Del McCoury

Del-LeadDel McCoury
The Bluegrass Legend’s
North Carolina Mountain Roots And Life At 80

With his hair neatly cut and silver in color, Del McCoury has always had the appearance of a bluegrass elder statesman. Still, it’s hard to believe that the IBMA Hall of Famer is about to turn 80 years old in February, born in 1939 in York County, Pa. McCoury, however, is still a vibrant performer who tours nationwide every year. He just released his latest studio album, Del McCoury Still Sings Bluegrass, a rollicking set of excellent music featuring his long-time band including sons Ronnie and Rob McCoury, Alan Bartram, and Jason Carter.
“I started school when I was five years old,” McCoury shares. “I had three brothers and sisters that were already going to school, so I thought, ‘I’ve got to go to school, too. This must be fun.’ We had to walk a long way to school, so the teacher gave me books. Now, I didn’t know if he realized I would pass into the second grade or not, but there wasn’t much in the way of kindergarten back in those days. So, I went to school at five and he gave me books with the first graders and I would do my assignments. And, I just kept right on going even though I wasn’t old enough to be in school. I didn’t flunk a class. I liked school for the first seven years, and I was 17 when I graduated.”
I first interviewed McCoury in 2004, which was at the end of an amazing run of the Del McCoury Band winning the IBMA Entertainer Of The Year Award for a record nine times. The interview back then centered on his views of music, his open-minded approach to picking songs to record and about the wide array of diverse musicians he has collaborated with over the years. Read entire article »

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October 2018 Reviews


VARIOUS ARTISTS SONGS FROM LYON COUNTY: DENNIS K. DUFF Gracey Holler Music No Number If you are one of the many of us who’ve watched the landscape we grew up in, a landscape inseparable from our sense of ourselves, gradually change to the point of unrecognizable, you will relate wholeheartedly to this powerful song collection […]

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TOM MINDTE & MASON VIA Patuxent Music CD-312 Accomplished young guitarist Mason Via and Duffey-influenced mandolinist Tom Mindte take full advantage of the flexibility of the brother-duo format on their eponymous debut. Backed by bassist Ben Somerville, the pair apply their musical excellence to typical duet music (“Twas Midnight On The Stormy Deep”), bluegrass (“Heed […]

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THE LONESOME ACE STRINGBAND WHEN THE SUN COMES UP No Label No Number    This is the third CD released by this band, which includes Chris Coole on banjo, Max Heineman on bass, and John Showman on fiddle. Their promo material states: “The space created by the lack of guitar, the presence of three strong vocalists, […]

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THE BLUE SKY BOYS 1939-1949 RADIO BROADCASTS Patuxent Music CD-280 It’s high time for another Blue Sky Boys retrospective. Fifteen years after the Bear Family compilation of the duo’s Bluebird and RCA Victor recordings, and more than 20 years after a Copper Creek radio compilation, Patuxent Music (Tom Mindte and Dick Spottswood producers) have released […]

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THE BLUE SKY BOYS BY DICK SPOTTSWOOD Univ. of Miss. Press 9781496816412. Paperback, 256 pp., 71 b&w illustrations, $30. (Univ. of Miss. Press, 3825 Ridgewood Rd., Jackson, MS 39211, Brother duos were once common in country music. The Monroe Brothers, the Delmore Brothers, and the Blue Sky Boys were all very popular in the […]

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ROE FAMILY SINGERS SONGS OF THE MOUNTAINS, SONGS OF THE PLAINS Pinecastle Recordings PRC1210 The Roe Family Singers are from Minnesota and feature Kim Roe on vocals, autoharp, and washboard, and Quillan Roe on vocals, banjo, and archtop guitar, plus a large backup band with everything from electric guitar to musical saw. These 15 selections […]

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LENA ULLMAN AND ANNA FALKENAU I CAN HEAR YOU CALLING No Label No Number This is a CD of fiddle and clawhammer banjo duets and songs, but it goes considerably outside the envelope of old-time music. Anna Falkenau (fiddle) is from Scotland and the Orkney Islands. Lena Ullman (banjo) is from further south in Britain. […]

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KRISTI STANLEY HEART WIDE OPEN Union House Records UHR-0004 This is Kristi Stanley’s debut release on Union House and she is joined on this project by a great collection of talent, including Austin Brown (guitar, bass), Nick Goad (mandolin), Rod Smith (banjo, resonator guitar), and Adam Haynes (fiddle). Guest artists include Travis Houck (resonator guitar), […]

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HIGH FIDELITY HILLS OF HOME Rebel Records REB-CD-1864    This is bluegrass music like it used to be in years gone by. Fine vocals and strong, time-tested material free of cliche and instantly recognizable as a fine example of what made bluegrass great. Strong duets and trios marked by first-rate picking are encased in exciting and […]

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FIVE MILE MOUNTAIN ROAD Patuxent Music CD-315 Five Mile Mountain Road is a four-piece old-time band from Franklin County, Virginia.  The core of the band and its old-time sound consists of Billy Hurt on fiddle and Seth Boyd on banjo.  Solid support comes from Steven Dowdy on bass (formerly of the Bluegrass Brothers) and multi-instrumentalist Brennan Ernst […]

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EASY 2-CHORD SONGS FOR THE MANDOLIN—BY WAYNE ERBSEN—Native Ground Music NGB-407. (Native Ground Music, 109 Bell Rd., Asheville, NC 28803, web: Wayne Erbsen has written a basic book for beginners who want to learn to play mandolin. The premise is that the reader is very new to music and to the instrument. Based on […]

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DEEPER SHADE OF BLUE STEAM Mountain Fever MFR180629 This recording marks the seventh for the Charlotte, N.C.-based band and their first on the Mountain Fever label. The title-track Steamwas released as a single and the entire project is now available. It’s a solid effort that further marks the band’s upward movement in the ranks, and they’re […]

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CARIDWEN & GREG SPATZ ALL ALONG THE SEA Corvus Records CR025 For years, I imagine Caridwen and Greg Spatz have heard people say, “You should do an album together.” Now they have, and it’s glorious. Few duos could have recorded a collection of such range and mastery, one that melds Irish, Swing, French, Scottish, Klezmer, […]

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BLUEGRASS, NEWGRASS, OLD-TIME, AND AMERICANA MUSIC—BY CRAIG HARRIS—Pelican Publishing 9781455624010. Paperback, 400 pp., 63 b&w photos, $24.95. (Pelican Publishing, 1000 Burmaster St., Gretna, LA 70053, For many years, we’ve heard the expression “big tent” to connote the wider musical world of traditional music. Some feel that bluegrass encompasses that tent; others think bluegrass is […]

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BLUEGRASS GENERATION: A MEMOIR—BY NEIL V. ROSENBERG—Univ. of Illinois Press 9780252083396. Foreword by Gregory N. Reish, paperback, 304 pp., $21.95. (Univ. of Illinois Press, 11030 S. Langley Ave., Chicago, IL60628, It seems that each generation felt, in its time, that it was the first to bring bluegrass to a wider audience. Those who came […]

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ALWAYS BEEN A RAMBLER: G.B. GRAYSON AND HENRY WHITTER, COUNTRY MUSIC PIONEERS OF SOUTHERN APPALACHIA—BY JOSH BECKWORTH—McFarland Publishing 9781476667294. Contributions to Southern Appalachian Studies (Series), 234 pp, $25. (McFarland Publishing, P.O. Box 611, Jefferson, NC 28640, It’s rare for a labor of love, which this book clearly is, to also be a well-written, balanced, […]

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