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Old And In The Gray
Old And In The Gray

Review By Steven Stone
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Old And In The Gray Old And In The Gray

CD Number: Acoustic Disc ACD-51


  Seventeen years ago Jerry Garcia, David Grisman, Peter Rowan, Vassar Clements, and John Kahn released the first and only Old and In The Way LP. Although it didn't make a huge splash initially, its impact grew exponentially through the years. Few albums have been as influential in introducing impressionable young listeners to the joys of traditional acoustic music. After far too long a time-span the remaining original contributors finally released a second helping called, appropriately enough, Old and in the Gray. Joined by Bryn Bright replacing the late John Kahn on bass and Herb Pederson filling in for Jerry Garcia, this new amalgam's music has that same joyous spark as the original.

Old and in the Gray isn't bluegrass exactly, more like folk-grass or olde-timey-grass. Less traditional material like John Hartford's "Good Old Boys," Townes Van Zandt's "Pancho and Lefty," and Jagger/Richard's "Honky Tonk Woman," join bluegrass standards Carter Stanley's "The Flood," Ira Louvin's "Childish Love," and Bill Monroe's "On The Old Kentucky Shore," to form an eclectic song mix. Compared to bands like Ricky Skagg's Kentucky Thunder or Del McCoury's boys, Old and in the Gray sound sort of raggedy-ass. Instead of the lock-step almost Prussian precision of many modern bluegrass bands Old and in the Gray are looser than a dishrag. Harmonies, especially the baritone parts, have a certain elusive vagueness to their pitch. Even Peter Rowan's lead vocals often slide around notes like a monkey on a well-greased pole. But Old and in the Gray's looseness is endearing. These folks don't have to prove anything they just want to have fun.

If you haven't heard any Acoustic Disk recordings you might be surprised by how wonderful this disc sounds. Those of us with more than a few Acoustic Disk releases on our shelves are used to their characteristically superlative sound. Clarity and warmth abound, along with perfect balance between instruments and vocals. Old and in the Gray combines loose light-hearted performances with first-rate sound.




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