The recent explosion of interest in bluegrass and American roots music has led to record numbers of fans attending the many bluegrass festivals (both old and new) across the country. This summer, the concept is turned on its head with the nationwide JamGrass tour, a traveling all-day festival that will bring this joyous music directly to the fans.

The JamGrass tour, which runs from July 18-September 22, will feature a varying lineup of many popular staples of the bluegrass festival circuit such as David Grisman, Peter Rowan, Tony Rice, Sam Bush and John Cowan. Up-and-comers Yonder Mountain String Band join the tour for most dates, except for a few shows where Hot Tuna’s Jorma Kaukonen and Leo Kottke will perform. The Dark Star Orchestra will put the Jam in JamGrass by headlining a portion of the tour with both an acoustic and their traditional electric sets. Check local listings or see the list below for the exact JamGrass lineup in your area.

The rare opportunity to see these stellar artists performing on the same bill, as well as the potential for collaborations between performers and the unscripted magic that will result, promises to make this a very exciting tour for fans of both traditional and contemporary roots music with a jamband twist.

The tour kicks off on July 18th at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD with a special show headlined by String Cheese Incident. JamGrass will then crisscross the country with dates in the midwest and far west before returning east on the way to the final show in Wantagh, NY.

David Grisman Quintet
What is legendary mandolinist David Grisman best known for? With a career spanning almost 40 years, it depends on who you ask. Fans of traditional, old-time music probably know him best for his early reverence of and immersion in the style of the father of bluegrass music, Bill Monroe. Grateful Dead fans love him for his mid-70s collaboration with Jerry Garcia, Peter Rowan, John Kahn and Vassar Clements in Old & In the Way. Contemporary fans are very familiar with his unique musical style “Dawg” music, combining influences as diverse as bluegrass, jazz, Latin and folk. The David Grisman Quintet delivers consistently excellent performances with the gentle humor and wry observations that are a Grisman trademark. Mandolin fans are in for a real treat.
Former three-time National Junior Fiddle Champion and founding member (at age 19!) of New Grass Revival, mandolin and fiddle master Sam Bush has been making music for over 30 years. Equally at home on the road or in the studio, Bush has collaborated with such artists as Leon Russell, Doc Watson, Steve Earle, Garth Brooks, Steve Wariner, Trisha Yearwood, Leftover Salmon and Pam Tillis, among others. Bush’s music challenges conventional notions of bluegrass, incorporating elements of jazz, rock, reggae, gospel and country. His commanding stage presence, high musical standards and jamband soul make Sam Bush a perennial favorite among bluegrass and jam fans alike.
Sam Bush
Peter Rowan

photo by clay brasher
Guitarist Peter Rowan began his musical career in the late 1950s. Known for his excellent picking and strong tenor voice, Bill Monroe hired him as a Blue Grass Boy in 1964, handling rhythm guitar and lead vocals. In 1967, he left Monroe’s band to join David Grisman’s band. During this time he developed his strong songwriting skills, eventually penning such well-known songs as "Midnight Moonlight," "Panama Red," "Land of the Navajo" and "Free Mexican Airforce." He was also a member of Old & In the Way. In recent years Rowan has toured solo or with differing casts playing traditional bluegrass, folk, and (most recently) his own unique style dubbed “Reggaebilly,” fusing reggae, bluegrass and rockabilly. With his vocals and picking as strong as ever, Peter Rowan brings a friendly, upbeat approach to both traditional and contemporary roots music.
Acoustic guitarist Tony Rice is at home playing everything from traditional folk to contemporary “spacegrass.” His innovative flatpicking style has influenced many artists since he began his career in the early 1970s. Rice has collaborated with such disparate artists as David Grisman, J.D. Crowe, Norman Blake and his younger brother Wyatt Rice. The Tony Rice Unit still stands as one of the most innovative and experimental groups in the history of acoustic music.
Tony Rice
John Cowan
A core member of the legendary band New Grass Revival, bassist John Cowan has since developed his own hybrid sound of bluegrass, rock and pop. His strong tenor vocals are his signature. Mixing song styles and grooves throughout his show, Cowan and his band deliver a sound that is instantly recognizable by roots music fans.
Rapidly rising in popularity, the Yonder Mountain String Band is gaining a strong following among younger fans who enjoy a mix of traditional sound with jamband sensibilities. Long shows and a setlist that changes each night mark this hybrid band’s performances. The band members show the proper respect for tradition while incorporating improvisational jams and entertaining seques between songs. This is one of those bands where you might hear something and exclaim, “How’d they do that?!?” As these young musicians continue to hone their chops, performances will only get better.
Yonder Mountain String Band
Dark Star Orchestra
The Dark Star Orchestra is more than a Grateful Dead “cover” band. It is a recreation of a Grateful Dead show. The band chooses a specific Grateful Dead concert and performs it exactly as it was originally played, song for song. The band members play their roles perfectly, presenting a sound that comes surprisingly close to the original. With both acoustic and electric sets in the offing, the DSO will be able to perform many of the folk, country and bluegrass tunes that were a staple of the Grateful Dead’s acoustic sets.

John Waldman
JamBase JamGrass Correspondent
Go See Live Music!

JamGrass 2002 :: Tour Schedule
07.18Columbia, MDMerriweather
07.20Shelburne, VTShelburne Museum
07.21Gilford, NHMeadowbrook
08.02*Cincinnati, OHRiverbend Music Center
08.03*Columbus, OHPromo West Pavilion
08.04*Pittsburgh, PAAmphitheatre at Station Square
08.09Park City, UTDeer Valley Amphitheater
08.10Alta, WYTarghee Fest.
08.11Denver, COCity Lights Pavilion
08.16*Indianapolis,INVerizon Wireless Music Center
08.17*East Troy, WIAlpine Valley Music Theater
08.18*Cleveland, OHTower City Amphitheater
08.22Phoenix, AZCelebrity Theater
08.24San Rafael, CAMarin Lagoon Park
08.25Saratoga, CAMountain Winery
08.29Silverton, OROregon Garden
08.31Seattle, WABumbershoot
09.06St Paul, MNTBA
09.07*Kansas City, MOStarlight Theatre
09.08*St Louis, MOUMP Band Pavilion
09.10Nashville, TNRyman Auditorium
09.20*+Boston, MAFleet Boston Pavilion
09.21*+Holmdel, NJPNC Bank Arts Center
09.22*+Wantagh, NYTommy Hilfiger at Jones Beach Theatre
* Dark Star Orchestra to headline
+ Jorma Kaukonen will perform in place of Yonder Mountain String Band
[Published on: 5/7/02]

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