As SKULL & ROSES house band THE ALLIGATORS make their way up to Oregon to join forces with local group the GARCIA BIRTHDAY BAND for another Road To Ventura warmup party this weekend at The Den in Portland (Fri, Feb. 23rd) and Whirled Pies in Eugene (Sat, Feb. 24th) we figured we would take a look and listen at a historical day in Grateful Dead history to keep the memory bank flowing.

The GRATEFUL DEAD have a long and storied past in Oregon, especially given the fact that Merry Prankster and acclaimed author, Key Kesey, moved up to the Eugene area post-San Francisco Haight-Ashbury days, with many fellow Deadheads following suit. But, one of the Greatest Stories Ever Told might very well be when Kesey’s brother and wife (Chuck and Sue) asked the band to come play a show and raise funds to help keep their Springfield Creamery from going under.

Chuck and Sue attended some of the earliest Dead shows, including the Acid Tests, and felt that the band was essentially family by that point. They were in financial straits at this particular point in time, and in threat of losing their farm. So, what better way to try and save it than throwing a GRATEFUL DEAD concert in their backyard (or a whole 13-miles away, but who’s counting)? It could only end up being a positively probiotic kind of thing, right?

Once the band said “yes,” Chuck and Sue had to get a stage built and a concert venue prepped in 28 days. Crazier things have happened, but that’s a whole lot of bite to chew, if you ask us. They ended up renting out some space at the Oregon Country Fair a few miles down the road, worked out all the details, and made magic happen for what ended up being ***20,000+ peace loving folks (***attendance numbers may vary, but that sure as hell is a lot of hippies).

Tickets were $3.00 to $3.50 at the gate – Sue recollects “I don’t know why we would have ever wanted to make change at the gate? But anyway.” – girls were going around with five-gallon buckets collecting the funds, and Chuck was tasked with making sure there was plenty of drinking water to go around, as it was HOT in Oregon.

All seemed to be going well on that front until folks started showering with the water, when Chuck remembers somewhat fondly at this point, “And about that time—the top popped open on the tank truck and out came a naked hippie that had been swimming inside of it. And I realized, ‘we’ve lost our water.’” Hippies….

No worries though. With flower children stripping down to their nothing wear, all seemed to continue on in a relatively positive manner as the GRATEFUL DEAD treated everyone to a 3-set show that is remembered to this day. The music never stopped, we got the Sunshine Daydream documentary out of it, an exploratory 31-minute “Dark Star” was performed, and the Springfield Creamery was saved and continues to live on to this day! Chuck and Sue’s daughter Sheryl is co-owner and runs the operation now (their son Kit is in the concert business in Eugene). What more could you ask for?

Chuck conveyed his sentiments towards the Dead, “This is the greatest band ever invented by humanity,” he said. “It is.” We couldn’t agree more. Take a listen to the show, whether you are listening for the first time, 20th time, or were actually there to witness it in person.

And come out and party with us this weekend as the GARCIA BIRTHDAY BAND and THE ALLIGATORS keep the GRATEFUL DEAD – Oregon affair alive and well this Friday and Saturday (Feb 23rd and 24th) at The Den in Portland and Whirled Pies in Eugene, respectively.

The Den (Portland) Get Tickets
Whirled Pies (Eugene) Get Tickets

Thanks to Tiffany Eckhert/KLCC for the incredible interview and backstory:

The GRATEFUL DEAD – 8/27/92 Setlist – Old Renaissance Faire Grounds – Veneta, OR
Promised Land
Me and My Uncle
Black Throated Wind
China Cat Sunflower
I Know You Rider
Mexicali Blues

Playing in the Band
He’s Gone
Jack Straw
Bird Song
Greatest Story Ever Told

Dark Star
El Paso
Sing Me Back Home
Sugar Magnolla
Casey Jones

See The Alligators and Garcia Birthday Band at Skull & Roses Festival!