Though he's best known for his leadership of the Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia, like mandolinist David Grisman, got his musical start in the folk "revival" of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Meeting at that time, the two struck up a lifelong musical and personal friendship that continues to bear fruit even after Garcia's death.
Grisman describes this album in his introductory note as "comprised of traditional folk songs and ballads," and that pretty well sums it up. He and Garcia work their way through a baker's dozen of such numbers, spanning a variety of folk styles from the jug band blues of "Stealin'" to the centuries-old ballad "Fair Ellender," through a variety of old-time country styles, such as the twin banjo (!) "Sweet Sunny South."
Most are instrumentally duets, with Garcia handling the vocals; occasionally the two pickers are supplemented by one or two members of Grisman's band, mostly fiddler/percussionist Joe Craven and bassist James Kerwin.
The performances are solid, though Garcia's singing is something of an acquired taste. "Shady Grove" can perhaps do for new generations what the New Lost City Ramblers (a "revivalist" string band much beloved by both Garcia and Grisman)did for urban audiences 35 years ago: introduce them to a small part of thewealth of folk styles and songs that have been an essential part.