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Sunday, May 12, 2013

"Strung Between Dreams and Reality": June 4, 1968, Carousel Ballroom

Handbill for Jam at Carousel Ballroom, Tuesday, June 4, 1968.
The "Tuesday Night Jam" on May 21, 1968 [TJS ] shnid-22727] is very nearly ground zero for Garcia On The Side, representing the first time that Garcia was billed under his own name since the birth of the Dead in 1965. The 1968 Side Trips have a feeling all their own, for sure. Much, much more to say about all of it. (For a taste, see my post on 10/30/68 and Hartbeats as Tempo Études.)

Here, because I am going through some San Francisco Chronicle scans I gathered, I wanted to provide some lengthy quotes from Ralph Gleason to provide some context around the seemingly-similar Tuesday Night Jam from June 4, 1968. The handbill identifies Jerry Garcia, Elvin Bishop, Barry Melton, Tim Davis, Lonnie Turner, Steve Miller, Fred Walk, Dino, Marcus Magnificent Malone, plus others.

This was the night that Robert Kennedy was shot, of course. Ralph Gleason (1) offers a pretty good snapshot of the yin and yang of the night, which can of course be taken as capturing some essential things about the hippie dream and, darkly, life itself.

At midnight Tuesday night it was a beautiful scene at the Carousel Ballroom. People came in off the street with late election news and inside there was a long jam session going on with all kinds of guitar players and saxophones and rhythm men and on the floor there was more dancing than I've seen anywhere in months. Throughout the ballroom an outstanding feature was the peacefulness and the joy as a wondrous assortment of people relaxed. There were Hells Angels and hippies, many black people and many men long-hair youth [sic]. It seemed for a moment like the hope of the future.

And then I went outside, got into the car and punched the radio button only to hear a voice saying 'When Senator Kennedy was shot tonight ...' and the terrible real world came crashing in on me again.

And, late the next night

[a] man slowly died ... this terrible feeling came on again, the feeling of doom I had lost in the Carousel the night before, and the country seemed fated to keep spinning out of control down some grim spiral to madness.

(1) Gleason, Ralph J. 1968. Strung Between Dreams and Reality. San Francisco Chronicle, June 7, 1968, p. 49.
Gleason, Ralph J. 1968. Strung Between Dreams and Reality. San Francisco Chronicle, June 7, 1968, p. 49.

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