Old And In The Way - Old And In The Way (1975)

Old And In The Way were a bluegrass 'supergroup' active from 1973 to 1974.

Old And In The Way were a supergroup in that their members were already established and well known musicians when they got together. The five members were Jerry Garcia (banjo/vocals), Peter Rowan (guitar/vocals), David Grisman (mandolin/vocals), Vassar Clements (fiddle) and John Kahn (bass). Garcia was of course well known as the lead guitarist of rock band The Grateful Dead, but his roots had always been in bluegrass and folk music. With Old And In The Way he got the chance to show off his talents on the banjo. Both Rowan and Grisman had backgrounds in bluegrass dating back into the 60s, and had also played together in psychedelic rock group Earth Opera. Clements was the oldest member of the band, and was a highly regarded fiddle player having worked in bluegrass, jazz and swing genres, and been a member of Bill Monroe's band in the 50s. John Kahn had played with various jazz and rock groups throughout the 60s (including The Live Adventures Of Mike Bloomfield & Al Kooper), and would come to be Garcia's most regular long-term collaborator outside the Grateful Dead. Rowan, Grisman and Kahn had all played together before in Muleskinner, an earlier bluegrass supergroup.
The quintet performed live from 1973 until 1974, but didn't record anything during their time together. However in '75 a live recording was released, from a gig in October '73. The songs were a mix of covers (including The Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses") and originals. The most notable songwriter among them was Peter Rowan, who brought the excellent songs "Panama Red", "Land Of The Navajo" and "Midnight Moonlight". "Panama Red" was also recorded around the same time by the New Riders Of The Purple Sage, and Rowan wouldn't release his own versions of these songs until his solo debut in 1978.
Until further archive recordings saw release from the 90s onwards, it remained their only album and the only document of their sound. It actually turned out to be one of the best-selling bluegrass albums of all time, no doubt because Garcia's presence gave it crossover success into the rock market.

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