Category Archives: Music

Bo Diddley

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I won the tickets from the local radio station.

Bo Diddley’s playing at the House of Blues, the DJ said. Be the 10th caller and win two tickets.

I was at work. It was a slow evening, and there were no customers in the store. I picked up the phone, dialed the radio station’s number. Busy signal. I hit redial Busy signal. I hit redial.

You’re the tenth caller, the smooth DJ voice said.

I was going to see Bo Diddley!

Later than night I called my housemate who also happened to be the man on whom I had a huge crush. I didn’t have the courage to ask him to go to the show with me. Instead, I told him I’d won two tickets and asked him if he knew anybody who might want to go to the show with me.

Do I know anybody who’d want to go to the show with you? he asked incredulously. I want to go to the show with you!

To this day, I’m not sure if he wanted to go to show with me or if he just wanted to go to the show.

I didn’t know much about Bo Diddley. I’d heard that “Who Do You Love?” song and that’s about it. Free tickets were awesome, and now I had a date, so I didn’t much care what the music was like.

I can’t remember if we walked together from home on the night of the show or if we met at the House of Blues. I just remember being there and my crush saying he’d buy the drinks since I’d provided the tickets. I told him that plan sounded fair to me.

We started drinking right away.

Bo Diddley took the stage, and he ROCKED THE HOUSE! He was skinny, and he was old (66 at the time), but there was nothing feeble about the way he played and sang. My crush and I weren’t the only members of the audience on our feet. Lots of us were dancing our asses off.

At intermission, we struck up a conversation with some earnest young Canadian men on vacation. One of them asked what kind of work we did. My crush told them I was a stripper, and to my complete amazement, the Canadian men believed him! Maybe Canadians have a different standard of beauty than Americans because eve then, in my early 20s, I was not stripper material.

The second half of the show was as good—no, better—than the first. Old Bo still had plenty to give his fans.

Can you see ok? my crush asked me.  Let me put you on my shoulders so you can see, he offered.

We were on the balcony, so I could look down and see the stage pretty well. However, I was not going to turn down physical contact with this man I liked so very much. He leaned down, and I climbed up, throwing a leg around either side of his head. Woowie! Yes! This was fun!

It wasn’t long before a security guy come up to us and told my crush to put me down. That good time was over, but Bo Diddley played on.

As all good things do, the concert came to an end. The crowd roared, but the show was over.

I was feeling good, a little drunk, a little loose, happy. I’d just had a lot of fun at that show.

My crush and I walked home to the large house we shared. We were laughing and talking, and I was hoping to get laid. The other times we’d had sex, we’d usually been out together drinking, then came home and prolonged the night by falling into bed together. While—sure—it was about the sex for me, it wasn’t only about the sex. I really liked the guy and hoped one of these times we fell in bed together, he’d fall in love with me. Maybe tonight would be that night.

My hopes were dashed as we approached the house, and I saw the car parked in front.

Oh! Gretchen’s here! my crush said with more excitement than he’d expressed all night.

Gretchen was the women with whom he was in love. It was apparently going to be love triangle night in our house.

Gretchen had dozed off in the front seat of her car while waiting for us. My crush was all smiles as he tapped on the window to wake her. He led her inside the house and to his bedroom, as I went to my room to spend another night alone and unloved.

The Opera

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I was well into my 40s, and I’d never experienced the opera. It’s not like I’d purposefully avoided; I’d just never had an opportunity to attend.

My computer guy friend and I were IMing one day, and he mentioned the opera. He attended. He enjoyed it. I might enjoy it too, he said. He offered to treat me to a performance of the San Francisco Opera next time I was in town. I was excited to take him up on his offer, but I didn’t make it to San Fran for over a year.

When I started planning my visit with Bay Area friends in 2016, I contacted my computer guy and asked him if we were still on for the opera. He said yes.

My short visit to San Francisco coincided with a Sunday matinee of The Makropulos Case starring Nadja Michael. I’d never heard of this opera, but when I did a Google search, I found information on San Francisco Opera webpage (https://sfopera.com/discover-opera/201617-season/the-makropulos-case/).

The seductive diva Emilia Marty has broken hearts for over 300 years and yet she doesn’t look a day past 30. Now that the magical elixir granting her eternal youth is wearing off, can she seduce her way to immortality?

Music by Leoš Janáček | Libretto by Leoš Janáček

Sung in Czech with English supertitles

The story sounded interesting enough for me want to see the show.

I was concerned because don’t people dress up for the opera? I asked my computer guy. I’m not exactly toting around an opera worthy wardrobe in my van, so I wasn’t sure what I was going to do if I had to dress fancy.

My computer guy didn’t seem worried about the opera dress code. Hwwever, he is a man who–for the last couple of decades–has partially based his acceptances of job offers on whether or not he’d be allowed to wear shorts to the office.

Are you going to wear long pants to the opera? I asked him, and he said he supposed he could.

The afternoon of the performance came. I wore a long, straight black skirt and a colorful 100% cotton top. My computer guy friend wore full length black  pants and a dark shirt. We may not have looked fancy, but we looked respectable, much like everyone else in the audience. I was relieved to see no one else at the matinee wearing evening clothes. (I guess by definition, “evening clothes” are not worn at two o’clock in the afternoon.)

The day of my first opera attendance was also the occassion of my first ride with an Uber driver. Before we left his apartment in the Mission, I asked my computer guy if we would be riding the bus so I would have adequate bus fare if necessary. He said no, so I assumed we’d be walking. When we got out to the corner of his block, he raised his phone above his head.

What are you doing? I asked.

Hailing our ride, he told me.

I was a bit confused when the car that pulled up had no markings distinguishing it as a taxi.

I set up a ride with Uber, he said.

Oh, yes, Uber, I thought. I’d heard of such a thing.

The driver was friendly and polite; the three of us chatted about the opera. The car was exceptionally clean, and I felt safe for the duration of our short ride.

My computer guy had the driver drop us off so we could walk through the lovely Memorial Court. After we climbed the steps into the War Memorial Opera House, we picked up our tickets at the box office and found our seats under the balcony.

The War Memorial Opera House is a beautiful building, inside and out. According to http://www.sfwmpac.org/history,

The cornerstones of the War Memorial Opera House and Veterans Building were laid on November 11, 1931. These two buildings and the Memorial Court between them formed the original San Francisco War Memorial.

The War Memorial Opera House has been home to the San Francisco Opera since it opened on October 15, 1932. Despite the nation’s severe depression, Puccini’s Tosca, conducted by Mr. Gaetano Merola, saw its original schedule of nine performances quickly sell out and three additional performances added, due to the incredible anticipation of opening season in the new house.

The Opera House is also home to the San Francisco Ballet, and served as home to the San Francisco Symphony until Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall opened in September 1980.

We only had a short while to flip through our programs before the performance began. Of course, I don’t understand Czech, so I was glad for the subtitles projected throughout theater.

I must have stayed up too late the night before, because my head was nodding and I could barely keep my eyes open by the time intermission rolled around. It’s not that I wasn’t enjoying the performance; I was enjoying it–but damn!–I felt sleepy. While my computer guy went off to stretch his legs during intermission, I took myself a power nap. Staying awake was easier during the second half of the show.

We walked back to my computer guy’s apartment after the performance, and it was a lovely afternoon to stroll through the city. As we walked, we discussed what we’d just seen.

We agreed the diva, Nadja Michael, was a lovely woman with a great voice and a commanding stage presence. I highly recommend seeing any show she stars in.

My computer guy didn’t enjoy this performance as much as other operas he’d seen. First, he thought sitting under the balcony had detracted from the sound quality. Second, he thought some of the performers were not giving their all since the show was near the end of its run. Finally, much of the opera consisted basically of sung dialog rather than full-on operatic singing.

I enjoyed the opera, I really did, but I wish we’d have been able to see something more traditional and well, famous. In any case, I really appreciate live performance and will choose live performance over a recording any day.

As I told my computer guy friend, I’m glad I was able to attend the performance. (I’m so grateful he bought me a ticket!) I enjoyed going to the opera house (and wish I had taken photos!) and experiencing the performance, but it’s not like opera is my thing now. It’s not as if I’m going to follow the opera like Deadheads followed the Grateful Dead, but I will attend the opera again if a free ticket is involved.

 

 

 

Concerts I’ve Attended (Nine Truths and a Lie)

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Recently on Facebook, folks I know were playing a game in which they listed ten concerts they’d been to. The trick was, one item on each list was a lie, a concert that person had not actually attended. Friends got to guess which concert was a lie. It was a fun game, but too time-consuming for me to write it all out on my phone. So here today I’m sharing the concerts I’ve attended in my life–nine truths and a lie style.

Can you guess wich concert I did not attend? Leave your guesses in the comments section below.

#1 Information Society at Disney World during Grad Nite. Samantha Fox and New Kids on the Block played at that Grad Night too, but I couldn’t get anywhere near the stages. I saw them from a distance, and they looked like ants.

#2 Tribe 8 (Bay Area queer punk rock) at Zeitgeist Theater in New Orleans.

#3 Crash Worship on two occasions. I don’t remember the venues. Once I was really high on really nice drugs. Once I was totally sober. Both shows were great!

#4 Toshi Reagon at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. I believe in kindness too.

#5 Billy Idol in some big arena. I told my parents I was spending the night at a friend’s house. I used my babysitting money to pay for my ticket.

#6 Barenaked Ladies at the House of Blues. My roommate bought me the ticket as an early birthday present.

#7 Blues Traveler. Blues Traveler. Blues Traveler. Once at Jazz Fest. Once at Tipitina’s. Once some place I don’t remember.

#8 Blue Scholars in NYC. Hip Hop fantastic!

#9 Bo Diddley at House of Blues. I won tickets from a local radio station and got a man I had a crush on to go with me. Bo Diddley rocked the House!

#10 Ani DiFrance on two occasions. Once at House of Blues where I met up with the woman I had a crush on who told me she’d had sex with the man I had a crush on. (It was a very Ani DiFranco moment.) Once at Jazz Fest where C.J. Chenier (who played before her) must have thought he had a huge new lesbian following.

 

 

 

Turtle People

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It was a hot summer afternoon at the Bridge, and Tea and I were talking between potential customers. A couple of young people (maybe early 20s, maybe late teens) came up to our tables sitting side by side.

Hello. How are you? Good prices on everything, we told the young people.

It seemed they were lookers, not shoppers, but it was a slow day, and we were happy to have new people for company. Where are y’all from? we asked.

One of the young people was a woman, a young woman, maybe even a girl in many people’s eyes. She had shoulder length dark hair and carried a guitar. She explained she and her companions lived at a local shelter for runaways and other young people who were having problems and could no longer live with their families.

Tea felt a connection with the young people because 50 years ago, she’d been a teenage runaway. After her beloved mother died, she’d been forced to live with her father and a stepmother who didn’t want her around. Life in her new family became too difficult and she’d bolted. Her experiences on the street gave her an understanding of the lives fo these young people, despite the decades stretching between them.

I felt a kinship with the young woman with the dark hair and guitar. She admired the hemp jewelry I’d made and had for sale. She was interested in my van, especially after I told her I lived in it.

Oh! she said with a smile. You’re one of the turtle people. You take your home with you wherever you go!

She wanted to travel too, she told me, when was 18 and on her own. She would be 18 soon, she said wistfully.

I encouraged her, told her if I could thrive living alone in my van, she could too. She could take her guitar on the road and busk to make enough money to see the world, I said.

In repayment of a debt, I’d recently been given a big bag of beads and pendants carved from bone. In the bag, I’d found several pendants shaped like turtles. I quickly realized that soon after I put a handmade hemp necklace adorned with a turtle pendant on my table, it sold for $20. People love turtles on hemp necklaces.

On the day I met the young woman with the dark hair and guitar, I had a necklace adorned with a turtle pendant on my table. The young woman admired it, but said she didn’t have any money.

What about a trade? I asked. Do you want to trade for it?

She said she didn’t have anything to trade, and I asked her to play her guitar and sing a song for me. I’ll trade you the necklace for a song, I told her.

She looked young and shy as she sat on the floor of my van where the side doors were open to the world. She adjusted her guitar and said she’d sing a song she’d written herself.

I didn’t hear the traffic on the highway or the conversations between the other vendors and their customers while the young woman gave her song to me. My ears listened only to her guitar and the words of joy and longing and promise she sang to me. I heard only her beautiful song.

When she finished singing, all of us who’d listened to her told her she’d sounded wonderful and thanked her for her gift. I got the turtle necklace for her. She placed it around her neck, and I fastened it for her. We were both smiling and a little teary when we said goodbye. I watched her and her guitar walk away and disappear.

I’ve thought about that young woman as the years have passed. She’s turned 18 and is in her 20s now. I hope she was able to get a van and take her guitar and lovely voice on the road. I hope she’s seeing the world. I hope she’s happy, joyful.

I wonder if she still has the necklace I made. I wonder if she thinks of me, her turtle sister.

 

Play Me, I’m Yours (Part 3)

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The last Play Me, I’m Yours piano I discovered was my favorite because it had a writing theme! This black and white piano, located on the edge of a pocket park near the Arizona Museum of Natural History, was decorated with flowers and the reasons why people write. Some reasons people gave for writing:

I write to right my wrongs. img_5874

I write because the pen is my weapon.

I write to say, “I was here.”

I write because my ancestors weren’t allowed to.

I write to honor my second chances.

I write to relieve myself from pain.

I write to speak my mind, even when my voice shakes.

While researching this post, I discovered the community group responsible for this piano was Phonetic Spit. According to their website,

Through the intersections of Literary Arts, Youth Development, and Social Justice programs, Phonetic Spit creates Brave Space to empower young and emerging adults to find, develop and publicly present their voices as agents of societal change.

img_5873I can understand how a group of young people interested in the literary arts, publicly presenting their voices, and societal change would use this opportunity to tell the world why writing is important to each of them.

According to the Street Pianos webpage dedicated to this piano (#4), the artist who did the work on it was Tomas Stanton. A Phoenix New Times article (“100 Creatives”) from 2012 called Tomas Stanton

a poet, writer, teaching artist, and community activist. He says he’s a self-taught artist dedicated to advancing the art of spoken word through fusion with theatre and dance.

Stanton is co-founder of Phoenix’s premiere youth spoken word ensemble, Phonetic img_5870Spit. He uses hip-hop pedagogy to inspire youth to boldly express themselves through poetry, dance, theatre, and graffiti. His work and teaching style is rooted in his childhood experiences of poverty and single parent household, political issues, identity, and love.

This piano’s Street Pianos webpage also says it was donated by the First United Methodist Church of Mesa and was sponsored by Two Men And A Truck.

My favorite words on this piano read, “Your Voice Matters.” This message is important to everyone who may feel silenced in the current political climate. Every voice matters. Some will say the only voices that matter come from the throats of the rich or the males or the people with light skin. This is not the true.  The truth is every voice matters. My voice matters and your voice matters. Let’s all speak our minds, even when our voices shake.

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I took all of the photos in this post.

If you missed the other posts about the Play Me, I’m Yours pianos, here’s a brief summary :

Touring internationally since 2008, Play Me, I’m Yours is an artwork by British artist Luke Jerram. Reaching over 10 million people worldwide – more than 1,500 street pianos have already been installed in over 50 cities across the globe, from London to New York, bearing the simple instruction Play Me, I’m Yours.

Located on streets, in public parks, markets and train stations the pianos are temporarily available for everyone to play and enjoy. Play Me, I’m Yours invites the public to engage with, activate and take ownership of their urban environment. Decorated by local artists and community groups, the pianos create a place of exchange and an opportunity for people to connect.

 

 

Play Me, I’m Yours (Part 2)

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The second Play Me, I’m Yours piano I encountered during my evening stroll along Main Street in Mesa, AZ was in front of the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum. This one was looked like a cloudy blue sky, and the sides shimmered in the late afternoon sun.

If you missed previous posts, http://www.streetpianos.com/ says,

Touring internationally since 2008, Play Me, I’m Yours is an artwork by British artist Luke Jerram. Reaching over 10 million people worldwide – more than 1,500 street pianos have already been installed in over 50 cities across the globe…

Sparkling side view of piano #11

Sparkling side view of piano #11

According to his website,

Luke Jerram’s multidisciplinary practice involves the creation of sculptures, installations and live arts projects. Living in the UK but working internationally for 19 years, Jerram has created a number of extraordinary art projects which have excited and inspired people around the globe.

Jerram has a set of different narratives that make up his practice which are developing in parallel with one another. He is known worldwide for his large scale public artworks.

The Street Pianos webpage dedicated to this piano (#11) says it was decorated by artists Kyllan Maney and Erin Peters and the Creative Catalyst team. It was donated by Mesa Arts Center and sponsored by Advanced Eyecare of Arizona.

Back view of piano #11

Back view of piano #11

What I didn’t know until I looked at the aforementioned webpage dedicated to this particular piano is that it was lit up at night. How cool is that! (Very cool, I think. I wish I had seen it all lit up.) The area behind the panel that reads “Play Me, I’m Yours” apparently glowed electric lavender, and a bright blue light shone from underneath.

The white and blue color scheme reminded me of clouds in a blue sky. I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the serene sky imagery and the gliding birds next to the shimmery shake of the sparkles on the sides. (Are the shimmers meant to represent the stars in the night sky?)

Again, I wished I could play this piano, but I made myself content with simply striking a few keys and and enjoying the art.

I took all of the photos in this post.
Bird detail from piano #11

Bird detail from piano #11

Play Me, I’m Yours (Part 1)

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In the spring of 2016, I was exploring the public art on Main Street in Mesa, Arizona. One of the coolest things I saw was a Pepto-Bismol pink piano labeled “Play Me, I’m Yours.” What was this about? I had no idea, but loved the presence of a piano out on the street available for anyone to play. As I walked further east on Main Street, I encountered two more street pianos. Very interesting, I thought. I figured the pianos were part of downtown Mesa’s permanent sculpture collection and didn’t think much more about them until I sat down to write this post.

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Front view of piano #6

According to the Street Pianos website,

Touring internationally since 2008, Play Me, I’m Yours is an artwork by British artist Luke Jerram. Reaching over 10 million people worldwide – more than 1,500 street pianos have already been installed in over 50 cities across the globe, from London to New York, bearing the simple instruction Play Me, I’m Yours.

Located on streets, in public parks, markets and train stations the pianos are temporarily available for everyone to play and enjoy. Play Me, I’m Yours invites the public to engage with, activate and take ownership of their urban environment. Decorated by local artists and community groups, the pianos create a place of exchange and an opportunity for people to connect.

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Back view of piano #6

It’s really cool to find out the pianos I encountered are part of a global phenomenon. But wait, it gets better!

The page of the Street Pianos website dedicated to Mesa  says,

Mesa Arts Center presented Play Me, I’m Yours, from March 1 until April 9 2016, as part of the celebrations of a major milestone: 10 years at their beautiful location in Downtown Mesa, AZ.  24 playable and artistically enhanced pianos were featured, in Downtown Mesa and at other satellite locations throughout the city.

What? Those pianos were there for a limited time only, and I got to see them? How cool is that? (Very cool, I think.)

I’m going to do three blog posts about the three Play Me, I’m Yours piano I encountered in Mesa.

Today I am writing about piano #6, which was located on Main Street, east of MacDonald. According to the Street Pianos website (where you can also view videos of people playing this piano),i t was decorated by artist: Kyllan Maney  and students of the New School For The Arts and was donated by Myrna Horton.

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Left side view of piano #6

According to Kyllan Maney’s website, she

works with aspects of nature that reminds her of the feelings of tranquility, discovery, spirituality and awe that exist when looking at plants and objects closely.  The visual foundation of Kyllan’s work is rooted in scientific illustrations, religious icons, human relationships and inspiration from past and current artists. Kyllan enjoys the inventive, creative process of working with mixed media, oil painting and large scale murals.

There’s so much I like about this piano. I think its bright, eye-catching color is grand. I like the individual portraits decorating it. As I said before, I think it is so cool to see pianos out and about, available for anyone to play.

Unfortunately, I don’t know how to play the piano. Music lessons were not something my parents

Right side view of piano #6

Right side view of piano #6

could afford when I was a kid, and by the time I took a piano class in high school, it was too late. I realized I basically have no musical talent, and it was going to take way more effort than I was willing to exert to learn to play the piano (or anything else).

That evening in Mesa, I was sad I couldn’t sit down and coax a song from this instrument, but I was glad to know it was out there waiting for someone more talented than I .

I took all the photos in this post.
To read more about public art in Mesa, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/10/07/the-big-pink-chair/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/10/15/booked-for-the-day/, and here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/11/14/quackers/.
Detail from piano #6 for all my Bowie homies.

Detail from piano #6

Happy Birthday, Mickey Hart!

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There’s another Grateful Dead birthday to celebrate this week: today is the birthday of Mickey Hart, one of the broken drumstick, close-up, darkDead’s two drummers.

According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mickey_Hart,

Mickey Hart (born Michael Steven Hartman, September 11, 1943) is an American percussionist and musicologist. He is best known as one of the two drummers of the rock band Grateful Dead. He was a member of the Grateful Dead from September 1967 to February 1971 and from October 1974 to August 1995. He and fellow Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann earned the nickname “the rhythm devils”.

Dead.net (http://www.dead.net/band/mickey-hart) says,

Practically born with drumsticks in his hands — both of his parents were champion rudimental (marching band-style) drummers — Mickey Hart committed to percussion from the beginning. After experience in both high school and military (Air Force) marching bands and a brief stint working for his father at a drum shop, he encountered Bill Kreutzmann one night at the Matrix. On September 30, 1967, he sat in with the Dead… and joined the band. His influence over the next year was to push the band into complex, multirhythmic explorations. A student of Ustad Allah Rakah (Ravi Shankar’s tabla player), he added various strains of non-Western music to the Dead’s general atmosphere. Over the years, he has been involved in many musical and archival projects, most notably the band Global Drum Project, and the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress’s “Endangered Music Project.” He is the author of several books, including Drumming at the Edge of Magic and Global Drum Project.

According to the aforementioned Wikipedia article,

Hart joined the Grateful Dead in September 1967 and left in February 1971 when he extricated himself from the band due to conflict between band management and his father.[4] During his sabbatical in 1972 he recorded the album Rolling Thunder. He returned to the Dead in 1974 and remained with the group until their official dissolution in 1995. Collaboration with the remaining members of the Grateful Dead continued under the name “The Dead“..

I’ve never experienced Mickey Hart’s drumming in person, but it’s not too late, right? Maybe I’ll get the chance, somehow…

Drumming at the Edge of Magic: A Journey into the Spirit of Percussion
Image of drum courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/broken-drumstick-close-up-dark-dirty-241687/.

Pigpen Was Born on This Day

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I was reading Grateful Dead lyrics once, and the song was attributed to “Ron McKernan.” Who’s that? I asked. My friends told me that was Pigpen; Ron McKernan was his legal name. Who knew? Obviously not me.

Today is the anniversary of Pigpen’s birth. He would have been 71 today, if he hadn’t died when he was only 27.

According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_%22Pigpen%22_McKernan,

He was a founding member of the San Francisco band the Grateful Dead and played in the group from 1965 to 1972.

Dead.net (http://www.dead.net/band/ron-pigpen-mckernan) says,

Starting a rock band was actually Ron McKernan’s idea, and he was its first front man, delivering stinging harmonica, keyboards, and beautiful blues vocals in the early years of the Warlocks/Grateful Dead. Nicknamed “Pigpen” for his funky approach to life and sanitation, he was born into a family that was generally conventional, except for the fact that his (Caucasian) father was an R & B disc jockey. And that sound put Pig’s life on the rails of the blues from the time he was 12. Liquor, Lightnin’ Hopkins, the harmonica and some barbecue – it was an unusual life for a white kid from San Carlos, but it was Pig’s life.

The aforementioned Wikipedia articles continues,

McKernan grew up heavily influenced by African-American music, particularly the blues, and enjoyed listening to his father’s collection of records and taught himself how to play harmonica and piano. He began socializing around the San Francisco Bay Area, becoming friends with Jerry Garcia. After the pair had played in various folk and jug bands, McKernan suggested they form an electric group, which became the Grateful Dead. He was the band’s original frontman as well as playing harmonica and electric organ, but Garcia and bassist Phil Lesh‘s influences on the band became increasingly stronger as they embraced psychedelic rock. McKernan struggled to keep up, causing the group to hire keyboardist Tom Constanten, with McKernan’s contributions essentially limited to vocals, harmonica and percussion from November 1968 to January 1970. He continued to be a frontman in concert for some numbers, including covers of Bobby Bland‘s “Turn On Your Love Light” and the Rascals‘ “Good Lovin’“.

Unlike the other members of the Grateful Dead, McKernan avoided psychedelic drugs, preferring to drink alcohol (namely whiskey and wine). By 1971, his health had been affected by alcoholism and liver damage and doctors advised him to stop touring. Following a four-month hiatus, he resumed touring with the group in December 1971 but was forced to retire from touring altogether in June 1972. McKernan was found dead of a gastrointestinal hemorrhage on March 8, 1973, aged 27 and is buried at Alta Mesa Memorial Park in Palo Alto.

I know Bob Weir is generally considered the Grateful Dead’s pretty boy, but I think Pigpen was the sexiest one in the band. What can I say? I guess I like ’em a little bit dirty.

I never saw Pigpen perform, but I love the songs I’ve heard him sing. He had a charisma that comes through in the live recordings, a presence that’s survived despite the loss of his physical self.

I miss Pigpen!

 

 

Deadheads Are Everywhere

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I was on a remote road in California.

This was not a road that went from town to town. This was a mountain road with forest all around it. This road went past a couple of isolated campgrounds. This road went past a couple of hiking areas. In other words, this was the type of road one would only be on if one were going to a specific, out-of-the-way place. This was not a highly trafficked road.

I was looking for a waterfall. I never found it. The map I had made me think I’d see the waterfall from the road, but I never did. Upon looking at a more detailed map later, I realized there was a short hike to the waterfall. Apparently, there’s no sign announcing the existence of the waterfall or giving a trail number. Apparently, folks who want to see the waterfall need to already know where it’s located.

I drove up the road, well past where the waterfall was supposed to be. When I didn’t see the waterfall (and assumed it had dried up in the California drought), I drove back down the road.

There weren’t many signs on this road. The mile markers on the side were mostly blank. Had there never been numbers on them, or had they worn off? I had no way of knowing.

As I zoomed past one of the mileposts, my brain registered….What? Was that a Stealie? On a milepost in the middle of nowhere? How? Why? Had I really seen a Stealie? Or had it been some other red, white, and blue design, and my brain had filled in what I wanted to see?

Welcome to milepost Grateful Dead.

Welcome to milepost Grateful Dead.

I pulled over into the next wide space on the side of the road. My camera was already in my pocket, as I’d planned to take photos of the waterfall. I walked on the narrow shoulder, back to the the mile marker sign. (There was no traffic. I was in no danger.)

I really had seen Stealies! On the milepost, someone (who? when? why?) had stuck four Steal Your Face stickers. Deadheads had been here!

It’s so nice when the Universe tells me I am not alone.

According to http://gratefuldead-music.com/article/grateful-dead-symbols-de-coded-part-4-skull-and-lightning-bolt,

Designed in 1969, the logo was the collaborative work of Owsley Stanley and artist Bob Thomas. Owsley was inspired by a freeway sign he happened to pass by—a round shape divided by a bold white line into an orange half and a blue half. The general shape and colors stood out, and Owsley had the notion that a blue and red design with a lightning bolt with make a cool logo. He shared his idea with Bob Thomas, who then drew up plans of the design.

Originally, there was no skull face—the logo was simply a circle divided with the lightning bolt. The skull face was added on a few days later, as a way to symbolize the “Grateful Dead.”

The band first used the logo as an identifying mark on their musical equipment, and later the symbol appeared on the inside album jacket of the self-titled album The Grateful Dead. The logo later appeared on the cover of the album Steal your Face, and has been known as the Steal your Face symbol ever since.

Steal Your Face Right Off Your Head

Steal Your Face Right Off Your Head

I took the photos in this post.

Grateful Dead - Steal Your Face - Classic 3cm - Die Cut Metal Sticker Decal