“WAS THERE THEN“ (My First Dead show Saturday night, Feb.3,1963)
By Rama Lam”a Ding-Dong Daddy-o-from Dumas -aka Glenn Allen Howard.
Or: “How in the holy-moly mo-fo heliocentric helicopter from Hell, piloted by a non-native ‘take me to your cheerleader’ Saturnist man named Sun Ra-Ra-Rah!) did the likes of little ol’ me get to see the Wildwood Boys at The Top of the Tangent, 50 mutha-folkin’ years ago today, or the story of the very first in a still-sustaining seriously out-of-this-world series of ‘One More Saturday Nights.’”
|BEFORE: How did I go from this innocent fresh-faced little cowbabyboy:||AFTER: to this far less innocentsual bigger cowpoker-face stealer:||to THIS? Well, first it was because I was always good at taking “tests,” and always got an “A,” especially when it came to the special kind of A-Tests that made you much smarter even if you didn’t graduate.|
My first Grateful Dead show wasn’t even legally a Dead show, but I can almost start to state without fear of contracts or interdiction that after having come of age and almost sage in the altered state of Northern California, and having retained some semblance of reasona-bullshit authority if only onaccounta I’m authoring this wordage / verbage / garbage in the currently presence tents which will be intensely way past past tense by the time you are ready, willing and able to lend an eyeball or two towards this massively, misused excuse for a missive, even if you start now. Still you might agree with my cut of the take on all this, depending on how you as one of the “Gratefully chosen people,” choose to define the Grateful Dead.
As one of the youngest cats coming up in those thrilling days of yesteryear even younger than John Perry Barlow and Bobby Weir and that’s pretty Weird, in front, I wuz unceremoniously plunked down on to what would eventually become the front and centaur stage of some kinda Greek Theater-style comedy / drama, where the Original Cast Production of the 1960s and THE all-time Toniest sentimental Award-winning play (right) was just about to go “cuckoo and curtain up” on some 5-star starring role-models of like the likes of Ken Kesey, the Merry Pranksters, Cowboy Neal Cassady, Mountain (Goddess) Girl, The Acid Tests, The Furthur Bus, The Grateful Dead, S.F. Mime Troop, the Diggers and a hole holistic host of other supporting actors and bit players I’ve come to think of as “The Bay Aryans,” those super-fortu-natural few who were in and around Berkeley, San Francisco, Palo Alto and Sanity Cruz for a ride way better than any bitchin’ Beach and Boardwalk could cough up in exchange for all the change in your pocketses.
From every corner of the Best Coast, a gnu group-grope of post-Post Toasties and reason-bran’ new players were about to take to the very bored boards to stage the firstest and finest pre-finale in all freakin’ freakster hystery, bar none (of the above, when it comes to shove).
Everybody who was anybody, was all about gearing upsey-daisilly towards having some kinda awesome opening night(s) featuring the grand and glorious debu-tantrick magick of One Nation Underground and an endless stream of conscious-nests of Acid Test-takers, passer-buyers and Acid Test Graduates, leaving a well-lit path of light shows and some crazy-ass chem-trails through the best minds of our generation as the jazzbo prophets profit-seized in “Gutenberg” Ginsberg’s combination of a Holy Shit! bible and “Howl to get hip” poetry paperback.
These early cultural arty-facts usedta be available at every Sixth Galleria bookstore within the City Lights’ outer limits or could be-bopped, bought up or down-lifted by some klepto-booster rocket from the Kepler-maniac store/front for subsistance-versive economunist party-animal farmer un-organized-ation or maybe even at one of the more illin’, swillin’ sicko-literate Reading-railroaded dive bars where Bukowski usedta belly up to the bar and barf.
All this wonderful chaos more than theoretically had the attractive effect of releasing all that collective “Shuman the Human” potential that had been going nowhere fast along with all that T.S. Elliott idiot’s Wasteland fulla wimps and wimpier Fuller Brush menage of menial mental cases, safe and even in-saner three-piece warren peace-fooled bizness suit fruit-salesmen, and cold-and-warmer warrior-ola borealis crazies, back inda pre-hysterical 1950s when everyone pretended it was all under control even tho’ they knew deep down and dirty that it really wasn’t even close and the whole dang hadn’t Planned-it-very-well Mother Earth was set to blow her cool, like right before school, any Day-O, Day-O, except that Day-O never came, as we now know.
So as a long-time, in-time (but almost always out of time) old-timer, I see the Dead as a work-in-progress and very much & mucho still in-el-progresso-matic auto-skypilot mode, keepin’ alla that old time rock “˜n’ roll religion alive and kickin’ as well as keepin’ all that good shit-kickin’ shit still kickin’ the Can Can, like Furthur on Down the Road, man! I ain’t gonna be even a little bit Bland about the Dead ever bein’ all over now, Bobby Blue, like anytime sooner or later or even ever, by the power of the Mother Mater NatuReally Grateful Goose Goddess in charge of all that’s gone down and will go down in this sweet and Mother superior sub-culture. Later, for that end- zone rap, Jack Sprat you just keep suckin’ surplus fat through a happy hippie Jackstraw till you either “get it” or break the back of a pack of Camels and I’ll be there every N.Y.E. and more till I’m a goner, fer sure, fer sure, I swear at the feet of this squirrelly-surely shirley Temple of Grateful Deities we call, if you recall, “shows.”
If the Grateful once and future kind-buddies and all-time best and most beatific “˜niksters of whatever the hell it is they’ve been doin’ and will continue to be or not to be doin’ better than anybody else So Far, then I’m like the Monkee’s ankle, if not Achilles uncle and not about to pull up and heel anytime soon. If that ain’t the ?uestion Mark of the Mysteries and Mysterions, then I may just have to go fetch our always in-Dutch kitten, Calico, and not even shed 96 Tears while she punctuates any parkin’ lot hot-rodder balloonitics running on nitrous faster than you can say “Like, I’m the pin-cushion man, man!”
Sure there were other bandroids like the Beagles who started out as the greatest “boy” band of all time a Fab Four of flabulous, semi-seamy, seemingly fatuous Fabian-type ideal teen idle-lista-leaster bunnies, who first came across the Atlant-ticky-tacky Ocean (actually little more than a shallow pond compared with the big-wig of water worlds, the Pacific O.), and who, disguised as four mild-mannered lovable Liverpudlian mop-tops, came on not too much stronger than the dirty square-inch linen swatches atta bucka square, cussedtum-maid for the estro-gen-etically superior double-x chromosome crowd invaded our sure-footed shores in ’64, way before Mc Paul was anywhere close to closing in on 64.
So sooner-roonier than later, Bobby Dill-pickles smoked “˜em out and got them into flippin’ out toward a whole new direction and they started come on to much stronger stuff for a minute or two, before doing the splits and ending with a classic closing number pretty close to a goddam Gotterdamerwrong that even Dick Wagner could write home to his homeboys about and their Val-curious Ho Yo Toes, too, and woulda if the band in question hadn’t not been born yet and he wasn’t already dead as a dour-male doormouse.
Anywhose, they soon self-destructed at “top of the pops” warp-speed, leaving behind the first really big-time, long-lasting list o’ lyrics and timely tunes and maybe baby Buddy even the Hollyest, coolest, cruelist and ca$hiest cache of coffee cans fulla canned music, like ever. Too bad the Fab 4ormer fop tops didn’t get to keep even a millionth of most of the money that ended up lining the pockets of the suits that owned the rights and wrongs since almost all the way back to the get go, who were not at all that needy in the least and won’t be any time soon as long as they are in the racket of stackin’ dem golden silver slugs up on high for whatever cursed currs currently own their well-fed kitty-catalog and currency cranker-outer kit.
It was like maybe the most memorable Memorex studio stuff the studio studs ever sucked the Stud-Dios outa, but it wasn’t “live” and with a few Beeby N.aM.E.d exceptional exceptions, even “live in the studio.” Even if you saw them doing their Quick B. Nimble, jumpin’ jack flush be quicken chicken sticks, flyin’ 30 Seconds over Candlestick from the second row, like my old pal Steve Marcus did, you couldn’t hear them for zippo-hippo shit. “˜Cept for a few way-old English cats I know who caught “˜em in the early bird’s/worm daze before they started stormin’ through the Euro-trashed commoner-market-teer-droppers, I know a few folks who see-sawed them live in-audible person, but they never ever heard “˜em or even got decked in the earlobes by a tenth of deci-decibel. More than a few freaky folks axshully did hear the Grateful Dead and a whole funkin’ lot more than like, twice, man.
I was part and parcel and paid my postage dues at the Palo Alto Post Office from purty early on, setting me up for lifetime subscription to a whole Life magazine’s worth of livin’ in the “bullshittin’ and shootin’ from the hip” lane, which is way TF faster than the fast lane, with way more better and more numerous colors than the ones one you spy on uncertain occasions in your rear view mirror when you find yourself assuming the position of having to bull-shoot your way out with the police farce, all the while attempting a “straight” face and hoping the con-tense of your pockets don’t “˜fess up at first frisk, which has always been a troubling tribal risk, hisk-torically, for our crowd.
For no good reason at all (in C, just ask Bix & Eddie Lang to “˜splain that next time you decide to take the Tram) and nothing to do with the Stanford University, all those futuristic Aerror-space cadets, or the totally slowly immaturing Sillycon Valley boy / girl scene, my parental units randumbly plopped my post-partum pooper and all my other bodily attachments I had down in planet Palo Alto-jest in time for the final curtain of the Hairy Ass Truman Show, which had started with a “bang” or two years before me, and most fortunately in the exact neighborhood that would land me a genuine beatnik for a teacher in 7th and 8th grade for two jam sessions a day, for a two year run for the Roses, which is nice work if you can get it, and we really got it.
My classmates, who were mostly the sons and daughters of the Stanford professors, were arguably the smartest stack of smarty-pantzer kids in the whole wide webless whirled and we were seated in the front row just in time to catch the opening blue notes to the overture that would become the world-famous 1960s. It was like we’d all been put on some kinda kozmic guest list complete with backstage passes for these most righteous rites of passage, which was pretty far out considering what stage most Jr. High kids were going through who had normal formal Hormel-fed, “buy the book” teacher-creatures instead instead of the rock steady alien kitty we crash-landed on.
Mr. Robert Leon had been demoted from Palo Alto High to Terman Jr. High and had his salary cut to ribbons for refusing to shave off his well-trimmed beard, which was like way too weird for the pre-rock ‘n’ roll groan-ups to grok. In their infinite whizdumb, the Palo Alto School Bored handed him off to just about the most impressionable kids you could ever possibly pony up”let alone pull together in the same exact homeroom. We were like, terminally impressed with this loose-wigged Mr. Leon, and his name is like lion-talk for “cat,” something you’d know fer sure if you spoke that cute little big kitty’s groovy growl like a native National Geographic correspondent / dental assistant or if you’ve ever had any kind of Lionel Training which as a kid I had had and was so over that endless circle of tracks by ending chorus of 4th grade it kept me off of anything that made tracks for the duration.
Instead of homework, he hit us with “home enjoyment,” taught us to make up words ourselves and gave us what is still the greatest lecture I’ve ever heard, like ever, everyman. More than two years before the Free Speech Movement hit the studs and students at UC Berkeley, he started (and startled) the class by going up to the blackboard and wrote out in enormous capital letters, “F_ _ K” and then turned around to face a class full of semi-suppressed (Googlers of the future) gigglers in the act of losing it completely. After the laughter died down, he said with the perfect comediac timing he coulda cribbed from Lenny Bruce, “I could fill in two letters and lose my job, or two other letters and everything would be cool with the school-rules fools in charge. We all know what those letters are, but it is the act of actually applying the chalk to the slate that makes it a problem.”
Then he yakked on on how people fall in and out of love and war over words that really have no power except what we give them, and the same words even mean different things to different folks in different cultures. He brought in the first Beat Poetry album of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Kenneth Rexroth “Jazz and Poetry at the Cellar,” when they powders that be expectorated us to be reading Stephan Vincent Benet, Ogden Nash’ Ramblering’s and maybe cats like all those gray-haired Robert Frosted flakey poets instead.
By eight grade, Mr. Leon’s class was a sort of a full-fledgling “Hipster Head Start Program” and Terman Jr. High was up to its collective turtlenecks in baby beatniks and future heads thanks to his hipping us to Kepler’s Bookstore, The Boars Head, Pennisula School in Menlo Park, the Palo Alto Peace Center, Dana Morgan’s Music, Draper’s Music, Swain’s Music, where Ron McKernan sold me a new Vox Continental organ in early ’66, a couple of cool record stores like the Town & Country where they had listening booths you could hang in if you wanted to pretend you were going to buy something, which we didn’t usually have the scratch to do more than scratch a few records. He like, likewised covered all the hipper hangouts ’round Stanford and Menlo Park where the bastard super-children of Perry White and Lois Lane were congregating in parts of Perry Lane for a pre-test, politely semi-apolitical proto-protest party that spilled out the front door, down the street and covered the whole wide planet of Eartha Kitties and Gaia Guys and still hasn’t shown any signs of stopping any time soon.
Palo Alto was one of the few places that actually had a for real, surreal, bohemian culture complete with actual “pads” like Harry Ely’s superb little shack. Ely whowuza an olden school older bohemian Menlo Park library kitty whose house (and record collection) was an open cultural refuge for overage and underage pseudo-beats like me. St. Harry lost his virginity to Billie Holiday in the late 30s and had had carnival knowledge of Anis Nin witch was way too hip for my virginal little wig to flip and fully process, but the mash letters from Lady Day really made my day when I got to read “˜em and weep. He was the first cat I ever saw take a Wollensack real to real tape recorder to a Dead show and play the mother at home, “in the pad.” That was early 1966, so as far as I’ve seen, that would have made him a made man in Dead land, as the first audience taper.
Most of Mr. Leon’s class fell right into this amaze-zen baptismal scene, and after reading Kerouac, Ginsberg and all that other beatific Ferlin-ghetto poetry and unprofessional prose, pretty much the whole class was an easy catch for whatever would come down the Bayshore Freakway next, and natch, it was Neal the butchest Cassady that ever danced in the Sun, kid the Dean M. of Hipsters, sledge-hammered Flipsters and Finger-poppin’ Daddies movin’ into our neighborhood, bringin’ the real estate prices down on his (Railroad) watch all the while si-muletrain-iously, upping the aunties for those in certain asordid townshifts of the Bay Area’s surreal estate market which was hittin’ a new high gathering more and more upper classic investors in “sixies futures,” clearly a growth, if not homegrown industry. Coincidents? I think not, especially with all the dents St. Cassady put in other people’s cars and heads.
During the “Great Folk Scare of the Early Sixties,” Palo Alto had our own superstar in Joan Baez and two (count em, two) off-campus folk music / beatnik hangouts, St. Michael’s Alley and the Tangent, a pizza place with a jukebox and a narrow stairway that led up to the Top of the Tangent where for 50 cents or so you could see whoever they had on the stage in front of the mike, mostly local-folkals, but sometimes touring (i.e. bumming) folkies too, “˜cause that was the era / error when everybody wanted to be Woody G., at least in the folk music circles we all travelled in.
Some of these folks went on to greater heights, if not lengths, widths and tangents, but I had no way of knowing that David and Michaela would someday turn on and into David Freiberg of Quicksilver Messenger Service, or the funny looking almost “hitler youth”-lookin’ dude with glasses and a banjo would grow up to be Paul Kantner of the Jefferson Airplane or that Janet Joplin and that Jerry Kau-konen (the Barbarian) kat might revert to their real names someday and achieve even greater flame and fortune cookies for the effin’ efforts. “Janet” did do a very passable Odetta and this temp-Jerry the K. did the best Rev. Gary Davis I’d ever seen any folkie do up to that time and in fact he still does, so catch Hot Tuna and/or Jorma solo while they’re still at least body-temp warm, fuzzy and fuzz-free.
The Tangent was along with Kepler’s and Stanford, my main hang, so I soaked up many a show; but not nearly as many as I passed on, since sometimes I’d march up the skinny stairway to the stars, listen for a tiny tad and make a judgment day-call as to whether to spend the 50 cents on live folk music, or a stack of old 78 rpm records or for that matter, ten 5-cent candy bars, “˜cause I was in like in Jr. High and the main junior “high” I hit on besides music was chocolate and sugar. A little bit later that decade, I lined up for the standardized dose of Legal Leland Stanford, Jr. Sandozed C&H pure cane sugar cubes from Hawaii, with some kinda Swiss Miss Mysteries drop in and on special guest chemi-California concoction for scien-terrific research, witch of course, was the soul purpose of our experimental exercises and most excellent exorcisms of the pre-Lennon / Ono bagism sort of baggage. Along with twirling around until you get too dizzy to stand, vitamin Ch (ocolate) was still off-the-raid-ar legal drugs and how kids got high during those somewhat innocent and yet inno-sensual sillyconstant valley start up to all that storming heaven and hellaciously spaciously good times that awaited us in our ever-approaching roach-filled futures.
The Beverley Hillbillies TV show had just come out the previous fall and the Flatt & Scruggs theme song had just put bluegrass not only on all the maps, but out where everybody in the whole wide weird world couldn’t help but hear it, even a science nerd pseudo-beatnik > proto-hippie >former Peanut butter Gallery and jam boy like me. When I heard the twang and call of the wild banjo comin’ down from the Top of the “˜T”, I hauled my mules and my ass up those narrow stairs post haste, paid my dues (I wasn’t always on the guest list in those days) and sat down with maybe 30 people to see a rootin’-tootin’ son of a bitchin’ live-ass bluegrass band for the first time in my whole f-in’ unlaid teenage life.
I had recently scored a 5 string at a pawn shop in SF so I sat one row back but right in front of the banjo-pickin’ precedent hoping I could lift a lick and / or figger somethin’ or even anything out, but I was instantly left in the dust since this music was goin’ way too fast for my newgrass bluegrass noodle to process into anything but velveeta Jeezzzis cheezwhiz H. Kraft ona shingle, this was fun! I was surprised that they weren’t from the south since I’d never heard this shit without a southern accent, “˜cause these were the types of cats you saw on the folk scene and hanging around Kepler’s, and other notorious nooks and crannies in and around Palo Alto’s budding underground and doing a pretty good take on this new kinda kind-budding brand of new / old fast and furious folk grass friendly music. Not that they had long hair, as that fashion was still in its not-so-fancy-infancy, although beards and goatees were a signal, as were shabby or slept-in clothes and levis with paint smudged all over them to prove to the girls that somebody was an artist, but well before most girls started to fall for that shit.
My hair was already long in early ’63 mainly because my poor well-meaning mother had put me on a $5/week allowance out of which I was supposed to pay for my haircuts (thanks, mom, nice try!). Candy bars were 5 cents and haircuts were two dollars and I was a boy in Jr. High, and had a world-class chocoholic Jones way before I even knew what “Jones” was, let alone the muchies, so I was like, “Lemme see a haircut or 40 candy bars” you do the math, “˜cause I didn’t have to. I was always good at doin’ that kinda math in my head-’specially while adding endless chocolate bars down my mouth at the same insane time.> Fess Parker as “Disney” Davy Crockett hit me hard on the noggin at six, so I let it grow out like his and all of a Sodom, and go, man, Go-more-uh, a whole lotta strange and wonderful things really started to happen for me.
By the time the Beatles came along, I was not into to it at first, but a few of the girls noticed me for the first time, like EVER, which of course, surprised the hell out of me, as a former science creep and beatnik nerd that had until just recently got high on grade point averages and high scores that didn’t help me score (like getting a kiss, even) with any of the mostly straighter chicks in and around my pathway. At my 10th high school reunion, I asked a former cheerleader / in-crowd popular pretty girl if she really had been interested in me back in day and found out (too late) that some of the girls figured since my hair was long before the Beatles hit the U.S. radar range, I must have been onto something and a “head” of my time. ‘Course I was clueless and would be for a while, yet, if not still.
Later I saw Rodney and Peter Albin’s bluegrass band the Liberty Hill Aristocrats, but I more or less forgot all about my first live bluegrass experience never realizing just how close to “but first, are you Gratefully experienced?,” I had actually been. Remember that nobody in that little scene (except Joanie B. and her far less famous boyfriend, Bobby Dylan) was famous yet, and no one was less famous than me in the whole folkin’ folk scene-even Norman, the bass player and the Princely artists formerly known as the Wildwood Boys, who were still near the bottom of the inevitable uphill climb to where they would Someday Soon be jammin’ and be be-bopping around the better parts of the whole “‘Round Midnight” “Smashing Thirds” Thelonious Sphere from the Sun-House of all kinds of ill repute and would for a long, Long Now and then, and then lick it up and do some more of that great shit until they were up to their collective asses in cool hot licks to spare an endless supply for us folks out front.
I hadn’t thought about that show for more than a couple of decadent decades, when in the late 80s I started my own campaign to get Deadheads to quit smoking tobacco which had knocked Garcia down for a unfairly long count in July of ’86 and had come up with a righteous rap and an old 1967 R. Cobb cartoon that really worked to cure the coughin’ coffin-nail crowd. I caught Karen Horning (who I later found out held a major psychedelic missionary position in charge of the West Coast Territory for the Church of the Ladder Saint’s Day) in the act of smoking legal drugs on Grateful Dead property (Oakland Coliseum) and laid the rap on her and the R. Cobb rap sheet to wrap it all up for sure.
She was from the Least Coast, so she did have a really good excuse for smoking that shit in that they’re geographically impaired out there and too far from the the Wizard of “Ooh’s and Ahs’iss” Emerald City Triangle to get it all rolled up fat and done up straight, sassy and totally true blue, but she promised to cold-turkey the wicked non-wacky tobacky if I could get her a tape of ol’ Jerry on de banjo doin’ “Standing in the Need of Prayer.” This, fortunately was a simple case of “Easier done than said.”
I always purposely pick on the exact appropriate Wizard for each and every sitchuation, and in dis case it was all about my fellow R&B beaver scout and Alan Freed-om fan boy, Dick Latvala. Dick picked up on this requestionable riff in spades and I came on strong and ASAP over to personally raid his pad’s official GD tape vault where upon he whipped up a cassette dub of the earliest Dead tapes for me. Returning to my crib at the speed of sound that a 1964 Dodge Dart makes, I fasted forth trying to find Karen’s “kindest” cut and landed smack dab onto the intro to “Muleskinner Blues.”
Most folks don’t know this deep dark secret about me, but I can yodel something I taught myself back in the mid-60s after hearing KRAK country radio under the influence of you know what on the way back from a gig with my shitty little rock “˜n roll band then known as the Westminster Five. Like, later, in the late sixties, I used to do a take on Ramblin’ Jack Elliot crossed with the Fendermen’s rockabilly version of Jimmie Rodger’s “Muleskinner Blues” and totally stole this joke about Palo Alto (or any other unlikely town) being a Muleskinner community and that many of your mothers and fathers were undoubtedly muleskinners, too. It usually got a little big laugh, just like it did on the tape of this here show.
This was and still is the most incredibly psychedelic mind-fudging banjo-tuning, tuna melts-in-yer mind, not-in-yer-hands-on experience I’ve ever had my world-weary headphoned head under, understand me, and I do mean “experience,” even if I wasn’t on anything more than the standard-issue herbal medi-sin-full-tilt weed-wacker blues-jays.
Every word, every note, every laugh, every titter, every clap, every clam and every endless banjo tune-up hit my brain like two halves of a zipper coming together as I was taken instantly back in H.G. Wellsville’s Time Machine to the first live bluegrass band I’d ever seen that night at the Top of the Tangent and it was effin’ early elfin Jerry the G, “Hairy” Bob the Hunter and Really Boy Nelson II (aka Nice Miller) along with mystery bassist Norman Van Mastricht and they had been hardly, strictly bluegrass picking and peaking while I was peeking back at them, way back when, Glenn!
I called Dick Latvala faster than my fingers could dial my 1925 Elliot Ness model Western Electricky candlestick phone dial to testify and then sent him a cassette of old R&B 78s as a “thank you, masked man” gesture and genuflection for havin’ my first show already in the Grateful Dead archives. How does this happen? I guess it’s because I’ve been geographically and chronologically blessed all my life. Coming of age in Palo Alto in the 1960s couldn’t have been better. I wouldn’t take nothin’ for my journey now.
I don’t know whatever happened to Norman, the bass player, “˜cause I never saw or heard of him again but Nelson just told me he saw him a couple years ago. Unlike the other three cats and me, I suspect he probably had the way more Norman Normal style lifestyle of those who succeed in growing up and turning into adults and / or solidified citizens, minus the “zen.” The word “˜adult’ sez “a dolt” and a “dolt” is a stupid person, look it up it’s written all over Noah Webster’s great big Dick-shunary (which is indoobieously up on the whirreled-wide-Webster, no doubt, and possibly like, likewise still stashed in the very same Funkin’ Wagnelly’s the Dead cribbed their magic monicker from.
David Nelson easily had an earlier first show than I, since he got hooked up with Jerry over bluegrass at the Boar’s Head in San Carlos in like 1960 or “˜61. He’s the closest living totally inSaint Original Cast veteran scene-stealer we have to Garcia now and was cut from the same cloth and culture that was goin’ down in the glory days of Beatniks, Beatchicks, Beatslickers, folk music, jazz, bullfight posters, paperback books, Lenny Bruce, Lord Buckley, Ken Nordine and Wavy Gravy’s mentor Del Close & his pal John Brent (St. Geets Romo) who taught us all “How to Speak Hip,” back when dinosaurs ruled the earth. If you haven’t heard the David Nelson Band get your ass and assets in gear and get on the DNB bus. Out of 10 stars, they get at least twenty-”˜lleven anna half, and they are currently as least as good as anything ever gets.
Gradually over the decades, I’ve come to realize that fairly few folks had an earlier “first show” than me, myself and I and maybe my echo, my shadow and me, for those of you who can spot the inky-dinky reeference in this last sentence. Jerry wooda got it for sure I know because he raved all about them for months after I gave him two cassettes of their best double-sided Decca 78s.
The Weir-dust thing is I wasn’t anybody remotely important at the time, I was too young to be much moron than a fly on some very hip wallpapers, but I was already building the infamous record collection from stormin’ heaven, something I got serious about at like 12 years old. Most of the heroic players in the scene were war babies or even late depression babies, not boomers, but my hair was long by early 1963, before the Beatles were even heard of stateside, let alone herding even any American fillies, and in no time at tall it got me all kinds of excess access “˜cause I looked like I might be somebody hipper than I actually really was.
I slowly became the go-to-guy for the first generation of the roots-crowd wolves hungry and on the prowl for and seekin’ stuff in the genial dire-rection of Harry Smith’s Sacred Ants-ology of American Folk Music, where all those radical old 78rpm records that stored the spirits of the really righteous scary-good old-time folk music roomed with me and still does. I really do “room with Bird” and he’s even got his own Dial tone on a disc I can Dial up anytime I want, proving once and for all that Bird Lives!
I had a fabulous seat for the great show on earth, and all because of the cos-Mickey Finn-ish accident of where my “˜rent’s scored their little Better Pad and Garden for the whole famdamily to land, where I could live it up uptight, outasight and upright & bass-ically slammed with a hair bow and doubling voice, courtesy of some Stewart little bass cat on some 78s I found early on.
This just in! I just realized in retro-spexual, that I was “On the Bus” before there was one.
I’d like to thank Martin Knott and his Band of Maryland Pranksters for making me scribble all this aggie-Gnostic-stalgia down for TIGDH as well as for other posterior motifs and motivational Meyer Sound Speakers and for all the cats and kittens of the far-fetching Furthur of the Future.
I don’t know exactly what all this means, eggs-ackley, but we used to say “for posterior” as a “hip” replacement for “posterity,” long before some of these old hippies started getting those artificial Titanic-anium “real” hip replacements that summa those morethanna touch of grayfull lords and ladies jumped on when their hip-bones weren’t still in the thickuvit and not dense enuff to dance as hard as folks hafta.
I was a teenage bohemian science cat in like, 8th grade, gettin’ good grades, with a future was so bright we had to wear shades at night, but my marks soon started to slip as I correctly decided to take Mark Twain’s Riders of the Purple-hazy Sage-brush’ advice to “never let school get in the way of my education.”
And that’s the whole card truth and nuthin’ but the truth, accordion to Glenn Allen Howard
Bye, Bye, for now (and thensome),
Buddy GAH-GAH, the opposix sensor to the musicless world of Lady Ca Ca.
All content and conden-sensationalist stuff is copyright 2013 by Glenn Allen Howard. All rights reserved for now, but I may have reservations about that later, gator.