David Grisman has been a household name in the acoustic and bluegrass world for many years. His innovations in these genres as well as creating his own genre in “Dawg” music, named by Jerry Garcia, has inspired new generations of bluegrass for decades. Dawg music can be best described as the combination of jazz, bluegrass, and acoustic folk music. These are American staples and combining genres is what American music is all about. After quitting piano at around age 10, Grisman picked up the mandolin and never looked back.
There was a decidedly day-glo hue to the bluegrass played at this year’s Northwest String Summit (July 16-19). Many of the musical merry-makers, and deadicated patrons alike, appeared to still be basking in the warm fluorescent after-light of the “Fare Thee Well” experience. The haunting presence of the now officially departed Dead continues to populate and positively inform a new generation of musical/spiritual adventurers.
To return to a point in your life that you have already lived is metaphysical. Déjà vu, as most of us call it, feels mystical, even if it has a chemical explanation. Scientific evidence aside, to relive something that you have lived before is an experience that seems to connect us with something beyond ourselves. We can both be in the moment and be able to predict (or at least have the feeling that we are predicting) what is coming around the next corner. But to experience déjà vu and to be able to improve upon the actions that once were? Now that is something different altogether.
Bluegrass music is deeply integrated into American musical culture and roots. Yet bluegrass isn’t a pure form. It’s an amalgamation of many preceding styles and individual root systems. None have revealed more about the instrumental beginnings of bluegrass than David “Dawg” Grisman. His mandolin virtuosity was simply too adventurous to not stray from the vein of Kentucky-born grass.
There’s more to country than heartbreak and hillbillies. Experience the depth and breadth of this American art form when the Green Music Center hosts “Dawg Day Afternoon Bluegrass Festival” with Sonoma favorite The David Grisman Sextet, The Del McCoury Band, and dobro master Jerry Douglas presents the Earls of Leicester.
The wild world of bluegrass spiraled into frenzy this past Friday morning when tickets to the forty-second annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival went on sale. Per usual, tickets flew off of the virtual shelves like canned goods in a doomsday scenario, leaving locked out festivalgoers in a state of disarray. “How could this happen to me again?” shouted bluegrass fans across the nation, their fists clenched and shaking at computer screens with a sense of Déjà vu.