Into the great unknown
Once More Into the Bliss (Dig Music)
ESSENTIAL "She Wasn't Born to Follow"
No, this is not a family relation to the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia. It's the name of a band that has learned from that era and pushed it forward with a graceful, jamgrass touch. The music echoes a cross between the acoustic-sided Dead of "American Beauty" and the hedonistic pleasure cruise of New Riders of the Purple Sage. In fact, former Dead backup singer Donna Jean Godchaux-MacKay and New Riders pedal-steel ace Buddy Cage are along for the trip. But the core of the Philly-based Boris Garcia is three singer-songwriters - Jeff Otto, Gene Smith, and Bob Stirner - who each bring striking skills to this project. Stirner's "She Wasn't Born to Follow" (a clever play on a Byrds song) is a great, mandolin-laced tune about a woman who answers to her own muse. Otto's "Riverman" suggests Harry Chapin's "Taxi" with lyrics influenced by Hermann Hesse's "Siddhartha." Adding color are uilleann pipes, Mellotron, and bouzouki. It's an album that the real Jerry Garcia might have loved. [Steve Morse]