The so called Lake Placid test is one of the top five Grateful Dead shows I have been too, not withstanding it was a Monday night, cuz in my opinion the Dead played their best on weird off nights when nobody was
looking. This was to be the first night of this particular Fall run for me and my gang of misfits. We started in two cars heading from Rochester up into the great Adirondack mountains for the 5 hour journey. We arrived to a very brisk, cool mountain air, chilly but not in the extreme and ended up at nighttime in this Main Street America throwback to the good old days of who knows when.
The Deadheads were everywhere because there was nowhere to hide, as Mirror Lake protects one side of town and the Mountains the other, so if you were not on Main Street USA you were LOST. Our group was evenly split between the guys and gals, and oh we were so young and innocent. The electricity was in the air and everyone knew this was special, you see, we were about to violate the sacrosanct Olympic Winter Ice Arena with our brand of Americana. Hey now were the Deadheads, and here we come walking down Main Street, making fun with everyone we meet, hey now were the Deadheads, people say we Deadhead around, were not trying to be anything, but then again here we are hanging around. The locals had not seen anything like this before and stared slack jawed at the heads as we giggled our way out of van doors onto sidewalks of yesteryear with an almost childlike irreverence to innocence. The town movie theater was a throwback to a post WWII generation, the marquee proclaiming a movie from 1982 as the feature presentation. We knew we were in the right place when a head asked with the wag of a finger, do you have a miracle?
In this time capsule strode the new cosmic cowboys and cowgirls from the back streets of Every City, USA. We of the new striving to outwit the old as they don't know what we are up to and we guess they never will. It is plain to see that they cannot tell nothing except the smiles on our faces as we dripped little giggles everywhere around town. The cosmic joke completely escaping the local Hockey and Ice skating crowd as they ask if we would like to come into the local watering hole and drink to our hearts delight. Unfortunately for them and quite accidently lucky by us we were not interested in those particular spirits. You see Mother Earth and Gaia had become one by the time we reached the foothills and all of us were lucky to escape the encroaching dragons breath of the mountain evil and with our feetsies thankfully pointed straight at the ground.
The alternative meant a night in the Tupper Lake jail with absolutely no sympathy at all for our brand of humor. In any case I digress, we landed safely and as we walked across the parking lot or did I mean outdoor Ice Rink and after meeting many like minded souls we ran into a young lovely who had no direction and certainly did not possess anything materially. It was just by luck at that moment I was in juxtaposition, a complete smile of rapture, and goosed bumps moist with love, I decided on the spot and without regard for any gain to lend a hand or ticket as it were for free to the said whirling dervish. Almost immediately I was taken aback by the howls of consternation and threats of lost gasoline money and what would happen if we did run out of the petrol, and how could you give that ticket away???? While laughing and tears of threats and joy ensued. While my head was in transition from the compete happiness of abandon in giving through the guilt of having given the said dervish smiled a smile for all mankind to see, and all was well with the world, for a moment. She danced, we danced , we hugged. I was alright and everything would always be alright. In that moment all was forgiven and all was blessed. We were one with the night and everything was cool.
But....there was a hole...I saw it in the distance..and it was the entrance to low and behold an Ice Hockey arena where a few years before the cold war was fought by American College students and amateur ice skaters against the Military might of the Soviet Union or as Ronny Raygun would have it the great Satan. I guess he was a tad early to have known about Terrorism..or maybe he was a bit lazy in his history lessons at the Hollywood prep school for advertisements. It was a Morning Dew moment for me and having lived through all the duck and covers one could possibly endure I felt proud to be an American for a moment. HA! If only for the fact that we had outlasted the paranoia of the nuclear scare. But crap my pants nothing has really changed. Only the players have...bummer man.
It was at that moment I was thrust back into reality, I had completely forgot my tape recording equipment. It was in Rochester, it was on the Moon, or could it be in the lobby of the Mars Hotel? Oh God what have I done, where was it?...damn I'm going straight and looking for my microphones. Oh thank goodness Shirley Temple.. the tape deck was close to my package, as at that time you had to hide such things. It's a good thing I was and am in touch with myself. It was not the band or crew you had to worry about it was the local constabulary of power hungry do gooders. The yellow jackets, the local head bangers, and weight lifters' who had it in their own minds of right and whatever is wrong. Show security is an oxymoron fer sure.
Fortunately for posterity and personal enjoyment you win again and Doodah had the Mic's and I had the tape recorder and another head had the wires, so all was perfect in an imperfect situation where the walls are dripping and a crying jag is almost certainly to be had if anything goes wrong. However everything was right and the next thing you know we are on the floor with equipment setup and the lights going down...ad then just as you think something else could happen....a brother steps up to play Sugaree to open the show !!!
It is a welcoming song, as the crowd slowly starts to move, sway to and fro and then about 10 minutes later there is a frenzy of hair, and legs, and arms all moving in time and all glistening in the bathing lights from the stage. Thus the start of The Lake Placid Test...and oh what a beauty it was!!! It seems just like yesterday, I think.
I won't delve into every song because you should do it on your own...but let me say this, if you don't listen to this a few times you won't get it. I was there, I taped it and it was a Wheel of Love and that is another story...if I hear back on this review I will lay the Wheel of Love Placid on you.
Inspiration, move me brightly. light the song with sense and color;
Hold away despair, more than this I will not ask.
Faced with mysteries dark and vast, statements just seem vain at last.
Some rise, some fall, some climb, to get to terrapin.
Counting stars by candlelight, all are dim but one is bright;
The spiral light of venus, rising first and shining best,
On, from the northwest corner, of a brand new crescent moon,
While crickets and cicadas sing, a rare and different tune,
In the shadow of the moon, terrapin station.
And I know well get there soon, terrapin station.
I can't figure out, terrapin, if it's the end or beginning, terrapin,
But the trains put it's brakes on, terrapin,
And the whistle is screaming, terrapin.
Right after the show we were all in our cars and by 2 AM were in Vermont and heading off to Maine for a Lobster breakfast and a show that night in Portland, Maine where we ran into Mickey jogging at Midnight through the streets of the downtown afterwards and then we finally managed to get a few hours of shuteye.
By the way I have seen the Grateful Dead on New Year's Eve, and at Red Rocks, Santa Fe, MSG, and also in Buffalo in 1977 so I don't think I am off base at all when grading this show as one of the best ever. Also the photo is of Jerry and John Kahn from the same year, I tried to find a decent photo of the Dead but I ran into a deadline.
Enjoy it for the time being at: