In which I go to a “Dead” concert at a Cape Cod drive in
The last time I saw the Grateful Dead play was sometime in the early 90, shortly before Jerry Garcia’s death. Since then I’ve never been bothered to go to any of the post-Dead bands’ concerts by the likes of Dead & Co, Further, Phil Lesh and Friends, Bobby and the Midnights … I never was a fan of tribute bands and getting me to pull out my wallet to pay current ticket prices only happens if the band is sort of still together and I’m buying the tickets as a present for my wife who is far more of a true fan of the music than I am.
Early last week I caught the news that the Dark Star Orchestra would be playing two shows on Friday and Saturday nights at the old Yarmouth Drive-In on Route 28 here on Cape Cod. $150 bought me the right to show up in a vehicle with up to four people, so I bought the tickets and told my wife and son we were going. Was it a responsible thing to do with Covid cases on the rise here in Massachusetts? Would it be fun or a pain in the ass? Would the band be any good?
Who cares. It was the first weekend of the fall, the weather was great, and seriously, it’s not like the social calendar is crowded with other competition for my leisure time.
The band was great. The facility was well run and we were directed at our “suite” staked out by wooden posts and ropes in the fourth row and slightly to the right. The crowd was in the spirit, tons of tie-dye shirts, battery powered blinking lights, glow sticks and clouds of marijuana everywhere.
We backed in, opened the rear lid of the SUV, and hung out in the back of the car or on the bumper. Two sets and three hours later, I predicted two out of the last three songs — Stella Blue, Sugar Magnolia, and an encore of US Blues. Son and wife looked at me like a wizard when I announced “we are outta here” and loaded up the car for an early exit before the usual traffic jam. We listened to US Blues on the radio (Your Car is the PA!) as we cruised down a deserted Route 28 under a rising moon, past the t-shirt shops and mini-golf courses towards home.
I’d do it again — the drive-in concert experience that is. When the band said these were their first concerts since February I was sad for all those musicians who are grounded by the quarantine. Hats off to the promoter who figured out the drive-in solution, but still it felt sad to consider that the Yarmouth Drive-In claims to be the biggest live music venue in New England this summer.
In the spirit of former Wall Street Journal and Forbes Editor Norman Pearlstine’s quest to build the ultimate 90-minute rock & roll mix tape: which songs should go on the ultimate playlist of Boston-oriented rock and roll? Candidate songs should be by Boston-area bands or mention Boston in either title or lyrics. Here, with the assistance of my musical colleagues at Acquia (Chris Rogers and his wife Courtney Rau, DC Denison, David Butler, David Pierce, and others Massholes), is the work in progress.
Road Runner, Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers
Dirty Water, The Standells
That’s When I Reach for My Revolver, Mission of Burma
Musta Got Lost, J. Geils
Please Come to Boston, Dave Loggins
U Mass, The Pixies
Dream On, Aerosmith
More than a Feeling, Boston
New Hampshire is Alright If you Like Fighting, Scissorfight
Check Your Bucket, Duke & the Drivers
Train, James Montgomery
Shipping Up to Boston, Dropkick Murphy’s
When World’s Collide, Powerman 5000
More Human Than a Human, Rob Zombie (Haverhill)
You’re All I’ve Got Tonight, The Cars
It’s a Shame About Ray, The Lemonheads
Good Vibrations, Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch
Voices Carry, Til Tuesday
Let’s Go Tripping, Dick Dale
Don’t Run Wild, Del Fuegos
Someday I Suppose, Mighty Mighty Bosstones
Up & Running, Heretix
Back on the Map, Slapshot
My Sister, Juliana Hatfield Three
Here and Now, Letters to Cleo
Step by Step, NKOTB
Candy Girl, New Edition
My Prerogative, Bobby Brown
Poison, Bell Biv Devoe
Weekend in New England, Barry Manilow
Alice’s Restaurant, Arlo Guthrie
Talk About Love – O Positive
I Think She Likes Me – Treat Her Right
Boston – Kenny Chesney
Sweet Baby James – James Taylor
Jackie Onassis – Human Sexual Response
Lonely is the Night – Billy Squier (Wellesley’s finest, LOL)
Prettiest Girl – The Neighborhoods
When Things Go Wrong – Robin Lane and the Chartbusters
Feel the Pain – Dinosaur Jr.
Taillights Fade – Buffalo Tom
Last Dance – Donna Summer
Hostile, Mass – The Hold Steady, or Chillout Tent
75 and Sunny – Ryan Montbleau
Airport Song – Guster
Astral Weeks – Van Morrison (see poem about Hyannisport on the album notes)
On the Dark Side – John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band
Massachusetts, Arlo Guthrie (official Mass folk song)
Massachusetts, Alton Ellis
Sunshine, Jonathan Edwards (former summer resident of Cotuit)
Baby, Let Me Follow You Down, Bob Dylan
Twilight in Boston, Jonathan Richman
Boston, The Dresden Dolls
They Came to Boston, The Mighty, Mighty Bosstones
Boston Stranger, Boston Strangler
Boston, The Byrds
Cannonball, The Breeders
Siege, Drop Dead
The Joe Perry Project
Sleepy LaBeef: Raynham resident, long time house band at Alan’s Truck Stop in Amesbury
Seth Putnam and any of his unspeakable bands
Tavares (Providence, RI but ended up in New Bej)
Ray LaMontagne – Nashua by birth, Massachusetts by residence now (I thought so)
Next steps: put this list in the right sequence per the advice given by John Cusack in High Fidelity about how the order of songs on a mix tape is as important as their selection.
“The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don’t wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules. “
Feel free to collaborate in the comment with suggestions or questions.