By Ted Silverman From the Spring 1999 issue of Fiddler Magazine
"Bill Monroe was privileged to see and hear
the impact his innovations had on generations of musicians in his 5 decades long reign as the doyen of
Bluegrass music. Legions of players have followed in his footsteps, many of whom have added new flavors to
the original recipe by incorporating influences outside of the Appalachian roots from which this music
More recently, others simply borrowed the basic instrumentation of the genre adding it to their own unique
vision in order to produce a fresh combination of modern form with a traditional voice.
Modernist innovators whoíve followed in the footsteps of Bill Monroe include David Grisman
(and his many collaborators), Tony Rice, Bela Fleck, the Newgrass Revival, the 80ís Super-group
"Strength in Numbers" and others too numerous to mention. Picking up on this integration of
"new forms, old voices", is a fresh crop of "Newgrass" musicians. Among the most promising of
these young talents is the San Francisco based fiddler Chad Manning. His debut fiddle album "In the Midst"
makes a convincing argument for his place in the ever-growing pantheon of Newgrass talents.
Chad began his San Francisco musical journey playing with local jug bands and pick-up bluegrass acts.
With his formidable skill and broader-than-bluegrass reach, he soon bubbled through the ranks and into
the musical stable of Darol Anger, a charter member of the David Grisman Quintet. Darol and renowned
producer/flatpicker Jim Nunally have produced Chadís first disc with remarkable results. Chad has penned
7 of the CDís 11 songs proving that his talents go quite a ways beyond his imposing abilities with
fiddle and bow. Darol Angerís sponsorship of Chad has indeed bred a very tasty musical fruit.
The compositions here are solid throughout with examples of Celtic influence, a tango, traditional
fiddle tunes, straight-ahead hard-driving bluegrass and even electronic/new age music
(performed with the award winning talents of Michael Manring). The album also features a surprisingly
pleasant vocal track penned and sung by Chadís brother, Chris Clouse: "Living in the Wind" explores
lyric pop territory without straying into formulaic hooks. The CD closes with a melancholic take on the
Hoagy Carmichael standard, "Up the Lazy River".
The sidemen enlisted for this debut project is perhaps the albumís biggest surprise. With the assistance of
Darol Anger, Chad has managed to garner the support of a veritable whoís who of Bluegrass/Newgrass stalwarts.
The supporting cast of characters includes the aforementioned Darol Anger with fellow DGQ alumni
Mike Marshall (Mandolin) and Todd Phillips (AcousticBass). On guitars Chad has obtained the services of
Bay Area wunderkind Scott Nygaard as well as the illustrious David Grier (son of banjo picker Lamar Grier,
who played with Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys for several years). "Stealth" banjo picker Scott Vestal
adds his signature 5 stringtone and talent and rounding out this stellar cast is 1998 IBMA award winner
Rob Ickes on resophonic guitar and electric bass wizard Michael Manring.
Chad shows he can hold his own while shoulder to shoulder with a formidable assortment of musical
heavyweights. His compositional skills display a capacity to engage the listener and the arrangement
and performances here make this both a record worth purchasing and a bit of a collectorís item as
the disc is distributed independently and has not had the benefit of publicity or industry buzz.
Chad Manning is a name you will no doubt be hearing more of in the near future.