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    Spent a little Time on the Mountain

    Last night was my first visit to Red Rocks in Morrison, Colorado. This venue is regarded as one of the hallowed temples of rock and roll a la Winterland or Filmore East. People talk about having gone to Red Rocks akin to visiting a sacred shrine. You know what? I get it! It was the first show of a three night run. I arrived at Red Rocks having left the freeway and began driving up a mountain suddenly surrounded by the most beautiful RED-hued rocks. As I wind up the hill, I begin seeing members of “the tribe” in their show night regalia. I have always wondered, where do all these people suddenly emerge from in these wild and wondrous costumes of delight featuring tie-dye everything. Many, many men don t-shirts from previous shows emblazoned with dates and the Grateful Dead's iconic symbols of steal your face, dancing bears, skulls and roses, lightening bolts and wolves. These t-shirts, no matter how torn or tattered are worn like merit badges, quietly announcing to the world, “I was at this show.” Which, of course, the true experts of Grateful Dead musicology or showology will tell you exactly what the set list was for each of those t-shirt-shows and how the band performed that night.

    As I wind up the hill, I begin seeing these extreme pieces of jagged mountain rocks jutting out of the earth. It looks like someone used a chainsaw, sliced them and turned them on their edges reaching toward the sky. It's stunning and puzzling because the landscape around them looks like high-desert chaparral. I walk-hike from where I’ve parked to wherever the amphitheater might be, which I haven’t seen yet. And, here they are…the happiest, friendliest people I ever encounter. Lots of smiles, lots of nice comments and greetings. Everyone is excited and in a jolly mood filled with hope for what the evening may bring. As I pass clusters of people, conversations are peppered with reminiscing of previous shows and anticipation and assurances of what the band will play that night. I stop to take some pictures and no-one says "no." Everyone is proud of their outfit, the songs they’re singing, the stuff they’re selling on the side of the road. I met Katie today, who is about 25 years old, she asked me if I’d ever seen a show with Jerry? Well, yes, of course, I had. She told me she was a teenager and her parents wouldn’t allow her to go to Grateful Dead shows. Sometimes I have to remind myself that for many people, a FURTHUR show is the 'the' thing, not just the 'next' thing. And, I realize the impact of not only the sacred music, but of the temporary communities that spring up around these shows. There’s an interesting orchestration that goes along with these shows that I’ve always marveled at – the show dates are announced, word spreads, tickets are purchased and the fans begin making their plans to join old friends and new for a few hours or a few days of respite from the regular worlds they inhabit.

    An enormous source of speculation is always about what song the band will sing first. I don’t ever recall being disappointed – it’s just the song they chose to open with. Last night they opened with IKO IKO, a much-covered New Orleans Mardi Gras tale. It was a sweet evening of song and cheer. The stand-out songs for me were, Cold, Rain & Snow, Ramble On Rose, Box of Rain and The Wheel. It's always a treat when there's a surprise special guest as was Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes, who opened the second set with Bob Dylan's, You Ain't Going Nowhere. He crooned right into Hard to Handle and Two Souls in Communion. As Chris was leaving the stage, I was reminded of the "brotherhood" these musicians must share as he gave each band member a warm hug with a big happy grin on his face.

    There were a few songs I would have liked to have heard last night. I heard others saying the same thing. It occurred to me that this is not a one shot deal. The shows don't stand alone by themselves. They are each part of a continuum. Several non-Grateful Dead-loving friends could not believe I would hear the same band three nights in a row, never mind seven nights in eight days. I tried to explain that each show is its own little world. It won't be replicated the same way again. Not in the same venue, not in the same order and not with the same fans, who help feed the experiences with their loyalty and boundless energy. Each show contributes to part of the history, which is being updated each night. It was a great show to begin my adventure. I'm in complete agreement! This venue carved in the mountain-side of the red rocks is worthy of a little divine adoration.



    It's been nearly four months since Furthur parted the heavens at Shoreline in June. The rain never came as they brought down the house with a rousing opener of Here Comes the Sun. Every single fan was soaked with joy as the harmonies found their groove and the guitar amps teetered at "11!" From the thunderous tale of Jack Straw into an awe-inspiring Bertha; night #1 found us on our feet for the entire show. Night #2 was one of the most spectacular shows I’ve ever been part of. I say “been part of” because It felt like a true night of synergy, when the band gave to the audience in spades and the audience approved and approved and approved! This “follow Furthur” idea evolved from being at those shows. I'll bet nearly every fan who’s ever attended a show can share these sentiments; “wow, this is the best time I’ve had a in a long time, this really feeds my soul, wouldn’t it be great if I could follow them on the road?” They had already announced the early Fall tour dates and I thought, “why not, how many shows can I go to without disrupting my family and my ‘real’ life too much?” As I watched all the happy strangers having such a great connection with each other and the music, I thought it would be fun to write about what it’s like to go to a show – solo and immersed with a sea of like-minded revelers. And so, the FIRE FROM THE ICE blog idea was born.

    For a while during the second night of the June shows, somewhere between Tennessee Jed and Shakedown Street, I was trying to remember what the show would sound like if Jerry was the front man on the stage. And, suddenly, I couldn't put the sounds together in my head. I've seen Furthur many times in the past couple of years. Their sound, with added vocals by Jeff Pehrson and Sunshine Becker, the solo drummer, Joe Russo, the mission-driven fingers of Jeff Chimenti, the guitar mastery of John Kadlecik and Bob Weir and Phil Lesh are the members of one band that’s moving the music of the Grateful Dead forward. It's the sound I now seem to gravitate toward and crave. When the show was over and we were numb with excitement and every bone ached from dancing, we had one of those typical parking lot experiences that only happens when Dead-heads convene. With the comic privilege of VIP parking, we found ourselves essentially held hostage in the front parking lot until every other fan departed. Much to our delight, parked a few spaces from us, was a giant RV with an iPod speaker system on steroids. And, lo and behold, they were blasting a Grateful Dead show from 1987. And, there was Jerry, sweet Jerry! And I suddenly remembered the sound and I knew the difference between the sounds. It was an unexpected juxtaposition of entertainment. But, it worked. And, after an hour of parking lot dancing and Frisbee throwing, we were on our way, with a bit of nostalgia thrown into the mix.

    Enough with tripping down memory lane. This week-long experiential blog, this adventure, is about now. About watching summer turn into fall, about the starting of the school year; and about the gumption of one woman willing to leave her daughters and UI desiger start-up husband to hit the road for a week of song, cheer and merriment. A week to let my soul breathe and rejoice. From Red Rocks to Las Vegas, to Los Angeles, to Monterey, the songs will carry me from venue-to-airport-to-venue. I know I’ll travel with a tribe of family strangers. Many of whom have been on a tour before. We'll all arrive ready to share a good time and with plenty of dance in our feet. Let’s share the experience.


    Launching...Fire From The Ice


    Red Rocks, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Monterey County

    Relishing and reliving the music

    of the Grateful Dead


    Blog launches on: 01 October 2011

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