Trixie Garcia: Comes A Time

Dean Budnick on August 3, 2022
Trixie Garcia: Comes A Time

 “I’m still recovering from Red Rocks,” Trixie Garcia says with a laugh, a few days after attending the Jerry Garcia 80th Birthday Symphonic Celebration. Born in 1974, the daughter of Jerry Garcia and Carolyn “Mountain Girl” Garcia has taken an active role in the family business over the past few years, including the development of the Garcia Hand Picked cannabis brand. She notes, “All I can do is try and get out of the way and facilitate sharing Jerry’s great music and deep mind. None of us have kids, so we’re trying to make plans to steward his legacy into the distant future.”

Since you just mentioned the Red Rocks show, can you recall your father ever talking about working with an orchestra?

Jerry’s oldest daughter Heather, with his first wife Sara, is a concert cellist. Prior to his death he was working with her on bringing some of his music to a symphony.

So this is a natural progression of his career. He was branching out. He was getting into movies. He was looking at the symphony thing. He was making art. He had all these interests. As an artist he was always discovering things outside of music that were inspirational. There’d always be a wave of people backstage who had the coolest stuff, like the first guy that was printing holographic stickers or someone who traveled with a roving submarine. [Laughs.] There was all sorts of wildness and Jerry would just be so inspired and interested.

Jerry was a very worldly guy, super smart, very charming, very interested in people. He grew up sitting at the end of the family bar listening to sailors tell their tales of woe. He had this global view on things that was really interesting, growing up in San Francisco in the ‘50s. He was an amazing thinker and part of my job is to bring the fullness of his personality to the front.

It seems like we’re finally in an era when the media is willing to talk about his creative output rather than focusing on “Jack Straw” in the parking lot.

I’m really glad that Jerry and Hunter are being regarded as great American musicians at this time. The look at him is becoming more sophisticated because he was a sophisticated intellectual. He had a dynamic mind and this music is so timeless and wonderful that I’m excited for more people to sit down and listen to it seriously, because this is his life’s work.

There was a time when the phenomenon of the fan base and what the fans concocted in response to the Grateful Dead, turned a lot of people off from even giving the music a chance. There are so many more layers to this whole thing beyond Jack Straw and his dog out there in the lot selling space cakes.

Now we’re not only able to portray Jerry as the great composer that he was, but I’m glad that can happen while the fans are still doing their thing. They’re out there having their ecstatic experiences at shows. It’s a testament to the healing power of music. There’s some real stuff going on. That might sound like hippie mojo or whatever, but it’s real. I’ve spent my life looking out into the crowd and seeing people, full on weeping or dancing ecstatically without a care in the world, experiencing that inspiration.

Justin [Kreutzmann] has emphasized that his film [the forthcoming Jerry Garcia documentary] won’t be a hagiography and points to the honesty of your family. I imagine you agree with that approach.

I think it’s awesome because I’m not here to paint a bullshit portrait of my father. The real thing is fucking awesome and it can’t be rainbows and lollipops all the time. It’s warts and all because that’s the reality. Humans have highs, they have lows, they have good days, they have bad days. It’s the whole spectrum. So if you want to take a real look at someone, you’ve got to be able to see the dark parts too.

In looking at some of the film materials, I noticed a copy of The Stand that Stephen King signed for Jerry. Do you recall if they ever connected directly?

I don’t remember the meeting, but it doesn’t surprise me. Our family loved scary movies. That was something that we all did together. So Stephen King books were a great conversation piece in our house. I also remember Jerry took us to Nightmare on Elm Street when it came out, stuff like that. He loved the freaky, the sci-fi, the thrillers. A lot of what he did when he got off the road was catch up on movies and all that stuff. It goes back to when he was a kid and his favorite was Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.

As work continues on the documentary, have you happened upon any new footage that has astounded you?

We’ve uncovered some homemade film of Hunter and Jerry. This is way before my time, so I’m able to see the sweet kind of family unit they all were in during the late ‘60s, really living the dream, trying to do the commune and all that kind of stuff. It was really endearing to see the kids and wives together, just being silly people. There were so many different chapters to his story, so I got a good peak inside this chapter where my sister Sunshine is the baby and everyone is being idealistic.

Trixie’s dad and mom, El Camino Park , Palo Alto, Calif., 7/2/67 (© Ron Rakow/Retro Photo Archive)

That reminds me of the photo Ron Rakow took of your parents lying in the grass, which I’d never seen before.

I had never seen anything like that either. I’d barely ever seen photos of them together. So to see them in love and canoodling in the sunbeam, that’s a beautiful photo.

By the time I came along, we didn’t take pictures of him when he was off the road. We weren’t going to sit around and make him do a bunch of stuff. So we don’t have a lot of family photos after a certain point because we wanted to be in the moment.

As various people ramp up to celebrate Jerry Garcia at 80, what does that mean to you?

To imagine him as an 80 year old guy, I think he would still have that magic in his eyes, that inspired look on his face. He’d still be seeking out those things that turn him on.

As far as his musical legacy, what are we waiting for? New fans are showing up and it’s more than music as well. In a weirdly divided nation, I want to make sure people can see that there’s an option for a more inspired and loving lifestyle than the weird hate-filled indoctrination that’s going on out there.

So that’s the current political theme, but as far as Jerry as a musician, this is a true historical figure. He’s the real deal, a great American hero.