UNCLE JOHN'S NOTES
Ain´t no time to hate
Barely time to wait
¨I have a message for you from Jerry¨Rock Scully tells me.
We´re backstage at the Old Waldorf in San Francisco and we sit down in a booth with Warren Zevon. Warren is a small man, quiet, watchful, intense, and he is sober tonight. There is a large unattended bar next to us , kind of like a trophy, no bartender, no drinking, and it reminds me of when Warren fell off the stage drunk and broke his leg, “Bad luck streak in dancing school” was his response and the title of his next album.
Rock, the way he´s dressed, looks just like a wolf, reminding me that Warren is the author of ¨Werewolves of London¨, and across the room from us is Wolfgang, that´s what his mom called him, we know him as Bill Graham the premier impresario, and this was Bill´s club holding about six hundred people, a place for big stars to play in front of small audiences.
I´ll send Jerry a letter, I tell Rock, and I´ll see Garcia at his show Saturday night. The first time I met Rock, the road manager for the Grateful Dead, was in an elevator in New York City on his birthday, and he´s the liaison to reach Jerry Garcia.
The wolf does more than howl to communicate. They whimper and whine, growl and bark, yelp and snarl, smell, about 100 times stronger than our ability , as is their hearing and sight, they are strong with sharp teeth, and they fear humans and tigers, but humans are not their enemies and they will not attack unless provoked or threatened. The wolves can be our brothers, protectors, workers and lovers as their mates and mothers feed their babies with milk.
I was working as a security guard at the Sheraton Hotel on Wolf Road in Albany, New York. The bar closed and patrons returned to their rooms. Soon the front desk was getting complaints of a noisy disturbance in the pool area and the front desk clerk calls me and we both go down to investigate and find professional wrestler Randy Savage drunk and loudly disturbing the guests. Randy looks at us menancingly. ¨You´re not going to let him kill us, are you John?¨the desk clerk says to me. He was genuinely terrified. Savage comes over and he´s not a big man but he has big arms and he lifts them over my head and stands real close to me as I calmly tell him he has to be quiet and go back to his room. The clerk behind me says, ¨He´s going to throw you in the pool¨ I knew Randy was a professional under contract, and no matter how drunk he is, he´s not going to attack the guard in the hotel and I firmly stood my ground. He retreated quietly to his room.
These wolves come to play, prancing with their fingers, happily and causing others to dance merrily, rump in the air and bushy tail wagging.
Climbing and listening to Warren Zevon, his piano and vocals blasting out ¨When Johnny Strikes Up The Band¨. The notes keep escalating on the way, his voice energizing as an angel´s lifting us as the crowd eats, drinks, dances and is merrily living life is but a dream.
Spring tour opens February 10
terrapin crossroads, san rafael, california
Bob Weir & Phil Lesh
There is a rapport with Jerry Garcia that is a bridge to their audience , a density of thought, richness of feeling, drawing musical notes that play in the air, harmonizing the eloquence of Robert Hunter´s lyrics with the crispy sound of Jerry Garcia´s guitar the way it crackles snaps and pops, the way he paces the music with that little kick, his delicate fingertips touches our hearts, minds and ears, as we connect in an emotional scene and magical setting of aural excitement, musical prayer, positive tones and vibrations, rocking us with a feeling that is unifying, reuniting, family, friends, neighbors, slowly floating on songs, angels wings to the sounds of the bells that ring to hear his voice that sings to his teacher, "When there was no ear to hear, you sang to me."
Remembering with grief and gratitude
by Uncle John
I have many fond memories of Robert Hunter and great gratitude for his treasure chest of lyrics. The Grateful Dead band member, I remember the poet, playful, trumpeter, vocalist, songwriter, musician, artist, father, lover, joker, scholar, hermit and invisible man.
We are poets on the crossroads of life. We are both crossing Haight Street from opposite sides at the same time and there is no traffic in the road, and I have a rose and he stops to smell the rose and Robert Hunter calls me by name.
The first time I meet Robert Hunter backstage, he puts out his hand and says to me,
¨Shake the hand
That shook the hand…¨
Monday night, September 23, Robert Hunter´s spirit left his body on Earth. I am at the library that evening listening to Berkeley poet laureate Rafael Jesus Gonzalez talk about the sounds of poetry, that poems are meant for more than the pages they are written on. They belong in songs, or uttered, spoken, tasting the words, and sharing in a way we can all understand. He talks about taking an instrumental song and putting words to it, as Robert Hunter can.
I recall when Hunter stops me at the Shady Grove one night to share with me his flash about dying. ¨Phil Lesh´dad was dying and Phil brought me a tape of music. When I listened to that music the words fell from my mind to the page in one uninterrupted flow.¨ The song is ¨Box Of Rain¨, the last song the Grateful Dead played before Jerry Garcia past away.
When I asked Robert Hunter what song he got feedback from the fans and he replied, ¨Jack Straw, we got more mail about that song than any other. Especially the line, "We can share the women, we can share the wine".
Robert Hunter and his band Comfort is the opening act for the Jerry Garcia Band at the Keystone in Palo Alto. After the Garcia Band set, about thirty people crowd into a small room backstage. Robert Hunter turns to Jerry Garcia and says, "Hey man, you sounded great tonight!" "You sounded really good yourself" Garcia says back at him. "Did you hear 'Roses'? and Robert Hunter breaks into the song before Jerry can answer. "....She had ribbons, ribbons, ribbons in her long brown hair..." He repeats his question to Garcia and continues the song a capella..."I don't know, maybe it was the roses, All I know is I could not leave her there....." Donna Jean sang this song on stage with Hunter and his band tonight, a very special moment, and Hunter's voice rings through the room with sweet clarity.
One night I capture Hunter in a small hallway and I have an acoustic guitar in my hand and ask if I can play a song for him. He says yes, ¨if you whisper it in my ear¨
I lean up close to his ear and sing in a whispering voice a song I wrote:
¨Well I tried to catch your words that seem
To keep on talking to
The man willing to listen
Found the song was really you
I picked up the cards and came on down
To where the sources be
I saw your heart shining through their faces
And heard you mirroring me¨
It is the night the Grateful Dead song composers Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia play together for the first time. It is pouring rain in Berkeley. Robert Hunter surprises us with an old spiritual Christmas standard ¨It Came Upon A Midnight Clear¨.
Hours after this show, after midnight, the sky clears under a full moon. I am driving with my wife and Kim McCarthy down this narrow alley in Berkeley and we encounter a car with its hood up. I stop and get out, and the girl driving the car says she needs a jump start. ¨Sorry,¨ I say, ¨but I don´t have any cables¨. Suddenly, a man steps out of the shadows holding battery cables. It´s Robert Hunter! ¨Here, take a hit off of him,¨ he says to the girl as he hands her the cables.
He turns and asks me, ¨Got any booze?¨
I had been following the Grateful Dead for about two years and moved to San Francisco to work as a high school poetry teacher. I knew an artist, K.C. Jones, who lived in the same building I did. Some of my students were taking art classes with him. I would hang out with K.C. while he painted and I would write poetry. I am having a conversation about the Grateful Dead with him one day, and in particular, Robert Hunter. I said to K.C. ¨You know, I don´t think Robert Hunter exists. He never shows up onstage or in photographs and I think he´s the Fig Newton of Jerry Garcia´s mind.¨ K.C. jumps up, goes to his record box and pulls out Workingman´s Dead, points to the last man in line next to Garcia on the cover. ¨That´s Robert Hunter!¨ he says. He puts the record on the turntable. ¨Uncle John´s Band¨ comes on.
DEAD & COMPANY
UNCLE JOHN reads poetry
Epilogue: ¨THE JOURNEY¨
@ Sweetwater Music Hall, Mill Valley, California, October 21, 2019
Live videorecording available soon
When your past becomes your path
& you come to answer what you ask
& the angels take you down to your grave
I´m not here to follow the parade
You begin to understand
That you were just a man
But to be a man is to stand in your doorway
I´m not here to judge
in a world among friends
You know the beginning from where the song ends
Your journey leads us to wake
Up in the eyes of the world
You been working here so long
To fill our hearts with song
Help us to understand our rights
From what´s wrong
I look around for you
In all the places we have been
On a mysterious winding path
The gold of sunshine shining through
Seven golden rings
With seven golden powers
That makes good men immortal
Same revelation and secret
Surrounding all of you
Child of magic
With words of wonder
You stopped the world
So the blind man can see
Grateful you shall always be
We are lifted up by the spirit
To soar like an eagle high above
On the wings of the power of love
¨Sometimes the light is all shining on me
Other times I can barely see
Lately it occurs to me
What a long strange journey it´s been¨
Tribute to the sun and the sea
Hoist a flag boy atop your ship
"they Love Each Other
Lord, You can see it's true"
Poetry for KIDS in English & Spanish
Poems by Jhon Ramirez
Editor: Tania Carrasco
THUNDER ON THE MOUNTAIN
ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER
THINGS HAVE CHANGED
TRUMPETS OF THE OCEAN
Lyrics by Robert Hunter
The day the constitution
became a metaphor
All Rights Reserved
THE RIVER OF LIFE
To be concluded
Watchin' the river flow
lookin' to see
painting a picture
still as can be
THE TREE OF LIFE
Playin' In The Band
Ain't no time to hate, barely time to wait...
Phil Lesh & Terrapin Family Band
"Playin' In The Band"
TREE OF LIFE
From the beginning,
Launching in four years
1stcar in space:
UNCLE JOHN'S BLOG @ http://www.air.bz
"Take Me Out To The Ballpark"
Photo: Joe Alper
Bob Dylan, Suze Rotolo & Lena Spencer January 1962
One of Bob's earliest musical performances is at the Caffè Lena, Saratoga Springs, New York
FIRST SOUNDS RECORDED IN INTERSTELLAR SPACE
LAST FLASH OF THE GRATEFUL DEAD
FIVE DAYS & A FEW FLASHBACKS
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.
FARE THEE WELL
Celebrating 50 Years of the Grateful Dead
Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, California
1st day June 27, 2015
It is early evening in Santa Clara, California, 2015, the first day of the Fare Thee Well shows, and the Grateful Dead take the stage in the twenty-first century for the first time. There is nothing like a Grateful Dead concert! It’s a special, timeless feeling, intuitive moment, unity of spirit, gathering of the souls, grounded in vibration, with light and sounds to stimulate our senses, balance our emotions, displace our worries and fears, opening the well of inner kindness, smiling in the peace of our moments shared. The band jams into “Truckin” singing five of the hundred verses Robert Hunter wrote with the band on the road. “Sometimes the light’s all shining on me. Other times I can barely see. Lately, it occurs to me, what a long, strange trip it’s been.”
The last days of the Grateful Dead are full of the first. Their sound is distinct, loud and unique. They're not just another rock ‘n roll band playing, but a musical collaraboration of intuitive consciousness, telepathic notes, energetic stimulation, stability, and balance we interpret in dance and spirit. We all recognize the Grateful Dead and their unique ability to be harmonious, focused, intense, with empathetic talent in collusion and cooperation, in a maze of transformation that speaks individually and collectively to each member of the audience.
The first time I hear
"Uncle John's Band" is the first Grateful Dead song I listen to and I’m instantly and forever changed. This music is mellow, articulate, speaking to all aspects of our lives, and truly making us feel good about ourselves. “Uncle John’s Band” is the first song I hear at the first Grateful Dead show I go to, at the Fillmore East in NYC.
"Truckin'" is the first Grateful Dead song to climb the song charts. “Uncle John’s Band” follows “Truckin’” here tonight. Then they play Robert Hunter’s first song he wrote for the Grateful Dead, “Alligator” > “Cumberland Blues”, Phil Lesh’s first Grateful Dead song he wrote with Jerry Garcia, and Robert Hunter; Bob Weir first penned “Born Cross-Eyed” > “Cream Puff War”, Jerry Garcia’s first lyric and music song, then one of their first covers, Noah Lewis' song “Viola Lee Blues”. The band is playing its unique style of the song. Listening to the sweet spirits present I hear Noah playing his harp in the background and Jerry Garcia jamming with the Jubilee band, when suddenly a giant esthetic rainbow appears in the sky, and the crowd is amazed. There’s cloud cover in this time of drought, and a double rainbow appears while the band is still playing the end of its first set. To me this delightful moment is déjà vu. I recall a dream I had that was so real, almost heaven-like, of the Grateful Dead with rainbows and rings and spheres, but disturbing because Jerry was missing from the dream. I realize now the dream was a foreshadowing of this moment. As soon as the set ends, a few drops of rain fall on the crowd. A spectacular sunset follows. 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."
Bill Graham was the premier impresario and grand marshal of the rock 'n roll industry he helped to define. He produced the best in the profession and his shows were often described as fun. He had a tremendous care for the concerns of his audience and made his venues a comfortable environment so people could have a good time. At his shows, we dance among a large crowd in an open auditorium, where the propriety of the people provides the decorum for the show. The ushers here don't intrude on our space or confine folks to their seats. Each show is special. Bill Graham Presents......his favorite band he produces most often is the Grateful Dead. “Good things come to those who wait.”, Bill once said.
The Grateful Dead are the most prolific musicians in history. They have played together performing more songs for more people than any other music combo.
The songs of the Beatles in the sixties liberated us, and the words and music of Bob Dylan understood us and brought revelation, but the sounds of the Grateful Dead, that country folk rock jazzy blues jam beat feel good sound, transforms us.
The crowd here tonight seems to be mostly people who are seeing the Grateful Dead for the first time. Yet they seem to know the band intimately. They know the words to many of the songs. Deadheads across generations!
July 4, 2015 Fare Thee Well tour, Chicago
I'm staying in a hotel in South Chicago next door to Pearl's Place, the restaurant once renowned as the premier jazz & blues club. Pictures of musical legends Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, John Coltrane, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Etta James, The Drifters, and others adorn the walls of great past shows here in the Blues Capital of America. I'm in Bronzeville, home of Gwendolyn Brooks, who was Illinois' poet laureate, whom I corresponded with when I was in college. I am riding the elevated train in Chicago on the first night of the Grateful Dead's "Fare Thee Well" here. There's a group of black people surrounding this one older man who's at the center of their group. One of them asks, "What's going on?" and another echoes, "What's happening here?" and the older gentleman responds, "Don't you know the Grateful Dead are in town, and that they're different from every other band that comes here? There's two reasons, one, the following they have, and two, the vibe. Even the big names like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones don't have this kind of following, and they don't have that vibe", he says with emphasis, and smiling.
It’s Saturday, a hot, beautiful, sunny day. The crowd is packed like a parade coming into Soldier Field for tonight’s Grateful Dead show. The person in front of me turns around and asks me, “What song are they going to do tonight?” I put out my hand and say, “Shake the hand that shook the hand is what Robert Hunter said to me the first time we met backstage.” “U.S. Blues! Thank you!”
excerpts from "Last Flash of the Grateful Dead" by Uncle John
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
se parece a la lluvia
Me desperté hoy, y sentí tu lado de la cama.
Letras y Música por Grateful Dead
desde la obra de teatro "RAINDANCE"
Vision of the dance to make it rain - Part 1
Letras y Música
por Uncle John
desde la obra de teatro "RAINDANCE"
escrito en Mexico
Lyrics & Music by Uncle John
But he´s the only one I know
Holding all four aces