September 10, 2012

Feeling Very Grateful

Only once did I get the chance to experience the phenomena of a Grateful Dead concert. It was the 1980s. The venue was Madison Square Garden. I recall Jerry Garcia being a huge presence on the stage. The show was great, though the thing that I most enjoyed about it was the carefree dancing of the tie-dyed audience. The moment that I saw the aisles filled with people moving to the music and being absorbed by it, I was completely into the scene and I danced the night away. Of course, the Deadhead subculture has always been very well known for its marijuana smoking, but I didn't embrace that part of it. When someone tried to pass me a joint, I quickly passed on it. I've never had any interest in doing drugs. I was there to dig the music.

While I won't call myself a devoted Deadhead, there are a several of their albums that I adore. I have long considered one of their greatest musical achievements to be 1977's "Terrapin Station." Among my favorite songs from the album are the moody, funk-flavored "Estimated Prophet," the haunting "Sunrise," and the epic masterpiece of a title track. I also love the albums "Shakedown Street," "Blues for Allah," and "Wake of the Flood." As for a live recording, I always liked "Europe '72."

On Sunday, the Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport hosted a Grateful Fest - several Grateful Dead tribute bands along with artists doing live painting. The sound was really good and I definitely enjoyed hearing the classic songs being played again. The Vanderbilt grounds provided an ideal setting for a festival atmosphere. Thousands of people showed up and the party spread out over the entire estate. There were plenty of Frisbees and Hula Hoops, children playing in the grass on the rolling hills that overlook Long Island Sound, people lounging on beach chairs and blankets, artists' easels set up everywhere. It was a beautiful aura. Most importantly, I got to experience that carefree dancing once again. And, just like I did back at Madison Square Garden in the 80s, I danced the afternoon away. Cheers!

"The Lord thy God
in the midst of thee is mighty;
he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy;
he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing."

 ~Zephaniah 3:17