Asked by email what folks might expect from his show tonight at the Domino Room in Bend, mandolin man David Grisman replied: “Some great bluegrass music mixed with a bit of music history (hopefully) played with precision and feeling by one of the best bands I've ever worked with.”
That's saying a lot considering the veteran player and composer counts among his collaborators none other than the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia and famed hot-jazz violinist Stephane Grapelli, plus a slew of others in various configurations, including the long-standing David Grisman Quintet and the revered bluegrass supergroup (with Garcia) Old and In the Way.
There were also several other pairings with Garcia, who bestowed upon Grisman his well-known nickname, “Dawg,” by which Grisman's agreeable blend of jazz and bluegrass came to be known as “Dawg Music.”
The Hackensack, N.J., native returns to play live tonight in Bend (see “If you go”) under the banner of the David Grisman Bluegrass Experience.
“My bluegrass band includes my son Sam Grisman on bass, Chad Manning on violin, Keith Little on banjo, Jim Nunally on guitar and myself on mandolin,” Grisman explained via email. “These same musicians have been with me since 2005 and also appear on the 2006 Acoustic Disc release, DGBX (David Grisman Bluegrass Experience).”
Acoustic Disc is the label Grisman founded a couple of decades ago, and his latest endeavor is Acoustic Oasis, an online shop.
“I thrive on having too much to do. I'm always working on at least five projects, with more ideas coming all the time. It's at times a bit chaotic, but I'm not in a rush,” Grisman said.
“I've been producing records (and CDs and now download projects) since 1963 and have amassed a huge amount of recorded (mostly acoustic) music that most folks have never heard,” he continued. “In 1989, we started Acoustic Disc and since that time, I've produced 67 projects under that imprint.
“Now, due to the very fortunate technology (thank you Steve Jobs!) to convert recordings into digital audio files that can be easily transmitted through the Internet, I have the ability to make all sorts of projects easily available to listeners worldwide.”
Since its April 2010 launch, Acoustic Oasis has released material from more than 40 projects, Grisman said, including an extended version of “The Pizza Tapes,” his legendary recordings with Garcia and guitarist Tony Rice, now with more toppings and being served up as “The Extra Large Pizza Tapes.”
The shop's latest release is “Happy Birthday Bill Monroe — Dawg Plays Big Mon,” released last month on Bill Monroe's 100th birthday.
It's quite clear that appreciating the roots of bluegrass is important to Grisman. He says that when he first heard the form, it was initially “the banjo, played in the style of Earl Scruggs, that blew my head off.
“I think bluegrass is a perfectly orchestrated style of instrumental and vocal music, with real roots in the stories and lives of the people,” he said. “It elevates folk music to a virtuosic status and runs the gamut of human expression. Plus, the history of bluegrass is something that occurred in my lifetime, and I had the opportunity to witness it happening and meet and even play with many of its great architects.”