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 411mania » Music » Columns

Jam Central Station: Jerry Garcia
Posted by Jeff Modzelewski on 08.09.2014

Jerry Garcia was born in 1942 in San Francisco, the son of a Spanish immigrant musician and a nurse. His father died when Jerry was only 5, but left a vast cadre of musical instruments for his son to experiment with. Jerry spent much of his free time as a child experimenting with different instruments in his house. He took some piano lessons as a child, but, according to interviews, he never took them very seriously and never learned to read music. He developed an ability to play music and sing by ear from singing with his older brother, who asked him to sing harmonies on popular songs that he would memorize. Coming from a musical family, he was encouraged to explore music and art from a young age.

He was initially most excited and engaged by art and literature. He began exploring art and art history after being a part of an art class in third grade, and he had a teacher encourage him to read 1984 when he was 12. This turned Jerry on to a whole new world, one outside of his school life. Much of his childhood was rough, however, and he began drinking at a young age and being as he once described it, a "hoodlum." Outside of his day to day life of spending time drinking on the streets, however, he also led a secret life spending time at the San Francisco Art Institute or reading various books.

He also began following popular music as a teenager. Rock and roll was just getting started, and Jerry was following it passionately. He began yearning for his own guitar, but was disappointed on his 15th birthday when his mom bought him an accordion. He immediately traded that at a pawn shop for a cheap electric guitar and an amp, and began to teach himself to play. He played by ear for a year, then began learning basic chords from friends at school. He also began smoking pot at this time, an experience that he stated helped again to adjust his view of the world.

He started high school, but due to disciplinary problems and a general disinterest didn't last long. Seeing no prospects for himself, he joined the Army at 17, following in his brother's military footsteps. The Army gave him an opportunity to get away from home and meet others that shared his interest in music, but he simply wasn't cut out for military life. He was discharged after 9 months, and he ventured to Palo Alto, where he met up with a number of old friends.

During his late teens and early 20's, Jerry lived a very nomadic life, spending his time playing music, doing drugs, and hanging out with friends. He was always able to find enough work to scrape by, and there were always people to play music with. It was while living in Palo Alto that he initially met many people that would go on to form the core of the Grateful Dead family, including Robert Hunter, David Nelson, and Phil Lesh.

Garcia spent this time teaching guitar and banjo (despite being unable to read music himself) and playing in a variety of bands. Jerry had the idea of forming an old-time jug band in the early 60's, and brought in friends Dave Nelson, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan and a very young Bobby Weir to join him. The band quickly moved from old-time jug band to electric blues band to a rock band, changing their sound and style in order to find gigs. The band developed some popularity as they settled on a lineup and recorded an album. The lineup evolved as they developed more of a rock sound and, early in 1964, the jug band disbanded and, from the remnants, Garcia, Pigpen, and Weir brought in Bill Kreutzmann and formed The Warlocks.

After a couple of initial gigs, the band finalized their lineup by adding Phil Lesh on bass. After finding out that there was another band with the name The Warlocks, Garcia randomly opened a dictionary and read the words "The Grateful Dead." With no other names for the band on the horizon, The Grateful Dead stuck.

It was during this time that Garcia initially began using LSD, and experience that he states completely changed who he was. LSD influenced his music, his lifestyle, and his personal philosophy. Garcia began to see an interconnectedness to the world, a truth, as he put it, that what he perceived was not all that was there. He attributed his musical freedom, his ability to experiment and improvise, to the freedom that LSD provided him.

The band began playing "Acid Test" shows, where the entire crowd would be high on LSD. This allowed The Grateful Dead complete freedom during these shows, as the crowd had no expectations that they were there to "see a band." The crowd was there to be a part of the acid test, and the music was simply one experience of the event. Garcia welcomed this musical freedom, and sought to continue to harness that freedom in his live playing, which led to him becoming a best known for his improvisational guitar work.

The Grateful Dead's career began to take off in the mid-60's, with Jerry as lead guitar, vocalist, and primary songwriter. The band quickly rose out of the San Francisco psychedelic music scene, and was one of the main draws for Woodstock. The band became associated with long and diverse live performances, and Jerry was the reluctant spokesperson for the band. Musically, Jerry explored bluegrass, country, rock, psychedelic, and even jazz in his songwriting and his playing, and The Grateful Dead provided a great platform for him to work from.

Garcia didn't just keep to The Grateful Dead, however. He was associated with the formation of the country-rock band New Riders of the Purple Sage, and joined the band in 1969. The band would often play and tour with The Grateful Dead, and Garcia, Hart, and Lesh would pull double duty with both bands. New Riders gave Garcia an outlet for his interest in playing pedal steel guitar, and was definitely a different feel from Garcia's work with the Grateful Dead. Garcia's full-time involvement in New Riders only lasted a short time, as he left the band in 1971 and was replaced by Buddy Cage on the steel guitar. He did return as a guest on their 1972 album, and he was featured on a pair of later releases by the band that included early material.

Garcia also began his solo recording career at this time. He recorded and released Garcia, playing all of the instruments other than the drums. The album included a number of songs that are typically thought of as Grateful Dead songs, since they became part of the Grateful Dead live repertoire. 1974's Compliments was his second solo album, a collection of covers that he recorded with a vast array of fellow musicians.

Garcia used the increasing popularity of the Grateful Dead to take opportunities to record and work with a variety of his friends. He spent time in the studio with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Jefferson Airplane, Tom Fogerty, Warren Zevon, Country Joe McDonald, Bruce Hornsby, Bob Dylan, and others. He even was a part of some of the earliest forms of electronica with other members of the Grateful Dead. He was a guest musician, collaborator, producer, and quintessential artist.

In 1973, Garcia and friend David Grisman formed the bluegrass group Old and In The Way. The band would only record one album with Garcia (they regrouped for a second album after his death). Along with their self-titled album they released three live recordings from the 70's, again after Jerry's death.

After disbanding with Old and In The Way, Jerry went on to form the Jerry Garcia Band, which would be his primary musical outlet other than the Grateful Dead. The band would go through a variety of lineups, with Garcia and bassist John Kahn as the only permanent members of the band. The band started as a four-piece, but throughout the years had as many as seven members at any given time. They only released one studio album, 1978's Cats Under the Stars. Garcia had said many times that Cats was the favorite album he made. The band also released a live album in 1991 and a variety of posthumous releases of live shows.

Jerry had a somewhat uncomfortable relationship with his fame. He never accepted the title that was given to him as "leader" of the Grateful Dead or as the "guru" or "spiritual head" of the hippy movement or the Haight-Ashbury scene. His drug use in the 70's increased, as he moved from pot and psychedelics to cocaine and heroin. Other members of the Grateful Dead were also on a variety of drugs, leading to problems in the band in the early 80's. Garcia had the biggest problem controlling his habit, however, and was busted for drugs multiple times and had various stints in rehab. Further complicating his health was a weight problem that he was never fully in control of.

The Grateful Dead spent the 80's recording and continuing their never-ending tour, and, during the down time, Jerry played with the Jerry Garcia Band or with other friends. After a near-death experience from a diabetic shock and coma, Garcia cleaned up again and the band went kept working. In 1987 they released In The Dark, an album that returned the band to the spotlight through the success of the single "Touch of Grey."

Garcia remained clean and relatively healthy until 1989, when he began relapsing again. The band worked to get him clean, with varying degrees of success. Garcia also began recording with longtime friend David Grisman around this time, and the duo released a pair of albums in the early 90's. Despite his health and addiction problems, he was still making inspired music in a variety of settings. Along with his musical work, he also began releasing his artwork to fans, including a series of J. Garcia ties featuring his work.

In an attempt to regain a healthy lifestyle, Garcia checked into the Betty Ford Center in July 1995 and then a different center in California a couple of weeks later. Unfortunately, this attempt to get clean proved to be too little too late, as he passed away of a heart attack on August 9. A public memorial drew over 25,000 Dead-heads in San Francisco, including past and present band members and musicians that he had influenced.

I remember hearing about his death 15 years ago, and not truly understanding the significance at the time. I knew that the Grateful Dead were an important band, but I didn't have a full picture as to how important the band and Jerry Garcia were. I know that the music Jerry made wasn't something that was for everyone, but the people that got it passionately loved it, and Jerry. He inspired love and loyalty in his fans like no other artist has ever done or likely will ever do. Fans followed the band and Jerry on the road, sometimes for months or years on end, simply because they never knew what would happen at a show. Jerry Garcia was a musical genius and legend who was unfortunately lost too soon.

moe add dates
moe. added a handful of dates to their fall tour. They're scheduled through their Halloween run right now, with most of October open.

August 22 Chattanooga, TN—Southern Brewers Festival
August 29-31 Turin, NY—moe.down XV
September 12 Orono, ME—Collins Center for the Arts
September 13 Fredericton, NB—Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival
September 14 Montreal, QB—Virgin Mobile Corona Theatre
September 16 Toronto, ON—The Mod Club
September 18 Peoria, IL—CEFCU Center Stage
September 19 Royal Oak, MI—Royal Oak Music Theatre
September 20 Cincinnati, OH—Moonlite Gardens
September 21 Kent, OH—The Kent Stage
September 24 Burlington, VT—Higher Ground
September 25 Concord, NH—Capitol Center for the Arts
September 26 Westbury, NY—The Space at Westbury
September 27 Bridgeport, CT—The Klein
October 24-26 Placerville, CA—Hangtown Halloween Ball
October 31 Las Vegas, NV—Brooklyn Bowl
November 1 Las Vegas, NV—Hard Rock Live

John Butler Trio announce fall tour
The John Butler Trio will be back in the U.S. for a fall tour. They'll mostly be hitting up venues in the south before swinging up the east coast.

October 30 Houston, TX—House of Blues
October 31 Austin, TX—Stubbs Waller Creek
November 1 Dallas, TX—Chive Fest
November 4 Mobile, AL—Saenger Theatre
November 6 Charleston, SC—Charleston Music Hall
November 8 Wilmington, NC—Greenfield Lake Amphitheater
November 10 Birmingham, AL—Iron City
November 13 Nashville, TN—Ryman Auditorium
November 14 Atlanta, GA—Tabernacle
November 15 Raleigh, NC—The Ritz
November 16 Richmond, VA—The National
November 18 Baltimore, MD—Rams Head Live!
November 20 Port Chester, NY—The Capitol Theatre
November 21 Hampton Beach, NH—Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom
November 22 Northampton, MA—Calvin Theatre

Galactic announces Halloween show
Galactic will be spending Halloween in their home town of New Orleans this year. They'll be performing at Tipitina's in New Orleans on October 31.

The Devil Makes Three announce tour
The Devil Makes Three announced some additional dates to their already extensive tour. The band is scheduled to be on the road through Halloween, although they have much of September off.

August 9 New York, NY—Lincoln Center Out of Doors
August 10 Millvale, PA—Mr. Smalls Theatre
August 12 Kalamazoo, MI—Bell's Brewery
August 13 Davenport, IA—Redstone Room
August 14 Omaha, NE—The Waiting Room Lounge
August 16 Morrison, CO—Red Rocks Amphitheatre *
August 30 Sterling Heights, MI—Freedom Hill Amphiteatre ^
August 31 Highland Park, IL—Ravinia Festival Pavilion ^
September 13 Columbia, MD—Merriweather Post Pavilion
September 14 Burlington, VT—Grand Point North Music Festival
October 2 Lancaster, PA—Chameleon Club
October 3 Charlottesville, VA—Jefferson Theater
October 7 Charlotte, NC—Visulite Theatre
October 8 Charleston, SC—The Music Farm
October 9 Raleigh, NC—Lincoln Theatre
October 10 Richmond, VA—The National
October 11 Asheville, NC—The Orange Peel
October 12 Knoxville, TN—Bijou Theatre
October 15 Columbia, MO—The Blue Note
October 16 North Kansas City, MO—Harrah's Kansas City-Voodoo Lounge
October 17 Tulsa, OK—The Vanguard
October 18 Ozark, AR—Harvest Music Festival
October 22 Jacksonville Beach, FL—Free Bird Live
October 23 Orlando, FL—The Beacham
October 24 Fort Lauderdale, FL—CULTURE ROOM
October 25 St. Petersburg, FL—State Theatre
October 28 Gainesville, FL—High Dive
October 29 Athens, GA—Georgia Theatre
October 30 Birmingham, AL—WorkPlay Theatre
October 31 Nashville, TN—Marathon Music Works
November 1 Lexington, KY—Cosmic Charlie's
(*) with Trampled by Turtles and Deer Tick
(^) supporting Bob Weir & Ratdog and Dwight Yoakam

EOTO adds tour dates
EOTO announced the dates for their fall tour this week. The group will be on the road from the end of September through mid December, with a few well-timed off dates.

September 25 Pontiac, MI–Crofoot Ballroom
September 26 Chicago, IL—Concord Music Hall
September 27 Chicago, IL–Concord Music Hall
October 1 Lincoln, NE–Bourbon Theater
October 2 St. Louis, MO–2720 Cherokee
October 3 Milwaukee, WI–The Rave
October 4 Urbana, IL–Canopy Club
October 8 Nashville, TN–TEMPT
October 9 Atlanta, GA–Terminal West
October 10 Birmingham, AL–Zydeco
October 11 Miami, FL–The Nest
November 21 New York, NY–Stage 48
November 28 San Diego, CA–Winstons
November 29 Los Angeles, CA–El Rey Theatre
December 5 San Francisco, CA–The Independent
December 6 Reno, NV–Cargo
December 10 Austin, TX–Parish
December 12 Lawrence, KS—Granada Theater
December 13 Denver, CO–Ogden Theatre

Werk Out Festival
August 7-9, 2014
Legend Valley
Thornville, OH
Performers include: The Werks (3 nights), Papadosio (2 nights), Emancipator, Future Rock Zoogma, Dopapod, Zach Deputy, and many others.

Outside Lands
August 8-10, 2014
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA
Performers include: Kanye West, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, The Killers, The Flaming Lips, Spoon, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Chromeo, John butler Trio, Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers, and many others

Arise Music Festival
August 8-10, 2014
Sunrise Ranch
Loveland, CO
Performers include: Galactic, Grateful Grass, Nahko & Medicine for the People, and many others

Peach Music Festival
August 14-17, 2014
Montage Mountain
Scranton, PA
Performers include: Allman Brothers Band (2 nights), Bob Weir & RatDog, Trey Anastasio Band, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Lotus, JJ Grey & Mofro, The Revivalists, Dopapod, The Infamous Stringdusters, papadosio, and others.

August 15-17, 2014
Wellston, MI
Performers include: Greensky Bluegrass, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Steppin' In It, The Ragbirds, and many others.

Summer Set Music & Camping Festival
August 15-17
Somerset, Wi
Performers include: Bassnectar, Umphrey's McGee, Kaskade, Disco Biscuits, Wu-Tang Clan, Big Gigantic, Chromeo, Cherub, and many others

Camp Barefoot
August 21-23, 2014
Bartow, WV
Performers include: Beats Antique, Papadosio, Lettuce, Kyle Hollingsworth Band performing a tribute to Motown, Dopapod, Kung Fu, The Motet, Zach Deputy, and many others.

August 29-31, 2014
Snow Ridge Ski Resort
Turin, NY
Performers include: moe. (3 headlining nights), Lotus, O.A.R. Les Claypool's Duo de Twang, Soulive, Twiddle, Aqueous, and others.

North Coast Music Festival
August 29-31, 2014
Union Park
Chicago, IL
Performers include: Bassnectar, Kid cudi, STS9, Snoop Dogg, Dada Life, Zeds Dead, Dr. Dog, The New Deal, and many others.

Lockin' Music Festival
September 4-7, 2014
Arrington, VA
Performers include: Furthur, The String Cheese Incident, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers,The Allman Brothers Band, Phil Lesh & Friends, Widespread Panic, Umphrey's McGee, Wilco, Bob Weir & Ratdog, and many others.

Phases of the Moon Festival
September 11-14, 2014
Kennekuk County Park, IL
Performers include: Widespread Panic (2 nights), Tedeschi Trucks Band, Gov't Mule, Galactic, Leftover Salmon, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, and many others.

Farm Aid
September 13, 2014
Walnut Creek Amphitheatre
Raleigh, NC
Performers include: Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds, Jack White, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and many others.

Catskill Chill
September 5-7, 2014
Camp Minglewood
Hancock, NY
Performers include: Yonder Mountain String Band with Allie Kral, Lettuce, Shpongle, Karl denson's Tiny Universe, Papadosio, Dopapod, Particle, The Heavy Pets, and many others.

Grand Point North Festival
September 13-14, 2014
Waterfront Park
Burlington, VT
Performers include: Grace Potter & The Nocturnals (headlining both nights), Lake Street Dive, Trampled by Turtles, The Devil Makes Three, Dr. John, Caroline Rose, and many others.

Harvest Music Festival
October 16-18, 2014
Mulberry Mountain
Ozark, AR
Performers include: Yonder Mountain String Band with Jerry Douglas, Trampled By Turtles, Railroad Earth, Lettuce, The Devil Makes Three, Dumpstaphunk, Elephant Revival, Cornmeal, and many others

Hangtown Halloween Ball
October 24-26, 2014
Placerville, CA
Performers include: Railroad Earth (3 nights), The Meter Men, Leftover Salmon, The Jeff Austin Band, The motet, and many others

Suwannee Hulaween
October 31-November 2, 2014
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oak, FL
Performers include: String Cheese Incident (3 nights), Thievery Corp., Big Gigantic, Beats Antique, EOTO, Greensky Bluegrass, and many others

Bear Creek Music & Art Festival
November 13-16, 2014
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oak, FL
Performers include: Umphrey's McGee, Lettuce, Dumpstaphunk, The New Mastersounds, Break Science, Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, Turkuaz, The Main Squeeze, Tauk, and many others

Strings & Sol
December 11-15, 2014
Puerto Morales, Mexico
Performers include: Yonder Mountain String Band, Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon, The Infamous Stringdusters, and Greensky Bluegrass

Jam Cruise
January 6-11, 2015
Departs from Miami, FL

Tropical Throe.down
January 9-13, 2015
Grand Lido Resort
Negril, Jamaica
Performers include: moe., Floodwood, Conehead Buddha Horns, and Ha Ha The Moose.

Island Exodus
January 14-18, 2015
Grand Lido Negril
Negril, Jamaica
Gov't Mule will host the event

Panic en la Playa Cuatro
January 24-28, 2014
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Widespread Panic will host this event

One Big Holiday
January 31-February 4, 2015
Hard Rock Hotel
Riviera Maya, Mexico
My Morning Jacket will host the event

Thanks again for stopping by. I'll be back next week with more jam. Until then, check me out on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute concert announcements. Until next week, Jam On!


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