David Grisman, one of the most innovative mandolin players of the last half-century, is bringing his one-of-a-kind “Dawg” music to Boone, North Carolina, on Friday at 8 p.m. in the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts. His touring band, the David Grisman Sextet, is comprised of several talented bluegrass and jazz musicians, all of whom are long-time Grisman companions. The night will begin with an opening performance by Bryan Sutton Band, led by the Asheville-native and Nashville-famous Bryan Sutton on acoustic guitar. The show is presented by An Appalachian Summer Festival, one of the nation’s largest multi-arts festivals that has been consecutively named on the “Top Twenty Events in the Southeast” by the Southeast Tourism Society.
Grisman was a mainstay in the Greenwich Village folk scene of the 1960s until moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he met and recorded with Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead. The two friends formed the iconic bluegrass group Old & In The Way in 1973, with their only album becoming one of the best-selling bluegrass albums of all time. According to accounts from Grisman, it was Garcia that coined Grisman’s nickname, “Dawg,” after passing a dog while on a joy ride through Stinson Beach in his new Bentley. It was a random occurrence that stuck, and eventually became the moniker of Grisman’s genre-transcending music.
If you have never experienced “Dawg” before, you can expect a mesmerizing fusion of bluegrass, jazz and Mediterranean folk music that has been redefining acoustic string music for more than five decades. The undeniable chemistry of Grisman’s sextet makes for an animated show that moves along a free flowing river of improvisation. Dawg’s jovial presence bounces around a concert hall with a force surpassing that of artists half his age. His infectious spirit is sure to have every last pair of feet stomping around the recently renovated Schaefer Center on Friday. Being that Grisman’s son, Samson Grisman, will be playing bass with Bryan Sutton Band, it would not be an unlikely surprise if the two bands were to perform on stage together at some point during the show.
For Boone locals, students and music enthusiasts in the region alike, this is going to be a timeless musical experience that is definitely not to be missed.
Written by Richard Oakley