Starting to get this cover tune into shape (a Hunter/Garcia original that debuted on Jerry Garcia’s first solo album, Garcia, and popularized by the Dead):
Back in the dawn of the web, a scrappy bunch of iconoclasts (and I) put together a hyper web text media zine art thing we called Enterzone.
This loosely knit hyperlinked episodic publication contained creative and reportorial content, experimental and traditional works, art and reviews. Some of the founders shared an interest in loose-limbed improvisational music and we prevailed upon one of our friends, Nicholas Meriwether, who even then exhibited a preternatural affinity for deep scholarly inquiry into the counter-culture (as he likes to style it*) and related phenomena.
Also, the Dead, man…!
Because, yes, Nicholas is today the curator of the Grateful Dead archive at UC Santa Cruz, a role he may have been put on this earth to play (among others – Nicholas is a stunningly talented person in many ways).
Anyway, back then we leaned on Meriwether heavily to fill in the gaps on early and recent Bay Area counterculture (that’s how I spell it) happenings and also perhaps because he was still under the thumb of a (friendly) dissertation adviser, he preferred to make some of his contributions to our ‘zine under a semi-acrosticlike pseudonym, Griffin Nicholson and I must say that some of the best original work we published in Eneterzone was by this Griffin fellow.
So, anyway, at the dawn of So Many Roads, a scholarly Dead conference that Meriwether is curating at San Jose State University this fall, it seems appropriate to formally acknowledge that Nicholas is Griffin and that Meriwether is the author of all of the wonderful pieces archived on his author page at Enterzone.
* UPDATE: Meriwether writes “I no longer spell ‘counter-culture’ with the hyphen… that was a legacy of my time at Cambridge (where I was nominally registered at the time)[.]”
So, a couple of years ago I was starting to feel a bit more confident about my ability to figure out how to play songs I love on the ukulele so when my sister’s birthday started to roll around I offered to record something for her by request.
She gave me a few options (“Marshall Crenshaw’s “There She Goes Again”, U2’s “Beautiful Day” and Grateful Dead’s “Bird Song”) and I played around with them a bit and decided that my best bet was Bird Song.
But I was defeated. I couldn’t figure out the main lick that goes throughout the song, or what do in the verse, and so on. I kept hacking at it but had to give up.
Now, a few years have passed, my chops keep getting better a tiny amount at a time, and I’m getting more confident in playing and singing live (I had planned to layer up a track for her and was only doing audio at the time), I decided to try to work out Bird Song again and discovered that I was able to break it down and arrange it (somewhat) for the uke!
I’m still working on it, especially putting it across, playing the lick that overlaps the singing a bit, and what to do in the weird solo section, but I did manage to give J her birthday present, just a few years to too late, yesterday, and now I’m sharing two takes more publicly.
I’ll keep working on this one.
Before applying the electrodes to the heart of the typewriter yesterday my last post here was about an experiment I started last July of posting videos of myself playing and singing songs to YouTube.
That’s really where my “blogging” energy has been since then, as I have built of quite a body of performances. It’s great having them out there and the feedback has been more encouraging than I’d hoped for, but I still feel like these things all need to be posted here, too, and organized by song, with the good takes highlighted, or something like that.
Or maybe I’l build out pages on my wiki and just like from here. Not sure.
Anyway, here’s my latest. I’ve got an arrangement for the Hunter / Garcia song “Loser” on ukulele that’s starting to come together: