inkwell.vue.275 : The Life and Times of David Gans
permalink #76 of 746: uber-muso hipster hyperbole (pjm) Fri 16 Jun 06 14:27
    
"one thing i really like about your performances is that you don't
really remind me of anyone else."

Word.  That's one of the things that hooked me.


David, you have been able to play with a lot of different people.  Who
are your favorites to perform with?  Who did you click with right
away?  Who took you some time to appreciate?
  
inkwell.vue.275 : The Life and Times of David Gans
permalink #77 of 746: David Gans (tnf) Fri 16 Jun 06 15:26
    

Before I get caught up on answers, this news bulletin:

 I just signed up to play the second set at the Nomad Cafe tomorrow night,
 8:30-9:30.  They had a cancellation.

 6500 shattuck Avenue, north Oakland.
 http://www.gypsyspiritmission.com/html/nomad.htm

 No cover!  You gotta buy a drink or a snack or both, tho.

 James Brennan plays from 7:30 to 8:30.
  
inkwell.vue.275 : The Life and Times of David Gans
permalink #78 of 746: Gary Burnett (jera) Fri 16 Jun 06 15:32
    
Excellent!  I hope we'll get an after-show report here!
  
inkwell.vue.275 : The Life and Times of David Gans
permalink #79 of 746: David Gans (tnf) Fri 16 Jun 06 15:40
    

> Any songs you have ever really really wanted to add to your book, but just
> couldn't get to work for you?

I know there are some, but I can't think of one right now.  Let me think on
it for a bit.


> you haven't talked about your photography yet. any artistic influences you
> want to mention there? want to point folks to some shots?

I'm even less organized and scholarly about photography than I am about
music!  I got into it as a kid, developing B&W film from my Brownie at home
and printing contacts in the bathroom.  I got into darkroom work during my
brief and unproductive college career, and photography was part of my first
real job: newsletter editor and staff photographer for the Local 715 News, a
publication of the public employees' union in Santa Clara County.  (My dad
was a member and got me the job.)

I was given a Nikkormat FTn for my 21st birthday, and I used that camera a
lot.  Mostly B&W, and I continued to do some darkroom work thanks to the
rental darkrooms at Looking Glass (in its original location half a mile south
on Telegraph Avenue form its present site).  During my magazine-journalism
years, roughly 1976-1986, I sold a lot of photos along with the writing.

I had a sort of comeuppance when Peter Simon printed some of my negatives for
the book we collaborated on, "Playing in the Band: An Oral and Visual
Portrait of the Grateful Dead."  Looking at the prints Peter had made, it
became clear to me that I would have to spend a lot more time in the darkroom
than I was willing or able to devote to that work.

Within a year or two of that revelation, I started doing the radio show full-
time and pretty much stopped doing the magazine work.  So the market for my
photography was abandoned, and my learning energies went into audio
production instead.  I still took photos from time to time, especially after
I got married and Rita started taking me to amazing places on vacation.  We
shared her film camera for many years.

Then I got a digital camera - the bottom-of-the-line Sony - in 2001 or so,
and I was back into it in a major way.  Next thing I know I had a copy of
Photoshop.  Three cemares later, I'm swinging a Canon G6 much of the time,
and a pocket-sized Canon S50 that I take on the  road so I pretty much always
have a camera with me.

I started posting photos on fotolog, where my friends <kayo> and <arto> were
major players.  You can still see them at http://www.fotolog.com/gansito
But fotolog ran into some serious performance problems, so I followed various
friends over to flickr, which works much better in many ways.   You'll find
my images at http://www.flickr.com/photos/dgans/

I just love it, but I am a totally self-educated photographer, working mostly
by instinct and osmosis.  People tell me I've got a great eye, and it
pleases me that my work is appreciated, but this is something I do pretty
much purely for the love of it.
  
inkwell.vue.275 : The Life and Times of David Gans
permalink #80 of 746: David Gans (tnf) Fri 16 Jun 06 15:43
    

> I notice you do a similar thing with the phrasing in "Lazy River Road"-
> particularly drawing out "hooouuunnd dogs baaay" "truck downshifting its
> looaad". The " bright blue boxcars, train BY train" part, which both Jerry
> and Bobby change key for "BY" you don't do that.

My version of "Lazy River Road" owes a great deal to The Persuasions' reading
of the song, on the CD I co-produced: "Might as Well: The Persuasions Sing
Grateful Dead."   http://www.dgans.com/discography/persuasions/

One thing about my adoption of other people's songs: once I start working on
a song, I stop listenng to the original.  I want to lose as much of the other
artist's interpretation as I can so I can take it into my own space.  So I'll
forget various nuances of the source material in hopes of introducing nuances
of my own.  It's sometimes surprising to go back and hear what I forgot!
  
inkwell.vue.275 : The Life and Times of David Gans
permalink #81 of 746: David Gans (tnf) Fri 16 Jun 06 15:55
    

To both Alan and Peter, who agree that I don't sound like anyone else: that
is very high, and much-appreciated, praise.  Thank you.


> David, you have been able to play with a lot of different people.  Who are
> your favorites to perform with?  Who did you click with right away?  Who
> took you some time to appreciate?

These days my favorite collaborators are the Railroad Earth guys.  Andy
Goessling plays banjo, guitar, fiddle, flute, all varieties of saxophone, and
any number of other instruments; I can get onstage with him and play a full
set of songs he's never heard before and know I'll never trip over him nor
send him sprawling.

The same is true for his bandmates, John Skehan (mandolin), Tim Carbone
(fiddle), and Johnny Grubb (bass).  They're all remendous players with huge
ears, and more than that, they take the same approach I do: we are there in
service of the song.  Each of these players is a storyteller in his own way,
and that's why Railroad Earth - centered on the songwriting and singing o Tod
Sheaffer - is one of my three favorite bands on Earth.  I'm just thrilled
that these guys enjoy playing with me, too, and I will take any opportunity
to enjoy their company, whether onstage or in the audience.

I'm playing a show with these guys in western New Jersey in mid-August.  i
can't wait!

Almost as much as having people sit in with me, I really enjoy an opportunity
to be a support player.  One of my favorite songwriters is Jim Page, from
Seattle  ( http://www.jimpage.net ) - a real old-school troubadour, pinko
queer-lovin' tree-huggin' bleeding-heart moralist/humanist whose ideals are
truly inspiring.  I've done a couple of tours with Jim, where I'll open the
show and then get up there with him to play guitar and sing harmony.  It's
fun to serve someone else's music that way, especially since I do so much
solo work where it's all on me.
  
inkwell.vue.275 : The Life and Times of David Gans
permalink #82 of 746: uber-muso hipster hyperbole (pjm) Fri 16 Jun 06 16:15
    
I thought I would share my review of Solo Acoustic from amazon.com.  I
wrote this over four years ago and I stand by every word of it.

Folk and Acoustic Guitar Fan, March 8, 2002
I am a fan of any acoustic string instrument and David's guitar does
not disappoint me here. He is not afraid to play around a little and
does so regularly but when he needs to get down to business the
technique is there. He has a wonderful humor in his voice that comes
through in many songs. I love the simple styling of "Down to Eugene"
but also the more complex word play of "American Family". It's a
wonderful CD that should please any fan of folk or earthy acoustic
guitar.
  
inkwell.vue.275 : The Life and Times of David Gans
permalink #83 of 746: David Gans (tnf) Fri 16 Jun 06 16:21
    

Thank you kindly, Peter!
  
inkwell.vue.275 : The Life and Times of David Gans
permalink #84 of 746: Laurence Smith (bumbaugh) Fri 16 Jun 06 16:23
    


Laurence Smith writes:

it would be really cool to have a best of Pigpen and
rare Concerts form 1967-1990,maybe rare 1980,Deadheads
from Santa Rosa,California voted on this :} Be WEll
David Larry Smith AT:smithybeat65@yahoo.com
  
inkwell.vue.275 : The Life and Times of David Gans
permalink #85 of 746: David Gans (tnf) Fri 16 Jun 06 16:28
    

Laurence, are you making requests for the radio show, or for CDs you'd like
released?  The latter: not my job!
  
inkwell.vue.275 : The Life and Times of David Gans
permalink #86 of 746: Ruth Allison (tinydancer) Fri 16 Jun 06 23:10
    
>>>I have to believe the addition of “Book of Rules” to the Ratdog
songbook may have something to do with a conversation that Bob, Mark
and I had off the air during their KPFA appearance 5/31. The inevitable
requests for “Monkey and the Engineer” and “My Brother Esau” came in
on the phone, and while some music was playing I put in my own vote in
favor of “Esau.” I recalled a long night at Phil’s house long ago when
Bob explained the song to us, and I also noted that it really took off
after Phil cribbed the bass line from “Book of Rules.” That didn’t get
us an “Esau,” but it seems to have gotten Mark and Bobby interest in
“Book of Rules.”<<<



I'd be interested in hearing about the initial conversation at Phil's
when Bobby explained the song to you, as well as the discussion between
you 3 in the studio. Maybe Book of Rules is easier to teach? He taught
it to the Midnites. But Esau is a hallowed Grateful Dead song. And
both were appropriate for the circumstances (some of which hadn't
happened yet at the time of the interview).
  
inkwell.vue.275 : The Life and Times of David Gans
permalink #87 of 746: David Gans (tnf) Fri 16 Jun 06 23:27
    

I don't remember the long-ago conversation at Phil's.  It was long ago, and
we were all, uh, in a different sort of state.

And regarding the recent conversation w/ Bob and Mark: I put in my own
opinion in support of "Esau" and made that observation about Phil stealing
the bass line from "Book of Rules."  Mark didn't recognize the title of the
song, but I think he recognized it after I sang a bit of the bass line and
mentioned that it was on the Midnites album.  I gather they discussed it
further on the ride back to Marin.

I don't know if the notion of "hallowed Grateful Dead song" has much currency
among the band members as it does out here among us.
  
inkwell.vue.275 : The Life and Times of David Gans
permalink #88 of 746: David Gans (tnf) Sat 17 Jun 06 01:18
    

I just had a thought I'd like to bring up here.  While working on a postcard
for my Farmers' Market gig next week (see http://www.dgans.com/inkwell to
view the image), it occurred to me that photography and Mutilaudio are pretty
much the same thing to me, except for the obvious difference.  Both are ap-
propriative art forms - manipulating existing images, be they visual or
audio.
  
inkwell.vue.275 : The Life and Times of David Gans
permalink #89 of 746: Julieswan (julieswn) Sat 17 Jun 06 01:34
    
I dont have any questions for you, but I am finding this conversation
and window into a musician's process really fascinating. Thanks for the
time and focus you are putting into your answers. 

I'll try to make it tomorrow night at Nomad.
  
inkwell.vue.275 : The Life and Times of David Gans
permalink #90 of 746: Gary Burnett (jera) Sat 17 Jun 06 07:34
    
I have what might be an off-the-wall question.  

As many of us know, the Grateful Dead conference on the WELL just
celebrated its 20th anniversary, and you have been part of that ongoing
conversation from the beginning, David.  How has the WELL fed into
your career and/or work as a artist?
  
inkwell.vue.275 : The Life and Times of David Gans
permalink #91 of 746: Paul B. Israel (pauli) Sat 17 Jun 06 07:59
    
Excellent question jera.  I'm also wondering how your work as a producer has
fed into your work as an artist.
  
inkwell.vue.275 : The Life and Times of David Gans
permalink #92 of 746: David Gans (tnf) Sat 17 Jun 06 14:43
    

> As many of us know, the Grateful Dead conference on the WELL just
> celebrated its 20th anniversary, and you have been part of that ongoing
> conversation from the beginning, David.  How has the WELL fed into your
> career and/or work as a artist?

My time on the WELL has been tremendously beneficial in a number of ways.
Just about all of my more important relationships are with people I've met
here, including my wife.  This is a meeting place for wise, learned, and ac-
complished people in any number of fields; being an autodidact (and a college
dropout), it's been great for me to be brought into contact with so many
people who did finish college.

The media conference, which I cohost, is a sort of collective blog addressing
political and cultural issues.  People post links to news stories and add
their comments, and experts in relevant fields add further knowledge to the
discourse.  Instead of reading the New York Times, the Washington Post, etc.
every day, we are pointed to important stories in newspapers, blogs, TV sta-
tion web sites, etc. from all over the world.

We have a conference for working musicians.  Lots of good information there,
although every one of us would share the same gripe: we tend not to go to
each other's gigs.  But what do you expect from an online community?  Most of
us are here because we spend a good portion of our work days sitting on our
butts.

I guess what I'm saying is that the WELL is a very important community and a
valuable resource, although not necessarily in direct relation to my musical
endeavors.



> I'm also wondering how your work as a producer has fed into your work as an
> artist.

I've really only produced one record - Might as Well: The Persuasions Sing
Grateful Dead.  That was a life-changer in many ways!  Assisting a great a
cappella band in developing an album's worth of songs from the Dead's deep
catalog, and then working with them in the studio to make some real magic
happen - all I can say is, I hope I am able to do that sort of thing again
some time.

My other producing credits have been on compilation CDs of archival Grateful
Dead and Jerry Garcia material.  On "All Good Things: Jerry Garcia Studio
Sessions," I worked closely with a true legend, Tom Flye, on the editing and
mixing of several hours of previously-unheard work.

This link will give you an overview of Tom's amazing C.V.:

http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&searchlink=TOM|FLYE&sql=11:hbfixqt5ld
se~T4

He started out as the drummer for Lothar and the Hand People (!); his credits
as angineer and/or producer include great works by:

Curtis Mayfield
Pharoah Sanders
New Riders of the Purple Sage
Sly and the Family Stone
Rick James
Don McLean
Tower of Power
David Bromberg
Hamza el-Din
Kitaro
Graham Central Station
Delbert McClinton
Joe Ely
Roy Buchanan
Airto
Olatunji
Gyuto Monks
Mickey Hart

I spent several weeks with Tom at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, and it was a
million-dollar education I couldn't have gotten any other way.
  
inkwell.vue.275 : The Life and Times of David Gans
permalink #93 of 746: that's the way ya (druid) Sat 17 Jun 06 22:46
    
Would it be putting you on the spot to ask how the Nomad gig went? 
  
inkwell.vue.275 : The Life and Times of David Gans
permalink #94 of 746: David Gans (tnf) Sat 17 Jun 06 22:56
    

The Nomad gig was fun, as ever.  It's a tiny place, with a very nice little
stage.  A sound systen has been purchased since my last appearance, but I had
to run home to get a microphone cable, and a kind audience member used a
paperback book to tilt the (non-boom) microphone stand toward me so I could
sing without leaning forward at a dangerous angle.

I had an hour to play, following a young singer-songwriter whose taste in
covers was excellent: taht "Waiting to Die" song from the Townes Van Zandt
documentary, and Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."

I was a little rusty, having performed live very little in the last month or
so and having spent the last two weeks preparing for the Vince Welnick
tribute.  I alwayd enjoy performing, and I always learn something, and I'm
always happy if I can connect with even one person.  James, the guy who
played before me, seemed pretty interested in my performance.

I was also happy to see <julieswn>, <reet>, my NOTW friend John, and - just
in time for the last song - <plum>.  And of course, several others whose
names I don't know.
  
inkwell.vue.275 : The Life and Times of David Gans
permalink #95 of 746: Ruth Allison (tinydancer) Sun 18 Jun 06 05:59
    
As interviewer and interviewee, I've heard you turn interviews around
from possible disasters to home runs. What are the elements of a really
good interview? How do you get that to happen when the initial
interview isn't going so well? Which are some of your most memorable
ones (positive and negative)? 
  
inkwell.vue.275 : The Life and Times of David Gans
permalink #96 of 746: Gary Burnett (jera) Sun 18 Jun 06 09:59
    
And an extension of that question: are you still involved at all in
journalism work, other than the blogging approach?  

I know, for instance, that you did some interviewing of people like
Vassar Clements for a documentary about the MagMusic festivals in Live
Oak, Florida.  
  
inkwell.vue.275 : The Life and Times of David Gans
permalink #97 of 746: David Gans (tnf) Sun 18 Jun 06 11:12
    

> What are the elements of a really good interview?

The elements of a good interview are simple, really: journalist and subject
both want to be there and are both prepared.  The interviewer doesn't neces-
sarily have to have an exhaustive knowledge of the subject and/or the work or
event being promoted - after all, the purpose of the interview is to get that
information out - but it certainly is a good idea to know who you're talking
to and what they're doing.  I've done plenty of interviews where I didn't
know as much as I should going in; I don't bullshit my way through, but
neither do I make a big deal of not being prepared.

The best interviews are with people who aren't just there to barf up their
message points and get on to the next one.  They're looking for an interest-
ing conversation, too.


> How do you get that to happen when the initial interview isn't going so
> well?

Luckily for me, I haven't had very many bad ones.  And I can't remember the
details of any bad ones - also luckily for me.

I did print for years before I started doing radio.  I really like doing live
interviews on the air, as opposed to studio interviews that I edit for broad-
cast, and way more than print interviews where I have to transcribe and
redact at great length.  Live interviews happen and they're over (of course,
I often take a live interview from my KPFA show and edit it for the national
program), and all the energy goes into making the subject comfortable and
forthcoming, and keeping the conversation moving.

Twice this year I've had Bob Weir on KPFA - once w/ Ratdog, performing, and
just a couple of weeks ago, Bob and Mark Karan came in just to talk.  Both
times, we took calls.  That's a whole nother kind of fun/terror.  We got some
really stupid calls during the March 1 broadcast, but much better calls (with
one or two exceptions) on May 31.  Being in control/in the hot seat is fun -
dealing with idiots in a sensitive manner can be a challenge, and protecting
the subject from the worst of it can be difficult at times.

I guess the bottom line is, be respectful of all parties.  I feel free to
make smartass remarks sometimes, but always stay well on the safe side of
injecting myself into the discourse to much.  There are plenty of examples of
bad interviewers - I've been the poor schmuck who had to deal with 'em a few
times myself.

I think I'm blithering here, 'cause I don't really have a solid notion of how
it all works.  I've just been doing it for a long time, and I trust my in-
stincts.
  
inkwell.vue.275 : The Life and Times of David Gans
permalink #98 of 746: David Gans (tnf) Sun 18 Jun 06 11:25
    

> are you still involved at all in journalism work, other than the blogging
> approach?

> I know, for instance, that you did some interviewing of people like Vassar
> Clements for a documentary about the MagMusic festivals in Live Oak,
> Florida.

That was great fun!  Beth and Randy Judy commissioned a documentary on the
wonderful festival scene they have grown in Florida over the last ten years,
titled "Music Farmers."  They asked me to help out with the interviews, with
the musicians and also with festival attendees.  (Gary, who asked the ques-
tion, was one of the people I interviewed for the film.)

I think the most important thing that I bring to the task is my own ex-
perience as a musician.  I got a gigantic thrill during my first interview
with Phil Lesh, back in 1981, when he interrupted himself in mid-reply to
say, "Wow, you really have done your homework."  Having listened to that
music, and having played that style of music over a long period of time with
my own garage-band jamband, I was able to ask questions and make observations
that few other journalists could.

Regarding journalism, meaning writing for print, I haven't done much of it
lately because I am concentrating on songwriting, recording, performing, and
my radio gig.  I was always a very poorly-disciplined freelancer, subject to
parralyzing episodes of term-paper syndrome: never even getting started
until the day before the deadline.  I never learned the skills of journalism
except by osmosis and experience, and I never developed the habits nevessary
to do the job quickly and thoroughly and get on to the next thing.  Instead,
I kept it all in my head, hoping to meditate up a perfect lead paragraph I
suppose, and then fretting and thrashing for days to whip it into shape while
editors fumed in New York.

I have actually been smart enough to say no to some assignments recently,
recognizing that the wish to Do It All is a foolish one.  Much as I'd love to
do an interview with this or that guitarist, I know it would take up way more
brain space than I can reasonably allot to it while dealing with an
especially heavy series of radio production jobs (several deaths in GD-land
have given me a lot to do) and trying to get a CD done in time for my sumemr
touring season.

I did say yes to one assignment recently.  Phil Catalfo - another longtime
WELL friend who recently became editor of Acoustic Guitar magazine - asked me
to write a short piece on "How to Be an Opening Act."  That was fun.  It
hasn't been published yet.
  
inkwell.vue.275 : The Life and Times of David Gans
permalink #99 of 746: Gary Burnett (jera) Sun 18 Jun 06 11:40
    
"term paper syndrome" -- I love that.  Take it from me, college
professors suffer from that as well!

It occurs to me that there is a real extension of your journalism work
in your personal endeavours, though.  One of the goals of good
journalism is accurate documentation -- creating and keeping a true
record of something.  I've watched you with your camera on numerous
occasions doing just that, taking pictures until you find just the
right one to record something specific.  The one that sticks in my head
is a picture from Suwannee Music Park, where you were trying to get a
shot of the very dirty feet of a young woman who was dancing near us in
the sand.

It wasn't a big "important" picture, but it certainly did capture an
important element of the feeling of that place and time and was, to
that extent, journalism.  Personal journalism, but journalism all the
same.
  
inkwell.vue.275 : The Life and Times of David Gans
permalink #100 of 746: David Gans (tnf) Sun 18 Jun 06 11:54
    

I hear you.  It's all a matter of refracting the world through our unique
personal lenses in hopes of showing others something they can use and/or
enjoy.
  

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