My blessed mother survived two husbands and Nazis (not necessarily in that order), and believed that no matter what to you (traumas, sicknesses or disasters), that you could always find something to celebrate. It was her theory that, when you were most in doubt, those were the times to party.

Enmeshed in these days of upheaval, awakening, and occasional despair, I remembered my mother’s admonition, and took my grandchildren camping. Not into the woods, or around a fireplace, rather we pitched our tent in Scottsdale Arizona, next to a parking lot at The 4th Annual McDowell Mountain Music Festival.

The opening night featured the Neville Brothers, Bob Weir and Ratdog, two of my favorite live performing groups. The Neville Brothers are a New Orleans, rhythm and-blues/ Cajun/ Jazz/ and Mardi Gras parade band, all in one. Bob Weir, is a founding member of the Grateful Dead and now Ratdog, the band combines the Dead repertory, with Bob Dylan, and Beatle tunes. I knew the campground would be filled with Deadheads in tie-dyes, living in flag-draped encampments, and that the atmosphere would be friendly and welcoming. This was as close as my four grandkids (aged 10 to 15) were going to get, to the scene at an old Grateful Dead concert.

We rolled in driving a battered, decal splattered, 1978 VW van, at which people waved as we entered. The campsite was a bit more organized than in the old days. First, you got tagged so you could enter or leave the campground, and there was 24-hour security (there were even 2 Mounted Patrolmen in the back of the concert lawn. After we set up the tent, we established some ground rules, where to find me, and then the kids were off. We met periodically, I’d come upon them jumping on a bungee trampoline, playing Frisbee, eating whatever they wanted, making friends, and listening to the music. I took my little one back early, but the bigger ones stayed to the end, when Ratdog played the Beatles Come Together, and people swayed, sang, held hands, and those kids felt the vibes.


That night, there were no uncertainties or doubts, only the joy of watching another generation in a Grateful Dead parking lot. When in doubt, party