By request of Mike Edwards, who's making a documentary on this unique, memorable festival at Pyramid Lake. If you were there, tell us about it...
if only you could track down that film crew today!
My friend and I arrived at Pyramid Lake a couple of days before the concert and car-camped there with some of the other early arrivals. We had a two-person tent for shade, but that was about it for cooling relief, so when I noticed on a map that there were some hot springs up on the north shore of the lake, I suggested that we take a drive, if only to make our world breezier. I was driving a Honda CRX that summer that was front wheel drive and had a five speed transmission, but the unpaved road we found ourselves on soon gave way to loose sand and it wasn't long before I had the thing buried up to the axle. I was pretty sure that we were screwed. We were in the Nevada desert in summer at noontime; we had a cooler full of beer and ice, but the nearest town was about a twenty mile walk away. Then I noticed something strange on a rock formation a couple hundred yards away from where we stood: it looked like hippie girls clad in diaphanous clothing posed on moonscape boulders. My eyes tracked downward from the place where this vision suddenly appeared and that's when I noticed what looked like a film crew near the base of the rock formation. It turns out they were students from San Francisco State who were out there shooting a video and after we established our premise--stuck in sand, beer on ice--they helped lift us out and got us safely back on our way. So, Ranch Rock 86 at Pyramid Lake was a parched moonscape, no doubt, but it's also, for me, clearly a case of Once-In-A-While-You-Get-Shown-The-Light Syndrome.
clearly never saw the place!!!
let's just say there was nothing green for miles. The Playa to come had nothing on that parched moonscape...
My friends and I scoped out the situation and opted for a campground in the mountains an hour or so out. Which had actual running water and bathrooms and showers. This was wise, as far as we were concerned.
I've found scans of two posters so far:
I went to that show. It was really fun being able to jump into Pyramid Lake to wash off the dust and cool down. There was a pretty small but enthusiastic crowd that day, probably due to Jerry recovering from the coma. Bob Weir couldn't play guitar that day because of an arm injury. The Paiute tribe was very gracious to allow the Deadheads to assemble on the shore.
My best memory of the show was that Kathi McDonald can belt it out!
I still have the promotional poster too.
Freddy Hahne, of the Black Rock Arts folks. Send me a PM and I'll put you in touch.
Hey, I was at the Greek. Burning Man, not my scene! Freezing at Baker Beach, also not my scene!
There are no errors on this playing field, marye, only events and their potential interpretations. What you call an error, I call the thing that helped me to see this more expansively, so thanks.
Who's Dr. Really? Sounds like a specialist I might need to consult.
that was me, so I don't mind a good error in a good cause.
you're right, one thinks of Burning Man as starting out in its current form, but of course it did not!
Dr. Really will probably have a lot to say about this.
I'm not sure who puts these things together, but the January 2012 Grateful Dead Bulletin has a blurb about the creation of this discussion thread.
"Before there was Burning Man, there was Ranch Rock 1986....well, it was a hot, dusty festival in the Nevada desert, historic on a number of levels, with a number of Dead-related bands making rare, if not unique appearances."
One of the things that I've found so far in my research is that the first Burning Man was burned at Baker Beach in San Francisco on the 1986 summer solstice, at the same time the GD were in the middle of their three show run at the Greek in Berkeley. There was something in the air that summer, for sure, and not just ashes. Someone observed once that if you listen to Phil's playing note for note, it might be difficult to recognize a pattern, but suggested that if you were to chart out Phil's playing over the course of a set, then a systematic structure might be perceived. Maybe it was over the course of a show, a tour, a year, or the band's entire career, but what I'm finding is that looking back at Ranch Rock twenty-five years later is a project much like that. I've only been working on this for a couple of weeks and already I'm seeing something like a symphony of forces and events that meant something at the time of the event, but whose significance has been radically transformed with the passage of time.