Project: Upon turning 50 years old on August 16, 2020, Dave Olson (me, hello) is posting a photo (or maybe photos) a day / per year – starting with 1970 with intent of chronicling existence through various primary evidence sourced from studio portraits, class photos, ID / passport photos, or occasionally other “casual/group/random” shots when the above don’t exist in my archive (note: not “artificial intelligence,” really me, pulled from shoeboxes, journals, wallets and whatnot – diligently scanned and dated via glasses and haircuts, lightly annotated).
Back in the days of rambling around to Grateful Dead shows with pals in various (usually Volkswagen) vehicles, cameras weren’t really part of the kit. Usually, ticket(s) if possible, contraband if practical, maybe extra clothes to accommodate climates, hopefully a few bucks.
However, as part of my documentary instincts, i hauled along a tripod and a 35mm Alpa camera for taking “family photos” in which i would cajole (with much whingeing usually) the assembled renegades to pose, i’d hit the timer and run back (as such usually right in front) and take 1 and only 1 shot. Years later these would usually get developed.
Many are lost to the fog, however, some are gathered here for posterity and memorial.
recently shot clips of 23 marching bands at Victoria Day parade in Victoria (natch) and was flashing back to hauling bass drum or marimba through Bridgeview for parades with no audience. they were marching bands and now drum bugle corps per se but made me think of the hijinks with all the Pacific Blue weirdos, circa 1983-4.
anyhow, curiously wondered how our drum line would stack up (better than all i am sure!) and enjoyed some flashbacks to the many parades (enjoyed memories more than hauling mallets or bass drum) and sure enough, found a photo… of the lamest parade ever… an early morning in Bridgeview with almost no one on the streets. We were yelled at by woken up residents, and joined in the parade mostly by kids with wagons and dogs.
Behold, evidence including rare snaps of legendary Rob Loewen and the witty Bill Odribege + more renegades.
Who doesn’t love a parade? The folks in Bridgeview (Surrey, BC) that who.
Ya see… once upon a time, me and some of my finest friends played in a “drum and bugle corps” – no it’s not like a marching band, marching bands are for dorks, drum corps is for musicians :-)
Anyway, in a sorta-political quest to gain favour to build a new bingo hall in Bridgeview, we did a parade in that section of Surrey, also known as “Turf City” at the foot of the dangerously sloppy Pattulo bridge.
People were not on the street and actually came out of their houses to yell at us for waking them up. But that wasn’t near the pain that I felt from trying to carry that marimba with the sh!tty harness and march in step with my bow-legged, duck-footed legs.
Noteworthy in the snapshot is my pal Brad and our two instructors Bill and Rob. Those guys seem to enjoy us giving them tons of shit which we were fantastic at. And they taught us a ton about drumming, travelling and life. More to say about those topics but the road and tour were better suited for me than hauling instrument through a crappy neighbourhood.
Once upon a time, I wrangled a community of renegades, weirdos and soul-seekers from various Utah suburbs and old pals from Vancouver area to ramble up to, and rendezvous at the Grateful Dead shows in Eugene, Oregon.
I recall calling the BC boys from a payphone on University of Utah campus declaring they must be there though they were hesitant (best decision). The Utah crew was handpicked but i have no recollection how. There were many ladies i knew from the community college and friends of friends or something. Either way, it was a fine combo of folks.
The Utah contingent for the most part rolled up in my beloved 1974 VW “turtle top” micro bus and Heather’s Subaru, while the BC boys rolled down in Brad Rees’ Datsun with an emergency radiator repair by Chris Gorin’s dad (done with a garden hose and zip ties if i recall correctly).
The ride up, mostly straight through from Provo to Eugene was a rollicking affair to begin with – between the soon-to-be legendary Cary Brown’s drunken revelry and bottle throwing target practice from the side door and various combos of cuddling.
We ambled up and camped in the Eagles (or Lions?) park across the street from Autzen stadium and launched ourselves into the pandemonium of the Dead lot which featured grassroots vendors selling everything from ganja goo balls to liquid LSD to grilled cheese sandwiches and veggie stir fry.
Walking back to out little camp late in the night, and spinning high from a mixed bag of goodness (for my part anyhow), Denise R. and I heard a racket coming from the general area. As we ambled over, i recall saying “wow glad that’s not our camp” but… as it turns out, Cary, who was a psychedelic (among other) veteran far beyond the level of any of us, had decided to take a *warrior’s ration* which spun him to a unprecedented level of strange consciousness which led to him many strange acts from which he could not be persuaded to stop.
Tough and rangy like an angry moose, he trashed my bus, then proceeded to battle a winch on the front the neighbour’s 4X4 with head / he was Jesus, Satan, a ninja and shouting oaths of all manner.
Despite the long suffering, kindly and experienced “talker downers” who with best intentions tried to help, the man was a menace to himself and a danger to others and would not be subdued. My instinct was to get the fck outta there and avoid the bad trip. However, an ambulance drove up and shit got real. My details are a bit hazy but i recall they strapped him down to a board (probably after some sort of injection) and began to haul him to the hospital – Dear thoughtful Denise (who remains a tender and talented caregiver with near magical powers) either insisted on hopping in the ambulance or managed to walk there (again im hazy on this front).
Our comrade was in an ER/intensive care unit (likely still bellowing his epithets) when Marty K. arrived complete with missionary identification and declared he was Cary’s clergy and would “take it from here” – Indeed Marty knew Cary well and managed to secret him away from the hospital (avoiding a bill as well) and the next day Cary had returned to the camp, and sat like a Buddha in my bus/ doors locked – silent and sweating.
The rest of the tribe went in to hear our future in the sounds of Jerry’s soaring guitar, Phil’s bombs, the 2 drum attack, Bob’s staccato rhythm riffs and Brent (who died shortly thereafter) hollering soul singing and keyboard poundings.
Other bits i recall are some of the gang going to sandy coastal Florence for a part of a day trip, Cary not paying gas money because “he was here to be the mechanic” and me limping my battered bus up to BC after the shows to work at a bike shop while the Utahns heading southwards.
Far more important than the chaotic story we all went home with was the bonds we forged between the gangs from both sides of the border which continued through many other Grateful Dead and other festival shows, budding romances and languid river and roadtrips.
Some of the folks remain my fondest friends while others i still follow from a distance.
My comrades who were on the trip can no doubt fill in my hazy gaps and fact checks and add their perspectives – as addled as they may be these years later.
Included are snaps for evidence. Can you pick out the characters?
PS Kathryn, sorry for my big melon blocking your face.
Trevor Erikson Beautiful hippies
Mikala Folb This is a great story! Thanks
Boyd Christensen epic tale!
Tim Tulloch Awesome story DaveO, I fully enjoyed reading it! Great pics too. Thanks for sharing.
Shallom Johnson What a great story
Brenda Van Strepen Love!
Audio from the show: https://archive.org/details/gd90-06-24.sbd.unknown.12092.sbeok.shnf
Chris Gee I found myself wandering the dead lot in wonder. Never before had so many whispered in my ears doses. Mushrooms. It was a symphony of color that night. Searching for my 20 dollar ticket. I woke up in the middle of some gravel lot somewhere between the lions lot and the stadium. Some one had given me a blanket and pillow. I was foggy rather groggy but happy as ever. As I was folding my blanket a fellow was wandering serving breakfast cereal and milk. I enjoyed this gratefully. Yum. A tear came to my eye as I also realized a ticket in my shirt pocket and my 20 bucks gone I was in. Hell yeah here we go. Epic much more tour to follow.
Dave Olson Love your recollections Chris, hope others chime in with their flashbacks. So many more tours, so many more shows – each one a greater adventure than the last. But this is what started our journey and opened our eyes to the circus and the magic. Chris, the stories of your school buses and VW buses and station wagons and crews of folks and your curious ways of keeping gas in the tank are all a huge inspiration man – I’ve been thinking a lot about the cleansing ceremony and your journey with Aya and look forward to learning more.
Chris Gee Yes. The love of the music on highest of levels. Fractals of infinite language one can hear As they flip and turn if your ears and mind are wide open … The bus came by……..when back in van let’s connect when it’s best. Much to share ad well as more research has been done here to assist with what we gave begun. Happy LSD day. !!! One great show was a one named just that. LSD daze …leguna seca daze California. With phish and govt mule?? That’s where I believe I saw bob snot grass ?? Spelling ?? blowing glass the first time and where I could not see the ship in one of those pics where you have not focus but look through. I was pissed. Everyone saw the ship. But did they see the flying dragons over the stage that night ? Hmmm group trip ? Awww who knows!?!
Cory DeMille Best microbus ever!
Bryan Rees I miss that shirt and those jeans make my crotch look huge. This must have been taken at the end of the weekend as Buddy on the left was in the hospital for most of the beginning then slept in the van for 30 hours straight.
Listening to @radiobread’s edit of the new choogle on episode with @scales and #sxsw and live geoff berner’s track “no tobacco” on the bus