We love you Barry!
Our lives would be bereft without the gifts you share
and at time when we watch and hear you play, the music of the spheres is heard, and delights the soul.
From "The Best Damn Band You've Never Heard of" by Doug Fogel
..."That year, 1994, the DNB did three tours - two on the East Coast and one in Oregon.
"Gigs, gigs, gigs, gigs, gigs...it was a great tour," Nelson says, "But guess what? You had to brace yourself emotionally because some of the gigs had like, three people...12 people would be common.
"But we'd look at ourselves and say, 'Okay, we'll just keep playing, we can't expect everything, it's a new band.' So we just kept hittin' at it."
After the first couple of tours, he took a cassette tape of band highlights to his good friend Jerry Garcia.
"He's standing there on his big stairs," Nelson recalls. "We're talkin' a little bit and I hand him this tape and he's looking at it with his glasses real close and he says (perfect imitation of Garcia's voice), 'Is this you?'
"He puts it in his pocket, and later on I came and talked to him about it and he said, 'It's really great stuff.'"
Years before, Nelson had given Garcia a tape of his new songs, which featured Nelson playing guitar and singing, with the sequencer filling in the rest of the music.
Garcia had loved it and told him, "You gotta do something with that."
And so now he had with his new band. But the turnouts to their shows were so small! What, he asked Garcia, should he do about it?
He remembers Garcia telling him, "The way I see it, you just keep drawing until the page is all black. And then you tear off that page and you go to the next page and you start a drawing and you keep drawing and drawing and drawing and drawing until it's just covered with ink.
"And then you keep doing that (because) sooner or later somebody's gonna get it, and then when you feel that feeling - someone is getting it - play to them...just play to them."
Garcia's advice had a deep impact on Nelson.
"I thought, 'Wow!'" Nelson says. "That just sums it up, man.
"That's what kept me together in those early days when we didn't have a chance."
While he could have gone out and hired a promoter from the music industry, the band had made a commitment to never sell out to commercial interests.
"Usually when you do that," he says, "what happens is the industry eats you alive, chews you up and spits you out."
Instead they played what they wanted, confident their efforts would be appreciated.
"That's my first thing as an artist," Nelson says. "It has to be based on integrity.
"You've got to be true to your values."
Jasper and Paige MoonDancer had traveled around the country going to Grateful Dead shows for over 15 years. But now they sat in front of a TV, numb. They'd just heard the news that Jerry Garcia had died.
They figured their days of chasing the music as Dead Heads were over.
They packed up their purple touring bus - an old school bus with the top of a VW van welded on top - and headed out of Albuquerque toward Northern California.
It was a long, quiet trip.
David Nelson Band members and some fans pose
with Jasper and Page MoonDancer's touring bus in 1996
Photo courtesy of Dave Roberts
In Santa Cruz, they pulled over and saw an interesting poster tacked up to a telephone pole. It announced that a Ron "Pig Pen" McKernan tribute concert - which they later learned had been scheduled before Garcia died - was to be held at Palookaville in Santa Cruz that evening.
They decided they might as well go, so they parked their bus in front of the venue and hung out.
As showtime drew near, they saw some guys hauling speakers and instruments from a truck, so they helped them unload.
It was David Nelson and his band.
After helping them, Jasper and Paige - still shellshocked over Garcia's death - went inside with low expectations for the show.
But the DNB proved exceptional. Jasper and Paige were thunderstruck and found themselves at the front of the stage, whirling around to the music with abandon.
In the middle of the set, with Sless wailing on guitar and the band jamming for all it was worth, Nelson's microphone fell right into Jasper's hands. He handed it up to Nelson and pointed to his psychedelic bus, which was clearly visible through a window.
"You see that bus out front there?" he shouted up to Nelson. "You're on it!"
He and Paige were rejuvenated. They now had hope that the DNB would fill the music void that Garcia's death appeared to have created.
Now their bus had reason to live.
Some months afterward, Sony TriStar Studios invited them to a private screening of a soon-to-be-released documentary about Dead Heads. It was called "Tie-Dyed - Rock n' Roll's Most Devoted Fans," which prominently featured the couple.
When they arrived, they were delighted to see Nelson there. After the screening, they talked for awhile.
"What did you ever want from Jerry?" Nelson asked them.
"Just a ticket," Jasper said.
Then he told Nelson about their adventures while touring to see the Dead, about picking up every Dead Head hitchhiker they had room for, about how they'd helped him fix their bus when it broke down, about all the brotherhood they'd experienced on the road.
Finally, Nelson said, "You want a ticket? Well, you've got that with me."
When Jasper and Paige got home, they told all their friends about the great new band they had just discovered. Some of them would join the couple on tours to see the band whenever - and wherever - they played."