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THE WAY OF THE TAPER

By Tim Schuller |

OBSESSIONS Tired of store-bought music? Join the Tapers, an underground cadre of music addicts who collect and trade concert tapes that are unavailable commercially.

The cult of the Tapers, as they call themselves, started in 1974, when the Grateful Dead decided to lay off the road a while. Uncertain whether the band would ever tour again, ever-loyal Dead-heads in Dallas and elsewhere started bartering {not selling) concert tapes they’d acquired. The Dead, unlike most big-time bands, allow fans to tape their shows, a practice that would be stopped should money-changing begin. That’s just fine with the Tapers, who believe that selling tapes makes one a boot-legger and a philistine.

That’s certainly the opinion of Dallas tapemaster DAVE MOYNIHAN,who is one of the main sources of the music that’s heard on Lone Star Dead, the weekly Deadshow on KNON community radio (Fridays. 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.). Moynihan joined the tape community years ago when he met a legendary Taper, Cosmic Charlie, on a plane en route to (you may have surmised) a Grateful Dead concert. At first Charlie wasn’t too cooperative, but cassettes soon began showing up in the mail, and before long Dave had traded his way into hundreds of hours of great music.

So you’d like some of those most coveted tapes of all. made through the very sound board of the band and circulated to only the most discreet collectors? Well, locate and suck up to a Taper, perhaps by offering him/her a dub of some rarity in your library. Be warned, however, that most Tapers started out collecting vinyl, so it’s hard to find much that they lack.

Of course, you might get lucky and meet your own version of Cosmic Charlie. But whatever you do, don’t offer a Taper money. The last thing we need around here is another philistine!