May 12, 2017

November 29-30, 1968: Hyde Park Teen Center, Cincinnati OH


To the Editor: 
This year the Hyde Park-Mt. Lookout Teen Center will attempt an unprecedented program of live entertainment for all teens in the area. As you know, we brought The Vanilla Fudge to Cincinnati recently, and on November 30 we will present The Grateful Dead in two public concerts. Later on we hope to bring other nationally-known groups to town. This will probably be the last midwest concert for the group, since they are breaking up in December. 
When our Teen Center first opened there was some criticism that all area teens could not take part. But everyone is welcome to attend these concerts. The two shows on November 30 are scheduled for 7:30 and 10 p. m. Tickets are $3.50 per person, and can be purchased in advance at the Center, 2753 Erie Avenue in Hyde Park. Since people were turned away at The Vanilla Fudge concert, we suggest concert goers buy their tickets ahead of time, for guaranteed admittance. 
On November 29 we will sponsor two concerts by The Grateful Dead for members and their guests. 
D. J. Weber 
Hyde Park-Mt. Lookout Teen Center

(from the letters to the editor, Cincinnati Enquirer, 9 November 1968) 



Hair and lights were all over the place last Friday and Saturday at the Hyde Park-Mt. Lookout Teen Center, as the Greatful Dead oozed above ground to do their thing.
The concert was one of those truly sensational things that hardly ever happens – but when it does, it’s an experience to be remembered.
Having had time to think, I analysed what it takes to make such a concert – what has to be there before the magic takes over.
I found there were many unique things going together to make the show a great one.
First of all, there was the geography of the teen council building itself. It’s small. So small in fact, that you can’t even call it dinky – you have to say it’s intimate.
Intimate surroundings are very conducive to a good rock show.
Of course there were no chairs. People just sat cross-legged on the floor like oriental meditators.
Then there’s the light show. A color wheel cast its projections on the wall behind the stage and shadows of light passed over the attentive group as pinpoints of color periodically burst above the crowd.
As the group plays, the lights keep a strange sort of time with the music – sometimes right in time, and sometimes so vastly dissonant that some sort of “theory of polarities” seems to be operating.
Of course there’s the group itself. They come on all smiles, chattering with the audience, tuning their instruments and just being ugly. Beautiful!
Their sound is something else again too. The Greatful Dead is a large group – three guitars, two sets of drums, two keyboards and a horn.
And their sound is everywhere. It fills every corner of the hall, but isn’t painfully deafening (as one might think in such cramped quarters); it vibrates every floorboard, but is never oppressive.
This is the kind of show the Dead like best. One where people don’t just sit like statues and listen because they paid $3 for a ticket, but one where people sit on the floor, dance, and in general “experience” the music.
Because you can feel the vibration of every drumbeat, because your eardrum feels the reverberation of every guitar scream, because every progression on the keyboard rattles your brain, because every swirl of light covers yours and the performer’s face and captures your eyes, because everyone is so close together and so near the stage, because everyone is lorded over by some huge communal over-soul, you don’t watch a Grateful Dead concert, you participate.
Yes, it’s all of these things which work together to achieve the final effect – that Greatful Dead charisma.
It is also these very same things which work together to make a great concert, and which also help to make rock music one of the most exciting, alive and ever-explosive fields on the horizon today. 

(by Jim Knippenberg, from the Cincinnati Enquirer, 7 December 1968) 



(Editor's Note: Last weekend Teen-Ager reporter Bob Buten was sent to the Hyde Park - Mt. Lookout Teen Center to hear and interview The Greatful Dead. Due to too many unusual circumstances, the interview didn't come off. But Bob put in so many hours at the place just trying to meet them, he felt some sort of story was in order. It follows.)

I left my house about 6:30 p.m. last Friday night to get to a concert at the Hyde Park-Mt. Lookout Teen Center which was to start at 8 p.m. You see, I live in Fort Thomas, Kentucky and knew I would be lost for the first hour, so I left early.
I was surprised to find myself at the Center a half-hour early! I met Jim Knippenberg, the Teen-Ager music columnist, outside and we talked for awhile about how he was going to rip O. C. Smith up in his next column. As we stood in the cold I told Jim what a nice guy O. C. Smith really was, once you get to know him. I don't know why I said that because I dont really know who O. C. Smith is.
When the Center doors finally opened I got inside, but I didn't stay there long. I was quickly booted out as a freeloader. After unsuccessfully trying to prove my identity as a Teen-Ager reporter to five or six unbelievers, I went back to my car and found it parked in by a bunch of other cars! Soon the Cincinnati Police came to my rescue and moved the cars so I could leave.
Now Saturday I was supposed to actually interview the Greatful Dead, because the director of the Center heard how I was asked to leave Friday night. He had it all set up for 1:30 p.m. But guess what? The group didn't show up until 5 p.m.!
During those long hours of waiting at the Center I did get to browse around and meet some of the members. The place is really great! I wish there was something just like it in Fort Thomas!
Since the interview didn't come off again I was given a ticket for the Saturday night concert. After another long drive I came back to Hyde Park and waited until 10 p.m. for the concert to start. The Greatful Dead came on around 11 p.m., and played three tremendous songs. While they played some guy with long hair tossed daisies into the crowd and got a lot of people excited. There was also a fabulous light show, when combined with the music, seemed to shake the building!
After the concert was over the whole group went downstairs and ate fruit. It looked so good I had a few pieces myself.
Would you believe I finally got to one of the Greatful Dead guys and I asked him what he was supposed to do while his buddies played their instruments. (You see, he just stood on the stage and jumped around with a mike that wasn't plugged in, so I was curious.) I didn't get much of an answer, but he seemed like a pretty cool guy. Soon they all disappeared, one by one, until there wasn't anyone left in the room. So I left, too.
Some interview! 

(by Bob Buten, from the Cincinnati Enquirer, 7 December 1968) 

Alas, no tape! 
See also: 

1 comment:

  1. Since there's already a Lost Live Dead post on these shows, with comments and memories, I'll forego very lengthy comments here.

    But briefly, I'll just note that the Dead's impending breakup was widely reported at the time - clearly they were telling reporters and promoters in fall '68 that they were breaking up. In this case, they told the promoter about a month before the show that they'd break up in December, after one last tour.
    They'd been making public breakup noises since at least September. Just possibly, this was some harebrained manager's scheme to draw more crowds ("their last show!")- or the Dead couldn't decide what to do. In any case, Tom Constanten joined the group a week before these shows, hardly the move of an expiring band; by this time the crisis was over.
    Note that one reporter mentions "two keyboards and a horn" - proving TC's memory that both he and Pigpen played keyboards at these shows. No idea who the horn player could be, if he existed (maybe the same guy the other reporter saw the following night jumping around on stage). Also hard to say whether the guy tossing daisies into the crowd was a Dead roadie or a local enthusiast!

    Starting in 1965, Teen-Ager was a special section of the Enquirer that was by and for teenagers, in case you wonder why the newspaper was running columns by high-schoolers. (The "Our Readers Write" letters-to-the-editor page was a hoot.)
    The first show on Friday the 30th was for Teen Club members only, which is why the second reporter wasn't allowed in. He got a ticket to the late show on Saturday, and notes that the Dead "played three tremendous songs." I suspect there was a curfew (the Friday night show was scheduled til 12) - of course, "three songs" by the Dead could still be over an hour.
    It's disputed whether there was any opening act - neither reporter, nor any of the posters, mentions any opening band, and one witness says there wasn't one. But...another witness says Sacred Mushroom (a local blues-rock band) opened, and the reporter says that the late show started at 10 but the Dead came on at 11.

    Truly great description of the Friday night show by the first reviewer. I think both teens must already have been fans, either from the Dead's two albums or from reports about the San Francisco scene. (And given all the Ohio U students that traveled to the Dead's first Columbus show, clearly there was a market for the Dead among Ohio youth!) Neither of them could have seen the Dead before (the Dead hadn't been to Ohio before Nov '68) - but they were both entranced, and one reporter was even planning an interview before the show. Why they both call the band the "Greatful Dead" I don't know - misguided editorial intervention? - though that was a common misspelling in the early years.