Reflections: Jerry Garcia’s Life and Legacy (Jimmy Herring, Henry Rollins, Aaron Maxwell, Papa Mali)
PAPA MALI (7 WALKERS)
I became aware of the Grateful Dead at the age of ten. I was already a little rock and roll kid – a mod dressing, guitar playing, record collecting, long haired (well, as long as I could get away with in conservative Shreveport) 5th grader – and when I saw a 1967 CBS News special on Haight Ashbury, hippies, LSD and The Grateful Dead, I knew that I wanted to be a part of it. The next day I told my cub scout den mother that when I grew up I wanted to move to San Francisco and become a hippie. We both knew right then that maybe I wasn’t cut out for scouting.
This turned out to be prophetic, though I wouldn’t realize it for years to come.
By the time I turned 16 it was now 1973 and I was a high schooler, getting pretty good on guitar and playing with anybody who had the same love of blues and roots music that I had developed. I was also steeped in the music of the Dead, but they didn’t tour much in the South and tape trading was not really happening yet in Louisiana – albums were all that was available to me and my small group of mostly college-aged friends. Nevertheless, we were buying up everything related to the Grateful Dead scene and having parties every weekend, where we’d trip on acid or mushrooms, play all the releases on vinyl by the Dead and try to recreate the total west coast psychedelic experience.
I was now reading books by Aldous Huxley and Carlos Casteneda as well as Timothy Leary and Ken Kesey. One book I read with great interest soon after it’s release was ‘Garcia’, a lengthy interview with Jerry published by Straight Arrow (Rolling Stone). As a young musician, it really gave me great insight that has guided me in the right direction all my life – about how not to fall into the ego trap and how to respect your fans.
Jerry’s first solo album came out around that same time and to this day it is one of my all time favorites. It wasn’t until many years later that I learned (from Billy) that this record was just Jerry and Billy in the studio, playing all the tracks and Hunter also in the studio, writing lyrics to the music as they were making it! Of course many of these classic songs became some of the most enduring and well-loved staples in the Grateful Dead’s live shows.
As my own musical path took on a life of it’s own and as I got older I never followed the Dead to the extent of ‘going on tour’ ( I had my own gigs to play) or building my lifestyle around them. Yet, I kept track of what they were doing and managed to catch a few shows over the years. And I always understood that they were unique and had changed the world somehow into a better place, by creating a large and ever expanding musical and spiritual family.
The fact that a few short years ago Bill and I met so randomly, became instant friends and began playing music together still blows my mind. The fact that these events has led to us forming a band, 7 Walkers and to me being a song writing partner with Robert Hunter is perhaps even more incredible! But as humbling as it all is, it works. Why? Perhaps it is because I am constantly aware of one simple fact: There is only one Jerry Garcia. Jerry’s own philosophy (which I had read so many years ago in his book) was simple and straightforward – no matter who you are, no matter what you do, do it well and take pride in it. In other words, I may get the incredible honor of playing and singing his songs with his beloved friend and drummer, Bill Kreutzmann. I may get to write songs with Hunter, one of the greatest literary figures of all time. But there is only one Jerry Garcia, and his style and shining spirit can be emulated – but never imitated or copied.
God bless Jerry Garcia and The Grateful Dead. May their music and their spirit live on forever and ever.
In honor of Umphrey’s McGee’s return to Summer Camp this weekend, we present the group’s Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger performing this version of “The Pequod” from UM’s Anchor Drops.
Dame shares a song from her new EP Preventions of Heartbreak.
Golden Bloom stopped by Relix to perform a tune from their latest EP No Day Like Today.
The Chapin Sisters share an tune from their new album A Date With the Everly Brothers.
Minneapolis-based Night Moves share a song from their record, Colored Emotions, live at Relix.
Cloud Cult share a song from their latest album live at Relix.
The Giving Tree Band enjoy a spring day on the Relix rooftop, while performing a classic Grateful Dead tune.
Canadian singer-songwriter Hayden performs a duet with his sister-in-law Lou Canon. The song appears on Us Alone his first record on Broken Social Scene’s Arts & Crafts Productions.
The Milk Carton Kids share the first song from their new album, The Ash & Clay.
Here is the new video from Serbian guitar ace Ana Popovic. “Object Of Obsession” appears on her latest album Can You Stand The Heat.
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