Dead50 Envelope art by Terry Larkin

All The Years Combine

Twenty years ago, I was a twenty-year-old Deadhead with no worries beyond growing my small record collection and obtaining tickets for the next Grateful Dead shows. I’d been seeing them for nearly four years, listening for maybe eight, and I’d just come home from the Mardi Gras run in Oakland, California. My t-shirts were strictly music-related, my trousers corduroy, and my hair was a disaster. I had a girlfriend and a 1983 Datsun Sentra. Both were good enough. My life plans involved seeing any and every amazing concert possible; primarily, but not exclusively, Grateful Dead and Phish; and writing about them for any audience that might have eyes for such things. What could go wrong?

I only managed one show on the Grateful Dead’s East Coast Spring Tour that year. Money was tight after my California trip and I was disinclined to quit my record store job, so work took a degree of precedence. After all, Summer Tour mail-order would come around soon enough. But, I had the fortune to be inside the Philly Spectrum when they played the first live “Unbroken Chain”. That’s the way things went. You never knew which show would be the show. You went when you could and enjoyed what you found.

Dance. Wash1. Repeat.

June rolled around and we caught some Phish shows, followed by the annual Dead shows at RFK Stadium and a one-nighter in Pittsburgh. We mail-ordered for Grateful Dead Fall Tour. My 21st birthday coincided with the scheduled Boston run and GDTS set us up with decent seats. Phish mail order soon followed for what was to become a legendary tour. Life was good. Even when it wasn’t. Who could complain about such riches? Continue reading

A Poem

I stood at the Sad
Infinite American
Night’s edge where I blinked

Though fear made me blink
The Infinite surrounds us
Fish can’t fear water

Sadness like a cloak
Dampened by rain keeps us cold
I feared to regret

Unpaved uphill roads
With falling rocks and washouts
lead to gorgeous peaks

Smooth highways beckon
Invent thyself and ramble!
American void

Stare. It won’t stare back
Step forth and wrestle the void
Best hope is a draw

Conventional means
Keep the void roughly arm’s length
Still I probe the edge

Poised on the safe side
Bound by the word I’ve given
Still pushing uphill

Reaping rewards
With the worst of my regrets
vanquished by a blink

Moving On

(Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Leave Phish Behind)

When asked about my favorite music, people who know me are likely to identify two groups: The Grateful Dead and Phish. They’d be half right. Not that anyone should feel remiss for the mistake; my kids would probably offer the same response. The truth is that I have fallen out of love with Phish.

In the 90’s my musical world exploded into full life with The Grateful Dead. A few years later, I saw my first Phish show. Those two became the largest contacts on my radar and so life went for quite some time. Yes, I listened to tons of other stuff. I worked in a record store and amassed a hefty collection of music ranging from Louis Armstrong to ZZ Top. But Phish and The Grateful Dead continued to pull me back and dominate my listening and concert attentions.

The Grateful Dead ended and still I’d play their albums and live shows endlessly. Phish remained on the road and I saw them as often as life would allow and still I wanted to see them even more frequently. I collected tapes (remember tapes?) and CDs of their shows and they too stayed near the top of my playlists even during their hiatus and after their eventual ‘break-up’.

Phish used to jam. As a serious fan, I loved most of their material, including that which does not incorporate jamming, but it was the jamming and wild unpredictability that held my attention with Phish. When Phish came back in 2009, I was as excited as any fan (this blog is my testimony) and I went to the Hampton reunion shows and many more that year. The shows were fun. I had an amazing time reconnecting with old friends and sharing the shows with newer friends as well. But the music was not the highlight.

Last year, I found that listening to new Phish had become a chore. What had been a pleasurable obsession became an annoyance and, at times, I felt guilt about that annoyance. Guilt? Here was one of my so-called favorite bands, returned from rock & roll oblivion, and I couldn’t really enjoy what they were doing. Was it me? Had I changed that much? Had they? Continue reading

2010-10-29

Another day with nothing written, nothing read. I think, sometimes, that my mind has possibly withered and withdrawn to the pint that basic day-to-day functions are all I can muster. Where is my motivation? Where is my ambition?

An excuse that I’ve painted for myself is that I’ve specialized this blog so much that it’s too far off topic for me to just write creatively. It feels like everything should be music related but mummify is not solely music related and, seriously, how many blogs should a guy have to run? So I’m breaking the arbitrary rules and pushing the envelope of my own blog so that it might include my own rants and ramblings. I hope it doesn’t drive too many readers away. I value the attentions of both of you.

Here it is two days before Halloween and I’m not prepared. Phish is about to do their thing in Atlantic City and I’ve made my peace with missing this entire tour. Missing Halloween is easier as I have kids to take out on Sunday; I’ve not seen a Halloween show in memory. I even flew home early from Vegoose in 2005. (Totally worth it, by the way.)

Also on the weekend agenda is a pair of Halloween parties and I have no costume. Not since I was a kid have I felt particularly excited or inspired to dress up for Halloween. I’m not a judgmental prick who thinks it childish or whatever, I just don’t have any internal motivation to assemble a costume. Recent years’ costumes can be credited entirely to my lovely and patient wife. I know I’ve tested that patience with my ambivalence but I cannot drive myself to even conceive a disguise much less assemble it. I do enjoy the parties and other people’s costumes. That stuff is a blast.

Anyway, that is looming heavily over me at this point. Basically 24 hours to get it together. We’ll see if it happens.

As for tonight, I’m trying to get out and tape the local Grateful Dead cover band, The Brokedown Boys. They do some fun, acoustic, Dead with a steel guitar holding down much of the leads. It promises to be a pretty good time. If the tape comes out nicely, I’ll see if I can’t get a bit of it up here soon.

Which reminds me that I promised to post some of the Keller Williams Electronic Experiment show up here. That tape came out nicely (last I checked.) I just haven’t had the time + motivation to finish off the transfer. Very soon that will get done along with Gayngs and more.

Last thing. Recently, I was tuned on to a band called Junip. Their current album is entitled “Fields” and it is really great. Don’t sleep on that. Also, I’m looking forward to a show in a couple weeks that promises to destroys faces; Tame Impala with Stardeath And White Dwarfs. Should be a heavy dose of psyche to get the minds right for the impending holidaze.