Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Grateful Dead “Uncle John’s Band”

I was not a Deadhead growing up. I had the vaguest knowledge of “Casey Jones” and “Touch Of Grey” and a few other radio regulars. But the whole Dead culture was something I was not tuned in to. Or perhaps, in my suburban existence, was shelter from.


I had a girlfriend, and while she wasn’t a Deadhead, many of her friends were, and they were my introduction to the music and the culture and the attitude.

One hot Fourth Of July weekend, we were all invited out to a western Massachusetts backyard barbecue, by one of the gang, who promised that the food would be great, there was a pool, and a bunch of her friends had a great Dead cover band that would play in her backyard, into the night.

I remember sitting in a kiddie pool, drinking a beer, excited as I watched the dudes set up.

“When’s the band going to start?” I asked.

“It’s gonna be great!” said my hostess.

The band broke for lunch. Yes, the hamburgers were delicious.

“When’s the band going to start?” I asked.

“Oh, they’ll start soon!”

The band tuned up.

And tuned up.

And tuned up.

I played frisbee, barefoot on the grass.

“When’s the band going to start?” I asked out loud, but to no one in particular.

With dusk gathering, after much tuning up, the band took a stab at “Uncle John’s Band,” which was cool, because it was my girlfriend’s favorite.

After the one song “sound check,” they took a break to fill their beers.

The lonely amps sat in the corner of the yard, unattended, as the band filled and refilled their cups. I asked my hostess, “Are they going to play anymore?

She said, “You worry too much.”

And that was my introduction to Dead culture and attitude. There are those in life that soak up the sun, and the kiddie pool, and the beer, and the hamburgers, and their bare feet on the grass, and their college girlfriend, and their tribe that has migrated from a classroom to a backyard in Western Mass . . . and there are those in life that wait for the band to start.

If you’re a Deadhead, or a Friend of a Deadhead, this week on mvyradio, we’re offering a “Friend of the Devil, Friend of mvyradio” t-shirt for a donation. You can support the station, and show your pride in the tribe. And for more Dead, check out Shakedown Stream.

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