Album Reviews

Hart Valley Drifters

Folk Time

Artist:     Hart Valley Drifters

Album:     Folk Time

Label:     Round Records

Release Date:     11/11/2016


Yes, you can damn well say they were the precursor to Old and in the Way, but who knew? Who knew what lay ahead for one, very special 20 year-old– Jerry Garcia— on banjo, (“on the old timey music”) vocals and guitar (“on the new timey music”) and his four earnest cohorts: future lyricist, Robert Hunter on bass and vocals, future New Rider David Nelson on guitar and vocals, Ken Frankel on banjo, fiddle and guitar and Norm Van Massthrict on dobro.

Recorded in 1962 at Stanford University, Folk Time constitutes 17 of the earliest Garcia performances. Believed to be lost in the lapses of time, they were rediscovered in a closet in 2008.They’re spirited, spry and, arguably, indecipherable from other young bluegrass combos of the time. Ahh, but the line-up. And the empathy and affinity they all had for the music. And some of the songs they chose that would eventually work their way into a larger consciousness and sense of America: “Roving Gambler,” “Sitting On Top of the World,” “Pig In a Pen,” “Handsome Molly,” “Standing In the Need of Prayer.” A most welcome and vital addition to the Garcia/Dead canon.

– Mike Jurkovic

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