David Grisman Quartet – Dawg Music

David Grisman Quartet: Dawg Music

Back in the mid 70’s, mandolinist David Grisman had been venturing into a new style of music (called Dawg Music) that combined the acoustic instruments of bluegrass and the drive, and meshed it with jazzier style chord changes and note choices. The result was an album that was released in 77′ that changed the course of acoustic music forever.

The band had one very unique instrument change different from bluegrass.. Instead of a banjo, David used Todd Phillips as a second mandolinist for mostly rhythm, which gave the music more drive while David was soloing.

David who carefully planed out this quartet, even enlisted Jazz guitarist John Carlini for orchestrating and arranging for the new group. John would later personally tell me that the band practiced an entire year before they ever played a gig or recorded.

The original line up was as follows: David Grisman – mandolin, Tony Rice – guitar, Darol Anger – fiddle, Bill Amatneek – bass Todd Phillips – mandolin.

Guitarist Tony Rice, who in my opinion was a large reason why this music worked so well, would later leave to explore other avenues. His replacement was fiddle virtuoso Mark O’Connor, who is/was a tremendous guitarist that fit right into this new style of music. And not unlike other bands that have many musicians come and go, David’s Quintet or Quartet would undergo many changes over the years. But hats off to David for always keeping his bands at the highest level possible with total quality band members.

This particular video features Dawg along withTony Rice, Mark O’Connor (fiddle), & Rob Wasserman…. which means that this took place after bassist Bill Amatneek’s departure.

Also of interest…. Todd Phillips, who ended up leaving the Quintet and replaced by mandolin virtuoso Mike Marshall, would continue to play with all the newgrassers, (even a long standing member of the Tony Rice Unit), but only on bass.

The song here was the opening track to that first Grisman Quintet album entitled E.M.D.  To be honest, it doesn’t really sound much like the original at all, which was so carefully orchestrated. This version is almost like a jam session, as Mark and Tony are taking more than just one break. Also, Rob Wasserman’s bass playing is much jazzier and more of a 4/4 feel than that of Bill Amatneek’s.

If you’ve heard Dawg’s original version, which do you like better? Let me know your thoughts…




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