David Gans is a man with many talents. After launching a music career in 1970, Gans became a noted and award-winning journalist born, writing for Rolling Stone, Relix and BAM, while also serving as editor at a few different publications.
In the 1980s, he became a biographer of sorts for the Grateful Dead, writing Playing in the Band: An Oral and Visual Portrait of the Grateful Dead, with Peter Simon in 1985. Soon after, he created a nationally syndicated radio show called The Grateful Dead Hour and hosts a similar show today on SiriusXM.
Soon after Jerry Garcia’s death in 1995, Gans got the itch to start playing music again. He played a string of shows in 1997 and 1998 with Phil Lesh in a band called the Broken Angels. Throughout the last 17 years, he has played in several bands who all paid tribute to his favorite band.
Last year, he released an album of Dead covers, titled It’s a Hand Me Down. The record is bare-bones minimalistic, with Gans giving his takes on such songs as “Loser,” “Deal,” “Terrapin Station,” “Stella Blue” and “Brokedown Palace,” among eight more.
What sticks out most is how Gans strips down some of the Dead’s most cherished songs and serves them up the way he sees them. For a guy with a Ph.D in the Grateful Dead, he’s as qualified as anyone to give an inside perspective at what the Dead’s music means to him.
The soft and serene tracks are perfect background music for a dinner party or solo reading time. Gans’ voice is unique, but similar enough to Garcia’s that you feel that comfortable peace that came with every word the man sang.
Key Tracks: Stagger Lee, Wharf Rat, Looks Like Rain
Here’s Gans performing “Brokedown Palace” in 2011 on Jam Cruise.