As young rock and folk artists take their cues from traditional bluegrass musicians, they needn't look far to discover David Grisman's dynamic influence on acoustic music.
The David Grisman Bluegrass Experience will perform at 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, at the Historic Ashland Armory, 208 Oak St., Ashland.
As a mandolinist, composer and bandleader, Grisman embraced many musical genres and traditions to forge a distinctive form of contemporary American music — one affectionately nicknamed "Dawg music" by Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead.
"I'm a firm believer that great art, music and ideas will stand the test of time because they become part of people's lives ... the good part," Grisman says in an interview with Mike Bookey of The Source Weekly in Bend.
Traditional bluegrass has always been Grisman's biggest musical thrill. He was 16 when mandolinist and folklorist Ralph Rinzler invited him to hear Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys play in 1961. The experience changed Grisman's life and profoundly affected the musical path he would take over the next five decades.
Grisman started out in the early '60s in the folk-music scene of Greenwich Village. He worked with Even Dozen Jug Band, Red Allen and the Kentuckians and other urban bluegrass contemporaries such as Garcia and Peter Rowan.
Later, his interests spread to jazz, and his career as a session musician lent him the experience of playing many styles of music and stretching the boundaries of the mandolin. His discography is filled with notables such as Garcia, Stephane Grappelli, the Dead, John Hartford, Del McCoury, Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt, Earl Scruggs, James Taylor, Doc Watson, Andy Statman and others.
In the mid-'70s, Grisman met guitarist Tony Rice, and they formed an acoustic string band, the David Grisman Quintet. It was then that Grisman put the "Dawg music" spin on his band — an intricate hybrid of swing, bluegrass, Latin and jazz. The quintet also has featured artists such as Svend Asmussen, Hal Blaine, Vassar Clements, Grappelli, Mike Marshall, Statman and Frank Vignola.
Grisman returned to his bluegrass roots in 2003 with the David Grisman Bluegrass Experience. This traditional band's lineup includes Grisman on mandolin, Keith Little on five-string banjo, guitar and vocals, Jim Nunally on guitar and vocals, Chad Manning on fiddle and Grisman's son, Samson, on bass.
Grisman's new CD, "Dawg Plays Big Mon," a tribute to Monroe's 100th birthday, was released last month.
Tickets for the concert cost $22 in advance or $25 at the door. Advance tickets are available at the Music Coop in Ashland, Bad Ass Coffee in Medford, at www.ticketswest.com or by calling 800-992-8499.