Grateful Dead

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dogwagen's picture
Joined: Jan 25 2010
The Legend and the apprentice carpenter

In the early 80's I was with my girlfriend (now wife ) and on friday nights when everybody was off to SF to go see the name bands we would ride the Harley to Uncle Charlies for jam night, on this particular night Django Grisman was there playing and his dad showed up, not too much longer Jerry showed up and they along with some local musicians started to cover different genre's and were just having one helluva good time . During the evening Jerry would make his rounds and talk to people in the audience, we were so fortunate to be part of that and wound up talking with him for at least 45 minutes he made it seem like we were old friends just talking about anything and nothing in particular.
Forward to about 8-9 months later I was working as an apprentice carpenter and as was the norm I never knew where we were going when we loaded into the truck. We drove into Novato and go up this road thru the fog and before I know it we are on top of a knoll above the fog and the view was spectacular almost surreal, while I was taking in the view a man comes walking up beside me and says this was the reason he bought the place, I turned to look at him to respond and it was an OMG moment I stammered out "it's you " to which he replied " hey I remember you, you were at Uncle Charlies" we talked for quite awhile which didn't bother my employer as they were Deadheads too. Just so incredible that someone who has performed in front of thousands upon thousands of people could remember me from just one meeting, just one of those experiences that I will always cherish. To this day still my best experience as a carpenter.

TigerLilly's picture
Joined: Jul 2 2007

story Oroboros! Thank you for sharing that!
By trying we can easily learn to endure adversity -- another man's I mean.
Mark Twain

Joined: Jun 9 2007

What a fantastic story

And the road goes on forever....

lamagonzo (not verified)
oroboros --

you're right, more than any of us possibly know. great story

Joined: Jun 4 2007
Starsleeper, the boys did shake hands! (transplanted from

earlier in this thread)

Let me tell you my story about an 'encounter', but first grab a cup of coffe (or your preferred beverage) and get comfy, because this will take a little while. Brevity is not my forte', so bear with me on this. The background/ back story is information that will help this all make sense.
Back in 1977, my girlfriend (now wife), myself, and two buddies decided to roadtrip from Nebraska to the old Winterland for the New Year's Eve shows in SanFran. I toted along with us a clay scupture that I had made the prior year. It was a one and 1/2 foot (in circumference) dragon that was biting/consuming it's own tail. I had 'scraffitto' (carved designs) into the entire beast's 'hide' and then it was fired and stained. It was the biggest piece of clay sculpture that I have ever made. And I thought it would be fun to give it to the band on New Years.
So away we go, get to the venue and secured tickets for the run (12/27-29-30-31-77). The shows were unbefuckinliveable (see DP # 10) and Winterland was a great hall (but I'll save that for another time and thread). But on the 31st, we were sitting on the sidewalk waiting for the doors to open, talking and watching the circus, ready to hurry and get in for the 'activities' ie. freak volleyball and Bill Graham was going to show us movies (Ray Bradbury's Illustrated Man and the original Beatles Magical Mystery tour) before that evening's show.
I thought "I better try to unload the dragon aka 'oroboros' now, it's heavy and I don't want to try to talk my way though the front gate with it." I spied a door that said 'Backstage' and began knocking on the door. No answer. The line of people on the side walk started getting up and moving toward the enterance. Banged even harder thinking "I've got to get this dragon in there so I can go in the front and join in before the show", and as I pounded harder, the door yanks open so hard that it yanks me into the doorway. This doorway is immediately filled with a gigantic black man in a red event t-shirt, who puts his hand on my chest and leans forward and bellows "WHAT DO YOU WANT?" Startled, I held out the dragon with both hands and stuttered "to give this to the band". The giant took it in his immense hand and his face curls into a grin as he held it closer to inspect it and I watched my dragon shrink to the size of a key chain. He exclaimed "Wow, what is this, I'd like one" and I explained "it's an oroboros and that is the only one there is." He grinned and said "Cool, who do you want me to give it to?" and I said "to Garcia, give it to Jerry Garcia." The giant disapeared as quickly as he appeared and the door slammed shut like the the first time Dorothy tried to get into the Emerald City in the Wizard of Oz.
So, I happily gain entrance to the show and needless to say, it was something, volleyball followed by the movies, the colorful/wonderful crowd, 'rainbow' Rose with an eyedropper of liquid party favor "just one dollar per drop. On your tongue or for the adventurous, a drop in your eye" (I could go on and on, but gotta stick to the background story). Oh and when each person walked through the entrance the staff handed us a piece of paper that had a message about a "surprise at midnight".
The New Riders of the Purple Sage started the show and rocked the house. Anticipation was high and the Dead came out for the first set. Awesome, and then I noticed when the house lights went down, and the stage lights went dark inbetween songs, I saw it. On top of a monitor, inbetween Billy and Mickey, there was a flame, it was a white candle sitting in front of a dragon consuming it's tail. It was oroboros, ON STAGE WITH THE DEAD! I watched as Jerry walked over and lit a cig off the candle. They took a break and the surprise for the second half was Uncle BoBo (as Bobby liked to call Graham) dressed up as Uncle Sam on a motorcycle sliding down on a cable suspended high from the back of the hall to the stage. They put spotlights on him as he approached the stage and it ws hilarious as he came to the stage, the weight of the bike and BoBo was too much and the stage hands had to drag him onstage and then the explosion of Sugar Mag, complete with dropping ballons and baby New Years (male and female). I was 'sittin' on top of the world (Dead reference intended). What a night!!
We walked out into the cool San Francisco early morning and drove through the fog (!) back to Nebraska. This is not the end of the tale. Fast forward to another road trip to Madison, Wisc. on 2-3-78. The Dead were on a roll (see DP # 18) and it was a killer show. The next morning before I left the hotel, I got a wild hair and called the front desk and asked "Could I have Jerry Garcia's room please?" and the phone rang and Jerry answered! I said "Hey, I'm the guy that brought the dragon to the New Year's show" and Garcia said "Meet you in the coffee shop in 20 minutes". I couldn't believe what was happening but stumbled into the coffee shop at the appointed time and looked around and saw Jerry Garcia seated at a table with a ravishingly beautiful raven-haired gypsy woman.
I walked over and introduced myself, and 'shook the hand, that shook the hand, of PT Barnum and Charlie Chan'. Jerry beamed that smile and gestured and said "sit down, man". He asked me "How did you fire that dragon so that it didn't expode in the kiln?" and I explained how I had cut it in half and hollowed it and joined it back together. I told him how I had used a guitar string to 'halve it" and we locked eyes at that moment and he burst into laughter and I said "Ironic, huh?" and Jerry quiped "No, man that makes perfect sense." And then we laughed some more. Then the gypsy/beauty said "where are you from?" and I replied Nebraska. And she shot Garcia a glance and stated "he came all the way up here from Nebraska to see the band!" To which Jerry shrugged his shoulders and retorted "we didn't ask him to come" and looked at me and we both howled with laughter again. No deadhead was she.
We talked more about art and the dragon and I didn't know at that time of Garcia's interest and practice in art (this kind anyway). He was completely engaged in the topic of art, but quick witted with 'turn on a dime' twists, turns, and little commentaries on a variety of topics. Jerry was also focused on listening, not acting like he was the important one, giving me time and locked in on our discussion and talking about our shared intersets. The gypsy woman frowned in disbelief as she asked me "You went out to San Francisco for New Years and then came to Wisconson" and I said yes and then I turned to Garcia and asked him "Why don't you come back to Lincoln, Nebraska?" He said "You mean to Perishing Auditorium?" and I corrected him "No, it is Pershing Auditorium, after the army general" and he quickly retorted "No man, it was perishing really!" And we burst out laughing again. At that Lincoln, Ne. Dead show on 2-26-73, there were a bunch of drunk frat boys yelling 'boogie, boogie" at the top of their lungs, but that show is topnotch! ( a DP, really great show) Anyway, I asked Garcia "could you bring the Dead back to Nebraska" and Jerry grinned that chesire cat grin and said "who knows?"
I took my leave (their breakfast arrived) and drove home. Then that summer the Dead came back to Omaha, Ne. on 7-5-78, and I taped them with my NAK 550 in FOB, and followed them to their/my first Red Rocks shows. So that is my story, Jerry Garcia was totally gracious, engaging, enthusiastic, and kind to a deadhead who approached him at one moment in time.

starsleeper- there are MANY instances of this. Just gotta poke around.

The Truth is realized in an instant, the act is practiced step by step.

Joined: Mar 12 2008
I just wish...

they could've taken a minute or two after a show once in a while to shake some hands of regular fans, look 'em in the eye, and say thanks for coming to the show. It would have made me think they cool to give back a little to the fans that have allowed them to live a life of luxury. Oh well. God bless 'em anyways.

They say love your brother
But you'll catch it when you try

marye's picture
Joined: May 26 2007

this topic is for posting about encountering band members in strange places, not posting videos. I've unpublished the videos; please feel free to repost them in one of the appropriate topics, e.g. Other Bands or Spinnin' Spinnin' Free. Thank you.

Joined: Jun 5 2007

You stated u r from Toms River, NJ...I also grw up in Toms River, graduated Toms River North
in 1981, now live in SF bay area...Toms River very small town, well was when I left for CA in 1981, wondering if i know u, my name is Bob Mack, if u do know me email whata trip

lamagonzo (not verified)
I Gotta git down...

I Gotta git down,
Gotta git down
To the Cumberland Mine
(That's where I mainly spend my time)

Joined: Mar 12 2008
i love you

Well, it's taken me a while, but after that last post I felt a cleansing freedom come over me. Thank you Deadnet. All the buried anger I've had on a lot of different subjects has been released through these topics.

I can't help you with your troubles, if you won't help with mine


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The Strangest of Places?