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Del McCoury et al are winners, again

By Jon Weisberger, December 1997

Page 2...

Those changes are, of course, part of the McCoury Band's magic and part of what's brought the widespread acclaim of the last several years.

The group has not only made frequent appearances on the Grand Ole Opry - "the Opry has really been good to me," he offers with typical modesty - but has been able to reach beyond the usual bluegrass audience into new territory.

"Bluegrass is becoming more popular - I've seen it," says Del. "I remember how, back in the 1950's, Flatt & Scruggs started to get hot, and I can see the same kind of thing happening now."

McCoury attributes the style's entry into new arenas to several causes. "The Americana format has helped," he says. "We're playing some new places, especially in the winter - blues clubs, for example. And we're spending more time in areas we haven't been to much before; we played at Central Park in New York this summer, we've played The Bottom Line. Up in Boston, we played at the (Berklee College) Of Music; the last time there was bluegrass in that hall was back when Flatt & Scruggs and the Lilly Brothers played there. So it seems like more people are hearing our kind of music and enjoying it."

Another factor, and one that he's enthusiastic about, is the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA). "I think that's helped a lot, don't you?" he asks. "You have to have organization, and bluegrass has never really had that before. If you look at country music, its popularity really started to grow after the Country Music Association was organized, and it seems like that might be starting to happen with bluegrass."

Yet another project with the potential to reach new audiences is Scott Rouse's "GrooveGrass," which has had some success in bringing bluegrass sounds to dance clubs with a bluegrass-plus-big-beats version of the Macarena.

"Scott and Ronnie work together a lot," McCoury says, "and they got this idea for bridging the gap between the old and the new. They talked to Bill Monroe, and he was going to do something; he thought it was a good idea to get kids interested in bluegrass. They asked me to do something, and I agreed."

An entire album by the GrooveGrass Boyz - Del, Doc Watson and Mac Wiseman, with backup from members of Del's group and the Osborne Brothers' band and a special appearance by funkster Bootsy Collins - has been completed and should be released in the spring of 1998.

In addition to GrooveGrass cuts, the project features two straight-ahead bluegrass numbers from the Del McCoury Band.

What else is in the works? "I'd like to do a live album," says McCoury. "We're thinking about material now and trying to decide on a place to record it."

Beyond that, he seems to be just enjoying the opportunities his growing fame is bringing his way, meeting new audiences and bringing that special, award-winning brand of McCoury music to the world.

"There are so many different kinds of people who enjoy bluegrass," he notes. "Really educated people, and then people who are just as country as can be. If we can entertain them all, I guess we must be doing something right."

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