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David Grisman, and Ricky Skaggs - Two Masters Of The Mandolin - |

David Grisman, and Ricky Skaggs – Two Masters Of The Mandolin

David Grisman


The picture above speaks more for David Grisman than I ever could, but then again one first must know who Stephane Grappelli is for that to work.  Stephane is as responsible for the fate of the guitar – that it became the lead instrument of the past one hundred years in almost every genre of music, as is anyone…except, of course, his original partner in musical greatness, Django Reinhardt, but without Stephane Grappelli, would we have ever known who Django was?  Such questions never keep me up at night – as I’ve little influence on the past, and so much more appreciation.

That Stephane Grappelli, the late French jazz violin virtuoso would play equal parts on stage with David Grisman suggest that Grisman is the equal of Reinhardt, and I assure you that probably nothing in this world could have pleased Grisman so well as that.  Rightfully so – as David Grisman brought the musical style that is evident on that live album to the mandolin, an instrument that before then was limited to some minor roles in classical music, and pure traditional bluegrass.

Maybe it was Grisman’s early on “street cred,” of having played with The Grateful Dead and a whole group of musical geniuses in Muleskinner that landed him a gig playing with Grappelli, or maybe it was just the fact that he could play the role of Django so well from a totally different instrument, but regardless, every warm body holding a stringed instrument to ever play with David Grisman in his professional career has been an all out stud on their instrument.  Topping it all off for me is that David played an integral part in the transformation of Tony Rice from being a brilliant Clarence White style bluegrass guitarist into a full throttle jazz fusion expert.  But of course David Grisman had also played with the great Clarence White too.

The Music Of David Grisman

A terrific tribute to the varied and wonderful acoustic music career of mandolin gunslinger and jazz fusion pioneer, David Grisman.

Rating by Wesman Todd Shaw: 5.0 stars

Ricky Skaggs

Bluegrass Rules!

There isn’t a more powerful force in traditional music in America than Mr. Ricky Skaggs.  This man is quite the opposite in every way from David Grisman – except that they are pretty close in talent.  It isn’t for me to say which one of them is the most talented or the better mandolin player – they only compare to each other in being musical masters, total instrumental wizards, and people that have always fronted the finest possible ensemble with their name attached to it. Both are players of styles based out of traditional Appalachian music, but  David Grisman, of course – went from traditional music to jazz fusion whereas Ricky Skaggs left traditional music to become a country music superstar, and now has returned to his roots with a passion that screams I’m making up for lost time!

These two masters of the mandolin are probably unlikely to play together as they are totally different personalities that rival each other for mandolin playing supremacy in a rather strange sort of way – they compete by not competing, strange as that might sound.  Ricky Skaggs, of course, plays many other instruments about as well as he plays the mandolin, but perhaps David Grisman should still be thought the complete equal of the talented Mr. Skaggs because Grisman plays some rather more complicated free form musical styles?  I don’t know – what I do know is that I love the music that both of them have provided the world over the years, and I’m not likely to get too worked up over this competition that might well only exist between my own ears.

The Music Of Ricky Skaggs

Multi Instrumentalist and Singer Ricky Skaggs fronts the best band in all of Bluegrass music, and plays several instruments with a huge degree of skill.

Rating by Wesman Todd Shaw: 5.0 stars

The Gibson F5 Mandolin

There is so much to be said about the beauty and the brilliance of the design of Lloyd Loar’s Gibson F5 mandolin, and forever it is the real star of the show.  Of course there are other great mandolins out there – but mostly they are based either in part or in full on the Gibson F5 style and design – and of course there are many another terrific mandolin player, Sam Bush especially comes to mind, and another man who I’ve seen play, John Reischman – all terrific musicians – and incidentally, all of them have recorded with the fabulous guitarist Tony Rice and his famous Martin D 28.

It would be criminal here to omit the mention of the name Bill Monroe, but again – just where would Bill Monroe have been without the luthier Lloyd Loar and his Stradivarius level mandolin?  It is truly hard to say – thank goodness there is no need to bother.

The Gibson F5 Mandolin


Gibson Inspired By Sam Bush 1934 F5 Fern Mandolin

Lloyd Loar designed it, and all the greats play it – this is the Stradivarius of the mandolin

Rating by Wesman Todd Shaw: 5.0 stars

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  • Article by Wesman Todd Shaw

    avatar A Texas native, I love music, history, science, and good food. More than any of that, I love good friends and good conversation. I'm a bit overly into debating on the web, it's just irresistible to me sometimes. I have a long history with acoustic guitars, and love those things above most others. If you also love acoustic guitars, then I am a resource you should enjoy, but I also would like to prove myself useful to you, and in other ways still.
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