Jerry Garcia Band
Pure Jerry 6: Warner Theatre - Washington, D.C.
[March 18, 1978]
First Appeared in The Music Box, September 2005, Volume 12, #9
Written by John Metzger
In the summer of 1977, while percussionist Mickey Hart was recovering from an automobile accident, Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia began to immerse himself more fully in gospel music, and his growing passion for the genre undoubtedly guided him in the creation of what he considered to be his finest solo endeavor Cats under the Stars. The following spring, in support of the effort, he took a revamped rendition of his eponymous outfit on a tour of Americaís east coast, which culminated in a pair of performances held at Washington D.C.ís Warner Theatre on March 18, 1978. Reproduced in their entirety on the sixth installment of the rapidly expanding Pure Jerry series, the concerts found Garcia energetically rummaging through numerous staples from his repertoire while also unveiling the spiritual core that long had lurked beneath the surface of his work. This is most apparent during the late show, which, crossing into the early hours of Palm Sunday, featured renditions of his Biblical tale Gomorrah as well as an exalted cover of Dorothy Love Coatesí Iíll Be with Thee. Nevertheless, the mellifluous backing vocals of Donna Jean Godchaux and Maria Muldaur lent an ecclesiastical air to a majority of the material.
Although there were moments during the concerts at the Warner Theatre when the ensemble struggled to find direction ó the most notable of these occurred during the opening interpretation of Smokey Robinsonís I Second That Emotion, which seriously lacked the fiery enthusiasm that frequently propelled the song ó the Jerry Garcia Band largely delivered a sturdy pair of sets. Despite the replacement of drummer Ron Tutt with relatively unknown percussionist Buzz Buchanan, the rhythm section was remarkably tight as it whipped Mystery Train into a frenzy and settled into a cool, swinging groove for They Love Each Other.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Pure Jerry, Volume 6: Warner Theatre ó March 18, 1978, however, is the manner in which it thoroughly highlights Garciaís relationship with pianist Keith Godchaux. Indeed, within the open terrain of the Jerry Garcia Bandís sonic structure, the duo had an abundance of opportunity to interact, and in employing the intuition of musicians who were extraordinarily fluent in jazz, they frequently spurred one another into carrying the music to new heights. Their delicate interplay splendidly upheld the reggae-tinted lilt of Knockiní on Heavenís Door as much as it drove the deep and funky soul of Thatís What Love Will Make You Do. Elsewhere, they kept The Harder They Come aloft by feeding its jaunty refrains with interludes of aqueous guitar and springy keyboards, and they majestically (and quite suitably) captured all the sad-eyed yearning and heartache of Bob Dylanís Simple Twist of Fate. Although John Kahn got into the action, too ó poking his melodic bass runs through the underbelly of Mission in the Rain and anchoring the space-y exploration of Lonesome and a Long Way from Home, for example ó Pure Jerry, Volume 6: Warner Theatre ó March 18, 1978 is all about the intimate moments shared between Garcia and Godchaux.
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box