United Empire Loyalists

Vancouver's Trips Festival in 1966 was a long weekend late July - on the bill was the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and Big Brother & the Holding Company, poet Michael McClure and the Acid Test. The Dead were invited to play a show the following Friday night by promoter Jerry Kruz - he had a club called The Afterthought which was putting on shows at the Pender Auditorium in downtown Vancouver. Kruz needed an opening band, so he chose local band United Empire Loyalists (recently changed from 'The Molesters') who were all about 16 at the time. The UEL were Anton 'Tom' Kolstee on lead guitar, Jeff Ridley on rhythm guitar, Bruce Dowd on bass, Richard Cruickshank on drums, and Mike Trew singing and playing organ.

The Grateful Dead needed a place to practice between the Sunday and upcoming Pender show on Friday - turned out Richard Cruickshank's parents were away on vacation so practice was at his house - upper middle class West Vancouver. Jeff Ridley recalls: "So we all paraded into Dick's parents' place with The Grateful Dead and their hippie entourage and all the neighbours peering out from behind their curtains!".

By Friday, the UEL found themselves in the Dead's van driving around Vancouver - the Dead played an impromptu concert at the English Bay bandstand which was quickly shut down by police and then they parked a flatbed truck at Kitsilano beach where the UEL got through their opening set but before the Dead could play the cops shut it down. Promoter Jerry Kruz in 2016, recalling the concert that evening at Pender: "I could tell how much Garcia had already influenced UEL lead guitarist Tom Kolstee in his week of mentoring. Garcia’s playing style would influence Tom for the rest of his career."

The UEL fired Mike Trew and replaced Bruce Dowd with Rick Enns on bass (fresh from playing with Tom Northcott). UEL put out one single ("No No No" - a cover of "You Don't Love Me" which they learned from the Dead) backed with "Afraid of the Dark". They were a hugely popular band in the underground Vancouver scene, finally disbanding in 1970 (briefly reforming in 1990). The track below is taken from a live recording at Zorba's in Edmonton in 1968 - the 'Otis Redding' jam:

The 50th anniversary release of the first Grateful Dead album contains recordings from the Trips Festival shows.
The single "No No No" / "Afraid of the Dark" is up on youtube
Jeff Ridley quote is here
Jerry Kruz quote is here