Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Summer of Jerry: Day 2

From left to right:  V. Clements, D. Grisman, J. Garcia, P. Rowan
In yesterday's clip, I alluded to Jerry's underrated yet exceptional talents on the pedal steel and banjo and thought I'd expand on that a bit more today.  In around 1973, Jerry formed Old and In the Way, a bluegrass "supergroup" of sorts, to pay homage to perhaps his first musical passion and the genre that undoubtedly influenced every facet of his diverse career.  The group consisted of Garcia on banjo/vocals, Peter Rowan on guitar/vocals, David Grisman on mandolin/vocals, Vassar Clements on fiddle and John Kahn on bass, all of whom Garcia continued to collaborate with throughout his career.  Up until that time, bluegrass records never achieved much in the way of commercial success, but all that changed in 1975 when the band's eponymous first album was released.  Astonishingly, the album was, and still is, one of the best-selling bluegrass albums of all-time, spending an unheard of 90+ weeks on the U.S. charts (It's true:  I picked up this album a few weeks back and haven't stop listening since).  Unfortunately, little-to-no video footage exists online (at least not that I could find, though the film Grateful Dawg might have some clips), so I'll leave you with an audio clip of the band's rendition of Rowan's "Midnight Moonlight," a tune frequently covered by JGB in later years. I think this song does a stellar job of displaying Jerry's accomplished banjo styling and the band's magnetic allure.

I thought I'd throw in a bonus clip, which is too cool to pass up.  This is brief silent footage of a 21-year-old Garcia (circa 1963) pluckin' away at the banjo.  Most don't realize that the banjo was the first stringed instrument he learned to play.

1 comment:

MusicianMe said...

Too interesting.......