Sunday, March 28, 2010


Hamilton 1992

I know this has been Dead-heavy lately, but Spring Tour hits pretty hard in March. I'll get back to other shows soon. Hell - I'm not even posting all of the March Dead shows. There are just too many. Maybe next year.

3/20/92 - Grateful Dead @ Copps Coliseum - Hamilton, Ontario, CANADA
3/21/92 - Grateful Dead @ Copps Coliseum - Hamilton, Ontario, CANADA

As much as I rag on 1992, this was one of my favorite runs. Our logic in attending these shows was simply "Well... We've never been to Canada and they're playing on a Saturday. What the hell. Let's go." Our friend of ours went with us. He had a friend that lived up there, so he figured it would be a good chance to catch up with her.

It never even occurred to us that there might be a problem crossing the border. That the authorities would just be waiting for the droves of hippies to come crossing over with all kinds of contraband. It didn't occur to us until we were sitting in line waiting to cross the border and saw car after car getting pulled over and searched. Crap. We weren't doing anything wrong, but it would make for a huge hassle to have all our stuff thrown on the side of the road while the authorities went through it. There was no slipping through under their radar either. Steve and I each had shoulder-length hair at the time. We were pretty much dressed head-to-toe in Guatemalan clothes. The car reeked of incense and sage and it was covered with about 20 or so Grateful Dead stickers. It was pretty obvious where we were headed.

But somehow we got through. Several cars in front of us got pulled over to be searched. The border patrol asked us why we were coming to Canada. We just said we were going to a show. They just kind of peeked through the windows, told us to have a good time and waved us through. Whew.

We got to the hotel, checked-in and drove off to the show. Time was closing-in though. There wasn't a lot of time left and the traffic was horrendous. The line to get into the parking lot went on forever. We eventually bailed and tried to find a parking place in a nearby neighborhood. After driving around for about 30 minutes somebody sitting in their front yard flagged us down. They told us we could park in their driveway for $20US. Awesome. We were only a few blocks from the arena with about an hour to spare. Sweet!

The 3/20 show was just fantastic. One of my favorites. The first set was nice enough, but the second set was just exactly perfect. A "Shakedown" that had the whole place dancing. Nice and long and relaxed. I love it when they just play and don't try to force it. Nice. Probably the best "Women Are Smarter" I've heard. No - seriously! Jerry was using the trumpet sounds and the whole song had this bouncy Mexican vibe to it. Great moment. A nice, spacey "Dark Star" - one verse sang, the other verse played by Jerry on guitar - nice. "Standing On The Moon" was another "best I've seen" version. They finally showed what a powerhouse ballad this can be. Wow. "Lovelight" has us all dancing and cheering again. And what better way to end a show in Canada than with a "U.S. Blues" encore. Ha! We were all thrilled after this one. There was no way they'd be able to match it the next night. (They didn't.)

We got back to our car after the show to find a note on our window. It said that if we wanted to come back again tomorrow, just park in the driveway and leave $20 in the mailbox. We were more than happy to do that. We came back the next day and left the money along with a note expressing our gratitude.

The next day we met up with J's friend in the parking lot. What a treat she was. It was too cold. The hippies were too dirty. She wanted to sit down. She didn't like the food. She didn't like the beer selections. Ugh. Steve and I just left them and told them we'd find them after the show. We didn't come all the way to Canada to have to deal with all that.

As expected, the second night didn't measure up to night #1. That's fine. We wandered around the arena, checking things out from various vantage points. Security was pretty non-existent. Good show. Good time.

After the show there was a HUGE bonfire in the parking lot. Eventually there was a big-ass drum circle, so we ran off to the car to get our drums (mine being the dumbek for which this blog is named.) We stayed there drumming for an hour or two. Everyone was playing, dancing, singing - just having a blast. The cops didn't care. They seemed to be kind of enjoying it. Somehow we ended up following a bunch of people over to a local mall, which was open, despite the fact that the stores were all closed. Inside the mall there were hundreds of deadheads - playing in the fountains, vending, drumming... just having a good ol' time. Again - the cops didn't seem to care. What a great f--ing time.

Drove home Sunday. I seem to recall there being a bit of a blizzard on the way home, which added about 3 extra hours to our trip. Ugh. It didn't matter though. Slow and steady got us home just fine.

Here's the flyer that came with the tickets. The bottom is torn, so I guess I made a donation to the cause - although I don't recall ever getting a cd. hrpmh.

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