Friday brought the bluegrass faithful out for a rousing night of old school entertainment by the Del McCoury Band at a packed Music Box Supper Club. God bless the 76-years-young band leader who just relished in the appreciative audience all night long.
Using a traditional two mic set-up, the band members walked in and out of the spotlight, playing leads and fills throughout the 22-song set. And what a group of players they are, with Del McCoury (guitar), Rob McCoury (banjo), Ronnie McCoury (mandolin), Jason Carter (fiddle), and Alan Bartram (upright bass) cooking with gas all night long.
For over 50 years, McCoury's music has defined authenticity for hardcore bluegrass fans as well as those new to the genre. With the boys wearing suits, the white-haired, dashing gentleman Del, dressed in a sport coat and slacks, was grinning and smiling as he introduced songs and took requests from the crowd.
The band opened with “Travelin’ Teardrop Blues,” then went into the crowd pleasing “That’s Alright Mama,” “Bluegrass Breakdown,” and “Nashville Cats,” before the instrumental “Cotton Eyed Joe.” The meat of the set included “You Win Again,” “High on a Mountain,” “Big Blue Raindrops,” “Blackjack County Chains,” “Asheville Turnaround,” and a murder balled titled “Henry Walker.”
Highlights included the Lefty Frizzell classic “If You Got the Money I Got the Time,” “I Need More Time,” the instrumental “Rawhide,” and “What Made Milwaukee Famous,” before the band finally got around to the most requested number of the evening: “1952 Vincent Black Lightening.”
Special guest guitarist Evan McCoury came out to join in on the last few songs “Get Down on Your Knees and Pray,” “All Aboard,” “It’s Just the Night,” and a blazing finish of “My Love Will Not Change”.
Opening the show was a group of veteran local players called the Clear Fork Bluegrass Quartet. Most of these cats -- Paul Kovac (guitar), James Metz (bango), Bill Lestock (mandolin), and Bill Watson (upright bass) -- are pretty well-known, performing in other bands which have been mentioned in previous ND stories. They were lucky enough to use McCoury’s mic set-up (as long as they didn’t touch them) and were the perfect opening act. They delivered takes on Merle Haggard’s “My Own Kind of Hat,” Bill Monroe’s “My Dying Bed,” and Buddy Holly’s “Blue Days, Black Nights.”