Dick’s Picks 29

Dude, 1977 was a good year for the Grateful Dead, and they’ve just released two complete concerts on six CDs — Fox Theatre, Atlanta, GA (May 19, 1977) and Lakeland Civic Center Arena, Lakeland, FL (May 21, 1977). Check it out. Some fantastic music. I received my discs last week and I’m still digesting them, but, for example, the Terrapin > Playin’ > Uncle John’s > Drums > Wheel > China Doll > Playin’ on disc three will not disappoint.
Music, as a mode of communion, is well understood within tribes such as the Deadheads as well as the Catholics and Southern Baptists. I remember going to a run of shows in Albany NY in the early ’90s, and camping at a nearby campground. As a professional Deadhead, I knew enough to get there early for the best campsite, and when Dave and I were signing in, the friendly woman at the desk asked, “Are you a Follower?” I said, “Pardon me?” She said, “Are you seeing the Dead tonight? Are you a Follower?” I was heistant, having been previously denied accomodations based on my tribal associations. “Yes,” I said simply. She replied, “That’s great. I know exactly how you feel. I’m religious myself. I’ve been a Follower for years. Haven’t seen the Dead, but I found Jesus years ago. There are a lot of you here today. Bathrooms are down the path, showers over there. Drive slowly and watch out for kids on bikes. Have a good time tonight.” Most hotels and campgrounds are tolerant of the Dead crowd, but not at all welcoming. We walked out of the office with our heads spinning.
We left early to go hang out in the ultra-cool downtown Albany parking lot / vending scene, and when we returned after the show around midnight the campground was FILLED with Deadheads. Drumming, tripping, singing, dancing, talking, building campfires, making love. They sold out not only the campsites but a huge open field for tents. Great scene, and a major cash-cow for the owners. Followers take care of each other.
Thanks, Michael J., for inviting me to tell some stories.