inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #51 of 110: David Gans (tnf) Wed 27 Nov 13 16:36
    

I never had any sense of their being artificial. I liked their music.  But I
didn't know the story.
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #52 of 110: David Gans (tnf) Wed 27 Nov 13 16:36
    
(Not sure that I would have cared if I had known)
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #53 of 110: Gary Burnett (jera) Wed 27 Nov 13 17:20
    
Yeah, I was just surprised, because I didn't know the story.  But, at
that time (largely because of the success of the Monkees, who I also
unashamedly love) there was such a stigma attached to bands that were
somehow not "real," that it made me wonder.  As far as I know,
"manufactured" pop bands like the Monkees never got played on FM radio.

Probably a dumb question, but I did wonder.  Generally, I think that
the distinction between "authentic" and "fake" is absurd -- it's either
good music or, in the words of Duke Ellington, it's "the other kind." 
But it has been a distinct concern in the rock universe since the 60s,
at least.
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #54 of 110: Rosie McGee (rosiemcg) Wed 27 Nov 13 18:02
    
It never once crossed my mind that Stoneground was a 'manufactured'
group, nor in any category with the Monkees, who were put together
originally for a TV show. As I understood it at the time, Tom had Sal
Valentino under contract or was at the very least helping to guide his
post-Beau Brummels career as a friend, and one who acknowledged Sal's
unique talent. He pulled together some talented local musicians to
create Stoneground, with Sal as lead singer, to open for the Grateful
Dead on the Hollywood film project, the Medicine Ball Caravan in 1970.
The plan was for those two bands to be the 'house bands' for the
Caravan that went across the country, mounting small outdoor festivals
to be filmed for the "Woodstock on wheels" film concept. (Warner Bros.
would also fly in their other acts, such as B.B. King, Joni Mitchell,
The Youngbloods, etc., to round out the festival - which they did.)

The night before the Caravan of 140 folks in buses, trucks,
Winnebago's, etc. was set to leave, Dead manager Jon McIntire (wisely)
pulled them out of the project, creating a dilemma that Donahue solved
within minutes by moving Stoneground up to primary house band. I don't
know how long they'd been together when the Caravan left, nor how much
they'd rehearsed, but they pulled together some good performances
nonetheless. After the Caravan, they got more serious about being a
band and stayed together for some time. Incidentally, it was when the
Caravan ended in London that they acquired Pete Sears as a bass player.

I devote an entire chapter in my book to the Caravan, including many
photos. It was a very unusual episode in that era - one that very few
people have even heard of. The film that was made? It totally sucked. I
say why in the book. Bad film, but a good story.

As for Sal Valentino, he did take some time off during his career, but
he's still singing (beautifully) and being the cool guy he always was.
I saw him about a year ago for the first time since soon after the
Caravan, and went up and re-introduced myself to him.
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #55 of 110: Gary Burnett (jera) Wed 27 Nov 13 18:51
    
That was one of my favorite chapters in the book, partly because of my
fondness for Stoneground, partly because I knew so little about their
story, and partly because of the wonderful teepees! 

I've never seen the film, but after reading I would really like to see
the film as released (maybe not so much) and the film that could have
been made (very much).
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #56 of 110: David Gans (tnf) Wed 27 Nov 13 20:21
    
SToneground bringing Pete Sears to the Bay Area was a great gift!!
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #57 of 110: Rosie McGee (rosiemcg) Wed 27 Nov 13 20:46
    
Interesting, Gary, that it was one of your favorite chapters, and yet,
it almost didn't get written or at least included. 

Since the bulk of my book covers a ten-year span - 1964-1974 - in the
San Francisco music scene, especially  with the Dead, I'm sure you can
imagine the variety of stories from which I had to choose. While I was
compiling the stories and making those choices, I got a lot of advice,
most of it solicited but some of it not so much. A few people felt
that, because the Dead weren't really part of the Caravan story except
for ALMOST being its house band, I should leave it out of my
Dead-centric memoir.

But ultimately, I left it in because it FITS there, and while it's
obscure as hell in some ways, it has elements that reveal a lot about
the scene: the music and those who created it; the use of drugs in
different contexts; the attempt to recreate a seminal event (Woodstock)
by artificial means, etc. 

And after all, the memoir is mine; and as I explain in the book, the
adventure of going on the Medicine Ball Caravan, and then on to London
and Paris, was in many ways a turning point in my life.
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #58 of 110: David Gans (tnf) Wed 27 Nov 13 21:09
    

I saw no reason to complain about its inclusion. I love all the chapters!

And besides, the GD used that time to record AMERICAN BEAUTY, so: everybody
wins!
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #59 of 110: Rosie McGee (rosiemcg) Wed 27 Nov 13 23:16
    
Interesting side note for those of you who haven't read my book, and
aren't aware .... The Alembic sound and recording crew were under
contract to the film to provide the P.A. and live recording for the
concerts being filmed, for the film and the soundtrack LP. This was
signed when it was assumed that they'd be recording the Dead, along
with the other bands in the film. When the Dead bowed out at the last
minute, the Alembic crew and engineers had to go on the Caravan. As a
result, AMERICAN BEAUTY was recorded by others.

It was on the Caravan that I really got to know and got close to the
folks at Alembic, which led to their offering me a job after our
return.
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #60 of 110: John Rottet (unkljohn) Thu 28 Nov 13 05:33
    

Rosie, could you talk a bit about your relationship with Donna? Being the 
only woman in the band, I was wondering if you had any insights about her, 
or if she was just another band member in your eyes?
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #61 of 110: Rosie McGee (rosiemcg) Thu 28 Nov 13 09:24
    
Sure. Donna Jean is one of my favorite people - smart, totally
passionate about her family, music and life in general, and funny as
hell. She also has been an extremely loyal supporter of my creative and
business efforts.

We got to know each other on the Europe '72 tour, sitting together on
the road cases behind the amps during the gigs. Sometimes, Keith would
be sleeping on the bus in our long drives between countries, and she
and I would sit together and talk. At the end of the tour, I made a
deal with them to put up my tie-dyed teepee from the Caravan for the
summer behind the Forest Knolls house they'd rented, in exchange for
house-sitting when they went on the road. 

As for, "was she just another band member?", not sure how to answer
that. Our friendship back in the day was initially based on both of us
being women in that male-centric environment, with an awareness that we
both, alternately, were privileged to be onstage with the band. She
never took that privilege lightly, and in fact, was kind of blown away
by it when she reflected on it. (This in no way implies that I was a
performer like her - I wasn't delusional about my time onstage - but we
shared that acknowledgement that it was a privilege.)

Even being a musician herself, she also related to me as a woman who'd
been the girlfriend of a musician, and all that goes with that - we
talked about that.

We lost touch for many years after Keith died, reuniting about 10
years ago - or was it 20? Sure don't know any more. :-)

We've become very close in the last ten years or so, although we very
rarely see each other in person. 

But our intermittent phone conversations are long, loud, raucous, and
alternately deep and totally silly. We've both made the comment that
we've become like sisters, and gotten to know each other far better 
than we ever did 'back in the day', when there was so little
opportunity for one-on-one friendship to develop in that Grateful Dead
juggernaut.
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #62 of 110: David Gans (tnf) Thu 28 Nov 13 09:31
    
I've spent a bit of time with Donna Jean over the last 15 years or so, and
I've sung with her on many occasions. Last summer we both participated in
"DSO High School," a week-long music camp at the Full Moon Resort near
Woodstock NY. One of my favorite moments of that week was "moderating" a
discussion with DJ and Betty Cantor-Jackson; mostly I just sat back and
listened to the two of them telling stories.

Rhoney Stanley recently published a book, "Owsley and Me" - another view of
the Grateful Dead world from a female perspective. It would be great to hear
from Betty, and from MG, too!
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #63 of 110: John Rottet (unkljohn) Thu 28 Nov 13 10:06
    

Thanks Rosie! And yes, David, hearing from Betty and/or MG would be a 
wonderful thing. Beth tried to pester MG several times about helping her 
in writing her story to no avail....I hope she will someday.
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #64 of 110: Gary Burnett (jera) Thu 28 Nov 13 11:18
    
I've heard MG talk particularly eloquently about the experience of
being female in that male world.
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #65 of 110: David Gans (tnf) Thu 28 Nov 13 11:19
    
Candace Brightman, too, but only in private.
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #66 of 110: Dave Waite (dwaite) Thu 28 Nov 13 12:21
    
My favorite Candice Story was when I worked at Shoreline - That big
white tent lights up beautifully and Candace, added some lights into an
area on both sides of the state that we used for overflow when the
disabled areas invariably filled up.  She hadn't used that space in the
past, but for some reason - this year there were plenty of lamps
shooting up at the canvas of the tent.

I mentioned to her, after the 1st show - in  a quick exchange in
passing that this was limiting our ability to seat additional disabled
folks that were coming to the show. 
 
the very next day - those lights were gone, and we had additional
seating for about 15 folks on each side  - way up, but decent seating. 
I made a point to go over and thank her.  She thanked me.
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #67 of 110: John Rottet (unkljohn) Fri 29 Nov 13 08:39
    

Cool, Dave!
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #68 of 110: Dave Waite (dwaite) Fri 29 Nov 13 10:36
    
Typo up there - state should be 'stage'.  My apologies for any
confusion.
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #69 of 110: Rosie McGee (rosiemcg) Fri 29 Nov 13 11:21
    
Good story, Dave. 

Although I don't want to get into discussing specific women of the
scene, I must say that it's no accident that so few of us have written
memoirs. I've had conversations with others women who will remain
nameless, about that very thing. A few quotes or paraphrases: "I could
NEVER do that...betraying the confidences of my friends, especially the
guy I was with"; "All people really want is the dirt, and I prefer to
let sleeping dogs lie."; "Too many of the people in my story are still
alive, and I don't think they want their dirty laundry aired." It goes
on in that vein, women as the 'protectors', a role familiar in the
living of the story as well as when thinking about the telling.

Can you imagine any of these thoughts crossing the minds of the men
who might (or who did) write memoirs of that time? Maybe, there was
consideration of what stories to reveal and how to present them when
writing, but for some, not even that.

In comments I've gotten about my book from other women, particularly
women from our scene, the word "brave" has been used many times. Do you
think anyone ever told Steve Parish or Rock Scully or Phil Lesh that
they were brave to have written their memoirs?

Food for thought.
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #70 of 110: David Gans (tnf) Fri 29 Nov 13 11:31
    
Indeed.  But it's not just about "dirt." It is a very compelling story
on so many levels!
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #71 of 110: Rosie McGee (rosiemcg) Fri 29 Nov 13 12:44
    
Thanks, David. I made the choices that worked for me, both in which
stories to tell, and what to leave in/out about them. 

Overall, I think my book is fairly benign, considering some of what
went on around me. But that's because, as several reviewers have
pointed out as a positive thing, I really didn't have an axe to grind -
I was just telling my stories and sharing the photos that went with
them. I did my best to tell them from the mindset I was in back then;
adventurous, naive, romantic and hedonistic.

There were times, early on in the writing, when I thought I couldn't
possibly go through with it, but persevering was the best gift I ever
gave myself. Talked about 'lightening up'! Once I finished it and cut
it loose to sink or swim, I had an unexpected sense of lightness and
relief.
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #72 of 110: Gary Burnett (jera) Fri 29 Nov 13 13:07
    
Were there stories you would have liked to include but didn't?
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #73 of 110: Rosie McGee (rosiemcg) Fri 29 Nov 13 13:32
    
No. 

As a self-published author, I was the decision maker on everything to
do with my book - good, bad, indifferent. I certainly sought opinions
from people I trusted, but ultimately, the choices were mine.

As a (female) friend of mine from that era said recently, "Well, I
read some things in there that made me uncomfortable; and if it had
been my book, I certainly would not have told that story or put things
quite that way. But ultimately, it's YOUR story, not mine, and I
respect that."

Incidentally, she's one of the ones who has said, "Oh, I could NEVER."
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #74 of 110: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Sun 1 Dec 13 13:00
    
How did you find the self publishing road? From an outsider
perspective it seems to have worked out OK. I assume the appearance of
the print edition was due to popular demand and the success of the
electronic form.
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #75 of 110: Howard Levine (hll) Sun 1 Dec 13 15:41
    
Hi Rosie - After hearing the interview with you on the way home from Farm
Aid I went to your website and got your picture of Jerry at Chateau
d'Herouville in 1971.  Could you talk a little about that trip/event?

Thanks!
  

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