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Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band – Ragged But Right

Approximately 66 minutes of music. The digitally edited sound is crisp and clean, yet has a warmth to it which is essential for this type of music.

This is the second album by the JERRY GARCIA ACOUSTIC BAND, that was scheduled to be released a number of years ago, but circumstances delayed that release until now. In a nutshell-if you liked the first album, you’ll like this one. The tracks for “Ragged But Right†come from the same series of concerts from 1987, recorded at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater in New York City, (11 tracks + band introductions),the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles, and the Warfield Theater in San Fransisco (3 tracks). For those who don’t know, the players are-Jerry Garcia-guitar/vocals, David Nelson (who played with the great NEW RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE)-guitar/vocals, Sandy Rothman-mandolin/dobro/banjo/vocals, John Kahn-string bass, Kenny Kosek-fiddle/bass vocals, and David Kemper (Bob Dylan’s drummer)-snare drum. Sometimes people new to this music hear the name Jerry Garcia, the “Garcia/psychedelic†factor can overshadow the other musicians, but one listen and you realize you’re hearing a band of equals. They play this music simply because they love the sound they make, the straightforward lyrics tell a (sometimes) true story, and that purity of purpose shines all through these tunes.

The songs range from traditional (the title track, “Short Life of Troubleâ€, “Deep Elem Bluesâ€, “Roas Lee McFallâ€, “Two Soldiersâ€, “If I Loseâ€, “Bright Morning Starâ€, and “Turtle Doveâ€), to songs by Mel Tillis (“I Ain’t Neverâ€), Richard Jones (“Trouble In Mindâ€), Reno and Smiley (“Drifting With the Tideâ€) Huddie Ledbetter (“Goodnight Ireneâ€), Don Wayne (“It’s a Long, Long Way to the Topâ€), and Charles Moody (“Drifting Too Far From Shoreâ€).

The music on this album is one of the cornerstones of American music. The players are all steeped in country, western, folk, blues, gospel, and bluegrass music. The band’s vocal harmonies are like the title of the album-ragged but right. Garcia has a number of lead vocals, with Nelson and the others stepping up to take a turn occasionally. The music itself is based on any, or a combination of the above genres. Kemper’s snare drum is the perfect foundation for the music-never calling attention to the rhythm, but always pushing the music along perfectly. Rothman’s multi-instrument playing is one of the highlights of this set. And with both Garcia and Nelson on guitars, the sound is full and at times, swinging. Mention should also go to Kosek’s fiddle work, which complements the other players perfectly.

This great band lasted only through a couple of dozen or so shows, opening for Garcia’s fully electric band. This is the music that captured Garcia’s imagination in the beginning, and made him want to play music for the rest of his life. Influenced by “Folkways Anthology of American Music†(if you haven’t heard this collection you need to), Garcia credits that set as his first major influence on his own music. - by Stuart Jefferson


Track List

Ragged But Right (Traditional)

Short Life Of Trouble (Grayson)

I Ain’t Never (Pierce / Tillis)

Trouble In Mind (Jones)

Drifting With The Tide (Traditional)

Band introductions

Deep Elem Blues (Traditional)

Rosa Lee McFall (Traditional / Monroe)

Two Soldiers (Traditional)

If I Lose (Traditional / Stanley)

Bright Morning Stars (Traditional)

Goodnight Irene (Traditional)

It’s A Long Long Way (To The Top Of The World) (Wayne)

Drifting Too Far From The Shore (Moody)

Turtle Dove (Traditional)


Jerry Garcia – guitar, vocals

David Nelson – guitar, vocals

Sandy Rothman – mandolin, dobro, vocals

John Kahn – acoustic bass

Kenny Kosek – fiddle

David Kemper – snare drum


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