Nothing left to do, but smile, smile, smile.
There is nothing left to do, but smile, smile, smile
On June 11, as morning turned to afternoon, a truly grate man passed; my father, John J. Bergan MD, found peace and harmony with his jazz pals. During the moments after, I realized the many aspects of my character that were fortified by Dad. There is no question, my love for sound was sparked by my father.
At the end WWII, Dad was a radio repairman in the Navy. Upon returning to Indiana to pursue education at Purdue and later at Indiana University Medical School, he began his hobby of building Heathkit stereos. He loved to tinker, he loved to solder, he loved to lay speaker wire, and he loved to connect it all so he could listen to jazz. While he loved all sorts of music, it was jazz, and particularly the drummers like Buddy Rich and Art Blakey, that sparked his creative thinking. Together with my mother, who found her own bus to Indianapolis to see Frank Sinatra as a bobby soxer, he instilled a love of music in me.
In the 1960s, while racing sailboats off Belmont Harbor in Chicago, Dad met Dick Latham and they became good friends. Dick was an award winning industrial designer who became a design adviser for Bang & Olufsen in the early 70s. The result of this friendship was a stream of B&O equipment passed down to Dad after Dick had checked the performance of prototype receivers, tape decks, turntables, and speakers. To this day, I still have speakers, one sister has a receiver and one sister has passed along a turntable to her daughter. The equipment fueled Dad’s love of sound and he wired our apartment with speakers in several rooms, but nary could a wire be seen.
Dad was the first taper I knew. He would set up the receiver and reel to reel tape deck on a timer to record WFMT’s Midnight Special as he slept. While the format of the station was classical music, this show was all about folk music, Chicago characters like Steve Goodman and music of the people. I learned many, many songs listening to Dad’s replays of the various shows. Not surprisingly, my older sisters persuaded our parents to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary in 1972 at Ravinia; the gig was Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie. I was 9 and my parents love of music carried the family to Highland Park (Ratdog plays there 8/31). In our nice pavilion seats, an introduction of sorts occurred. As Arlo opened the second set, the couple next to me, lit a joint, puffed it and then handed it to the 9 year old sitting next to them.
I turned to my oldest sister and asked, “What is this and what do I do with it?” Naturally, she said, “just give it back to them.” My introduction to marijuana was swift, but long lasting.
I am very fortunate that Dad shared his love of stereo equipment with me. We set up my first stereo when I was in 8th grade and it was pure joy to learn from Dad how to put it together and how to tape. It was a beginning of a path that led me to become a Deadhead.
I was already a taper of sorts when I saw my first show in March 1981. As I learned more about the taper culture of the Grateful Dead, I reveled in recording whatever broadcast I could find on the radio. This dedication led me to taping the nationwide broadcast of the Grateful Dead and The Band playing for Seva at the Kingswood Music Theater in 1984. Who needs sleep, the WBEZ broadcast in Chicago started at 1am. Around 3:30am when the Dead took to the stage for set two, they opened with Scarlet Begonias. As I jumped around my apartment in glee (Scarlet B’s could be my favorite Dead song), I woke up my roommate forcing him to come listen. My Dad had instilled in me a passion for recording live music.
Given Dad’s guiding hand, it is now clear to me why I am a Deadhead, why I have more tapes/video tapes/CDs/DVDs than can be played and why my path as a fan led me to become a professional Deadhead selling officially licensed merchandise. During my own sailing career Dad told me I could never be a professional sailor, but he never said I could not be a professional Deadhead. The four winds have carried you home, Dad, fare ye well…
As the calendar rolls into August, this Deadhead knows it is time for Jerry. Here are our Jerry offerings, do note Mountain Cat our newest.
As always, you can purchase these shirts at your local cool shop or on the web at one of our wonderful etailers. Should you need help locating an outlet, feel free to contact me.
And again this year, the day will be webcast, use the link above to access. The gig begins shortly after 11am pacific time on Sunday.
For those in the Bay Area, see ya at Warren and the Berkeley Symphony 8/1 and for those in Chicagoland, see ya on the lawn for Ratdog 8/31 at Ravinia.
Speaking from recent experience, I encourage you to reach out to all those important to you, parents, siblings, relatives, friends, whomever and share love with them; in our busy lives, we tend to overlook “love will see you through.”