Jerry Garcia Band
Live at Shoreline
First Appeared in The Music Box, September 2005, Volume 12, #9
Written by John Metzger
Within the world of the Grateful Dead, one rule trumped all others: The show must go on. When Pigpen fell ill in 1971, the band quickly hired Keith Godchaux to carry it forward; in 1979, after Keith and his wife Donnaís personal problems began to weigh too heavily upon the group, they were replaced by Brent Mydland; and when Mydland died tragically from a drug overdose in July 1990, the ensemble kept most of its tour schedule intact by plunging forward with Vince Welnick. One of the shows that didnít survive in the wake of Mydlandís passing was a hometown event that was planned for September 1 at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California. Yet, even here, the Grateful Dead ó or, at least, a part of it ó persevered when Jerry Garciaís eponymous side-project not only fulfilled the obligation, but also brought along a film crew to document the proceedings. The result is the long overdue DVD Live at Shoreline, which features the entirety of the collectiveís touchingly heartfelt performance.
Throughout much of his career, Garcia was influenced heavily by gospel music, but this was never more apparent than when he was collaborating with keyboard player Melvin Seals in his long-running solo outfit. Not surprisingly, the convergence of the Jerry Garcia Bandís spiritual core with the loss of a close friend yielded an overwhelmingly emotional memorial service. This was most obvious, of course, within the selection of the songs that were sung ó the comforting embrace of How Sweet It Is to Be Loved by You; the tearful, but heavenly strains of Bob Dylanís I Shall Be Released; and the joyous refrains of My Sisters and Brothers, for example. Elsewhere, it was just a facial expression (the somberly reflective look on Garciaís face during And It Stoned Me) or a particularly poignant lyric (Stop That Trainís "All my good life, Iíve been a lonely man/Teachiní my people who donít understand/And even though I tried my best/I still canít find no happiness," seemed as well-suited to Mydlandís life as it did to Garciaís) that struck with soul-rattling resonance.
Although it is augmented with bonus material that includes a mini-documentary, interviews with lyricist Robert Hunter and the surviving members of the Jerry Garcia Band, song histories, and a photo gallery, Live at Shoreline is notable entirely because of the performance itself. Indeed, from the feverishly intense hellfire of Think to the rainbow-hued transcendence of Dear Prudence, Live at Shoreline glistens with the joy, the sorrow, the pain, and the comfort that spring forth from the heart of life itself.
Live at Shoreline is available
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box