Story and photographs by Stanley Johnson
I arrived at the party for Sandy’s birthday last Friday (July 3). Bob, who I seem to run into at every music event I go to in Greater Nippertown, had arranged for a projector and PA system, and the backyard had been transformed into an outdoor theater bordered by a circle of tiki lamps and a firepit. The screen was a sheet tacked to the side of a barn.
We watched the first of the final three performances of the Grateful Dead live from Chicago. It was a pretty good performance, although computer buffering problems did sometimes interrupt the show. We had bug repellant, fireworks and a big moon rising.
Was it a good Grateful Dead concert? You can be the judge of that: the show will be part of a box set which was constantly promoted throughout the night. The band, like previous reunion versions under the names the Other Ones and the Dead, played unique arrangements and extended medleys of Grateful Dead songs, most of which were originally recorded back in the ’60s and ’70s. There may have been later period songs, but I wasn’t always paying close attention. It was a party, and I was taking no notes nor photos.
It seemed appropriate for me to be watching this performance in Alplaus, a place with a connection to Kurt Vonnegut, who had a connection with the Grateful Dead. For a time, the Grateful Dead owned the rights to his novel “Sirens of Titan,” although what they were going to do with them no one seems to remember. Vonnegut, whose drug preferences were cigarettes and occasional alcohol, admitted to once having smoked a joint with the band.