'Pure Jerry' tracks to be offered; fans asked for requests

The Jerry Garcia Estate has gone into the tape vaults to launch a series of Jerry Garcia Band concert recordings to be sold on the Internet — a system similar to the one devised by the Grateful Dead for its Dick’s Picks series.

The first offering, a three-CD set consisting of material from two 1977 shows at San Francisco’s Theater 1839, will become available June 8 at Jerrygarcia.com. The estate expects to release two more live albums this year and plans to put out about four releases per year; the estate possesses recordings of more than 500 concerts. All will be titled “Pure Jerry.”

Concurrently, the Garcia estate will be releasing Garcia Band live recordings with Warner Music’s Rhino Records imprint, which earlier this month released “All Good Things,” a boxed set of Garcia’s six solo recordings plus bonus tracks. (It was the No. 1 seller on the Internet in its first week.) The Internet-only Dick’s Picks albums — now up to 30 volumes — are two-track recordings.

Rhino, which issued “Rockin’ the Rhein With the Grateful Dead” earlier this month, will handle multi-track recordings. While no release dates are inked, label is eyeing the fourth quarter for its first live set.

“There has never been any agreement on what to release or how to do it,” said Christopher Sabec, CEO of the Jerry Garcia Estate LLC, which has been busy with Garcia’s artwork, licenses and lawsuits since his death in 1995. “The real emphasis for the next few years will be on the music and getting it into circulation.”

Initially, there will be no digital downloads, though some may be added as early as late this year.

Garcia, the Dead’s guitarist, chief songwriter and leader, began working on solo projects in the early 1970s and formed the Jerry Garcia Band with bassist John Kahn to play, for the most part, in the Bay area and go on occasional tours. While the relatively limited repertoire was dominated by covers of old soul numbers, reggae tunes and Bob Dylan songs, Sabec said the appeal of the various recordings is hearing Garcia in a variety of settings — in the 1970s alone, Garcia had 35 different ensembles. The first “Pure Jerry” features Kahn, Keith and Donna Godcheaux and Ron Tutt jamming on “The Harder They Come,” “Simple Twist of Fate,” “Friend of the Devil,” “I Second That Emotion” and 14 other tunes.

The Web site asks fans to write recollections of shows and submit requests. Tops among the fan requests are recordings from Legion of Mary, a mid-’70s outfit that included Garcia, organist Merl Saunders and horns. Sabec expects the early releases will represent the breadth of the Garcia Band — Legion of Mary, acoustic shows, late ’80s perfs — and a variety of famed performance sites — the Warfield in San Francisco, Lunt-Fontanne Theater on Broadway, etc.

To market the release, the estate will have a presence at the annual Bonnaroo Festival in Tennessee June 11-13. The Dead is among the 50-plus acts scheduled to perform.

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