Monday, June 06, 2005

Deer Creek '91

I had a '78 Toyota Corolla, a little cash(from a crooked job I had earlier that year), and tickets for all but 3 shows on the Grateful Dead's(mostly) mid-west and east coast 1991 Summer Tour. I was set. Then I made the bad decision of bringing along a guy I knew in high school who was the middle man to my pot connection. His name was Ron, but he insisted on being called "Cloud". Geez, I can't believe I didn't see trouble coming with him. I also should have known he was trouble when he bailed on his new born baby and wife to go on tour with me. What a fucking flake. He promised all these connections he had on tour and all the money he would make us along the way. All bullshit, but I wouldn't find that out for several more days.
So, off we went with plans of meeting my touring buddies at a campsite in Noblesville, IN the site of the first shows(not counting the LA show on 6/1). We traveled through Oklahoma where we crashed the first night by a river and ate some canned food I had brought along(he hadn't brought anything but a little change purse!).
Making it to Noblesville, we set up camp in the pre-arranged meeting site with no sight of my friends. We headed off to the first show at Deer Creek with much anticipation in the air, despite my growing suspicions of my traveling companion. While he loitered the parking lot, I found a gentleman who was offering some psychedelic enhancement for the evening with the caveat, "careful these are double dipped". I should have listened to him. I consumed all I bought and headed in to my pavilion seats. The energy in the place was electrifying and I steadily got higher and higher. As the band took the stage the place erupted with excitement and they used it to fuel their first set. Top to bottom, this set was probably the finest example of Grateful Dead music being pushed to the limit with each new song. A smoking Jack Straw stated things off and quickly oozed in to a magical They Love Each Other. The boys had really come to play and it was reflected in their mood and the crowds fevered pitch. Wang Dan Doodle had Jerry flexing his muscles with some midi saxophone, while Row Jimmy displayed his technique on midi flute. The chugga-chugga end was pure delight. A slight stumble at the beginning of Black Throated Wind did not deter from its strength at all. Bobby's neck veins were poppin'! Now this is where things got weird(for me). I had become very high much too fast. When Jerry blazed a trail in to Railroad Blues and its verse "My mama told me, my papa told me too", I realized it had been several days since I had called home to check in and let everyone at home know I was alright(I wasn't). Leaving the pavilion, I looked around the venue for a phone to call home. Finding one that was occupied by some hippie chick, I rudely persuaded her my need was much more important that hers and got her off the phone as quickly as I could. Of course at this point, I was much too high to even figure out how a phone worked and tried in vain to operate it. I then decided I was leaving. I had seen enough and need to be someplace else(Texas, I guess). The ticket takers told me if I left the venue there was no re-admittance. I brushed 'em off and proclaimed, "I had a GREAT time!". Uuughhh.
Back in the parking lot, I found a surprised Cloud who asked what I was doing outside the show. I don't know what I told him, but I suddenly became aware that he was Satan and meant me no good. I floundered around for a while, peeing my pants in front of strangers, and finally(in Clouds absence) tried to pull my car out of the parking lot to the warnings of several people. Cloud showed up just in time to keep me from smashing myself and many wandering Deadheads in to bits. In my freaked out state, I told him he could have all the rest of my summer tour tickets 'cause I was getting the fuck out of this place. He calmed me down somehow and placed me in the passenger seat of the car where I came in and out of consciousness for the remainder of the evening. Finally realizing my folly as I heard the band playing Box Of Rain(their encore). Uuugghh
The next morning, Cloud kept baiting me with his "I thought you were a pro at this", not making me feel any better about the situation and driving home the idea in my head that, while not Satan, this guy was no good as a traveling companion and I needed to ditch him ASAP. The one bright point of the day was that evenings show. I had even better seats that night and the band was again firing on all cylinders. It seemed to take them a bit longer to get things going, but once they did, there was no looking back. The opening Half Step had some tasty Jerry licks followed by some amazing slide work by Bobby on Stagger Lee. Other first set highlights included a raging Loser, Me & My Uncle>Maggie's Farm(even Bruce got a verse), Music Never Stopped>Don't Ease Me In. The second set fell right in to Scarlet>Fire without the usual pre-set tuning. The guitar licks by Bobby in the transition between the two will make the hairs on the back of you neck stand straight! The Truckin'>New Speedway Boogie also had some excellent transitional work,but by Garcia this time. New Speedway had just been revived and it was one of the only time I can recall Jerry getting all the words right. A real rarity. The post drums>space highlight was a staggering Standing On The Moon, that had Garcia taking it slow and easy with a rousing ending. The Weight wrapped up this weekend with each band member taking a verse(Bruce, too!).
The work between Garcia and Hornsby was quite simply the stuff dreams are made of, and this run of shows was the pinnacle of their onstage relationship. I would never see them again spark the magic that they created at these shows. It's unfortunate(for me) that the 3 shows on this tour I didn't have tickets for(RFK and 2 at Giants) would reach similar heights. I only know this because of the bootlegs that surfaced later. However, I am grateful that all 3 shows were filmed. RFK(6/14) was released as an early View From The Vault and a portion of Giants Stadium(6/16-6/17) was shown on ABC "In Concert" later that fall as part of the Deadicated album promotion. I've recently acquired outtakes from that show with a few more of their songs from that run. The Eyes Of The World from 6/17 clocks in at nearly 20 minutes and is a highlight of the Dead's 90's performances. Never had such a good time....


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