Watson, Grisman make beautiful music together
Beckman Auditorium, Pasadena, Cal., March 14, 1998
PASADENA - Having a traditional Appalachian folk performer in concert at one of the nerdiest high-tech institutions in the country seemed like an odd combination at the outset, but as soon as Doc Watson took the stage with mandolin Dawg David Grisman, the audience was quickly transported back to a simpler time in the world when trains were considered a modern mechanical innovation and singing about courting the prettiest girl in town was the order of the day.
Watson and Grisman first met in New York City in the early Sixties, when, as Watson describes it, Grisman "picked the splinters" out of his mandolin, a feat which immediately impressed Watson.
And as these two wily music veterans joined forces for an evening of acoustic folk, country, and bluegrass music, they provided ample evidence that the two gray haired players still know how to pick the splinters out of their respective instruments.
Early in the set, Watson and Grisman harmonized beautifully on the standard "In the Pines," after which they proceeded to treat this packed concert hall to a tightly-packed gift box of musical delights.
Best of which was the blissful strumming in time from Grisman on "Kentucky Waltz"; one of three Bill Monroe compositions played.
Another Monroe number, placed towards the end of the set, "Watson's Blues," gave Grisman the opportunity to point out Watson is one of the few musicians to have had the father of bluegrass music name a song after him.
While bluegrass was the primary wellspring for song selections this evening, including dips into the discographies of Flatt and Scruggs, The Delmore Brothers and Jim and Jesse, Watson and Grisman showed a jazzier side by playing Gershwin's "Summertime" and having a swinging go at "Sweet Georgia Brown."
These two compatible players closed the evening with the scenic courting classic "Shady Grove," and this thoughtful song of love served as a timely reminder of just why music fans have fallen in love with Watson's precise and soulful playing.
It also revealed once again that Watson and Grisman are simply the perfect musical couple to bring these time-tested traditional songs to life; even in a place where the latest discoveries of science usually take centerstage.