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"The rainbow was real."

--Paul Hoffman, Lighting Director for the Grateful Dead

According to news reports that surfaced after this rainbow occurred in Santa Clara, California on June 27, 2015 during the Grateful Dead's Fare Thee Well show, it was unbelievable to some reporters who raised speculation it was a contrived event. There was a magnificent rainbow arching over the entire stadium, with perfect timing showing up during the final song of their first set on this first night of "Fare Thee Well", and morphing into a double rainbow. Billboard.com stated it was not Divine intervention or Mother Nature's unusual weather. One report claimed the Grateful Dead spent $50,000 to stage this rainbow. An ABC News report stated it was possible. "What a great way to create a buzz, for a run of shows that have been nothing if not buzz-worthy from their very first announcement." After all, the Merry Pranksters were there.  According to reports, the Grateful Dead orchestrated this rainbow by placing 600 special lights on a building two  miles away.  Of course they had to bring in the cloud cover, and a few raindrops fell on this crowd in a rainless drought-stricken time, and for the climax, a spectacular incredible sunset fills the sky. Billboard did a retraction by quoting a Deadhead, "This is the band that jams with God."

Promoter Bill Graham famously said of the Grateful Dead

"They're not the best at what they do, they're the only ones that do what they do."

LAST flash OF THE GRATEFUL DEAD

by Uncle John

"What I want to know

 Where does the time go?"

(Robert Hunter/Jerry Garcia)

"Lord, the band kept us so busy, we forgot about the time."

(John Perry Barlow/ Bob Weir)

This work is a contemporary narrative with a musical motif, narrated by the author with personal testimony, and dialogue with  artists, authors, musicians, dancers, singers, poets, songwriters, and stars. This journalistic  odyssey observes the world's most interesting band, whose brilliant creative performances, and individual intellectual insight, provide us with this ostentatious modern day literary account. On the road & at home with the Grateful Dead and their family of bands and musical company, this book records a distinctive recital of spiritual events, revealing a new orchestrated portrait, a sculptured arrangement of golden memories. There is nothing like a Grateful Dead concert! It is a unique and unconventional experience.

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Excerpt

COMFORT IN A COWBOY TOWN

The release of “Terrapin Station”, a lyrical, musical, & artistic masterpiece, a suite of songs, by lyricist Robert Hunter & musical genius Jerry Garcia, 

gave birth to an extended Grateful Dead web of family bands when lyricist Robert Hunter and Comfort came on the scene as a new band,

unveiling another long lyrical masterpiece by Hunter, "Alligator Moon Suite". Click title to listen to this flashback recording:

Alligator Moon Suite

Robert Hunter & Comfort

Rio Theatre, Rodeo, California

(Audience Audio Recording

Michael & Catherine Jordan)

March 4, 1978

Robert Hunter & Comfort
Robert Hunter - vocals, guitar
Rodney Albin - violin, mandolin
Ozzie Ahlers - keyboards
Kathleen Klein - vocals
Larry Klein - bass
Pat Lorenzano - drums
Marlene Molle - vocals
Kevin Morgenstern - lead guitar

Rodeo is a cowboy town. The locals crowd the bar down the street from the Rio Theatre at a place called “The Marquee” where the ladies in their refined dresses and men in their cowboy casuals, dance to a decent imitation of Waylon Jennings between pizza and beer.

Comfort´s country rock ´n roll is gratefully acknowledged by a full house this evening in the expansive Rio Theatre, and the honky-tonk dance floor is active. The acoustics blend well in the snug environment here.

Robert Hunter arrives backstage dressed in an English overcoat and Irish scarf. He is the meticulous picture of a perfect country gentleman. He changes into casual clothes before the performance.

Comfort, already a proven band of its own, is an accomplished act with songwriter Robert Hunter on board.

Larry Klein is an innovative six string bass guitar player. He and lead guitarist, Kevin Morgenstern, mold a powerful sound in a creative and spellbinding musical arrangement.

Rodney Albin´s the band´s utility player. He´s an ace on the fiddle, and entertains us on banjo and mandolin too. He´s been playing music in the Bay area for a long time, a showman with endless talent, and is known in his neighborhood as “The Wizard of Page Street” and “Mayor of Haight Street”.

I am standing behind the curtain with Kathleen Klein and Marleen Molle, the vocalists, who are watching for their cue to go onstage.

Before the show begins, someone from the audience shouts out “North To Alaska” and Rodney Albin picks up Hunter´s guitar and plays the song, note for note and word for word. The song was recorded by the rockabilly country artist Johnny Horton. He is known for his history inspired narrative songs, and also wrote “Battle Of New Orleans”, a song that Rodney sings and plays with this band.

Hunter flows with the mood. “I´m taking requests for anything you want to hear, old Beatle songs, my old songs, any old songs", and the band picks up the beat to Johnny Cash´s “I Walk the Line”. Rodney sings a humdinger, “My Little GTO”, and “Mustang Sally” followed.

Someone shouts for “Silver Tongued Devil”, and more people in the crowd join in until it becomes a chant, but Hunter ignores them, and signals the vocalists to join him as the band launches their show with “Tiger Rose”. I return to the audience to be with my dancing partner wife. Robert Hunter & Comfort perform about sixteen songs including “It Must Have Been The Roses”, “Rum Runners”, “Jesse James”, “Friend of the Devil" > "Promontory Rider”, “That Train”, "Wild Bill", “Ariel”, “Alligator Moon Suite”, “Cruel White Water" > "Last Flash of Rock ´n Roll”.

“That's the last flash of rack and roll
A jack-beat boogie with a two-stroke roll
It was never new, it will never grow old
That's your last flash of rock and roll”

It was such an uplifting night with Comfort´s support for Hunter´s songs, and Comfort adding some of their finest compositions to the mix of country rockin´, jazzy jiggin´, cowboy howling, rolling music. We all pranced and danced and boogied. Some twitched and trembled, shouted and swirled, twirled and twisted, spiraled, skipped, leaped and bounced, bopped and hopped, flit and fluttered, swaggered and staggered, flipped and flopped, wobbled and wavered, strolled and trolled, trundled and throbbed, as we are all bobbin´ to the beat.

It is a spontaneous and energetic night.

Robert Hunter exits the stage and turns to me and says,

“Silver Tongued Devil, huh?”

Silver Tongued Devil, they cried.

“The Silver Tongued Devil and I”

(Song by Kris Kristofferson)

RECREATION AND TALENT

 COMFORT is a country jazz rock ´n roll band.

They are refreshing, amusing, frolicsome, capable, vibrant and soothing. Robert Hunter´s songs like "Rum Runners", "Tiger Rose", "Promontory Rider", "Cruel White Water", "It Must Have Been The Roses", "Keys To The Rain", "Crooked Judge (written with David Nelson), "Friend of the Devil" (written with "Marmaduke" John Dawson and Jerry Garcia), "Brown-Eyed Women" (with Jerry Garcia), "Ariel" (with Mickey Hart), "The Book of Daniel" (written with Jefferson Starship founder David Freiberg) and "Scarlet Begonias" (with Jerry Garcia) perform well with this group.

Robert Hunter is a family man. Strong-willed, confident and independent thinker, at times he is crustaceous. A guitar student inspired by bandleader Harry James, Hunter also performs on the trumpet. The poet´s aptitude as a lyricist, with his stream of euphonious phrases, is his strong point, as the greatest storyteller of our time of melodic verses, ballads and narrative tales.

His backing band COMFORT is talented, different and interesting.

Rodney Albin is a gifted entertainer. He sings, plays violin, mandolin, banjo and guitar. His fiddle keeps the floor hoppin´. He´s the Dancemaster, the ceremonious magician, a transformed Jack of all musical trades. He and Hunter had showcased together before in a band called ROADHOG. I first saw them when they played a free concert in the Sunset neighborhood of Golden Gate Park on the Fourth of July.

Pat Laurenzo is the drummer, consistent, devoted.

Richard McNees, called "Sunshine" by his bandmates was resplendent on the keyboards.

David "Ozzie" Ahlers became their keyboardist and added spice with his vocals. He once played with Jesse Colin Young´s band, and performs with Lorin Rowan & The Edge.

Marleen Molle is a vocalist and lyricist for the group. She co-authored, with Kevin Morgenstern, the band´s hottest tunes including "Big Wind" that she sings, and "It´s True" that Kathleen sings brilliantly.

Kevin Morgenstern is the lead guitarist and author of Comfort´s original tunes. He also wrote music for Hunter´s masterpiece ballet "Alligator Moon Suite".

Larry Klein is the bass guitarist. His talent is constant and creative. One night I am conversing with him on the phone and I hear this strange but melodic sound coming in over the wires, and I ask him what he´s doing, and he replies he is playing a rubber band on his teeth.

Kathleen McCarthy Klein is a soprano singer who is naturally gifted. She is a dynamic vocalist who reminds me of Grace Slick.

We first met her and Larry backstage at the Grateful Dead´s New Year´s Eve show. We brought a special gift for Mickey Hart that Ram Dass had given us. "The person to give that to is Mountain Girl," Kathleen informs us, and introduces us to her.

She is serene and beautiful. "Mountain Girl, would you please deliver this to Mickey Hart for us?"

"Do you have anything for me?", she replies.

I reach into my pocket and pull out a little box that says "The Ring" and hand it to her.

"In that case, I´ll actually give it to him." Mountain Girl says with a grin.

 

Coming Soon

SIX NIGHTS OF THE FULL MOON