|David Gans started out as a musician in 1970, playing guitar and
writing songs and performing both as a soloist and as a member of various bands
around the Bay Area. Then, in a pretty much unprecedented career change, he
became a music journalist. Gans' journalism career was quite successful: he
worked for BAM, a free San Francisco-based magazine, worked for Jann
Wenner's Record from its beginning to its end, and was music editor of
Mix magazine for a while.
Magazine work gave way to book work, and in 1985, his first book, Playing
in the Band: an Oral and Visual Portrait of the Grateful Dead (co-authored
with Peter Simon) about his long-time favorites the Grateful Dead, was published
to much acclaim. While he was working on his second book, Talking Heads: The
Band and Their Music, he produced a show for a Grateful Dead radio show on a
local station, and discovered he liked doing it. Before long, his Grateful Dead Radio Hour was syndicated on
dozens of stations across the United States.
After the passing of Jerry Garcia in 1995, he resumed performing and writing
songs in earnest. With the radio show paying his living, he released a duet
album of himself playing with Berkeley singer-songwriter Eric Rawlins, Home
By Morning, in 1997, backing it up by performing around the Bay Area. This
was followed the next year by a topical single, "Monica Lewinsky," that got a
lot of airplay and publicity and enabled David to expand his touring base. Over
the past five years he has appeared in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago,
Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Lexington KY, Louisville, Atlanta,
Charlotte, Greensboro, Asheville NC, Charleston SC, Richmond VA, Tucson,
Phoenix, Flagstaff, Las Vegas, Seattle, Portland, Eugene, LA, San Francisco,
Fresno, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Duluth, Detroit, Boston, Worcester, and
Burlington VT. He's a regular at the Suwannee
SpringFest and MagnoliaFest, both held
at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak FL, and has appeared at the
High Sierra Music Festival in northern California.
All of this performing deepened the Gans repertoire and made him a better
performer, of course, so in 1999 he began recording his shows, issuing the best
performances on Solo Acoustic in
2001. This features not only his own material (including one of the three songs
he's co-written with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter), but also songs by
Gram Parsons, Steve Goodman, Gillian Welch, and Martin Mull.
In 2002, Gans became one of the first independent musicians to release a DVD.
Live at the Powerhouse
documents a stirring outdoor afternoon performance at a northern California
brewpub, featuring some of his best material and demonstrating his virtuoso work
multi-tracking himself live, using a Boss RC-20 Loop Station.
David hasn't given up the Dead -- the program still airs weekly, and he
co-produced Arista Records' gold-certified 1999 Grateful Dead box set So Many
Roads (1965-1995) and is currently working on a boxed set of Jerry Garcia's
solo work -- but one listen to his music will dispel any thoughts of him as
"that Dead guy."