All posts tagged: Jerry Douglas

Oh Happy Day! – Merlefest 25 Wraps Up

Sunday is “Go to Meeting” day in the South, so it figures that the final day at Merlefest has a heavy gospel flavor. But because it is Merlefest – and therefore eclectic – you have your choice of shape-note singing, bluegrass gospel, Sunday blues (which should appeal to the non-believers and sinners alike), and black gospel. I opted for the black gospel sound this year, mostly by default.  (Not surprisingly, I was “late” for church because I slept in after a night of the blues with the Tedeschi Trucks Band.) But the Lord moves in mysterious ways.  And with the Benedict College Gospel Choir (photo at top of post) the Lord definitely moves! By the time I arrived, the choir had an enthusiastic crowd at the Watson Stage swaying and singing to that gospel standard Oh Happy Day!  There was testifying by some of the best voices of the weekend (and that’s saying a lot).  It was the perfect way to kick off Day Four – the final day – of Merlefest 25. The only …

A Jerry Christmas: Some coal mixed in with the goodies

Last evening several friends (old and new)  joined me as we caught the last show on the short “Jerry Christmas” tour featuring Dobro master Jerry Douglas along with John Oates and Irish singer Maura O’Connell.  This was my first trip to the Rams Head Tavern in Annapolis, and while the room has much to recommend it (especially an intimacy that connects performer and audience), the sound mix wasn’t great and O’Connell’s mic was especially bad, with a buzzing and poor sound quality that should have been fixed after the first song. That sound mix was a bother, but it didn’t stop the musicianship of Douglas and his band from coming through.  The music alternated between seasonal music and “palate cleansers” as Douglas described his regular tunes.  The best of the former was a beautiful In the Bleak Midwinter.  There was a tie for weirdest of the former – between a “spooky” Santa Claus is Coming to Town and a well-named Do You Hear What I Hear where Douglas, after announcing that Christmas melodies were sacrosanct, …

Bush and Skaggs: Coming home, coming full circle

Two recent releases by Sam Bush and Ricky Skaggs — two superstars of Americana, roots, and bluegrass music — show both artists coming home in ways that bring them full circle with their own artistic travels. Bush’s Circles Around Me is a return to the bluegrass and early progressive newgrass of his youth in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  The album opens with the title track, a tune that celebrates “being thankful that you’re here” according to Bush.  His terrific road band — Byron House on bass, Chris Brown on drums, the amazing Scott Vestal on banjo and Stephen Mougin on guitar — plays on the majority of the 14 tracks, stretching out their musical chops on tunes such as the instrumental Blue Mountain and the old New Grass Revival song Souvenir Bottles. This latter tune, along with Whisper My Name written by original NGR bassist Ebo Walker and featured on their very first album, brings Bush back to the band where he made his name and helped shape a whole new genre of music — Newgrass. …