by Freedom Dancer
Entering the iconic Fillmore Auditorium on Friday night, looking hip with a colorful peasant blouse cinched by a thick leather black belt, along with jeans and boots, I put up with a required frisking as we entered the historic venue. Even Bill Graham would have raised his eyebrows to learn that in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, an East Bay chic like me had never visited the concert hall, so rich with the history of the Bay Area music scene.
A Lebowski-ish bearded mellow man with a ski cap asked me open my tiny purse to make sure I wasn’t bringing drugs in to see a bluegrass band concert.
Drugs? You say? Why I am one of the only people I know who didn’t try marijuana in the 60’s, I said, straightening my babushka and looking at him square in his swollen irises.
Well, you are really missing out, my dear,he responded lovingly.
It’s not good for your brain or your health or your lungs,I said sweetly and softly.
What? are you, a doctor?
Yes, I answered, a neurologist, so I know what I am talking about.
And with that, I entered a world of yore and lore–the Fillmore in the Fillmore.
All the musical names of my youth had played the Fillmore: Jefferson Airplane, Tower of Power, Johnnie Cash, Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, the Grateful Dead, the Doors, Credence Clearwater Revival, the Allman Brothers, the Who and other groups known for psychedelic tripping to the light fantastic.
And groups not of my youth but of my kids’ youth stood on the stage and wailed or blasted or whined or hooted: the Dead Kennedys, the Smashing Pumpkins, Queen Latifah, the Mother Hips, Jefferson Starship and Counting Crows.
We headed up to the Poster Room where colorful posters of most of the headliners lined the walls like a super-sized stamp collection.
What I didn’t know was that I would have to stand for the entire show.No seats!
My lower back and feet grumbled upon learning this news, but hey!, I’m Cheri Block, hipster from the East Bay, yeah…Gramma Hipster with a glass of respectable Chardonnay, yeah…
My short-girl survival instincts told me to hustle to the front of the stage as fast as I could or I would see nothing. That move proved to be genius.
Flanked by my 13-year-old musical grandson, my 6’2″ son-in-law, my daughter (who earned several yellow cards and one red card in her high school soccer career) and my husband wearing a very cool cap and who is not to be messed around with when things get tense–I felt, well, safe.
By the time the headliners were in full throttle, it was the 60’s. People with grey hair (Class of 68), beards and hippie shirts, young Appalachians and Alaskan-looking fishing and hunting men chugging one craft beer after another, solitary weirdos doing their version of the bluegrass hokey-pokey by themselves in the corner, lots of clean-cut folks having a good ol time, and yes, baby boomers vaporizing weed and blowing it into the air (for all of us to breathe)–so much for checking for DRUGS at the door.
The New Orleans dinner we had at the Elite Cafe, about as heavy as an anvil in my stomach, proved to be a sustaining fact0r throughout a curious blast through the past.
How lucky was I to have been to my first Fillmore concert at the age of 66 with my 13-year-old grandson?
On the way home in the BART car, I put on my doctor hat and discussed Mary Juana with him. He is a jazz musician with a great brain and good judgement, so I think he listened.
Right on, you groovy dudes!