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Jerry Garcia and David Grisman
Grateful Dawg: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Acoustic Disc CD ACD-46, 2001 (75:42)

Great big box of fun

Linda Dailey Paulson, 10 July 2002

Seen the movie? This is the soundtrack for Grateful Dawg, documenting the long strange trip of musical pals Jerry Garcia and David Grisman. More than just an album of songs, the soundtrack has preserved some of the narrative from the film leading into the music. It's essentially an abridged audio version of film highlights.

The title takes its name from the two camps of music these men pioneered. Garcia had The Grateful Dead in which he sang and played guitar. Grisman created the eclectic, mandolin-driven Dawg music. Together... okay, you got it. These two created a tune which purposely demonstrated how the seemingly disparate styles could successfully fuse, the joyfully jazzy "Grateful Dawg."

The film and soundtrack are a valentine to the decades long Garcia-Grisman musical love affair that started with bluegrass and eventually led to the creation of the bluegrass supergroup Old and in the Way. A bit of trivia: Garcia started out as a banjo player. Really. We are treated to his prowess on the five-string on "Sweet Sunny South" and his sweet guitar picking is exemplified on "Dawg's Waltz" and the Dead classic "Friend of the Devil." This album also documents the various side journeys these talented musicians undertook as a duo, including their kids' project "Not for Kids Only," represented by the irrepressible "Jenny Jenkins." Also notable is the inclusion of music by influences such as Bill Monroe and Ewan MacColl. "Wayfaring Stranger" features Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys with Peter Rowan (also a member of Old and In the Way) and fiddler Richard Greene. MacColl sings the haunting "Off to Sea Once More," then Garcia takes his turn.

Live segments feature tunes such as "Sitting Here in Limbo" and "Friend of the Devil," both captured at the Warfield Theatre in 1991. Another memorable tune is a searingly poignant version of "Sweet Sunny South" rendered more emotional by Garcia's plaintive voice. One track not to overlook is "The Thrill is Gone." The film features an unreleased video of this classic with the pair duded up and playing in a supper club. Knowing what you might about both musicians' penchant for jazz-like experimentation, it should be noted about the only time the group goes into a lengthy space jam is on the Grisman instrumental "Arabia." It's a doozy of a thrill ride at just over the 16-minute mark.

If you've yet to experience Grisman and Garcia, you're in for a treat. Rent the film if you haven't. This will surely lead those previously unfamiliar with this duo's wondrous musical alchemy in search of such recommended collaborations as Jerry Garcia and David Grisman and The Pizza Tapes.

performers  Jerry Garcia, guitar, banjo, vocals; David Grisman, mandolin, mandola, banjo, vocals; Jim Kerwin, bass; Joe Craven, percussion, violin; various others

songs  Intro · Grateful Dawg [live] · Wayfaring Stranger · Sweet Sunny South · Old and in the Way Intro · Pig in a Pen · Dawg's Waltz · Sitting Here in Limbo · Off to Sea Once More [two versions] · Jenny Jenkins · Arabia · The Thrill Is Gone · Friend of the Devil · Grateful Dawg [Studio]

of related interest  As Linda says, other Garcia/Grisman albums worth your time include

Jerry Garcia and David Grisman, Acoustic Disc CD ACD-2, 1991
"Arabia" and "Friend of the Devil" are here too, along with B. B. King's "The Thrill Is Gone."

The Pizza Tapes, Acoustic Disc CD ACD-41, 2000
Legendary bootlegged cassette with Tony Rice, finally released fer real.

Also see our review of Shady Grove.

Copyright © 2002 Peppercorn Press. All rights reserved.