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. 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 Robison 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 decide 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 Kendall 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 (avoid a bill i believe) and the next day Cary had returned to the camp, and sat like a Buddha – 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.
Busy festive stretch this weekend: Team 1040 segment, party with folks from Peak radio, Dinosaur Jr. at Commodore, bottling 150 litres of beers, stacking 1/2 cord of firewood, beer & weisswurst at German christmas market, hanging rock n roll artwork,… also Thursday was Topless Gay Love Tekno Party at Rickshaw and Monday/Tuesday was 300 taplist at Alibi Room … i took Wednesday night off.
Posted by Mikala @ 27 April 2011
“I’m not even sure how you describe that,” said Dave, aka Uncle Weed, after Mike Watt had ripped through one of his songs so quickly we were certain his fingers had turned to butter and his bass strings melted along with ‘em. And that’s sayin’ something. Uncle Weed is a MAHOOSIVE Watt fan.
This article originally appeared in the Vancouver Observer as The Music Never Stops: BC Summer Music Festival Guide Redux as part 2 in continuation of a previous article. While some of these shows are past, this will be a handy starting point for next year’s festival season.
Have a fest? Drop a comment.
Here’s the teaser: The Music Never Stops
Not enough fun in chapter 1? Pack the cooler and hit the road for even more tunes in the sun.
Turns out BC is the land of plenty for summer-time music fests. You probably already circled a few faves from: “Musical Dim Sum: A Guide to Small-ish Music Festivals in BC and Washington” now augment with these reinforcements to keep your head melted at just the right temperature.
Line up your calendar and explore the list at: “Musical Dim Sum: A Guide to Small-ish Music Festivals in BC and Washington” and augment with these reinforcements to keep your head melted at just the right temperature.
But don’t delay, the band’s are warming up… just around the next bend.
Soundwave (Ucluelet BC)
Date: July 16 – 18
Blurb: Go deep into the coastal wilderness after evading law enforcement and pack your gear into Mussel beach for monster sound systems and high-end purveyors of electronic music — they say, “Soundwave is a three day Journey Less Ordinary” and point out, “Rough Roads Lead to Smooth People!”
Camping: Short answer = Yes – cheerfully detailed at FAQ
Musically noteworthy: Global talent ranging from Live Sets, to an All Vinyl Shakedown
The Big Day Up (Comox Valley
Date: July 17 – 1:30PM to 11Pm ~ plus an after party in the lodge
Blurb: A one-dayer so doesn’t exactly hit my requirements but a day on Mt Washington on the Island is fun in itself — add music for more goodtimes
Musically Noteworthy: Australia’s Cat Empire headlines a bill with Daniel Wesley
Bonfire Music Festival (Birken — near Pemberton)
Date: July 23-25
Blurb: “The Moon Farm is located in a beautiful mountain valley that gets lots of sunshine”
Musically Noteworthy: “Our stellar lineup of musical performers will appeal to a broad range of the Roots, Groove, Jazz, Funk & Folk audience who are known to appreciate the outdoor festival experience.”
Littlefest (near Slocan)
Date: July 23 & 24
Blurb: “Littlefest is little, with a maximum attendence of 500 folks. This way you can easily find your way around, strike up a conversation with your neighbor, have a drink – while keeping an eye on your kids.”
Camping: Free on-site!
Musically noteworthy: Bands with names like Meatdraw, The Dharmas, Wood Pigeon, and Blackberry Wood, looks like a bit of old-timey, mellow-going, good-times
Bass Coast Project (Squamish)
Date: July 23 – 26
Blurb: Appears to be part yoga retreat, part mud wrestling escape, and part DJ-driven dance o’ rama alongside the river. Limberness awaits. Photos look like a life-changing space cruise.
Camping: I’m guessing yes
Musically Noteworthy: Ummm… just not sure how to answer this — decipher lineup at your leisure
Wild Salmon Fest (Lumby)
Date: July 23 – 25
Blurb: Hang/para-glider fly-up plus music festival in the interior and only $40 wknd which supports wild salmon habitat restoration
Musically noteworthy: Rockin’. Country. Blues.
Under the Volcano (North Vancouver)
Date: Aug. 8th
Blurb: Arts, social change and activism at Cates Park in North Van
Camping: Not officially
Musically noteworthy: Assortment of activist-minded acts including Veda Hilde plus speakers including writer Naomi Klein
Remember Stay hydrated, keep you bottles and bongs on the downlow and have some fun. Did i miss a fest here or in Musical Dim Sum: A Guide to Small-ish Music Festivals in BC and Washington? Make sure to add a comment.
The summer’s already rolling by and the prime of festivals season is nigh — so hook up your tent trailer, fill a growler of microbrews to go with your a flat of Old Style Pilsner and choose your vibe from world-y folk to trance in the wild.
Originally appeared in Vancouver Observer “Uncle Weed’s Dossier” column as “Musical Dim Sum: A Guide to Small-ish Music Festivals in BC and Washington” on July 1st, 2010 with photos (uncredited with apologies as i mostly don’t have any idea who snapped them) along with this teaser:
I went searching for the small time concert gems with on-site camping and eclectic line-ups with a mix of the familiar and musical surprises. Here are the BC treats I found so load up the microbus and hit the road.
Summertime On the Road
Getting there is twice the fun
My fave thing to do come summertime is rolling out to a music festival for some tunes with friends at some splendid locale — letting loose on a grassy knoll and sleeping in tent after a few microbrews to the sound of a distant drum circle. Love it.
Lucky for all of us, BC is filled with funtimes in the summer including music fests. Maybe it’s the grey in the beard but this year, rather than the usual circuit of local civic fairs and folk fests, coupled with a couple trips to The Gorge in Washington for the big festivals, I’m widening my range in search of a few gems which will refresh my soul but still keep me employed by getting me back by Monday.
As such, I went searching for the smalltime treats including onsite camping and eclectic line-ups for a mix of the familiar and musical surprises.
Cascadian Fests Backgrounder
I’ve done my time on Grateful Dead tour starting with a life-changing weekend in Eugene, Oregon 20 years ago.
In the 90s, along with heavy doses of loud shows at dingy bars, I caught plenty of outdoor concert parties including Garcia and Grisman at the top of Squaw Valley Blues Traveller in Telluride and Seabird Island for Midnight Oil during Clayoquot Summer.
Pre-9/11 (which thwarted any chance of visas for dissident poets and performers), my squad of renegades caught 4 years of Peter Gabriel’s stellar WOMAD fests in grassy lawns and canvas tents near Seattle to see the the finest world acts which brought both surprise and clarity from Polynesian Te’Vaka to Billy Bragg and Wilco playing the songs of Woody Guthrie.
Or we rolled over the Cascasdes to George for a bushel of multi-band gigs: HORDE, Further, Joni & Van & Dylan, Dave Matthews, KiSS, The Dead + the brothers Allman and Doobie. Good times but acres of chaos and commotion amongst the sublime views.
And yup, I’ve partied in the hot sun in Seattle for Bumbershoot with endless supply of top bands but lines and crowds to match and caught a Phil Lesh show on the 4th of July on the side of a ski hill — lovely scenery but access by crowded buses and then long drives to camp sites made it less appealing.
Certainly promoters in Pemberton and Squamish are bringing in big names (and decent ducats) but I’m off to find something a wee bit more chill ~ I guess you could say I’m seeking fewer folks at my fests.
For this dossier, I sought out summer music fests with these requirements:
- Close-ish — Driveable from Vancouver on a Friday after work
- Thrifty — $100-ish will cover your weekend except for beer
- Chill — Enough people for a party but not a hectic crowd
- Camping — On-site tenting in natural envrions (bonus: lake)
- Eclectic — Mix of live music of high quality and interest
The good news, there are plenty to choose from ~ of course, i’ve missed plenty so drop a comment with your favourite.
All of these fests boast enough familiar names to get you grooving plus lots of up-and-comers to discover:
Vancouver Island MusicFest (Courtney / Comox)
Date: July 9, 10 Blurb: On-site yoga, 6 stages, art, beer, workshops, a “boogie zone” for dancing and a festival express shuttle make the ferry trip over even more worth it
Camping: Yes — too many rules to write so just read
Musically noteworthy: Plenty of old faves on the docket like Little Feat, Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks, David Lindley, Adrian Belew, Joan Osborne plus a newer country-tinged treat called Nathan (more)
Mission Folk Music Festival
Date: July 23, 24, 25
Blurb: Already into its second decade and close-in to Vancouver on the way to Harrison features some of the finest folk, world, roots, blues and other music from across Canada and elsewhere
Camping: On-site camping for $20 per adult for the weekend with pass
Musically noteworthy: I’m a fan of Te’vaka from Tuvalu and other Polynesian and Micronesian islands — and there are plenty more
Komasket Music Festival (Vernon)
Date: July 30, 31, Aug 1
Blurb: Camping in tipis and Bob Marley’s old band, plus craft vendors, workshops, kids area, swimming and camping in the Okanagan Lake — what’s not to like?
Camping: Tipis rentals and on-site camping available with weekend pass for $10 per person for the weekend. Note no dogs allowed but “Prizes for Most Creative Camp Site!!”
Musically noteworthy: A danceable mix including The Wailers, Alex Cuba, Dehli to Dublin, and mighty beatboxer Shamik (more)
Summer Meltdown (Darrington, Washington)
Date: Aug 6, 7, 8
Blurb: Cross the border and cruise the Cascades mountain to the shadow of White Horse mountain with vending, green village, on-site camping, and beer garden with 21+ micro brews
Camping: Tent camping included with ticket — no vehicles on site so you gotta haul in your gear though there is limited car camping
Musically noteworthy: Some familiar names ready to jam: The Presidents of the United States of America, 5 Alarm Funk, Mother Hips, Hot Buttered Rum, and (former Santana drummer) Michael Shreive’s Spellbinder (more)
Salmon Arm Roots and Blues
Date: Aug. 13, 14, 15 Blurb: A bit of a stretch from Vancouver but a big stage of solid acts along the Shuswap Lake with sandy beaches could make a perfect weekend
Camping: Limited camping for $75 for the weekend
Musical noteworthy: Looks like a Canada Day party with Gord Downie & the Country of Miracles, K’naan, Ohbijou, Shane Koyczan and The Short Story Long, Wassabi Collective are intriguing and a band called Old Man’s Beard must be good (more)
These don’t fit the requirements per se but worth noting for musical expeditions on street and lawns:
Malkin Bowl at Stanley Park
Date: Throughout the summer Web: http://www.malkinbowl.com/
Blurb: It’s like going to the woods to see a show but you are only a stroll from the West End so you can start with ramen on Denman before sitting on the lawn — either inside with a ticket or outside for free
Musically noteworthy: Can’t miss with any of Vampire Weekend, Flaming Lips, Swell Season with Black Francis, The National, K’Naan
Pacific Rim Arts Society Summer Festival 2010 (Tofino)
Date: July 1-15
Blurb: A variety of arts and culture events in the groovy village — pick a weekend with something you like to make your surf trip funner
Musically noteworthy: Virtuoso Russian accordionist, harp and steel duos, and modern versions of indigenous music make for a varied choice
Princeton Traditional Music
Date: Aug. 20, 21, 22
Blurb: It’s free (by donation) street fair with the streets closed down for concerts, plus panels and workshops from mining & railway songs and more plus spontaneous “mini jams and guerilla dances” in a small town 300 km from Vancouver.
Camping: Daily bus from Vancouver and camping close to site plus bed and breakfast and motels in town
Musically noteworthy: An extensive mix of early and traditional music
Have some time to disconnect and chill? Pack up the microbus and head to any of these exotic treasures:
Starbelly Jam http://www.starbellyjam.org/ Crawford Bay, July 16, 17, 18
Getting there is plenty of fun with a free ferry ride from Nelson to see Steve Kimock, Blackalicious and Chad VanGaalan near Creston on Kootenay Lake
Kispiox Festival http://www.kispiox.com/kvmf/ July, 23, 24, 25
Down home style community music and arts festival waaaay up between Prince George and Prince Rupert near-ish Smithers and Terrace for rustic fun
Discovery Coast Music Festival http://www.bellacoolamusic.org/ July 24 & 25
Family fun (read: no beers) with kids acts, along with the very adult Jim Byrnes, nestled in the heart of the Coast Mountains
Edge of the World http://www.edgefestival.com/ Aug. 6, 7. 8
Seems like heaven up on Haidi Gwaii if you can get there to see Scatterheart rock out (twice) or Crabapple Creek Electric Jug Band go old-timey funny
Shambhala Music Festival http://www.shambhalamusicfestival.com/ Aug. 6, 7, 8, 9
They say, “Shambhala is a journey, an adventure, a life altering experience” So go hear mostly electronic music near Salmo and “just let loose and dance, dance, dance”
So … are you on the bus or what? Good, i thought so.
Which gigs did i miss? Drop a comment and let me know where I’ll see you boogie-ing-down this summer.
Just look for the grey beard, shady visor and a big smile.
I went searching for the small time concert gems with on-site camping and eclectic line-ups with a mix of the familiar and musical surprises. Here are the BC treats I found so load up the microbus an
Festive Greetings to Ice Fishermen – Choogle On #82 (36:57, .mp3)
Shortly after New Year’s Day, Uncle Weed recounts highlights from the passing year including a surprising visit with bong-toting ice fishermen on a frozen neighborhood lake, plus recaps on concerts, spreading messages to media and youth, voting often, speaking out, supporting soldiers and peaceniks, resisting cynicism, researching the painter Varley, publishing literature, sparking coverage of Olympics, making a board game, gallery visits, riding the new SeaBus, remembering ole dead gramps, drinking stout and earl grey tea, and the joys of treading on thin ice.