Live from Berkeley
First Appeared in The Music Box, July 2005, Volume 12, #7
Written by John Metzger
Every Wednesday evening at 8 pm, residents of the San Francisco Bay area are treated to David Gans’ Dead to the World, a more expansive variation of his syndicated radio program The Grateful Dead Hour. The show’s two-hour format gives Gans the room to explore a wider repertoire, and as a result, the array of guests who have made an appearance has ranged from Grateful Dead-compadre David Nelson to newgrass act Yonder Mountain String Band to singer-songwriter Bill Kirchen. Designed as a premium incentive for those who lend their financial support to public and community radio, Live from Berkeley assembles a diverse collection of material that was culled from a lengthy list of in-studio performances held over the course of the past five years. Although the collection never strays far from the realm of the Grateful Dead, it successfully demonstrates how wide-reaching the group’s impact has been.
Although all of the selections featured on Live from Berkeley — from the ebullient, country-tinged bounce of Joseph Langham’s Give Me a Ride to Wake the Dead’s fragile interpretation of Sugaree — are well-executed, the true highlights lurk unassumingly within its latter half. In particular, Railroad Earth traverses cosmic terrain during its sprawling rendition of Seven Story Mountain and the sweet, soul-pop of Jemimah Puddleduck’s Memphis Radio is positively sublime. Indeed, none of the artists who are highlighted on Live from Berkeley are likely to find much space within the generic structure of mainstream broadcasting, and not surprisingly, the organic essence that separates art from commerce is exuded time and again throughout the collection.
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box