Sam Grisman Project: Temple Cabin Sessions

Sam Grisman Project: Sessions in the Temple Cabin

Rudi Greenberg on March 3, 2023

Sam Grisman Project: Sessions in the Temple Cabin

Sam Grisman knows the weight of his last name. As the son of Dawg’s music creator and Jerry Garcia collaborator David Grisman, the younger bassist Grisman recognizes his role in building the family business. With the debut release of the Sam Grisman Project, Temple Cabin Sessions, Grisman builds on his legacy, offering refreshing versions of a wide mix of songs from the Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia and, of course, the Garcia/Grisman canons. Like Dad, Grisman surrounds himself with talented musicians who elevate the music of a cover band into something more akin to a jazz crew playing standards while cunningly subverting expectations. (He won’t be hearing any Garcia-style Mu-Tron, for example.) “Stealin,” a 1920s jug band song recorded by Garcia and Dawg, gets a high-energy, Cajun-style New Orleans makeover courtesy of singer Ric Robertson, a multi-instrumentalist who plays the keys here. Tyler Neal adds a slide guitar solo that would do Derek Trucks proud, while Alex Hargreaves, the newest member of Billy Strings’ group, sets up some fiery fiddle runs. Alternating between electrified drum-driven rock songs and acoustic single-mic numbers, Temple Cabin Sessions showcases the variety and loose, carefree style of the Sam Grisman Project. Nothing feels forced or overloaded; even “Friend of the Devil,” a song Grisman’s father played with the Dead in the studio, takes a fresh approach, adding the final verse that Robert Hunter used to play live. Grisman himself takes lead vocals on that Easter egg, his deep, surprisingly worn voice adding weight: “You can borrow from the Devil / You can borrow from a friend / But the Devil will give you twenty / When your friend’s only ten.” ” “Catfish John” mixes reggae with bluegrass, “Shady Grove” gets the most traditional interpretation on the album, and “Peggy-O” remains beautiful, simple and heartfelt. Temple Cabin Sessionsit’s clear that Grisman’s legacy is in good hands with Sam at the helm.

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