Old And In The Way

In spite of what you might think — especially given the fact that this blog is mostly for and about geezers — the title of this piece does not refer to a pathetic old guy who is feeling a little unappreciated. It is instead about a short-lived 1970s bluegrass band of that name led by Jerry Garcia, who is now mostly remembered as the heart and soul of the Grateful Dead.oldbw

When Garcia died a couple of decades back, he not only left behind a lot of forlorn Deadheads, but also a legacy of musical adventures into other disciplines. Although the Grateful Dead was pretty much a constant for him during its three decades of life, Garcia loved a lot of different types of music and often cobbled together other groups to explore it.

In 1973 he decided to form a band that would specialize in bluegrass, and he recruited David Grisman, Vassar Clements, Peter Rowan, and John Kahn to join him. All were experienced pros with a solid footing in a variety of styles that included bluegrass, and it wasn’t long before Old & In The Way was making music. Although it was only around for a year or two, the group was a popular attraction in live shows in San Francisco, and recordings from some of those appearances were made into an album a couple of years later.

That initial album became a favorite for many fans, and after Garcia’s death in 1995 some of the same bunch of original recordings found their way onto a couple of albums of expanded collections. At about the same time, some of the original members of the group put together a new band for live shows (see video below) and a few years later issued a new album.

olcdOld & In The Way – “Hobo Song”

7 thoughts on “Old And In The Way

  1. As usual, your words ring true. As an early AOR PD/MD I encountered a lot of Jerry Garcia’s output both group wise and solo. A creative, easy to like and talented dude.


    1. I’ll admit that I’d always sort of glossed over the Grateful Dead in my listening preferences, but lately have been finding a lot I like.

      PS you’re going to have to translate all those acronyms for me. I could guess, but it might be even more embarrassing…


  2. The genesis of Old and In the Way goes back even further. I saw the Grateful Dead in 1970 at the Fillmore and they started the gig with a proto-version of Old and In the Way. At the time they just had Peter Rowan of the famous members (Jerry, of course, and some of the Dead). Jerry and others also did a folkie type set before the Dead did their thing. All up it lasted five or six hours. The last bus had stopped running to Berkeley where I was living and I had to walk through Oakland at 3 or 4 in the morning.


    1. That’s a great story, Peter. Personal experiences are always much appreciated on the GMC, and that’s much more informative than what I found on ALLMUSIC, which only mentioned his interest in the genre. ‘Garcia formed the band in 1973 as a way to revisit his bluegrass roots and demonstrate his affection for the music.’

      Wait. . .so you’re a deadhead? 🙂


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