A mid-morning, egg-sandwich-in-the-conference-room type meeting was recently convened with our higher ups (NB: not God-or Akon! Chortle chortle) to discuss the cover icon on this issue’s Photo Extraspectacular. The pressing question on the table was, “Why Jerry Garcia?” and, secondarily, “Do [we] or do [we] not hate hippies?” The answer, kind friends, is that we feel Jerry Garcia to be an incredibly relevant force in music right now-for hippies and non-hippies alike. Sonically, you can hear strains of Garcia’s influence all over the place, from Cali neo folk to the psych renaissance to straight-ahead rock jams piping out of a Downtown Near You. Fundamentally, Garcia’s attitude towards making music-and the attitude adopted by fans of it-really was one of love and acceptance, both of which happen to be timely and wildly underrated ideas for this 21st Century of ours. It’s (conveniently) the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love and while you’re not going to catch us a) nude in the park or b) donning round, indigo-tinted moodglasses, you will see us attempting to throw a little bit of positive juju in the cakemix. Call us hippies, or Sultans of Cliche, but in this little corner of used bubble wrap and empty tom yum soup containers, we’re working hard to emanate goodvibes: desperate times call for dubious measures. We are also looking into smoking grass-avidly-but that’s another conversation for another time.
You’ll see that our tribute focuses heavily on the early years, before Garcia became synonymous with platinum sales and sporty hatchbacks featuring bumper stickers with rainbow colored dancing bears. Instead we explore seminal moments-how the Dead came to be a band, the Wild West of the Acid Tests, certain “introductions” from the Sufis-through the eyes of those who knew them best. We also get the goods from the FADER generation: Brightblack, Modest Mouse, Dungen and the Hold Steady (among others) all weigh in with accounts of how Garcia made his mark on their music. The rest of the ish is dedicated to other folks in other places who are living outside the grid: check our photo portfolios on underground eco leaders in Philadelphia, gang life in the shadow of Wounded Knee and the golden days of the itinerant Roma community. While you’re busy with these 176 pages, we’ll be eating tacos, queuing up the new jams, pondering big questions about the universe and braiding our hair for the summer. Don’t get too jealous: right now, wherever you are, the sun is shining and the love might possibly be real-we promise. See you in July.