Jesse McReynolds & Friends
Tribute to Jerry Garcia & Robert Hunter
~ Songs of the Grateful Dead ~

On Woodstock Records 
Order your copy for $15.00 (includes s/h)



“Jesse’s singing voice is like a long-lost brother voice between Jerry Garcia and David Nelson. I enjoyed the new song we co-wrote, Day by Day. Especially liked the ‘McReynolds picking’ accompaniment, your signature contribution to bluegrass music.”
~ Robert Hunter, Musician/ Poet/ Author, Lyricist for the Grateful Dead 

“It’s an honor and a thrill for me to be on this project. Fantastic that I was asked to play on it by one of my all-time heroes!! The session was filled with great moments. Plus the extra added treat of singing with Jesse on the Grand Ole Opry! All I can think is, “Pinch me, is this real?” Both the session and the Opry will always be revered among my greatest experiences.”
~ David Nelson, New Riders of the Purple Sage


“After listening, I was reminded of what made Jesse McReynolds a major influence for so many musicians and one of our country’s greatest music legends. His musicianship, singing, and arrangements should be heard by everyone. It is an honor for all of us at Woodstock Records to bring this music to the public.
Thanks to all who have helped keep the flame burning. With this CD it just got brighter and higher!”
~ Aaron “Professor Louie” Hurwitz, Woodstock Records – June 2010

“Jesse McReynolds is an American treasure, and the combination of his voice and mandolin with Robert Hunter’s lyrics and Jerry Garcia’s music is… wonderful." (August 2010) 
"If Jerry had managed to live to 80 and been from the South, he'd sound like Jesse McReynolds," McNally says. "It's one of the great American voices singing great American songs."
~ Dennis McNally (official historian for the Grateful Dead) - Dec. 2010 

                                                                                Some Reviews!

SPIN OF THE WEEK Songs of the Grateful Dead (Woodstock Records) Jesse McReynolds & Friends
The Grateful Dead often tasted cool country waters, so it feels natural that veteran Grand Ole Opry member Jesse McReynolds (of Jim and Jesse) has crafted this heartfelt tribute to guitarist Jerry Garcia and lyricist Robert Hunter. The 13 acoustic tracks include "Black Muddy River," "Ripple," "The Wheel," "Stella Blue" and "Fire on the Mountain." David Nelson of the New Riders of the Purple Sage and Stu Allen of the JG Band are special guests. It's a generous portion of country comfort.
- Greg Cahill. Pacific Sun

Jesse McReynolds & Friends' juicy singing/picking session "Songs of the Grateful Dead" (Woodstock Records, A-) underscores the Dead's old-timey and bluegrass soul, even on chuggers like "The Wheel" and reggae-flavored "Fire on the Mountain." Jerry Garcia loved McReynolds' work in Jim & Jesse.
- Jon Takiff, Philadelphia Daily News staff

                                                                                   The legendary Jerry Garcia
                                                                             August 1, 1942 ~ August 9, 1995

Though this is properly a tribute to one of America's greatest bands, I will assert that it's simultaneously a loving enshrinement of roots musics period, particularly the Appalachian. Jesse McReynolds is the sort of gent the term 'legend' was coined for, a guy recognized along with pre-eminent names like Bill Monroe and Willie Nelson. And what Jerry Garcia and the boys were shooting for in their own drug-dazed brilliant way, McReynolds has been living much more straightly for a very long time, all his life. He, it must be emphasized, sits irremovably in among the progenitors Garcia, Hunter, Weir, and all the many others associated with the Haight Ashbury wonders sat in awe of, providing the spark for why they did what they did.

Ironically, Songs of the Grateful Dead is much more faithful to the Dead's wellsprings than the band itself has been. Nonetheless, the harmony vocals in the opening bars for "The Wheel" will cause a sharp intake of breath, grandson Garrett McReynolds chiming in for a note-perfect Dead keen. Jesse's encanting is just as skillful, direct, and completely unpretentious, a matter of deep respect coupled with a love for the mode and its history. And, man, that mando he plays!, a direct brother to Garcia's ways and means. This shouldn't be surprising, though, as McReynolds has been noted for his innovations and cutting edge for well over four decades, and a man still ahead of his time. The guy conveys so damn much without resorting to pyrotechnics that one is reminded of the virtues of nuance and subtlety in very sharp contrast indeed. Yes, he is capable of lightning speed, as several asides illustrate, but what the picker imbues a single note with must be heard to be believed. Chet Atkins had to have loved this cat.

Songs makes the Dead's repertoire new again and several cuts are extended in concord with the San Fran band's wont. David Nelson from The New Riders of the Purple Sage joins in, and Robert Hunter was so enthusiastic that he not only lent his seal of approval but wrote a brand new cut with McReynolds. Good heavens, what more do ya need to know? Nothin'! Grab it, dig it, and, like me, sit entranced and reflective. This is one of the most perfect conflations of the past and the present produced in the last 10 years.
~ Mark S. Tucker, The Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange 

"Jesse McReynolds is one of the true bluegrass mandolin innovators.
His picking and singing continue to inspire me after nearly half a century of enjoyable listening.
Congratulations Jesse on yet another milestone in your fabulous musical history."  ~ David "Dawg" Grisman 

And a review on the Grateful Dead website,  entitled:
"Jesse McReynolds: Bluegrass Great Records Songs of Hunter and Garcia" by Blair Jackson

Something from Jambands:

Oh, it’s a funny ol’ world – with a long, long road that runs in a great big circle around it.

Back in the days when a young Jerry Garcia was immersed in the world of bluegrass music, his list of picking heroes included the McReynolds bothers, Jim (guitar) and Jesse (mandolin). In fact, when Garcia and his buddy Sandy Rothman took off on their now-legendary cross-country bluegrass vision quest in 1964 (on the wings of a snow white ’61 Corvair), one of their goals was to track down “Jim & Jesse & The Virginia Boys” – the McReynolds and their band of ace players. Although the young crusaders did manage to hear the brothers live, a moment of post-show shyness kept them from actually meeting the McReynolds brothers in person. Rothman and Garcia soon went back home to California (Garcia eventually fell in with a different crowd – but that’s another story) and Jim and Jesse kept on rolling and picking. And that was that.

46 years later, the road has come around in one of its karma-guided circles. Jerry Garcia may be gone, as is Jim McReynolds (who passed away in 2004), but Jesse McReynolds is still making music. His newly-released Songs of the Grateful Dead finds the 81-year-old McReynolds paying tribute to a friend he never met, with folks such as the New Riders’ David Nelson, Stu Allen (JGB), and even Garcia’s long-ago co-pilot Sandy Rothman, joining in on the fun.

Right off the bat, you need to know two things: this is not another “Pickin’ On …”-style tribute album loaded with high lonesome versions of the subject’s tunes set to a bluegrass tempo. What you have are songs played in a manner respectful to the original arrangements with the payoff being moments like when the break on a nicely-chugging “Franklin’s Tower” opens up and Jesse McReynolds’ sweet little mandolin leads the jam – it’ll make the hair stand up on your arms.

Secondly, McReynolds doesn’t sound his age – not at all. His voice is strong and full of emotion throughout the album. For someone who wasn’t familiar with the Dead’s music (it was Rothman and McReynolds’ wife Joy who convinced him to consider the project), ol’ Jesse simply nails the sadly-sweet emotion of “Standing On The Moon” and “Stella Blue”. At the same time, he’s totally comfy with the rapid-fire barrel-assing charge of “Alabama Getaway”, becoming the character in each song much the way that Garcia used to.

McReynold’s mandolin is the star of this collection, however, easily meeting the challenge of playing everything from the already-grassy “Deep Elem Blues” and the mando-ready “Ripple” to the rollicking swagger of “Deal” or the slow hip-sway of “Fire On The Mountain”. Simply put: it all works.

An added bonus is the album’s final track, “Day By Day”. A new tune featuring music by McReynolds and words by Robert Hunter, “Day By Day” nestles in nicely alongside the rest of the songs in this collection. (Will there be more Hunter/McReynolds collaborations in the future? There deserves to be …)

All in all, Songs of the Grateful Dead is just what it should be: an album full of wonderful tunes done with respect and love. Jesse McReynolds’ excitement over “discovering” the music of the Dead shines through – big time.

Jerry would’ve loved it.   ~ Brian Robbins For Relix Magazine/ 

Robert Hunter, a great man not only in arts and letters, but a philosopher who has been, and continues to be, an inspiring influence on what is regarded as the gentle, kind, Grateful Dead outlook on life. This mindset, coupled with a group approach to achieving goals, was advanced when it was conceived, and is considered advanced even today. Not to mention Hunter's wonderful humor (if you're lucky enough to find his blogs online!)... a cosmic renaissance man...  ~Joy McR.

Grateful Dead tribute from bluegrass star McReynolds By Jim Harrington Oakland Tribune
Posted: 12/01/2010 01:00:00 AM PST Updated: 12/01/2010 01:43:06 PM PST

BACK IN 1964, just before the formation of the Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia took a road trip through the South to see some of his favorite bluegrass acts.

High on his list was Jim & Jesse, the two McReynolds brothers inducted into the Grand Ole Opry earlier that year. He was able to catch the legendary bluegrass duo during his pilgrimage and, according to longtime Dead historian Dennis McNally, Garcia cherished the experience.

Funny how things come around.

Completing the circle, Jesse McReynolds, an 81-year-old vocalist-mandolinist, has released "Songs of the Grateful Dead," a tribute to Garcia and his songwriting partner, Robert Hunter. He'll showcase the 13-song offering, which features such Dead classics as "Ripple," "Bird Song" and "Stella Blue," when he headlines the "The Wheel -- A Musical Celebration of Jerry Garcia" on Saturday at the Fillmore in San Francisco.

McReynolds, inducted into the International Bluegrass Hall of Fame in 1993 and now in his 45th year of performing at the Opry, might seem an unlikely person to deliver a Dead tribute record. Yet, he says he's long admired the way Garcia and company went about making music.
"They weren't doing it because they were trying to get a big hit," he says by phone from his home in Nashville. "They were just doing the type of music they loved to do. It's just good to know people are doing that. I've been doing (music) for a little more than 60 years, and I do it because I love the music."
The new CD is officially credited to Jesse McReynolds and "Friends," two of whom are absolute ringers when it comes to interpreting the Dead's songbook. The pals are guitarist David Nelson, a longtime Garcia cohort best known as an original member of the New Riders of the Purple Sage, and vocalist-guitarist Stu Allen, who has performed in several Dead tribute acts and band-related projects. Still, McReynolds' voice truly sells this album.
"If Jerry had managed to live to 80 and been from the South, he'd sound like Jesse McReynolds," McNally says. "It's one of the great American voices singing great American songs."

It's not, however, a bluegrass album. McReynolds definitely strayed from his comfort zone by recording an album that wouldn't sound out of place if played as the meat (or, more appropriately, the tofu patty) in a Grateful Dead studio album sandwich.

"It's a different type of music than I've done throughout the years," McReynolds says. "I didn't want to do it bluegrass. A few bluegrass groups have done Grateful Dead things. I wanted to do this more in a way that would be recognized as the Grateful Dead-style music. I did it pretty much in the middle of the road between bluegrass and rock 'n' roll.

"This is something I got into because I thought it was interesting and I wasn't sure how people would accept it. I was surprised that the Grateful Dead fans have accepted it as well as they have. I'd say that the response has been 99 percent positive."

Look for that approval rate to rocket even higher when McReynolds performs at the Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd., San Francisco. The Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band, David Nelson & Friends and other special guests are also on the bill. The show is a benefit for the Rex Foundation, the Grateful Dead's charitable arm that benefits several worthy organizations.   

The Listening Station: The 10 Best Albums of 2010!
Jesse & Friends Tribute to JG & RH came in at #8:
Legendary bluegrass musician Jesse McReynolds is half of the McReynold’s Brothers duo Jim & Jesse that Jerry Garcia and Sandy Rothman followed on the road back in the spring of ’64. When Jesse first heard of the Grateful Dead’s music several years back, he immediately found a connection and decided to put together an album of their songs. The result isn’t just another ‘pickin’ on’ album, but an authentic bluegrass take on the Hunter/Garcia tunes.

As Dennis McNally, well-known Dead writer and publicist for the band, recently said to
“It isn’t GD music bluegrass-ified. Instead, he picked out great ballads like “Standing on the Moon” – his performance of that at the Rex left me and lots of others in tears – and “Black Muddy River.” He’ll be at the festivals next summer, and he’s special.”


The "Deadicated" section of the December 2010 Relix magazine has a nice story on this CD!


This project has been a long time coming!                                                                                                                               
I’d like to thank my husband, Jesse McReynolds, for trying his hand at just a few of the many fine songs written by Jerry Garcia & Robert Hunter. Jesse is fearless when it comes to music and loves good music of any kind. Jerry Garcia sang & played with heart & musical chops, and I’m thankful Jesse has this new influence in his playing. It must be in his soul, for now I hear it in his mandolin breaks on other songs from time to time and that’s the best tribute of all. 

What I will most enjoy about this project is the chance for new audiences to hear the music that made my world a better place. I see eyes light up when people hear “Black Muddy River” and “Ripple” and, well, really, everything for the first time... This music is a torch that will be handed on to coming generations. This world can be sad & lonely at times but this music is like an old friend to help you through it. 

I wish there were a Nobel peace prize for music, for Robert Hunter surely deserves something like it for his contributions to the world.                                   
 The world is a better place because of the music of the Grateful Dead. It’s an enigma that truly is “built to last.” 
~ Mrs. Jesse (Joy) McReynolds March 10, 2010
>>>A big thank you to William Hawkins (voted best landscape artist on Ebay!) for his beautiful painting of a “Black Muddy River under a Full Moon."  I’ve always admired Bill’s work and we’re thrilled he did this art for our project. Bill is a musician who sings & plays guitar and used our tribute project as his musical inspiration for this painting.

Please check out his wonderful blog and new paintings up for auction at

   "Black Muddy River under a Full Moon" by William Hawkins