Move Me Brightly – Documentary Concert Film Celebrating Jerry Garcia’s 70th Birthday, Blu-ray (2013)Performers: Bob Weir; Phil Lesh; Mickey Hart; Donna Jean Godchaux; Mike Gordon; Carlos Santana; Perry Farrell; Sammy Hagar; Mike Campbell; John Doe; Bill Walton and many others. Featuring Luke Wison as the interviewer TrackList: Cumberland Blues; Goin’ Down The Road Feelin’ Bad; Mission In The Rain; Shakedown Street; He’s Gone; Eyes Of The World; Terrapin Station; Days Between; Franklin’s Tower; U.S. Blues Director: Justin Kreutzmann Studio: Eagle Rock Entertainment EV8334749 [10-29-2013] Video: 1.78:1 for 16×9 1080i HD color Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1: PCM 2.0 Extras: Dupree’s Diamond Blues; Friend Of The Devil; Tennessee Jed; Ship Of Fools; Bird Song; New Speedway Boogie Length: 190 minutes Rating: ****1/2
It would be hard to find any rock and roll outfit as beloved as The Grateful Dead. The band evolved from a San Francisco psychedelic house band (the “official” musical group of the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test happenings) into one of the most revered and celebrated acts in the world. At the core of the band was guitarist, songwriter and singer Jerry Garcia. He embraced a wide variety of musical influences (rock and roll, blues, folk, jazz and avant-garde) and incorporated them into Dead material. The fans (forever known as “Deadheads”) became a nomadic community following them from concert to concert. What would seem like a trite stereotype of the sixties was a legitimate industry. As with many stars of this genre, Garcia struggled with drug abuse and other health issues. He died prematurely at the age of fifty-three.
Fellow band member Bob Weir held a commemorative event at TRI Studios in San Rafael, California to celebrate Garcia’s seventieth birthday. Under the stage logo of a left hand with three-and-a-half fingers, Dead members Weir, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart and a wide array of guest stars (including former vocalist Donna Jean Godchaux), performed a concert featuring Garcia compositions. Additionally, there is an all-star lineup of rock celebrities (Carlos Santana, David Hidalgo, Perry Farrell, Stephen Perkins and Sammy Hagar (who contributes a hilarious opening scene “goof”). Far from a generic tribute or “Grateful Dead Experience” the concert is a fresh take on this material. Classics like “Cumberland Blues”, “Franklin’s Tower”, “, “Shakedown Street”, ”Terrapin Station” and “U.S. Blues” are covered with great care along with lesser known cuts like “Going Down The Road Feelin’ Bad” and “Mission In The Rain”. One guest musician remarks how uncomplicated the songs appeared to be, but proved to be musically complex.
There are numerous anecdotes about the band and the San Francisco scene. Carlos Santana recounts seeing Garcia in The Panhandle and is starstruck by the experience. John Doe (from the L.A. band X) discusses the anti-establishment vibe of The Dead (especially their decision to allow their fans to tape any performance on cassettes) and its correlation to the punk scene. David Hidalgo reminisces about Jerry showing up before a Los Lobos gig, and graciously declining an offer to play (so as not to upstage the band). The interviews with his family are very sentimental, but not too revelatory. The viewer learns that Garcia was a workaholic, and played or practiced all the time. Garcia’s brother shares how he accidentally chopped off half of his sibling’s middle finger in a game of “ax-chicken”. The stories go on and on, but are not boring.
The Blu-ray transfer is excellent. The focused images (especially the concert footage) are brilliant and very crisp. The detail is impressive, even studio dust is viewable. The color saturation is excellent. The 5.1 audio is a mixed bag. Guitars and lead vocals are clear and prominent, but backup vocals and minor instrumentation (like a pedal steel) are not as vibrant. Interviews are intelligible, and there are bonus performances, galore. Director Justin Kreutzmann maintains the intended celebratory feel of the event.
The sixties faded… Jerry Garcia and The Grateful Dead didn’t!