Old and In The Gray – Vassar Clements, David Grisman, Peter Rowan, Herb Pedersen, and Bryn Bright
Acoustic Disc 51
Yes, the band name Old & in the Gray gives a nod and a wink to the
advanced age of those within its ranks. And, of course, it plays on the
moniker Old & in the Way. Why? Because it features members of that beloved
bluegrass act that included Jerry Garcia on banjo and vocals, David Grisman
on mandolin, Peter Rowan on vocals and guitar, Vassar Clements on fiddle and
John Kahn on bass. The union of these players brought their affection for
this particular brand of music to an audience that would more than likely
never have opened its minds and ears to such sounds.
To twist an old clichsometimes it is the messenger that helps to
highlight the message.
Grisman got together with Rowan and Clements during one of his birthday
bash shows. And the reunion became more than just a one night stand. With
Garcia and Kahn out of the picture due to their passings, Herb Pedersen
in on banjo and Bryn Bright on bass.
It's only natural that the members would want to put something down. What
the listener gets is 14 songs that reflect the passing of years, the
hard-earned wisdom, and the unwavering allegiance to bluegrass and folk's
Above all, Old & in the Gray is about having fun and respecting the
past while pushing the envelope in the present. That's a common thread that
this disc has with its predecessor from 1975. The original boasted fine
performances that were as energetic as they were technically proficient. In
this case, the songs gain a mature assuredness that was impossible to have
prior to this.
The material is made in an enthusiastic burst of
verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus (or something like it), but it does so
with a grace that has developed following countless performances by its
members over the years. They acknowledge this fact on the opening number,
"Good Old Boys". Then,
Old & in the Gray create a warm atmosphere with a combination of covers
Hartford, Townes Van Zandt, Ira Louvin, Bill Monroe). P>
Once again, there's a Rolling Stones cover. This time out, it's "Honky Tonk
Women." To tell you the truth, it's a perfect match. It makes as much sense
as a bluegrass tune as it ever did as a horny rock number. Such inspired
choices and such pleasant feelings are what come about
through the music of Old & in the Gray.