Jerry Garcia / Jerry Garcia Band

Pure Jerry: Lunt-Fontanne, NYC, 10/31/87

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At the height of the Grateful Dead's public fame and success with 1987's In the Dark, Jerry Garcia decided to develop the criminally short-lived Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band with John Kahn (bass), David Nelson (guitar/vocals), Sandy Rothman (mandolin/vocals), Kenny Kosek (fiddle), and David Kemper (drums). The formation of the combo centered on a two-week stint at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, on the north side of 46th Street, just west of the Great White Way herself. Garcia would often play four separate shows a day -- an acoustic and electric matinee, plus an evening performance. This 2004 installment of the Pure Jerry series of archival releases features every number from the concluding night of the run, which just so happened to fall on Halloween, October 31, 1987. Garcia's electric band consisted of Garcia, Kahn, Kemper, keyboardist Melvin Seals, and background singers Jaclyn LaBranch and Gloria Jones. As if the very nature and location of the concerts were not enough, the song selection is sublime and offers a faultless sampling of the artist's work. This is most pointedly the case during the acoustic programs, as Garcia and company present a primer in Americana 101 music appreciation. The disparate range of material spans from the Grateful Dead's "Ripple" to the cool workout of Jimmie Rodgers' rural "Blue Yodel No. 9" and the seminal gospel of "Swing Low Sweet Chariot." The pair of "plugged-in" entries are much in keeping with the style and format that the Jerry Garcia Band had been doing since its mid-'70s inception. There are extended and well-jammed covers of several Bob Dylan titles such as "When I Paint My Masterpiece," "I Shall Be Released," and an impassioned "Knocking on Heaven's Door," plus JGB favorites "Run for the Roses," "Cats Under the Stars," "Gomorrah," "They Love Each Other," and "Deal." Ever the prankster, Garcia commences the final set of the evening with a fun and frolicking redux of Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London." Although the audio is heavy on the audience, Pure Jerry: Lunt-Fontanne, NYC, 10/31/87 and the companion Pure Jerry: Lunt-Fontanne, The Best of the Rest are recommended for those inclined, and are available at Garcia's website.

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