Jump on the jam bus

Boris Garcia enjoying bringing its bluegrass/Americana fusion to the people

Though the Grateful Dead is an influence, Philly-based Boris Garcia’s name is not a Jerry Garcia reference. From left: Stephe Ferraro, Jeff Otto, Bob Stirner and Bud Burroughs

Though the Grateful Dead is an influence, Philly-based Boris Garcia’s name is not a Jerry Garcia reference. From left: Stephe Ferraro, Jeff Otto, Bob Stirner and Bud Burroughs

Photo By becca stirner

KZFR presents Boris Garcia, David Nelson Band and David Gans Sunday, Nov. 20, 5 p.m., at Manzanita Place. Tickets: $25, available at KZFR, Lyon Books and Music Connection. www.kzfr.org.
Manzanita Place
1705 Manzanita Ave.

Manzanita Place

1705 Manzanita Ave.
Chico, CA 95926

(530) 343-5617

There’s a discernible contentment on the telephone when conversing with Bob Stirner. The guitarist and songwriter will lead his band, Boris Garcia, in a KZFR tripleheader benefit at Manzanita Place in Chico on Sunday, Nov. 20, and unlike many music acts that might hit the road with grand visions of fame and fortune, his band’s expectations these days are modest. With a lot of touring miles with several bands on his own odometer, Stirner for one is pleased and comfortable to be traveling on a low budget and playing small venues, and as 2011 winds down, Boris Garcia is organically bringing its music to the people, and enjoying the mission.

“We’ve all been kicking around for a long time,” Stirner said from just outside Philadelphia on Halloween night after tending to his two sons’ costume and candy needs. “When we started this band six years ago it was very bohemian and all over the map of musical idioms and styles. We collaborated and started writing tunes, refusing to be typecast. We like to think that at 50-something or 40-something we have something to pass along. You [have] heard it all before, but have you really?”

Kind of like a football wide receiver who makes a catch and then creates room to run, Boris Garcia is adept at taking a structured song and then finding openings through which to jam. Its instrumental inventiveness is a bluegrass-Americana fusion featuring runs on the mandolin and dobro.

Some songs likely to make their way to the Chico stage will come from Today We Sail, the band’s latest, a mature collection of sensitive and intriguing tunes that was engineered by Railroad Earth’s Tim Carbone.

The song “Walking Barefoot” gives some insight into Boris Garcia’s understanding and appreciation of its place in the world. “There’s a line that says, ‘Everybody thinks I’m crazy but that’s probably OK,’” Stirner said. “We’re nuts. We’re not making a lot of money. But we’re following a muse and living a dream. Sometimes you have to put blinders on and keep walking down the path.”

For the record, the band’s name is not a reference to Jerry Garcia. Instead, the moniker is a play on East meets West, as their music could go anywhere from Russia (“Boris”) to Mexico (“Garcia”). Stirner did point out, however, that Jerry Garcia’s Grateful Dead is an influence. “There’s no hiding the fact that we dwelled in that world and are still encouraged by that stuff,” he said.

The Chico triple bill also will feature headlining Bay Area improvisational veterans the David Nelson Band and solo artist David Gans.

Gans is a Bay Area mainstay who, in addition to being a performer, is a successful music journalist, author and host of the long-running, nationally syndicated Grateful Dead Hour radio show. Accompanying himself on his own loop-based instrumental compositions, Gans’ live material comes from “several dozen original songs, and some favorites from the Grateful Dead and other catalogs,” he wrote via email.

Gans—who called the headlining David Nelson Band “the best jam band in the world these days”—said that he was thrilled to be part of the Chico show.

“Boris Garcia is a favorite. Terrific songs, mostly by Bob Stirner and Jeff Otto, adding a bit of Beatle-ish pop to an Americana-ish sound. Bud Burroughs, the band’s secret weapon, is a monster on mandolin and keyboards. I have shared many stages with them and enjoyed every minute.”

Stirner also said that they’re pleased to be doing a show in support of community radio station KZFR. “If anyone says radio is dead or doesn’t mean anything, they don’t know what we know.”