When the name Jerry Garcia is mentioned it conjures up things like tie dye shirts, Haight Asbury and even multi-colored dancing bears. As the driving force for the legendary Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia is best known for amazing songwriting and unique guitar styles in a musical career that spanned decades.
I’m not sure I was considered a “Dead Head” but I was always a fan of great tunes done well. It would be years later after discovering Bluegrass music and then David “Dawg “Grisman’s music that I had an epiphany, if you will, regarding Jerry Garcia. I learned that David Grisman and Jerry Garcia had been sharing the same passion for old timey and bluegrass since the early 60’s. A lifelong friendship grew out of this passion for music and carried forward till Jerry’s passing years later.
With the birth of “Old and in the Way” in the 1970’s, David along with Jerry, Vassar Clements, Peter Rowan, and John Kahn launched a resurgence in this music which introduced an entire new generation to bluegrass.
After a reunion of sorts many years later, David Grisman had the vision to record amazing acoustic sessions at Dawg Studios with Jerry and others. They went on to create an awesome array of music that otherwise would not be available for all to enjoy. They furthered this legacy by recording numerous compilations with greats such as Tony Rice and many others. Thanks to Dawg, we can listen to the Jerry Garcia few knew. Jerry’s love for all styles of acoustic music, even sea shanties, makes this time of his life “timeless” from the music sense. We will all miss the Grateful Dead days but with the foresight of David Grisman, we have much more to be “grateful” for.
Visit AcousticOasis.com for never before released recording of David and Jerry. You can even treat yourself to an “Extra Large” Edition of the Pizza Tapes with Dawg, Jerry and Tony Rice.
For my first experience at Floyd Fest, I couldn’t have chosen better timing.
2011 marked the 10th Anniversary of this amazing music festival in, one might say, the middle of nowhere. Tucked away smack in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia lays Floyd.
Floyd is a very small town where, up until a few years ago time nearly forgot. That is until the music took over the town and transformed it into place where you can not only experience these great parts of Virginia but also get to hear some of the greatest bluegrass, roots, old timey and newgrass music you thought was only available in the “big city”.
Given the fact that my wife’s family only lives 45 minutes from Floyd made it an easy decision to make that 11 hour trek from Connecticut…not to mention being the personal guest of David Grisman who was appearing that down-right foggy Sunday afternoon. I have been creating graphics for Dawg for a number of years for web sites as well as CD covers for his online site with downloadable music of some very rare unreleased cuts from various artists. (Acoustic Oasis.com) This relationship has given me great opportunities to see David up close with his various bands as well as meeting some of the other greats of music along the way.
On this particular afternoon, David was appearing with the Sextet as opposed to the Bluegrass Experience. There was plenty of bluegrass available throughout the day so the Sextet was just fine with me. Aside from Dawg, The Tony Rice Unit, Peter Rowan and Del McCoury were rounding out that day.
A particular highlight of the afternoon occurred during The Tony Rice Unit set. As guests of David Grisman, my family and I were able to enjoy the festival from the comfort of the main stage, where we had a special vantage point at which to see all the performers. While Tony mesmerized the crowd with his amazing flatpicking, I noticed Dawg coming up the stairs across the stage with mandolin in hand. The two of them had not seen each other for years so this had the potential to be one of those “musical moments”…and it did not disappoint. When David crossed the stage I was anticipating the reaction from the crowd which was unaware of his presence, as well as Tony. Once at center stage the crowd erupted with a roar. To Tony’s surprise the two embraced and broke into some great tunes. It’s not difficult to put this festival in my top 10 of all time great musical experiences.
If this wasn’t enough, David gave me a personal “shout out” during his set and broke into “Dan’l Boone” from his CD that he recorded with the great Sam Bush. This is just one of many experience I’ve had knowing David Grisman. This writer looks forward to many many more!
I had the great pleasure of watching Doug Cameron perform to a captivated audience on board a cruise ship on a recent vacation. While you don’t routinely think of a violin soloist when you think of cruise ship entertainment, I can attest he was warmly welcomed and finished with a much-deserved standing ovation.
Doug’s performance showcased his outstanding musicianship and love of music. He certainly did not play songs routinely heard at violin recitals, opening with Rihanna’s “We Found Love” and letting the music flow from there. By the time he got around to “Orange Blossom Special” and “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”, he had fully enveloped the audience with his violin virtuosity. An added treat; Doug also presented his eldest son on stage with him for a glimpse of what the Cameron family will offer music lovers for generations to come.
Doug is an outright YouTube sensation and you can enjoy his own channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/dougcameron. I have chosen his version of Rihanna’s “We Found Love” to feature here as it was my first exposure to this master of the violin and I want to share the experience with you.
Doug can boast a strong musical heritage. His mother, Barbara Cameron, was a famous singer-songwriter who had her own radio show in Cincinnati back in the golden days of radio. While he can be proud of her musical accomplishments there is one song that she will always be remembered for. You see, Barbara Cameron wrote and performed the theme song for the popular Road Runner cartoon series. Beep! Beep!
There is not one bluegrass fan out there that wouldn’t agree that the guitar of choice for any bluegrass band is a Martin Guitar. Whether a D-18 or D-28, (my choice) the Martin is synonymous with the music stretching back to the infancy of Bluegrass.
If you are ever traveling through the state of Pennsylvania, I would strongly suggest you make a detour and visit the Martin Guitar Factory. We have made the pilgrimage a few times over the past few years and never grow tired of the experience. You can feel the history and tradition as soon as you walk down the giant guitar walkway from the parking lot. A very friendly receptionist is there to greet and direct you to the facility for tours and shopping. They give you the opportunity to not only visit the amazing museum they have set up to chronicle the history of the company but to play a number of instruments in a “special” room for your enjoyment.
My wife and I arrived very early in the day for a tour of the factory and were lucky to be coupled with a group of 3rd graders on a school field trip (my kind of field trip!). These kids were mesmerized because you are taken on a guided tour of the actual factory, not a simulated tour like Hershey with plastic kisses and a candy bar at the end as they drop you into the chocolate filled gift shop. Each visitor is given a set of headphones to assure you can hear every word your guide is saying. You will walk past Martin craftsmen working and doing what they do best…make a great guitar. The automation is minimal. There is much “hands-on” work to be done on each and every instrument. The folks are very friendly and will answer most questions. The entire tour takes a good part of an hour and is free of charge.
Our last visit was in 2009 and we were given an actual spruce sound hole for a factory guitar stamped with the Martin logo and year of the tour…a great souvenir. To top off the day I was able to meet Chris Martin who was out in the lobby. He was nothing but cordial and signed a couple of catalogs for me as well. We had a very nice conversation. He asked which Martin I owned and answered any question I had.
All in all a great day! This is a must for a music enthusiast as well as any American who wants to experience the American Dream in action. With summer just around the corner make it a point to visit the piece of Americana. You can learn more about Martin and the tour at http://www.martinguitar.com/ Enjoy your visit!
While the Bluegrass Spin lifestyle centers around bluegrass music, sometimes we just need a few other things. We’re happy to announce that we have partnered with Amazon.com to help you get all the bluegrass music you need and all of the other products you desire to live your bluegrass lifestyle. We’ve arranged a selection of bluegrass music, bluegrass videos, instruments, sheet music, books, Kindle products and more for you to peruse. Do you need something else? Chances are, Amazon has it. Click on the Amazon logo below and enjoy shopping at the world’s largest online retailer. Let them know that the spinners at Bluegrass Spin sent you!
I love to travel by cruise ship. It’s not just the slower pace of travel or the exotic destinations but it is the unusual opportunity I often find to explore things I am passionate about. On my latest trip to the Caribbean, I had the chance to take in a few performances from Graffiti Classics, a marvelous quartet of string instrument players who are described as 16 strings, 8 dancing feet, 4 voices and 1 aim: to make classical music wickedly funny and fantastically exhilarating. To that end, I can honestly say I have never seen anything quite like what they do.
Before you can have fun with music you must first master your tools. As a Bluegrass music enthusiast and reviewer, I have had the opportunity to hear lots of fine craftsmen over the years as they pick, fiddle, slap, tickle and otherwise play their instruments. In the hands of a master, an instrument is more of a voice than a combination of wood and strings. In the hands of this musical quartet, the strings become magic. They can make animals sounds; they can make drum sounds; they can take you to exotic lands; all done by masterful manipulation and virtuosic mastery of the instruments on stage.
The humor they bring with them is an added bonus. I encourage you to visit their website, listen to their music, watch their videos, and then find a venue where you can get in on the act. Because their humor is age appropriate for all audiences, I think it is quite fair to say that Graffiti Classics is putting string music front and center of the next generation of string music enthusiasts. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn of future bluegrass artists saying one of the reasons they picked up a fiddle was because of the fun they witnessed watching Graffiti Classics as a child.
Any fan of bluegrass music will quickly find them self routing for this act. I didn’t hear any music that I would deem bluegrass per se but if you’re like me and enjoy watching and listening to musicians at the top of their craft with some of your favorite instruments, you’ll want to see this band in concert time and time again.
The Deadly Gentlemen, a band consisting of Greg Liszt (banjo), Stash Wyslouch (guitar), Mike Barnett (fiddle), Dominick Leslie (mandolin), and Sam Grisman (bass), has taken acoustic music by storm. Rooted in bluegrass, acoustic, newgrass and even rap, this high energy group of artists will memorize their audience with skilled musicianship, vocals and amazing originals.
Each member of the Deadly Gentlemen has an impressive list of credentials. Take their bass player for instance. If you thought you heard that name before you would be correct, Samson Grisman is the youngest son of the world renowned mandolin genius David “Dawg” Grisman. This is quite a combination if you stop to think about it. Having grown up around his Dad, and not to mention some of the most influential musicians to have lived, it’s no wonder that Sam has evolved into such a great musician in his own rite.
In addition to the Deadly Gentlemen, Sam also plays bass with two of his Dad’s bands, David Grisman’s Bluegrass Experience and Folk Jazz Trio with award winning guitarist, Jim Hurst.
If you get an opportunity to see any of these acts with Samson you will certainly not be disappointed. While enjoying that great music you may want to take a moment to reflect on the musical lineage that you are experiencing.
To learn more about the Deadly Gentlemen you can visit http://www.deadlygentlemen.com/ for the latest! Also you may want to watch and listen to this great tune:
WKRP is no longer my favorite thing from Cincinnati. Check out the infectious musical styling of Hickory Robot and try not to become an instant fan. The smoky sounds and “easy on the eyes” looks of lead singer Lauren Schloemer will blow you away as will the fine musicianship exhibited by her band mates. Jim Pelz on guitar and/or mandolin, Scott Cardner on mandolin, and Mike Georgin on bass round out this quartet. Of course, Lauren isn’t afraid to pick up a fiddle or keep rhythm on the washboard when called for. With the recent release of “Sawyer” this Americana / Newgrass / Country band has all the right ingredients to enjoy some crossover success if they can connect with a more mainstream audience. Of course, I wish them all the success in the world but I want to discuss their bluegrass roots and why you should want to listen to them.
Give listen to several of the tracks from “Sawyer” as featured on their website at http://www.hickoryrobot.com/ and you’ll see what I mean. I am listening to the first track “Late” and the fact that this is their sophomore album is clear to me. Beautiful production and great use of the band’s assets. I’d stack this song up against anything I am hearing on Country FM radio these days. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, ReverbNation, iTunes and more. This band has fully embraced the digital age.
Cincinnati had best enjoy this hometown band while they can. Just like Tom Sawyer, I’d say their ready to set sail. Hickory Robot’s adventure is just beginning. Come along for the ride, won’t you?
The spinners here at Bluegrass Spin want to send a special shout out to the hard picking and playing members of King Street Bluegrass, a much-loved Bluegrass sextet playing their hearts out for local fans in and around Alexandria, Virginia.
When Robert Swain, Nancy Lisi, Dave Brunson, John Georgiou, Justin Lago, and Stacey Sinclair get together, their collective love of making music can’t help but wash over the audience. At a time when more and more “live” music is produced by drum machines and computers, this band gets it right by producing just the right blend of instrumentation and vocal harmonization to create a bluegrass sound that is pure magic to the ears.