Mandolin Mania

Thanks to everybody who wished me a happy birthday last week. One of the presents I received was a 1940s-era mandolin-banjo. I messed around with it a little bit and decided to sign up for a mandolin class at the Old Town School of Folk Music. I’m looking forward to strolling into class with that unholy mutation under my arm. In the meantime I’ve been listening to mandolin music and I figured I’d share some with all of you.

Jerry Garcia and David Grisman “The Thrill Is Gone” (B.B. King)
Since Bill Monroe is dead David Grisman is arguably the greatest living mandolin player. He’s played and recorded with various members of the Grateful Dead over the years, including an album he did with Uncle Jerry in the early 90s. Here we have a jazzy take on B.B. King’s signature song featuring some great work from Mr. Grisman.

David West And Friends “Purple Haze” (Jimi Hendrix)
It’s a pleasant enough bluegrass workout that starts with Hendrix and winds its way through a few other touchstones of the classic rock canon.

Charles River Valley Boys “Ticket To Ride” (Beatles)
When searching for covers featuring the mandolin it’s hard to find ones that aren’t Beatles songs. I’m not sure if that has something to do with the Beatles or with mandolin players.

Wanda Vick feat. Kourtney Wilson “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” (U2)
Longtime readers already know that I find Bono to be a pompous preening jerk and that I think U2’s music is grandiose and tedious. But even flaccid arena rock sounds warmer when it’s arranged for a string band.

Jim Richter-Kimble “Brownsville Blues” (James “Yank” Rachell)
Bluegrass mandolin players are a dime a dozen, there are plenty of jazz mandolin players and even mandolin orchestras that play classical music. You don’t hear the mandolin much in blues songs, but one of the great blues mandolin players was Yank Rachell. This song comes from a Yank Rachell tribute album that came out a couple of years ago.

6 thoughts on “Mandolin Mania

  1. Toby

    Have you heard Uncle Monk, featuring Tommy Ramone on mandolin???? Also, Theme from Godfather on the Traversata album of Italian folk music by David Grisman et al.

  2. Sue LaFleur

    What a brilliant present!! Recycled and vintage too. Happy strumming or is it plucking?

  3. allison

    We have the same birthday! Happy birthday, us.

    Your description of U2 so perfectly captures how I feel about them, but could never quite articulate.

    You are my hero.

  4. Steve McI

    Toby, I haven’t heard either of those. I’ll try to track them down and check them out. Thanks for the suggestions.

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