Sadly, Fairport’s Cropredy Convention 2020 has been postponed until 2021. Here at At The Barrier, we are very lucky to have all the members of Fairport Convention write for us in a series of Why I Love specials.
Every artist we are lucky to feature on this column is special but Fairport Convention are the first band to contribute pieces individually. Chris Leslie picks up where Dave Pegg left off in our Why I Love column.
Whilst being a member of Fairport Convention, Chris Leslie is also a member of Feast Of Fiddles and St Agnes Fountain. He has appeared on albums with Ashley Hutchings and Mostly Autumn (amongst many others).
Here, Chris Leslie shares his love of American mandolinist, David Grisman.
I was on tour in Germany with singer-songwriter Steve Ashley back in 1979. I had come down for breakfast and our host had put some music on – my ears pricked up immediately. I heard the most exquisite, hot, funky mandolin playing set among outrageously fluid guitar, fiddle and bass. It was like a cocktail of bluegrass, old time, bee bop, and funk.
This was the ground-breaking Quintet album by the David Grisman Quintet featuring David on mandolin and vocals; Tony Rice on guitar and vocals; Daryl Anger on fiddle, mandolin, violectra, and vocals; Bill Amatneek on bass; and Todd Philips on mandolin. I couldn’t get over the sound and intensity of the playing. It was phenomenal.
Grisman’s music (which he calls ‘Dawg Music’) has stayed with me through all my years as a musician ever since. He has his roots in the bluegrass fraternity while also absorbing jazz, funk, Motown, and the Great American Songbook. He is a prolific instrumental composer, mandolin-historian and collector. He has played and recorded with such diverse musicians as The Grateful Dead, Stephane Grappelli, and Frank Vignola.
Over the years, as well as the original quintet members, he has had a steady flow of incredible musicians pass through the ranks of his band: Mike Marshall, Mark O’Connor, and Joe Craven to name a few. He has also recorded duo projects with Gerry Garcia, and with Martin Taylor and is still on the road with his quintet.
Through all these years he also put his music out on his own label ‘Acoustic Disc’ and recorded so many releases for other artists as well. His music has evolved and continues to weave a great and unique blend of genres that are dear to his heart.
David Grisman has been a constant inspiration to me, albeit in a genre I don’t really play myself, but I just love it! It always inspires me to pick up my mandolin and play… thanks man.
A huge thanks to Chris Leslie for sharing his love of David Grisman with us. If you want to find out more about David Grisman, you can check out his website here.
Below, you can watch Fairport Convention performing John Gaudie at Fairport’s Cropredy Convention in 2015. This is a song that Chris wrote and is always a highlight when the band air it as part of their live set.