About David Grisman
nearly half a century, mandolinist / composer / bandleader / producer
David Grisman has been a guiding force in the evolving world of acoustic
music. His musical range is wide and deep ó embracing many styles, genres
An acoustic pioneer and innovator, David forged a unique personal artistic
path, skillfully combining elements of the great American music/art forms
ó jazz and bluegrass with many international flavors and sensibilities
to create his own distinctive idiom ó ìDawgî music (the nickname given
him by Jerry Garcia.) ÝIn doing so, heís inspired new generations of acoustic
string musicians, while creating his own niche in contemporary music.
Grisman discovered the mandolin as a teenager growing up in New Jersey,
where he met and became a disciple of mandolinist/folklorist Ralph Rinzler.
Despite warnings from his piano teacher that it wasn't a "real" instrument,ÝDavid
learned to play the mandolin in the style of Bill Monroe, the father of
bluegrass music. He took it to Greenwich Village where he studied English
at NYU, while immersed in the proliferating folk music scene of the early
In 1963 Grisman made his first recordings both as an artist (Even Dozen
JugÝBand - Elektra) and producer (Red Allen, Frank Wakefield and the Kentuckians
‚ Folkways.) In 1966 Red Allen offered David his first job with an authentic
bluegrass band, the Kentuckians. Grisman began composing original tunes
and playing with other urban bluegrass contemporaries like Peter Rowan
and Jerry Garcia, with whom he would later form Old & in the Way.
David's interests spread to jazz in 1967, while playing in a folk-rock
group, Earth Opera. A failed attempt at learning to play alto sax turned
him into a student of jazz musicianship and theory. His burgeoning career
as a session musician gave him experience playing many types of music
and opportunities to stretch the boundaries of the mandolin. His discography
is filled with notables including Jerry Garcia, Stephane Grappelli, the
Grateful Dead, John Hartford, Del McCoury, Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt,
Earl Scruggs, James Taylor and Doc Watson.
Dawg's instrumental style found a home in 1974 when he formed the Great
American Music Band with fiddler Richard Greene. "Nothing against singers,"
said David, "but it became apparent to me that I could play 90 minutes
without one. Besides, Elvis never called." Within a year, David met guitar
wizard Tony Rice, who moved to California where they started rehearsing
a new group, the David Grisman Quintet (DGQ,) which also included violinist
Darol Anger and bassist/mandolinist Todd Phillips. Since then the DGQ
has featured such stellar notables as Svend Asmussen, Hal Blaine, Vassar
Clements, Stephane Grappelli, Mike Marshall, Andy Statman and Frank Vignola.
The current lineup includes bassist Jim Kerwin, flutist Matt Eakle, percussionist
George Marsh, guitarist Grant Gordy and fiddler Mike Barnett (DGQ+).
After recording for major and independent labels, David founded Acoustic
Disc in 1990 and entered the most prolific period of his career, producing
67 critically acclaimed CDs (five of which were Grammy-nominated.) In
2010 he launched AcousticOasis.com, the first
download website devoted to acoustic music.
Recently Grisman has revisited his roots with the David Grisman Bluegrass
Experience (DGBX). This very traditional group includes Keith Little on
5-string banjo, guitar and vocals, Jim Nunally on guitar and vocals, Chad
Manning on fiddle, Samson Grisman on bass, with David on mandolin and
vocals. Dawg also plays blues and old-time music with his old jugband-mate
John Sebastian. He lives in Northern California with his wife Tracy, an
artist and musician. Between them they have seven grown kids and four
David Grisman has always been a revolutionary. He has deeply influenced
contemporary acoustic practicioners through his own musical explorations
and with the continuing success of Acoustic Disc and Acoustic Oasis, has
helped make artist-owned independent labels a viable force in todayís