Live At The Linda Review

Audiophile Audition Review
by Hermon Joyner

David Grier - Live at The Linda
2007 Dreadnought Records (#0701)
Virtuoso guitarist plays more than bluegrass in this first-rate live recording.

This CD is a complete—from start to finish—live recording of David Grier playing his vintage 1946 Martin D-28 guitar in concert at the Linda Norris Auditorium in Albany, New York on September 9, 2006. It’s complete with the MC’s introduction, Grier’s between-songs stage banter and sometimes corny jokes, and Grier’s flawless guitar picking. For those who may not be familiar with David Grier, he is an enormously talented flat-picker from Nashville. As a session player he is in constant demand and is the regular guitarist for the super-group Psychograss. He grew up in a musical household—his dad Lamar played banjo with Bill Monroe—with regular “pickin’ parties” or informal jam sessions, and he was invited to play along with the pros starting at the early age of eleven.

Though Grier is thought of as a bluegrass guitarist, “Live at the Linda” contains only two tracks of Bluegrass music, a medley of Bill Monroe tunes consisting of “Crossing the Cumberlands” and “Old Ebenezer Scrooge” and Earl Scruggs’ “Randy Lynn Rag.” There are a few pop songs like the old Roberta Flack hit “Killing Me Softly” and the Beatles “Yesterday,” and a few traditional numbers like “Red Haired Boy” and “Bonaparte’s Retreat.” Most of the songs are written by Grier and these range from slow contemplative songs to up-tempo numbers. Throughout all the tunes, every one is played with flawless technique, rich and deep tone, and emotive storytelling. The emotional content never takes the backseat to the technique, even though some the tracks are frankly mystifying—as in, how in the world does he do that? Grier has perfected the technique of flat-picking and finger picking at the same time. He is awesome.

His between-songs chat is self-deprecating and low-keyed. His voice is steeped in the hills of Tennessee with a rich drawl that always seems to be about to slide into a laugh. It’s obvious that he is at ease in front of an audience. Including all the monologues adds to the experience of a live recording and his stories are funny. Sitting in front of the speakers makes it seem as if you are there in the audience. The recording itself is clear and resonant, capturing all the nuances—both delicate and powerful—of Grier’s performance. Except for the occasional audience noise and applause, this could be mistaken for a first-rate studio recording. This CD will appeal to fans of bluegrass, Americana, contemporary acoustic music, folk, or anyone who is a fan of fine guitar playing. Grier plays at the highest levels of performance. Highly recommended.
- Hermon Joyner

Guitar Player Magazine
July 2009

David Grier Live At The Linda

David Grier has a good bluegrass pedigree (his dad played banjo with Bill Monroe), so it’s pretty much his birthright to possess decent flat-top chops. What he throws down on this live CD, however, is way beyond anything he could have picked up through DNA, osmosis, or from the water in Nashville. This guy is an absolutely stunning performer who effortlessly combines gorgeous technique and tone and somehow still has enough brainpower left over to crack jokes at the same time. He opens with “Have You Ever Been to England,” with beautiful lines gushing from his ’46 Martin D-28. Grier’s arrangement of “America the Beautiful/Yesterday” is a brilliant study in independence, with the bass line and chords able to completely stand on their own, except that he plays amazing melodies right along with them. His anecdotes in between the tunes are hilarious and whether he’s playing “a real song or just one he made up,” he does it at a ridiculously high level. Bravo! –Dreadnought. –Matt Blackett

Ross Review
by Joe Ross

David Grier - Live at The Linda
2007 Dreadnought Records (#0701)

This 66-minute set from guitarist David Grier (complete with spoken introductions and applause) was recorded in September 2006 at the Linda (WAMC's Performing Arts Studio in Albany, NY). Playing guitar since age six, David is the son of Lamar Grier who played banjo for Bill Monroe in the 60s. In his nearly six-minute intro to "Red Haired Boy," David relates a few "cool memories" from his younger days. Performing solo, Grier is one of the finest flatpick guitarists on the touring circuit today. His axe is a 1946 Martin D-28, and his repertoire is equally proportioned among covers, traditional, and original tunes. The beginning of the Linda show emphasized the latter, and the evening evolved into more recognizable tunes with David's unique stamp on them. We also get a flavor of Grier's humor and personality. In his short spoken anecdote entitled "Things People Say," Grier tells of an older woman who eventually asks a friend, "why don't you tell him to play something I know so I could tell if he's any good or not?" Anyone familiar with the guitar knows that David Grier's playing could persuasively be argued as flawless. His originals are stark yet mellifluous, and a crosspicked rendition of "The Old Spinning Wheel" is a well-received, familiar crowd-pleaser. Grier leaves no doubt in our minds about his 'goodness' on guitar by the time he's crisply picking his delectable versions of Redwing, Crossing the Cumberlands, Old Ebenezer Scrooge, Bonaparte's Retreat and Randy Lynn Rag during the second half of this "way cool" show. (Joe Ross)

Flatpick Guitar
by Chris Thiessen

David Grier - Live at The Linda
2007 Dreadnought Records (#0701)

I think it should be a federal law that musicians need to produce at least one live album sometime in their career. In a live album, an artist cannot hide behind double tracking and overdubbing which might be a temptation in a studio album. Live albums also demonstrate, conclusively, who is the master of the instrument.

I've had the good fortune to see David Grier live several times, and while I certainly delight in watching him play, I especially like to watch folks who have never seen him live before. There's this denial/acceptance cycle as they try to rationalize what they "know" to be possible with the guitar versus what their eyes and ears are experiencing.
But I digress...

Live at the Linda (the "Linda" being WAMC's Performing Arts Studio in Albany, NY) is a typical Grier show (if there can be such a thing): he plays some tunes, tells some stories, plays some more tunes, and wows the crowd. And he does it in this self-effacing way that almost undercuts his musical inventiveness, a preternatural skill that splices together "America the Beautiful" and "Yesterday," generates the original tunes "Road to Hope" or "Have You Ever Been to England," or revitalizes "Redwing" or "The Old Spinning Wheel."
Grier is an astounding guitar talent whose inventiveness is perfectly matched for the live show. If you already have one or all of David's studio albums, you owe it to your musical awareness to get Live at the Linda. (Chris Thiessen)

Sing Out! The Folk Song Magazine

byTom Druckenmiller

David Grier is a master guitarist and his solo talents are well represented on this recording captured live at The Linda, the performing Arts Studio of WAMC in Albany New York. Besides being a wonderful guitarist, David is a funny man and his song introductions (thankfully left on the recording) are just delightful.
The CD opens with an original "Have You Ever Been to England" which features David's Clarence White/Norman Blake inspired flat-picking. "High Atop Princess Cove," another Grier original, follows and couldn't be more dissimilar. It's a spare and lovely waltz highlighting David's ability to accompany the melody with internal chords and fragments.

David demonstrates expert cross picking on "The Old Spinning Wheel" and the medley of "America the Beautiful/Yesterday" is quite unexpected, allowing David to fully explore the chordal properties of his magnificent 1946 Martin D-28. About half way through the CD David explains a bit about his musical inspiration. His father, Lamar Grier, played with Bill Monroe, and he reminisces about the days when Peter Rowan, Clarence and Roland White and others would come to the house to pick. Eventually he got a chance to join in. This is all in the form of an introduction to "Red Haired Boy." David's rendition is probably the finest I have heard of this overplayed chestnut. David waxes on about Dolly Parton as he presents a medley of Bill Monroe classics, "Crossing the Cumberland/Old Ebenezer Scrooge" both played in Dolly's signature open tuning. The CD concludes with a funky version of "Bonaparte's Retreat" and a fiery take on Earl's "Randy Lynn Rag."
If you've ever wanted to have David Grier in your living room up close and personal in a solo setting, you'll just love Live At The Linda.--

Minor 7th Review
by Kirk Albrecht

David Grier - Live at The Linda
2007 Dreadnought Records (#0701)

Have You Ever Been To England, High Atop Princess Cove, As It Rolls To The Sea, Road To Hope, The Old Spinning Wheel, America The Beautiful/Yesterday-Medley, Red Haired Boy, The End Of A Good Day, Redwing, Killing Me Softly, Crossing The Cumberlands/Old Ebenezer Scrooge-Medley, Bonaparte's Retreat, Randy Lynn Rag

One man and a guitar can make a lot of music, as evidenced by the fluid David Grier on his latest release, "Live at the Linda," where Grier treats a small gathering to a special evening of wood and steel. Grier follows in the footsteps of men like Clarence White and Tony Rice who took bluegrass guitar out of its major chord limitations, exploring a mélange of styles and textures, all the while never straying too far from the root. Grier has been an admired picker for years for his ability to flow in and out of the melody while charting new paths. His seminal work with the acoustic music supergroup Psychograss has found fertile soil in the imaginations of players far and wide. On "Live at the Linda," Grier mixes folksy humor with captivating melodies. Every cut is a chestnut, from the opening "Have You Ever Been to England," to the standard "Red Haired Boy" (a musical exploration itself). Most of the songs don't dazzle with flash, but rather demonstrate a man at peace with his instrument, serving the music and listener alike. Grier doesn't rely so much on blistering single note runs as deft cross-picking. He plays a sweet version of Roberta Flack's hit from the 70's "Killing Me Softly," and a medley of "America the Beautiful" with the Beatles' "Yesterday" which flow seamlessly together, staying close to the original melodies. Grier does heat things up a bit at the end of the concert in the encore, where he begins to build some momentum on "Bonaparte's Retreat," then lets it rip on "Randy Lynn Rag" where his power, speed, and clarity just plain leave you shaking your head. I'm not sure what the audience paid for tickets for this show, but it's worth the price of admission to get the CD.

Maverick Review

Live at the Linda
Dreadnought 0701

Please find review as published by MAVERICK. David Grier Live At The Linda ***1/2 David Grier defies boundaries as his fingers make the strings on his guitar dance. Seated before an enthralled audience in a small intimate venue, Grier pulls on his vast experience as he threads together a set of 15 superb instrumentals, bridged by excellent stories worthy of repeated airings. A master of his trade, Grier's expertise as a flat-picking guitarist is like that of his peers Tony Rice, Doc Watson and Norman Blake, all good company and similarly his playing knows no boundaries. Mixing bluegrass, old-time fiddle tunes, Americana and the mellow working of the pop hit Killing Me Softly With His Song. Grier, a relaxed and entertaining host lends much to the intimate setting, not least being via his humorous and well told stories. While he hits the road in sprightly fashion on Redwing, The Old Spinning Wheel has a soothing air embracing the tune's Mother Maybelle's guitar style enters my thoughts. When it comes to performing the music of Bill Monroe, his covers of Crossing The Cumberlands/Old Ebenezer Scrooge would top most people's list, today, tomorrow or yesterday, such is his deft sense of touch and the mellow feel transferred to the former and dash to the latter. Among the other big crowd-pleasers, few if any could be better played or chosen than the much-covered Bonaparte's Retreate or his own lazy paced High Atop Princess Cove and gently flowing As It Rolls To The Sea. Then there is his sprint through banjoist Earl Scrugg's Randy Lynn Rag; it is only right he does a banjo tune since he is after all the son of Lamar Grier, banjo player with Bill Monroe, Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard etc. A class act, and when aided by stories about when he was a boy, the Glass Eye joke plus his recollections of Dolly and his Grammy for his part in the Bill Monroe tribute album TRUE LIFE BLUES, an hour passes before you know it. MH

Bluegrass Unlimited Review
by CVS

David Grier - Live at The Linda
2007 Dreadnought Records (#0701)

Bluegrass Unlimited
November 2008 Review

If I had to buy 1 guitar album this year, this would be it. David Grier is as interesting and tuneful a guitarist as any out there today. This 65 minute live show was recorded at WAMC's recording space in Albany, N.Y., on September 9, 2006. It includes 16 tracks that have been separated to different tracks from their introductions, so you can easily skip to the introductions if you prefer. His between songs banter is fine, but it's the playing that draws you in.

David's set is well balanced between originals such as " High Atop Princess Cove" and "As It Rolls To The Sea" and covers of Bluegrass and Pop songs such as "Redwing", "Crossing The Cumberland's" / "Old Ebenezer Scrooge" and "Killing Me Softly". His guitar sounds wonderful and was expertly recorded by Collin Ashmead-Bobbitt. The recording was edited and mastered by Brent Truitt and is well balanced and brings out the full tonal range of the guitar. The audience never intrudes on the playing, and all songs are clearly heard in an almost studio-like setting.

Grier has been one of the most respected guitarists in Bluegrass for many years. As the son of banjoist Lamar Grier, he grew up riding in Bill Monroe's bus and attending pickin' parties around Nashville. However, you can tell he's listened to many different genres and integrated them all into his playing. My favorite on the album is his interpretation of "Red Haired Boy", which is pure Grier.

Highly Recommended! CVS

Victory Review
by Nancy Vivolo

 David Grier - Live at The Linda
2007 Dreadnought Records (#0701)

Victory Review 1-09

Down home and lovable, David Grier charms the crowd with Live at the Linda in Albany, New York and I'll tell you what - can he ever play that guitar! Flawless, smooth as silk and rich as a three layer cake, Grier just glides into song after song with a little bit of that ah, shucks humor tucked in between the tunes. "High Atop Princess Cove" has the quality of a Celtic Aire while "As it Rolls to the Sea" has the taste of salt spray under billowing sails. This is a rather proud little number that stands well on its own. Melancholy, and perhaps a rainy day, has to have been the inspiration behind "Road to Hope" as the minor chords draw out a certain longing. Still, Grier makes it sound so easy and relaxed rather than troubled. The entire CD feels like you're hanging out together in his living room with the wood stove going and a pot of soup bubbling away. He manages to capture the essence of a storyteller with impromptu tomfoolery between songs creating a sweet country charm and sense of familiarity. The intro to "Red Haired Boy" gets a bit on the windy side, however, but once he launches into the song you realize the wait was worth it. (Okay, I know some of you skip over the intro with some of that new technology, but I kind of enjoy that live theater illusion; dim the lights please.) "The End of a Good Day" is just that conjuring up a vision of a blue and yellow windsock flapping in the breeze with rose tinted clouds in the distant sky. You might as well be leaning on a porch rail taking it all in, hanging on every note: what a picture. Grier does a tender version of "Killing Me Softly" which is both strong and vulnerable at the same time. The dynamics, color, and strength of this CD make it easy to forget that this is a solo recording. He can really make that Martin D-28 sing in full voice. (Nancy Vivolo)

CBA on the Web Review
By B. Hough

David Grier - Live at The Linda
2007 Dreadnought Records (#0701)
Have You Ever Been To England, High Atop Princess Cove, As It Rolls To The Sea, Road To Hope, The Old Spinning Wheel, America The Beautiful/Yesterday-Medley, Red Haired Boy, The End Of A Good Day, Redwing, Killing Me Softly, Crossing The Cumberlands/Old Ebenezer Scrooge-Medley, Bonaparte's Retreat, Randy Lynn Rag

David Grier is one of the few guitarists who can sit in front of an audience and spin a magical web of enchanting guitar music and punch-goofy jokes without having to sing a song or rely on a band. He is simply, a superb guitarist, with a command of melody and phrasing that twists and turns through his own original songs and a selection of fiddle tunes and popular songs. He merrily tells the story of his friend's reaction to his misunderstood question, "Have You Ever Been to England?" and he launches into the song, a minor-key reel that has flourishes up and down the neck done cross-picking style.

David recounts several encounters with ladies in the audience. One of them asked him, "was that a real song or did you make it up?, and another demands, "play something I know so I could see if you's any good."His "made up songs" include "As It Rolls to Sea," and "Road to Hope" that have tender melodic flows that roll out of David's deep, robust 1946 Martin D*28. While he would never want "Red Haired Boy" to be his signature tune, he has arranged a full, multi-leveled version of the fiddle tune with embellishments around the basic melody. His medley of "America the Beautiful"is combined with "Yesterday,"and the two tunes generate an enthusiastic audience response. "Killing Me Softly" is full of lush, harmonic runs and bass notes combined with treble riffs that make it hard to believe there's only one guitar playing. Bill Monroe fans won't be disappointed in his version of "Crossing the Cumberlands" that rumbles and moans, or "Ebenezer Scrooge" a later Monroe song with swirling themes and counter melodies. Simply a delight!

Country Standard Time Review
by Larry Stephens

David Grier - Live at The Linda
2007 Dreadnought Records (#0701)
Have You Ever Been To England, High Atop Princess Cove, As It Rolls To The Sea, Road To Hope, The Old Spinning Wheel, America The Beautiful/Yesterday-Medley, Red Haired Boy, The End Of A Good Day, Redwing, Killing Me Softly, Crossing The Cumberlands/Old Ebenezer Scrooge-Medley, Bonaparte's Retreat, Randy Lynn Rag

David Grier is recognized as a premier acoustic guitarist. He is sometimes heard within, or at least flirts with the bluegrass genre, but his music is usually skew on a broader scale. This recording was done live in an intimate setting (The Linda, WAMC's studio in Albany, N.Y. in September 2006) with less than a hundred guests. They were in close proximity to Grier, and part of the charm is listening to his patter as he interacts with the audience. He's relaxed and funny ("This is my first gig playing without the chicken wire up front.") and in complete control of his environment. There are no other musicians there, and he needs no one in support to make this an excellent example of acoustic guitar work.

From a reflective "High Atop Princess Cove" to his unique arrangement of "Red Haired Boy," the familiar "Bonaparte's Retreat" to a nod to Bill Monroe "Crossing the Cumberlands/Old Ebeneezer Scrooge," Grier aptly illustrates why he is held in such high regard. His playing is superb. His stories are funny.

Hilary West Review
by Hilary West

Live at the Linda
Dreadnought 0701

David Grier hasn't been to this town: ever, in a long time, since can't recall when. So many towns and only so many hours in "What's one guy toting a guitar going to do? Live at the Linda is what; a set in a box. With excellent sound quality, it offers an intimate concert complete with unvarnished Emcee intro, David's song introductions and funny stories, the requisite jokes (David laughs at all of them) and the sincere audience appreciation for David's magnificent performance.

Performance, as in: not just playing. More than technique more than navigation and brilliant use and balance of harmonics, slides and bass notes. David's a powerful communicator with his guitar so in his handsold saws everyone has heard a thousand times before: "Red Haired Boy", "Crossing the Cumberlands" or Bonaparte's Retreat" are reborn: rich and dazzling.

David's included five of his own tunes in the set, gems. "Have You Ever Been to England" crisp with a hint of the Isle in the melody; "As it Rolls to the Sea" buoyant and fluid. The other three are sensuous, "Road to Hope" bluesy, dreamy; "High Atop Princess Cove" romantic and "The End of a Good Day" content and lovely. Through the traditional and original is a medley of "America the Beautiful/Yesterday" - beautiful indeed and elegant - and all the more so as it follows an uber-corn joke. And maybe that's the point because David plays the contradiction in reverse later: after an extraordinary interpretation of "Killing Me Softly" where you think "wow, what a sensitive guy" there's a Dolly Parton story - and you think: "wow, what a..."

Live at the Linda - with its splendid music and artful structure even with or perhaps especially with the stories acting like the sorbet - is highly recommended.