"Furthur has a way of sucking people onto the bus, willing or otherwise .
There was a great interview I think by Jackson on dead.net (?) of JK that was very interesting. He hasn't spent his life copying Garcia. In fact, he makes an interesting comment that unlike a lot of people who play guitar because of the dead, he was already an accomplished violinist and guitar player until he, too, was thrown on the bus. So his background is not copying Garcia. I can't blame him for wanting to play Garcia great. If we are that critical of guitar players, Jimmy Page sucks becaus he played Jimmy Reed note by note in everything he did.
I look at it this way: He plays Garcia the way it should be played- on China Cat, you get the riff the lead should be playing for it to be authentic, on Deal, etc. For all teh other dead incarnations, it seemed the guitar players said, "oh, key of E, I can do that..." But to play lead on Grateful Dead is more than that. On songs like Let It Grow, Music Never Stopped, and the like, where there are those moments where the lead better be in that spot to grab it and throw the music into the atmoshpere - or the song collapses, JK is faithfully there. Where the song goes into (even somewhat) jam or improv, John stays true to the feeling of the song but takes it his own way. I think the one thing he does copy, and I really heard it on this past NYE, is the expressive tones from the electric guitar. It's very nuanced but it really adds a ton of depth to the lead guitar. I don't know what it is, but I like it. I personally think Garcia came with that sound in/around 1981 and I just love it.
Yes. I couldn't agree more...
In my opinion, people are taking the John/Jerry thing way out of context. We are familiar with Garcia on an extremely intimate level... so its easy to think that John is simply "copying" Jerry. Truthfully, musicians become great by studying other musicians... as you said people could say the same thing about Jimmy Page, David Gilmour...
Why do you think Phil and Bobby have been sounding so inspired lately? Its because this music can actually BREATHE again... Grateful Dead music isn't exactly easy to play, there are a lot of subtleties and layered parts and John has studied them for years--he studied his art, what he loves--if he can channel Jerry's phrasing and lines then I perceive that to be a greater testament to his artistry. He writes his own songs (which I desperately want Furthur to play and predict they will in the future--I feel that 'What's Become Of Mary' would work well with the band), has recorded his own albums, and if you listen, he does a lot musically that Jerry wouldn't.
So yes, he plays the lead parts as they originally written and in a way directly inspired by the incredible human-being who created them... again, that is precisely what allows this music the breathe. Id rather have the music thrive then watch it struggle (not to say incarnations of the best weren't great, they were) just so we can all say its "different"...
For the naysayers: Let go to it! Open yourself! The fact that we can make plans to see this music being played by the creators (Rhythm Devils too!) is almost inexplicable!