What Got You on the Bus?
An excellent suggestion from Hal R., picking up on a thread in another topic: how did you get on the bus? What was that moment that left no room for doubt?
Probably no two stories are the same, but they're all probably pretty interesting, so tell all here!
In the winter of 1978, at 18, I saw Cheech and Chong at the local Music Hall and that summer I went to the Willy Nelson picnic at the local Triple A and Collage World Series Ball Park in my home town. Those 2 events changed my life. I went to the picnic with some friends to see a rock band, I don't remember that band but I saw the Dead for the 1st time and was really interested and excited.
I got a couple of boot legs from some friends and in 1981 I got a cassette copy of Dead Set and played it until it broke...fuck I love that album.....starting out with Samson and Delilah....Fuck!!....well any way I started going to shows and 100 plus later here I am.
I'm going to a couple of shows this tour 1 with my wife and 1 with my 25 and 23 year old sons.....should be fun. I can't wait to charge my batteries. I missed the last go around thinking that I could catch the next leg who knew that would be 5 years later.
I miss Jerry, I think of him every day. I think of the band every day, I miss every one of these guys, and I'm looking forward to connecting, I don't care what they play as long as they do.
In this part of my life, since 1996, I live backstage, I'm a stagehand; I do hundreds of shows a year. I don't get excited about most shows, I’m pretty jaded and it is a job, I have stuff to do during the performance. I have been around some bands I never thought I would be around, in 2007 we did Paul McCartney, Simon and Garfunkel, John Prine, Bob Dylan, and John Forgery I called it “67 or 07” . I have seen legends, the up and coming, the on-the-way-down, and the “on the come back”. Shit I’ve done so many Kiss reunion and “final tour” shows I’ve lost count. I did Cher’s final tour 3 times… 3 shows 2 different buildings at least 6 months apart! Since November I have done: The Eagles, Metallica, New Kids on the Block, Nine Inch Nails, AC/DC, Motley Crue, plus many Broadway shows (just moved out Grease last night), corporate shows, trade shows, small concerts, comedy shows, sporting events and competitions. Right after the 1st of the year I received the news that Cheech and Chong were going to be at the Music Hall, which I’m now the house lighting tech. I was told that I would be doing the lighting for the show, I was totally excited. A couple of weeks later the Dead tour was announced! I knew then that this is going to be a grate year! I did the Cheech and Chong show, it was almost the same show as in '78, which was funny and great to see (my dog ate my stash, I had to follow him around for a week), I had a blast doing some light tricks (simulate cop lights, stuff like that).
The week In May that I’m going to see the dead shows goes like this: May 4th Travel to and see The Dead in Chicago, travel home on the 5th, then I’m the Steward for James Taylor on the 6th at the Music Hall, then at the arena, Fleetwood Mac on the 7th, Kenny Chesney on the 8th, I fly to California with my sons (who are also stagehands) on the 9th see the Dead on the 10th , fly home on the 11th and be the Steward for Elton John and Billy Joel on the 12th . I can't wait for the 4th and the 10th, the rest sounds like work. If the Dead come back here (the Picnic was the last time they did) I'll be torn, I'll have to work but I might actually watch the show. Really I hope that they do an amphitheater tour not this summer but maybe next. Nothing and I mean nothing compares to a Grateful Dead Show, not even close.
and how cool is it when you do turn someone onto it and they are totally as entranced and consumed by it as you are? It also makes it all worthwhile...I tend to target my efforts twds younger(than I) kids who like heavy metal and are into the whole gothic trip..I've got a few lil prodigies under my belt ;)
I've seen some totally 180 turnarounds with some of these kids...their well-being, their lifestyle, their social interactions...it's super rewarding....makes me smile :)
"In a bed, in a bed, by the waterside I will lay my head.
Listen to the river sing sweet songs, to rock my soul."
I especially agree about how frustrating the hit-or-miss quality of who gets it and who doesn't can get. But the WHERE HAS THIS BEEN ALL MY LIFE? moments do kinda make it all worthwhile.
First it should be known I was born in 1983 and never got to see Jerry or The Grateful Dead live...I'm a modern day Deadhead- I drive a new minivan vs a VW bus and maintain a full time job/career but still catch shows as much as possible....I always thought "The Grateful Dead" was some sort of gothic, dark music and it just never piqued my interest.
Ahhhh...ignorance-not always blissful...I grooved "The Doors" and mainstream classic rock primarily because my Dad did and went on listening to a variety of music (country, rap, rock, modern radio hits) until I believe 2004...I had experimented with psychedelics in CA after high school a handful of times but none of my trips involved music, usually just exploring, walking around, watching pixar movies (another story) all that good stuff-still good times of course...3 or 4 years later-after moving to AR-I heard about a music festival in Salem, MO called "Schwagstock" (held and founded by a GD Tribute band called "The Schwag") that presented an opportunity to revisit my post-high school "experiments"...so I went...I went to a couple of these festivals without even experiencing the music...just kinda showed up, got what I was seeking (usually staying in the tent watching it breathe) -still thinking the music was dark and gothic I went home and enjoyed the party favors there...NYE of 2005 I was waiting to meet a "friend" who said he'd be there after the show to take care of my "needs"...the show ran long and I found myself waiting for The Schwag to end the show so I could get what I wanted...already in a psychedelic state of mind I finally heard the Dead's tunes...it was the very end of the set when I showed up... I remember them playing "NFA", "casey jones", and I believe "one more saturday night" to close the set...I was quite shocked...these tunes were anything but "dark and gothic"!..quite to the contrary...I had a revelation then and there...I went online when I got home and ordered a DVD-"Truckin' up to Buffalo"...dosed myself...and put it in....the rest is history...WOW...Jerry's soul on Ship of Fools and Morning Dew brought tears to my eyes...the jams on Playin and Terrapin, the variety of sounds: blues (walkin blues), country, jazz, raw pschedelia (space), love songs (LLR) it was all there...it embodied everything i had always liked in music but it was all in one amazing band!!!...I watched it twice throughout that trip alone and was mesmerized both times...seeing Jerry and Brent playing back and forth during NFA had me smiling...goosebumps...the keys on Man Smart, Woman Smarter...ahhhhhh....I was thoroughly "ON THE BUS" after that....4-5 years have passed and I've got every Dick's Pick, every studio album/live release, every DVD, I'm a self-proclaimed "vine slut", and my now GF and I work at the Schwagstock festivals hosting a wine tasting-it's a blast (imagine a hippie wine tasting)...Dead tunes just don't get old to me-it's the improvisation, the love, the community, its a package...they've opened my mind up to soooo many other bands/sounds I would have otherwise never listened to (String Cheese Incident, Keller Williams, Widespread Panic, Yonder Mtn., New Monsoon, I could go on for pages)...I am forever GRATEFUL...I feel I would have seen the light at some point (all good things in all good time) but definitely have to give credit to "The Schwag" for officially turning me on. My only problem is that I can't understand how some folks don't FEEL this music-it borders on frustration but ultimately acceptance...I've attempted, successfully and unsuccessfully to turn others on and it's literally hit or miss-the "hits" make it all worthwhile though....The GD have changed my life...for the rest of my life...I never truly heard music...I merely listened to it...The GD cost me a relationship (thankfully)-and helped me to find my current love and soulmate-we also met through "The Schwag" indirectly and my current GF truly *feels* the music like I do, whereas with my EX every song was "that same ol' shit on again"...she just couldn't appreciate the improvisation or instrumental jams the way I do-every Playin' was the same ol' song...anyway, good riddance!
I WILL listen to the GOGD for the rest of my life, it's just a shame it took so long for me to allow it into my life...I totally see my current GF and I 80 years old in our recliners and walkers smiling back and forth jaws ajar when Jerry catches a hot groove or laughing when Brent or Bob drop a F-bomb-it cracks me up ;) ...The Grateful Dead and the whole community has made me a better person, added a soundtrack to my life, and introduced me to the love of my life...I am certainly GRATEFUL for The Schwag and other GD tribute bands for keeping the vibe alive and for exposing younger people to the LOVE The Grateful Dead bring to your lives and ears. This music transcends time, age, sex, color, and creed and will continue to do so forever...there will always be torchbearers...it will never die...Jerry will always be with us.
"not dead...just grateful" :)
THANK YOU GRATEFUL DEAD!!!!! and THANK YOU DEAD TRIBUTES!!!!
"In a bed, in a bed, by the waterside I will lay my head.
Listen to the river sing sweet songs, to rock my soul."
the old days of vinyl and killer flu in college...
I posted this a little while back when an archive post for the Europe 72 album popped up. I realized later that it was the best description I could think of that explained how all this happened for me. There's more, of course, but this definitely was the start...
Freshman year in college, my buddies were off on a trip for the weekend. I'd come down with some killer flu-ish thing and had to opt out of the trip.
I had been starting to get into the Dead at the time, Live/Dead and Skull and Roses were the two albums I had and the only two I'd ever heard. I liked them, but I was a long way from considering myself a Dead freak (old-school terminology) or even thinking of the Dead as one of my favorite bands.
One of my departing friends dropped off his newly-acquired Europe '72 for me to convalesce with. This was a godsend, as it was a 3-album set, so I could stack it on the record changer and listen for a long time without having to move. I threw it on the record machine, plugged in my headphones, and collapsed into bed.
Aside from bathroom trips and an ill-advised venture to the commons for food, I pretty much holed up in my room from Fri night to Sun morning, wracked with fever dreams and flipping the stack over whenever I could work up the energy.
Somewhere along the 3rd or 4th listen to Jack Straw, everything became clear...you know, it clicked, I got it and everything else on the record and every other thing I'd heard from the GOGD.
I was definitely in an altered state of mind from the fever (oddly, I thought at the time, not unlike tripping), but the musical infusion triggered an epiphany that weekend. A tranformative time for sure....I probably haven't been quite right since -- but I sure wasn't wrong.
I get amused when I read the compilation-vs-full show debates that rage with every RT release right now. Compilations were all I had to go by back then, and without this one...well, I sure as hell wouldn't typing away this long boring reverie about my favorite Grateful Dead recording...Europe '72.
The bus came by & I got on... Where is really began for me was my sister (I call her Toots). Why, because we would go to these huge outdoor shows & we needs a way to find each other. I would yell TOOTS in the crowd. Since no one else would respond or look over it worked for years.
Anyway it was in my room, She brought in a album what is now known as the Skull & Roses album. We listened to it a bit & put it away. I was more into Yes & Pink Floyd at the time. Then in '74 I stumbled across it again but this time I really got into it.
Then i started to get into Working Mans Dead, American Beauty & Mars Hotel. This is all before my 1st show a Roosevelt Stadium.
I was getting into it pretty much by now. Then Englishtown rolled on in. We road tripped their bought a little gas grill which I kept till a few years ago. NOw that was the icing in the cake. 155,000 people at that show!!! I waited all day & night for that Terrapin Encore!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
"No matter where you go, there you are..." Buckaroo Bonzai
It was quite the day.
"Circle songs and sands of time, and seasons will end in tumbled rhyme,
and little change, the wind and rain."
thanks for telling 'em!
My first shows age 19. 6 of us pile into my toyota pick up and drive from Colorado straight to the Shoreline parking lot. To see Estimated Prophet in California on various hallucinagens with my friends whom we shared a trying drive to CA and back was just unreal. then we meet some very cool Heads from the area who led us up this hill .... sorta by the beach ... somewhere ... sorry very foggy .. memory terrible ... :-) to where a lot of people camp out and we hung out there for 3 days. That whole experience was when I knew I was on the bus and in the family. It was more than just going to a concert. I was a part of a whole environment. Great memories!
"And I'll call down thunder and speak the same. My word fills the sky with flame. Might and glory gonna be my name and they gonna light my way."