David Gans | It's a Hand-Me-Down

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Grateful Dead

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Folk: Folk-Rock Rock: Americana Moods: Solo Male Artist
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It's a Hand-Me-Down

by David Gans

A studio album of David Gans' solo interpretations of songs by the Grateful Dead
Genre: Folk: Folk-Rock
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Stagger Lee
4:00 $0.99
2. Lazy River Road
5:45 $0.99
3. Ship of Fools
4:06 $0.99
4. Loser
6:54 $0.99
5. Looks Like Rain
6:35 $0.99
6. Wharf Rat
7:22 $0.99
7. Stella Blue
6:03 $0.99
8. Black Peter
6:33 $0.99
9. New Speedway Boogie
5:41 $0.99
10. Deal
3:59 $0.99
11. Terrapin Station
7:27 $0.99
12. Attics of My Life
4:54 $0.99
13. Brokedown Palace
5:04 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
I have been a musician since grade school, a singer-songwriter-guitarist since 1969, and a working musician since 1970. I became a songwriter at the exact same moment I became a guitar player: when I was 15, my brother set a couple of my “poems” to music and taught me how to play them. As I was absorbing chords and melodies and arrangements from songbooks and records, I was writing songs of my own.

I was turned on to the Grateful Dead in 1972, an event that opened my musical mind up in all directions. Among many other gifts, the Dead demonstrated the power of combining original, borrowed, and improvised material into a narrative of one’s own. I consider the Dead to be an important part of a balanced musical diet.

There’s a lot of Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir in my guitar playing, and a strong influence of Robert Hunter in my approach to songs and stories. In the same way they made “Minglewood” and “Morning Dew” their own, I have sought to sing these Dead songs in my own voice.

I’ve been in the Grateful Dead business for more than thirty years, first as a journalist and then as a radio and record producer, becoming something of a scholar along the way. It made sense to put together a collection of my Grateful Dead “covers” to coincide with the November 2015 publication of This Is All a Dream We Dreamed: An Oral History of the Grateful Dead, written with Blair Jackson.

I am blessed with wonderful collaborators who are also good friends: Jeremy Goody and Jim LeBrecht. Each is a brilliant wizard of Pro Tools and related technologies, each helps to deliver my music through his own uniquely bent frame of reference, and each is great fun to spend time with on creative projects.

The idea here was to make a record that sounds like my “solo electric” performances: guitar and vocal, with some additional layers of guitar made possible by the use of the Boss RC-30 Loop Station. The looper allows me to record the chord changes of a song so I can play a guitar solo, and it also makes it possible to create multi-layered performances of composed and improvised music. “Ship of Fools,” “Loser,” “Stagger Lee,” “Black Peter,” and “Brokedown Palace” feature guitar fills and solos over the chord changes, exactly as presented in my live show (but in this case, recorded in separate passes to take advantage of the editing and mixing capabilities of multitrack recording).

We broke the “rules” of this project here and there.

I switched to an electric guitar for some parts, whereas in live performance I have to do it all with one instrument (which my Rick Turner Renaissance electric/acoustic hybrid does magnificently).

In “Wharf Rat,” we did four takes of a guitar solo in the bridge, expecting to use just one, but we liked what happened when we played them all at once so they’re heard simultaneously in the final mix.

I recorded “Stella Blue” at the Jam Room in Howell, New Jersey. I played the “rhythm” guitar twice, then made two or three passes at the vocal, and then I added some lead guitar. While Jeremy and I were editing it, we were really pleased with the sound of the double rhythm guitars and how well they matched up.

On the other hand, “Lazy River Road” and “Attics of My Life” are pure “solo acoustic”: one voice, one guitar.

Unlike so much pop music, Grateful Dead songs don’t tell you everything they know the first time you meet them. These songs stick with you; they sketch a scene and leave plenty of room for the listener to imagine and interpret. For all the years I’ve been singing these songs, they are still yielding new images and impressions every time I inhabit them.

This music is immortal, as 2015’s 50th-anniversary celebration of the Grateful Dead has demonstrated. The surviving members of the band continue to make great music, and it has been gratifying to see so many younger musicians taking these amazing songs further in a great variety of styles. I am proud to be one of them.


– David Gans, October 2015



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