“Right now, somehow we’ve ended up successes. But this ain’t exactly what we had in mind, 12,000-seat halls and big bucks. We’re trying to redefine. We’ve played every conceivable venue and it hasn’t been it. What can we do that’s more fun, more interesting?”
For the tours of small halls, the sound equipment will be cut back from 23 tons to seven, and modularized so that a crew of two or three men could set it up with fork-lifts, mounting it above and behind the band instead of on both sides.
As for what happens to the crew then, the Dead karass will provide. The Dead are setting the quippies up in a company called Hard Truckers to build speaker cabinets with the rock & roll tour in mind, cabinets that won’t fall apart like commercial pressboard models.
So the quippies are a company as well as a crew, like so many of the Dead family back in Marin. If that weren’t enough, they’re also – are you ready? – a band. The Dead have been coaching them on instruments, and the New Riders’ rehearsal hall sometimes pulses with the rock & roll sound of Sparky and the ABs – Sparky and the Ass Bites from Hell. They’re Dan on lead guitar, Rex on bass, Steve on drums, Danny on piano and Sparky on harmonica – with Sam Cutler sometimes sitting in on rhythm guitar and as singer, a friend of theirs, Darlene Di Domenico. “We’re part of the Dead” Steve Parish had said. “You really put your whole heart into the system, right from the vibration of a guitar string out to the back of the hall.”
-Charles Perry (Rolling Stone)
Sparky and the Ass Bites from Hell. From left, Ramrod, rhythm guitar; Steve on drums; Rex on bass; Healy, lead guitar; Sparky, harmonica; Danny on the organ.
Kristine, Ambrosia, and Dan Healy on the Harley
Photo Credits: Photos – Mary Ann Mayer