Bluegrass At Its Best

P.D. Kelley

I wasn’t much of a Bluegrass fan but The Del McCoury Band changed things up for me a bit and had me toe tapping throughout their performance on Sunday, December 3rd. I might have let out a little yip or two. When musicians are this good at what they do, ya jess cain’t hep yoself! This is definitely a family affair with Del on guitar, son Rob on the banjo, another son Ronnie playing mandolin and, coming on for the second set, grandson Heaven (that is not a misprint) also on guitar. Rounding things out were long-time band members Jason Carter on the fiddle and Alan Bartram on the upright bass. Oh, and in the lobby working the merch table was Del’s wife Jean. And all these folks tour together? Coming from a family where plates were thrown regularly and cars peeled out of the driveway spewing gravel, I can’t imagine spending more than 10 minutes with my relatives in a confined space. Yet these people seemed to genuinely like each other and like making music together. And what music. Blue grass for sure with some country and folk influences, much original material as well as charming versions of old favorites and some quirky tunes as well. Although The Lovin Spoonful recorded Nashville Cats back in the mid 60’s, it seems tailor-made for this band’s style of pickin’ and splendid three, four, or five part harmonies. The ensemble consisted of almost all acoustic instruments, amplified only by standing mikes. Del has an “aw shucks” stage demeanor and he bantered with the crowd, often making fun of himself. He seemed genuinely delighted to still be on stage at age 78 (79 next February 1st) and he has an impeccable blue grass pedigree, starting out with Bill Monroe and the iconic Blue Grass Boys in the early 60’s, eventually forming his own band, The Dixie Pals, which has morphed into what we see and hear today. He, the band, and all the band members have received numerous awards for musical excellence, including highest honors from the International Bluegrass Music Association. His fans are a curious mix of oldsters who grew up with The Grand Ole Opry and sway in their seats, and new age millennials who hop and bop down front. As for me, I’m still not particularly fond of Bluegrass, but I am a fan of The Del McCoury Band.

Catch you on the flip side.