Before the Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia, along with friends like Robert Hunter, Sandy Rothman, and David Nelson were just folkies picking tunes in coffee-houses in Palo Alto and working on their bluegrass chops. Garcia, Hunter, and Nelson, along with Ken Frankel, and Norm Van Maastricht soon would form the Hart Valley Drifters, an acoustic band that played old-timey and bluegrass style songs. In 1962 the group woud record a session for Stanford University’s KZSU program Folk Time.
For the first time, this recording, the earliest known studio recording by Jerry Garcia will be released on November 11 through Round Records/ATO Records. The lost session resided in a closet for nearly 50 years before the reels were unearthed in 2008 by former Stanford student Ted Claire, who produced and recorded the original session.
The Hart Valley Drifters featured a 20-year old Garcia on lead vocals, banjo and guitar, Hunter on bass, Nelson on guitar, Frankel on banjo, fiddle and guitar and Van Maastricht on dobro. Years before Garcia and Hunter would form an iconic songwriting partnership, and Nelson would cofound New Riders of the Purple Sage, the three crafted soaring three-part vocal harmonies in the tradition of some of their American folk and bluegrass heroes. Around this time, Garcia had been educating himself on American folk and bluegrass tradition. After learning guitar and banjo, he became a self-taught multi-instrumentalist adding, mandolin, autoharp and fiddle to his repertoire.
The Hart Valley Drifters recorded spirited renditions of traditionals such as, “Roving Gambler”. “Standing In The Need of Prayer”, “Cripple Creek” as well as the Ralph Stanley composition “Clinch Mountain Backstep” and Earl Scruggs’ “Ground Speed” and “Flint Hill Special”. The session ends with a soulful version of the Walter Jacobs Vinson/Lonnie Carter classic “Sitting On Top Of The World”, which Garcia eventually evolved into the lively rendition that would wind up on the Grateful Dead’s debut album five years later. (See track listing below)
Pre-order Hart Valley Drifters’ Folk Time at: JerryGarcia.com
Hart Valley Drifters – Folk Time Track Listing
1. Band Introductions
2. “Roving Gambler” (Traditional)
3. “Ground Speed” (Earl Scruggs)
4. “Pig In A Pen” (Fiddlin’ Arthur Smith [traditional] arr. by J. Garcia)
5. “Standing In The Need Of Prayer” (Traditional)
6. “Flint Hill Special” (Earl Scruggs)
7. “Nine Pound Hammer” (Traditional)
8. “Handsome Molly” (G.B. Grayson/Henry Whitter)
9. “Clinch Mountain Backstep” (Ralph Stanley/Ruby Rakes)
10. “Think of What You’ve Done” (Carter Stanley)
11. “Cripple Creek” (Traditional)
12. “All The Good Times Have Past And Gone” (Traditional)
13. “Billy Grimes, The Rover” (Traditional)
14. “Paddy On The Turnpike (Boys, My Money’s All Gone)” (Traditional)
15. “Run Mountain” (J.E. Mainer)
16. “Sugar Baby” (Moran Dock Boggs)
17. “Sitting On Top Of The World” (Walter Jacobs Vinson/Lonnie Carter)