A Banjo Lesson With Jerry Garcia? Listen to This Tape from 1964
Listening to this offers a weird and wonderful trip through a time machine and is a true fly-on-the-wall experience. A year before he decided to have a go at playing rock music with his buddies in The Warlocks, Jerry Garcia was riding high in the folk scene and giving banjo lessons. I can only imagine the various drawers and shelves where this tap has laid dormant, the number of hands it has passed between, and the bizarre conversations it generated before it was considered an artifact of true historical significance.
No doubt, there are some pretty slick banjo licks throughout, but I think the real gem here is the between song conversation / instruction of Jerry and his student. It's pretty innocuous, there's nothing particularly revelatory, but the truly fascinating thing that we can discern from the bits of Jerry dialog is that pre-fame Garcia is pretty much the same guy who made such a hearfelt connection with Deadheads: mild-spoken, jocular and absolutely devoted to the performance and study of music.
Not much is known about the exact lineage of the source (the location and student are perhaps lost forever) — see below for the notes from the persons who so graciously encoded, mastered and put this rarity into circulation (Goody and Slabicky). Much thanks go to them.
Unknown location (possibly Dana Morgan's music store?).
Banjo lesson with an unknown student.
Unknown person (possibly student) records the lesson.
source; audience mic to reel to reel recording by unknown student > ? >
7 1/2 ips reel > Matt Smith (Akai GX-625 > Apogee Mini Me (24/96) >
Apogee Mini Dac (monitoring/mastering > Wavelab 5.0 (dithered to
20/44)) > CD
CD > EAC (tracking and mastering) > CD ( 45:38 ) by Ihor Slabicky >
dBpoweramp (WAV) > Eool Edit Pro (Pitch Bender +62) > Trader's Little Helper (FLAC, ffp)
01. Jerry Garcia: “…Reno, I think, does it down here…” > tune 1 (1:56)
02. unk.: “…there's something that you did … on Joni's song…” > tune 2 (3:20)
03. unk.: “…would you do that thing for…” > tune 3 (0:38)
04. tune 4 > tuning (1:03)
05. tune 5 > Jerry Garcia: “I'm still working on that…” (:57)
06. tune 6 > Jerry Garcia: “I really like the tune. it's a pretty tune, but I can't, I could never
play it right…” (:58)
07. tune 7 (0:45)
08. unk.: “any pedal steel stuff, you know, like the…” > tune 8 (1:47)
09. tune 9 (1:36)
10. tune 10 (3:10)
11. tune 11 > Jerry Garcia: “…no, a guy's just taping some stuff. You wanna open the door, go
12. tune 12 (0:54)
13. unk.: “Would you show me that break with that phrase in there? > tune 13 (1:45)
14. tune 14 (2:51)
15. Jerry Garcia: “Well, whatta you want me to put on there?” unk.: “…'Red Wing', for one…”
Jerry Garcia: “…I can't really play that…” > “Red Wing” (tune 15) (2:40)
16. Jerry Garcia: “…you know, I haven't listened to ahh, much Reno…” > tune 16 (1:00)
17. unk.: “…about a month ago…you showed me something that…” > tune 17 (x) (1:21)
18. (x) tune 18 (1:38)
19. tune 19 > Jerry Garcia: “That's a pretty tune.” (1:22)
20. tuning > unk.: “'Rawhide'?” Jerry Garcia: “…I haven't really got anything much more to talk
about. I'm not too happy with the way I play it. If you really want it that badly.” unk.: “Yes,
yes I do.” > tuning (1:00)
21. “Rawhide” (1:32)
22. unk.: “…would you mind breaking down the first chord run on the D?” Jerry Garcia: “…uh-uh, I
ain't gonna break that…you're gonna havta figger it out yourself…” ? tune 22 >
Jerry Garcia: “there's a zillion things you can do with that. I mean, it's got so many good
possibilities… odd chords, you know.” (1:18)
23. tune 23 (1:58)
24. tune 24 (3:00)
25. unk.: “How about 'Stoney Creek'?” Jerry Garcia: “(sigh) okay-ah… that's in A, usually.” >
tuning > “Stony Creek” (1:57)
26. Jerry Garcia: “…it's sort of a hard song to organize. I, ahh…” > “Stoney Creek” (1:09)
27. “Stoney Creek” workup (0:53)
28. tune 28 > Jerry Garcia: “By the way, why doncha play alotta that stuff back. I wanna hear what
it sounds like.” unk.: “(laughs)” Jerry Garcia: “Really. No kidding (x)” (1:19)
The pitch of this set was approx. 62 cents flat. Although all the frantic pickin' continually puts the strings out of tune, we do hear lots of tuning up going on. I've tuned to those moments, and checked the rest of it to make sure it all pretty much stays in tune. I believe it's now back to the correct and original speed and pitch at which it was recorded.
Note that this text has been updated to reflect the changes in the Track Times, as well as the Total Time. The PDF that circulates with the previous version of this torrent contains all the old times, previous to this Pitch-Corrected Edition.