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David Grisman: “Shady Grove” and “Russian Lullaby”

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Long time Jerry Garcia collaborator David Grisman is a singular talent. Wikipedia does its usual solid job of starting its profile with a nice roundup of Grisman’s unique contributions:

David Grisman (born March 23, 1945 in Hackensack, New Jersey) is an American bluegrass/newgrass mandolinist and composer of acoustic music. In the early 1990s, he started the Acoustic Disc record label to help spread acoustic and instrumental music.

Grisman grew up in a Conservative Jewish household[1] in Hackensack, New Jersey.[2] He started his musical career in 1963 as a member of Even Dozen Jug Band. His nickname “Dawg” was affectionately assigned by his close friend Jerry Garcia in 1973 (the two met in 1964 at a Bill Monroe show at Sunset Park in West Grove, Pennsylvania). “Dawg Music” is what he calls his mixture of bluegrass and Django Reinhardt/Stéphane Grappelli-influenced jazz, as highlighted on his album Hot Dawg (recorded Oct. 1978, released 1979).[3] Stephane Grappelli played on a couple of tracks on Hot Dawg and then the 1981 recording Stephane Grappelli and David Grisman Live. It was Grisman’s combination of Reinhardt-era Jazz, bluegrass, folk, Old World Mediterranean string band music, as well as modern Jazz fusion that came to embody “Dawg” music.[4] (Continue Reading…)

Anything even remotely connected to the Grateful Dead is well chronicled, perhaps to a fault. The Garcia/Grisman relationship is no exception. Here is the first paragraph of an amazingly detailed recounting of the work the two did together:

Jerry Garcia and David Grisman first met in the parking lot of a bluegrass festival in West Grove, Pennsylvania in 1964. They were both members of Old & In The Way in 1973 and performed together occasionally in other situations. They started performing and recording together in 1990 usually supported in concert by Jim Kerwin (bass) and Joe Craven (violin, percussion). Subsequently they performed live occasionally but recorded many sessions at David Grisman’s Dawg Studios (at least 40 sessions according the David Grisman). The majority of their recordings are drawn from those studio sessions. (Continue Reading..)

Grisman is touring. Above is “Shady Grove” performed by the David Grisman Bluegrass Experience. The notes say that the performance is in 2010 and guitarist Beppe Gambetta is sitting in. Below, Grisman joins Garcia for Irving Berlin’s “Russian Lullaby.” The video quality is pretty bad and it’s more Garcia than Grisman. But is an intense performance of one of the truly great songs.

(Homepage Photo: Eric Frommer)


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Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.