Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Gibson Brothers & Del McCoury Band in Washington, D.C.

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 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.

Caryn Mathis - WAMU General Manager

Katy Daley - Emcee

The Gibson Brothers

The concert opened with a spectacular set by the 2012 Entertainer of the Year The Gibson Brothers. From their selection as IBMA Emerging Artist of the Year in 1998, the Gibson Brothers have established an unparalleled record of excellence in which each of their last seven CD's has reached number one on the bluegrass charts, with their latest "Help My Brothers" being named IBMA and SPBGMA Album of the Year in 2011.  Their combination of close harmony, musical innovation, traditional influence, and inspired song writing cannot be equaled today. Both Leigh and Eric Gibson are distinguished song writers as well as wonderful interpreters of their own and others' work. Their song selection reflects a well-honed taste reflecting their careful nurturing of a distinctive band sound.  Their current band, featuring nineteen year veteran Mike Barber on bass, Clayton Campbell on fiddle, and Joe Walsh, whose understatedly brilliant mandolin style contributes endless variety to their performances, knows no musical peer today.  Their performance on Saturday was a well-balanced program of their music, featuring story songs, songs rooted in their rural roots in way upstate New York, as well as traditional covers of songs from a variety of genres.

Eric Gibson

 Leigh Gibson & Mike Barber

Clayton Cambell

 Joe Walsh

Lee Michael Demsey - Emcee

The Del McCoury Band

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.

Del McCoury

Rob & Ronnie McCoury

Rob McCoury

Jason Carter & Ronnie McCoury

 Alan Bartram
The Gospel Quartet

The Jam

Joe Walsh & Ronnie McCoury

Rob McCoury, Alan Bartram, Eric Gibson

Jason Carter & Clayton Campbell

Alan Bartram & Del McCoury

 Great Sound!

Lisner Auditorium is a wonderful venue for a bluegrass concert made more enjoyable for not having people beside us singing along with all the songs they've come to love or people behind us using the music for a background for their conversations, both regular occurrences at most festivals we attend. As we creep into winter, we look forward to some more concerts, but likely none will surpass this wonderful evening.

After Hours
Caryn Mathes, Del McCoury, Katy Daley, Eric Gibson

And Home to the Burbs via the Metro

 It was a great evening, and we are glad to have been included.