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David Gans

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Biography

Folklore stretches across generations. Satire sharpens the mind. And political humor lingers like a nasty boil on a hot summer day. So why did folk music fall out of grace in America after its heyday in the 1960s? Well, David Gans, chief Deadhead best known for his nationally syndicated radio show Dead to the World, showed throughout his music career in the California Bay Area that there's still a place for self-expression in well-spun songs about family life, death, and itinerant Deadheads. Gans dusted off his acoustic guitar in the mid-'90s with the aim of resurrecting his music career. Most of the music he had performed as a soloist earlier in his career fell into the folk idiom, but he started to perform improvisational and jam music with a full band starting in 2001.

Gans first became a fixture on the Bay Area music scene in the '70s. After traveling across the country setting up computer ticket systems for BASS in 1976, he turned to journalism, writing for MIX Magazine and BAM and serving as West Coast editor for Record Magazine. During a 1985 radio promotion for his first book Playing in the Band: An Oral and Visual Portrait of the Grateful Dead, he played some rare Grateful Dead tapes and eventually took on the long-running KPFA radio show The Grateful Dead Hour.

Gans became a noted author, having also written Conversations with the Dead (which he revised in 2001 for an updated edition) and edited Not Fade Away: The Online World of Jerry Garcia.His musical credits ranged from producing Stolen Roses: Songs of the Grateful Dead to co-producing the Grateful Dead's certified gold boxed set, So Many Roads (1965-1995) and Might As Well: The Persuasions Sing the Grateful Dead. Gans, however, felt his "Mr. Deadhead" identity had about run its course in the mid-'90s and he refocused his attention on his first love, performing and recording acoustic music. In 1997, he and Eric Rawlins released their CD, Home by Morning, which featured guests Bobby Black and David Grisman. That same year, he worked weekly with a rotating cast of composers and musicians known as the Broken Angels, which made a splash with Gans' satirical song, "Monica Lewinsky." Gans revived his solo career in June 1998 at the Heartland Café in Chicago. His 2001 activities as a solo musician paralleled the genesis of his 2001 song "Sovereign Soul." Gans released Solo Acoustic CD on Perfectible Recordings in 2001.

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