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David Grisman Returns to Tradition on 'Bluegrass Experience'


For close to 50 years, mandolinist and composer David Grisman has been a leading proponent of acoustic music in America. He's recorded dozens of albums of his own music, launched his own record company, and produced over 50 critically-acclaimed recordings, five of which have been nominated for Grammy Awards. VOA's Katherine Cole reports on The David Grisman Bluegrass Experience.

The David Grisman Bluegrass Experience finds Grisman turning his back on the jazzy "Dawg Music" he's known for, and returning to his first musical love, traditional bluegrass. The songs on this record come from a variety of places. Many, like that new version of Flatt and Scruggs' "Down the Road," will be familiar to bluegrass fans. They include one from the Jimmy Martin songbook, along with Charlie Poole's "The Great Baltimore Fire", and The Stanley Brothers' "Say Won't You Be Mine." A new version of the traditional song "Dream Of The Miner's Child" is also part of The David Grisman Bluegrass Experience.

Now 62 years old, David Grisman first picked up the mandolin as a teenager, not long after he first heard bluegrass. He began playing in the style of Bill Monroe, the man credited with inventing bluegrass. Soon Grisman was composing original songs, and exploring other musical styles, which led to the invention of what he calls "dawg music."

In 1970, Grisman moved from New York to San Francisco, where he met Jerry Garcia and played with him on the Grateful Dead classic "American Beauty. In 1975, the two, along with fiddler Vassar Clements and bass player John Kuhn, and singer and guitarist Peter Rowan formed Old And In The Way, recording an album with the same name. Grisman has worked up a new arrangement of the title track for his CD with The David Grisman Bluegrass Experience.

In the liner notes for this record, David Grisman says, "Bluegrass has always been my first big musical thrill since I first heard it nearly 50 years ago." The David Grisman Bluegrass Experience is a fine example of traditional bluegrass music, and is a good contrast to Dawg's Groove, the jazz and Latin-influenced album released by The David Grisman Quintet on the very same day.

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