Sunday, July 18, 2004

From Garchik's column since the earlier link:


Leah Garchik Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Hanging in there, keeping on trucking, musicians and filmmakers, non- grizzled (well, for the most part) veterans of rock 'n' roll emerged from their limos and faced the cameras for in-your-face microphone chit-chat before Monday's U.S. premiere of "Festival Express'' at the Galaxy.

As Joel Selvin wrote, it's a movie about the train that carried the Band, the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and others to a series of festival shows across Canada. There was music, mainly, but there was also liquor, dope (and love-making and "puking,'' as Mickey Hart told me, the latter two activities not captured on camera). There was art, there was camaraderie, but there were no baths.

Thirty years later, the survivors were spiffed up, and red-carpet-ready, with varying interpretations of rock 'n' roll glamour: Bob Weir wore a sport coat, and his wife, Natascha, was in an evening dress ("We are going to a ball, '' said Weir, "I guess this is the equivalent of that''); Mickey and Caryl Hart arrived in well-pressed jeans, but Hart was just as revved up for the occasion. "We were a public service,'' he told me. "We were delivering good vibes, and we were uplifting the populace.''

At a party at the Great American Music Hall after the movie, the Waybacks played, Weir joined them, a bearded man with a scarf whirled around the dance floor, and strangers shared french fries in the balcony. Much of the talk was about Joplin, a ferocious performing presence who died a few months after the festival.

The singer's brother and sister were at the party, Michael Joplin thrilled at footage he hadn't seen before. Hart told me the last time he saw Joplin was when the Grateful Dead played a San Jose show with her and Big Brother and the Holding Company. Her manager, Albert Grossman, was about to "ferret her away'' to the East Coast, where he wanted to make her a bigger star. Grossman "was taking her out of our world,'' said Hart, and he had his arm around her as she looked back over her shoulder and said goodbye in a soft voice. "That's the last time I'll ever see her,'' Garcia told Hart.

Garcia was talking about her career, and probably their friendship (he tells her in the movie he fell in love with her the first time he saw her); it turned out, he was referring to her life. "She was so fragile,'' said Hart.