ABOUT OUR COVER PHOTOGRAPHER
If the name David Gans rings a bell, it may be because he’s contributed articles and photos to this magazine, was interviewed in our Harvest 2008 issue by Mary Tilson, the popular host of KPFA’s America’s Back Forty, and is a familiar performer at Oakland’s Grand Lake Farmers’ Market. But David is far better known in the wider world as a musician, journalist, and famous chronicler of the Grateful Dead. At the time of this interview, he had just returned home to Oakland from a 12-day tour of the Midwest during which he performed original material and hosted the SiriusXM broadcasts of the Grateful Dead “Fare Thee Well” shows in Chicago.
Edible East Bay: How did you first get into performing at the farmers’ market?
David Gans: A friend suggested I apply. I play there two or three times a year. I love it.
EEB: How did you come to appreciate good food and why?
DG: It started when I met my wife, Rita. Her Italian family cherished good food, and she was part of a collective that started San Francisco’s Inner Sunset Community Food Store in the mid-1970s. The store’s focus was on organic produce.
EEB: Tell us about your profession and what you’re working on right now.
DG: I have been a working musician since I was 16. I took a long detour into music journalism—interviewing musicians, producers, engineers, executives, etc.—which provided an income and a million-dollar education. My interest in the Grateful Dead led to a book contract and thence into the radio business. About 15 years ago I began touring. With several self-published records, I have seen enough success to merit continuing and have been able to avoid holding a “real” job for almost 40 years.
I am now recording a solo album of Grateful Dead songs, and my book hits the streets on November 10: This Is All a Dream We Dreamed: An Oral History of the Grateful Dead, a collaboration with my Oakland neighbor Blair Jackson.
DG: I had a Brownie at a pretty early age and started doing darkroom work as a teenager. With my Nikon SLR (a 21st birthday gift), I launched a freelance career and sold photos along with interviews and articles.
Once I got into radio, I did a lot less journalism and music photography … until I got a digital camera! Now I never go anywhere without a camera (and phone-cam) in my pocket. I love taking photos of weird-looking produce and other sweet sights at the markets. I named my last record The Ones That Look the Weirdest Taste the Best, a line from my song about the Grand Lake Market, “The Bounty of the County.”
EEB: Did that hornworm on our cover eat a quarter of that tomato all in one sitting? And how did you feel about it?
DG: Not being the gardener, I don’t take pests as seriously as Rita does. I just enjoy the fruits of her labor!
Rita Hurault: YIPES! and COOL! were my reactions, and then yipes again. I looked around to see if there were any others and then sent the picture to friends who are avid gardeners and naturalists. It was late in the season, and I’d harvested most of my tomatoes by then. I think the worm may have gone with some kids to school for show and tell. No signs of another this year, thank heavens.