Dobro master Jerry Douglas opens Underground Sound concert series in Beaver Creek
If You go
What: Jerry Douglas, dobro master, opens this year’s Underground Sound series
Where: Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek
When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday
Cost: $35, or $100 for an Underground Sound Series pass.
Jerry Douglas has been a musical road warrior for 40 years and is glad to be anywhere.
On Sunday, Douglas and his band will be glad to be in the Vilar Performing Arts Center to open this year’s Underground Series.
Douglas has been with Allison Kraus and Union Station since 1998, with whom he has recorded and produced a string of Platinum albums. They were here in July.
He loves playing with Kraus, but his own stuff is, well … different.
“We’re louder and more raucous. We don’t have those smooth edges,” Douglas said. “It’s more what comes out of my head.”
It’s more instrumental and he sings more.
“Singing and playing and grinning my face off,” he said of the plan for Sunday’s show.
He likes a thing done well, which is why he doesn’t vary his set list all that much.
“The problem with changing your set list is that you don’t learn it very well. We’re not always entirely sure what will happen. We’ll just be in tune and have fun.”
Lovin’ the road
Douglas has been at this 40 years. He started traveling and playing when he was 16. He says he still loves the road and has no plans to slow down, both musically and metaphorically.
“It takes me a little longer to get over things than it used to, but I still do them anyway,” he said. “There are lot of things I did I wouldn’t do again. I went there, bought the ticket and a return ticket. And I’m back with all my brain cells intact.”
And it’s still about the music.
“Music is more fun than it was back then. The bar is a lot higher and I push myself harder,” he said.
They’re finishing this tour in Japan at the end of October.
“We like to say the music is free, but we charge by the mile,” Douglas said.
They played the Strawberry Festival in Yosemite, Calif., a week and a half ago. They were in New York City with Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi last weekend. This weekend they’re in Beaver Creek.
“The Vilar Center is a good place to play. You can get loud in there and it sounds good. You can be soft and it still sounds good,” he said.
It’s a good life and Douglas says he wouldn’t trade it.
“I’ve put four kids through college with a dobro – that’s my legacy. Me and my dobro, my kids and music we’ve made,” he said. “I started putting kids through college and I couldn’t stop. It’s taken me a bunch of places I couldn’t have gone as a guitar player.”
Why the dobro, bro?
Of all the ways to make music in this world, why a dobro?
“I heard Lyle Graves play with the Flatt & Scruggs band and that was it,” Douglas said.
He grew up in Warren, Ohio, a small steel town in the northwest part of the state, near Cleveland.
He and his dad listened to music in the mornings, which seemed pretty normal to them.
“I now realize it’s kind of odd to listen to music in the morning,” Douglas said.
If the weather was good they could get an AM radio station that played music like Flatt & Scruggs — bluegrass. Douglas was listening to Cleveland rock stations at the same time.
“That slide blues thing glued them together. The more I tried it, the more I liked it. It got me and I just lived with it. I couldn’t get enough,” Douglas said.
The dobro’s Jimi Hendrix
The New York Times called Douglas “dobro’s matchless contemporary master.” Think what you want of the New York Times, but they’re correct in Douglas’ case.
Click on the video with the online version of this story to check out Douglas covering Hendrix’ “Hey Joe.”
Douglas has won 13 Grammy Awards, played on more than 1,500 albums, including releases by Garth Brooks, Paul Simon, James Taylor, Elvis Costello, Earl Scruggs and Ray Charles, among dozens of others.
Just last week Douglas released two collaborative projects on Rounder Records, “The Earls of Leicester” (pronounced “lester), an all-star band of bluegrass & roots music compatriots — Jerry Douglas, Shawn Camp, Johnny Warren, Charlie Cushman, Barry Bales and Tim O’Brien — paying homage to the legendary Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs. For the second project, “Three Bells,” Douglas teamed up with Rob Ickes of Blue Highway and Mike Auldridge of Seldom Scene for an historic dobro summit.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or email@example.com.
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