"Bob Coburn Interviews Jerry Garcia, November 8, 1982"
Garcia had two pretty good reasons to do a live (I think?) Monday, November 8, 1982 national "Rockline" radio interview with Bob Coburn.
The first was presumably to sell some tickets for the ongoing Fall 1982 Jerry Garcia Band tour (starting October 30 in Houston, ending November 15th). From November 8th, the band still had shows in Worcester, Piscataway, New York City, Hartford, college gig outside of Boston at Brandeis University, finishing at Kean College in Union, NJ.paid a huge chunk of the Dead and Garcia's bills, better rally the troops.
The second is that Run for the Roses (Arista AL 9603, November 1982) had dropped, and for once Garcia was "touring behind an album" that people could buy from off the shelves of their local discOmat on the way home from the show. For his last studio record, the 1978 masterpiece Cats Under the Stars (1978), work took so long that it remained undone during a putative promotional tour in March, probably not hitting shelves until a week or two after the tour ended. The Mystery Cats toured "in front of their" record, not your industry standard approach. Shocking that one sank like a stone despite representing some of Garcia's finest work, including in his songwriting collaboration with Hunter. Here, they're touring behind the record, but unfortunately, as one of Mike Myers's Scotsmen would say, "it's crap".
November 11th would find the band playing for John Scher at The Felt Forum, part of an expansion push into the City itself, courtesy (or not) of Ron Delsener. Scher was going big in 1982, and one of his early successes was Garcia and Kahn, in their first ever acoustic duet gig, at the Beacon Theatre, culminating with the good Dr. John sitting in with Jerry and John for some "Goodnight Irene", on April 21st. That gig did so well (two 2,413 capacity sellouts, with gross $51,523) that they made the same match in November. John Scher being John Scher --a multitalented guy who, from 1976, had basically taken over the GD's operations east of the Mississippi, and did lots more besides—he was fully locked into Garcianomics, on the recto and the verso.
I don't know how many records they sold, but November 11th
grossed $107,661 on two sellouts @ 4,332 capacity.
Not bad – not bad at all. Biggest night of the tour.
|John Scher Presents in New York City: Jerry Garcia Band at the Felt Foum, November 11, 1982. |
John Scher Presents Program no. 270.
Why do I get into the reasons for this interview? Because we find here yet another instance of Garcia being utterly incapable of marketing. In January 1976, he either forgot to announce a set of his band's gigs upcoming, chose not to, or else was reminded to book them when asked live, on the radio. I think there are a few other examples I can pin down of Garcia not really even swinging and missing on the tee'd up "new record" question, but kind of dodging it. And how's this for the soft sell, answer question of who's in the band:
I’ve had a band off and on for some time now, I guess about five years now … when you have musicians that you’re playing with on a regular basis, it’s easier to communicate with them, and they’re in the neighborhood, and things like that. Actually, the tracks on the record are recorded by parts of my band, as well as my current band, over the last, um, some of the tracks on the record were recorded as long as 4 years ago, 5 years ago.It’s a long slow process. See, when I make a solo record I have to make it in between the spaces, between Grateful Dead activity. So I have to do it as I can. Sometimes they accumulate, like a snowball rolling downhill.
Now, for someone like me, this is fascinating. First, "when you have musicians that you’re playing with on a regular basis, it’s easier to communicate with them, and they’re in the neighborhood, and things like that" could have come out of his mouth in January 1976 about Keith and Donna. "I just picked whoever was around" isn't going to get me off the fence about these $11 tickets. Second, hearing that some of these tracks were recorded in 1977-1978 might signal to the discerning record buyer that they found at least some of this stuff sweeping up the cutting room floor. If they didn't buy Cats when it was released, why would they buy the lesser tracks now? Third, by interstializing Garcia to the Grateful Dead, sublimating himself into the Borg, he gives further impression that the record might be rather half-assed.
Maybe he's just too honest, and can't shill the record that he may or may not feel good about. I guess I gotta respect that, even if it does thwart Global Corporation's master plan. Or maybe he just didn't get it. As McNally has recently said, "the celebrity interview, an opportunity for an artist to talk about himself and to pitch a current endeavor in as brief and efficient a manner as possible, was completely lost on Jerry".[i]
Other things I pull from this:
- Influences? Freddie King. Django, and he mentions Django's physical handicap – can there be any doubt but that Garcia felt a special kinship with Reinhardt?
- solo vs. GD: " When I compose a tune, I have a sense of what I want it to sound like. When I do ‘em for my own band, they sort of stay at that developmental level. But in the Grateful Dead, they have a tendency to keep moving. That’s true, I think, with Bob’s tunes, too."
- dodges a religion question
- Bashes Hank Harrison and his books; "wait for McNally's".
- a few other tidbits, depending on what interests you