I’m so grateful I was able to take my 13 year old son to his first concert last year, an easy intro to live music with Jack Johnson in Costa Rica. It was a peaceful surfy vibe, Romeo and his best friend Jack managed to squeeze up front to get the best experience. I knew they were fine, but later they giggled about the smoke and whoops, maybe a little contact high.
It made me remember my first live concert, seeing The Grateful Dead, who came through Hampton, Virginia in 1992 when I was 14. It was a friendly, hippy gypsy community all grooving to Jerry’s guitar solos that rocked my soul and changed my life.
I went with a group of at least 20 friends from high school, we made a circle center stage, Jerry side to save our space amongst general admission. I was pretty naive and oblivious to all the drugs around me but even sober the music and energy from the crowd blew my mind.
We were so young, we were the “Eyes of the world”. I loved the spinners, twirling girls everywhere, the drum circles, indescribable progressional rock n’roll, space and of all the creativity of “Shakedown Street“ outside the concert.
You see, the Grateful Dead was more than a band, it was its own sub- culture. It was a large loving family traveling together on tour, no concert was ever the same, so the followers created a colorful, musical lifestyle out of living on the road.
I vividly remember floating down isles of tye dyed blankets filled with crystals, hemp jewelry, handmade clothing and dream catchers that hung from painted busses. There was always a drum circle to jump into, devil sticks flying around like batons, intricate beaded loom jewelry, the scent of patchouli, flowers, flowy dresses, dreads, and feathers.
Handmade and buy local was more than a thing, it was a way of life. The entrepreneurship and craftsmanship of the families making money by being creative and traveling with the band enlightened me.
So it began, I befriended stone dealers, shopped at head shops, bought hemp and crystals and taught myself to make jewelry. Unlike “The Breakfast Club”, I never wasted a Saturday school detention, instead I would bring a loom and bead bracelets all day to sell.- yeah, I was that girl.
I loved stones, my first jewelry was huge colorful geode crystal necklaces encased with hemp. I sewed leather pouches with native Indian symbols in glass beads to carry my favorite crystals in around my neck.
Still on tour in college, I started my own clothing line, sewing twirl-able dresses, backless shirts, crushed velvet bell bottoms and huge funky caps that would hold dreads.(see pic below)
When I turned twenty, with a little help from friends, bought a VW bus, built a Tepee, lived in a log cabin and made a business out of ceramic drums, hemp jewelry and handmade clothing. Dead tour was always profitable and unfortunately after Jerry died, things slowed down but our love did not fade away...
I moved to Mexico in 2000 and learned how to silversmith and started my business JENSTONES. So there it is folks, the Grateful Dead kick started my entrepreneurial lifestyle. Thanks Jerry.
Oh yeah, and my music, I bought my first guitar at 17 and with a Grateful Dead song book, bought on tour, I started learning all their songs before writing my own and entertaining friends at campfires or local bars. I always loved when a old Dead Head would come to my gig so I could serenade them with my female versions of favorite Dead classics.
When 2020 came I decide this was the year to make jewelry to blow your mind. To celebrate 20 years of JENSTONES, I flew to Mexico in January with some gorgeous emeralds and bought the biggest geodes I’ve ever used in jewelry. They reminded me of my first hemp designs but this time a bit more sophisticated, more high end. Then the pandemic hit, and here we are. I miss traveling and showing the jewelry, I miss the connections.
Please check out the Geode Stalactite collection for 2020, we may be going to Hell in a bucket, but at least we can enjoy the ride...