At home in Capo Beach, Fall 2004. Notice WON BASS and Anglers Choice tournament trophies, my girlfriend at the time's halloweeen costume, Rago Trout and 3:16 Armageddon, stacks of fishing junk, much of which I still have. Southern Trout Eaters was being developed before I ever left California, I just didn't know it.
At home in Capo Beach, Fall 2004, a few months prior to heading to GA. Notice WON BASS and Anglers Choice tournament trophies, my girlfriend at the time's halloweeen costume, LA Lakers ticket stub in corner of San Onofre painting, Rago Wood Generic Trout, 3:16 Armageddon decorations, 7" MS Slammer tied on, my first swimbait rod (top) I hand wrapped and made, stacks of fishing junk, much of which I still have. Southern Trout Eaters was being developed before I ever left California, I just didn't know it.

Here is the music we licensed for Southern Trout Eaters:

The Sweet Sunny South (Garcia/Grisman, Shady Grove) –Opening Menu
Shady Grove (Garcia/Grisman, Shady Grove) — Intro
The “C” –(Montana Slim)–Blue Ridge Hudd Breakdown
Friday Morning 9:30 (The Muses, Penny) — Freestyle
Angel Band (Old&In The Way, That High Lonesome Sound) -The Huddleston Triad
Pig in a Pen (Old&In the Way, Old&In the Way) Triple Trout Stomp Part 1
Working on a Building (Old&In the Way, Breakdown)  Triple Trout Stomp Part 2
Santa Maria (The Muses, Sinners Waltz) –Closing Credits

If you could listen to my iTunes library, you would hear music from the Civil War, the old West, Latin America, Hawaiian traditional tunes, sea shanties, reggae, country, bluegrass, and classic rock.   About the only thing I knew about Southern Trout Eaters, from it’s early conception, was that bluegrass would be the music that would be used (assuming I could figure out how to license the music).    Since I could not afford to license Bill Monroe’s music, I thought it was terribly fortunate that Acoustic Disc was accessible, super aloha, and worked with me to figure out licensing.

Old&In The Way and Garcia/Grisman are both bands that Jerry Garcia played in. His music outside of the Grateful Dead.  It reminds me of wanting to focus on bigbaits and chasing trophy brown trout, and still trying to do tournament fishing.  Different worlds, but all still very much fishing (or music) in Jerry’s case.  There are many things about the lifestyle choices of Jerry Garcia that are not to be copied or celebrated.   However, when it comes to music, Jerry’s depth and ability to capture the original intent of song is second to none.  The richness of music in real life. I enjoy the Grateful Dead, but I really really enjoy Jerry’s solo work, where he plays in old time, bluegrass, country, and various Americana style bands.  Jerry literally would learn tunes that were hundreds of years old, and get together with David to arrange them, and that is what always resonated with me.  They sounded really good too. Simple songs.  Simple music.  Again, that simplification being the ultimate sophistication thing.    It reminds me of taking a break from the tournament world of fishing and going after a big fish, or focusing on night fishing or exploring new water.  When you do something for the love of doing it, like playing banjo in a bluegrass band, you are forsaking money and financial gain, and you are just doing it because you love music (or the sport of catching fish).   Jerry has a knack for unearthing tunes you never heard of, that are hundreds of years old in many cases, and playing them really really well.  Great tunes, tunes that otherwise would likely be lost for generations and generations.  Do young mothers sing hip hop or heavy metal tunes to their children these days?  Do teachers bring acoustic instruments into classrooms anymore? Am I the only guy that likes to hear musicians play stuff around campfires way out the woods without electricity?  The Garcia/Grisman style of bluegrass was born in the early 90s in San Francisco (David Grisman was a member of Old&In the Way, and Jerry and Dave are just lifelong friends thru music who got back together in the early 90s to record music they both enjoyed.   David kills the mandolin,and together with Jerry, they formed their own style of bluegrass (called “grateful dawg”  the ‘grateful’ from Jerry’s contributions and the dawg from David’s mandolin style) , clean and acoustic, yet loose and fun).     I heard the original Garcia/Grisman album because my brother, who was then a freshman at Standford University, played it for me and my sister while he was home for a holiday one time.  I was blown away.  It resonated with me immediately.  Friend of the Devil and cover of BB King’s Thrill is Gone just rocked, and that sent me on my way to explore and connect the dots in all things that style of music when I was a freshman in high school.  If you want to watch a killer DVD that pretty much summarizes and better explains everything above check out Grateful Dawg.

"I ain't broke, but brother I'm badly bent". Southern Trout Eaters is a journey. Move across the country or somewhere you haven't been 2000 miles near, by yourself, not know a single person and try to blend in and get along. Summer of 2005 was some of the craziest exploration and weekend trips I have ever taken. Try driving thru Western NC and North GA with California tags on your truck and boat sometime. I was pulled over and inspected 5 times in 3 months! Just part of the journey. This photo was in 2006, but I still was learning the hard way... was trying to back down a long driveway, I high centered the trailer because I got too far to the right. Was stuck and had to have a wrecker un-stick me. Guh, fun times.

I was having dinner with my 2 college roommates in Morro Bay, upstairs in a killer beach house we had rented across from Morro Strand, we had been surfing that evening, when on KOTR, the local radio station played “Whiskey in the Jar” from the then newly released Shady Grove album.  This was the first Garcia/Grisman album that was released after Jerry’s death in 1995.  This was approximately late 1996 or early 1997.   There is something about the clean acoustic sound that Jerry and Dave put together that just strikes me to my core.  I think I probably played the Shady Grove album in my college days about 10,000 times.     I went to college at Cal Poly SLO.  San Luis Obispo is the Central Coast of California, and among other things, has a huge agriculture scene.  The Central Valley is nearby, and the Central Valley of California is where the biggest and baddest farming and agriculture goes down that I’m aware of.   Where I’m going with this, is there was a huge cowboy and cowgirl population at Cal Poly.  My favorite times at Cal Poly usually had to do with rodeos, Thursday nights at McClintock’s in downtown where even a goof ‘surfer dude’  like me could find a cowgirl to dance with, partying with a great crew of guys and gals that were decidedly non fraternity/sorority in nature, surfing and fishing (WON BASS and Anglers Choice). Cal Poly was a wonderfully diverse place where you would be in class sitting next to a cowboy from Bakersfield, a surfer from La Jolla, a snowboarder from Mammoth, and a computer whiz from Palo Alto.

August 2005 Trout Eaters. This was a special day. 30 pounds in August makes the heat a lot more tolerable. That Southern heat was something (it still is). I went out and caught 5 studs by the time the wake boards ruined the lake. A nice fellow saw me catch #5 and I still had #4 in the box, and he took this picture for me, from his dock. I was absolutely eaten up with it all. I had no friends, no girlfriend, nothing to do outside of work but fish. So I fished. Weekend warrior to the max. I probably fished 40-45 of the 52 weekends in the year. Only deep cold winter could keep me off the water.

When Southern Trout Eaters was coming together, you have to understand the personal journey that the film encompasses to appreciate why Shady Grove was so perfect for the film, as far as I was concerned.  Shady Grove is the album name, but also, a song name, and the tune Shady Grove was my #1 favorite from the album and if you ask anyone of my college friends, they will tell you I would play Shady Grove while suiting up and getting ready for a surf every time.   Shady Grove is a traditional courting tune, played in Appalachia for centuries.  I’m 100% sure I’d never had heard the song if Jerry hadn’t introduced me to it.   So, when I found myself years later, in the Appalachian Mountains in the middle of a pretty awesome swimbait bite, bluegrass is what I played in my truck.  I have spent many many days and nights alone in the woods in Appalachia, especially the early years, exploring and fishing, and about the only thing I can remember besides the fishing is rocking out to Bill Monroe, Garcia/Grisman, and Old&In The Way on the way to and from the lakes on my weekend adventures.  It’s one of the rituals you get into. I have certain music I play based on where I’m going or what I’m doing, and bluegrass is usually being played with 8″ Huddleston’s and 10″ Triple Trouts are involved.    Then came Monday;  back to forecast updates, software, venture capitalism, and Atlanta.

Appalachia isn't my home. I'm a guest, traveling thru. I know and love bluegrass. To me, bluegrass pays respect to the mountains, the people and the heritage, and that was my attempt to 'tip my hat' or extend some 'aloha'. Some people understood. Some did not and never will. Some will learn. I hope at minimum, the music we used exposes younger people to styles and tunes they otherwise would have no chance at being exposed to in today's world. Music is nowhere near as important as the content itself. I am proud of the music and the content.