In the fall of 1987, Jerry Garcia (guitar/vocals) hit the Lunt Fontanne Theatre on the proverbial "Great White Way" for a series of 18 performances. The shows were additionally notable for the aggregate of musicians whom the guitarist gathered under the moniker of the Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band. The sextet included David Nelson (guitar/vocals), ...
In the fall of 1987, Jerry Garcia (guitar/vocals) hit the Lunt Fontanne Theatre on the proverbial "Great White Way" for a series of 18 performances. The shows were additionally notable for the aggregate of musicians whom the guitarist gathered under the moniker of the Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band. The sextet included David Nelson (guitar/vocals), with whom Garcia had shared many a stage as a member of the pre-Grateful DeadWildwood Boys, and again in 1969 as founding members of New Riders of the Purple Sage. Another longtime acquaintance was Sandy Rothman (mandolin/dobro/vocals), who crossed paths with Garcia in the early '60s as well as during a short-lived pairing as the Black Mountain Boys. While his association had lasted less than two decades, John Kahn (acoustic bass) had also been involved with Garcia as his solo bassist and primary non-Dead collaborator. David Kemper (snare drum) had been working as the drummer for the Jerry Garcia Band since the summer of 1983, when he inherited the position from former Sly & the Family Stone and Santana percussionist Greg Errico. The most recent addition to Garcia's band is Kenny Kosek (fiddle), who is perhaps best-known for his studio work with artists as far afield as Rory Block and Laurie Anderson. As a cohesive unit, this band provides a comfortable backdrop for Garcia to wind through a selection of traditional favorites ("I'm Troubled"), bluegrass ("Girl at the Crossroads Bar"), folk ("Casey Jones") [note: this should not be confused with the Grateful Dead song of the same name], and blues ("Spike Driver Blues") covers. Keen-eyed Deadheads will undoubtedly notice several tunes that the band had worked up during their various "unplugged" outings. Among them are "Deep Elem Blues," "I've Been All Around This World," "Oh, Babe, It Ain't No Lie," and the sole Garcia and Robert Hunter inclusion, "Ripple." As opposed to Garcia's electric fretwork -- which had seemingly been steadily deteriorating since the late '70s -- there is a sparkle and eternally youthful sound to his playing here. When coupled with his ragged but right vocals, the effect reveals the guitarist's organic infatuation with this music. Both the structured melodic lines as well as freewheeling solos hold his attention with a craftsman-like singularity and focus. Sadly, Almost Acoustic was the only release from this combo to have been issued prior to Garcia's death in 1995. It is highly recommended for all enthusiasts of "wooden music" and is a brilliant insight into Jerry Garcia's uncanny abilities as a guitarist of remarkable breadth. ~ Lindsay Planer, Rovi