Friday, August 11, 2006
A Special Night
I kind of had a funny feeling of anticipation as we drove up 89 to River Ranch. It had been one of those perfect summer days here at the big Lake, not too hot, the sky cloudless and that certain cobalt blue that can only be seen high up in the Sierra Nevadas. It was the 11th anniversary of Jerry Garcia's passing and I was going to see my friends again. And after pulling in and getting settled inside, I bumped into Marty Holland from the band and was surprised that not only did he remember me, but he thanked ME for writing the review of the Biltmore show last time they were here. I may never earn a dime as a writer, but that compliment was all the payment I could ever want for doing something I love.
I had told the boss that I wasn't working this night and he asked ME to escort tonights SPECIAL guest to the stage when the time came (I of course said yes), it was Mr. Merle Saunders. And it is impossible for me to show up at a Renegade show and not end up doing something to help out.
Melvin cranked up that big Hammond organ and the band ripped into Cat's under a moonless (so far) night of stars, and the party was on.
You would be hard pressed to find a more perfect backdrop for a night of Melvin Seals and JGB, with the Truckee River immediately behind the stage. And what a special guest, I had the great honor to meet Merle Saunders and help him to the stage. Now last time I saw Merle was at Comes A Time, and he had been so devastated by his stroke that all he could do was tap at the keys, and I saw him from a seat in the Greek, not in my wildest dreams could I have imagined meeting such a legend. This night with a sparkle in his eyes that lit up the night he wailed on that Hammond to the sea of joy gathered to witness this magic(and a LOT of hard work and rehabilitation). And as Merle took the stage, the full moon finally crested the mountains. Dressed in a bright shirt, shorts and that famous black leather hat, both his and Melvin's faces shined with a look of pure joy. It will stay with me always, that happiness, it turned a solemn anniversary into a few hours of bliss. And I know somewhere Jerry is smiling again.