For the 2nd week The Del McCoury Band’s Del & Woody, a collection of lyrics left behind by Woody Guthrie and put to music by McCoury, reached #1 on the Billboard Bluegrass chart. As best we can tell (with help from the Woody Guthrie Center), a few songs of Woody’s have charted on radio before, but no project that included only his songs has ever risen to the top of the Billboard album chart. McCoury—who at 77 is no stranger to the top of the c
American folk and protest music legend Woody Guthrie has influenced generations of singer-songwriters. His optimistic vision of the United States was as a land of opportunity, equality, and freedom for all. Though hundreds of his treasured songs have been preserved, they still need to be continued through the vitality of living musicians. To the joy of the folk, country, bluegrass and Americana community, iconic vocalist and guitarist Del McCoury took on the bold task of upholding Guthrie’s legacy.
Del McCoury is at it again. At 77 years young he is still very excited about music and creating projects that will be enjoyed by generations to come. This one might just be the most talked about as it’s rare for two artists to team up on music separated by 70+ years…some of these lyrics were written the year Del was born, but with Woody’s timeless lyrics, and Del’s timeless sound, nothing matters but the songs.
There was a decidedly day-glo hue to the bluegrass played at this year’s Northwest String Summit (July 16-19). Many of the musical merry-makers, and deadicated patrons alike, appeared to still be basking in the warm fluorescent after-light of the “Fare Thee Well” experience. The haunting presence of the now officially departed Dead continues to populate and positively inform a new generation of musical/spiritual adventurers.
To return to a point in your life that you have already lived is metaphysical. Déjà vu, as most of us call it, feels mystical, even if it has a chemical explanation. Scientific evidence aside, to relive something that you have lived before is an experience that seems to connect us with something beyond ourselves. We can both be in the moment and be able to predict (or at least have the feeling that we are predicting) what is coming around the next corner. But to experience déjà vu and to be able to improve upon the actions that once were? Now that is something different altogether.
Bluegrass music is deeply integrated into American musical culture and roots. Yet bluegrass isn’t a pure form. It’s an amalgamation of many preceding styles and individual root systems. None have revealed more about the instrumental beginnings of bluegrass than David “Dawg” Grisman. His mandolin virtuosity was simply too adventurous to not stray from the vein of Kentucky-born grass.
There’s more to country than heartbreak and hillbillies. Experience the depth and breadth of this American art form when the Green Music Center hosts “Dawg Day Afternoon Bluegrass Festival” with Sonoma favorite The David Grisman Sextet, The Del McCoury Band, and dobro master Jerry Douglas presents the Earls of Leicester.
The wild world of bluegrass spiraled into frenzy this past Friday morning when tickets to the forty-second annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival went on sale. Per usual, tickets flew off of the virtual shelves like canned goods in a doomsday scenario, leaving locked out festivalgoers in a state of disarray. “How could this happen to me again?” shouted bluegrass fans across the nation, their fists clenched and shaking at computer screens with a sense of Déjà vu.