David Gans is an American musician, songwriter, and music journalist. He is a guitarist, and is known for incisive, literate songwriting. He is also noted for his music loop work, often creating spontaneous compositions in performance. He is the co-author of the book Playing in the Band: An Oral and Visual Portrait of the Grateful Dead, and the host of the weekly syndicated radio show The Grateful Dead Hour. He currently co-hosts a radio show with Gary Lambert on Sirius-XM called “Tales from the Golden Road”, a call in show about the Grateful Dead.
But “skilled solo performer” fills only one page of David’s artistic resumé. Besides playing in all sorts of bands through the years—from the fondly remembered Reptiles to the Honky Tonk Hippies, to his recent forays jamming on Beatles songs with Chris and Lorin Rowan (and friends) in a group called Rubber Souldiers—he’s also sat in with an amazing range of fine musicians, such as Phil Lesh, Donna the Buffalo, Henry Kaiser, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Ollabelle, the late great Vassar Clements, Jim Lauderdale, The String Cheese Incident, Peter Rowan, and moe. He has also written songs with a host of others, including Jim Page, Lorin Rowan, and Robert Hunter.
And his live repertoire is peppered with an incredibly broad (and unpredictable) range of cover tunes by old and new musical heroes. Pressed to list some of his own songwriting influences not too long ago, David reeled off Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Neil Young, Jackson Browne, Steve Goodman, John Prine, CSN, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Mann & Weil, Carole King, Gram Parsons, Elton John & Bernie Taupin, Robbie Robertson, and the Grateful Dead; quite a list. He’ll also tell you that in recent years, as he’s toured extensively and played with so many superb musicians at festivals and in other settings, he’s discovered a whole new generation of songwriters and players who are inspiring him.
As both a player and a fan, he understands the indefinable transformative power of music—how it feeds our very life-force, bonds us together in obvious and unseen ways, teaches us, heals us, makes us better citizens of this fragile planet. A David Gans “solo electric” performance is likely to consist of several elements; country-blues-style fingerpicking, loop-based improvisations, sweetly sung ballads, original or covers, Grateful Dead covers reinterpreted to suit his voice and guitar wriy observations of the music festival subculture and the larger world soulful and passionate political-commentary favorites from the folk rock cannon pf the last 50 years. Mix and match, it’s never the same show twice, but always worth a listen.