See a Photo Gallery of Jay's Work!
For all fans of the Grateful Dead that would love a glimpse of the past, you'll want this book. Between the Dark and Light: The Grateful Dead Photography of Jay Blakesberg, is a journey through time with the band and its family as they evolved throughout the years. It is a wonderful photographic essay of a time many of us remember so fondly.
Jay Blakesberg saw his first Grateful Dead show in Englishtown, NJ in 1977 (which featured the "best 'He's Gone->Not Fade Away' EVER," according to Jay. "Listen to it at full volume."). That got him hooked. On Labor Day in 1978, he brought his father's Pentax to Giants Stadium and took his first photos of the Dead. Two months later, at the legendary Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ, Jay made his first serious attempt to shoot the band. And as a 16-year-old kid from New Jersey, he didn't stop here; he hit the road. Planes, trains and automobiles (although mostly the latter two) took Jay around the country, following the Dead and building on what would become a focal point of his life: music. And with that stuck photography. Jay loaded and developed film in his basement. Most of his early work is black & white, because he "couldn't afford color film" when he was young. And since that time, he has always had an affinity for black & white photography. While he definitely graduated to shooting more with color film as his career developed, you will see a good mix within this book.
Jay was a Deadhead and working for Relix and Rolling Stone in the late 80s and early 90s. It was an exciting time in music. He moved from Olympia, WA to San Francisco in 1985 and it was in 1987 that Jay got his first gig with the band. The Dead were working on the "Throwing Stones" video in Oakland, and Jay caught wind of this and "happened" upon the shoot and got involved. From then on, he was on the inside with the band and continued to shoot them professionally. And he did so in venues throughout California and the USA, his favorites (for shooting) being Henry J. Kaiser Auditorium in Oakland and Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View (the latter because the low stage allowed for great photo opportunities).
Jay's early influences in photography were Jim Marshall, Herb Greene & Baron Wolman. The work of these men helped guide him down the path on which he has remained ever since. From studying their work, Jay has developed a style all his own, a style that makes this book very special.
Jay Blakesberg has seen the Dead from every angle. First as a fan on tour, and then as an industry insider, he gives us a two-sided perspective of the Grateful Dead, its fans, and the extended family. He was able to capture the feeling of the band, from their onstage presence to the confines of the backstage. Nothing is left out here; you will see shots of the band members, the crew, and the Heads that followed the Dead everywhere. The numerous guests that graced the stage over the years are represented by Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Carlos Santana, Robert Hunter, John Belushi, John Cippolina, Joan Baez, to name a few. And the people that made so many of these shows happen: Bill Graham the Barsottis. All of these people put together helped make the Grateful Dead what they were and are to all of the people who ever experienced them. You can look through the pages and reminisce about your own days with the Dead. This is as an essential factor, because it was not just the music that made the Grateful Dead so special; it was also the people that came out to each and every show. This book is not just about seeing the band on stage, it is about the entirety of the experience of the Grateful Dead.
Jay also addresses all of the offshoot bands led by the individual members of the band; the Jerry Garcia Band, Phil Lesh & Friends, Ratdog, The Other Ones, and Mickey Hart and Planet Drum. You will find in the final few pages, photographs of all the incarnations of Phil & Friends.
What Jay does that is different from other photography books is that he doesn't just have one shot per page; he opts for a sequence. This book is photography as an art form. Not to imply that other photography books are not art, it's simply that Jay takes it a step further to allow the images to tell a story. It is not just that one shot. Each page tells a little tale of that night, that show, that song. There are sometimes three, four, five, and more photos on each page. "I wanted it to look like it looks," says Blakesberg. The outtakes are what make these pages complete. It is "more than just 'the shot,'" he explained. These other shots, "tell more of the story." The before and after photos show the reader what it was really like. And they allow you to become part of what was happening. Jay brings you up close and personal. He allows you to see the band as real people. Shots of the boys goofing around backstage with Bill Graham, Jerry and Carlos sharing a laugh in the dressing room; they're priceless moments.
Mixed in with the photographs are brief tales of where they were shot, what was happening, what Jay was seeing, and so on. Dead bassist, Phil Lesh provides the forward to the book and Blair Jackson, J.C. Juanis, and Jon Sievert have contributed essays about Jay and this era in the history of the Grateful Dead.
The book started out with Jay and 20,000 images. From there it was edited to 2000, and then eventually to the 900+ photos and 208 pages that make up, Between the Dark and Light. Most of the photographs have never before been published. It is Jay's first book; he has been published in many, as well as in many magazines. We can hope this isn't his last. Jay would like to do a book on his experiences with the entire world of music; similar to Between the Dark and Light, in its look and feel, but not focusing on any particular artist.
In the absence of the Grateful Dead, Jay continues to take live shots and do portraits of musicians for magazines, record companies, and artists, with Phish, Neil Young, String Cheese Incident, Barenaked Ladies, Les Claypool, Smashmouth, and Sammy Hagar among his favorites to shoot live.
You can catch Jay on tour to promote the book. The tour kicks off with the launch on Thursday, October 3rd at ArtRock in San Francisco. He will be visiting cities nationwide, exhibiting some of his art and signing books. For a special evening, anyone in Seattle on October 22nd can see Jay at the Experience Music Project (EMP), where he will be giving a PowerPoint in the theatre, highlighting this book as well as his other work.
Complete Tour Dates:
Oct 3 ArtRock - San Francisco
Oct 4 Booksmith - San Francisco
Oct 9 Chelsea Barnes & Noble - New York, NY
Oct 10 Borders Lincoln Park - Chicago, IL
Oct 11 Boulder Book Store - Boulder, CO
Oct 12 Walnut Street Gallery - Ft. Collins, CO
Oct 22 Experience Music Project - Seattle, WA
Oct 23 Olympia State College - Olympia, WA
Oct 23 Annie Bloom's Bookstore - Portland, OR
Oct 24 University of Oregon Bookstore - Eugene, OR
Nov 14 Copperfield's - Sebastopol, CA
Nov 20 Black Oak Books - Berkeley, CA
Nov 23 Book Passage - Corte Madera, CA
Dec 03 Dimitroff's Gallery - Mill Valley, CA
The old adage goes, "there's nothing like a Grateful Dead show."
This is very true, but at the very least, Between the Dark and Light
allows you to re-live some of those moments. It freezes them in time for
us all to enjoy.
As Jay put it, "we were having fun."
See a Photo Gallery of Jay's Work!
Go See Live Music!