THOUGHTS ON GARCIA: DON'T LET GO

JEFF AUSTIN :: YONDER MOUNTAIN STRING BAND


Jeff Austin by Robert Massie
1) How would you say the music of Jerry Garcia and/or the man himself has influenced your music, your craft, and/or your life path?

The extent of Garcia's influence on my music and life are almost too far reaching to tell in a short amount of time. When I would watch him play and sing, he always gave me such hope...he showed that you could get up on stage night after night, and even if your voice was tired, your body had nothing left, if you just let that spirit grab you and TRUST IT (these being the key two words), amazing things can happen. Suddenly, your voice is gold, your hands feel like two math geniuses at work. Also, the way that he let the fans help him along through his career was amazing...he really loved us all, and his music and ENERGY showed it. It makes you realize that you are not alone up there. I'd rather watch him play everyday than any of the "virtuoso musicians" that are out there today. Just show me something real...and he did.

2) What is your fondest memory of Jerry Garcia?

I would have to say that I have three. The first being in 1987, when I was in sixth grade - I was your typical dork...Bob Dylan on my headphones as I headed to choir class, trying not to get beat up. My mom asked me if I wanted to go see something really, really cool...something she thought I would like. She drove me and an older friend of the family - who has also since passed - to the UIC Pavilion in Chicago (I lived in the suburbs) and let us go to the show. She didn't come with us...she always told me she had already experienced it and didn't want her memories of it to be changed if the scene had changed as much as she had heard it had. What a great gift to give to your son. They killed, and the next year I had the second best experience at the Rosemont Horizon, also in Chicago. Opening the first set with "Scarlet" > "Fire," "Louie, Louie" > "Cumberland Blues..." it was too much. The last one I have to mention is Richfield Coliseum in Ohio 3.21.94. It was the greatest Jerry I ever saw out of 98 shows. He commanded the evening...taking over "Bobby's Greatest Story" with "Bertha"...and the most moving "Stella Blue" you have ever seen. I swear he was crying...I know I was. He never left the stage that evening, played straight through "Drums" and into "Space." God, what memories.

3) What would you say is the most significant thing Jerry has given the world?

I think the greatest thing he has given us is that if you truly love what you do, and embrace the gifts you have been given, it will carry you through hell and high water. People will look at you with love and admiration because of the chances you take. Give you all the energy you could ever need to get you past those lowest of life's moments. That's all anyone could ask for in life. Also, in a weird kind of way, he gave us all a great gift with his passing...look at all of the bands that he inspired that are now traveling, making livings, and inspiring other people all over that he or the Dead may have never reached with their music. It just shows how far one mans spirit can go...weather he's with us or not.

JamBase | San Francisco
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