More Proof of Greatness

The Company We Keep (Sugar Hill)

The Del McCoury Band

By Bob Mitchell

There is a reason Del McCoury's band has received more IBMA awards than any other bluegrass band, they are flat out good. This year's nominations included Instrumental Group of the Year, Entertainer of The Year, Banjo Player of the Year (Rob McCoury), Mandolin Player of The Year (Ronnie McCoury), Fiddle Player of the Year (Jason Carter) and Bass Player of The Year (Mike Bub).

Del and the boys were the closing act at the 2005 IBMA Friday night fan fest and I was fortunate enough to be watching from the wings. A large and enthusiastic audience would not let them leave the stage and many of the songs they did were from this project. If you were not there, listening to this CD is a great way to experience what you missed. If you were there, listening to it will let you relive the moment.

As with all previous releases, this one is a showcase for authentic bluegrass and an outstanding group of musicians. The songs literally jump off the disc, especially Ronnie's instrumental, "Seventh Heaven." Ronnie's mandolin work coupled with Jason Carter's fiddle are extraordinary.

Every track is a strong contribution to the bluegrass catalog, but one of my favorites is Del's vocal on "When It Stops Hurtin'" (with a first rate bass line from this year's IBMA bass player of the year, Mike Bub.) Another Del highlight is the straight-ahead arrangement of "Blown Away and Gone" with phenomenal support from Rob's banjo and Carter's fiddle. It will leave you breathless. Rob's banjo is also noteworthy on "Untamed."

This is a must-have CD for McCoury fans as well as newcomers to the field of bluegrass. On a five-point scale of excellence, this release merits a five.

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