Live At Shoreline

Jerry Garcia Band

The commemorate the 10th Anniversary of Jerry Garcia’s passing, two gems outside of the immediate Grateful Dead circle have been dusted off and pristinely polished for public consumption: The Live At Shoreline DVD from the Jerry Garcia Band and the two-CD The Jerry Garcia Collection, Vol. 1: Legion of Mary set featuring superb performances from Garcia’s short-lived, funkified band from the mid-70s. Although a steady stream of Garcia goodies in the form of the Pure Jerry Series is available through the official Jerry Garcia Web site, Rhino has taken over the distribution and promotion of these two releases in a staunch and gallant effort to quench fans’ voracious appetite for all things dead.

Live at Shoreline is the first DVD release of a Jerry Garcia Band show, filmed on September 1, 1990, at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California. The gig holds a special place in GD lore as the Dead were originally scheduled to play at Shoreline that night, but the show was cancelled due to the unfortunate passing of keyboardist Brent Mydland. Whether for self-preservation or general healing, Garcia pulled up his bootstraps, assembled members of his beloved Jerry Garcia Band, and stepped in as a last minute replacement. It’s doubtful there was much protest from the Deadheads in attendance.

The DVD is a spiraling showcase of improvisation jamming aligned with careful craftsmanship, devotion to the material, and a stellar group of musicians who succinctly follow Garcia’s commanding, beatific guitar work. A lot of the Dead doodling is put aside as bassist John Kahn and drummer David Kemper pump out a galloping rhythm for Garcia and keyboardist Melvin Seals to squarely trollop upon — riffing, jabbing, and exchanging subtle grins of satisfaction all the while. Like cherries on top, the angelic voices of Gloria Jones and Jaclyn LaBranch capably give the music a soulful and gospel feel. From Lennon and McCartney’s “Dear Prudence” to Smokey Robinson’s “I Second That Emotion ” to Van Morrison’s “And It Stoned Me,” Garcia and company had a way of making each and every number instinctively their own. Even so, sally over to the setlist menu and a remote click on any song produces a short documentary on its origins.

Elsewhere on the DVD, Robert Hunter, Garcia’s longtime lyricist, calmly reminisces about the good old days, while a round-table session with surviving JGB members is insightful at times, yet tends to drag on for longer than necessary. However, one point of curious interest that was brought by all parties was the role of John Kahn, Garcia’s partner in crime who died less than year after Garcia from an apparent drug overdose. No doubt this disc is as much of tribute to him as it is to the legendary Captain Trips.

~ Shawn Perry

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