Grateful Dead

Something Old, Something New from the Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band

By Blair Jackson

Something Old, Something New from the Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band

The much-loved Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band had a relatively brief life—fewer than 30 shows from the summer of ’87 to the summer of ’88—but in that time they made an indelible impression on every person who encountered their warm and inviting blend of folk, old-time country, blues and bluegrass music. The roots of the group went back to the early ’60s, when Garcia, David Nelson and Sandy Rothman were all part of the Bay Area folk scene; indeed, the three of them played together in a group called the Black Mountain Boys in 1964. When Garcia slipped into a coma and nearly died in 1986, Nelson and Rothman were among the old friends who helped Jerry get his chops back in the weeks following his release from the hospital. They reconnected on many levels—including musically—and that led to the decision in 1987 to put together a small group (they added John Kahn on standup bass) and play some gigs. Beginning in mid-October ’87 the newly dubbed Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band played 18 shows at Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, sharing the bill with the (electric) Jerry Garcia Band. David Kemper from the JGB added some percussion to the mix, and a few shows into the Broadway run, fiddler Kenny Kosek was added to the line-up. A month after the Broadway triumph, the full JGAB played three shows each at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco and the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles.

It was a selection of highlights from those California shows, chosen by Sandy Rothman and approved by Garcia, that became the JGAB’s acclaimed album, Almost Acoustic, which was released in 1988, but has long been out of print… that is, until NOW! That’s right, by popular demand, a newly re-mastered version of the JGAB’s classic album is available once again! As most of you know, the album offers an exceptional mixture of tunes popularized by the likes of Jimmie Rodgers, the Stanley Brothers, Tex Logan, the Blue Sky Boys, Mississippi John Hurt and others. Among the many faves: “Swing Low Sweet Chariot,” “Deep Elem Blues,” “Oh, the Wind and Rain,” “Spike Driver Blues,” “Gone Home,” “Standin’ on the Corner (Blue Yodel #9),” “I’m Troubled,” “Ripple,” and six others.

That’s great news, of course, but are you aware of the fact that many years ago, with Garcia’s blessing, Sandy Rothman assembled a second disc of 14 other tunes plucked from the group’s Broadway run and subsequent shows at the Wiltern? Why it never came out is mysterious, but now, with some additional recent tweaking by Sandy, comes Ragged But Right a warm and wonderful companion disc that will slide comfortably in your CD rack next to Almost Acoustic. Songs include: “Ragged But Right,” “Short Life of Trouble,” “I Ain’t Never,” “Trouble in Mind,” “Drifting With the Tide,” “Rosa Lee McFall,” “Two Soldiers,” “If I Lose,” “Bright Morning Star,” “Goodnight Irene,” “It’s A Long, Long Way to the Top of the World,” “Drifting Too Far From the Shore” and “Turtle Dove.” The harmonies soar, the playing is impeccable—man, that was a good band!

These two fine Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band releases — Almost Acoustic and Ragged But Right - can be purchased individually or together in an exclusive Dead.net bundle - JGAB: Complete Repertoire - that includes a fascinating 3,000 word historical essay about Garcia’s love of string band music and the JGAB written by Steve Silberman. For more information, you know the drill: click here!

Comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Offline
Joined: Nov 1 2010
HDCD

Yes, these releases are HDCD...

scott1129's picture
Offline
Joined: Jun 6 2007
Ragged But Right Part 2

Thanks to marye for the response to our little inquiries re: the current JGAB releases.
Kudos to the post about just the song timings as these would provide some light on the performance dates of the material offered.
Having attended the Warfield shows 11/27, 28, 29/1987, I can attest to the power of these performances. Stunning versions of JGB classics after an acoustic treat to beat all others at that point in time (remember Jer was just back from a 3 month coma only 12 months earlier) we were in heaven. So if these are alternate versions of the songs already released then yeah sign me up.

The Sky Was Yellow And The Sun Was Blue
People Stopping Strangers Just To Shake Their Hand.

Offline
Joined: Apr 23 2009
Remaster?

If it's remastered or just re-released it'll be better than the original...when it comes to acoustic stuff it's like 2 notches better than the rest since there's not a whole lot of it...enough but not a whole lot of stuff...plus you already have the 1st one so you know it's good...i'm sure there's someone you can turn on to this music if you don't know what to do with the old one...i hope they send it out this year...i still haven't gone through the pizza tapes all 4 discs

Len
Len's picture
Offline
Joined: Jun 13 2007
even if no dates...

... are available to share with us, could we have the song timings please as that will at least shed some light on the possibility of overlap.... Forever grateful [sic]

Offline
Joined: Feb 2 2010
Yes--dates, please

I know I've been holding off on the acoustic order since noticing the major overlap between 'Ragged' and Pure Jerry 2 & 3. Knowing that the 'Ragged' versions are unique to that release would certainly pique my interest in the release!
Thanks!

Len
Len's picture
Offline
Joined: Jun 13 2007
Thanks Marye

your help is appreciated and your feedback anticipated

marye's picture
Offline
Joined: May 26 2007
I've asked about this

and when I hear anything definitive I'll let you know!

Len
Len's picture
Offline
Joined: Jun 13 2007
The Lunt Fontanne material

The dominant thread here seems to be whether any (and if so, how much) of the Lunt Fontanne material from Pure Jerry 2 & 3 is duplicated on Ragged But Right (duplicated in the sense of being from the exact same shows). This continuing ambiguity is likely to impact on sales of Ragged, so surely it is in everyone's interest to release the exact sources of the songs on Ragged. We know the exact dates of all the songs on Pure Jerry 2 & 3 so please do the same for the songs on Ragged.

Offline
Joined: Jun 7 2007
Surely some overlap

I checked and I'm pretty sure every acoustic song on Pure Jerry 2 and 3 is on Almost Acoustic and Ragged But Right (and vice versa). That's not to say the same performances are but the same songs are. There must be some overlap, unless the producer of Pure Jerry 2 and 3 deliberately avoided anything on Almost Acoustic and previously selected fro Ragged But Right.

It would be really great to get some dates for the performances...

Len
Len's picture
Offline
Joined: Jun 13 2007
sources please

I am very excited about this release, but please can we know the sources of the songs on Ragged, given the existence of the acoustic material on Pure Jerry Volumes 2 and 3

Comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.