Jerry Garcia was born on August 1, 1942 and died on August 9, 1995 at the all-too-young age of 53. So that means, once again, this week is officially (at least here at The Hal Blog) Jerry Garcia Week.
Misunderstood by those who thought the Grateful Dead were more about drugs than music, and beloved by those who tapped into the sheer emotion that was voiced through his intimate and vulnerable playing, Jerry Garcia was and will forever be one of America’s greatest contributions to the world of music.
Though best known for his music with the Grateful Dead, Garcia also toured regularly with various incarnations of The Jerry Garcia Band. An opportunity for the musician to play both covers and solo originals, The Jerry Garcia Band was a soulful incarnation that moved effortlessly between the evocative poetries of Bob Dylan, the spiritual ecstasies of gospel, and the deeply heartfelt rhythms of rock and blues. It was a more intimate setting and environment than that of the Dead and it gave Mr. Garcia a chance to settle back and play without the pressures of a world-famous rock and roll band. The jams were long, the pace laid back, and the nights undeniably magical.
I saw The Jerry Garcia Band many times over the years, from the nightclub environs of San Francisco’s The Stone, to UMass’s dirt floor Cage. The experience was always mesmerizing and transcendental. It usually started as a warm feeling deep inside and spread throughout the body like a hot toddy on a cold winter’s night. There were always wide smiles, hairs standing on end, and euphoric, rhythmic dancing.
Here’s a taste of The Jerry Garcia Band doing a cover of Bob Dylan’s SIMPLE TWIST OF FATE from the Capital Theatre in Passaic, NJ on March 1st, 1980. Thanks to Youtube, the song is split into two parts. I’ll take it any way I can get it.
Enjoy and celebrate the music of a man who embraced what he felt inside and translated it into both delicate and soaring sounds that touched the hearts and souls of all who chose to go on this journey with him.
Jerry Garcia is joined here by John Kahn on bass, Ozzie Ahlers on keyboards and Johnny de Foncesca on drums.