Trixie Garcia, daughter of the late Grateful Dead founder Jerry Garcia, was among the 40,000-plus fans who were brought to tears at the first Fare Thee Well concert on June 27. It was there, high above the stage where the “core four” (Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann) performed alongside Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio and keyboardists Bruce Hornsby and Jeff Chimenti, that a perfect rainbow appeared.
“I was taking pictures of the crowd and everyone was crying,” Trixie Garcia tells Billboard. “It was the most amazing moment. It was twilight and there was this wonderful purple fuzziness over everything.”
Garcia, who was 20 when her father died in 1995, often finds herself in the position of comforting fans, and Saturday night was no exception.
“For the most part, it’s tears of joy,” she says of fans’ typical reaction to being in her presence and certainly her father’s. “It’s an amazing thing to be a part of — a stadium floor of love and good vibes and so many other positive changes going on in the outside world last week with gay marriage and healthcare… It’s powerful, transformative energy for, like, humanity.”
Trixie, who watched most of the show from the soundboard with her mother and sisters nearby, adds that her father’s presence was “absolutely” felt. “How could you not when there’s 50,000 people channeling him?”
In fact, she reveals, the Jerry Garcia estate had explored the idea of projecting a Jerry hologram during Fare Thee Well, which kicks off a three-night Chicago run on July 3. “We came very close to making the Jerry hologram,” says Garcia. “I met with people and was very interested in trying to make the Jerry hologram where he appears for a couple seconds — like a rainbow.” Complications over extending the license to other uses (like a tour) plus the time and effort required to pull off the technological feat, turned out to be prohibitive in the end. “It just didn’t work out,” she adds. “It was too much.”
Besides, there’s plenty to look at onstage, between the top-notch musicianship and the psychedelic visuals. What was Trixie’s experience during the first shows? “I’m in production mode so I’m looking at Trey and hoping he’s not feeling weird, and that Bruce gets a good shot on the video monitor. When I sit down and listen to the music, it gets very emotional very fast so I have to distract myself with other things.” (Among those distractions: shooting photos and videos for the estate’s partnership with Magisto.)
Asked whether she’d ever see the day come when the Grateful Dead would play again, Trixie offers that she had a feeling something was coming, but gives all credit to promoter Peter Shapiro. “Pete is the guy who was able to do it. I had always hoped because all the guys are still around and playing music and it’s been a time of nostalgia for everybody and here we are thanks to Pete. He is really the one. He is magical.”
As for what to expect in Chicago? Trixie, who says she’s seen a few Phish shows in recent years, seems to agree with the consensus that Anastasio was holding back, but doesn’t fault him one bit. “People were saying they thought he was being timid but there’s a lot of great musicians on stage and the mark of a good musician is not trying to hog all the stage time. He’s a conscientious guy and I hope by the 4th he starts being a little pushier.”