When: Sat., March 8, 7 & 10 p.m. 2014
Though bluegrass great Del McCoury, who recently turned 75, isn’t the road dog he used to be, on last year’s The Streets of Baltimore (McCoury Music) he and his crack quintet sound as fertile and soulful as ever. The band doesn’t try any new tricks, but considering the way it’s dominated the bluegrass scene for the past couple decades, it has no good reason to. As usual the group tackles unexpected material (the album includes a slightly mawkish version of the Erroll Garner standard “Misty”), but it’s at its best transforming old-school country into hard-core bluegrass. McCoury and company bring an almost spooky pensiveness to Verlon Thompson’s “I Need More Time,” slowing down the chorus to half speed as though they were trying to stop the clock; on a nifty spin through the Jerry Lee Lewis classic “Once More With Feeling,” they balance honky-tonk piano with spirited bluegrass improvisation, while McCoury departs from the Killer’s who-gives-a-fuck insouciance by pouring everything he’s got into his nasal singing. The band also delivers a spot-on cover of the title track—made famous by Bobby Bare and Gram Parsons—and dusts off its gospel shoes for an ebullient McCoury original called “Free Salvation.” Bassist Alan Bartram joined the group in 2005, but the rest of these guys—fiddler Jason Carter, mandolinist Ronnie McCoury, and banjoist Rob McCoury—have been playing together steadily since 1992. I can’t think of another bluegrass band this good that’s lasted so long. —Peter Margasak Early show is sold out.
Price: $38, $42 for premier, $48 for VIP