And The Dead Strings
Cast Your Eyes to the Mountain
Pickin' on the Grateful Dead Vol. 2
catalog-no. tx 3019
country/folk - 2000
It should have become pretty obvious for those having read these personal notes by David West on "CAST YOUR EYES TO THE MOUNTAIN" that this album, his second volume of Grateful Dead interpretations, has again become a real labor of love. David and his friends have continued on the highly original stylistic path that was mapped out on "IGNORE ALIEN ORDERS" (Taxim) and in the process have remained true to their own musical ideas. It is impressive to what a high degree this amazingly talented multi-instrumentalist has poured his soul into the renditions of selections by the Grateful Dead – an American musical legend he feels closely related to. But again - he's a Californian native...
The major achievement of this great acoustic music is to present selections from the Grateful Dead catalog as true classics of American roots music. To thisvery day, the songs of Jerry Garcia, Robert Hunter and company are mostly considered as classic examples of the U.S. hippie culture. While this is true to a great extent, it has been overlooked – especially in Europe – how much the music of the Grateful Dead is an expression of authentic Americana. The combination of Robert Hunter's mythically inspired lyrics and the collective sound of this band is a one of a kind expression of American identity. But the Dead have not made it too obvious to recognize....
With "CAST YOUR EYES TO THE MOUNTAIN" David West & the Deadstrings again not only deliver a document of their own masterful musicianship, but put these songs where they belong – in the pantheon of American roots music. It's passionate music that delivers good clean fun and more: acoustic music for the heart and soul. Enjoy!
David West about "Cast Your Eyes to the Mountain":
"A friend who is familiar with Deadhead lore recently told me that if you are standing on the beach at a certain central California town and cast eyes eastward upon the coastal mountains, you will see, comprised of rocks, trees and bushes, the likeness of Jerry Garcia. In my opinion this is not unlike the religiously inspired visions seen by the faithful in places like Guadalupe, Mexico or Lourdes, France, where the Virgin Mary has appeared. 'Look and ye shall find.' As of this writing, I haven't looked.
So it seems, under the watchful, bespectacled eyes of the "phantom Jerry", that I began another volume of Dead interpretations. Once again I've assembled a stellar cast of players to interpret Grateful Dead songs in a bluegrass/country style, showcasing along with the Dead's great melodies and changes, some great playing and arrangements.
Like Volume !, the work came easy. Almost as if that famous hand was guiding the sessions (Garcia's hand, noteworthy for its missing middle finger, is perhaps symbolic of a total absence of malice. We know the middle finger can be put to some dark communicative effect). Listen to Steve Fishell's dobro impression of Garcia's pedal steel solo on "Dire Wolf" or Tom Corbett's great mandolin ride on "Eyes Of The World". Tom Ball returns with his incredible harmonica work. Newcomers to the project, Al Di Marco on piano and Gabe Witcher on fiddle both astound. Bill Flores smoothly slides back in, this time on lap steel and saxophone. A trio of drummers, the returning Bo Fox and Jody Eulitz along with the new recruit Bob Nichols all do a great job. I assure you, a good time was had by all! Now for me, it's off to the beach to 'cast my eyes to the mountain'.
David West, April 2000
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