Del McCoury Band - 10pm show - 3/8
at City Winery Chicago
It’s a long way from his apprenticeship in those Baltimore honky tonks in the late 1950s to his stature as the ultimate bluegrass ambassador today, but Del McCoury’s negotiated the path with enough perseverance, humility, good humor, adventurousness—not to mention talent and enthusiasm—to last a lifetime. Along the way, he’s earned not just the applause, but the passionate devotion of fans ranging from old-timers who remember those early days to country aficionados drawn in by his collaborations with Dierks Bentley, Charlie Daniels and Vince Gill to tie-dye-clad youngsters who’ve just learned about him from hearing artists like Phish and the Yonder Mountain String Band rave about—and perform—his music.
And lest you think that the open-mindedness that’s led McCoury into so many surprising collaborations and contexts comes from the younger generation, heed the words of Ronnie McCoury, who says of The Streets Of Baltimore, “That one’s all Dad’s!” And indeed, with sons Ronnie and Rob and their Del McCoury Band colleagues Jason Carter and Alan Bartram spending more time touring as The Travelin’ McCourys, the job of choosing songs for the album fell squarely on Del’s shoulders—and judging by the results, it’s clear that Del McCoury’s as creatively inspired as ever.
Where the Del McCoury Band’s last two projects—2012’s tribute to Bill Monroe (Old Memories) and 2011’s collaboration with the Preservation Hall Band, American Legacies —were built around themes, The Streets Of Baltimore shows McCoury and his award-winning band at their most relaxed and free-form. “I just put together a group of songs that I liked,” says Del. “And then we got into the studio and tried to make them sound good!”
The Streets Of Baltimore is a masterful performance—exactly what one would expect from a close-knit, supremely talented group led by a man universally acknowledged as a national treasure. It’s a long way from the streets of Baltimore to where Del McCoury’s music has taken him these days, but today, just as he was then, Del McCoury is right where he needs—and wants—to be.