Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Concert bonds Deadhead, dad

From the Truth:

1989 Florida show brought them closerPublished: Tuesday, August 09, 2005 -- The Truth, A1Last updated: 8/8/2005 11:07:41 PMBy Susan LakesTruth Regional Reporter

WAKARUSA -- Finding other "Deadheads" -- the kind of people who would brave concert crowds bigger than her Wakarusa hometown for a chance to see the Grateful Dead -- wasn't easy. Ask Jamie Priest.
She'll tell you losing Jerry Garcia, the band's lead man, wasn't easy either.

Today marks the 10-year anniversary of Garcia's death. "It stinks," she said. "It's sad and it's certainly not something that's a good anniversary."

Priest, 36, will take some time today, stopping to think about 10 years ago when she cried at work when her boss shared the news Garcia was dead. She'll get out the iPod and listen to Garcia and "the band beyond description" play "Truckin," Just A Little Light" and "Hell In A Basket." She might even dig out the Jerry Garcia doll and the 50 or so ticket stubs from concerts past.

It's the stub from the 1989 Florida concert that holds special meaning for Priest. That one brings back memories of the time she dressed up her father, Dick Wise, now 65, in a tie-dyed shirt and hat and took him to his first -- and last -- Grateful Dead concert.

The trip
Wise delivered recreational vehicles at the time, and planned a Florida delivery to coincide with a Dead concert. He and Priest headed south, not knowing whether they'd find concert tickets once they got to St. Petersburg.
"I walked around for two days, looking for tickets," she recalled.

Her father couldn't believe the pre-concert sight. "There were hundreds of them -- the Deadheads -- in this park fixing food," he said. "They were camped out and sharing big pots of soup and sandwiches. Those were the days of the Deadheads."

The music
"I parked him up in the seats then ditched him," Priest said, laughing. She wanted to dance, so she wiggled her way through the crowd, up to the second row.

"I didn't think he (Dad) wanted to dance," she said. "I think he was a little bit in culture shock."

Wise might have fooled his daughter had she stuck by his side for the concert. The dancing mood hit him, too, when Garcia got on the stage. "Before you know it, here's Jerry Garcia up there wailing 'Truckin'' and I went nuts," he said. "They played for a full two hours. I wasn't a full-blown Deadhead, but you get around them and you know it."
Priest felt a stronger bond with her father after the concert. "My dad and I didn't always share a lot," she said. "He was impressed (with the concert) so it made me feel good he liked something that was such a part of me."
Wise liked the concert, but not well enough to spend an entire summer following the band like his daughter did a few years later. She sold grilled cheese sandwiches along the way to support herself.

"I wonder how many of those people -- the Deadheads -- are still around ... Jeez, that was one wild bunch," Wise said.
Today, he plans to get out old cassette tapes and try to relive that concert scene -- the smoky air and the two drummers playing instead of just one.

If drugs were around, he didn't notice. "It was enough getting high just watching Garcia. He was a happening," Wise said. "Not everybody was wiped out on drugs back then, or at least not the ones I saw."

John Miller, 54, of Nappanee, saw the band play more than 100 times, so he and Priest connected. "I couldn't believe there was another Deadhead around here," she said.

It was Miller who called her at work when Garcia died. He had his reasons.

"If you were a Deadhead, you had to tell someone else," he said. "Garcia was the focal point -- the heart and soul of that group.

"As long as Garcia was on stage, you could feel young," said Miller. "He was like father hippie or grandfather hippie."

Susan Lakes is a regional reporter for The Truth.Send a message to Susan Lakes


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Click here to join deadshows
Click to join deadshows