Doyle Lawson has played professionally for five decades and led his own band for more than three. His early years were with Jimmy Martin, a staunch traditionalist, and the Country Gentlemen, a group beloved by many even when they sometimes stretched the limits of Monroe-style music.
Lawson sometimes pushes the limits, too. His song selection is usually not controversial, although inclusion of songs like Dixie Roads (a 1985 hit for Lee Greenwood) will cause a snort from some bluegrass hardliners, but adding a "percussionist" to the band was widely questioned. Some fans even saw a drum on stage! And his use of an electric bass (he's long used an acoustic bass guitar in his shows) isn't always liked. Electric bassists in bluegrass are sometimes like bulls in a china shop, more licks than taste. But, drums and Fender basses aside, he's still loved and a crowd-pleaser wherever he goes.
He touches some heartstrings with this CD. Say Hello To Heaven is a song about a man who has lost his wife, killed in a car wreck that wasn't her fault.
Won't you say hello to heaven for us
Tell Jesus we're not mad...
How Do You Say Goodby To Sixty Years is another, the story of a man whose wife has died after six decades of marriage. If you've noticed the amount of gray hair at a festival, you'll know many people can relate to this one. In the same vein, When Love Is All You Want is the story of a woman who depends on her husband for years and is lost when he dies, but eventually he comes one last time to take her to heaven. One Small Miracle is loss of a different kind, a woman no longer in love with her husband, him asking for one small miracle to change her mind. The King, on the other hand is a common working man, good at some things, not so much at others, but his wife makes him feel like a king when he's home.
Fiddlin' Will (from Jim & Jesse McReynolds) is the story of their fiddling uncle and is as traditional as they come, as is Dobro Joe, the story of an old Dobro player who "couldn't hold the slide, so he taped it to his hand."
This CD has something for everyone. It's Hard To Be Forgotten is a brisk number with a catchy hook: "It's hard to be forgotten by the one you can't forget." The lone instrumental, By The Waters of the Clinch (a tribute to Lawson's youth) demonstrates the abilities of the band. The bass playing is tasteful, and most people won't be able to tell you if there's any percussion on the tracks. What's missing, a gospel number, is surprising given his usual inclusion of gospel music in his CDs and shows.
Fifty years and another notch in the record of his legacy. DLQ is still going strong.