Nine Finger Saloon is an acoustic tribute to the magical music of Jerome John Garcia (1942-1995) done in an old time-y, unplugged setting which helps capture the intimacy and grace of Jerry's most memorable works. The group performs Hunter-Garcia favorites from albums such as "Reckoning" (1981), "Workingman's Dead" (1970), "Grisman & Garcia" (1991), "American Beauty" (1970)," Old and In The Way" (1975)...all played stripped down and close to the heart.
Award winning veteran jam musician Michael Morrow (21st Centurians, Living Earth) delivers compelling, authentic lead vocals, closely capturing Garcia's unique style and all the while burning up the guitar. Joining Michael is incredible mandolin/guitarist Kris Kehr (The Recipe, Stone Poets)
adding a wild array of sounds and instruments, not the least of which is his soft harmonic voice. Whether playing stunning Grisman-esque mandolin lines, early jug-style guitar, slide, Dobro or harmonica, Kris plays with unimaginable taste and measure.
Morrow has long performed positive, kind, & Grateful music, sharing the stage with virtually all of the extended Grateful Dead family at one time or another including Bob Weir, David Grisman, JGB with Melvin Seals, Merl Saunders, NRPS, Tom Constanten (Grateful Dead), Kingfish, David Nelson Band, Mark Karan, Steve Kimock, Donna Jean Godchaux, Dark Star Orchestra, Keller Williams and many more.
Kehr has himself performed WITH bluegrass legend Vassar Clements (Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys, Lester and Earl, Old & In the Way), Mike Gordon (Phish), Vince Welnick (The Tubes, Grateful Dead), Tom Constanten, David Gans, NRPS, John Hartford, Steve Forbert, BR549, Dickie Betts & Great Southern, Southern Culture on the Skids, folk legend Tom Paxton, Drive-By Truckers, Commander Cody, Kingfish, John Gorka, Tony Trischka, Col. Bruce Hampton, Del McCoury, Leftover Salmon, Railroad Earth, and many more.
Nine Finger Saloon performs the most well known Grateful favorites, chilling ballads, cowboy songs, folk, and traditional tunes, with Morrow concisely channeling the voice and playing with that distinctive lead guitar style that makes you feel like Jerry is in the room.
In 2005, Dark Star Orchestra manager Norman Gopin called him "...the best vocalist we auditioned," and that he was "blown away" after hearing his demo CD.
Relix magazine agreed, voting Morrow, Hickey, and their original band Twentyfirst Centurians the "2009 Relix Jam Off Contest" winner, and they were featured in the magazine and on the contest compilation CD.
Pianist Ryan Hickey (21st Centurians, Ihi Yahn Ihi Arkestra) puts the "Saloon" in Nine Finger. Hickey does a remarkable job of conjuring Godchaux, Constanten and Mydland on piano, while adding the crucial, high-lonesome-sound third vocal part. Truly a gifted and hardworking musician, Ryan also doubles on mandolin, upright bass and guitar (he is a well known picker throughout Philadelphia Folk Fest circles). Touring with Morrow since 2006, he has been impressing crowds all over the US with his amazing musical chops. In 2009, Ryan performed at Wormtown Festival, Gratefulfest at Nelson Ledges, and the 40th Anniversary of Woodstock at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.
Rounding out the group are bassist Mike Vitale and keeping the groove is snaremaster Justin Schaefer on drums. Vitale has performed with Kris Kehr and the Stone Poets, The Recipe, and more, and he jumped at the chance to join Nine Finger Saloon immediately. Schaefer has toured the circuit with The Youngers and the Stone Poets and he provides the perfect snare and brush style that supports the twists and turns of the open-ended Nine Finger Saloon performance approach. He brings a variety of beats and rhythms to complement an ever-changing, vast song list.
What sets Nine Finger Saloon apart is its unique stylistic focus and commitment to the sound of Garcia done acoustically.
Morrow remarks, "'Reckoning', 'Old and In The Way', 'Workingman's Dead'...that stuff was my Bible. I still get goose bumps when I listen to them. The way the quieter setting framed the fragility of Jerry's voice."
"It's just that simple," Morrow continues, "the 1980 Dead acoustic runs - Warfield, Radio City, Broadway, Garcia-Grisman Quartet - we could go on and on. I have always wanted to recreate that feeling and sound like those shows...".
With this new project, Morrow did exactly that and he knew he had something special the first night that he, Kehr, and Hickey sat in the practice studio. Sharing a common love of the music, what emerged was a natural, rich and vibe-ing sound that brought smiles to the faces of all three.
"I have been looking for a project like this for a long time," adds Kehr.
The jam scene has also been looking for a project like this for a long time too!