40 years of Old & In The Way

It’s a sure sign you’re getting old when when a band that was a touchstone of your youth celebrates its 40th Anniversary.

Old & In The Way formed in 1973, with Jerry Garcia on banjo, David Grisman on mandolin, Vassar Clements on fiddle, Peter Rowan on guitar and vocals, and John Kahn on bass. None had achieved the legendary status to which they would ascend over the next 20 years, though all were well-known artists, Clements and Garcia most particularly.

Two years before their debut album rocked the music world in 1975, a pair of shows they played at The Boarding House in San Francisco were recorded in October of 1973. That second show, on October 8, provided the tracks for their eponymous LP, which has been one of the best selling bluegrass records of all time.

Now, Grisman’s Acoustic Oasis label has released all of the music from those two shows in one package, 55 tracks in all, with 14 cuts not previously released. They are available as HD audio downloads from the Acoustic Oasis web site as Old & in the Way – The Complete Boarding House Tapes.

Looking back from today’s perspective, Grisman recalls those sessions 40 years ago…

“Although we didn’t realize what an impact this music would have at the time, we had a lot of fun playing the bluegrass music we loved and these tapes reveal that in a big way.”

Both shows were recorded live to 2 track by Owsley Stanley III, and mastered for HD audio by Grisman.

A complete track listing follows:

October 1, 1973 (*previously unreleased)

  1. On and On
  2. I’m On My Way Back to the Old Home
  3. Catfish John*
  4. Lonesome Fiddle Blues
  5. Land of the Navajo*
  6. Down Where the River Bends*
  7. I Ain’t Broke But I’m Badly Bent
  8. Lost
  9. Kissimee Kid
  10. Lonesome L.A. Cowboy
  11. Pig in a Pen
  12. Wild Horses
  13. Midnight Moonlight
  1. Muleskinner Blues
  2. Goin’ to the Races
  3. Old and in the Way*
  4. Old and in the Way Breakdown*
  5. Panama Red
  6. Hard Hearted
  7. That High Lonesome Sound
  8. The Hobo Song
  9. Drifting Too Far From the Shore*
  10. Angel Band
  11. Wicked Path of Sin
  12. Home Is Where the Heart Is*
  13. Uncle Pen
  14. Orange Blossom Special
  15. Blue Mule*

October 8, 1973 (*previously unreleased)

  1. Home Is Where the Heart Is
  2. Love Please Come Home
  3. Down Where the River Bends
  4. Kissimee Kid
  5. Pig in a Pen
  6. Uncle Pen*
  7. Panama Red
  8. Midnight Moonlight
  9. White Dove
  10. Wild Horses
  11. Orange Blossom Special*
  12. Old and in the Way
  13. Lonesome Fiddle Blues*
  1. On and On
  2. Land of the Navajo
  3. Catfish John
  4. Til the End of the World Rolls ‘Round
  5. Drifting Too Far From the Shore
  6. I’m Knocking On Your Door
  7. Old & In the Way Breakdown
  8. You’ll Find Her Name Written There
  9. Jerry’s Breakdown
  10. The Great Pretender
  11. Working On a Building
  12. That High Lonesome Sound*
  13. Wicked Path of Sin*
  14. Blue Mule*

As an aside, it may serve as an interesting side note that 1975 was the year of another album that set the bluegrass world on its ear, the self-titled record from J.D. Crowe & the New South, more commonly known these days by its catalog number, Rounder 0044. Both it and Old & In The Way were jeered by a good many bluegrass purists for deviating from the straight and narrow, though both have had a lasting impact on the direction the music has taken since. You might even say that they were each launching pads for divergent streams within the genre.

The players change, the argument stays the same.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.