FIVE THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT
June 26, 2018 | by Rusty Aceves
The first week of Summer Sessions 2018 is devoted to the bluegrass revival called “New Grass,” and the artist who bridged the music’s history and its future is singer, songwriter, and guitarist Del McCoury. He performs on 7/14 in a double bill with The Travelin’ McCourys, the band led by his sons Ronnie and Rob. Here’s are five important things to know about the man and his music.
- He made his Grand Ole Opry debut in 1963 at age 24 as a vocalist and guitarist with bluegrass innovator Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys. The experience with Monroe was instrumental in guiding McCoury’s career, with the pioneering Monroe changing McCoury’s instrument from banjo to guitar and discovering his gift as a vocalist.
- In 2010, McCoury was awarded the NEA National Heritage Fellowship for his contributions to American music — the highest honor bestowed on American folk and roots musicians.
- Though he has recorded prolifically, releasing nearly 30 albums since his 1968 debut including 14 with the Del McCoury Band, McCoury only became a full-time musician in the 1980s at the urging of his sons. He’s since shared the stage with Allison Krauss, Vince Gill, Steve Earle, Phish, and The String Cheese Incident, among others.
- He’s won GRAMMY Awards for Best Bluegrass Album twice, once for 2006’s The Company We Keep and again for 2013’s The Streets of Baltimore, and received eleven nominations. Additionally, McCoury won 31 awards from the American Bluegrass Music Association, including four consecutive “Entertainer of the Year” awards and four “Vocalist of the Year” nods.
- McCoury began the wildly popular DelFest bluegrass festival in 2008, held every year in Cumberland, Maryland. Performers have included Béla Fleck, Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers, Leftover Salmon, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, the Avett Brothers, Red Baraat, and fellow New Grass-American Roots Week performers David Grisman and Sam Bush.
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