Bluegrass fans “of a certain age” will recall the time in the 1970s when Jerry Garcia, guitarist with the then-underground rock band, The Grateful Dead, was making the rounds performing bluegrass as banjoist with a band called Old & In The Way. The group also included current and future legends David Grisman on mandolin and Vassar Clements on fiddle, plus former Bluegrass Boy and an emerging vocalist in his own right, Peter Rowan..
Long before the San Francisco acid rock scene that spawned The Dead, Garcia had been a serious student of bluegrass banjo and had known and performed with Grisman when they were younger. Dedicated deadheads know that Jerry was missing part of one finger of his right hand, and had developed a unique approach to banjo picking as a result.
Even now, many years after the band was last active, and Jerry Garcia’s death in 1995, Old & In The Way, and the one CD they recorded 30 years ago, is still credited with bringing new fans to bluegrass music.
We say all that in order to say this: Alan Dalton, a Florida banjo picker and instructor, has released a banjo songbook companion to the Old & In The Way CD from 1975, which includes lead sheets for each song, with guitar and banjo chords, plus banjo tab for most of Garcia’s breaks. Alan also includes a CD with the book, with him playing each of the banjo tabs, presumably at a slower speed.