Thanks to Casey Phillips and the Times Free Press for featuring David Grier in this week’s Chattanooga NOW. The interview conveys David’s self-effacing manner when it comes to discussing his outrageous guitar playing. And play the guitar he will, Thursday, Nov. 5 at 7:30 pm!
Three-time Guitarist of the Year David Grier returns to Barking Legs
BY CASEY PHILLIPS ARTICLE POSTED ON THU. NOV. 5TH, 2015
When he’s too busy putting pick to string to talk, guitarist David Grier’s virtuosity is hard to ignore. That’s probably a good thing, too, since when he’s just chatting, he tends to instinctually understate his work.
Grier is a three-time recipient of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Guitarist of the Year award, but his nearly 30-year career has included a host of projects and collaborations that touch on everything from jazz to blues.
Rather than tout it as a strength, however, he tends to explain away this wanderlust as simply giving in to his musical whims.
“When an opportunity came along that seemed like it might be OK, then I’d think, ‘Let’s give this a shot and see what happens,’” he says. ‘There’s not a lot of rocket science going on over here. It’s basically, ‘What do I feel like?’ It comes down to that.”
Grier’s name is often uttered in the same sentence as bluegrass six-string legends such as Clarence White and Tony Rice, but they — like any good artist, he insists — never let themselves be confined to a single genre.
Why should he be any different, he asks.
“Every musician — any musician worth his salt — has all kinds of influences,” Grier says. “Yeah, you lean this way for a while, and then stretch and do something else. You should always be growing.”
Grier has been doing a lot of stretching in the last two years as a member of Helen Highwater Band, an acoustic project he started with mandolinist Mike Cobb, bassist/vocalist Missy Raines and fiddler Shane Cobb. After decades of being known for his guitar chops, Grier says his bandmates have encouraged him to write songs — “with words,” he confides — but to sing them, too.
“It ain’t like I’m Pavarotti or nothing, but I’m singing,” he jokes. “It’s kind of daunting when you think of all the great bluegrass singers like Lester Flatt or Del McCoury or Tony Rice. … But I don’t think about those guys; I think about Bob Dylan, and then it’s so much easier.”
In 1997, Grier was the first performer booked to play at Barking Legs Theater as part of a show by Flying Fingers Productions. He’s been a frequent performer at the Dodds Avenue venue ever since, making his most recent appearance in October 2013 with Helen Highwater.
Tonight, Nov. 5, he’ll return for a solo performance of sung and strummed originals and bluegrass standards. In typical fashion, however, his sales pitch could use some work.
“There’s no big show,” Grier laughs. “I ain’t swinging from ropes, and there’s no flames and light show. It’s me playing a guitar. Now, it’s not like everyone who plays the guitar, though … it’s me.”
If you go
› What: Guitarist David Grier.
› When: 7:30 p.m. today, Nov. 5.
› Where: Barking Legs Theater, 1307 Dodds Ave.
› Admission: $15.
› Phone: 423-624-5347.
› Venue website: www.barkinglegs.org.
› Artist website: www.davidgrier.com.
1995: “Lone Soldier”
2002: “I’ve Got the House to Myself”
2006: “All Star Bluegrass Jam Along: Guitar”
2007: “Live at the Linda”
Contact Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6205.
Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.