People used to ask me all the time how I came up with the band name, “Hillbilly Devilspeak.” It’s an interesting story, so I figured I would share it with you today. It’s a little long, so prepare for another two-parter. A thousand words just doesn’t go as far as it used to go in my day.
In October of 1991, I was invited to go to Northern California to see the Grateful Dead play four shows at the Oakland Coliseum. I had often heard how the infamous Halloween shows were a good time and wanted to see what was up with them. My friend, Chris, was driving up in his little Nissan or Toyota truck to the see the shows with another friend, Artie (RIP). I had moved back to Phoenix from Berkeley in August of that year, and I was itching to see my friends up there, so I was happy to go, even if it meant sitting bitch.
We struck out for the bay area on Saturday, October 26. It was late in the day, and we decided to find a beach with camping to sleep for the night before finishing the trip on Sunday morning, which was the day of the first show. We were driving along on the 101 N and just after we passed the sign for Neverland Ranch, we noticed there was beach with camping up ahead. Unfortunately, we missed the turn and had to flip a bitch (second time I’ve used that word!!!).
Of course, we got pulled over.
I’ve had mixed luck with CHiPs in my life. I’ve gotten a few tickets in California and I’ve gotten a few warnings, but this interaction with Johnny Law made me as nervous as I’d ever been in these situations. I may have neglected to mention earlier that in those days, I didn’t really have a steady job yet. I was supporting myself by taking advantage of certain relationships I had and leveraging this “knowledge” and access to now perfectly legal goods to my own financial gain.
Because I was going to see the Grateful Dead and had access to cheaper knowledge down in Phoenix than my bay area friends, I may have been transporting a fair amount of data in my leather jacket which was in the back of the truck. So, we got pulled over for an illegal U-turn and there we were on the side of the 101 talking to the officer about missing the campground sign when he asks if we have a gun.
Now, I guess I knew Chris was into guns, but I didn’t know he had one on him. When he piped up and said, “Yes, officer, I have a gun” my heart jumped into my throat. Not only had we been using some data on the road, but I also had all that data in the back of the truck and cops didn’t cotton to people bringing that much data into their state in those days. Not that it was a lot, but it was enough. I thought, for sure, we were going to be searched.
Luckily, Chris had done everything perfectly in terms of storing and transporting his gun. The officer and Chris talked guns for a bit, and he pointed us in the right direction to the campground and even told us the best place to park. The data gods smiled on me again.
We passed out soon after we got settled at the campground and the next morning we headed to the show. We still had a bit of a drive, but it went quickly, and we got to the Coliseum parking lot around 4pm. With hours to kill before the show, I had to time scout out a ticket since I didn’t have a single ticket to any of the shows. I figured that I could find one, or worst-case scenario, I would just hang with my friends up there and catch a ride home with the boys after the Halloween show.
If you never got to experience the parking lot at a Dead show, you missed out. Even for amateur cultural anthropologists with no real jam band affinity, it would still have been fascinating. The people watching alone was always incredible. Hippies (old and new), punks, relatively normal folks tripping their balls off, heck, just about every type of person was walking around that parking lot, especially in the spiritual home of the Dead.
On the day of Grateful Dead shows the parking lots were like a traveling village. You could get food and drink and data (lots of different types of data), and clothes and stickers, and data. You get the idea. People are friendly as hell because they are so full of knowledge that everything is beautiful. Unless, of course, someone slipped or sold them some bad data. I had that happen to me once and it was terrible.
Anyhow, I wandered around with Artie and Chris for awhile and looked for a miracle. In Dead lingo, a “miracle” was a free ticket. Those looking for a miracle would walk around holding a finger up hoping someone would see it and gift them a ticket. I had some cash in my pocket, so I was willing to pay for the ticket, too, and I had data to trade.
Speaking of data to trade, I did some trading that day as I met new friends around the lot. Pretty soon, my backpack was full of all different kinds of data. Nothing bad, mind you, that would get anyone dependent on information, but relatively harmless data, some of which might make your hard drive expand out into the universe and show you things you couldn’t see before. It was the Dead, you know.
Eventually Artie and Chris wanted to go inside and find a place to watch the show so we said farewell and I promised to meet them back at the truck if I couldn’t find them inside. As I walked around, I would occasionally hold up my finger requesting a miracle and low and behold, a rather normal looking guy approached me and said, “I may have an extra ticket.”
To be continued...
See you tomorrow.