Posts Tagged ‘Pennsylvania’

“Garcia” by Jerry Garcia (1972)

The Grateful Dead’s official discography has the band’s studio work with Warner Bros. concluding with the classic “American Beauty.”

Yet two more Warner studio albums figure prominently in the Dead’s history, recordings that provided ample concert material for decades while also being somewhat hard to find for years.

Bob Weir’s “Ace” (1972) is a Grateful Dead album in all but name, with all members of the band’s lineup at the time taking part in the sessions. As such, it’s the first studio effort to feature the Godchauxs, Keith and Donna.

By contrast, “Garcia,” released the same year, basically is a solo effort: Jerry played everything on the albums except drums, which were handled by the Dead’s Bill Kreutzmann.

“Garcia” and “Ace” both went out of print a few years after release and were much coveted by Deadheads until their release on compact disc in the late ’80s. I remember buying “Ace” on 8-track because that’s the only way I could find it!

A copy of “Garcia” actually sat for a long while in a bin at a record store we frequented in Indiana, PA, our college town. But we had no idea until later; the album’s cover gives little indication as to what it contains.

Our loss.

Of the two albums, I prefer “Garcia.” Nothing against Bob’s effort, which contains many of his best compositions (although I’ve never been fond of “Looks Like Rain”). But, hey, Jerry was Jerry.

Plus the songs on his first solo album are among his most memorable, kicking off with “Deal.” Not only is it one of my favorites to play and sing since I learned it 20-some years ago, but it always was a personal concert favorite. I particularly remember it as a first-set closer during a show on City Island in my hometown of Harrisburg, an epic performance that had me clearing out a large swath of the audience to accommodate my boogieing to the music. (No, you don’t want to picture that.)

Back to “Garcia”: It continues with two more songs that became concert favorites, “Bird Song,” Jerry and Robert Hunter’s ode to Janis Joplin, and “Sugaree,” their invective against a woman who must’ve done somebody wrong.

The first side of the LP wraps up with “Loser,” a minor-key tale of a gambler that particularly was effective in concert with its dynamic shifts an Jerry’s dramatic guitar soloing.

The LP’s flip side opens with pure experimentation leading into the melodic instrumental “Eep Hour”; the suite of songs figures prominently in the surreal animated sequence that opens “The Grateful Dead Movie.”

“To Lay Me Down” is a heartfelt effort that reappears on the Dead’s acoustic live album, “Reckoning,” and the “So Many Roads” anthology of unreleased material. Next is the aptly titled “An Odd Little Place,” which is an odd little jam.

“Garcia” wraps up with some of Jerry’s finest pedal-steel guitar playing (he abandoned the instrument during the Europe ’72 tour) leading into “The Wheel,” which began life as an improvisation and wound up as yet another concert favorite when the Dead revived the song following its 1974-75 hiatus.

The duo album by Bill the drummer and Jerry on everything else stands as one of the Grateful Dead’s finest studio accomplishments, even if it featured only two of the boys.

I had to run a few errand today and took my Canon PowerShot SX20 along for the ride.

On the way back home, I hopped out of the Hyundai and snapped some photos before frostbite started to set in.

We’ve had a mild winter so far here in Western Pennsylvania, but in the middle of February, it usually looks something like this.

I’m hoping these types of days are few and far between the closer we get to spring.

Washington (D.C.) Examiner staff writer Liz Essley wrote an article that caught my eye:

“Virginia may allow corporations to name roads, bridges for cash”

My question: Why haven’t they brought that idea to the table in Pennsylvania? Or if they have, why isn’t it bringing in money at this very moment?

Sure, a lot of Pennsylvania roads, bridges and interchanges are named for war heroes, politicians and other historical figures. For example, in Washington County (where I work) are the Barry Stout Expressway, also known as Route 43 of the Pennsylvania Turnpike system, for the state senator who helped get it built; the Farrell Jackson interchange off Interstate 79, for a former county coroner; and another interchange named for Walter Joseph Marm Jr. (pictured), a Medal of Honor recipient from the city of Washington.

We certainly wouldn’t want to change that last one.

But there are plenty of other stretches of asphalt that could lend themselves to naming rights. And there probably are plenty of corporations that would jump at the opportunity, given their proclivity to pay for their names on sporting venues and the like.

I can’t wait to drive on PNC Place or Consol Energy Boulevard. Better their contributions to the state coffers than mine.


Posted: January 3, 2012 in Anecdote
Tags: , , , , ,

The start of 2012 also has meant the start of substantial snowfall in Western Pennsylvania.

First thing this morning, I helped my neighbor push her car out of another neighbor’s driveway. She’d started down our street, which hadn’t been plowed, and decided to turn around and try it from the other direction. Which explained why she was in the wrong driveway.

I’ve certainly had problems in the past getting out of my own driveway. Once, my father-in-law had to drive over with a bunch of salt to get us up and out. I’ve since opted for four- or all-wheel-drive vehicles, which helps considerably … unless I’m driving to Buffalo on New Year’s Day. (See Listen, the Snow Is Falling.)

Back in the mid-’80s, I drove an Oldsmobile Omega, which perhaps was the worst car ever built this side of the Iron Curtain. One night, I was driving on Seventh Street in Indiana, PA, following a snowstorm. I tapped the brake pedal slightly.

The next thing I knew, the car had reversed direction and was skidding toward a gas station, with no way for me to control anything. Finally, we came to a halt about a foot away from one of the pumps.

That could have been ugly.

At least the Omega had front-wheel drive, which usually got it around decently in the snow, although GM hadn’t quite perfected the technology: The seals that held the transmission fluid kept tearing. Not a good way to keep the car running.

My dad once had a Chevy Vega, a rear-wheel drive piece of junk that got no traction whatsoever. He had to put sandbags in the back to try to make a go of it each winter.

The original Junk in the Trunk!

Associated listening: “Goats Head Soup” by the Rolling Stones (1973)