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The Persuasions


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guest artists

Jackie LaBranch (r), and Gloria Jones are veteran Bay Area singers chosen by Jerry Garcia to join his band in the early '80's. They became the harmony voices for the longest running version of the Jerry Garcia Band, remaining with Jerry until his passing in 1995. They continued for a time with keyboardist Melvin Seals' "JGB," and have appeared on Ratdog guitarist' Mark Karan's album, "Walk Through Fire." Their radiant voices appear on seven songs on
Persuasions of the Dead
Country Joe McDonald is the founder of the legendary San Francisco band, Country Joe and the Fish, and author of the premiere anti-war anthem of the Vietnam era, "Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag." Joe grew up in El Monte in Southern California, learning to play rock 'n' roll and folk and blues, before a stint in the U.S. Navy followed by a move to Berkeley, California. There, in the remnants of the Free Speech Movement and the beginnings of the anti-Vietnam protests, Country Joe and the Fish was born. Joe went on to record dozens of solo albums, and to become a good friend of military veterans through innumerable appearances at fund-raising concerts for veterans' groups. He has also become a well-respected scholar and lecturer on the life of Florence Nightingale, and has put together a tribute show about the heroic nurse. Aside from performing concerts from his enormous body of work, Joe also tours with an extensive tribute to the life and music of Woody Guthrie. A longtime friend of the Grateful Dead, Country Joe and Jerry Garcia appeared on four songs on Joe's 1990 album, Superstitious Blues. Also a longtime friend of The Persuasions, Joe invited the group to join him on his anthem, "Doo-Wop-Oh," on his 1979 album, Leisure Suite. The Persuasions, who recorded his "I'm So Glad (I've Got Skin)" on their children's album, On the Good Ship Lollipop, dedicated the album partly to Joe.

Mark Karan is best known for performing with the extended Grateful Dead family. For the last twelve years, he has anchored the lead guitar slot in Bob Weir & RatDog, playing hundreds of shows to thousands of fans year-round. Before crossing over into the land of the Dead, Mark worked his guitar and vocal voodoo for the likes of Dave Mason, Delaney Bramlett, the Rembrandts, Paul Carrack, Huey Lewis, Jesse Colin Young and Sophie B. Hawkins. Mark’s debut album, “Walk Through the Fire” was released in 2009 to critical acclaim, and features very special guests Delaney Bramlett, Bill Payne, Mike Finnigan, Pete Sears, John Molo, Hutch Hutchinson, The Persuasions, The Rowan Brothers, and many more. He is in demand as both a studio musician and producer, having produced numerous albums for other artists, and recorded or composed a wide variety of music for film, television, and music libraries. His contributions to TV alone can currently be heard on over 15 networks and internationally in over 25 countries.

Peter Rowan is a Grammy-winning bluegrass singer-songwriter with a career spanning over five decades. From his early years playing under the tutelage of bluegrass patriarch Bill Monroe, and following his stint in Old & In the Way with Jerry Garcia and subsequent breakout as both a solo performer and bandleader, Rowan has built a devoted, international fan base through his continuous stream of original recordings, collaborative projects, and constant touring. Among Rowan's many time-honored compositions are " Midnight Moonlight" and  the haunting "Mississippi Moon," both recorded by Garcia. Rowan performs internationally as a solo singer-songwriter, while stateside he plays in three bands: the Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band, a quartet featuring Jody Stecher, Keith Little, and Paul Knight; The Peter Rowan & Tony Rice Quartet; and his rocking band, The Free Mexican Air Force.
Dongming Qiao has played the plaintive Chinese instrument, erhu, since early childhood, when he was considered a prodigy. His career was thwarted by the so-called Cultural Revolution, when he was sent away to a distant farm for about fifteen years of manual labor. Resuming his career as an adult, Dongming became a street performer in Beijing. He moved to the United States a few years ago, where he became a fairly regular performer at Santa Monica Place, and on the streets of San Francisco. His solo on Persuasions of the Dead constitutes his recording debut. He has since returned to China.

James King is one of LA's most versatile and accomplished young saxophonists. Since graduating from California Institute of the Arts' Jazz Studies program, he has gone on to work with artists as varied as De La Soul, Sara Bareilles, Ry Cooder, and Joe Bataan. He has shared the stage with luminaries such as Tony Bennett, Ray Barretto, and Al Jarreau. He appears regularly with Jeff Goldblum's jazz quintet, and tours worldwide with pop/soul group Fitz and the Tantrums, of which he is a founding member.
Alyn Kelley is a San Francisco alto who spent eight years with the distinctive Bay Area a cappella group, Mary Schmary (also heard on Persuasions of the Dead.) She now sings with the cover band, Keeping Our Day Jobs, as well as the quirky ukulele duo, lemon juju, and does regular session work. One of her vocal specialties is "voice trumpet," heard on two Persuasions of the Dead songs, including "Don't Ease Me In," in which she re-creates Jerry Garcia's guitar solo from the Grateful Dead album version of the track. She also recently appeared on Drew Pearce's album, Darrington. Her most recent gig, however, has been studying to become a physician in Sacramento, California, where she can be found in her living room trying to compose songs about pharmacology.
Eric Thompson took up the guitar as a teenager in Palo Alto, California in the early 1960's. Among his earliest bands were the Black Mountain Boys (with Jerry Garcia and David Nelson) and Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions (which eventually included Garcia, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, and Bob Weir.) He quickly became nationally known as an exceptional lead flatpicker, winning the World Championship Cup at Union Grove, North Carolina with the New York Ramblers (which also included David Grisman and Winnie Winston) and flying to Nashville, Tennessee to record "Beatle Country" with the Charles River Valley Boys (reissued on Rounder). Eric has recorded several solo albums (including Kleptograss, his latest) and has appeared with David Grisman, George Winston, Mike Seeger. With wife and fiddler Suzy Thompson, the duo have played and recorded together for 35 years. Their latest CD is Dream Shadows, in which they continue their long-standing love affair with the pre-war music of the rural American South, at the intersection of country blues, string band music, and Cajun dance tunes.
Pete Grant is a master of pedal steel guitar and dobro. Aside from designing and playing the ten-string Zephyr dobro (pictured, and heard on Persuasions of the Dead), he has picked and plucked with Jerry Garcia, Eric Thompson, David Nelson, Jorma Kaukonen, Joan Baez, Vince Gill, John Doyle, Paddy Keenan, Willie Nelson, Al Kooper, the Blasters, Stills & Nash, the Dillards, Hoyt Axton, Railroad Earth, the New Riders of the Purple Sage, and the Grateful Dead (on the album, Aoxomoxoa.) A longtime friend of Garcia, they both shared a deep interest in the delights of the pedal steel guitar. Grant's tribute to Jerry may be found here.
Mary Schmary was a Bay Area a cappella group described by Singers.com as "articulate, eclectic, brilliant, soulful, and loopy as heck." Now pursuing separate interests, Cynsa Bonorris (bass), Myriam Casimir (bass), Alyn Kelley (alto, soprano), Desiree Pointer (alto, soprano), spread a cappella wonderment at such Bay Area venues as the Sweetwater in Mill Valley, the Hotel Utah in SF, Freight & Salvage in Berkeley, the Palms in Davis, the Harmony Sweepstakes at the Palace of Fine Arts, the SF Free Folk Festival, the High Sierra Music Festival, live on KPFA, Morgan's Cafe in Monterey, and the Red Vic in Santa Rosa.
Last but hardly least, the late, great Vince Welnick was the last keyboard player in the Grateful Dead. A brilliant player and soulful singer, the Phoenix-born Welnick began playing keyboard as a teenager. Classically trained, he joined a band, The Beans, which eventually morphed into The Tubes. A San Francisco-based theatrical rock band popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s, The Tubes are legendary for live performances that combined quasi-pornography with wild satires of media, consumerism and politics. With the Dead, Welnick co-wrote two new songs with Robert Hunter, and introduced a number of Beatles and Who tunes into the repertory. He once remarked of learning the Grateful Dead song catalogue: "Every song I'd learn was like opening a new Christmas present. I'd go home and listen to tapes and sometimes I'd be so elated that I'd have tears running down my face." Welnick accompanies three works on Persuasions of the Dead. The Persuasions took to him instantly. R.I.P.
Additional Guest Artists may be found on the download-only bonus tracks of alternate mixes and versions (available on iTunes.)  "Sugaree" features David Gans on guitars, "Liberty" features Joe Craven on percussion, and "One More Saturday Night" features Craven, vocal percussionist Andrew Chaikin, album engineer Marc Doten on bass, Rip Rense on cajon (as well as Jackie & Gloria, Mark Karan.)

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