Archive for the ‘“Grateful Dead”’ Category

My contributions to “Roots of the Jam Weekend”

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

My pal Ari Fink asked me (and my Tales from the Golden Road cohost, Gary Lambert) to pick some seminal tracks to play on the Jam_On Channel‘s “Roots of the Jam Weekend,” airing now through Sunday (11/30/14).

Here are the four pieces I contributed:

Dark StarLive Dead, recorded 2/27/69
The Grateful Dead didn’t invent jamming, but they did create a unique form of collective improvisation that set them apart from their contemporaries in the San Francisco music scene and inspired whole generations of musicians who grew up listening to them.

To my way of thinking, the most significant and satisfying music the Dead made was a little ditty called “Dark Star.” The original studio single was barely two minutes long, but it contained the genetic code for nearly infinite musical expansion, and great variations of feel from sweet and lilting to gnarly and noisy. I have often said I’ve never met a “Dark Star” I didn’t like, and I have listened to literally hundreds of recordings. Saw quite a few of ‘em live, too!

When all is said and done, the “Dark Star” on the 1969 album Live Dead is truly a peak performance. This is great music for driving across the desert, by the way. Take this with you on your next trip to southern Utah and I’m sure you’ll agree!

Playing in the BandEurope ’72: The Complete Recordings (5/10/72)
One of my favorite Grateful Dead songs/jams is “Playing in the Band,” which began with a ten-beat melody given to Mickey Hart by the Indian music master Alla Rakha. Mickey and lyricist Robert Hunter turned it into a song for Mickey’s 1972 solo album Rolling Thunder (titled “The Main Ten (Playing n the Band)”, with the help of Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir. Bobby started playing it with the Grateful Dead in 1971, and beginning with the Europe ’72 tour the band opened up a section in the middle of the song for exploration and expansion. There’s a very cool studio performance on Bobby’s 1972 solo album Ace, but of course the live performances are where the real magic can be found.

The Dead played “Playing in the Band” at every one of the 22 shows on the Europe ’72 tour (and twice on 4/21/72, during the Beat Club TV taping), and from that time on it was one of the band’s most important vehicles to JAM ON. This one, recorded on May 10, 1972 in Amsterdam, goes to some very interesting places before the musicians reconvene and bring it home for a big finish.

Watkins Glen Soundcheck JamSo Many Roads (1965-1995), recorded 7/27/73
The Grateful Dead are pretty much the founding fathers of the “jam band” genre, of course. The band was famous for never playing anything the same way twice, and for combining a brilliant collection of original songs and borrowed tunes with wild and often beautiful group improvisations. Nobody else did things quite the way the Grateful Dead did ‘em.

The Dead played a gigantic show in July of 1973 at the Watkins Glen Raceway in upstate New York on a bill with the Band and the Allman Brothers. The crowds were so huge waiting to get in that the promoters opened the place up a day early, and the sound check turned out to be a performance of sorts. So some several thousand fans were lucky to be on the premises when the Dead played this amazing bit of pure improvisation. The tape cuts in as the jam is beginning, but it seems pretty clear that this music did not emerge from a song – it’s just pure free-form. My co-producers and I all agreed that this jam belonged in the boxed set So Many Roads (1965-1995), and we gave it a very straightforward title: “Watkins Glen Soundcheck Jam.” It’s a thing of beauty, utterly unique in Grateful Dead history.

Beautiful JamSo Many Roads (1965-1995), recorded 2/18/71
The Grateful Dead were famous for their great original songs, unique interpretations of other people’s songs, and of course for making up brand-new music onstage in real time – the very definition of the word “jam.” I would like to share with you one of the sweetest piece of music I have ever heard, by anyone in any genre. It was performed at the Capitol Theater on February 18, 1971, coming out of the very first public performance of “Wharf Rat,” deep in the second set. I just fell in love with this the first time I ever heard it.

I had a chance to play this for Phil Lesh when he appeared on my radio show in Berkeley a while back, and it was really a treat to watch his face when he heard it for the first time since the band played it. This is a showcase for the sweetness of Jerry Garcia’s lead guitar and the sensitivity of the group mind that created it on the fly.

Photos of Alembic, then and now

Friday, November 14th, 2014

This week I visited Alembic Inc. for the first time in more than 30 years. This is a link to a set of photos from this visit, plus a few shots I took in September 1978 when I was there to write a story for BAM Magazine.

Alembic – photos by David Gans (1978 and 2014)


November 12, 2014 plus a few images from September 1978

Guest blogger on “Dead for a Day”

Monday, October 6th, 2014

I was invited to post on Dead for a Year about a favorite piece of Grateful Dead music, and I chose to write about the big second-set jam of 5/19/74. Visit Dead for a Year and check it out!

Keep a good thought for Bob Weir

Sunday, August 10th, 2014
Bob Weir in his studio, early '80s

Bob Weir in his studio, early ’80s

“Circumstances have necessitated that all scheduled tour dates for Bob Weir & RatDog are being cancelled. This applies to all dates on the summer tour starting on Thursday, August 14 in Boston through September 14 in Nashville and also includes the Jamaica event in January of 2015….”

New GD photos on flickr

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

I added a few photos to my Grateful Dead set on flickr. Here’s one…

Bob and Brent

Thought for the day

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

I’m going through hundreds of interviews, searching for stories to put into this book I’m working on with Blair Jackson. There’s a lot of great stuff that doesn’t really fit into an oral history but really ought to be shared. This is from a December 2013 interview with producer/director Allan Arkush, a longtime friend of Jerry Garcia:

For most of my adult life, I’ve worked almost every Friday night. That’s the nature of television: you start 7:00 Monday morning, but you do your night stuff at the end of the week. And especially when you’re doing shows like Crossing Jordan, where you always find bodies at night. That’s the genre.

Whatever the show is or wherever you are, you’re working on Friday night ’til about three or four in the morning. You wake up Saturday morning – and you never get enough sleep, because the work is still bouncing in my head – I’m not rested, but I’m too tired to do anything else.

I’ve developed this habit of lying in bed, putting on earbuds or headphones, and playing the Dead, and not doing anything for two or three hours. It always has to be the Dead, because you don’t know which way the music is gonna go. I don’t want to hear just song, song, song: I want to be taken somewhere else. It’s a way to restore myself, both mentally and physically. It’s meditative, to me.

KPFA Marathon – link to playlist

Saturday, February 8th, 2014

This link will take you the playlist and relevant links.

Shirts designed and produced by Papa Lindsey

Shirts designed and produced by Papa Lindsey

Posts from Lost Live Dead

Saturday, February 8th, 2014

Corry Arnold is sharing historical info from his amazing blog today.

September 1973 tour itinerary

10/17/73 in Dallas

Jerry Garcia’s keyboardists

Jerry Garcia and his banjo in Santa Cruz 1973-75

Bob Weir and Kingfish 1984-1987

According to Corry Arnold, Bob Weir learned “Me and My Uncle” from Curly Jim

Go Ahead – Brent Mydland and Bill Kreutzmann

Grateful Dead in Nashville 1972

Jerry Garcia concert attendance 1961-1990

KPFA Grateful Dead Marathon TODAY 2/8!

Saturday, February 8th, 2014

TODAY’S THE DAY! I’ll be on KPFA from 9 am to 1 am PST playing lots of Grateful Dead-related music. And only the best, mind you!

Also airing on KPFK and its related frequencies in southern California, and webcasting via,,,, and

Phone in your pledge at 510-848-5732 or 1-800-439-5732, or pledge online at

Playlist will be updated as we go!


Thursday, February 6th, 2014

NO MORE BIDS. Winning bidders are listed here

Total of the bids is $2235!