SHADY GROVE Jerry Garcia & David Grisman
What a joyful pleasure. I love the sound of great musicians returning to their roots. Especially when it's guys like these. It feels like going home for me, because their roots are exactly like mine. It's Mississippi John Hurt style guitar on "Louis Collins", it's frailing banjo on "Shady Grove," flatpicking on "Stealin'," all songs out of my musical youth as well. All these and the rest of the great traditional material on this disc are done with real style, real soul, love for the old songs, and a sense of humor and camaraderie that give the jam a bounce and a beautiful vibe.
As a closet and fair weather Deadhead (meaning I caught the occasional show and only really listen to Workingman's Dead and American Beauty anymore), I admit I thrill to hearing our late friend Jerry pick and sing these songs, I sure do miss his music. It always seems like there's not much that David Grisman can't play the hell out of on the whole mandolin family of instruments; on this disc, he also plays guitar and banjo. If you're a Jerry person like I see I still am, you'll delight to hear Papa Doc Garcia talking between tunes, it really puts you there in the room. The fraternal chemistry of Garcia and Grisman is a thing of beauty, and of legend.
The fascinating booklet that accompanies this CD is among the best I've ever seen. It's fabulous! John Cohen, one of the most important figures in the early sixties folk scene, sets the backdrop and the timeline for the formative musical years of both Garcia and Grisman, detailing their parallel development on opposite coasts, and their fateful meeting at a bluegrass festival in PA in '64. As one of the founding members of The New Lost City Ramblers, no one knows the whole story better than John Cohen. His lighthearted erudition brought back a lot of beautiful memories. Then there are two pages devoted to each track, with lyrics and pictures and information that's hard to find anywhere. It's a work of art and a labor of love. It was certainly an ultimate companion to this inspiring disc for this listener.
On the second pass, it's a gas listening to these two masters harmonize on "Stealin'," it's killin me. These two have seen and done it all, and it's laid down so simple and so hip, you gotta have it, man.
The other players on this inspiring recording are first rate, naturally. It's mostly Joe Craven on fiddle and percussion and Jim Kerwin on bass. Flutist Matt Earle and autoharpist Bryan Bowers spark a track apiece, and the elusive harmonica legend Will Scarlett plays on the last track, "Down in the Valley." What can I say, I loved it to death. Check out some clips on our Listen page. FG