July 17, 1982
Greatest Story Ever Told
They Love Each Other
Me and My Uncle
Little Red Rooster
Playin' in the Band
China Cat Sunflower
I Know You Rider
Playin' in the Band
Around and Around
One More Saturday Night
Attendees of this show
Was hot! Literally, black leather jacket and a bottle of wine made for some heat exhaustion by the time Truckin came on.
Had the tape and Played it in my truck for years!
I remember selling tickets in a trailer in the parking lot with Mr. Bob Barsodi of BGP. I worked for Avalon Attractions as ticket manager....the clueless L.A. neophyte. BGP and Avalon shared the central cal concert venues in "co-promotion" at that time in history. Bob and I had a misunderstanding about trust. We kissed and made up after I tackled him when he tried to leave the trailer with the cash to go count without me. No way, not back in those daze of constant sniffles. Bob would have killed me if my boss Roger didn't show up to go count with him. Those were crazy times, and I still had no clue about Grateful Dead. I never saw it coming.....
What I said before....I think it may have been July 83,,,,maybe,,,,or not. I just can't be sure right now.
Ventura was more than a venue, it was a scene!
You'd pass it on the coast highway from LA to Santa Barbara; Ventura town on the right and the fairgrounds, train bridge and lagoon to the left. I believe Aerosmith played there earlier, but the Dead and DeadHeads made it theirs over several years (so much so that many Heads still swarmed there the weekend the 86 gigs were canceled due to Jer's coma).
This first year our extended gang camped just down the coast at McGrath, but we were wildly inappropriate for the quiet campground and in future years we would haunt the Holiday Inn or the parking lot campsite.
The venue itself was a large rodeo ring with raised covered bleachers on one side. When you passed the parking lot and through the gate single file, you had your choice of turning right into the ring (floor seats, so to speak), or left into the shaded bleachers. It became a habit for us to spend at least the first set in the shaded bleachers, as the vantage and scenery were great and one could watch every one of those hundreds of different Dead-shirts (commercial and home-made) as they walked into the arena and eventually reached seething critical mass at showtime. Behind us was the point and Pacific Ocean. To our right (southeast) was the Holiday Inn and parking lot and ocean. In front of us was the rodeo ring and a few small buildings, the train tracks and freeway, then the small town of Ventura petering up into the scrub hills. To the left was the stage at the end of the ring, behind which was palm trees, a train trestle over a lagoon, and ocean beyond that. The effect was like sitting on a giant electric train layout; a whole microcosm at a glance.
The set-list and tape from this first show might seem very tame compared to later years, but this first show was the most visually memorable. There were two tall black PA stacks, with a double set of cabinets towards the top, that looked like two giant black crucifixes on either side of the stage. The effect was apparently so ominous that the next day, though perhaps following year, yellow and orange crepe streamers were taped around them to dilute that illusion (...or maybe to give an idea of airflow for the sound guys??) Jerry was in black with a white collar, so was nicknamed Padre Garcia by our group for awhile. The wind was blowing quite a little gale which was evident when white noise and a music collage was pumped through earlier to tune the sound. When the Dead were on stage, they were much louder but the sound was still being batted to the left and right, sometime going inaudible altogether in the strong breeze. I saw Jerry as Professor Fate challenging the elements with his mighty PA system, only moments later to remind me of Peter Lorre as The Raven being swatted around by the wind. I love watching the Dead struggle with new situations (I'm not sadistic, I just like seeing them challenge themselves), and this Nature vs The Dead was very dramatic. And just when we thought it could get any crazier,....a fuckin' FREIGHT TRAIN goes flying RIGHT past the back of the stage and across the lagoon trestle!! We absolutely lost it then! Waaaayyyyyyy Cooooooolll!
Second set Playin' medley was also a bit crazy but somehow tame, including more meteorological, sensory, and railroad overload, but we eventually all came happily back to Earth... except maybe not quite; pal Derm was driving us back to the campsite, and his pilot's license and training came in real handy when we discovered that the freeway overpass we were on seemed about 5000 ft up in that big blue sky!
Next day was the show that Blair Jackson's first Dead book opens with; Crazy Fingers, babbling surf (and babbling DeadHeads). There were more memorable weekends at the Holiday Inn, campsite, even a seal incident in the lagoon, and great beautiful music of course, but this first one was unique.
I didn't get there till the next year, but it's STILL bringing back memories.
I vividly recall standing behind two guys who were not moving, not a toe tap, head bob, nothing. Garcia was seemingly forcing his way through a weird electronic glitch in the system between Playin' and China Cat. Just as he was coming out on top and settling into a smoking China Cat intro, one of the cats in front me passes out. TOO HOT. He was okay and so I just danced. Later cooled off in the Pacific Ocean with some body surfing. Next day...Crazy Fingers! And was that truckin at the end of the first set? What a weekend. Estimated made tons of sense on the Ventura county line hehehheheh.
Very nice way to explain to anyone who was not there. I so loved this place.I got so sun burned at this show that come the 2nd night my face hurt. Was it the smile "SMILE" ON MY FACE OR THE SUN? i SURE DON'T CARE. One of the best weekends of my teen years. After the show it seemed everywhere I turned someone was playing a copy of this show. That happened many times over the years but never outside to my memory. We were all in a good mood after these shows. On to Tempe then the rocks Again your discription is pefrect. Thank you.