Even if the Del McCoury Band didn't repeat a single song over the course of its two-night stand at the Barns on Tuesday and Wednesday, this act would not run out of fresh material to keep bluegrass fans happy.
McCoury, a guitar legend in the fast-picking musical style, has been playing and recording for more than 40 years. He has performed as a solo artist and led bands such as the Dixie Pals and his current eponymous team. Add in guest sessions, compilations and tribute CDs and McCoury's the kind of guy whose complete catalog could make your iPod scream uncle.
The man born Delano Floyd McCoury in Bakersville, N.C., almost 67 years ago was turned on to the high lonesome sound when he was just 11 and heard Earl Scruggs for the first time. He taught himself three-finger banjo by copying the vinyl 78 rpm records he loved and then played in Baltimore area honky-tonks with Keith Daniels and the Blue Ridge Ramblers, the Franklin County Boys and Jack Cooke's Virginia Playboys. It was while working with the latter that McCoury caught the ear of superstar Bill Monroe, who brought him on board to play guitar and sing as one of his Blue Grass Boys in 1963.
After a brief stint with Monroe, McCoury took a nearly two-decade detour to raise a family in Pennsylvania, working in construction and logging while playing and recording on a more erratic schedule, including solo albums, as one of the Shady Valley Boys and ultimately as leader of the Dixie Pals, a group that launched McCoury to his current acclaim.
In 1981, Del's son Ronnie, then 13, began playing mandolin with the Dixie Pals. Another son, Rob, joined six years later, first on bass, then on banjo. Jason Carter plays fiddle. Until bassist Alan Bartram replaced Mike Bub earlier this year, the lineup hadn't changed in more than 12 years.
But the name did change, to the current appellation, and in 1992 the Del McCoury Band relocated to Nashville and began recording albums including "Blue Side of Town" (1992) and "Cold Hard Facts" (1996), considered modern classics of the bluegrass style. The Del McCoury Band's latest album, "The Company We Keep," was released this year.
Honored as entertainers of the year eight times by the International Bluegrass Music Association, McCoury and company have done their part to bring traditional music to a broader audience. Collaborations with the jam bands Phish and Leftover Salmon, plus outlaw country rocker Steve Earle, have brought the classic bluegrass sound to a younger generation of fans, so don't be surprised if there are a few tie-dyed "Del-Heads" in the Wolf Trap audience.
And if they're not available at the Wolf Trap merchandise booth, head over to the band's official Web site (www.delmccouryband.com) for a chance to buy the limited edition Del McCoury bobblehead, individually signed and numbered by the master himself!
-- MARIANNE MEYER
The Barns of Wolf Trap, a 352-seat theater, is at 1635 Trap Rd. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased at the Barns box office, by calling Tickets.com at 703-218-6500 or online at www.wolftrap.org. For more information, call Wolf Trap at 703-938-2404 or visit the Web site.
Don't be blue. Send a Live! suggestion to email@example.com. Those wishing to snail-mail press materials are advised to write first for the correct address.