Mr. Del McCoury has had a long career in bluegrass. Although originally hired as banjo player, he sang lead vocals and played rhythm guitar for Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys in 1963, with whom he first appeared on the Grand Ole Opry. In the 1980s his sons began performing with him. Fiddler Tad Marks and bass player Mike Brantley joined the group in early 1990s. They relocated to Nashville, Tennessee as they began to attract attention. Fiddler Jason Carter and bassist Mike Bub joined in 1992. Alan Bartram joined the band as bassist in 2005. Mr. McCoury became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in October 2003 and has influenced a great number of bands, including Phish, with whom he has shared the stage several times and who have covered his songs. He has also performed with The String Cheese Incident and Donna the Buffalo, and recorded with Steve Earle. Mr. McCoury has covered songs by artists as diverse as The Lovin’ Spoonful, Tom Petty, and Richard Thompson and has appeared at festivals including Bonnaroo, High Sierra, the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, The Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and the Newport Folk Festival. In 2008, Mr. McCoury started DelFest, an annual bluegrass festival in Cumberland, Maryland, held at the Allegany County Fairgrounds with the Del McCoury Band plays every night at each of the festivals.
I had the honor of chatting with Mr. McCoury to support the April 21st show at the Stoughton Opera House. We spent time talking about the history of Bluegrass music, from when he started to where it is now. We got into a discussion about his soon to be released album, “Del McCoury Still Sings Bluegrass” will drop this May 25th, smack dab in the middle of Delfest and along side the release of his son’s group, The Travlin’ McCoury’s new release. We spoke about his work with Jerry Lee Lewis and friend of the proGram, Mr. David “Dawg” Grisman. We even get a little insight as to the first time Mr. McCoury met up with Jerry Garcia and what could have become of it if Jerry was a little less shy.
It is always a treat to speak with the greats, and in this case, it sure did not disappoint.