Who knew that when Jerry Garcia
and David Grisman
teamed up for their 1993 family music release Not for Kids Only
it would remain a kids' music classic after all these years? The two musicians had worked together for years before Not for Kids Only
, and this specific collaboration fit right in with their laid-back, authentic sound. It wasn't by accident, either, that Not for Kids Only
was released on Grisman's own Acoustic Disc label, a record label
created to carry on traditional music.
Libraries could be built that still wouldn't hold the amount of print that has been written about Jerry Garcia and his band, The Grateful Dead. In short, Garcia and pals began as bluegrass, old-time music, jugband, and folk music enthusiasts, developing into one of San Francisco's premire rock bands by the mid 1960s, and arguably into the most extensively touring bandof the late 20th Century. The Grateful Dead's reign lasted 30 years, from 1965 until Garcia's death in 1995, and was highlighted by outstanding albums like the one-two punch of Workingman's Dead and American Beauty, both released in 1970; and live sets like 1969's Live/Dead and 1972's Europe '72. Garcia also released several solo albums, and participated in side projects like New Riders of the Purple Sage, Old and in the Wsy, and Garcia/Grisman.
Speaking of whom, David Grisman is a top notch mandolin player who, like Garcia, is a student of bluegrass and acoustic music. He even founded the Acoustic Disc label in an effort to encourage the creation and distribution of acoustic-based performance and songwriting. Grisman and Garcia met in the early 1960s and remained tight, lifelong friends thereafter. The two released almost a dozen albums together in various configurations, including the album Not for Kids Only.
Music from 'Not For Kids Only'
Almost all of the songs on Not for Kids Only
are traditional tunes, mined from the rich musical and oral history of the United States
. The album kicks off with the silly word play of the lively "Jenny Jenkins," followed by "Freight Train," one of the prettiest folk songs ever written, penned by Elizabeth Cotten
. You might also know the nonsense song "A Horse Named Bill" as "The Whale Song," sung to the tune of "Dixie." The jokey "Three Men Went A-Hunting," those three men being from Ireland, Scotland, and Wales
, describes the hunters coming across a variety of animals and objects, none of which the men can agree what it is. The beautiful but mournful "When First Unto This Country," follows a fellow's imprisonment following an unobtainable love, while the timeless Vaudeville
humor of "Arkansas Traveller" is a great vehicle for Garcia and Grisman's friendly rapport.
More Music from 'Not For Kids Only'
"Hopalong Peter" is another silly song with a great sing along chorus, while the solemn and mysterious sounding "Teddy Bears' Picnic
," melody by John Walter Bratton and lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy, describe possibly the cutest family outing ever. Then comes another silly sing along in "There Ain't No Bugs On Me," a tune probably familiar to most kids' music listeners. The lesson song "The Miller's Will" sees a father asking each of his sons how he would run the family mill after old dad is gone, while "Hot Corn, Cold Corn" is a great pickin' song remeniscent of Lead Belly's "Pick a Bale of Cotton," from his album Lead Belly Sings for Children
. The album ends with the majestic, melancholy "A Shenandoah Lullaby," a tune covered with an equally superb musical atmosphere by Gunnar Madsen on his kids' music album I'm Growing
Although Garcia and Grisman are the featured performers on Not for Kids Only, the duo are joined by a host of performers, including percussionist Hal Blaine and Grisman collaborators Joe Craven (percussion/fiddle), Matt Eakle (piccolo), Jim Kerwin (bass), and Jody Stecher (fiddle), among others. But it's Garcia and Grisman's gritty vocal warmth and spot-on bluegrass picking that make Not for Kids Only one of the best classic kids' albums out there.
Released 1993; Acoustic Disc
- "Jenny Jenkins"
- "Freight Train" (written by Elizabeth Cotten)
- "A Horse Named Bill"
- "Three Men Went A-Hunting"
- "When First Unto This Country"
- "Arkansas Traveller"
- "Hopalong Peter"
- "Teddy Bears' Picnic"
- "There Ain't No Bugs On Me"
- "The Miller's Will"
- "Hot Corn, Cold Corn"
- "A Shenandoah Lullaby"