Rhino Records has resurrected the sole album from the Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band, Almost Acoustic, recorded live in 1988. They have also released the group’s only other recording, Ragged But Right, a second set of live takes that has lain fallow this past 20 years.
Devoted Dead Heads know that Garcia was a serious student of banjo long before the Grateful Dead coalesced, and played bluegrass in California with David Grisman and others. Perhaps the most prominent example of his grass side was the classic Old & In The Way record, which featured Peter Rowan, Vassar Clements and John Kahn along with Grisman and Garcia.
Going way back to the 1960s, Jerry performed with the Black Mountain Boys, which included Sandy Rothman on guitr and David Nelson on mandolin. When the Acoustic Band formed in ’87, he started with this same trio, adding Kenny Kosek on fiddle, Kahn again on bass and David Kemper on drums. Their music wasn’t so much bluegrass as a hybrid of sorts that has since informed the sound of the jamgrass scene that followed.
Both albums are available on CD from the Grateful Dead web site, along with Rothman’s producer notes and a lengthy history of the Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band by Steve Silberman, for $23.98.
The site reports that only limited quantities of this bundle are available.