Confessions of a Dead Head

Confessions of a Dead Head

Trips and Travels with a Magical Band

by the Starburst Commander aka Bob Drobatz

I was hanging outside the Masonic Hall in Mill Valley, CA on a cold January night in 2010.  Inside the hall Furthur was jamming, a rehearsal with a live audience.  Myself, caught without a ticket, and leaning against a truck, listening to the show from outside, sound a bit muffled by the wall, still worth the listen.  Along with some folks on the street, a few vendors, some local kids, a couple other hardcore revelers, and the event security, who were not bothering us much at all.  Maybe a dozen or so people outside at the peak of crowdedness. 

It was a friendly little scene on the streets of Mill Valley.  That was where I met  the Starburst Commander.  This really nice guy who told me about this book he wrote: Confessions of a Dead Head.    Deadheads are always creating things, art, clothing, music, all sorts of stuff.  And I know  a few start out to write a book, but that is no easy task (it took me three months to write a review!)  The Commander, or Bob, was genuine in his enthusiasm for what he had done, and he also assured me the book would detail the origins of his name! I was looking forward to exploring this book.  Well, all good things in all good time, I read it a month later.

It’s not a long book, and it is  fun to read – it flows like talking to a new friend in the lot or a campground, and hearing some good old show stories.  There are a lot of good memories packed into this book, do not let it’s size deceive you.  Meaty detailed confessions!!!  The Starburst Commander leads you on his journey, and it’s like you are on tour together. 

His early exposure to Grateful Dead music, his first show experiences, hanging out with his friends.  Fun to ride along,  you are in his van, the “Orange Barrel”!  Without going into detail of each and every show he was ever at, he shares  enough of his personal long strange trip, from shows in the 1970’s through Jerry’s passing, and on into the modern milieu, to give us a full vista of the journey.   The moments he does magnify are perfect little glimpses at the magical accidents that many of us have enjoyed at shows, or on the way there and back again.  And the koan like lessons available in those moments. 

His confessions allow us to be part of his group of friends, and to share in their adventures, and enjoy travelling to shows with them.  We see the role the music, the musicians, and the shows have in their lives, and if you are a dead head yourself, easy to relate to your own experiences with the band.  I want to tell you all the stories, and tell you about my new friends Dentist and Donntist and Starbutt!  And the one where Starbutt met Mickey Hart and… but I’d rather encourage you to get a copy of the book, and read it for yourself!   To be a bit cliché, but truthful here: I laughed, I cried, and it was a feel good read.  Really!

An honest book, with plenty of insight  into the land of the Dead Head.   I imagine it would be a good primer for a non-head to read, to get an idea of the culture and history; it is coherent and broad enough, without being dauntingly overburdened with set lists and statistics.   Dating someone that doesn’t quite get “it”?  Give them this book, and Europe ‘72.  And maybe something to get them molecular…

Get your copy from the Starburst Commander :