Del McCoury

Del McCoury
By Vicki Dean

In the summer of 1950 in York County, Pennsylvania, Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys are in town to play a show at a local drive-in. An 11-year-old boy is itching to see the Grand Ole Opry star and he talks his older sister into letting him tag along. “I begged to go with her. I wasn’t interested in the movie,” Del McCoury says.

Monroe and his boys (whose group at that time included a girl), played between movie features at the Cross Keys Drive-In theater in rural New Oxford, Pa. Monroe’s music played through the metal drive-in speakers hanging from car windows. “He played on top of the refreshment stand. At the end of the songs, everybody would blow their horns,” McCoury recalls. “I stood outside where I could hear them.” Six decades later, he says he clearly remembers the band’s lineup: Monroe on mandolin, Bessie Lee Mauldin on bass, Joe Stuart on banjo, Jimmy Martin singing lead and playing guitar, and Joe Meadows on fiddle.

A few years later, the aspiring banjo player goes to see Flatt & Scruggs at a music park in Hellam, Pa., about ten miles east of York. Scruggs’ picking inspired him to take up the instrument and sparked a lifelong love of the music that would later become known as bluegrass. “I had already started playing (banjo), and that was the first time I really could see what he was doing. It really helped me a whole lot to see what he did,” McCoury says of Scruggs’ signature three-finger banjo rolls.

McCoury has traveled far and wide, but never strayed far from the music he heard as a young boy in Pennsylvania. “I liked that sound I heard with Bill Monroe and Flatt & Scruggs in the early days,” he says.

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April 2014 Reviews


KEN & BRAD KOLODNER SKIPPING ROCKS Fenchurch Music 07 This new and, in their own words, neo-traditional CD from Ken and Brad Kolodner (father and son) is subtitled Original And Traditional Appalachian Old-Time Music. They play a mix of original and traditional tunes on a variety of instruments. For example, the first cut “The Orchard” […]

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THE GRASCALS WHEN I GET MY PAY Mountain Home MH14852 Playing through the 13 songs of the follow-up release to the Grascals’ highly successful Life Finds A Way, it’s quickly apparent on many of the tracks that the drums have been brought forward a notch. Doing so does change The Grascals’ sound a bit, toughening […]

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RESCUE JUNCTION ON ANY ROAD No Label RS2013-07 This is the second project from this entertaining group from Ontario, Canada, following their self-titled release in 2011. The duo of Kyle and Kaitlyn Gerber is joined on the session by Roger Martin (banjo) and Dallas Roth (bass). Guest musicians include Skip Cherryholmes (guitar), Randy Morrison (fiddle), […]

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FROG TROUBLE—BY SANDRA BOYNTON Workman Publishing 9780761171768. Hardback, 65 pp., includes 12-song CD, $16.95. (Workman Publishing, 225 Varick St., New York, NY 10014, As the mother of a two-year-old I was very familiar with Sandra Boynton before this CD and book landed on my desk to review. She writes and illustrates kids’ books (Barnyard […]

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Daughters of Bluegrass

VARIOUS ARTISTS DAUGHTERS OF BLUEGRASS: PICKIN’ LIKE A GIRL Blue Circle Records BCR-036    How wonderful it is to be living in an era when Dixie Hall can spearhead a new three-CD project featuring the Daughters Of Bluegrass and proudly title it Pickin’ Like A Girl. Times have changed! This remarkable set of 52 songs by […]

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NOAM PIKELNY PLAYS KENNY BAKER PLAYS BILL MONROE Compass Records 4616 With a lineup led by Noam Pikelny on banjo with Mike Bub on bass, Stuart Duncan on fiddle, Ronnie McCoury on mandolin and Bryan Sutton on guitar, there’s no reason to wonder about the musical quality of this third recording by Pikelny for Compass. […]

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THE GIBSON BROTHERS THEY CALLED IT MUSIC Compass Records 745992 Eric and Leigh Gibson are at their best when writing and harmonizing about people in a state of quiet desperation and in search of some sort of emotional or spiritual reprieve. This is to say they shine brightest when writing and singing about people like […]

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HILLBENDERS CAN YOU HEAR ME? Compass Records 7 4585 2 Newgrass Revival left a significant mark behind them in their two decades of existence, influencing numerous groups. Their combination of complex arrangements, impassioned vocals, instrumental virtuosity, and pop sensibility in a bluegrass context set a high standard for progressive acoustic bands to follow. The Hillbenders, […]

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GRITS & SOUL FLOOD WATERS No Label No Number Up from Mississippi, now working out of Asheville, N.C., Grits & Soul is the duo of Anne Kline and John Looney. Though she plays guitar, Kline here appears only as a singer, although to say “only” in any context about her singing is a mistake. She […]

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