A few years before mandolin master David Grisman formulated his "Dawg Music" concept--a predominantly acoustic fusion music comprised of jazz, bluegrass and other elements--banjoist Tony Trishka was paving the way with his own unique fusion. THE EARLY YEARS collects two complete albums from the 1970s: HEARTLANDS (1975) and BLUEGRASS LIGHT (1973), his first two albums for Rounder.
On these, he tackles traditional bluegrass ("Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms"), good-naturedly outrageous takes on standards (Soldier's Joy"), jazz that swings ("China Grove"--no, not the Doobie Brothers tune), jazz that's atonal ("Bitter's Wheat") and winsome folk-rock ("Heartlands"). The performances are characterized by exciting dexterity, easy grace and wired creativity. Hard-core traditional bluegrass fans may find this puzzling, but fans of Grisman and creative acoustic music will be knocked out.