MusicMarauders Presents: David Grisman Folk Jazz Trio 3.7.14

Boulder Theater
Boulder, CO

Photos & Words By Kevin Hahn (Split Open & Shoot)

The word "legend" does not get thrown around too often. Personally, when I hear the word in reference to the music industry acts such as The Beatles, The Grateful Dead and Eric Clapton come quickly to mind. But when you narrow down the idea of whom is a legend, and apply it to the bluegrass genre, David Grisman certainly needs to be at the top of every list. From his work with “Old and In the Way” to the ridiculous recordings with Jerry Garcia and Tony Rice known as the “Pizza Tapes,” Grisman has set himself apart with these unique collaborations and outrageous skills on the mandolin. Known as the “Dawg,” Grisman has toured the country relentlessly for the past 30 years bringing some good ole bluegrass joy to those who are lucky enough to attend one of his shows. This past Friday night at the Boulder Theater I was fortunate enough to attend the “David Grisman Folk Jazz Trio” show and for lack of a better phrase…it was fucking badass.

Arriving to a sit-down show is always a bit intimidating for me, as I am usually running around snapping one picture after another. With restrictions in place for where I could go inside the theater, I decided to truly enjoy the Grisman experience and make sure to take in all of the quirky stories and amazing knowledge that he has to offer. Playing with his son Samson on upright bass and acoustic guitar extraordinaire Jim Hurst, Grisman led the trio through a number of his pieces and some true bluegrass regulars. Cracking jokes and telling long-winded stories between each number has become routine for any Grisman show, but with such an intimate setting within the absolutely amazing Boulder Theater, this time around I came to enjoy the “Story time with the Dawg.” When he wasn’t telling some story about how Jerry Garcia wrote this song or Vassar Clements ripped this solo, the “Dawg” shredded at every opportunity. Whether he was leading the charge or watching his son Samson take over with filthy bass lines, it was quite evident that Grisman has not lost any of his immense mandolin talent.

Watching one of the true “Legends” of bluegrass is always a joy, whether it’s Del McCoury, Sammy Bush or Darol Anger. But there is something special about seeing a person like the “Dawg” who has such an immense amount of historical importance to the bluegrass genre. Grisman has played with everyone from Peter Rowan to Vassar Clements to the ever-great Mr. Jerry Garcia, but the one thing that stands out most about the collaborations is that Grisman is never just the guy in the background ripping on the mandolin. Grisman is so immensely talented that whatever group he is playing with gives him a prominent/featured role because he truly is that damn good. He can pick just as fast as any mandolin player I have ever seen and at 68 years young, there are no signs of Grisman slowing down anytime soon. The bond he has on stage with his many different musical combinations is incredible, and for the Folk Jazz Trio, Jim Hurst provides a perfect partner for the “Dawg” in transforming whatever they are playing into something melodic and beautiful. Hurst is one of the best acoustic guitar musicians I have had the opportunity to see up close, and combined with the legend on stage left, it was almost too much to handle. Songs such as “Shady Grove” and “Swang Thang” had such instrumental passion to them that being forced to sit-down during these shred-fests was a feat not for the weak of heart.

Yes, I admit having to sit-down at this show was a bit tough for me. I had to control my feet from bouncing right out of my shoes as Samson’s distinctive bass-lines echoed through the Boulder Theater like smooth butter. I eventually ended up standing against a wall to the far right of the theater so I could move just a little bit, because I honestly felt that the “Dawg” would have wanted me to rebel against the authority and fucking dance when I felt like it. (I also had to move away from a very annoying offbeat clapper, who ruined many a songs with her stupid hands smacking each other in no musical rhythm whatsoever) But all was not lost with the beauty of the sit-down performance as for a change most of the Boulder crowd was quiet and respectful for a show of this format. Other than the offbeat clapper, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of “Dawg Music” and hope to see Hurst and the two Grisman’s back sooner, rather than later. But please, give us one show where we don’t have to sit-down because we all know that dancing to “Shady Grove” is a lot more fun than being forced to sit through it.

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