Late March of any year is an awesome time to be alive because of any number of reasons — the warmer days, the longer days, the upbeat attitudes and the sense that the winter snow, rain, cold, slosh and anxiety of uncertain weather is all behind us.
For me, this time of year, the waning days of March in fact, can be my favorite time of year because it reminds me just how much I miss packing up the car, meeting up with friends and driving somewhere far to see the Grateful Dead on spring tour. My birthday on April Fool’s Day pushes everything into another dimension entirely.
When I was in college, I’d work in advance to finish any assignments prior to hitting the road, so my embrace of adventure with the Grateful Dead wouldn’t be encumbered by any daggers hanging over my head. The last thing I wanted was to be standing on the floor of an arena during an epic rendition of the Grateful Dead’s “Scarlet Begonias>Fire on the Mountain” when I would all of a sudden have a meltdown because I had forgotten some term paper that was due in a few hours and I was a few hundred miles away.
Ahhh good times!
I don’t drink coffee, but the aroma of coffee is one of my favorite smells. And I don’t eat a lot of bacon, but just like coffee, the smell of bacon makes me weak in the knees. My point is that I find as much if not more satisfaction in the wanting than the having. Which is why this time of year and my pining to be on the road with the Grateful Dead leaves me feeling fulfilled as opposed to empty.
The “Captain Lawrence Celebrates We Will Get By — Hazy IPA 16 oz. Can Release Party featuring Stella Blue’s Band” livestream is set for 8 p.m. on Fans.Live. Click here for the whole deal. With the pandemic shutting down the live music industry, this event is a benefit concert and donations will be accepted to support The Capitol Theatre, Garcia’s, and the NIVA Emergency Relief Fund, which was launched by the the National Independent Venue Association.
Stella Blue’s Band performs music of the Grateful Dead. The Capitol Theatre is owned by Peter Shapiro, the former owner of one of my favorite venues, the old Wetlands in lower Manhattan. And Pete runs Garcia’s, a bar and venue adjacent to the Capitol, in collaboration with the family of the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia. Pete is also the guy who runs the Brooklyn Bowls and he was the driving force behind the 2015 “Fare Thee Well” concerts in Chicago and California, which celebrated the legacy of the Grateful Dead.
With NIVA leading the charge, Pete remains at the forefront of the battle to save the live music industry in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic shutting venues — including The Cap — and sidelining tours. NIVA and venue owners like Pete in fact have been in the trenches of the battle to save venues and the music industry. NIVA is also responsible for convincing federal officials to allocate billions of dollars to save venues and for launching the #SaveOurStages initiative.
So that takes us to thecapitoltheatre.com, which reads, “To support The Capitol Theatre and independent live music venues around the country, Captain Lawrence Brewing Co. has released We Will Get By. The Hazy IPA 16 oz. can collaboration will support The Capitol Theatre and the NIVA Emergency Relief Fund, which helps assist venues at greatest risk of permanently closing.”
“We Will Get By,” according to The Cap’s website, is “a special one-off beer that has a peach and pineapple nose, fruity and bright flavor, with a slightly sweet finish. The brew pairs well with good tunes, good friends, and good times.”
Well right on!
So there’s a lot of moving parts to tonight’s livestream, which of course revolves around the chorus of the Grateful Dead song, “Touch of Grey.”
“We will get by/We will survive” was always a fist-pumper for me, a rallying cry that propelled us from arena to arena on spring, summer and fall tour with the Grateful Dead. Now the phrase is something I mutter to myself when I wake up each morning and wonder how long this pandemic insanity is going to last. “We will get by” are words I speak silently to myself each night, in between shutting the lights off and falling asleep, when I am most grateful that I have made it a year without contracting Covid-19. During my most discouraging moments, and there are many I invert the words for a “Will we get by?”
Well, tonight’s event from Garcia’s, Peter Shapiro’s infectious insistence that we must and will push forward and the faith in myself and the world around me, that I developed on tour with the Grateful Dead, are all sustaining me. Sure, vaccinations continue and many have a positive outlook that the pandemic is subsiding. But does anyone, from the White House on down, really know what’s going on with the pandemic? I don’t know that anyone can say anything with certainty.
I think back to 9/12/90, or it was probably the early hours of 9/13/90, when I got a flat tire on the New Jersey Turnpike while driving back from seeing the Grateful Dead perform at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. I had to be in class at 9 a.m. the following morning, at college in upstate New York, and I couldn’t figure out how to get the spare tire, bolted into the trunk, loose. Luckily, I had made it to the shoulder, but the flat tire was on the highway side and the tractor-trailers passing by were unforgiving.
Well, I made it through that dark, anxious night and we’ll all make it through this dark, anxious night that is consuming us all, as we struggle to get that spare tire out of the trunk.
Some days are good, some days are bad, some days will be worse. Through it all, “We will get by/We will survive.”