First, it was in the Chicago-born Grateful Dead cover band he co-founded, Dark Star Orchestra. Then, in 2009, he got called up to the big leagues to play with actual Dead members Phil Lesh and Bob Weir in Furthur.
With that band on hiatus, Kadlecik is in the midst of a six-week residency at Gypsy Sally’s in Georgetown, where he’s revisiting Garcia’s lesser-known work: his ever-evolving side project Jerry Garcia Band. (Active from 1975 to 1995, the band generally featured Garcia backed by an organ player, drummer, female vocalists, bassist John Kahn and the occasional saxophonist.)
Every Tuesday since Sept. 16, Kadlecik and the DC Mystery Cats (an expanded version of his John Kadlecik Band) have been re-creating JGB shows from different eras.
“It’s a completely different canon,” Kadlecik says. “It’s sort of an esoteric flavor, even for Deadheads. Jerry wouldn’t do more than maybe a couple of his own songs in a set.”
Though Garcia’s solo (and JGB) albums featured several songs that would become Dead staples, his live shows were often made up of slow-tempo, jammed-out covers. A typical JGB show might have included soul staples (like “I Second That Emotion”), The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” or Jimmy Cliff’s reggae classic “The Harder They Come.”
“You do see his love for old-school soul classics, Bob Dylan, Beatles — it was the stuff he really wanted to play,” Kadlecik says. “While it doesn’t have as much of the Grateful Dead repertoire, it has a lot of repertoire that touches base with the general mainstream world.”
In that sense, it makes these shows more accessible than a typical Dead cover band.
“While it trades off some of the Grateful Dead niche factor,” he says, “it gains a lot of universal appeal.”
Gypsy Sally’s, 3401 K St. NW; Tuesdays through Oct. 21, 8 p.m., $10.