New record label shapes Del McCoury’s latest era in music
Vail, CO, Colorado
COPPER MOUNTAIN ” At the suggestion of his manager, 68-year-old Del McCoury recently started his own record label, McCoury Music. Two albums later in 2006 he would win the Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album with “The Company We Keep.”
But bagging a win of this kind after a handful of nominations wasn’t the only benefit. Having his own label has afforded McCoury the freedom to record something he always wanted ” a gospel album. “The Promise Land” is his latest release.
Half of the record features the hymns of Albert Brumley.
“A lot of his songs written through the years, nobody ever recorded,” McCoury said. “It wound up being half of the gospel album.” In fact, he had nearly finished recording when Brumley’s son, who also lives in Nashville, gave McCoury’s son Ronnie a demo of the songs.
“We put some (others) aside, they were so great,” McCoury said.
McCoury Music is also putting out Merle Haggard’s bluegrass album in September, an album by Larry Sparks and also Ronnie’s all-bluegrass children’s CD, “Little Mo’ McCoury.”
Ronnie and Del’s other son Rob both play with the Del McCoury Band, which also includes Alan Batram and Jason Carter. Del hadn’t anticipated being a family band.
“For some reason I never really thought about these guys playing music,” he said. “They got to a certain age, like 9 years old ” that’s when I got interested in music ” playing instruments I had around the house and before you know it they were really getting good.
“When a musician would quit I would just bring them into the band.”
Ronnie plays mandolin and Rob started off with fiddle and banjo, and plays banjo in the band.
On stage, McCoury said they never play the same set twice.
“I don’t have any set program, I don’t have anything written down ” I do requests from the audience,” he said. “People request songs I recorded 30 years ago and I say, ‘You gotta expect that I may not remember all the words, but I’m going to try.
“I think it’s more interesting for me and the audience and the for the band because they never know what’s happening.”
McCoury’s earliest musical influence was listening to the father of bluegrass music, Bill Monroe, on the Grand Ole Opry radio show with his father and brother. Later in 1963 he would join Monroe’s band. In starting his own group, he never deviated from Monroe’s instrumentation of banjo, fiddle, mandolin, bass and guitar.
‘No one can really improve on what they did,” McCoury said referring to Monroe’s group in the 1940s which included Earl Scruggs, Lester Flatt and Chubby Wise.
He said working back then was a bit more of a struggle.
“It was hard traveling then, dates were not all that good. Today we are really flourishing in bluegrass music,” he said. “Those guys blazed the trail.”
Leslie Brefeld can be reached at (970) 668-4626 or email@example.com.