Jerry Garcia: The complete 1985 interview

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Jerry Garcia: The complete 1985 interview

New postby DougD » Wed Apr 18, 2012 8:43 pm

Were you a fan of the bluegrass masters?

[Tentatively] Yeah, uh, but bluegrass for me is band music, and I’m a fan of bands more than I am a fan of musicians. The musicians I like sounded best in a certain context – to my ears. So my favorites are certain bands, you know, certain vintage bands. That’s the way I think of bluegrass music. I am much more attached to that side of it than I am to individual players, because there are so many good players in bluegrass. But not all bluegrass bands are good.

What are your favorite bands?

I think one of my all-time favorite bands was Bill Monroe’s bluegrass band when he had Bill Keith playing banjo and Kenny Baker playing fiddle – I guess that must have been right around ’64. ’63, ’64 – somewhere around there. That was a great band. And Del McCoury playing acoustic guitar and singing. That was a great band, really a sensational band.

You saw that band?

Oh, yeah. A bunch of times. And the classic Reno & Smiley band, with Mac Magaha playing fiddle. Also, the original Bill Monroe band with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. Also, the classic Lester Flatt-Earl Scruggs and Foggy Mountain Boys band – that was a great band. I loved Jim & Jesse when that had either Jimmy Buchanan or Vassar [Clements] and the two great banjo players they had at the same time – what’s his name? It’s been such a long time with banjo players. They had two real great banjo players back in the old days. They both had the same big, square-style sound. They both had rhythmically a real symmetrical style. It’s hard to describe, but it’s that era, back when Vassar was playing with them or Jimmy Buchanan. Both about the same era. That was also in the early ’60s, right around there. They had a couple of really great bands in those moments back there. And also the Stanley Brothers. My favorite singers were the Stanley Brothers. Ralph Stanley was my all-time favorite singer, I think..

In the question below the interviewer is asking Garcia what the people who pay to see Garcia & John Kahn play acoustic shows are like. I wish the following could be said about those who come out to see Sheaffer & Skehan play . . .

What are your audiences like with the duo? Mostly Deadheads?

I imagine they are. I imagine they’re from Deadheads. But the audience is much more sensitive, I would say. We can get down to a whisper, and that place shuts up, man. I mean, nobody hollers nothin’. We can get it down to [gives a quiet whistle], where it’s really whispering, where the strings are just [quietly] ping, ping. Little tiny sounds are coming out, and the place is just [whistles quietly]. You can draw them down to absolute silence.

Jerry was a pretty funny guy...

What your favorite part of your business? Of everything you do, what do you enjoy the most?

I just love music. All of it – listening to it, playing. I mean, all of it. Everything about it, really. There’s really nothing about it I don’t like. Possibly interviews is the worst of it [laughs uproariously]. Well, that’s the most non-musical part, you know what I mean? [Laughs.] That’s the part that’s the strangest. Music is easy. Talking is not so easy. And it’s really something you have to learn. You learn how to bullshit, really. [Laughs.]

Are you concerned about what you’ll be remembered as?

God, no. I hope people don’t remember me beyond what’s necessary. Don’t hang anybody up by having to remember me too much – that’s what I would hope. It’s like, remembering is dangerous.

How would you like to be remembered as a musician?

As a pretty okay musician. I don’t know. I don’t really expect to be remembered – that’s way ahead of me. I’m still trying to just get good. If I get good, then I might say I hope people remember how good I am. The idea of being remembered would be embarrassing to me at this point.

You’ve got a humble attitude.

If you were me you wouldn’t think so! [Laughs.]

For those who are interested, the full interview is here ... interview/
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