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Thread: Dawgology

  1. #1

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    I've started this topic as a place to share photos and memories of the birth and growth of "Dawg" music (and by extension "New Acoustic Music") and the mandolin revival of the 1970s.

    My clumsy attempt to define this form would be something like "acoustic instrumental music that integrates many genres, including bluegrass, jazz, classical and ethnic strains, into a seamless whole to create something new. Pieces are often composed with strict written parts performed by virtuoso musicians and combined with wide sections left open for improvisation." I welcome a refinement of this definition from anyone, because I'm sure it means more than what I've come up with.

    Though there were hints and examples of the form before the landmark "The David Grisman Quintet" album (aka Kaleidoscope F-5) released in 1977, I believe that album codified the form and launched a thousand ships. Thus the title of this topic, which also happens to be one of my favorite Dawg tunes. It is not meant to be strictly limited to David Grisman though my contributions will primarily focus on him and the musicians he has worked with over the years both in and outside of his band.

    I was extremely fortunate to be in the right place at the right time to befriend, interview, and photograph many of the artists who created this music. Since a previous topic has confirmed that there are a lot of us old f*rts here, I know there are others who witnessed this birth and were as dumbstruck as I by the DGQ and the other great musicians who have contributed to its growth. Two I personally know of and shared experiences with are Arthur Stern and Bruce Harvie. To really make this work, I implore them and all others who were changed by this music to contribute their memories and photos. In particular, I would really like to hear from Niles and others across the pond on its international impact and their personal approach to the mandolin.

    The images I will post have been sitting in my files for as long as 30+ years. Many have been published but many more have never been seen. I can't think of a better bunch of folks to share them with or who would appreciate them more. My only ground rule is that they stay here in the Cafe. Please do not post them on any other forum or website without asking me first. They are copyrighted, and I ask that you respect that. If you know people with photos and memories to share who are not on this forum, please direct them here. Let's create a collective history right here on the Cafť.

    And, now, on with the show.

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    I knew who David Grisman was from his work with the Dead, Old and In The Way, and Maria Muldaur, but I didnít get knocked over the head until I saw a version of the Great American String Band play at the Golden Gate Bluegrass Festival in September of 1974. The band that night consisted of Richard Greene on fiddle, David Nichtern on guitar, Jerry Garcia on banjo, and Taj Mahal on bass. Iíd never heard anything like it, but I recognized the elements. I was particularly knocked out by the Hot Club stuff and Davidís tunes, and it immediately set me on a significantly deeper path into acoustic string music. I dug out everything available of Django and the Hot Club in the Guitar Player library, got turned on to Eddie Lang and Joe Venuti, and re-awoke my interest in bluegrass.
    I didnít see David play again until July of 1976. This time it was a gig billed as the Great American Music Band, a one-shot at San Francisco's Great American Music Hall featuring Dawg, Tony Rice , J. D. Crowe, Richard Greene, Jerry Douglas, and Todd Phillips on bass. They were great, of course, but in the middle of the show, David announced he had a new band he was recording with that had two mandolins, and introduced the David Grisman Quintet with Tony, Darol, Todd, and Bill Amatneek. They only played two or three tunes, but I was hammered by the sound and the concept. Unfortunately, I was so captured by the music, I forgot to take many pictures. Iíve got only three frames of that first sighting. I canít remember what tunes they played but I know one of them was ďRicochetĒ because one frame has David, Todd, and Darol all playing mandolin. I couldnít believe how complete the vision and execution was. I was an instant Dawghead.
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    Jon, there were a few other GASB gigs with the lineup of:
    Great American String Band
    * Jerry Garcia - banjo, vocals
    * David Grisman - mandolin, vocals
    * David Nichtern - guitar, vocals
    * Richard Greene - fiddle
    * Taj Mahal - bass
    * Buell Neidlinger - bass (4-26-1974 to 6-13-1974)
    Their set lists looked like this:
    Colored Aristocracy, Cedar Hill, I'll Be A Gambler If You Deal The Cards
    My Plastic Banana Is Not Stupid, Moonlight Waltz
    Swing '42, Methodist Preacher
    Set II
    Limehouse Blues, Bud's Bounce, Dawg's Bull
    Russian Lullaby, Virgin's Lament, Swing '42
    Drink Up And Go Home, Dawg's Rag

    I know Maria Mauldaur played with them at a few gigs & they opened for the Grateful Dead at least once. There are 4 or 5 tapes floating around. I saw them at the Keystone Berkeley twice, back when Maria had a hit with Midnight at the Oasis, but she wasn't with them all the time. Buell Neidlinger was in there for a few gigs too, on bass. There were a few later gigs at the Great American Music Hall in SF and the band took on the name of the venue, or Great American Music Band. I saw two or three gigs there in 1975. This was without Jerry & Taj, a band fronted by David & Richard & really the precurser of the DGQ. As I recall it was mostly instrumental, with already orchestrated versions of Dawg's Rag & maybe Thailand among others. I was following David whenever I saw a Bay Area gig, everything I heard about after OAITW. Later, when I was archivist for David I know there is a tape of another even earlier version of the band w/o Jerry and Taj with John Carlini and a woman on rhythm guitar, a bass player,and then featuring Richard & David. My tape collection got flooded out about 15 years ago, and I think I still have a tape of the earlier band.....I'll try & ask David about it. Richard left in 1975 to work with Loggins and Messina. The earliest gigs of the David Grisman Quintet, were pre Bill Amatneek and had Joe Carroll on bass. The first official gig was in Bolinas, CA in 1976, which I bootleged an audience tape of with a Nakamici cassette player. Joe was at that gig & did a tour of Japan with the band. If I'm not mistaken Bill Keith & Richard Greene were on that tour, and there were 2 sets, a bluegrass set with Richard & Bill..then a DGQ set. I was taping live shows by then, with David's permission using a Revox 1/2 track, with separate mics on each stand. This is around when Bill Amatneek came on board as bass player, which was pretty early. I continued to tape the local shows for several years in the early days of Dawg Music, and mix many of the gigs from the board. Todd Phillips built and repaired mandolins in the back of my art studio, and with Darol also living in Oakland, my studio became a place where the band would hang. I would drive Todd & Darol to gigs in my Citroen convertible, with the Revox in the trunk. In about a year there was a change in the lineup, Amatneek was out & Todd Phillips took over the bass spot with young Mike Marshall joining as 2nd mandolin. Mike's on Hot Dawg, playing some parts for David, then suffering from tendinitis. This was the transition to one of my favorite versions of the DGQ.




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    Hey guys, note also that Bill Amatnick (?spelling) is the man on bass, and was for a long while. A good ole friend from Mill Valley.
    If its got three mando's, it is Ricochette. I was at this gig as well as you two. Matter of fact, all of the gigs you state.
    I too am an old ####...I was even censored in that string.
    HI Art!
    RT

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    oops, I see it, Bill, was there somewhere in all those words. A vertual tome of messaging.
    RT

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    splurge this past week-end picking up Grisman's....DGBE and travaersata....like both very much. I got to see the first quintet, and the latest a few times. highlights of my life for sure.
    stroke survivor
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  10. #7

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    As Arthur says, there were several variations of the Great American String Band. Somewhere around here I've got a cassette with seven tunes on it from a gig with Richard Greene, John Carlini, and a woman named Ellen Kearney on rhythm guitar. I remember Arthur and I spent an afternoon listening to tapes of many DGQ gigs and I dubbed a few down to cassette with Dawg's permission.

    Dawg says the original DGQ rehearsed for almost a year before doing their first gig. The first gig was at the Bolinas Community Center in Jan of 1976, and it's possible to hear two cuts, Cedal Hill and Theme from Capone, from that first gig on the DGQ 20 anthology. T. Rice plays mandocello on the second one.

    In May, the band took a short tour to Japan, where they received with great enthusiasm. Here is one of my prized possessions--a poster from that tour. Gotta believe there can't be more than a few of them.
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    Thanks Jon, a net search for Ellen Kearney, puts her on a Maria Mauldaur album & on a Carly Simon album.......sounds reasonable.
    That poster is the Japanese tour with I mentioned with Joe Carroll, Bill Amatneek started in after that with the DGQ. I think I
    still have one of those posters too.....wonder what we could get for them on EBAY?! Nice look for Tony, eh?! Todd too......
    The Blue Bell mandolin that was my first F5 came back with them from that tour. After Todd hot rodded it, wasn't too bad, for
    the era anyway......not the best era for mandos, guys comin' up now have so many better choices.

    There is a great article in the current Fretboard Journal on Tony Rice, or more to the point, his legendary D-28. Great photos
    and a nice article by Art Dudley. Tony is the cover & featured article.

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    Ah, the 70s. Pungent smoke in the air and hope everywhere.

    And a DGQ LP vinyl disc to further blow a small-town Midwestern boy's mind.

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    Hey Art,
    I still have the program "book" from that tour. I remember the phonetic spelling of the song titles.
    RT

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    Here is an innerestin' story.......about that first DGQ record.....a college kid was at a party, heard the record playing, went over & checked it out, to see what the heck was playing. Next day went out & bought himself a mandolin. The story is about Joe Craven. How 'bout that.....eventually ends up a member of the DGQ for like 15+ years. That album inspired a whole generation to take up the instrument, much like Chris Thile's playing today has planted a new crop, or Big Mon's playing had done the same for an earlier generation. I'm still trying to play that first album, getting it up to speed is a problem I've encountered. Those guys were pretty darn good back in the day & now they have had 30 years to practice & get better. It has certainly been fun following the careers of the DGQ alumni. I see the Mandolin Symposium, or the Mandolin Cafe, or Comando, as an extension of the spirit that started with the Mandolin World News. "Mandolin Player Unite"




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    ..pics..I wanna see pics...




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    Hey Jon - we missed you at Wintergrass this year!

    Sorry I don't have any photos to contribute, but I have done several interviews with The Dawg as part of Wintergrass and I also got to thinking about how Dawg music has always been a big part of that festival. This year it was well represented by two DGQ alumni in Mike Marshall and Joe Craven.



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    Let me know when we get to the part when D(aw)G claims paternity of Anna Nicole Smiths baby.

    Curt

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    Wasn't it ol' Bill that said something like....."That don't have no part of nothing!"

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    My first exposure to David Grisman was through the rock world and his work with Peter Rowan in Earth Opera, their psychedelic roots/folk/rock ensemble from the late '60s. I still have both of those very strange recordings, but I can't say that I play them much. I also took note of his guest appearances on Workingman's Dead and American Beauty. Shortly after that I picked up on his bluegrass work with Red Allen and the Kentuckians from a few years earlier. Those County label sides they recorded are still worth listening to.

    I didn't get to see him live until late 1974 or so when a version of the Great American Music Band opened for Maria Muldaur in Portland, Oregon. They played a stunning opening set and then some of them joined Maria's band on selected numbers. Grisman had played on Maria's eponymous debut which was enjoying a fair amount of success at the time. That was one of the greatest concerts ever.

    Never got to hear to original DG quintet with Todd Phillips on mandolin, but I heard many concerts by later iterations, including that amazing tour they did with Stephane Grappelli shortly after Mike Marshall joined the band. That was another memorable night.



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    I never caught Earth Opera live, but did see SeaTrain with Rowan & Richard Greene.
    OAITW was my first exposure to Grisman.......couldn't figure out who was the guy
    stealing the show from Jerry, this was at the old Keystone Berkeley. I talked to David at
    the break & became interested in the mandolin from that point. I didn't even know
    about Monroe, or Django & Stephane at this point, Never heard of Homer & Jethro. but started
    researching the orgins of the tunes. I'd seen Clarence White with the Byrds, but didn't know
    about Roland, or even the Muleskinner Band till years later. Being a Deadhead & following Garcia was
    like Roots Music 101 and set me off on the right path.

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    Quote Originally Posted by (Paul Kotapish @ Feb. 27 2007, 20:15)
    including that amazing tour they did with Stephane Grappelli shortly after Mike Marshall joined the band. That was another memorable night.
    Yes, I caught that band at Carnegie Hall, 1980 or 81. It was special.

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    This topic is awesome. As someone who wasn't alive to see my favorite DGQ lineup (Grisman/Anger/Marshall/O'Conner/Wasserman) it's been a real treat. That story about Joe Craven is great!
    Garnet Bruell

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    After the show, I made a point of going backstage to meet David and Tony. I was a writer and the staff photographer for Guitar Player by then, so they were happy to talk to me since I was also obviously a fan. We hit if off right away, and Dawg invited me out to his house to hear some of the final mixes for Kaleidoscope F-5.

    In February 1977, Bill Monroe played the Great American Music Hall and David invited me along to meet him. When we entered Bill's dressing room an hour before the show, he was talking to a fan who had brought at least 20 albums for him to sign. Bill cheerfully signed them all. Tony and mandolinist Butch Waller of High Country were also there. Naturally, Big Mon commanded the room, and the disciples were genuinely humble and respectful as he picked up his mandolin and demonstrated why he was the Godfather.

    David and Tony each had their instruments but only Tony joined in. As Dawg told me later, another mandolinist simply did not compete with The Man unless specifically invited. Besides, they had a history. At one point, Dawg was widely considered the heir apparent before he stepped away from bluegrass and started writing and playing music that definitely did not conform to Monroe's specifications. After a few tunes, Bill asked David if he still remembered how to play bluegrass, and they ripped into a smoldering "Rawhide" backed by Tony. When they finished, he asked Tony for his guitar, reminding T (as if he didn't know) that he had played guitar on "Muleskinner Blues," his first recording as a bandleader after leaving brother Charlie.

    All in all, it was an otherworldly experience. Then we went upstairs and watched Bill, Kenny Baker, Butch Robins, and Wayne Lewis tear it up for an enthusiastic full house.
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    Amen to that Garnet! Fantastic topic. We've got a bootleg cd of the Great American String Band (it's my girlfriends - she's a Jerry worshipper and grabs anything he's on) so it's good to read something about that band. Speaking of my girlfriend, she gave me DGQ 20 for Valentine's day. I was blown away - especially by the first cd that has so much stuff I never heard before. And SternART thank you for that statement, "being a Deadhead and following Garcia was like Roots Music 101." Since I had grown up listening to old Country and some Bluegrass I didn't always appreciate it at the time but Jerry and the rest of the guys opened our eyes to a lot of great music.

    Joe Craven - for years I went to everywhere he played in Davis and just thought of him as a rythm guy delving into all this Latin and World stuff. I don't think I saw him with mandolin or fiddle until I saw him with Grisman.

    Wayne
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    Bill and T.
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    Jon -- thanks so much for posting that photo of Bill Monroe playing Tony's guitar.

    If I'm remembering right -- I've got it in a Pickin' magazine that's in a stack of stuff I've saved out in a box in the garage.

    I loved acoustic music from childhood but was not exposed to anything but snatches on television here and there, until I bought Nitty Gritty's Uncle Teddy album.
    From there -- other things followed, and I bought the Sea Train albums just because it listed a fiddler on it.
    I heard DGQ before I heard the old individual Monroe LPs.

    But at some point, I began to explore Monroe.
    The photo of Monroe playing Tony's guitar, with T looking on, really struck home with me at that time.
    Believe it or not, it's a picture that comes into my mind to this day, fairly often.
    Your photograph made a deep, and recurring impression on me. One of the geat bluegrass pics ever.
    Great to see it again.

    MORE!

    Bill Graham -- (the journalist, not the fillmore one that's done gone on)

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    Many thanks for this oustanding thread.

    In case you didn't know, this MP3 by the Creaking Trees, the Dynamic Duo, is written for DGQ members Darrol Anger and Mike Marshall. It makes for a nice soundtrack for reading these posts.
    Jason Anderson

    "...while a great mandolin is a wonderful treat, I would venture to say that there is always more each of us can do with the tools we have available at hand. The biggest limiting factors belong to us not the instruments." Paul Glasse

    Stumbling Towards Competence

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    Hey Wayne.....I first saw Joe Craven jamming mandolin at the Grass Valley festival several years before he met David.
    He was in a Django/Swing type jam & just tearing it up......I even went & woke up my friends to hear him, I knew he
    had it & wasn't surprised at all when he made it into the DGQ. Joe is incredibly musical, it just oozes out of him.
    And so versatile...... need twin mando....need a fiddle solo.....rhythm ace.....comic relief, Joe was a cool addition & he was
    jammin' at that festival with Rick Montgomery who also joined the band with Joe in a package deal.

    Great Big Mon shots Jon.....must have been the next tour Monroe did thru SF, or possibly the prior or next night.......again at the Music Hall,
    when Mike was already in the band......I got to go backstage with them & David told Bill this young kid was pretty good on the manalin......Bill
    asked Mike to play, they broke out their mandolins & I was treated to some triple mandolin. BTW Mike ripped it and Bill really lit up with a BIG smile....
    Bill also totally ripped it on his solo, just to show who was boss. I got in trouble with Bill, just a year later.....Frank Wakefield opened for Monroe
    & had Darol Anger & Todd Phillips in the band, this was also being broadcast live over the radio in Oct of '78. Since I taped the DGQ all the time
    at the Music Hall & everyone on their staff had seen me around, I just took the Revox and set up with the radio crew, in the room downstairs next
    to the dressing room. In the break between his sets Bill looked in there and saw the reel to reel machine & freaked, asked who I was.
    I told him I was there with Frank's band, loved the BG music and since anyone could tape it at home, I saw no harm in taping it from the GAMH.
    He made me erase the tape right there in front of him.....I guess he worried about the quality of the tape, but anyone could have taped it at home.
    Boy...busted by Bill Monroe , now thats the good ol' days!

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