Denver’s fourth annual Neal Cassady Birthday Bash didn’t quite cross paths with the Colorado premiere of the major motion picture On the Road as originally hoped (the local opening is now scheduled for March), but the bash, celebrating the 87th anniversary of Neal Cassady’s birth, is still very much on the road. As always, the celebration, which acknowledges the Beat icon’s Denver roots, will feature dignitaries galore with Cassady ties, beginning with returning guest David Amram, the octogenarian musician who makes a pilgrimage back each year to play “Pull My Daisy” and other classics of the Beat canon.
“He’s such a treat, such a joy,” says event organizer Mark Bliesener. “He has an undeniable link with those guys — Neal, Jack and the whole Beat ethos. Amram is so inspirational; he makes getting older actually look pretty good.
“I also reached deeper into Naropa this year,” he adds, “by bringing in a guy who’s a student there named Chris Shugrue. He’s such a Neal freak. And he brings a whole different take to it because he’s so much younger.”
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Along with Cassady’s Denver-born son, Robert Hyatt, Beat scholar Hugh Bingham, slam poet Leah Scott and musicians Scott McCormick and C.P. Carrington round out the assortment of characters, literary and otherwise, who will be there to sing Cassady’s praises.