Monday, January 14, 2002

David Grier

David GrierI'm happy to report that last night I and perhaps 15 or so other folks attended the recent performance by premiere flatpicking artist David Grier at the Red Light Cafe here in Atlanta.

David is that rare type of performer whose talents far exceed their draw at the ticket counter. Nevertheless, his technical mastery, perceptive creativity, sense of style and humble demeanor make his appearances a great joy to behold. It also makes him one of the most sought after sidemen in various bluegrass/newgrass recording sessions.

Additionally, Grier's enjoyable homespun stage banter fills in the gaps between groups of intense licks that make up his compositions and covers and provides a connection to the life of the artist. Last evening, Grier recalled for his hushed audience the tale of naming a particular song, a chore that he struggles with. In a road trip along California's coast, David attempts to make small talk to keep driver and dog house bass player Todd Phillips awake and alert by asking Phillips if he'd ever been to England. Phillips was inexplicably perplexed and later revealed that he'd heard David say, "Have you ever been dinglin'?" Presumably, Phillips thought not. They laughed themselves to tears and David named his next composition "Have You Ever Been To England".

In another story, Grier revealed that one tune he prefers was actually written, to his own surprise, by the father of long-time friend Doug Dillard, the lanky and pleasant banjoman for the Dillards band; formerly known as the "Darling Boys" portrayed in the 60's television sitcom "The Andy Griffith Show". The Dillard dad, Homer Dillard, did indeed write the tune High Dad in the Mornin'--and Grier gladly played it for us. But before he did, Grier went on to relate some insider tales of the time that Doug Dillard pulled some strings to get his father on the Gong Show. As a backwoods mountain man, Homer Dillard cut an intriguing figure with his integrated banjo, harmonica and clog-dance performance. So intent on pleasing the judges was he that Homer actually approached each judge in turn and at close range intensified his act to gain their approval in the form of high marks. Homer won the Gong Show top prize that day with a perfect 10 and David can attest to the fact that the trophy still sits quietly and unaccompanied atop the Dillard family's expansive mantle.

Those of you who have read this far will be please to know that David is working on a new solo CD to be made available at his website.