Jerry Garcia, David Grisman
Credit: Grateful Dawg: Susana Millman

Grateful Dawg


In middle age, David Grisman and Jerry Garcia resembled gray-bearded, hippie teddy bear twins. As long as Grisman, the celebrated folk mandolin player, and Garcia, taking breaks from his Grateful Dead touring juggernaut, are seen performing in concert clips and rec-room jam sessions, spinning out their sly version of traditional music (bluegrass, sea shanties, and more), Grateful Dawg has a winsome, American-roots charm.

The movie, however, is padded out with syrupy testimonials. Grisman talks about how amazing Garcia was; Garcia, in interview snippets recorded before his death, talks about how amazing Grisman was; everyone who ever knew or played with them talks about how amazing they were together. The onslaught of smiley backslapping never stops, and it’s more than just excessive. As directed by Grisman’s daughter, Gillian Grisman, ”Grateful Dawg” exploits our fascination with Garcia even as it meticulously omits any reference to his celebrity — which is to say, the film has been designed as a kind of folkie infomercial to elevate David Grisman to the status of legend.

Grateful Dawg
  • Movie
  • 81 minutes