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Let’s Pick-John Cipollina

Don’t know if DaKine covered this, but Aug. 24 was the birth date for legendary rock guitarist John Cipollina, of Quicksilver Messenger Service fame (also Copperhed, Terry & The Pirates and more).

This is a fine collection of John C pictures, set to Dino’s Song, and you can hear John’s licks thruout the tune . . . that twanging, ringing note bending tone only HE could get with that famous QMS horn array built into their amps (yep, built by Stanley Owsley, of Greatful Dead Wall fame, and other electronic and ‘spiritual’ fame).

In MY opinion, the following tune remains perhaps one of the greatest instrumental rock (albeit jazzedup) songs of all time, showcasing John C and Gary Duncan trading licks and just killin it. John C’s work is easy to identify, it’s the ‘heavier’ of the two gits, rings more, has more distortion . . . John C as his finest.

It comes from the first QMS album SO long ago, and I’m honored to have heard them do this only once, live, in the basketball gym of College of San Mateo, CA, I was about 15, making that about ’68 for the show. QMS quickly went under lots of changes and that song fell from their performance catalog. I can still hear them QMS horns ringing with this song, LeSigh that was grand.

On this next vid, John C’s coarse, rough, raspy tone almost doesn’t fit the sitch but at 1:18 in, Jerry Garcia points his finger at John, and just WATCH this solo as John demonstrates some licks at 2:24 you just never saw him do, remarkable.

At 6:40 Bobby Weir rips out some nice slide work, another reason to watch this the whole way thru.

Here’s a fine clip from about the ReUnion time from Winterland in ’75. While not Duncan/Cipollina centric it DOES showcase Dino Valenti (who many claim ruined the band), Gary Duncan shows why he’s still one of the best gits no one ever heard of (and does a great Cippolina impression at times with the bent notes and growly git), and John C comes in about 4:28 with his works. A more pop phase in the guys, but hey, that’s what Dino Valenti was all about. Michael Lewis on keys . . . don’t know WHERE he came from, but he is tearing this show UP, baby.

Also from that ReUnion at Winterland easily my fav Valenti QMS song and performance tune, Gypsy Lights. It just rocks. John C does more fill work, watch and listen closely as he plays 2nd git to Duncan and gets ‘er done, SOLID!

Here’s one I delight in, a pure and simple blues jam which QMS just did NOT do all that much . . . John and Gary go off on it, as does the bass player and whole band! I SWEAR, Dino channels Eric Burdon . . . 😉

NO Cipollina tribute or mention of QMS would be complete without Mona/Who Do You Love . . . . and rather than repeat the 2nd album tracks of same, let’s just let the boys rip it off at that last Winderland 75 Gathering, as they rock us into our past and memories.

Heh, at about 3:10 Duncan goes all modal on it, like East/West with Bloomfield/Bishop! Kewl! Cipollina comes alive at 4:40. Growling! Just GROWLING! His finger style work is just superb, fast and furious in places doing rolls like a dobro or banjo player . . . LOVE watching his pickin hand.

Here’s Mona.

Here’s Who Do You Love, in progress as described.

Duncan at 1:20 . . .Cipollina just GROWLING behind him.

At 5:18 John lights it up. Epic rock finish and they even let Dino take a lead break.

What can I say, it was John C’s birthday, and I miss him prowlin n growlin the stage. Thanks for all the music John, rock on.

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Ex hippie/chef with years of radio/tv experience (separate from chef/hippie) buys a dobro, discovers festing, and goes to Strawberry Music Fest to pick with 5,000 of my best friends twice a year. What?! There's a main stage with bands? I never knew!!!

Shut Up And Pick!