Sounds of the Era
The third night of the Straight Theater’s Grand Opening Sunday July 23, 1967 presented  The Grateful Dead,  Big Brother and the Holding Company starring Janis Joplin, Wildflower, The Phoenix and  Lights by Reginald & Straight Lightning.  The night held some important firsts and significant lasts. This was the last time the Grateful Dead would appear at the Straight with only one drummer. The next time the Dead played the Straight two months later Mickey Hart had joined the band creating the two drum
Grand Opening Poster
kit sound. This would be the last time we would hear the original Dead starring Jerry Garcia-lead guitar, Phil Lesh- Bass, Bob Weir rhythm, Bill Kreutzmann, drums, and Pigpen Ron McKernan, keyboards and lead vocal. This night they welcomed a guest to the stage and gave him a mic as the band did a live sound check making it sound like a Ken Kesey Acid Test. Neal Cassady, hipster star for Kerouac, prankster prototype, driver of the not only the  BUS, Further, but was a driving force for the generation. 
His poetic prose rap speeds from one subject and inflection to another like a staccato talking announcer describing racing cars speeding by on an oval track.  Neal describes each car only as it roars by the grandstands.  When three or four cars pass together he comments on each one almost simultaneously. The subjects seem to race by changing with each breath and have no connection with what came before or afterwards but if you are a careful listener you can pick out references, some from Dean Moriarity “On the Road” days, prankster humor, literary chatter, sports, current events, and his beloved Speed, Speed got some speed? while always  commenting on what is happening in the “Now”.

This night was the first theatrical use of a laser beam in a show in front of the public. The laser made by the Stanford Death Ray faculty was housed in a WW2 Ammo can and projected a ruby ray the size of a pencil eraser when it hit the stage. I preset the red spot superimposing it on Phil’s bass amp on-light upstage in front of the cyc and during Neal's rap started to jiggle it around ‘til the audience notices then panning it to Neal’s “Bare Greek Torso” place the glowing Ruby ray like a jewel in his belly button. Noticing the roar of laughter you can hear him say to the psychedelised crowd “I knew I should have worn more paisley.” The complete story of this wild evening as well many others from the era is told in detail my manuscript “The Straight on the Haight”

Enjoy these ancient tracks recorded Live at the Straight Theater by Luther Greene, Technical Director and Brent Dangerfield Recording Genius (6/30/44 - 5/8/98 ). It is  presented here for free in the interests of documenting the Straight Theater, Haight Ashbury Era for historical and social purposes.
All audio encoded with RealAudio - Get the player Free Free RA

July 23, 1967 Straight Theater - Grand Opening Day Three - Recorded  Live
Neal Cassady - extemporaneous poetry rap
- With Grateful Dead
Not All Cars Finish theTrip

Grateful Dead - Instrumental
Further On Down The Line

Neal At The Wheel
Neal at the wheel - click for full size image
Picture by unknown Prankster


Frumious Bandersnatch
Live at the Straight 1967
Frumious Bandersnatch You Gotta Believe

What Is A Bandersnatch? 1967

Sopwith Camel
Sopwith Camel Hello, Hello

The Great Morpheum

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