The David Grisman Bluegrass Experience
3 stars (out of 5)
This is the first album from David Grisman’s San Francisco Bay Area ensemble, consisting of Keith Little on banjo, guitar, and vocals, Jim Nunally on guitar and vocals, Chad Manning on fiddle, Samson Grisman on bass, and David Grisman on mandolin and vocals.
The sound is oddly reigned in for Grisman. His love for old-school bluegrass is evident in the instrument lineup, the vocal harmonies, and the overall sound, and the mostly familiar tunes are presented as one would hear them played by a typical bluegrass band. The group’s aesthetic is rough, jagged, and filled with energy, but there are no jazzy melodies or jamming here.
The album includes old favorites such as The Carter Family’s “Engine 143,” Flatt and Scruggs’s “Ruben’s Train,” and The Stanley Brothers’ “Say Won’t You Be Mine,” as well as David Grisman’s familiar “Dawggy Mt. Breakdown” and “Old and in the Way.” It’s convincing as a traditional bluegrass offering, but the Bluegrass Experience doesn’t really offer a unique take on these standards, which, no matter how good the picking, is a little deflating given the originality Grisman is known for.
by Katy Leonard