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Grateful Guitar - David Cullen $15.00 $12.75

IN THE ARTIST’S WORDS ~ ~ The Grateful Guitar project was an idea that came to me years ago when I started including Grateful Dead classics in my shows. I got them all recorded in a very productive session using my Taylor steel string guitar sporting the new Dean Markley ALCHEMY strings. A note-for-note TAB/ Standard Notation transcription of 10 tunes from Grateful Guitar will be available in the Fall. It will also include a Lesson CD with performance tips on each tune in the book. I’m very happy to be able to have both the audio and printed versions available for all the Grateful Dead Fans out there. It has always been fun to play these tunes in their solo arrangements capturing the vibe and feel of an acoustic Grateful Dead show. ~~ DC
David Cullen  : Grateful Guitar
    Mention the Grateful Dead to a group of friends and it is doubtful that you will receive many ambivalent responses. As with liver and onions, there is no middle ground — someone either loves the Dead or does not. Fans, affectionately known as “Deadheads”, can recite infinite amounts of minutiae regarding the band, while non-fans might struggle to name a single song.
Some might question the decision to use the music of the Dead as the vehicle for a solo acoustic guitar CD; covering 15 Dead “classics” with no vocals and just a solitary 615ce is an ambitious undertaking with inherent risk. But on Grateful Guitar, the idea bears fruit.
One of the most common sights at a Grateful Dead concert was what Deadheads called “The Parking Lot” — a large gathering of people sitting or walking around with their acoustic guitars, playing their favorite Dead songs. David Cullen has fashioned Grateful Guitar in that straightforward spirit — if you can imagine one of those strolling minstrels being an accomplished player.
Cullen tackles the Dead “classics” head-on, reducing the music to its purest elements by using his 615ce to morph the songs back into the folk forms from which they sprang. “Sugar Magnolia” blossoms into an entrancing rendition, with intricate overtones seeping through every note. Such well-worn songs as “Friend of the Devil”, “Casey Jones”, and “Shakedown Street” are covered with precision, fervor, and aplomb.
As a reward to serious fans, Cullen fastens some of the rarer and less-performed Dead songs to the end of the CD. Deadheads will particularly enjoy the inclusion of “They Love Each Other”, “Rueben and Cherise”, and “If I Had the World to Give”.
But the great thing about Grateful Guitar is that you don’t have to be a Deadhead, or even know who the Dead were, to enjoy the music. Those who revel in the deceptive simplicity of skilled acoustic guitar playing will appreciate the CD, while those who might be curious about the Dead but require a “safe” portal into the band’s oeuvre will be well served.
Stripped to their fundamentals, and without the “tribal” trappings and the self-conscious “heaviosity” (apologies to Woody Allen) slathered onto them by ardent fans, the band’s more familiar tunes can be judged on their own merits. In that regard, “I Know You Rider” is a revelation. Cullen’s performance captures nuances that are lost in the multi-instrumental layering of the recording(s) and concert performances.
Cullen’s deft, delicate touch, and the resulting soft decay wring heart-rending expression from his 615ce, allowing the listener’s imagination to capture and explore the expressive mood of “Rider”. On “Ripple”, Cullen’s guitar prowess continues to shine. With subtle clarity, he weaves a comforting tapestry that conjures images of a peaceful summer in the country. The next track, “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad” is a welcome change of pace — an up-tempo arrangement that allows Cullen’s guitar chops to run loose. Appropriately, the final song on the CD is “Bid You Good Night”, which the Dead would play as the last song after a particularly good performance. It is a fitting choice to close this honorable tribute.
— David Kaye  WOOD & STEEL

David Cullen "Grateful Guitar", Solid Air SACD 2041, 2003

Nearly ten years ago, the death of Jerry Garcia marked the end of the long, strange trip known as the Grateful Dead. David Cullen figures enough time has passed to properly evaluate the band's contribution to American music. Though they were noted for psychedelic overtures and percussive space jams, it could be argued that the Dead were a "guitar player's" band. This San Francisco born guitarist proves that plausible theory on this brilliant collection of solo acoustic renderings of the Dead's classic cannon. For fans of "Working Man's Dead", "American Beauty", "Reckoning", and "Dead Set", Cullen's "Grateful Guitar" is a perfection companion. Tribute albums which tread on sacred ground are almost always a dangerous endeavor. Cullen ably confronts the daunting task of re-working songs etched in stone in the same easygoing manner as did his mentors with two important distinctions: he never drifts from the original structure of each composition, and his improvisations stay true to the song's primal melodic appeal. For "Uncle John's Band" Cullen employs a myriad of arpeggios and two and three note groupings to gradually reveal the motif in the verses. The pedal tone on open D for "I Know You Rider" builds just enough anticipation until the familiar melody kicks in. The disco-Dead get their rootsy props on "Shakedown Street" as Cullen often quotes Phil Lesh's descending bass line and adds a few more 7 chords into the mix than did Garcia and Weir, who were then under the tutelage a very funky, and commercial hit conscious Lowell George. Cullen emphasizes the jazzy, shuffle feel of Garcia's solo gem "Sugaree" with detailed finger-picking and soulful chord intervals. The most famous acoustic guitar intro of all time, "Friend of the Devil" stays put, though Cullen's up-tempo rendition affords the verses a vigorous shot-in-the-arm which was not something the Dead often accomplished, if ever. You'll be amazed at the breadth of the Greteful Dead's contribution to acoustic music from this disc, and this album will also serve as an inspiration and lesson to guitar players to explore the classics in the same manner as Cullen.
© Tom Semioli Minor7th

Artist: David Cullen
Product Type: AMR CDs
Item #: SACD2041
Price: $15.00 $12.75
Grateful Guitar - David Cullen
This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 29 September, 2005.

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