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Monday, November 17, 2014

Risk and Challenge in the 1970s

Here's a back-of-the-napkin sketch, my subjective assessment, of the musical risks and challenges associated with Garcia's 1970s bands (qua personnel and repertoire) playing black and race-fusion music. So, this includes Wales-Garcia, all of the Jerry and Merl outfits, and all of the JGBs. It excludes NRPS, OAITW, GAMB/GASB (playing mostly white roots music), and the Lagin construct.

I intend this at some rather inchoate meso level. There are incendiary flashes and moments in every period. There are great shows. But that's micro level, and not what I am after here. This is intended as a map, if you will, of the structural constraints posed by players, their skills and shared repertoires.

Happy to receive questions, criticisms, etc.!



Rough chronology.
  • HWJG and early JGMS = highest risk and challenge
  • JGMS Forgerty era considerably lower. I didn't include the spring '73 influection Tickner and Sarah experiments, basically show it declining monotonically to July '73.
  • JGMS Fierro era, an uptick.
  • LOM, perhaps a slight downtick.
  • An uptick with Nicky. This is mostly a personnel artifact, less so a repertoire one. Basically, I am saying that Nicky could challenge Garcia in ways that Merl could not (any longer?).
  • The opiate-cushioned descent down down down, though 1978 is certainly better (and generally at a faster tempo) than the preceding two.
  • Reconstruction uptick.


After that, things are fluid on the personnel front, but not so much in terms of risk and challenge. Garcia and Kahn are tweaking the JGB recipe until the advent of JGB #21b in July 1983, which basically endures until both of the principals are, generally, too sick and far gone to care.

Again, comments, criticisms, etc., most welcomed!

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