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  • FIVE STORIES

    Posted on August 1st, 2013 uncle john 1 comment

    These five stories were written in one day at a recent writing class in June with Cheryl Strayed, author of “WILD”.
    They are enclosed verbatim with some added facts. Quotes above titles are by Cheryl.

    “As weird as you are, trust others are just as weird.
    KNOCKIN’ ON HEAVEN’S DOOR

     

    “Write about finding yourself doing something you thought you could never do.”
    SEQUIN ART

     

    You can win people over better with love, kindness, generosity, light & goodness rather than hate. Lose yourself in the questions & find the answers through your writing. You put yourself into your writing & it changes you. Writing will heal you.”

    QUEST FOR HUMAN COMPLETION

    “Write about animated objects or the ordinary miraculous.”

    ROCK STORIES

    “The deeper you go, the truer it gets.”

    JOURNEY TO MINNESOTA

    The first four of these stories are prompts Cheryl gave to us. The purpose of this fifth story is to share why I took this class with her. Too many times in life I have started things without finishing, projects still standing waiting for completion. One of these is visiting all fifty states in the country where I live. I have a play I started, a book for teachers, a memoir, works of poetry, songs in the air, etc… Cheryl inspired me to read her book “WILD” with this encouragement to be a writer: “Writing is hard for every last one of us. Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They simply dig!”

  • Counting Stars By Candlelight

    Posted on May 26th, 2012 uncle john No comments

    The darkness of the hour brings us to the moment of the dawn of Terrapin. On Sunday there is a “ring of fire”, a solar eclipse of a new moon blocking the sun. Phil Lesh & friends gather together at Terrapin Crossroads for a night of free music. On Tuesday, there is a rare blackout in northern San Rafael, that is a Godsend to me and others to attend this night of free music. Patrons listen, artists draw, and workers are in sync, while the musicians, Phil Lesh, John Kadlecik and Jon Graboff are lifting the spirit of everyone in this great atmosphere. The night begins with a wine tasting. Around 9pm Phil & Company are playing in the bar and singing together on tunes we all find familiar. How sweet it is!
    They decide to play another night for free. I am driving through San Rafael listening to “Dark Star” and as soon as I reach the parking lot all the lights go out. It is an area-wide power blackout. I go inside as more candles are being lit. People wait patiently, and the crowd, as usual, is talkative. Someone mentions the crescent moon and bright star and I head out back to see. It’s a brilliant sky and there is a crescent moon in the northwest and a bright planet surrounded by the dim stars of dusk. To my left are glass windows looking into the Terrapin Crossroads dining room where there is a grand assortment of candlelit lights and to my right is the canal below the Yacht Club where the water is rippling. There is the din of the crowd inside but Terrapin Station the song comes to mind and I sing here quietly,
    “Inspiration move me brightly
    Light the song with sense and color
    Hold away despair
    More than this I will not ask
    Faced with mysteries dark and vast
    Statements just seem vain at last
    Some rise some fall some climb to get to Terrapin
    Counting stars by candlelight
    All are dim but one is bright
    The spiral light of Venus
    Rising first and shining best
    From the northwest corner
    Of a brand new crescent moon
    Crickets and cicadas sing
    A rare and differ’nt tune
    Terrapin Station
    In the shadow of the moon
    Terrapin station
    And I know we’ll be there soon
    Terrapin – I can’t figure out
    Terrapin – if it’s an end or the beginning
    Terrapin – but the train’s got its brakes on
    and the whistle is screaming – Terrapin”
    Standing in the reflection of the candlelight’s glow, Jill Lesh passes by me outdoors while I’m still eyeing the moon and listening to the ripple in the water. What a place this is!
    The power outage continues and the electric instruments and microphones are replaced with stools and acoustic guitars and a whole lot of big candles. As Venus sets in the sky the musicians take the stage. They are facing the unique challenge of singing in a garrulous crowd with the hope to be heard. People respond from their hearts and someone exclaims “Just when we thought it couldn’t get better, we get a candlelit acoustic performance.” How blessed we are. As Phil tunes up, the crowd quiets down and he encourages them to keep up their banter. “I haven’t started yet” he shouts.  When they do begin there’s clarity in the darkness.
    Picking their acoustic guitars and using their voices as instruments they give us a very special night. It is a quiet audience loving every minute here, and often joining in the chorus sing-along. The culmination of this seventy minute set is an incredible acoustic version of Bob Dylan’s “Visions of Johanna” a song he wrote the night of the great Northeastern blackout in November of 1965, that I remember. Dylan, at the Chelsea Hotel with his pregnant wife, describes the events of that night he calls “the great freeze-out” in his gifted poetic way. Jill sits on the stairway listening to Phil play, Jon hum and John sing “Visions of Johanna” with conviction in the passion of what’s happening now.
    “Ain’t it just like the night to play tricks when you’re tryin’ to be so quiet?
    We sit here stranded, though we’re all doin’ our best to deny it……”
    The crowd reacts when he sings:
    “The ghost of electricity howls in the bones of her face
    Where these visions of Johanna have now taken my place.”
    John K. is like a genius who sparks, the way he plays his guitar mirroring the candlelight’s reflections, his angelic voice and sure-fire sound. JG plays great Johnny Cash and I love that we love the same songs. Phil is healthy, intuitive, full of the unexpected, without anticipation,  filling the void of spaces and empty nests with a timely prepared spontaneous tune lighting our hearts in the darkness with the sunshine of his love.

  • LEAPING INTO 2012

    Posted on February 29th, 2012 uncle john No comments

    LEAPING…BLOG TO BE POSTED:

    Let’s skip Saturday night……..

  • BORN TO RISE

    Posted on February 22nd, 2012 uncle john 4 comments

    We’re in a room of a thousand eyes. Kaela and I are waiting in the front row to meet Lana Del Rey. She has just finished performing five songs from her new debut album, “Born To Die”, including the title cut, an orchestral arrangement of nostalgic art, that is the best song on her new album. She understands the concept that fits us: We were all born naked and no one gets out of here alive. Her songs strike a familiar chord wrapped in the common thread of our mortality. Lana is a truth seeker. Her energy is vibrant and alive. Her songs are sensuous as she is graceful.
            Haight Street in San Francisco is bustling with tourists and someone asks me this afternoon why there seems to be a lot of scantily-clad girls about. “Well, it hit nearly 70 degrees today and people dress for the weather here”. It’s February and winter hasn’t come yet, according to the bees, who produced a second honey harvest here; according to the winter flowers that haven’t bloomed yet; according to the birds still waiting to go; according to the sky’s lack of wet winter weather; and according to the garden plants still replenishing us with food. This global warming, or whatever you want to call these changing weather patterns, is not a good thing for the balance of nature. We are enjoying these gorgeous days though!
    Kaela is in San Francisco to work today and meets me on Haight Street, named after Henry Haight, a banker who donated land here to start an orphanage , and who was the uncle of the tenth Governor of California.  Kaela reminds me of what the neighborhood can be like, how she loved our Victorian apartment where we lived on Fillmore Street. For her and the other young kids growing up in the neighborhood, there were hard days too. “My brother’s bike got robbed over there. My little sister got lost at the Carousel in the park; and I was playing a game with a black girl across our street in a big cardboard box and some angry guy came by and kicked the box and split my head open.” In the nineteenth century when the orphanage flourished here, before it became a residential district, they shepherded over 3500 children giving housing to kids in need, and as many as 300 kids were housed in dormitory-style rooms on Haight Street, and some of these children were adopted, and those that stayed received training and job skills so when they left the orphanage at 17, they were also given seed money to start a trade, like carpentry or dressmaking. The orphanage moved to another part of San Francisco in the twentieth century and still serves children in need today.
    I heard about Lana Del Rey in an email last year and checked out her song “Video Games” and I understand its instant success. In “Born To Die” she touches a truth in us all and the mood swings like a pendulum of changes in a fountain of controversy. She is the latest buzz I tell my stepdaughter inviting her to meet her after hearing her for the first time. It is Kaela’s birthday yesterday and she lets a girl cut in front of us whose birthday is today. We’re at the bottom of the stairs at Amoeba Records waiting for Lana Del Rey. Listening to her sing live in a small room of records is a special treat and she sounds marvelous as she is elegant. I been doing vocal exercises recently by listening to vocal scales and she takes sound to a new level for me. She is a a colorful natural contralta, a  sultry voice of dark high wit.
    The full moon outdoors is on the other side of Venus and Uranus, visible in the sky tonight, so I brought my telescopic binoculars. “I’m so done with drugs,” Kaela announces after the show. “I’m ready to do something, run an office, do PR, interior designing, you know I can do almost anything,”like get us in the front row. She’s nearly the tallest, and sometimes the loudest, girl in the room. She can do, what takes me a month, in a day. She’s intuitive, not invulnerable, honest, not gullible.
    Suddenly the security guard asks “How did we get from the bottom to the top (of the stairs)? 300 different people standing behind us like her different songs, and the crowd gathered gives Lana Del Rey a warm welcome. Lana wants to have a picture taken with the birthday girl and they ask Kaela to take the picture with the girl’s camera. Lana Del Rey is shining, yet down-to-earth, cordial and attentive. I thank her for the live show, introduce myself and tell  her my musical beginnings were in New York at Bensalem, Fordham’s experimental college. “I went to Fordham University” Lana informs me. She studied metaphysics there. She has a genuine interest in choir-like music and writes all the songs on her album, with help of about seven friends. Besides philosophy, Lana is also interested in the literary arts and was once Arts Editor for her school newspaper. “How was it for you? ” she asks me.
      “It was a time of transformation. Bensalem was a unique experiment and experience that gave us complete academic freedom and opened up creative and innovative possibilities that took us beyond the classroom. A group of us students, inspired by the Grateful Dead, formed a musical acting troupe, and I wrote a play for this troupe ‘In Search Of The Candlemaker’ performed off-Broadway (in 1971). We later participated in a CBS-TV documentary, ‘Tomorrow’s People’.”
    So who is Lana Del Rey? According to Vogue, she chose this career name while in Miami, because it reminded her & her friends of the glamour of the seaside. Live, it’s her voice that mesmerizes us! She is not some vacuous party girl along for the ride, but an intelligent confident woman devoted to her work and to community service. For the past six years, she and her sister have been working as a grassroots homeless outreach, helping street people in New York get their identification and paperwork together to find jobs and transition back to normal life.
    I gesture to the sign behind us next to the Keep On Truckin’ poster and read out loud “Grateful Dead”, and we part smiling.

  • SIMPLE TWIST OF TIME

    Posted on December 29th, 2011 uncle john 2 comments

    SIMPLE TWIST OF TIME
    Midnight, Saturday night, the show begins, according to the clock on stage. Our ticket says 9 o’clock. The paper said 8:30 and we arrive at 8 o’clock as the doors open. We just come from dinner and on the way watch barefoot dancers, moving their hands in the air as they dip and rise to the West African hand beat of djembe drums. It’s a fascinating dance, and watching their rhythms in motion makes you want to emulate what they’re doing, and they’re dripping in sweat. We’re in Arcata, California for a show with the Mickey Hart Band at the renovated Arcata Theatre. This former movie theatre has been transformed into an ideal space for dancing and sound, with high ceilings, places to mingle and socialize, and room to dance in this well designed venue.
    Alex shares that he’s seen Mickey Hart at the Giants game in August and he relates a story of a softball game between the Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Airplane at a park in Fairfax in the sixties. I ask him if he saw Kelly Slater surf in San Francisco last month and he answers no, just the waves. He was out riding the surf. “November 6th, April 12th, that was the last time I seen waves like this”, Alex says. Certain events, like a concert, or a maverick wave, help us to remember a specific time.  
    The only clock, Mickey is following, is on stage and it is set slightly in the future. The music begins with light and stars and when “Scarlet Begonias” is ignited it gets everyone into their dancing shoes.
    Seasons transpose time, and winter begins early as the tour starts after Thanksgiving, but the increasing erratic weather patterns suggest that winter will be late this year. Winter in the northern hemisphere is summer in the south. The hours and temperatures are different all over the planet. Music has many elements and a simple twist of time is set in transcendental motion, much like the song they ended the first set with, “Time Never Ends”, much like love that’s real, does not fade away.
    “Brokedown Palace” is different from any version I’ve heard, real folksy. Mickey has an incredible band backing him, soulful, intuitive, inspirational, with Crystal Monee Hall on vocals, and acoustic guitar on this song, Tim Hockenberry on a variety of backing instruments and vocals, guitarist, bass, keyboard and two percussionists add to the circular sound. Mickey pounding the tablets, and playing the i-beam, a long piece of aluminum with a dozen piano strings, reaches for a different resonance, and uses the computer to transpose sound, transform minds, and look further into space via sound, and immortality in the music. As the siren of Venus dances nearby, Mickey rises and closes with “Fire On The Mountain”, in the spirit of Jerry Garcia it’s like a little back kick, set to music, with an extra heart beat. In motion, there is unity and harmony, much like the circle of people that formed after the show. Regardless of the day’s events, or one’s mood, there is only a positive vibration here.

  • THE MUSIC NEVER STOPPED

    Posted on October 7th, 2011 uncle john 4 comments

    THE MUSIC NEVER STOPPED

    WATCH THE MOVIE!!!

  • DANCING IN THE STREET

    Posted on October 1st, 2011 uncle john 4 comments

    Dancing In the Street

    The beat in the street began in L.A. in the early sixties at the beatnik beach scene in Marina Del Rey and east up Slauson Street, where the musicians gathered outside to play jazzy soulful rock and the neighbors created a new dance, and spreading across America, people began dancing in the street. They were doing it to the Motown sound in Detroit, shuffling in Baltimore and D.C., rockin’ in the city of Chicago and the village of New York, and street danced every time I been to New Orleans; and in Philly, for a week at the Tower Theatre I remember the Grateful Dead doing “Dancing in The Street” and lit up the floor with contagious energy each night. They’ve been playin’ this song since 1966. This sound first came on the radio in 1964 recorded by Martha and the Vandellas. The year before, Round Robin, Darlene Love, The Turtles & others were bringing new sounds & creating new steps in the streets of south L.A. When I first moved to California in 1971 I lived in Redondo Beach, about a dozen miles south of this scene. And in the decade before when it was happening, I was a teenager with his ear glued to my radio each day. After school I’d head upstairs to the attic over the garage and listen to the latest old and new songs & everyday I would make up my own top ten favorite songs of the day. When I heard “Kick That Little Foot Sally Ann” it immediately made my top ten. I saw Round Robin, who recorded this song, on the Lloyd Thaxton show on TV, with singers & sax, doing a dance they called The Slauson. I went out and bought the 45 record. The flip side has an instrumental “Slauson Party”. I remember this dance because of the little kick of the choreographed line, while Round Robin sang and snapped his fingers. In my later teenage years I was introduced to a song and dance I really liked, “Electric Slide” at a wedding, and it had some similar steps. Today you find much of the hip hop sound in these same neighborhood streets, and when crossing Crenshaw and Slauson streets in L.A., folks in modern day, you tubers and all, call the slauson the salsa now.
    Kick that little foot Sally, Sally
    Kick that little foot Sally Ann.
    Kick that little foot Sally, Sally,
    Do the slauson Sally Ann.

    Well I saw Sally at the party
    (Kick that little foot, Sally Ann)
    A-looking lonely as can be
    (Kick that little foot, Sally Ann)
    She said, I don’t know how to slauson
    (Kick that little foot, Sally Ann)
    I said, get up from that chair and follow me.

    Kick that little foot Sally, Sally
    Kick that little foot Sally Ann.
    Kick that little foot Sally, Sally,
    Do that slauson Sally Ann.

    Well Sally got up on the dance floor.
    (Kick that little foot Sally Ann)
    By the second dance she was a-doing fine.
    (Kick that little foot Sally Ann)
    And now they call her queen of the slauson
    (Kick that little foot Sally Ann)
    You can’t get her out of that slauson line.

    Kick that little foot Sally, Sally
    Kick that little foot Sally Ann.
    Kick that little foot Sally, Sally,
    Do that slauson Sally Ann.
    (Instrumental break)
    Kick that little foot Sally, Sally,
    Kick that little foot Sally Ann.
    Kick that little foot Sally, Sally,
    Do that slauson Sally Ann.

  • WHEN THE MUSIC HITS THE AIR

    Posted on June 3rd, 2011 uncle john 2 comments

    May 7, 2011

    The day begins with a hummingbird’s song in the air, then a long morning walk, part of the annual Human Race in San Rafael, to help raise awareness and support for local non-profits, education, caregivers and groups that provide community services and help for people with developmental disabilities. Our walk (or run or roll) is around the Civic Center lagoon and the Marin Center fairgrounds and there are musical groups singing in the open air, and volunteer cheerleaders along the way to encourage those not used to this early morning walk, and we circle the Marin center where Bob Weir is playing with the Symphony tonight, a unique experiment called “First Fusion”. I was apprehensive about going because of a stigma about symphony orchestras. When I was a kid, my dad would make me watch TV whenever a concert symphony or opera was on so I could “get culture”. I never did care for Lawrence Welk or a Leonard Bernstein composition and I generally avoid symphonies for this reason. Bob Weir changed my mindset about what to listen for in music. This was called longhair music before the Beatles and is enjoyed mainly by squares. My kids were raised without television and followed their own musical instincts, and danced ballets, Michael Jackson or with a skateboard. This night would be a night of redemption and healing for me.

    This is the same stage, I’ve seen many times “The Nutcracker” was performed on, and recollect like yesterday Jerry Garcia’s Band playing and Robert Hunter nearby. Of course we’re all seated for the performance, as are the musicians, except for the conductor and Bob Weir. Tonight there is a jury of singers, two rows of six vocalists dressed in black and white and it’s a swingin’ singin’ symphony, better than a Walt Disney silly one, and stirs up rich moments remembering Kubrick’s musical journey through 2001: A Space Odyssey. The theme of this first set, like a concertino, with many supportive instruments, violins, strong bass and keys building towards the concerto, as we listen to the melody with great harmony, and unity, as the tones set the color and the musical texture. Bobby gets the rhythm in motion and we listen to the combined effect, the inextricable web of timbre sound as it’s deeply rooted. “A perfect Cassidy/Bird Song sandwich!” someone says at break. The highlight of the first set for me is “Row Jimmy”. This song was built for this bigger band and it’s about square dancing the dopaso. The orchestra gives this song color and texture while the Grateful Dead version is more of an outline. When the music hits the air magic happens. This opening segment is called “Raising the Dead” and it opens a flood of memories, of seeing Jerry Garcia for the first time at a play called “Tarot” in New York City, written by early Grateful Dead keyboardist Tom Constanten, and Jerry appears in this musical play as a guest guitarist.
    I was a student teacher and attended the show with a half dozen other student teachers who shared a house in the Bronx. The play was a dramatic composition of musical vignettes, a terrapin, lovers walking in a magical forest, maidens waltzing, the birthing scene, the mystic carpenter and the space voyage, and then climax came when a trap door opens for the raising of the dead with orchestral sounds, horns and flutes, and amazing light show. The group of us returned home that night totally inspired to do a similar thing. Interesting conversation developed and I started writing down the dialogue around the table and assigning characters to describe each person’s part and the result a few months later was our own successful off-Broadway play, “Search Of The Candlemaker”. That night after seeing Garcia I started listening to “Workingman’s Dead”, then over and over and then “American Beauty”, an endless inspiration during that season.

    The sounds here are big and Robert Hunter supplies us with the poetry for the evening. He is the musical poet laureate behind Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead and these songs translate and transform, change and heal.
    The second set brings in the full symphony orchestra, more than fifty musicians, and the Quartet San Francisco, with composer-arranger, Dr. Giancarlo Aquilanti conducting, and their fun begins with Playin’ in the Band > Uncle John’s Band > Dark Star (verse 1) > Jack Straw. It’s a perfect progression and the harmony between the two characters in Jack Straw, sung by Bobby and Jeff Chimenti, complement the sound with transposition, and then pause, for the gem “Days Between”. Members from the rock band Ratdog are playing with the symphony tonight. “Dark Star” starts up again (verse 2) > Uncle John’s Band (reprise) > Playin’ In The Band (reprise). One by one the orchestra members get up and leave. Bob walks off, and the Midnight Band vocalists present him with a beautiful bouquet of flowers.

    One by one some of the orchestra returns and then the encore! Only Bob Weir could take a rock ‘n roll song like “One More Saturday Night” and sing it with a symphony orchestra with new vibration and velocity that takes the conductor to new heights. It only makes sense the Grateful Dead would be interested in this kind of arrangement, to do a benefit for the Marin Symphony, and education, and draw from their roots and background and friends, and “Ripple” fits here perfectly. The closing song “Attics of My Life”, a capella, brings the very best moment of the night. Members of tonight’s group stand together in a beehive circle while Bob walks to the piano and hits a note several times, then slowly walks in front to the center of the group, and waits for silence in the audience to begin to sing. It is a moment to savor of ultimate absolute peace, peace of mind, silence without sound, peace of heart, unity in spirit, perfect harmony among the singers of the song, vocal chords as a coalition of instruments, planting poetry in the heart, peace in sound, humming along, a song, with voices in the air, with love and care, for all listeners with an ear to hear. This first fusion brought us to this oneness and opens the realm of musical possibilities.

  • THUNDER IN THE SOUND!

    Posted on October 5th, 2010 uncle john 7 comments

      BOB DYLAN’S NEVERENDING TOUR

    “Thunder on the mountain, rollin’ like a drum
    Gonna sleep over there, that’s where the music coming from
    I don’t need any guide, I already know the way
    Remember this, I’m your servant both night and day.”

     Bob Dylan and his band return to the seaside town of Monterey and fill the Fairgrounds with a sold-out seated crowd. Dylan’s music, rather than showmanship, always surprises how good he and his band are, and knowing his songs by heart, that part of him is always open, searching the air with old melodies, new revelations, singing vintage songs with a fresh breath, igniting sounds, as the watchman passes, as new & familiar phrases flow through our ears, and the world nearby seems like “The Truman Show”.

    I feel privileged to be on the balcony of the hotel where I’m staying, directly behind the Fairgrounds stage, about four hours before the show, when Dylan’s band does a sound check and they do the best and loudest version of “All Along The Watchtower” I have ever heard. Maybe because this is where Jimi Hendrix once performed that song it seems so electric, thundering hot, the music on fire, and the loud fire engines that are going by during this song drill seem to add exuberance to the musical mix. I call my daughter on the phone to let her listen in. This is the first song she wanted to learn when she got a guitar. I am amazed at the length and strength of the song and grateful to hear it as it’s not performed in tonight’s set.

    When Bob Dylan is introduced about three hours later, a booming voice, with a long red carpet welcome, sounds like thunder coming from the sky. Bob takes the stage and the crowd is pleased when he opens with “Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35” and “To Ramona” seems like a new song but really is an old one they were rehearsing this day. Everything he sings, no matter its age, sounds fresh and new in a familiar melody. He is in tune with his current audience. He recites his poetry in songs that are honest as the day and night are long. He sings to us about lessons in history.  Like the song, “The Battle Of New Orleans”, recorded by Johnny Horton, and written by Jimmie Driftwood, a high school principal who got students interested in learning history by communicating his lessons through music. It encouraged my interest in history then and when I heard this song on “American Bandstand” I started listening to rock ‘n roll. Dylan has songs like that to teach us from the lessons of life around us, and tonight he performs “The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll”, a true story that happened in Baltimore in the early sixties. The New York Times calls this song “almost journalistic”.  Suddenly, as Bob is singing “sailed through the air”, an airplane  appears in the twilight sky without a sound, like a bolt of lightning before the thunder,  comes flying through, making a landing so close it seems the runway is a layer of air over our heads, but Dylan continues in a staccato beat and the lyrics communicate a lesson to us like one from Proverbs. The band continues with a rocking “Cold Irons Bound”.  Bob Dylan, the poet and bard, has always been a Biblical spiritual individual, from the early days at the beginning of the sixties decade to now. He humbly continues to share his talent with us. “Every Grain Of Sand” touches the hearts of the people here, and then the band lights up the place with “Highway 61 Revisited”, a song he’s been revisiting a long time, and we’re really pleased that he does “Shelter From The Storm” tonight and then “Thunder On The Mountain”. A giant shadow of Bob appears on the back screen and the crowd is lifted to its feet as the chords of “Ballad Of A Thin Man” rock the grounds under a full moonlit sky. Bob plays the harp to frame his taunting lyrics of Mr. Jones to close the show, and everyone is rocking to the beat. The final encore comes with his new “Together Through Life” song, “Jolene”, then, like a rocket ignited, with the spotlight on the crowd, the parting pleaser, “Like A Rolling Stone”.

      
  • TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLPARK

    Posted on September 6th, 2010 uncle john 55 comments

    JERRY GARCIA'S DAUGHTER ANABELLE

    NATIONAL ANTHEM
    VOCALISTS PHIL LESH. BOB WEIR & JEFF PEHRSON
    BILL WALTON AND MICKEY HART

     

    IN THE CRAWL SPACE BEHIND THE SCOREBOARD
    SIGNPOST

    ON THE FIELD FAIR TERRITORY

    RIGHT FIELD! LOOK! UP IN THE AIR! IS IT A BIRD? IS IT A PLANE? IT'S A SUPER FLY!

    IT’S A GIANTS WORLD!

    THE WHEEL IS TURNING TOWARD JERRY GARCIA GIANTS TRIBUTE NIGHT

    SAN FRANCISCO

    On August 9, 2010, the San Francisco Giants hosted a Jerry Garcia tribute night. It is the fifteenth anniversary of his death and there is a pre-game party behind the scoreboard near Triples Alley and a Grateful Dead cover band plays live music. Mickey Hart and Bill Walton share some memories of Jerry. Mickey talks about Garcia’s upbeat humor that kept a smile on their faces much of their time together. Mickey also shares the story behind the song “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” written in 1908 as a love story in which baseball decides the fate of a young couple. Everyone knows the chorus but Mickey fills us in on the lyrics written by Tin Pan Alley composer Jack Norworth (the music later added by Albert von Tilzer). In the song Katie Casey’s beau calls to ask her out to a show. She accepts the date but only if he will take her out to the ballgame.

     “Katie Casey was baseball mad
    Had the fever and had it bad.
    Just to root for the hometown crew,
    Ev’ry cent Katie blew.
    On a saturday her young beau
    Called to see if she’d like to go
    To see a show, but Miss Kate said, ‘No,
    I’ll tell you what you can do.’
    Take me out to the ballgame,
    Take me out with the crowd
    Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks
    I don’t care if I never get back
    Let me root, root, root for the home team
    If they don’t win, it’s a shame
    For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out
    At the old ballgame.”

    In the seventh inning stretch Grateful Dead drummers Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart join with Bill Walton to lead over 40,000 people, over 9000 of them with kazoos, into humming or singing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame”.  It’s a world record-breaking event. The previous largest ensemble of kazoo players was at a Christian Youth conference in Salt Lake City in the summer of 2008 when over 5000 hummed the lyrics to “Amazing Grace” on their kazoos. You don’t blow into the instrument, you hum into it. It adds a buzzing timbral quality to a player’s voice. It’s a vocal instrument like a singing drum. It’s been used in jug bands and by some jazz artists. The Mills Brothers, known for their vocal harmonies, began in vaudeville as a kazoo quartet with one brother on guitar. A kazoo is used in the recording of “San Francisco Bay Blues” by Jesse Fuller in 1962 and again by Eric Clapton on MTV.  Kazoos can be heard on the Grateful Dead’s early album, “Anthem Of The Sun”. I am able to go onto the ball field before the game, in right field, a position I played in Little League. I am right-handed yet I bat left-handed because my Dad, who is left-handed, taught me that way. I wasn’t a good hitter but a few years later realized I could switch sides and it was much easier to make contact with the ball from the other side. In a ceremony before the start of the game, The San Francisco Giants donate $40,000 to the Rex Foundation, started by Grateful Dead members as a non-profit charitable organization to support endeavors and projects that build community, a healthy environment and educate people.  Phil Lesh and Bob Weir are joined by Furthur vocalist Jeff Pehrson to sing the National Anthem. Jerry Garcia’s daughter Annabelle throws out the first pitch. Madison Bumgarner, who has the same birthday as Jerry, takes the pitcher’s  mound for the Giants. It is a tie game after nine innings but the north side of California’s San Francisco Giants prevail to beat Chicago’s south side Cubs in a spectacular night for fans of the Grateful Dead and America’s pastime game of baseball.