Del McCoury

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Del McCoury has one of those high tenor voices that seems to be enriched, rather than undermined, by age. Although you'd never mistake him for a youngster, he can still let the high notes fly with the confidence of a singer half his age. And in collaboration with his mandolin-playing son Ronnie, he has built a top-notch traditional bluegrass band that manages to keep itself firmly rooted in the verities while still conducting such (largely successful) experiments as collaborating with punk-country icon Steve Earle and recording songs by commercial folkie John Sebastian. The band's latest finds McCoury covering Bill Monroe ("Get Down on Your Knees and Pray") and Jimmy Martin ("She's Left Me Again"), as well as the aforementioned Sebastian (the cute and clever "Nashville Cats"), and delivering a few fine originals as well. Highlights include Ronnie McCoury's vinegary instrumental "Red Eyes on a Mad Dog" and a great version of Verlon Thompson' s "Backslidin' Blues," not to mention the group's spookily beautiful rendition of "Get Down on Your Knees and Pray."

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