places to see music (Furthur, Phil and Friends w/ Jackie Greene, Ben Harper). Formerly the Boston Music Hall and site of the spectacular 11/30 and 12/2/73 shows on DP 14, the Orpheum is a beautiful looking and sounding theater right across from the Boston Common. I also had lots of good times at Red Rocks when I used to live in CO, including an Allman Bros. show in '95. Looking out over Denver when the sun goes down and the city lights come on is a sublime experience.
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Hey now Eagle! The mindless forest that is adjascent to SPAC is the Saratoga State Park, and I too have been mystified by it many times. I saw all 4 SPAC GD shows (83, 84, 85 & 88) and each time I wandered though the pine forest that abuts the SPAC grounds. They truly are magnificent! I've have more than a few trippy moments in those woods. I got accused on being a narc by a wierded out, tripping dude (man, that was a harsh accusation!), I'm stumbled across a very good friend on mine sitting under some pines with another dude who happened to the playing a mandolin, had someone come up to me and say "we have reason to believe you are under the influence................of Rock N Roll!", plus many, many more. The 84' show was on the day of my High School graduation. So many great memories. This is the venue that I call home. Blair, if you ever get a chance to come east (and I don't know that you ever do), I implore you to come visit SPAC, even if it's just to say that you've been there and done that. It could potentially become one of your favorite outdoor venues. Anyone who's ever been there will tell you it's a great place to see a show!
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I have been to the Greek Theatre for the 1989 run of shows (the last at the hallowed venue) as well the 2005 Jerry tribute show; Red Rocks for probably over 30 shows and, likewise, all of the GD shows at SPAC 83, 84, 85 and 88 (as well as "The Dead in '03). In my humble opinion SPAC rivals, if not surpasses, the hallowed mecca's also known as the Greek and Red Rocks. I know . . . bold statement. The boys always played SPAC in June (solstice time). The amphitheater is at one end of rectagularly shaped state park w/ giant pines surrounding and soaring above the amphitheater, w/ a beautifu,l good-sized, rushing creek/gorge to one side of the amphitheater w/ a pedestrian bridge from the parking lot over the gorge which leads into the amphitheater. The state park w/in which the amphitheater is located has all these beautiful gardens, lawns and brick tasteful looking building w/ potico's and such and then more forest . . . and I could go on and on and on. Seemed like Eden -- everything was cool and very little security/cops back in the day (until the dark element of the scene needed to rush the gates etc. and give the scene the black eye we all know about). I believe everyone (and I mean everyone) who saw a show at SPAC got lost at least once at the place (and probably for the better! ;-), because the amphitheater lawn backs up to and then levels out into the giant state park into which one naturally wanders after the show naturally believing "out" is 180 degrees opposite from the stage -- but alas! Out is to the left and right; not the rear. To the rear leads out into the state park and the mindless forest where one may become lost but is always found between which all sorts of crazy, synchronsitics happenings of all sorts, shapes, sizes and colors occur. Run, don't walk, to check out SPAC. That being said, when I saw the "Dead" there in '03, it apeared that the venue had taken on a corporate aura a la so many sterile amphitheaters these days -- e.g. Jones beach, the innumerable Verizon amphtheaters, etc., but the state park, gorge/creek and mindless forest I believe remain in tact -- dunno -- it's been 11 years since I've been there. Hope so. Check it, Blair, and please report back that the mindless forest remains in tact, magical and full of our once lost minds!
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10 years
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Hey Now Eagle! Well, you would be correct in saying that the place has become more "corporate", however, it still holds it magic, at least in my opinion. For a while, they stopped allowing coolers in, and for a while they had a "Beer Garden" (a fenced in area) where you had to buy their beer du jour and you had to consume it before leaving the garden. They also for a while had a very Gestapo like security staff that would grab people and hussle them out for the only reason was that they got caught with "combustibles". Very much of a bummer. HOWEVER, they recently relaxed the security and it's a more comfortable place to see a show. The adjacent State Park has become a difficult place to party now. Because of the amount of trash that was being dumped around that beautiful place, they cracked down really hard on people coming in. They had Park Police & local Police searching cars for coolers containing alcohol and anyone caught with it would have to dump the contents. If you were lucky enough to escape detection, you had to put your adult beverage of choice in a plastic cup. If they caught you with an open container, they'd make you dump it. That being said, it is still THE venue for seeing a show.
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11 years 5 months
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Just an FYI. The Orpheum Boston was not formally the Boston Music Hall. The Music Hall is now the Wang Center and it is located several blocks down from the Orpheum. Both are great venues.
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6 years 10 months
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The band's most musically adventurous and psychedelic phase was fall 1971-74
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6 years 8 months
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1967-68 and arguably 1969 are easily the most psychedelic years of GD. Perhaps not the most mature or well-played, but the times just swept them up to their peak, bar none. Adventurous is another matter. I feel 1973-74 are the most adventurous years but there is room for valid disagreement there. Not on the psychedelia though, imho...
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10 years 7 months
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Hey All, "If I only had my way, I would tear this old Building down" Boston Garden, a Venue of sports dynasties Razed in 1997. First event at the Garden: Bruins Vs. Canadians, 1928. I counted a total of 24 performances by the Dead at the Garden between 1970-1990, more than any other band. Not suprising I guess. The place was infamous for sketchy electrical systems, large concrete pillars i.e.obstructed view, and no ac... shwack in nh
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11 years 2 months
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Englishtown, Meadowlands, first-ever shows at MSG, yes indeed east coast tour fever was rising again in late winter of '79. Then came the Spring tour, and a show at the Forum in Billerica. A freaking classic night, I thought maybe the whole crowd was dosed.
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11 years 1 month
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Thanks for the clarification, Chas. After doing a little research, it seems that the history of the Boston Music Hall is kind of complicated. What is now the Orpheum was built on the site of the original Boston Music Hall in 1852, while what is now the Wang Center was built in the 1920s and was renamed the Boston Music Hall in the '60s. Either way, and as you point out, both are great places to see shows!
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10 years 11 months
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It's generally known that the original Fillmore auditorium largely presented African-American R&B and blues acts in the early 60s, before Bill Graham took it over in February 1966. The Fillmore Auditorium was in a largely African-American neighborhood (also called The Fillmore), so its not surprising that the venue mostly presented acts like Little Richard and Ike & Tina Turner. The promoter of the Fillmore in those days was an African American entrepreneur named Charles Sullivan, who largely retired when Graham took over his lease--indeed, that's why the lease was available. What's more obscure was that Sullivan also promoted shows at the Crystal Ballroom from about 1961-65. The same bands that played The Fillmore would play the Crystal the weekend before or after. The Crystal was in the African American part of Portland at the time. However, when the 405 freeway went through part of Portland, it kind of ruined the commerce of that neighborhood, and Sullivan stopped promoting R&B shows at the Crystal at the end of 1965. The Crystal was dark throughout 1966, until Whitey Davis and Mike Magaurn (sp?) took it over in early 1967. When the Crystal started up as a hippie ballroom in 1967, the biggest acts who played there did so because it was a day's drive from San Francisco or Seattle (if you're a roadie, that is). So history repeated itself, in a way, in that the Crystal and the Fillmore were linked venues throughout the 1960s, first through Charles Sullivan and somewhat more informally through all the bands on the "Fillmore circuit."
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11 years 5 months
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It should also be noted that the Family Dog put on shows at the Crystal Ballroom during 1968...
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11 years 4 months
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This is a great subject. Thinking of "all the years combined", I also fondly remember the Paramount Theater in Portland, Oregon (40 years ago last night), Red Rocks, Telluride, Yale Bowl, the original Compton Terrace in Tempe, Az.,and without a doubt the Fillmore East,and Winterland. When I was visiting with friends during the October 74 run we would cruise by the old Mars Hotel. Jack Kerouac stayed there sometimes. In the Grateful Dead movie it shows the wrecking ball knocking down the Mars. Kinda flashed on the old movie "The Time Machine" based on H.G.Wells novel of the same name. From the "Morlocks" to the Warlocks. And the music of the Grateful Dead indeed transcends time and space.

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11 years 5 months
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Geez, I feel like I'm disturbing a mini-work of art following Strider's post (which, in addition to its eloquence and living memories, makes a nice square visually).... To embellish Phil's keen sense of GD history, a friend of mine who was at those Phil shows (hanging out with Mountain Girl, to boot) saw the band's paper set list after one the nights.......and Clementine was on it! They ended up not performing it, alas, but it was in Phil's mind..... Sadly, I didn't hear those shows were happening till a month after they sold out. But I did catch Billy there a year later for the fabulous BK3's set in Feb '09....a few hours after McCoy Tyner at the Arlene Schnitzer Hall ~ formerly the Paramount Theater ~ that same day. In my era, both the Crystal and the Schnitzer/Paramount are sonically hit 'n miss, to be honest. The latter generally has better acoustics for classical & jazz shows than rock (though Elvis & the Imposters sure made it smile a few months ago). Not that I wouldn't have LOVED to have caught the good ol' GD there in '72, you understand.... (And you do have to love that bouncy floor at the Crystal...!) Heralding from Baltimore originally, I'm shamefaced to confess I've never been inside the Poe house (nor the Booth house in my native Harford County...reportedly haunted birthplace of Edwin & J.W.). But I've looked at them. Same with Anne Frank's and Dante's houses.....oh, the ghosts, at least of the imagination..... If I had a "home" venue for the Dead, it would have to be Hampton Coliseum. Not bursting with architectural character like these old theaters ~ but what moments, and what memories.
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7 years 3 months
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I was just thinking that, dang, I haven't yet seen any of the great historic Dead venues. :( Then I remembered one great exception, and surely one of the greatest of them all- Golden Gate Park. Talk about a place positively dripping with Dead history. Everytime I visit it, it's a struggle to think of anything else. Of course the Panhandle, Kezar, and Lindley Meadow, but really anywhere in the whole damn park works for me. Just think of all the Sunshine Daydreaming that's gone on in that park from the Haight/Ashbury heyday until now. Hallowed grounds for sure. For me, any visit there is much more moving than a visit to the current Haight/Ashbury, which ain't so inspiring nowadays.
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8 years 10 months
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Ehhh Corry, loved your history lesson but hate the SF>Portland drive. A day? Every time I do it it seems like 14 hours of going as fast as possible to get there.
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11 years 5 months
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My bud and I are starting to build a terrible hunger and thirst after having completed the SF half marathon. So the structure feels better after a litle break - no cramps, etc. - so we head out from where we're staying on Powell. He wants a veggie sandwich from the Saigon Cafe on Larkin so we take O'Farrell west. Somethings goin' off in my head about O'Farrell. As we approach Larkin I see it - the marquis, Great American Music Hall!!! I ask my not-fond-of-the-Dead bud if we could check it out. Thumbs up. We get his sandwich and head back up. Semi-seedy neighborhood, but this was 11:00 AM. I peak in the window and it's dark. Ah, shucks, nobody's there. So I go to check the other side of the marquis and a guy pops out to get something from his car - yes, this is my chance to ask if I can "just check it out" for a second. I follow him in after he says OK and my jaw darops to the flo!!! You'd never in a million years believe how small this place is!!! While a few people mill about, I decide to get my bud's camara and proceed furtively to snap away. I come binging outta there and my bud has no clue as to my giddiness. I go into the whole Vault 1 spiel and how serendipidous his wanting a sandwich from the Saigon Cafe was (we were going to chill at Johnny Foley's) and that the 37th anni was just a pair of weeks away!I can hardly wait to listen to it this year!!! Question: what if the Dead had released this instead of Blues For Allah? And Terrapin Station - what if they'd released something live instead - sure worked with a couple earlier ones. And wasn't Steal Your Face just one disc shy of being ridiculous? Happy Tuesday.
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  • Deadicated
    6 years 3 months ago
    Serendipidousness
    My bud and I are starting to build a terrible hunger and thirst after having completed the SF half marathon. So the structure feels better after a litle break - no cramps, etc. - so we head out from where we're staying on Powell. He wants a veggie sandwich from the Saigon Cafe on Larkin so we take O'Farrell west. Somethings goin' off in my head about O'Farrell. As we approach Larkin I see it - the marquis, Great American Music Hall!!! I ask my not-fond-of-the-Dead bud if we could check it out. Thumbs up. We get his sandwich and head back up. Semi-seedy neighborhood, but this was 11:00 AM. I peak in the window and it's dark. Ah, shucks, nobody's there. So I go to check the other side of the marquis and a guy pops out to get something from his car - yes, this is my chance to ask if I can "just check it out" for a second. I follow him in after he says OK and my jaw darops to the flo!!! You'd never in a million years believe how small this place is!!! While a few people mill about, I decide to get my bud's camara and proceed furtively to snap away. I come binging outta there and my bud has no clue as to my giddiness. I go into the whole Vault 1 spiel and how serendipidous his wanting a sandwich from the Saigon Cafe was (we were going to chill at Johnny Foley's) and that the 37th anni was just a pair of weeks away!I can hardly wait to listen to it this year!!! Question: what if the Dead had released this instead of Blues For Allah? And Terrapin Station - what if they'd released something live instead - sure worked with a couple earlier ones. And wasn't Steal Your Face just one disc shy of being ridiculous? Happy Tuesday.
  • Anna rRxia
    6 years 3 months ago
    SF>Portland
    Ehhh Corry, loved your history lesson but hate the SF>Portland drive. A day? Every time I do it it seems like 14 hours of going as fast as possible to get there.
  • PalmerEldritch
    6 years 3 months ago
    if the trees could talk
    I was just thinking that, dang, I haven't yet seen any of the great historic Dead venues. :( Then I remembered one great exception, and surely one of the greatest of them all- Golden Gate Park. Talk about a place positively dripping with Dead history. Everytime I visit it, it's a struggle to think of anything else. Of course the Panhandle, Kezar, and Lindley Meadow, but really anywhere in the whole damn park works for me. Just think of all the Sunshine Daydreaming that's gone on in that park from the Haight/Ashbury heyday until now. Hallowed grounds for sure. For me, any visit there is much more moving than a visit to the current Haight/Ashbury, which ain't so inspiring nowadays.
  • antonjo
    6 years 3 months ago
    time machines, keen senses
    Geez, I feel like I'm disturbing a mini-work of art following Strider's post (which, in addition to its eloquence and living memories, makes a nice square visually).... To embellish Phil's keen sense of GD history, a friend of mine who was at those Phil shows (hanging out with Mountain Girl, to boot) saw the band's paper set list after one the nights.......and Clementine was on it! They ended up not performing it, alas, but it was in Phil's mind..... Sadly, I didn't hear those shows were happening till a month after they sold out. But I did catch Billy there a year later for the fabulous BK3's set in Feb '09....a few hours after McCoy Tyner at the Arlene Schnitzer Hall ~ formerly the Paramount Theater ~ that same day. In my era, both the Crystal and the Schnitzer/Paramount are sonically hit 'n miss, to be honest. The latter generally has better acoustics for classical & jazz shows than rock (though Elvis & the Imposters sure made it smile a few months ago). Not that I wouldn't have LOVED to have caught the good ol' GD there in '72, you understand.... (And you do have to love that bouncy floor at the Crystal...!) Heralding from Baltimore originally, I'm shamefaced to confess I've never been inside the Poe house (nor the Booth house in my native Harford County...reportedly haunted birthplace of Edwin & J.W.). But I've looked at them. Same with Anne Frank's and Dante's houses.....oh, the ghosts, at least of the imagination..... If I had a "home" venue for the Dead, it would have to be Hampton Coliseum. Not bursting with architectural character like these old theaters ~ but what moments, and what memories.
  • Strider 88
    6 years 3 months ago
    The Time Machine
    This is a great subject. Thinking of "all the years combined", I also fondly remember the Paramount Theater in Portland, Oregon (40 years ago last night), Red Rocks, Telluride, Yale Bowl, the original Compton Terrace in Tempe, Az.,and without a doubt the Fillmore East,and Winterland. When I was visiting with friends during the October 74 run we would cruise by the old Mars Hotel. Jack Kerouac stayed there sometimes. In the Grateful Dead movie it shows the wrecking ball knocking down the Mars. Kinda flashed on the old movie "The Time Machine" based on H.G.Wells novel of the same name. From the "Morlocks" to the Warlocks. And the music of the Grateful Dead indeed transcends time and space.