Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
he Del McCoury Band may be a bluegrass mainstay, but when Del isn't touring with his band, a subset is. The Travelin' McCourys are the legitimate offspring of DMB, and they certainly have learned their lessons well.
The Travelin' McCourys is comprised of two of Del's sons, Ronnie on mandolin and lead vocals, and Rob on banjo plus upright bassist Alan Bartram, Jason Carter on fiddle and Cody Kilby on acoustic. Kilby is the only band member not in Del's band.
As excellent as the Del McCoury Band is, The Travelin' McCourys are not far behind - if at all. Every player knew a thing or two about playing. Rob may have been the most subtle - and he didn't take any vocals - but he surely added to the texture of the music.
Carter was a master on fiddle and gave a country feel to the songs both with his playing and singing.
Bartram also assumed lead vocals when Ronnie wasn't typically at the helm, and the variety only underscored the diversity of the band. Bartram did a particularly good turn read of Dire Straits' "Walk of Life," an interesting choice in and of itself to do bluegrass style.
Carter, Bartram and Ronnie McCoury at times would weigh in with gorgeous three-part harmonies.
The music was not of the backwoods bluegrass variety, but far more forceful. That was perhaps most obvious on the opening song of the encore, Waylon Jennings' "Lonesome, Orn'ry and Mean," which also featured the opening act, Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen. What a pleasure to hear so many top-notch musicians breath fire into the song.
Ditto for their take on The Band's "The Shape I'm In."
Solivan and band opened with an excellent set of their own. The D.C.-based group is fronted by Solivan, a fine mandolin player in his own right, but like the Travelin' McCourys, this is a very very skilled band. Mike Munford (banjo), Chris Luquette (guitar), and Jeremy Middleton (electric bass) all were given numerous chances to shine.
Similar to the headliners, Solivan and band spread it around when it came both to the music and vocals. Let's put it this way - there were no slouches at all for either band.
They have learned their lessons. The one-two combo of Solivan and Dirty Kitchen and The Travelin' McCourys delivered a musical knockout.