THE GRATEFUL DEAD TO MAKE THE SCENE
The Grateful Dead have been buried in the country, but are soon to be disinterred.
The rock 'n' roll combo is regretfully leaving its sylvan retreat at Camp Lagunitas the end of this month and returning to "the nervous scene" on the other side of the Golden Gate.
For three months, the five electronic musicians - together with three managers, one equipment man, four wives, and six weeks in the historic Bardell mansion on Rancho Olompali, the rest of the time at the former children's summer camp on Arroyo Road off Sir Francis Drake Boulevard.
Manager Rock Scully explained the Grateful Dead's retreat to bucolic Lagunitas: "That city over there is what we call 'the scene.' It's meeting all kinds of people. It's a lot of extra nervousness. Being in a band is a nervous kind of work anyway. The band works smoother when it can get away some place from all that and relax."
The only drawback is that the band can't practice in the country, according to lead guitarist Jerry Garcia.
Scully pointed to the wooded hills around the nearly four-acre camp and explained that "the sound really bounces around this canyon and the neighbors don't like it.
"We understand, of course, and the policeman who said we'd better not play was awfully nice," added Garcia.
So, for Garcia, Ron (Pigpen) McKernan, Bob (Cowboy) Weir, Phil Lesh and Bill Sommers and their retinue, it's goodbye to their $600-a-month leafy acreage, tiny brook, sheltering cabins, and swimming pool.
They'll be too busy in the city across the bay, however, to have time for nostalgia, according to manager Scully.
The long-haired quintet is booked solidly for weekends through November and will have to spend most of the weekdays practicing and cutting their first records, Scully said.
The recording contract is a measure of how quickly the Grateful Dead have caught on since the group was formed nine months ago. Since then, they've played in Los Angeles, Portland, Ore., and Vancouver, B.C., as well as in San Francisco dance halls. In November, they are booked into Chicago.
Nucleus of the group, all of whom are in their early 20's, were Garcia, McKernan, and Weir, who started as Mother McCrea's Jug Band. Bill Sommers was drafted when the three heard him on the drums one night in Palo Alto. Phil Lesh was studying composing at Mills College in Oakland, when the group persuaded him to team up as the electric bass player.
All except rhythm guitarist Cowboy Weir, who is from Wyoming, are Bay Area men.
The lyrics of one of the songs they will record while making the nervous scene may recall their Lagunitas retreat:
"When the cardboard cowboy dreams
In his cornucopia
He opens up the sky and sends my mind
To the corners of the rainbow bridge
Unrolling beneath my trembling toes."
FAREWELL, BUCOLIA - Ron (Pigpen) McKernan, Bob (Cowboy) Weir, and Jerry Garcia, who as Mother McCrea's Jug Band comprised the nucleus of what is now the Grateful Dead, twang and sing a little in Camp Lagunitas, former boys' camp they rented as Marin retreat. They are going back to "the nervous scene." Their rehearsing annoyed Lagunitas neighbors, it seems. (Independent-Journal photo)
(by Robert Strebeigh, from the San Rafael Independent-Journal, 19 September 1966)
Thanks to Dave Davis.
See also: http://deadsources.blogspot.com/2013/02/august-1966-grateful-dead-interview.html