With a name like Fiddlers Crossing, it would be expected that some great fiddlers would perform as a part of the venue’s acoustic concert series, and indeed, they have. From bluegrass to Celtic, old-time, western and gypsy styles, the fiddlers have been well represented.
But there’s a great deal more in the range of acoustic music genres to present, from singer-songwriters of all kinds to bands that range from completely traditional to ones that push the envelope and defy easy description, to outstanding solo instrumentalists. One such performer is flatpicking acoustic guitarist David Grier, who will play the downtown venue at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 9.
What is flatpicking? It’s the style of playing the guitar that involves the striking of the strings with a pick rather than with the fingers. It’s usually associated with Appalachian music of the American southeastern highlands, especially bluegrass.
Probably started around 1930, flatpicking was developed when guitarists began to arrange old-time American fiddle tunes for the guitar, expanding the instrument’s traditional role of rhythm accompaniment with an occasional run on the bass strings. Anyone who has ever heard a bluegrass band is familiar with the flatpicking style that is often fast and dynamic, with slides, hammer-ons, pull-offs, powerful strumming and rapid cross-picking.
David Grier was born in Washington, D.C., in 1961. His family moved to Nashville when he was 3 and he began playing the guitar at age 6. His father, Lamar , was a banjo player in bluegrass legend Bill Monroe’s band for a number of years.
Says Grier, “Bill Monroe and Clarence White always stopped by whenever they came to the area. I was a kid so they usually jammed with my father. He still has the tape recordings. That’s so cool to listen to.” Clarence White was a major influence on the young Grier in his early days.
When he was 20, Grier joined the Virginia band Full Time, in which he actually played electric guitar. During the 1980s he began performing with Country Gazette and Doug Dillard and then began to record his own albums beginning with “Freewheeling” in 1988.
He has released a total of nine solo albums as well as ones with the Psychograss band, founded by Darol Anger and Mike Marshall. He’s also played on albums by Richard Greene, Todd Phillips and Matt Flinner, Rhonda Vincent, Vassar Clements, John McEuen, Claire Lynch, Stuart Duncan, Allison Brown and more.
Grier was named Guitar Player of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association three times, in 1992, ’93 and ’95. He was recognized by Acoustic Guitar magazine as one of the top 10 influential artists of the 1990s.
Of David Grier, singer Claire Lynch has said, “David Grier is a willful, accurate instrumentalist whose every note seems to run through a bright, intelligent sieve. He maintains an unqualified standard of excellence in guitar playing, always with a knack for unorthodox surprise.”
Musician/actor Martin Mull said, “His unmatchable mastery of the guitar is ever present, but it’s the emotional exploration of the music as a whole that leaves a lasting impression. There is evidence everywhere of deep musical introspection: real soul-searching, and, I would have to say, bravery.”
Tickets may be purchased at Mountain Music, Tehachapi Treasure Trove, Tehachapi Furniture in Old Town, Lucky’s Barbershop, online at fiddlerscrossing.com or with a credit card by calling 661-823-9994. Tickets to the concert are $20 As always, coffee, teas and goodies are included. The concert begins at 3 p.m. Doors open at 2:30 p.m.
On the horizon: Jeni Hankins, Beth Wood, James Lee Stanley, West My Friend.
Peter Cutler is an audio engineer-producer, singer and guitarist. A native of Los Angeles, he has lived in Tehachapi since 2006.