Jerry Garcia Tribute
The first time I am backstage with the Jerry Garcia Band, I’m sitting at the main round table next to John Kahn, who is erudite and interesting, as we have a conversation and I listen to him talk about memories, reflections, and dreams. My eyes are on Jerry Garcia watching him carry on a half dozen lively conversations at the same time. He is astutely following each one and contributes brilliant observations, upbeat, with a good deal of humor. We love to hear him laugh. I finally capture his attention with my eyes and interject a question, "Have you seen the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind?" I ask him, not realizing he had a cameo in the film. He immediately replies, "I´m not answering anymore questions until we find out who you are." There is suddenly silence in the room. And I introduce myself.
"That improves things considerably," Jerry Garcia responds, lifting his eyebrows with a twinkle, and smiles, as the banter in the room resumes.
"Where do I stand spiritually?
Oh God!!! (with laughter)
Somewhere between Jesus and the devil."
by Uncle John
I am backstage one night after the show at Sophie´s in Palo Alto with the Jerry Garcia Band, and well into the morning, Jerry turns to me and asks me to play him a song. I pick up the Gibson SG; and Jerry Garcia, who knew that I write songs but am not a musician, said "Don´t plug it in, just play!" I play and sing a song I wrote, "Mystery Rivers", about the Garcia River in Mendocino county, California, & the Weir River in Hingham, Boston Harbor, Massachusetts.
When moondrops that come from remembering
You looking into my eyes
When you come around again
To sing like a bluebird flies
When I walk beside your footsteps
That come from heaven by the sea
Playing on the promised guitar
In the back hills and under the trees
Like the wedding in the river
And the love it brings
Telepathy on the ledge and bridge
And the light in your eyes when you sing
Somewhere in a California forest
Where a mystery river flows
There grows a magic mushroom
That knows what the birds know
Where the wind is going to go
Amazing true stories about Jerry Garcia excerpted from forthcoming book
Quest For Human Completion
LAST FLASH OF THE GRATEFUL DEAD
by Uncle John
to be published
- Walking With Jerry -
Midnight North Beach
It is just after Christmas that Jerry Garcia, musician Merl Saunders, & Creedence Clearwater Revival rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty, play a small jazz club, the Keystone Korner in San Francisco´s North Beach. Jerry and Tom Fogerty and I, are the last to leave the club, and right after he says goodnight to Tom, I ask Jerry Garcia, who is carrying his guitar, if I can talk to him, and he says "Yes, walk with me to my car." We are in the midnight hour of a new day.
We talk about plays, and the Grateful Dead ESP shows at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York.
It is a scene in a play that I first see Jerry Garcia play guitar. He would occasionally stand in as a guest guitarist for his old bandmate Tom Constanten whose play “Tarot” was performing in downtown New York City. A group of us student teachers from Bensalem College see the play together. It is the last act, and the scene is like no other, akin to a 4-D cinema where the audience are a participant in the experience of the presentation. It’s the climax of the play where the dead rise from the dead, and it’s an amazing scene when the stage opens and rises from the floor amid trumpets triumphant, fingers dancing on ivory keys, and this heavenly guitar sound!
This play inspires all of us, and when we return to the Lorillard House, where seven of the teachers lived, we decide we want to do our own play, based on the play we saw that night, and an extended group of us sat around a large table, smoking weed someone brought us from Michoacan, Mexico, and I am asked to write the play. All I did was write down what each person said in the character they chose to play. I put the play into Acts and Scenes, and wrote lyrics for the songs. We called ourselves the Lorillard Troupe. We call the play “In Search Of The Candlemaker”.
As soon as I mention the play, Jerry knew who I was. One of the teachers in our troupe, Sherry, who plays a part in our play, was a participant in the Grateful Dead ESP experiments. The play was a success. A CBS-TV executive at the play asked if our Troupe would do an interview for a documentary they were making. On the day before the night of the first ESP show, they did the interview in the Lorillard House, and it aired on CBS-TV the following month as “Tomorrow´s People”. It is the same day I move into the House, into Sherry´s room after she decides to move out. That night is my first night sleeping there, and Sherry slept at The Maimonides Dream Laboratory in Brooklyn, to participate in an ESP experiment with the Grateful Dead, who telepathically transmitted images to her while she slept.
That first Grateful Dead ESP show at the Capitol Theatre is my second Grateful Dead concert. It is Mickey Hart´s last show for that cycle of the band. The show is unbelievable and spectacular, where the band introduces five songs for the first time, “Bertha”, “Loser”, “The Greatest Story Ever Told”, “Wharf Rat” and “Playin´In The Band”, in preparation of doing a live album. I had an awakening in my body that night that started in my lower chakras, exploding like the roar of a thousand waterfalls, that instruct me to alternate my breathing, as I experience a rock moving up my spine that transforms me, and lit my solar plexus, that rises as a clear white light into my Third Eye and the crown of my head. It illuminates my body and lights up the entire theatre, and I can see everything and everyone like bright daylight. It is an experience like no other, mystical and spiritual, especially through “Truckin´” when I realize the show is still in a dark room for everyone else. “I felt the very real presence of Jesus Christ in that room,” I tell Jerry.
“That´s entirely possible!” Jerry says to me, smiling, as we reach his car. “Are you coming to our New Year´s Eve show? It´s going to be a scene!” he says, chuckling.
- Mystery Rivers -
- Walking With Jerry -
- Jerry´s Eyes -
- Sing Me Back Home -
- Garcia´s Voice In The Sky -
- "I ain´t often right, but I never been wrong" -
- Dreaming With Jerry -
Billy Strings with Bob Weir
My wife and I are at The Keystone in Berkeley to see and hear the Jerry Garcia Band on Valentine´s night. Backstage, I drink tequila for the first time, and follow that with shots of whiskey. I am extremely inebriated, crazy drunk. I am not a hard drinker, and when I blacked out, I was in a coma-like state. I don´t know how long I layed on the floor there, or realize when I awoke that everyone had left except for Jerry Garcia, his girl and my gal. I kept my eyes closed for a long time. All I can hear is Jerry singing old Gospel songs. I didn´t realize, with my eyes closed, that he is picking his electric guitar like it was an acoustic. I didn´t want to open my eyes and have him stop. All I could remember then is a dream about death, and I wasn't sure if I was dead in Heaven or hearing Jerry live.
There was no hangover. I was in a state of bliss, feeling great peace, and tremendous love listening to the voice of Jerry Garcia singing his heart for the Lord. I had dreamed that I died, and wasn´t fully awake yet with the opening of my eyes. I remembered where I was, but I could only hear Jerry´s voice. The moment I open my eyes Jerry stops singing and starts laughing. It is the loudest laugh I ever heard. He put away his guitar and throws something to me. It is a bag of purple mushrooms! "From South America", Jerry shares with a smile.
- Immortality -
Jerry Garcia Band
“This world is not our home
We're only passing through
Our trail is all made up
Way beyond the blue
Let us do the very best that we can
While we're travelin' through this land
We can all be together, shakin' a hand
When we make it to the promised land
Let us walk together, little children
We don't ever have to worry
Through this world of trouble
We gotta love one another
Let us take our fellow man by the hand
Try to help him to understand
We can all be together, forever and ever
When we make it to the promised land”