Jesse McReynolds is set to release a Grateful Dead tribute album.
Yes… you read that right. Grand Ole Opry member, one half of the legendary bluegrass power duo Jim & Jesse, and pioneering crosspicking mandolinist Jesse McReynolds’ next album will pay homage to the music of the original jam band.
Jesse McReynolds & Friends Tribute to Jerry Garcia & Robert Hunter – Songs of the Grateful Dead is due October 5, and will feature grassy arrangements of 13 Dead classics. But unlike similar projects, Jesse delves a bit deeper into the catalog and presents material other than the most obvious, “greatest hits” selections.
The impetus for this project came from Jesse’s wife Joy, who introduced him to the Dead several years ago. She describes a bit about how this acquaintance came to be…
“My life goes through many changes, and in 1992 I meet a most wonderful man, a legend in the field of bluegrass music, by the name of Jesse McReynolds. In 1996 we marry, and are now driving to his concerts by car. To pass the time, I play my collection of music. Some artists impress him, but rarely. Not until I play the Grateful Dead project, Reckoning does he sit up and take notice. Jesse remembered Deep Elem Blues as being one of his father’s favorites and a song he hadn’t heard in a very long time. It made an impression on Jesse that Jerry covered that song. An interesting side note is that I had never heard bluegrass music before I heard it on this same recording. It makes me think that maybe if not for Jerry introducing me to his bluegrass music influences, I might not have met Jesse!
Now it’s September of 2004. A seemingly innocuous email comes into our website from someone saying ‘… in the spring of 1964 I saw you a lot, when my old friend Jerry Garcia and I drove all around through the South watching your live shows and TV shows around Dothan, AL, etc. We were totally crazy about that band!’
I’m thinking, right, this must be a joke. As it turns out, it’s not a joke at all, but really is Jerry Garcia’s friend, Sandy Rothman! And it was Sandy who made the historic trip with Jerry in that white Corvair all the way from California to the South and the East to see their heroes of bluegrass music like Bill Monroe, Jim & Jesse and others. I was floored to meet a close friend of my musical hero, Jerry Garcia. As Sandy told me the story, I told it to Jesse, who was touched and wished that Jerry and Sandy had introduced themselves to him and Jim back in 1964. So Jesse and I were thinking about how amazing this discovery was.”
You can read more of Joy’s remembrance at the Jim & Jesse web site.
We’ll see if we can’t get some more information about this project, and maybe an audio sample or two, before it hits on October 5.