GarciaLive, Vol. 2: August 5th 1990 Greek Theatre

by: Jerry Garcia Band

The second volume of GarciaLive finds Jerry with some downtime from the Dead in the summer of 1990, doing a laid-back afternoon performance on home turf at Berkeley, California's Greek Theatre. Joined by a later incarnation of the Jerry Garcia Band, Garcia's trademark guitar style and grainy vocals are augmented by a core rhythm section of John Kahn and David Kemper as well as prominently featured organ flair from Melvin Seals and soul-tinged backing vocals from Gloria Jones and Jaclyn LaBranch. Though it was recorded a full decade after the first installment of this Dick's Picks-like concert archive series, Vol. 2 shares a lot of the same songs from the set list of Vol. 1. Tracks like "That's What Love Will Make You Do," "Deal," "Midnight Moonlight," and others appear again, though the feel of the set is far more jammy, summery, and laid-back than Vol. 1, which was bluesy and amped by relative Garcia standards. The protracted and stumbly vibe of the set presented here evokes the archetypal languid outdoor concert energy that the Grateful Dead all but defined in their endless touring, and Garcia's takes on roots rock classics by the Band, Van Morrison, and later-period Dylan help capture the stoned summertime musical snapshot all the more. What truly sets this volume apart from its predecessor is the guest spot by banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck on two songs, reaching a burning apex on the group's bluegrass/reggae/jam band hybrid take on Jimmy Cliff's "The Harder They Come." Garcia's ever-rusty voice takes a back seat to electric soloing by Fleck and some of the more competent and tasteful accompaniment of the entire set. ~ Fred Thomas

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