I saw Michael Hedges in Eugene in the fall of 84 at the Hult Centre. He opened for Garcia. In fact I saw three Garcia shows on that NW tour, the Hult, The Starry Night in Portland (night 2) and at the Capitol Theatre in Seattle. Hedges blew Garcia out of the water that night - sorry to say. In fact Garcia was so hit and miss. The Hult Center was a sterile show, zero energy, but the Starry Night was perhaps the best Garcia I've ever seen - his playing was off the charts - a 20 min Don't let Go, and if someone has a recording of that I'd love to hear it!. Perhaps 100 folks there in a 250+ capacity club. No stage. Garcia just played on the dance floor and it was largely open, like not that many folks there, and then in Seattle he was totally off again. What's a God to someone is a mere mortal to someone else. I don't really believe in guitar Gods, but really Hendrix was like no other on the electric guitar in and out of the studio. He was simply fresh and ground breaking. Garcia on Live Dead - the same, and they say that was Garcia's favourite Dark Star. Clapton is a great bluesman and song writer and interpreter, Gilmore is just so tasteful and creative and a tone monster. Its all good.
And DSO really rocks.
Big deal if Jeff's tone is not exactly Garcia's anyways, and like - well Garcia had so many different tones, some killer and well, some just not that great - so really what is JM supposed to imitate. The guys a great player and doesn't need a 10K replica guitar to play in the biggest Dead Cover band going - now that's pretty cool.