The Travelin' McCourys
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The Travelin' McCourys


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"SXSW REview: The Travelin' McCourys and the Lee Boys"

The Travelin’ McCourys took the stage Wednesday aimed and antsy — an hour early, no less — as if there was something to prove.

Of course, there was. The quintessential Nashville pickin’ outfit faced this unthinkable burden: What is the Del McCoury Band without its patriarch?

Answer: Equally exciting.

Mandolin ace Ronnie McCoury, who acts, sings and looks so uncannily like his father, fits naturally as this side project’s leader. He certainly shares Del’s buoyant and charming stage presence. The music might be serious business — folks, pick up a guitar or banjo and just try to keep up (good luck) — but Ronnie slays himself cracking wise plenty, too. “This one’s from a bluegrass songwriter named Robert Zimmerman,” he likes to say by way of introducing “Walk Out in the Rain.” “He’s better known as Bob Dylan.”

The Travelin’ McCourys mine landscapes with predictably woeful confessions — “It’s a shame I fell in love with a knocked up beauty queen,” Ronnie sings gleefully — but this quintet electrifies its message. Literally: Scorched-earth instrumentals like “Lonesome Road Blues” and the empty-hearted lament “Lonesome Feeling” quaked on the roll of an electric bass. Call it bluegrass for the new millennium. Bassist Alan Bartam’s exclamation drove home the modernization: “Check us out on Myspace!”

The Lee Boys doubled down. “We’re up here jammin’ with the McCourys,” singer Keith Lee howled as the Florida band joined the stage. “So, call it bluegrass or whatever you want. Talk about pickin’ on stage!” Make way for combustible instrumentals. Even better, the McCourys and Lee Boys — whose tight secular hymnals bringing to mind Robert Randolph and the Family Band — turned Smokin’ Music into heavenly eruption on “Celebrate.”

Good news, Austinites: Look for both bands at Old Settler’s next month.
- Austin Chronicle


Still working on that hot first release.



Ron McCoury on mandolin, Rob McCoury on banjo, Jason Carter on fiddle, and Alan Bartram on bass , with featured guests on guitar and vocals, is the latest incarnation of the most awarded band in the history of bluegrass -The Del McCoury Band. Known for their individual prowess on their instruments and their rapidly expanding reputation as collaborators with the members of numerous musical icons from Vince Gill to the Allman Brothers and Phish, this touring unit blends the best of the Appalachian tradition with the improvisational magic of jazz. Unique live collaborations are the hallmark of their performances, and demonstrates why critics and musicians across the country hail them as the best bluegrass band in the world.