May 30, 2018
Del McCoury, Travelin’ McCourys Release New Records, DelFest 2018 Highlights
May 30, 2018 — Even among the pantheon of music’s finest artists, Del McCoury stands alone. From the nascent sound of bluegrass that charmed hardscrabble hillbilly honkytonks, rural schoolhouse stages, and the crowning glory of the Grand Ole Opry to the present-day culture-buzz of viral videos and digital streams, Del is the living link. From headlining sold-out concerts to music festivals of all genres, including one carrying his namesake, there is Del. Where audiences number in the tens of thousands, and admirers as diverse as country-rock icon Steve Earle and jamband royalty Phish count as two among hundreds, there is Del. On May 25th (the same weekend as the 11th annual all-star DelFest event) Del McCoury released his new album Del McCoury Still Sings Bluegrass (the album title is a nod to his 1968 record, Del McCoury Sings Bluegrass ) . On Sunday, NPR’s Weekend Edition aired an interview with Del and his son Ronnie to discuss the latest release and to talk in detail about DelFest. Listen here . Also on May 25th, The Travelin’ McCourys (Ronnie McCoury on mandolin, Rob McCoury on banjo, with fiddler Jason Carter, bassist Alan Bartram, and latest recruit Cody Kilby on guitar) released their debut self-titled record . Both bands played multiple times at DelFest — epic release shows to say the least.
DelFest, in its 11th year, is the highlight of Memorial Day Weekend for both attending fans and musicians, fest-veteran Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show mentioning during a press conference that the band always looks forward to Memorial Day in beautiful Cumberland, MD. Notable performances from this year’s festival include: Rhiannon Giddens, The Dawg Trio, Fruition, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Mandolin Orange, Greensky Bluegrass, The Infamous Stringdusters, Rising Appalachia, Richard Thompson, Billy Strings and Bryan Sutton, Sam Bush Band, Sierra Hull, The Jerry Douglas Band, The Wood Brothers and a rowdy festival close-out set by Old Crow Medicine show. For a full list of performances, please click here.
Del McCoury’s Bluegrass Congress was called to order on Saturday, May 26th, and featured the McCourys along with all-star musicians Ricky Skaggs, David Grisman, Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Bryan Sutton and Stuart Duncan . The exclusive Congress invite (hand written on parchment paper) was mailed in July 2017 by Del himself, inviting the select group of artists to join him in making musical history– a collaboration that only could have happened at DelFest. The importance of the Congress is layered, a varied significance appealing to fans in specific ways. For fans with connections to Cumberland, MD, or those with an affinity for our nation’s history, the physical location of the Congress is paramount.
When George Washington made three memorable journeys to Western Maryland between 1748 and 1756, the Declaration of Independence was still 20 years away. What happened to Washington between age 17 and 24 in Maryland sowed the seeds for his heroic role in the creation of our nation. First as a teenage surveyor, then a Colonel in the Virginia Militia, and ultimately as an aide to ill-fated British General Edward Braddock, Washington participated in the pivotal battles and political events of the French and Indian War. He came to understand that the monetary interests of his family, the crown and the proprietor governors of the British Colonies were one in the same, and that wars were being fought not for freedom, but for wealth.
Cumberland, MD, the home of DelFest, was the last place in which Washington served a British King. When he returned in 1794 to Fort Cumberland one last time, nearly 40 years later, the Revolution had been fought and won and he was the President of the United States.
So, it is very fitting that Del McCoury, the living and thriving leader of the DelFest Nation, would host a revolutionary gathering of the greats of bluegrass here in Maryland Mountains — where important seeds of the American Revolution were sown, over 250 years ago.
With two record releases and a major music festival all in the month of May, it’s clear how important the McCourys are to so many — both within the bluegrass genre and outside of it, the varied festival lineup pointing to Del’s legacy across formats. What’s next for Del? He’s looking forward to playing Bonnaroo, Telluride, San Francisco Jazz Festival, the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN , and more. Check his website (linked below) for a full tour schedule. The Travelin’ McCourys are also hitting the road this summer with stops at some of music’s best festivals (tour dates listed on their website, linked below), with show dates mixed in, too.