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13. LIVE MUSIC. The Cheap Seats Part 2: Dead and Co., Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL; How I became a Dead Head, After Jerry (A.J.).

  1. June 3, 2022 Knotfest – Slipknot and Cypress Hill, Grand Rapids, MI, Van Andel Arena

2. *June 25th, 2022 – Dead and Company, Chicago, IL, Wrigley Field

3.July 15, 2022 – Norah Jones, Chicago, IL , Huntington Bank Pavilion

4.July 18th, 2022 – David Gray, Chicago, IL, Huntington Bank Pavilion

5. July 23, 2022 – Christ Stapleton, Chicago, IL, Chicago, IL, Wrigley Field

This concert in Chicago was the first time I’d seen the Grateful Dead. Being a music fan growing up in the Bronx, there were ups and downs. The ‘up’ being the Apollo theatre, and Bronx being the birthplace of Hip-Hop. The ‘down’ being I was not exposed at all to the all-American as the Grateful Dead. Most of my friends partial to either Punk, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, or Soul, the Grateful Dead just weren’t considered very cool. growing up. Barring Grateful Dead radio hit Touch of Grey, one could even make an argument listening to them while living in the Bronx was banned, or they had been ‘cancelled’ in the parlance of our time. Cancelled for representing privilege or softness, and there was nothing worse than being a softee in the Bronx.

My first concert ever was actually Al Greene at the Apollo in Harlem. Little did I know then how much soul music was a part of me until years later when I began going to shows like Motorhead, Anthrax, and Judas priest. I enjoyed myself there, but each listened to heavy metal or pop, there was always a part of me that believed it lacked something. Unless it was Prince or a similar act I hear on a radio station like W.B.L.S. radio, other music lacked a kind of authenticity to me. A fact of life was that 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, the birth place of Hip Hop was a few miles down the road with Sedgwick Avenue being the next street over from where I lived. At my Junior High School near Sedgwick Avenue, the kids talked about W.B.L.S. radio rap music every day at school. The Notorious B.I.G. and Wu Tang were a decade away, but we had acts like Run D.M.C. and Boogie Down Productions (K.R.S. One and D.J. Scott LaRock), as well as D.J. Red Alert who was a Hip-Hop innovator. Red Alert was rumored to live in the Tracey Towers development visible from all points in the north Bronx. By the way Boogie Down is an old nickname for the Bronx.

Enter college life and my assortment of college girlfriends, platonic and not, all of whom were born and raised in the suburbs. The first University I attended was the State University of New York at Albany, Dutch Quadrant. There, I met a beautiful, fair Irish blonde named N____ . She kindly lent me a copy of her Skeletons from the Closet. In all fairness, this was a pretty great introduction despite what erudite Dead fans might say. In N______dorm, we drank beer, discussed campus life, and listened to The Dead over and over (there was no satellite or internet radio then). For a delinquent from the Bronx it was a big deal to be familiar with a bands’ repertoire, and this album made it easier.

Each song on Skeletons was different enough for a newbie to get a feel for their many different styles, and the many different singers as well. There was the late Jerry Garcia (the de facto leader) , Bob Weir, and the late Ron ‘Pigpen’ McKernon. Soon my own campus band stopped playing Police songs and started jamming Friend of the Devil, talking about how we would all see the Dead next time they toured, if we, if I, could afford it.

It wasn’t all beer, women, and song. My freshman year suitemate K___ dropped out after attending a Dead show. The year before his room mate, son of a Band member passed away during the academic year in the dormitories. K___ was depressed over it and felt guilty, because they were just trying to have a good time. The situation fazed me I will admit, and soon I left that college and N____ behind. Maybe she why my first Grateful Dead memories took such a firm hold. She was my Sugar Magnolia. I won’t go into more detail, you’ll just have to listen the songs lyrics if you have not.

Next stop, Vassar College. My two platonic female next door neighbors friends had a lot of good things to share about the band, and the shows. There was also my little friend E_ the Dead Head who had stories about the shows as well. Yet as at Albany I was broke and could not afford to see them.

One night however, in the dim lighting of a new female friend named S____ dorm room (now a co-worker of mine today at a different work location) played me Terrapin Station while we drank beer, and you know, ‘discussed campus life’. That particular song and its meandering harmonies hooked me more than Skeletons in tue Closet, and I saw why Skeletons was just an intro. A big Dead Head herself, S____ told me she followed them and sold boot legged t-shirts at their shows. Her and I were not meant to be, yet from that point on I was a Dead fan and knew I absolutely had to see them.

From then on I was on a quest to save money, hit some live shows, and declare myself the real-deal. I had wandered far from my Hip-Hop roots, and at this point, as strong as I believed my roots to be then, it was time for a change. I would graduate college and follow them around as well.

When I was done with college and technically able to buy concert tickets (if I could find a job) Jerry Garcia passed away tragically. I remember reading the Rolling Stone magazine commemorative one summer and thinking how the music world had lost a great, and like the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and The Who with Keith Moon, it was a missed rock concert opportunity.

A fellow doctor I met I. Medical school who had followed them did me a favor. jammed with him, taught him some guitar licks, and he lent me some Dicks Picks CD’s, the legendary Dead boot leg recordings. One happened to have Terrapin Station on it, and that recording, reminding me of my college days, has been a treat to hear over the years. Strange guitar lines weave over poetic lyrics about who would win the hand of a beautiful lady, the warrior or the poet. I thought of my life when I listened to it and the song penetrated my imagination. Years later another roommate had What a Long Strange Trip CD with its electrifying Jack Straw live version from L’ Olympia, Paris; and that was another hook I couldn’t shake off. Unfortunately, today a copy of Terrapin Live runs about $16 on iTUNES (as it can only be bought with the album), so I still need my CD player or Windows Media player to hear it.

I never got to see the Grateful Dead 1.0 but wrong I was to think the Grateful Dead were done for, and not worth seeing years ago as Dead and Co. sans Jerry, as guitar legend John Mayer was able to breath some new life into them, A.J.

Before the show started Spice Girl Mel B. and I discussed what songs they might play. She thought Tennessee Jed might happen, I disagreed. Secretly I longed for West L.A. Fade Away though I knew it was not as popular. Most Dead fans have an obscure favorite song they will share with you if you ask nicely. In the end, the band played Mel B.’s pick, but did not play mine. Does that make her a better Dead Head?

The did play a great rendition of The Wheel, which I knew from Jerry Garcia’s famous solo album. In fact, the band seemed to jam in the Jerry Garcia Band style throughout; that is slowly and with a lot of soul. That is until 3/4 of the way through the show when Mayer shredded Slipknot/Franklin’s Tower, a tribute to Jerry Garcia’s genius. I was hip on things by then, as it had been years of listening and preparation for this momentous occasion. By the time Mayer sang ‘if you plant ice you’re gonna harvest the wind’, I was ready to sing along, an official Dead Head now.

After a COVID cancellation in 2020, I finally got to Dead and Company. This is thirty years after I heard Terrapin Station in a dark, smoke filled dorm room. I am grateful and happy they made personnel changes and soldiered on. Thank you Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh (though you are not on tour now), and Bob Weir. Roll away the dew.

The true names of individuals in the blog have been altered in order to protect their identities.

The Editorial Staff at Mitten Maid

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