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 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!


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mp51's picture
Joined: Sep 19 2007

I too was curious about the cross over. but the other thing i was wondering is if both these are HDCD. if they are i didnt read it. the interesting thing also is that of the pure jerry's i have (which isnt all of them) all are HDCD except the lunt 4 cd set. i dont have the best of, so i'm unsure if thats HDCD, but i bet not, but i want it, esp for the acoustic stuff. i'm way into that, and want to thank all who choose to keep making those events available to us...

marye's picture
Joined: May 26 2007
thanks to all

who pointed out the invisibility of this topic. We think this is now fixed...

As for the question, I dunno but I expect Blair will be along with the true word soon.

KRIYAS's picture
Joined: Jun 18 2007

I'm wondering the same thing about that release. Other than the last 3 tracks which have to be different, Turtle Dove alone from the listening party almost makes this worth it. But I have the Almost Acoustic (pretty sure it was my first Jerry music, that or the live Old and in the Way)and the Lunt Font. stuff and all the other tracks are the same from the other Lunt releases. But are they from different nights and thus different recordings is the real question? Any clarification from people, Blairj??? Cool cool thank you...

Joined: Jun 7 2007
About time...

...for another JG release. Does anyone know if there's much overlap between this and the two Lunt-Fontanne Pure Jerry releases?

PS. I think the reason hardly anyone is leaving comments here is because the home page links directly to the ordering page and not to here. Perhaps if you fix the link you'll get more traffic to this page...

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

This is a cool release, however, I can only notice the lack of dates concerning the recordings of these versions of the JGAB songbook from Fall '87, since there is already an outstanding, nay OUTSTANDING release on the PureJerry label of the 10/31/87 New York shows (all FOUR (4) sets) plus a 3-disc of the other songs not performed on Halloween which includes the JGB as well as the JGAB. So if these are different recordings, as I would expect from Sandy, we would be most grateful for the heads-up.

Thanks and keep the hits comin'

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

cactuswax's picture
Joined: Jun 7 2007
You know how we heads are about this stuff...

This is great and I can't wait to hear it, but I'm bummed about one thing:
The extra essay goodie is only available when you buy both? But what's a person to do when they already have Almost Acoustic? I suppose the answer is "suck it up"....

Gr8fulTed's picture
Joined: Jul 9 2007
cool beans!

Thanks for the offering: The price on Amazon for the Almost Acoustic cd is out of this world!
Looking forward to new tunes to carve roasted turkey by.

hippyjameZ's picture
Joined: May 4 2008
Track List

The Track list for Almost Acoustic doesn't show all the songs.

Maybe the box about the split shipments cuts it off - but to the best of my knowledge - there was a Gone Home and a Ripple to close the original.

I'm sure its still there - just wanted to point this out to someone for correction.

One of my favorites!!! Can't wait to hear this remastered along w/ the Ragged But Right release...

Looks like Santa is going to come early!! Yeehaw!~


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