Move Me Brightly:
Celebrating Jerry Garcia's 70th Birthday

Various Artists

Jerry Garcia would have turned 70 on August 1, 2012, and like most any sort of event in the world of the Grateful Dead, it was a worthy notion for celebration. As other members of the Grateful Dead, especially Bob Weir and Phil Lesh, continue to fly the freak flag, a small friends-and-family-only concert at Weir's TRI Studios in San Rafael, California, took place two days after Garcia's posthumous seven-decade milestone, and filmed for prosperity. The concert serves as the centerpiece of Move Me Brightly: Celebrating Jerry Garcia's 70th Birthday, now on DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

Yes, much of the film, directed by Justin Kreutzmann, is filled with musical performances, but there are also plenty of interviews with family members, band members and other musicians -- some contemporaries, all admirers. Once actor and interviewer Luke Wilson finds the venue, partly thanks to Sammy Hagar (!), things get underway with Weir and an impromptu band that includes Phil Lesh (at least for the first part), Donna Jean Godchaux, Chris Tomson, Phish bassist Mike Gordon, Furthur drummer Joe Russo and keyboardist Jeff Chimenti, blazing through a tasty selection of Grateful Dead tunes, mostly written by and all sung at one time or another by Garcia.

In between the musical sections, there's commentary from a variety of folks -- family members like Carolyn "Mountain Girl" Adams (Jerry's Wife) and her two daughters she had with Garcia, Annabelle and Theresa, along with Sunshine Kesey, 35, Adam's daughter with late author Ken Kesey whom Garcia helped raise; and Garcia's fourth and youngest daughter Keelin, whom he had with former girlfriend Manasha Matheson. Heather Garcia Katz, the guitarist's oldest daughter, apparently opted out of the interviews, maybe even the party, but Garcia's older brother Clifford (aka Tiff) chats it up with Luke Wilson, telling him about accidentally cutting off two-thirds of his younger brother's right middle finger. Deborah Koons, Garcia's last wife, is conspicuously absent from the film and likely the concert.

Grateful Dead drummers Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart participate in the interviews, but are nowhere to be seen at the concert. Neither are Sammy Hagar, Carlos Santana, Mike Campbell, Perry Farrell, Jorma Kaukonen, John Doe and many of the other notable musicians who share their stories and views on Garcia. Still, the music is as Dead-like and jam-worthy as you can imagine. An especially poignant of "Days Between," a song the Grateful Dead played several times in the 90s, but never properly recorded, is a great example of how strong a songsmith Garcia was, even in his final years. Weir's fiercely passionate vocal on the song underscores his commitment to keeping its integrity and intended feel. When it comes right down to it, Move Me Brightly: Celebrating Jerry Garcia's 70th Birthday is a celebration that puts the spotlight on the most important music and the most important people, like Bob Weir, in the guitarist's life.

~ Shawn Perry

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