Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The vocals are as bad as Garcia ever inflicted on a paying audience: August 26, 1984

LN jg1984-08-26.jgb.all.aud-dearth.84568.flac1644

OK, turns out I was most of the way through a listen to this, so I finished it.

On the one hand, that wasn't so bad. I don't feel too unclean. On the other hand, as Jimmy Fallon's teenaged character Sara might say -- "Ew".

First, tip o' the cap to Mr. Don Dearth for heading down to Palo Alto, fresh tape and batteries, the mics and the deck, and walking out into the early summer morning with a fine aural commemorative. And thanks to John Moses for getting this tape into the world.

Second, my prior opinion of this show, that it may be the single worst Garcia performance in the canon, is based in a 2007 listen, only tersely noted. I now think that's an overstatement, but my main position now is just that it's hard to verbalize summary judgments of multidimensional phenomena. In brief, my assessment is that one aspect of the show is just so bad that it cannot help but color assessment of the whole show. I'll elaborate.


The vocals are as bad as Garcia ever inflicted on a paying audience. To my taste, late 1984 (this period through December) is Jerry's vocal nadir - he is just absolutely, fundamentally shredded up. Under the overall heading "Jerry sounds absolutely awful", I note the following specifics.
  • ! P: s2t01 MITR starts off as one of Garcia's worst recorded performances. In 2007, more terse than I seem to be now, I wrote simply "MITR is a mess". Even though it's not quite as badly off-key as some other versions --he really had trouble arranging this song to suit his ever changing vocal abilities-- he botches the words and just sounds rather lost at the start. I think he was *this close* to asking for a mulligan. He finds his footing a little bit, "tonight I would be thankful for any dream at all". Indeed.
  • ! P: s2t02 LITA Jerry again clams up the beginning, this time with some ill-plucked strings.
  • ! P: s2t04 DLG Garcia has completely lost his voice.
On the Other Hand ...

There is some excellent guitarwork, including in sometimes-throwaway "They Love Each Other" and the new-to-the-repertoire hottie, Allen Toussaint's "Get Out Of My Life, Woman" (GOOMLW) -- "there is absolutely nothing wrong with this." Even 2007 me, even after the pooch-screwing that starts "Love In The Afternoon", conceded that "LITA has some pretty nice playing." Oh, and "Don't Let Go", as ever, is a treat that could bear repeat engagements. (That said, I think the next night's version outdoes this one.) If you had paid your however-much-it-is to get it, you would have seen some world class music being performed.

... and the servings are so small

What about quantity? Later, especially after getting busted in Golden Gate Park in January 1985, Jerry regularly crossed the entertainment industry's version of baseball's Mendoza line (a .200 batting average, honoring a light-hitting Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop) - the Minelli Line: 45 minutes of big show per paid admission, and that's it. Cabaret economics is like Manchester Capitalism, without the morals. You want more? Pony up for the next show, and pass me my drink and cigarettes. The most egregious example of Garcia doing this is probably an acoustic duet gig with John Kahn in Kahn's Beverly Hills hometown, May 31, 1985, when Garcia's often-fawning (and, at this point, regularly-suffering) fans brought a chant of "bullshit! bullshit!" down around him and forced him to cough out a few extra numbers before turning them out.

This first set dangerously skirts the Minelli Line, while set II is about an hour, a decent quantity that's more like batting .250. The show is not as long as the next night. But more importantly, this Saturday show just isn't as good as the next night. The weekend's pair of "Don't Let Go"s provides an easy contrast: 16 minutes versus 22, especially at the relatively brisk pace they were playing it with at this time (nearly optimal to my ears, BTW), is the difference between Jerry striking the fly or mostly just swaggering around it, seeing it, knowing he could reach for it if he tried, but the moment never quite culminates, for whatever reason. Interesting that I noted this on the Sunday version: "go-for-it' continuation early in 13 by Jerry. Very long and interesting DLG" - that's the difference between the two versions - on 8/26 he passes up the opportunity to stretch the song out, while on 8/27, at just the same point, he seizes it.

One way to think of this is the linear-and-additive-effects model - take the average. The guitar playing can be good, but there aren't enough of them. The vocals are horrible. DLG interesting. Below average show for the period (compare next night) but, as I said from the show two days earlier (8/24),
if this is rock bottom, it's not that bad.
But I just can't escape those bloody vocals. I want to suggest that there's something so qualitatively bad about these vocals that we must condemn this show as an affront to the professionalism that Garcia, for all of his travails, almost never failed to strive to achieve. (This is not weasel language. He failed to achieve a standard of professionalism many times, as anyone who's trying hard to do something hard to do must. The key is in being conscious of the standard, and in the trying to uphold it.) Those short sets in 1985 can define the show, to my satisfaction, as a ripoff, and thus a professional violation, a violation of the should-be-inviolable pact with your paying customers. And I might have to rule similarly about these late August '84 vocals, and say that keeping yourself in such a state that you can't, y'know, sing, and charging people to hear you try to do so anyway, to general icky embarrassment, doing all of that violates some standard of professionalism that Garcia professed to uphold, which he almost always did - except for during this period, 1984-1985.

And you know that on some level, for as extensively as he bandaged all those frayed endings in a poppy gauze, dulled the annoying sensibilities, he knew - he knew, and he was mortified. This is pure speculation on my part, of course. But Garcia's a smart guy. He knows the vocals are rough to such an extent, on some nights, that no amount of compensatory guitar wizardry can really make it OK. He's thought very consciously over a two-decade professional career about his relationship with fans, with customers, their respective rights and responsibilities to each other. He's violating that, in this window. He's violating that with 30-something minute sets (generally the next year), and he's violating that with cringeworthy vocals here. And I am sure that somewhere and somehow he regrets it. But, of course, sometimes it's as if one's hands were tied.

So, no, while I am not interested in blame, I am interested in evaluating Garcia as a professional musician, and, here, I don't want to give this guy a pass. I want to hold him to his own standards, to which he almost always held himself. But not in this period. For Garcia, a professional musician to the core of his being, that's Rock Bottom.

Listening notes below the fold for this Sunday night show during the busy and interesting month of August 1984 (see also 8/11/84, 8/12/84, 8/24/84, 8/27/74).

Lost Your Voice? Play a Monster "Don't Let Go" (8/27/84)

LN jg1984-08-27.jgb.all.aud-corley.15029.shn2flac

I have sometimes joked, half-seriously, that 8/26/84 may be Garcia's most wasted performance, but I just do that to embody a feeling about the period as a whole. At some point I'll bring myself to revisit it.

I like listening around such things, as much as listening directly to them. Hence the JGB #21b gig from Monday, August 27, 1984 down at the Keystone Palo Alto entered the listening queue. Why hear the show itself when you can hear the next night? This could also provide a check against a listen last year to 8/24/84, which I probably unfairly shorthand with "It's not that bad, given how much Persian he was doing"; take my own temperature on this period. Seeing taper John Corley's name, I know it will be a great upfront tape, with the deconstructed Nak 700s nestled inside the obscuring, silly hat.

This show has all of the hallmarks of this down-and-dirty period in Garcia's life, some stellar, grungy loud guitar playing, occasionally brilliant, contrasts with some slightly slippery arrangements and, it must be said, objectively horrifying vocal limitations dictated by a set of badly shredded chords.

I don't say much about the guitar work (about anything, really) - it struck me as sometimes very good. Deal might be hot enough to merit a note, but for whatever reason I wasn't moved quite enough to take up the cause. There are a few but not an inordinate number of vocal flubs, the arrangement slips out of sync a time or two, some of the tempos (e.g., RFTR) strike me as sluggish. Mostly, nothing to write home about, maybe a lit below average (maybe slightly below 8/12/84 at Club Casino, maybe around the same level as 8/11/84 at the Nunnery, better than 8/24/84).

But the real jewel here is "Don't Let Go", as it almost always was. DLG was a weathervane tune, one that Garcia had to play as if he meant it, and so would only play on a relatively "good" night. Don't Let Go made a Garcia Band show special.

I was not in much of a note-taking mood in this listening session, but I recall a number of very interesting passages during which Garcia picks up and elaborates distinctive themes with all due care, taking the time to work through each one. Many of them just echo around a hundred sounds that you've heard Garcia make, that sound like something you've heard before but that you can't quite put your finger in, as elusive as a dialect. I note a point about 13 minutes in where they had setup a little landing pad, had Jerry wanted to wind it down, he sets it up and then gamely runs away from it to explore some of these ideas. It's nice.

This version of "Don't Let Go" puts me in mind of what I call the compensation hypothesis - when one particular performative aspect was hamstrung, he compensated this weakness with extra effort in other areas. It doesn't always hold, of course, but it might account for a few observations. In spring 1978, when his voice was shot with laryngitis, Garcia employed much crisper articulations, often early-Dylanesque. As the voice gets regularly bad starting in 1980 --to such an extent that, at some point, it's not really the same voice at all-- Garcia starts playing louder guitar, using lots more feedback than he had previously. This is especially characteristic of his 1983-1984 style, before, based on the sound of very little tape because there were relatively few shows, just running out of gas for a few years leading up to his descent into a diabetic coma on July 10, 1986.

It feels for all the world here like Jerry steps from a long "Harder They Come" to an ambitious, expressive, and even longer "Don't Let Go" to make up for not being able to sing, which had become painfully apparent as the evening progressed. He could have mailed in a few relatively easy vocal numbers - mumbling is not that hard on the chords. He didn't have to go 65 minutes in the second set, as he'd demonstrate more and more consistently over the next few years - 50 wouldn't have been a total embarrassment. But on this night, he took the road less traveled and reached a little further for the gold ring, and I respect that.

Listening Notes below the fold. (update: see also listening notes for the previous night, 8/26/84)

Sunday, December 28, 2014

updated - OAITW at Homer's 7/24/73

I have updated my post on OAITW at Homer's Warehouse, 7/24/73.

OAITW at Homer's Warehouse - March 4, 1973

This started off, and can still function, as a post with the setlists for the 3/4/73 OAITW gigs at Homer's Warehouse. But now there are a few other fragmentary thoughts.

Jerry Garcia lived an idyll at Sans Souci (18 Avenida Farallone, Stinson Beach, CA, 94970, map). It was his most domestic period, living with MG and their daughters Sunshine Kesey and Garcias Annabelle (b. 2/2/70) and Trixie (b. 9/21/74). I have lots to say about Sans Souci, but not here/now. Idylls pool time up, and idyllic Sans Souci hearkened pretty deeply to the past, in some ways the counterbalance to the amazing professional growth Jerry was living with his side projects (the first big one of which, Garcia, had bought them the house) and, especially, the Dead.

Breaking out the old banjo, which he hadn't played in a sustained way since about 1963, is of course a throwback move, both in terms of Jerry's biography and, of course, in the tapestry of American music. With old and new musical friends David Grisman, Peter Rowan and often involving Chis Rowan and Lorin Rowan [a.k.a. "The Brothers"], OAITW formed a pretty pure roots project, a deep dig into rural white American musical canon, Garcia on 5-string banjo, an ancient African instrument which was one of so many to cross putative racial divides. The pull of the past is strong in OAITW.

But it also has a real fresh taste of ambition and hard work, even leaving aside stuff like starting a record company (which would happen on July 15, 1973). Just musically, picking up the banjo in ca. late 1972 and getting serious about it in 1973 is really grasping the nettle. Once before Garcia had walked away from banjo because it just demanded too much self-discipline, too much time to do right, an instrument which could only be attacked with a single-minded fury, rough on the dilettante. It posed a real challenge, he knew this, and he tackled it, again, practicing not only religiously at home, as Mountain Girl recounts, but bringing his banjo on tour with the Dead ("You know that banjos act funny at weird altitudes? Why, my banjo sounded just great in Salt Lake City" – Jerry ca. 3/13/73 [Tolces 1973]).

In Garcia's world, you know it's getting good when it goes public, from sitting on the edge of the bed to standing onstage, with an audience which may well be paying for the privilege. After a particularly tasty take of Grisman's "Old And In The Way" in a Stinson Beach living room, Garcia made these boys an offer they couldn't refuse. "Beautiful. We've got a full band. We can go down and take over Sweetwater. ... We'll just work up a few tunes and take it on down there. Kreutzmann owns the place."[1] The fly on the wall reports that this is the birth of the idea of taking the band out in public, gigging around. Playing Sweetwater is not getting paid, in all likelihood, maybe some beer and coffee. Playing the bar in Stinson Beach, maybe not any different. But when the curtain draws and things go public in the Garciaverse, Mr. Price Mechanism shows up soon enough, and these young go-getters tear out of the gates like bats out of hell, with six live gigs and a live radio broadcast in four days! They certainly didn't lack for energy.[2].
Table xxx. Old And In The Way but Fast Out Of The Gate.
The band's third night out found it the newly up-and-running and frequently rocking Homer's Warehouse in Palo Alto, at 79 Homer Avenue (map). This is a nicely burnished picture: Garcia hadn't played the banjo regularly in ten years, and he hadn't played Palo Alto regularly in a decade, either. Between times, there were a few visits to Stanford, with Jerry and Merl opening for Big Black at the Frost Amphitheatre on 10/3/71 (Grushkin 1971, JGMF), and the Dead playing Maples Pavilion on 2/9/73, but Garcia's last gig in a Palo Alto club had been a flurry of woodshedding arrangements at the Poppycock in late 1969. Before that was probably with the Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions and, as pre-Dead, falls beyond my scope. "This would be a homecoming of sorts for Jerry", Bernstein notes. "He'd not been around Palo Alto for a while, and we wanted him to feel comfortable. Perhaps he would return for more appearances if it felt right to him. We knew this was a great opportunity to make a splash. All fingers and toes were crossed" (Bernstein 2013, 114).

It sounds like Mr. Price and Ms. Vibe danced well together this night. Some color:

["Peruvian Marching Powder"] was making its way around the Purple Room-not copious amounts, just enough to keep things lively. The band all wanted coffee, no beer or anything stronger. Of course, there was always a joint going around. At the bar, we had sold more beer than anticipated and thought we'd run out of kegs because Lou, the driver, had not completely filled our order. I called the president of the Coors franchise, a nice Italian guy, and told him the driver cut me short on kegs. He apologized. He couldn't take a truck out of the yard, but he would leave his home, pick up six kegs with his Lincoln, and bring them over to us. Midway through the dynamite second show, he arrived with his son and brought all six kegs through the back door. He said the keg driver was cutting everyone short, just to make trouble in anticipation of a teamsters' strike in the Bay Area (Bernstein 2013, 116). 

Color is great, but we can also engage the subtleties of chiaroscuro,[3] maybe a sepiatone of a simple day-in-the-life of an ambitious, engaged, super-talented, successful thirtyish professional, Jerome John Garcia. He rolls up at 1 in the afternoon for two Sunday shows, smokes and picks some, plays protean video games for two hours while drinking black coffee, plays two sellout shows (three encore calls at the early show, "the audience went wild after the second" one), plays another hour of games and drives Pete Rowan and himself home (Bernstein 2013, 113-118). Not too bad, all told.[4]

Setlists follow.

Old And In The Way
Homer's Warehouse
79 Homer Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94301
March 4, 1973 (Sunday) – 3 PM and 9 PM
no known recording

--3 PM early show (main set + encores) (10 songs, max 90 minutes)--
--main set (7 songs, ca. 60-75 minutes)--
The Willow Garden
Going To The Races
Wild Horses
Soldier's Joy
Land Of The Navajo
Lonesome L.A. Cowboy
Blue Mule
--encores (3 songs, ca. 15 minutes)--
Panama Red
Till The End Of The World Rolls 'Round
White Dove
! setlist: The set and encore structure are not made explicit on AB's setlist, but he recalls "After an hour and a half, the band finished [a] third encore to thunderous applause", and lays out this list (see Bernstein 2013, 116-117).

--9 PM late show (12 songs)--
Going to the Races
Katie Hill
Till the End of the World Rolls 'Round
Panama Red
White Dove
Knockin' on Your Door
Fanny Hill
Land of the Navajo
Wild Horses
Blue Mule
Hard Hearted

! ACT1: Old And In The Way
! lineup: Jerry Garcia - banjo, vocals;
! lineup: David Grisman - mandolin, vocals;
! lineup: John Kahn - bass;
! lineup: Peter Rowan - guitar, vocals.


! JGC: none as of 12/28/2014.

! db: none as of 12/28/2014.

! metadata: solid as a rock, via Bernstein 2013, 113-118, ads in the Stanford Daily.

! ad: Stanford Daily, February 23, 1973, p. 6; bills"Bluegrass music with Old And In The Way featuring Jerry Garcia [name was larger, prominent] plus the Rowan Bros." This ad also had some other gigs, Nick Gravenites and whatnot.

! ad: Stanford Daily, February 27, 1973, p. 6; this one is just OAITW. "The New Homer's Warehouse ... presents Old And In The Way featuring Jerry Garcia formerly with The Warlocks, David Diadem formerly with Earth Opera, Peter Rowan, formerly lead guitar with Sea Train. Special guests The Rowan Brothers."

! ref: Arnold, Corry. 2013. February 1973, unnamed bar, Stinson Beach, CA: Old And In The Way. Lost Live Dead, June 6, URL http://lostlivedead.blogspot.com/2013/06/february-1973-unnamed-bar-stinson-beach.html, consulted 12/28/2014.

! ref: Bernstein, Andrew J. 2013. California Slim: The Music, the Magic, and the Madness. Xlibris LLC.

! ref: Grissim, John. 1973. Garcia Returns to Banjo: Splendor in the Bluegrass. Rolling Stone, April 26, 1973, p. 14.

! ref: Grushkin, Paul D. 1971. Garcia, Saunders Impressive at Frost. Stanford Daily, October 5, 1971, unknown page [JGMF].

! ref: McNally, Dennis. 2002. A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead. New York: Broadway Books.

! ref: Tolces, Todd. 1973. Jerry's Bluegrass Boys. Melody Maker 48 (April 28): 35. [JGMF reading notes].

[1] "Bluegrass at Grisman's" (sound recording).
[2] Note another pattern that we have often had occasion to observe: new band = off-the-beaten path, smaller, and/or off-night gigs. The Share in San Anselmo, Homer's in Palo Alto, and the Inn in Cotati certainly qualify.
[4] Morbidly, contrast with Pigpen, who is on his deathbed and would pass away on Thursday, March 8th (McNally 2002, 447).


2015, being the 50th anniversary of the birth of the Grateful Dead and the 20th anniversary of the death of Jerry Garcia, is an absolute frenzy of the written word, part of a broader orgy of production and consumption, Mr. Supply and Ms. Demand doing the cha-cha.

This post is mostly about the deluge of essential reading hitting the streets, and a little about other pulp and glue crossing my screen. It's about books as it relates to JGMF.

I expect 2015 to be the front of a wave of Dead and hippie consumerism that I expect to last through at least 2019 (Woodstock) and, for the Garciaverse, 2020 (25th anniversary of Jerry's passing).

The good news is that we are experiencing a huge bulge of amazing looking written word. The bad news is that we are experiencing a huge bulge of amazing looking written word - an embarrassment of riches. I'll just list 'em in bibliographic order as I have them, which is surely non-canonical.

Please feel free to leave comments, and good reading!

Barnes, Barry. 2011. Everything I Know About Business I Learned from the Grateful Dead: The Ten Most Innovative Lessons from a Long, Strange Trip. New York: Business Plus.
  • This ought to be on every B-School syllabus, IMO. Maybe our corporate overlords wouldn't be such schmucks if it were.
Bernstein, Andrew J. 2013. California Slim: The Music, the Magic, and the Madness. Xlibris LLC.
  • This is really nicely done - I learned a lot about a very particular scene, things flow really nicely and it's an interesting set of stories. Some excellent Garcia color (playing an early arcade game, for example, and lots of black coffee). I gathered up various setlist and other data. 

Browne, David. 2015. So Many Roads: The Life And Times Of The Grateful Dead. Boston, MA: Da Capo Press [a member of the Perseus Books Group].
  • I have commented on this somewhere - on a few furtive glances, it looks canonical.
  • Pretty good notice by Ryan Little in the Washington Post, sounds reasonable enough. What will have been a stream of names to him will be a stream of beautiful sociometric data, to me, more a feature than a bug. And then it sounds like the stories are good, the writing is nice. I also don't mind his critique, that "these books" (if I can put it that way) don't really reckon on more scales, or tilt them, ignoring the bad stuff. It's a legitimate position to take, as, I am sure, will be the balance that Browne necessarily had to strike as a writer. The review makes me even more eager to tear through this book.
  • Reading Notes.
Davis, Tom. 2009. 39 Years of Short-Term Memory Loss. New York: Grove Press.
  • A great read into some of the many ways in which genius and mania and all kinds of other factors can produce and reflect human amazingness and frailty. Wonderful stuff, lots of craziness. He deals mostly straightforwardly with the drugs, though one key question goes unanswered. The chapter on Hepburn Heights is essential reading for understanding Garcia in the early 80s. I gathered up various little Garciaverse crossings, and a few biggies (like Hepburn Heights, the drugs, but also Sirens of Titan). It's a rather charming read.
Gissen Stanley, Rhoney, with Tom Davis. 2013. Owsley and Me: My LSD Family. Rhinebeck, NY: Monkfish Book Publishing Company.
  • Amazing insider's perspective on some wild times. For me, some of the key material centered on the Carousel Ballroom, the Tuesday Night Jams at the Carousel, a few other Garcia nuggets and lots of all-around color. Rhoney is a smart, tough cookie and went through some wild stuff with Bear and the whole scene. Rhoney and Tom Davis seem to have become very close during this collaboration as Davis was dying, I gather. And on p. 271, she quotes Bear saying that Davis turned Garcia onto Persian.
Jackson, Blair and Gans, David. 2015. This Is All a Dream We Dreamed: An Oral History of the Grateful Dead. Flatiron Books.
Jarnow, Jesse. 2016. Heads: A Biography of Psychedelic America. Boston, MA: Da Capo Press.
  • Read as of Thanksgiving, need to annotate.
Kramer, Michael J. 2013. The Republic of Rock: Music and Citizenship in the Sixties Counterculture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • I have not gone through this one and pulled quotes and all the rest of that, but I have finished it. With one major exception, I absolutely loved his discussion of The Common in 1969 - a topic on which I have been gathering materials, reflecting, writing for a good long while. Kramer even scooped me with the picture of Garcia in the Bluto shirt and leather hat, speaking out at the first meeting of The Common, which I had been wanting to use).

  • And I agree that The Common represents an attempt to define a civic space -- in part. But, two things: first, he's telling half the story - I think you have to tell the complementary stories of public and private spaces and the ebbs and flows between and across them. My "Jerry and the Jeffersons" material, in which The Common figures quite prominently, tries to do that. Second, the whole argument that these contexts within which rock music did its thing involved the construction of the civic seems inarguable. Kramer's research is glorious (including some killer sounding archives), his citations look great and the book is well-edited; it is super-smart and wonderfully written. The cases are interesting, the Viet Nam stuff was very informative, and I enjoyed it - but the argument per se has its limits.
Kreutzmann, Bill. 2015. Deal: My Three Decades of Drumming, Dreams, and Drugs with the Grateful Dead. New York, NY: St. Martin's Press.
Loren, Richard, with Stephen Abney. 2014. High Notes: A Rock Memoir. Demariscotta, ME: East Pond Publishing.
  • This was also a charming read, easy on the eyes and some great, straightforward narration of Richard Loren's tenure with Garcia and the Dead, among other things. The Rowans and the Stinson Beach scene come through reasonably clearly for the first time, totally idyllic sounding, "until it wasn't" as Peter Rowan has been known to say.  I'll have notes on this at some point.
  • Reading notes
McGee, Rosie. 2013. Dancing with the Dead: A Photographic Memoir. Rohnert Park, CA: Tioli Press & Bytes.
  • Incredible insider-with-camera images and stories from the Dead's very earliest days through 1974. Rosie writes beautifully, the stories flow better than they often do in this genre; perhaps there's less putative verbatim dialogue. Anyway, highly recommended - I gathered up lots of neat color and data. Essential for Garciaverse/JGMF/GOTS/Fate Music.
McNally, Dennis, ed. 2015. Jerry on Jerry: The Unpublished Jerry Garcia Interviews. New York: Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers.
  • I made a fair number of marginal notes, but somehow left my read of this feeling like I didn't get that much out of it. But when I went back to transcribe, I had ten pages of notes. I came away thinking it was a quite beautiful work, helping Jerry along with an ex post self portrait. The book lays out a bunch of Jerry's personal, intellectual, creative, musical architecture, but at a nice manageable pace. The whole work lilts and breathes and it reads delightfully.
  • Reading Notes.
Minkin, Bob. 2014. Live Dead: The Grateful Dead Photographed by Bob Minkin. Insight Editions.
--haven't even unwrapped this yet.

Nash, Graham. 2013. Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life. New York: Crown Archetype.
--to read

Richardson, Peter. 2014. No Simple Highway: A Cultural History of the Grateful Dead. New York: St. Martin's Press.
  • Essential, canonical source. Loved this book, a great, rich read, a beautiful set of three long narratives through the themes of ecstasy, mobility and community - exceptionally well conceived and executed. I learned a lot about the San Francisco avant-garde scene, and Wally Hedrick in particular, that I did not know - this is bedrock cultural material for Garcia. I learned a few new things about the Dead, in part via Richardson's work at the amazing GD Archives at UC Santa Cruz, but also just by novelly composing materials that I thought I already should have known. I am woefully unschooled in cultural history - Jacques Barzun's From Dawn to Decadence is a frequent companion, but otherwise I just don't take in much of that. It struck me in Richardson's hands as a fresh angle that cast some very interesting light, beautifully rendered, well-written stories. I hope this book gets read by more than Deadheads, but by anyone who is interested in digging a little more deeply into postwar American culture.
Selvin, Joel. ?2014? The Haight: Love, Rock and Revolution: The Photography of Jim Marshall. San Rafael, CA: Insight Editions.

-- Haven't gotten to this, may not for awhile. Looks amazing.
Weathern, George, and Vincent Colnett. 2004 [1978]. A Wayward Angel: The Full Story of the Hells Angels by the Former Vice President of the Oakland Chapter. Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press. (Originally Richard Marek Publishers.)
  • Very interesting for understanding the Hells Angels, of course, and therefore of indirect but considerable interest to one contemplating the Garciaverse.
  • Why is this here? It's a long story.
Weiner, Howard F. 2014. Positively Garcia: Reflections of the JGB volume 1: 1972-1984. New York: Pencil Hill Publishing.
  • Great read, well put together, rich with material. I have not yet "processed" this, meaning I go through and pull quotes and date stuff and do all of that. It will be quite a project. This is the first book about the JGB (scooped again!) and it's a great entry in the touring-fan-memoir genre - Weiner is funny and interesting, he writes well, and he is a very perceptive listener. This is print version, albeit well-written and autobiographical, of the kinds of things I try to do in listening notes here.
  • I have commented on and engaged Weiner's approach to JGB 11/4/81 in Albany, interesting to follow his path.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Dropping the Banjo

4640 What I was trying to do was basically mathematical, mechanical. It was basically like a dead end, it stopped being interesting. I never really decided, it was just ‘I can’t play this thing anymore’. … LSD made me want to hear longer sounds, be freer, not be restricted, musically, and not be such a victim of self discipline 4704 – banjo is a heavy discipline instrument, and I just didn’t feel like getting that serious, I didn’t want to have that much discipline, I didn’t want to express that much discipline. Plus, the thing of being loud was great.
Note to self the drugs-music connection here, too. For those who say that drug-talk is off-limits and that one should focus on music-talk, I'd note that Garcia himself acknowledged at least a little bit of a connection.

Garcia, Jerry, 1942-1995, “Ben Fong-Torres interviews Jerry Garcia. Interview recorded circa 1975 for the documentary radio program "What was that?" broadcast on KSAN-FM in San Francisco [radio broadcast],” Grateful Dead Archive Online, accessed November 10, 2013, http://www.gdao.org/items/show/379555.

Garcia on The Tubes

Q 2145 Have you seen the Tubes? Oh yeah. You like The Tubes? Oh yeah. We were … my band, we were rehearsing over at SIR and the Tubes were in there rehearsing. Their rehearsal scene is like more stringent than a Broadway play. They rehearse like a bar at a time, their moves, they have like a 7 o’clock dancer call, 8:30 is the band call, … they’re very serious on the level of what amounts to stagecraft, and I can dig that – it’s just like a musical or a play. The fact that they can do it with some wit, and enjoy it, that’s tremendous. There’s an awful lot of discipline involved in what they do. I would never be able to handle that.

Garcia, Jerry, 1942-1995, “Ben Fong-Torres interviews Jerry Garcia. Interview recorded circa 1975 for the documentary radio program "What was that?" broadcast on KSAN-FM in San Francisco [radio broadcast],” Grateful Dead Archive Online, accessed November 10, 2013, http://www.gdao.org/items/show/379555.
What would have been the studio he refers to as SIR? I am sure I should know it, but I am blanking on it.