The Wheeler Opera House and Wheeler Associates will present a legendary bluegrass mainstay The Del McCoury Band on Wednesday, December 6 at 7:30 p.m. For fifty years, Del McCoury’s music has defined authenticity for hardcore bluegrass fans as well as a growing number of fans among those only vaguely familiar with the genre. McCoury has built a songbook filled with classics remade in his own image and a growing number of originals-songs like “High On A Mountain,” “Are You Teasing Me,” “Dark Hollow,” “Bluest Man In Town,” “Rain And Snow,” “Good Man Like Me, “Rain Please Go Away” and more. Tickets are $40 (Wheeler Wins! member pricing available) and are available now at the Wheeler Opera House Box Office (970.920.5770/ aspenshowtix.com). The Wheeler Opera House is located at 320 E. Hyman Ave., Aspen, CO.
Executive Director of the Wheeler Gena Buhler commented, “We are very excited to be kicking off our Winter concert series with one of our oldest partners Wheeler Associates. The Associates have for many years been so support to the Wheeler and our programs. Del is a classic to the Wheeler stage, and I hope all of our bluegrass fans will come out for the show!”
Born in York County, PA seventy years ago, Del McCoury would once have seemed an unlikely candidate for legendary status. Bitten hard by the bluegrass bug when he heard Earl Scruggs’ banjo in the early 50s-“everybody else was crazy about Elvis, but I loved Earl,” he says with a chuckle-McCoury became a banjo picker himself, working in the rough but lively Baltimore and D.C. bar scene into the early 1960s. He got his first taste of the limelight when he joined Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys in early 1963; the Father of Bluegrass moved McCoury from the banjo to guitar, made him his lead singer, and gave him a lifetime’s worth of bluegrass tutelage direct from the source in the course of little more than a year. But rather than parlay his gig with the master into a full-time career of his own, he returned to Pennsylvania in the mid-60s to provide steady support for his new and growing family.
Within a few years, McCoury had settled into work in the logging industry-and formed his own band, the Dixie Pals. For the next decade and a half, he piloted the group through a part-time career built mostly around weekend appearances at bluegrass festivals and recordings for labels ranging from the short-lived and obscure to roots music institutions like Arhoolie and Rounder Records. And while there were the inevitable personnel changes and struggles to contend with, McCoury was also building a songbook filled with classics remade in his own image and a growing number of originals-songs like “High On A Mountain,” “Are You Teasing Me,” “Dark Hollow,” “Bluest Man In Town,” “Rain And Snow,” “Good Man Like Me, “Rain Please Go Away” and more-that would become an important part of his legacy in years to come.
“If Bill Monroe is the father of Bluegrass, Del McCoury is surely the son,” stated Josh Behrman, Wheeler Associates board member. “We share in the excitement with the Wheeler Opera House kicking off the winter with legendary status such as Del.”
For more about this and other events at the Wheeler, visit www.wheeleroperahouse.com.