THOUGHTS ON GARCIA: DON'T LET GO

JOHN KADLECIK :: DARK STAR ORCHESTRA (GUITAR/VOCALS)


John Kadlecik :: DSO by Weiand
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?

What a huge question. Musically, I can honestly say that I learned how to improvise in major scales from listening to Jerry. At the point in my life when I got turned on to the music of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead I had studied classical violin for nine years, taught myself guitar for three years to learn about improvisation, and was beginning to get into jazz, Zen Buddhism, and psychedelics. Jerry's music rolled all that together into an amazing bridge between rock and jazz. And while one might normally think of a bridge as just a way to get from point A to point B, the people I met going back and forth across that bridge, the view from the bridge, and the great perpetual party happening there made me want to hang a while... a long while. And from the stories I read about Jerry Garcia, the man, what resonated deepest with me is the notion of consciousness-at-large, that when brainstorming for a solution to a problem in a group situation, the best solution can come from any of the participants. Whether that problem is a business logistics issue, how to create a great jam, or just how to have a good time, everyone in a group that is plugging in their creative energy has the potential to become the focus point of the collective energies and manifest the best solution. And while the boardroom and recording studio make obvious examples, I think by far the best is the concert hall, where the entire audience can "plug in" their creative juices with the band and sound and light crews to brew up the best possible time for all involved. And who out there, at one Dead show or another, hasn't had the experience of going to a show with some unresolved personal issue, danced their butt off for 3 1/2 hours, and come away with the perfect answer to their problem?

2. What is your fondest memory of Jerry Garcia?

Regrettably, I never got to meet Jerry Garcia in person, so I feel I should only write from personal concert experiences. With that said, I can still only narrow down my fondest memories of Jerry to two: "What a Wonderful World" from November 24, 1991 Jerry Garcia Band performance in Minneapolis, and the first set "Standing on the Moon" from a March 21, 1990 Grateful Dead performance in Hamilton, Ontario.

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

I would say the most significant thing Jerry has given the world is a thirty year body of musical work that unifies the "high art" music of classical, neo-classical, and jazz with the "street" music of American blues, folk, and bluegrass, in the context of the modern rock dance-concert-as-archaic-revival. I would include both the songwriting/studio recording aspect and the live concert experience as two equally important sides of that work. Furthermore, collaboration seemed to be a hallmark of Jerry's efforts on both halves of this musical equation. With lyricist Robert Hunter, Jerry's songwriting achieved a perfect marriage of storytelling and melody, chord changes and archetypal literary imagery, poetry and soundscape. In the Grateful Dead he co-created a musical style that is as distinct from the rest of rock music as bluegrass is from the rest of folk music. Jerry and Bob Weir crafted some of the finest examples of how two electric guitars can work together; with Phil Lesh he worked out an incredible way for two superb melodicists to create simultaneously. Even all of Jerry's side projects, including his own namesake band, featured other singers, songwriters, and soloists. I personally think that the full impact of Jerry Garcia's musical legacy has yet to be felt by society, that it will be a touchstone for artists, musicians, and counterculture types for decades or even centuries to come, and that history will ultimately regard his work as a high water mark for mankind in the twentieth century.

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