Today’s episode is an examination and celebration of the musical roots of the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia. Garcia’s musical roots begin in the early 1960s with traditional American folk music. With styles ranging from bluegrass, old time country music, folk, blues and jug band music, Garcia was a well known performer in SanFrancisco and Bay Area clubs. Around 1964-65 Jerry switched his energy from bluegrass banjo to the electric guitar after forming a rock band with fellow American down home music enthusiasts Bob Weir, Ron “Pigpen” Mckernan, Phil Lesh and Bill Kreutzman. The Warlocks, soon renamed the Grateful Dead became an extremely popular act in the SanFrancisco area and the rest, as they say, is history.
The format for this episode is semi-chronological in regard to Jerry Garcia’s music styles. A variety of styles are examined and is nowhere near a complete, in depth analysis of Jerry’s styles and influences. That could be a full length book. Rather, the show is a simple examination that looks at some of the original recordings that influenced Jerry and then mixes in snippets of how those recordings were manifested in Garcia’s style throughout the decades he was active as a performer up until his untimely death in August of 1995. Early recordings of Jerry in his many aggregations around the Bay Area folk scene have long been available as bootleg tapes as well as most, if not all, of the Grateful Dead shows from their 30 year career made possible through the Dead’s allowing of and encouragement of taping their live performances. There’s a lot out there to listen to and I recommend you seek out as many recordings as you can.
For an in depth dive on the Grateful Dead I highly recommend the official podcast of the Grateful Dead, The Good ‘Ol Grateful Deadcast as David Grisman’s record label, Acoustic Disc, which made many great recordings of Jerry playing traditional American music in the early 1990’s. See links below.
Thanks for listening and I hope you enjoy the show.
Acoustic Disc: https://acousticdisc.com/
Good ‘Ol Grateful Deadcast: https://www.dead.net/deadcast
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