Artist Profiles: Del McCoury

Del McCoury Band in 2008

Delano Floyd McCoury, Del McCoury, was born February 1, 1939 in Bakersfield in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. He grew up in York, Pennsylvania. Del played banjo in a series of local bluegrass bands in his hometown of York Pennsylvania and around the Baltimore area.

During a one-year stint as one of Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys in 1963, Monroe switched Del to guitar and pushed his talents as a vocalist. After touring all over the country with Monroe, Del joined the Golden State Boys in California. In 1967 he formed his own band Del McCoury & the Dixie Pals with whom he played and recorded for several years while working at jobs in logging and construction to support his family. That commitment to his family paid off in the late 1980s when Del started The Del McCoury Band with his two sons Ronnie and Rob on mandolin and banjo respectively.

In 1992 Del and his sons moved to Nashville and added bassist Mike Bubb and fiddler Jason Carter to the line-up. McCoury’s album A Deeper Shade of Blue won the International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) 1994 Album of the Year award and Del was named Entertainer of the Year. Their first effort with producer Jerry Douglas featured the top-ten hits “Cheek to Cheek With the Blues” and “True Love Never Dies.”

By 1996 they were the most popular bluegrass group. The CD stayed a total of seven months at the top of the bluegrass charts.  In 1996 and 1997 they won the IBMA Awards for Entertainer of the Year and Instrumental Band of the Year, along with Del’s fourth Male Vocalist award in 1996 two more Mandolin honors for Ronnie, two Bass Player of the Year awards for Mike Bub and 1997 Fiddle Player of the Year honors for Jason Carter.

The success of Cold Hard Fact and the band’s brilliant live performances began to attract fans outside of the core bluegrass audience. Cold Hard Facts made it into the top five of the Gavin Americana chart and the band attracted alternative rock and country fans at Austin’s South by Southwest Festival. Longtime fan Steve Earle invited the band to back him on his 1997 El Corazón release. And Del and the boys even made a great impression in dance clubs as members of the Groovegrass Boyz performing an exciting blend of funk and bluegrass along with Doc Watson, Mac Wiseman and Bootsy Collins.

Discography:

Del McCoury Sings Bluegrass (Arhoolie, 1968)

I Wonder Where You Are Tonight (Arhoolie, 1968)

Collector’s Special (Grassound, 1971)

Livin’ on the Mountain (Rebel, 1971)

High On A Mountain (Rounder 190, 1973)

Del McCoury and the Dixie Pals (Revonah, 1975)

Live in Japan (Copper Creek, 1980)

The McCoury Brothers (Rounder 230, 1987)

Don’t Stop The Music (Rounder 245, 1990)

Blue Side of Town (Rounder 292, 1992)

A Deeper Shade of Blue (Rounder 330, 1993)

The Cold Hard Facts (Rounder 363, 1996)

Mac, Doc & Del (Sugar Hill, 1998)

Family (Ceili Music, 1999)

Del & The Boys (Ceili Music, 2001)

It’s Just the Night (McCoury Music, 2003)

Classic Bluegrass with The Dixie Pals (2004)

High Lonesome and Blue (Rounder, 2004)

The Company We Keep (McCoury Music, 2005)

The Promised Land (McCoury Music, 2006)

Moneyland (McCoury Music, 2008)

By Request, Celebrating 50 Years (McCoury Music, 2009)

Celebrating 50 Years Of Del Mccoury, 5 CD boxed set (McCoury Music, 2009)

Family Circle (McCoury Music, 2009)

Old Memories : the Songs of Bill Monroe (McCoury Music, 2011)

American Legacies (McCoury Music, 2011)

The Streets of Baltimore (McCoury Music, 2013)

Del & Woody (McCoury Music, 2016)

Del McCroury & David Grisman (Acoustic Disc, 2016)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.

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