Jerry Garcia and David Grisman enjoyed getting together in Grisman's studio to record informally for their friends, with the mandolinist wisely choosing to share their best efforts with the public by releasing a series of CDs following Garcia's death. With various members of Grisman's quintet and a couple of other musicians as well, the two old friends explore a wide range of material, including a bluegrass treatment of James Brown's "I'll Go Crazy," an instrumental of a popular old sea shanty renamed "Handsome Cabin Boy Waltz," and country legend Jimmie Rodgers' "Blue Yodel No. 9," along with fresh interpretations of works by Bob Dylan, Merle Travis, and Mel Tillis.
The Ozark Mountain Daredevils spent most of their existence identified as a country-pop band, but when they first got together, they were a country outfit with some specific roots rock influences, closer in spirit to the Byrds of Sweetheart of the Rodeo than to the Eagles or Poco, and more of the real article – as all of the bandmembers were still living in Springfield, MO – than even the Byrds were by 1968. These sessions – dating from the summer of 1972, well over a year before the band first recorded and before it even had a name – represent those roots, and the songs also arguably represent the Daredevils' finest body of work, with sweet and unpretentious harmonies and stripped-down (yet often very sweet) playing (check out "On Our Carousel," which could have been a single and is worth the price of the disc), all within a much purer country idiom than the band later manifested.
Carthy's debut album rates a place alongside the album by Bob Dylan, as the debut work of a man who ultimately revolutionized folk music performance in England (Carthy is mentioned as an influence on the notes to Dylan's Freewheelin' album). This is Carthy's purest and simplest folk effort, an all-acoustic recording done in barely an afternoon that includes his version of "Scarborough Fair," awhich Paul Simon learned from Carthy (including the chords and changes from Carthy's arrangement) and transformed into a hit of his own. Also here is "Two Magicians," a song that later entered the repertory Steeleye Span, and "Lovely Joan," a folk song that is most familiar to classical listeners as the source of the counter-melody to Ralph Vaughan Williams' "Fantasia on Greensleeves." The playing and the interpretations are somewhat less ambitious and rather rougher than subsequent efforts, with Dave Swarbrick guesting on fiddle on about half the tracks, and Carthy's guitar covering all but the acapella tracks.