Old & in the Gray
Old & in the Gray
First Appeared at The Music Box, December 2002, Volume 9, #12
Written by John Metzger
In 1973, the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia joined forces with David Grisman, John Kahn, Peter Rowan, and Richard Green to form Old & in the Way, a bluegrass ensemble that served to open the genre to a brand-new audience. The band performed a number of concerts that year — largely in California — but never managed to record a studio album. It wasn’t far into its existence before Vassar Clements replaced Green on fiddle, and it was this line-up that graced the eponymous concert recording that was released two years later — an album that continues to stand the test of time, remaining an important chapter in bluegrass history.
In more recent years, Grisman, Clements, and Rowan have reunited the band with banjo player Herb Pedersen and bassist Bryn Bright respectively replacing the dearly deceased Jerry Garcia and John Kahn. Renamed Old & in the Gray, the group at long last has recorded a studio album, and the result is well worth the wait. Of the fourteen tracks on its self-titled debut, there’s nary a dud in the lot as the ensemble traverses a variety of songs, cutting a wide swath through bluegrass, country, and rock. Vintage tunes like the Carter Family’s When the Springtime Comes Again and Bill Monroe’s On the Old Kentucky Shore meld beautifully with Rowan’s own Rainmaker and Townes Van Zandt’s Pancho & Lefty. The band even tosses in a stirring rendition of the Rolling Stones’ Honky Tonk Women for good measure. Throughout the album, tight harmonies and exquisite instrumentation abound, all of which is put forth with geniune aplomb. In other words, Old & in the Gray — both the band and the album — carries on the fine legacy of its predecessor, appealing to both hippies and bluegrass fans alike.
Of Further Interest...
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2002 The Music Box