Good Old Boys 1975 live album a 5-Star performance

Bluegrass being important to Jerry Garcia's musical soul, he did a few grass projects apart from Grateful Dead—for example, two acoustic nights with the Good Old Boys at Margarita's Cantina in Santa Cruz, CA. Here are 24 songs from those 1975 evenings, with Garcia filling in on banjo and Brantley Kearns on fiddle.
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GOOD OLD BOYS
LIVE: DRINK UP & GO HOME
Rock Beat (2-CD Set)

5 Stars

Bluegrass being important to Jerry Garcia's musical soul, he did a few grass projects apart from Grateful Dead—for example, Old & In The Way and informal sessions with David Grisman. Then there was Good Old Boys including mandolin maestro Frank Wakefield, bassist Pat Campbell and, from New Riders of The Purple Sage, David Nelson on guitar. Garcia produced their delightful LP Pistol Packin' Mamafor the Dead's label Round (not to be confused with Rounder). Between its recording and its release, the quintet played two all-acoustic nights at Margarita's Cantina in Santa Cruz, CA. Here are 24 songs from those 1975 evenings, with Garcia filling in on banjo and Brantley Kearns on fiddle.

We hear why bluegrass has been called folk music in overdrive as the boys pick their way through bygone country classics like “Here To Get My Baby Out of Jail,” “White House Blues” and “T For Texas.” The high, quavering harmonies of early bluegrass end the title track, which Garcia later recorded with Grisman. “Dim Lights” had already been covered by New Riders.

David Nelson* tells the legend of the blessing of Wakefield's hands as a child. Then comes one of Frank's near-classical compositions, all of which he's titled “Jesus Loves His Mandolin Player.” Amid the quintet's instrumental solos, the five-minute finale “Orange Blossom Special” gives a glimpse of Franklin Delano Roosevelt Wakefield's humor. With generally good audio, these discs offer bluegrass the way its founder and patriarch Bill Monroe heard it.

—Bruce Sylvester

*This is a correction to the printed review in the April 2019 issue which mistakenly identified Jerry Garcia as the storyteller.

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