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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Showing posts with label Jerry Garcia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jerry Garcia. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Purple Pyramid Records artist: Harvey Mandel - Snake Box - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, Snake Box, from Harvey Mandel and it's very adventurous. For those of you unfamiliar with Mandel's work, he played with Charlie Musselwhite, Canned Heat, John Mayall, Rolling Stones, Love and the Ventures. This 6 disc set, 5 studio releases packaged in original covers and one live jam set make up a good cross section of Mandel's early work. Also in the box are 4 pages of liner notes, poster photos and track info.

Disc One, Cristo Redentor was released in 1968 and shows a strong slice of the musical experimentation that was happening at the time. Before Six with it's Latin rhythm and horns is not unlike things that Butterfield was experimenting with. Musselwhite adds his distinctive harp tones on the Lark. The Snake has a lot of the sounds that you would expect from a San Francisco band of the late 60's. Long Wait shows true signs of blues roots with interesting interweaving of guitar, keys and percussion. A long experimental guitar solo on Wade In The Water backed by strings shows definite direction. You Can't tell Me has a poppy rhythm but again aggressively mixed musical styles. This is a disc that definitely warrants a listen if you don't know or already love the roots of jam music.

Disc Two, Righteous, released in 1969 shows a blues progression opening with the title track and Mandel doing guitar swells over a 12 bar melody. Jive Samba has a much smoother jazz ballad feel with strong horn backing. Funk steps up on Love Of Life with horns and drums laying down a 60's splashed horn track and Mandel taking a bluesy solo over the top. Quite cool! Poontang again shows the early fusion of blues, soul, rock and R&B with keys and guitar. Cool! Just A Hair More is a straight up slow blues with Mandel wailing away. Excellent!

 Disc Three, Games Guitars Play, released in 1970 shows a more mature and adventurous jazz blues fusion opening with a cool funky Leavin' Trunk. Very nice! Classic Honky Tonk has the blues country feel with a Roy Buchanan like flair. Excellent! Capurange is one of my favorites on this disc with a cool rhythm and twin guitar leads. A cool exploration with just enough solidity.

 Disc Four, Baby Batter, released in 1971 has an even closer to the funky side of the blues with similarity in features to the Oblivion Express. Title track has a great groove and more succinct guitar soloing. Midnight Sun, remaining in the funky groove shows Mandel's continued maturation and control of his own expression on the guitar. Morton Grove Mama is a cool boogie with Mandel trading off with Howard Wales on organ and a strong driving bass line of Larry Taylor. Freedom Ball is a real funky track but with wailing guitar work from Mandel and groovin drums by Colin Bailey and congo by Big Black. El Stinger has some really intense guitar work over a loose funky rhythm. Hank The Ripper, the disc closer goes back to primary 12 bar form but with again loose experimentation. A definite change in each disc.

 Disc Five, The Snake, released in 1972 shows a further polishing and change to a more structured but still intense style. Opening with The Divining Rod has a great tight drum intensity and Mandel takes a structured approach to his experimentation. Very cool! Title track, The Snake has a real swampy funk and a eerie guitar lead. Levitation is a cool 12 bar number with steel and 6 string work. Certainly not your typical blues but definitely a solid blues beat and cool guitars. Wrapping disc 5 is Bite The Electric Eel with a solid drive consistent with the style I associate with Jeff Beck. Straight ahead beat and reckless guitar work. Excellent!

 Disc Six, Live At The Matrix was recorded live in San Francisco in 1968 with Jerry Garcia, Elvin Bishop, Stephen Miller, Mickey Hart and John Chambers. Opening with Jam, a 36 plus minute jam featuring a dead like extended guitar jam. Elvin Bishop's You've Got to Feel It is up next and holds the soul groove to Bishop's band. Nice guitar work and Miller's key work fill the track. An extended 3 O'clock In The Morning has a definite blues groove. Picking up speed as the track progresses over 9 minutes, the guitars interweave. She's A Mojo Worker has a definite R&B feel and extending over 20 minutes, finds the guitar players searching each expression.

 This is a very cool exhibition of Mandel's early work and one that will find interesting to the extent that you like guitar, improvisation and history of rock and blues music.

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Deep Ellum Blues - Jerry Garcia & Bob Weir

Jerome John "Jerry" Garcia (August 1, 1942 – August 9, 1995) was an American musician who was best known for his lead guitar work, singing and songwriting with the band the Grateful Dead. Though he disavowed the role, Garcia was viewed by many as the leader or "spokesman" of the group.

One of its founders, Garcia performed with the Grateful Dead for their entire three-decade career (1965–1995). Garcia also founded and participated in a variety of side projects, including the Saunders-Garcia Band (with longtime friend Merl Saunders), Jerry Garcia Band, Old and in the Way, the Garcia/Grisman acoustic duo, Legion of Mary, and the New Riders of the Purple Sage (which Garcia co-founded with John Dawson and David Nelson). He also released several solo albums, and contributed to a number of albums by other artists over the years as a session musician. He was well known by many for his distinctive guitar playing and was ranked 13th in Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" cover story.

Later in life, Garcia was sometimes ill because of his unstable weight, and in 1986 went into a diabetic coma that nearly cost him his life. Although his overall health improved somewhat after that, he also struggled with heroin and cocaine addictions, and was staying in a California drug rehabilitation facility when he died of a heart attack in August 1995.
Jerry Garcia's ancestry was Galician (Spanish), Irish, and Swedish. He was born in San Francisco, California, on August 1, 1942, to Jose Ramon "Joe" Garcia and Ruth Marie "Bobbie" (née Clifford) Garcia. His parents named him after composer Jerome Kern. Jerome John was their second child, preceded by Clifford Ramon "Tiff", who was born in 1937. Shortly before Clifford's birth, their father and a partner leased a building in downtown San Francisco and turned it into a bar, partly in response to Jose being blackballed from a musician's union for moonlighting
Garcia stole his mother's car in 1960, and as punishment, joined the United States Army. He received basic training at Fort Ord. After training, he was transferred to Fort Winfield Scott in the Presidio of San Francisco. Garcia spent most of his time in the army at his leisure, missing roll call and accruing many counts of AWOL. As a result, Garcia was given a general discharge on December 14, 1960.

In January 1961, Garcia drove down to East Palo Alto to see Laird Grant, an old friend from middle school. He had purchased a 1950 Cadillac sedan from a cook in the army, which barely made it to Grant's residence before it broke down. Garcia proceeded to spend the next few weeks sleeping where friends would allow, eventually using his car as a home. Through Grant, Garcia met Dave McQueen in February, who, after hearing Garcia perform some blues, introduced him to local people and to the Chateau, a rooming house located near Stanford University which was then a popular hangout.

On February 20, 1961, Garcia entered a car with Paul Speegle, a 16-year-old artist and acquaintance of Garcia; Jack Royerton, a poet from Indiana and childhood friend of Garcia; Lee Adams, the house manager of the Chateau and driver of the car; and Alan Trist, a companion of theirs. After speeding past the Menlo Park Veterans Hospital, the car encountered a curve and, traveling around ninety miles per hour, collided with the guard rail, sending the car rolling turbulently. Garcia was hurled through the windshield of the car into a nearby field with such force he was literally thrown out of his shoes and would later be unable to recall the ejection. Lee Adams, the driver, and Alan Trist, who was seated in the back, were thrown from the car as well, suffering from abdominal injuries and a spine fracture, respectively. Royerton suffered a mild concussion and shattered his ulna. Garcia escaped with a broken collarbone, while Speegle, still in the car, was fatally injured.

The accident served as an awakening for Garcia, who later commented: "That's where my life began. Before then I was always living at less than capacity. I was idling. That was the slingshot for the rest of my life. It was like a second chance. Then I got serious". It was at this time that Garcia began to realize that he needed to begin playing the guitar in earnest—a move which meant giving up his love of drawing and painting.

Garcia met Robert Hunter, who would become a long-time lyrical collaborator with the Grateful Dead, in April 1961. Garcia and Hunter began to participate in the local art and music scenes, sometimes playing at Kepler's Books. Garcia performed his first concert with Hunter, each earning five dollars. Garcia and Hunter also played in a band called the Wildwood Boys with David Nelson, a future contributor to some Grateful Dead albums.

In 1962 Garcia met Phil Lesh, the eventual bassist of the Grateful Dead, during a party in Menlo Park's bohemian Perry Lane neighborhood (where Ken Kesey lived). Lesh would later write in his autobiography that Garcia resembled the composer Claude Debussy, with his "dark, curly hair, goatee, Impressionist eyes". While attending another party in Palo Alto, Lesh approached Garcia to suggest that he record some songs on Lesh's tape recorder (Phil was musically trained, though he did not start playing bass guitar until the formation of the Grateful Dead in 1965) with the intention of getting them played on the radio station KPFA. Using an old Wollensak tape recorder, they recorded "Matty Groves" and "The Long Black Veil", among several other tunes. Their efforts were not in vain, leading to a spot on the show, a ninety-minute special on Garcia. It was broadcast as: "'The Long Black Veil' and Other Ballads: An Evening with Jerry Garcia".

Garcia soon began playing and teaching acoustic guitar and banjo. One of Garcia's students was Bob Matthews, who later engineered many of the Grateful Dead's albums. Matthews went to high school and was friends with Bob Weir, and on New Year's Eve 1963, he introduced Weir and Garcia.

Between 1962 and 1964, Garcia sang and performed mainly bluegrass, old-time and folk music. One of the bands Garcia performed with was the Sleepy Hollow Hog Stompers, a bluegrass act. The group consisted of Jerry Garcia on guitar, banjo, vocals, and harmonica, Marshall Leicester on banjo, guitar, and vocals, and Dick Arnold on fiddle and vocals.[46] Soon after this, Garcia joined a local bluegrass and folk band called Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions, whose membership included Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, a rhythm and blues fan. Around this time, the psychedelic LSD was gaining popularity. Garcia first began experimenting with LSD in 1964; later, when asked how it changed his life, he remarked: "Well, it changed everything [...] the effect was that it freed me because I suddenly realized that my little attempt at having a straight life and doing that was really a fiction and just wasn't going to work out. Luckily I wasn't far enough into it for it to be shattering or anything; it was like a realization that just made me feel immensely relieved".

In 1965, Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions evolved into the Warlocks, with the addition of Phil Lesh on bass guitar and Bill Kreutzmann on percussion. However, the band discovered that another group was performing under their newly selected name, prompting another name change. Garcia came up with the name by opening a Funk and Wagnall's dictionary to an entry for "Grateful Dead". The definition for "Grateful Dead" was "a dead person, or his angel, showing gratitude to someone who, as an act of charity, arranged their burial". The band's first reaction was disapproval. Garcia later explained the group's reaction: "I didn't like it really, I just found it to be really powerful. [Bob] Weir didn't like it, [Bill] Kreutzmann didn't like it and nobody really wanted to hear about it. [...]" Despite their dislike of the name, it quickly spread by word of mouth, and soon became their official title.
On August 9, 1995, at 4:23 am, just eight days after his 53rd birthday, Garcia's body was discovered in his room at the rehabilitation clinic. The cause of death was a heart attack. Garcia had long struggled with drug addiction, weight problems, sleep apnea,a long standing cigarette habit and diabetes all of which contributed to his physical decline.
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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Little Sadie - Jerry Garcia/ John Kahn

John Kahn (June 13, 1947 - May 30, 1996) was an American rock bass player. For a period of about twenty five years Kahn was Jerry Garcia's principal collaborator outside of the Grateful Dead.
John Kahn was born in Memphis, Tennessee. Adopted at birth by the Kahn family, he grew up in Beverly Hills, California. At Beverly Hills High School, he earned a reputation as a precocious musician playing jazz guitar and composing a symphonic piece, "Western Impressions", the first orchestral work by a student to be publicly performed by the high school orchestra under the direction of Robert Holmes.

In his junior year at high school, Kahn switched to acoustic bass and formed a jazz duo with a pianist, Peter Isackson, who encouraged him to study with Monty Budwig, a member of the house rhythm section at Shelly's Manne-hole. Kahn moved to Sausalito, California in 1965, where he began gravitating towards the rock culture that was in full bloom at the very time that Haight Ashbury was becoming the capital of Hippiedom. In 1967 he began working with rhythm and blues and then rock musicians.

Kahn first began his collaborations with Jerry Garcia's numerous side projects in May 1970, as bassist of Jerry Garcia and Howard Wales. He played in every line-up of the Jerry Garcia Band, and was in many other Garcia side projects, including Reconstruction, the reformed version of Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders that made its public debut in 1979.

Kahn was also bassist for Legion of Mary, an incarnation of the Jerry Garcia Band that featured both Garcia and Kahn, as well as Merl Saunders on keyboards and vocals, Martin Fierro on saxophone and flute and Ron Tutt on drums. Legion of Mary played only from January 23 to July 6, 1975.

Kahn also was bassist for the Merl Saunders and Jerry Garcia Band, which made its debut in May 1973 and continued on and off until Jerry's death. The last Jerry Garcia Band show with Garcia being played at the Warfield in San Francisco on April 23, 1995. Kahn played acoustic stand-up bass in Old and in the Way, which toured from March through May 1973. The band, along with Kahn, featured Garcia on banjo and vocals, David Grisman on mandolin and vocals, Peter Rowan on guitar and vocals, Richard Greene and Vassar Clements on fiddle. Kahn also played alongside Garcia as acoustic bassist in the Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band, and often during the early eighties as the guitarist's only accompanist in the Garcia and Kahn folk duo.

Although Kahn did occasional work for the Grateful Dead, serving as producer/engineer for the band's aborted Egypt '78 live album and contributed organ and additional production to the Shakedown Street album.

Prior to his involvement with Garcia, Kahn played on The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper and was briefly a member of The Paul Butterfield Blues Band in one of its later line-ups. Other collaborators include Maria Muldaur, Nick Gravenites and John Lee Hooker.

Kahn died of a heroin overdose.
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