Shady Grove

Not Rated

Shady Grove is the way Jerry Garcia's last years should be remembered. Whatever problems the Grateful Dead guitarist had with substance abuse and the burdens of his celebrity, he left them at the door whenever he stopped off at mandolinist David Grisman's Dawg Studios for a session. Recorded from 1990 to 1993, Shady Grove captures Garcia and Grisman — whose friendship and passion for traditional folk and country music went back three decades — in relaxed, intimate form, roaming through their old records and public-domain songbooks, playing the unplugged hits of their, and America's, youth. The picking is immaculate; Garcia's singing is shaky in that gentle, endearing way that was unmistakably his; and the tunes — hardy old ballads and barn-dance kickers going back to the Civil War and beyond — underscore the truly deathless beauty and virtue of Garcia's life's work.