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?
Fierro, Kahn, Garcia
He influenced me in the folk department of playing as I was coming from the jazz background. He got me into more of the middle of the road type of music - so obscure and beautiful. Where is he coming up with all of this material? The songs he sang were so earthy and beautiful. I never met anyone with that type of approach to music. He wasn't technical but down to earth and soulful.
He was a musical historian too – he knew so many old songs, stuff that was totally outrageous. Traditional music from a hundred years ago and old Irish songs. I wasn't into that before; I was strictly a jazz and rock & roll guy. Jerry opened a whole universe to me.
2. What is your fondest memory of Jerry Garcia?
The first time I met Jerry: When I came to San Francisco in 1968 I was playing with conga players in Golden Gate Park and this scrappy looking guy showed up and he said, "Hey what's your name?" I said "Martin Fiero" he said "You new in town?" I said yeah "I'm from El Paso, Texas" he said "You want to come play with us tonight? My name is Jerry Garcia we're playing down at the Matrix tonight with John Kahn, Howard Wales and Bill Vitt."
I had no idea who he was – he was just another nice person inviting me to play a gig. It turned out to be one of the most incredible experiences of my entire life, of my entire career. He came and introduced himself to me. I was brand new in town – having a person like that invite me to a gig – WOW! I didn't know it at the time; it was just an invitation to sit in at a gig.
We were friends for both of our entire lives. To me it's always meant a lot that he went out of his way to come and talk to me. Now I try to go out and find people in the world and pump spirituality and love and energy into their playing. Especially guys who are new in town. I go talk to them and hopefully give them a lot of strength. Tell them they'll do ok and go out there and do your thing and eventually the world will listen to you. That's what Jerry gave me – the ability to go out in the world and encourage and give people spiritual health so they can feel good about themselves.
3. What would you say is the most significant thing Jerry has given the world?
Himself. His hard work, his music, his love, his conviction. His crazy zany intellectual bullshit he always had. He gave everything he had to us.
Watching Jerry pour his heart and soul out to the audience, playing with so much love – he gave everything of himself to the people; just watching him perform – his humility was so disarming he was a totally soulful person. A lot of different Jerrys to a lot of different people – to me he was so loving. If it wasn't for Jerry I wouldn't be where I am today musically and artistically. I'm known throughout the world because of Jerry.
He took you to a place you'd never been to before. He touched a spot in your soul and your heart that nobody could ever do quite the same. That spot that cries and feels and sings beautiful stuff. He was a minstrel and he was a hell of a fucking guitar player.
JamBase | San Francisco
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