Bluegrass on Request

Kristy Mason

The stage of Van Meter Auditorium was covered with pieces of white paper.

It wasn’t litter.

Just the numerous requests for classic bluegrass songs.

Fans of The Del McCoury Band, an award-winning bluegrass group out of Nashville, filled every seat in Van Meter Auditorium Tuesday night.

The band’s show revolved around the songs written on the pieces of paper that were in front of them on stage.

The band members, who performed in a semicircle around one microphone, included Del McCoury, guitar and vocals; McCoury’s son Rob, banjo; other son Ronnie, mandolin; Mike Bub, bass; and Jason Carter, fiddle.

Each member would take turns going to the front and showing his instrumental skills.

The band was on stage for over two hours playing favorites that included “Count Me Out,” “Body and Soul,” “Just Because,” “Shady Grove,” “Nashville Cats,” and the most requested song, “1952 Vincent Black Lightening.”

The band made several attempts to talk and connect with the audience by making witty comments and jokes about Western and Bowling Green.

“We’re on the top of the world, right on the Hill,” Del McCoury joked at the beginning of the performance.

Many fans drove from all parts of the country for the opportunity to see the band’s first live performance in Bowling Green.

Jerry and Mel Anderson, a couple from Duncanville, Texas, came to Bowling Green while on their way to Nashville to see the performance.

“We planned our trip around this concert,” Jerry Anderson said. “If the concert was next week, then our trip would have been next week. We traveled 750 miles from Texas to see them.”

Philpot junior Julie Latham had a surprise Tuesday afternoon when her brother Josh and his friend Lee Mills showed up at her dorm.

Josh Latham and Mills, both seniors at the University of Kentucky, traveled to Bowling Green to talk Julie Latham into going to the concert.

“I knew I couldn’t pass it up because Del McCoury is legendary,” Josh Latham said.

Mills agreed.

“I’ve heard they were a really good band, so I drove three hours to get here,” he said. “I know I won’t be let down.”

Seth Sprouse of Bowling Green has been a fan for three years and eagerly awaited to see the band perform.

“They’ve won the international bluegrass award seven out of 13 times,” he said. “If you compare that to other music awards in any genre, that’s the equivalent of rock bands winning awards 80 percent of the time.”

Children showed their eagerness for the music by running down the aisles of the auditorium to the front of the stage to cheer and dance during the concert.

Nine-year-old Ben Brown of Bowling Green said his favorite member of The Del McCoury Band was fiddler Jason Carter.

“I’ve been playing the fiddle for seven months and want to be in a bluegrass band,” Brown said.

The band did not disappoint those who traveled far to see them. Throughout the performance, the audience nodded to the rhythm of the music with smiles, cheers and standing ovations.

“They’re awesome,” Mills said. “It takes a lot of talent to play the instruments and sing so well.”

The band is on the road 208 days out of the year. But despite the hard work that comes with the touring and travel, they enjoy the time they get to spend with each other.

Del McCoury’s wife Jean also attends every performance and sell souvenirs, such as hats, T-shirts, pictures, CDs, cassettes and bumper stickers, during the show.

“After all these years, it’s very exciting to watch my family on stage,” McCoury said. “You can tell just by watching, they all love what they’re doing. If I didn’t go with them, I wouldn’t be able to see my husband and my two sons.”

Members of the band all agree that there’s a feeling of family when they share their talents on stage together.

“It’s great because with Del you have the legendary bluegrass style with young members surrounding him,” Bub said. “We have a historical part of music with a foot of current bluegrass added.”

Del McCoury said he’s grateful the Lord blessed him with the opportunity to perform and do what he loves most.

“I’m so thankful that my sons took up music,” he said. “I never thought we would do this. I’m extremely blessed because not many dads these days get to see their sons every day.”

Reach Kristy Mason at [email protected]