Monday, March 21, 2011


Here's the handbill you might have seen back in the magical, mystical days of the early seventies when the Springfield Creamery had a potluck and the Keseys invited good pals The Grateful Dead.

Chuck Kesey (author Ken's brother) and his wife Sue started the creamery in 1960, and, according to the official history, it was "the first fully-cultured probiotic yogurt in the US." The obvious joke (obvious at the time, anyway) was that Kesey put acid in the acidophilus, which wasn't true, of course. Well, okay, he might have. Ken Kesey and the Pranksters were good friends with the Dead, who back in 1966 or so stoked their infamous "acid tests" with live music (and acid, which was legal at the time, supplied by their pal Owsley, the mysterious chemist and sound engineer who died this week in a car crash in Australia. But that's another story.) Anyway, the Dead were back among their friends for a sunny day and the show has since become legendary.

"Jack Straw" performed by the Grateful Dead live at Old Renaissance Faire Grounds August 27th, 1972.

This overgrown potluck was held at Old Renaissance Faire Grounds in Veneta, Oregon, on August 27th, 1972. The Dead played a great show, as you can tell from these clips. It was another time, one filled with hippies and children and scampering dogs, a time when one could almost believe the Age of Aquarius was just around the corner--if you were high, anyway. (Outside this Utopian village the War was grinding on, Nixon was in the White House and the country was fiercely divided between the Hawks and Doves. Sound familiar?) These snippets of archival film are something for the time capsule, so don't judge the scene too harshly. Believe me, the current crop of pop music will look silly thirty-nine years from now. Even so, be forewarned: this is 1972 and there are plenty of longhaired hippies, and some are wearing their birthday suits, and while this may look funny now remember at this point in time the rest of the country would be reelecting Nixon by a landslide in a couple months--and boy does that look dumb in retrospect. Drop your ego and preconceptions, loosen your neck-tie and stop worrying about looking silly. This is a gathering of the tribes at a safe haven in the Oregon countryside, a time to leave the square, straight world behind for one glorious summer afternoon. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear.

Grateful Dead TicketOne more thing. According to the official record, "The Yogurt making times of the 1970’s remained challenging for Springfield Creamery and the Kesey family, to the extent that the Grateful Dead was called upon in 1972 to perform a benefit concert for the Creamery. It was an epic and historical event. More than 20,000 people attended, entering the outdoor summer event in Veneta, Oregon using their tickets, which were printed on Nancy's Yogurt labels. A movie was made of the concert entitled 'Sunshine Daydream’ and the creamery was kept afloat, thanks to the help of the Grateful Dead and 20,000 of their friends on that hot summer day."

"China Cat Sunflower," August 27th, 1972.

No comments: