Hip Hip Hip
Please, NO GRATEFUL DEAD!!!!
This is Part Three of my:
In fact, I was a hippie chick (kinda)!
For my good friend Maw who had no idea that I had been a hippie chick. Read below for Parts One and Two.
Alicia and me sitting on her bus at Lost Creek
I should clarify that while I spent a good part of my early twenties at gatherings in the forest, wearing long flowing gauze skirts (and nothing else if I was at the Oregon Country Fair), naked at hotsprings, and staying in refurbished school buses, I was NOT a fan of the Grateful Dead and had a very hard time understanding Deadheads. Their full-on conformity and predictability really rubbed against my anarchist tendancies.
Me looking a little less hippie
In spite of my physical appearance, I was a much better fit with the edginess of the Butte Tavern, which was the total antithesis of a bunch of doe-eyed kelp dancers, swaying in unison in the sun. This is probably why I was drawn to the grittiness of the band The Crawdads of Pure Love, which my boyfriend Dave was a part of -- even though the chaos around their lives could drive me nutty too. However, it was FAR more interesting.
I know I said my first introduction to the world of the underground alternative scene in Eugene was the Butte; however for clarification, that was my first introduction to living in that world and being a part of the community.
Merry Prankster bus
My real first experience was like baptism by fire. I moved to Eugene from Montana in July 1987 to go to college at the U of O where one of my best friends, Kim had already been for a year. Kim found a huge house with a swimming pool that had been a Budhhist temple in the seventies for 7 of us to live in. Our landlady was an older Budhhist hippie, who owned and lived in my favorite home in Eugene several blocks away. Kim was working at the Hillyard Street Market with a friend of hers named Sarah. As it turned out, Sarah and her boyfriend James were part of the Kesey/Babbs clan. So, two days after I arrived, I found myself "celebrating" 4th of July out at Ken Kesey's and Ken Babbs' place at Lost Creek (my friend Alicia lived near by). The bus was there, the drugs were there, and there was some funky ass experimental music that they were trying out. A total blast! and very surreal.
Merry Prankster bus at Keseys' out at Lost Creek
An aside: A couple years later, Simon Babbs was in one of my printmaking classes. He was a total prankster! - very sharp and very funny. Not a hippie dippy kind of guy, however, Simon did have little crush on me and he would follow me around campus serenading me, totally embarrassing, but I loved it!
Babbs Brother Band (Simon is in the center)
My first real intro to the music scene was the Reggae Allstars: Steve Smith on vocals an guitar, Sequoia on bass, and Gordon on drums. Kim was friends with Sequoia, and Steve would come over and hangout with us by the pool; later, I came to know Gordon as a regular (on the pay phone) at the Butte. Since our house was so huge, we would have big blowout parties with bands about 3 times a year. The Reggae Allstars played at our first.
OnceI started working at the Butte though, the band scene was my life, especially since I had to work every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night (Frankie and Dennis strategically scheduled me on band nights to draw more young hippy chics in, though the bands did that themselves much more than me). And since Dave was in 2 or 3 bands (Band of People, the Crawdads of Pure Love, and Burnt Toast & Jam), I seemed like a groupie for the first couple of years (then I got sick of the late nights, dragging gear around, drugs, booze, and the real groupies).
Crawdads Dave Hicks on steel guitar and Dr. D on bucket bass, Joe in background
The Crawdads of Pure Love were Chuck White on guitar, Dave Heath on mandolin, Chip Cohen on fiddle and banjo, and Dr. D on bucket bass and bones (originally), then Dave Hicks on steel guitar and mandolin, and Kenny Sokolov on drums came along later, and finally Shaun Dicoster came on on guitar. They didn't call themselves Crawdads without good reason; they were definately bottom feeders and proud of it! I'm sure that was part of the alure for me. That and their music, a combination of bluegrass, folk, and old timey jug band.
The music scene was booming in Eugene in the early nineties. Bands formed and broke up every other week then remixed with other musicians in the same boat -- literally a game of musical chairs. The bands in my community included the ones listed above and Mission District (John Schwartzman, Alan Toribio, Mike Walker, Jeffrey Powell, and Phil White), Nine Days Wonder (Ben Sturgil, Dave Coey, Mike Walker, Peter Bach, and Phil White), Midnight Sun (Peter Bach and I can't remember who else anymore), the Renegade Saints ( Mike Walker, John Shipe - formerly Schwartzman, Alan Toribio, Dave Coey, and Andy Mitchell.)
Dave Coey and Ben Sturgil with Nine Days Wonder
Yup all boy bands -- totally lame for a place that prides itself on being so radical, but that's just the tip of Eugene's contradictions. These bands were also pretty much all Grateful Dead knock offs -- though better because they would cover some pretty great other bands (Santana, Clapton, Blind Faith, Allman Brothers etc). Our favorite venues were Taylor's (made famous in the Blues Brothers movie), the Butte Tavern, the WoW Hall, and I can't remember the others anymore. Oh yeah, Jim Guthrie's backyard.
The Renegade Saints (Allan, Dave, John, Mike, and Andy)
However, as I started to become more and more bored with the hippie music, the Cherry Poppin' Daddies hit the scene with their big band funk punk sound. Steve Perry and Dan Schmid lived next door too and would often come over and hang out around the pool. My friends Kim, Katie, and I would love to go over to the Vets Club and swing out to the Daddies (the name went through so many different transformations).
The Cherry Poppin' Daddies at the WoW Hall (that's my friend Pam in the air)
Other highlights of this period included the time that Steve Weber from the Holy Modal Rounders came down to play with the Crawdads (Chip Cohen, who is truly brilliant fiddle player often played with the Rounders). Then there was another time that the Crawdads opened for Johnny Paycheck in Coos Bay.
Steve Weber playing with the Crawdads of Pure Love at the WoW Hall
I have to say it's been a great trip down memory lane writing about these times and surfing the web to see where folks I haven't stayed in touch with are at now. Here's some of the scoop:
Dave Hicks is still in Eugene and playing in a newband, Wellsville.
Chip Cohen is still playing often in the northwest.
Chip and Crawdads
Al and John today
Dave Coey is still playing music in Portland, sometimes with Al Toribio.
Cherry Poppin' Daddies, 2005
The Daddies are still playing and touring.
Next post will be Oregon Country Fair.