On Friday evening the Gibson Brothers and the Del McCoury Band performed at George Washington University's nearly sold out 1490 seat Lisner Auditorium in a concert celebrating WAMU's Bluegrass Country on its forty-five years of broadcasting bluegrass music, first to the District, then to several stations around the metropolitan area, and now streaming world wide. By choosing to present the nine-time IBMA Entertainer of the Year and the 2012 Entertainer of the Year, Bluegrass Country.org demonstrated its commitment to excellence and, by chance, offered a completely satisfying evening of the finest bluegrass music that can be had. From the introduction by WAMU's General Manager Caryn Mathes through the closing "Sunny Side of the Mountain" to the after-party at nearby Tonic, it was a magical evening.
Winner of almost uncountable numbers of IBMA Awards as well as having been nominated for nine Grammies and having won once, the Del McCoury Band has established an unmatched record of excellence. Entertainer of the Year at IBMA a record nine times, and instrumental group of the year twice, several members and former members of the band have also been named instrumental player of the year, with Ronnie McCoury having won Mandolin Player of the Year eight times. From the year Del spent as a Blue Grass Boy with Bill Monroe to his current eminence, he has established nearly a half century of excellence. Del's unmistakable high tenor voice and excellent rhythm guitar highlight a band that's characterized by both excellence and variety. While noted for their interpretations of Bill Monroe's songs, they have introduced song after song solely connected to their unique sound. Del's performance of 1952 Vincent Black Lightning must be one of the most requested songs of all time. He's entitled, these days, to forget a few lyrics as his voice remains undimmed and his charm unlimited. Characteristically, the band begins with a selection of songs from its latest release and past CD's before Del solicits requests. The requests are shouted out, and Del often "hears" the ones he might have placed on his set lists anyway while making the audience a part of the show. We always feel it an honor to get to hear the Del McCoury Band each time, and while the songs are familiar, its always fresh and new.