Trey Anastasio on Dead Reunion Shows: 'I Don't Want to Just Copy Jerry'

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by Jon Silberman, Feb 17, 2015.

  1. Jon Silberman

    Jon Silberman 10Q Jerry & Dickey Gold Supporting Member

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    Excerpts:

    "I learned so much from seeing those guys – about the feel, the vernacular of the songs. But I never really sat and studied what Jerry actually played, until now."

    ooo

    Garcia was "one of a kind," Anastasio says. "There are no Jerry Garcias coming down the pike, anymore than there is a Jimi Hendrix or Bob Marley. They are all at the same level – the highest level that you strive to get to as a musician. Me and my friends – we'll all be long dead, people will still be trying to dig into what Jerry Garcia did." Anastasio pauses, then laughs. "Just like I am today."

    ooo

    Right now, I'm in the thick of it, because I don't have any [other] shows on the horizon, which is a real luxury. I get up really early, when it's still dark. I light a little fire in the fireplace, take my guitar and do a song. Yesterday, I did "Help on the Way" [from 1975's Blues for Allah]. I'll spend a few hours in the morning on it, then do it again later in the day.

    ooo

    There is a lot more intent put into those lines than people might think. It was not just noodling. You can tell if you listen to three or four different versions. But that "Wheel" riff – what happened after I started dissecting it was I started thinking, "I've heard this before." I realized it sounded like a Django Reinhardt riff – not exactly, but some of the vocabulary, the way he was leaving those passing tones. So I started digging through all of these Django songs: "Wow, I'm sure he was listening to this."

    ooo

    I have been finding that I've narrowed down my favorite eras to 1974 and 1977. And there's really great stuff for me in 1971, when it was like, 'What's going on here?" It was so unhinged. But if I have to learn some things as a guitar player, I find myself going to either '74 or '77, because from the guitar end, it sounds like someone who has been practicing for eight hours a day. And the band was so tight.

    ooo

    Then Bob sent me this e-mail: "I'll help ruin your vacation. You can learn these 60 songs." And I wrote back: "These are great. May I be so bold as to add the possibility of 'Casey Jones,' 'Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo,' 'Friend of the Devil,' 'Tennessee Jed,' 'Bertha,' 'Dire Wolf,' 'Sugaree,' 'Candyman,' Dupree's Diamond Blkues,' 'China Doll.'" [laughs] None of those were on his list. And the ones that were were great.

    ooo

    I still feel like a student. I had an interesting conversation with Mountain Girl [Garcia's second wife, Carolyn] at this Garcia tribute thing [in 2012 for the guitarist's 70th birthday]. She sat down with me in catering and said, "I just want to tell you something, because I know you're a big fan of Jerry's. He got up at 7 in the morning and practiced. He was completely nuts about practicing. This Captain Trips image of himn sitting around, smoking a joint and having the music come out wasn't what I saw. The guy I saw wanted to be the best possible singer, songwriter and guitar player."

    ooo

    http://www.rollingstone.com/music/f...&utm_medium=email&ea=dmljdHluZXNAbXNuLmNvbQ==
     
  2. geoangus

    geoangus Member

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    Thanks for sharing that.
     
  3. oldlefty

    oldlefty Member

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    Good stuff Jon, thanks for the link. I liked the last one best- a lot of "Dead-skimmers" don't understand that part of Jer.
     
  4. Gas-man

    Gas-man Unrepentant Massaganist

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    I'm not sure why anyone would think Jerry was a noodler after listening to basically anything the man ever played.

    It WAS surprising though that Trey never really sat down and learned any Jerry before this gig came up.
     
  5. ShawnH

    ShawnH Member

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    Not really. He spent a long-time trying to distance himself from the Dead and Jerry. It's nice to see him come full circle. And I dig most of his suggestions for added tunes - several really feature Jerry singing though - could be why Bob left them out. :D


    _______________
     
  6. Jon Silberman

    Jon Silberman 10Q Jerry & Dickey Gold Supporting Member

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    As someone who has also spent a fair amount of time - alone and with other guitarists - studying Jerry's playing, my experience is it's the rare player who leaves that experience without picking up and keeping at least some "Jerry-isms." It'll be interesting to hear how the experience touches Trey, both in July and thereafter.
     
  7. BigSB

    BigSB Member

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    My "Jerryism" is mixing chromatic and pentatonic scales, much more like a piano or horn than a strictly blues-based guitar style. I don't play anything nearly as harmonically advanced or adventurous as the Captain, but I've also learned not to shun the ragtime and folk/blues licks he loved.

    The Dead really were unique. A folkie/bluegrasser starts a jug band that morphs into a loose r&b band that turns on to acid and becomes the house band for one of the most anarchistic and socioculturally important scenes of the modern era. They then lasso that thing, whatever it is, and take it on the road and it becomes something like a horse that can do tricks on command but can't be ridden safely. Beautiful, intelligent and powerful, but fun and wild and unpredictable, often at the same time.

    People who truly knew Jerry talk about him like Paul English (drummer) talks about Willie. "Played my first real pro gig with him, and my last will be with him, too." He said that nearly 60 years ago. There's just something you have to know privately and dare I say intimately about someone's heart and soul to believe in them like that, and Jerry was that rare kind.
     
  8. Bob Maximus

    Bob Maximus Silver Supporting Member

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    His comments make me appreciate guys like Steve Kimock all the more.
     
  9. sfarnell

    sfarnell Gold Supporting Member

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    Trey seems like a very astute musician. Good read Jon, thanks.
     
  10. sfarnell

    sfarnell Gold Supporting Member

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    +1 Love it.
     
  11. Boris Bubbanov

    Boris Bubbanov Member

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    Yeah, it was.

    But the more I think about it, the more I can see it. Jerry did not imitate others much; Trey would understand this. Many of the best guitarists are inspired by other players and yet this doesn't mean microscopic familiarity with the interior specifics of their songs.

    I strongly feel Trey is a much wiser choice than some other instrumentalist who has every single note Garcia ever played memorized.
     
  12. smolder

    smolder Gold Supporting Member

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    I hear the 'noodling' comment a lot and interpret it as dismissive. At which point I often dismiss the person making the comment.

    I played this stuff from 75-80-ish and then took a long sabatical from playing, but still listened to the dead regularly. Now, seven years back playing, his phrasing and iterations are well established in my head and tend to come out (in simplistic form) viscerally. A lot of his playing is very complex in theory... as is a lot of the chord phrasing that Bobby was doing. Neither get enough credit for what they were innovating.

    From what I've read and heard, both Bob and Phil have encouraged other players to not do that memorize thing, including through the Further era.
     
  13. Jon Silberman

    Jon Silberman 10Q Jerry & Dickey Gold Supporting Member

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    I just loved the interview. A pleasure to read on many levels. These include, if I may hearken back to a totally different, recent Sound Lounge thread on being a "hired hand" for someone else's band, how seriously Trey is taking his prep for the gig. It's a window into how a consummate pro goes about it and is inspiring.
     
  14. ZeyerGTR

    ZeyerGTR Supporting Member

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    Great interview, thanks for sharing!

    To me, that's one of the money quotes. The reality is often a lot different from the perception.
     
  15. Boris Bubbanov

    Boris Bubbanov Member

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    There's probably two groups of critics here:

    a) One says they think Jerry was a slacker. They're obviously mistaken;

    b) One says the vibe of the playing suggests lack of attention to detail; to indifference as to the net result in the show or on the record. That's harder to dismiss. There's a difference between not practicing and sounding to the untrained ear like nobody practiced. I don't agree with this criticism, but I feel you gotta take this kind of discussion seriously.

    No, when Jerry got on my nerves, he's sounding pitchy. Sharp. The man's ears and mine are not getting along in some of these compositions. Which is frustrating since he's so amazing (to me) in every other regard.
     
  16. greggorypeccary

    greggorypeccary Member

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    I'm not surprised by this at all. Listen to all the music Trey wrote for Phish in the early years. He was too busy composing his own stuff, and learning about composition in college to spend his time working on learning someone else's music.

    Not to mention that Phish, at least the early stuff that defined what Phish is, is really nothing like the Dead, musically speaking (outside of, possibly, something like Slipknot). When I first heard Junta back in the day, I never once thought, "this sounds like the Grateful Dead."
     
  17. smolder

    smolder Gold Supporting Member

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    Agreed.

    A friend of mine woodsheds for several days... 6-10 hours a day for a single sit in gig at a local blues bar. I'm in aw... great work ethic, and of course he has the time. I'm lucky to get a couple of hours in 4-5 times a week... and that's generally after everyone has gone to bed. Of course I have a full time gig and kids... but I would love to spend a few months doing that.

    thanks for sharing Jon.
     
  18. Holliman

    Holliman Triad Abuser

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    Thanks for posting that Jon. I can't wait to hear Trey. I won't be there live but I bet he's going to sound amazing. He's good enough.
     
  19. Jon Silberman

    Jon Silberman 10Q Jerry & Dickey Gold Supporting Member

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    Agreed.

    In my own view, if you scrape back all the layers from Jerry, at the core is a folksy/bluesgrass player. While underneath it all, Trey's most likely a jazzer.

    So while they're both consummate improvisers, they draw from different wells.
     
  20. greggorypeccary

    greggorypeccary Member

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    Trey was also really influenced by progressive stuff like Genesis. Different wells, indeed!
     

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