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Poster: BryanE Date: Jan 5, 2007 3:26am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: This may have been done before

I've told aspects of this story, but it's one of my favorites of all of them in the attics of my life, so . . .

Getting ready to turn 15. Hungry to experience marquee worthy live rock-n-roll. Bill Graham had been running the Day on the Green series at Oakland Coliseum. Big lineups with the biggest names of the day, like The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Peter Frampton, The Doobie Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, pretty much the core of what has since been lumped into the whole genre of mainstream classic rock.

Graham had thought about what he would coordinate if he had the chance to put a show together with whom he considered to be the very best live acts in rock. And that was how the two Days on the Green on Saturday October 9th and Sunday October 10th, 1976, with The Who and The Grateful Dead came about. Mom asked me what I wanted for my birthday present, and I told her I wanted tickets to one of them. She complied.

I knew The Who pretty well. Tommy was one of my favorite albums, and I fantasized about being a pinball wizard myself. However, I was almost completely unaware of what The Grateful Dead were. To a large degree, I had heard of them, and that was about it.

Dad begrudgingly drove me and my friend Dan to Oakland that overcast Sunday morning. Showtime was 11 AM, and the gates were opening at 9:00. I clearly remember how grouchy Dad was, and we were pretty silent during the 20-25 minute drive from Pleasanton. We got to the parking lot where hundreds of hippies were in line, armed with blankets, ready to stake their claims of real estate on the same land that the A's and the Raiders called home. I can barely imagine what he was thinking as he dropped us off, but he left us there against what was surely his better judgment and drove away.

The gates opened, and like a pack of thoroughbreds at Louisville, people charged into the stadium. We took a spot that was right about in the center. As years have gone by, that is actually a regret I have about that day, because it would have really served us better to have sat in the bleachers somewhere so we would have positioned ourselves to actually watch the band at work. Being young and fully uninitiated in the experience of being at a concert, I lacked the stamina to be able to stand for the three hours of a Grateful Dead show and see what they did. Perhaps it was for the best, though, because what I did take in that day was almost exclusively auditory in nature with virtually nothing else to augment what it did to my psyche. That is, nothing else besides the little chemically enhanced sugar cubes we bought from a girl in the stands. Which reminds me: I did have some prior knowledge of The Grateful Dead because of reading The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe about a year previously, therefoe it seemd plainly appropriate to dose, something that was also a new experience for me.

Beyond the music, other memories of the Grateful Dead concert that day are murky. You have to remember, too, that after a full Dead show, there was also The Who, and they were still pretty much in their heyday. Keith Moon died before he got old, so to speak, and he was flaying away upstage center, with Townshend doing his trademark scissorleaps in the air, spinning his strumming hand, arm fully extended, while Daltrey alternated between almost ceaseless 360 degree wide diameter marches around the forefront of their setup and lassoing his mike cord when he wasn't singing. Entwistle, of course, was motionless.

But I do have a somewhat faint memory of the enormous pastel colored scrim that outlined the stage. Stage right (the left side of the image that the audience saw) was a foggy San Francisco scene with the fog transforming into clouds over the stage, reaching over to stage left where the clouds morphed back into fog again, only on that side it was London. During the opening band's show there was a phone booth on stage, and that was replaced with one of those red wooden English booths for the closng act's set.

Beyond that, the only other thing that sticks in my mind was a stroll we took through one of the lower concourses while the acid was starting to hit us pretty intensely, where we encountered someone on stilts who was dressed as Uncle Sam with whom I felt strangely compelled to shake hands. I, of course, had never heard U.S. Blues, but looking back years later, it made sense, even though at the time I couldn't say why I had the need to grip his palm.

For a long time after that day, I was of the belief that The Grateful Dead were undoubtedly the most influential band in all of rock-n-roll. I could hear a little bit of what I had heard them doing in what I heard any other band doing. It finally dawned on me, though, that really the opposite was most likely: they had, in fact, incorporated so many different styles into what thay did, that their sound was really a hybrid of whatever they had been able to drink in during all their formative years of listening and playing. What I did know for sure was that the music they played that day just sounded so . . . right. It was just perfect. Loud and crystal clear without a hint of harshness, even during the long intervals when it threatened to embark into territories of sheer madness.

But for the most part, the jams sounded like the music that had already been playing in my own head for years, if that makes any sense. And while I didn't actually know any of their songs, it was as if there was already a familiarity about them to me. Maybe I had actually heard Mama Tried in my childhood. My Dad did listen to country music when I was little, so it's not entirely unlikely that it had played on the radio during one of those jouneys in the car that he used to take us on. But when they played El Paso, that really threw me for a loop because that was a song I actually did know, and it really was a country and western standard. A rock-n-roll band playing El Paso of all songs, one of those wonderful ballads from my childhood, only their version was so much more fully realized, with Garcia's Spanish-tinged leads, and the vocal harmonies so powerful and dramatic, the tale of a cowboy on the lam after committing murder in the name of his true love-this was great musical theatre of the mind and the journey that day was hardly begun. Another vaguely familiar song from the glory days of AM radio came along a while later: "Dancin'---dancin', dancin' in the streets . . . Dancin'---dancin', dancin' in the streets . . . " This was truly amazing. So simple, so primitive, but oh so sweet. And then they embarked on the first really long instrumental exploration of the show. We went down unpredictable pathways with the music taking on a jazz fusion kind of feel that seemed to carry on with perpetual motion. Eventually it slowed to a dirge as the band segued into another song. Years later, when I heard the line "I know she's been, I'm sure she's been true to me," I had that same feeling of familiarity which I had felt through that first show while I really came to know Wharf Rat, and when I finally got a copy of the show a quarter century later I learned that it was, indeed, the song they played out of the Dancin' jam. But out of Wharf Rat, the band picked up the tempo again. Another direction unknown, another sestination unforeseen. They took us along with them, and we followed fearlessly, until . . . "Dancin'---dancin', dancin' in the streets . . . Dancin'---dancin', dancin' in the streets . . . Dancin'---dancin', dancin' in the streets . . . " Vocals faded as Bob said over the music, "We're gonna take a short break."

Although when I received Europe '72 for Christmas that year and "brown-eyed women and red grenadine" sounded like it might have been part of the second set that day, which I eventually learned it was, the one line through the whole show that stuck with me above all else was "If the thunder don't getcha, then the lightnin' will!" I had no idea what it meant, and I was really none too sure of what they actually said, but when they played The Wheel, that really sealed it for me. I became a Dead Head at that point, even though I didn't even know at that point that there was such a thing. Later listening edified me as to the wonders of nature that were Stella Blue and Sugar Magnolia, which also entered my ears for the first time that day. Encore time: they made a final impression on me, as they said on the Last Days of the Fillmore album by showing me "what it's all about," Johnny B. Goode-style.

A hard act to follow, but The Who earned their pay, too. Two concerts for the price of one, essentially. By the time Mom and Dad got over to pick us up at the end of the day, the acid had long since peaked, and we were very much sane enough to handle the ride home with my parents. Even my Dad's continued sour demeanor couldn't possibly kill my afterglow buzz, either. That night, I ran a hot bath, and soaked with this strange, colorful, wonderful, endless music playing continually in the ears of my memory and my forever altered mind.

This post was modified by BryanE on 2007-01-05 11:26:16

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Poster: cosmicharlie Date: Jan 5, 2007 4:38am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: This may have been done before

Hey now, that sunday was my first show also, I lived in Livermore most of my life and worked every summer in P-town at the Alameda Co Fair since 1972 thru 2006 so far. I may know you, I went to that show to see the Who. Went with Keith Golden & his sister. Did you go to Amador High?
Anyway, I was very burnt out from a night of partying and went to the show hung over, don't remember much of the show but remembered marveling over the hippy scene there and wandering around the green. I have that show on CD and I do remember Dancin in the streets and the glut of people dancing off the stage area. I went thru the whole show straight-did'nt realise the medicinal effects of pot on a hangover. The music did mellow me out though. I was @ 28 at the time and worked at the Round Table in Livermore.
Do you remember the Richard Nixon figure on a pole with his arms streached out in a victory/peace sign? It was a taper ruse, there were hidden mics in each of tricky Dicks hands as I found out later. I did have a great time though I've forgotten alot about that day

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Poster: BryanE Date: Jan 5, 2007 7:39am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: This may have been done before

Cosmic Charlie-
Do tell! Ain't that a kick in the head?

I went to Amador freshman and sophomore years and was a sophomore at the time of the show in question. I was in drama club and was part of the marching band, the celebrated Amador Golden Dons. In other words, I was pretty much a total geek. I had a few different carny jobs at the fair and usually got myself hired as part of the clean-up crew after the place shut down at night, an unenviable task, but it would put a few bucks in my pocket to keep me occupied during the summer. I think I remember the Round Table. We went to the movies sometimes in Livermore, saw The Sting over there, but not much else. In fact, a lot of my spare time goofing off was spent hanging with some friends who worked at the movie theatre in P-town at the Safeway strip mall. Late nights after play rehearsal and such were spent eating french fries and drinking cherry-lime rickeys at the Carnation restaurant out by the interstate or drinking coffee at HoJo's. I haven't been in the area for more than 27 years, so I don't know if any of that stuff is even still standing.

I don't recall seeing Nixon or a facsimile thereof at the show. As I said, I really went for The Who, myself, and walked away otherwise converted. But weren't The Who a force to be reckoned with? My goodness, what a band! I surmise from the fact that you're posting here, though, that whatever effect the Dead had on you that day certainly made you want to come back for more. I still think that even though I hadn't a clue as to what was going on that it was one of their best I ever saw, Well, heard, as I also said in my blog. Is/was Keith Golden any relation to Liz and Gina Golden?

This post was modified by BryanE on 2007-01-05 15:39:57

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Poster: cosmicharlie Date: Jan 5, 2007 10:39am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: This may have been done before

I believe the Golden's lived off of Promenade Way/Trenton Circle which was directly north of where Stanley Blvd does a right turn into Pleasanton. Hmmm...Liz....she would have been in her early 20's, I think Keith was a couple years out of high school. Yeah, in 76 I was an all night bldg attendent in the Young California Bldg,

then in 1977 thru 1999-10pm to 10am shift(12hrs!) here >>
I was the guy who watched over an outside area called the (International)Village-it was directly west of the Flowers & Gardens area. I'd let carnies and the clean-up crew mellow out there, it had old terraced Ivy around the perimeter. Lot of vendor stands there.
Was your supervisor named Ken Pinto? (a short-fat jerk)
I remember a tall older carnie named "cowboy"
Well, I don't want to bore others here, but those were cool times!

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Poster: BryanE Date: Jan 7, 2007 2:33pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: This may have been done before

The Liz I knew was about a year older than I and I was in high school at the time, so I don't think we're talking about the same person. I don't remember the names of any of those crew people or carnies or really any of the exhibits, either, but the fair was definitely the place to be way back then. I'm sure it still is.

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Poster: cosmicharlie Date: Jan 7, 2007 3:07pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: This may have been done before

well, if you were on the night clean-up crew anytime from 1977 on, chances are i saw you pushing a broom.
Some called my area the Mexican Village, I got stoned with lot's of you'z then. (i was NOT Security Eye Patrol though)
lot's of cool shows came thru the summer fair, the last being Tea Leaf Green in 2006

This post was modified by cosmicharlie on 2007-01-07 23:07:20

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Poster: BryanE Date: Jan 7, 2007 7:16pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: This may have been done before

'77 was the last summer I worked. If you can remember any Anglo guys in their mid-teens w/one of them possibly even wearing a Skull & Roses shirt sweeping up the trash overnights, then guess who! We'd have to hang around the Cook Shack to pick up our pay, then we'd straggle out of the fairgrounds, sleep through the day, show back up at 11-11:30 the next night and do it again. Sometimes the mescaline was around to keep us going until daylight. What a life. Mexican Village rings a faint bell in the recesses of my memory.