It’s a Beautiful Day was part of San Franscisco’s burgeoning psychedelic rock scene in the late 60s. Essence of Now comes from the group’s second release Marrying Maiden from 1970. David LaFlamme played a key role in this release, performing as a vocalist, guitarist, and violinist (he was a soloist with the Utah Symphony before the group started). Jerry Garcia provided pedal steel guitar on this release, as he would for seemingly everybody in SF in the 1960s, including CSNY and its component members, Jefferson Airplane, and David Bromberg in addition to his work with the Dead.
Their best known song, White Bird, came from their self-titled debut and while they put out a few more albums they never reached the same level of success. Luckily they left behind these sun-dripped jams.
In the lead up to recording their 1970 release Hooteroll?, Garcia and Wales had a standing gig playing Monday nights at The Matrix in San Francisco. This track is a live recording of one of those sessions released on Grateful Dead Records in 1998 under the title Live Side Trips Vol. 1 featuring Bill Vitt on drums and long-time Garcia collaborator John Kahn on bass. Around that same time, Wales would sit in on organ for the Dead’s sessions for American Beauty. Kahn, Vitt, and Garcia would also joined with Merl Saunders on organ for a number of releases, including this cover of “I Second That Emotion”. An active studio musician, Wales appeared on the soundtrack to Alexandro Jodorowsky’s surreal masterpiece El Topo in addition to live performances with Jimi Hendrix and James Brown. Wales released one album of his own, 1976’s Rendezvous With the Sun. You can find a complete list of his credits on his website. You can also find this amazing picture of him flying an airplane organ:
I’ve focused more on Wales because he’s less known than Garcia and with Jerry I wouldn’t even know where to start. I can say that I’ve really been digging his playing on China Cat Sunflower>I Know You Rider on 12-6-73 in Cleveland lately, but honestly I’ve yet to hear a version of that I haven’t liked.