Special 5-LP Jerry Garcia Boxed Set BEFORE THE DEAD

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Submitted by -All Eyes Media Thu, 03/08/2018 - 10:37 am

On May 11th, Round Records will release its most ambitious project to date with the long-awaited Jerry Garcia boxed set Before The Dead. The project features a meticulously researched and curated compilation of recordings the iconic Grateful Dead founder made prior to forming the legendary band. Before The Dead includes never before heard performances, recordings that have never been commercially released and a small selection that have. From intimate live recordings to live studio recordings to field recordings, Before The Dead serves as a historical document in the spirit of renowned releases by Smithsonian Folkways and influential field recordings by Alan Lomax. The music on Before The Dead was selected and co-produced by longtime Grateful Dead publicist/author Dennis McNally and documentarian Brian Miksis. The audio was restored and mastered by Fred Kevorkian.

The first release from Before The Dead features the Black Mountain Boys (Garcia, Robert Hunter, David Nelson and Eric Thompson) in a rare 1964 live recording of “Rosa Lee McFall”.  Written by Charlie Monroe, the song would remain with Garcia throughout his career, reinterpreted later on with The Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band and Garcia/Grisman. This is the first time this track has ever been released.

Before The Dead will be released in two physical formats: a 4-CD set and a limited-edition 5-LP boxed set. The 5-LP boxed set is pressed to 180-gram vinyl in a limited edition of 2,500 pieces and includes a special in-depth 32-page book featuring essays by McNally and Miksis, rare photos and memorabilia along with detailed listening notes and commentary on each track by Dr. Neil V. Rosenberg. Aside from being a renowned musicologist, Rosenberg was part of the Redwood Canyon Ramblers, an influential Bay Area bluegrass ensemble that would inspire a younger generation of players, including Garcia. Each section features a “Tales of the Tape” essay that includes details on how, when and where the music was recorded, how it was found and, in most instances, anecdotes about the particular date, including early interactions with many area musicians before they went on to greater things. Sara Ruppenthal Katz (formerly Sara Garcia, Jerry’s first wife) contributes an enlightening essay around the 1963 recording of her duo performance with Garcia at the intimate Pala Alto, CA club Top Of The Tangent (aka The Tangent). Tangent co-founder Stu Goldstein also adds a piece discussing the club’s origins and how it became a hot spot for the new folk scene that was developing in the Bay Area.

Before The Dead sheds light on the earliest period in Jerry Garcia’s odyssey going from the young, charismatic, developing multi-instrumentalist coming of age during the early 1960’s folk-revival (often sarcastically referred to as The Great Folk Scare) to one of the most influential and groundbreaking artists of the rock ‘n roll era. Like many during that time, Garcia’s influences were coming from the deep-rooted folk tradition of artists such as Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, The Carter Family, The New Lost City Ramblers, The Stanley Brothers, The Weavers, a young Joan Baez and the Harry Smith Folkways collections to name a few. These influences would resurface prominently in some of Garcia’s most important work with the Dead on the 1970 albums Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty — regularly cited as foundational in the creation of what is now referred to as Americana.

From beginning to end, the listener will journey through the musical evolution of Jerry Garcia and how the impact of the folk forbearers gradually permeates his playing and technique. You can hear the earliest origins of Garcia’s signature style budding as he had become a student of the music constantly absorbing and endlessly challenging himself. His instrument rarely left his side from dawn to dust. What shines brightly throughout the set is Garcia’s outgoing personality and sense of humor, often described as “magnetic”, a clear early indicator.

Throughout this period from 1961 to 1964 were pivotal first-time meetings, (documented in the book) between Garcia and people who would become life-long collaborators and friends. From his revered writing partner and early bandmate Robert Hunter, to mandolin master David Grisman, to each member of the Grateful Dead to the many artists who would go on to take their own place in music history, including acclaimed instrumentalist Sandy Rothman, David Nelson (co-founder of New Riders of the Purple Sage) and Clarence White, guitarist of the Byrds.

Before The Dead showcases Garcia in various ensembles and configurations starting with the rarest piece in the entire collection, the earliest known recording of Garcia captured at his girlfriend’s 16th birthday party in 1961 alongside future Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter. Outside of a short clip used in the Grateful Dead documentary Long Strange Trip, this recording has never been released, circulated or heard. Other highlights include the Sleepy Hollow Hog Stompers’ 1962 gig in San Carlos, CA, and the Hart Valley Drifters’ 1962 recording at Stanford’s KZSU Radio Studio A (Garcia’s first-known studio recording, released in 2017 for the first time). Arguably Garcia’s best and most beloved bluegrass band of that early period, The Black Mountain Boys are prominently featured via three separate occasions in 1963 and 1964, while a 1964 performance by Garcia’s Asphalt Jungle Mountain Boys rounds out Before The Dead. See a full list of dates, performances and players below.

Despite Jerry Garcia’s deep love for folk and bluegrass traditions, his time fully immersed in it was coming to a close. Encounters with one of his heroes, Bill Monroe, whose band he almost auditioned for (and Rothman went on to join), might have sent him deeper in that direction, but it was not to be. (Note: Garcia even used to tape Monroe’s shows, a possible foreshadowing of allowing fans to tape Grateful Dead shows later). By the end of 1964, The Beatles had become a household name, The Rolling Stones hit hard with their version of the blues and civil rights had become an important part of the social and political landscape. New influences and inspirations would impact Garcia’s direction as he went on to form The Warlocks, who would go on to become The Grateful Dead. However, the foundation in tradition was solidified during those early years and would resurface regularly throughout the remainder of his life in a multitude of ways, including the Dead, The Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band, Old and In The Way, Garcia/Grisman and so much more.

Jerry Garcia – Before The Dead Vinyl Breakdown of Recordings

See Full Track Listing HERE

SIDE 1
Bob and Jerry
May 26, 1961
Brigid Meier's Sixteenth Birthday Party 
Menlo Park, California
*Original Recordings by Dick Meier
Provided by Brigid Meier
Performers:
Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals
Robert Hunter - vocals

SIDE 2 
Tracks 1 & 2
Jerry Garcia, Marshall Leicester, and Robert Hunter 
July 1961
Boar's Head Coffeehouse
Carlos Book Stall
San Carlos, California
 *Original Recordings by Rodney Albin
Provided by Dennis McNally and Dick Latvala
Performers:
Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals
Robert Hunter - mandolin
Marshall Leicester - banjo, guitar, vocals

Tracks 3 - 7
Jerry Garcia and Unknown Musician
Summer or fall 1961
Boar's Head Coffeehouse
Carlos Book Stall
San Carlos, California
*Original Recordings by Rodney Albin
Provided by Joani Walker and Paul Scotton
Performers:
Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals
Unknown Musician - bass (tracks 4 & 5)  

SIDE 3
Sleepy Hollow Hog Stompers
June 11, 1962
Boar's Head Coffeehouse, Peninsula Jewish Community Center
San Carlos, California
*Original Recordings by Rodney Albin
Provided by Barry Glassberg and Adam Egert
Performers:
Jerry Garcia - banjo, guitar, vocals
Dick Arnold - fiddle, vocals
Marshall Leicester - banjo, guitar, vocals

SIDES 4 & 5
Hart Valley Drifters
Fall 1962
KZSU Radio Studio A, Stanford University Stanford, California
 *Original Recordings by Ted Claire
Performers:
Jerry Garcia - banjo, guitar, vocals
Ken Frankel - banjo, fiddle, guitar
Robert Hunter - bass, vocals
Norm Van Maastricht - dobro
David Nelson - guitar, vocals

SIDE 6
The Wildwood Boys
February 23, 1963
Top of the Tangent
Palo Alto, California
 *Original Recordings by Ted Claire
Provided by Stu Goldstein
 Performers:
Jerry Garcia - banjo, guitar, vocals
Robert Hunter - mandolin, vocals
David Nelson - guitar, vocals
Norm Van Maastricht - bass, guitar, vocals

SIDE 7
Jerry and Sara Garcia
May 4, 1963
Top of the Tangent
Palo Alto, California
 *Original Recordings by Dave Schoenstadt
Provided by Stu Goldstein
Performers:
Jerry Garcia - banjo, guitar, mandolin, vocals
Sara Garcia - guitar, vocals

SIDE 8
Tracks 1- 4
Black Mountain Boys
Fall 1963 
Top of the Tangent
Palo Alto, California
*Recordings Provided by Dennis McNally, Joan Baylie, and Jim Mullins
Performers:
Jerry Garcia - banjo, guitar, vocals
Robert Hunter - bass, vocals
David Nelson - mandolin, vocals
Eric Thompson - guitar, vocals 

Tracks 5 - 8
Black Mountain Boys
January 10, 1964 
Top of the Tangent
Palo Alto, California
*Recordings Provided by Eric Thompson
Performers: 
Jerry Garcia - banjo, guitar, vocals
Robert Hunter - bass, vocals
David Nelson - mandolin, vocals
Eric Thompson - guitar, vocals

Tracks 9 & 10
Black Mountain Boys
March 6, 1964  
Top of the Tangent
Palo Alto, California
*Original Recordings by John Clayton
Performers:
Jerry Garcia - banjo, vocals
Geoff Levin - bass 
David Nelson - mandolin, vocals
Sandy Rothman - guitar, vocals

SIDE 9
Black Mountain Boys
March 6, 1964
Top of the Tangent
Palo Alto, California

*Original Recordings by John Clayton (tracks 1 & 2)
Recordings Provided by Sandy Rothman (tracks 3-10)
Performers:
Jerry Garcia - banjo, guitar, vocals
Geoff Levin - bass 
David Nelson - mandolin, vocals
Sandy Rothman - guitar, vocals

SIDE 10
Tracks 1-5
Black Mountain Boys
March 6, 1964
Top of the Tangent
Palo Alto, California
*Recordings Provided by Sandy Rothman
Performers:
Jerry Garcia - banjo, guitar, vocals
Geoff Levin - bass 
David Nelson - mandolin, vocals
Sandy Rothman - guitar, vocals

Track 6
Black Mountain Boys
Spring 1964
Top of the Tangent
Palo Alto, California
*Recording Provided by Sandy Rothman
Performers:
Jerry Garcia - banjo, vocals
David Nelson - mandolin, vocals
Sandy Rothman - guitar, vocals

Tracks 7-10
Asphalt Jungle Mountain Boys
Summer 1964
Top of the Tangent
Palo Alto, California
*Recordings Provided by Dennis McNally, Joan Baylie, and Jim Mullins
Performers:
Jerry Garcia - banjo, vocals
Herb Pedersen - vocals (track 7 only)
Jody Stecher - mandolin, vocals
Eric Thompson - guitar  
Butch Waller - vocals (track 7 only)