About the Bash
The Neal Cassady Birthday Bash is held each February to celebrate the birth and life of Neal Cassady – who described himself as “Denver’s unnatural son.”
Neal Cassady’s influence on literary and pop culture is well documented. He was the archetype Beat writer, the protagonist of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road,” muse for Hunter S. Thompson and Tom Wolfe, and driver of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters’ bus “Further.”
Throughout his life Neal exuded a style and distinct Denver, western “cool” which secured his stature as a true American original.
What Happens at the Bash
The Ballroom upstairs at the Mercury Café sets the tone for the Denver Bash: it’s an intimate setting, with its own authentic “cool.”
The Bash is organized with the cooperation of the Cassady Estate and often features Neal’s “kids” Cathy, Jamie, John Allen and Robert Hyatt reading from his letters and sharing memories of their dad. They are joined each year by a variety of notable Beat scholars like the Rev. Steve Edington of the Lowell Massachusetts Celebrates Kerouac Committee, John Sinclair manager of the MC5 and founder of the 60’s White Panther Party, plus the best of Denver’s poets and musicians including Ed Ward, Suzi Q. Jones, Jennifer Dunbar Dorn, Zach Kopp and Janet Feder and core faculty members of the Jack Kerouac School at Naropa University. Close friend and collaborator of both Neal and Jack, David Amram and his quartet are also perennial guest performers at the Bash.”
Others in Denver Take Note
In 2011 and 2013 Mayors Hickenlooper and Hancock, noting how, “Cassady’s unique outlook, philosophy, and worldview shaped by his Denver upbringing, still interest and inspire new generations,” proclaimed the date of the Bash as “Neal Cassady Day” in Denver. In conjunction with the 2012 Bash, Denver East High School granted Neal his high school diploma citing “Cassady’s major impact on American literature,” and overlooking his attendance record in 1941-42.